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Motion for Reconsideration and Motion for Partial Reconsideration denied.

Webb nor his co-accused brought up the matter of preserving the specimen in the
Note.Where the Bureau of Lands, a specialized government agency meantime.
tasked to determine the classification of parcels of land, has already certified Criminal Law; Alibis and Denials; Judges; Impartiality; Not all denials and alibis
that the subject land is untenanted, the Supreme Court must accord such should be regarded as fabricatedindeed, if the accused is truly innocent, he can have
no other defense but denial and alibi; A judge must keep an open mind, guarding
conclusions great respect, if not finality, in the absence of evidence to the
against slipping into hasty conclusion, often arising from a desire to quickly finish the
contrary. (Jeremias vs. Estate of the Late Irene P. Mariano, 566 SCRA 539 job of deciding a casea positive declaration from a witness that he saw the accused
[2008]) commit the crime should not automatically cancel out the accuseds claim that he did
o0o not do it; A lying witness can make as positive an identification as a truthful witness
G.R. No. 176389. December 14, 2010.* can.The trial court and the Court of Appeals are one in rejecting as weak Webbs
ANTONIO LEJANO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, alibi. Their reason is uniform: Webbs alibi cannot stand against Alfaros positive
respondent. identification of him as the rapist and killer of Carmela and, apparently, the killer as well
G.R. No. 176864. December 14, 2010.* of her mother and younger sister. Because of this, to the lower courts, Webbs denial
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, and alibi were fabricated. But not all denials and alibis should be regarded as
ANTONIO LEJANO, MICHAEL A. GATCHALIAN, HOSPICIO FERNANDEZ, fabricated. Indeed, if the accused is truly innocent, he can have no other defense but
MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, PETER ESTRADA and GERARDO BIONG, appellants. denial and alibi. So how can such accused penetrate a mind that has been made
Criminal Procedure; Due Process; Legal Research; Webb is not entitled to cynical by the rule drilled into his head that a defense of alibi is a hangmans noose in
acquittal for the failure of the State to produce the semen specimen at this late stage; the face of a witness positively swearing, I saw him do it.? Most judges believe that
The ruling in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), that he cites has long been such assertion automatically dooms an alibi which is so easy to fabricate. This quick
overtaken by the decision in Arizona v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 41 (1988), where the stereotype thinking, however, is distressing. For how else can the truth that the accused
U.S. Supreme Court held that due process does not require the State to preserve the is really innocent have any chance of prevailing over such a stone-cast tenet? There is
semen specimen although it might be useful to the accused unless the latter is able to only one way. A judge must keep an open mind. He must guard against slipping into
show bad faith on the part of the prosecution or the police.Still, Webb is not entitled hasty conclusion, often arising from a desire to quickly finish the job of deciding a case.
to acquittal for the failure of the State to produce the semen specimen at this late stage. A positive declaration from a witness that he saw the accused commit the crime should
For one thing, the ruling in Brady v. Maryland that he cites has long been overtaken by not automatically cancel out the accuseds claim that he did not do it. A lying witness
the decision in Arizona v. Youngblood, where the U.S. Supreme Court held that can make as positive an identification as a truthful witness can. The lying witness can
_______________ also say as forthrightly and unequivocally, He did it! without blinking an eye.106
106 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
* EN BANC.
105
Lejano vs. People
Same; Same; Witnesses; The positive identification must meet at least two
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 105
criteriafirst, the positive identification of the offender must come from a credible
Lejano vs. People witness, and, second, the witness story of what she personally saw must be believable,
due process does not require the State to preserve the semen specimen not inherently contrived.Rather, to be acceptable, the positive identification must
although it might be useful to the accused unless the latter is able to show bad faith on meet at least two criteria: First, the positive identification of the offender must come
the part of the prosecution or the police. Here, the State presented a medical expert from a credible witness. She is credible who can be trusted to tell the truth, usually
who testified on the existence of the specimen and Webb in fact sought to have the based on past experiences with her. Her word has, to one who knows her, its weight in
same subjected to DNA test. For, another, when Webb raised the DNA issue, the rule gold. And second, the witness story of what she personally saw must be believable,
governing DNA evidence did not yet exist, the country did not yet have the technology not inherently contrived. A witness who testifies about something she never saw runs
for conducting the test, and no Philippine precedent had as yet recognized its into inconsistencies and makes bewildering claims.
admissibility as evidence. Consequently, the idea of keeping the specimen secure even Same; Same; Same; Police assets are often criminals themselves.Here, as
after the trial court rejected the motion for DNA testing did not come up. Indeed, neither already fully discussed above, Alfaro and her testimony fail to meet the above criteria.
She did not show up at the NBI as a spontaneous witness bothered by her conscience.
She had been hanging around that agency for sometime as a stool pigeon, one paid of Foreign Affairs, merely validated the arrival and departure stamps of the U.S.
for mixing up with criminals and squealing on them. Police assets are often criminals Immigration office on Webbs passportthey have the same evidentiary valueand,
themselves. She was the prosecutions worst possible choice for a witness. Indeed, the officers who issued these certifications need not be presented in court to testify on
her superior testified that she volunteered to play the role of a witness in the Vizconde them.The U.S. Immigration certification and the computer print-out of Webbs arrival
killings when she could not produce a man she promised to the NBI. in and departure from that country were authenticated by no less than the Office of the
Same; Same; Alibi; Requisites.To establish alibi, the accused must prove by U.S. Attorney General and the State Department. Still the Court of Appeals refused to
positive, clear, and satisfactory evidence that (a) he was present at another place at accept these documents for the reason that Webb failed to present in court the
the time of the perpetration of the crime, and (b) that it was physically impossible for immigration official who prepared the same. But this was unnecessary. Webbs
him to be at the scene of the crime. passport is a document issued by the Philippine government, which under international
Same; Same; If one is cynical about the Philippine system, he could probably practice, is the official record of travels of the citizen to whom it is issued. The entries
claim that Webb, with his fathers connections, can arrange for the local immigration to in that passport are presumed true. The U.S. Immigration certification and computer
put a March 9, 1991 departure stamp on his passport and an October 27, 1992 arrival print-out, the official certifications of which have been authenticated by the Philippine
stamp on the same.If one is cynical about the Philippine system, he could probably Department of Foreign Affairs, merely validated the arrival and departure stamps of the
claim that Webb, with his fathers connections, can arrange for the local immigration to U.S. Immigration office on Webbs passport. They have the same evidentiary value.
put a March 9, 1991 departure stamp on his passport and an October 27, 1992 arrival The officers who issued these certifications need not be presented in court to testify on
stamp on the same. But this is pure speculation since there had been no indication that them. Their trustworthiness arises from the sense of official duty and the penalty
such arrangement was made. Besides, how could Webb fix a foreign airlines attached to a breached
passenger manifest, officially filed in the Philippines and at the airport in the U.S. that 108
had his name on them? How could Webb fix with the U.S. Immigrations record system 108 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
those two dates in its record of his travels as well as the dates when he supposedly Lejano vs. People
departed in secret from the U.S. to commit the crime in the Philippines and then return duty, in the routine and disinterested origin of such statement and in the publicity
there? No one has come up with a logical and plausible answer to these questions.107 of the record.
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 107 Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; If the Supreme Court were to subscribe to
Lejano vs. People the extremely skeptical view taken by the trial court and the Court of Appeals regarding
Same; Same; Best Evidence Rule; Pleadings, Practice and Procedure; While the travel documents like the passport as well as the domestic and foreign records of
best evidence of a document is the original, this means that the same is exhibited in departures and arrivals from the airports, it might as well tear the rules of evidence out
court for the adverse party to examine and for the judge to seethe practice when a of the law books and regard suspicions, surmises, or speculations as reasons for
party does not want to leave an important document with the trial court is to have a impeaching evidence.The trial court and the Court of Appeals expressed marked
photocopy of it marked as exhibit and stipulated among the parties as a faithful cynicism over the accuracy of travel documents like the passport as well as the
reproduction of the original.The Court of Appeals rejected the evidence of Webbs domestic and foreign records of departures and arrivals from airports. They claim that
passport since he did not leave the original to be attached to the record. But, while the it would not have been impossible for Webb to secretly return to the Philippines after
best evidence of a document is the original, this means that the same is exhibited in he supposedly left it on March 9, 1991, commit the crime, go back to the U.S., and
court for the adverse party to examine and for the judge to see. As Court of Appeals openly return to the Philippines again on October 26, 1992. Travel between the U.S.
Justice Tagle said in his dissent, the practice when a party does not want to leave an and the Philippines, said the lower courts took only about twelve to fourteen hours. If
important document with the trial court is to have a photocopy of it marked as exhibit the Court were to subscribe to this extremely skeptical view, it might as well tear the
and stipulated among the parties as a faithful reproduction of the original. Stipulations rules of evidence out of the law books and regard suspicions, surmises, or speculations
in the course of trial are binding on the parties and on the court. as reasons for impeaching evidence. It is not that official records, which carry the
Same; Same; Evidence; Official Documents; Passports; Webbs passport is a presumption of truth of what they state, are immune to attack. They are not. That
document issued by the Philippine government, which under international practice, is presumption can be overcome by evidence. Here, however, the prosecution did not
the official record of travels of the citizen to whom it is issued, and the entries in that bother to present evidence to impeach the entries in Webbs passport and the
passport are presumed true; The U.S. Immigration certification and computer print-out, certifications of the Philippine and U.S. immigration services regarding his travel to the
the official certifications of which have been authenticated by the Philippine Department
U.S. and back. The prosecutions rebuttal evidence is the fear of the unknown that it the users of those narcotics pass the greater part of their lives in an unreal world, and
planted in the lower courts minds. thus become unable to distinguish between images and facts, between illusions and
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Webbs documented alibi altogether realities.
impeaches Alfaros testimony, not only with respect to him, but also with respect to the Same; Same; Same; The prosecutions star witness appears to be a rehearsed
other co-accused.Webbs documented alibi altogether impeaches Alfaros testimony, witnessprior to her decision to surface and claim to tell what she knew about the
not only with respect to him, but also with respect to Lejano, Estrada, Fernandez, crimes, the crimes had already been played out in the media, both print and broadcast,
Gatchalian, Rodriguez, and Biong. For, if the Court accepts the proposition that Webb in every gory detail.Given Alfaros confession of having for years, after the
was in the U.S. when the crime took place, Alfaros testimony will not hold together. commission of the crimes, been numbed by the effects of drug abuse, would the
Webbs participation is the anchor of Alfaros story. Without it, the evidence against the dissenters take as gospel truth her what they termed vivid and infallible recollection
others must necessarily fall. of the minutiae surrounding the commission of the crime in June 1991, and point to the
Same; Presumption of Innocence; In our criminal justice system, what is accused as the male-
important is, not whether the court entertains doubts about the innocence of the 110
accused since an open mind is willing to explore all possibilities, but whether it 110 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
entertains a reasonable, lingering doubt as to his guilt.In our criminal justice system, Lejano vs. People
what is important is, not whether the court enter- factors, particularly Webb, despite evidence, documentary and testimonial,
109
supporting his alibi? The explanation for this feat of wizardry is within arms-length
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 109 Alfaro appears to be a rehearsed witness. Prior to her decision to surface and claim to
Lejano vs. People tell what she knew about the crimes, the crimes had already been played out in the
tains doubts about the innocence of the accused since an open mind is willing to media, both print and broadcast, in every gory detail. It was a raging topic that drew
explore all possibilities, but whether it entertains a reasonable, lingering doubt as to his intense discussions in both talk shows and informal gatherings, and all sorts of
guilt. For, it would be a serious mistake to send an innocent man to jail where such kind speculations about it were rife. In fact, prior to the arrest of the accused, members of
of doubt hangs on to ones inner being, like a piece of meat lodged immovable between the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested some members of an akyat-bahay gang
teeth. Will the Court send the accused to spend the rest of their lives in prison on the who were charged accordingly. These gang members were later released upon orders
testimony of an NBI asset who proposed to her handlers that she take the role of the of the Makati Regional Trial Court after it was discovered that their confessions were
witness to the Vizconde massacre that she could not produce? fabricated by the PNP to conform to the physical evidence found at the crime scene. It
CARPIO-MORALES, J., Concurring Opinion: is not thus difficult to believe that Alfaro could have become familiar with the evidentiary
Criminal Law; Evidence; Witnesses; Dangerous Drugs Act; Evidence derived details of the crimes, given that she was practically a resident at the offices of the NBI
from the testimony of a witness who was under the influence of drugs during the which was actively investigating the crimes, not to mention her being an NBI star
incident to which he is testifying is indeed very unreliable.The paper of authors witness.
Burrus and Marks, Testimonial Reliability of Drug Addicts, teaches: . . . [W]here the Same; Same; Same; A testimony given four years after the occurrence of crime
prolonged use of drugs has impaired the witness ability to perceive, recall or relate, which gives minute details that even contradict tales earlier given is too incredible as
impeaching testimony is uniformly sustained by the courts. Aside from organic to draw dubiety.A testimony given four years after the occurrence of crime which
deterioration, however, testimony may be impugned if the witness was under the gives minute details that even contradict tales earlier given is too incredible as to draw
influence of drugs at the time of perceiving the event about which he is testifying or at dubiety. The lucid observations of Court of Appeals Justice Renato C. Dacudao in his
the time he is on the stand. This necessarily follows, for even the temporary presence Dissent for the acquittal of the accused, and the graphic analysis of Justice Roberto
of drugs affects the functioning of the bodys organs, and thus bears directly on the Abad in his ponencia on why Alfaros testimony can not be relied upon are thus well
credibility of the witness testimony (underscoring supplied) Evidence derived from taken. It bears stressing that the defenses earnest assertion that the prosecution failed
the testimony of a witness who was under the influence of drugs during the incident to to rebut the pieces of evidence, highlighted by the defense, that seriously dent its (the
which he is testifying is indeed very unreliable. So it has been held that habitual users prosecutions) case has not been controverted.
of narcotics become notorious liars and that their testimony is likely to be affected Same; Same; Facts decide casesconjectures and suspicions are not facts,
thereby. We believe it will be admitted that habitual users of opium, or other like hence, they have no evidentiary value, and they cannot be the bases of conviction as
narcotics, become notorious liars. The habit of lying comes doubtless from the fact that they cannot substitute for the constitutional requirement of proof of guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.It is now the dissenters reasoning which turns highly speculative acts may be punished for indirect contempt: x x x x (d) Any improper conduct tending,
and conjectural, one borne out of unfounded suspicion. It suspects that the Webb family directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice[.]112
may have used its financial resources and political influence to control all the U.S. 112 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
and Philippine immigration people, thus allowing Webb to secretly travel back to the Lejano vs. People
country and again fly to the U.S. several times between March 9, 1991 and October
Same; Same; Same; We have long recognized in this jurisdiction that the
26, 1992. It bears noting that the prosecution proffered no evidence to establish that
freedom of speech under Section 4, Article III of the Constitution is not absolute; While
during the interregnum Webb had surreptitiously slipped out of the U.S.A. to the
the sub judice rule may be considered as a curtailment of the right to free speech, it is
Philippines, and that he subsequently re-entered the U.S.A. by bypassing
111
necessary to ensure the proper administration of justice and the right of an accused
to a fair trial.Persons facing charges for indirect contempt for violation of the sub
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 111 judice rule often invoke as defense their right to free speech and claim that the citation
Lejano vs. People for contempt constitutes a form of impermissible subsequent punishment. We have
all immigration controls and protocols in both countries. This is the stuff of which long recognized in this jurisdiction that the freedom of speech under Section 4, Article
spy novels are made, but not in the real world where the lives of innocent individuals III of the Constitution is not absolute. A very literal construction of the provision, as
are at stake. Facts decide cases. Conjectures and suspicions are not facts, hence, they espoused by US Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, may lead to the disregard of other
have no evidentiary value. They cannot be the bases of conviction as they cannot equally compelling constitutional rights and principles. In Vicente v. Majaducon, 461
substitute for the constitutional requirement of proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. SCRA 12 (2005), this Court declared that [the freedom of speech] needs on occasion
Suspicions, no matter how strong they are, must never sway judgment. to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public
Same; Same; Witnesses; If half the world away could not even be considered to interests such as the maintenance of the integrity of courts and orderly functioning of
be so far removed from the crime scene as to evince the physical impossibility of the administration of justice. Courts, both within and outside this jurisdiction, have long
actual presence, then the defense of alibi can only be appreciated when an accused grappled with the dilemma of balancing the publics right to free speech and the
lands in a different planet.While alibi is, indeed, a weak defense because the governments duty to administer fair and impartial justice. While the sub judice rule may
accused can easily fabricate his story to escape criminal liability, in the present case, be considered as a curtailment of the right to free speech, it is necessary to ensure
Webbs alibi could not have been fabricated with ease. His travel and immigration the proper administration of justice and the right of an accused to a fair trial. Both these
documents showing his departure from the Philippines and arrival in the U.S.A., not to latter concerns are equally paramount and cannot lightly be disregarded.
mention the testimonial and documentary evidence on his activities while in the U.S.A. Same; Same; Same; The Constitution simply gives the citizens the right to
between March 9, 1991 and October 26, 1992, deserve full credit. If half the world away speech, not the right to unrestricted publicized speech.Before proceeding with this
could not even be considered to be so far removed from the crime scene as to evince line of thought, however, let me clarify that the sub judice rule is not imposed on all
the physical impossibility of actual presence, then the defense of alibi can only be forms of speech. In so far as criminal proceedings are concerned, two classes
appreciated when an accused lands in a different planet. of publicizedspeech made during the pendency of the proceedings can be considered
BRION, J., Supplemental Opinion: as contemptuous: first, comments on the merits of the case, and second, intemperate
Courts; Sub Judice Rule; Freedom of Expression; The sub judice rule restricts and unreasonable comments on the conduct of the courts with respect to the case.
comments and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedingsthe restriction Publicized speech should be understood to be limited to those aired or printed in the
applies not only to participants in the pending case, i.e., to members of the bar and various forms of media such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and internet,
bench, and to litigants and witnesses, but also to the public in general, which and excludes discussions, in public or in private, between and among ordinary citizens.
necessarily includes the media.In essence, the sub judice rule restricts comments The Constitution simply gives the citizens the right to speech, not the right to
and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings. The restriction applies not unrestricted publicized speech.
only to participants in the pending case, i.e., to members of the bar and bench, and to Same; Same; Same; Due Process; The right to a fair trial is an adjunct of the
litigants and witnesses, but also to the public in general, which necessarily includes the accuseds right to due process.The right to a fair trial is an adjunct of the accuseds
media. Although the Rules of Court does not contain a specific provision imposing right to due process which guarantees [him] a presumption of
the sub judice rule, it supports the observance of the restriction by punishing its violation 113
as indirect contempt under Section 3(d) of Rule 71: Section 3. Indirect contempt to VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 113
be punished after charge and hearing.x x x a person guilty of any of the following
Lejano vs. People to influence the decision of the controversy, is contempt of court and is punishable. The
innocence until the contrary is proved in a trial x x x where the conclusions resulting (but temporary) curtailment of speech because of the sub judice rule is
reached are induced not by any outside force or influence but only by evidence and necessary and justified by the more compelling interests to uphold the rights of the
argument given in open court, where fitting dignity and calm ambiance is demanded. accused and promote the fair and orderly administration of justice.
Same; Same; Same; The fact that the jury system is not adopted in this Same; Same; Same; If we do not apply at all the sub judice rule to the present
jurisdiction is not an argument against our observance of the sub judice rulejustices case, the reason is obvious to those who have followed the case in the mediaboth
and judges are no different from members of the jury, they are not immune from the parties are in pari delicto as both have apparently gone to the media to campaign for
pervasive effects of media.As may be observed from the cited material, the sub the merits of their respective causesthe egregious action of one has been cancelled
judice rule is used by foreign courts to insulate members of the jury from being by a similar action by the other.If we do not apply at all the subjudice rule to the
influenced by prejudicial publicity. But the fact that the jury system is not adopted in this present case, the reason is obvious to those who have followed the case in the media
jurisdiction is not an argument against our observance of the sub judice rule; justices both parties are in pari delictoas both have apparently gone to the media to campaign
and judges are no different from members of the jury, they are not immune from the for the merits of their respective causes. Thus, the egregious action of one has been
pervasive effects of media. It might be farcical to build around them an impregnable cancelled by a similar action by the other. It is in this sense that this Supplemental
armor against the influence of the most powerful media of public opinion. As I said in Opinion is independent of the merits of the case. Their common action, however,
another case, in a slightly different context, even those who are determined, in their cannot have their prejudicial effects on both; whatever the results may be, doubts will
conscious minds, to avoid bias may be affected. linger about the real merits of the case due to the inordinate media campaign that
Same; Same; Same; Principle of Open Justice; Words and Phrases; The transpired. Lest we be misunderstood, our application of the sub judice rule to this case
peoples freedom to criticize the government includes the right to criticize the courts, cannot serve as a precedent for similar future violations. Precisely, this Supplemental
their proceedings and decisionsthis is the principle of open justice, which is Opinion is a signal to all that this Court has not forgotten, and is in fact keenly aware
fundamental to our democratic society and ensures that (a) there is a safeguard against of, the limits of what can be publicly ventilated on the merits of a case while sub judice,
judicial arbitrariness or idiosyncrasy, and that (b) the publics confidence in the and on the comments on the conduct of the courts with respect to the case. This Court
administration of justice is maintained.This, of course, is not meant to stifle all forms will not standby idly and helplessly as its integrity as an institution and its processes
of criticism against the court. As the third branch of the government, the courts remain are shamelessly brought to disrepute.
accountable to the people. The peoples freedom to criticize the government includes VILLARAMA, JR., J., Dissenting Opinion:
the right to criticize the courts, their proceedings and decisions. This is the principle of Criminal Law; Presumption of Innocence; Evidence; The Supreme Court has
open justice, which is fundamental to our democratic society and ensures that (a) there consistently held that the rule on the trial courts appreciation of evidence must bow to
is a safeguard against judicial arbitrariness or idiosyncrasy, and that (b) the publics the superior rule that the prosecution must prove the guilt of the accused beyond
confidence in the administration of justice is maintained. The criticism must, however, reasonable doubt.This Court has consistently held that the rule on the trial courts
be fair, made in good faith, and not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. And appreciation of evidence must bow to the superior rule that the prosecution must prove
to enhance the open court principle and allow the people to make fair and reasoned the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The law presumes an accused
criticism of the courts, the sub judice rule excludes from its coverage fair and accurate innocent, and this presumption must prevail unless overturned by competent and
reports (without comment) of what have actually taken place in open court. credible proof. Thus, we
115
Same; Same; Same; Due Process; The resulting (but temporary) curtailment of
speech because of the sub judice rule is necessary and justified by the more compelling VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 115
interests to uphold the rights of the accused and promote the fair and orderly Lejano vs. People
administration of justice.In sum, the court, in a pending are tasked to consider two crucial points in sustaining a judgment of
114 conviction: first, the identification of the accused as perpetrator of the crime, taking into
114 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED account the credibility of the prosecution witness who made the identification as well
Lejano vs. People as the prosecutions compliance with legal and constitutional standards; and second, all
litigation, must be shielded from embarrassment or influence in its all-important the elements constituting the crime were duly proven by the prosecution to be present.
duty of deciding the case. Any publication pending a suit, reflecting upon the court, the Same; Same; Same; Witnesses; It is axiomatic that a witness who testifies in a
parties, the officers of the court, the counsel, etc., with reference to the suit, or tending categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner and remains consistent on
cross-examination is a credible witness.The testimony of Alfaro on its material points of only one witness, if credible and positive, is sufficient to convict. As to appellant
was corroborated by Birrer, Dr. Cabanayan, White, Jr., Cabanacan and Gaviola. Webbs voluminous documentary evidence, both the RTC and CA judiciously examined
Appellants presence at the scene of the crime before, during and after its commission each exhibit and concluded that these do not pass the test of admissibility and
was duly established. Their respective participation, acts and declarations were materiality insofar as proving the physical impossibility of his presence at the Vizconde
likewise detailed by Alfaro who was shown to be a credible witness. It is axiomatic that residence on June 29, 1991 until the early morning of June 30, 1991.
a witness who testifies in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner Same; Same; Alibi; While it is true that presentation of passport, plane ticket and
and remains consistent on cross-examination is a credible witness. other travel documents can serve as proof that an accused was indeed out of the
Same; Same; Same; Same; A criminal case rises or falls on the strength of the country at the time of the killings, it must still be shown that the evidence is clear and
prosecutions case, not on the weakness of the defense.A criminal case rises or falls convincing, and the totality of such evidence constitutes an airtight excuse as to
on the strength of the prosecutions case, not on the weakness of the defense. Once exclude the least possibility of his presence at the crime scene.As to the travel
the prosecution overcomes the presumption of innocence by proving the elements of documents consisting of his US passport, US INS certifications and other evidence
the crime and the identity of the accused as perpetrator beyond reasonable doubt, presented by appellant Webb in support of his alibi, while it is true that such
the burden of evidence then shifts to the defense which shall then test the strength of presentation of passport, plane ticket and other travel documents can serve as proof
the prosecutions case either by showing that no crime was in fact committed or that that he was indeed out of the country at the time of the Vizconde killings, it must still be
the accused could not have committed or did not commit the imputed crime, or at the shown that the evidence is clear and convincing, and the totality of such evidence
very least, by casting doubt on the guilt of the accused. constitutes an airtight excuse as to exclude the least possibility of his presence at the
Same; Alibi; We have held in a number of cases that alibi is an inherently weak crime scene. However, appellant Webb failed in this regard and the RTC and CA did
and unreliable defense, for it is easy to fabricate and difficult to disprove.We have not err in giving scant weight to his arsenal of evidence, particularly so on the strength
held in a number of cases that alibi is an inherently weak and unreliable defense, for it of the positive identification of appellant Webb as Carmelas rapist and one of those
is easy to fabricate and difficult to disprove. To establish alibi, the accused must prove who actually took part in the brutal killing of Carmela, her mother and sister between
(a) that he was present at another place at the time of the perpetration of the crime, midnight of June 29, 1991 and early morning of June 30, 1991.
and (b) that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime. Physical Same; Same; Same; Verily, it is only when the identification of the accused as
impossibility refers to the distance between the place where the accused was when the author of the crime charged is inconclusive or unreliable that
the crime transpired and the place where it was committed, as well as the facility of 117
access between the two places. Due to its doubtful nature, alibi must be supported by VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 117
clear and convincing proof. Alibi, the plea of having been elsewhere than at the scene Lejano vs. People
of the crime at the time of the commission alibi assumes importance.Alibi cannot be sustained where it is not only
116
without credible corroboration, but also where it does not, on its face, demonstrate the
116 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED physical impossibility of the accuseds presence at the place and time of the
Lejano vs. People commission of the crime. Against positive evidence, alibi becomes most
of the felony, is a plausible excuse for the accused. Let there be no mistake about unsatisfactory. Alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification of a credible witness.
it. Contrary to the common notion, alibi is in fact a good defense. But, to be valid for Appellant Webb was placed at the crime scene by Alfaro who positively identified him
purposes of exoneration from a criminal charge, the defense of alibi must be such as the one (1) who plotted and committed the rape of Carmela, and later fatally stabbed
that it would have been physically impossible for the person charged with the her, her mother and sister, aided by or in concert with Lejano and Ventura. Gaviola and
crime to be at the locus criminis at the time of its commission, the reason being Cabanacan gave corroborating testimonies that appellant Webb was here in the
that no person can be in two places at the same time. The excuse must be so country, as he was just in his house at BF Homes Subdivision Phase III, at least a few
airtight that it would admit of no exception. Where there is the least possibility weeks prior to and on June 29 to 30, 1991. Verily, it is only when the identification of
of accuseds presence at the crime scene, the alibi will not hold water. the accused as the author of the crime charged is inconclusive or unreliable
Same; Witnesses; The rule is well-entrenched in this jurisdiction that in that alibi assumes importance. Such is not the situation in the case at bar where the
determining the value and credibility of evidence, witnesses are to be weighed, not identification of the perpetrators by a lone eyewitness satisfied the moral certainty
numbered.The rule is well-entrenched in this jurisdiction that in determining the value standard.
and credibility of evidence, witnesses are to be weighed, not numbered. The testimony
Same; Same; Same; Presumption of Innocence; Words and Phrases; Definitely, Conspiracy comes to life at the very instant the plotters agree, expressly or impliedly,
reasonable doubt is not mere guesswork whether or not the accused is guilty, but to commit the felony and forthwith decide to actually pursue it. It may be proved by
such uncertainty that a reasonable man may entertain after a fair review and direct or circumstantial evidence. Although only one (1) rape was actually proven by
consideration of the evidence.It is the prosecutions burden to prove the guilt of the the prosecution, as conspirators who mutually agreed to commit the crime and assisted
accused beyond reasonable doubt. Definitely, reasonable doubt is not mere one (1) another in its commission, on the occasion of which the rape victim Carmela,
guesswork whether or not the accused is guilty, but such uncertainty that a reasonable her mother Estrellita and sister Jennifer, were killed, each of the accused-appellants
man may entertain after a fair review and consideration of the evidence. Reasonable shall be criminally liable for rape with homicide.
doubt is present whenafter the entire comparison and consideration of all the Same; Same; Accessories; Words and Phrases; Accessory is one who has
evidences, leaves the minds of the [judges] in that condition that they cannot say they knowledge of the commission of the crime, yet did not take part in its commission as
feel an abiding conviction, to a moral certainty, of the truth of the charge; a certainty principal or accomplice, but took part in it subsequent to its commission.The Revised
that convinces and directs the understanding, and satisfies the reason and judgment Penal Code in Article 19 defines an accessory as one who has knowledge of the
of those who are bound to act conscientiously upon it. commission of the crime, yet did not take part in its commission as principal or
Same; Same; Same; Judicial Notice; Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (R.A. No. accomplice, but took part in it subsequent to its commission by any of three modes: (1)
8239); The Court takes judicial notice of reported irregularities and tampering of profiting himself or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime; (2)
passports in the years prior to the recent issuance by the Department of Foreign Affairs concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof in
(DFA) of machine-readable passportsin fact, the proliferation of photo-substituted order to prevent its discovery; and (3) harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape
passports, fake immigration stamps, assumed identity and double passports, among of the principals of the crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his
others, have been cited as grounds to justify the necessity of amending the Philippine 119
Passport Act of 1996.That reasonable doubt is not engendered by the presentation VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 119
of certifications of entry into and exit from the US, passport with stamp marks of Lejano vs. People
departure and declarations of witnesses who are mostly relatives and friends public functions or when the offender is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an
118
attempt to take the life of the Chief Executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of
118 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED some other crime.
Lejano vs. People Same; Same; Same; Under paragraph 3 of Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code,
of appellant Webb, can be gleaned from the fact that passports and plane tickets as amended, there are two (2) classes of accessories, one of which is a public officer
indicating dates of arrival and departure do not necessarily prove that the very same who harbors, conceals or assists in the escape of the principalsuch public officer
person actually took the flight. This Court takes judicial notice of reported irregularities must have acted with abuse of his public functions, and the crime committed by the
and tampering of passports in the years prior to the recent issuance by the DFA of principal is any crime, provided it is not a light felony.Under paragraph 3 of Article 19
machine-readable passports. In fact, the proliferation of photo-substituted passports, of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, there are two (2) classes of accessories, one
fake immigration stamps, assumed identity and double passports, among others, have of which is a public officer who harbors, conceals or assists in the escape of the
been cited as grounds to justify the necessity of amending the Philippine Passport Act principal. Such public officer must have acted with abuse of his public functions, and
of 1996 (R.A. No. 8239) as proposed in the Senate, x x x to rally for the issuance of the crime committed by the principal is any crime, provided it is not a light felony.
passports using tamper proof and the latest data encryption technology; and provide Appellant Biong is one (1) such public officer, and he abused his public function when,
stiffer penalties against proliferators of fake passports. instead of immediately arresting the perpetrators of the crime, he acceded to the
Same; Rape with Homicide; Conspiracy; Although only one (1) rape was actually bidding of appellant Webb to clean the Vizconde house, which means he must help
proven by the prosecution, as conspirators who mutually agreed to commit the crime hide any possible trace or sign linking them to the crime, and not necessarily to prevent
and assisted one (1) another in its commission, on the occasion of which the rape the discovery of the bodies in such actual condition upon their deaths. Hence, such
victim, her mother and sister, were killed, each of the accused-appellants shall be cleaning would include obliterating fingerprints and other identifying marks which
criminally liable for rape with homicide.The existence of conspiracy between appellants Webb, Lejano and Ventura might have left at the scene of the crime.
appellants Webb, Ventura, Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Rodriguez and Filart was Same; Rape; Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Testing; With the great advances in
satisfactorily proven by the prosecution. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons forensic science and under pertinent state laws, American courts allow post-conviction
come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing when its application has strong indications that
the result could potentially exonerate the convict.Appellant Gatchalian reiterates his satisfactorily established by the totality of the evidence. A finding that the semen
and appellant Webbs motion for DNA testing of the semen specimen taken from the specimen did not match Webbs DNA does not necessarily negate his presence at
vaginal cavity of Carmela during the autopsy conducted by Dr. Cabanayan, which the locus criminis.
motion was denied by the RTC for lack of available scientific expertise and technology SERENO, J., Separate Concurring Opinion:
at the time. With the great advances in forensic science and under pertinent state laws, Criminal Procedure; Public Prosecutors; It cannot be overemphasized that the
American courts allow post-conviction DNA testing when its application has strong prosecuting officer is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but
indications that the result could potentially exonerate the convict. Indeed, even a of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation
convicted felon has the right to avail of new technology not available during his trial. to govern at all, and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it
Same; Same; Same; The source of the semen extracted from the vaginal cavity shall win a case, but that justice shall be done.At the outset, it cannot be
of the deceased victim is immaterial in determining Webbs guiltfrom the totality of overemphasized that the prosecuting officer is the representative not of an ordinary
the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense, Webb was positively party to a controversy, but of a sov-
identified as Carmelas rapist.We hold that the source of the semen extracted from 121
the vaginal cavity of the deceased victim is im- VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 121
120
Lejano vs. People
120 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED ereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation
Lejano vs. People to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it
material in determining Webbs guilt. From the totality of the evidence presented shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very
by both the prosecution and the defense, Webb was positively identified as Carmelas definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not
rapist. As the records bear out, the positive identification of appellant Webb as escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigorindeed,
Carmelas rapist satisfied the test of moral certainty, and the prosecution had equally he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul
established beyond reasonable doubt the fact of rape and the unlawful killing of ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a
Carmela, Estrellita and Jennifer on the occasion thereof. Even assuming that the DNA wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one.
analysis of the semen specimen taken from Carmelas body hours after her death Same; Due Process; What is in truth referred to when expanding on the concept
excludes Webb as the source thereof, it will not exonerate him from the crime charged. of fair trial is that the rights of the accused are protected, to the extent necessary to
Alfaro did not testify that Webb had ejaculated or did not use a condom while raping ensure fairness for himrights of the victim are not ignored, but they are respected
Carmela. She testified that she saw Webb rape Carmela and it was only him she had only to the extent that they are consistent with the fairness of the trial for the accused.
witnessed to have committed the rape inside the Vizconde residence between late In the words of Richard Refshauge: The adversarial system is rooted in the notion
evening of June 29, 1991 and early morning of June 30, 1991. Moreover, she did not of a contest with winners and losers, yet the prosecutor is ethically forbidden from
testify that Carmela had no sexual relations with any other man at least 24 hours prior embracing that notion. The question then, is not what will make the prospect of a
to that time. On the other hand, a positive result of DNA examination of the semen conviction more certain, but what is fair and what will contribute to justice. Thus, a
specimen extracted by Dr. Cabanayan from Carmelas cadaver would merely serve as criminal trial is not about personal redress for the victims, but about determining the
corroborative evidence. guilt and the just punishment of the accused. What is in truth referred to when
Same; Same; Same; The presence or absence of spermatozoa is immaterial in expanding on the concept of fair trial is that the rights of the accused are protected,
a prosecution for rapethe important consideration in rape cases is not the emission to the extent necessary to ensure fairness for him. Rights of the victim are not ignored,
of semen but the unlawful penetration of the female genitalia by the male organ.We but they are respected only to the extent that they are consistent with the fairness of
thus reiterate that the vaginal smear confirming the presence of spermatozoa merely the trial for the accused.
corroborated Alfaros testimony that Carmela was raped before she was killed. Indeed, Same; Same; Presumption of Innocence; The presumption of innocence of the
the presence or absence of spermatozoa is immaterial in a prosecution for rape. The accused is at the center of our criminal justice systemthe cornerstone, as it were, of
important consideration in rape cases is not the emission of semen but the unlawful all the other rights accorded to the accused, including the right to due process of law;
penetration of the female genitalia by the male organ. On the other hand, a negative Because the accused must be presumed innocent, and because they are entitled to
result of DNA examination of the semen specimen could not have exonerated Webb of due process of law, it is the duty of the prosecution not to issue prejudicial statements
the crime charged as his identity as a principal in the rape-slay of Carmela was about them while the trial is being conducted, a standard which applies with even more
force to the trial judge.The presumption of innocence of the accused is at the center reasonable doubt that he committed it?The idea that a negative DNA test result
of our criminal justice systemthe cornerstone, as it were, of all the other rights would not have necessarily exculpated Webb, because previous sexual congress by
accorded to the accused, including the right to due process of law. In pronouncing the Carmela with another man prior to the crime could not be discounted, would
presumption of innocence of the accused and their right to due process, the unrealistically raise the bar of evidenceand for the wrong party, i.e., for the part of
Constitution declares that the risk of letting the guilty walk free would be error on the the defense, instead of for the prosecu-
side of justice. This outcome is infinitely better than imprisoning an innocent person. 123
Because the accused must be presumed innocent, and because they are entitled to VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 123
due process of law, it is the duty of the prosecution Lejano vs. People
122
tion. If a negative DNA test result could not be considered as providing certainty
122 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED that Webb did not commit the crime, would it not have at least cast a reasonable doubt
Lejano vs. People that he committed it?
not to issue prejudicial statements about them while the trial is being conducted. Same; Same; Since the task of the pillars of the criminal justice system is to
This standard applies with even more force to the trial judge who must at all times not preserve our democratic society u+nder the rule of law, ensuring that all those who
only be impartial, but also appear to be so. appear before or are brought to the bar of justice are afforded a fair opportunity to
Same; Same; Same; Judges; Bias and Partiality; When allegations of instances present their side, the measure of whether the accused herein has been deprived of
of the trial judges bias were first brought to this Court, it was understandable that the due process of law should not be limited to the state of mind of the prosecution, but
Court would accord the judge the presumption of regularity in the performance of her should include fundamental principles of fair play.In our various decisions relating to
duties, but her subsequent acts, as well as her Decisiontaken togethershowed a interlucotory orders and incidents pertaining to this case, this courts adherence to
pattern now recognizable in retrospect as bias against the accused, amounting to instrumentalism has led to our finding in each instance that there was no due process
denial of due process.Allegations of issuance of prejudicial comments about the violation committed against petitioner, because bad faith was not shown by the
accused in this case pertained to the acts of the trial judge, and not the prosecution. prosecution or the trial judge. However, since the task of the pillars of the criminal
When allegations of instances of the trial judges bias were first brought to this Court, justice system is to preserve our democratic society under the rule of law, ensuring that
it was understandable that the Court would accord the judge the presumption of all those who appear before or are brought to the bar of justice are afforded a fair
regularity in the performance of her duties. Her subsequent acts, however, as well as opportunity to present their side, the measure of whether the accused herein has been
her Decisiontaken togethershowed a pattern now recognizable in retrospect as deprived of due process of law should not be limited to the state of mind of the
bias against the accused, amounting to denial of due process. prosecution, but should include fundamental principles of fair play. Hence, as we
Same; Same; Same; Same; Right of Access to Evidence; The accuseds right to write finis to this case, it is time we evaluate the total picture that the prosecutions acts
access to evidence necessitates in the correlative duty of the prosecution to produce or omissions have wrought upon the accuseds rights with each seemingly innocuous
and permit the inspection of the evidence, and not to suppress or alter it.As discussed stroke, whatever its intention may have been. The various violations of the accuseds
in the preceding section, the accuseds right to access to evidence necessitates in the rights have resulted in his failure to secure a just trial. As such, the judgment of
correlative duty of the prosecution to produce and permit the inspection of the evidence, conviction cannot stand.
and not to suppress or alter it. When the prosecution is called upon not to suppress or PETITIONS for review on certiorari of the decision and resolution of the Court
alter evidence in its possession that may benefit the accused, it is also necessarily of Appeals.
obliged to preserve the said evidence. To hold otherwise would be to render illusory The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
the existence of such right. The advent of DNA technology prompted this Courts Vicente Millora and Florante Arceo Bautista for Antonio Lejano.
promulgation of the New Rules for DNA Evidence. As DNA evidence provides objective
Jose Flaminiano for Hospicio Fernandez.
proof of identification and may be obtained from evidence left in the scene of the crime
Vitaliano N. Aguirre II, Divinagracia S. San Juan, Demetrio C. Custodio,
or in the victims person, it also gives new meaning to the above duty of the prosecution.
The prosecution did not fare well when measured against this standard. Jr., Eloysa G. Sicam, and Joaquin Miguel Z. Hizon for Hubert Webb, et al.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Testing; If a Ramon Miguel Ongsiako for M. Rodriguez, Ongsiako and De la Cruz.124
negative Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) test result could not be considered as providing 124 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
certainty that Webb did not commit the crime, would it not have at least cast a Lejano vs. People
laundrywoman of the Webbs household, police officer Biongs former girlfriend,
Acerey C. Pacheco for Peter Estrada. and Lauro G. Vizconde, Estrellitas husband.
Ricardo Valmonte for Gerardo Biong. For their part, some of the accused testified, denying any part in the crime
Romulo, Mabanta, Buenaventura, Sayoc & De Los Angeles and Francisco and saying they were elsewhere when it took place. Webbs alibi appeared the
C. Gatchalian for Michael A. Gatchalian. strongest since he claimed that he was then across the ocean in the United
ABAD, J.: States of America. He presented the testimonies of witnesses as well as
documentary and object evidence to prove this. In addition, the defense
Brief Background presented witnesses to show Alfaros bad reputation for truth and the incredible
nature of her testimony.
On June 30, 1991 Estrellita Vizconde and her daughters Carmela, nineteen But impressed by Alfaros detailed narration of the crime and the events
years old, and Jennifer, seven, were brutally slain at their home in Paraaque surrounding it, the trial court found a credible witness in her. It noted her
City. Following an intense investigation, the police arrested a group of suspects, categorical, straightforward, spontaneous, and frank testimony, undamaged by
some of whom gave detailed confessions. But the trial court smelled a frame- grueling cross-examinations. The trial court remained unfazed by significant
up and eventually ordered them discharged. Thus, the identities of the real discrepancies between Alfaros April 28 and May 22, 1995 affidavits, accepting
perpetrators remained a mystery especially to the public whose interests were her explanation that she at first wanted to protect her former boyfriend, accused
aroused by the gripping details of what everybody referred to as the Vizconde Estrada, and a relative, accused Gatchalian; that no lawyer assisted her; that
massacre. she did not trust the investigators who helped her prepare her first affidavit; and
Four years later in 1995, the National Bureau of Investigation or NBI that she felt unsure if she would get the support and security she needed once
announced that it had solved the crime. It presented star-witness Jessica M. she disclosed all about the Vizconde killings.
Alfaro, one of its informers, who claimed that she witnessed the crime. She In contrast, the trial court thought little of the denials and alibis that Webb,
pointed to accused Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Tony Boy Lejano, Artemio Lejano, Rodriguez, and Gatchalian set up for their defense. They paled,
Dong Ventura, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Peter according to the court, compared to Alfaros testimony that other witnesses and
Estrada, Miguel Ging Rodriguez, and Joey Filart as the culprits. She also the physical evidence corroborated. Thus, on January 4, 2000, after four years
tagged accused police officer, Gerardo Biong, as an accessory after the fact. of arduous hearings, the trial court rendered judgment, finding all the accused
Relying primarily on Alfaros testimony, on August 10, 1995 the public guilty as charged and imposing on Webb, Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez,
prosecutors filed an information for rape with homicide against Webb, et al.1 Estrada, and Rodriguez the penalty of reclusion perpetua and on Biong, an
The Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City, Branch 274, presided over by indeterminate prison term of eleven years, four months, and one day to twelve
Judge Amelita G. Tolentino, tried only seven of the accused since Artemio years. The trial court also awarded damages to Lauro Vizconde.3
Ventura and Joey Filart remained at large.2 The prosecution presented Alfaro _______________
as its main witness with the others corrobo-
_______________ 3 Records, Vol. 25, pp. 170-71.
126
1 Records, Vol. 1, pp. 1-3. 126 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
2 Rollo (G.R. 176389), pp. 393-399 and Rollo (G.R. 176864), pp. 80-104.
125
Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 125 On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision, modifying
the penalty imposed on Biong to six years minimum and twelve years maximum
Lejano vs. People
and increasing the award of damages to Lauro Vizconde.4 The appellate court
rating her testimony. These included the medico-legal officer who autopsied the
did not agree that the accused were tried by publicity or that the trial judge was
bodies of the victims, the security guards of Pitong Daan Subdivision, the former
biased. It found sufficient evidence of conspiracy that rendered Rodriguez,
Gatchalian, Fernandez, and Estrada equally guilty with those who had a part in 1. Whether or not Alfaros testimony as eyewitness, describing the crime
raping and killing Carmela and in executing her mother and sister. and identifying Webb, Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, Rodriguez, and
On motion for reconsideration by the accused, the Court of Appeals Special two others as the persons who committed it, is entitled to belief; and
Division of five members voted three against two to deny the motion,5 hence, 2. Whether or not Webb presented sufficient evidence to prove his alibi
the present appeal. and rebut Alfaros testimony that he led the others in committing the crime.
On April 20, 2010, as a result of its initial deliberation in this case, the Court The issue respecting accused Biong is whether or not he acted to cover up
issued a Resolution granting the request of Webb to submit for DNA analysis the crime after its commission.
the semen specimen taken from Carmelas cadaver, which specimen was then
believed still under the safekeeping of the NBI. The Court granted the request The Right to Acquittal
pursuant to section 4 of the Rule on DNA Evidence6 to give the accused and the Due to Loss of DNA Evidence
prosecution access to scientific evidence that they might want to avail
themselves of, leading to a correct decision in the case. Webb claims, citing Brady v. Maryland,7 that he is entitled to outright
Unfortunately, on April 27, 2010 the NBI informed the Court that it no longer acquittal on the ground of violation of his right to due process given the States
has custody of the specimen, the same having been turned over to the trial failure to produce on order of the Court either by negligence or willful
court. The trial record shows, however, that the specimen was not among the suppression the semen specimen taken from Carmela.
object evidence that the prosecution offered in evidence in the case. The medical evidence clearly established that Carmela was raped and,
This outcome prompted accused Webb to file an urgent motion to acquit on consistent with this, semen specimen was found in her. It is true that Alfaro
the ground that the governments failure to preserve such vital evidence has identified Webb in her testimony as Carmelas rapist and killer but serious
resulted in the denial of his right to due process. questions had been raised about her credibility. At the very least, there exists a
possibility that Alfaro had lied. On the other hand, the semen specimen taken
Issues Presented from Carmela cannot possibly lie. It cannot be coached or allured by a promise
of reward or financial support. No two persons have the same DNA fingerprint,
Accused Webbs motion to acquit presents a threshold issue: whether or not with the
the Court should acquit him outright, given the gov- _______________
_______________
7 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
4 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, pp. 3478-3479. 128
5 Resolution dated January 26, 2007, Rollo (G.R. 176839), pp. 197-214. 128 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
6 A.M. 06-11-5-SC effective October 15, 2007.
127
Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 127 exception of identical twins.8 If, on examination, the DNA of the subject
specimen does not belong to Webb, then he did not rape Carmela. It is that
Lejano vs. People simple. Thus, the Court would have been able to determine that Alfaro
ernments failure to produce the semen specimen that the NBI found on committed perjury in saying that he did.
Carmelas cadaver, thus depriving him of evidence that would prove his Still, Webb is not entitled to acquittal for the failure of the State to produce
innocence. the semen specimen at this late stage. For one thing, the ruling in Brady v.
In the main, all the accused raise the central issue of whether or not Webb, Maryland9 that he cites has long be overtaken by the decision in Arizona v.
acting in conspiracy with Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, Rodriguez, Youngblood,10 where the U.S. Supreme Court held that due process does not
Ventura, and Filart, raped and killed Carmela and put to death her mother and require the State to preserve the semen specimen although it might be useful
sister. But, ultimately, the controlling issues are: to the accused unless the latter is able to show bad faith on the part of the
prosecution or the police. Here, the State presented a medical expert who buy shabu from Artemio Dong Ventura. There, Ventura introduced her to his
testified on the existence of the specimen and Webb in fact sought to have the friends: Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Tony Boy Lejano, Miguel Ging
same subjected to DNA test. Rodriguez, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Michael Gatchalian, and Joey Filart.
