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G.R. No.

184500 September 11, 2012 appellants and their co-accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping
one another, armed with assorted high-powered firearms and hand-grenade, did
PEOPLE OF THE PIIILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with treachery, evident
vs. premidation (sic), taking advantage of their superiority in strength and in numbers,
WENCESLAO NELMIDA @ "ESLAO," and RICARDO AJOK @ "PORDOY," Accused- and with intent to kill, ambush, attack, assault and use personal violence upon the
Appellants. persons of the following, namely:

DECISION 1. PO3 Dela Cruz, Philippine National Police (PNP);

PEREZ, J.: 2. T/Sgt. Dacoco, Philippine Army (PA);


The subject of this present appeal is the Decision1 dated 18 June 2008 of the Court 3. Private First Class (PFC) Haron Angni, PA;
of Appeals in CA-G.R. HC No. 00246, affirming the Decision2 dated 30 September
2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, Branch 21, in 4. PFC Gador4 Tomanto, PA;
Criminal Case No. 21-910, finding herein appellants Wenceslao Nelmida @ "Eslao"
(Wenceslao) and Ricardo Ajok @ 5. Juanito Ibunalo;

"Pordoy" (Ricardo) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of double murder with multiple 6. Mosanif5 Ameril;
frustrated murder and double attempted murder, thereby sentencing them to
7. Macasubar6 Tandayao;
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Appellants were likewise ordered to
indemnify, jointly and severally, the heirs of each of the deceased victims, i.e., 8. Mayor Johnny Tawantawan;7 and
Police Officer 3 Hernando P. Dela Cruz (PO3 Dela Cruz) and
9. Jun Palanas
Technical Sergeant Ramon Dacoco (T/Sgt. Dacoco), the amount of ₱ 50,000.00 each
as moral damages and ₱ 50,000.00 each as civil indemnity for the death of each of by then and there firing and shooting them with said high-powered firearms
the said victims. Similarly, appellants were directed to pay, jointly and severally, thereby inflicting upon the persons of PO3 De la Cruz, T/Sgt. Dacoco, PFC Haron
Mayor Johnny Tawan-tawan the amount of ₱ 50,000.00 for and as attorney’s fees, Angni, PFC Gapor Tomanto, Juanito Ibunalo, Mosanip Ameril and Macasuba
as well as the costs of the suit. Tandayao gunshot wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of the death
of PO3 De la Cruz and T/Sgt. Dacoco and the serious wounding of said PFC Haron
Appellants and their co-accused Samuel Cutad @ "Sammy" (Samuel), Brigido Abais Angni, PFC Gapor Tomanto, Juanito Ibunalo, Mosanip Ameril and Macasuba
@ "Bidok" (Brigido), Pedro Serafico @ "Peter" (Pedro), Eduardo Bacong, Sr. Tandayao that without the medical assistance would have caused their deaths,
(Eduardo, Sr.), Eduardo Bacong, Jr. @ "Junjun" (Eduardo, Jr.), Alejandro Abarquez while Mayor Johnny Tawan-tawan and Jun Palanas were not hit.8
(Alejandro), Ruben Bartolo @ "Yoyoy Bulhog" (Ruben), Arnel Espanola @ "Toto
Ilongo" (Arnel), Alfredo Paninsuro @ "Tambok" (Alfredo), Opao Casinillo (Opao) and When arraigned, appellants Wenceslao and Ricardo, assisted by their counsel de
other John Does, were charged in an Amended Information 3 dated 3 October 2001 parte9 and counsel de oficio,10respectively; and their co-accused Samuel, likewise
with the crime of double murder with multiple frustrated murder and double assisted by counsel de oficio,11 all entered separate pleas of
attempted murder, the accusatory portion of which reads:
NOT GUILTY to the crime charged. The rest of the accused in this case, however,
That on or about the 5th day of June 2001, at SAN MANUEL, Lala, Lanao del Norte, remained at large. Trial on the merits ensued thereafter.
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
Meanwhile, or on 21 January 2003, however, the prosecution filed a Motion to waiting shed while they assembled themselves in a diamond position on both sides
Discharge Accused Samuel To Be Utilized As State Witness,12 which the court a quo of the road, which is more or less five (5) meters away from the shed. Then,
granted in an Order dated 12 February 2003.13 Also, upon motion of the appellants and their co-accused surreptitiously waited for the vehicle of the group
prosecution, the court a quo issued another Order dated 17 March 2003, 14 directing of Mayor Tawan-tawan.16
the release of Samuel from detention following his discharge as state witness.
A few minutes later, Samuel saw the yellow pick-up service vehicle of Mayor
As such, Samuel, together with 13 more witnesses, namely, Macasuba Tandayao Tawan-tawan approaching towards the direction of Salvador, Lanao del Norte. The
(Macasuba), Mosanip Ameril (Mosanip), PFC Gapor Tomanto (PFC Tomanto), moment the yellow pick-up service vehicle of Mayor Tawan-tawan passed by the
Merlina Dela Cruz (Merlina), Senior Police Inspector Renato Salazar (Senior P/Insp. aforesaid waiting shed, appellants and their co-accused opened fire and rained
Salazar), PFC Haron Angni (PFC Angni), Senior Police Officer 4 Raul Torres Medrano bullets on the vehicle using high-powered firearms.
(SPO4 Medrano), Senior Police Officer 1 Ferdinand Suaring (SPO1 Suaring), Senior
Police Officer 2 Ivan Mutia Evasco (SPO2 Evasco), Senior Police Officer 4 Emmie Both Macasuba, who was sitting immediately behind the driver, and PFC Tomanto,
Subingsubing (SPO4 Subingsubing), Juanito Ibunalo (Juanito), Senior who was then sitting on the rear (open) portion of the yellow pick-up service
vehicle, saw appellant Wenceslao on the right side of the road firing at them in a
Police Officer 3 Tommy Umpa (SPO3 Umpa), and Mayor Johnny Tawan-tawan squatting position using an M-16 armalite rifle.
(Mayor Tawan-tawan), testified for the prosecution.
Macasuba was also able to identify appellants Ricardo, Pedro, Eduardo, Sr.,
The factual milieu of this case as culled from the testimonies of the aforesaid Eduardo, Jr., Brigido and Alfredo as among the ambushers. Mayor Tawan-tawan
prosecution witnesses is as follows: ordered Juanito to keep on driving to avoid greater casualties. The vehicle stopped
upon reaching the army and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU)
On 5 June 2001, Mayor Tawan-tawan of Salvador, Lanao del Norte, together with detachment in Curva, Miagao, Salvador, Lanao del Norte. Mayor Tawan-tawan then
his security escorts composed of some members of the Philippine Army, Philippine asked assistance therefrom.17
National Police (PNP) and civilian aides, to wit: (1) T/Sgt. Dacoco; (2) PFC Angni; (3)
PFC Tomanto; (4) PO3 Dela Cruz; (5) Juanito; (6) Mosanip; (7) Macasuba; and (8) a Immediately after the ambush, appellants and their co-accused ran towards the
certain Jun, respectively, were in Tubod, Lanao del Norte. In the afternoon, the house of Samuel’s aunt located, more or less, 10 meters away from the site of the
group went home to Salvador, Lanao del Norte, on board the yellow pick-up service ambush to get their bags and other stuff. The house of Samuel’s aunt was the place
vehicle of Mayor Tawan-tawan with Plate No. JRT 818 driven by Juanito. Sitting at where appellants and their co-accused stayed prior to the incident. Samuel
the passenger seat of the aforesaid vehicle was Mayor Tawan-tawan while those at followed appellants and their co-accused to the house of his aunt. Thereafter,
the back seat were Mosanip, Jun, and Macasuba, who was sitting immediately appellants and their co-accused hurriedly ran towards Barangay Lindongan,
behind Juanito. Those seated on a wooden bench installed at the rear (open) Municipality of Baroy, Lanao del Norte.18
portion of the said yellow pick-up service vehicle were PFC Tomanto, PFC Angni,
PO3 Dela Cruz and T/Sgt. Dacoco. PFC Tomanto and PFC Angni were sitting beside On the occasion of the ambush, two security escorts of Mayor Tawan-tawan,
each other facing the right side of the road while PO3 Dela Cruz and T/Sgt. Dacoco namely, PO3 Dela Cruz and T/Sgt. Dacoco, died, while others suffered injuries. In
were both seated behind PFC Tomanto and PFC Angni facing the left side of the particular, Macasuba was slightly hit on the head by shrapnel; Mosanip sustained
road.15 injury on his shoulder that almost severed his left arm; PFC Tomanto was hit on the
right and left sides of his body, on his left leg and knee; PFC Angni was hit on his left
At around 3:00 p.m. of the same day, appellants, together with their aforenamed shoulder; and Juanito was hit on his right point finger, right head and left hip.
co-accused, brought Samuel to a waiting shed in Purok 2, San Manuel, Lala, Lanao Mayor Tawan-tawan and Jun were not injured.19
del Norte, the one located on the left side of the road going to Salvador, Lanao del
Norte. Samuel was instructed by appellants and their co-accused to stay in the said
All the victims of the ambush, except Macasuba, were brought to Bontilao Country and radio antenna in San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte, left by the malefactors.
Clinic in Maranding, Lala, Lanao del Norte, and were later transferred to Mindanao SPO1 Suaring, together with Samuel, Senior P/Insp. Salazar, SPO4 Subingsubing and
Sanitarium and Hospital in Tibanga, Iligan City. PO3 Dela Cruz, however, died before a certain SPO4 Sumaylo, proceeded to San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte, where
reaching the hospital while T/Sgt. Dacoco died in the hospital. PFC Tomanto stayed they found the materials near the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) canal,
at Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital for 13 days before he was transferred to which is 30 meters away from the house of Samuel’s aunt. These were
Camp Evangelista Hospital in Patag, Cagayan de Oro City, and then in a hospital in photographed.22
Manila and Quezon City. PFC Angni stayed for seven (7) days in Mindanao
Sanitarium and Hospital before he was transferred to Camp Evangelista Hospital, Later, SPO2 Evasco, who was assigned at Lala Police Station, received a call from
where he was confined for one (1) month. PFC Angni was transferred to V. Luna Barangay Kagawad Renato Senahon (Brgy. Kgwd. Senahon) that a black backpack
Hospital in Quezon City and was confined therein for two (2) months. 20 was found in Mount Curay-curay, Rebe, Lala, Lanao del Norte, which is two (2)
kilometers away from the highway. Immediately, SPO2 Evasco and Brgy. Kgwd.
On the other hand, Mayor Tawan-tawan, Macasuba and the members of the CAFGU Senahon went to the location. Upon inspection, they recovered from the backpack
went back to the site of the ambush but appellants and their co-accused were no an army camouflage with name cloth, one Garand pouch and one fragmentation
longer there. Not long after, SPO4 Medrano, Chief of Police of Salvador Municipal grenade cacao type. SPO2 Evasco then brought these to the police station in
Police Station, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, and his troops arrived. It was while inside Maranding, Lala, Lanao del Norte, and turned it over to Senior P/Insp. Salazar. 23
the Salvador Municipal Police Station that SPO4 Medrano heard gunfire and he
came to know that the group of Mayor Tawan-tawan was ambushed prompting him On 8 June 2001, Samuel executed his sworn statement identifying appellants and
and his troops to go to the scene of the crime. Mayor Tawan-tawan informed SPO4 their co-accused as the persons responsible for the ambush of Mayor Tawan-tawan
Medrano that appellant Wenceslao was one of those responsible for the ambush. and his companions. Samuel was, thereafter, incarcerated at the Bureau of Jail
SPO4 Medrano and his troops, then, conducted an investigation during which he Management and Penology (BJMP) in Tubod, Lanao del Norte.24
noticed Samuel at the scene of the crime. Upon interrogation Samuel denied any
On 29 August 2001, or more than two (2) months after the ambush, appellant
involvement in the ambush. Even so, SPO4 Medrano still found Samuel suspicious,
Wenceslao was arrested while he was in Katipa, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental.
hence, he and his fellow police officers arrested him and turned him over to a
Appellant Ricardo, on the other hand, was arrested on 20 December 2001 while
certain SPO4 Micabalo, Chief of Police of Lala, Lanao del Norte. Samuel was then
working in Puting Bato in Sapad, Lanao del Norte. It was Senior P/Insp. Salazar who
brought to Lala Municipal Jail in Lanao del Norte.
effected the arrest of the appellants.25
Subsequently, SPO4 Medrano, together with the members of the CAFGU, PNP and
Appellants denied having any involvement in the ambush. Appellant Wenceslao
the rest of the troops who were at the scene of the crime, found a trail of footprints
presented as witnesses Armida Nelmida (Armida), Jeffrey Paninsuro (Jeffrey),
believed to be from the culprits. They conducted a hot pursuit operation towards
Luzviminda Apolinares (Luzviminda), Rudy Alegado (Rudy), Sergeant Teofanis
Barangay Lindongan, Municipality of Baroy, Lanao del Norte, where appellants and
Garsuta (Sgt. Garsuta) and Master Sergeant Pio Cudilla (M/Sgt. Cudilla). Appellant
their co-accused were believed to have fled. They were able to recover an M-16
Ricardo, on the other hand, did not present any witness other than himself.
armalite rifle caliber 5.26 concealed near a nipa hut. SPO4 Medrano then sent a
Spot Report and a follow-up report about the ambush. He did not, however, reveal Appellant Wenceslao testified that on 5 June 2001, he was in their house with his
the identity of appellant Wenceslao so that with a warrant of arrest, appellant family. At around 1:00 p.m., he went outside their house to clean the pigsty and
Wenceslao could be arrested at the earliest possible time. SPO4 Medrano also feed the pigs. Then, at around 2:30 p.m., Jacob Pepito, Rudy and a certain Romy,
informed the provincial headquarters about the incident through a radio message. 21 who is a military personnel, arrived to get a copy of the election returns of the 15
May 2001 elections upon the orders of Tanny Pepito, a gubernatorial candidate. He
The following day, or on 6 June 2001, Samuel informed SPO1 Suaring, member of
told them that he has no copy of the returns. He then advised them to get it to Atty.
PNP Lala Municipal Police, Lala, Lanao del Norte, that there were electrical supplies
Aldoni Umpa (Atty. Umpa) who has a copy. At that time, he, Jacob Pepito and Romy
were outside the house while his wife and nieces were just eight (8) to 10 meters 1998 elections, he ran for mayoralty position in the same locality against Mayor
away from them. After 10 minutes, his visitors left.26 Suddenly, appellant Wenceslao Tawan-tawan but he lost. On both occasions, he and Mayor Tawan-tawan were no
heard gunfire coming from the direction of the house of Mayor Tawan-tawan. His longer in the same political party. Similarly, during the term of Mayor Tawan-tawan
nephew, Jeffrey, approached and informed him that Mayor Tawan-tawan and the in 1998, appellant Wenceslao revealed that he and his son were charged with illegal
latter’s group were ambushed. After about one (1) or two (2) minutes, he again possession of firearm.30
heard gunfire. This time the bullets were already hitting the roof and walls of their
house. He then instructed Jeffrey, who is also a CAFGU member, to report the said Other defense witnesses, namely, Armida, Jeffrey and Luzviminda, who are
incident and to ask help from the members of the Philippine Army stationed at appellant Wenceslao’s wife, nephew and niece, respectively, corroborated
Camp Allere, Salvador, Lanao del Norte.27 appellant Wenceslao’s testimony on all material points. They all denied that
appellant Wenceslao has something to do with the ambush of Mayor Tawan-tawan
When Jeffrey left, appellant Wenceslao stayed at their house. He did not know and his group. Nonetheless, Armida admitted that there is a road connecting San
where his wife and the rest of the women, who were in their house, went after the Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte, to Salvador, Lanao del Norte. There are also vehicles
gunburst. After more or less 15 minutes, he walked barefooted and unarmed for hire plying the route of Salvador, Lanao del Norte, to San Manuel, Lala, Lanao
towards Camp Allere. There he saw M/Sgt. Cudilla and he informed the former del Norte, and vice-versa.31
regarding the incident happened in their house. Not long after, a certain Captain
Esmeralda (Capt. Esmeralda), Commanding Officer of Bravo Company of the Another defense witness, Rudy, corroborated appellant Wenceslao’s testimony
Philippine Army, arrived. He also approached and informed Capt. Esmeralda about with respect to the fact that on 5 June 2001, he, together with Jacob Pepito and a
the incident in their house. Capt. Esmeralda then ordered his men to board the certain member of the army intelligence group, went to the house of appellant
samba and a six-by-six truck to fetch appellant Wenceslao’s wife and relatives in Wenceslao to get the election returns. However, he could not recall anything
Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte. A six-by-six truck returned to Camp Allere unusual that happened while he was in the house of appellant Wenceslao. They left
carrying appellant Wenceslao’s wife and relatives.28 the house of appellant Wenceslao at around 2:45 p.m. Still, no unusual incident
happened thereafter. Rudy similarly revealed that he did not go inside the house of
On the evening of 5 June 2001, appellant Wenceslao, together with his wife and appellant Wenceslao but merely waited for Jacob Pepito and a member of the army
daughter, slept in his father’s house located, more or less, 100 meters away from intelligence group inside their vehicle parked at a distance of, more or less, three (3)
Camp Allere and stayed there for five (5) days. Appellant Wenceslao’s wife then meters from the house of appellant Wenceslao. As such, he did not hear the subject
requested for transfer to their son’s house in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte, as she of the conversation between appellant Wenceslao, Jacob Pepito and a member of
could no longer sleep because of what happened at their house. Thus, they went to the army intelligence group.32
their son’s house in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte, and stayed there for eight (8)
days. During that period of time, he did not hear of any case filed against him. No Sgt. Garsuta, who also testified for the defense, stated that in the afternoon of 5
policemen even bothered to arrest him. His wife, however, was still afraid, so they June 2001, while he was at the legislative hall in Pigcarangan, Tubod, Lanao del
left the house of their son and moved to Katipa, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental. Norte, to secure the canvass of the elections, they received a radio call from M/Sgt.
They stayed there until he was arrested on 29 August 2001. 29 Cudilla informing them that Mayor Tawan-tawan was ambushed and the house of
appellant Wenceslao was strafed. Thereafter, Capt. Esmeralda called them to board
Appellant Wenceslao, however, disclosed that it would only take, more or less, a 15 a six-by-six truck and to proceed to Salvador, Lanao del Norte. As they passed by
minute-vehicle ride from his residence in Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, to San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte, they stopped to get some information from the
the site of the ambush in San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte. Also, from his house to police officers therein. They proceeded to Camp Allere in Salvador, Lanao del Norte.
Camp Allere it would only take, more or less, 5 minute-vehicle ride. Appellant They arrived at Camp Allere at around 4:30 p.m. to 4:35 p.m. and there he saw
Wenceslao also admitted that he ran for the vice-mayoralty position in Salvador, appellant Wenceslao waiting and talking to 1st Sgt. Codilla. Appellant Wenceslao
Lanao del Norte, against Rodolfo Oban during the 2001 elections. Way back in the then requested that his family and some personal effects be taken from his house.
Thus, Capt. Esmeralda ordered them to board a six-by-six truck and to proceed to Norte, where he worked in the farm of his friend. He stayed there until he was
appellant Wenceslao’s house. Upon reaching the house of appellant Wenceslao, arrested on 20 December 2001.36
nobody was there. Suddenly, appellant Wenceslao’s wife came out from the nearby
house. Then they ordered her to board a six-by-six truck after taking some personal Nevertheless, appellant Ricardo divulged that there was never an instance that
belongings of appellant Wenceslao in the latter’s house.33 Atty. Umpa was harassed or intimidated by the group of Mayor Tawan-tawan. He
claimed that only Atty. Umpa’s supporters were harassed. He also revealed that
M/Sgt. Cudilla alleged that at around, more or less, 3:00 p.m. of 5 June 2001, while prior to the ambush incident, there was never an instance that he was threatened
he was at their command post at Camp Allere, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, his by the group of Mayor Tawan-tawan. He just presumed that Atty. Umpa’s
detachment commander, a certain T/Sgt. Quijano, called and informed him through supporters were being harassed by the people of Mayor Tawan-tawan because
radio that an ambush incident happened in his area of responsibility, i.e., Curva others were already harassed.37
Miagao, Salvador, Lanao del Norte. He advised T/Sgt. Quijano to verify the incident.
M/Sgt. Cudilla then called Capt. Esmeralda to inform the latter about the said Finding the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, most of whom were victims
ambush incident. He, thereafter, prepared a perimeter defense in the camp. In the of the ambush, to be credible, categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and
second call of T/Sgt. Quijano, the latter told him that Mayor Tawan-tawan was consistent, coupled with their positive identification of the appellants as among the
ambushed. After about 15 minutes, M/Sgt. Cudilla heard gunbursts from Poblacion, perpetrators of the crime and their lack of ill-motive to falsely testify against them,
Salvador, Lanao del Norte. Later, more or less, 10 civilians arrived at Camp Allere. vis-à-vis the defense of denial and alibi proffered by the latter, the trial court
rendered its Decision on 30 September 2005 finding appellants guilty beyond
M/Sgt. Cudilla further confirmed that on 5 June 2001, also at around 3:00 p.m., he reasonable doubt of double murder with multiple frustrated murder and double
saw appellant Wenceslao at the back of the stage inside Camp Allere near Km. Post attempted murder and imposing upon them the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The
one. Appellant Wenceslao then informed him of the strafing incident in his house. dispositive portion of the aforesaid trial court’s Decision states:
When their commanding officer arrived, appellant Wenceslao approached the
former. Thereafter, a platoon was organized heading towards Poblacion, Salvador, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered
Lanao del Norte.34 finding herein appellants Wenceslao and Ricardo GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
of the crime of double murder with multiple frustrated murder and double
Appellant Ricardo, for his part, maintained that on 5 June 2001, he was also in his attempted murder, and the Court hereby sentences them to suffer the indivisible
house in Purok 5, Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, attending to his wife and prison term of reclusion perpetua; to pay, jointly and severally, the heirs of the late
children because his wife had just given birth in April 2001. In the afternoon PO3 Dela Cruz the amount of ₱ 50,000.00 as moral damages and another sum of ₱
thereof, he heard a gunburst somewhere in Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, 50,000.00 for and by way of civil indemnity ex delicto; to pay, jointly and severally,
followed by some commotion in the street. Later, his brother, Joji Ajok, arrived and the heirs of the late T/Sgt. Dacoco the sum of ₱ 50,000.00 as moral damages plus ₱
informed him that appellant Wenceslao was shot in his house.35 50,000.00 for and by way of civil indemnity ex delicto; and to pay, jointly and
severally, Ex-Mayor Johnny Tawantawan the amount of ₱ 50,000.00 for and as
Appellant Ricardo also confirmed that on the early evening of 5 June 2001, he and attorney’s fees, and the costs of suit.
his family transferred to the house of his parents-in-law at Camp Allere, Salvador,
Lanao del Norte. He so decided when he heard rumors that the supporters of Atty. The Armalite rifle with defaced serial number, the hand grenade and the Garand
Umpa, the political rival of Mayor Tawan-tawan in the 2001 local elections, were pouch are hereby ordered turned-over to the Firearm and Explosive Unit of the PNP
being persecuted. Being one of Atty. Umpa’s supporters, he got scared, prompting Headquarters, Pigcarangan, Tubod, Lanao del Norte, for proper disposition as
him to bring his family to Camp Allere. They stayed there until the following authorized by law.
morning and then he left alone for Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental, and stayed
there for three (3) months. Thereafter, he moved to Puting Bato in Sapad, Lanao del The full period of the preventive imprisonment of the appellantsshall be credited to
them and deducted from their prison term provided they comply with the
requirements of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code. Appellant Wenceslao was THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT APPELLANT WENCESLAO ABSCONDED
arrested on 29 August 2001 and detained since then up to the present. While AND IN IMPUTING MALICE ON THE ACT OF [APPELLANT WENCESLAO] IN
appellant Ricardo was arrested on 20 December 2001 and detained since then up to TEMPORARILY LEAVING HIS RESIDENCE;
the present.
VI.
Let the records of this case be sent to the archive files without prejudice on the part
of the prosecution to prosecute the case against the other accused who remain at- THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING APPELLANT WENCESLAO OF THE CRIME
large, as soon as said accused are apprehended.38 [Emphasis supplied]. CHARGED BASED ON TESTIMONIES WHICH ARE OF DOUBTFUL VERACITY;

Unperturbed, appellants separately appealed the aforesaid trial court’s Decision to VII.
the Court of Appeals via Notice of Appeal,39 and, thereafter, submitted their
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING THE DEFENSE OF [APPELLANT
respective appeal briefs.
WENCESLAO] BASED ON JURISPRUDENCE WHICH ARE NOT APPLICABLE IN THE CASE
In his brief, appellant Wenceslao assigned the following errors: AT BAR.40

I. While appellant Ricardo, in his brief, raised this lone assignment of error:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE TESTIMONIES OF THE THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING APPELLANT RICARDO DESPITE
PROSECUTION WITNESSES ARE CREDIBLE AND NOT ORCHESTRATED LIES INTENDED THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE
TO FALSELY IMPUTE THE CRIMINAL LIABILITY TO APPELLANT WENCESLAO; DOUBT.41

II. On 18 June 2008, the Court of Appeals rendered its now assailed Decision affirming
appellants’ conviction of the crime charged. The Court of Appeals held that the
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT THE INCONSISTENCIES OF evidence on record disclosed that the alleged inconsistencies pointed to by
PROSECUTION WITNESSES ARE HONEST INCONSISTENCIES ON MINOR AND TRIVIAL appellant Wenceslao refer only to minor matters. The same did not damage the
POINTS; credibility of the prosecution witnesses, particularly that of PFC Tomanto, PFC
Angni, Juanito and Mayor Tawan-tawan. Honest inconsistencies on minor and trivial
III. points serve to strengthen rather than destroy the credibility of a witness to a
crime. Moreover, since the prosecution witnesses positively identified appellants in
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN RULING THAT [APPELLANTS WENCESLAO AND
open court as among the perpetrators of the ambush, the same must prevail over
RICARDO] FAILED TO CAST ILL-MOTIVE ON THE PART OF PROSECUTION WITNESSES
the alleged inconsistencies, as well as the defense of denial and alibi interposed by
AND THAT THESE WITNESSES HAD NO IMPROPER AND NEFARIOUS MOTIVE IN
the appellants. Denial is a negative and self-serving assertion that cannot overcome
TESTIFYING AGAINST THE APPELLANTS;
the victim’s affirmative, categorical and convincing testimony. In the same way, for
IV. alibi to prosper, it must be established by positive, clear and satisfactory proof that
it was impossible for the accused to be at the scene of the crime at the time of its
THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE TESTIMONY OF THE MILITARY MEN commission and not merely assert that he was somewhere else. As in the present
WHO ARE NEUTRAL, IMPARTIAL AND OBJECTIVE WITNESSES; case, the trial court took judicial notice of the distance of seven (7) kilometers
between Salvador, Lanao del Norte, where appellants reside, and San Manuel, Lala,
V.
Lanao del Norte, where the ambush incident took place. Appellants, therefore,
could not successfully invoke alibi as a defense because it was not physically
impossible for them to have been at the scene of the crime.42 The Court of Appeals The trial court and the Court of Appeals committed reversible error when they
then decreed as follows: deliberately refused or failed to consider and appreciate the testimonies of the
military officers who are neutral, impartial, and objective witnesses;
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the separate APPEALS are DENIED, and
the appealed Decision is hereby AFFIRMED.43 IV.

Still undaunted, appellants elevated the aforesaid Decision of the Court of Appeals Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals miserably failed to consider the
to this Court via Notice of Appeal. evidence for the defense despite the clear and unmistakable proof of their honesty
and integrity;
In a Resolution44 dated 19 November 2008, the Court required the parties to
simultaneously submit their respective supplemental briefs, if they so desire. In lieu V.
thereof, the Office of the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation 45 stating that it will
no longer file a supplement to its Consolidated Appellee’s Brief 46 dated 14 The trial court and the Court of Appeals clearly and deliberately misinterpreted the
December 2006 there being no transactions, occurrences or events which have facts and misapplied the laws regarding "flight" as an alleged indication of guilt;
happened since the appellate court’s Decision was rendered.
VI.
47
Appellants, on the other hand, filed their separate Supplemental Briefs, which
The trial court and the Court of Appeals convicted appellant Wenceslaobased on
were a mere rehash of the arguments already discussed in their respective
jurisprudence on "alibi" which are not applicable in the case at bar 50 [Emphasis and
Appellant’s Briefs48 submitted before the appellate court. In his Supplemental Brief,
italicized omitted].
appellant Wenceslao reiterates that: the trial court and the Court of Appeals
committed reversible errors when they decided a question of substance which is Appellant Wenceslao contends that a thorough perusal of the testimonies of the
not in accord with established facts and the applicable laws. 49 He, once again, prosecution witnesses would show these are tainted with glaring inconsistencies,
enumerated the following errors committed by the appellate court, thus: which are badges of lies and dishonesty, thus, casting doubts on their credibility.

I. The inconsistencies referred to by appellant Wenceslao are as follows: (1) whether


PFC Tomanto and PFC Angni were already with Mayor Tawan-tawan from Salvador,
The court a quo and the Court of Appeals gravely erred when they ruled that the
Lanao del Norte, to Tubod, Lanao del Norte, and vice-versa, or they merely hitched
inconsistencies committed by the prosecution witnesses are on minor and trivial
a ride in Mayor Tawan-tawan’s vehicle on their way home to Salvador, Lanao del
points when these inconsistencies are indicative of the innocence of appellant
Norte; (2) if so, the place where PFC Tomanto and PFC Angni hitched a ride in
Wenceslao;
Mayor Tawan-tawan’s vehicle; (3) the officer from whom PFC Tomanto and PFC
II. Angni got permission in order to go home to Salvador, Lanao del Norte; (4) PFC
Angni allegedly knew appellant Wenceslao prior to the ambush incident on 5 June
The trial court and the Court of Appeals failed to consider as indicative of innocence 2001 and he even saw appellant Wenceslao as among the perpetrators of the
of appellant Wenceslao the fact that the authorities did not include in the police ambush, yet, he did not mention the name of the former in his affidavit; (5) Mayor
report the name of appellant Wenceslao and did not arrest him immediately after Tawan-tawan should have mentioned the name of appellant Wenceslao as one of
the ambush, or within a couple of months from the date of the ambush; those responsible in the ambush incident when he reported the same to SPO4
Medrano; (6) SPO4 Medrano should have included the name of appellant
III. Wenceslao in the Spot Reports he transmitted to the Provincial Police Office of the
PNP and should have immediately caused his arrest if he truly participated in the
ambush incident; (7) it would no longer be necessary to discharge Samuel and to findings on the matter of credibility of witnesses will not be disturbed on appeal. 52 A
make him as state witness if the victims of the ambush incident, indeed, saw the careful perusal of the records of this case revealed that none of these
perpetrators of the crime; and (8) if appellant Wenceslao was one of the circumstances is attendant herein.
ambushers, Samuel would not have failed to mention the former in his sworn
statement. The affirmance by the Court of Appeals of the factual findings of the trial court
places this case under the rule that factual findings are final and conclusive and may
Appellant Wenceslao believes that the afore-enumerated inconsistencies only not be reviewed on appeal to this Court. No reason has been given by appellants to
proved that he has no participation in the ambush of Mayor Tawan-tawan and his deviate from the factual findings arrived at by the trial court as affirmed by the
companions. The declaration of his innocence is thus called for. Court of Appeals.

