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G.R. No.

166414, October 22, 2014

GODOFREDO ENRILE AND DR. FREDERICK ENRILE, Petitioners, v. HON. DANILO A.


MANALASTAS (AS PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MALOLOS BULACAN,
BR. VII), HON. ERANIO G. CEDILLO, SR., (AS PRESIDING JUDGE, MUNICIPAL TRIAL
COURT OF MEYCAUAYAN, BULACAN, BR. 1) AND PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

The remedy against the denial of a motion to quash is for the movant accused to enter a plea, go
to trial, and should the decision be adverse, reiterate on appeal from the final judgment and
assign as error the denial of the motion to quash. The denial, being an interlocutory order, is not
appealable, and may not be the subject of a petition for certiorari because of the availability of
other remedies in the ordinary course of law.

Antecedents

Petitioners Godofredo Enrile and Dr. Frederick Enrile come to the Court on appeal, seeking to
reverse and undo the adverse resolutions promulgated on August 31, 20041 and December 21,
2004,2 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) respectively dismissed their petition for certiorari and
prohibition (assailing the dismissal of their petition for certiorari by the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 7, in Malolos, Bulacan, presided by RTC Judge Danilo A. Manalastas, to assail the
denial of their motions to quash the two informations charging them with less serious physical
injuries by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Meycauayan, Bulacan), and denied their motion for
reconsideration anent such dismissal.

The mauling incident involving neighbors that transpired on January 18, 2003 outside the house
of the petitioners in St. Francis Subdivision, Barangay Pandayan, Meycauayan Bulacan gave rise
to the issue subject of this appeal. Claiming themselves to be the victims in that mauling,
Josefina Guinto Morano,3Rommel Morano and Perla Beltran Morano charged the petitioners and
one Alfredo Enrile4 in the MTC with frustrated homicide (victim being Rommel) in Criminal Case
No. 03-275; with less serious physical injuries (victim being Josefina) in Criminal Case No. 03-
276; and with less serious physical injuries (victim being Perla) in Criminal Case No. 03-277, all
of the MTC of Meycauayan, Bulacan on August 8, 2003 after the parties submitted their
respective affidavits, the MTC issued its joint resolution, 5 whereby it found probable cause
against the petitioners for less serious physical injuries in Criminal Case No. 03-276 and Criminal
Case No. 03-277, and set their arraignment on September 8, 2003. On August 19, 2003, the
petitioners moved for the reconsideration of the joint resolution, arguing that the complainants
had not presented proof of their having been given medical attention lasting 10 days or longer,
thereby rendering their charges of less serious physical injuries dismissible; and that the two
cases for less serious physical injuries, being necessarily related to the case of frustrated
homicide still pending in the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, should not be governed by the
Rules on Summary Procedure.6 On November 11, 2003, the MTC denied the petitioners’ motion
for reconsideration because the grounds of the motion had already been discussed and passed
upon in the resolution sought to be reconsidered; and because the cases were governed by the
Rules on Summary Procedure, which prohibited the motion for reconsideration. 7 Thereafter, the
petitioners presented a manifestation with motion to quash and a motion for the deferment of
the arraignment.8

On February 11, 2004, the MTC denied the motion to quash, and ruled that the cases for less
serious physical injuries were covered by the rules on ordinary procedure; and reiterated the
arraignment previously scheduled on March 15, 2004. 9 It explained its denial of the motion to
quash in the following terms, to wit:ch an Rob lesvirt u alLa wlib rary

xxxx

As to the Motion to Quash, this Court cannot give due course to said motion. A perusal of the
records shows that the grounds and/or issues raised therein are matters of defense that can be
fully ventilated in a full blown trial on the merits.

Accordingly, Criminal Cases Nos. 03-276 and 03-277 both for Less Serious Physical Injuries are
hereby ordered tried under the ordinary procedure.

The Motion to Quash is hereby DENIED for reasons aforestated.

Meanwhile, set these cases for arraignment on March 15, 2004 as previously scheduled.

SO ORDERED.10

Still, the petitioners sought reconsideration of the denial of the motion to quash, but the MTC
denied their motion on March 25, 2004.11

Unsatisfied, the petitioners commenced a special civil action for certiorari assailing the order
dated February 11, 2004 denying their motion to quash, and the order dated March 25, 2004
denying their motion for reconsideration. The special civil action for certiorari was assigned to
Branch 7, presided by RTC Judge Manalastas.

On May 25, 2004, the RTC Judge Manalastas dismissed the petition for certiorari because: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLaw lib rary

As could be gleaned from the order of the public respondent dated February 11, 2004, the issues
raised in the motion to quash are matters of defense that could only be threshed out in a full
blown trial on the merits. Indeed, proof of the actual healing period of the alleged injuries of the
private complainants could only be established in the trial of the cases filed against herein
petitioners by means of competent evidence x x x. On the other hand, this court is likewise not
in a position, not being a trier of fact insofar as the instant petition is concerned, to rule on the
issue as to whether or not there was probable cause to prosecute the petitioners for the alleged
less physical injuries with which they stand charged. x x x.

All things considered, it would be premature to dismiss, the subject criminal cases filed against
the herein petitioners when the basis thereof could be determined only after trial on the merits. x
x x.12

The petitioners moved for the reconsideration, but the RTC denied their motion on July 9,
2004.13

The petitioners next went to the CA via a petition for certiorari and prohibition to nullify the
orders issued by the RTC on May 25, 2004 and July 9, 2004, averring grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the RTC. They urged the dismissal of
the criminal cases on the same grounds they advanced in the RTC.

However, on August 31, 2004, the CA promulgated its assailed resolution dismissing the petition
forcertiorari and prohibition for being the wrong remedy, the proper remedy being an appeal;
and ruling that they should have filed their notice of appeal on or before August 18, 2004 due to
their receiving the order of July 9, 2004 on August 3, 2004. 14

On December 21, 2004, the CA denied the petitioners’ motion for reconsideration. 15
Issues

In this appeal, the petitioners submit that: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLawlib rary

I.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE TRIAL COURTS’ RULING
DENYING THE PETITIONERS' MOTION TO QUASH THE COMPLAINTS DESPITE THE CLEAR AND
PATENT SHOWING THAT BOTH COMPLAINTS, ON THEIR FACE, LACKED ONE OF THE ESSENTIAL
ELEMENTS OF THE ALLEGED CRIME OF LESS SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURIES.

II.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE INJURIES SUSTAINED
BY THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANTS WERE NOT PERPETRATED BY THE PETITIONERS. 16

Ruling of the Court

The CA did not commit any reversible errors.

Firstly, considering that the certiorari case in the RTC was an original action, the dismissal of the
petition for certiorari on May 25, 2004, and the denial of the motion for reconsideration on July
9, 2004, were in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. As such, the orders were final by reason
of their completely disposing of the case, leaving nothing more to be done by the RTC. 17 The
proper recourse for the petitioners should be an appeal by notice of appeal, 18 taken within 15
days from notice of the denial of the motion for reconsideration. 19

Yet, the petitioners chose to assail the dismissal by the RTC through petitions for certiorari and
prohibition in the CA, instead of appealing by notice of appeal. Such choice was patently
erroneous and impermissible, because certiorari and prohibition, being extraordinary reliefs to
address jurisdictional errors of a lower court, were not available to them. Worthy to stress is that
the RTC dismissed the petition for certiorari upon its finding that the MTC did not gravely abuse
its discretion in denying the petitioners’ motion to quash. In its view, the RTC considered the
denial of the motion to quash correct, for it would be premature and unfounded for the MTC to
dismiss the criminal cases against the petitioners upon the supposed failure by the complainants
to prove the period of their incapacity or of the medical attendance for them. Indeed, the time
and the occasion to establish the duration of the incapacity or medical attendance would only be
at the trial on the merits.

Secondly, the motion to quash is the mode by which an accused, before entering his plea,
challenges the complaint or information for insufficiency on its face in point of law, or for defects
apparent on its face.20Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court enumerates the grounds for the
quashal of the complaint or information, as follows: (a) the facts charged do not constitute an
offense; (b) the court trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged; (c) the court
trying the case has no jurisdiction over the person of the accused; (d) the officer who filed the
information had no authority to do so; (e) the complaint or information does not conform
substantially to the prescribed form; (f) more than one offense is charged except when a single
punishment for various offenses is prescribed by law; (g) the criminal action or liability has been
extinguished; (h) the complaint or information contains averments which, if true, would
constitute a legal excuse or justification; and (i) the accused has been previously convicted or
acquitted of the offense charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated
without his express consent.

According to Section 6,21 Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, the complaint or information is sufficient
if it states the names of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the
acts or omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the
approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was
committed. The fundamental test in determining the sufficiency of the averments in a complaint
or information is, therefore, whether the facts alleged therein, if hypothetically admitted,
constitute the elements of the offense. 22

By alleging in their motion to quash that both complaints should be dismissed for lack of one of
the essential elements of less serious physical injuries, the petitioners were averring that the
facts charged did not constitute offenses. To meet the test of sufficiency, therefore, it is
necessary to refer to the law defining the offense charged, which, in this case, is Article 265 of
the Revised Penal Code, which pertinently states: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLa wlib rary

Article 265. Less serious physical injuries – Any person who shall inflict upon another physical
injuries x x x which shall incapacitate the offended party for labor for ten days or more,
or shall require medical assistance for the same period, shall be guilty of less serious
physical injuries and shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor.

x x x x.

Based on the law, the elements of the crime of less serious physical injuries are, namely: (1)
that the offender inflicted physical injuries upon another; and (2) that the physical injuries
inflicted either incapacitated the victim for labor for 10 days or more, or the injuries required
medical assistance for more than 10 days.

Were the elements of the crime sufficiently averred in the complaints? To answer this query, the
Court refers to the averments of the complaints themselves, to wit: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLa wlib rary

Criminal Case No. 03-276

That on the 18th day of January 2003, at around 7:30 in the evening more or less, in Brgy.
Pandayan (St. Francis Subd.), Municipality of Meycauayan, Province of Bulacan, Republic of the
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused
motivated by anger by conspiring, confederating and mutually helping with another did then and
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and strike the face of one JOSEFINA
GUINTO MORAÑO, thereby inflicting upon his (sic) physical injuries that will require a period of
10 to 12 days barring healing and will incapacitate his customary labor for the same period of
time attached Medical Certificate (sic).

CONTRARY TO LAW.23

Criminal Case No. 03-277

That on the 18th day of January 2003, at around 7:30 in the evening more or less, in Brgy.
Pandayan (St. Francis Subd.), Municipality of Meycauayan, Province of Bulacan, Republic of the
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above named accused
MOTIVATED by anger did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and
right and give hitting her head against pavement of one PERLA BELTRAN MORAÑO inflicting the
latter physical injuries and will require Medical Attendance for a period of 12 to 15 days barring
unforeseen complication as per Medical Certificate hereto attached.

CONTRARY TO LAW.24

The aforequoted complaints bear out that the elements of less serious physical injuries were
specifically averred therein. The complaint in Criminal Case No. 03-276 stated that: (a) the
petitioners “wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and strike the face of one
JOSEFINA GUINTO MORAÑO;” and (b) the petitioners inflicted physical injuries upon the
complainant “that will require a period of 10 to 12 days barring healing and will incapacitate his
customary labor for the same period of time;” while that in Criminal Case No. 03-277 alleged
that: (a) the petitioners “wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and right and give
hitting her head against pavement of one PERLA BELTRAN MORAÑO;” and (b) the petitioners
inflicted upon the complainant “physical injuries [that] will require Medical Attendance for a
period of 12 to 15 days barring unforeseen complication.”

In the context of Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court,25 the complaints sufficiently charged
cralawred

the petitioners with less serious physical injuries. Indeed, the complaints only needed to aver the
ultimate facts constituting the offense, not the details of why and how the illegal acts allegedly
amounted to undue injury or damage, for such matters, being evidentiary, were appropriate for
the trial. Hence, the complaints were not quashable.

In challenging the sufficiency of the complaints, the petitioners insist that the “complaints do not
provide any evidence/s that would tend to establish and to show that the medical attendance
rendered on private complainants actually and in fact lasted for a period exceeding ten (10)
days;” and the medical certificates attached merely stated that “the probable disability period of
healing is 10 to 12 days, for Josefina G. Morano, and, 12-15 days, for Perla B. Morano, hence,
the findings of the healing periods were merely speculations, surmises and conjectures.” They
insist that the “private complainants should have presented medical certificates that would show
the number of days rendered for medication considering that they filed their complaint on March
15, 2003 or about two (2) months after the alleged incident.”26

The petitioners’ insistence is utterly bereft of merit.

As the MTC and RTC rightly held, the presentation of the medical certificates to prove the
duration of the victims’ need for medical attendance or of their incapacity should take place only
at the trial, not before or during the preliminary investigation. According to Cinco v.
Sandiganbayan,27 the preliminary investigation, which is the occasion for the submission of the
parties’ respective affidavits, counter-affidavits and evidence to buttress their separate
allegations, is merely inquisitorial, and is often the only means of discovering whether a person
may be reasonably charged with a crime, to enable the prosecutor to prepare the
information.28 It is not yet a trial on the merits, for its only purpose is to determine whether a
crime has been committed and whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused is
guilty thereof.29 The scope of the investigation does not approximate that of a trial before the
court; hence, what is required is only that the evidence be sufficient to establish probable cause
that the accused committed the crime charged, not that all reasonable doubt of the guilt of the
accused be removed.30

We further agree with the RTC’s observation that “the issues raised in the motion to quash are
matters of defense that could only be threshed out in a full blown trial on the merits. Indeed,
proof of actual healing period of the alleged injuries of the private complainant could only be
established in the trial of the cases filed against herein petitioners by means of competent
evidence, and to grant the main prayer of the instant petition for the dismissal of the criminal
cases against them for less serious physical injuries is to prevent the trial court to hear and
receive evidence in connection with said cases and to render judgments thereon. x x x All things
considered, it would be premature to dismiss the subject criminal cases filed against the herein
petitioners when the basis thereof could be determined only after trial of the merits.” 31

And, lastly, in opting to still assail the denial of the motion to quash by the MTC by bringing the
special civil action for certiorari in the RTC, the petitioners deliberately disregarded the
fundamental conditions for initiating the special civil action for certiorari. These conditions were,
firstly, the petitioners must show that the respondent trial court lacked jurisdiction or exceeded
it, or gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction; and, secondly,
because the denial was interlocutory, they must show that there was no plain, speedy, and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.32

The petitioners’ disregard of the fundamental conditions precluded the success of their recourse.
To start with, the petitioners did not show that the MTC had no jurisdiction, or exceeded its
jurisdiction in denying the motion to quash, or gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction in its denial. That showing was the door that would have opened the way to
their success with the recourse. Yet, the door remained unopened to them because the denial by
the MTC of the motion to quash was procedurally and substantively correct because the duration
of the physical incapacity or medical attendance should be dealt with only during the trial on the
merits, not at the early stage of dealing with and resolving the motion to quash. As to the
second condition, the fact that the denial was interlocutory, not a final order, signified that the
MTC did not yet completely terminate its proceedings in the criminal cases. The proper recourse
of the petitioners was to enter their pleas as the accused, go to trial in the MTC, and should the
decision of the MTC be adverse to them in the end, reiterate the issue on their appeal from the
judgment and assign as error the unwarranted denial of their motion to quash. 33Certiorari was
not available to them in the RTC because they had an appeal, or another plain, speedy or
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition for review on certiorari; AFFIRMS the resolutions
promulgated on August 31, 2004 and December 21, 2004; and ORDERS the petitioners to pay
the costs of suit.

SO ORDERED. ch an rob lesvirt u allawlib rary

Sereno, C.J., Leonardo-De Castro, Perez, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 171222, February 18, 2015

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. LTSG. DOMINADOR BAYABOS, LTJG. MANNY


G. FERRER, LTJG. RONALD G. MAGSINO, LTJG. GERRY P. DOCTOR, ENS. DOMINADOR B.
OPERIO, JR., AND THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondents.

[G.R. No. 174786]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. RADM VIRGINIO R. ARIS, LTJG. KRUZALDO


G. MABBORANG, ENS. DENNIS S. VELASCO, AND THE HON.
SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondents.

DECISION

SERENO, C.J.:

While this Court has recently faced questions on the criminal liability of fraternity members for
hazing, this case presents novel questions on the extent of liability of schools and school
authorities under Republic Act No. 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law.

The responsibility given to an academic institution for the welfare of its students has been
characterized by law and judicial doctrine as a form of special parental authority and
responsibility.1 This responsibility has been amplified by the enactment of the Anti-Hazing Law,
in that the failure by school authorities to take any action to prevent the offenses as provided by
the law exposes them to criminal liability as accomplices in the criminal acts. Thus, the
institution and its officers cannot stand idly by in the face of patently criminal acts committed
within their sphere of responsibility. They bear the commensurate duty to ensure that the crimes
covered by the Anti-Hazing Law are not committed.

It was within this legal framework that the school authorities of the Philippine Merchant Marine
Academy (PMMA) were criminally charged before the Sandiganbayan as accomplices to hazing
under the Anti-Hazing Law. Before they were arraigned, the Sandiganbayan quashed 2 the
Information against them on the basis of the dismissal of the criminal case against the principal
accused and, the failure to include in the Information the material averments required by the
Anti-Hazing Law.

Consequently, this Petition was filed before this Court questioning the Sandiganbayan’s quashal
of the Information.

The Case Background

Fernando C. Balidoy, Jr. (Balidoy) was admitted as a probationary midshipman at the PMMA.3 In
order to reach active status, all new entrants were required to successfully complete the
mandatory “Indoctrination and Orientation Period,”4 which was set from 2 May to 1 June
2001.5 Balidoy died on 3 May 2001.6 ch an rob lesvirt u alla wlib rary

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probed the death of Balidoy. After months of
investigation, it forwarded its findings7 to the provincial prosecutor of Zambales for the
preliminary investigation and possible criminal prosecution of those involved in the orientation
and indoctrination of the PMMA Class of 2005. 8 Subsequently, the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
of Zambales issued a Resolution9 finding probable cause to charge the following as principals to
the crime of hazing: Aldwin Alvarez (Alvarez), Leotharius C. Montez (Montez), Rudence G. Reyes
(Reyes), and Jed Nicholas S. Simpas (Simpas) – collectively, Alvarez et al. A criminal case
against Alvarez et al. was then filed with the Regional Trial Court of Iba, Zambales (RTC–
Zambales).

The Assistant Provincial Prosecutor also endorsed to the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military the
finding of probable cause to charge the following school authorities as accomplices to hazing:
Rear Admiral (RADM) Virginio R. Aris (Aris), Lieutenant Senior Grade (LTSG.) Dominador D.
Bayabos (Bayabos), Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG.) Gerry P. Doctor (Doctor), LTJG. Manny
Ferrer (Ferrer), LTJG. Kruzaldo Mabborang (Mabborang), LTJG. Ronald G. Magsino (Magsino),
Ensign (ENS.) Dennis Velasco (Velasco), and ENS. Dominador Operio (Operio) – collectively,
respondents. The Ombudsman Investigator agreed with the findings of the Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor. The matter was thus ordered re-docketed for the purpose of conducting the proper
administrative proceedings against respondents for grave misconduct and abuse of
authority.10 The Office of the Special Prosecutor eventually filed with the Sandiganbayan a
criminal case charging respondents as accomplices to the crime of hazing. 11 ch an rob lesvirt u allawlib rar y

Meanwhile, the RTC–Zambales issued an Order dismissing the Information against


the principal accused, Alvarez et al.12 The Order was later entered in the Book of Entries of
Judgment.

Bayabos, Ferrer, Magsino, Doctor, and Operio (collectively, Bayabos et al.) filed a Motion to
Quash the Information.13 They argued that the Information did not contain all the essential
elements of the offense. They also pointed out that there was no allegation that the purported
act had been made a prerequisite for admission to the PMMA, especially considering that the
victim had already been accepted in the academy. Moreover, they stressed that there was no
averment in the Information that the PMMA was a fraternity, a sorority, or an organization. Also
underscored was the absence in the Information of any assertion that the alleged hazing was not
part of the “physical, mental, and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to
determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular
members.” Furthermore, they emphasized that there was no allegation that they were given
prior written notice of the hazing and that they had permitted the activity.

As a final point, Bayabos et al. argued that the case against the principal accused had already
been dismissed with finality by the RTC. There being no more principals with whom they could
have cooperated in the execution of the offense, they asserted that the case against them must
be dismissed.

The Special Prosecutor opposed14 the motion of Bayabos et al. He insisted that the Information
alleged the material facts that would sufficiently establish the presence of the essential
ingredients of the crime of accomplice to hazing. He also stressed that there was nothing in the
law requiring that the principals must be prosecuted first before a case could be filed against the
accomplices. The Comment/Opposition of the Special Prosecutor was, however, silent on the
issue of whether the Information contained an allegation that the supposed hazing had been
made a prerequisite for admission to the PMMA, and whether the academy was considered an
“organization” within the meaning of the Anti-Hazing Law.

Six days before Bayabos et al. were set to be arraigned,15 the Sandiganbayan issued the assailed
Resolution (SB Resolution I) quashing the Information and dismissing the criminal case against
them. According to the court, the fact that the charge against the principal accused Alvarez et
al. was dismissed with finality favorably carried with it the indictment against those charged as
accomplices, whose criminal responsibility was subordinate to that of the former. It stressed that
before there can be an accomplice, there must be a principal by direct participation, the latter
being the originator of the criminal design. In this case, as there were no principal perpetrators
to speak of, necessarily, there was no one else with whom they could have cooperated in the
execution of the crime of hazing. In view of the dismissal of the case against the principals, the
court ruled that the Information charging Bayabos et al. as accomplices could no longer stand on
its own.

In any event, the Sandiganbayan found that the Information charged no offense, and that the
allegations therein were mere conclusions of law. It also stressed that there was no averment
that the alleged hazing was not part of the “physical, mental and psychological testing and
training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical, mental and
psychological fitness of prospective regular members” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), pursuant to Section 1 of the law. 16 It must be
noted, though, that the Sandiganbayan did not make any categorical determination that the
PMMA was considered an “organization” within the meaning of the Anti-Hazing Law.

Six months after the Sandiganbayan issued its Resolution dismissing the criminal case against
Bayabos et al., the accused Velasco surrendered and then filed his own Motion to
Quash,17 adopting the grounds raised by that court. His arraignment was set on 14 August
2006.18 However, on 3 August 2006, the Sandiganbayan issued another Resolution (SB
Resolution II) dismissing the case against him. According to the court, since Velasco was
similarly situated as Bayabos et al., the Information against him must likewise be quashed in
light of the reasoning laid out in SB Resolution I. In the same Resolution, the Sandiganbayan ex
proprio motu dismissed the case against Aris and Mabborang (collectively, Velasco et al.),
explaining that they, too, had been charged under the same Information for the same
offense.19 It is unclear from the records20 whether the accused Aris and Mabborang surrendered
or were arrested, or whether the Order of Arrest21 was recalled prior to the dismissal of the case.

Aggrieved, the Office of the Ombudsman, through the Special Prosecutor, filed with this Court on
13 March 2006 a Petition assailing SB Resolution I and, on 16 October 2006, another Petition
challenging SB Resolution II.

The Issues
The Special Prosecutor asks this Court to address a number of legal issues. After a thorough
evaluation of the Petitions, however, we cull the threshold issues needing to be addressed by this
Court as follows:ch an Rob lesvirt u alLaw lib rary

I. Whether the prosecution of respondents for the crime of accomplice to hazing can
proceed in spite of the dismissal with finality of the case against the principal accused

II. Whether the Information filed against respondents contains all the material averments for
the prosecution of the crime of accomplice to hazing under the Anti-Hazing Law

Our Ruling

With regard to the first issue, we agree with petitioner that the Sandiganbayan erred when it
dismissed outright the case against respondents, on the sole ground that the case against the
purported principals had already been dismissed. It is a settled rule that the case against those
charged as accomplices is not ipso facto dismissed in the absence of trial of the purported
principals; the dismissal of the case against the latter; or even the latter’s acquittal, especially
when the occurrence of the crime has in fact been established. 22 In People v. Rafael,23 the
Supreme Court En Banc reasoned thus: “The corresponding responsibilities of the principal,
accomplice, and accessory are distinct from each other. As long as the commission of the offense
can be duly established in evidence, the determination of the liability of the accomplice or
accessory can proceed independently of that of the principal.” Accordingly, so long as the
commission of the crime can be duly proven, the trial of those charged as accomplices to
determine their criminal liability can proceed independently of that of the alleged principal. 24 ch anrob lesvirt u alla wlib rary

We note in the present case that Bayabos et al. merely presented the Order of Entry of
Judgment25dismissing the case against Alvarez et al. Nowhere is it mentioned in the order that
the case was dismissed against the alleged principals, because no crime had been committed. In
fact, it does not cite the trial court’s reason for dismissing the case. Hence, the Sandiganbayan
committed an error when it simply relied on the Order of Entry of Judgment without so much as
scrutinizing the reason for the dismissal of the case against the purported principals.

Nonetheless, as will be discussed below, we affirm the quashal of the Information against
respondents.

Section 14, Article III of the Constitution, recognizes the right of the accused to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against them. As a manifestation of this constitutional
right, the Rules of Court requires that the information charging persons with an offense be
“sufficient.” One of the key components of a “sufficient information” is the statement of the acts
or omissions constituting the offense charged, subject of the complaint. 26 The information must
also be crafted in a language ordinary and concise enough to enable persons of common
understanding to know the offense being charged against them. 27 This approach is intended to
allow them to suitably prepare for their defense, as they are presumed to have no independent
knowledge of the facts constituting the offense they have purportedly committed.28 The
information need not be in the same kind of language used in the law relied upon.29 ch an rob lesvirt u allawlib rary

At any time before entering a plea, an accused may assail the information filed with the court
based on the grounds enumerated in Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, one of which is
the claim that the facts charged do not constitute an offense. In assessing whether an
information must be quashed on that ground, the basic test 30 is to determine if the facts averred
would establish the presence of the essential elements of the crime as defined in the law. The
information is examined without consideration of the truth or veracity of the claims therein, as
these are more properly proven or controverted during the trial. In the appraisal of the
information, matters aliunde are not taken into account.
We quote the pertinent provision of the Anti-Hazing Law as follows: ch an Rob lesvirt u alL awlib rary

Section 1. Hazing, as used in this Act, is an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for
admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit,
neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situationssuch as forcing him
to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities orotherwise subjecting him
to physical or psychological suffering or injury.

The term “organization” shall include any club or the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and cadet
corp of the Citizen's Military Training and Citizen's Army Training. The physical, mental
and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the
physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as approved by the Secretary of National
Defense and the National Police Commission duly recommended by the Chief of Staff, Armed
Forces of the Philippines and the Director General of the Philippine National Police shall not be
considered as hazing for the purposes of this Act.

Sec. 4. x x x x.

The school authorities including faculty members who consent to the hazing or who have
actual knowledge thereof, but failed to take any action to prevent the same from
occurring shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by the
perpetrators. (Emphasis supplied)
The crime of hazing is thus committed when the following essential elements are established: (1)
a person is placed in some embarrassing or humiliating situation or subjected to physical or
psychological suffering or injury; and (2) these acts were employed as a prerequisite for the
person’s admission or entry into an organization. In the crime of hazing, the crucial ingredient
distinguishing it from the crimes against persons defined under Title Eight of the Revised Penal
Code is the infliction by a person of physical or psychological suffering on another in furtherance
of the latter’s admission or entry into an organization.

In the case of school authorities and faculty members who have had no direct participation in the
act, they may nonetheless be charged as accomplices if it is shown that (1) hazing, as
established by the above elements, occurred; (2) the accused are school authorities or faculty
members; and (3) they consented to or failed to take preventive action against hazing in spite
actual knowledge thereof.

First, we reject the contention of respondents that PMMA should not be considered
an organization. Under the Anti-Hazing Law, the breadth of the term organization includes – but
is not limited to – groups, teams, fraternities, sororities, citizen army training corps, educational
institutions, clubs, societies, cooperatives, companies, partnerships, corporations, the PNP, and
the AFP.31 Attached to the Department of Transportation and Communications,32 the PMMA is a
government-owned educational institution33established for the primary purpose of producing
efficient and well-trained merchant marine officers.34Clearly, it is included in the
term organization within the meaning of the law.

We also disagree with the Sandiganbayan ruling that the quashal of the Information was
warranted for failure to allege that the purported acts were not covered by the exemption
relating to the duly recommended and approved “testing and training procedure and practices”
for prospective regular members of the AFP and the PNP. This exemption is an affirmative
defense in, not an essential element of, the crime of accomplice to hazing. It is an assertion that
must be properly claimed by the accused, not by the prosecution. The reason for this rule is that
the accused carry the burden of proof in establishing by clear and convincing evidence that they
have satisfied the requirements thereof. 35 Thus, the prosecution’s failure to point out in the
Information that the exception is inapplicable would not justify the quashal of that Information.
Nevertheless, we find – albeit for a different reason – that the Motion to Quash must be granted,
as the Information does not include all the material facts constituting the crime of accomplice to
hazing. The Information charging respondents reads as follows: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLaw lib rary

The undersigned Assistant Special Prosecutor, Office of the Special Prosecutor, hereby accuses
[RADM] Virginio R. Aris, [LTSG.] Dominador D. BAYABOS, [LTJG.] Manny G. Ferrer, [LTJG.]
Ronald G. Magsino, [LTJG.] Kruzaldo G. Mabborang, [LTJG.] Gerry P. Doctor, [ENS.] Dominador
B. Operio, Jr., and [ENS.] Dennis S. Velasco, as accomplices for Violation of R.A. 8049 (Anti-
Hazing Law), committed as follows: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLawl ib rary

That during the period from the 2nd of May 2001 up to the 3rd of May 2001, inside the campus of
the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), in the Municipality of San Narciso, Province of
Zambales, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court accused RADM Virginio
R. Aris, President of PMMA with [Salary Grade (SG) 29]; LTSG. Dominador D. BAYABOS,
Commandant of the Cadets; (LTJG.) Manny G. Ferrer, 1stBatallion Officer; LTJG. Ronald G.
Magsino, Security Officer; LTJG. Kruzaldo G. Mabborang, 2nd Battalion Officer; LTJG. Gerry P.
Doctor, Batl. Mast.; ENS. Dominador B. Operio, Jr., 1stBattalion Company Officer; and ENS.
Dennis S. Velasco, Mess Officer, all public officers, conspiring, confederating and mutually
helping one another, committing the offense in relation to office and while in the performance of
their duties as such public officers being the school authorities and/or faculty members did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally, consent or have actual knowledge of the hazing
perpetrated by the principal accused, all First Class Midshipmen, against probationary
midshipman FERNANDO BALIDOy, JR. during the school’s Indoctrination and Orientation; and,
fail to take any action to prevent the occurrence of the hazing and the infliction of psychological
and physical injuries against said FERNANDO BALIDOy, JR. thereby causing the instantaneous
death of the latter, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of said FERNANDO BALIDOy, JR. 36
As can be gleaned from the above, the indictment merely states that psychological pain and
physical injuries were inflicted on the victim. There is no allegation that the purported acts were
employed as a prerequisite for admission or entry into the organization. Failure to aver this
crucial ingredient would prevent the successful prosecution of the criminal responsibility of the
accused, either as principal or as accomplice, for the crime of hazing. Plain reference to a
technical term37 – in this case, hazing – is insufficient and incomplete, as it is but a
characterization of the acts allegedly committed and thus a mere conclusion of law. Section 6,
Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, expressly states that the information must include, inter alia,
both “the designation of the offense given by the statute” and “the acts or omissions complained
of as constituting the offense.” The Special Prosecutor’s belated argument 38 in his Petition before
this Court that the successful completion of the indoctrination and orientation program was used
as a prerequisite for continued admission to the academy – i.e., attainment of active midshipman
status – does not cure this defect in the Information. Thus, the Information must be quashed, as
the ultimate facts it presents do not constitute the crime of accomplice to hazing.

