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Republic of the Philippines In the early morning of May 18, 1995, eleven (11) persons believed to be members of the

SUPREME COURT Kuratong Baleleng gang, reportedly an organized crime syndicate which had been involved in a
Manila spate of bank robberies in Metro Manila, where slain along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon
City by elements of the Anti-Bank Robbery and Intelligence Task Group (ABRITG) headed by Chief
EN BANC Superintendent Jewel Canson of the Philippine National Police (PNP). The ABRITG was composed
of police officers from the Traffic Management Command (TMC) led by petitioner-intervenor
Senior Superintendent Francisco Zubia, Jr.; Presidential Anti-Crime Commission — Task Force
Habagat (PACC-TFH) headed by petitioner Chief Superintendent Panfilo M. Lacson; Central Police
District Command (CPDC) led by Chief Superintendent Ricardo de Leon; and the Criminal
G.R. No. 128096 January 20, 1999
Investigation Command (CIC) headed by petitioner-intervenor Chief Superintendent Romeo Acop.
PANFILO M. LACSON, petitioner,
Acting on a media expose of SPO2 Eduardo delos Reyes, a member of the CIC, that what actually
transpired at dawn of May 18, 1995 was a summary execution (or a rub out) and not a shoot-out
vs. between the Kuratong Baleleng gang members and the ABRITG, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto
formed a panel of investigators headed by the Deputy Ombudsman for Military Afairs,
THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SANDIGANBAYAN, OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, THE Bienvenido Blancaflor, to investigate the incident. This panel later absolved from any criminal
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, MYRNA ABALORA, NENITA ALAP-AP, IMELDA PANCHO MONTERO, liability all the PNP officers and personal allegedly involved in May 18, 1995 incident, with a
and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. finding that the said incident was a legitimate police operation. 1

ROMEO M. ACOP AND FRANCISCO G. ZUBIA, JR., petitioner-intervenors. However, a review board led by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Francisco Villa modified modified
the Blancaflor panel's finding and recommended the indictment for multiple murder against
twenty-six (26) respondents, including herein petitioner and intervenors. The recommendation
was approved by the Ombudsman except for the withdrawal of the charges against Chief Supt.
MARTINEZ, J.: Ricardo de Leon.

The constitutionality of Sections 4 and 7 of Republic Act No. 8249 — an act which further defines Thus, on November 2, 1995, petitioner Panfilo Lacson was among those charged as principal in
the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan — is being challenged in this petition for prohibition eleven (11) information for murder 2 before the Sandiganbayan's Second Division, while
and mandamus. Petitioner Panfilo Lacson, joined by petitioners-intervenors Romeo Acop and intervenors Romeo Acop and Francisco Zubia, Jr. were among those charged in the same
Francisco Zubia, Jr., also seeks to prevent the Sandiganbayan from proceedings with the trial of informations as accessories after-in-the-fact.
Criminal Cases Nos. 23047-23057 (for multiple murder) against them on the ground of lack of
jurisdiction. Upon motion by all the accused in the 11 information, 3 the Sandiganbayan allowed them to file a
motion for reconsideration of the Ombudsman's action.4
The antecedents of this case, as gathered from the parties' pleadings and documentary proofs,
are as follows: After conducting a reinvestigation, the Ombudsman filed on March 1, 1996 eleven (11) amended
informations5before the Sandiganbayan, wherein petitioner was charged only as an accessory,

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together with Romeo Acop and Francisco Zubia, Jr. and other. One of the accused 6 was dropped Subsequently, on March 5, 1997, the Sandiganbayan promulgated a Resolution 14 denying the
from the case. motion for reconsideration of the Special Prosecutor, ruling that it "stands pat in its resolution
dated May 8, 1996."
On March 5-6, 1996, all the accused filed separate motions questioning the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan, asserting that under the amended informations, the cases fall within the On the same day15 the Sandiganbayan issued and ADDENDUM to its March 5, 1997 Resolution,
jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court pursuant to Section 2 (paragraphs a and c) of Republic Act the pertinent portion of which reads:
No. 7975.7 They contend that the said law limited the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to cases
where one or more of the "principal accused" are government officials with Salary Grade (SG) 27 After Justice Lagman wrote the Resolution and Justice Demetriou concurred in
or higher, or PNP officials with the rank of Chief Superintendent (Brigadier General) or higher. The it, but before Justice de Leon. Jr. rendered his concurring and dissenting
highest ranking principal accused in the amended informations has the rank of only a Chief opinion, the legislature enacted Republic Act 8249 and the President of the
Inspector, and none has the equivalent of at least SG 27. Philippines approved it on February 5, 1997. Considering the pertinent
provisions of the new law, Justices Lagman and Demetriou are now in favor of
Thereafter, in a Resolution 8 dated May 8, 1996 (promulgated on May 9, 1996), penned by Justice granting, as they are now granting, the Special Prosecutor's motion for
Demetriou, with Justices Lagman and de Leon concurring, and Justices Balajadia and reconsideration. Justice de Leon has already done so in his concurring and
Garchitorena dissenting,9 the Sandiganbayan admitted the amended information and ordered the dissenting opinion.
cases transferred to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court which has original and exclusive
jurisdiction under R.A. 7975, as none of the principal accused has the rank of Chief xxx xxx xxx
Superintendent or higher.
Considering that three of the accused in each of these cases are PNP Chief
On May 17, 1996, the Office of the Special Prosecutor moved for a reconsideration, insisting that Superintendents: namely, Jewel T. Canson, Romeo M. Acop and Panfilo M.
the cases should remain with the Sandiganbayan. This was opposed by petitioner and some of Lacson, and that trial has not yet begun in all these cases — in fact, no order of
the accused. arrest has been issued — this court has competence to take cognizance of these
cases.
While these motions for reconsideration were pending resolution, and even before the issue of
jurisdiction cropped up with the filing of the amended informations on March 1, 1996, House Bill To recapitulate, the net result of all the foregoing is that by the vote of 3 of 2,
No. 229910 and No. 109411 (sponsored by Representatives Edcel C. Lagman and Lagman and the court admitted the Amended Informations in these cases by the unanimous
Neptali M. Gonzales II, respectively), as well as Senate Bill No. 844 12 (sponsored by Senator vote of 4 with 1 neither concurring not dissenting, retained jurisdiction to try
Neptali Gonzales), were introduced in Congress, defining expanding the jurisdiction of the and decide the cases16 (Empahasis supplied)
Sandiganbayan. Specifically, the said bills sought, among others, to amend the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan by deleting the word "principal" from the phrase "principal accused" in Section 2 Petitioner now questions the constitutionality of Section 4 of R.A. No. 8249, including Section 7
(paragraphs a and c) of R.A. No. 7975. thereof which provides that the said law "shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which
trial has not begun as to the approval hereof." Petitioner argues that:
These bills were consolidated and later approved into law as R.A. No. 8249 13 by the President of
the Philippines on February 5, 1997. a) The questioned provisions of the statute were introduced by the authors
thereof in bad faith as it was made to precisely suit the situation in which
petitioner's cases were in at the Sandiganbayan by restoring jurisdiction thereof
to it, thereby violating his right to procedural due process and the equal

2
protection clause of the Constitution. Further, from the way the Sandiganbayan allege the commission by the accused therein of the crime charged within the meaning Section
has foot-dragged for nine (9) months the resolution of a pending incident 4 b of Republic Act No. 8249, so as to bring the said cases within the exclusive original jurisdiction
involving the transfer of the cases to the Regional Trial Court, the passage of the of the Sandiganbayan.
law may have been timed to overtake such resolution to render the issue
therein moot, and frustrate the exercise of petitioner's vested rights under the The parties, except for the Solicitor General who is representing the People of the Philippines,
old Sandiganbayan law (RA 7975) filed the required supplemental memorandum within the nonextendible reglementary period.

b) Retroactive application of the law is plan from the fact that it was again made The established rule is that every law has in its favor the presumption of constitutionality, and to
to suit the peculiar circumstances in which petitioner's cases were under, justify its nullification there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a
namely, that the trial had not yet commenced, as provided in Section 7, to doubtful and argumentative one. 20 The burden of proving the invalidity of the law lies with those
make certain that those cases will no longer be remanded to the Quezon City who challenge it. That burden, we regret to say, was not convincingly discharged in the present
Regional Trial Court, as the Sandiganbayan alone should try them, thus making case.
it an ex post factolegislation and a denial of the right of petitioner as an accused
in Criminal Case Nos. 23047-23057 to procedural due process. The creation of the Sandiganbayn was mandated in Section 5, Article XIII of the 1973
Constitution, which provides:
c) The title of the law is misleading in that it contains the aforesaid "innocuous"
provisions in Sections 4 and 7 which actually expands rather than defines the Sec. 5. The Batasang Pambansa shall create a special court, to be known as
old Sandiganbayan law (RA 7975), thereby violating the one-title one-subject Sandiganbayan, which shall have jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases
requirement for the passage of statutes under Section 26 (1), Article VI of the involving graft and corrupt practices and such other ofenses committed by
Constitution.17 public officers and employees including those in government-owned or
controlled corporations, in relation to their office as may be determined by law.
For their part, the intervenors, in their petition-in-intervention, add that "while Republic Act No.
8249 innocuously appears to have merely expanded the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the The said special court is retained in the new (1987) Constitution under the following provisions in
introduction of Section 4 and 7 in said statute impressed upon it the character of a class Article XI, Section 4:
legislation and an ex-post facto statute intended to apply specifically to the accused in the
Kuratong Baleleng case pending before the Sandiganbayan. 18 They further argued that if their
Sec. 4. The present anti-graft court known as the Sandiganbayan shall continue
case is tried before the Sandiganbayan their right to procedural due process would be violated as
to function and exercise its jurisdiction as now or hereafter may be provided by
they could no longer avail of the two-tiered appeal to the Sandiganbayan, which they acquired
law.
under R.A. 7975, before recourse to the Supreme Court.
Pursuant to the constitutional mandate, Presidential Decree No. 1486 21 created the
Both the Office of the Ombudsman and the Solicitor-General filed separate pleadings in support
Sandiganbayan. Thereafter, the following laws on the Sandiganbayan, in chronological order, were
of the constitutionality of the challenged provisions of the law in question and praying that both
enacted: P.D. No. 1606,22 Section 20 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 123, 23 P.D. No. 1860,24 P.D. No.
the petition and the petition-in-intervention be dismissed.
1861,25 R.A. No. 7975, 26 and R.A. No. 8249.27 Under the latest amendments introduced by Section
4 of R.A. No. 8249, the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction over the following cases:
This Court then issued a Resolution 19 requiring the parties to file simultaneously within a
nonextendible period of ten (10) days from notice thereof additional memoranda on the question
Sec 4. Section 4 of the same decree [P.D. No. 1606, as amended] is hereby
of whether the subject amended informations filed a Criminal Case Nos. 23047-23057 sufficiently
further amended to read as follows:

3
Sec. 4. Jurisdiction — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original (g) Presidents, directors or trustees or managers of
jurisdiction in all cases involving: government-owned or controlled corporations, state
universities or educational institutions or foundations;
a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II, (2) Members of Congress or officials thereof classified as-Grade "27" and up
Section 2, Titile VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
accused are officials occupying the following positions in the government,
whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of the (3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the
commission of the ofense: Constitution;

(1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director (4) Chairman and members of the Constitutional Commissions, without
and higher, otherwise classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution;
and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically
including: (5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" or higher under
the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.
(a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the
sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers, b. Other offenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes
assessors, engineers, and other provincial department heads; committed by the public officials and employees mentioned in Subsection a of
this section in relation to their office.
(b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang
panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other c. Civil and criminal cases filed pursuant to and connection with Executive
city department heads; Orders Nos. 1,2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986.

(c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of In cases where none of the accused are occupying positions corresponding to
consul and higher; salary Grade "27" or higher, as prescribed in the said Republic Act 6758, or
military and PNP officers mentioned above, exclusive original jurisdiction
(d) Philippine Army and air force colonels, naval captains, and thereof shall be vested in the proper regional trial court, metropolitan trial
all officers of higher rank; court, municipal trial court, and municipal circuit trial court, as the case may be,
pursuant to their jurisdictions as privided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as
(e) Officers of the Philippines National Police while occupying amended.
the position of provincial director and those holding the rank
of senior superintendent or higher. The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction over final
judgments, resolutions or orders of regional trial courts whether in the exercise
(f) City of provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and of their own original jurisdiction or of their appellate jurisdiction as herein
officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and provided.
special prosecutor;

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The Sandiganbayan shall have exclusive original jurisdiction over petitions of the Sec 4. Jurisdiction — The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive original
issuance of the writs of mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, habeas corpus, jurisdiction in all cases involving:
injunctions, and other ancillary writs and processes in aid of its appellate
jurisdiction and over petitions of similar nature, including quo warranto, arising a. Violations of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended, otherwise known as the
or that may arise in cases filed or which may be filed under Executive Order Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act No. 1379, and Chapter II,
Nos. 1, 2, 14 and 14-A, issued in 1986: Provided, That the jurisdiction over these Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, where one or more of the
petitions shall not be exclusive of the Supreme Court. pricipal accused are afficials occupying the following positions in the
government, whether in a permanent, acting or interim capacity, at the time of
The procedure prescribed in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, as well as the the commission of the ofense:
implementing rules that the Supreme Court has promulgated and may
hereafter promulgate, relative to appeals/petitions for review to the Court of (1) Officials of the executive branch occupying the positions of regional director
Appeals, shall apply to appeals and petitions for review filed with the and higher, otherwise classified as Grade "27" and higher, of the Compensation
Sandiganbayan. In all cases elevated to the Sandiganbayan and from the and Position Classification Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6758), specifically
Sandiganbayan to the Supreme Court, the Office of the Ombudsman, through including:
its special prosecutor, shall represent the People of the Philippines, except in
cases filed pursuant to Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 4-A, issued in 1986. (a) Provincial governors, vice-governors, members of the
sangguniang panlalawigan, and provincial treasurers,
In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or assessors, engineer, and other provincial department heads;
accessories with the public officers or employee, including those employed in
government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with (b) City mayors, vice-mayors, members of the sangguniang
said public officers and employees in the proper courts which shall exercise panlungsod, city treasurers, assessors, engineers, and other
exclusive jurisdiction over them. city department heads;

xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied) (c) Officials of the diplomatic service occupying the position of
consul and higher;
Sec. 7 of R.A. No. 8249 states:
(d) Philippine Army and air force colonels, naval captains, and
Sec. 7. Transitory provision — This act shall apply to all cases pending in any all officers of higher rank;
court over which trial has not begun as of the approval hereof. (Emphasis
supplied) (e) PNP chief superintendent and PNP officers of higher rank;

The Sandiganbayan law prior to R.A. 8249 was R.A. 7975. Section 2 of R.A. 7975 provides: (f) City and provincial prosecutors and their assistants, and
officials and prosecutors in the Office of the Ombudsman and
Sec. 2. Section 4 of the same decree [Presidential Decree No. 1606, as special prosecutor;
amended) is hereby further amended to read as follows:

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(g) Presidents, directors or trustees, or managers of In case private individuals are charged as co-principals, accomplices or
government-owned or controlled corporations, state accessories with the public officers or employees, including those employed in
universities or educational institutions or foundations; government-owned or controlled corporations, they shall be tried jointly with
said public officers and employees in the proper courts which shall have
(2) Members of Congress or officials thereof classified as Grade "27" and up exclusive jurisdiction over them.
under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989;
xxx xxx xxx (Emphasis supplied)
(3) Members of the judiciary without prejudice to the provisions of the
Constitution; Sec. 7 of R.A. No. 7975 reads:

(4) Chairman and members of the Constitutional Commissions, without Sec. 7. Upon the efectivity of this Act, all criminal cases in which trial has not
prejudice to the provisions of the Constitution; begun in the Sandiganbayan shall be referred to the proper courts.

(5) All other national and local officials classified as Grade "27" or higher under Under paragraphs a and c, Section 4 of R.A. 8249, the word "principal" before the word "accused"
the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989. appearing in the above-quoted Section 2 (paragraphs a and c) of R.A. 7975, was deleted. It is due
to this deletion of the word "principal" that the parties herein are at loggerheads over the
b. Other ofenses or felonies committed by the public officials and employees jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Petitioner and intervenors, relying on R.A. 7975, argue that the
mentioned in Subsection a of this section in relation to their office. Regional Trial Court, not the Sandiganbayan, has jurisdiction over the subject criminal cases since
none of the principal accused under the amended information has the rank of
c. Civil and criminal cases files pursuant to and in connection with Executive Superintendent28 or higher. On the other hand, the Office of the Ombudsman, through the
Order Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 4-A. Special Prosecutor who is tasked to represent the People before the Supreme Court except in
certain cases,29 contends that the Sandiganbayan has jurisdiction pursuant to R.A. 8249.
In cases where none of the principal accused are occupying positions
corresponding to salary Grade "27" or higher, as presribed in the said Republic A perusal of the aforequoted Section 4 of R.A. 8249 reveals that to fall under the exclusive
Act 6758, or PNP officers occupying the rank of superintendent or higher, or original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, the following requisites must concur: (1) the ofense
their equivalent, exclusive jurisdiction thereof shall be vested in the proper committed is a violation of (a) R.A. 3019, as amended (the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act),
regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, and municipal (b) R.A. 1379 (the law on ill-gotten wealth), (c) Chapter II, Section 2, Title VII, Book II of the
circuit trial court, as the case may be, pursuant to their respective jurisdictions Revised Penal Code (the law on bribery), 30 (d) Executive Order Nos. 1, 2, 14, and 14-A, issued in
as provided in Batas Pambansa Blg. 129. 1986 (sequestration cases),31 or (e) other ofenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with
other crimes; (2) the ofender comitting the ofenses in items (a), (b), (c) and (e) is a public official
or employee32holding any of the positions enumerated in paragraph a of Section 4; and (3) the
The Sandiganbayan shall exercise exclusive appellate jurisdiction on appelas
ofense committed is in relation to the office.
from the final judgment, resolutions or orders of regular court where all the
accused are occupying positions lower than grade "27," or not otherwise
covered by the preceding enumeration. Considering that herein petitioner and intervenors are being charged with murder which is a
felony punishable under Title VIII of the Revised Penal Code, the governing on the jurisdictional
ofense is not paragraph a but paragraph b, Section 4 of R.A. 8249. This paragraph b pertains to
xxx xxx xxx
"other ofenses or felonies whether simple or complexed with other crimes committed by the

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public officials and employees mentioned in subsection a of (Section 4, R.A. 8249) in relation to whose cases could have been afected by the amendments of the Sandiganbayan jurisdiction
their office. "The phrase" other ofenses or felonies" is too broad as to include the crime of under R.A. 8249, as against those cases where trial had already started as of the approval of the
murder, provided it was committed in relation to the accused's officials functions. Thus, under law, rests on substantial distinction that makes real diferences. 36 In the first instance, evidence
said paragraph b, what determines the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction is the official position or rank against them were not yet presented, whereas in the latter the parties had already submitted
of the ofender — that is, whether he is one of those public officers or employees enumerated in their respective proofs, examined witnesses and presented documents. Since it is within the
paragraph a of Section 4. The ofenses mentioned in pargraphs a, b and c of the same Section 4 power of Congress to define the jurisdiction of courts subject to the constitutional limitations, 37 it
do not make any reference to the criminal participation of the accused public officer as to can be reasonably anticipated that an alteration of that jurisdiction would necessarily afect
whether he is charged as a principal, accomplice or accessory. In enacting R.A. 8249, the Congress pending cases, which is why it has to privide for a remedy in the form of a transitory provision.
simply restored the original provisions of P.D. 1606 which does not mention the criminal Thus, petitioner and intervenors cannot now claim that Sections 4 and 7 placed them under a
participation of the public officer as a requisite to determine the jurisdiction of the diferent category from those similarly situated as them. Precisely, paragraph a of Section 4
Sandiganbayan. provides that it shall apply to "all case involving" certain public officials and, under the transitory
provision in Section 7, to "all cases pending in any court." Contrary to petitioner and intervenors'
Petitioner and entervenors' posture that Section 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate their right to equal argument, the law is not particularly directed only to the Kuratong Baleleng cases. The transitory
protection of the law33 because its enactment was particularly directed only to the Kuratong provision does not only cover cases which are in the Sandiganbayan but also in "any court." It just
Baleleng cases in the Sandiganbayan, is a contention too shallow to deserve merit. No concrete happened that Kuratong Baleleng cases are one of those afected by the law. Moreover, those
evidence and convincing argument were presented to warrant a declaration of an act of the cases where trial had already begun are not afected by the transitory provision under Section 7
entire Congress and signed into law by the highest officer of the co-equal executive department of the new law (R.A. 8249).
as unconstitutional. Every classification made by law is presumed reasonable. Thus, the party
who challenges the law must present proof of arbitrariness. 34 In their futile attempt to have said sections nullified, heavy reliance is premised on what is
perceived as bad faith on the part of a Senator and two Justices of the Sandiganbaya 38 for their
It is an established precept in constitutional law that the guaranty of the equal protection of the participation in the passage of the said provisions. In particular, it is stressed that the Senator had
laws is not violated by a legislation based on reasonable classification. The classification is expressed strong sentiments against those officials involved in the Kuratong Baleleng cases during
reasonable and not arbitrary when there is concurrence of four elements, namely: the hearings conducted on the matter by the committee headed by the Senator. Petitioner
further contends that the legislature is biased against him as he claims to have been selected
(1) it must rest on substantial distinction; from among the 67 million other Filipinos as the object of the deletion of the word "principal" in
paragraph a, Section 4 of P.D. 1606, as amended, and of the transitory provision of R.A.
8249.39 R.A 8249, while still a bill, was acted, deliberated, considered by 23 other Senators and by
(2) it must be germane to the purpose of the law;
about 250 Representatives, and was separately approved by the Senate and House of
Representatives and, finally, by the President of the Philippines.
(3) must not be limited to existing conditions only, and
On the perceived bias that the Sandiganbayan Justices allegedly had against petitioner during the
(4) must apply equaly to all members of the same class, 35 committe hearings, the same would not constitute sufficient justification to nullify an otherwise
valid law. Their presence and participation in the legislative hearings was deemed necessary by
all of which are present in this case. Congress since the matter before the committee involves the graft court of which one is the head
of the Sandiganbayan and the other a member thereof. The Congress, in its plenary legislative
The challengers of Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 failed to rebut the presumption of powers, is particularly empowered by the Constitution to invite persons to appear before it
constitutionality and reasonables of the questioned provisions. The classification between those whenever it decides to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. 40
pending cases involving the concerned public officials whose trial has not yet commence and