Appellant Wenceslao further imputes ill-motive and malice on the testimonies of In the present case, most of the prosecution witnesses, i.e., Macasuba, Mosanip,
the prosecution witnesses in testifying against him. The motive was to remove him, PFC Tomanto, PFC Angni, Juanito and Mayor Tawan-tawan, were victims of the 5
being the only non-Muslim leader, in the Municipality of Salvador, Lanao del Norte, June 2001 ambush incident. As such, they actually witnessed what exactly
who has the courage to challenge the reign of Mayor Tawan-tawan and his clan. It happened on that fateful day, especially Macasuba and PFC Angni, who vividly saw
was also an act of revenge against him for opposing Mayor Tawan-tawan during the appellant Wenceslao on the right side of the road and in a squatting position firing
1998 elections. As to Samuel’s motive, appellant Wenceslao claims that it was for at them with his M-16 armalite rifle. Macasuba and PFC Angni, having seated
self-preservation, freedom, leniency and some other consideration. Evidently, after behind the driver and on the rear (open) portion of the yellow pick-up service
Samuel’s testimony, the latter was released from jail. vehicle, respectively, both facing the right side of the road, were in such a position
to see without any obstruction how appellant Wenceslao rained bullets on their
Appellant Wenceslao maintains that he was not at the ambush site on 5 June 2001 vehicle with his M-16 armalite rifle while they were traversing the road of San
as can be gleaned from the testimonies of M/Sgt. Cudilla and Sgt. Garsuta. Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte, on their way home to Salvador, Lanao del Norte.
Macasuba was also able to identify appellant Ricardo, Pedro, Eduardo, Sr., Eduardo,
Lastly, appellant Wenceslao argues that his flight was not an indication of guilt. He
Jr., Brigido and Alfredo as among the perpetrators of the ambush.
justified his temporary absence from his residence by stating that it was because of
the traumatic experience of his wife, who had no peace of mind since their house It bears stressing that the ambush happened at around 3:00 p.m., in broad daylight,
was riddled with bullets by lawless elements without any cause. such that it would not be impossible for Macasuba and PFC Angni to have seen and
identified their assailants, particularly appellant Wenceslao, who was once chief of
With all the foregoing, the resolution of this appeal hinges primarily on the
Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), then municipal councilor and twice elected
determination of credibility of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.
vice-mayor of Salvador, Lanao del Norte, i.e., 1992 and 1995 elections, and
Time and again, this Court held that when the issues revolve on matters of appellant Ricardo, who is a resident of Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte. 53
credibility of witnesses, the findings of fact of the trial court, its calibration of the
The aforesaid assertions of Macasuba and PFC Angni were equally confirmed by
testimonies of the witnesses, and its assessment of the probative weight thereof, as
Samuel, an accused-turned-state-witness, who, in his testimony before the open
well as its conclusions anchored on said findings, are accorded high respect, if not
court, narrated how appellants and their co-accused, Pedro, Eduardo, Sr., Eduardo,
conclusive effect. This is so because the trial court has the unique opportunity to
Jr., Brigido, Alfredo, Alejandro, Ruben, Arnel, and Opao, brought him in the waiting
observe the demeanor of witnesses and is in the best position to discern whether
shed in Purok 2, San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte; assembled themselves in a
they are telling the truth.51 Moreover, credibility, to state what is axiomatic, is the
diamond position on both sides of the road; surreptitiously waited for the vehicle
sole province of the trial court. In the absence of any clear showing that it
boarded by Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group; and executed the ambush from the
overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight
and substance that would have affected the result of the case, the trial court's
moment the vehicle boarded by Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group passed by the Similarly, PFC Angni and Samuel’s failure to name appellant Wenceslao in their
aforesaid waiting shed. affidavits/sworn statements as one of the ambushers does not necessarily render
their testimonies implausible and unworthy of belief.
Samuel was in an advantageous position to substantiate the identities of the
appellants and their co-accused as the perpetrators of the ambush because he was Inconsistencies between the sworn statement and direct testimony given in open
near the scene of the crime, i.e., merely five (5) meters away therefrom. This is court do not necessarily discredit the witness. An affidavit, being taken ex-parte, is
aside from the fact that appellants and their co-accused were the very same people oftentimes incomplete and is generally regarded as inferior to the testimony of the
who brought him to the site of the ambush. Appellants and their co-accused witness in open court. Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that testimonies given
likewise stayed for a long period of time in the house of Samuel’s aunt prior to the during trial are much more exact and elaborate than those stated in sworn
ambush incident and Samuel is very well-acquainted with these people for he statements, which are usually incomplete and inaccurate for a variety of reasons.
himself resided therein.54 More so, because of the partial and innocent suggestions, or for want of specific
inquiries. In addition, an extrajudicial statement or affidavit is generally not
Given the foregoing, it is beyond any cavil of doubt that prosecution witnesses, prepared by the affiant himself but by another who uses his own language in
Macasuba, PFC Angni and Samuel, have firmly established the identities of writing the affiant’s statement, hence, omissions and misunderstandings by the
appellants as the perpetrators of the ambush. In addition, their testimonies on who writer are not infrequent. Indeed, the prosecution witnesses’ direct and categorical
and how the crime was committed were characterized by the trial court as simple declarations on the witness stand are superior to their extrajudicial
and candid. Even their answers to questions were simple, straightforward and statements.56 Similarly, the failure of a witness to immediately disclose the name of
categorical. Such simplicity and candidness in their testimonies only prove that they the culprit does not necessarily impair his or her credibility.57
were telling the truth, thus, strengthening their credibility as witnesses.
A meticulous perusal of Samuel’s sworn statement reveals that he categorically
Now, as regards the inconsistencies pointed out by appellant Wenceslao that mentioned therein the name of appellant Wenceslao as one of the ambushers. In
allegedly cast doubt on the credibility of the prosecution witnesses, this Court finds his sworn statement, Samuel specifically stated that during the ambush, he saw
them frivolous, trivial, minor, irrelevant and have nothing to do with the essential appellant Wenceslao at the other side of the road, just a few meters away from the
elements of the crime charged, i.e., double murder with multiple frustrated murder bridge, who, at that time armed with an M-16 rifle, was likewise firing towards the
and double attempted murder. In the same manner, they do not detract from the group of Mayor Tawan-tawan.58
fact that Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group, which includes PFC Tomanto and PFC
Angni, were ambushed by appellants and their co-accused on 5 June 2001 while on Above all, both PFC Angni and Samuel positively identified appellant Wenceslao in
board the yellow pick-up service vehicle as it passed by the waiting shed in Purok 2, open court as one of those responsible for the ambush of Mayor Tawan-tawan and
San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte. And, said ambush resulted in the death of PO3 his group.59 Such open court declaration is much stronger than their
Dela Cruz and T/Sgt. Dacoco and injuries to Macasuba, Mosanip, PFC Tomanto, PFC affidavits/sworn statements.
Angni and Juanito.
Mayor Tawan-tawan’s failure to disclose to SPO4 Medrano the name of appellant
It is axiomatic that slight variations in the testimony of a witness as to minor details Wenceslao as one of those responsible in the ambush and SPO4 Medrano’s failure
or collateral matters do not affect his or her credibility as these variations are in fact to include the name of appellant Wenceslao in the Spot Reports he transmitted to
indicative of truth and show that the witness was not coached to fabricate or the Provincial Police Office of the PNP would not inure to appellant Wenceslao’s
dissemble. An inconsistency, which has nothing to do with the elements of a crime, benefit.
is not a ground to reverse a conviction.55
As can be gleaned from the transcript of stenographic notes, when Mayor Tawan-
tawan and SPO4 Medrano met at the scene of the crime, the former immediately
told the latter that appellant Wenceslao was one of the ambushers. 60This belied the
claim of appellant Wenceslao that Mayor Tawan-tawan did not tell SPO4 Medrano was to remove him as the only non-Muslim leader in the Municipality of Salvador,
that he (appellant Wenceslao) was among the ambushers. Also, SPO4 Medrano Lanao del Norte, and that it was an act of revenge for opposing Mayor Tawan-
provided an explanation61 for his failure to state in his Spot Reports the name of tawan during the 1998 elections. Appellant Wenceslao failed to present an iota of
appellant Wenceslao as one of the ambushers. And, even granting that his evidence to support his aforesaid allegations. As properly stated by the Court of
explanation would not have been satisfactory, still, SPO4 Medrano’s failure to Appeals, "mere allegation or claim is not proof. Each party must prove his own
mention appellant Wenceslao’s name in his Spot Reports was not fatal to the cause affirmative allegation." Also, it must be emphasized that during the 1998 elections,
of the prosecution. More especially because appellant Wenceslao was positively it was Mayor Tawan-tawan who won the mayoralty position. It is, therefore, highly
identified by the prosecution witnesses as one of the perpetrators of the crime. implausible for Mayor Tawan-tawan, who emerged as the victor, to take revenge
against the losing candidate, appellant Wenceslao. As such, appellant Wenceslao
Even the discharge of Samuel to become state witness does not negate the fact that failed to prove any ill-motive on the part of the prosecution witnesses. It is settled
prosecution witnesses, Macasuba and PFC Angni, indeed, saw appellants as among that where the defense fails to prove that witnesses are moved by improper
the perpetrators of the crime. To note, appellants were not the only persons motives, the presumption is that they were not so moved and their testimonies are
accused of the crime; they were many including Pedro, Eduardo, Sr., Eduardo, Jr., therefore entitled to full weight and credit.63
Brigido, Alfredo, Alejandro, Ruben, Arnel, and Opao. In order to give justice to the
victims of the ambush, especially those who have died by reason thereof, all To repeat, most of the prosecution witnesses are victims of the ambush. Being the
persons responsible therefor must be penalized. Since Samuel knew all those who aggrieved parties, they all desire justice for what had happened to them, thus, it is
have participated in the ambush incident, his testimony as to the other accused in unnatural for them to falsely accuse someone other than the real culprits.
this case is material to strengthen the case of the prosecution against them. Otherwise stated, it is very unlikely for these prosecution witnesses to implicate an
Unfortunately, the other accused in this case remained at large until now. innocent person to the crime. It has been correctly observed that the natural
interest of witnesses, who are relatives of the victims, more so, the victims
As aptly observed by the trial court, thus: themselves, in securing the conviction of the guilty would deter them from
implicating persons other than the culprits, for otherwise, the culprits would gain
x x x The Court is convinced without equivocation on the veracity of the testimonies
immunity.64
of the prosecution eyewitnesses who are all in one pointing to herein appellant
Wenceslao as one of those who participated in the ambush, and on the veracity of Contrary to appellant Wenceslao’s assertion, this Court is convince that his and
the testimonies of the two prosecution eyewitnesses – Macasuba and Samuel – to appellant Ricardo’s flight from the scene of the crime immediately after the ambush
the effect that appellant Ricardo was among the people who perpetrated the said is an evidence of their guilt. It is noteworthy that after the ambush incident,
ambush. appellant Wenceslao immediately left his residence and moved to his father’s
house, then to his son’s house in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte, and lastly to Katipa,
The testimonies of these witnesses were simple and candid. The simplicity and
Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental, where he was arrested. Appellant Ricardo did the
candidness of their testimonies only prove that they were telling the truth. Their
same thing. From his residence in Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, he
answers to questions were simple, straightforward and categorical; spontaneous,
transferred to his parents-in-law’s house, then he left alone for Ozamis City,
frank and consistent. Thus, a witness who testifies categorically, spontaneously,
Misamis Occidental, and thereafter, moved to Puting Bato in Sapad, Lanao del
frankly and consistently is a credible witness.62
Norte, until he was arrested on 20 December 2001. If appellants were truly
Appellant Wenceslao’s allegations of ill-motive and malice on the part of innocent of the crime charged, they would not go into hiding rather they would face
prosecution witnesses, including Samuel, have no leg to stand on. their accusers to clear their names. Courts go by the biblical truism that "the wicked
flee when no man pursueth but the righteous are as bold as a lion."65
The records are bereft of any evidence to substantiate the claim of appellant
Wenceslao that the motive of the prosecution witnesses in testifying against him
Appellants’ respective explanations regarding their flight fail to persuade this Court. by credible persons.70 This Court further quote with conformity the observation
It bears emphasis that after the alleged strafing of appellant Wenceslao’s house, all made by the trial court, viz:
he did is to move from one place to another instead of having it investigated by the
authorities. Until now, the alleged strafing of his house remains a mystery. If that FURTHER, the testimonies of the above-named witnesses for herein appellant
strafing incident truly happened, he would be much eager to know who caused it in Wenceslao were shattered by the testimony of Rudy, another witness for appellant
order to penalize the author thereof. Appellant Ricardo, on the other hand, was Wenceslao, who categorically told the Court that during the time he and his
allegedly afraid of being persecuted for being one of the supporters of Mayor companions Jacob Pepito and a certain Romy were in the house of appellant
Tawan-tawan’s political rival. His fear, however, was more imaginary than real. The Wenceslao in the afternoon of 5 June 2001, there was no unusual incident that took
aforesaid claim of appellant Ricardo was uncorroborated, hence, cannot be given place, as well as no unusual incident that happened when they left the house of
any considerable weight. appellant Wenceslao at about 2:45 in the afternoon.

In light of the clear, positive and straightforward testimonies of prosecution The foregoing testimony of Rudy clearly imparts that the visit of Rudy and his
witnesses, coupled with their positive identification of appellants as among the companions to the house of appellant Wenceslao, if any, happened on another
perpetrators of the ambush, appellants’ defense of denial and alibi cannot prosper. date. This will be so because if appellant Wenceslao and his closely related
witnesses are telling the truth that Jacob Pepito, Rudy and Romy were in the house
As this Court has oft pronounced, both denial and alibi are inherently weak of appellant Wenceslao talking about the said election returns during that fateful
defenses which cannot prevail over the positive and credible testimonies of the afternoon, then definitely, Rudy should have had known of the ambush incident,
prosecution witnesses that appellants committed the crime. 66 For alibi to prosper, said incident being spreaded throughout or shall we say, "the talk of the town" that
the requirements of time and place must be strictly met. It is not enough to prove afternoon of 5 June 2001.
that appellants were somewhere else when the crime happened. They must also
demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that it was physically impossible for If the ambush incident occurred on the day Rudy and his companions visited
them to have been at the scene of the crime at the approximate time of its appellant Wenceslao, then, no doubt that Rudywill tell the Court about it. But his
commission.67 Unless substantiated by clear and convincing proof, such defense is testimony was otherwise.71 [Emphasis supplied].
negative, self-serving, and undeserving of any weight in law.68 A mere denial, like
In the same breath, appellant Ricardo’s defense of denial and alibi cannot be given
alibi, is inherently a weak defense and constitutes self-serving negative evidence,
any evidentiary value as it was unsubstantiated. Appellant Ricardo never presented
which cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight than the declaration of
any witness to support his claim that he was simply inside their house attending to
credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. 69
his wife and children during the time that the ambush incident happened. This
In this case, both appellants claimed that they were just in their respective houses Court reiterates that mere denial, if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing
in Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, when the ambush incident happened and evidence, is a self-serving assertion that deserves no weight in law. Between the
they have no involvement whatsoever in the commission thereof. categorical and positive assertions of the prosecution witnesses and the negative
averments of the accused which are uncorroborated by reliable and independent
To corroborate appellant Wenceslao’s testimony, the defense presented Armida, evidence, the former indisputably deserve more credence and are entitled to
Jeffrey and Luzviminda, who are appellant Wenceslao’s wife, nephew and niece, greater evidentiary weight.72
respectively. This Court, however, cannot give credence to the testimonies of these
defense witnesses. Being appellant Wenceslao’s relatives, their testimonies are Withal, it was not physically impossible for the appellants to be at the scene of the
rendered suspect because the former’s relationship to them makes it likely that crime in the afternoon of 5 June 2001. As observed by the trial court and the
they would freely perjure themselves for his sake. The defense of alibi may not appellate court, Poblacion, Salvador, Lanao del Norte, where both appellants’
prosper if it is established mainly by the appellant himself and his relatives, and not reside, is only about seven (7) kilometers away from San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del
Norte, where the ambush took place.73
All told, this Court affirms the findings of the trial court and the appellate court defense that the offended party might make. There are two (2) conditions that
that, indeed, appellants were among the perpetrators of the ambush against Mayor must concur for treachery to exist, to wit: (a) the employment of means of
Tawan-tawan and his group. Prosecution witnesses’ categorical, positive and execution gave the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself or to
straightforward testimonies, coupled with their positive identification of appellants retaliate; and (b) the means or method of execution was deliberately and
as among the perpetrators of the crime, prevail over appellants’ defense of bare consciously adopted. "The essence of treachery is that the attack is deliberate and
denial and alibi. without warning, done in a swift and unexpected manner, affording the hapless,
unarmed and unsuspecting victim no chance to resist or escape."74
As to the crime committed. The trial court, as well as the appellate court, convicted
appellants of double murder with multiple frustrated murder and double attempted The deadly successive shots of the appellants and their co-accused did not allow the
murder. This Court believes, however, that appellants should be convicted not of a hapless victims, i.e., PO3 Dela Cruz and T/Sgt. Dacoco, any opportunity to put up a
complex crime but of separate crimes of two (2) counts of murder and seven (7) decent defense. The attack was executed by appellants and their-co-accused in
counts of attempted murder as the killing and wounding of the victims in this case such a vicious manner as to make the defense virtually impossible. Under the
were not the result of a single act but of several acts of the appellants, thus, making circumstances, it is very apparent that appellants had murder in their hearts when
Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code inapplicable. they waylaid their unwary victims.75 Thus, as to the death of PO3 Dela Cruz and
T/Sgt. Dacoco, appellants should be held liable for murder.
Appellants and their co-accused simultaneous act of riddling the vehicle boarded by
Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group with bullets discharged from their firearms The aggravating circumstance of abuse of superior strength, however, cannot be
when the said vehicle passed by San Manuel, Lala, Lanao del Norte, resulted in the appreciated as it is deemed absorbed in treachery.76
death of two security escorts of Mayor Tawan-tawan, i.e., PO3 Dela Cruz and T/Sgt.
Dacoco. Since the prosecution failed to prove the attending circumstance of evident
premeditation, the circumstance cannot likewise be appreciated. To prove this
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code provides: aggravating circumstance, the prosecution must show the following: (1) the time
when the offender determined to commit the crime; (2) an act manifestly indicating
ART. 248. Murder. – Any person who, not falling within the provisions of article 246 that the offender clung to his determination; and (3) a lapse of time, between the
shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion determination to commit the crime and the execution thereof, sufficient to allow
perpetua to death if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances: the offender to reflect upon the consequences of his act. 77 None of these elements
could be gathered from the evidence on record.
1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed
men, or employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure As regards the victims Macasuba, Mosanip, PFC Tomanto, PFC Angni and Juanito,
or afford impunity. although they were injured during the ambush and were all hospitalized, except for
Macasuba, it was not mentioned that their injuries and wounds were mortal or fatal
xxxx
such that without the timely medical assistance accorded to them, they would have
5. With evident premeditation. [Emphasis supplied]. died.78 However, it does not necessarily follow that the crimes committed against
the aforenamed victims were simply less serious physical injuries. Also, even though
Treachery, which was alleged in the Information, attended the commission of the Mayor Tawan-tawan and Jun did not sustain any injury during the ambush, it does
crime. Time and again, this Court, in a plethora of cases, has consistently held that not mean that no crime has been committed against them. The latter were just
there is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, fortunate enough not to have sustained any injury on the occasion thereof. Since
employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof, which tend directly appellants were motivated by the same intent to kill, thus, as to Macasuba,
and specially to ensure its execution without risk to himself arising from the
Mosanip, PFC Tomanto, PFC Angni, Juanito, Mayor Tawan-tawan and Jun, aiming each particular moment at different persons constitute distinct and
appellants should be held guilty of attempted murder. individual acts which cannot give rise to a complex crime. 82

What brings this case out of the ordinary is the issue of applicability of Article 48 of Obviously, appellants and their co-accused performed not only a single act but
the Revised Penal Code. Its resolution would determine whether the conviction of several individual and distinct acts in the commission of the crime. Thus, Article 48
appellants must be for the separate crimes of two (2) counts of murder and seven of the Revised Penal Code would not apply for it speaks only of a "single act."
(7) counts of attempted murder or of the complex crime of double murder with
multiple frustrated murder and double attempted murder. There are, however, several rulings which applied Article 48 of the Revised Penal
Code despite the fact that several acts were performed by several accused in the
The concept of a complex crime is defined in Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code commission of the crime resulting to the death and/or injuries to their victims.
which explicitly states that:79
In People v. Lawas,83 the members of the Home Guard, upon order of their leader,
ART. 48. Penalty for complex crimes. – When a single act constitutes two or more Lawas, simultaneously and successively fired at several victims. As a result, 50
grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for persons died. It was there held that the killing was the result of a single impulse as
committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the there was no intent on the part of the accused to fire at each and every victim
same to be applied in its maximum period. [Emphasis supplied]. separately and distinctly from each other.

In a complex crime, two or more crimes are actually committed, however, in the If the act or acts complained of resulted from a single criminal impulse, it
eyes of the law and in the conscience of the offender they constitute only one constitutes a single offense. However, "single criminal impulse" was not the only
crime, thus, only one penalty is imposed. There are two kinds of complex crime. The consideration in applying Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code in the said case
first is known as compound crime, or when a single act constitutes two or more because there was therein no evidence at all showing the identity or number of
grave or less grave felonies while the other is known as complex crime proper, or persons killed by each accused. There was also no conspiracy to perpetuate the
when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other. The classic killing, thus, collective criminal responsibility could not be imputed upon the
example of the first kind is when a single bullet results in the death of two or more accused. Since it was impossible to ascertain the number of persons killed by each
persons. A different rule governs where separate and distinct acts result in a of them, this Court was "forced" to find all the accused guilty of only one offense of
number killed. Deeply rooted is the doctrine that when various victims expire from multiple homicide instead of holding each of them responsible for 50 deaths. 84
separate shots, such acts constitute separate and distinct crimes. 80
Significantly, there was no conspiracy in People v. Lawas. However, as this Court
Evidently, there is in this case no complex crime proper. And the circumstances held in People v. Remollino,85 the Lawas doctrine is more of an exception than the
present in this case do not fit exactly the description of a compound crime. general rule.

From its factual backdrop, it can easily be gleaned that the killing and wounding of There is conspiracy when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning
the victims were not the result of a single discharge of firearms by the appellants the commission of a felony and then decide to commit it. It arises on the very
and their co-accused. To note, appellants and their co-accused opened fire and instant the plotters agree, expressly or impliedly, to commit the felony and
rained bullets on the vehicle boarded by Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group. As a forthwith decide to pursue it. Once established, each and every one of the
result, two security escorts died while five (5) of them were wounded and injured. conspirators is made criminally liable for the crime actually committed by any one
The victims sustained gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies. Therefrom, of them. In the absence of any direct proof, the agreement to commit a crime may
it cannot be gainsaid that more than one bullet had hit the victims. Moreover, more be deduced from the mode and manner of the commission of the offense or
than one gunman fired at the vehicle of the victims. As held in People v. inferred from acts that point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action, and
Valdez,81 each act by each gunman pulling the trigger of their respective firearms, community of interest. As such, it does not matter who inflicted the mortal wound,
as each of the actors incurs the same criminal liability, because the act of one is the In People v. De los Santos,92 a prison riot occurred for two consecutive days inside
act of all.86 the national penitentiary between the members of two gangs, i.e., Sigue-Sigue
Sputnik and Oxo. As a result, nine (9) inmates were killed. Fourteen (14) inmates
The Information filed against appellants and their co-accused alleged conspiracy, were then convicted for the crime of multiple murder. The existence of conspiracy
among others. Although the trial court did not directly state that a conspiracy in the commission of the crime was duly proven. There was, however, no discussion
existed, such may be inferred from the concerted actions of the appellants and why the accused were convicted of a complex crime instead of separate crimes.
their co-accused, to wit: (1) appellants and their co-accused brought Samuel to a
waiting shed located on the left side of the road where the yellow pick-up service In a similar case of People v. Abella,93 involving the massacre of certain prisoners in
vehicle boarded by Mayor Tawan-tawan and his group would pass; (2) appellants the Davao Penal Colony and a reprise of a similar riot that occurred in the national
and their co-accused, thereafter, assembled themselves on both sides of the road penitentiary on 16 February 1958 (subject of De los Santos), all the accused were
and surreptitiously waited for the aforesaid yellow pick-up service vehicle; (3) the also convicted for the complex crime of multiple murder and multiple frustrated
moment the yellow pick-up service vehicle passed by the waiting shed, appellants murder. Conspiracy likewise attended the commission of the crime. This Court
and their co-accused opened fire and rained bullets thereon resulting in the killing applied the ruling in De los Santos and elucidated that the ruling in the said case is
and wounding of the victims; (4) immediately, appellants and their co-accused ran predicated on the theory that "when for the attainment of a single purpose which
towards the house of Samuel’s aunt to get their bags and other stuff; (5) Samuel constitutes an offense, various acts are executed, such acts must be considered
followed appellants and their co-accused; and (6) appellants and their co-accused only as one offense," a complex one. The Lawas doctrine was equally applied
fled. although conspiracy had been duly proven. This Court then stated that where a
conspiracy animates several persons with a single purpose "their individual acts in
Conspiracy is very much evident from the afore-enumerated actuations of the pursuance of that purpose are looked upon as a single act – the act of execution –
appellants and their co-accused. Clearly, their acts were coordinated. They were giving rise to a complex offense. The felonious agreement produces a sole and
synchronized in their approach to riddle with bullets the vehicle boarded by Mayor solidary liability: each confederate forms but a part of a single being."94
Tawan-tawan and his group. They were motivated by a single criminal impulse ─ to
kill the victims. Indubitably, conspiracy is implied when the accused persons had a People v. Garcia95 and People v. Pincalin96 have the same factual background as De
common purpose and were united in its execution. Spontaneous agreement or los Santos and Abella. They were the third and fourth cases, respectively, of prison
active cooperation by all perpetrators at the moment of the commission of the riots resulting to the killing of convicts by fellow convicts while inside the national
crime is sufficient to create joint criminal responsibility.87 penitentiary. In Garcia, the accused were convicted for the complex crime of
multiple murder and double attempted murder, while in Pincalin the accused were
With the presence of conspiracy in the case at bench, appellants and their co- convicted for the complex crime of double murder and frustrated murder. In both
accused had assumed joint criminal responsibility ─ the act of one is the act of all. cases, this Court found conspiracy to have attended the commission of the crime.
The ascertainment of who among them actually hit, killed and/or caused injury to
the victims already becomes immaterial. Collective responsibility replaced In applying Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code in Garcia and Pincalin, this Court,
individual responsibility. The Lawas doctrine, premised on the impossibility of gave the same justification as in Abella: that both cases were covered by the rule
determining who killed whom, cannot, to repeat, be applied. that "when for the attainment of a single purpose, which constitutes an offense
various acts are executed, such acts must be considered as only one offense, a
Interestingly, in People v. De los Santos,88 People v. Abella,89 People v. Garcia90 and complex one." Correspondingly, "where a conspiracy animates several persons with
People v. Pincalin,91 this Court also applied Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code a single purpose, their individual acts done in pursuance of that purpose are looked
even though several acts were performed by the accused and conspiracy attended upon as a single act, the act of execution, giving rise to a complex offense. Various
the commission of the crime. acts committed under one criminal impulse may constitute a single complex
offense.97
We however found no intention by this Court to establish as doctrine, contrary to or it was not a case of prisoners killing fellow prisoners. As such, Abella would not
Lawas, that Article 48 is applicable even in cases where several acts were apply.
performed by the accused and conspiracy attended the commission of the crime. In
Pincalin, this Court has already clarified that: nonetheless, this Court further held To repeat, in Lawas, this Court was merely forced to apply Article 48 of the Revised
that "in other cases where several killings on the same occasion were perpetrated, Penal Code because of the impossibility of ascertaining the number of persons
but not involving prisoners, a different rule may be applied, that is to say, the killed by each accused. Since conspiracy was not proven therein, joint criminal
killings would be treated as separate offenses, as opined by Mr. Justice Makasiar responsibility could not be attributed to the accused. Each accused could not be
and as held in some decided cases."98 held liable for separate crimes because of lack of clear evidence showing the
number of persons actually killed by each of them.
De los Santos, Abella, Garcia and Pincalin, therefore, were exceptions to the general
rule stated in Article 48 which exceptions were drawn by the peculiar circumstance Proven conspiracy could have overcome the difficulty.
of the cases.
Our repeated ruling is that in conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. It is as
It may be mentioned that in People v. Sanidad,99 this Court, once again, applied though each one performed the act of each one of the conspirators. Each one is
Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code although the circumstances of the case were criminally responsible for each one of the deaths and injuries of the several victims.
not the same as in Lawas, De los Santos, Abella, Garcia and Pincalin, where this The severalty of the acts prevents the application of Article 48. The applicability of
Court departed from the general rule. Article 48 depends upon the singularity of the act, thus the definitional phrase "a
single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies." This is not an
In Sanidad, suddenly and without a warning, several accused unleashed a volley of original reading of the law. In People v. Hon. Pineda,101 the Court already recognized
shots at the jeepney boarded by the victims. Miraculously, all passengers, except the "deeply rooted x x x doctrine that when various victims expire from separate
Rolando Tugadi (Rolando), survived the ambush and suffered only minor injuries. shots, such acts constitute separate and distinct crimes." As we observed in People
Conspiracy attended the commission of the crime. Accused were convicted for the v. Tabaco,102 clarifying the applicability of Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, this
complex crime of murder and multiple attempted murder. We there held that the Court further stated in Hon. Pineda that "to apply the first half of Article 48, x x x
case comes within the purview of Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. Citing Lawas there must be singularity of criminal act; singularity of criminal impulse is not
and Abella, it was pronounced that although several independent acts were written into the law."103
performed by the accused, it was not possible to determine who among them
actually killed Rolando; and that there was no evidence that the accused intended With all the foregoing, this Court holds appellants liable for the separate crimes of
to fire at each and every one of the victims separately and distinctly from each two (2) counts of murder and seven (7) counts of attempted murder.
other. On the premise that the evidence clearly shows a single criminal impulse to
As to penalty. Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty imposed for
kill Marlon Tugadi’s group as a whole, we repeated that where a conspiracy
the crime of murder is reclusion perpetua to death. There being neither aggravating
animates several persons with a single purpose, their individual acts done in
nor mitigating circumstance, the penalty to be imposed upon appellants is reclusion
pursuance of that purpose are looked upon as a single act, the act of execution,
perpetua for each count, pursuant to paragraph 2, Article 63104 of the Revised Penal
giving rise to a single complex offense.100
Code.105
The reliance in Sanidad, on Lawas and Abella is incorrect.
Appellants are also guilty of seven (7) counts of attempted murder. The penalty
The application of the Abella doctrine, has already been clarified in Pincalin, thus: prescribed by law for murder, i.e., reclusion perpetua to death, should be reduced
where several killings on the same occasion were perpetrated, but not involving by two degrees, conformably to Article 51 106 of the Revised Penal Code. Under
prisoners, a different rule may be applied, that is to say, the killings would be paragraph 2, Article 61,107 in relation to Article 71 of the Revised Penal Code, such a
treated as separate offenses. Since in Sanidad, the killings did not involve prisoners penalty is prision mayor. There being neither mitigating nor aggravating
circumstance, the same should be imposed in its medium period pursuant to cannot be proved with certainty as provided for under Article 2224 of the Civil
paragraph 1, Article 64108 of the Revised Penal Code.109 Applying the Indeterminate Code.116 In this case, it cannot be denied that the heirs of the deceased victims
Sentence Law in the case of attempted murder, the maximum shall be taken from suffered pecuniary loss although the exact amount was not proved with certainty.
the medium period of prision mayor, which is 8 years and 1 day to 10 years, while Thus, this Court similarly awards ₱ 25,000.00 as temperate damages to the heirs of
the minimum shall be taken from the penalty next lower in degree, i.e., prision each deceased victims.117
correccional, in any of its periods, the range of which is 6 months and 1 day to 6
years. This Court, therefore, imposed upon the appellants the indeterminate The surviving victims, Macasuba, Mosanip, PFC Tomanto, PFC Angni and Juanito,
penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years of are also entitled to moral, temperate and exemplary damages.
prision mayor, as maximum, for each count of attempted murder.
Ordinary human experience and common sense dictate that the wounds inflicted
As to damages. When death occurs due to a crime, the following damages may be upon the aforesaid victims would naturally cause physical suffering, fright, serious
awarded: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for the death of the victim; (2) actual or anxiety, moral shock, and similar injuries.118 It is only justifiable to grant them moral
compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary damages; and (5) damages in the amount of ₱ 40,000.00 each in conformity with this Court’s ruling in
temperate damages.110 People v. Mokammad.119

Article 2206 of the Civil Code provides that when death occurs as a result of a The award of ₱ 25,000.00 each as temperate damages to Macasuba, Mosanip, PFC
crime, the heirs of the deceased are entitled to be indemnified for the death of the Tomanto, PFC Angni and Juanito is also in order. It is beyond doubt that these
victim without need of any evidence or proof thereof. Moral damages like civil victims were hospitalized and spent money for their medication. As to Macasuba,
indemnity, is also mandatory upon the finding of the fact of murder. 111 Therefore, although he was not confined in a hospital, it cannot be gainsaid that he also spent
the trial court and the appellate court properly awarded civil indemnity in the for the treatment of the minor injuries he sustained by reason of the ambush.
amount of ₱ 50,000.00 and moral damages also in the amount of ₱ 50,000.00 to the However, they all failed to present any receipt therefor. Nevertheless, it could not
heirs of each deceased victims. be denied that they suffered pecuniary loss; thus, it is only prudent to award
temperate damages in the amount of ₱ 25,000.00 to each of them.1âwphi1
Article 2230 of the Civil Code states that exemplary damages may be imposed when
the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. In this case, The award of exemplary damages is also in order. Thus, Macasuba, Mosanip, PFC
treachery may no longer be considered as an aggravating circumstance since it was Tomanto, PFC Angni and Juanito are awarded exemplary damages in the amount of
already taken as a qualifying circumstance in the murder, and abuse of superior ₱ 30,000.00 to conform to current jurisprudence.120
strength which would otherwise warrant the award of exemplary damages was
This Court likewise affirms the award of ₱ 50,000.00 for and as attorney’s fees, as
already absorbed in the treachery.112However, in People v. Combate,113 this Court
well as costs of the suit, in favor of Mayor Tawan-tawan.
still awards exemplary damages despite the lack of any aggravating circumstance to
deter similar conduct and to serve as an example for public good. Thus, to deter WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
future similar transgressions, the Court finds that an award of ₱ 30,000.00 as HC No. 00246 dated 18 June 2008 is hereby MODIFIED, as follows: (1) appellants are
exemplary damages in favor of the heirs of each deceased victims is proper. 114 The found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of murder thereby
said amount is in conformity with this Court’s ruling in People v. Gutierrez. 115 imposing upon them the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count; (2)
appellants are also found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of seven (7) counts of
Actual damages cannot be awarded for failure to present the receipts covering the
attempted murder thereby imposing upon them the indeterminate penalty of 4
expenditures for the wake, coffin, burial and other expenses for the death of the
years and 2 months of prision correccional, as minimum, to 10 years of prision
victims. In lieu thereof, temperate damages may be recovered where it has been
mayor, as maximum, for each count; (3) other than the civil indemnity and moral
shown that the victim’s family suffered some pecuniary loss but the amount thereof
damages already awarded by the trial court and the appellate court, appellants are
further ordered to pay, jointly and severally, exemplary and temperate damages in
the amount of ₱ 30,000.00 and ₱ 25,000.00, respectively, to the heirs of each
deceased victims; and (4) appellants are also directed to pay, jointly and severally,
Macasuba, Mosanip, PFC Tomanto, PFC Angni and Juanito the amount of ₱
40,000.00 each as moral damages, ₱ 25,000.00 each as temperate damages and ₱
30,000.00 each as exemplary damages.

