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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 17584

March 8, 1922

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
GREGORIO SANTIAGO, defendant-appellant.
L. Porter Hamilton for appellant.
Acting Attorney-General Tuason for appellee.
ROMUALDEZ, J.:
Having caused the death of Porfirio Parondo, a boy 7 years old, by striking him with automobile that
he was driving, the herein appellant was prosecuted for the crime of homicide by reckless
negligence and was sentenced to suffer one year and one day of prision correccional, and to pay the
costs of the trial.
Not agreeable with that sentence he now comes to this court alleging that the court below committed
four errors, to wit:
1. The trial court erred in not taking judicial notice of the fact that the appellant was being
prosecuted in conformity with Act No. 2886 of the Philippine Legislature and that the Act is
unconstitutional and gave no jurisdiction in this case.
2. The lower court erred in not dismissing the complaint after the presentation of the
evidence in the case, if not before, for the reason that said Act No. 2886 is unconstitutional
and the proceedings had in the case under the provisions of the Act constitute a prosecution
of appellant without due process of law.
3. The court a quo erred in not finding that it lacked jurisdiction over the person of the
accused and over the subject- matter of the complaint.
4. The trial court erred in finding the appellant guilty of the crime charged and in sentencing
him to one year and one day of prison correccional and to the payment of costs.
With regard to the questions of fact, we have to say that we have examined the record and find that
the conclusions of the trial judge, as contained in his well-written decision, are sufficiently sustained
by the evidence submitted.
The accused was driving an automobile at the rate of 30 miles an hour on a highway 6 meter wide,
notwithstanding the fact that he had to pass a narrow space between a wagon standing on one side
of the road and a heap of stones on the other side where the were two young boys, the appellant did
not take the precaution required by the circumstances by slowing his machine, and did not proceed

with the vigilant care that under the circumstances an ordinary prudent man would take in order to
avoid possible accidents that might occur, as unfortunately did occur, as his automobile ran over the
boy Porfirio Parondo who was instantly killed as the result of the accident.
These facts are so well established in the records that there cannot be a shade of doubt about them.
Coming now to the other assignments of error, it will be seen that they deal with the fundamental
questions as to whether or not Act No. 2886, under which the complaint in the present case was
filed, is valid and constitutional.
This Act is attacked on account of the amendments that it introduces in General Orders No. 58, the
defense arguing that the Philippine Legislature was, and is, not authorized to amend General Orders
No. 58, as it did by amending section 2 thereof because its provisions have the character of
constitutional law. Said section 2 provides as follows:
All prosecutions for public offenses shall be in the name of the United States against the
persons charged with the offenses. (G. O. No. 58, sec. 2 ).
Act No. 2886, which amends it, by virtue of which the People of the Philippine Island is made the
plaintiff in this information, contains the following provisions in section 1:
SECTION 1. Section two of General Orders, Numbered Fifty-eight, series of nineteen
hundred, is hereby amended to read as follows:
"SEC. 2. All prosecutions for public offenses shall be in the name of the People of the
Philippine Islands against the persons charged with the offense."
Let us examine the question.
For practical reasons, the procedure in criminal matters is not incorporated in the Constitutions of the
States, but is left in the hand of the legislatures, so that it falls within the realm of public statutory law.
As has been said by Chief Justice Marshall:
A constitution, to contain an accurate detail of all the Subdivisions of which its great powers
will admit, and of all the means by which they may be carried into execution, would partake
of a prolixity of a legal code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind. It would
probably never be understood by the public. (M'Culloch vs. Maryland [1819], 4 Wheat., 316,
407; 4 L. ed., 579.)
That is why, in pursuance of the Constitution of the United States, each States, each State has the
authority, under its police power, to define and punish crimes and to lay down the rules of criminal
procedure.
The states, as a part of their police power, have a large measure of discretion in creating and
defining criminal offenses. . . .

A Statute relating to criminal procedure is void as a denial of the equal protection of the laws
if it prescribes a different procedure in the case of persons in like situation. Subject to this
limitation, however, the legislature has large measure of discretion in prescribing the modes
of criminal procedure. . . . (12 C.J., 1185, 1186. See Collins vs. Johnston, 237 U.S., 502; 35
s. Ct. Rep. 649; 59 L. ed., 1071; Shevlin-Carpenter Co. vs. Minnesota, 218 U.S., 57; 30 S.
Ct. Rep., 663; 54 L. ed., 930; Lynn vs. Flancders, 141 Ga., 500; 81 S.E., 205.)
This power of the States of the North American Union was also granted to its territories such as the
Philippines:
The plenary legislative power which Congress possesses over the territories and
possessions of the United States may be exercised by that body itself, or, as is much more
often the case, it may be delegated to a local agency, such as a legislature, the organization
of which proceeds upon much the same lines as in the several States or in Congress, which
is often taken as a model, and whose powers are limited by the Organic Act; but within the
scope of such act is has complete authority to legislate, . . . and in general, to legislate upon
all subjects within the police power of the territory. (38 Cyc., 205-207.)
The powers of the territorial legislatures are derived from Congress. By act of Congress their
power extends "to all rightful subjects of legislation not inconsistent with the Constitution and
laws of the United States;" and this includes the power to define and punish crimes. (16 C.
J., 62.)
And in the exercise of such powers the military government of the army of occupation, functioning as
a territorial legislature, thought it convenient to establish new rules of procedure in criminal matters,
by the issuance of General Orders No. 58, the preamble of which reads:
In the interests of justice, and to safeguard the civil liberties of the inhabitants of these
Islands, the criminal code of procedure now in force therein is hereby amended in certain of
its important provisions, as indicated in the following enumerated sections. (Emphasis ours.)
Its main purpose is, therefore, limited to criminal procedure and its intention is to give to its
provisions the effect of law in criminal matters. For that reason it provides in section 1 that:
The following provisions shall have the force and effect of law in criminal matters in the
Philippine Islands from and after the 15th day of May, 1900, but existing laws on the same
subjects shall remain valid except in so far as hereinafter modified or repealed expressly or
by necessary implication.
From what has been said it clearly follows that the provisions of this General Order do not the nature
of constitutional law either by reason of its character or by reason of the authority that enacted it into
law.
It cannot be said that it has acquired this character because this order was made its own by the
Congress of the United States for, as a mater of fact, this body never adopted it as a law of its own
creation either before the promulgation of Act No. 2886, herein discussed, or, to our knowledge, to
this date.

Since the provisions of this General Order have the character of statutory law, the power of the
Legislature to amend it is self-evident, even if the question is considered only on principle. Our
present Legislature, which has enacted Act No. 2886, the subject of our inquiry, is the legal
successor to the Military Government as a legislative body.
Since the advent of the American sovereignty in the Philippines the legislative branch of our
government has undergone transformations and has developed itself until it attained its present
form. Firstly, it was the Military Government of the army of occupation which, in accordance with
international law and practice, was vested with legislative functions and in fact did legislate;
afterwards, complying with the instructions of President McKinley which later were ratified by
Congress (sec. 1 of the Act of July 1, 1902) the legislative powers of the Military Government were
transferred to the Philippine Commission; then, under the provisions of section 7 of the Act of
Congress of July 1, 1902, the Philippine Assembly was created and it functioned as a colegislative
body with the Philippine Commission. Finally, by virtue of the provisions of sections 12 of the Act of
Congress of August 29, 1916, known as the Jones Law, the Philippine Commission gave way to the
Philippine Senate, the Philippine Assembly became the House of Representatives, and thus was
formed the present Legislature composed of two Houses which has enacted the aforesaid Act No.
2886.
As a matter of fact, Act No. 2886 is not the first law that amends General Orders No. 58. The
Philippine Commission, at various times, had amended it by the enactment of laws among which we
may cite Act No. 194, regarding preliminary investigation, Act No. 440 relating to counsels de
oficio and Act No. 590 about preliminary investigations by justices of the peace of provincial capitals.
Later on, and before the enactment of Act No. 2886, herein controverted, the Legislature had also
amended this General Orders No. 58 by the enactment of Act No. 2677 regarding appeals to the
Supreme Court of causes originating in the justice of the peace courts and by Act No. 2709 which
deals with the exclusion of accused persons from the information in order to be utilized as state's
witnesses.
These amendments repeatedly made by the Philippine Commission as well as by our present
Legislature are perfectly within the scope of the powers of the said legislative bodies as the
successors of the Military Government that promulgated General Orders No. 58.
No proof is required to demonstrate that the present Legislature had, and had, the power to enact
and amend laws. (U.S. vs. Bull. 15 Phil., 7.) That it has the power to legislate on criminal matters is
very evident from the wording of section 7 of the Jones Law which says:
That the legislative authority herein provided shall have power, when not inconsistent with
this Act, by due enactment to amend, alter, modify, or repeal any law, civil or criminal,
continued in force by this Act as it may from time to time see fit.
It is urged the right to prosecute and punish crimes is an attributed of sovereignty. This assertion is
right; but it is also true that by reason of the principle of territoriality as applied in the supression, of
crimes, such power is delegated to subordinate government subdivisions such as territories. As we
have seen in the beginning, the territorial legislatures have the power to define and punish crimes, a
power also possessed by the Philippine Legislature by virtue of the provisions of sections 7, already
quoted, of the Jones Law. These territorial governments are local agencies of the Federal
Government, wherein sovereignty resides; and when the territorial government of the Philippines

prosecutes and punishes public crimes it does so by virtue of the authority delegated to it by the
supreme power of the Nation.
This delegation may be made either expressly as in the case of the several States of the Union and
incorporated territories like Porto Rico and Hawaii, or tacitly as is the case with the Philippines,
which is an organized territory though not incorporated with the Union. (Malcolm, Philippine
Constitutional Law, 181-205.)
This tacit delegation to our Government needs no demonstration. As a matter of fact, the crimes
committed within our territory, even before section 2 of General Orders No. 58 was amended, were
prosecuted and punished in this jurisdiction as is done at present; but then as now the repression of
crimes was done, and is still done, under the sovereign authority of the United States, whose name
appears as the heading in all pleadings in criminal causes and in other judicial papers and notarial
acts.
The use of such a heading is prescribed for civil cases in form 1 of section 784 of the Code of Civil
Procedure; in criminal causes the constant practice followed in this jurisdiction established its use;
and in notarial matters its use is provided by section 127 of Act No. 496. This long continued practice
in criminal matters and the legal provision relating to civil cases and notarial acts have not been
amended by any law, much less by Act No. 2886, the subject of the present inquiry.
There is not a single constitutional provision applicable to the Philippines prescribing the name to be
used as party plaintiff in criminal cases.
The fact that the political status of this country is as yet undetermined and in a transitory stage, is, in
our opinion, responsible for the fact that there is no positive provision in our constitutional law
regarding the use of the name of the People of the Philippine Islands, as party plaintiff, in criminal
prosecutions, as is otherwise the case in the respective constitutional charters of the States of the
Union and incorporated territories a situation which must not be understood as depriving the
Government of the Philippines of its power, however delegated, to prosecute public crimes. The fact
is undeniable that the present government of the Philippines, created by the Congress of the United
States, is autonomous.
This autonomy of the Government of the Philippines reaches all judicial actions, the case at bar
being one of them; as an example of such autonomy, this Government, the same as that of Hawaii
and Porto Rico (People of Porto Rico vs. Rosaly y Castillo [1913], 227 U.S., 270; 57 L. ed., 507; 33
Sup. Ct. Rep., 352) cannot be sued without its consent. (Merritt vs. Government of the Philippine
Islands, 34 Phil., 311; L. S. Moon & Co. vs. Harrison, p. 27, ante.) The doctrine, laid down in these
cases, acknowledges the prerogative of personality in the Government of the Philippines, which, if it
is sufficient to shield it from any responsibility in court in its own name unless it consents thereto, it
should be also, as sufficiently authoritative in law, to give that government the right to prosecute in
court in its own name whomsoever violates within its territory the penal laws in force therein.
However, limiting ourselves to the question relative to the form of the complaint in criminal matters, it
is within the power of the Legislature to prescribe the form of the criminal complaint as long as the
constitutional provision of the accused to be informed of the nature of the accusation is not violated.

Under the Constitution of the United States and by like provisions in the constitutions of the
various states, the accused is entitled to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him . . .
It is within the power of the legislatures under such a constitutional provision to prescribe the
form of the indictment or information, and such form may omit averments regarded as
necessary at common law. (22 Cyc., 285.)
All these considerations a priori are strengthened a posteriori by the important reason disclosed by
the following fact that the Congress has tacitly approved Act No. 2886. Both the Act of Congress
of July 1, 1902, section 86, and the Jones Law, last paragraph of section 19, provide that all the laws
enacted by the Government of the Philippines or its Legislature shall be forwarded to the Congress
of the United States, which body reserves the right and power to annul them. And presuming, as
legally we must, that the provisions of these laws have been complied with, it is undisputed that the
Congress of the United States did not annul any of those acts already adverted to Nos. 194, 440,
490 (of the Philippine Commission), and 2677, 2709 and the one now in question No. 2886 (of the
present Legislature) all of which were amendatory of General Orders No. 58. The Act now under
discussion (No. 2886) took effect on February 24, 1920, and the criminal complaint in this case was
filed on May 10, 1920. The silence of Congress regarding those laws amendatory of the said
General Order must be considered as an act of approval.
If Congress fails to notice or take action on any territorial legislation the reasonable inference
is that it approves such act. (26 R.C.L., 679; vide Clinton vs. Englebrcht, 13 Wall., 434; 20 [L.
ed.] 659; Tiaco vs. Forbes, 228 U.S., 549; 33 S. Ct. Rep., 585; 57 [L. ed.], 960; Nixon vs.
Reid, 8 S.d., 507; 67 N.W., 57; 32 L.R.A., 315.)
Furthermore, supposing for the sake of argument, that the mention of the People of the Philippine
Islands as plaintiff in the title of the information constitutes a vice or defect, the same is not fatal
when, as in the present case, it was not objected to in the court below.
An indictment must, in many states under express statutory or constitutional provision, show
by its title or by proper recitals in the caption or elsewhere that the prosecution is in the name
and by the authority of the state, the commonwealth, or the people of the state, according to
the practice in the particular jurisdictions; but omissions or defects in this respect may be
supplied or cured by other parts of the records, and the omissions of such a recital or defects
therein, even when required by the constitution or by statute, is a defect of form within a
statute requiring exceptions for defect of form to be made before trial. (23 Cyc., 237, 238.)
We hold that the provisions of sections 2 of General Orders No. 58, as amended by Act No. 2886, do
not partake of the same character as the provisions of a constitution; that the said Act No. 2886 is
valid and is not violative of any constitutional provisions and that the court a quo did not commit any
of the errors assigned.
The sentence appealed from is hereby affirmed, the appellant being furthermore sentenced to the
accessory penalties prescribed in article 61 of the Penal Code, and to indemnify the heirs of the
deceased in the sum of P1,000 and to the payment of the costs of both instances. So ordered.
Araullo, C.J., Street, Malcolm, Avancea and Villamor, JJ., concur.
Ostrand and Johns, JJ., concur in the result.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-11676

October 17, 1916

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ANDRES PABLO, defendant-appellant.
Alfonso E. Mendoza for appellant.
Attorney-General Avancea for appellee.

TORRES, J.:
At about noon of the 21st of October, 1915, Andres Pablo, a policeman of the municipality of
Balanga, went by order of his chief to the barrio of Tuyo to raid a jueteng game which, according to
the information lodged, was being conducted in that place; but before the said officer arrived there
the players, perhaps advised of his approach by a spy, left and ran away; however, on his arrival at a
vacant lot the defendant there found Francisco Dato and, at a short distance away, a low table. After
a search of the premises he also found thereon a tambiolo(receptacle) and 37 bolas (balls).
Notwithstanding that the officer had seen the men Maximo Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo leave the
said lot, yet, as at first he had seen no material proof that the game was being played, he refrained
from arresting them, and on leaving the place only arrested Francisco Daro, who had remained
there.
In reporting to his chief what had occurred, the policeman presented a memorandum containing the
following statement: "In the barrio of Tuyo I raided a jueteng na bilat game, seized
a tambiolo and bolas, and saw thecabecillas Maximo MAlicsi and Antonio Rodrigo and the gambler
Francisco Dato. I saw the two cabecillasescape."
In consequence, chief of police Jose D. Reyes, on October 22, 1915, filed a complaint in the court of
justice of the peace charging the said Rodrigo, Malicsi, and Dato with having gambled at jueteng, in
violation of municipal ordinance No. 5. As a result of this complaint the accused were arrested, but
were afterwards admitted to bail.
At the hearing of the case Francisco Dato pleaded guilty. The other two accused, Maximo Malicsi
and Antonio Rodrigo, pleaded not guilty; therefore, during the trial the chief of police presented the
memorandum exhibited by the policeman Andres Pablo, who testified under oath that on the date
mentioned he and Tomas de Leon went to the said barrio to raid a jueteng game, but that before
they arrived there they saw from afar that some persons started to run toward the hills; that when
witness and his companion arrived at a vacant lot they saw Francisco Dato and a low table there,
and the table caused them to suspect that a jueteng game was being carried on; that in fact they did
find on one side of the lot a tambiolo and 37 bolas, but that they did not see the accused Rodrigo
and Malicsi on the said lot, nor did they see them run; and that only afterwards did the witness learn

that these latter were the cabecillas or ringleaders in the jueteng game, from information given him
by an unknown person. In view of this testimony by the police officer who made the arrest and of the
other evidence adduced at the trial the court acquitted the defendants Antonio Rodrigo and Maximo
Malicsi and sentenced only Francisco Dato, as a gambler.
Before the case came to trial in the justice of the peace court the policeman Andres Pablo had an
interview and conference with the accused Malicsi and ROdrigo in the house of Valentin Sioson. On
this occasion he was instructed not to testify against Malicsi and Rodrigo, and in fact received
through Gregorio Ganzon the sum of P5.
By reason of the foregoing and after making a preliminary investigation the provincial fiscal, on
December 1, 1915, filed an information in the Court of First Instance of Bataan charging Andres
Pablo with the crime of perjury, under the provisions of section 3 of Act No. 1697. The following is an
extract from the complaint:
That on or about November 6, 1915, in the municipality of Balanga, Bataan, P.I., and within
the jurisdiction of this court, the said accused, Andres Pablo, during the hearing in the justice
of the peace court of Balanga of the criminal cause No. 787, entitled the United States vs.
Antonio Rodrigo and Maximo Malicsi, for violation of Municipal Ordinance No. 5 of the
municipality of Balanga, did, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously affirm and swear in legal form
before the justice of the peace court as follow: `We did not there overtake the accused
Antonio Rodrigo and Maximo Malicsi, nor did we even see them run,' the said statement
being utterly false, as the accused well knew that it was, and material to the decision of the
said criminal cause No. 787, United States vs. Antonio Rodrigo and Maximo Malicsi. An act
committed with violation of law.
The case came to trial and on December 28, 1915, the court rendered judgment therein sentencing
the defendant to the penalty of two years' imprisonment, to pay a fine of P100 and, in case of
insolvency, to the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment, and to pay the costs. The defendant was
also disqualified from thereafter holding any public office and from testifying in the courts of the
Philippine Islands until the said disqualification should be removed. From this judgment he appealed.
Francisco Dato, on testifying as a witness, said that when the policemen Andres Pablo and Tomas
de Leon arrived at the place where the jueteng was being played, they found the defendant
gamblers, Malicsi and Rodrigo; that, prior to the hearing of the case in the justice of the peace court,
Malicsi and Rodrigo ordered him to call Andres Pablo, who, together with witness, went to the house
of Valentin Sioson, where they held a conference; that witness pleaded guilty in the justice of the
peace court, in fulfillment of his part of an agreement made between himself and his two coaccused,
Malicsi and Rodrigo, who promised him that they would support his family during the time he might
be a prisoner in jail; that Andres Pablo did not know that they were gamblers, because he did not
find them in the place where the game was in progress, but that when witness was being taken to
the municipal building by the policemen he told them who the gamblers were who had run away and
whom Andres Pablo could have seen.
Maximo Malicsi corroborated the foregoing testimony and further stated that, on the arrival of the
policemen who made the arrest and while they were looking for the tambiolo, he succeeded in
escaping; that Andres Pablo had known him for a long time and could have arrested him had he
wished to do so; that prior to the hearing he and his codefendants, ROdrigo and Dato, did in fact
meet in the house of Valentin Sioson, on which occasion they agreed that they would give the

policemen Andres Pablo P20, provided witness and Rodrigo were excluded from the charge; and
that only P15 was delivered to the said Pablo, through Gregorio Ganzon. This statement was
corroborated by the latter, though he said nothing about what amount of money he delivered to the
policeman Pablo.
The defendant Andres Pablo testified under oath that, on his being asked by the justice of the peace
how he could have seen Maximo Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo, he replied that he did not see them at
the place where the game was being conducted nor did he see them run away from there, for he
only found the table, the tambiolo, the bolas, and Francisco Dato; that he did not surprise the game
because the players ran away before he arrived on the lot where, after fifteen minutes' search, he
found only the tambiolo and the bolas; that on arriving at the place where the game was played, they
found only Francisco Dato and some women in the Street, and as Dato had already gone away,
witness' companion, the policeman Tomas de Leon, got on his bicycle and went after him; and that
he found the tambiolo at a distance of about 6 meters from a low table standing on the lot.
From the facts above related, it is concluded that the defendant Andres Pablo, who pleaded not
guilty, falsely testified under oath in the justice of the peace court of Balanga, Bataan, in saying he
had not seen the alleged gamblers Maximo Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo in the place where,
according to the complaint filed, the game of jueteng was being played and where the defendant and
his companion, the policeman Tomas de Leon, had found a table, tambiolo and bolas, used in the
game of jueteng, while it was proved at the trial that he did not them and did overtake them while
they were still in the place where the game was being played. But notwithstanding his having seen
them there, upon testifying in the cause prosecuted against these men and another for gambling, he
stated that he had not seen them there, knowing that he was not telling the truth and was false to the
oath he had taken, and he did so willfully and deliberately on account of his agreement with the men,
Malicsi and Rodrigo, and in consideration of a bribe of P15 which he had received in payment for his
false testimony he afterwards gave.
Francisco Dato and Gregorio Ganzon corroborated the assertion that the policeman Andres Pablo
undertook to exclude the gamblers, Malicsi and Rodrigo, from the charge and from his testimony in
consideration for P15 which he received through Gregorio Ganzon.
Andres Pablo was charged with the crime of perjury and was afterwards convicted under Act No.
1697, which (according to the principle laid down by this court in various decisions that are already
well-settled rules of law) repealed the provisions contained in articles 318 to 324 of the Penal Code
relative to false testimony.
By the second paragraph of the final section of the last article of the Administrative Code, or Act No.
2657, there was repealed, among the other statutes therein mentioned, the said Act No. 1697
relating to perjury, and the repealing clause of the said Administrative Code does not say under what
other penal law in force the crime of false testimony, at least, if not that of perjury, shall be punished.
Under these circumstances, may the crime of perjury or of false testimony go unpunished, and is
there no penal sanction whatever in this country for this crime? May the truth be freely perverted in
testimony given under oath and which, for the very reason that it may save a guilty person from
punishment, may also result in the conviction and punishment of an innocent person? If all this is not
possible and is not right before the law and good morals in a society of even mediocre culture, it
must be acknowledged that it is imperatively necessary to punish the crime of perjury or of false

testimony a crime which can produce incalculable and far-reaching harm to society and cause
infinite disturbance of social order.
The right of prosecution and punishment for a crime is one of the attributes that by a natural law
belongs to the sovereign power instinctively charged by the common will of the members of society
to look after, guard and defend the interests of the community, the individual and social rights and
the liberties of every citizen and the guaranty of the exercise of his rights.
The power to punish evildoers has never been attacked or challenged, as the necessity for its
existence has been recognized even by the most backward peoples. At times the criticism has been
made that certain penalties are cruel, barbarous, and atrocious; at other, that they are light and
inadequate to the nature and gravity of the offense, but the imposition of punishment is admitted to
be just by the whole human race, and even barbarians and savages themselves, who are ignorant of
all civilization, are no exception.
lawphil.net

Notwithstanding that the said Act No. 1697 (which, as interpreted by this court in its decisions, was
deemed to have repealed the aforementioned article of the Penal Code relating to false testimony,
comprised within the term of perjury) did not expressly repeal the said articles of the Penal Code;
and as the said final article of the Administrative Code, in totally repealing Act No. 1697, does not
explicitly provide that the mentioned articles of the Penal Code are also repealed, the will of the
legislation not being expressly and clearly stated with respect to the complete or partial repeal of the
said articles of the Penal Code, in the manner that it has totally repealed the said Act No. 1697
relating its perjury; and, furthermore, as it is imperative that society punish those of its members who
are guilty of perjury or false testimony, and it cannot be conceived that these crimes should go
unpunished or be freely committed without punishment of any kind, it must be conceded that there
must be in this country some prior, preexistent law that punishes perjury or false testimony.
There certainly are laws which deal with perjury or false testimony, like Law 7 et seq. of Title 2,
third Partida.
However, since the Penal Code went into force, the crime of false testimony has been punished
under the said articles of the said Code, which as we have already said, have not been specifically
repealed by the said Act No. 1697, but since its enactment, have not been applied, by the mere
interpretation given to them by this court in its decisions; yet, from the moment that Act was repealed
by the Administrative Code, the needs of society have made it necessary that the said articles 318 to
324 should be deemed to be in force, inasmuch as the Administrative Code, in repealing the said Act
relating to perjury, has not explicitly provided that the said articles of the Penal Code have likewise
been repealed.
This manner of understanding and construing the statutes applicable to the crime of false testimony
or perjury is in harmony with the provision of Law 11, Title 2, Book 3, of the Novisima
Recopilacion which says::
All the laws of the kingdom, not expressly repealed by other subsequent laws, must be
literally obeyed and the excuse that they are not in use cannot avail; for the Catholic kings
and their successors so ordered in numerous laws, and so also have I ordered on different
occasions, and even though they were repealed, it is seen that they have been revived by
the decree which I issued in conformity with them although they were not expressly

designated. The council will be informed thereof and will take account of the importance of
the matter.
It is, then, assumed that the said articles of the Penal Code are in force and are properly applicable
to crimes of false testimony. Therefore, in consideration of the fact that in the case at bar the
evidence shows it to have been duly proven that the defendant, Andres Pablo, in testifying in the
cause prosecuted for gambling at jueteng, perverted the truth, for the purpose of favoring the alleged
gamblers, Maximo Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo, with the aggravating circumstance of the crime
being committed through bribery, for it was also proved that the defendant Pablo received P15 in
order that he should make no mention of the said two gamblers in his sworn testimony, whereby he
knowingly perverted the truth, we hold that, in the commission of the crime of false testimony, there
concurred the aggravating circumstance of price or reward, No. 3 of article 10 of the Code, with no
mitigating circumstance to offset the effects of the said aggravating one; wherefore the defendant
has incurred the maximum period of the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum degree to prision
correccional in its medium degree, and a fine.
For the foregoing reasons, we hereby reverse the judgment appealed from and sentence Andres
Pablo to the penalty of two years four months and one day of prision correccional, to pay a fine of
1,000 pesetas, and, in case of insolvency, to suffer the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment,
which shall not exceed one-third of the principal penalty. He shall also pay the costs of both
instances. So ordered.
Johnson, Carson, Trent and Araullo, JJ., concur.
Moreland, J., concurs in the result .
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 96132 June 26, 1992


ORIEL MAGNO, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

PARAS, J.:
This is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, from the decision* of the
respondent Court of Appeals which affirmed in toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 104 finding the accused petitioner, guilty of violations of Batas Pambansa Blg.
22, in Criminal Cases Q-35693 to 35696 before they were elevated on appeal to the respondent
appellate Court under CA-G.R. CR No. 04889.

The antecedent facts and circumstances of the four (4) counts of the offense charged, have been
clearly illustrated, in the Comment of the Office of the Solicitor General as official counsel for the
public respondent, thus:
Petitioner was in the process of putting up a car repair shop sometime in April 1983, but a did not
have complete equipment that could make his venture workable. He also had another problem, and
that while he was going into this entrepreneurship, he lacked funds with which to purchase the
necessary equipment to make such business operational. Thus, petitioner, representing Ultra
Sources International Corporation, approached Corazon Teng, (private complainant) Vice President
of Mancor Industries (hereinafter referred to as Mancor) for his needed car repair service equipment
of which Mancor was a distributor, (Rollo, pp. 40-41)
Having been approached by petitioner on his predicament, who fully bared that he had no sufficient
funds to buy the equipment needed, the former (Corazon Teng) referred Magno to LS Finance and
Management Corporation (LB Finance for brevity) advising its Vice-President, Joey Gomez, that
Mancor was willing and able to supply the pieces of equipment needed if LS Finance could
accommodate petitioner and provide him credit facilities. (Ibid., P. 41)
The arrangement went through on condition that petitioner has to put up a warranty deposit
equivalent to thirtyper centum (30%) of the total value of the pieces of equipment to be purchased,
amounting to P29,790.00. Since petitioner could not come up with such amount, he requested Joey
Gomez on a personal level to look for a third party who could lend him the equivalent amount of the
warranty deposit, however, unknown to petitioner, it was Corazon Teng who advanced the deposit in
question, on condition that the same would be paid as a short term loan at 3% interest (Ibid., P. 41)
The specific provision in the Leasing Agreement, reads:
1.1. WARRANTY DEPOSIT Before or upon delivery of each item of Equipment,
the Lessee shall deposit with the Lessor such sum or sums specified in Schedule A
to serve as security for the faithful performance of its obligations.
This deposit shall be refunded to the Lessee upon the satisfactory completion of the
entire period of Lease, subject to the conditions of clause 1.12 of this Article. (Ibid., p.
17)
As part of the arrangement, petitioner and LS Finance entered into a leasing agreement whereby LS
Finance would lease the garage equipments and petitioner would pay the corresponding rent with
the option to buy the same. After the documentation was completed, the equipment were delivered
to petitioner who in turn issued a postdated check and gave it to Joey Gomez who, unknown to the
petitioner, delivered the same to Corazon Teng. When the check matured, Petitioner requested
through Joey Gomez not to deposit the check as he (Magno) was no longer banking with Pacific
Bank.
To replace the first check issued, petitioner issued another set of six (6) postdated checks. Two (2)
checks dated July 29, 1983 were deposited and cleared while the four (4) others, which were the
subject of the four counts of the aforestated charges subject of the petition, were held momentarily
by Corazon Teng, on the request of Magno as they were not covered with sufficient funds. These
checks were a) Piso Bank Check Nos. 006858, dated August 15, 1983, 006859 dated August 28,

1983 and 006860 dated September 15, 1983, all in the amount of P5,038.43 and No. 006861 dated
September 28, 1983, in the amount of P10,076.87. (Ibid., pp. 42 & 43).
Subsequently, petitioner could not pay LS Finance the monthly rentals, thus it pulled out the garage
equipments. It was then on this occasion that petitioner became aware that Corazon Teng was the
one who advanced the warranty deposit. Petitioner with his wife went to see Corazon Teng and
promised to pay the latter but the payment never came and when the four (4) checks were deposited
they were returned for the reason "account closed." (Ibid., p. 43)
After joint trial before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 104, the accused-petitioner
was convicted for violations of BP Blg. 22 on the four (4) cases, as follows:
. . . finding the accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of
violations of B.P. Blg. 22 and sentencing the accused to imprisonment for one year in
each Criminal Case Nos. Q-35693, Q-35695 and Q-35696 and to pay to complainant
the respective amounts reflected in subject checks. (Ibid., pp. 25, 27)
Reviewing the above and the affirmation of the above-stated decision of the court a quo, this Court is
intrigued about the outcome of the checks subject of the cases which were intended by the parties,
the petitioner on the one hand and the private complainant on the other, to cover the "warranty
deposit" equivalent to the 30% requirement of the financing company. Corazon Teng is one of the
officers of Mancor, the supplier of the equipment subject of the Leasing Agreement subject of the
high financing scheme undertaken by the petitioner as lessee of the repair service equipment, which
was arranged at the instance of Mrs. Teng from the very beginning of the transaction.
By the nature of the "warranty deposit" amounting to P29,790.00 corresponding to 30% of the
"purchase/lease" value of the equipments subject of the transaction, it is obvious that the "cash out"
made by Mrs. Teng was not used by petitioner who was just paying rentals for the equipment. It
would have been different if petitioner opted to purchase the pieces of equipment on or about the
termination of the lease-purchase agreement in which case he had to pay the additional amount of
the warranty deposit which should have formed part of the purchase price. As the transaction did not
ripen into a purchase, but remained a lease with rentals being paid for the loaned equipment, which
were pulled out by the Lessor (Mancor) when the petitioner failed to continue paying possibly due to
economic constraints or business failure, then it is lawful and just that the warranty deposit should
not be charged against the petitioner.
To charge the petitioner for the refund of a "warranty deposit" which he did not withdraw as it was not
his own account, it having remained with LS Finance, is to even make him pay an unjust "debt", to
say the least, since petitioner did not receive the amount in question. All the while, said amount was
in the safekeeping of the financing company, which is managed, supervised and operated by the
corporation officials and employees of LS Finance. Petitioner did not even know that the checks he
issued were turned over by Joey Gomez to Mrs. Teng, whose operation was kept from his
knowledge on her instruction. This fact alone evoke suspicion that the transaction is irregular and
immoral per se, hence, she specifically requested Gomez not to divulge the source of the "warranty
deposit".
It is intriguing to realize that Mrs. Teng did not want the petitioner to know that it was she who
"accommodated" petitioner's request for Joey Gomez, to source out the needed funds for the
"warranty deposit". Thus it unfolds the kind of transaction that is shrouded with mystery, gimmickry

and doubtful legality. It is in simple language, a scheme whereby Mrs. Teng as the supplier of the
equipment in the name of her corporation, Mancor, would be able to "sell or lease" its goods as in
this case, and at the same time, privately financing those who desperately need petty
accommodations as this one. This modus operandi has in so many instances victimized
unsuspecting businessmen, who likewise need protection from the law, by availing of the deceptively
called "warranty deposit" not realizing that they also fall prey to leasing equipment under the guise of
a lease-purchase agreement when it is a scheme designed to skim off business clients.
This maneuvering has serious implications especially with respect to the threat of the penal sanction
of the law in issue, as in this case. And, with a willing court system to apply the full harshness of the
special law in question, using the "mala prohibitia" doctrine, the noble objective of the law is tainted
with materialism and opportunism in the highest, degree.
This angle is bolstered by the fact that since the petitioner or lessee referred to above in the lease
agreement knew that the amount of P29,790.00 subject of the cases, were mere accommodationarrangements with somebody thru Joey Gomez, petitioner did not even attempt to secure the refund
of said amount from LS Finance, notwithstanding the agreement provision to the contrary. To argue
that after the termination of the lease agreement, the warranty deposit should be refundable in full to
Mrs. Teng by petitioner when he did not cash out the "warranty deposit" for his official or personal
use, is to stretch the nicety of the alleged law (B.P. No, 22) violated.
For all intents and purposes, the law was devised to safeguard the interest of the banking system
and the legitimate public checking account user. It did not intend to shelter or favor nor encourage
users of the system to enrich themselves through manipulations and circumvention of the noble
purpose and objective of the law. Least should it be used also as a means of jeopardizing honest-togoodness transactions with some color of "get-rich" scheme to the prejudice of well-meaning
businessmen who are the pillars of society.
Under the utilitarian theory, the "protective theory" in criminal law, "affirms that the primary function of
punishment is the protective (sic) of society against actual and potential wrongdoers." It is not clear
whether petitioner could be considered as having actually committed the wrong sought to be
punished in the offense charged, but on the other hand, it can be safely said that the actuations of
Mrs. Carolina Teng amount to that of potential wrongdoers whose operations should also be clipped
at some point in time in order that the unwary public will not be failing prey to such a vicious
transaction (Aquino, The Revised Penal Code, 1987 Edition, Vol. I, P. 11)
Corollary to the above view, is the application of the theory that "criminal law is founded upon that
moral disapprobation . . . of actions which are immoral, i.e., which are detrimental (or dangerous) to
those conditions upon which depend the existence and progress of human society. This
disappropriation is inevitable to the extent that morality is generally founded and built upon a certain
concurrence in the moral opinions of all. . . . That which we call punishment is only an external
means of emphasizing moral disapprobation the method of punishment is in reality the amount of
punishment," (Ibid., P. 11, citing People v. Roldan Zaballero, CA 54 O.G. 6904, Note also Justice
Pablo's view in People v. Piosca and Peremne, 86 Phil. 31).
Thus, it behooves upon a court of law that in applying the punishment imposed upon the accused,
the objective of retribution of a wronged society, should be directed against the "actual and potential
wrongdoers." In the instant case, there is no doubt that petitioner's four (4) checks were used to
collateralize an accommodation, and not to cover the receipt of an actual "account or credit for

value" as this was absent, and therefore petitioner should not be punished for mere issuance of the
checks in question. Following the aforecited theory, in petitioner's stead the "potential wrongdoer",
whose operation could be a menace to society, should not be glorified by convicting the petitioner.
While in case of doubt, the case should have been resolved in favor of the accused, however, by the
open admission of the appellate court below, oven when the ultimate beneficiary of the "warranty
deposit" is of doubtful certainty, the accused was convicted, as shown below:
Nor do We see any merit in appellant's claim that the obligation of the accused to
complainant had been extinguished by the termination of the leasing agreement
by the terms of which the warranty deposit advanced by complainant was refundable
to the accused as lessee and that as the lessor L.S. Finance neither made any
liquidation of said amount nor returned the same to the accused, it may he assumed
that the amount was already returned to the complainant. For these allegations, even
if true, do not change the fact, admitted by appellant and established by the
evidence, that the four checks were originally issued on account or for value. And as
We have already observed, in order that there may be a conviction under the from
paragraph of Section 2 of B.P. Blg 22 with respect to the element of said offense
that the check should have been made and issued on account or for value it is
sufficient, all the other elements of the offense being present, that the check must
have been drawn and issued in payment of an obligation.
Moreover, even granting, arguendo, that the extinguishment, after the issuance of the
checks, of the obligation in consideration of which the checks were issued, would
have resulted in placing the case at bar beyond the purview of the prohibition in
Section 1 of BP Blg. 22, there is no satisfactory proof that there was such an
extinguishment in the present case. Appellee aptly points out that appellant had not
adduced any direct evidence to prove that the amount advanced by the complainant
to cover the warranty deposit must already have been returned to her. (Rollo, p. 30)
It is indubitable that the respondent Court of Appeals even disregarded the cardinal rule that the
accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. On the contrary, the
same court even expected the petitioner-appellant to adduce evidence to show that he was not guilty
of the crime charged. But how can be produce documents showing that the warranty deposit has
already been taken back by Mrs. Teng when she is an officer of Mancor which has interest in the
transaction, besides being personally interested in the profit of her side-line. Thus, even if she may
have gotten back the value of the accommodation, she would still pursue collecting from the
petitioner since she had in her possession the checks that "bounced".
That the court a quo merely relied on the law, without looking into the real nature of the warranty
deposit is evident from the following pronouncement:
And the trail court concluded that there is no question that the accused violated BP
Blg. 22, which is a special statutory law, violations of which are mala prohibita. The
court relied on the rule that in cases of mala prohibita, the only inquiry is whether or
not the law had been violated, proof of criminal intent not being necessary for the
conviction of the accused, the acts being prohibited for reasons of public policy and
the defenses of good faith and absence of criminal intent being unavailing in
prosecutions for said offenses." (Ibid., p. 26)

The crux of the matter rests upon the reason for the drawing of the postdated checks by the
petitioner, i.e.,whether they were drawn or issued "to apply on account or for value", as required
under Section 1 of B.P. Blg, 22. When viewed against the following definitions of the catch-terms
"warranty" and "deposit", for which the postdated checks were issued or drawn, all the more, the
alleged crime could not have been committed by petitioner:
a) Warranty A promise that a proposition of fact is true. A promise that certain facts
are truly as they are represented to be and that they will remain so: . . . (Black's Law
Dictionary, Fifth Edition, (1979) p. 1423)
A cross-reference to the following term shows:
Fitness for Particular Purpose:
Where the seller at the time of contracting has reason to know any particular purpose
for which the goods are required and that the buyer is relying on the seller's skill or
judgment to select or furnish suitable goods, there is, unless excluded or modified,
an implied warranty that the goods shall be fit for such purpose, (Ibid., p. 573)
b) Deposit: Money lodged with a person as an earnest or security for the
performance of some contract, to be forfeited if the depositor fails in his undertaking.
It may be deemed to be part payment and to that extent may constitute the
purchaser the actual owner of the estate.
To commit to custody, or to lay down; to place; to put. To lodge for safe- keeping or
as a pledge to intrust to the care of another.
The act of placing money in the custody of a bank or banker, for safety or
convenience, to be withdrawn at the will of the depositor or under rules and
regulations agreed on. Also, the money so deposited, or the credit which the
depositor receives for it. Deposit, according to its commonly accepted and generally
understood among bankers and by the public, includes not only deposits payable on
demand and for which certificates, whether interest-bearing or not, may be issued,
payable on demand, or on certain notice or at a fixed future time. (Ibid., pp. 394-395)
Furthermore, the element of "knowing at the time of issue that he does not have sufficient funds in or
credit with the drawee bank for the payment of such check in full upon its presentment, which check
is subsequently dishonored by the drawee bank for insufficiency of funds or credit or would have
been dishonored for the same reason . . . is inversely applied in this case. From the very beginning,
petitioner never hid the fact that he did not have the funds with which to put up the warranty deposit
and as a matter of fact, he openly intimated this to the vital conduit of the transaction, Joey Gomez,
to whom petitioner was introduced by Mrs. Teng. It would have been different if this predicament was
not communicated to all the parties he dealt with regarding the lease agreement the financing of
which was covered by L.S. Finance Management.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is REVERSED and the accused-petitioner is hereby
ACQUITTED of the crime charged.
SO ORDERED.

Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.


Narvasa, C.J.,, concurs in the result.
Nocon, J., is on leave.

Footnotes
* Penned by Associate Justice Lorna S. Lombos-De La Fuente and concurred in by
Associate Justices Jesus M. Elbinias and Luis L. Victor.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 167011

April 30, 2008

SPOUSES CARLOS S. ROMUALDEZ and ERLINDA R. ROMUALDEZ, petitioners,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and DENNIS GARAY, respondents.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This treats of the Petition for Review on Certiorari with a prayer for the issuance of a Temporary
Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction filed by petitioners Spouses Carlos S.
Romualdez and Erlinda R. Romualdez seeking to annul and set aside the Resolutions, dated 11
June 20041 and 27 January 20052 of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in E.O. Case No.
2000-36. In the Resolution of 11 June 2004, the COMELEC En Banc directed the Law Department to
file the appropriate Information with the proper court against petitioners Carlos S. Romualdez and
Erlinda Romualdez for violation of Section 10(g) and (j) 3 in relation to Section 45(j)4 of Republic Act
No. 8189, otherwise known as The Voters Registration Act of 1996. 5 Petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration thereon was denied.
The factual antecedents leading to the instant Petition are presented hereunder:
On 12 July 2000, private respondent Dennis Garay, along with Angelino Apostol 6 filed a ComplaintAffidavit7 with the COMELEC thru the Office of the Election Officer in Burauen, Leyte, charging
petitioners with violation of Section 261(y)(2)8 and Section 261(y)(5)9 of the Omnibus Election Code,
similarly referred to as Batas Pambansa Blg. 881; and Section 1210 of Republic Act No. 8189.
Private respondent deposed, inter alia, that: petitioners are of legal ages and residents of 113
Mariposa Loop, Mariposa Street, Bagong Lipunan ng Crame, Quezon City; on 9 May 2000 and 11

May 2000, petitioners Carlos S. Romualdez and Erlinda R. Romualdez, applied for registration as
new voters with the Office of the Election Officer of Burauen, Leyte, as evidenced by Voter
Registration Record Nos. 42454095 and 07902952, respectively; in their sworn applications,
petitioners made false and untruthful representations in violation of Section 10 11 of Republic Act Nos.
8189, by indicating therein that they are residents of 935 San Jose Street, Burauen, Leyte, when in
truth and in fact, they were and still are residents of 113 Mariposa Loop, Mariposa Street, Bagong
Lipunan ng Crame, Quezon City, and registered voters of Barangay Bagong Lipunan ng Crame,
District IV, Quezon City, Precinct No. 4419-A, as evidenced by Voter Registration Record Nos.
26195824 and 26195823; and that petitioners, knowing fully well said truth, intentionally and willfully,
did not fill the blank spaces in said applications corresponding to the length of time which they have
resided in Burauen, Leyte. In fine, private respondent charged petitioners, to wit:
Respondent-spouses, Carlos Sison Romualdez and Erlinda Reyes Romualdez committed
and consummated election offenses in violation of our election laws, specifically, Sec. 261,
paragraph (y), subparagraph (2), for knowingly making any false or untruthful statements
relative to any data or information required in the application for registration, and of Sec. 261,
paragraph (y), subparagraph (5), committed by any person who, being a registered voter,
registers anew without filing an application for cancellation of his previous registration, both
of the Omnibus Election Code (BP Blg. 881), and of Sec. 12, RA 8189 (Voter Registration
Act) for failure to apply for transfer of registration records due to change of residence to
another city or municipality."12
The Complaint-Affidavit contained a prayer that a preliminary investigation be conducted by the
COMELEC, and if the evidence so warrants, the corresponding Information against petitioners be
filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) for the prosecution of the same.
Petitioners filed a Joint Counter-Affidavit with Motion to Dismiss 13 dated 2 April 2001. They
contended therein that they did not make any false or untruthful statements in their application for
registration. They avowed that they intended to reside in Burauen, Leyte, since the year 1989. On 9
May 2000, they took actual residence in Burauen, Leyte, by leasing for five (5) years, the house of
Juanito and Fe Renomeron at No. 935, San Jose Street in Burauen, Leyte. On even date, the
Barangay District III Council of Burauen passed a Resolution of Welcome, expressing therein its
gratitude and appreciation to petitioner Carlos S. Romualdez for choosing the Barangay as his
official residence.14
On 28 November 2003, Atty. Maria Norina S. Tangaro-Casingal, COMELEC Investigating Officer,
issued a Resolution, recommending to the COMELEC Law Department (Investigation and
Prosecution Division), the filing of the appropriate Information against petitioners, disposing, thus:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Law Department (Investigation and Prosecution Division),
RECOMMENDS to file the necessary information against Carlos Sison Romualdez before
the proper Regional Trial Court for violation of Section 10 (g) and (j) in relation to Section 45
(j) of Republic Act 8189 and to authorize the Director IV of the Law Department to designate
a Comelec Prosecutor to handle the prosecution of the case with the duty to submit periodic
report after every hearing of the case.15
On 11 June 2004, the COMELEC En Banc found no reason to depart from the recommendatory
Resolution of 28 November 2003, and ordered, viz:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Law Department is hereby directed to file the
appropriate information with the proper court against respondents CARLOS S. ROMUALDEZ
AND ERLINDA ROMUALDEZ for violation of Section 10 (g) and (j) in relation to Section 45
(j) of the Republic Act No. 8189.16
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereon.
Acting on the Motion, the COMELEC found no cogent reason to disturb the assailed En
Banc Resolution of 11 June 2004,17 rationalizing, thus:
However, perusal of the records reveal (sic) that the arguments and issues raised in the
Motion for Reconsideration are merely a rehash of the arguments advanced by the
Respondents in [their] Memorandum received by the Law Department on 17 April 2001, the
same [w]as already considered by the Investigating Officer and was discussed in her
recommendation which eventually was made as the basis for the En Bancs resolution.
As aptly observed by the Investigating Officer, the filing of request for the cancellation and
transfer of Voting Registration Record does not automatically cancel the registration records.
The fact remains that at the time of application for registration as new voter of the herein
Respondents on May 9 and 11, 2001 in the Office of Election Officer of Burauen, Leyte their
registration in Barangay 4419-A, Barangay Bagong Lipunan ng Crame Quezon City was still
valid and subsisting.18
On 12 January 2006, Alioden D. Dalaig, Director IV, Law Department of the COMELEC filed with the
RTC, Burauen, Leyte, separate Informations against petitioner Carlos S. Romualdez 19 for violation of
Section 10(g), in relation to Section 45(j) of Republic Act No. 8189, and against petitioner Erlinda R.
Romualdez20 for violation of Section 10(g), in relation to Section 45(j) of Republic Act No. 8189,
subsequently docketed as Crim. Case No. BN-06-03-4185 and Crim. Case No. BN-06-03-4183,
respectively. Moreover, separate Informations for violation of Section 10(j), in relation to Section 45(j)
of Republic Act No. 8189 were filed against petitioners. 21
Hence, petitioners come to us via the instant Petition, submitting the following arguments:
I
RESPONDENT COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF OR IN EXCESS OF ITS JURISDICTION; and
II
COMELEC GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT PREMISED ITS RESOLUTION
ON A MISAPPREHENSION OF FACTS AND FAILED TO CONSIDER CERTAIN RELEVANT
FACTS THAT WOULD JUSTIFY A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION.22
On 4 May 2006, petitioners filed a Motion Reiterating Prayer for Issuance of Writ of Preliminary
Injunction and to Cite for Indirect Contempt,23 alleging that two separate Informations, both dated 12
January 2006, were filed with the RTC by the COMELEC against petitioner Carlos S. Romualdez for
violation of Section 10(j), in relation to Section 45(j) of Republic Act No. 8189, in Criminal Case No.

BN-06-03-9184; and for violation of Section 10(g), in relation to Section 45(j) of Republic Act No.
8189, in Criminal Case No. BN-06-03-9185. Similarly, the Motion alleged that the COMELEC filed
with the RTC, two separate Informations, both dated 12 January 2006, against petitioner Erlinda R.
Romualdez, charging her with the same offenses as those charged against petitioner Carlos S.
Romualdez, and thereafter, docketed as Criminal Case No. BN-06-03-9182, and No. BN-06-039183.
On 20 June 2006, this Court issued a Resolution24 denying for lack of merit petitioners Motion
Reiterating Prayer for Issuance of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and to Cite for Indirect Contempt.
We shall now resolve, in seriatim, the arguments raised by petitioners.
Petitioners contend that the election offenses for which they are charged by private respondent are
entirely different from those which they stand to be accused of before the RTC by the COMELEC.
According to petitioners, private respondents complaint charged them for allegedly violating, to wit:
1) Section 261(y)(2) and Section 261(y)(5) of the Omnibus Election Code, and 2) Section 12 of the
Voters Registration Act; however, the COMELEC En Banc directed in the assailed Resolutions, that
they be charged for violations of Section 10(g) and (j), in relation to Section 45(j) of the Voters
Registration Act. Essentially, petitioners are of the view that they were not accorded due process of
law. Specifically, their right to refute or submit documentary evidence against the new charges which
COMELEC ordered to be filed against them. Moreover, petitioners insist that Section 45(j) of the
Voters Registration Act is vague as it does not refer to a definite provision of the law, the violation of
which would constitute an election offense; hence, it runs contrary to Section 14(1) 25 and Section
14(2),26 Article III of the 1987 Constitution.
We are not persuaded.
First. The Complaint-Affidavit filed by private respondent with the COMELEC is couched in a
language which embraces the allegations necessary to support the charge for violation of Section
10(g) and (j), in relation to Section 45(j) of Republic Act No. 8189.
A reading of the relevant laws is in order, thus:
Section 10(g) and Section 10(j) of Republic Act No. 8189, provide as follows:
SEC. 10 Registration of Voters. - A qualified voter shall be registered in the permanent list
of voters in a precinct of the city or municipality wherein he resides to be able to vote in any
election. To register as a voter, he shall personally accomplish an application form for
registration as prescribed by the Commission in three (3) copies before the Election Officer
on any date during office hours after having acquired the qualifications of a voter.
The application shall contain the following data:
xxxx
(g) Periods of residence in the Philippines and in the place of registration;
xxxx

(j) A statement that the application is not a registered voter of any precinct;
The application for registration shall contain three (3) specimen signatures of the applicant,
clear and legible rolled prints of his left and right thumbprints, with four identification size
copies of his latest photograph, attached thereto, to be taken at the expense of the
Commission.
Before the applicant accomplishes his application for registration, the Election Officer shall
inform him of the qualifications and disqualifications prescribed by law for a voter, and
thereafter, see to it that the accomplished application contains all the data therein required
and that the applicants specimen signatures, fingerprints, and photographs are properly
affixed in all copies of the voters application.
Moreover, Section 45(j) of the same Act, recites, thus:
SEC. 45. Election Offense. The following shall be considered election offenses under this
Act:
xxxx
(j) Violation of any of the provisions of this Act.
Significantly, the allegations in the Complaint-Affidavit which was filed with the Law Department of
the COMELEC, support the charge directed by the COMELEC En Banc to be filed against
petitioners with the RTC. Even a mere perusal of the Complaint-Affidavit would readily show that
Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8189 was specifically mentioned therein. On the matter of the acts
covered by Section 10(g) and (j), the Complaint-Affidavit, spells out the following allegations, to wit:
5. Respondent-spouses made false and untruthful representations in their applications
(Annexes "B" and "C") in violation of the requirements of Section 10, RA 8189 (The Voters
Registration Act):
5.1 Respondent-spouses, in their sworn applications (Annexes "B" and "C", claimed
to be residents of 935 San Jose [S]treet, Burauen, Leyte, when in truth and in fact,
they were and still are residents of 113 Mariposa Loop, Mariposa [S]treet, Bagong
Lipunan ng Crame, Quezon City and registered voters of Barangay Bagong Lipunan
ng Crame, District IV, Quezon City, Precinct No. 4419-A, a copy of the Certification
issued by Hon. Emmanuel V. Gozon, Punong Barangay, Bagong Lipunan ng Crame,
Quezon City is hereto attached and made an integral part hereof, as Annex "D";
5.2 Respondent-spouses knowing fully well said truth, intentionally and willfully, did
not fill the blank spaces in their applications (Annexes "B" and "C") corresponding to
the length of time they have resided in Burauen, Leyte;
6. Respondent-spouses, in (sic) all intents and purposes, were and still are residents and
registered voters of Quezon City, as evidenced by Voter Registration Record Nos. 26195824
and 26195823, respectively; photocopies of which are hereto attached as Annexes "E" and
"F"[.] Likewise, attached is a "Certification" (Annex "G") of Ms. Evelyn B. Bautista, Officer-in-

Charge of the Office of the Election Officer, Fourth District, Quezon City, dated May 31, 2000,
together with a certified copy of the computer print-out of the list of voters of Precinct No.
4419-A (Annex "G-1" ) containing the names of voters Carlos Romualdez and Erlinda Reyes
Romualdez. The Certification reads as follows:
"THIS IS TO CERTIFY that as per office record MR. CARLOS ROMUALDEZ and
MS. ERLINDA REYES ROMUALDEZ are registered voters of Barangay Bagong
Lipunan ng Crame, District IV, Quezon City, Precinct Number 4419A with voters
affidavit serial nos. 26195824 and 26195823, respectively.
This certification is issued for whatever legal purpose it may serve."
7. Respondent-spouses, registered as new voters of the Municipality of Burauen, Leyte, [in
spite of] the fact that they were and still are, registered voters of Quezon City as early as
June 22, 1997;
7.1 That, Double Registration is an election offense.
A person qualified as a voter is only allowed to register once.
If a person registers anew as a voter in spite of a subsisting registration, the new
application for registration will be disapproved. The registrant is also liable not only
for an election offense of double registration, but also for another election offense of
knowingly making any false or untruthful statement relative to any data or information
required in the application for registration.
In fact, when a person applies for registration as a voter, he or she fills up a Voter
Registration Record form in his or her own handwriting, which contains a Certification
which reads:
"I do solemnly swear that the above statements regarding my person are true and
correct; that I possess all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications of a
voter; that the thumbprints, specimen signatures and photographs appearing herein
are mine; and that I am not registered as a voter in any other precinct."27
Petitioners cannot be said to have been denied due process on the claim that the election offenses
charged against them by private respondent are entirely different from those for which they stand to
be accused of before the RTC, as charged by the COMELEC. In the first place, there appears to be
no incongruity between the charges as contained in the Complaint-Affidavit and the Informations
filed before the RTC, notwithstanding the denomination by private respondent of the alleged
violations to be covered by Section 261(y)(2) and Section 261(y)(5) of the Omnibus Election Code
and Section 12 of Republic Act No. 8189. Evidently, the Informations directed to be filed by the
COMELEC against petitioners, and which were, in fact, filed with the RTC, were based on the same
set of facts as originally alleged in the private respondents Complaint-Affidavit.
Petitioners buttress their claim of lack of due process by relying on the case of Lacson v. Executive
Secretary.28Citing Lacson, petitioners argue that the real nature of the criminal charge is determined
by the actual recital of facts in the Complaint or Information; and that the object of such written
accusations was to furnish the accused with such a description of the charge against him, as will

enable him to make his defense. Let it be said that, inLacson, this court resolved the issue of
whether under the allegations in the subject Informations therein, it is the Sandiganbayan or the
Regional Trial Court which has jurisdiction over the multiple murder case against therein petitioner
and intervenors. In Lacson, we underscored the elementary rule that the jurisdiction of a court is
determined by the allegations in the Complaint or Information, and not by the evidence presented by
the parties at the trial.29 Indeed, in Lacson, we articulated that the real nature of the criminal charge
is determined not from the caption or preamble of the Information nor from the specification of the
provision of law alleged to have been violated, they being conclusions of law, but by the actual recital
of facts in the Complaint or Information.30
Petitioners reliance on Lacson, however, does not support their claim of lack of due process
because, as we have said, the charges contained in private respondents Complaint-Affidavit and the
charges as directed by the COMELEC to be filed are based on the same set of facts. In fact, the
nature of the criminal charges in private respondents Complaint-Affidavit and that of the charges
contained in the Informations filed with the RTC, pursuant to the COMELEC Resolution En Banc are
the same, such that, petitioners cannot claim that they were not able to refute or submit
documentary evidence against the charges that the COMELEC filed with the RTC. Petitioners were
afforded due process because they were granted the opportunity to refute the allegations in private
respondents Complaint-Affidavit. On 2 April 2001, in opposition to the Complaint-Affidavit,
petitioners filed a Joint Counter-Affidavit with Motion to Dismiss with the Law Department of the
COMELEC. They similarly filed a Memorandum before the said body. Finding that due process was
not dispensed with under the circumstances in the case at bar, we agree with the stance of the
Office of the Solicitor General that petitioners were reasonably apprised of the nature and
description of the charges against them. It likewise bears stressing that preliminary investigations
were conducted whereby petitioners were informed of the complaint and of the evidence submitted
against them. They were given the opportunity to adduce controverting evidence for their defense. In
all these stages, petitioners actively participated.
The instant case calls to our minds Orquinaza v. People,31 wherein the concerned police officer
therein designated the offense charged as sexual harassment; but, the prosecutor found that there
was no transgression of the anti-sexual harassment law, and instead, filed an Information charging
therein petitioner with acts of lasciviousness. On a claim that there was deprivation of due process,
therein petitioner argued that the Information for acts of lasciviousness was void as the preliminary
investigation conducted was for sexual harassment. The court held that the designation by the police
officer of the offense is not conclusive as it is within the competence of the prosecutor to assess the
evidence submitted and determine therefrom the appropriate offense to be charged.
Accordingly, the court pronounced that the complaint contained all the allegations to support the
charge of acts of lasciviousness under the Revised Penal Code; hence, the conduct of another
preliminary investigation for the offense of acts of lasciviousness would be a futile exercise because
the complainant would only be presenting the same facts and evidence which have already been
studied by the prosecutor.32 The court frowns upon such superfluity which only serves to delay the
prosecution and disposition of the criminal complaint.33
Second. Petitioners would have this court declare Section 45(j) of Republic Act No. 8189 vague, on
the ground that it contravenes the fair notice requirement of the 1987 Constitution, in particular,
Section 14(1) and Section 14(2), Article III of thereof. Petitioners submit that Section 45(j) of
Republic Act No. 8189 makes no reference to a definite provision of the law, the violation of which
would constitute an election offense.

We are not convinced.


The void-for-vagueness doctrine holds that a law is facially invalid if men of common intelligence
must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. 34 However, this Court has
imposed certain limitations by which a criminal statute, as in the challenged law at bar, may be
scrutinized. This Court has declared that facial invalidation35 or an "on-its-face" invalidation of
criminal statutes is not appropriate.36 We have so enunciated in no uncertain terms in Romualdez v.
Sandiganbayan, 37 thus:
In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools
developed for testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in
American law, First Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is
involved is a criminal statute. With respect to such statute, the established rule is that 'one to
whom application of a statute is constitutional will not be heard to attack the statute on the
ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to other persons or other situations in
which its application might be unconstitutional.' As has been pointed out, 'vagueness
challenges in the First Amendment context, like overbreadth challenges typically produce
facial invalidation, while statutes found vague as a matter of due process typically are
invalidated [only] 'as applied' to a particular defendant.'" (underscoring supplied)
"To this date, the Court has not declared any penal law unconstitutional on the ground of
ambiguity." While mentioned in passing in some cases, the void-for-vagueness concept has
yet to find direct application in our jurisdiction. In Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad, the Bookkeeping
Act was found unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause, not because it
was vague. Adiong v. Comelec decreed as void a mere Comelec Resolution, not a statute.
Finally, Santiago v. Comelec held that a portion of RA 6735 was unconstitutional because of
undue delegation of legislative powers, not because of vagueness.
Indeed, an "on-its-face" invalidation of criminal statutes would result in a mass
acquittal of parties whose cases may not have even reached the courts. Such
invalidation would constitute a departure from the usual requirement of "actual case
and controversy" and permit decisions to be made in a sterile abstract context having
no factual concreteness. In Younger v. Harris, this evil was aptly pointed out by the U.S.
Supreme Court in these words:
"[T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring
correction of these deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an
appropriate task for the judiciary. The combination of the relative remoteness of the
controversy, the impact on the legislative process of the relief sought, and above all the
speculative and amorphous nature of the required line-by-line analysis of detailed statutes, x
x x ordinarily results in a kind of case that is wholly unsatisfactory for deciding constitutional
questions, whichever way they might be decided."
For this reason, generally disfavored is an on-its-face invalidation of statutes,
described as a "manifestly strong medicine" to be employed "sparingly and only as a
last resort." In determining the constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions
that have allegedly been violated must be examined in the light of the conduct with
which the defendant has been charged. (Emphasis supplied.)

At the outset, we declare that under these terms, the opinions of the dissent which seek to bring to
the fore the purported ambiguities of a long list of provisions in Republic Act No. 8189 can be
deemed as a facial challenge. An appropriate "as applied" challenge in the instant Petition should be
limited only to Section 45 (j) in relation to Sections 10 (g) and (j) of Republic Act No. 8189the
provisions upon which petitioners are charged. An expanded examination of the law covering
provisions which are alien to petitioners case would be antagonistic to the rudiment that for judicial
review to be exercised, there must be an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for
determination, and not conjectural or anticipatory.
We further quote the relevant ruling in David v. Arroyo on the proscription anent a facial challenge:38
Moreover, the overbreadth doctrine is not intended for testing the validity of a law that
"reflects legitimate state interest in maintaining comprehensive control over harmful,
constitutionally unprotected conduct." Undoubtedly, lawless violence, insurrection and
rebellion are considered "harmful" and "constitutionally unprotected conduct." In Broadrick v.
Oklahoma, it was held:
It remains a matter of no little difficulty to determine when a law may properly be held void on
its face and when such summary action is inappropriate. But the plain import of our cases
is, at the very least, that facial overbreadth adjudication is an exception to our
traditional rules of practice and that its function, a limited one at the outset, attenuates
as the otherwise unprotected behavior that it forbids the State to sanction moves from
pure speech toward conduct and that conduct even if expressive falls within the scope
of otherwise valid criminal laws that reflect legitimate state interests in maintaining
comprehensive controls over harmful, constitutionally unprotected conduct.
Thus, claims of facial overbreadth are entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their
terms, seek to regulate only "spoken words" and again, that "overbreadth claims, if
entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws
that are sought to be applied to protected conduct." Here, the incontrovertible fact
remains that PP 1017 pertains to a spectrum of conduct, not free speech, which is
manifestly subject to state regulation.
Second, facial invalidation of laws is considered as "manifestly strong medicine," to be
used "sparingly and only as a last resort," and is "generally disfavored;" The reason for
this is obvious. Embedded in the traditional rules governing constitutional adjudication is the
principle that a person to whom a law may be applied will not be heard to challenge a law on
the ground that it may conceivably be applied unconstitutionally to others, i.e., in other
situations not before the Court. A writer and scholar in Constitutional Law explains further:
The most distinctive feature of the overbreadth technique is that it marks an exception
to some of the usual rules of constitutional litigation. Ordinarily, a particular litigant
claims that a statute is unconstitutional as applied to him or her; if the litigant
prevails, the courts carve away the unconstitutional aspects of the law by invalidating
its improper applications on a case to case basis. Moreover, challengers to a law are
not permitted to raise the rights of third parties and can only assert their own
interests. In overbreadth analysis, those rules give way; challenges are permitted to
raise the rights of third parties; and the court invalidates the entire statute "on its face," not
merely "as applied for" so that the overbroad law becomes unenforceable until a properly

authorized court construes it more narrowly. The factor that motivates courts to depart from
the normal adjudicatory rules is the concern with the "chilling;" deterrent effect of the
overbroad statute on third parties not courageous enough to bring suit. The Court assumes
that an overbroad laws "very existence may cause others not before the court to refrain from
constitutionally protected speech or expression." An overbreadth ruling is designed to
remove that deterrent effect on the speech of those third parties.
In other words, a facial challenge using the overbreadth doctrine will require the Court to
examine PP 1017 and pinpoint its flaws and defects, not on the basis of its actual operation
to petitioners, but on the assumption or prediction that its very existence may cause others
not before the Court to refrain from constitutionally protected speech or expression.
Xxx xxx xxx
And third, a facial challenge on the ground of overbreadth is the most difficult challenge to
mount successfully, since the challenger must establish that there can be no instance
when the assailed law may be valid. Here, petitioners did not even attempt to show
whether this situation exists.
Petitioners likewise seek a facial review of PP 1017 on the ground of vagueness. This, too, is
unwarranted.
Related to the "overbreadth" doctrine is the "void for vagueness doctrine" which holds that "a
law is facially invalid if men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its
meaning and differ as to its application." It is subject to the same principles governing
overbreadth doctrine. For one, it is also an analytical tool for testing "on their faces" statutes
in free speech cases. And like overbreadth, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute
on its face only if it is vague in all its possible applications.
Be that as it may, the test in determining whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is whether
the language conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by
common understanding and practice.39 This Court has similarly stressed that the vagueness doctrine
merely requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld - not absolute precision
or mathematical exactitude.40
As structured, Section 4541 of Republic Act No. 8189 makes a recital of election offenses under the
same Act. Section 45(j) is, without doubt, crystal in its specification that a violation of any of the
provisions of Republic Act No. 8189 is an election offense. The language of Section 45(j) is precise.
The challenged provision renders itself to no other interpretation. A reading of the challenged
provision involves no guesswork. We do not see herein an uncertainty that makes the same vague.
Notably, herein petitioners do not cite a word in the challenged provision, the import or meaning of
which they do not understand. This is in stark contrast to the case of Estrada v.
Sandiganbayan42 where therein petitioner sought for statutory definition of particular words in the
challenged statute. Even then, the Court in Estrada rejected the argument.
This Court reasoned:

The rationalization seems to us to be pure sophistry. A statute is not rendered uncertain


and void merely because general terms are used therein, or because of the
employment of terms without defining them; much less do we have to define every
word we use. Besides, there is no positive constitutional or statutory command
requiring the legislature to define each and every word in an enactment. Congress is
not restricted in the form of expression of its will, and its inability to so define the words
employed in a statute will not necessarily result in the vagueness or ambiguity of the law so
long as the legislative will is clear, or at least, can be gathered from the whole act, which is
distinctly expressed in the Plunder Law."
Moreover, it is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will
be interpreted in their natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification, unless
it is evident that the legislature intended a technical or special legal meaning to those
words. The intention of the lawmakers who are, ordinarily, untrained philologists and
lexicographers to use statutory phraseology in such a manner is always presumed.
Perforce, this Court has underlined that an act will not be held invalid merely because it might have
been more explicit in its wordings or detailed in its provisions, especially where, because of the
nature of the act, it would be impossible to provide all the details in advance as in all other statutes. 43
The evident intent of the legislature in including in the catena of election offenses the violation of any
of the provisions of Republic Act No. 8189, is to subsume as punishable, not only the commission of
proscribed acts, but also the omission of acts enjoined to be observed. On this score, the declared
policy of Republic Act No. 8189 is illuminating. The law articulates the policy of the State to
systematize the present method of registration in order to establish a clean, complete, permanent
and updated list of voters. A reading of Section 45 (j) conjointly with the provisions upon which
petitioners are charged, i.e., Sections 10 (g) and (j) would reveal that the matters that are required to
be set forth under the aforesaid sections are crucial to the achievement of a clean, complete,
permanent and updated list of voters. The factual information required by the law is sought not for
mere embellishment.
There is a definitive governmental purpose when the law requires that such facts should be set forth
in the application. The periods of residence in the Philippines and in the place of registration delve
into the matter of residency, a requisite which a voter must satisfy to be deemed a qualified voter
and registered in the permanent list of voters in a precinct of the city or municipality wherein he
resides. Of even rationality exists in the case of the requirement in Section 10 (j), mandating that the
applicant should state that he/she is not a registered voter of any precinct. Multiple voting by socalled flying voters are glaring anomalies which this country strives to defeat. The requirement that
such facts as required by Section 10 (g) and Section 10 (j) be stated in the voters application form
for registration is directly relevant to the right of suffrage, which the State has the right to regulate.
It is the opportune time to allude to the case of People v. Gatchalian44 where the therein assailed law
contains a similar provision as herein assailed before us. Republic Act No. 602 also penalizes any
person who willfully violates any of the provisions of the Act. The Court dismissed the challenged,
and declared the provision constitutional. The Court in Gatchalian read the challenged provision,
"any of the provisions of this [A]ct" conjointly with Section 3 thereof which was the pertinent portion
of the law upon which therein accused was prosecuted. Gatchalian considered the terms as allembracing; hence, the same must include what is enjoined in Section 3 thereof which embodies the
very fundamental purpose for which the law has been adopted. This Court ruled that the law by

legislative fiat intends to punish not only those expressly declared unlawful but even those not so
declared but are clearly enjoined to be observed to carry out the fundamental purpose of the
law.45 Gatchalian remains good law, and stands unchallenged.
It also does not escape the mind of this Court that the phraseology in Section 45(j) is employed by
Congress in a number of our laws.46 These provisions have not been declared unconstitutional.
Moreover, every statute has in its favor the presumption of validity.47 To justify its nullification, there
must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, and not one that is doubtful, speculative
or argumentative.48We hold that petitioners failed to overcome the heavy presumption in favor of the
law. Its constitutionality must be upheld in the absence of substantial grounds for overthrowing the
same.
A salient point. Courts will refrain from touching upon the issue of constitutionality unless it is truly
unavoidable and is the very lis mota. In the case at bar, the lis mota is the alleged grave abuse of
discretion of the COMELEC in finding probable cause for the filing of criminal charges against
petitioners.
Third. Petitioners maintain that the COMELEC En Banc, premised its finding on a misapprehension
of facts, and committed grave abuse of discretion in directing the filing of Informations against them
with the RTC.
We are once again unimpressed.
The constitutional grant of prosecutorial power in the COMELEC finds statutory expression under
Section 26549of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code. 50 The
task of the COMELEC whenever any election offense charge is filed before it is to conduct the
preliminary investigation of the case, and make a determination of probable cause. Under Section
8(b), Rule 34 of the COMELEC Rules of Procedure, the investigating officer makes a determination
of whether there is a reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed. 51 In Baytan v.
COMELEC,52 this Court, sufficiently elucidated on the matter of probable cause in the prosecution of
election offenses, viz:
It is also well-settled that the finding of probable cause in the prosecution of election offenses
rests in the COMELEC's sound discretion. The COMELEC exercises the constitutional
authority to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute cases for violation of election
laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offense and malpractices.
Generally, the Court will not interfere with such finding of the COMELEC absent a clear
showing of grave abuse of discretion. This principle emanates from the COMELEC's
exclusive power to conduct preliminary investigation of all election offenses punishable under
the election laws and to prosecute the same, except as may otherwise be provided by law.53
It is succinct that courts will not substitute the finding of probable cause by the COMELEC in
the absence of grave abuse of discretion. The abuse of discretion must be so patent and
gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty
enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law as where the power is exercised in an
arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility.54

According to the COMELEC En Banc, the investigating officer, in the case at bar, held that there was
sufficient cause for the filing of criminal charges against petitioners, and found no reason to depart
therefrom. Without question, on May 9 and 11 of 2001, petitioners applied for registration as new
voters with the Office of the Election Officer of Burauen, Leyte, notwithstanding the existence of
petitioners registration records as registered voters of Precinct No. 4419-A of Barangay Bagong
Lipunan ng Crame, District IV, Quezon City. The directive by the COMELEC which affirmed the
Resolution55 of 28 November 2000 of Investigating Officer Atty. Tangaro-Casingal does not appear to
be wanting in factual basis, such that a reasonably prudent man would conclude that there exists
probable cause to hold petitioners for trial. Thus, in the aforesaid Resolution, the Investigating
Officer, found:
A violation therefore of Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8189 is an election offense.
In the instant case, when respondents Carlos Romualdez and Erlinda Romualdez filed their
respective applications for registration as new voters with the Office of the Election Officer of
Burauen, Leyte on May 9 and 11, 2001, respectively, they stated under oath that they are not
registered voters in other precinct (VRR Nos. 42454095 and 07902941). However, contrary
to their statements, records show they are still registered voters of Precinct No. 4419-A,
barangay Bagong Lipunan ng Crame, District IV, Quezon City, as per VRR Nos. 26195825
and 26195823. In other words, respondents registration records in Quezon City is (sic) still
in existence.
While it may be true that respondents had written the City Election Officer of District IV,
Quezon City for cancellation of their voters registration record as voters (sic) therein, they
cannot presume that the same will be favorably acted upon. Besides, RA 8189 provides for
the procedure in cases of transfer of residence to another city/municipality which must be
complied with, to wit:
"Section 12. Change of Residence to Another City or Municipality. Any registered voter who
has transferred residence to another city or municipality may apply with the Election Officer
of his new residence for the transfer of his registration records.
The application for transfer of registration shall be subject to the requirements of notice and
hearing and the approval of the Election Registration Board, in accordance with this Act.
Upon approval, of the application for transfer, and after notice of such approval to the
Election Officer of their former residence of the voter, said Election Officer shall transmit by
registered mail the voters registration record to the Election Officer of the voters new
residence."
They cannot claim ignorance of the abovestated provision on the procedure for transfer of
registration records by reason of transferred new residence to another municipality. Based
on the affidavit executed by one Eufemia S. Cotoner, she alleged that the refusal of the
Assistant Election Officer Ms. Estrella Perez to accept the letter of respondents was due to
improper procedure because respondents should have filed the required request for transfer
with the Election Officer of Burauen, Leyte. Despite this knowledge, however, they
proceeded to register as new voters of Burauen, Leyte, notwithstanding the existence of their
previous registrations in Quezon City.

