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CASES FOR TRIAL TECHNIQUE Thereafter, the buy-bust team proceeded to Biak-na-Bato corner Mauban Streets, Quezon City

ded to Biak-na-Bato corner Mauban Streets, Quezon City and


arrived there at around 9:30 a.m. The informant introduced PO2 Ibasco to the accused, who was
1. G.R. No. 185717 June 8, 2011 standing in front of a shanty, as wanting to buy shabu. The accused asked for PhP 100, and when PO2
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, Ibasco paid the amount, the former handed over to him a white crystalline substance in a plastic
vs. sachet. Upon PO2 Ibascos prearranged signal, the other members of the buy-bust team approached
GARRY DE LA CRUZ y DELA CRUZ, Accused-Appellant. them. The accused, sensing what was happening, ran towards the shanty but was caught by PO1
DECISION Valencia at the alley. PO1 Valencia introduced himself as a police officer and frisked the accused, in the
VELASCO, JR., J.: process recovering the buy-bust money.
The Case
The buy-bust team then brought the accused to the station. The accused was turned over to the desk
This is an appeal from the Decision1 dated June 30, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR- officer on duty, along with the substance in the sachet bought from him and the recovered buy-bust
H.C. No. 02727, which affirmed in toto the February 8, 2007 Decision2 in Criminal Case No. Q-03- money. After inquest, the Information was filed on June 3, 2003. Accused was then committed to the
117814 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 82 in Quezon City. The RTC found accused Garry de Quezon City Jail.6
la Cruz y dela Cruz (Garry) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 5, Article II of Republic
Act No. (RA) 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. Consequently, the substance inside the sachet believed to be shabu was sent to and examined by a
Philippine National Police forensic chemist, Engr. Leonard Jabonillo (Engr. Jabonillo). The laboratory
The Facts result confirmed that the substance was positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.

In an Information3 filed on June 3, 2003, accused was indicted for the crime allegedly committed as Only PO2 Ibasco and PO1 Valencia testified for the prosecution during the trial. The testimony of Engr.
follows: Jabonillo was dispensed with upon stipulation by the defense.

That on or about the 29th of May, 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, not being Version of the Defense
authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any dangerous drug, did, then and
there, willfully and unlawfully sell, dispense, deliver, transport, distribute or act as broker in the said The accused denied selling shabu to PO2 Ibasco. In short, the accused used the defense of denial and
transaction, zero point zero two (0.02) gram of methylamphetamine hydrochloride, a dangerous drug. alleged a frame-up by the arresting officers.

CONTRARY TO LAW. The accused testified that he was arrested on May 29, 2003 at around 9:00 a.m. inside his house at
Barangay Manresa, Quezon City while he was alone drinking coffee. While two neighbors were talking
4
Upon arraignment on July 28, 2003, accused pleaded "not guilty" to the above charge. Trial on the 5 in front of his house, a Tamaraw FX arrived. Five armed men alighted from it, whereupon his neighbors
merits ensued. ran away and were chased by them. The armed men then returned, saying, "Nakatakas, nakatakbo."
(They had escaped and ran.) One of the armed men saw the accused and entered his house. It was
PO2 Ibasco, who frisked him and got PhP 60 from his pocket. PO1 Valencia also entered his house and
Version of the Prosecution came out with a shoe box, then said, "Sige, isakay nyo na." (Take him in the car.) He asked the armed
men what his violation was but was told to merely explain at the precinct.
After conducting surveillance for a week, the Station Drug Enforcement Unit in La Loma, Quezon City
planned a buy-bust operation against a certain Garry who was in the Barangay Watch List. The In the police precinct, he was investigated and subsequently detained. They showed him a plastic
operation was coordinated with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). sachet which they allegedly recovered from him. Then a man approached him and demanded PhP
30,000 for his release, but he said he did not have the money. Thereafter, he was presented for
On May 29, 2003, at around 9:00 a.m., the stations Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Police Inspector Oliver inquest.
Villanueva (P/Insp. Villanueva), gave a briefing on the buy-bust operation. Police Officer 2 Edcel Ibasco
(PO2 Ibasco) was designated as poseur-buyer, while PO1 Roderick Valencia (PO1 Valencia), PO1 A witness, Rodolfo Buencamino (Buencamino), narrated that in the morning of May 29, 2003, he called
Alfredo Mabutol, and PO2 Ronald Pascual were assigned as back-up operatives. Their informant the police precinct to have a certain "Taba," an alleged drug pusher in their area, arrested. PO2 Ibasco
attended the briefing. and other police officers responded immediately. When the police officers arrived, Buencamino pointed
to "Taba," who, however, was able to evade arrest. Thereafter, he was surprised to see the accused

1|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
inside the vehicle of the policemen. But he did not know why and where the accused was arrested since The Ruling of the CA
he did not witness the actual arrest.
On June 30, 2008, the appellate court rendered the appealed decision, wholly affirming the findings of
Another witness, Marbelita Collado Lepiten (Lepiten), testified that she was at the terrace of her house the RTC and the conviction of appellant. The fallo reads:
on 135 Manba St., Manresa, San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, when she noticed the accused
talking to a certain "Taba," a resident of the area. When a maroon Tamaraw FX stopped in front of the WHEREFORE, premises considered, herein appeal is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision supra is
house of accused, "Taba" ran away and was pursued by two men who alighted from the vehicle. The hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
two men returned without "Taba," who evidently escaped, and entered the house of the accused. She
did not know what happened inside the house but she eventually saw the men push the accused
outside into their vehicle. SO ORDERED.

The CA upheld the findings of the trial court that the essential elements required for the conviction of
The Ruling of the RTC
an accused for violation of Sec. 5, Art. II of RA 9165 were present in the instant case. The appellate
court brushed aside the irregularities raised by accused-appellant by putting premium credence on the
On February 8, 2007, the RTC rendered its Decision finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt testimonies of the arresting police officers, who positively identified accused-appellant in open court.
of the offense charged. The dispositive portion reads: One with the trial court, the CA found no improper motive on the part of the police officers who, it said,
were regularly performing their official duties. Besides, relying on People v. Barlaan,10 the CA held that
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused GARRY DELA CRUZ guilty beyond the irregularities raised that there was no coordination with the PDEA and that no inventory was made
reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. No. 9165, and hereby sentencing him to and no photograph taken of the seized drug, if true, did not invalidate the legitimate buy-bust operation
suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine in the amount of FIVE HUNDRED conducted. Moreover, the CA found that the corpus delicti, i.e., the confiscated shabu and the PhP 100
THOUSAND (P500,000.00) PESOS. bill, were presented as evidence of the commission of the offense.

SO ORDERED. The CA also ruled that accused-appellants mere denial, as corroborated by Buencamino and Lepiten,
deserved scant consideration vis--vis the positive identification by the arresting officers who arrested
In convicting the accused, the RTC relied on and gave credence to the testimony of prosecution him in flagrante delicto. Anent the questioned chain of custody, the CA found it unbroken and duly
witnesses PO2 Ibasco and PO1 Valencia. Citing People v. Jubail,7 which enumerated the elements proven by the prosecution.
required to be established by the prosecution for the illegal sale of prohibited drugs, the trial court
found that the prosecution had established the elements of the crime. The Issues

The RTC pointed out that Buencamino may, indeed, have called the police to arrest a certain "Taba," an Hence, We have this appeal.
alleged pusher in the area, but he was not present when the accused was arrested. The trial court
likewise did not accord evidentiary weight to the testimony of Lepiten, who testified that she saw the Only accused-appellant, however, filed his Manifestation (In Lieu of Supplemental Brief), 11 while the
accused talking to "Taba" and that when the police officers entered the house of the accused, she was Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing the People of the Philippines, submitted neither a
unaware of what transpired inside. Thus, the RTC concluded that her testimony did not provide clear Manifestation nor a Motion. Consequently, on July 27, 2009, the Court dispensed with the OSGs
and convincing justification to cast doubt on the candid and straightforward testimonies of the police submission of a supplemental brief.12 Since no new issues are raised nor supervening events transpired,
officers. We scrutinize the Brief for the Accused-Appellant13 and the Brief for the Plaintiff-Appellee,14 filed in CA-
G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02727, in resolving the instant appeal.
Applying the presumption of the performance of official function, the lack of showing any ill motive on
the part of the police officers to testify against the accused, and the principle that the bare denial of an Thus, accused-appellant raises the same assignment of errors, in that:
accused is inherently weak, the RTC convicted the accused.
I
Consequently, with his conviction, the accused started to serve his sentence 8 and was subsequently
committed to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT OF VIOLATION OF SECTION 5, ARTICLE II, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 9165.
Aggrieved, accused appealed9 his conviction before the CA.
2|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
II and its payment. What is material is the proof that the transaction actually took place, coupled with the
presentation before the court of the corpus delicti.18
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO ACCUSED-
APPELLANTS DEFENSE OF DENIAL.15 In People v. Doria,19 the Court laid down the "objective test" in determining the credibility of
prosecution witnesses regarding the conduct of buy-bust operations. It is the duty of the prosecution to
The Courts Ruling present a complete picture detailing the buy-bust operation"from the initial contact between the
poseur-buyer and the pusher, the offer to purchase, the promise or payment of the consideration until
the consummation of the sale by the delivery of the illegal drug subject of sale."20 We said that "[t]he
The appeal is meritorious. manner by which the initial contact was made, x x x the offer to purchase the drug, the payment of the
buy-bust money, and the delivery of the illegal drug x x x must be the subject of strict scrutiny by the
Accused-appellant argues that, first, the prosecution has not proved his commission of the crime courts to insure that law-abiding citizens are not unlawfully induced to commit an offense." 21
charged for the following irregularities: (1) the arresting officers did not coordinate with the PDEA, as
required under Sec. 86 of RA 9165; (2) no physical inventory was conducted and photograph taken of
No Surveillance Conducted
the alleged seized drug in the presence of public officials, as required by Sec. 21 of RA 9165; and (3)
the chain of custody was not duly proved by the prosecution. And second, his denial is worthy of
credence upon corroboration by the credible witnesses presented by the defense. The testimony of PO2 Ibasco on direct examination did not mention an alleged surveillance conducted
by PO2 Ibasco and PO1 Valencia prior to the alleged buy-bust operation, the corresponding intelligence
report, and the written communiqu with the PDEA. The defense in cross-examination put to task both
After a careful and thorough review of the records, We are convinced that accused-appellant should be
PO2 Ibasco and PO1 Valencia concerning these matters, as attested to in the Joint Affidavit of
acquitted, for the prosecution has not proved beyond reasonable doubt his commission of violation of
Apprehension22 executed by the two police officers on May 30, 2003. PO2 Ibasco testified that his unit,
Sec. 5, Art. II of RA 9165.
specifically PO1 Valencia and himself, conducted surveillance on accused-appellant for a week prior to
the buy-bust operation on May 29, 2003 which, according to him, turned out positive, i.e., accused-
A buy-bust operation is "a form of entrapment, in which the violator is caught in flagrante delicto and appellant was, indeed, selling shabu.
the police officers conducting the operation are not only authorized but duty-bound to apprehend the
violator and to search him for anything that may have been part of or used in the commission of the
PO2 Ibasco on cross-examination testified, thus:
crime."16 However, where there really was no buy-bust operation conducted, it cannot be denied that
the elements for illegal sale of prohibited drugs cannot be duly proved despite the presumption of
regularity in the performance of official duty and the seeming straightforward testimony in court by the ATTY. LOYOLA:
arresting police officers. After all, the indictment for illegal sale of prohibited drugs will not have a leg to
stand on. Being an operative, you are of course, trained in intelligence work?

This is the situation in the instant case. PO2 IBASCO:

The courts a quo uniformly based their findings and affirmance of accused-appellants guilt on: (1) the Yes, sir.
straightforward testimony of the arresting police officers; (2) their positive identification of accused-
appellant; (3) no ill motive was shown for their testimony against accused-appellant; (4) the self- Q: You said you conducted surveillance but you cannot show any proof that there is an intelligence
serving defense of denial by accused-appellant; (5) the seeming irregularities in the conduct of the buy- report, you have no proof?
bust operation and the arrest of accused-appellant not invalidating the operation; and (6) the
testimonies of Buencamino and Lepiten not showing that the buy-bust operation was not conducted.
A: Yes, sir. There is, we were dispatched.

Although the trial courts findings of fact are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on
Q: Where is your proof now?
appeal, this rule does not apply where facts of weight and substance have been overlooked,
misapprehended, or misapplied in a case under appeal,17 as here.
A: Its in our office.
For the prosecution of illegal sale of drugs to prosper, the following elements must be proved: (1) the
identity of the buyer and seller, the object, and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold Q: Your dispatch order for the surveillance do you have any?
3|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
A: I dont have it now sir but its in the office. PROSECUTOR ANTERO:

Q: You said that you conducted surveillance for one week, did I hear you right? Titingnan?

A: Yes, sir. COURT:

xxxx You are not sure? You dont have any copy of those documents?

Q: So, you are saying you did not actually see him selling drugs at that time during the surveillance? A: You Honor, what we have in the office is the dispatch.23

A: We saw him, sir. PO1 Valencia, likewise, on cross-examination testified:

xxxx ATTY. LOYOLA:

Q: None. You did not even coordinate this operation with the PDEA? Mr. Witness, tell me during the orientation, you will agree with me that there was no coordination made
to the PDEA regarding this intended buy bust operation?
A: We coordinated it, sir.
PO1 VALENCIA:
Q: What is your proof that you indeed coordinated?
We have coordinated at the PDEA.
A: Its in the office, sir.
Q: You say that but you have no proof to show us that there was coordination?
ATTY. LOYOLA:
A: We have, sir.
May I make a reservation for continuance of the cross-examination considering that there are
documents that the witness has to present. Q: What is your proof?

COURT: A: We have files in our office for coordination.

What documents? Q: Are you sure about that?

ATTY. LOYOLA: A: Yes, sir.

The proof your Honor that there was indeed a coordination and the intelligence report. Q: Now, Mr. Witness, based on the information, you already planned to conduct a buy bust operation
against the accused?
COURT:
A: Yes, sir.
Will you be able to produce those documents?
Q: But you will agree with me that there was no surveillance against the accused?
A: Yes, sir. "Titingnan ko po."

4|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
A: We have conducted a surveillance one week before the operation and we conducted surveillance No Buy-Bust Operation
"Pinakawalan namin ang informant."
But where there are other pieces of evidence putting in doubt the conduct of the buy-bust operation,
Q: What do you mean "pinakawalan ang informant"? these irregularities take on more significance which are, well nigh, fatal to the prosecution.

A: So that we have a spy inside to verify whether Garry was really selling shabu. Putting in doubt the conduct of the buy-bust operation are the uncontroverted testimonies of
Buencamino and Lepiten, which gave credence to accused-appellants denial and frame-up theory. The
xxxx Court is not unaware that, in some instances, law enforcers resort to the practice of planting evidence
to extract information from or even to harass civilians.27 This Court has been issuing cautionary
warnings to trial courts to exercise extra vigilance in trying drug cases, lest an innocent person is made
Q: In fact you dont have any information report?
to suffer the unusually severe penalties for drug offenses.28

A: We have, sir. Its in the office. Its with Insp. Villanueva.


The defense of frame-up in drug cases requires strong and convincing evidence because of the
presumption that the law enforcement agencies acted in the regular performance of their official
Q: And because you claim that you have submitted an information and report, of course, you should duties.29 Nonetheless, such a defense may be given credence when there is sufficient evidence or proof
have come up with an intelligence report. making it to be very plausible or true. We are of the view that accused-appellants defenses of denial
and frame-up are credible given the circumstances of the case. Indeed, jurisprudence has established
A: Yes, sir. Its also in the office of Insp. Villanueva. that the defense of denial assumes significance only when the prosecutions evidence is such that it
does not prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt,30 as in the instant case. At the very least, there is
reasonable doubt that there was a buy-bust operation conducted and that accused-appellant sold the
xxxx
seized shabu. After all, a criminal conviction rests on the strength of the evidence of the prosecution
and not on the weakness of the defense.31
Q: And the alleged recovered item, the plastic sachet which contained white crystalline substance was
brought by whom to the PNP Crime Laboratory?
Notably, Buencamino voluntarily testified to the effect that he called the police asking them to
apprehend a certain "Taba," a notorious drug pusher in their area. PO2 Ibasco and company responded
A: I cannot remember who brought it sir because it was a long time ago.24 to his call and Buencamino helped identify and direct the policemen but "Taba" unfortunately escaped.
Thus, Buencamino testified:
These documentsspecifically the dispatch order, the intelligence report of the alleged surveillance,
and the written communiqu from the PDEA for the conduct of the surveillance and buy-bust ATTY. BARTOLOME:
operationwere not, however, presented in court. Evidently, these documents are non-existent,
tending to show that there really was no surveillance and, consequently, no intelligence report about
Mr. Witness, who asked you to testify today?
the surveillance or the averred written communiqu from PDEA attesting to coordination with said
agency. Worse, the prosecution never bothered to explain why it could not present these documents.
Thus, there is no basis to say that accused-appellant allegedly sold shabu a week before he was BUENCAMINO:
arrested.
I volunteered myself to testify.
Even putting this lapse aside, the other irregularities raised by accused-appellant in the backdrop of the
uncontroverted testimonies of Buencamino and Lepiten tend to show that there was really no buy-bust xxxx
operation conducted resulting in the valid arrest of accused-appellant.
Q: Can you tell us how, when and where the accused was arrested?
Generally, non-compliance with Secs. 21 and 86 of RA 9165 does not mean that no buy-bust operation
against appellant ever took place.25 The prosecutions failure to submit in evidence the required physical A: I was the one who called-up the precinct to arrest a certain Taba and not Garry. Taba was the target
inventory and photograph of the evidence confiscated pursuant to Sec. 21, Art. II of RA 9165 will not of the operation.
discharge the accused from the crime. Non-compliance with said section is not fatal and will not render
an accuseds arrest illegal or the items seized/confiscated from him inadmissible.26
5|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Q: When was that? Buencamino or someone else made a call to the precinct about a certain "Taba," but then, again, the
prosecution did not bother to rebut the testimony of Buencamino. Verily, this time the presumption
A: May 29, 2003. "that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if produced"33 applies. In fact, the prosecution did
not even assail Buencaminos credibility as a witness but merely made the point in the cross-
examination that he had no actual knowledge of the arrest of accused-appellant. Thus, Buencamino
Q: Why did you call the police station?
was cross-examined:

A: Ibasco talked to me to arrest Taba.


PROSECUTOR ANTERO:

Q: Why are they going to arrest Taba?


You were not with Garry at the time he was arrested?

A: Because he is a pusher in the area.


BUENCAMINO:

Q: Why do you know Ibasco? No, sir.

A: Because he was a previous resident of Barangay Manresa.


Q: You dont know where he was arrested at that time?

Q: You said you called police officer [sic] what was the topic. Mr. Witness? A: I dont know where Garry was, sir.

A: That Taba is already there and he already showed up and they immediately responded to arrest
PROSECUTOR ANTERO:
Taba.

That will be all, your Honor.34


Q: So, Ibasco immediately responded to your call?

More telling is the testimony of Lepiten which, uncontroverted, shows that there was no buy-bust
A: Yes, sir.
operation. Her testimony corroborates the testimony of Buencamino that police enforcers indeed
responded to Buencaminos phone call but were not able to apprehend "Taba." This destroys the buy-
Q: When they arrived in your place what happened else, if any? bust operation angle testified to by PO2 Ibasco and PO1 Valencia. Since the buy-bust operation
allegedly happened not inside the house of accused-appellant but in an open area in front of a shanty,
A: I pointed to Taba so they could arrest him. such cannot be sustained in light of what Lepiten witnessed: The policemen chased but were not able
to arrest "Taba"; thereafter, the policemen went inside the house of accused-appellant, emerging later
with him who was led to the vehicle of the policemen. Thus, Lepiten testified:
Q: Where they able to arrest Taba?

ATTY. BARTOLOME:
A: No, sir. He was able to escape.

Mrs. Witness, where were you on May 29, 2003, if you could still remember?
Q: Whey they were not able to arrest alias Taba what happened, next Mr. Witness? What happened to
Garry Dela Cruz?
COURT:
A: I was surprised because I saw Garry Dela Cruz already inside the vehicle and I dont know why Garry
was inside the vehicle.32 What time?

Buencaminos assertion of knowing PO2 Ibasco was likewise not rebutted. Moreover, the presentation ATTY. BARTOLOME:
of the police logbook on calls received in the morning of May 29, 2003 would indeed show if

6|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
At around 9:00 in the morning. A: Two (2) men in blue pants and white shirt alighted from the maroon FX and ran after Taba.

LEPITEN: Q: Were they able to arrest Taba, Ms. Witness?

I was at the terrace of the house we are renting while sipping coffee. A: No, sir. They were not able to catch him.

Q: Where is that house located? Q: When they failed to arrest Taba, what did these two (2) men do, if any?

A: No. 135 Mauban Street, Barangay Manresa, Quezon City. A: They returned in front of the house and Garry and I saw them entered the house of Garry.

COURT: xxxx

Where is this, Novaliches? Q: What did they do, if any?

A: No, your Honor, near San Francisco Del Monte. A: I dont know what they did inside because I could not see them, sir. Then I saw them went down
and pushed Garry towards the FX.
xxxx
xxxx
ATTY. BARTOLOME:
Q: After that what else happened, if any?
While drinking coffee, what transpired next, Mrs. Witness or was there any unusual thing that
happened? A: I just saw that they boarded Garry inside the FX.

A: Yes, sir. While I was sitting on the terrace in front of the house we are renting is the house of Garry. xxxx
Garry was talking to a certain Taba whom I know.
COURT:
xxxx
Any cross?
Q: While you saw them talking to each other, what happened next?
PROSECUTOR ANTERO:
A: Suddenly a maroon FX stopped.
No cross, your Honor.35
Q: Where?
Thus, taking into consideration the defense of denial by accused-appellant, in light of the foregoing
A: In front of the house of Garry. testimonies of Buencamino and Lepiten, the Court cannot conclude that there was a buy-bust operation
conducted by the arresting police officers as they attested to and testified on. The prosecutions story is
Q: When this maroon FX stopped, what happened next, if any? like a sieve full of holes.

A: Taba ran, sir. Non-Compliance with the Rule on Chain of Custody

Q: What happened next, if any?

7|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Moreover, the prosecution failed to sufficiently prove the requisite chain of custody of the seized x x x the failure of the police to comply with the procedure in the custody of the seized drugs raises
specimen. "Chain of custody" means the duly recorded authorized movements and custody of seized doubt as to its origins.
drugs or controlled chemicals from the time of seizure/confiscation to receipt in the forensic laboratory
to safekeeping to presentation in court for destruction.36 The CA found an unbroken chain of custody of x x x failure to observe the proper procedure also negates the operation of the presumption of
the purportedly confiscated shabu specimen. However, the records belie such conclusion. regularity accorded to police officers. As a general rule, the testimony of police officers who
apprehended the accused is usually accorded full faith and credit because of the presumption that they
The testimonies of PO2 Ibasco and PO1 Valencia, as well as their Joint Affidavit of Apprehension, were have performed their duties regularly. However, when the performance of their duties is tainted with
bereft of any assertion on how the seized shabu in a heat-sealed sachet was duly passed from PO2 irregularities, such presumption is effectively destroyed.
Ibasco, the chosen poseur-buyer, who allegedly received it from accused-appellant, to forensic chemist
Engr. Jabonillo, who conducted the forensic examination. While the testimony of Engr. Jabonillo was While the law enforcers enjoy the presumption of regularity in the performance of their duties, this
dispensed with upon stipulation by the defense, as duly embodied in the RCT Order dated March 16, presumption cannot prevail over the constitutional right of the accused to be presumed innocent and it
2004, it is likewise bereft of any assertion substantially proving the custodial safeguards on the identity cannot by itself constitute proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt.401avvphi1
and integrity of the shabu allegedly received from accused-appellant. The stipulation merely asserts:
In sum, considering the multifarious irregularities and non-compliance with the chain of custody, We
x x x that he is a Forensic Chemist of the Philippine National Police; that his office received a request cannot but acquit accused-appellant on the ground of reasonable doubt. The law demands that only
for laboratory examination marked as Exhibit "A"; that together with said request is a brown envelope proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt can justify a verdict of guilt. 41 In all criminal prosecutions,
marked as Exhibit "B"; which contained a plastic sachet marked as Exhibit "B-1"; that he conducted a without regard to the nature of the defense which the accused may raise, the burden of proof remains
requested laboratory examination and, in connection therewith, he submitted a Chemistry Report at all times upon the prosecution to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.42 As
marked as Exhibit "C". The findings thereon showing the specimen positive for Methylamphetamine the Court often reiterated, it would be better to set free ten men who might probably be guilty of the
Hydrochloride was marked as Exhibit "C-1", and the signature of the said police officer was marked as crime charged than to convict one innocent man for a crime he did not commit.43
Exhibit "C-2". He likewise issued a Certification marked as Exhibits "D" and "D-1", and thereafter,
turned over the specimen to the evidence custodian and retrieved the same for [sic] purposed
In fine, We repeat what the Court fittingly held in People v. Ong, a case similarly involving a buy-bust
proceeding scheduled today.37
operation, thus:

While both PO2 Ibasco and PO1 Valencia testified on the identity of the plastic sachet duly marked with
The Constitution mandates that an accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven
the initials "EIGC," there was no sufficient proof of compliance with the chain of custody. The records
beyond reasonable doubt. While appellants defense engenders suspicion that he probably perpetrated
merely show that, after the arrest of accused-appellant, the specimen was allegedly turned over to the
the crime charged, it is not sufficient for a conviction that the evidence establishes a strong suspicion or
desk officer on duty, whose identity was not revealed. Then it was the stations OIC, P/Insp. Villanueva,
probability of guilt. It is the burden of the prosecution to overcome the presumption of innocence by
who requested the forensic examination of the specimen. In gist, from the alleged receipt of the plastic
sachet containing 0.02 gram of shabu by PO2 Ibasco from the alleged buy-bust operation, the chain of presenting the quantum of evidence required.1avvphi1
custody of the specimen has not been substantially shown. The Court cannot make an inference that
PO2 Ibasco passed the specimen to an unnamed desk officer on duty until it made its way to the In the case at bar, the basis of acquittal is reasonable doubt, the evidence for the prosecution not being
laboratory examination. There are no details on who kept custody of the specimen, who brought it to sufficient to sustain and prove the guilt of appellants with moral certainty. By reasonable doubt is not
the Crime Laboratory, and who received and kept custody of it until Engr. Jabonillo conducted the meant that which of possibility may arise but it is that doubt engendered by an investigation of the
forensic examination. The stipulated facts merely made an allusion that the specimen custodian of the whole proof and an inability, after such an investigation, to let the mind rest easy upon the certainty of
Crime Laboratory had possession of the specimen and released it for the proceedings before the trial guilt. An acquittal based on reasonable doubt will prosper even though the appellants innocence may
court. be doubted, for a criminal conviction rests on the strength of the evidence of the prosecution and not
on the weakness of the evidence of the defense. Suffice it to say, a slightest doubt should be resolved
in favor of the accused.44
It is essential that the prohibited drug confiscated or recovered from the suspect is the very same
substance offered in court as exhibit; and that the identity of said drug be established with the same
unwavering exactitude as that requisite to make a finding of guilt.38 This, the prosecution failed to do. WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is GRANTED. Accused-appellant Garry De La Cruz y Dela Cruz is
The prosecution must offer the testimony of key witnesses to establish a sufficiently complete chain of hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged on basis of reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the CA Decision
custody.39 dated June 30, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02727 is SET ASIDE. The Director of the Bureau of
Corrections is ordered to cause the immediate release of accused-appellant, unless he is being lawfully
held for another cause.
As the Court aptly put in People v. Cantalejo:

8|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
No costs. CONTRARY TO LAW and attended by the aggravating circumstance of recidivism."2

SO ORDERED. Accused-appellant was arraigned on June 28, 1996 and entered a plea of not guilty to both
charges.3 Edgardo Bermas died before he could be arraigned.4 The two cases were ordered
consolidated and a joint trial thereafter ensued.