Costs against appellants.

SO ORDERED.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 184926 missing.[6] Manito rushed home and arrived there at about 2 pm,[7] and immediately
Plaintiff-Appellee,
Present: he and Julia went in search of their daughter until 11 pm, inquiring from house to
house in the vicinity. They did not find her.[8] At 6 am of the next day, Manito
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, reported to the police that Marita was missing.[9] In her desperation, Julia sought
- versus - BERSAMIN, out a clairvoyant (manghuhula) in an adjacent barangay, and the latter hinted that
DEL CASTILLO, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ. Marita might be found only five houses away from their own. Following the
clairvoyants direction, they found Maritas lifeless body covered with a blue and
EDMUNDO VILLAFLORES Promulgated:
yellow sack[10] inside the comfort room of an abandoned house about five
y OLANO,
Accused-Appellant. April 11, 2012 structures away from their own house.[11] Her face was black and blue, and
x---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x bloody.[12] She had been tortured and strangled till death.

DECISION
The ensuing police investigation led to two witnesses, Aldrin Bautista and
Jovy Solidum, who indicated that Villaflores might be the culprit who had raped and
BERSAMIN, J.:
killed Marita.[13] The police thus arrested Villaflores at around 5 pm of July 3,
1999 just as he was alighting from a vehicle.[14]
Circumstantial evidence is admissible as proof to establish both the
commission of a crime and the identity of the culprit.
On July 7, 1999, the City Prosecutor of Caloocan City filed in the RTC the
information charging Villaflores with rape with homicide committed as follows:[15]
Under review is the conviction of Edmundo Villaflores for rape with
homicide by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 128, in Caloocan City based on
That on or about the 2nd day of July, 1999 in Caloocan City,
circumstantial evidence. The Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the conviction with Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
modification on February 22, 2007.[1] the above-named accused with lewd design and by means of
force, violence and intimidation employed upon the person of one
Marita, a minor of five (5) years old, did then and there willfully,
The victim was Marita,[2] a girl who was born on October 29, 1994 based unlawfully and feloniously lie and have sexual intercourse with
said Marita, against the latters will and without her consent, and
on her certificate of live birth.[3] When her very young life was snuffed out by thereafter with deliberate intent to kill beat the minor and choked
strangulation on July 2, 1999, she was only four years and eight months old. [4] She her with nylon cord which caused the latters death.
had been playing at the rear of their residence in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City in
CONTRARY TO LAW.
the morning of July 2, 1999when Julia, her mother, first noticed her missing from
home.[5] By noontime, because Marita had not turned up, Julia called her husband
Arraigned on August 19, 1999, Villaflores pleaded not guilty to the crime
Manito at his workplace in Pasig City, and told him about Marita being [16]
charged.
sports a sputnik tattoo mark on his body while Jovie belongs to
the T.C.G. (through crusher gangster). While in Batmans place,
The CA summarized the evidence of the State in its decision, viz: although he did not see Marita, Jovie presumed that Batman was
hiding the child at the back of the house. Jovie related that
about 3:00 oclock in the afternoon of the same day, he heard
After pre-trial was terminated, the trial proceeded with the
cries of a child as he passed by the house of Batman (Narinig ko
prosecution presenting witnesses namely, Aldrin Bautista, Jovie
pong umiiyak ang batang babae at umuungol). At about 7:00
Solidum, Manito, Dr. Jose Arnel Marquez, SPO2 Protacio
oclock in the evening, Jovie saw again Batman carrying a yellow
Magtajas, SPO2 Arsenio Nacis, PO3 Rodelio Ortiz, PO Harold
sack towards a vacant house. He thought that the child must have
Blanco and PO Sonny Boy Tepase.
been in the sack because it appeared heavy. It was the sack that
he saw earlier in the house of Batman.
From their testimonies, it is gathered that in the afternoon of July
3, 1999, the lifeless body of a 5-year old child, Marita (hereinafter
Among the first to respond to the report that the dead body of a
Marita) born on October 21, 1994, (see Certificate of Live Birth
child was found was SPO2 PROTACIO MAGTAJAS, investigator at
marked as Exhibit K) was discovered by her father, Manito
Sub-station 6 Bagong Silang, Caloocan City who was dispatched by
(hereinafter Manito) beside a toilet bowl at an unoccupied house
Police Chief Inspector Alfredo Corpuz. His OIC, SPO2 Arsenio Nacis
about 5 houses away from their residence in Phase 9, Bagong
called the SOCO Team and on different vehicles they proceeded
Silang, Caloocan City. The day before at about noon time his wife
to Bagong Silang, Phase 9 arriving there at about 2 o:clock in the
called him up at his work place informing him that their daughter
afternoon of July 3, 1999. They saw the body of the child at the
was missing, prompting Jessie to hie home and search for the
back portion of an abandoned house where he himself recovered
child. He went around possible places, inquiring from neighbors
pieces of evidence such as the nylon rope (Exhibit N) and the
but no one could provide any lead until the following morning
yellow sack inside the comfort room. The child appeared black
when his wife in desperation, consulted a manghuhula at a nearby
and blue, (kawawa yong bata wasak ang mukha). He saw blood
barangay. According to the manghuhula his daughter was just at
stains on her lips and when he removed the sack covering her
the 5th house from his house. And that was how he tracked down
body, he also saw blood stains in her vagina. The yellow sack that
his daughter in exact location. She was covered with a blue sack
he was referring to when brought out in court had already a
with her face bloodied and her body soaked to the skin. He found
greenish and fleshy color. The sack was no longer in the same
a yellow sack under her head and a white rope around her neck
condition when recovered, saying, when asked by the Court:
about 2 and a half feet long and the diameter, about the size of
medyo buo pa, hindi pa ho ganyang sira-sira. There was another
his middle finger. There were onlookers around when the NBI and
sack, colored blue, which was used to cover the face of the child
policemen from Sub-station 6 arrived at the scene. The SOCO
while the yellow sack was at the back of the victim. He forgot
Team took pictures of Marita. Jessie was investigated and his
about the blue sack when SOCO Team arrived because they were
statements were marked Exhibits C, D and D-1. He incurred
the ones who brought the body to the funeral parlor. He had
funeral expenses in the total amount of P52,000.00 marked as
already interviewed some person when the SOCO Team arrived
Exhibit L and sub-markings. (See other expenses marked as Exhibit
composed of Inspector Abraham Pelotin, their team leader, and 2
M and sub-markings).
other members. He was the one who took the statement of the
wife of Edmundo Villaflores, Erlinda, and turned over the pieces of
Two (2) witnesses, Aldrin Bautista and Jovie Solidum, came
evidence to Police Officer SPO2 Arsenio Nacis who placed a tag to
forward and narrated that at about 10:00 oclock in the morning of
mark the items. When the SOCO Team arrived, a separate
July 2, 1999, they saw Edmundo Villaflores, known in the
investigation was conducted by Inspector Pelotin.
neighborhood by his Batman tag and a neighbor of the [victims
family], leading Marita by the hand (umakay sa bata). At
PO3 RODELIO ORTIZ, assigned at Station 1, Caloocan City Police
about noon time they were at Batmans house where they used
Station, as a police investigator, took the sworn statement of
shabu for a while. Both Aldrin and Jovie are drug users. Aldrin
Aldrin Bautista upon instruction of his chief, SPO2 Arsenio Nacis,
asked Aldrin to read his statement after which he signed the reaction on her part. She was with her 3 minor children in the
document then gave it to investigator, SPO2 Protacio house. She went with them to the precinct. When Sgt. Nacis asked
Magtajas. During the investigation, he caused the confrontation Mrs. Villaflores if she knew anything about what happened on the
between Aldrin Bautista and Edmundo Villaflores. Aldrin went night of July 2, initially, she denied but in the course of the
closer to the detention cell from where he identified and pointed questioning she broke down and cried and said that she saw her
to Villaflores as the one who abducted the child. Villaflores husband place some sacks under their house. He remembered the
appeared angry. wife saying, noong gabing nakita niya si Villaflores, may sako sa
silong ng bahay nila, tapos pagdating ni Villaflores, inayos niya
SPO2 ARSENIO NACIS participation was to supervise the yong sako at nilapitan niya raw, nakita niya may siko, tapos
preparation of the documents to be submitted for inquest to the tinanong niya si Villaflores, ano yon? Sabi niya, wala yon, wala
fiscal. He asked the investigator to prepare the affidavit of the yon. The wife was crying and she said that her husband was also
victims father and the statement of the two witnesses and also on drugs and even used it in front of their children. She said that
asked the investigator to prepare the referral slip and other she was willing to give a statement against her husband. Their
documents needed in the investigation. He ordered the evidence house is a kubo the floor is made of wood and there is space of
custodian, PO3 Alex Baruga to secure all the physical evidence about 2 feet between the floor and the ground. She saw the sack
recovered from the scene of the crime composed of 2 sacks. In filled with something but when she asked her husband, he said it
the afternoon of July 3, the suspect, Edmundo Villaflores was was nothing. She related that before she went outside, she again
arrested by PO3 Harold Blanco, SPO1 Antonio Alfredo, NUP took a look at the sack and she saw a protruding elbow inside the
Antonio Chan and the members of Bantay Bayan in Bagong Silang. sack. She went inside the house and went out again to check the
sack and saw the child. It was Sgt. Nacis who typed the statement
PO1 HAROLD BLANCO of the Sangandaan Police Station, Caloocan of Erlinda Villaflores which she signed. He identified the sworn
City, as follow-up operative, was in the office at about 1:00 oclock statement marked as Exhibit X and sub-markings.
in the afternoon of July 3, 1999, together with PO3 Alfredo
Antonio and Police Officer Martin Interia, when Police Inspector PO1 SONNY BOY TEPACE assigned at the NPD Crime Laboratory,
Corpuz, as leader formed a team for them to go to the scene of SOCO, Caloocan City Police Station also went to the crime scene
the crime. They immediately proceeded to Phase 9. Inspector on July 3, 1999 at about 2:50 in the afternoon with Team Leader
Corpuz entered the premises while he stayed with his companions Abraham Pelotin, at the vacant lot of Block 57, Lot 12, Phase
and guarded the place. SPO3 Magtajas was already investigating 9, Caloocan City. He cordoned the area and saw the dead child at
the case. They were informed that the group of Aldrin could shed the back of the uninhabited house. She was covered with a blue
light on the incident. Blanco and the other police officers returned sack and a nylon cord tied around her neck. There was another
to the crime scene and asked the people around, who kept mum yellow sack at the back of her head. He identified the nylon cord
and were elusively afraid to talk. When he went with SPO1 (Exhibit N) and the yellow sack. He does not know where the blue
Antonio Chan accompanied by councilman Leda to the house of sack is, but he knew that it was in the possession of the officer on
Batman, it was already padlocked. They went to the place of SPO1 case. The blue sack appears in the picture marked as Exhibits S, T,
Alfredo Antonio nearby to avoid detection and asked a child to and R, and was marked Exhibits T-3-A, S-1 and R-2-A. Thereafter
look out for Villaflores. Soon enough, a jeep from Phase 1 arrived they marked the initial report as Exhibit U and sub-markings. They
and a commotion ensued as people started blocking the way of also prepared a rough sketch dated July 3,
Villaflores, who alighted from the said jeep. The officers took him 1999 with SOCO report 047-99 marked as
in custody and brought him to Sub-station 6 and SPO3 Nacis
instructed them to fetch his wife. He was with police officer Exhibit V and the second sketch dated July 3, 1999 with SOCO
Antonio Chan and they waited for the arrival of the wife of report 047-99 marked as Exhibit W.
Villaflores from the market. When she arrived, it was already
night time. They informed her that her husband was at Sub- DR. ARNEL MARQUEZ, Medico Legal Officer of the PNP Crime
station 6 being a suspect in the killing of a child.There was no Laboratory with office at Caloocan City Police Station conducted
the autopsy on the body of Marita upon request of Chief The lining mucosa of the larynx, trachea and
Inspector Corpus. The certificate of identification and consent for esophagus are markedly congested with scattered
autopsy executed by the father of the victim was marked as petecchial hemorrhages.
Exhibit G. He opined that the victim was already dead for 24 hours
when he conducted the examination on July 3, 1999 at about 8 Stomach is full of partially digested food particles
oclock in the evening. The postmortem examination disclosed the mostly rice.
following:
Cause of death is asphyxia by strangulation.
POSTMORTEM FINDINGS:
There were multiple deep laceration at the hymen and the
Fairly developed, fairly nourished female child vestibule was abraded and markedly congested while the
cadaver in secondary stage of flaccidity with posterior fourchette was likewise lacerated and markedly
postmortem lividity at the dependent portions of the congested, too. It could have been caused by an insertion of blunt
body. Conjunctivae are pale. Lips and nailbeds are object like a human penis. The cause of death was asphyxia by
cyanotic. strangulation, in laymans term, sinakal sa pamamagitan ng tali.
The external injuries could have been caused by contact with a
HEAD, NECK AND TRUNK blunt object like a piece of wood. The abrasion could have also
been caused by a hard and rough surface. He prepared the
1) Hematoma, right periorbital region, measuring Medico Legal Report No. M-250-99 of the victim, Marita _____
4 x 3.5 cm; 3.5 cm from the anterior midline. marked as Exhibit H and sub-markings. He issued the death
2) Area of multiple abrasions, right zygomatic certificate marked as Exhibit E. The anatomical sketch
region, measuring 4 x 2.2 cm, from the anterior representing the body of the victim was marked as Exhibit I and
midline. sub-markings. The sketch of the head of the victim was marked
3) Abrasion, right cheek, measuring 1.7 x 0.8 cm, 3 Exhibit J. The injuries on the head could have been caused by hard
cm from the anterior midline. and blunt object while other injuries were caused by coming in
4) Area of multiple abrasions, upper lip, measuring contact with a hard or rough surface. There were also punctured
4 x 1 cm, bisected by the anterior midline. wounds which could have been caused by a barbecue stick or
5) Contusion, frontal region, measuring 6 x 4 cm, anything pointed. The ligature mark was congested and
6.5 cm left of the anterior midline. depressed.
6) Punctured wound, left pre-auricular region,
measuring 9.2 x 0.1 cm, 11.5 cm from the anterior On cross-examination, among others, he explained the stages of
midline. flaccidity which is the softening of the body of a dead person. The
7) Ligature mark, neck, measuring 24 x 0.5 cm, first 3 hours after death is the primary stage of flaccidity and after
bisected by the anterior midline. the third hour, the body will be in rigor mortis and after the 24
8) Abrasion, right scapular region, measuring 0.7 x hours, it is the secondary stage. The victim could have been dead
0.4 cm, 6 cm from the Posterior midline. at least 9 oclock in the morning on July 2. As regards the multiple
9) Abrasion, left scapular region, measuring 1.2 x lacerations of the hymen, it is possible that two or more persons
0.8 cm, 6.5 cm from the posterior midline. could have caused it.

There are multiple deep fresh lacerations at the


hymen. The vestibule is abraded and markedly The CA similarly summed up the evidence of Villaflores, as follows:
congested, while the posterior fourchette is likewise
lacerated and marked congested. EDMUNDO VILLAFLORES, testifying in his behalf, denied the
charge of raping and killing the child saying he did not see the
child at anytime on July 2, 1999. At around 10:00 oclock in the
morning of July 2, 1999, he was at the market place at Phase 10 to SHERWIN BORCILLO, an electronic technician and neighbor of
get some plywood for his Aunt Maring. His Aunt called him Edmundo Villaflores told the court that the charges against
at 8:30 in the morning and stayed there for about 5 hours and Villaflores were not true, the truth being, that on the night of July
arrived home at around 5:00 in the afternoon. His Aunt was 2, 1999 he saw Aldrin and Jovie at the back of his house holding a
residing at Phase 10 which is about a kilometer from his place. His sack containing something which he did not know. They were
residence is some 5 houses away from the place of the child. He talking to Batman and offering a dog contained in the sack and
knows the child because sometimes he was asked by the wife of then they left the sack near the comfort room outside the door of
Manito to fix their electrical connection. He corrected himself by the house of Batman. They came back and took the yellow sack.
saying he does not know Marita but only her father, Manito. He He followed them up to the other pathwalk and then he went
denied carrying a sack and throwing it at the vacant lot. He was home. The following day he learned that Villaflores was being
arrested on July 3, 1999 and does not know of any reason why he charged with the killing of Marita. At first, he just kept quiet
was charged. He has witnesses like Maring, Sherwin, Pareng Bong because he thought Villaflores should be taught a lesson for being
and Frankie to prove that he had no participation in the killing. a drug user, but later when he had a drinking spree with his father
and uncle, he told them what he knew because he could not trust
On cross-examination, among others, he admitted being called any policeman in their place. He told them what really happened
Batman in their place and that Aldrin and Jovie are his friends. and they advised him to report the matter to the barangay. So he
They go to his house at Package 5, Phase 9, Lot 32 in Bagong went to the purok and made a statement in an affidavit form. He
Silang, Caloocan City. They are his close friends being his executed the Salaysay in the presence of their Purok secretary
neighbors and they usually went to his house where they used and barangay tanod. It was the Purok secretary who gave him the
shabu (gumagamit ng bato). At 42, he is older than Aldrin and form. He saw Aldrin and Jovie about midnight of July 2,
Jovie.He knew Marita who sometimes called him to his house to 1999. There was also another person with them, one Jose
fix electrical wiring. He also knew his wife, but does not know Pitallana, who is the eldest in the group and considered their
their children. On the night of July 2, Aldrin and Jovie went to his Amo-amo. In his affidavit, he said: Ako ay lumabas ng bahay at
house. He was arrested on July 3 in a street near the precinct sinundan ko siya at nakita ko si Jose na tinalian ng nylon and
while walking with his wife. They came from Bayan. His wife bata.Tapos po ay may narinig po akong kung sino man ang
works in a sidewalk restaurant. Two of his children were in Phase titistego sa akin ay papatayin ko, basta kayo ang saksi sa ginawa in
3, the other two were in his house and two more were left with Batman. He said he was sure that the sack contained the child
his siblings. When he was arrested, he was carrying some food because he saw the head of the child, it seemed like she was
items which they brought in Bayan. They did not tell him why he staring at him and asking his help. He executed the statement
was being arrested. He saw his wife once at Police Station 1 after the arrest of the accused. He did not go to the police station
before he was brought to the city jail. Aldrin and Jovie harbored ill to narrate his story. He made his statement not in the barangay
feelings against him because the last time they went to his house hall but only at their purok.
he did not allow them to use shabu. He admitted using shabu
everytime his friends went to his house. He is not legally married On cross-examination, among others, he said that on July 2,
to his wife. She visited him for the last time on July 19, 1999. He 1999 he left the house at about 11:00 oclock in the morning to go
denied that the door of his house had a sack covering neither was to school in PMI at Sta. Cruz, Manila. He did not see Batman, nor
it locked by a piece of string. He has not talked with the father or Aldrin, or Jovie about noon time of July 2. He arrived home at
mother of the child nor did he ask his wife for help. He just waited about 8:00 oclock in the evening because he passed by the Susano
for his mother and she told him, they will fight it out in court, Market in Novaliches to see his mother who was a vendor there.
ilalaban sa husgado. They closed the store at about 6:30, then they bought some food
stuffs to bring home. He was not sure of the date when Batman
On re-direct he said that Aldrin and Jovie often went in and out of was arrested. He admitted that Batman is his uncle being the
his house. His bathroom is in front of his house. brother of his mother. His uncle is a known drug addict in the
area. He usually saw him using shabu in the company of Jose by the trial court is commuted to reclusion perpetua and the
Pitallana, his wife, Aldrin and Jovie. After he was informed that his judgment on the civil liability is modified by ordering the appellant
uncle was arrested, he did not do anything because he was busy to pay the amount of P100,000.00 civil indemnity, P75,000.00
reviewing for his exam. He did not also visit him in jail. After he moral damages and P52,000.00 as actual damages.
made his statement, he showed it to their Purok Leader, Melencio
Yambao and Purok Secretary, Reynaldo Mapa. They read his
SO ORDERED.
statement and recorded it in the logbook. It was not notarized. He
had no occasion to talk with Aldrin and Jovie. Jose Pitallana is no
longer residing in their place. He did not even know that Aldrin
Issues
and Jovie testified against his uncle. He never went to the police
to tell the truth about the incident.
Villaflores now reiterates that the RTC and the CA gravely erred in finding
him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape with homicide because the State did
As earlier stated, on May 27, 2004, the RTC convicted Villaflores of rape
not discharge its burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt every fact and
with homicide, holding that the circumstantial evidence led to no other conclusion
circumstance constituting the crime charged.
but that his guilt was shown beyond reasonable doubt. [17] The RTC decreed:

Wherefore, the Court finds accused Edmundo Villaflores In contrast, the Office of the Solicitor General counters that the guilt of
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of raping and killing Marita and Villaflores for rape with homicide was established beyond reasonable doubt
hereby sentences him to the Supreme penalty of death, to
indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the sum of P75,000.00, through circumstantial evidence.
moral damages in the sum of P30,000.00 and exemplary damages
in the sum of P20,000.00, and to pay the cost if this suit, to be
paid to the heirs if the victim. Ruling

The City Jail Warden of Caloocan City is hereby ordered to


bring the accused to the National Penitentiary upon receipt We sustain Villaflores conviction.
hereof after the promulgation of the decision.
I
Let the records of this case be forwarded to the Supreme Nature of rape with homicide
Court for automatic review. as a composite crime, explained

SO ORDERED.

The felony of rape with homicide is a composite crime. A composite crime,


On intermediate review, the CA affirmed the conviction, [18] disposing:
also known as a special complex crime, is composed of two or more crimes that the

WHEREFORE, the decision of the RTC Caloocan City, Branch law treats as a single indivisible and unique offense for being the product of a single
128 finding the accused Edmundo Villaflores guilty beyond criminal impulse. It is a specific crime with a specific penalty provided by law, and
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with homicide is affirmed
with modification in the sense that (a) the death penalty imposed
c) By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of
differs from a compound or complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal
authority; and
Code, which states:
d) When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of
Article 48. Penalty for complex crimes. When a single act age or is demented, even though none of the
constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an circumstance mentioned above be present.
offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the xxx
penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to
be applied in its maximum period. Article 266-B. Penalties. Rape under paragraph 1 of the
next preceding article shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.
xxx
When the rape is attempted and a homicide is committed
There are distinctions between a composite crime, on the one hand, and a by reason or on the occasion thereof, the penalty shall
complex or compound crime under Article 48, supra, on the other hand. In a be reclusion perpetua to death.

composite crime, the composition of the offenses is fixed by law; in a complex or When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, homicide
compound crime, the combination of the offenses is not specified but generalized, is committed, the penalty shall be death.
xxx
that is, grave and/or less grave, or one offense being the necessary means to
commit the other. For a composite crime, the penalty for the specified combination
of crimes is specific; for a complex or compound crime, the penalty is that The law on rape quoted herein thus defines and sets forth the composite

corresponding to the most serious offense, to be imposed in the maximum period. crimes of attempted rape with homicide and rape with homicide. In both composite

A light felony that accompanies a composite crime is absorbed; a light felony that crimes, the homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion of rape. As can be

accompanies the commission of a complex or compound crime may be the subject noted, each of said composite crimes is punished with a single penalty, the former

of a separate information. with reclusion perpetuato death, and the latter with death.

Republic Act No. 8353 (Anti-Rape Law of 1997) pertinently provides: The phrases by reason of the rape and on the occasion of the rape are
crucial in determining whether the crime is a composite crime or a complex or
Article 266-A. Rape; When and How Committed. Rape is
committed compound crime. The phrase by reason of the rape obviously conveys the notion
that the killing is due to the rape, the offense the offender originally designed to
1) By a man who have carnal knowledge of a woman
under any of the following circumstances: commit. The victim of the rape is also the victim of the killing. The indivisibility of
the homicide and the rape (attempted or consummated) is clear and admits of no
a) Through force, threat, or intimidation;
doubt. In contrast, the import of the phrase on the occasion of the rape may not be
b) When the offended party is deprived of reason or as easy to determine. To understand what homicide may be covered by the
otherwise unconscious;
phrase on the occasion of the rape, a resort to the meaning the framers of the law
intended to convey thereby is helpful. Indeed, during the floor deliberations of the
So, the instance which was brought up by the good senator
Senate on Republic Act No. 8353, the legislative intent on the import of the
from Cagayan where, let us say, the offender is fleeing the place
phrase on the occasion of the rape to refer to a killing that occurs or is apprehended by the police and he commits homicide, I think
would be examples where the phrase on the occasion thereof
immediately before or after, or during the commission itself of the attempted or
would apply. But the principal intent, Mr. President, is rape. [19]
consummated rape, where the victim of the homicide may be a person other than
the rape victim herself for as long as the killing is linked to the rape, became II
evident, viz: The State discharged its burden of
proving the rape with homicide
beyond reasonable doubt
Senator Enrile. x x x

I would like to find out, first of all, Mr. President, what is


the meaning of the phrase appearing in line 24, or on the
As with all criminal prosecutions, the State carried the burden of proving
occasion?
all the elements of rape and homicide beyond reasonable doubt in order to warrant
When the rape is attempted or frustrated, and homicide is
the conviction of Villaflores for the rape with homicide charged in the
committed by reason of the rape, I would understand that. But
what is the meaning of the phrase on the occasion of rape? How information.[20] The State must thus prove the concurrence of the following facts,
far in time must the commission of the homicide be considered a
namely: (a) that Villaflores had carnal knowledge of Marita; (b) that he
homicide on the occasion of the rape? Will it be, if the rapists
happen to leave the place of rape, they are drunk and they killed consummated the carnal knowledge without the consent of Marita; and (c) that he
somebody along the way, would there be a link between that
killed Marita by reason of the rape.
homicide and the rape? Will it be on the occasion of the rape?

Senator Shahani. x x x It will have to be linked with the rape Under Article 266-A, supra, rape is always committed when the accused
itself, and the homicide is committed with a very short time lapse.
has carnal knowledge of a female under 12 years of age. The crime is commonly
Senator Enrile. I would like to take the first scenario, Mr. called statutory rape, because a female of that age is deemed incapable of giving
President: If the rapist enters a house, kills a maid, and rapes
somebody inside the house, I would probably consider that as a consent to the carnal knowledge. Maritas Certificate of Live Birth (Exhibit K)
rape on the occasion of. Or if the rapists finished committing the disclosed that she was born on October 29, 1994, indicating her age to be only four
crime of rape, and upon leaving, saw somebody, let us say, a
potential witness inside the house and kills him, that is probably years and eight months at the time of the commission of the crime on July 2, 1999.
clear. But suppose the man happens to kill somebody, will there As such, carnal knowledge of her by Villaflores would constitute statutory rape.
be a link between these? What is the intent of the phrase on the
occasion of rape? x x x
xxx We have often conceded the difficulty of proving the commission of rape

Senator Shahani. Mr. President, the principal crime here, of when only the victim is left to testify on the circumstances of its commission. The
course, is rape, and homicide is a result of the circumstances difficulty heightens and complicates when the crime is rape with homicide, because
surrounding the rape.
there may usually be no living witnesses if the rape victim is herself killed. Yet, the
situation is not always hopeless for the State, for the Rules of Court also allows
(a) There is more than one circumstance;
circumstantial evidence to establish the commission of the crime as well as the
(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are
identity of the culprit.[21] Direct evidence proves a fact in issue directly without any
proven; and
reasoning or inferences being drawn on the part of the factfinder; in contrast,
circumstantial evidence indirectly proves a fact in issue, such that the factfinder (c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to
produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. (5)
must draw an inference or reason from circumstantial evidence. [22] To be clear,
then, circumstantial evidence may be resorted to when to insist on direct testimony
In resolving to convict Villaflores, both the RTC and the CA considered
would ultimately lead to setting a felon free.[23]
several circumstances, which when appreciated together and not piece by piece,
according to the CA,[27] were seen as strands which create a pattern when
The Rules of Court makes no distinction between direct evidence of a fact
interwoven, and formed an unbroken chain that led to the reasonable conclusion
and evidence of circumstances from which the existence of a fact may be inferred;
that Villaflores, to the exclusion of all others, was guilty of rape with homicide.
hence, no greater degree of certainty is required when the evidence is
circumstantial than when it is direct. In either case, the trier of fact must be
We concur with the RTC and the CA.
convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused. [24] Nor has the
quantity of circumstances sufficient to convict an accused been fixed as to be
The duly established circumstances we have considered are the following.
reduced into some definite standard to be followed in every instance. Thus, the
Firstly, Aldrin Bautista and Jovie Solidum saw Villaflores holding Marita by the hand
Court said in People v. Modesto:[25]
(akay-akay) at around 10:00 am on July 2, 1999,[28] leading the child through the
The standard postulated by this Court in the appreciation alley going towards the direction of his house about 6 houses away from the victims
of circumstantial evidence is well set out in the following passage
house.[29]Secondly, Marita went missing after that and remained missing until the
from People vs. Ludday:[26] No general rule can be laid down as to
the quantity of circumstantial evidence which in any case will discovery of her lifeless body on the following day. [30] Thirdly, Solidum passed by
suffice. All the circumstances proved must be consistent with
Villaflores house at about 3:00 pm of July 2, 1999 and heard the crying and moaning
each other, consistent with the hypothesis that the accused is
guilty, and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that (umuungol) of a child coming from inside.[31] Fourthly, at about 7:00 pm of July 2,
he is innocent, and with every other rational hypothesis except
1999 Solidum saw Villaflores coming from his house carrying a yellow sack that
that of guilt.
appeared to be heavy and going towards the abandoned house where the childs
lifeless body was later found.[32]Fifthly, Manito, the father of Marita, identified the
Section 4, Rule 133, of the Rules of Court specifies when circumstantial yellow sack as the same yellow sack that covered the head of his
evidence is sufficient for conviction, viz: daughter (nakapalupot sa ulo) at the time he discovered her body;[33] Manito also
mentioned that a blue sack covered her body. [34] Sixthly, a hidden pathway existed
Section 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. -
between the abandoned house where Maritas body was found and Villaflores
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if:
house, because his house had a rear exit that enabled access to the abandoned Villaflores as the person they had seen holding Marita by the hand going towards
house without having to pass any other houses.[35] This indicated Villaflores the abandoned house before the victim went missing, the hearing by Solidum of
familiarity and access to the abandoned house. Seventhly, several pieces of moaning and crying of a child from within Villaflores house, and the tracing to
evidence recovered from the abandoned house, like the white rope around the Villaflores of the yellow sack and the white rope found at the crime scene
victims neck and the yellow sack, were traced to Villaflores. The white rope was the sufficiently linked Villaflores to the crime.
same rope tied to the door of his house,[36] and the yellow sack was a wall-covering
for his toilet.[37] Eighthly, the medico-legal findings showed that Marita had died We note that the RTC and the CA disbelieved the exculpating testimony of
from asphyxiation by strangulation, which cause of death was consistent with the Borcillo. They justifiably did so. For one, after he stated during direct examination
ligature marks on her neck and the multiple injuries including abrasions, that Villaflores was only his neighbor,[39] it soon came to be revealed during his
hematomas, contusions and punctured wounds. Ninthly, Marita sustained multiple cross-examination that he was really a son of Villaflores own sister.[40] Borcillo might
deep fresh hymenal lacerations, and had fresh blood from her genitalia. The vaginal have concealed their close blood relationship to bolster the credibility of his
and periurethral smears taken from her body tested positive for testimony favoring his uncle, but we cannot tolerate his blatant attempt to mislead
[38]
spermatozoa. And, tenthly, the body of Marita was already in the second stage of the courts about a fact relevant to the correct adjudication of guilt or innocence.
flaccidity at the time of the autopsy of her cadaver at 8 pm of July 3, 1999. The Borcillo deserved no credence as a witness. Also, Borcillos implicating Solidum and
medico-legal findings indicated that such stage of flaccidity confirmed that she had Bautista in the crime, and exculpating his uncle were justly met with skepticism.
been dead for more than 24 hours, or at the latest by 9 pm of July 2, 1999. Had Borcillos incrimination of Solidum and Bautista been factually true, Villaflores
could have easily validated his alibi of having run an errand for an aunt about a
These circumstances were links in an unbroken chain whose totality has kilometer away from the place of the crime on that morning of July 2, 1999. Yet,
brought to us a moral certainty of the guilt of Villaflores for rape with homicide. As the alibi could not stand, both because the alleged aunt did not even come forward
to the rape, Marita was found to have suffered multiple deep fresh hymenal to substantiate the alibi, and because the Defense did not demonstrate the physical
lacerations, injuries that Dr. Jose Arnel Marquez, the medico-legal officer who had impossibility for Villaflores to be at the place where the crime was committed at the
conducted the autopsy of her cadaver on July 3, 1999, attributed to the insertion of time it was committed.
a blunt object like a human penis. The fact that the vaginal and periurethral smears
taken from Marita tested positive for spermatozoa confirmed that the blunt object The CA reduced the penalty of death prescribed by the RTC to reclusion
was an adult human penis. As to the homicide, her death was shown to be caused perpetua in consideration of the intervening enactment on June 24,
by strangulation with a rope, and the time of death as determined by the medico-
legal findings was consistent with the recollection of Solidum of seeing Villaflores 2006 of Republic Act No. 9346.[41] Nonetheless, we have also to specify in the
going towards the abandoned house at around 7 pm of July 2, 1999 carrying the judgment that Villaflores shall not be eligible for parole, considering that Section 3
yellow sack that was later on found to cover Maritas head. Anent the identification of Republic Act No. 9346 expressly holds persons whose sentences will be reduced
of Villaflores as the culprit, the testimonies of Solidum and Bautista attesting to
to reclusion perpetua by reason of this Act not eligible for parole under Act No. VILLAFLORES yOLANO guilty of rape with homicide, subject to the
4103 (Indeterminate Sentence Law), as amended. following MODIFICATIONS, namely: (a) that he shall suffer reclusion
perpetua without eligibility for parole under Act No. 4103 (Indeterminate Sentence
The awards of damages allowed by the CA are proper. However, we Law), as amended; (b) that he shall pay to the heirs of the victim the sum
add exemplary damages to take into account the fact that Marita was below seven of P30,000.00 as exemplary damages, in addition to the damages awarded by the
years of age at the time of the commission of the rape with homicide. Article 266- Court of Appeals; and (c) that all the awards for damages shall bear interest of
B, Revised Penal Code has expressly declared such tender age of the victim as an 6% per annum reckoned from the finality of this decision.
aggravating circumstance in rape, to wit:
The accused shall pay the costs of suit.
Article 266-B. Penalties. xxx.
xxx
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is SO ORDERED.
committed with any of the following aggravating/qualifying
circumstances:
xxx
5) When the victim is a child below seven (7) years old;
xxx