Finally, we reject the Special Prosecutor’s claim that the Sandiganbayan should just have
ordered the filing of another information or the correction of the defect by amendment, instead
of dismissing the case outright.39 Indeed, Section 4, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, provides that
if a motion to quash is based on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense,
the court shall give the prosecution a chance to correct the defect by amendment. However, the
provision also states that if the prosecution fails to make the amendment, the motion shall be
granted. Here, we point out that the Special Prosecutor insisted in his Comment on the Motion to
Quash40 that there was no defect in the Information. Neither has he filed a new information after
the motion was sustained, pursuant to Section 5, Rule 117. Thus, the Sandiganbayan was
correct in ordering the quashal of the Information and the eventual dismissal of the case.

This does not mean, however, that the Special Prosecutor is now precluded from filing another
information. Section 6, Rule 117, specifically states that an order sustaining a motion to quash
would not bar another prosecution. That is, of course, unless respondents are able to prove that
the criminal action or liability has been extinguished, or that double jeopardy has already
attached.

Given the foregoing, the Court no longer sees the necessity to pass upon the other issues raised
by petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari in G.R. No. 171222 is hereby DENIED and
the petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 174786, DISMISSED. The dismissal of the case in
Sandiganbayan Resolutions dated 27 January 2006 and 3 August 2006 in Criminal Case No.
28339 are thus AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
LTSG. DOMINADOR BAYABOS, LTJG. MANNY G. FERRER, LTJG. RONALD G.
MAGSINO, LTJG. GERRY P. DOCTOR, ENS. DOMINADOR B. OPERIO, JR., and
THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondents.

x-----------------------x

G.R. No. 174786

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
RADM VIRGINIO R. ARIS, LTJG. KRUZALDO G. MABBORANG, ENS. DENNIS
S. VELASCO, and the HON. SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondents.

DECISION

SERENO, CJ:

While this Court has recently faced questions on the criminal liability of fraternity
members for hazing, this case presents novel questions on the extent of liability of
schools and school authorities under Republic Act No. 8049, or the Anti-Hazing Law.

The responsibility given to an academic institution for the welfare of its students has
been characterized by law and judicial doctrine as a form of special parental
authority and responsibility.1 This responsibility has been amplified by the enactment
of the Anti-Hazing Law, in that the failure by school authorities to take any action to
prevent the offenses as provided by the law exposes them to criminal liability as
accomplices in the criminal acts. Thus, the institution and its officers cannot stand
idly by in the face of patently criminal acts committed within their sphere of
responsibility. They bear the commensurate duty to ensure that the crimes covered
by the Anti-Hazing Law are not committed.
It was within this legal framework that the school authorities of the Philippine
Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) were criminally charged before the
Sandiganbayan as accomplices to hazing under the Anti-Hazing Law. Before they
were arraigned, the Sandiganbayan quashed2 the Information against them on the
basis of the dismissal of the criminal case against the principal accused and, the
failure to include in the Information the material averments required by the Anti-
Hazing Law.

Consequently, this Petition was filed before this Court questioning the
Sandiganbayan’s quashal of the Information.

THE CASE BACKGROUND

Fernando C. Balidoy, Jr. (Balidoy) was admitted as a probationary midshipman at


the PMMA.3 In order to reach active status, all new entrants were required to
successfully complete the mandatory "Indoctrination and Orientation Period,"4 which
was set from 2 May to 1 June 2001.5 Balidoy died on 3 May 2001.6

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probed the death of Balidoy. After
months of investigation, it forwarded its findings 7 to the provincial prosecutor of
Zambales for the preliminary investigation and possible criminal prosecution of those
involved in the orientation and indoctrination of the PMMA Class of
2005.8 Subsequently, the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Zambales issued a
Resolution9 finding probable cause to charge the following as principals to the crime
of hazing: Aldwin Alvarez (Alvarez), Leotharius C.Montez (Montez), Rudence G.
Reyes (Reyes), and Jed Nicholas S. Simpas (Simpas) – collectively, Alvarez et al. A
criminal case against Alvarez et al. was then filed with the Regional Trial Court of
Iba, Zambales (RTC–Zambales).

The Assistant Provincial Prosecutor also endorsed to the Deputy Ombudsman for
the Military the finding of probable cause to charge the following school authorities
as accomplices to hazing: Rear Admiral (RADM) Virginio R. Aris (Aris), Lieutenant
SeniorGrade (LTSG.) Dominador D. Bayabos (Bayabos), Lieutenant Junior Grade
(LTJG.) Gerry P. Doctor (Doctor), LTJG. Manny Ferrer (Ferrer), LTJG. Kruzaldo
Mabborang (Mabborang), LTJG. Ronald G. Magsino (Magsino), Ensign (ENS.)
Dennis Velasco (Velasco), and ENS. Dominador Operio (Operio) – collectively,
respondents. The Ombudsman Investigator agreed with the findings of the Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor. The matter was thus ordered re-docketed for the purpose of
conducting the proper administrative proceedings against respondents for grave
misconduct and abuse of authority.10 The Office of the Special Prosecutor eventually
filed with the Sandiganbayan a criminal case charging respondents as accomplices
to the crime of hazing.11

Meanwhile, the RTC–Zambales issued an Order dismissing the Information against


the principal accused, Alvarez et al.12 The Order was later entered in the Book of
Entries of Judgment. Bayabos, Ferrer, Magsino, Doctor, and Operio (collectively,
Bayabos et al.) filed a Motion to Quash the Information.13 They argued that the
Information did not contain all the essential elements of the offense. They also
pointed out that there was no allegation that the purported act had been made a
prerequisite for admission to the PMMA, especially considering that the victim had
already been accepted in the academy. Moreover, they stressed that there was no
averment in the Information that the PMMA was a fraternity, a sorority, or an
organization. Also underscored was the absence in the Information of any assertion
that the alleged hazing was not part of the "physical, mental, and psychological
testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical,
mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members." Furthermore,
they emphasized that there was no allegation that they were given prior written
notice of the hazing and that they had permitted the activity.

As a final point, Bayabos et al. argued that the case against the principal accused
had already been dismissed with finality by the RTC. There being no more principals
with whom they could have cooperated in the execution of the offense, they
asserted that the case against them must be dismissed.

The Special Prosecutor opposed14 the motion of Bayabos et al. He insisted that the
Information alleged the material facts that would sufficiently establish the presence
of the essential ingredients of the crime of accomplice to hazing. He also stressed
that there was nothing in the law requiring that the principals must be prosecuted
first before a case could be filed against the accomplices. The Comment/Opposition
of the Special Prosecutor was, however, silent on the issue of whether the
Information contained an allegation that the supposed hazing had been made a
prerequisite for admission to the PMMA, and whether the academy was considered
an "organization" within the meaning of the Anti-Hazing Law.

Six days before Bayabos et al. were set to be arraigned,15 the Sandiganbayan issued
the assailed Resolution (SB Resolution I) quashing the Information and dismissing
the criminal case against them. According to the court, the fact that the charge
against the principal accused Alvarez et al. was dismissed with finality favorably
carried with it the indictment against those charged as accomplices, whose criminal
responsibility was subordinate to that of the former. It stressed that before there can
be an accomplice, there must be a principal by direct participation, the latter being
the originator of the criminal design. In this case, as there were no principal
perpetrators to speak of, necessarily, there was no one else with whom they could
have cooperated in the execution of the crime of hazing. In view of the dismissal of
the case against the principals, the court ruled that the Information charging
Bayabos et al. as accomplices could no longer stand on its own.

In any event, the Sandiganbayan found that the Information charged no offense, and
that the allegations therein were mere conclusions of law. It also stressed that there
was no averment that the alleged hazing was not part of the "physical, mental and
psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and
enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular
members" of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National
Police (PNP), pursuant to Section 1 of the law.16 It must be noted, though, that the
Sandiganbayan did not make any categorical determination that the PMMA was
considered an "organization" within the meaning of the Anti-Hazing Law.

Six months after the Sandiganbayan issued its Resolution dismissing the criminal
case against Bayabos et al., the accused Velasco surrendered and then filed his
own Motion to Quash,17 adopting the grounds raised by that court. His arraignment
was set on 14 August 2006.18 However, on 3 August 2006, the Sandiganbayan
issued another Resolution (SB Resolution II) dismissing the case against him.
According to the court, since Velasco was similarly situated as Bayabos et al., the
Information against him must likewise be quashed in light of the reasoning laid out in
SB Resolution I. In the same Resolution, the Sandiganbayan ex proprio motu
dismissed the case against Aris and Mabborang (collectively, Velasco et al.),
explaining that they, too, had been charged under the same Information for the
same offense.19 It is unclear from the records20 whether the accused Aris and
Mabborang surrendered or were arrested, or whether the Order of Arrest 21 was
recalled prior to the dismissal of the case.

Aggrieved, the Office of the Ombudsman, through the Special Prosecutor, filed with
this Court on 13 March 2006 a Petition assailing SB Resolution I and, on 16 October
2006, another Petition challenging SB Resolution II.

THE ISSUES

The Special Prosecutor asks this Court to address a number of legal issues. After a
thorough evaluation of the Petitions, however, we cull the threshold issues needing
to be addressed by this Court as follows:

I. Whether the prosecution of respondents for the crime of accomplice to hazing can
proceed in spite of the dismissal with finality of the case against the principal
accused

II. Whether the Information filed against respondents contains all the material
averments for the prosecution of the crime of accomplice to hazing under the Anti-
Hazing Law

OUR RULING

With regard to the first issue, we agree with petitioner that the Sandiganbayan erred
when it dismissed outright the case against respondents, on the sole ground that the
case against the purported principals had already been dismissed. It is a settled rule
that the case against those charged as accomplices is not ipso facto dismissed in
the absence of trial of the purported principals; the dismissal of the case against the
latter; or even the latter’s acquittal, especially when the occurrence of the crime has
in fact been established.22 In People v. Rafael,23 the Supreme Court En Banc
reasoned thus: "The corresponding responsibilities of the principal, accomplice, and
accessory are distinct from each other. As long as the commission of the offense
can be duly established in evidence, the determination of the liability of the
accomplice or accessory can proceed independently of that of the principal."
Accordingly, so long as the commission of the crime can be duly proven, the trial of
those charged as accomplices to determine their criminal liability can proceed
independently of that of the alleged principal.24 We note in the present case that
Bayabos et al. merely presented the Order of Entry of Judgment25 dismissing the
case against Alvarez et al. Nowhere is it mentioned in the order that the case was
dismissed against the alleged principals, because no crime had been committed. In
fact, it does not cite the trial court’s reason for dismissing the case. Hence, the
Sandiganbayan committed an error when it simply relied on the Order of Entry of
Judgment without so much as scrutinizing the reason for the dismissal of the case
against the purported principals.

Nonetheless, as will be discussed below, we affirm the quashal of the Information


against respondents.

Section 14, Article III of the Constitution, recognizes the right of the accused to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against them. As a manifestation
of this constitutional right, the Rules of Court requires that the information charging
persons with an offense be "sufficient." One of the key components of a "sufficient
information" is the statement of the acts or omissions constituting the offense
charged, subject of the complaint.26 The information must also be crafted in a
language ordinary and concise enough to enable persons of common understanding
to know the offense being charged against them.27 This approach is intended to allow
them to suitably prepare for their defense, as they are presumed to have no
independent knowledge of the facts constituting the offense they have purportedly
committed.28 The information need not be in the same kind of language used in the
law relied upon.29

At any time before entering a plea, an accused may assail the information filed with
the court based on the grounds enumerated in Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of
Court, one of which is the claim that the facts charged do not constitute an offense.
In assessing whether an information must be quashed on that ground, the basic
test30 is to determine if the facts averred would establish the presence of the
essential elements of the crime as defined in the law. The information is examined
without consideration of the truth or veracity of the claims therein, as these are more
properly proven or controverted during the trial. In the appraisal of the information,
matters aliunde are not taken into account.

We quote the pertinent provision of the Anti-Hazing Law as follows:


Section 1. Hazing, as used in this Act, is an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite
for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the
recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such
as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or
otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.

The term "organization" shall include any club or the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and
cadet corp of the Citizen's Military Training and Citizen's Army Training. The
physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to
determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of
prospective regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the
Philippine National Police as approved by the Secretary of National Defense and the
National Police Commission duly recommended by the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces
of the Philippines and the Director General of the Philippine National Police shall not
be considered as hazing for the purposes of this Act.

Sec. 4. x x x x.

The school authorities including faculty members who consent to the hazing or who
have actual knowledge thereof, but failed to take any action to prevent the same
from occurring shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by
the perpetrators. (Emphasis supplied)

The crime of hazing is thus committed when the following essential elements are
established: (1) a person is placed in some embarrassing or humiliating situation or
subjected to physical or psychological suffering or injury; and (2) these acts were
employed as a prerequisite for the person’s admission or entry into an organization.
In the crime of hazing, the crucial ingredient distinguishing it from the crimes against
persons defined under Title Eight of the Revised Penal Code is the infliction by a
person of physical or psychological suffering on another in furtherance of the latter’s
admission or entry into an organization.

In the case of school authorities and faculty members who have had no direct
participation in the act, they may nonetheless be charged as accomplices if it is
shown that (1) hazing, as established by the above elements, occurred; (2) the
accused are school authorities or faculty members; and (3) they consented to or
failed to take preventive action against hazing in spite actual knowledge thereof.

First, we reject the contention of respondents that PMMA should not be considered
an organization. Under the Anti-Hazing Law, the breadth of the term organization
includes – but is not limited to – groups, teams, fraternities, sororities, citizen army
training corps, educational institutions, clubs, societies, cooperatives, companies,
partnerships, corporations, the PNP, and the AFP.31 Attached to the Department of
Transportation and Communications,32 the PMMA is a government-owned
educational institution33 established for the primary purpose of producing efficient
and well-trained merchant marine officers.34 Clearly, it is included in the term
organization within the meaning of the law.

We also disagree with the Sandiganbayan ruling that the quashal of the Information
was warranted for failure to allege that the purported acts were not covered by the
exemption relating to the duly recommended and approved "testing and training
procedure and practices" for prospective regular members of the AFP and the PNP.
This exemption is an affirmative defense in, not an essential element of, the crime of
accomplice to hazing. It is an assertion that must be properly claimed by the
accused, not by the prosecution. The reason for this rule is that the accused carry
the burden of proof in establishing by clear and convincing evidence that they have
satisfied the requirements thereof.35 Thus, the prosecution’s failure to point out in the
Information that the exception is inapplicable would not justify the quashal of that
Information.

Nevertheless, we find – albeit for a different reason – that the Motion to Quash must
be granted, as the Information does not include all the material facts constituting the
crime of accomplice to hazing. The Information charging respondents reads as
follows:

The undersigned Assistant Special Prosecutor, Office of the Special Prosecutor,


hereby accuses [RADM] VIRGINIO R. ARIS, [LTSG.] DOMINADOR D.
BAYABOS,[LTJG.] MANNY G. FERRER, [LTJG.] RONALD G. MAGSINO,[LTJG.]
KRUZALDO G. MABBORANG, [LTJG.] GERRY P.DOCTOR, [ENS.] DOMINADOR
B. OPERIO, JR., and [ENS.] DENNIS S. VELASCO, as accomplices for Violation of
R.A. 8049 (Anti-Hazing Law), committed as follows:

That during the period from the 2nd of May 2001 up to the 3rd of May 2001, inside
the campus of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), in the Municipality
of San Narciso, Province of Zambales, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court accused RADM VIRGINIO R. ARIS, President of PMMA with
[Salary Grade (SG) 29]; LTSG. DOMINADOR D. BAYABOS, Commandant of the
Cadets; (LTJG.) MANNY G. FERRER, 1st Batallion Officer; LTJG. RONALD G.
MAGSINO, Security Officer; LTJG. KRUZALDO G. MABBORANG, 2nd Battalion
Officer; LTJG.GERRY P. DOCTOR, Batl. Mast.; ENS. DOMINADOR B. OPERIO,
JR., 1st Battalion Company Officer; and ENS. DENNIS S. VELASCO, Mess Officer,
all public officers, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another,
committing the offense in relation to office and while in the performance of their
duties as such public officers being the school authorities and/or faculty members
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally, consent or have actual
knowledge of the hazing perpetrated by the principal accused, all First Class
Midshipmen, against probationary midshipman FERNANDO BALIDOY, JR. during
the school’s Indoctrination and Orientation; and, fail to take any action to prevent the
occurrence of the hazing and the infliction of psychological and physical injuries
against said FERNANDO BALIDOY, JR. thereby causing the instantaneous death of
the latter, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of said FERNANDO BALIDOY,
JR.36

As can be gleaned from the above, the indictment merely states that psychological
pain and physical injuries were inflicted on the victim. There is no allegation that the
purported acts were employed as a prerequisite for admission or entry into the
organization. Failure to aver this crucial ingredient would prevent the successful
prosecution of the criminal responsibility of the accused, either as principal or as
accomplice, for the crime of hazing. Plain reference to a technical term 37 – in this
case, hazing – is insufficient and incomplete, as it is but a characterization of the
acts allegedly committed and thus a mere conclusion of law. Section 6, Rule 110 of
the Rules of Court, expressly states that the information must include, inter alia, both
"the designation of the offense given by the statute" and "the acts or omissions
complained of as constituting the offense." The Special Prosecutor’s belated
argument38 in his Petition before this Court that the successful completion of the
indoctrination and orientation program was used as a prerequisite for continued
admission to the academy – i.e., attainment of active midshipman status – does not
cure this defect in the Information. Thus, the Information must be quashed, as the
ultimate facts it presents do not constitute the crime of accomplice to hazing. Finally,
we reject the Special Prosecutor’s claim that the Sandiganbayan should just have
ordered the filing of another information or the correction of the defect by
amendment, instead of dismissing the case outright.39 Indeed, Section 4, Rule 117 of
the Rules of Court, provides that if a motion to quash is based on the ground that the
facts charged do not constitute an offense, the court shall give the prosecution a
chance to correct the defect by amendment. However, the provision also states that
if the prosecution fails to make the amendment, the motion shall be granted. Here,
we point out that the Special Prosecutor insisted in his Comment on the Motion to
Quash40 that there was no defect in the Information. Neither has he filed a new
information after the motion was sustained, pursuant to Section 5, Rule 117. Thus,
the Sandiganbayan was correct in ordering the quashal of the Information and the
eventual dismissal of the case.

This does not mean, however, that the Special Prosecutor is now precluded from
filing another information. Section 6, Rule 117, specifically states that an order
1âw phi1

sustaining a motion to quash would not bar another prosecution. That is, of course,
unless respondents are able to prove that the criminal action or liability has been
extinguished, or that double jeopardy has already attached.

Given the foregoing, the Court no longer sees the necessity to pass upon the other
issues raised by petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari in G.R. No. 171222 is hereby
DENIED and the petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 174786, DISMISSED. The
dismissal of the case in Sandiganbayan Resolutions dated 27 January 2006 and 3
August 2006 in Criminal Case No. 28339 are thus AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO


Chief Justice, Chairperson

WE CONCUR:

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. JOSEPH ASILAN Y TABORNAL,


ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

This is an appeal filed by the accused-appellant Joseph Asilan y Tabornal (Asilan) to challenge
the February 25, 2009 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02686,
which affirmed in toto his Murder conviction, rendered by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
20 of the City of Manila on January 8, 2007, in Criminal Case No. 06-243060. cralaw

On March 31, 2006, Asilan was charged with the complex crime of Direct Assault with Murder in
an Information,[2] the pertinent portion of which reads:

That on or about March 27, 2006, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused,
conspiring, and confederating with another whose true name, real identity and present
whereabouts are still unknown and mutually helping each other, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault and use personal violence upon the person of PO1
RANDY ADOVAS y PE-CAAT, a member of the Philippine National Police assigned at Camp
Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig, MM, duly qualified, appointed, and acting as such, and therefore
an agent of a person in authority, which fact was known to the said accused, while PO1 RANDY
ADOVAS y PE-CAAT was in the performance of his official duty, that is, while handcuffing the
at-large co-conspirator for illegal possession of deadly weapon, herein accused suddenly
appeared and with intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault, and use
personal violence upon said police officer by then and there repeatedly stabbing the latter
with a fan knife then grabbing his service firearm and shooting him, thereby inflicting
upon the said PO1 RANDY ADOVAS y PE-CAAT mortal stab and gunshot wounds which were
the direct and immediate cause of his death thereafter.

Asilan pleaded not guilty upon his arraignment[3] on April 10, 2006. Pre-Trial Conference
followed on April 26, 2006, where the counsels agreed to stipulate that Asilan, who was at that
time present in the RTC, was the same Asilan named in the Information, and that the victim,
Police Officer 1 (PO1) Randy Adovas y Pe-caat (Adovas), was a police officer in active duty at the
time of his death.[4] Trial on the merits ensued after the termination of the pre-trial conference.

Below is the prosecution’s version, as succinctly summarized by the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG) from the testimony of Joselito Binosa (Binosa)[5]:
In the evening of March 27, 2006, around 10:00 o’clock, Joselito Binosa, a jeepney
barker/carwash boy while chatting with his friends at the El Niño Bakery along Teresa Street,
Sta. Mesa, Manila, heard a gunshot nearby. He then went to the place where the sound came
and from where he was standing which was about three (3) to four (4) meters away, he saw a
uniformed policeman, who seemed to be arresting someone and ordering the latter to lay on the
ground.

The police officer pushed the man to the wall, poked the gun on him and was about to handcuff
the latter when another man, herein appellant Asilan arrived, drew something from his back and
stabbed the police officer on his back several times until the latter fell to the ground.

The man who was being arrested by the police officer held the latter’s hand while he was being
stabbed repeatedly by [Asilan]. The man who was being arrested then took the officer’s gun and
shot the latter with it.

The fellow barker of Joselito Binosa then threw stones at the malefactors who subsequently left
the place.

Joselito Binosa secretly followed [Asilan] and his companion who walked towards the railroad
track taking Teresa St., Sta. Mesa, Manila. [Asilan] entered an alley and thereafter returned to
the place of the incident. The other man walked on to the tracks.

At that moment, a policeman passed by and Binosa pointed [Asilan] to him. [Asilan] was
arrested and the knife which was used in the

stabbing was confiscated by the policeman. [6] (Citations omitted.)

The above narration of events was largely corroborated by Pol Justine San Diego (San Diego), a
student, who also witnessed the events that transpired on March 27, 2006. [7]

The prosecution also submitted as evidence Medico Legal Report No. M-219-06,[8] accomplished
and testified to by Dr. Vladimir V. Villaseñor. The pertinent portion of the Medico Legal Report
states:

SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:

Cadaver of Randy Pe-caat Adovas, 29 y/o male, married, a policeman, 167 cm in height and a
resident of 19 West Bank Road, Floodway, Rosario Pasig City.

PURPOSE OF LABORATORY EXAMINATION:

To determine the cause of death.

FINDINGS:

Body belongs to a fairly nourished, fairly developed male cadaver in rigor mortis with
postmortem lividity at the dependent portions of the body. Conjunctivae, lips and nailbeds are
pale. With exploratory laparotomy incision at the anterior abdominal wall, measuring 29 cm
long, along the anterior midline.

Trunk & Upper Extremity:

1) Stab wound, right axillary region, measuring 6 x 4 cm, 16 cm from the anterior midline.

2) Stab wound, right hypochondriac region, measuring 2.3 x 0.7 cm, 2cm right of the anterior
midline, 9 cm deep, directed posteriorwards, downwards & medialwards, lacerating the right lobe
of the liver.

-over-

CONCLUSION:

Cause of death is MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS & GUNSHOT WOUND OF THE TRUNK AND UPPER
EXTREMITIES.

Meanwhile, Asilan, in his Appellants’ Brief,[9] summed up his defense as follows:

On March 27, 2006, at around 10:00 o’clock p.m. JOSEPH ASILAN [Asilan] was on board a
passenger jeepney on his way to Mandaluyong. As he had to transfer to another jeepney,
[Asilan] alighted at Old Sta. Mesa and waited for a jeep bound for Pasig City. Suddenly, three
(3) motorcycles stopped in front of him, the passengers of which approached and frisked him.
He was thereafter brought to the police station and in a small room, he was forced to admit to
the stabbing of a police officer. Thereafter, he was brought to a nearby hospital and was
medically examined. Then he was again taken to the police station where he was confronted
with the knife which was allegedly used in stabbing PO1 Adovas. He was mauled for refusing to
confess to the stabbing of the said policeman. Afterwards, he was presented to alleged
eyewitnesses. However, the supposed eyewitnesses were not the ones presented by the
prosecution in court.[10]

The RTC convicted Asilan of Murder in its Decision[11] dated January 8, 2007, the dispositive
portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds the Prosecution to have failed to establish
and prove beyond reasonable doubt the offense of direct assault. Where a complex crime is
charged and the evidence fails to support the charge as to one of the component, the accused
can be convicted of the other (People v. Roma, 374 SCRA 457).

WHEREFORE, his guilt having been proven beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of murder
with the qualifying circumstance of treachery, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused
Joseph Asilan y Tabornal GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and is hereby
imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is hereby ordered to pay the heirs of PO1 Randy
Adovas y Pe-Caat the sum of P84,224.00 as actual damages, P25,000.00 for moral damages and
P50,000.00 civil indemnity.[12]

The RTC, in acquitting Asilan of Direct Assault, held that while it was confirmed that Adovas was
in his police uniform at the time of his death, the prosecution failed to establish convincingly that
he was in the performance of his duty when he was assaulted by Asilan. The RTC explained that
there was no evidence to show that Adovas was arresting somebody at the time Asilan stabbed
him.[13] The RTC added:

What the framers of the law wanted was to know the reason of the assault upon a person in
authority or his agents. The prosecution failed to show why the victim was pushing the man on
the wall or why he poked his gun at the latter. That the victim was assaulted while in the
performance of his duty or by reason thereof was not conclusively proven. [14]

In convicting Asilan of Murder, the RTC held that his defense of denial could not be “accorded
more weight than the categorical assertions of the witnesses who positively identified him as the
man who suddenly appeared from behind [Adovas] and stabbed the latter repeatedly.”[15]
Moreover, Asilan admitted that he was at the scene of the crime when he was arrested, that he
could not give any reason for the witnesses to falsely testify against him, and that he did not
know them.

Anent the aggravating circumstances, the RTC found that the killing of Adovas was proven to be
attended with treachery since Adovas was attacked from behind, depriving him of the
opportunity to defend himself.[16] However, the RTC declared that the aggravating circumstance
of evident premeditation “could not be appreciated x x x absent evidence that [Asilan] planned
or prepared to kill [Adovas] or of the time when the plot was conceived.”[17]

As to the damages, the RTC found the prosecution’s evidence, which consisted of Adovas’s wife’s
testimony, and the receipts of the expenses she incurred in Adovas’s hospitalization, wake, and
burial, sufficient to award moral and actual damages.

On January 19, 2007, Asilan appealed[18] his conviction to the Court of Appeals, mainly on the
ground that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. He subsequently
filed a Motion to Litigate as a Pauper, [19] which on February 28, 2007, was granted in an
Order[20] by the RTC.

On February 25, 2009, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision, affirming in toto the RTC’s
ruling.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated 08 January 2007 of the Court a
quo in Criminal Case No. 06-243060, finding Accused-Appellant JOSEPH ASILAN Y
TABORNAL guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder, is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.[21]

The Court of Appeals rejected Asilan’s arguments and averred that his denial and bare attempt
at exculpation by trying to destroy the credibility of the candid, categorical, and trustworthy
testimonies of the witnesses must fail.

Aggrieved, Asilan is now appealing[22] his case to this Court, with the same assignment of errors
he posited before the Court of Appeals:

ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED BY RELYING ON THE INCONSISTENT AND
UNNATURAL TESTIMONY OF THE ALLEGED EYEWITNESS.

II

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE
CRIME CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT.

III

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF


TREACHERY.[23]

Discussion

Asilan was convicted of the crime of Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code:
Art. 248. Murder. — Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill
another, shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death, if
committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:

1. With treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, with the aid of armed men, or
employing means to weaken the defense or of means or persons to insure or afford
impunity;

2. In consideration of a price, reward, or promise;

3. By means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, shipwreck, stranding of a vessel,


derailment or assault upon a railroad, fall of an airship, by means of motor vehicles, or
with the use of any other means involving great waste and ruin;

4. On occasion of any of the calamities enumerated in the preceding paragraph, or of an


earthquake, eruption of a volcano, destructive cyclone, epidemic, or any other public
calamity;

5. With evident premeditation;

6. With cruelty, by deliberately and inhumanly augmenting the suffering of the victim, or
outraging or scoffing at his person or corpse.

Asilan claims that the testimonies of the witnesses were not only filled with inconsistencies, they
were also incredible for being contrary to the common experience and observation that mankind
can approve as probable under the circumstance. [24]

Asilan insists that the testimony of Binosa should not be given credence as he was selective in
his recollection of the events. Asilan claimed that Binosa seemed to have recalled more details
on cross-examination, thus “improving” on the version he gave during his direct examination.
Asilan further claims that Binosa’s suggestion that Asilan returned to the scene of the crime after
he committed the alleged crime is very unlikely. Asilan avers that San Diego’s testimony was
likewise not credible as it was clearly only a more refined version of Binosa’s account of the
events. Moreover, Asilan says that San Diego’s testimony is too good to be true as he is unlikely
to have a detailed recollection of an event, which according to him happened within a span of
two minutes.[25]

Credibility of Witnesses

It is a well-settled rule that the assessment of the trial court regarding the credibility of
witnesses will generally not be disturbed on appeal. The rationale for this doctrine is that the
trial court is in a better position to decide the issue, as it heard the witnesses themselves and
observed their deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. [26] The only exceptions to
this rule are the following:

1. When patent inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses are ignored by the trial court;
or
2. When the conclusions arrived at are clearly unsupported by the evidence. [27]

This Court sees no reason to apply the above exceptions and disturb the findings of the RTC,
which were affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

Our perusal of the records showed that the RTC was vigilant in its duty to ascertain the truth.
The RTC itself propounded clarificatory questions to Binosa and San Diego while they were
testifying. At the end of the trial, the RTC found these witnesses credible, and believed their
eyewitness accounts because they were categorical in their identification of Asilan as one of
Adovas’s assailants. The RTC also pointed out that it could not find any dubious reason for
Binosa and San Diego to falsely implicate Asilan in a heinous crime. [28]

Alleged Inconsistencies

The alleged inconsistency in Binosa’s testimony does not render his testimony fictitious. The fact
that he was able to provide more details of the events only during cross-examination is not
unusual, and on the contrary tends to buttress, rather than weaken, his credibility, since it shows
that he was neither coached nor were his answers contrived. [29] After all, “[w]itnesses are not
expected to remember every single detail of an incident with perfect or total recall.” [30]

As for San Diego’s testimony, it is not unnatural for him to have a detailed recollection of the
incident. “Different persons have different reactions to similar situations. There is no typical
reaction to a sudden occurrence.”[31] It is worthy to note that San Diego was only sixteen years
old when he witnessed the stabbing of Adovas. It was his first time to witness a person being
stabbed right before his very eyes. He testified that three months after that night, the events
were still vividly imprinted in his mind. [32] It is thus not improbable that he could, with certainty,
identify Asilan as the man who stabbed Adovas that fateful night.