2. G.R. Nos. 128106-07 January 24, 2003 The prosecution presented four witnesses, namely, Julie Camacho, Dr. Edilberto Joaquin, Esteban
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, Mamites and Julio Camacho, Sr., and offered documentary and object evidence on its evidence-in-chief.
vs.
GONZALO BALDOGO, accused-appellant. II. The Antecedent Facts
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Julio Camacho, Sr. and his wife, Heather Esteban, had four children, namely: Julio, Jr., a student of the
This is an automatic review of the Joint Judgment,[i] dated October 18, 1996, of the Regional Trial Palawan State University in Puerto Princesa City and who stayed in Guaygo, Puerto Princesa City; Jorge,
Court, Branch 52, Puerto Princesa City, finding accused-appellant Gonzalo Baldogo alias "Baguio" guilty who was fourteen years old;5 Julie, who was 12 years old and a grade six elementary pupil at the
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder in Criminal Case No. 12900 and Kidnapping in Criminal Iwahig Elementary School and Jasper, who was eight years old. Julio Sr. was employed as a security
Case No. 12903. The trial court imposed on accused-appellant the supreme penalty of death in Criminal guard in the Iwahig Prison and Penal Colony. He and his family lived in a compound inside the sub-
Case No. 12900 and reclusion perpetua in Criminal Case No. 12903. colony. Edgardo Bermas alias "Bunso," an inmate of the penal colony, was assigned as a domestic
helper of the Camacho spouses. Accused-appellant alias "Baguio," also an inmate of the colony, was
I. The Indictments assigned in January 1996 as a domestic helper of the Camacho family. Both helpers resided in a hut
located about ten meters away from the house of the Camacho family.
Two Informations were filed against accused-appellant and Edgar Bermas alias "Bunso" which read:
In the evening of February 22, 1996, accused-appellant and Bermas served dinner to Julio Sr., Jorge
"That on or about the 22nd day of February, 1996 in the evening at the residence of Mr. Julio and Julie in the house of the Camachos. At about 7:30 p.m., Julio Sr. left the house to attend a bible
Camacho of Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, Puerto Princesa City, Philippines and within the study at the dormitory in the Agronomy Section of the Penal Farm. Heather and her son, Jasper, were
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused who were both convicted by final in Aborlan town. Only Jorge and his sister Julie were left in the house.
judgment of the offense of Homicide and while already serving sentence, committed the above
name offense by conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping one another, After Julio Sr. had left the house, Julie went to the sala to study her assignment. Momentarily, Bermas
with intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation and while armed with a bolo, did called Julie from the kitchen saying: "Jul, tawag ka ng kuya mo." Julie ignored him. After five minutes,
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and hack one JORGE Bermas called her again but Julie again ignored him. Julie was perturbed when she heard a loud sound,
CAMACHO, hitting him and inflicting upon him mortal wounds at the different parts of his akin to a yell, "Aahh! Ahh!" coming from the kitchen located ten meters from the house. This prompted
body, which was the direct and immediate cause of his death shortly thereafter. Julie to stand up and run to the kitchen. She was appalled to see Jorge sprawled on the ground near
the kitchen, face down and bloodied. The vicinity was lighted by a fluorescent lamp. Standing over
CONTRARY TO LAW, with the aggravating circumstances of treachery, evident[,] Jorge were accused-appellant and Bermas, each armed with a bolo.6The shirt of Bermas was
premeditation and recidivism. Puerto Princesa City, Philippines, March 5, 1996." 1 bloodied.7 Julie was horrified and so petrified that although she wanted to shout, she could not. She ran
back to the sala with accused-appellant and Bermas in pursuit. Accused-appellant overtook Julie, tied
her hands at her back with a torn t-shirt and placed a piece of cloth in her mouth to prevent her from
x x x
shouting for help from their neighbors. Bermas went to the room of Julie's brothers. Accused-appellant
dragged Julie outside the house and towards the mountain. Bermas tarried in the house.
"That on Thursday, February 22, 1996 at more or less 8:15 in the evening at the Victim's
residence, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, Puerto Princesa City, Philippines and within the With the aid of a flashlight, accused-appellant, with Julie in tow, walked for hours towards the direction
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused while serving sentence at the Central
of the mountain. About a kilometer away from the house of the Camachos, accused-appellant and Julie
Sub-Colony both for the offense of Homicide, conspiring and confederating together and
stopped under a big tamarind tree at the foot of the mountain. After about thirty minutes, Bermas
mutually helping one another, commits (sic) another offense, kidnapping one JULIE E.
arrived with a kettle and raw rice. Accused-appellant and Bermas retrieved a bag containing their
CAMACHO, a girl 12 years of age, and brought her to the mountains, where said Julie E.
clothing and belongings from the trunk of the tamarind tree. They untied Julie and removed the gag
Camacho was detained and deprived of her liberty fro [sic] more than five days.
from her mouth. The three then proceeded to climb the mountain and after walking for six hours or so,
9|Page A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
stopped under a big tree where they spent the night. When the three woke up in the morning of the 2. Stab wound, chest, back, approximately 1 inch length, right midclavicular line, level
following day, February 23, 1996, they continued their ascent of the mountain. Seven hours thereafter, of the 3rd rib.
they started to follow a descending route. Accused-appellant and Bermas told Julie that they would
later release her. At about 3:00 p.m., Bermas left accused-appellant and Julie. However, accused- 3. Stab wound, back, right midclavicular line, level of the 5th rib.
appellant did not let go of Julie. The two survived on sugar and rice cooked by accused-appellant.
Once, they saw uniformed men looking for Julie. However, accused-appellant hid Julie behind the tree.
4. Stab wound, back, approximately 1 inch length level of the 5th rib, left
She wanted to shout but he covered her mouth.
midclavicular line.

In the early morning of February 28, 1996, accused-appellant told Julie that he was leaving her as he
was going to Puerto Princesa City. He told her to fend for herself and return to the lowland the next 5. Stab wound, back, approximately 1 inch length, right midclavicular line, 6th rib.
day. After their breakfast, accused-appellant left Julie alone to fend for herself. A few hours after
accused-appellant had left, Julie decided to return to the lowlands. She found a river and followed its 6. Stab wound, back, approximately 1 inch length, right midclavicular line, level of the
course toward Balsaham until she saw a hut. She called upon its occupant who introduced himself as 4th lumbar region.
Nicodemus. Julie sought help from him. When asked by Nicodemus if she was the girl whom the police
authorities were looking for, she replied in the affirmative. Nicodemus brought Julie to Balsaham where 7. Stab wound, back, approximately 1 inch in length, right third lumbar region, deep,
they met some personnel of the penal colony and police officers, and Nicodemus turned Julie over for penetrating involving the liver.
custody to them.
8. Stab wound, back, approximately 3/4 inch, at the level of the 2nd lumbar region.
Meanwhile, Julio, Sr. arrived home after his bible study at about 9:00 p.m. on February 22, 1996. He
noticed that the television set was switched on but no one was watching it. He looked for his children
9. Lacerated wound, neck, anteriorly, deep, penetrating, cutting the layers of the
but they were nowhere to be found. He then proceeded to the hut occupied by accused-appellant and
neck and the trachea and esophagus.
Bermas but he also failed to find them. Julio Sr. then rushed to the house of his older brother, Augusto
Camacho, to look for his children, but Augusto told him that Jorge and Julie were not there. Julio Sr.
then sought the help of Romualdo Esparagoza, a trustee of the penal farm. The two rushed back to the CAUSE OF DEATH
Camacho residence and proceeded to the kitchen where they noticed blood on the floor. The two
proceeded to the dirty kitchen and saw the bloodied body of Jorge dumped about three meters away Hypovolemia due to severe hemorrhage secondary to multiple stab wounds and
from the dirty kitchen. Julio Sr. and Esparagoza then brought Jorge to the Iwahig Hospital where he laceration of the neck."8
was pronounced dead on arrival at 12:40 a.m. of February 23, 1996. Dr. Edilberto Joaquin examined
the cadaver and found that the victim was stabbed on the breast once and at the back seven times. He Wounds numbers 7 and 9 were fatal. It was possible that two sharp-edged and sharp pointed weapons
sustained a lacerated wound on the neck. The layers of the neck, trachea and esophagus of Jorge had were used in stabbing Jorge and that two assailants stabbed the victim.9
been cut. Jorge did not sustain any defensive wound. Dr. Joaquin performed an autopsy of the cadaver
and signed a medical certificate with his findings, thus:
On February 29, 1996, Julie gave her sworn statement and a supplemental sworn statement to the
police investigators.10 Julio Sr. suffered mental anguish and sleepless nights because of the death of
"MEDICAL CERTIFICATE Jorge.

GENERAL DATA: The prosecution adduced in evidence excerpts of the personal file of accused-appellant kept in the
penal colony showing that he had been convicted of homicide by the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City
JORGE CAMACHO y ESTEBAN, 14 years old, student, resident of Iwahig Prison and Penal and that he commenced serving sentence on November 19, 1992 and that the minimum term of his
Farm, approximately 5'3 inches in-height, was brought to the hospital, (DOA) dead on arrival penalty was to expire on August 16, 1997.11
at 12:40 AM, 23 February 1996, approximate time of death 8:00 P.M. February 22, 1996.
III. The Defenses and Evidence of Accused-Appellant
FINDINGS
Accused-appellant denied killing Jorge and kidnapping Julie. Accused-appellant asserted that Julie
1. Stab wound, deep, penetrating, approximately 1 inch in length, at the level of the implicated him because she was coached and rehearsed. He testified that he was assigned as a helper
xyphoid process, anteriorly. in the house of Augusto Camacho, the Chief of the Industrial Section of the colony and the older
10 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
brother of Julio Sr. Augusto told accused-appellant that his brother, Julio Sr., wanted to have accused- He then took a passenger jeepney and alighted at Brooke's Point where he was arrested after one week
appellant transferred as his domestic helper. However, accused-appellant balked because he had heard for the killing of Jorge and the kidnapping of Julie.
from Edgardo Bermas, the helper of Julio Sr., that the latter was cruel and had been maltreating
Bermas. Nonetheless, in December 1995, accused-appellant was transferred as a domestic helper of Accused-appellant maintained that he did not intend to hurt Julie or deprive her of her liberty. He
Julio Sr. Accused-appellant confirmed that indeed Julio Sr. was cruel because whenever the latter was averred that during the entire period that he and Julie were in the mountain before Bermas left him, he
angry, he maltreated accused-appellant by spanking and boxing him. These would occur about two tried to protect her from Bermas. Accused-appellant asserted that he wanted to bring Julie back to her
times a week. parents after Bermas had left them and to surrender but accused-appellant was afraid that Julio Sr.
might kill him.
On February 22, 1996, at about 6:30 p.m., accused-appellant took his dinner in the kitchen. At about
7:00 p.m., while he was already in his quarters and preparing to sleep, Bermas arrived, armed with a IV. The Verdict of the Trial Court
bloodied bolo measuring about 1 feet long and told accused-appellant that he (Bermas) had just
killed Jorge to avenge the maltreatment he received from Julio Sr. Bermas warned accused-appellant
After due proceedings, the trial court rendered its decision, the decretal portion of which reads:
not to shout, otherwise he will also kill him. Petrified, accused-appellant kept silent. Bermas then
brought accused-appellant to the kitchen in the house of the Camachos where accused-appellant saw
the bloodied body of Jorge sprawled near the kitchen. Bermas called Julie three times, telling her that "WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, a Joint Judgment is hereby rendered in:
her brother was calling for her but Julie at first ignored Bermas. Julie later relented and went to the
kitchen where Bermas grabbed her and threatened to kill her if she shouted. Bermas tied the hands of A. CRIMINAL CASE NO. 12900 finding the accused Gonzalo Baldogo, alias Baguio, guilty
Julie with a piece of cloth and placed a piece of cloth around her face to prevent her from shouting. beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of murder as defined and penalized in
Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 6 of Republic Act No. 7659, and
Bermas, still armed with his bolo tucked on his waist and a knife on his hand, brought accused- appreciating against him the specific aggravating circumstance of taking advantage and use of
appellant and Julie outside the house. The three then trekked towards the mountain. On the way, superior strength, without any mitigating circumstance to offset the same, and pursuant to the
Bermas picked a bag containing food provisions and his and accused-appellant's clothings. Accused- provisions of the second paragraph, No. 1, of Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code, he is
appellant thought of escaping but could not because Bermas was watching him. With the help of a hereby sentenced to death in the manner prescribed by law; to pay the heirs of the deceased
flashlight brought by Bermas, the three walked towards the mountain, with Julie walking ahead of Jorge Camacho;
accused-appellant and Bermas. After walking for hours, they stopped by a tree to which Bermas tied
Julie. At one time, while Bermas and accused-appellant were scouring for water, Bermas kicked 1. Actual and compensatory damages:
accused-appellant and pushed him into a ten feet deep ravine. The right hand and foot of accused-
appellant sustained bruises. He likewise sustained a sprain on his foot. Bermas left accused-appellant For expenses incurred for funeral and other
and Julie after 1 days. expenses incident to his death --- P45,000.00
2. Moral damages ---------------------------- 100,000.00
In the meantime, accused-appellant managed to climb out of the ravine and heard Julie calling his 3. Civil indemnity for the death of the
name. Julie later told accused-appellant that before Bermas left, the latter told her that he was going to
kill accused-appellant. victim, Jorge Camacho ------------------- 50,000.00
or the aggregate amount of ------------- 195,000.00
Accused-appellant and Julie remained in the mountain after Bermas had left. At one time, accused-
appellant and Julie saw soldiers who were looking for her. Accused-appellant did not reveal his and B. CRIMINAL CASE NO. 12903 finding the accused GONZALO BALDOGO, alias, 'Baguio,'
Julie's location to the soldiers because he was afraid that he might be killed. On February 25, 1996, guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal
accused-appellant untied Julie. He told her that he will set her free as soon as his foot shall have detention as defined and penalized in Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
healed. Section 8 of Republic Act No. 7659, and there being no modifying circumstance appreciated
and pursuant to the provisions of the second paragraph, No. 2, of Article 63 of the Revised
On February 27, 1996, accused-appellant told Julie that she can go home already. He ordered her to go Penal Code, and not being entitled to the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, he is
down the mountain and proceed to Balsaham on her way back home. Although his foot was still aching, hereby sentenced to reclusion perpetua, with the accessory penalties of civil interdiction for
accused-appellant went down from the mountain ahead of Julie and proceeded to Balsaham. He then life, and of perpetual absolute disqualification; to pay the offended party, Julie Camacho for
walked to Irawan where he took a tricycle to the public market in the poblacion in Puerto Princesa City. physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety and moral shock, moral damages of
P100,000; and to pay the costs.

11 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
The case as against co-accused Edgar Bermas is ordered dismissed by reason of extinction of We find the contention of accused-appellant farcical. At the heart of the submission of accused-
criminal liability occasioned by his death pending conclusion of the proceedings as against him. appellant is the credibility of Julie, the 12-year old principal witness of the prosecution and the
probative weight of her testimony.
SO ORDERED."12
This Court has held in a catena of cases that the findings of facts of the trial court, its calibration of the
V. Assignment of Error testimonial evidence of the parties, its assessment of the probative weight of the collective evidence of
the parties and its conclusions anchored on its findings are accorded by the appellate court great
respect, if not conclusive effect. The raison d'etre of this principle is that this Court has to contend itself
In his appeal brief, accused-appellant avers that: with the mute pages of the original records in resolving the issues posed by the parties:

"I
"x x x The record will not reveal those tell-tale signs that will affirm the truth or expose the
contrivance, like the angry flush of an insisted assertion or the sudden pallor of a discovered
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND lie or the tremulous mutter of a reluctant answer or the forthright tone of a ready reply. The
REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER AND KIDNAPPING. record will not show if the eyes have darted in evasion or looked down in confession or gazed
steadily with a serenity that has nothing to distort or conceal. The record will not show if tears
II were shed in anger, or in shame, or in remembered pain, or in feigned innocence. Only the
judge trying the case can see all these and on the basis of his observations arrive at an
informed and reasoned verdict."14
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN REJECTING ACCUSED-APPELLANT'S DEFENSE OF DENIAL.

In contrast, the trial court has the unique advantage of monitoring and observing at close range the
III
attitude, conduct and deportment of witnesses as they narrate their respective testimonies before said
court. Echoing a foreign court's observation, this Court declared:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING AGGRAVATING
CIRCUMSTANCE OF EVIDENT PREMEDITATION AND GENERIC AGGRAVATING
"Truth does not always stalk boldly forth naked, but modest withal, in a printed abstract in a
CIRCUMSTANCE OF TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SUPERIOR STRENGTH DESPITE THE FAILURE
court of last resort. She oft hides in nooks and crannies visible only to the mind's eye of the
OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THE SAME.
judge who tries the case. To him appears the furtive glance, the blush of conscious shame,
the hesitation, the sincere or the flippant or sneering tone, the heat, the calmness, the yawn,
IV the sigh, the candor or lack of it, the scant or full realization of the solemnity of an oath, the
carriage and mien. The brazen face of the liar, the glibness of the schooled witness in reciting
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN IMPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY UPON THE ACCUSED- a lesson, or the itching overeagerness of the swift witness, as well as the honest face of the
APPELLANT IN THE (SIC) CRIMINAL CASE #12900."13 truthful one, are alone seen by him."15

VI. Resolution of this Court The rule, however, is not iron clad. This Court has enumerated exceptions thereto, namely: (a) when
patent inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses are ignored by the trial court; (b) when the
The first two assignments of errors being interrelated, the Court will delve into and resolve the same conclusions arrived at are clearly unsupported by the evidence; (c) when the trial court ignored,
simultaneously. misunderstood, misinterpreted and/or misconstrued facts and circumstances of substance which, if
considered, will alter the outcome of the case.16 In this case, the trial court found the youthful Julie
credible and her testimony entitled to full probative weight. Accused-appellant has not sufficiently
Accused-appellant avers that he had nothing to do with, and hence should not be claimed for, the demonstrated to this Court the application of any of the aforestated exceptions.
death of Jorge and the kidnapping and detention of Julie. Accused-appellant claims that he was acting
under duress because he was threatened by Bermas with death unless he did what Bermas ordered
him to do. Accused-appellant was even protective of Julie. He insists that the latter was not a credible The Court agrees with accused-appellant that the prosecution was burdened to prove his guilt beyond
witness and her testimony is not entitled to probative weight because she was merely coached into reasonable doubt of the felonies for which he is charged. This Court has held that accusation is not
implicating him for the death of Jorge and her kidnapping and detention by Bermas. synonymous with guilt. It is incumbent on the prosecution to prove the corpus delicti, more specifically,
that the crimes charged had been committed and that accused-appellant precisely committed the same.
The prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not on the weakness of the evidence
12 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
of the accused.17 The reasonable standard rule which was adopted by the United States way back in 5. Accused-appellant and Bermas brought with them to the mountain a kettle filled with raw rice which
1978 is a requirement and a safeguard, in the words of Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter of the United they cooked in the forest.28
States Supreme Court, "of due process of law in the historic, procedural content of due process." The
United States Supreme Court emphasized in Re: Winship18 that in a criminal prosecution, the accused 6. When Julie saw uniformed men who were looking for her and wanted to shout for help, accused-
has at stake interests of immense importance, both because of the possibility that he may lose his appellant covered her mouth to prevent her from shouting for help. 29
liberty or even his life upon conviction and because of the certainty that he would be stigmatized by the
conviction.
7. Even after Bermas had left accused-appellant and Julie in the forest in the afternoon of February 23,
1991, accused-appellant continued detaining Julie in the forest until February 27, 1996, when he
In the cases at bar, the prosecution failed to adduce direct evidence to prove that accused-appellant abandoned Julie in the forest to fend for herself.
killed Jorge. However, the prosecution adduced indubitable proof that accused-appellant conspired with
Bermas not only in killing Jorge but also in kidnapping and detaining Julie.
The evidence of the prosecution was even buttressed by the judicial admissions of accused-appellant,
thus:
Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code provides that there is conspiracy if two or more persons agree to
commit a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy may be proved by direct evidence or
1. After releasing Julie on February 27, 1996, accused-appellant proceeded to Puerto Princesa City and
circumstantial evidence. Conspiracy may be inferred from the acts of the accused, before, during and
after the commission of a felony pointing to a joint purpose and design and community of intent.19 It is on to Brooke's Point where he was arrested a week after said date.30
not required that there be an agreement for an appreciable period prior to the commission of a felony;
rather, it is sufficient that at the time of the commission of the offense, all the conspira`tors had the 2. Both accused-appellant and Bermas had a motive to kill Jorge and kidnap Julie, that is, to avenge the
same purpose and were united in its execution.20 In a conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all.21 All repeated maltreatment and physical abuse on them by Julio Sr., the father of Jorge and Julie.31
the accused are criminally liable as co-principals regardless of the degree of their participation.22 For a
conspirator to be criminally liable of murder or homicide, it is not necessary that he actually attacks or The flight of both accused-appellant and Bermas from the house of Julio Sr. to the mountain where
kills the victim. As long as all the conspirators performed specific acts with such closeness and they found refuge after killing Jorge, and their motive to kill Jorge Jr. and kidnap and detain Julie
coordination as to unmistakably indicate a common purpose or design in bringing about the death of in conjunto constitute potent evidence of their confabulation and of their guilt for the death of Jorge
the victim, all the conspirators are criminally liable for the death of said victim.23 and kidnapping and detention of Julie.32

In these cases, the prosecution adduced conclusive proof that accused-appellant indeed conspired with The bare denial by accused-appellant of criminal liability for the crimes charged is inherently weak.
Bermas to kill Jorge and kidnap Julie as shown by the following cogent facts and circumstances: Accused-appellant's claims that he even protected Julie from harm and that he was forced by Bermas to
kidnap Julie are of the same genre.33 The bare denial by accused-appellant of the crimes charged
1. When Julie responded to the repeated calls of Bermas for her to go to the kitchen on his pretext that constitutes self-serving negative evidence which cannot prevail over the categorical and positive
Jorge wanted to talk to her, Julie saw accused-appellant and Bermas, each armed with a bolo, about testimony of Julie and her unequivocal identification of accused-appellant as one of the perpetrators of
half a meter from Jorge who was sprawled on the ground, bloodied all over.24 the crimes charged.34

2. Even as Julie fled from the kitchen for dear life to the sala of their house, accused-appellant and Accused-appellant's insistence that he was forced by Bermas, under pain of death, to cooperate with
Bermas ran after her. Accused-appellant tied the hands of Julie with a piece of cloth and inserted a him in killing Jorge and kidnapping and detaining Julie is merely an afterthought. For duress to exempt
piece of cloth into her mouth to prevent her from shouting for help from their neighbors.25 accused-appellant of the crimes charged, "the fear must be well-founded, and immediate and actual
damages of death or great bodily harm must be present and the compulsion must be of such a
character as to leave no opportunity to accused for escape or interpose self-defense in equal
3. With a flashlight on hand, accused-appellant then exited from the house, dragged Julie towards the
combat."35 Accused-appellant is burdened to prove by clear and convincing evidence his defense of
direction of the mountain while Bermas remained in the house to rummage through the things in the
duress. He should not be shielded from prosecution for crime by merely setting up a fear from, or
bedroom of her brothers. Accused-appellant stopped for a while for Bermas to join him.26
because of, a threat of a third person."36 As Lord Dennan declared in Reg. Vs. Tyler,37 "No man from
fear of circumstances to himself has the right to make himself a party to committing mischief on
4. Before the killing of Jorge, accused-appellant and Bermas placed their clothing and personal mankind." In these cases, in light of the testimony of Julie and the inculpatory acts of accused-
belongings in a bag and buried the bag under a tree, and when accused-appellant and Bermas were on appellant no less, there is no doubt that the latter acted in concert with Bermas and is himself a
their way to the mountain after killing Jorge, they excavated and retrieved the bag from under the principal by direct participation. That accused-appellant abandoned Julie after six days of captivity does
tree.27

13 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
not lessen his criminal culpability much less exempt him from criminal liability for the killing of Jorge The trial court convicted accused-appellant of murder with the qualifying aggravating circumstance of
and the kidnapping and detention of Julie. evident premeditation, based on the following findings and ratiocination:

Accused-appellant failed to prove his claim that Julie was coached on how and what to testify on. "The slaying of Jorge Camacho took place about 8:30 o'clock in the evening of February 22,
Indeed, when asked to identify the person or persons who coached Julie, accused-appellant failed to 1996. It was carried out after the accused have been through tidying-up the kitchen, the
mention any person: dining room and the kitchen wares the family of the Camachos used in their early dinner
before 7:00 o'clock that evening. But even before dinner, the accused have already made
"Q You heard the testimony of Julie Camacho that she is pointing to you to have preparations for their flight, shown by the fact that they already had their clothes, other
kidnapped her and participated in the killing of her brother Jorge, what can you say to that? personal belongings and food provisions stacked in their respective travelling bags then placed
in a spot where they can just pick them up as they take to flight." 42
A That is not true.
The trial court also appreciated against accused-appellant the qualifying aggravating circumstance of
abuse of superior strength with the following disquisition:
Q You donot (sic) know the reason why? In fact you treated her well, why she pointed
you as one of the authors of the crime?
"The victim, Jorge Camacho, is a lad only 14 years of age and unarmed when brutally slain.
On the contrary, both accused are of age and confirmed convicted felons. Any one of them
A Maybe somebody coached her.
would already be superior in strength and disposition to their hapless and innocent victim.
How much more with the combined strength and force of the two of them.
Q Who do you think coached her?
Their choice of the object of their brutality is indicative of their unmistakable intent of taking
A I cannot mention the name but I am sure that somebody coached her." 38 advantage of their superior strength. The likely object of their resentment, for purported
cruelty to them, is Prison Guard Julio Camacho, father of the victim. They could have directed
It bears stressing that when she testified, Julie was merely 12 years old. The Court has repeatedly held their criminal intent on Julio Camacho himself. But Julio Camacho could be a match in strength
that the testimony of a minor of tender age and of sound mind is likewise to be more correct and and agility to any of them or even to the combined force of both of them. So, to insure
truthful than that of an older person so that once it is established that they have fully understood the execution of their criminal intent without risk to them for the defense which the offended party
character and nature of an oath, their testimony should be given full credence and probative might put up, they directed their criminal acts against the deceased who is very much inferior
weight.39 Julie had no ill motive to tergiversate the truth and falsely testify against accused-appellant. in physical combat even only to any one of them."43
Hence, her testimony must be accorded full probative weight.40
While the Court agrees that accused-appellant is guilty of murder, it does not agree with the rulings of
VII. Crimes Committed by Accused-Appellant the trial court that the crime was qualified by evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength. To
warrant a finding of evident premeditation, the prosecution must establish the confluence of the
following requisites:
The Court shall now delve into and resolve the issue of what crime or crimes accused-appellant is guilty
of. The trial court convicted accused-appellant of two separate crimes and not the special complex
crime of kidnapping with murder or homicide under the last paragraph of Article 267 of the Revised "x x x (a) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (b) an act manifestly
Penal Code as amended by Republic Act 7659.41 The trial court is correct. There is no evidence that indicating that the offender clung to his determination; and (c) a sufficient interval of time
Jorge was kidnapped or detained first by accused-appellant and Bermas before he was killed. The last between the determination and the execution of the crime to allow him to reflect upon the
paragraph of Article 267 of the Code is applicable only if kidnapping or serious illegal detention is consequences of his act. x x x"44
committed and the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the kidnapping or serious illegal
detention. The qualifying aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation, like any other qualifying
circumstance, must be proved with certainty as the crime itself. A finding of evident premeditation
Re: Criminal Case No. 12900 cannot be based solely on mere lapse of time from the time the malefactor has decided to commit a
felony up to the time that he actually commits it.45The prosecution must adduce clear and convincing
evidence as to when and how the felony was planned and prepared before it was effected.46 The
(For Murder)
prosecution is burdened to prove overt acts that after deciding to commit the felony, the felon clung to
his determination to commit the crime. The law does not prescribe a time frame that must elapse from
14 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
the time the felon has decided to commit a felony up to the time that he commits it. Each case must be "Art. 267Detencin ilegal grave.Ser castigado con la pena de reclusin temporal el
resolved on the basis of the extant factual milieu. particular que secuestrare o encerrare a otro o en cualquier forma le privare de libertad."