For, another, when Webb raised the DNA issue, the rule governing DNA Alfaro recalled frequently seeing them at a shabu house in Paraaque in
evidence did not yet exist, the country did not yet have the technology for January 1991, except Ventura whom she had known earlier in December 1990.
conducting the test, and no Philippine precedent had as yet recognized its As Alfaro smoked her shabu, Webb approached and requested her to relay
admissibility as evidence. Consequently, the idea of keeping the specimen a message for him to a girl, whom she later identified as Carmela Vizconde.
secure even after the trial court rejected the motion for DNA testing did not come Alfaro agreed. After using up their shabu, the group drove to Carmelas house
up. Indeed, neither Webb nor his co-accused brought up the matter of at 80 Vinzons Street, Pitong Daan Subdivision, BF Homes, Paraaque City.
preserving the specimen in the meantime. Riding in her car, Alfaro and Estrada trailed Filart and Rodriguez who rode a
Parenthetically, after the trial court denied Webbs application for DNA Mazda pick-up and Webb, Lejano, Ventura, Fernandez, and Gatchalian who
testing, he allowed the proceeding to move on when he had on at least two were on a Nissan Patrol car.
occasions gone up to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court to challenge On reaching their destination, Alfaro parked her car on Vinzons Street,
alleged arbitrary actions taken against him and the other accused.11 They raised alighted, and approached Carmelas house. Alfaro pressed the buzzer and a
the DNA issue before the Court of Appeals but merely as an error committed by woman came out. Alfaro queried her about Carmela. Alfaro had met Carmela
the trial court in rendering its decision in the case. None of the accused filed a twice before in January 1991. When Carmela came out, Alfaro gave her Webbs
motion with the appeals court to have the DNA test done pending adjudication message that he was just around. Carmela replied, however, that she could not
of go out yet since she had just arrived home. She told Alfaro to return after twenty
_______________ minutes. Alfaro relayed this to Webb who then told the group to drive back to
the Ayala Alabang Commercial Center.
8 People v. Yatar, G.R. No. 150224, May 19, 2004, 425 SCRA 504, 514. 130
9 Supra note 7.
10 488 U.S. 41 (1988). 130 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
11 Webb v. De Leon, G.R. No. 121234, August 23, 1995, 247 SCRA 652; Webb v. People, G.R. Lejano vs. People
No. 127262, July 24, 1997, 276 SCRA 243.
129
The group had another shabu session at the parking lot. After sometime,
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 129 they drove back but only Alfaro proceeded to Vinzons Street where Carmela
lived. The Nissan Patrol and the Mazda pick-up, with their passengers, parked
Lejano vs. People somewhere along Aguirre Avenue. Carmela was at their garden. She
their appeal. This, even when the Supreme Court had in the meantime passed approached Alfaro on seeing her and told the latter that she (Carmela) had to
the rules allowing such test. Considering the accuseds lack of interest in having leave the house for a while. Carmela requested Alfaro to return before midnight
such test done, the State cannot be deemed put on reasonable notice that it and she would leave the pedestrian gate, the iron grills that led to the kitchen,
would be required to produce the semen specimen at some future time. and the kitchen door unlocked. Carmela also told Alfaro to blink her cars
Now, to the merit of the case. headlights twice when she approached the pedestrian gate so Carmela would
know that she had arrived.
Alfaros Story
Alfaro returned to her car but waited for Carmela to drive out of the house in
Based on the prosecutions version, culled from the decisions of the trial her own car. Alfaro trailed Carmela up to Aguirre Avenue where she dropped
court and the Court of Appeals, on June 29, 1991 at around 8:30 in the evening, off a man whom Alfaro believed was Carmelas boyfriend. Alfaro looked for her
Jessica Alfaro drove her Mitsubishi Lancer, with boyfriend Peter Estrada as group, found them, and relayed Carmelas instructions to Webb. They then all
passenger, to the Ayala Alabang Commercial Center parking lot to went back to the Ayala Alabang Commercial Center. At the parking lot, Alfaro
told the group about her talk with Carmela. When she told Webb of Carmelas wanted and he replied: Basta maghanap ka ng susi ng main door pati na rin ng
male companion, Webbs mood changed for the rest of the evening (bad trip). susi ng kotse. When she found a bunch of keys in the bag, she tried them on
Webb gave out free cocaine. They all used it and some shabu, too. After the main door but none fitted the lock. She also did not find the car key.
about 40 to 45 minutes, Webb decided that it was time for them to leave. He Unable to open the main door, Alfaro returned to the kitchen. While she was
said, Pipilahan natin siya [Carmela] at ako ang mauuna. Lejano said, Ako ang at a spot leading to the dining area, she heard a static noise (like a television
susunod and the others responded Okay, okay.They all left the parking lot in that remained on after the station had signed off). Out of curiosity, she
a convoy of three vehicles and drove into Pitong Daan Subdivision for the third approached the masters bedroom from where the noise came, opened the door
time. They arrived at Carmelas house shortly before midnight. a little, and peeked inside. The unusual sound grew even louder. As she walked
Alfaro parked her car between Vizcondes house and the next. While waiting in, she saw Webb on top of Carmela while she lay with her back on the floor.
for the others to alight from their cars, Fernandez approached Alfaro with a Two bloodied bodies lay on the bed. Lejano was at the foot of the bed about to
suggestion that they blow up the transformer near the Vizcondes residence to wear his jacket. Carmela was gagged, moaning, and in tears while Webb raped
cause a brownout (Pasabugin kaya natin ang transformer na ito). But Alfaro her, his bare buttocks exposed.
shrugged off the idea, telling Fernandez, Malakas lang ang tama mo. When 132
Webb, Lejano, and Ventura were already before the house, Webb told the 132 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
others again that they would line up for Carmela but he would be the first. The Lejano vs. People
others replied, O sige, dito lang kami, magbabantay lang kami. Webb gave Alfaro a meaningful look and she immediately left the room. She
131 met Ventura at the dining area. He told her, Prepare an escape. Aalis na
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 131 tayo. Shocked with what she saw, Alfaro rushed out of the house to the others
Lejano vs. People who were either sitting in her car or milling on the sidewalk. She entered her car
Alfaro was the first to pass through the pedestrian gate that had been left and turned on the engine but she did not know where to go. Webb, Lejano, and
open. Webb, Lejano, and Ventura followed her. On entering the garage, Ventura Ventura came out of the house just then. Webb suddenly picked up a stone and
using a chair mounted the hood of the Vizcondes Nissan Sentra and loosened threw it at the main door, breaking its glass frame.
the electric bulb over it (para daw walang ilaw).The small group went through As the three men approached the pedestrian gate, Webb told Ventura that
the open iron grill gate and passed the dirty kitchen. Carmela opened the he forgot his jacket in the house. But Ventura told him that they could not get in
aluminum screen door of the kitchen for them. She and Webb looked each other anymore as the iron grills had already locked. They all rode in their cars and
in the eyes for a moment and, together, headed for the dining area. drove away until they reached Aguirre Avenue. As they got near an old hotel at
As she lost sight of Carmela and Webb, Alfaro decided to go out. Lejano the Tropical Palace area, Alfaro noticed the Nissan Patrol slow down. Someone
asked her where she was going and she replied that she was going out to threw something out of the car into the cogonal area.
smoke. As she eased her way out through the kitchen door, she saw Ventura The convoy of cars went to a large house with high walls, concrete fence,
pulling out a kitchen drawer. Alfaro smoked a cigarette at the garden. After steel gate, and a long driveway at BF Executive Village. They entered the
about twenty minutes, she was surprised to hear a womans voice ask, Sino compound and gathered at the lawn where the blaming session took place. It
yan? Alfaro immediately walked out of the garden to her car. She found her was here that Alfaro and those who remained outside the Vizconde house
other companions milling around it. Estrada who sat in the car asked her, Okay learned of what happened. The first to be killed was Carmelas mother, then
ba? Jennifer, and finally, Carmella. Ventura blamed Webb, telling him, Bakit naman
After sitting in the car for about ten minutes, Alfaro returned to the Vizconde pati yung bata? Webb replied that the girl woke up and on seeing him molesting
house, using the same route. The interior of the house was dark but some light Carmela, she jumped on him, bit his shoulders, and pulled his hair. Webb got
filtered in from outside. In the kitchen, Alfaro saw Ventura searching a ladys mad, grabbed the girl, pushed her to the wall, and repeatedly stabbed her.
bag that lay on the dining table. When she asked him what he was looking for, Lejano excused himself at this point to use the telephone in the house.
he said: Ikaw na nga dito, maghanap ka ng susi. She asked him what key he Meanwhile, Webb called up someone on his cellular phone.
At around 2:00 in the morning, accused Gerardo Biong arrived. Webb Q. Atty. Sacaguing, how did Jessica Alfaro become a witness in the Vizconde murder
case? Will you tell the Honorable Court?
ordered him to go and clean up the Vizconde house and said to him, Pera lang xxxx
ang katapat nyan. Biong answered, Okay lang. Webb spoke to his A. She told me. Your Honor, that she knew somebody who
companions and told them, We dont know each other. We havent seen each related to her the circumstances, I mean, the details of
the
otherbaka maulit yan. Alfaro and Estrada left and they drove to her fathers 134
house.12 134 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
_______________
Lejano vs. People
massacre of the Vizconde family. Thats what she told me,
12 The ponencia, pp. 4-9.
Your Honor.
133
ATTY. ONGKIKO:
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 133 Q. And what did you say?
Lejano vs. People xxxx
A. I was quite interested and I tried to persuade her to introduce to me that man and she
1. The quality of the witness promised that in due time, she will bring to me the man, and together with her, we
Was Alfaro an ordinary subdivision girl who showed up at the NBI after four will try to convince him to act as a state witness and help us in the solution of the
case.
years, bothered by her conscience or egged on by relatives or friends to come xxxx
forward and do what was right? No. She was, at the time she revealed her story, Q. Atty. Sacaguing, were you able to interview this alleged witness?
working for the NBI as an asset, a stool pigeon, one who earned her living by WITNESS SACAGUING:
A. No, sir.
fraternizing with criminals so she could squeal on them to her NBI handlers. She ATTY. ONGKIKO:
had to live a life of lies to get rewards that would pay for her subsistence and Q. Why not?
vices. WITNESS SACAGUING:
A. Because Jessica Alfaro was never able to comply with her promise to bring the man
According to Atty. Artemio Sacaguing, former head of the NBI Anti- to me. She told me later that she could not and the man does not like to testify.
Kidnapping, Hijacking, and Armed Robbery Task Force (AKHAR) Section, ATTY. ONGKIKO:
Alfaro had been hanging around at the NBI since November or December 1994 Q. All right, and what happened after that?
WITNESS SACAGUING:
as an asset. She supplied her handlers with information against drug pushers A. She told me, easy lang kayo, Sir, if I may quote, easy lang Sir, huwag kayong
and other criminal elements. Some of this information led to the capture of COURT:
notorious drug pushers like Christopher Cruz Santos and Orlando Bacquir. How was that?
WITNESS SACAGUING:
Alfaros tip led to the arrest of the leader of the Martilyo gang that killed a police A. Easy lang, Sir. Sir, relax lang, Sir, papapelan ko, papapelan ko na lang yan.
officer. Because of her talent, the task force gave her very special treatment xxxx
and she became its darling, allowed the privilege of spending nights in one of 135

the rooms at the NBI offices. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 135
When Alfaro seemed unproductive for sometime, however, they teased her Lejano vs. People
about it and she was piqued. One day, she unexpectedly told Sacaguing that ATTY. ONGKIKO:
Q. All right, and what was your reaction when Ms. Alfaro stated that papapelan ko na
she knew someone who had the real story behind the Vizconde massacre. lang yan?
Sacaguing showed interest. Alfaro promised to bring that someone to the NBI WITNESS SACAGUING:
to tell his story. When this did not happen and Sacaguing continued to press A. I said, hindi puwede yan, kasi hindi ka naman eye witness.
ATTY. ONGKIKO:
her, she told him that she might as well assume the role of her informant. Q. And what was the reply of Ms. Alfaro?
Sacaguing testified thus: WITNESS SACAGUING:
ATTY. ONGKIKO: A. Hindi siya nakakibo, until she went away.
(TSN, May 28, 1996, pp. 49-50, 58, 77-79)
Quite significantly, Alfaro never refuted Sacaguings above testimony.
2. The suspicious details Again, this portion of Alfaros story appears tortured to accommodate the
But was it possible for Alfaro to lie with such abundant details some of which physical evidence of the ransacked house. She never mentioned Ventura
even tallied with the physical evidence at the scene of the crime? No doubt, yes. having taken some valuables with him when they left Carmelas house. And why
Firstly, the Vizconde massacre had been reported in the media with dizzying would Ventura rummage a bag on the table for the front-door key, spilling the
details. Everybody was talking about what the police found at the crime scene contents, when they had already gotten into the house. It is a story made to fit
and there were lots of speculations about them. in with the crime scene although robbery was supposedly not the reason Webb
Secondly, the police had arrested some akyat-bahay group in Paraaque and his companions entered that house.
and charged them with the crime. The police prepared the confessions of the c. It is the same thing with the garage light. The police investigators found
men they apprehended and filled these up with details that the evidence of the that the bulb had been loosened to turn off the light. The confessions of the
crime scene provided. Alfaros NBI handlers who were doing their own Barroso gang claimed that one of them climbed the
investigation knew of these details as well. Since Alfaro hanged out at the NBI parked cars hood to reach up and darken that light. This made sense since
offices and practically lived there, it was not too difficult for her to hear of these they were going to rob the place and they needed time to work in the dark trying
evidentiary details and gain access to the documents. to open the front door. Some passersby might look in and see what they were
Not surprisingly, the confessions of some members of the Barroso akyat doing.
bahay gang, condemned by the Makati RTC as fabricated by the police to pin 137
the crime on them, shows how crime investigators could make a confession ring VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 137
true by matching some of its details with the physical evidence at the crime Lejano vs. People
scene. Consider the following:136 Alfaro had to adjust her testimony to take into account that darkened garage
136 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED light. So she claimed that Ventura climbed the cars hood, using a chair, to turn
Lejano vs. People the light off. But, unlike the Barroso akyat-bahay gang, Webb and his friends
a. The Barroso gang members said that they got into Carmelas house did not have anything to do in a darkened garage. They supposedly knew in
by breaking the glass panel of the front door using a stone wrapped in cloth to advance that Carmela left the doors to the kitchen open for them. It did not make
deaden the noise. Alfaro could not use this line since the core of her story was sense for Ventura to risk standing on the cars hood and be seen in such an
that Webb was Carmelas boyfriend. Webb had no reason to smash her front awkward position instead of going straight into the house.
door to get to see her. And, thirdly, Alfaro was the NBIs star witness, their badge of excellent
Consequently, to explain the smashed door, Alfaro had to settle for claiming investigative work. After claiming that they had solved the crime of the decade,
that, on the way out of the house, Webb picked up some stone and, out of the the NBI people had a stake in making her sound credible and, obviously, they
blue, hurled it at the glass-paneled front door of the Vizconde residence. His gave her all the preparations she needed for the job of becoming a fairly good
action really made no sense. From Alfaros narration, Webb appeared rational substitute witness. She was their darling of an asset. And this is not pure
in his decisions. It was past midnight, the house was dark, and they wanted to speculation. As pointed out above, Sacaguing of the NBI, a lawyer and a ranking
get away quickly to avoid detection. Hurling a stone at that glass door and official, confirmed this to be a cold fact. Why the trial court and the Court of
causing a tremendous noise was bizarre, like inviting the neighbors to come. Appeals failed to see this is mystifying.
b. The crime scene showed that the house had been ransacked. The At any rate, did Alfaro at least have a fine memory for faces that had a strong
rejected confessions of the Barroso akyat-bahay gang members said that they effect on her, given the circumstances? Not likely. She named Miguel Ging
tried to rob the house. To explain this physical evidence, Alfaro claimed that at Rodriguez as one of the culprits in the Vizconde killings. But when the NBI found
one point Ventura was pulling a kitchen drawer, and at another point, going a certain Michael Rodriguez, a drug dependent from the Bicutan Rehabilitation
through a handbag on the dining table. He said he was looking for the front-door Center, initially suspected to be Alfaros Miguel Rodriguez and showed him to
key and the car key. Alfaro at the NBI office, she ran berserk, slapping and kicking Michael,
exclaiming: How can I forget your face. We just saw each other in a disco one
month ago and you told me then that you will kill me. As it turned out, he was clearly, there was nothing in it for Alfaro. Yet, she stuck it out with them, as a
not Miguel Rodriguez, the accused in this case.13 police asset would, hanging in there until she had a crime to report, only she
Two possibilities exist: Michael was really the one Alfaro wanted to implicate was not yet an asset then. If, on the other hand, Alfaro had been too soaked
to settle some score with him but it was too late to change the name she already in drugs to think clearly and just followed along where the group took her, how
gave or she had myopic vision, tagging the wrong people for what they did not could she remember so much details that only a drug-free mind can?
do. 139
_______________ VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 139
Lejano vs. People
13 TSN, August 6, 1996, pp. 13-41; TSN, May 22, 1997, pp. 72, 81-131, 142-157; Exhibits 274
and 275. Three. When Alfaro went to see Carmela at her house for the second time,
138 Carmella told her that she still had to go out and that Webb and his friends
138 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED should come back around midnight. Alfaro returned to her car and waited for
Lejano vs. People Carmela to drive out in her own car. And she trailed her up to Aguirre Avenue
3. The quality of the testimony where she supposedly dropped off a man whom she thought was Carmelas
There is another thing about a lying witness: her story lacks sense or suffers boyfriend. Alfaros trailing Carmela to spy on her unfaithfulness to Webb did not
from inherent inconsistencies. An understanding of the nature of things and the make sense since she was on limited errand. But, as a critical witness, Alfaro
common behavior of people will help expose a lie. And it has an abundant had to provide a reason for Webb to freak out and decide to come with his
presence in this case. friends and harm Carmela.
One. In her desire to implicate Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, Rodriguez, Four. According to Alfaro, when they returned to Carmelas house the third
and Filart, who were supposed to be Webbs co-principals in the crime, Alfaro time around midnight, she led Webb, Lejano, and Ventura through the
made it a point to testify that Webb proposed twice to his friends the gang-rape pedestrian gate that Carmela had left open. Now, this is weird. Webb was the
of Carmela who had hurt him. And twice, they (including, if one believes Alfaro, gang leader who decided what they were going to do. He decided and his
her own boyfriend Estrada) agreed in a chorus to his proposal. But when they friends agreed with him to go to Carmelas house and gang-rape her. Why would
got to Carmelas house, only Webb, Lejano, Ventura, and Alfaro entered the Alfaro, a woman, a stranger to Webb before that night, and obviously with no
house. role to play in the gang-rape of Carmela, lead him and the others into her house?
Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, and Rodriguez supposedly stayed around It made no sense. It would only make sense if Alfaro wanted to feign being a
Alfaros car, which was parked on the street between Carmelas house and the witness to something she did not see.
next. Some of these men sat on top of the cars lid while others milled on the Five. Alfaro went out of the house to smoke at the garden. After about twenty
sidewalk, visible under the street light to anyone who cared to watch them, minutes, a woman exclaimed, Sino yan? On hearing this, Alfaro immediately
particularly to the people who were having a drinking party in a nearby house. walked out of the garden and went to her car. Apparently, she did this because
Obviously, the behavior of Webbs companions out on the street did not figure she knew they came on a sly. Someone other than Carmela became conscious
in a planned gang-rape of Carmela. of the presence of Webb and others in the house. Alfaro walked away because,
Two. Ventura, Alfaros dope supplier, introduced her for the first time in her obviously, she did not want to get involved in a potential confrontation. This was
life to Webb and his friends in a parking lot by a mall. So why would she agree supposedly her frame of mind: fear of getting involved in what was not her
to act as Webbs messenger, using her gas, to bring his message to Carmela business.
at her home. More inexplicably, what motivated Alfaro to stick it out the whole But if that were the case, how could she testify based on personal
night with Webb and his friends? knowledge of what went on in the house? Alfaro had to change that frame of
They were practically strangers to her and her boyfriend Estrada. When it mind to one of boldness and reckless curiosity. So that is what she next claimed.
came to a point that Webb decided with his friends to gang-rape Carmela, She went back into the house to watch as Webb raped Carmela on the floor of
the masters bedroom. He had apparently stabbed to death Carmelas mom and
her young sister whose bloodied bodies were sprawled on the bed. Now, Alfaro Lejano vs. People
testified he saw the group in those two instances. And he did not notice anything
140 suspicious about their coming and going.
140 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED But Whites testimony cannot be relied on. His initial claim turned out to be
Lejano vs. People inaccurate. He actually saw Gatchalian and his group enter the Pitong Daan
that she got scared (another shift to fear) for she hurriedly got out of the house Subdivision only once. They were not going in and out. Furthermore, Alfaro
after Webb supposedly gave her a meaningful look. testified that when the convoy of cars went back the second time in the direction
Alfaro quickly went to her car, not minding Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, of Carmelas house, she alone entered the subdivision and passed the
Rodriguez, and Filart who sat on the car or milled on the sidewalk. She did not guardhouse without stopping. Yet, White who supposedly manned that
speak to them, even to Estrada, her boyfriend. She entered her car and turned guardhouse did not notice her.
on the engine but she testified that she did not know where to go. This woman Surprisingly, White failed to note Biong, a police officer, entering or exiting
who a few minutes back led Webb, Lejano, and Ventura into the house, knowing the subdivision on the early morning of June 30 when he supposedly cleaned
that they were decided to rape and harm Carmela, was suddenly too shocked up Vizconde residence on Webbs orders. What is more, White did not notice
to know where to go! This emotional pendulum swing indicates a witness who Carmela arrive with her mom before Alfaros first visit that night. Carmela
was confused with her own lies. supposedly left with a male companion in her car at around 10:30 p.m. but White
4. The supposed corroborations did not notice it. He also did not notice Carmela reenter the subdivision. White
Intending to provide corroboration to Alfaros testimony, the prosecution actually discredited Alfaros testimony about the movements of the persons
presented six additional witnesses: involved.
Dr. Prospero A. Cabanayan, the NBI Medico-Legal Officer who autopsied Further, while Alfaro testified that it was the Mazda pick-up driven by Filart
the bodies of the victims, testified on the stab wounds they sustained14 and the that led the three-vehicle convoy,17White claimed it was the Nissan Patrol with
presence of semen in Carmelas genitalia,15 indicating that she had been Gatchalian on it that led the convoy since he would not have let the convoy in
raped.Normal E. White, Jr., was the security guard on duty at Pitong Daan without ascertaining that Gatchalian, a resident, was in it. Security guard White
Subdivision from 7 p.m. of June 29 to 7 a.m. of June 30, 1991. He got a report did not, therefore, provide corroboration to Alfaros testimony.
on the morning of June 30 that something untoward happened at the Vizconde Justo Cabanacan, the security supervisor at Pitong Daan Subdivision
residence. He went there and saw the dead bodies in the masters bedroom, testified that he saw Webb around the last week of May or the first week of June
the bag on the dining table, as well as the loud noise emanating from a television 1991 to prove his presence in the Philippines when he claimed to be in the
set.16 United States. He was manning the guard house at the entrance of the
White claimed that he noticed Gatchalian and his companions, none of subdivision of Pitong Daan when he flagged down a car driven by Webb. Webb
whom he could identify, go in and out of Pitong Daan Subdivision. He also saw said that he would see Lilet Sy. Cabanacan asked him for an ID but he pointed
them along Vinzons Street. Later, they entered Pitong Daan Subdivision in a to his United BF Homes sticker and said that he resided there. Cabanacan
three-car convoy. White could not, however, describe the kind of vehicles they replied, however, that Pitong Daan had a local sticker.
used or recall the time when _______________
_______________
17 TSN October 10, 1995, pp. 97-98 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 271-272).
14 Exhibits G to G-2, Q to R, V, W and X, Records, Vol. 8, pp. 308-310, 323-324, 142
328-330. 142 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
15 Exhibits H to K, Records, Vol. 8, pp. 311-315; TSN, January 30, 1996, pp. xx.
16 TSN, March 25, 1996, pp. 8-14, 17-34. Lejano vs. People
141 Cabanacan testified that, at this point, Webb introduced himself as the son
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 141 of Congressman Webb. Still, the supervisor insisted on seeing his ID. Webb
grudgingly gave it and after seeing the picture and the name on it, Cabanacan What is more, it was most unlikely for a laundrywoman who had been there
returned the same and allowed Webb to pass without being logged in as their for only four months to collect, as she claimed, the laundry from the rooms of
Standard Operating Procedure required.18 her employers and their grown up children at four in the morning while they were
But Cabanacans testimony could not be relied on. Although it was not asleep.
common for a security guard to challenge a Congressmans son with such And it did not make sense, if Alfaros testimony were to be believed that
vehemence, Cabanacan did not log the incident on the guardhouse book. Nor Webb, who was so careful and clever that he called Biong to go to the Vizconde
did he, contrary to prescribed procedure, record the visitors entry into the residence at 2 a.m. to clean up the evidence against him and his group, would
subdivision. It did not make sense that Cabanacan was strict in the matter of bring his bloodied shirt home and put it in the hamper for laundrywoman Gaviola
seeing Webbs ID but not in recording the visit. to collect and wash at 4 a.m. as was her supposed habit.
Mila Gaviola used to work as laundry woman for the Webbs at their house Lolita De Birrer was accused Biongs girlfriend around the time the
at BF Homes Executive Village. She testified that she saw Webb at his parents Vizconde massacre took place. Birrer testified that she was with Biong playing
house on the morning of June 30, 1991 when she got the dirty clothes from the mahjong from the evening of June 29, 1991 to the early morning of June 30,
room that he and two brothers occupied at about 4.a.m. She saw him again when Biong got a call at around 2 a.m. This prompted him, according to De
pacing the floor at 9 a.m. At about 1 p.m., Webb left the house in t-shirt and Birrer, to leave and go to BF. Someone sitting at the backseat of a taxi picked
shorts, passing through a secret door near the maids quarters on the way out. him up. When Biong returned at 7 a.m. he washed off what looked like dried
Finally, she saw Webb at 4 p.m. of the same day.19 blood from his fingernails. And he threw away a foul-smelling handkerchief. She
On cross-examination, however, Gaviola could not say what distinguished also saw Biong take out a knife with aluminum cover from his drawer and hid it
June 30, 1991 from the other days she was on service at the Webb household in his steel cabinet.21
as to enable her to distinctly remember, four years later, what one of the Webb The security guard at Pitong Daan did not notice any police investigator
boys did and at what time. She could not remember any of the details that flashing a badge to get into the village although Biong supposedly came in at
happened in the household on the other days. She proved to have a selective the unholy hour of two in the morning. His departure before 7 a.m. also remained
photographic memory and this only damaged her testimony. unnoticed by the subdivision guards. Besides, if he had cleaned up the crime
Gaviola tried to corroborate Alfaros testimony by claiming that on June 30, scene shortly after midnight, what was the point of his returning there on the
1991 she noticed bloodstains on Webbs t-shirt.20 She did not call the attention following morning to
of anybody in the household about it when it would _______________
_______________
21 TSN, April 16, 1996, pp. 18-38, 79.
18 TSN, March 14, 1996, pp. 79-89, 103-104. 144
19 TSN, December 5, 1995, pp. 21-65. 144 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
20 Id.
143
Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 143 dispose of some of the evidence in the presence of other police investigators
and on-lookers? In fact, why would he steal valuable items from the Vizconde
Lejano vs. People residence on his return there hours later if he had the opportunity to do it earlier?
have been a point of concern that Webb may have been hurt, hence the blood. At most, Birrers testimony only established Biongs theft of certain items
Besides, Victoria Ventoso, the Webbs housemaid from March 1989 to May from the Vizconde residence and gross neglect for failing to maintain the
1992, and Sgt. Miguel Muoz, the Webbs security aide in 1991, testified that sanctity of the crime scene by moving around and altering the effects of the
Gaviola worked for the Webbs only from January 1991 to April 1991. Ventoso crime. Birrers testimony failed to connect Biongs acts to Webb and the other
further testified that it was not Gaviolas duty to collect the clothes from the 2nd accused.
floor bedrooms, this being the work of the housemaid charged with cleaning the
rooms.
Lauro Vizconde testified about how deeply he was affected by the loss of himself like anyone who had lost a special friend normally would. Obviously, Mr.
her wife and two daughters. Carmella spoke to him of a rejected suitor she X did not exist, a mere ghost of the imagination of Alfaro, the woman who made
called Bagyo, because he was a Paraaque politicians son. Unfortunately, a living informing on criminals.
Lauro did not appear curious enough to insist on finding out who the rejected
fellow was. Besides, his testimony contradicts that of Alfaro who testified that Webbs U.S. Alibi
Carmela and Webb had an on-going relation. Indeed, if Alfaro were to be
believed, Carmela wanted Webb to come to her house around midnight. She Among the accused, Webb presented the strongest alibi.
even left the kitchen door open so he could enter the house. a. The travel preparations
5. The missing corroboration Webb claims that in 1991 his parents, Senator Freddie Webb and his wife,
There is something truly remarkable about this case: the prosecutions core Elizabeth, sent their son to the United States (U.S.) to learn the value of
theory that Carmela and Webb had been sweethearts, that she had been independence, hard work, and money.22 Gloria Webb, his aunt, accompanied
unfaithful to him, and that it was for this reason that Webb brought his friends to him. Rajah Tours booked their flight to San Francisco viaUnited Airlines.
her house to gang-rape her is totally uncorroborated! Josefina Nolasco of Rajah Tours confirmed that Webb and his aunt used their
For instance, normally, if Webb, a Congressmans son, courted the young plane tickets.
Carmela, that would be news among her circle of friends if not around town. Webb told his friends, including his neighbor, Jennifer Claire Cabrera, and
But, here, none of her friends or even those who knew either of them came his basketball buddy, Joselito Orendain Escobar, of his travel plans. He even
forward to affirm this. And if Webb hanged around with her, trying to win her invited them to his despedida party on March 8,
_______________
favors, he would surely be seen with her. And this would all the more be so if
they had become sweethearts, a relation that Alfaro tried to project with her 22 TSN, August 14, 1997 and September 1, 1997.
testimony. 146
But, except for Alfaro, the NBI asset, no one among Carmelas friends or her 146 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
friends friends would testify ever hearing of such relationship or ever seeing Lejano vs. People
them together in some popular hangouts in 1991 at Faces Disco along Makati Ave.23 On March 8, 1991, the eve of his
145
departure, he took girlfriend Milagros Castillo to a dinner at Bunchums at the
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 145 Makati Cinema Square. His basketball buddy Rafael Jose with Tina Calma, a
Lejano vs. People blind date arranged by Webb, joined them. They afterwards went to Faces Disco
Paraaque or Makati. Alfaros claim of a five-hour drama is like an alien page, for Webbs despedida party. Among those present were his friends Paulo
rudely and unconnectedly inserted into Webb and Carmelas life stories or like Santos and Jay Ortega.24
a piece of jigsaw puzzle trimmed to fit into the shape on the board but does not b. The two immigration checks
belong because it clashes with the surrounding pieces. It has neither antecedent The following day, March 9, 1991, Webb left for San Francisco, California,
nor concomitant support in the verifiable facts of their personal histories. It is with his Aunt Gloria on board United Airlines Flight 808.25 Before boarding his
quite unreal. plane, Webb passed through the Philippine Immigration booth at the airport to
What is more, Alfaro testified that she saw Carmela drive out of her house have his passport cleared and stamped. Immigration Officer, Ferdinand Sampol
with a male passenger, Mr. X, whom Alfaro thought the way it looked was also checked Webbs visa, stamped, and initialed his passport, and let him pass
Carmelas lover. This was the all-important reason Webb supposedly had for through.26 He was listed on the United Airlines Flights Passenger Manifest.27
wanting to harm her. Again, none of Carmelas relatives, friends, or people who On arrival at San Francisco, Webb went through the U.S. Immigration where
knew her ever testified about the existence of Mr. X in her life. Nobody has come his entry into that country was recorded. Thus, the U.S. Immigration
forward to testify having ever seen him with Carmela. And despite the gruesome Naturalization Service, checking with its Non-immigrant Information System,
news about her death and how Mr. X had played a role in it, he never presented
confirmed Webbs entry into the U.S. on March 9, 1991. Webb presented at the 31 TSN, June 3, 1997, pp. 14-33; photograph before the concert Exhibit 295, Records (Vol. 2),
p. 208.
trial the INS Certification issued by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization 32 TSN, April 23, 1997, pp. 128-129, 134-148.
Service,28 the computer-generated print-out of the US-INS indicating Webbs 33 TSN, April 30, 1997, pp. 69-71.
entry on March 9, 1991,29 and the US-INS Certification dated August 31, 34 TSN, June 2, 1997, pp. 51-64, 75-78.
1995,authenticated by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, correcting 35 TSN, June 16, 1997, pp. 12, 16-38, 43-59 and 69-93.
36 Exhibits 305.
an earlier August 10, 1995 Certification.30 37 Exhibits 306 and 307.
_______________ 38 Exhibits 344 and 346.
39 Exhibits 244, 245 and 246.
23 TSN, July 9, 1997, pp. 22-26. 40 TSN, July 16, 1997, pp. 35, 41-42, 48-49, 58, 61-62.
24 TSN, July 8, 1997, pp. 15-19; and TSN, June 9, 1997, pp. 22-26. 41 TSN, July 16, 1996, pp. 16-17, 23-32, 61-63, 78-84.
25 Exhibit 227. 148
26 TSN, May 28, 1997, pp. 112-118, 121-122.
27 Exhibit 223. 148 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
28 Exhibits 207 to 219. Lejano vs. People
29 Exhibit 207-B. saw Webb looking at the plates of his new car.42 To prove the purchase, Webb
30 Exhibit 212-D.
147 presented the Public Records of California Department of Motor Vehicle43 and a
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 147 car plate LEW WEBB.44 In using the car in the U.S., Webb even received traffic
citations.45
Lejano vs. People
On June 30, 1991 Webb, again accompanied by his father and
c. Details of U.S. sojourn
Aragon,46 bought a bicycle at Orange Cycle Center.47 The Center issued Webb
In San Francisco, Webb and his aunt Gloria were met by the latters
a receipt dated June 30, 1991.48 On July 4, 1991, Independence Day, the
daughter, Maria Teresa Keame, who brought them to Glorias house in Daly
Webbs, the Brottmans, and the Vaca family had a lakeside picnic.49
City, California. During his stay with his aunt, Webb met Christopher Paul
Webb stayed with the Brottmans until mid July and rented a place for less
Legaspi Esguerra, Glorias grandson. In April 1991, Webb, Christopher, and a
than a month. On August 4, 1991 he left for Longwood, Florida, to stay with the
certain Daphne Domingo watched the concert of Deelite Band in San
spouses Jack and Sonja Rodriguez.50 There, he met Armando Rodriguez with
Francisco.31 In the same month, Dorothy Wheelock and her family invited Webb
whom he spent time, playing basketball on weekends, watching movies, and
to Lake Tahoe to return the Webbs hospitality when she was in the Philippines.32
playing billiards.51 In November 1991, Webb met performing artist Gary
In May 1991, on invitation of another aunt, Susan Brottman, Webb moved
Valenciano, a friend of Jack Rodriguez, who was invited for a dinner at the
to Anaheim Hills, California.33During his stay there, he occupied himself with
Rodriguezs house.52 He left the Rodriguezs home in August 1992, returned to
playing basketball once or twice a week with Steven Keeler34 and working at his
Anaheim and stayed with his aunt Imelda Pagaspas. He stayed there until he
cousin-in-laws pest control company.35 Webb presented the companys logbook
left for the Philippines on October 26, 1992.
showing the tasks he performed,36 his paycheck,37 his ID, and other employment
d. The second immigration checks
papers. On June 14, 1991 he applied for a drivers license38and wrote three
As with his trip going to the U.S., Webb also went through both the U.S. and
letters to his friend Jennifer Cabrera.39
Philippine immigrations on his return trip. Thus, his departure from the U.S. was
On June 28, 1991, Webbs parents visited him at Anaheim and stayed with
confirmed by the same certifications that con-
the Brottmans. On the same day, his father introduced Honesto Aragon to his _______________
son when he came to visit.40 On the following day, June 29, Webb, in the
company of his father and Aragon went to Riverside, California, to look for a car. 42 TSN, June 26, 1997, pp. 13-28.
They bought an MR2 Toyota car.41 Later that day, a visitor at the Brottmans, 43 Exhibit 338.
44 Exhibit 348.
Louis Whittacker, 45 Exhibits 341 and 342.
_______________ 46 TSN, July 16, 1996, pp. 16-17, 23-32, 61-63, 78-84.
47 Exhibit 349. 150 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
48 Exhibit 337-B.
49 TSN, May 9, 1996, pp. 26-32, 37, 44-57. Lejano vs. People
50 Id. truth that the accused is really innocent have any chance of prevailing over such
51 TSN, July 7, 1997, pp. 19-35. a stone-cast tenet?
52 TSN, July 2, 1997, pp. 33-37.
149 There is only one way. A judge must keep an open mind. He must guard
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 149 against slipping into hasty conclusion, often arising from a desire to quickly
finish the job of deciding a case. A positive declaration from a witness that he
Lejano vs. People
saw the accused commit the crime should not automatically cancel out the
firmed his entry.53 Furthermore, a Diplomatic Note of the U.S. Department of
accuseds claim that he did not do it. A lying witness can make as positive an
State with enclosed letter from Acting Director Debora A. Farmer of the Records
identification as a truthful witness can. The lying witness can also say as
Operations, Office of Records of the US-INS stated that the Certification dated
forthrightly and unequivocally, He did it! without blinking an eye.
August 31, 1995 is a true and accurate statement. And when he boarded his
Rather, to be acceptable, the positive identification must meet at least two
plane, the Passenger Manifest of Philippine Airlines Flight No. 103,54 certified by
criteria:
Agnes Tabuena55 confirmed his return trip.
First, the positive identification of the offender must come from a credible
When he arrived in Manila, Webb again went through the Philippine
witness. She is credible who can be trusted to tell the truth, usually based on
Immigration. In fact, the arrival stamp and initial on his passport indicated his
past experiences with her. Her word has, to one who knows her, its weight in
return to Manila on October 27, 1992. This was authenticated by Carmelita
gold.
Alipio, the immigration officer who processed Webbs reentry.56 Upon his return,
And second, the witness story of what she personally saw must be
in October 1992, Paolo Santos, Joselito Erondain Escobar, and Rafael Jose
believable, not inherently contrived. A witness who testifies about something
once again saw Webb playing basketball at the BFs Phase III basketball court.
she never saw runs into inconsistencies and makes bewildering claims.
e. Alibi versus positive identification
Here, as already fully discussed above, Alfaro and her testimony fail to meet
The trial court and the Court of Appeals are one in rejecting as weak Webbs
the above criteria.
alibi. Their reason is uniform: Webbs alibi cannot stand against Alfaros positive
She did not show up at the NBI as a spontaneous witness bothered by her
identification of him as the rapist and killer of Carmela and, apparently, the killer
conscience. She had been hanging around that agency for sometime as a stool
as well of her mother and younger sister. Because of this, to the lower courts,
pigeon, one paid for mixing up with criminals and squealing on them. Police
Webbs denial and alibi were fabricated.
assets are often criminals themselves. She was the prosecutions worst
But not all denials and alibis should be regarded as fabricated. Indeed, if the
possible choice for a witness. Indeed, her superior testified that she volunteered
accused is truly innocent, he can have no other defense but denial and alibi. So
to play the role of a witness in the Vizconde killings when she could not produce
how can such accused penetrate a mind that has been made cynical by the rule
a man she promised to the NBI.
drilled into his head that a defense of alibi is a hangmans noose in the face of
And, although her testimony included details, Alfaro had prior access to the
a witness positively swearing, I saw him do it.? Most judges believe that such
details that the investigators knew of the case. She took advantage of her
assertion automatically dooms an alibi which is so easy to fabricate. This quick
familiarity with these details to include in her testimony the clearly incompatible
stereotype thinking, however, is distressing. For how else can the
_______________
act of Webb hurling a stone at the front door glass frames even when they were
trying to slip away qui-
53 Exhibit 212-D. 151
54 Exhibit 261. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 151
55 Exhibit 260.
56 TSN, June 23, 1997.
Lejano vs. People
150
etlyjust so she can accommodate this crime scene feature. She also had The courts below held that, despite his evidence, Webb was actually in
Ventura rummaging a bag on the dining table for a front door key that nobody Paraaque when the Vizconde killings took place; he was not in the U.S. from
needed just to explain the physical evidence of that bag and its scattered March 9, 1991 to October 27, 1992; and if he did leave on March 9, 1991, he
contents. And she had Ventura climbing the cars hood, risking being seen in actually returned before June 29, 1991, committed the crime, erased the fact of
such an awkward position, when they did not need to darken the garage to force his return to the Philippines from the records of the U.S. and Philippine
open the front doorjust so to explain the darkened light and foot prints on the Immigrations, smuggled himself out of the Philippines and into the U.S., and
car hood. returned the normal way on October 27, 1992. But this ruling practically makes
Further, her testimony was inherently incredible. Her story that Gatchalian, the death of Webb and his passage into the next life the only acceptable alibi in
Fernandez, Estrada, Rodriguez, and Filart agreed to take their turns raping the Philippines. Courts must abandon this unjust and inhuman paradigm.
Carmela is incongruent with their indifference, exemplified by remaining outside If one is cynical about the Philippine system, he could probably claim that
the house, milling under a street light, visible to neighbors and passersby, and Webb, with his fathers connections, can arrange for the local immigration to put
showing no interest in the developments inside the house, like if it was their turn a March 9, 1991 departure stamp on his passport and an October 27, 1992
to rape Carmela. Alfaros story that she agreed to serve as Webbs messenger arrival stamp on the same. But this is pure speculation since there had been no
to Carmela, using up her gas, and staying with him till the bizarre end when they indication that such arrangement was made. Besides, how could Webb fix a
were practically strangers, also taxes incredulity. foreign airlines passenger manifest, officially filed in the Philippines and at the
To provide basis for Webbs outrage, Alfaro said that she followed Carmela airport in the U.S. that had his name on them? How could Webb fix with the U.S.
to the main road to watch her let off a lover on Aguirre Avenue. And, Immigrations record system those two dates in its record of his travels as well
inexplicably, although Alfaro had only played the role of messenger, she as the dates when he supposedly departed in secret from the U.S. to commit
claimed leading Webb, Lejano, and Ventura into the house to gang-rape the crime in the Philippines and then return there? No one has come up with a
Carmella, as if Alfaro was establishing a reason for later on testifying on logical and plausible answer to these questions.
personal knowledge. Her swing from an emotion of fear when a woman woke The Court of Appeals rejected the evidence of Webbs passport since he did
up to their presence in the house and of absolute courage when she not leave the original to be attached to the record. But, while the best evidence
nonetheless returned to become the lone witness to a grim scene is also quite of a document is the original, this means that the same is exhibited in court for
inexplicable. the adverse party to examine and for the judge to see. As Court of Appeals
Ultimately, Alfaros quality as a witness and her inconsistent, if not inherently Justice Tagle said in his dissent,59 the practice when a party does not want to
unbelievable, testimony cannot be the positive identification that jurisprudence leave an important
acknowledges as sufficient to jettison a denial and an alibi. _______________
f. A documented alibi
58 People v. Saban, G.R. No. 110559, November 24, 1999, 319 SCRA 36, 46.
To establish alibi, the accused must prove by positive, clear, and satisfactory 59 Rollo (G.R. 176839), pp. 216-217.
evidence57 that (a) he was present at another place at the 153
_______________ VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 153
57 People v. Hillado, 367 Phil. 29; 307 SCRA 535 (1999). Lejano vs. People
152 document with the trial court is to have a photocopy of it marked as exhibit and
152 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED stipulated among the parties as a faithful reproduction of the original.
Lejano vs. People Stipulations in the course of trial are binding on the parties and on the court.
time of the perpetration of the crime, and (b) that it was physically impossible The U.S. Immigration certification and the computer print-out of Webbs
for him to be at the scene of the crime.58 arrival in and departure from that country were authenticated by no less than
the Office of the U.S. Attorney General and the State Department. Still the Court
of Appeals refused to accept these documents for the reason that Webb failed Also, Richard L. Huff, Co-Director of the Office of Information and privacy, US
to present in court the immigration official who prepared the same. But this was Department of Justice, in response to the appeal raised by Consul General
unnecessary. Webbs passport is a document issued by the Philippine Teresita V. Marzan, explained that the INS normally does not maintain records
government, which under international practice, is the official record of travels on individuals who are entering the country as visitors rather than as
immigrants: and that a notation concerning the entry of a visitor may be made at
of the citizen to whom it is issued. The entries in that passport are presumed
the Nonimmigrant Information system. Since appellant Webb entered the U.S. on
true.60 a mere tourist visa, obviously, the initial search could not have produced the
The U.S. Immigration certification and computer print-out, the official desired result inasmuch as the data base that was looked into contained entries
certifications of which have been authenticated by the Philippine Department of of the names of IMMIGRANTS and not that of NON-IMMIGRANT visitors of the
Foreign Affairs, merely validated the arrival and departure stamps of the U.S. U.S..62
Immigration office on Webbs passport. They have the same evidentiary value. The trial court and the Court of Appeals expressed marked cynicism over
The officers who issued these certifications need not be presented in court to the accuracy of travel documents like the passport as well as the domestic and
testify on them. Their trustworthiness arises from the sense of official duty and foreign records of departures and arrivals from airports. They claim that it would
the penalty attached to a breached duty, in the routine and disinterested origin not have been impossible for Webb to secretly return to the Philippines after he
of such statement and in the publicity of the record.61 supposedly left it on March 9, 1991, commit the crime, go back to the U.S., and
The Court of Appeals of course makes capital of the fact that an earlier openly return to the Philippines again on October 26, 1992. Travel between the
certification from the U.S. Immigration office said that it had no record of Webb U.S. and the Philippines, said the lower courts took only about twelve to fourteen
entering the U.S. But that erroneous first certification was amply explained by hours.
the U.S. Government and Court of Appeals Justice Tagle stated it in his If the Court were to subscribe to this extremely skeptical view, it might as
dissenting opinion, thus: well tear the rules of evidence out of the law books and regard suspicions,
While it is true that an earlier Certification was issued by the U.S. INS on surmises, or speculations as reasons for impeaching evidence. It is not that
August 16, 1995 finding no evidence of lawful admission of Webb, this was official records, which carry the presumption of
already clarified and deemed erroneous by no less than the US INS Officials. As _______________
explained by witness Leo Herrera-Lim, Consul and Second Secretary of
the Philippine Embassy in Washing- 62 Rollo (G.R. 176839), pp. 218-219.
_______________ 155
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 155
60 Section 44, Rule 130, Rules of Court.
61 Antilon v. Barcelona, 37 Phil. 148 (1917). Lejano vs. People
154 truth of what they state, are immune to attack. They are not. That presumption
154 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED can be overcome by evidence. Here, however, the prosecution did not bother
Lejano vs. People to present evidence to impeach the entries in Webbs passport and the
ton D.C., said Certification did not pass through proper diplomatic channels and certifications of the Philippine and U.S. immigration services regarding his
was obtained in violation of the rules on protocol and standard procedure travel to the U.S. and back. The prosecutions rebuttal evidence is the fear of
governing such request. the unknown that it planted in the lower courts minds.
The initial request was merely initiated by BID Commissioner Verceles who 7. Effect of Webbs alibi to others
directly communicated with the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, USA, Webbs documented alibi altogether impeaches Alfaros testimony, not only
bypassing the Secretary of Foreign Affairs which is the proper protocol
with respect to him, but also with respect to Lejano, Estrada, Fernandez,
procedure. Mr. Steven Bucher, the acting Chief of the Records Services Board of
US-INS Washington D.C. in his letter addressed to Philip Antweiler, Philippine Gatchalian, Rodriguez, and Biong. For, if the Court accepts the proposition that
Desk Officer, State Department, declared the earlier Certification as incorrect and Webb was in the U.S. when the crime took place, Alfaros testimony will not hold
erroneous as it was not exhaustive and did not reflect all available information.
together. Webbs participation is the anchor of Alfaros story. Without it, the Brion, J., I certify that J. Brion cast a dissenting vote with
evidence against the others must necessarily fall. Villarama. See Supplemental Opinion.
Del Castillo, J., No Part.
Conclusion Villarama, Jr., J., See Dissenting Opinion.