Pursuant to the Civil Code, exemplary damages may be imposed in a criminal case
as part of the civil liability when the crime was committed with one or more
aggravating circumstances.[42] The Civil Code permits such award by way of example
or correction for the public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or
compensatory damages.[43] Granting exemplary damages is not dependent on
whether the aggravating circumstance is actually appreciated or not to increase the
penalty. As such, the Court recognizes the entitlement of the heirs of Marita to
exemplary damages as a way of correction for the public good. For the purpose,

P30,000.00 is reasonable and proper as exemplary damages,[44] for a lesser amount


would not serve genuine exemplarity.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated by the Court of


Appeals on February 22, 2007 finding and pronouncing EDMUNDO
LEONILA BATULANON, G.R. No. 139857
Petitioner,
Criminal Case No. 3625
Present:
Panganiban, C.J. (Chairperson),
That on or about the 2nd day of June, 1982 at Poblacion
- versus - Ynares-Santiago,
Municipality of Polomolok, Province of South Cotabato,
Austria-Martinez,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court
Callejo, Sr., and
said accused being then the manager-cashier of Polomolok Credit
Chico-Nazario, JJ.
Cooperative, Inc., (PCCI), entrusted with the duty of managing the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
aff[a]irs of the cooperative, receiving payments to, and collections
Respondent. Promulgated:
of, the same, and paying out loans to members, taking advantage
September 15, 2006
of her position and with intent to prejudice and defraud the
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
cooperative, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously falsify a commercial document, namely: Cash/Check
Voucher No. 30-A of PCCI in the name of Erlinda Omadlao by then
DECISION
and there making an entry therein that the said Erlinda Omadlao
was granted a loan of P4,160, Philippine Currency, and by signing
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
on the appropriate line thereon the signature of Erlinda Omadlao
showing that she received the loan, thus making it appear that the
said Erlinda Omadlao was granted a loan and received the amount
This petition assails the October 30, 1998 Decision[1] of the Court of of P4,160 when in truth and in fact the said person was never
granted a loan, never received the same, and never signed the
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 15221, affirming with modification the April 15, 1993
cash/check voucher issued in her name, and in furtherance of her
Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court of General Santos City, Branch 22 in Criminal criminal intent and fraudulent design to defraud PCCI said
accused did then and there release to herself the same and
Case Nos. 3453, 3625, 3626 and 3627, convicting Leonila Batulanon of estafa
received the loan of P4,160 and thereafter misappropriate and
through falsification of commercial documents, and the July 29, 1999 convert to her own use and benefit the said amount, and despite
Resolution[3] denying the motion for reconsideration. demands, refused and still refuses to restitute the same, to the
damage and prejudice of PCCI, in the aforementioned amount of
P4,160, Philippine Currency.[5]
Complainant Polomolok Credit Cooperative Incorporated (PCCI) employed
Batulanon as its Cashier/Manager from May 1980 up to December 22, 1982. She Criminal Case No. 3626
was in charge of receiving deposits from and releasing loans to the member of the
That on or about the 24th day of September, 1982 at
cooperative. Poblacion, Municipality of Polomolok, Province of South Cotabato,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court,
said accused being then the manager-cashier of Polomolok Credit
During an audit conducted in December 1982, certain irregularities Cooperative, Inc. (PCCI), entrusted with the duty of managing the
concerning the release of loans were discovered.[4] affairs of the cooperative, receiving payments to, and collections
of, the same, and paying out loans to members taking advantage
of her position and with intent to prejudice and defraud the
Thereafter, four informations for estafa thru falsification of commercial cooperative, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously falsify a commercial document, namely: Cash/Check
documents were filed against Batulanon, to wit:
Voucher No. 237 A of PCCI in the name of Gonafreda Oracion by received the loan of P3,500, Philippine Currency, when in truth
then and there making an entry therein that the said Gonafreda and in fact said Ferlyn Arroyo never received the loan, and in
Oracion was granted a loan of P4,000.00 and by signals on the furtherance of her criminal intent and fraudulent design to
appropriate line thereon the signature of Gonafreda Oracion defraud PCCI said accused did then and there release to herself
showing that she received the loan, thus making it appear that the the same, and received the amount of P3,500, and thereafter, did
said Gonafreda Oracion was granted a loan, received the loan of then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
P4,000.00 when in truth and in fact said person was never granted misappropriate and convert to her own personal use and benefit
a loan, never received the same, and never signed the Cash/Check the said amount, and despite demands, refused and still refuses
voucher issued in her name, and in furtherance of her criminal to restitute the same, to the damage and prejudice of the PCCI in
intent and fraudulent design to defraud PCCI said accused did the aforementioned amount of P3,500, Philippine Currency.
then and there release to herself the same and received the
amount of P4,000.00 and thereafter misappropriate and convert CONTRARY TO LAW.[7]
to her own use and benefit the said amount, and despite
demands, refused and still refuses to restitute the same, to the
damage and prejudice of PCCI, in the aforementioned amount of
P4,000, Philippine Currency.
Criminal Case No. 3627
CONTRARY TO LAW.[6]
That on or about the 7th day of December, 1982 at
Poblacion, Municipality of Polomolok, Province of South Cotabato,
Criminal Case No. 3453 Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court,
the said accused being then the manager-cashier of Polomolok
That on or about the 10th day of October 1982 at Credit Cooperative, Inc., (PCCI) entrusted with the duty of
Poblacion, Municipality of Polomolok, Province of South Cotabato, managing the affairs of the cooperative, receiving payments to,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, and collection of, the same and paying out loans to members,
the said accused being then the manager-cashier of Polomolok taking advantage of her position and with intent to prejudice and
Credit Cooperative, Inc., (PCCI), entrusted with the duty of defraud the cooperative, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
managing the affairs of the cooperative, receiving payments to, and feloniously falsify a commercial document, namely: an
and collection of the same and paying out loans to members, Individual Deposits and Loan Ledger of one Dennis Batulanon with
taking advantage of her position and with intent to prejudice and the PCCI by then and there entering on the appropriate column of
defraud the cooperative, did then and there willfully, unlawfully the ledger the entry that the said Dennis Batulanon had a fixed
and feloniously falsify a commercial document, namely: an deposit of P2,000.00 with the PCCI and was granted a loan in the
Individual Deposits and Loan Ledger of one Ferlyn Arroyo with the amount of P5,000.00 thus making it appear that the said person
PCCI by then and there entering on the appropriate column of the made fixed deposit on the aforesaid date with, and was granted a
ledger the entry that the said Ferlyn Arroyo had a fixed deposit of loan by the PCCI when in truth and in fact Dennis Batulanon never
P1,000.00 with the PCCI and was granted a loan in the amount of made such a deposit and was never granted loan and offer the
P3,500.00, thus making it appear that the said person made a document was so falsified in the manner set forth, said accused
fixed deposit on the aforesaid date with, and was granted a loan did then and there again falsify the Cash/Check Voucher No. 374
by the PCCI when in truth and in fact Ferlyn Arroyo never made A of PCCI in the name of Dennis Batulanon by signing therein the
such a deposit and was never granted loan and after the signature of Dennis Batulanon, thus making it appear that the said
document was so falsified in the manner set forth, said accused Dennis Batulanon received the loan of P5,000.00 when in truth
did then and there again falsify the Cash/Check Voucher of the and in fact said Dennis Batulanon never received the loan and in
PCCI in the name of Ferlyn Arroyo by signing therein the signature furtherance of her criminal intent and fraudulent design to
of Ferlyn Arroyo, thus making it appear that the said Ferlyn Arroyo defraud PCCI said accused did then and there release to herself
the same and receive the loan of P5,000, and thereafter, did then
to the cooperatives by-laws, only bona fide members who must have a fixed
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate and
convert to her own personal use and benefit the said amount, and deposit are eligible for loans.[17]
[despite] demands, refused and still refuses to restitute the same
to the damage and prejudice of the PCCI in the aforementioned
amount of P5,000, Philippine Currency. Medallo categorically stated that she saw Batulanon sign the names of
Oracion and Arroyo in their respective cash vouchers and made it appear in the
CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]
records that they were payees and recipients of the amount stated therein.[18] As to
the signature of Omadlao in Cash Voucher No. 30A, she declared that the same was
The cases were raffled to Branch 22 of the Regional Trial Court of General
actually the handwriting of appellant.[19]
Santos City and docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 3453, 3625, 3626 and 3627.

Gopio, Jr. was a member of PCCI since 1975 and a member of its board of
Batulanon pleaded not guilty to the charges, afterwhich a joint trial on the
directors since 1979. He corroborated Medallos testimony that Omadlao, Arroyo,
merits ensued.
Oracion and Dennis Batulanon are not members of PCCI. He stated that Oracion is
Batulanons sister-in-law while Dennis Batulanon is her son who was only 3 years old
The prosecution presented Maria Theresa Medallo, Benedicto Gopio, Jr.,
in 1982. He averred that membership in the cooperative is not open to minors.[20]
and Bonifacio Jayoma as witnesses.

Jayoma was the Vice-Chairman of the PCCI Board of Directors in 1980


Medallo, the posting clerk whose job was to assist Batulanon in the
before becoming its Chairman in 1982 until 1983. He testified that the loans made
preparation of cash vouchers[9] testified that on certain dates in 1982, Batulanon
to Oracion, Omadlao, Arroyo and Dennis Batulanon did not pass through the
released four Cash Vouchers representing varying amounts to four different
cooperatives Credit Committee and PCCIs Board of Directors for screening
individuals as follows: On June 2, 1982, Cash Voucher No. 30A[10] for P4,160.00 was
purposes. He claimed that Oracions signature on Cash Voucher No. 237A is
released to Erlinda Omadlao; on September 24, 1982, Cash Voucher No. 237A[11] for
Batulanons handwriting.[21] Jayoma also testified that among the four loans taken,
P4,000.00 was released to Gonafreda[12] Oracion; P3, 500.00 thru Cash Voucher No.
only that in Arroyos name was settled.[22]
276A[13] was released to Ferlyn Arroyo on October 16, 1982 and on December 7,
1982, P5,000.00 was released to Dennis Batulanon thru Cash Voucher No. 374A. [14]
The defense presented two witnesses, namely, Maria Theresa Medallo
who was presented as a hostile witness and Batulanon.
Medallo testified that Omadlao, Oracion, and Dennis Batulanon were not
eligible to apply for loan because they were not bona fide members of the
Medallo was subpoenaed by the trial court on behalf of the defense and
cooperative.[15] Ferlyn Arroyo on the other hand, was a member of the cooperative
was asked to bring with her the PCCI General Journal for the year 1982. After
but there was no proof that she applied for a loan with PCCI in 1982. She
certifying that the said document reflected all the financial transactions of the
subsequently withdrew her membership in 1983.[16] Medallo stated that pursuant
cooperative for that year, she was asked to identify the entries in the Journal with
respect to the vouchers in question. Medallo was able to identify only Cash Voucher On April 15, 1993, the trial court rendered a Decision convicting Batulanon
No. 237A in the name of Gonafreda Oracion. She failed to identify the other as follows:
vouchers because the Journal had missing pages and she was not the one who
WHEREFORE, premises considered, finding the accused
prepared the entries.[23]
Leonila Batulanon guilty beyond reasonable doubt in all the
above-entitled case, she is sentenced in each of the four cases to
4 months of ARRESTO MAYOR to 1 year and 2 months of PRISION
Batulanon denied all the charges against her. She claimed that she did not
CORRECTIONAL, to indemnify the PCCI in the total sum of
sign the vouchers in the names of Omadlao, Oracion and Arroyo; that the same P16,660.00 with legal interest from the institution of the
were signed by the loan applicants in her presence at the PCCI office after she complaints until fully paid, plus costs.

personally released the money to them;[24] that the three were members of the SO ORDERED.[31]
cooperative as shown by their individual deposits and the ledger; that the board of
directors passed a resolution in August 1982 authorizing her to certify to the The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the decision of the trial court, thus:
correctness of the entries in the vouchers; that it has become an accepted practice
in the cooperative for her to release loans and dispense with the approval of Gopio WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is MODIFIED.
Appellant LEONILA BATULANON is found guilty beyond
Jr., in case of his absence;[25] that she signed the loan application and voucher of her reasonable doubt of Falsification of Private Documents under Par.
son Dennis Batulanon because he was a minor but she clarified that she asked 2, Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code; and is hereby sentenced
to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six (6) months of arresto
Gopio, Jr., to add his signature on the documents to avoid suspicion of mayor maximum, AS MINIMUM, to four (4) years and two (2)
irregularity;[26] that contrary to the testimony of Gopio, Jr., minors are eligible for months of prision correccional medium, AS MAXIMUM; to pay a
fine of five thousand (P5,000.00) pesos; and to indemnify the
membership in the cooperative provided they are children of regular members. Polomolok Cooperative Credit , Inc. the sum of thirteen thousand
one hundred sixty (P13,160.00), plus legal interests from the filing
of the complaints until fully paid, plus costs.
Batulanon admitted that she took out a loan in her sons name because she
is no longer qualified for another loan as she still has to pay off an existing loan; SO ORDERED.[32]
that she had started paying off her sons loan but the cooperative refused to accept
her payments after the cases were filed in court.[27] She also declared that one The motion for reconsideration was denied, hence this petition.
automatically becomes a member when he deposits money with the
cooperative.[28] When she was Cashier/Manager of PCCI from 1980 to 1982, the Batulanon argues that in any falsification case, the best witness is the person whose
cooperative did not have by-laws yet.[29] signature was allegedly forged, thus the prosecution should have presented Erlinda
Omadlao, Gonafreda Oracion and Ferlyn Arroyo instead of relying on the testimony
On rebuttal, Jayoma belied that PCCI had no by-laws from 1980-1982, of an unreliable and biased witness such as Medallo.[33] She avers that the crime of
because the cooperative had been registered since 1967.[30] falsification of private document requires as an element prejudice to a third
person. She insists that PCCI has not been prejudiced by these loan transactions
because these loans are accounts receivable by the cooperative.[34] In Criminal Case Nos. 3625, 3626, and 3453, Batulanons act [38] of falsification falls
under paragraph 2 of Article 171, i.e., causing it to appear that persons have
The petition lacks merit. participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate. This is
because by signing the name of Omadlao, Oracion, and Arroyo in Cash Voucher
Although the offense charged in the information is estafa through Nos. 30A, 237A, and 267A, respectively, as payee of the amounts appearing in the
falsification of commercial document, appellant could be convicted of falsification corresponding cash vouchers, Batulanon made it appear that they obtained a loan
of private document under the well-settled rule that it is the allegations in the and received its proceeds when they did not in fact secure said loan nor receive the
information that determines the nature of the offense and not the technical name amounts reflected in the cash vouchers.
given in the preamble of the information. In Andaya v. People,[35] we held:
The prosecution established that Batulanon caused the preparation of the
From a legal point of view, and in a very real sense, it is
Cash Vouchers in the name of Omadlao and Oracion knowing that they are not PCCI
of no concern to the accused what is the technical name of the
crime of which he stands charged. It in no way aids him in a members and not qualified for a loan from the cooperative. In the case of Arroyo,
defense on the merits. x x x That to which his attention should be
Batulanon was aware that while the former is a member, she did not apply for a
directed, and in which he, above all things else, should be most
interested, are the facts alleged. The real question is not did he loan with the cooperative.
commit a crime given in the law some technical and specific
name, but did he perform the acts alleged in the body of the
information in the manner therein set forth. x x x The real and Medallo categorically declared that she saw Batulanon forge the signatures
important question to him is, Did you perform the acts alleged in of Oracion and Arroyo in the vouchers and made it appear that the amounts stated
the manner alleged? not, Did you commit a crime named murder?
If he performed the acts alleged, in the manner stated, the law therein were actually received by these persons. As to the signature of Arroyo,
determines what the name of the crime is and fixes the penalty Medallos credible testimony and her familiarity with the handwriting of Batulanon
therefor. x x x If the accused performed the acts alleged in the
manner alleged, then he ought to be punished and punished proved that it was indeed the latter who signed the name of Arroyo. Contrary to
adequately, whatever may be the name of the crime which those Batulanons contention, the prosecution is not duty-bound to present the persons
acts constitute.
whose signatures were forged as Medallos eyewitness account of the incident was
sufficient. Moreover, under Section 22, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, the
The elements of falsification of private document under Article 172,
handwriting of a person may be proved by any witness who believes it to be the
paragraph 2[36] of the Revised Penal Code are: (1) that the offender committed any
handwriting of such person because he has seen the person write, or has seen
of the acts of falsification, except those in paragraph 7, Article 171; (2) that the
writing purporting to be his upon which the witness has acted or been charged, and
falsification was committed in any private document; and (3) that the
has thus acquired knowledge of the handwriting of such person.
falsification caused damage to a third party or at least the falsification was
committed with intent to cause such damage.[37]
Her insistence that Medallo is a biased witness is without basis. There is no prove each and every element of the crime charged in the information to warrant a
evidence showing that Medallo was prompted by any ill motive. finding of guilt for the said crime or for any other crime necessarily included
therein.[44] The prosecution in this case was able to discharge its burden completely.
The claim that Batulanons letter to the cooperative asking for a
compromise was not an admission of guilt is untenable. Section 27, Rule 130 of the As there is no complex crime of estafa through falsification of private
Rules of Court provides that in criminal cases, except those involving quasi-offenses document,[45] it is important to ascertain whether the offender is to be charged with
or criminal negligence or those allowed by law to be compromised, an offer of falsification of a private document or with estafa. If the falsification of a private
compromise by the accused may be received in evidence as an implied admission of document is committed as a means to commit estafa, the proper crime to be
guilt. charged is falsification. If the estafa can be committed without the necessity of
falsifying a document, the proper crime to be charged is estafa. Thus, in People v.
There is no merit in Batulanons assertion that PCCI has not been Reyes,[46] the accused made it appear in the time book of the Calamba Sugar Estate
prejudiced because the loan transactions are reflected in its books as accounts that a laborer, Ciriaco Sario, worked 21 days during the month of July, 1929, when
receivable. It has been established that PCCI only grants loans to its bona fide in reality he had worked only 11 days, and then charged the offended party, the
members with no subsisting loan. These alleged borrowers are not members of Calamba Sugar Estate, the wages of the laborer for 21 days. The accused
PCCI and neither are they eligible for a loan. Of the four accounts, only that in misappropriated the wages during which the laborer did not work for which he was
Ferlyn Arroyos name was settled because her mother, Erlinda, agreed to settle the convicted of falsification of private document.
loan to avoid legal prosecution with the understanding however, that she will be
reimbursed once the money is collected from Batulanon.[39] In U.S. v. Infante,[47] the accused changed the description of the pawned
article on the face of the pawn ticket and made it appear that the article is of
The Court of Appeals[40] correctly ruled that the subject vouchers are greatly superior value, and thereafter pawned the falsified ticket in another
private documents and not commercial documents because they are not pawnshop for an amount largely in excess of the true value of the article
documents used by merchants or businessmen to promote or facilitate trade or pawned. He was found guilty of falsification of a private document. In U.S. v. Chan
[41]
credit transactions nor are they defined and regulated by the Code of Commerce Tiao,[48] the accused presented a document of guaranty purportedly signed by
or other commercial law.[42]Rather, they are private documents, which have been Ortigas Hermanos for the payment of P2,055.00 as the value of 150 sacks of sugar,
defined as deeds or instruments executed by a private person without the and by means of said falsified documents, succeeded in obtaining the sacks of
intervention of a public notary or of other person legally authorized, by which some sugar, was held guilty of falsification of a private document.
[43]
disposition or agreement is proved, evidenced or set forth.
In view of the foregoing, we find that the Court of Appeals correctly held
In all criminal prosecutions, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to Batulanon guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Falsification of Private Documents in
establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. It has the duty to Criminal Case Nos. 3625, 3626 and 3453.
1. Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature,
Article 172 punishes the crime of Falsification of a Private Document with or rubric;
the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods with a
2. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in
duration of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to six (6) years. There any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate;
being no aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the penalty should be imposed in
3. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act
its medium period, which is three (3) years, six (6) months and twenty-one (21) days or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them;
to four (4) years, nine (9) months and ten (10) days. Taking into consideration the
4. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts;
Indeterminate Sentence Law, Batulanon is entitled to an indeterminate penalty the
minimum of which must be within the range of arresto mayor in its maximum 5. Altering true dates;

period to prision correccional in its minimum period, or four (4) months and one (1) 6. Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine
day to two (2) years and four (4) months.[49] Thus, in Criminal Case Nos. 3625, 3626 document which changes its meaning;

and 3453, the Court of Appeals correctly imposed the penalty of six (6) months 7. Issuing in an authenticated form a document
of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such
original exists, or including in such copy a statement contrary to,
correccional, as maximum, which is within the range of the allowed imposable or different from, that of the genuine original; or;
penalty.
8. Intercalating any instrument or note relative to the
issuance thereof in a protocol, registry, or official book.
Since Batulanons conviction was for 3 counts of falsification of private
documents, she shall suffer the aforementioned penalties for each count of the In Criminal Case No. 3627, the trial court convicted petitioner Batulanon for
offense charged. She is also ordered to indemnify PCCI the amount of P11,660.00 falsifying Dennis Batulanons signature in the cash voucher based on the Information
representing the aggregate amount of the 3 loans without deducting the amount of charging her of signing the name of her 3 year old son, Dennis. The records,
P3,500.00 paid by Ferlyn Arroyos mother as the same was settled with the however, reveal that in Cash Voucher No. 374A, petitioner Batulanon did not falsify
understanding that PCCI will reimburse the former once the money is the signature of Dennis. What she did was to sign: by: lbatulanon to indicate that
recovered. The amount shall earn interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the she received the proceeds of the loan in behalf of Dennis. Said act does not fall
filing of the complaints on November 28, 1994 until the finality of this under any of the modes of falsification under Article 171 because there in nothing
judgment. From the time the decision becomes final and executory, the interest untruthful about the fact that she used the name of Dennis and that as
rate shall be 12% per annum until its satisfaction. representative of the latter, obtained the proceeds of the loan from PCCI. The
essence of falsification is the act of making untruthful or false statements, which is
However, in Criminal Case No. 3627, the crime committed by Batulanon not attendant in this case. As to whether, such representation involves fraud which
is estafa and not falsification. Under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, the acts caused damage to PCCI is a different matter which will make her liable for estafa,
that may constitute falsification are the following:
but not for falsification. Hence, it was an error for the courts below to hold that
Fraudulent intent in committing the conversion or
petitioner Batulanon is also guilty of falsification of private document with respect
diversion is very evidently not a necessary element of the form of
to Criminal Case No. 3627 involving the cash voucher of Dennis. [50] estafa here discussed; the breach of confidence involved in the
conversion or diversion of trust funds takes the place of
fraudulent intent and is in itself sufficient. The reason for this is
The elements of estafa through conversion or misappropriation under Art. obvious: Grave as the offense is, comparatively few men
315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code are: misappropriate trust funds with the intention of defrauding the
owner; in most cases the offender hopes to be able to restore the
(1) that money, goods or other personal property is funds before the defalcation is discovered. x x x
received by the offender in trust, or on commission, or for
administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty Applying the legal principles here stated to the facts of
to make delivery of, or to return, the same; the case, we find all of the necessary elements of estafa x x x. That
the money for which the appellant's checks were substituted was
(2) that there be misappropriation or conversion of such received by him for safe-keeping or administration, or both, can
money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such hardly be disputed. He was the responsible financial officer of the
receipt; corporation and as such had immediate control of the current
funds for the purposes of safe-keeping and was charged with the
(3) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is custody of the same. That he, in the exercise of such control and
to the prejudice of another; custody, was aided by subordinates cannot alter the case nor can
the fact that one of the subordinates, the cashier, was a bonded
(4) that there is a demand made by the offended party employee who, if he had acted on his own responsibility, might
on the offender. (Note: The 4th element is not necessary when also have misappropriated the same funds and thus have become
there is evidence of misappropriation of the goods by the guilty of estafa.
defendant)[51]
Neither can there be any doubt that, in taking money for
his personal use, from the funds entrusted to him for safekeeping
and substituting his personal checks therefor with instructions
Thus in the case of U.S. v. Sevilla,[52] the Court convicted the appellant of estafa by that the checks were to be retained by the cashier for a certain
misappropriation. The latter, a treasurer of the Manila Rail Road Company, took the period, the appellant misappropriated and diverted the funds for
that period. The checks did not constitute cash and as long as they
sum of P8,330.00 out of the funds of the company and used it for personal were retained by the appellant or remained under his personal
purposes. He replaced said cash with his personal check of the same amount drawn control they were of no value to the corporation; he might as well
have kept them in his pocket as to deliver them to his subordinate
on the Philippine National Bank (PNB), with instruction to his cashier not to deposit with instructions to retain them.
the same in the current account of the Manila Rail Road Company until the end of
xxxx
the month. When an audit was conducted, the check of appellant was discovered to
have been carried in the accounts as part of the cash on hand. An inquiry with the But it is argued in the present case that it was not the
intention of the accused to permanently misappropriate the funds
PNB disclosed that he had only P125.66 in his account, although in the afternoon of to himself. As we have already stated, such intention rarely exists
the same day, he deposited in his account with the PNB sufficient sum to cover the in cases of this nature and, as we have seen, it is not a necessary
element of the crime. Though authorities have been cited who, at
check. In handing down a judgment of conviction, the Court explained that:
first sight, appear to hold that misappropriation of trust funds for
correccional in its minimum period, where the amount defrauded is over P200.00
short periods does not always amount to estafa, we are not
disposed to extend this interpretation of the law to cases where but does not exceed P6,000.00.There being no modifying circumstances, the
officers of corporations convert corporate funds to their own use,
penalty shall be imposed in its medium period. With the application of the
especially where, as in this case, the corporation is of a quasi-
public character. The statute is clear and makes no distinction Indeterminate Sentence Law, Batulaon is entitled to an indeterminate penalty of
between permanent misappropriations and temporary ones. We three (3) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8)
can see no reason in the present case why it should not be
applied in its literal sense. months of prision correccional, as maximum.

The third element of the crime with which the appellant


is charged is injury to another. The appellant's counsel argues that WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with the
the only injury in this case is the loss of interest suffered by the following MODIFICATIONS:
Railroad Company during the period the funds were withheld by
the appellant. It is, however, well settled by former adjudications
of this court that the disturbance in property rights caused by the (1) In Criminal Case Nos. 3625, 3626 and 3453, Leonila Batulanon is found
misappropriation, though only temporary, is in itself sufficient to
constitute injury within the meaning of paragraph 5, supra. GUILTY of three counts of falsification of private documents and is sentenced to
(U.S. vs. Goyenechea, 8 Phil., 117 U.S. vs. Malong, 36 Phil., suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years
821.)[53]
and two (2) months of prision correccional, as maximum, for each count, and to
indemnify complainant Polomolok Credit Cooperative Incorporated the amount of
In the instant case, there is no doubt that as Cashier/Manager, Batulanon holds the P11,660.00 with interest at the rate of 6% per annum from November 28, 1994
money for administration and in trust for PCCI. Knowing that she is no longer until finality of this judgment. The interest rate of 12% per annum shall be imposed
qualified to obtain a loan, she fraudulently used the name of her son who is likewise from finality of this judgment until its satisfaction; and
disqualified to secure a loan from PCCI. Her misappropriation of the amount she
obtained from the loan is also not disputed as she even admitted receiving the (2) In Criminal Case No. 3627, Leonila Batulanon is found GUILTY of estafa
same for personal use. Although the amount received by Batulanon is reflected in and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of three (3) months of arresto mayor, as
the records as part of the receivables of PCCI, damage was still caused to the latter minimum, to one (1) year and eight (8) months of prision correccional, as
because the sum misappropriated by her could have been loaned by PCCI to maximum. She is likewise ordered to indemnify Polomolok Credit Cooperative
qualified members, or used in other productive undertakings. At any rate, the Incorporated the sum of P5,000.00 with interest at the rate of 6% per annum
disturbance in property rights caused by Batulaonos misappropriation is in itself from November 28, 1994 until finality of this judgment. The interest rate of 12% per
sufficient to constitute injury within the meaning of Article 315. annum shall be imposed from finality of this judgment until its satisfaction.