Likewise, our scrutiny of the so-called inconsistencies relied upon by Asilan showed that they
only referred to minor details, which did not affect the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses.[33] In People v. Albarido,[34] this Court said:

It is elementary in the rule of evidence that inconsistencies in the testimonies of prosecution


witnesses with respect to minor details and collateral matters do not affect the substance of their
declaration nor the veracity or weight of their testimony. In fact, these minor inconsistencies
enhance the credibility of the witnesses, for they remove any suspicion that their testimonies
were contrived or rehearsed. In People vs. Maglente, this Court ruled that inconsistencies in
details which are irrelevant to the elements of the crime are not grounds for acquittal. x x x. [35]

Credibility of the evidence

Asilan further asseverates that it is perplexing how none of the witnesses, who were present
during the incident, warned Adovas of the impending danger to his life. He contends that “for
evidence to be believed, it must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness, but must
be credible in itself such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as
probable under the circumstance.”[36]

This Court would like to reiterate that no standard form of behavior is expected of an individual
who witnesses something shocking or gruesome like murder. This is especially true when the
assailant is near. It is not unusual that some people would feel reluctant in getting involved in a
criminal incident.[37]

In the same manner, it is also not surprising that Asilan returned to the scene of the crime after
stabbing Adovas. His “failure to flee and the apparent normalcy of his behavior subsequent to
the commission of the crime do not imply his innocence.”[38] This Court, elucidating on this
point, declared:

Flight is indicative of guilt, but its converse is not necessarily true. Culprits behave differently
and even erratically in externalizing and manifesting their guilt. Some may escape or flee -- a
circumstance strongly illustrative of guilt -- while others may remain in the same vicinity so as to
create a semblance of regularity, thereby avoiding suspicion from other members of the
community.[39]
Defense of Denial

Unfortunately, Asilan’s bare denial, when juxtaposed with the prosecution witnesses’ positive
declarations, is not worthy of credence. Denial, which is the usual refuge of offenders, is an
inherently weak defense, and must be buttressed by other persuasive evidence of non-culpability
to merit credibility. The defense of denial fails even more when the assailant, as in this case,
was positively identified by credible witnesses, against whom no ulterior motive could be
ascribed.[40]

Asilan not only admitted that he was at the scene of the crime when he was arrested by the
police authorities, he also admitted that he did not know any of the prosecution witnesses prior
to his trial. Moreover, he had filed no case against the police officers whom he accused of
mauling him to make him admit to the stabbing of Adovas. Asilan’s “self-serving statements
deserve no weight in law and cannot be given greater evidentiary value over the testimony of
the witnesses who testified on positive points.”[41]

Qualifying Circumstance of Treachery

Asilan pleads that treachery cannot be appreciated in the present case as the prosecution failed
to establish that he had consciously or deliberately adopted or chosen the mode of attack
employed upon Adovas to deprive him of an opportunity to defend himself or retaliate. Asilan
argues that mere suddenness of the attack is not enough to constitute treachery. He further
posits that while it may be true that he allegedly came from behind, the “mode of attack could
have occurred in a spur of the moment.”[42]

The RTC correctly appreciated the qualifying circumstance of treachery in the killing of Adovas.

The prosecution was able to sufficiently establish the attendance of treachery in the case at bar.
“It is basic in our penal law that treachery is present when the offender employs means,
methods or forms which tend directly and especially to insure the execution of the crime, without
risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.”[43] In People v.
Tan,[44] this Court expounded on the concept of treachery as follows:

The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack, without the slightest provocation
on the part of the person attacked. Treachery is present when the offender commits any of the
crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof, which
tend directly and especially to insure its execution, without risk arising from the defense which
the offended party might make. In the case at bar, the attack on Magdalino Olos was
treacherous, because he was caught off guard and was therefore unable to defend himself, as
testified to by the prosecution witnesses and as indicated by the wounds inflicted on him. [45]

Both eyewitnesses testified on how Asilan attacked Adovas from behind. Adovas could not have
defended himself because Asilan stabbed him at his back repeatedly sans provocation or
warning. The deciding factor is that Asilan’s execution of his attack made it impossible for
Adovas to defend himself or retaliate.[46]

Sufficiency of the Information

Asilan also claims that his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and cause of
accusation against him was infringed when he was convicted for Murder, since the manner by
which he carried out the killing with the qualifying circumstance of treachery was not alleged in
the Information against him. Thus, he asserts, he was effectively only charged with Homicide.[47]

This Court does not find merit in Asilan’s contention that he cannot be convicted of murder
because his acts of treachery were not alleged with specificity in the Information. Section 6,
Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure states:

Sec. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. – A complaint or information is sufficient if it


states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense by the statute; the acts or
omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the
approximate time of the commission of the offense; and the place wherein the offense was
committed.

When the offense is committed by more than one person, all of them shall be included in the
complaint or information.

This Court held that “[u]nder Section 6, the Information is sufficient if it contains the full name of
the accused, the designation of the offense given by the statute, the acts or omissions
constituting the offense, the name of the offended party, the approximate date, and the place of
the offense.”[48] The Information herein complied with these conditions. Contrary to Asilan’s
contention, the qualifying circumstance of “treachery” was specifically alleged in the
Information. “The rule is that qualifying circumstances must be properly pleaded in the
Information in order not to violate the accused’s constitutional right to be properly informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him.”[49] Asilan never claimed that he was
deprived of his right to be fully apprised of the nature of the charges against him due to the
insufficiency of the Information.

This Court completely agrees with the Court of Appeals’ pronouncement that “since treachery
was correctly alleged in the Information and duly established by the prosecution, x x x [Asilan]’s
conviction for the crime of murder is proper.”[50]

In any case, it is now too late for Asilan to assail the sufficiency of the Information on the ground
that there was failure to specifically allege therein how treachery was carried out. Section 9,
Rule 117 of the Rules of Court provides:

SEC. 9. Failure to move to quash or to allege any ground therefor.- The failure of the accused to
assert any ground of a motion to quash before he pleads to the complaint or information, either
because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion, shall be
deemed a waiver of any objections except those based on the grounds provided for in
paragraphs (a), (b), (g), and (i) of section 3 of this Rule.

Moreover, in People v. Candaza,[51] this Court held that “[a]n Information which lacks essential
allegations may still sustain a conviction when the accused fails to object to its sufficiency during
the trial, and the deficiency was cured by competent evidence presented therein.”[52] In this
case, Asilan not only failed to question the sufficiency of the Information at any time during the
pendency of his case before the RTC, he also allowed the prosecution to present evidence,
proving the elements of treachery in the commission of the offense. Asilan is thus deemed to
have waived any objections against the sufficiency of the Information. [53]

Pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence,[54] this Court is increasing the award of civil indemnity from
Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) to Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00), and the moral
damages from Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00).
Moreover, in view of the presence of the qualifying circumstance of treachery, an additional
award of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00), as exemplary damages, in accordance with Article
2230 of the Civil Code,[55] should be awarded to the heirs of Adovas.[56]

As to actual damages, Adovas’s widow, Irene Adovas, presented the receipts showing that she
paid P25,224.00 to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Inc., as hospital expenses, [57] P35,000.00 to
Marulas Memorial Homes,[58] and P20,000.00 to Funeraria Saranay as funeral expenses, [59] or a
total of P80,224.00.
Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals failed to consider that under Article 2206 of the Civil
Code, Asilan is also liable for the loss of the earning capacity of Adovas, and such indemnity
should be paid to his heirs[60]:

Art. 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least
three thousand pesos, even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition:

(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the
indemnity shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed
and awarded by the court, unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability not
caused by the defendant, had no earning capacity at the time of his death;

Irene Adovas testified[61] on the amount her husband received as police officer and presented
documentary evidence to show that Adovas, who was only 29 years old when he died, [62]
earned P8,605.00 a month[63] at the time of his death.

The following are the factors in computing the amount of damages recoverable for the loss of
earning capacity of the deceased:

1) The number of years on the basis of which the damages shall be computed. This is based on
the formula (2/3 x 80 – age of the deceased at the time of his death = life expectancy), which is
adopted from the American Expectancy Table of Mortality; and

2) The rate at which the losses sustained by the heirs of the deceased should be fixed. [64]

Net income is arrived at by deducting the amount of the victim’s living expenses from the
amount of his gross income.[65] The loss of earning capacity of Asilan is thus computed as
follows:cralaw

Net Earning Capacity = life expectancy x [gross annual income – living expenses][66]
= 2/3 [80-age at time of death] x [gross annual income – 50% of gross annual income]
= 2/3 [80-29] x [P103,260.00 – P51,630.00]
= 34 x P51,630.00
= P1,755,420.00

WHEREFORE, the decision dated February 25, 2009 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C.
No. 02686 is hereby AFFIRMED insofar as it found accused-appellant Joseph Asilan y Tabornal
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of MURDER and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua, with MODIFICATION as to the damages. Asilan is hereby ordered to indemnify the
heirs of Randy Adovas y Pe-caat the following: (a) P75,000.00 as civil indemnity; (b) P50,000.00
as moral damages; (c) P30,000.00 as exemplary damages; (d) P80,224.00 as actual damages;
(e) P1,755,420.00 as loss of earning capacity; and (f) interest on all damages awarded at the
rate of 6% per annum from the date of finality of this judgment.

SO ORDERED.

Corona, C.J., (Chairperson), Bersamin, Del Castillo, and Perez,* JJ., concur.

Endnotes:

G.R. No. 167955 September 30, 2009


(Formerly G.R. No. 151275)
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
vs.
ARMANDO PADILLA y NICOLAS, Appellant.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

For review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated February 23, 2005 in
CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00571 which affirmed, with modification, the Decision of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 15, in Criminal Case No.
166-M-96,2 finding appellant Armando Padilla y Nicolas guilty 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 damages from ₱50,000.00 to ₱25,000.00. In addition,
the CA awarded moral damages in the amount of ₱50,000.00.

Consistent with the Court's decision in People v. Cabalquinto,3 the real name of the
rape victim in this 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 well as those of her
immediate family or household members, are not disclosed in this decision.

The facts of the case, as established by the prosecution, are as follows:

Around 9 o'clock in the evening of February 22, 1994, AAA was inside their house
located at Marilao, Bulacan.4With her were her father, herein appellant, her two older
brothers and her sister BBB.5 She was then staying in one of the rooms because
she was suffering from asthma and was taking medicine through the help of her
sister, BBB.6On the other hand, her brothers were already asleep in another
room.7 After AAA took her medicine, appellant told BBB to sleep outside the room
where AAA was staying.8 When BBB went outside, appellant turned off the light and
proceeded to their kitchen.9 Thereafter, appellant returned to the room where AAA
was staying.10 He then took off AAA's 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 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 against appellant's advances that she
called on her sister for help.18 Thereafter, she felt something 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 and saw them.21 Appellant immediately gathered his clothes and
went to the comfort room.22Thereafter, AAA cried while BBB handed her clothes to
her.23 They then slept beside each other.24

AAA did not complain nor tell her brothers about her ordeal because she was afraid
as she was threatened by appellant that he will hurt them and burn their house if she
relates the incident to them.25 It was only in October 1995 that she was able to tell
her aunt about her experience in the 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

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:

That on or about the 22nd day of February, 1994 in the Municipality of Marilao,
province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously,
with lewd designs have carnal knowledge of said AAA, a minor who is 11 years old,
against her will.

All contrary to law with an aggravating circumstance that the accused is the
legitimate father of AAA.29

On arraignment, appellant pleaded not guilty.30 Pre-trial conference


followed.31 Thereafter, trial ensued.

On November 5, 2001, the RTC rendered its Decision,32 the dispositive portion of
which is as follows:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Armando Padilla y Nicolas GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt 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 capital penalty
of DEATH.

The accused is likewise ordered to indemnify the offended party AAA damages in
the amount of ₱100,000.00 and to pay exemplary damages in the amount of
₱50,000.00 to deter other sex perverts from sexually assaulting hapless and
innocent girls especially their kin.

In passing, Justice Vicente Abad Santos once remarked – there should be a special
place in hell for child molesters. The accused deserves a deeper pit because the
child he molested was his own daughter. More than anyone else, it was he to whom
the child would have looked up for
the protection of her chastity. He cynically betrayed that faith with his unnatural
lechery.

SO ORDERED.33

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 Muntinlupa.

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 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

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:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed judgment dated November 5,


2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 15 in Criminal Case
No. 166-M-96 finding Armando Padilla y 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 civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary
damages.

In accordance with A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC which took effect on October 15, 2004,
amending Section 13, Rule 124 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, let the
entire records of this case be elevated to the Supreme Court for review.

Costs against the accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.37

The case was then elevated to this Court for review.

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 filing their supplemental briefs as their positions in the
present case had been thoroughly expounded in their respective appeal briefs which
were forwarded to the CA. Thereafter, the case was deemed submitted for
deliberation.

Appellant assigned the following assignment of errors in his Brief:


APPLYING THE PRUNA GUIDELINES, THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN
IMPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY ON ACCUSED-APPELLANT CONSIDERING
THE PROSECUTION’S FAILURE TO SUFFICIENTLY PROVE THE MINORITY OF
THE COMPLAINANT AND HER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ACCUSED.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTION


HAD PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT ACCUSED-APPELLANT’S GUILT
FOR QUALIFIED RAPE.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN AWARDING DAMAGES TO THE


PRIVATE COMPLAINANT.39

As to the first assigned error, appellant avers that the death penalty may not be
imposed because the qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship were not
properly alleged and proved by the prosecution.

The Court agrees in part.

The first issue is whether or not the qualifying circumstances of minority and
relationship were properly alleged by the prosecution.

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 asseveration, it does not matter that the private
complainant's relationship with the accused was denominated as an "aggravating
circumstance" and not as a "special qualifying circumstance."

The Court has repeatedly held, even after the amendments to the Rules of Criminal
Procedure took 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 where the twin
circumstances of minority and relationship have been specifically alleged in the
Information even without the use of the descriptive words "qualifying" or "qualified
by."42 In the instant 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 (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 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 of the
offense and a statement of the acts constituting the offense as required in Sections
844 and 945 of Rule 110, are sufficient to warn appellant that the crime charged is
qualified rape punishable by death.
In the present case, the attendant circumstances of minority and relationship were
specifically alleged in the Information. These allegations are sufficient to qualify the
offense of rape.

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.

As to AAA’s relationship with appellant, the Court agrees that the prosecution was
able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. The Information alleged that appellant is
the father of AAA. Appellant, in turn, admitted during trial that AAA is her
daughter.46 Under prevailing jurisprudence, admission in open court of relationship
has been held to be sufficient and, hence, conclusive to prove relationship with the
victim.47

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 of denial by appellant.48 The victim's original
or duly certified birth certificate, baptismal certificate or school records would suffice
as competent evidence of her age.49 In the instant case, aside from the testimonies
of prosecution witnesses, coupled with appellant's absence of denial, no
independent substantial evidence was presented to prove the age of AAA. Neither
was it shown by the prosecution that the said documents had been lost, destroyed,
unavailable or were otherwise totally absent.

Anent appellant’s failure to object to the testimony of AAA, regarding her age, the
Court has held that the failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence
regarding the rape victim’s age shall not 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.
Biong,51 the appellant testified as to the exact date when her daughter, the
complainant, was born. 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 increases the penalty thereof, it
must be proved with equal certainty and clearness as the crime itself.52 In the
present case, the Court agrees with appellant that the prosecution failed to
discharge this burden.

Coming to the second assigned error, appellant questions the credibility of the
victim, AAA, arguing that his constitutional right to be presumed innocent should
take precedence over the unfounded claim of AAA that he raped her.

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 accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more
difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) considering that in the
nature of things, only two persons are usually involved in the crime of rape, the
testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution; and (3) the
evidence for the 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

Accordingly, in resolving rape cases, primordial consideration is given to the


credibility of the victim's testimony.54The settled rule is that the trial court’s
conclusions on the credibility of witnesses in rape cases are generally accorded
great weight and respect, and at times even finality, unless there appear 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

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 court on such matters are binding and
conclusive on the appellate court, unless some facts or circumstances of weight and
substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misinterpreted. 57 No such
facts or circumstances exist in the present case.

In this case, both the RTC and the CA are in agreement that AAA’s account of her
ordeal in the hands of her father was categorical and straightforward.

Appellant contends that AAA had a grudge against him and, aside from that, she
was influenced and even instigated by her aunt, Elena Manahan, to file the
complaint against appellant because of the bitterness that Elena feels towards him.
According to the appellant, this bitterness was brought about by a misunderstanding
between him and Elena involving money entrusted to the latter by his wife which
was supposed to be used for the construction of apartments. 58 However, appellant's
claim 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 influenced by her aunt who
harbors resentment against him. No woman would cry rape, allow an examination of

her private parts, subject herself to humiliation, go through the rigors of public trial
and taint her good name if her claim were not true.59

Thus, the unfounded claim of evil motive on the part of the victim would not destroy
the credibility reposed upon her by the RTC and the CA because, as the Court has
held, a rape victim’s testimony is entitled to greater weight when she accuses a
close relative of having raped her, as in the case of a daughter against her father. 60 1 avvphi 1

Moreover, appellant's rape of private complainant was corroborated by no less than


the latter's sister who is also a daughter of appellant. The rule is that where there is
no evidence that the witness for the prosecution was actuated by improper motive,
the presumption is that he was not so actuated and his testimony is entitled to full
credence.61

In addition, AAA’s subsequent acts of disclosing and complaining about her


molestation to her aunt and the authorities and taking immediate steps to subject
herself to medical examination represent conduct consistent with her
straightforward, logical and probable testimony that she was in fact raped by
appellant. They represent strong and compelling factors that enhance complainant’s
credibility as a witness.

Against the overwhelming evidence of the prosecution, appellant merely interposed


the defense of denial. Categorical and consistent positive identification, absent any
showing of ill-motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter, prevails
over the defense of denial.62 In the present case, there is no showing of any
improper motive on the part of the victim to testify falsely against the appellant or 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.

The prevailing law at the time the crime was committed in 1994 was still Article 335
of the RPC as amended by Section 11 of RA 7659, the first paragraph of which
provides as follows:

When and how rape is committed. - Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge
of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

1. By using force or intimidation;

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and

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 qualifying or generic, an award
of ₱30,000.00 as exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the New Civil
Code.65

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated February 23,
2005 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. 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 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.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 160619, September 09, 2015

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. SANDIGANBAYAN (FOURTH DIVISION),


JESSIE CASTILLO, MELENCIO ARCIAGA AND EMERENCIANO ARCIAGA, Respondents.

DECISION

JARDELEZA, J.:
The purpose of an Information is to afford an accused his right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him. It is in pursuit of this purpose that the Rules of Court
require that the Information allege the ultimate facts constituting the elements of the crime
charged. Details that do not go into the core of the crime need not be included in the
Information, but may be presented during trial. The rule that evidence must be presented to
establish the existence of the elements of a crime to the point of moral certainty is only for
purposes of conviction. It finds no application in the determination of whether or not an
Information is sufficient to warrant the trial of an accused.

The Case

Before us is a petition under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court filed by the People of the Philippines
("the People") through the Office of the Special Prosecutor under the Office of the Ombudsman.
The petition seeks the reversal of the Resolutions dated January 9, 20021 and November 3,
20032 issued by public respondent Sandiganbayan, granting private respondent Jessie B.
Castillo's Supplemental Motion to Dismiss the Information filed against him and denying the
People's subsequent Motion for Reconsideration, respectively.

The Facts

Jessie B. Castillo (Castillo) was elected mayor of the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite in the May
1998 elections. On September 19, 2000, an Information was filed against Castillo charging him
with violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019, 3 in relation to the alleged illegal
operation of the Villa Esperanza dumpsite located in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite. According to
the Information, Castillo, while in the performance of his official functions as Mayor of Bacoor,
gave unwarranted benefits to his co-accused Melencio and Emerenciano Arciaga by allowing the
latter to operate the Villa Esperanza dumpsite without the requisite Environmental Compliance
Certificate (ECC) and permit from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).4

An administrative complaint for Simple Misconduct had previously been filed against Castillo also
in relation to the illegal operation of the dumpsite. The Office of the Ombudsman found Castillo
guilty of the administrative charge and imposed the penalty of one (1) month and one (1) day
suspension. On appeal, the Court of Appeals set aside the decision of the Office of the
Ombudsman and ordered the dismissal of the administrative complaint against Castillo. 5 The
Court of Appeals held:
Xxx [Castillo] did not violate the DENR notice which was issued way back in 1998 yet, or before
his actual assumption of office. Quite the contrary, while already a mayor, [Castillo], upon being
informed of the notice, immediately took steps in resolving the municipality's aged-long garbage
problem. True, the solution was a long-term one, but the end results were just the same, i.e.,
what was once a mountainous pile of trash covering a 2-hectare piece of property has been
remarkably reduced and what was left was a considerable area used as a segregation and
transfer station of garbage prior to their eventual dumping at the San Mateo landfill.

Doubtless, in finding [Castillo] guilty of simple misconduct and penalizing him therefor, the
respondent Office of the Ombudsman, in clear abuse of discretion, ignored and did not take into
account the foregoing reports, including no less the letter of commendation of [DENR] Secretary
Cerilles.

It is thus unfortunate that even as [Castillo] had taken concrete steps to address a problem that
was not of his own doing or tolerance but merely inherited by him, he was instead rewarded by
an administrative penalty even as the very government agency (DENR) which issued the Notice
of Violation commended him for his efforts. If this is not a travesty of justice, then We know not
what it is.6
After arraignment and pre-trial, Castillo, on August 21, 2001, filed with the Sandiganbayan a
Motion to Dismiss or Terminate Proceedings.7 He argued that the case against him had been
decriminalized by Section 37 of Republic Act No. 90038 and invoked the decision of the Court of
Appeals absolving him of administrative liability. His motion was initially denied by the
Sandiganbayan in a Resolution dated September 6, 2001.9

On September 21, 2001, Castillo filed a Supplemental Motion to Quash the Information on the
ground that the same does not charge an offense.10 He claimed that a public officer may only be
held liable for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 if he caused undue injury to the
government or any private person. Thus, Castillo argued that the undue injury must not only be
mentioned in the Information, its extent must be specified. Invoking the ruling of this Court
in Llorente, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan,11 Castillo asserted that the claim of undue injury must be
"specified, quantified and proven to the point of moral certainty."

The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division failed to decide unanimously on the Supplemental Motion.
Thus, a special division (composed of five Justices of the Sandiganbayan) was
constituted.12 Voting 3 to 2,13 this Special Division, in its challenged Resolution dated January 9,
2002, granted Castillo's Supplemental Motion:
Going over the elements of the crime vis-a-vis the allegations of the information, the court
agrees with the contention of movant that the allegations of the information fail to measure up
to the requirements of the law. While the information charges Castillo with violation of Section
3[e] of R.A. 3019 for "giving unwarranted benefits to his co-accused Melencio and Emerenciano
Arciaga, by allowing the operation of the dumpsite at Villa Esperanza, Molino, Bacoor, Cavite"
and "thereby causing undue injury to the residents and students in the area who had to endure
the stench, flies, rats and mosquitoes emanating from the dumpsite" the court notes the
failure of the information to quantify the alleged unwarranted benefits supposedly
given by movant to his co-accused as well as the undue injury caused to the residents
and students of the area affected by the dumpsite.

In the case of Alejandro vs. People, the Supreme Court had ruled that undue injury requires
proof of actual injury or damage. Thus, in Llorente, it was held that undue injury in Sec. 3[e]
cannot be presumed even after a wrong or a violation of a right has been established. Its
existence must be proven as one of the elements of the crime. In fact, the causing of undue
injury or the giving of unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference through manifest partiality,
evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence constitutes the very act punished under this
section. Thus, it is required that the undue injury be specified, quantified and proven to
the point of moral certainty.

Anent the allegation of unwarranted benefits given to the Arciagas, the court likewise notes the
failure of the information to specify and quantify the same. Whereas the Ombudsman's
resolution finding prima facie evidence against the herein accused made mention of
the amount of P250.00 to P300.00 allegedly collected from each garbage truck from
companies and factories allowed to dump garbage at the Villa Esperanza dumpsite, the
same was not alleged in the information which charged Castillo with having given
unwarranted benefits to his co-accused.14 (Emphasis supplied.)
The Special Division15 also resolved, on November 3, 2003, to deny the motion for
reconsideration subsequently filed by the People.

Hence, this petition.

The Issue

The case before us raises the question of what ultimate facts are required to be stated in an
Information charging an accused with violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019. Specifically, we
are called to resolve whether an Information alleging the grant of unwarranted benefits and
existence of undue injury must state the precise amount of the alleged benefit unduly granted as
well as identify, specify, and prove the alleged injury to the point of moral certainty.

Ruling of the Court


The petition is meritorious.

The main purpose of an Information is to ensure that an accused is formally informed of the facts
and the acts constituting the offense charged. 16 Where insufficient, an accused in a criminal case
can file a motion to have the Information against him quashed and/or dismissed before he enters
his plea.17 A motion to quash challenges the efficacy of an Information18 and compels the court
to determine whether the Information suffices to require an accused to endure the rigors of a
trial. Where the Information is insufficient and thus cannot be the basis of any valid conviction,
the court must drop the case immediately and save an accused from the anxiety and
convenience of a useless trial.19

A motion to quash an Information on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an
offense should be resolved on the basis of the allegations in the Information whose truth and
veracity are hypothetically admitted.20 The question that must be answered is whether such
allegations are sufficient to establish the elements of the crime charged without considering
matters aliunde.21 In proceeding to resolve this issue, courts must look into three matters: (1)
what must be alleged in a valid Information; (2) what the elements of the crime charged are;
and (3) whether these elements are sufficiently stated in the Information.

Sufficiency of Complaint or Information

Sections 6 and 9 of Rule 110 of the Rules of Court are relevant. They state -
Sec. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. - A complaint or information is sufficient if it
states the name of the accused; the designation of the offense given by the statute; the acts or
omissions complained of as constituting the offense; the name of the offended party; the
approximate date of the commission of the offense; and the place where the offense was
committed.

When an offense is committed by more than one person, all of them shall be included in the
complaint or information.

xxx

Sec. 9. Cause of the accusation. - The acts or omissions complained of as constituting the
offense and the qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be stated in ordinary and concise
language and not necessarily in the language used in the statute but in terms sufficient to
enable a person of common understanding to know what offense is being charged as
well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstances and for the court to pronounce
judgment.

(Emphasis supplied.)
This Court, in Lazarte v. Sandiganbayan22 explained the two important purposes underlying the
rule. First, it enables the accused to suitably prepare his defense. 23 Second, it allows the
accused, if found guilty, to plead his conviction in a subsequent prosecution for the same
offense.24 Thus, this Court held that the true test in ascertaining the validity and sufficiency of an
Information is "whether the crime is described in intelligible terms with such particularity as to
apprise the accused, with reasonable certainty, of the offense charged."25 cralawred

Castillo is charged with violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, the elements of which are as
follows:

1. The accused must be a public officer discharging administrative, judicial or official


functions; Ch an Rob lesVirt u alawlib rary
2. He must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence; and

3. That his action caused any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving
any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his
functions.26

The subject Information filed against Castillo, on the other hand, reads to wit:
That in or about 1998, or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Bacoor,
Province of Cavite, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused
Jessie B. Castillo, a public officer, being the incumbent Mayor of Bacoor, Cavite, while in the
performance of his official and administrative function, acting in evident bad faith and
manifest partiality, conspiring and confederating with accused Melencio A. Arciaga and
Emerenciano A. Arciaga, caretakers of Villa Esperanza, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully
and criminally give unwarranted benefits to his co-accused Melencio A. Arciaga and
Emerenciano A. Arciaga, by allowing the operation of the dump site located at Villa
Esperanza, Molino, Bacoor, Cavite, notwithstanding the fact that no Environmental
Compliance Certificate (ECC) or any permit has been issued by the Environmental
Management Bureau (EMB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources to any
person or entity for such purpose, and despite cease and desist orders issued by the DENR,
thereby causing undue injury to the residents and students in the area who had to endure the
stench, Hies, rats and mosquitoes emanating from the dumpsite.27 (Emphasis supplied.)
Information filed against Castillo and his co-accused is sufficient

We find that the foregoing Information sufficiently alleges the essential elements of a violation of
Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019. The Information specifically alleged that Castillo is the Mayor of
Bacoor, Cavite who, in such official capacity, with evident bad faith and manifest partiality, and
conspiring with the Arciagas, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally gave unwarranted benefits to the
latter, by allowing the illegal operation of the Villa Esperanza dumpsite, to the undue injury of
the residents and students in the area who had to endure the ill-effects of the dumpsite's
operation.

The Sandiganbayan, however, allowed the quashal of the Information due to the prosecution's
failure to (1) allege, with precision, the exact amount of benefits granted by Castillo to the
Arciagas and (2) specify, quantify and prove "to the point of moral certainty" the undue injury
caused to the people of Molino. According to the Sandiganbayan:
xxx the court deems it to be an exercise in futility to proceed to trial when the information that
was filed failed to inform the accused of the quantity of injury caused by Castillo to the residents
of Villa Esperanza and the amount of unwarranted benefits given to the Arciagas as a result of
the operation of the dumpsite. Such failure is fatal to the prosecution's cause considering
that the public prosecutor is barred from presenting evidence on a matter not alleged
in the information. Otherwise, if the prosecution would be allowed to present evidence to
quantify the element of undue injury or unwarranted benefits, the same would violate the
right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against
him.28 (Emphasis supplied.)
We disagree.

For as long as the ultimate facts constituting the offense have been alleged, an Information
charging a violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 need not state, to the point of specificity,
the exact amount of unwarranted benefit granted nor specify, quantify or prove, to the point of
moral certainty, the undue injury caused. We have consistently and repeatedly held in a number
of cases that an Information need only state the ultimate facts constituting the offense and not
the finer details of why and how the crime was committed. 29

As alleged in the Information, the unwarranted benefit was the privilege granted by Castillo to
the Arciagas to operate the dumpsite without the need to comply with the applicable laws, rules,
and regulations; the undue injury being residents and students were made to endure the ill-
effects of the illegal operation. The details required by the Sandiganbayan (such as
the specific peso amount actually received by the Arciagas as a consequence of the illegal
operation of the subject dumpsite or the specific extent of damage caused to the residents and
students) are matters of evidence best raised during the trial; they need not be stated in the
Information. For purposes of informing the accused of the crime charged, the allegation on the
existence of unwarranted benefits and undue injury under the Information suffices.

Moreover, the rationale for the ultimate facts requirement becomes clearer when one considers
the period when a motion to quash is filed, that is, before the accused's arraignment and the
parties' presentation of their evidence. It would be illogical, if not procedurally infirm, to require
specific peso amount allegations of the unwarranted benefit and proof of undue injury - to the
point of moral certainty, no less — at this stage of the criminal proceedings.