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Petitioner and entervenors further further argued that the retroactive application of R.A. 8249 to protection of a former conviction or acquittal, or a
the Kuratong Baleleng cases constitutes an ex post facto law41 for they are deprived of their right proclamation of a amnesty.45
to procedural due process as they can no longer avail of the two-tiered appeal which they had
allegedly acquired under R.A. 7975. Ex post facto law, generally, prohibits retrospectivity of penal laws. 46 R.A. 8249 is not penal law. It
is a substantive law on jurisdiction which is not penal in character. Penal laws are those acts of the
Again, this contention is erroneous. There is nothing ex post facto in R.A. 8249. In Calder v. Legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations; 47 or those that
Bull,42 an ex post factolaw is one — define crimes, treat of their nature, and provide dor their punishment. 48 R.A 7975, which
amended P.D. 1606 as regards the Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction, its mode of appeal and other
(a) which makes an act done criminal before the passing of procedural matters, has been declared by the Court as not a penal law, but clearly a procedural
the law and which was innocent when committed, and statute, i.e. one which prescribes rules of procedure by which courts applying laws of all kinds can
punishes such action; or properly administer justice.49 Not being a penal law, the retroactive application of R.A. 8249
cannot be challenged as unconstitutional.
(b) which aggravates a crime or makes it greater than when it
was committed; or Petitioner's and entervenors' contention that their right to a two-tiered appeal which they
acquired under R.A. 7975 has been diluted by the enactment of R.A. 8249, is incorrect. The same
(c) which changes the punishment and inflicts a greater contention has already been rejected by the court several times 50 considering that the right to
punishment than the law annexed to the crime when it was appeal is not a natural right but statutory in nature that can be regulated by law. The mode of
committed. procedure provided for in the statutory right of appeal is not included in the prohibition
against ex post facto laws.51 R.A. 8249 pertains only to matters of procedure, and being merely an
amendatory statute it does not partake the nature of an ex post facto law. It does not mete out a
(d) which alters the legal rules of evidence and recieves less or
penalty and, therefore, does not come within the prohibition. 52 Moreover, the law did not alter
diferent testimony that the law required at the time of the
the rules of evidence or the mode of trial. 53 It has been ruled that adjective statutes may be made
commission of the ofense on order to convict the
applicable to actions pending and unresolved at the time of their passage. 54
defendant.43

In any case; R.A. 8249 has preserved the accused's right to appeal to the Supreme Court to
(e) Every law which, in relation to the ofense or its
review questions of law.55 On the removal of the intermediate review of facts, the Supreme Court
consequences, alters the situation of a person to his
still has the power of review to determine if he presumption of innocence has been convincing
disadvantage.44
overcome.56
This Court added two more to the list, namely:
Another point. The challenged law does not violate the one-title-one-subject provision of the
Constitution. Much emphasis is placed on the wording in the title of the law that it "defines" the
(f) that which assumes to regulate civil rights and remedies Sandiganbayan jurisdiction when what it allegedly does is to "expand" its jurisdiction. The
only but in efect imposes a penalty or deprivation of a right expantion in the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, if it can be considered as such, does not have
which when done was lawful; to be expressly stated in the title of the law because such is the necessary consequence of the
amendments. The requirement that every bill must only have one subject expressed in the
(g) deprives a person accussed of crime of some lawful title57is satisfied if the title is comprehensive enough, as in this case, to include subjects related to
protection to which he has become entitled, such as the the general purpose which the statute seeks to achieve. 58 Such rule is liberally interpreted and

8
should be given a practical rather than a technical construction. There is here sufficient while he was in the performance of his official functions. 65 This intimate relation between the
compliance with such requirement, since the title of R.A. 8249 expresses the general subject ofense charged and the discharge of official duties "must be alleged in the informations." 66
(involving the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and the amendment of P.D. 1606, as amended)
and all the provisions of the law are germane to that general subject. 59 The Congress, in As to how the ofense charged be stated in the informations, Section 9, Rule 110 of the Revised
employing the word "define" in the title of the law, acted within its power since Section 2, Article Rules of Court mandates:
VIII of the Constitution itself empowers the legislative body to "define, prescribe, and apportion
the jurisdiction of various courts.60 Sec. 9 Couse of accusation — The acts or omissions complied of as constituting
the ofense must be stated in ordinary and concise language without
There being no unconstitutional infirmity in both the subject amendatory provision of Section 4 repetition not necessarily in the terms of the statute defining the offense, but in
and the retroactive procedural application of the law as provided in Section 7 of R.A. No. 8249, such from as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know
we shall now determine whether under the allegations in the Informations, it is the what offense is intended to be charged, and enable the court to pronounce
Sandiganbayan or Regional Trial Court which has jurisdictions over the multiple murder case proper judgment. (Emphasis supplied)
against herein petitioner and entervenors.
As early as 1954 we pronounced that "the factor that characterizes the charge is the actual recital
The jurisdiction of a court is defined by the Constitution or statute. The elements of that of the facts."67The real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the caption or
definition must appear in the complaint or information so as to ascertain which court has preamble of the informations nor from the specification of the provision of law alleged to have
jurisdiction over a case. Hence the elementary rule that the jurisdiction of a court is determined been violated, they being conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of facts in the complaint or
by the allegations in the complaint or informations, 61 and not by the evidence presented by the information.68
parties at the trial.62
The noble object or written accusations cannot be overemphasized. This was explained in U.S. v.
As stated earlier, the multiple murder charge against petitioner and intervenors falls under Karelsen: 69
Section 4 [paragraph b] of R.A. 8249. Section 4 requires that the ofense charged must be
committed by the ofender in relation to his office in order for the Sandiganbayan to have The object of this written accusations was — First; To furnish the accused with
jurisdiction over it.63 This jurisdictional requirement is in accordance with Section 5, Article XIII of such a descretion of the charge against him as will enable him to make his
the 1973 Constitution which mandated that the Sandiganbayan shall have jurisdiction over defense and second to avail himself of his conviction or acquittal for protection
criminal cases committed by the public officers and employees, including those in goverment- against a further prosecution for the same cause and third, to inform the court
owned or controlled corporations, "in relation to their office as may be determined by law." This of the facts alleged so that it may decide whether they are sufficient in law to
constitutional mandate was reiterated in the new (1987) Constitution when it declared in Section support a conviction if one should be had. In order that the requirement may
4 thereof that the Sandiganbayan shall continue to function and exercise its jurisdiction as now or be satisfied, facts must be stated, not conclusions of law. Every crime is made
hereafter may be provided by law. up of certain acts and intent these must be set forth in the complaint with
reasonable particularly of time, place, names (plaintif and defendant) and
The remaining question to be resolved then is whether the ofense of multiple murder was circumstances. In short, the complaint must contain a specific
committed in relation to the office of the accussed PNP officers. allegation of every fact and circumstance necessary to constitute the crime
charged. (Emphasis supplied)
In People vs. Montejo,64 we held that an ofense is said to have been committed in relation to the
office if it (the ofense) is "intimately connected" with the office of the ofender and perpetrated It is essential, therefore, that the accused be informed of the facts that are imputed to him as "he
is presumed to have no indefendent knowledge of the facts that constitute the ofense." 70

9
Applying these legal principles and doctrines to the present case, we find the amended upon the latter mortal wounds which caused his instantaneous death to the
informations for murder against herein petitioner and intervenors wanting of specific factual damage and prejudice of the heirs of the said victim.
averments to show the intimate relation/connection between the ofense charged and the
discharge of official function of the ofenders. That accused CHIEF SUPT. JEWEL F. CANSON, CHIEF SUPT. ROMOE M. ACOP,
CHIEF SUPT. PANFILO M. LACSON, SENIOR SUPT. FRANCISCO G. ZUBIAM JR.,
In the present case, one of the eleven (11) amended informations 71 for murder reads: SUPT. ALMARIO A. HILARIO, CHIEF INSP. CESAR O. MANCAO II, CHIEF INSP. GIL L.
MENESES, SENIOR INSP. GLENN DUMLAO, SENIOR INSP. ROLANDO ANDUYAN,
AMENDED INFORMATIONS INSP. CEASAR TANNAGAN, SPO3 WILLY NUAS, SPO3 CICERO S. BACOLOD, PO2
ALEJANDRO G. LIWANAG committing the acts in relation to office as officers and
The undersigned Special Prosecution Officer III. Office of the Ombudsman members of the Philippine National Police are charged herein as accessories
hereby accuses CHIEF INSP. MICHAEL RAY AQUINO, CHIEF INSP. ERWIN T. after-the-fact for concealing the crime herein above alleged by among others
VILLACORTE, SENIOR INSP. JOSELITO T. ESQUIVEL, INSP. RICARDO G. DANDAN, falsely representing that there where no arrest made during
SPO4 VICENTE P. ARNADO, SPO4 ROBERTO F. LANGCAUON, SPO2 VIRGILIO V. the read conducted by the accused herein at Superville Subdivision, Paranaque,
PARAGAS, SPO2 ROLANDO R. JIMENEZ, SPO1 WILFREDO C. CUARTERO, SPO1 Metro Manila on or about the early dawn of May 18, 1995.
ROBERTO O. AGBALOG, SPO1 OSMUNDO B. CARINO, CHIEF SUPT. JEWEL F.
CANSON, CHIEF SUPT. ROMEO M. ACOP, CHIEF SUPT. PANFILO M. LACSON, CONTRARY LAW.
SENIOR SUPT. FRANCISCO G. ZUBIA JR., SUPT. ALMARIO A. HILARIO, CHIEF INSP.
CESAR O. MANCAO III, CHIEF INSP. GIL L. MENESES, SENIOR INSP. GLENN While the above-quoted information states that the above-named principal accused committed
DUMLAO, SENIOR INSP. ROLANDO ANDUYAN, INSP. CEASAR TANNAGAN, SPO3 the crime of murder "in relation to thier public office, there is, however, no specific allegation of
WILLY NUAS, SPO3 CICERO S. BACOLOD, SPO2 NORBERTO LASAGA, PO2 facts that the shooting of the victim by the said principal accused was intimately related to the
LEONARDO GLORIA, and PO2 ALEJANDRO G. LIWANAG of the crime of Murder discharge of their official duties as police officers. Likewise, the amended information does not
as defined and penalize under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code committed indicate that the said accused arrested and investigated the victim and then killed the latter while
as follows in their custody.

That on or about May 18, 1995 in Mariano Marcos Avenue, Quezon City Even the allegations concerning the criminal participation of herein petitioner and intevenors as
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of his Honorable Court, the accused among the accessories after-the-facts, the amended information is vague on this. It is alleged
CHIEF INSP. MICHAEL RAY AQUINO, CHIEF INSP. ERWIN T. VILLACORTE, SENIOR therein that the said accessories concelead "the crime herein-above alleged by, among others,
INSP. JOSELITO T. ESQUIVEL, INSP. RICARDO G. DANDAN, SPO4 VICENTE falsely representing that there were no arrests made during the raid conducted by the accused
ARNADO, SPO4 ROBERTO F. LANGCAUON, SPO2 VIRGILIO V. PARAGAS, SPO2 herein at Superville Subdivision, Paranaque Metro Manila, on or about the early dawn of May 18,
ROLANDO R. JIMENEZ, SPO1 WILFREDO C. CUARTERO, SPO1 ROBERTO O. 1995." The sudden mention of the "arrests made during the raid conducted by the accused"
AGBALOG, and SPO1 OSMUNDO B. CARINO, all taking advantage of their public surprises the reader. There is no indication in the amended information that the victim was one
and official positions as officers and members of the Philippine National Police of those arrested by the accused during the "raid." Worse, the raid and arrests were allegedly
and committing the acts herein alleged in relation to their public office, conducted "at Superville Subdivision, Paranaque, Metro Manila" but, as alleged in the
conspiring with intent to kill and using firearms with treachery evident immediately preceding paragraph of the amended information, the shooting of the victim by the
premeditation and taking advantage of their superior strenghts did then and principal accused occurred in Mariano Marcos Avenue, Quezon City." How the raid, arrests and
there willfully unlawfully and feloniously shoot JOEL AMORA, thereby inflicting shooting happened in the two places far away from each other is puzzling. Again, while there is
the allegation in the amended information that the said accessories committed the ofense "in

10
relation to office as officers and members of the (PNP)," we, however, do not see the intimate we held that the ofense charged was committed in relation to the office of the
connection between the ofense charged and the accused's official functions, which, as earlier accused because it was perpetreated while they were in the performance,
discussed, is an essential element in determining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. though improper or irregular of their official functions and would not have been
committed had they not held their office, besides, the accused had no personal
The stringent requirement that the charge be set forth with such particularly as will reasonably motive in committing the crime thus, there was an intimate connection
indicate the exact ofense which the accused is alleged to have committed in relation to his office between the ofense and the office of the accused.
was, sad to say, not satisfied. We believe that the mere allegation in the amended information
that the ofense was committed by the accused public officer in relation to his office is not Unlike in Montejo the informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 15562 and 15563 in
sufficient. That phrase is merely a conclusion between of law, not a factual avernment that would the court below do not indicate that the accused arrested and investigated the
show the close intimacy between the ofense charged and the discharge of the accused's official victims and then killed the latter in the course of the investigation. The
duties. informations merely allege that the accused for the purpose of extracting or
extortin the sum of P353,000.00 abducted, kidnapped and detained the two
In People vs. Magallanes, 72 where the jurisdiction between the Regional Trial Court and the victims, and failing in their common purpose they shot; and killed the said
Sandiganbayan was at issue, we ruled: victims. For the purpose of determining jurisdiction, it is these allegations that
shall control, and not the evidence presented by the prosecution at the trial.
It is an elementary rule that jurisdiction is determined by the allegations in the
complaint or information and not by the result of evidence after trial. In the aforecited case of People vs. Montejo, it is noteworthy that the phrase committed in
relation to public office "does not appear in the information, which only signifies that the said
In (People vs) Montejo (108 Phil 613 (1960), where the amended information phrase is not what determines the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. What is controlling is the
alleged specific factual allegations in the information that would indicate the close intimacy between the
discharge of the accused's official duties and the commission of the ofense charged, in order to
qualify the crime as having been committed in relation to public office.
Leroy S. Brown City Mayor of Basilan City, as such, has
organized groups of police patrol and civilian commandoes
consisting of regular policeman and . . . special policemen Consequently, for failure to show in the amended informations that the charge of murder was
appointed and provided by him with pistols and higher power intimately connected with the discharge of official functions of the accused PNP officers, the
guns and then established a camp . . . at Tipo-tipo which is ofense charged in the subject criminal cases is plain murder and, therefore, within the exclusive
under his command . . . supervision and control where his co- original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, 73 not the Sandiganbayan.
defendants were stationed entertained criminal complaints
and conducted the corresponding investigations as well as WHEREFORE, the constitutionality of Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 is hereby sustained. The
assumed the authority to arrest and detain person without Addendum to the March 5, 1997 Resolution of the Sandiganbayan is REVERSED. The
due process of law and without bringing them to the proper Sandiganbayan is hereby directed to transfer Criminal Cases Nos. 23047 to 23057 (for multiple
court, and that in line with this set-up established by said murder) to the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City which has exclusive original jurisdiction over
Mayor of Basilan City as such, and acting upon his orders his the said cases.1âwphi1.nêt
co-defendants arrested and maltreated Awalin Tebag who
denied in consequence thereof. SO ORDERED.

Case Digest: LACSON VS. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

11
301 SCRA 298; G.R. NO. 12809620 JAN 1999] (2) Whether or not said statute may be considered as an ex-post facto statute.
LACSON VS. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
(3) Whether or not the multiple murder of the alleged members of the Kuratong Baleleng was
Facts: committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers which is essential to the
Eleven persons believed to be members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang, an organized crime determination whether the case falls within the Sandiganbayan’s or Regional Trial Court’s
syndicate involved in bank robberies, were slain by elements of the Anti-Bank Robbery jurisdiction.
andIntelligence Task Group (ABRITG). Among those included in the ABRITG were petitioners and
petitioner-intervenors. RULING:
Petitioner and intervenors’ posture that Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate their right to equal
Acting on a media expose of SPO2 Eduardo delos Reyes, a member of the Criminal Investigation protection of the law is too shallow to deserve merit. No concrete evidence and convincing
Command, that what actually transpired was a summary execution and not a shoot-out between argument were presented to warrant such a declaration. Every classification made by the law is
the Kuratong Baleleng gang members and the ABRITG, Ombudsman Aniano Desiertoformed a presumed reasonable and the party who challenges the law must present proof of arbitrariness.
panel of investigators to investigate the said incident. Said panel found the incident as a The classification is reasonable and not arbitrary when the following concur: (1) it must rest on
legitimate police operation. However, a review board modified the panel’s finding and substantial distinction; (2) it must be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) must not be limited
recommended the indictment for multiple murder against twenty-six respondents including to existing conditions only, and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class; all of
herein petitioner, charged as principal, and herein petitioner-intervenors, charged as accessories. which are present in this case.
After a reinvestigation, the Ombudsman filed amended informations before the Sandiganbayan,
where petitioner was charged only as an accessory. Paragraph a of Section 4 provides that it shall apply “to all cases involving” certain public officials
and under the transitory provision in Section 7, to “all cases pending in any court.” Contrary to
The accused filed separate motions questioning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, asserting petitioner and intervenors’ argument, the law is not particularly directed only to the Kuratong
that under the amended informations, the cases fall within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Baleleng cases. The transitory provision does not only cover cases which are in the
Court pursuant to Section 2 of R.A. 7975. They contend that the said law limited the jurisdiction Sandiganbayan but also in “any court.”
of the Sandiganbayan to cases where one or ore of the “principal accused” are government
officals with Salary Grade 27 or higher, or PNP officials with rank of Chief Superintendent or There is nothing ex post facto in R.A. 8249. Ex post facto law, generally, provides retroactive efect
higher. Thus, they did not qualify under said requisites. However, pending resolution of their of penal laws. R.A. 8249 is not apenal law. It is a substantive law on jurisdiction which is not penal
motions, R.A. 8249 was approved amending the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan by deleting the in character. Penal laws are those acts of the Legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish
word “principal” from the phrase “principal accused” in Section 2 of R.A. 7975. penalties for their violations or those that define crimes and provide for their punishment. R.A.
7975, as regards the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction, its mode of appeal and other procedural
Petitioner questions the constitutionality of Section 4 of R.A. 8249, including Section 7 which matters, has been declared by the Court as not a penal law, but clearly a procedural statute, one
provides that the said law shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which trial has not which prescribes rules of procedure by which courts applying laws of all kinds can properly
begun as of the approval hereof. administer justice. Not being a penal law, the retroactive application of R.A. 8249 cannot be
challenged as unconstitutional.
Issues:
In People vs. Montejo, it was held that an ofense is said to have been committed in relation to
(1) Whether or not Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate the petitioners’ right to due process and the office if it is intimately connected with the office of the ofender and perpetrated while he
the equal protection clause of the Constitution as the provisions seemed to have been introduced was in the performance of his official functions. Such intimate relation must be alleged in the
for the Sandiganbayan to continue to acquire jurisdiction over the Kuratong Baleleng case. information which is essential in determining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. However,

12
upon examination of the amended information, there was no specific allegation of facts that the On 08 January 1988, Presiding Judge Eutropio Migrino rendered a decision acquitting the two
shooting of the victim by the said principal accused was intimately related to the discharge of accused.
their official duties as police officers. Likewise, the amended information does not indicate that
the said accused arrested and investigated the victim and then killed the latter while in their On 03 August 1988, Minucher filed Civil Case No. 88-45691 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
custody. The stringent requirement that the charge set forth with such particularity as will Branch 19, of Manila for damages on account of what he claimed to have been trumped-up
reasonably indicate the exact ofense which the accused is alleged to have committed in relation charges of drug trafficking made by Arthur Scalzo. The Manila RTC detailed what it had found to
to his office was not established. be the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.