Considering that the amount misappropriated by Batulanon was P5,000.00, the SO ORDERED.
applicable provision is paragraph (3) of Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code, which
imposes the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
GRACE DAVID Y CESAR, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. and Customs Coordinator were to: (1) perform activities relating to shipment,
delivery, documentation and clearing of importations; (2) ensure the economical
DECISION and efficient transportation of shipment or deliveries; (3) update information on
current transportation facilities and rates; (4) coordinate with various government
CARPIO, J.:
agencies, like the Bureau of Customs (BOC), regarding the company's imports and
This is a petition for review1 assailing the 23 January 2013 Decision2 of the Court of exports; and (5) perform tasks according to quality systems procedure.5redarclaw
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 33310, affirming the trial court's decision, finding
petitioner Grace David y Cesar (petitioner) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the The standard operating procedure regarding Hella's imports was as follows: (1)
complex crime of estafa through falsification of commercial documents. whenever Hella's suppliers abroad would ship supplies to Hella, petitioner would
handle all the shipping documents relative thereto, compute and assess the taxes
The Facts due, and fill up BOC Import Entry Release Document (IERD); (2) petitioner's initial
computations and assessments were then written on the IERD; (3) petitioner would
submit the completed IERD forms to Hella which would then instruct its depositary
Petitioner was charged with estafa through falsification of commercial documents.
banks, namely Bank of the Philippine Islands and Security Bank to debit the
The Information against petitioner reads:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
computed amount in the name of the BOC; (4) petitioner would then process the
CRIM. CASE NO. 9693-02 release of the shipments; (5) the shipments would then be released, provided the
taxes and duties paid were correct; (6) if there was discrepancy in the computation
and the assessment of taxes due, the BOC would impose additional duties and
That or (sic) about or within the period from August 24, 1999 to January 21, 2000, in taxes; (7) if there were additional duties and taxes imposed, petitioner would fill up
the Municipality of Dasmariñas, Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the and submit a cash advance request at Hella's accounting department; (8) based on
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to petitioner's requested amount, Hella would then release a check in petitioner's
defraud, with deceit and abuse of confidence, while then being an employee of name; (9) petitioner would then encash the check and use the proceeds to pay the
Hella Philippines, Inc., did [then and there] willfully, unlawfully and feloniously additional assessed taxes and duties at BOC's authorized banks such as the Land
falsified Land Bank commercial documents, making it appear that said Hella Bank of the Philippines (Land Bank); (10) the authorized collecting bank would then
Philippines, Inc., was assessed additional customs duties amounting to EIGHT issue BOC Form No. 38-A to be filled up by petitioner; (11) upon validation, the BOC
HUNDRED FIFTY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED NINETY FIVE PESOS (P855,995.00) Form No. 38-A would serve as an official receipt supplied by the BOC General
more or less for the release of its imports and obtaining from said Hella Philippines, Services Department to the Land Bank BOC-MICP; (12) after payment, the BOC
Inc., the said amount purportedly for payment of assessed additional customs Form No. 38-A, with its serial number, would also bear the Land Bank's rubber
duties when in fact and in truth no such additional duties have been assessed and stamp and the bank teller's name, evidencing receipt of payment by Land Bank; (13)
misappropriating the said amount for her own personal use and benefits, to the upon completion of this procedure, the goods would then be released to Hella, and
damage and prejudice of Hella Philippines, Inc. petitioner would begin liquidating her cash advances by submitting the same
validated BOC Form No. 38-A to the accounting department; (14) after liquidation,
CONTRARY TO LAW.3 petitioner would then be cleared of her cash advances.

The prosecution alleged that sometime in January 2000, Hella learned that
On 16 November 1989, Hella Philippines, Inc. (Hella), which imports automotive petitioner had been misrepresenting the amounts she wrote on several BOC Form
lighting and signaling equipment, hired petitioner as Traffic and Customs No. 38-A. Petitioner made it appear that payments of additional taxes were made
Coordinator.4 Petitioner's principal duties and responsibilities as the in-house Traffic to BOC, when in fact there was none. Petitioner falsified Land Bank commercial
documents by making it appear that Hella was assessed additional customs duties We hope that the informations above cited answers you[r] inquiries regarding the
totaling P855,995 for the release of its imports. The various amounts which were above subject.
purportedly for the payment of the assessed additional customs duties were
misappropriated by petitioner for her own personal use and benefit to the damage Very truly yours,
and prejudice of Hella. (signed)
LEONOR E. YAP
Upon learning that Hella discovered her misrepresentations, petitioner filed her Dept. Manager III8
irrevocable letter of resignation on 12 January 2000. In a memorandum6 dated 1
February 2000, Hella required petitioner to settle first all her unliquidated cash
Hella conducted an investigation on the matter and required petitioner to explain
advances and clear all her accountabilities, without prejudice to whatever actions
but she failed to reasonably justify her involvement in the matter. The minutes of
Hella might take under the circumstances.
the 26 April 2000 meeting with Hella and petitioner were read and signed by
petitioner.9redarclaw
In a letter7 dated 24 March 2000, Hella requested Land Bank "to check/verify the
authenticity of the "Official Receipt, Date, Amount, Series Number and the Teller
For her part, petitioner argued that she merely followed the standard operating
who accepted payment" of several BOC Forms No. 38-A. In her reply, the Land Bank
procedure of BOC in processing documents for the release of Hella's imports.
Manager wrote:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Petitioner denied that she committed estafa, insisting that she did not make
April 07, 2000 erroneous computations or assessments. She clarified that she did not always
encash checks since Hella sometimes just gave her cash for the payment of
additional taxes and duties. Besides, she claimed that she always submitted
MR. ANTONIO A. YULO supporting documents for liquidation purposes.
Managing Director
HELLA-PHILS, INC. On 6 January 2010, the trial court rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of
which reads:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
In response to your letter dated March 24, 2000 requesting our office to
check/verify the authenticity of the attached photocopies and upon presentment of WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused
the original copies of BOC Form No. 38-A based on our reports, we noted the Grace David guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of Estafa
following:LawlibraryofCRAlaw [through] Falsification of Commercial Documents. Accordingly, she is sentenced to
suffer the indeterminate penalty of Four (4) Years and Two (2) Months of prision
1. Serial Numbers BOC Official Receipt were not issued to Land Bank Philippines correccional as minimum to Twenty (20) Years of reclusion temporal as maximum.
MICP EO;
2. BOC Additional Duties System will decline entry of the same Official Receipt Accused is likewise ordered to pay a fine of P3,000.00 and to indemnify the
Numbers; offended party the total amount of P855,995.00 by way of actual damages with
3. Teller name and Number do not match; interest at the legal rate from date of filing of the information until fully paid,
4. Rubber stamp used differs from LandBank, and attorney's fees in the amount of P100,000.00 and to pay the costs.
5. Fonts of the computer printing differs from the prints produced by LandBank
printer. SO ORDERED.10
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals (3) THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT OVERLOOKED THE FACT OR
CIRCUMSTANCE THAT THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PRESENT CLEAR AND
CONVINCING EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT HELLA PHILIPPINES, INC. WAS ASSESSED
ADDITIONAL CUSTOMS DUTIES AMOUNTING TO P855,995.00 FOR THE RELEASE OF
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. The Court of ITS IMPORTS.11
Appeals agreed with the trial court that petitioner falsified commercial documents,
as defined under Article 171, and penalized under Article 172, of the Revised Penal
Code (RPC). It was established during the trial that in her liquidation reports,
petitioner submitted various BOC Forms No. 38-A wherein she made it appear that The Court's Ruling
Hella was assessed additional customs duties for the release of Hella's imports, and
that she paid the additional customs duties to the BOC through authorized Land
We find the appeal without merit. The Court of Appeals was correct in affirming the
Bank branches. The testimonies of the officers and employees of Land Bank proved
ruling of the trial court that petitioner is guilty of the complex crime of estafa
that the BOC forms submitted by petitioner were falsified. The Court of Appeals
through falsification of commercial documents. The categorical testimonies of the
held that petitioner committed estafa when she used the falsified BOC Form No. 38-
prosecution witnesses and the voluminous documentary evidence submitted by the
A to deceive Hella to release money to her, allegedly for the payment of additional
prosecution clearly established petitioner's guilt.
taxes or duties with the BOC through the different branches of Land Bank.

Well-settled is the rule that the trial court, having the opportunity to observe the
Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the Court of Appeals denied in
witnesses and their demeanor during the trial, can best assess the credibility of the
its Resolution dated 19 July 2013. Hence, this appeal.
witnesses and their testimonies.12Petitioner's mere denial cannot prevail over the
The Issues positive and categorical testimonies of the prosecution witnesses.13 Factual findings
of the trial court, especially when affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are deemed
binding and conclusive unless substantial facts and circumstances have been
Petitioner raises the following issues:LawlibraryofCRAlaw overlooked or misconstrued, which if considered might affect the result of the
case,14 and absent any clear showing of abuse, arbitrariness or capriciousness.15
(1) THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE PLAINTIFF-
APPELLEE (RESPONDENT HEREIN) WAS ABLE TO PROVE THE GUILT OF THE Under Article 4816 of the RPC, when a single act constitutes two or more crimes, a
ACCUSED- APPELLANT (PETITIONER HEREIN) BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, complex crime is committed for which only one penalty is imposed. Complex crimes
NOTWITHSTANDING THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PRESENT AS WITNESS under Article 48 refer to either (1) an act which constitutes two or more grave or
ANY BUREAU OF CUSTOMS (BOC) OFFICIAL OR REPRESENTATIVE TO TESTIFY ON less grave offenses; or (2) an offense which is a necessary means for committing
THE VARIOUS BOC FORM 38-A WHICH HAD ALLEGEDLY BEEN FALSIFIED. another.17 The phrase "necessary means" in Article 48 does not mean
indispensable; otherwise, the offense as a "necessary means" to commit another
(2) THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT THE would be an indispensable element of the latter and would be an ingredient
RESPONDENT HEREIN WAS ABLE TO PROVE THE GUILT OF THE PETITIONER HEREIN thereof.18 For instance, the crime of simple estafa is ordinarily committed in the
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FAILURE OF THE manner defined under the RPC; but if the accused resorts to falsification merely to
PROSECUTION TO PRESENT IN EVIDENCE THE LIQUIDATION REPORTS OF SAID facilitate and insure the commission of estafa, then he is guilty of the complex
PETITIONER SHOWING THE CASH ADVANCES SHE MADE AND SUBMITTED BY HER crime of estafa through falsification.19redarclaw
TO HELLA PHILIPPINES, INC.
In this case, it was duly proven during the trial that petitioner falsified several BOC
Form No. 38-A, a commercial document, in order to facilitate and insure the letter that you received on 24 March 2000?
commission of estafa. BOC Form No. 38-A is a commercial document used by
authorized collecting banks, such as Land Bank, as official receipt for the payment A: This is the document we received dated March 27, 2000. That is received by the
of additional or deficiency customs taxes and duties.20 The falsification of the BOC cashier of Land Bank Bureau of Customs, Conchita, I forgot the surname.
forms, which are commercial documents, was a necessary means to commit
estafa.21redarclaw Q: But after this was received by one of the employees, this was referred to you?
A: Yes, sir.
The testimonies of the prosecution witnesses clearly established that petitioner
used fake BOC forms to liquidate her cash advances for the alleged payment of Q: As a result of this letter, what did you do after Mrs. Yap?
additional taxes and duties to the BOC through the authorized Land Bank branches. A: I gathered the document[s], I verified the record[s] and we found out that the
In particular, Ms. Leonor Yap, the department manager of the Land Bank Bureau of document being presented or stated in the letter by Mr. Yulo is xxx not issued by
Customs MICP, belied the authenticity of the BOC forms submitted by petitioner to Land Bank Bureau of Customs MICP.
Flella to justify the additional taxes and duties allegedly assessed by BOC. In her
testimony, Ms. Yap explained how she arrived at the conclusion that the BOC forms Q: When you say that's not issued by Land Bank of the Philippines Bureau of
sent to them by Hella for verification were falsified, thus:LawlibraryofCRAlaw Customs MICP, what did you do?
A: The serial number of the Official receipt stated on the request [was] not part [of]
Q: As Department Manger of Land Bank of the Philippines Bureau of Customs MICP, the Bureau of Customs report[s], the daily reports produced by the bank.
will you please tell the court your duties and responsibilities?
A: I was assigned to the Land Bank Bureau of Customs last August 2, 1999. I am Q: And what else if there are? (sic)
responsible for the oversee (sic), the Branch Operation regarding deposit of A: The front of the official report as presented, the original copy of the official
client[s], the acceptance of payment from Brokers for payment to Bureau of receipt presented to us does not tally [with] the bank['s] official receipt that we had
Customs and the marketing operation of the plaintiff. issued.

Q: You mentioned about the acceptance of payment as one of your responsibilities? Q: And what else if there are? (sic)
A: Yes, sir. A: The rubber stamp does not (sic) the official receipt presented to us, is not the
one we are presently using.
Q: Do you remember having receive[d] sometime 24 March 2000 a letter from Hella
Philippines? Q: Are there anything more observation?
A: Yes, sir. A: The initial of the teller differentiate the one using (sic).

Q: If this letter will be shown to you, will you be able to recognize the same? Q: Being the Department Manager of Land Bank and based on what you testified,
A: Yes, sir. am I correct to say that the Bureau of Custom forms submitted to you for inspection
were all fake?
Atty. Roxas: For record purposes, we would manifest that the letter she is referring
was previously marked Exh. "V". I am showing to you this document dated March xxxx
24, 2000 consisting of two pages, addressed to the Land Bank of the Philippines,
Attention to Leonor Yap, signed by Antonio Yulo at the left hand corner of the Court: The question propounded [to] the witness was - what was your observation?
document. Will you kindly go over the document and tell this court if this is the
xxxx A: Yes sir.

Court: Witness may answer. Q: What do you mean by serial number of the Bureau of Customs official receipt?
A: When the original receipt was presented to us as the attachment document in A: The form of Bureau of Customs official receipt.
the letter of Mr. Yulo, we immediately saw the discrepancy like the serial number of
the stated official receipt in the request [was] not issued by Land Bank. xxxx

Arty. Roxas: What else did you observe? Atty. Roxas: x x x [Y]ou are mentioning something about the serial number official
receipt?
xxxx A: The Bureau of Customs official receipts used in this request are supplied by the
Bureau of Customs General Services Department and the seriel (sic) as stated in the
A: The serial number when the data entered into the computer of additional system request were not the series issued to us by the Bureau of Customs General Services
of the Bureau of Customs, the computer rejects the serial number because [it] is Department.22
not authorize[d], [it] is not the sequence authorize[d] by the Bureau of Customs.

xxxx Ms. Leonor Yap also testified that most of the BOC forms in the list of BOC Form No.
38-A stated in Hella's letter requesting for verification were not reflected in the
Atty. Roxas: What other observation? reports23 generated from the BOC system called the Automated Matching of
Payments and Payables, which indicates the date of payments, official receipts of
A: The teller's name and the number do not match. the BOC forms, the names of the consignees and the importers, and the amount of
payments made by the broker or importer. Ms. Leonor Yap explained that if the
xxxx BOC Form No. 38-A is not included in the daily report of collection, it means that
there was no payment made to Land Bank Bureau of Customs MICP.
A: The rubberstamp using are in the branch (sic) is not the rubberstamp used in the
original official receipt presented to us. The prosecution proved that the total amount defrauded was P2,074,326. However,
since the Information only charged petitioner with estafa through falsification of
xxxx commercial documents for the amount of P855,995, the trial court ruled that
petitioner can only be held liable for such amount as charged and not the
A: The last observation is the printing of official receipt, computer printing in the P2,074,326 which was the total amount defrauded as proved by the prosecution. To
official receipt, the original official receipt presented to us differs from the bank file hold otherwise would be violative of the constitutional right of the accused to be
copy, sir. informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her.

xxxx We agree with the trial court that petitioner cannot be held liable for more than the
amount stated in the Information. The Information only charged petitioner with
Atty. Roxas: As far as your No. 1 observation (sic), you said that the serial number of estafa through falsification of commercial documents for the amount of P855,995.
Bureau of Customs Official receipt [was] not issued to Land Bank of the Philippines The allegations of facts constituting the offense charged are substantial matters,
MICP? and the right of the accused to question his or her conviction based on facts not
alleged in the Information cannot be waived. 24 Thus, petitioner can only be held
liable for P855,995, and not the P2,074,326 proved by the prosecution.

Petitioner argues that the presentation of a BOC official as witness to testify on the
falsified BOC forms is crucial to establish her guilt. Petitioner insists that the
testimonies of the Land Bank officials and employees are not sufficient to establish
her guilt.

Petitioner's argument is flawed. It should be emphasized that petitioner never


denied that she used the falsified BOC forms for the liquidation of her cash
advances supposedly for additional taxes or duties imposed by the BOC. These BOC
forms (BOC Form No. 38-A) are used by authorized collecting banks, such as Land
Bank, as official receipts for the payment of additional or deficiency taxes and
duties. Since the falsified BOC forms were made to appear as issued by Land Bank
as receipts for the payments of additional customs duties and taxes, the Land Bank
officials and employees are the most qualified to testify on their authenticity.

Petitioner likewise harps on the non-presentation of the liquidation reports as


evidence. As held by the Court of Appeals, the overwhelming evidence presented
against petitioner are more than enough to prove her culpability for the crime
charged and the non-presentation of the liquidation reports did not make the other
evidence against her less convincing.

On petitioner's third assignment of error, suffice it to say that Hella is precisely


disputing the alleged assessed additional customs duties amounting to P855,995 by
proving that petitioner used falsified BOC forms to support her claim of payment of
the alleged additional customs duties.

Thus, we affirm the finding of both the trial court and the appellate court that
petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of estafa through
falsification of commercial documents.

WHEREFORE, the 23 January 2013 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR


No. 33310 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary
G.R. No. 109266 December 2, 1993 On October 27, 1992, the Sandiganbayan (First Division), of which Presiding Justice
Garchitorena is a member, set the criminal case for arraignment on November 13,
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, petitioner, 1992 at 8:00 A.M. (Rollo, p. 42)
vs.
HON. JUSTICE FRANCIS GARCHITORENA, SANDIGANBAYAN (First Division) and On November 6, 1992, petitioner moved to defer the arraignment on the grounds
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. that there was a pending motion for inhibition, and that petitioner intended to file a
motion for a bill of particulars (Rollo, pp. 43-44).
Amado M. Santiago, Jr. for petitioner.
On November 9, 1992, the Sandiganbayan (First Division) denied the motion to
The Solicitor General for the People of the Philippines. defer the arraignment (Rollo, p. 45).

On November 10, 1992, petitioner filed a motion for a bill of particulars (Rollo, pp.
47-48). The motion stated that while the information alleged that petitioner had
QUIASON, J.:
approved the application or legalization of "aliens" and gave them indirect benefits
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court to set and advantages it lacked a list of the favored aliens. According to petitioner, unless
aside: (a) the Resolution dated March 3, 1993 in Criminal Case she was furnished with the names and identities of the aliens, she could not
No. 16698 of the Sandiganbayan (First Division) and to declare Presiding Justice properly plead and prepare for trial.
Francis Garchitorena of the Sandiganbayan, disqualified from acting in said criminal
On November 12, 1992 and upon motion of petitioner in G.R.
case; and (b) the Resolution of said court promulgated on
No. 107598 (Miriam Defensor Santiago v. Sandiganbayan, et al.), we directed the
March 14, 1993, which deemed as "filed" the 32 Amended Informations against
Sandiganbayan (First Division) to reset the arraignment to a later date and to
petitioner (Rollo, pp. 2-35 and pp. 36-94).
dispose of the two incidents pending before it (Re: disqualification of Presiding
On May 1, 1991, petitioner was charged in Criminal Case No. 16698 of the Justice Garchitorena and the motion for the bill of particulars).
Sandiganbayan with violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended,
At the hearing on November 13, 1992 on the motion for a bill of particulars, the
otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, allegedly committed
prosecution stated categorically that they would file only one amended information
by her favoring "unqualified" aliens with the benefits of the Alien Legalization
against petitioner.
Program (Rollo, p. 36).
However, on December 8, 1992, the prosecution filed a motion to
On May 24, 1991, petitioner filed with us a petition for certiorari and prohibition,
admit the 32 Amended Informations (Criminal Cases Nos. 18371 to 18402; Rollo,
docketed as G.R. No. 99289-99290 (Santiago v. Vasquez, 205 SCRA 162 [1992]), to
pp. 61-126).
enjoin the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with Criminal Case No. 16698 on the
ground that said case was intended solely to harass her as she was then a On March 3, 1993, Presiding Justice Garchitorena issued the questioned Resolution
presidential candidate. She alleged that this was in violation of Section 10, Article dated March 11, 1993, denying the motion for his disqualification (Rollo, pp. 151-
IX-C of the Constitution which provides that "(b)ona fide candidates for any public 164).
office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination." The petition
was dismissed on January 13, 1992. On March 14, 1993, the Sandiganbayan (First Division) promulgated a resolution,
admitting the 32 Amended Informations and ordering petitioner to post the
On October 16, 1992, petitioner filed a motion for inhibition of Presiding Justice corresponding bail bonds within ten days from notice (Rollo, pp. 165-185).
Garchitorena, which motion was set for hearing on November 13, 1992 at 8:00 A.M.
(Rollo, pp. 38-41).
Petitioner's arraignment on the 32 Amended Informations was set for (c) Mrs. Santiago has never informed any court where her cases are pending of her
April 12, 1993 at 8:00 A.M. (Rollo, p. 186). intention to travel, whether the Regional Trial Court where she is charged with
soliciting donations from people transacting with her office at Immigration or
Hence, the filing of the instant petition. before the Sandiganbayan where she is charged with having favored unqualified
aliens with the benefits of the Alien Legalization Program nor even the Supreme
Acting on the petition for the issuance of a restraining order, we issued the
Court where her petition is still pending (Rollo, p. 158).
Resolution dated March 25, 1993, ordering Presiding Justice Garchitorena "to
CEASE and DESIST from sitting in the case until the question of his disqualification is In particular, petitioner considered as prejudgment the statement of Presiding
finally resolved by this Court and from enforcing the resolution dated March 11, Justice Garchitorena that petitioner had been charged before the Sandiganbayan
1993, ordering petitioner to post bail bonds for the 32 Amended Informations and "with having favored unqualified aliens with the benefits of the Alien Legalization
from proceeding with the arraignment on Program."
April 12, 1993" (Rollo, p. 194).
The statement complained of was just a restatement of the Information filed
Re: Disqualification of the Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice against petitioner in Criminal Case No. 16698 in connection with which the hold-
departure order was issued. Said Information specified the act constituting the
The petition for disqualification of Presiding Justice Garchitorena is based on the
offense charged, thus:
publication of is letter in the July 29, 1992 issue of the Philippine Star, which to
petitioner "prejudged" the validity of the information filed That on or about October 17, 1988, or for sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in
against her. Petitioner claims that Presiding Justice Garchitorena "cannot be Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused
expected to change the conclusions he has subconsciously drawn in his public Miriam Defensor-Santiago, being then the Commissioner of the Commission on
statements . . . when he sits in judgment on the merits of the case . . ." (Rollo, pp. Immigration and Deportation, with evident bad faith and manifest partiality, did
16-17). then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally approve the application for
legalization of aliens who arrived in the Philippines after January 1, 1984 in violation
The letter in question was written in response to an item in Teodoro Benigno's
of Executive Order No. 324 dated April 13, 1988 which does not allow the
column in the July 22, 1992 issue of the Philippine Star, criticizing the
legalization of the same, thereby causing undue injury to the government and giving
Sandiganbayan for issuing on July 11, 1992 a hold-departure order against
unwarranted benefits and advantages to said aliens in the discharge of the official
petitioner. Benigno wrote that said order reflected a "perverse morality" of the
and administrative functions of said accused (Rollo, p. 36).
Sandiganbayan and the lack of "legal morality" of its Presiding Justice, thus:
It appears that petitioner tried to leave the country without first securing the
I cannot, for example accept the legal morality of Sandiganbayan Justice Francis
permission of the Sandiganbayan, prompting it to issue the hold-departure order
Garchitorena who would stop Miriam Defensor Santiago from going abroad for a
which Benigno viewed as uncalled for. The letter of Presiding Justice Garchitorena,
Harvard scholarship because of graft charges against her. Some of the most
written in defense of the dignity and integrity of the Sandiganbayan, merely stated
perfidious Filipinos I know have come and gone, left and returned to these shores
that all persons facing criminal charges in court, with no exception, have to secure
without Mr. Garchitorena kicking any kind of rumpus. Compared to the peccadilloes
permission to leave the country. Nowhere in the letter is the merit of the charge
of this country's outstanding felons, what Miriam is accused of is kindergarten stuff.
against petitioner ever touched. Certainly, there would have been no occasion for
The Sandiganbayan Supremo got a lot of headlines for stopping Miriam but I
the letter had Benigno not written his diatribe, unfair at that, against the
contend this is the kind of perverse morality we can do without (Rollo, p. 156).
Sandiganbayan.
The portion of the letter of Presiding Justice Garchitorena, which petitioner finds
Notwithstanding petitioner's misgiving, it should be taken into consideration that
objectionable, reads as follows:
the Sandiganbayan sits in three divisions with three justices in each division.
Unanimity among the three members is mandatory for arriving at any decision of a of therein were authorized under Executive Order No. 324 and that the Board of
division (P.D. No. 1606, Sec. 5). The collegiate character of the Sandiganbayan thus Commissioners of the Bureau of Investigation adopted the policy of approving
renders baseless petitioner's fear of prejudice and bias on the part of Presiding applications for legalization of spouses and unmarried, minor children of "qualified
Justice Garchitorena (Paredes v. Gopengco, 29 SCRA 688 [1969] ). aliens" even though they had arrived in the Philippines after December 31, 1983.
she concludes that the Sandiganbayan erred in not granting her motion to quash
Re: Claim of denial of due process the informations (Rollo, pp. 25-31).

Petitioner cannot complain that her constitutional rights to due process were In a motion to quash, the accused admits hypothetically the allegations of fact in
violated by reason of the delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation. the information (People v. Supnad, 7 SCRA 603 [1963] ). Therefore, petitioner
According to her, while the offense was allegedly committed "on or before October admitted hypothetically in her motion that:
17, 1988", the information was filed only on May 9, 1991 and the amended
informations on December 8, 1992 (Rollo, p. 14). (1) She was a public officer;

Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, 159 SCRA 70 [1988] is inapplicable to petitioner's case. (2) She approved the application for legalization of the stay of aliens, who arrived in
In Tatad, there indeed was an unexplained inaction on the part of the public the Philippines after January 1, 1984;
prosecutors inspite of the simplicity of the legal and factual issues involved therein.
(3) Those aliens were disqualified;
In the case at bench, there was a continuum of the investigatory process but it got
snarled because of the complexity of the issues involved. The act complained of in (4) She was cognizant of such fact; and
the original information came to the attention of the Ombudsman only when it was
(5) She acted in "evident bad faith and manifest partiality in the execution of her
first reported in the January 10, 1989 issue of the Manila Standard. Immediately
official functions."
thereafter, the investigatory process was set in motion. The investigation was first
assigned to Special Prosecutor Gualberto dela Llana but on request of petitioner The foregoing allegations of fact constitute the elements of the offense defined in
herself the investigation was first assigned to Special Prosecutor Gualberto dela Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019.
Llana but on request of petitioner herself the investigation was re-assigned to the
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. The case was handled by a panel of The claims that the acts complained of were indeed authorized under Executive
four prosecutors, who submitted a draft resolution for the filing of the charges on Order No. 324, that petitioner merely followed in good faith the policy adopted by
March 29, 1990. The draft resolution had to undergo the hierarchy of review, the Board of Commissioners and that the aliens were spouses or unmarried minor
normal for a draft resolution with a dissenting vote, until it reached the children of persons qualified for legalization of stay, are matters of defense which
Ombudsman in March 1991. she can establish at the trial.

We note that petitioner had previously filed two petitions before us involving Anent petitioner's claim that the Amended Informations did not allege that she had
Criminal Case No. 16698 (G.R. Nos. 99289-99290; G.R. caused "undue injury to any party, including the Government," there are two ways
No. 107598). Petitioner has not explained why she failed to raise the issue of delay of violating Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019. These are: (a) by causing undue injury to
in the preliminary investigation and the filing of the information against her in those any party, including the Government; and (b) by giving any private party any
petitions. a piece-meal presentation of issues, like the splitting of causes of action, unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference.
is self-defeating.
In Uy v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 100334, December 5, 1991, we held:
Petitioner next claims that the Amended Informations did not charge any offense
punishable under Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019 because the official acts complained
The use of the distinctive term "or" connotes that either act qualifies as a violation Padilla views such offense as consisting of a series of acts arising from one criminal
of Section 3 (a). In other words the act of giving any private party any unwarranted intent or resolution (Criminal Law, 1988 ed. pp. 53-54).
benefit, advantage or preference is not an indispensable element of the offense of
"causing any undue injury to any party" as claimed by petitioners although there Applying the concept of delito continuado, we treated as constituting only one
may be instances where both elements concur. offense the following cases:

Re: Delito continuado (1) The theft of 13 cows belonging to two different owners committed by the
accused at the same time and at the same period of time (People v. Tumlos, 67 Phil.
Be that as it may, our attention was attracted by the allegation in the petition that 320 [1939] ).
the public prosecutors filed 32 Amended Informations against petitioner, after
manifesting to the Sandiganbayan that they would only file one amended (2) The theft of six roosters belonging to two different owners from the same coop
information (Rollo, pp. 6-61). We also noted that petitioner questioned in her and at the same period of time (People v. Jaranillo, 55 SCRA 563 [1974] ).
opposition to the motion to admit the 32 Amended Informations, the splitting of
(3) The theft of two roosters in the same place and on the same occasion (People v.
the original information (Rollo, pp. 127-129). In the furtherance of justice, we
De Leon, 49 Phil. 437 [1926] ).
therefore proceed to inquire deeper into the validity of said plant, which petitioner
failed to pursue with vigor in her petition. (4) The illegal charging of fees for services rendered by a lawyer every time he
collects veteran's benefits on behalf of a client, who agreed that the attorney's fees
We find that, technically, there was only one crime that was committed in
shall be paid out of said benefits (People v. Sabbun, 10 SCRA 156 [1964] ). The
petitioner's case, and hence, there should only be one information to be file against
collection of the legal fees were impelled by the same motive, that of collecting fees
her.
for services rendered, and all acts of collection were made under the same criminal
The 32 Amended Informations charge what is known as delito continuado or impulse (People v. Lawas, 97 Phil. 975 [1955] ).
"continued crime" and sometimes referred to as "continuous crime."
On the other hand, we declined to apply the concept to the following cases:
In fairness to the Ombudsman's Office of the Special Prosecutor, it should be borne
(1) Two estafa cases, one of which was committed during the period from January
in mind that the concept of delito continuado has been a vexing problem in Criminal
19 to December 1955 and the other from January 1956 to July 1956 (People v.
Law — difficult as it is to define and more difficult to apply.
Dichupa, 113 Phil. 306 [1961] ). The said acts were committed on two different
According to Cuello Calon, for delito continuado to exist there should be a plurality occasions.
of acts performed during a period of time; unity of penal provision violated; and
(2) Several malversations committed in May, June and July, 1936, and falsifications
unity of criminal intent or purpose, which means that two or more violations of the
to conceal said offenses committed in August and October 1936. The malversations
same penal provisions are united in one and same instant or resolution leading to
and falsifications "were not the result of only one purpose or of only one resolution
the perpetration of the same criminal purpose or aim
to embezzle and falsify . . ." (People v. Cid, 66 Phil. 354 [1938] ).
(II Derecho Penal, p. 520; I Aquino, Revised Penal Code, 630, 1987 ed.).
(3) Two estafa cases, one committed in December 1963 involving the failure of the
According to Guevarra, in appearance, a delito continuado consists of several crimes
collector to turn over the installments for a radio and the other in June 1964
but in reality there is only one crime in the mind of the perpetrator (Commentaries
involving the pocketing of the installments for a sewing machine (People v.
on the Revised Penal Code, 1957 ed., p. 102; Penal Science and Philippine Criminal
Ledesma, 73 SCRA 77 [1976] ).
Law, p. 152).
(4) 75 estafa cases committed by the conversion by the agent of collections from In the case at bench, the original information charged petitioner with performing a
customers of the employer made on different dates (Gamboa v. Court of Appeals, single criminal act — that of her approving the application for legalization of aliens
68 SCRA 308 [1975]). not qualified under the law to enjoy such privilege.