Mendoza, J., I vote for the vacation of the verdict of conviction there being
In our criminal justice system, what is important is, not whether the court a lingering doubt.
entertains doubts about the innocence of the accused since an open mind is Sereno, J., See Separate Concurring Opinion.
willing to explore all possibilities, but whether it entertains a reasonable,
lingering doubt as to his guilt. For, it would be a serious mistake to send an CONCURRING OPINION
innocent man to jail where such kind of doubt hangs on to ones inner being,
like a piece of meat lodged immovable between teeth. CARPIO-MORALES, J.:
Will the Court send the accused to spend the rest of their lives in prison on While it should be the common desire of bench and bar that crime is not left
the testimony of an NBI asset who proposed to her handlers that she take the unpunished, it is no less important, if not more so, that the innocent be shielded from
role of the witness to the Vizconde massacre that she could not produce? hasty prosecution and rash conviction. We have nothing but praise for sincerity and
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the Decision dated zeal in the enforcement of the law. Nevertheless, the undeserved penaltiesinflicted
upon the blameless, and the indelible stain
December 15, 2005 and Resolution dated January 26, 2007 of the Court of 157
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. 00336 and ACQUITS accused-appellants Hubert VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 157
Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Lejano, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio Fernandez,
Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada and Gerardo Biong of the crimes of which they Lejano vs. People
upon their name, which is never quite washed away by time, should caution all
were charged for fail-
concerned to a more careful and conscientious scrutiny of all the facts before the
156
finger is pointed and the stone is cast.1 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
156 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
And so, as in all criminal cases, the very voluminous records of the present
Lejano vs. People cases call for a more careful and conscientious scrutiny in order to determine
ure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. They are what the facts are before the accuseds conviction is affirmed.
ordered immediately RELEASED from detention unless they are confined for On June 30, 1991, Estrellita Vizconde and her daughters, then 19-year old
another lawful cause. Carmela and then seven-year old Jennifer, were found dead in their home at
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Director, Bureau of Corrections, No. 80 Vinzons Street, BF Homes Subdivision, Paraaque. They all bore
Muntinlupa City for immediate implementation. The Director of the Bureau of multiple stab wounds on different parts of their bodies. Some of their personal
Corrections is DIRECTED to report the action he has taken to this Court within belongings appeared to be missing.
five days from receipt of this Decision. An intense and sustained investigation conducted by the police resulted in
SO ORDERED. the arrest of a group of suspects, the Akyat Bahay gang members, some of
Peralta, Bersamin and Perez, JJ., concur. whom gave detailed confessions to having committed the crimes, hence, their
Corona (C.J), I join the dissent of J. Villarama. indictment in court.2 The Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 63
Carpio, J., No Part, I testified in this case. eventually found those suspects to have been victims of police frame-up,
Carpio-Morales, J., Please see Concurring Opinion. however, and were thus ordered discharged.
Velasco, Jr., J., On Official Business. Subsequently, in 1995, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which
Nachura, J., No Part. Filed pleading as Sol Gen. conducted a parallel investigation announced that it had solved
Leonardo-De Castro, J., I join the dissent of J.Villarama. _______________
1 Salvacion v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. L-68633, July 11 1986, 142 SCRA 707, 713. abuse of authority as police officer, the above-named principal accused, to conceal or
2 The cases were (1) Criminal Case No. 91-7135 filed by then Assistant Chief State Prosecutor destroy the effects or instruments thereof by failing to preserve the physical evidence
Aurelio C. Trampe before the sala of Judge Julio R. Logarta of the Makati City RTC, Branch 63, on and allowing their destruction in order to prevent the discovery of the crime.
November 11, 1991 (for robbery with homicide) against Villardo Barroso y Datuin, Roberto Barroso
_______________
y Datuin Rolando Mendoza y Gomez, Ernesto Cesar, Bienvenido Baydo, Angelito Santos y Bisen,
Rey Doe and several other John Does still at large; (2) Criminal Case No. 91-7136 (for the rape with
3 Records, Vol. I, pp. 1-3.
homicide of Carmela Nicolas Vizconde filed by ACSP Aurelio C. Trampe with the same RTC, Branch
63, on November 11, 1919) also against the same accused and (3) Criminal Case No. 91-7137 (for 159
robbery, with homicide wherein the victim was ESTRELLITA NICOLAS VISCONDE) likewise filed VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 159
against the same accused by ACSP Aurelio C. Trampe. Lejano vs. People
158
The case was, after the Presiding Judge of Branch 258 of the Paraaque
158 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED RTC inhibited, re-raffled to Branch 274 of the Paraaque RTC. The trial court,
Lejano vs. People then presided over by Judge Amelita G. Tolentino, tried only seven of the
the crime by presenting its star witness in the person of Jessica accused, Artemio Ventura and Joey Filart having remained at large.4
Alfaro y Mincey (Alfaro), one of its informers or assets, who claimed to have At the trial, the prosecution presented Alfaro as its main witness. The other
been an eyewitness to the crime. She named the accused Hubert Jeffrey P. witnesses were Dr. Prospero Cabanayan, the medico-legal officer who
Webb, Antonio Tony Boy Lejano, Artemio Dong Ventura, Michael A. autopsied the bodies of the victims; Lolita Carrera Birrer, an ex-lover of
Gatchalian, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Peter Estrada, Miguel Ging Gerardo Biong; Mila Gaviola, former laundrywoman of the Webbs; Normal
Rodriguez, and Joey Filart as the culprits. She also tagged Paraaque police White and Justo Cabanacan, security personnel of the Pitong
officer Gerardo Biong as an accessory after the fact. On the basis of Alfaros Daan Subdivision, BF Homes, Paraaque, and Lauro G. Vizconde, Estrellitas
account, an Information was filed on August 10, 1995 before the Paraaque husband.
RTC against Webb, et al.3 for rape with homicide, reading as follows: The defense presented testimonial evidence which tended to cast a bad light
That on or about the evening of June 29 up to the early morning of June 30, 1991, on Alfaros reputation for truth, as well as on the implausibility of her account.
in the municipality of Paraaque, province of Rizal, Philippines, and within the
At all events, some of the accused invoked alibi, claiming to have been
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb conspiring and
confederating with accused Antonio Tony Boy Lejano, Artemio Dong Ventura, somewhere else at the time of the commission of the crime. In Webbs case, he
Michael Gatchalian y Adviento, Hiospicio Pyke Fernandez, Peter Estrada, Miguel presented documentary and testimonial proof that he was in the United States
Ging Rodriguez and Joey Filart, mutually helping one another, while armed with of America from March 1991 to October 1992.
bladed instruments, with the use of force and intimidation, with lewd design, with abuse The trial court, impressed by Alfaros detailed narration of the events
of superior strength, nighttime and with the use of motor vehicle, willfully, unlawfully surrounding the commission of the crime, deemed her a credible witness after
and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the person of Carmela Vizconde against her finding her testimony to have been corroborated by those of the other
will and consent. prosecution witnesses, as well as by the physical evidence. To the trial court,
That by reason or on the occasion of the aforesaid rape or immediately thereafter, her testimony was categorical, straightforward, spontaneous, and frank, and
the above-named accused with intent to kill, conspiring and confederating together, withstood grueling cross-examinations by the different defense counsel.
mutually helping one another, did then and there and with evidence premeditation, On the other hand, it belittled the denial and alibi of accused Webb, Lejano,
abuse of superior strength, nighttime, with the use of motor vehicle, assault and stab
Rodriguez, and Gatchalian in light of their positive identification by Alfaro.
with bladed instruments Carmela Vizconde, Estrellita Vizconde and Jennifer Vizconde, _______________
thereby inflicting upon them numerous stab wounds in different parts of their bodies
which caused their instantaneous death. 4 Rollo (G.R. No. 176389), pp. 393-399 and Rollo (G.R. No. 176864), pp. 80-104.
The accused GERARDO BIONG and JOHN DOES having knowledge after the 160
commission of the above-mentioned crime, and without having participated therein as 160 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
principals or accomplices, took part subsequent to its commission by assisting, with
Lejano vs. People
And so after a protracted trial, the trial court rendered on January 4, 2000 a for Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) analysis the semen specimen taken from
172-page decision finding all the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Carmelas cadaver, which specimen was believed to be still under the
rape with homicide. safekeeping of the NBI. The Court granted the request pursuant to Section 4 of
Thus the trial court disposed: the Rule on DNA Evidence8 to give the accused and the prosecution access to
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby finds all the principal accused GUILTY scientific evidence which could affect the result of the case.
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF RAPE WITH HOMICIDE On April 27, 2010, however, the NBI informed the Court that it no longer had
AND HEREBY SENTENCES EACH ONE OF THEM TO SUFFER THE custody of the specimen which it claimed had been turned over to the trial
PENALTY OF RECLUSION PERPETUA. This Court likewise finds the accused court. Parenthetically, the trial court records do not
Gerardo Biong GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AS AN _______________
ACCESSORY AFTER THE FACT, AND HEREBY SENTENCES HIM TO
7 Resolution dated January 26, 2007, Rollo (G.R. No. 176839), pp. 197-214. The resolution was
SUFFER AN IMPRISONMENT OF ELEVEN (11) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS penned by Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico, with the concurrence of Justices Regalado E. Maambong and
AND ONE (1) DAY TO TWELVE (12) YEARS. In addition, the Court hereby Normandie B. Pizarro. Justices Renato C. Dacudao and Lucenito N. Tagle, dissented.
orders all the accused to jointly and severally pay the victims surviving heir, Mr. 8 A.M. 06-11-5-SC effective October 15, 2007. Section 4 states:
Lauro Vizconde, the following sums by way of civil indemnity: Application for DNA Testing Order.The appropriate court may, at any time, either motu
proprio or on application of any person who has a legal interest in the matter in litigation, order a
1) The amount of P150,000.00 for wrongful death of the victims; DNA testing. Such order shall issue after due hearing and notice to the parties upon a showing of
2) The amount of P762,450.00 representing actual damages sustained by the following:
Mr. Lauro Vizconde; a. A biological sample exists that is relevant to the case;
b. The biological sample:
3) The amount of P2,000,000.00 as moral damages sustained by Mr. (i) was not previously subjected to the type of DNA testing now requested; or
Lauro Vizconde; (ii) was previously subject to DNA testing, but the results may require confirmation for good
4) The amount of P97,404.55 as attorneys fees.5 reasons;
On appeal, the Court of Appeals rendered its challenged Decision of c. The DNA testing uses a scientifically valid technique;
d. The DNA testing has the scientific potential to produce new information that is relevant to
December 15, 2005 affirming with modification the trial courts decision by the proper resolution of the case; and
reducing the penalty imposed on Biong to six years minimum and twelve years e. The existence of other factors, if any, which the court may consider as potentially affecting
maximum and increasing the award of civil indemnity to Lauro Vizconde to the accuracy or integrity of the DNA testing.
P200,000.00.6 The appellate court found that indeed there was sufficient This rule shall not preclude a DNA testing, without need of a prior court order, at the behest of
any party, including law enforcement agencies, before a suit or proceeding is commenced.
evidence that Rodriguez, Gatchalian, Fernandez, and Estrada had conspired to 162
rape and kill Carmela as well as to kill Estrellita and Jennifer. 162 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
_______________
Lejano vs. People
5 Decision dated January 4, 2000. show that the specimen was among the object evidence that was offered in
6 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, pp. 3478-3479. evidence in the case by any of the parties. It was in light of this development
161
that accused Webb filed an urgent motion to acquit on the ground that the
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 161 governments failure to preserve such vital evidence has resulted in the denial
Lejano vs. People of his right to due process.
On motion for reconsideration by the accused, the appellate courts Special In the draft decision prepared by Justice Martin S. Villarama as a basis of
Division of five members, voting three against two, sustained its affirmance of this Courts deliberation, the decision of the appellate court affirming with
the trial courts decision.7 Hence, this appeal. modification the trial courts decision was affirmed.
On April 20, 2010, as a result of its initial deliberation in this case, the Court
issued a Resolution granting the request of Webb to submit
In discussing why the Decision of the Court of Appeals is being affirmed with observation, and experience. Whatever is repugnant to these belongs to the miraculous
modification, the draft decision which was the basis of this Courts deliberations, and is outside of judicial cognizance. (underscoring supplied)
started by stating a fundamental rule, viz.: Alfaro was found both by the trial and appellate courts to be a credible
It is a fundamental rule that findings of the trial courts which are factual in nature witness. She impressed the trial court which found her to have testified in a
and which involve credibility are accorded respect when no glaring errors, gross categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner, and [to] ha[ve]
misapprehensions of facts and speculative, arbitrary and unsupported conclusions can remained consistent in her testimony.13
be gathered from such findings.9 When the trial courts findings have been affirmed by By Alfaros own admission, she was a habitual drug addict who inhaled and
the appellate court, said findings are generally conclusive and binding upon this sniffed shabu every other day14since December 1990. It was about this time
Court.10 that she met Artemio Dong Ventura who provided her with a regular supply
The draft decision, which was later adopted by the dissenters, found no of shabu at the so-called house of shabu in Paraaque.15 In March 1991, she
glaring errors, gross misapprehensions of facts and speculative, arbitrary and stopped getting her supply of shabu from Ventura as she instead got it from
unsupported conclusions made by the lower courts. It readily credited the other sources including Orly Bacquir and Cris Santos and places such as
testimony of prosecution star witness Jessica Alfaro (Alfaro) who, it observed, Quezon City, Makati and Tondo.16
underwent exhaustive and intense cross-examination by eight . . . defense _______________
lawyers . . . [and] revealed such details and observations which only a person
who was actually with the perpetrators could have known. 11 Siao Tick Chong v. Republic, No. L-22151, March 30, 1970, 32 SCRA 253, 258.
12 37 N.J. Eq. 130, 132. Cited in Salonga, Philippine Law on Evidence, 774 (1964) and VIII
The trial court banked primarily on Alfaro who claimed to be an eyewitness Francisco, The Revised Rules Of Court In The Philippines, 458-459 (1997).
to the massacre and considered the testimonies of the other prosecution 13 January 4, 2000 RTC Decision, p. 74.
witnesses as merely corroborative of hers. 14 Vide TSN, October 18, 1995, pp. 105-106.
Jurisprudence has consistently summoned, however, that for testimonial 15 TSN, October 23, 1995, pp. 6-9.
16 Id., at pp. 25-27.
evidence to be worthy of belief, it must firstly proceed from the mouth of 164
a credible witness. A person may be credible where he is 164 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
_______________
Lejano vs. People
9 People v. Pringas, G.R. No. 175928, August 31, 2007, 531 SCRA 828. In the afternoon of June 29, 1991, the date of the commission of the crime,
10 People v. De Guzman, G.R. No. 173197, April 24, 2007, 522 SCRA 207. before she and accused Peter Estrada, who she claimed was her boyfriend,
163
went to the Alabang Commercial Center, she had taken illegal drugs, and in the
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 163
evening of even date, she not only smoked shabubut sniffed cocaine as well at
Lejano vs. People the parking lot.17 It was only in about October 1994 that she stopped taking
without previous conviction of a crime; who is not a police character and has no illegal drugs.
police record; who has not perjured in the past; whose affidavit or testimony is The paper of authors Burrus and Marks, Testimonial Reliability of Drug
not incredible; who has a good standing in the community; and who is reputed Addicts,18 teaches:
to be trustworthy and reliable.11 Secondly, the persons testimony must in itself . . . [W]here the prolonged use of drugs has impaired the witness ability to perceive,
be credible. recall or relate, impeaching testimony is uniformly sustained by the courts. Aside from
Daggers v. Van Dyck12 illuminates: organic deterioration, however, testimony may be impugned if the witness was under
Evidence to be believed, must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible the influence of drugs at the time of perceiving the event about which he is testifying or
witness, but it must be credible in itselfsuch as the common experience and at the time he is on the stand. This necessarily follows, for even the temporary presence
observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances. We have of drugs affects the functioning of the bodys organs, and thus bears directly on the
no test of the truth of human testimony, except its conformity to our knowledge, credibility of the witness testimony19 (underscoring supplied)
Evidence derived from the testimony of a witness who was under the that habitual users of narcotics become notorious liars and that their testimony is likely to be affected thereby.
(Citations omitted; emphasis supplied)
influence of drugs during the incident to which he is testifying is indeed very 22 State v. Fong Loon, 29 Idaho 248, 158 Pac. 233, 236.
166
unreliable.20 So it has been held that habitual users of narcotics become 166 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
notorious liars and that their testimony is likely to be affected thereby.21
_______________ Lejano vs. People
Atty. M. Ongkiko:
Q: Yes. They could lie on the persons they go out with?
17 Id., at pp. 35-36; TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 80-96, 156-163.
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
18 35 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 259 (1960)
A: Yes, Sir.
19 Ibid. Atty. M. Ongkiko:
20 Vide 98 C.J.S. 348. Q: They could lie on the persons they meet?
21 Vide People v. Lewis, 25 Ill. 2d 396, 185 NE 2d 168 where the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled: Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
The question of whether a witness is a narcotics addict is an important consideration in passing A: Yes, Sir.
upon the credibility of a witness for, as we have stated, the testimony of a narcotics addict is subject Atty. M. Ongkiko:
to suspicion due to the fact that habitual users of narcotics become notorious liars. (citations omitted) Q: They could lie on the persons from whom they allegedly get the drugs?
In People v. Perkins, 26 Ill 2d 2300, 186 NE 2d 330 (1962) , the Supreme Court of Illinois said: Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
The defendant contends that the trial court erred in finding him guilty on the basis of the A: Yes, Sir.
uncorroborated testimony of a drug addict who was the Atty. M. Ongkiko:
165 Q: Is it not correct, Doctor, that the tendency of a drug dependent is to hide the identity of the
drug suppliers. Is this correct?
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 165 Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
Lejano vs. People A: This is our experience. I have not encountered a patient who would tell you where they get
We believe it will be admitted that habitual users of opium, or other like narcotics, their supply.
Atty. M. Ongkiko:
become notorious liars. The habit of lying comes doubtless from the fact that the users Q: Who would tell you the correct name of the drug supplier?
of those narcotics pass the greater part of their lives in an unreal world, and Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
thus become unable to distinguish between images and facts, between illusions and A: Yes, Sir.
realities.22 (underscoring supplied) Atty. M. Ongkiko:
Q: And who would tell you the correct address of the drug supplier, correct?
Defense witness Dr. Rey San Pedro, then Deputy Executive Director of the Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
Dangerous Drugs Board, opined that drug addicts or dependents are generally A: Correct.
liars who would lie for less than noble objectives, such as for money and/or to Atty. M. Ongkiko:
Q: Their tendency is to give you misleading information, correct?
satisfy their craving for attention, viz.: Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
Atty. M. Ongkiko:
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: Based on your experience, Doctor, will this dependency of shabuaffect the character of a
Atty. M. Ongkiko:
person specifically, for example, the capacity to tell the truth, would that affect?
Q: Now, would a drug dependent on shabu lie for money?167
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
A: Our general examination of patients showed that they become liars. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 167
Atty. M. Ongkiko: Lejano vs. People
Q: They become liars. Yes, what would be the usual motivation for a shabu-dependent person
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
to become liars. Why, why do they lie?
A: Yes.
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
Atty. M. Ongkiko:
A: My experience, Sir, is because they are aware that what they are doing is wrong and
Q:Yes. When I say lie for money so that she could get money?
therefore they want to hide it. Not only from the family, but also from their friends.
_______________ Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
A: She could get money.
only witness to the alleged crime, and further urges that the evidence as a whole does not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable Atty. M. Ongkiko:
doubt. We have repeatedly held that the fact that a witness is a narcotics addict and a police informer has an Q: He will, from her relatives, from her friends, or even from third persons?
important bearing upon his credibility and, while his position is not that of an accomplice, the situation is sufficiently Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
similar to that of an accomplice to warrant a close scrutiny of the testimony of such a witness, recognizing the fact
A: Yes, Sir. They even sell the family belongings.
Atty. M. Ongkiko:
Q: They even sell their personal effects? Witness Velasco:
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro: A: Well, I will consider it, Your Honor, not generally reliable.
A: Yes, Sir. Atty. Ongkiko:
Atty. M. Ongkiko: Q: Why do you say that?
Q: Would they sell their honor to get money, like a woman becoming a prostitute? Witness Velasco:
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro: A: Well, because, you know, if one is under the influence of drugs or one is considered to be
A: I have not encountered a case like that. an addict, you could hardly believe his information.
Atty. M. Ongkiko:
169
Q: You have not encountered that much. But tell me, Doctor, would they lie in order to get
attention? VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 169
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro: Lejano vs. People
A: Yes, they do.
Atty. M. Ongkiko: In their earlier mentioned paper, Burrus and Markswrite on the peculiar
Q: Yes, because they want to be the center of attention to cover up for their drug dependency, effects upon veracity of the principal types of drugs, like cocaine and
correct? amphetamine which were used by Alfaro:
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
A: Yes, Sir. x x x x
Atty. M. Ongkiko: b. CocaineCocaine is a powerful cortical stimulant which causes a state of
Q: Now, Doctor, if a person were drug dependent on shabu since 1990, 1991, up to and euphoric excitement and varying degrees of pleasurable hallucinations. Under its
including December, 1994. So, that is a long time, isnt it?168 influence, a person experiences sensations of great muscular and mental strength and
168 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED overestimates his capabilities. He is truly, at least while under the drugs influence,
Lejano vs. People in an unreal or dream world, and the majority exception of admitting impeaching
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro: testimony where the witness was under the influence of the drug at the time of
A: 90 to 94? perception or testifying seems clearly sustainable in medical evidence.
Atty. M. Ongkiko: Over time, cocaine produces on the addict a degree of physical and mental
Q: Yes, drug dependent. What would it take, Doctor, in order that we can cure this patient of
his or her dependency on shabu, what would it take? deterioration not found in connection with the use of opiates. The cocaine addict is not
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro: a normal person; many, in fact, become paranoids and suffer from feelings of
A: They have to be rehabilitated, Sir, treated and rehabilitated. persecution. Visual, auditory and tactual hallucinations are common, as are digestive
Atty. M. Ongkiko: tract disorders, and occasionally convulsions.
Q: Treated and rehabilitated, where?
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro:
It would seem to follow that, so far as medical evidence is concerned, expert
A: In a hospital. testimony should be admissible to impeach the cocaine addict. Both in its long-run
Atty. M. Ongkiko: effect of organic deterioration and in its short run influence, the drug severs the users
Q: In a hospital. Does the government provide for such facilities? contact with reality, and renders him, to that extent, unreliable. Even the majority
Witness Dr. Rey San Pedro: admits impeaching testimony in cases of organic deterioration. There are few instances
A: Yes, Sir.
x x x x23 (underscoring supplied) of deterioration more pronounced than that found in the habitual user of cocaine.
Former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Epimaco Velasco xxxx
_______________
had a view similar to that of Dr. San Pedrosthat any information which is
being furnished by a drug addict is not generally reliable and his capacity to Atty. Ongkiko:
lie may be very great.24 Q: Why, why so?
_______________ Witness Velasco:
A: Because he is not in his state of mind.
Atty. Ongkiko:
85 TSN, August 7, 1997, 35-45. Q: Well, what about the capacity to lie, Governor?
86 TSN, June 4, 1997, pp. 47-48. Witness Velasco:
Atty. Ongkiko: A: Well, the capacity to lie may be very great, Your Honor.
Q: As an investigator, Governor, will you tell the Honorable Court how did you relate or rather Atty. Ongkiko:
assess the reliability of any information furnished by a drug addict? Q: Well, because, you know, for maintaining or for in order to get money, they will lie.
(underscoring supplied) Witness Sacaguing:
170 A She liked being treated that way.
170 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Atty. Ongkiko:
Q Now tell the Honorable Court, was there ever any time where the group got tired of giving
Lejano vs. People Ms. Alfaro the VIP treatment?
e. AmphetamineSimilar to the barbiturates and bromides, amphetamine xxxx
operates upon the central nervous system, and its effect on the users ability to Atty. Ongkiko:
All right, Atty. Sacaguing, how long did you give Ms. Alfaro this VIP treatment?
perceive and accurately to relate is dependent on the amount of the drug Witness Sacaguing:
taken. Rather than a depressant however, amphetamine is a potent stimulant, the A Well, she was always there and we treated her very nicely, but later on, about . . . after the
initial proper dosage promoting wakefulness and alertness, increased initiative, lapse of about one or two weeks, the boys, I mean, my associates in my team, began
confidence, euphoria and increased motor activity. Thus, the non-addicts sparing use teasing her because she could not give us any project anymore.
Atty. Ongkiko:
of the drug, would not seem to impair reliability and impeaching testimony to this end Q What do you mean by projects, leads?
should be excluded. Witness Sacaguing:
Overdosage and repeated medication, however, can prove most harmful. Thus, the A Projects, cases we could work on.
addict may suffer vasomotor disturbances, dizziness, agitation, confusion and delirium. Atty. Ongkiko:
The usual dosage taken by the addict is sufficient to cause toxic psychosis Q I see, and what do you mean by teasing?
xxxx
characterized by hallucinations and paranoid delusions similar in effect to cocaine. In Atty. Ongkiko:
this state, the amphetamine addicts testimonial capabilities are definitely impaired. Q Mr. Sacaguing, after your group teased her because, according to you, she could not give
The result is that with amphetamine, as well as with barbiturates and bromides, you anymore projects, what was the reaction of Ms. Alfaro, if any?
impeachment should depend upon the amount of the drug taken and the extent of its Please look at the judge, please do not look at me.
Witness Sacaguing:
use. Absent excessive use to the extent of organic deterioration, the barbiturate, A She seemed to have been piqued and she said . . .172
bromide or amphetamine addict, when not intoxicated by the direct influence of the
drug, is apparently perfectly reliable and the majority judicial view, under these
172 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
circumstances seems sustainable. Also, as with marihuana, its effects vary with the Lejano vs. People
personality make-up of the user, with the result that this, too, should be considered in Atty. Ongkiko:
Q She seemed to have been what?
admitting or excluding the impeaching testimony. This, of course, broadens the inquiry Witness Sacaguing:
from the physiological-pharmacological effects of drugs upon reliability to the A Piqued, yes, napikon.
psychological framework of the user in its relation to his ability to tell the truth or Atty. Ongkiko:
proneness to lie.25 (italics in the original; emphasis and underscoring supplied) Q I see, piqued.
Witness Sacaguing:
How Alfaro got to be a star witness in this case was narrated by then NBI A Piqued.
agent Artemio Sacaguing: Atty. Ongkiko:
Atty. Ongkiko: Q Piqued. Ano yun, napikon?
Q All right, Atty. Sacaguing, how did the NBI treat Ms. Alfaro considering the assistance that he Court:
was giving your group? p i c q u e d. (underscoring in the original)
_______________ Atty. Ongkiko:
Q And when she was piqued or napikon, what did she say or what did she do?
25 Burrus and Marks Testimonial Reliability of Drug Addicts 35 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 259, 262-263, 269-270, 272-273 (1960). xxxx
171
Atty. Ongkiko:
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 171 xxxx
Lejano vs. People Q Atty. Sacaguing, how did Jessica Alfaro become a witness in the Vizconde murder case. Will
you tell the Honorable Court?
Witness Sacaguing:
Witness Sacaguing:
A We gave her very special treatment. So, we consider her already the darling of the group
A She told me, she knew somebody who . . .
because she was giving us good projects and she loved it.
Court:
Atty. Ongkiko:
Face the Court.
Q What do you mean by she loved it, she loved what?
Witness Sacaguing:
A She told me, Your Honor, that she knew somebody who related to her the A Hindi siya nakakibo, until she went away.
circumstances, I mean, the details of the massacre of the Vizconde family. Thats Atty. Ongkiko:
what she told us, Your Honor. Q She what?
Atty. Ongkiko: Witness Sacaguing:
Q And what did you say? A She went away, she went out of my office.
Please look at the Court.173 Court:
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 173 You speak clearly, Mr. Witness, I could hardly get you.
Witness Sacaguing:
Lejano vs. People A She did not answer anymore, Your Honor. She just went out of the office.
Witness Sacaguing: x x x x26 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
A I was quite interested and I tried to persuade her to introduce to me that man and she NBI agent Sacaguing was the special handler of Alfaro, an NBI asset who
promised that in due time, she will bring to me the man, and together with her, we will try
to convince him to act as a state witness and help us in the solution of the case.
regularly provided leads on projects or cases being investigated by the NBI, on
Atty. Ongkiko: which account she received special treatment. From Sacaguings above-quoted
Q Did she ever bring to you or to your office this man that, according to her, knew about the testimony, Alfaro came forward with her knowledge about the commission of
Vizconde murder case?
xxxx
the crimes only after being cajoled by the NBI agents about her lack of
Atty. Ongkiko: productivity and her failure to make good her word that she knew and would
Q Atty. Sacaguing, were you able to interview this alleged witness? bring someone who could shed light on the crimes that occurred close to four
Witness Sacaguing:
A No, sir.
years
Atty. Ongkiko: _______________
Q Why not?
Witness Sacaguing: 26 TSN, May 28, 1996, pp. 49-50, 77-79.
A Because Jessica Alfaro was never able to comply with her promise to bring the man to me. 175
She told me later that she could not, and the man does not like to testify. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 175
Atty. Ongkiko:
Q All right, and what happened after that? Lejano vs. People
Witness Sacaguing: earlier. It is thus hard to fathom how her motives for suddenly developing a first
A She told me, easy lang kayo, Sir, if I may quote, easy lang, Sir, huwag kayong . . .
Court: hand account of the commission of the crimes could be treated as anything but
Q How was that? suspect. Yet, the lower courts, despite the peculiar circumstances related by
Witness Sacaguing: Sacaguing, were not put on guard from swallowing Alfaros testimony.
A Easy lang, Sir. Sir, relax lang, Sir, papapelan ko yan, papapelan ko na lang yan.
Atty. Ongkiko: Significantly, Alfaro never disputed Sacaguings above-quoted testimoy.
Q And what did you understand by her statement as you quoted it? The trial court credited as satisfactory and plausible Alfaros explanation for
Witness Sacaguing: her silence from the time she allegedly witnessed the crimes in June 1991 up
A I thought it . . .174
to about October 1994 when the numbing effects of drug abuse only began to
174 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED wear off and she had an earnest desire to reform her life.
Lejano vs. People WITNESS JESSICA ALFARO ON CLARIFICATORY QUESTIONS BY THE
Prosecutor Zuo:
Objection, Your Honor, that is asking for the opinion of this witness, Your Honor.
COURT
Court: Court:
Reform your question. Q After that incident, did it not occur to your mind to immediately report the same to the police
Atty. Ongkiko: authorities?
Q All right, and what was your reaction when Ms. Alfaro stated that papapelan ko na lang yan? Witness Alfaro:
Witness Sacaguing: A No, Your Honor, I did not.
A I said, hindi pwede yan, kasi, hindi ka naman eye witness. Court:
Atty. Ongkiko: Q Why?
Q And what was the reply of Ms. Alfaro? Witness Alfaro:
Witness Sacaguing: A: Because at first, I was so scared. I just want to my Dad, but I didnt have a chance to tell him.
Court: VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 177
Q: No, after the lapse of a reasonable time, after witnessing that incident, did it not also occur
to your mind to finally report it to the proper authorities? Lejano vs. People
Witness Alfaro: sorts of speculations about it were rife. In fact, prior to the arrest of the accused,
A: I did not first have that in mind, only recently when I was out on drugs.
Court: members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested some members of an
Q: When? akyat-bahay gang who were charged accordingly. These gang members were
Witness Alfaro: later released upon orders of the Makati Regional Trial Court after it was
A: When I got out on drugs.176
discovered that their confessions were fabricated by the PNP to conform to the
176 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED physical evidence found at the crime scene.
Lejano vs. People It is not thus difficult to believe that Alfaro could have become familiar with
Court:
Q When was that? the evidentiary details of the crimes, given that she was practically a resident at
Witness Alfaro: the offices of the NBI which was actively investigating the crimes, not to mention
A: About October of 1994. her being an NBI star witness.
Court:
Q What prompted you to finally reveal what you have witnessed? Sadly, dissenters choose to gloss over the strikingly uncanny
Witness Alfaro: similarities between the confessions of the akyat-bahay gang members and
A: Well, when I started having these nightmares about my daughter instead of that Jennifer that Alfaros testimony. The nature and extent of the similarities were amplified by
I see in my dreams. Its my daughter whom I see crying, and that triggered me, and then
I got out from drugs, and then it came to the point when I saw them accidentally, so, thats Justice Dacudao in his Dissenting Opinion, which is quoted at length:
the thing which triggered me, Your Honor. It also bothers me that Ms. Alfaros narration of the events in the case under
Court: review was in many points uncannily similar to that set forth in the extrajudicial
Q: Any other reason? confessions or sinumpaang salaysay executed by certain members of the so-
Witness Alfaro:
A: Those are my main reasons.
called Akyat Bahay Gang of the Barroso group (the brothers Villardo Datuin Barroso,
Court: Jr. and Roberto Datuin Barroso and their several companions Rolando Mendoza y
Q: Is that your principal reason? Gomez, Ernesto Cesar, Bienvenido Baydo, Angelito Santos y Bisen, Boy Kulit, Rey
Witness Alfaro: Doe and several other John Does). These persons were earlier charged with two cases
A: I wanted to change my life already.27 (underscoring supplied) of robbery with homicide, and one case of rape with homicide that is now the very
Given Alfaros confession of having for years, after the commission of the subject of the case under review. Indeed, I cannot understand why the three criminal
crimes, been numbed by the effects of drug abuse, would the dissenters take cases that were instituted before the Makati City RTC, Brnach 63, (presided over by
as gospel truth her what they termed vivid and infallible recollection of the Judge Julio R. Logarta,) which recited facts and events that are so strikingly akin
minutiae surrounding the commission of the crime in June 1991, and point to to those set forth in the information filed in the case under review, hardly
the accused as the malefactors, particularly Webb, despite evidence, commanded the attention of the trial court. The records of these criminal cases, which
documentary and testimonial, supporting his alibi? were introduced in evidence by the accused-appellants during the trial of the case
The explanation for this feat of wizardry is within arms-lengthAlfaro under review, covered the following:
appears to be a rehearsed witness. Prior to her decision to surface and claim to (1) Criminal Case No. 91-7135 filed by then Assistant Chief State
Prosecutor Aurelio C. Trampe before the sale of Judge Julio R. Logarta of the
tell what she knew about the crimes, the crimes had already been played out
Makati City RTC, Branch 63, on November 11, 1991 (for
in the media, both print and broadcast, in every gory detail. It was a raging topic 178
that drew intense discussions in both talk shows and informal gatherings, and 178 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
all
_______________
Lejano vs. People
robbery with homicide) against Villardo Barroso y Datuin, Roberto
27 TSN, July 29, 1996, pp. 77-78. Barroso y Datuin Rolando Mendoza y Gomez, Ernesto Cesar, Bienvenido
177
Baydo, Angelito Santos y Bisen, Rey Doe and several other John Does still at premeditation and taking advantage of their superior number and strength and
large. with intent to kill, treacherously attack, assault, stab and use personal violence
Crim. Case No. 91-7135 upon said CARMELA NICOLAS VIZCONDE, thereby inflicting upon her
That on or about the 30th day of June 1991 at BF Homes Paraaque, Metro multiple stab wounds in different parts of her body, thus causing her
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above instantaneous death.
named accused conspiring and confederating together and helping one another Contrary to law.
did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, by the use of force upon (3) Criminal Case No. 91-7137 (for robbery, with homicide wherein the victim
things, to wit, by breaking the glass in the left side of the door to open it and was ESTRELLITA NICOLAS VISCONDE) likewise filed against the same accused by
from where they entered the house, and once inside, willfully, unlawfully and ACSP Aurelio C. Trampe. It alleged:
feloniously and intent to gain and against the consent of the owners thereof, Crim. Case No. 91-7137
forcibly open cabinet and drawers inside the house, take and carry away That on or about the 30th day of June 1991 at BF Homes Paraaque, Metro
therefrom, the following pieces of personal property: Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
P140,000.00 in cash above-named accused conspiring and confederating together and helping one
Four (4) necklace another did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, by the use of
Five (5) rings force upon things, to wit: by breaking the glass in the left side of the door to
Two (2) bracelets open it and from where they entered the house and once inside, willfully,
Two (2) pairs of earings unlawfully and feloniously and with intent to gain and against the consent of the
belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Lauro Vizconde of the total value of Two Hundred owners thereof, forcibly open cabinets and drawers inside the house, take and
Thousand (P200,000.00) Pesos, Philippine currency to the damage and carry away therefrom the following pieces of personal property:
prejudice of said owners in the said total sum, and that on the occasion of the P140,000.00 in cash
said Robbery and for the purpose of enabling them to take, steal, and carry Four (4) necklace
away the articles above-mentioned herein accused, in pursuant of their Five (5) rings
conspiracy, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and with Two (2) bracelets
evident premeditation and taking advantage of their superior number and Two (2) pairs of earings
strength and with intent to kill, treacherously attack, assault, stab and use belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Lauro Vizconde, the total value of which is Two
personal violence upon JENNIFER NICOLAS VIZCONDE thereby inflicting Hundred Thousand (P200,000.00) pesos, Philippine Currency, to the damage
upon her multiple stab wounds in different parts of her body thus causing her and prejudice of said owners in the said total sum; and that on the occasion of
instantaneous death. the said Robbery and for the purpose of enabling them to take, steal and carry
Contrary to law. way the articles above-mentioned, herein
2) Criminal case No. 91-7136 (for the rape with homicide of Carmela Nicolas 180
Vizconde filed by ACSP Aurelio C. Trampe with the same RTC, Branch 63, on 180 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
November 11, 1919) also against the same accused. It alleged:179 Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 179 accused, in pursuance of their conspiracy, did then and there willfully,
Lejano vs. People unlawfully and with evident premeditation and taking advantage of their superior
Crim. Case No. 91-7136 number and strength and with intent to kill, treacherously attack, assault, stab
That on or about the 30th day of June 1991 at BF Homes, Paraaque, Metro and use personal violence upon ESTRELLITA NICOLAS VIZCONDEthereby
Manila, Philippines, and within jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- inflicting upon her multiple stab wounds causing her instantaneous death.
named accused, armed with knives, by means of violence, force and Contrary to law.
intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal Consider this: In the aforementioned cases, one of the accused therein (Angelito
knowledge of CARMELA NICOLAS VIZCONDE (without her) consent, and that Santos y Bisen) who by his account was bothered by his conscience, surrendered and
on the occasion of the commission of rape, and in pursuance of their executed an affidavit or sinumpaang salaysay narrating his participation in the
conspiracy, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with evident gruesome killing of members of the Vizconde family and the rape-killing of a young
Vizconde girl. And based on the extrajudicial confessions of the accused in these cases the custodial investigation and to remain silent if they wished to. Nevertheless, as seen
(specifically Angelito Santos y Bisen, Ernesto L. Cesar, the Barroso brothers Villardo, in the consolidated decision rendered in the three criminal cases, these extrajudicial
Jr. and Roberto, and Rolando G. Mendoza) it appears that the group conspired to rob confessions or sinumpaang salaysay were declared inadmissible by the Makati City
the house of the Vizcondes in W. Vinzons Street inside the BF Subdivision; that they RTC, for having been allegedly obtained through duress, threats, or intimidation. The
used at least two (2) vehicles in going there (a mint green Toyota Corona, and an dismissal of these criminal cases nowithstanding, it does not detract from the fact: (1)
owners tinted jeepney); that when they entered the subdivision, one of them motioned that said criminal case had indeed been filed in court, (2) that the criminal indictments
to the security guards manning the gate that the other vehicles were with him; that were erected on the strength of the extrajudicial confessions or sinumpaang salaysay
when they reached the Vizconde residence at W. Vinzons Street, BF Homes, one of executed by the accused therein, (3) that these extrajudicial confessions or
them (Bienvenido Ben Baydo) climbed the fence, and once inside the house opened sinumpaang salaysay set forth facts and events that are eerily similar to those
the gate for the group; that Bienvenido Ben Baydo put-out the light in the garage; that which found their way into the information was filed in the case under review; (4)
using a stone na binalot sa basahan Ben Baydo broke the glass in the door and that the victims in the three criminal cases are also the victims in the case under review;
opened it; that a woman who had apparently been roused from sleep (apparently and (5) that since the accused therein had been duly arraigned, as indeed, criminal
referring to Mrs. Estrellita Nicolas Vizconde) came near the door and shouted proceedings had been commenced thereon before a competent court, the accused
magnanakaw; that Ben Baydo gagged the woman and dragged her inside the therein were in real danger of being convicted of the felonies charged.28 (emphasis and
masters bedroom where Ben Baydo, Boy Kulit, Rolando Mendoza and Roberto underscoring supplied)
Barroso stabbed her several times (one knife used in stabbing was described as isang
double blade na mga anim na pulgada ang haba nang talim); that when a young girl _______________
(apparently referring to Jennifer Nicolas Vizconde) inside started to cry and shout, she
too was stabbed to death by Rolando Mendoza, Ernesto Cesar, Villardo Barroso, Jr., 28 Justice Roberto Abad raised the same points, viz.:
Ben Baydo and Boy Kulit; that in one of the rooms they found a young woman a. The Barroso gang members said that they got into Carmelas house by breaking the glass
panel of the front door using a stone wrapped in cloth to deaden the noise. Alfaro could not use this
(apparently referring to Carmela Nicolas Vizconde) who was raped successively by line since the core of her story was that Webb was Carmelas boyfriend. Webb had no reason to
Roberto Barroso, Rolando Mendoza, Ben Baydo, and Ernesto Cesar and later smash her front door to get to see her.
repeatedly stabbed to death; and that they ransacked the house for valuables and were Consequently, to explain the smashed door, Alfaro had to settle for claiming that, on the way
able to find cash and jewelries which they later on divided among themselves. Some out of the house, Webb picked up some stone and,
of the pieces of jewelry were pawned by some of the accused at the Tambunting 182
Pawnshop and the La Cebuana Pawnshop at Dart, Paco. Carefully evaluated, it is 182 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
181
Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 181 On the questioned inconsistencies between Alfaros April 28, 1995 and May
Lejano vs. People 22, 1995 Affidavits, the dissenters brush them aside as not necessarily affecting
plain enough that the statements contained in the extrajudicial confessions or her credibility, citing People v. Sanchez29 which held:
sinumpaang salaysay also overlapped or corroborated each other in their material _______________
particulars.
Stock must be taken of the fact that the detailed extrajudicial confessions or out of the blue, hurled it at the glass-paneled front door of the Vizconde residence. His action really
sinumpaang salaysay of the several accused (especially Villardo Barroso y Datuin, Jr., made no sense. From Alfaros narration, Webb appeared rational in his decisions. It was past
Roberto Barroso y Datuin, his Rolando Mendoza y Gomez, Ernesto Cesar y Lizardo, midnight, the house was dark, and they wanted to get away quickly to avoid detection. Hurling a
stone at that glass door and causing a tremendous noise was bizarre, like inviting the neighbors to
Angelito Santos y Bisen) in the three criminal cases, were acknowledged and ratified
come.
before Judge Roberto L. Makalintal, Atty. Luis Matro, Atty. Francis Tolentino and Atty.
Salvador B. Aguas, who affirmed that the said extrajudicial confessions or sinumpaang b. The crime scene showed that the house had been ransacked. The rejected confessions of
salaysay were freely and voluntarily given by the affiants, and that no duress violence, the Barroso akyat-bahay gang members said that they tried to rob the house. To explain this
intimidation or coercion of any kind was employed against the affiants when the latter physical evidence, Alfaro claimed that at one point Ventura was pulling a kitchen drawer, and at
gave their statements if they did not want to; and that indeed the affiants were made another point, going through a handbag on the dining table. He said he was looking for the front-door
aware of their constitutional right to have a lawyer of their choice to assist them during key and the car key.
Again, this portion of Alfaros story appears tortured to accommodate the physical evidence of court which undeniably detract from credibilityof witness and of testimony.
the ransacked house. She never mentioned Ventura having taken some valuables with him when
they left Carmelas house. And why would Ventura rummage a bag on the table for the front-door
Consider these inconsistencies reflected in the tabulation below:
key, spilling the contents, when they had already gotten into the house. It is a story made to fit in with April 25, 1995 May 22, 1995 Testimony in
the crime scene although robbery was supposedly not the reason Webb and his companions entered Affidavit Affidavit Court
that house.
c. It is the same thing with the garage light. The police investigators found that the bulb had
Alfaros She has not met She knew She met Carmela
been loosed to turn off the light. The confessions of the Barroso gang claimed that one of them meeting Carmelabefore Carmela in a party
climbed the parked cars hood to reach up and darken that light. This made sense since they were with the night of the personally sometime
going to rob the place and they needed time to work in the dark trying to open the front door. Some
passersby might look in and see what they were doing.
Carmela crime and met her in a in January
Alfaro had to adjust her testimony to take into account that darkened garage light. So she party sometime 1991 and in a
claimed that Ventura climbed the cars hood, using a chair, to turn the light off. But, unlike the Barroso in February 1991 disco sometime in
akyat-bahay gang, Webb and his friends did not have anything to do in a darkened garage. They February 1991
supposedly knew in advance that Carmela left the doors to the kitchen open for them. It did not make
sense for Ventura to risk standing on the cars hood and be seen in such an awkward position instead
of going straight into the house. 184
29 G.R. Nos. 121039-45, January 25, 1999, 302 SCRA 21. 184 SUPREME COURT
183
REPORTS
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 183
ANNOTATED
Lejano vs. People
Lejano vs. People
. . . [W]e advert to that all-too familiar rule that discrepancies between sworn
statements and testimonies made at the witness stand do not necessarily discredit the The There were Alfaro and Peter The entire group
witnesses. Sworn statement/affidavits are generally subordinated in importance to number only two trips made. Estrada made three trips to
open court declarations because the former are often executed when an affiants of trips After the first trip, made threetrips to the Vizconde
mental faculties are not in such a state as to afford him a fair opportunity of narrating the group Alfaro went back to the Vizconde residence. On
in full the incident which has transpired. Testimonies given during trials are much more made to the parking lot. The residence. During the secondtrip,
exact and elaborate. Thus, testimonial evidence carries more weight than sworn the group was about to their second trip, Webb and his
statements/
Vizconde leave when she the other accused companions
affidavits. (underscoring supplied)
It bears emphasis that the questioned inconsistencies in Alfaros Affidavits, residenc arrived. Ventura stayed behind at parked and stayed
and indeed they are too glaring to escape attention, arise not from an affidavit e signaled her to the Alabang along Aguirre
and testimony at the witness stand but from two affidavits. board the Nissan Commercial Avenue. Only
And the dissenters forget that the first Affidavit, dated April 28, 1995, was Patrol to take more Center Parking Alfaro went to the
given about two months shy of four years from the occurrence of the crime in drugs and asked her Lot. Peter Estrada Vizconde
late June 1991 and, therefore, her mental faculties could not have been in such to leave her car, but and Alfaro went residence.
a state as [not] to afford [her] a fair opportunity of narrating in full the incident she refused. back to the
subject of her tale. The second Affidavit, on the other hand, was executed 24 Thereafter, she was Vizconde
days after the first Affidavit or on May 22, 1995. Do the dissenters find that instructed to join residence after
Alfaros mental faculties were more refreshed at a date more remote from the the convoy of about 30 minutes.
occurrence of the crime she claims to have witnessed? vehicles. They went This time,
Again, as did the lower courts, the dissenters disregard the glaring around BF Homes Carmela asked
inconsistencies between Alfaros two affidavits vis--vis her testimony in open for about 15 minutes Jessica to come
before they finally back after the high volume
proceeded to midnight. of the TV set
Vinzons Street. inside the room,
What Alfaro did not hear Before they left After Webb said she saw two
Webb any the parking lot, Pipilahan, bloodied bodies
said instructions from Alfaro overheard Lejano retorted, on top of the bed
Webb or any Webb say, Oo pero ako ang and on the floor,
member of the Pipilahan natin si susunod. The she saw Webb
group. Carmela, pero ako others responded, pumping on top
ang mauuna. Okay, okay. of Carmela who
What Alfaro did not After leaving the Before going to was gagged and
Alfaro see what transpired accused Webb, the bedroom, in tears.
saw at inside the Vizconde Lejano and Alfaro Alfaros Alfaro did Alfaro peeped Alfaro first
the scene residence Ventura inside the saw Ventura location in not seewhat through the peepedthrough the
of the because she did Vizconde rummaging the Vizconde transpired bedroom door bedroom door
crime not go in. residence, through the bedroom in inside the and saw two and did not see
Alfaro again ladies bag on relation to Vizconde bloodied bodies anything. Since she
entered the top of the dining what she residence and Webb did not see anything,
house through table. She pro- saw because she pumping she walked inside
the did not enter Carmela. the bedroomwhere
it. she saw the rape of
185 Carmela.
VOL. 638, 185 The dissenters approvingly note the trial courts findings that Alfaro had
DECEMBER sufficiently explained these discrepancies between her two affidavits as arising
14, 2010 from a desire to protect her former boyfriend Estrada and her relative
Lejano vs. People Gatchalian, the absence of a lawyer during the first taking of her statements
kitchen ceeded to the by the NBI, her distrust of the first investigators who took her statements
door; Ventura bedroom after and prepared her April 28, 1995 affidavit, and her uncertainty if she could
was coming out hearing the sound obtain adequate support and security for her own lifewere she to disclose
186
as she was of static and peeped
186 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
about to through the door.
enter and once She could not see Lejano vs. People
inside, curiosity anything so everything she knows about the Vizconde killings. (underscoring supplied)
There was, however, no rational basis for Alfaro to mistrust her handler
impelled Alfaro she stepped
Sacaguing who was present at the execution of the first Affidavit, or the NBI for
to peep through insidewhere she
that matter, she, as stated earlier, having been accorded special treatment
the first dooron saw Webb pumping precisely because she was one of the more valuable assets of the NBI.
the left. Noticing Carmela. Sacaguing himself testified that Alfaro was virtually dependent on them . . . for
protection, for sympathy and even for her spiritual needs.30 Accused 22, 1996, referred for disposition G.R. Nos. 122466 and 122504, the accuseds
Gatchalians father, Atty. Francisco Gatchalian, denied that his family was in petitions assailing, among other orders, the trial courts order denying their right
any way related to Alfaro. And the lawyer who is mentioned in the first Affidavit to cross examine Alfaro, for purposes of impeachment, on her conflicting
to have assisted her, Atty. Arturo Mercader, Jr., took the witness stand and Affidavits. Thus, the appellate court, in its Decision33 in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 39839
categorically stated that he was present during the taking of such first Affidavit and 39840 of June 21, 1996, held:
of Alfaro, he claiming that, inter alia: _______________
Atty. Ongkiko:
Q And after the typing of the statement was finished by Agent Tamayo, what happened? 31 Vide TSN, July 31, 1996, pp. 20-21, 44.