In this case, the prosecution failed to prove evident premeditation. The barefaced fact that accused- "Secuestrare" means sequestration.52 To sequester is to separate for a special purpose, remove or set
appellant and Bermas hid the bag containing their clothing under a tree located about a kilometer or so apart, withdraw from circulation.53 It also means to lock-up or imprison. "Encerrare" is a broader
from the house of Julio Sr. does not constitute clear evidence that they decided to kill Jorge and kidnap concept thansecuestrare.54 Encerrare includes not only the imprisonment of a person but also the
Julie. It is possible that they hid their clothing therein preparatory to escaping from the colony. There is deprivation of his liberty in whatever form and for whatever length of time. As explained by
no evidence establishing when accused-appellant and Bermas hid the bag under the tree. The Groizard, "encerrar" es meter una persona cosa en parte de donde no pueda salir"; detener o
prosecution even failed to adduce any evidence of overt acts on the part of accused-appellant, nor did arrestar, poner en prisin, privar de la libertad alguno." He continued that "la detencin, la prisin, la
it present evidence as to when and how he and Bermas planned and prepared to kill Jorge and kidnap privacin de la libertad de una persona, en cualquier forma y por cualquier medio por cualquier
Julie and to prove that the two felons since then clung to their determination to commit the said crimes. tiempo en virtud de la cual resulte interrumpido el libre ejercicio de su actividad ."55 On his commentary
Although accused-appellant and Bermas were armed with bolos, there is no evidence that they took on the Spanish Penal Code, Cuello Calon says that the law " preve dos modalidades de privacion de
advantage of their numerical superiority and weapons to kill Jorge. Hence, abuse of superior strength libertad, el encierro y la detencion. Encerrar significa recluir a una persona en un lugar de donde no
cannot be deemed to have attended the killing of Jorge.47 Nighttime cannot likewise be appreciated as puede salir, detener a una persona equivale a impedirle o restringirle la libertad de movimiento. Para
an aggravating circumstance because there is no evidence that accused-appellant and Bermas que el sujeto pasivo no quiera permanecer en el sitio donde esta recluido, pues no es posible llamar
purposely sought nighttime to facilitate the killing or to insure its execution or accomplishment or to encierro ni detencion a la estancia de un a persona en lugar del que no quiere salir ."56
evade their arrest.48 Neither is dwelling aggravating because there is no evidence that Jorge was killed
in their house or taken from their house and killed outside the said house. In this case, Julie, a minor, was not locked up. However, she was seized and taken from her house
through force and dragged to the mountain. Since then, she was restrained of her liberty by and kept
In light of the evidence on record, it is clear that the killing of Jorge was qualified by treachery. When under the control of accused-appellant and Bermas. She was prevented from going back home for a
Jorge was killed by accused-appellant and Bermas, he was barely 14 years old. The Court has period of about six days. Patently then, accused-appellant is guilty of kidnapping and illegally detaining
previously held that the killing of minor children who by reason of their tender years could not be Julie. The crime was aggravated by dwelling because Julie was taken from their house by accused-
expected to put up a defense is attended by treachery.49 Since treachery attended the killing, abuse of appellant and Bermas. However, dwelling was not alleged in the Information as an aggravating
superior strength is absorbed by said circumstance.50 circumstance as required by Section 9, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure which
reads:
The penalty for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act 7659
isreclusion perpetua to death. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstances in the "SEC. 9. Designation of the offense. The complaint or information shall state the designation
commission of the crime, accused-appellant should be meted the penalty of reclusion of the offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense, and
perpetua.51 Conformably with current jurisprudence, accused-appellant is hereby ordered to pay to the specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense,
heirs of the victim civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 and the amount of P50,000.00 by way of reference shall be made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it." 57
moral damages. Although Julio Sr. testified that he spent P45,000.00 during the wake and burial of the
victim, the prosecution failed to adduce any receipts to prove the same. Hence, the award of Even if dwelling is proven but is not alleged in the Information as an aggravating circumstance, the
P45,000.00 by way of actual damages has no factual basis and should thus be deleted. same will not serve to aggravate the penalty.58

Re: Criminal Case No. 12903 Quasi-recidivism as defined in Article 160 of the Revised Penal Code 59 is alleged in both Informations.
Accused-appellant is alleged to have committed murder and kidnapping while serving sentence in the
(For Kidnapping) penal colony by final judgment for the crime of homicide. Quasi-recidivism is a special aggravating
circumstance.60 The prosecution is burdened to prove the said circumstance by the same quantum of
The trial court convicted accused-appellant of kidnapping under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, evidence as the crime itself. In the present case, to prove quasi-recidivism, the prosecution was
as amended, punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. The trial court is correct. burdened to adduce in evidence a certified copy of the judgment convicting accused-appellant of
homicide and to prove that the said judgment had become final and executory.61 The raison d'etre is
that:
Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code was taken from Article 267 of the Spanish Penal Code, which
reads:
"x x x Since the accused-appellant entered a plea of not guilty to such information, there was
a joinder of issues not only as to his guilt or innocence, but also as to the presence or absence
15 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
of the modifying circumstances so alleged. The prosecution was thus burdened to establish SO ORDERED.
the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and the existence of the modifying
circumstances. It was then grave error for the trial court to appreciate against the accused- 3. G.R. Nos. 116132-33 August 23, 1995
appellant the aggravating circumstance of recidivism simply because of his failure to object to PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
the prosecution's omission as mentioned earlier."62 vs.
AURELIO DELOVINO Y UDAL, accused-appellant.
In this case, the prosecution adduced in evidence merely the excerpt of the prison record of accused-
appellant showing that he was convicted of homicide in Criminal Case No. 10357-R by the Regional
Trial Court of Baguio (Branch 6) with a penalty of from six years and one day as minimum to fourteen
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
years, eight months and one day as maximum and that the sentence of accused-appellant commenced
on November 19, 1992 and that the minimum term of the penalty was to expire on August 16,
1997.63 The excerpt of the prison record of accused-appellant is not the best evidence under Section 3, On 13 November 1992, 17-year old Antonette Modesto filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court 64 to prove the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio Pasay City two complaints for forcible abduction with rape against the accused. They were docketed as
City and to prove that said judgment had become final and executory. Said excerpt is merely secondary Criminal Case No. 92-1845 and Criminal Case No. 92-1846 and assigned to Branch 116 of the said
or substitutionary evidence which is inadmissible absent proof that the original of the judgment had court.
been lost or destroyed or that the same cannot be produced without the fault of the prosecution. The
barefaced fact that accused-appellant was detained in the penal colony does prove the fact that final The accusatory portions of the complaints read as follows:
judgment for homicide has been rendered against him.65 There being no modifying circumstances in
the commission of the crime, accused-appellant should be meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua CRIMINAL CASE NO. 92-1845
conformably with Article 63 of the Revised penal Code.66
That on or about the 4th day of November, 1992, in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines and
VIII. Civil Liability of Accused-Appellant for Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, AURELIO DELOVINO
Y UDAL, by means of force, violence, intimidation, threats and will [ sic] lewd designs, did then
The trial court awarded the amount of P100,000.00 to Julie by way of moral damages for the felony of and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously take and carry away complainant Antonette
kidnapping with serious illegal detention, predicated on her having suffered serious anxiety and fright Modesto, a minor 17 years of age and thereafter brought her at Queens Land Motel, this city
when she was kidnapped and dragged to the mountain where she was detained for several days. The and again by means of force and intimidation and with the use of deadly weapon, lie and have
trial court is correct. Julie is entitled to moral damages.67 In light of the factual milieu in this case, the carnal knowledge with the undersigned complainant, against her will and
amount is reasonable. Julie is also entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00.68 consent.1

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision of the Regional Trial Court is hereby AFFIRMED CRIMINAL CASE NO. 92-1846
WITH MODIFICATION:
That on or about the 20th day of October, 1992, in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines, and
1. In Criminal Case No. 12900, accused-appellant is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Aurelio Delovino Y
defined in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code as amended and is hereby meted the penalty Udal, by means of force, violence, intimidation, threats and will [ sic] lewd designs, did then
of reclusion perpetua, there being no modifying circumstances attendant to the commission of the and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously take and carry away complainant Antonette
felony. Accused-appellant is hereby ordered to pay to the heirs of the victim the amount of P50,000.00 Modesto, a minor 17 years of age and thereafter brought her to Cavite and again by means of
as civil indemnity and the amount of P50,000.00 as of moral damages. The award of P45,000.00 as of force and intimidation and with the use of deadly weapon, lie and have carnal knowledge with
actual damages is deleted. the undersigned complainant, against her will and consent.2

2. In Criminal Case No. 12903, accused-appellant is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Upon his arraignment on 21 January 1993, the accused pleaded not guilty and waived his right to a
kidnapping with serious illegal detention defined in Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended pre-trial.3 The cases were then consolidated and jointly tried.
by Republic Act 7659, and there being no modifying circumstances attendant to the commission of the
felony is hereby meted the penalty ofreclusion perpetua. Accused-appellant is hereby ordered to pay The prosecution presented complainant Antonette Modesto; her mother, Elsa Modesto, PO3 Fernando
moral damages to the victim, Julie Camacho, in the amount of P100,000.00 and exemplary damages in Pascua; Dr. Ruperto J. Sombilon, Jr., a medico-legal officer of the National Bureau of Investigation
the amount of P25,000.00. (NBI); and Alfredo Batario, Antonette's former teacher. The defense presented Lagrimas Delovino and
16 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Ana Pacantara, the wife and the aunt of the accused, respectively; Reynaldo Improgo, a civilian The next day, Antonette, accompanied by her mother, went to the NBI for a medical examination. 9 The
volunteer officer; Dr. Ruperto Sombilon, Jr.; Alicia Abaez; and the accused himself. medico-legal officer who examined her,
Dr. Ruperto J. Sombilon, Jr., noticed no external injuries on her but found the presence of an "old-
10 11
The evidence for the prosecution established the following: healed hymenal laceration," which could have been caused by sexual intercourse with a male.

Antonette Modesto was a senior high school student of the Arellano University. She and the accused Finally, through the testimony of Antonette, the prosecution proved that the accused offered, through
were neighbors in the reclamation area in Pasay City. At about 12:00 noon of 20 October 1992, while her parents, to pay P40,000.00 to amicably settle these cases, which offer she declined; 12 and that as a
she was waiting for a ride to school at Libertad Street, Pasay City, the accused placed his hand on her consequence of the commission of these crimes, she had been experiencing sleepless nights and was
shoulder and poked a knife, which was covered with a handkerchief, at her side. He threatened to kill forced to quit her schooling.13
her if she would shout for help or run away. He ordered her to walk towards the corner of F.B. Harrison
Street and Libertad Street and to board a passenger jeepney bound for Baclaran. He made her sit According to the contrariant version of the accused, who was 33 years old at the time of the occurrence
between him and the driver in the front seat. The accused held on to his knife. Upon reaching Baclaran, of the acts complained of and married with four children, Antonette had a special feeling for him and
he alighted and ordered her to also disembark. eventually became his sweetheart; yet, he never took undue advantage of such relationship by having
sexual union with her.
Thereafter, the accused brought Antonette to Dasmarias, Cavite, on board another jeepney. Upon
reaching Cavite at around 1:00 p.m., he took her to a deserted house, where he started to kiss her. He first noticed the special feeling of Antonette when he bought various items from her family's sari-
She resisted, but he continued to threaten her with his knife. When she struggled and screamed for sari store and she handed him more than what he paid for. Taking the cue, he suggested a date with
help, he boxed her twice at her stomach, thereby weakening her. He then gagged her with a her, which she welcomed.14
handkerchief and tied her hands from behind. He undressed her and inserted his penis inside her
vagina while she remained helpless on the floor. Notwithstanding her struggles, the accused succeeded Their first date was on 2 September 1992 when they discreetly met at Harrison Plaza and watched a
in his ejaculation. movie. Then, they proceeded to Dasmarias, Cavite, where they had a brief stay in the house of his
aunt, Ana Pacantara, to whom he introduced Antonette. Their second and third trips to Cavite were on
Not long after, the accused raped Antonette again, and after satisfying his bestial instinct, he allowed 29 September and 20 October 1992.15 On the latter occasion, they slept together for an hour in the
her to dress up. He brought her back to Pasay City at around 5:00 p.m. Before leaving her, he warned house of his aunt. Antonette even borrowed aduster from his aunt, since she was still in her school
her not to tell anyone about the incident or he would kill her and her family. When she reached home, uniform. While alone together in the room, they kissed each other but did not have sexual intercourse.
she proceeded to her room and cried. She did not tell anyone of the shame inflicted on her. 4 Thereafter, they played bingo with his aunt before leaving for home. 16

Then, at about 10:00 a.m. of 4 November 1992, Antonette left home for school. While aboard a On 4 November 1992, they went again to Cavite to join an excursion. Since the excursion did not push
pedicab, the accused joined her and seated himself beside her. He had a knife wrapped in a through, they just stayed and had lunch at his aunt's house. They returned to Pasay in the afternoon.
newspaper, which he poked at her. She was forced to alight with him at Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, That was the last time they saw each other.17
where the accused flagged down a taxi which took them to Queensland Motel, Pasay City. Inside the
motel, the accused started kissing her. When she resisted, the accused boxed her twice at the stomach. This alleged special relationship with the complainant was corroborated by Ana Pacantara, Lagrimas
He undressed her and, with his knife, ripped off her bra. He inserted his penis into her vagina until he Delovino, and Reynaldo Improgo.
reached his climax. Thereafter, he sexually assaulted her again. By late afternoon, they both dressed
up. Once more, the accused threatened her to keep quiet about the incident, otherwise he would kill
her and her family. They left the motel by taxi, and when they parted at the reclamation area, he Ana Pacantara declared that the accused and the complainant had their regular rendezvous in her
house in Cavite, particularly on 2 September, 29 September, 20 October, and 4 November 1992. They
reiterated his warning. When she reached home, she went to her room and cried.5
acted like lovers and rested together in the bedroom, with Antonette even borrowing her duster.18

It was on 10 November 1992 when her mother, Elsa Modesto, saw her crying in her room that
Lagrimas Delovino testified that when she visited Antonette's sister at the San Juan de Dios Hospital on
Antonette divulged what had happened to her. She and her parents then immediately proceeded to the
police substation to lodge her complaint.6 There, she narrated her ordeal to PO3 Fernando Pascua, who 7 November 1992, Elsa Modesto informed her (Lagrimas) that Antonette and the accused were having
then recorded her complaint in the police blotter 7 and accompanied her to the house of the accused. As an affair and that if the accused would not stop the relationship, "something bad" would happen to
him.19
might be expected, the accused denied the charges and was then turned over to the Investigation
Division.8

17 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Reynaldo Improgo claimed that he is a neighbor of Antonette and the accused in the reclamation area The trial court did not, however, convict the accused of the complex crime of abduction with rape as
and that he had seen them together on several occasions.20 charged because, although he had forcibly abducted the complainant, the prosecution had failed to
prove lewd designs.
As a witness for the defense, Dr. Sombilon opined that the "old-healed complete laceration"21 which he
had indicated in his report could be around three months old and, therefore, could not have been In this appeal, the accused contends that the trial court gravely erred in (1) convicting him not on the
sustained on 20 October or 4 November 1992. He concluded that Antonette was no longer a virgin at basis of the strength of the prosecution's evidence but rather on the weakness of the evidence for the
the time of the alleged rapes.22 defense; (2) giving credence to the improbable and inconsistent testimony of the private complainant;
and (3) failing to appreciate the testimony of the NBI medico-legal officer in his favor.29
In her rebuttal testimony, Antonette denied having an affair with the accused and having gone to
Cavite on 2 September, 29 September, and The Appellee disagrees with him and prays that we affirm the assailed decision with the modification
4 November 1992. On 2 September and 29 September 1992, she was actually attending her classes in that the moral damages be increased from P25,000.00 to P30,000.00.
school.23Elsa likewise denied having confronted and threatened Lagrimas Delovino.24
We find no merit in this appeal. On the contrary, as hereinafter discussed, we find the accused guilty in
Alfredo Batario, Antonette's professor at the Arellano University, corroborated Antonette's claim that on each of the two cases of the complex crime of forcible abduction with rape and not just of rape.
2 September and 29 September 1992, Antonette had attended his Social Studies class from 3:30 to
4:30 p.m., as shown in his school register.25 He declared, however, that from 20 October 1992 The first assigned error is baseless. The trial court convicted the accused on the basis of proof beyond
onwards, Antonette had been absent and considered dropped from the class.26 reasonable doubt which the evidence for the prosecution had established. Its reference to the weak
evidence for the accused was evidently made to demonstrate his failure to overcome the strength of
In its decision27 dated 25 October 1993 but promulgated on 24 November 1993, the trial court found the prosecution's evidence.
the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape in each of the two cases and disposed as follows:
The second assigned error involves the issue of the credibility of the complainant. It is doctrinally
WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 92-1845 and in Criminal Case No. 92-1846, accused Aurelio entrenched that the evaluation of the testimonies of witnesses by the trial court is received on appeal
Delovino y Udal is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape; and he is with the highest respect because such court has the direct opportunity to observe the witnesses on the
sentenced, in each of the cases, to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay witness stand and determine if they are telling the truth or not. 30 In People vs. De Guzman,31 this Court
complainant Antonette Modesto y Duque the sum of P25,000.00 as moral damages. aptly stated:

No pronouncement is made as to costs. In the resolution of the factual issues, the Court relies heavily on the trial court for its
evaluation of the witnesses and their credibility. Having the opportunity to observe them on
It gave full faith and credit to the testimony of the offended party because her declarations describing the stand, the trial judge is able to detect that sometimes thin line between fact and
how, through force and intimidation, the accused was able to have sexual intercourse with her were prevarication that will determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. That line may not be
positive, clear, and convincing and were made in a spontaneous and straight forward manner, leaving discernible from a mere reading of the impersonal record by the reviewing court. The record
no doubt in the mind of the court that she was telling the truth. will not reveal those tell-tale signs that will affirm the truth or expose the contrivance, like the
angry flush of an insisted assertion or the sudden pallor of a discovered lie or the tremulous
mutter of a reluctant answer or the forthright tone of a ready reply. The record will not show if
According to the trial court, the force and intimidation in these cases consisted in the accused's boxing
the eyes have darted in evasion or looked down in confession or gazed steadily with a serenity
the complainant and threatening her with a knife. And, since the knife used is a deadly weapon, the
that has nothing to distort or conceal. The record will not show if tears were shed in anger, or
penalty should bereclusion perpetua to death, but because the imposition of the death penalty had
in shame, or in remembered pain, or in feigned innocence. Only the judge trying the case can
been prohibited by the Constitution, the penalty should only be reclusion perpetua.28
see all these and on the basis of his observations arrive at an informed and reasoned verdict.

It refused to believe the accused's claim that the complainant was in love with him and was his In the first decade of this century, a foreign court likewise observed:
sweetheart because, assuming this to be true, she would not have filed these cases. It further found no
improper motive on her part to falsely accuse him of the commission of the crimes in question.
Truth does not always stalk baldly forth naked, but modest withal, in a printed abstract in a
court of last resort. She oft hides in nooks and crannies visible only to the mind's eye of the
judge who tries the case. To him appears the furtive glance, the blush of conscious shame,

18 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
the hesitation, the sincere or the flippant or sneering tone, the heat, the calmness, the yawn, The accused's denial of sexual intercourse does not deserve even a passing glance. Denial is an
the sigh, the candor or lack of it, the scant or full realization of the solemnity of an oath, the inherently weak defense and cannot prevail over the positive and credible testimony of the
carriage and mien. The brazen face of the liar, the glibness of the schooled witness in reciting complainant.37
a lesson, or the itching overeagerness of the swift witness, as well as the honest face of the
truthful one, are alone seen by him.32 Moreover, the accused failed to deny the testimony of Antonette that he had offered to pay P40,000.00
to amicably settle these cases. Such an offer was an implied admission of guilt38 pursuant to the second
The recognized exceptions to the foregoing doctrine are when such evaluation was reached arbitrarily paragraph of Section 27, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court, which reads in part as follows:
or when the trial court overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight
and substance which could have affected the result of the case. 33 In criminal cases, except those involving quasi-offenses (criminal negligence) or those allowed
by law to be compromised, an offer of compromise by the accused may be received in
The accused has miserably failed to convince us that the exceptions apply to these cases. He has not evidence as an implied admission of guilt.
challenged the unequivocal pronouncement of the trial court that the complainant testified in a
"spontaneous and straightforward manner, leaving no doubt in the mind of the court that she was In his third assigned error, the accused faults the trial court for its failure to consider the testimony of
telling the truth," and that her declarations were "positive, clear and convincing." The best that he Dr. Sombilon that the "old-healed complete laceration" in Antonette's hymen was already three months
could do was to suggest the improbability of the commission of the abductions considering that they old when he conducted the examination on 11 November 1992. He then asseverates that inasmuch as
occurred in a public place and in broad daylight and the complainant could have shouted for help or the laceration was inflicted long before 20 October 1992 and 4 November 1992 when the crimes in
called the attention of the people around her. The suggestion is not persuasive because it fails to question were committed, he could not have caused it.
consider the unrebutted testimony of Antonette that he poked a knife on her side and threatened to kill
her if she would run away or shout for help. He even forgot to comment on the evidence for the rapes.
We disagree. That the laceration was three months old does not prove that the accused had no carnal
This studied silence on the rapes amounts to an admission of the sexual congresses.
knowledge of Antonette on 20 October and
4 November 1992. Antonette established with moral certainty that the accused had raped her on those
Our own evaluation of the evidence not only fully supports the finding of the trial court that the accused dates. Any prior sexual intercourse which could have resulted in the hymenal laceration is irrelevant in
had carnal knowledge of the complainant through force and intimidation on 20 October 1992 and 4 these cases, for virginity is not an element of rape under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code.39
November 1992, but discloses, as well, proof beyond reasonable doubt of the commission of forcible
abduction as a means for the commission of the rapes.
Moreover, the prosecution cannot be said to have relied on the old-healed hymenal laceration as
evidence of rape. It primarily relied on the testimony of the complainant which, standing alone and
The testimony of the complainant, although uncorroborated, is credible and convinces us with moral even without the medical examination, was sufficient to convict.
certainty of the accused's guilt. No improper or ulterior motive was shown why she would falsely testify
against the accused, who was her neighbor. The latter categorically admitted on cross-examination that
A medical examination is not indispensable in a prosecution for rape. Otherwise, grave and irreparable
he knew no reason why the complainant would charge him of rape and publicly make known the
injustice would be inflicted upon hapless victims if the crime were committed in remote areas where no
fact.34 It is settled that where there is no evidence and nothing to indicate that the principal witness for
doctor could conduct a medical examination. So too, if the victim would not submit to it because what
the prosecution was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that the said witness was not so
immediately pre-occupied her mind after the traumatic experience was not necessarily the filing of a
actuated and his testimony is entitled to full faith and credit.35
complaint but rather the fear of what the assailant would further inflict upon her should she reveal his
criminal act, or the embarrassment and humiliation accompanying a public disclosure of the ignominy
The complainant's conduct in these cases further convinces us that she told the truth and filed these and dishonor she had suffered in the hands of her tormentor.40
cases solely to obtain justice. She reported the commission of the crime to the police authorities,
allowed an examination of her private parts, and thereafter suffered the ordeal of a public trial. It is
We cannot sustain the finding of the trial court that although the complainant was brought against her
difficult to believe that an unmarried woman, like her, would tell a story of defloration, allow the
will to the Queensland Motel in the first case and to Cavite in the second case, the prosecution failed to
examination of her private parts, and thereafter permit herself to be the subject of a public trial unless
prove the element oflewd designs. Lewd design means unchaste design.41 We find that in both cases
she were motivated by an honest desire to seek justice. No young decent Filipina would publicly admit
the principal purpose of the accused was to rape the complainant and that her abduction was only a
that she had been criminally abused and ravished unless that is the truth; it is her natural instinct to
protect her honor.36 means to commit the rape. Rape, under any clime and civilization, will always be unchaste. 42 Thus, the
abduction of the complainant was obviously with lewd designs.

19 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Accordingly, the accused should be held liable for the complex crime of forcible abduction with rape The charge against accused-appellant stemmed from two Informations:
defined and penalized under Article 342 (forcible abduction) and Article 335 (rape) of the Revised Penal
Code. Pursuant to Article 48 of the said Code, the penalty for the more serious crime, which is rape, Criminal Case No. 95-17070
shall be imposed in its maximum period. Since the two rapes were committed with a deadly weapon,
the penalty is reclusion perpetua to death pursuant to the third paragraph of Article 335, to be imposed
That on or about 16th day of March, 1995, in the Municipality of Murcia, Province of Negros Occidental,
in its maximum period death. But since these cases were committed when the imposition of the
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a
death penalty was still prohibited under the Constitution,43 onlyreclusion perpetua may be imposed.
firearm, with treachery, with intent to kill and taking advantage of nighttime, did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot on EDMUND PRAYCO y OSABEL, thereby
Also, pursuant to the current policy of this Court, moral damages should be awarded in each case and inflicting gunshot wounds upon the body of the latter which caused the death of the said victim.
increased from P25,000.00 to P40,000.00.
Contrary to law.3
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED, and the decision of Branch 116 of the Regional Trial
Court of Pasay City in Criminal Cases
Criminal Case No. 95-17071
Nos. 92-1845 end 92-1846 is modified as above indicated. As modified, accused AURELIO DELOVINO is
hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of forcible abduction with rape, as
defined and penalized under Article 342 and Article 335, respectively, of the Revised Penal Code, in That on or about 16th day of March, 1995, in the Municipality of Murcia, Province of Negros Occidental,
each of the said cases, and pursuant to Article 48 thereof, he is in each case hereby sentenced to suffer Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a
the penalty of reclusion perpetuaand to indemnify complainant Antonette Modesto the sum of firearm, with treachery, with intent to kill and taking advantage of nighttime, did then and there,
P40,000.00 as moral damages. willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot on LEOPOLDO GUIRO, JR. y PEREZ alias
"Nene" thereby inflicting gunshot wounds upon the body of the latter which caused the death of the
said victim.
Costs against the accused.

Contrary to law.4
SO ORDERED.

On November 28, 2001, the trial court ordered the consolidation of the two cases. When arraigned with
4. G.R. No. 189301 December 15, 2010
assistance of counsel, accused-appellant pleaded "not guilty" to both charges. Thereafter, a joint trial
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs. ensued.
JOSE PEPITO D. COMBATE a.k.a. "PEPING," Accused-Appellant.
DECISION During the trial, the prosecution offered the testimonies of Shenette Guiro, the wife of the deceased
VELASCO, JR., J.: victim Leopoldo Guiro; Jose Tomaro; Rebecca Montino Apdo; Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Rolando
Salamisan; Inspector Jose Labuyo; Police Inspector William Senoron; PO1 Rommel Pregil; Dr. Jimmy
Nadal; and Dr. Emmanuel Bando. On the other hand, the defense presented as its witnesses Magno
The Case
Montinola and accused-appellant.

This is an appeal from the January 30, 2008 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CEB CR-
The Prosecutions Version of Facts
H.C. No. 00294 entitled People of the Philippines v. Jose Pepito D. Combante a.k.a. "Peping," which
affirmed with modification the July 2, 2003 Decision2 in Criminal Case Nos. 95-17070 & 95-17071 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 50 in Bacolod City. On March 16, 1995, at around 9 oclock in the evening, Tomaro parked his passenger jeepney at the
garage of Leopoldos mother, Patria Guiro, located at Purok 2, Barangay Minoyan in Murcia, Negros
Accused-appellant Jose Pepito D. Combate stands convicted of the crime of Murder and Homicide, as Occidental. He then proceeded to the house of Leopoldo where he usually sleeps after driving the
jeepney owned by Leopoldos parents.
defined and penalized under Articles 248 and 249 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), respectively. He
was sentenced to suffer the penalties of reclusion temporal and reclusion perpetua.
Upon entering the gate, Tomaro met Leopoldo and Edmund Prayco, who were on their way out.
Leopoldo invited him to join them in drinking liquor but he declined saying he was already tired. He
The Facts
continued on his way and was about to ascend the stairs when he heard a gunshot. He rushed back to

20 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
the road and there he saw accused-appellant pointing a gun at the fallen Leopoldo. When Edmund was After trial, the RTC convicted accused-appellant. The dispositive portion of its July 2, 2003 Decision
about to intervene, accused-appellant also shot Edmund at a very close range. After shooting Edmund, reads:
accused-appellant turned his attention back to Leopoldo and shot him for a second time.
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused Jose Combate, Jr. y
Tomaro then rushed to help Leopoldo and pleaded for his life. Instead of heeding his plea, accused- Dallarte alias Peping, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of HOMICIDE in Criminal Case NO.
appellant pointed his gun towards Tomaro and pulled the trigger but the gun did not fire. At that 95-17071 as Principal thereof. There being no modifying circumstances, the accused is sentenced to
instant, Tomaro jumped on accused-appellant and was able to grab the gun. Tomaro tried to shoot suffer the penalty of RECLUSION TEMPORAL in its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate
accused-appellant but the gun still did not fire. Hastily, accused-appellant fled to the direction of Sentence Law, the accused shall serve a prison term of Eight (8) Years and One (1) Day of Prision
Bacolod City. Mayor to Fifteen (15) years of Reclusion Temporal.

Leopoldo and Edmund were later brought to the Bacolod Sanitarium and Hospital. Edmund was By way of civil liability, the accused is condemned to pay the heirs of the late Leopoldo Guiro the
declared dead on arrival, while Leopoldo died the following day. following:

Version of the Defense 1. The sum of P50,000.00 as death indemnity.

Accused-appellants defense, on the other hand, was confined to a denial, to wit: 2. The sum of P932,712.00 as compensatory damages and;

In the evening of March 16, 1995, accused-appellant was in his house drinking liquor when Montinola, 3. The sum of P56,319.59 as reimbursement for the burial expenses.
a close friend, arrived to fetch him. He was told to report to the barangay hall and to render duty as a
tanod. Before leaving, Montinola also partook of a small quantity of liquor. In addition, the accused is ordered to pay Shenette Guiro the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages.