Application of Llorente ruling is misplaced

The Sandiganbayan's application of the Llorente ruling in this case is misplaced.

Indeed, this Court held in Llorente that the "undue injury must be specified, quantified and
proven to the point of moral certainty."30 The validity and sufficiency of the Information,
however, was not an issue in Llorente. The import of the ruling therein is that proof of undue
injury must be established by the prosecution during the trial and not when the Information is
filed. Nowhere in Llorente did we require that undue injury be specified, quantified and proved to
the point of moral certainty at the time of the filing of the Information. Such an interpretation
would effectively require the prosecution to include all the relevant evidence in the Information
and to present such evidence of undue injury even prior to arraignment. Moreover, under the
Sandiganbayan's interpretation of Llorente, the accused would be required to face (and even
rebut) the evidence as soon as the Information is filed and even before he pleads. This runs
counter to the function of a motion to quash as a remedy afforded an accused before he
proceeds to trial.

Further, such an interpretation would undermine the value of the Information as a tool for an
accused to understand the crime for which he is being charged as it requires that the Information
already contain a long and detailed list of other matters not necessary in informing the accused
of the charge. It will also be prejudicial to the prosecution who will then be forced to present
evidence even before the trial proper. This interpretation cannot be countenanced.

Outright quashal of the Information not proper

Even assuming for the sake of argument that the Information was defective on the ground that
the facts charged therein do not constitute an offense, outright quashal of the Information is not
the proper course of action.

Section 4, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court gives clear guidance on this matter. It provides -
Sec. 4. Amendment of complaint or information. - If the motion to quash is based on an alleged
defect of the complaint or information which can be cured by amendment, the court shall order
that an amendment be made.

If it is based on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, the
prosecution shall be given by the court an opportunity to correct the defect by
amendment. The motion shall be granted if the prosecution fails to make the amendment, or
the complaint or information still suffers from the same defect despite the amendment.
(Emphasis supplied.)
When a motion to quash is filed challenging the validity and sufficiency of an Information, and
the defect may be cured by amendment, courts must deny the motion to quash and order the
prosecution to file an amended Information.31 Generally, a defect pertaining to the failure of an
Information to charge facts constituting an offense is one that may be corrected by an
amendment.32 In such instances, courts are mandated not to automatically quash the
Information; rather, it should grant the prosecution the opportunity to cure the defect through
an amendment.33 This rule allows a case to proceed without undue delay. By allowing the defect
to be cured by simple amendment, unnecessary appeals based on technical grounds, which only
result to prolonging the proceedings, are avoided.

More than this practical consideration, however, is the due process underpinnings of this rule. As
explained by this Court in People v. Andrade,34 the State, just like any other litigant, is entitled
to its day in court. Thus, a court's refusal to grant the prosecution the opportunity to amend an
Information, where such right is expressly granted under the Rules of Court and affirmed time
and again in a string of Supreme Court decisions, effectively curtails the State's right to due
process.

Hence, even assuming that the Information was defective, the Sandiganbayan should have first
ordered its amendment and not its quashal. Doing so would have saved the parties from
resorting to an appeal to this Court and this case from remaining in the docket of the
Sandiganbayan for a long period.

WHEREFORE, and in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The
Sandiganbayan's Resolutions dated January 9, 2002 and November 3, 2003 are REVERSED and
the Information charging Castillo and the Arciagas with violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019
is ordered REINSTATED. As this case has been pending for almost fifteen years, the
Sandiganbayan is directed to resolve the case with dispatch.

SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 205760, November 09, 2015

FRANCISCO T. INOCENCIO, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

REYES, J.:

The instant Petition for Review on Certiorari1 assails the Decision2 and Resolution3 of the Court of
Appeals (CA), dated September 20, 2012 and February 13, 2013, respectively, in CA-G.R. CR
No. 30621, which modified the Joint Decision4 rendered on March 25, 2006 by the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City, Branch 214, convicting Francisco T. Inocencio (petitioner) of
two counts of Theft.

Antecedent Facts

As summed up by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the prosecution's version of the facts
is as follows:
ch an Rob lesvirt u alLa wlib rary

Petitioner was an employee of the then Far East Bank and Trust Company (FEBTC) from April
1978 to August 1998. Petitioner's last position therein was manager of the Automated feller
Machine (ATM) Services Department Cash Management Division. As manager of said division,
petitioner had control, possession, and custody of bank money amounting up to One Hundred
Million Pesos. As an FEBTC employee, petitioner had an FEBTC payroll/ATM account. Through his
ATM card and its Personalized Identification Number known only to him, petitioner could inquire
about his balance, transfer money to and from his ATM account, and pay his bills.

Sometime in 1998, Liza Sarao (Sarao), an audit officer at FEBTC's Boni Avenue [Mandaluyong
City] branch, conducted a special audit on said branch to investigate reported anomalous
transactions performed by petitioner and the branch trade officer, Ma. Milagros T. Clemente
(Clemente).

Sarao alleged, inter alia, that: (1) on February 9, 1994, Clemente fraudulently credited the
amount of One Million One Hundred Fifty Thousand Six Hundred Thirty-Four Pesos and Seventy-
Four Centavos (Php 1,150,634.74) to FEBTC Account No. 515-12910-8, belonging to her relative,
Theresa Clemente;5 (2) One Million Two Hundred Sixty-Two Thousand Seven Hundred
Seventy-Four Pesos and Fifty Centavos (Php 1,262,774.50) was fraudulently
transferred to petitioner's FEBTC Account No. 5115-12827-6 in three (3) transactions: (a)
Five Hundred Sixty-Two Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy-Four Pesos and Fifty-Two Centavos
(Php 562,774.52); (b) Four Hundred Thousand Pesos (Php 400,000.00); and (c) Three Hundred
Thousand Pesos (Php 300,000.00); and (3) Petitioner later withdrew the whole amount, as
evidenced by the deposit and withdrawal slips stored in FEBTC's Central Operations] Department.

Sarao also claimed that the funding of petitioner's FEBTC Account No. 5115-12827-6 came from
unauthorized terminations of the placements of other FEBTC clients. Bank records did not show
that petitioner had placements in FEBTC.

Florentino Bartolome, Jr. (Bartolome), officer-in-charge of the records unit of FEBTC under its
Central Operations Department in Intramuros, Manila, received a request to retrieve documents
concerning the theft cases against petitioner. Using the available microfilm, microfiche 6 and CD-
ROM's in his office, Bartolome was able to retrieve certain documents, which he presented in
court. Ma. Theresa Vierneza (Vierneza), Head of the Information Technology Group of FEBTC,
confirmed that the documents presented and identified by Bartolome were the same documents
processed by Bartolome's office.7 (Citations omitted and emphasis in the original) cralawl awlib rary

The petitioner, on the other hand, claimed that he only learned of the criminal cases filed against
him while he was in the United States of America in 1998. He returned to the Philippines and
inquired from Far East Bank and Trust Company's (FEBTC) investigating committee the basis of
the charges against him. However, none of the committee's reports and documents was shown
to him. He admitted that Ma. Milagros T. Clemente (Clemente) is his friend, but denied
knowledge of the latter's fraudulent transactions. He did not dispute ownership of FEBTC Savings
Account No. 5115-12827-6, but he insisted that the money in his personal account was owned
by him as proceeds from the piggery business, which he established with Clemente and their
other friends. He admitted having delivered pre-signed blank personal checks to Clemente but it
was in pursuit of their business. Besides, at that time, he knew that his Current Account No.
5015-01498-9 had no funds, thus, Clemente cannot benefit therefrom. 8

Five Informations9 charging acts of theft allegedly committed in conspiracy with Clemente were
filed against the petitioner before the RTC.

Rulings of the RTC and the CA

On March 25, 2006, the RTC convicted the petitioner of two counts of theft as charged in the
Informations in Criminal Case Nos. MC 99-1456 and MC 99-1457. The dispositive portion of the
RTC decision reads: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLaw lib rary

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered by this court finding the [petitioner] GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of theft as follows: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLawl ib rary
In Criminal Case No. MC 99-1456, [the petitioner] is sentenced to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY to TWENTY (20) YEARS and to indemnify
[FEBTC] the amount of P1,262,774.50.

In Criminal Case No. MC 99-1457, [the petitioner] is sentenced to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY to TWENTY (20) YEARS and to indemnify
[FEBTC] the amount of P450,000.00.

[In the] [m]eantime, for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the [petitioner] in
Criminal Cases Nos. MC[ ]99-1458, MC[ ]99-1459 and MC[ ]99-1460, [the petitioner] is hereby
ACQUITTED of the charge[s] in these cases.

SO ORDERED.10
crala wla wlib rary
Ch an Rob lesVirt u alawlib rary

The RTC found that the prosecution had proven the elements of theft as far as Criminal Case
Nos. MC 99-1456 and MC 99-1457 are concerned. On January 7, 1994 and February 9, 1994, the
amounts of f 450,000.00 and PI,262,774.50 were fraudulently credited by Clemente to the
petitioner's savings and current accounts, then withdrawn later. Liza Sarao (Sarao) discovered
the anomalies through the special audit she conducted in FEBTC's Boni Avenue branch.
Florentino Bartolome, Jr. (Bartolome) retrieved the documents in support of Sarao's findings. 11

The RTC found no credence in the petitioner's bare claim that the money in his accounts were
proceeds from the piggery business. The RTC likewise considered the circumstance that the
petitioner had ascribed no ill motives against any of the prosecution witnesses impelling them to
testify against him. Further, the presumption provided for in Section 3(j), Rule 1.31 of the Rules
of Court applies in the instant case — a person found in possession of a thing taken in the doing
of a recent wrongful act is the taker and the doer of the whole act. 12

The RTC, thus, concluded that the prosecution had proven by sufficient circumstantial evidence
that the petitioner took money belonging to FEBTC. 13

On September 20, 2012, the CA rendered the herein assailed Decision, partly granting the
petitioner's appeal. The decretal portion of the CA decision is quoted below: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLa wlib rary

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is PARTIALLY GRANTED.

The 25 March 2006 Decision of the [RTC] ofMandaluyong City, Branch 214 is
hereby MODIFIED to read as follows:"WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered by this Court finding
the [petitioner] GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Theft as follows:
In Criminal Case No. MC[ ]99-1456, [the petitioner] is sentenced to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment in the minimum period of SIX (6) YEARS to a maximum period of TWENTY
(20) YEARS and to indemnify [FEBTC] in [sic] the amount of P1,262,774.50.

In Criminal Case No. MC[ ]99-1457, [the petitioner] is hereby ACQUITTED for failure of
the prosecution to prove the [petitioner's] guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

[In the] [m]eantime, for failure of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the [petitioner] in
Criminal Cases Nos. MC[ ]99-1458, MC[ [99-1459 and MC[ ]99-1460, [the petitioner] is hereby
ACQUITTED of the charge[s] in these cases.

SO ORDERED."
SO ORDERED.14 (Emphasis in the original) cralawl awlib rar y

Tn rendering one, instead of two convictions, and modifying the penalty imposed by the RTC,
the CA explained that: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLawl ib rary
[B]ased on the records, [the petitioner] admitted ownership of the following bank
accounts: (1) 2100-93570-4; (2) 0101-90300-6; (3) 5115-12827-6; and (4) 5015-
01498-9. These accounts, per records of the bank, were the very accounts where the claimed
illegally-credited amounts were kept before they were ultimately withdrawn or otherwise
disposed of by [the petitioner]. Especially so that [the petitioner] further admitted that the
checks issued to allow the removal of the money from the bank were signed by him.
xxxx

xxx (T]he elements of theft are as follows: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLawlib rar y

"1. That there be taking of personal property;

2. That said property belongs to another;

3. That the taking be done with intent to gain;

4. That the taking be done without the consent of the owner; and

5. That the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons
or force upon things." x x x
Pertinently, a conspiracy is proved by evidence of actual cooperation; of acts indicative of an
agreement, a common purpose or design, a concerted action or concurrence of sentiments to
commit the felony and actually pursue it.

In Criminal Case [No.] MC 99-1456 committed on February 9, 1994, both the taking of
the money and the conspiracy were sufficiently proved by the prosecution by way of
circumstantial evidence and/or judicial admissions of [the petitioner] himself establishing: (1)
that [the petitioner] opened and owns the four subject accounts in the bank; (2) that
money belonging to the bank amounting to One Million One Hundred Fifty Thousand Six Hundred
Thirty-One Pesos and Seventy-Four centavos (P1,150,631.74) was transferred by [Clemente] as
proceeds from placement to the account of one Teresita Clemente; (3) that on the same day,
the amount of One Million Two Hundred Sixty-Two Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy-
Four Pesos and Fifty centavos (P1,262,774.50) was transferred by [Clemente] from
Teresita Clcmente's account to Jthe petitioner's] account number 5115-12827-6; (4)
that the same money ultimately ended up in [the petitioner's Current] [A]ccount
[NJumber 5015-01498-9; and (5) that [the petitioner] finally disposed of the money
by issuing a check for the same amount.

While no direct evidence was established showing that (the petitioner] literally and physically
took the money from the bank, We agree with the court a quo's finding that there was,
indeed, enough circumstantial evidence proving his guilt. Such pieces of evidence
prevent Us from reversing the lower court's conviction in MC 99-1456.

More so that Section 4 of Rule 133 of the Rules of Court provides:


"SEC. 4. Circumstantial evidence, when sufficient. -Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for
conviction if:
ch an Rob lesvirt u alLawlib rary

(a) There is more than one circumstance;

(b) The facts from which the inferences are derived arc proven; and

(c) The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond
reasonable doubt."
The combination of all the foregoing circumstances undeniably, and beyond reasonable doubt,
show that [the petitioner], conspiring with Clemente, TOOK money BELONGING TO THE BANK
with INTENT TO GAIN but without use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force
upon things.

Pitted against the [petitioner's] defense of denial, We are convinced that there is
sufficient evidence establishing his guilt of theft in MC 99-1456 beyond reasonable
doubt. Well established is the rule that denials if unsubstantiated by clear and convincing
evidence are negative, self-serving evidence which deserve no weight in law and cannot
be given greater evidentiary weight over the testimony of credible witnesses who
testify on affirmative matters.

[The petitioner] further attempts to cast doubt on his conviction by claiming that there was no
allegation of conspiracy in the Informations filed against him.

xxxx

It is settled that the act of conspiring and all the elements of the crime is required to be alleged
in the complaint or information only when conspiracy is charged as a crime.

The requirements on sufficiency of allegations are different when conspiracy is not charged as a
crime in itself but only as the mode of committing the crime as in the case at bar. There is
less necessity of reciting its particularities in the Information because conspiracy is not the
gravamen of the offense charged.

Besides, it is settled that an information alleging conspiracy can stand even if only one person
is charged (except that the court cannot pass verdict on the co-conspirators who were not
charged in the information).

Criminal Case No. MC 99-1457

In Criminal Case No. MC[ ]99-1457, however, it is Our view that the prosecution failed
to prove [the petitioner's] participation in the theft alleged when it failed to present in
evidence the check allegedly issued by the latter in order to supposedly withdraw the money
from the bank. Without this evidence linking [the petitioner] to the theft in Criminal Case No. MC
99-1457, his right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty stands.

The penalty for simple theft under the Revised Penal Code is as follows:
"Art. 309. Penalties. Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLa wlib rary

1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing
stolen is more than 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos; but if the value of the
thing stolen exceeds the latter amount, the penalty shall be the maximum period of the
one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional ten thousand pesos,
but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In
such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the
purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision
mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be."
xxx
The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods has a range of six (6) years
and one (1) day to ten (10) years. Its maximum period is eight (8) years, eight (8) months and
one (1) day to ten (10) years; since the incremental penalty in the instant case exceeds the
maximum of twenty (20) years, following the above provision, the maximum impossible
penalty for [the petitioner] is 20 years.

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law (RA 4103), the imposable penalty therefore shall
be anywhere between two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision
correccional minimum to six (6) years of prision correccional maximum as minimum and the
period oi twenty (20) years as maximum.15 (Citations omitted and emphasis in the original) cralawla wlib rary
In the herein challenged Resolution16 dated February 13, 2013, the CA denied the petitioner's
motion for reconsideration.

Issues

Aggrieved, the petitioner now presents before the Court the issues of whether or not the CA
committed serious and reversible error: (1) in deciding contrary to the doctrines that (a) venue
in criminal case is jurisdictional, and (b) criminal liability, absent any conspiracy, is purely
personal; and (2) in holding that the circumstances surrounding the instant case should rule out
his innocence.17

In support of the issues raised, the petitioner avers that Sarao's casual reference to "Boni" or
"Boni Avenue" branch does not exclude the possibility that the crime was committed not in
Mandaluyong City, but somewhere else in the country.18

Further, the petitioner is the sole accused in the case at bar, and in the Information filed relative
to Criminal Case No. MC 99-1456, there is no allegation of conspiracy between him and
Clemcntc.19Therefore, he cannot be convicted of criminal acts committed by Clemente.20

The petitioner likewise emphasizes that there is no extant evidence pointing to the fact that he
stepped foot and physically withdrew money in FEBTC's Boni Avenue branch around the time the
fraudulent transaction took place in February 9, 1994.21 Besides, Sarao herself admitted the
possibility that money could have been credited to the petitioner's account without his
knowledge.22

The OSG, on the other hand, argues that the- Information unequivocally charges that the theft
was committed in Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City.23

Moreover, the elements of theft are present in the instant case. Specifically, the money belonged
to FEBTC. Sarao, through the records stored in FEBTC's Central Operations Department, was
able to trail the movement of the money, which was eventually withdrawn from the petitioner's
current account. The money was drawn through the issuance of a check indicating the amount of
P1,262,774.50, which was indisputably signed by the petitioner. The prosecution had presented
as evidence the microfilm copy of the said check. 24

The OSG likewise reiterates the CA's disquisition that the congruence of circumstances attendant
to the instant case amply proved the petitioner's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. 25 cralawred

The OSG also contends that the Information sufficiently states that the taking, stealing and
carrying away of FEBTC's money in the amount of P1,262,774.50 was done with Clemente, a
Marketing Assistant/Trader of FEBTC, Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong City Branch. 26

The OSG further points out that the petitioner presented no evidence to show the legitimate
origin of the money which found its way into his account, or any improper motives which any of
the witnesses could have harbored against the latter. 27

Ruling of the Court

The instant petition has no merit. However, the Court modifies the CA 's decision by directing the
payment of interest upon the indemnity due to FEBTC.

The Court need not delve on the jurisdictional issue raised by the petitioner as the arguments are
trifling and the CA had already amply disposed of the same. 28

In the Information filed, conspiracy was sufficiently alleged merely as a mode of committing the
crime.

As the second issue, the petitioner argues that the prosecution made a faulty allegation of
conspiracy in the Information filed with the RTC.

In Lazarte, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan (First Division), et al., 29 the Court is emphatic that: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLawlib rary

Notably, in People v. Quillong, as pointed out by respondent, the Court ruled on how conspiracy
as a mode of committing the offense should be alleged in the Information, viz:
xxxx

A conspiracy indictment need not, of course, aver all the components of conspiracy or allege all
the details thereof, like the part that each of the parties therein have performed, the evidence
proving the common design or the facts connecting all the accused with one another in the web
of the conspiracy. Neither is it necessary to describe conspiracy with the same degree of
particularity required in describing a substantive offense. It is enough that the indictment
contains a statement of facts relied upon to be constitutive of the offense in ordinary and concise
language, with as much certainty as the nature of the case will admit, in a manner that can
enable a person of common understanding to know what is intended, and with such precision
that the accused may plead his acquittal or conviction to a subsequent indictment based on the
same facts. It is said, generally, that an indictment may be held sufficient "if it follows the words
of the statute and reasonably informs the accused of the character of the offense he is charged
with conspiring to commit, or, following the language of the statute, contains a sufficient
statement of an overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy, or alleges both the conspiracy
and the contemplated crime in the language of the respective statutes defining them (15A C.J.S.
842-844).

x x x Conspiracy arises when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the
commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy comes to life at the very instant the
plotters agree, expressly or impliedly, to commit the felony and forthwith to actually pursue
it. Verily, the information must state that the accused have confederated to commit the crime or
that there has been a community of design, a unity of purpose or an agreement to commit the
felony among the accused. Such an allegation, in the absence of the usual usage of the words
"conspired" or "confederated" or the phrase "acting in conspiracy," must aptly appear in the
information in the form of definitive acts constituting conspiracy. In fine, the agreement to
commit the crime, the unity of purpose or the community of design among the accused must be
conveyed such as either by the use of the term "conspire" or its derivatives and synonyms or by
allegations of basic facts constitutinu the conspiracy. Conspiracy must be alleged, not just
inferred, in the information on which basis an accused can aptly enter his plea, a matter that is
not to be confused with or likened to the adequacy of evidence that may be required to prove it.
In establishing conspiracy when properly alleged, the evidence to support it need not necessarily
be shown by direct proof but may be inferred from shown acts and conduct of the
accused.30 (Citations omitted and underlining ours)
crala wla wlib rary

In the case at bench, the Information in Criminal Case No. MC 99-1456 reads: ch an Rob lesvirt u alLaw lib rary

That on or about the 9th day of February 1994, in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the [petitioner], with intent to gain and without
the knowledge and consent of [FEBTC], Boni Avenue, Mandaluyong Branch, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away from [FEBTC] in the total
amount of P1,262,774.50 with [Clemente], a Marketing Assistant/Trader of [FEBTC], Boni
Avenue, Mandaluyong Branch, fraudulently and illegally crediting the aforesaid amount to the
[petitioner's] Account Number 5115-12827-6 with [FHBTC], through credit memo and accounting
entries to the damage and prejudice of [FEBTC] in the aforementioned amount.
CONTRARY TO LAW.31 (Italics ours)
crala wla wlib rary

In the instant case, conspiracy is alleged only as a mode of committing the crime. The Court
finds that the Information filed against the petitioner adequately complied with the requirements
as set forth in Lazarte. The Information charges that the petitioner, with Clemente, took FEBTCs
money through fraudulent transfers to and withdrawal from the former's Account Number 5115-
12827-6. Although the words "conspire" and "confederated" do not appear in the indictment,
there is a clear allegation that the petitioner and Clemente were united in their purpose of
fraudulently taking FEBTC's money. The Information, thus, enables the petitioner to amply
prepare for his defense.

In Tan, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan,32 cited by the CA, the Court declared that "an information alleging
conspiracy can stand even if only one person is charged except that the court cannot pass
verdict on the co-conspirators who were not charged in the information."33 Ideally, Clemente and
the petitioner should have been indicted together. However, the non-inclusion of Clemente does
not invalidate the Information filed against the petitioner especially since conspiracy is not
charged as a crime, but is merely alleged to show how criminal liability was incurred.

Circumstantial evidence concur


leading to the conclusion that the
petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the charge against him.

The petitioner claims that the circumstantial evidence offered by the prosecution do not add up
to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This, too, deserves short shrift.

In addition to the circumstances34 which the CA had already considered in the prosecution's
favor, the Court finds those discussed below as determinative of the petitioner's guilt as well.

First, it is presumed that a person takes ordinary care of his concerns 35 and that the ordinary
course of business has been followed.36 The petitioner in this case was a bank officer. He can be
reasonably charged with knowledge of banking procedures and the liabilities which may-attach to
him by reason of maintaining current accounts. It perplexes the Court why he delivered blank
checks to Clemente and subsequently not even bothered to inquire about the status of the said
checks and his current account against which the checks may be drawn. 37 The Court further finds
no credence in his claim that he received no statements or notices relative to his current account
in FEBTC's Boni Avenue branch.38Bartolome testified that checks are microfilmed, and thereafter,
the originals are returned to the account holder. 39 He also stated that bank statements are sent
to the account holders on or before every 15thday of the month.40 The petitioner ascribed no ill
motive against Bartolome and the former had not offered any evidence to show why FEBTC
would have treated his accounts as exceptions by not sending back to him the original check
which was cleared and the bank statements indicating any transactions relative to his accounts.
It bears stressing that the petitioner's employment was only severed in 1998 while the
anomalous transfers and withdrawal occurred in 1994. The petitioner had four years, more or
less, to inquire from FEBTC itself or from Clemente the details about the transfers and
withdrawal. During the trial, he pleaded lack of knowledge about the transactions. This does not
inspire belief.

Second, the petitioner testified that the piggery business he set up with Clemente and their other
friends folded up after three months.41 He also claimed that he delivered signed blank checks to
Clemente because the latter was the one controlling the finances of their piggery business.42 The
Court, however, notes that while the fraudulent transaction which is the subject of the instant
petition occurred on February 9, 1994, the petitioner also testified that in September of 1996, his
payroll account was credited with P38,000.00 and P15,000.00.43 He withdrew the amounts as
they belonged to him as profits from their piggery business. While claiming that the piggery
business lasted only for three months, the petitioner at the same time alleged that after more
than two years, he still received profits from the said business. The inconsistencies fail to lend
credit to the petitioner's assertions.

No compelling grounds exist for the


Court to reverse the uniform factual
findings of the RTC and the CA anent
the petitioner's guilt in Criminal Case
No. MC 99-1456.

It is settled that findings of the trial courts which are factual in nature and which involve
credibility are accorded respect when no glaring errors, gross misapprehension of facts and
speculative, arbitrary and unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such findings. 44 The
foregoing rule finds an even more stringent application where said findings are sustained by the
CA.45

In the case at bar, both the RTC and the CA found that the prosecution was able to discharge the
burden of proof imposed upon it as regards the liability of the petitioner in Criminal Case No. MC
99-1456. No compelling grounds exist for the Court to depart from the RTC and CA's findings.

The Court, however, directs the


imposition of legal interest upon the
amount of indemnity due to FEBTC.

In line with prevailing jurisprudence relative to criminal actions, interest at the rate of six percent
(6%) per annum, shall be imposed on all the damages awarded, to be reckoned from the date of
the finality of this resolution until full satisfaction thereof. 46

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Decision dated September 20, 2012 and Resolution dated
February 13, 2013 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 30621 are AFFIRMED subject only
to the MODIFICATION that in Criminal Case No. MC 99-1456, FRANCISCO T. INOCENCIO is
directed to indemnify Far East Bank and Trust Company the amount of P1,262,774.50, which
shall be subject to INTEREST at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum to be computed from
the date of the finality of this resolution until full satisfaction thereof.

SO ORDERED. ch an rob lesvirt u allawlib rary

Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Peralta, Villarama, Jr., and Perez,* JJ., concur. ch an rob leslaw

G.R. No. 186460 December 4, 2009

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
GUALBERTO CINCO y SOYOSA, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

For review is the Decision1 dated 30 January 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CR-HC No. 01537 which affirmed in toto the Decision, dated 14 July 2005, of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 106, Quezon City, in Criminal Cases No. Q-
98-79944, No. Q-99-89097 and No. Q-89098,2 finding accused-appellant Gualberto
Cinco y Soyosa guilty of two counts of simple rape.

The facts gathered from the records are as follows:

In November 1998, an information3 was filed before the RTC accusing appellant of
acts of lasciviousness, thus:

Criminal Case No. Q-98-79944

That on or about the 30th day of November 1998, in Quezon City, Philippines, the
said accused with lewd design, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
commit an act of sexual abuse upon the person of AAA,4 a minor, 14 years old, by
then and there touching her body and mashing her breast, against her will and
without her consent which act debases, degrades, or demeans the intrinsic worth
and human dignity of said complainant as a human being, to the damage and
prejudice of the said offended party.

Subsequently, on 18 August 1999, two separate informations 5 were filed with the
RTC charging appellant with rape. The accusatory portions of the informations read:

Criminal Case No. Q-99-89097

That on or about the month of November, 1998 in Quezon City, Philippines, the said
accused, by means of force and intimidation, to wit: by then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously undressed [AAA], a minor, 14 years of age, inside her
room of the house located at XXX, and thereafter have carnal knowledge with [AAA]
against her will and without her consent.

Criminal Case No. Q-99-89098

That on or about the 1st day of November, 1998 in Quezon City, Philippines, the
said accused, by means of force and intimidation, to wit: by then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously undressed [AAA], a minor, 14 years of age, in the sala of
their house located at XXX, and thereafter have carnal knowledge with [AAA]
against her will and without her consent.

Thereafter, the aforementioned cases were consolidated. When arraigned on 7


February 2000, appellant, assisted by counsel de oficio, pleaded "not guilty" to the
charges. Trial on the merits followed.

The prosecution presented as witnesses Dr. Mariella Castillo and AAA. Their
testimonies, woven together, bear the following:
Herein private complainant, AAA, was born on 21 August 1984 in the province of
YYY. When she was 12 years old, her aunt, BBB, took her from the custody of her
paternal grandmother and brought her to BBB’s residence located at XXX. Since
then, AAA lived in the said house with BBB and herein appellant (BBB’s common-
law spouse/live-in partner).

On 1 November 1998, at around 6:00 p.m., AAA, then 14 years old, was inside the
house watching television. Appellant entered the house and proceeded to the
kitchen. He took a knife therefrom and poked it at AAA. He told her not to shout or
he would kill her. He tied her two hands at the back of her head and removed her
skirt and panty. She began to cry, but he told her to stop doing so. He went on top of
her, spread her thighs, and inserted his penis into her vagina. He then made push
and pull movements. As she felt pain in her vagina, she tried to push him away but
to no avail. He pinched her breast which was very painful. After satisfying his lust, he
untied her hands, put on his shorts and left her. She then stood up and put on her
clothes. She went to the comfort room and saw her panty stained with blood.

In the latter part of November 1998, at about 4:00 p.m., AAA was inside the house
while appellant was drinking with friends outside. Later, appellant, then armed with a
knife, entered AAA’s room and approached AAA. He pointed the knife at her neck
and told her not to make noise. He covered her mouth with a handkerchief and tied
her hands with a nylon rope. He then removed his pants and brief, stripped her of
her shorts and panty, and went on top of her. He inserted his penis into her vagina
and made up and down movements. Before leaving her, he warned her not to tell
anyone of the incidents or he would kill her.

Subsequently, AAA went to the barangay hall to report the incidents. However, upon
arriving thereat, she told the barangay officials that she was merely "touched" and
not raped by appellant. She was forced to make such statement because appellant’s
siblings, namely, Sonia and Roel, threatened to kill her if she would divulge the truth.
Appellant was eventually arrested and detained. She then filed with the Office of the
Prosecutor, Quezon City, a complaint for acts of lasciviousness against appellant.

Thereafter, AAA confided to BBB that appellant raped her. BBB accompanied AAA
to the office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Marilac
Hills, Alabang, Muntinlupa. Thereupon, AAA disclosed to a social worker that she
was raped by appellant. After the interview, the social worker and BBB accompanied
AAA to Camp Crame where the latter underwent physical and genital examination,
which was conducted by Dr. Mariella Castillo (Dr. Castillo). In the said genital
examination, Dr. Castillo found that AAA had an estrogenized hymen with healed
laceration at the 6:00 o’clock and 8:00 o’clock positions. The deep notches, being in
the posterior part of the hymen, indicate that the same had been lacerated before,
but were now healed. The notches were caused by penetration injuries or by an
object being inserted through the hymen opening to the vaginal canal.
Afterwards, appellant was charged with two counts of rape. 6

The prosecution also proffered documentary evidence to buttress the testimonies of


its witness, to wit: (1) provisional medical certificate of AAA issued by Dr. Castillo
(Exhibit A);7 (2) final medical certificate of AAA issued by Dr. Castillo (Exhibit B);8 (3)
sworn statement of AAA (Exhibit C);9 and (4) AAA’s birth certificate (Exhibit D).10 1 avvp hi1

For its part, the defense presented the testimonies of appellant, Gregorio Frias and
Roel Cinco to refute the foregoing accusations. No documentary evidence was
adduced. Appellant denied any liability and interposed an alibi.