Witness Mercader: 32 TSN, August 1, 1996, pp. 10, 15.
A Well, I received the statement and showed it to Jessica and asked her to read it also. 33 CA Rollo (CA-G.R. SP No. 51173), pp. 209-225, penned by Associate Justice Ricardo P.
Atty. Ongkiko: Galvez, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Antonio M. Martinez and Hilarion L. Aquino.
Q Did Jessica Alfaro read her statement? 188
Witness Mercader:
A Yes, Your Honor.
188 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Atty. Ongkiko: Lejano vs. People
Q How long did it take her to read the statement? x x x x
Witness Mercvader:
A Just for few minutes, Your Honor. [T]he issue of the right of petitioners to cross-examine Jessica Alfaro on the alleged
Atty. Ongkiko: inconsistencies between her first and second affidavits is too crucial to be simply
Q And after she read the statement, what happened next? brushed aside with a perfunctory application of the general rule adverted to in the
Witness Mercader: preceding paragraphs. It may bring about a failure of justice.Consequently, we
A Well, she signed the statement and afterwards, I also affixed my signature on it, Your Honor.
_______________
consider the actuations of respondent judge in this regard to be reviewable
by certiorari under rule 65 of the Rules of Court. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
30 TSN, October 6, 1997, p. 100. Under Section 11, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, an adverse partys witness may
187
be impeached (1) by contradictory evidence; (2) by evidence that his general reputation
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 187 for truth, honesty, or integrity is bad; (3) by evidence that he has made at other times
Lejano vs. People statement inconsistent with his present testimony; and (4) by producing the record
xxxx of his conviction of an offense. Insofar as impeachment by evidence of prior
Atty. Aguirre:
Q While assisting Jessica Alfaro, did you notice any action on the part of anybody which
inconsistent statements however, under Section 13 of the same Rule 132, a proper
pressured Jessica Alfaro to finish her statement? foundation must first be laid, in that, the attention of the witness should first be called
Witness Mercader: to such statements, and he should be asked whether or not he made them, and
A No, Your Honor, none that I have noticed. If I did, I would have objected to.31 afforded an opportunity for explanation, or affirmance, or denial of the authenticity of
xxxx the writing. (emphasis and underscoring in the original)
Prosecutor Zuno:
Q And that, I believe, to your own perception, at that time she was giving the facts, the answer, A testimony given four years after the occurrence of crime which gives
in accordance with her recollection? minute details that even contradict tales earlier given is too incredible as to draw
xxxx dubiety. The lucid observations of Court of Appeals Justice Renato C. Dacudao
Witness Mercader:
A Your Honor, at that time what I noticed only was the spontaneity of the answers of Jessica. in his Dissent34 for the acquittal of the accused, and the graphic analysis of
Of course, I could not tell whether from where Jessica was basing it. From the Justice Roberto Abad in his ponencia on why Alfaros testimony can not be
recollection or from a memorize script, I do not know, Your Honor, about that. But relied upon are thus well taken.
definitely, whenever she was asked a question, she answers them readily as if she knows
the answer personally.32 (emphasis and underscoring supplied) It bears stressing that the defenses earnest assertion that the prosecution
The trial courts order preventing the defense from cross-examining Alfaro failed to rebut the pieces of evidence, highlighted by the defense, that seriously
on the inconsistencies between her two Affidavits was thus correctly SET dent its (the prosecutions) case has not been controverted.
ASIDE by the Court of Appeals, to which this Court, by Resolution of January
Respecting Alfaros eyewitness identification of Webb as the rapist: As 39 G.R. No. 112229, March 18, 1997, 270 SCRA 1, 3.
190
reflected in the tabulations above, she had conflicting claims
on whether and where she witnessed the commission of the crime. AT ALL 190 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
EVENTS, such identification is not as accurate and authoritative as the scientific Lejano vs. People
forms of identification evidence such as Deoxyri- FINALLY, even assuming arguendo that the burden of evidence had shifted
_______________ to the defense, the testimonial and documentary evidence of the defense
indubitably establishes that, with respect to accused Webb, he was out of the
34 Rollo, pp. 254-285, G.R. No. 176389.
189
country when the crime occurred.
It is undisputed that accused Webbs travel and immigration documents,
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 189
which have not been found to be spurious, unquestionably show that he left the
Lejano vs. People Philippines for the United States on March 9, 1991 and returned to the
bonucleic Acid (DNA) testing,35 which testing could not now, in the present case, Philippines only on October 26, 1992. In rejecting Webbs alibi, the dissenters
be carried out in view of the information of the NBI that it no longer has custody point out:
of the semen specimen from rape victim Carmelas cadaver, claiming that it had These dates [March 9, 1991 and October 26, 1992] are so distant from the time of
turned it over to the trial court. The NBI did not, however, present any the commission of the crime, June 29, 1991 and June 30, 1991, and it would not have
documentary proof of such claim. Parenthetically, it does not appear from the been impossible during the interregnum for Webb to travel back to the country and
records that the specimen was offered in evidence by any of the parties. again fly to the US several times considering that the travel time on board an airline
To Webbs credit, he had asked for the conduct of DNA evidence on October from the Philippines to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to the Philippines takes
6, 1997, during the trial on the merits, when he filed a Motion to Direct NBI to only about twelve (12) hours to fourteen (14) hours. Given the financial resources and
Submit Semen Specimen to DNA Analysis36 which motion the prosecution political influence of his family, it was not unlikely that Webb could have traveled back
opposed.37 The motion was subsequently denied by the trial court by its to the Philippines before June 29-30, 1991 and then departed for the US again, and
returning to the Philippines in October 1992. There clearly exists, therefore,
November 25, 1997 Order,38 citing Lim v. Court of Appeals39 to the effect that
such possibility of Webbs presence at the scene of the crime at the time of its
DNA, being a relatively new science, it has not as yet been accorded official commission, and its excuse cannot be deemed airtight. (underscoring and italics
recognition by our courts. Besides, the trial court believed that no one in the supplied)
Philippines had as yet the knowledge and expertise to testify on matters It is now the dissenters reasoning which turns highly speculative and
involving DNA testing. What is worse, however, is that it believed that DNA conjectural, one borne out of unfounded suspicion. It suspects that the Webb
testing will not subserve the ends of justice.40 If the motion had been granted family may have used its financial resources and political influence to control
and DNA analysis were carried out, nagging doubts on Webbs culpability for all the U.S. and Philippine immigration people, thus allowing Webb to secretly
the crimes or lack of it could have been dissipated. travel back to the country and again fly to the U.S. several times between
_______________
March 9, 1991 and October 26, 1992. It bears noting that the prosecution
35 People v. Rodrigo, G.R. No. 176159, September 11, 2008, 564 SCRA 584, 586. proffered no evidence to establish that during the interregnum Webb had
36 Records, Vol. 17, pp. 186-196. Webb argued that: surreptitiously slipped out of the U.S.A. to the Philippines, and that he
xxxx subsequently re-entered the U.S.A. by bypassing all immigration controls and
7. Since the semen specimen is still in the custody and possession of the NBI, accused Webb
moves for the submission of the semen evidence to a DNA analysis by a US-government or US
protocols in both countries. This is the stuff of which spy novels are made, but
government accredited forensic laboratory, preferably the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not in the real world where the lives of innocent individuals are at stake.191
Washington, D.C. If granted, accused Webb reserves his right to be presented at all stages of the VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 191
DNA typing process and to have access to the results thereof.
xxxx Lejano vs. People
37 Id., at pp. 502-529. Facts decide cases. Conjectures and suspicions are not facts, hence, they
38 Records, Vol. 18, pp. 256-259. have no evidentiary value. They cannot be the bases of conviction as they
cannot substitute for the constitutional requirement of proof of guilt beyond SUPPLEMENTAL OPINION
reasonable doubt. Suspicions, no matter how strong they are, must never sway BRION, J.:
judgment.41 In addition to my vote and independently of the merits of the present case, I
At this juncture, given the evidence on record, it is crucial to heed the write this opinion to point out the growing disregard and non-observance of
Courts caveat that when an accused puts up the defense of alibi, the courts the sub judicerule, to the detriment of the rights of the accused, the integrity of
should not at once have a mental prejudice against him. For, taken in the light the courts, and, ultimately, the administration of justice. I seize this opportunity
of all the evidence on record, it may be sufficient to acquit him.42 fully aware that the present casedubbed in the news media as the Vizconde
While alibi is, indeed, a weak defense because the accused can easily Massacreis one of the most sensational criminal cases in Philippine history in
fabricate his story to escape criminal liability,43 in the present case, Webbs alibi terms of the mode of commission of the crime and the personalities involved.
could not have been fabricated with ease. His travel and immigration documents From the time the charges were filed, the case has captured the publics interest
showing his departure from the Philippines and arrival in the U.S.A., not to that an unusual amount of air time and print space have been devoted to it. Of
mention the testimonial and documentary evidence on his activities while in the late, with the publics renewed interest after the case was submitted for decision,
U.S.A. between March 9, 1991 and October 26, 1992, deserve full credit. If half key personalities have again been unabashedly publicizing their opinions and
the world away could not even be considered to be so far removed from the commenting even on the merits of the case before various forms of media. A
crime scene44 as to evince the physical impossibility of actual presence, then Senior Justice of this Court, who was a witness in the case (while he was in
the defense of alibi can only be appreciated when an accused lands in a private law practice) and who consequently inhibited himself from participation,
different planet. was even publicly maligned in the print and broadcast media through
The dissenters cite People v. Larraaga45 to highlight the weakness of alibi unsupported speculations about his intervention in the case. That was how bad
as a defense. That case did not involve foreign and travel immigration and how low comments about the case had been.
documents or even the use of a passport, the accused therein having claimed In essence, the sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures
that he was in Quezon City at the time the crime was committed in Cebu City. pertaining to pending judicial proceedings. The restriction applies not only to
Because he was positively identified by several prosecution witnesses whose participants in the pending case, i.e., to members of the bar and bench, and to
testimonies, unlike Al- litigants and witnesses, but also to the public in general, which necessarily
_______________ includes the media. Although the Rules of
193
40
41 People v. Tajada, G.R. No. 147200, December 17, 2002, 394 SCRA 159, 166; Monteverde
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 193
v. People, G.R. No. 139610, August 12, 2002, 387 SCRA 196, 215. Lejano vs. People
42 People v. Abellanosa, G.R. No. 121195, November 27, 1996, 264 SCRA 722, 746-747. Court does not contain a specific provision imposing the sub judice rule, it
43 People v. Peruelo, No. L-50631, June 29, 1981, 105 SCRA 226-238.
44 People v. Domingo, G.R. No. 184958, September 17, 2009, 600 SCRA 280.
supports the observance of the restriction by punishing its violation as indirect
45 G.R. Nos. 138874-75, February 3, 2004, 421 SCRA 530. contempt under Section 3(d) of Rule 71:
192 Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing.x x x a
192 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED person guilty of any of the following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:
xxxx
Lejano vs. People
(d) Any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or
faros, were credible and trustworthy, this Court rejected Larraagas alibi. degrade the administration of justice[.]
WHEREFORE, for failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable Persons facing charges for indirect contempt for violation of the sub
doubt the guilt of the accused, Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Tony Boy judice rule often invoke as defense their right to free speech and claim that the
Lejano, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Peter Estrada, and citation for contempt constitutes a form of impermissible subsequent
Miguel Ging Rodriguez, they are ACQUITTED of the crime charged. punishment.
We have long recognized in this jurisdiction that the freedom of speech among ordinary citizens. The Constitution simply gives the citizens the right to
under Section 4, Article III of the Constitution is not absolute. A very literal speech, not the right to unrestricted publicized speech.
construction of the provision, as espoused by US Supreme Court Justice Hugo Comments on the merits of the case may refer to the credibility of witnesses,
Black,1 may lead to the disregard of other equally compelling constitutional the character of the accused, the soundness of the alibis offered, the relevance
rights and principles. In Vicente v. of the evidence presented, and generally any
_______________ _______________

1 See Justice Blacks concurring opinion in Smith v. California, 361 U.S. 147 (1959), part of 2 A.M. No. RTJ-02-1698, June 23, 2005, 461 SCRA 12, 24-25, citing Choa v. Chiongson, A.M.
which reads: No. MTJ-95-1063, August 9, 1996, 260 SCRA 477, 484-485.
Certainly the First Amendments language leaves no room for inference that abridgments of 3 Law Reform CommissionNew South Wales, Discussion Paper 43 (2000)Contempt by
speech and press can be made just because they are slight. That Amendment provides, in simple Publication, http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc.nsf/pages/dp43chp02, last visited December 9, 2010.
words, that Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. I 195
read no law . . . abridging to mean no law abridging.The First Amendment, which is the VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 195
supreme law of the land, has thus fixed its own value on freedom of speech and press by putting
these freedoms wholly beyond the reach of federal power to abridge. No other provision of the Lejano vs. People
Constitution purports to dilute the scope of these unequivocal commands of the First other comment bearing on the guilt or innocence of the accused.111 The danger
Amendment. Consequently, I do not believe that any federal agencies, including Congress and posed by this class of speech is the undue influence it may directly exert on the
this Court, have power or authority to subordinate speech and press to what they think are
more important interests. The contrary notion is, in my judgment, court-made, not Constitution- court in the resolution of the criminal case, or indirectly through the public
made. (361 U.S. 147, 157-159). opinion it may generate against the accused and the adverse impact this public
194 opinion may have during the trial. The significance of the sub judice rule is
194 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED highlighted in criminal cases, as the possibility of undue influence prejudices the
Lejano vs. People accuseds right to a fair trial. The principal purpose of the sub judice rule is to
Majaducon,2 this Court declared that [the freedom of speech] needs on preserve the impartiality of the judicial system by protecting it from undue
occasion to be adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of equally influence.5 Public opinion has no place in a criminal trial. We ruled that
important public interests such as the maintenance of the integrity of courts and it is a traditional conviction of civilized society everywhere that courts and juries, in the
orderly functioning of the administration of justice. Courts, both within and decision of issues of fact and law should be immune from every extraneous
outside this jurisdiction, have long grappled with the dilemma of balancing the influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court; and that
the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or
publics right to free speech and the governments duty to administer fair and
sympathies.6
impartial justice. While the sub judicerule may be considered as a curtailment _______________
of the right to free speech, it is necessary to ensure the proper administration
of justice and the right of an accused to a fair trial.3 Both these latter concerns 4 Ibid.; the Discussion Paper 43 (2000) of the Law Reform Commission of New South Wales
are equally paramount and cannot lightly be disregarded. has identified some high-risk publications against which the sub judice rule applies. These include:
a. A photograph of the accused where identity is likely to be an issue;
Before proceeding with this line of thought, however, let me clarify that b. Suggestions that the accused has previous criminal convictions, has been
the sub judice rule is not imposed on all forms of speech. In so far as criminal previously charged for committing an offense and/or previously acquitted, or has been
proceedings are concerned, two classes of publicized speech made during the involved in other criminal activity;
pendency of the proceedings can be considered as contemptuous: first, c. Suggestions that the accused has confessed to committing the crime in question;
d. Suggestions that the accused has confessed to committing the crime in question;
comments on the merits of the case, and second, intemperate and e. Suggestions that the accused is guilty or innocent of the crime for which he or she
unreasonable comments on the conduct of the courts with respect to the case. is charged, or that the jury should convict or acquit the accused; and
Publicized speech should be understood to be limited to those aired or printed f. Comments which engender sympathy or antipathy for the accused and/or which
in the various forms of media such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, disparage the prosecution, or which make favorable or unfavorable references to the
character or credibility of the accused or a witness.
and internet, and excludes discussions, in public or in private, between and
5 Ibid. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 197
6 Nestle v. Sanchez, Nos. L-75209 and 78791, September 30, 1987, 154 SCRA 542, 546.
196 Lejano vs. People
196 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED is not adopted in this jurisdiction is not an argument against our observance
Lejano vs. People of the sub judice rule; justices and judges are no different from members of the
The right to a fair trial is an adjunct of the accuseds right to due process jury, they are not immune from the pervasive effects of media. It might be
which guarantees [him] a presumption of innocence until the contrary is farcical to build around them an impregnable armor against the influence of the
proved in a trial x x x where the conclusions reached are induced not by any most powerful media of public opinion.13 As I said in another case, in a slightly
outside force or influence but only by evidence and argument given in open different context, even those who are determined, in their conscious minds, to
court, where fitting dignity and calm ambiance is demanded.7 avoid bias may be affected.14
In foreign jurisdictions, the courts do not hesitate to exercise their power to Also, it is not necessary that the publicity actually influenced the courts
punish for contempt where necessary to dispose of judicial business disposition of the case; the actual impact of prejudicial publicity is not relevant
unhampered by publications that tend to impair the impartiality of verdicts.8 to liability for sub judice contempt.15 In several cases, the Court has noted the
enormous effect of media in stirring public sentience x x x Even while it may be difficult
If the media publish prejudicial material, they can appear to urge, or may in
to quantify the influence, or pressure that media can bring to bear on [witnesses and
fact be urging, a particular finding: the media can wage a campaign against judges] directly and through the shaping of public opinion, it is a fact, nonetheless, that,
one of the parties to proceedings. If the jury decides in accordance with an indeed, it does so in so many ways and in varying degrees. The conscious or
outcome promoted by the media, it will appear as if the jurors were swayed by unconscious effect that such a coverage may have on the testimony of witnesses and
the media. By the same token, if the jurys decision does not accord with media the decision of judges cannot be
opinion, it may appear as if they were deliberately reacting against it. Either way, _______________
it may appear that the jurys decision was not impartial and based on the
13 Supra note 7, at p. 260.
evidence presented in court, even if it was.9 14 Separate Opinion of the author in Louis Barok C. Biraogo v. The Philippine Truth Commission of
The accused must be assured of a fair trial notwithstanding the prejudicial 2010, G.R. Nos. 192935 & 193036, December 7, 2010, 637 SCRA 78, part of which reads:
publicity;10 he has a constitutional right to have his cause tried fairly by an Where the government simply wants to tell its story, already labeled as true, well ahead of any court
proceedings, and judicial notice is taken of the kind of publicity and the ferment in public opinion that news
impartial tribunal, uninfluenced by publication or public clamor.11 The sub of government scandals generate, it does not require a leap of faith to conclude that an accused brought
judice doctrine protects against the appearance of decisions having been to court against overwhelming public opinion starts his case with less than equal chance of acquittal. The
influenced by published material.12 presumption of innocence notwithstanding, the playing field cannot but be uneven in a criminal trial when
the accused enters trial with a government-sponsored badge of guilty on his forehead. The presumption
As may be observed from the cited material, the sub judice rule is used by of innocence in law cannot serve an accused in a biased atmosphere pointing to guilt in fact because the
foreign courts to insulate members of the jury from being influenced by government and public opinion have spoken against the accused. [Citations omitted]
prejudicial publicity. But the fact that the jury system 15 Supra note 3.
_______________ 198
198 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
7 Re: Request Radio-TV Coverage of the Trial in the Sandiganbayan of the Plunder Cases Lejano vs. People
Against the Former President Joseph E. Estrada, A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC, June 29, 2001, 360 SCRA
248, 259-260.
evaluated but, it can likewise be said, it is not at all unlikely for a vote of guilt or
8 People v. Godoy, G.R. Nos. 115908-09, March 29, 1995, 243 SCRA 64, 81, citing U.S. v. innocence to yield to it.16
Sullen, 36 F. 2d 220. Comment on the conduct of the courts with respect to the case becomes
9 Supra note 3. subject to a contempt proceeding when it is intemperate, is contumacious, and
10 See Wayne Overbeck, Major Principles in Media Law, p. 298.
11 Supra note 6, at p. 546.
unduly impairs upon the dignity of the court. A comment that impairs of the
12 Supra note 3. dignity of the court excites in the mind of the people a general dissatisfaction
197 with all judicial determinations, and indisposes their minds to obey them[.]17 If
the speech tends to undermine the confidence of the people in the honesty and necessary and justified by the more compelling interests to uphold the rights of
integrity of the court and its members, and lowers or degrades the the accused and promote the fair and orderly administration of justice.
administration of justice, then the speech constitutes contempt.18 Unwarranted If we do not apply at all the sub judice rule to the present case, the reason
attacks on the dignity of the courts cannot be disguised as free speech, for the is obvious to those who have followed the case in the mediaboth parties are in
exercise of said right cannot be used to impair the independence and efficiency pari delicto as both have apparently gone to the media to campaign for the
of courts or public respect therefore and confidence therein.19 Without the sub merits of their respective causes. Thus, the egregious action of one has been
judicerule and the contempt power, the courts will be powerless to protect their cancelled by a similar action by the other. It is in this sense that this
integrity and independence that are essential in the orderly and effective Supplemental Opinion is independent of the merits of the case. Their common
dispensation and administration of justice. action, however, cannot have their prejudicial effects on both; whatever the
This, of course, is not meant to stifle all forms of criticism against the court. results may be, doubts will linger about the real merits of the case due to the
As the third branch of the government, the courts remain accountable to the inordinate media campaign that transpired.
people. The peoples freedom to criticize the government includes the right to Lest we be misunderstood, our application of the sub judice rule to this case
criticize the courts, their proceedings and decisions. This is the principle of open cannot serve as a precedent for similar future violations. Precisely, this
justice, which is fundamental to our democratic society and ensures that (a) Supplemental Opinion is a signal to all that this Court has not forgotten, and is
there is a safeguard against judicial arbitrariness or idiosyncrasy, and that (b) in fact keenly aware of, the limits of what can be publicly ventilated on the merits
the publics confidence in the administration of justice is maintained.20 of a case while sub judice,and on the comments on the conduct of the courts
_______________ with respect to the case. This Court will not standby idly and helplessly as its
integrity
16 Supra note 7, at pp. 259-260.
_______________
17 Supra note 8, at 82, citing J. Perfectos dissenting opinion in In re Francisco Brillantes, 42
O.G. 59.
21 Tiongco v. Savillo, A.M. No. RTJ-02-1719, March 31, 2006, 486 SCRA 48, 64, citing In re
18 Id., at p. 94.
Almacen, infra note 22.
19 In the Matter of the Allegations Contained in the Columns of Mr. Amado P. Macasaet
22 In re Almacen, No. L-27654, February 18, 1970, 31 SCRA 562.
Published in Malaya Dated September 18, 19, 20, and 21, 2007, A.M. No. 07-09-13-SC, August 8,
200
2008, 561 SCRA 395, 448, citing Roxas v. Zuzuarregui, G.R. Nos. 152072 & 152104, July 12, 2007,
527 SCRA 446. 200 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
20 Id., at p. 434. Lejano vs. People
199
as an institution and its processes are shamelessly brought to disrepute.
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 199
Lejano vs. People DISSENTING OPINION
The criticism must, however, be fair, made in good faith, and not spill over the
walls of decency and propriety.21And to enhance the open court principle and VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
allow the people to make fair and reasoned criticism of the courts, the sub With all due respect to my colleagues, I dissent from the majority decision
judice rule excludes from its coverage fair and accurate reports (without acquitting all the accused-appellants.
comment) of what have actually taken place in open court. In the middle part of 1991, the gruesome deaths of 19-year old Carmela
In sum, the court, in a pending litigation, must be shielded from Vizconde, her mother Estrellita and 7-year old sister Jennifer in the hands of
embarrassment or influence in its all-important duty of deciding the case.22 Any unknown assailants inside their home in a private subdivision shocked our
publication pending a suit, reflecting upon the court, the parties, the officers of countrymen and alarmed the authorities of the rise in heinous crimes,
the court, the counsel, etc., with reference to the suit, or tending to influence the particularly those committed by individuals under the influence of drugs.
decision of the controversy, is contempt of court and is punishable. The resulting Investigations conducted by the police and other bodies including the Senate,
(but temporary) curtailment of speech because of the sub judice rule is and even the arrest of two (2) sets of suspects (akyat-bahay gang and former
contractor/workers of the Vizcondes), failed to unravel the truth behind the brutal The Facts
killinguntil an alleged eyewitness surfaced four (4) years later. The ensuing
courtroom saga involving sons of prominent families had become one (1) of the The Information filed on August 10, 1995 reads:
most controversial cases in recent history as the entire nation awaited its long- That on or about the evening of June 29 up to the early morning of June 30, 1991,
delayed closure. in the municipality of Paraaque, province of Rizal, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb conspiring and
The Case confederating with accused Antonio Tony Boy Lejano, Artemio Dong Ventura,
Michael Gatchalian y Adviento, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Peter Estrada, Miguel
Subject of review is the Decision1 dated December 15, 2005 of the Court of Ging Rodriguez and Joey Filart, mutually helping one another, while armed with
bladed instruments, with the use of force and intimidation, with lewd design, with abuse
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR H.C. No. 00336 affirming with modifications the
of superior strength, nighttime and with the use of motor vehicle, wilfully, unlawfully and
Decision dated January 4, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Paraaque feloniously have carnal knowledge of the person of Carmela Vizconde against her will
City, Branch 274 finding the accused-appellants Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, and consent.
Antonio Tony Boy Lejano, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, _______________
Peter Estrada and Miguel Ging Rodriguez guilty beyond reasonable doubt as
principals, and accused-appellant Gerardo Biong as accessory, of the crime of 2 Rollo (G.R. No. 176389), p. 13.
3 Effective October 15, 2004.
Rape with Homicide. 4 Rollo (G.R. No. 176389), pp. 393-399 and Rollo (G.R. No. 176864), pp. 80-104.
_______________ 5 Rollo (G.R. No. 176864), pp. 263-499, 525-550.
202
1 Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico and concurred in by Associate Justices 202 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Regalado E. Maambong and Lucenito N. Tagle (dissented in the resolution of appellants motion for
reconsideration). Lejano vs. People
201 That by reason or on the occasion of the aforesaid rape or immediately thereafter,
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 201 the above-named accused with intent to kill, conspiring and confederating together,
Lejano vs. People mutually helping one another, did then and there, and with evident premeditation,
abuse of superior strength, nighttime, with the use of motor vehicle, assault and stab
The petition for review on certiorari filed earlier by accused Lejano (G.R. with bladed instruments Carmela Vizconde, Estrellita Vizconde and Jennifer Vizconde,
No. 176389) is hereby treated as an appeal, considering that said accused had thereby inflicting upon them numerous stab wounds in different parts of their bodies
in fact filed a notice of appeal with the CA.2 In view of the judgment of the CA which caused their instantaneous death.
imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua, such appeal by notice of appeal is That accused GERARDO BIONG and JOHN DOES having knowledge after the
in accord with A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC (Amendments to the Revised Rules of commission of the above-mentioned crime, and without having participated therein as
Criminal Procedure to Govern Death Penalty Cases)3 which provides under principals or accomplices, took part subsequent to its commission by assisting, with
Rule 124 (c): abuse of authority as a police officer, the above-named principal accused, to conceal
(c) In cases where the Court of Appeals imposes reclusion perpetua, life or destroy the effects or instruments thereof by failing to preserve the physical evidence
imprisonment or a lesser penalty, it shall render and enter judgment imposing such and allowing their destruction in order to prevent the discovery of the crime.
penalty. The judgment may be appealed to the Supreme Court by notice of appeal filed CONTRARY TO LAW.6
with the Court of Appeals. The RTC and CA concurred in their factual findings based mainly on the
Accordingly, G.R. No. 176389 was consolidated with the present appeal by testimony of the prosecutions principal witness, Jessica M. Alfaro who is a
all accused (G.R. No. 176864) except Artemio Ventura and Joey Filart who are confessed former drug user, the declarations of four (4) other witnesses and
still at large.4Only Webb and Gatchalian filed their respective supplemental documentary exhibits.
briefs in compliance with our April 10, 2007 Resolution.5 Alfaro testified that on June 29, 1991 at around 8:30 in the evening, she
drove her Mitsubishi Lancer and, with her then boyfriend Peter Estrada, went to
the Ayala Alabang Commercial Center parking lot to get her order of one (1) before reaching the pedestrian gate to signal her arrival. Alfaro returned to her
gram of shabu from Artemio Dong Ventura. There she met and was introduced car but waited for Carmelas car to get out of the gate. Carmela drove ahead
to Venturas friends: Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Tony Boy Lejano, Miguel and Alfaro likewise left Vinzons St. Upon
Ging Rodriguez, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Michael Gatchalian and Joey _______________
Filart (she had previously seen them in a shabu house located in Paraaque
9 TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 79-81 and 93-99 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 253-255, 267-273).
which they frequented as early as January 1991,7 while she had known Ventura 10 TSN, October 18, 1995, pp. 18-19, 27-40, 54 and 62-63 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 943-944, 953-
since December 19908). After paying for her shabu and while she was smoking 966, 980 and 988-989); TSN, October 30, 1995, pp. 27-29 (Records, Vols. 5 & 6, pp. 900-902); TSN,
it, Webb approached her and requested a favor for her to relay a message to a November 8, 1995, pp. 91, 114, 117-118 (Records, Vol. 6, pp. 395, 418 and 421-422); TSN, October
certain girl who hap- 16, 1995, pp. 142-143 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 694-695); Exhibit A, Records, Vol. 8, p. 508.
11 TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 99-103 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 273-278).
_______________
12 Pictures of the Vizconde house at Records, Vol. 1, pp. 82-87.
204
6 Records, Vol. 1, pp. 1-3.
7 TSN, October 19, 1995, pp. 3-6 (Records, Vol. 5, pp. 37-40); TSN, October 23, 1995, pp. 10- 204 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
24 (Records, Vol. 5, pp. 258-272). Lejano vs. People
8 TSN, October 23, 1995, pp. 6-10 (Records, Vol. 5, pp. 254-258).
203
reaching the main road, Aguirre Avenue, she saw Carmela drop off the man
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 203 who was with her in the car (whom she thought to be her boyfriend13). Alfaro
looked for the group and relayed Carmelas instructions to Webb. Thereafter,
Lejano vs. People they all went back to the Ayala Alabang Commercial Center.14
pened to be Carmela, to which she agreed. After the group finished At the parking lot, Alfaro relayed to the group what transpired during her last
their shabu session, they proceeded to Carmelas place at No. 80 Vinzons conversation with Carmela. She also told Webb about Carmelas male
Street, Pitong Daan Subdivision, BF Homes, Paraaque City. She and Estrada companion; this changed his mood for the rest of the evening (bad
in her car followed the two (2) vehicles: Webb, Lejano, Ventura, Fernandez and tripalready15). Webb then gave out complimentary cocaine and all of them
Gatchalian on board a Nissan Patrol car; while Filart and Rodriguez rode a used shabu and/or cocaine.16 After about 40 to 45 minutes, Webb decided it was
Mazda pick-up.9 time to leave, declaring: Pipilahan natin siya [Carmela] at ako ang
Upon reaching the area, Alfaro parked her car along Vinzons St. and mauuna.Lejano said: Ako ang susunod and the others responded Okay,
approached the gate of the house pointed to by Webb. She pressed the buzzer okay. They all left the parking lot and their convoy of three (3) vehicles entered
and when a woman came out, she asked for Carmela. When she was able to Pitong Daan Subdivision for the third time. They arrived at the Vizconde
talk to Carmela (an acquaintance she had met only twice in January 199110), residence between 11:45 to 11:55 p.m.17
Alfaro relayed Webbs message that he was around. However, Carmela said Alfaro parked her car in between the Vizconde house and its adjacent
she cannot make it as she had just arrived home and told Alfaro to come back house. While waiting for the rest of the group to alight from their cars, Fernandez
after twenty (20) minutes. She relayed the answer of Carmela to Webb who approached her suggesting that they blow up the transformer near the
then instructed the group to return to Ayala Alabang Commercial Center.11 pedestrian gate of the Vizconde residence in order to cause a brownout
At the same parking lot, the group had another shabu session before (Pasabugin kaya natin ang transformer na ito). She shrugged off the idea and
proceeding again to Carmelas residence in a convoy. Alfaro went to Vinzons told Fernandez Malakas lang ang tama mo. When Webb, Lejano and Ventura
St. alone while the Nissan Patrol and Mazda parked somewhere along Aguirre were already standing infront of the Vizconde residence, Webb repeated to the
Avenue. Upon seeing Carmela who was at their garden, Alfaro was approached boys that they will line up for Carmela but he will be the first, and the others
by Carmela saying she was going out for a while. Carmela told Alfaro that they said, O sige, dito lang kami, magbabantay lang kami.18
come back before 12:00 midnight and she would just leave the pedestrian gate, _______________
as well as the iron grill gate leading to the kitchen door, open and
unlocked.12 Carmela further instructed Alfaro to blink her cars headlights twice 13 TSN, February 26, 1996, pp. 77-82.
14 TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 104-121 and 155 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 278-295 and 329). 19 Id., at pp. 40-72, 75-76 (Id., at pp. 593-625, 628 to 628-A); TSN, January 25, 1996, pp. 14-
15 TSN, March 4, 1996, p. 28. 15; TSN, February 26, 1996, pp. 104-106.
16 TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 156-164 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 330-338). 206
17 Id., at p. 165 (339); TSN, October 16, 1995, pp. 33-35 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 586-588); TSN, 206 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
October 24, 1995, pp. 98-100 (Records, Vols. 5, 6 & 7, pp. 528-530); TSN, February 29, 1996, pp.
42-64. Lejano vs. People
18 TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 36-53 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 589-607). room. There she saw a man on top of Carmela who was lying on the floor, two
205 (2) bloodied bodies on top of the bed and Lejano who was at the foot of the bed
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 205 about to wear his jacket. She turned her eyes on Carmela who was gagged,
Lejano vs. People moaning and in tears while Webb was pumping her, his bare buttocks exposed.
Alfaro entered first the pedestrian gate which was left open, followed by Webb gave her a look and she immediately left the room. At the dining area,
Webb, Lejano and Ventura. At the garage, Ventura pulled out a chair to get on she met Ventura who told her: Prepare an escape. Aalis na tayo.Shocked by
top of the hood of the Vizcondes Nissan Sentra car and loosened the electric what she saw, Alfaro rushed out of the house and found the rest of the group
bulb (para daw walang ilaw). They proceeded to the iron grill gate which was outside, in her car and on the sidewalk.20
likewise left open, and passed through the dirty kitchen. It was Carmela who Alfaro boarded her car and started the engine but did not know where to
opened the aluminum screen door of the kitchen for them to enter. Carmela and proceed. She saw Webb, Lejano and Ventura leaving the house already. Webb
Webb for a moment looked at each other in the eye, and then proceeded suddenly picked up a stone and threw it to the main door, breaking its glass
towards the dining area. As she lost sight of Carmela and Webb, Alfaro decided frame. When the three (3) were near the pedestrian gate, Webb told Ventura
to go out of the house. Lejano asked where she was going and she told him she that he left behind his jacket. But Ventura said they cannot make it anymore as
will smoke outside. On her way to the screen door, she saw Ventura pulling a the iron grills were already locked. They all rode in their cars and drove away
drawer in the kitchen. At the garden area, she smoked a cigarette. After about until they reached Aguirre Avenue. Near an old hotel in the Tropical Palace
twenty (20) minutes, she was surprised upon hearing a female voice uttered area, Alfaro saw the Nissan Patrol slow down and something thrown out into a
Sino yan? and she immediately walked out towards her car. She found the cogonal area. They went to a large house with high walls and concrete fence,
others still outside around her car and Estrada who was inside the car said: steel gate and long driveway located at BF Executive Village. They parked their
Okay ba? After staying in her car for about ten (10) minutes, she returned to cars inside the compound and gathered in the lawn area where the blaming
the house passing through the same iron grill gate and dirty kitchen. While it session took place. It was only at this point that Alfaro and the others came to
was dark inside the house, there was light coming from outside. In the kitchen, know fully what happened at the Vizconde house. The mother was the first one
she saw Ventura searching a ladys bag on top of the dining table. When she (1) killed, then Jennifer and the last, Carmela.21
asked Ventura what was it he was looking for, he said: Ikaw na nga dito, Ventura was blaming Webb telling him: Bakit naman pati yung bata?
maghanap ka ng susi. She asked him what particular key and he replied: According to Webb, the girl was awakened and upon seeing him molesting
Basta maghanap ka ng susi ng main door pati na rin ng susi ng kotse. When Carmela, she jumped on him, bit his shoulders and pulled his hair. Webb got
she found a bunch of keys in the bag, she tried them on the main door of the mad and grabbed the girl, pushed her to the wall and stabbed her several times.
house but none of them fitted the lock; she also did not find any car key.19 Lejano excused himself and used the telephone inside the house, while Webb
Unable to open the main door, Alfaro walked back towards the kitchen but called up someone on his cellular phone. At around 2:00 in the morning,
upon reaching the spot leading to the dining area, she heard a very loud static Gerardo Biong arrived
sound (like that coming from a television which had signed off). Out of curiosity, _______________
she went to the door of the masters bedroom where the sound was coming
20 TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 76-97 (Records, Vol. 4, pp. 628-A to 649); May 22, 1995 Affidavit,
from and peeped inside. She pushed the slightly ajar door with her fingers and Records, Vol. l, p. 96.
the sound grew even louder. After pushing the door wider, she walked into the 21 Id., at pp. 97-104 (Id. at pp. 649-656); TSN, February 19, 1996, pp. 6-39; May 22, 1995
_______________ Affidavit, Records, Vol. 1, pp. 97-98.
207 one (1) which is extremely blunt, the other extremely sharp. These wounds are
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 207 located in different parts of her body, most of which are on the left anterior chest.
Lejano vs. People But unlike Carmela and Estrellita, Jennifer had two (2) stab wounds on her back
and talked to Webb who ordered him to clean up the Vizconde house, and said and incise wounds on her left and right forearms, the latter usually referred to
Pera lang ang katapat nyan.Biong answered Okay lang. Webb addressed as defense wounds. Seven (7) of the nine (9) stab wounds on her chest were
the group and gave his final instructions: We dont know each other. We havent perforating, hence fatal wounds.26 Judging from the characteristics of the stab
seen each other...baka maulit yan. She and Estrada then departed and went wounds sustained by the victims, Dr. Cabanayan concluded that they could
to her fathers house.22 have been inflicted using sharp-edged, pointed and single-bladed instruments
Dr. Prospero A. Cabanayan, medico-legal officer of the National Bureau of such as a kitchen knife.27
Investigation (NBI), who conducted the autopsy on the cadavers of the victims, Normal E. White, Jr., one (1) of four (4) security guards assigned at Pitong
testified on his findings as stated in the autopsy reports he submitted to the Daan Subdivision which is part of the United BF Homes, testified that he and
court. The bodies were photographed showing their condition before the start Edgar Mendez were the guards on duty on the night of June 29, 1991, starting
of the post-mortem examination.23 Considering that they were almost in at 7:00 oclock in the evening until 7:00 oclock in the morning of June 30, 1991.
complete rigor mortis, the victims must have been dead for twelve (12) hours. On June 30, 1991, at around 6:00 a.m., a homeowner called his attention on
Carmelas hands were on her back hogtied with an electric cord and her mouth the incident the previous night at the Vizconde house. He immediately
gagged with a pillow case. She had contusions on her right forearm and thighs, proceeded to said house where there were already many people. The
ligature marks on her wrists and nine (9) stab wounds on her chest (five housemaids of the Vizcondes led him to the entrance at the kitchen and pointed
[5] wounds are connecting or reaching to the back of the body). Further, to the masters bedroom. Upon entering the room, he saw the bloodied bodies
specimen taken from her genitalia tested positive for the presence of human of the victims: two (2) were on top of the bed, and one (1) lying down on the
spermatozoa, which is indicative of complete penetration plus ejaculation of the floor. He is familiar with Mrs. Vizconde, Carmela and Jennifer because they
male sex organ into the female sex organ. The contusions on her thighs were were kind to the guards and usually greeted them. Mrs. Vizconde was gagged
probably due to the application of blunt force such as a fist blow.24 and her hands tied, while Jennifer was also lying on top of the bed. Carmela
Dr. Cabanayan further testified that Estrellita was also hogtied from behind was lying on her back with one (1) of her legs raised, her dress pulled up and
and her wrists bore ligature marks from an electric cord with a plug. She her genitals exposed. He also noticed that the TV was still on with loud sound.
sustained twelve (12) stab wounds, eight (8) of which are communicating or He went out to call the police but he met their Security Chief whom he informed
perforating (through and through stab wounds) which are fatal since vital organs about the killings at the Vizconde house. He then proceeded directly to the
are involved.25 As to Jennifer, her stab wounds, nineteen (19) in all, had the entrance/guard post of the subdivision and was told by Mendez that there were
characteristics of already policemen who had arrived.28
_______________ _______________

22 Id., at pp. 111-112, 121-142 (Id. at pp. 663-664, 673-694); TSN, February 27, 1996, pp. 38, 26 Exhibits M to U, Records, Vol. 8, pp. 319-322; TSN, January 31, 1996, pp. 8-10, 13-20.
50-51; TSN, February 8, 1996, pp. 50, 55, 60-81; May 22, 1995 Affidavit, Records, Vol. 1, pp. 97-98. 27 TSN, January 31, 1996, pp. 7, 17-18 and 74.
23 Exhibits G to G-2, Q to R, V, W and X, Records, Vol. 8, pp. 308-310, 323-324, 28 TSN, March 25, 1996, pp. 8-14, 17-34.
328-330. 209
24 Exhibits H to K, Records, Vol. 8, pp. 311-315; TSN, January 30, 1996, pp. 64, 67-91; TSN, VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 209
January 31, 1996, pp. 7-8.
25 Exhibit Y to BB, Records, Vol. 8, pp. 456-459; TSN, January 31, 1996, pp. 59-75. Lejano vs. People
208 Having been apprised of the arrival of the police, White, Jr. returned to the
208 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Vizconde house to observe what was going on. He saw the policemen already
Lejano vs. People investigating the crime scene and one (1) of them he later came to know as
Gerardo Biong. There was also a woman who was with Biong when he was
conducting the investigation inside the Vizconde premises at the garage area. logbook, he could not recognize its cover and could not categorically confirm
The maids were being asked if they were able to hear the breaking of the main the entries supposedly made in his own handwriting.32
doors glass frame, and he saw Biong in the act of further breaking the remaining Justo Cabanacan, another security guard assigned at the Pitong Daan
glass. He recognized other homeowners who were also there, including Michael Subdivision and the one (1) supervising his co-guards White, Jr., Mendez and
Gatchalian who passed by infront of the house. Afterwards, he returned to their Tungo, testified that when he reported for duty on June 30, 1991 at about 7:00
guard post where their Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Justo Cabanacan, probed him oclock in the morning, he was met by Mendez who told him about the killing of
and Mendez on anything they had observed the previous night. He and Mendez a homeowner and her family. When he asked Mendez if he and White, Jr.
told Cabanacan that they did not notice anything unusual except Mike (Michael noticed anything unusual during their tour of duty the previous night, Mendez
Gatchalian) and his friends entering and exiting the subdivision gate (labas- said everything was alright except for Mike and his friends who had gone in and
masok).29 out of the subdivision (labas-masok) until the wee hours in the morning of June
White, Jr. recounted that Mikes group entered the subdivision on the night of 30, 1991. White, Jr. also reported to him that on the night of June 29, 1991,
June 29, 1991. Upon approaching the gate, Mikes car slowed down on the while doing his roving duty around the subdivision, he noticed vehicles parked
hump. He was about to flag down and verify (sisitahin) but Mike (who was at along Vinzons St. near the house of Mr. Almogino where there seemed to be a
the right front seat) immediately opened his window to show his face and drinking party, and that Mike was labas-masok through the subdivision gate.
pointed to two (2) vehicles behind him as his companions. Because of their He confirmed it was indeed their policy that if one (1) is a son/daughter of a
policy allowing outsiders to enter the subdivision as long as they are homeowner, or accompanied by a homeowner or any relative of homeowner,
accompanied by a homeowner, he and Mendez just let the three (3) vehicles in he/she will no longer be stopped or queried by the guards. In particular, he
(Mike was in the first car). That was actually the second time he saw Mike and knows Mike and had seen him visit the house of Lilet Sy, another homeowner.
his barkada that night because he had earlier seen them at Vinzons St. near He often goes to Lilet Sys house because of the various complaints of
the Gatchalian residence. However, he could no longer remember the precise homeowners against her like the presence of too many people at her house until
time he saw the group on these two (2) instances.30 midnight and the vehicles of her visi-
White, Jr. further testified that on the night of June 30, 1991, policemen took _______________
him from the Pitong Daan Subdivision Homeowners Association and brought
31 Id., at pp. 70-79.
him to the Paraaque Municipal Building. Biong was forcing him to admit that 32 Id., at pp. 79-109.
he was one (1) of those who 211
_______________ VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 211
29 Id., at pp. 21-22, 34-55; TSN, May 2, 1996, pp. 63-64. Lejano vs. People
30 TSN, March 25, 1996, pp. 57-69. tors running over her neighbors plants. This Lilet Sy is also a suspected drug
210 pusher within the subdivision.33
210 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Cabanacan further testified that around the last week of May or first week of
Lejano vs. People June 1991, he came to know Hubert Webb because he had stopped his car at
killed the Vizconde women. Biong boxed him insisting he was among the the subdivision gate as it had no local sticker of Pitong Daan Subdivision. It was
perpetrators and had no mercy for the victims. He and Mendez were later around 7:00 oclock in the evening when Webb arrived. He greeted Webb and
fetched by the Chief of Security of Pitong Daan Subdivision Homeowners asked about his destination. Webb replied he was going to see Lilet Sy. When
Association, Nestor Potenciano Jr., and OIC Justo Cabanacan.31 Biong had also he asked Webb to leave an identification card, Webb pointed to his car sticker
taken their logbook where they list down the names of visitors, plate number of saying he is also a BF Homes resident. He explained to Webb that the sticker
vehicles, name and street of the homeowner they were staying at, etc. However, on his car was for United BF Homes and not the local sticker of Pitong Daan
when presented with the alleged logbook, White, Jr. said it was not the same Subdivision. Webb then said: Taga-diyan lang ako sa Phase III...saka anak ako
ni Congressman Webb. He insisted on seeing Webbs ID card and grudgingly the clothes, she hanged them to dry on the second floor. Returning to the
Webb obliged and pulled out his wallet. Webb gave him a laminated ID card servants quarters, she peeped into Huberts room through the secret door.
with Webbs picture and with the name Hubert Webb written on it. After seeing She saw Hubert pacing the floor (di mapakali); this was about 9:00 a.m.
the ID card, he returned the same to Webb and allowed him to enter the already. She saw Hubert again around 1:00 oclock in the afternoon as he left
subdivision. However, he did not anymore record this incident in their logbook the house passing through the secret door; he was clad in t-shirt and shorts.
because anyway Webb is the son of the Paraaque Congressman, a well- Hubert was back at the house by 4:00 oclock in the afternoon. She never saw
known personality.34 him again until she left in July 1991.37
In the morning of June 30, 1991, Cabanacan said he also went to the Vizconde Gaviola further testified that on June 30, 1991 at around 7:00 oclock in the
house upon being told by Mendez and White, Jr. of the killings. By afternoon of morning, she saw Senator Webb at the sala reading a newspaper.38
the same day, he came to meet Biong who was conducting the investigation. Lolita Carrera Vda. de Birrer, a widow and resident of United Paraaque
Based on the information given by Mendez and White, Jr., he prepared a written Subdivision 5, testified that on June 29, 1991 at around 6:00 p.m., Biong who
report on the incident which he submitted to Nestor Potenciano, Jr. After the was then her boyfriend, asked her to come to the
incident, Biong frequented their place to investigate and asserting he had no _______________
female companion while conducting his investigation at the Vizconde house on
35 Id., at pp. 104-106; TSN, March 18, 1996, pp. 20-22.
June 30, 1991. Aside from taking their logbook, Biong also took his two (2) 36 Employment Contract of Gaviola, Exhibit C, Records, Vol. 8, p. 304.
guards (Mendez and White, Jr.) to the police headquarters on June 30, 1991 at 37 TSN, December 5, 1995, pp. 21-65.
around 7:00 p.m. The said guards also related to him 38 TSN, December 6, 1995, p. 19; TSN, December 13, 1995, pp. 88-89.
_______________ 213
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 213
33 TSN, March 14, 1996, pp. 12, 15-25, 41-45, 48, 51-54, 63-64; TSN, March 18, 1996, pp. 88- Lejano vs. People
97.