Consequently, for failure to show in the amended informations that the charge of murder was "The testimony of the plaintif disclosed that he is an Iranian national. He came to the Philippines
intimately connected with the discharge of official functions of the accused PNP officers, the to study in the University of the Philippines in 1974. In 1976, under the regime of the Shah of
ofense charged in the subject criminal cases is plain murder and, therefore, within the exclusive Iran, he was appointed Labor Attaché for the Iranian Embassies in Tokyo, Japan and Manila,
original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and not the Sandiganbayan. Philippines. When the Shah of Iran was deposed by Ayatollah Khomeini, plaintif became a
refugee of the United Nations and continued to stay in the Philippines. He headed the Iranian
National Resistance Movement in the Philippines.

"He came to know the defendant on May 13, 1986, when the latter was brought to his house and
introduced to him by a certain Jose Iñigo, an informer of the Intelligence Unit of the military. Jose
Iñigo, on the other hand, was met by plaintif at the office of Atty. Crisanto Saruca, a lawyer for
several Iranians whom plaintif assisted as head of the anti-Khomeini movement in the
G.R. No. 142396 February 11, 2003 Philippines.

KHOSROW MINUCHER, petitioner, "During his first meeting with the defendant on May 13, 1986, upon the introduction of Jose
vs. Iñigo, the defendant expressed his interest in buying caviar. As a matter of fact, he bought two
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ARTHUR SCALZO, respondents. kilos of caviar from plaintif and paid P10,000.00 for it. Selling caviar, aside from that of Persian
carpets, pistachio nuts and other Iranian products was his business after the Khomeini
DECISION government cut his pension of over $3,000.00 per month. During their introduction in that
meeting, the defendant gave the plaintif his calling card, which showed that he is working at the
VITUG, J.: US Embassy in the Philippines, as a special agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration,
Department of Justice, of the United States, and gave his address as US Embassy, Manila. At the
Sometime in May 1986, an Information for violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, back of the card appears a telephone number in defendant’s own handwriting, the number of
otherwise also known as the "Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972," was filed against petitioner Khosrow which he can also be contacted.
Minucher and one Abbas Torabian with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 151, of Pasig City. The
criminal charge followed a "buy-bust operation" conducted by the Philippine police narcotic "It was also during this first meeting that plaintif expressed his desire to obtain a US Visa for his
agents in the house of Minucher, an Iranian national, where a quantity of heroin, a prohibited wife and the wife of a countryman named Abbas Torabian. The defendant told him that he [could]
drug, was said to have been seized. The narcotic agents were accompanied by private respondent help plaintif for a fee of $2,000.00 per visa. Their conversation, however, was more concentrated
Arthur Scalzo who would, in due time, become one of the principal witnesses for the prosecution. on politics, carpets and caviar. Thereafter, the defendant promised to see plaintif again.

13
"On May 19, 1986, the defendant called the plaintif and invited the latter for dinner at Mario's and a pair of earrings worth $10,000.00. He also discovered missing upon his release his 8 pieces
Restaurant at Makati. He wanted to buy 200 grams of caviar. Plaintif brought the merchandize hand-made Persian carpets, valued at $65,000.00, a painting he bought for P30,000.00 together
but for the reason that the defendant was not yet there, he requested the restaurant people to x with his TV and betamax sets. He claimed that when he was handcufed, the defendant took his
x x place the same in the refrigerator. Defendant, however, came and plaintif gave him the caviar keys from his wallet. There was, therefore, nothing left in his house.
for which he was paid. Then their conversation was again focused on politics and business.
"That his arrest as a heroin trafficker x x x had been well publicized throughout the world, in
"On May 26, 1986, defendant visited plaintif again at the latter's residence for 18 years at various newspapers, particularly in Australia, America, Central Asia and in the Philippines. He was
Kapitolyo, Pasig. The defendant wanted to buy a pair of carpets which plaintif valued at identified in the papers as an international drug trafficker. x x x
$27,900.00. After some haggling, they agreed at $24,000.00. For the reason that defendant did
not yet have the money, they agreed that defendant would come back the next day. The following In fact, the arrest of defendant and Torabian was likewise on television, not only in the
day, at 1:00 p.m., he came back with his $24,000.00, which he gave to the plaintif, and the latter, Philippines, but also in America and in Germany. His friends in said places informed him that they
in turn, gave him the pair of carpets.1awphi1.nét saw him on TV with said news.

"At about 3:00 in the afternoon of May 27, 1986, the defendant came back again to plaintif's "After the arrest made on plaintif and Torabian, they were brought to Camp Crame handcufed
house and directly proceeded to the latter's bedroom, where the latter and his countryman, together, where they were detained for three days without food and water." 1
Abbas Torabian, were playing chess. Plaintif opened his safe in the bedroom and obtained
$2,000.00 from it, gave it to the defendant for the latter's fee in obtaining a visa for plaintif's During the trial, the law firm of Luna, Sison and Manas, filed a special appearance for Scalzo and
wife. The defendant told him that he would be leaving the Philippines very soon and requested moved for extension of time to file an answer pending a supposed advice from the United States
him to come out of the house for a while so that he can introduce him to his cousin waiting in a Department of State and Department of Justice on the defenses to be raised. The trial court
cab. Without much ado, and without putting on his shirt as he was only in his pajama pants, he granted the motion. On 27 October 1988, Scalzo filed another special appearance to quash the
followed the defendant where he saw a parked cab opposite the street. To his complete surprise, summons on the ground that he, not being a resident of the Philippines and the action being one
an American jumped out of the cab with a drawn high-powered gun. He was in the company of in personam, was beyond the processes of the court. The motion was denied by the court, in its
about 30 to 40 Filipino soldiers with 6 Americans, all armed. He was handcufed and after about order of 13 December 1988, holding that the filing by Scalzo of a motion for extension of time to
20 minutes in the street, he was brought inside the house by the defendant. He was made to sit file an answer to the complaint was a voluntary appearance equivalent to service of summons
down while in handcufs while the defendant was inside his bedroom. The defendant came out of which could likewise be construed a waiver of the requirement of formal notice. Scalzo filed a
the bedroom and out from defendant's attaché case, he took something and placed it on the motion for reconsideration of the court order, contending that a motion for an extension of time
table in front of the plaintif. They also took plaintif's wife who was at that time at the boutique to file an answer was not a voluntary appearance equivalent to service of summons since it did
near his house and likewise arrested Torabian, who was playing chess with him in the bedroom not seek an affirmative relief. Scalzo argued that in cases involving the United States government,
and both were handcufed together. Plaintif was not told why he was being handcufed and why as well as its agencies and officials, a motion for extension was peculiarly unavoidable due to the
the privacy of his house, especially his bedroom was invaded by defendant. He was not allowed need (1) for both the Department of State and the Department of Justice to agree on the
to use the telephone. In fact, his telephone was unplugged. He asked for any warrant, but the defenses to be raised and (2) to refer the case to a Philippine lawyer who would be expected to
defendant told him to `shut up.’ He was nevertheless told that he would be able to call for his first review the case. The court a quo denied the motion for reconsideration in its order of 15
lawyer who can defend him. October 1989.

"The plaintif took note of the fact that when the defendant invited him to come out to meet his Scalzo filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals, there docketed CA-G.R. No. 17023,
cousin, his safe was opened where he kept the $24,000.00 the defendant paid for the carpets and assailing the denial. In a decision, dated 06 October 1989, the appellate court denied the petition
another $8,000.00 which he also placed in the safe together with a bracelet worth $15,000.00 and affirmed the ruling of the trial court. Scalzo then elevated the incident in a petition for review

14
on certiorari, docketed G.R. No. 91173, to this Court. The petition, however, was denied for its his personal capacity and outside the scope of his official duties and, absent any evidence to the
failure to comply with SC Circular No. 1-88; in any event, the Court added, Scalzo had failed to contrary, the issue on Scalzo’s diplomatic immunity could not be taken up.
show that the appellate court was in error in its questioned judgment.
The Manila RTC thus continued with its hearings on the case. On 17 November 1995, the trial
Meanwhile, at the court a quo, an order, dated 09 February 1990, was issued (a) declaring Scalzo court reached a decision; it adjudged:
in default for his failure to file a responsive pleading (answer) and (b) setting the case for the
reception of evidence. On 12 March 1990, Scalzo filed a motion to set aside the order of default "WHEREFORE, and in view of all the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered for
and to admit his answer to the complaint. Granting the motion, the trial court set the case for the plaintif, who successfully established his claim by sufficient evidence, against the defendant
pre-trial. In his answer, Scalzo denied the material allegations of the complaint and raised the in the manner following:
affirmative defenses (a) of Minucher’s failure to state a cause of action in his complaint and (b)
that Scalzo had acted in the discharge of his official duties as being merely an agent of the Drug "`Adjudging defendant liable to plaintif in actual and compensatory damages of P520,000.00;
Enforcement Administration of the United States Department of Justice. Scalzo interposed a moral damages in the sum of P10 million; exemplary damages in the sum of P100,000.00;
counterclaim of P100,000.00 to answer for attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation. attorney's fees in the sum of P200,000.00 plus costs.

Then, on 14 June 1990, after almost two years since the institution of the civil case, Scalzo filed a `The Clerk of the Regional Trial Court, Manila, is ordered to take note of the lien of the Court on
motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that, being a special agent of the United States this judgment to answer for the unpaid docket fees considering that the plaintif in this case
Drug Enforcement Administration, he was entitled to diplomatic immunity. He attached to his instituted this action as a pauper litigant.’"2
motion Diplomatic Note No. 414 of the United States Embassy, dated 29 May 1990, addressed to
the Department of Foreign Afairs of the Philippines and a Certification, dated 11 June 1990, of
While the trial court gave credence to the claim of Scalzo and the evidence presented by him that
Vice Consul Donna Woodward, certifying that the note is a true and faithful copy of its original. In
he was a diplomatic agent entitled to immunity as such, it ruled that he, nevertheless, should be
an order of 25 June 1990, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss.
held accountable for the acts complained of committed outside his official duties. On appeal, the
Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court and sustained the defense of Scalzo that
On 27 July 1990, Scalzo filed a petition for certiorari with injunction with this Court, docketed G.R. he was sufficiently clothed with diplomatic immunity during his term of duty and thereby
No. 94257 and entitled "Arthur W. Scalzo, Jr., vs. Hon. Wenceslao Polo, et al.," asking that the immune from the criminal and civil jurisdiction of the "Receiving State" pursuant to the terms of
complaint in Civil Case No. 88-45691 be ordered dismissed. The case was referred to the Court of the Vienna Convention.
Appeals, there docketed CA-G.R. SP No. 22505, per this Court’s resolution of 07 August 1990. On
31 October 1990, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision sustaining the diplomatic
Hence, this recourse by Minucher. The instant petition for review raises a two-fold issue: (1)
immunity of Scalzo and ordering the dismissal of the complaint against him. Minucher filed a
whether or not the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment, following the decision rendered by
petition for review with this Court, docketed G.R. No. 97765 and entitled "Khosrow Minucher vs.
this Court in G.R. No. 97765, should have precluded the Court of Appeals from resolving the
the Honorable Court of Appeals, et. al." (cited in 214 SCRA 242), appealing the judgment of the
appeal to it in an entirely diferent manner, and (2) whether or not Arthur Scalzo is indeed
Court of Appeals. In a decision, dated 24 September 1992, penned by Justice (now Chief Justice)
entitled to diplomatic immunity.
Hilario Davide, Jr., this Court reversed the decision of the appellate court and remanded the case
to the lower court for trial. The remand was ordered on the theses (a) that the Court of Appeals
The doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment, or its kindred rule of res judicata, would require 1)
erred in granting the motion to dismiss of Scalzo for lack of jurisdiction over his person without
the finality of the prior judgment, 2) a valid jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties on
even considering the issue of the authenticity of Diplomatic Note No. 414 and (b) that the
the part of the court that renders it, 3) a judgment on the merits, and 4) an identity of the parties,
complaint contained sufficient allegations to the efect that Scalzo committed the imputed acts in
subject matter and causes of action. 3 Even while one of the issues submitted in G.R. No. 97765 -
"whether or not public respondent Court of Appeals erred in ruling that private respondent

15
Scalzo is a diplomat immune from civil suit conformably with the Vienna Convention on 8. Exh. '8' - Letter dated 18 November 1992 from the Office of the Protocol, Department
Diplomatic Relations" - is also a pivotal question raised in the instant petition, the ruling in G.R. of Foreign Afairs, through Asst. Sec. Emmanuel Fernandez, addressed to the Chief
No. 97765, however, has not resolved that point with finality. Indeed, the Court there has made Justice of this Court.5
this observation -
The documents, according to Scalzo, would show that: (1) the United States Embassy accordingly
"It may be mentioned in this regard that private respondent himself, in his Pre-trial Brief filed on advised the Executive Department of the Philippine Government that Scalzo was a member of the
13 June 1990, unequivocally states that he would present documentary evidence consisting of diplomatic staf of the United States diplomatic mission from his arrival in the Philippines on 14
DEA records on his investigation and surveillance of plaintif and on his position and duties as DEA October 1985 until his departure on 10 August 1988; (2) that the United States Government was
special agent in Manila. Having thus reserved his right to present evidence in support of his firm from the very beginning in asserting the diplomatic immunity of Scalzo with respect to the
position, which is the basis for the alleged diplomatic immunity, the barren self-serving claim in case pursuant to the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations; and (3) that
the belated motion to dismiss cannot be relied upon for a reasonable, intelligent and fair the United States Embassy repeatedly urged the Department of Foreign Afairs to take
resolution of the issue of diplomatic immunity."4 appropriate action to inform the trial court of Scalzo’s diplomatic immunity. The other
documentary exhibits were presented to indicate that: (1) the Philippine government itself,
Scalzo contends that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which the Philippines is a through its Executive Department, recognizing and respecting the diplomatic status of Scalzo,
signatory, grants him absolute immunity from suit, describing his functions as an agent of the formally advised the "Judicial Department" of his diplomatic status and his entitlement to all
United States Drugs Enforcement Agency as "conducting surveillance operations on suspected diplomatic privileges and immunities under the Vienna Convention; and (2) the Department of
drug dealers in the Philippines believed to be the source of prohibited drugs being shipped to the Foreign Afairs itself authenticated Diplomatic Note No. 414. Scalzo additionally presented
U.S., (and) having ascertained the target, (he then) would inform the Philippine narcotic agents Exhibits "9" to "13" consisting of his reports of investigation on the surveillance and subsequent
(to) make the actual arrest." Scalzo has submitted to the trial court a number of documents - arrest of Minucher, the certification of the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States
Department of Justice that Scalzo was a special agent assigned to the Philippines at all times
1. Exh. '2' - Diplomatic Note No. 414 dated 29 May 1990; relevant to the complaint, and the special power of attorney executed by him in favor of his
previous counsel6 to show (a) that the United States Embassy, affirmed by its Vice Consul,
acknowledged Scalzo to be a member of the diplomatic staf of the United States diplomatic
2. Exh. '1' - Certification of Vice Consul Donna K. Woodward dated 11 June 1990;
mission from his arrival in the Philippines on 14 October 1985 until his departure on 10 August
1988, (b) that, on May 1986, with the cooperation of the Philippine law enforcement officials and
3. Exh. '5' - Diplomatic Note No. 757 dated 25 October 1991; in the exercise of his functions as member of the mission, he investigated Minucher for alleged
trafficking in a prohibited drug, and (c) that the Philippine Department of Foreign Afairs itself
4. Exh. '6' - Diplomatic Note No. 791 dated 17 November 1992; and recognized that Scalzo during his tour of duty in the Philippines (14 October 1985 up to 10 August
1988) was listed as being an Assistant Attaché of the United States diplomatic mission and
5. Exh. '7' - Diplomatic Note No. 833 dated 21 October 1988. accredited with diplomatic status by the Government of the Philippines. In his Exhibit 12, Scalzo
described the functions of the overseas office of the United States Drugs Enforcement Agency,
6. Exh. '3' - 1st Indorsement of the Hon. Jorge R. Coquia, Legal Adviser, Department of i.e., (1) to provide criminal investigative expertise and assistance to foreign law enforcement
Foreign Afairs, dated 27 June 1990 forwarding Embassy Note No. 414 to the Clerk of agencies on narcotic and drug control programs upon the request of the host country, 2) to
Court of RTC Manila, Branch 19 (the trial court); establish and maintain liaison with the host country and counterpart foreign law enforcement
officials, and 3) to conduct complex criminal investigations involving international criminal
7. Exh. '4' - Diplomatic Note No. 414, appended to the 1st Indorsement (Exh. '3'); and conspiracies which afect the interests of the United States.

16
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations was a codification of centuries-old customary law attaché belongs to a category of officers in the diplomatic establishment who may be in charge of
and, by the time of its ratification on 18 April 1961, its rules of law had long become stable. its cultural, press, administrative or financial afairs. There could also be a class of attaches
Among the city states of ancient Greece, among the peoples of the Mediterranean before the belonging to certain ministries or departments of the government, other than the foreign
establishment of the Roman Empire, and among the states of India, the person of the herald in ministry or department, who are detailed by their respective ministries or departments with the
time of war and the person of the diplomatic envoy in time of peace were universally held embassies such as the military, naval, air, commercial, agricultural, labor, science, and customs
sacrosanct.7 By the end of the 16th century, when the earliest treatises on diplomatic law were attaches, or the like. Attaches assist a chief of mission in his duties and are administratively under
published, the inviolability of ambassadors was firmly established as a rule of customary him, but their main function is to observe, analyze and interpret trends and developments in
international law.8 Traditionally, the exercise of diplomatic intercourse among states was their respective fields in the host country and submit reports to their own ministries or
undertaken by the head of state himself, as being the preeminent embodiment of the state he departments in the home government. 14 These officials are not generally regarded as members of
represented, and the foreign secretary, the official usually entrusted with the external afairs of the diplomatic mission, nor are they normally designated as having diplomatic rank.
the state. Where a state would wish to have a more prominent diplomatic presence in the
receiving state, it would then send to the latter a diplomatic mission. Conformably with the In an attempt to prove his diplomatic status, Scalzo presented Diplomatic Notes Nos. 414, 757
Vienna Convention, the functions of the diplomatic mission involve, by and large, the and 791, all issued post litem motam, respectively, on 29 May 1990, 25 October 1991 and 17
representation of the interests of the sending state and promoting friendly relations with the November 1992. The presentation did nothing much to alleviate the Court's initial reservations in
receiving state.9 G.R. No. 97765, viz:

The Convention lists the classes of heads of diplomatic missions to include (a) ambassadors or "While the trial court denied the motion to dismiss, the public respondent gravely abused its
nuncios accredited to the heads of state, 10 (b) envoys,11 ministers or internuncios accredited to the discretion in dismissing Civil Case No. 88-45691 on the basis of an erroneous assumption that
heads of states; and (c) charges d' afairs 12 accredited to the ministers of foreign simply because of the diplomatic note, the private respondent is clothed with diplomatic
afairs.13 Comprising the "staf of the (diplomatic) mission" are the diplomatic staf, the immunity, thereby divesting the trial court of jurisdiction over his person.
administrative staf and the technical and service staf. Only the heads of missions, as well as
members of the diplomatic staf, excluding the members of the administrative, technical and "x x x x x x x x x
service staf of the mission, are accorded diplomatic rank. Even while the Vienna Convention on
Diplomatic Relations provides for immunity to the members of diplomatic missions, it does so,
"And now, to the core issue - the alleged diplomatic immunity of the private respondent. Setting
nevertheless, with an understanding that the same be restrictively applied. Only "diplomatic
aside for the moment the issue of authenticity raised by the petitioner and the doubts that
agents," under the terms of the Convention, are vested with blanket diplomatic immunity from
surround such claim, in view of the fact that it took private respondent one (1) year, eight (8)
civil and criminal suits. The Convention defines "diplomatic agents" as the heads of missions or
months and seventeen (17) days from the time his counsel filed on 12 September 1988 a Special
members of the diplomatic staf, thus impliedly withholding the same privileges from all others. It
Appearance and Motion asking for a first extension of time to file the Answer because the
might bear stressing that even consuls, who represent their respective states in concerns of
Departments of State and Justice of the United States of America were studying the case for the
commerce and navigation and perform certain administrative and notarial duties, such as the
purpose of determining his defenses, before he could secure the Diplomatic Note from the US
issuance of passports and visas, authentication of documents, and administration of oaths, do not
Embassy in Manila, and even granting for the sake of argument that such note is authentic, the
ordinarily enjoy the traditional diplomatic immunities and privileges accorded diplomats, mainly
complaint for damages filed by petitioner cannot be peremptorily dismissed.
for the reason that they are not charged with the duty of representing their states in political
matters. Indeed, the main yardstick in ascertaining whether a person is a diplomat entitled to
"x x x x x x x x x
immunity is the determination of whether or not he performs duties of diplomatic nature.