Appellant claimed that he was not in the house when the alleged incidents occurred.
He testified that from 8:00 a.m. to midnight of 1 November 1998, he sold ice cream
in Cubao, Quezon City. He went home in the morning of the following day, 2
November 1998. Also, during the latter part of November 1998, he sold ice cream
for the whole day in the same place and went home in the morning of the following
day. He alleged that AAA had ill motive to fabricate the rape charges, because he
caught her several times stealing money from his box inside the house. 11

Gregorio Frias, friend of appellant, narrated that on 1 November 1998, he and


appellant were selling ice cream in Cubao, Quezon City. At about 5:00 p.m. of the
same day, he went to appellant’s house and upon arriving therein, he noticed that
the people inside were arguing about the loss of money. On 30 November 1998, he
and appellant were selling ice cream in Cubao, Quezon City.12

Roel Cinco, brother of appellant, stated that on 1 November 1998, he was watching
television inside appellant’s house. At around 6:00 p.m., appellant arrived at the
house. Later that evening, appellant quarreled with BBB because AAA had several
times stolen money from him.13

After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision convicting appellant of rape in Criminal
Case Nos. Q-99-89097 and Q-89098. Appellant was sentenced to reclusion
perpetua in both cases. He was also ordered to pay AAA in each of the cases the
amount of ₱50,000.00 as civil indemnity, ₱50,000.00 as moral damages and
₱25,000.00 as exemplary damages. With respect to Criminal Case No. Q-98-79944
for acts of lasciviousness, appellant was acquitted therein for failure of the
prosecution to establish said charge. Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeals.

On 30 January 2008, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming in toto
the RTC Decision. Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal on 12 February 2008.14

In his Brief, appellant assigns a lone error, thus:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THE INFORMATIONS


UNDER CRIMINAL CASE NOS. Q-99-89097 AND Q-99-89098 AS INSUFFICIENT
TO SUPPORT A JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION FOR THE PROSECUTION’S
FAILURE TO STATE WITH PARTICULARITY THE APPROXIMATE DATES OF
THE COMMISSION OF THE ALLEGED RAPES.15

Appellant maintains that the approximate times and dates of the commission of the
offense must be stated in the informations; that the informations in the instant cases
do not state the approximate times and dates of the alleged rapes; that although
AAA testified that the first rape occurred nearly before All Saints Day of 1998, the
information in Criminal Case No. Q-89098, nonetheless, states that such incident
transpired on 1 November 1998; that the informations are fatally defective; that the
times and dates of the alleged rapes are so indefinite, thereby depriving appellant of
the opportunity to prepare for his defense; that appellant’s constitutional right to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him was violated; and
that by reason of the foregoing, appellant is entitled to an acquittal. 16

An information is an accusation in writing charging a person with an offense,


subscribed by the prosecutor and filed with the court.17 To be considered as valid
and sufficient, an information must state the name of the accused; the designation of
the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting
the offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate date of the commission
of the offense; and the place where the offense was committed.18 The purpose of the
requirement for the information’s validity and sufficiency is to enable the accused to
suitably prepare for his defense, since he is presumed to have no independent
knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense. 19

With respect to the date of the commission of the offense, Section 11, Rule 110 of
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure specifically provides that it is not
necessary to state in the information the precise date the offense was committed
except when it is a material ingredient of the offense, and that the offense may be
alleged to have been committed on a date as near as possible to the actual date of
its commission.

In rape cases, failure to specify the exact dates or times when the rapes occurred
does not ipso facto make the information defective on its face. The reason is
obvious. The date or time of the commission of rape is not a material ingredient of
the said crime because the gravamen of rape is carnal knowledge of a woman
through force and intimidation. The precise time when the rape took place has no
substantial bearing on its commission. As such, the date or time need not be stated
with absolute accuracy. It is sufficient that the complaint or information states that
the crime has been committed at any time as near as possible to the date of its
actual commission.20 In sustaining the view that the exact date of commission of the
rape is immaterial, we ruled in People v. Purazo21 that:

We have ruled, time and again, that the date is not an essential element of the crime
of rape, for the gravamen of the offense is carnal knowledge of a woman. As such,
the time or place of commission in rape cases need not be accurately stated. As
early as 1908, we already held that where the time or place or any other fact alleged
is not an essential element of the crime charged, conviction may be had on proof of
the commission of the crime, even if it appears that the crime was not committed at
the precise time or place alleged, or if the proof fails to sustain the existence of
some immaterial fact set out in the complaint, provided it appears that the specific
crime charged was in fact committed prior to the date of the filing of the complaint or
information within the period of the statute of limitations and at a place within the
jurisdiction of the court.

This Court has upheld complaints and informations in prosecutions for rape which
merely alleged the month and year of its commission. 22 There is no cogent reason to
deviate from these precedents, especially so when the prosecution has established
the fact that the rape under Criminal Case No. Q-99-89097 was committed prior to
the date of the filing of the information in the said case. Hence, the allegation in the
information under Criminal Case No. Q-99-89097, which states that the rape was
committed on or about November 1998, is sufficient to affirm the conviction of
appellant in the said case.

Appellant’s allegation of variance between the date of the commission of rape in


Criminal Case No. Q-99-89098 and that established by the evidence during the trial
is erroneous. AAA categorically testified that she was raped by appellant on 1
November 1998.23 This is consistent with the allegation in the information under
Criminal Case No. Q-99-89098 that appellant raped AAA on 1 November 1998.

Since the sole issue raised by appellant was resolved by this Court in favor of the
validity of the informations filed against him, then the subsequent trial court
proceedings and the resulting judgment of conviction against appellant should
likewise be affirmed, there being no other questions raised by appellant as to them.
We further uphold the penalty imposed on appellant by the RTC and the Court of
Appeals.

Republic Act No. 8353, otherwise known as the Anti-Rape Law of 1997, was the law
pertinent to the rapes committed on 1 November 1998 and in the latter part of
November 1998. The law states that the death penalty shall be imposed if the rape
victim is a minor, and the offender is the common-law spouse of the parent of the
victim.24The qualifying circumstances of minority of the victim and her relationship
with the offender must be alleged in the complaint or information and proved during
the trial to warrant the imposition of the death penalty.25

The informations in Criminal Case No. Q-99-89097 and Q-99-89098 allege that AAA
was a minor at the time she was raped. However, there is no allegation therein that
the offender, herein appellant, is the common-law spouse of AAA’s parent. Thus, the
qualifying circumstances of minority and relationship cannot be properly
appreciated. In the absence of such qualifying circumstances, the rapes in the
instant cases are treated as simple rapes. Under Republic Act No. 8353, the penalty
for simple rape is reclusion perpetua.

We also sustain the RTC and the Court of Appeals’ award of civil indemnity in the
amount of ₱50,000.00 and moral damages in the amount of ₱50,000.00 to AAA,
pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence. 26 Nonetheless, the award of exemplary
damages in the amount of ₱25,000.00 should be deleted, as no aggravating
circumstance in the commission of rapes was proven.27

WHEREFORE, the Decision, dated 30 January 2008, of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CR-HC No. 01537, is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that the
award of exemplary damages is deleted.

SO ORDERED.

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

[G.R. No. 136994. September 17, 2002.]

BRAULIO ABALOS, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

QUISUMBING, J.:

This petition for review assails the consolidated decision 1 of the Court of Appeals dated August
10, 1998, in CA-G.R. SP No. 42482 and CA-G.R. SP No. 43237. The CA had dismissed for lack of
merit petitioner’s separate appeals from the order of the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City,
Pangasinan, Branch 40, in Civil Case No. 95-00752-D, and the decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan, Branch 69, in Civil Case No. 17576. ch an rob 1 es virt u a1 1 aw 1 ib rary

The antecedents of this petition, based on the findings summarized by the Court of Appeals, duly
supported by the records, are as follows:ch an rob 1 es virt u al 1 aw lib rary

On November 11, 1994, an Information for Falsification of Private Documents was filed against
the accused-appellant Braulio Abalos (hereinafter referred to as the accused-appellant) before
the Municipal Trial Court of Dagupan City, which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 22707. The
information alleged —

That on or about the 12th day of July, 1994, in the City of Dagupan, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, ENGR. BRAULIO ABALOS, with
intent to cause damage to the heirs of Roman Soriano of Lingayen, Pangasinan, among them is
EVELYN C. SORIANO, complainant herein, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and criminally,
cause(d) the production of and the filling in of entries on Cash Receipts Nos. 39185, 39414 and
41775 of the Pangasinan Photostat, and thereafter offered the same to the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 37 of Lingayen, Pangasinan, as supporting documents to his Bill of Cost in Civil Case No.
15958, giving the impression to the court that the receipts were authentic when in fact, to his
own knowledge, they were not, thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of fact; that
as a consequence thereof, the adverse party in Civil Case No. 15958, represented by EVELYN C.
SORIANO, sustained damages.

Thereafter, or on December 12, 1994, another Information for Falsification of Private Document
was filed against the accused-appellant before the Municipal Trial Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 10024. ch an rob 1 es virt u a1 1 aw 1 ib rary

Meanwhile, on June 5, 1995, during his arraignment before the Dagupan Municipal Trial Court,
the accused-appellant entered a plea of not guilty. On August 7, 1995, he filed a Motion to
Quash, arguing that the Municipal Trial Court had no jurisdiction over the offense charged. . . .

On October 20, 1995, the Municipal Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 2, ordered the quashal
of Criminal Case No. 22707 for lack of jurisdiction. Private complainant’s Motion for
Reconsideration was denied on November 20, 1995.

On January 3, 1996, private complainant filed a Petition for Certiorari with the Regional Trial
Court of Dagupan City. On May 14, 1996, the Regional Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 40
issued the Order now on appeal, reversing and setting aside the October 20, 1995 and
November 20, 1995 Orders of the Municipal Trial Court of Dagupan City, Branch 2, in Criminal
Case No. 22707. . . .

x x x

On the other hand, after the filing of the Information before the Lingayen court, the accused-
appellant filed a Motion to Quash . . . The court a quo denied the Motion to Quash in its Order of
September 8, 1996. Undaunted, the accused-appellant went on Certiorari to the Regional Trial
Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan, Branch 69 which rendered a Decision on October 28, 1996,
dismissing the Petition for Certiorari of the accused-appellant for lack of merit. 2

Twice rebuffed by two different trial courts, petitioner appealed the said cases to the Court of
Appeals. The appeal in Criminal Case No. 22707 was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 42482, while
that in Criminal Case No. 10024 was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 43237. On February 22, 1997,
petitioner moved to consolidate the two appeals, which the Court of Appeals granted on April 4,
1997.

On August 10, 1998, the Court of Appeals promulgated the assailed decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads: ch an rob 1 es virt u al 1 aw lib rary

WHEREFORE, in light of the foregoing, both Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 42482 and 43237 are
hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED. 3

On December 14, 1998, petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied. ch an rob 1 es virt u a1 1 aw 1 ib rary

Hence, the present petition, where petitioner ascribes the following errors to the Court of
Appeals:ch an rob 1 es virt u al 1 aw lib rary

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONCLUDING AND RULING THAT: ch an rob 1 es virt u al 1 a w lib rary

(a) UNDER THE FACTS OF THE CASE AT BENCH (sic), BOTH MTC LINGAYEN AND MTCC
DAGUPAN "HAVE JURISDICTION OVER THE RESPECTIVE INFORMATION FILED FOR
FALSIFICATION OF PRIVATE DOCUMENTS" ;

(b) THAT THE FACTS CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION IN THE MTC LINGAYEN AND IN THE
INFORMATION IN THE MTCC DAGUPAN DO NOT CONSTITUTE ONLY ONE CRIME OF
FALSIFICATION OF PRIVATE DOCUMENTS; AND

(c) THAT IN THE CASE AT BENCH (sic), "EACH FALSIFICATION COMMITTED ON EACH OF THE
INDIVIDUAL RECEIPTS AND VOUCHERS CONSTITUTES A SEPARATE CRIME EVEN THOUGH THEY
MAY HAVE BEEN COMMITTED IN THE COURSE OF A CONTINUOUS TRANSACTION ON THE SAME
DATE OR EVEN ON THE SAME PIECE OF PAPER" .

II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONCLUDING AND RULING THAT THE COMPLAINANT
EVELYN C. SORIANO AND THE PEOPLE ARE NOT GUILTY OF FORUM SHOPPING IN THE FILING
OF TWO INFORMATIONS FOR ONE AND SAME OFFENSE IN TWO DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF THE
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT. ch an rob 1 es virt u a1 1 aw 1 ib rary

III. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THE RULING OF THE COURT OF APPEALS IN THE DECISION
APPEALED FROM, THAT THE FALSIFICATION OF EACH RECEIPT AND EACH INVOICE
CONSTITUTES A SEPARATE OFFENSE, THE INFORMATION IN CRIMINAL CASE NO. 10024, MTC
LINGAYEN IS DISMISSIBLE FOR CHARGING MORE THAN ONE OFFENSE, AND THE DISMISSAL OF
CRIMINAL CASE NO. 22707 MTCC DAGUPAN SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUSTAINED. 4

The main issue to be resolved is whether MTCC-Dagupan and MTC-Lingayen have jurisdiction
over the crimes allegedly committed by petitioner. In this connection, we must also resolve
whether the filing of separate complaints supported by the identical affidavits and annexes to the
informations filed in two courts constitutes forum shopping. Lastly, we must also determine
whether the respective informations in Lingayen as well as in Dagupan, MTCC, were dismissible
for multiplicity of offenses merged in one information.

Primarily, petitioner assails the assumption of jurisdiction over the criminal cases for falsification
by the MTCC-Dagupan and the MTC-Lingayen. He argues that both courts could not have
simultaneous jurisdiction over his case. He avers that only one crime was committed pursuant to
the unified and indivisible nature of the criminal intent proved.

Petitioner also contends that the filing of two separate complaints using the same complaint-
affidavit and supported by the same annexes constitutes forum shopping. He points out that if
indeed the acts committed by him constitute several offenses, then the informations filed against
him in Criminal Cases Nos. 10024 and 22707 should be dismissed on the ground of "multiplicity
of felonies charged in a single information." 5

For the respondent, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) avers that both MTCC-Dagupan and
MTC-Lingayen have properly assumed jurisdiction over petitioner’s criminal cases since these
involved different acts of falsification, where some were committed in Dagupan and others in
Lingayen. The OSG adds that each falsified document constitutes one separate act of
falsification, such that "there could be as many acts of falsification as there are . . . falsified
documents." 6 Citing People v. Madrigal-Gonzales, 7 SCRA 942 (1963), the OSG contends that in
this case, the use of several falsified documents during one occasion does not diminish the
number of acts of falsification that petitioner had committed. 7

On the issue of jurisdiction, we find enlightening the findings of the Court of Appeals: ch an rob 1 es virt u al 1 aw lib rary

Stripped to the core, the issue in these consolidated cases is whether or not the Dagupan and
Lingayen trial courts have jurisdiction over the respective information for Falsification of Private
Documents. ch an rob1 es virt u a1 1 aw 1 ib rary
This question finds its answer in the case of Alfelor, Sr. v. Intia, 70 SCRA 480, citing the case of
Lopez v. City Judge, 18 SCRA 616, where the Supreme Court stated: ch an rob 1 es virt u al 1 aw lib rary

x x x

It is settled law in criminal actions that the place where the criminal offense was committed not
only determines the venue of the action but is an essential element of jurisdiction (U.S. v.
Pagdayuman, 5 Phil. 265). Thus, under the provisions of Section 86 of the Judiciary Act of 1948,
municipal courts have original jurisdiction only over criminal offenses committed within their
respective territorial jurisdiction.

x x x

Coming now to the cases at bench (sic), it is clear that both the Dagupan and Lingayen courts
may exercise jurisdiction over the respective criminal cases filed before it.

In the Dagupan case involving the cash receipts issued by the Pangasinan Photostat of Dagupan
City, the Information alleges that the offense was committed in Dagupan City. This suffices to
give said court jurisdiction over the crime of falsification as charged. Petitioner’s argument that
"the crime of falsification . . . arose ONLY when the intent to cause damage became evident, that
is, when the receipts and invoices were ‘submitted in court as proof of the Bill of Costs’" proves
futile in light of the pronouncement in Lopez (supra), that the act of falsification is committed by
the signing of the document and the coetaneous intent to cause damage and whether the
falsified private document was thereafter put or not put to the illegal use for which it was
intended is in no wise a material or essential element of the crime of falsification of a private
document.

As for the Lingayen case, it appears that the subject invoices were issued by the Xerox Copying
Machine of Lingayen, Pangasinan. Again, it suffices for jurisdiction to vest that the Information
alleges that the crime of falsification, as charged, was committed within the municipality of
Lingayen. 8

A detailed disquisition could throw but little additional light on the issue of jurisdiction. Petitioner
was charged with five counts of falsification. The first three, concerning Cash Receipts Nos.
39185, 39414, and 41775, were allegedly committed in Dagupan. The other two counts,
involving Invoices Nos. 1070 and 1071, were allegedly committed in Lingayen. It is obvious the
cases had to be filed where the offenses had been committed, either in Dagupan or in Lingayen,
respectively.ch an rob 1 es virt u a1 1 aw 1 ib rary

For jurisdiction to be acquired by a court in a criminal case, the offense should have been
committed or any one of its essential ingredients should have taken place within the territorial
jurisdiction of the court. The Dagupan court could not validly take cognizance of offenses
committed in Lingayen. Nor could the Lingayen court legally entertain charges for acts done in
Dagupan. The fact that the falsified receipts and invoices were allegedly used at the same time in
one court proceedings (at the Regional Trial Court of Lingayen, Branch 7, in connection with Civil
Case No. 15958) is of no moment. The offenses of falsification took place much earlier,
separately, when the cash receipts were produced repetitively in Dagupan and Lingayen.

Likewise, considering that five separate offenses of falsification were involved, there can be no
forum-shopping. It was erroneous for petitioner to argue that only one offense was committed.
There are as many acts of falsification as there are documents falsified. 9

The real problem, however, is why the first three offenses were lumped in a single information
filed in Dagupan. Likewise, why were two offenses joined in a single information filed in
Lingayen? Thus, petitioner now claims, with ostensible merit, that Section 13, Rule 110 of the
Rules of Court was violated. 10

The Rules of Court, particularly Rule 110, Section 13, indeed frowns upon multiple offenses being
charged in a single information. However, petitioner failed to raise this issue during arraignment,
in Lingayen as well as in Dagupan. His failure to do so amounts to a waiver, and his objection on
this point can no longer be raised on appeal. 11 In his Motion to Quash filed in Dagupan City,
petitioner alleged lack of jurisdiction. On the other hand, in his Motion to Quash filed in Lingayen,
petitioner alleged forum-shopping, double jeopardy, lack of jurisdiction, and that the facts do not
constitute an offense. He only raised the issue of "multifariousness of offenses alleged" in his
petition before this Court. By this time, his objection is belated, and obviously to no avail.
ch an rob 1 es virt u a1 1 aw 1 ib rary

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The consolidated decision of the Court of
Appeals dated August 10, 1998, in CA-G.R. SP No. 42484 and CA-G.R. SP No. 43237, is
AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, Mendoza and Austria-Martinez, JJ., concur.

Callejo, Sr., J., no part.

G.R. No. 103102 March 6, 1992

CLAUDIO J. TEEHANKEE, JR., petitioner,


vs.
HON. JOB B. MADAYAG and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

REGALADO, J.:

In this special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, petitioner
principally seeks: (1) to nullify the order 1 of respondent judge admitting the amended
information for murder filed in Criminal Case No.
91-4606; (2) to nullify the arraignment and the plea of not guilty entered by order of
respondent judge when petitioner refused to be arraigned on the amended
information for lack of preliminary investigation therefor; (3) to nullify the
appointment of a counsel de oficio/PAO lawyer to represent petitioner; (4) to prohibit
respondent judge from "over-speedy and preferential scheduling of the trial of the
aforementioned criminal case;" and (5) to compel respondent judge to order
preliminary investigation of the crime charged in the amended information.

Petitioner was originally charged on July 19, 1991 in an information 2 for the crime of
frustrated murder allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 13th day of July 1991, in the Municipality of
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, while armed with a
handgun, with intent to kill, treachery and evident premeditation, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault and
shoot one Maureen Navarro Hultman on the head, thereby inflicting
gunshot wounds, which ordinarily would have caused the death of said
Maureen Navarro Hultman, thereby performing all the acts of execution
which would have produced the crime of Murder as a consequence, but
nevertheless did not produce it by reason of cause or causes
independent of her will, that is, due to the timely and able medical
assistance rendered to said Maureen Navarro Hultman which
prevented her death.

After the prosecution had rested its case, petitioner was allowed to file a motion for
leave to file a demurrer to evidence. However, before the said motion could be filed,
Maureen Navarro Hultman died.

Consequently, private prosecutor Rogelio A. Vinluan filed an omnibus motion 3 for


leave of court to file an amended information and to admit said amended
information. The amended information, 4 filed on October 31, 1991, reads:

That on or about the 13th day of July, 1991, in the Municipality of


Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said Claudio Teehankee, Jr. y. Javier, armed with
a handgun, with intent to kill and evident premeditation and by means
of treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack, assault and shoot with the said handgun Maureen Navarro
Hultman who was hit in the head, thereby inflicting mortal wounds
which directly caused the death of said Maureen Hultman.

Petitioner filed an opposition 5 thereto, as well as a rejoinder 6 to the reply 7 of the


prosecution. On November 13, 1991, the trial court issued the questioned order
admitting the amended information.

At the scheduled arraignment on November 26, 1991, petitioner refused to be


arraigned on the amended information for lack of a preliminary investigation thereon.
By reason of such refusal, respondent judge ordered that a plea of "not guilty" be
entered for petitioner.

Thereafter, respondent judge ordered the prosecution to present its evidence. When
petitioner's counsel manifested that he would not take part in the proceedings
because of the legal issue raised, the trial court appointed a counsel de oficio to
represent herein petitioner.
Petitioner now raises the following issues before us:

(a) Whether or not an amended information involving a substantial


amendment, without preliminary investigation, after the prosecution has
rested on the original information, may legally and validly be admitted;

(b) Whether or not a counsel de oficio may legally and validly be


appointed to represent an accused who is represented by counsel of
choice who refuses to participate in the proceedings because of a
perceived denial of due process and after a plea for appellate remedies
within a short period is denied by the trial court; and

(c) Whether or not a particular criminal case may legally and validly be
rushed and preferentially scheduled for trial over and at the expense
and sacrifice of other, specially older, criminal cases. 8
In our resolution of January 14, 1992, we required the Solicitor General to file a comment to the basic petition. It appearing from a further
review of the record that the operative facts and determinant issues involved in this case are sufficiently presented in the petition and the
annexes thereto, both in regard to the respective positions of petitioner and respondents, the Court has decided to dispense with the
aforesaid comment to obviate needless delay in fairness to petitioner.

I. Petitioner avers that the additional allegation in the amended information, as


herein underscored, that the accused ". . . did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously attack, assault and shoot with the said handgun Maureen Navarro
Hultman who was hit in the head, thereby inflicting mortal wounds which directly
caused the death of said Maureen Hultman . . ." constitutes a substantial
amendment since it involves a change in the nature of the offense charged, that is,
from frustrated to consummated murder. Petitioner further submits that "(t)here is a
need then to establish that the same mortal wounds, which were initially frustrated
(sic) by timely and able medical assistance, ultimately caused the death of the
victim, because it could have been caused by a supervening act or fact which is not
imputable to the offender." 9 From this, he argues that there being a substantial
amendment, the same may no longer be allowed after arraignment and during the
trial.

Corollary thereto, petitioner then postulates that since the amended information for
murder charges an entirely different offense, involving as it does a new fact, that is,
the fact of death whose cause has to be established, it is essential that another
preliminary investigation on the new charge be conducted before the new
information can be admitted.

We find no merit in the petition. There are sufficient legal and jurisprudential
moorings for the orders of the trial court.

Section 14, Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:
Sec. 14. Amendment. — The information or complaint may be
amended, in substance or form, without leave of court, at any time
before the accused pleads; and thereafter and during the trial as to all
matters of form, by leave and at the discretion of the court, when the
same can be done without prejudice to the rights of the accused.

If it appears at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made
in charging the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the original
complaint or information upon the filing of a new one charging the
proper offense in accordance with Rule 119, Section 11, provided the
accused would not be placed thereby in double jeopardy and may also
require the witnesses to give bail for their appearance at the trial.

The first paragraph provides the rules for amendment of the information or
complaint, while the second paragraph refers to the substitution of the information or
complaint.

It may accordingly be posited that both amendment and substitution of the


information may be made before or after the defendant pleaded, but they differ in the
following respects:

1. Amendment may involve either formal or substantial changes, while substitution


necessarily involves a substantial change from the original charge;

2. Amendment before plea has been entered can be effected without leave of court,
but substitution of information must be with leave of court as the original information
has to be dismissed;

3. Where the amendment is only as to form, there is no need for another preliminary
investigation and the retaking of the plea of the accused; in substitution of
information, another preliminary investigation is entailed and the accused has to
plead anew to the new information; and

4. An amended information refers to the same offense charged in the original


information or to an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in
the original charge, hence substantial amendments to the information after the plea
has been taken cannot be made over the objection of the accused, for if the original
information would be withdrawn, the accused could invoke double jeopardy. On the
other hand, substitution requires or presupposes that the new information involves a
different offense which does not include or is not necessarily included in the original
charge, hence the accused cannot claim double jeopardy.

In determining, therefore, whether there should be an amendment under the first


paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, or a substitution of information under the second
paragraph thereof, the rule is that where the second information involves the same
offense, or an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the
first information, and amendment of the information is sufficient; otherwise, where
the new information charges an offense which is distinct and different from that
initially charged, a substitution is in order.

There is identity between the two offenses when the evidence to support a
conviction for one offense would be sufficient to warrant a conviction for the other, or
when the second offense is exactly the same as the first, or when the second
offense is an attempt to commit or a frustration of, or when it necessarily includes or
is necessarily included in, the offense charged in the first information. In this
connection, an offense may be said to necessarily include another when some of the
essential elements or ingredients of the former, as this is alleged in the information,
constitute the latter. And, vice-versa, an offense may be said to be necessarily
included in another when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or form a
part of those constituting the latter. 10

Going now to the case at bar, it is evident that frustrated murder is but a stage in the
execution of the crime of murder, hence the former is necessarily included in the
latter. It is indispensable that the essential element of intent to kill, as well as
qualifying circumstances such as treachery or evident premeditation, be alleged in
both an information for frustrated murder and for murder, thereby meaning and
proving that the same material allegations are essential to the sufficiency of the
informations filed for both. This is because, except for the death of the victim, the
essential elements of consummated murder likewise constitute the essential
ingredients to convict herein petitioner for the offense of frustrated murder.

In the present case, therefore, there is an identity of offenses charged in both the
original and the amended information. What is involved here is not a variance in the
nature of different offenses charged, but only a change in the stage of execution of
the same offense from frustrated to consummated murder. This is being the case,
we hold that an amendment of the original information will suffice and, consequent
thereto, the filing of the amended information for murder is proper.

Petitioner would insist, however, that the additional allegation on the fact of death of
the victim Maureen Navarro Hultman constitutes a substantial amendment which
may no longer be allowed after a plea has been entered. The proposition is
erroneous and untenable.

As earlier indicated, Section 14 of Rule 110 provides that an amendment, either of


form or substance, may be made at any time before the accused enters a plea to the
charge and, thereafter, as to all matters of form with leave of court.

A substantial amendment consists of the recital of facts constituting the offense


charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the court. All other matters are
merely of form. 11 Thus, the following have been held to be merely formal
amendments, viz: (1) new allegations which relate only to the range of the penalty
that the court might impose in the event of conviction; 12 (2) an amendment which
does not charge another offense different or distinct from that charged in the original
one; 13 (3) additional allegations which do not alter the prosecution's theory of the
case so as to cause surprise to the accused and affect the form of defense he has
or will assume; and (4) an amendment which does not adversely affect any
substantial right of the accused, such as his right to invoke prescription. 14

We repeat that after arraignment and during the trial, amendments are allowed, but
only as to matters of form andprovided that no prejudice is caused to the rights of
the accused. 15 The test of whether an amendment is only of form and an accused is
not prejudiced by such amendment has been said to be whether or not a defense
under the information as it originally stood would be equally available after the
amendment is made, and whether or not any evidence the accused might have
would be equally applicable to the information in the one form as in the other; if the
answer is in the affirmative, the amendment is one of form and not of substance. 16

Now, an objective appraisal of the amended information for murder filed against
herein petitioner will readily show that the nature of the offense originally charged
was not actually changed. Instead, an additional allegation, that is, the supervening
fact of the death of the victim was merely supplied to aid the trial court in
determining the proper penalty for the crime. That the accused committed a
felonious act with intent to kill the victim continues to be the prosecution's theory.
There is no question that whatever defense herein petitioner may adduce under the
original information for frustrated murder equally applies to the amended information
for murder. Under the circumstances thus obtaining, it is irremissible that the
amended information for murder is, at most, an amendment as to form which is
allowed even during the trial of the case.

It consequently follows that since only a formal amendment was involved and
introduced in the second information, a preliminary investigation is unnecessary and
cannot be demanded by the accused. The filing of the amended information without
the requisite preliminary investigation does not violate petitioner's right to be secured
against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecutions, and to be protected from an
open and public accusation of a crime, as well as from the trouble, expenses and
anxiety of a public trial. The amended information could not conceivably have come
as a surprise to petitioner for the simple and obvious reason that it charges
essentially the same offense as that charged under the original information.
Furthermore, as we have heretofore held, if the crime originally charged is related to
the amended charge such that an inquiry into one would elicit substantially the same
facts that an inquiry into the other would reveal, a new preliminary investigation is
not necessary. 17

We find nothing irregular in the appointment by the trial court of a counsel de


oficio for herein petitioner whose counsel of record refused to participate in the
proceedings because of an alleged legal issue. Such issue having been
demonstrated herein as baseless, we apprehend his refusal to participate in the trial
as causative of or contributive to the delay in the disposition of the case. And, finally,
for as long as the substantial rights of herein petitioner and other persons charged in
court are not prejudiced, the scheduling of cases should be left to the sound
discretion of the trial court.

WHEREFORE, it being clearly apparent that respondent judge did not commit the
errors speciously attributed to him, the extraordinary writs prayed for are hereby
DENIED and the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Padilla,


Bidin, Griño-Aquino, Medialdea, Davide, Jr., Romero and Nocon, JJ., concur.

Bellosillo, J., took no part.

G.R. No. 157472 September 28, 2007

SSGT. JOSE M. PACOY, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. AFABLE E. CAJIGAL, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and OLYMPIO L.
ESCUETA, Respondents.

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Before us is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed by
SSGT. Jose M. Pacoy1 (petitioner) seeking to annul and set aside the Orders dated
October 25, 20022 and December 18, 20023 issued by Presiding Judge Afable E.
Cajigal (respondent judge) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 68, Camiling,
Tarlac in Criminal Case No. 02-42.