The concept of delito continuado, although an outcry of the Spanish Penal Code, The original information also averred that the criminal act : (i) committed by
has been applied to crimes penalized under special laws, petitioner was in violation of a law — Executive Order No. 324 dated
e.g. violation of R.A. No. 145 penalizing the charging of fees for services rendered April 13, 1988, (ii) caused an undue injury to one offended party, the Government,
following up claims for war veteran's benefits (People v. Sabbun, 10 SCRA 156 and (iii) was done on a single day, i.e., on or about October 17, 1988.
[1964] ).
The 32 Amended Informations reproduced verbatim the allegation of the original
Under Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code, the Code shall be supplementary to information, except that instead of the word "aliens" in the original information
special laws, unless the latter provide the contrary. Hence, legal principles each amended information states the name of the individual whose stay was
developed from the Penal Code may be applied in a supplementary capacity to legalized.
crimes punished under special laws.
At the hearing of the motion for a bill of particulars, the public prosecutors
The question of whether a series of criminal acts over a period of time creates a manifested that they would file only one amended information embodying the
single offense or separate offenses has troubled also American Criminal Law and legalization of stay of the 32 aliens. As stated in the Order dated November 12,
perplexed American courts as shown by the several theories that have evolved in 1992 of the Sandiganbayan (First Division):
theft cases.
On the matter of the Bill of Particulars, the prosecution has conceded categorically
The trend in theft cases is to follow the so-called "single larceny" doctrine, that is, that the accusation against Miriam Defensor Santiago consists of one violation of
the taking of several things, whether belonging to the same or different owners, at the law represented by the approval of the applications of 32 foreign nationals for
the same time and place constitutes but one larceny. Many courts have abandoned availment (sic) of the Alien Legalization Program. In this respect, and responding
the "separate larceny doctrine," under which there is a distinct larceny as to the directly to the concerns of the accused through counsel, the prosecution is
property of each victim. Also abandoned was the doctrine that the government has categorical that there will not be 32 accusations but only one . . . (Rollo, p. 59).
the discretion to prosecute the accused or one offense or for as many distinct
offenses as there are victims (annotation, 37 ALR 3rd 1407, 1410-1414). The 32 Amended Informations aver that the offenses were committed on the same
period of time, i.e., on or about October 17, 1988. The strong probability even exists
The American courts following the "single larceny" rule, look at the commission of that the approval of the application or the legalization of the stay of the 32 aliens
the different criminal acts as but one continuous act involving the same was done by a single stroke of the pen, as when the approval was embodied in the
"transaction" or as done on the same "occasion" (State v. Sampson, 157 Iowa 257, same document.
138 NW 473; People v. Johnson, 81 Mich. 573, 45 NW 1119; State v. Larson, 85
Iowa 659, 52 NW 539). Likewise, the public prosecutors manifested at the hearing the motion for a bill of
particulars that the Government suffered a single harm or injury. The
An American court held that a contrary rule would violate the constitutional Sandiganbayan in its Order dated November 13, 1992 stated as follows:
guarantee against putting a man in jeopardy twice for the same offense
(Annotation, 28 ALR 2d 1179). Another court observed that the doctrine is a . . . Equally, the prosecution has stated that insofar as the damage and prejudice to
humane rule, since if a separate charge could be filed for each act, the accused may the government is concerned, the same is represented not only by the very fact of
be sentenced to the penitentiary for the rest of his life (Annotation, 28 ALR 2d the violation of the law itself but because of the adverse effect on the stability and
1179). security of the country in granting citizenship to those not qualified (Rollo, p. 59).
WHEREFORE, the Resolution dated March 3, 1993 in Criminal Case No. 16698 of the
Sandiganbayan (First Division) is AFFIRMED and its Resolution dated March 11, 1993
in Criminal Case No. 16698 is MODIFIED in the sense that the Office of the Special
Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman is directed to consolidate the 32
Amended Informations (Criminal Cases Nos. 18371 to 18402) into one information
charging only one offense under the original case number, i.e., No. 16698. The
temporary restraining order issued by this Court on March 25, 1993 is LIFTED
insofar as to the disqualification of Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena is
concerned.

SO ORDERED.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, On June 1, 2004, at or about 9:00 p.m., the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs-Special
vs. Operating Task Force of the Taguig City Police received a report from an informant
ASIA MUSA y PINASALO, ARA MONONGAN y PAPAO, FAISAH ABAS y MAMA, and about the selling of prohibited drugs by Musa and her cohorts at Maharlika Village,
MIKE SOLALO y MILOK,Accused-Appellants. Taguig City. The police immediately organized a buy-bust operation which included
PO1 Danilo Arago (PO1 Arago) and PO1 Memoracion as team members. The police
DECISION agreed that PO1 Memoracion was the designated poseur-buyer; that five one-
thousand peso (PhP 1000) bills with Memoracion’s initials were to be used as
VELASCO, JR.,J.:
marked money; and that Memoracion’s lighting of the cigarette was the pre-
This is an appeal seeking to nullify the February 28, 2011 Decision 1 of the Court of arranged signal to signify the consummation of the transaction. The buy-bust team
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03758, which affirmed the October 7, 2008 submitted a pre-operation report to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and
Decision2 in Criminal Case No. 13536-D of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 163 entered it in the police blotter. Thereafter, the buy-bust team, along with the
in Taguig City. The RTC convicted accused-appellants of violating Section 5, Article II informant, proceeded to a nearby shopping mall (Sunshine Mall) where the police
of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 had arranged PO1 Memoracion and the informant to meet with the alleged drug
for selling dangerous drugs. dealers.

The Facts The buy-bust team arrived at the mall at around 9:45 p.m. The informant and
Memoracion alighted from the vehicle while the rest of the buy-bust team waited
An Information charged the accused Aisa Musa y Pinasilo (Musa), Ara Monongan y at the parking lot. The informant then introduced Memoracion, as a potential
Papao, Faisah Abas y Mama (Abas), and Mike Solano y Mlok (Solano) with the buyer, to Abas and Solano. PO1 Memoracion then told Abas and Solano that he
following: wanted to score shabu worth five-thousandpesos (PhP 5,000) but the two replied
that they do not have available stocks on hand. Abas and Solano offered to
That, on or about the 1st day of June, 2004 in the Municipality of Taguig, Metro
accompany PO1 Memoracion to Musa who was at a nearby condominium unit at
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
Building II, Maharlika Village. Memoracion agreed and pretended to go to the
named accused, in conspiracy with one another and acting as an organized or
comfort room in order to inform PO1 Arago regarding the change of venue. PO1
syndicated crime group, without being authorized by law, did, then and there
Memoracion also changed the pre-arranged signal from lighting a cigarette to a
willfully, unlawfully and knowingly sell and give away to one PO1 Rey Memoracion
phone ring or "missed call" and asked the rest of the buy-bust team to follow them.
one (1) heat sealed transparent plastic sachet containing 4.05 grams of white
crystalline substance, which was found positive for Methamphetamine Thereafter, the informant, Memoracion, Abas and Solano boarded a tricycle to
hydrochloride also known as "shabu", a dangerous drug, in violation of the above- Musa’s place. They arrived at the condominium at around 10:30 in the evening and
cited law. went to the 4th floor of the building while the rest of the buy-bust team remained
at the ground floor while waiting for
CONTRARY TO LAW.3
Memoracions’s call. The four met Musa at the hallway outside Unit 403. Abas
Version of the Prosecution
introduced Memoracion to Musa as the buyer. Musa then ordered Ara Monongan
The prosecution’s version of facts was anchored heavily on the testimony of Police (Monongan) to count the money. Afterwards, Musa took from her pocket one (1)
Officer 1 Rey Memoracion (PO1 Memoracion). From the findings of the trial and heat sealed plastic sachet of shabu and gave it to PO1 Memoracion. The latter
appellate courts, We synthesize his testimony, as follows: immediately made the call to PO1 Arago who, together with two (2) other police
officers,4 proceeded right away to PO1 Memoracion’s location, which was about 15
meters away from the ground floor.5
Upon seeing accused-appellants, the police officers made the arrest. PO1 Arago Accused Mike Solano alleged that on June 1, 2004 at around 11:00 o’clock in the
confiscated from Monongan the marked money of five PhP 1000 bills with morning, his cousin Faisah Abas requested him to accompany to Sunshine Mall to
Memoracion’s initials. PO1 Memoracion, on the other hand, marked the seized meet her textmate, Angie; that while Faisah waited for Angie, Mike went to the 2nd
sachet of shabu with "APM" or the initials of accused Aisa Pinasilo Musa. He then floor of the mall for window shopping; that Angie arrived together with two
delivered the confiscated item to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime pregnant women but left at 12:00 o’clock noon to go to a condominium in
Laboratory, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City and requested an examination of the Maharlika Village; that after he and the two pregnant women had eaten in Jollibee,
substance. The PNP Crime Lab Report showed that the indicated substance a big man sat beside him, introduced himself as a policeman and ordered him to
weighing 4.05 grams tested positive for shabu.6 come with him peacefully and to just explain in his office. He claimed not knowing
Aiza Musa and Ara Monongan and that he saw them for the first time only when
The prosecution likewise presented PO1 Arago, who stood as PO1 Memoracion’s they boarded in the same vehicle.
back-up during the buy-bust operation,7 to corroborate the foregoing version of
events. And, finally, accused Faisah Abas claimed that on that particular day, she and her
cousin Mike Solano proceeded to Sunshine Mall to meet Angie; that she
Version of the Defense accompanied Angie to Building 2 of Maharlika Village where they met Angie’s
cousin, Sonny Sagayno, at the 5th floor and that they all proceeded to the 4th floor;
In defense, each of accused-appellants denied the accusations against them and
that when they were inside Sonny’s house, she saw Ara Monongan, another female
submitted their respective alibis, as follows:
person and three children; that after they had eaten their lunch, she heard a
Accused Aiza Musa claimed that on June 1, 2004, she and her husband, Bakar Musa, gunshot and discovered that Sonny was not there anymore; that shortly thereafter,
went to their friend Sonny Sagayno’s house, located at Unit 512, Building 2, three persons in civilian clothes barged into the house, introduced themselves as
Maharlika Village, Taguig City, to discuss their forthcoming travel to Saudi Arabia policemen, poked a gun at her and frightened and handcuffed her; that two of the
and that while they were inside Sonny’s house, two police officers barged into the operatives went inside the room and ransacked some of Ara’s belongings; that the
house, while their companions stood outside, and searched for prohibited drugs, policemen accused her of selling illegal drugs; that no shabu was found in her
but found no shabu. Aside from saying that Ara Monongan was her neighbor, she possession.8
denied knowing her and Faisah Abas that well.
Ruling of the RTC
Accused Ara Monongan averred that from the morning up to 12:00 noon of June 1,
The RTC found all the accused guilty as charged, to wit:
2004, she was with her aunt Habiba’s house at Unit 403, Building 2, Maharlika
Village, Taguig City, washing clothes and looking over her aunt’s children; that at WHEREFORE, accused Aiza Musa y Pinasilo, Faisah Abas y Mama and Mike Solano y
about 12:00 noon of the same day, a visitor, whose name was Norma, arrived and Mlok, are found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Violation of
that at around 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon, Sonny Sagayno, Faisah Abas and the Section 5, 1st paragraph Article II, RA 9165 in relation to Article 62, 2nd paragraph
latter’s textmate, Angie, arrived; that at about 3:00 or 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, of the Revised Penal Code and are sentenced to suffer the penalty of life
policemen in civilian clothes barged into the house, searched for illegal drugs, but imprisonment and a fine of Ten Million Pesos (PhP 10, 000, 000.00) and to pay the
found none, and arrested her; that she went to stay in her aunt’s place only for a costs.
vacation; and that it was the first time she saw Faisah and Angie. She testified that
Aiza was her neighbor but disclaimed knowing her; that she was 17 years old at the Accused Ara Monongan y Papao is likewise found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
time of the complained incident; and that her real name was Ara Nonongan and not of the crime charged and, there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstance, is
Ara Monongan. sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of from fourteen (14) years, eight (8)
months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to sixteen (16) years of
reclusion temporal, as maximum, and to pay a fine of PhP 500, 000.00 and to pay court for appropriate disposition under Section 51, RA No. 9344 with respect to said
the costs. The period of preventive suspension is credited in her favor.9 accused – appellant.

The RTC gave credence to the testimony of PO1 Memoracion. It found his testimony The Decision is affirmed in all other respects. 15
as "candid, straightforward, firm, unwavering, nay credible," since it was not shown
that PO1 Memoracion was "ill-motivated in testifying as he did in Court against all The CA ruled that the RTC erred in reducing the penalty of reclusion temporal in
accused."10 On the other hand, the RTC rejected accused-appellants’ defenses of favor of Monongan. It reasoned that the penalty of life imprisonment as provided in
alibi and denial because they failed to present clear and convincing evidence to RA 9165 cannot be lowered because only the penalties provided in the Revised
establish that it was impossible for them to be at the locus criminis at the time of Penal Code, and not in special laws, may be lowered by one or two degrees. 16
the buy-bust operation.11
The Issues
As regards the penalty imposed, the RTC declared each of the accused liable as
I
principal because it found the presence of conspiracy among all four
accused.12 Citing Article 62 of the Revised Penal Code,13 it likewise imposed the Whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the credibility of the testimonies of
maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of PhP 10 million because of its the prosecution witnesses?
finding that the offense was committed by an organized/syndicated crime group.
However, it reduced the penalty imposed against Monongan because she was a II
minor at the time of the commission of the offense.
Whether the Court of Appeals erred in upholding the ruling of the RTC in rejecting
Ruling of the CA accused-appellants denials and alibis?

On appeal, all of the accused assailed their conviction and faulted the RTC in finding III
them guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the sale of dangerous drugs. In their Brief,
Whether the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that there was compliance with the
accused-appellants raised doubts on the credibility of the testimonies of the
chain of custody rule as required by RA 9165?
prosecution witnesses, and questioned the ruling of RTC for rejecting their alibis.
They also averred that the prosecution failed to establish the corpus delicti of the IV
offense and that the chain of custody rule under RA 9165 was not complied with
since no physical inventory and photograph of the seized items were taken in their Whether the Court of Appeals erred in imposing the maximum penalty of life
presence or in the presence of their counsel, a representative from the media and imprisonment and a fine of ten million pesos (Php 10,000,000) against ALL of the
the Department of Justice and an elective official. Furthermore, they refuted the accused?
findings of the RTC that conspiracy existed among them, and that they were
members of an organized/ syndicated crime group.14 The Ruling of this Court

Notwithstanding, the CA affirmed the findings of the RTC but modified the penalty We sustain the conviction of accused-appellants.
imposed on Monongan, to wit:
In determining the guilt of the accused for the sale of dangerous drugs, the
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision dated October 7, 2008 of the trial is affirmed, prosecution is obliged to establish the following essential elements: (1) the identity
with modification that the penalty meted upon accused-appellant Ara Monongan is of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale and the consideration; and (2) the
life imprisonment and fine of P10,000,000, but the case is hereby remanded to trial delivery of the thing sold and its payment. There must be proof that the transaction
or sale actually took place and that the corpus delicti be presented in court as were inspired with ill motives or that they were not properly performing their
evidence.17 duties. The defenses of denial and frame-up are invariably viewed with disfavor
because such defenses can easily be fabricated and are common ploy in
In finding the existence of these elements, the trial and appellate courts in the prosecutions for the illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs.23 Here, in the
present case upheld the credibility of the testimony of PO1 Memoracion, as absence of evidence showing ill motives on the part of the members of the buy-
supported by the testimony of PO1 Arago. In this regard, We find no sufficient bust team, accused-appellants’ denials and plea of frame-up deserve scant
reason to interfere with the findings of the RTC on the credibility of the prosecution consideration in light of the positive identification made by PO1 Memoracion and
witnesses pursuant to the principle that the trial court’s assessment of the PO1 Arago.
credibility of a witness is entitled to great weight and sometimes, even with
finality.18 Where there is no showing that the trial court overlooked or Similarly, accused-appellants’ alibis failed to fortify their claim of innocence
misinterpreted some material facts or that it gravely abused its discretion, the Court because, while they insist on their own version of events, they failed to
will not disturb the trial court’s assessment of the facts and the credibility of the demonstrate compliance with the requisites of the defense of alibi. In People v.
witnesses since the RTC was in a better position to assess and weigh the evidence Apattad,24 the Court reiterated the jurisprudential rules and precepts in assessing
presented during trial.19 The rationale behind this principle was explained by the the defense of alibi:
Court in People v. Dinglasan,20 to wit:
One, alibis and denials are generally disfavored by the courts for being
In the matter of credibility of witnesses, we reiterate the familiar and well- weak.1âwphi1 Two, they cannot prevail over the positive identification of the
entrenched rule that the factual findings of the trial court should be respected. The accused as the perpetrators of the crime. Three, for alibi to prosper, the accused
judge a quo was in a better position to pass judgment on the credibility of must prove not only that they were somewhere else when the crime was
witnesses, having personally heard them when they testified and observed their committed, but also that it was physically impossible for them to be at the scene of
deportment and manner of testifying. It is doctrinally settled that the evaluation of the crime at the time of its commission. Fourth, alibi assumes significance or
the testimony of the witnesses by the trial court is received on appeal with the strength only when it is amply corroborated by credible and disinterested
highest respect, because it had the direct opportunity to observe the witnesses on witnesses. Fifth, alibi is an issue of fact that hinges on the credibility of witnesses,
the stand and detect if they were telling the truth. This assessment is binding upon and the assessment made by the trial court — unless patently and clearly
the appellate court in the absence of a clear showing that it was reached arbitrarily inconsistent — must be accepted.
or that the trial court had plainly overlooked certain facts of substance or value that
if considered might affect the result of the case. (Emphasis supplied.) It is clear, therefore, that in order for the defense of alibi to prosper, the accused
should demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that he or she was
Moreover, the factual findings of the RTC are strengthened by an affirmatory ruling somewhere else when the buy-bust operation was conducted, and that it was
of the CA. Settled is the rule that the factual findings of the appellate court physically impossible for him or her to be present at the scene of the crime either
sustaining those of the trial court are binding on this Court, unless there is a clear before, during, or after the offense was committed. 25 It is on this thrust that the
showing that such findings are tainted with arbitrariness, capriciousness or palpable alibis made by accused-appellants failed to convince since all of them admitted that
error.21 Absent any indication that the courts a quo committed misinterpretation of they were within the vicinity of Building 2, Maharlika Village, Taguig City, which,
antecedents or grave abuse of discretion, the facts as established by the trial and apparently, was the locus criminis of the offense. Furthermore, considering that
appellate courts deserve full weight and credit, and are deemed conclusive. 22 alibi as evidence is negative in nature and self-serving, it cannot attain more
credibility than the testimonies of prosecution witnesses who testify on clear and
As regards accused-appellants’ denial and claim of frame-up, the trial and appellate positive evidence.26
courts correctly ruled that these defenses cannot stand unless the defense could
show with clear and convincing evidence that the members of the buy-bust team
Anent the third issue, accused-appellants demand their acquittal on the ground that police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever
the chain of custody rule under Section 21 of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive is practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 was not complied with. The said section states: compliance with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the
integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the
Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered apprehending officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and
Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, custody over said items. (Emphasis supplied.)

Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or At this juncture, We reiterate that the essence of the chain of custody rule is to
Laboratory Equipment. — The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all ensure that the dangerous drug presented in court as evidence against the accused
dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and is the same dangerous drug recovered from his or her possession.27 As explained in
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory Castro v. People:28
equipment so confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the
following manner: As a mode of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the
presentation and admission of the seized prohibited drug as an exhibit be preceded
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, by evidence to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent
immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the clams it to be. This requirement is essential to obviate the possibility of substitution
same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were as well as to ensure that doubts regarding the identity of the evidence are removed
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative through the monitoring and tracking of the movements and custody of the seized
from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official prohibited item, from the accused, to the police, to the forensic laboratory for
who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy examination, and to its presentation in evidence in court. Ideally, the custodial
thereof. chain would include testimony about every link in the chain or movements of the
illegal drug, from the moment of seizure until it is finally adduced in evidence. It
Corollarily, the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations provides:
cannot be overemphasized, however, that a testimony about a perfect chain is
SECTION 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized and/or Surrendered almost always impossible to obtain. (Emphasis supplied.)
Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and
Since the "perfect chain" is almost always impossible to obtain, non-compliance
Essential Chemicals, Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. —
with Sec. 21 of RA 9165, as stated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations, does
The PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources
not, without more, automatically render the seizure of the dangerous drug void,
of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, as well as
and evidence is admissible as long as the integrity and evidentiary value of the
instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized
seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team. 29
and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:
In the present case, accused-appellants insist on the police officer’s non-compliance
(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs
with the chain of custody rule since there was "no physical inventory and
shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and
photograph of the seized items were taken in their presence or in the presence of
photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom
their counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of Justice and
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a
an elective official."
representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any
elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and We, however, find these observations insignificant since a review of the evidence
be given a copy thereof; Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall on record shows that the chain of custody rule has been sufficiently observed by
be conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest the apprehending officers. Thru the testimonies of the PO1 Memoracion and PO1
Arago, the prosecution was able to prove that the shabu seized from Musa was the In this case, the failure on the part of the MADAC operatives to take photographs
very same shabu presented in evidence as part of the corpus delicti. The factual and make an inventory of the drugs seized from the appellant was not fatal because
findings of the CA, affirming those of the RTC, are elucidating: the prosecution was able to preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the said
illegal drugs. The concurrence of all elements of the illegal sale of shabu was proven
Here, the testimonial and documentary evidence presented by the prosecution by the prosecution. The chain of custody did not appear to be broken. The recovery
showed that the integrity and evidentiary value of the "shabu" was preserved. and handling of the seized drugs were satisfactorily established. Fariñas was able to
Contrary to the accused-appellants allegations, the shabu specimen presented in put the necessary markings on the plastic sachet of shabu bought from appellant
court by the prosecution was the same item received from accused-appellant Aiza immediately after the consummation of the drug sale. This was done in the
Musa by PO1 Memoracion. The buy-bust operation was conducted about 10:30 in presence of appellant and the other operatives, and while in the crime scene. The
the evening of June 1, 2004. Immediately thereafter, PO1 Memoracion marked the seized items were then brought to the PNP Crime Laboratory for examination on
seized sachet of shabu with his initials "APM" at the masking tape, and the accused- the same day. Both prosecution witnesses were able to identify and explain said
appellants were turned over to the police station for investigation. At 1:55H of June markings in court. (Emphasis supplied.)
2, 2004, PO1 Memoracion delivered to the PNP Crime Laboratory Service, SPD Fort
Bonifacio, Taguig, a Request for Laboratory Examination dated June 2, 2004, Hence, the fact that the PO1 Memoracion and PO1 Arago did not make an
together with the sachet of shabu seized form accused-appellant Aiza Musa. inventory of the seized items or that they did not take photographs of them is not
Stamped on the right portion of the Request for Examination shows the time and fatal considering that the prosecution in this case was able to establish, with moral
date of delivery at "01:55H 02 June 04", "RECEIVED BY: Nup Bacayan" and certainty, that the identity, integrity, and evidentiary value of the shabu was not
"DELIVERED BY: PO1 Memoracion." Thus: jeopardized from the time of its seizure until the time it was presented in court.

e) Evidence Submitted Furthermore, We find enlightenment in People v. Vicente, Jr.:32

One (1) transparent plastic sachet (heat sealed) containing white crystalline Prosecutions involving illegal drugs depend largely on the credibility of the police
substance suspected to be Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride or shabu marked officers who conducted the buy-bust operation. Oft-repeated is the rule that in
"APM". (item purchased from Aiza Musa) cases involving violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, credence is
given to prosecution witnesses who are police officers for they are presumed to
At 0300H 02 June 2004, the PNP Crime Laboratory Southern Police District Crime have performed their duties in a regular manner, unless there is evidence to the
Laboratory, Fort A. Bonifacio, Taguig Metro Manila issued Physical Science Report contrary. Absent any indication that the police officers were ill-motivated in
No. D-439-04S stating that the heat salad plastic sachet with markings "APM" testifying against the accused, full credence should be given to their
containing 4.05 grams of crystalline substance yielded positive for shabu. testimonies.33(Emphasis supplied.)
Also it bears stressing that during the hearing on May 28, 2007, accused-appellants, As stated, the records are bereft of any showing that PO1 Memoracion and PO1
thru their counsel, stipulated on the testimony of the forensic chemist, Police Arago were ill motivated in testifying against accused-appellants. Neither was there
Inspector Richard Allan Manganib, with respect to his forensic examination of the any indication that they were in bad faith nor had digressed from their ordinary
subject sachet of shabu. Clearly, the integrity of the sachet of "shabu" was duly tour of duty. There is, therefore, no cogent basis to taint their testimonies with
preserved as it was duly marked by PO1 Rey Memoracion and it was the very same disbelief. Hence, We submit to the presumption that both of them and the other
item transmitted to and examined by the PNP Crime Laboratory. 30 (Emphasis police officers involved in the buy-bust operation had performed faithfully the
supplied.) matters with which they are charged, and that they acted within the sphere of their
authority. Omnia praesumumtur rite esse acta (All things are presumed to have
It is likewise significant to note that a similar conclusion was reached in People v.
been done regularly).
Presas31 where the Court disposed, as follows:
In view of the foregoing considerations, the Court finds no reversible error on the and fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as
part of the RTC and CA in finding accused-appellants guilty beyond reasonable maximum, would be the proper imposable penalty. (Emphasis supplied.)
doubt of violating of Sec. 5, RA 9165 for selling dangerous drugs.
Therefore, the penalty of imprisonment imposed against Monongan should mirror
Notwithstanding, We rule that the penalty imposed against the accused-appellants the ruling of the Court in Mantalaba in the absence of any mitigating circumstance
must be modified. or aggravating circumstance other than the minority of Monongan. Consequently,
the penalty of imprisonment imposed on Monongan should be six (6) years and one
With reference to accused-appellant Monongan, the RTC found her to be a minor or (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, and fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and
17 years old at the time of the commission of the offense. 34 Accordingly, it imposed one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months
and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to sixteen (16) years of As regards the fine imposed, the RTC sentenced accused-appellants the maximum
reclusion temporal, as maximum.35 On appeal, the CA increased the penalty of fine of PhP 10 million on the ground that accused-appellants sold shabu as
Monongan to life imprisonment.36 members of an organized crime group39 or a drug syndicate. It ruled that Article 62
of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Sec. 23 of RA 7659, mandates that the
However, We find these impositions contrary to prevailing jurisprudence. In the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the offense was committed by any person
recent People v. Mantalaba,37 where the accused was likewise 17 years old at the who belongs to an organized/syndicated crime group.40 These findings were
time of the commission of the offense, the Court held, inter alia, that: (a) pursuant eventually affirmed by CA.41
to Sec. 98 of RA 9165, the penalty for acts punishable by life imprisonment to death
provided in the same law shall be reclusion perpetua to death when the offender is The records, however, are bereft of any proof that accused-appellants operated as
a minor; and (b) that the penalty should be graduated since the said provision members of a drug syndicate. By definition, a drug syndicate is any organized group
adopted the technical nomenclature of penalties provided for in the Revised Penal of two (2) or more persons forming or joining together with the intention of
Code.38 The Court in the said case established the rules as follows: committing any offense prescribed under RA 9165. 42 In determining whether or not
the offense was committed by any person belonging to an organized/syndicated
Consequently, the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority can now be crime group, We are guided by the ruling in People v. Alberca43 where the Court,
appreciated in fixing the penalty that should be imposed. The RTC, as affirmed by after scrutinizing the deliberations held by Congress on what is now Art. 62,
the CA, imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua without considering the minority paragraph 1(a) of the Revised Penal Code, held:
of the appellant. Thus, applying the rules stated above, the proper penalty should
be one degree lower than reclusion perpetua, which is reclusion temporal, the We hold that the trial court erred in finding that accused-appellant and his
privileged mitigating circumstance of minority having been appreciated. companions constituted a syndicated or an organized crime group within the
Necessarily, also applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law (ISLAW), the minimum meaning of Article 62, as amended. While it is true they confederated and mutually
penalty should be taken from the penalty next lower in degree which is prision helped one another for the purpose of gain, there is no proof that they were a
mayor and the maximum penalty shall be taken from the medium period of group organized for the general purpose of committing crimes for gain, which is the
reclusion temporal, there being no other mitigating circumstance nor aggravating essence of a syndicated or organized crime group.
circumstance. The ISLAW is applicable in the present case because the penalty
which has been originally an indivisible penalty (reclusion perpetua to death), xxxx
where ISLAW is inapplicable, became a divisible penalty (reclusion temporal) by
What emerges from this discussion is the idea of a group of persons; at least two in
virtue of the presence of the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority.
number, which is organized for the purpose of committing crimes for gain."
Therefore, a penalty of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum,
(Emphasis supplied.)
Applying this principle in Alberca, the Court held in People v. Santiago: 44 with MODIFICATIONS that: (a) accused-appellant Ara Monongan y Papao is
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of six (6) years and
Article 62 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 23 of Republic Act No. one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, and fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months
7659, mandates that the maximum penalty shall be imposed if the offense was and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum; and (b) each of the accused-
committed by any person who belongs to an organized/syndicated crime group. appellants shall pay a fine in the amount of five hundred thousand pesos (PhP
The same article defines an organized/syndicated crime group as a group of two or 500,000).
more persons collaborating, confederating, or mutually helping one another for the
purposes of gain in the commission of any crime. SO ORDERED.

xxxx

While the existence of conspiracy among appellants in selling shabu was duly
established, there was no proof that appellants were a group organized for the
general purpose of committing crimes for gain, which is the essence of the
aggravating circumstance of organized/syndicated group under Article 62 of the
Revised Penal Code. (Emphasis supplied.)

We find the present case similar to Santiago. The existence of conspiracy among
accused-appellants in selling shabu was duly established, but the prosecution failed
to provide proof that they operated as an organized group or as a drug syndicate.
Consequently, the aggravating circumstance that "the offense was committed by an
organized/syndicated group" cannot

be appreciated. Thus, the maximum PhP 10 million imposed by the trial and
appellate courts upon each of accused-appellants should be modified accordingly.

This is in consonance with the dictum in Criminal Law that the existence of
aggravating circumstances must be based on positive and conclusive proof, and not
merely on hypothetical facts no matter how truthful the suppositions and
presumptions may seem45 Aggravating circumstances which are taken into
consideration for the purpose of increasing the degree of the penalty imposed must
be proved with equal certainty as the commission of the act charged as criminal
offense.46

Incidentally, a survey of recent jurisprudence47 shows that the Court has


consistently imposed a fine of five hundred thousand pesos (PhP 500,000) for
violation of Sec. 5, Art. II RA 9165 in the absence of any aggravating circumstance.

WHEREFORE, The February 28, 2011 CA Decision CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 03758 finding
accused-appellants guilty of violating Sec. 5, Art. II of RA 9165 is hereby AFFIRMED
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 179033
At around 8:00 p.m. of December 31, 1997, appellant instructed Felicita and
Appellee,
Present: Conrada to repair to their room while he sat beside Uy who was watching
television. After about an hour, Conrada went to the dining room and saw appellant
CARPIO MORALES, J.,
Chairperson, holding a knife. As Felicita followed, she saw the dead body of Uy lying on the floor
- versus - BERSAMIN, covered with a mat, and as she noticed a bloodstained knife on the table, she
DEL CASTILLO,*
VILLARAMA, JR., and exclaimed, you killed Kuya Tony!, which appellant admitted.
SERENO, JJ.
FELICIANO ANABE y
CAPILLAN, Promulgated: Appellant at once instructed Felicita and Conrada to leave the house, otherwise
Appellant. September 6, 2010 they would be suspected of killing Uy. Appellant then hailed a taxi which the three
x-------------------------------------------------x
of them boarded after he had gone back to the house to set it on fire. They headed
for a pier in Tondo, Manila and boarded a boat that brought them

DECISION to Masbate where they stayed in appellants house for a week.

On Felicitas request, appellant brought her to her province,


Butuan. Felicita told her mother of the incidents in which she had no participation.
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
She was soon brought to Bombo Radio where she surrendered.
In two separate Informations filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon
City, both dated January 15, 1998, Feliciano Anabe y Capillan (appellant) and one
Prosecution witness CHAN declared that when he and his family left
Felicita Generalao y Irgulastion (Felicita), in conspiracy with another person,[1] were
for Singapore on December 30, 1997, the only persons in their house were
charged with robbery with homicide[2] and destructive arson.[3]
appellant, Felicita, Conrada and his brother-in-law Uy; and that they returned to the
country on January 1, 1998 after learning that their house got burned the previous
When arraigned, appellant and Felicita pleaded not guilty.[4]
night.[7] Gemma Chan(Gemma), daughter of Chan, gave essentially the same
testimony.[8]
[5] [6]
FELICITA, who turned state witness, gave the following version:
Felicita, appellant and a certain Conrada were house helpers of one Jose Chan
ROSITA UY (Rosita), Uys widow, testified on, among other things, the
(Chan). When Chan and family departed in December 1997 for a vacation abroad,
damages she suffered as a result of her husbands death including moral damages of
Chans brother-in-law Lam Tiong Uy (Uy), on Chans request, stayed with the Chans
over P3,000,000 and funeral expenses of P200,000.[9]
two-storey house at Tanggale Street, Barangay San Jose, Quezon City.