In their subsequent affidavit of Transfer of Voters Registration under Section 12 of Republic


Act 8189, respondents admitted that they erroneously filed an application as a new voter
(sic) with the office of the Election Officer of Burauen, Leyte, by reason of an honest mistake,
which they now desire to correct. (underscoring ours).
Respondents lose sight of the fact that a statutory offense, such as violation of election law,
is mala prohibita. Proof of criminal intent is not necessary. Good faith, ignorance or lack of
malice is beside the point. Commission of the act is sufficient. It is the act itself that is
punished.
xxxx
In view of the foregoing, the Law Department respectfully submits that there is probable
cause to hold respondents Carlos Romualdez and Erlinda Romualdez for trial in violation of
Section 10(g) and (j) in relation to Section 45(j) of Republic Act No. 8189. There is no doubt
that they applied for registration as new voters of Burauen, Leyte consciously, freely and
voluntarily.56
We take occasion to reiterate that the Constitution grants to the COMELEC the power to prosecute
cases or violations of election laws. Article IX (C), Section 2 (6) of the 1987 Constitution, provides:
(6) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative, petitions in court for inclusion or
exclusion of voters; investigate and where appropriate, prosecute cases or violations of
election laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds, offenses, and
malpractices.
This power to prosecute necessarily involves the power to determine who shall be prosecuted, and
the corollary right to decide whom not to prosecute.57 Evidently, must this power to prosecute also
include the right to determine under which laws prosecution will be pursued. The courts cannot
dictate the prosecution nor usurp its discretionary powers. As a rule, courts cannot interfere with the
prosecutors discretion and control of the criminal prosecution.58 Its rationale cannot be doubted. For
the business of a court of justice is to be an impartial tribunal, and not to get involved with the
success or failure of the prosecution to prosecute. 59 Every now and then, the prosecution may err in
the selection of its strategies, but such errors are not for neutral courts to rectify, any more than
courts should correct the blunders of the defense.60
Fourth. In People v. Delgado,61 this Court said that when the COMELEC, through its duly authorized
law officer, conducts the preliminary investigation of an election offense and upon a prima
facie finding of a probable cause, files the Information in the proper court, said court thereby
acquires jurisdiction over the case. Consequently, all the subsequent disposition of said case must
be subject to the approval of the court. The records show that Informations charging petitioners with
violation of Section 10(g) and (j), in relation to Section 45(j) of Republic Act No. 8189 had been filed
with the RTC. The case must, thus, be allowed to take its due course.
It may be recalled that petitioners prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order or Writ
of Preliminary Injunction before this Court to restrain the COMELEC from executing its Resolutions
of 11 June 2004 and 27 January 2005. In a Resolution dated 20 June 2006, this Court En
Banc denied for lack of merit petitioners Motion Reiterating Prayer for Issuance of Writ of

Preliminary Injunction and to Cite for Indirect Contempt. Logically, the normal course of trial is
expected to have continued in the proceedings a quo.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The assailed Resolutions, dated 11 June 2004 and 27
January 2005 of the COMELEC En Banc are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 178552

October 5, 2010

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE ENGAGEMENT NETWORK, INC., on behalf of the South-South


Network (SSN) for Non-State Armed Group Engagement, and ATTY. SOLIMAN M. SANTOS,
JR., Petitioners,
vs.
ANTI-TERRORISM COUNCIL, THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE,
THE SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, THE SECRETARY OF NATIONAL DEFENSE, THE
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, THE SECRETARY OF FINANCE,
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, THE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, AND THE CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 178554
KILUSANG MAYO UNO (KMU), represented by its Chairperson Elmer Labog, NATIONAL
FEDERATION OF LABOR UNIONS-KILUSANG MAYO UNO (NAFLU-KMU), represented by its
National President Joselito V. Ustarez and Secretary General Antonio C. Pascual, and
CENTER FOR TRADE UNION AND HUMAN RIGHTS, represented by its Executive Director
Daisy Arago, Petitioners,
vs.
HON. EDUARDO ERMITA, in his capacity as Executive Secretary, NORBERTO GONZALES, in
his capacity as Acting Secretary of National Defense, HON. RAUL GONZALES, in his capacity
as Secretary of Justice, HON. RONALDO PUNO, in his capacity as Secretary of the Interior
and Local Government, GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, in his capacity as AFP Chief of Staff,
and DIRECTOR GENERAL OSCAR CALDERON, in his capacity as PNP Chief of
Staff, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 178581

BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN (BAYAN), GENERAL ALLIANCE BINDING WOMEN FOR


REFORMS, INTEGRITY, EQUALITY, LEADERSHIP AND ACTION (GABRIELA), KILUSANG
MAGBUBUKID NG PILIPINAS (KMP), MOVEMENT OF CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR CIVIL
LIBERTIES (MCCCL), CONFEDERATION FOR UNITY, RECOGNITION AND ADVANCEMENT OF
GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES (COURAGE), KALIPUNAN NG DAMAYANG MAHIHIRAP
(KADAMAY), SOLIDARITY OF CAVITE WORKERS, LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS (LFS),
ANAKBAYAN, PAMBANSANG LAKAS NG KILUSANG MAMAMALAKAYA (PAMALAKAYA),
ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS (ACT), MIGRANTE, HEALTH ALLIANCE FOR
DEMOCRACY (HEAD), AGHAM, TEOFISTO GUINGONA, JR., DR. BIENVENIDO LUMBERA,
RENATO CONSTANTINO, JR., SISTER MARY JOHN MANANSAN OSB, DEAN CONSUELO PAZ,
ATTY. JOSEFINA LICHAUCO, COL. GERRY CUNANAN (ret.), CARLITOS SIGUION-REYNA, DR.
CAROLINA PAGADUAN-ARAULLO, RENATO REYES, DANILO RAMOS, EMERENCIANA DE
LESUS, RITA BAUA, REY CLARO CASAMBRE, Petitioners,
vs.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in her capacity as President and Commander-in-Chief,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SECRETARY RAUL
GONZALES, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERTO ROMULO,
DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE ACTING SECRETARY NORBERTO GONZALES,
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECRETARY RONALDO PUNO.
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE SECRETARY MARGARITO TEVES, NATIONAL SECURITY
ADVISER NORBERTO GONZALES, THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COORDINATING AGENCY
(NICA), THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (NBI), THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION,
THE OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE, THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OF THE ARMED FORCES OF
THE PHILIPPINES (ISAFP), THE ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL (AMLC), THE
PHILIPPINE CENTER ON TRANSNATIONAL CRIME, THE CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE
NATIONAL POLICE GEN. OSCAR CALDERON, THE PNP, including its intelligence and
investigative elements, AFP CHIEF GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 178890
KARAPATAN, ALLIANCE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PEOPLE'S RIGHTS, represented
herein by Dr. Edelina de la Paz, and representing the following organizations: HUSTISYA,
represented by Evangeline Hernandez and also on her own behalf; DESAPARECIDOS,
represented by Mary Guy Portajada and also on her own behalf, SAMAHAN NG MGA EXDETAINEES LABAN SA DETENSYON AT PARA SA AMNESTIYA (SELDA), represented by
Donato Continente and also on his own behalf, ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE AND
PEACE (EMJP), represented by Bishop Elmer M. Bolocon, UCCP, and PROMOTION OF
CHURCH PEOPLE'S RESPONSE, represented by Fr. Gilbert Sabado, OCARM, Petitioners,
vs.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in her capacity as President and Commander-in-Chief,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARTY EDUARDO ERMITA, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SECRETARY
RAUL GONZALEZ, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERTO ROMULO,
DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE ACTING SECRETARY NORBERTO GONZALES,
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECRETARY RONALDO PUNO,
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE SECRETARY MARGARITO TEVES, NATIONAL SECURITY
ADVISER NORBERTO GONZALES, THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COORDINATING AGENCY
(NICA), THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (NBI), THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION,

THE OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE, THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OF THE ARMED FORCES OF
THE PHILIPPINES (ISAFP), THE ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL (AMLC), THE
PHILIPPINE CENTER ON TRANSNATIONAL CRIME, THE CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE
NATIONAL POLICE GEN. OSCAR CALDERON, THE PNP, including its intelligence and
investigative elements, AFP CHIEF GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 179157
THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP), represented by Atty. Feliciano M.
Bautista, COUNSELS FOR THE DEFENSE OF LIBERTY (CODAL), SEN. MA. ANA CONSUELO
A.S. MADRIGAL and FORMER SENATORS SERGIO OSMEA III and WIGBERTO E.
TAADA, Petitioners,
vs.
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA AND THE MEMBERS OF THE ANTI-TERRORISM
COUNCIL (ATC), Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
G.R. No. 179461
BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN-SOUTHERN TAGALOG (BAYAN-ST), GABRIELA-ST,
KATIPUNAN NG MGA SAMAHYANG MAGSASAKA-TIMOG KATAGALUGAN (KASAMA-TK),
MOVEMENT OF CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES (MCCCL), PEOPLES
MARTYRS, ANAKBAYAN-ST, PAMALAKAYA-ST, CONFEDERATION FOR UNITY, RECOGNITION
AND ADVANCEMENT OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES (COURAGE-ST), PAGKAKAISA'T
UGNAYAN NG MGA MAGBUBUKID SA LAGUNA (PUMALAG), SAMAHAN NG MGA
MAMAMAYAN SA TABING RILES (SMTR-ST), LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS (LFS), BAYAN
MUNA-ST, KONGRESO NG MGA MAGBUBUKID PARA SA REPORMANG AGRARYO KOMPRA,
BIGKIS AT LAKAS NG MGA KATUTUBO SA TIMOG KATAGALUGAN (BALATIK), SAMAHAN AT
UGNAYAN NG MGA MAGSASAKANG KABABAIHAN SA TIMOG KATAGALUGAN
(SUMAMAKA-TK), STARTER, LOSOS RURAL POOR ORGANIZATION FOR PROGRESS &
EQUALITY, CHRISTIAN NIO LAJARA, TEODORO REYES, FRANCESCA B. TOLENTINO,
JANNETTE E. BARRIENTOS, OSCAR T. LAPIDA, JR., DELFIN DE CLARO, SALLY P. ASTRERA,
ARNEL SEGUNE BELTRAN, Petitioners,
vs.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in her capacity as President and Commander-in-Chief,
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY EDUARDO ERMITA, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE SECRETARY RAUL
GONZALEZ, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERTO ROMULO,
DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENSE ACTING SECRETARY NORBERTO GONZALES,
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMEN T SECRETARY RONALDO PUNO,
DEPARTMENT OF FINCANCE SECRETARY MARGARITO TEVES, NATIONAL SECURITY
ADVISER NORBERTO GONZALES, THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COORDINATING AGENCY
(NICA), THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (NBI), THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION,
THE OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE, THE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OF THE ARMED FORCES OF
THE PHILIPPINES (ISAFP), THE ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING COUNCIL (AMLC), THE
PHILIPPINE CENTER ON TRANSNATIONAL CRIME, THE CHIEF OF THE PHILIPPINE

NATIONAL POLICE GEN. OSCAR CALDERON, THE PNP, including its intelligence and
investigative elements, AFP CHIEF GEN. HERMOGENES ESPERON, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Before the Court are six petitions challenging the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9372 (RA
9372), "An Act to Secure the State and Protect our People from Terrorism," otherwise known as the
Human Security Act of 2007,1signed into law on March 6, 2007.
Following the effectivity of RA 9372 on July 15, 2007,2 petitioner Southern Hemisphere Engagement
Network, Inc., a non-government organization, and Atty. Soliman Santos, Jr., a concerned citizen,
taxpayer and lawyer, filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition on July 16, 2007 docketed as G.R.
No. 178552. On even date, petitioners Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), National Federation of Labor
Unions-Kilusang Mayo Uno (NAFLU-KMU), and Center for Trade Union and Human Rights
(CTUHR), represented by their respective officers3 who are also bringing the action in their capacity
as citizens, filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition docketed as G.R. No. 178554.
The following day, July 17, 2007, organizations Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), General
Alliance Binding Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action (GABRIELA),
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties
(MCCCL), Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees
(COURAGE), Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), Solidarity of Cavite Workers (SCW),
League of Filipino Students (LFS), Anakbayan, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya
(PAMALAKAYA), Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Migrante, Health Alliance for Democracy
(HEAD), and Agham, represented by their respective officers,4 and joined by concerned citizens and
taxpayers Teofisto Guingona, Jr., Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, Renato Constantino, Jr., Sister Mary
John Manansan, OSB, Dean Consuelo Paz, Atty. Josefina Lichauco, Retired Col. Gerry Cunanan,
Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Dr. Carolina Pagaduan-Araullo, Renato Reyes, Danilo Ramos, Emerenciana
de Jesus, Rita Baua and Rey Claro Casambre filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition docketed
as G.R. No. 178581.
On August 6, 2007, Karapatan and its alliance member organizations Hustisya, Desaparecidos,
Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA), Ecumenical
Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP), and Promotion of Church Peoples Response (PCPR),
which were represented by their respective officers5 who are also bringing action on their own behalf,
filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition docketed as G.R. No. 178890.
On August 29, 2007, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Counsels for the Defense of Liberty
(CODAL),6Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo A.S. Madrigal, Sergio Osmea III, and Wigberto E. Taada
filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition docketed as G.R. No. 179157.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog (BAYAN-ST), other regional chapters and
organizations mostly based in the Southern Tagalog Region, 7 and individuals8 followed suit by filing
on September 19, 2007 a petition for certiorari and prohibition docketed as G.R. No. 179461 that
replicates the allegations raised in the BAYAN petition in G.R. No. 178581.

Impleaded as respondents in the various petitions are the Anti-Terrorism Council 9 composed of, at
the time of the filing of the petitions, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita as Chairperson, Justice
Secretary Raul Gonzales as Vice Chairperson, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Acting
Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Interior and Local Government
Secretary Ronaldo Puno, and Finance Secretary Margarito Teves as members. All the petitions,
except that of the IBP, also impleaded Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen.
Hermogenes Esperon and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Oscar Calderon.
The Karapatan, BAYAN and BAYAN-ST petitions likewise impleaded President Gloria MacapagalArroyo and the support agencies for the Anti-Terrorism Council like the National Intelligence
Coordinating Agency, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration, Office of Civil
Defense, Intelligence Service of the AFP, Anti-Money Laundering Center, Philippine Center on
Transnational Crime, and the PNP intelligence and investigative elements.
The petitions fail.
Petitioners resort to certiorari is improper
Preliminarily, certiorari does not lie against respondents who do not exercise judicial or quasi-judicial
functions. Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is clear:
Section 1. Petition for certiorari.When any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasijudicial functionshas acted without or in excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy,
and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified
petition in the proper court, alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered
annulling or modifying the proceedings of such tribunal, board or officer, and granting such incidental
reliefs as law and justice may require. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Parenthetically, petitioners do not even allege with any modicum of particularity how respondents
acted without or in excess of their respective jurisdictions, or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
The impropriety of certiorari as a remedy aside, the petitions fail just the same.
In constitutional litigations, the power of judicial review is limited by four exacting requisites, viz: (a)
there must be an actual case or controversy; (b) petitioners must possess locus standi; (c) the
question of constitutionality must be raised at the earliest opportunity; and (d) the issue of
constitutionality must be the lis mota of the case.10
In the present case, the dismal absence of the first two requisites, which are the most essential,
renders the discussion of the last two superfluous.
Petitioners lack locus standi
Locus standi or legal standing requires a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to
assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court
so largely depends for illumination of difficult constitutional questions.11

Anak Mindanao Party-List Group v. The Executive Secretary12 summarized the rule on locus standi,
thus:
Locus standi or legal standing has been defined as a personal and substantial interest in a case
such that the party has sustained or will sustain direct injury as a result of the governmental act that
is being challenged. The gist of the question on standing is whether a party alleges such personal
stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the
presentation of issues upon which the court depends for illumination of difficult constitutional
questions.
[A] party who assails the constitutionality of a statute must have a direct and personal interest. It
must show not only that the law or any governmental act is invalid, but also that it sustained or is in
immediate danger of sustaining some direct injury as a result of its enforcement, and not merely that
it suffers thereby in some indefinite way. It must show that it has been or is about to be denied some
right or privilege to which it is lawfully entitled or that it is about to be subjected to some burdens or
penalties by reason of the statute or act complained of.
For a concerned party to be allowed to raise a constitutional question, it must show that (1) it
has personally suffered some actual or threatened injury as a result of the allegedly illegal conduct of
the government, (2) the injury is fairly traceable to the challenged action, and (3) the injury is likely to
be redressed by a favorable action. (emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
Petitioner-organizations assert locus standi on the basis of being suspected "communist fronts" by
the government, especially the military; whereas individual petitioners invariably invoke the
"transcendental importance" doctrine and their status as citizens and taxpayers.
While Chavez v. PCGG13 holds that transcendental public importance dispenses with the
requirement that petitioner has experienced or is in actual danger of suffering direct and personal
injury, cases involving the constitutionality of penal legislation belong to an altogether different genus
of constitutional litigation. Compelling State and societal interests in the proscription of harmful
conduct, as will later be elucidated, necessitate a closer judicial scrutiny of locus standi.
Petitioners have not presented any personal stake in the outcome of the controversy. None of them
faces any charge under RA 9372.
KARAPATAN, Hustisya, Desaparecidos, SELDA, EMJP and PCR, petitioners in G.R. No. 178890,
allege that they have been subjected to "close security surveillance by state security forces," their
members followed by "suspicious persons" and "vehicles with dark windshields," and their offices
monitored by "men with military build." They likewise claim that they have been branded as "enemies
of the [S]tate."14
Even conceding such gratuitous allegations, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) correctly
points out that petitioners have yet to show any connection between the
purported "surveillance" and the implementation of RA 9372.
BAYAN, GABRIELA, KMP, MCCCL, COURAGE, KADAMAY, SCW, LFS, Anakbayan, PAMALAKAYA,
ACT, Migrante, HEAD and Agham, petitioner-organizations in G.R. No. 178581, would like the Court
to take judicial notice of respondents alleged action of tagging them as militant organizations
fronting for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the National Peoples

Army (NPA). The tagging, according to petitioners, is tantamount to the effects of proscription without
following the procedure under the law.15 The petition of BAYAN-ST, et al. in G.R. No. 179461 pleads
the same allegations.
The Court cannot take judicial notice of the alleged "tagging" of petitioners.
Generally speaking, matters of judicial notice have three material requisites: (1) the matter must be
one of common and general knowledge; (2) it must be well and authoritatively settled and not
doubtful or uncertain; and (3) it must be known to be within the limits of the jurisdiction of the court.
The principal guide in determining what facts may be assumed to be judicially known is that of
notoriety. Hence, it can be said that judicial notice is limited to facts evidenced by public records and
facts of general notoriety. Moreover, a judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to a reasonable
dispute in that it is either: (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court; or (2)
capable of accurate and ready determination by resorting to sources whose accuracy cannot
reasonably be questionable.
Things of "common knowledge," of which courts take judicial matters coming to the knowledge of
men generally in the course of the ordinary experiences of life, or they may be matters which are
generally accepted by mankind as true and are capable of ready and unquestioned demonstration.
Thus, facts which are universally known, and which may be found in encyclopedias, dictionaries or
other publications, are judicially noticed, provided, they are of such universal notoriety and so
generally understood that they may be regarded as forming part of the common knowledge of every
person. As the common knowledge of man ranges far and wide, a wide variety of particular facts
have been judicially noticed as being matters of common knowledge. But a court cannot take judicial
notice of any fact which, in part, is dependent on the existence or non-existence of a fact of which
the court has no constructive knowledge.16 (emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
No ground was properly established by petitioners for the taking of judicial notice. Petitioners
apprehension is insufficient to substantiate their plea. That no specific charge or proscription under
RA 9372 has been filed against them, three years after its effectivity, belies any claim
of imminence of their perceived threat emanating from the so-called tagging.
The same is true with petitioners KMU, NAFLU and CTUHR in G.R. No. 178554, who merely harp
as well on their supposed "link" to the CPP and NPA. They fail to particularize how the
implementation of specific provisions of RA 9372 would result in direct injury to their organization
and members.
While in our jurisdiction there is still no judicially declared terrorist organization, the United States of
America17(US) and the European Union18 (EU) have both classified the CPP, NPA and Abu Sayyaf
Group as foreign terrorist organizations. The Court takes note of the joint statement of Executive
Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales that the Arroyo Administration would
adopt the US and EU classification of the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations. 19 Such statement
notwithstanding, there is yet to be filed before the courts an application to declare the CPP and NPA
organizations as domestic terrorist or outlawed organizations under RA 9372. Again, RA 9372 has
been in effect for three years now. From July 2007 up to the present, petitioner-organizations have
conducted their activities fully and freely without any threat of, much less an actual, prosecution or
proscription under RA 9372.

Parenthetically, the Fourteenth Congress, in a resolution initiated by Party-list Representatives


Saturnino Ocampo, Teodoro Casio, Rafael Mariano and Luzviminda Ilagan, 20 urged the government
to resume peace negotiations with the NDF by removing the impediments thereto, one of which is
the adoption of designation of the CPP and NPA by the US and EU as foreign terrorist organizations.
Considering the policy statement of the Aquino Administration21 of resuming peace talks with the
NDF, the government is not imminently disposed to ask for the judicial proscription of the CPP-NPA
consortium and its allied organizations.
More important, there are other parties not before the Court with direct and specific interests in the
questions being raised.22 Of recent development is the filing of the first case for proscription under
Section 1723 of RA 9372 by the Department of Justice before the Basilan Regional Trial Court against
the Abu Sayyaf Group.24 Petitioner-organizations do not in the least allege any link to the Abu Sayyaf
Group.
Some petitioners attempt, in vain though, to show the imminence of a prosecution under RA 9372 by
alluding to past rebellion charges against them.
In Ladlad v. Velasco,25 the Court ordered the dismissal of rebellion charges filed in 2006 against then
Party-List Representatives Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Liza Maza of
GABRIELA, and Joel Virador, Teodoro Casio and Saturnino Ocampo of Bayan Muna. Also named
in the dismissed rebellion charges were petitioners Rey Claro Casambre, Carolina PagaduanAraullo, Renato Reyes, Rita Baua, Emerencia de Jesus and Danilo Ramos; and accused of being
front organizations for the Communist movement were petitioner-organizations KMU, BAYAN,
GABRIELA, PAMALAKAYA, KMP, KADAMAY, LFS and COURAGE.26
The dismissed rebellion charges, however, do not save the day for petitioners. For one, those
charges were filed in 2006, prior to the enactment of RA 9372, and dismissed by this Court. For
another, rebellion is defined and punished under the Revised Penal Code. Prosecution for rebellion
is not made more imminent by the enactment of RA 9372, nor does the enactment thereof make it
easier to charge a person with rebellion, its elements not having been altered.
Conversely, previously filed but dismissed rebellion charges bear no relation to prospective charges
under RA 9372. It cannot be overemphasized that three years after the enactment of RA 9372, none
of petitioners has been charged.
Petitioners IBP and CODAL in G.R. No. 179157 base their claim of locus standi on their sworn duty
to uphold the Constitution. The IBP zeroes in on Section 21 of RA 9372 directing it to render
assistance to those arrested or detained under the law.
The mere invocation of the duty to preserve the rule of law does not, however, suffice to clothe the
IBP or any of its members with standing.27 The IBP failed to sufficiently demonstrate how its mandate
under the assailed statute revolts against its constitutional rights and duties. Moreover, both the IBP
and CODAL have not pointed to even a single arrest or detention effected under RA 9372.
Former Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo Madrigal, who claims to have been the subject of "political
surveillance," also lacks locus standi. Prescinding from the veracity, let alone legal basis, of the claim
of "political surveillance," the Court finds that she has not shown even the slightest threat of being
charged under RA 9372. Similarly lacking in locus standi are former Senator Wigberto Taada and
Senator Sergio Osmea III, who cite their being respectively a human rights advocate and an

oppositor to the passage of RA 9372. Outside these gratuitous statements, no concrete injury to
them has been pinpointed.
Petitioners Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network and Atty. Soliman Santos Jr. in G.R. No.
178552 also conveniently state that the issues they raise are of transcendental importance, "which
must be settled early" and are of "far-reaching implications," without mention of any specific
provision of RA 9372 under which they have been charged, or may be charged. Mere invocation of
human rights advocacy has nowhere been held sufficient to clothe litigants with locus standi.
Petitioners must show an actual, or immediate danger of sustaining, direct injury as a result of the
laws enforcement. To rule otherwise would be to corrupt the settled doctrine of locus standi, as
every worthy cause is an interest shared by the general public.
Neither can locus standi be conferred upon individual petitioners as taxpayers and citizens. A
taxpayer suit is proper only when there is an exercise of the spending or taxing power of
Congress,28 whereas citizen standing must rest on direct and personal interest in the proceeding. 29
RA 9372 is a penal statute and does not even provide for any appropriation from Congress for its
implementation, while none of the individual petitioner-citizens has alleged any direct and personal
interest in the implementation of the law.
It bears to stress that generalized interests, albeit accompanied by the assertion of a public right, do
not establish locus standi. Evidence of a direct and personal interest is key.
Petitioners fail to present an actual case or controversy
By constitutional fiat, judicial power operates only when there is an actual case or controversy.
Section 1. The judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may
be established by law.
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights
which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government.30(emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
As early as Angara v. Electoral Commission,31 the Court ruled that the power of judicial review is
limited to actual cases or controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the
parties. Any attempt at abstraction could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to
sterile conclusions unrelated to actualities.
An actual case or controversy means an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for
determination, not conjectural or anticipatory, lest the decision of the court would amount to an
advisory opinion.32
Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines v. COMELEC 33 cannot be more emphatic:
[C]ourts do not sit to adjudicate mere academic questions to satisfy scholarly interest, however
intellectually challenging. The controversy must be justiciabledefinite and concrete, touching on

the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests. In other words, the pleadings must show
an active antagonistic assertion of a legal right, on the one hand, and a denial thereof on the other
hand; that is, it must concern a real and not merely a theoretical question or issue. There ought to
be an actual and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief through a decree conclusive in
nature, as distinguished from an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of
facts. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Thus, a petition to declare unconstitutional a law converting the Municipality of Makati into a Highly
Urbanized City was held to be premature as it was tacked on uncertain, contingent
events.34 Similarly, a petition that fails to allege that an application for a license to operate a radio or
television station has been denied or granted by the authorities does not present a justiciable
controversy, and merely wheedles the Court to rule on a hypothetical problem. 35
The Court dismissed the petition in Philippine Press Institute v. Commission on Elections 36 for failure
to cite any specific affirmative action of the Commission on Elections to implement the assailed
resolution. It refused, in Abbas v. Commission on Elections, 37 to rule on the religious freedom claim of
the therein petitioners based merely on a perceived potential conflict between the provisions of the
Muslim Code and those of the national law, there being no actual controversy between real litigants.
The list of cases denying claims resting on purely hypothetical or anticipatory grounds goes on ad
infinitum.
The Court is not unaware that a reasonable certainty of the occurrence of a perceived threat to any
constitutional interest suffices to provide a basis for mounting a constitutional challenge. This,
however, is qualified by the requirement that there must be sufficient facts to enable the Court to
intelligently adjudicate the issues.38
Very recently, the US Supreme Court, in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 39 allowed the preenforcement review of a criminal statute, challenged on vagueness grounds, since plaintiffs faced a
"credible threat of prosecution" and "should not be required to await and undergo a criminal
prosecution as the sole means of seeking relief."40 The plaintiffs therein filed an action before a
federal court to assail the constitutionality of the material support statute, 18 U.S.C. 2339B (a)
(1),41 proscribing the provision of material support to organizations declared by the Secretary of State
as foreign terrorist organizations. They claimed that they intended to provide support for the
humanitarian and political activities of two such organizations.
Prevailing American jurisprudence allows an adjudication on the merits when an anticipatory petition
clearly shows that the challenged prohibition forbids the conduct or activity that a petitioner seeks to
do, as there would then be a justiciable controversy.42
Unlike the plaintiffs in Holder, however, herein petitioners have failed to show that the challenged
provisions of RA 9372 forbid constitutionally protected conduct or activity that they seek to do. No
demonstrable threat has been established, much less a real and existing one.
Petitioners obscure allegations of sporadic "surveillance" and supposedly being tagged as
"communist fronts" in no way approximate a credible threat of prosecution. From these allegations,
the Court is being lured to render an advisory opinion, which is not its function. 43

Without any justiciable controversy, the petitions have become pleas for declaratory relief, over
which the Court has no original jurisdiction. Then again, declaratory actions characterized by "double
contingency," where both the activity the petitioners intend to undertake and the anticipated reaction
to it of a public official are merely theorized, lie beyond judicial review for lack of ripeness.44
The possibility of abuse in the implementation of RA 9372 does not avail to take the present petitions
out of the realm of the surreal and merely imagined. Such possibility is not peculiar to RA 9372 since
the exercise of any power granted by law may be abused. 45 Allegations of abuse must be anchored
on real events before courts may step in to settle actual controversies involving rights which are
legally demandable and enforceable.
A facial invalidation of a statute is allowed only in free speech cases, wherein certain rules of
constitutional litigation are rightly excepted
Petitioners assail for being intrinsically vague and impermissibly broad the definition of the crime of
terrorism46under RA 9372 in that terms like "widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the
populace" and "coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand" are nebulous, leaving law
enforcement agencies with no standard to measure the prohibited acts.
Respondents, through the OSG, counter that the doctrines of void-for-vagueness and overbreadth
find no application in the present case since these doctrines apply only to free speech cases; and
that RA 9372 regulates conduct, not speech.
For a jurisprudentially guided understanding of these doctrines, it is imperative to outline the schools
of thought on whether the void-for-vagueness and overbreadth doctrines are equally applicable
grounds to assail a penal statute.
Respondents interpret recent jurisprudence as slanting toward the idea of limiting the application of
the two doctrines to free speech cases. They particularly cite Romualdez v. Hon.
Sandiganbayan47 and Estrada v. Sandiganbayan.48
The Court clarifies.
At issue in Romualdez v. Sandiganbayan was whether the word "intervene" in Section 549 of the AntiGraft and Corrupt Practices Act was intrinsically vague and impermissibly broad. The Court stated
that "the overbreadth and the vagueness doctrines have special application only to free-speech
cases," and are "not appropriate for testing the validity of penal statutes." 50 It added that, at any rate,
the challenged provision, under which the therein petitioner was charged, is not vague. 51
While in the subsequent case of Romualdez v. Commission on Elections,52 the Court stated that a
facial invalidation of criminal statutes is not appropriate, it nonetheless proceeded to conduct a
vagueness analysis, and concluded that the therein subject election offense 53 under the Voters
Registration Act of 1996, with which the therein petitioners were charged, is couched in precise
language.54
The two Romualdez cases rely heavily on the Separate Opinion55 of Justice Vicente V. Mendoza in
the Estradacase, where the Court found the Anti-Plunder Law (Republic Act No. 7080) clear and free
from ambiguity respecting the definition of the crime of plunder.

The position taken by Justice Mendoza in Estrada relates these two doctrines to the concept of a
"facial" invalidation as opposed to an "as-applied" challenge. He basically postulated that allegations
that a penal statute is vague and overbroad do not justify a facial review of its validity. The pertinent
portion of the Concurring Opinion of Justice Mendoza, which was quoted at length in the main
Estrada decision, reads:
A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because
of possible"chilling effect" upon protected speech. The theory is that "[w]hen statutes regulate or
proscribe speech and no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating
the statutes in a single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected
expression is deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that
the person making the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute
drawn with narrow specificity." The possible harm to society in permitting some unprotected speech
to go unpunished is outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of others may be
deterred and perceived grievances left to fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad
statutes.
This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect
resulting from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State
may well be prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal
law, the law cannot take chances as in the area of free speech.
The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech cases.
They are inapt for testing the validity of penal statutes. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it, in an
opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist, "we have not recognized an 'overbreadth' doctrine outside the
limited context of the First Amendment." In Broadrick v. Oklahoma, the Court ruled that "claims of
facial overbreadth have been entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to
regulate only spoken words" and, again, that "overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been
curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected
conduct." For this reason, it has been held that "a facial challenge to a legislative act is the most
difficult challenge to mount successfully, since the challenger must establish that no set of
circumstances exists under which the Act would be valid." As for the vagueness doctrine, it is said
that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it is vague in all its possible applications. "A
plaintiff who engages in some conduct that is clearly proscribed cannot complain of the vagueness
of the law as applied to the conduct of others."
In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools developed
for testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in American law, First
Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is involved is a criminal statute.
With respect to such statute, the established rule is that "one to whom application of a statute is
constitutional will not be heard to attack the statute on the ground that impliedly it might also be
taken as applying to other persons or other situations in which its application might be
unconstitutional." As has been pointed out, "vagueness challenges in the First Amendment context,
like overbreadth challenges typically produce facial invalidation, while statutes found vague as a
matter of due process typically are invalidated [only] 'as applied' to a particular defendant."
Consequently, there is no basis for petitioner's claim that this Court review the Anti-Plunder Law on
its face and in its entirety.

Indeed, "on its face" invalidation of statutes results in striking them down entirely on the ground that
they might be applied to parties not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally protected. It
constitutes a departure from the case and controversy requirement of the Constitution and permits
decisions to be made without concrete factual settings and in sterile abstract contexts. But, as the
U.S. Supreme Court pointed out in Younger v. Harris
[T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction of
these deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for the
judiciary. The combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the legislative
process of the relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of the required
line-by-line analysis of detailed statutes, . . . ordinarily results in a kind of case that is wholly
unsatisfactory for deciding constitutional questions, whichever way they might be decided.
For these reasons, "on its face" invalidation of statutes has been described as "manifestly strong
medicine," to be employed "sparingly and only as a last resort," and is generally disfavored. In
determining the constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions which are alleged to have been
violated in a case must be examined in the light of the conduct with which the defendant is
charged.56 (Underscoring supplied.)
The confusion apparently stems from the interlocking relation of the overbreadth and vagueness
doctrines as grounds for a facial or as-applied challenge against a penal statute (under a claim of
violation of due process of law) or a speech regulation (under a claim of abridgement of the freedom
of speech and cognate rights).
To be sure, the doctrine of vagueness and the doctrine of overbreadth do not operate on the same
plane.
A statute or act suffers from the defect of vagueness when it lacks comprehensible standards that
men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application. It
is repugnant to the Constitution in two respects: (1) it violates due process for failure to accord
persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of the conduct to avoid; and (2) it leaves law
enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the
Government muscle.57 The overbreadth doctrine, meanwhile, decrees that a governmental purpose
to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulations may not be achieved by
means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms. 58
As distinguished from the vagueness doctrine, the overbreadth doctrine assumes that individuals will
understand what a statute prohibits and will accordingly refrain from that behavior, even though
some of it is protected.59
A "facial" challenge is likewise different from an "as-applied" challenge.
Distinguished from an as-applied challenge which considers only extant facts affecting real litigants,
a facialinvalidation is an examination of the entire law, pinpointing its flaws and defects, not only on
the basis of its actual operation to the parties, but also on the assumption or prediction that its very
existence may cause others not before the court to refrain from constitutionally protected speech or
activities.60

Justice Mendoza accurately phrased the subtitle61 in his concurring opinion that the vagueness and
overbreadth doctrines, as grounds for a facial challenge, are not applicable to penal laws. A litigant
cannot thus successfully mount a facial challenge against a criminal statute on either vagueness or
overbreadth grounds.
The allowance of a facial challenge in free speech cases is justified by the aim to avert the "chilling
effect" on protected speech, the exercise of which should not at all times be abridged. 62 As reflected
earlier, this rationale is inapplicable to plain penal statutes that generally bear an "in terrorem effect"
in deterring socially harmful conduct. In fact, the legislature may even forbid and penalize acts
formerly considered innocent and lawful, so long as it refrains from diminishing or dissuading the
exercise of constitutionally protected rights.63
The Court reiterated that there are "critical limitations by which a criminal statute may be challenged"
and "underscored that an on-its-face invalidation of penal statutes x x x may not be allowed." 64
[T]he rule established in our jurisdiction is, only statutes on free speech, religious freedom, and other
fundamental rights may be facially challenged. Under no case may ordinary penal statutes be
subjected to a facial challenge. The rationale is obvious. If a facial challenge to a penal statute is
permitted, the prosecution of crimes may be hampered. No prosecution would be possible. A strong
criticism against employing a facial challenge in the case of penal statutes, if the same is allowed,
would effectively go against the grain of the doctrinal requirement of an existing and concrete
controversy before judicial power may be appropriately exercised. A facial challenge against a penal
statute is, at best, amorphous and speculative. It would, essentially, force the court to consider third
parties who are not before it. As I have said in my opposition to the allowance of a facial challenge to
attack penal statutes, such a test will impair the States ability to deal with crime. If warranted, there
would be nothing that can hinder an accused from defeating the States power to prosecute on a
mere showing that, as applied to third parties, the penal statute is vague or overbroad,
notwithstanding that the law is clear as applied to him. 65(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
It is settled, on the other hand, that the application of the overbreadth doctrine is limited to a
facial kind of challenge and, owing to the given rationale of a facial challenge, applicable only
to free speech cases.
By its nature, the overbreadth doctrine has to necessarily apply a facial type of invalidation in order
to plot areas of protected speech, inevitably almost always under situations not before the court, that
are impermissibly swept by the substantially overbroad regulation. Otherwise stated, a statute
cannot be properly analyzed for being substantially overbroad if the court confines itself only to facts
as applied to the litigants.
The most distinctive feature of the overbreadth technique is that it marks an exception to some of the
usual rules of constitutional litigation. Ordinarily, a particular litigant claims that a statute is
unconstitutional as applied to him or her; if the litigant prevails, the courts carve away the
unconstitutional aspects of the law by invalidating its improper applications on a case to case basis.
Moreover, challengers to a law are not permitted to raise the rights of third parties and can only
assert their own interests. In overbreadth analysis, those rules give way; challenges are permitted to
raise the rights of third parties; and the court invalidates the entire statute "on its face," not
merely "as applied for" so that the overbroad law becomes unenforceable until a properly authorized
court construes it more narrowly. The factor that motivates courts to depart from the normal
adjudicatory rules is the concern with the "chilling;" deterrent effect of the overbroad statute on third

parties not courageous enough to bring suit. The Court assumes that an overbroad laws "very
existence may cause others not before the court to refrain from constitutionally protected speech or
expression." An overbreadth ruling is designed to remove that deterrent effect on the speech of
those third parties.66 (Emphasis in the original omitted; underscoring supplied.)
In restricting the overbreadth doctrine to free speech claims, the Court, in at least two
cases,67 observed that the US Supreme Court has not recognized an overbreadth doctrine outside
the limited context of the First Amendment,68 and that claims of facial overbreadth have been
entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only spoken
words.69 In Virginia v. Hicks,70 it was held that rarely, if ever, will an overbreadth challenge succeed
against a law or regulation that is not specifically addressed to speech or speech-related conduct.
Attacks on overly broad statutes are justified by the "transcendent value to all society of
constitutionally protected expression."71
Since a penal statute may only be assailed for being vague as applied to petitioners, a limited
vagueness analysis of the definition of "terrorism" in RA 9372 is legally impermissible absent
an actual or imminent chargeagainst them
While Estrada did not apply the overbreadth doctrine, it did not preclude the operation of the
vagueness test on the Anti-Plunder Law as applied to the therein petitioner, finding, however, that
there was no basis to review the law "on its face and in its entirety."72 It stressed that "statutes found
vague as a matter of due process typically are invalidated only 'as applied' to a particular
defendant."73
American jurisprudence74 instructs that "vagueness challenges that do not involve the First
Amendment must be examined in light of the specific facts of the case at hand and not with regard to
the statute's facial validity."
For more than 125 years, the US Supreme Court has evaluated defendants claims that criminal
statutes are unconstitutionally vague, developing a doctrine hailed as "among the most important
guarantees of liberty under law."75
In this jurisdiction, the void-for-vagueness doctrine asserted under the due process clause has been
utilized in examining the constitutionality of criminal statutes. In at least three cases, 76 the Court
brought the doctrine into play in analyzing an ordinance penalizing the non-payment of municipal tax
on fishponds, the crime of illegal recruitment punishable under Article 132(b) of the Labor Code, and
the vagrancy provision under Article 202 (2) of the Revised Penal Code. Notably, the petitioners in
these three cases, similar to those in the two Romualdezand Estrada cases, were
actually charged with the therein assailed penal statute, unlike in the present case.
There is no merit in the claim that RA 9372 regulates speech so as to permit a facial analysis of its
validity
From the definition of the crime of terrorism in the earlier cited Section 3 of RA 9372, the following
elements may be culled: (1) the offender commits an act punishable under any of the cited
provisions of the Revised Penal Code, or under any of the enumerated special penal laws; (2) the
commission of the predicate crime sows and creates a condition of widespread and extraordinary
fear and panic among the populace; and (3) the offender is actuated by the desire to coerce the
government to give in to an unlawful demand.