On their way to the barangay hall, they passed by the house of Leopoldo, who was drinking liquor by The accused is also declared GUILTY of MURDER for the death of Edmund Prayco as charged in the
the side of the street fronting his house, along with Tomaro, Edmund, and someone else who accused- Information in Criminal Case No. 95-17070 as Principal thereof. There being no modifying
appellant could not identify. He and Montinola were walking on the left side of the street going towards circumstances, the accused is sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA. He is
the direction of the Mambucal Resort, while Leopoldo and his group were on the right side. Accused- condemned to pay the heirs of the late Edmund Prayco the sum of P50,000.00 as death indemnity and
appellant then extended a greeting to Leopoldo, who responded with a sarcastic remark. Accused- the sum of P30,000.00 as compensatory damages.5
appellant and Montinola ignored the rudeness thrown their way and just continued walking.
Ruling of the Appellate Court
They, however, soon noticed Leopoldo crossing the street and started to follow them. Edmund likewise
also followed them but on the other side of the street. Suddenly, accused-appellant saw Leopoldo pull
something out from his waist. He then heard a gunshot and saw Leopoldo fall to the ground. He On January 30, 2008, the CA affirmed the judgment of the lower court and modified the award of
pushed Montinola aside and they ran away. damages. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial court, Branch 50 of Bacolod City
After a few moments, he heard more gunshots coming from the direction of where Leopoldo and his
dated 2 July 200[3] is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONS. The award of compensatory damages in both
group were situated. He was stricken with fear so he went home. Later, he learned that he was the
cases is deleted, and in lieu thereof, exemplary damages of P25,000.00 is awarded to the heirs of
suspect in the killing of Leopoldo and Edmundo. Thus, to avoid trouble, he fled to Victorias City, Negros
Occidental where he was arrested by the Murcia police on October 13, 2001. Leopoldo Guiro and another P25,000.00 to the heirs of Edmund Prayco. In all other respects, the
assailed decision is affirmed.

The story of accused-appellant was corroborated by Montinola.


SO ORDERED.6

Ruling of the Trial Court


The Issue

21 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Hence, this appeal is before us, with accused-appellant maintaining that the trial court erred in be stressed in this regard that facts imperfectly or erroneously stated in an answer to one question may
convicting him of the crimes of homicide and murder, despite the fact that his guilt was not proved be supplied or explained as qualified by the answer to other question. The principle falsus in uno, falsus
beyond reasonable doubt. in omnibus is not strictly applied to this jurisdiction.12 As explained in People v. Osias:

The Courts Ruling It is perfectly reasonable to believe the testimony of a witness with respect to some facts and disbelieve
it with respect to other facts. And it has been aptly said that even when witnesses are found to have
We sustain accused-appellants conviction. deliberately falsified in some material particulars, it is not required that the whole of their
uncorroborated testimony be rejected but such portions thereof deemed worthy of belief
may be credited.
Factual findings of the trial court should be respected

The primordial consideration is that the witness was present at the scene of the crime and
In his Brief, accused-appellant says that the trial court failed to consider several inconsistencies in the
that he positively identified [the accused] as one of the perpetrators of the crime charged x
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. First, as to Tomaro, who directly implicated accused-
x x.13 (Emphasis supplied.)
appellant, his testimony was unsubstantiated and did not conform to the physical evidence. According
to Tomaro, Edmund was shot at close range yet no powder burns were found around the entry wound.
Second, as to the testimony of Shenette Guiro, accused-appellant harps on the fact that she never In this case, we agree with the trial court that the alleged inconsistencies merely refer to minor details
mentioned Tomaro being present at the scene of the crime and that she only heard one gunshot while which do not affect the witnesses credibility. In disregarding the alleged inconsistent statements, the
the other witnesses heard three or four. Lastly, as to the testimony of SPO1 Salamisan, accused- trial court explained:
appellant points out that SPO1 Salamisan testified that he only saw one spot of blood when there were
two victims. The inconsistencies are more imagined than real. The inconsistencies, like the ownership of the
passenger jeepney, whether said jeepney is owned by Guiro or his mother, are so trivial and does not
To accused-appellant, the inconsistencies thus described erode the credibility of the witnesses when at all affect credibility.
taken as a whole.
The accused also makes much fuss about the fact that Shenette Guiro heard only one (1) shot while
We do not agree. the other prosecution witnesses as well as the accused and his witness Magno Montinola, heard three
(3) to four (4) shots. The accused conveniently forgot that Shenette Guiro was asleep when the
shooting took place. She was awakened by the shot she heard and that shot might have been the last
Time-tested is the doctrine that the trial courts assessment of the credibility of a witness is entitled to shot.
great weight, sometimes even with finality.7 The Supreme Court will not interfere with that assessment,
absent any indication that the lower court has overlooked some material facts or gravely abused its
discretion.8 The accused flays the testimony of Jose Tomaro as incredible and unbelievable when the said witness
testified that he ran and cradled Guiro in his arms after the latter was shot. The accused asserts that it
is unnatural for a person to unnecessarily expose himself to danger.
Complementing the above doctrine is the equally established rule that minor and insignificant
inconsistencies in the testimony tend to bolster, rather than weaken, the credibility of witnesses, for
they show that the testimony is not contrived or rehearsed.9 As the Court put it in People v. Cristobal, The argument need not detain the Court. It is a settled rule on evidence that witnesses to a crime react
"Trivial inconsistencies do not rock the pedestal upon which the credibility of the witness rests, but in different ways. (Pp. vs. Paynor, 261 SCRA 615).
enhances credibility as they manifest spontaneity and lack of scheming." 10
"There is no standard behavior when one is considered with a strange, startling or frightening
A careful review of the records shows that the RTC, as well as the CA, committed no reversible error situation." (Pp. v. De Leon, 262 SCRA 445)
when it gave credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, as opposed to accused-
appellants bare denials. Moreover, Jose Tomaro has no quarrel with the accused. He has every reason to expect that he will not
be assaulted as he was not making any aggressive move against him.14
Moreover, the testimony of a witness must be considered in its entirety and not merely on its truncated
parts. The technique in deciphering a testimony is not to consider only its isolated parts and anchor a Likewise, we are not persuaded as to the alleged inconsistency of Tamaros testimony that Edmund was
conclusion on the basis of said parts. In ascertaining the facts established by witnesses, everything shot at close range but the physical evidence revealed that there were no powder burns around the
stated by them on direct, cross, and redirect examinations must be calibrated and considered. 11 It must entry wounds. In his testimony, Tamaro described the incident as follows:
22 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
COURT: than to see that justice is done. Thus, the presumption that their testimonies were not moved by any ill
will and bias stands, and, therefore, their testimonies are entitled to full faith and credit. 18
Q: Now according to your testimony, the next time around, Combate was pointing his gun at Prayco?
Lest it be overlooked, accused-appellant fled to Victorias City, Negros Occidental right after the
WITNESS incident, an act that is evidence of his guilt. It is well-established that the flight of an accused is
competent evidence to indicate his guilt; and flight, when unexplained, is a circumstance from which an
inference of guilt may be drawn.19 Indeed, the wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the innocent are
A: Yes, sir.
as bold as lion.20

Q: He pointed his gun to Prayco and fired his gun. At the time he fired his gun, how far was he from
Award of damages
Prayco?

This Court will now endeavor to end, once and for all, the confusion as to the proper award of damages
COURT
in criminal cases where the imposable penalty for the crime is reclusion perpetua or death. As a rule,
the Court awards three kinds of damages in these types of criminal cases: civil indemnity and moral
Witness indicating a very short distance where the Court Interpreter is situated which is less than (1) and exemplary damages. We shall discuss all three.
meter away.15 (Emphasis supplied.)
First, civil indemnity ex delicto is the indemnity authorized in our criminal law for the offended party, in
As aptly held by the CA, such testimony is in fact consistent with the lack of powder burns on Edmunds the amount authorized by the prevailing judicial policy and apart from other proven actual damages,
body, viz: which itself is equivalent to actual or compensatory damages in civil law. 21 This award stems from Art.
100 of the RPC which states, "Every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable."
The distance from which a shot is fired affects the nature and extent of the injury caused on the victim.
In close range fire, the injury is not only due to the missile but also due to the pressure of the Civil liability ex delicto may come in the form of restitution, reparation, and
expanded gases, flame and other solid products of combustion. In contrast, distant fire usually indemnification.22 Restitution is defined as the compensation for loss; it is full or partial compensation
produces the characteristic effect of the bullet alone. A shot fired from a distance of more than 60 cm paid by a criminal to a victim ordered as part of a criminal sentence or as a condition for
or about two (2) feet does not produce the burning, smudging or tattooing typically present in loose probation.23 Likewise, reparation and indemnification are similarly defined as the compensation for an
contact or near fire, short range fire and medium range fire. injury, wrong, loss, or damage sustained.24 Clearly, all of these correspond to actual or compensatory
damages defined under the Civil Code.25
Powder burns is a term commonly used by physicians whenever there is blackening of the margin at
the entrance of the gunshot wound. The blackening is due to smoke smudging, gunpowder tattooing The other kinds of damages, i.e., moral and exemplary or corrective damages, 26 have altogether
and, to a certain extent, burning of the wound margin. different jural foundations.

In this case, the fact that there were no powder burns found in EDMUNDs body indicates that the shots The second type of damages the Court awards are moral damages, which are also compensatory in
were fired at a distance of more than two (2) feet which is consistent with Jose Tomaros testimony nature. Del Mundo v. Court of Appeals explained the nature and purpose of moral damages, viz:
that Edmund was shot at about less than 1 meter away from appellant.16
Moral damages, upon the other hand, may be awarded to compensate one for manifold injuries such as
Defense of denial cannot prevail over positive identification physical suffering, mental anguish, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings and social
humiliation. These damages must be understood to be in the concept of grants, not punitive
For his defense, accused-appellant wants this Court to believe his innocence and offers his version of or corrective in nature, calculated to compensate the claimant for the injury
the facts wherein he did not commit the crime. This Court is not persuaded. suffered. Although incapable of exactness and no proof of pecuniary loss is necessary in order that
moral damages may be awarded, the amount of indemnity being left to the discretion of the court, it is
imperative, nevertheless, that (1) injury must have been suffered by the claimant, and (2) such injury
Categorical and consistent positive identification, absent any showing of ill motive on the part of the
must have sprung from any of the cases expressed in Article 2219 27 and Article 222028 of the Civil
eyewitness testifying on the matter, prevails over the defense of denial. 17Accused-appellant was
Code. (Emphasis supplied.)
positively and categorically identified by the witnesses. They have no reason to perjure and accused-
appellant was unable to prove that the prosecution witnesses were moved by any consideration other
23 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Similarly, in American jurisprudence, moral damages are treated as "compensatory damages awarded Thus, we find, in our body of jurisprudence, criminal cases, especially those involving rape,
for mental pain and suffering or mental anguish resulting from a wrong." 29 They may also be dichotomized: one awarding exemplary damages, even if an aggravating circumstance attending the
considered and allowed "for resulting pain and suffering, and for humiliation, indignity, and vexation commission of the crime had not been sufficiently alleged but was consequently proven in the light of
suffered by the plaintiff as result of his or her assailants conduct, as well as the factors of provocation, Catubig; and another awarding exemplary damages only if an aggravating circumstance has both been
the reasonableness of the force used, the attendant humiliating circumstances, the sex of the victim, alleged and proven following the Revised Rules. Among those in the first set are People v. Laciste,
[and] mental distress."30 People v. Victor, People v. Orilla, People v. Calongui, People v. Magbanua, People of the Philippines v.
Heracleo Abello y Fortada, People of the Philippines v. Jaime Cadag Jimenez, and People of the
The rationale for awarding moral damages has been explained in Lambert v. Heirs of Rey Castillon: Philippines v. Julio Manalili. And in the second set are People v. Llave, People of the Philippines v. Dante
"[T]he award of moral damages is aimed at a restoration, within the limits possible, of the spiritual Gragasin y Par, and People of the Philippines v. Edwin Mejia. Again, the difference between the two
status quo ante; and therefore, it must be proportionate to the suffering inflicted." 31 sets rests on when the criminal case was instituted, either before or after the effectivity of the Revised
Rules.
And lastly, the Court awards exemplary damages as provided for in Arts. 2229 and 2230 of the Civil
Code, viz: xxxx

Art. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are imposed, by way of example or correction for the Nevertheless, by focusing only on Article 2230 as the legal basis for the grant of exemplary damages
public good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages. taking into account simply the attendance of an aggravating circumstance in the commission of a crime,
courts have lost sight of the very reason why exemplary damages are awarded. Catubig is enlightening
on this point, thus
Art. 2230. In criminal offenses, exemplary damages as a part of the civil liability may be imposed when
the crime was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances. Such damages are separate and
distinct from fines and shall be paid to the offended party. Also known as "punitive" or "vindictive" damages, exemplary or corrective damages are
intended to serve as a deterrent to serious wrong doings, and as a vindication of undue
sufferings and wanton invasion of the rights of an injured or a punishment for those guilty
Clearly, as a general rule, exemplary damages are only imposed in criminal offenses when the crime of outrageous conduct. These terms are generally, but not always, used interchangeably.
was committed with one or more aggravating circumstances, be they generic or qualifying. However,
In common law, there is preference in the use of exemplary damages when the award is to
there have been instances wherein exemplary damages were awarded despite the lack of an
account for injury to feelings and for the sense of indignity and humiliation suffered by a
aggravating circumstance. This led the Court to clarify this confusion in People v. Dalisay, where it
person as a result of an injury that has been maliciously and wantonly inflicted, the theory
categorically stated that exemplary damages may be awarded, not only in the presence of an
being that there should be compensation for the hurt caused by the highly reprehensible
aggravating circumstance, but also where the circumstances of the case show the highly
conduct of the defendant associated with such circumstances as willfulness,
reprehensible or outrageous conduct of the offender, to wit:
wantonness, malice, gross negligence or recklessness, oppression, insult or fraud or gross
fraud that intensifies the injury. The terms punitive or vindictive damages are often used
Prior to the effectivity of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, courts generally awarded exemplary to refer to those species of damages that may be awarded against a person to punish him
damages in criminal cases when an aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying, had been for his outrageous conduct. In either case, these damages are intended in good measure to
proven to have attended the commission of the crime, even if the same was not alleged in the deter the wrongdoer and others like him from similar conduct in the future.
information. This is in accordance with the aforesaid Article 2230. However, with the promulgation of
the Revised Rules, courts no longer consider the aggravating circumstances not alleged and proven in
Being corrective in nature, exemplary damages, therefore, can be awarded, not only in the presence of
the determination of the penalty and in the award of damages. Thus, even if an aggravating an aggravating circumstance, but also where the circumstances of the case show the highly
circumstance has been proven, but was not alleged, courts will not award exemplary damages. x x x reprehensible or outrageous conduct of the offender. In much the same way as Article 2230 prescribes
an instance when exemplary damages may be awarded, Article 2229, the main provision, lays down the
xxxx very basis of the award. Thus, in People v. Matrimonio, the Court imposed exemplary damages to deter
other fathers with perverse tendencies or aberrant sexual behavior from sexually abusing their own
Nevertheless, People v. Catubig laid down the principle that courts may still award exemplary damages daughters. Also, in People v. Cristobal, the Court awarded exemplary damages on account of the moral
based on the aforementioned Article 2230, even if the aggravating circumstance has not been alleged, corruption, perversity and wickedness of the accused in sexually assaulting a pregnant married woman.
so long as it has been proven, in criminal cases instituted before the effectivity of the Revised Rules Recently, in People of the Philippines v. Cristino Caada, People of the Philippines v. Pepito Neverio and
which remained pending thereafter. Catubig reasoned that the retroactive application of the Revised The People of the Philippines v. Lorenzo Layco, Sr., the Court awarded exemplary damages to set a
Rules should not adversely affect the vested rights of the private offended party.

24 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
public example, to serve as deterrent to elders who abuse and corrupt the youth, and to protect the (d) In rape: (i) when by reason or on occasion of the rape, the victim becomes insane or
latter from sexual abuse. homicide is committed; (ii) when committed with any of the following attendant
circumstances: (1) when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a
It must be noted that, in the said cases, the Court used as basis Article 2229, rather than Article 2230, parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third
to justify the award of exemplary damages. Indeed, to borrow Justice Carpio Morales words in her civil degree, or the common-law-spouse of the parent of the victim; (2) when the victim is
separate opinion in People of the Philippines v. Dante Gragasin y Par, "[t]he application of Article 2230 under the custody of the police or military authorities; (3) when the rape is committed in full
of the Civil Code strictissimi juris in such cases, as in the present one, defeats the underlying public view of the husband, parent, any of the children or other relatives within the third degree of
policy behind the award of exemplary damages to set a public example or correction for the public consanguinity; (4) when the victim is a religious or a child below seven years old; (5) when
good."32 the offender knows that he is afflicted with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
disease; (6) when committed by any member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the
Philippine National Police or any law enforcement agency; and (7) when by reason or on the
Before awarding any of the above-mentioned damages, the Court, however, must first consider the occasion of the rape, the victim has suffered permanent physical mutilation.
penalty imposed by law. Under Republic Act No. (RA) 7659 or An Act to Impose the Death Penalty on
Certain Heinous Crimes, Amending for that Purpose the Revised Penal Laws, and for Other Purposes,
certain crimes under the RPC and special penal laws were amended to impose the penalty of death Nevertheless, all these must be taken in relation to Art. 63 of the RPC, which provides:
under certain circumstances.
Article 63. Rules for the application of indivisible penalties. - In all cases in which the law prescribes a
For a full appreciation of the award on damages, it is imperative that a thorough discussion of RA 7659 single indivisible penalty, it shall be applied by the courts regardless of any mitigating or aggravating
be undertaken. Each crime will be discussed as well as the proper amount of damages for each crime. circumstances that may have attended the commission of the deed.

Under RA 7659, the following crimes are punishable by reclusion perpetua: piracy in general,33 mutiny In all cases in which the law prescribes a penalty composed of two indivisible penalties, the following
on the high seas,34 and simple rape.35 rules shall be observed in the application thereof:

For the following crimes, RA 7659 has imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death: qualified 1. When in the commission of the deed there is present only one aggravating circumstance,
piracy;36qualified bribery under certain circumstances;37 parricide;38 murder;39 infanticide, except when the greater penalty shall be applied.
committed by the mother of the child for the purpose of concealing her dishonor or either of the
maternal grandparents for the same purpose;40 kidnapping and serious illegal detention under certain 2. When there are neither mitigating nor aggravating circumstances in the commission of the
circumstances;41 robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons under certain deed, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
circumstances;42 destructive arson, except when death results as a consequence of the commission of
any of the acts penalized under the article; 43 attempted or frustrated rape, when a homicide is 3. When the commission of the act is attended by some mitigating circumstance and there is
committed by reason or on occasion thereof; plunder; 44 and carnapping, when the driver or occupant of no aggravating circumstance, the lesser penalty shall be applied.
the carnapped motor vehicle is killed or raped in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on
the occasion thereof.45
4. When both mitigating and aggravating circumstances attended the commission of the act,
the courts shall reasonably allow them to offset one another in consideration of their number
RA 7659 imposes the penalty of death on the following crimes: and importance, for the purpose of applying the penalty in accordance with the preceding
rules, according to the result of such compensation.
(a) In qualified bribery, when it is the public officer who asks or demands the gift or present.
Thus, in order to impose the proper penalty, especially in cases of indivisible penalties, the court has
(b) In kidnapping and serious illegal detention: (i) when the kidnapping or detention was the duty to ascertain the presence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Accordingly, in
committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person; (ii) when crimes where the imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua to death, the court can impose either
the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention; (iii) when the victim is raped, reclusion perpetua or death, depending on the mitigating or aggravating circumstances present.
subjected to torture or dehumanizing acts.
But with the enactment of Republic Act No. (RA) 9346 or An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death
(c) In destructive arson, when as a consequence of the commission of any of the acts Penalty in the Philippines, the imposition of death penalty is now prohibited. It provides that in lieu of
penalized under Article 320, death results.

25 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
the death penalty, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be imposed when the law violated makes use fact that in the victims line of work no documentary evidence is available; or (2) employed as a daily-
of the nomenclature of the penalties of the RPC.46 wage worker earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws.

As a result, courts now cannot impose the penalty of death. Instead, they have to impose reclusion In this case, neither of the exemption applies. The earnings of Leopoldo at the time of his death were
perpetua. Despite this, the principal consideration for the award of damages, following the ruling in above minimum wage set by labor laws in his respective place at the time of his death. 58 As testified to
People v. Salome47 and People v. Quiachon,48 is "the penalty provided by law or imposable for the by his wife, Shenette Guiro, Leopoldo was earning between PhP 200 to PhP 300 per day. This is more
offense because of its heinousness, not the public penalty actually imposed on the offender." 49 than minimum wage. Hence, absent any documentary evidence, the award of compensatory damages
must be deleted.
When the circumstances surrounding the crime would justify the imposition of the penalty of death
were it not for RA 9346, the Court has ruled, as early as July 9, 1998 in People v. Victor,50 that the Likewise, the deletion of the award of compensatory damages by the CA in Criminal Case No. 95-17070
award of civil indemnity for the crime of rape when punishable by death should be PhP 75,000. We is proper for lack of any basis. The trial court did not discuss why it awarded compensatory damages to
reasoned that "[t]his is not only a reaction to the apathetic societal perception of the penal law and the the heirs of Edmund.
financial fluctuations over time, but also an expression of the displeasure of the Court over the
incidence of heinous crimes against chastity." 51 Such reasoning also applies to all heinous crimes found Interest on damages
in RA 7659.
When death occurs due to a crime, the following may be recovered: (1) civil indemnity ex delicto for
In addition to this, the Court likewise awards moral damages. In People v. Arizapa, 52 PhP 50,000 was the death of the victim; (2) actual or compensatory damages; (3) moral damages; (4) exemplary
awarded as moral damages without need of pleading or proving them, for in rape cases, it is damages; (5) attorneys fees and expenses of litigation; and (6) interest, in proper cases.59 In
recognized that the victims injury is concomitant with and necessarily results from the odious crime of People v. Tubongbanua,60 interest at the rate of six percent (6%) was ordered to be applied on the
rape to warrant per se the award of moral damages.53 Subsequently, the amount was increased to PhP award of damages. This rule would be subsequently applied by the Court in several cases such as
75,000 in People v. Soriano.54 Mendoza v. People,61 People v. Buban,62 People v. Guevarra,63 and People v. Regalario.64 Thus, we
likewise adopt this rule in the instant case. Interest of six percent (6%) per annum should be imposed
As to exemplary damages, existing jurisprudence has pegged its award at PhP 30,000, 55 despite the on the award of civil indemnity and all damages, i.e., actual or compensatory damages, moral damages
lack of any aggravating circumstance. The reason, as previously discussed, is to deter similar conduct and exemplary damages, from the date of finality of judgment until fully paid.
and to serve as an example for public good.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-G.R. CEB CR-H.C. No. 00294 finding
Essentially, despite the fact that the death penalty cannot be imposed because of RA 9346, the accused-appellant Jose Pepito D. Combate guilty of the crimes charged is AFFIRMED with
imposable penalty as provided by the law for the crime, such as those found in RA 7569, must be used MODIFICATION. As modified, the ruling of the trial court should read as follows:
as the basis for awarding damages and not the actual penalty imposed.
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered finding the accused Jose Combate, Jr. y
On the other hand, when the circumstances surrounding the crime call for the imposition of reclusion Dallarte alias Peping, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of HOMICIDE in Criminal Case NO.
perpetua only, the Court has ruled that the proper amounts should be PhP 50,000 as civil indemnity, 95-17071 as Principal thereof. There being no modifying circumstances, the accused is sentenced to
PhP 50,000 as moral damages, and PhP 30,000 as exemplary damages.56lavvphi1 suffer the penalty of RECLUSION TEMPORAL in its medium period. Applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the accused shall serve a prison term of Eight (8) Years and One (1) Day of Prision
Accordingly, in Criminal Case Nos. 95-17070 and 95-17071, the exemplary damages awarded by the CA Mayor to Fifteen (15) years of Reclusion Temporal.1avvphi1
in the amount of PhP 25,000 should be increased to PhP 30,000.00 in line with prevailing jurisprudence.
By way of civil liability, the accused is condemned to pay the heirs of the late Leopoldo Guiro the
Moreover, the deletion of the award of compensatory damages for unearned income by the CA in following:
Criminal Case No. 95-17071 is proper. This Court pronounced in People v. Mallari: 57
1. The sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity; and
The rule is that documentary evidence should be presented to substantiate a claim for damages for loss
of earning capacity. By way of exception, damages therefore may be awarded despite the absence of 2. The sum of P56,319.59 as reimbursement for the burial expenses.
documentary evidence provided that there is testimony that the victim was either (1) self-employed
earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws, and judicial notice may be taken of the

26 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
In addition, the accused is ordered to pay Shenette Guiro the sum of P50,000.00 as moral damages The evidence for the prosecution, culled from the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, succinctly
and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. synthesized in the Appellee's Brief submitted by the Office of the Solicitor General, established the
following facts:
The accused is also declared GUILTY of MURDER for the death of Edmund Prayco as charged in the
Information in Criminal Case No. 95-17070 as Principal thereof. There being no modifying In the evening of November 5, 1990, Maritess Marzo, single and a third year high
circumstances, the accused is sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA. He is school student, was asleep in the room of her boarding house located at Bonifacio
condemned to pay the heirs of the late Edmund Prayco the sum of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, St., Diffun, Quirino (p. 2, tsn, July 9, 1992). Fronting said boarding house and
P50,000.00 as moral damages and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. separated by a road is the house of Romy Sagun where he and his family reside (p.
3, tsn, March 31, 1993).
Finally, interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum shall be applied to the award of civil
indemnity, moral damages and exemplary damages from the finality of judgment until fully paid in the At about midnight of November 5, 1990, Maritess was awakened by sounds of
two (2) aforementioned criminal cases. footsteps approaching her. Maritess shouted but a man whom she recognized as
Romy Sagun, her neighbor, poked his bolo at her head (p. 4, tsn, Aug. 11, 1992) and
SO ORDERED. uttered, 'Do not shout or else I will kill you and tomorrow you will not be living any
more' (p. 5, supra). Then, Sagun shifted his bolo to the neck of Maritess, who was
lying on her side, and started removing her skirt and panty (pp. 7-8, supra). Sagun
5. G.R. No. 110554 February 19, 1999 took off his pants and laid on top of Maritess (p. 10, supra); opened her legs and
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
inserted his organ into Maritess' (p. 12, supra) and started gyrating for about five
vs.
minutes. Maritess struggled and pushed Sagun but to no avail. Thereafter, Sagun
ROMY SAGUN @ POKPOK, accused-appellant.
stood up, put on his pants and left (p. 13, supra). Maritess felt that Sagun's male
genital partly penetrated her's (p. 15, supra).

QUISUMBING, J.:
After Sagun left, Maritess woke up her boardmates and informed them that
somebody entered the boarding house but did not reveal that she was raped because
Accused-appellant Romy Sagun @ Pokpok assails the decision 1 dated April 23, 1993, of the Regional of Sagun's death threat (p. 15,supra). The following morning, however, Maritess
Trial Court, Branch 32, 2 of Cabarroguis, Quirino, in Criminal Case No. 891, finding him guilty of the informed her landlord, Rudy Agsalud that Sagun entered her room and sexually
crime of rape, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua,and to pay private abused her. Rudy Agsalud immediately reported the incident to the police authorities
complainant the amount of P50,000.00 as damages without subsidiary imprisonment. (p. 6, supra).