On July 4, 2002, an Information for Homicide was filed in the RTC against petitioner
committed as follows:

That on or about the 18th day of March 2002, in the Municipality of Mayantoc,
Province of Tarlac, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
said accused with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
shot his commanding officer 2Lt. Frederick Esquita with his armalite rifle hitting and
sustaining upon 2Lt. Frederick Esquita multiple gunshot wounds on his body which
caused his instantaneous death.
With the aggravating circumstance of killing, 2Lt. Frederick Esquita in disregard of
his rank.4

On September 12, 2002, upon arraignment, petitioner, duly assisted by counsel de


parte, pleaded not guilty to the charge of Homicide. Respondent Judge set the pre-
trial conference and trial on October 8, 2002.5

However, on the same day and after the arraignment, the respondent judge issued
another Order,6 likewise dated September 12, 2002, directing the trial prosecutor to
correct and amend the Information to Murder in view of the aggravating
circumstance of disregard of rank alleged in the Information which public respondent
registered as having qualified the crime to Murder.

Acting upon such Order, the prosecutor entered his amendment by crossing out the
word "Homicide" and instead wrote the word "Murder" in the caption and in the
opening paragraph of the Information. The accusatory portion remained exactly the
same as that of the original Information for Homicide, with the correction of the
spelling of the victim’s name from "Escuita" to "Escueta."7

On October 8, 2002, the date scheduled for pre-trial conference and trial, petitioner
was to be re-arraigned for the crime of Murder. Counsel for petitioner objected on
the ground that the latter would be placed in double jeopardy, considering that his
Homicide case had been terminated without his express consent, resulting in the
dismissal of the case. As petitioner refused to enter his plea on the amended
Information for Murder, the public respondent entered for him a plea of not guilty. 8

On October 28, 2002, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash with Motion to Suspend
Proceedings Pending the Resolution of the Instant Motion9 on the ground of double
jeopardy. Petitioner alleged that in the Information for Homicide, he was validly
indicted and arraigned before a competent court, and the case was terminated
without his express consent; that when the case for Homicide was terminated
without his express consent, the subsequent filing of the Information for Murder in
lieu of Homicide placed him in double jeopardy.

In an Order10 dated October 25, 2002,11 the respondent judge denied the Motion to
Quash. He ruled that a claim of former acquittal or conviction does not constitute
double jeopardy and cannot be sustained unless judgment was rendered acquitting
or convicting the defendant in the former prosecution; that petitioner was never
acquitted or convicted of Homicide, since the Information for Homicide was merely
corrected/or amended before trial commenced and did not terminate the same; that
the Information for Homicide was patently insufficient in substance, so no valid
proceedings could be taken thereon; and that with the allegation of aggravating
circumstance of "disregard of rank," the crime of Homicide is qualified to Murder.
Petitioner filed a Motion to Inhibit with attached Motion for Reconsideration. In his
Motion to Inhibit, he alleged that the respondent judge exercised jurisdiction in an
arbitrary, capricious and partial manner in mandating the amendment of the charge
from Homicide to Murder in disregard of the provisions of the law and existing
jurisprudence.

In his Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner reiterated that the case against him was
dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent, which constitutes a
ground to quash the information for murder; and that to try him again for the same
offense constitutes double jeopardy. Petitioner stated that contrary to respondent
judge's conclusion that disregard of rank qualifies the killing to Murder, it is a generic
aggravating circumstance which only serves to affect the imposition of the period of
the penalty. Petitioner also argued that the amendment and/or correction ordered by
the respondent judge was substantial; and under Section 14, Rule 110 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, this cannot be done, since petitioner had
already been arraigned and he would be placed in double jeopardy.

In his Order dated December 18, 2002,12 the respondent judge denied the Motion to
Inhibit and granted the Motion for Reconsideration, thus:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motion to Inhibit is hereby DENIED


while the Motion for Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED.

Unless ordered otherwise by the Highest Court, the presiding judge shall continue
hearing this case. Further, the Order dated October 25, 2002 is reconsidered and
the original information charging the crime of homicide stands.13

In granting the Motion for Reconsideration, respondent judge found that a close
scrutiny of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code shows that "disregard of rank" is
merely a generic mitigating14 circumstance which should not elevate the
classification of the crime of homicide to murder.

On April 30, 2003, petitioner filed herein petition for certiorari on the following
grounds:

THE RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION AND


EXCEEDED HIS JURISDICTION IN ORDERING THE AMENDMENT OF
THE INFORMATION FROM HOMICIDE TO MURDER.

THE RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION AND


VIOLATED THE LAW IN DENYING THE MOTION TO QUASH THE
INFORMATION FOR MURDER.

THE RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION AND


EXCEEDED HIS JURISDICTION AND VIOLATED THE LAW IN ORDERING
THE REINSTATEMENT OF THE INFORMATION FOR HOMICIDE WHICH
WAS ALREADY TERMINATED.15

Petitioner alleges that despite having entered his plea of not guilty to the charge of
Homicide, the public respondent ordered the amendment of the Information from
Homicide to Murder because of the presence of the aggravating circumstance of
"disregard of rank," which is in violation of Section 14, Rule 110 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure; that the public respondent’s ruling that "disregard of
rank" is a qualifying aggravating circumstance which qualified the killing of 2Lt.
Escueta to murder is erroneous since, under paragraph 3, Article 14 of the Revised
Penal Code, disregard of rank is only a generic aggravating circumstance which
serves to affect the penalty to be imposed upon the accused and does not qualify
the offense into a more serious crime; that even assuming that disregard of rank is a
qualifying aggravating circumstance, such is a substantial amendment which is not
allowed after petitioner has entered his plea.

Petitioner next contends that the respondent judge gravely abused his discretion
when he denied the Motion to Quash the Information for Murder, considering that
the original Information for Homicide filed against him was terminated without his
express consent; thus, prosecuting him for the same offense would place him in
double jeopardy.

Petitioner further argues that although the respondent judge granted his Motion for
Reconsideration, he did not in fact grant the motion, since petitioner's prayer was for
the respondent judge to grant the Motion to Quash the Information for Murder on the
ground of double jeopardy; that his Motion for Reconsideration did not seek the
reinstatement of the Information for Homicide upon the dismissal of the Information
for Murder, as he would again be placed in double jeopardy; thus, the respondent
judge committed grave abuse of discretion in reinstating the Homicide case.

In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that the respondent judge's Order
reinstating the Information to Homicide after initially motu proprio ordering its
amendment to Murder renders herein petition moot and academic; that petitioner
failed to establish the fourth element of double jeopardy, i.e., the defendant was
acquitted or convicted, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise
terminated without his consent; that petitioner confuses amendment with substitution
of Information; that the respondent judge's Order dated September 12, 2002
mandated an amendment of the Information as provided under Section 14, Rule 110
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure; and that amendments do not entail
dismissal or termination of the previous case.

Private respondent Col. Olimpio Escueta, father of the victim, filed his Comment
alleging that no grave abuse of discretion was committed by the respondent judge
when he denied petitioner's Motion to Quash the Amended Information, as petitioner
was not placed in double jeopardy; that the proceedings under the first Information
for homicide has not yet commenced, and the case was not dismissed or terminated
when the Information was amended.

In his Reply, petitioner reiterates his contention that the amendment of the charge of
Homicide to Murder after his arraignment would place him in double jeopardy,
considering that said amendment was without his express consent; and that such
amendment was tantamount to a termination of the charge of Homicide.

The parties filed their respective Memoranda.

Generally, a direct resort to us in a petition for certiorari is highly improper, for it


violates the established policy of strict observance of the judicial hierarchy of courts.
However, the judicial hierarchy of courts is not an iron-clad rule.16 A strict application
of the rule of hierarchy of courts is not necessary when the cases brought before the
appellate courts do not involve factual but legal questions.17

In the present case, petitioner submits pure questions of law involving the proper
legal interpretation of the provisions on amendment and substitution of information
under the Rules of Court. It also involves the issue of double jeopardy, one of the
fundamental rights of the citizens under the Constitution which protects the accused
not against the peril of second punishment but against being tried for the same
offense. These important legal questions and in order to prevent further delay in the
trial of the case warrant our relaxation of the policy of strict observance of the judicial
hierarchy of courts.

The Court’s Ruling

The petition is not meritorious.

We find no merit in petitioner's contention that the respondent judge committed


grave abuse of discretion in amending the Information after petitioner had already
pleaded not guilty to the charge in the Information for Homicide. The argument of
petitioner --

Considering the fact that the case for Homicide against him was already terminated
without his express consent, he cannot anymore be charged and arraigned for
Murder which involve the same offense. The petitioner argued that the termination of
the information for Homicide without his express consent is equivalent to his
acquittal. Thus, to charge him again, this time for Murder, is tantamount to placing
the petitioner in Double Jeopardy.18

is not plausible. Petitioner confuses the procedure and effects of amendment or


substitution under Section 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, to wit --
SEC. 14. Amendment or substitution. — A complaint or information may be
amended, in form or in substance, without leave of court, at any time before the
accused enters his plea. After the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment
may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing
prejudice to the rights of the accused.

xxx

If it appears at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging
the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the original complaint or information upon
the filing of a new one charging the proper offense in accordance with Rule 119,
Section 11, provided the accused would not be placed thereby in double jeopardy,
and may also require the witnesses to give bail for their appearance at the trial.

with Section 19, Rule 119 of which provides:

SEC. 19. When mistake has been made in charging the proper offense. - When it
becomes manifest at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in
charging the proper offense and the accused cannot be convicted of the offense
charged or any other offense necessarily included therein, the accused shall not be
discharged if there appears good cause to detain him. In such case, the court shall
commit the accused to answer for the proper offense and dismiss the original case
upon the filing of the proper information.

First, a distinction shall be made between amendment and substitution under


Section 14, Rule 110. For this purpose, Teehankee v. Madayag19 is instructive, viz:

The first paragraph provides the rules for amendment of the information or
complaint, while the second paragraph refers to the substitution of the information or
complaint.

It may accordingly be posited that both amendment and substitution of the


information may be made before or after the defendant pleads, but they differ in the
following respects:

1. Amendment may involve either formal or substantial changes, while


substitution necessarily involves a substantial change from the original
charge;

2. Amendment before plea has been entered can be effected without leave of
court, but substitution of information must be with leave of court as the original
information has to be dismissed;

3. Where the amendment is only as to form, there is no need for another


preliminary investigation and the retaking of the plea of the accused; in
substitution of information, another preliminary investigation is entailed and
the accused has to plead anew to the new information; and

4. An amended information refers to the same offense charged in the original


information or to an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily
included in the original charge, hence substantial amendments to the
information after the plea has been taken cannot be made over the objection
of the accused, for if the original information would be withdrawn, the accused
could invoke double jeopardy. On the other hand, substitution requires or
presupposes that the new information involves a different offense which does
not include or is not necessarily included in the original charge, hence the
accused cannot claim double jeopardy.

In determining, therefore, whether there should be an amendment under the first


paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, or a substitution of information under the second
paragraph thereof, the rule is that where the second information involves the same
offense, or an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the
first information, an amendment of the information is sufficient; otherwise, where the
new information charges an offense which is distinct and different from that initially
charged, a substitution is in order.

There is identity between the two offenses when the evidence to support a
conviction for one offense would be sufficient to warrant a conviction for the other, or
when the second offense is exactly the same as the first, or when the second
offense is an attempt to commit or a frustration of, or when it necessarily includes or
is necessarily included in, the offense charged in the first information. In this
connection, an offense may be said to necessarily include another when some of the
essential elements or ingredients of the former, as this is alleged in the information,
constitute the latter. And, vice-versa, an offense may be said to be necessarily
included in another when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or form a
part of those constituting the latter.20

In the present case, the change of the offense charged from Homicide to Murder is
merely a formal amendment and not a substantial amendment or a substitution as
defined in Teehankee.

While the amended Information was for Murder, a reading of the Information shows
that the only change made was in the caption of the case; and in the opening
paragraph or preamble of the Information, with the crossing out of word "Homicide"
and its replacement by the word "Murder." There was no change in the recital of
facts constituting the offense charged or in the determination of the jurisdiction of the
court. The averments in the amended Information for Murder are exactly the same
as those already alleged in the original Information for Homicide, as there was not at
all any change in the act imputed to petitioner, i.e., the killing of 2Lt. Escueta without
any qualifying circumstance. Thus, we find that the amendment made in the caption
and preamble from "Homicide" to "Murder" as purely formal.21

Section 14, Rule 110 also provides that in allowing formal amendments in cases in
which the accused has already pleaded, it is necessary that the amendments do not
prejudice the rights of the accused. The test of whether the rights of an accused are
prejudiced by the amendment of a complaint or information is whether a defense
under the complaint or information, as it originally stood, would no longer be
available after the amendment is made; and when any evidence the accused might
have would be inapplicable to the complaint or information.22 Since the facts alleged
in the accusatory portion of the amended Information are identical with those of the
original Information for Homicide, there could not be any effect on the prosecution's
theory of the case; neither would there be any possible prejudice to the rights or
defense of petitioner.

While the respondent judge erroneously thought that "disrespect on account of rank"
qualified the crime to murder, as the same was only a generic aggravating
circumstance,23 we do not find that he committed any grave abuse of discretion in
ordering the amendment of the Information after petitioner had already pleaded not
guilty to the charge of Homicide, since the amendment made was only formal and
did not adversely affect any substantial right of petitioner.

Next, we determine whether petitioner was placed in double jeopardy by the change
of the charge from Homicide to Murder; and subsequently, from Murder back to
Homicide. Petitioner's claim that the respondent judge committed grave abuse of
discretion in denying his Motion to Quash the Amended Information for Murder on
the ground of double jeopardy is not meritorious.

Petitioner's Motion to Quash was anchored on Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of
Court, which provides:

SEC. 3. Grounds. - The accused may move to quash the complaint or information
on any of the following grounds:

xxxx

(i) That the accused has been previously convicted or acquitted of the offense
charged, or the case against him was dismissed or otherwise terminated without his
express consent.

Section 7 of the same Rule lays down the requisites in order that the defense of
double jeopardy may prosper, to wit:

SEC. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. — When an accused has


been convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise
terminated without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a
valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and
substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge,
the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar
to another prosecution for the offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the
same or frustration thereof, or for any offense which necessarily includes or is
necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information.

Thus, there is double jeopardy when the following requisites are present: (1) a first
jeopardy attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy has been validly
terminated; and (3) a second jeopardy is for the same offense as in the first. 24

As to the first requisite, the first jeopardy attaches only (a) after a valid indictment;
(b) before a competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) when a valid plea has been
entered; and (e) when the accused was acquitted or convicted, or the case was
dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent.25

It is the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal or termination of the


case that bars further prosecution for the same offense or any attempt to commit the
same or the frustration thereof; or prosecution for any offense which necessarily
includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or
information.26

Petitioner's insistence that the respondent judge dismissed or terminated his case
for homicide without his express consent, which is tantamount to an acquittal, is
misplaced.

Dismissal of the first case contemplated by Section 7 presupposes a definite or


unconditional dismissal which terminates the case.27 And for the dismissal to be a
bar under the jeopardy clause, it must have the effect of acquittal.1 âwphi 1

The respondent judge's Order dated September 12, 2002 was for the trial prosecutor
to correct and amend the Information but not to dismiss the same upon the filing of a
new Information charging the proper offense as contemplated under the last
paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court -- which, for convenience,
we quote again --

If it appears at anytime before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging
the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the original complaint or information upon
the filing of a new one charging the proper offense in accordance with section 19,
Rule 119, provided the accused shall not be placed in double jeopardy. The court
may require the witnesses to give bail for their appearance at the trial.

and Section 19, Rule 119, which provides:


SEC. 19.- When mistake has been made in charging the proper offense - When it
becomes manifest at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in
charging the proper offense and the accused cannot be convicted of the offense
charged or any other offense necessarily included therein, the accused shall not be
discharged if there appears good cause to detain him. In such case, the court shall
commit the accused to answer for the proper offense and dismiss the original case
upon the filing of the proper information.

Evidently, the last paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, applies only when the offense
charged is wholly different from the offense proved, i.e., the accused cannot be
convicted of a crime with which he was not charged in the information even if it be
proven, in which case, there must be a dismissal of the charge and a substitution of
a new information charging the proper offense. Section 14 does not apply to a
second information, which involves the same offense or an offense which
necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the first information. In this
connection, the offense charged necessarily includes the offense proved when some
of the essential elements or ingredients of the former, as alleged in the complaint or
information, constitute the latter. And an offense charged is necessarily included in
the offense proved when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or form a
part of those constituting the latter.28

Homicide is necessarily included in the crime of murder; thus, the respondent judge
merely ordered the amendment of the Information and not the dismissal of the
original Information. To repeat, it was the same original information that was
amended by merely crossing out the word "Homicide" and writing the word "Murder,"
instead, which showed that there was no dismissal of the homicide case.

Anent the last issue, petitioner contends that respondent judge gravely abused his
discretion in ordering that the original Information for Homicide stands after realizing
that disregard of rank does not qualify the killing to Murder. That ruling was again a
violation of his right against double jeopardy, as he will be prosecuted anew for a
charge of Homicide, which has already been terminated earlier.

We are not convinced. Respondent judge did not commit any grave abuse of
discretion.

A reading of the Order dated December 18, 2002 showed that the respondent judge
granted petitioner's motion for reconsideration, not on the ground that double
jeopardy exists, but on his realization that "disregard of rank" is a generic
aggravating circumstance which does not qualify the killing of the victim to murder.
Thus, he rightly corrected himself by reinstating the original Information for
Homicide. The requisite of double jeopardy that the first jeopardy must have
attached prior to the second is not present, considering that petitioner was neither
convicted nor acquitted; nor was the case against him dismissed or otherwise
terminated without his express consent.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED, there being no grave abuse of discretion
committed by respondent Judge.

SO ORDERED.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

G.R. No. 129254 July 22, 1999

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
RICARDO JANAIRO y BACOMO, accused-appellant.

PANGANIBAN, J.:

When self-defense is invoked, the accused must establish clearly and


convincingly all of the following: 1) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim, 2)
reasonable necessity for the means employed to prevent or repel it, and 3) no
sufficient provocation on the part of the defendant. Having admitted responsibility for
the killing, the accused has the burden of proving the foregoing elements. Self-
defense collapses upon failure to discharge this burden.

The Case

Ricardo Janairo appeals the December 12, 1996 Decision 1 of the Regional Trial
Court (Branch 49) of Puerto Princesa City, which convicted him of homicide and
sentenced him to reclusion perpetua.

On November 13, 1992, an Information 2 was filed charging appellant with murder
allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 24th day of October, 1992, in the afternoon, at the
Palawan State College [PSC] Compound, Barangay Tiniguiban, Puerto
Princesa City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the said accused, with treachery and evident premeditation, with
intent to kill and while armed with a deadly, weapon, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously assault, attack and stab one
Bencibeis 3 Aguilar, thereby inflicting upon the latter [a stab] wound on
the chest, which was the direct and immediate cause of his death. 4
Upon his arraignment on November 27, 1992, appellant entered a plea of not
guilty. 5 Thereafter, Counsel de PartePerfecto de los Reyes filed a Motion for
Reconsideration 6 praying for reinvestigation, insisting that the charge should be
changed to homicide. During the pre-trial on January 11, 1992, the lower court
denied this Motion. Subsequently, the assistant city prosecutor filed a Motion to
downgrade the crime charged from murder to homicide. Noting the conformity of the
wife of the deceased, the court a quo issued an Order amending the Information by
crossing out the phrase "with treachery and evident premeditation." Arraigned
again 8 on April 13, 1993, appellant pleaded "not guilty." Trial ensued. Thereafter, the
lower court promulgated its assailed Decision, 9 the dispositive part of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds that the


[p]rosecution has proven Ricardo Janairo guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of [h]omicide and sentences him to suffer the
penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA with all its accessory penalties
and to pay the heirs of Bencibeis Aguilar actual damages in the amount
of P39,789.26 and P50,000.00 as compensation for the death of
Bencibeis Aguilar. 10

Hence, this appeal. 11

The Facts

Version of the Prosecution

In its Brief, 12 the prosecution presents its version of the facts of the case in this wise:

At about four o'clock in the afternoon of October 24, 1992[,] Bencebeis


"Pakay" Aguilar was walking towards his house inside the PSC
Compound, Puerto Princesa City. Ricardo Janairo was walking towards
Aguilar. When the two met at a certain point near Aguilar's house,
Janairo suddenly stabbed Aguilar with a blade and immediately ran
away. 1 âwphi 1.nê t

Aguilar managed to walk to his house where he fell in front of the stairs.
He was brought to the hospital in San Pedro but he [eventually] died of
the mortal wounds he sustained. The blade entered through the
anterior left chest penetrating the heart.

Previous to said incident, the two men had figured in an altercation.


Janairo had asked permission from Aguilar, who was the guard on duty
at the PSC gate, if he could bring a tricycle inside the compound. The
request was denied by the latter. An exchange of words followed and
ended with Janairo making a threat: "Babalikan ka namin." 13 (citations
omitted).
Version of the Defense

On the other hand, the Appellant's Brief 14


narrates the facts in the following manner:

The case arose out of an incident which transpired on October 24,


1992 while accused was on his way out of the PSC Compound, where
the accused met Bencebeis Aguilar. Bencebeis Aguilar berated
Ricardo Janairo by calling the latter "son of a bitch, you are a brat".

Mr. Aguilar, by his words and facial expression, was drunk[.] This
triggered an altercation between the two. For as testified by witness
Erma Denalo, 15 at about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon of October 24,
1992, while she and Dina Mediodia were passing by [the] PSC
compound, they saw two persons having an altercation as their action
and tone of their voice [showed]. Elma Denalo came to know that the
bigger one was Pakay Aguilar and the small one Ricardo Janairo. They
were having an altercation facing each other. When Elma Denalo and
companion were more or less 1 1/2 meters near the two persons
having an altercation, she saw the two grapple for the possession of
the knife.

Ricardo Janairo testified that Bencebeis Aguilar likewise stabbed him


with a knife, but he was able to parry the same. Thereafter, they both
grappled for the possession of the knife. Ricardo Janairo was holding
the hand of Bencebeis Aguilar and the latter likewise. Thereafter,
Ricardo Janairo fell on top of Mr. Bencebeis Aguilar. After [that], the
former stood up as did the latter[.]

It was when the two of them fell that Bencebeis Aguilar was wounded.
And afterwards, Ricardo Janairo stood up. Bencebeis Aguilar did
likewise[,] after which, the latter again stabbed the former.

Fortunately, Ricardo Janairo was not hit[.] Bencebeis Aguilar was


drunk, as per his acts, voice and physical appearance[.] Had Ricardo
Janairo wanted to kill Bencebeis Aguilar, he could have done it while
the latter was down on the ground. Ricardo Janairo ran away after the
second stab because he was afraid to be wounded and, because he
had no intention to kill Bencebeis Aguilar[.] 16 (citations omitted)

Ruling of the Trial Court

The lower court pointed out that the "more crucial issue is whether or not the
stabbing was intentional." In convicting appellant, the trial court ratiocinated as
follows:
Examining the evidence for both parties, the Court finds [the
p]rosecution evidence to be the more credible. The occurrence of the
fight is [actually] not inconsistent with [p]rosecution's version of the
event, because it [was] not improbable that before Janairo was actually
able to stab Aguilar, they had grappled for possession of the knife. At
any rate, Aguilar must have put up some resistance, which constituted
the fight witnessed by [d]efense witnesses. The more plausible flow of
events then, was that, upon encountering each other along the path,
both accused and victim had an exchange of words which led [the]
accused to draw a knife and stab the victim after the scuffle. The
testimony of the accused is evasive and inconsistent. At first, he
testified that after he and Aguilar had fallen to the ground, Aguilar got
up and tried to stab him again, prompting him to run away. He claimed
that at the time he ran away, he did not know that Aguilar had been
wounded. Yet, he later testified that when arrested by authorities, he
protested because he "had no intention to kill" Aguilar which could only
[im]ply that he knew that Aguilar had been wounded. In fact, he knew
enough to recall that when he fell on top of Aguilar, the blade of the
knife was facing towards Aguilar.

The testimony of Elma Denaco, the only witness who claims to have
seen Aguilar produce the knife which eventually killed him, ha[d] its
share of improbabilities. By her own account, when she and her
companion saw accused and Aguilar grappling for the knife, they ran
away through the PSC gate. Apparently, they did not bother to report
the violent incident to the police, or even to the security guard [at] the
PSC gate where they passed going home. Then, when she learned
that Janairo was accused of killing Aguilar, she immediately went to
have her statement taken by Atty. Perfecto de los Reyes. She was told
to return in December to have her statement taken. The witness
provides no explanation for her apparent reluctance to report the
incident to the police authorities, which would have been the more
natural course of action, considering the violent and serious nature of
the incident.

Given the evasiveness and improbability contained in defense witness


testimonies: [the p]rosecution has presented the clearer and more
credible case; Between the [p]rosecution eye-witnesses who [were]
disinterested and [did] not stand to gain or lose by Janairo's conviction,
and the accused himself, it [was] the former who would probably give
the more accurate version of the incident. 17 (citations omitted)

The Issues

Appellant raises the following issues:


The lower court erred:

1. In holding that the accused stabbed the victim


intentionally;

2. In not holding that the accused stabbed the victim in


self-defense;

3. In upholding the validity of the proceedings, when at


one point in time, the accused was assisted by a lawyer
who was an American citizen;

4. In imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua upon the


accused. 18

The main issue is whether or not he proved the elements of self-defense.

The Court's Ruling

The appeal is partially granted. The trial court correctly convicted appellant of
homicide, but erred in sentencing him to reclusion perpetua.

Preliminary Issues:

Validity of Court Proceedings

The Information

After the arraignment on November 27, 1992, the Information was amended. The
charge was "down grad[ed]" 19from murder to homicide, and the phrase "with
treachery and evident premeditation" was crossed out from the Information: Without
questioning the amendment, appellant entered a plea of not guilty. Under Rule 110
of the Rules of Court, however, only formal amendments are allowed after the
arraignment of the accused.

Sec. 14. Amendment. — The information or complaint may be


amended, in substance or form, without leave of court, at any time
before the accused pleads; and thereafter and during the trial as to all
matters of form, by leave and at the discretion of the court, when the
same can be done without prejudice to the rights of the accused.

xxx xxx xxx (emphasis supplied).

By implication, amendments as to substance are precluded after the accused has


entered a plea. 20 The amendment made here was undoubtedly a matter of
substance, for the nature of the crime was altered from murder to homicide.
Nonetheless, the Court sustains the validity of the proceedings.

Sec. 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, does not bar substantial amendments that
are beneficial to the accused. Consistent with the constitutionally enshrined rights to
be informed of the nature of charges and to be accorded due process, the rule aims
to protect the accused from prejudicial machinations that change the game
midstream. 21 In this case, the amendment benefited 22 the appellant. The
amendment did not prejudice him or deprive him of defenses available before the
amendment. 23

Moreover, appellant not merely consented to the amendment; in fact, he sought it.
Indeed, the defense counsel had filed a Motion for Reinvestigation, praying that the
charge of murder be changed to homicide. "Objection to the amendment of an
information or complaint must be raised at the time the amendment is made[;]
otherwise [appellant's] silence would be deemed consent on his part to the
amendment. 24

Right to Counsel

Appellant contends that he was deprived of his right to counsel, arguing that he was
represented by Atty. de los Reyes, who was an American citizen with no authority
from the Supreme Court to practice law. He was in fact prohibited by the court a
quo from appearing before it. 25

We disagree. It should be noted that the appellant was present when the lower court
issued its Order prohibiting Atty. de los Reyes from appearing before the court.
Appellant, however, insisted on being represented by the said counsel. As pointed
out by the Office of the Solicitor General, appellant "took full advantage of the one
year gap between the hearing held on May 19, 1995 and the last hearing held on
March 1, 1994, banking on the short memory of the court and the fact that: 1) at the
time this case was heard on May 19, 1995, a new judge had been assigned to RTC
Branch 49, Judge Panfilo Salva and, 2) Atty. Vigonte of the PAO was no longer the
counsel assigned to this case." 26

More important, appellant was not prejudiced in any way by his own disregard of the
court Order. In all stages of this case, he was represented by counsel either de
parte or de oficio. When he was arraigned again under the Amended Information, he
was assisted by Counsel de Oficio Atty. Reynado Vigonte. During the trial that
followed the said lawyer continued defending him. In any event, all the pieces of
evidence presented by the defense were considered by the lower court.

Because the appellant was neither prejudiced nor deprived of his right to counsel,
there is no basis to invalidate the proceedings below.
Main Issue:

Self-Defense

Invoking self-defense is admitting authorship of the killing. Hence, the burden of


proof shifts to the accused, who must establish with clear convincing evidence all of
these elements of the justifying circumstance: 27 (1) unlawful aggression on the part
of the victim, (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it,
and (3) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person resorting to self-
defense. 28

Herein appellant, however, failed to demonstrate the foregoing elements clearly and
convincingly. 29 As the lower court observed, the testimonies of the defense
witnesses were improbable, inconsistent and unworthy of belief.

Appellant presented Defense Witnesses Dina Mediodia and Elena Denaco to


establish unlawful aggression on the part of Bencebeis Aguilar. 30 Elena testified that
she was with her first cousin Dina when she saw the appellant and the victim
"grappling" for the knife that the victim had allegedly drawn after a heated
discussion. 31 But this was contradicted by Dina, who clearly stated that after they,
saw the deceased draw a knife, both of them immediately ran away without knowing
what transpired afterwards. 32

Assuming arguendo that these witnesses indeed saw the victim pull out a knife, this
fact alone did not establish unlawful aggression, since the victim was not shown to
have used the deadly weapon to attack the appellant. 33Unlawful aggression refers to
an attack or material aggression, an offensive act positively showing the intent of the
aggressor to cause injury. 34 It presupposes an actual, sudden and unexpected
attack, or an imminent danger thereof, not merely a threatening or an intimidating
attitude. 35 These, the two witnesses failed to demonstrate.

Moreover, the testimonies of these defense witnesses were far from convincing.
They claimed that, after the incident, they executed a statement before Atty. de los
Reyes because they wanted to help the appellant. Elena admitted, however, that
despite their knowledge that a case had been filed before the fiscal, neither she nor
Dina submitted any affidavit to help the appellant during the preliminary
investigation. 36 This was improbable, because Elena and appellant's family were
neighbors at the time, and the latter's mother was a friend. 37

Even the testimonies of Defense Witnesses Percival Lesias and Sylvio Bacaser did
not help establish unlawful aggression. Lesias merely stated that he saw two
individuals quarreling. Bacaser, on the other hand testified that he saw two
individuals who seemed to be "embracing each other," after which both fell down.
Thereupon, the one with a smaller build stood up and ran away, while the one with a
bigger build remained on the ground. 38 Neither testified that he had seen Bencebeis
Aguilar attack appellant with a knife.