In insisting on a facial challenge on the invocation that the law penalizes speech, petitioners contend
that the element of "unlawful demand" in the definition of terrorism77 must necessarily be transmitted
through some form of expression protected by the free speech clause.
The argument does not persuade. What the law seeks to penalize is conduct, not speech.
Before a charge for terrorism may be filed under RA 9372, there must first be a predicate crime
actually committed to trigger the operation of the key qualifying phrases in the other elements of the
crime, including the coercion of the government to accede to an "unlawful demand." Given the
presence of the first element, any attempt at singling out or highlighting the communicative
component of the prohibition cannot recategorize the unprotected conduct into a protected speech.
Petitioners notion on the transmission of message is entirely inaccurate, as it unduly focuses on just
one particle of an element of the crime. Almost every commission of a crime entails some mincing of
words on the part of the offender like in declaring to launch overt criminal acts against a victim, in
haggling on the amount of ransom or conditions, or in negotiating a deceitful transaction. An analogy
in one U.S. case78 illustrated that the fact that the prohibition on discrimination in hiring on the basis
of race will require an employer to take down a sign reading "White Applicants Only" hardly means
that the law should be analyzed as one regulating speech rather than conduct.
Utterances not elemental but inevitably incidental to the doing of the criminal conduct alter neither
the intent of the law to punish socially harmful conduct nor the essence of the whole act as conduct
and not speech. This holds true a fortiori in the present case where the expression figures only as an
inevitable incident of making the element of coercion perceptible.
[I]t is true that the agreements and course of conduct here were as in most instances brought about
through speaking or writing. But it has never been deemed an abridgement of freedom of speech or
press to make a course of conduct illegal merely because the conduct was, in part,
initiated, evidenced, or carried out by means of language, either spoken, written, or printed. Such an
expansive interpretation of the constitutional guaranties of speech and press would make it
practically impossible ever to enforce laws against agreements in restraint of trade as well as many
other agreements and conspiracies deemed injurious to society.79 (italics and underscoring supplied)
Certain kinds of speech have been treated as unprotected conduct, because they merely evidence a
prohibited conduct.80 Since speech is not involved here, the Court cannot heed the call for a facial
analysis.
1avvphi1

IN FINE, Estrada and the other cited authorities engaged in a vagueness analysis of the therein
subject penal statute as applied to the therein petitioners inasmuch as they were actually charged
with the pertinent crimes challenged on vagueness grounds. The Court in said cases, however,
found no basis to review the assailed penal statute on its face and in its entirety.
In Holder, on the other hand, the US Supreme Court allowed the pre-enforcement review of a
criminal statute, challenged on vagueness grounds, since the therein plaintiffs faced a "credible
threat of prosecution" and "should not be required to await and undergo a criminal prosecution as
the sole means of seeking relief."
As earlier reflected, petitioners have established neither an actual charge nor a credible threat of
prosecutionunder RA 9372. Even a limited vagueness analysis of the assailed definition of

"terrorism" is thus legally impermissible. The Court reminds litigants that judicial power neither
contemplates speculative counseling on a statutes future effect on hypothetical scenarios nor allows
the courts to be used as an extension of a failed legislative lobbying in Congress.
WHEREFORE, the petitions are DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 148560

November 19, 2001

JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner,


vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN (Third Division) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J.:
JOHN STUART MILL, in his essay On Liberty, unleashes the full fury of his pen in defense of the
rights of the individual from the vast powers of the State and the inroads of societal pressure. But
even as he draws a sacrosanct line demarcating the limits on individuality beyond which the State
cannot tread - asserting that "individual spontaneity" must be allowed to flourish with very little
regard to social interference - he veritably acknowledges that the exercise of rights and liberties is
imbued with a civic obligation, which society is justified in enforcing at all cost, against those who
would endeavor to withhold fulfillment. Thus he says The sole end for which mankind is warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty
of action of any of their number, is self-protection. The only purpose for which power can be rightfully
exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
Parallel to individual liberty is the natural and illimitable right of the State to self-preservation. With
the end of maintaining the integrity and cohesiveness of the body politic, it behooves the State to
formulate a system of laws that would compel obeisance to its collective wisdom and inflict
punishment for non-observance.
The movement from Mill's individual liberalism to unsystematic collectivism wrought changes in the
social order, carrying with it a new formulation of fundamental rights and duties more attuned to the
imperatives of contemporary socio-political ideologies. In the process, the web of rights and State
impositions became tangled and obscured, enmeshed in threads of multiple shades and colors, the
skein irregular and broken. Antagonism, often outright collision, between the law as the expression
of the will of the State, and the zealous attempts by its members to preserve their individuality and

dignity, inevitably followed. It is when individual rights are pitted against State authority that judicial
conscience is put to its severest test.
Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the highest-ranking official to be prosecuted under RA 7080 (An
Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder),1 as amended by RA 7659,2 wishes to impress
upon us that the assailed law is so defectively fashioned that it crosses that thin but distinct line
which divides the valid from the constitutionally infirm. He therefore makes a stringent call for this
Court to subject the Plunder Law to the crucible of constitutionality mainly because, according to
him, (a) it suffers from the vice of vagueness; (b) it dispenses with the "reasonable doubt" standard
in criminal prosecutions; and, (c) it abolishes the element of mens rea in crimes already punishable
under The Revised Penal Code, all of which are purportedly clear violations of the fundamental
rights of the accused to due process and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
against him.
Specifically, the provisions of the Plunder Law claimed by petitioner to have transgressed
constitutional boundaries are Secs. 1, par. (d), 2 and 4 which are reproduced hereunder:
Section 1. x x x x (d) "Ill-gotten wealth" means any asset, property, business, enterprise or material
possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or
indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any
combination or series of the following means or similar schemes:
(1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on
the public treasury;
(2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or
any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any
government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public office
concerned;
(3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National
Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities, or government owned
or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries;
(4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or
any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any
business enterprise or undertaking;
(5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations
and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or
special interests; or
(6) By taking advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to
unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the
Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.
Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder, Penalties. - Any public officer who, by himself or in
connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates,
subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through

a combination or series of overt or criminal actsas described in Section 1 (d) hereof, in the
aggregate amount or total value of at least fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the
crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who participated
with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall
likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and
the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances as provided by the Revised Penal Code
shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their
interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from
the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State (underscoring supplied).
Section 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be
necessary to proveeach and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the
scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to
establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall
unlawful scheme or conspiracy (underscoring supplied).
On 4 April 2001 the Office of the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan eight (8) separate
Informations, docketed as: (a) Crim. Case No. 26558, for violation of RA 7080, as amended by RA
7659; (b) Crim. Cases Nos. 26559 to 26562, inclusive, for violation of Secs. 3, par. (a), 3, par. (a), 3,
par. (e) and 3, par. (e), of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), respectively; (c) Crim.
Case No. 26563, for violation of Sec. 7, par. (d), of RA 6713 (The Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials and Employees); (d) Crim. Case No. 26564, for Perjury (Art. 183
of The Revised Penal Code); and, (e) Crim. Case No. 26565, for Illegal Use Of An Alias (CA No.
142, as amended by RA 6085).
On 11 April 2001 petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion for the remand of the case to the Ombudsman
for preliminary investigation with respect to specification "d" of the charges in the Information in
Crim. Case No. 26558; and, for reconsideration/reinvestigation of the offenses under specifications
"a," "b," and "c" to give the accused an opportunity to file counter-affidavits and other documents
necessary to prove lack of probable cause. Noticeably, the grounds raised were only lack of
preliminary investigation, reconsideration/reinvestigation of offenses, and opportunity to prove lack of
probable cause. The purported ambiguity of the charges and the vagueness of the law under which
they are charged were never raised in that Omnibus Motion thus indicating the explicitness and
comprehensibility of the Plunder Law.
On 25 April 2001 the Sandiganbayan, Third Division, issued a Resolution in Crim. Case No. 26558
finding that "a probable cause for the offense of PLUNDER exists to justify the issuance of warrants
for the arrest of the accused." On 25 June 2001 petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied
by the Sandiganbayan.
On 14 June 2001 petitioner moved to quash the Information in Crim. Case No. 26558 on the ground
that the facts alleged therein did not constitute an indictable offense since the law on which it was
based was unconstitutional for vagueness, and that the Amended Information for Plunder charged
more than one (1) offense. On 21 June 2001 the Government filed its Opposition to the Motion to
Quash, and five (5) days later or on 26 June 2001 petitioner submitted his Reply to the Opposition.
On 9 July 2001 the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner's Motion to Quash.
As concisely delineated by this Court during the oral arguments on 18 September 2001, the issues
for resolution in the instant petition for certiorari are: (a) The Plunder Law is unconstitutional for being

vague; (b) The Plunder Law requires less evidence for proving the predicate crimes of plunder and
therefore violates the rights of the accused to due process; and, (c) Whether Plunder as defined in
RA 7080 is a malum prohibitum, and if so, whether it is within the power of Congress to so classify it.
Preliminarily, the whole gamut of legal concepts pertaining to the validity of legislation is predicated
on the basic principle that a legislative measure is presumed to be in harmony with the
Constitution.3 Courts invariably train their sights on this fundamental rule whenever a legislative act
is under a constitutional attack, for it is the postulate of constitutional adjudication. This strong
predilection for constitutionality takes its bearings on the idea that it is forbidden for one branch of
the government to encroach upon the duties and powers of another. Thus it has been said that the
presumption is based on the deference the judicial branch accords to its coordinate branch - the
legislature.
If there is any reasonable basis upon which the legislation may firmly rest, the courts must assume
that the legislature is ever conscious of the borders and edges of its plenary powers, and has
passed the law with full knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of promoting what is right and
advancing the welfare of the majority. Hence in determining whether the acts of the legislature are in
tune with the fundamental law, courts should proceed with judicial restraint and act with caution and
forbearance. Every intendment of the law must be adjudged by the courts in favor of its
constitutionality, invalidity being a measure of last resort. In construing therefore the provisions of a
statute, courts must first ascertain whether an interpretation is fairly possible to sidestep the question
of constitutionality.
In La Union Credit Cooperative, Inc. v. Yaranon4 we held that as long as there is some basis for the
decision of the court, the constitutionality of the challenged law will not be touched and the case will
be decided on other available grounds. Yet the force of the presumption is not sufficient to catapult a
fundamentally deficient law into the safe environs of constitutionality. Of course, where the law
clearly and palpably transgresses the hallowed domain of the organic law, it must be struck down on
sight lest the positive commands of the fundamental law be unduly eroded.
Verily, the onerous task of rebutting the presumption weighs heavily on the party challenging the
validity of the statute. He must demonstrate beyond any tinge of doubt that there is indeed an
infringement of the constitution, for absent such a showing, there can be no finding of
unconstitutionality. A doubt, even if well-founded, will hardly suffice. As tersely put by Justice
Malcolm, "To doubt is to sustain."5 And petitioner has miserably failed in the instant case to
discharge his burden and overcome the presumption of constitutionality of the Plunder Law.
As it is written, the Plunder Law contains ascertainable standards and well-defined parameters
which would enable the accused to determine the nature of his violation. Section 2 is sufficiently
explicit in its description of the acts, conduct and conditions required or forbidden, and prescribes the
elements of the crime with reasonable certainty and particularity. Thus 1. That the offender is a public officer who acts by himself or in connivance with members of
his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other
persons;
2. That he amassed, accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth through a combination or
series of the following overt or criminal acts: (a) through misappropriation, conversion,
misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; (b) by receiving,

directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickback or any other form of
pecuniary benefits from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract
or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer; (c) by the illegal or
fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government or any
of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities of Government owned or controlled
corporations or their subsidiaries; (d) by obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly
any shares of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including the promise
of future employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; (e) by establishing
agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or
implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special
interests; or (f) by taking advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or
influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and
prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines; and,
3. That the aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth amassed, accumulated or
acquired is at least P50,000,000.00.
As long as the law affords some comprehensible guide or rule that would inform those who are
subject to it what conduct would render them liable to its penalties, its validity will be sustained. It
must sufficiently guide the judge in its application; the counsel, in defending one charged with its
violation; and more importantly, the accused, in identifying the realm of the proscribed conduct.
Indeed, it can be understood with little difficulty that what the assailed statute punishes is the act of a
public officer in amassing or accumulating ill-gotten wealth of at leastP50,000,000.00 through a
series or combination of acts enumerated in Sec. 1, par. (d), of the Plunder Law.
In fact, the amended Information itself closely tracks the language of the law, indicating with
reasonable certainty the various elements of the offense which petitioner is alleged to have
committed:
"The undersigned Ombudsman, Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman,
hereby accuses former PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Joseph Ejercito
Estrada, a.k.a. 'ASIONG SALONGA' and a.k.a. 'JOSE VELARDE,' together with Jose 'Jinggoy'
Estrada, Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a.
Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John DOES &
Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by
Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:
That during the period from June, 1998 to January 2001, in the Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, THEN A PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his
co-accused, WHO ARE MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR
CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES, SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY
TAKING UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION, AUTHORITY, RELATIONSHIP,
CONNECTION, OR INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally amass,
accumulate and acquire BY HIMSELF, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-gotten wealth in the
aggregate amount orTOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT
HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN
CENTAVOS (P4,097,804,173.17), more or less,THEREBY UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF OR
THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A combination OR Aseries of


overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS, described as follows:
(a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL INSTANCES, MONEY IN
THE AGGREGATE AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS
(P545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF
GIFT, SHARE, PERCENTAGE, KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY
HIMSELF AND/OR in connection with co-accused CHARLIE 'ATONG' ANG, Jose 'Jinggoy'
Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in
consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING;
(b) by DIVERTING, RECEIVING, misappropriating, converting OR misusing DIRECTLY OR
INDIRECTLY, for HIS OR THEIR PERSONAL gain and benefit, public funds in the amount
of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less, representing
a portion of the TWO HUNDRED MILLION PESOS (P200,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax
share allocated for the province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in
connivance with co-accused Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio
Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, AND OTHER JOHN DOES & JANE
DOES; (italic supplied).
(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND BENEFIT, the
Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE 351,878,000 SHARES OF
STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES
OF STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE BELLE CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF
MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED SIXTY
FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS
(P1,102,965,607.50) AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY FOUR MILLION
SIX HUNDRED TWELVE THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS
(P744,612,450.00), RESPECTIVELY, OR A TOTAL OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION
EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY EIGHT
THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (P1,847,578,057.50); AND BY
COLLECTING OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN
CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, COMMISSIONS OR
PERCENTAGES BY REASON OF SAID PURCHASES OF SHARES OF STOCK IN THE
AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND
PESOS (P189,700,000.00) MORE OR LESS, FROM THE BELLE CORPORATION WHICH
BECAME PART OF THE DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK UNDER THE
ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE VELARDE;'
(d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFTS, SHARES,
PERCENTAGES, KICKBACKS, OR ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS, IN
CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in the amount of MORE OR
LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR
THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS
(P3,233,104,173.17) AND DEPOSITING THE SAME UNDER HIS ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE
VELARDE' AT THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK."
We discern nothing in the foregoing that is vague or ambiguous - as there is obviously none - that
will confuse petitioner in his defense. Although subject to proof, these factual assertions clearly show

that the elements of the crime are easily understood and provide adequate contrast between the
innocent and the prohibited acts. Upon such unequivocal assertions, petitioner is completely
informed of the accusations against him as to enable him to prepare for an intelligent defense.
Petitioner, however, bewails the failure of the law to provide for the statutory definition of the terms
"combination" and "series" in the key phrase "a combination or series of overt or criminal acts" found
in Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2, and the word "pattern" in Sec. 4. These omissions, according to
petitioner, render the Plunder Law unconstitutional for being impermissibly vague and overbroad and
deny him the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, hence,
violative of his fundamental right to due process.
The rationalization seems to us to be pure sophistry. A statute is not rendered uncertain and void
merely because general terms are used therein, or because of the employment of terms without
defining them;6 much less do we have to define every word we use. Besides, there is no positive
constitutional or statutory command requiring the legislature to define each and every word in an
enactment. Congress is not restricted in the form of expression of its will, and its inability to so define
the words employed in a statute will not necessarily result in the vagueness or ambiguity of the law
so long as the legislative will is clear, or at least, can be gathered from the whole act, which is
distinctly expressed in the Plunder Law.
Moreover, it is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be interpreted
in their natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification,7 unless it is evident that the
legislature intended a technical or special legal meaning to those words. 8 The intention of the
lawmakers - who are, ordinarily, untrained philologists and lexicographers - to use statutory
phraseology in such a manner is always presumed. Thus, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary
contains the following commonly accepted definition of the words "combination" and "series:"
Combination - the result or product of combining; the act or process of combining. To combine is to
bring into such close relationship as to obscure individual characters.
Series - a number of things or events of the same class coming one after another in spatial and
temporal succession.
That Congress intended the words "combination" and "series" to be understood in their popular
meanings is pristinely evident from the legislative deliberations on the bill which eventually became
RA 7080 or the Plunder Law:
DELIBERATIONS OF THE BICAMERAL COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, 7 May 1991
REP. ISIDRO: I am just intrigued again by our definition of plunder. We say THROUGH A
COMBINATION OR SERIES OF OVERT OR CRIMINAL ACTS AS MENTIONED IN SECTION ONE
HEREOF. Now when we say combination, we actually mean to say, if there are two or more means,
we mean to say that number one and two or number one and something else are included, how
about a series of the same act? For example, through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, will
these be included also?
REP. GARCIA: Yeah, because we say a series.
REP. ISIDRO: Series.

REP. GARCIA: Yeah, we include series.


REP. ISIDRO: But we say we begin with a combination.
REP. GARCIA: Yes.
REP. ISIDRO: When we say combination, it seems that REP. GARCIA: Two.
REP. ISIDRO: Not only two but we seem to mean that two of the enumerated means not twice of
one enumeration.
REP. GARCIA: No, no, not twice.
REP. ISIDRO: Not twice?
REP. GARCIA: Yes. Combination is not twice - but combination, two acts.
REP. ISIDRO: So in other words, thats it. When we say combination, we mean, two different acts. It
cannot be a repetition of the same act.
REP. GARCIA: That be referred to series, yeah.
REP. ISIDRO: No, no. Supposing one act is repeated, so there are two.
REP. GARCIA: A series.
REP. ISIDRO: Thats not series. Its a combination. Because when we say combination or series, we
seem to say that two or more, di ba?
REP. GARCIA: Yes, this distinguishes it really from ordinary crimes. That is why, I said, that is a very
good suggestion because if it is only one act, it may fall under ordinary crime but we have here a
combination or series of overt or criminal acts. So x x x x
REP. GARCIA: Series. One after the other eh di....
SEN. TANADA: So that would fall under the term "series?"
REP. GARCIA: Series, oo.
REP. ISIDRO: Now, if it is a combination, ano, two misappropriations....
REP. GARCIA: Its not... Two misappropriations will not be combination. Series.
REP. ISIDRO: So, it is not a combination?
REP. GARCIA: Yes.

REP. ISIDRO: When you say combination, two different?


REP. GARCIA: Yes.
SEN. TANADA: Two different.
REP. ISIDRO: Two different acts.
REP. GARCIA: For example, ha...
REP. ISIDRO: Now a series, meaning, repetition...
DELIBERATIONS ON SENATE BILL NO. 733, 6 June 1989
SENATOR MACEDA: In line with our interpellations that sometimes "one" or maybe even "two" acts
may already result in such a big amount, on line 25, would the Sponsor consider deleting the words
"a series of overt or," to read, therefore: "or conspiracy COMMITTED by criminal acts such as."
Remove the idea of necessitating "a series." Anyway, the criminal acts are in the plural.
SENATOR TANADA: That would mean a combination of two or more of the acts mentioned in this.
THE PRESIDENT: Probably two or more would be....
SENATOR MACEDA: Yes, because "a series" implies several or many; two or more.
SENATOR TANADA: Accepted, Mr. President x x x x
THE PRESIDENT: If there is only one, then he has to be prosecuted under the particular crime. But
when we say "acts of plunder" there should be, at least, two or more.
SENATOR ROMULO: In other words, that is already covered by existing laws, Mr. President.
Thus when the Plunder Law speaks of "combination," it is referring to at least two (2) acts falling
under different categories of enumeration provided in Sec. 1, par. (d), e.g., raids on the public
treasury in Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (1), and fraudulent conveyance of assets belonging to the
National Government under Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (3).
On the other hand, to constitute a series" there must be two (2) or more overt or criminal acts falling
under the same category of enumeration found in Sec. 1, par. (d), say, misappropriation,
malversation and raids on the public treasury, all of which fall under Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (1).
Verily, had the legislature intended a technical or distinctive meaning for "combination" and "series,"
it would have taken greater pains in specifically providing for it in the law.
As for "pattern," we agree with the observations of the Sandiganbayan 9 that this term is sufficiently
defined in Sec. 4, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2 x x x x under Sec. 1 (d) of the law, a 'pattern' consists of at least a combination or series of overt or
criminal acts enumerated in subsections (1) to (6) of Sec. 1 (d). Secondly, pursuant to Sec. 2 of the

law, the pattern of overt or criminal acts is directed towards a common purpose or goal which is to
enable the public officer to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. And thirdly, there must
either be an 'overall unlawful scheme' or 'conspiracy' to achieve said common goal. As commonly
understood, the term 'overall unlawful scheme' indicates a 'general plan of action or method' which
the principal accused and public officer and others conniving with him follow to achieve the aforesaid
common goal. In the alternative, if there is no such overall scheme or where the schemes or
methods used by multiple accused vary, the overt or criminal acts must form part of a conspiracy to
attain a common goal.
Hence, it cannot plausibly be contended that the law does not give a fair warning and sufficient
notice of what it seeks to penalize. Under the circumstances, petitioner's reliance on the "void-forvagueness" doctrine is manifestly misplaced. The doctrine has been formulated in various ways, but
is most commonly stated to the effect that a statute establishing a criminal offense must define the
offense with sufficient definiteness that persons of ordinary intelligence can understand what conduct
is prohibited by the statute. It can only be invoked against that specie of legislation that is utterly
vague on its face, i.e., that which cannot be clarified either by a saving clause or by construction.
A statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of
common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application. In such
instance, the statute is repugnant to the Constitution in two (2) respects - it violates due process for
failure to accord persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of what conduct to avoid;
and, it leaves law enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an
arbitrary flexing of the Government muscle.10 But the doctrine does not apply as against legislations
that are merely couched in imprecise language but which nonetheless specify a standard though
defectively phrased; or to those that are apparently ambiguous yet fairly applicable to certain types
of activities. The first may be "saved" by proper construction, while no challenge may be mounted as
against the second whenever directed against such activities.11 With more reason, the doctrine
cannot be invoked where the assailed statute is clear and free from ambiguity, as in this case.
The test in determining whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is whether the language
conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by common
understanding and practice.12 It must be stressed, however, that the "vagueness" doctrine merely
requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld - not absolute precision or
mathematical exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest. Flexibility, rather than meticulous
specificity, is permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the statute are clearly delineated. An
act will not be held invalid merely because it might have been more explicit in its wordings or
detailed in its provisions, especially where, because of the nature of the act, it would be impossible
to provide all the details in advance as in all other statutes.
Moreover, we agree with, hence we adopt, the observations of Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza
during the deliberations of the Court that the allegations that the Plunder Law is vague and
overbroad do not justify a facial review of its validity The void-for-vagueness doctrine states that "a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an
act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and
differ as to its application, violates the first essential of due process of law." 13 The overbreadth
doctrine, on the other hand, decrees that "a governmental purpose may not be achieved by means
which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms." 14

A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because
of possible "chilling effect" upon protected speech. The theory is that "[w]hen statutes regulate or
proscribe speech and no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating
the statutes in a single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected
expression is deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that
the person making the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute
drawn with narrow specificity."15 The possible harm to society in permitting some unprotected speech
to go unpunished is outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of others may be
deterred and perceived grievances left to fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad
statutes.
This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect
resulting from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State
may well be prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal
law, the law cannot take chances as in the area of free speech.
The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech cases.
They are inapt for testing the validity of penal statutes. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it, in an
opinion by Chief Justice Rehnquist, "we have not recognized an 'overbreadth' doctrine outside the
limited context of the First Amendment."16 In Broadrick v. Oklahoma,17 the Court ruled that "claims of
facial overbreadth have been entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to
regulate only spoken words" and, again, that "overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been
curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected
conduct." For this reason, it has been held that "a facial challenge to a legislative act is the most
difficult challenge to mount successfully, since the challenger must establish that no set of
circumstances exists under which the Act would be valid." 18 As for the vagueness doctrine, it is said
that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it is vague in all its possible applications. "A
plaintiff who engages in some conduct that is clearly proscribed cannot complain of the vagueness
of the law as applied to the conduct of others."19
In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools developed
for testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in American law, First
Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is involved is a criminal statute.
With respect to such statute, the established rule is that "one to whom application of a statute is
constitutional will not be heard to attack the statute on the ground that impliedly it might also be
taken as applying to other persons or other situations in which its application might be
unconstitutional."20 As has been pointed out, "vagueness challenges in the First Amendment context,
like overbreadth challenges typically produce facial invalidation, while statutes found vague as a
matter of due process typically are invalidated [only] 'as applied' to a particular
defendant."21 Consequently, there is no basis for petitioner's claim that this Court review the AntiPlunder Law on its face and in its entirety.
Indeed, "on its face" invalidation of statutes results in striking them down entirely on the ground that
they might be applied to parties not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally
protected.22 It constitutes a departure from the case and controversy requirement of the Constitution
and permits decisions to be made without concrete factual settings and in sterile abstract
contexts.23 But, as the U.S. Supreme Court pointed out in Younger v. Harris24

[T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction of
these deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for the
judiciary. The combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the legislative
process of the relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of the required
line-by-line analysis of detailed statutes, . . . ordinarily results in a kind of case that is wholly
unsatisfactory for deciding constitutional questions, whichever way they might be decided.
For these reasons, "on its face" invalidation of statutes has been described as "manifestly strong
medicine," to be employed "sparingly and only as a last resort,"25 and is generally disfavored.26 In
determining the constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions which are alleged to have been
violated in a case must be examined in the light of the conduct with which the defendant is
charged.27
In light of the foregoing disquisition, it is evident that the purported ambiguity of the Plunder Law, so
tenaciously claimed and argued at length by petitioner, is more imagined than real. Ambiguity, where
none exists, cannot be created by dissecting parts and words in the statute to furnish support to
critics who cavil at the want of scientific precision in the law. Every provision of the law should be
construed in relation and with reference to every other part. To be sure, it will take more than
nitpicking to overturn the well-entrenched presumption of constitutionality and validity of the Plunder
Law. A fortiori, petitioner cannot feign ignorance of what the Plunder Law is all about. Being one of
the Senators who voted for its passage, petitioner must be aware that the law was extensively
deliberated upon by the Senate and its appropriate committees by reason of which he even
registered his affirmative vote with full knowledge of its legal implications and sound constitutional
anchorage.
The parallel case of Gallego v. Sandiganbayan28 must be mentioned if only to illustrate and
emphasize the point that courts are loathed to declare a statute void for uncertainty unless the law
itself is so imperfect and deficient in its details, and is susceptible of no reasonable construction that
will support and give it effect. In that case, petitioners Gallego and Agoncillo challenged the
constitutionality of Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for being vague.
Petitioners posited, among others, that the term "unwarranted" is highly imprecise and elastic with
no common law meaning or settled definition by prior judicial or administrative precedents; that, for
its vagueness, Sec. 3, par. (e), violates due process in that it does not give fair warning or sufficient
notice of what it seeks to penalize. Petitioners further argued that the Information charged them with
three (3) distinct offenses, to wit: (a) giving of "unwarranted" benefits through manifest partiality; (b)
giving of "unwarranted" benefits through evident bad faith; and, (c) giving of "unwarranted" benefits
through gross inexcusable negligence while in the discharge of their official function and that their
right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against them was violated because
they were left to guess which of the three (3) offenses, if not all, they were being charged and
prosecuted.
In dismissing the petition, this Court held that Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt
Practices Act does not suffer from the constitutional defect of vagueness. The phrases "manifest
partiality," "evident bad faith," and "gross and inexcusable negligence" merely describe the different
modes by which the offense penalized in Sec. 3, par. (e), of the statute may be committed, and the
use of all these phrases in the same Information does not mean that the indictment charges three (3)
distinct offenses.

The word 'unwarranted' is not uncertain. It seems lacking adequate or official support; unjustified;
unauthorized (Webster, Third International Dictionary, p. 2514); or without justification or adequate
reason (Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. US Dept. of Justice, C.D. Pa., 405 F. Supp. 8, 12, cited in
Words and Phrases, Permanent Edition, Vol. 43-A 1978, Cumulative Annual Pocket Part, p. 19).
The assailed provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act consider a corrupt practice and
make unlawful the act of the public officer in:
x x x or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge
of his official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence, x x x (Section 3 [e], Rep. Act 3019, as amended).
It is not at all difficult to comprehend that what the aforequoted penal provisions penalize is the act of
a public officer, in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions, in giving any
private party benefits, advantage or preference which is unjustified, unauthorized or without
justification or adequate reason, through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence.
In other words, this Court found that there was nothing vague or ambiguous in the use of the term
"unwarranted" in Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which was understood
in its primary and general acceptation. Consequently, in that case, petitioners' objection thereto was
held inadequate to declare the section unconstitutional.
On the second issue, petitioner advances the highly stretched theory that Sec. 4 of the Plunder Law
circumvents the immutable obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the
predicate acts constituting the crime of plunder when it requires only proof of a pattern of overt or
criminal acts showing unlawful scheme or conspiracy SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be
necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme
or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish
beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme
or conspiracy.
The running fault in this reasoning is obvious even to the simplistic mind. In a criminal prosecution
for plunder, as in all other crimes, the accused always has in his favor the presumption of innocence
which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and unless the State succeeds in demonstrating by proof
beyond reasonable doubt that culpability lies, the accused is entitled to an acquittal. 29 The use of the
"reasonable doubt" standard is indispensable to command the respect and confidence of the
community in the application of criminal law. It is critical that the moral force of criminal law be not
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 has confidence that his government cannot adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without
convincing a proper factfinder of his guilt with utmost certainty. This "reasonable doubt" standard has
acquired such exalted stature in the realm of constitutional law as it gives life to the Due Process
Clause which protects the accused against conviction except upon proof beyond reasonable doubt
of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged. 30 The following exchanges
between Rep. Rodolfo Albano and Rep. Pablo Garcia on this score during the deliberations in the
floor of the House of Representatives are elucidating -

DELIBERATIONS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON RA 7080, 9 October 1990


MR. ALBANO: Now, Mr. Speaker, it is also elementary in our criminal law that what is alleged in the
information must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. If we will prove only one act and find him
guilty of the other acts enumerated in the information, does that not work against the right of the
accused especially so if the amount committed, say, by falsification is less than P100 million, but the
totality of the crime committed is P100 million since there is malversation, bribery, falsification of
public document, coercion, theft?
MR. GARCIA: Mr. Speaker, not everything alleged in the information needs to be proved beyond
reasonable doubt. What is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is every element of the
crime charged. For example, Mr. Speaker, there is an enumeration of the things taken by the robber
in the information three pairs of pants, pieces of jewelry. These need not be proved beyond
reasonable doubt, but these will not prevent the conviction of a crime for which he was charged just
because, say, instead of 3 pairs of diamond earrings the prosecution proved two. Now, what is
required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is the element of the offense.
MR. ALBANO: I am aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but considering that in the crime of plunder the
totality of the amount is very important, I feel that such a series of overt criminal acts has to be taken
singly. For instance, in the act of bribery, he was able to accumulate only P50,000 and in the crime
of extortion, he was only able to accumulate P1 million. Now, when we add the totality of the other
acts as required under this bill through the interpretation on the rule of evidence, it is just one single
act, so how can we now convict him?
MR. GARCIA: With due respect, Mr. Speaker, for purposes of proving an essential element of the
crime, there is a need to prove that element beyond reasonable doubt. For example, one essential
element of the crime is that the amount involved is P100 million. Now, in a series of defalcations and
other acts of corruption in the enumeration the total amount would be P110 or P120 million, but there
are certain acts that could not be proved, so, we will sum up the amounts involved in those
transactions which were proved. Now, if the amount involved in these transactions, proved beyond
reasonable doubt, is P100 million, then there is a crime of plunder (underscoring supplied).
It is thus plain from the foregoing that the legislature did not in any manner refashion the standard
quantum of proof in the crime of plunder. The burden still remains with the prosecution to prove
beyond any iota of doubt every fact or element necessary to constitute the crime.
The thesis that Sec. 4 does away with proof of each and every component of the crime suffers from
a dismal misconception of the import of that provision. What the prosecution needs to prove beyond
reasonable doubt is only a number of acts sufficient to form a combination or series which would
constitute a pattern and involving an amount of at least P50,000,000.00. There is no need to prove
each and every other act alleged in the Information to have been committed by the accused in
furtherance of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten
wealth. To illustrate, supposing that the accused is charged in an Information for plunder with having
committed fifty (50) raids on the public treasury. The prosecution need not prove all these fifty (50)
raids, it being sufficient to prove by pattern at least two (2) of the raids beyond reasonable doubt
provided only that they amounted to at least P50,000,000.00.31
A reading of Sec. 2 in conjunction with Sec. 4, brings us to the logical conclusion that "pattern of
overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy" inheres in the very acts

of accumulating, acquiring or amassing hidden wealth. Stated otherwise, such pattern arises where
the prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the predicate acts as defined in Sec. 1,
par. (d). Pattern is merely a by-product of the proof of the predicate acts. This conclusion is
consistent with reason and common sense. There would be no other explanation for a combination
or series of
overt or criminal acts to stash P50,000,000.00 or more, than "a scheme or conspiracy to amass,
accumulate or acquire ill gotten wealth." The prosecution is therefore not required to make a
deliberate and conscious effort to prove pattern as it necessarily follows with the establishment of a
series or combination of the predicate acts.
Relative to petitioner's contentions on the purported defect of Sec. 4 is his submission that "pattern"
is "a very important element of the crime of plunder;" and that Sec. 4 is "two pronged, (as) it contains
a rule of evidence and a substantive element of the crime," such that without it the accused cannot
be convicted of plunder JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, cannot an accused be convicted under the Plunder Law
without applying Section 4 on the Rule of Evidence if there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of the
commission of the acts complained of?
ATTY. AGABIN: In that case he can be convicted of individual crimes enumerated in the Revised
Penal Code, but not plunder.
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, if all the elements of the crime are proved beyond
reasonable doubt without applying Section 4, can you not have a conviction under the Plunder Law?
ATTY. AGABIN: Not a conviction for plunder, your Honor.
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: Can you not disregard the application of Sec. 4 in convicting an accused
charged for violation of the Plunder Law?
ATTY. AGABIN: Well, your Honor, in the first place Section 4 lays down a substantive element of the
law x x x x
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: What I said is - do we have to avail of Section 4 when there is proof beyond
reasonable doubt on the acts charged constituting plunder?
ATTY. AGABIN: Yes, your Honor, because Section 4 is two pronged, it contains a rule of evidence
and it contains a substantive element of the crime of plunder. So, there is no way by which we can
avoid Section 4.
JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: But there is proof beyond reasonable doubt insofar as the predicate crimes
charged are concerned that you do not have to go that far by applying Section 4?
ATTY. AGABIN: Your Honor, our thinking is that Section 4 contains a very important element of the
crime of plunder and that cannot be avoided by the prosecution.32

We do not subscribe to petitioner's stand. Primarily, all the essential elements of plunder can be
culled and understood from its definition in Sec. 2, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and "pattern" is not
one of them. Moreover, the epigraph and opening clause of Sec. 4 is clear and unequivocal:
SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder x x x x
It purports to do no more than prescribe a rule of procedure for the prosecution of a criminal case for
plunder. Being a purely procedural measure, Sec. 4 does not define or establish any substantive
right in favor of the accused but only operates in furtherance of a remedy. It is only a means to an
end, an aid to substantive law. Indubitably, even without invoking Sec. 4, a conviction for plunder
may be had, for what is crucial for the prosecution is to present sufficient evidence to engender that
moral certitude exacted by the fundamental law to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable
doubt. Thus, even granting for the sake of argument that Sec. 4 is flawed and vitiated for the
reasons advanced by petitioner, it may simply be severed from the rest of the provisions without
necessarily resulting in the demise of the law; after all, the existing rules on evidence can supplant
Sec. 4 more than enough. Besides, Sec. 7 of RA 7080 provides for a separability clause Sec. 7. Separability of Provisions. - If any provisions of this Act or the application thereof to any
person or circumstance is held invalid, the remaining provisions of this Act and the application of
such provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Implicit in the foregoing section is that to avoid the whole act from being declared invalid as a result
of the nullity of some of its provisions, assuming that to be the case although it is not really so, all the
provisions thereof should accordingly be treated independently of each other, especially if by doing
so, the objectives of the statute can best be achieved.
As regards the third issue, again we agree with Justice Mendoza that plunder is a malum in se which
requires proof of criminal intent. Thus, he says, in his Concurring Opinion x x x Precisely because the constitutive crimes are mala in se the element of mens rea must be
proven in a prosecution for plunder. It is noteworthy that the amended information alleges that the
crime of plunder was committed "willfully, unlawfully and criminally." It thus alleges guilty knowledge
on the part of petitioner.
In support of his contention that the statute eliminates the requirement of mens rea and that is the
reason he claims the statute is void, petitioner cites the following remarks of Senator Taada made
during the deliberation on S.B. No. 733:
SENATOR TAADA . . . And the evidence that will be required to convict him would not be evidence
for each and every individual criminal act but only evidence sufficient to establish the conspiracy or
scheme to commit this crime of plunder.33
However, Senator Taada was discussing 4 as shown by the succeeding portion of the transcript
quoted by petitioner:
SENATOR ROMULO: And, Mr. President, the Gentleman feels that it is contained in Section 4, Rule
of Evidence, which, in the Gentleman's view, would provide for a speedier and faster process of
attending to this kind of cases?