On September 25, 1991, the Provincial Prosecutor, Anthony A. Fox, filed with the court a quo an On November 6, 1990 (p. 9, tsn, Aug. 17, 1992), Maritess submitted herself to a
information,3charging accused-appellant of the crime of rape, allegedly committed as follows: medical examination. Dr. Moises Lazaro, the examining physician, testifying on the
results of his examination, pertinently declared as follows:
That on or about 12:00 o'clock midnight on November 5, 1990, in Barangay
Bonifacio, Municipality of Diffun, Province of Quirino, Philippines, and within the Q - Doctor, you were saying that there was a partial penetration on the vagina. How
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused ROMY SAGUN alias POKPOK, armed with many centimeters was the deep of the penetration?
a bolo, by means of force and intimidation and lewd design, did then and there there
(sic) willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual intercourse with MARITESS A.
A - As I said from the opening to the hymen 1-1.5 cm. May be the tip of the penis
MARZO against her will.
penetrated the hymen but it did not break the hymen. Because we have to consider
the circumstance whether there is resistance or force . . .
CONTRARY TO LAW.
(
During arraignment on June 25, 1992, accused-appellant assisted by his counsel, 4 entered a plea of p
not guilty. Thereafter, trial of the case ensued. .
1
1
27 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
to report his coming
, in the house of Mrs. Agsalud, he left and that was the time he
went home. sHe told complainant that he was visiting her being a neighbor and
u was mad, he left.
sensing that she
p
r question of the court, accused testified that he knows that
On clarificatory
a alone at that night, and that he entered the house to talk with her
complainant was
) she is a neighbor. He entered the boarding house of the complainant
considering that
because he could not get his sleep that night. He just wanted to talk with the
complainant. 5That he entered the boarding house of Maritess Marzo past 9:00 o'clock
that evening. That he does not know of any reason why the complainant filed the
Accused-appellant denied having committed said crime. His counter statement of the facts as tersely case against him. Before November 5, 1990, he never visited Maritess Marzo because
summarized by the trial court, is as follows: she used to go home in their barangay except on November 5, 1990. That he did not
have any misunderstanding between Maritess Marzo and her parents before
He knows Maritess Marzo, the complainant. She was boarding in the house of November 5, 1990 neither has he any misunderstanding before November 5, 1990
Mercedes Agsalud sometime in November 1990. Student at the Quirino State College. with Mrs. Agsalud. That he left Quirino sometime on November 9, 1990 in order to
Complainant's boarding house is about 45 meters from their house. In the evening of have a driving job in Tondo, Manila because his former employer Engr. Valido went
November 5, 1990, he was in their house with his wife and children. Before 9:00 abroad. That he came to know for the first time that he was charged for rape when
o'clock of the same evening, he had a drinking spree with his nephew. After his wife went to Manila before Christmas in 1990.6
consuming two bottles of beer grande, he went to buy cigarette. On his way home,
he noticed that the door of the boarding house of complainant was opened. She was In its decision dated May 10, 1993, the trial court found the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable
reviewing. His nephew at that time was already asleep. He entered the boarding doubt of the crime of rape as charged, and rendered judgment as follows:
house of the complainant, sat down on the chair about four meters from her.
Complainant inquired why he entered the house. Told complainant that he just came IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the guilt of the accused of the crime charged has
for a visit because she is a neighbor. Because he was drunk, complainant had to go been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the accused is hereby sentenced
upstairs. Complainant told him to leave the house or else she will report him to Mrs. to RECLUSION PERPETUAplus all the accessory penalties provided for by law and to
Agsalud. With that warning, he went home. He denied the testimony of the indemnity the complainant Maritess Marzo the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND
complainant to the effect that he threatened her with a bolo, undressed her, removed (P50,000.00) PESOS without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to
her panty, mounted at her and had sexual intercourse with her. That there is no truth pay the cost. The detention of the accused shall be fully credited in his favor.
about the testimony of the complainant because nothing had happened to her. That
he does not know why the complainant testified against him.
SO ORDERED.7

On cross examination, witness testified that he went to the boarding house of the
Hence, this appeal from the lower court's decision. Significantly, accused-appellant makes only one
complainant on the alleged night of the incident after a drinking spree with his
assignment of error:
nephew. That it was only when he was already drunk that gave him the idea of going
to the boarding house of the complainant. At that time, he entered the boarding
house, complainant was reviewing, she was alone. He went near the complainant to THAT THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AND ERRED N
talk to her being a neighbor. That he used to go to the boarding house. He was GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT AND, ON
asking complainant why she was reviewing at that late hour of the night. He was THE BASIS THEREOF, IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT OF THE CRIME
seated near the door of the house while Maritess Marzo was reviewing in the sala of CHARGED AGAINST HIM AND IN AWARDING DAMAGES AGAINST HIM.
the house. That in the first floor of the house, there are no rooms while the second
floor, it has rooms. In his brief, accused-appellant contends that the trial court gravely erred in giving credence to the
testimony of the complainant because it is tainted with inconsistencies and improbabilities. Drawing our
That the drinking spree took place in his house. That after buying cigarette hed did attention to the medico-legal findings, he avers that the medical certificate issued by the physician who
not go home directly because he dropped by at the boarding house of the conducted the physical examination negates complainant's claim of carnal knowledge as her hymen
complainant. He talked with the complainant. After he was warned that she is going remains intact. He likewise bewails the fact that complainant's acts and deeds the day after the alleged

28 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
rape was committed are simply incredulous, as no rape victim could have easily recovered from the Moreover, it is simply inconceivable that complaining witness, a 17-year-old lass 18 from a remote barrio
effects of such a traumatic experience. in Rafael Palma, Diffun, Quirino, who was inexperienced with the ways of the world, would fabricate a
story of defloration, allow an examination of her private parts, and thereafter submit herself to the
Thus, at the outset, it may be noted that accused-appellant places at issue the credibility of private indignity of a public trail or endure a lifetime of ridicule, if she had not, in fact, been a victim of rape
complainant, upon whose testimony he was convicted. Once again, however, we have to stress that the and deeply motivated by a sincere desire to have the culprit apprehended and punished. As well said,
matter of assigning values to the testimony of witnesses is best performed by the trial judge who, when a woman says she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was
unlike appellate magistrates, can weigh such testimony in the light of the demeanor, conduct and committed.
attitude of the witnesses presented at the trial. The trial judge is thereby placed in a vantage position
to discriminate finely between what is true and what is false 8 in the versions given by the witnesses of As borne out by the evidence, complainant was forced to submit to appellant's bestial desires through
the opposing parties. Appellate courts will not disturb the findings on the credibility, or lack of it, violence and intimidation. 19 When appellant pointed his bolo at complainant's neck, while he was
accorded by the trial court to the testimony of witnesses, unless it be clearly shown that the trial court removing her skirt and underwear, there was indeed force and intimidation directly against her person.
had overlooked or disregarded arbitrarily certain facts and circumstances of significance in the When he warned her not to shout unless she wanted to die, his evident intentions to harm her could
case. 9On this score, accused-appellant's plea that it was error to rely on the testimony of the not be disputed. Even when appellant put down the bolo to remove his pants, the threat and
complaining witness is less than persuasive. intimidation continued, since he could pick up the bolo anytime, to stab her. In any event, the
significant consideration is that, the violence and intimidation were continuous as to engender fear for
The crime of rape is essentially one committed in relative isolation or even secrecy, hence it is usually the safety of her life and limb.
only the victim who can testify with regard to the fact of the forced coitus. 10 As a result, conviction
may be based justifiably on the plausible testimony of the private complainant herself. Intimidation is said to be addressed to the mind of the victim. It is subjective and its presence cannot
be tested by any hard-and-fast rule, but must be viewed in the light of the victim's perception and
In the present case, we find the trial court's reliance on the testimony of the complainant based on judgment at the time of the crime. 20 It may be of the moral kind, such as the fear caused by
solid evidentiary grounds. She had no improper motive whatsoever, as admitted by accused-appellant threatening a woman with a knife. 21 It is enough that it produces fear--fear that if the victim does not
himself, 11 to impute such a very serious offense to him. It is accepted doctrine, that in the absence of yield to the bestial lust of the accused, something would happen to her at the moment or thereafter, as
evidence of improper motive on the part of the victim to falsely testify against the accused, her when she is threatened with death if she reports the incident. 22Intimidation would also explain why
testimony deserves credence. 12 sometimes there are no traces of struggle which would indicate that the victim fought off her
attacker. 23
The spontaneity of complainant's testimony could not be discredited by mere denials of accused-
appellant. For an affirmative testimony is far stronger than a negative testimony, especially so when it Based on the record with the testimony of the complainant in the light of experience and common
comes from the mouth of a credible witness. 13 Denial is an intrinsically weak defense which must be sense, we entertain no doubt that appellant employed such amount of intimidation and violence
buttressed by strong evidence of nonculpability to merit credence. 14 Furthermore, in the light of the sufficient to consummate rape. Appellant admittedly had been drinking and the influence of alcohol on
complainant's positive identification of accused-appellant as the perpetrator of the crime, the latter's his conduct was undeniable. Moreover, according to the complainant, appellant is much stronger than
defense of bare denial must necessarily fail, as her positive testimony overrides his negative her. The physical superiority of appellant would show not only when his body violently held down
testimony. 15 Note that accused-appellant's own version of a "friendly visit" he made to complainant in complainant's but also when her mind was subdued by his intimidating words and weapon at hand.
her boarding house on November 5, 1990, puts him squarely at the place and time of the alleged
offense. Moreover, though a man lays no hand on a woman, yet if by an array of physical forces, he so
overpowers her mind that she does not resist, or she ceases resistance through fear of greater harm,
As pointed out by the lower court, complainant testified in a direct and straightforward manner. She the consummation of the sexual act is recognized in jurisprudence as rape. 24 Physical resistance need
even demonstrated in court how she was raped by accused-appellant. Complainant cried when she not be established in rape, when intimidation is exercised upon the victim and the latter submits
testified; her tears added poignancy to verity born out of human nature and experience. 16 There was herself, against her will, to the rapist's embrace because of fear for life and personal safety. 25
no grave abuse of discretion when the trial court considered the testimony of complainant worthy of full
faith and credit, thus: Undoubtedly, in the present case, complainant could not have safely resisted accused-appellant's
unchaste urge as the latter poked the bolo he was holding first at her head, then at her neck. Threats,
. . . Complainant's detailed and straight forward narration and demonstration in court intimidation, violence, fear and terror all combined to suppress the will to resist, kick, shout or struggle
how she was abused and raped bear the earmarks of truth. There is no showing that against the rapist. Thus, despite her lack of strong resistance or failure to shout in order to attract the
she was ill motivated in filing the case against the accused.17 attention of her boardmates, who were just sleeping a few meters away in another room, she could not
be considered as giving consent to his attacker's bestial deed. Evidence shows that the appellant had

29 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
undressed the complainant and forcibly taken off her underwear while he was holding a bolo aimed at testimony could not be expected when complainant is recounting details of a harrowing experience. No
her neck, before he took off his pants and had sex with her. The consummation of the offense of rape matter how courageous she is, the act of filing a complaint and appearing in court would exact a heavy
could not be any clearer. psychological and social toll on the victim who is usually twice victimized: by the rapist during the act of
rape and by misguided elements of society which devalue the victim's worth. She would not be
Moreover, settled is the rule that for rape to exist, it is not necessary that the force or intimidation expected to possess total recall and complete composure on the witness stand.
employed in accomplishing it be so great or of such character as to be irresistible. It is only necessary
that the force or intimidation be sufficient to consummate the purpose which the accused had in To conclude, we find the assigned error in this appeal utterly without basis. The conviction of the
mind. 26 accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of rape is supported by the prosecution's
evidence which could not be overthrown by the accused-appellant's self-serving denials. Consistent with
Appellant would want to capitalize on the fact that there was no full or deep penetration of prevailing jurisprudence, we note that the award of moral damages is in order. 34 They are awarded to
complainant's vagina to negate the finding that rape had been committed. But penetration of a victims of rape cases involving young girls between thirteen and nineteen years of age, taking into
woman's sex organ is not an element of the crime of rape. Penile invasion of and contact with the labia account the immeasurable havoc wrought on their youthful feminine psyche. 35 Such award is distinct
would suffice. Note that even the briefest of contacts under circumstances of force, intimidation, or from indemnity awarded to complainant for the injury that she suffers because of the offense
unconsciousness is already rape in our jurisdiction. 27 In order to sustain a conviction for rape, committed on her person. In this case, both indemnity and moral damages are justifiably called for.
penetration of the female genital organ by the male is not indispensable. Neither rupture nor laceration
of any part of the woman's genitalia is required. Thus, the fact that the complainant's hymen is intact WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed Decision of the court a quo imposing the
and there is no sign of laceration will not negate a finding that rape was penalty ofreclusion perpetua on accused-appellant is hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION that
committed. 28 In this case, what counts is the fact of contact with and penetration of the sexual organ, accused-appellant is further ORDERED to pay the complainant indemnity in the amount of fifty
no matter how slight. 29 There was, therefore, on this point no error on the part of the trial court in thousand (P50,000.00) pesos and moral damages also in the amount of fifty thousand pesos
concluding that indeed rape has been committed. (P50,000.00). Costs against appellant.

Accused-appellant likewise contends that complainant's acts and deeds after the assault was unnatural SO ORDERED.
and not in accord with the ordinary experience of mankind, for a rape victim usually suffers trauma or
even a nervous breakdown. But it has been repeatedly held by the Court, that different people react 6. G.R. No. 122746 January 29, 1999
differently to emotional stress. There is no standard form of behavior when one is confronted by a PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
shocking incident. The workings of the human mind when placed under emotional stress are vs.
unpredictable. 30 As held in People v. Luzorata, 31 "this Court indeed has not laid down any rule on how MARIO VILLANUEVA y FAUSTINO, accused-appellant.
a rape victim should behave immediately after she has been abused. This experience is relative and
may be dealt with in any way by the victim depending on the circumstances, but her credibility should
not be tainted with any modicum of doubt.
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
Certain victims of rape might never be able to complain or file criminal charges against the rapist. They
might bear the ignominy and pain of the offense in private, rather than reveal their shame to the world In a decision 1 rendered in Criminal Case No. 93-127826, the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 28,
or risk the rapist's making good the threat to kill or hurt the victims. 32 But the silence of the victim of found accused-appellant MARIO VILLANUEVA y FAUSTINO (hereafter MARIO) guilty beyond reasonable
rape, or her failure to disclose her state without loss of time to persons close to her and to report the doubt of murder as charged, and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay
matter promptly to the authorities, will not perforce warrant the conclusion that she was not sexually P50,000.00 as death indemnity, P53,800.00 as actual damages, P1,663,668.00 for the loss of earning
molested or that her charges against the accused are baseless, untrue and fabricated. Mere failure to capacity of the victim, P50,000.00 as moral damages and the costs of suit.
report the incident immediately will not cast doubt on the credibility of the charge. Even if delay could
not be attributed to death threats and intimidation made and exercised by the accused on the The Information charged MARIO with murder allegedly committed as follows:
victim, 33 such failure in making a prompt report to the proper authorities does not destroy the truth per
se of the complaint. That on or about September 19, 1993 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said
accused conspiring and confederating with one whose true name, real identity and
Moreover, accused-appellant could not capitalize on the minor inconsistencies in the testimony of the present whereabouts are still unknown and mutually helping each other, did then and
complainant, even if they do exist. Such minor inconsistencies tend to bolster, rather than weaken, her there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill and with evident
credibility for they show that her testimony was not contrived nor rehearsed. Besides, errorless premeditation and treachery, attack, assault and use personal violence upon one

30 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
JOAQUIN NACIONAL Y BANEZ by then and there shooting the latter with an unknown recorded in the police blotter and gave a physical description of MARIO and his companion. She was
caliber revolver hitting him at the back of his right ear, thereby inflicting upon the informed on 22 September 1993 that MARIO had been apprehended. 10
said Joaquin Nacional y Banez a mortal gunshot wound which was the direct and
immediate cause of his death.2 Bienvenida surmised that the killing of her brother Joaquin was due to an altercation between him and
MARIO over a bet in a cockfight. During that altercation, which occurred at the plaza some ten days
MARIO pleaded not guilty upon his arraignment on 17 December 1993.3 before the incident, Bienvenida pacified the two and told her brother to go home, and the latter
obeyed. She described her brother as the calmer one between the two, and that during the altercation,
Witnesses for the prosecution were Adelfa Nacional, Bienvenida Nacional, PO3 Rosales M. Fernandez, he answered MARIO's grave and serious curses with less grave curses. 11 This altercation was different
PO3 Ireneo Manalili and Dr. Maximo Reyes. Witnesses for the defense were MARIO, Domingo Pelio, from that reported by Adelfa which occurred a year before the crime.
Eva Torio and Edmundo Ventura.
PO3 Rosales M. Fernandez arrested MARIO on the night of 22 September 1993, after following a lead
Adelfa Nacional, the wife of Joaquin Nacional, the victim, testified that on 19 September 1993, at provided by another officer. Later that night, Fernandez arranged a police line-up where Adelfa
around 10:00 p.m., in Area C, Parola Compound, Tondo, Manila, she fetched Joaquin from a wake. Nacional pointed out MARIO as her husband's killer. Fernandez divulged that MARIO was not assisted
Before proceeding home, they first bought cigarettes from a store owned by Joaquin's sister, by counsel at the line-up, and admitted that Edgar Rioferio was also arrested but the inquest fiscal
Bienvenida Nacional. While were buying cigarettes, Adelfa was about one arm's length to the left of ordered his release. 12
Joaquin. She noticed two persons walk behind them. One of the two, whom she identified as MARIO,
moved to about a foot and a half behind her husband, pulled a gun from his waist, pointed the gun PO3 Ireneo Manalili received Bienvenida Nacional's report on the night of the incident and entered it in
below her husband's right ear and shot her husband. MARIO and his companion then ran towards a the police blotter. 13 With Bienvenida, he went to the crime scene to investigate.
nearby alley. Joaquin fell to the ground and Adelfa shouted for help. According to Adelfa, the crime
scene was illuminated by a fluorescent lamp. 4 Dr. Maximo Reyes, National Bureau of Investigation Medico-Legal Officer, conducted the post-mortem
examination on the victim. His findings were summarized in an autopsy report 14 as follows:
Adelfa recognized MARIO because she often saw him at the plaza which was near Adelfa's house and a
usual venue for cockfights. She remembered that about a year before the incident, she saw her Cyanosis, lips and nailbeds.
husband in front of their house having an "altercation" with MARIO over a cockfight. 5
Contused abrasions: zygomatic area, right 2.0 x 2.0 cms.; mandibular area, medical
Adelfa again saw MARIO on the night of 22 September 1993 at the police station after she and aspect, 1.0 x 0.5 cm.
Bienvenida Nacional were informed that MARIO had been apprehended. From a line-up of eight
persons, Adelfa identified Mario as her husband's killer. 6
Gunshot wound, entrance, ovaloid, 0.7 x 0.8 cm., contusion collar widest at its infero-
lateral border, edges inverted with area of smudging and tatooing, 5.0 x 4.0 cms.,
Adelfa spent P32,000.00 for her husband's coffin and P5,000.00 during the wake. Other expenses located at the scalp, post-auricular area, right, 3.0 cms. behind and 0.5 cm. above
related to her husband's funeral were paid for by her mother-in-law. the right external auditory meatus, directed forwards, upwards and medially,
involving the scalp, fracturing the right temporal bone, into the cranial cavity,
Adelfa further testified that her husband earned about P2,500.00 a week from selling fish, and that penetrating the right temporal lobe at the brain where a deformed bullet was lodged
because of his death, she suffered grief and wounded feelings, which could not "be paid in terms of and subsequently recovered.
money." 7 Moreover, she also lost someone who could help her.8
Other visceral organs, congested.
The prosecution wanted to present Yolanda Nacional, the victim's mother, to prove the amount spent
for funeral, but the defense stipulated that the victim's heirs spent P53,800.00 for the purpose. 9 Stomach, contains small amount of rice and other partially digested food particles.

Bienvenida Nacional, the victim's sister, corroborated Adelfa's testimony as to the circumstances CAUSE OF DEATH: GUNSHOT WOUND AT THE HEAD.
attending the commission of the crime, but as viewed from a different angle since Bienvenida was
positioned about one arm's length in front of the victim. She tried to help lift her brother after he was
The fatal bullet entered from behind the victim's right ear with an upward trajectory, thus it
shot, but in her nervousness and fear from seeing blood flow from her brother's head, she was
unaware that she had already run to the police station to get help. At the station, she had the incident was retrieved in the right temporal area. There was smudging or tattooing at the bullet's entry

31 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
point, indicating that the muzzle of the gun was between three to six inches away from said In its decision 22 of 14 June 1995, the trial court gave full faith and credence to the testimonies of the
entry point. There were abrasions on the right zygomatic area, that is, below the eye, witness for the prosecution, describing them as candid, straightforward and frank. The trial court took
indicating that the victim fell to the ground on his face with force. 15 judicial notice of the volume of traffic from Caloocan City to Tondo, and concluded that it was not
impossible for MARIO to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission. The trial
Domingo Pelio, the first defense witness, testified that he and MARIO were neighbors in Parola court likewise dismissed MARIO's contention that the Nacionals wanted to get even with him for his
Compound, Tondo. On 19 September 1993, between 9:00 to 10:00 in the evening, Pelio went to refusal to testify for Joaquin Nacional in the criminal cases filed against the latter. The court noted that
MARIO's house to ask for help in replacing a fuse in Pelio's fuse box at his house. MARIO was not at these cases were filed several years before the victim was even married, hence MARIO's refusal to
home, however, because according to his wife, MARIO was in Malinta, Caloocan City. After the incident testify was inconsequential.
in question, Pelio heard rumors from his neighbors that MARIO was involved in said incident; and after
he learned of MARIO's arrest, Pelio went to police headquarters to ask MARIO about the killing. The trial court determined that there was treachery in the killing of Joaquin Nacional since the attack
MARIO said that he had nothing to do with the killing. Pelio then executed an affidavit attesting to came from behind the victim with a concealed weapon which was suddenly fired at the victim. The
MARIO's innocence, which he filed with the City Prosecutor's Office. 16 victim was completely unaware of the attack and was thus totally defenseless. The court then decreed
as follows:
Eva Torio testified that she knew MARIO as the brother of her neighbor and friend Nilda. On 19
September 1993, at about 2:00 p.m., MARIO brought carabao skin to the Torio residence at Sitio Gitna, WHEREFORE, finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Kaybiga, Caloocan City, for Eva's husband's birthday party. From 2:00 to 4:00 that afternoon, MARIO, murder in the shooting of Joaquin Nacional y Banez, the accused, Mario Villanueva, is
one Boyet, and Eva's husband prepared and cooked the carabao skin. The group brought five cases of hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, the medium period of
beer then engaged in a drinking session. She stayed with the group, although she did not join in the the penalty prescribed for murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, there
drinking but only sat beside her husband. She slept at 10:30 p.m. while the three were still drinking. being no mitigating or aggravating circumstance. The duration of said penalty shall
The next morning, at around 6:00 p.m., Torio went to Nilda's house where MARIO slept. She asked him be that provided in Article 27 of the Revised Penal Code before it was amended by
to build a fusebox for her, which he completed between 8:00 to 9:00 that morning. 17 R.A. No. 7659.

Edmundo Ventura testified that he joined in the drinking session, which lasted until midnight. MARIO The accused is ordered to indemnify the heirs of Joaquin Nacional in the sum of
never left the group except when he took his dinner, but he returned shortly thereafter. When the P50,000.00; to pay the widow, Adelfa Nacional, and the mother, Yolanda Nacional,
drinking session ended, Ventura left with MARIO and a certain Rony Macapobre, and Ventura saw actual damages in the sum of P53,800.00; to pay the heirs of Joaquin Nacional for
MARIO enter Nilda's house. 18 the loss of earning capacity of the deceased in the sum of P1,663,680.00; and to pay
moral damages to the widow, Adelfa Nacional, in the sum of P50,000.00; and finally,
MARIO reiterated the story told by the defense witnesses. The trial court summarized his testimony as the accused must pay the costs.
follows:
SO ORDERED.
[T]hat on September 19, 1993, at 10:00 . . . in the evening, he was in Sitio Gitna,
Kaybiga, Kalookan City; that he left his house that day at about 10:30 in the morning, The award for loss of earning capacity was computed in accordance with the decision in Monzon v.
passed by Divisoria and bought carabao and cow skins or hides, which he bought Intermediate Appellate Court. 23 His Motion for reconsideration 24 having been denied by the trial court
with him to Gitna to be cooked or made into kilawinas pulutan in the house of Jun in its order 25 of 18 September 1995, MARIO interposed this appeal.
Torio; that they finished cooking at 4:00 p.m., and after they had bought beer they
started drinking up to 12 . . . midnight; that he did not leave Sitio Gitna, Kaybiga, In his Appellant's Brief, MARIO claims that the trial court erred in:
Kalookan City; and that he went home to his house in Area C, Parola Compound,
Tondo, Manila, on September 20, 1993, at 11:00 . . . in the morning. 19
1. not giving credit to the accused-appellant's testimony and that of
his witnesses, and in disregarding his defense of alibi;
Additionally, MARIO explained that the victim was once a friend of his, but Adelfa Nacional
accused him of killing the victim because sometime in 1992, "in a highway near [MARIO's]
place," the victim lost P20.00 to MARIO in a game of cara y cruz. 20 The victim's family also 2. giving credence to the testimonies of the two prosecution
witnesses, who are related to the victim; and in holding that the
harbored ill feelings towards MARIO because he refused to testify for Joaquin Nacional in two
accused-appellant was positively and spontaneously identified by
criminal case, including one for the killing of a son of MARIO's compadre, where Joaquin
these prosecution witnesses; and
Nacional was one of the accused. 21
32 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
3. concluding that the guilt of the accused for the crime of murder Q And what did she do if any?
has been established by evidence beyond reasonable doubt.
A She also cried.
As to the first error assigned, MARIO scores the trial court for venturing into conjecture, particularly in
the following portion of the decision: Q And did she tell you anything, while you were embracing your
husband?
Sitio Gitna, Kaybiga, Kalookan City is located midway between, and lies along Gen.
Luis Street which joins Novaliches and the Valenzuela Exit of the North Expressway. A Yes, sir. According to her, it was Mario who shot my husband. 27
General Luis St. is a two lane road where many vehicles, private and public, pass
everyday, but as the day wanes and advances into the night the traffic volume
MARIO further claims that Adelfa's testimony was less than candid and straightforward as illustrated by
lessens at between the hours of 9:00 and 11:00 and travel is fast either way to
the following segment:
Novaliches or to the North Expressway, such that in less than an hour, one can get to
Tondo, Manila, whether through Novaliches along Quirino Highway to Balintawak, or
from Valenzuela Exit along the North Expressway to Balintawak, then EDSA to Grace Q And then Mrs. witness, while he [Joaquin Nacional] was then
Park, Kalookan City, then to J. Abad Santos Avenue to Tondo. Of these facts this buying cigarettes, he was standing about one arm's length, what
court can take judicial notice. And in a taxicab, of which the accused by his own happened next?
testimony, is a driver, the travel time will be much less. It was not physically
impossible for the accused to be at the scene of the shooting of Joaquin Nacional. 26 A Somebody arrived and shot my husband at the back of the lower
portion of his right ear sir. 28
where the trial court assumed that traffic from MARIO's original location to the crime scene
was light and that he could readily avail of means of transportation. and argues that if Adelfa positively identified him as the gunman, she should have forthwith
stated his name instead of simply referred to him as "Somebody."
MARIO insists on his testimony that he was in Caloocan City in the middle of a drinking spree, which
was corroborated by number of defense witnesses. MARIO claims that he and his witnesses were MARIO also questions his arrest three days after the commission of the crime. If he was indeed
candid, straightforward and frank, and considering that the corroborating witnesses were neither positively identified, he should have been immediately arrested. Additionally, at the police line-up on 24
related to him nor good friends of his, they had no reason to lie. September 1993. Adelfa identified Edgar Rioferio y Medano as MARIO's companion on the night of the
crime, yet Rioferio was released by the police.
Although MARIO admits it could have been possible for him to be at the crime scene, he asserts that
the prosecution failed to establish this possibility as fact by proof beyond reasonable doubt. On the third assigned error, MARIO claims the prosecution presented no hard evidence, such as a
paraffin test, fingerprints, blood samples or clothing, to indubitably link him to the crime. The
Anent the second assigned error, MARIO expresses doubts that prosecution witnesses were able to prosecution merely had and relied on the prosecution witnesses' testimony; which MARIO claims was
positively identify him as the killer of the victim. In the first place, no ocular inspection of the crime insufficient to dispel reasonable doubt. In sum, he assesses the prosecution's evidence as circumstantial
scene was ever conducted, hence lighting conditions, which the trial court concluded were sufficient for and conjectural.
a positive identification, were not definitely determined. He adds that even if a place were lit, "light
casts shadows and can play tricks with a person's sight." Also, MARIO was shorter than the victim, In the Appellee's Brief, the Solicitor General belittles MARIO's defense of alibi, and asserts that for alibi
hence it was possible for the victim to have blocked the view of Bienvenida and prevented her from to prosper, an accused must prove not only that he was not at the crime scene at the time of the
clearly seeing the assailant. Moreover, Adelfa Nacional's identification was flawed since it was merely commission of the crime, but that it was absolutely impossible for him to have been there at that time.
instilled in her mind by Bienvenida Nacional, as shown by Adelfa's testimony: Furthermore, assuming that the defense witnesses were telling the truth that they were drinking with
MARIO, none of them categorically admitted that they kept an eye on him at all times from 4:00 p.m.
Q Do you still remember Madam witness, what did you and your to 12:00 midnight of 19 September 1993. Hence, MARIO was unable to demonstrate the feasibility of
sister-in-law do if any, after your husband was shot? his alibi.