By the account of another prosecution witness, SPO1 CARLOS


VILLARIN (Villarin) of the Central Police District (CPD) in La Loma, Quezon
City,[10] when he arrived at about 10:40 p.m. of December 31, 1997 at the house of ROGELIO DAGOC, family driver of the Chans, attested that the knife
Chan to conduct an investigation, the second floor of the house and an adjacent recovered by the SOCO team was familiar to him as appellant used it every day for
warehouse were totally burned and he found the lifeless body of Uy at the living cutting chicken.[17]
room, lying face down with multiple stab wounds. He and CPD officers SPO2
Eduardo Taveso (Taveso) and SPO4 Juanito Legaspi (Legaspi) later went to Butuan Upon the other hand, APPELLANT gave the following account:[18]
City, where they picked up appellant and Felicita and brought them to the CPD in La
Loma, Quezon City.[11] At about 8:00 p.m. of December 31, 1997, while appellant was inside his room,
Conrada entered it crying. When he asked her why, she answered We have to
At the police station, Rosita identified the Tag Heuer wrist watch then leave. When he further asked why, she just said Si Kuya kasi. He, Conrada and
worn by appellant as belonging to her late husband Uy, [12] while Gemma identified Felicita thus left via taxi and headed for Lucena City, where they boarded a boat
the ring and bracelet then worn by Felicita as among her missing pieces of bound for, and arrived at, Masbate. They thereafter proceeded to Butuan, where
jewelry.[13] he was arrested and detained until Quezon City policemen brought him and Felicita
to the CPD. Conrada was able to flee.
SFO1 SAMUEL TADEO (Tadeo), who conducted an investigation of the incident,
declared that he found out that the fire was ignited by a rice cooker left plugged Respecting the Tag Heuer watch which was found in his possession,
inside a room on the second floor, right wing of the house, which suffered the most appellant claimed that he bought it from Gemma.
extensive damage; that 60% to 70% of the house was damaged; and that 90% of the
adjoining warehouse was likewise destroyed.[14] By consolidated Decision of April 2, 2001,[19] Branch 86 of the Quezon City
RTC convicted appellant as charged robbery with homicide and destructive arson
NAZARIO FERNANDEZ, JR. of the Scene of the Crime Operation (SOCO) of disposing as follows, quoted verbatim:
the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory attested that he and his team
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, JUDGMENT is hereby
also went to the house of Chan on December 31, 1997; that, led by Tadeo, they
rendered finding the accused FELICIANO ANABE guilty beyond
found the dead body of Uy at the living room with multiple stab wounds and an reasonable doubt of the crime of robbery with homicide and
destructive arson and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty
incised wound on the neck; and that at the back of the
of reclusion perpetua for each of the offense charged and to
[15]
house, they recovered a knife which tested positive for human blood. indemnify the private complainant Jose Chan the amount of
MA. CRISTINA FREYRA, a medico-legal officer of the PNP Crime Laboratory Seven Million Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P7,200,000.00)
representing the damages suffered by his residential building,
who conducted an autopsy on the body of Uy, found that the cause of the death of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) cash money and One
Uy, who sustained 16 stab wounds, four incised wounds and one contusion, was Hundred Twelve Thousand Pesos (P112,000.00) representing the
pieces of jewelry lost by said complainant less the value of the
hemorrhage.[16] jewelry returned to Gemma Chan, plus moral damages in the
amount of P50,000.00, with costs.
To appellant, Felicita was merely motivated by her desire to exculpate herself. At
The accused Anabe is also ordered to indemnify Rosita Uy the
amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity any rate, he argues that there was no corroborative evidence to substantiate
plus funeral expenses in the amount of P200,000.00 and moral
Felicitas testimony on material points. He thus posits that his conviction should not
damages in the amount of P50,000.00 plus costs.
be based on the alleged weakness of his defense, but
The wrist watch belonging to Lam Tiong Uy is hereby ordered on proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. [25]
returned to his widow Rosita Uy, while the jewelry belonging to
Gemma Chan is ordered returned to her. (emphasis and
underscoring in the original) The People, on the other hand, maintain that a credible testimony from an accused-
turned-state-witness suffices even if uncorroborated; and that the testimony of
Felicita, apart from being credible, was confirmed by the findings of police
Appellant, whose appeal to this Court was transferred to the Court of
investigators.[26]
Appeals[20] conformably with People v. Mateo,[21] faulted the trial court

The Court dismisses the appeal, but modifies the crime committed by appellant,
and deletes the monetary awards and damages.

I
. . . IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF Robbery with homicide has the following elements:
THE ACCUSED-TURNED-STATE-WITNESS FELICITA GENERALAO.
1. the taking of personal property is committed with violence or
intimidation against persons;
II
2. the property taken belongs to another;
. . . IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIMES
CHARGED DESPITE THE WEAKNESS OF THE PROSECUTIONS 3. the taking is characterized by intent to gain or animo lucrandi;
EVIDENCE. and

4. by reason of the robbery or on occasion thereof, homicide is


committed.[27]
By Decision of August 31, 2006,[22] the appellate court affirmed the trial courts
Decision, hence, the present appeal.[23]
That appellant took the Tag Heuer watch of Uy without his consent and with intent
In separate Manifestations, both the People and appellant informed that they were to gain should pose no doubt. Indeed, when stolen property is found in the
dispensing with the filing of supplemental briefs, deeming their briefs earlier filed possession of one, not the owner, and without a satisfactory explanation of such
sufficient.[24] possession, he is presumed to be the thief.[28] Since the legal presumption of taking
operated to shift the burden of evidence on appellant to disprove it, his In convicting appellant of robbery with homicide, the trial court reasoned, quoted
uncorroborated version that he bought the watch from Gemma does not persuade. verbatim:

The death of Lam Tiong Uy caused by stab and incise wounds in


The Court finds, however, that the prosecution evidence is insufficient to support
vital parts of his body proves beyond dispute that violence was
the conclusion that appellant also committed violence against Uy in order to effect applied upon his person. The subsequent recovery of his wrist
watch in the possession of accused Anabe indicates that said
the felonious taking.
accused obtained possession of said jewelry through violence. The
claim of Anabe that he purchased the watch from Gemma Chua is
There being no eyewitness to the crimes charged, Section 4 of Rule 133 of the Rules not only unbelievable, but also ridiculous. x x x

of Court on circumstantial evidence applies: The death weapon used against the victim was probably the
kitchen knife (Exhibit T) used by Anabe in cutting chicken and
SEC. 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. meat as helper in the Chan residence. x x x The position of the
Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if: blood stains located about 10 centimeters from the pointed tip of
the knife coincides with the depths of most of the wounds
(a) There is more than one circumstance; sustained by the victim strongly indicating that the knife was the
(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; lethal weapon.
and
(c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce
a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. (italics in
the original) The testimony of [Felicita] that Anabe admitted to her and
Conrada Salces that he killed Lam Tiong Uy convinces the Court
beyond doubt that Anabe killed Lam Tiong Uy. x x x Escape of the
accused from the scene of the crime indicates strong
In amplifying the above-listed conditions, this Court has held that circumstantial consciousness of guilt.

evidence suffices to convict an accused only if the circumstances proven constitute The destruction of the Chan residence after the robbery with
an unbroken chain which leads to one fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to homicide was committed is clearly arson and the perpetrator
was Anabe. [Felicita] testified that Anabe admitted to her that
the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as the guilty person; the circumstances he plugged-in the rice cooker inside the room of Gemma
proved must be consistent with each other, consistent with the hypothesis that the Chan. Arson investigators theorized that the rice cooker was
loaded with clothing which overheated and started the fire. The
accused is guilty, and at the same time inconsistent with any other hypothesis Court finds the theory believable. x x x [31] (emphasis supplied)
except that of guilt.[29]

As a corollary to the constitutional precept of presumption of innocence, a In affirming the Decision of the trial court, the appellate court found the following
conviction based on circumstantial evidence must exclude each and every circumstances sufficient to sustain appellants conviction: appellant ordered Felicita
hypothesis consistent with innocence.[30] and Conrada to go inside their room while he kept Uy company in the living room;
when Felicita (sic) and Conrada next saw appellant, he was already holding a
bloodstained knife[32] and Uy was already dead; appellant told them that they had evidence by showing a series of acts done by each of the accused in concert and in
to go with him or else they would be suspected of killing Uy; the blood in the pursuance of the common unlawful purpose.[34]
kitchen knife was found to be human blood; and during the confrontation at the
CPD, appellant was wearing Uys Tag Heuer watch.[33] In the present case, there is want of evidence to show the concerted acts
of appellant, Conrada and Felicita (albeit already discharged) in pursuing a common
The Court at once notes that, based on the earlier-quoted portion of its decision, design to rob Uy. The prosecution in fact appears to have abandoned the theory of
the trial court readily inferred appellants commission of violence on Uy from the conspiracy altogether, no evidence thereof having been presented. Absent proof of
following findings: (1) the death of Uy was caused by stab and incised wounds in conspiracy, appellant may only be held accountable for acts that are imputable to
vital parts of his body; and (2) the Tag Heuer watch belonging to Uy was recovered him with moral certainty.
from appellant. The claim of Felicita that appellant confessed to the killing of Uy must be
corroborated to be given credence. Like any other testimony, Felicita's statements
To be sure, however, that appellant committed the felonious taking does not mean cannot be readily accepted hook, line and sinker. More important, the testimony of
that he also committed the violence, even assuming that both occurred on the a state witness must be received with great caution and carefully scrutinized. The
same occasion.No legal presumption obtains here. rule is that the testimony of a self-confessed accomplice or co-conspirator imputing
the blame to or implicating his co-accused cannot, by itself and without
corroboration, be regarded as proof of a moral certainty that the latter committed
The allegation that appellant committed violence on Uy must be proved beyond
the crime. It must be substantially corroborated in its material points by
reasonable doubt.
unimpeachable testimony and strong circumstances, and must be to such an extent
that its trustworthiness becomes manifest.[35]
Notatu dignum is the fact that at least two persons other than appellant were
proven to be with Uy in Chans house on December 31, 1997. While conspiracy was
Was Felicitas testimony regarding appellants confession corroborated by the
alleged in the Informations, it was not established during the trial.
prosecutions other evidence?

Conspiracy as a basis for conviction must rest on nothing less than a moral
After scouring the records, the Court finds in the negative. The only other evidence
certainty. Considering the far-reaching consequences of a criminal conspiracy, the
purportedly linking appellant to the commission of violence on Uy is the
same degree of proof necessary in establishing the crime is required to support the
bloodstained kitchen knife (allegedly seen by Conrada being held by appellant; seen
attendance thereof, i.e., it must be shown to exist as clearly and convincingly as the
by Felicita on the kitchen table; and recovered by the police at the back of the
commission of the offense itself. While conspiracy need not be established by direct
house). The measure of the extent of blood stains in the knife may have coincided
evidence, it is nonetheless required that it be proved by clear and convincing
with the depths of most of the wounds sustained by Uy. The Court fails to see,
however, how it warrants the conclusion that appellant inflicted those
of the accused as state witness, his sworn statement shall be
wounds. Even gratuitously crediting the hearsay claim of Felicita that Conrada saw
inadmissible in evidence. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
appellant holding it, there is lack of proof that he was the only person who held the
knife at the crime scene.
Felicitas testimony on appellants confession being uncorroborated, the question is The Court is not unaware that as an exception to the general rule requiring
whether it can stand alone and be given full credence. corroboration, the uncorroborated testimony of a state witness may be sufficient
when it is shown to be sincere in itself because it is given unhesitatingly and in a
Turning an accused into a state witness is not a magic formula that cures all the straightforward manner and full of details which, by their nature, could not have
deficiencies in the prosecutions evidence. The state witness cannot simply allege been the result of deliberate afterthought.[36] This exception, however, applies only
everything left unproved and automatically produce a conviction of the crime if the state witness is an eyewitness since the testimony would then be direct
charged against the remaining accused. Corroboration of the account of the state evidence. The above-quoted Section 17 of Rule 119 actually assumes that the
witness is key. It is in fact a requirement for the discharge of an accused to be a testimony of the accused sought to be discharged as a state witness would
state witness under Section 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court that the testimony to constitute direct evidence (i.e., that he or she is an eyewitness) in that it requires
be given can be substantially corroborated in its material points. that there is no other direct evidence, except the testimony of the said accused.

Sec. 17. Discharge of accused to be state witness. When two or


Where, as here, the state witness is not an eyewitness, the testimony partakes of
more persons are jointly charged with the commission of any
offense, upon motion of the prosecution before resting its case, the nature of circumstantial evidence. The rule on circumstantial evidence thus
the court may direct one or more of the accused to be discharged
applies. If the testimony is uncorroborated, it does not suffice. It cannot merit full
with their consent so that they may be witnesses for the state
when, after requiring the prosecution to present evidence and the credence. Again, the rule on circumstantial evidence requires that, among other
sworn statement of each proposed state witness at a hearing in
things, there is more than one circumstance and the combination of all the
support of the discharge, the court is satisfied that:
circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The
(a) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the circumstantial evidence suffices to convict an accused of the crime charged only
accused whose discharge is requested;
(b) There is no other direct evidence available for the if the circumstances proven constitute an unbroken chain which leads to one fair
proper prosecution of the offense committed, except the and reasonable conclusion pointing to the accused, to the exclusion of all others, as
testimony of said accused;
(c) The testimony of said accused can be substantially the guilty person.
corroborated in its material points;
(d) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty; and
(e) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any The uncorroborated testimony of Felicita does not suffice to establish that
offense involving moral turpitude. appellant committed violence on Uy. Neither does appellants flight. The fact

Evidence adduced in support of the discharge shall automatically remains that the three persons present at around the time the crime was
form part of the trial. If the court denies the motion for discharge
committed all fled thereafter. Appellants involvement in every element of the
crime charged must still be proved beyond reasonable doubt. As defined, theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain, but without
violence against, or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take the
In the appreciation of circumstantial evidence, the rule is that the personal property of another without the latter's consent. [39] Intent to gain
circumstances must be proved, and not themselves presumed. The circumstantial or animus lucrandi is an internal act that is presumed from the unlawful taking by
evidence must exclude the possibility that some other person has committed the the offender of the thing subject of asportation.[40]
offense charged.[37]
The prosecution has not come forward with any evidence completely discounting As reflected earlier, from appellants possession of the stolen Tag Heuer watch of
the possibility that some person other than appellant could have stabbed Uy to Uy, the unlawful taking and intent to gain follow.
death. It bears reiteration that at least three persons were present at the crime
scene. Even with Felicitas discharge, the prosecution still needed to exclude the
possibility that Conrada was the one who used the recovered kitchen knife to stab
Uy to death. It failed to do so, however. Such failure is fatal to its case given that its Theft becomes qualified when any of the following circumstances is present:
evidence had already missed that indispensable nexus
1. the theft is committed by a domestic servant;
between appellants presence at the crime scene and his participation in the
stabbing of Uy in order to hold him liable therefor as well. 2. the theft is committed with grave abuse of confidence;

3. the property stolen is a (a) motor vehicle, (b) mail matter or (c)
Courts must judge the guilt or innocence of the accused based on facts and not on large cattle;
mere conjectures, presumptions, or suspicions.[38]
4. the property stolen consists of coconuts taken from the
premises of a plantation;
The Court finds that of the previously enumerated elements of robbery
5. the property stolen is fish taken from a fishpond or fishery; and
with homicide, the first and fourth elements (1) the taking of personal property is
committed with violence or intimidation against persons; and (4) by reason of the 6. the property was taken on the occasion of fire, earthquake,
typhoon, volcanic eruption, or any other calamity, vehicular
robbery or on occasion thereof, homicide is committed were not established against accident or civil disturbance.[41]
appellant, the prosecution having merely banked on the strength of a legal
presumption that he took the Tag Heuer watch without the consent of Uy and with Appellant could not have committed the crime had he not been employed as a
intent to gain. The trial and appellate courts thus erred in convicting appellant of house helper of Chan and family. His employers, as well as their relatives who stay
robbery with homicide. at the Chan residence, reposed their trust and confidence in him while he was living
thereat. He was allowed an almost unlimited access throughout the house and was
The crime committed by appellant is qualified theft.
even provided his own room. It was this trust and confidence that he exploited to corroborate Felicitas claim as they only attest to the commission of the crime, not
enrich himself. Committed with grave abuse of confidence, the theft cannot but be its authorship. Again, at least three persons were at the crime scene and they all
qualified. left at the same time. Being uncorroborated, Felicitas account on appellants
authorship of destructive arson does not suffice to convict him.
Appellant is, however, guilty of qualified theft only with respect to Uys Tag
Heuer watch, there being no competent evidence of his complicity in the While denial is generally a weak defense looked upon with disfavor, the weakness
asportation of the other items declared in the Information, including Gemmas ring of the defense cannot be the basis of a conviction. The primary burden still lies with
and bracelet which were in state witness Felicitas possession after she was the prosecution whose evidence must stand or fall on its own weight. Under this
arrested. rule, the defense of denial finds its special place and assumes primacy when the
case for the prosecution is at the margin of sufficiency in establishing proof beyond
On to the charge for destructive arson, the pertinent portion of Article 320 of the reasonable doubt,[42] as in this case.
Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, reads:
In fine, appellant cannot be convicted of destructive arson.
Art. 320. Destructive Arson. - The penalty of reclusion perpetua to
death shall be imposed upon any person who shall burn:
xxxx Finally, for the proper penalty for the single crime of qualified theft, Articles 309

5. Any building the burning of which is for the purpose of and 310 of the Revised Penal Code provide:
concealing or destroying evidence of another violation of law, or
for the purpose of concealing bankruptcy or defrauding creditors Art. 309. Penalties. Any person guilty of theft shall be punished
or to collect from insurance. (emphasis supplied) by:
1. The penalty of prisin mayor in its minimum and medium
periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than 12,000 pesos
This charge deserves scant consideration. Appellant being only guilty of qualified but does not exceed 22,000 pesos; but if the value of the thing
stolen exceeds the latter amount, the penalty shall be the
theft for stealing the Tag Heuer watch of Uy, the burning of the house of Chan and maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one
family for the purpose of concealing or destroying the evidence could not be year for each additional ten thousand pesos, but the total of the
penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In
unceremoniously imputed to him. The Court even fails to appreciate what evidence such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which
of qualified theft was left to conceal or destroy after appellant ran away with may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of
this Code, the penalty shall be termed prisin mayor or reclusin
the Tag Heuer watch.
temporal, as the case may be.

The claim of Felicita that appellant, before boarding the getaway taxi, returned to 2. The penalty of prisin correccional in its medium and
maximum periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than
the house to set it on fire is likewise uncorroborated. The findings of police
6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos.
investigators on the damage to the house and adjacent warehouse do not serve to
3. The penalty of prisin correccional in its minimum and medium
estimate. In the absence of independent and reliable corroboration of such
periods, if the value of the property stolen is more than 200 pesos
but does not exceed 6,000 pesos. estimate, the courts may either apply the minimum penalty under Article 309 or fix
the value of the property taken based on the attendant circumstances of the case.
4. Arresto mayor in its medium period to prisin
correccional in its minimum period, if the value of the property
stolen is over 50 pesos but does not exceed 200 pesos. Accordingly, the prescribed penalty under Article 309 (6) of the Revised Penal Code
is arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods. Considering, however, that
5. Arresto mayor to its full extent, if such value is over 5
pesos but does not exceed 50 pesos. the theft is qualified, the prescribed penalty shall be increased by two degrees, that
is, to prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods or two (2) years, four
6. Arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if
such value does not exceed 5 pesos. (4) months and one (1) day to six (6) years.

7. Arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, if the Taking into account the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term shall be
theft is committed under the circumstances enumerated in
paragraph 3 of the next preceding article and the value of the taken from anywhere within the range of four (4) months and one (1) day to two (2)
thing stolen does not exceed 5 pesos. If such value exceeds said years and four (4) months of arresto mayor, which is the penalty next lower than
amount, the provisions of any of the five preceding subdivisions
shall be made applicable. the prescribed penalty.

8. Arresto menor in its minimum period or a fine not


exceeding 50 pesos, when the value of the thing stolen is not over
5 pesos, and the offender shall have acted under the impulse of The Court finds that the proper penalty is an indeterminate sentence of four (4)
hunger, poverty, or the difficulty of earning a livelihood for the
support of himself or his family. months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two (2) years, four (4)
months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as maximum.
Art. 310. Qualified theft. The crime of qualified theft shall be
punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees than those
Respecting the trial courts awards of money and damages, affirmed by the
respectively specified in the next preceding articles, . . . .
appellate court, they cease to have any basis in light of the return of the Tag
Heuer watch. They are thus deleted.
In the present case, Rosita declared that she could not remember the purchase
price of the Tag Heuer watch but gave an estimate of more than P2,000.[43] This is WHEREFORE, the Decision of August 31, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-
insufficient to prove the value of the stolen article. HC No. 00928 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Feliciano Anabe y Capillan is
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of qualified theft and is sentenced to suffer
Merida v. People[44] instructs that to prove the amount of the property taken for the indeterminate penalty of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as
fixing the penalty imposable against the accused under Article 309 of the Revised minimum, to two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional,
Penal Code, the prosecution must present more than a mere uncorroborated as maximum. He is acquitted of destructive arson.
It appearing from the records that Anabe has been incarcerated since April 2001 or
for more than the maximum penalty for qualified theft, the Director of the Bureau
of Corrections is ORDERED to cause his IMMEDIATE RELEASE from custody, unless
he is being held for some other lawful cause, and to INFORM this Court within five
(5) days from receipt of this Decision of the date he was actually released from
confinement.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 103497 February 23, 1994 Upon arraignment, both accused pleaded not guilty. After trial, the Special Criminal
Court, Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 5 rendered a decision * dated 4
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, January 1989, the dispositive part of which reads:
vs.
ROBERTO BULALAYAO y DOMINGO and DIOSDADO DOMONDON y WHEREFORE, with the overwhelming evidence presented by the
ECHALER, accused. prosecution against both accused, this Court finds Roberto
Bulalayao and Diosdado Domondon guilty beyond reasonable
DIOSDADO DOMONDON y ECHALER, accused-appellant. doubt of having conspired and confederated with each other in
committing the crime of Robbery with Homicide and sentences
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. them to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT **; to pay the
heirs of the deceased Jaime Lim the sum of Fifty-Thousand
(P50,000.00) Pesos as damages; One Thousand Five Hundred
Public Attorney's Office for accused-appellant.
Pesos (P1,500.00) as pecuniary damages and to pay the costs.2

Only Diosdado Domondon has appealed his conviction.


PADILLA, J.:
The factual findings of the trial court, as aptly summarized by the Solicitor-General
in the appellee's brief, and which we have verified to be supported by the records,
In an information dated 24 September 1987, accused Diosdado Domondon and
are herein reproduced in full:
Roberto Bulalayao were charged by the Assistant City Prosecutor of Manila with the
crime of Robbery with Homicide allegedly committed as follows:
On September 7, 1987, a passenger jeepney plying the Taft
Avenue-Grace Park, "Monumento" route was hailed by Ofelia Lim
That on or about the 17th day of September, 1987, in the City of
and her brother Jaime Lim as the said jeepney passed by in front
Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring and
of the Philippine General Hospital. Ofelia sitted (sic) herself
confederating together and mutually helping each other, [and] did
immediately behind the driver while Jaime sitted (sic) himself near
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent of
the door at the back of the jeepney. (pp. 2-3, tsn, Apr. 27, 1988)
gain and by means of force, violence and intimidation, to wit: by
The passenger vehicle continued with its journey when Grace Cua
brandishing their bladed weapons and announcing it was a hold-
and her friends, after witnessing a concert of Basil Valdez, spotted
up, take, steal and carry away (one) 1 Men's Seiko 5 Wrist-watch,
the jeepney in Intramuros and boarded the same. (pp. 2-8, tsn,
square, automatic, gold plated including bracelet valued at
Jan. 26, 1988) As the jeepney traversed the road leading to
P1,500.00, belonging to Rodolfo Ungsod y Purificacion, to the
Monumento, Rodolfo Ungsod, a cashier of the Department of
damage and prejudice of said owner in the aforesaid sum of
Agriculture, hailed the jeepney in order to go home. (pp. 2-3, tsn,
P1,500.00, Philippine currency; that by reason and on the
June 10, 1988)
occasion of the commission of the said crime of robbery, the said
accused did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously,
The jeepney first took the route of Port Area then Sta. Cruz
with intent to kill, attack and assault and use personal violence
passing Avenida, Rizal. While the loaded jeepney was traversing
upon one Jaime Lim y Soriano by stabbing him on the left side of
near the corner of Avenida, Rizal and Pampanga Street, two men
the body with the bladed weapon thereby inflicting upon the
hailed the jeepney and boarded it. One sitted (sic) himself on the
latter a mortal wound which was the direct and immediate cause
right side of the jeepney beside Ofelia Lim, while the other
of his death thereafter.
positioned himself at the back, standing at the running board. The
jeepney continued its journey passing through Avenida, Rizal.
Contrary to law.1
Before reaching the corner of Aurora Boulevard, the man who
was sitted (sic) beside Ofelia Lim who later turned out to be
accused Diosdado Domondon, armed with a bladed weapon, together with his wallet and were about to take his wrist-watch when he was able
shouted in a loud-clear voice saying, "This is a Hold-up." With to escape and run towards Avenida Rizal leaving his tricycle behind. At Avenida
drawn bladed weapon, Domondon collected assorted valuables of Rizal, he hailed and boarded a jeepney. However, the two (2) men who earlier held
the passengers while accused Roberto Bulalayao, also with drawn him up overtook him in the jeepney and boarded the same. One of them turned out
bladed weapon, threatened the passengers as he stood on the to be accused Bulalayao who positioned himself at the jeepney's running board.
jeep's running board. While the collection was going on, trouble
ensued. Jaime Lim refused to part with his valuables and instead According to Domondon, upon seeing Bulalayao, he shouted "hold-up" in order to
fought Bulalayao who was beside him. During the scuffle, accused catch the attention of other jeepney's passing through the same route. He took off
Bulalayao stabbed Jaime Lim on different parts of his body. With his wristwatch and was about to it to Bulalayao when a man behind him wrestled
the wounds suffered by Jaime Lim, his hold on accused Roberto with Bulalayao. Bulalayao stabbed the man he wrestled with who turned out to be
Bulalayao weakened, and Bulalayao was able to extricate himself Jaime Lim. Bulalayao extricated himself from Jaime Lim and jumped out of the
from his hold. Immediately thereafter; accused Roberto Bulalayao jeepney. Because of the commotion, Domondon claimed he headed for the
jumped out of the jeepney leaving his co-accused Diosdado jeepney's exit. While on the way out of the jeepney, someone kicked him from
Domondon. (pp. 4-7, tsn, Apr. 27, 1988) With the escape of his behind causing him to be thrown out of the jeepney. He fell on the pavement
companion, accused Domondon followed suit and while in the causing him to lose his consciousness. He allegedly regained consciousness on the
process of getting out of the jeepney, Rodolfo Ungsod suddenly following day at a garage in Oroquieta Street, a place where he used to hang
kicked Domondon by the seat of his pants resulting in Domondon around. Later, he was arrested and identified by the Barangay Captain to the police,
being thrown outside the jeepney thru the backdoor and falling in where, in a police line up, he was identified by witnesses. 4
the pavement. (pp. 11-13, tsn, June 10, 1988) With Jaime Lim still
alive, the jeepney rushed to the Manila Central University This testimony of Domondon was about to be rebutted by his co-accused Bulalayao,
Hospital. Immediately upon arrival, Jaime Lim was operated (on) when the latter requested thru counsel that he be recalled to the witness stand to
but died inspite of all the efforts of the doctors. (pp. 6-7, tsn, Apr. give his version of the incident. There being no objection, Bulalayao's request was
27, 1988). granted by the trial court. While on the witness stand, accused Bulalayao
abandoned his earlier defense of alibi and admitted having committed the crime
Jaime Lim's cadaver was autopsied and the cause of his death was with a new twist: that Domondon was innocent and had nothing to do with the
severe hemorrhage secondary to stab wounds of the chest crime. Bulalayao also admitted that he was in the company of another man that
(Exhibit D). held-up Domondon, and took his money and wallet. He further stated that it was he
who stabbed and killed Jaime Lim and also absolved Domondon of any participation
The body of Jaime Lim was first brought to the house of a cousin in the robbery and killing.5
and later brought at 7170 B. Langoa St., Comembo, Fort Bonifacio,
Makati. The family and relatives of the deceased observed a 15- Domondon, as aforestated, has appealed the decision of the trial court and assigns
day wake and buried him on October 4, 1987 in La Union. (pp. 7-8, a single error allegedly committed by the trial court, to wit:
tsn, Apr. 27, 1988)3
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT
Both accused testified in their own behalf and set up different defenses. Bulalayao's (DOMONDON) GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
defense was alibi. He claimed that at the time of the incident, he was driving a CRIME OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE AND ORDERING HIM TO PAY
tricycle owned by someone he only remembered as Mang Boy. THE HEIRS OF THE DECEASED P1,500.00 AS PECUNIARY DAMAGES
DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THE
Domondon, on the other hand, claimed that he was also driving a tricycle near CRIME OF ROBBERY.
Avenida Rizal and Cavite Street when two (2) men hailed him and ordered him to
bring them to Bulacan Street. Along the way, one of the passengers poked a bladed Appellant Domondon prays that the decision of the trial court dated 4 January 1989
weapon at the right side of his body and told him to stop at a dark portion of the be modified in the sense that he should be convicted only of the crime of homicide
street. The two (2) men took his earnings for the day in the amount of P40.00 (not robbery with homicide).
The Solicitor General, in the appellee's brief, while agreeing with appellant Q And in fact there was (sic) no personal
Domondon that the crime of consummated robbery was not proven by the belonging that was (sic) taken from you, is that
prosecution beyond reasonable doubt, contends that the evidence for the right?
prosecution has nonetheless clearly established that appellant Domondon should
be held liable for attempted robbery with homicide under Art. 297 of the Revised A None, sir. (emphasis supplied)7
Penal Code which provides:
Ofelia Lim, another eyewitness to the event, testified that:
Attempted and Frustrated robbery committed under certain
circumstances — when by reason or on occasion of an attempted Q When Domondon started collecting watches
or frustrated robbery a homicide is committed the person guilty from the passengers, did he ask anything from
of such offenses shall be punished by reclusion temporal in its your brothers?
maximum period to reclusion perpetua unless the homicide
committed shall deserve a high penalty under the provisions of
A No, sir.
this Code.
Q You mean, his two arms were empty?
It would appear that appellant Domondon's plea to be convicted of the crime of
homicide, and not of robbery with homicide, runs counter to his feign of innocence
A Yes, sir.
before the trial court and to have the evidence that showed that it was his co-
accused Roberto Bulalayao, who actually stabbed and killed Jaime Lim on the
occasion or as a result of the robbery which they both conspired to perpetrate on Q Do you know how many watches did
that night of 17 September 1987. Curiously, appellant Domondon confesses guilt to Domondon was able to (sic) collect from the
the lesser crime of homicide even if he was not the actual assailant while his co- passengers?
accused Bulalayao, who did not appeal his conviction, will suffer the harsher
penalty for robbery with homicide. *** A One only, sir.

To support his contention, appellant Domondon points to the variance between the Q Do you now to whom among the passengers
allegation in the information and the testimony of Rodolfo Ungsod y Purificacion, the watch belong? (sic)
the alleged victim of the robbery. The Information alleges that:
A No, sir.
. . . to wit: by brandishing their bladed weapons and announcing it
was a hold up take, steal and carry away one (1) Men's Seiko 5 Q Aside from the watch, was Domondon able to
wrist watch, square, automatic, gold plated including bracelet get other valuable things?
valued at P1,500.00, belonging to Rodolfo Ungsod y Purificacion . .
. . (emphasis supplied)6 A No more, sir. 8

On the other hand, the testimony of Rodolfo Ungsod revealed that: xxx xxx xxx

Q Now, Mr. Witness, after Domondon and Q And you will agree with me also Mrs. Witness,
Bulalayao stage that hold-up, there was (sic) no that you did not witness to any among the
personal belongings that was (sic) taken from passenger jeepney that they were divested by
among the passengers? their valuables because you were frightened by
that announcement of that hold-up, is that
A None, sir. right?
A I saw one of the passengers being divested of necessary in order to identify the offense. (Clark's Criminal
one watch. Procedure, p. 227, p. 337) 12

Q And you remember the name of that In charging the complex crime of robbery with homicide, the information should
passenger, is that right? charge each element of the complex offense with the same precision as if the two
(2) constituent offenses were the subject of separate prosecutions. Where a
A No, sir. 9 complex crime is charged as to one of the component offenses, the defendant can
be convicted of the offense proven. 13
To the same effect was the declaration of another passenger-witness Grace Cua:
In the present case, there appears to be no conclusive evidence proving the physical
Q So, you do not know what was transpiring to act of asportation by the appellant, inasmuch as the testimonies of the prosecution
the passengers while you were bowing your witnesses have adequately shown that no personal belongings were taken from
head to the floor? them, and that the alleged wristwatch that was stolen was not submitted in
evidence. The fact of asportation was not therefore established beyond reasonable
doubt. 14
A While I was bowing my head, I saw an arm
was stretched and took the watch of one
passenger. Although, I was bowing my head, I In other words, the records show that the robbery was not consummated but was
did not close my eyes. Even you, you can limited to its attempted stage by reason of some cause or accident other than the
experience that. But I was not sure, but I just appellant's spontaneous desistance. The established fact is that it was Domondon
state (sic) there was an arm (sic) and took the who announced the "hold-up" while carrying a bladed weapon. This leaves no room
watch from one passenger. 10 for the mind to doubt that robbery was his purpose. "The requisite criminal design
to rob, determined by his acts, prior to, contemporaneous with, and subsequent to
the commission of the crime was duly proven" 15
In the case of U.S. vs. Lahoy Lahoy and Madanlog, 11 this Court laid down the rule
that an accused cannot be convicted of the complex crime of robbery with homicide
if there exists a variance between the allegation in the information and proof as to As the trial court in this case correctly observed:
the ownership of the property taken. The Court then rationalized that:
. . . Once on board the jeepney, the two positioned themselves in
From the fact that the name of the injured person may, in case of strategic places and Domondon suddenly whipped a bladed
necessity be alleged as unknown it should not be inferred that the weapon and in a threatening manner shouted. "This is a hold up,
naming of such person, when known is of no importance. Where and started collecting the valuables of the passengers inside the
the name of the injured party is necessary as a matter of essential jeep. Bulalayao's jumping out of the jeepney followed by
description of the crime charged, the complaint must invest such Domondon and the latter being kicked at the seat of his pants
person with individuality by either naming him or alleging that his causing him to be thrown outside of the jeepney and falling on
name is unknown — (Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice, the pavement are clear proofs that accused Domondon was in
9th ED. Secs. 111, 112). It is elementary that in crimes against conspiracy with accused Bulalayao in the hold-up, and the role
property, ownership must be alleged as matter essential to the which Domondon played was to threaten with a bladed weapon
proper description of the offense. the passengers inside the jeepney and collect the passenger's
valuables. (emphasis supplied) 16
To constitute larceny, robbery, embezzlement . . . obtaining
money by false pretenses, malicious mischief, etc. the property The Court also notes that Bulalayao's admission of guilt as the lone author of the
obtained must be that of another, and indictment for such crime was a belated attempt to cover-up for his co-accused, herein appellant
offense must name the owner and a variance in this respect Diosdado Domondon. The trial court observed that Bulalayao first made it appear
between the indictment and the proof will be fatal. It is also before the court that he was set to rebut the testimony of Domondon. On the
witness stand, he made a sudden change of heart by admitting all the allegation of
his co-accused. The admission was not however supported by competent evidence.
Indeed, the assumption of full criminal responsibility by accused Bulalayao
appeared to be a mere afterthought and cannot be given serious consideration. 17

The foregoing considerations together with the evidence on record lead to no other
conclusion than that appellant Diosdado Domondon commenced the commission of
a felonious taking of personal property belonging to the passengers of the jeepney,
by brandishing a bladed weapon to intimidate and cow said passengers into fear for
their lives. The robbery would have been complete were it not for the resistance
exerted by Jaime Lim which led to his untimely demise.

Under Art. 297 of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty for attempted
robbery with homicide in the absence of any mitigating or aggravating
circumstances, is the higher half of the maximum period of reclusion temporal or
from eighteen (18) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to twenty (20) years.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby modified and appellant


Diosdado Domondon is hereby found guilty of the crime of Attempted Robbery with
Homicide. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, he is hereby sentenced to
suffer the indeterminate sentence of ten (10) years and one (1) day of prision
mayor maximum, to eighteen (18) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day
of reclusion temporal maximum, to indemnify the heirs of Jaime Lim the amount of
P50,000.00 as death indemnity; P10,000.00 representing expenses for funeral,
burial and wake; and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.
RONNIE SUMBILLO, G.R. No. 167464
FRANCISCO SERICON,
JOSELITO SERICON, and Present: During the trial, the prosecution presented Pangan, Pangans wife Evelyn Prieto
FELIX GAYUSO, JR., CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
Pangan, Pangans employee Dante Morales, and the attending physician Dr.
Petitioners, BRION,
DEL CASTILLO, Policarpio Santos, Jr.[6]
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.
Pangan testified that on 15 November 1995 at about 8:00 in the evening, he
- versus - arrived from work and noticed the bruises on his wifes body. Pangan decided to
bring his wife to the hospital so he went outside to get his jeep which was parked
30 meters from their house. While removing the lawanit cover of his jeep, accused
Promulgated:
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, January 21, 2010 Ronnie Sumbillo (Sumbillo) suddenly appeared and aimed his gun on Pangan.
Respondent. Sumbillo pulled the guns trigger but it did not fire. Pangan hid behind his jeep and
covered himself with the lawanit. Pangan heard Sumbillo pulling the guns trigger
x--------------------------------------------------x several times but the gun did not fire. Pangan ran towards his house but Francisco
Sericon, Joselito Sericon, and Felix Gayuso, Jr. stopped him and held him. However,
R E S OL U TI ON Pangan was able to free himself. While running towards his house, Pangan heard a
gunshot. Pangan fell on the pavement and was unconscious.[7]
CARPIO, J.:
Pangan stated that his cousin, Leopoldo Macayag, brought him to Mary Johnston
Hospital where he was given first aid treatment. Then, Pangan was transferred to
This is an appeal[1] from the Court of Appeals Decision[2] dated 23 November 2004
Metropolitan Hospital where he was confined for three days.[8]
in CA-G.R. CR No. 26562 as well as the Resolution[3] dated 17 March 2005 denying
Evelyn Pangan and Dante Morales corroborated Pangans testimony. Evelyn Pangan
the Motion for Reconsideration. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification
added that on 15 November 1995 at around 7:30 p.m., while she was walking
the 8 February 2002 Decision[4] of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 33,
towards Juan Luna Street, she was hit at the back. She fell on the ground and saw
convicting Ronnie Sumbillo of the crime of attempted murder as principal and
Joselito Sericon holding a wooden stick. Then, Emelinda Sericon and Nida Almario
Francisco Sericon, Joselito Sericon and Felix Gayuso, Jr. as accomplices.
kept pulling her hair and pushing her to the ground. Evelyn Pangan shouted for help
and eventually her relatives and neighbors rescued her while Nida Almario, Joselito
In an Amended Information dated 9 September 1999, Ronnie Sumbillo, Francisco
and Emelinda Sericon ran away. Evelyn Pangan further stated that she sustained
Sericon, Joselito Sericon, and Felix Gayuso, Jr. (petitioners) were charged with the
slight injuries so when her husband saw her, he decided to bring her to the hospital.
frustrated murder of Edilberto Pangan, Jr. (Pangan).[5] They pleaded not guilty
While her husband was getting their jeep, she saw Sumbillo pointing a gun at her
upon arraignment.
husband.[9]
he had no intention to take revenge. Joselito Sericon alleged that he was charged
Dr. Policarpio Santos, Jr. stated that aside from the hematoma and contusion at with the offense because he was related by blood to all the co-accused. Francisco
the back of Pangans head which was treated with an ice pack, Pangan was in Sericon and Emelinda Sericon corroborated their sons testimony.[13]
normal condition and was given analgesic only.[10]
On the other hand, Sumbillo alleged that on 15 November 1995, he was on duty During the trial, the defense presented an affidavit of desistance signed by
from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. of the next day as Barangay Tanod of Panday Pira Pangan.[14]
Extension. Sumbillo stated that he was in the Barangay Hall when he saw her
sister, Emelinda Sericon, filed a complaint against Evelyn Pangan. Sumbillo denied The trial court gave premium to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. The
seeing Pangan that evening. Sumbillo also denied that he was in possession of any defenses of alibi and denial cannot prevail over the positive identification and
firearm.[11] unwavering positive assertions. The trial court was convinced that petitioners
conspired with one another in the commission of crime. However, since there was
Felix Gayuso, Jr. testified that on 15 November 1995 at about 8:00 p.m., he was no allegation of conspiracy in the Information, Francisco Sericon, Joselito Sericon
busy serving the customers at their carinderia in Canal de Reyna St., Tondo, Manila and Felix Gayuso, Jr. were considered as accomplices. The simultaneous act of
until midnight. Felix Gayuso, Jr. stated that he only knew about the incident holding Pangan while Sumbillo was pulling the trigger was aimed to deprive
because he was informed that her aunt, Emelinda Sericon, was involved in an Pangan the chance to escape or put up a defense, thus facilitating the commission
altercation with Pangans wife. Felix Gayuso, Jr. stated that when he arrived from of the crime.[15]
school on 16 November 1995, his parents informed him that two policemen came
to their house. Since the policemen did not have a warrant, his father was not The trial court stated that the affidavit of desistance signed by Pangan was only an
arrested. Felix Gayuso, Jr. also stated that a case was filed against his father but afterthought because Emelinda Sericon testified that Pangan expressed
was subsequently dismissed because Pangan was not able to identify his father in willingness to desist from pursuing the case if the charges against Evelyn Pangan
court. Felix Gayuso, Jr. denied having met Pangan on 15 November 1995 and would be withdrawn. The trial court ruled that the affidavit of desistance was only
explained that he was probably charged with the crime because of his relation to a bargain and it did not suggest that Pangans declarations were clouded by a
[12]
Sumbillo. misapprehension of facts.[16]

Joselito Sericon testified that on 15 November 1995, he was watching the PBA On 8 February 2002, the trial court rendered its decision, finding Sumbillo guilty of
game at his friends house when somebody informed him that Evelyn Pangan the crime of Attempted Murder as principal and Francisco Sericon, Joselito
mauled his mother, Emelinda Sericon. Joselito Sericon stated that he immediately Sericon, and Felix Gayuso, Jr. as accomplices. The trial court sentenced Sumbillo to
went to the place of the incident and saw his mother lying on the floor. He brought suffer an indeterminate prison term ranging from four years, two months and one
his mother to Tondo General Hospital. Then, they went to the Barangay Hall to day of prision correccional maximum as minimum to six years and one day
report the incident. Joselito Sericon said that he was angry with Pangans wife but of prision mayor minimum as maximum. The accomplices were sentenced to
suffer an indeterminate prison term ranging from six months and one day under grilling examination.[20] These significant factors are needed in unearthing
of prision correccional minimum as minimum to four years, two months of prision the truth, especially in conflicting testimonies. The findings of the trial court on
correccional medium as maximum. All of the accused were ordered to indemnify such matters are binding and conclusive on the appellate court unless some facts
the victim jointly and severally P12,000 as medical expenses.[17] or circumstances of weight and substance have been overlooked, misapprehended
or misinterpreted,[21] which is not true in the present case.
On appeal, petitioners contended that the trial court erred in giving weight and
credence to the incredulous testimonies of the prosecution witnesses which were The clear and convincing testimonies of Pangan and the other prosecution
conflicting and inconsistent. Petitioners alleged that the prosecution failed to witnesses positively point to Sumbillo as the one who held a gun and tried to shot
prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt because the imputation of the crime Pangan. As correctly pointed out by the appellate court, the inconsistencies in the
was merely fabricated.[18] prosecution witnesses testimonies pertain to minor details which do not affect the
witnesses credibility.[22]
In its 23 November 2004 Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts
decision with modification as to the penalty so that Sumbillo should suffer the Sumbillos alibi that he was on duty as Barangay Tanod cannot prevail over the
indeterminate prison term of four years, two months and one day of prision positive and categorical testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Sumbillos
correccional maximum as minimum to eight years and one day to ten years testimony, corroborated by the accomplices and other witnesses, does not prove
of prision mayor in its medium period as maximum.[19] that it was physically impossible for Sumbillo, Francisco Sericon, Joselito Sericon,
and Felix Gayuso, Jr. to be at the crime scene or its immediate vicinity at the time
The Court of Appeals ruled that the discrepancies in the testimonies of the of the incident. Alibi is the weakest defense not only because it is inherently weak
prosecution witnesses refer to immaterial and collateral matters that do not affect and unreliable, but also because it is easy to fabricate. It is generally rejected when
the credibility of the witnesses. The Court of Appeals held that petitioners alibi and the accused is positively identified by a witness.[23]
denial are bereft of merit in the light of the positive and categorical assertions
made by the prosecution witnesses. The trial court was correct in appreciating the qualifying circumstance of treachery
to have attended the commission of the crime. The evidence shows that when
Hence, this appeal. Sumbillo aimed the gun, the Sericons and Gayuso, Jr. held different parts of
Pangans body, giving him no opportunity to defend himself. Then, when Pangan
We find the appeal without merit. The Court of Appeals was correct in affirming was able to free himself, he ran away with his back turned against Sumbillo who
the trial courts ruling that attempted murder was clearly established by the kept on firing his gun until he was hit at the back of his head. [24]
prosecution witnesses. The assessment of the credibility of witnesses and their
testimonies is best undertaken by the trial court due to its unique opportunity to Treachery has been defined as the deliberate employment of means, methods, or
observe the witnesses firsthand and to note their demeanor, conduct and attitude forms in the execution of a crime against persons which tend directly and specially
to insure its execution, without risk to the offender arising from the defense which The penalty of indeterminate prison term ranging from six months of arresto
the intended victim might raise.[25] mayor as minimum to four years, two months of prision correccional as maximum
should be imposed on the accomplices. Thus, the penalty imposed on the
accomplices, Francisco Sericon, Joselito Sericon and Felix Gayuso, Jr. should be
modified. However, the trial court was correct in holding Sumbillo, Francisco
In People v. Pascual,[26] the Court held: Sericon, Joselito Sericon and Felix Gayuso, Jr. jointly liable to pay Pangan P12,000
representing medical expenses.
Attempted Murder is punishable with the penalty two degrees
lower than that prescribed for the consummated felony under
Article 51 of the Revised Penal Code. Accordingly, the imposable Finally, Pangan is likewise entitled to exemplary damages since the qualifying
penalty is prision mayor. Absent any mitigating or aggravating
circumstance of treachery was firmly established. If an aggravating circumstance,
circumstance, the penalty shall be imposed in its medium period.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum penalty either qualifying or generic, accompanies the crime, an award of P25,000 as
to be imposed should be within the range of prision correccional, exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the Civil Code. This serves as
and the maximum of the penalty to be imposed should be within
the range of prision mayor in its medium period.[27] deterrent to serious wrongdoings, and as vindication for undue sufferings and
wanton invasion of the rights of an injured person or punishment for those guilty
of outrageous conduct.[30]
The penalty of indeterminate prison term of four years, two months and one day
of prision correccional as minimum to eight years and one day of prision mayor as
WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the 23 November 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals
maximum was correctly imposed on Sumbillo.
in CA-G.R. CR No. 26562 finding Ronnie Sumbillo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
attempted murder as principal and Francisco Sericon, Joselito Sericon and Felix
In People v. Continente,[28] the Court stated:
On the other hand, being an accomplice to the crimes of murder Gayuso, Jr. as accomplices with the MODIFICATION that the accomplices are
and attempted murder, the penalty to be imposed on appellant hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment of six months of arresto mayor, as
Donato Continente shall be the medium periods of reclusion
temporal and prision correccional, respectively. Applying the minimum, to four years and two months of prision correccional, as maximum. In
Indeterminate Sentence Law in both cases, the maximum of the addition to the award of P12,000 representing medical expenses, Pangan is also
penalty to be imposed on appellant Continente as an accomplice
to the crime of murder is the medium period of reclusion entitled to the award of P25,000 as exemplary damages.
temporal and the minimum shall be prision mayor, while the
maximum of the penalty to be imposed on the said appellant as
an accomplice to the crime of attempted murder is the medium SO ORDERED.
period of prision correccional and the minimum shall be arresto
mayor.[29]
G.R. No. 207406 According to the prosecution, on December 4, 1994, Norberto married Alice G.
Eduardo (Alice) at the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. Born into their union were
NORBERTO A. VITANGCOL, Petitioner, three (3) children.10
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. After some time, Alice "began hearing rumors that [her husband] was previously
married to another woman[.]"11 She eventually discovered that Norberto was
DECISION previously married to a certain Gina M. Gaerlan (Gina) on July 17, 1987, as
evidenced by a marriage contract registered with the National Statistics Office. Alice
LEONEN, J.:
subsequently filed a criminal Complaint for bigamy against Norberto.12
Persons intending to contract a second marriage must first secure a judicial
On the other hand, Norberto alleged that he and Alice became romantically
declaration of nullity of their first marriage. If they proceed with the second
involved sometime in 1987.13 "After much prodding by their friends and relatives,
marriage without the judicial declaration, they are guilty of bigamy regardless of
[he and Alice] decided to get married in 1994."14
evidence of the nullity of the first marriage.
Before finalizing their marriage plans, however, Norberto revealed to Alice that he
This resolves a Petition for Review on Certiorari 1 assailing the Court of Appeals
had a "fake marriage"15 with his college girlfriend, a certain Gina
Decision2 dated July 18, 2012 and Resolution3 dated June 3, 2013. The Court of
Gaerlan.16 Nevertheless, despite Norberto’s revelation, Alice convinced him that
Appeals affirmed with modification the Decision 4 of Branch 25 of the Regional Trial
they proceed with the wedding. Thus, Norberto and Alice were married on
Court of Manila convicting petitioner Norberto Abella Vitangcol (Norberto) of
December 4, 1994 and, thereafter, had three children.17
bigamy punished under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. 5 Norberto was
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of two (2) years and four (4) months Sometime in 2007, Norberto heard rumors from their household workers that Alice
of prision correccional as minimum to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision was having an affair with a married man. He was able to confirm the affair after
mayor as maximum.6 hearing Alice in a phone conversation with her paramour. 18

In the Information dated April 29, 2008, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila Norberto then sought advice from his business lawyer who later on convinced Alice
charged Norberto with bigamy.7The accusatory portion of the Information reads: to end the affair. The lawyer also warned Alice of the possible criminal liability she
may incur if she continued seeing her paramour.19
That on or about December 4, 1994, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said
accused, being then legally married to GINA M. GAERLAN, and without such Allegedly in retaliation to the threat of criminal action against her, Alice filed the
marriage having been legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminal Complaint for bigamy against Norberto.20
feloniously contract a second or subsequent marriage with ALICE G. EDUARDO-
VITANGCOL which second marriage has all the legal requisites for its validity with Finding that Norberto contracted a second marriage with Alice despite his
the said accused NORBERTO ABELLA VITANGCOL knowing fully well prior to and at subsisting valid marriage with Gina, Branch 25 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila
the time of the celebration of the second marriage he was already married to the convicted Norberto of bigamy. The dispositive portion of the Decision dated
said GINA M. GAERLAN. September 1, 2010 reads:

Contrary to law.8 WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby finds accused Norberto
Abella Vitangcol GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of BIGAMY defined
Norberto was arraigned, pleading not guilty to the charge. Trial then ensued.9 and penalized under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. Accused is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as
minimum imprisonment to twelve (12) years of prision mayor as maximum legally dissolved; that while his first marriage was subsisting, Norberto contracted a
imprisonment. second marriage with Alice; and that the second marriage would have been valid
had it not been for the existence of the first. Norberto, therefore, should be
SO ORDERED.21 convicted of bigamy.33
On appeal, the Court of Appeals sustained the guilty verdict against Norberto but The issue for our resolution is whether the Certification from the Office of the Civil
modified the penalty imposed in accordance with the Indeterminate Sentence Law. Registrar that it has no record of the marriage license issued to petitioner Norberto
The dispositive portion of the Court of Appeals Decision dated July 18, 2012 reads: A. Vitangcol and his first wife Gina proves the nullity of petitioner’s first marriage
and exculpates him from the bigamy charge.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Manila, Branch 25, dated September 1, 2010 is hereby AFFIRMED with The Certification from the Office of the Civil Registrar that it has no record of the
MODIFICATION of the penalty to which appellant is previously sentenced. marriage license is suspect. Assuming that it is true, it does not categorically prove
Accordingly, he is now meted to suffer an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years that there was no marriage license. Furthermore, marriages are not dissolved
and four (4) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one through mere certifications by the civil registrar. For more than seven (7) years
(1) day of prision mayor, as maximum. before his second marriage, petitioner did nothing to have his alleged spurious first
marriage declared a nullity. Even when this case was pending, he did not present
SO ORDERED.22
any decision from any trial court nullifying his first marriage.
Norberto filed a Motion for Reconsideration,23 which the Court of Appeals denied in
I
the Resolution dated June 3, 2013.24
Bigamy is punished under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code:
Norberto filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari before this court. The People of
the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General, filed a Comment 25 to ARTICLE 349. Bigamy. – The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any
which Norberto filed a Reply.26 person who shall contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former
marriage has been legally dissolved, or before the absent spouse has been declared
Norberto argues that the first element of bigamy is absent in this case. 27 He
presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings.
presents as evidence a Certification28from the Office of the Civil Registrar of Imus,
Cavite, which states that the Office has no record of the marriage license allegedly For an accused to be convicted of this crime, the prosecution must prove all of the
issued in his favor and his first wife, Gina. He argues that with no proof of existence following elements:
of an essential requisite of marriage—the marriage license—the prosecution fails to
establish the legality of his first marriage.29 [first,] that the offender has been legally married;

In addition, Norberto claims that the legal dissolution of the first marriage is not an [second,] that the first marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her
element of the crime of bigamy. According to Norberto, nothing in Article 349 of spouse is absent, the absent spouse could not yet be presumed dead according to
the Revised Penal Code that punishes bigamy mentions that requirement. 30 Stating the Civil Code;
that "[a]ny reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of the
accused[,]"31 Norberto prays for his acquittal.32 [third,] that he contracts a second or subsequent marriage; and

The prosecution counters that it has proven the existence of Norberto’s prior valid [lastly,] that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for
marriage with Gina as evidenced by the marriage contract they had executed. The validity.34
prosecution likewise proved that the first marriage of Norberto with Gina was not
The prosecution allegedly fails to prove the validity of his first marriage with Gina the alleged issuance of this office of Marriage License No. 8683519 in favor of MR.
because the civil registrar of the municipality where they were married had no NORBERTO A. VITANGCOL and MS. GINA M. GAERLAN dated July 17, 1987.41
record of the marriage license allegedly issued in their favor.
This Certification does not prove that petitioner’s first marriage was solemnized
Contrary to petitioner’s claim, all the elements of bigamy are present in this case. without a marriage license. It does not categorically state that Marriage License No.
Petitioner was still legally married to Gina when he married Alice. Thus, the trial 8683519 does not exist.42
court correctly convicted him of the crime charged.
Moreover, petitioner admitted the authenticity of his signature appearing on the
Based on the marriage contract presented in evidence, petitioner’s first marriage marriage contract between him and his first wife, Gina.43 The marriage contract
was solemnized on July 17, 1987. This was before the Family Code of the Philippines between petitioner and Gina is a positive piece of evidence as to the existence of
became effective on August 3,1988.35 Consequently, provisions of the Civil Code of petitioner’s first marriage.44This "should be given greater credence than documents
the Philippines36 govern the validity of his first marriage. testifying merely as to [the] absence of any record of the marriage[.]"45

Article 53 of the Civil Code enumerates the requisites of marriage, the absence of Republic v. Court of Appeals and Castro46 was originally an action for the declaration
any of which renders the marriage void from the beginning: 37 of nullity of a marriage.47 As part of its evidence, the plaintiff presented a
certification that states that the marriage license "cannot be located as said license
Article 53. No marriage shall be solemnized unless all these requisites are complied . . . does not appear from [the local civil registrar’s] records."48
with:
This court held that "[t]he certification . . . enjoys probative value, [the local civil
(1) Legal capacity of the contracting parties; registrar] being the officer charged under the law to keep a record of all data
relative to the issuance of a marriage license."49
(2) Their consent, freely given;
This court further said that "[u]naccompanied by any circumstance of suspicion and
(3) Authority of the person performing the marriage; and
pursuant to Section 29, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, a certificate of ‘due search
(4) A marriage license, except in a marriage of exceptional character. and inability to find’ sufficiently proved that [the local civil registrar] did not issue
[a] marriage license . . . to the contracting parties." 50
The fourth requisite—the marriage license—is issued by the local civil registrar of
the municipality where either contracting party habitually resides. 38 The marriage The circumstances in Castro and in this case are different. Castro involved a civil
license represents the state’s "involvement and participation in every marriage, in case for declaration of nullity of marriage that does not involve the possible loss of
the maintenance of which the general public is interested."39 liberty. The certification in Castro was unaccompanied by any circumstance of
suspicion, there being no prosecution for bigamy involved. On the other hand, the
To prove that a marriage was solemnized without a marriage license, "the law present case involves a criminal prosecution for bigamy. To our mind, this is a
requires that the absence of such marriage license must be apparent on the circumstance of suspicion, the Certification having been issued to Norberto for him
marriage contract, or at the very least, supported by a certification from the local to evade conviction for bigamy.
civil registrar that no such marriage license was issued to the parties."40
The appreciation of the probative value of the certification cannot be divorced from
Petitioner presents a Certification from the Office of the Civil Registrar of Imus, the purpose of its presentation, the cause of action in the case, and the context of
Cavite, which states: the presentation of the certification in relation to the other evidence presented in
the case. We are not prepared to establish a doctrine that a certification that a
[A]fter a diligent search on the files of Registry Book on Application for Marriage
marriage license cannot be found may substitute for a definite statement that no
License and License Issuance available in this office, no record could be found on
such license existed or was issued. Definitely, the Office of the Civil Registrar of whether the licenses issued before or after the document in question still exists in
Imus, Cavite should be fully aware of the repercussions of those words. That the the custody of the civil registrar. There is no evidence that relates to the procedures
license now cannot be found is not basis per se to say that it could not have been for safekeeping of these vital documents. This would have shown whether there
issued. was unfettered access to the originals of the license and, therefore, would have
contributed to the proper judicial conclusion of what the manifestation by the civil
A different view would undermine the stability of our legal order insofar as registrar implies.
marriages are concerned. Marriage licenses may be conveniently lost due to
negligence or consideration. The motivation to do this becomes greatest when the This court cannot grant the presumption of good faith and regularity in the
benefit is to evade prosecution. performance of official functions to the civil registrar for the purposes sought by
petitioner. In other words, the presumption of regularity in the performance of
This case is likewise different from Nicdao Cariño v. Yee Cariño.51 In Cariño, the official functions is too remotely detached to the conclusion that there is no
marriage contract between Santiago Cariño and his first wife, Susan Nicdao, bore no marriage license.
marriage license number.52 In addition, the local civil registrar certified that it has
no record of any marriage license issued to Santiago Cariño and Susan At best, the presumption of regularity in the performance of the civil registrar’s
Nicdao.53 This court declared Santiago Cariño’s first marriage void for having been function without the context just discussed can lead to the conclusion that he in
solemnized without a marriage license.54 good faith could not find the marriage license in his office. This presumption does
not mean that the marriage license did not exist. Nor does it mean that the
In this case, there is a marriage contract indicating the presence of a marriage marriage license was issued.
license number freely and voluntarily signed and attested to by the parties to the
marriage as well as by their solemnizing officer. The first marriage was celebrated However, even the conclusion of good faith is difficult to accept. There was a
on July 17, 1987. The second marriage was entered into on December 4, 1994. marriage contract duly executed by petitioner and his first spouse as well as by the
Within a span of seven (7) years, four (4) months, and 17 (seventeen) days, solemnizing officer. The marriage contract is in the custody of the civil registrar. The
petitioner did not procure a judicial declaration of the nullity of his first marriage. presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions by a public officer
Even while the bigamy case was pending, no decision declaring the first marriage as should likewise be applicable to infer a conclusion that the marriage license
spurious was presented. In other words, petitioner’s belief that there was no mentioned in that contract exists.
marriage license is rendered untrue by his own actuations.
Conviction in a charge of bigamy will result to a legitimate imposition of a penalty
This factual context makes the use and issuance of the Certification from the Office amounting to a deprivation of liberty. It is not a far-fetched conclusion—although
of the Civil Registrar suspect. The prosecution has to prove that despite the this is not always the case—that a well-connected accused will use all means, fair or
existence of a valid first marriage, petitioner nevertheless contracted a second or foul, to achieve an acquittal. Many criminal cases can turn on documentary
subsequent marriage. The admission of a marriage contract with proof of its evidence the issuance of which is within the discretion of a government employee.
authenticity and due execution suffices to discharge the burden of proving beyond The temptations for the employee to issue a document, which may be accurate but
reasonable doubt that a prior marriage exists. The burden of evidence will, thus, which he knows the accused will be able to use for a different purpose, can easily
pass on to the defense. Mere presentation of a certification from the civil registrar be created by an accused. Much of the bases of this conclusion will depend on how
that the marriage license cannot be found is not enough to discharge the burden of the trial court judge evaluates the demeanor of the witnesses. We can defer to that
proving that no such marriage license was issued. discretion as much as to make our own judgment based on evidence conclusively
admitted and weighed by the trial court. Using both, we have no reason to disturb
The parties clearly identified Marriage License No. 8683519 in the marriage the conclusions of the trial court.
contract.55 There is no evidence to show that the number series of that license is
spurious or is not likely to have been issued from its source. There is no proof as to II
Assuming without conceding that petitioner’s first marriage was solemnized With all the elements of bigamy present in this case, petitioner was correctly
without a marriage license, petitioner remains liable for bigamy. Petitioner’s first convicted of the crime charged.1âwphi1
marriage was not judicially declared void. Nor was his first wife Gina judicially
declared presumptively dead under the Civil Code.56 The second element of the III
crime of bigamy is, therefore, present in this case.
Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the maximum term of the penalty that may
As early as 1968, this court held in Landicho v. Relova, et al.57 that be imposed on petitioner is that which, in view of the attending circumstances,
could be properly imposed under the Revised Penal Code. On the other hand, the
parties to a marriage should not be permitted to judge for themselves its nullity, minimum term of the penalty shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to
only competent courts having such authority. Prior to such declaration of nullity, that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for the offense. The court then has the
the validity of the first marriage is beyond question. A party who contracts a second discretion to impose a minimum penalty within the range of the penalty next lower
marriage then assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy.58 to the prescribed penalty. As for the maximum penalty, the attending
circumstances are considered.65
The commission that drafted the Family Code considered the Landicho ruling in
wording Article 40 of the Family Code:59 The imposable penalty for bigamy is prision mayor.66 The penalty next lower to that
is prision correccional. Prision correccional ranges from six (6) months and one (1)
Art. 40. The absolute nullity of a previous marriage may be invoked for purposes of day to six (6) years;67 hence, the minimum penalty can be any period within this
remarriage on the basis solely of a final judgment declaring such previous marriage range.
void.1avvphi1
As for the maximum penalty, it should be within the range of prision mayor in its
Should the requirement of judicial declaration of nullity be removed as an element medium period, there being no mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Prision
of the crime of bigamy, Article 349 of Revised Penal Code becomes useless. "[A]ll mayor in its medium period ranges from eight (8) years and one (1) day to 10 years.
that an adventurous bigamist has to do is to . . . contract a subsequent marriage
and escape a bigamy charge by simply claiming that the first marriage is void and Petitioner was sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of two (2) years and
that the subsequent marriage is equally void for lack of a prior judicial declaration four (4) months of prision correccional as minimum to eight (8) years and one (1)
of nullity of the first."60 Further, "[a] party may even enter into a marriage aware of day of prision mayor as maximum. The ranges of the minimum and maximum
the absence of a requisite—usually the marriage license—and thereafter contract a penalties are within the ranges as previously computed. The indeterminate penalty
subsequent marriage without obtaining a judicial declaration of nullity of the first imposed was proper.
on the assumption that the first marriage is void." 61
Nevertheless, "[k]eeping in mind the basic purpose of the Indeterminate Sentence
For these reasons, the Landicho ruling remains good law. It need not be revisited by Law ‘to uplift and redeem valuable human material, and prevent unnecessary and
this court En Banc as petitioner insists.62 excessive deprivation of personal liberty and economic usefulness[,]’"68 we lower
the minimum of the indeterminate penalty to six (6) months and one (1) day
The third element of bigamy is likewise present in this case. Petitioner admitted of prision correccional. Petitioner is, thus, sentenced to suffer the indeterminate
that he subsequently married Alice G. Eduardo on December 4, 1994.63 As for the penalty of six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correccional as minimum to
last element of bigamy, that the subsequent marriage has all the essential eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as maximum.
requisites for validity, it is presumed. The crime of bigamy was consummated when
petitioner subsequently married Alice without his first marriage to Gina having been WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari is DENIED. The Court of Appeals
judicially declared void.64 Decision dated July 18, 2012 and Resolution dated June 3, 2013 in CA-G.R. CR No.
33936 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner Norberto A. Vitangcol is
sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six (6) months and one (1) day
of prision correccional as minimum to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision
mayor as maximum.

SO ORDERED.