SENATOR TAADA: Yes, Mr. President . . .34


Senator Taada was only saying that where the charge is conspiracy to commit plunder, the
prosecution need not prove each and every criminal act done to further the scheme or conspiracy, it
being enough if it proves beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or ciminal acts indicative of the
overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. As far as the acts constituting the pattern are concerned,
however, the elements of the crime must be proved and the requisite mens rea must be shown.
Indeed, 2 provides that Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing
to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the
degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided
by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court.
The application of mitigating and extenuating circumstances in the Revised Penal Code to
prosecutions under the Anti-Plunder Law indicates quite clearly that mens rea is an element of
plunder since the degree of responsibility of the offender is determined by his criminal intent. It is
true that 2 refers to "any person who participates with the said public officer in the commission of
an offense contributing to the crime of plunder." There is no reason to believe, however, that it does
not apply as well to the public officer as principal in the crime. As Justice Holmes said: "We agree to
all the generalities about not supplying criminal laws with what they omit, but there is no canon
against using common sense in construing laws as saying what they obviously mean." 35
Finally, any doubt as to whether the crime of plunder is a malum in se must be deemed to have been
resolved in the affirmative by the decision of Congress in 1993 to include it among the heinous
crimes punishable byreclusion perpetua to death. Other heinous crimes are punished with death as
a straight penalty in R.A. No. 7659. Referring to these groups of heinous crimes, this Court held
in People v. Echegaray:36
The evil of a crime may take various forms. There are crimes that are, by their very nature,
despicable, either because life was callously taken or the victim is treated like an animal and utterly
dehumanized as to completely disrupt the normal course of his or her growth as a human being . . . .
Seen in this light, the capital crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for ransom resulting
in the death of the victim or the victim is raped, tortured, or subjected to dehumanizing acts;
destructive arson resulting in death; and drug offenses involving minors or resulting in the death of
the victim in the case of other crimes; as well as murder, rape, parricide, infanticide, kidnapping and
serious illegal detention, where the victim is detained for more than three days or serious physical
injuries were inflicted on the victim or threats to kill him were made or the victim is a minor, robbery
with homicide, rape or intentional mutilation, destructive arson, and carnapping where the owner,
driver or occupant of the carnapped vehicle is killed or raped, which are penalized by reclusion
perpetua to death, are clearly heinous by their very nature.
There are crimes, however, in which the abomination lies in the significance and implications of the
subject criminal acts in the scheme of the larger socio-political and economic context in which the
state finds itself to be struggling to develop and provide for its poor and underprivileged
masses. Reeling from decades of corrupt tyrannical rule that bankrupted the government and
impoverished the population, the Philippine Government must muster the political will to dismantle
the culture of corruption, dishonesty, greed and syndicated criminality that so deeply entrenched

itself in the structures of society and the psyche of the populace. [With the government] terribly
lacking the money to provide even the most basic services to its people, any form of
misappropriation or misapplication of government funds translates to an actual threat to the very
existence of government, and in turn, the very survival of the people it governs over. Viewed in this
context, no less heinous are the effects and repercussions of crimes like qualified bribery, destructive
arson resulting in death, and drug offenses involving government officials, employees or officers, that
their perpetrators must not be allowed to cause further destruction and damage to society.
The legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is
a malum in se. For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they
are mala in se37 and it does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially since
in the case of plunder the predicate crimes are mainly mala in se. Indeed, it would be absurd to treat
prosecutions for plunder as though they are mere prosecutions for violations of the Bouncing Check
Law (B.P. Blg. 22) or of an ordinance against jaywalking, without regard to the inherent wrongness of
the acts.
To clinch, petitioner likewise assails the validity of RA 7659, the amendatory law of RA 7080, on
constitutional grounds. Suffice it to say however that it is now too late in the day for him to resurrect
this long dead issue, the same having been eternally consigned by People v. Echegaray38 to the
archives of jurisprudential history. The declaration of this Court therein that RA 7659 is
constitutionally valid stands as a declaration of the State, and becomes, by necessary effect,
assimilated in the Constitution now as an integral part of it.
Our nation has been racked by scandals of corruption and obscene profligacy of officials in high
places which have shaken its very foundation. The anatomy of graft and corruption has become
more elaborate in the corridors of time as unscrupulous people relentlessly contrive more and more
ingenious ways to bilk the coffers of the government. Drastic and radical measures are imperative to
fight the increasingly sophisticated, extraordinarily methodical and economically catastrophic looting
of the national treasury. Such is the Plunder Law, especially designed to disentangle those ghastly
tissues of grand-scale corruption which, if left unchecked, will spread like a malignant tumor and
ultimately consume the moral and institutional fiber of our nation. The Plunder Law, indeed, is a
living testament to the will of the legislature to ultimately eradicate this scourge and thus secure
society against the avarice and other venalities in public office.
These are times that try men's souls. In the checkered history of this nation, few issues of national
importance can equal the amount of interest and passion generated by petitioner's ignominious fall
from the highest office, and his eventual prosecution and trial under a virginal statute. This
continuing saga has driven a wedge of dissension among our people that may linger for a long time.
Only by responding to the clarion call for patriotism, to rise above factionalism and prejudices, shall
we emerge triumphant in the midst of ferment.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court holds that RA 7080 otherwise known as the Plunder Law, as
amended by RA 7659, is CONSTITUTIONAL. Consequently, the petition to declare the law
unconstitutional is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-45127 May 5, 1989
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Provincial Fiscal of Leyte, petitioner,
vs.
HON. JUDGE AUXENCIO C. DACUYCUY, CELESTINO S. MATONDO, SEGUNDINO A, CAVAL
and CIRILO M. ZANORIA, respondents.
The Office of the Solicitor General for petitioner.
Adelino B. Sitoy for private respondents.

REGALADO, J.:
Involved in this special civil action is the unique situation, to use an euphemistic phrase, of an
alternative penal sanction of imprisonment imposed by law but without a specification as to the term
or duration thereof.
As a consequence of such legislative faux pas or oversight, the petition at bar seeks to set aside the
decision of the then Court of First Instance of Leyte, Branch IV, dated September 8,1976, 1 penned
by herein respondent judge and granting the petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary
injunction filed by herein private respondents and docketed therein as Civil Case No. 5428, as well as his
resolution of October 19, 1976 2 denying the motions for reconsideration filed by the parties therein.
Subject of said decision were the issues on jurisdiction over violations of Republic Act No. 4670,
otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, and the constitutionality of Section 32
thereof.
In a complaint filed by the Chief of Police of Hindang, Leyte on April 4, 1975, herein private
respondents Celestino S. Matondo, Segundino A. Caval and Cirilo M. Zanoria, public school officials
of Leyte, were charged before the Municipal Court of Hindang, Leyte in Criminal Case No. 555
thereof for violation of Republic Act No. 4670. The case was set for arraignment and trial on May 29,
1975. At the arraignment, the herein private respondents, as the accused therein, pleaded not guilty
to the charge. Immediately thereafter, they orally moved to quash the complaint for lack of
jurisdiction over the offense allegedly due to the correctional nature of the penalty of imprisonment
prescribed for the offense. The motion to quash was subsequently reduced to writing on June 13,
1975. 3 On August 21, 1975, the municipal court denied the motion to quash for lack of merit. 4 On
September 2, 1975, private respondents filed a motion for the reconsideration of the aforesaid denial
order on the same ground of lack of jurisdiction, but with the further allegation that the facts charged do
not constitute an offense considering that Section 32 of Republic Act No. 4670 is null and void for being
unconstitutional. In an undated order received by the counsel for private respondents on October
20,1975, the motion for reconsideration was denied. 5

On October 26, 1975, private respondents filed a petitions 6 for certiorari and prohibition with
preliminary injunction before the former Court of First Instance of Leyte, Branch VIII, where it was
docketed as Civil Case No. B-622, to restrain the Municipal Judge, Provincial Fiscal and Chief of Police of
Hindang, Leyte from proceeding with the trial of said Criminal Case No. 555 upon the ground that the
former Municipal Court of Hindang had no jurisdiction over the offense charged. Subsequently, an
amended petition 7 alleged the additional ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense since
the penal provision, which is Section 32 of said law, is unconstitutional for the following reasons: (1) It
imposes a cruel and unusual punishment, the term of imprisonment being unfixed and may run
to reclusion perpetua; and (2) It also constitutes an undue delegation of legislative power, the duration of
the penalty of imprisonment being solely left to the discretion of the court as if the latter were the
legislative department of the Government.
On March 30, 1976, having been advised that the petition of herein private respondents was related
to Criminal Case No. 1978 for violation of Presidential Decree No. 442 previously transferred from
Branch VIII to Branch IV of the erstwhile Court of First Instance of Leyte, Judge Fortunate B. Cuna of
the former branch transferred the said petition to the latter branch for further proceedings and where
it was subsequently docketed therein as Civil Case No. 5428. 8 On March 15, 1976, the petitioner
herein filed an opposition to the admission of the said amended petitions 9but respondent judge denied
the same in his resolution of April 20, 1976. 10 On August 2, 1976, herein petitioner filed a supplementary
memorandum in answer to the amended petition. 11
On September 8, 1976, respondent judge rendered the aforecited challenged decision holding in
substance that Republic Act No. 4670 is valid and constitutional but cases for its violation fall outside
of the jurisdiction of municipal and city courts, and remanding the case to the former Municipal Court
of Hindang, Leyte only for preliminary investigation.
As earlier stated, on September 25, 1976, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. 12 Likewise,
private respondents filed a motion for reconsideration of the lower court's decision but the same was
limited only to the portion thereof which sustains the validity of Section 32 of Republic Act No.
4670. 13 Respondent judge denied both motions for reconsideration in a resolution dated October 19,
1976. 14
The instant petition to review the decision of respondent judge poses the following questions of law:
(1) Whether the municipal and city courts have jurisdiction over violations of Republic Act No. 4670;
and (2) Whether Section 32 of said Republic Act No. 4670 is constitutional.
We shall resolve said queries in inverse order, since prior determination of the constitutionality of the
assailed provision of the law involved is necessary for the adjudication of the jurisdictional issue
raised in this petition.
1. The disputed section of Republic Act No. 4670 provides:
Sec. 32. Penal Provision. A person who shall wilfully interfere with, restrain or
coerce any teacher in the exercise of his rights guaranteed by this Act or who shall in
any other manner commit any act to defeat any of the provisions of this Act shall,
upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than one hundred pesos nor more
than one thousand pesos, or by imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
(Emphasis supplied).

Two alternative and distinct penalties are consequently imposed, to wit: (a) a fine ranging from
P100.00 to P1,000.00; or (b) imprisonment. It is apparent that the law has no prescribed period or
term for the imposable penalty of imprisonment. While a minimum and maximum amount for the
penalty of fine is specified, there is no equivalent provision for the penalty of imprisonment, although
both appear to be qualified by the phrase "in the discretion of the court.
Private respondents contend that a judicial determination of what Congress intended to be the
duration of the penalty of imprisonment would be violative of the constitutional prohibition against
undue delegation of legislative power, and that the absence of a provision on the specific term of
imprisonment constitutes that penalty into a cruel and unusual form of punishment. Hence, it is
vigorously asserted, said Section 32 is unconstitutional.
The basic principle underlying the entire field of legal concepts pertaining to the validity of legislation
is that in the enactment of legislation a constitutional measure is thereby created. In every case
where a question is raised as to the constitutionality of an act, the court employs this doctrine in
scrutinizing the terms of the law. In a great volume of cases, the courts have enunciated the
fundamental rule that there is a presumption in favor of the constitutionality of a legislative
enactment. 15
It is contended that Republic Act No. 4670 is unconstitutional on the ground that the imposable but
indefinite penalty of imprisonment provided therein constitutes a cruel and unusual punishment, in
defiance of the express mandate of the Constitution. This contention is inaccurate and should be
rejected.
We note with approval the holding of respondent judge that
The rule is established beyond question that a punishment authorized by statute is
not cruel or unusual or disproportionate to the nature of the offense unless it is a
barbarous one unknown to the law or so wholly disproportionate to the nature of the
offense as to shock the moral sense of the community. Based on the principle, our
Supreme Court has consistently overruled contentions of the defense that the
punishment of fine or imprisonment authorized by the statute involved is cruel and
unusual. (Legarda vs. Valdez, 1 Phil. 146; U.S. vs. Pico, 18 Phil. 386; People vs.
Garay, 2 ACR 149; People vs. Estoista 93 Phil. 647; People vs. Tiu Ua. 96 Phil. 738;
People vs. Dionisio, 22 SCRA 1299). The language of our Supreme Court in the first
of the cases it decided after the last world war is appropriate here:
The Constitution directs that 'Excessive fines shall not be imposed,
nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.' The prohibition of cruel
and unusual punishments is generally aimed at the form or character
of the punishment rather than its severity in respect of duration or
amount, and apply to punishments which never existed in America, or
which public sentiment has regarded as cruel or obsolete (15 Am.
Jur., p. 172), for instance there (sic) inflicted at the whipping post, or
in the pillory, burning at the stake, breaking on the wheel,
disemboweling, and the like (15 Am. Jur. Supra, Note 35 L.R.A. p.
561). Fine and imprisonment would not thus be within the prohibition.'
(People vs. de la Cruz, 92 Phil. 906). 16

The question that should be asked, further, is whether the constitutional prohibition looks only to the
form or nature of the penalty and not to the proportion between the penalty and the crime.
The answer thereto may be gathered from the pronouncement in People vs. Estoista, 17 where an
"excessive" penalty was upheld as constitutional and was imposed but with a recommendation for
executive clemency, thus:
... If imprisonment from 5 to 10 years is out of proportion to the present case in view
of certain circumstances, the law is not to be declared unconstitutional for this
reason. The constitutionality of an act of the legislature is not to be judged in the light
of exceptional cases. Small transgressors for which the heavy net was not spread
are, like small fishes, bound to be caught, and it is to meet such a situation as this
that courts are advised to make a recommendation to the Chief Executive for
clemency or reduction of the penalty...
That the penalty is grossly disproportionate to the crime is an insufficient basis to declare the law
unconstitutional on the ground that it is cruel and unusual. The fact that the punishment authorized
by the statute is severe does not make it cruel or unusual. 18 In addition, what degree of disproportion
the Court will consider as obnoxious to the Constitution has still to await appropriate determination in due
time since, to the credit of our legislative bodies, no decision has as yet struck down a penalty for being
"cruel and unusual" or "excessive."
We turn now to the argument of private respondents that the entire penal provision in question
should be invalidated as an 49 "undue delegation of legislative power, the duration of penalty of
imprisonment being solely left to the discretion of the court as if the lattter were the legislative
department of the government."
Petitioner counters that the discretion granted therein by the legislature to the courts to determine
the period of imprisonment is a matter of statutory construction and not an undue delegation of
legislative power. It is contended that the prohibition against undue delegation of legislative power is
concerned only with the delegation of power to make laws and not to interpret the same. It is also
submitted that Republic Act No. 4670 vests in the courts the discretion, not to fix the period of
imprisonment, but to choose which of the alternative penalties shall be imposed.
Respondent judge sustained these theses of petitioner on his theory that "the principle of separation
of powers is not violated by vesting in courts discretion as to the length of sentence or amount of fine
between designated limits in sentencing persons convicted of crime. In such instance, the exercise
of judicial discretion by the courts is not an attempt to use legislative power or to prescribe and
create a law but is an instance of the administration of justice and the application of existing laws to
the facts of particular cases." 19 What respondent judge obviously overlooked is his own reference to
penalties "between designated limits."
In his commentary on the Constitution of the United States, Corwin wrote:
.. At least three distinct ideas have contributed to the development of the principle
that legislative power cannot be delegated. One is the doctrine of separation of
powers: Why go to the trouble of separating the three powers of government if they
can straightway remerge on their own motion? The second is the concept of due
process of laws which precludes the transfer of regulatory functions to private

persons. Lastly, there is the maxim of agency "Delegata potestas non potest
delegari." 20
An apparent exception to the general rule forbidding the delegation of legislative authority to the
courts exists in cases where discretion is conferred upon said courts. It is clear, however, that when
the courts are said to exercise a discretion, it must be a mere legal discretion which is exercised in
discerning the course prescribed by law and which, when discerned, it is the duty of the court to
follow. 21
So it was held by the Supreme Court of the United States that the principle of separation of powers
is not violated by vesting in courts discretion as to the length of sentence or the amount of fine
between designated limits in sentencing persons convicted of a crime. 22
In the case under consideration, the respondent judge erronneously assumed that since the penalty
of imprisonment has been provided for by the legislature, the court is endowed with the discretion to
ascertain the term or period of imprisonment. We cannot agree with this postulate. It is not for the
courts to fix the term of imprisonment where no points of reference have been provided by the
legislature. What valid delegation presupposes and sanctions is an exercise of discretion to fix the
length of service of a term of imprisonment which must be encompassed within specific or
designated limits provided by law, the absence of which designated limits well constitute such
exercise as an undue delegation, if not-an outright intrusion into or assumption, of legislative power.
Section 32 of Republic Act No. 4670 provides for an indeterminable period of imprisonment, with
neither a minimum nor a maximum duration having been set by the legislative authority. The courts
are thus given a wide latitude of discretion to fix the term of imprisonment, without even the benefit
of any sufficient standard, such that the duration thereof may range, in the words of respondent
judge, from one minute to the life span of the accused. Irremissibly, this cannot be allowed. It vests
in the courts a power and a duty essentially legislative in nature and which, as applied to this case,
does violence to the rules on separation of powers as well as the non-delegability of legislative
powers. This time, the preumption of constitutionality has to yield.
On the foregoing considerations, and by virtue of the separability clause in Section 34 of Republic
Act No. 4670, the penalty of imprisonment provided in Section 32 thereof should be, as it is hereby,
declared unconstitutional.
It follows, therefore, that a ruling on the proper interpretation of the actual term of imprisonment, as
may have been intended by Congress, would be pointless and academic. It is, however, worth
mentioning that the suggested application of the so-called rule or principle of parallelism, whereby a
fine of P1,000.00 would be equated with one year of imprisonment, does not merit judicial
acceptance. A fine, whether imposed as a single or as an alternative penalty, should not and cannot
be reduced or converted into a prison term; it is to be considered as a separate and independent
penalty consonant with Article 26 of the Revised Penal Code. 23 It is likewise declared a discrete
principal penalty in the graduated scales of penalties in Article 71 of said Code. There is no rule for
transmutation of the amount of a fine into a term of imprisonment. Neither does the Code contain any
provision that a fine when imposed in conjunction with imprisonment is subordinate to the latter penalty. In
sum, a fine is as much a principal penalty as imprisonment. Neither is subordinate to the other. 24
2. It has been the consistent rule that the criminal jurisdiction of the court is determined by the
statute in force at the time of the commencement of the action. 25

With the deletion by invalidation of the provision on imprisonment in Section 32 of Republic Act No.
4670, as earlier discussed, the imposable penalty for violations of said law should be limited to a fine
of not less than P100.00 and not more than P1,000.00, the same to serve as the basis in
determining which court may properly exercise jurisdiction thereover. When the complaint against
private respondents was filed in 1975, the pertinent law then in force was Republic Act No. 296, as
amended by Republic Act No. 3828, under which crimes punishable by a fine of not more than P
3,000.00 fall under the original jurisdiction of the former municipal courts. Consequently, Criminal
Case No. 555 against herein private respondents falls within the original jurisdiction of the Municipal
Trial Court of Hindang, Leyte.
WHEREFORE, the decision and resolution of respondent judge are hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. Criminal Case No. 555 filed against private respondents herein is hereby ordered to be
remanded to the Municipal Trial Court of Hindang, Leyte for trial on the merits.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-64279 April 30, 1984
ANSELMO L. PESIGAN and MARCELINO L. PESIGAN, petitioners,
vs.
JUDGE DOMINGO MEDINA ANGELES, Regional Trial Court, Caloocan City Branch 129, acting
for REGIONAL TRIAL COURT of Camarines Norte, now presided over by JUDGE NICANOR
ORIO, Daet Branch 40; DRA. BELLA S. MIRANDA, ARNULFO V. ZENAROSA, ET
AL., respondents.
Quiazon, De Guzman Makalintal and Barot for petitioners.
The Solicitor General for respondents.

AQUINO, J.:

+.wph!1

At issue in this case is the enforceability, before publication in the Official Gazette of June 14,
1982, of Presidential Executive Order No. 626-A dated October 25, 1980, providing for
the confiscation and forfeiture by the government of carabaos transported from one province to
another.
Anselmo L. Pesigan and Marcelo L. Pesigan, carabao dealers, transported in an Isuzu ten-wheeler
truck in the evening of April 2, 1982 twenty-six carabaos and a calf from Sipocot, Camarines Sur with
Padre Garcia, Batangas, as the destination.

They were provided with (1) a health certificate from the provincial veterinarian of Camarines Sur,
issued under the Revised Administrative Code and Presidential Decree No. 533, the Anti-Cattle
Rustling Law of 1974; (2) a permit to transport large cattle issued under the authority of the
provincial commander; and (3) three certificates of inspection, one from the Constabulary command
attesting that the carabaos were not included in the list of lost, stolen and questionable animals; one
from the LIvestock inspector, Bureau of Animal Industry of Libmanan, Camarines Sur and one from
the mayor of Sipocot.
In spite of the permit to transport and the said four certificates, the carabaos, while passing at
Basud, Camarines Norte, were confiscated by Lieutenant Arnulfo V. Zenarosa, the town's police
station commander, and by Doctor Bella S. Miranda, provincial veterinarian. The confiscation was
basis on the aforementioned Executive Order No. 626-A which provides "that henceforth, no
carabao, regardless of age, sex, physical condition or purpose and no carabeef shall be transported
from one province to another. The carabaos or carabeef transported in violation of this Executive
Order as amended shall be subject to confiscation and forfeiture by the government to be distributed
... to deserving farmers through dispersal as the Director of Animal Industry may see fit, in the case
of carabaos" (78 OG 3144).
Doctor Miranda distributed the carabaos among twenty-five farmers of Basud, and to a farmer from
the Vinzons municipal nursery (Annex 1).
The Pesigans filed against Zenarosa and Doctor Miranda an action for replevin for the recovery of
the carabaos allegedly valued at P70,000 and damages of P92,000. The replevin order could not be
executed by the sheriff. In his order of April 25, 1983 Judge Domingo Medina Angeles, who heard
the case at Daet and who was later transferred to Caloocan City, dismissed the case for lack of
cause of action.
The Pesigans appealed to this Court under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and section 25 of the
Interim Rules and pursuant to Republic Act No. 5440, a 1968 law which superseded Rule 42 of the
Rules of Court.
We hold that the said executive order should not be enforced against the Pesigans on April 2,
1982 because, as already noted, it is a penal regulation published more than two months later in the
Official Gazette dated June 14, 1982. It became effective only fifteen days thereafter as provided in
article 2 of the Civil Code and section 11 of the Revised Administrative Code.
The word "laws" in article 2 (article 1 of the old Civil Code) includes circulars and regulations which
prescribe penalties. Publication is necessary to apprise the public of the contents of the regulations
and make the said penalties binding on the persons affected thereby. (People vs. Que Po Lay, 94
Phil. 640; Lim Hoa Ting vs. Central Bank of the Phils., 104 Phil. 573; Balbuna vs. Secretary of
Education, 110 Phil. 150.)
The Spanish Supreme Court ruled that "bajo la denominacion generica de leyes, se comprenden
tambien los reglamentos, Reales decretos, Instrucciones, Circulares y Reales ordenes dictadas de
conformidad con las mismas por el Gobierno en uso de su potestad (1 Manresa, Codigo Civil, 7th
Ed., p. 146.)
Thus, in the Que Po Lay case, a person, convicted by the trial court of having violated Central Bank
Circular No. 20 and sentenced to six months' imprisonment and to pay a fine of P1,000,

was acquitted by this Court because the circular was published in the Official Gazette three months
after his conviction. He was not bound by the circular.
That ruling applies to a violation of Executive Order No. 626-A because its confiscation and forfeiture
provision or sanction makes it a penal statute. Justice and fairness dictate that the public must be
informed of that provision by means of publication in the Gazette before violators of the executive
order can be bound thereby.
The cases of Police Commission vs. Bello, L-29960, January 30, 1971, 37 SCRA 230 and Philippine
Blooming Mills vs. Social Security System, 124 Phil. 499, cited by the respondents, do not involve
the enforcement of any penal regulation.
Commonwealth Act No. 638 requires that all Presidential executive orders having general
applicability should be published in the Official Gazette. It provides that "every order or document
which shag prescribe a penalty shall be deemed to have general applicability and legal effect."
Indeed, the practice has always been to publish executive orders in the Gazette. Section 551 of the
Revised Administrative Code provides that even bureau "regulations and orders shall become
effective only when approved by the Department Head and published in the Official Gazette or
otherwise publicly promulgated". (See Commissioner of Civil Service vs. Cruz, 122 Phil. 1015.)
In the instant case, the livestock inspector and the provincial veterinarian of Camarines Norte and
the head of the Public Affairs Office of the Ministry of Agriculture were unaware of Executive Order
No. 626-A. The Pesigans could not have been expected to be cognizant of such an executive order.
It results that they have a cause of action for the recovery of the carabaos. The summary
confiscation was not in order. The recipients of the carabaos should return them to the Pesigans.
However, they cannot transport the carabaos to Batangas because they are now bound by the said
executive order. Neither can they recover damages. Doctor Miranda and Zenarosa acted in good
faith in ordering the forfeiture and dispersal of the carabaos.
WHEREFORE, the trial court's order of dismissal and the confiscation and dispersal of the carabaos
are reversed and set aside. Respondents Miranda and Zenarosa are ordered to restore the
carabaos, with the requisite documents, to the petitioners, who as owners are entitled to possess the
same, with the right to dispose of them in Basud or Sipocot, Camarines Sur. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

1wph1.t

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 142396

February 11, 2003

KHOSROW MINUCHER, petitioner,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and ARTHUR SCALZO, respondents.
DECISION
VITUG, J.:
Sometime in May 1986, an Information for violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise
also known as the "Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972," was filed against petitioner Khosrow Minucher
and one Abbas Torabian with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 151, of Pasig City. The criminal
charge followed a "buy-bust operation" conducted by the Philippine police narcotic agents in the
house of Minucher, an Iranian national, where a quantity of heroin, a prohibited drug, was said to
have been seized. The narcotic agents were accompanied by private respondent Arthur Scalzo who
would, in due time, become one of the principal witnesses for the prosecution. On 08 January 1988,
Presiding Judge Eutropio Migrino rendered a decision acquitting the two accused.
On 03 August 1988, Minucher filed Civil Case No. 88-45691 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 19, of Manila for damages on account of what he claimed to have been trumped-up charges
of drug trafficking made by Arthur Scalzo. The Manila RTC detailed what it had found to be the facts
and circumstances surrounding the case.
"The testimony of the plaintiff disclosed that he is an Iranian national. He came to the Philippines to
study in the University of the Philippines in 1974. In 1976, under the regime of the Shah of Iran, he
was appointed Labor Attach for the Iranian Embassies in Tokyo, Japan and Manila, Philippines.
When the Shah of Iran was deposed by Ayatollah Khomeini, plaintiff became a refugee of the United
Nations and continued to stay in the Philippines. He headed the Iranian National Resistance
Movement in the Philippines.
"He came to know the defendant on May 13, 1986, when the latter was brought to his house and
introduced to him by a certain Jose Iigo, an informer of the Intelligence Unit of the military. Jose
Iigo, on the other hand, was met by plaintiff at the office of Atty. Crisanto Saruca, a lawyer for
several Iranians whom plaintiff assisted as head of the anti-Khomeini movement in the Philippines.
"During his first meeting with the defendant on May 13, 1986, upon the introduction of Jose Iigo, the
defendant expressed his interest in buying caviar. As a matter of fact, he bought two kilos of caviar
from plaintiff and paid P10,000.00 for it. Selling caviar, aside from that of Persian carpets, pistachio
nuts and other Iranian products was his business after the Khomeini government cut his pension of
over $3,000.00 per month. During their introduction in that meeting, the defendant gave the plaintiff
his calling card, which showed that he is working at the US Embassy in the Philippines, as a special
agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice, of the United States, and gave
his address as US Embassy, Manila. At the back of the card appears a telephone number in
defendants own handwriting, the number of which he can also be contacted.
"It was also during this first meeting that plaintiff expressed his desire to obtain a US Visa for his wife
and the wife of a countryman named Abbas Torabian. The defendant told him that he [could] help
plaintiff for a fee of $2,000.00 per visa. Their conversation, however, was more concentrated on
politics, carpets and caviar. Thereafter, the defendant promised to see plaintiff again.

"On May 19, 1986, the defendant called the plaintiff and invited the latter for dinner at Mario's
Restaurant at Makati. He wanted to buy 200 grams of caviar. Plaintiff brought the merchandize but
for the reason that the defendant was not yet there, he requested the restaurant people to x x x
place the same in the refrigerator. Defendant, however, came and plaintiff gave him the caviar for
which he was paid. Then their conversation was again focused on politics and business.
"On May 26, 1986, defendant visited plaintiff again at the latter's residence for 18 years at Kapitolyo,
Pasig. The defendant wanted to buy a pair of carpets which plaintiff valued at $27,900.00. After
some haggling, they agreed at $24,000.00. For the reason that defendant did not yet have the
money, they agreed that defendant would come back the next day. The following day, at 1:00 p.m.,
he came back with his $24,000.00, which he gave to the plaintiff, and the latter, in turn, gave him the
pair of carpets.
1awphi1.nt

"At about 3:00 in the afternoon of May 27, 1986, the defendant came back again to plaintiff's house
and directly proceeded to the latter's bedroom, where the latter and his countryman, Abbas Torabian,
were playing chess. Plaintiff opened his safe in the bedroom and obtained $2,000.00 from it, gave it
to the defendant for the latter's fee in obtaining a visa for plaintiff's wife. The defendant told him that
he would be leaving the Philippines very soon and requested him to come out of the house for a
while so that he can introduce him to his cousin waiting in a cab. Without much ado, and without
putting on his shirt as he was only in his pajama pants, he followed the defendant where he saw a
parked cab opposite the street. To his complete surprise, an American jumped out of the cab with a
drawn high-powered gun. He was in the company of about 30 to 40 Filipino soldiers with 6
Americans, all armed. He was handcuffed and after about 20 minutes in the street, he was brought
inside the house by the defendant. He was made to sit down while in handcuffs while the defendant
was inside his bedroom. The defendant came out of the bedroom and out from defendant's attach
case, he took something and placed it on the table in front of the plaintiff. They also took plaintiff's
wife who was at that time at the boutique near his house and likewise arrested Torabian, who was
playing chess with him in the bedroom and both were handcuffed together. Plaintiff was not told why
he was being handcuffed and why the privacy of his house, especially his bedroom was invaded by
defendant. He was not allowed to use the telephone. In fact, his telephone was unplugged. He
asked for any warrant, but the defendant told him to `shut up. He was nevertheless told that he
would be able to call for his lawyer who can defend him.
"The plaintiff took note of the fact that when the defendant invited him to come out to meet his
cousin, his safe was opened where he kept the $24,000.00 the defendant paid for the carpets and
another $8,000.00 which he also placed in the safe together with a bracelet worth $15,000.00 and a
pair of earrings worth $10,000.00. He also discovered missing upon his release his 8 pieces handmade Persian carpets, valued at $65,000.00, a painting he bought for P30,000.00 together with his
TV and betamax sets. He claimed that when he was handcuffed, the defendant took his keys from
his wallet. There was, therefore, nothing left in his house.
"That his arrest as a heroin trafficker x x x had been well publicized throughout the world, in various
newspapers, particularly in Australia, America, Central Asia and in the Philippines. He was identified
in the papers as an international drug trafficker. x x x
In fact, the arrest of defendant and Torabian was likewise on television, not only in the Philippines,
but also in America and in Germany. His friends in said places informed him that they saw him on TV
with said news.

"After the arrest made on plaintiff and Torabian, they were brought to Camp Crame handcuffed
together, where they were detained for three days without food and water." 1
During the trial, the law firm of Luna, Sison and Manas, filed a special appearance for Scalzo and
moved for extension of time to file an answer pending a supposed advice from the United States
Department of State and Department of Justice on the defenses to be raised. The trial court granted
the motion. On 27 October 1988, Scalzo filed another special appearance to quash the summons on
the ground that he, not being a resident of the Philippines and the action being one in personam,
was beyond the processes of the court. The motion was denied by the court, in its order of 13
December 1988, holding that the filing by Scalzo of a motion for extension of time to file an answer
to the complaint was a voluntary appearance equivalent to service of summons which could likewise
be construed a waiver of the requirement of formal notice. Scalzo filed a motion for reconsideration
of the court order, contending that a motion for an extension of time to file an answer was not a
voluntary appearance equivalent to service of summons since it did not seek an affirmative relief.
Scalzo argued that in cases involving the United States government, as well as its agencies and
officials, a motion for extension was peculiarly unavoidable due to the need (1) for both the
Department of State and the Department of Justice to agree on the defenses to be raised and (2) to
refer the case to a Philippine lawyer who would be expected to first review the case. The court a quo
denied the motion for reconsideration in its order of 15 October 1989.
Scalzo filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals, there docketed CA-G.R. No. 17023,
assailing the denial. In a decision, dated 06 October 1989, the appellate court denied the petition
and affirmed the ruling of the trial court. Scalzo then elevated the incident in a petition for review on
certiorari, docketed G.R. No. 91173, to this Court. The petition, however, was denied for its failure to
comply with SC Circular No. 1-88; in any event, the Court added, Scalzo had failed to show that the
appellate court was in error in its questioned judgment.
Meanwhile, at the court a quo, an order, dated 09 February 1990, was issued (a) declaring Scalzo in
default for his failure to file a responsive pleading (answer) and (b) setting the case for the reception
of evidence. On 12 March 1990, Scalzo filed a motion to set aside the order of default and to admit
his answer to the complaint. Granting the motion, the trial court set the case for pre-trial. In his
answer, Scalzo denied the material allegations of the complaint and raised the affirmative defenses
(a) of Minuchers failure to state a cause of action in his complaint and (b) that Scalzo had acted in
the discharge of his official duties as being merely an agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration
of the United States Department of Justice. Scalzo interposed a counterclaim of P100,000.00 to
answer for attorneys' fees and expenses of litigation.
Then, on 14 June 1990, after almost two years since the institution of the civil case, Scalzo filed a
motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that, being a special agent of the United States Drug
Enforcement Administration, he was entitled to diplomatic immunity. He attached to his motion
Diplomatic Note No. 414 of the United States Embassy, dated 29 May 1990, addressed to the
Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines and a Certification, dated 11 June 1990, of Vice
Consul Donna Woodward, certifying that the note is a true and faithful copy of its original. In an order
of 25 June 1990, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss.
On 27 July 1990, Scalzo filed a petition for certiorari with injunction with this Court, docketed G.R.
No. 94257 and entitled "Arthur W. Scalzo, Jr., vs. Hon. Wenceslao Polo, et al.," asking that the
complaint in Civil Case No. 88-45691 be ordered dismissed. The case was referred to the Court of
Appeals, there docketed CA-G.R. SP No. 22505, per this Courts resolution of 07 August 1990. On

31 October 1990, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision sustaining the diplomatic immunity
of Scalzo and ordering the dismissal of the complaint against him. Minucher filed a petition for review
with this Court, docketed G.R. No. 97765 and entitled "Khosrow Minucher vs. the Honorable Court of
Appeals, et. al." (cited in 214 SCRA 242), appealing the judgment of the Court of Appeals. In a
decision, dated 24 September 1992, penned by Justice (now Chief Justice) Hilario Davide, Jr., this
Court reversed the decision of the appellate court and remanded the case to the lower court for trial.
The remand was ordered on the theses (a) that the Court of Appeals erred in granting the motion to
dismiss of Scalzo for lack of jurisdiction over his person without even considering the issue of the
authenticity of Diplomatic Note No. 414 and (b) that the complaint contained sufficient allegations to
the effect that Scalzo committed the imputed acts in his personal capacity and outside the scope of
his official duties and, absent any evidence to the contrary, the issue on Scalzos diplomatic
immunity could not be taken up.
The Manila RTC thus continued with its hearings on the case. On 17 November 1995, the trial court
reached a decision; it adjudged:
"WHEREFORE, and in view of all the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered for the
plaintiff, who successfully established his claim by sufficient evidence, against the defendant in the
manner following:
"`Adjudging defendant liable to plaintiff in actual and compensatory damages of P520,000.00; moral
damages in the sum of P10 million; exemplary damages in the sum of P100,000.00; attorney's fees
in the sum of P200,000.00 plus costs.
`The Clerk of the Regional Trial Court, Manila, is ordered to take note of the lien of the Court on this
judgment to answer for the unpaid docket fees considering that the plaintiff in this case instituted this
action as a pauper litigant."2
While the trial court gave credence to the claim of Scalzo and the evidence presented by him that he
was a diplomatic agent entitled to immunity as such, it ruled that he, nevertheless, should be held
accountable for the acts complained of committed outside his official duties. On appeal, the Court of
Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court and sustained the defense of Scalzo that he was
sufficiently clothed with diplomatic immunity during his term of duty and thereby immune from the
criminal and civil jurisdiction of the "Receiving State" pursuant to the terms of the Vienna
Convention.
Hence, this recourse by Minucher. The instant petition for review raises a two-fold issue: (1) whether
or not the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment, following the decision rendered by this Court in
G.R. No. 97765, should have precluded the Court of Appeals from resolving the appeal to it in an
entirely different manner, and (2) whether or not Arthur Scalzo is indeed entitled to diplomatic
immunity.
The doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment, or its kindred rule of res judicata, would require 1) the
finality of the prior judgment, 2) a valid jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties on the part
of the court that renders it, 3) a judgment on the merits, and 4) an identity of the parties, subject
matter and causes of action.3 Even while one of the issues submitted in G.R. No. 97765 - "whether
or not public respondent Court of Appeals erred in ruling that private respondent Scalzo is a diplomat
immune from civil suit conformably with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations" - is also a

pivotal question raised in the instant petition, the ruling in G.R. No. 97765, however, has not resolved
that point with finality. Indeed, the Court there has made this observation "It may be mentioned in this regard that private respondent himself, in his Pre-trial Brief filed on 13
June 1990, unequivocally states that he would present documentary evidence consisting of DEA
records on his investigation and surveillance of plaintiff and on his position and duties as DEA
special agent in Manila. Having thus reserved his right to present evidence in support of his position,
which is the basis for the alleged diplomatic immunity, the barren self-serving claim in the belated
motion to dismiss cannot be relied upon for a reasonable, intelligent and fair resolution of the issue
of diplomatic immunity."4
Scalzo contends that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which the Philippines is a
signatory, grants him absolute immunity from suit, describing his functions as an agent of the United
States Drugs Enforcement Agency as "conducting surveillance operations on suspected drug
dealers in the Philippines believed to be the source of prohibited drugs being shipped to the U.S.,
(and) having ascertained the target, (he then) would inform the Philippine narcotic agents (to) make
the actual arrest." Scalzo has submitted to the trial court a number of documents 1. Exh. '2' - Diplomatic Note No. 414 dated 29 May 1990;
2. Exh. '1' - Certification of Vice Consul Donna K. Woodward dated 11 June 1990;
3. Exh. '5' - Diplomatic Note No. 757 dated 25 October 1991;
4. Exh. '6' - Diplomatic Note No. 791 dated 17 November 1992; and
5. Exh. '7' - Diplomatic Note No. 833 dated 21 October 1988.
6. Exh. '3' - 1st Indorsement of the Hon. Jorge R. Coquia, Legal Adviser, Department of
Foreign Affairs, dated 27 June 1990 forwarding Embassy Note No. 414 to the Clerk of Court
of RTC Manila, Branch 19 (the trial court);
7. Exh. '4' - Diplomatic Note No. 414, appended to the 1st Indorsement (Exh. '3'); and
8. Exh. '8' - Letter dated 18 November 1992 from the Office of the Protocol, Department of
Foreign Affairs, through Asst. Sec. Emmanuel Fernandez, addressed to the Chief Justice of
this Court.5
The documents, according to Scalzo, would show that: (1) the United States Embassy accordingly
advised the Executive Department of the Philippine Government that Scalzo was a member of the
diplomatic staff of the United States diplomatic mission from his arrival in the Philippines on 14
October 1985 until his departure on 10 August 1988; (2) that the United States Government was firm
from the very beginning in asserting the diplomatic immunity of Scalzo with respect to the case
pursuant to the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations; and (3) that the United
States Embassy repeatedly urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to take appropriate action to
inform the trial court of Scalzos diplomatic immunity. The other documentary exhibits were
presented to indicate that: (1) the Philippine government itself, through its Executive Department,
recognizing and respecting the diplomatic status of Scalzo, formally advised the "Judicial