A Yes, sir. On MARIO's contention that the eyewitnesses' relation to the victim clouded their reliability, the Office
of the Solicitor General replies that relationship is not equal to bias; on the contrary, a witness'

33 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
relationship with the victim would deter him or her from indiscriminately implicating anybody in the of providing alibi. It is settled that alibi is an affirmative defense 34 and, considering that it is easy to
crime. As to MARIO's comment on the lighting conditions at the crime scene, responds that a witness' concoct, when an accused relies thereon, he has the burden of proving it, i.e., that he could not have
familiarity with another person makes it easy for the former to identify the latter. Adelfa and Bienvenida been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission. 35
Nacional were not only familiar with MARIO, but they knew him quite well, thus making it easy for them
to identify him. The point as regards MARIO's height was likewise inconsequential since two MARIO failed in this task, as in fact he relinquished his duty to the prosecution, which, in turn, was not
eyewitnesses clearly recognized and positively identified him as the assailant. If at all, that MARIO was bound to perform the same for him.
shorter than the victim conformed with the evidence that the fatal bullet took an upward trajectory.
The already feeble defense of alibi further weakens in the face of positive identification of the accused.
As to Bienvenida's reference to MARIO in her testimony as "Somebody," the Office of the Solicitor Equally cognizant of this canon, MARIO sought to cast doubt on his positive identification by the
General asserts that it is not necessary for the name of the accused to be specified by a witness in an eyewitnesses, speculating as to the presence of shadows and the relative positions of the victim and
affidavit or testimony since victims of crimes can not always identify their assailants by name. the assailant. These speculations are, however, unworthy of consideration and must remain mere
speculations, for the eyewitnesses categorically stated that they saw MARIO shoot the victim.
Lastly, the Office of the Solicitor General argues that although the police waited for three days before
arresting MARIO, said action or inaction was the fault of the authorities and not a factor that could MARIO also misunderstood Adelfa when he interpreted the latter's testimony to mean that Bienvenida
affect the eyewitnesses' credibility. suggested to her that MARIO shot the victim. Construing Adelfa's testimony in its entirety, and not
merely taking a portion out of context, we find that Bienvenida merely confirmed what Adelfa saw. In
There being sufficient evidence to convict MARIO, the Office of the Solicitor General dismisses as fact, on cross-examination, Adelfa insisted that she saw MARIO shoot her husband, thus:
unnecessary the other evidence that MARIO seeks. If presented, these pieces of evidence would only
be corroborative of the eyewitnesses' positive identification of MARIO as the assailant. At any rate, Q: Now, while you were embracing your husband who was lying on
choosing which evidence to present to the trial court is the prosecutor's prerogative. his back and you were crying profusely and continuously someone
from behind said that a certain "Mario" shot your husband?
We find no merit in this appeal.
PROSECUTOR
Alibi, upon which MARIO's defense hinges upon, is the weakest of defenses. For alibi to prosper, an
accused must prove that not only was he absent at the scene of the crime at the time of its Again, Your Honor, the witness already said that she cannot
commission, but also that it was physically impossible for him to be so situated at said remember what happened after the shooting.
instance. 29 MARIO set out to prove his alibi by claiming that he was in Caloocan City engaged in a
drinking spree from 2:00 p.m. to midnight. But as the Office of the Solicitor General pointed out,
ATTY. LEYBLE
MARIO failed to show that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the crime scene at the
time the crime was committed. None of the corroborating witnesses kept so close a watch on MARIO as
to be able to account for his whereabouts during the entire period from 2:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight: My question, Your Honor, is that since she remembered that there
Eva Torio admitted that she did not know MARIO's whereabouts from 10:30 p.m. of 9 September 1993 were many people around and at the time she was crying if she
to 6:00 a.m. the following day; 30 Edmundo Ventura admitted that MARIO momentarily left the drinking heard somebody saying that it was "Mario" who shot her husband,
session and the Torio residence to take dinner; 31 and Domingo Pelio revealed that a trip from Malinta, Your Honor.
where MARIO allegedly was on 19 September 1993, to Manila, would take only half an hour, and at any
rate, Pelio did not personally know that MARIO was in Malinta. 32 COURT

We acknowledge that the trial court improperly took judicial notice of the travel time from Caloocan City Let the witness answer.
to Tondo, since the same can not be considered a law of nature, nor was it shown to be capable of
unquestionable demonstration or to be of public knowledge, nor could it have been known to the trial
WITNESS
judge due to the nature of his judicial functions. 33 But the point remains that MARIO failed to prove
that he could not have been at the crime scene at the time of the commission of the crime. On the 36
contrary, he even admitted that it was possible for him to be at the scene of the offense at the time of A: I did not hear anything. I saw it myself.
its commission, but he was confident that the prosecution failed to disprove this circumstance by proof
beyond reasonable doubt. MARIO's confidence betrays a misconception of which party has the burden
34 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
That Adelfa referred to MARIO as "Somebody," instead naming him, is of no moment. One must Regarding MARIO's refusal to testify for Joaquin Nacional in the criminal cases against the latter, the
consider that the examining counsel was taking Adelfa step by step through her story, and the question Nacionals could not have borne any ill motive against MARIO due to the same, because said cases were
propounded to her did not require that she immediately name the assailant. But earlier in her testimony in fact dismissed, even without MARIO's testimony. Without any ill motive to encourage them to falsely
Adelfa identified MARIO by name because the questions asked her were as follows: testify against MARIO, we find the testimonies of the eyewitnesses to be credible and trustworthy,
consistent with the trial court's assessment of these witnesses.
Q What was the cause of death your husband?
Because credible witnesses had already demonstrated MARIO's culpability, there was no need to
A He was shot sir. present further evidence linking him to the crime. There is no requirement of a certain quantity of
evidence before one may be justly convicted for an offense. The only requisite is that the prosecution
prove the accused's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution in the instant case successfully
Q By whom? accomplished its task.
37
A By Mario Villanueva sir.
Finally, the trial court correctly held that there was treachery in this case. There is treachery when the
offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means, methods or forms in the
At any rate then, Adelfa identified "Somebody" as none other than MARIO. execution thereof which tend directly or specifically to ensure its execution, without risk to himself
arising from the defense which the offended party might make. 41 The victim was not aware of any
We fail to see how the arrest of MARIO three days after Adelfa reported the crime to the police could impending attack against his person, and even Adelfa Nacional, who had seen MARIO approach her
mean that Adelfa failed to identify MARIO. Clearly a third party's action or inaction cannot affect a husband, was surprised by the suddenness with which MARIO shot her husband. Under these
witness credibility. circumstances, the victim was clearly deprived of an opportunity to defend himself, thus ensuring the
execution of the offense without risk to MARIO. Hence, there was treachery.
MARIO'S reliance on the transcripts of the testimonies, which he quoted out of context, has led him to
unfounded conclusions and justifies our well-ingrained rule that when the issue is one of credibility of There is, however, the matter of lost income awarded by the trial court in favor of the heirs of the
witnesses, appellate courts will generally not disturb the findings of the trial court, considering that the victim. Although the award was not objected to by MARIO, we feel the same is unjustified, hence must
latter is in a better position to decide the question, having heard the witnesses themselves and be deleted. In fixing the award, the trial court relied on the unsubstantiated and incomplete testimony
observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial, unless it has plainly overlooked of Adelfa Nacional, specifically the following:
certain facts of substance and value that, if considered; might affect the result of the case. 38 For this
case boils down to an appraisal of the credibility of the witnesses, and we cannot undertake the Q Do you have children by Joaquin Nacional?
assessment with accuracy when all we have before us are the cold, unspeaking records of the case;
otherwise we would make the same mistakes that Mario committed. Instead, we rely on the evaluation
A Yes, Your Honor.
by the trial judge, who had the advantage of directly observing witness' deportment and manner of
testifying, as well as having certain potent aids in understanding and weighing the testimony of
witnesses, such as the emphasis, gesture and inflection of the voice of the witnesses while on the Q How many?
stand. 39
A Two, Your Honor.
We see no oversight on the part of the trial court which would justify nullifying its determination of the
credibility of the prosecution witnesses. Not even MARIO's allegation of bias against the eyewitnesses Q When Joaquin Nacional was alive who support it?
due to their relationship to the victim persuades us. Relationship by itself does not give rise to a
presumption of bias or ulterior motive, nor does it ipso facto impair the credibility or tarnish the A Me, sir, I was selling fish then.
testimony of a witness. The natural interest of witnesses, who are relatives of the victim, in securing
the conviction of the guilty would deter them from implicating persons other than the true culprits,
Q Joaquin Nacional was not supporting your children?
otherwise, the guilty would go unpunished. A witness' relationship to a victim of a crime would even
make his or her testimony more credible as it would be unnatural for a relative who is interested in
vindicating the crime to accuse thereof somebody other than the real culprit. 40 A Sometimes Your Honor, he helps me in vending fish.

Q Do you know what was his income more or less per month?

35 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
A Sometimes Your Honor, we earned P5,000.00 a week. The rule alluded to by the trial judge dates back to Alcantara v. Surro, 43 where the Court, using the
American Experience/Expectancy Table of Mortality or the Actuarial or Combined Experience Table of
Q How much was he earned share of Joaquin Nacional in that Mortality, estimated the life span of an average human being to be up to 80 years old, and with that in
earning? mind, computed the estimated income to be earned by the deceased had he or she not been killed. But
the compensation for lost income is in the nature of damages, 44 and as such requires due proof of the
damage suffered. 45 For lost income due to death, there must be unbiased proof of the deceased's
A P2,500.00, Your Honor.
average income. Adelfa gave only a self-serving, hence unreliable, statement of her husband's income.
Also, the award for lost income refers to the net income of the deceased, that is, his total income less
Q Was that his regular income? his average expenses. 46 In the instant case, no proof of the victim's expenses was presented, thus
there can be no reliable estimate of his lost income.
A Yes, Your Honor.
WHEREFORE, the decision in Criminal Case No. 93-127826 by Branch 28 of the Regional Trial Court of
xxx xxx xxx Manila, rendered on 14 June 1995, finding accused-appellant MARIO VILLANUEVA y FAUSTINO guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of MURDER is hereby AFFIRMED, with the modification that the award for the
loss of earning capacity of the deceased is deleted. The rest of the decision stands.
FISCAL VIOLA:

Costs against accused-appellant.1wphi1.nt


Q By the way Mrs. Witness, when your husband died when he
was stabbed [sic] how old was he at that time?
SO ORDERED.
A 28 years old, sir.
7. G.R. No. 129556 November 11, 1998
Q And what was his physical condition at that time?
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
A He was healthy, sir.
REY GADO, accused-appellant.

Q And do you think with that present condition physical condition


up to what age can he still work to provide finance for your family?

MELO, J.:
ATTY. LEBLE:

Accused-appellant Rey Gado seeks reversal of the judgment of conviction rendered by Branch 276 of
I think the witness incompetent, Your Honor.
the Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region stationed in Muntinlupa City.

FISCAL VIOLA:
The Information dated July 14, 1992 charging accused-appellant and his co-accused Emma Gallos with
Murder pertinently alleged:
She competent Your Honor, she is the wife, Your Honor.
That on or about the 30th day of January, 1992, in the Municipality
COURT: of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within and jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and
At any rate there is a rule for that provided by the Supreme confederating together and both of them mutually helping and
Court. 42 aiding one another, with intent to kill, with treachery, while armed
with a bladed weapon, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously stab Melencio M. Manalang, Jr. in his abdomen as a
result of which said victim sustained a serious body injury which
36 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
caused his death, to the damage and prejudice of his heirs in such Criminal Service Command of the Cavite Provincial Office while detained at Camp Vicente Lim, Calamba,
amount as may be proven at the trial. Laguna due to a charge of Robbery/Hold Up before the Municipal Trial Court of Carmona, Cavite (p. 11,
Record).
(
On November 21, 1994, both accused-appellantp Rey Gado, and his co-accused Emma Gallos, who
voluntarily appeared in court upon notice, were arraigned
. and both entered a plea of not guilty. Emma
Gallos was then also ordered to be detained.
1
The two accused, on their part, sought refuge in ,their defense of alibi. Rey Gado claimed to have been
tending the store of his brother at Sucat, Cupang, Muntinlupa, about five kilometers away from the
place where the incident happened, while EmmaRGallos averred that she was at home tending to her
sick daughter. e
c
o
The trial court rendered judgment acquitting Emma Gallos. Rey Gado was, however, convicted of the
r
crime of murder and sentenced to suffer "the penalty of reclusion perpetua . . . and [to] indemnify the
d
heirs of his victim the sum of P50,000.00 and to pay
. P50,000.00 as reimbursement for the medical and
burial expenses. . ." Hence, the present appeal anchored
) on the following assigned errors:

I
During trial, the prosecution adduced the inculpatory facts through Fernando Reyes, Melencio
Manalang, Sr. (the victim's father), and Dr. Alberto M. Reyes, then Acting Chief of the NBI Medico-Legal
Division, which may be summarized as follows: THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE AFFIDAVIT OF
WITNESS FERNANDO REYES.
On the evening of January 30, 1992, the victim and some of his friends were having a drinking session
at the house of Juanito Vicente. Shortly thereafter, the victim decided to leave and accused-appellant II
Rey Gado and Juanito Vicente decided to bring him home. With them were a certain Emma and her
brother whose name the victim failed to mention. On their way, and while they were along Fleur De Liz THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONSIDERING MELENCIO
Street, the victim was held by his companions and he was stabbed in the abdomen by Rey Gado. As the MANALANG'S TESTIMONY AS A DYING DECLARATION.
victim freed himself from his assailants, the latter fled. He immediately grabbed a stone and hurled it at
them.
III

While he was proceeding home, he was chanced upon by barangay tanod Fernando Reyes who offered
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT LENDING CREDENCE TO
to help him home. At about 9 o'clock that evening, he reached their house. He immediately slumped on
ACCUSED-APPELLANT'S ALIBI.
the floor and asked his father to bring him to the hospital. Upon his father's query, the victim identified
Rey Gado as his assailant.
IV
While aboard a jeep on their way to Perpetual Help Hospital at Las Pias, Metro Manila, the victim once
more related what happened to him, identifying the other companions of Rey Gado. He was given THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-
medical attention at Perpetual Help Hospital but about four hours thereafter, at around 2 o'clock early APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
morning of January 31, 1992, he succumbed.
After carefully going over accused-appellant's arguments as well as the evidentiary record, we find his
On September 15, 1992, an Information charging Rey Gado and Emma Gallos was filed in court. An appeal wanting in merit.
order for the arrest of the accused was accordingly issued on September 17, 1992, but the same was
left unserved. The trial court ordered the case to be archived on February 22, 1993. It was not until On the issue of witness Fernando Reyes's retraction, the trial court, in its order denying the motion for
May 30, 1994 when Rey Gado, one of the two accused, was served an alias writ of arrest by the PNP reconsideration of accused-appellant, explained thus:
37 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
After carefully evaluating the grounds relied upon in the MOTION and circumstances, such findings and evaluation of evidence should be respected on review (People vs.
FOR RECONSIDERATION AND/OR NEW TRIAL, this Court holds Dio, 226 SCRA 176 [1993]). The presiding judge of the trial court had the opportunity to actually
that the conviction of accused Rey Gado is not only based on the observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses on the witness stand while being asked direct-
affidavit of the eye witness which admittedly was recanted by the examination questions by the prosecution, cross-examination questions by the defense, as well as
affiant, but also on the declaration of the victim who told his father clarificatory questions by the trial judge himself. Between the trial judge and this Court, the former is in
Melencio Manalang, Sr. that he was stabbed by accused; at a time a far better position to determine whether a witness is telling the truth or not. From the records before
when this victim Melencio Manalang, Jr. felt he was weakening, and us we find no reason to disturb the trial court's assessment and to discredit Melencio Manalang, Sr. as a
therefore conscious of an impending death . . . witness.

The central issue to be resolved( is whether the statements, uttered by the victim before he died
partake of the nature of a dyingpdeclaration or not.
.
The Court finds in the affirmative.
2
8
Through the dying declarations of the victim as related by his father, Melencio Manalang, Sr. before
2
Atty. Pepito Tan at the National, Bureau of Investigation, National Capital Region (Taft Avenue, Manila),
the identity of the killer was established in this case, to wit:
R
e 07. T: Maari bang isalaysay mo ang buong pangyayari ayon sa
c pagkakakuwento sa iyo ng biktima na si MELENCIO MANALANG,
o JR.?
r
d S: Ayon po sa aking anak, nag-inuman silang magbabarkada sa
. bahay ni JUANITO VICENTE at nang siya ay malasing na inihatid
) siya ni REY GADO at JUANITO VICENTE na may kasamang isang
babae nagngangalang EMMA at isang lalaki na hindi ko alam ang
We find no further reason to entertain the argument of accused-appellant on this matter. We shall pangalan na kapatid ni EMMA. Noong nasa daan na sila ang Fleur
instead look into whether or not sufficient evidence remains to sustain the conviction of accused- de Luz St. sa ilalim ng puno ng aratiles ay doon na raw siya
appellant for the crime charged. sinaksak ni REY GADO sa may tiyan. Noong nakabitaw si
MELENCIO MANALANG, JR. ay nakadampot pa siya ng bato at
pinukol ang grupo nina REY GADO na nakanya-kanya na ng takbo.
Accused-appellant vigorously takes exception to the trial court's admission of the testimony of Melencio
Noong pauwi na siya ay nasalubong daw niya si FERNANDO REYES,
Manalang, Sr., who testified in regard to the statements and declarations of his son concerning his
isang Barangay Tanod na siyang naghatid sa kanya sa bahay.
assailants, claiming that the said declarations are not in the nature of a dying declaration for the simple
Pagdating sa bahay ay inihatid na namin siya sa hospital ng
reason that they were not made under a clear consciousness of an impending death.
Perpetual Help Medical Center, Las Pias, Metro Mla. na kung saan
siya ay nalagutan ng hininga ng bandang alas-dos ng madaling
We are not persuaded. araw ng January 31, 1992.

Forthwith, we must stress that with regard to the credibility of Melencio Manalang, Sr. as witness, we (
find no reason to disturb the trial court's findings. The settled and time-tested jurisprudence is that the p
findings and conclusions of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses enjoy the respect of appellate .
courts for the reason that trial courts have the advantage of observing the demeanor of witnesses as
they testify (People vs. Cabiles, G.R. No. 112035, January 16, 1998; People vs. Moran, 241 SCRA 709 1
[1995]; People vs. Gamiao, 240 SCRA 254 [1995]). In the absence of any arbitrariness in the trial ,
court's findings and evaluation of evidence which tends to show that it overlooked certain material facts

38 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
E A. Yes, your honor.
x
h Q. Now, did you ask him how he felt?
i
b
A. He told me to bring him to the hospital, your
i
honor.
t

E Q. Did he tell you why he should be taken to the


) hospital?

The witness reiterated the material points of this sworn statement during his testimony before the trial A. Because he is getting weak, your honor.
court. He also established the basis for the admissibility of the dying declaration, as an exception to the
hearsay rule, to wit: Q. Now, did you ask him why he was getting
weak?
COPY
A. He told me that he was stabbed by Rey Gado,
Q. You said that the victim when he arrived at your honor.
your house he was holding his wounds?
Q. And, so he asked you to bring him to the
A. Yes, your honor. hospital because he was getting weak?

Q. Immediately when he arrived at your house, A. Yes, your honor.


what did he do?
Q. He told you that he was only feeling weak. Did
A. He sat down, your honor. you tell him or did you ask him if he did
something or if he wants to eat or anything?
Q. He sat down, where?
A. I did not say anything, your honor.
A. He sat down on the floor, your honor.
Q. Did he say, he did something?
Q. And, you talk at him?
A. No, your honor.
A. Yes, your honor.
Q. He just told you to bring him to hospital
because he was getting weak?
Q. And, he was just sitting on the floor, and was
he was holding his wounds?
A. Yes, your honor.
A. Yes, your honor.
Q. Now, did you ask him where he was stabbed?
Q. And, did you see any blood coming from his
wounds? A. Yes, your honor, he said that he was stabbed
in the stomach, your honor.

39 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
( We cannot quite agree. From the established facts in the case at bar, the trial court correctly
p considered the declaration of the victim a dying declaration and, therefore, admissible. The declarant
p was conscious of his impending death. This may be gleaned not only from the victim's insistence right
. after he reached their house that he should immediately be brought to the hospital and that he was
becoming weaker by the moment, but also from the serious nature of his wounds (People vs. Sarabia,
1 127 SCRA 100 [1984] and the fact that the said victim died shortly afterwards (People v. Araja, 105
7 SCRA 133 [1981]).
-
2 Even assuming that the victim's utterances were not made under a firm belief of an impending death,
0 the victim's statements may, at the very least, form part of the res gestae. For the admission of
, evidence as part of the res gestae, it is required that (a) the principal act, the res gestae, be a startling
occurrence, (b) the statements forming part thereof were made before the declarant had the
t opportunity to contrive, and (c) the statements refer to the occurrence in question and its attending
s circumstances (People vs. Siscar, 140 SCRA 316 [1985]). We have ruled that while the statement of the
n victim may not qualify as a dying declaration because it was not made under the consciousness of
, impending death (People vs. Palamos, 49 Phil. 601 [1926]), it may still be admissible as part of the res
gestae if it was made immediately after the incident (People vs. Reyes, 52 Phil. 538 [1928]), or a few
A hours thereafter (People vs. Tumalip, 60 SCRA 303 [1974]). Definitely, the victim's statement in the
p case at hand was made immediately after the incident, before he could even have the opportunity to
r contrive or concoct a story. Of relevance, too, is the fact that on two occasions, first at their house, and
i later while he was being brought to the hospital, he identified one and the same person as his
l assailant.

1
Where the elements of both a dying declaration and a statement as part of the res gestae are present,
0
as in the case at bar, the statement may be admitted as a dying declaration and at the same time as
,
part of the res gestae (People vs. Balbas, 122 SCRA 859 [1983]).
1
9 From a perusal of the decision of the trial court, one gets the impression that the supposed eyewitness
9 account was heavily relied upon. Thus, on motion for reconsideration, accused-appellant pointed to the
5 inevitable fact that because of retraction by the supposed eyewitness of the sworn statement executed
) by him before the investigating officer, full credence thereto may no longer be accorded. The trial court
justified the conviction anyway, upon the strength of the dying declaration as related by Melencio
As a rule, a dying declaration is hearsay and is inadmissible as evidence. In order that a dying Manalang, Sr.
declaration may be admissible as evidence, four requisites must concur, namely: that the declaration
must concern the cause and surrounding circumstances of the declarant's death; that at the time the The court has re-assessed the evidence of the prosecution minus the supposed eyewitness account to
declaration was made, the declarant was under a consciousness of an impending death; that the determine whether it would be correct to convict accused-appellant of murder, and not simple
declarant is competent as a witness; and that the declaration is offered in a criminal case for homicide, homicide. This Court finds ample basis to uphold the conviction of accused-appellant for the killing of
murder or parricide, in which the declarant is a victim (People vs. Israel, 231 SCRA 155 [1994]; People Melencio Manalang, Jr. qualified by treachery, as alleged in the Information.
vs. Lazarte, 200 SCRA 361 [1991]).
While the victim was being brought to the Perpetual Help Hospital at Las Pias, Metro Manila boarded
Capitalizing on the fact that the victim was still able to stand and walk even after the first declaration on a jeep hired for the purpose, the victim related the following to his father.
was made, accused-appellant contends that there could not have possibly been a belief of a looming
and impending death on the part of the victim. FISCAL DE JOYA:

40 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Q. What was your conversation, between you r
and your son? i
l
A. He told me that he was stabbed by Rey Gado
under the tree of alatires, ma'am. 1
0
,
Q. And what else did your son tell you?
1
A. He was able to free himself from the person 9
who was holding him, he got a stone and he cast 9
stone to the person who stabbed him, ma'am. 5
)
Q. You said that your son told you that one Rey
Gado stabbed him? It seems fairly established, therefore, that more than one person attacked the victim. While he was
being stabbed by accused-appellant, some of the companions of accused-appellant were holding the
A. Yes, ma'am. victim in a defenseless position. The manner in which the stabbing was done tended directly and
specially to ensure its execution, affording the victim no chance to put up any defense. This
constitutes alevosia. The killing, therefore, was qualified to murder. It is to be noted also that accused-
Q. What else did your son tell you about the said
appellant and his companions were supposed to assist the victim home. However, instead of bringing
stabbing incident?
him safely home, accused-appellant and his companions ganged up on the victim, who had no inkling
of any impending attack, having placed himself in the safekeeping of persons who then turned vicious
A. Besides the is being stabbed, he told me that assailants.
this Rey Gado has companions in the name of
Emma Gallos, Juanito Vicente and a certain
The defense of alibi presents itself to be very weak vis--vis the evidence adduced by the prosecution
person who is a tall guy and one John Doe,
pointing to accused-appellant as the perpetrator of the crime. Besides, as correctly pointed out by the
ma'am.
Solicitor General in the People's Brief.