"There is of course the claim of private respondent that the acts imputed to him were done in his
Scalzo asserted, particularly in his Exhibits "9" to "13," that he was an Assistant Attaché of the
official capacity. Nothing supports this self-serving claim other than the so-called Diplomatic
United States diplomatic mission and was accredited as such by the Philippine Government. An

17
Note. x x x. The public respondent then should have sustained the trial court's denial of the tasked to conduct surveillance of suspected drug activities within the country on the dates
motion to dismiss. Verily, it should have been the most proper and appropriate recourse. It pertinent to this case. If it should be ascertained that Arthur Scalzo was acting well within his
should not have been overwhelmed by the self-serving Diplomatic Note whose belated issuance assigned functions when he committed the acts alleged in the complaint, the present controversy
is even suspect and whose authenticity has not yet been proved. The undue haste with which could then be resolved under the related doctrine of State Immunity from Suit.
respondent Court yielded to the private respondent's claim is arbitrary."
The precept that a State cannot be sued in the courts of a foreign state is a long-standing rule of
A significant document would appear to be Exhibit No. 08, dated 08 November 1992, issued by customary international law then closely identified with the personal immunity of a foreign
the Office of Protocol of the Department of Foreign Afairs and signed by Emmanuel C. sovereign from suit20 and, with the emergence of democratic states, made to attach not just to
Fernandez, Assistant Secretary, certifying that "the records of the Department (would) show that the person of the head of state, or his representative, but also distinctly to the state itself in its
Mr. Arthur W. Scalzo, Jr., during his term of office in the Philippines (from 14 October 1985 up to sovereign capacity.21 If the acts giving rise to a suit are those of a foreign government done by its
10 August 1988) was listed as an Assistant Attaché of the United States diplomatic mission and foreign agent, although not necessarily a diplomatic personage, but acting in his official capacity,
was, therefore, accredited diplomatic status by the Government of the Philippines." No certified the complaint could be barred by the immunity of the foreign sovereign from suit without its
true copy of such "records," the supposed bases for the belated issuance, was presented in consent. Suing a representative of a state is believed to be, in efect, suing the state itself. The
evidence. proscription is not accorded for the benefit of an individual but for the State, in whose service he
is, under the maxim - par in parem, non habet imperium - that all states are sovereign equals and
Concededly, vesting a person with diplomatic immunity is a prerogative of the executive branch of cannot assert jurisdiction over one another. 22 The implication, in broad terms, is that if the
the government. In World Health Organization vs. Aquino, 15 the Court has recognized that, in such judgment against an official would require the state itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy
matters, the hands of the courts are virtually tied. Amidst apprehensions of indiscriminate and the award, such as the appropriation of the amount needed to pay the damages decreed against
incautious grant of immunity, designed to gain exemption from the jurisdiction of courts, it should him, the suit must be regarded as being against the state itself, although it has not been formally
behoove the Philippine government, specifically its Department of Foreign Afairs, to be most impleaded.23
circumspect, that should particularly be no less than compelling, in its post litem motam
issuances. It might be recalled that the privilege is not an immunity from the observance of the In United States of America vs. Guinto, 24 involving officers of the United States Air Force and
law of the territorial sovereign or from ensuing legal liability; it is, rather, an immunity from the special officers of the Air Force Office of Special Investigators charged with the duty of preventing
exercise of territorial jurisdiction.16 The government of the United States itself, which Scalzo the distribution, possession and use of prohibited drugs, this Court has ruled -
claims to be acting for, has formulated its standards for recognition of a diplomatic agent. The
State Department policy is to only concede diplomatic status to a person who possesses an "While the doctrine (of state immunity) appears to prohibit only suits against the state without its
acknowledged diplomatic title and "performs duties of diplomatic nature." 17 Supplementary consent, it is also applicable to complaints filed against officials of the state for acts allegedly
criteria for accreditation are the possession of a valid diplomatic passport or, from States which performed by them in the discharge of their duties. x x x. It cannot for a moment be imagined
do not issue such passports, a diplomatic note formally representing the intention to assign the that they were acting in their private or unofficial capacity when they apprehended and later
person to diplomatic duties, the holding of a non-immigrant visa, being over twenty-one years of testified against the complainant. It follows that for discharging their duties as agents of the
age, and performing diplomatic functions on an essentially full-time basis. 18 Diplomatic missions United States, they cannot be directly impleaded for acts imputable to their principal, which has
are requested to provide the most accurate and descriptive job title to that which currently not given its consent to be sued. x x x As they have acted on behalf of the government, and within
applies to the duties performed. The Office of the Protocol would then assign each individual to the scope of their authority, it is that government, and not the petitioners personally, [who were]
the appropriate functional category.19 responsible for their acts."25

But while the diplomatic immunity of Scalzo might thus remain contentious, it was sufficiently This immunity principle, however, has its limitations. Thus, Shauf vs. Court of
established that, indeed, he worked for the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and was Appeals26 elaborates:

18
"It is a diferent matter where the public official is made to account in his capacity as such for acts well as the participation of members of the Philippine Narcotics Command in the "buy-bust
contrary to law and injurious to the rights of the plaintif. As was clearly set forth by Justice operation" conducted at the residence of Minucher at the behest of Scalzo, may be inadequate to
Zaldivar in Director of the Bureau of Telecommunications, et al., vs. Aligaen, et al. (33 SCRA 368): support the "diplomatic status" of the latter but they give enough indication that the Philippine
`Inasmuch as the State authorizes only legal acts by its officers, unauthorized acts of government government has given its imprimatur, if not consent, to the activities within Philippine territory of
officials or officers are not acts of the State, and an action against the officials or officers by one agent Scalzo of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. The job description of Scalzo has
whose rights have been invaded or violated by such acts, for the protection of his rights, is not a tasked him to conduct surveillance on suspected drug suppliers and, after having ascertained the
suit against the State within the rule of immunity of the State from suit. In the same tenor, it has target, to inform local law enforcers who would then be expected to make the arrest. In
been said that an action at law or suit in equity against a State officer or the director of a State conducting surveillance activities on Minucher, later acting as the poseur-buyer during the buy-
department on the ground that, while claiming to act for the State, he violates or invades the bust operation, and then becoming a principal witness in the criminal case against Minucher,
personal and property rights of the plaintif, under an unconstitutional act or under an Scalzo hardly can be said to have acted beyond the scope of his official function or duties.
assumption of authority which he does not have, is not a suit against the State within the
constitutional provision that the State may not be sued without its consent. The rationale for this All told, this Court is constrained to rule that respondent Arthur Scalzo, an agent of the United
ruling is that the doctrine of state immunity cannot be used as an instrument for perpetrating an States Drug Enforcement Agency allowed by the Philippine government to conduct activities in
injustice. the country to help contain the problem on the drug traffic, is entitled to the defense of state
immunity from suit.
"x x x x x x x x x
WHEREFORE, on the foregoing premises, the petition is DENIED. No costs.
"(T)he doctrine of immunity from suit will not apply and may not be invoked where the public
official is being sued in his private and personal capacity as an ordinary citizen. The cloak of SO ORDERED.
protection aforded the officers and agents of the government is removed the moment they are
sued in their individual capacity. This situation usually arises where the public official acts without Case Digest: KHOSROW MINUCHER vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ARTHUR SCALZO (G.R. No. 142396 February
authority or in excess of the powers vested in him. It is a well-settled principle of law that a public 11, 2003)
official may be liable in his personal private capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by Facts
his act done with malice and in bad faith or beyond the scope of his authority and jurisdiction." 27
Violation of the “Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972,” was filed against Minucher following a “buy-bust
A foreign agent, operating within a territory, can be cloaked with immunity from suit but only as operation” conducted by Philippine police narcotic agents accompanied by Scalzo in the house of
long as it can be established that he is acting within the directives of the sending state. The Minucher, an Iranian national, where heroin was said to have been seized. Minucher was later
consent of the host state is an indispensable requirement of basic courtesy between the two acquitted by the court.
sovereigns. Guinto and Shauf both involve officers and personnel of the United States, stationed
within Philippine territory, under the RP-US Military Bases Agreement. While evidence is wanting
Minucher later on filed for damages due to trumped-up charges of drug trafficking made by
to show any similar agreement between the governments of the Philippines and of the United
Arthur Scalzo.
States (for the latter to send its agents and to conduct surveillance and related activities of
suspected drug dealers in the Philippines), the consent or imprimatur of the Philippine
Scalzo on his counterclaims that he had acted in the discharge of his official duties as being
government to the activities of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, however, can be
merely an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States Department of
gleaned from the facts heretofore elsewhere mentioned. The official exchanges of
Justice.
communication between agencies of the government of the two countries, certifications from
officials of both the Philippine Department of Foreign Afairs and the United States Embassy, as

19
Scalzo subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that, being a special In conducting surveillance activities on Minucher, later acting as the poseur-buyer during the buy-
agent of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, he was entitled to diplomatic bust operation, and then becoming a principal witness in the criminal case against Minucher,
immunity. He attached to his motion Diplomatic Note of the United States Embassy addressed to
DOJ of the Philippines and a Certification of Vice Consul Donna Woodward, certifying that the Scalzo hardly can be said to have acted beyond the scope of his official function or duties.
note is a true and faithful copy of its original. Trial court denied the motion to dismiss.

ISSUE

Whether or not Arthur Scalzo is indeed entitled to diplomatic immunity.

RULLING

YES.

A foreign agent, operating within a territory, can be cloaked with immunity from suit as long as it
can be established that he is acting within the directives of the sending state.

The consent or imprimatur of the Philippine government to the activities of the United States
Drug Enforcement Agency, however, can be gleaned from the undisputed facts in the case.

 The official exchanges of communication between agencies of the government of the


two countries

 Certifications from officials of both the Philippine Department of Foreign Afairs and the
United States Embassy

 Participation of members of the Philippine Narcotics Command in the “buy-bust


operation” conducted at the residence of Minucher at the behest of Scalzo

These may be inadequate to support the “diplomatic status” of the latter but they give enough
indication that the Philippine government has given its imprimatur, if not consent, to the activities
within Philippine territory of agent Scalzo of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.

The job description of Scalzo has tasked him to conduct surveillance on suspected drug suppliers
and, after having ascertained the target, to inform local law enforcers who would then be
expected to make the arrest.

20
JEFFREY LIANG (HUEFENG), petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Petitioner is an economist working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Sometime in 1994,
for allegedly uttering defamatory words against fellow ADB worker Joyce Cabal, he was charged
before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Mandaluyong City with two counts of grave oral
defamation docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 53170 and 53171. Petitioner was arrested by virtue
of a warrant issued by the MeTC. After fixing petitioner's bail at P2,400.00 per criminal charge,
the MeTC released him to the custody of the Security Officer of ADB. The next day, the MeTC
judge received an "office of protocol" from the Department of Foreign Afairs (DFA) stating that
petitioner is covered by immunity from legal process under Section 45 of the Agreement between
the ADB and the Philippine Government regarding the Headquarters of the ADB (hereinafter
Agreement) in the country. Based on the said protocol communication that petitioner is immune
from suit, the MeTC judge without notice to the prosecution dismissed the two criminal cases.
The latter filed a motion for reconsideration which was opposed by the DFA. When its motion was
denied, the prosecution filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Pasig City which set aside the MeTC rulings and ordered the latter court to enforce the
warrant of arrest it earlier issued. After the motion for reconsideration was denied, petitioner
elevated the case to this Court viaa petition for review arguing that he is covered by immunity
under the Agreement and that no preliminary investigation was held before the criminal cases
were filed in court.1âwphi1.nêt

The petition is not impressed with merit.

First, courts cannot blindly adhere and take on its face the communication from the DFA that
petitioner is covered by any immunity. The DFA's determination that a certain person is covered
by immunity is only preliminary which has no binding efect in courts. In receiving ex-parte the
DFA's advice and in motu propio dismissing the two criminal cases without notice to the
prosecution, the latter's right to due process was violated. It should be noted that due process is
a right of the accused as much as it is of the prosecution. The needed inquiry in what capacity
petitioner was acting at the time of the alleged utterances requires for its resolution evidentiary
G.R. No. 125865 January 28, 2000 basis that has yet to be presented at the proper time. 1 At any rate, it has been ruled that the mere
invocation of the immunity clause does not ipso facto result in the dropping of the charges.2

21
Second, under Section 45 of the Agreement which provides: WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.

Officers and staf of the Bank including for the purpose of this Article experts and SO ORDERED.
consultants performing missions for the Bank shall enjoy the following privileges and
immunities:

a.) immunity from legal process with respect to acts performed by them in their
official capacity except when the Bank waives the immunity.

the immunity mentioned therein is not absolute, but subject to the exception that the acts was
done in "official capacity." It is therefore necessary to determine if petitioner's case falls within
the ambit of Section 45(a). Thus, the prosecution should have been given the chance to rebut the
DFA protocol and it must be accorded the opportunity to present its controverting evidence,
should it so desire.

Third, slandering a person could not possibly be covered by the immunity agreement because our
laws do not allow the commission of a crime, such as defamation, in the name of official
LIANG VS PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES GR no. 125865 January 28, 2000
duty.3 The imputation of theft is ultra vires and cannot be part of official functions. It is well-
settled principle of law that a public official may be liable in his personal private capacity for
whatever damage he may have caused by his act done with malice or in bad faith or beyond the
scope of his authority or jurisdiction.4 It appears that even the government's chief legal counsel,
Petitioner: Jefrey Liang
the Solicitor General, does not support the stand taken by petitioner and that of the DFA.
Respondent: People of the Philippines

Fourth, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic agent, assuming FACTS:
petitioner is such, enjoys immunity from criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state except in the Petitioner is an economist working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Sometime in 1994,
case of an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic for allegedly uttering defamatory words against fellow ADB worker Joyce Cabal, he was charged
agent in the receiving state outside his official functions. 5 As already mentioned above, the before the MeTC of Mandaluyong City with two counts of oral defamation. Petitioner was
commission of a crime is not part of official duty. arrested by virtue of a warrant issued by the MeTC. After fixing petitioner’s bail, the MeTC
released him to the custody of the Security Officer of ADB. The next day, the MeTC judge received
Finally, on the contention that there was no preliminary investigation conducted, suffice it to say an “office of protocol” from the DFA stating that petitioner is covered by immunity from legal
that preliminary investigation is not a matter of right in cases cognizable by the MeTC such as the process under section 45 of the Agreement between the ADB and the Philippine Government
one at bar.6 Being purely a statutory right, preliminary investigation may be invoked only when regarding the Headquarters of the ADB in the country. Based on the said protocol communication
specifically granted by law.7 The rule on the criminal procedure is clear that no preliminary that petitioner is immune from suit, the MeTC judge without notice to the prosecution dismissed
investigation is required in cases falling within the jurisdiction of the MeTC. 8 Besides the absence the criminal cases. The latter filed a motion for reconsideration which was opposed by the DFA.
of preliminary investigation does not afect the court's jurisdiction nor does it impair the validity When its motion was denied, the prosecution filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with
of the information or otherwise render it defective.9 the RTC of Pasig City which set aside the MeTC rulings and ordered the latter court to enforce the
warrant of arrest it earlier issued. After the motion for reconsideration was denied, the petitioner

22
elevated the case to the SC via a petition for review arguing that he is covered by immunity under PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellant,
the Agreement and that no preliminary investigation was held before the criminal case. vs.
ROBERTO ABAY y TRINIDAD, Appellee.
ISSUES:
(1) Whether or not the petitioner’s case is covered with immunity from legal process with regard to DECISION
Section 45 of the Agreement between the ADB and the Philippine Gov’t.
(2) Whether or not the conduct of preliminary investigation was imperative. CORONA, J.:

HELD:
On March 8, 2000, appellant Roberto Abay y Trinidad was charged with rape in relation to Section
(1) NO. The petitioner’s case is not covered by the immunity. Courts cannot blindly adhere to the
5(b), Article III of RA 7610 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 4 1 under the
communication from the DFA that the petitioner is covered by any immunity. It has no binding
following Information:
efect in courts. The court needs to protect the right to due process not only of the accused but
also of the prosecution. Secondly, the immunity under Section 45 of the Agreement is not
That sometime in December 1999, in the City of Manila, Philippines, [appellant] by means of
absolute, but subject to the exception that the acts must be done in “official capacity”. Hence,
force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly commit sexual
slandering a person could not possibly be covered by the immunity agreement because our laws
abuse and lascivious conduct against [AAA], a minor, 13 years of age, by then and there kissing
do not allow the commission of a crime, such as defamation, in the name of official duty.
her breast and whole body, lying on top of her and inserting his penis into her vagina, thus
(2) NO. Preliminary Investigation is not a matter of right in cases cognizable by the MeTC such as this
succeeded in having carnal knowledge of her, against her will and consent thereafter threatening
case. Being purely a statutory right, preliminary investigation may be invoked only when
to kill her should she report the incident, thereby gravely endangering her survival and normal
specifically granted by law. The rule on criminal procedure is clear that no preliminary
growth and development, to the damage and prejudice of [AAA].
investigation is required in cases falling within the jurisdiction of the MeTC.

Hence, SC denied the petition. CONTRARY TO LAW.

Appellant pleaded not guilty during arraignment.

During trial, the prosecution presented AAA, her mother BBB and expert witness Dr. Stella
Guerrero-Manalo of the Child Protection Unit of the Philippine General Hospital as its witnesses.

AAA testified that appellant, her mother’s live-in partner, had been sexually abusing her since she
was seven years old. Whenever her mother was working or was asleep in the evening, appellant
would threaten her with a bladed instrument 2 and force her to undress and engage in sexual
intercourse with him.

BBB corroborated AAA’s testimony. She testified that she knew about appellant’s dastardly acts.
However, because he would beat her up and accuse AAA of lying whenever she confronted him,
G.R. No. 177752 February 24, 2009 she kept her silence. Thus, when she caught appellant in the act of molesting her daughter on
December 25, 1999, she immediately proceeded to the police station and reported the incident.

23
According to Dr. Guerrero-Manalo, AAA confided to her that appellant had been sexually abusing crime10 while exemplary damages are awarded by way of example and in order to protect young
her for six years. This was confirmed by AAA’s physical examination indicating prior and recent girls from sexual abuse and exploitation.11
penetration injuries.
We affirm the decision of the CA with modifications.
The defense, on the other hand, asserted the incredibility of the charge against appellant.
Appellant’s sister, Nenita Abay, and appellant’s daughter, Rizza, testified that if appellant had Under Section 5(b), Article III of RA 761012 in relation to RA 8353,13 if the victim of sexual
really been sexually abusing AAA, the family would have noticed. The rooms of their house were abuse14 is below 12 years of age, the ofender should not be prosecuted for sexual abuse but for
divided only by ¼-inch thick plywood "walls" that did not even reach the ceiling. Thus, they statutory rape under Article 266-A(1)(d) of the Revised Penal Code 15 and penalized with reclusion
should have heard AAA’s cries. Moreover, Nenita and Rizza claimed that they "often caught" AAA perpetua.16 On the other hand, if the victim is 12 years or older, the ofender should be charged
and her boyfriend in intimate situations. with either sexual abuse17 under Section 5(b) of RA 7610 or rape under Article 266-A (except
paragraph 1[d]) of the Revised Penal Code. However, the ofender cannot be accused of both
According to the RTC, one wrongly accused of a crime will staunchly defend his innocence. Here, crimes18 for the same act because his right against double jeopardy will be prejudiced. A person
appellant kept his silence which was contrary to human nature. On the other hand, AAA cannot be subjected twice to criminal liability for a single criminal act. 19 Likewise, rape cannot be
straightforwardly narrated her horrifying experience at the hands of appellant. The RTC complexed with a violation of Section 5(b) of RA 7610. Under Section 48 of the Revised Penal
concluded that appellant had indeed sexually abused AAA. A young girl would not have exposed Code (on complex crimes),20 a felony under the Revised Penal Code (such as rape) cannot be
herself to humiliation and public scandal unless she was impelled by a strong desire to seek complexed with an ofense penalized by a special law. 21
justice.3
In this case, the victim was more than 12 years old when the crime was committed against her.
In a decision dated November 25, 2003,4 the RTC found appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt The Information against appellant stated that AAA was 13 years old at the time of the incident.
of the crime of rape: Therefore, appellant may be prosecuted either for violation of Section 5(b) of RA 7610 or rape
under Article 266-A (except paragraph 1[d]) of the Revised Penal Code. While the Information
WHEREFORE, finding [appellant] Roberto Abay y Trinidad guilty beyond reasonable doubt of may have alleged the elements of both crimes, the prosecution’s evidence only established that
committing the crime of rape under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 5, appellant sexually violated the person of AAA through force and intimidation 22 by threatening her
Article III of RA 7610 against [AAA], the Court imposes upon him the death penalty, 5 and to pay with a bladed instrument and forcing her to submit to his bestial designs. Thus, rape was
private complainant moral damages in the amount of Fifty Thousand (₱50,000) Pesos. established.23

SO ORDERED. Indeed, the records are replete with evidence establishing that appellant forced AAA to engage in
sexual intercourse with him on December 25, 1999. Appellant is therefore found guilty of rape
The Court of Appeals (CA), on intermediate appellate review, 6 affirmed the findings of the RTC but under Article 266-A(1)(a) of the Revised Penal Code and sentenced to reclusion
modified the penalty and award of damages. perpetua. Furthermore, to conform with existing jurisprudence, he is ordered to pay AAA ₱75,000
as civil indemnity ex-delicto24 and ₱75,000 as moral damages.25
In view of the enactment of RA 83537 and RA 9346,8 the CA found appellant guilty only of simple
rape and reduced the penalty imposed to reclusion perpetua. Furthermore, in addition to the civil WHEREFORE, the January 18, 2007 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01365
indemnity ex delicto (which is mandatory once the fact of rape is proved) 9 granted by the RTC, it is hereby AFFIRMED with modification. Appellant Roberto Abay y Trinidad is hereby
awarded ₱50,000 as moral damages and ₱25,000 as exemplary damages. Moral damages are found GUIILTY of simple rape and is sentenced to sufer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is
automatically granted in rape cases without need of proof other than the commission of the further ordered to pay AAA ₱75,000 as civil indemnity ex-delicto, ₱75,000 as moral damages and
₱25,000 as exemplary damages.