34 TSN, March 14, 1996, pp. 79-89, 103-104. Paraaque police station to play mahjong at Aling Glos canteen located at the
212 back of their office. They started playing at 6:30 in the evening. Between 1:00
212 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED and 2:00 in the morning of June 30, 1991, the radio operator at the police station
Lejano vs. People went down to the canteen telling Biong he has a call. She took Biongs place at
what Biong did to them. They said Biong punched them and forced them to the game while Biong went to the headquarters. After a while, she followed
admit having participated in the Vizconde killings.35 Biong to ask if he was joining the next bet. Biong was on the telephone talking
Mila Solomon Gaviola, a laundrywoman who worked at the Webb residence with someone and visibly irked. She heard Biongs words: Ano?... Saan?...
located at Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Paraaque from January to July Mahirap yan ah! O sige, dadating ako... Ano?... Saan?... Dilaw na taxi? Biong
199136 testified that on June 30, 1991 at around 4:00 in the morning, she went then told her he was leaving and shortly thereafter a taxicab arrived with a man
to the room of Hubert to get his and his brothers (Jason and Michaels) dirty seated at the back seat. Biong bade her good-bye saying he was going to BF
clothes, using the small secret door at the second floor near the servants Homes. She continued playing mahjong until morning. At around 7:00 a.m.,
quarters. She noticed that Michael and Jason were still asleep while Hubert was Biong came back and went straight to the washing area of the canteen. She
sitting on the bed wearing only his pants. When she finished collecting dirty followed him and saw him cleaning blood stains on his fingernails. After wiping
clothes including those of Senator Webb, she brought them down to the laundry his face and hands with a handkerchief, he threw it away and when she asked
area. She ate breakfast and rested for a while. Afterwards, she started washing why, Biong said it smelled stinky. Biong was in bad mood (aburido) and
first Senator Webbs clothes and then those of the sons. She washed Huberts complained, Putang inang mga batang yon, pinahirapan ako nang husto.
white shirt with round neck and found it had fresh blood stains at the stomach Afterwards, Biong took out a knife with aluminum cover from his drawer and put
area and also splattered blood (tilamsik lang) on the chest. She had difficulty it in his steel cabinet. She invited him for lunch but another policeman, Galvan,
removing the blood stains and had to use Chlorox. After she finished washing came and told Biong to proceed to BF Homes and investigate the three (3) dead
persons there. Biong answered, Oo, susunod na ako and then proceeded to maids were resting at the sala, Biong requested to use her bathroom. Before
Capt. Bartolomes office. With Capt. Bartolomes permission, she joined them taking a bath, Biong took out the contents of his pockets which he put on the
in going to the Vizconde residence.39 dining table. She saw Carmelas ATM card and drivers license, bracelet,
Upon arriving at the Vizconde house, Biong asked that the victims relatives and earrings and the round pendant watch Biong had taken from a jewelry box while
the homeowners association President be summoned. A certain Mr. Lopez and they were inside the Vizconde house. When Biong left her house, he brought
Ms. Moreno arrived and also a security guard named White, Jr. who pointed to all said items with him.41
the location of the victims bodies. They entered the masters bedroom and she On July 2, 1991 at around 6:00 p.m., Birrer was at the Paraaque Municipal
saw the mother and a small girl on top of the bed, and a young woman sprawled Building inside Biongs office. She saw Biong open his steel cabinet and took
on the floor. After inspecting the bodies, Biong went to the toilet and turned on out a brown leather jacket which she thought was
the faucet; the running water washed out the blood on the flooring of the toilet. _______________
Biong searched the drawers using his ballpen. She saw him took a round
40 Id., at pp. 38-56.
pendant watch and pocketed it. They went out of the 41 Id., at pp. 55-66; TSN, April 23, 1996, pp. 12-13.
_______________ 215

39 TSN, April 16, 1996, pp. 18-38, 79.


VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 215
214 Lejano vs. People
214 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED imported. When she asked him where it came from, Biong initially just said
Lejano vs. People it was given as a gift but when she further queried, he answered: Natatandaan
room and on the top of the dining table they saw a shoulder bag and scattered mo ba yong nirespondehan ko noong gabi sa BF Homes? Doon galing yon.
next to it were various items such as Carmelas ATM card, her drivers license She asked Biong whether those were the youths he had mentioned earlier and
and calling cards. Biong proceeded to the main door and removed its chain lock. he said yes. As to the jewelries taken by Biong from the Vizconde house, she
When they came out towards the garage area, Biong saw a stone by the was with Biong when the latter pawned them at a pawnshop near Chow-Chow;
window. He then asked Capt. Bartolome to go inside the room of the two (2) Biong got P20,000.00 for the pawned items.42
maids to see for himself if indeed the noise of the breaking glass could not be Birrer further testified that two (2) weeks after they went to the Vizconde
heard. When Capt. Bartolome was already inside the middle room, Biong residence to investigate, Biong on two (2) occasions brought her along to a
shattered the remaining glass of the main door with the butt of his gun. When certain house. It was only Biong who went inside the said house as she waited
Biong asked if he could hear it, Capt. Bartolome answered in the affirmative. in a taxicab. In both instances, Biong came out of the house with an envelope
Biong next inspected the garage where he saw the footmarks on the cars hood; containing an undisclosed amount of money. She remembered this because
Biong also found fingerprints on the electric bulb. She was just beside Biong at when she was already staying in Pangasinan on December 7, 1995, she saw
the time. They followed Biong towards the back of the house but upon seeing flashed on ABS-CBNs TV Patrol News 7:00 p.m. newscast on television, a
another shoe print on the ground just outside the masters bedroom, he directed video footage of the house of Senator Webb. She was certain it was that house
them not to proceed any further. They left the Vizconde house at around 10:00 where Biong went and came out carrying cash in an envelope.43
a.m. and proceeded to the Paraaque Municipal Building.40 Lauro G. Vizconde, husband of Estrellita and father of Carmela and
Birrer further testified that on July 1, 1991 at 10:00 oclock in the morning, Jennifer, testified on the personal circumstances of the victims. At the time of
Biong arrived at her house bringing along with him the two (2) maids of the their deaths, Estrellita was engaged in business (at one time or another she
Vizcondes. He asked her to cook something for the maids to eat. Biong also was a garment manufacturer, taxi operator, canteen owner and local
instructed her to interview the maids on what they know about the killings. She employment recruiter), Carmela was a graduating B.S. Psychology student at
did as told but the maids said they do not know anything as they were asleep. the University of Santo Tomas, while Jennifer was a Grade I pupil at Bloomfield
After they had lunch, Biong told her to let the maids rest. While she and the Academy at BF Resort, Las Pias, Metro Manila. He left the Philippines in
November 1989 to work in the United States of America. He had not since 45 Id., at pp. 48-49, 53-72, 82-102; Exhibits SSSS and TTTT, Records, Vol. 12, pp. 790-795.
46 Id., at pp. 80-82, 103-105.
returned to the countryuntil this unfortunate tragedy befell his familybut 217
communicated with his wife through telephone once or twice a month.44
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 217
Lauro G. Vizconde further testified that his daughter, when she was still
alive, was so close to him that she confides her daily activi- Lejano vs. People
_______________ Defense Evidence
The accused chiefly assailed the credibility of prosecution star witness
42 TSN, April 16, 1996, pp. 66-86. Alfaro, in particular her execution of two (2) allegedly inconsistent affidavits (one
43 Id., at pp. 96-104.
44 TSN, February 11, 1997, pp. 14-19, 24-28, 31.
on April 28, 1995 and another on May 22, 1995) and raised alibi and denial as
216 defenses to the charge of rape with homicide attended by conspiracy. During
216 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED the trial, no less than 95 witnesses47 were presented, and voluminous
Lejano vs. People documentary exhibits were submitted.
The testimonies of the principal witnesses for the defense are summarized
ties, dreams, ambitions and plans in life. She intended to pursue further
as follows:
masteral and doctoral degrees in business psychology in the U.S.A. In fact, that
Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb testified that at the time of the killings between
was the reason he transferred from one (1) state to another looking for a school
June 29 and 30, 1991, he was still in Anaheim Hills, California, U.S.A., having
where Carmela could enroll. However, he had to come home in July 1991 and
departed from the Philippines on March 9, 1991 on board a United Airlines flight
bury his wife and daughters whose violent deaths he was informed of only upon
bound for San Francisco. He was accompanied by Gloria Webb, whose
arriving in the country and when he saw their bodies with stab wounds at the
husband Richard Webb is the eldest brother of his father Senator Freddie
funeral parlor just before burial. He spent burial expenses in the amount of
Webb. It was the first time he traveled to the US and he returned to the
P289,000.00, plus P103,000.00 incidental expenses, P300,000.00 paid for
Philippines only on October 25, 1992. On the eve of his departure, he, Rael,
memorial lots and around P100,000.00 for the construction of the mausoleum
Tina and his then girlfriend Milagros Castillo went out and had dinner at
with a grand total of P793,950.00. He likewise incurred litigation expenses in
Bunchchums. Later that night, they went to Faces Disco at Makati Avenue
the amount of P97,404.50.45
where his friends Paulo Santos and Jay Ortega followed. They went home at
In one (1) of their telephone conversations when he was still in the U.S.A.,
3:00 oclock in the morning already. After driving around in the city and bringing
Lauro Vizconde recounted that Carmela mentioned to him that she had turned
Milagros home, he arrived at his house at around 5:00 a.m. His parents were
down a suitor whom she called Bagyo, who is a son of politician in Paraaque
already preparing to leave and so they headed to the airport.48 Webbs friend
and comes from an affluent family. He also expressed his mental anguish,
Rafael Jose, Paulo Santos, Senator Webbs security staff Miguel Muoz,
wounded feelings, emotional suffering due to the untimely demise of his family.
Webbs secretary Cristina Magpusao and house girl Victoria Ventoso
It actually cost him his life, his heart bled all the time and only time can tell when
corroborated Webbs testimony that he departed from the Philippines on March
he can fully cope with the situation. He is presently totally displaced and jobless;
9, 1991.49
he misses his family and he now lives an abnormal life with no inspiration and
Webb further testified that he stayed at the house of her Auntie Gloria and
no more challenge to work for. When asked how much compensation he will
Uncle Dinky at San Francisco until late April to May 1991.
ask for moral damages, he answered saying he leaves the matter to the sound _______________
discretion of the court as in truth, no amount can truly compensate him for the
loss of his loved ones. He sought justice for the death of his family and hoped 47 See page 4 of CA Decision, Rollo (G.R. No. 176389), p. 121.
that the culprits, whoever they were, will be punished so that the souls of his 48 TSN, August 14, 1997, pp. 11-19.
49 TSN, July 8, 1997, pp. 15-23, 61-62; TSN, June 9, 1997, pp. 9-10, 20-26; TSN, July 3, 1997,
departed loved ones may rest in peace.46 pp. 9-19; TSN, June 19, 1997, pp. 9-12, 29-36, 53-54; TSN, July 1, 1997, pp. 25-27.
_______________
218
218 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED also met Rodriguez. While he admitted having gone out on a group with
Lejano vs. People Fernandez to the houses of their basketball buddies, he denied having gone out
Upon the invitation of her aunt Susan Brottman, sister of his mother, he rode a with Rodriguez at any time.52 He also denied knowing Biong who is neither a
train and went to Anaheim where he stayed until mid-July 1991. Thereafter, he driver nor security aide of his father.53
rented a nearby place but did not complete the one (1) month pre-paid lease Gloria Webb testified that on March 9, 1991, she traveled with Webb on a
period as he proceeded to Longwood, Florida. He stayed at the residence of his United Airlines flight to San Francisco. Webb stayed at her residence at 639
Uncle Jack and Sonia Rodriguez for almost a year (August 1991-August 1992). Gellert Boulevard, Daly City, California until May 1991 when he left to be with
He went back to Anaheim and stayed at the house of his godmother and sister his mothers sister and relatives in Anaheim. Webb and her grandson attended
of his mother, Imelda Pagaspas, until October 1992. He met his relatives and a concierto in the evenings and he also joined and helped her son-in-law with
other personalities while in the US; visited Lake Tahoe with the Wheelock his business. Webb went with them to church, to the malls and in shopping. In
family; toured Disneyland where Luis Wheelock filmed them and attended a April 1991, Webb went on a trip to Lake Tahoe with Mr. Wheelock and family.54
concert with Christopher Esguerra who also took him out to the malls.50 Dorothy Wheelock testified that she became a US citizen in 1974 and has
Webb further testified that in the later part of June 1991, his parents joined been residing at 877 Las Lomas Drive, Milpitas, California. Webbs mother is
him in the US. He applied for and was issued a drivers license on June 14, her childhood friend and schoolmate. When she heard that Webb was in the US
1991. He also worked at the pest control company of his cousin-in-law Alex del looking for a job, she invited him, and her husband Louis Wheelock picked him
Toro. Aside from his passport and airline ticket for return flight to the Philippines, up at Daly City in April 1991. To reciprocate the Webbs hospitality while they
Webb presented before the court the logbook of jobs/tasks kept by del Toro, in visited the Philippines in 1990, she and her family took Webb to a trip to Lake
which he pointed to the entries therein which were actually performed by him; Tahoe in Nevada during which they even took a video tape. Senator Freddie
and also his purported pay check ($150 pay to Cash), ID and other and Mrs. Webb also visited and stayed with them for four (4) days in July 1991.
employment papers. He also identified some handwritten letters he mailed while They took them to a trip to Yosemite Park, also with video footages taken by
he was in the US and sent to his friend Jennifer Cabrera in the Philippines; her husband.55
photographs and video tape clips taken during his cousin Marie Manlapits Steven Keeler testified that he had been an American citizen since 1982
wedding to Alex del Toro which wedding he attended in the US together with and resident of 4002 River Street, Newport Beach, California. He met Webb at
his mother; and receipt issued for the mountain bicycle he bought on June 30, a dinner in the house of Webbs aunt Susan Brottman in Anaheim Hills around
1991 from the Orange Cycle store in Anaheim.51 May or June 1991. Brottmans son, Rey Manlapit, was his good friend. They
Webb denied having met Carmela Vizconde and neither does he know played basketball with Webb, went to bars, shopped and watched TV. He also
Jessica Alfaro. He had been jailed since August 9, 1995. When asked about his knew that Webb bought a car and worked for Alex del Toro for Environment
_______________
co-accused, Webb said the only ones he had met before June 29, 1991 were
Fernandez and Rodriguez. He used to play basketball with Fernandez at BF 52 Id., at pp. 81-86.
Homes Phase III, during which he 53 Id., at pp. 90-91.
_______________ 54 TSN, April 30, 1997, pp. 73-74.
55 TSN, April 23, 1997, pp. 128-129, 134-148.
50 Id., at pp. 28-73. 220
51 TSN, September 1, 1997, pp. 5-79; Exhibits 223 to 295, Records, Vol. 21, pp. 11-25, 26, 220 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
31, 203, 207; Exhibits 79, 319, 331, 234, 295, 346, 305, 306, 307 and 244 to 246.
219 Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 219 First Termite Control. He believed that Webb left for Florida towards the end of
Lejano vs. People summer (July 1991). He could not recall any specific dates he was with Webb.56
Honesto Aragon testified that he went to the US in 1967 and became a US
citizen in 1989. On June 28, 1991, he met then Congressman Freddie Webb at
the house of the latters sister-in-law, Susan, at Anaheim. Congressman Webb implicating his son Hubert in the Vizconde killings, he said the statements were
introduced to him his son Hubert Webb. He, Congressman Webb and Hubert not accurate because it was physically impossible for Hubert to have
went to some stores to go shopping for a bicycle for Hubert. But they only bought participated in the crime as he was abroad at the time.59
bike accessories. He invited them to snack before he brought them to his own Louis Whitaker testified that he left the Philippines and resided in the US
house where he introduced to them his son Andrew. The following day, June since September 1964. He met Jack Rodriguez when the latter fetched him and
29, 1991, they went to Riverside, California to shop for a car for Hubert; though his wife Sonia at the Los Angeles International Airport on June 28, 1991 upon
they found a Toyota MR2, they did not buy it because it has questionable their arrival from the Philippines. They proceeded to the house of a mutual
ownership. Early morning the next day, he picked up Congressman Webb and friend, Salvador Vaca, at Moresbay Street in Lake Forest. They went to see
they played tennis from 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. He and Congressman Webb were Congressman Webb at a house in Anaheim. That was the first time he met
close friends, as both of them were members of a basketball team in Letran. Congressman Webb, Mrs. Webb, the sister-in-law and a Mr. Aragon. On June
The first time he saw Hubert was when he was still a small kid and the other 29, 1991, he and Rodriguez invited Congressman Webb to see Mr. Vaca
time on June 28, 1991 at the Brottmans residence in Anaheim.57 perform at La Calesa Restaurant in the City of Testin. When they fetched
Senator Freddie Webb testified that his son Hubert left for the US on March Congressman Webb at his sister-in-laws house, he met again Mrs. Webb, and
9, 1991, the first time he had gone out of the country. Hubert stayed with his also Hubert. He saw Hubert for the second time at Orlando, Florida when he
sister-in-law Gloria. They wanted to show Hubert the value of independence, went to the house of Jack Rodriguez there; this was about July or August 1991.60
hard work and perseverance, and for him to learn how to get along and live with Sonia H. Rodriguez testified that she was appointed UNESCO
other people. Hubert resigned from his job at Saztec before departing for the Commissioner by then President Fidel V. Ramos. She has known accused
US. He and his wife also went to the US on June 28, 1991. They stayed at the Webb since he was a child. On June 28, 1991, she and her husband boarded
house of his sister-in-law, Susan Brottman at Anaheim. From San Francisco, a plane for Los Angeles, California. They were fetched at the LA airport by old-
they went to Orlando, Florida, then back to Los Angeles and returned to the time friend Salvador Vaca and proceeded to the latters house in Orange
Philippines on July 21, 1991. Among the places he visited while in the US were County, California. They had dinner that evening with spouses Freddie and
the Yosemite Park, Nordstrom, Disneyland, Disneyworld. Upon arriving at Elizabeth Webb at the
Anaheim, he saw his son Hubert and also informed Honesto Aragon regarding _______________
their plan to procure a bicycle for Hubert. Hubert was with them again on June
58 TSN, July 16, 1997, pp. 37-42, 46-51, 58-62.
29, 59 Id., at pp. 65-70.
_______________ 60 TSN, June 26, 1997, pp. 13-28.
222
56 TSN, June 2, 1997, pp. 51-64, 75-78.
57 TSN, July 16, 1996, pp. 16-17, 23-32, 61-63, 78-84.
222 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
221 Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 221 house of Susan Brottman. The next day, in the afternoon of June 29, 1991,
Lejano vs. People her husband and Salvador Vaca picked up Senator Webb from the house of
1991 at dinner in the residence of his sister-in-law. On July 1, 1991, they went Susan Brottman and then came back to fetch her and Mrs. Vaca to go to La
shopping for some clothes. Together with Aragon, he and Hubert looked for a Calesa, a restaurant owned by Mario Benitez, also a Filipino. However, she and
Toyota MR2 car and paid for it with a check (the car was priced at $6,000- Mrs. Vaca decided to stay home. On June 30, 1991 at around 8:00 p.m., she
$7,000).58 and her husband went to the house of Susan Brottman, together with Salvador
Senator Webb further testified that he knows Mila Gaviola who used to be and Mrs. Vaca and Louis Whitaker. She recalled that Hubert was there at the
their labandera. She left their house but returned to work for them again about time. She saw Hubert again on July 4, 1991 when they went on a lakeside picnic
a couple of months after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. As to Alfaros statements with the Webb family, Brottmans and Vacas. After watching the fireworks, they
went to Sizzler Restaurant. The next day, she and her husband stayed overnight
at San Francisco where they also met Senator and Mrs. Webb. On August 2) Official Receipt issued by Orange Cycle Center dated June 30,
August 4, 1991, Hubert arrived in her home in Florida with her son Tony, 1991,68 photographs of the bicycle purchased by Webb from said store;69
daughter-in-law Ana, and stayed with them for almost one (1) year. The last 3) Car plate with the name Lew Webb;70
time she saw Hubert was when he left Orlando, Florida on January 27, 1992.61 4) Passport with Philippine Immigration arrival stamp;71
Webb presented other witnesses to buttress his defense of alibi: Victor Yap 5) Photographs of Webb with Rodriguez family;72
(who took video shots of Congressman Webb during a boat ride in 6) California Drivers License of Webb,73Original License Card of Webb
Disneyland);62 Armando Rodriguez (who testified seeing Hubert in Orlando issued on June 14, 1991;74
either August or September 1991);63 performing artist Gary Valenciano (who 7) Statement of Account issued to Environment First Termite Control
testified meeting Hubert at a dinner at the Rodriguez residence in Orlando on showing Check No. 0180;75 Bank of America Certification on Check Nos.
November 24, 1991, Jack Rodriguez being the father of his high school 0122 and 0180;76
classmate Antonio Rodriguez;64 and Christopher Paul Legaspi Esguerra _______________
(grandson of Gloria Webb who went with Hubert Webb to watch the concert of
66 TSN, August 12, 1997, pp. 9-12, 28-30.
the Deelite Band in San Francisco in the later part of April 1991 and saw Hubert 67 Exhibit 331.
Webb for the last time in May 1991).65 68 Exhibit 337-B.
Then a practicing lawyer, Atty. Antonio T. Carpio(now an Associate Justice 69 Exhibit 349, Records, Vol. 21, p. 116 (Vol. 3), 29-32 (Vol. 4).
of this Court) testified that on June 29, 1991 between 10:00 and 11:00 oclock 70 Exhibit 348.
71 Exhibit 319-A.
in the morning, he had a telephone conversation with former Congressman 72 Exhibits 323, 325, 326.
Webb who said he was calling from 73 Exhibit 344.
_______________ 74 Exhibit 346.
75 Exhibit 309, 309-A and submarkings.
61 TSN, May 9, 1996, pp. 26-32, 37, 44-57. 76 Exhibit 347 and submarkings.
62 TSN, July 29, 1997, pp. 54-58. 224
63 TSN, July 7, 1997, pp. 19-35. 224 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
64 TSN, July 2, 1997, pp 33-37.
65 TSN, June 3, 1997, pp. 14-33. Lejano vs. People
223 8) Public Records of California Department of Motor Vehicle on sale to
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 223 Webb of Toyota MR2 car;77Traffic citations issued to Webb;78 Import
Lejano vs. People documents of said car into the Philippines;79
Anaheim, U.S.A., where he and his wife went to look for a job for their son
Hubert. They also talked about bills to be drafted as his law office had been 9) Certification issued by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service
engaged by Congressman Webb for bill drafting services as well as preparation and correspondence between US and Philippine
of his speeches and statements. When asked if he had personal knowledge that Government; computer-generated print-out of the US-INS indicating
80

Congressman Webb was really in the US at that time, he replied that since date of Webbs entry in USA as March 9, 1991 and his date of departure
Webb had told him he was leaving for the US, he just presumed it was so when as October 26, 1992;81 US-INS Certification dated August 31, 1995
Webb said he was then at Anaheim. Neither did he have personal knowledge authenticated by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, correcting
that Hubert Webb was in the US at the time of his conversation with the earlier August 10, 1995 Certification;82
Congressman Webb.66 10) Certification issued by Agnes Tabuena;83Passenger Manifest of PAL
Webb submitted the following documentary evidence in connection with his Flight No. 103;84 PAL ticket issued to Webb,85 Arrival in Manila
sojourn in the US: Certification issued by the Philippine Immigration,86 Diplomatic Note of
1) Video Tape recording of Disneyland trip on July 3, 1991;67 the US Department of State with enclosed letter from Acting Director
Debora A. Farmer of the Records Operations, Office of Records of the personally took video footages of Mon Tulfos interviews with some persons in
US-INS stating that the Certification dated August 31, 1995 is a true and America (including Honesto Aragon and the bicycle shop owner) who attested
accurate statement;87 and Certificate of Authentication of Philippine that Hubert Webb was there at the time of the Vizconde killings, but which
Consul Herrera-Lim.88 segment was edited out in the program he produced (Action 9);90 Mark Anthony
_______________ So, a former NBI intelligence agent who was tasked to confirm photos of Hubert
Webb (his classmate at DLSU St. Benilde) to familiarize Alfaro with his facial
77 Exhibit 338
78 Exhibits 341 and 342, Records, Vol. 21, pp. 6-9, 40, 63-65, 112, 140, 141-145 (Vol. 3). features;91 Matthew John Almogino, a childhood friend and neighbor of
79 Exhibits 369 and 364, Records, Vol. 21, pp. 24, 104-142 (Vol. 4). Gatchalian, who testified that he was among those who went inside the
80 Exhibits 207 to219. Vizconde house in the morning of June 30, 1991
81 Exhibit 207-B. _______________
82 Exhibit 212-D, Records, Vol. 21, p. 265 (Vol. 1).
83 Exhibit 260. 89 TSN, October 9, 1997, pp. 39-64.
84 Exhibit 261. 90 TSN, February 4, 1998, pp. 6-7, 17-30.
85 Exhibit 262. 91 TSN, February 9, 1998, pp. 18-19, 21-62.
86 Exhibit 192, Records, Vol. 21, pp. 253-279 (Vol. 1), 1-7, 157, 158, 169 (Vol. 2), 194 (Vol. 226
1).
87 Exhibit 215 215-B 215-C, Records, Vol. 21, pp. 254-256, 272-274 (Vol. 1). 226 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
88 Exhibit 216; TSN, April 15-17, 1997. Lejano vs. People
225 and Biong even asked him to take pictures; thereupon at around 9:30 a.m.,
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 225 he saw Gatchalian in front of the Vizconde residence telling him that he just
Lejano vs. People woke up and exchanged pleasantries with him; and that as far as he knows,
Accused Antonio Lejano and Michael Gatchalian likewise raised the Webb, Fernandez, Lejano and Gatchalian are not magbabarkada;92 Atty.
defense of alibi claiming that they spent the night of June 29, 1991 until early Leny Mauricio and Ana Marie Pamintuan of The Philippine Star wherein a
morning of June 30, 1991 watching video tapes at the house of Carlos Syap at news article was published stating that Michael Gatchalian had rejected
Ayala Alabang Village. governments offer for him to turn state witness in the Vizconde case;93 Atty.
Lejano further testified that with the exception of Miguel Ging Rodriguez Camilo Murillo who accompanied Gatchalian on July 19, 1991 when he gave
and Michael Mike Gatchalian who are his former schoolmates, he does not his statement to the NBI, testified that Atty. Pete Rivera relayed to Gatchalian
know any of his co-accused. They left the house of Syap brothers early morning the request of then NBI Director Honesto Aragon for him to turn state witness
of June 30, 1991; it was Cas Syap who brought him and Mike home. On July 5, and which offer was refused by Gatchalian and his father;94 and Atty. Manuel
1991, he and Cas Syap went to the police station where Mike, who was picked Sunga who accompanied Gatchalian to the Department of Justice (DOJ) when
up as a suspect by the police on July 4, was detained. When they met Biong he submitted his counter-affidavit (where there were already media people),
there, they told him they are willing to vouch for Mikes innocence and even testified that they were invited to the conference room where State Prosecutor
volunteered to give statements. Biong told them to return the following day. Zuo in the presence of then Secretary Guingona made the offer for Gatchalian
However, when he returned in the morning of July 6, 1991, Biong wanted his to turn state witness but it was rejected.95
fingerprints taken right away but he told Biong he needed to consult someone Atty. Francisco C. Gatchalian confirmed that the NBI and later the DOJ
first. He eventually submitted himself for fingerprinting after his name came out made offers for his son to turn state witness in this case but they refused for the
in the media. Lejano pointed out that Alfaro failed to identify him even as she reason that his son was innocent of the crime charged. Michael had told him
passed by him three (3) times, and was able to do so only when she was that on the night of June 29, 1991 until early morning of June 30, 1991, Michael
coached by the prosecution camp.89 was with his friends at Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa at the residence of
On the part of Michael Gatchalian, he presented nine (9) witnesses: Atty. the Syaps. Gatchalian narrated that when he woke up to jog in the morning of
Porfirio Perry Pimentel, RPN 9 broadcast executive who testified that he June 30, 1991 around 7:00 to 7:30, he passed by the Vizconde house and saw
people milling in front. At about 8:30 a.m., he saw the crowd getting bigger and definitely not the same Michael Rodriguez whom Alfaro slapped and kicked at
so he instructed Michael who had wakened up, to find out and check what the NBI premises. Michael Rodriguez testified that he was blindfolded and
happened to their neighbor. Michael rushed out towards the Vizconde residence brought to the comfort room by NBI agents and forced to admit that he was
and when he came back about 10:00 oclock that same morning, he reported Miguel Rod-
that the house was robbed and people were killed inside the house. Both of _______________
them stayed
_______________ 96 TSN, February 3, 1998, pp. 10-11, 29-42.
97 TSN, January 14, 1998, pp. 6-7, 9-26, 38-41, 43-47.
228
92 TSN, January 21, 1998, pp. 14, 39-56.
93 TSN, February 16, 1998 and February 19, 1998. 228 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
94 TSN, January 22, 1998, pp. 18-21, 40-44. Lejano vs. People
95 TSN, January 26, 1998, pp. 91-92, 104-121.
227
riguez; he identified Alfaro and Atty. Figueras from a collage of photographs
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 227 shown to him in court.98
Accused Gerardo Biong testified that the last time he handled this case
Lejano vs. People
was when General Filart announced the case as solved with the presentation
in their house that day. He denied Alfaros claim that she was their distant of suspects sometime in October 1991. However, he was subpoenaed by the
relative.96 NBI for the taking of his statement because Lauro Vizconde complained that he
Accused Miguel Rodriguez maintained he was at home when the killings had stolen jewelries at the Vizconde house. He had sought the examination of
took place. He presented as witness his first cousin Mark Josef Andres Rualo latent fingerprints lifted from the crime scene but the suspects turned out
who testified that at around 1:00 in the morning of June 30, 1991, he called up negative when tested. He denied the accusation regarding the destruction of
Rodriguez asking why he has not yet proceeded to the birthday party of Rualo evidence as well as missing items during his investigation at the Vizconde
at their house. Rodriguez replied that he could not make it because he was not residence. The bloodied bed, mats, pillows and bed sheets were burned by
fetched by his brother Art (who was the one with a car). So he handed the people at the funeral parlor as ordered by Mr. Gatmaitan. Among the suspects
telephone to Art (who had arrived at the party around 9:30 to 10:00 p.m.) for he had then were Michael Gatchalian, Tony Boy Lejano and Cas Syap. As to
them to talk. From Rodriguezs residence at Pilar Village, it will take about fifteen the testimony of Birrer that they played mahjong on the night of June 29, 1991,
(15) to twenty (20) minutes by car. It was a big party attended by some eighty he said it was not true because the place was closed on Saturdays and
(80) guests and which ended by 3:30 to 4:00 a.m. But it was only the first time Sundays. After a surveillance on Birrer, he discovered she had in her
he had invited Rodriguez to his birthday party. He knows Lejano, Rodriguezs possession Carmelas drivers license and was driving a car already. He denied
close friend and classmate, because Rodriguez used to bring him along when Birrers account that he went to a place after receiving a telephone call at 2:30
Rodriguez comes to his house.97 in the morning of June 30, 1991. As to Alfaro, he met her for the first time at the
The other witnesses presented by Rodriguez, Col. Charles Calima, Jr. and NBI on June 23, 1995. His brown jacket was given to him long ago by a couple
Michael Rodriguez, testified on the alleged incident of mistaken identity whose dispute he was able to settle. He only met Webb and Estrada at the NBI.
wherein Alfaro supposedly pointed to one (1) Michael Rodriguez, a drug Biong denied the accusations of Birrer, saying that she was angry at him
dependent who was pulled out by Col. Calima from the Bicutan Rehabilitation because they separated and he had hit her after he heard about her infidelity.
Center on the basis of the description given by NBI agents. They testified that Neither has he seen Alfaro before the filing of this case. He was administratively
when Alfaro confronted this Michael Rodriguez, she became very emotional charged before the Philippine National Police (PNP) for Grave Misconduct due
and immediately slapped and kicked him telling him, How can I forget your face. to non-preservation of evidence. He was offered by the NBI to turn state witness
We just saw each other in a disco one month ago and you told me then that you but he declined as he found it difficult to involve his co-accused whom he does
will kill me. Contrary to the physical description given by the NBI, the accused not really know.99
Miguel Rodriguez he saw inside the court room had no tattoo on his arm and _______________
98 TSN, August 6, 1996, pp. 13-41; TSN, May 22, 1997, pp. 72, 81-131, 142-157; Exhibits 274 230 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
and 275.
99 TSN, November 12, 1997, pp. 7-8, 17-19, 38-43, 55-72. Lejano vs. People
229 Biong further admitted that he was so angry with the Vizconde housemaids
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 229 as he did not believe they did not hear anything despite the loud sound of the
Lejano vs. People breaking of the main door glass. He also admitted mauling Normal E. White, Jr.
Biong admitted that Birrer went along with him, Galvan and Capt. Bartolome because he thought he was withholding information during the investigation.
to the Vizconde residence in the morning of June 30, 1991. Upon arriving at the Edgar Mendez did not tell him about the entry of a three (3)-vehicle convoy into
Vizconde house, he looked for the victims relatives and the homeowners the subdivision on the night of June 29, 1991. As for Michael Gatchalian, he
association president; Atty. Lopez and Mrs. Mia came. In going inside the knows him because on July 3, 1991 at 4:30 a.m., they caught him at Vinzons
house, they passed through the kitchen door which was open already. On top St. at the entrance of Pitong Daan Subdivision for possession of marijuana.
of the kitchen table, there was a ladys bag with things scattered; he later However, he does not know any more what happened to that case he filed
inspected them but did not think of examining the bag or taking note of the against Gatchalian as he was already dismissed from the service.102 He also
calling cards and other items for possible relevance to the investigation. Upon admitted having mauled Gatchalian while interrogating him for his participation
entering the masters bedroom, he saw the bloodied bodies. Mrs. Vizcondes in the Vizconde killings.103
hands were hogtied from behind and her mouth gagged while Jennifers body
was also bloodied. Carmela who was lying on a floor carpet was likewise Ruling of the Trial Court
gagged, her hands hogtied from behind and her legs spread out, her clothes
raised up and a pillow case was placed on top of her private part. He had the On January 4, 2000, the trial court rendered its Decision104 finding all the
bodies photographed and prepared a spot report.100 accused guilty as charged, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Biong also admitted that before the pictures were taken, he removed with WHEREFORE, this Court hereby finds all the principal accused GUILTY
his bare hands the object, which was like a stocking cloth, that was wrapped BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF RAPE WITH HOMICIDE
around Carmelas mouth and neck. As to the main door glass, it was the upper AND HEREBY SENTENCES EACH ONE OF THEM TO SUFFER THE
part which he broke. There was a red jewelry box they saw where a pearl PENALTY OF RECLUSION PERPETUA. This Court likewise finds the accused
necklace inside could be seen; he remembered he had it photographed but he Gerardo Biong GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AS AN
had not seen those pictures. They left the Vizconde house and brought the ACCESSORY AFTER THE FACT, AND HEREBY SENTENCES HIM TO
cadavers to the funeral parlor. He did not take steps to preserve the bloodied SUFFER AN IMPRISONMENT OF ELEVEN (11) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS
carpet, bed sheets and blankets because they have been previously told by NBI AND ONE (1) DAY TO TWELVE (12) YEARS. In addition, the Court hereby
that no evidence can be found on such items. As for the footprint and shoe print orders all the accused to jointly and severally pay the victims surviving heir, Mr.
found on the hood of the car and at the back of the house, he also could not Lauro Vizconde, the following sums by way of civil indemnity:
recall if he had those photographed. It was only the following day that he brought 1. The amount of P150,000.00 for wrongful death of the victims;
an employee of the Paraaque police to lift fingerprints from the crime scene; 2. The amount of P762,450.00 representing actual damages sustained by
he was the one (1) giving instructions at the time. However, no latent fingerprints Mr. Lauro Vizconde;
_______________
had been taken; despite attempts, no clear fingerprint had been lifted and he
did not any more ask why.101 102 TSN, November 12, 1997, pp. 37-39, 51-52, 91-94.
_______________ 103 TSN, November 18, 1997, pp. 37-44.
104 Records, Vol. 25, pp. 1-171. Penned by Judge Amelita G. Tolentino (now an Associate
100 TSN, November 17, 1997, pp. 43-73. Justice of the Court of Appeals).
101 Id., at pp. 78-125. 231
230 VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 231
Lejano vs. People By Decision of December 15, 2005, the CA affirmed with modification the
3. The amount of P2,000,000.00 as moral damages sustained by Mr. trial courts decision:
Lauro Vizconde; WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial
4. The amount of P97,404.55 as attorneys fees; Court, Branch 274 of Paraaque City in Criminal Case No. 95-404, finding
Let an alias warrant of arrest be issued against the accused Artemio Dong accused-appellants Hubert Jeffrey Webb y Pagaspas, Antonio Tony Boy
Ventura and Joey Filart for their eventual apprehension so that they can Lejano, Michael Gatchalian y Adviento, Hospicio Pyke Fernandez, Peter
immediately be brought to trial. Estrada, Miguel Ging Rodriguez GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
SO ORDERED.105 as principals, and Gerardo Biong as accessory, of the crime of RAPE with
The trial court found Alfaro as a credible and truthful witness, considering HOMICIDE, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION, as indicated:
the vast details she disclosed relative to the incident she had witnessed inside 1). We AFFIRM the sentence of accused-appellants Webb, Lejano,
the Vizconde house. The trial court noted that Alfaro testified in a categorical, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, and Rodriguez to suffer the penalty
straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner, and has remained consistent of reclusion perpetua and its corresponding accessory penalties under
in her narration of the events despite a lengthy and grueling cross-examination Article 41 of the Revised Penal Code;
conducted on her by eight (8) defense lawyers. Neither was her credibility and 2). We MODIFY the penalty of Gerardo Biong who is an accessory to the
veracity of her declarations in court affected by the differences and crime. Accused-appellant Biong is sentenced to an indeterminate prison
inconsistencies between her April 28, 1995 and May 22, 1995 affidavits, which term of six (6) years of prision correccional, as minimum, to twelve (12)
she had satisfactorily explained during the trial considering the circumstances years of prision mayor, as maximum, and absolute perpetual
that she initially desired to protect her former boyfriend Estrada and her relative disqualification under Article 58 of the Revised Penal Code; and
Gatchalian, the absence of a lawyer during the first taking of her statements by 3). We MODIFY the civil indemnity. Accused-appellants Webb. Lejano,
the NBI, her distrust of the first investigators who took her statements and Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada and Rodriguez are ORDERED to pay
prepared her April 28, 1995 affidavit, and her uncertainty if she could obtain jointly and severally the surviving heir of the victims, Mr. Lauro Vizconde.
adequate support and security for her own life were she to disclose everything the amounts of P200,000.00 as civil indemnity, P762,450.00 as actual
she knows about the Vizconde killings. damages, P2,000,000.00 as moral damages and P97,404.55 as
On the other hand, the trial court ruled that principal accused Webb, Lejano, attorneys fees, with the corresponding subsidiary liability against
Rodriguez and Gatchalian failed to establish their defense of alibi, the accused accused-appellant Biong pursuant to Article 110, paragraph 2 of the
having been positively identified by Alfaro as the group who conspired and Revised Penal Code.
assisted one (1) another in plotting and carrying out on the same night the rape SO ORDERED.106
of Carmela, on the occasion of which Carmelas mother and sister were also The CA upheld the trial court in giving full weight and credence to the
stabbed to death. The trial court held that Alfaro gave a clear, positive and eyewitness testimony of Alfaro which was duly corroborated by other
convincing testimony which was sufficiently corroborated on its material points prosecution witnesses who had not been shown to have ill-motive and malicious
by the testimonies of other witnesses and confirmed by the physical evidence intent in revealing what they know about the Vizconde killings. It disagreed with
on record. the appellants view that they
_______________ _______________

105 Records, Vol. 25, pp. 170-171. 106 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, pp. 3478-3479.
232 233
232 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 233
Lejano vs. People Lejano vs. People
The Court of Appeals Ruling
were victims of an unjust judgment upon their mere allegations that they were Appellants Webb and Lejano set forth the following arguments in their
tried by publicity, and that the trial judge was biased whose discriminatory and Supplemental Appeal Brief as grounds for the reversal of the CA Decision and
hostile attitude was demonstrated by her rejection of 132 out of 142 exhibits of their acquittal in this case:
the defense during the bail hearings and her refusal to issue subpoenas to I
prospective defense witnesses such as former Secretary Teofisto Guingona THE EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING APPELLANT WEBBS ABSENCE FROM
and Antonio Calvento. PHILIPPINE TERRITORY BETWEEN 9 MARCH 1991 AND 27 OCTOBER
The CA also fully concurred with the trial courts conclusion that all the 1992 ENGENDERS A REASONABLE DOUBT AND PRECLUDES AN
principal accused failed to establish their defense of alibi after carefully ABIDING CONVICTION, TO A MORAL CERTAINTY, OF HIS GUILT OF THE
evaluating the voluminous documentary and testimonial evidence presented by CRIME CHARGED. THUS, AS CORRECTLY APPRECIATED BY JUSTICES
the defense. On the issue of conspiracy, the CA found that the prosecution was TAGLE AND DACUDAO IN THEIR SEPARATE DISSENTING OPINIONS
able to clearly and convincingly establish its presence in the commission of the A. THE PASSPORT OF APPELLANT WEBB, AS THE OFFICIAL TRAVEL
crime, notwithstanding that appellants Rodriguez, Gatchalian, Estrada and DOCUMENT ISSUED BY THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT TO HIM, IS
Fernandez did not actually rape Carmela, nor participated in killing her, her STAMPMARKED AND INITIALED WITH THE DEPARTURE DATE OF
mother and sister. 9 MARCH 1991 AND ARRIVAL DATE OF 27 OCTOBER 1992,
On motion for reconsideration filed by the appellants, the CAs Special SHOWING THAT HE WAS NOT IN THE PHILIPPINES BUT ABROAD
Division of Five, voting 3-2, affirmed the December 15, 2005 Decision.107 In the AT THE TIME OF THE COMMISSION OF THE CRIME ON 29 JUNE
Resolution dated January 26, 2007, the majority reiterated that it has fully 1991.
explained in its Decision why the US-INS Certifications submitted by appellant B. THE CERTIFICATIONS AND COMPUTER PRINTOUT ISSUED BY
Webb deserve little weight. It stressed that it is a case of positive identification THE UNITED STATES INS NON-IMMIGRANT INFORMATION
versus alibi founded on documentary evidence. On the basis of the rule SYSTEM, WHICH INDICATE EXACTLY THE SAME DEPARTURE AND
that alibi is accepted only upon the clearest proof that the accused was not and ARRIVAL DATES OF 9 MARCH 1991 AND 27 OCTOBER 1992,
could not have been at the crime scene when it was committed, the CA in CONFIRM THAT IT WAS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR
resolving the appeal considered the weight of documentary evidence in light of APPELLANT WEBB TO HAVE COMMITTED THE CRIME.
testimonial evidencean eyewitness account that the accused was the C. THE RULING THAT APPELLANT WEBB WAS SMUGGLED INTO
principal malefactor. As to the issue of apparent inconsistencies between the AND OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES WITHIN 9 MARCH 1991 AND 27
two (2) affidavits executed by Alfaro, the CA said this is a settled matter, citing OCTOBER 1992, WITH THE US INS CERTIFICATIONS BEING THE
the Joint Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 42285 and CA-G.R. SP No. 42673 entitled PROBABLE PRODUCT OF MONEY, POWER, INFLUENCE, OR
Rodriguez v. Tolentino andWebb, et al. v. Tolentino, et al., which had long CONNECTIONS IS BASED ON PURE SPECULATION AND BIASED
become final. CONJECTURE AND NOT ON A CONCLUSION THAT ANY COURT OF
_______________ LAW SHOULD MAKE.
D. NO LESS THAN THE HONORABLE JUSTICE ANTONIO T. CARPIO
107 Justices Renato C. Dacudao and Lucenito N. Tagle dissented. See Dissenting Opinion,
CA Rollo Vol. IV. TESTIFIED IN OPEN COURT THAT IN THE MORNING OF 29 JUNE
234 1991, OR BEFORE THE COMMISSION OF THE CRIME, HE HAD AN
234 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED OVERSEAS CONVERSATION WITH SEN. FREDDIE N. WEBB ON
235
Lejano vs. People
Appellants Arguments VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 235
Lejano vs. People
THE LATTERS PRESENCE IN THE UNITED STATES WITH HIS WIFE AND
APPELLANT WEBB.
II THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE
THE DISSENTING JUSTICES CORRECTLY REJECTED JESSICA ALFARO PROSECUTION HAS PROVED THE CONSPIRACY BEYOND REASONABLE
FOR NOT BEING A CREDIBLE WITNESS AND FOR GIVING INCONSISTENT DOUBT AND IN CONVICTING HEREIN ACCUSED-APPELLANT BASED ON
AND UNRELIABLE TESTIMONY. SUCH CONSPIRACY.
III III
THE COURT OF APPEALS MANIFESTLY ERRED IN DISCARDING EACH THE PROCEEDING BELOW WAS ATTENDED BY IRREGULARITIES
AND EVERY PIECE OF THE ACCUSEDS EVIDENCE AND PRACTICALLY SHOWING PARTIALITY ON THE PART OF THE TRIAL JUDGE IN
REDUCING THE APPEAL BELOW INTO AN EXERCISE OF FINDING VIOLATION OF HEREIN ACCUSED-APPELLANTS RIGHT TO DUE
GROUNDS TO DOUBT, SUSPECT AND ACCORDINGLY REJECT THE PROCESS.
PROOF OFFERED BY THEM IN THEIR DEFENSE INSTEAD OF GIVING DUE IV
WEIGHT AND CONSIDERATION TO EACH IN ORDER TO THOROUGHLY THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING HEREIN
SATISFY ITSELF OF THE MORAL CERTAINTY REQUIREMENT IN ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
CRIMINAL CASES. xxxx
IV I
IN LIGHT OF THE BASIC TENETS UNDERLYING OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE BY ALL STANDARDS OF FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE, THE TESTIMONY OF
SYSTEM, WHICH ESCHEW A FINDING OF GUILT UNLESS ESTABLISHED JESSICA ALFARO CANNOT BE JUDICIALLY RECOGNIZED.
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AND ORDAIN THE RESOLUTION OF ALL II
DOUBTS IN FAVOR OF THE ACCUSED, THE COURT OF APPEALS THE CRIMINAL CONNECTION OF MICHAEL GATCHALIAN TO THE
MANIFESTLY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE CONVICTION OF APPELLANT GRUESOME VIZCONDE MURDERS HAS NOT EVEN BEEN REMOTELY
WEBB WHEN THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI HE ESTABLISHED BY SHOWN TO SERVE AS A BASIS FOR CONVICTION.
OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE IS SUFFICIENT TO ENGENDER III
REASONABLE DOUBT AS TO HIS GUILT OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED. IN THE REQUIRED JUDICIAL EVALUATION PROCESS, THE
THE SCALES OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN TILTED IN HIS, AND NOT THE ENVIRONMENTAL CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE RECORD OF THIS CASE
PROSECUTIONS, FAVOR.108 POINT UNERRINGLY TO THE INNOCENCE OF MICHAEL GATCHALIAN.
Appellant Gatchalian reiterates the arguments he had raised in his appeal IV
brief and motion for reconsideration filed before the CA, as follows: THE RULES ON EVIDENCE ON BURDEN OF PROOF AND OF THE
I STANDING PRESUMPTIONS IN LAW HAVE BEEN GROSSLY
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE VIOLATED.237
INCREDIBLE TESTIMONY OF SUPPOSED EYEWITNESS JESSICA AL- VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 237
_______________
Lejano vs. People
108 Rollo (G.R. No. 176864), pp. 266-267. V
236 MICHAEL GATCHALIAN RESPECTFULLY INVOKES HIS CONSTITUTIONAL
236 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS ON THE GROUNDS OF BIAS AND PREJUDICE,
Lejano vs. People AND FOR ALL THAT IT IS WORTH, HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO A
FARO AND CORROBORATING WITNESSES NORMAL WHITE AND JUSTO SPEEDY TRIAL AND A SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF HIS CASE.109
CABANACAN. Additionally, Gatchalian assails the denial by the trial court of his motion
II (and also appellant Webbs) for DNA testing despite a certification from the NBI
that the specimen semen remained intact, which Justice Tagle in his dissenting
opinion also found as unjust. He further argues that the right to a speedy trial is misapprehensions of facts and speculative, arbitrary and unsupported
violated even if the delay was not caused by the prosecution but by events that conclusions can be gathered from such findings.112 When the trial courts
are not within the control of the prosecution or the courts. Thus, the length of findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings are generally
time which took Alfaro to come forward and testify in this case is most conclusive and binding upon this Court.113
conspicuous. Her delay of four (4) years in reporting the crime has to be taken Reexamining the testimony of Alfaro, who underwent exhaustive and
against her, particularly with the story behind it. She volunteered to come intense cross-examination by eight (8) defense lawyers, it is to be noted that
forward only after the arrests of previous accused did not lead anywhere. she revealed such details and observations which only a person who was
Moreover, it is clear that she adopted the version previously advanced by an actually with the perpetrators could have known. More importantly, her
akyat-bahay gang, as noted by Justice Dacudao in his dissenting opinion. testimony was corroborated on its material points by the declarations of other
Gatchalian thus contends that the delay occurred even before a preliminary prosecution witnesses, to wit: [1] that their convoy of three (3) vehicles
investigation was conducted and cites cases upholding the right of accused repeatedly entered the Pitong Daan Subdivision on the night of June 29, 1991
persons to a speedy trial where there was delay in the preliminary was confirmed by the security guard on duty, Normal White, Jr., who also
investigation.110 testified that he had seen Gatchalian and his group standing at the vicinity of
the Almogino residence located near the end of Vinzons St., which is consistent
Totality of Evidence Established the with Alfaros testimony that on their first trip to the subdivision she parked her
Guilt of Appelants Beyond Reasonable Doubt car infront of the Vizconde house while appellants parked their respective cars
near the dead end of Vinzons St.;
Appellants assail the lower courts in giving full faith and credence to the _______________
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, particularly Jessica Alfaro despite
inconsistencies and contradictions in her two (2) affidavits, and the alleged 111 People v. Comanda, G.R. No. 175880, July 6, 2007, 526 SCRA 689.