(
For alibi to prosper, it would not be enough for the accused to
p
prove that he has been elsewhere when the crime was committed
p
but he must further demonstrate that it would have been physically
.
impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime at the time of its
commission. (People vs. Esquilona, 248 SCRA 139 [1995]).
9
-
1 (
0 p
, p
.
t
s 8
n -
, 9
,
A
p A

41 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
p 6
p )
e
The laward of actual and compensatory damages in the case at bar must, therefore, be
l
reduced to the amount duly proved at the trial which is to P23,217.65.
e
e
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with the
'
MODIFICATION as to the actual damages as hereinabove indicated. No special pronouncement is made
s
as to costs.
B
SO ORDERED.r
i
e
G.R. No. 116279 January 29, 1996
f
.
8. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
)
vs.
ROGELIO CRISTOBAL, accused-appellant.
Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, Murder is punishable by reclusion
perpetua to death, both indivisible penalties. There being neither mitigating nor aggravating
DECISION
circumstances, the trial court correctly sentenced accused-appellant to the lower penalty of reclusion
perpetua.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
The trial court likewise correctly awarded civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00. However, we do
not see how the award of actual damages in the same amount may be justified in the light of the Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and
evidence tending to show that only the total amount of P23,217.65 was actually spent (see: Exhibit F- charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every
II, p. 9 Folder of Exhibits). It is elementary that actual and compensatory damages, unlike moral and person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically
exemplary damages, cannot be left to the sole discretion of the court. In Del Mundo vs. Court of evil act,1 an outrage upon decency and dignity that hurts not only the victim but the society itself.
Appeals, 240 SCRA 3348 [1995] we stressed that:
The pain rape causes becomes more excruciating when the victim carries the life of an unborn within
A party is entitled to an adequate compensation for such pecuniary her womb. That tender and innocent life, born of love and its parents' participation in the mystery of
loss actually suffered by him as he has duly proved. Such damages, life, is thereby placed in undue danger. Such was the case of Cherry Tamayo, a married woman. She
to be recoverable, must not only be capable of proof, but must was twenty-eight years old, with one child and another on the way, when tragedy struck. She was
actually be proved with a reasonable degree of certainty. We must sexually assaulted on 31 March 1986. Fortunately, the life in her womb survived.
emphasize that these damages cannot be presumed, and courts, in
making an award must point out specific facts which could afford a She accused Rogelio Cristobal of rape in a sworn complaint 2 filed with the Municipal Trial Court (MTC)
basis for measuring whatever compensatory or actual damages are of Maddela, Quirino, on 8 April 1986.
borne.
Having found sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that the crime charged has been
committed and the accused was probably guilty (thereof, the court ruled that the accused should be
held for trial.3 Accordingly, it issued a warrant for his
p arrest4 and fixed his bail bond at P17,000.00. 5 The
accused was arrested but was later released on bail. . 6 Thereafter, the court increased the amount of bail
to P30,000.00 and, consequently, ordered the rearrest of the accused.7 Unfortunately, by this time, he
was nowhere to be found. 3
5

42 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
On 26 August 1986, the MTC ordered the case to be "sent to the files without prejudice to its In the morning of 31 March 1986, Cherry Tamayo, a resident of Barangay San Dionisio I, Maddela,
subsequent prosecution as soon as the defendant is apprehended." 8 Almost a year after, or specifically Quirino, went to the nearby Bilala Creek to wash her family's clothes. She was alone. At around midday,
on 24 August 1987, the said court ordered the records of the case to be forwarded to the Provincial between the hours of 12:00 and 1:00 and after accomplishing her task, she decided to take a bath in
Fiscal for proper disposition. 9 the creek. She was about to start when somebody held her neck from behind and thereafter forcibly
laid her down the ground. Only then did she recognize her attacker, the accused Rogelio Cristobal.
On 15 September 1987, the Provincial Fiscal of Quirino filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cherry managed to stand up and run away, but Rogelio caught up with her and delivered two fistblows
Cabarroguis, Quirino, an information10 charging accused Rogelio Cristobal with the crime of rape to her stomach. Not content with this, Rogelio, while viciously holding her hair, pressed down Cherry's
committed as follows: face into the water. Rogelio then took her three meters away from the creek and forcibly laid her down
on the ground. Because of her weakened and pregnant state, Cherry could not struggle any further.
Rogelio removed her clothes and panties. He then went on top of her, inserted his private organ into
That between the hours of 12:00 to 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon of March 31, 1986 in hers, and succeeded in satisfying his lust on her.17 Afterwhich, he slapped and threatened Cherry with
Barangay San Dionisio I, Municipality of Maddela, Province of Quirino, Philippines and within death if she would talk.18
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused by means of force, threat
and intimidation and with lewd design, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have sexual
intercourse with one CHERRY A. TAMAYO against the will of the latter. The threat went unheeded as Cherry, upon reaching her home, immediately told her husband of what
had happened to her. Her husband accompanied her to the police station of Maddela, Quirino, to report
the incident and then to Dr. Mercedita Erni-Reta for medical examination.19
That the aggravating circumstance of the accused having committed the crime in uninhabited
place attended the commission of the crime.
Dr. Erni-Reta found that Cherry's vaginal canal had a laceration at the erythematous border at 2:00 and
chemoses at 3:00 at the vaginal os.20 On the witness stand, Dr. Erni-Reta confirmed these
CONTRARY TO LAW.
findings.21 She added that, upon internal examination, she found seminal fluid in the vaginal canal
which must have been there for no longer than twenty-four hours.22
The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 604 and assigned to Branch 32 of the said court.
The defense, on the other hand, established the following to refute the version of the prosecution:
A warrant of arrest was issued on 18 October 1987. Because it was returned unserved, an alias warrant
of arrest was issued on 1 February 1988, which was also returned unserved. The trial court then
On 31 March 1986, Rogelio Cristobal was plowing the land of the spouses Wilfredo and Emilia Manzano
ordered the archival of the case and the arrest of the accused. 11
located in Salay, San Agustin, Isabela. He started plowing at 7:00 a.m. and went with Wilfredo to the
latter's home for lunch at around 11:00 a.m.. Emilia was with them for lunch. The three of them talked
It was only on 27 July 1993 when accused Rogelio Cristobal was arrested and detained at the provincial until 2:00 p.m.. He went home thereafter, attended to his children, and then brought out his carabao to
jail. 12 On 21 October 1993, the Provincial Prosecutor filed a Manifestation for the revival of the graze in Talaytay, Dagubog Grande, which is about 200 meters away from his house.23 Then he went to
case,13 which the court favorably acted upon.14 the house of Melchor Cristobal. While he was at Melchor's house, a policeman by the name of Jimmy
Benedicto arrested him for the crime of rape and brought him to Councilor Benjamin Dumlao. He was
Upon arraignment, the accused entered a plea of not guilty. Trial on the merits ensued. subsequently taken to the 166th PC Detachment in San Dionisio, Maddela, Quirino, where he was
interrogated and where he spent the night. In the morning, he was brought to the municipal court to
face the charges filed against him.24
The prosecution presented the offended party, Cherry Tamayo, and the physician who conducted a
medical examination on her, Dr. Mercedita S. Erni-Reta. The defense presented the accused Rogelio
Cristobal and his employer, Wilfredo Manzano, who is married to the accused's cousin, Emilia Manzano. In its decision25 dated 28 March 1994, the trial court found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt
Being merely corroborative to the testimonies of the first two defense witnesses that at the time of the of the crime of rape and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the
alleged commission of the crime the accused was hired by the Manzano spouses to plow their complainant, Cherry Tamayo, in the amount of P30,000.00.
field,15 the testimony of Mrs. Emilia Manzano was admitted by the prosecution to expedite the
disposition of the case.16 The trial court found clear and convincing the categorical testimony of Cherry Tamayo of having been
accosted from behind, knocked to the ground, boxed, submerged in water, taken three meters from the
The evidence for the prosecution established the following facts: creek, and raped.26In view of her positive identification of the accused, it disregarded the defense of
alibi set up by the latter, which it found to be a weak one. It ruled that for the defense of alibi to
prosper the accused must show physical impossibility to be at the scene of the crime at the time it was
committed. The accused was within three kilometers only from Bilala Creek where the rape was
43 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
committed. Such distance is near enough to cover by walking in a matter of thirty minutes.27 It was not, alienated from her husband and her family. If Cherry Tamayo then resolved to face the ordeal and
therefore, physically impossible for him to be at the crime scene at the time the crime was committed. relate in public what many similarly situated would have kept secret, she did so simply to obtain justice.

In this appeal, the accused contends that the trial court erred in (1) convicting him on the basis of the To cast doubt on the credibility of the complainant, the accused cites an inconsistency in the testimony
private complainant's inconsistent testimony, and (2) not giving due weight to his defense of alibi. 28 of the complainant. He points out that at first, the complainant said that her panties were removed by
the accused while she was already lying down, but later she said that it was before she was laid down
The Appellee disagrees with him and prays that the assailed decision be affirmed with modification of on the ground that the accused stripped her of her panties. The accused failed to elevate this
the award for moral damages, which should be increased from P30,000.00 to P50,000.00. 29 inconsistency to the level of a major one sufficient to strip the complainant of credibility. Being too
trivial, such inconsistency does not rock the pedestal upon which the complainant's credibility rests. In
fact, it enhances her credibility, as it manifests spontaneity and lack of scheming. 36
Central to the accused's assigned errors is the issue of the credibility of the complainant. It has long
been settled that when the issue is one of credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will generally not
disturb the findings of the trial court, considering that the latter is in a better position to decide the As to the second assigned error, the accused submits that although as a general rule alibi is a weak
question, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of defense, it gained strength in this case in the light of the aforementioned inconsistency in the
testifying during the trial.30 It has been aptly said: complainant's testimony. We are not persuaded. Since, as discussed above, such inconsistency does
not pierce the complainant's credibility, the, second assigned error has therefore no leg to stand on.
In the resolution of the factual issues, the Court relies heavily on the trial court for its
evaluation Of the witnesses and their credibility. Having the opportunity to observe them on The alibi of the accused thus maintains its weak and impotent state. For the defense of alibi to prosper,
the stand, the trial judge is able to detect that sometimes thin line between fact and it must establish the physical impossibility for the accused to be present at the scene of the crime at the
prevarication that will determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. That line may not be time of its commission.37 The accused's testimony placing himself somewhere else was corroborated by
discernible from a mere reading of the impersonal record by the reviewing court. The record the testimony of Wilfredo and Emilia Manzano. But he failed to establish physical impossibility because
will not reveal those tell-tale signs that will affirm the truth or expose the contrivance, like the the alibi places him within only three kilometers from where the crime was committed, a manageable
angry flush of an insisted assertion or the sudden pallor of a discovered lie or the tremulous distance to travel in a few minutes.
mutter of a reluctant answer or the forthright tone of a ready reply. The record will not show if
the eyes have darted in evasion or looked down in confession or gazed steadily with a serenity For sexually assaulting a pregnant married woman, the accused has shown moral corruption,
that has nothing to distort or conceal. The record will not show if tears were shed in anger, or perversity, and wickedness. He has grievously wronged the institution of marriage. The imposition then
in remembered pain, or in feigned innocence. Only the judge trying the case can see all these of exemplary damages by way of example to deter others from committing similar acts or for correction
and on the basis of his observations arrive at an informed and reasoned verdict. 31 for the public good38 is warranted. 39We hereby fix it at P25,000.00.

This rule admits of exceptions, such as when the evaluation was reached arbitrarily, when the trial Pursuant to the current policy of this Court, the moral damages awarded by the trial court should be
court overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight and substance increased from P30,000.00 to P40,000.00.
which could affect the result of the case. 32 None of these exceptions exists in this case.
WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED, and the decision of Branch 32 of the Regional Trial
It is also settled that when a woman Says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is Court of Cabarroguis, Quirino, in Criminal Case No. 604 convicting the accused ROGELIO CRISTOBAL of
necessary to show that she has been raped, and if her testimony meets the test of credibility the the crime of rape is AFFIRMED, subject to the foregoing modifications. As modified, the award of moral
accused may be convicted on the basis thereof.33 damages is increased from P30,000.00 to P40,000.00, and the accused is further ordered to pay
exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00.
Moreover, the accused was unable to prove any ill motive on the part of the complainant. In fact, in his
answer to the court's questions, he categorically stated that there was no grudge between him and the Costs against the accused.
complainant.34 Where there is no evidence to show any dubious reason or improper motive why a
prosecution witness should testify falsely against the accused or falsely implicate him in a heinous SO ORDERED.
crime, the said testimony is worthy of full faith and credit. 35 9. G.R. No. 150756 October 11, 2006
EDUARDO LEYSON, EDUARDO BANTULO alias "BOY," DOMINADOR BANTULO alias
Additionally, no married woman in her right mind, like Cherry Tamayo, would subject herself to public "DOMING," EDUARDO PADAYAG alias "EDRING," EDDIE PADAYAG alias "OYONG," and
scrutiny and humiliation in order to perpetuate a falsehood. Neither would she take the risk of being RODOLFO PADAYAG alias "JUAN,"petitioners,

44 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
vs.
7. Lea Taculod - 31,160.00
PEDRO LAWA, JENNIFER MOSO, LINO MENDI, MAMER BAGON, JOEL BAGON, LEA
TACULOD, LILIA BAGON, GLORIA ANDA, ALICIA GILON, EDDIE BAGON, PEDRO BAGON,
8. Lilia Bagon - 25,000.00
ROMEO JARMIN, and THE COURT OF APPEALS (Third Division), respondents.
9. Gloria P. Anda - 7,000.00

DECISION 10. Alicia B. Gilon - 98,735.00

11. Eddie Bagon - 27,140.00


CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in 12. Pedro Bagon - 28,710.00
CA-G.R. CR No. 23756 affirming that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), General Santos City, Branch 23,
in Criminal Case No. 12205, except as to the penalty imposed on petitioners Eduardo Leyson, Sr., 13. Romeo Jarmin - 25,000.00
Eduardo Bantulo, Dominador Bantulo, Eduardo Padayag, Eddie Padayag and Rodolfo Padayag.

The Antecedents with the total value of P468,490.00, more or less, and to their damage and prejudice in such
amount.
On February 28, 1997, an Information charging petitioners with arson was filed before the RTC of
General Santos City: CONTRARY TO LAW.2

That on or about 10:00 o'clock in the morning of September 7, 1996 at Nopol, Conel, General Petitioners, assisted by counsel, were arraigned on September 25, 1997 and entered their respective
Santos City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named pleas of not guilty.
accused Eduardo Leyson, as ranch owner, and the accused Ramon Soy, Dominador Bantulo
alias Doming, Bernardo Bantulo alias Boy, Eduardo Padayag alias Edring, Eddie Padayag alias The Case for the Prosecution
Oyong and Rodolfo Padayag alias Juan, who are the cowboys or farm-hands of accused
Eduardo Leyson, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another with malice Sometime in October 1993, Eduardo Leyson allowed some members of the B'laan Tribe to till portions
aforethought, with intent to destroy and cause damage and in order to drive away the of his 29-hectare landholding in Nopol, Conel, General Santos City which he called Nopol Hills Ranch.
different complainants from the area of the ranch of Eduardo Leyson which they have been The following members of the B'laan Tribe were allowed to build their houses and till portions of the
cultivating for years, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously set fire on the land, provided that they would deliver to Leyson 50% of their produce: Romeo Jarmin, Judith Jarmin,
thirteen (13) houses one after the other of the complainants causing damage representing the Mamer Bagon, Joel Bagon, Teresita Bagon, Lilia Bagon, Eddie Bagon, Pedro Bagon, Pedro Lawa,
value of the houses and their personal belongings which were reduced to ashes with their Jennifer Moso, Lino Mendi, Leah Taculod, Gloria P. Anda, Alicia B. Gilon, and Bonifacio Batata.
corresponding value as follows:
Romeo Jarmin built his house on the ranch sometime in December 1993. The roof was made of cogon,
1. Pedro Lawa - P67,795.00 the walls of split bamboo, and the side of a coconut tree was used for flooring. The portion of the ranch
where he planted corn and palay was about 3 hectares.3 Mamer Bagon, his brother-in-law, lived about
2. Jennifer Moso - 7,000.00 50 meters away from him, also in a house made of wood.4 Mamer Bagon planted palay, coconut trees
and other agricultural plants and gave 50% of his produce to Leyson.5 Joel, Teresita, Lilia, Eddie,
3. Lino Mendi - 37,500.00 Pedro, all surnamed Bagon, also built their respective huts in the ranch. Pedro Lawa, who also built a
house on the landholding, also delivered to Leyson his share of the produce from his agricultural crops
4. Mamer Bagon - 85,950.00 as agreed upon.

5. Joel Bagon - 8,500.00 However, on July 20, 1996, Leyson called all the farmers to a meeting and told them to vacate his
ranch. The farmers refused to leave the premises.6
6. Teresita Bagon - 19,000.00

45 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
At about 4:00 p.m. on September 1, 1996, Leyson and his son Winkie, together with his employees
l. Pedro Bagon, for his house and Other lost properties 28,700.00
Ramon Soy, Dominador Bantulo, Juan Padayag and Eduardo Padayag and some policemen, arrived in
the ranch. They were armed, and Leyson himself had a long firearm. 7 They fired their guns at the
m. Romeo Jarmin, for his house 25,000.0013
farmers in an effort to drive them away from the land. Although no one was hurt, the farmers were
petrified. They fled from the ranch and sought sanctuary at the barangay hall. The next day, Romeo
Jarmin, Mamer Bagon, Bonifacio Batata and the other farmers returned to their houses to retrieve their The farmers reported the matter to Sumog-Oy who then invited members of the media, police and
farm animals.8 Leyson and his men threatened to inflict bodily harm on them unless they left the ranch. barangay personnel to the ranch on September 10, 1996. Leyson and the six employees responsible for
The farmers reported the incident to Barangay Captain Manuel Abadimas and to Benjamin Sumog-Oy, the burning of the farmers' houses were pointed out to Sumog-Oy.14 He examined the debris and what
the Executive Assistant for Community Affairs of the City Mayor of General Santos City. 9 remained of the farmers' razed houses. Pictures of the site were also taken.15 Sumog-Oy also saw cattle
owned by Leyson feasting on the crops of the farmers nearby.16 When Sumog-Oy asked Leyson what
At about 10:00 a.m. on September 7, 1996, Romeo Jarmin returned to his house in the ranch with the latter planned to do about the incident, the latter replied that he wanted to be furnished the list of
Mamer Bagon and Bonifacio Batata. Bonifacio Batata wanted to get his share of the agricultural crops the crops which had been eaten by his cattle, including the damages sustained by the farmers and the
from Alicia Gilon.10 Jarmin proceeded to the house of his brother-in-law, Mamer Bagon, and saw Leyson amount thereof. He averred, however, that the cost of the wood used in constructing the huts should
with his employees Rodolfo Padayag, Dominador Bantulo, Eduardo Bantulo, Eduardo Padayag, Eddie not be included because the farmers had taken the same from his ranch. 17Leyson stated that he would
Padayag and Ramon Soy.11 Two of the men were armed with M-16 carbine rifles, another with an M-16 pay for the damages sustained by the farmers.
rifle, and yet another with an armalite.12 When they saw the armed men, Jarmin and Batata hid in a
canal near the cogon area. The armed men fired their guns in the air. One of them set fire on the The Case for the Accused
houses of Mamer Bagon, Pedro Bagon, Alicia Gilon, Joel Bagon, Romeo Jarmin, Pedro Lawa. The
houses of the other farmers were also set aflame. He, along with Mamer Bagon and Bonifacio Batata,
Petitioners denied having burned the huts of the complainants and interposed the defense of alibi.
watched as the houses burned down to mere rubble. The value of the structures and personal
belongings that were lost in the fire, as well as their respective owners, are as follows:
Leyson testified that his co-accused Dominador Bantulo, Eduardo Bantulo, Eduardo Padayag, Jun
Padayag and Eddie Padayag, were employees in his eight-hectare farm located at Lower Nopol, Purok
a. Pablo Lawa, for his house & the items inside P67,000.00 7, Barangay Mabuhay, General Santos City.18 Ramon Soy, however, was not his employee. Leyson
claimed that this property is different from his ranch. He had a contract with Pioneer Seeds Production
b. Jennifer Moso, for her house 7,000.00 for the use of his property for the production of corn seeds.19

c. Lino Mendi, for his house, corn plants, and lost personal properties 37,500.00 He narrated that during the period of September 1 to 11, 1996, he was supervising his men in the
harvesting and loading of corn in his farm which was about 6 kilometers from his ranch, one to two
d. Mamer Bagon, for his house, 8 chickens, shoes, pants, 2 sacks rice, 2 sacks
hours away by horse ride.20They did not go to his ranch on September 1 to 7, 1996.21 He admitted that
corn 85,000.00 he allowed Pedro Lawa, Judith Jarmin, who was the wife of Romeo Jarmin, Leah Taculod, Romeo Mozo,
Eddie Bagon, Mamer Bagon, Joel Bagon, Lilia Bagon and her two sons, to farm portions of his ranch
e. Joel Bagon, for his house 8,500.00
and to construct their huts thereon.22 He asked them to leave the place after two years, but they
refused to go, and even filed a complaint against him before thebarangay captain, who endorsed it to
f. Teresita Bagon, for her house 19,000.00
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.23 Sometime in August 1996, he went to his
ranch to repair the perimeter fence and saw 47 heavily armed men who appeared to be professional
g. Lea Taculod, for her house, 1/2 sack rice, a plow, and a guitar 31,000.00
squatters and MILF elements.24
h. Delia Bagon, for her house & personal belongings 30,000.00
Dominador Bantulo testified that he and Bernardo Bantulo were brothers, employed by Leyson as
i. Gloria P. Anda, for her small hut 7,000.00 laborers in the farm. Rodolfo and Eduardo Padayag were also Leyson's laborers. All of them resided in
Leyson's house in Lower Nopol, Purok 7. Romeo Jarmin was also employed as Leyson's
j. Alicia B. Gilon, for her house, corn planted in l/2 hectares of land, 35 punos of "cowboy."25 Dominador denied any involvement in the burning of the farmers' houses. He claimed that
banana plants, 10 head chickens, and carpentry tools 98,000.00 he and his co-accused were harvesting corn in Leyson's farm in Lower Nopol from September 1 to 11,
1996. Leyson and his son later asked him to operate the trailer-tractor, while the others loaded the
k. Eddie Bagon, for his house & other belongings 27,000.00 corn.26 They did not leave the place because they were prohibited from visiting their families. They had
to watch the seeds.27

46 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
The other accused likewise denied the charge. They insisted that they were in the farm of Eduardo
9. Gloria P. Anda, for her small hut 7,000.00
Leyson harvesting and loading corn from September 1 to 11, 1996.
10. Alicia B. Gilon, for her house, corn planted in l/2 hectares of 93,000.00
Renilo Punay, a laborer of Pioneer Seeds Production, corroborated the testimony of the accused. He land, 35 punos of banana plants, 10 chickens, and carpentry tools
narrated that he was the roving guard of the company and stayed with the men as they harvested and
loaded corn for Pioneer Seeds Production from September 1 to 11, 1996. His tour of duty was from 11. Eddie Bagon, for his house & other belongings 22,000.00
6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. the following day.28 There were times that the accused left the farm, but only
one at a time to get food.29 He further testified that at 4:30 p.m. on September 1, 1996, the accused 12. Pedro Bagon, for his house and other lost properties 23,700.00
were in Leyson's farm, which was about 5 to 6 kms away from the ranch. 30 They were also in the farm
on September 7, 1996 at 10:00 a.m. 13. Romeo Jarmin, for his house 20,000.00

On August 10, 1997, the court rendered judgment convicting all the accused of arson, except Leyson
The accused found guilty should suffer all the accessory penalties provided for by law. Also,
who was acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt. However, all the accused were ordered to pay,
they are ordered to pay the cost of suit.
jointly and severally, the damages sustained by the private complainants. The fallo of the decision
reads:
SO ORDERED.31
WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered finding the accused DOMINADOR BANTULO alias
DOMING, EDUARDO BANTULO alias BOY, EDUARDO PADAYAG alias EDRING, EDDIE PADAYAG The accused appealed the decision to the CA, alleging that
alias OYONG, RODOLFO PADAYAG alias JUAN, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of ARSON, and there being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, each of them is hereby THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE IDENTITIES OF THE PERSONS
sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of two years four months and one day as minimum, to WHO BURNED THE HOUSES OF PRIVATE COMPLAINANTS WERE CLEARLY ESTABLISHED.
eight years, as maximum. All of them, including Eduardo Leyson, are severally liable for the
actual damages of private complainants. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED EDUARDO BANTULO ALIAS
BOY, DOMINADOR BANTULO ALIAS DOMING, EDUARDO PADAYAG ALIAS EDRING, EDDIE
Accused EDUARDO LEYSON, SR. is hereby ACQUITTED. However, he is hereby ordered to pay PADAYAG ALIAS OYONG, AND RODOLFO PADAYAG ALIAS JUAN DESPITE REASONABLE
jointly and severally with the other accused the following amounts to the private complainants: DOUBTS ON THE IDENTITIES OF THE PERSONS WHO ALLEGEDLY BURNED THE HOUSES.32

1. Pablo Lawa, for his house & the items inside P62,000.00 On July 31, 2001, the CA rendered judgment affirming the decision of the RTC with modification as to
the sentence of the appellants. The fallo of the decision reads:
2. Jennifer Moso, for her house 7,000.00
WHEREFORE, the decision of the court a quo is AFFIRMED with the modification that
3. Lino Mendi, for his house, corn plants, and lost personal 32,500.00 accused DOMINADOR BANTULO, EDUARDO BANTULO, EDUARDO PADAYAG, EDDIE PADAYAG
properties and RODOLFO PADAYAG are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. In
all other respects, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED.33
4. Mamer Bagon, for his house, 8 chickens, shoes, pants, 2 sacks 80,000.00
rice, 2 sacks corn According to the appellate court, the testimony of Batata and Jarmin, corroborated by Lino Mendi, were
credible and entitled to full probative weight. It took into account Leyson's admission that he would pay
5. Joel Bagon, for his house 8,500.00 for the damages sustained by the private complainants. The appellate court rejected as barren of
factual basis the appellants' defenses of denial and alibi.
6. Teresita Bagon, for her house 14,000.00

7. Lea Taculod, for her house, 1/2 sack rice, a plow, and a guitar 26,000.00 Leyson and his men filed a motion for reconsideration, which the appellate court denied; hence, the
instant petition for review on certiorari, where petitioners submit the following contentions:
8. Delia Bagon, for her house & personal belongings 25,000.00

47 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
BOTH COURTS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE IDENTITIES OF THE PERSONS Petitioners conclude that conformably with the aphorism falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, the
WHO BURNED THE HOUSES OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS WERE CLEARLY ESTABLISHED. THIS testimonies of Jarmin and Batata have no probative weight.
FINDING IS PURE SPECULATION, SURMISE AND CONJECTURE, BEING CONTRARY TO THE
EVIDENCE ON RECORD IN THIS CASE. For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General asserts that the ruling of the CA is buttressed by the
testimonial and documentary evidence on record. The alleged inconsistencies between the testimonies
xxx of Jarmin and Batata and their respective affidavits pertain to minor and peripheral matters, and did not
necessarily discredit them. The OSG asserts that Leyson, having been acquitted merely on reasonable
BOTH COURTS GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED EDUARDO BANTULO alias "BOY" doubt, is nevertheless civilly liable to private respondents. It points out that he even obliged himself to
DOMINADOR BANTULO alias "DOMING," EDUARDO PADAYAG alias "EDRING," EDDIE pay for the damages sustained by private respondents.
PADAYAG alias "OYONG" and "RODOLFO PADAYAG alias "JUAN," DESPITE DOUBTS ON THE
IDENTITIES OF THE PERSONS WHO ALLEGEDLY BURNED THE HOUSES OF THE PRIVATE We agree with the rulings of the RTC and the CA that petitioners conspired to burn the houses of
RESPONDENTS. THIS FINDING IS A MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS. private respondents on September 7, 1996.

xxx Well-entrenched rule is that the findings of the trial court, affirmed by the CA on appeal, are accorded
with high respect, if not conclusive effect by this Court. The assessment by the trial court of the
BOTH COURTS GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING EDUARDO LEYSON, SR. CIVILLY LIABLE credibility of the witnesses and its calibration of the probative weight thereof are even conclusive on
TOGETHER WITH THE CONVICTED ACCUSED, THUS, THE TRIAL COURT AND THE COURT OF this Court, absent clear evidence that facts and circumstances of substance which if considered would
APPEALS WRONGLY APPLIED THE LAW ON CIVIL LIABILITY OF AN ACCUSED IN A CRIMINAL alter or reverse the outcome of the case were ignored, misinterpreted or misconstrued. 37
CASE.34
The testimony of a witness must be considered in its entirety instead of in truncated parts. The
The issues to be resolved in the present case are: (1) whether the prosecution was able to prove the technique in deciphering a testimony is not to consider only its isolated parts and anchor a conclusion
guilt of petitioner, except petitioner Leyson, of the crime of arson under Article 320 of the Revised on the basis of said parts. In ascertaining the facts established by a witness, everything stated by him
Penal Code; and (2) whether petitioner Leyson is civilly liable for alleged damages to the private on direct, cross and redirect examinations must be calibrated and considered.
complainants.
It must be stressed that facts imperfectly or erroneously stated in answer to one question may be
Petitioners aver that respondents failed to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt for arson. The supplied or explained as qualified by his answer to other question. The principle falsus in uno, falsus in
testimonies of respondent Romeo Jarmin and Bonifacio Batata were inconsistent with the affidavits omnibus is not strictly applied in this jurisdiction.38 The doctrine deals only with the weight of evidence
given to the police investigators. While Jarmin pointed to and identified petitioner Eduardo Leyson and is not a positive rule of law, and the same is not an inflexible one of universal application. 39 The
during the trial as one of those who burned the houses, in his affidavit, 35 Jarmin failed to mention testimony of a witness can be believed as to some facts and disbelieved as to others:
Leyson, and even erroneously declared that the men were "cowboys." Petitioners further point out that
Jarmin had admitted that he returned to the farm only on September 2, 1996; hence, it was impossible Nor can we subscribe to the proposition that since the trial court did not give credit to Edwin
for him to have seen the burning of the houses on September 11, 1996. and Lina's testimonies that they positively identified Edgardo, it should, pursuant to the maxim
"falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus," likewise disregard their testimonies as against the appellant
Bonifacio Batata admitted when he testified that even before the burning of the houses on September and accordingly acquit him. In People vs. Dasig, this Court stated that the maxim is not a
7, 1996 he already knew petitioner Leyson, yet, never identified him as one of the perpetrators in the mandatory rule of evidence, but rather a permissible inference that the court may or may not
affidavit which he gave to the police investigators.36 In fact, Batata, in his affidavit, never identified any draw. In People vs. Pacada, we stated that the testimony of a witness can be believed as to
of petitioners as the perpetrators. Moreover, Batata and Jarmin could not have seen the burning of the some facts and disbelieved as to others. And in People vs. Osias, we ruled that:
houses so as to properly identify the culprits, considering that the surface of the canal where they claim
to have hidden was covered by three feet cogon grass, and Jarmin and Batata were only 5 feet and It is perfectly reasonable to believe the testimony of a witness with respect to some
four inches tall. While Batata declared that he saw petitioners burn the houses of private respondents, facts and disbelieve it with respect to other facts. And it has been aptly said that even
he later changed his testimony and declared that he saw only one of them setting the houses on fire. when witnesses are found to have deliberately falsified in some material particulars, it
Batata even admitted that he did not see the face of the arsonist. And contrary to the ruling of the CA, is not required that the whole of their uncorroborated testimony be rejected but such
Lino Mendi did not see the burning of the houses. portions thereof deemed worthy of belief may be credited.

48 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
The primordial consideration is that the witness was present at the scene of the crime A No sir, I just asked him what is he planning to do that his cattle were feasting on the
and that he positively identified [the accused] as one of the perpetrators of the crime crops of the B'laans.
charged x x x."
Q And so you asked particularly on the crops that as you said were feasted by his cattle?
Professor Wigmore gives the following enlightening commentary:
A Yes sir including the houses and he said to list all the things that were damaged and then
"It may be said, once for all, that the maxim is in itself worthless first, in point of including the crops amount and he also mentioned about the houses and in fact he told me
validity, because in one form it merely contains in loose fashion a kernel of truth that they should not charge the cost of the woods because the woods used for the
which no one needs to be told, and in the others, it is absolutely false as a maxim of construction of the houses were just cut from his ranch, he said.
life; and secondly, in point of utility, because it merely tells the jury what they may
do in any event, not what they must do or must not do, and therefore it is a Q And that was the response of Mister Leyson when you asked him if he could assist these
superfluous form of words. It is also in practice pernicious, first, because there is people?
frequently a misunderstanding of its proper force, and secondly, because it has
become in the hands of many counsel a mere instrument for obtaining new trials
A I did not particularly ask him to assist, it was his own suggestion.
upon points wholly unimportant in themselves."40

Q So he suggested that he would assist these people?


The general rule is that inconsistencies and discrepancies between the testimony of a witness in
contrast with what he stated in an affidavit do not necessarily discredit him. Affidavits given to police
and barangay officers are madeex parte and often incomplete or incorrect for lack or absence of A Because I told him, "what are you going to do now that the houses of these people were
sufficient inquiries by the investigating officer.41 It is of judicial knowledge that sworn statements are destroyed and your cattle were feasting on the crops" and he told me that "just tell them to
almost incomplete and often inaccurate and are generally inferior to the testimony of a witness in open list the things that were destroyed including the amount and I will pay them."
court.42
Q Pay them as his assistance to these people?
Inconsistencies or discrepancies in the testimony of the witness relative to minor or peripheral matters
and not to the significant facts vital to the guilt or innocence of the accused from the crime charged or A He just plainly said, "I will pay."
the elements of such crime are not grounds for the acquittal of the accused.
Q In other words, his offer to pay was in response to your questioning him what he would
It is not correct for petitioners to claim that Jarmin 43 in his affidavit, did not implicate petitioner Leyson do to the destroyed houses and on the damaged crops, correct?
for the burning of the houses. In fact, Jarmin declared therein that petitioner Leyson conspired with his
co-petitioners to burn the houses of private respondents because they refused to vacate the
A That is the logical interpretation sir.
ranch.44 Moreover, petitioner Leyson, with his co-petitioners, was present when the houses were
burned on September 7, 1996, as he was even armed with a long firearm. Petitioner Leyson even
assured Sumog-oy later that he would pay for the damages sustained by private respondents. The Q That is the correct interpretation?
testimony of Sumog-Oy on the matter reads:
A Probably the logical interpretation.46
Q And you talked to Mister Leyson?
On redirect examination, Jarmin declared that, in his affidavit he wanted to charge not only petitioner
A Yes, sir, and in fact I asked him what things he will do considering that his cattle were Leyson's employees but also the "cowboys" as well:
feasting on the crops of the B'laans and he told me that all these things will be listed and he
will pay for them.45 Q Mister Witness, do you understand the words or how do you understand the words "to
file a complaint against the cowboys of Mr. Eduardo Leyson", as far as against whom you are
Sumog-oy reiterated his testimony on cross examination: filing?

Q Because you of course asked Mister Leyson if he could assist those people? A All of them, Mister Leyson and his cowboys.47

49 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Apparently, Jarmin did not know whether petitioners were farmhands or cowboys of petitioner Leyson. We agree with petitioners' contention that during his direct examination on June 24, 1998, Jarmin
But whether petitioners were the farmhands or cowboys of petitioner Leyson is of little significance. The testified that after they were driven off with gun fire from their houses on September 2, 1996, they
fact of the matter is that petitioner Leyson employed his co-petitioners, who were given long firearms were never able to return to their farmhouses "until today." However, when queried by the trial court if
when they drove away the private respondents from the farm on September 1 to 2, 1996; and on he returned to the farm after September 2, 1996, Jarmin declared that he came back on September 2
September 7, 1996, they fired shots and burned private respondents' houses. and on September 7, 1996:

Petitioner Leyson ordered his men to intimidate the private respondents with bodily harm if they did not COURT:
leave the ranch. Indeed, as testified by Jarmin, petitioner Leyson was with his co-petitioners on
September 7, 1996 when private respondents' houses were burned: Q Did you not return on September 2?

Q Where are your houses now? A I returned there to get some vegetables and to get my carabao.

A Our houses were burned on September 7, 1996. Q So that was the only time you returned?

Q How many houses were burned on September 7, 1996? A Yes, Your Honor.

A 13 houses were burned down. Q On September 2, 1996?

Q Around what time were the houses burned? A The last time to go there was on September 7.

A 10 o'clock in the morning. COURT

Q Who were those persons who burned the houses Mister Jarmin? Proceed.

A Their companions were Ramon Soy, Doming Bantolo, Juan Padayag, Boy, Ebring Padayag ATTY. MELLIZA:
together with Mister Eduardo Leyson.
Q And what was the reason why you returned there on September 2, 1996?
Q Are they in court today Mister Jarmin?
A To get my carabao and to harvest some vegetables.
A There are only four here in court now.
Q As a matter of fact, you were not able to enter the area?
Q Will you please point at them.
A I actually went inside the area because my carabao was inside the area.
A That is one (witness pointing to a person wearing a striped t-shirt who answered by the
name of Rodolfo Padayag). That person Doming Bantolo (who answered by the name of
Q And you were able to get your carabao?
Dominador Bantolo) and that person (who answered by the name of Fernando Bantolo) and
Mister Eduardo Leyson (pointing to a person wearing red t-shirt who answered by the name of
Eduardo Leyson). A Yes, sir.

Q Will you tell us how they burned your houses? Q Who were your companions in returning to that place on September 2, 1996?

A They set on fire on the cogo[n] roofing with a match. 48 A Mamer Bagon and Bonifacio Batata.

50 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Q And were they able to get their work animals? A I only knew them through their faces but not their names.

A This Bonifacio Batata has no animal of his own there because he just went there to Q Are they in court today?
harvest palay.
A Yes, sir, they are here.
Q What is the complete name of Batata?
Q Please point at them.
A Bonifacio Batata.49
A These persons (pointing to all the persons seated at the accused bench).
Evidently, when Jarmin was asked whether he returned to the farm after September 2, 1996 he
understood the question to refer to him and to the other private respondents. Indeed, the only persons Q So what did you do Mister Witness when you heard the persons firing their guns?
who returned to the farm on September 7, 1996, were Jarmin himself, Mamer Bagon and Batata. The
other private respondents no longer returned to their farmhouses.
A We jumped towards the canal near the cogonal place and hid ourselves.

We agree with petitioners' contention that Lino Mendi did not witness the burning of his house and the
Q And then what happened thereafter?
houses of the other private respondents on September 7, 1996 and that he learned of the burning and
all the perpetrators thereof only from Batata and Jarmin.50 However, the thrust of Mendi's testimony
was only for the purpose of proving the actual damages he sustained, consisting of the value of his A After firing their guns, they set the houses on fire.
house and his other personal belongings which were burned. Likewise of minimal significance is the
seeming discrepancy between the testimony of Jarmin, that petitioners burned the houses of private Q Whose house Mister Witness?
respondents, and the testimony of Batata, that only one of petitioners whose face he did not actually
see burned the houses.
A The first house was the house of Mamer Bagon.

Considering the entirety of the testimonies of Batata and Jarmin, they declared that all the petitioners
Q And then?
were responsible for the burning because of their collective acts, including those that transpired on
September 1 and 2, 1996. By their collective acts, petitioners (except petitioner Leyson) conspired to
burn the houses of private respondents. It is elementary that when there is a conspiracy, the act of one A They again went upwards and set fire the house of Pedro Bagon and Alicia Gilon, as well
is the act of all the conspirators, anda conspirator may be held as a principal even if he did not the house of Eddie Bagon.
participate in the actual commission of every act constituting the offense . In conspiracy, all those who
in one way or another helped and cooperated in the consummation of the crime are considered co- Q Did you see the persons who set the fire on the houses?
principals since the degree or character of the individual participation of each conspirator in the
commission of the crime becomes immaterial. Thus, liability exists notwithstanding appellant's non- A The same persons who burned the house of Mamer.
participation in every detail in the execution of the crime.51
Q Are they in court today?
Thus, Batata testified that petitioners, who were in the company of petitioner Leyson, burned private
respondents' houses. From the canal where he and Jarmin hid, they saw one of them burn the houses
after firing their guns: A Yes, sir.

Q Did you see the persons who fired their guns? Q Will you please point to them.

A Yes, sir. A The same persons seated in the accused bench.

Q Will you still be able to recognize them if you see them again? Q And after witnessing the persons setting fire on the houses of the complaining witnesses
in this case, what happened next?

51 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
A They proceeded going towards the upper direction. A Yes, sir.

Q How many houses were burned? Q What weapons if you could remember were used by the six (6) armed men who fired the
gunshots?
A From the house starting down going upward were burned.
A Garand, carbine and M-16 armalite.
Q Can you estimate how many houses were burned?
Q So you are very sure of that, that it is or the only weapons used?
A About 14 houses.
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you know the owners of the houses Mister Witness?
Q What weapon was being held by that person who was setting fire on the houses?
A Mamer, Eddie, Pedro, Alicia, Romeo Jarmin, the house of Ronnie, Lawa while the others I
do not know the owners' names but which were also burned. A Garand.

Q Do you still remember at what time were the houses burned by the accused? Q You have generally pointed to all the persons sitting now on the accused bench. What
weapon was being held by this man?
52
A About 10 o'clock in the morning.
A M-16 armalite.
xxxx
Q What [w]as he doing with the M-16 armalite?
ATTY. MELLIZA:
A While he was setting fire on the houses, the other accused were standing by as if they
Q You said the persons whom you saw set fire on the houses. Do you mean that all those are guarding.
persons whom you saw actually set fire on the houses?
Q How many garand rifles did you see at that time?
A Yes, sir, although only one person set fire on the houses.
A If I am not wrong, two of them were carrying a garand.
Q Who was that person when you said only one person set fire on the houses, who was
that person? Q And how many of them did you see carrying M-16 rifles?

A I did not see him when he set fire on the houses because his back was towards me. A One.

Q So it is now clear Mister Batata that the person whom you actually saw setting fire on the Q So what else were the weapons you saw at that time?
houses could not be one of the persons now sitting on the accused bench?
A Carbine.
A No, sir, because his back was towards me.
Q How many carbine rifles did you see?
Q But you are very much certain that only one of the six (6) armed men set fire on the
houses? A Two.

52 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
Q So one armalite, two garands and two carbines, is that what you mean? May we request Your Honor that the statement "I know him because he is an ex-
kagawad" be included.
A Yes, sir.
ATTY. GACAL:
COURT:
Q About the second person in the person of Eduardo Padayag?
Q Five?
A I also saw him.
A Yes, Your Honor.53
Q And the third person by the name of Dominador Bantolo, you saw him also?
xxxx
A Yes, sir.
Q Mister Batata, you said you were in Nopol Hills on September 7, 1996 when you
witnessed the burning by the accused in this case and you pointed to these persons in the Q What about the fourth person Bernardo Bantolo, you saw him?
accused bench. Why, please tell us, did you point at these persons in the accused bench?
A Yes, sir.
A Because they are the ones whom I saw setting fire on the houses and fire their guns.
Q What about the fifth person Padayao?
Q You saw them on September 7, 1996?
A Yes, sir, I saw him.54
A Yes, sir.
It bears stressing that Batata saw petitioners before the latter burned the houses, when they fired their
Q You see the first person? guns to scare off anybody who could be in the houses:

COURT: COURT:

Q At a distance of 40 meters? Q So actually you were only going there from time to time to harvest palay or corn in the
farm of your friends?
A Yes, Your Honor, but only through their faces but not their names.
A Yes, Your Honor.
COURT:
Q Because you have no farm there of your own?
Continue.
A No, Your Honor.
ATTY. GACAL:
Q So during the gun firing or the burning you were only looking at these persons?
Q Did you see the first person and I am pointing to Mister Leyson?
A Yes, Your Honor.
A Yes and I know him.
Q For how many minutes did you look at them?
ATTY. MELLIZA:

53 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
A I can not estimate Your Honor. 3 feet cogon above the canal about 6 feet.56

Q For a long time or a short time. Jarmin's view was likewise not obstructed by the cogon grass:

A For quite a time. Q Were the cogons then thick Mister Witness?

Q About one hour? A Not so thick.

A No, Your Honor. Q Were there obstructions from your vision to the 40 meters distance where you said you
saw the accused?
Q About half an hour?
A None, if you will look down, you can see the place.
A About 10 minutes only.55
Q Were you on a high plain or lower plain?
While it is true that Jarmin and Batata fled, jumped into a canal and hid there while petitioners burned
private respondents' houses, the foliage or the surface of the canal did not obstruct their view. Batata is A We are on the higher plain.
five feet and four inches tall, and the canal was only three feet deep:
Q So the cogon grass were never an obstruction to your vision?
ATTY. GACAL:
A No, sir.57
Q Mister Batata, you mentioned that while you were in the canal or where cogon grasses on
the surface of the canal, will you tell us how tall are the cogon grasses? Thus, petitioners' denials and alibi cannot prevail over the collective positive testimonies of Jarmin and
Batata, who positively and spontaneously pointed to them as the perpetrators at the trial. Denial and
A The height of the cogon is that when you will stand up, your head will be exposed. alibi are weak defenses in criminal prosecution: alibi is easy to concoct and difficult to disprove, while
denial is mere self-serving evidence which cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of witnesses who
COURT: identified the perpetrators. To merit approbation, clear and convincing evidence must be adduced to
show that petitioners were in a place other than the situs of the crime when it was committed, such
that it was physically impossible for them to have committed the crime.58 In this case, it was not
So that must be about two (2) feet tall from the ground?
impossible for petitioners to rush to the ranch of petitioner Leyson from his farm which was only 5 to 6
kms away on horseback, arrive there at 10:00 a.m., fire their guns and burn the houses of private
A About this tall (demonstrating a height of about 2 to 3 feet). respondents.

Q How tall are you? The trial court acquitted petitioner Leyson of arson but ruled that he is civilly liable to private
respondents. The CA affirmed the ruling of the court a quo. We quote with approval the ruling of the
A 5'4". appellate court:

Q How tall is the canal? Finally, the rule is that a person's acquittal of a crime on the ground that his guilt has not been
proven beyond reasonable doubt does not bar a civil action for damages founded on the same
acts involved in the offense. Rule 111, Section 2(b) of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
A Up to my breast (about 3 feet deep).
"Extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil, unless the
extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from which
COURT: the civil might arise did not exist." It is also an established rule that the acquittal of an
accused on reasonable doubt is not generally an impediment to the imposition, in the same

54 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
criminal action, of civil liability for damages on said accused. In the case at bar, there is no room.7 After AAA took her medicine, appellant told BBB to sleep outside the room where AAA was
finding by the court a quo that the houses of the complainants were not burned which is the staying.8 When BBB went outside, appellant turned off the light and proceeded to their
basis of the civil liability of appellant Leyson. Leyson was acquitted for lack of evidence to kitchen.9 Thereafter, appellant returned to the room where AAA was staying. 10He then took off AAA's
prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.59 clothes and also removed his.11 He went on top of AAA and tried to insert his penis into her
vagina.12 AAA resisted but appellant held her hands and boxed her left thigh twice. 13 She was then
Besides, petitioner Leyson obliged himself to pay for the damages sustained by private respondents. rendered weak enabling appellant to successfully insert his organ inside her vagina. 14 AAA felt pain,
after which her vagina bled.15 While appellant's penis was inside her vagina, he made push and pull
movements.16 She pleaded with appellant to stop but to no avail. 17 It was in the course of her struggle
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
against appellant's advances that she called on her sister for help.18 Thereafter, she felt something
in CA-G.R. CR No. 23756 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
come out of his penis.19 Appellant withdrew his penis from her vagina but remained on top of her and
even began touching her breast.20 It was during that compromising position that BBB entered the room
SO ORDERED. and saw them.21 Appellant immediately gathered his clothes and went to the comfort
room.22 Thereafter, AAA cried while BBB handed her clothes to her.23 They then slept beside each
G.R. No. 167955 September 30, 2009 other.24
(Formerly G.R. No. 151275)
AAA did not complain nor tell her brothers about her ordeal because she was afraid as she was
10. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, threatened by appellant that he will hurt them and burn their house if she relates the incident to
vs. them.25 It was only in October 1995 that she was able to tell her aunt about her experience in the
ARMANDO PADILLA y NICOLAS, Appellant. hands of appellant.26 Subsequently, her aunt accompanied her to the office of the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI) where they filed a complaint against appellant.27
DECISION
On February 1, 1996, an Information28 was filed against appellant charging him before the RTC of
Malolos, Bulacan with the crime of statutory rape, the accusatory portion of which reads:
PERALTA, J.:

That on or about the 22nd day of February, 1994 in the Municipality of Marilao, province of Bulacan,
For review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated February 23, 2005 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused did then and
No. 00571 which affirmed, with modification, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos,
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with lewd designs have carnal knowledge of said AAA, a
Bulacan, Branch 15, in Criminal Case No. 166-M-96,2 finding appellant Armando Padilla y Nicolas guilty
minor who is 11 years old, against her will.
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Statutory Rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of
Death. The CA found appellant guilty of Qualified Rape and likewise imposed on him the penalty of
Death. It reduced the awards for civil indemnity from 100,000.00 to 75,000.00 and exemplary All contrary to law with an aggravating circumstance that the accused is the legitimate father of AAA.29
damages from 50,000.00 to 25,000.00. In addition, the CA awarded moral damages in the amount of
50,000.00. On arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty.30 Pre-trial conference followed.31 Thereafter, trial ensued.

Consistent with the Court's decision in People v. Cabalquinto,3 the real name of the rape victim in this On November 5, 2001, the RTC rendered its Decision,32 the dispositive portion of which is as follows:
case is withheld and, instead, fictitious initials are used to represent her. Also, the personal
circumstances of the victim or any other information tending to establish or compromise her identity, as
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Armando Padilla y Nicolas GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
well as those of her immediate family or household members, are not disclosed in this decision.
of the crime of Statutory Rape described and penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code and
Republic Act 7659 otherwise referred to as the Death Penalty Law, and hereby sentences him the
The facts of the case, as established by the prosecution, are as follows: capital penalty of DEATH.

Around 9 o'clock in the evening of February 22, 1994, AAA was inside their house located at Marilao, The accused is likewise ordered to indemnify the offended party AAA damages in the amount of
Bulacan.4With her were her father, herein appellant, her two older brothers and her sister BBB.5 She 100,000.00 and to pay exemplary damages in the amount of 50,000.00 to deter other sex perverts
was then staying in one of the rooms because she was suffering from asthma and was taking medicine from sexually assaulting hapless and innocent girls especially their kin.
through the help of her sister, BBB.6 On the other hand, her brothers were already asleep in another

55 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
In passing, Justice Vicente Abad Santos once remarked there should be a special place in hell for APPLYING THE PRUNA GUIDELINES, THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING THE DEATH
child molesters. The accused deserves a deeper pit because the child he molested was his own PENALTY ON ACCUSED-APPELLANT CONSIDERING THE PROSECUTIONS FAILURE TO SUFFICIENTLY
daughter. More than anyone else, it was he to whom the child would have looked up for PROVE THE MINORITY OF THE COMPLAINANT AND HER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ACCUSED.

the protection of her chastity. He cynically betrayed that faith with his unnatural lechery. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTION HAD PROVEN BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT ACCUSED-APPELLANTS GUILT FOR QUALIFIED RAPE.
33
SO ORDERED.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN AWARDING DAMAGES TO THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT.39
In an Order34 dated November 6, 2001, the RTC directed the transmittal of the entire records of the
case to this Court and likewise ordered the commitment of the accused to the National Penitentiary in As to the first assigned error, appellant avers that the death penalty may not be imposed because the
Muntinlupa. qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship were not properly alleged and proved by the
prosecution.
Pursuant to the Court's pronouncement in People v. Mateo,35 which modified the provisions of the Rules
of Court insofar as they provide for direct appeals from the RTC to this Court in cases where the The Court agrees in part.
penalty imposed by the trial court is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, the case was
referred to the CA for appropriate action and disposition.36 The first issue is whether or not the qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship were properly
alleged by the prosecution.
After a review of the case, the CA affirmed, with modification, the decision of the RTC convicting the
appellant. The dispositive portion of the CA Decision reads, thus: It is clear from the Information that AAA was alleged to be a minor who was aged eleven (11) at the
time of the commission of the crime and that the accused is her father. Contrary to the prosecution's
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed judgment dated November 5, 2001 of the Regional asseveration, it does not matter that the private complainant's relationship with the accused was
Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 15 in Criminal Case No. 166-M-96 finding Armando Padilla y denominated as an "aggravating circumstance" and not as a "special qualifying circumstance."
Nicolas guilty of Qualified Rape and sentencing him to suffer the supreme penalty of DEATH is hereby
AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that he is ordered to pay the victim the amount of P75,000.00 as The Court has repeatedly held, even after the amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure took
civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. effect,40 that qualifying circumstances need not be preceded by descriptive words such as "qualifying"
or "qualified by" to properly qualify an offense.41 The Court has repeatedly qualified cases of rape
In accordance with A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC which took effect on October 15, 2004, amending Section 13, where the twin circumstances of minority and relationship have been specifically alleged in the
Rule 124 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, let the entire records of this case be elevated to Information even without the use of the descriptive words "qualifying" or "qualified by." 42 In the instant
the Supreme Court for review. case, the fact that AAA's relationship with appellant was described as "aggravating" instead of
"qualifying" does not take the Information out of the purview of Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code
Costs against the accused-appellant. (RPC ), as amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659 (RA 7659), 43 which was the prevailing law
at the time of the commission of the offense. Article 335 does not use the words "qualifying" or
"aggravating" in enumerating the circumstances that qualify rape so as to make it a heinous crime
SO ORDERED.37
punishable by death. It merely refers to the enumerated circumstances as "attendant circumstances."
The specific allegation of the attendant circumstances in the Information, coupled with the designation
The case was then elevated to this Court for review. of the offense and a statement of the acts constituting the offense as required in Sections 8 44 and 945 of
Rule 110, are sufficient to warn appellant that the crime charged is qualified rape punishable by death.
In a Resolution38 dated July 19, 2005, the parties were required to simultaneously submit their
respective supplemental briefs if they so desire. However, both parties manifested that they are not In the present case, the attendant circumstances of minority and relationship were specifically alleged
filing their supplemental briefs as their positions in the present case had been thoroughly expounded in in the Information. These allegations are sufficient to qualify the offense of rape.
their respective appeal briefs which were forwarded to the CA. Thereafter, the case was deemed
submitted for deliberation.
The next question to be resolved is whether the prosecution was able to prove appellant's relationship
with AAA as well as the latter's minority.
Appellant assigned the following assignment of errors in his Brief:

56 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
As to AAAs relationship with appellant, the Court agrees that the prosecution was able to prove it court on such matters are binding and conclusive on the appellate court, unless some facts or
beyond reasonable doubt. The Information alleged that appellant is the father of AAA. Appellant, in circumstances of weight and substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misinterpreted.57 No
turn, admitted during trial that AAA is her daughter.46 Under prevailing jurisprudence, admission in such facts or circumstances exist in the present case.
open court of relationship has been held to be sufficient and, hence, conclusive to prove relationship
with the victim.47 In this case, both the RTC and the CA are in agreement that AAAs account of her ordeal in the hands
of her father was categorical and straightforward.
However, with respect to AAA's minority, the settled rule is that there must be independent evidence
proving the age of the victim, other than the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and the absence Appellant contends that AAA had a grudge against him and, aside from that, she was influenced and
of denial by appellant.48 The victim's original or duly certified birth certificate, baptismal certificate or even instigated by her aunt, Elena Manahan, to file the complaint against appellant because of the
school records would suffice as competent evidence of her age.49 In the instant case, aside from the bitterness that Elena feels towards him. According to the appellant, this bitterness was brought about
testimonies of prosecution witnesses, coupled with appellant's absence of denial, no independent by a misunderstanding between him and Elena involving money entrusted to the latter by his wife
substantial evidence was presented to prove the age of AAA. Neither was it shown by the prosecution which was supposed to be used for the construction of apartments.58 However, appellant's claim
that the said documents had been lost, destroyed, unavailable or were otherwise totally absent. deserves scant consideration. The Court finds it incredible for private complainant to trump up a charge
of rape against appellant on the simple reason that she has a grudge against the latter or that she was
Anent appellants failure to object to the testimony of AAA, regarding her age, the Court has held that influenced by her aunt who harbors resentment against him. No woman would cry rape, allow an
the failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence regarding the rape victims age shall not examination of
be taken against him.50Even the appellant's implied admission of the victim's age, in the absence of any
supporting independent evidence, may not be considered sufficient to prove her age. In People v. her private parts, subject herself to humiliation, go through the rigors of public trial and taint her good
Biong,51 the appellant testified as to the exact date when her daughter, the complainant, was born. name if her claim were not true.59
However, the Court held that appellant's testimony falls short of the quantum of proof required to
establish her age. As the qualifying circumstance of minority alters the nature of the crime of rape and
Thus, the unfounded claim of evil motive on the part of the victim would not destroy the credibility
increases the penalty thereof, it must be proved with equal certainty and clearness as the crime
reposed upon her by the RTC and the CA because, as the Court has held, a rape victims testimony is
itself.52 In the present case, the Court agrees with appellant that the prosecution failed to discharge this
burden. entitled to greater weight when she accuses a close relative of having raped her, as in the case of a
daughter against her father.601avvphi1

Coming to the second assigned error, appellant questions the credibility of the victim, AAA, arguing that
Moreover, appellant's rape of private complainant was corroborated by no less than the latter's sister
his constitutional right to be presumed innocent should take precedence over the unfounded claim of
who is also a daughter of appellant. The rule is that where there is no evidence that the witness for the
AAA that he raped her.
prosecution was actuated by improper motive, the presumption is that he was not so actuated and his
testimony is entitled to full credence.61
It is settled that to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused in rape cases, the courts are guided
by three well-entrenched principles: (1) an accusation of rape can be made with facility and while the
In addition, AAAs subsequent acts of disclosing and complaining about her molestation to her aunt and
accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove;
the authorities and taking immediate steps to subject herself to medical examination represent conduct
(2) considering that in the nature of things, only two persons are usually involved in the crime of rape,
consistent with her straightforward, logical and probable testimony that she was in fact raped by
the testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution; and (3) the evidence for the
appellant. They represent strong and compelling factors that enhance complainants credibility as a
prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the
weakness of the evidence for the defense.53 witness.

Against the overwhelming evidence of the prosecution, appellant merely interposed the defense of
Accordingly, in resolving rape cases, primordial consideration is given to the credibility of the victim's
denial. Categorical and consistent positive identification, absent any showing of ill-motive on the part of
testimony.54The settled rule is that the trial courts conclusions on the credibility of witnesses in rape
the eyewitness testifying on the matter, prevails over the defense of denial. 62 In the present case, there
cases are generally accorded great weight and respect, and at times even finality, unless there appear
is no showing of any improper motive on the part of the victim to testify falsely against the appellant or
in the record certain facts or circumstances of weight and value which the lower court overlooked or
misappreciated and which, if properly considered, would alter the result of the case. 55 to implicate him falsely in the commission of the crime; hence, the logical conclusion is that no such
improper motive exists and that the testimony is worthy of full faith and credence. Accordingly,
appellant's weak defense of denial cannot prosper.
Having seen and heard the witnesses themselves and observed their behavior and manner of testifying,
the trial court stood in a much better position to decide the question of credibility. 56 Findings of the trial
57 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A
The prevailing law at the time the crime was committed in 1994 was still Article 335 of the RPC as qualifying or generic, an award of 30,000.00 as exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of
amended by Section 11 of RA 7659, the first paragraph of which provides as follows: the New Civil Code.65

When and how rape is committed. - Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 23, 2005 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
any of the following circumstances: No. 00571 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellant Armando Padilla is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the Crime of Simple Rape under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as
1. By using force or intimidation; amended, and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and ordered to pay the private
complainant AAA the reduced amount of 50,000.00 as civil indemnity, 50,000.00 as moral damages
and the increased amount of 30,000.00 as exemplary damages. Costs de oficio.
2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and

SO ORDERED.
3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.

The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.

xxxx

Paragraph 7(1) of the same Article further provides that:

The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the following
attendant circumstances:

1. when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-
parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree, or the common-law
spouse of the parent of the victim.

xxxx

The elements of statutory rape, of which appellant was charged are: (1) that the accused had carnal
knowledge of a woman; and (2) that the woman is below 12 years of age.63

In the present case, the prosecution failed to prove the age of AAA, much less the allegation that she
was under the age of twelve when she was raped. Thus, the Court cannot hold appellant liable for
statutory rape. However, since the prosecution was able to establish, without any objection from the
defense, that appellant had carnal knowledge of AAA with the use of force, he can be convicted of
simple rape the penalty for which is reclusion perpetua. Appellant may not be convicted of rape in its
qualified form, as to impose upon him the penalty of death, considering that, while the aggravating
circumstance of relationship was proven, the prosecution failed to establish AAA's minority by
independent proof.

With respect to the last assigned error, the Court agrees with the CA in awarding civil indemnity as well
as moral and exemplary damages to AAA. However, since the penalty is reclusion perpetua, the civil
indemnity must be reduced from 75,000.00 to 50,000.00 in line with prevailing
jurisprudence.64 Moreover, when a crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance, either
58 | P a g e A D A M A E D . A B E L L E R A