24
Costs against appellant. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintif-appellee,
vs.
SO ORDERED. ROSEMARIE DE LA CRUZ y NIEVA, accused-appellant.

MELO, J.:

Accused-appellant Rosemarie de la Cruz was caught holding a seven-year old schoolgirl by the
hand and leading her out of the school grounds. Charged with kidnapping and serious illegal
detention of a minor, she was convicted, and accordingly sentenced to sufer the penalty of no
less than reclusion perpetua. Accused-appellant contends that her guilt has not been established
by proof beyond reasonable doubt and that the entire case is nothing but an overreaction to the
situation.

The Information charged:

That on or about September 27, 1994, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the
said accused, being then a private individual and without authority of law, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap, detain or in any
manner deprive one WHIAZEL SORIANO y CRUZ, seven years of age, of her
liberty, against her will and consent.

Contrary to law.

(p. 5, Rollo)

The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 94-139168 before the Regional Trial Court of the
National Capital Judicial Region (Branch 35, Manila). After accused-appellant entered a plea of
not guilty, trial commenced. The testimony of the principal witnesses for the prosecution may be
summarized in the following manner:

Cecilia Caparos, a neighbor of Whiazel Soriano, the victim, testified that on September 27, 1994,
G.R. No. 120988 August 11, 1997 at around 11:30 o'clock in the morning, she waiting for her two children inside the compound of
the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School when she saw Whiazel held on the hand and being led
away by a woman later identified as accused-appellant. Knowing that Whiazel was enrolled in the
afternoon class, she went after them and asked accused-appellant where she was going with

25
Whiazel. Accused-appellant answered that she asked Whiazel to bring her to Rowena Soriano, the Accused-appellant testified that when she got to the school, she asked; guard where the clinic
child's mother. Cecilia then turned to Whiazel and asked her why she was with accused-appellant. was. The guard gave her directions, and told her to pass through the same gate on her way out.
Whiazel answered that accused-appellant requested her to look for the latter's child. Cecilia grew When she got to the clinic, no one was there so she left. On her way out, a girl, later identified as
suspicious because of the inconsistent answers, Whiazel's terrified look, and the scratches on the Whiazel, walked with her at arm's length (nakasabay). She did not hold the child; she did not look
child's face. She told accused-appellant that she will bring accused-appellant to a teacher because at the child; they did not talk; not even smiles were exchanged. Before she could get out of the
she did not trust accused-appellant. Accused-appellant was "surprised and reasoned out", but school, a woman (Cecilia Caparos) called her; hurled invectives at her, and accused her of
just the same agreed to go to a teacher (pp. 3-9, 11-13, tsn, April 3, 1995). kidnapping Whiazel. Accused-appellant got mad but nevertheless ofered no resistance when
Caparos dragged her and brought her to the office of the guidance counselor. There, Caparos
The victim, Whiazel Soriano (sometimes referred to in the record as Reazel or Rhiazel), at the time repeated her charges against accused-appellant, which accusations the latter denied. Whiazel
of the incident, was a Grade 1 pupil at the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School in Malate, was asked by the guidance counselor if accused-appellant was really going to kidnap her, she
Manila. She testified that she voluntarily went with accused-appellant after being asked for help answered no. Very much the same things were said later at the principal's office ( pp. 2-8, tsn,
in looking for the school dentist. Whiazel also mentioned that accused-appellant asked for her April 21,1995). At the request of the principal, five policemen later came and brought accused-
assistance in looking for accused-appellant's child in a place far away from school. She was appellant to Station No. 5 of the Western Police District (pp. 14-15, Rollo).
neither threatened nor hurt in any way by accused-appellant. She was not led out of the school;
in fact they never got out of the school compound. When Cecilia Caparos saw them, Whiazel told Lending credence to the testimony of the prosecution witnesses, the trial court rendered the
accused-appellant that she wanted to go. Accused-appellant refused, and held Whiazel's hand. appealed decision finding accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Whiazel did not try to escape. She did not even cry; well, not until they went to a teacher (pp. 3- kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a minor, as:
9, tsn, April 7, 1995).
It has been established with moral certainty that with neither legal reason nor
For the defense, Eufemia Magpantay, guidance teacher at Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School, just cause, the accused took hold of the child Whiazel by the hand, and led her
testified that on September 27, 1994, at around noontime, accused-appellant, Whiazel, her towards the gate of the school compound against her will, evidently to bring
teacher Mrs. Rioganes, and Cecilia Caparos went to her office. The incident was related to her. her out of the school perimeter. But before they could actually exit through that
Asked what she was doing with Whiazel, accused-appellant said she wanted the child's help in gate, the child saw a neighbor (obviously Cecilia Caparos) and told the accused
looking for the school dentist. Accused-appellant reiterated this before the assistant principal to that she wanted to go to her neighbor. The accused, however, refused and did
whom they all later went. This witness testified that the school allows patients who are not not agree to let the child go and continued to hold her, for which reason, she
connected with the school to consult at the clinic. Further, she also mentioned that the students was not able to get away from the accused . . .
of the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School, the same being a public school, come mostly from
low to average income families (pp. 4-9, tsn, April 28, 1995). That the accused did not employ any physical force on Whiazel Soriano in
detaining and restraining her freedom provides no significant consequence to
Accused-appellant's mother-in-law, Gorgonia Nieva, testified that on the day prior to the incident, relieve the former from the resultant efects of her consummated criminal act,
accused-appellant had asked her to look for Dr. Luisa Medina, a dentist. Accused-appellant's for it cannot be denied that she had exerted sufficient moral intimidation on the
daughter was then sick. Her inquiries showed that the dentist no longer had her clinic at her child which efectively controlled and influenced her will . . . At such tender age
house; instead she may be found at the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School. Thus, the next day, and immature mind she can easily be awed and cowed by a person such as the
he went with accused-appellant to Manila to look for the dentist. They parted ways when they accused.
arrived at the school at around 11 o'clock in the morning (pp. 3-12, tsn, April 24, 1995).
(pp. 21-26, Ibid.)

26
Accordingly, accused-appellant was sentenced to sufer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to further act reinforcing the inference that the victim may have been denied her liberty, even taking
pay the victim, through her parents, P50,000 as moral damages (p. 26, Ibid.). cognizance of her minority, the Court hesitates to find that kidnapping in the case at bar was
consummated. While it is a well-entrenched rule that factual findings of trial courts, especially
Accused-appellant interposed the instant appeal, contending that her act of holding the child by when they concern the appreciation of testimony of witnesses, are accorded great respect, by
the hand and leading her out of the school premises cannot be considered an act of kidnapping exception, when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts, as we perceive in the case
without leaving room for reasonable doubt. Accused-appellant points out that Whiazel did not at bar, the Court may choose to substitute its own findings (People vs. Padua, 215 SCRA 266
categorically state that accused-appellant tried to kidnap her. On the contrary, the child testified [1992]).
that she voluntarily went with accused-appellant and that she was neither forced nor intimidated
into accompanying accused-appellant. Also, it is said, accused-appellant's excuse for going to To our mind, the felony committed is kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a minor in the
Whiazel's school to look for Dr. Medina is buttressed by the fact that she had a tooth extracted in attempted stage only. The attempted phase of a felony is defined as when the ofender
jail sometime in November 1994; and that contrary to Whiazel's statement, the guidance teacher, commences the commission of a felony, directly by overt acts, and does not perform all the acts
Eufemia Magpantay, testified that even persons not connected with the school are allowed to of execution which should produce the felony by reason of some cause or accident other than his
consult Dr. Medina at the school's dental clinic. Accused-appellant thus contends that she had a own spontaneous desistance (Article 6, Revised Penal Code). The overt act must be an external
valid reason for being at the school premises, as indeed, she did not run away and instead faced one which has direct connection with the felony, it being "necessary to prove that said beginning
her accuser. All these circumstances, accused-appellant submits, constitute reasonable doubt as of execution, if carried to its complete termination following its natural course without being
to her guilt which, therefore, necessitate her acquittal (pp. 4-8, Accused-Appellant's Brief; pp. 53- frustrated by external obstacles nor by the voluntary desistance of the ofender, will logically and
57, Rollo). necessarily ripen to a concrete ofense" (Padilla. Criminal Law: Revised Penal Code Annotated, vol.
I, 1987 ed., p. 141 citing People vs. Lamahang, 61 Phil 703).
The People, through the Office of the Solicitor General, argue that Whiazel was deprived of her
liberty, no matter how short a time, the moment accused-appellant, a person unknown to In the case at bar, accused-appellant already commenced her criminal scheme by taking hold of
Whiazel, prevented her from going over to her neighbor, Cecilia Caparos. Under the Whiazel by the hand and leading her out of the school premises. As mentioned earlier, these do
circumstances, considering that she is of such tender age, deprivation of liberty was not sufficiently establish that kidnapping had been consummated. However, considering other
consummated even in the absence of force or threats upon the victim. (pp. 6-7, Plaintif- attendant facts and circumstances, it does reveal that accused-appellant had less than noble
Appellee's Brief). intentions with the victim. Firstly, the child was led to believe that accused-appellant wanted to
see the dentist. It is not clear, however, that there really was a Dr. Medina employed by the
In a prosecution for kidnapping, the intent of the accused to deprive the victim of the latter's school as dentist. Not even the guidance counselor who testified for the defense made any
liberty, in any manner, needs to be established by indubitable proof (People vs. Puno, 219 SCRA specific mention of the doctor. Secondly, if accused-appellant wanted to see the dentist, why was
85 [1993]). The acts held by the trial court, and maintained by the People, as consummating the she on her way out? If it is true she had already gone to the clinic and found no one there and
crime of kidnapping in this case are those when accused-appellant held the victim's hand and that she then decided to leave, what else was she doing with the child? Thirdly, accused-appellant
refused to let go when the victim asked to go over to her neighbor, who by then already saw what did not simply ask for directions; she wanted the victim to accompany her. That seems suspicious
was happening. This happened for only a very brief span of time and the evidentiary record enough. And of all people, why ask a seven-year old? Fortunately, the further progress and
shows that there were a good number of people present at that time, that a guard was stationed completion of accused-appellant's felonious design was thwarted by the timely intervention of
at the gate, and that there was at least a teacher nearby. The child could have just as easily Cecilia Caparos, the victim's neighbor.
shouted for help. While it does not take much to scare the wits out of a small child like Whiazel,
under the attendant circumstances, we cannot say with certainty that she was indeed deprived of The Court thus holds that the felony committed by accused-appellant in the case at bar is not
her liberty. It must further be noted that up to that brief moment when Cecilia saw them, and the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a minor in the consummated stage, but rather in its
child asked to be let go, the victim had gone with accused-appellant voluntarily. Without any attempted stage.

27
Nevertheless, we believe that the trial court erred in granting moral damages in the amount of People v. Dela Cruz
P50,000 despite the absence of any evidence on record that the victim sufered sleepless nights,
serious anxiety, fright, or similar injury. All that the record reveals is that the victim cried when G.R. No. 120988 August 11, 1997
they were at the guidance counselor's office, nothing more. Inasmuch as moral damages are
granted not to enrich, but rather to compensate the victim for the injury sufered (Bautista vs. Lessons Applicable: consummated crime
Mangaldan Rural Bank, Inc., 230 SCRA 16 [1994]), proof of moral sufering must be introduced,
failing in which, such an award is not proper (People vs. Manero, Jr. et. al., 218 SCRA 85 [1993]). Laws Applicable:

Since the crime is only in its attempted stage, the penalty imposable under Article 267 of the FACTS:
Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 7659, which is reclusion perpetua to death, has to be • September 27, 1994 11:30 am: Cecilia Caparos, a neighbor of Whiazel Soriano, waiting for her
lowered by two degrees (Article 51, Revised Penal Code). Two degrees lower from reclusion two children inside the compound of the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School when she saw
perpetua to death would be prision mayor, which has to be imposed in its medium period in the Whiazel held on the hand and being led away by Rosemarie de la Cruz. Knowing that Whiazel
absence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance (Article 64, Revised Penal Code). Applying was enrolled in the afternoon class, she went after them and asked de la Cruz where she was
further the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the imposable penalty would range from prision going with Whiazel. De la Cruz answred that she was asked by Rowena Soriano, Whiazel’s
correccional, as the minimum, to prision mayor in its medium period, as the maximum. mother, to bring Whiazel to her. Then, Caparos asked Whiazel the same question, Whiazel said to
look for De la Cruz’ child. During this time, Whiazel told De la Cruz that she wanted to go. But De
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed decision is MODIFIED in that accused-appellant la Cruz refused and held her hand. The inconsistent answer, scratches on Whiazel’s face and
is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of attempted kidnapping and serious illegal detention. terrified look made her suspicious so she told De la Cruz to bring Whiazel to the teacher was
Accordingly, accused-appellant is sentenced to sufer an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years surprised and reasoned out but soon agreed. When they arrived, Whiazel cried.
and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision • When Eufemia Magpantay, guidance teacher, asked De la Cruz what she was doing with
mayor, as maximum. The award for moral damages in the amount of P50,000 is hereby DELETED. Whiazel, De la Cruz told her she was looking for the school dentist. This was also her answer
when they went to the principal.
• Gorgonia Nieva, De la Cruz’ mother-in-law: on the day prior to the incident, De la Cruz’ asked
SO ORDERED.
her to look for Dr. Luisa Medina, a dentist because her daughter was sick. Since Nieva heard that
Dr. Luisa Medina may be found at the Aurora A. Quezon Elementary School, she accompanied De
la Cruz there at around 11:00 am.
• De la Cruz: she asked; guard where the clinic was. The guard gave her directions, and told her
to pass through the same gate on her way out. When she got to the clinic, no one was there so
she left. On her way out, she saw Whiazel and who walked with her. She did not hold, look or
even smile at the child. But, before she could get out she was seen by Caparos.
• RTC: kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a minor

ISSUE: W/N there is a consummate crime.

HELD: NO. MODIFIED attempted kidnapping and serious illegal detention


• the felony committed is kidnapping and serious illegal detention of a minor in the attempted
stage only
• The attempted phase of a felony is defined as when the ofender commences the commission

28
of a felony, directly by overt acts, and does not perform all the acts of execution which should G.R. No. 185195 March 17, 2010
produce the felony by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous
desistance (Article 6, Revised Penal Code). VIOLETA BAHILIDAD, Petitioner,
• The overt act must be an external one which has direct connection with the felony, it being vs.
"necessary to prove that said beginning of execution, if carried to its complete termination PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
following its natural course without being frustrated by external obstacles nor by the voluntary
desistance of the ofender, will logically and necessarily ripen to a concrete ofense" DECISION
• already commenced her criminal scheme by taking hold of Whiazel by the hand and leading
her out of the school premises
NACHURA, J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari assailing the Decision 1 of the Sandiganbayan in
Criminal Case No. 28326, convicting petitioner Violeta Bahilidad and co-accused Amelia Carmela
C. Zoleta of the complex crime of Malversation of Public Funds through Falsification of Public
Documents.

Acting on a complaint filed by a "Concerned Citizen of Sarangani Province" with the Office of the
Ombudsman-Mindanao against Mary Ann Gadian, Amelia Carmela Zoleta, both assigned to the
Office of the Vice-Governor, and a certain Sheryll Desiree Tangan, from the Office of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan, for their alleged participation in the scheme of giving fictitious grants
and donations using funds of the provincial government, a special audit was conducted in
Sarangani province. The Special Audit Team, created for the purpose, conducted its investigation
from June 1 to July 31, 2003, and submitted the following findings:

1. Release of financial assistance intended to NGOs/POs and LGUs were fraudulently and
illegally made thus local development projects do not exist resulting in the loss of
₱16,106,613.00 on the part of the government.

2. Financial Assistance were also granted to Cooperatives whose officials and members
were mostly government personnel or relative of the officials of Sarangani Province
resulting to wastage and misuse of government fund amounting to ₱2,246,481.00. 2

Included in the list of alleged fictitious associations that benefited from the financial assistance
given to certain Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), People’s Organizations (POs), and Local
Governmental Units (LGUs) was Women in Progress (WIP), which received a check in the amount
of ₱20,000.00, issued in the name of herein petitioner Bahilidad, as the Treasurer thereof.

29
Based on its findings, the Special Audit Team recommended the filing of charges of malversation issued by the Office of the Vice-Governor to the WIP violated specific COA Guidelines
through falsification of public documents against the officials involved. Thus, the following 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, 3.7, 3.10 and 4.4. The guidelines required the monitoring, inspection and
Information was filed: evaluation of the project by the provincial engineer if an infra-project and by the
provincial agriculturist if it is a livelihood project. Cailing further testified that, based on
That on January 24, 2002, or prior or subsequent thereto in Sarangani Province, Philippines, and their audit, WIP appeared to be headed by Zoleta, who was the daughter of Vice-
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Felipe Katu Constantino, a high-ranking Governor Constantino, and simultaneously an Executive Assistant III in the latter’s office.
public officer, being the Vice-Governor of the Province of Sarangani, Maria D. Camanay, Provincial
Accountant, Teodorico F. Diaz, Provincial Board Member, Amelia Carmela C. Zoleta, Executive 2. Luttian Tutoh, Region XII Director of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA),
Assistant III, all accountable public officials of the Provincial Government of Sarangani, by reason testified on the certification3 she issued that WIP and Women in Development (WID)
of the duties of their office, conspiring and confederating with Violeta Balihidad, private were not registered cooperatives. Tutoh further testified that (1) the certification was
individual, the public officers, while committing the ofense in relation to office, taking advantage based on the listing prepared by the Assistant Regional Director; (2) the Certification was
of their respective positions, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, convert issued upon the instruction of the CDA Chairman, who received an inquiry from the
and misappropriate the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (₱20,000.00), Philippine Currency, Office of the Ombudsman on whether WIP and/or WID were cooperatives registered
in public funds under their custody, and for which they are accountable, by falsifying or causing to with the CDA; and (3) she had not come across a registered cooperative named WIP.
be falsified the corresponding Disbursement Voucher No. 101-2002-01-822 and its supporting
documents, making it appear that financial assistance had been sought by Women in Progress, 3. Mary Ann Gadian, Bookbinder II, designated as Computer Operator III at the Office of
Malungon, Sarangani, represented by its President Amelia Carmela C. Zoleta, when in truth and in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sarangani from July 1993 to August 2002, who acted as
fact, the accused fully knew well that no financial assistance had been requested by the said state witness, admitted in open court that she took part in the preparation and
group and her association, nor did Amelia Carmela C. Zoleta and her association receive the processing of a disbursement voucher and its supporting documents involving a cash
aforementioned amount, thereby facilitating the release of the above-mentioned public funds in advance for WIP sometime in 2002. Gadian, likewise, testified that she saw accused
the amount of TWENTY THOUSAND PESOS (₱20,000.00) through encashment by the accused at Constantino, Camanay, Diaz, and Zoleta sign the documents, and she merely followed
the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) Check No. 36481 dated January 24, 2002 issued in the Zoleta’s directive and instructions on the preparation of the disbursement voucher.
name of Violeta Bahilidad, which amount they subsequently misappropriated to their personal Gadian further admitted antedating and changing the date of a January 24, 2002 letter-
use and benefit and despite demand, the said accused failed to return the said amount to the request from WIP to January 7, 2002 in order to make the letter appear authentic.
damage and prejudice of the government and the public interest of the aforesaid sum.
4. Sheryll Desiree Jane Tangan, Local Legislative Staf at the Office of the Vice-Governor
Upon arraignment, accused Constantino, Zoleta and Bahilidad pled not guilty to the charges, in 2002, who also acted as state witness, admitted in open court that, upon orders of
while Camanay and Diaz did not appear and remain at large to date. Thereafter, during the Zoleta, she helped prepare and process the request of WIP. Tangan disclosed that she
pendency of the case, Constantino died. Consequently, the Sandiganbayan granted the motion to was used to signing for other persons, as instructed by Zoleta, whenever their office had
dismiss the case against him. As regards Zoleta and Bahilidad, they posted bail and the case legal transactions; in this instance, she forged the signature of Melanie Remulta, the
against them proceeded to trial. purported secretary of WIP. Tangan then recounted that she accompanied petitioner
Bahilidad to claim and encash the check for WIP. After encashment, Bahilidad gave her a
The prosecution presented in evidence the testimonies of the following persons: white envelope containing the ₱20,000.00 cash. She noticed Bahalidad’s uneasiness. She
was told by Zoleta that Bahilidad was merely a dummy for that disbursement. Tangan
1. Helen Cailing, a State Auditor IV at the Commission on Audit (COA) and leader of the gave the money to Zoleta who told her that she would take care of Bahalidad.
Special Audit Team (SAT) of Sarangani Province. Cailing testified that the SAT, composed
of herself and three (3) members, in the course of the audit, discovered that the voucher