112 People v. Pringas, G.R. No. 175928, August 31, 2007, 531 SCRA 828.
piece by piece discarding of their voluminous documentary exhibits and 113 People v. De Guzman, G.R. No. 173197, April 24, 2007, 522 SCRA 207.
testimonies of no less than ninety-five (95) 239
_______________ VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 239
109 Id., at pp. 356-358. Lejano vs. People
110 Id., at pp. 402-404. [2] that Ventura climbed on the hood of the Nissan Sentra car and loosened the
238 light bulb to turn it off was confirmed by the testimony of Birrer and appellant
238 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Biong that they found a shoe print on the hood of the car parked inside the
Lejano vs. People garage of the Vizconde house; even defense witnesses Dennis Almogino
witnesses. They contend that the totality of evidence engenders a (neighbor of the Vizcondes) and SPO2 Reynaldo Carbonnel declared that the
reasonable doubt entitling them to acquittal from the grave charge of rape with garage was totally without light; [3] that a ladys bag was on top of the dining
homicide. table in the kitchen was likewise confirmed by Birrer and Biong; [4] that a loud
After a thorough and conscientious review of the records, I firmly believe static sound coming from the TV set inside the masters bedroom which led
that the CA correctly upheld the conviction of appellants. Alfaro to the said room, matched with the observations of the Vizconde
Credibility of Prosecution Witnesses housemaids, Birrer and Biong that when they went inside the Vizconde house
The determination of the competence and credibility of a witness rests in the morning of June 30, 1991, the TV set inside the masters bedroom was
primarily with the trial court, because it has the unique position of observing the still turned on with a loud sound; [5] the positioning of the dead bodies of
witness deportment on the stand while testifying.111 It is a fundamental rule that Carmela, Estrellita and Jennifer and their physical appearance or condition
findings of the trial courts which are factual in nature and which involve (hogtied, gagged and bloodied) was correctly described by Alfaro, consistent
credibility are accorded respect when no glaring errors, gross with the declarations of White, Jr., Birrer and Biong who were among those who
first saw the bodies in the morning of June 30, 1991; [6] that Carmela was raped Alfaros ability to recollect events that occurred four (4) years ago with her
by Webb and how the three (3) women were killed as Alfaro learned from the mental condition that night of June 29, 1991 when she admittedly
conversation of the appellants at the BF Executive Village house, was took shabu three (3) times and even sniffed cocaine, was likewise questioned
consistent with the findings of Dr. Cabanayan who conducted the autopsy and by the appellants. When the question was posed to Alfaro on cross-
post-mortem examination of the cadavers in the morning of June 30, 1991 examination, she positively stated that while indeed she had taken shabu at that
showing that the victims died of multiple stab wounds, the specimen taken from time, her perception of persons and events around her was not diminished. Her
Carmelas vaginal canal tested positive for spermatozoa and the approximate faculties unimpaired by the drugs she had taken that night, Alfaro was able to
time of death based on the onset of rigor mortis, which would place it between vividly recall what transpired the whole time she was with appellants. Alfaro
midnight and 2:00 oclock in the morning of June 30, 1991; [7] that Webb, just testified that even if she was then a regular shabu user, she had not reached
before going out of the gate of the Vizconde house, threw a stone which broke that point of being paranoid (praning). It was the first time Alfaro sniffed
the glass frame of the main door, jibed with the testimony of Birrer who likewise cocaine and she described its initial effect as being
saw a stone near the broken glass panel at the living room of the Vizconde _______________
house, and Biong himself testified that he even demonstrated to Capt.
115 People v. Comiling, G.R. No. 140405, March 4, 1004, 424 SCRA 698, 719, citing
Bartolome and the housemaids the loud sound by again hitting the glass of the Francisco, Evidence, Vol. VII, 1990 ed., p. 743.
main door;114and [8] that after Webb made a call on his cellular phone, 241
_______________ VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 241
114 See photographs, Exhibits GGGG-1 and GGGG-4, Records, Vol. 12, pp. 742-746. Lejano vs. People
240 stoned, but lasting only five (5) to seven (7) minutes. However, she did not fall
240 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED asleep since shabu and coke are not downers.
Lejano vs. People Alfaro further explained her indifference and apathy in not dissuading Webb
Biong arrived at around 2:00 oclock in the morning of June 30, 1991 at the BF and her group from carrying out their evil plan against Carmela as due to the
Executive Village house where she and appellants retreated, was consistent numbing effect of drugs, which also enabled her to dislodge from her mind the
with the testimony of Birrer that Biong left the mahjong session to answer a harrowing images of the killings for quite sometime. Eventually, the chance to
telephone call between 1:00 to 2:00 oclock in the morning of June 30, 1991 and redeem herself came when she was invited to a Christian fellowship, and with
thereafter Birrer asked where he was going, to which Biong replied BF and her childs future in mind, her desire to transform her life grew stronger. As she
shortly thereafter a taxicab with a man at the backseat fetched Biong. cast off her addiction to drugs, its desensitizing effect began to wear off and her
Indeed, Alfaro could not have divulged the foregoing details of the crime if conscience bothered her no end. Under such circumstances, the delay of four
she did not really join the group of Webb in going to the Vizconde residence and (4) years in admitting her involvement in the Vizconde killings cannot be taken
witness what happened during the time Webb, Lejano and Ventura were inside against Alfaro. In fact, she had to muster enough courage to finally come out in
the house and when the group retreated to BF Executive Village. Contrary to the open considering that during her last encounter with appellants at a
appellants contention, Alfaros detailed testimony appears clear and discotheque in 1995, she was threatened by appellant Rodriguez that if she will
convincing, thus giving the Court the impression that she was sincere and not keep her mouth shut, she will be killed. He even offered her a plane ticket
credible. She even opened her personal life to public scrutiny by admitting that for her to go abroad. Coming from wealthy and influential families, and capable
she was addicted to shabu for sometime and that was how she came to meet of barbaric acts she had already seen, appellants instilled such fear in Alfaro
Webbs group and got entangled in the plot to gang-rape Carmela. Her being a that her reluctance to report to the authorities was perfectly understandable.
former drug user in no way taints her credibility as a witness. The fact that a I find that the circumstances of habitual drug use and delay in reporting a
witness is a person of unchaste character or even a drug dependent does crime did not affect the competence and credibility of prosecution witness
not per se affect her credibility.115 Alfaro. It bears stressing that the fact of delay alone does not work against the
witnesses. Delay or vacillation in making a criminal accusation does not and at the house of agent Mario Garcia where she was brought by Atty.
necessarily impair the credibility of the witness if such delay is satisfactorily Sacaguing and Moises Tamayo, another
explained.116 _______________
Besides, appellants failed to adduce any evidence to establish any improper
117 People v. Zinampan, G.R. No. 126781, September 13, 2000, 340 SCRA 189, 200.
motive that may have impelled Alfaro to falsely testify against them, other than 118 Fukuzume v. People, G.R. No. 143647, November 11, 2005, 474 SCRA 570.
their allegation that she regularly associated with NBI agents as one (1) of their 119 G.R. No. 121039-45, January 25, 1999, 302 SCRA 21.
informants. The absence of evidence of improper motive on the part of the said 120 Id., at p. 50.
witness for the prosecution strongly tends to sustain the conclusion that no such 243
_______________ VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 243
Lejano vs. People
116 People v. Simon, G.R. No. 130531, May 27, 2004, 429 SCRA 330, 352, citing People v.
Rostata, G.R. No. 91482, February 9, 1993, 218 SCRA 657.
agent of task force Anti-Kidnapping, Hijack and Robbery (AKHAR). The
242 unusual questioning of these men gave her the impression that she was merely
242 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED being used to boost their career promotion and her distrust was even
Lejano vs. People heightened when they absolutely failed to provide her security. She was aghast
improper motive exists and that her testimony is worthy of full faith and upon discovering the completed affidavit which falsely stated that it was made
credit.117 Neither had appellants established any ill-motive on the part of the in the presence of her lawyer of choice (Atty. Mercader who was not actually
other prosecution witnesses. present). Agent Tamayo also incorporated inaccurate or erroneous information
Inconsistencies and Discrepancies in Alfaros April 28, 1995 and May 22, indicating that she was a college graduate even if she tried to correct him.
1995 Affidavits Tamayo simply told her to just let it remain in the statement as it would not be
Appellants, from the start of preliminary investigation, have repeatedly noticed anyway.121 Moreover, on account of her urgent concern for her own
harped on the discrepancies and inconsistencies in Alfaros first and second security and fear of implicating herself in the case, Alfaro admitted down playing
affidavits. However, this Court has repeatedly ruled that whenever there is her own participation in her narration (including the circumstance that she had
inconsistency between the affidavit and the testimony of a witness in court, the previously met Carmela before the incident) and those of her ex-boyfriend
testimony commands greater weight.118 With greater relevance should this rule Estrada and her relative, Gatchalian.
apply in situations when a subsequent affidavit of the prosecution witness is
Prosecution Evidence Sufficient to Convict Appel-
intended to amplify and correct inconsistencies with the first affidavit, the
lants
discrepancies having been adequately explained. We held in People v.
Sanchez119 This Court has consistently held that the rule on the trial courts appreciation
...we advert to that all-too familiar rule that discrepancies between sworn
of evidence must bow to the superior rule that the prosecution must prove the
statements and testimonies made at the witness stand do not necessarily discredit the
witnesses. Sworn statements/affidavits are generally subordinated in importance to
guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The law presumes an accused
open court declarations because the former are often executed when an affiants innocent, and this presumption must prevail unless overturned by competent
mental faculties are not in such a state as to afford him a fair opportunity of narrating and credible proof.122Thus, we are tasked to consider two crucial points in
in full the incident which has transpired. Testimonies given during trials are much more sustaining a judgment of conviction: first, the identification of the accused as
exact and elaborate. Thus, testimonial evidence carries more weight than sworn perpetrator of the crime, taking into account the credibility of the prosecution
statements/affidavits.120 witness who made the identification as well as the prosecutions compliance
Alfaro explained the circumstances surrounding her execution of the first with legal and constitutional standards; and second, all the
Affidavit dated April 28, 1995 which was done without the presence of a lawyer _______________
121 TSN, October 17, 1995, pp.12-15, 23, 40-41, 139, 152, 161; TSN, October 18, 1995, p. 180; 245
TSN, July 2, 1996, pp. 74, 82-86; TSN, July 11, 1996, pp. 43-52. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 245
122 People v. Pineda, G.R. No. 141644, May 27, 2004, 429 SCRA 478, 495, citing People v.
Quima, No. L-74669, 14 April 1988, 159 SCRA 613 citing People v. Alto, 135 Phil. 136; 26 SCRA Lejano vs. People
342 (1968). declarations were likewise detailed by Alfaro who was shown to be a
244 credible witness. It is axiomatic that a witness who testifies in a categorical,
244 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner and remains consistent on
Lejano vs. People cross-examination is a credible witness.125
elements constituting the crime were duly proven by the prosecution to be A criminal case rises or falls on the strength of the prosecutions case, not
present.123 on the weakness of the defense. Once the prosecution overcomes the
There appears to be no question about the fact that a horrible and most presumption of innocence by proving the elements of the crime and the identity
unfortunate crime has been committed. It is, in this case, indeed a given fact, of the accused as perpetrator beyond reasonable doubt, the burden of
but next to it is the pivotal issue of whether or not the prosecution has been able evidence then shifts to the defense which shall then test the strength of the
to discharge its equal burden in substantiating the identities of accused- prosecutions case either by showing that no crime was in fact committed or that
appellants as the perpetrators of the crime. As well said often, conviction must the accused could not have committed or did not commit the imputed crime, or
rest on the strength of the prosecutions case and not on the weakness of the at the very least, by casting doubt on the guilt of the accused.126
defense.
Positive Identification of Accused-Appellants Appellants Alibi and Denial
Eyewitness identification constitutes vital evidence and, in most cases,
decisive of the success or failure of the prosecution.124 Both the RTC and CA We have held in a number of cases that alibi is an inherently weak and
found the eyewitness testimony of Alfaro credible and competent proof that unreliable defense, for it is easy to fabricate and difficult to disprove.127 To
appellants Webb, Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Rodriguez and Estrada were establish alibi, the accused must prove (a) that he was present at another place
at the scene of the crime and that Webb raped Carmela as the bloodied bodies at the time of the perpetration of the crime, and (b) that it was physically
of her mother and sister lay on top of the bed inside the masters bedroom, and impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime. Physical impossibility refers
right beside it stood Lejano while Ventura was preparing for their escape. At to the distance between the place where the accused was when the crime
another house in BF Executive Village where the group retreated after leaving transpired and the place where it was committed, as well as the facility of access
the Vizconde house, Alfaro witnessed the blaming session, particularly between between the two places.128 Due to its doubtful nature, alibi must be supported
Ventura and Webb, and thereupon learned from their conversation that by clear and convincing proof.129
_______________
Carmelas mother and sister were stabbed to death before she herself was
killed. Alfaro likewise positively identified appellant Biong, whom somebody 125 People v. Magallanes, G.R. No. 136299, August 29, 2003, 410 SCRA 183, 197.
from the group described as the driver and bodyguard of the Webb family, as 126 People v. Rodrigo, supra at p. 596.
the person ordered by Webb to clean the Vizconde house. 127 People v. Mosquerra, G.R. No. 129209, August 9, 2001, 362 SCRA 441, 450, citing People
The testimony of Alfaro on its material points was corroborated by Birrer, Dr. v. Batidor, G.R. No. 126027, February 18, 1999, 303 SCRA 335, 350; People v. Realin, G.R. No.
126051, January 21, 1999, 301 SCRA 495, 512; People v. Tulop, G.R. No. 124829, November 21,
Cabanayan, White, Jr., Cabanacan and Gaviola. Appellants presence at the 1998, 289 SCRA 316, 333.
scene of the crime before, during and after its commission was duly established. 128 Id., at p. 450, citing People v. Saban, G.R. No. 110559, November 24, 1999, 319 SCRA 36,
Their respective participation, acts and 46; People v. Reduca, G.R. Nos. 126094-95, January 21,
_______________ 246
246 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
123 People v. Rodrigo, G.R. No. 176159, September 11, 2008, 564 SCRA 584, 597. Lejano vs. People
124 People v. Meneses, G.R. No. 11742, March 26, 1998, 288 SCRA 95, 97, citing People v.
Teehankee, Jr., 319 Phil. 128, 179; 249 SCRA 54, 94 (1995).
Alibi, the plea of having been elsewhere than at the scene of the crime at the time denying the motion for reconsideration of accused Larraaga, we held that
of the commission of the felony, is a plausible excuse for the accused. Let there be no accused Larraaga failed to establish his defense of alibi, which is futile in the
mistake about it. Contrary to the common notion, alibi is in fact a good defense. But, to face of positive identification:
be valid for purposes of exoneration from a criminal charge, the defense of alibi must This case presents to us a balance scale whereby perched on one end is
be such that it would have been physically impossible for the person charged appellants alibi supported by witnesses who were either their relatives, friends or
with the crime to be at the locus criminis at the time of its commission, the reason classmates, while on the other end is the positive identification of the herein appellants
being that no person can be in two places at the same time. The excuse must be by the prosecution witnesses who were not, in any way, related to the victims. With the
so airtight that it would admit of no exception. Where there is the least possibility above jurisprudence as guide, we are certain that the balance must tilt in favor of the
of accuseds presence at the crime scene, the alibi will not hold latter.
water.130[emphasis supplied.] Besides, a thorough examination of the evidence for the prosecution shows that
The claim of appellant Webb that he could not have committed the crime the appellants failed to meet the requirements of alibi, i.e., the requirements of time
because he left for the United States on March 9, 1991 and returned to the and place. They failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that it was
Philippines only on October 26, 1992 was correctly rejected by the RTC and physically impossible for them to be at the Ayala Center, Cebu City when the Chiong
CA. These dates are so distant from the time of the commission of the crime, sisters were abducted. What is clear from the evidence is that Rowen, Josman, Ariel,
June 29, 1991 and June 30, 1991, and it would not have been impossible during Alberto, James Anthony and James Andrew were all within the vicinity of Cebu City on
the interregnum for Webb to travel back to the country and again fly to the US July 16, 1997.
several times considering that the travel time on board an airline from the Not even Larraaga who claimed to be in Quezon City satisfied the required proof
of physical impossibility. During the hearing, it was shown that it takes only one (1)
Philippines to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to the Philippines takes
hour to travel by plane from Manila to Cebu and that there are four (4) airline
only about twelve (12) to fourteen (14) hours. Given the financial resources and companies plying the route. One of the defense witnesses admitted that there
political influence of his family, it was not unlikely that Webb could have traveled are several flights from Manila to Cebu each morning, afternoon and
back to the Philippines before June 29-30, 1991 and then departed for the US evening. Indeed, Larraagas presence in Cebu City on July 16, 1997 was proved
again, and returning to the Philippines in October 1992. There clearly exists, to be not only a possibility but a reality. Four (4) witnesses identified Larraaga
therefore, such possibility of Webbs presence at the scene of the crime at the as one of the two men talking to Marijoy and Jacqueline on the night of July 16,
time of its commission, and his excuse cannot be deemed airtight. 1997. Shiela Singson testified that on July 16, 1997, at around 7:20 in the evening, she
_______________ saw Larraaga approach Marijoy and Jacqueline at the West Entry of Ayala Center.
The incident reminded her of Jacquelines prior story that he was Marijoys admirer.
1999, 301 SCRA 516, 534; and People v. De Labajan, G.R. Nos. 129968-69, October 27, 1999, 317 Shiela confirmed that she knows Larraaga since she had seen him on five (5)
SCRA 566, 575.
occasions. Analie Kona-
_______________
129 Id., at p. 451, citing People v. Hillado, G.R. No. 122838, May 24, 1999, 307 SCRA 535, 553
and People v. Balmoria, G.R. Nos. 120620-21, March 20, 1998, 287 SCRA 687, 708.
131 G.R. Nos. 138874-75, February 3, 2004, 421 SCRA 530.
130 People v. Florentino Bracamonte, G.R. No. 95939, June 17, 1996, as cited in People v. 248
Aonuevo, G.R. No. 112989, September 18, 1996, 262 SCRA 22, 36.
247 248 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 247 Lejano vs. People
Lejano vs. People hap also testified that on the same evening of July 16, 1997, at about 8:00 oclock, she
saw Marijoy and Jacqueline talking to two (2) men at the West Entry of Ayala Center.
This Court in People v. Larraaga131 had similarly rejected the defense
She recognized the two (2) men as Larraaga and Josman, having seen them several
of alibi of an accused, involving a shorter travel distance (Quezon City to Cebu) times at Glicos, a game zone, located across her office at the third level of Ayala
and even shorter period of time showing the least possibility of an accuseds Center. Williard Redobles, the security guard then assigned at Ayala Center,
presence at the time of the commission of the crime (a matter of hours) than in corroborated the foregoing testimonies of Shiela and Analie. In addition, Rosendo Rio,
the case at bar (March 9, 1991 to June 29, 1991 which is three months). In a businessman from Cogon, Carcar, declared that he saw Larraaga at Tan-awan at
about 3:30 in the morning of July 17, 1997. The latter was leaning against the hood of another place to commit a crime, and then return to his point of origin. The principal
a white van. And over and above all, Rusia categorically identified Larraaga as one of factor considered by the Supreme Court in denying the defense of alibi in People vs.
the participes criminis.132 [emphasis supplied] Jamero (24 SCRA 206) was the availability to the accused of the means by which
In the light of relevant precedents, I find no reversible error committed by to commit a crime elsewhere and then return to his refuge. x x x133 [emphasis
the RTC in refusing to give credence to appellant Webbs argument that he supplied]
could not have committed the crime of rape with homicide because he was still There is likewise no merit in appellant Webbs contention that the CA
in the US on June 29 and 30, 1991. The RTC thus correctly ruled: misappreciated his voluminous documentary evidence and numerous
Granting for the sake of argument that the claim of departure for the United States witnesses who testified on his stay in the US. The CA, after a meticulous and
of the accused Webb on March 9, 1991 and his arrival in the Philippines on October painstaking reevaluation of Webbs documentary and testimonial evidence,
26, 1992 had been duly established by the defense, it cannot prove that he remained sustained the RTCs conclusion that these pieces of evidence were either
in the United States during the intervening period. During the long span of time inadmissible, incompetent or irrelevant. I quote with approval the CAs findings
between March, 1991 to October, 1992, it was not physically impossible for the which are well-supported by the evidence on record:
accused Webb to have returned to the Philippines, perpetrate the criminal act, (a) U.S. INS Certifications
and travel back to the United States. xxxx
It must be noted that the accused Webb is a scion of a rich, influential, and politically The Court seriously doubts that evidentiary weight could be ascribed to the August
powerful family with the financial capacity to travel back and forth from the Philippines 31, 1995 and October 13, 1995 Certifications of the U.S. INS and computer print-out of
to the United States. He could very well afford the price of a plane ticket to free him the Nonimmigrant Information System (NIIS) which allegedly established Webbs entry
from all sorts of trouble. Since there are numerous airlines plying the route from Manila to and exit from the United States. This is due to the fallibility demonstrated by the US
to the United States, it cannot be said that there was lack of available means to INS with regard to the certifica-
transport. Moreover, the lapse of more than three (3) months from the time the accused _______________
Webb left the Philippines for the United States on March 9, 1991 to June 29 and 30,
1991 when the crime was committed is more than enough time for the accused Webb 133 Records, Vol. 25, pp. 122-124.
to have made several trips from the United States to the Philippines and back. The 250
Court takes judicial notice of the fact that it only requires the short period of 250 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
approximately eighteen (18) hours to reach the Lejano vs. People
_______________ tions which the said office issued regarding the basic information under its direct control
and custody.
132 En Banc Resolution, July 21, 2005, 463 SCRA 654, 662-664.
249 It is to be remembered that as part of his evidence, Webb presented the
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 249 explanation of one Steven P. Bucher, Acting Chief of Records Services Branch of the
U.S. INS, who admitted that the U.S. INS had previously reported on August 10, 1995,
Lejano vs. People erroneously, that it had no record of the arrival and departure of Webb to and from the
Philippines from the United States, with the advent of modern travel. United States. The said office later on admitted that it failed to exhaustively study all
It must likewise be noted that the father of the accused Webb, besides being rich information available to it. We are not convinced with this explanation. It is to be noted
and influential, was at that time in 1991, the Congressman of Paraaque and later that the U.S. INS is an agency well known for its stringent criteria and rigid procedure
became a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines. Thus, the Webb money and in handling documents relating to ones travel into and out of its territory. Such being
connections were at the disposal of the accused Webb, and it is worthy of belief that the case, it would therefore be hard to imagine that the said agency would issue a
the accused Webb could have departed and entered the country without any traces certification that it had no record of a persons entry into and exit from the United States
whatsoever of his having done so. In fact, defense witness Andrea Domingo, former without first conducting an efficient verification of its records.
Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation testified on the practice We do not also believe that a second search could give rise to a different
of human smuggling at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. conclusion, considering that there is no showing that the records searched were
On this point, the Supreme Court has declared in a case that even the lapse of the different from those viewed in the first search. The later certifications issued by the U.S.
short period of one (1) week was sufficient for an accused to go to one place, to go to INS modifying its first certification and which was issued only a few weeks earlier, come
across as a strained effort by Webb at establishing his presence in the United States of any weight, in the absence of clear proof that the same was indeed used by accused-
in order to reinforce his flimsy alibi. appellant Webb to go to the United States.
It is not amiss to note that a reading of the first Certificate of Non-existence of (d) Philippine passport
Record (Exhibit 212-D) subscribed by Debora A. Farmer of the U.S. INS would show The passport of accused-appellant Webb produced in evidence, and the
that the U.S. INS had made a diligent search, and found no record of admission into inscriptions appearing thereon, also offer little support of Webbs alibi. Be it noted
the United States of Webb. The search allegedly included an inquiry into the automated that what appears on record is only the photocopy of the pages of Webbs
and non-automated records systems of the U.S. INS. Be it also noted that the basis of passport. The Court therefore can only rely on the appreciation of the trial court as
the U.S. INS second certification (Exhibit 218) was a printout coming also from regards the authenticity of the passport and the marks appearing thereon, as it is the
automated information systems. trial court that had the exclusive opportunity to view at first hand the original of the
As pointed out by the Office of the Solicitor General in its appeal brief, how it document, and determine for itself whether the same is entitled to any weight in
became possible for the U.S. INS Archives in Washington, which is supposed to evidence.
merely download and copy the information given by the San Francisco INS, to (e) Video footage of accused-appellant Webbs parents in
have an entry on accused-appellant Webb when the said port of entry had no Disneyland and Yosemite Park.252
such record was never sufficiently addressed by the defense. 252 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
It is with this view that the Court recognizes little if not nil probative value in the Lejano vs. People
second certification of the U.S. INS.
The video footage serendipitously taken by Victor Yap allegedly of Senator Webb
xxxx
and his family while on vacation at Disneyland in Anaheim, California on July 3, 1991
(b) Passenger Manifest of United Airlines Flight251
does little to support the alibiof accused-appellant Webb for it is quite interesting to note
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 251 that nowhere did accused-appellant Webb appear in this footage. None of the
Lejano vs. People people shown in the film was identified as the accused-appellant Webb. Moreover, the
The purported passenger manifest for the United Airlines flight that allegedly records disclose that just before the segment of the film that showed Senator Webb,
conveyed accused-appellant Webb for the United States, was not identified by the there was a gap or portion of static that appeared which did not appear in any other
United Airlines personnel who actually prepared and completed the portion of the footage. We find that this supports the conclusion that the videotape
same. Instead, the defense presented Dulcisimo Daluz, the supervisor of customer was possibly tampered as an additional support to the alibi of accused-appellant that
services of United Airlines in Manila, who had no hand in the actual preparation or he was in the United States.
safekeeping of the said passenger manifest. It must be stressed that to satisfactorily xxxx
prove the due execution of a private document, the testimony of the witness with regard (f) Video footage at Lake Tahoe and the del Toro-Manlapit Wedding
to the execution of the said document must be positive. Such being the case, his ...the video footage showing accused-appellant Webb seemingly on holiday at
testimony thereto is at most hearsay and therefore not worthy of any credit. Lake Tahoe with the Wheelocks, to our mind does not disprove that Webb was in the
Likewise, we note that the said passenger manifest produced in court is a mere country at the time of the Vizconde killing. Firstly, the date being shown intermittently
photocopy and the same did not comply with the strict procedural requirement in the footage was not the same or near the date of the Vizconde killing. As we
of the airline company, that is, all the checking agents who were on duty on have earlier stated, we do not discount the possibility that Webb was in the Philippines
March 9, 1991 must sign or initial the passenger manifest. This further lessens the during the time he was supposed to have been in the United States, especially, when
credibility of the said document. there are eyewitnesses who testified to the effect that Webb was in the Philippines only
(c) United Airline Ticket a couple of weeks before the killing and who also testified of Webbs participation in
...the alleged United Airline ticket of accused-appellant Webb offered in evidence the crime. In any case, we take judicial notice that modern electronic and photographic
is a mere photocopy of an alleged original, which was never presented advances could offer a means to splice or modify recorded images to configure to a
below. Other than the submission that the original could no longer be produced in desired impression, including the insertion or annotation of numeric figures on a
evidence, there is no other proof that there ever was an original airline ticket in the recorded image.
name of Webb. This does not satisfy the requirements set forth under Section 5 of Rule Likewise, the videotape and photographs taken on Alex del Toros wedding also
130. x x x we find that the photocopy presented in evidence has little if no probative fail to convince, as this was allegedly taken on October 10, 1992 well after the
value. Even assuming there was such an original ticket in existence, the same is hardly fateful days of June 29 and 30, 1991.
(g) Photograph of Webb and Christopher Esguerra before said checks squarely placed accused-appellant Webb in the United States at the
the Dee Lite Concert time of the Vizconde kill-
The photograph of accused-appellant Webb with Esguerra allegedly taken in late 254
April 1991 before they went to a band concert has little probative value. It must be 254 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
pointed out that the image in the picture itself does not depict the date or place it Lejano vs. People
was taken, or of any Dee Lite concert allegedly attended by Webb. Likewise, we ings. Simply put, neither check is therefore clear proof to support Webbs alibi.
observed that the photograph appears to have been trimmed down from a bigger (j) Bicycle/Sportscar
size, possibly to remove the date printed therein. It is also to be noted that Esguerra The Toyota MR2 sportscar and Cannondale bicycle allegedly purchased by
admitted accused-appellant Webb and his father in the United States appear to have been
253
purchased with great haste, and under suspicious circumstances.
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 253 Consider that immediately after the accused-appellants father, former Senator
Lejano vs. People Freddie Webb, arrived in the United States, the first thing he did was go out with his
that the inscription appearing at the back of the photograph of, Hubert and I before the friend Honesto Aragon and accused-appellant to look for a bicycle and a car to be used
Dee Lite Concert, April 1991 was only written by him in 1995, after it was given to him by the latter in going to and from work. The car was bought sometime in early July 1991
by accused-appellants mother, Elizabeth, before he took the witness stand. The Court and the bicycle sometime on June 30, 1991. It is a wonder to this Court that the
cannot therefore but cast suspicion as to its authenticity. accused-appellant and his father would buy a bicycle and a sportscar at practically the
(h) Webbs Drivers License same time to provide the accused-appellant transportation to his work. Would not just
We agree with the trial courts observation that the Drivers License allegedly a car or a bicycle do for him? Also, the hurried purchase of the car right after the arrival
obtained by accused-appellant from the California Department of Motor Vehicle of Freddie Webb appears at the very least, suspicious, as a prospective car-buyer
sometime in the first week of June 1991 is unworthy of credit, because of the would understandably want to make a canvas first for the best car to buy, and not just
inconsistencies in Webbs testimony as to how he obtained the same. In one to purchase the first car he sees.
testimony, Webb claimed he did not make an application but just walked in the licensing Moreover, as aptly observed by the trial court, though it was made clear that the
office and he did not submit any photograph relative to his application. In a later purpose of purchasing the said bicycle and car was for accused-appellants
testimony, he claimed that he submitted an ID picture for his drivers license, and that convenience in going to and from his workwe find, that this contradicts the other
the picture appearing on his drivers license was the very same picture he submitted evidence presented by accused-appellant because it appears from his evidence that
together with his application for the drivers license. These are two inconsistent other than his brief stint in del Toros pest control company business and his
testimonies on the same subject matter, which render the said drivers license and the employment as a gasoline station attendant which incidentally was not sufficiently
alleged date when the same was obtained, unworthy of credit. proven, all that accused-appellant did in the United States was to go sightseeing,
(i) Logbook of Alex del Toro and Check Payments of Webbs salary shopping and meet with family and friends.
The employment records of accused-appellant, which include the alleged logbook Lastly, the fact that the car and the bicycle were allegedly purchased in close
of del Toro in his pest control business, and check payments to Webb were also offered proximity to the date of the rape and killing of the Vizconde women does little to
to support the latters alleged presence in the United States on the dates near the day dissuade the perception that the car and bicycle were purchased only for the purpose
of the Vizconde killings. A review of the logbook shows that the same is unworthy of of providing a plausible defense of alibi for Webb.
any evidentiary weight. The entries where the accused Webb were indicated to (k) Letters to Jennifer Claire Cabrera
have performed work for del Toro, showed that the name of Webb Cabrera, a friend and neighbor of accused-appellant in BF Homes, Paraaque,
(Hubie/U.B.) was merely superimposed on the actual entries and could have produced four (4) letters allegedly written and sent to her by Webb while he was in the
been easily fabricated to create the impression that Webb had some participation in United States, in order to support the accused-appellants alibi. These were allegedly
the business of del Toro, and therefore, are not reliable proofs of Webbs presence and the only letters sent by Webb to her.
occupation in the United States around the time of the Vizconde killing. The letters were allegedly written and posted at around the same time the Vizconde
The alleged check payments of Webbs salary are also unreliable. The check dated rape and killing happened, such that, if the letters were to be
June 13, 1991 was made payable to Cash, while the other check which appeared to 255
be payable to Hubert Webb was however dated only July 10, 1991. Neither of the VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 255
Lejano vs. People testimony of only one witness, if credible and positive, is sufficient to
duly considered, they would place Webb in the United States at the same time the June convict.135 As to appellant Webbs voluminous documentary evidence, both the
30, 1991 killings occurred; thus, bolstering Webbs defense of alibi. RTC and CA judiciously examined each exhibit and concluded that these do not
However, the said letters, to our mind, are not convincing proof of alibi, inasmuch pass the test of admissibility and materiality insofar as proving the physical
said letters were produced only in 1995 at the time she gave a statement, and the same impossibility of his presence at the Vizconde residence on June 29, 1991 until
time Webb was charged. However, Cabrera admitted that she knew Webb was being the early morning of June 30, 1991.
involved or accused in the Vizconde killings as early as 1991 and that she was shocked Appellant Webb cites the opposite view taken by Justices Tagle and
upon learning that he was being implicated therein.
Dacudao in their dissenting opinions and urges this Court to accord the US INS
The Court finds it incredible that despite being shocked in 1991, about the
involvement of her friend, accused-appellant in the Vizconde rape-slay, Cabrera would
certification and other documents relative to his arrival and departure in the US
wait until 1995 to produce the letters that could have cleared her friends name. An on the dates March 9, 1991 and October 26, 1992, respectively, the
interregnum of four years before coming out with valuable proof in support of a friend presumption of regularity being official documents issued by US authorities.
is to our mind, a telling factor on the credibility of the alleged letters. Justices Tagle and Dacudao concurred in stating that the conclusion of their
Also, the impression that may be inferred from reading the letters was one of a man three (3) colleagues (majority) that the US INS certifications did not exclude the
who was pining away for his ladylove. Webb was quite expressive with his feelings possibility of Webb traveling back to the Philippines and again departing for the
when he wrote that he missed Cabrera, a lot, yet after only four letters that was US between March 9, 1991 and October 26, 1992is nothing but speculation
conveniently written sometime in June 1991, he thereafter stopped writing letters to and conjecture. Webb further mentions that since a Justice of this Court
Cabrera as if the whole matter was already forgotten. It is highly suspicious therefore confirmed appellant Webbs alibi of being in the United States on 29 June
that the only letters of accused-appellant Webb to Cabrera were written and sent at the 1991[,] [a]t the very least, such exculpatory testimony coupled with the plethora
exact opportune time that the Vizconde killings occurred which conveniently supplied
of appellant Webbs other documentary and testimonial evidence on his
a basis for his defense of alibi.
Moreover, from the contents of the letters, we can deduce that there was some sort
presence in the United
_______________
of romantic relationship with the accused-appellant Webb and Cabrera. In fact, Webb
in his letters referred to Cabrera as his sweetheart and dearest, and confessed to 134 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, pp. 3455-3463.
her that all he thinks about was her, and he was hoping he would dream of her at night. 135 Bastian v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 160811, April 14, 2008, citing People v. Benito, G.R.
It is not improbable, therefore, that Cabrera could have prevaricated herself to save her No. 128072, February 19, 1999, 303 SCRA 468; People v. Canada, No. L-63728, September 15,
friend. 1986, 144 SCRA 121; People v. Luces, G.R. No. L-60744, November 25, 1983, 125 SCRA
In sum, accused-appellant tried vainly to establish his defense of alibi with the 813; People v. Demeterio, No. L-48255, September 10, 1983, 124 SCRA 914; People v. Romero, No.
L-38786, December 15, 1982, 119 SCRA 234; and People v. Zabala, 86 Phil. 251 (1950).
presentation of not only a substantial volume of documentary evidence but also
257
testimonies of an overwhelming number of witnesses which were comprised mostly of
relatives and family friends who obviously wanted him to be exonerated of the crime VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 257
charged. It is for this reason that we regard their testimonies with an eye of suspicion Lejano vs. People
for it is but natural, although morally unfair, for a close relative or friend to give weight States on 29 June 1991 raises reasonable doubt as to appellant Webbs guilt of
to blood ties and close the crime charged.136
256 I find the contentions bereft of merit.
256 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED In the first place, let it be emphasized that Justice Carpios testimony before
Lejano vs. People the trial court confirmed merely the fact that his conversation with then
relationship in times of dire needs especially when a criminal case is Congressman Webb took place on June 29, 1991 and what the latter relayed to
involved.134 [emphasis supplied] him about his location at the time such telephone call was made, who was with
The rule is well-entrenched in this jurisdiction that in determining the value him in the US (his wife and appellant Webb) and the purpose of their US trip (to
and credibility of evidence, witnesses are to be weighed, not numbered. The find a job for appellant Webb). Said witness even admitted that he had no
personal knowledge that appellant Webb was in fact in the United States at the whether or not the accused is guilty, but such uncertainty that a reasonable
time of his telephone conversation with Congressman Webb.137 man may entertain after a fair review and consideration of the evidence.
As to the travel documents consisting of his US passport, US INS Reasonable doubt is present when
certifications and other evidence presented by appellant Webb in support of after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidences, leaves the minds
his alibi, while it is true that such presentation of passport, plane ticket and other of the [judges] in that condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction, to
travel documents can serve as proof that he was indeed out of the country at a moral certainty, of the truth of the charge; a certainty that convinces and directs the
the time of the Vizconde killings,138 it must still be shown that the evidence is understanding, and satisfies the reason and judgment of those who are bound to act
conscientiously upon it.141
clear and convincing, and the totality of such evidence constitutes an airtight
excuse as to exclude the least possibility of his presence at the crime scene. That reasonable doubt is not engendered by the presentation of
However, appellant Webb failed in this regard and the RTC and CA did not err certifications of entry into and exit from the US, passport with stamp
_______________
in giving scant weight to his arsenal of evidence, particularly so on the strength
of the positive identification of appellant Webb as Carmelas rapist and one of 139 People v. Malones, G.R. No. 124388-90, March 11, 2004, 425 SCRA 318, 339-340,
those who actually took part in the brutal killing of Carmela, her mother and citing People v. Aliposa, G.R. No. 97935, October 23, 1996, 263 SCRA 471.
sister between midnight of June 29, 1991 and early morning of June 30, 1991. 140 Soriano v. People, G.R. No. 148123, June 30, 2008, 556 SCRA 595, 605.
141 Fernan, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 145927, August 24, 2007, 531 SCRA 1, 31, citing People v.
Indeed, alibi cannot be sustained where it is not only Balacano, G.R. No, 127156, July 31, 2000, 336 SCRA 615, 621.
without credible corroboration, but also where it does not, on its face, 259
demonstrate the physical impossibility of the accuseds presence at the place VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 259
_______________
Lejano vs. People
136 Rollo (G.R. No. 176864), pp. 288-299. marks of departure and declarations of witnesses who are mostly relatives and
137 TSN, August 12, 1997, pp. 9-12, 28-30. friends of appellant Webb, can be gleaned from the fact that passports and
138 Vide: People v. Tagun, G.R. No. 137745, February 15, 2002, 377 SCRA 154, 169. plane tickets indicating dates of arrival and departure do not necessarily prove
258
that the very same person actually took the flight. This Court takes judicial notice
258 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED of reported irregularities and tampering of passports in the years prior to the
Lejano vs. People recent issuance by the DFA of machine-readable passports. In fact, the
and time of the commission of the crime.139 Against positive proliferation of photo-substituted passports, fake immigration stamps, assumed
evidence, alibi becomes most unsatisfactory. Alibi cannot prevail over the identity and double passports, among others, have been cited as grounds to
positive identification of a credible witness.140 Appellant Webb was placed at the justify the necessity of amending the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (R.A. No.
crime scene by Alfaro who positively identified him as the one (1) who plotted 8239) as proposed in the Senate, x x x to rally for the issuance of passports
and committed the rape of Carmela, and later fatally stabbed her, her mother using tamper proof and the latest data encryption technology; and provide stiffer
and sister, aided by or in concert with Lejano and Ventura. Gaviola and penalties against proliferators of fake passports.142
Cabanacan gave corroborating testimonies that appellant Webb was here in the It is worthy of note I note that the original of Webbs passport was not offered
country, as he was just in his house at BF Homes Subdivision Phase III, at least in evidence and made part of the records, which only gives credence to the
a few weeks prior to and on June 29 to 30, 1991. prosecutions allegation that it bore signs of tampering and irregularities. And as
Verily, it is only when the identification of the accused as the author of the earlier mentioned, the much vaunted US-INS second certification dated August
crime charged is inconclusive or unreliable that alibi assumes importance. Such 31, 1995 based on a mere computer print-out from the Non-immigrant
is not the situation in the case at bar where the identification of the perpetrators Information System (Exhibit 213-1-D) retrieved from the US- INS Archives in
by a lone eyewitness satisfied the moral certainty standard. Washington, and the accompanying certifications, have little probative value,
It is the prosecutions burden to prove the guilt of the accused beyond the truth of their contents had not been testified to by the persons who issued
reasonable doubt. Definitely, reasonable doubt is not mere guesswork
the same. Moreover, the issuance of this certification only a couple of weeks LETTER SHOULD REFERENCE THE INS CONTROL NUMBER ABOVE AND THE
after the August 10, 1995 US-INS Office in San Francisco was issued, only LETTER AND THE ENVELOPE SHOULD BE CLEARLY MARKED FOIA/PA APPEAL.
raised questions as to its accuracy. Said earlier certification through Debora A. SINCERELY,
Farmer stated that: (SGD.) DISTRICT DIRECTOR144[emphasis supplied]
_______________ _______________

142 Sourced from Internethttp://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/forum/index. 143 Exhibits YY, DDD and 213-1-D, Records, Vol. 9, pp. 1142, 1147 and Records, Vol. 26,
php?topic=5848.0; See also Passport-reading Machine Uncovers Fake Documents by Tina p. 270.
Santos, Philippine Daily Inquirer, first posted 03:29:00 06/15/2008 at website 144 Exhibits XX and LLL, Records, Vol. 9, pp. 1141 and 1157.
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20080615-142790/Passport-reading- 161
machine-uncovers-fake-documents; DFA-RP Passport Exposes Filipinos to Discrimination by VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 161
Venorica Uy, inquirer.net, Last Updated 07-05pm (Mla time) 03/13/2007 sourced Lejano vs. People
from http://www.pinoymoneytalk.com/forum/index.php?topic=5848.0
260 To show that the August 10, 1995 US-INS Certification was erroneous,
260 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED appellant Webb presented the Memorandum addressed to Secretary Domingo
L. Siazon signed by Consul Leo M. Herrera-Lim, the Diplomatic Note dated
Lejano vs. People
[a]fter diligent search no record is found to exist in the records of the Immigration
October 30, 1995 and the letter of Debora Farmer stating that the San Francisco
and Naturalization Service. The search included a review of the Service automated certification was erroneous.145 The prosecution, however, presented another
and nonautomated records system; there is no evidence of any lawful admission document which indicated that an appeal to the U.S. Department of Justice,
to the United States as an immigrant, or as a nonimmigrant, relating to Hubert P. Office of Information and Privacy yielded a negative result on any record on file
Webb, born November 7, 1968, in the Philippines. The records searched are that one (1) Hubert Webb arrived in the United States on March 9, 1991, and
current as of July 1, 1995 for the immigrants and nonimmigrants.143 [emphasis further that Richard L. Huff, Co-Director of the Office of Information and Privacy
supplied] had in effect sustained as correct the US-INS San Francisco report that there is
The above finding was relayed by Thomas Schiltgen, District Director of the no such data on Hubert Webb in the San Francisco database so that the
Immigration and Naturalization Service, San Francisco to Ms. Teresita V. Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. should instead ask the assistance
Marzan, Consul General of the Philippines: of other U.S. government agencies in their search for data on appellant Webb.146
SUBJECT: WEBB, HUBERT The defense endeavored to explain why the US-INS Archives in
RE: Hubert Jeffrey Webb Washington could have made the mistake of stating that it had no data or
Dear Requester: information on the alleged entry of appellant Webb on March 9, 1991 and his
YOUR REQUEST WAS RECEIVED BY THIS OFFICE ON 07/10/95.
exit on October 26, 1992. However, it had not satisfactorily addressed the
WE HAVE COMPLETED OUR SEARCH FOR RECORDS RESPONSIVE TO
YOUR REQUEST BUT DID NOT LOCATE ANY. IF YOU STILL BELIEVE THAT WE
nagging question of how it became possible for
_______________
HAVE RECORDS WITHIN THE SCOPE OF YOUR REQUEST, AND CAN PROVIDE
US WITH ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, WE WILL CONDUCT ANOTHER SEARCH. 145 Exhibits 30, 33 and 34, Records, Vol. 9, pp. 708, 711-713.
IF YOU ELECT TO REQUEST ANOTHER SEARCH, WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU 146 Cited by reference in Exhibit III, Records, Vol. 9, p. 1154.
NOT FOLLOW THE APPEALS PROCEDURE DESCRIBED BELOW UNTIL WE HAVE You were informed by the San Francisco District Office of the Immigration and Naturalization
COMPLETED THAT SEARCH. Service that no records responsive to you request could be located in its file. It has been determined
YOU MAY APPEAL THE FINDING IN THIS MATTER BY WRITING TO THE that this response is correct. For your information, the INS normally does not maintain records on
individuals who are entering the country as visitors rather than as immigrants. A notation concerning
OFFICE OF INFORMATION AND PRIVACY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF
the entry of a visitor may be made in the Nonimmigrant Information System (NIIS), but many visitors
JUSTICE, SUITE 570, 1310 G. STREET, N.W., FLAG BUILDING, WASHINGTON are not entered into this system. The NIIS was searched, and no records pertaining to Mr.
D.C., 20530 WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS OF RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER. YOUR Webb are found. I am informed by the San Francisco District Office that this matter is still pending
in that office and that a formal response to your request will be issued shortly.
It is possible that either the State Department or the United States Customs Service might have 263
information concerning Mr. Webbs entry into the country. I suggest you write to those agencies to VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 263
request the information you seek.
262 Lejano vs. People
262 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED tions regarding the consularized certifications was reflected in the Decision
Lejano vs. People dated April 16, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No. 42285 (Miguel Rodriguez v. Amelita
the US-INS Archives in Washington, which is supposed to merely download and Tolentino) and CA-G.R. SP No. 42673 (Hubert P. Webb v. Amelita
copy the information given by the San Francisco INS, to have an entry on Tolentino).149
appellant Webb when the said port of entry had no such record. Considering Appellant Webbs travel documents and other supposed paper trail of his
that many visitors (nonimmigrants) are admittedly not entered into the NIIS stay in the US are unreliable proof of his absence in the Philippines at the time
database, and that diligent search already yielded a negative response on of the commission of the crime charged. The non-submission in evidence of
appellant Webbs entry into the US on March 9, 1991 as per the August 10, his original passport, which was not formally offered and made part of the
1995 Certification, as to what US government agency the alleged computer- records, had deprived the RTC, CA and this Court the opportunity to examine
generated print-out in the August 31, 1995 certification actually came from the same. Such original is a crucial piece of evidence which unfortunately was
remains unclear. placed beyond judicial scrutiny.