Department" of his diplomatic status and his entitlement to all diplomatic privileges and immunities
under the Vienna Convention; and (2) the Department of Foreign Affairs itself authenticated
Diplomatic Note No. 414. Scalzo additionally presented Exhibits "9" to "13" consisting of his reports
of investigation on the surveillance and subsequent arrest of Minucher, the certification of the Drug
Enforcement Administration of the United States Department of Justice that Scalzo was a special
agent assigned to the Philippines at all times relevant to the complaint, and the special power of
attorney executed by him in favor of his previous counsel6 to show (a) that the United States
Embassy, affirmed by its Vice Consul, acknowledged Scalzo to be a member of the diplomatic staff
of the United States diplomatic mission from his arrival in the Philippines on 14 October 1985 until
his departure on 10 August 1988, (b) that, on May 1986, with the cooperation of the Philippine law
enforcement officials and in the exercise of his functions as member of the mission, he investigated
Minucher for alleged trafficking in a prohibited drug, and (c) that the Philippine Department of
Foreign Affairs itself recognized that Scalzo during his tour of duty in the Philippines (14 October
1985 up to 10 August 1988) was listed as being an Assistant Attach of the United States diplomatic
mission and accredited with diplomatic status by the Government of the Philippines. In his Exhibit
12, Scalzo described the functions of the overseas office of the United States Drugs Enforcement
Agency, i.e., (1) to provide criminal investigative expertise and assistance to foreign law enforcement
agencies on narcotic and drug control programs upon the request of the host country, 2) to establish
and maintain liaison with the host country and counterpart foreign law enforcement officials, and 3)
to conduct complex criminal investigations involving international criminal conspiracies which affect
the interests of the United States.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations was a codification of centuries-old customary law
and, by the time of its ratification on 18 April 1961, its rules of law had long become stable. Among
the city states of ancient Greece, among the peoples of the Mediterranean before the establishment
of the Roman Empire, and among the states of India, the person of the herald in time of war and the
person of the diplomatic envoy in time of peace were universally held sacrosanct. 7 By the end of the
16th century, when the earliest treatises on diplomatic law were published, the inviolability of
ambassadors was firmly established as a rule of customary international law.8Traditionally, the
exercise of diplomatic intercourse among states was undertaken by the head of state himself, as
being the preeminent embodiment of the state he represented, and the foreign secretary, the official
usually entrusted with the external affairs of the state. Where a state would wish to have a more
prominent diplomatic presence in the receiving state, it would then send to the latter a diplomatic
mission. Conformably with the Vienna Convention, the functions of the diplomatic mission involve, by
and large, the representation of the interests of the sending state and promoting friendly relations
with the receiving state.9
The Convention lists the classes of heads of diplomatic missions to include (a) ambassadors or
nuncios accredited to the heads of state,10 (b) envoys,11 ministers or internuncios accredited to the
heads of states; and (c) charges d' affairs12 accredited to the ministers of foreign affairs.13 Comprising
the "staff of the (diplomatic) mission" are the diplomatic staff, the administrative staff and the
technical and service staff. Only the heads of missions, as well as members of the diplomatic staff,
excluding the members of the administrative, technical and service staff of the mission, are accorded
diplomatic rank. Even while the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides for immunity to
the members of diplomatic missions, it does so, nevertheless, with an understanding that the same
be restrictively applied. Only "diplomatic agents," under the terms of the Convention, are vested with
blanket diplomatic immunity from civil and criminal suits. The Convention defines "diplomatic agents"
as the heads of missions or members of the diplomatic staff, thus impliedly withholding the same
privileges from all others. It might bear stressing that even consuls, who represent their respective

states in concerns of commerce and navigation and perform certain administrative and notarial
duties, such as the issuance of passports and visas, authentication of documents, and
administration of oaths, do not ordinarily enjoy the traditional diplomatic immunities and privileges
accorded diplomats, mainly for the reason that they are not charged with the duty of representing
their states in political matters. Indeed, the main yardstick in ascertaining whether a person is a
diplomat entitled to immunity is the determination of whether or not he performs duties of diplomatic
nature.
Scalzo asserted, particularly in his Exhibits "9" to "13," that he was an Assistant Attach of the United
States diplomatic mission and was accredited as such by the Philippine Government. An attach
belongs to a category of officers in the diplomatic establishment who may be in charge of its cultural,
press, administrative or financial affairs. There could also be a class of attaches belonging to certain
ministries or departments of the government, other than the foreign ministry or department, who are
detailed by their respective ministries or departments with the embassies such as the military, naval,
air, commercial, agricultural, labor, science, and customs attaches, or the like. Attaches assist a chief
of mission in his duties and are administratively under him, but their main function is to observe,
analyze and interpret trends and developments in their respective fields in the host country and
submit reports to their own ministries or departments in the home government. 14 These officials are
not generally regarded as members of the diplomatic mission, nor are they normally designated as
having diplomatic rank.
In an attempt to prove his diplomatic status, Scalzo presented Diplomatic Notes Nos. 414, 757 and
791, all issued post litem motam, respectively, on 29 May 1990, 25 October 1991 and 17 November
1992. The presentation did nothing much to alleviate the Court's initial reservations in G.R. No.
97765, viz:
"While the trial court denied the motion to dismiss, the public respondent gravely abused its
discretion in dismissing Civil Case No. 88-45691 on the basis of an erroneous assumption that
simply because of the diplomatic note, the private respondent is clothed with diplomatic immunity,
thereby divesting the trial court of jurisdiction over his person.
"x x x x x x x x x
"And now, to the core issue - the alleged diplomatic immunity of the private respondent. Setting
aside for the moment the issue of authenticity raised by the petitioner and the doubts that surround
such claim, in view of the fact that it took private respondent one (1) year, eight (8) months and
seventeen (17) days from the time his counsel filed on 12 September 1988 a Special Appearance
and Motion asking for a first extension of time to file the Answer because the Departments of State
and Justice of the United States of America were studying the case for the purpose of determining
his defenses, before he could secure the Diplomatic Note from the US Embassy in Manila, and even
granting for the sake of argument that such note is authentic, the complaint for damages filed by
petitioner cannot be peremptorily dismissed.
"x x x x x x x x x
"There is of course the claim of private respondent that the acts imputed to him were done in his
official capacity. Nothing supports this self-serving claim other than the so-called Diplomatic Note. x x
x. The public respondent then should have sustained the trial court's denial of the motion to dismiss.
Verily, it should have been the most proper and appropriate recourse. It should not have been

overwhelmed by the self-serving Diplomatic Note whose belated issuance is even suspect and
whose authenticity has not yet been proved. The undue haste with which respondent Court yielded
to the private respondent's claim is arbitrary."
A significant document would appear to be Exhibit No. 08, dated 08 November 1992, issued by the
Office of Protocol of the Department of Foreign Affairs and signed by Emmanuel C. Fernandez,
Assistant Secretary, certifying that "the records of the Department (would) show that Mr. Arthur W.
Scalzo, Jr., during his term of office in the Philippines (from 14 October 1985 up to 10 August 1988)
was listed as an Assistant Attach of the United States diplomatic mission and was, therefore,
accredited diplomatic status by the Government of the Philippines." No certified true copy of such
"records," the supposed bases for the belated issuance, was presented in evidence.
Concededly, vesting a person with diplomatic immunity is a prerogative of the executive branch of
the government. In World Health Organization vs. Aquino, 15 the Court has recognized that, in such
matters, the hands of the courts are virtually tied. Amidst apprehensions of indiscriminate and
incautious grant of immunity, designed to gain exemption from the jurisdiction of courts, it should
behoove the Philippine government, specifically its Department of Foreign Affairs, to be most
circumspect, that should particularly be no less than compelling, in its post litem motam issuances. It
might be recalled that the privilege is not an immunity from the observance of the law of the territorial
sovereign or from ensuing legal liability; it is, rather, an immunity from the exercise of territorial
jurisdiction.16 The government of the United States itself, which Scalzo claims to be acting for, has
formulated its standards for recognition of a diplomatic agent. The State Department policy is to only
concede diplomatic status to a person who possesses an acknowledged diplomatic title and
"performs duties of diplomatic nature."17 Supplementary criteria for accreditation are the possession
of a valid diplomatic passport or, from States which do not issue such passports, a diplomatic note
formally representing the intention to assign the person to diplomatic duties, the holding of a nonimmigrant visa, being over twenty-one years of age, and performing diplomatic functions on an
essentially full-time basis.18 Diplomatic missions are requested to provide the most accurate and
descriptive job title to that which currently applies to the duties performed. The Office of the Protocol
would then assign each individual to the appropriate functional category.19
But while the diplomatic immunity of Scalzo might thus remain contentious, it was sufficiently
established that, indeed, he worked for the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and was tasked
to conduct surveillance of suspected drug activities within the country on the dates pertinent to this
case. If it should be ascertained that Arthur Scalzo was acting well within his assigned functions
when he committed the acts alleged in the complaint, the present controversy could then be
resolved under the related doctrine of State Immunity from Suit.
The precept that a State cannot be sued in the courts of a foreign state is a long-standing rule
of customary international law then closely identified with the personal immunity of a foreign
sovereign from suit20 and, with the emergence of democratic states, made to attach not just to the
person of the head of state, or his representative, but also distinctly to the state itself in its sovereign
capacity.21 If the acts giving rise to a suit are those of a foreign government done by its foreign agent,
although not necessarily a diplomatic personage, but acting in his official capacity, the complaint
could be barred by the immunity of the foreign sovereign from suit without its consent. Suing a
representative of a state is believed to be, in effect, suing the state itself. The proscription is not
accorded for the benefit of an individual but for the State, in whose service he is, under the maxim par in parem, non habet imperium - that all states are sovereign equals and cannot assert
jurisdiction over one another.22 The implication, in broad terms, is that if the judgment against an

official would require the state itself to perform an affirmative act to satisfy the award, such as the
appropriation of the amount needed to pay the damages decreed against him, the suit must be
regarded as being against the state itself, although it has not been formally impleaded. 23
In United States of America vs. Guinto,24 involving officers of the United States Air Force and special
officers of the Air Force Office of Special Investigators charged with the duty of preventing the
distribution, possession and use of prohibited drugs, this Court has ruled "While the doctrine (of state immunity) appears to prohibit only suits against the state without its
consent, it is also applicable to complaints filed against officials of the state for acts allegedly
performed by them in the discharge of their duties. x x x. It cannot for a moment be imagined that
they were acting in their private or unofficial capacity when they apprehended and later testified
against the complainant. It follows that for discharging their duties as agents of the United States,
they cannot be directly impleaded for acts imputable to their principal, which has not given its
consent to be sued. x x x As they have acted on behalf of the government, and within the scope of
their authority, it is that government, and not the petitioners personally, [who were] responsible for
their acts."25
This immunity principle, however, has its limitations. Thus, Shauf vs. Court of Appeals 26 elaborates:
"It is a different matter where the public official is made to account in his capacity as such for acts
contrary to law and injurious to the rights of the plaintiff. As was clearly set forth by Justice Zaldivar in
Director of the Bureau of Telecommunications, et al., vs. Aligaen, et al. (33 SCRA 368): `Inasmuch
as the State authorizes only legal acts by its officers, unauthorized acts of government officials or
officers are not acts of the State, and an action against the officials or officers by one whose rights
have been invaded or violated by such acts, for the protection of his rights, is not a suit against the
State within the rule of immunity of the State from suit. In the same tenor, it has been said that an
action at law or suit in equity against a State officer or the director of a State department on the
ground that, while claiming to act for the State, he violates or invades the personal and property
rights of the plaintiff, under an unconstitutional act or under an assumption of authority which he
does not have, is not a suit against the State within the constitutional provision that the State may
not be sued without its consent. The rationale for this ruling is that the doctrine of state immunity
cannot be used as an instrument for perpetrating an injustice.
"x x x x x x x x x
"(T)he doctrine of immunity from suit will not apply and may not be invoked where the public official
is being sued in his private and personal capacity as an ordinary citizen. The cloak of protection
afforded the officers and agents of the government is removed the moment they are sued in their
individual capacity. This situation usually arises where the public official acts without authority or in
excess of the powers vested in him. It is a well-settled principle of law that a public official may be
liable in his personal private capacity for whatever damage he may have caused by his act done with
malice and in bad faith or beyond the scope of his authority and jurisdiction." 27
A foreign agent, operating within a territory, can be cloaked with immunity from suit but only as long
as it can be established that he is acting within the directives of the sending state. The consent of
the host state is an indispensable requirement of basic courtesy between the two sovereigns. Guinto
and Shauf both involve officers and personnel of the United States, stationed within Philippine
territory, under the RP-US Military Bases Agreement. While evidence is wanting to show any similar

agreement between the governments of the Philippines and of the United States (for the latter to
send its agents and to conduct surveillance and related activities of suspected drug dealers in the
Philippines), the consent or imprimatur of the Philippine government to the activities of the United
States Drug Enforcement Agency, however, can be gleaned from the facts heretofore elsewhere
mentioned. The official exchanges of communication between agencies of the government of the two
countries, certifications from officials of both the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the
United States Embassy, as well as the participation of members of the Philippine Narcotics
Command in the "buy-bust operation" conducted at the residence of Minucher at the behest of
Scalzo, may be inadequate to support the "diplomatic status" of the latter but they give enough
indication that the Philippine government has given its imprimatur, if not consent, to the activities
within Philippine territory of agent Scalzo of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. The job
description of Scalzo has tasked him to conduct surveillance on suspected drug suppliers and, after
having ascertained the target, to inform local law enforcers who would then be expected to make the
arrest. In conducting surveillance activities on Minucher, later acting as the poseur-buyer during the
buy-bust operation, and then becoming a principal witness in the criminal case against Minucher,
Scalzo hardly can be said to have acted beyond the scope of his official function or duties.
All told, this Court is constrained to rule that respondent Arthur Scalzo, an agent of the United States
Drug Enforcement Agency allowed by the Philippine government to conduct activities in the country
to help contain the problem on the drug traffic, is entitled to the defense of state immunity from suit.
WHEREFORE, on the foregoing premises, the petition is DENIED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 125865

January 28, 2000

JEFFREY LIANG (HUEFENG), petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
Petitioner is an economist working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Sometime in 1994, for
allegedly uttering defamatory words against fellow ADB worker Joyce Cabal, he was charged before
the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Mandaluyong City with two counts of grave oral defamation
docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 53170 and 53171. Petitioner was arrested by virtue of a warrant
issued by the MeTC. After fixing petitioner's bail at P2,400.00 per criminal charge, the MeTC
released him to the custody of the Security Officer of ADB. The next day, the MeTC judge received
an "office of protocol" from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stating that petitioner is covered
by immunity from legal process under Section 45 of the Agreement between the ADB and the
Philippine Government regarding the Headquarters of the ADB (hereinafter Agreement) in the
country. Based on the said protocol communication that petitioner is immune from suit, the MeTC

judge without notice to the prosecution dismissed the two criminal cases. The latter filed a motion for
reconsideration which was opposed by the DFA. When its motion was denied, the prosecution filed a
petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig City which set
aside the MeTC rulings and ordered the latter court to enforce the warrant of arrest it earlier issued.
After the motion for reconsideration was denied, petitioner elevated the case to this Court via a
petition for review arguing that he is covered by immunity under the Agreement and that no
preliminary investigation was held before the criminal cases were filed in court.
1wphi1.nt

The petition is not impressed with merit.


First, courts cannot blindly adhere and take on its face the communication from the DFA that
petitioner is covered by any immunity. The DFA's determination that a certain person is covered by
immunity is only preliminary which has no binding effect in courts. In receiving ex-parte the DFA's
advice and in motu propio dismissing the two criminal cases without notice to the prosecution, the
latter's right to due process was violated. It should be noted that due process is a right of the
accused as much as it is of the prosecution. The needed inquiry in what capacity petitioner was
acting at the time of the alleged utterances requires for its resolution evidentiary basis that has yet to
be presented at the proper time.1 At any rate, it has been ruled that the mere invocation of the
immunity clause does not ipso facto result in the dropping of the charges.2
Second, under Section 45 of the Agreement which provides:
Officers and staff of the Bank including for the purpose of this Article experts and consultants
performing missions for the Bank shall enjoy the following privileges and immunities:
a.) immunity from legal process with respect to acts performed by them in their
official capacity except when the Bank waives the immunity.
the immunity mentioned therein is not absolute, but subject to the exception that the acts was done
in "official capacity." It is therefore necessary to determine if petitioner's case falls within the ambit of
Section 45(a). Thus, the prosecution should have been given the chance to rebut the DFA protocol
and it must be accorded the opportunity to present its controverting evidence, should it so desire.
Third, slandering a person could not possibly be covered by the immunity agreement because our
laws do not allow the commission of a crime, such as defamation, in the name of official duty.3 The
imputation of theft is ultra vires and cannot be part of official functions. It is well-settled principle of
law that a public official may be liable in his personal private capacity for whatever damage he may
have caused by his act done with malice or in bad faith or beyond the scope of his authority or
jurisdiction.4 It appears that even the government's chief legal counsel, the Solicitor General, does
not support the stand taken by petitioner and that of the DFA.
Fourth, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic agent, assuming
petitioner is such, enjoys immunity from criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state except in the case
of an action relating to any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in
the receiving state outside his official functions.5 As already mentioned above, the commission of a
crime is not part of official duty.
Finally, on the contention that there was no preliminary investigation conducted, suffice it to say that
preliminary investigation is not a matter of right in cases cognizable by the MeTC such as the one at

bar.6 Being purely a statutory right, preliminary investigation may be invoked only when specifically
granted by law.7 The rule on the criminal procedure is clear that no preliminary investigation is
required in cases falling within the jurisdiction of the MeTC. 8 Besides the absence of preliminary
investigation does not affect the court's jurisdiction nor does it impair the validity of the information or
otherwise render it defective.9
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.

1wphi1.nt

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 125865

March 26, 2001

JEFFREY LIANG (HUEFENG), petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
RESOLUTION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This resolves petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of our Decision dated January 28, 2000,
denying the petition for review.
The Motion is anchored on the following arguments:
1) THE DFA'S DETERMINATION OF IMMUNITY IS A POLITICAL QUESTION TO BE MADE
BY THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT AND IS CONCLUSIVE UPON THE
COURTS.
2) THE IMMUNITY OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS IS ABSOLUTE.
3) THE IMMUNITY EXTENDS TO ALL STAFF OF THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
(ADB).
4) DUE PROCESS WAS FULLY AFFORDED THE COMPLAINANT TO REBUT THE DFA
PROTOCOL.
5) THE DECISION OF JANUARY 28, 2000 ERRONEOUSLY MADE A FINDING OF FACT
ON THE MERITS, NAMELY, THE SLANDERING OF A PERSON WHICH PREJUDGED

PETITIONER'S CASE BEFORE THE METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT (MTC)MANDALUYONG.


6) THE VIENNA CONVENTION ON DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS IS NOT APPLICABLE TO
THIS CASE.
This case has its origin in two criminal Informations1 for grave oral defamation filed against petitioner,
a Chinese national who was employed as an Economist by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),
alleging that on separate occasions on January 28 and January 31, 1994, petitioner allegedly uttered
defamatory words to Joyce V. Cabal, a member of the clerical staff of ADB. On April 13, 1994, the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Mandaluyong City, acting pursuant to an advice from the Department of
Foreign Affairs that petitioner enjoyed immunity from legal processes, dismissed the criminal
Informations against him. On a petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by the People, the
Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 160, annulled and set aside the order of the Metropolitan
Trial Court dismissing the criminal cases.2
Petitioner, thus, brought a petition for review with this Court. On January 28, 2000, we rendered the
assailed Decision denying the petition for review. We ruled, in essence, that the immunity granted to
officers and staff of the ADB is not absolute; it is limited to acts performed in an official capacity.
Furthermore, we held that the immunity cannot cover the commission of a crime such as slander or
oral defamation in the name of official duty.
On October 18, 2000, the oral arguments of the parties were heard. This Court also granted the
Motion for Intervention of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Thereafter, the parties were directed to
submit their respective memorandum.
For the most part, petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration deals with the diplomatic immunity of the
ADB, its officials and staff, from legal and judicial processes in the Philippines, as well as the
constitutional and political bases thereof. It should be made clear that nowhere in the assailed
Decision is diplomatic immunity denied, even remotely. The issue in this case, rather, boils down to
whether or not the statements allegedly made by petitioner were uttered while in the performance of
his official functions, in order for this case to fall squarely under the provisions of Section 45 (a) of
the "Agreement Between the Asian Development Bank and the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines Regarding the Headquarters of the Asian Development Bank," to wit:
Officers and staff of the Bank, including for the purpose of this Article experts and
consultants performing missions for the Bank, shall enjoy the following privileges and
immunities:
(a) Immunity from legal process with respect to acts performed by them in their
official capacity except when the Bank waives the immunity.
After a careful deliberation of the arguments raised in petitioner's and intervenor's Motions for
Reconsideration, we find no cogent reason to disturb our Decision of January 28, 2000. As we have
stated therein, the slander of a person, by any stretch, cannot be considered as falling within the
purview of the immunity granted to ADB officers and personnel. Petitioner argues that the Decision
had the effect of prejudging the criminal case for oral defamation against him. We wish to stress that
it did not. What we merely stated therein is that slander, in general, cannot be considered as an act
performed in an official capacity. The issue of whether or not petitioner's utterances constituted oral
defamation is still for the trial court to determine.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Motions for Reconsideration filed by petitioner and
intervenor Department of Foreign Affairs are DENIED with FINALITY.
SO ORDERED.
Kapunan and Pardo, JJ ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., I also join concurring opinion of Mr. Justice Puno.
Puno, J., Please see concurring opinion.

Concurring Opinions
PUNO, J., concurring:
For resolution is the Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioner Jeffrey Liang of this Court's
decision dated January 28, 2000 which denied the petition for review. We there held that: the
protocol communication of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the effect that petitioner Liang is
covered by immunity is only preliminary and has no binding effect in courts; the immunity provided
for under Section 45(a) of the Headquarters Agreement is subject to the condition that the act be
done in an "official capacity"; that slandering a person cannot be said to have been done in an
"official capacity" and, hence, it is not covered by the immunity agreement; under the Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic agent, assuming petitioner is such, enjoys
immunity from criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state except in the case of an action relating to
any professional or commercial activity exercised by the diplomatic agent in the receiving state
outside his official functions; the commission of a crime is not part of official duty; and that a
preliminary investigation is not a matter of right in cases cognizable by the Metropolitan Trial Court.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration is anchored on the following arguments:
1. The DFA's determination of immunity is a political question to be made by the executive
branch of the government and is conclusive upon the courts;
2. The immunity of international organizations is absolute;
3. The immunity extends to all staff of the Asian Development Bank (ADB);
4. Due process was fully accorded the complainant to rebut the DFA protocol;
5. The decision of January 28, 2000 erroneously made a finding of fact on the merits,
namely, the slandering of a person which prejudged petitioner's case before the Metropolitan
Trial Court (MTC) Mandaluyong; and
6. The Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations is not applicable to this case.
Petitioner contends that a determination of a person's diplomatic immunity by the Department of
Foreign Affairs is a political question. It is solely within the prerogative of the executive department
and is conclusive upon the courts. In support of his submission, petitioner cites the following
cases: WHO vs. Aquino;1 International Catholic Migration Commission vs. Calleja;2 The Holy See vs.
Rosario, Jr.;3 Lasco vs. United Nations;4 and DFA vs. NLRC.5

It is further contended that the immunity conferred under the ADB Charter and the Headquarters
Agreement is absolute. It is designed to safeguard the autonomy and independence of international
organizations against interference from any authority external to the organizations. It is necessary to
allow such organizations to discharge their entrusted functions effectively. The only exception to this
immunity is when there is an implied or express waiver or when the immunity is expressly limited by
statute. The exception allegedly has no application to the case at bar.
Petitioner likewise urges that the international organization's immunity from local jurisdiction
empowers the ADB alone to determine what constitutes "official acts" and the same cannot be
subject to different interpretations by the member states. It asserts that the Headquarters Agreement
provides for remedies to check abuses against the exercise of the immunity. Thus, Section 49 states
that the "Bank shall waive the immunity accorded to any person if, in its opinion, such immunity
would impede the course of justice and the waiver would not prejudice the purposes for which the
immunities are accorded." Section 51 allows for consultation between the government and the Bank
should the government consider that an abuse has occurred. The same section provides the
mechanism for a dispute settlement regarding, among others, issues of interpretation or application
of the agreement.
Petitioner's argument that a determination by the Department of Foreign Affairs that he is entitled to
diplomatic immunity is a political question binding on the courts, is anchored on the ruling enunciated
in the case of WHO, et al. vs. Aquino, et al.,6 viz:
"It is a recognized principle of international law and under our system of separation of
powers that diplomatic immunity is essentially a political question and courts should refuse to
look beyond a determination by the executive branch of the government, and where the plea
of diplomatic immunity is recognized and affirmed by the executive branch of the government
as in the case at bar, it is then the duty of the courts to accept the claim of immunity upon
appropriate suggestion by the principal law officer of the government, the Solicitor General in
this case, or other officer acting under his direction. Hence, in adherence to the settled
principle that courts may not so exercise their jurisdiction by seizure and detention of
property, as to embarrass the executive arm of the government in conducting foreign
relations, it is accepted doctrine that in such cases the judicial department of the government
follows the action of the political branch and will not embarrass the latter by assuming an
antagonistic jurisdiction."
This ruling was reiterated in the subsequent cases of International Catholic Migration Commission
vs. Calleja;7The Holy See vs. Rosario, Jr.;8 Lasco vs. UN;9 and DFA vs. NLRC.10
The case of WHO vs. Aquino involved the search and seizure of personal effects of petitioner
Leonce Verstuyft, an official of the WHO. Verstuyft was certified to be entitled to diplomatic immunity
pursuant to the Host Agreement executed between the Philippines and the WHO.
ICMC vs. Calleja concerned a petition for certification election filed against ICMC and IRRI. As
international organizations, ICMC and IRRI were declared to possess diplomatic immunity. It was
held that they are not subject to local jurisdictions. It was ruled that the exercise of jurisdiction by the
Department of Labor over the case would defeat the very purpose of immunity, which is to shield the
affairs of international organizations from political pressure or control by the host country and to
ensure the unhampered performance of their functions.
Holy See v. Rosario, Jr. involved an action for annulment of sale of land against the Holy See, as
represented by the Papal Nuncio. The Court upheld the petitioner's defense of sovereign immunity. It
ruled that where a diplomatic envoy is granted immunity from the civil and administrative jurisdiction

of the receiving state over any real action relating to private immovable property situated in the
territory of the receiving state, which the envoy holds on behalf of the sending state for the purposes
of the mission, with all the more reason should immunity be recognized as regards the sovereign
itself, which in that case is the Holy See.
In Lasco vs. United Nations, the United Nations Revolving Fund for Natural Resources Exploration
was sued before the NLRC for illegal dismissal. The Court again upheld the doctrine of diplomatic
immunity invoked by the Fund.
Finally, DFA v. NLRC involved an illegal dismissal case filed against the Asian Development Bank.
Pursuant to its Charter and the Headquarters Agreement, the diplomatic immunity of the Asian
Development Bank was recognized by the Court.
It bears to stress that all of these cases pertain to the diplomatic immunity enjoyed by international
organizations. Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to the same diplomatic immunity and he cannot
be prosecuted for acts allegedly done in the exercise of his official functions.
The term "international organizations"
"is generally used to describe an organization set up by agreement between two or more
states. Under contemporary international law, such organizations are endowed with some
degree of international legal personality such that they are capable of exercising specific
rights, duties and powers. They are organized mainly as a means for conducting general
international business in which the member states have an interest." 11
International public officials have been defined as:
". . . persons who, on the basis of an international treaty constituting a particular international
community, are appointed by this international community, or by an organ of it, and are under
its control to exercise, in a continuous way, functions in the interest of this particular
international community, and who are subject to a particular personal status." 12
"Specialized agencies" are international organizations having functions in particular fields,
such as posts, telecommunications, railways, canals, rivers, sea transport, civil aviation,
meteorology, atomic energy, finance, trade, education and culture, health and refugees. 13
Issues
1. Whether petitioner Liang, as an official of an international organization, is entitled to
diplomatic immunity;
2. Whether an international official is immune from criminal jurisdiction for all acts, whether
private or official;
3. Whether the authority to determine if an act is official or private is lodged in the courts;
4. Whether the certification by the Department of Foreign Affairs that petitioner is covered by
immunity is a political question that is binding and conclusive on the courts.
Discussion

I
A perusal of the immunities provisions in various international conventions and agreements will show
that the nature and degree of immunities vary depending on who the recipient is. Thus:
1. Charter of the United Nations
"Article 105 (1): The Organization shall enjoy in the territory of each of its Members such
privileges and immunities as are necessary for the fulfillment of its purposes.
Article 105 (2): Representatives of the Members of the United Nations and officials of the
Organization shall similarly enjoy such privileges and immunities as are necessary for the
independent exercise of their functions in connection with the Organization."
2. Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations
"Section 2: The United Nations, its property and assets wherever located and by
whomsoever held, shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except insofar as in
any particular case it has expressly waived its immunity. It is, however, understood that no
waiver of immunity shall extend to any measure of execution.
xxx xxx xxx
Section 11 (a): Representatives of Members to the principal and subsidiary organs of the
United Nations . . shall . . . enjoy . . . immunity from personal arrest or detention and from
seizure of their personal baggage, and, in respect of words spoken or written and all acts
done by them in their capacity as representatives, immunity from legal process of every kind.
xxx xxx xxx
Section 14: Privileges and immunities are accorded to the representatives of Members not
for the personal benefit of the individuals themselves, but in order to safeguard the
independent exercise of their functions in connection with the United Nations. Consequently,
a Member not only has the right but is under a duty to waive the immunity of its
representative in any case where in the opinion of the Member the immunity would impede
the course of justice, and it can be waived without prejudice to the purpose for which the
immunity is accorded.
xxx xxx xxx
Section 18 (a): Officials of the United Nations shall be immune from legal process in respect
of words spoken or written and all acts performed by them in their official capacity.
xxx xxx xxx
Section 19: In addition to the immunities and privileges specified in Section 18, the
Secretary-General and all Assistant Secretaries-General shall be accorded in respect of
themselves, their spouses and minor children, the privileges and immunities, exemptions
and facilities accorded to diplomatic envoys, in accordance with international law.

Section 20: Privileges and immunities are granted to officials in the interest of the United
Nations and not for the personal benefit of the individuals themselves. The SecretaryGeneral shall have the right and the duty to waive the immunity of any official in any case
where, in his opinion, the immunity would impede the course of justice and can be waived
without prejudice to the interests of the United Nations.
xxx xxx xxx
Section 22: Experts . . . performing missions for the United Nations . . . shall be accorded: (a)
immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of their personal baggage; (b) in
respect of words spoken or written and acts done by them in the course of the performance
of their mission, immunity from legal process of every kind."
3. Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
"Article 29: The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any
form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall
take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom, or dignity.
xxx xxx xxx
Article 31 (1): A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the
receiving State. He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction,
except in certain cases.
xxx xxx xxx
Article 38 (1): Except in so far as additional privileges and immunities may be granted by the
receiving State, a diplomatic agent who is a national of or permanently a resident in that
State shall enjoy only immunity from jurisdiction, and inviolability, in respect of official acts
performed in the exercise of his functions."
4. Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
"Article 41 (1): Consular officials shall not be liable to arrest or detention pending trial, except
in the case of a grave crime and pursuant to a decision by the competent judicial authority.
xxx xxx xxx
Article 43 (1): Consular officers and consular employees shall not be amenable to the
jurisdiction of the judicial or administrative authorities of the receiving State in respect of acts
performed in the exercise of consular functions.
Article 43 (2): The provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article shall not, however, apply in
respect of a civil action either: (a) arising out of a contract concluded by a consular officer or
a consular employee in which he did not contract expressly or impliedly as an agent of the
sending State; or (b) by a third party for damage arising from an accident in the receiving
State caused by a vehicle, vessel or aircraft."
5. Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies

"Section 4: The specialized agencies, their property and assets, wherever located and by
whomsoever held, shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except in so far as
in any particular case they have expressly waived their immunity. It is, however, understood
that no waiver of immunity shall extend to any measure of execution.
Section 13 (a): Representatives of members at meetings convened by a specialized agency
shall, while exercising their functions and during their journeys to and from the place of
meeting, enjoy immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of their personal
baggage, and in respect of words spoken or written and all acts done by them in their official
capacity, immunity from legal process of every kind.
xxx xxx xxx
Section 19 (a): Officials of the specialized agencies shall be immune from legal process in
respect of words spoken or written and all acts performed by them in their official capacity.
xxx xxx xxx
Section 21: In addition to the immunities and privileges specified in sections 19 and 20, the
executive head of each specialized agency, including a any official acting on his behalf
during his absence from duty, shall be accorded in respect of himself, his spouse and minor
children, the privileges and immunities, exemptions and facilities accorded to diplomatic
envoys, in accordance with international law."
6. Charter of the ADB
"Article 50 (1): The Bank shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process, except in
cases arising out of or in connection with the exercise of its powers to borrow money, to
guarantee obligations, or to buy and sell or underwrite the sale of securities, in which cases
actions may be brought against the Bank in a court of competent jurisdiction in the territory of
a country in which the Bank has its principal or a branch office, or has appointed an agent for
the purpose of accepting service or notice of process, or has issued or guaranteed
securities.
xxx xxx xxx
Article 55 (i): All Governors, Directors, alternates, officers and employees of the Bank,
including experts performing missions for the Bank shall be immune from legal process with
respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity, except when the Bank waives the
immunity."
7. ADB Headquarters Agreement
"Section 5: The Bank shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process, except in cases
arising out of or in connection with the exercise of its powers to borrow money, to guarantee
obligations, or to buy and sell or underwrite the sale of securities, in which cases actions may
be brought against the Bank in a court of competent jurisdiction in the Republic of the
Philippines.
xxx xxx xxx

Section 44: Governors, other representatives of Members, Directors, the President, VicePresident and executive officers as may be agreed upon between the Government and the
Bank shall enjoy, during their stay in the Republic of the Philippines in connection with their
official duties with the Bank: (a) immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure
of their personal baggage; (b) immunity from legal process of every kind in respect of words
spoken or written and all acts done by them in their official capacity; and (c) in respect of
other matters not covered in (a) and (b) above, such other immunities, exemptions,
privileges and facilities as are enjoyed by members of diplomatic missions of comparable
rank, subject to corresponding conditions and obligations.
Section 45 (a): Officers and staff of the Bank, including for the purposes of this Article
experts and consultants performing missions for the Bank, shall enjoy . . . immunity from
legal process with respect to acts performed by them in their official capacity, except when
the Bank waives the immunity."
II
There are three major differences between diplomatic and international immunities. Firstly, one of
the recognized limitations of diplomatic immunity is that members of the diplomatic staff of a mission
may be appointed from among the nationals of the receiving State only with the express consent of
that State; apart from inviolability and immunity from jurisdiction in respect of official acts performed
in the exercise of their functions, nationals enjoy only such privileges and immunities as may be
granted by the receiving State. International immunities may be specially important in relation to the
State of which the official is a national. Secondly, the immunity of a diplomatic agent from the
jurisdiction of the receiving State does not exempt him from the jurisdiction of the sending State; in
the case of international immunities there is no sending State and an equivalent for the jurisdiction of
the Sending State therefore has to be found either in waiver of immunity or in some international
disciplinary or judicial procedure. Thirdly, the effective sanctions which secure respect for diplomatic
immunity are the principle of reciprocity and the danger of retaliation by the aggrieved State;
international immunities enjoy no similar protection.14
The generally accepted principles which are now regarded as the foundation of international
immunities are contained in the ILO Memorandum, which reduced them in three basic propositions,
namely: (1) that international institutions should have a status which protects them against control or
interference by any one government in the performance of functions for the effective discharge of
which they are responsible to democratically constituted international bodies in which all the nations
concerned are represented; (2) that no country should derive any financial advantage by levying
fiscal charges on common international funds; and (3) that the international organization should, as a
collectivity of States Members, be accorded the facilities for the conduct of its official business
customarily extended to each other by its individual member States. The thinking underlying these
propositions is essentially institutional in character. It is not concerned with the status, dignity or
privileges of individuals, but with the elements of functional independence necessary to free
international institutions from national control and to enable them to discharge their responsibilities
impartially on behalf of all their members.15
III
Positive international law has devised three methods of granting privileges and immunities to the
personnel of international organizations. The first is by simple conventional stipulation, as was the
case in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. The second is by internal legislation whereby the
government of a state, upon whose territory the international organization is to carry out its functions,
recognizes the international character of the organization and grants, by unilateral measures, certain

privileges and immunities to better assure the successful functioning of the organization and its
personnel. In this situation, treaty obligation for the state in question to grant concessions is lacking.
Such was the case with the Central Commission of the Rhine at Strasbourg and the International
Institute of Agriculture at Rome. The third is a combination of the first two. In this third method, one
finds a conventional obligation to recognize a certain status of an international organization and its
personnel, but the status is described in broad and general terms. The specific definition and
application of those general terms are determined by an accord between the organization itself and
the state wherein it is located. This is the case with the League of Nations, the Permanent Court of
Justice, and the United Nations.16
The Asian Development Bank and its Personnel fall under this third category.
There is a connection between diplomatic privileges and immunities and those extended to
international officials. The connection consists in the granting, by contractual provisions, of the
relatively well-established body of diplomatic privileges and immunities to international functionaries.
This connection is purely historical. Both types of officials find the basis of their special status in the
necessity of retaining functional independence and freedom from interference by the state of
residence. However, the legal relationship between an ambassador and the state to which he is
accredited is entirely different from the relationship between the international official and those states
upon whose territory he might carry out his functions.17
The privileges and immunities of diplomats and those of international officials rest upon different
legal foundations. Whereas those immunities awarded to diplomatic agents are a right of the sending
state based on customary international law, those granted to international officials are based on
treaty or conventional law. Customary international law places no obligation on a state to recognize a
special status of an international official or to grant him jurisdictional immunities. Such an obligation
can only result from specific treaty provisions.18
The special status of the diplomatic envoy is regulated by the principle of reciprocity by which a state
is free to treat the envoy of another state as its envoys are treated by that state. The juridical basis of
the diplomat's position is firmly established in customary international law. The diplomatic envoy is
appointed by the sending State but it has to make certain that the agreement of the receiving State
has been given for the person it proposes to accredit as head of the mission to that State. 19
The staff personnel of an international organization the international officials assume a
different position as regards their special status. They are appointed or elected to their position by
the organization itself, or by a competent organ of it; they are responsible to the organization and
their official acts are imputed to it. The juridical basis of their special position is found in conventional
law,20 since there is no established basis of usage or custom in the case of the international official.
Moreover, the relationship between an international organization and a member-state does not admit
of the principle of reciprocity,21 for it is contradictory to the basic principle of equality of states. An
international organization carries out functions in the interest of every member state equally. The
international official does not carry out his functions in the interest of any state, but in serving the
organization he serves, indirectly, each state equally. He cannot be, legally, the object of the
operation of the principle of reciprocity between states under such circumstances. It is contrary to
the principle of equality of states for one state member of an international organization to assert a
capacity to extract special privileges for its nationals from other member states on the basis of a
status awarded by it to an international organization. It is upon this principle of sovereign equality
that international organizations are built.
It follows from this same legal circumstance that a state called upon to admit an official of an
international organization does not have a capacity to declare him persona non grata.