30
The defense presented, as witnesses Bahilidad, Zoleta and Remulta. On the whole, the defense Well-settled is the rule that findings of fact of the trial court are given great respect. But when
denied the prosecution’s charge of malversation. The witnesses testified that WIP and WID were there is a misappreciation of facts as to compel a contrary conclusion, the Court will not hesitate
registered cooperatives. To support her contention that WIP and WID were legitimate to reverse the factual findings of the trial court. In such a case, the scales of justice must tilt in
cooperatives, Bahilidad presented a Certification from Barangay Captain Jose Mosquera favor of an accused, considering that he stands to lose his liberty by virtue of his conviction. The
containing a list of the supposed officers of these cooperatives. Bahilidad insisted that the Court must be satisfied that the factual findings and conclusions of the trial court, leading to an
amount of ₱20,000.00 that she received from the Office of the Vice-Governor was, in turn, accused’s conviction, must satisfy the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
properly distributed by WIP as loans to its members. Remulta corroborated Bahilidad’s story on
this point. As for Zoleta, she completely denied knowing Bahilidad. In the instant case, petitioner was found guilty of conspiring with Zoleta and other public officials
in the commission of the crime of Malversation of Public Funds through Falsification of Public
After trial, the Sandiganbayan found petitioner Bahilidad and Zoleta guilty beyond reasonable Documents. The trial court relied on the dictum that the act of one is the act of all. The
doubt of Malversation of Public Funds through Falsification of Public Documents, and disposed, Sandiganbayan explained petitioner’s complicity in the crime, to wit:
as follows:
The facts taken together would prove the existence of conspiracry. Zoleta, as president of an
ACCORDINGLY, accused Amelia C. Zoleta ("Zoleta") and Violeta Bahilidad ("Bahilidad"), are found inexistent association and a co-terminus employee at the office of her father, [accused
guilty beyond reasonable doubt for Malversation of Public Funds thru Falsification of Public Constantino,] initiated the request for obligation of allotments and certified and proved the
Documents under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Article 171[,] par[.] 2[,] and disbursement voucher. There is no doubt that accused Constantino facilitated the illegal release
Article 48 of the same Code and are sentenced to sufer in prison the penalty of 14 years[,] 8 of the funds by signing the questioned voucher. Without the signatures of accused Constantino,
months and 1 day to 16 years[,] 5 months and 11 days of reclusion temporal. They also have to Zoleta and Bahilidad, the amount could not have been disbursed on that particular day. When the
sufer perpetual disqualification from holding any public office and to pay back the Province of voucher with its supporting documents was presented to accused Constantino, Diaz and Camanay
Sarangani the amount of Php 20,000.00 plus interest on it computed from January 2002 until the for approval and signature, they readily signed them without further ado, despite the lack of
full amount is paid. proper documentation and non-compliance of the rules. Zoleta had contact with the payee of the
check, Bahilidad, and received the amount. Their combined acts, coupled with the falsification of
No pronouncement is made for or against Constantino, said accused having died during the the signature of Remulta, all lead to the conclusion that the accused conspired to defraud the
pendency of this case, his personal and pecuniary penalties and liabilities were totally government.
extinguished upon his death. This Court has already ordered the dismissal of the case against him.
Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission
Since the Court did not acquire jurisdiction over the persons of the other accused, Teodorico Diaz of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy need not be proven by direct evidence and may
and Maria Camanay, the case as it pertains to them is in the meantime archived. It shall be be inferred from the conduct of the accused before, during and after the commission of the
revived when the Court acquires jurisdiction over their person. Let an alias warrant of arrest be crime, which are indicative of a joint purpose, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments. In
then issued against them. conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. Conspiracy is present when one concurs with the
criminal design of another, indicated by the performance of an overt act leading to the crime
Costs against accused Zoleta and Bahilidad.4 committed. It may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the ofense was perpetrated.

Hence, this appeal by Bahilidad, questioning her conviction by the Sandiganbayan. The circumstances that Zoleta placed her initials on the voucher knowing that there was really no
WIP, that the other accused likewise signified their approval to the disbursement and allowed
payment, and that payee received and encashed the check out of the fund of the provincial
We find for petitioner.
government instead of depositing it, shows that there was connivance between the accused. The

31
unavoidable conclusion is that the accused were in cahoots to defraud the provincial government without her signature, the check would not have been encashed, and the funds would not have
and to camouflage the defraudation by using a dummy organization as a payee. 5 been taken from the cofers of the provincial government. Other than her being named as the
payee, however, there were no overt acts attributed to her adequate to hold her equally guilty of
There is conspiracy "when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the the ofense proved. There was no showing that petitioner had a hand in the preparation of the
commission of a felony and decide to commit it." Conspiracy is not presumed. Like the physical requirements submitted for the disbursement of the check. There was no evidence presented
acts constituting the crime itself, the elements of conspiracy must be proven beyond reasonable that she was instrumental to the issuance of the check in favor of WIP, nor was there any showing
doubt. While conspiracy need not be established by direct evidence, for it may be inferred from that she interceded for the approval of the check. Why the check was issued in her name and not
the conduct of the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime, all taken in the name of WIP is beyond cavil, but this was not incumbent upon her to question.
together, however, the evidence must be strong enough to show the community of criminal
design. For conspiracy to exist, it is essential that there must be a conscious design to commit an On being informed by Melanie Remulta that WIP’s request for financial assistance was granted,
ofense. Conspiracy is the product of intentionality on the part of the cohorts. 6 petitioner went to the provincial capitol to claim the check, because the check was issued in her
name as the Treasurer of WIP. She later encashed the check and distributed the proceeds to the
It is necessary that a conspirator should have performed some overt act as a direct or indirect diferent members of WIP. There were acknowledgment receipts dated February 7, 2002, signed
contribution to the execution of the crime committed. The overt act may consist of active by the diferent members of the cooperative, in varying amounts of ₱3,000.00, ₱2,000.00 and
participation in the actual commission of the crime itself, or it may consist of moral assistance to ₱500.00, all of which prove that the amount of ₱20,000.00 was disbursed for the benefit of the
his co-conspirators by being present at the commission of the crime or by exerting moral members of the cooperative.11
ascendancy over the other co-conspirators. 7 Hence, the mere presence of an accused at the
discussion of a conspiracy, even approval of it, without any active participation in the same, is not The Sandiganbayan faulted petitioner for immediately encashing the check, insisting that she
enough for purposes of conviction.81avvphi1 should have deposited the check first. Such insistence is unacceptable. It defies logic. The check
was issued in petitioner’s name and, as payee, she had the authority to encash it. The
In the instant case, we find petitioner’s participation in the crime not adequately proven with Disbursement Voucher (No. 101-2002-01-822) clearly states that she is the WIP treasurer, and the
moral certainty. Undeniably, petitioner, as a private individual, had no hand in the preparation, purpose of the voucher is "to cash advance financial assistance from grants and donations for
processing or disbursement of the check issued in her name. A cursory look at the disbursement Winds Malugon, Sarangani as per supporting papers hereto attached." Petitioner’s action cannot,
voucher (No. 101-2002-01-822) reveals the following signatures: signature of Board Member in itself, be considered as specious. There was no showing that petitioner had foreknowledge of
Teodorico Diaz certifying that the cash advance is necessary, lawful and incurred under his direct any irregularity committed in the processing and disbursement of the check, 12 or that the COA
supervision; signature of Provincial Accountant Camanay certifying to the completeness and Rules required that the check had to be deposited in the bank first, or that an evaluation report
propriety of the supporting documents and to the liquidation of previous cash advances; from the provincial agriculturist had to be submitted. Evil intent must unite with the unlawful act
signature of Moises Magallona, Jr. over the name of Provincial Treasurer Cesar M. Cagang for a crime to exist. Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea. There can be no crime when the
certifying that cash is available; signature of Constantino, with the initials of Zoleta adjacent to his criminal mind is wanting. As a general rule, ignorance or mistake as to particular facts, honest and
name, certifying that the disbursement is approved for payment, and with petitioner’s signature real, will exempt the doer from felonious responsibility. 13
as the payee.9
All told, there is reasonable doubt as to petitioner’s guilt. Where there is reasonable doubt, an
The SAT reported that the check was payable to the alleged Treasurer, Bahalidad, instead of to accused must be acquitted even though his innocence may not have been fully established. When
Women in Progress; that the check was encashed when it should have been for deposit only; and guilt is not proven with moral certainty, exoneration must be granted as a matter of right. 14
that there was also failure of the provincial agriculturist to monitor and submit an evaluation
report on the project.10 Based on this SAT report, the Sandiganbayan particularly pointed to Finally, we reiterate what we have long enjoined:
petitioner’s indispensable participation in the crime, being the payee of the check, because

32
Time and time again, this Court has emphasized the need to stamp out graft and corruption in the G.R. No. 93028 July 29, 1994
government. Indeed, the tentacles of greed must be cut and the ofenders punished. However,
this objective can be accomplished only if the evidence presented by the prosecution passes the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintif-appellee,
test of moral certainty. Where doubt lingers, as in this case, the Court is mandated to uphold the vs.
presumption of innocence guaranteed by our Constitution to the accused. 15 MARTIN SIMON y SUNGA, respondent.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision is SET ASIDE. Petitioner is The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
ACQUITTED on reasonable doubt.
Ricardo M.Sampang for accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.

REGALADO, J.:

Herein accused-appellant Martin Simon y Sunga was charged on November 10, 1988 with a
violation of Section 4, Article II of Republic Act
No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, under an
indictment alleging that on or about October 22, 1988, at Barangay Sto. Cristo, Guagua,
Pampanga, he sold four tea bags of marijuana to a Narcotics Command (NARCOM) poseur-buyer
in consideration of the sum of P40.00, which tea bags, when subjected to laboratory examination,
were found positive for marijuana.1

Eventually arraigned with the assistance of counsel on March 2, 1989, after his rearrest following
his escape from Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga where he was temporarily detained, 2 he
pleaded not guilty. He voluntarily waived his right to a pre-trial conference, 3 after which trial on
the merits ensued and was duly concluded.

The evidence on record shows that a confidential informant, later identified as a NARCOM
operative, informed the police unit at Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga, of the illegal drug
activities of a certain "Alyas Pusa" at Sto. Cristo, Guagua, Pampanga. Capt. Francisco Bustamante,
Commanding Officer of the 3rd Narcotics Regional Unit in the camp, then formed a buy-bust
team composed of Sgt. Buenaventura Lopez, Pfc. Virgilio Villaruz and
Sgt. Domingo Pejoro, all members of the same unit. After securing marked money from
Bustamante, the team, together with their informant, proceeded to Sto. Cristo after they had
coordinated with the police authorities and barangay officers thereof. When they reached the

33
place, the confidential informer pointed out appellant to Lopez who consequently approached blood. In the afternoon, appellant came back with the same complaint but, except for the gastro-
appellant and asked him if he had marijuana. Appellant answered in the affirmative and Lopez intestinal pain, his physical condition remained normal. 8
ofered to buy two tea bags. Appellant then left and, upon returning shortly thereafter, handed to
Lopez two marijuana tea bags and Lopez gave him the marked money amounting to P40.00 as As expected, appellant tendered an antipodal version of the attendant facts, claiming that on the
payment. Lopez then scratched his head as a day in question, at around 4:30 p.m., he was watching television with the members of his family
pre-arranged signal to his companions who were stationed around ten to fifteen meters away, in their house when three persons, whom he had never met before suddenly arrived. Relying on
and the team closed in on them. Thereupon, Villaruz, who was the head of the back-up team, the assurance that they would just inquire about something from him at their detachment,
arrested appellant. The latter was then brought by the team to the 3rd Narcotics Regional Unit at appellant boarded a jeep with them. He was told that they were going to Camp Olivas, but he
Camp Olivas on board a jeep and he was placed under custodial investigation, with Sgt. Pejoro as later noticed that they were taking a diferent route. While on board, he was told that he was a
the investigator.4 pusher so he attempted to alight from the jeep but he was handcufed instead. When they finally
reached the camp, he was ordered to sign some papers and, when he refused, he was boxed in
Pfc. Villaruz corroborated Lopez' testimony, claiming that he saw the deal that transpired the stomach eight or nine times by Sgt. Pejoro. He was then compelled to affix his signature and
between Lopez and the appellant. He also averred that he was the one who confiscated the fingerprints on the documents presented to him. He denied knowledge of the P20.00 or the dried
marijuana and took the marked money from appellant. 5 marijuana leaves, and insisted that the twenty-peso bill came from the pocket of Pejoro.
Moreover, the reason why he vomited blood was because of the blows he sufered at the hands
Sgt. Domingo Pejoro, for his part, declared that although he was part of the buy-bust team, he of Pejoro. He admitted having escaped from the NARCOM office but claimed that he did so since
was stationed farthest from the rest of the other members, that is, around two hundred meters he could no longer endure the maltreatment to which he was being subjected. After escaping, he
away from his companions. He did not actually see the sale that transpired between Lopez and proceeded to the house of his uncle, Bienvenido Sunga, at San Matias, Guagua, reaching the
appellant but he saw his teammates accosting appellant after the latter's arrest. He was likewise place at around 6:30 or 7:30 p.m. There, he consulted a quack doctor and, later, he was
the one who conducted the custodial investigation of appellant wherein the latter was apprised accompanied by his sister to the Romana Pangan District Hospital at Floridablanca, Pampanga
of his rights to remain silent, to information and to counsel. Appellant, however, orally waived his where he was confined for three days.9
right to counsel.6
Appellant's brother, Norberto Simon, testified to the fact that appellant was hospitalized at
Pejoro also claimed having prepared Exhibit "G", the "Receipt of Property Seized/Confiscated" Floridablanca, Pampanga after undergoing abdominal pain and vomiting of blood. He likewise
which appellant signed, admitting therein the confiscation of four tea bags of marijuana dried confirmed that appellant had been sufering from peptic ulcer even before the latter's
leaves in his possession. Pejoro likewise informed the court below that, originally, what he placed arrest.10 Also, Dr. Evelyn Gomez-Aguas, a resident physician of Romana Pangan District Hospital,
on the receipt was that only one marijuana leaf was confiscated in exchange for P20.00. However, declared that she treated appellant for three days due to abdominal pain, but her examination
Lopez and Villaruz corrected his entry by telling him to put "two", instead of "one" and "40", revealed that the cause for this ailment was appellant's peptic ulcer. She did not see any sign of
instead of "20". He agreed to the correction since they were the ones who were personally and slight or serious external injury, abrasion or contusion on his body. 11
directly involved in the purchase of the marijuana and the arrest of appellant. 7
On December 4, 1989, after weighing the evidence presented, the trial court rendered judgment
Dr. Pedro S. Calara, a medical officer at Camp Olivas, examined appellant at 5:30 p.m. of the day convicting appellant for a violation of Section 4, Article II of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended,
after the latter's apprehension, and the results were practically normal except for his relatively and sentencing him to sufer the penalty of life imprisonment, to pay a fine of twenty thousand
high blood pressure. The doctor also did not find any trace of physical injury on the person of pesos and to pay the costs. The four tea bags of marijuana dried leaves were likewise ordered
appellant. The next day, he again examined appellant due to the latter's complaint of confiscated in favor of the Government.12
gastro-intestinal pain. In the course of the examination, Dr. Calara discovered that appellant has a
history of peptic ulcer, which causes him to experience abdominal pain and consequently vomit

34
Appellant now prays the Court to reverse the aforementioned judgment of the lower court, well as the findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses, should prevail over the self-
contending in his assignment of errors that the latter erred in (1) not upholding his defense of serving and uncorroborated claim of appellant of having been framed, 22 erected as it is upon the
"frame-up", (2) not declaring Exhibit "G" (Receipt of Property Seized/Confiscated) inadmissible in mere shifting sands of an alibi. To top it all, appellant was caught
evidence, and (3) convicting him of a violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. 13 red-handed delivering prohibited drugs, and while there was a delimited chance for him to
controvert the charge, he does not appear to have plausibly done so.
At the outset, it should be noted that while the People's real theory and evidence is to the efect
the appellant actually sold only two tea bags of marijuana dried leaves, while the other two tea When the drug seized was submitted to the Crime Laboratory Service of the then Philippine
bags were merely confiscated subsequently from his possession, 14 the latter not being in any way Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) at Camp Olivas for examination, P/Cpl. Marlyn
connected with the sale, the information alleges that he sold and delivered four tea bags of Salangad, a forensic chemist therein,23confirmed in her Technical Report No. NB-448-88 that the
marijuana dried leaves.15 In view thereof, the issue presented for resolution in this appeal is contents of the four tea bags confiscated from appellant were positive for and had a total weight
merely the act of selling the two tea bags allegedly committed by appellant, and does not include of 3.8 grams of marijuana. 24 Thus, the corpus delicti of the crime had been fully proved with
the disparate and distinct issue of illegal possession of the other two tea bags which separate certainty and conclusiveness.25
ofense is not charged herein.16
Appellant would want to make capital of the alleged inconsistencies and improbabilities in the
To sustain a conviction for selling prohibited drugs, the sale must be clearly and unmistakably testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Foremost, according to him, is the matter of who really
established.17 To sell means to give, whether for money or any other material consideration. 18 It confiscated the marijuana tea bags from him since, in open court, Pejoro asserted that he had
must, therefore, be established beyond doubt that appellant actually sold and delivered two tea nothing to do with the confiscation of the marijuana, but in the aforementioned "Receipt of
bags of marijuana dried leaves to Sgt. Lopez, who acted as the poseur-buyer, in exchange for two Property Seized/Confiscated," he signed it as the one who seized the same. 26
twenty-peso bills.
Suffice it to say that whether it was Villaruz or Pejoro who confiscated the marijuana will not
After an assiduous review and calibration of the evidence adduced by both parties, we are really matter since such is not an element of the ofense with which appellant is charged. What is
morally certain that appellant was caught in flagrante delicto engaging in the illegal sale of unmistakably clear is that the marijuana was confiscated from the possession of appellant. Even,
prohibited drugs. The prosecution was able to prove beyond a scintilla of doubt that appellant, on assuming arguendo that the prosecution committed an error on who actually seized the
October 22, 1988, did sell two tea bags of marijuana dried leaves to Sgt. Lopez. The latter himself marijuana from appellant, such an error or discrepancy refers only to a minor matter and, as
creditably testified as to how the sale took place and his testimony was amply corroborated by his such, neither impairs the essential integrity of the prosecution evidence as a whole nor reflects
teammates. As between the straightforward, positive and corroborated testimony of Lopez and on the witnesses' honesty.27 Besides, there was clearly a mere imprecision of language since
the bare denials and negative testimony of appellant, the former undeniably deserves greater Pejoro obviously meant that he did not take part in the physical taking of the drug from the
weight and is more entitled to credence. person of appellant, but he participated in the legalseizure or confiscation thereof as the
investigator of their unit.
We are aware that the practice of entrapping drug traffickers through the utilization of poseur-
buyers is susceptible to mistake, harassment, extortion and abuse. 19 Nonetheless, such causes for Next, appellant adduces the argument that the twenty-peso bills allegedly confiscated from him
judicial apprehension and doubt do not obtain in the case at bar. Appellant's entrapment and were not powdered for finger-printing purposes contrary to the normal procedure in buy-bust
arrest were not efected in a haphazard way, for a surveillance was conducted by the team before operations.28 This omission has been satisfactorily explained by Pfc. Virgilio Villaruz in his
the testimony, as follows:
buy-bust operation was efected.20 No ill motive was or could be attributed to them, aside from
the fact that they are presumed to have regularly performed their official duty. 21 Such lack of Q: Is it the standard operating procedure of your unit that in
dubious motive coupled with the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty, as conducting such operation you do not anymore provide a