Appellant Webbs reliance on the presumption of regularity of official I/We quote the following observations made by the prosecution on Webbs
functions, stressing the fact that the US-INS certifications are official passport from the appeal brief of the OSG:
In tandem with the presentation of the various U.S. INS certifications to bolster
documents, is misplaced. The presumption leaned on is disputable and can be
appellant Webbs story of a U.S. sojourn before, during and after the commission of the
overcome by evidence to the contrary.147 In this case, the existence of an earlier offense charged, he further anchors his defense on his passport (Exh. AAAAAA and
negative report on the NIIS record on file concerning the entry of appellant 294) ostensibly to show, among others, that the grant by the United States government
Webb into and his exit from the US on March 9, 1991 and October 26, 1992, granted him a visa effective from April 6, 1989 to April 6, 1994 and the U.S. Immigration
respectively, had raised serious doubt on the veracity and accuracy of the in San Francisco stampmarked it on March 9, 1991 (Exh. AAAAAA-6) on page 30
subsequently issued second certification dated August 31, 1995 which is based thereof (Exh. AAAAAA-2 and 294-D).
merely on a computer print-out of his alleged entry on March 9, 1991 and On its face, what the entries in the passport plainly suggest is that appellant Webb
departure on October 26, 1992. violated U.S. immigration laws by overstaying beyond the usual six-(6) month period
As to the testimony of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo L. Siazon, allowed for tourists. However, he being the son of a Senator would not unnecessarily
the same cannot be given due credence since he is incompetent to testify on violate U.S. immigration laws. It would be quite easy for him to apply for and secure an
the contents of the August 31, 1995 US-INS Certification, having merely extension of his authorized stay in the U.S., if only he requested. But why did not he or
his parents secure the extension? Why was there no evidence to show that he ever
received the said document in his capacity as the head of the Department of
requested an extension? Did he really overstay in the U.S. or could he simply enter
Foreign Affairs of the Philippines. Consul Leo M. Herrera-Lims testimony and leave the U.S. and the Philippines without marking his passport? These raise
likewise did not carry much weight considering that its significance is confined serious questions on the integrity of the passport.
to the fact that the document from the US-INS was transmitted and received by Is appellant Webb really untouchable that even U.S. authorities in various states
the DFA. It is to be noted that the certification issued by the Philippine Embassy would let him get off the hook without much of a fuss after his alleged brushes with
with respect to the US-INS Certifications contained a disclaimer, specifically the law (TSN - Hubert Webb dated September 10, 1997,
stating that the Embassy assumed no responsibility for the contents of the _______________
annexed document.148 The same observa-
149 Records, Vols. 24 & 25, pp. 98-109.
_______________
264
147 Vide: Soriano v. People, G.R. No. 148123, June 30, 2008, 556 SCRA 595, 604. 264 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
148 Exhibit 42-M, Records, Vol. 9, p. 440. Lejano vs. People
p. 82)? This is especially incredible considering that he was allegedly apprehended in the first week of June, 1991. On the other hand, on September 1, 1997, the accused
the United States near the U.S. border (Ibid., pp. 82-83) where authorities are always suddenly and completely changed his testimony while still on direct examination. He
on the look out for illegal aliens. claims that the picture appearing on the drivers license was the very same he
The questions involving appellant Webbs passport are not limited to the stamp submitted together with his application for the drivers license. Thus, the discrepancy
marks (or lack of stamp marks) therein. There are unusual things about his passport as to the source of the photograph (Exhibit 334-E) between the testimony given on
which he has been unable to explain satisfactorily. August 14, 1997 where the accused Webb said that the California Department of Motor
The passport of her mother, Elizabeth Webb, for example, appears to be well Vehicle took his picture, and the testimony given on September 1, 1997 where he said
preserved despite having been used more frequently than that of appellant Webb who that he submitted it to the California DMV as an attachment to his supposed drivers
supposedly used it in only one trip abroad. Not only do some of the pages appear license application renders the accused Webbs testimony as unbelievable and
smudged or untidy, but more significantly, the perforations on the passport pages unworthy of credence.
indicating the serial number of appellant Webbs passport no longer fit exactly on the It is beyond belief that the same picture submitted by the accused Webb became
pagesthat is, they are no longer aligned. The perforations are intended not only to the picture in the drivers license allegedly issued on June 14, 1991. Moreover, it is
indicate the serial number of the passport but more importantly to countercheck contrary to human nature and experience, aside from the fact that it is likewise contrary
intercalations and tampering. The non-alignment of the perforations is thus significant. to the procedure described by the accused Webb in obtaining a drivers license in the
In addition to the over-all shabby appearance of appellant Webbs passport, what State of California. Since a drivers license is one of the principal means of identification
is evident is the torn plastic portion of the dorsal page thereof near the holders in the United States as well as in the Philippines, to allow the applicants to produce
signature. There is also the matter of the marked difference in the signatures of their own pictures would surely defeat the purpose in requiring them to appear before
appellant Webb as appearing on the dorsal side of the passport (Exh. AAAAAA-3 and the Department of Motor Vehicle, that is, to ensure the integrity and genuineness of the
294-A-1) as compared with that appearing on his laminated photograph (Exh. drivers license.
AAAAAA-5 and 294-C-1). Of course, he tried to offer an explanation on the variance in The Court takes note that the accused Webb, in his fervent desire to exculpate
the two (2) signatures. All he could reason out, however, was that he wrote his name himself from criminal liability, earlier offered in evidence the letter dated January 10,
using his normal penmanship when in a lazy mood (TSNHubert Webb dated August 1992 of Mr. Robert L. Heafner, Legal Attache of the Embassy of the United
14, 1997, p. 27), implying that the signature appearing on his laminated photograph is States to the then Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, Alfredo S. Lim,
his real signature. A review of his other documentary evidence supposedly bearing his (Exhibit 61) which stated in very clear terms that the accused Webbs California
signature shows that what appears therein is his name written in his normal Drivers License Number A8818707 was issued on August 9, 1991. Furthermore,
penmanship, and that it is only in the laminated picture (Exh. AAAAAA-5 and 294-C) the said letter states the listed address of the accused Webb at the time of the issuance
that such real signature appears. Following appellant Webbs explanation, it means of the drivers license was 532 So. Avenida Faro Ave., Anaheim, California 92807. The
that he was in a lazy mood all the time!150 said listed address of the accused Webb at the time his drivers license was issued has
Two (2) more documents presented by appellant Webb deserve a close demolished the testimony of the defense witness Sonia Rodriguez that the accused
lookhis US Drivers License supposedly issued on June 14, 1991, and the Webb was supposed to be already living with the Rodriguez family in Longwood,
Passenger Manifest. The RTCs evaluation of said documents revealed their Florida by the first week of August, 1991.
lack of probative value, thus: The accused Webb likewise offered in evidence the official communication
_______________ coming from the Federal Bureau of Investigation dated De-
266
150 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, pp. 2684-2687. 266 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
265 Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 265 cember 31, 1991 (Exhibit MMM and submarkings; Exhibit 66-C and submarkings)
Lejano vs. People which likewise gave the information that the accused Webb was issued California
On August 14, 1997, [Webb] testified that he did not make any application since Drivers License No. 8818707 on August 9, 1991, and that as of August 9, 1991, the
the procedure in California provides for a walk-in system, that he did not submit any address of the accused Webb was 532 South Avenida Faro, Anaheim, California
photograph relative to his application for a Californian Drivers License, inasmuch as a 92807. The fact that the alleged Drivers License No. A8818707 was issued on two (2)
photograph of him was taken, and that, his drivers license was issued sometime on
different dates (August 9, 1991 and June 14, 1991) casts a serious doubt on its of June 29, 1991 until early morning of June 30, 1991, was even less plausible
provenance and authenticity. considering the distance of that place from Pitong Daan Subdivision, which is
xxxx just a few minutes ride away. The RTC noted the manifestation of the defense
In order to establish that the accused Hubert Webb departed from the Philippines on Andrew Syaps refusal to testify on Gatchalian and Lejanos whereabouts
on 09 March 1991 on board UA flight 808 the defense also presented witness Dulcisimo
during the night in question, despite their efforts to convince him to do so. It
Daluz, Station Manager of United Airlines for Manila who in turn presented a document
purporting to be the Passenger Manifest for the flight departing on 09 March
further noted the testimony of Assistant NBI Director Pedro Rivera that Carlos
1991 (Exhibits 233-A to 233-N). Syap upon seeing Gatchalian with their group even berated Gatchalian for
This document merits outright rejection considering that the defense witness Daluz dragging him into his (Gatchalians) own problem. Aside from Alfaro, security
confirmed that the same was prepared by the UA departure area personnel and not by guard Normal White, Jr. also testified that the presence of Gatchalian (son of a
himself. Thus, this document is merely hearsay and is devoid of any merit whatsoever. homeowner), who pointed to the other appellants in the two (2) cars behind him
In respect of the plane ticket of the accused Hubert Webb, what was likewise as his companions, was the reason they allowed his friends to enter the
offered as part of the testimony of Daluz was a mere photo copy, wherein Daluz also subdivision on the night of June 29, 1991. White, Jr. also categorically declared
admitted not having any direct participation in its preparation. he had, earlier that same night, seen Gatchalian with his friends standing at
The spurious nature of the document was observed by the witness Daluz himself Vinzons St. Thus, other than the hearsay declaration of his father who merely
who admitted that there were irregularities in the Passenger Manifest presented by testified on what his son told him about spending the night watching video tapes
the defense. According to Daluz, it is a strict procedural requirement that all the
at the Syap residence on June 29, 1991, Gatchalian presented no corroborative
checking agents who were on duty on March 9, 1991 were supposed to initial the
Passenger Manifest, However, he admitted that Exhibits 223 and 223-N did not
evidence of his alibi.
contain the initials of the checking agents who were supposed to initial the same. As to appellant Lejano, he was positively identified by Alfaro as the first to
The defense presented Agnes Tabuena, Vice-President for Finance and express approval of Webbs plan to gang-rape Carmela by saying, Ako ang
Administration of the Philippine Airlines for the purpose of establishing that Hubert susunod. Lejano was also with Alfaro, Webb and Ventura in going inside the
Webb arrived in the Philippines only on 26 October 1992. Vizconde house, and whom she later saw inside the masters bedroom, at the
Like witnesses Daluz and Nolasco, Tabuenas statements on the witness stand foot of the bed where the bloodied
and the Certification was based exclusively on the Passenger Manifest of PALs PR _______________
103. Unfortunately for the defense, the said testimony is of no probative value and of
doubtful veracity considering that the witness did not prepare the same, nor did the 151 Records, Vol. 25, pp. 143-153.
268
witness identify the persons who prepared the same other than that they were airport
staff, nor did she had any idea 268 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
267 Lejano vs. People
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 267 bodies of Estrellita and Jennifer lay, and just standing there about to wear his
Lejano vs. People jacket while Webb was pumping the hogtied and gagged Carmela on the floor.
when the document was transmitted to her office. In fact, the witness could not even His alibi is likewise feeble, as he could have easily gone to the Vizconde house
interpret the contents of the said Passenger Manifest, much more testify as to the due within a few minutes from the Syap residence where he and Gatchalian
execution and genuineness thereof. allegedly watched video tapes.
In view of the vital necessity to the other accused of establishing accused Webbs Appellant Fernandez, on his part, insisted that Alfaros story was simply
alibi, it is important to note that Atty. Francisco Gatchalian, father of the accused fabricated by her hidden mentors who considered the sworn statement of
Michael Gatchalian was then a high ranking PAL Official and a colleague of Tabuena.
Roberto D. Barroso taken on November 4, 1991. Barroso was one (1) of the
This makes the source of the document, even ignoring the fact of its inadmissibility,
suspicious.151 [emphasis supplied.]
members of the Akyat Bahay gang who were earlier charged before the Makati
The alibi of appellants Gatchalian and Lejano, who claimed they were at the City RTC in Criminal Case Nos. 91-7135-37 for Rape with Homicide and for
Syap residence at Ayala Alabang Village watching video tapes the whole night Robbery with Homicide in connection with the Vizconde killings. There is an
uncanny congruence in the details of the incident as testified to by Alfaro, with Subdivision,155 and the second time when she was asked to enumerate the
the sworn statement of Barroso particularly pertaining to the manner by which members of the group who were waiting along Aguirre Avenue during their
the garage light of the Vizconde house was put out, the smashing of the glass second trip to the Vizconde residence.156 Thus, when Alfaro testified that the rest
panel of the main door, and the appearance of a woman who opened the main of the group acted as lookouts while she, Webb, Lejano and Ventura went inside
door saying Sino kayo?152 the Vizconde house, it must be understood as limited only to those she had
Such submissions are inane, in view of the dismissal of those cases filed previously enumerated, which definitely did not include Rodriguez.157
against the first set of suspects based on lack of evidence. Contrary to The argument is untenable. The mere fact that Alfaro missed out naming
Fernandezs insinuation of a fabricated eyewitness account, Alfaro gave much Rodriguez in two (2) instances during her direct examination does not give rise
more minute details than the limited narration given by Barroso. More important, to the conclusion that he was not positively identified by Alfaro as among those
Alfaros testimony was sufficiently corroborated on its material points, not only present and participated prior to, during and after the commission of the crime
by the physical evidence, but also by the testimonies of four (4) disinterested as lookouts along with the rest of the group. Contrary to Rodriguezs claim, the
witnesses for the prosecution: White, Jr., Cabanacan, Gaviola and Birrer. first time that
Fernandez also cited as among the reasons why Alfaros declarations were _______________
far from positive, the non-recovery of the fatal weapons used in the killings. He
153 Id., at p. 3564.
contended that a crucial link in the prosecutions physical evidence was thus 154 People v. Ortiz, G.R. No. 133814, July 17, 2001, 361 SCRA 274, citing People v.
missing, as Alfaro could not even say what was the object or thing which she Sumaoy, G.R. No. 105961, October 22, 1996, 263 SCRA 460 and People v. Padao, G.R. No.
saw thrown out of the Nissan Patrol while the group was on their way to the BF 104400, January 28, 1997, 267 SCRA 64.
Executive Village. Hence, her suggestion that what she saw Ventura took from 155 TSN, October 10, 1995, pp. 97-98.
156 Id., at pp. 129-131.
_______________
157 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, pp. 3542-3550.
270
152 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, pp. 3564-3566.
269 270 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 269 Lejano vs. People
Lejano vs. People Alfaro referred to and enumerated the members of the group which she had
the kitchen drawer may have been kitchen knives used to kill the victims unexpectedly joined that night, was at the beginning of her narration on how she
must fail.153 met Venturas friends when she got her order of shabu at the Ayala Alabang
Such proposition fails to persuade. The failure to present the murder Commercial Center parking lot.
Q. And you said that Dong Ventura introduced you to this group, will you name the group that
weapon will not exculpate the accused from criminal liability. The presentation was introduced to you by Dong Ventura?
and identification of the weapon used are not indispensable to prove the guilt of A. First, he introduced me to Hubert Webb, then Fyke Fernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, and then
the accused, much more so where the perpetrator has been positively identified Tonyboy Lejano, Michael Gatchalian.158
by a credible witness.154 Alfaro was again asked to enumerate the members of the group when the
Appellant Rodriguez denies being a conspirator with Webbs group in the prosecution asked her to name the members of the group, in the later part of
commission of the crime, asserting that his presence and participation in the her direct examination during the same hearing.159 She also testified that after
Vizconde killings, from the time of its inception up to its consummation, was not everyone, including Rodriguez, took part in a shabu session, they left the
established beyond reasonable doubt. He cites the failure of Alfaro to mention parking lot.160 It thus logically follows that whenever Alfaro made reference to the
his name as part of the group twice in her testimony. These instances refer to group in her entire narration, it necessarily included those she had enumerated
Alfaros direct examination when she was asked to name the persons riding the she had met and had a shabu session with at the Ayala Alabang Commercial
convoy of three (3) vehicles when they left Ayala Alabang Commercial Center Center parking lot. This same group was with her from their first trip to the
parking lot to proceed to the Vizconde residence at Pitong Daan Vizconde residence until the time they left Pitong Daan Subdivision and
retreated to a house at BF Executive Village early morning of June 30, 1991. The existence of conspiracy between appellants Webb, Ventura, Lejano,
Alfaro had specifically mentioned Rodriguez when asked by Prosecutor Zuo Gatchalian, Fernandez, Rodriguez and Filart was satisfactorily
to describe their relative positions at the lawn area of the BF Executive Village _______________
house, thus establishing his presence during the blaming session:
A. x x x kalat kami, sir, pero hindi kami magkakalayo x x x 161 TSN, October 16, 1995, pp. 117-119.
xxxx 162 TSN, October 17, 1995, pp. 72-79, 95.
Q. How about Miguel Rodriguez, how far was he from Hubert? 163 People v. Watiwat, G.R. No. 139400, September 3, 2003, 410 SCRA 324, 335.
A. Two meters away. 272
xxxx 272 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
_______________
Lejano vs. People
158 TSN, October 10, 1995, p. 81.
159 Id., at p. 88.
proven by the prosecution. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come
160 Id., at p. 97. to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit
271
it. Conspiracy comes to life at the very instant the plotters agree, expressly or
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 271
impliedly, to commit the felony and forthwith decide to actually pursue it. It may
Lejano vs. People be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence.164 Although only one (1) rape was
A. Mike is very very near Ging Rodriguez.161
actually proven by the prosecution, as conspirators who mutually agreed to
It must be stressed that Alfaro categorically declared it was Rodriguez who
commit the crime and assisted one (1) another in its commission, on the
approached her at Faces Disco on March 30, 1995 and told her to shut up or
occasion of which the rape victim Carmela, her mother Estrellita and sister
she would be killed. Aside from making that threat, Rodriguez also offered Alfaro
Jennifer, were killed, each of the accused-appellants shall be criminally liable
a plane ticket so she could leave the country.162Rodriguezs bare denial cannot
for rape with homicide.
be given any evidentiary weight. We have ruled that denial is a self-serving
Indeed, appellants by their individual acts, taken as a whole, showed that
negative evidence that cannot be given greater weight than the declaration of a
they were acting in unison and cooperation to achieve the same unlawful
credible witness who testified on affirmative matters.163
objective, even if it was only Webb, Ventura and Lejano who actually went inside
Rodriguezs attempt to set up an alibi through the testimony of his cousin
the Vizconde house while Estrada, Fernandez, Rodriguez, Gatchalian and Filart
Mark Rualo was equally frail. Even assuming as true Rualos testimony that he
stood as lookouts outside the house. Under these premises, it is not even
had indeed invited Rodriguez to attend his birthday party on June 29, 1991 but
necessary to pinpoint the precise participation of each of the accused-
Rodriguez opted to stay in his house and even talked to him on the phone when
appellants, the act of one being the act of all.165
he called Rodriguez to ask why he was not yet at the party, it cannot serve as
One who participates in the material execution of the crime by standing
proof of Rodriguezs whereabouts at the time of the commission of the crime. It
guard or lending moral support to the actual perpetrators thereof is criminally
did not rule out the actual presence of Rodriguez at the crime scene.
responsible to the same extent as the latter. There being conspiracy among the
Appellant Estrada, just like Rodriguez and Fernandez, did not take the
accused-appellants, they are liable
witness stand and simply relied on the alibi defense of his co-accused, _______________
principally that of Webb. Alfaro testified that it was Estrada, then her boyfriend,
who was together with her in her car throughout the night of June 29, 1991 until 164 Article 8, The Revised Penal Code, as amended; People v. Amodia,G.R. No. 173791, April
early morning of June 30, 1991. Estrada was among those who acted as 7, 2009, 584 SCRA 518, citing People v. Pelopero,G.R. No. 126119, October 15, 2003, 413 SCRA
397, 410.
lookouts outside the Vizconde house after they all concurred in the plan of Webb 165 People v. Lagarto, G.R. Nos. 118828 & 119371, February 29, 2000, 326 SCRA 693, 748,
to gang-rape Carmela while they were still at the parking lot of the Ayala citing People v. Layno, G.R. No. 110833, November 21, 1996, 264 SCRA 558; People v.
Alabang Commercial Center. Sumalpong, G.R. No. 124705, January 20, 1998, 284 SCRA 229; People v. Obello, G.R. No. 108772,
Conspiracy among appellants duly proven January 14, 1998, 284 SCRA 79; People v. Pulusan, G.R. No. 10037, May 21, 1998, 290 SCRA
353; People v. Medina, G.R. No. 127157, July 10, 1998, 292 SCRA 436; and People v. Chua, G.R.
No. 121792, October 7, 1998, 297 SCRA 229.
273 Appellant Biong is one (1) such public officer, and he abused his public function
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 273 when, instead of immediately arresting the perpetrators of the crime, he
Lejano vs. People acceded to the bidding of appellant Webb to clean the Vizconde house, which
as co-principals regardless of the manner and extent of their participation.166 means he must help hide any possible trace or sign linking them to the crime,
Biong guilty as accessory after the fact and not necessarily to prevent the discovery of the bodies in such actual
Appellant Biong contends that he cannot be convicted as accessory to the condition upon their deaths. Hence, such cleaning would include obliterating
crime of rape with homicide because the acts imputed to him did not result in fingerprints and other identifying marks which appellants Webb, Lejano and
the hiding of the case. There was no evidence that such indeed was his intent Ventura might have left at the scene of the crime.
or motive. He points out that the bodies of the victims were found at their Contrary to Biongs assertion, his failure to preserve evidence at the crime
respective places where they were assaulted and there was no evidence that scene such as fingerprints on the doors and objects inside the masters
they had been moved an inch from where they breathed their last. He asserts bedroom where the bodies were found, the bloodied floor of the toilet, the actual
that non-preservation of the evidence is not an accessory crime under the material used in gagging Carmela and Estrellita, the bloodied blankets and bed
Revised Penal Code.167 sheets, the original condition of the broken glass panel of the main door, the
The contentions have no merit. shoe print and foot prints on the car hood and at the back of the house,
The Revised Penal Code in Article 19 defines an accessory as one who has fingerprints on the light bulb at the garagewas a form of assistance to help
knowledge of the commission of the crime, yet did not take part in its the perpetrators evade apprehension by confusing the investigators in
commission as principal or accomplice, but took part in it subsequent to its determining initially what happened and the possible
commission by any of three modes: (1) profiting himself or assisting the offender suspects. Consequently, Biongs unlawful taking of the jewelries and Carmelas
to profit by the effects of the crime; (2) concealing or destroying the body of the ATM card and drivers license, his act of breaking the larger portion of the main
crime, or the effects or instruments thereof in order to prevent its discovery; and door glass, the washing out of the blood on the toilet floor and permitting the
(3) harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principals of the relatives to burn the bloodied bed sheets and blanketshad in fact misled the
crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or when authorities in identifying potential suspects. Thus, the police had a difficult time
the offender is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt to take the life figuring out whether it was robbers who entered the Vizconde house and
of the Chief Executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime.168 perpetrated the rape-slay, or drug-crazed addicts on the loose, or other persons
Under paragraph 3 of Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, having motive against the Vizconde family had exacted revenge, or a brutal
there are two (2) classes of accessories, one of which is a sexual assault on Carmela by men who were not strangers to her which also
_______________ led to the killings.
On the basis of strong evidence of appellant Biongs effort to destroy crucial
166 People v. Sicad, G.R. No. 133833, October 15, 2002, 391 SCRA 19, 34, citing People v.
Diaz, G.R. No. 110829, April 18, 1997, 271 SCRA 504, 515 and People v. Abordo, G.R. No. 107245,
physical evidence at the crime scene, I hold that the RTC
December 17, 1999, 321 SCRA 23, 39. 275
167 CA Rollo, Vol. IV, p. 3081. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 275
168 People v. Antonio, G.R. No. 128900, July 14, 2000, 335 SCRA 646, 677, citing People v. Lejano vs. People
Malvenda, G.R. No. 115351, March 27, 1998, 288 SCRA 225.
274 did not err in convicting him as an accessory to the crime of rape with homicide.
274 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Penalty
Lejano vs. People The CA was correct in affirming the sentence imposed by the RTC upon
each of the accused-appellants Webb, Lejano, Gatchalian, Rodriguez,
public officer who harbors, conceals or assists in the escape of the principal.
Fernandez and Estrada. The proper penalty is reclusion perpetua because the
Such public officer must have acted with abuse of his public functions, and the
imposition of the death penalty under the Revised Penal Code (in Article 335
crime committed by the principal is any crime, provided it is not a light felony.
thereof, as amended by R.A. No. 2632 and R.A. No. 4111, when by reason or
on the occasion of rape, a homicide is committed), was prohibited by the By Resolution dated April 20, 2010, this Court granted appellant Webbs
Constitution at the time the offense was committed.169 At any rate, the request to submit for DNA analysis the semen specimen taken from the cadaver
subsequent passage of R.A. No. 9346 entitled An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Carmela Vizconde under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation
of the Death Penalty in the Philippines, which was signed into law on June 24, (NBI). We ordered (1) the NBI to assist the parties in facilitating the submission
2006, would have mandated the imposition on accused-appellants the same of the said specimen to the UP-Natural Science and Research Institute (UP-
penalty of reclusion perpetua. NSRI), Diliman, Quezon City; and (2) the NBI and UP-NSRI to report to this
As to the penalty imposed by the CA on appellant Biong as accessory after Court within fifteen (15) days from notice regarding compliance with and
the fact to the crime of rape with homicide, we find the same proper and in order. implementation of the said resolution.
DNA Testing In his Compliance and Manifestation dated April 27, 2010, Atty. Reynaldo
Appellant Gatchalian reiterates his and appellant Webbs motion for DNA O. Esmeralda, NBI Deputy Director for Technical Services, informed this Court
testing of the semen specimen taken from the vaginal cavity of Carmela during that the semen specimen/vaginal smear taken from the cadaver of Carmela
the autopsy conducted by Dr. Cabanayan, which motion was denied by the RTC Vizconde and all original documents (autopsy and laboratory reports, and
for lack of available scientific expertise and technology at the time. photographs) are no longer in the custody of the NBI as these were submitted
With the great advances in forensic science and under pertinent state laws, as evidence to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Paraaque City, Branch 274
American courts allow post-conviction DNA testing when its application has by then
strong indications that the result could potentially exonerate the convict. Indeed, _______________
even a convicted felon has the right to avail of new technology not available
170 A.M. No. 06-11-5-SC.
during his trial. 171 Id., Sec. 4.
_______________ 277

169 People v. Magana, G.R. No. 105673, July 26, 1996, 259 SCRA 381, 402.
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 277
276 Lejano vs. People
276 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED NBI Medico-Legal Chief, Prospero A. Cabanayan, M.D., when the latter
Lejano vs. People testified on direct and cross-examination on January 30, 31, February 1, 5, 6
On October 2, 2007, this Court approved the Rule on DNA Evidence170 which and 7, 1996. Attached thereto are certified true copies of Laboratory Report No.
took effect on October 15, 2007. SN-91-17 (stating positive result for the presence of human spermatozoa),
Pursuant to Section 4 of the Rule, the court may at any time, either motu Autopsy Report No. N-91-1665 (with remarks: Smear for presence of
proprio or on application of any person who has a legal interest in the matter in spermatozoa), copy of the sworn statement of Dr. Cabanayan and certified true
litigation, order a DNA testing after due notice and hearing. Such order shall copy of the envelope bearing his signed handwritten notation that all original
issue upon showing of the following: photographs have been submitted as evidence during the aforementioned
(a) A biological sample exists that is relevant to the case; hearing dates.172
(b) The biological sample: (i) was not previously subjected to the type of DNA On May 11, 2010, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Motion
testing now requested; or (ii) was previously subjected to DNA testing, but the results for Reconsideration of our Resolution dated April 20, 2010 on grounds that (a)
may require confirmation for good reasons; the DNA testing order was issued in disregard of Section 4 of the Rule on DNA
(c) The DNA testing uses a scientifically valid technique; Evidence which requires prior hearing and notice; (b) a determination of
(d) The DNA testing has the scientific potential to produce new information that propriety of DNA testing at this stage under the present Rule, separate from that
is relevant to the proper resolution of the case; and filed by Webb before the trial court on October 6, 1997, is necessary as there
(e) The existence of other factors, if any, which the court may consider as
was no opportunity back then to establish the requisites for a DNA testing order
potentially affecting the accuracy or integrity of the DNA testing.171
under the Rule which took effect only in 2007; (c) the result of the DNA testing
will constitute new evidence, which cannot be received and appreciated for the the Rule on DNA Evidence to afford Webb the fullest extent of his constitutional
first time on appeal; and (d) this Court failed to elucidate an exceptional rights, the prosecution was not thereby denied its equally important right to due
circumstance to justify its decision to consider a question of fact, as this Court process. Contrary to the OSGs claim that this Court immediately granted DNA
itself acknowledged in its April 20, 2010 Resolution that the result of DNA testing testing without observing the requisites under Section 4 of the Rule on DNA
is not crucial or indispensable in the determination of appellant Webbs guilt for Evidence, and without due notice and hearing, appellant asserts that the
the crime charged.173 Resolution dated April 20, 2010 clearly defines the parameters of the DNA
On May 21, 2010, Atty. Roberto Makalintal, Jr., Branch Clerk of RTC analysis to be conducted by the UP-NSRI assisted by the NBI. Indeed, there
Paraaque City, Branch 274, submitted his Comment on The Compliance and are ample safeguards in the Rule to assure the reliability and acceptability of
Manifestation Dated April 27, 2010 of the NBI stating that: (a) There is no the results of the DNA testing. Fernandez, however, objected to the statement
showing of actual receipt by RTC Branch 274 of the specimen/vaginal smear of the OSG that in the light of positive identification of appellant Webb by the
mentioned in Dr. Cabanayans affidavit dated April 27, 2010; (b) Based on principal witness for the prosecution, Jessica Alfaro, the existing circumstances
available records such as the TSN of January 31, 1996 and February 7, 1996 more than
during which Dr. Caba- _______________
_______________
174 Id., at pp. 560-563.
172 Rollo (G.R. No. 176389), pp. 531-542. 279
173 Id., at pp. 543-554. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 279
278
Lejano vs. People
278 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED warrant the affirmation of Webbs guilt. Alfaros cross-examination exposed her
Lejano vs. People as an out-and-out perjurer, a bold and intentional liar under oath and a fake
nayan testified, no such specimen/vaginal smear was submitted to RTC witness whose account of the incident is shot-through with fatal omissions,
Branch 274; (c) The TSN of January 31, 1996 on pages 57, 58 and 69 suggest self-contradictions, inconsistencies and inherent improbabilities.175
that marked in evidence as Exhibits S, T and U by then Chief State Appellant Lejano likewise filed his comment, pointing out that the trial court
Prosecutor Jovencito Zuo were only the photographs of the three slides denied Webbs motion to direct the NBI to submit semen specimen for DNA
containing the semen specimen; (c) In the hearing of February 7, 1996, Dr. analysis on November 25, 1997 only after lengthy exchange of pleadings
Cabanayans last testimony before RTC Branch 274 in this case, he testified between the defense and prosecution, the latter having properly opposed said
that the last time he saw those slides was when he had the photographs thereof motion. Hence, the People cannot now rightfully claim that there was no notice
taken in 1995 (the first time was when he examined them in 1991), and as far or hearing on the issue of submitting the semen specimen for DNA analysis.
as he knows between 1991 and 1995, those slides were kept in the Pathology Citing Brady v. Maryland,176 Lejano contended that the suppression of
Laboratory of the NBI; and (d) The entire records of the cases were already exculpatory evidenceor evidence that will show reasonable probability that
forwarded to this Court a long time ago, including the evidence formally offered the verdict would have been different had the evidence been disclosedgrossly
by the prosecution and the accused.174 violates an accuseds right to due process. In this case, the evidence needs only
Under our Resolution of June 15, 2010, we required the NBI to (a) show to be subjected to DNA analysis to establish the innocence of appellant Webb,
proof of the release of the semen specimen to the RTC of Paraaque City, as well as of petitioner and appellant Lejano. It was further asserted that the
Branch 274 in 1996; and (b) comment on the alleged conflicting representations semen specimen was already existing at the time of the trial, and hence can
in its Compliance and Manifestation dated April 27, 2010, both within ten days hardly be considered as new evidence and that DNA testing of said semen
from notice. However, the NBI has not complied with said directive. specimen taken from the victim Carmela Vizconde has the scientific potential
In his Comment on the OSGs motion for reconsideration, appellant to produce new information that is relevant to the proper resolution of the case
Fernandez argued that when this Court, in the higher interest of justice, relaxed (Sec. 4 (d), Rule on DNA Evidence).177
On his part, appellant Webb stressed that there are exceptional Evidently, the NBI could no longer produce the semen specimen/vaginal
circumstances that justify this Courts order to immediately conduct the DNA smear taken from the cadaver of Carmela Vizconde and consequently DNA
analysis. He has been behind bars for more than fifteen (15) years. He has filed analysis of said physical evidence can no longer be done. Hence, this Court set
a motion for DNA analysis as early as 1997 or thirteen (13) years ago. The result aside the April 20, 2010 resolution and forthwith proceeded to resolve the
of such test could yield evidence that could acquit him while no damage will be present appeal on the basis of existing evidence which have been formally
suffered by the prosecution considering that this Court emphasized in its offered by the parties and/or made part of the records.
Resolution of April 20, 2010 that the prosecutions evidences and concerns _______________
regarding the proper preservation of evidence in the custody of the NBI
_______________ 178 See City Prosecution Office of General Santos City v. Bersales,A.M. No. MTJ-04-1552,
June 9, 2004, 431 SCRA 430, 436.
179 Id., at p. 432.
175 Id., at pp. 580-585.
281
176 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
177 Rollo (G.R. No. 176389), pp. 586-592. VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 281
280 Lejano vs. People
280 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED Appellant Webbs Urgent
Lejano vs. People Motion To Acquit
would have to be addressed in the light of the requirements laid down by With the recall of the order for DNA testing, appellant Webb moved for his
the Rule on DNA Evidence. As to the prosecutions argument that this Court acquittal on the ground of violation of his constitutional right to due process by
cannot receive and appreciate new evidence, Section 4 of the Rule states that reason of the States failure to produce the semen specimen, either through
the appropriate court may, at any time, either motu proprio or on application of negligence or willful suppression. Webb argues that the loss or suppression by
any person who has a legal interest in the matter in litigation, order a DNA the prosecution of the semen specimen denied him the right to avail of the latest
testing; DNA testing is even available post-conviction (Ibid, Sec. 6). This Court DNA technology and prove his innocence. Citing American jurisprudence
in accordance with proper procedure thus decided to receive DNA evidence in (Matter of Dabbs v. Vergari,180 California v. Trombetta181 and Brady v.
order not to further delay the case, appellants after all, were convicted more Maryland182), Webb contends that in disallowing the DNA examination he had
than ten (10) years ago in 2000 and have been incarcerated for fifteen (15) requested, the RTC denied him from presenting a complete defense through
years now. that singular piece of evidence that could have definitively established his
Webb further underscored that where the evidence has not been offered, it innocence, the trial court relying instead on the identification of Jessica Alfaro,
is the prosecution who should have the legal custody and responsibility over a perjured witness. The constitutional duty of the prosecution to turn over
it.178 The NBIs letter dated April 23, 1997 confirmed that the semen specimen exculpatory evidence to the accused includes the duty to preserve such
was in its custody. The NBIs repudiation of such fact is belied by the records; evidence.
the Prosecutions Formal Offer of Evidence shows that Exhibits S, T and U Webb maintains that the semen specimen extracted from the cadaver of
were merely photographs of the slides containing the vaginal smear. Also, Carmela had exculpatory value, as even NBIs Dr. Cabanayan testified during
nowhere in the transcript of stenographic notes taken during Dr. Cabanayans the hearing of February 7, 1996, that it was still possible to subject the same to
testimony was it shown that he turned over the actual slides to the trial court. DNA analysis to identify the person to whom the sperm belonged. Thus, a DNA
On the contrary, when Dr. Cabanayan was asked on February 6, 1996 to analysis of said semen specimen excluding appellant Webb as the source
produce the slides, which he had promised to bring during the previous hearing, thereof would disprove the prosecutions evidence against him. Further, Webb
he admitted that he forgot all about it when he came to the hearing. Thus, it points out that the prosecution considered the presence of spermatozoa on the
appears from the record that from the time the semen specimen was taken from body of Carmela as evidence that she was raped, offering the photographs of
Carmela Vizcondes cadaver, it has always been in the custody of the NBI.179 the glass slides containing the sperm cells as proof that she was in fact raped
on or about the late evening of June 29, 1991 or early morning of June 30, 1991.
But the only evidence of the prosecution that it was Webb who raped Carmela _______________
was the testimony of Alfaro which was given full credit by the RTC and CA
183 Id.
despite all its inconsistencies, and despite all documentary and testimonial 283
evidence VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 283
_______________
Lejano vs. People
180 149 Misc. 2d 844, 570 N.Y.S. 2d 765 (Sup. Ct. Westchester Co. 1990). In Matter of Dabbs v. Vergari,184 the court ordered DNA testing of specimen
181 467 U.S. 479 (1984). taken from a rape victim after the sexual assault and from the accused who was
182 373 U.S. 83 (1963).
282
convicted, DNA testing being unavailable at the time of the trial. Accused therein
282 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED was identified by the victim as her attacker. The court found the factual
circumstances clearly showed that the semen specimen could have come only
Lejano vs. People
from the accused. It noted that the witness testified that accused acted alone,
presented by the defense proving that Webb was at the United States at the had ejaculated and she did not have sexual intercourse with any other person
time the crime was committed. within 24 hours prior to the sexual assault. DNA testing ultimately revealed that
On the matter of preserving DNA evidence, Webb cites Section 12 of petitioners DNA composition did not match with that found on the victims
the Rule on DNA Evidence which authorizes the court to order the appropriate underwear. Consequently, the court granted petitioners subsequent motions to
government agency to preserve the DNA evidence during trial and even when vacate the judgment of conviction.
the accused is already serving sentence, until such time the decision of the court In California v. Trombetta,185 a case involving the prosecution for drunk
has become final and executory. While this Court has given Webb the best driving, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the
opportunity to prove his innocence in the order granting DNA analysis of the Constitution does not require that law enforcement agencies preserve breath
sperm specimen taken from Carmelas cadaver, such potentially exculpatory samples in order to introduce breath-analysis tests at trial.
evidence could not be produced by the State. Webb now claims that as a result Given our precedents in this area, we cannot agree with the California Court of
of the destruction or loss of evidence under the NBIs custody, he was effectively Appeal that the States failure to retain breath samples for respondents constitutes a
deprived of his right to present a complete defense, in violation of his violation of the Federal Constitution. To begin with, California authorities in this case
constitutional right to due process, thus entitling him to an acquittal. did not destroy respondents breath samples in a calculated effort to circumvent the
Loss of Semen Specimen disclosure requirements established by Brady v. Maryland and its progeny. In failing to
Not Ground For preserve breath samples for respondents, the officers here were acting in good faith
Acquittal of Webb and in accord with their normal practice. x x x The record contains no allegation of
Webbs argument that under the facts of this case and applying the cited official animus towards respondents or of a conscious effort to suppress exculpatory
rulings from American jurisprudence, he is entitled to acquittal on the ground of evidence.
More importantly, Californias policy of not preserving breath samples is without
violation of his constitutional right to due process, is without merit.
constitutional defect. Whatever duty the Constitution imposes on the States to preserve
In Brady v. Maryland183 it was held that the suppression by the prosecution evidence, that duty must be limited to evidence that might be expected to play a
of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where significant role in the suspects defense.
the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good To meet this standard of constitutional materiality, x x x evidence must both
faith or bad faith of the prosecution. In said case, the petitioner was convicted possess an exculpatory value that was apparent before the evidence was destroyed,
of murder committed in the course of robbery and sentenced to death. He later and be of such a nature that the defendant would be unable to
learned that the prosecution suppressed an extrajudicial confession made by _______________
his accomplice who admitted he did the actual killing. The US Supreme Court
184 Supra note 180.
granted a new trial and remanded the case but only on the question of 185 Supra note 181.
punishment. 284
284 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED transferred to the victims body during the assault. Forensic DNA evidence is helpful in
Lejano vs. People proving that there was physical contact between an assailant and a victim. If properly
collected from the victim, crime scene or assailant, DNA can be compared with known
obtain comparable evidence by other reasonably available means. Neither of these
samples to place the suspect at the scene of the crime.
conditions is met on the facts of this case. [italics supplied.]
The U.P. National Science Research Institute (NSRI), which conducted the DNA
From the above cases, it is clear that what is crucial is the requirement of tests in this case, used the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification method by
materiality of the semen specimen sought for DNA testing. Appellant Webb Short Tandem Repeat (STR) analysis. With PCR testing, tiny amounts of a specific
must be able to demonstrate a reasonable probability that the DNA sample DNA sequence can be copied exponentially within hours. Thus, getting sufficient DNA
would prove his innocence. Evidence is material where there is reasonable for analysis has become much easier since it became possible to reliably amplify small
probability that, had the evidence been disclosed to the defense, the result of samples using the PCR method.
the proceeding would have been different.186 In assessing the probative value of DNA evidence, courts should
In People v. Yatar,187 decided before the promulgation of the Rule on DNA consider, inter alia, the following factors: how the samples were collected, how they
Evidence, the Court expounded on the nature of DNA evidence and the factors were handled, the possibility of contamination of the samples, the procedure followed
to be considered in assessing its probative value in the context of scientific and in analyzing the samples, whether the proper standards and procedures were followed
legal developments. The proper judicial approach is founded on the in conducting the tests, and the qualification of the analyst who conducted the tests.
In the case at bar, Dr. Maria Corazon Abogado de Ungria was duly qualified by the
concurrence of relevancy and reliability.Most important, forensic identification
prosecution as an expert witness on DNA print or identification techniques. Based on
though useful does not preclude independent evidence of identification. Dr. de Ungrias testimony, it was determined that the gene type and DNA profile of
DNA is a molecule that encodes the genetic information in all living organisms. A
appellant are identical to that of the extracts subject of examination. The blood sample
persons DNA is the same in each cell and it does not change throughout a persons taken from the appellant showed that he was of the following gene types: vWA 15/19,
lifetime; the DNA in a persons blood is the same as the DNA found in his saliva, sweat,
TH01 7/8, DHFRP2 9/10 and CSF1PO 10/11, which are identical with semen taken
bone, the root and shaft of hair, earwax, mucus, urine, skin tissue, and vaginal and from the victims vaginal canal. Verily, a DNA match exists between the semen found
rectal cells. Most importantly, because of polymorphisms in human genetic structure, in the victim and the blood sample given by the appellant in open court during the
no two individuals have the same DNA, with the notable exception of identical twins.
course of the trial.
DNA print or identification technology has been advanced as a uniquely effective Admittedly, we are just beginning to integrate these advances in science and
means to link a suspect to a crime, or to exonerate a wrongly accused suspect, where
technology in the Philippine criminal justice system, so we must be cautious as we
biological evidence has been left. For purposes of criminal investigation, DNA traverse these relatively unchartered waters. Fortunately, we can benefit from the
identification is a fertile source of both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. It wealth of persuasive jurisprudence that has developed in other jurisdictions.
can assist immensely in effecting a more accurate account of the crime committed,
Specifically, the prevailing doctrine in the U.S. has proven instructive.
efficiently facilitating the conviction of the guilty, securing the acquittal of the innocent, In Daubert v. Merrell Dow, it was ruled that pertinent evidence based on
and ensuring the proper administration of justice in every case.
scientifically valid principles could be used as long as it
DNA evidence collected from a crime scene can link a suspect to a crime or 286
eliminate one from suspicion in the same principle as fingerprints are 286 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
_______________
Lejano vs. People
186 Matter of Dabbs v. Vergari, supra. was relevant and reliable. Judges, under Daubert, were allowed greater discretion
187 G.R. No. 150224, May 19, 2004, 428 SCRA 504. over which testimony they would allow at trial, including the introduction of new kinds
285
of scientific techniques. DNA typing is one such novel procedure.
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 285 Under Philippine law, evidence is relevant when it relates directly to a fact in
Lejano vs. People issue as to induce belief in its existence or non-existence. Applying
used. Incidents involving sexual assault would leave biological evidence such as hair, the Daubert test to the case at bar, the DNA evidence obtained through PCR testing
skin tissue, semen, blood, or saliva which can be left on the victims body or at the and utilizing STR analysis, and which was appreciated by the court a quo is relevant
crime scene. Hair and fiber from clothing, carpets, bedding, or furniture could also be
and reliable since it is reasonably based on scientifically valid principles of human We hold that the source of the semen extracted from the vaginal cavity of
genetics and molecular biology. the deceased victim is immaterial in determining Webbs guilt. From the totality
Independently of the physical evidence of appellants semen found in the of the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense, Webb was
victims vaginal canal, the trial court appreciated the following circumstantial positively identified as Carmelas rapist.
evidence as being sufficient to sustain a conviction beyond reasonable doubt:(1)
As the records bear out, the positive identification of appellant Webb as
Appellant and his wife were living in the house of Isabel Dawang together with the
victim, Kathylyn Uba; (2) In June 1998, appellants wife left the house because of their
Carmelas rapist satisfied the test of moral certainty, and the prosecution had
frequent quarrels; (3) Appellant received from the victim, Kathylyn Uba, a letter from equally established beyond reasonable doubt the fact of rape and the unlawful
his estranged wife in the early morning of June 30, 1998; (4) Appellant was seen by killing of Carmela, Estrellita and Jennifer on the occasion thereof. Even
Apolonia Wania and Beverly Denneng at 1:00 p.m. of June 30, 1998 near the kitchen assuming that the DNA analysis of the semen specimen taken from Carmelas
of the house of Isabel Dawang, acting strangely and wearing a dirty white shirt with body hours after her death excludes Webb as the source thereof, it will not
collar; (5) Judilyn Pas-a saw appellant going down the ladder of the house of Isabel at exonerate him from the crime charged. Alfaro did not testify that Webb had
12:30 p.m., wearing a dirty white shirt, and again at 1:30 p.m., this time wearing a black ejaculated or did not use a condom while raping Carmela. She testified that she
shirt; (6) Appellant hurriedly left when the husband of Judilyn Pas-a was approaching; saw Webb rape Carmela and it was only him she had witnessed to have
(7) Salmalina Tandagan saw appellant in a dirty white shirt coming down the ladder of committed the rape inside the Vizconde residence between late evening of June
the house of Isabel on the day Kathylyn Uba was found dead; (8) The door leading to 29, 1991 and early morning of June 30, 1991. Moreover, she did not testify that
the second floor of the house of Isabel Dawang was tied by a rope; (9) The victim,
Carmela had no sexual relations with any other man at least 24 hours prior to
Kathylyn Uba, lay naked in a pool of blood with her intestines protruding from her body
on the second floor of the house of Isabel Dawang, with her stained pants, bra,
that time. On the other hand, a positive result of DNA examination of the semen
underwear and shoes scattered along the periphery; (10) Laboratory examination specimen ex-
_______________
revealed sperm in the victims vagina (Exhibits H and J); (11) The stained or dirty
white shirt found in the crime scene was found to be positive with blood; (12) DNA of 189 A Litigators Guide to DNA from the Laboratory to the Courtroom by Ron C. Michaelis,
slide, Exhibits J and H, compared with the DNA profile of the appellant are identical; Robert G. Flanders, Jr. and Paula H. Wulff, 2008 published by Elsevier Inc., p. 370.
and (13) Appellant escaped two days after he was detained but was subsequently 288
apprehended, such flight being indicative of guilt.188 [emphasis supplied.] 288 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
_______________
Lejano vs. People
188 Id., at pp. 514-517. tracted by Dr. Cabanayan from Carmelas cadaver would merely serve as
287 corroborative evidence.
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 287 As to the loss of the semen specimen in the custody of the NBI, appellant
Lejano vs. People Webbs contention that this would entitle him to an acquittal on the basis
Indeed, in other jurisdictions it has been recognized that DNA test results of Brady v. Maryland is misplaced.
are not always exculpatory. In Arizona v. Youngblood,190 a 10-year old boy was molested and sodomized
Postconviction test results are not always exculpatory. In addition, exculpatory test by the accused, a middle-aged man, for 1 hours. After the assault, the boy
results will not necessarily free the convicted individual. If the evidence does exclude was examined in a hospital where the physician used swab to collect specimen
the petitioner, the court must weigh the significance of the exclusion in relation to all from the boys rectum and mouth, but did not examine them at anytime. These
the other evidence. Convicted offenders often believe that if crime scene evidence does samples were refrigerated but the boys clothing was not. Accused was
not contain their DNA they will automatically be exonerated. Not finding the petitioners identified by the victim in a photographic lineup and was convicted of child
DNA does not automatically indicate the case should be overturned, however. In a rape molestation, sexual assault and kidnapping. During the trial, expert witnesses
case, for example, the perpetrator may have worn a condom, or not ejaculated. In some
had testified that timely performance of tests with properly preserved semen
cases, the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of the defendants absence
or lack of involvement in the crime189
samples could have produced results that might have completely exonerated recent order for DNA testing. The prosecution did not conceal at anytime the
the accused. The Court held: existence of those vaginal swab and glass slide containing the vaginal smear.
There is no question but that the State complied with Brady and Agurs here. Curiously, despite Dr. Cabanayans admission during the hearing that it was still
The State disclosed relevant police reports to respondent, which contained possible to subject the semen specimen to DNA analysis, the defense never
information about the existence of the swab and the clothing, and the boys raised the issue thereafter and resurrected the matter only in October 1997
examination at the hospital. The State provided respondents expert with the laboratory when Webbs counsel filed his motion.
reports and notes prepared by the police criminologist, and respondents expert had
It bears to stress that the vaginal smear itself was not formally offered by the
access to the swab and to the clothing.
xxxx
prosecution, but only the photographs of the glass slide containing the semen
The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as interpreted in Brady, specimen for the purpose only of proving that Carmela was in fact raped and
makes the good or bad faith of the State irrelevant when the State fails to disclose to not that Webb was the source of the sperm/semen. As noted by the RTC when
the defendant material exculpatory evidence. But we think the Due Process Clause it denied Webbs motion for DNA on November 25, 1997, prevailing
requires a different result when we deal with the failure of the State to preserve jurisprudence stated that DNA being a relatively new science then, has not yet
evidentiary material of which no more can be said than that it could have been been accorded official recognition by our courts. The RTC also considered the
subjected to tests, the results of which might have exonerated the defendant. x x x We more than six (6) years that have elapsed since the commission of the crime in
think that requiring a defendant to show bad faith on the part of the police both limits June 1991, thus the possibility of the specimen having been tampered with or
the extent of the polices obligation to preserve evidence to reasonable bounds and contaminated. Acting on reasonable belief that the proposed DNA examination
confines it to that class of cases where the interests of justice most clearly require will not serve the ends of justice but
it, i.e., those cases in which the police themselves by their conduct indicate that the 290
_______________
290 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
190 488 U.S. 51 (1988), 102 L Ed 281, 109 S Ct 333. Lejano vs. People
289 instead lead to complication and confusion of the issues of the case, the trial
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 289 court properly denied Webbs request for DNA testing.