The only point clearly established by these four defense witnesses was that there
was a scuffle. But our conclusion remains unaffected. As clarified by the court a quo,
"Aguilar must have put up some resistance, which constituted the fight witness by
the defense witnesses." 39

Appellant's testimony, on the other hand, was characterized by the trial court as
"evasive and inconsistent." 40During cross-examination, he testified that he did not
drink during the christening of his nephew on that fateful day, October 24,
1992. 41 Later on, he retracted and admitted that he did drink during the
celebration. 42 He also stated that after he fell on top of the victim while struggling for
the knife, both of them stood up and Aguilar tried to stab him again. 43 On cross-
examination, he contradicted himself by testifying that the victim was still lying on the
ground when the latter tried to stab him again. 44 His assertion — that after he fell on
top of the deceased; both of them stood up and Aguilar tried to stab him again —
was also belied by the testimony of Defense Witness Sylvio Bacaser who stated that
the victim remained lying down. 45

Moreover, his testimony was contrary to the evidence in this case. He tried in vain to
show that he was threatened with a gun by the allegedly drunk Aguilar. 46 But his
testimony was not corroborated by any witness; equally important, no gun was
recovered from the crime scene. Likewise, the testimonies of Prosecution Witnesses
Johanna dela Cruz, Ricardo dela Cruz, Estrella Aguilar and Crisostomo Arenio all
clearly showed that the victim did not have a gun.

When the appellant was asked to demonstrate how he managed to parry and twist
the knife towards the victim without injuring himself, his reenactment and
subsequent testimony showed that the wound was in the stomach area; that is, the
lower abdomen. 47 He testified thus:

ATTY. DE LOS REYES:

Q You stated a while ago that you were blocked by the


victim and that he tried to stab you and you parr[i]ed it and
you grappled for the possession of the weapon[.] [W]ill you
please demonstrate by going down the witness stand.

COURT:

All right, for this purpose we will make the court Interpreter
. . . ac[t] as the victim.

(WITNESS going down the witness stand)


COURT INTERPRETER:

[(]At this juncture, the witness [went] down and showed to


the Court how he was blocked, stabbed by the victim and
[how] he parr[i]ed and grappled for the possession of the
knife and the Court Interpreter acted as the victim as the
witness demonstrated . . . how he was blocked and how
he parried the stab and how he gr[a]ppled[,] [the] witness
about side by side [with] the victim on the right side of the
victim[.] He was held by the victim by his left hand and [i]n
that position the witness parr[i]ed with his right hand[,]
parrying the left hand of the victim[.)] And after parrying
then he stabbed me [appellant] and after stabbing me I
parried the stab by holding his hand and twist[ing] [it.] [I]n
twisting the hand [,] the point of the knife was pointed to
the victim then [I] pushed him and we fell down on the
ground.

ATTY DE LOS REYES:

(to witness)

Q When you fell down to the ground, how about the


knife[,] did it strike the victim or not?

A Yes sir.

COURT

(to witness)

Q That knife wounded the victim?

A Yes your Honor.

ATTY DE LOS REYES

(to witness)

Q Then you f[e]ll down already and you were at the top as
you said?

A Yes sir.

Q What did you do next?


A I stood up, sir.

Q What did you do after standing up?

A Bencebeis Aguilar stood up and also stabbed me.

Q Were you hit?

A No, sir.

Q What did you do when you were not hit?

A I ran away, sir.

COURT:

I just want this clarified.

(to witness)

Q [W]hat part of the stomach of the victim was hit by the


knife?

A I am not certain in what part of the stomach of the


victim[,] the mere fact that when both of us fell down to the
ground. [sic] knife?

Q But you are sure that the [wound] was somewhere


within the stomach [area,] but you were not sure where it
hit?

A Yes your Honor. (emphasis supplied)

The foregoing testimony is belied by the physical evidence showing that the wound
was located in the upper part of the chest area as clearly shown by the testimony of
Dr. Manuel R. Bilog, who conducted the autopsy on Aguilar.48 It was also unlikely
that appellant, without sustaining any injury, managed to parry several knife attacks,
and subsequently to wrest and twist the same towards the victim. 49

Appellant's claim is further negated by his flight from the scene of the crime. 50 In
fact, he admitted that he had not even considered surrendering to the police. 51 If his
claim of self-defense were true, he should have immediately reported the incident to
the proper authorities 52 instead of running around for an hour and then staying inside
his parents' house while the authorities were already looking for him. Our
jurisprudence has repeatedly taught that flight is an indication of guilt. 53 The
inevitable conclusion from all the foregoing is that appellant stabbed the victim with
the intention of killing him.

Indeed, "[a] plea of self-defense cannot be justifiably appreciated, where it is not


only uncorroborated by independent and competent evidence, but also extremely
doubtful by itself." 54 The doubt engendered by the assertions of the appellant is
amplified by his claim that he did not "intentionally" stab Aguilar. This vacillation
invariably shows the weakness of his defense. 55 All in all, appellant failed to
establish with clear and convincing evidence the existence of the unlawful
aggression. Without unlawful aggression, there can be no self-defense.

Accident

The appellant also maintained before the lower court that the stabbing of the victim
was merely an accident; that is, it was not intentional. It must be stressed that the
accused has the burden of proving the elements of this exempting circumstance.
He must show the following with clear and convincing evidence: 1) he was
performing a lawful act with due care, 2) the injury caused was by a mere accident,
and 3) he had no fault or intention of causing the
injury. 56 None of these was supported by the evidence on record. As has been noted
by the Court, "the failure of the accused to prove self-defense belies his claim that
he was performing a lawful act" — one of the essential elements of the exempting
circumstance of accident. 57

Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence

We agree with the lower court that the evidence for the prosecution establishes the
culpability of the appellant. Two disinterested eyewitnesses, Ricardo de la Cruz and
Johanna de la Cruz, testified that when the appellant met Aguilar near the PSC gate
while the latter was headed towards his house, the former stabbed Aguilar then ran
away towards Barangay Sandiwa.

Ricardo dela Cruz testified: 58

Q While this Bencibeis Aguilar was going home on that


afternoon of October 24, 1992, kindly tell the Honorable
Court if there was any unusual incident happened that
particular time and date?

A There was Ma'am.

Q Will you kindly tell the Honorable Court what was that?

A He met this Ricardo Janairo.


Q Will you kindly tell the Honorable Court . . . where this
Ricardo Janairo ca[m]e from before he met this Bencibeis
Aguilar as you said?

A Yes, Ma'am.

Q Where then [did] this Ricardo Janairo c[o]me from?

A [From] the house of his father.

Q You mean to impress [sic] that the father of Ricardo


Janairo was also residing at the PSC Compound at Puerto
Princesa City?

A Yes, Ma'am.

Q You made mention of this Ricardo Janairo. If this


person is inside the courtroom, will you be able to point
[to] him?

A Yes, Ma'am.

Q Kindly look inside the courtroom and point to the person


whom you know as Ricardo Janairo?

INTERPRETER:

The man pointed to by the witness when asked his name


identified himself as Ricardo Janairo.

PROSECUTOR:

xxx xxx xxx

Q When this Ricardo Janairo met B(e)ncibeis Aguilar do


you know what happened, if any?

A When this Ricardo Janairo and Bencibeis Aguilar met


with each other, this Ricardo Janairo immediately stabbed
this Bencibeis Aguilar and after stabbing he ran away.

xxx xxx xxx

Q Can you tell the Honorable Court how many thrust[s


were] made by Ricardo Janairo to Bencibeis Aguilar?
A Only one, Ma'am.

Q Do you know if Bencibeis Aguilar [was] hit?

A Yes, Ma'am.

Q And do you know what happened to Bencibeis Aguilar


after he was hit by the one thrust made by Ricardo
(J)anairo?

A Yes, Ma'am.

Q What happened?

A [He was s]till walking towards home but he fell down just
in front of their stairs.

Q And you were at the time near the stairs of your house?

A Yes, Ma'am.

Q And do you know [to] what direction this Ricardo


Janairo ran away?

A I do not know what direction but he ran towards PSC.

Q And when this Bencibeis Aguilar as you said fell down


near the front of the house, what if any did you do?

A I went to the wife and informed her that her husband fell
down in front of their stairs.

Johanna dela Cruz corroborated the foregoing. Pertinent portions of her testimony
are reproduced hereunder: 59

Q And where is your home located?

A Inside the PSC Compound.

Q On October 24, 1992, do you remember of any unusual


incident that happened?

A Yes sir.

Q And what was that unusual incident, Madam Witness?


A He immediately stabbed Mr. Pakay Aguilar.

Q When you said "he", who stabbed Mr. Aguilar?

A Ricardo Janairo.

Q This Aguilar, do you know him by any . . . name other


than Mr. Pakay?

A That is the only name by which I know him.

Q You mentioned that person . . . Ricardo Janairo, as the


one who stabbed Mr. Aguilar[;] do you know this Ricardo
Janairo?

A Yes sir.

Q If you were ask[ed] to point him out, would you be able


to identify him?

A Yes sir.

INTERPRETER:

The man pointed to by the witness when asked his name


identified himself as Ricardo Janairo.

Q You said that Ricardo Janairo stabbed Mr. Aguilar,


when for the first time you saw Ricardo Janairo?

xxx xxx xxx

Q Now, Madam Witness, you said Ricardo Janairo


stabbed Mr. Aguilar[;] in relation to where you [are] sitting
now, where [was] the position of Ricardo Janairo at the
time of the stabbing?

xxx xxx xxx

A He was approaching Mr. Pakay.

Q Could you tell us if the accused was running or walking


towards Mr. Aguilar?

xxx xxx xxx


A Just walking.

Q How many seconds did it take for Ricardo Janairo to


stab Mr. Aguilar?

A He immediately stabbed Mr. Aguilar.

Q What happened after Ricardo Janairo stabbed Mr.


Aguilar?

A He ran away.

Q Who ran away, Mr. Witness?

A Ricardo Janairo.

Appellant failed to show ill motive or any other reason why the Court should
disbelieve the testimonies of the prosecution eyewitnesses. 60 Clearly, there is proof
beyond reasonable doubt that appellant, without any justification, did stab the victim.

Penalty

Art. 249 61 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes homicide with reclusion temporal.
Though it correctly found appellant guilty of this crime, the lower court erroneously
imposed reclusion perpetua on him. Interestingly, both appellant and appellee agree
that the penalty must be modified. Since no mitigating or aggravating circumstance
was proven, the proper penalty shall be imposed in its medium period. Additionally,
appellant is entitled to the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law.

Damages

One last point. To establish the civil liability of appellant, the prosecution duly proved
the following:

1. One thousand, one hundred thirty-nine pesos and


twenty-six centavos (P1,139.26) as medical expenses
paid to the Palawan Adventist Hospital.

2. Twelve thousand pesos (P12,000.00) paid to the


Sampaton Funeral Parlor.

3. Ten thousand, three hundred and sixty pesos (P10,360)


for the expenses during the wake.
4. Sixteen thousand pesos (P16,000) paid to the Puerto
Princesa Memorial Park.

5. Five pesos (5) paid to the city government of Puerto


Princesa.

Thus, the total amount of actual damages is thirty-nine thousand, five hundred four
pesos and twenty-six centavos (P39,504.26), not thirty-nine thousand, seven
hundred eighty-nine pesos and twenty-six centavos (P39,789.26) as computed by
the trial court.

We also grant the amount of fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) by way of


indemnity ex delicto to the heirs of the victim. 62 Because the wife of the deceased
testified that she suffered sadness, anxiety and sleepless night due to the sudden
demise of her husband, 63 we also allow thirty thousand pesos (P30,000) as moral
damages. 1âw phi1. nêt

WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision finding appellant GUILTY of homicide is


partially AFFIRMED, with the following MODIFICATIONS: (a) he is hereby
sentenced to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum, to a
fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as
maximum; and (b) he is ordered to pay thirty-nine thousand, five hundred four pesos
and twenty-six centavos (P39,504.26) as actual damages, fifty thousand pesos
(P50,000) as indemnity ex delicto, and thirty thousand pesos (P30,000) as moral
damages. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Romero, Vitug, Purisima and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. Nos. 221849-50, April 04, 2016

DATU GUIMID P. MATALAM, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

RESOLUTION

LEONEN, J.:

This resolves the Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Joint Decision1 dated April 28,
2015 and Resolution dated November 2, 2015 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case Nos.
26707 to 26708. The Sandiganbayan found petitioner Datu Guimid P. Matalam (Matalam) guilty
of non-remittance of the employer's share in Government Insurance System and Home
Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund) premiums.

The Office of the Ombudsman charged Matalam, Regional Secretary of the Department of
Agrarian Reform-Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (DAR-ARMM), with the commission of
crimes under "Section 52 (g) of Republic Act No. 8921, otherwise known as the [Government
Service Insurance System (GSIS)] Act of 1997, and Section 1, Rule XIII of the Implementing
Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 7742":2

Criminal Case No. 26707


(Violation of Sec. 52 (g), Republic Act No. 8291)
"That sometime in 1997, or prior to or subsequent thereto, in Cotabato City, Maguindanao,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused DATU GUIMID MATALAM,
a high-ranking public officer being the Regional Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform-
Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (DAR-ARMM), ANSARRY LAWI and NAIMAH B. UNTE,
both are low-ranking officials being the Cashier and Accountant, respectively, of the same
aforestated government office, committing the offense in relation to their official duties and
taking advantage of their official positions, conspiring together and taking advantage of their
official positions, conspiring together and helping one another, and as such accountable officers
involved in the collection and remittance of accounts to GSIS, did, there and then, willfully,
unlawfully and criminally, fail and/or refuse to pay or remit the sum of TWO MILLION FOUR
HUNDRED EIGHTEEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY-SEVEN AND 33/100 PESOS
(P2,418,577.33), representing employer's contribution of [DAR Provincial Office]-Maguindanao
for the period of January, 1997 to June 1998, to GSIS, it being due and demandable, without
justifiable cause and despite repeated demands made.
CONTRARY TO LAW."

Criminal Case No. 26708


(Violation of Sec. 1, Rule XIII of the Implementing Rules &
Regulations of Republic Act No. 7742)
"That sometime in 1997, or prior to or subsequent thereto, in Cotabato City, Maguindanao,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused DATU GUIMID MATALAM,
a high-ranking public officer being the Regional Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform-
Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (DAR-ARMM), ANSARRY LAWI and NAIMAH B. UNTE,
both are low-ranking officials being the Cashier and Accountant, respectively, of the same
aforestated government office, committing the offense in relation to their official duties and
taking advantage of their official positions, conspiring together and helping one another, and as
such accountable officers involved in the collection and remittance of accounts to Home
Development Mutual Fund (PAG-IBIG), did, there and then, willfully, unlawfully and criminally,
fail and/or refuse to pay or remit the sum of ONE HUNDRED FORTY-NINE THOUSAND ONE
HUNDRED PESOS (P149,100.00), representing employer's contribution of [DAR Provincial
Office]-Maguindanao for the period of January, 1997 to June 1998, to GSIS, it being due and
demandable, without justifiable cause and despite repeated demands made.
CONTRARY TO LAW."3 Ch an Rob lesVirt u alawlib rary

On August 11, 2003, Matalam was arraigned and he pleaded not guilty.4 On October 20, 2004,
Matalam's co-accused, Ansarry Lawi (Lawi) and Naimah B. Unte (Unte), were arraigned and they
separately pleaded not guilty.5

The Prosecution presented both documentary and testimonial evidence for both criminal
cases.6 The Prosecution presented five (5) witnesses: (1) Lilia Gamut-gamutan Delangalen,
Accountant III of the GSIS, Cotabato Branch; (2) Rolando Roque, Chief of Division under the
Member Services Division of Pag-IBIG Fund, Cotabato Branch; (3) Husain Enden Matanog, State
Auditor III of the Office of the Auditor and Resident of DAR-ARMM, DAR Regional Office; (4) Luz
Cantor-Malbog, Director of Bureau C of the Department of Budget and Management; and (5)
Abdulkadil Angas Alabat, Department Manager of the Land Bank of the Philippines, Cotabato
Branch.7
According to the Prosecution, Matalam, Lawi, and Unte were the officers involved in the collection
and remittance of accounts to the GSIS and Pag-IBIG Fund and, thus, were accountable for the
non-remittance.8 Matalam and his co-accused failed and/or refused to remit the required
contributions without justifiable cause despite repeated demands.9

Matalam, for his part, presented both testimonial and documentary evidence. He claimed that his
co-accused Lawi and Unte were responsible for remitting the GSIS and Pag-IBIG Fund
government contributions.10 Matalam presented a document entitled Fourth Indorsement dated
April 30, 1998 addressed to Lawi, directing the latter to comment or act on the Third
Indorsement of Husain Matanog. The Fourth Indorsement was signed by Atty. Tommy A. Ala,
who was then Matalam's Chief of Staff.11Matalam also presented other memoranda directing
Unte and Lawi to comment on the Indorsement of Husain Matanog.12 When asked why he did not
sanction Lawi and Unte upon their failure to comply with his directive, Matalam said that he did
not have time to do so because he had numerous pending tasks at that time.13

Lawi and Unte failed to present evidence despite the opportunities given them. 14

In the Joint Decision dated April 28, 2015, the Sandiganbayan found Matalam guilty of the
crimes charged.15

In Criminal Case No. 26707,16 the Sandiganbayan held that on July 17, 1998, Zenaida D.
Ferrer, GSIS Officer-in-Charge, sent a Notice of Underpayment to Matalam, which reads:17

We wish to inform you that we have validated your office Premium Master List as of 31
December 1997 and actual remittances for compulsory GSIS Premiums covering the month/s of
January 1997-June 1998.

Based on the Remittance Lists submitted to this office, your total actual remittances for the
above-stated period is understated per attached Statement of Account.

Due to this understatement, interests and surcharges will accrue from the due date to the time
of payment. Kindly make necessary adjustments on your next remittances.

Should there be discrepancy with the amount based on your records, please come to our office
for reconciliation.

Your cooperation on this matter is highly appreciated. 18

The Sandiganbayan found that wjth the Notice of Underpayment were six (6) Statements of
Account of Compulsory Contributions Due and Payable as of June 30, 1998, all addressed to
Matalam.19

Further, the Sandiganbayan found that the Department of Budget and Management released the
funds to the DAR-ARMM through the corresponding Advice of Notice of Cash Allocation
issued.20 According to the court:

These funds were credited to the account of the Office of the Regional Governor of the ARMM,
which had the obligation to remit to the various line agencies of the ARMM the specific amounts
provided to them. As for the remittance to DAR-ARMM, it appears based on the confirmation by
Abdulkadil Angas Alabat, the Department Manager of the Cotabato Branch of Landbank of the
Philippines, which has been the official depository of the ARMM since the latter s inception, that
the following amounts were deposited into Account No. 0372-1054-29 maintained by DAR-ARMM
for its Fund 101 [.]21 (Emphasis supplied)

Hence, the Sandiganbayan held that:


The act constituting the offense is the failure, refusal or delay in the payment, turnover,
remittance or delivery of such accounts to the GSIS within thirty (30) days from the time that
the same shall have been due and demandable.

Accused Matalam was admittedly the DAR-ARMM Secretary from January 1997 until 1998, and
also the concurrent Vice-Governor of the ARMM Region. As the DAR-ARMM Secretary from
January 1997 until 1998, [Matalam] was considered the highest official of DAR-Maguindanao. As
such he falls under the first category of responsible officials. . . The thrust of his defense shifting
the duty to remit to his co-accused, Lawi and Unte, is unavailing since these two officials fall
under the second category of officials responsible for such remittance. 22

In Criminal Case No. 26708,23 the Sandiganbayan found Matalam guilty of non-remittance of
the employer's share of Pag-IBIG Fund premiums.

According to the Sandiganbayan, under the pertinent rules and law, it is the employer who is
penalized for the non-remittance to Pag-IBIG Fund:

Since it is the employer who is penalized for non-remittance of the contribution under Section 5,
Rule VI and Section 1, Rule XIII ... the term "employer" should be characterized as to its exact
coverage. As defined in Section 1 of Rule III of the same Implementing Rules and Regulations,
an "employer" is any person, natural or juridical, domestic or foreign, who carries on in the
Philippines any trade, business, industry, undertaking or activity of any kind, and uses the
services of another person who is under his orders as regards such services, the government, its
national and local offices, political subdivision, branches, agencies, or instrumentalities including
corporations owned and/or controlled by the Government. 24

Based on the definition of the term "employer" under the law, the Sandiganbayan ruled that it is
the head of the office or the agency that has the obligation to remit the contributions. That the
letters of the Pag-IBIG Fund's Chief of the Member Services Division (Cotabato Branch), which
directed remittance of the employer's share to the Pag-IBIG Fund, were addressed to the Head
of Office of the DAR Provincial Office in Maguindanao bolsters the correct application of the
provisions of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 7742. 25 cralawred

The dispositive portion of the Sandiganbayan Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of all the foregoing, the Court hereby renders judgment as follows:

1. In Criminal Case No. 26707, accused DATU GUIMID MATALAM, ANSARRY LAWI and
NAIMAH UNTE are hereby found Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Section 52(g)
of R.A. No. 8291, and are each sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment
ranging from one (1) year as minimum to three (3) years as maximum, and to pay a fine of
P20,000.00 each. They shall further suffer absolute perpetual disqualification from holding public
office and from practicing any profession or calling licensed by the Government.

2. In Criminal Case No. 26708, accused DATU GUIMID MATALAM is hereby


found Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Section 1, Rule XIII of the Implementing
Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 7742, and is hereby sentenced to pay a fine of P190,506.00,
and in addition, to pay a penalty of three percent per month of the amounts payable computed
from the date the contributions fell due and until the same are paid.

For lack of basis, accused ANSARRY LAWI and NAIMAH UNTE are hereby ACQUITTED of this
offense.

SO ORDERED.26

Matalam filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision, which was denied by the
Sandiganbayan on November 2, 2015.27 cralawred

Matalam now comes before this court and assails the Sandiganbayan Decision.

Matalam argues that a review of the factual findings of the Sandiganbayan would reveal that
there is reasonable doubt that he committed the crimes imputed to him.28 Testimonies of the
witnesses showed that the funds for the remittances due to GSIS and Pag-IBIG Fund were
released to the Office of the Regional Governor of the ARMM and not to DAR-ARMM.29 Even if the
funds were, indeed, released to DAR-ARMM, "Matalam as the Regional Secretary could not be
held accountable for the non-payment or remittance, since as a matter of procedure, he merely
acts as a signatory to whatever document is necessary for the payment of the employer's share
to both GSIS and Pag-IBIG [Fund]."30 It is the Office of the Regional Governor that has the duty
to release the funds.31

Matalam insists that his duty to affix his signature as head of the office was only ministerial. 32 His
signature was conditioned on his receipt of the disbursement vouchers prepared by the
accountant and checked by the cashier.33

Matalam also claims that he was not negligent in reminding his co-accused to respond to the
complaints regarding non-remittance to GSIS and Pag-IBIG Fund.34 Matalam sent four (4)
memoranda addressed to Lawi and Unte as DAR-ARMM's cashier and accountant, respectively, to
respond to the complaints and to the letter of Husain Matanog, the State Auditor. 35

In addition, the billing statements were not addressed to Matalam. 36 The billing statements were
sent to the Accounting Division of DAR; hence, it should have been Unte's duty as accountant to
deal with the statements or to bring them to Matalam's attention. 37

Matalam also assails the testimony of witness Abdulkadil Alabat for being incomplete. According
to Matalam, not all of the bank statements allegedly related to ARMM's account with the Land
Bank of the Philippines, Cotabato Branch, was presented in court. Moreover, based on witnesses'
testimonies, the Notices of Cash Allocation were addressed to the Office of the Regional Governor
of the ARMM, not to DAR-ARMM.38

Furthermore, Matalam argues that even if the offenses he allegedly committed are mala
prohibita, his guilt must still be proven beyond reasonable doubt. 39 The pieces of evidence
presented in this case create a reasonable doubt as to his guilt.40 Thus, a re-evaluation of the
evidence is required.41

The main issue in this case is whether petitioner Datu Guimid P. Matalam is guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of non-remittance of the employer's share of the GSIS and Pag-IBIG Fund
premiums.

We deny the Petition.

Petitioner failed to show that the Sandiganbayan committed reversible error in rendering the
assailed Decision and Resolution. Petitioner is liable for the non-remittance of the contributions
to GSIS and Pag-IBIG Fund.

Petitioner's liability for the non-remittance to GSIS and Pag-IBIG Fund of the employer's share in
the contributions is clearly set out in the laws mandating the collection and remittance of the
premiums:
JOCELYN E. CABO, Petitioner,
vs.
THE SANDIGANBAYAN, FOURTH DIVISION, THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR OF
THE OMBUDSMAN and THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, REGION
XIII, Respondents.

DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This is a special civil action for certiorari filed by petitioner Jocelyn E. Cabo seeking
to nullify the resolutions of the Sandiganbayan, Fourth Division, dated May 4 and
July 20, 2005 in Criminal Case No. 27959.

The following are the antecedent facts:

On June 26, 2004, an information for violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. 3019 or the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act was filed against petitioner and her co-accused
Bonifacio C. Balahay. The information alleged:

That on or about 08 August 2000 in the Municipality of Barobo, Surigao del Sur,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, BONIFACIO C. BALAHAY, then Mayor of the Municipality of Barobo,
Surigao del Sur, a high ranking public official, with the use of his influence as such
public official, committing the offense in relation to his office, together with
JOCELYN CABO, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously receive and
accept the amount of ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SIXTY
TWO PESOS AND 31/100 (P104,162.31) from said JOCELYN CABO, Business
Manager of Orient Integrated Development Consultancy, Inc. (OIDCI), a consultancy
group charged with conducting a feasibility study for the Community-Based
Resource Management Project of the Municipality of Barobo, with accused Cabo
giving and granting the said amount to accused Balahay in consideration of the said
accused having officially intervened in the undertaking by the OIDCI of such contract
for consultancy services with the Municipality of Barobo.

CONTRARY TO LAW.1

Claiming that she was deprived of her right to a preliminary investigation as she
never received any notice to submit a counter-affidavit or countervailing evidence to
prove her innocence, petitioner filed a motion for reinvestigation 2before the Fourth
Division of the Sandiganbayan, where the case was raffled and docketed as
Criminal Case No. 27959. The Sandiganbayan subsequently granted petitioner’s
motion on March 29, 2004 and directed the Office of the Special Prosecutor to
conduct a reinvestigation insofar as petitioner is concerned.3
Meanwhile, petitioner filed a motion seeking the court’s permission to travel abroad
for a family vacation.4 The Sandiganbayan granted the same in an order dated May
14, 2004 that reads:

Acting on the Motion With Leave Of Court To Travel Abroad dated May 11, 2004
filed by accused Jocelyn E. Cabo through counsel, Atty. Tomas N. Prado, and
considering the well-taken reason therein stated, the same is hereby GRANTED.

However, considering that this case is still pending reinvestigation/review before the
Office of the Special Prosecutor; considering further that the accused has not yet
been arraigned by reason thereof; and considering finally that there is a need for the
Court to preserve its authority to conduct trial in absentia should the accused fail to
return to the Philippines, accused Jocelyn E. Cabo, with her express conformity, is
hereby ordered arraigned conditionally. If upon such reinvestigation/review, it shall
be found that there is no probable cause to proceed against said accused, the
conditional arraignment this morning shall be with no force and effect. However, if it
should be found that there is a need to amend the present indictment or to pave the
way for the filing of some other indictment/s, then the accused shall waive her right
to object under Section 14, Rule 110 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure and
her constitutional right to be protected against double jeopardy.

When arraigned, the Information having been read in a language known and familiar
to her, accused Jocelyn E. Cabo, duly assisted by her counsel, Atty. Tomas N.
Prado, pleaded not guilty to the offense charged in the Information.

Accused Jocelyn E. Cabo, duly assisted by her counsel, shall affix her signature in
the minutes of the proceedings to signify her conformity to her acceptance of the
conditional arraignment and the legal consequences thereof as herein explained.

SO ORDERED.5

Petitioner returned from abroad on May 24, 2004. Thereafter, the Special Prosecutor
concluded its reinvestigation and found probable cause to charge her with violation
of Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019.6 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration but the
same was denied.7 Thus, the Sandiganbayan set anew the arraignment of petitioner
and her co-accused on October 12, 2004.8

On the day before the scheduled arraignment, petitioner filed an Urgent


Manifestation With Motion9 praying that "she be allowed to [re]iterate on her previous
plea of ‘not guilty’ x x x entered during her conditional arraignment held last May 14,
2004, so that she may be excused from attending the scheduled arraignment for
October 12, 2004." It does not appear, however, that the Sandiganbayan acted upon
the said motion.
The following day, petitioner’s co-accused Balahay failed to appear for arraignment.
This prompted the Sandiganbayan to order the arrest of Balahay as well the
confiscation of his bail bond.10 Upon motion for reconsideration of Balahay, however,
the Sandiganbayan recalled the warrant for his arrest and reinstated the bail
bond.11 His arraignment was subsequently reset for November 30, 2004.12

On November 24, 2004, Balahay, through counsel, filed a motion to quash the
information on the ground that the same does not charge any offense.13 While
Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019 penalizes the act of "(d)irectly or indirectly requesting
or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for himself or for
another, from any person, in connection with any transaction between the
Government and any other party, wherein the public officer in his official capacity
has to intervene under the law," the information alleged only in general terms that
Balahay "intervened in the undertaking by the OIDCI of such contract for
consultancy services with the Municipality of Barobo." In other words, the
information failed to allege that Balahay had to intervene in the said contract under
the law, in his official capacity as municipal mayor.

On January 18, 2005, the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution14 sustaining Balahay’s


contention that the facts charged in the information do not constitute the offense of
violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019. Apart from the failure to allege that
Balahay had to officially intervene in the transaction pursuant to law, it also failed to
allege that Balahay accepted and received the money "for himself or for another."
The information was thus defective in that it failed to allege every single fact
necessary to constitute all the elements of the offense charged.

The Sandiganbayan, however, did not order the immediate quashal of the
information. It held that under Section 4, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, "if the
motion to quash is based on the ground that the facts charged in the information do
not constitute an offense x x x the (c)ourt should not quash the information outright,
but should instead direct the prosecution to correct the defect therein by proper
amendment. It is only when the prosecution fails or refuses to undertake such
amendment, or when despite such amendment the information still suffers from the
same vice or defect,"15 that the court would be finally justified in granting the motion
to quash. The Sandiganbayan thus gave the prosecution a period of 15 days from
notice within which to file an amended information that is sufficient as to both form
and substance.

On February 7, 2005, the prosecution filed an amended information which


incorporated all the essential elements of the crime charged, to wit:

That on or about 08 August 2000, in the Municipality of Barobo, Surigao Del Sur,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused BONIFACIO C. BALAHAY, then Mayor of the Municipality of Barobo,
Surigao Del Sur, a high ranking public official, in the performance of his official
functions, taking advantage of his official position, with grave abuse of authority, and
committing the offense in relation to his office, conspiring and confederating with
JOCELYN CABO, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously receive and
accept the amount of ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SIXTY
TWO PESOS AND 31/100 (P104,162.31) for his own benefit or use from said
JOCELYN CABO, Business Manager of Orient Integrated Development
Consultancy, Inc. (OIDC), a consultancy group charged with conducting a feasibility
study for the Community-Based Resource Management Project of the Municipality
of Barobo, with accused Cabo giving and granting said amount to accused Balahay
in consideration of the contract for said feasibility study, which contract accused
Balahay in his official capacity has to intervene under the law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.16

Consequently, Balahay was sent a notice for his arraignment on the amended
information. Petitioner was likewise notified of her re-arraignment which was set on
April 14, 2005.17 However, on April 11, 2005, petitioner filed a Motion to Cancel
Second Arraignment18 on the ground that the amended information pertained to
Balahay alone. Petitioner claimed that she could no longer be re-arraigned on the
amended information since substantial amendment of an information is not allowed
after a plea had already been made thereon.