The functions of the diplomat and those of the international official are quite different. Those of the
diplomat are functions in the national interest. The task of the ambassador is to represent his state,
and its specific interest, at the capital of another state. The functions of the international official are
carried out in the international interest. He does not represent a state or the interest of any specific
state. He does not usually "represent" the organization in the true sense of that term. His functions
normally are administrative, although they may be judicial or executive, but they are rarely political or
functions of representation, such as those of the diplomat.
There is a difference of degree as well as of kind. The interruption of the activities of a diplomatic
agent is likely to produce serious harm to the purposes for which his immunities were granted. But
the interruption of the activities of the international official does not, usually, cause serious
dislocation of the functions of an international secretariat. 22
On the other hand, they are similar in the sense that acts performed in an official capacity by either a
diplomatic envoy or an international official are not attributable to him as an individual but are
imputed to the entity he represents, the state in the case of the diplomat, and the organization in the
case of the international official.23
IV
Looking back over 150 years of privileges and immunities granted to the personnel of international
organizations, it is clear that they were accorded a wide scope of protection in the exercise of their
functions The Rhine Treaty of 1804 between the German Empire and France which provided "all
the rights of neutrality" to persons employed in regulating navigation in the international interest; The
Treaty of Berlin of 1878 which granted the European Commission of the Danube "complete
independence of territorial authorities" in the exercise of its functions; The Covenant of the League
which granted "diplomatic immunities and privileges." Today, the age of the United Nations finds the
scope of protection narrowed. The current tendency is to reduce privileges and immunities of
personnel of international organizations to a minimum. The tendency cannot be considered as a
lowering of the standard but rather as a recognition that the problem on the privileges and
immunities of international officials is new. The solution to the problem presented by the extension of
diplomatic prerogatives to international functionaries lies in the general reduction of the special
position of both types of agents in that the special status of each agent is granted in the interest of
function. The wide grant of diplomatic prerogatives was curtailed because of practical necessity and
because the proper functioning of the organization did not require such extensive immunity for its
officials. While the current direction of the law seems to be to narrow the prerogatives of the
personnel of international organizations, the reverse is true with respect to the prerogatives of the
organizations themselves, considered as legal entities. Historically, states have been more generous
in granting privileges and immunities to organizations than they have to the personnel of these
organizations.24
Thus, Section 2 of the General Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations
states that the UN shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except insofar as in any
particular case it has expressly waived its immunity. Section 4 of the Convention on the Privileges
and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies likewise provides that the specialized agencies shall
enjoy immunity from every form of legal process subject to the same exception. Finally, Article 50(1)
of the ADB Charter and Section 5 of the Headquarters Agreement similarly provide that the bank
shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process, except in cases arising out of or in connection
with the exercise of its powers to borrow money, to guarantee obligations, or to buy and sell or
underwrite the sale of securities.

The phrase "immunity from every form of legal process" as used in the UN General Convention has
been interpreted to mean absolute immunity from a state's jurisdiction to adjudicate or enforce its law
by legal process, and it is said that states have not sought to restrict that immunity of the United
Nations by interpretation or amendment. Similar provisions are contained in the Special Agencies
Convention as well as in the ADB Charter and Headquarters Agreement. These organizations were
accorded privileges and immunities in their charters by language similar to that applicable to the
United Nations. It is clear therefore that these organizations were intended to have similar privileges
and immunities.25 From this, it can be easily deduced that international organizations enjoy absolute
immunity similar to the diplomatic prerogatives granted to diplomatic envoys.
Even in the United States this theory seems to be the prevailing rule. The Foreign Sovereign
Immunities Act was passed adopting the "restrictive theory" limiting the immunity of states under
international law essentially to activities of a kind not carried on by private persons. Then the
International Organizations Immunities Act came into effect which gives to designated international
organizations the same immunity from suit and every form of judicial process as is enjoyed by
foreign governments. This gives the impression that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act has the
effect of applying the restrictive theory also to international organizations generally. However, aside
from the fact that there was no indication in its legislative history that Congress contemplated that
result, and considering that the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations
exempts the United Nations "from every form of legal process," conflict with the United States
obligations under the Convention was sought to be avoided by interpreting the Foreign Sovereign
Immunities Act, and the restrictive theory, as not applying to suits against the United Nations. 26
On the other hand, international officials are governed by a different rule. Section 18(a) of the
General Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations states that officials of the
United Nations shall be immune from legal process in respect of words spoken or written and all acts
performed by them in their official capacity. The Convention on Specialized Agencies carries exactly
the same provision. The Charter of the ADB provides under Article 55(i) that officers and employees
of the bank shall be immune from legal process with respect to acts performed by them in their
official capacity except when the Bank waives immunity. Section 45 (a) of the ADB Headquarters
Agreement accords the same immunity to the officers and staff of the bank. There can be no dispute
that international officials are entitled to immunity only with respect to acts performed in their official
capacity, unlike international organizations which enjoy absolute immunity.
Clearly, the most important immunity to an international official, in the discharge of his international
functions, is immunity from local jurisdiction. There is no argument in doctrine or practice with the
principle that an international official is independent of the jurisdiction of the local authorities for
his official acts. Those acts are not his, but are imputed to the organization, and without waiver the
local courts cannot hold him liable for them. In strict law, it would seem that even the organization
itself could have no right to waive an official's immunity for his official acts. This permits local
authorities to assume jurisdiction over an individual for an act which is not, in the wider sense of the
term, his act at all. It is the organization itself, as a juristic person, which should waive its own
immunity and appear in court, not the individual, except insofar as he appears in the name of the
organization. Provisions for immunity from jurisdiction for official acts appear, aside from the
aforementioned treatises, in the constitution of most modern international organizations. The
acceptance of the principle is sufficiently widespread to be regarded as declaratory of international
law.27
V
What then is the status of the international official with respect to his private acts?

Section 18 (a) of the General Convention has been interpreted to mean that officials of the specified
categories are denied immunity from local jurisdiction for acts of their private life and empowers local
courts to assume jurisdiction in such cases without the necessity of waiver.28 It has earlier been
mentioned that historically, international officials were granted diplomatic privileges and immunities
and were thus considered immune for both private and official acts. In practice, this wide grant of
diplomatic prerogatives was curtailed because of practical necessity and because the proper
functioning of the organization did not require such extensive immunity for its officials. Thus, the
current status of the law does not maintain that states grant jurisdictional immunity to international
officials for acts of their private lives.29 This much is explicit from the Charter and Headquarters
Agreement of the ADB which contain substantially similar provisions to that of the General
Convention.
VI
Who is competent to determine whether a given act is private or official?
This is an entirely different question. In connection with this question, the current tendency to
narrow the scope of privileges and immunities of international officials and representatives is most
apparent. Prior to the regime of the United Nations, the determination of this question rested with the
organization and its decision was final. By the new formula, the state itself tends to assume this
competence. If the organization is dissatisfied with the decision, under the provisions of the General
Convention of the United States, or the Special Convention for Specialized Agencies, the Swiss
Arrangement, and other current dominant instruments, it may appeal to an international tribunal by
procedures outlined in those instruments. Thus, the state assumes this competence in the first
instance. It means that, if a local court assumes jurisdiction over an act without the necessity of
waiver from the organization, the determination of the nature of the act is made at the national
level.30
It appears that the inclination is to place the competence to determine the nature of an act as private
or official in the courts of the state concerned. That the prevalent notion seems to be to leave to the
local courts determination of whether or not a given act is official or private does not necessarily
mean that such determination is final. If the United Nations questions the decision of the Court, it
may invoke proceedings for settlement of disputes between the organization and the member states
as provided in Section 30 of the General Convention. Thus, the decision as to whether a given act is
official or private is made by the national courts in the first instance, but it may be subjected to
review in the international level if questioned by the United Nations. 31
A similar view is taken by Kunz, who writes that the "jurisdiction of local courts without waiver for acts
of private life empowers the local courts to determine whether a certain act is an official act or an act
of private life," on the rationale that since the determination of such question, if left in the hands of
the organization, would consist in the execution, or non-execution, of waiver, and since waiver is not
mentioned in connection with the provision granting immunities to international officials, then the
decision must rest with local courts.32
Under the Third Restatement of the Law, it is suggested that since an international official does not
enjoy personal inviolability from arrest or detention and has immunity only with respect to official
acts, he is subject to judicial or administrative process and must claim his immunity in the
proceedings by showing that the act in question was an official act. Whether an act was performed in
the individual's official capacity is a question for the court in which a proceeding is brought, but if the
international organization disputes the court's finding, the dispute between the organization and the
state of the forum is to be resolved by negotiation, by an agreed mode of settlement or by advisory
opinion of the International Court of Justice.33

Recognizing the difficulty that by reason of the right of a national court to assume jurisdiction over
private acts without a waiver of immunity, the determination of the official or private character of a
particular act may pass from international to national control, Jenks proposes three ways of avoiding
difficulty in the matter. The firstwould be for a municipal court before which a question of the official
or private character of a particular act arose to accept as conclusive in the matter any claim by the
international organization that the act was official in character, such a claim being regarded as
equivalent to a governmental claim that a particular act is an act of State. Such a claim would be in
effect a claim by the organization that the proceedings against the official were a violation of the
jurisdictional immunity of the organization itself which is unqualified and therefore not subject to
delimitation in the discretion of the municipal court. The second would be for a court to accept as
conclusive in the matter a statement by the executive government of the country where the matter
arises certifying the official character of the act. The third would be to have recourse to the
procedure of international arbitration. Jenks opines that it is possible that none of these three
solutions would be applicable in all cases; the first might be readily acceptable only in the clearest
cases and the second is available only if the executive government of the country where the matter
arises concurs in the view of the international organization concerning the official character of the
act. However, he surmises that taken in combination, these various possibilities may afford the
elements of a solution to the problem.34
One final point. The international official's immunity for official acts may be likened to a consular
official's immunity from arrest, detention, and criminal or civil process which is not absolute but
applies only to acts or omissions in the performance of his official functions, in the absence of
special agreement. Since a consular officer is not immune from all legal process, he must respond to
any process and plead and prove immunity on the ground that the act or omission underlying the
process was in the performance of his official functions. The issue has not been authoritatively
determined, but apparently the burden is on the consular officer to prove his status as well as his
exemption in the circumstances. In the United States, the US Department of State generally has left
it to the courts to determine whether a particular act was within a consular officer's official duties. 35
Submissions
On the bases of the foregoing disquisitions, I submit the following conclusions:
First, petitioner Liang, a bank official of ADB, is not entitled to diplomatic immunity and hence his
immunity is not absolute.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomatic envoy is immune from criminal
jurisdiction of the receiving State for all acts, whether private or official, and hence he cannot be
arrested, prosecuted and punished for any offense he may commit, unless his diplomatic immunity is
waived.36 On the other hand, officials of international organizations enjoy "functional" immunities, that
is, only those necessary for the exercise of the functions of the organization and the fulfillment of its
purposes.37 This is the reason why the ADB Charter and Headquarters Agreement explicitly grant
immunity from legal process to bank officers and employees only with respect to acts performed by
them in their official capacity, except when the Bank waives immunity. In other words, officials and
employees of the ADB are subject to the jurisdiction of the local courts for their private acts,
notwithstanding the absence of a waiver of immunity.
Petitioner cannot also seek relief under the mantle of "immunity from every form of legal process"
accorded to ADB as an international organization. The immunity of ADB is absolute whereas the
immunity of its officials and employees is restricted only to official acts. This is in consonance with
the current trend in international law which seeks to narrow the scope of protection and reduce the

privileges and immunities granted to personnel of international organizations, while at the same time
aims to increase the prerogatives of international organizations.
Second, considering that bank officials and employees are covered by immunity only for their official
acts, the necessary inference is that the authority of the Department of Affairs, or even of the ADB for
that matter, to certify that they are entitled to immunity is limited only to acts done in their official
capacity. Stated otherwise, it is not within the power of the DFA, as the agency in charge of the
executive department's foreign relations, nor the ADB, as the international organization vested with
the right to waive immunity, to invoke immunity for private acts of bank officials and employees, since
no such prerogative exists in the first place. If the immunity does not exist, there is nothing to certify.
As an aside, ADB cannot even claim to have the right to waive immunity for private acts of its
officials and employees. The Charter and the Headquarters Agreement are clear that the immunity
can be waived only with respect to official acts because this is only the extent to which the privilege
has been granted. One cannot waive the right to a privilege which has never been granted or
acquired.
Third, I choose to adopt the view that it is the local courts which have jurisdiction to determine
whether or not a given act is official or private. While there is a dearth of cases on the matter under
Philippine jurisprudence, the issue is not entirely novel.
The case of M.H. Wylie, et al. vs. Rarang, et al.38 concerns the extent of immunity from suit of the
officials of a United States Naval Base inside the Philippine territory. Although a motion to dismiss
was filed by the defendants therein invoking their immunity from suit pursuant to the RP-US Military
Bases Agreement, the trial court denied the same and, after trial, rendered a decision declaring that
the defendants are not entitled to immunity because the latter acted beyond the scope of their official
duties. The Court likewise applied the ruling enunciated in the case of Chavez vs.
Sandiganbayan39 to the effect that a mere invocation of the immunity clause does not ipso facto
result in the charges being automatically dropped. While it is true that the Chavez case involved a
public official, the Court did not find any substantial reason why the same rule cannot be made to
apply to a US official assigned at the US Naval Station located in the Philippines. In this case, it was
the local courts which ascertained whether the acts complained of were done in an official or
personal capacity.
In the case of The Holy See vs. Rosario, Jr.,40 a complaint for annulment of contract of sale,
reconveyance, specific performance and damages was filed against petitioner. Petitioner moved to
dismiss on the ground of, among others, lack of jurisdiction based on sovereign immunity from suit,
which was denied by the trial court. A motion for reconsideration, and subsequently, a "Motion for a
Hearing for the Sole Purpose of Establishing Factual Allegation for Claim of Immunity as a
Jurisdictional Defense" were filed by petitioner. The trial court deferred resolution of said motions
until after trial on the merits. On certiorari, the Court there ruled on the issue of petitioner's nonsuability on the basis of the allegations made in the pleadings filed by the parties. This is an implicit
recognition of the court's jurisdiction to ascertain the suability or non-suability of the sovereign by
assessing the facts of the case. The Court hastened to add that when a state or international agency
wishes to plead sovereign or diplomatic immunity in a foreign court, in some cases, the defense of
sovereign immunity was submitted directly to the local courts by the respondents through their
private counsels, or where the foreign states bypass the Foreign Office, the courts can inquire into
the facts and make their own determination as to the nature of the acts and transactions involved.
Finally, it appears from the records of this case that petitioner is a senior economist at ADB and as
such he makes country project profiles which will help the bank in deciding whether to lend money or
support a particular project to a particular country.41 Petitioner stands charged of grave slander for

allegedly uttering defamatory remarks against his secretary, the private complainant herein.
Considering that the immunity accorded to petitioner is limited only to acts performed in his official
capacity, it becomes necessary to make a factual determination of whether or not the defamatory
utterances were made pursuant and in relation to his official functions as a senior economist.
I vote to deny the motion for reconsideration.
Davide, Jr., C.J., concurs.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 149453

May 28, 2002

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.,


vs.
PANFILO M. LACSON
RESOLUTION
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 of the
Court of Appeals dated August 24, 2001 in CA-G.R. SP No. 65034. 2 The said Decision of the
appellate court granted respondent Lacson's Second Amended Petition for Prohibition with
application for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order, (1) assailing the Order issued by
Judge Herminia Pasamba of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 40, that allowed the
continuation of the re-investigation of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 or the
Kuratong Baleleng cases; and (2) praying for the dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-01-101102 to
Q-01-101112 entitled "People of the Philippines v. Panfilo Lacson, et al." pending before Branch 81
of the RTC of Quezon City.
The following appear in the records of this case:
(1) On May 18, 1995, then PNP Director-General Recaredo Sarmiento II announced, in a press
conference, the killing of eleven (11) members of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang (KBG) in a shootout
with police elements near the fly-over along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City at about 4:00 A.M.
that day.3
(2) On May 22, 1995, morning papers carried the news that SPO2 Eduardo delos Reyes had
claimed that the killing of the eleven (11) gang members was a "rub-out" or summary execution and
not a shootout.4
(3) In an affidavit he executed the following day, delos Reyes stated, among others, that he was part
of a composite police team called the Anti-Bank Robbery and Intelligence Task Force Group
(ABRITFG) composed of elements of the National Capital Region Command (NCRC) and headed by
Chief Superintendent Jewel Canson; Traffic Management Command, headed by Senior
Superintendent Francisco Subia, Jr.; Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), headed by Chief

Superintendent Panfilo M. Lacson; Central Police District Command, headed by Chief


Superintendent Ricardo de Leon; and Criminal Investigation Command (CIC), headed by Chief
Superintendent Romeo Acop. Delos Reyes claimed that the police team arrested the eleven (11)
gang members in early morning of May 18, 1995 at the gang's safe house in Superville Subdivision,
Paraaque; that after their arrest, the gang members were made to board two vans, their hands tied
behind their backs, and brought initially to Camp Crame where a decision to summarily execute
them was made, and later to Commonwealth Avenue where they were shot to death by elements of
ABRITFG.5
(4) On May 26, 1995, SPO2 Corazon dela Cruz, another CIC investigator, executed an affidavit
corroborating the material allegations of delos Reyes. Dela Cruz claimed that she was with delos
Reyes from the time the eleven (11) KBG members were arrested up to the time they were killed in
Commonwealth Avenue.6
(5) On May 31, 1995, Armando Capili, a reporter of Remate, executed an affidavit stating that he
was present when the KBG members were arrested in Superville Subdivision. 7
(6) On June 1, 1995, Chief Superintendent Job A. Mayo, PNP Director for Investigation, filed murder
charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against ninety-seven (97) officers and personnel of
ABRITFG. The next-of-kin of the slain KBG members also filed murder charges against the same
officers and personnel.8
(7) Ombudsman Aniano Desierto then created a panel of investigators to conduct a preliminary
investigation of the murder charges. The panel was headed by Deputy Ombudsman for Military
Affairs Bienvenido Blancaflor. On October 20, 1995, the panel issued a resolution recommending the
dismissal of the charges for lack of probable cause.
(8) Ombudsman Desierto referred the resolution for review by a panel composed of Over-all Deputy
Ombudsman Francisco Villa as head, and Special Prosecutor Leonardo Tamayo and Assistant
Ombudsman Abelardo Aportadera as members. On November 20, 1995, the review panel reversed
the Blancaflor resolution and found probable cause for the prosecution of multiple murder charges
against twenty-six (26) officers and personnel of ABRITFG. 9
(9) On November 2, 1995, the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan eleven (11) Informations
for MURDER, docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 23047 to 23057, against respondent Panfilo M.
Lacson and twenty-five (25) other accused. All twenty-six (26) of them were charged as
principals.10 The following appear to be the victims: Meleubren Sorronda in Crim. Case No. 23047;
Welbor Elcamel in Crim. Case No. 23048; Carlito Alap-ap in Crim. Case No. 23049; Jevy Redillas in
Crim. Case No. 23050; Ray Abalora in Crim. Case No. 23051; Joel Amora in Crim. Case No. 23052;
Alex Neri in Crim. Case No. 23053; Rolando Siplon in Crim. Case No. 23054; Manuel Montero in
Crim. Case No. 23055; Sherwin Abalora in Crim. Case No. 23056; and Pacifico Montero in Crim.
Case No. 23057.
(10) Upon motion of the respondent, the criminal cases were remanded to the Ombudsman for
reinvestigation. On March 1, 1996, Amended Informations were filed against the same twenty-six
(26) suspects but the participation of respondent Lacson was downgraded from principal to
accessory. Arraignment then followed and respondent entered a plea of not guilty.11

(11) With the downgrading of charges against him, respondent Lacson questioned the jurisdiction of
theSandiganbayan to hear the criminal cases as none of the "principal" accused in the Amended
Informations was a government official with a Salary Grade (SG) 27 or higher, citing Section 2 of R.
A. No. 7975 then prevailing. Accordingly, the Sandiganbayan ordered the cases transferred to the
Regional Trial Court.12
(12) The Office of the Special Prosecutor filed a motion for reconsideration of the transfer. Pending
resolution of the motion, R. A. No. 8249 took effect on February 23, 1997, amending R. A. No. 7975.
In particular, the amendatory law deleted the word "principal" in Section 2 of R. A. No. 7975, thereby
expanding the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to include all cases where at least one of the
accused, whether principal, accomplice or accessory, is a government official of Salary Grade (SG)
27 or higher. The amendment is made applicable to all cases pending in any court in which trial has
not yet begun as of the date of its approval.13
(13) In Lacson v. Executive Secretary,14 respondent Lacson challenged the constitutionality of the
amendment and contended that the Sandiganbayan had no jurisdiction over the criminal cases. This
Court, while dismissing the constitutional challenge, nonetheless ordered the transfer of the criminal
cases to the Regional Trial Court on the ground that the Amended Informations for murder failed to
indicate that the offenses charged therein were committed in relation to, or in discharge of, the
official functions of the respondent, as required by R. A. No. 8249.
(14) Criminal Cases Nos. 23047 to 23057 were raffled off to Branch 81 of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, then presided by Judge, now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals, Wenceslao
Agnir, Jr., and re-docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689.
(15) Before the accused could be arraigned, prosecution witnesses Eduardo de los Reyes, Corazon
de la Cruz, Armando Capili and Jane Gomez recanted their affidavits which implicated respondent
Lacson in the murder of the KBG members.
On the other hand, private complainants Myrna Abalora,15 Leonora Amora,16 Nenita Alap-ap,17 Imelda
Montero,18 Margarita Redillas,19 Carmelita Elcamel20 and Rolando Siplon21 also executed their
respective affidavits of desistance declaring that they were no longer interested to prosecute these
cases.22
(16) Due to these developments, the twenty-six (26) accused, including respondent Lacson, filed five
separate but identical motions to (1) make a judicial determination of the existence of probable
cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest; (2) hold in abeyance the issuance of the warrants, and
(3) dismiss the cases should the trial court find lack of probable cause.
(17) The records of the case before us are not clear whether the private offended parties were
notified of the hearing on March 22, 199923 held by Judge Agnir to resolve the motions filed by
respondent Lacson and the other accused.
(18) During the said hearing, the private offended parties who desisted do not appear to have been
presented on the witness stand. In their stead, Atty. Godwin Valdez testified that he assisted them in
preparing their affidavits of desistance and that he signed said affidavits as witness. On the other
hand, Atty. Aurora Bautista of the Philippine Lawyer's League presented the affidavits of recantation
of prosecution witnesses Eduardo de los Reyes, Armando Capili and Jane Gomez. Only prosecution
witness Corazon de la Cruz testified to affirm her affidavit.24

(19) On March 29, 1999, Judge Agnir issued a Resolution25 dismissing Criminal Cases Nos. Q-9981679 to Q-99-81689, as follows:
"As already seen, the documents attached to the Informations in support thereof have been
rendered meaningless, if not absurd, with the recantation of the principal prosecution
witnesses and the desistance of the private complainants. There is no more evidence to
show that a crime has been committed and that the accused are probably guilty thereof.
Following the doctrine above-cited, there is no more reason to hold the accused for trial and
further expose them to an open and public accusation. It is time to write finis to these cases
and lay to rest the ghost of the incident of May 18, 1995 so that all those involved--- the
accused, the prosecution witnesses and the private complainants alike--- may get on with
their lives.
The Court is not unmindful of the admonition in the recent case of People vs. Court of
Appeals (G.R. No. 126005, January 21, 1999) where the Supreme Court said that the
general rule is that 'if the Information is valid on its face and there is no showing of manifest
error, grave abuse of discretion or prejudice on the part of the public prosecutor, courts
should not dismiss it for want of evidence, because evidentiary matters should be presented
and heard during the trial', and that the ruling in Allado vs. Diokno 'is an exception to the
general rule and may be invoked only if similar circumstances are clearly shown to exist.'
This Court holds that the circumstances in the case at bench clearly make an exception to
the general rule.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds no probable cause for the issuance
of the warrants of arrest against the accused or to hold them for trial. Accordingly, the
Informations in the above-numbered cases are hereby ordered dismissed."
SO ORDERED."26
(20) On March 27, 2001, PNP Director Leandro R. Mendoza indorsed to the Department of Justice
the new affidavits of P/Insp. Ysmael S. Yu and P/S Insp. Abelardo Ramos regarding the Kuratong
Baleleng incident for preliminary investigation. On the strength of this indorsement, Secretary of
Justice Hernando B. Perez formed a panel to investigate the matter. On April 17, 2001, the
respondent was subpoenaed to attend the investigation of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q99-81689.27
(21) On May 28, 2001, respondent Lacson, et al., invoking, among others, their constitutional right
against double jeopardy, filed a petition for prohibition with application for temporary restraining order
and/or writ of preliminary injunction with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, primarily to enjoin the
State prosecutors from conducting the preliminary investigation. The petition was docketed as Civil
Case No. 01-100933 and raffled to Branch 40, presided by Judge Herminia V. Pasamba. 28
(22) The plea for temporary restraining order was denied by Judge Pasamba in an Order 29 dated
June 5, 2001,viz:
"After a study, this Court submits that the dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q99-81689 is not one on the merits and without any recorded arraignment and entered plea
on the part of the herein petitioners. The dismissal was a direct consequence of the finding of

the Quezon City RTC that no probable cause exists for the issuance of warrants of arrest
against petitioners herein and to hold them for trial. The arraignment had with
the Sandiganbayan does not put the case in a different perspective since
theSandiganbayan was adjudged to be without any jurisdiction to try the cases. It is the
People of the Philippines who is the complainant in the Kuratong Baleleng case and remains
to be the complainant in the present investigation initiated thru a letter of PNP Chief
Mendoza dated March 27, 2001 (Exhibit "B") together with the sworn statements of
witnesses Ramos and Yu (Exhibits "2" and "3" - supportive of the refiling of the case (Exhibit
"9").
xxx

xxx

xxx

Above considered, this Court finds petitioners have not preliminarily established that they
have a right to be preserved pending hearing on the injunctive relief.
WHEREFORE, the prayer for temporary restraining order is hereby DENIED.
SO ORDERED."30
(23) On June 6, 2001, eleven (11) Informations for murder involving the killing of the same members
of theKuratong Baleleng gang were filed before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City and were
docketed as Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112. The new Informations charged as
principals thirty-four (34) people, including respondent Lacson and his twenty-five (25) other coaccused in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689. The criminal cases were assigned to
Judge Ma. Theresa L. Yadao.
(24) On the same day, respondent Lacson filed before the Court of Appeals a petition for
certiorari31 against Judge Pasamba, the Secretary of Justice, the PNP Chief, State Prosecutors Ong
and Zacarias, 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Jamolin, and the People of the Philippines. The said
petition was amended to implead as additional party-respondents State Prosecutor Claro Arellano
and the RTC, Quezon City, Branch 81 in which the Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102
to 01-101112 were filed.32
(25) The Second Amended Petition33 dated June 14, 2001 and admitted by the Court of Appeals on
June 26, 2001, alleged:
"The reliefs of certiorari, prohibition and injunction against the questioned Order (Annex A)
and the new Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 pending before
respondent Yadao (Annex B) are founded upon the grave abuse of discretion by respondent
Judge Pasamba of her discretion in its issuance, the illegality of the proceedings of the
respondent State Prosecutors as they cannot revive complaints which had been dismissed
over two (2) years from the date the dismissal order was issued, and the invalidity of the new
Informations for Murder filed against petitioners and others, all in defiance of law and
jurisprudence as shown by the following:
(a) Respondent judge had ruled on the merits of the main prohibition action a quo rendering
the same moot and academic by concluding that the dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-9981679-Q-99-81689 by the QC RTC was not final and executory, hence [i] the complaints
therein can be reinvestigated, and [ii] petitioner's arraignment while the case had not yet

been remanded to the QC RTC and while the Sandiganbayan had valid jurisdiction thereover
[Criminal Cases No. 23047-2048] was void, notwithstanding that the only issue in the TRO
application was the existence or lack of a valid complaint as defined in S1 and S3, Rule 110.
(b) Respondent Judge ruled that respondent State Prosecutors could proceed to reinvestigate and thereafter file new Informations on June 6, 2001 covering those offenses
subject of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679-Q-99-81689 on the basis of affidavits filed after
said cases were dismissed on March 29, 1999, despite the fact that under Section 8, Rule
117, cases similar to those filed against the petitioner and others (where the penalty
imposable is imprisonment of six (6) years or more) cannot be revived after two (2) years
from the date the dismissal order was issued.
(c) Respondent Judge held that the petitioner had not shown a right to be preserved despite
evidence showing the short cuts taken by respondent State prosecutors in re-investigating a
dismissed case, in not complying with Rules in respect of its re-opening, and in insisting that
a valid complaint was filed in clear violation of the Rules and case law thereon, and despite
the fact that the petitioner had shown that an inextendible deadline of June 5, 2001 was
given him to file his counter-affidavit without which his indictment for a non-bailable offense is
assured because of DOJ Secretary Hernando Perez's political schemes." 34
(26) In the meantime, on June 8, 2001, respondent Lacson also filed with the RTC-QC Branch 81
(presided by Judge Ma. Theresa Yadao), a Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable Cause and
in the absence thereof, to dismiss the cases outright. Respondent Lacson, however, filed a
Manifestation and Motion dated June 13, 2001 seeking the suspension of the proceedings before
the trial court.35
(27) The Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order enjoining Judge Yadao from issuing
a warrant of arrest or conducting any proceeding or hearing in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to
01-101112.36
(28) On August 24, 2001, the Court of Appeals (Special Third Division), rendered the now assailed
Decision. It characterized the termination of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 as
"provisional dismissal," and considered Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 as mere
revivals of the same. Applying Section 8, Rule 117 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
it dismissed the criminal cases against the respondent, viz:
"In sum, this Court is of the considered view that the subject dismissal of [the] criminal cases
was provisional in nature and that the cases presently sought to be prosecuted by the
respondents are mere revival or re-opening of the dismissed cases. The present controversy,
being one involving "provisional dismissal" and revival of criminal cases, falls within the
purview of the prescriptive period provided under Section 8, Rule 117 of the 2000 Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure. The second paragraph of the said provision is couched in clear,
simple and categorical words. It mandates that for offenses punishable by imprisonment of
more than six (6) years, as the subject criminal cases, their provisional dismissal shall
become permanent two (2) years after the issuance of the order without the case having
been revived. It should be noted that the revival of the subject criminal cases, even if
reckoned from the DOJ's issuance of subpoenas to petitioner, was commenced only on April
19, 2001, that is, more than two (2) years after the issuance, on March 29, 1999, of RTCQuezon City's Resolution, provisionally dismissing the criminal cases now sought to be

revived. Applying the clear and categorical mandate of Section 8, Rule 117, supra, such
efforts to revive the criminal cases are now definitely barred by the two-year prescriptive
period provided therein.
xxx

xxx

xxx

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. As prayed for, the Temporary Restraining Order
earlier issued against the conduct of further proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102
to 01-101112, including the issuance of warrants of arrest against the petitioner, PANFILO M.
LACSON, is hereby made PERMANENT. Accordingly, with respect to said accused, the
proceedings conducted by respondent State Prosecutors in respect of the said criminal
cases are declared NULL AND VOID and the corresponding Informations, docketed as
Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112, entitled 'People of the Philippines vs. Panfilo
M. Lacson, et al." and filed before respondent Judge Maria Theresa L. Yadao of Branch 81 of
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, are hereby ordered DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED."37
The issue is whether Section 8, Rule 117 bars the filing of the eleven (11) informations against the
respondent Lacson involving the killing of some members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang. This rule
which took effect on December 1, 2000 provides:
"SEC. 8. Provisional dismissal.- A case shall not be provisionally dismissed except with the
express consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party.
The provisional dismissal of offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six (6)
years or a fine of any amount, or both, shall become permanent one (1) year after issuance
of the order without the case having been revived. With respect to offenses punishable by
imprisonment of more than six (6) years, their provisional dismissal shall become permanent
two (2) years after issuance of the order without the case having been revived."
Like any other favorable procedural rule, this new rule can be given retroactive effect. However, this
Court cannot rule on this jugular issue due to the lack of sufficient factual bases. Thus, there is need
of proof of the following facts, viz: (1) whether the provisional dismissal of the cases had the express
consent of the accused; (2) whether it was ordered by the court after notice to the offended party, (3)
whether the 2-year period to revive has already lapsed, and (4) whether there is any justification for
the filing of the cases beyond the 2-year period.
There is no uncertainty with respect to the fact that the provisional dismissal of the cases against
respondent Lacson bears his express consent. It was respondent Lacson himself who moved to
dismiss the subject cases for lack of probable cause before then Judge Agnir, hence, it is beyond
argument that their dismissal bears his express consent.
The records of the case, however, do not reveal with equal clarity and conclusiveness whether
notices to the offended parties were given before the cases against the respondent Lacson were
dismissed by then Judge Agnir. It appears from the resolution of then Judge Agnir that the relatives
of the victims who desisted did not appear during the hearing to affirm their affidavits. Their affidavits
of desistance were only presented by Atty. Godwin Valdez who testified that he assisted the private

complainants in preparing their affidavits and he signed them as a witness. It also appears that only
seven (7) persons submitted their affidavits of desistance, namely:
a. Myrna Abalora, mother of the victims Sherwin Abalora and Rey Abalora
b. Carmelita Elcamel, wife of Wilbur Elcamel;
c. Leonora Amora, mother of victim Joel Amora;
d. Nenita Alap-ap, wife of victim Carlito Alap-ap;
e. Imelda Montero, wife of victim Manuel Montero;
f. Margarita Redillas, mother of victim Hilario Jevy Redillas; and
g. Rolando Siplon.
From the records of the case before us, it cannot be determined whether there were affidavits of
desistance executed by the relatives of the three (3)38 other victims, namely: Meleubren Soronda,
Pacifico Montero, Jr., and Alex Neri. The same records do not show whether they were notified of the
hearing or had knowledge thereof. To be sure, it is not fair to expect the element of notice to be
litigated before then Judge Agnir for Section 8, Rule 117 was yet inexistent at that time.
The fact of notice to the offended parties was not raised either in the petition for prohibition with
application for temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction filed by respondent
Lacson in the RTC of Manila, presided by Judge Pasamba, to enjoin the prosecutors from
reinvestigating the said cases against him. The only question raised in said petition is whether the
reinvestigation will violate the right of respondent Lacson against double jeopardy. Thus, the issue of
whether or not the reinvestigation is barred by Section 8, Rule 117 was not tackled by the litigants.
Nor was the fact of notice to the offended parties the subject of proof after the eleven (11)
informations for murder against respondent Lacson and company were revived in the RTC of
Quezon City presided by Judge Yadao. There was hardly any proceeding conducted in the case for
respondent Lacson immediately filed a petition for certiorari in the appellate court challenging,
among others, the authority of Judge Yadao to entertain the revived informations for multiple murder
against him.
This is not to be wondered at. The applicability of Section 8, Rule 117 was never considered in the
trial court. It was in the Court of Appeals where respondent Lacson raised for the first time the
argument that Section 8, Rule 117 bars the revival of the multiple murder cases against him. But
even then, the appellate court did not require the parties to elucidate the crucial issue of whether
notices were given to the offended parties before Judge Agnir ordered the dismissal of the cases
against respondent Lacson and company. To be sure, there is a statement in the Decision of the
appellate court to the effect that "records show that the prosecution and the private offended parties
were notified of the hearing x x x."39 It is doubtful whether this finding is supported by the records of
the case. It appears to be contrary to Judge Agnir's finding that only seven (7) of the complainants
submitted affidavits of desistance.

