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FILOTEO vs.

SANDIGANBAYAN
G.R. No. 79543
16 October 1996
PANGANIBAN, J

SUBJECT MATTER:
II. Interpreting the Constitution, Interpretation

LEGAL BASIS:

Art. IV, Sec. 20 of the 1973 Constitution – No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Any person under
investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to remain silent and to counsel and to be informed of such rights.
No force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Any confession
obtained in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in evidence. ---- This is the Law applicable in this case, causing the evidence
against the petitioner to be ADMISSIBLE.

Art. III, Sec. 12 of the 1987 Constitution – (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to
be informed of his right to remain silent, and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the
person cannot afford the service of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in
the presence of counsel. ----- This Law, if applied, rules in favor of the petitioner. However, it is NOT APPLICABLE to this case because
at the time of the crime, the 1987 Constitution had not yet taken effect. Its laws do not apply retroactively.

Art. 4, New Civil Code – Laws shall have no retroactive effect, unless the contrary is provided.
Art. 22, Revised Penal Code – Retroactive effect of penal laws. - Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the
person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term as defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code, although at the
time of publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.

ACTION BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:


Instant amended petition under rule 45 of the Rules of Court challenging the Decision and Resolution of Sandiganbayan:
(1) the Decision rendered by the Sandiganbayan convicting the petitioner and his co-accused to be GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the violation of section 2(e) in relation to section 3(b) of PD 532 (Anti-Piracy and Anti-Highway Robbery Law) of 1974
in Criminal Case no. 8496 promulgated on June 19, 1987
(2) the Resolution by the Sandiganbayan denying petitioner’s motion for reconsideration promulgated on July 27, 1987

Petitioner(s): JOSE D. FILOTEO, JR.


Parties
Respondent(s): SANDIGANBAYAN and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

SUMMARY:

● Petitioner, Filoteo Jr. was accused of robbery and was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan
● Following his arrest, he issued Sworn Statements (confessions) containing the following information:
○ He was read the Art. IV, Sec. 20, of the 1973 Constitution and fully agreed and understood it
○ He waived his right to counsel
○ He detailed his involvement in the crime
● Current petition challenges the Decision of the Sandiganbayan
○ That his Sworn Statements (confessions) were inadmissible

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○ That he was tortured and coerced
○ That the warrantless arrest was invalid and improper
● Petition is DENIED

ANTECEDENT FACTS:

● The petitioner, before he was accused of the crime, was a decorated and experienced police investigator of the Western
Police District in Metro Manila.
● The names of the petitioner and the co-accused are as follows:
o Petitioner Jose D. Filoteo, JR., pleaded not guilty
o Martin Mateo Jr. y Mijares
▪ escaped from police custody, tried in absentia*
▪ *in accordance with Art. IV, Sec. 19 of the 1973 Constitution
o PC/Sgt Bernado Relator Jr. y Retino
▪ failed to appear in trial after pleading NOT GUILTY, at large, also tried in absentia
o CIC Ed Saguindel y Pabinguit
▪ failed to appear in trial after pleading NOT GUILTY, at large, also tried in absentia
o Ex-PC/Sgt. Danilo Miravalles y Marcelo
▪ pleaded NOT GUILTY
o The following 6 civilians were ordered arrested but remained at large:
▪ Ricardo Perez
▪ Reynaldo Friyas
▪ Raul Mendoza
▪ Angel Liwanag
▪ Severino Castro
▪ Gerardo Escalada

● The petitioner and the co-accused list of individuals above were charged based on the following information: On or about
May 3, 1982 in Meycauayan, Bulacan, petitioner and his co-accused, two of whom are armed with guns, coordinated to
willfully and unlawfully STOP a Bureau of Post mail van No. MVD 02 while in transit via MacArthur Highway, then TAKE,
ROB, and CARRY AWAY the following at GUNPOINT:
(1) the Postal van itself
(2) Social Security System Medicare Checks and Vouchers
(3) Social Security System Pension Checks and Vouchers
(4) Treasury Warrants
(5) Several Mail Matters from abroad
o The 5 items are worth 253,728 pesos more or less

● The crime in detail:


o The driver (Miranda), and his 2 couriers, (Bautista and Tagudar) were on board the said van, which had its door
padlocked, and left around 6:30 am from Pampanga
o At about 4:30 in the afternoon on the return trip to Pampanga, the accused were on board an old blue Mercedes
Benz sedan and overtook the said truck
o The accused held Miranda and the 2 couriers at gunpoint and asked them to get inside the old blue MB sedan as
hostages, and even identified themselves as policemen
o While inside the MB sedan,
▪ Bautista was able to identify:
▪ Reynaldo Frias going inside the van
▪ Raul Mendoza as the driver of the MB,
▪ Angel Liwanag who poked a “balisong” at him
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▪ Miranda recognized Angel Liwanag (through his pimply face) and Reynaldo Frias (caught a glimpse of
him)
o The hostages were later dropped off (after being told to take off their pants and shoes) along Kaimito Road in
Kalookan City and subsequently drove off with the loot
o The van was found at the corner of Malindang and Angelo Streets in La Loma, Q.C. on May 4, 1982, with missing
mail matters, checks, tools, and fuel. The hostages would later point out ⅘ of the suspects involved in the
robbery (Mendoza, Liwanag, Saguindel, Frias) whom they recognized as inside the MB sedan.

*The facts of the case are divided into two parts: the (1) “Evidence for the Prosecution” detailing the operation and arrest, and the
(2) “Evidence for the Defense” explaining the contentions of the petitioner (Filoteo)*

EVIDENCE FOR THE PROSECUTION:

● 6 May 1982 - The Special Operations Group of the Philippine Constabulary was called in to crack the case. It was composed
of 2 groups headed by Capt Rosendo Ferrer and 1st Lt. Samuel Pagdilao, respectively.
● 29 May 1982 - They were able to track down 2 persons who were looking for a buyer interested in stolen checks who
turned out to be Rey Frias and Rafael Alcantara. Frias agreed to cooperate in exchange for mitigation of penalty, leading
the SOG to Ricardo Perez and Raul Mendoza who were all staying in Obrero, Tondo.
● Same day - Afterwards they went on to arrest Martin Mateo and Angel Liwanag in Quirino, Novaliches. There they found
bundles of the stolen checks, including one thrown into a nearby rice paddy wrapped in cellophane. Most, with the
exception of Alcantara, admitted to involvement in the robbery, and expressed exasperation at not being able to get rid
of the check.
● All four – Mateo, Liwanag, Perez, and Mendoza - pointed towards the petitioner, Filoteo Jr., as the mastermind.
● The SOG invited the petitioner at his home in Tondo to come to Camp Crame to shed light on his participation in the
crime. He was arrested after being informed of his constitutional rights. They would later return to the petitioner’s home
so that the petitioner could retrieve from a “kumare” “in the neighborhood”, the bag which held his share of the checks.
The petitioner made it clear that the person keeping the package did not know its contents.
● Petitioner would later admit involvement in the crime, and pointed to three other soldiers, namely Eddie Saguindel,
Bernardo Relator, and Jack Miravelles (acquitted, lack of evidence) as his confederates/accomplices.

● 30 May, 1982 - Petitioner executed three documents on this day after the operation:
(1) a Sworn Statement in Tagalog before M/Sgt. Carlos and Sgt. Espero
a. that the petitioner was read the rights accorded by Art. IV, Sec. 20, of the 1973 Constitution, and expressly
noted that the petitioner understood these rights fully and clearly before signing the statement willfully
i. that he was offered counsel from CLAO-IBP but refused it
b. a detailed account of what transpired during the robbery of the van in May 3, 1982, from the perspective
of the petitioner
(2) a Certification that petitioner:
a. voluntarily surrendered assorted “voluminous assorted US checks and vouchers” (where he affixed his
signature upon the middle, back portion of each check) to identify them prior to proper inventory and listing
by elements of SOG
b. that he led the SOG to the house of Rodolfo Miranda, owner of the blue Mercedes Benz which was
surrendered to the SOG HQ.
(3) another Sworn Statement where Petitioner attested to his waiver of the provisions of Art 125 of the RPC and the
following facts:
a. that he was apprised of his constitutional rights under Art 20, Consti(1973), understood them, and that he
was offered counsel from CLAO-IBP but refused it

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b. that he was arrested by the SOG on May 29 1982 knowing in full the reason for his arrest (that is, robbing
US Treasury Warrants, SSS Pension Checks and Vouchers, SSS Medicare Checks and Vouchers from the
Postal van)
c. That the SOG men collected numerous checks and a blue Mercedes Benz from him
d. That he was not hurt, maltreated, nor was anything taken from him which was not duly receipted for

EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENSE:

● Petitioner states that out of the conspirators, he only knew Mateo, and only because Mateo was his informer – Mateo
was a formerly convicted thief who helped him in solving several robbery cases such as that of the La Elegencia Jewelry
Story, Likha Antique and Crafts and Arangque Market. From such a relationship, Mateo would often borrow his owner-
type Jeep to help in completing his assignments. This arrangement stopped because petitioner saw Mateo using the jeep
with several unknown men. As a result, Mateo was given a travel allowance instead.
● The night before the robbery, Mateo once again asked if he could borrow the jeep once again to help crack a bank-robbery
case. Petitioner approached Miranda to borrow the old blue Mercedes Benz sedan because the jeep might give away the
fact that Mateo is an informer. The jeep was left with Miranda.
● Furthermore, petitioner asserts that he was on patrol, and had to attend a mandatory troop formation on the day of the
crime. He was also later celebrating Manolo Almoguerra birthday at the Lakan Beerhouse, where he also waited for
Mateo to return with the car.
● Petitioner contends that the following is what actually transpired:
a. That the SOG performed a warrantless search and seizure, and a warrantless arrest.
b. That the sworn statements admitted into evidence were executed without the presence of counsel, and were
obtained under duress (specifically the use of blindfolding, electrocution and water torture)
c. That they were prepared prior to his inclination to affirm them.
d. That they did not recover the checks in his house but in another house of the same neighborhood
e. That he was not allowed to be visited by his wife, that even his only visit from a colleague (Victorino) would prove
fruitless for remedy
- and a visit from Mateo (who confided that they too were tortured) was only to assuade him to
affirm the statements.

ISSUE(S) AND HOLDING(S):


1. WoN the written statements, particularly the extra-judicial confession executed by the accused without the presence of his
lawyer, are admissible in evidence against him
2. WoN the said statements obtained through torture, duress, maltreatment and intimidation and therefore illegal are
inadmissible
3. WoN petitioner’s warrantless arrest was valid and proper
4. WoN the evidence of the prosecution is sufficient to find the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt
5. ADDITIONAL ISSUE raised by the Court and not by the petitioner - WoN the crime committed was Brigandage or Robbery

RATIO:
1. YES, the said statements are ADMISSIBLE in evidence against him
○ Prospective application of laws (1935, 1973, 1987 Constitution)
i. Main difference between 1987 and 1973: Art. III, Sec. 12, 1987 Constitution contains the following
provision regarding the rights to be silent, and to choose or be provided with counsel: “These rights
cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel” (while Art. IV, Sec. 20, 1973
Constitution does NOT CONTAIN THIS)
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ii. However, in Magtoto vs. Manguera, the Court held that this provision (namely, Art. IV, Sec. 20 of the 1973
const.) must be applied PROSPECTIVELY and NOT RETROACTIVELY because the 1935 Charter does NOT
CONTAIN this 1973 provision
a. Meaning, a confession from a person not informed of rights to be silent and to counsel =
INADMISSIBLE evidence if obtained AFTER the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution
b. Conversely, a confession from a person not informed of rights to be silent and to
counsel = ADMISSIBLE evidence if obtained BEFORE the effectivity of the 1973
Constitution (1935 Charter is followed)
iii. Applying the SAME REASONING, since the 1973 Constitution does not contain the specific
aforementioned provision found in Art. III, Sec. 12, 1987 Constitution:
a. INADMISSBLE evidence if confession is obtained AFTER the effectivity of the 1987
Constitution
b. ADMISSIBLE evidence if confession is obtained BEFORE the effectivity of the 1987
Constitution
c. In Petitioner Filoteo’s case, confession is obtained BEFORE the effectivity of the 1987
Constitution, and therefore ADMISSIBLE, as the Art. III, Sec. 12 provision (“These rights
cannot be waived except…”) must be applied PROSPECTIVELY and NOT RETROACTIVELY
○ The Court also determined that such waiver was made voluntarily and intelligently
i. Petitioner could not have been ignorant of his right to counsel as he was a fourth year criminology
student and a top notch student in the police basic course
ii. He has been in the police force since 1978 and knew the tactics used by investigators to incriminate
criminal suspects in his stint in the investigative and detective bureau

2. The statements are ADMISSIBLE because there is no evidence that may point to the alleged torture
○ Medical report shows no sign of physical injuries
○ Observed by the Solicitor General, the records show that the investigating team respected the right of the suspects
to invoke their rights to remain silent
○ His penmanship on the 3 documents is markedly consistent (evenness of lines and strokes)
○ The torture claim of the petitioner is a factual question adressed primarily to trial courts, while this Court is
principally to review only of questions of law
○ There being no evidence to the contrary, his statement is presumed to have been made with the petitioner’s consent
as illustrated in People v Nimo citing People v Luvendino

3. The petitioner’s protest questioning the validity of his arrest must be made BEFORE he entered his plea in the trial court
causing the irregularities in his arrest to be considered as CURED.
○ People v Lopez Jr held that:
i. The claim to illegal arrest must be made before the pleading or else it is deemed waived
ii. Any irregularity with regards to arrest was considered cured because the plea of not guilty was entered and
the participation in the trial shows a VOLUNTARY SUBMISSION to the jurisdiction of the trial court
iii. Moreover, such irregularity is not sufficient to set aside a valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient
complaint after a trial free from error
○ The petitioner never brought this up, and only filed a complaint regarding grave coercion, threat, and maltreatment
which was dismissed
i. Petitioner never revived this complaint after its dismissal.

4. YES, the evidence of the prosecution is SUFFICIENT to find the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt
○ He borrowed a car knowing his owner-type jeep would give away his identity

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○ Petitioner not being recognized by the hostages could be explained by him immediately driving the postal van after
securing the hostages in the Benz
○ He admitted to hiding away his stash of the checks to his “kumare” in the neighborhood
○ His alibi of being on patrol, attending the mass formation, and attending the birthday party at the bar does not make
it impossible for him to be at the time of the crime
i. The distance between his alibi and the crime scene is 15-20 km and could be reasonably negotiated in 30
minutes
○ There is a well settled doctrine that, particularly in the assessment of credible witnesses, the findings of facts of the
trial courts are BINDING upon appellate courts, absent any arbitrariness, abuse or palpable error. As elucidated in
People v Dominguez:
i. The trial court is in a better position to decide the question as they are the ones actually hearing and
observing the witnesses

5. ADDITIONAL ISSUE - The crime is Robbery under Art 293 and 295 of the RPC as the crime of Brigandage was meant for those
who form groups intending to do indiscriminate robberies as elucidated by PD 532, and not to be applied to all robberies
conducted on “highways” by a band of 3 or more persons.

DISPOSITIVE:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, but the first paragraph of the dispositive portion of the assailed Decision is partially MODIFIED
to read as follows:

“WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Jose Filoteo, Jr. y Diendo GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as co­-
principal in the crime of robbery as defined in Arts. 293 and 295 and penalized under Art. 294, paragraph 5, of the Revised Penal
Code IMPOSING on him an indeterminate sentence of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to ten
(10) years of prision mayor as maximum, and to pay his proportionate share of the costs of the action.”

All other parts of the disposition are hereby AFFIRMED.

MAIN DISSENTING OPINION:


N/A

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