Lejano vs. People We thus reiterate that the vaginal smear confirming the presence of
evidence could form a basis for exonerating the defendant. We therefore hold spermatozoa merely corroborated Alfaros testimony that Carmela was raped
that unless a criminal defendant can show bad faith on the part of the police, before she was killed. Indeed, the presence or absence of spermatozoa is
failure to preserve potentially useful evidence does not constitute a denial of due immaterial in a prosecution for rape. The important consideration in rape cases
process of law.
is not the emission of semen but the unlawful penetration of the female genitalia
In this case, the police collected the rectal swab and clothing on the night of the
crime: respondent was not taken into custody until six weeks later. The failure of the
by the male organ.191 On the other hand, a negative result of DNA examination
police to refrigerate the clothing and to perform tests on the semen samples can of the semen specimen could not have exonerated Webb of the crime charged
at worst be described as negligent. None of this information was concealed from as his identity as a principal in the rape-slay of Carmela was satisfactorily
respondent at trial, and the evidencesuch as it waswas made available to established by the totality of the evidence. A finding that the semen specimen
respondents expert who declined to perform any tests on the samples. The did not match Webbs DNA does not necessarily negate his presence at
Arizona Court of Appeals noted in its opinionand we agreethat there was no the locus criminis.
suggestion of bad faith on the part of the police. It follows, therefore, from what Civil Liability of Appellants
we have said, thatthere was no violation of the Due Process Clause. [emphasis The Court sustains the award of P100,000.00 as civil indemnity, pursuant to
supplied.] current jurisprudence that in cases of rape with homicide, civil indemnity in the
In this case, there is no showing of bad faith on the part of the police amount of P100,000.00 should be awarded to the heirs of the victim.192 Civil
investigators, specifically the NBI, for the non-production of the vaginal swab indemnity is mandatory and granted to the heirs of the victims without need of
and glass slide containing the semen specimen, during the trial and upon our proof other than the commission of the crime. For the deaths of Estrellita and
Jennifer, the award of civil indemnity ex delicto to their heirs, was likewise in The duty of the prosecution is not merely to secure a conviction, but
order, in the amount of P50,000.00 each.193 Following People v. Dela Cruz,194 to secure a just conviction.
_______________ This highly publicized case became the center of the nations attention
owing to the public outrage over the atrocious nature of the crime committed in
191 People v. Bato, G.R. No. 134939, February 16, 2000, 325 SCRA 671, 678, citing People v.
Juntilla, G.R. No. 130604, September 16, 1999, 314 SCRA 568, 583; People v. Sacapao, G.R. No. what was then thought to be a relatively secure
130525, September 3, 1999, 313 SCRA 650, 659; and People v. Manuel, G.R. No. 121539, October _______________
21, 1998, 298 SCRA 184.
192 People v. Pascual, G.R. No. 172326, January 19, 2009, 576 SCRA 242, 260, citing People 195 People v. Arellano, G.R. No. 176640, August 22, 2008, 563 SCRA 181, 189.
v. Sevilleno, G.R. No. 152954, March 10, 2004, 425 SCRA 247, 257. 196 Id.
193 Nueva Espaa v. People, G.R. No. 163351, June 21, 2005, 460 SCRA 547, 555-556, 197 People v. Pascual, supra at pp. 260-261.
citing People v. Opuran, G.R. Nos. 147674-75, March 17, 2004, 425 SCRA 654, 673. 198 Nueva Espaa v. People, supra at p. 558.
194 G.R. No. 166723, August 2, 2007, 529 SCRA 109, 118. 292
291 292 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 291 Lejano vs. People
Lejano vs. People neighborhood. Worse, it brought inconsolable grief to a husband and father who
P75,000.00 civil indemnity and P75,000 moral damages in rape cases are lost his entire family to senseless violence while he was working overseas.
awarded only if they are classified as heinous.195 As the rape-slay of Carmela Events soon after the occurrence of the crime on 30 June 1991 would only help
took place in 1991, R.A. No. 7659 entitled AN ACT TO IMPOSE DEATH fuel civic indignation. Just two days thereafter, or on 2 July 1991, La Salle
PENALTY ON CERTAIN HEINOUS CRIMES, AMENDING FOR THAT Engineering student Eldon Maguan was gunned down in cold blood by
PURPOSE THE REVISED PENAL LAWS, AS AMENDED, OTHER SPECIAL businessman Rolito Go over a parking skirmish in San Juan.1 After the lapse of
PENAL LAWS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES, which was approved on only 11 days, young Maureen Hultman and Roland John Chapman were fatally
December 13, 1993 and was to become effective fifteen (15) days after its shot by Claudio Teehankee, Jr. in Dasmarinas Village after a minor scuffle.2
publication in two national newspapers of general circulation, was not yet The vehement outcry to find and punish those responsible for the Vizconde
effective.196 horror initially led, four months after, to the arrest and eventual filing by the
As to moral damages, recent jurisprudence allows the amount of prosecution of Information for two counts of robbery with homicide and one
P75,000.00 to be awarded in cases of rape with homicide.197 We find the amount count of robbery with rape against six named and an undetermined number of
of P2,000,000.00 as moral damages awarded by the RTC as affirmed by the unnamed persons touted as members of the Akyat Bahay gang. In view of the
CA, rather excessive. While courts have a wide latitude in ascertaining the illegal arrests of the accused and noncompliance with the requirements for
proper award for moral damages, the award should not be to such an extent conducting custodial investigation, including evidence of torture in extracting
that it inflicts injustice on the accused.198 The award of P2,000,000.00 as moral confessions from the accused, the trial court in its 1993 Decision3pronounced
damages to the heir of the victims should accordingly be reduced to the accused not guilty of the charges. During the same year (1993), another set
P500,000.00. The rest of the awards given by the trial court are affirmed. of suspects (apparently former contractors/workers of the Vizcondes) was
In view of the foregoing, I respectfully vote that the appeals in the above- identified, only to be released later on due to insufficiency of evidence.4
entitled cases be DISMISSED and the Decision dated December 15, 2005 of Almost four years after the crime was committed, self-confessed drug user
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR H.C. No. 00336 be AFFIRMED with Jessica Alfaro (Alfaro) named young men from wealthy and powerful families
MODIFICATION only as to the award of damages. as perpetrators of the crime, which she claimed to have witnessed, thereby
tantalizing a sympathetic public with ideal visions of justiceof morally
SEPARATE CONCURRING OPINION depraved offenders finally caught and no longer able to wreck random havoc
on the lives of law-abiding
SERENO, J.: _______________
1 Go v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 101837, 11 February 1992, 206 SCRA 138. 6 Tan v. Gallardo, G.R. Nos. L-41213-14 October 5, 1976, 73 SCRA 306, citing Suarez v. Platon,
2 People v. Teehankee, Jr., G.R. Nos. 111206-08, 6 October 1995, 319 Phil.128; 249 SCRA 54 et al., 69 Phil. 556 (1940).
(1995). 294
3 Decision dated 13 September 1993 issued by the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 63 294 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
in Criminal Case Nos. 91-7135 to 37.
4 Lejano v. People, G.R. Nos. 176389 and 176864, 20 April 2010. Lejano vs. People
293 question then, is not what will make the prospect of a conviction more
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 293 certain, but what is fair and what will contribute to justice.7
Lejano vs. People Thus, a criminal trial is not about personal redress for the victims, but about
citizens; of privileged perpetrators subjected to the rule of law no matter how determining the guilt and the just punishment of the accused.8 What is in truth
high and mighty; of bereaved families brought a measure of comfort for the referred to when expanding on the concept of fair trial is that the rights of the
vindication of wasted young lives. accused are protected, to the extent necessary to ensure fairness for him.
However, there was little objective forensic evidence obtained from the Rights of the victim are not ignored, but they are respected only to the extent
crime scene due to deplorable missteps taken by the investigating police that they are consistent with the fairness of the trial for the accused.9
officers. Consequently, Senior Police Officer 1 Gerardo Biong and some John In Allado V. Diokno,10 we also elucidated this delicate balancing of interests
Does were charged as accessories to the crime for conceal[ing] and in the following manner:
destroy[ing] the effects or instruments thereof by failing to preserve the physical The sovereign power has the inherent right to protect itself and its people from
evidence and allowing their destruction in order to prevent the discovery of the vicious acts which endanger the proper administration of justice; hence, the State has
every right to prosecute and punish violators of the law. This is essential for its self-
crime.5
preservation, nay, its very existence. But this does not confer a license for pointless
A review of the proceedings during preliminary investigation and trial assaults on its citizens. The right of the State to prosecute is not a carte blanche for
showed that the prosecution did not fare much better, for it committed acts of government agents to defy and disregard the rights of its citizens under the
prosecutorial misconduct that effectively deprived the accused of their Constitution. Confinement, regardless of duration, is too high a price to pay for reckless
constitutionally guaranteed right to due process. and impulsive prosecution. Hence, even if we apply in this case the multifactor
At the outset, it cannot be overemphasized that the prosecuting officer is balancing test which requires the officer to weigh the manner and intensity of the
the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty interference on the right of the people, the gravity of the crime committed and the
whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to circumstances attending the incident, still we cannot see probable cause to order the
govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that detention of petitioners.
it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the people against arbitrary and
and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that discriminatory use of political power. This bundle of rights guarantees the preservation
of our natural rights which include personal liberty and security against invasion by the
guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness
government or any of its branches or instrumentalities. Certainly, in the hierarchy of
and vigorindeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is rights, the Bill of Rights takes precedence over the right of the State to prosecute, and
not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper when weighed against each other, the scales of justice tilt towards the former. Thus,
methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every relief may be availed of to stop the purported enforcement of criminal law where it
legitimate means to bring about a just one.6 _______________
In the words of Richard Refshauge: The adversarial system is rooted in
the notion of a contest with winners and losers, yet the prosecutor is ethically 7 The Prosecution Role in Upholding the Right to a Fair Trial and Responding to Victims/Witnesses,
The Prosecutor Papers, November 2005 at p. 10.
forbidden from embracing that notion. The 8 R v. Boucher, (1954) S.C.R. 16.
_______________ 9 Stuart, Don, Charter Justice in Canadian Criminal Law, 2001, p. 7.
10 G.R. No. 113630, 5 May 1994, 232 SCRA 192.
5 Information, Regional Trial Court Rollo, vol. 1, p. 34. 295
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 295 Issuance of Prejudicial Comments
Lejano vs. People About the Accused
is necessary to provide for an orderly administration of justice, to prevent the use of the Section 14(2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution emphatically mandates:
strong arm of the law in an oppressive and vindictive manner, and to afford adequate Section 14. (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due
protection to constitutional rights. process of law.
Let this then be a constant reminder to judges, prosecutors and other government (2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the
agents tasked with the enforcement of the law that in the performance of their duties contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be
they must act with circumspection, lest their thoughtless ways, methods and practices informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy,
cause a disservice to their office and maim their countrymen they are sworn to serve impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory
and protect. We thus caution government agents, particularly the law enforcers, to be process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his
more prudent in the prosecution of cases and not to be oblivious of human rights behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of
protected by the fundamental law. While we greatly applaud their determined efforts to the accused: Provided, that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is
weed society of felons, let not their impetuous eagerness violate constitutional precepts unjustifiable. (Underscoring supplied.)
which circumscribe the structure of a civilized community. The presumption of innocence of the accused is at the center of our criminal
Indeed, at the core of our criminal justice system is the presumption of justice systemthe cornerstone, as it were, of all the other rights accorded to
innocence of the accused until proven guilty. Lip service to this ideal is not the accused, including the right to due process of law. In pronouncing the
enough, as our people are well acquainted with the painful reality that the rights presumption of innocence of the accused and their right to due process, the
of the accused to a fair trial were violated with impunity by an unchecked Constitution declares that the risk of letting the guilty walk free would be error
authority in our not so distant history. In response, the rights of the accused on the side of justice. This outcome is infinitely better than imprisoning an
were enshrined in no less than the 1987 Constitution, particularly Article III innocent person.
thereof. They are further bolstered by the Rules of Court, related legislation, Because the accused must be presumed innocent, and because they are
general rules on evidence, and rules on ethical conduct. entitled to due process of law, it is the duty of the prosecution not to issue
The said rights of the accused come with the corresponding duties, nay, prejudicial statements about them while the trial is being conducted. This
guarantees on the part of the State, the prosecution in particular. The standard applies with even more force to the trial judge who must at all times
prosecutions disregard of these standards amounts to prosecutorial not only be impartial, but also appear to be so.12
misconduct. Allegations of issuance of prejudicial comments about the accused in this
Some examples of prosecutorial misconduct would be the intimidation of case pertained to the acts of the trial judge, and not the prosecution. When
defense witnesses, the obstruction of defense lawyers access to prosecution allegations of instances of the trial judges bias were first brought to this Court,
witnesses, the coercion of confession from the accused, the issuance of it was understandable that the Court
prejudicial comments about the accused, the mishandling and/or withholding of _______________
evidence, and the failure to preserve evidence.11 12 Montemayor v. Bermejo, Jr., A.M. No. MTJ-04-1535, 12 March 2004, 425 SCRA 403.
_______________
297
11 Cramm, Paul, D. The Perils of Prosecutorial Misconduct, http://www. 24- VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 297
7pressrelease.com/press-release/theperils-of-prosecutorial-misconduct-102380.php accessed on Lejano vs. People
10 December 2010. would accord the judge the presumption of regularity in the performance of her
296
duties. Her subsequent acts, however, as well as her Decisiontaken
296 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
togethershowed a pattern now recognizable in retrospect as bias against the
Lejano vs. People accused, amounting to denial of due process.
In Webb, et al. v. People,13 the accused assailed the Court of Appeals for Accused then filed a Motion to disqualify Judge Tolentino or inhibit herself
denying their Petition for the inhibition from the case of Judge Amelita Tolentino, from the case due to bias and prejudice, but she denied the Motion.
the presiding judge of Branch 274 of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque. The accused thus assailed before this Court [1] the Order of judge Tolentino
Webbs first Motion for the disqualification of Judge Tolentino, filed prior to denying Webbs motion for hospitalization; and [2] the Order of Judge Tolentino
their arraignment, was anchored on the ground that the said judge had allegedly disallowing the defense to cross-examine Alfaro on the contents of her April 28
told the media that failure of the accused to surrender following the issuance affidavit.
of the warrant of arrest is an indication of guilt. This motion was denied by Accused later filed with this Court a Supplemental Petition to set aside Judge
Judge Tolentino. Two days later, Webb filed a second motion to disqualify her. Tolentinos Order denying their Motion for inhibition.
Allegedly, she had further told the media that the accused should not expect This Court resolved to refer the petitions to the Court of Appeals for proper
the comforts of home, pending the resolution of his Motion to be committed to disposition.
the custody of the Philippine National Police at Camp Ricardo Papa, Bicutan, In the meantime, the hearing on the accuseds Petitions for bail continued,
Paraaque. The judge again denied the Motion. Gerardo Biong also filed a with petitioner Webb filing a motion for deposition of witnesses residing in the
motion to disqualify her on the ground of bias and partiality, but this Motion was United States, who would testify on his presence in that country on the date of
also denied. the commission of the crime. This Petition was denied by Judge Tolentino on
Thereafter, at the hearing for the accuseds Petitions for bail during which the ground that petitioner failed to allege that the witnesses did not have the
the prosecution presented Jessica Alfaro, Judge Tolentino issued an Order. The means to go to the place of the trial. Petitioner Webb filed another Supplemental
judge ruled that Alfaro could not be cross-examined on the contents of the Petition to the Court of Appeals challenging the said Order.
latters April 28 Affidavit. The affidavit was held to be inadmissible in evidence, The defense made their Formal Offer of Evidence upon conclusion of the
as it was allegedly not executed in the presence of a counsel. hearings on the Petitions for bail. The prosecution filed its Comment/Objection
Alfaro was asked about her brother Patrick Alfaro and her uncle Robert to the Formal Offer of Evidence. Judge Tolentino ruled on the accuseds formal
Alfaro. She admitted that her brother was a drug addict and had been arrested offer of evidence, admitting only ten [10] out of the one hundred forty-two [142]
by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for illegal drug possession. She exhibits offered by the defense. Subsequently, the judge denied the accuseds
further claimed that her brother was now in the United States. The prosecution Petitions for bail.299
objected to further questions regarding the arrest and departure of Alfaros VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 299
brother on the ground that it was irrelevant, immaterial and impertinent for cross- Lejano vs. People
examination. Despite the defense counsels explanation that the ques- The Court of Appeals rendered its Decision on the various Petitions and
_______________
Supplemental Petitions, reversing Judge Tolentinos refusal to admit Alfaros
13 G.R. No. 127262, 24 July 1997, 276 SCRA 243; 342 Phil. 206. April 28 Affidavit. The appellate court, however, denied all the other reliefs
298 prayed for. The accused thus elevated the matter to this Court.
298 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED They subsequently filed a Supplemental Petition, alleging, among others,
Lejano vs. People that during the trial on the merits, Judge Tolentino had allowed prosecution
tions were for the purpose of establishing Alfaros bias and motive for testifying witness Atty. Pedro Rivera to testify on the character of the accused, although
against the accused, the trial court sustained the objection. the defense had not put his character in issue; that the judge disallowed the
Similar objections on the ground of irrelevance, immateriality and defense to impeach the credibility of Atty. Rivera by the presentation of an
impertinence were sustained by the trial court when the defense counsel cross- earlier statement executed by him, on the ground that his statement was
examined Alfaro on her educational attainment. Prior to the cross-examination, immaterial; and that, after ruling that the proffer of oral evidence made by
Alfaro was shown her transcript of records indicating her completion of only one defense counsel Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre was improper on cross-examination,
academic year, thus earning nine units of college. Judge Tolentino struck the proffer from the record.
We affirmed the Court of Appeals disposition, explaining as follows: We hasten to stress that a party aggrieved by erroneous interlocutory rulings in the
A critical component of due process is a hearing before an impartial and course of a trial is not without remedy. The range of remedy is provided in our Rules of
disinterested tribunal [and] every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the cold Court and we need not make an elongated discourse on the subject. But certainly, the
neutrality of an impartial judge for all the other elements of due process, like notice and remedy for erroneous rulings, absent any extrinsic evidence of malice or bad faith, is
hearing, would be meaningless if the ultimate decision would come from a partial and not the outright disqualification of the judge. For there is yet to come a judge with the
biased judge. [However, t]his right must be weighed with the duty of a judge to decide omniscience to issue rulings that are always infallible. The courts will close shop if we
cases without fear of repression. Hence, to disqualify a judge on the ground of bias and disqualify judges who err for we all err.
prejudice the movant must prove the same by clear and convincing evidence. Mishandling and/or Withholding of Evidence
As a general rule, repeated rulings against a litigant, no matter how erroneous and The rights of the accused to have compulsory process to secure the
vigorously and consistently expressed, are not a basis for disqualification of a judge on production of evidence on their behalf is a right enshrined in no less than our
grounds of bias and prejudice. Extrinsic evidence is required to establish bias, bad faith, Constitution, particularly Article III, Section 14 thereof, to wit:301
malice or corrupt purpose, in addition to the palpable error which may be inferred from
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 301
the decision or order itself. Although the decision may seem so erroneous as to raise
doubts concerning a judges integrity, absent extrinsic evidence, the decision itself Lejano vs. People
would be insufficient to establish a case against the judge. The only exception to the Section 14:
rule is when the error is so gross and patent as to produce an ineluctable inference of (1) No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of
bad faith or malice. law.
A perusal of the records will reveal that petitioners failed to adduce any extrinsic (2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the
evidence to prove that respondent judge was motivated by malice or contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be
300 informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, to have a speedy,
300 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory
process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his
Lejano vs. People
behalf. xxx (Underscoring supplied.)
bad faith in issuing the assailed rulings. Petitioners simply lean on the alleged series of
adverse rulings of the respondent judge which they characterized as palpable errors.
This right is echoed and further fleshed out in the Rules of Criminal
This is not enough. We note that respondent judges rulings resolving the various Procedure. Rule 115, Section 1 thereof, provides:
motions filed by petitioners were all made after considering the arguments raised by all SECTION 1. Rights of accused at the trial.In all criminal prosecutions, the
the parties. It is true that the respondent judge erred in some of her rulings such as her accused shall be entitled to the following rights:
rejection of petitioners one hundred thirty two pieces of evidence. It appears, however, (a) To be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved beyond reasonable doubt.
that respondent judge reversed this erroneous ruling and already admitted these 132 (b) To be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.
pieces of evidence after finding that the defects in [their] admissibility have been cured (c) To be present and defend in person and by counsel at every stage of the
through the introduction of additional evidence during the trial on the merits. This proceedings, from arraignment to promulgation of the judgment. The accused may,
correction diminishes the strength of petitioners charge that respondent judge is however, waive his presence at the trial pursuant to the stipulations set forth in his tail,
hopelessly biased against them. unless his presence is specifically ordered by the court for purposes of identification.
There is still another reason why we should observe caution in disqualifying The absence of the accused without justifiable cause at the trial of which he had notice
respondent judge. The trial of the petitioners is about to end and to assign a new judge shall be considered a waiver of his right to be present thereat. When an accused under
to determine the guilt or innocence of petitioners will not be for the best interest of custody escapes, he shall be deemed to have waived his right to be present on all
justice. The records of the case at bar run into volumes. These voluminous records subsequent trial dates until custody over him is regained. Upon motion, the accused
cannot capture in print the complete credibility of witnesses when they testified in court. may be allowed to defend himself in person when it sufficiently appears to the court
As the respondent judge observed the demeanor of witnesses while in the witness that he can properly protect his rights without the assistance of counsel.
chair, she is in the best position to calibrate their credibility. The task of evaluating the (d) To testify as a witness in his own behalf but subject to cross-examination on
credibility of witnesses includes interpreting their body language and their meaningful matters covered by direct examination. His silence shall not in any manner prejudice
nuances are not expressed in the transcripts of their testimonies. him.
(e) To be exempt from being compelled to be a witness against himself. 303
(f) To confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him at the trial. Either party VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 303
may utilize as part of its evidence the testimony of a witness who is deceased, out of Lejano vs. People
or can not with due diligence be found in the Philippines, unavailable, or otherwise this earlier Sworn Statement, Alfaro declared that she had never met Carmela
unable to testify, given in another case or
302
before that fateful night; that she did not know why the accused wanted to enter
302 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED the Vizconde house, except that they were after Carmela; that the accused
entered the premises by jumping over the fence; that she did not know how the
Lejano vs. People
accused were able to enter the house, as she was about ten (10) meters away
proceeding, judicial or administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter,
the adverse party having the opportunity to cross-examine him. from the kitchen door; that she did not know who opened that door for the
(g) To have compulsory process issued to secure the attendance of witnesses and accused, but hinted that one of the maids must have done it since Estrellita and
production of other evidence in his behalf. Carmela were tied; and that she had no idea what transpired in the house until
(h) To have speedy, impartial and public trial. they left the area.
(i) To appeal in all cases allowed and in the manner prescribed by law. (Underscoring This Statement contradicted salient points in Alfaros 22 May 1995 Sworn
supplied.) Statement, which was the basis of the NBIs complaint. In her 22 May 1995
Section 10, Rule 116 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, in fact further Sworn Statement, Alfaro claimed to have known Carmela since February 1991;
mandates: that the group decided to rape Carmela when Alfaro informed Webb that
SEC. 10. Production or inspection of material evidence in possession of Carmela had dropped off a man who appeared to be her boyfriend; that Carmela
prosecution.Upon motion of the accused showing good cause and with notice to the left open the gate through which they entered the premises freely; that Alfaro
parties, the court, in order to prevent surprise, suppression, or alteration, may order the led the group in entering the kitchen door; that she witnessed the rape of
prosecution to produce and permit the inspection and copying or photographing of any Carmela by Webb and also saw the bodies of Estrellita and Jennifer piled up on
written statement given by the complainant and other witnesses in any investigation of
the bed.
the offense conducted by the prosecution or other investigating officers, as well as any
designated documents, papers, books, accounts, letters, photographs, objects, or The NBI explained that they produced a mere photocopy of the 28 April 1995
tangible things not otherwise privileged, which constitute or contain evidence material Sworn Statement, because the original was lost. When the DOJ Panel refused
to any matter involved in the case and which are in possession or under the control of to issue a subpoena duces tecum to Atty. Mercader, the accused filed a case
the prosecution, police, or other law investigating agencies. (Underscoring supplied.) with the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 63, to obtain the original of the
Thus, the accuseds right of access to evidence requires the correlative duty first Sworn Statement. Atty. Mercader then appeared and produced before the
of the prosecution to produce and permit the inspection of the evidence, and not trial court the original Sworn Statement of Alfaro dated 28 April 1995, which also
to suppress or alter it. contained his signature. Webb retained a certified true copy of the first Sworn
Applying this standard to the present case, it is notable that during Statement (certified by Assistant State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuno), while the
preliminary investigation, the NBI presented to the Department of Justice (DOJ) duplicate original copy thereof was submitted to the DOJ Panel.
Panel, among others, the Sworn Statement of their principal witness, Alfaro, The DOJ Panel still found probable cause to charge the accused and on 10
dated 22 May 1995. Before submitting his Counter-Affidavit, Webb filed with the August 1995, an Information for Rape with Homicide was filed with the Regional
DOJ Panel a Motion for Production and Examination of Evidence and Trial Court of Paraaque against Webb, et al. It was raffled to Branch 274,
Documents for the NBI to produce, among others, any other written statements presided by Judge Amelita Tolentino, who thereupon issued warrants for their
of Alfaro. arrest.304
The DOJ Panel granted the Motion, and the NBI submitted a mere 304 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
photocopy of an earlier Sworn Statement of Alfaro dated 28 April 1995. The Lejano vs. People
Statement did not appear to be signed by Alfaros counsel of choice, named as
Atty. Arturo Mercader, Jr., in the same document. In
Webb et al. came to this Court to assail the DOJ Panels finding and the trial investigation of a potential accused. It is also implicit in Section (3) (a) of Rule 112
courts issuance of warrants for their arrest. We upheld the right of petitioners which requires during the preliminary investigation the filing of a sworn complaint which
to compel the NBI to disclose exculpatory evidence in their favor: shall . . . state the known address of the respondent and be accompanied by affidavits
Further, petitioners charge the NBI with violating their right to discovery of the complainant and his witnesses as well as other supporting documents . . . .
proceedings during their preliminary investigation by suppressing the April 28, 1995 In laying down this rule, the Court is not without enlightened precedents from other
original copy of the sworn statement of Alfaro and the FBI Report. The argument is jurisdictions. In the 1963 watershed case of Brady v. Maryland the United States
novel in this jurisdiction and as it urges an expansive reading of the rights of persons Supreme Court held that suppression of evidence favorable to an accused upon
under preliminary investigation it deserves serious consideration. To start with, our request violates due process where the evidence is material to guilt or punishment,
Rules on Criminal Procedure do not expressly provide for discovery proceedings during irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution. Its progeny is the 1935
the preliminary investigation stage of a criminal proceeding. Sections 10 and 11 of Rule case of Mooney v. Holohanwhich laid down the proposition that a prosecutors
117 do provide an accused the right to move for a bill of particulars and for production intentional use of perjured testimony to procure conviction violates due process. Thus,
or inspection of material evidence in possession of the prosecution. But these evolved jurisprudence firming up the prosecutors duty to disclose to the defense
provisions apply after the filing of the Complaint or Information in court and the rights exculpatory evidence in its possession. The rationale is well put by Justice Brennan
are accorded to the accused to assist them to make an intelligent plea at arraignment in Bradysociety wins not only when the guilty are convicted but when criminal trials
and to prepare for trial. are fair. Indeed, prosecutors should not treat litigation like a game of poker where
This failure to provide discovery procedure during preliminary investigation does surprises can be sprung and where gain by guile is not punished. (Citations omitted.)
not, however, negate its use by a person under investigation when indispensable to Nevertheless, we ruled that with the production of the first Sworn Statement,
protect his constitutional right to life, liberty and property. Preliminary investigation is (p)etitioners thus had the fair chance to explain to the DOJ Panel then still
not too early a stage to guard against any significant erosion of the constitutional right conducting their preliminary investigation the exculpatory aspects of this sworn
to due process of a potential accused. As aforediscussed, the object of a preliminary statement. Unfortunately for petitioners, the DOJ Panel still found probable
investigation is to determine the probability that the suspect committed a crime. We cause to charge them despite the alleged material discrepancies between the
hold that the finding of a probable cause by itself subjects the suspects life, liberty and first and second sworn statements of Alfaro. For reasons we have expounded,
property to real risk of loss or diminution. In the case at bar, the risk to the liberty of this finding of probable cause cannot be struck down as done with grave abuse
petitioners cannot be understated for they are charged with the crime of rape with
of discretion.
homicide, a non-bailable offense when the evidence of guilt is strong.
Attuned to the times, our Rules have discarded the pure inquisitorial system of
It appeared, however, that the prosecution would continue to suppress
preliminary investigation. Instead, Rule 112 installed a quasi-judicial type of preliminary Alfaros first Sworn Statement. When bail hearings commenced on 9 October
investigation conducted by one whose high duty is to be fair and impartial. As this Court 1995, the prosecution started with a presentation of the testimony of Alfaro. On
emphasized in Rolito Go vs. Court of Appeals, the right to have a preliminary 16 October 1995, Alfaro was allowed by the
investigation conducted before being bound over for trial for a criminal offense, and 306
hence formally at risk of incarceration or some other penalty, is not a mere or technical 306 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
right; it is a substantive right. A preliminary investigation should therefore be Lejano vs. People
scrupulously conducted so that the constitutional right to liberty of a potential accused trial court to testify on the circumstances surrounding the execution of the two
can be protected from any material damage. We uphold the legal basis of the right Sworn Statements, notwithstanding that said statements were not presented for
305
proper identification and marking. On cross-examination, Alfaro admitted that in
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 305
the first Sworn Statement were answers that were not hers, but were only
Lejano vs. People supplied by the NBI agents then present during the statement-taking. For
of petitioners to demand from their prosecutor, the NBI, the original copy of the April instance, she stated that the answer to question number 8 is not true, because
28, 1995 sworn statement of Alfaro and the FBI Report during their preliminary
she only finished second year and was not actually a college graduate.
investigation considering their exculpatory character, and hence, unquestionable
materiality to the issue of their probable guilt. The right is rooted on the constitutional On the third day of Alfaros cross-examination, the prosecution objected to
protection of due process which we rule to be operational even during the preliminary questions referring to the first Sworn Statement on the ground that it was made
without the assistance of counsel. The trial court sustained the objection.14 The evidence. To hold otherwise would be to render illusory the existence of such
accuseds counsel orally sought reconsideration, but this was denied.15 When right.
counsel moved for reconsideration, the trial court denied the motion with The advent of DNA technology prompted this Courts promulgation of the
finality.16 The accuseds counsel then showed the trial court their copy of the New Rules for DNA Evidence.19 As DNA evidence provides objective proof of
first Sworn Statement containing Atty. Mercaders signature and certified as a identification and may be obtained from evidence left in the scene of the crime
true copy by Asst. Prosecutor Zuno. In turn, Assitant Prosecutor Atty. Zuno, who or in the victims person, it also gives new meaning to the above duty of the
had the duplicate original thereof, failed or refused to produce the statement prosecution.
despite repeated requests from the accused Webb. (It was produced only on 24 The prosecution did not fare well when measured against this standard.
October 1995.) Alfaros cross-examination continued, with no question Alfaro testified that the group had earlier agreed that Webb would be the first
pertaining to the first Sworn Statement allowed. to rape Carmela. When Alfaro said she saw Webb pumping Carmela, while two
On 8 November 1995, the trial court issued its Order dated 30 October bloodied bodies were on top of the bed, the former was so shocked that she
199517 in open court. The Court rejected the admissibility of the first Sworn stepped back and turned around to go outside. On her way out, she met
Statement and barred its use for the purpose of impeaching Alfaros credibility Ventura near the door. He said, Prepare escape. Things had apparently gone
or for refuting her subsequent statements. All previous questions and answers awry, so they left the place. The NBI proclaimed that the semen samples they
connected with the said Sworn Statement were also ordered expunged from the had collected from Carmela were preserved in slides and remained intact. Thus,
records. The trial court reasoned that the said Sworn Statement was an illegally in order
obtained evidence, and therefore, cannot be used either directly or indirectly _______________
against Alfaro. Citing Section 12, Article III of the Constitution, the trial court
18 Id., at pp. 7-8.
concluded that Alfaro could not be cross- 19 A.M. No. 06-11-5-SC effective 15 October 2007.
_______________ 308

14 TSN, 19 October 1995, pp. 23-24.


308 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
15 Id., at pp. 25-33. Lejano vs. People
16 Id., at pp. 33-45. for the prosecutions theory to be consistent, pursuant to the quantum required
17 Order, Regional Trial Court Rollo, vol. 1, pp. 852-860.
307
in criminal cases, the DNA evidence in the slides must positively match that
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 307 from accused Webb.
Based on the foregoing circumstances, the defense counsel accordingly
Lejano vs. People filed a Motion to Direct NBI to Submit Semen Specimen to DNA Analysis during
examined by the defense on the contents of the said affidavit in order to discredit the course of the trial. Several exchanges of pleadings on the matter were filed
her statement dated May 22, 1995 and her testimony in open court.18 before the trial court, and at no time was the timeliness of the filing of the Motion
This Order led accused Webb et al. to seek Judge Tolentinos inhibition and at issue. It could not have been, considering that the Motion was timely filed
to incorporate the above instance as part of their proof of the trial judges bias. during the course of the trial. While the Motion was filed six years after the crime
The Court of Appeals denied the Petition, and we affirmed the denial in the was committed, the trial of the accused herein did not start until more than four
manner laid out in the preceding discussion. years after the commission of the crime.
Failure to Preserve Evidence The trial court denied the Motion on 25 November 1997, holding that since
As discussed in the preceding section, the accuseds right to access to more than six (6) years had lapsed since the commission of the crime, there
evidence necessitates in the correlative duty of the prosecution to produce and was no assurance that the semen specimen remained uncontaminated. Also,
permit the inspection of the evidence, and not to suppress or alter it. When the the trial court held that Webb was not able to show that the proper procedure
prosecution is called upon not to suppress or alter evidence in its possession for the extraction and preservation of the semen sample had been complied
that may benefit the accused, it is also necessarily obliged to preserve the said
with. Finally, the trial court held that a DNA test would only lead to confusion of Hair and fiber from clothing, carpets, bedding or furniture could also be transferred to
the issues. the victims body during the assault. Forensic DNA evidence is helpful in proving that
However, as correctly held by Justice Lucenito Tagle in his Dissenting there was physical contact between an assailant and a victim. If properly collected from
Opinion, the trial judges objections to the DNA testing were based on mere the victim, crime scene or assailant, DNA can be compared with known samples to
place the suspect at the scene of the crime.21
conjectures that ran against the presumption of regularity in the performance of
official duty. Thus, when the present case reached this Court and a similar Motion was
Meanwhile, the idea that a negative DNA test result would not have filed, we resolved to grant22petitioners motion to allow DNA testing of the semen
necessarily exculpated Webb, because previous sexual congress by Carmela sample collected from the victim in order to compare it with Webbs DNA.
with another man prior to the crime could not be discounted, would Unfortunately, said semen sample appears to have been lost by the NBI, which
unrealistically raise the bar of evidenceand for the wrong party, i.e., for the had custody thereof.
_______________
part of the defense, instead of for the prosecution. If a negative DNA test result
could not be considered as providing certainty that Webb did not commit the 20 G.R. No. 125901, 8 March 2001, 406 Phil. 449; 354 SCRA 17.
crime, would it not have at least cast a reasonable doubt that he committed it? 21 G.R. No. 150224, 19 May 2004, 428 SCRA 504.
Moreover, the argument against the relevance of the semen samplethat 22 Resolution dated 20 April 2010.
310
the presence of semen was not necessary to prove that rape was committed
310 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
is not in point. What the defense was after when it sought DNA testing was
neither to prove nor to disprove the commission of rape, but to pinpoint the Lejano vs. People
identity of the assailant. In this case, Does the prosecutions loss of this potentially exculpatory evidence result in
309 a fundamentally unfair trial of the accused that entitles him to a judgment of
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 309 acquittal?
Lejano vs. People In resolving this question in the negative, the Dissent cites Youngblood v.
semen with spermatozoa was in fact obtained, and it did possess exculpatory Arizona,23 a United States Supreme Court Decision, which held that the
potential that might be beneficial to the accused. In Tijing v. Court of prosecutions failure to keep intact a piece of potentially exculpatory evidence
Appeals,20 we held that courts should apply the results of science when does not result in a due process violation, unless the accused is able to show
competently obtained in aid of situations presented, since to reject said result is that the prosecution acted in bad faith.
to deny progress. Hence, it is the constitutional duty of the trial judge to afford However, reliance on Youngblood is ill-advised.
all possible means to both the NBI and the counsel for accused, in order that First, Youngblood was promulgated more than two decades ago, in 1988,
such evidence may be scrutinized in open court. The Court held in People v. when DNA testing was still in its infancy. Since then, the technology has grown
Yatar: by leaps and bounds.24 In the United States, there
_______________
DNA print or identification technology has been advanced as a uniquely effective
means to link a suspect to a crime, or to exonerate a wrongly accused suspect, where 23 488 U.S. 51 (1988).
biological evidence has been left. For purposes of criminal investigation, DNA 24 In his Article, Old Blood, Bad Blood, and Youngblood: Due Process, Lost Evidence, and the
identification is a fertile source of both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence. It can Limits of Bad Faith, 86 Wash. U. L. Rev. 241, Norman C. Bay reported (pp. 282-283):
assist immensely in effecting a more accurate account of the crime committed, Forensic DNA typing was not developed until 1985, when Dr. Alec Jeffreys, an English scientist,
efficiently facilitating the conviction of the guilty, securing the acquittal of the innocent, used the technique to exonerate one suspect in the sexual assault and murder of two young girls
and to inculpate another. Three years later, in 1988, the same year Youngblood was decided, the
and ensuring the proper administration of justice in every case.
FBI began testing DNA. That same year, for the first time, a state appellate court upheld the
DNA evidence collected from a crime scene can link a suspect to a crime or admission of DNA evidence in a criminal case. The crime at issue in Youngblood occurred well before
eliminate one from suspicion in the same principle as fingerprints are used. Incidents the advent of DNA testing, and the Supreme Court decided the case when DNA testing was in its
involving sexual assault would leave biological evidence such as hair, skin tissue, infancy, still embroiled in litigation over its reliability and admissibility.
semen, blood, o saliva which can be left on the victims body or at the crime scene.
In the two decades since it was first used, forensic DNA typing has continued to progress. At Lejano vs. People
this point, scientists have developed three generations of tests. The current, dominant generation of
technology is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). This approach analyzes DNA taken from the States have been exonerated as a result of post-conviction DNA testing.26
nucleus of a cell. PCR allows the DNA in a biological sample to be replicated; only a minute amount Second, Youngblood was not a product of a unanimous Decision. The
of DNA is needed and the sample from which it comes can be highly degraded. Only a few cells are majority opinion in Youngblood was penned by Justice Rehnquist and
required for reliable results. Usable DNA can be recovered from a myriad of items, including concurred in by Justices White, OConnor, Scalia and Kennedy, with Justice
computer keyboards, hats, bandannas, eyeglasses, facial tissue, cotton swabs, dirty laundry,
toothpicks, chewing gum, cigarette butts, envelope seals, the mouths of bottles, the rims of glasses, Stevens concurring with the result and writing a Separate Opinion. Justice
or urine stains. Blackmun wrote a strong Dissent, which was joined in by Justices Brennan and
311 Marshall.
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 311 A critique27 of the Youngblood decision points out that there are two
Lejano vs. People competing due process interests therein. On the one hand is adjudicative
are now only eight (8) states that have not adopted statutes allowing post- fairness, which seeks to ensure that the accused receives meaningful
conviction DNA testing,25 with some requiring the correlative duty to preserve protection in court, in other words, reliable fact finding and a fair trial. [and
DNA evidence. So far, 261 convicts in the United which] manifests itself in an assessment of the materiality of evidence and
_______________ prejudice to the accused [as] paramount in determining whether a due
process violation has occurred. On the other hand is instrumentalism, which
PCR is usually followed by short tandem repeat (STR) testing, which compares thirteen specific
regions, or loci, found on nuclear DNA. The odds that two unrelated individuals will share the same
seeks to impose restraints on the state. [by] punishing the state for police
thirteen-loci DNA profile can be as high as one in a billion or more. Thus, PCR-STR analysis is both and prosecutorial misconduct. to deter future misconduct and to create a
highly sensitive and discriminating. It is sensitive in that small amounts of biological material can be prophylactic effect. In measuring the misconduct, one examines the subjective
tested. It is discriminating in that the results of a thirteen-loci comparison generate unique DNA intent of the officer and whether the officer acted in good faith or bad faith. Under
profiles that can establish guilt or innocence to a practical certainty in certain types of cases.
25 98 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 329 this approach, the focus is on the state, not the individual. Moreover, the focus
Yet another powerful forensic DNA tool has emerged: mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing. on the state and on deterring official misconduct invites an examination of the
Unlike STR analysis, this technique examines the DNA contained in the mitochondria of a cell, not costs of providing additional process.
its nucleus. This is important because some biological material, including hair shafts, bones, and The majority opinion in Youngblood focused on the state of mind of the
teeth, lack nuclei, but possess mitochondria. In some cases, especially those involving decomposed
tissue, only teeth or bones may remain. Mitochondrial DNA testing allows for the study and police officer rather than on materiality and fairness to the accused. However,
comparison of DNA in such material. One drawback to mtDNA is that it is not as discriminating as in his Separate Opinion wherein he registered his reservation to the bad faith
STR. Mitochondrial DNA is passed maternally; consequently, siblings and maternal relatives have standard being laid out by the majority, Justice Stevens recognized that there
the same mtDNA, and the test cannot distinguish among them. Nonetheless, mtDNA provides a
powerful supplement to STR and may allow for analysis when none is otherwise available. Among
may well be cases in which the defendant is unable to prove that the State acted
other things, mtDNA has identified one of the unknown soldiers in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in bad faith but in which the loss or destruction of evidence is nonetheless so
in Arlington National Cemetery, the remains of Czar Nicholas II and his family, and the likely offspring critical to the defense as to make a criminal trial fundamentally unfair.
of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Heming. _______________
Since 1985, the field of forensic DNA typing has continued to progress. Emerging Y-
chromosome analysis focuses on variations in male genetic material; it may prove to be helpful in 26The Innocence Project. <http://www.innocenceproject.org> accessed on 12 December 2010.
sexual assault cases involving multiple male perpetrators. Hand-held or portable devices with labs- 27 86 Wash. U. L. Rev. 241.
on-a-chip may be developed that allow for rapid DNA testing at a crime scene. Robotic systems are 313
already being used to help process DNA samples. Similarly, computer software compares and
interprets STR data. In short, forensic DNA typing will continue to become increasingly automated,
VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 313
faster, cheaper, and more accurate. This, in turn, ought to affect the due process calculus when the Lejano vs. People
state loses or destroys potentially exculpatory evidence. The context in which such problems arise While the earlier case Brady v. Maryland28 held that due process violation
today is entirely different than when Youngblood was decided. (Citations omitted.)
312
could be committed even without bad faith,29the majority
312 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED distinguished Youngblood from Brady by holding that the evidence in Brady was
clearly favorable to the accused, while that in Youngblood was a DNA profile that (1) exonerated Larry Youngblood of the crime charged (child
only potentially exculpatory. molestation, sexual assault and kidnapping) and (2) enabled the police to find
Justice Blackmun opined, though, that it was impossible for the accused to the real offender. Excerpts from the website of The Innocence Project, an
prove that a particular piece of evidence was exculpatory when, precisely, it was organization advocating the use of DNA evidence, are as follows:
no longer in existence. Justice Blackmun also disapproved of the bad-faith Larry Youngblood was convicted in 1985 of child molestation, sexual assault, and
standard, because (a)part from the inherent difficulty a defendant would have kidnapping. He was sentenced to ten years and six months in prison. In October 1983,
in obtaining evidence to show a lack of good faith, the line between good faith a ten year old boy was abducted from a carnival in Pima County, Arizona, and molested
and bad faith is anything but bright, and the majoritys formulation may well and sodomized repeatedly for over an hour by a middle aged man. The victim was
taken to a hospital, where the staff collected semen samples from his rectum as well
create more questions than it answers.
as the clothing he was wearing at the time of the assault.
Justice Blackmun proposed the following alternative to the bad-faith Based on the boys description of the assailant as a man with one disfigured eye,
standard: Youngblood was charged with the crime. He maintained his innocence at trial, but the
Rather than allow a States ineptitude to saddle a defendant with an impossible jury convicted him, based largely on the eyewitness identification of the victim. No
burden, a court should focus on the type of evidence, the possibility it might prove serological tests were conducted before trial, as the police improperly stored the
exculpatory, and the existence of other evidence going to the same point of contention evidence and it had degraded. Expert witnesses at trial stated that, had the evidence
in determining whether the failure to preserve the evidence in question violated due been stored correctly, test results might have demonstrated conclusively Youngbloods
process. To put it succinctly, where no comparable evidence is likely to be available to innocence.
the defendant, police must preserve physical evidence of a type that they reasonably Larry Youngblood appealed his conviction, claiming the destruction of potentially
should know has the potential, if tested, to reveal immutable characteristics of the exculpatory evidence violated his due process rights, and the Arizona Court of Appeals
criminal, and hence to exculpate a defendant charged with the crime. set aside his conviction. He was released from prison, three years into his sentence,
Justice Blackmun then gave his opinion on how to balance the defendants but in 1988, the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts ruling, and his conviction
rights and the duty imposed upon the law enforcement to preserve evidence: was reinstated (Arizona v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 51). Youngblood remained free as
Due process must also take into account the burdens that the preservation of the case made its way through the Arizona appellate court system a second time, but
evidence places on the police. Law enforcement officers must be provided the returned to prison in 1993, when the Arizona Supreme Court reinstated his
_______________ conviction.315
28 373 U.S. 83 (1963). VOL. 638, DECEMBER 14, 2010 315
29 The Court in Brady held: The suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused Lejano vs. People
upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment,
In 1998, Youngblood was released on parole, but was sent back to prison in 1999
irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.
314 for failing to register his new address, as required by Arizona sex offender laws. In
314 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED 2000, upon request from his attorneys, the police department tested the degraded
evidence using new, sophisticated DNA technology. Those results exonerated
Lejano vs. People Youngblood, and he was released from prison in August 2000. The district attorneys
option, as is implicit in Trombetta, of performing the proper tests on physical office dismissed the charges against Larry Youngblood that year.
evidence and then discarding it. Once a suspect has been arrested, the police, after a Shortly thereafter, the DNA profile from the evidence was entered into the national
reasonable time, may inform defense counsel of plans to discard the evidence. When convicted offender databases. In early 2001, officials got a hit, matching the profile of
the defense has been informed of the existence of the evidence, after a reasonable Walter Cruise, who is blind in one eye and currently serving time in Texas on unrelated
time, the burden of preservation may shift to the defense. There should also be charges. In August 2002, Cruise was convicted of the crime and sentenced to twenty-
flexibility to deal with evidence that is unusually dangerous or difficult to store. four years in prison.30
Third, it is not amiss to note that in the year 2000, the injustice of In view of all the foregoing salient objections to Youngblood, it should not be
the Youngblood decision was brought into sharp relief when more sophisticated adopted in this jurisdiction.
DNA technology was used on the degraded evidence. The technology yielded
While it is a laudable objective to inquire into the state of mind of the o0o
prosecution and punish it when it has committed prosecutorial misconduct, Copyright 2017 Central Book Supply, Inc. All rights reserved.
there are times when, undoubtedly, whether through malice or plain ineptitude,
its act or omission results in plain injustice to the accused.
In our various decisions relating to interlucotory orders and incidents
pertaining to this case, this courts adherence to instrumentalism has led to our
finding in each instance that there was no due process violation committed
against petitioner, because bad faith was not shown by the prosecution or the
trial judge.
However, since the task of the pillars of the criminal justice system is to
preserve our democratic society under the rule of law, ensuring that all those
who appear before or are brought to the bar of justice are afforded a fair
opportunity to present their side,31 the measure of whether the accused herein
has been deprived of due process of law should not be limited to the state of
mind of the prosecution, but should include fundamental principles of fair play.
Hence, as we write
_______________

30 The Innocence ProjectKnow the Cases: Browse Profiles: Larry Youngblood,


<http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Larry_Youngblood.php> accessed on 12/13/2010
31 Tan v. People, G.R. No. 173637, 21 April 2009, 586 SCRA 139.
316
316 SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED
Lejano vs. People
finis to this case, it is time we evaluate the total picture that the prosecutions
acts or omissions have wrought upon the accuseds rights with each seemingly
innocuous stroke, whatever its intention may have been.
The various violations of the accuseds rights have resulted in his failure to
secure a just trial. As such, the judgment of conviction cannot stand.
Judgment and resolution reversed and set aside, accused-appellants
Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Lejano, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio
Fernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada and Gerardo Biong acquitted and
ordered immediately released.
Notes.A judgment acquitting the accused is a final verdict which cannot
be reopened, assuming it is erroneous, because of the doctrine of double
jeopardy. (Ala-Martin vs. Sultan, 366 SCRA 316 [2001])
Where the accused after conviction by the trial court did not appeal his
conviction, an appeal by the government seeking to increase the penalty
imposed by the trial court places the accused in double jeopardy and should
therefore be dismissed. (People vs. Leones, 366 SCRA 535 [2001])