On May 4, 2005, the Sandiganbayan issued the first assailed resolution denying
petitioner’s motion for lack of merit, to wit:

[T]he arraignment of accused Cabo on the original information was only conditional
in nature and that the same was resorted to as a mere accommodation in her favor
to enable her to travel abroad without this Court losing its ability to conduct trial in
absentia in the event she decides to abscond. However, as clearly stated in the
Court’s Order of May 14, 2004, accused Cabo agreed with the condition that should
there be a need to amend the information, she would thereby waive, not only her
right to object to the amended information, but also her constitutional protection
against double jeopardy. Now that the original information has been superseded by
an amended information, which was specifically filed by the prosecution, and
thereafter admitted by this Court, on the basis of Section 4, Rule 117 of the 2000
Rules of Criminal Procedure, accused Cabo is already estopped from raising any
objection thereto.19

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration20 from the foregoing resolution on the
additional ground that double jeopardy had already set in. She asserted that her
conditional arraignment under the original information had been validated or
confirmed by her formal manifestation dated October 7, 2004, wherein she reiterated
her plea of "not guilty." Thus, her arraignment on the original information was no
longer conditional in nature such that double jeopardy would attach.
The Sandiganbayan denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration in the second
assailed resolution dated July 20, 2005.21 Consequently, petitioner filed the instant
special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court alleging that the
Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in holding that her arraignment on the
original information was conditional in nature and that a re-arraignment on the
amended information would not put her in double jeopardy.

The issue here boils down to whether double jeopardy would attach on the basis of
the "not guilty" plea entered by petitioner on the original information. She argues that
it would, considering that her arraignment, which was initially conditional in nature,
was ratified when she confirmed her "not guilty" plea by means of a written
manifestation. In other words, the trial court could no longer assert that she waived
her right to the filing of an amended information under the terms of her conditional
arraignment because she has, in effect, unconditionally affirmed the same.

Petitioner’s assertions must fail.

Initially, it must be pointed out that the Sandiganbayan’s practice of "conditionally"


arraigning the accused pending reinvestigation of the case by the Ombudsman is
not specifically provided in the regular rules of procedure.22 In People v.
Espinosa,23 however, the Court tangentially recognized the practice of "conditionally"
arraigning the accused, provided that the alleged conditions attached thereto should
be "unmistakable, express, informed and enlightened." The Court ventured further
by requiring that said conditions be expressly stated in the order disposing of the
arraignment. Otherwise, it was held that the arraignment should be deemed simple
and unconditional.24

In the case at bar, the Sandiganbayan Order dated May 14, 2004 unequivocally set
forth the conditions for petitioner’s arraignment pending reinvestigation of the case
as well as her travel abroad. Among the conditions specified in said order is "if it
should be found that there is a need to amend the present indictment x x x, then the
accused shall waive her right to object under Section 14, Rule 110 of the 2000 Rules
of Criminal Procedure and her constitutional right to be protected against double
jeopardy." Petitioner was duly assisted by counsel during the conditional
arraignment and was presumably apprised of the legal consequences of such
conditions. In fact, she signed the minutes of the proceedings which could only
signify her informed acceptance of and conformity with the terms of the conditional
arraignment.

Thus, petitioner cannot now be allowed to turn her back on such conditions on the
pretext that she affirmed her conditional arraignment by means of a written
manifestation. To begin with, there is no showing that the Sandiganbayan ruled on
her written manifestation and motion that she be allowed to merely confirm her
previous plea on the original information. It is likewise doubtful that petitioner may
legally confirm her conditional arraignment by means of a mere written motion or
manifestation. Section 1(b), Rule 116 of the Rules of Court explicitly requires that
"(t)he accused must be present at the arraignment and must personally enter his
plea."

At any rate, with or without a valid plea, still petitioner cannot rely upon the principle
of double jeopardy to avoid arraignment on the amended information. It is
elementary that for double jeopardy to attach, the case against the accused must
have been dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent by a court
of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid information sufficient in form and substance
and the accused pleaded to the charge.25 In the instant case, the original information
to which petitioner entered a plea of "not guilty" was neither valid nor sufficient to
sustain a conviction, and the criminal case was also neither dismissed nor
terminated. Double jeopardy could not, therefore, attach even if petitioner is
assumed to have been unconditionally arraigned on the original charge.

It should be noted that the previous information in Criminal Case No. 27959 failed to
allege all the essential elements of violation of Section 3(b), R.A. No. 3019. It, in
fact, did not charge any offense and was, to all intents and purposes, void and
defective. A valid conviction cannot be sustained on the basis of such information.
Petitioner was resultantly not placed in danger of being convicted when she entered
her plea of "not guilty" to the insufficient indictment.

Moreover, there was no dismissal or termination of the case against petitioner. What
the Sandiganbayan ordered was for the amendment of the information pursuant to
the express provision of Section 4, Rule 117, which states:

SEC. 4. Amendment of complaint or information.- If the motion to quash is based on


an alleged defect of the complaint or information which can be cured by amendment,
the court shall order that an amendment be made.

If it is based on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, the
prosecution shall be given by the court an opportunity to correct the defect by
amendment. The motion shall be granted if the prosecution fails to make the
amendment, or the complaint or information still suffers from the same defect
despite the amendment. (Emphasis supplied)

The Sandiganbayan correctly applied the foregoing provision when petitioner’s co-
accused filed a motion to quash the original information on the ground that the same
does not charge an offense. Contrary to petitioner’s submission, the original
information can be cured by amendment even after she had pleaded thereto, since
the amendments ordered by the court below were only as to matters of form and not
of substance. The amendment ordered by the Sandiganbayan did not violate the
first paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, which provides:
SEC. 14. Amendment or substitution. – A complaint or information may be
amended, in form or in substance, without leave court, at any time before the
accused enters his plea. After the plea and during the trial, a formal amendment
may only be made with leave of court and when it can be done without causing
prejudice to the rights of the accused.

xxxx

In Poblete v. Sandoval,26 the Court explained that an amendment is only in form


when it merely adds specifications to eliminate vagueness in the information and
does not introduce new and material facts. Amendment of an information after the
accused has pleaded thereto is allowed, if the amended information merely states
with additional precision something which is already contained in the original
information and which, therefore, adds nothing essential for conviction for the crime
charged.

In the case at bar, while certain elements of the crime charged were missing in the
indictment, the amended information did not change the nature of the offense which
is for violation of Section 3(b), R.A. No. 3019. The amended information merely
clarified the factual averments in the accusatory portion of the previous information,
in order to reflect with definiteness the essential elements of the crime charged.

An examination of the two informations in this case would justify the preceding
observation. While the first information alleged that Balahay committed the offense
"with the use of his influence as such public official" "together with" petitioner, the
amended information stated that he did so "in the performance of his official
functions, taking advantage of his official position, with grave abuse of authority"
while "conspiring and confederating" with petitioner. Then too, while it was averred
previously that Balahay received and accepted the money from petitioner, with the
latter "giving and granting the said amount to accused Balahay in consideration of
the said accused having officially intervened in the undertaking by the OIDCI of such
contract for consultancy services", the amended information simply specified that
Balahay received the money "for his own benefit or use" and that the contract
mentioned in the first information was one that Balahay, "in his official capacity has
to intervene under the law."

Consequently, even if we treat petitioner’s arraignment on the original information as


"unconditional," the same would not bar the amendment of the original information
under Section 14, Rule 110. Re-arraignment on the amended information will not
prejudice petitioner’s rights since the alterations introduced therein did not change
the nature of the crime. As held in People v. Casey:27

The test as to whether a defendant is prejudiced by the amendment of an


information has been said to be whether a defense under the information as it
originally stood would be available after the amendment is made, and whether any
evidence defendant might have would be equally applicable to the information in the
one form as in the other. A look into Our jurisprudence on the matter shows that an
amendment to an information introduced after the accused has pleaded not guilty
thereto, which does not change the nature of the crime alleged therein, does not
expose the accused to a charge which could call for a higher penalty, does not affect
the essence of the offense or cause surprise or deprive the accused of an
opportunity to meet the new averment had each been held to be one of form and not
of substance – not prejudicial to the accused and, therefore, not prohibited by
Section 13 (now Section 14), Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Court.

Likewise, it is not necessary, as petitioner suggests, to dismiss the original complaint


under the last paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110, which states:

xxxx

If it appears at any time before judgment that a mistake has been made in charging
the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the original complaint or information upon
the filing of a new one charging the proper offense in accordance with section 11,
Rule 119, provided the accused would not be placed in double jeopardy. The court
may require the witnesses to give bail for their appearance at the trial.

The afore-cited rule is inapplicable to the case at bar for the simple reason that there
was no mistake in charging the proper offense in the original information. As
correctly observed by the Sandiganbayan:

[I]t is hardly necessary for this Court to order the dismissal of the original information
and then direct the filing of a new one "charging the proper offense". The reason for
this is obvious. The prosecution did not commit a mistake in charging the proper
offense; rather, it merely failed to file an information sufficient to charge the offense it
intended to charge, namely, violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019. Section 14,
Rule 110 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure apparently relied upon by
accused Cabo contemplates a situation where the accused will be charged with an
offense different from or is otherwise not necessarily included in the offense charged
in the information to be dismissed by the Court. In the case at bar, however,
accused Cabo will not be charged with a different offense or with an offense that is
not necessarily included in the offense charged in the original information, but with
the very same offense that the prosecution intended to charge her in the first place,
that is, violation of Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019.28

All told, the Sandiganbayan did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it
ordered the re-arraignment of petitioner on the amended information. Double
jeopardy did not attach by virtue of petitioner’s "conditional arraignment" on the first
information. It is well-settled that for a claim of double jeopardy to prosper, the
following requisites must concur: (1) there is a complaint or information or other
formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a conviction; (2) the same
is filed before a court of competent jurisdiction; (3) there is a valid arraignment or
plea to the charges; and (4) the accused is convicted or acquitted or the case is
otherwise dismissed or terminated without his express consent.29 The first and fourth
requisites are not present in the case at bar.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

G.R. No. 192565 February 28, 2012

UNION BANK OF THE, PHILIPPINES and DESI TOMAS, Petitioners,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

We review in this Rule 45 petition, the decision1 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch
65, Makati City (RTC-Makati City) in Civil Case No. 09-1038. The petition seeks to
reverse and set aside the RTC-Makati City decision dismissing the petition for
certiorari of petitioners Union Bank of the Philippines (Union Bank) and Desi Tomas
(collectively, the petitioners). The RTC found that the Metropolitan Trial Court,
Branch 63, Makati City (MeTC-Makati City) did not commit any grave abuse of
discretion in denying the motion to quash the information for perjury filed by Tomas.

The Antecedents

Tomas was charged in court for perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code
(RPC) for making a false narration in a Certificate against Forum Shopping. The
Information against her reads:

That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful
statements under oath upon a material matter before a competent person authorized
to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in the
Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint for sum of money with
prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil] Case No. 342-00 of the Metropolitan
Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the Philippines has not commenced
any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in another tribunal or
agency, accused knowing well that said material statement was false thereby
making a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood.2

The accusation stemmed from petitioner Union Bank’s two (2) complaints for sum of
money with prayer for a writ of replevin against the spouses Eddie and Eliza
Tamondong and a John Doe. The first complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-
0717, was filed before the RTC, Branch 109, Pasay City on April 13, 1998. The
second complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 342-000, was filed on March 15, 2000
and raffled to the MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City. Both complaints showed that
Tomas executed and signed the Certification against Forum Shopping. Accordingly,
she was charged of deliberately violating Article 183 of the RPC by falsely declaring
under oath in the Certificate against Forum Shopping in the second complaint that
she did not commence any other action or proceeding involving the same issue in
another tribunal or agency.

Tomas filed a Motion to Quash,3 citing two grounds. First, she argued that the venue
was improperly laid since it is the Pasay City court (where the Certificate against
Forum Shopping was submitted and used) and not the MeTC-Makati City (where the
Certificate against Forum Shopping was subscribed) that has jurisdiction over the
perjury case. Second, she argued that the facts charged do not constitute an offense
because: (a) the third element of perjury – the willful and deliberate assertion of
falsehood – was not alleged with particularity without specifying what the other
action or proceeding commenced involving the same issues in another tribunal or
agency; (b) there was no other action or proceeding pending in another court when
the second complaint was filed; and (c) she was charged with perjury by giving false
testimony while the allegations in the Information make out perjury by making a false
affidavit.

The MeTC-Makati City denied the Motion to Quash, ruling that it has jurisdiction over
the case since the Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized in Makati
City.4 The MeTC-Makati City also ruled that the allegations in the Information
sufficiently charged Tomas with perjury.5 The MeTC-Makati City subsequently denied
Tomas’ motion for reconsideration.6

The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC-Makati City to annul and
set aside the MeTC-Makati City orders on the ground of grave abuse of discretion.
The petitioners anchored their petition on the rulings in United States v. Canet 7 and
Ilusorio v. Bildner8 which ruled that venue and jurisdiction should be in the place
where the false document was presented.

The Assailed RTC Decision


In dismissing the petition for certiorari, the RTC-Makati City held:

[I]nsofar as the petitioner’s stance is concerned[,] the more recent case of [Sy Tiong
Shiou v. Sy] (GR Nos. 174168 & 179438, March 30, 2009) however, reaffirms what
has been the long standing view on the venue with respect to perjury cases. In this
particular case[,] the high court reiterated the rule that the criminal action shall be
instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the offense was
committed, or where any of its essential ingredients occurred. It went on to declare
that since the subject document[,] the execution of which was the subject of the
charge[,] was subscribed and sworn to in Manila[,] then the court of the said
territorial jurisdiction was the proper venue of the criminal action[.]

xxxx

x x x Given the present state of jurisprudence on the matter, it is not amiss to state
that the city court of Makati City has jurisdiction to try and decide the case for perjury
inasmuch as the gist of the complaint itself which constitute[s] the charge against the
petitioner dwells solely on the act of subscribing to a false certification. On the other
hand, the charge against the accused in the case of Ilusorio v. Bildner, et al., based
on the complaint-affidavits therein[,] was not simply the execution of the questioned
documents but rather the introduction of the false evidence through the subject
documents before the court of Makati City.9 (emphasis ours)

The RTC-Makati City ruled that the MeTC-Makati City did not commit grave abuse of
discretion since the order denying the Motion to Quash was based on jurisprudence
later than Ilusorio. The RTC-Makati City also observed that the facts in Ilusorio are
different from the facts of the present case. Lastly, the RTC-Makati City ruled that
the Rule 65 petition was improper since the petitioners can later appeal the decision
in the principal case. The RTC-Makati City subsequently denied the petitioner’s
motion for reconsideration.10

The Petition

The petitioners pray that we reverse the RTC-Makati City decision and quash the
Information for perjury against Tomas. The petitioners contend that the Ilusorio
ruling is more applicable to the present facts than our ruling in Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy
Chim.11 They argued that the facts in Ilusorio showed that the filing of the petitions in
court containing the false statements was the essential ingredient that consummated
the perjury. In Sy Tiong, the perjurious statements were made in a General
Information Sheet (GIS) that was submitted to the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC).

Interestingly, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz shared the petitioners’ view. In
his Manifestation and Motion in lieu of Comment (which we hereby treat as the
Comment to the petition), the Solicitor General also relied on Ilusorio and opined
that the lis mota in the crime of perjury is the deliberate or intentional giving of false
evidence in the court where the evidence is material. The Solicitor General observed
that the criminal intent to assert a falsehood under oath only became manifest
before the MeTC-Pasay City.

The Issue

The case presents to us the issue of what the proper venue of perjury under Article
183 of the RPC should be – Makati City, where the Certificate against Forum
Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the
trial court.

The Court’s Ruling

We deny the petition and hold that the MeTC-Makati City is the proper venue and
the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury case against the petitioners.

Venue of Action and Criminal Jurisdiction

Venue is an essential element of jurisdiction in criminal cases. It determines not only


the place where the criminal action is to be instituted, but also the court that has the
jurisdiction to try and hear the case. The reason for this rule is two-fold. First, the
jurisdiction of trial courts is limited to well-defined territories such that a trial court
can only hear and try cases involving crimes committed within its territorial
jurisdiction.12 Second, laying the venue in the locus criminis is grounded on the
necessity and justice of having an accused on trial in the municipality of province
where witnesses and other facilities for his defense are available.13

Unlike in civil cases, a finding of improper venue in criminal cases carries


jurisdictional consequences. In determining the venue where the criminal action is to
be instituted and the court which has jurisdiction over it, Section 15(a), Rule 110 of
the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

(a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in
the court or municipality or territory where the offense was committed or
where any of its essential ingredients occurred. [emphasis ours]

The above provision should be read in light of Section 10, Rule 110 of the 2000
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states:

Place of commission of the offense. – The complaint or information is sufficient if it


can be understood from its allegations that the offense was committed or some of its
essential ingredients occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court,
unless the particular place where it was committed constitutes an essential element
of the offense charged or is necessary for its identification.
Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over criminal cases
not only in the court where the offense was committed, but also where any of its
essential ingredients took place. In other words, the venue of action and of
jurisdiction are deemed sufficiently alleged where the Information states that the
offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at a place
within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

Information Charging Perjury

Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, contains the
requirement for a Certificate against Forum Shopping. The Certificate against Forum
Shopping can be made either by a statement under oath in the complaint or initiatory
pleading asserting a claim or relief; it may also be in a sworn certification annexed to
the complaint or initiatory pleading. In both instances, the affiant is required to
execute a statement under oath before a duly commissioned notary public or any
competent person authorized to administer oath that: (a) he or she has not
theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in
any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his or her knowledge,
no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending
action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he or
she should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or
is pending, he or she shall report that fact within five days therefrom to the court
wherein his or her aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. In
relation to the crime of perjury, the material matter in a Certificate against Forum
Shopping is the truth of the required declarations which is designed to guard against
litigants pursuing simultaneous remedies in different fora.14

In this case, Tomas is charged with the crime of perjury under Article 183 of the
RPC for making a false Certificate against Forum Shopping. The elements of perjury
under Article 183 are:

(a) That the accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit
upon a material matter.

(b) That the statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer,
authorized to receive and administer oath.

(c) That in the statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and
deliberate assertion of a falsehood.

(d) That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by
law or made for a legal purpose.15(emphasis ours)

Where the jurisdiction of the court is being assailed in a criminal case on the ground
of improper venue, the allegations in the complaint and information must be
examined together with Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure. On this basis, we find that the allegations in the Information
sufficiently support a finding that the crime of perjury was committed by Tomas
within the territorial jurisdiction of the MeTC-Makati City.

The first element of the crime of perjury, the execution of the subject Certificate
against Forum Shopping was alleged in the Information to have been committed in
Makati City. Likewise, the second and fourth elements, requiring the Certificate
against Forum Shopping to be under oath before a notary public, were also
sufficiently alleged in the Information to have been made in Makati City:

That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful
statements under oath upon a material matter before a competent person authorized
to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in the
Verification/Certification/Affidavit x x x.16

We also find that the third element of willful and deliberate falsehood was also
sufficiently alleged to have been committed in Makati City, not Pasay City, as
indicated in the last portion of the Information:

[S]aid accused stated in the Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint


for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil] Case No. 342-
00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the
Philippines has not commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same
issues in another tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said material
statement was false thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of
falsehood.17 (underscoring ours)

Tomas’ deliberate and intentional assertion of falsehood was allegedly shown when
she made the false declarations in the Certificate against Forum Shopping before a
notary public in Makati City, despite her knowledge that the material statements she
subscribed and swore to were not true. Thus, Makati City is the proper venue and
MeTC-Makati City is the proper court to try the perjury case against Tomas,
pursuant to Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure as all the essential elements constituting the crime of perjury were
committed within the territorial jurisdiction of Makati City, not Pasay City.

Referral to the En Banc

The present case was referred to the En Banc primarily to address the seeming
conflict between the division rulings of the Court in the Ilusorio case that is cited as
basis of this petition, and the Sy Tiong case that was the basis of the assailed RTC-
Makati City ruling.
The Cited Ilusorio and Sy Tiong Cases

The subject matter of the perjury charge in Ilusorio involved false statements
contained in verified petitions filed with the court for the issuance of a new owner’s
duplicate copies of certificates of title. The verified petitions containing the false
statements were subscribed and sworn to in Pasig City, but were filed in Makati City
and Tagaytay City. The question posed was: which court (Pasig City, Makati City
and/or Tagaytay City) had jurisdiction to try and hear the perjury cases?

We ruled that the venues of the action were in Makati City and Tagaytay City, the
places where the verified petitions were filed. The Court reasoned out that it was
only upon filing that the intent to assert an alleged falsehood became manifest and
where the alleged untruthful statement found relevance or materiality. We cited as
jurisprudential authority the case of United States. v. Cañet 18 which ruled:

It is immaterial where the affidavit was subscribed and sworn, so long as it appears
from the information that the defendant, by means of such affidavit, "swore to" and
knowingly submitted false evidence, material to a point at issue in a judicial
proceeding pending in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo Province. The gist of the
offense charged is not the making of the affidavit in Manila, but the intentional giving
of false evidence in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo Province by means of such
affidavit. [emphasis and underscoring deleted]

In Sy Tiong, the perjured statements were made in a GIS which was subscribed and
sworn to in Manila. We ruled that the proper venue for the perjury charges was in
Manila where the GIS was subscribed and sworn to. We held that the perjury was
consummated in Manila where the false statement was made. As supporting
jurisprudence, we cited the case of Villanueva v. Secretary of Justice 19 that, in turn,
cited an American case entitled U.S. v. Norris.20 We ruled in Villanueva that –

Perjury is an obstruction of justice; its perpetration well may affect the dearest
concerns of the parties before a tribunal. Deliberate material falsification under oath
constitutes the crime of perjury, and the crime is complete when a witness'
statement has once been made.

The Crime of Perjury: A Background

To have a better appreciation of the issue facing the Court, a look at the historical
background of how the crime of perjury (specifically, Article 183 of the RPC) evolved
in our jurisdiction.

The RPC penalizes three forms of false testimonies. The first is false testimony for
and against the defendant in a criminal case (Articles 180 and 181, RPC); the
second is false testimony in a civil case (Article 182, RPC); and the third is false
testimony in other cases (Article 183, RPC). Based on the Information filed, the
present case involves the making of an untruthful statement in an affidavit on a
material matter.

These RPC provisions, however, are not really the bases of the rulings cited by the
parties in their respective arguments. The cited Ilusorio ruling, although issued by
this Court in 2008, harked back to the case of Cañet which was decided in 1915,
i.e., before the present RPC took effect.21 Sy Tiong, on the other hand, is a 2009
ruling that cited Villanueva, a 2005 case that in turn cited United States v. Norris, a
1937 American case. Significantly, unlike Canet, Sy Tiong is entirely based on
rulings rendered after the present RPC took effect.22

The perjurious act in Cañet consisted of an information charging perjury through the
presentation in court of a motion accompanied by a false sworn affidavit. At the time
the Cañet ruling was rendered, the prevailing law on perjury and the rules on
prosecution of criminal offenses were found in Section 3, Act No. 1697 of the
Philippine Commission, and in Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No. 58 23 for
the procedural aspect.

Section 3 of Act No. 1697 reads:

Sec. 3. Any person who, having taken oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or
person, in any case in which a law of the Philippine Islands authorizes an oath to be
administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written
testimony, declaration, disposition, or certificate by him subscribed is true, willfully
and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does
not believe to be true, is guilty of perjury, and shall be punished by a fine of not more
than two thousand pesos and by imprisonment for not more than five years; and
shall moreover, thereafter be incapable of holding any public office or of giving
testimony in any court of the Philippine Islands until such time as the judgment
against him is reversed.

This law was copied, with the necessary changes, from Sections 5392 24 and 539325 of
the Revised Statutes of the United States.26 Act No. 1697 was intended to make the
mere execution of a false affidavit punishable in our jurisdiction.27

In turn, Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No. 58 provided that the venue
shall be the court of the place where the crime was committed.

As applied and interpreted by the Court in Cañet, perjury was committed by the act
of representing a false document in a judicial proceeding.28 The venue of action was
held by the Court to be at the place where the false document was presented since
the presentation was the act that consummated the crime.

The annotation of Justices Aquino and Griño-Aquino in their textbook on the


RPC29 interestingly explains the history of the perjury provisions of the present RPC
and traces as well the linkage between Act No. 1697 and the present Code. To
quote these authors:30

Art. 180 was taken from art. 318 of the Old Penal Code and art. 154 of Del Pan’s
Proposed Correctional Code, while art. 181 was taken from art. 319 of the old Penal
Code and Art. 157 of Del Pan’s Proposed Correctional Code. Said arts. 318 and
319, together with art. 321 of the old Penal Code, were impliedly repealed by Act
1697, the Perjury Law, passed on August 23, 1907, which in turn was expressly
repealed by the Administrative Code of 1916, Act 2657. In view of the express
repeal of Act 1697, arts. 318 and 321 of the old Penal Code were deemed revived.
However, Act 2718 expressly revived secs. 3 and 4 of the Perjury Law. Art. 367 of
the Revised Penal Code repealed Act Nos. 1697 and 2718.

It should be noted that perjury under Acts 1697 and 2718 includes false testimony,
whereas, under the Revised Penal Code, false testimony includes perjury. Our law
on false testimony is of Spanish origin, but our law on perjury (art. 183 taken from
sec. 3 of Act 1697) is derived from American statutes. The provisions of the old
Penal Code on false testimony embrace perjury committed in court or in some
contentious proceeding, while perjury as defined in Act 1697 includes the making of
a false affidavit. The provisions of the Revised Penal Code on false testimony "are
more severe and strict than those of Act 1697" on perjury. [italics ours]

With this background, it can be appreciated that Article 183 of the RPC which
provides:

The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its
minimum period shall be imposed upon any person, who knowingly makes untruthful
statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding articles,
shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a
competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so
requires. [emphasis supplied; emphases ours]

in fact refers to either of two punishable acts – (1) falsely testifying under oath in a
proceeding other than a criminal or civil case; and (2) making a false affidavit before
a person authorized to administer an oath on any material matter where the law
requires an oath.

As above discussed, Sy Tiong – decided under Article 183 of the RPC – essentially
involved perjured statements made in a GIS that was subscribed and sworn to in
Manila and submitted to the SEC in Mandaluyong City. Thus, the case involved the
making of an affidavit, not an actual testimony in a proceeding that is neither criminal
nor civil. From this perspective, the situs of the oath, i.e., the place where the oath
was taken, is the place where the offense was committed. By implication, the proper
venue would have been the City of Mandaluyong – the site of the SEC – had the
charge involved an actual testimony made before the SEC.
In contrast, Cañet involved the presentation in court of a motion supported and
accompanied by an affidavit that contained a falsity. With Section 3 of Act No. 1697
as basis, the issue related to the submission of the affidavit in a judicial proceeding.
This came at a time when Act No. 1697 was the perjury law, and made no distinction
between judicial and other proceedings, and at the same time separately penalized
the making of false statements under oath (unlike the present RPC which separately
deals with false testimony in criminal, civil and other proceedings, while at the same
time also penalizing the making of false affidavits). Understandably, the venue
should be the place where the submission was made to the court or the situs of the
court; it could not have been the place where the affidavit was sworn to simply
because this was not the offense charged in the Information.

The case of Ilusorio cited the Cañet case as its authority, in a situation where the
sworn petitions filed in court for the issuance of duplicate certificates of title (that
were allegedly lost) were the cited sworn statements to support the charge of perjury
for the falsities stated in the sworn petitions. The Court ruled that the proper venue
should be the Cities of Makati and Tagaytay because it was in the courts of these
cities "where the intent to assert an alleged falsehood became manifest and where
the alleged untruthful statement finds relevance or materiality in deciding the issue
of whether new owner’s duplicate copies of the [Certificate of Condominium Title]
and [Transfer Certificates of Title] may issue."31 To the Court, "whether the perjurious
statements contained in the four petitions were subscribed and sworn in Pasig is
immaterial, the gist of the offense of perjury being the intentional giving of false
statement,"32citing Cañet as authority for its statement.

The statement in Ilusorio may have partly led to the present confusion on venue
because of its very categorical tenor in pointing to the considerations to be made in
the determination of venue; it leaves the impression that the place where the oath
was taken is not at all a material consideration, forgetting that Article 183 of the RPC
clearly speaks of two situations while Article 182 of the RPC likewise applies to false
testimony in civil cases.

The Ilusorio statement would have made perfect sense had the basis for the charge
been Article 182 of the RPC, on the assumption that the petition itself constitutes a
false testimony in a civil case. The Cañet ruling would then have been completely
applicable as the sworn statement is used in a civil case, although no such
distinction was made under Cañet because the applicable law at the time (Act No.
1697) did not make any distinction.

If Article 183 of the RPC were to be used, as what in fact appears in the Ilusorio
ruling, then only that portion of the article, referring to the making of an affidavit,
would have been applicable as the other portion refers to false testimony in other
proceedings which a judicial petition for the issuance of a new owner’s duplicate
copy of a Certificate of Condominium Title is not because it is a civil proceeding in
court. As a perjury based on the making of a false affidavit, what assumes
materiality is the site where the oath was taken as this is the place where the oath
was made, in this case, Pasig City.

Procedurally, the rule on venue of criminal cases has been subject to various
changes from the time General Order No. 58 was replaced by Rules 106 to 122 of
the Rules of Court on July 1, 1940. Section 14, Rule 106 of the Rules of Court
provided for the rule on venue of criminal actions and it expressly included, as
proper venue, the place where any one of the essential ingredients of the crime took
place. This change was followed by the passage of the 1964 Rules of Criminal
1 âwphi1

Procedure,33 the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure,34 and the 2000 Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure which all adopted the 1940 Rules of Criminal Procedure’s
expanded venue of criminal actions. Thus, the venue of criminal cases is not only in
the place where the offense was committed, but also where any of its essential
ingredients took place.

In the present case, the Certification against Forum Shopping was made integral
parts of two complaints for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin against
the respondent spouses Eddie Tamondong and Eliza B. Tamondong, who, in turn,
filed a complaint-affidavit against Tomas for violation of Article 183 of the RPC. As
alleged in the Information that followed, the criminal act charged was for the
execution by Tomas of an affidavit that contained a falsity.

Under the circumstances, Article 183 of the RPC is indeed the applicable provision;
thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined on the basis of this article which
penalizes one who "make[s] an affidavit, upon any material matter before a
competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so
requires." The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit; thus, the
criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is subscribed
and sworn before a duly authorized person.

Based on these considerations, we hold that our ruling in Sy Tiong is more in accord
with Article 183 of the RPC and Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure. To reiterate for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench, the
crime of perjury committed through the making of a false affidavit under Article 183
of the RPC is committed at the time the affiant subscribes and swears to his or her
affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of perjury are
executed. When the crime is committed through false testimony under oath in a
proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, venue is at the place where the
testimony under oath is given. If in lieu of or as supplement to the actual testimony
made in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, a written sworn statement is
submitted, venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is submitted
or where the oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the submission are both
material ingredients of the crime committed. In all cases, determination of venue
shall be based on the acts alleged in the Information to be constitutive of the crime
committed.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition for lack of merit.
Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice