Você está na página 1de 103

Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 187044 September 14, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
RENATO LAGAT Y GAWAN A.K.A. RENAT GAWAN AND JAMES PALALAY Y
VILLAROSA, Accused-Appellants.

DECISION

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:

This appeal was filed by accused-appellants Renato Lagat y Gawan (Lagat), also known as Renat
Gawan, and James Palalay y Villarosa (Palalay) to challenge the Court of Appeals’ October 8,
2008 Decision1 in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02869, for affirming with modification the March 19,
2007 Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 21, Santiago City, wherein they were
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Qualified Carnapping in Criminal Case No. 21-4949.

Accused-appellants Lagat and Palalay were charged with the crime of Carnapping as defined
under Section 2 and penalized under Section 143 of Republic Act No. 6539. The accusatory
portion of the Information,4 reads:

That on or about the 12th day of April 2005, at Santiago City, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, conniving with each
other, and mutually helping one another and with intent to gain and without the consent of the
owner thereof, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away
one (1) unit YASUKI tricycle bearing Engine No. 161FMJ41535420 and Motor No.
LX8PCK0034D002243 then driven and owned by JOSE BIAG, valued at ₱ 70,000.00, to the
damage and prejudice of the owner thereof.

That in the course of the commission of carnapping, or on occasion thereof, the above-named
accused, conspiring, conniving confederating and helping each other, and with intent to kill, did
then and there assault, attack and wound the said JOSE BIAG with sharp and pointed instrument
directing blows against the vital parts of the body of the latter thereby inflicting upon him
multiple stab and hacking wounds which directly caused the death of the said JOSE BIAG.

Lagat pleaded not guilty upon arraignment on June 16, 2005.5 Palalay, on the other hand, did not
enter any plea; hence, a plea of not guilty was entered by the RTC for him.6

On August 1, 2005, both accused proposed to plead guilty to a lesser offense.7 In their plea-
bargaining proposal,8 they asked that they be allowed to plead guilty to the crime of Homicide
under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code and that the mitigating circumstances of plea of
guilty and/or no intention to commit so grave a wrong be considered in their favor. They also
asked that damages be fixed at ₱ 120,000.00. This proposal was rejected9 by the prosecution;
thus, the pre-trial conference proceeded. The pre-trial Order contained the following facts as
admitted by the parties:

1. That the cadaver of Jose Biag was recovered along Angadanan and Sn. Guillermo road
by members of the police together with Barangay Captain Heherson Dulay and Chief
Tanod Rumbaoa, Sr.

2. That the two accused were arrested in possession of palay allegedly stolen in Alicia,
Isabela.

3. That the cause of death of Jose Biag was multiple stab and hack wounds as described
in the Autopsy Report and death certificate which shall be submitted during trial.10

After the pre-trial conference, trial on the merits ensued.

The prosecution first presented Florida Biag (Florida), the wife of the victim Jose Biag (Biag), to
testify on the circumstances leading to Biag’s disappearance and the discovery of his body, the
recovery of Biag’s tricycle, and the expenses she incurred and the income she had lost as a result
of her husband’s death. Florida testified that her husband was a farmer, a barangay tanod, and a
tricycle driver.11 On April 12, 2005, at around two o’clock in the morning, her husband left to
operate his tricycle for public use. It was around 11:00 a.m. of April 13, 2005, when news
reached her that their tricycle was with the Philippine National Police (PNP) of the Municipality
of Alicia and that her husband had figured in an accident. After learning of the incident, Florida
sought the help of their Barangay (Brgy.) Captain, Heherson Dulay, who immediately left for
Angadanan without her. At around 2:00 p.m., Brgy. Captain Dulay informed12 Florida of what
had happened to her husband.13 Florida then presented in court the receipts14 evidencing the
expenses she had incurred for her husband’s wake and funeral and for the repair of their tricycle,
which was recovered with missing parts. She also testified as to the income Biag was earning as
a farmer, a tanod, and a tricycle driver, and claimed that his death had caused her sleepless
nights.15

The second witness for the prosecution was the Chief Tanod of Barangay Rizal, Poe Rumbaoa,
Sr. (Rumbaoa). He testified that on April 13, 2005, after he and Brgy. Captain Dulay received
Florida’s report, they immediately went to the Alicia Police Station, wherein they found Biag’s
tricycle. The PNP of Alicia showed them the identification card recovered in the tricycle and told
them that the tricycle was used in stealing palay from a store in Angadanan, Isabela that
belonged to a certain Jimmy Esteban (Esteban). Rumbaoa and Brgy. Captain Dulay were also
told that the owner of the tricycle was killed and dumped along the Angadanan and San
Guillermo Road. They were thereafter shown the two suspects and the place where Biag’s body
was dumped. Rumbaoa said that he was able to identify the body as Biag’s, which was almost
unrecognizable because it was bloated all over, only because Biag had a mark on his right
shoulder, which Rumbaoa knew of.16
Police Officer 2 (PO2) Arthur Salvador, a member of the PNP in Alicia, took the witness stand
next. He testified that on April 13, 2005, he was on duty along with other colleagues at the Alicia
PNP Station, when they received a report from Esteban that the cavans of palay stolen from him
were seen at Alice Palay Buying Station in Alicia, Isabela, in a tricycle commandeered by two
unidentified male persons. PO2 Salvador said that upon receipt of this report, their Chief of
Police composed a team, which included him, PO2 Bernard Ignacio, and PO2 Nathan Abuan, to
verify the veracity of the report. At Alice Palay Buying Station, they saw the tricycle described
to them by their chief, with the cavans of palay, and the two accused, Lagat and Palalay. PO2
Salvador averred that he and his team were about to approach the tricycle when the two accused
"scampered"17 to different directions. After "collaring" the two accused, they brought them to the
Alicia PNP Station together with the tricycle and its contents. PO2 Salvador asseverated that
when they reached the station, they asked the two accused if they had any papers to show for
both the tricycle and the palay, to which the two accused did not answer. They allegedly kept
silent even after they were informed of their rights not only to remain as such, but also to have
counsel, either of their own choosing, or to be assigned to them if they cannot afford one. PO2
Salvador then continued that when they unloaded the tricycle, they discovered bloodstains inside
and outside the sidecar. He also personally found a wallet containing the tricycle’s Certificate of
Registration and Official Receipt18 issued by the Land Transportation Office in the name of Jose
Biag. When they asked the two accused about their discoveries, Lagat and Palalay voluntarily
answered that the name in the papers is that of the owner of the tricycle, whom they killed and
dumped along Angadanan and San Guillermo Road, when they carnapped his tricyle. PO2
Salvador alleged that upon hearing this revelation, they again informed Lagat and Palalay that
anything they say would be used against them, and that they had a right to counsel. Thereafter,
they coordinated with the PNP of Angadanan Police Station, and together with the two accused,
they proceeded to Angadanan-San Guillermo Road, where they found Biag’s body in a ravine
just after the bridge near the road.19

The prosecution’s last witness, PO2 Ignacio corroborated PO2 Salvador’s testimony on the
events that led them to the tricycle, the palay, the two accused, and the body of Biag. He also
confirmed PO2 Salvador’s claim that they had informed the two accused of their rights but the
latter just ignored them; hence, they continued with their investigation.20 PO2 Ignacio added that
the two accused also told them how they killed Biag, to wit:

A- They rented a tricycle from Santiago to Alicia but they proceeded to Angadanan. And upon
arrival at the site, they poked a knife to the driver and the driver ran away. They chased him and
stabbed him, sir.21

Upon cross-examination, PO2 Ignacio averred that they were not able to recover the murder
weapon despite diligent efforts to look for it and that they had questioned the people at Alice
Palay Buying Station and were told that the two accused had no other companion. PO2 Ignacio
also admitted that while they informed Lagat and Palalay of their constitutional rights, the two
were never assisted by counsel at any time during the custodial investigation.22

The prosecution also submitted the Post-Mortem Autopsy Report23 on Biag of Dr. Edgar
Romanchito P. Bayang, the Assistant City Health and Medico-Legal Officer of Santiago City.
The Report showed that Biag was likely killed between 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. of April 12,
2004, and that he had sustained three stab wounds, an incise wound, two hack wounds and an
"avulsion of the skin extending towards the abdomen."24

After the prosecution rested its case, the accused filed a Motion to Dismiss on Demurrer to
Evidence25 without leave of court26 on the ground that the prosecution failed to prove their guilt
beyond reasonable doubt. Lagat and Palalay averred that their constitutional rights on custodial
investigation were grossly violated as they were interrogated for hours without counsel, relatives,
or any disinterested third person to assist them. Moreover, the admissions they allegedly made
were not supported by documentary evidence. Palalay further claimed that Rumbaoa’s testimony
showed that he had a "swelling above his right eye" and "a knife wound in his left arm," which
suggests that he was maltreated while under police custody.27

The accused also claimed that the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution was not
sufficient to convict them. They averred that aside from the alleged admissions they had made,
the prosecution had nothing else: they had no object evidence for the bloodstains allegedly found
in the tricycle; the murder weapon was never found; and no eyewitness aside from the police
officers was presented to show that they were in possession of the tricycle at the time they were
arrested. Lagat and Palalay argued that the prosecution failed to establish an unbroken chain of
events that showed their guilt beyond reasonable doubt, thus, they were entitled to enjoy the
constitutional presumption of innocence absent proof that they were guilty beyond reasonable
doubt.28

As the accused filed their Demurrer to Evidence without leave of court, they in effect waived
their right to present evidence, and submitted the case for judgment on the basis of the evidence
for the prosecution.29

On March 19, 2007, the RTC rendered a Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE in the light of the foregoing considerations the Court finds the accused Renato
Lagat y Gawan and James Palalay y Villarosa GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of qualified
carnapping and hereby sentences each of them to the penalty of reclusion perpetua. They are also
ORDERED TO PAY Florida Biag the sum of Twelve thousand three hundred pesos (₱
12,300.00) as actual damages plus Fifty thousand pesos (₱ 50,000.00) for death indemnity and
another Fifty thousand pesos (₱ 50,000.00) for moral damages.30

After evaluating the evidence the prosecution presented, the RTC agreed with the accused that
their rights were violated during their custodial investigation as they had no counsel to assist
them. Thus, whatever admissions they had made, whether voluntarily or not, could not be used
against them and were inadmissible in evidence.31

However, the RTC held that despite the absence of an eyewitness, the prosecution was able to
establish enough circumstantial evidence to prove that Lagat and Palalay committed the crime, to
wit:

1. The accused were caught by the Alicia PNP in possession of Biag’s tricycle, loaded
with stolen palay;
2. The accused ran immediately when they saw the Alicia PNP approaching them;

3. The Alicia PNP found bloodstains on the tricycle and Biag’s wallet with documents to
prove that Biag owned the tricycle;

4. The Alicia PNP contacted the PNP of Santiago City to inquire about a Jose Biag, and
this was how the barangay officials of Santiago City and Florida found out that Biag’s
tricycle was with the Alicia PNP;

5. Biag left early morning on April 12, 2005 and never returned home;

6. The accused themselves led the Alicia PNP and Barangay Captain Dulay and Rumbaoa
to where they dumped Biag’s body.32

The RTC convicted Lagat and Palalay of the crime of carnapping, qualified by the killing of
Biag, which, according to the RTC, appeared to have been done in the course of the
carnapping.33

Lagat and Palalay asked the RTC to reconsider its Decision on the grounds that it erred in giving
full credence to the testimonies of the prosecution’s witnesses and in relying on the
circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution.34

On May 29, 2007, the RTC denied35 this motion, holding that the testimonies of the witnesses
were credible and supported by the attending facts and circumstances, and that there was
sufficient circumstantial evidence to convict the accused.

Lagat and Palalay went36 to the Court of Appeals, asserting that their guilt was not established
beyond reasonable doubt.37 They averred that circumstantial evidence, to be sufficient for a
judgment of conviction, "must exclude each and every hypothesis consistent with innocence,"38
which was allegedly not the case in their situation. They elaborated on why the circumstantial
evidence the RTC enumerated could not be taken against them:

1. The accused’s possession of the tricycle cannot prove that they killed its owner;

2. Their act of fleeing may be due to the stolen palay (which is not the subject of this
case), and not the tricycle;

3. No evidence was given that would link the bloodstains found in the tricycle to Biag
himself. They could have easily been Palalay’s, who was shown to have a knife wound;
and

4. The accused’s act of pointing to the police and the barangay officials the ravine where
Biag’s body was dumped was part of their interrogation without counsel, which the RTC
itself declared as inadmissible in evidence.39
On October 8, 2008, the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision with the following dispositive
portion:

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated March 19, 2007 of the RTC, Branch 21, Santiago City, in
Criminal Case No. 21-4949, is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that accused-appellants
Renato Lagat y Gawan and James Palalay y Villarosa are ordered to pay to private complainant
the increased amount of ₱ 14,900.00 as actual damages.40

In affirming the conviction of the accused, the Court of Appeals held that the elements of
carnapping were all present in this case. The Court of Appeals pointed out that Lagat and Palalay
were in possession of the missing tricycle when they were apprehended by the Alicia PNP.
Moreover, they failed to offer any explanation as to how they came to be in possession of the
tricycle. The Court of Appeals also agreed with the RTC that whatever confession or admission
the Alicia PNP extracted out of the accused could not be used in evidence for having been done
without the assistance of counsel. The Court of Appeals nonetheless affirmed the RTC’s
judgment as it was "convinced" that the following circumstantial evidence supported the
conviction of the accused for qualified carnapping:

1. Biag and his tricycle went missing on April 12, 2005;

2. Lagat and Palalay were found in unauthorized possession of the tricycle on April 13,
2005;

3. The Alicia PNP, upon inspection of the tricycle, found traces of blood inside it,
together with the original receipt and certificate of registration of the vehicle in the name
of Jose Biag;

4. Palalay had a stab wound on his left arm when the Alicia PNP presented him and Lagat
to Brgy. Capt. Dulay and prosecution witness Rumbaoa;

5. Biag bore five (5) hack wounds on his body when the Alicia PNP recovered his corpse
in a ravine; and

6. Lagat and Palalay failed to account for their possession of the bloodstained tricycle
immediately after their arrest.41

The accused are now before us with the same lone assignment of error they posited before the
Court of Appeals, to wit:

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS


GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO
ESTABLISH HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.42

Ruling of the Court


Lagat and Palalay have been charged and convicted of the crime of qualified carnapping under
Republic Act. No. 653943 or the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972. Section 2 of the Act defines
"carnapping" and "motor vehicle" as follows:

"Carnapping" is the taking, with intent to gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another without
the latter’s consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force
upon things.

"Motor vehicle" is any vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power using the
public highways, but excepting road rollers, trolley cars, street-sweepers, sprinklers, lawn
mowers, bulldozers, graders, fork-lifts, amphibian trucks, and cranes if not used on public
highways, vehicles, which run only on rails or tracks, and tractors, trailers and traction engines of
all kinds used exclusively for agricultural purposes. Trailers having any number of wheels, when
propelled or intended to be propelled by attachment to a motor vehicle, shall be classified as
separate motor vehicle with no power rating.44

The elements of carnapping as defined and penalized under the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972 are
the following:

1. That there is an actual taking of the vehicle;

2. That the vehicle belongs to a person other than the offender himself;

3. That the taking is without the consent of the owner thereof; or that the taking was
committed by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force
upon things; and

4. That the offender intends to gain from the taking of the vehicle.45

The records of this case show that all the elements of carnapping are present and were proven
during trial.

The tricycle, which was definitively ascertained to belong to Biag, as evidenced by the
registration papers, was found in Lagat and Palalay’s possession. Aside from this, the
prosecution was also able to establish that Lagat and Palalay fled the scene when the Alicia PNP
tried to approach them at the palay buying station. To top it all, Lagat and Palalay failed to give
any reason why they had Biag’s tricycle. Their unexplained possession raises the presumption
that they were responsible for the unlawful taking of the tricycle. Section 3(j), Rule 131 of the
Rules of Court states that:

[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; otherwise, that thing which a person possesses, or exercises acts of
ownership over, are owned by him.

In Litton Mills, Inc. v. Sales,46 we said that for such presumption to arise, it must be proven that:
(a) the property was stolen; (b) it was committed recently; (c) that the stolen property was found
in the possession of the accused; and (d) the accused is unable to explain his possession
satisfactorily.47 As mentioned above, all these were proven by the prosecution during trial. Thus,
it is presumed that Lagat and Palalay had unlawfully taken Biag’s tricycle. In People v.
Bustinera,48 this Court defined "unlawful taking," as follows:

Unlawful taking, or apoderamiento, is the taking of the motor vehicle without the consent of the
owner, or by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force upon things;
it is deemed complete from the moment the offender gains possession of the thing, even if he has
no opportunity to dispose of the same.49

Lagat and Palalay’s intent to gain from the carnapped tricycle was also proven as they were
caught in a palay buying station, on board the stolen tricycle, which they obviously used to
transport the cavans of palay they had stolen and were going to sell at the station. In Bustinera,
we elucidated on the concept of "intent to gain" and said:

Intent to gain or animus lucrandi is an internal act, presumed from the unlawful taking of the
motor vehicle. Actual gain is irrelevant as the important consideration is the intent to gain. The
term "gain" is not merely limited to pecuniary benefit but also includes the benefit which in any
other sense may be derived or expected from the act which is performed. Thus, the mere use of
the thing which was taken without the owner’s consent constitutes gain.50

Having established that the elements of carnapping are present in this case, we now go to the
argument of the two accused that they cannot be convicted based on the circumstantial evidence
presented by the prosecution.

Under Section 4, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, circumstantial evidence is sufficient for
conviction if:

(a) There is more than one circumstance;

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

(c) The combination of all the circumstances results in a moral certainty that the accused,
to the exclusion of all others, is the one who has committed the crime.

In People v. Mansueto,51 we said:

Circumstantial evidence is that evidence which proves a fact or series of facts from which the
facts in issue may be established by inference. Such evidence is founded on experience and
observed facts and coincidences establishing a connection between the known and proven facts
and the facts sought to be proved.52

Hence, to justify a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, the combination of


circumstances must be interwoven in such a way as to leave no reasonable doubt as to the guilt
of the accused.53
A careful and exhaustive examination of the evidence presented, excluding those that are
inadmissible, show that the circumstantial evidence, when viewed as a whole, effectively
establishes the guilt of Lagat and Palalay beyond reasonable doubt. We considered the following
pieces of evidence as convincing:

First, Lagat and Palalay were found in possession of the tricycle the same day that it, together
with its owner Biag, was reported missing.

Second, Lagat and Palalay were found at a palay buying station, with the stolen tricycle packed
with cavans of palay allegedly stolen in Alicia, Isabela.

Third, Lagat and Palalay who were then on board the tricycle, jumped and ran the moment they
saw the Alicia PNP approaching them.

Fourth, Lagat and Palalay could not explain to the Alicia PNP why they were in possession of
Biag’s tricycle.

Fifth, Biag’s wallet and his tricycle’s registration papers were found in the tricycle upon its
inspection by the Alicia PNP.

Sixth, Biag’s body bore hack wounds as evidenced by the post-mortem autopsy done on him,
while his tricycle had traces of blood in it.

The foregoing circumstantial evidence only leads to the conclusion that Lagat and Palalay
conspired to kill Biag in order to steal his tricycle. Direct proof that the two accused conspired is
not essential as it may be inferred from their conduct before, during, and after their commission
of the crime that they acted with a common purpose and design.54 The pieces of evidence
presented by the prosecution are consistent with one another and the only rational proposition
that can be drawn therefrom is that the accused are guilty of killing Biag to carnap his tricycle.

When a person is killed or raped in the course of or on the occasion of the carnapping, the crime
of carnapping is qualified and the penalty is increased pursuant to Section 14 of Republic Act
No. 6539, as amended:

Section 14. Penalty for Carnapping. Any person who is found guilty of carnapping, as this term
is defined in Section Two of this Act, shall, irrespective of the value of motor vehicle taken, be
punished by imprisonment for not less than fourteen years and eight months and not more than
seventeen years and four months, when the carnapping is committed without violence or
intimidation of persons, or force upon things; and by imprisonment for not less than seventeen
years and four months and not more than thirty years, when the carnapping is committed by
means of violence against or intimidation of any person, or force upon things; and the penalty of
reclusion perpetua to death shall be imposed when the owner, driver or occupant of the
carnapped motor vehicle is killed or raped in the course of the commission of the carnapping or
on the occasion thereof. (As amended by R.A. No. 7659.) (Emphasis ours)
As there was no aggravating circumstance attendant in the commission of the crime, the RTC
properly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

In conformity with prevailing jurisprudence, we affirm the award of ₱ 50,000.00 as civil


indemnity ex delicto for the death of Jose Biag and ₱ 50,000.00 as moral damages for the proven
mental suffering of his wife as a result of his untimely death. However, when actual damages
proven by receipts during trial amount to less than ₱ 25,000.00, as in this case, the award of
temperate damages for ₱ 25,000.00 is justified in lieu of actual damages of a lesser amount.55
Thus, an award of ₱ 25,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of the amount of ₱ 14,900.00 that
the Court of Appeals awarded as actual damages is proper in this case.

Both the RTC and the Court of Appeals failed to consider that under Article 2206 of the Civil
Code, the accused are also jointly and severally liable for the loss of the earning capacity of Biag
and such indemnity should be paid to his heirs.56 In People v. Jadap,57 this Court said:

As a rule, documentary evidence should be presented to substantiate the claim for damages for
loss of earning capacity. By way of exception, damages for loss of earning capacity may be
awarded despite the absence of documentary evidence when (1) the deceased is self-employed
and earning less than the minimum wage under current labor laws, in which case judicial notice
may be taken of the fact that in the deceased's line of work no documentary evidence is
available; or (2) the deceased is employed as a daily wage worker earning less than the minimum
wage under current labor laws. In this case, no documentary evidence was presented to prove the
claim of the victim’s heirs for damages by reason of loss of earning capacity. However, the
victim’s father testified that at the time of his son’s death, he was only 20 years old and was
working as a mason with a monthly income of ₱ 3,000.00. We find the father’s testimony
sufficient to justify the award of damages for loss of earning capacity.58

Biag’s widow, Florida, testified that Biag worked as a farmer, tanod, and tricycle driver, and that
his income amounted to ₱ 40,000.00 per cropping season as a farmer, ₱ 2,000.00 per month as a
tanod, and ₱ 300.00 per day as a tricycle driver. However, since the prosecution failed to present
any document pertaining to Biag’s appointment as a tanod, or that he actually worked as a
farmer, we shall consider only his earnings as a tricycle driver. According to the death
certificate59 submitted by the prosecution, Biag was 56 years old at the time of his death.1âwphi1

The amount of damages recoverable for the loss of earning capacity of the deceased is based on
two factors: 1) the number of years on the basis of which the damages shall be computed; and 2)
the rate at which the losses sustained by the heirs of the deceased should be fixed. The first factor
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.60 Net income is computed
by deducting from the amount of the victim’s gross income the amount of his living expenses.
As there is no proof of Biag’s living expenses, the net income is estimated to be 50% of the gross
annual income.61 Thus, the loss of earning capacity of the deceased is computed as follows:

Net Earning Capacity = life expectancy x [gross annual income – living expenses]62

= 2/3 [80-age at time of death] x [gross annual income - 50% of gross annual income]
= 2/3 [80-56] x [₱ 109,500.00 - ₱ 54,750.00]

= 16 x ₱ 54,750.00

= ₱ 876,000.00

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM with MODIFICATION the October 8, 2008 decision of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 02869. Accused-appellants Renato Lagat y Gawan and
James Palalay y Villarosa are found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
QUALIFIED CARNAPPING and are sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. They
are hereby ORDERED to pay the heirs of the victim Jose Biag the following: (a) ₱ 50,000.00 as
civil indemnity; (b) ₱ 50,000.00 as moral damages; (c) ₱ 25,000.00 as temperate damages; (d) ₱
876,000.00 as loss of earning capacity; and (e) interest on all damages awarded at the rate of 6%
per annum from the date of finality of this judgment.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-24424 March 30, 1970

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ANGELES CRUZ, defendant-appellant.

Office of the Solicitor General Antonio P. Barredo, Assistant Solicitor General Felicisimo R. Rosete and Solicitor Conrado T. Limcaoco for
plaintiff-appellee.

Mamerto J. Singson and Francisco Puray for defendant-appellant.

CASTRO, J.:

Ten persons were charged with the offense of robbery with homicide committed in the early morning of November 3, 1962 in the barrio of
Goso-on, municipality of Carmen, province of Agusan. Six of them, described in the indictment by the appellations John, Peter, Joseph,
Walter, Caezar and Roberto, all surnamed Doe, were, up to the promulgation of the judgment a quo, at large. Of the remaining four accused,
two, Inecito Hevero and Nonilon Butao, were, after due trial, acquitted for insufficiency of evidence. The last two, Angeles Cruz and Arturo
Bonifacio, were found guilty, and each was sentenced to life imprisonment; both were also adjudged, jointly and severally, to indemnify the
heirs of the two deceased victims, in the sum of P6,000 each. From this decision of the Court of First Instance of Agusan, these two
appealed.

Bonifacio later withdrew his appeal; under Resolution of November 16, 1966, we granted the withdrawal.

Only the appeal of Angeles Cruz is the object of this review.

The heart of this appeal is the correctness of the identification of Angeles Cruz by the two principal witnesses for the prosecution, the sisters
Zenaida and Emma Cabillo, 15 and 12 years of age, respectively, in June 1963 when they testified in Court.

We address the question: Was the identification of Angeles Cruz so positive and certain as to meet the inflexible requirement of proof beyond
reasonable doubt of his criminal participation? Our answer is in the negative.

The prosecution's version may be summarized briefly. A band of robbers, numbering from five to ten, at about one o'clock in the morning of
November 3, 1962, broke into the house of Tarciano Cabillo in Goso-on, Carmen, Agusan. They scaled the front wall by the use of an
improvised ladder. Upon reaching its veranda, they drilled holes in the wall to loosen the boards, after the removal of some of which they
gained entrance into the house. Mixed errie sounds of screaming and simultaneous discharge of firearms forthwith followed. Soon thereafter
the robbers hurriedly fled, away to a waiting speedboat and out to the sea and darkness. Behind them lay a terror-stricken household, its
master Tarciano Cabillo dead from a spray of bullets, and a housemaid, Margarita Cabilogan, profusely bleeding from a gunshot wound
which inexorably caused her death.

It was the integrated testimony of Zenaida and Emma Cabillo upon which the trial court principally based its conviction of Angeles Cruz. They
were roused from slumber, so they testified, by the instantaneous presence of at least five men, all masked, in the living room where they
were sleeping. When they had sprung to their feet, they were grabbed by two of the robbers. Zenaida was held fast by Arturo Bonifacio, with
his arms slung around her waist, while Emma was held in a similar fashion by Angeles Cruz; both girls were utilized as shields when the
robbers commenced firing into the master's bedroom where Tarciano Cabillo apparently held out for sometime with his own gun. After
resistance had altogether ceased, the robbers ransacked every known drawer and container. Zenaida and Emma were then forced down to
the store below where, with the aid of electric lights, they marked the identities of Arturo Bonifacio and Angeles Cruz whose masks had fallen
off during the confusion. The drawers in the store were chiseled open and their contents seized by the robbers. Angeles Cruz then returned
upstairs, Emma with him, unlocked the door to the master's bedroom, and ransacked the two drawers therein. Zenaida, meanwhile,
succeeded in slipping out to safe refuge in the house of a neighbor, Ben Maol. Emma had remained upstairs, after the robbers beat a hasty
escape, stunned by the sight of her father lying inert in a pool of blood.
The appellant's challenge against the identification made of him by Zenaida and Emma is two-pronged: first, the conditions that hapless
morning were not conducive to, but on the contrary were suppressive of, definitive identification; and second, the subsequent actuations and
declaration of Emma and Zenaida are irreconcilable with their avowed certainty as to the identity of the appellant Cruz.

We have committed the records of this case to an exacting study. Unhappily, our minds cannot rest easy on the evidence of guilt adduced
against the appellant.

In the wee hours after midnight when the robbery took place, what was the lighting situation in the house? Let us examine the record. In her
statements given to the Butuan City police just a few hours after the perpetration of the crime, and to the police authorities of Carmen the day
after, Zenaida was explicit that the living room of the house was sufficiently lighted to enable her to identify at least two of the armed
malefactors. On the witness stand, however, she admitted, contrary to her statements to the police, that the living room was unlighted and
"so dark that I could not see clearly their faces that night." It was only later when they were down in the store that she came face to face with
two of the robbers, one of these being the appellant Cruz. In the latter part of her testimony in court, however, she reneged on her previous
declaration and stated that while they were still upstairs, the light in the living room was switched on by one of the malefactors who
commenced to ransack the drawers in that room. This narration hardly squares with the testimony of the other girl, Emma, who testified that
the light in the living room was already on and was put out only when the firing started. Completely negating the testimony of these two girls,
their mother, Remedios Cabillo, declared positively that the entire house was enveloped in darkness at the time of the perpetration of the
crime, except for a small lamp in the master's bedroom — and this, because the family was economizing on electrical consumption.

The lighting situation in the house was therefore wholly uncertain, and renders highly suspect and questionable, if not altogether infirm, the
ability of the two girls to shape out a positive identification of the appellant Cruz.

But let us probe further into their other declarations. Under oath they testified that all the robbers were masked. It was downstairs in the store
that these two sister allegedly identified the faces of Bonifacio and Cruz, when the latter's masks suddenly fell off their faces. Rendered
dramatic by the production in court of two handkerchiefs alleged to have been recovered from the scene of the crime that morning, this twist
is remarkable for its inverisimilitude. In the first place, these handkerchiefs were not properly or satisfactorily identified because Zenaida, who
had supposedly found them, could not say whether those produced in court were the self-same handkerchiefs that she had found. In the
second place, these handkerchiefs were alleged to have been turned over by Zenaida to municipal judge Quirino Battad of Carmen, yet
when called to the witness stand the latter failed to affirm the discovery of such handkerchiefs. Finally, no mention — not even the slightest
hint — was ever made of these handkerchiefs in the various statements given by the two girls to the police investigators. A facet so
significant and vital as the falling off of the masks, the two girls would not have escaped mentioning when shortly after the incident they were
closely interrogated by the police.

In the afternoon of November 3, 1962, Zenaida and Emma were brought to the police department in Butuan City and, while there, made to
examine photographs of several "tough guys" in that city. Zenaida singled out Arturo Bonifacio from the pictures, pointing to him as one of
the robbers. Just then, one Sgt. Baril of the Philippine Constabulary remarked to her that Bonifacio belonged to a gang, a member of which
was Angeles Cruz.

That very same afternoon, Angeles Cruz was picked up in front of a movie house and brought to the police station for questioning. He was
made to walk and turn around in the presence of Zenaida and Emma. Cruz was not placed in a police lineup, contrary to standard station
house verification procedure, to test the accuracy of the witnesses' memory, and to afford a mere suspect a fair chance of early relief from
the inconvenience inflicted on one who is mistakenly identified. Moreover, Zenaida and Emma testified that the several accused, including
Cruz, were pointed out to them as the persons suspected by the police as the perpetrators of the robbery committed in Goso-on, and as
notorious "tough guys" in Butuan City. The identification at the police station was attended, as the two girls themselves admitted, by a great
deal of whispered conversations as well as by at least one unexplained conference elsewhere in the municipal building, at which they were
present, immediately prior to their being confronted with the accused.

The manner by which Emma and Zenaida were made to identify the accused at the police station was pointedly suggestive, generated
confidence where there was none, activated visual imagination, and, all told, subverted their reliability as eyewitnesses. This unusual, coarse
and highly singular method of identification, which revolts against the accepted principles of scientific crime detection, alienates the esteem
of every just man, and commands neither our respect nor acceptance.

Finally, chief of police Dionisio Pacon of Carmen, Agusan, whom the lower court praised and commended in no uncertain terms as

... an impartial witness... incumbent Chief of Police ... no relation to any one of the accused ... no motive to distort the
truth ... his testimony ringing with truth and sincerity,

testified candidly on the witnesses' efforts at identification of the appellant Cruz. Pacon's unrebutted testimony is
hereunder reproduced:

Q — What transpired when Angeles Cruz arrived in the police station? A — He was brought to a
table which was fenced around and he was interrogated while the children were outside.

Q — Then what transpired? A — The asked the children who were beside me.

Q — What did they ask? A — They were asked if they know the person who was sitting near the
table of the office. Then I asked Emma first whether or not she know the person (referring to
Angeles Cruz) and Emma answered: 'He is not the one.' Then Captain Villaremo went outside
and inside the railing and related something to them and asked the children if said person was
the one who, one of the members of the barcada of Arturo Bonifacio, robbed their father in Goso-
on; that upon being asked, she said that he is not the one. 'Keep on watching and examine
whether or not he is one who robbed your father in Goso-on,' Captain Villaremo said. So the
children kept on watching Angeles Cruz. Shortly thereafter, Captain Villaremo asked again if he is
the one and told them, saying: 'He is the one, Day, no?' He is the one, Day, no ?' And then
Zenaida said, 'Maybe he is the one. After that the children were brought to the P.C.
Headquarters." (Dionisio Pacon, t.s.n., pp. 300-301, February 5, 1964.)

We must hasten, at this juncture, without need of elaboration, to stress that the record is sufficiently interspersed with reliable proof of the
identification of Arturo Bonifacio as one of the particeps criminis. In sharp contrast, there is a paucity of evidence of identification with respect
to the appellant Cruz.

Although indications there are in the record that the alibi offered by the appellant Cruz may stand searching scrutiny, we will merely repeat,
as we come to the end of our travail, what we said in one case: "Although alibi is the weakest defense that an accused can avail of, it
acquires commensurate strength where, as in this case, no positive and proper identification has been made by the witnesses of the
offender. The prosecution has the onus probandi in establishing the guilt of the accused and the weakness of the defense not relieve it of this
responsibility." (People vs. Baquiran, L-20153, June 29, 1967, 20 SCRA 451, 460-461.)

ACCORDINGLY, the judgment a quo is reversed, and the appellant Angeles Cruz is hereby acquitted. Costs de officio.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Fernando, Teehankee and Villamor, JJ., concur.

Barredo, J., took no part.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

Plaintiff-Appellee,

- versus -

LEE RODRIGO, JOHN DOE @ BUNSO, and PETER DOE @

LYN-LYN,

Accused.

LEE RODRIGO,

Accused-Appellant.

G.R. No. 176159

Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,

carpio MORALES,

TINGA,

VELASCO, JR., and

BRION, JJ.

Promulgated:

September 11, 2008

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

DECISION

BRION, J.:
Before us for review is the Decision[1] dated September 18, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01531 which affirmed with modification[2] the decision dated June
27, 2005 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 11, Malolos City, Bulacan in Crim. Case
No. 917-M-2001.[3] The RTC’s decision found the accused-appellant Lee Rodrigo (Rodrigo)
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of robbery with homicide, and sentenced him as
follows:

WHEREFORE, this Court finds the herein accused, Lee Rodrigo, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of Robbery with Homicide under Article 294, par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby
sentences him to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the heirs of the late Paquito
Buna the following sums of money, to wit:

1. [P50,000.00] as civil indemnity;

2. P50,000.00 as moral damages; and

3. P60,000.00 as actual damages.

xxx

SO ORDERED.

The Antecedents

The basic facts of the robbery with homicide are not disputed. The spouses Paquito Buna and
Rosita Cabrera-Buna[4] (Rosita) owned a restaurant located at Area H in San Rafael, Bulacan.
The spouses were in their restaurant at around 10:20 a.m. on October 27, 2000 together with
their two helpers; Paquito was cooking in the kitchen while Rosita and the helpers were
attending to two customers. Three men, armed with guns, suddenly entered the restaurant,
declared a holdup, and immediately proceeded to divest the two customers of their money and
the restaurant of its earnings of P500.00. While the robbery was in progress, Paquito came out of
the kitchen and, seeing what was happening, grabbed a "bangko"; he was instantly fired upon
three times by one of the armed men while the other two turned their backs and laughed. After
the robbers left, Rosita rushed Paquito to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Rosita afterwards filed a criminal complaint through her Sinumpaang Salaysay (dated November
24, 2000)[5] where she identified Rodrigo as among the men who robbed the restaurant and
killed her husband. On February 28, 2001, Rodrigo and two men bearing the aliases of "Lyn
Lyn"[6] and "Bunso" were formally charged of the special complex crime of robbery with
homicide. The Information[7] reads:

That on or about the 27th day of October, 2000, in the Municipality of San Jose del Monte,
Province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping one another, armed
with short firearms, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent of gain
and by means of force, violence and intimidation, take, rob, and carry away with them P500.00
belonging to the spouses Paquito Buna and Rosita Cabrera-Buna, to the damage and prejudice of
the said spouses in the amount of P500.00; and on the occasion of the commission of the said
robbery or by reason thereof, the herein accused, in furtherance of their conspiracy, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, attack, assault and shoot with the short firearms
Paquito Buna, thereby inflicting on him serious physical injuries which directly caused his death.

Contrary to law.

Rodrigo was arrested on May 29, 2001. The other two accused remain at large. Rodrigo pleaded
not guilty upon arraignment and trial on the merits subsequently followed.

The prosecution introduced two witnesses – Rosita and Dr. Ivan Richard Viray, the medico-legal
officer whose testimony was dispensed with by agreement of the parties.[8] Thus, Rosita stood
as the prosecution’s only witness on the identity of the accused and on the commission of the
crime.

As an eyewitness, Rosita identified Rodrigo in court as one of the three armed men who robbed
the restaurant and its customers.[9] She testified that she saw Rodrigo as one of the robbers who
entered the restaurant; that one of the three immediately declared a holdup;[10] that Rodrigo had
a firearm in his possession;[11] that he brandished his firearm and threatened the occupants of
the restaurant in the course of the robbery;[12] and that Rodrigo left with the other robbers after
achieving their evil purpose.[13]

On re-cross-examination, Rosita admitted that she initially identified Rodrigo by means of a


photograph shown to her at the police station; the photograph was the only one shown to her at
that time.[14]

After the presentation of the following documentary evidence: (a) Sinumpaang Salaysay dated
November 24, 2000 of Rosita Buna (Exhibits "A" and "A-1");[15] (b) List of Expenses Incurred
for the wake, funeral, and burial of Paquito Buna (Exhibit "B" with submarkings);[16] and (c)
Certificate of Death of Paquito Buna (Exhibit "C"),[17] the prosecution rested its case.

The case for the defense relied solely on the testimony of Rodrigo who interposed the defenses
of denial and alibi.[18] He claimed that he was at his house at FVR I, Norzagaray, Bulacan with
his wife, cousin, and neighbor on the alleged date and time of the commission of the crime. He
was at the time watching television while taking care of his child. On cross-examination, he
admitted that the distance from Barangay San Rafael, Sapang Palay to his house was more or
less one kilometer; the distance can be covered in 10 minutes through a single tricycle and
jeepney ride. He also admitted that he came to know that he was being implicated in the case two
days after the October 27, 2000 robbery-killing incident.[19]

The RTC convicted Rodrigo on June 27, 2005 of the crime of robbery with homicide on the basis
of Rosita’s testimony which the court found to be candid, straightforward, firm, and without any
trace of any improper motive. This testimony, an eyewitness account, confirmed that Rosita saw
Rodrigo as among the three robbers who robbed the restaurant and who fled after divesting the
restaurant of its earnings and the customers of their money, killing Paquito in the course of the
robbery. The RTC declared that it was not important that Rodrigo did not actually shoot Paquito
since there was a conspiracy; it did not matter who among the conspirators did the actual
shooting as the act of one was the act of all, and all were equally liable. The court refused to
believe Rodrigo’s defenses of denial and alibi in the absence of any corroborating evidence and
in light of Rosita’s positive and categorical eyewitness identification and account of the crime.

The CA, to where Rodrigo appealed his conviction, affirmed the lower court’s decision, with the
modification that the award of civil indemnity should be reduced to P50,000.00. As the lower
court did, the CA gave premium to Rosita’s identification when it said: ". . .Rodrigo was
positively identified by Rosita Buna as one of the three (3) armed men who perpetrated the
crime. She was straightforward in narrating how accused-appellant Rodrigo and his cohorts
entered their restaurant, armed with guns and declared a hold-up. . ." On the matter of
identification, the appellate court significantly noted that: Rosita identified accused-appellant
Rodrigo from the picture shown to her at the police station, and months later when she saw him
in San Jose del Monte Police Station, and that she pointed to accused-appellant Rodrigo inside
the courtroom during the trial of the case as among those who robbed them in their restaurant.
[20]

Rodrigo elevated his conviction to this Court, citing the following reversible errors committed by
the RTC and CA in their decisions:

(1) In convicting Rodrigo of the crime charged despite the failure of the prosecution to prove his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt; and

(2) In relying on the alleged weakness of the defense evidence rather than on the strength of the
prosecution evidence.

Rodrigo particularly cited the inconsistencies in Rosita’s testimony regarding his participation in
the crime. In his view, these inconsistencies, together with his alibi, showed that he was not
actually present at the crime scene. The identification Rosita made at "the police station was not
sufficient and convincing to lead one to believe that Lee Rodrigo was among the malefactors.
The act of the wife (herein witness) is expected from someone who had just lost a loved one
unexpectedly and in an unacceptable manner. Such form of identification clearly impaired her
credibility as a witness."[21] Further, Rodrigo asserted:

However, before the doctrine that positive identification prevails over denial or alibi may apply,
it is necessary that the identification must first be shown to be positive and beyond question.
Even though inherently weak, the defense of alibi or denial nonetheless acquires commensurate
strength where no positive and proper identification has been made by the prosecution witness of
the offender, as the prosecution still has the onus probandi in establishing the guilt of the
accused. (People v. Crispin, 327 SCRA 167). While it is true that denial and alibi are weak
defenses, it is equally settled that where the evidence of the prosecution is itself feeble,
particularly as to the identity of the accused as the author of the crime, the defense of denial and
alibi assume importance and acquire commensurate strength. (People v. Giganto, Sr. 336 SCRA
294).[22]
For its part, the People banked on the great weight accorded to the factual findings of the trial
court, given its unique position of having observed the witnesses while testifying. It heavily
relied, too, on Rosita’s credibility and the positive identification she made as an eyewitness,[23]
and the fact that she was not actuated by any improper motive.[24] Predictably, the People
derided the alibi for being inherently weak and for failure to demonstrate that it was physically
impossible for the accused to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of its
commission.[25]

Our Ruling

We find the petition impressed with merit and acquit Rodrigo of the crime charged.

Presumption of Innocence

While an accused stands before the court burdened by a previous preliminary investigation
finding that there is probable cause to believe that he committed the crime charged, the judicial
determination of his guilt or innocence necessarily starts with the recognition of his
constitutional right to be presumed innocent of the charge he faces. This principle, a right of the
accused, is enshrined no less in our Constitution.[26] It embodies as well a duty on the part of the
court to ascertain that no person is made to answer for a crime unless his guilt is proven beyond
reasonable doubt.[27] Its primary consequence in our criminal justice system is the basic rule
that the prosecution carries the burden of overcoming the presumption through proof of guilt of
the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, a criminal case rises or falls on the strength of the
prosecution’s case, not on the weakness of the defense. Once the prosecution overcomes the
presumption of innocence by proving the elements of the crime and the identity of the accused as
perpetrator beyond reasonable doubt, the burden of evidence then shifts to the defense which
shall then test the strength of the prosecution’s case either by showing that no crime was in fact
committed or that the accused could not have committed or did not commit the imputed crime, or
at the very least, by casting doubt on the guilt of the accused. We point all these out as they are
the principles and dynamics that shall guide and structure the review of this case.

Mode of Review

We mention, too, that the review of a case opens the whole case for our consideration, including
the questions not raised by the parties.[28] Our role in the justice system is not so much to
penalize as to see that justice is done. Towards this end, ours is the obligation to explore all
aspects of a case, including those that the parties have glossed over or have not fully explored.

The Court, in discharging its mandated duty, is tasked to consider two crucial points in
sustaining a judgment of conviction: first, the identification of the accused as perpetrator of the
crime, taking into account the credibility of the prosecution witness who made the identification
as well as the prosecution’s compliance with legal and constitutional standards; and second, all
the elements constituting the crime were duly proven by the prosecution to be present. Failing in
either of these, a judgment for acquittal is in order.

Identification of the Accused


The greatest care should be taken in considering the identification of the accused especially,
when this identification is made by a sole witness and the judgment in the case totally depends
on the reliability of the identification. This level of care and circumspection applies with greater
vigor when, as in the present case, the issue goes beyond pure credibility into constitutional
dimensions arising from the due process rights of the accused.

In the present case, the records show that Rodrigo’s arrest and eventual conviction were wholly
based on the testimony of Rosita who testified as an eyewitness and who identified Rodrigo as
one of the perpetrators of the crime. To the prosecution, the trial court, and the appellate court,
an eyewitness identification coming from the widow of the victim appeared to have been enough
to qualify the identification as fully positive and credible. Thus, none of them appeared to have
fully examined the real evidentiary worth of the identification Rosita made. The defense, for its
part, grasped the possible flaw in the prosecution’s case, but did not fully pursue its case and its
arguments on the basis of the existing jurisprudence on the matter.

The aspect of this case that remains unexplored, despite the availability of supporting evidence,
is Rosita’s out-of-court identification of Rodrigo, done for the first time through a lone
photograph shown to her at the police station, and subsequently, by personal confrontation at the
same police station at an undisclosed time (presumably, soon after Rodrigo’s arrest).
Jurisprudence has acknowledged that out-of-court identification of an accused through
photographs or mug shots is one of the established procedures in pinning down criminals.[29]
Other procedures for out-of-court identifications may be conducted through show-ups where the
suspect alone is brought face to face with the witness (a procedure that appears to have been
done in the present case as admitted by Rosita[30] and noted in the decision[31]), or through
line-ups where a witness identifies the suspect from a group of persons lined up for the
purpose.[32]

The initial photographic identification in this case carries serious constitutional law implications
in terms of the possible violation of the due process rights of the accused as it may deny him his
rights to a fair trial to the extent that his in-court identification proceeded from and was
influenced by impermissible suggestions in the earlier photographic identification. In the context
of this case, the investigators might not have been fair to Rodrigo if they themselves, purposely
or unwittingly, fixed in the mind of Rosita, or at least actively prepared her mind to, the thought
that Rodrigo was one of the robbers. Effectively, this act is no different from coercing a witness
in identifying an accused, varying only with respect to the means used. Either way, the police
investigators are the real actors in the identification of the accused; evidence of identification is
effectively created when none really exists.

In People v. Pineda, we had occasion to explain photographic identification and the dangers it
spawns: an impermissible suggestion and the risk that the eyewitness would identify the person
he or she saw in the photograph and not the person she saw actually committing the crime, thus:

… [W]here a photograph has been identified as that of the guilty party, any subsequent corporeal
identification of that person may be based not upon the witness’ recollection of the features of
the guilty party, but upon his recollection of the photograph. Thus, although a witness who is
asked to attempt a corporeal identification of a person whose photograph he previously identified
may say, "That’s the man that did it," what he may actually mean is, "That’s the man whose
photograph I identified."

xxx xxx xxx

A recognition of this psychological phenomenon leads logically to the conclusion that where a
witness has made a photographic identification of a person, his subsequent corporeal
identification of that same person is somewhat impaired in value, and its accuracy must be
evaluated in light of the fact that he first saw a photograph.[33]

We confirmed the existence of this danger in People v. Teehankee where the Court tackled the
reliability of out-of-court identifications as an issue; we recognized that the harmful effects on
the rights of the accused of these types of identification can go as far as and contaminate in-court
identification.[34] Speaking through Mr. Justice (now Chief Justice) Reynato Puno, the Court
said:

It is understandable for appellant to assail his out-of-court identification by the prosecution


witnesses in his first assignment of error. Eyewitness identification carries vital evidence and, in
most cases, decisive of the success or failure of the prosecution. Yet, while eyewitness
identification is significant, it is not as accurate and authoritative as the scientific forms of
identification evidence such as the fingerprint or DNA testing. Some authors even describe
eyewitness evidence as "inherently suspect." The causes of misidentification are known, thus:

xxx

Identification testimony has at least three components. First, witnessing a crime, whether as a
victim or a bystander, involves perception of an event actually occurring. Second, the witness
must memorize details of the event. Third, the witness must be able to recall and communicate
accurately. Dangers of unreliability in eyewitness testimony arise at each of these three stages,
for whenever people attempt to acquire, retain, and retrieve information accurately, they are
limited to normal human fallibilities and suggestive influences.[35] [Emphasis Supplied].

In People v. Pineda, we also laid down the proper procedure on photographic identification,
namely: first, a series of photographs must be shown and not merely that of the suspect; and
second, when a witness is shown a group of pictures, their arrangement and display should in no
way suggest which one of the pictures pertains to the suspect.[36] In these cases, we emphasized
that photographic identification should be free from any impermissible suggestions that would
single out a person to the attention of the witness making the identification.[37]

That a single photograph, not a series, was shown to Rosita is admitted by Rosita herself in her
testimony. The following exchanges transpired at her re-direct examination:

Fiscal:

(to the witness)


Q Now, when you saw the accused Lee Rodrigo, how did you see Lee Rodrigo to [sic] the Police
Station?

A His picture was shown to me and I told the police that he is the one, sir.

Q This Lee Rodrigo, the accused in this case?

A Yes, sir.[38]

reinforced by the following on re-cross-examination:

Atty. Roque:

Q You said, Madam witness, that you knew the accused through picture shown to you, am I
correct?

A Yes, sir.

Q Who showed you the picture?

A Police Morado, sir.

Q How many pictures were shown to you?

A Just one only, sir.

Q Only the accused in this case, Lee Rodrigo?

A Yes, sir.[39] (Emphasis supplied)

This testimonial admission has its roots in Rosita’s Sinumpaang Salaysay ("Salaysay," Exhs. "A"
and "A-1")[40] that gave the following details of this same out-of-court identification as follows:

12. T-: Sino ba ang sinasabi mong pumasok sa loob ng iyong Restaurant na armado ng mga baril
at nangholdap una sa Bombay at bumaril dito sa iyong asawa at pagkatapos kinuha pa and benta
ng iyong Restaurant?

S: Ito sina LEE RODRIGO, Alyas BUNSO at isang Alyas LYN LYN po.

13. T-: Kilala mo ba itong nasabing mga suspects na armado ng baril at pumatay sa iyong asawa
matapos mangholdap?

S-: Hindi ko sila kilala pero sinabi sa akin ni Chito Alicante na driver ng nagdedeliver ng Coca
Cola na ang mga pangalan ay Alyas Bunso at Alyas LYNLYN at ang isa dito si LEE RODRIGO
dito ko nalang (sic) nalaman ang tunay na pangalan sa himpilan ng pulisya ng ipakita sa akin and
kanyang retrato na siya ang nakita kung unang bumaril sa aking asawa at kumuha ng pera na kita
ng aming Restaurant. [emphasis supplied].

Thus, the prosecution’s evidence themselves, both documentary and testimonial, show that the
police investigatory procedure violated the jurisprudential rule we cited above. To reasonably
determine whether this flawed procedure indeed led to an unreliable in-court identification, we
again hark back to Teehankee for the very useful guidelines it provided:[41]

In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of suspects, courts


have adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors, viz: (1)
the witness’ opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness’ degree of
attention at the time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level
of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification; (5) the length of time between the
crime and the identification; and (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure.

Another well-known authority on eyewitness identification, Patrick M. Wall, made a list of 12


danger signals that exist independently of the identification procedures investigators use.[42]
These signals give warning that the identification may be erroneous even though the method
used is proper.[43] Outside of the six factors mentioned in Teehankee, two danger signals in
Wall’s list are relevant in the case before us, namely: (1) the limited opportunity on the part of
the witness to see the accused before the commission of the crime; and (2) the fact that several
persons committed the crime. We shall consider them all in passing upon the reliability of
Rosita’s in-court identification in the discussions below.

1. Rosita did not know the robbers. A critical point in the totality of Rosita’s testimony, admitted
as early as her November 24, 2001 Sinumpaang Salaysay, is that she did not know the robbers.
In other words, she saw them for the first time during the robbery. This fact can make a lot of
difference as human experience tells us: in the recognition of faces, the mind is more certain
when the faces relate to those already in the mind’s memory bank; conversely, it is not easy to
recall or identify someone we have met only once or whose appearance we have not fixed in our
mind.

2. Lack of any prior description. Other than giving Rodrigo’s name in her Sinumpaang Salaysay
and confirming that – dito ko nalang [sic] nalaman ang tunay na pangalan sa himpilan ng pulisya
ng ipakita sa akin ang kanyang retrato na siya and nakita kung [sic] unang Bumaril sa aking
asawa at kumuha ng pera na kita ng aming Restaurant – Rosita provided no other description of
Rodrigo or of the other two, whether in her Sinumpaang Salaysay or in court. The original
records of the case in fact contain no record of statements secured from witnesses immediately
after the crime was committed on October 27, 2000. Thus, there is no basis to compare Rosita’s
or any other witnesses’ immediate recollection of what transpired at the crime scene and the
description of the perpetrators, with Rosita’s photographic identification and her in-court
identification at the trial. This is a glaring gap in the police investigation and one that leaves
Rosita’s identification unsupported, given the absence of corroborative evidence from other
witnesses.
3. Opportunity to view the criminals and degree of focus at the time. Rosita’s first encounter with
the robbers – people she did not know before – happened very briefly during a very horrifying
experience when her husband was shot and killed. Whether the event and its details etched
themselves in Rosita’s memory or whether everything happened in a blur is hard to say with
definite certainty and should be gauged through Rosita’s consistency in testifying on other
aspects of the case.

4. Number of criminals involved; degree of focus on the criminals. With three robbers
involved,[44] Rosita’s focus and attention could not have been total on any one robber alone. In
fact, if one robber should have caught her attention at all, he would have been the one who shot
her husband and who, by her own testimony, was not Rodrigo whom she variously claimed to be
outside the restaurant at that time or robbing her Indian customer.[45]

5. Time element attendant to identification. The time element involved in the process of
identification is shown by the sequence of events following the robbery-homicide on October 27,
2000. The earliest document on record subsequent to the crime is Rosita’s Sinumpaang Salaysay
of November 24, 2000 where Rosita significantly mentioned that she did not know the robbers
and that one Chito Alicante gave her their names. The Information against Rodrigo was filed
with the court on February 28, 2001[46] and the warrant of arrest was issued only on April 18,
2001.[47] The records do not show when Rosita saw Rodrigo at the San Jose del Monte Police
Station[48] (as the CA decision noted) but this presumably happened only after his arrest on
April 18, 2001 or 5 ½ months after the crime. Thereafter, Rosita identified Rodrigo in court on
April 10, 2002, or more than 15 months after the crime. Thus, Rosita only saw Rodrigo twice
before they met in court; first, at the crime scene as she alleged; and, second, at the San Jose del
Monte Police Station under circumstances that do not appear in the records.

6. Suggestiveness of the photographic identification. As we have already noted, at no point did


Rosita describe the robbers so that a take-off

point for comparison can be made. Rosita simply made her photographic identification of
Rodrigo as follows:

21. T-: Mayroon akong ipapakita dito sa iyong isang retrato, ano ang masasabi mo dito?

S-: Iyan po ang tumutok sa Bombay pagkatapos kinuha ang pera at ina [sic] bumaril dito sa
aking asawa.

(Investigator showing to the complaining witness of picture of suspect LEE RODRIGO).


[emphasis supplied]

Significantly, this identification came a month after the crime – a long month when the police
appeared to have achieved no headway in their investigation (although Rodrigo himself admitted
that he heard from a policeman-neighbor that he was "implicated" in the crime two days after its
commission[49]). By her own account, Rosita only learned the names of the robbers from
information given by one Chito Alicante who never appeared as a witness in the case.[50] The
photographic identification was made at the police station by showing her the lone photograph of
Rodrigo who was expressly noted in the Sinumpaang Salaysay as a "suspect." Thus, Rosita, who
did not know the robbers, initially fixed them in her mind through their names that Chito
Alicante supplied, and subsequently, linked the name Lee Rodrigo to the faces she saw in the
photograph the police presented as the suspect. Note that by providing only a lone photograph,
complete with a name identified as the suspect, the police did not even give Rosita the option to
identify Rodrigo from among several photographed suspects; the police simply confronted her
with the photograph of Rodrigo as the suspect.

7. Rosita’s consistency regarding Rodrigo’s precise role in the

robbery leaves much to be desired.[51] It is a matter of record that she testified that Rodrigo
entered the restaurant along with his two cohorts,[52] but she subsequently declared that Rodrigo
was outside the restaurant brandishing his firearm.[53] She also declared on cross-examination
that Rodrigo was one of those who robbed the Indian,[54] but on re-direct, he declared that he
did not touch the Indian nor take his valuables; he just stood there.[55] It is noteworthy that
while Rosita appeared clear, categorical, and definite about the participations of Lyn-lyn and
Bunso in the robbery, she failed to do the same with respect to Rodrigo’s role in the crime. An
aspect that never saw light during the trial was the statement in the Sinumpaang Salaysay that
there were other participants in the crime, albeit hearsay, who served as lookouts, namely, Ricky
de la Cruz, Mateo Malson alias "Mike," and Carding Oronos. No explanation can be gleaned
from the evidence on what happened to these identified possible accomplices. The Salaysay also
mentions the people with Rosita in the restaurant, namely, the helpers and the customers. None
of these eyewitnesses was ever called upon to testify. While these discrepancies and gaps may
appear to be trivial in considering the elements of the crime, they assume significant materiality
in considering the weakness of Rodrigo’s identification as one of the robbers.

Separately from these considerations, we entertain serious doubts about the validity of the
reasoning, made by both the trial and the appellate courts, that a widow’s testimony –
particularly, her identification of the accused – should be accepted and held as credible simply
because the defense failed to show by evidence that she had reasons to falsify.[56]

Arguably, a widow who testifies about the killing of her husband has no motive other than to see
that justice is done so that her testimony should be considered totally credible. This assumption,
however, is not the same as the conclusion that a witness is credible because the defense has not
shown any ill motive that would motivate him or her to falsely testify. Strictly speaking, this
conclusion should apply only to third parties who are detached from and who have no personal
interest in the incident that gave rise to the trial. Because of their presumed detachment, the
testimonies of these detached parties can be presumed credible unless impugned by the adverse
party through a showing of an ill or ulterior motive on the part of the witnesses.

The presumed detachment that applies to third parties obviously cannot apply to a widow whose
husband has been killed, or for that matter, to a relative whose kin is the victim, when the
testimony of the widow or the relative is offered in the trial of the killer. The widow or the
relatives are not detached or disinterested witnesses; they are parties who suffered and
experienced pain as a result of the killing. In fact, they are better characterized as aggrieved
parties as even the law recognizes them as such through the grant of indemnities and damages.
One reality about these aggrieved parties is that their reactions and responses to the crime vary.
Indeed, for some of them, the interest of seeing that justice is done may be paramount so that
they will act strictly according to legal parameters despite their loss and their grief. At the
opposite extreme are those who may not so act; they may want to settle and avenge their loss
irrespective of what the law and evidence may indicate. In between these extremes are those who
may not be outwardly or consciously affected, but whose judgment with respect to the case and
its detail may be impaired by their loss and grief. All these are realities that we must be sensitive
to.

Thus, the testimonies from aggrieved parties should not simplistically be equated to or treated as
testimonies from detached parties. Their testimonies should be handled with the realistic thought
that they come from parties with material and emotional ties to the subject of the litigation so
that they cannot be accepted and held as credible simply because the defense has not adduced
evidence of ill-motivation. It is in this light that we have examined Rosita’s identification of
Rodrigo, and we hold as unpersuasive the lower courts’ conclusion that Rosita deserved belief
because the defense had not adduced any evidence that she had motives to falsely testify. The
better rule, to our mind, is that the testimony of Rosita, as an aggrieved party, must stand on its
independent merits, not on any failure of the defense to adduce evidence of ill-motivation.

Conclusion

We hold it highly likely, based on the above considerations, that Rosita’s photographic
identification was attended by an impermissible suggestion that tainted her in-court identification
of Rodrigo as one of the three robbers. We rule too that based on the other indicators of
unreliability we discussed above, Rosita’s identification cannot be considered as proof beyond
reasonable doubt of the identity of Rodrigo as one of the perpetrators of the crime.

A first significant point to us is that Rosita did not identify a person whom she had known or
seen in the past. The robbers were total strangers whom she saw very briefly. It is unfortunate
that there is no direct evidence of how long the actual robbery and the accompanying homicide
lasted. But the crime, as described, could not have taken long, certainly not more than a quarter
of an hour at its longest. This time element alone raises the question of whether Rosita had
sufficiently focused on Rodrigo to remember him, and whether there could have been a reliable
independent recall of Rodrigo’s identity.

We also find it significant that three robbers were involved, all three brandishing guns, who
immediately announced a holdup. This is an unusual event that ordinarily would have left a
person in the scene nervous, confused, or in common parlance, "rattled." To this already
uncommon event was added the shooting of Rosita’s husband who charged the robbers with a
"bangko" and was promptly shot, not once but three times. These factors add up to our
conclusion of the unlikelihood of an independent and reliable identification.

We have to factor in, too, into this conclusion, the matter of Rosita’s motivation as well as her
frame of mind when she identified Rodrigo from a photograph. We take judicial notice that
subsequent to the crime was the victim’s burial,[57] again an uncommon event attended by an
acute sense of loss, grief and, at the very least, disruption of and some measure of confusion in
the bereaved family’s daily life. Uncertainties and a good measure of anxiety must have been
present, too, because of the lack of any immediate significant developments in the investigation
of the case in its first month, i.e., between the time of the crime and Rosita’s Sinumpaang
Salaysay and photographic identification. We note that the original records of the case do not
even indicate the initial investigatory steps the police undertook, especially in terms of securing
the statements of the immediate witnesses and the description of the criminals. Under these facts,
it is more likely than not that when the police called on Rosita to ask for the identification of the
lone suspect they had already identified, Rosita was prepared in her mind to believe the police, to
confirm the results of their investigation, and to identify the suspect as one of the perpetrators.
That Rodrigo was presented and identified as a suspect is unmistakably indicated in Rosita’s
Sinumpaang Salaysay;[58] that Rosita responded to the not-too-subtle suggestion of the police
that Rodrigo was one of the robbers is very likely. We note in this regard that Rosita does not
appear to have properly sorted out in her mind the details of what transpired on October 27, 2000
as demonstrated by the inconsistencies in her narration of the details of the crime, notably
between her Sinumpaang Salaysay and her in-court testimony, as well as in the details of her in-
court testimony as her narration and credibility were tested at the various stages of examination.
To be sure, she correctly testified on the elements of the crime of robbery with homicide and
confirmed that it was committed. Not at the same level of certainty, however, are the respective
roles of the three perpetrators and their identities as the latter appear to be based more on relayed
third-party information and on police conclusions rather than on Rosita’s own personal
recollection of events. At this level of certainty, we would be violating the rights of the accused
to be presumed innocent and to due process if we affirm the lower courts’ decisions. Hence,
Rodrigo’s acquittal on ground of reasonable doubt is in order.

Epilogue: The Defenses of Denial and Alibi

While the defenses of denial and alibi are inherently weak, they are only so in the face of an
effective identification. Where, as in the present case, the identification has been fatally tainted
by irregularity and attendant inconsistencies, doubt on the culpability of the accused, at the very
least, has been established without need to avail of the defenses of denial and alibi. In
constitutional law and criminal procedure terms, the prosecution never overcame the
presumption of innocence that the accused enjoyed so that the burden of evidence never shifted
to the defense. Thus, any consideration of the merits of these defenses is rendered moot and will
serve no useful purpose.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we REVERSE and SET ASIDE the Decision dated
September 18, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 01531. Accused-
appellant LEE RODRIGO is hereby ACQUITTED on the ground of reasonable doubt of the
crime of robbery with homicide. We hereby ORDER HIS IMMEDIATE RELEASE unless there
are other valid causes for his continued detention.
EN BANC

G.R. No. 149889 December 2, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
RUEL BACONGUIS y INSON, appellant.

DECISION

CARPIO-MORALES, J.:

On automatic review is the Decision of July 11, 2001 promulgated by the Regional Trial Court
of Cagayan de Oro City, Branch 18, convicting Ruel Baconguis y Inson (appellant) of murder
and sentencing him to death.

To the charge of murder allegedly committed as follows,

That on or about June 23, 2000 at 2:04 early in the morning at Phase 3, Block 21, Lot 9, Villa
Trinitas Subd., Bugo, Cagayan de Oro City, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, with treachery and with intent to kill, attacked one Roberto C.
Mercado with the use of an undetermined caliber of a gun thereby inflicting mortal wounds
which is the cause of his immediate death.

Contrary to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to RA 7659, as amended.1

appellant pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on July 27, 2000.2

Culled from the evidence for the prosecution is its following version of the case:

On June 23, 2000, at around 2:40 a.m., while Lydia Mercado-Lledo was sleeping in her 3-
bedroom one storey house, she was awakened by the sound of a gunshot. She immediately
looked out of her bedroom window and saw to her right a tall man some five meters away from
her3 leave her house and jump over the 21/2 - 3 meters high bamboo fence.4 Before the man who
was wearing khaki short pants and a white T-shirt jumped, he turned his face to the left, thus
enabling her to see his slim face and tall nose.5

Lydia soon heard someone moaning. She thus repaired to the sala where she found her younger
brother, taxi-driver 24-year old Roberto Mercado (the victim), sprawled and bleeding on the
floor. He was brought to the hospital but he died on the way due to severe hemorrhage resulting
from a gunshot wound at the left chest. Aside from the chest, the victim also suffered gunshot
wounds on his left forearm.6

The investigating officers found that the description of the man seen leaving Lydia’s house
matched that of herein appellant Ruel Baconguis who was a suspect in several cases of theft and
robbery.

In the afternoon of the incident, the police arrested appellant in the house of his in-laws at Purok
2-B, Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City.7 At about noon of the following day or on June 24, 2000,
appellant was paraffin-tested and was found positive for gunpowder nitrates on both hands.8

Lydia was accordingly informed by her other brother, policeman Adolfo Mercado, that the
suspect had been arrested. In the early afternoon of June 24, 2000, she was brought to the cell of
the police station where appellant was detained and was informed that the lone detainee therein
was the suspect.9 On seeing appellant, she declared that he was the man she saw leaving her
house and jumping over the fence.10

The defense, on the other hand, denied the accusation.

Proffering alibi, appellant claimed that on the night of June 22, 2000, he took a walk along
Limketkai with his common-law-wife Liezel Sacala, child, mother-in-law and sister-in-law after
which they returned to the house of his in-laws; and at the time of the incident, he was fast
asleep.11

Liezel corroborated appellant’s claim, adding that on the night of the incident she woke up twice
to give milk to their 2-year old baby, and appellant never left the house following their return
from the walk.12

Crediting Lydia’s positive identification of appellant as the man she saw leaving her house and
jumping over the fence and the results of the paraffin test, the trial court convicted appellant by
the decision on review,13 the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, finding accused RUEL BACONGUIS y INSON GUILTY beyond reasonable


doubt of the crime of MURDER punishable under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code in
relation to R.A. 7659, and after taking into account the presence of one generic aggravating
circumstance of dwelling, without any mitigating, the said accused is hereby sentenced to suffer
the supreme penalty of DEATH by lethal injection. He is further directed to indemnify the heirs
the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS as damages for the death of the victim, another
FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS as exemplary damages, actual expenses in the amount of THIRTY
FOUR THOUSAND PESOS, plus to pay the costs. Pursuant to section 22 of R.A. 7659 and
section 10 of Rule 122 of the Rules of Court, let the entire record of this case be forwarded to the
Supreme Court for automatic review.

SO ORDERED.14
In his brief, appellant proffers the following assignment of errors:

I.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED OF THE CRIME


CHARGED DESPITE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

II.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE TESTIMONIES OF THE


ACCUSED AND DEFENSE WITNESSES AND IN RELYING HEAVILY ON THE
TESTIMONY OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES.

III.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE FACT THAT THE ACCUSED
WAS NOT ASSISTED BY A LAWYER DURING THE CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION IN
VIOLATION OF HIS BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT.

IV.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE PRESENCE OF THE GENERIC


AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE OF DWELLING DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT WAS
NOT ALLEGED IN THE INFORMATION. (Underscoring supplied)

Appellant questions his arrest as bereft of a valid warrant. Having, however, submitted to the
jurisdiction of the trial court when he entered his plea15 and actively participated in the trial of
the case, any infirmity in his arrest was deemed cured.16

Appellant likewise questions his subjection to custodial interrogation without the assistance of
counsel. There was, however, nothing inculpatory or exculpatory obtained from him by the
police during his custodial investigation.

While it cannot be denied that accused-appellant was deprived of his right to be informed of his
rights to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel, he has not shown that, as
a result of his custodial interrogation, the police obtained any statement from him—whether
inculpatory or exculpatory—which was used in evidence against him. The records do not show
that he had given one or that, in finding him guilty, the trial court relied on such statement x x x
x In other words, no uncounseled statement was obtained from accused-appellant which should
have been excluded as evidence against him.17

It bears noting that the evidence relied upon by the prosecution is circumstantial.

It is settled that for circumstantial evidence to suffice to convict, the following requisites must be
met: 1) there is more than one circumstance; 2) the facts from which the inferences are derived
are proven; and 3) the combination of all circumstances is such as to produce a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt.18

The first circumstance which the prosecution sought to prove is that appellant was seen leaving
the house where the victim lay bleeding of gunshot wounds not long after a gunshot was heard.

Prosecution witness Lydia identified appellant, then alone in the detention cell, and in open court
as the person she saw leaving the house.

The value of the in-court identification made by Lydia, however, is largely dependent upon the
out-of-court identification she made while appellant was in the custody of the police. In People
v. Teehankee, Jr.,19 this Court held that corruption of out-of-court identification contaminates
the integrity of in-court identification during the trial of the case.

In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of suspects, courts


have adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors, viz: (1)
the witness' opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness' degree of
attention at that time; (3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level
of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the identification; (5) the length of time between the
crime and the identification; and, (6) the suggestiveness of the identification procedure.20
(Underscoring supplied)

The totality of circumstances test has been fashioned to assure fairness as well as compliance
with constitutional requirements of due process in regard to out-of-court identification.21

Applying the above-said test, there are nagging doubts if Lydia had a good opportunity to view
the man she saw leaving her house. For by her claim, after hearing a gunshot, she stood up and
"opened" the 3-panel jalousied and grilled bedroom window upon which she saw a tall, slim man
who was about 5 meters away at the "right side of the window";22 and the man turned his face to
the left, glancing at the terrace23 which terrace she could not see from where she was, but which
was lighted by an 18-watt "[n]ot quite dim" but "more yellow" bulb "attached to the road
(sic)."24

If Lydia could not see the terrace25 which was five meters away from where she was, how could
the suspect, who was by her account also five meters away from the terrace, glance at the terrace
by merely turning his whole face to the left, given the logical location of the terrace to be
obliquely behind (to his right) him.

If before appellant jumped he was, by Lydia’s claim, about three meters away from the light bulb
"attached to the road" which light illuminated the terrace, how could Lydia have clearly seen the
face of the man turning his face to the left?

As for the circumstances surrounding the identification process, they were clearly tainted by
improper suggestion. While there is no law requiring a police line-up as essential to a proper
identification, as even without it there could still be proper identification as long as the police did
not suggest the identification to the witness,26 the police in the case at bar did even more than
suggest to Lydia.

Thus, by Lydia’s own account, the following transpired after she arrived at the cell where
appellant was detained.

Pros. Nolasco: On June 24, that is the following day, where were you?

A : I was in our house.

Q : In the afternoon or morning?

A : In the morning, Adolfo Mercado went to my house and informed me that they already
arrested a suspect last June 23.

Q : And what did you do with that information?

A : At 1:00 o'clock in the afternoon, June 24, I went together with my brother to Puerto Police
Station.

Q : What did you do?

A : They let me see the suspect.

Q : Were you able to see the suspect?

A : Yes, sir.

Q : What was your reaction upon seeing the suspect?

A : I was so mad because the person whom I saw at that time was the same person.27

xxx

Atty. Azis [defense counsel]: You said that at about 8:00 o'clock of the same morning there were
operative[s] from the Puerto Police Station and you said they investigated you about the
incident?

A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : Who among the police officer[s]?

A : PO3 [Eddie] Akut, PO3 Ruben and PO3 Achas.

Q : You only described to them what you saw, the description of the suspect?
A : Yes, ma’am.

Q : About his being slim built?

A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : You could not determine whether he is a fair skin[ned] or dark person?

A : I could not determine.

Q : In fact you could not determine whether there is mark on his face?

A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : You said that on June 24, 2000 you were informed that there was already a suspect arrested
by the police?

A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : But you were not or you did not accompany the police officer where that suspect was
arrested?

A : No, ma'am.

Q : So it was not you who pointed to the suspect in order for him to be arrested?

A : No ma’am.

Q : And when you went to the Puerto Police Station they introduced to you the suspect?

A : Yes ma'am.

Q : When did you first know his name?

A : From my brother.

Q : When?

A : When he went to the house on June 24 in the morning.

Q : Where did you see the suspect inside the police station?

A : He was still inside the cell when they let me see.

Q : In other words, when you saw him he was inside the cell?
A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : But he was alone at the time?

A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : And the police officer pointed to you that that is Ruel Baconguis?

A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : And after pointing to you they told you that he was the suspect?

A : Yes, ma'am.

Q : And because of that, you were convinced that he was the one?

A : I was convinced because his face is the same person whom I saw [jump] over the fence.28
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

A showup, such as what was undertaken by the police in the identification of appellant by Lydia,
has been held to be an underhanded mode of identification for "being pointedly suggestive,
generating confidence where there was none, activating visual imagination, and, all told,
subverting their reliability as an eyewitness."29 Lydia knew that she was going to identify a
suspect, whose name had priorly been furnished by her brother-policeman, when she went to the
police station. And the police pointed appellant to her, and told her that he was the suspect, while
he was behind bars, alone.30

The unusual, coarse and highly singular method of identification, which revolts against accepted
principles of scientific crime detection, alienates the esteem of every just man, and commands
neither respect nor acceptance.31

In People v. Acosta,32 this Court rejected the identification by a witness of the accused while the
latter was alone in his detention cell. There, this Court held that the identification of the suspect,
which was tainted by the suggestiveness of having the witness identify him while he was
incarcerated with no one else with him with whom he might be compared by the witness, was
less than objective to thus impair the trustworthiness of their identification.33

Under the circumstances attendant to the identification of appellant, this Court is not prepared to
hold that the prosecution had established that appellant was the man seen leaving the house-
scene of the crime soon after a gunshot was heard.

As for the positive paraffin findings on appellant, it is well settled that nitrates are also found in
substances other than gunpowder.34 Thus, in a number of cases,32 the Court acquitted the
accused despite the finding of gunpowder nitrates on his hand, noting that:
[S]cientific experts concur in the view that the result of a paraffin test is not conclusive. While it
can establish the presence of nitrates or nitrites on the hand, it does not always indubitably show
that said nitrates or nitrites were caused by the discharge of firearm. The person tested may have
handled one or more of a number of substances which give the same positive reaction for nitrates
or nitrites, such as explosives, fireworks, pharmaceuticals, and leguminous plants such as peas,
beans, and alfalfa. A person who uses tobacco may also have nitrate or nitrite deposits on his
hands since these substances are present in the products of combustion of tobacco. The presence
of nitrates, therefore, should be taken only as an indication of a possibility but not of infallibility
that the person tested has fired a gun.33

In fact, prosecution witness Police Superintendent Liza Madeja Sabong, who conducted the
paraffin test on appellant, testified that a person who fires a gun can transfer gunpowder from his
hands to someone standing very near him even if the second person did not fire a gun himself.34

But even assuming arguendo that appellant’s being positive for gunpowder may be credited as
circumstantial evidence indicating his culpability, that is only one circumstance, and since no
other circumstance was established by the prosecution, the first requirement for circumstantial
evidence to warrant conviction of appellant has not been met.

The prosecution having failed to discharge its burden of proving the guilt of appellant beyond
reasonable doubt, he must be acquitted.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 18, Cagayan de Oro
City finding appellant RUEL BACONGUIS y INSON guilty of murder is hereby REVERSED
AND SET ASIDE and appellant is ACQUITTED thereof. He is ordered IMMEDIATELY
RELEASED from confinement unless he is being held for some other legal cause.

The Director of Prisons is DIRECTED to forthwith implement this Decision immediately and to
inform this Court within five days from receipt hereof of the date appellant shall have actually
been released from confinement.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez,


Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
Identity of the accused

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 228960, June 11, 2018

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JUNREL R. VILLALOBOS,


Accused-Appellants.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Assailed in this appeal is the September 29, 2016 Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-
G.R. CR-HC No. 01316-MIN, which affirmed with modification the April 1, 2014 Decision2 of
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 4, Panabo City (RTC), finding accused-appellant Junrel R.
Villalobos (Villalobos) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape committed against
AAA.3

The Facts

Villalobos was indicted for the crime of Rape, defined and penalized under Article 266-A of the
Revised Penal Code in an Information, the accusatory portion of which states:

That on or about June 7, 2008 in the City of Panabo, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, being armed of a handgun and employing force, threats and
intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously had carnal knowledge or sexual intercourse
with AAA, against her will, to the damage and prejudice of the above-named complaining
victim.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
Upon arraignment, Villalobos pleaded not guilty to the charge. After pre-trial was terminated,
trial on the merits followed.

Version of the Prosecution

The Office of the Solicitor General narrates the factual version of the prosecution as follows:
At around 8:30 p.m. of 7 June 2008, private complainant AAA was sleeping in her room together
with her two minor children, aged two and four. Somebody then entered the room and held
AAA's right leg which awakened her. The intruder, whose face was covered such that his eyes
were the only ones visible, lifted the mosquito net and pointed a gun at AAA while covering her
mouth. AAA asked "Who are you?" and the intruder replied "Wake up because we will go
outside?"
At gun point, AAA followed the intruder. AAA then recognized the voice of the intruder to be
that of the accused-appellant as he frequently visited her cousin Joel.

Accused-appellant brought AAA to a nipa hut located along a road about 50 meters away from
AAA's house. Accused-appellant ordered AAA to remove her dress. She refused and answered
"no." Accused-appellant then put down the gun, removed his short pants and thereafter undressed
AAA and sucked her breast. Thereafter, he touched and rubbed AAA's vagina and ordered her to
lie down while he inserted his penis into her vagina.

Not contented, accused-appellant then ordered AAA to suck his penis. After thirty minutes, he
lifted her buttocks and inserted his penis into her anus for another half hour. AAA begged
accused-appellant to stop because it was already painful, but accused-appellant ignored AAA's
pleas. He continued to make a push and pull movement. Accused-appellant again rubbed her
vagina after he put saliva on his hands. AAA was made to suck accused-appellant's penis for
over another half an hour.

Although the nipa hut was not lighted, AAA saw and recognized the face of the accused-
appellant in the moonlight. Also, accused-appellant by then had already removed the t-shirt he
used to cover his face. AAA was not able to shout because accused-appellant pointed the gun at
her and warned her to keep silent. AAA cried silently.

A "multicab" later approached the direction of the nipa hut and the vehicle's light passed through
the nipa hut. This gave AAA a chance to run away. As she was running towards her house, AAA
thought of hiding behind a tree for fear that the accused might be following her. However, she
fell into a ditch. AAA had no short pants and only had her shirt on. She cried hard upon reaching
her house and reported the incident to her mother.

AAA reported the incident to the police on the following day, 8 June 2008, at about 8:30 in the
morning. She also went to a doctor for medical examination.

Police Officer (PO3) Rommel Gumtang, who was assigned at the Panabo City Police Station,
testified that he met AAA when she asked that accused-appellant be arrested. At a store near
Peda St., Purok 6, San Francisco, Panabo City, AAA pointed to the accused-appellant, who, the
police immediately arrested.

Dr. Philip Nolan Demaala conducted the medical examination of AAA. He testified and reported
that AAA experienced sexual intercourse or penile penetration. He also found that AAA suffered
contusion around her neck and chest.4

Version of the Defense

Villalobos, on the other hand, relates his version of the facts in this manner:
Appellant claimed that he and AAA were neighbors for three or four years. Since he and AAA's
husband were friends, there were occasions in the past that he visited AAA's house. But he
stopped his visits when AAA's husband left for Manila to work.
Appellant denied having sexual intercourse with AAA in the evening of 7 June 2008, as he was
already sleeping in his house at the time of the alleged incident. When he woke up the following
day (8 June 2008), a certain Joel Baghucan, AAA's cousin, called him while he was fetching
water. Joel invited him for a drink. Appellant accepted the invitation, and he and Joel Baghucan
drank in the latter's house.

While they were drinking, Joel told the appellant that according to AAA, appellant allegedly
raped her. Appellant ignored Joel's remark because he got used to the latter's jokes. But a while
later, he saw police officers going to the house of AAA. Not long after, AAA arrived and pointed
to him. Thereafter, the police officers arrested him and detained him at the police station.

While appellant was on detention, a person visited him with the message that AAA would
withdraw the case if he will give the person the amount of P30,000.00. According to appellant,
he remembered the person as the one who placed his arm around the shoulders of AAA when he
met the latter before the alleged incident. Thus, he believes that the present case was filed to
harass and extort money from him.

Appellant's younger sister, Elmie Joy Villalobos, confirmed his testimony. Specifically, Elmie
Joy Villalobos claimed that her family, including the appellant, ate their dinner together at 6:30
in the evening of 7 June 2008. After their dinner, appellant went to sleep while Elmie Joy
Villalobos watched television until 11:00 o'clock in the evening. During that entire time,
appellant was sleeping in his room. She also confirmed regarding appellant's testimony that a
person went to him to ask for P30,000.00 in exchange for the withdrawal of the case.

Robson Villalobos, elder brother of the appellant, also corroborated the latter's testimony. He
claimed that he went to sleep at 7:30 in the evening of 7 June 2008 in the same room where
appellant was sleeping. Robson knows that appellant remained sleeping in the room because
when he woke up at 10:00 in the evening to dress for work, appellant was still on his bed. Also,
Robson's bed was positioned barring the door, thus, appellant could not leave the room without
his knowledge.5
The RTC Ruling

In its Decision dated April 11, 2014, the RTC found Villalobos guilty as charged. The RTC held
that the prosecution was able to establish with certitude that Villalobos had carnal knowledge of
AAA through force and intimidation, and such fact was established through the clear and
convincing testimony of the said victim who has no motive to falsely testify against Villalobos.
The trial court noted that AAA's claim of the rape incident was amply corroborated by the
medical report which showed that AAA sustained contusions and fresh hymenal lacerations
suggestive of previous penetration. It rejected the twin defenses of denial and alibi interposed by
Villalobos declaring the same to be unconvincing and self-serving negative evidence which
could not prevail over the positive identification of him by AAA as the culprit to the dastardly
deed. The RTC likewise ruled out appellant's defense of extortion for want of sufficient and
competent proof. The dispositive portion of the said decision reads:
WHEREFORE, with the foregoing, the accused is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the felony of rape and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without
eligibility for parole. He is further ordered to pay the victim the amounts of Fifty Thousand
Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity, Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages,
Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) as exemplary damages, and interest on all damages at the
rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the finality of the judgment until fully paid.

Accordingly, the accused shall be committed to the Davao Penal Colony for the service of his
sentence thereat.

SO ORDERED.6
Not in conformity, Villalobos appealed the April 1, 2014 RTC Decision before the CA.

The CA Ruling

On September 29, 2016, the CA rendered its assailed Decision affirming the conviction of
Villalobos for Rape. The appellate court declared that the credible testimony of AAA was
sufficient to sustain Villalobos' conviction for the crime charged. It debunked appellant's denial
and alibi declaring that the same were not satisfactorily established and not at all persuasive
when pitted against the positive and convincing identification by the victim. According to the
CA, Villalobos' claim that he was in his room sleeping at the time AAA was raped, did not
preclude the possibility of his presence at the place of the crime at the time of its commission
considering that he lived 300 meters away from AAA. It increased the amounts awarded for
moral damages and exemplary damages to P75,000.00 each in consonance with the prevailing
jurisprudence. The CA likewise determined that AAA is entitled to the award of P75,000.00 by
way of civil indemnity, the fallo of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision dated
April 1, 2014 of the Regional Trial Court, 11th Judicial Region, Branch 4, Panabo City, in Crim.
Case No. 201-2008, finding accused-appellant Junrel R. Villalobos, guilty beyond reasonable
doubt for rape is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Junrel R. Villalobos is ORDERED to
PAY AAA the amounts of P75,000 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and
P75,000.00 as exemplary damages. Further, six percent interest (6%) per annum is imposed on
all the amounts awarded reckoned from the date of finality of this judgment until the damages
are fully paid.

SO ORDERED.7
The Issues

Unfazed, Villalobos filed the present appeal and posited the same issues he previously raised
before the CA, to wit:

1. Whether the evidence for the prosecution established beyond reasonable doubt
that voluntariness on the part of the offended party, during the alleged rape, was
absolutely wanting.

2. Whether the trial court failed to appreciate substantial facts and circumstances to
cast doubt on the credibility of the private complainant.8
In the Resolution9 dated March 1, 2017, the Court directed both parties to submit their
supplemental briefs, if they so desire. On April 17, 2017, the Office of the Solicitor General filed
its Manifestation (Re: In Lieu of Supplemental Brief)10 stating that it will no longer file a
supplemental brief as its Appellee's Brief had sufficiently ventilated the issues raised. On April
19, 2017, Villalobos filed a Manifestation In Lieu of Supplemental Brief11 averring that he would
adopt all his arguments in his Appellant's Brief filed before the CA.

Essentially, accused-appellant argues that the RTC erred in giving credence to the testimony of
AAA and claims that the prosecution evidence failed to overcome his constitutional presumption
of innocence. Villalobos submits that a reading of AAA's narration of the events leading to the
alleged rape would reveal that the coitus was actually committed with her acquiescence because:
(1) there was no testimony that she objected or offered even a small amount of resistance to the
sexual advances; (2) she did not shout for help or escape from the perpetrator despite the
opportunity to do so; and (3) the alleged coitus lasted for more than 90 minutes. Villalobos
further submits that doubt exists on AAA's identification of the culprit because the place was not
illuminated, except for the bleak moonlight. He clarifies that he is not abandoning his defense of
denial but intends only to highlight the improbabilities in AAA's testimony which tends to cast
serious doubt on the veracity of her charge.

Lastly, Villalobos asserts that Judge Dorothy P. Montejo-Gonzaga (Judge Montejo-Gonzaga),


the RTC judge who wrote the April 1, 2014 decision, was not the judge who observed first-hand
private complainant AAA when she testified during direct and cross-examinations. The presiding
judge of the RTC, Branch 4, Panabo City who heard the testimony of AAA then was Judge
Virginia Hofileña-Europa. He argues that since Judge Montejo-Gonzaga did not have the
opportunity to observe AAA's demeanor and deportment on the witness stand, said judge could
not have discerned and gauged if private complainant was telling the truth, which further resulted
in the failure of the RTC to properly appreciate his defenses and contentions.

The Court's Ruling

The appeal is barren of merit.

Preliminarily, the fact alone that the judge who heard the evidence was not the one who rendered
the judgment, but merely relied on the record of the case, does not render his judgment erroneous
or irregular. This is so even if the judge did not have the fullest opportunity to weigh the
testimonies, not having heard all the witnesses speak or observed their deportment and manner of
testifying.12 Hence, the Court generally will not find any misapprehension of facts as it can be
fairly assumed under the principle of regularity of performance of duties of public officers that
the transcripts of stenographic notes were thoroughly scrutinized and evaluated by the judge
himself.13

Thus, albeit Judge Montejo-Gonzaga was not the judge who heard the testimony of AAA, the
same would not pose sufficient justification to overturn the findings of fact of the RTC on the
credibility of the said private complainant. Ideally, the judge who will write the judgment should
be the same judge who had earlier heard all the testimonies of the witnesses personally.
However, there are instances when a different judge might pen the decision because the
predecessor judge has retired, died or has been reassigned. In such situations, it is not correct to
say that the findings of fact of the judge who took over the case are not reliable and do not
deserve the respect of the appellate courts. The judge who was not present during the trial can
always rely on the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the trial as basis of his decision.
Said reliance does not violate substantive and procedural due process of law.14 To rule otherwise
would create an absurd situation wherein, every time the judge who, wholly or partly, heard a
case dies or leaves the service, such case cannot be decided and a new trial will have to be
conducted for the taking anew of the testimonies of the witnesses by the successor judge. This
should not be so.

Surely, the correctness and efficacy of a decision is not necessarily impaired by the fact that its
writer only took over from a colleague who had earlier presided at the trial, unless there is
showing of grave abuse of discretion in the factual findings reached by him.15 The other reason
for disregarding the findings of fact of the trial court is when there is a manifest indication that
the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or circumstances of weight
and substance which could have altered the conviction of the accused.16 In the case at bench, no
such reasons exist for us to set aside the findings of fact of Judge Montejo-Gonzaga.

In rape cases, the conviction of the accused rests heavily on the credibility of the victim. Here,
the trial court found AAA's testimony to be credible as it was made in a "candid and
straightforward manner," "coupled with her occasional crying while relaying her story."17
Notably, the CA agreed with the RTC on this point and saw no reason to overturn the same.
After approximating the perspective of the trial court thru a meticulous scrutiny of the records,
the Court likewise finds no justification to disturb the findings of the RTC. Despite his vigorous
protestations, the Court agrees with the findings of the courts a quo that the prosecution was able
to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Villalobos raped AAA on that fateful night of June 7,
2008.

The trial court's reliance on the victim's testimony is apt, considering that it was credible in itself
and buttressed by the testimony of the medico-legal officer. AAA narrated in the painstaking and
well-nigh degrading public trial her unfortunate and painful ordeal in a logical manner. Without
hesitation, AAA pointed an accusing finger against Villalobos as the person who ravished and
sexually molested her on the night of June 7, 2008. She credibly recounted how Villalobos, at
gunpoint, ordered her to leave her room, where her two minor children, ages two and four, were
then sleeping, and brought her to a nipa hut which is 50 meters from her house; that Villalobos
ordered her to remove her dress but she refused; that Villalobos undressed her, sucked her breast
and inserted his penis into her vagina; that still unsatisfied, Villalobos made her suck his penis
for almost half an hour, then inserted his penis into her anus and made a push-and-pull
movement for another half an hour; that she begged Villalobos to stop the sexual assault because
it was already painful, but the latter simply ignored her pleas; that thereafter, Villalobos made
her suck his penis again for half an hour; and that when Villalobos was distracted by the light
that passed through the nipa hut coming from a vehicle, she immediately fled from the hut.

AAA was not able to shout because Villalobos' handgun was pointed at her which, later on, was
placed close by him. Villalobos threatened to shoot her if she would make a sound while he
consummated his carnal knowledge of her. She just cried silently. Thus, we are convinced that
Villalobos had employed intimidation to subjugate AAA's will and break her resistance down.
AAA's statements pertaining to the identity of Villalobos as her violator and the perverse acts he
visited upon her were straightforward and categorical. Hailed to the witness stand, AAA never
wavered neither did her statements vacillate between uncertainty and certitude.

In addition, AAA's testimony was corroborated by the medical findings of Dr. Philip Nolan
Demaala (Dr. Demaala). Dr. Demaala testified that when he conducted a physical examination
on AAA, he noted that the latter sustained a contusion between her neck and chest as well as
redness in her labia minora and near the area where the urine comes out. According to Dr.
Demaala, such medical findings confirmed penile penetration on AAA. It has been said that
when the testimony of a rape victim is consistent with the medical findings, sufficient basis
exists to warrant a conclusion that the essential requisite of carnal knowledge has thereby been
established.18 Hence, such testimony of Dr. Demaala strengthens even more the claim of rape by
AAA against Villalobos.

The credibility of a rape victim is enhanced when, as in the case at bench, she has no motive to
testify against the accused or where there is absolutely no evidence which even remotely
suggests that she could have been actuated by such motive. Further, the fact that AAA resolved
to face the ordeal and relate in public what she suffered evinces that she did so to obtain justice.
Her willingness and courage to face the authorities as well as to submit to medical examination,
are mute but eloquent confirmation of her sincere resolve to vindicate the outrageous wrong done
to her person, honor and dignity. AAA's natural interest in securing the conviction of the
perpetrator would strongly deter her from implicating a person other than the real culprit. We are
thus convincingly assured that the RTC prudently fulfilled its obligation as a factual assessor and
legal adjudicator.

Next, Villalobos posits that it was improbable for AAA to see and identify the perpetrator of the
rape because it was dark in the place where the alleged rape incident happened. The defense
concludes that the prosecution failed to establish with moral certainty the identity of the
perpetrator as that of Villalobos. The contention is untenable.

Proving the identity of the accused as the malefactor is the prosecution's primary responsibility.
Indeed, the first duty of the prosecution is not to prove the crime but to prove the identity of the
perpetrator, for even if the commission of the crime can be established, there can be no
conviction without proof of identity of the culprit beyond reasonable doubt.19 In the case at
bench, the prosecution's evidence on the identity of Villalobos as the offender is clear and
unmistakable.

While Villalobos attempted to hide his identity by covering his face with a shirt in the blackness
of the night, his identity has been revealed and the darkness that is his cover has been dispelled
by the credible testimony of AAA that, while it was indeed dark in the place where the rape
incident took place, there was, however, adequate moonlight which illuminated the area. Thus,
she was able to take a good look at and remember the face of Villalobos, who then had already
removed the shirt covering his face, as her ravisher. These details make her testimony and
positive identification of Villalobos more reliable.

Visibility is indeed a vital factor in determining whether an eyewitness could have identified the
perpetrator of a crime.20 It is settled that when conditions of visibility are favorable, and when
the witness does not appear to be biased, her assertion as to the identity of the malefactor should
normally be accepted.21 In proper situations, illumination produced by a kerosene or wick lamp,
a flashlight, even moonlight or starlight may be considered sufficient to allow identification of
persons.22 Under such circumstance, any attack on the credibility of witnesses, based solely on
the ground of insufficiency or absence of illumination, becomes unmeritorious.23

To be sure, AAA had an unobstructed view of Villalobos because of their proximity with each
other at the time of the incident. Given her familiarity with the voice and face of Villalobos being
her neighbor and a frequent visitor of his cousin Joel, as well as the illumination provided by the
moonlight on the evening of June 7, 2008, eliminated any possibility of mistaken identification.
Moreover, experience suggests that it is precisely because of the unusual acts of violence
committed right before their eyes that witnesses can remember the identities of criminals with a
high degree of reliability at any given time.[24 All throughout her testimony, AAA never faltered
about the identity of appellant Villalobos and his commission of the felonious coitus.

Villalobos contends that AAA's testimony was neither credible nor consistent with human nature
as she could have easily shouted and asked for help had she wanted to during and immediately
after the alleged rape incident, but she failed to do so. The argument is specious.

The failure to shout or offer tenacious resistance cannot be construed as a voluntary submission
to culprit's desires.25 Also, failure of the victim to shout for help does not negate rape.26 It is
enough if the prosecution had proven that force or intimidation concurred in the commission of
the crime as in this case. The law does not impose upon a rape victim the burden of proving
resistance.27 Besides, physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is
exercised upon the victim and the latter submits herself against her will to the rapist's advances
because of fear for her life and personal safety.28 In any event, the workings of the human mind
placed under emotional stress are unpredictable such that different people react differently to a
given situation or type of situation and there is no standard form of behavioral response when
one is confronted with a strange or startling or frightful experience.29 In the case at bench, it was
established that AAA was cowed into silence and gave in to the vile desires of Villalobos for fear
that said appellant would make good his threat to shoot her with the handgun he pointed against
her, which he later placed close by him. At any rate, this is a trivial matter which does not go into
the "why's" and "wherefore's" of the crime.

In his last-ditch effort to secure for an acquittal, Villalobos tries to interject reasonable doubt by
pointing out that the duration of the alleged rape which lasted for more than 90 minutes was
indicative of consensual sexual intercourse between him and AAA. His attempt is futile.

To begin with, there is no evidence on record that AAA had an extramarital affair with
Villalobos nor was there any proof that she was attracted to him enough to consent and willingly
give in to the bestial desires of the latter. In any event, the precise duration or exact length of
time of the commission of rape is not an essential element of the felony. Besides, case law shows
numerous instances of rape committed under indirect and audacious circumstances because the
lust of a lecherous man respects neither time nor place.30 In People v. Diaz,31 the Court
elucidates that the testimony of the private complainant to the effect that the rape occurred for a
rather long time would not diminish her credibility, thus:
We also affirm the finding of the Court of Appeals that Mara's credibility was not eroded by her
testimony that the accused-appellant tarried for two hours in her room. The Court of Appeals
said it well: when one is being raped, forcibly held, weak and in great pain, and in shock, she
cannot be reasonably expected to keep a precise track of the passage of time down to the last
minute. Indeed, for a woman undergoing the ordeal that Mara underwent in the hands of the
accused-appellant, every moment is like an eternity of hell and the transit of time is a painfully
slow crawl that she would rather forget. In addition, the precise duration of the rape is not
material to and does not negate the commission of the felony. Rape has no regard for time and
place. It has been committed in all manner of situations and in circumstances thought to be
inconceivable.32
Villalobos' denial must be rejected as the same could not prevail over AAA's unwavering
testimony and of her positive and firm identification of him as the perpetrator. As negative
evidence, it pales in comparison with a positive testimony that asserts the commission of a crime
and the identification of the accused as its culprit.33 We find that the facts in the instant case do
not present any exceptional circumstance warranting a deviation from this established rule.

The defense of alibi is likewise unavailing. In order that alibi might prosper, it is not enough to
prove that the accused has been somewhere else during the commission of the crime; it must also
be shown that it would have been impossible for him to be anywhere within the vicinity of the
crime scene.34 Villalobos failed to do so. Worse, he admitted during trial that his house is just
300 meters away from AAA's house, which thus effectively negates the physical impossibility of
him committing the crime against AAA on the night of June 7, 2008. The fact that Villalobos
presented his sister, Elmie Joy Villalobos, and brother, Robson Villalobos, to corroborate his
alibi, is of no moment. When the defense witness is a relative of an accused whose defense is
alibi, courts have more reason to view such testimony with skepticism due to the very nature of
alibi the witness affirms.35 An accused can easily fabricate an alibi and ask his relatives and
friends to corroborate it.36 Given the positive identification by AAA of Villalobos as the culprit,
and the lack of physical impossibility for said appellant to be at the scene of the crime at the time
of its commission, his defenses of denial and alibi crumble like a sand fortress. Villalobos'
defense of extortion must likewise fail considering that the same was not substantiated by
competent and independent evidence.

Having ascertained the guilt of Villalobos for the crime of Rape beyond reasonable doubt, the
Court shall now proceed to the determination of the proper penalty.

Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon, the penalty shall be
reclusion perpetua to death as provided under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code. The
prosecution was able to sufficiently allege in the Information and establish during trial that a
handgun was used in the commission of rape. Considering that no aggravating or mitigating
circumstance attended the commission of the crime, the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua is
the proper imposable penalty. However, the RTC, in its decision, added the qualification of
"without eligibility for parole" to describe or qualify reclusion perpetua, and this was affirmed
by the CA. In light of the attendant circumstances in the case at bench, there is no more need to
append the phrase "without eligibility for parole" to Villallobos' prison term in line with the
instructions given by the Court in A.M. No. 15-08-02-SC.37 Therefore, the dispositive portion of
this decision should simply state that Villalobos is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua without any qualification.

Coming now to the pecuniary liabilities, the Court finds that the CA is correct in awarding
P75,000.00 each for civil indemnity, moral damages and exemplary damages being consistent
with our pronouncement in People v. Jugueta.38 Further, six percent (6%) interest per annum
shall be imposed on all damages awarded to be reckoned from the date of the finality of this
judgment until fully paid.39

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated
September 29, 2016 in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 01316-MIN is hereby AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATION. Accused-appellant Junrel R. Villalobos is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua. He is ORDERED to PAY the victim AAA the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil
indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages and P75,000.00 by way of exemplary damages.

Accused-appellant is also ORDERED to PAY interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum
from the time of finality of this Decision until fully paid, to be imposed on the civil indemnity,
moral damages and exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Perlas-Bernabe, Caguioa, and Reyes, Jr., JJ., concur.


THIRD DIVISION
[ G.R. No. 219240, April 04, 2018 ]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS. BRYAN
GANABA Y NAM-AY, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

DECISION

MARTIRES, J.:

This resolves the appeal of accused-appellant Bryan Ganaba y Nam-ay (accused-appellant)


assailing the 27 August 2014 Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA), Seventh Division in CA-
G.R. CR-HC No. 06030 affirming, with modification as to the award of damages, the 9 January
2013 Decision[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 172, Valenzuela City, finding him
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape under Article (Art.) 266-A[3] of the Revised
Penal Code (RPC).

THE FACTS

Accused-appellant was charged with rape in an Information docketed as Criminal Case No. 429-
V-09, the accusatory portion of which reads as follows:
That on or about July 1, 2009 in Valenzuela City, Metro Manila and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with lewd design, by means of force and
intimidation employed upon the person of AAA, 16 years old (DOB: June 16, 1993), did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have sexual intercourse with the complainant,
against her will and without her consent, thereby subjecting the said minor to sexual abuse which
debased, degraded, and demeaned [her] intrinsic worth and dignity as a human being.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[4]
When arraigned, the accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge against him;[5] hence,
trial proper ensued.

To establish its case, the prosecution presented the victim, AAA,[6] and P/Supt. Bonnie Y. Chua
(Dr. Chua), a medico-legal officer of the Northern Police District Crime Laboratory (crime
laboratory).

PO1 Archie P. Castillano (PO1 Castillano) was no longer put on the witness stand after the
parties stipulated that he would be testifying on his affidavit[7] relative to the arrest of the
accused-appellant.

To prove his defense, the accused-appellant testified.

Version of the Prosecution


AAA had been working at the house of the accused-appellant since 1 June 2009, as nanny to his
four-month-old child. On 1 July 2009, at about 2:30 p.m., while AAA was inside the room
feeding the child, the accused-appellant sneaked in and closed the door and window. AAA did
not notice that the accused-appellant, who was supposed to enter the room only when the child's
mother was around, was behind her wearing only his shorts.[8]

When AAA turned, the accused-appellant held both her arms and mounted her. AAA kicked the
accused-appellant who in turn pinched her left shoulder. When AAA kicked again, the accused-
appellant stood up and got a knife. AAA stood up also and tried to open the door but was unable
to do so as it was locked. The accused-appellant poked the knife at AAA, threatened he would
kill her, dragged her to the bed, mounted her, parted her legs, and inserted his penis into her
vagina.[9]

When his friend arrived at the house, the accused-appellant went out of the room and proceeded
right away to the restroom. AAA immediately left for her brother's house and there confided
what had happened to her.[10]

That same afternoon, AAA proceeded to the barangay where she was advised to report the
incident to the police station. After AAA narrated[11] what had happened to her at the Valenzuela
City police station, POI Castillano and two other police officers arrested the accused-appellant at
his residence.[12]

At around 5:45 p.m. on the same day, AAA was physically examined by Dr. Chua.

Version of the Defense

On 1 July 2009, at about 2:30 p.m., the accused-appellant was at home with his wife Jane, their
son Edison, and a boarder named Erickson. He was watching television.[13]

The accused-appellant claimed that the accusation against him was not true and that he was
implicated by AAA to ask for money. He was told by Jane that AAA asked for P200,000.00 in
exchange for dropping the case against him. Although the accused-appellant and Jane were only
factory workers, that amount of money could be raised by his relatives; but the accused-appellant
did not give in to AAA's demand because nothing happened between him and AAA.[14]

The Ruling of the RTC

The RTC held that the accused-appellant had carnal knowledge of AAA by using force and
intimidation. According to the RTC, AAA gave details of her ordeal that took place on 1 July
2009, and that she positively identified the accused-appellant as the person who raped her.
Moreover, AAA's testimony, coupled with the medical findings, confirmed the truth of her
charges.[15]

The RTC found the accused-appellant's denial without merit. It ruled that his denial was negative
and self-serving which pales in comparison with AAA's clear and convincing narration and
positive identification of the accused-appellant.[16]
The fallo of the RTC decision provides:
WHEREFORE, the court finds the accused BRYAN GANABA y NAM-AY guilty beyond
reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of rape and in the absence of mitigating and
aggravating circumstance, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and
ordered to pay AAA P75,000.00 as civil indemnity ex delicto, P75,000.00 as moral damages and
P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.[17]
Not satisfied with the RTC's ruling, the accused-appellant appealed to the CA.

The Ruling of the CA

The CA ruled that the prosecution had indubitably established that the accused-appellant raped
AAA. It held that the accused-appellant's act was consummated through force, threat, and
intimidation. Moreover, AAA's unrelenting narration of what transpired, accompanied by her
categorical identification of the accused-appellant as the malefactor, established the case for the
prosecution. On the one hand, it held that the defense of denial and alibi offered by the accused-
appellant was weak since he failed to prove that it was physically impossible for him to be at the
crime scene at the time of its commission.[18]

While the CA affirmed the penalty imposed by the RTC upon the accused-appellant, it found the
need to modify the award of damages; hence, it ruled as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision dated 9 January 2013 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 172, Valenzuela City is AFFIRMED WITH
MODIFICATION. Accused-appellant Bryan Ganaba y Nam-ay is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of RAPE and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and
ordered to pay the victim AAA P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages,
and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. The award of damages shall earn legal interest at the rate
of 6% per annum from date of finality of this judgment until fully paid. Costs against accused-
appellant.

SO ORDERED.[19]
ISSUES
I.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING ILL MOTIVE ON THE PART OF THE
PRIVATE COMPLAINANT AS THE REASON FOR THE FILING OF THE CRIME OF
RAPE AGAINST THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT.

II.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT


GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME CHARGED.[20]
OUR RULING
The appeal has no merit.

The testimony of AAA deserves weight and credence.

Jurisprudence has emphatically maintained that the trial court's evaluation and conclusion on the
credibility of witnesses in rape cases are generally accorded great weight and respect, and at
times even finality, especially after the CA, as the intermediate reviewing tribunal, has affirmed
the findings; unless there is a clear showing that the findings were reached arbitrarily, or that
certain facts or circumstances of weight, substance or value were overlooked, misapprehended or
misappreciated that, if properly considered, would alter the result of the case.[21]

The Court has amply elucidated on the reason for according weight to the findings of the trial
court, viz:
It is well-settled that the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies is a
matter best undertaken by the trial court because of its unique opportunity to observe the
witnesses first hand and to note their demeanor, conduct, and attitude under grilling examination.
These are important in determining the truthfulness of witnesses and in unearthing the truth,
especially in the face of conflicting testimonies. For, indeed, the emphasis, gesture, and
inflection of the voice are potent aids in ascertaining the witness' credibility, and the trial court
has the opportunity and can take advantage of these aids. These cannot be incorporated in the
record so that all that theappellate court can see are the cold words of the witness contained in
transcript of testimonies with the risk that some of what the witness actually said may have been
lost in the process of transcribing. As correctly stated by an American court, "There is an
inherent impossibility of determining with any degree of accuracy what credit is justly due to a
witness from merely reading the words spoken by him, even if there were no doubt as to the
identity of the words. However artful a corrupt witness may be, there is generally, under the
pressure of a skillful cross-examination, something in his manner or bearing on the stand that
betrays him, and thereby destroys the force of his testimony. Many of the real tests of truth by
which the artful witness is exposed in the very nature of things cannot be transcribed upon the
record, and hence they can never be considered by the appellate court."[22]
Consequently, it was incumbent upon the accused-appellant to present clear and persuasive
reasons to persuade the Court to reverse the lower courts' unanimous determination of her
credibility as a witness in order to resolve the appeal his way.[23] The onus is upon the accused-
appellant to prove those facts and circumstances which the lower courts allegedly failed to
consider and appreciate, and that would fortify his position that they seriously erred in finding
him guilty of the crime charged. The accused-appellant, however, miserably failed to discharge
his burden.

By the distinctive nature of rape cases, conviction usually rests solely on the basis of the
testimony of the victim; provided that such testimony is credible, natural, convincing, and
consistent with human nature and the normal course of things. Thus, the victim's credibility
becomes the primordial consideration in the resolution of rape cases.[24] Noteworthily, both the
RTC and the CA found the testimony of AAA credible and persuasive.

In conjunction thereto, jurisprudence has firmly upheld the guidelines in evaluating the
testimony of a rape victim, viz: first, while an accusation for rape can be made with facility, it is
difficult to prove but more difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; second,
in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape where only two persons are usually involved,
the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution; and lastly, 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 of the defense.[25] The Court has meticulously
applied these guidelines in its review of the records of this case, but found no reason to depart
from the well-considered findings and observations of the lower courts.

The Court notes that the testimony of AAA was full of convincing details which, in her young
age, could not have been known to her unless these were the truth. "When the offended party is
of tender age and immature, courts are inclined to give credit to her account of what transpired,
considering not only her relative vulnerability but also the shame to which she would be exposed
if the matter to which she testified is not true. Youth and immaturity are generally badges of truth
and sincerity."[26]

A catena of cases sustains the ruling that the conduct of the victim immediately following the
alleged sexual assault is of utmost importance in tending to establish the truth or falsity of the
charge of rape.[27] In this case, after the accused-appellant had carnal knowledge of her, AAA
immediately left his house and proceeded to her brother's house where she narrated what had
happened to her. On that same day, AAA went to the barangay to report the incident, then to the
police station to give her statements, and subsequently to the crime laboratory to submit herself
to physical examination. The act of AAA in wasting no time in reporting her ordeal to the
authorities validates the truth of her charge against the accused-appellant.

AAA's positive and categorical statement that the accused-appellant had carnal knowledge of her
was reinforced by the testimony and medico-legal report of Dr. Chua. The pertinent findings of
Dr. Chua were as follows:
LABIA MINORA: Hyperemic with abrasion at 6 o'clock position.

HYMEN: Deep healed laceration at 5 and 6 o'clock positions.

POSTERIOR FOURCHETTE: Congested.

CONCLUSION: Clear evidence of penetrating trauma/force to the hymen with recent


penetration trauma to the Labia Majora and Minora.[28]
Dr. Chua testified that, based on her findings, her conclusion was that AAA was sexually
abused.[29] Of significance in this case is the legal teaching that while it is settled that a medical
examination of the victim is not indispensable in the prosecution of a rape case, and no law
requires a medical examination for the successful prosecution of the case, the medical
examination conducted and the medical certificate issued are veritable corroborative pieces of
evidence, which strongly bolster the victim's testimony.[30] Together, these pieces of evidence
produce a moral certainty that the accused-appellant indeed raped the victim.[31]

To prove that the RTC erred in according credence to AAA's testimony, the accused-appellant
offered the absurd contention that AAA's testimony can only prove that she had shared an
intimate moment with someone else and not with him. Accused-appellant anchored his
contention in his testimony on the witness stand, viz: that on 1 July 2009, he was at home
watching television with his wife; that AAA was not in his house that day; that he was told by
his wife that AAA had asked P200,000.00 in exchange for her dropping the case against him;
and that he did not give in to the demand of AAA because nothing happened between him and
AAA. In contrast, according to the accused-appellant, was the testimony of AAA where she
admitted that nothing happened between them.[32]

Accused-appellant's contentions have no basis. When AAA affirmed her sworn statement[33]
before the RTC, she clarified and firmly maintained that the accused-appellant had carnal
knowledge of her. Her testimony was as follows:
Q. What happened next after he pinched you on your left shoulder?
A. I kicked him again and he stood up. He took a knife, threatened to kill me. And after that his
friend arrived.

Q. And he went out?


A. I went out of the room, got my slippers, told the matter to my brother and we went to the
barangay but the barangay referred us to the police.

Q. Let us go back to the holding of the knife and his friend has not yet arrived. What happened
when Bryan got that knife?
A. He threatened to kill me if I would tell it to anybody (Papatayin kita pag nagsumbong ka).

Q. What happened next?


A. His friend arrived. When his friend arrived he proceeded to the c.r. Bryan followed him. I
immediately went out of the room and got my pair of slippers and proceeded to our house
and reported the matter to my brother.

Q. So nothing happened, there was no sex?


A. None, sir.

Q. You gave your sworn statement to the police marked as Exh "A." I will read your sworn
statement to the police given on July 2, 2009 wherein you stated: "Una po, nagpadede po
ako ng bata, four months old na anak ng amo ko, tapos isinarado niya po iyong pintuan at
tsaka iyong bintana. Dapat kami lang ng bata sa higaan, tsaka lang siya pupunta sa higaan
pag dumating iyong asawa niya, tapos tumabi siya sa akin. Ako po ang umalis, tapos
sinampal niya ako, bakit daw ako umaalis e umiiyak yung bata. Pinabalik niya ako sa
higaan, bumalik ako noong umalis siya, pumunta siya sa higaan sa kabila. Bumalik ako,
pinadede ko iyong bata, wala akong kamalay-malay na nandyan na pala siya sa tabi ko.
Paglingon ko nakahubad na siya, hinawakan niya ang kamay ko binanda ako sa pader
malapit sa higaan, sinabi kong huwag mong gawin sa akin kasi hindi ako ang asawa mo,
katulong lang ako. Pero ginawa niya pa rin. Hinubaran niya ako, hinawakan niya ang
dalawang kamay ko tapos sinampal pa niya ako. Tapos pinatungan niya po ako, tapos dun,
tinadyakan ko siya, pag pangalawang tadyak kinurot niya ako dito sa may balikat ko.
Lumaban ako, tapos pagtayo niya tumayo na rin ako, bubuksan ko iyong pinto pero hindi
mabuksan iyong pinto pag walang susi. Tapos kumuha siya ng kutsilyo, tinutukan niya ako
ng kutsilyo, tinutok niya dito sa noo ko, sinabi niya sa akin 'sige, sige anong gusto mo
papatayin kita ngayon,' hinila niya ako sa higaan. Lumaban po ako pero hindi ko siya kaya.
Tapos pinabuka niya iyong paa ko, pinasok na niya iyong oten niya sa pekpek ko. Sinampal
pa niya ako, napasok niya iyong oten niya, nilabas pasok niya..." Is that not true?
A. That is true.

Q. So before the friend arrived, was Bryan able to have sex with you?
A. Yes, sir.

Q. Why did you not say before when I asked you? You went once to the friend?
A. When he was already naked, he was able to pin my both hands on the wall, and he
parted my legs and inserted his penis in my vagina and after that he kicked me and he
pinched me on my shoulder.[34] (emphasis supplied)
The Court emphasizes that it has been its consistent declaration that inaccuracies and
inconsistencies in a rape victim's testimony are generally expected,[35] viz:
Rape is a painful experience which is oftentimes not remembered in detail. For such an offense is
not analogous to a person's achievement or accomplishment as to be worth recalling or reliving;
rather, it is something which causes deep psychological wounds and casts a stigma upon the
victim, scarring her psyche for life and which her conscious and subconscious mind would opt to
forget. Thus, a rape victim cannot be expected to mechanically keep and then give an accurate
account of the traumatic and horrifying experience she had undergone.[36]
Moreover, since human memory is fickle and prone to the stresses of emotions, accuracy in a
testimonial account has never been used as a standard in testing the credibility of a witness.[37]
To the Court, what is essential is that AAA's testimony meets the test of credibility
notwithstanding the gruelling cross-examination by the defense, and that it persuasively
conformed to the evidence on record.

In the same vein, the assertion of the accused-appellant that AAA had ill motive in filing the
present charge, i.e., demanding P200,000.00 in exchange for dropping the case against him, fails
to convince. Notably, it would be the accused-appellant's wife, Jane, who would be in the best
position to testify on this matter considering that AAA allegedly had demanded the P200,000.00
from her. Jane, however, never took the witness stand to corroborate the claim of the accused-
appellant. Likewise, the record is bereft of any showing as to any documentary evidence that
would substantiate AAA's demand for P200,000.00.

The legal teaching continuously invigorated by our jurisprudence is that motives have never
swayed this Court from giving full credence to the testimony of a minor rape victim.[38] A young
girl's revelation that she had been raped, coupled with her voluntary submission to medical
examination and willingness to undergo public trial where she could be compelled to give out the
details of an assault on her dignity, cannot be so easily dismissed as mere concoction.[39]

The defense prof erred by the accused-appellant was inherently weak.

The defense proffered by the accused-appellant that he was home with his wife during the time
material to the charge against him, cannot suffice to reverse his conviction.
Nothing is more settled in criminal law jurisprudence than that alibi and denial cannot prevail
over the positive and categorical testimony and identification of the complainant. Denial is an
intrinsically weak defense which must be buttressed with strong evidence of non-culpability to
merit credibility.[40] Alibi, on the one hand, is viewed with suspicion because it can easily be
fabricated. For the defense of alibi to prosper, the accused must prove that he was somewhere
else when the offense was committed and that he was so far away that it was not possible for him
to have been physically present at the place of the crime or at its immediate vicinity at the time
of its commission.[41] Unless supported by clear and convincing evidence, alibi cannot prevail
over the positive declaration of a victim who, in a natural and straightforward manner,
convincingly identifies the accused-appellant.[42]

Accused-appellant's alibi and denial easily came to nothing in view of his admission that he was
actually at the place of the crime at the time of its commission. Even granting for the sake of
argument that there was truth to the accused-appellant's contention that he was with his wife on
that day, this, however, cannot justify a conclusion that he did not have carnal knowledge of
AAA. The consistent ruling of the Court is that "Rape can be committed even in places where
people congregate, in parks, along the roadside, within school premises, inside a house where
there are other occupants, and even in the same room where other members of the family are also
sleeping. It is not impossible or incredible for the members of the victim's family to be in deep
slumber and not to be awakened while a sexual assault is being committed. Lust is no respecter
of time and place x x x."[43] More importantly, AAA's unfailing positive identification of the
accused-appellant as the one who had carnal knowledge of her, fastened to the fact that there was
no showing that she had ill motive in filing this charge, prevails over his defense of alibi and
denial.

The dearth of evidence that would corroborate the implausibility that the accused-appellant had
carnal knowledge of AAA weakens his defense of denial and alibi. To stress, not even Jane or
Erickson testified to reinforce his position that he could not have raped AAA on 1 July 2009.

The crime of rape was proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution.

For a successful prosecution of rape, the following elements must be proved beyond reasonable
doubt, to wit: (1) that the accused had carnal knowledge of the victim; and (2) that said act was
accomplished: (a) through the use of force and intimidation, or (b) when the victim is deprived of
reason or otherwise unconscious, or (c) when the victim is under 12 years of age or is
demented.[44]

The evidence of the prosecution unmistakably validates the conclusion that the accused-appellant
had carnal knowledge of AAA on 1 July 2009, through the use of force and intimidation. AAA
persuasively narrated that, despite her effort to escape from the room after the accused-appellant
pinned her arms, mounted her, and pinched her shoulder, the accused-appellant was able to get
hold of a knife that he used to threaten her while he dragged her to the bed and, thereafter,
successfully have carnal knowledge of her.

Jurisprudence imparts that the act of holding a knife by itself is strongly suggestive of force or at
least intimidation; and threatening the victim with a knife is sufficient to bring a woman to
submission, although the victim does not even need to prove resistance.[45] Force, threat or
intimidation, as an element of rape, need not be irresistible, but just enough to bring about the
desired result.[46]

The penalty to be imposed upon the accused-appellant

The Court finds that the RTC and the CA were correct in imposing upon the accused-appellant
the penalty of reclusion perpetua in accordance with Art. 266-B of the RPC.

As to the award of damages, the Court finds the need to modify the same to conform with the
jurisprudence laid down in People v. Jugueta,[47] viz: civil indemnity, moral damages, and
exemplary damages at P75,000.00 each. The civil indemnity and the moral and exemplary
damages shall earn interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the date of finality of
this judgment until folly paid.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DISMISSED. The 27 August 2014 Decision of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 06030, finding the accused-appellant Bryan Ganaba y Nam-ay
GUILTY of Rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua is
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as to the award of damages as follows: civil indemnity of
P75,000.00, moral damages of P75,000.00, and exemplary damages of P75,000.00. The civil
indemnity and the moral and exemplary damages shall earn interest at the rate of six percent
(6%) per annum from the date of finality of this judgment until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10883, July 17, 2016

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A NEW ANTI-CARNAPPING LAW OF THE PHILIPPINES

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress


assembled: chanRo blesvirtualLawlibrary

Section 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “New Anti-Carnapping Act of 2016”.

Sec. 2. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act: ChanRob lesVirtualawlibrary

(a) Body building refers to a job undertaken on a motor vehicle in order to replace its entire body
with a new body; cralawlawlibrary

(b) Defacing or tampering with a serial number refers to the altering, changing, erasing,
replacing or scratching of the original factory inscribed serial number on the motor vehicle
engine, engine block or chassis of any motor vehicle.

Whenever any motor vehicle is found to have a serial number on its engine, engine block or
chassis which is different from that which is listed in the records of the Bureau of Customs for
motor vehicle imported into the Philippines, that motor vehicle shall be considered to have a
defaced or tampered serial number; cralawlawlibrary

(c) Dismantling refers to the tearing apart, piece-by-piece or part-by-part, of a motor vehicle; cralawlawlibrary

(d) Identity transfer refers to the act of transferring the engine number, chassis number, body tag
number, plate number, and any other identifying marks of a motor vehicle declared as “total
wreck" or is beyond economic repair by concerned car insurance companies and/or law
enforcement agencies after its involvement in a vehicular accident or other incident and registers
the same into another factory-made body or vehicle unit, of the same classification, type, make
or model; cralawlawlibrary

(e) Motor vehicle refers to any vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power using
the public highways, except road rollers, trolley cars, street sweepers, sprinklers, lawn mowers,
bulldozers, graders, forklifts, amphibian trucks, and cranes if not used on public highways;
vehicles which run only on rails or tracks; and tractors, trailers and traction engines of all kinds
used exclusively for agricultural purposes. Trailers having any number of wheels, when
propelled or intended to be propelled by attachment to a motor vehicle, shall be classified as a
separate motor vehicle with no power rating; cralawlawlibrary

(f) Overhauling refers to the cleaning or repairing of the whole engine of a motor vehicle by
separating the motor engine and its parts from the body of the motor vehicle; cralawlawlibrary
(g) Repainting refers to changing the color of a motor vehicle by means of painting. There is
painting whenever the new color of a motor vehicle is different from its color registered in the
Land Transportation Office (LTO); cralawlawlibrary

(h) Remodeling refers to the introduction of some changes in the shape or form of the body of the
motor vehicle; cralawlawlibrary

(i) Second hand spare parts refer to the parts taken from a carnapped vehicle used in assembling
another vehicle; cralawlawlibrary

(j) Total wreck refers to the state or status of a motor vehicle after a vehicular accident or other
incident, so that it is rendered in operational and beyond economic repair due to the extent of
damage in its body, chassis and engine; and

(k) Unlawful transfer or use of vehicle plates refers to the use or transfer of a vehicle plate issued
by the LTO to a certain vehicle to another vehicle. It is presumed illegally transferred when the
motor vehicle plate does not correspond with that as appearing in the certificate of registration of
the motor vehicle to which it was issued.

Sec. 3. Carnapping; Penalties. – Carnapping is the taking, with intent to gain, of a motor vehicle
belonging to another without the latter’s consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation
of persons, or by using force upon things.

Any person who is found guilty of carnapping shall, regardless of the value of the motor vehicle
taken, be punished by imprisonment for not less than twenty (20) years and one (1) day but not
more than thirty (30) years, when the carnapping is committed without violence against or
intimidation of persons, or force upon things; and by imprisonment for not less than thirty (30)
years and one (1) day but not more than forty (40) years, when the carnapping is committed by
means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or force upon things; and the penalty of life
imprisonment shall be imposed when the owner, driver, or occupant of the carnapped motor
vehicle is killed or raped in the commission of the carnapping.

Any person charged with carnapping or when the crime of carnapping is committed by criminal
groups, gangs or syndicates or by means of violence or intimidation of any person or persons or
forced upon things; or when the owner, driver, passenger or occupant of the carnapped vehicle is
killed or raped in the course of the carnapping shall be denied bail when the evidence of guilt is
strong.

Sec. 4. Concealment of Carnapping. – Any person who conceals carnapping shall be punished
with imprisonment of six (6) years up to twelve (12) years and a fine equal to theamount of the
acquisition cost of the motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, or any other part involved in the
violation: Provided, That if the person violating any provision of this Act is a juridical person,
the penalty herein provided shall be imposed on its president, secretary, and/or members of the
board of directors or any of its officers and employees who may have directly participated in the
violation.

Any public official or employee who directly commits the unlawful acts defined in this Act or is
guilty of gross negligence of duty or connives with or permits the commission of any of the said
unlawful acts shall, in addition to the penalty prescribed in the preceding paragraph, be dismissed
from the service, and his/her benefits forfeited and shall be permanently disqualified from
holding public office.

Sec. 5. Original Registration of Motor Vehicles. – Any person seeking the original registration of
a motor vehicle, whether that motor vehicle is newly assembled or rebuilt or acquired from a
registered owner, shall, within one (1) week after the completion of the assembly or rebuilding
job or the acquisition thereof from the registered owner, apply to the Philippine National Police
(PNP) for the clearance of the motor vehicle for registration with the LTO. The PNP shall, upon
receipt of the application, verify if the motor vehicle or its numbered parts are in the list of
carnapped motor vehicles or stolen motor vehicle parts. If the motor vehicle or any of its
numbered parts is not in the list, the PNP shall forthwith issue a certificate of clearance. Upon
presentation of the certificate of clearance from the PNP and after verification of the registration
of the motor vehicle engine, engine block and chassis in the permanent registry of motor vehicle
engine, engine block and chassis, the LTO shall register the motor vehicle in accordance with
existing laws, rules and regulations within twenty (20) working days.

Sec. 6. Registration of Motor Vehicle, Motor Vehicle Engine, Engine Block and Chassis. –
Within one (1) year upon approval of this Act, every owner or possessor of unregistered motor
vehicle or parts thereof in knock down condition shall register before the LTO the motor vehicle
engine, engine block and chassis in the name of the possessor or in the name of the real owner
who shall be readily available to answer any claim over the registered motor vehicle engine,
engine block and chassis. Thereafter, all motor vehicle engines, engine blocks and chassis not
registered with the LTO shall be considered as a carnapped vehicle, an untaxed importation or
coming from illegal source and shall be confiscated in favor of the government.

Sec. 7. Permanent Registry of Motor Vehicle, Motor Vehicle Engines, Engine Blocks and
Chassis. – The LTO shall keep a permanent registry of motor vehicle, motor vehicle engines,
engine blocks and chassis of all motor vehicles, specifying therein their type, make, serial
numbers and stating therein the names and addresses of their present and previous owners.
Copies of the registry and of all entries made there on shall be furnished the PNP and all LTO
regional, provincial and city branch offices; Provided, That all LTO regional, provincial and city
offices are likewise obliged to furnish copies of all registrations of motor vehicles to the main
office and to the PNP: Provided, further, That the original copy of the certificate of registration
shall be given to the registered owner, the second copy shall be retained with the LTO and the
third copy shall be submitted to the PNP. Moreover, it shall be unlawful for any person or
employee who willfully encodes in the registry of motor vehicles a non-existing vehicle or
without history, new identity of already existing vehicle or double/ multiple registration
(“KAMBAL”) of vehicle.

Sec. 8. Registration of Sale, Transfer, Conveyance of a Motor Vehicle, Substitution or


Replacement of a Motor Vehicle Engine, Engine Block or Chassis. – Every sale, transfer,
conveyance of a motor vehicle, substitution or replacement of a motor vehicle engine, engine
block or chassis of a motor vehicle shall be registered with the LTO within twenty (20) working
days upon purchase/acquisition of a motor vehicle and substitution or replacement of a motor
vehicle engine, engine block or chassis. A motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, engine block or
chassis not registered with the LTO shall be presumed as a carnapped vehicle, an untaxed
imported vehicle, or a vehicle proceeding from illegal sources unless proven otherwise and shall
be confiscated in favor of the government.

Sec. 9. Duty of Collector of Customs to Report. – Within seven (7) days after the arrival of an
imported vehicle, motor vehicle engine, engine block, chassis or body, the Collector of Customs
of a principal port of entry where the imported vehicle or parts enumerated above are unloaded
shall report the shipment to the LTO, specifying the make, type and serial numbers, if any, of the
motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, engine block, chassis or body, and stating the names and
addresses of the owner or consignee thereof. If the motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, engine
block, chassis or body does not bear any serial number, the Collector of Customs concerned shall
hold the motor vehicle, motor vehicle engine, engine block, chassis or body until it is numbered
by the LTO: Provided, That a PNP clearance shall be required prior to engraving the engine or
chassis number.

Sec. 10. Duty of Importers, Distributors and Sellers of Motor Vehicles to Keep Record of Stocks.
– Any person engaged in the importation, distribution, and buying and selling of motor vehicles,
motor vehicle engines, engine blocks, chassis or body shall keep a permanent record of one’s
stocks, stating therein their type, make and serial numbers, and the names and addresses of the
persons from whom they were acquired and the names and addresses of the persons to whom
they are sold, and shall render accurately a monthly report of his/her transactions in motor
vehicles to the LTO.

SEC.11. Duty of Manufacturers of Engine Blocks, Chassis or Body to Cause the Numbering of
Engine Blocks, Chassis or Body Manufactured. – Any person engaged in the manufacture of
engine blocks, chassis or body shall cause the numbering of every engine block, chassis or body
manufactured in a convenient and conspicuous part thereof which the LTO may direct for the
purpose of uniformity and identification of the factory and shall submit to the LTO a monthly
report of the manufacture and sale of engine blocks, chassis or body.

Sec. 12. Clearance and Permit Required for Assembly or Rebuilding of Motor Vehicles. – Any
person who shall undertake to assemble or rebuild or cause the assembly or rebuilding of a motor
vehicle shall first secure a certificate of clearance from the PNP: Provided, That no such permit
shall be issued unless the applicant shall present a statement under oath containing the type,
make and serial numbers of the engine, chassis and body, if any, and the complete list of the
spare parts of the motor vehicle to be assembled or rebuilt together with the names and addresses
of the sources thereof.

In the case of motor vehicle engines to be mounted on motor boats, motor bancas, water crafts
and other light water vessels, the applicant shall secure a permit from the PNP, which office shall
in turn furnish the LTO pertinent data concerning the motor vehicle engines including their type,
make and serial numbers.

Sec. 13. Clearance Required for Shipment of Motor Vehicles, Motor Vehicle Engines, Engine
Blocks, Chassis or Body. – The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) shall submit a report to the
PNP within seven (7) days upon boarding all motor vehicles being boarded the “RORO”, ferry,
boat, vessel or ship for interisland and international shipment. The PPA shall not allow the
loading of motor vehicles in all interisland and international shipping vessels without a motor
vehicle clearance from the PNP, except cargo trucks and other trucks carrying goods. Land
Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)-accredited public utility vehicles
(PUV) and other motor vehicles carrying foodstuff and dry goods.

Sec. 14. Defacing or Tampering with Serial Numbers of Motor Vehicle Engines, Engine Blocks
and Chassis. – It shall be unlawful for any person to deface or otherwise tamper with the original
or registered serial number of motor vehicle engines, engine blocks and chassis.

Sec. 15. Identity Transfer. – It shall be unlawful for any person, office or entity to cause and/or
allow the sale, registration, and/or transfer into another name, the chassis number, engine number
and plate number of a motor vehicle declared as “total wreck” or beyond economic repair by
concerned insurance company, and/or law enforcement agencies, due to its involvement in a
vehicular accident or for some other causes. The LTO shall cancel the registration of total wreck
vehicle as reported by the PNP and/or as declared by the Insurance Commission.

Sec. 16. Transfer of Vehicle Plate. – It shall be unlawful for any person, office or entity to
transfer or use a vehicle plate from one vehicle to another without securing the proper authority
from the LTO.

Sec. 17. Sale of Second Hand Spare Parts. – It shall be unlawful for any person, office or entity
to buy and/or sell any second hand spare parts taken from a carnapped vehicle.

Sec. 18. Foreign Nationals. – Foreign nationals convicted under the provisions of this Act shall
be deported immediately after service of sentence without further proceedings by the Bureau of
Immigration.

Sec. 19. Reward. – Any person who voluntarily gives information leading to the recovery of
carnapped vehicles and for the apprehension of the persons charged with carnapping shall be
given monetary reward as the PNP may determine. The PNP shall include in their annual budget
the amount necessary to carry out the purposes of this section. Any information given by
informers shall be treated as confidential matter.

Sec. 20. Implementing Rules and Regulations. – The PNP together with the Department of
Transportation and Communications, LTO, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry
Authority, Bureau of Customs and relevant motorists and automotive sectors shall, within sixty
(60) days from the effectivity of this Act, after unanimous approval, promulgate the necessary
implementing rules and regulations to effectively carry out the provisions of this Act, including
the setting up of a coordinated online access and the effective clearance system mentioned in
Section 12 of this Act to expedite motor vehicle data and details verification.

Sec. 21. Separability Clause. – If any provision of this Act is declared invalid, the remainder of
this Act or any provision not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.

Sec. 22. Repealing Clause. – Republic Act No. 6539, otherwise known as the “Anti-Carnapping
Act of 1972”, is hereby repealed. All laws, executive orders, rules and regulations or parts
thereof inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby amended or repealed accordingly.

Sec. 23. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the
Official Gazette or in two (2) newspapers of general circulation, whichever comes earlier.
G.R. No. 125055 October 30, 1998

A. FRANCISCO REALTY AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and SPOUSES ROMULO S.A. JAVILLONAR and ERLINDA
P. JAVILLONAR, respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision rendered on February 29, 1996
by the Court of Appeals 1 reversing, in toto, the decision of the Regional Trial Court
of Pasig City in Civil Case No. 62290, as well as the appellate court's resolution of
May 7, 1996 denying reconsideration.

Petitioner A. Francisco Realty and Development Corporation granted a loan of


P7.5 Million to private respondents, the spouses Romulo and Erlinda Javillonar,
in consideration of which the latter executed the following documents: (a) a
promissory note, dated November 27, 1991, stating an interest charge of 4% per
month for six months; (b) a deed of mortgage over realty covered by TCT No.
58748, together with the improvements thereon; and (c) an undated deed of sale
of the mortgaged property in favor of the mortgagee, petitioner A. Francisco
Realty. 2

The interest on the said loan was to be paid in four installments: half of the total
amount agreed upon (P900,000.00) to be paid in advance through a deduction
from the proceeds of the loan, while the balance to be paid monthly by means of
checks post-dated March 27, April 27, and May 27, 1992. The promissory note
expressly provided that upon "failure of the MORTGAGOR (private respondents)
to pay the interest without prior arrangement with the MORTGAGEE (petitioner),
full possession of the property will be transferred and the deed of sale will be
registered. 3 For this purpose, the owner's duplicate of TCT No. 58748 was
delivered to petitioner A. Francisco Realty.

Petitioner claims that private respondents failed to pay the interest and, as a
consequence, it registered the sale of the land in its favor on February 21, 1992.
As a result, TCT No. 58748 was cancelled and in lieu thereof TCT No. PT-85569
was issued in the name of petitioner A. Francisco Realty.4

Private respondents subsequently obtained an additional loan of P2.5 Million


from petitioner on March 13, 1992 for which they signed a promissory note which
reads:

PROMISSORY NOTE
For value received I promise to pay A. FRANCISCO REALTY AND
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, the additional sum of Two Million
Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P2,500,000.00) on or before April 27,
1992, with interest at the rate of four percent (4%) a month until fully
paid and if after the said date this note and/or the other promissory
note of P7.5 Million remains unpaid and/or unsettled, without any
need for prior demand or notification, I promise to vacate voluntarily
and willfully and/or allow A.FRANCISCO REALTY AND
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION to appropriate and occupy for their
exclusive use the real property located at 56 Dragonfly, Valle Verde
VI, Pasig, Metro Manila.5

Petitioner demanded possession of the mortgaged realty and the payment of 4%


monthly interest from May 1992, plus surcharges. As respondent spouses
refused to vacate, petitioner filed the present action for possession before the
Regional Trial Court in Pasig City.6

In their answer, respondents admitted liability on the loan but alleged that it was
not their intent to sell the realty as the undated deed of sale was executed by
them merely as an additional security for the payment of their loan. Furthermore,
they claimed that they were not notified of the registration of the sale in favor of
petitioner A. Francisco Realty and that there was no interest then unpaid as they
had in fact been paying interest even subsequent to the registration of the sale.
As an alternative defense, respondents contended that the complaint was
actually for ejectment and, therefore, the Regional Trial Court had no jurisdiction
to try the case. As counterclaim, respondents sought the cancellation of TCT No.
PT-85569 as secured by petitioner and the issuance of a new title evidencing their
ownership of the property.7

On December 19, 1992, the Regional Trial Court rendered a decision, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, prescinding from the foregoing considerations,


judgment is hereby rendered declaring as legal and valid, the right of
ownership of A. Francisco Realty Find Development Corporation,
over the property subject of this case and now registered in its name
as owner thereof, under TCT No. 85569 of the Register of Deeds of
Rizal, situated at No. 56 Dragonfly Street, Valle Verde VI, Pasig, Metro
Manila.

Consequently, defendants are hereby ordered to cease and desist


from further committing acts of dispossession or from withholding
possession from plaintiff of the said property as herein described
and specified.
Claim for damages in all its forms, however, including attorney's
fees, are hereby denied, no competent proofs having been adduced
on record, in support thereof.8

Respondent spouses appealed to the Court of Appeals which reversed the


decision of the trial court and dismissed the complaint against them. The
appellate court ruled that the Regional Trial Court had no jurisdiction over the
case because it was actually an action for unlawful detainer which is exclusively
cognizable by municipal trial courts. Furthermore, it ruled that, even presuming
jurisdiction of the trial court, the deed of sale was void for being in fact a pactum
commissorium which is prohibited by Art. 2088 of the Civil Code.

Petitioner A. Francisco Realty filed a motion for reconsideration, but the Court of
Appeals denied the motion in its resolution, dated May 7, 1996. Hence, this
petition for review on certiorari raising the following issues:

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING


THAT THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT HAD NO JURISDICTION OVER
THE COMPLAINT FILED BY THE PETITIONER.

WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING


THAT THE CONTRACTUAL DOCUMENTS SUBJECT OF THE
INSTANT CASE ARE CONSTITUTIVE OF PACTUM COMMISSORIUM
AS DEFINED UNDER ARTICLE 2088 OF THE CIVIL CODE OF THE
PHILIPPINES.

On the first issue, the appellate court stated:

Ostensibly, the cause of action in the complaint indicates a case for


unlawful detainer, as contra-distinguished from accion publiciana.
As contemplated by Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, an action for
unlawful detainer which falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the
Metropolitan or Municipal Trial Courts, is defined as withholding
from by a person from another for not more than one year, the
possession of the land or building to which the latter is entitled after
the expiration or termination of the supposed rights to hold
possession by virtue of a contract, express or implied. (Tenorio vs.
Gamboa, 81 Phil. 54; Dikit vs. Dicaciano, 89 Phil. 44). If no action is
initiated for forcible entry or unlawful detainer within the expiration
of the 1 year period, the case may still be filed under the plenary
action to recover possession by accion publiciana before the Court
of First Instance (now the Regional Trial Court) (Medina vs.
Valdellon, 63 SCRA 278). In plain language, the case at bar is a
legitimate ejectment case filed within the 1 year period from the
jurisdictional demand to vacate. Thus, the Regional Trial Court has
no jurisdiction over the case. Accordingly, under Section 33 of B.P.
Blg. 129 Municipal Trial Courts are vested with the exclusive original
jurisdiction over forcible entry and unlawful detainer case. (Sen Po
Ek Marketing Corp. vs. CA, 212 SCRA 154 [1990])9

We think the appellate court is in error. What really distinguishes an action for
unlawful detainer from a possessory action (accion publiciana) and from a
reivindicatory action (accion reivindicatoria) is that the first is limited to the
question of possession de facto.

An unlawful detainer suit (accion interdictal) together with forcible


entry are the two forms of an ejectment suit that may be filed to
recover possession of real property. Aside from the summary action
of ejectment, accion publiciana or the plenary action to recover the
right of possession and accion reivindicatoria or the action to
recover ownership which includes recovery of possession, make up
the three kinds of actions to judicially recover possession.

Illegal detainer consists in withholding by a person from another of


the possession of a land or building to which the latter is entitled
after the expiration or termination of the former's right to hold
possession by virtue of a contract, express or implied. An ejectment
suit is brought before the proper inferior court to recover physical
possession only or possession de facto and not possession de jure,
where dispossession has lasted for not more than one year. Forcible
entry and unlawful detainer are quieting processes and the one-year
time bar to the suit is in pursuance of the summary nature of the
action. The use of summary procedure in ejectment cases is
intended to provide an expeditious means of protecting actual
possession or right to possession of the property. They are not
processes to determine the actual title to an estate. If at all, inferior
courts are empowered to rule on the question of ownership raised by
the defendant in such suits, only to resolve the issue of possession.
Its determination on the ownership issue is, however, not
conclusive.10

The allegations in both the original and the amended complaints of petitioner
before the trial court clearly raise issues involving more than the question of
possession, to wit: (a) the validity of the Transfer of ownership to petitioner; (b)
the alleged new liability of private respondents for P400,000.00 a month from the
time petitioner made its demand on them to vacate; and (c) the alleged continuing
liability of private respondents under both loans to pay interest and surcharges
on such. As petitioner A. Francisco Realty alleged in its amended complaint:

5. To secure the payment of the sum of 7.5 Million together with the
monthly interest, the defendant spouses agreed to execute a Deed of
Mortgage over the property with the express condition that if and
when they fail to pay monthly interest or any infringement thereof
they agreed to convert the mortgage into a Deed of Absolute Sale in
favor of the plaintiff by executing Deed of Sale thereto, copy of which
is hereto attached and incorporated herein as Annex "A";

6. That in order to authorize the Register of Deeds into registering


the Absolute Sale and transfer to the plaintiff, defendant delivered
unto the plaintiff the said Deed of Sale together with the original
owner's copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 58748 of the Registry
of Rizal, copy of which is hereto attached and made an integral part
herein as Annex "B";

7. That defendant spouses later secured from the plaintiff an


additional loan of P2.5 Million with the same condition as
aforementioned with 4% monthly interest;

8. That defendants spouses failed to pay the stipulated monthly


interest and as per agreement of the parties, plaintiff recorded and
registered the Absolute Deed of Sale in its favor on and was issued
Transfer Certificate of Title No. PT-85569, copy of which is hereto
attached and incorporated herein as Annex "C";

9. That upon registration and transfer of the Transfer Certificate of


Title in the name of the plaintiff, copy of which is hereto attached and
incorporated herein as Annex "C", plaintiff demanded the surrender
of the possession of the above-described parcel of land together
with the improvements thereon, but defendants failed and refused to
surrender the same to the plaintiff without justifiable reasons
thereto; Neither did the defendants pay the interest of 4% a month
from May, 1992 plus surcharges up to the present;

10. That it was the understanding of the parties that if and when the
defendants shall fail to pay the interest due and that the Deed of Sale
be registered in favor of plaintiff, the defendants shall pay a monthly
rental of P400,000.00 a month until they vacate the premises, and
that if they still fail to pay as they are still failing to pay the amount of
P400,000.00 a month as rentals and/or interest, the plaintiff shall take
physical possession of the said property; 11

It is therefore clear from the foregoing that petitioner A. Francisco Realty raised
issues which involved more than a simple claim for the immediate possession of
the subject property. Such issues range across the full scope of rights of the
respective parties under their contractual arrangements. As held in an analogous
case:
The disagreement of the parties in Civil Case No. 96 of the Justice of
the Peace of Hagonoy, Bulacan extended far beyond the issues
generally involved in unlawful detainer suits. The litigants therein did
not raise merely the question of who among them was entitled to the
possession of the fishpond of Federico Suntay. For all judicial
purposes, they likewise prayed of the court to rule on their
respective rights under the various contractual documents — their
respective deeds of lease, the deed of assignment and the
promissory note — upon which they predicate their claims to the
possession of the said fishpond. In other words, they gave the court
no alternative but to rule on the validity or nullity of the above
documents. Clearly, the case was converted into the determination
of the nature of the proceedings from a mere detainer suit to one that
is "incapable of pecuniary estimation" and thus beyond the
legitimate authority of the Justice of the Peace Court to rule on. 12

Nor can it be said that the compulsory counterclaim filed by respondent spouses
challenging the title of petitioner A. Francisco Realty was merely a collateral
attack which would bar a ruling here on the validity of the said title.

A counterclaim is considered a complaint, only this time, it is the


original defendant who becomes the plaintiff (Valisno v. Plan, 143
SCRA 502 (1986). It stands on the same footing and is to be tested by
the same rules as if it were an independent action. Hence, the same
rules on jurisdiction in an independent action apply to a
counterclaim (Vivar v. Vivar, 8 SCRA 847 (1963); Calo v. Ajar
International, Inc. v. 22 SCRA 996 (1968); Javier v. Intermediate
Appellate Court, 171 SCRA 605 (1989); Quiason, Philippine Courts
and Their Jurisdictions, 1993 ed., p. 203). 13

On the second issue, the Court of Appeals held that, even "on the assumption
that the trial court has jurisdiction over the instant case," petitioner's action could
not succeed because the deed of sale on which it was based was void, being in
the nature of a pactum commissorium prohibited by Art. 2088 of the Civil Code
which provides:

Art. 2088. The creditor cannot appropriate the things given by way to
pledge or mortgage, or dispose of them. Any stipulation to the
contrary is null and void.

With respect to this question, the ruling of the appellate court should be affirmed.
Petitioner denies, however, that the promissory notes contain a pactum
commissorium. It contends that —

What is envisioned by Article 2088 of the Civil Code of the


Philippines is a provision in the deed of mortgage providing for the
automatic conveyance of the mortgaged property in case of the
failure of the debtor to pay the loan (Tan v. West Coast Life
Assurance Co., 54 Phil. 361). A pactum commissorium is a forfeiture
clause in a deed of mortgage (Hechanova v. Adil, 144 SCRA 450;
Montevergen v. Court of Appeals, 112 SCRA 641; Report of the Code
Commission, 156).

Thus, before Article 2088 can find application herein, the subject
deed of mortgage must be scrutinized to determine if it contains
such a provision giving the creditor the right "to appropriate the
things given by way of mortgage without following the procedure
prescribed by law for the foreclosure of the mortgage" (Ranjo v.
Salmon, 15 Phil. 436). IN SHORT, THE PROSCRIBED STIPULATION
SHOULD BE FOUND IN THE MORTGAGE DEED ITSELF.14

The contention is patently without merit. To sustain the theory of petitioner would
be to allow a subversion of the prohibition in Art. 2088.

In Nakpil v. Intermediate Appellate Court, 15 which involved the violation of a


constructive trust, no deed of mortgage was expressly executed between the
parties in that case: Nevertheless, this Court ruled that an agreement whereby
property held in trust was ceded to the trustee upon failure of the beneficiary to
pay his debt to the former as secured by the said property was void for being a
pactum commissorium. Itwas there held:

The arrangement entered into between the parties, whereby Pulong


Maulap was to be "considered sold to him (respondent) . . ." in case
petitioner fails to reimburse Valdes, must then be construed as
tantamount to a pactum commissorium which is expressly
prohibited by Art. 2088 of the Civil Code. For, there was to be
automatic appropriation of the property by Valdez in the event of
failure of petitioner to pay the value of the advances. Thus, contrary
to respondent's manifestations, all the elements of a pactum
commissorium were present: there was a creditor-debtor
relationship between the parties; the property was used as security
for the loan; and, there was automatic appropriation by respondent
of Pulong Maulap in case of default of petitioner.16

Similarly, the Court has struck down such stipulations as contained in deeds of
sale purporting to be pacto de retro sales but found actually to be equitable
mortgages.

It has been consistently held that the presence of even one of the
circumstances enumerated in Art. 1602 of the New Civil Code is
sufficient to declare a contract of sale with right to repurchase an
equitable mortgage. This is so because pacto de retro sales with the
stringent and onerous effects that accompany them are not favored.
In case of doubt, a contract purporting to be a sale with the right to
repurchase shall be construed as an equitable mortgage.

Petitioner, to prove her claim, cannot rely on the stipulation in the


contract providing that complete and absolute title shall be vested
on the vendee should the vendors fail to redeem the property on the
specified date. Such stipulation that the ownership of the property
would automatically pass to the vendee in case no redemption was
effected within the stipulated period is void for being a pactum
commissorium which enables the mortgagee to acquire ownership of
the mortgaged property without need of foreclosure. Its insertion in
the contract is an avowal of the intention to mortgage rather that to
sell the property. 17

Indeed, in Reyes v. Sierra 18 this Court categorically ruled that a mortgagee's


mere act of registering the mortgaged property in his own name upon the
mortgagor's failure to redeem the property amounted to the exercise of the
privilege of a mortgagee in a pactum commissorium.

Obviously, from the nature of the transaction, applicant's a


predecessor-in-interest is a mere mortgagee, and ownership of the
thing mortgaged is retained by Basilia Beltran, the mortgagor. The
mortgagee, however, may recover the loan, although the mortgage
document evidencing the loan was nonregistrable being a purely
private instrument. Failure of mortgagor to redeem the property does
not automatically vest ownership of the property to the mortgagee,
which would grant the latter the right to appropriate the thing
mortgaged or dispose of it. This violates the provision of Article 2088
of the New Civil Code, which reads:

The creditor cannot appropriate the things given by way of pledge or


mortgage, or dispose by them. Any stipulation to the contrary is null
and void.

The act of applicant in registering the property in his own name upon
mortgagor's failure to redeem the property would to a pactum
commissorium which is against good morals and public policy.19

Thus, in the case at bar, the stipulations in the promissory notes providing that,
upon failure of respondent spouses to pay interest, ownership of the property
would be automatically transferred to petitioner A. Francisco Realty and the deed
of sale in its favor would be registered, are in substance a pactum
commissorium. They embody the two elements of pactum commissorium as laid
down in Uy Tong v. Court of Appeals,20 to wit:
The prohibition on pactum commissorium stipulations is provided
for by Article 2088 of the Civil Code:

Art. 2088. The creditor cannot appropriate the things given by way of
pledge or mortgagee, or dispose of the same. Any stipulation to the
contrary is null and void.

The aforequoted provision furnishes the two elements for pactum


commissorium to exist: (1) that there should be a pledge or
mortgage wherein a property is pledged or mortgaged by way of
security for the payment of the principal obligation; and (2) that there
should be a stipulation for an automatic appropriation by the creditor
of the thing pledged or mortgaged in the event of non-payment of the
principal obligation within the stipulated period.21

The subject transaction being void, the registration of the deed of sale, by virtue
of which petitioner A. Francisco Realty was able to obtain TCT No. PT-85569
covering the subject lot, must also be declared void, as prayed for by
respondents in their counterclaim.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED, insofar as it


dismissed petitioner's complaint against respondent spouses on the ground that
the stipulations in the promissory notes are void for being a pactum
commissorium, but REVERSED insofar as it ruled that the trial court had no
jurisdiction over this case. The Register of Deeds of Pasig City is hereby
ORDERED to CANCEL TCT No. PT-85569 issued to petitioner and ISSUE a new
one in the name of respondent spouses.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 160408, January 11, 2016

SPOUSES ROBERTO AND ADELAIDA PEN, Petitioners, v. SPOUSES SANTOS AND


LINDA JULIAN, Respondents.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

The petitioners who were the buyers of the mortgaged property of the respondents seek the
reversal of the decision promulgated on October 20, 2003,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA)
affirmed with modification the adverse judgment rendered on August 30, 1999 by the Regional
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 77, in Quezon City.2 In their respective rulings, the CA and the RTC
both declared the deed of sale respecting the respondents' property as void and inexistent, albeit
premised upon different reasons. chanRob lesvirtualLawlibrary

Antecedents

The CA summarized the antecedent facts and procedural matters in its assailed decision as
follows:

On April 9, 1986, the appellees (the Julians) obtained a P60,000.00 loan from appellant Adelaida
Pen. On May 23, 1986 and on the (sic) May 27, 1986, they were again extended loans in the
amounts of P50,000.00 and PI0,000.00, respectively by appellant Adelaida. The initial interests
were deducted by appellant Adelaida, (1) P3,600.00 from the P60,000.00 loan; (2) P2,400.00
from the P50,000.00 loan; and (3) P600.00 from the PI0,000.00 loan. Two (2) promissory notes
were executed by the appellees in favor of appellant Adelaida to evidence the foregoing loans,
one dated April 9, 1986 and payable on June 15, 1986 for the P60,000.00 loan and another dated
May 22, 1986 payable on July 22, 1986 for the P50,000.00 loan. Both loans were charged
interest at 6% per month. As security, on May 23, 1986, the appellees executed a Real Estate
Mortgage over their property covered by TCT No. 327733 registered under the name of appellee
Santos Julian, Jr. The owner's duplicate of TCT No. 327733 was delivered to the appellants.

Appellant's version of the subsequent events run as follows: When the loans became due and
demandable, appellees failed to pay despite several demands. As such, appellant Adelaida
decided to institute foreclosure proceedings. However, she was prevailed upon by appellee Linda
not to foreclose the property because of the cost of litigation and since it would cause her
embarrassment as the proceedings will be announced in public places at the City Hall, where she
has many friends. Instead, appellee Linda offered their mortgaged property as payment in kind.
After the ocular inspection, the parties agreed to have the property valued at P70,000.00.
Thereafter, on October 22, 1986 appellee executed a two (2) page Deed of Sale duly signed by
her on the left margin and over her printed name. After the execution of the Deed of Sale,
appellant Pen paid the capital gains tax and the required real property tax. Title to the property
was transferred to the appellants by the issuance of TCT No. 364880 on July 17, 1987. A
reconstituted title was also issued to the appellants on July 09, 1994 when the Quezon City
Register of Deeds was burned (sic).

On July 1989, appellants allege that appellee Linda offered to repurchase the property to which
the former agreed at the repurchase price of P436,115.00 payable in cash on July 31, 1989. The
appellees failed to repurchase on the agreed date. On February 1990, appellees again offered to
repurchase the property for the same amount, but they still failed to repurchase. On June 28,
1990, another offer was made to repurchase the property for the same amount. Appellee Linda
offered to pay P100,000.00 in cash as sign of good faith. The offer was rejected by appellant
Adelaida. The latter held the money only for safekeeping upon the pleading of appellee Linda.
Upon the agreement of the parties, the amount of P100,000.00 was deducted from the balance of
the appellees' indebtedness, so that as of October 15, 1997, their unpaid balance amounted to
P319,065.00. Appellants allege that instead of paying [the] said balance, the appellees instituted
on September 8, 1994 the civil complaint and filed an adverse claim and lis pendens which were
annotated at the back of the title to the property.

On the other hand, the appellees aver the following: At the time the mortgage was executed, they
were likewise required by the appellant Adelaida to sign a one (1) page document purportedly an
"Absolute Deed of Sale". Said document did not contain any consideration, and was "undated,
unfilled and unnotarized". They allege that their total payments amounted to P115,400.00 and
that their last payment was on June 28, 1990 in the amount of P100,000.00.

In December 1992, appellee Linda Julian offered to pay appellant Adelaida the amount of
PI50,000.00. The latter refused to accept the offer and demanded that she be paid the amount of
P250,000.00. Unable to meet the demand, appellee Linda desisted from the offer and requested
that she be shown the land title which she conveyed to the appellee Adelaida, but the latter
refused. Upon verification with the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City, she was informed that the
title to the mortgaged property had already been registered in the name of appellee Adelaida
under TCT No. 364880, and that the transfer was entered on July 17, 1987. A reconstituted title,
TCT No. RT-45272 (364880), also appeared on file in the Registry of Deeds replacing TCT No.
364880.

By reason of the foregoing discoveries, appellee filed an Affidavit of Adverse Claim on January
1993. Counsel for the appellees, on August 12, 1994, formally demanded the reconveyance of
the title and/or the property to them, but the appellants refused. In the process of obtaining other
documents; the appellees also discovered that the appellants have obtained several Declarations
of Real Property, and a Deed of Sale consisting of two (2) pages which was notarized by one
Atty. Cesar Ching. Said document indicates a consideration of P70,000.00 for the lot, and was
made to appear as having been executed on October 22, 1986. On September 8, 1994, appellees
filed a suit for the Cancellation of Sale, Cancellation of Title issued to the appellants; Recovery
of Possession; Damages with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction. The complaint alleged that
appellant Adelaida, through obvious bad faith, maliciously typed, unilaterally filled up, and
caused to be notarized the Deed of Sale earlier signed by appellee Julian, and used this spurious
deed of sale as the vehicle for her fraudulent transfer unto herself the parcel of land covered by
TCT No. 327733.3 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Judgment of the RTC


In its judgment rendered on August 30, 1999,4 the RTC ruled in favor of the respondents.
According greater credence to the version of the respondents on the true nature of their
transaction, the trial court concluded that they had not agreed on the consideration for the sale at
the time they signed the deed of sale; that in the absence of the consideration, the sale lacked one
of the essential requisites of a valid contract; that the defense of prescription was rejected
because the action to impugn the void contract was imprescriptible; and that the promissory
notes and the real estate mortgage in favor of the petitioners were nonetheless valid, rendering
the respondents liable to still pay their outstanding obligation with interest.

The RTC disposed thusly:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

1. Declaring the Deed of Sale, dated October 22, 1986, void or inexistent;

2. Cancelling TCT No. RT-45272 (364480) and declaring it to be of no further legal


force and effect;

3. Ordering the defendants to reconvcy the subject property to the plaintiiTs and to
deliver to them the possession thereof; and

4. Ordering the plaintiffs to pay to the defendants the unpaid balance of their
indebtedness plus accrued interest totaling P319,065.00 as of October 15, 1997,
plus interests at the legal rate counted from the date of filing of the complaint and
until the full payment thereof, without prejudice to the right of the defendants to
foreclose the mortgage in the event that plaintiiTs will foil to pay their obligation.

No pronouncement as to cost.

SO ORDERED.5 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Decision of the CA

On appeal by the petitioners, the CA affirmed the RTC with modification under its assailed
decision of October 20, 2003,6 decreeing:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City is
AFFIRMED WITH modification. Judgement is hereby rendered: ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

a. Declaring the Deed of Sale, dated October 22, 1986, void or inexistent;

b. Cancelling TCT No. RT-45272 (364880) and declaring it to be of no


further legal force and effect;

c. Ordering the appellants-defendants to reconvey the subject property to the


plaintitTs-appellees and to deliver to them the possession thereof; and
d. Ordering the plaintiffs-appellees to pay to the defendants the unpaid
balance of their indebtedness, P43,492.15 as of June 28, 1990, plus
interests at the legal rate of 12% per annum from said date and until the
full payment thereof, without prejudice to the right of the defendants to
foreclose the mortgage in the event that plaintiffs-appellees will fail to pay
their obligation.

SO ORDERED.7 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The CA pronounced the deed of sale as void but not because of the supposed lack of
consideration as the RTC had indicated, but because of the deed of sale having been executed at
the same time as the real estate mortgage, which rendered the sale as a prohibited pactum
commissorium in light of the fact that the deed of sale was blank as to the consideration and the
date, which details would be filled out upon the default by the respondents; that the promissory
notes contained no stipulation on the payment of interest on the obligation, for which reason no
monetary interest could be imposed for the use of money; and that compensatory interest should
instead be imposed as a form of damages arising from Linda's failure to pay the outstanding
obligation.chanRobles virtualLawlibrary

Issues

In this appeal, the petitioners posit the following issues, namely: (1) whether or not the CA erred
in ruling against the validity of the deed of sale; and (2) whether or not the CA erred in ruling
that no monetary interest was due for Linda's use of Adelaida's money. chan Roblesv irtualLawlibrary

Ruling of the Court

The appeal is partly meritorious.

That the petitioners are raising factual issues about the true nature of their transaction with the
respondent is already of itself, sufficient reason to forthwith deny due course to the petition for
review on certiorari. They cannot ignore that any appeal to the Court is limited to questions of
law because the Court is not a trier of facts. As such, the factual findings of the CA should be
respected and accorded great weight, and even finality when supported by the substantial
evidence on record.8 Moreover, in view of the unanimity between the RTC and the CA on the
deed of sale being void, varying only in their justifications, the Court affirms the CA, and adopts
its conclusions on the invalidity of the deed of sale.

Nonetheless, We will take the occasion to explain why we concur with the CA's justification in
discrediting the deed of sale between the parties as pactum commissorium.

Article 2088 of the Civil Code prohibits the creditor from appropriating the things given by way
of pledge or mortgage, or from disposing of them; any stipulation to the contrary is null and
void. The elements for pactum commissorium to exist are as follows, to wit: (a) that there should
be a pledge or mortgage wherein property is pledged or mortgaged by way of security for the
payment of the principal obligation; and (b) that there should be a stipulation for an automatic
appropriation by the creditor of the thing pledged or mortgaged in the event of non-payment of
the principal obligation within the stipulated period.9 The first element was present considering
that the property of the respondents was mortgaged by Linda in favor of Adelaida as security for
the former's indebtedness. As to the second, the authorization for Adelaida to appropriate the
property subject of the mortgage upon Linda's default was implied from Linda's having signed
the blank deed of sale simultaneously with her signing of the real estate mortgage. The haste
with which the transfer of property was made upon the default by Linda on her obligation, and
the eventual transfer of the property in a manner not in the form of a valid dacion en pago
ultimately confirmed the nature of the transaction as a pactum commissorium.

It is notable that in reaching its conclusion that Linda's deed of sale had been executed
simultaneously with the real estate mortgage, the CA first compared the unfilled deed of sale
presented by Linda with the notarized deed of sale adduced by Adelaida. The CA justly deduced
that the completion and execution of the deed of sale had been conditioned on the non-payment
of the debt by Linda, and reasonably pronounced that such circumstances rendered the
transaction pactum commissorium. The Court should not disturb or undo the CA's conclusion in
the absence of the clear showing of abuse, arbitrariness or capriciousness on the part of the
CA.10 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The petitioners have theorized that their transaction with the respondents was a valid dacion en
pago by highlighting that it was Linda who had offered to sell her property upon her default.
Their theory cannot stand scrutiny. Dacion en pago is in the nature of a sale because property is
alienated in favor of the creditor in satisfaction of a debt in money.11 For a valid dacion en pago
to transpire, however, the attendance of the following elements must be established, namely: (a)
the existence of a money obligation; (b) the alienation to the creditor of a property by the debtor
with the consent of the former; and (c) the satisfaction of the money obligation of the debtor.12
To have a valid dacion en pago, therefore, the alienation of the property must fully extinguish
the debt. Yet, the debt of the respondents subsisted despite the transfer of the property in favor of
Adelaida.

The petitioners insist that the parties agreed that the deed of sale would not yet contain the date
and the consideration because they had still to agree on the price.13 Their insistence is not
supported by the established circumstances. It appears that two days after the loan fell due on
October 15, 1986,14 Linda offered to sell the mortgaged property;15 hence, the parties made the
ocular inspection of the premises on October 18, 1986. By that time, Adelaida had already
become aware that the appraiser had valued the property at P70,000.00. If that was so, there was
no plausible reason for still leaving the consideration on the deed of sale blank if the deed was
drafted by Adelaida on October 20, 1986, especially considering that they could have
conveniently communicated with each other in the meanwhile on this significant aspect of their
transaction. It was also improbable for Adelaida to still hand the unfilled deed of sale to Linda as
her copy if, after all, the deed of sale would be eventually notarized on October 22, 1986.

According to Article 1318 of the Civil Code, the requisites for any contract to be valid are,
namely: (a) the consent of the contracting parties; (b) the object; and (c) the consideration. There
is a perfection of a contract when there is a meeting of the minds of the parties on each of these
requisites.16 The following passage has fittingly discussed the process of perfection in Moreno,
Jr. v. Private Management Office:17 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

To reach that moment of perfection, the parties must agree on the same thing in the same sense,
so that their minds meet as to all the terms. They must have a distinct intention common to both
and without doubt or difference; until all understand alike, there can be no assent, and therefore
no contract. The minds of parties must meet at every point; nothing can be left open for further
arrangement. So long as there is any uncertainty or indefiniteness, or future negotiations or
considerations to be had between the parties, there is not a completed contract, and in fact, there
is no contract at all.18
chanrobleslaw

In a sale, the contract is perfected at the moment when the seller obligates herself to deliver and
to transfer ownership of a thing or right to the buyer for a price certain, as to which the latter
agrees.19 The absence of the consideration from Linda's copy of the deed of sale was credible
proof of the lack of an essential requisite for the sale. In other words, the meeting of the minds of
the parties so vital in the perfection of the contract of sale did not transpire. And, even assuming
that Linda's leaving the consideration blank implied the authority of Adelaida to fill in that
essential detail in the deed of sale upon Linda's default on the loan, the conclusion of the CA that
the deed of sale was a pactum commisorium still holds, for, as earlier mentioned, all the elements
of pactum commisorium were present.

Anent interest, the CA deleted the imposition of monetary interest but decreed compensatory
interest of 12% per annum.

Interest that is the compensation fixed by the parties for the use or forbearance of money is
referred to as monetary interest. On the other hand, interest that may be imposed by law or by the
courts as penalty or indemnity for damages is called compensatory interest. In other words, the
right to recover interest arises only either by virtue of a contract or as damages for delay or
failure to pay the principal loan on which the interest is demanded.20 chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The CA correctly deleted the monetary interest from the judgment. Pursuant to Article 1956 of
the Civil Code, no interest shall be due unless it has been expressly stipulated in writing. In order
for monetary interest to be imposed, therefore, two requirements must be present, specifically:
(a) that there has been an express stipulation for the payment of interest; and (b) that the
agreement for the payment of interest has been reduced in writing.21 Considering that the
promissory notes contained no stipulation on the payment of monetary interest, monetary interest
cannot be validly imposed.

The CA properly imposed compensatory interest to offset the delay in the respondents'
performance of their obligation. Nonetheless, the imposition of the legal rate of interest should
be modified to conform to the prevailing jurisprudence. The rate of 12% per annum imposed by
the CA was the rate set in accordance with Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc., v. Court of Appeals.22 In
the meanwhile, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board Resolution No. 796 dated May 16,
2013, amending Section 2 of Circular No. 905, Series of 1982, and Circular No. 799, Series of
2013, has lowered to 6% per annum the legal rate of interest for a loan or forbearance of money,
goods or credit starting July 1, 2013. This revision is expressly recognized in Nacar v. Gallery
Frames.23 It should be noted, however, that imposition of the legal rate of interest at 6% per
annum is prospective in application.

Accordingly, the legal rate of interest on the outstanding obligation of P43,492.15 as of June 28,
1990, as the CA found, should be as follows: (a) from the time of demand on October 13, 1994
until June 30, 2013, the legal rate of interest was 12% per annum conformably with Eastern
Shipping Lines; and (b) following Nacar, from July 1, 2013 until full payment, the legal interest
is 6% per annum.

WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated on October 20, 2003 subject to
the MODIFICATION that the amount of P43,492.15 due from the respondents shall earn legal
interest of 12% per annum reckoned from October 13, 1994 until June 30, 2013, and 6% per
annum from July 1, 2013 until full payment.

Without pronouncement on costs of suit.

SO ORDERED. cralawlawlibrary
Republic Act No. 7438 April 27, 1992

AN ACT DEFINING CERTAIN RIGHTS OF PERSON ARRESTED, DETAINED OR


UNDER CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION AS WELL AS THE DUTIES OF THE
ARRESTING, DETAINING AND INVESTIGATING OFFICERS, AND PROVIDING
PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS THEREOF

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress


assembled::

Section 1. Statement of Policy. – It is the policy of the Senate to value the dignity of every
human being and guarantee full respect for human rights.

Section 2. Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or Under Custodial Investigation; Duties of


Public Officers. –

(a) Any person arrested detained or under custodial investigation shall at all times be assisted by
counsel.

(b) Any public officer or employee, or anyone acting under his order or his place, who arrests,
detains or investigates any person for the commission of an offense shall inform the latter, in a
language known to and understood by him, of his rights to remain silent and to have competent
and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice, who shall at all times be allowed to
confer privately with the person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation. If such
person cannot afford the services of his own counsel, he must be provided with a competent and
independent counsel by the investigating officer.lawphi1Ÿ

(c) The custodial investigation report shall be reduced to writing by the investigating officer,
provided that before such report is signed, or thumbmarked if the person arrested or detained
does not know how to read and write, it shall be read and adequately explained to him by his
counsel or by the assisting counsel provided by the investigating officer in the language or
dialect known to such arrested or detained person, otherwise, such investigation report shall be
null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

(d) Any extrajudicial confession made by a person arrested, detained or under custodial
investigation shall be in writing and signed by such person in the presence of his counsel or in
the latter's absence, upon a valid waiver, and in the presence of any of the parents, elder brothers
and sisters, his spouse, the municipal mayor, the municipal judge, district school supervisor, or
priest or minister of the gospel as chosen by him; otherwise, such extrajudicial confession shall
be inadmissible as evidence in any proceeding.

(e) Any waiver by a person arrested or detained under the provisions of Article 125 of the
Revised Penal Code, or under custodial investigation, shall be in writing and signed by such
person in the presence of his counsel; otherwise the waiver shall be null and void and of no
effect.
(f) Any person arrested or detained or under custodial investigation shall be allowed visits by or
conferences with any member of his immediate family, or any medical doctor or priest or
religious minister chosen by him or by any member of his immediate family or by his counsel, or
by any national non-governmental organization duly accredited by the Commission on Human
Rights of by any international non-governmental organization duly accredited by the Office of
the President. The person's "immediate family" shall include his or her spouse, fiancé or fiancée,
parent or child, brother or sister, grandparent or grandchild, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, and
guardian or ward.

As used in this Act, "custodial investigation" shall include the practice of issuing an "invitation"
to a person who is investigated in connection with an offense he is suspected to have committed,
without prejudice to the liability of the "inviting" officer for any violation of law.

Section 3. Assisting Counsel. – Assisting counsel is any lawyer, except those directly affected by
the case, those charged with conducting preliminary investigation or those charged with the
prosecution of crimes.

The assisting counsel other than the government lawyers shall be entitled to the following fees;

(a) The amount of One hundred fifty pesos (P150.00) if the suspected person is chargeable with
light felonies;lawphi1©alf

(b) The amount of Two hundred fifty pesos (P250.00) if the suspected person is chargeable with
less grave or grave felonies;

(c) The amount of Three hundred fifty pesos (P350.00) if the suspected person is chargeable with
a capital offense.

The fee for the assisting counsel shall be paid by the city or municipality where the custodial
investigation is conducted, provided that if the municipality of city cannot pay such fee, the
province comprising such municipality or city shall pay the fee: Provided, That the Municipal or
City Treasurer must certify that no funds are available to pay the fees of assisting counsel before
the province pays said fees.

In the absence of any lawyer, no custodial investigation shall be conducted and the suspected
person can only be detained by the investigating officer in accordance with the provisions of
Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.

Section 4. Penalty Clause. – (a) Any arresting public officer or employee, or any investigating
officer, who fails to inform any person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation of his
right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own
choice, shall suffer a fine of Six thousand pesos (P6,000.00) or a penalty of imprisonment of not
less than eight (8) years but not more than ten (10) years, or both. The penalty of perpetual
absolute disqualification shall also be imposed upon the investigating officer who has been
previously convicted of a similar offense.
The same penalties shall be imposed upon a public officer or employee, or anyone acting upon
orders of such investigating officer or in his place, who fails to provide a competent and
independent counsel to a person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation for the
commission of an offense if the latter cannot afford the services of his own counsel.

(b) Any person who obstructs, prevents or prohibits any lawyer, any member of the immediate
family of a person arrested, detained or under custodial investigation, or any medical doctor or
priest or religious minister chosen by him or by any member of his immediate family or by his
counsel, from visiting and conferring privately with him, or from examining and treating him, or
from ministering to his spiritual needs, at any hour of the day or, in urgent cases, of the night
shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of not less than four (4) years nor more than six (6)
years, and a fine of four thousand pesos (P4,000.00).lawphi1©

The provisions of the above Section notwithstanding, any security officer with custodial
responsibility over any detainee or prisoner may undertake such reasonable measures as may be
necessary to secure his safety and prevent his escape.

Section 5. Repealing Clause. – Republic Act No. No. 857, as amended, is hereby repealed. Other
laws, presidential decrees, executive orders or rules and regulations, or parts thereof inconsistent
with the provisions of this Act are repealed or modified accordingly.

Section 6. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days following its publication in
the Official Gazette or in any daily newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.

Approved: April 27, 1992.


G.R. No. 199894

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
CARLITO CLARO y MAHINAY, Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

In every criminal case where the accused enjoys the presumption of innocence, he is entitled to
acquittal unless his guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt.

The Case

The accused seeks to undo the decision promulgated on March 24, 2011 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 03702,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the judgment rendered on November
17, 2008 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 21, in Manila convicting him of rape. 2

Antecedents

The accused was charged with rape under the following information, to wit:

That on or about March 14, 2006, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with lewd designs and by means of force,
violence and intimidation, and fraudulent machination, have carnal knowledge with said AAA, 3
by then and there texting the latter to see each other at the corner of Augusto Francisco Street,
inviting her for a stroll at Rizal A venue, ordering food from Jollibee, bringing her at Aroma
Motel under the pretext that they will just talk and eat their food thereat, entering a room at said
motel and locking the door, pulling her on the bed and kissing her,underssing (sic) her and
thereafter inserting his penis into her vagina then succeeded in having carnal knowledge of her,
against her will and consent.

Contrary to law.4

Evidence of the Prosecution

At around 9:00 o'clock in the morning of March 14, 2006, AAA, a housemaid, received a text
message from the accused asking if they could meet. He was then working as a security guard
near AAA's place of work. AAA accepted his invitation and met with him on Augusto San
Francisco Street, Sta. Ana, Manila, where they boarded a passenger jeepney bound for Rizal A
venue in Sta. Cruz, Manila. Arriving in Sta. Cruz, they entered a Jollibee restaurant on Rizal
Avenue and ordered food. They later on went to a nearby house, later identified as the Aroma
Motel. She refused to go up the stairs of the motel, which impelled him to hold her by the hand
and pull her upstairs, insisting that they would only talk and eat. He then talked to a male
attendant who ushered them into a room.
Upon entering the room, AAA tried to leave, but the accused closed the door and pushed her
towards the bed. She still attempted to leave but the door was locked. He pulled her back to the
bed, telling her that he loved her. Instead of responding to him, she said that she needed to go to
the toilet. Once inside the toilet, she called her cousin, Alberto German (German), a police
officer, but she was unable to give him her exact location after her phone ran out of charge. It
was then when the accused barged inside the toilet and again pulled her back to the bed. He
forcefully undressed her completely, went on top of her, and forcibly inserted his penis inside her
vagina. She kept on punching to try to stop him, but to no avail. After he was done, she
immediately put on her clothes and left the room. But she was compelled to ride with him in the
same passenger jeepney because she did not know her way back.

Upon arriving home, she promptly reported the incident to German, who instructed her to contact
the accused and agree to meet with him again so that they could apprehend him. She did as
instructed. Just as they agreed, the accused went to the meeting place, where German quickly
approached him and introduced himself as a police officer. The accused tried to run away, but
German seized him and brought him to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for
investigation.

Dr. Wilfredo E. Tierra, the NBI medico-legal officer, conducted the medico-genital examination
of AAA. He found the presence of fresh deep hymenal laceration at 5 o'clock position with edges
bleeding; abrasion measuring 1.3 cm. on the left breast; and contusion measuring 1.5 cm. on the
right hand of AAA. 5

Evidence of the Defense

The accused denied the accusation.

The accused claimed that he and AAA had first met on January 6, 2006, and became friends; that
their friendship had blossomed into romance, with them becoming lovers after two months; that
they had gone out once on a date on March 6, 2006, and had agreed to go out on a date again on
March 14, 2006; that on the latter date, they had met at Augusto San Francisco Street, Sta. Ana
Manila, and had proceeded on board a passenger jeepney to the Jollibee restaurant on Rizal
Avenue; that at the Jollibee restaurant, he ordered food and asked her whether they would push
through with their plan to go to a motel; that after she assented, they walked together to the
motel, where a room boy led them to their designated room, which had a doorknob that could be
locked from the inside; that once they entered the room, she went to the restroom and later came
out wearing only a towel; that she told him that she loved him, and they started kissing each
other; that she took off the towel, while he undressed; that she did not resist when he went on top
of her and inserted his penis in her vagina, but he stopped when she told him that she was not yet
ready; that they then got dressed, left the motel together, and boarded a passenger jeepney; that
after parting ways, she called him through his cellphone and asked if they could see· each other
again; and that once he arrived at the meeting place, a police officer later identified as German
arrested and handcuffed him.

Also testifying for the Defense was the mother of the accused. She asserted that AAA was
already her son's girlfriend prior to the incident; that when she went to the police headquarters
upon learning of her son's arrest, she saw AAA but the latter asked her to talk to German instead;
that German told her: Wala nang madami pang usapan, basta mangako ka sa akin na
magbibigay ka ng ₱200, 000. 00; and that she asked AAA about what had really happened, but
the latter refused to answer her query.6

Ruling of the RTC

As stated, the RTC found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape, decreeing:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court finds accused CARLITO CLARO Y MAHIN
A Y GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and is hereby sentenced to suffer
the penalty of

reclusion perpetua and ordered to pay the victim, AAA the total amount of ₱50,000.00 as civil
indemnity, and ₱50,000.00 as moral damages. With costs. It appearing that accused is detained,
the period of his detention shall be credited in the service of his sentence.

SO ORDERED.7

Decision of the CA

On appeal, the CA affirmed the conviction, disposing:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant APPEAL is DENIED. Accordingly, the
Decision dated November 17, 2008 rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, in Criminal
Case No. 06-242729 convicting accused-appellant of the crime of rape is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.8

The CA regarded AAA's testimony as credible; and ruled that the presence of bruises and
abrasions on the body of AAA proved that she had been subjected to bodily harm before he
accomplished his lustful desires. It observed that the fact that the parties had gone home together
after the incident was sufficiently explained by AAA's statement that she had no choice but to go
with him because she did not know her way back.

Issue

Did the R TC and the CA correctly find and pronounce the accused guilty of rape beyond
reasonable doubt?

Ruling of the Court

The Court acquits the accused on the ground of reasonable doubt.


It is noticeable that the versions of AAA and the accused ultimately contradicted each other on
whether rape or consensual sex had transpired between them. Their contradictions
notwithstanding, the circumstances - whether based on her recollection or on his - indicated that
she had willingly met with him on March 14, 2006 in order to go on a lovers' date. Their meeting
on Augusto San Francisco Street in Sta. Ana, Manila, and their going together by jeepney to
Rizal Avenue, where they entered the Jollibee restaurant to share the meal were undoubtedly by
their prior agreement. It was while they were in the restaurant when they discussed checking in
at the Aroma Motel, but once she assented to their checking in the Aroma motel, they walked
together towards the motel, and entered together.

The sweetheart defense is not usually regarded with favor in the absence of strong corroboration.
9 This is because the mere fact that the accused and the victim were lovers should not exculpate
him from criminal liability for rape. In People v. Orquina, 10 the Court observed that an
allegation of a "love relationship" between the parties, even if found to be true, did not eliminate
the use of force to consummate the crime because the gravamen of rape is the carnal knowledge
of a woman against her will and without her consent. As declared in People v. Gecomo: 11

It should be borne in mind that love is not a license for carnal intercourse through force or
intimidation. Even granting that appellant and complainant were really sweethearts, that fact
alone would not negate the commission of rape. A sweetheart cannot be forced to have sex
against her will. From a mere fiancee, definitely a man cannot demand sexual submission and,
worse, employ violence upon her on a mere justification of love. A man can even be convicted
for the rape of his common-law wife.

It is a time-honored tenet that the appreciation and assessment by the trial judge of the credibility
of witnesses are accorded respect primarily because the trial judge personally observed the
conduct and demeanor of the witnesses as to enable him or her to determine whether they were
telling the truth or merely fabricating it. 12 Another tenet of long standing is that the factual
findings of the CA affirming those of the trial judge are generally binding upon the Court, which
is not a trier of facts. 13 Based on these tenets, it would be easy to simply affirm the conviction
of the accused herein especially considering that both the RTC and the CA regarded AAA as a
credible witness whose testimony was worthy of belief.

Yet, it is not fair and just to quickly reject the defense of consensual sexual intercourse
interposed by the accused. To be noted first and foremost is that he and AAA were adults
capable of consenting to the sexual intercourse. The established circumstances - their having
agreed to go on a lovers' date; their travelling together a long way from their meeting place on
board the jeepney; their alighting on Rizal Avenue to take a meal together; their walking together
to the motel, and checking in together at the motel without the complainant manifesting
resistance; and their entering the designated room without protest from her - indicated beyond all
doubt that they had consented to culminate their lovers' date in bed inside the motel.

Although she claimed that he had held her by the hand and pulled her upstairs, there is no
evidence showing that she resisted in that whole time, or exhibited a reluctance to enter the motel
with him. Instead, she appeared to have walked with him towards the motel, and to have entered
it without hesitation. What she did not do was eloquent proof of her consent.
Noting the medico-legal findings of bruises and abrasions on AAA, the CA concluded that she
had been subjected to some "bodily harm" by the accused to force himself on her, to wit:

x x x In the case before Us, We are convinced that the element of force was present. This is
shown by the fact that the accused-appellant held private complainant's hands to the point of
dragging her up the stairs of the motel, and by the fact that he pushed private complainant to the
bed when the latter tried to escape. Moreover, as We have mentioned above, the presence of
bruises and abrasions on private complainant's body evince the fact that latter was subjected to
bodily harm before accused-appellant succeeded in having carnal knowledge with her. 14

That the medico-legal examination of March 14, 2006 turned up with the findings of abrasions
on AAA's left breast and contusions on her right hand did not necessarily mean that the accused
had applied force in the context of forcing her to have sex with him. The conclusion of the CA
was, therefore, too sweeping, for it inexplicably ignored the probability of consensuality between
the parties. Such findings did not justify the full rejection of the demonstrable consensuality of
their sexual intercourse. Moreover, the mere presence of abrasions and contusions on her did not
preclude the giving of her consent to the sexual intercourse, for abrasions and contusions could
also be suffered during voluntary submission of the partners to each other's lust. Such possibility
calls for us to open our minds to the conclusion that the sexual intercourse resulted from
consensuality between them.

In every criminal case, the accused is entitled to acquittal unless his guilt is shown beyond
reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of proof as,
excluding possibility of error, produces absolute certainty. Only moral certainty is required, or
that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. 15

In the face of all the foregoing, we have reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused for rape.
Reasonable doubt –

x x x is not mere possible doubt; because everything relating to human affairs, and depending on
moral evidence, is open to some possible or imaginary doubt. It is that state of the case which,
after the entire comparison and consideration of all the evidence, leaves the minds of jurors
in such a condition that they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction, to a moral
certainty, of the truth of the charge. The burden of proof is upon the prosecutor. All the
presumptions of law independent of evidence are in favor of innocence; and every person is
presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty. If upon such proof there is reasonable
doubt remaining, the accused is entitled to the benefit of it by an acquittal. For it is not
sufficient to establish a probability, though a strong one arising from the doctrine of
chances, that the fact charged is more likely to be true than the contrary; but the evidence
must establish the truth of the fact to a reasonable and moral certainty; a certainty that
convinces and directs the understanding and satisfies the reason and judgment of those
who are bound to act conscientiously upon it. This we take to be proof beyond reasonable
doubt; because if the law, which mostly depends upon considerations of a moral nature,
should go further than this, and require absolute certainty, it would exclude circumstantial
evidence altogether. 16
The requirement of establishing the guilt of the accused in every criminal proceeding beyond
reasonable doubt has a long history that even pre-dates our Constitutions. As summed up by
jurisprudence of American origin:

The requirement that guilt of a criminal charge be established by proof beyond a


reasonable doubt dates at least from our early years as a Nation. The 'demand for a higher
degree of persuasion in criminal cases was recurrently expressed from ancient times,
(though) its crystallization into the formula 'beyond a reasonable doubt' seems to have
occurred as late as 1798. It is now accepted in common law jurisdictions as the measure of
persuasion by which the prosecution must convince the trier of all the essential elements of
guilt.' C. McCormick, Evidence 321, pp. 681-682 (1954); see also 9 J. Wigmore, Evidence, 2497
(3d ed.1940). Although virtually unanimous adherence to the reasonable-doubt standard in
common-law jurisdictions may not conclusively establish it as a requirement of due process,
such adherence does 'reflect a profound judgment about the way in which law should be enforced
and justice administered.' Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 155' 1451 (1968).

Expressions in many opinions of this Court indicate that it has long been assumed that
proof of a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt is constitutionally required. See, for
example, Miles v. United States, 103 U.S. 304, 312 (1881); Davis v. United States, 160 U.S. 469,
488 , 358 (1895); Holt v. United States, 218 U.S. 245, 253, (1910); Wilson v. United States, 232
U.S. 563, 569 -570, 349, 350 (1914); Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160, 174, 1310 (1949);
Leland v. Oregon, 343 U.S. 790, 795, 1005, 1006 (1952); Holland v. United States, 348 U.S.
121, 138, 136, 137 (1954); Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525-526, 1342 (1958). Cf. Coffin v.
United States, 156 U.S. 432 (1895). Mr. Justice Frankfurter stated that '(i)t the duty of the
Government to establish ... guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This notion-basic in our law
and rightly one of the boasts of a free society-is a requirement and a safeguard of due
process of law in the historic, procedural content of 'due process." Leland v. Oregon, supra,
343 U.S., at 802 -803 (dissenting opinion). In a similar vein, the Court said in Brinegar v. United
States, supra, 338 U.S., at 174 , that '(g)uilt in a criminal case must be proved beyond a
reasonable doubt and by evidence confined to that which long experience in the common-
law tradition, to some extent embodied in the Constitution, has crystallized into rules of
evidence consistent with that standard. These rules are historically grounded rights of our
system, developed to safeguard men from dubious and unjust convictions, with resulting
forfeitures of life, liberty and property.' Davis v. United States, supra, 160 U.S., at 488 stated
that the requirement is implicit in 'constitutions ... (which) recognize the fundamental principles
that are deemed essential for the protection of life and liberty.' In Davis a murder conviction was
reversed because the trial judge instructed the jury that it was their duty to convict when the
evidence was equally balanced regarding the sanity of the accused. This Court said: 'On the
contrary, he is entitled to an acquittal of the specific crime charged, if upon all the evidence,
there is reasonable doubt whether he was capable in law of committing crime .... No man should
be deprived of his life under the forms of law unless the jurors who try him are able, upon their
consciences, to say that the evidence before them .. .is sufficient to show beyond a reasonable
doubt the existence of every fact necessary to constitute the crime charged.' Id., at 484, 493, 360.

The reasonable-doubt standard plays a vital role in the American scheme of criminal
procedure. It is a prime instrument for reducing the risk of convictions resting on factual
error. The standard provides concrete substance for the presumption of innocence-that
bedrock 'axiomatic and elementary' principle whose 'enforcement lies at the foundation of
the administration of our criminal law.' Coffin v. United States, supra, 156 U.S., at 453. As
the dissenters in the New York Court of Appeals observed, and we agree, 'a person accused of a
crime ... would be at a severe disadvantage, a disadvantage amounting to a lack of fundamental
fairness, if he could be adjudged guilty and imprisoned for years on the strength of the same
evidence as would suffice in a civil case.' 24 N.Y.2d, at 205, 299 N.Y.S.2d, at 422, 247 N.E.2d,
at 259.

The requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has this vital role in our criminal
procedure for cogent reasons. The accused during a criminal prosecution has at stake
interest of immense importance, both because of the possibility that he may lose his liberty
upon conviction and because of the certainty that he would be stigmatized by the
conviction. Accordingly, a society that values the good name and freedom of every
individual should not condemn a man for commission of a crime when there is reasonable
doubt about his guilt. As we said in Speiser v. Randall, supra, 357 U.S., at 525 -526: 'There is
always in litigation a margin of error, representing error in factfinding, which both parties must
take into account. Where one party has at stake an interest of transcending value-as a criminal
defendant his liberty-this margin of error is reduced as to him by the process of placing on the
other party the burden of . . . persuading the factfinder at the conclusion of the trial of his guilt
beyond a reasonable doubt. Due process commands that no man shall lose his liberty unless
the Government has borne the burden of ... convincing the factfinder of his guilt.' To this
end, the reasonable-doubt standard is indispensable, for it 'impresses on the trier of fact
the necessity of reaching a subjective state of certitude of the facts in issue.' Dorsen &
Rezneck, In Re Gault and the Future of Juvenile Law, 1 Family Law Quarterly, No. 4, pp. 1, 26
(1967).

Moreover, use of the reasonable-doubt standard is indispensable to command the respect


and confidence of the community in applications of the criminal law.1avvphi1 It is critical
that the moral force of the criminal law not be diluted by a standard of proof that leaves
people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned. It is also important in our
free society that every individual going about his ordinary affairs have confidence that his
government cannot adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without convincing a proper
factfinder of his guilt with utmost certainty.

Lest there remain any doubt about the constitutional stature of the reasonable-doubt
standard, we explicitly hold that the Due Process Clause protects the accused against
conviction except upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to
constitute the crime with which he is charged. 17

Requiring proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt necessarily means that mere suspicion of the
guilt of the accused, no matter how strong, should not sway judgment against him. It further
means that the courts should duly consider every evidence favoring him, and that in the process
the courts should persistently insist that accusation is not synonymous with guilt; hence, every
circumstance favoring his innocence should be fully taken into account. 18 That is what we must
be do herein, for he is entitled to nothing less.
Without the proof of his guilt being beyond reasonable doubt, therefore, the presumption of
innocence in favor of the accused herein was not overcome. His acquittal should follow, for, as
we have emphatically

reminded in Patula v. People: 19

x x x in all criminal prosecutions, the Prosecution bears the burden to establish the guilt of the
accused beyond reasonable doubt. In discharging this burden, the Prosecution's duty is to prove
each and every element of the crime charged in the information to warrant a finding of guilt for
that crime or for any other crime necessarily included therein. The Prosecution must further
prove the participation of the accused in the commission of the offense. In doing all these,
the Prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence, and not anchor its success
upon the weakness of the evidence of the accused. The burden of proof placed on the
Prosecution arises from the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused that no less
than the Constitution has guaranteed. Conversely, as to his innocence, the accused has no
burden of proof, that he must then be acquitted and set free should the Prosecution not
overcome the presumption of innocence in his favor. In other words, the weakness of the
defense put up by the accused is inconsequential in the proceedings for as long as the
Prosecution has not discharged its burden of proof in establishing the commission of the
crime charged and in identifying the accused as the malefactor responsible for it.20

WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETSASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals
promulgated on March 24, 2011 affirming the conviction for rape of CARLITOCLAROy
MAHINAY under the judgment rendered by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 21, in Manila;
ACQUITS CARLITO CLARO y MAHINAY for failure to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt; ORDERS his immediate release from the National Penitentiary unless there are other
lawful causes warranting his continuing confinement thereat; and DIRECTS the Director of the
Bureau of Corrections to implement the release of CARLITO CLARO y MAHINAY in
accordance with this decision, and to report on his compliance within l 0 days from receipt.

No pronouncement on costs of suit.

SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 219164, March 21, 2018

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. RICHAEL LUNA Y TORSILINO,


Accused-Appellant.

DECISION

CAGUIOA, J.:

"x x x And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you
hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast,
Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really
think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit
of law, for my own safety's sake!"

- Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons1


The Case

Before the Court is an appeal2 under Section 13(c), Rule 124 of the Rules of Court from the
Decision3 dated June 13, 2014 (CA Decision) of the Court of Appeals, Special Tenth (10th)
Division (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 05336. The CA Decision affirmed the Joint Decision4
dated December 8, 2010 rendered by the Regional Trial Court of Marikina City, Branch 168
(RTC), in Criminal Cases Nos. 2008-3529-D-MK and 2008-3530-D-MK,5 which found herein
accused-appellant Richael T. Luna (accused-appellant Luna) guilty ofvio1ation of Sections 5 and
11, Article II of Republic Act No. (RA) 9165,6 otherwise known as the "Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002."

The Facts

The present appeal stems from two (2) Informations7 filed before the RTC, separately charging
accused-appellant Luna with the crimes of illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs, as
defined under Sections 58 and 11,9 Article II of RA 9165, respectively. The accusatory portions
of the Informations read:
Criminal Case No. 2008-3529-D-MK

That on April 14, 2008, in the City of Marikina, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously sell to SPO1 Ramiel Soriano, posing as a buyer, a small plastic sachet containing
0.03 gram of white crystalline substance valued at Php. 300.00 which gave positive result to the
tests for the presence of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, in violation of the
above cited law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.10
Criminal Case No. 2008-3530-D-MK

That on or about the 14th day of April 2008, in the City of Marikina, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law
to possess or otherwise use any dangerous drugs, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have in her (sic) possession, direct custody and control one (1) plastic sachets (sic)
containing 0.01 gram of white crystalline substance which gave positive result to the tests for
Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous drug, in violation of the above-cited law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.11
When arraigned on September 17, 2008, accused-appellant Luna entered a plea of "not guilty"
for both offenses charged.12 Pre-trial was then held and terminated on October 8, 2008.13 Trial
thereafter ensued.

The prosecution presented three (3) witnesses, namely: (i) Senior Police Officer 1 (SPO1)
Ramiel Soriano (SPO1 Soriano), (ii) SPO1 Jose Castelo (SPO1 Castelo), and (iii) Police Chief
Inspector (PCI) Lourdeliza Cejes (PCI Cejes). The defense, on the other hand, presented two (2)
witnesses: (i) accused-appellant Luna himself, and (ii) Bemardita Banico (Banico), the mother of
accused-appellant Luna's common-law spouse.

As gathered from the records, the pertinent facts follow.

The prosecution alleged that on April 14, 2008, a buy-bust operation was organized by the
Marikina City Police Station based on a tip from a confidential informant (CI), implicating
accused-appellant Luna for suspected drug-related activities.14 A team was then formed to
conduct the said operation and SPO1 Soriano was designated as the poseur-buyer.15 SPO1
Soriano was given three (3) pieces of One Hundred Peso (P100.00) bills16 that were marked with
his initials, "RS."17 The team was headed by SPO1 Castelo.18

After coordinating with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the buy-bust team,
together with the CI, proceeded to accused-appellant Luna's residence at Barangay Tumana,
Marikina.19 Upon arrival thereat, SPO1 Soriano and the CI walked toward the direction of
accused-appellant Luna's house and saw a man standing outside, who was then identified by the
CI to be accused-appellant Luna.20 Accused-appellant Luna then approached both of them and
told the CI, "pare, score na kayo, mayroon pa ako dito."21 At that point, the CI introduced SPO1
Soriano to accused-appellant Luna as an interested buyer.22 When asked how much worth of
shabu he would like to buy, SPO1 Soriano answered "tres lang brod," while handing accused-
appellant Luna the three (3) marked bills.23 In turn, accused-appellant Luna retrieved from his
front pocket two (2) sealed plastic sachets containing suspected shabu, but handed only one (1)
piece to SPO1 Soriano.24 Accused-appellant Luna then returned the other sachet in his pocket.25

After the exchange, SPO1 Soriano checked the contents of the sachet using a flashlight, which
was then the pre-arranged signal to the buy-bust team.26 Immediately after, the other members of
the buy-bust team approached accused-appellant Luna and arrested him after introducing
themselves as police officers.27 SPO1 Soriano then retrieved the marked bills from accused-
appellant Luna and also confiscated the other sachet that the latter placed in his front pocket.28
Thereafter, SPO1 Soriano marked the two (2) sachets and accomplished an Inventory of
Confiscated Evidence29 in the presence of accused-appellant Luna at the place of his arrest.30 The
Inventory of Confiscated Evidence was subsequently signed by Barangay Kagawad Oscar Frank
Rabe at the Barangay Hall, while a certain Danny Placides, a representative from the media,
signed the same at the police station.31 Likewise, at the police station, accused-appellant Luna
was photographed holding the plastic sachets supposedly recovered from his person.32

On the same day, SPO1 Soriano requested for a laboratory examination of the items seized from
accused-appellant Luna with the Crime Laboratory of the Eastern Police District.33 The request
was personally received by PCI Cejes, who then conducted a qualitative examination of the
contents of the plastic sachets.34 The contents later tested positive for methamphetamine
hydrochloride or shabu, a dangerous drug.35

For his defense, accused-appellant Luna denied all charges against him. He claimed that in the
afternoon of April 14, 2008, while he was at his home watching television with his two (2) sons,
aged four (4) and three (3) years old, respectively, two (2) men in civilian clothes suddenly
barged into his house and introduced themselves as police officers.36 One of them asked if he
was "Bunso," to which he answered in the affirmative.37 Meanwhile, the other police officer went
inside his room and stayed there for about ten (10) minutes.38 Later, three (3) more men entered
his home who then brought him out of the house.39 Accused-appellant Luna was then made to
board a car and was brought to the police headquarters.40

Upon their arrival, one of the police officers, whom accused-appellant Luna identified as SPO1
Soriano, placed three (3) One Hundred Peso (P100.00) bills in front of accused-appellant Luna
together with two (2) plastic sachets.41 He was then ordered to hold the plastic sachets and was
photographed by the police officers while doing so.42

Banico, on the other hand, testified that in the afternoon of April 14, 2008, she was resting
outside her house at Pipino Street, Barangay Tumana, the same street where the house of
accused-appellant Luna was located.43 From her house, she then saw a person on board a
motorcycle passing by the residence of accused-appellant Luna, which was tailed by a car
boarded by several men.44 The rider of the motorcycle then asked her where was the residence of
a certain "Bunso."45 Thereafter, the men in the car entered the house of accused-appellant Luna
and began searching around the place.46 Banico also entered the house when she heard the
children crying.47 Upon entering, she was asked by one of the men, "Mrs, nasaan ang basura?,"
but she did not understand what they were referring to.48 After about half an hour, when the men
were not able to find anything, they went out of the house together with accused-appellant Luna,
who was then made to board their car.49 Banico later learned that accused-appellant Luna was
brought to the office of the Station Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operation Task Force.50

Ruling of the RTC

In the Joint Decision dated December 8, 2010, the RTC found accused-appellant Luna guilty of
both offenses charged, as follows:
WHEREFORE, finding the accused RICHAEL LUNA y TORSILINO @ BUNSO guilty beyond
reasonable doubt, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the following: (1) In Criminal Case No.
2008-3529-D to suffer the penalty of LIFE IMPRISONMENT and to pay a fine of Five
Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) and, (2) In Criminal Case No. 2008-3530-D accused
is hereby sentenced to suffer x x x an indeterminate prison term ranging from twelve (12) years,
as minimum, to seventeen (17) years as maximum and to pay a fine of P300,000.00[.]

Accused is credited in full of the preventive imprisonment he has already served in confinement.

The dangerous drug submitted as evidence in this case is hereby ordered to be transmitted to the
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.51
The RTC found that the prosecution was able to establish the elements necessary for the separate
crimes of illegal sale and possession of dangerous drugs.52 It was held that accused-appellant
Luna's defense of denial could not prevail over the positive allegations of the police officers,
who were presumed to be in the regular performance of their official duties.53 Further, while
there was an admitted non-compliance by the officers with the procedure under Section 21 of RA
9165, i.e., the presence of the required witnesses after seizure, the RTC nevertheless held that the
integrity and evidentiary value of the items seized were preserved.54 Accused-appellant Luna
filed a Motion for Reconsideration55 dated December 17, 2010, which was denied by the RTC in
an Order56 dated May 10, 2011.

Aggrieved, accused-appellant Luna elevated his case to the CA via Notice of Appeal.57

Ruling of the CA

In the CA Decision, the CA agreed with the RTC's finding that the integrity and evidentiary
value of the corpus delicti were properly preserved by the police officers.58 The CA explained
that the prosecution's evidence was able to establish an uninterrupted chain of custody from the
time the drugs were allegedly seized from accused-appellant Luna until the time it was offered in
evidence during trial.59 The dispositive portion of the CA Decision stated, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the APPEAL is hereby DENIED. Accordingly, the Joint
Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 168, Marikina on December 8, 2010, which
pronounced accused-appellant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Sections 5 and 11,
Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.60
Hence, this appeal.

In the main, accused-appellant Luna anchors his defense on the failure of the police officers to
comply with the procedure under Section 21 of RA 9165, which he argues is mandatory.61 He
argues, among other things, that the government official (Kagawad Oscar Frank Rabe) and
media representative (Danny Placides) - both of whom are required witnesses under the law -
were not present immediately after seizure and confiscation of the dangerous drugs.62

Issue
The principal issue for resolution is whether accused-appellant Luna is guilty beyond reasonable
doubt for the crime of violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II of RA 9165.

The Court's Ruling

The appeal is granted.

The merits of the case are straightforward. In this regard, before disposing of the substantive
issues, the Court finds it proper to first review the current literature on Section 21 of RA 9165.

Section 21, Article II of RA 9165, reexamined.

The legality of entrapment operations involving illegal drugs begins and ends with Section 21,63
Article II of RA 9165. Under the law, the following procedure must be observed in the seizure,
custody, and disposition of dangerous drugs and related paraphernalia:
SEC. 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or Surrendered Dangerous Drugs,
Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs, Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals,
Instruments/ Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. - The PDEA shall take charge and
have custody of all dangerous drugs, plant sources of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or laboratory equipment so
confiscated, seized and/or surrendered, for proper disposition in the following manner:

(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall, immediately
after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the same in the
presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or seized,
or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the media and the Department of
Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
inventory and be given a copy thereof[.] (Emphasis supplied; italics in the original)
Meanwhile, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9165 (IRR) supplied details as to the
place where the physical inventory and photographing of the seized items should be done, i.e., at
the place of seizure, at the nearest police station, or at the nearest office of the apprehending
officer or team. Further, a "saving clause" was added in case of non-compliance with the
requirements under justifiable grounds. Section 21(a), Article II of the IRR, thus states:
SECTION 21. x x x

(a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs shall,
immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and photograph the
same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom such items were
confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from the
media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official who shall be
required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof: Provided, that
the physical inventory and photograph shall be conducted at the place where the search
warrant is served; or at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the
apprehending officer/team, whichever is practicable, in case of warrantless
seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance with these requirements under
justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized
items are properly preserved by the apprehending officer/team, shall not render
void and invalid such seizures of and custody over said items[.]
In sum, the law puts in place requirements of time, witnesses and proof of inventory with respect
to the custody of seized dangerous drugs, to wit:

1. The initial custody requirements must be done immediately after seizure or


confiscation;

2. The physical inventory and photographing must be done in the presence of:
a. The accused or his representative or counsel;

b. The required witnesses:


i. a representative from the media and the Department of Justice
(DOJ), and any elected public official for offenses committed
during the effectivity of RA 9165 and prior to its amendment by
RA 10640, as in this case;

ii. an elected public official and a representative of the National


Prosecution Service of the DOJ or the media for offenses
committed during the effectivity of RA 10640.

As a rule, strict compliance with the foregoing requirements is mandatory.64 However, following
the IRR ofRA 9165, the courts may allow a deviation from these requirements if the following
requisites are availing: (1) the existence of "justifiable grounds" allowing departure from the
rule on strict compliance; and (2) the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items
are properly preserved by the apprehending team.65 If these two elements concur, the seizure
and custody over the confiscated items shall not be rendered void and invalid; ergo, the integrity
of the corpus delicti remains untarnished. The Court's disquisition in People v. Reyes66 is
particularly illuminating:
Under the last paragraph of Section 21(a), Article II of the IRR of R.A. No. 9165, a saving
mechanism has been provided to ensure that not every case of noncompliance with the
procedures for the preservation of the chain of custody will irretrievably prejudice the
Prosecution's case against the accused. To warrant the application of this saving mechanism,
however, the Prosecution must recognize the lapse or lapses, and justify or explain them.
Such justification or explanation would be the basis for applying the saving mechanism.
Yet, the Prosecution did not concede such lapses, and did not even tender any token justification
or explanation for them. The failure to justify or explain underscored the doubt and
suspicion about the integrity of the evidence of the corpus delicti. With the chain of custody
having been compromised, the accused deserves acquittal. x x x67 (Emphasis supplied; citations
omitted)
Following a plain reading of the law, it is now settled that noncompliance with the mandatory
procedure in Section 21 triggers the operation of the saving clause enshrined in the IRR of
RA 9165. Verba legis non est recedendum from the words of a statute there should be no
departure. Stated otherwise, in order not to render void and invalid the seizure and custody over
the evidence obtained, the prosecution must, as a matter of law, establish that such non-
compliance was based on justifiable grounds and that the integrity and the evidentiary value of
the seized items were preserved.68 Hence, before the prosecution can rely on this saving
mechanism, they (the apprehending team) must first recognize lapses, and, if any are found to
exist, they must justify the same accordingly.69

Now to this case.

The police officers failed to comply with the mandatory requirements under Section 21 of RA
9165

After a judicious scrutiny of the records of this case, the Court finds that the police officers
reneged on their duty to comply with the requirements on the seizure, initial custody, and
handling of the seized items pursuant to Section 21. Such lapses, to the mind of the Court, cast
serious doubt on the identity and integrity of the corpus delicti and, consequently, reasonable
doubt on the guilt of accused-appellant Luna.

On the three-witness requirement

To recall, the language of the first paragraph of Section 21 is clear: the apprehending team is
duty-bound to conduct a physical inventory of the seized items and photograph the same
"immediately after seizure and confiscation x x x in the presence of the accused x x x, a
representative from the media and the [DOJ], and any elected public official who shall be
required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given a copy thereof."70

The plain import of the phrase "immediately after seizure and confiscation" means that the
physical inventory and photographing of the drugs must be performed immediately at the place
of apprehension.71 And, in case this is not practicable, then the inventory and photographing
may be done as soon as the apprehending team reaches the nearest police station or office of the
apprehending officer/team. Necessarily, this could only mean that the three (3) witnesses
should already be physically present at the time of apprehension - a requirement that can
easily be complied with by the buy-bust team, considering that buy-bust operations, by their very
nature, entail meticulous planning and coordination.

In other words, in case of warrantless seizures, while the physical inventory and photographing is
allowed to be done "at the nearest police station or at the nearest office of the apprehending
officer/team, whichever is practicable," this does not dispense with the requirement of having the
DOJ or media representative and an elected public official to be physically present at the time
of apprehension.

The reason for this is dictated by simple logic: these witnesses are presumed to be disinterested
third parties insofar as the buy-bust operation is concerned. Hence, it is at the time of arrest - or
at the time of the drugs' "seizure and confiscation" - that the insulating presence of the witnesses
is most needed, as it is their presence at the time of seizure and confiscation that would
foreclose the pernicious practice of planting of evidence. Without the actual presence of the
representative from the media and the DOJ, and any elected public official during the seizure and
marking of the confiscated drugs, the evils of switching, planting or contamination of the corpus
delicti that had tainted the buy-busts conducted under the regime of RA 6425, otherwise known
as the "Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972," could again be resurrected.72

Transposing the foregoing to this case, based on the narrative of the prosecution, none of the
witnesses required under Section 21 was present at the time the plastic sachets were
allegedly recovered from accused appellant Luna. Neither were they present during the
preparation of the inventory at the place of seizure, i.e., the residence of accused-appellant
Luna. As categorically admitted by SPO1 Soriano, Barangay Kagawad Oscar Frank Rabe was
only present at the Barangay Hall where he was made to sign the Inventory of Confiscated
Evidence.73 In the same manner, Danny Placides, the purported media representative, only
signed the inventory at the police station.74

During his direct examination, SPO1 Soriano testified as follows:


PROSECUTOR SUBONG:

xxxx

Q Where exactly did you prepare the Inventory of Confiscated Evidence?

A At the crime scene, sir.

xxxx

Q On this Inventory of [C]onfiscated Evidence marked as Exhibit "H", there is a note which
states "Arrested person refused to sign" why did you put this note on this document?

A To show that he does not want to sign on that document, sir.

Q Who are you referring to as the one who refused to sign this document?

A Rich[a]el Luna, sir.


Q [T]here is a [signature] atop the name Oscar Frank Rabe, Brgy. Kagawad, where did
Kagawad Rabe sign this document?

A At the Barangay Hall, sir.

Q How about Danny Pla[c]ides, who is the representative of the Media?

A Here, sir, in our office.75 (Emphasis supplied)


Again, during his cross-examination, SPO1 Soriano confirmed the fact that none of the required
witnesses was present at the time of the seizure and during the preparation of the inventory and
neither were they furnished a copy of the same, as categorically required by Section 21:
Q: So the only person present at that time you effected the arrest and at the time that
you confiscated this shabu from his pocket were you, the accused, PO3 Daño and
PO2 Anos?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: So there are only four of you?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Did you turn over any of the pieces of evidence to any of these other police officers?

A: No, sir.

xxxx
Q: Now, where was the accused, Mr. Witness, when the certificate of inventory was
being filled up?

A: He was in front of me when I filled up the certificate of inventory, sir.

Q: The only copy of this certificate of inventory, you turned it over to the Office of the
City Prosecutor, is this correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: There was no copy handed to the accused, is this correct?

A: None, sir.

Q: As well as the barangay and media?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Now, you testified earlier that the only person present at the time you arrested the
accused and at the time you confiscated the pieces of evidence were you, the accused and
PO3 Daño and PO2 Anos, is this correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: So the barangay and media representative were not present at that time, correct?

A: Yes, sir.76 (Emphasis supplied)


The fact that only the police officers were present during the apprehension of accused-appellant
Luna is enough to raise concern. In such an environment, police impunity becomes inherent. To
state the obvious, assuming arguendo that there was indeed evidence planted, it would be
virtually impossible for accused-appellant Luna - or any accused placed in a similar plight - to
overcome the oft-favored testimony of police officers through mere denial. This is further
aggravated by the known fact that entrapment procedures are inevitably shrouded with secrecy
and cunningness to ensure the success of the operation.77

To recapitulate, the presence of the three (3) insulating witnesses must be secured and complied
with at the time of the warrantless arrest, such that they are required to be at or at least near the
intended place of the arrest, and accordingly be ready to witness the inventory and
photographing of the seized items "immediately after seizure and confiscation." This is the
necessary interpretation of Section 21 if the purpose of the law, which is to insulate the accused
from abuse, is to be achieved.

On the photography requirement

In the same vein, the police officers also failed to photograph the seized drugs immediately after
and at the place of seizure, as required under Section 21. Instead, it was only at the police station
that accused-appellant Luna was photographed while holding the plastic sachets supposedly
recovered from his person.78 SPO1 Soriano testified, thus:
Q: Did you turn over any of the pieces of evidence to any of these other police officers?

A: No, sir.

Q: Now, there is a photograph here of the accused holding an alleged suspected plastic
sachet. Suspected to contain illegal drug, Mr. Witness. Was this taken at the police
station?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Now, did you instruct him to hold this plastic sachet with markings in order for him
to be photographed with this specimen?

A: Yes, sir.
xxxx

Q: Now, you testified earlier that the only person present at the time you arrested the
accused and at the time you confiscated pieces of evidence were you, the accused and
PO3 Daño and PO2 Anos, is this correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: So the barangay and media representative were not present at that time, correct?

A: Yes, sir.79 (Emphasis supplied)


Significantly, in the Coordination Form80 dated April 14, 2008 prepared by the buy-bust team
ahead of the operation, a "camera" was among the listed "special equipment" that were to be
used in the operation.81 Hence, considering that the buy-bust team was able to accomplish the
Inventory of Confiscated Evidence at the place of seizure (albeit there was belated participation
of the required witnesses), there was no compelling reason for them to defer the
photographing requirement until their return to the police station. Neither was it apparent
from the records that the photograph of accused-appellant Luna holding the plastic sachets was
taken in the presence of the witnesses, as mandated by Section 21.

The prosecution failed to successfully trigger the saving clause under the IRR of RA 9165

All told, given the demonstrable failure of the police officers to faithfully observe the mandatory
requirements in Section 21, the question now is whether the saving clause under the IRR of RA
9165 was triggered. For this purpose, the prosecution must satisfy the two-pronged requirement:
first, present justifiable grounds for the non-compliance, and second, show that the integrity and
evidentiary value of the seized item were properly preserved.82

Based on the circumstances of the present appeal, however, the saving clause was not triggered
because the first prong was not satisfied - the prosecution did not offer any justifiable
grounds for the noncompliance. No explanation was proffered as to why none of the insulating
witnesses was present at the place and time of the seizure, or as to the failure to photograph the
drugs immediately after seizure in the presence of such witnesses. There was likewise no
showing of any efforts exerted by the police officers to at least coordinate with witnesses ahead
of the buy-bust operation. In fact, only two (2) out of the three (3) required witnesses under
Section 21 were eventually summoned to affix their signature on the preaccomplished Inventory
of Confiscated Evidence. Likewise, as already mentioned above, there was no apparent reason to
defer the photographing of the corpus delicti immediately after seizure because the buy-bust
team was able to perform an inventory at the scene.
Even in the Sinumpaang Salaysay83 of SPO1 Soriano, there was no attempt whatsoever to place
on record the reasons for the non-compliance with the procedure in Section 21:
Na, aking nilagyan ng rnarkang "RTL-RS BUYBUST" 04/14/08 ang aking nabiling isang
pirasong transparent plastic sachet na may larnang pinaghihinalaang shabu.

Na, akin ding nilagyan ng markang "RTL-RS POSS" 04/14/08 ang aking nakumpiska sa
kanyang pag-iingat na isang pirasong transparent plastic sachet na may larnang pinaghihinalaang
shabu.

Na, ako ay gumawa ng inventory of confiscated evidence at akin itong pinirmahan at hindi
lumagda ang taong suspetsado at pinirmahan ng Brgy[.] Official ng Brgy. Tumana, Lungsod ng
Marikina sa katauhan ni Brgy. Kagawad Oscar Frank Rabe at representante ng Media nasi
Danny Placides ng Saksi/Bomba.

Na, aking kinuhanan ng litrato ang nasabing ebedensiya habang hawak ng taong suspetsado[.]

Na, ang taong suspetsado ay arning dinala sa tanggapan ng EPD Crime Lab para ipadrug test, at
kasarna ang ebedensiya na nakumpiska sa kaniya para sa isang laboratory examination at amin
siyang pinagsakdal sa paglabag sa RA 9165 Article 2 Section 5 (SELLING) at Section 11
(POSSESSION).84
In this regard, considering that the first prong of the saving clause was not complied with, any
and all evidence tending to establish the chain of custody of the seized drugs become immaterial.
Given the fact that patent irregularities were already present at the point of seizure - the
supposed "first link" in the chain - there is no more practical value to establishing an unbroken
chain of custody to show that the integrity and the evidentiary value of the seized items were
properly preserved.

To demonstrate, if the movement of the seized items was to be recorded beginning only from
SPO1 Soriano, the poseur-buyer, presenting a continuous chain until the items are produced in
court does nothing to ensure that no foul play or planting was involved at the point of contact
with accused-appellant Luna. In other words, if there is already noncompliance with Section
21 of RA 9165 and no justifiable grounds are presented therefor, proving a chain of
custody beginning only with the poseur-buyer is pointless because the planting of evidence
is naturally done at the point of seizure. Once more, the entire rationale of placing
witnesses at the scene and conducting an inventory and photographing in their presence
immediately after seizure of the dangerous drugs is to guarantee with moral certainty that
the items were indeed recovered from the accused and not planted by the police officers.

Prescinding from the foregoing, the Court finds that the prosecution utterly failed to discharge its
duty to acknowledge and explain the reasons for the lapses in the procedure laid down by the
law. Accordingly, without the successful triggering of the saving clause, the seizure and custody
over the dangerous drugs in this case must perforce be invalidated.

The presumption of innocence vis-avis the presumption of regularity


The Court takes this opportunity to stress an important point.

The cornerstone of all criminal prosecutions is the right of the accused to be presumed
innocent.85 By this presumption, the Constitution places the onus probandi on the prosecution to
prove the guilt of the accused on the strength of its own evidence, not on the weakness of the
defense.86 Hence, the accused need not offer evidence on his behalf and may rely on the
presumption entirely, should the prosecution fail to overcome its burden of proof.87

In this respect, the presumption of innocence is overturned if and only if the prosecution has
successfully discharged its duty, that is, proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable
doubt88 - to prove each and every element of the crime charged in the information as to warrant a
finding of guilt for that crime or for any other crime necessarily included therein.89 To be sure,
the concept of moral certainty is subjective. What remains certain, however, is that the
overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused but
whether it entertains reasonable doubt as to his guilt.90

The RTC, in its Joint Decision dated December 8, 2010, which was affirmed by the CA,
convicted accused-appellant Luna based on his purported failure to prove that the police officers
did not perform their duties regularly, notwithstanding the established lapses in procedure:
Accused insists that there was no buy-bust operation and that the shabu allegedly sold by him to
the poseur buyer was planted evidence. His defense of denial cannot prevail over the positive
allegation of prosecution witness SPO1 Ramiel Soriano. He did not present evidence that the
prosecution witnesses had motive to falsely charge him. Neither did accused prove that the
police officers did not perform their duties regularly. x x x The Supreme Court has repeatedly
ruled that a positive testimony has more weight and credit in law than the bare denials of an
accused especially if no motive was attributed to the witness for testifying unfavorably. The
police officers went to the area for the simple purpose of performing the task assigned by their
superior to apprehend herein accused for his illegal activity. As public officers, they were
presumed to be in the performance of their duties. Where there is no evidence to the
contrary, law enforcers' narration of the incident is worthy of belief and as such, they are
presumed to have performed their duties in the regular manner x x x. It is an established
rule that the testimonies of the police officers are entitled to full faith and credit. They are
presumed to be in the regular performance of official duties x x x.91 (Emphasis supplied;
citations omitted)
This is grievous error. The RTC's reliance on the presumption of regularity in the performance
of official duty is misplaced considering that there was affirmative proof of irregularity in the
records.92 To say the least, the admitted failure of the police officers to comply with the
requirements in Section 21 effectively neutralized the presumption relied upon; there was no
basis in fact and law to rely on the same. This Court, in People v. Catalan,93 had already warned
the lower courts against this pitfall:
Both lower courts favored the members of the buy-bust team with the presumption of regularity
in the performance of their duty, mainly because the accused did not show that they had ill
motive behind his entrapment.

We hold that both lower courts committed gross error in relying on the presumption of
regularity.
Presuming that the members of the buy-bust team regularly performed their duty was patently
bereft of any factual and legal basis. We remind the lower courts that the presumption of
regularity in the performance of duty could not prevail over the stronger presumption of
innocence favoring the accused. Otherwise, the constitutional guarantee of the accused
being presumed innocent would be held subordinate to a mere rule of evidence allocating
the burden of evidence. Where, like here, the proof adduced against the accused has not even
overcome the presumption of innocence, the presumption of regularity in the performance of
duty could not be a factor to adjudge the accused guilty of the crime charged.

Moreover, the regularity of the performance of their duty could not be properly presumed
in favor of the policemen because the records were replete with indicia of their serious
lapses. As a rule, a presumed fact like the regularity of performance by a police officer
must be inferred only from an established basic fact, not plucked out from thin air. To say
it differently, it is the established basic fact that triggers the presumed fact of regular
performance. Where there is any hint of irregularity committed by the police officers in arresting
the accused and thereafter, several of which we have earlier noted, there can be no presumption
of regularity of performance in their favor.94 (Emphasis supplied; italics in the original)
In this case, the non-compliance with Section 21 without the triggering of the saving clause is a
showing of irregularity that effectively rebuts the presumption. As previously ruled in People v.
Enriquez,95 any divergence from the prescribed procedure, when left unjustified, is "an
irregularity, a red flag, that casts reasonable doubt on the identity of the corpus delicti."96

Verily, the presumption of regularity of performance of official duty stands only when no reason
exists in the records by which to doubt the regularity of the performance of official duty.97
Applied to dangerous drugs cases, the prosecution cannot rely on the presumption when there is
a showing that the apprehending officers failed to comply with the requirements laid down in
Section 21. And, in any case, the presumption of regularity cannot be stronger than the
presumption of innocence in favor of the accused.98Otherwise, a mere rule of evidence will
defeat the constitutionally enshrined right to be presumed innocent.99

Conclusion

All things considered, the evidence, appreciated in its totality, unequivocally points to an
acquittal. Firstly, there were patent breaches of the mandatory requirements of Section 21 of RA
9165. Secondly, the prosecution utterly failed to trigger the saving clause as they did not present
justifiable grounds for such non-compliance. Case law has decreed that the procedure enshrined
in Section 21 is a matter of substantive law and cannot be brushed aside as a simple procedural
technicality; or worse, ignored as an impediment to the conviction of illegal drug suspects.100
This being so, considering that the State left the lapses of the police officers unacknowledged
and unexplained, the integrity and evidentiary value of the corpus delicti had been compromised,
thereby creating reasonable doubt as to the guilt of accused-appellant Luna for the crimes
charged. Hence, his acquittal must follow without delay.

A final note.
The law, being a creature of justice, is blind towards both the guilty and the innocent. The Court,
as justice incarnate, must then be relentless in exacting the standards laid down by our laws - in
fact, the Court can do no less. For when the fundamental rights of life and liberty are already
hanging in the balance, it is the Court that must, at the risk of letting the guilty go unpunished,
remain unforgiving in its calling. And if the guilty does go unpunished, then that is on the police
and the prosecution - that is for them to explain to the People.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated June 13, 2014 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 05336 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accused-appellant Richael
Luna y Torsilino is hereby ACQUITTED for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. He is ordered immediately RELEASED from detention, unless he is confined
for any other lawful cause.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, Muntinlupa
City, for immediate implementation. The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to
report to this Court, within five (5) days from receipt of this Decision, the action he has taken. A
copy shall also be furnished to the Director General of Philippine National Police for his
information.

SO ORDERED.