35
powder (sic) on the object so as to determine the thumbmark confiscation of another two tea bags of suspected marijuana dried leaves." Below these remarks
or identity of the persons taking hold of the object? was affixed appellant's signature. In the same manner, the receipt for the seized property,
hereinbefore mentioned, was signed by appellant wherein he acknowledged the confiscation of
A: We were not able to put powder on these denominations the marked bills from him.33
because we are lacking that kind of material in our office since
that item can be purchased only in Manila and only few are However, we find and hereby declare the aforementioned exhibits inadmissible in evidence.
producing that, sir. Appellant's conformance to these documents are declarations against interest and tacit
admissions of the crime charged. They were obtained in violation of his right as a person under
xxx xxx xxx custodial investigation for the commission of an ofense, there being nothing in the records to
show that he was assisted by counsel. 34 Although appellant manifested during the custodial
Q: Is it not a fact that your office is within (the) P.C. Crime investigation that he waived his right to counsel, the waiver was not made in writing and in the
Laboratory, CIS, as well as the office of NICA? presence of counsel,35 hence whatever incriminatory admission or confession may be extracted
from him, either verbally or in writing, is not allowable in evidence. 36 Besides, the arrest report is
self-serving and hearsay and can easily be concocted to implicate a suspect.
A: Our office is only adjacent to those offices but we cannot
make a request for that powder because they, themselves, are
using that in their own work, sir.29 Notwithstanding the objectionability of the aforesaid exhibits, appellant cannot thereby be
extricated from his predicament since his criminal participation in the illegal sale of marijuana has
been sufficiently proven. The commission of the ofense of illegal sale of prohibited drugs
The foregoing explanation aside, we agree that the failure to mark the money bills used for
requires merely the consummation of the selling transaction 37 which happens the moment the
entrapment purposes can under no mode of rationalization be fatal to the case of the
buyer receives the drug from the seller. 38 In the present case, and in light of the preceding
prosecution because the Dangerous Drugs Act punishes "any person who, unless authorized by
discussion, this sale has been ascertained beyond any peradventure of doubt.
law, shall sell, administer, deliver, give away to another, distribute, dispatch in transit or transport
any prohibited drug, or shall act as a broker in any of such transactions." 30 The dusting of said bills
with phosphorescent powder is only an evidentiary technique for identification purposes, which Appellant then asseverates that it is improbable that he would sell marijuana to a total
identification can be supplied by other species of evidence. stranger.39 We take this opportunity to once again reiterate the doctrinal rule that drug-pushing,
when done on a small scale as in this case, belongs to that class of crimes that may be committed
at any time and in any place. 40 It is not contrary to human experience for a drug pusher to sell to a
Again, appellant contends that there was neither a relative of his nor any barangay official or
total stranger,41 for what matters is not an existing familiarity between the buyer and seller but
civilian to witness the seizure. He decries the lack of pictures taken before, during and after his
their agreement and the acts constituting the sale and delivery of the marijuana leaves. 42 While
arrest. Moreover, he was not reported to or booked in the custody of any barangay official or
there may be instances where such sale could be improbable, taking into consideration the
police authorities.31 These are absurd disputations. No law or jurisprudence requires that an
diverse circumstances of person, time and place, as well as the incredibility of how the accused
arrest or seizure, to be valid, be witnessed by a relative, a barangay official or any other civilian,
supposedly acted on that occasion, we can safely say that those exceptional particulars are not
or be accompanied by the taking of pictures. On the contrary, the police enforcers having caught
present in this case.
appellant in flagrante delicto, they were not only authorized but were also under the obligation
to efect a warrantless arrest and seizure.
Finally, appellant contends that he was subjected to physical and mental torture by the arresting
officers which caused him to escape from Camp Olivas the night he was placed under
Likewise, contrary to appellant's contention, there was an arrest report prepared by the police in
custody.43 This he asserts to support his explanation as to how his signatures on the documents
connection with his apprehension. Said Booking Sheet and Arrest Report 32 states, inter alia, that
earlier discussed were supposedly obtained by force and coercion.
"suspect was arrested for selling two tea bags of suspected marijuana dried leaves and the

36
The doctrine is now too well embedded in our jurisprudence that for evidence to be believed, it Sec. 4. Sale, Administration, Delivery, Distribution and
must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but must be credible in itself such as Transportation of Prohibited Drugs. — The penalty
the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from five
circumstances.44 The evidence on record is bereft of any support for appellant's allegation of hundred thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be
maltreatment. Two doctors, one for the prosecution 45 and the other for the defense,46 testified on imposed upon any person who, unless authorized by law, shall
the absence of any tell-tale sign or indication of bodily injury, abrasions or contusions on the sell, administer, deliver, give away to another, distribute,
person of appellant. What is evident is that the cause of his abdominal pain was his peptic ulcer dispatch in transit or transport any prohibited drug, or shall
from which he had been sufering even before his arrest. 47 His own brother even corroborated act as a broker in any of such transactions.
that fact, saying that appellant has had a history of bleeding peptic ulcer. 48
xxx xxx xxx
Furthermore, if it is true that appellant was maltreated at Camp Olivas, he had no reason
whatsoever for not divulging the same to his brother who went to see him at the camp after his Sec. 17. Section 20, Article IV of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, known as
arrest and during his detention there. 49Significantly, he also did not even report the matter to the the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, is hereby amended to read as follows:
authorities nor file appropriate charges against the alleged malefactors despite the opportunity
to do so50 and with the legal services of counsel being available to him. Such omissions funnel Sec. 20. Application of Penalties, Confiscation and Forfeiture
down to the conclusion that appellant's story is a pure fabrication. of the Proceeds or Instrument of the Crime. — The penalties
for ofenses under Sections 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 of Article II and
These, and the events earlier discussed, soundly refute his allegations that his arrest was baseless Sections 14, 14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of this Act shall be
and premeditated for the NARCOM agents were determined to arrest him at all applied if the dangerous drugs involved is in any of the
costs.51 Premeditated or not, appellant's arrest was only the culmination, the final act needed for following quantities:
his isolation from society and it was providential that it came about after he was caught in the
very act of illicit trade of prohibited drugs. Accordingly, this opinion could have concluded on a xxx xxx xxx
note of affirmance of the judgment of the trial court. However, Republic Act No. 6425, as
amended, was further amended by Republic Act No. 7659 efective December 31, 1993, 52 which
5. 750 grams or more of indian hemp or marijuana
supervenience necessarily afects the original disposition of this case and entails additional
questions of law which we shall now resolve.
xxx xxx xxx
II
Otherwise, if the quantity involved is less than the foregoing
quantities, the penalty shall range from prision
The provisions of the aforesaid amendatory law, pertinent to the adjudication of the case at bar,
correccional to reclusion perpetua depending upon the
are to this efect:
quantity.

Sec. 13. Sections 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 of Art. II of Republic Act No. 6425, as


1. Considering that herein appellant is being prosecuted for the sale of four tea bags of marijuana
amended, known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, are hereby amended to
with a total weight of only 3.8 grams and, in fact, stands to be convicted for the sale of only two
read as follows:
of those tea bags, the initial inquiry would be whether the patently favorable provisions of
Republic Act
xxx xxx xxx

37
No. 7659 should be given retroactive efect to entitle him to the lesser penalty provided P10,000,000.00 upon any person who shall unlawfully sell, administer, deliver, give away,
thereunder, pursuant to Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code. distribute, dispatch in transit or transport any prohibited drug. That penalty, according to the
amendment to Section 20 of the law, shall be applied if what is involved is 750 grams or more of
Although Republic Act No. 6425 was enacted as a special law, albeit originally amendatory and in indian hemp or marijuana; otherwise, if the quantity involved is less, the penalty shall range
substitution of the previous Articles 190 to 194 of the Revised Penal Code, 53 it has long been from prision correccional to reclusion perpetua depending upon the quantity.
settled that by force of Article 10 of said Code the beneficient provisions of Article 22 thereof
applies to and shall be given retrospective efect to crimes punished by special laws. 54 The In other words, there is here an overlapping error in the provisions on the penalty of reclusion
execution in said article would not apply to those convicted of drug ofenses since habitual perpetua by reason of its dual imposition, that is, as the maximum of the penalty where the
delinquency refers to convictions for the third time or more of the crimes of serious or less marijuana is less than 750 grams, and also as the minimum of the penalty where the marijuana
serious physical injuries, robo, hurto, estafa or falsification.55 involved is 750 grams or more. The same error has been committed with respect to the other
prohibited and regulated drugs provided in said Section 20. To harmonize such conflicting
Since, obviously, the favorable provisions of Republic Act No. 7659 could neither have then been provisions in order to give efect to the whole law, 57 we hereby hold that the penalty to be
involved nor invoked in the present case, a corollary question would be whether this court, at the imposed where the quantity of the drugs involved is less than the quantities stated in the first
present stage, can paragraph shall range from prision correccional to reclusion temporal, and not reclusion perpetua.
sua sponte apply the provisions of said Article 22 to reduce the penalty to be imposed on This is also concordant with the fundamental rule in criminal law that all doubts should be
appellant. That issue has likewise been resolved in the cited case of People vs. Moran, et al., construed in a manner favorable to the accused.
ante., thus:
3. Where, as in this case, the quantity of the dangerous drug is only 3.8 grams, hence covered by
. . . . The plain precept contained in article 22 of the Penal Code, declaring the the imposable range of penalties under the second paragraph of Section 20, as now modified, the
retroactivity of penal laws in so far as they are favorable to persons accused of a law provides that the penalty shall be taken from said range "depending upon the quantity" of the
felony, would be useless and nugatory if the courts of justice were not under drug involved in the case. The penalty in said second paragraph constitutes a complex one
obligation to fulfill such duty, irrespective of whether or not the accused has composed of three distinct penalties, that is, prision correccional,prision mayor, and reclusion
applied for it, just as would also all provisions relating to the prescription of the temporal. In such a situation, the Code provides that each one shall form a period, with the
crime and the penalty. lightest of them being the minimum, the next as the medium, and the most severe as the
maximum period.58
If the judgment which could be afected and modified by the reduced penalties provided in
Republic Act No. 7659 has already become final and executory or the accused is serving sentence Ordinarily, and pursuant to Article 64 of the Code, the mitigating and aggravating circumstances
thereunder, then practice, procedure and pragmatic considerations would warrant and determine which period of such complex penalty
necessitate the matter being brought to the judicial authorities for relief under a writ of habeas shall be imposed on the accused. The peculiarity of the second paragraph of Section 20, however,
corpus.56 is its specific mandate, above quoted, that the penalty shall instead depend upon the quantity of
the drug subject of the criminal transaction. 59 Accordingly, by way of exception to Article 77 of the
2. Probably through oversight, an error on the matter of imposable penalties appears to have Code and to subserve the purpose of Section 20 of Republic Act No. 7659, each of the aforesaid
been committed in the drafting of the aforesaid law; thereby calling for and necessitating judicial component penalties shall be considered as a principal imposable penalty depending on the
reconciliation and craftsmanship. quantity of the drug involved. Thereby, the modifying circumstances will not altogether be
disregarded. Since each component penalty of the total complex penalty will have to be imposed
separately as determined by the quantity of the drug involved, then the modifying circumstances
As applied to the present case, Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, as now further amended,
can be used to fix the proper period of that component penalty, as shall hereafter be explained.
imposes the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to

38
It would, therefore, be in line with the provisions of Section 20 in the context of our aforesaid laws, as provided in Article 10 of the former, cannot be invoked where there is a legal or physical
disposition thereon that, unless there are compelling reasons for a deviation, the quantities of impossibility of, or a prohibition in the special law against, such supplementary application.
the drugs enumerated in its second paragraph be divided into three, with the resulting quotient,
and double or treble the same, to be respectively the bases for allocating the penalty The situation, however, is diferent where although the ofense is defined in and ostensibly
proportionately among the three aforesaid periods according to the severity thereof. Thus, if the punished under a special law, the penalty therefor is actually taken from the Revised Penal Code
marijuana involved is below 250 grams, the penalty to be imposed shall be prision correccional; in its technical nomenclature and, necessarily, with its duration, correlation and legal efects
from 250 to 499 grams, prision mayor; and 500 to under the system of penalties native to said Code. When, as in this case, the law involved speaks
749 grams, reclusion temporal. Parenthetically, fine is imposed as a conjunctive penalty only if the of prision correccional, in its technical sense under the Code, it would consequently be both
penalty is reclusion perpetua to death.60 illogical and absurd to posit otherwise. More on this later.

Now, considering the minimal quantity of the marijuana subject of the case at bar, the penalty For the nonce, we hold that in the instant case the imposable penalty under Republic Act No.
of prision correccional is consequently indicated but, again, another preliminary and cognate 6425, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, is prision correccional, to be taken from the medium
issue has first to be resolved. period thereof pursuant to Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code, there being no attendant
mitigating or aggravating circumstance.
4. Prision correccional has a duration of 6 months and 1 day to 6 years and, as a divisible penalty,
it consists of three periods as provided in the text of and illustrated in the table provided by 5. At this juncture, a clarificatory discussion of the developmental changes in the penalties
Article 76 of the Code. The question is whether or not in determining the penalty to be imposed, imposed for ofenses under special laws would be necessary.
which is here to be taken from the penalty of prision correccional, the presence or absence of
mitigating, aggravating or other circumstances modifying criminal liability should be taken into Originally, those special laws, just as was the conventional practice in the United States but
account. diferently from the penalties provided in our Revised Penal Code and its Spanish origins,
provided for one specific penalty or a range of penalties with definitive durations, such as
We are not unaware of cases in the past wherein it was held that, in imposing the penalty for imprisonment for one year or for one to five years but without division into periods or any
ofenses under special laws, the rules on mitigating or aggravating circumstances under the technical statutory cognomen. This is the special law contemplated in and referred to at the time
Revised Penal Code cannot and should not be applied. A review of such doctrines as applied in laws like the Indeterminate Sentence Law61 were passed during the American regime.
said cases, however, reveals that the reason therefor was because the special laws involved
provided their own specific penalties for the ofenses punished thereunder, and which penalties Subsequently, a diferent pattern emerged whereby a special law would direct that an ofense
were not taken from or with reference to those in the Revised Penal Code. Since the penalties thereunder shall be punished under the Revised Penal Code and in the same manner provided
then provided by the special laws concerned did not provide for the minimum, medium or therein. Inceptively, for instance, Commonwealth Act No. 303 62 penalizing non-payment of
maximum periods, it would consequently be impossible to consider the aforestated modifying salaries and wages with the periodicity prescribed therein, provided:
circumstances whose main function is to determine the period of the penalty in accordance with
the rules in Article 64 of the Code.
Sec. 4. Failure of the employer to pay his employee or laborer as required by
section one of this Act, shall prima facie be considered a fraud committed by
This is also the rationale for the holding in previous cases that the provisions of the Code on the such employer against his employee or laborer by means of false pretenses
graduation of penalties by degrees could not be given supplementary application to special laws, similar to those mentioned in article three hundred and fifteen, paragraph four,
since the penalties in the latter were not components of or contemplated in the scale of penalties sub-paragraph two (a) of the Revised Penal Code and shall be punished in the
provided by Article 71 of the former. The suppletory efect of the Revised Penal Code to special same manner as therein provided.63

39
Thereafter, special laws were enacted where the ofenses defined therein were specifically are special laws, the fact that the penalties for ofenses thereunder are those provided for in the
punished by the penalties as technically named and understood in the Revised Penal Code. These Revised Penal code lucidly reveals the statutory intent to give the related provisions on penalties
are exemplified by Republic Act No. 1700 (Anti-Subversion Act) where the penalties ranged for felonies under the Code the corresponding application to said special laws, in the absence of
from arresto mayor to any express or implicit proscription in these special laws. To hold otherwise would be to sanction
death;64 Presidential Decree No. 1612 (Anti-Fencing Decree) where the penalties run from arresto an indefensible judicial truncation of an integrated system of penalties under the Code and its
mayor to prision mayor; and Presidential Decree allied legislation, which could never have been the intendment of Congress.
No. 1866 (illegal possession and other prohibited acts involving firearms), the penalties wherefor
may involve prision mayor, reclusion temporal, reclusion perpetua or death. In People vs. Macatanda,65 a prosecution under a special law (Presidential Decree No. 533,
otherwise known as the Anti-Cattle Rustling Law of 1974), it was contended by the prosecution
Another variant worth mentioning is Republic Act No. 6539 that Article 64, paragraph 5, of the Revised Penal Code should not apply to said special law. We
(Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972) where the penalty is imprisonment for not less than 14 years and 8 said therein that —
months and not more than 17 years and 4 months, when committed without violence or
intimidation of persons or force upon things; not less than 17 years and 4 months and not more We do not agree with the Solicitor General that P.D. 533 is a special law entirely
than 30 years, when committed with violence against or intimidation of any person, or force upon distinct from and unrelated to the Revised Penal Code. From the nature of the
things; and life imprisonment to death, when the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped penalty imposed which is in terms of the classification and duration of penalties
vehicle is killed. as prescribed in the Revised Penal Code, which is not for penalties as are
ordinarily imposed in special laws, the intent seems clear that P.D. 533 shall be
With respect to the first example, where the penalties under the special law are diferent from deemed as an amendment of the Revised Penal Code, with respect to the
and are without reference or relation to those under the Revised Penal Code, there can be no ofense of theft of large cattle (Art. 310) or otherwise to be subject to applicable
suppletory efect of the rules for the application of penalties under said Code or by other relevant provisions thereof such as Article 104 of the Revised Penal Code . . . . Article 64
statutory provisions based on or applicable only to said rules for felonies under the Code. In this of the same Code should, likewise, be applicable, . . . . (Emphasis supplied.)
type of special law, the legislative intendment is clear.
More particularly with regard to the suppletory efect of the rules on penalties in the Revised
The same exclusionary rule would apply to the last given example, Republic Act No. 6539. While it Penal Code to Republic Act No. 6425, in this case involving Article 63(2) of the Code, we have this
is true that the penalty of 14 years and more recent pronouncement:
8 months to 17 years and 4 months is virtually equivalent to the duration of the medium period
of reclusion temporal,such technical term under the Revised Penal Code is not given to that . . . Pointing out that as provided in Article 10 the provisions of the Revised
penalty for carnapping. Besides, the other penalties for carnapping attended by the qualifying Penal Code shall be "supplementary" to special laws, this Court held that where
circumstances stated in the law do not correspond to those in the Code. The rules on penalties in the special law expressly grants to the court discretion in applying the penalty
the Code, therefore, cannot suppletorily apply to Republic Act No. 6539 and special laws of the prescribed for the ofense, there is no room for the application of the provisions
same formulation. of the Code . . . .

On the other hand, the rules for the application of penalties and the correlative efects thereof The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by P.D. No. 1623, contains no
under the Revised Penal Code, as well as other statutory enactments founded upon and explicit grant of discretion to the Court in the application of the penalty
applicable to such provisions of the Code, have suppletory efect to the penalties under the prescribed by the law. In such case, the court must be guided by the rules
former Republic Act prescribed by the Revised Penal Code concerning the application of
No. 1700 and those now provided under Presidential Decrees Nos. 1612 and 1866. While these

40
penalties which distill the "deep legal thought and centuries of experience in still one or two degrees, which must each likewise consist of three penalties, since only the
the administration of criminal laws." (Emphasis ours.) 66 penalties of fine and public censure remain in the scale.

Under the aforestated considerations, in the case of the Dangerous Drugs Act as now amended The Court rules, therefore, that while modifying circumstances may be appreciated to determine
by Republic Act No. 7659 by the incorporation and prescription therein of the technical penalties the periods of the corresponding penalties, or even reduce the penalty by degrees, in no case
defined in and constituting integral parts of the three scales of penalties in the Code, 67 with should such graduation of penalties reduce the imposable penalty beyond or lower than prision
much more reason should the provisions of said Code on the appreciation and efects of all correccional. It is for this reason that the three component penalties in the second paragraph of
attendant modifying circumstances apply in fixing the penalty. Likewise, the diferent kinds or Section 20 shall each be considered as an independent principal penalty, and that the lowest
classifications of penalties and the rules for graduating penalty should in any event be prision correccional in order not to depreciate the seriousness of
such penalties by degrees should have supplementary efect on Republic Act No. 6425, except if drug ofenses. Interpretatio fienda est ut res magis valeat quam pereat. Such interpretation is to
they would result in absurdities as will now be explained. be adopted so that the law may continue to have efficacy rather than fail. A perfect judicial
solution cannot be forged from an imperfect law, which impasse should now be the concern of
While not squarely in issue in this case, but because this aspect is involved in the discussion on and is accordingly addressed to Congress.
the role of modifying circumstances, we have perforce to lay down the caveat that mitigating
circumstances should be considered and applied only if they afect the periods and the degrees of 6. The final query is whether or not the Indeterminate Sentence Law is applicable to the case now
the penalties within rational limits. before us. Apparently it does, since drug ofenses are not included in nor has appellant
committed any act which would put him within the exceptions to said law and the penalty to be
Prefatorily, what ordinarily are involved in the graduation and consequently determine the degree imposed does not involve reclusion perpetua or death, provided, of course, that the penalty as
of the penalty, in accordance with the rules in Article 61 of the Code as applied to the scale of ultimately resolved will exceed one year of imprisonment. 68 The more important aspect, however,
penalties in Article 71, are the stage of execution of the crime and the nature of the participation is how the indeterminate sentence shall be ascertained.
of the accused. However, under paragraph 5 of Article 64, when there are two or more ordinary
mitigating circumstances and no aggravating circumstance, the penalty shall be reduced by It is true that Section 1 of said law, after providing for indeterminate sentence for an ofense
one degree. Also, the presence of privileged mitigating circumstances, as provided in Articles 67 under the Revised Penal Code, states that "if the ofense is punished by any other law, the court
and 68, can reduce the penalty by one or two degrees, or even more. These provisions of Articles shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not
64(5), 67 and 68 should not apply in toto in the determination of the proper penalty under the exceed the maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the minimum
aforestated second paragraph of section 20 of Republic Act No. 6425, to avoid anomalous results term prescribed by the same." We hold that this quoted portion of the section indubitably refers
which could not have been contemplated by the legislature. to an ofense under a special law wherein the penalty imposed was not taken from and is without
reference to the Revised Penal Code, as discussed in the preceding illustrations, such that it may
Thus, paragraph 5 of Article 61 provides that when the law prescribes a penalty in some manner be said that the "ofense is punished" under that law.
not specially provided for in the four preceding paragraphs thereof, the courts shall proceed by
analogy therewith. Hence, when the penalty prescribed for the crime consists of one or two There can be no sensible debate that the aforequoted rule on indeterminate sentence for
penalties to be imposed in their full extent, the penalty next lower in degree shall likewise consist ofenses under special laws was necessary because of the nature of the former type of penalties
of as many penalties which follow the former in the scale in Article 71. If this rule were to be under said laws which were not included or contemplated in the scale of penalties in Article 71 of
applied, and since the complex penalty in this the Code, hence there could be no minimum "within the range of the penalty next lower to that
case consists of three discrete penalties in their full extent, that is, prescribed by the Code for the ofense," as is the rule for felonies therein. In the illustrative
prision correccional, prision mayor and reclusion temporal, then one degree lower would examples of penalties in special laws hereinbefore provided, this rule applied, and would still
be arresto menor, destierro and arresto mayor. There could, however, be no further reduction by apply, only to the first and last examples. Furthermore, considering the vintage of Act No. 4103 as

41
earlier noted, this holding is but an application and is justified under the rule of contemporanea The indeterminate Sentence Law is a legal and social measure of compassion, and should be
expositio.69 liberally interpreted in favor of the accused. 72 The "minimum" sentence is merely a period at
which, and not before, as a matter of grace and not of right, the prisoner may merely be allowed
We repeat, Republic Act No. 6425, as now amended by Republic Act No. 7659, has unqualifiedly to serve the balance of his sentence outside of his confinement. 73 It does not constitute the
adopted the penalties under the Revised Penal Code in their technical terms, hence with their totality of the penalty since thereafter he still has to continue serving the rest of his sentence
technical signification and efects. In fact, for purposes of determining the maximum of said under set conditions. That minimum is only the period when the convict's eligibility for parole
sentence, we may be considered. In fact, his release on parole may readily be denied if he is found unworthy
have applied the provisions of the amended Section 20 of said law to arrive at prision thereof, or his reincarceration may be ordered on legal grounds, even if he has served the
correccional and Article 64 of the Code to impose the same in the medium period. Such ofense, minimum sentence.
although provided for in a special law, is now in efect punished by and under the Revised Penal
Code. Correlatively, to determine the minimum, we must apply the first part of the aforesaid It is thus both amusing and bemusing if, in the case at bar, appellant should be begrudged the
Section 1 which directs that "in imposing a prison sentence for an ofense punished by the benefit of a minimum sentence within the range of arresto mayor, the penalty next lower
Revised Penal Code, or its amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate to prision correccional which is the maximum range we have fixed through the application of
sentence the maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, Articles 61 and 71 of the Revised Penal Code. For, with fealty to the law, the court may set the
could be properly imposedunder the rules of said Code, and the minimum which shall be within minimum sentence at 6 months of arresto mayor, instead of 6 months and 1 day of prision
the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the ofense." (Emphasis correccional. The diference, which could thereby even involve only one day, is hardly worth the
ours.) creation of an overrated tempest in the judicial teapot.

A divergent pedantic application would not only be out of context but also an admission of the ACCORDINGLY, under all the foregoing premises, the judgment of conviction rendered by the
hornbook maxim that qui haeret in litera haeret in cortice. Fortunately, this Court has never gone court a quo against accused-appellant Martin Simon y Sunga is AFFIRMED, but with the
only skin-deep in its construction of Act. No. 4103 by a mere literal appreciation of its provisions. MODIFICATION that he should be, as he hereby is, sentenced to serve an indeterminate penalty
Thus, with regard to the phrase in Section 2 thereof excepting from its coverage "persons of six (6) months of arresto mayor, as the minimum, to six (6) years of prision correccional, as the
convicted of ofenses punished with death penalty or life imprisonment," we have held that what maximum thereof.
is considered is the penalty actually imposed and not the penalty imposable under the law, 70and
that reclusion perpetua is likewise embraced therein although what the law states is "life SO ORDERED.
imprisonment".
Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Romero, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ.,
What irresistibly emerges from the preceding disquisition, therefore, is that under the concur.
concurrence of the principles of literal interpretation, which have been rationalized by
comparative decisions of this Court; of historical interpretation, as explicated by the antecedents Bellosillo, J., is on leave.
of the law and related contemporaneous legislation; and of structural interpretation, considering
the interrelation of the penalties in the Code as supplemented by Act No. 4103 in an integrated
scheme of penalties, it follows that the minimum of the indeterminate sentence in this case shall
be the penalty next lower to that prescribed for the ofense. Thereby we shall have interpreted
the seeming ambiguity in Section 1 of Act No. 4103 in such a way as to harmonize laws with laws,
which is the best mode of interpretation.71

42
Separate Opinions if the offense is punished by any other law, the court shall sentence the accused
to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the
maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the
minimum prescribed by the same (Emphasis supplied).
DAVIDE, JR., J., concurring and dissenting:
There are, therefore, two categories of ofenses which should be taken into account in the
I am still unable to agree with the view that (a) in appropriate cases where the penalty to be application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law: (1) ofenses punished by the Revised Penal Code,
imposed would beprision correccional pursuant to the second paragraph of Section 20 of R.A. No. and (2) ofenses punished by other laws (or special laws).
6425, as amended by Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659, the sentence to be meted out, applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law (Act No. 4103, as amended), should be that whose minimum is The ofenses punished by the Revised Penal Code are those defined and penalized in Book II
within the range of the penalty next lower, i.e., arresto mayor; and (b) the presence of two or thereof, which is thus appropriately titled CRIMES AND PENALTIES. To simplify further, a crime is
more mitigating circumstances not ofset by any mitigating circumstances or of a privileged deemed punished under the Revised Penal Code if it is defined by it, and none other, as a crime
mitigating circumstance shall not reduce the penalty by one or two degrees if the penalty to be and is punished by a penalty which is included in the classification of Penalties in Chapter II, Title
imposed, taking into account the quantity of the dangerous drugs involved, would be prision III of Book I thereof.
correccional.
On the other hand, an ofense is considered punished under any other law (or special law) if it is
I not defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code but by such other law.

The first view is based on the proposition that since R.A. No. 7659 had unqualifiedly adopted the It is thus clear that an ofense is punished by the Revised Penal Code if both its definition and the
penalties under the Revised Penal Code in their technical terms, hence also their technical penalty therefor are found in the said Code, and it is deemed punished by a special law if its
signification and efects, then what should govern is the first part of Section 1 of the definition and the penalty therefor are found in the special law. That the latter imports or
Indeterminate Sentence Law which directs that: borrows from the Revised Penal Code its nomenclature of penalties does not make an ofense in
the special law punished by or punishable under the Revised Penal Code. The reason is quite
in imposing a prison sentence for an ofense punished by the Revised Penal simple. It is still the special law that defines the ofense and imposes a penalty therefor, although
Code, or its amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an it adopts the Code's nomenclature of penalties. In short, the mere use by a special law of a
indeterminate sentence the maximum term of which shall be that which, in penalty found in the Revised Penal Code can by no means make an ofense thereunder an ofense
view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the rules "punished or punishable" by the Revised Penal Code.
of the said Code, and the minimum which shall be within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the ofense. Thus, I cannot subscribe to the view that since R.A. No. 7659 had adopted the penalties
prescribed by the Revised Penal Code in drug cases, ofenses related to drugs should now be
Elsewise stated, by the adoption of the penalties provided for in the Revised Penal Code for the considered as punished under the Revised Penal Code. If that were so, then we are also bound,
ofenses penalized under the Dangerous Drugs Act (R.A. No. 6425), as amended, the latter ineluctably, to declare that such ofenses are mala in se and to apply the Articles of the Revised
ofenses would now be considered as punished under the Revised Penal Code for purposes of the Penal Code regarding the stages of a felony (Article 6), the nature of participation (Article 16),
Indeterminate Sentence Law. accessory penalties (Articles 40-45), application of penalties to principals, accomplices, and
accessories (Article 46 et seq.), complex crimes (Article 48), and graduation of penalties (Article
61), among others. We cannot do otherwise without being drawn to an inconsistent posture
Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law (Act. No. 4103, as amended by Act. No. 4225 and
which is extremely hard to justify.
R.A. No. 4203) also provides that:

43
I respectfully submit then that the adoption by the Dangerous Drugs Act of the penalties in the Simply put, this rule would allow the reduction from reclusion
Revised Penal Code does not make an ofense under the Dangerous Drugs Act an temporal — if it is the penalty to be imposed on the basis of the quantity of the drugs involved —
ofense punished by the Revised Penal Code. Consequently, where the proper penalty to be by two degrees, or to prision correccional, if there are two or more mitigating circumstances and
imposed under Section 20 of the Dangerous Drugs Act is prisioncorreccional, then, applying the no aggravating circumstance is present (paragraph 5, Article 64, Revised Penal Code) or if there is
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the indeterminate sentence to be meted on the accused should be a privileged mitigating circumstances of, say, minority (Article 68, Revised Penal Code), or under
that whose minimum should not be less than the minimum prescribed by the special law (the circumstances covered by Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code. Yet, if the proper penalty to be
Dangerous Drugs Act), i.e., not lower than six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correccional. imposed is prision mayor, regardless of the fact that a reduction by two degrees is proper, it
should only be reduced by one degree because the rule does not allow a reduction
II beyond prision correccional. Finally, if the proper penalty to be imposed is prision correccional, no
reduction at all would be allowed.
The majority opinion holds the view that while the penalty provided for in Section 20 of the
Dangerous Drugs Act is a complex one composed of three distinct penalties, viz., prision I find the justification for the rule to be arbitrary and unfair. It is arbitrary because within the
correccional, prision mayor, and reclusion temporal,and that pursuant to Article 77 of the Revised same second paragraph involving the same range of penalty, we both allow and disallow the
Penal Code, each should form a period, with the lightest of them being the minimum, the next as application of Article 64(5), Article 68, and Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code. The reason for
the medium, and the most severe as the maximum, yet, considering that under the said second the disallowance, viz., in order not to depreciate the seriousness of drug ofenses, is unconvincing
paragraph of Section 20 the penalty depends on the quantity of the drug subject of the criminal because Section 20 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, as amended by R.A.
transaction, then by way of exception to Article 77 of the Revised Penal Code and to subserve the No. 7659, has in fact "depreciated" the seriousness of drug ofenses by providing quantity as basis
purpose of Section 20, as amended, each of the aforesaid component penalties shall be for the determination of the proper penalty and limiting fine only to cases punishable
considered as a principal penalty depending on the quantity of the drug involved. Thereafter, by reclusion perpetua to death. It is unfair because an accused who is found guilty of possessing
applying the modifying circumstances pursuant to Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code, the MORE dangerous
proper period of the component penalty shall then be fixed. drugs — say 500 to 749 grams of marijuana, in which case the penalty to be imposed would
be reclusion temporal— may only be sentenced to six (6) months and one (1) day of prision
To illustrate, if the quantity of the drugs involved (e.g., marijuana below 250 grams) the proper correccional minimum because of privileged mitigating circumstances. Yet, an accused who is
principal penalty should be prision correccional, but there is one mitigating and no aggravating found guilty of possession of only one (1) gram of marijuana — in which case the penalty to be
circumstance, then the penalty to be imposed should be prision correccional in its minimum imposed is prision correccional — would not be entitled to a reduction thereof even if he has the
period. Yet, the majority opinion puts a limit to such a rule. It declares: same number of privileged mitigating circumstances as the former has.

The Court rules, therefore, that while modifying circumstances may be Also, if the privileged mitigating circumstance happens to be the minority of the accused, then he
appreciated to determine the periods of the corresponding penalties, or even is entitled to the reduction of the penalty as a matter of right pursuant to Article 68 of the
reduce the penalty by degrees, in no case should such graduation of penalties Revised Penal Code, which reads:
reduce the imposable penalty beyond or lower than
prision correccional. It is for this reason that the three component penalties in Art. 68. Penalty to be imposed upon a person under eighteen years of age. —
the second paragraph of Section 20 shall each be considered as an independent When the ofender is a minor under eighteen years and his case is one coming
principal penalty, and that the lowest penalty should in any event be prision under the provisions of the paragraph next to the last of Article 80 of this Code,
correccional in order to depreciate the seriousness of drug ofenses. the following rules shall be observed:

44
1. Upon a person under fifteen but over nine years of age, signification and efects, then what should govern is the first part of Section 1 of the
who is not exempted from liability by reason of the court Indeterminate Sentence Law which directs that:
having declared that he acted with discernment, a
discretionary penalty shall be imposed, but always lower by in imposing a prison sentence for an ofense punished by the Revised Penal
two degrees at least than that prescribed by law for the crime Code, or its amendments, the court shall sentence the accused to an
which he committed. indeterminate sentence the maximum term of which shall be that which, in
view of the attending circumstances, could be properly imposed under the rules
2. Upon a person over fifteen and under eighteen years of age of the said Code, and the minimum which shall be within the range of the
the penalty next lover than that prescribed by law shall be penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the ofense.
imposed, but always in the proper period.
Elsewise stated, by the adoption of the penalties provided for in the Revised Penal Code for the
I do not think that as to the second paragraph of Section 20 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, as ofenses penalized under the Dangerous Drugs Act (R.A. No. 6425), as amended, the latter
amended by Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659, we can be at liberty to apply the Revised Penal Code in ofenses would now be considered as punished under the Revised Penal Code for purposes of the
one aspect and not to apply it in another. Indeterminate Sentence Law.

Feliciano and Quiason, JJ., concur. Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law (Act. No. 4103, as amended by Act. No. 4225 and
R.A. No. 4203) also provides that:

if the offense is punished by any other law, the court shall sentence the accused
# Separate Opinions to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the
maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the
DAVIDE, JR., J., concurring and dissenting: minimum prescribed by the same (Emphasis supplied).

I am still unable to agree with the view that (a) in appropriate cases where the penalty to be There are, therefore, two categories of ofenses which should be taken into account in the
imposed would beprision correccional pursuant to the second paragraph of Section 20 of R.A. No. application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law: (1) ofenses punished by the Revised Penal Code,
6425, as amended by Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659, the sentence to be meted out, applying the and (2) ofenses punished by other laws (or special laws).
Indeterminate Sentence Law (Act No. 4103, as amended), should be that whose minimum is
within the range of the penalty next lower, i.e., arresto mayor; and (b) the presence of two or The ofenses punished by the Revised Penal Code are those defined and penalized in Book II
more mitigating circumstances not ofset by any mitigating circumstances or of a privileged thereof, which is thus appropriately titled CRIMES AND PENALTIES. To simplify further, a crime is
mitigating circumstance shall not reduce the penalty by one or two degrees if the penalty to be deemed punished under the Revised Penal Code if it is defined by it, and none other, as a crime
imposed, taking into account the quantity of the dangerous drugs involved, would be prision and is punished by a penalty which is included in the classification of Penalties in Chapter II, Title
correccional. III of Book I thereof.

I On the other hand, an ofense is considered punished under any other law (or special law) if it is
not defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code but by such other law.
The first view is based on the proposition that since R.A. No. 7659 had unqualifiedly adopted the
penalties under the Revised Penal Code in their technical terms, hence also their technical

45
It is thus clear that an ofense is punished by the Revised Penal Code if both its definition and the purpose of Section 20, as amended, each of the aforesaid component penalties shall be
penalty therefor are found in the said Code, and it is deemed punished by a special law if its considered as a principal penalty depending on the quantity of the drug involved. Thereafter,
definition and the penalty therefor are found in the special law. That the latter imports or applying the modifying circumstances pursuant to Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code, the
borrows from the Revised Penal Code its nomenclature of penalties does not make an ofense in proper period of the component penalty shall then be fixed.
the special law punished by or punishable under the Revised Penal Code. The reason is quite
simple. It is still the special law that defines the ofense and imposes a penalty therefor, although To illustrate, if the quantity of the drugs involved (e.g., marijuana below 250 grams) the proper
it adopts the Code's nomenclature of penalties. In short, the mere use by a special law of a principal penalty should be prision correccional, but there is one mitigating and no aggravating
penalty found in the Revised Penal Code can by no means make an ofense thereunder an ofense circumstance, then the penalty to be imposed should be prision correccional in its minimum
"punished or punishable" by the Revised Penal Code. period. Yet, the majority opinion puts a limit to such a rule. It declares:

Thus, I cannot subscribe to the view that since R.A. No. 7659 had adopted the penalties The Court rules, therefore, that while modifying circumstances may be
prescribed by the Revised Penal Code in drug cases, ofenses related to drugs should now be appreciated to determine the periods of the corresponding penalties, or even
considered as punished under the Revised Penal Code. If that were so, then we are also bound, reduce the penalty by degrees, in no case should such graduation of penalties
ineluctably, to declare that such ofenses are mala in se and to apply the Articles of the Revised reduce the imposable penalty beyond or lower than
Penal Code regarding the stages of a felony (Article 6), the nature of participation (Article 16), prision correccional. It is for this reason that the three component penalties in
accessory penalties (Articles 40-45), application of penalties to principals, accomplices, and the second paragraph of Section 20 shall each be considered as an independent
accessories (Article 46 et seq.), complex crimes (Article 48), and graduation of penalties (Article principal penalty, and that the lowest penalty should in any event be prision
61), among others. We cannot do otherwise without being drawn to an inconsistent posture correccional in order to depreciate the seriousness of drug ofenses.
which is extremely hard to justify.
Simply put, this rule would allow the reduction from reclusion
I respectfully submit then that the adoption by the Dangerous Drugs Act of the penalties in the temporal — if it is the penalty to be imposed on the basis of the quantity of the drugs involved —
Revised Penal Code does not make an ofense under the Dangerous Drugs Act an by two degrees, or to prision correccional, if there are two or more mitigating circumstances and
ofense punished by the Revised Penal Code. Consequently, where the proper penalty to be no aggravating circumstance is present (paragraph 5, Article 64, Revised Penal Code) or if there is
imposed under Section 20 of the Dangerous Drugs Act is prisioncorreccional, then, applying the a privileged mitigating circumstances of, say, minority (Article 68, Revised Penal Code), or under
Indeterminate Sentence Law, the indeterminate sentence to be meted on the accused should be circumstances covered by Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code. Yet, if the proper penalty to be
that whose minimum should not be less than the minimum prescribed by the special law (the imposed is prision mayor, regardless of the fact that a reduction by two degrees is proper, it
Dangerous Drugs Act), i.e., not lower than six (6) months and one (1) day of prision correccional. should only be reduced by one degree because the rule does not allow a reduction
beyond prision correccional. Finally, if the proper penalty to be imposed is prision correccional, no
II reduction at all would be allowed.

The majority opinion holds the view that while the penalty provided for in Section 20 of the I find the justification for the rule to be arbitrary and unfair. It is arbitrary because within the
Dangerous Drugs Act is a complex one composed of three distinct penalties, viz., prision same second paragraph involving the same range of penalty, we both allow and disallow the
correccional, prision mayor, and reclusion temporal,and that pursuant to Article 77 of the Revised application of Article 64(5), Article 68, and Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code. The reason for
Penal Code, each should form a period, with the lightest of them being the minimum, the next as the disallowance, viz., in order not to depreciate the seriousness of drug ofenses, is unconvincing
the medium, and the most severe as the maximum, yet, considering that under the said second because Section 20 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, as amended by R.A.
paragraph of Section 20 the penalty depends on the quantity of the drug subject of the criminal No. 7659, has in fact "depreciated" the seriousness of drug ofenses by providing quantity as basis
transaction, then by way of exception to Article 77 of the Revised Penal Code and to subserve the for the determination of the proper penalty and limiting fine only to cases punishable

46
by reclusion perpetua to death. It is unfair because an accused who is found guilty of possessing
MORE dangerous
drugs — say 500 to 749 grams of marijuana, in which case the penalty to be imposed would
be reclusion temporal— may only be sentenced to six (6) months and one (1) day of prision
correccional minimum because of privileged mitigating circumstances. Yet, an accused who is
found guilty of possession of only one (1) gram of marijuana — in which case the penalty to be
imposed is prision correccional — would not be entitled to a reduction thereof even if he has the
same number of privileged mitigating circumstances as the former has.

Also, if the privileged mitigating circumstance happens to be the minority of the accused, then he
is entitled to the reduction of the penalty as a matter of right pursuant to Article 68 of the
Revised Penal Code, which reads:

Art. 68. Penalty to be imposed upon a person under eighteen years of age. —
When the ofender is a minor under eighteen years and his case is one coming
under the provisions of the paragraph next to the last of Article 80 of this Code,
the following rules shall be observed:

1. Upon a person under fifteen but over nine years of age,


who is not exempted from liability by reason of the court
having declared that he acted with discernment, a
discretionary penalty shall be imposed, but always lower by
two degrees at least than that prescribed by law for the crime
which he committed.

2. Upon a person over fifteen and under eighteen years of age


the penalty next lover than that prescribed by law shall be
imposed, but always in the proper period.

I do not think that as to the second paragraph of Section 20 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, as
amended by Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659, we can be at liberty to apply the Revised Penal Code in
one aspect and not to apply it in another.

Feliciano and Quiason, JJ., concur.

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