Indeed, the records of this case are inconclusive on the factual issue of whether the multiple murder
cases against respondent Lacson are being revived within or beyond the 2-year bar. The reckoning
date of the 2-year bar has to be first determined - - - whether it is from the date of the Order of then
Judge Agnir dismissing the cases or from the dates the Order were received by the various offended
parties or from the date of the effectivity of the new rule.
If the cases were revived only after the 2-year bar, the State must be given the opportunity to justify
its failure to comply with said timeline. The new rule fixes a timeline to penalize the State for its
inexcusable delay in prosecuting cases already filed in courts. It can therefore present compelling
reasons to justify the revival of cases beyond the 2-year bar.
In light of the lack of or the conflicting evidence on the various requirements to determine the
applicability of Section 8, Rule 117, this Court is not in a position to rule whether or not the re-filing of
the cases for multiple murder against respondent Lacson should be enjoined. Fundamental fairness
requires that both the prosecution and the respondent Lacson should be afforded the opportunity to
be heard and to adduce evidence on the presence or absence of the predicate facts upon which the
application of the new rule depends. They involve disputed facts and arguable questions of law. The
reception of evidence on these various issues cannot be done in this Court but before the trial court.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the case at bar is remanded to the RTC - Quezon City, Branch 81
so that the State prosecutors and the respondent Lacson can adduce evidence and be heard on
whether the requirements of Section 8, Rule 117 have been complied with on the basis of the
evidence of which the trial court should make a ruling on whether the Informations in Criminal Cases
Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 should be dismissed or not. Pending the ruling, the trial court is
restrained from issuing any warrant of arrest against the respondent Lacson. Melo and
Carpio, JJ., take no part.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 149453. April 1, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE,


DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE,
CHIEF STATE PROSECUTOR JOVENCITO ZUO, STATE
PROSECUTORS PETER L. ONG and RUBEN A. ZACARIAS; 2ND
ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR CONRADO M. JAMOLIN and
CITY
PROSECUTOR
OF
QUEZON
CITY
CLARO
ARELLANO,petitioners, vs. PANFILO M. LACSON, respondent.
RESOLUTION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before the Court is the petitioners Motion for Reconsideration of the


Resolution dated May 28, 2002, remanding this case to the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 81, for the determination of several
factual issues relative to the application of Section 8 of Rule 117 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure on the dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos.
Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 filed against the respondent and his co-accused
with the said court. In the aforesaid criminal cases, the respondent and his coaccused were charged with multiple murder for the shooting and killing of
eleven male persons identified as Manuel Montero, a former Corporal of the
Philippine Army, Rolando Siplon, Sherwin Abalora, who was 16 years old, Ray
Abalora, who was 19 years old, Joel Amora, Jevy Redillas, Meleubren
Sorronda, who was 14 years old, Pacifico Montero, Jr., of the 44th Infantry
Batallion of the Philippine Army, Welbor Elcamel, SPO1 Carlito Alap-ap of the
Zamboanga PNP, and Alex Neri, former Corporal of the 44th Infantry Batallion
of the Philippine Army, bandied as members of the Kuratong
Baleleng Gang. The
respondent
opposed
petitioners
motion
for
reconsideration.
[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

The Court ruled in the Resolution sought to be reconsidered that the


provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 were
with the express consent of the respondent as he himself moved for said
provisional dismissal when he filed his motion for judicial determination of
probable cause and for examination of witnesses. The Court also held therein
that although Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
could be given retroactive effect, there is still a need to determine whether the
requirements for its application are attendant. The trial court was thus directed
to resolve the following:
... (1) whether the provisional dismissal of the cases had the express consent of the
accused; (2) whether it was ordered by the court after notice to the offended party; (3)
whether the 2-year period to revive it has already lapsed; (4) whether there is any
justification for the filing of the cases beyond the 2-year period; (5) whether notices to
the offended parties were given before the cases of respondent Lacson were dismissed
by then Judge Agnir; (6) whether there were affidavits of desistance executed by the
relatives of the three (3) other victims; (7) whether the multiple murder cases against
respondent Lacson are being revived within or beyond the 2-year bar.
The Court further held that the reckoning date of the two-year bar had to
be first determined whether it shall be from the date of the order of then Judge

Agnir, Jr. dismissing the cases, or from the dates of receipt thereof by the
various offended parties, or from the date of effectivity of the new
rule. According to the Court, if the cases were revived only after the two-year
bar, the State must be given the opportunity to justify its failure to comply with
the said time-bar. It emphasized that the new rule fixes a time-bar to penalize
the State for its inexcusable delay in prosecuting cases already filed in
court. However, the State is not precluded from presenting compelling
reasons to justify the revival of cases beyond the two-year bar.
In support of their Motion for Reconsideration, the petitioners contend that
(a) Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is not
applicable to Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689; and (b) the
time-bar in said rule should not be applied retroactively.
The Court shall resolve the issues seriatim.
I. SECTION 8, RULE 117 OF THE REVISED RULES OF CRIMINAL
PROCEDURE IS NOT APPLICABLE TO CRIMINAL CASES NOS. Q-99-81679
TO Q-99-81689.
The petitioners aver that Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure is not applicable to Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q99-81689 because the essential requirements for its application were not
present when Judge Agnir, Jr., issued his resolution of March 29,
1999. Disagreeing with the ruling of the Court, the petitioners maintain that the
respondent did not give his express consent to the dismissal by Judge Agnir,
Jr., of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689. The respondent
allegedly admitted in his pleadings filed with the Court of Appeals and during
the hearing thereat that he did not file any motion to dismiss said cases, or
even agree to a provisional dismissal thereof. Moreover, the heirs of the
victims were allegedly not given prior notices of the dismissal of the said
cases by Judge Agnir, Jr. According to the petitioners, the respondents
express consent to the provisional dismissal of the cases and the notice to all
the heirs of the victims of the respondents motion and the hearing thereon are
conditions sine qua non to the application of the time-bar in the second
paragraph of the new rule.
The petitioners further submit that it is not necessary that the case be
remanded to the RTC to determine whether private complainants were notified

of the March 22, 1999 hearing on the respondents motion for judicial
determination of the existence of probable cause. The records allegedly
indicate clearly that only the handling city prosecutor was furnished a copy of
the notice of hearing on said motion. There is allegedly no evidence that
private prosecutor Atty. Godwin Valdez was properly retained and authorized
by all the private complainants to represent them at said hearing. It is their
contention that Atty. Valdez merely identified the purported affidavits of
desistance and that he did not confirm the truth of the allegations therein.
The respondent, on the other hand, insists that, as found by the Court in
its Resolution and Judge Agnir, Jr. in his resolution, the respondent himself
moved for the provisional dismissal of the criminal cases. He cites the
resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr. stating that the respondent and the other
accused filed separate but identical motions for the dismissal of the criminal
cases should the trial court find no probable cause for the issuance of
warrants of arrest against them.
The respondent further asserts that the heirs of the victims, through the
public and private prosecutors, were duly notified of said motion and the
hearing thereof. He contends that it was sufficient that the public prosecutor
was present during the March 22, 1999 hearing on the motion for judicial
determination of the existence of probable cause because criminal actions are
always prosecuted in the name of the People, and the private complainants
merely prosecute the civil aspect thereof.
The Court has reviewed the records and has found the contention of the
petitioners meritorious.
Section 8, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure reads:
Sec. 8. Provisional dismissal. A case shall not be provisionally dismissed except with
the express consent of the accused and with notice to the offended party.
The provisional dismissal of offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six
(6) years or a fine of any amount, or both, shall become permanent one (1) year after
issuance of the order without the case having been revived. With respect to offenses
punishable by imprisonment of more than six (6) years, their provisional dismissal
shall become permanent two (2) years after issuance of the order without the case
having been revived.

Having invoked said rule before the petitioners-panel of prosecutors and


before the Court of Appeals, the respondent is burdened to establish the
essential requisites of the first paragraph thereof, namely:
1. the prosecution with the express conformity of the accused or the accused moves
for a provisional (sin perjuicio) dismissal of the case; or both the prosecution and the
accused move for a provisional dismissal of the case;
2. the offended party is notified of the motion for a provisional dismissal of the case;
3. the court issues an order granting the motion and dismissing the case provisionally;
4. the public prosecutor is served with a copy of the order of provisional dismissal of
the case.
The foregoing requirements are conditions sine qua non to the application
of the time-bar in the second paragraph of the new rule. The raison d etre for
the requirement of the express consent of the accused to a provisional
dismissal of a criminal case is to bar him from subsequently asserting that the
revival of the criminal case will place him in double jeopardy for the same
offense or for an offense necessarily included therein.
[5]

Although the second paragraph of the new rule states that the order of
dismissal shall become permanent one year after the issuance thereof without
the case having been revived, the provision should be construed to mean that
the order of dismissal shall become permanent one year after service of the
order of dismissal on the public prosecutor who has control of the
prosecution without the criminal case having been revived. The public
prosecutor cannot be expected to comply with the timeline unless he is served
with a copy of the order of dismissal.
[6]

Express consent to a provisional dismissal is given either viva voce or in


writing. It is a positive, direct, unequivocal consent requiring no inference or
implication to supply its meaning. Where the accused writes on the motion of
a prosecutor for a provisional dismissal of the case No objection or With my
conformity, the writing amounts to express consent of the accused to a
provisional dismissal of the case. The mere inaction or silence of the accused
to a motion for a provisional dismissal of the case or his failure to object to a
provisional dismissal does not amount to express consent.
[7]

[8]

[9]

[10]

A motion of the accused for a provisional dismissal of a case is an express


consent to such provisional dismissal. If a criminal case is provisionally
dismissed with the express consent of the accused, the case may be revived
only within the periods provided in the new rule. On the other hand, if a
criminal case is provisionally dismissed without the express consent of the
accused or over his objection, the new rule would not apply. The case may be
revived or refiled even beyond the prescribed periods subject to the right of
the accused to oppose the same on the ground of double jeopardy or that
such revival or refiling is barred by the statute of limitations.
[11]

[12]

[13]

The case may be revived by the State within the time-bar either by the
refiling of the Information or by the filing of a new Information for the same
offense or an offense necessarily included therein. There would be no need of
a new preliminary investigation. However, in a case wherein after the
provisional dismissal of a criminal case, the original witnesses of the
prosecution or some of them may have recanted their testimonies or may
have died or may no longer be available and new witnesses for the State have
emerged, a new preliminary investigation must be conducted before an
Information is refiled or a new Information is filed. A new preliminary
investigation is also required if aside from the original accused, other persons
are charged under a new criminal complaint for the same offense or
necessarily included therein; or if under a new criminal complaint, the original
charge has been upgraded; or if under a new criminal complaint, the criminal
liability of the accused is upgraded from that as an accessory to that as a
principal. The accused must be accorded the right to submit counter-affidavits
and evidence. After all, the fiscal is not called by the Rules of Court to wait in
ambush; the role of a fiscal is not mainly to prosecute but essentially to do
justice to every man and to assist the court in dispensing that justice.
[14]

[15]

[16]

In this case, the respondent has failed to prove that the first and second
requisites of the first paragraph of the new rule were present when Judge
Agnir, Jr. dismissed Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-9981689. Irrefragably, the prosecution did not file any motion for the provisional
dismissal of the said criminal cases. For his part, the respondent merely filed
a motion for judicial determination of probable cause and for examination of
prosecution witnesses alleging that under Article III, Section 2 of the
Constitution and the decision of this Court in Allado v. Diokno, among other
cases, there was a need for the trial court to conduct a personal determination
of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against respondent
[17]

and to have the prosecutions witnesses summoned before the court for its
examination. The respondent contended therein that until after the trial court
shall have personally determined the presence of probable cause, no warrant
of arrest should be issued against the respondent and if one had already been
issued, the warrant should be recalled by the trial court. He then prayed
therein that:
1) a judicial determination of probable cause pursuant to Section 2, Article III of the
Constitution be conducted by this Honorable Court, and for this purpose, an order be
issued directing the prosecution to present the private complainants and their
witnesses at a hearing scheduled therefor; and
2) warrants for the arrest of the accused-movants be withheld, or, if issued, recalled in
the meantime until the resolution of this incident.
Other equitable reliefs are also prayed for.

[18]

The respondent did not pray for the dismissal, provisional or otherwise, of
Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689. Neither did he ever agree,
impliedly or expressly, to a mere provisional dismissal of the cases. In fact, in
his reply filed with the Court of Appeals, respondent emphasized that:
... An examination of the Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable Cause and for
Examination of Prosecution Witnesses filed by the petitioner and his other co-accused
in the said criminal cases would show that the petitioner did not pray for the dismissal
of the case. On the contrary, the reliefs prayed for therein by the petitioner are: (1) a
judicial determination of probable cause pursuant to Section 2, Article III of the
Constitution; and (2) that warrants for the arrest of the accused be withheld, or if
issued, recalled in the meantime until the resolution of the motion. It cannot be said,
therefore, that the dismissal of the case was made with the consent of the petitioner. A
copy of the aforesaid motion is hereto attached and made integral part hereof as
Annex A.
[19]

During the hearing in the Court of Appeals on July 31, 2001, the
respondent, through counsel, categorically, unequivocally, and definitely
declared that he did not file any motion to dismiss the criminal cases nor did
he agree to a provisional dismissal thereof, thus:
JUSTICE SALONGA:

And it is your stand that the dismissal made by the Court was provisional in nature?
ATTY. FORTUN:
It was in (sic) that the accused did not ask for it. What they wanted at the onset
was simply a judicial determination of probable cause for warrants of arrest
issued. Then Judge Agnir, upon the presentation by the parties of their
witnesses, particularly those who had withdrawn their affidavits, made one further
conclusion that not only was this case lacking in probable cause for purposes of
the issuance of an arrest warrant but also it did not justify proceeding to trial.
JUSTICE SALONGA:
And it is expressly provided under Section 8 that a case shall not be provisionally
dismissed except when it is with the express conformity of the accused.
ATTY. FORTUN:
That is correct, Your Honor.
JUSTICE SALONGA:
And with notice to the offended party.
ATTY. FORTUN:
That is correct, Your Honor.
JUSTICE SALONGA:
Was there an express conformity on the part of the accused?
ATTY. FORTUN:
There was none, Your Honor. We were not asked to sign any order, or any
statement, which would normally be required by the Court on pre-trial or on
other matters, including other provisional dismissal. My very limited practice
in criminal courts, Your Honor, had taught me that a judge must be very careful on
this matter of provisional dismissal. In fact they ask the accused to come forward,
and the judge himself or herself explains the implications of a provisional
dismissal. Pumapayag ka ba dito. Puwede bang pumirma ka?
JUSTICE ROSARIO:
You were present during the proceedings?
ATTY. FORTUN:

Yes, Your Honor.


JUSTICE ROSARIO:
You represented the petitioner in this case?
ATTY. FORTUN:
That is correct, Your Honor. And there was nothing of that sort which the good
Judge Agnir, who is most knowledgeable in criminal law, had done in
respect of provisional dismissal or the matter of Mr. Lacson agreeing to the
provisional dismissal of the case.
JUSTICE GUERRERO:
Now, you filed a motion, the other accused then filed a motion for a judicial
determination of probable cause?
ATTY. FORTUN:
Yes, Your Honor.
JUSTICE GUERRERO:
Did you make any alternative prayer in your motion that if there is no probable cause
what should the Court do?
ATTY. FORTUN:
That the arrest warrants only be withheld. That was the only prayer that we
asked. In fact, I have a copy of that particular motion, and if I may read my prayer
before the Court, it said: Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that (1) a judicial
determination of probable cause pursuant to Section 2, Article III of the
Constitution be conducted, and for this purpose, an order be issued directing the
prosecution to present the private complainants and their witnesses at the
scheduled hearing for that purpose; and (2) the warrants for the arrest of the
accused be withheld, or, if issued, recalled in the meantime until resolution of this
incident.
JUSTICE GUERRERO:
There is no general prayer for any further relief?
ATTY. FORTUN:
There is but it simply says other equitable reliefs are prayed for.

JUSTICE GUERRERO:
Dont you surmise Judge Agnir, now a member of this Court, precisely addressed your
prayer for just and equitable relief to dismiss the case because what would be the
net effect of a situation where there is no warrant of arrest being issued without
dismissing the case?
ATTY. FORTUN:
Yes, Your Honor. I will not second say (sic) yes the Good Justice, but what is
plain is we did not agree to the provisional dismissal, neither were we
asked to sign any assent to the provisional dismissal.
JUSTICE GUERRERO:
If you did not agree to the provisional dismissal did you not file any motion for
reconsideration of the order of Judge Agnir that the case should be dismissed?
ATTY. FORTUN:
I did not, Your Honor, because I knew fully well at that time that my client had
already been arraigned, and the arraignment was valid as far as I was
concerned. So, the dismissal, Your Honor, by Judge Agnir operated to
benefit me, and therefore I did not take any further step in addition to
rocking the boat or clarifying the matter further because it probably could
prejudice the interest of my client.
JUSTICE GUERRERO:
Continue.[20]

In his memorandum in lieu of the oral argument filed with the Court of
Appeals, the respondent declared in no uncertain terms that:
Soon thereafter, the SC in early 1999 rendered a decision declaring the Sandiganbayan
without jurisdiction over the cases. The records were remanded to the QC RTC: Upon
raffle, the case was assigned to Branch 81. Petitioner and the others promptly filed a
motion for judicial determination of probable cause (Annex B). He asked that
warrants for his arrest not be issued. He did not move for the dismissal of the
Informations, contrary to respondent OSGs claim.
[21]

The respondents admissions made in the course of the proceedings in the


Court of Appeals are binding and conclusive on him. The respondent is barred

from repudiating his admissions absent evidence of palpable mistake in


making such admissions.
[22]

To apply the new rule in Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689


would be to add to or make exceptions from the new rule which are not
expressly or impliedly included therein. This the Court cannot and should not
do.
[23]

The Court also agrees with the petitioners contention that no notice of any
motion for the provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q99-81689 or of the hearing thereon was served on the heirs of the victims at
least three days before said hearing as mandated by Rule 15, Section 4 of the
Rules of Court. It must be borne in mind that in crimes involving private
interests, the new rule requires that the offended party or parties or the heirs
of the victims must be given adequate a priori notice of any motion for the
provisional dismissal of the criminal case. Such notice may be served on the
offended party or the heirs of the victim through the private prosecutor, if there
is one, or through the public prosecutor who in turn must relay the notice to
the offended party or the heirs of the victim to enable them to confer with him
before the hearing or appear in court during the hearing. The proof of such
service must be shown during the hearing on the motion, otherwise, the
requirement of the new rule will become illusory. Such notice will enable the
offended party or the heirs of the victim the opportunity to seasonably and
effectively comment on or object to the motion on valid grounds, including: (a)
the collusion between the prosecution and the accused for the provisional
dismissal of a criminal case thereby depriving the State of its right to due
process; (b) attempts to make witnesses unavailable; or (c) the provisional
dismissal of the case with the consequent release of the accused from
detention would enable him to threaten and kill the offended party or the other
prosecution witnesses or flee from Philippine jurisdiction, provide opportunity
for the destruction or loss of the prosecutions physical and other evidence and
prejudice the rights of the offended party to recover on the civil liability of the
accused by his concealment or furtive disposition of his property or the
consequent lifting of the writ of preliminary attachment against his property.
In the case at bar, even if the respondents motion for a determination of
probable cause and examination of witnesses may be considered for the
nonce as his motion for a provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-9981679 to Q-99-81689, however, the heirs of the victims were not notified

thereof prior to the hearing on said motion on March 22, 1999. It must be
stressed that the respondent filed his motion only on March 17, 1999 and set
it for hearing on March 22, 1999 or barely five days from the filing thereof.
Although the public prosecutor was served with a copy of the motion, the
records do not show that notices thereof were separately given to the heirs of
the victims or that subpoenae were issued to and received by them, including
those who executed their affidavits of desistance who were residents of
Dipolog City or Pian, Zamboanga del Norte or Palompon, Leyte. There is as
well no proof in the records that the public prosecutor notified the heirs of the
victims of said motion or of the hearing thereof on March 22, 1999. Although
Atty. Valdez entered his appearance as private prosecutor, he did so only for
some but not all the close kins of the victims, namely, Nenita Alap-ap, Imelda
Montero, Margarita Redillas, Rufino Siplon, Carmelita Elcamel, Myrna
Abalora, and Leonora Amora who (except for Rufino Siplon) executed their
respective affidavits of desistance. There was no appearance for the heirs of
Alex Neri, Pacifico Montero, Jr., and Meleubren Sorronda. There is no proof
on record that all the heirs of the victims were served with copies of the
resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissing the said cases. In fine, there never
was any attempt on the part of the trial court, the public prosecutor and/or the
private prosecutor to notify all the heirs of the victims of the respondents
motion and the hearing thereon and of the resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr.
dismissing said cases. The said heirs were thus deprived of their right to be
heard on the respondents motion and to protect their interests either in the
trial court or in the appellate court.
[24]

[25]

[26]

[27]

Since the conditions sine qua non for the application of the new rule were
not present when Judge Agnir, Jr. issued his resolution, the State is not barred
by the time limit set forth in the second paragraph of Section 8 of Rule 117 of
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. The State can thus revive or refile
Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 or file new Informations for
multiple murder against the respondent.
II. THE TIME-BAR IN SECTION 8, RULE 117 OF THE REVISED RULES
OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED
RETROACTIVELY.
The petitioners contend that even on the assumption that the respondent
expressly consented to a provisional dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-9981679 to Q-99-81689 and all the heirs of the victims were notified of the

respondents motion before the hearing thereon and were served with copies
of the resolution of Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissing the eleven cases, the two-year
bar in Section 8 of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
should be applied prospectively and not retroactively against the State. To
apply the time limit retroactively to the criminal cases against the respondent
and his co-accused would violate the right of the People to due process, and
unduly impair, reduce, and diminish the States substantive right to prosecute
the accused for multiple murder. They posit that under Article 90 of the
Revised Penal Code, the State had twenty years within which to file the
criminal complaints against the accused. However, under the new rule, the
State only had two years from notice of the public prosecutor of the order of
dismissal of Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q-99-81689 within which to
revive the said cases. When the new rule took effect on December 1, 2000,
the State only had one year and three months within which to revive the cases
or refile the Informations. The period for the State to charge respondent for
multiple murder under Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code was considerably
and arbitrarily reduced. They submit that in case of conflict between the
Revised Penal Code and the new rule, the former should prevail. They also
insist that the State had consistently relied on the prescriptive periods under
Article 90 of the Revised Penal Code. It was not accorded a fair warning that it
would forever be barred beyond the two-year period by a retroactive
application of the new rule. Petitioners thus pray to the Court to set aside its
Resolution of May 28, 2002.
[28]

For his part, the respondent asserts that the new rule under Section 8 of
Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure may be applied
retroactively since there is no substantive right of the State that may be
impaired by its application to the criminal cases in question since [t]he States
witnesses were ready, willing and able to provide their testimony but the
prosecution failed to act on these cases until it became politically expedient in
April 2001 for them to do so. According to the respondent, penal laws, either
procedural or substantive, may be retroactively applied so long as they favor
the accused. He asserts that the two-year period commenced to run on
March 29, 1999 and lapsed two years thereafter was more than reasonable
opportunity for the State to fairly indict him. In any event, the State is given
the right under the Courts assailed Resolution to justify the filing of the
Information in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 beyond the timebar under the new rule.
[29]

[30]

[31]

The respondent insists that Section 8 of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure does not broaden the substantive right of double jeopardy
to the prejudice of the State because the prohibition against the revival of the
cases within the one-year or two-year periods provided therein is a legal
concept distinct from the prohibition against the revival of a provisionally
dismissed case within the periods stated in Section 8 of Rule 117. Moreover,
he claims that the effects of a provisional dismissal under said rule do not
modify or negate the operation of the prescriptive period under Article 90 of
the Revised Penal Code.Prescription under the Revised Penal Code simply
becomes irrelevant upon the application of Section 8, Rule 117 because a
complaint or information has already been filed against the accused, which
filing tolls the running of the prescriptive period under Article 90.
[32]

The Court agrees with the respondent that the new rule is not a statute of
limitations. Statutes of limitations are construed as acts of grace, and a
surrender by the sovereign of its right to prosecute or of its right to prosecute
at its discretion. Such statutes are considered as equivalent to acts of
amnesty founded on the liberal theory that prosecutions should not be allowed
to ferment endlessly in the files of the government to explode only after
witnesses and proofs necessary for the protection of the accused have by
sheer lapse of time passed beyond availability. The periods fixed under such
statutes are jurisdictional and are essential elements of the offenses covered.
[33]

[34]

On the other hand, the time-bar under Section 8 of Rule 117 is akin to a
special procedural limitation qualifying the right of the State to prosecute
making the time-bar an essence of the given right or as an inherent part
thereof, so that the lapse of the time-bar operates to extinguish the right of the
State to prosecute the accused.
[35]

The time-bar under the new rule does not reduce the periods under Article
90 of the Revised Penal Code, a substantive law. It is but a limitation of the
right of the State to revive a criminal case against the accused after the
Information had been filed but subsequently provisionally dismissed with the
express consent of the accused. Upon the lapse of the timeline under the new
rule, the State is presumed, albeit disputably, to have abandoned or waived its
right to revive the case and prosecute the accused. The dismissal
becomes ipso facto permanent. He can no longer be charged anew for the
same crime or another crime necessarily included therein. He is spared from
[36]

[37]

the anguish and anxiety as well as the expenses in any new indictments.
The State may revive a criminal case beyond the one-year or two-year
periods provided that there is a justifiable necessity for the delay. By the
same token, if a criminal case is dismissed on motion of the accused because
the trial is not concluded within the period therefor, the prescriptive periods
under the Revised Penal Code are not thereby diminished. But whether or
not the prosecution of the accused is barred by the statute of limitations or by
the lapse of the time-line under the new rule, the effect is basically the
same. As the State Supreme Court of Illinois held:
[38]

[39]

[40]

This, in effect, enacts that when the specified period shall have arrived, the right of the
state to prosecute shall be gone, and the liability of the offender to be punishedto be
deprived of his libertyshall cease. Its terms not only strike down the right of action
which the state had acquired by the offense, but also remove the flaw which the crime
had created in the offenders title to liberty. In this respect, its language goes deeper
than statutes barring civil remedies usually do. They expressly take away only the
remedy by suit, and that inferentially is held to abate the right which such remedy
would enforce, and perfect the title which such remedy would invade; but this statute
is aimed directly at the very right which the state has against the offenderthe right to
punish, as the only liability which the offender has incurred, and declares that this
right and this liability are at an end.
[41]

The Court agrees with the respondent that procedural laws may be
applied retroactively. As applied to criminal law, procedural law provides or
regulates the steps by which one who has committed a crime is to be
punished. In Tan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, this Court held that:
[42]

Statutes regulating the procedure of the courts will be construed as applicable to


actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage. Procedural laws are
retroactive in that sense and to that extent. The fact that procedural statutes may
somehow affect the litigants rights may not preclude their retroactive application to
pending actions. The retroactive application of procedural laws is not violative of any
right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected. Nor is the retroactive
application of procedural statutes constitutionally objectionable. The reason is that as
a general rule no vested right may attach to, nor arise from, procedural laws. It has
been held that a person has no vested right in any particular remedy, and a litigant
cannot insist on the application to the trial of his case, whether civil or criminal, of
any other than the existing rules of procedure.

It further ruled therein that a procedural law may not be applied


retroactively if to do so would work injustice or would involve intricate
problems of due process or impair the independence of the Court. In a per
curiam decision in Cipriano v. City of Houma, the United States Supreme
Court ruled that where a decision of the court would produce substantial
inequitable results if applied retroactively, there is ample basis for avoiding the
injustice of hardship by a holding of nonretroactivity. A construction of which
a statute is fairly susceptible is favored, which will avoid all objectionable,
mischievous, indefensible, wrongful, and injurious consequences. This Court
should not adopt an interpretation of a statute which produces absurd,
unreasonable, unjust, or oppressive results if such interpretation could be
avoided. Time and again, this Court has decreed that statutes are to be
construed in light of the purposes to be achieved and the evils sought to be
remedied. In construing a statute, the reason for the enactment should be
kept in mind and the statute should be construed with reference to the
intended scope and purpose.
[43]

[44]

[45]

[46]

[47]

Remedial legislation, or procedural rule, or doctrine of the Court designed


to enhance and implement the constitutional rights of parties in criminal
proceedings may be applied retroactively or prospectively depending upon
several factors, such as the history of the new rule, its purpose and effect, and
whether the retrospective application will further its operation, the particular
conduct sought to be remedied and the effect thereon in the administration of
justice and of criminal laws in particular. In a per curiam decision in Stefano
v. Woods, the United States Supreme Court catalogued the factors in
determining whether a new rule or doctrine enunciated by the High Court
should be given retrospective or prospective effect:
[48]

[49]

(a) the purpose to be served by the new standards, (b) the extent of the reliance by law
enforcement authorities on the old standards, and (c) the effect on the administration
of justice of a retroactive application of the new standards.
In this case, the Court agrees with the petitioners that the time-bar of two
years under the new rule should not be applied retroactively against the State.
In the new rule in question, as now construed by the Court, it has fixed a
time-bar of one year or two years for the revival of criminal cases provisionally
dismissed with the express consent of the accused and with a priori notice to
the offended party. The time-bar may appear, on first impression,

unreasonable compared to the periods under Article 90 of the Revised Penal


Code. However, in fixing the time-bar, the Court balanced the societal
interests and those of the accused for the orderly and speedy disposition of
criminal cases with minimum prejudice to the State and the accused. It took
into account the substantial rights of both the State and of the accused to due
process. The Court believed that the time limit is a reasonable period for the
State to revive provisionally dismissed cases with the consent of the accused
and notice to the offended parties. The time-bar fixed by the Court must be
respected unless it is shown that the period is manifestly short or insufficient
that the rule becomes a denial of justice. The petitioners failed to show a
manifest shortness or insufficiency of the time-bar.
[50]

The new rule was conceptualized by the Committee on the Revision of the
Rules and approved by the Court en banc primarily to enhance the
administration of the criminal justice system and the rights to due process of
the State and the accused by eliminating the deleterious practice of trial courts
of provisionally dismissing criminal cases on motion of either the prosecution
or the accused or jointly, either with no time-bar for the revival thereof or with a
specific or definite period for such revival by the public prosecutor. There were
times when such criminal cases were no longer revived or refiled due to
causes beyond the control of the public prosecutor or because of the
indolence, apathy or the lackadaisical attitude of public prosecutors to the
prejudice of the State and the accused despite the mandate to public
prosecutors and trial judges to expedite criminal proceedings.
[51]

It is almost a universal experience that the accused welcomes delay as it


usually operates in his favor, especially if he greatly fears the consequences
of his trial and conviction. He is hesitant to disturb the hushed inaction by
which dominant cases have been known to expire.
[52]

[53]

The inordinate delay in the revival or refiling of criminal cases may impair
or reduce the capacity of the State to prove its case with the disappearance or
nonavailability of its witnesses. Physical evidence may have been
lost. Memories of witnesses may have grown dim or have faded. Passage of
time makes proof of any fact more difficult. The accused may become a
fugitive from justice or commit another crime. The longer the lapse of time
from the dismissal of the case to the revival thereof, the more difficult it is to
prove the crime.
[54]

On the other side of the fulcrum, a mere provisional dismissal of a criminal


case does not terminate a criminal case. The possibility that the case may be
revived at any time may disrupt or reduce, if not derail, the chances of the
accused for employment, curtail his association, subject him to public obloquy
and create anxiety in him and his family. He is unable to lead a normal life
because of community suspicion and his own anxiety. He continues to suffer
those penalties and disabilities incompatible with the presumption of
innocence. He may also lose his witnesses or their memories may fade with
the passage of time. In the long run, it may diminish his capacity to defend
himself and thus eschew the fairness of the entire criminal justice system.
[55]

[56]

The time-bar under the new rule was fixed by the Court to excise the
malaise that plagued the administration of the criminal justice system for
the benefit of the State and the accused; not for the accused only.
The Court agrees with the petitioners that to apply the time-bar
retroactively so that the two-year period commenced to run on March 31,
1999 when the public prosecutor received his copy of the resolution of Judge
Agnir, Jr. dismissing the criminal cases is inconsistent with the intendment of
the new rule.Instead of giving the State two years to revive provisionally
dismissed cases, the State had considerably less than two years to do
so. Thus, Judge Agnir, Jr. dismissed Criminal Cases Nos. Q-99-81679 to Q99-81689 on March 29, 1999. The new rule took effect on December 1, 2000.
If the Court applied the new time-bar retroactively, the State would have only
one year and three months or until March 31, 2001 within which to revive
these criminal cases. The period is short of the two-year period fixed under
the new rule. On the other hand, if the time limit is applied prospectively, the
State would have two years from December 1, 2000 or until December 1,
2002 within which to revive the cases. This is in consonance with the
intendment of the new rule in fixing the time-bar and thus prevent injustice to
the State and avoid absurd, unreasonable, oppressive, injurious, and wrongful
results in the administration of justice.
The period from April 1, 1999 to November 30, 1999 should be excluded in
the computation of the two-year period because the rule prescribing it was not
yet in effect at the time and the State could not be expected to comply with the
time-bar. It cannot even be argued that the State waived its right to revive the
criminal cases against respondent or that it was negligent for not reviving

them within the two-year period under the new rule. As the United States
Supreme Court said, per Justice Felix Frankfurter, in Griffin v. People:
[57]

We should not indulge in the fiction that the law now announced has always been the
law and, therefore, that those who did not avail themselves of it waived their rights .
The two-year period fixed in the new rule is for the benefit of both the
State and the accused. It should not be emasculated and reduced by an
inordinate retroactive application of the time-bar therein provided merely to
benefit the accused. For to do so would cause an injustice of hardship to the
State and adversely affect the administration of justice in general and of
criminal laws in particular.
To require the State to give a valid justification as a condition sine qua
non to the revival of a case provisionally dismissed with the express consent
of the accused before the effective date of the new rule is to assume that the
State is obliged to comply with the time-bar under the new rule before it took
effect. This would be a rank denial of justice. The State must be given a period
of one year or two years as the case may be from December 1, 2000 to revive
the criminal case without requiring the State to make a valid justification for
not reviving the case before the effective date of the new rule. Although in
criminal cases, the accused is entitled to justice and fairness, so is the
State. As the United States Supreme Court said, per Mr. Justice Benjamin
Cardozo, in Snyder v. State of Massachussetts, the concept of fairness must
not be strained till it is narrowed to a filament. We are to keep the balance
true. In Dimatulac v. Villon, this Court emphasized that the judges action
must not impair the substantial rights of the accused nor the right of the State
and offended party to due process of law. This Court further said:
[58]

[59]

Indeed, for justice to prevail, the scales must balance; justice is not to be dispensed for
the accused alone. The interests of society and the offended parties which have been
wronged must be equally considered. Verily, a verdict of conviction is not necessarily
a denial of justice; and an acquittal is not necessarily a triumph of justice, for, to the
society offended and the party wronged, it could also mean injustice. Justice then must
be rendered even-handedly to both the accused, on one hand, and the State and
offended party, on the other.

In this case, the eleven Informations in Criminal Cases Nos. 01-101102 to


01-101112 were filed with the Regional Trial Court on June 6, 2001 well within
the two-year period.
In sum, this Court finds the motion for reconsideration of petitioners
meritorious.
IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration is GRANTED. The Resolution of this Court, dated May 28,
2002, is SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated August 24,
2001, in CA-G.R. SP No. 65034 is REVERSED. The Petition of the
Respondent with the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No. 01-100933 is
DISMISSED for being moot and academic. The Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 81, is DIRECTED to forthwith proceed with Criminal
Cases Nos. 01-101102 to 01-101112 with deliberate dispatch.
No pronouncements as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 151876

June 21, 2005

SUSAN GO and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners,


vs.
FERNANDO L. DIMAGIBA, respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Administrative Circular 12-2000, as clarified by Administrative Circular 13-2001, merely establishes a
rule of preference in imposing penalties for violations of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22), the
"Bouncing Checks Law." When the circumstances of both the offense and the offender indicate good
faith or a clear mistake of fact without taint of negligence, the imposition of a fine alone -- instead of
imprisonment -- is the preferred penalty. As the Circular requires a review of the factual
circumstances of a given case, it applies only to pending or future litigations. It is not a penal law;
hence, it does not have retroactive effect. Neither may it be used to modify final judgments of
conviction.

The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the October 10,
20012 and the October 11, 20013 Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) (Branch 5), Baguio
City.4 The October 10, 2001 Order released Respondent Fernando L. Dimagiba from confinement
and required him to pay a fine of P100,000 in lieu of imprisonment. The October 11, 2001 Order
disposed as follows:
"WHEREFORE, [in] applying the doctrine as held in the above-entitled cases in this case, the instant
petition for Habeas Corpus should be, as it is hereby, GRANTED. The Baguio City Jail Warden is
hereby ordered to IMMEDIATELY RELEASE the petitioner from confinement unless he is being held
for some other lawful cause other than by virtue of the Sentence Mittimus dated September 28, 2001
issued by CESAR S. VIDUYA, Clerk of Court, MTC 4, Baguio City. Further, the petitioner is required
to pay a fine in the amount of P100,000.00 in lieu of his imprisonment, in addition to the civil aspect
of the Joint Judgment rendered by MTC 4 dated July 16, 1999." 5
The Facts
The pertinent facts are not disputed. Respondent Fernando L. Dimagiba issued to Petitioner Susan
Go thirteen (13) checks which, when presented to the drawee bank for encashment or payment on
the due dates, were dishonored for the reason "account closed."6 Dimagiba was subsequently
prosecuted for 13 counts of violation of BP 227 under separate Complaints filed with the Municipal
Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in Baguio City.8 After a joint trial, the MTCC (Branch 4) rendered a
Decision on July 16, 1999, convicting the accused in the 13 cases. The dispositive portion reads as
follows:
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing disquisition, this Court finds the evidence of the prosecution
to have established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt of the offenses charged and
imposes upon the accused the penalty of 3 months imprisonment for each count (13 counts) and to
indemnify the offended party the amount of One Million Two Hundred Ninety Five Thousand Pesos
(P1,295,000.00) with legal interest per annum commencing from 1996 after the checks were
dishonored by reason ACCOUNT CLOSED on December 13, 1995, to pay attorneys fees
of P15,000.00 and to pay the costs."9
The appeal of Dimagiba was raffled to Branch 4 of the RTC in Baguio City.10 On May 23, 2000, the
RTC denied the appeal and sustained his conviction.11 There being no further appeal to the Court of
Appeals (CA), the RTC issued on February 1, 2001, a Certificate of Finality of the Decision. 12
Thus, on February 14, 2001, the MTCC issued an Order directing the arrest of Dimagiba for the
service of his sentence as a result of his conviction. The trial court also issued a Writ of Execution to
enforce his civil liability.13
On February 27, 2001, Dimagiba filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the MTCC Order. He prayed
for the recall of the Order of Arrest and the modification of the final Decision, arguing that the penalty
of fine only, instead of imprisonment also, should have been imposed on him. 14 The arguments
raised in that Motion were reiterated in a Motion for the Partial Quashal of the Writ of Execution filed
on February 28, 2001.15

In an Order dated August 22, 2001, the MTCC denied the Motion for Reconsideration and directed
the issuance of a Warrant of Arrest against Dimagiba.16 On September 28, 2001, he was arrested
and imprisoned for the service of his sentence.
On October 9, 2001, he filed with the RTC of Baguio City a Petition 17 for a writ of habeas corpus. The
case was raffled to Branch 5, which scheduled the hearing for October 10, 2001. Copies of the Order
were served on respondents counsels and the city warden. 18
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
Right after hearing the case on October 10, 2001, the RTC issued an Order directing the immediate
release of Dimagiba from confinement and requiring him to pay a fine of P100,000 in lieu of
imprisonment. However, the civil aspect of the July 16, 1999 MTCC Decision was not touched
upon.19 A subsequent Order, explaining in greater detail the basis of the grant of the writ of habeas
corpus, was issued on October 11, 2001.20
In justifying its modification of the MTCC Decision, the RTC invoked Vaca v. Court of Appeals21 and
Supreme Court Administrative Circular (SC-AC) No. 12-2000, 22 which allegedly required the
imposition of a fine only instead of imprisonment also for BP 22 violations, if the accused was not a
recidivist or a habitual delinquent. The RTC held that this rule should be retroactively applied in favor
of Dimagiba.23 It further noted that (1) he was a first-time offender and an employer of at least 200
workers who would be displaced as a result of his imprisonment; and (2) the civil liability had already
been satisfied through the levy of his properties. 24
On October 22, 2001, Petitioner Go filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the RTC Orders dated
October 10 and 11, 2001.25 That Motion was denied on January 18, 2002.26
Hence, this Petition filed directly with this Court on pure questions of law.27
The Issues
Petitioner raises the following issues for this Courts consideration:
"1. [The RTC] Judge was utterly devoid of jurisdiction in amending a final and conclusive
decision of the Municipal Trial Court, Branch 4, dated July 16, 1999, in nullifying the
Sentence Mittimus, dated September 28, 2001, issued by x x x [the] Municipal Trial Court,
Branch 4, Baguio City, and in ordering the release of [Dimagiba] from confinement in jail for
the service of his sentence under the said final and conclusive judgment;
"2. Assuming only for the sake of argument that habeas corpus is the proper remedy, the
Petition for Habeas Corpus is utterly devoid of merit as [Dimagiba was] not entitled to the
beneficent policy enunciated in the Eduardo Vaca and Rosa Lim cases and reiterated in the
Supreme Court Circular No. 12-2000; x x x
"3. Granting for the sake of argument that [Dimagiba was] entitled to the beneficent policy
enunciated in theEduardo Vaca and Rosa Lim cases and reiterated in the Supreme Court
Circular No. 12-2000, the minimum fine that should be imposed on [Dimagiba] is one million

and two hundred ninety five thousand pesos (P1,295,000.00) up to double the said amount
or (P2,590,000), not just the measly amount ofP100,000; and
"4. [The RTC] judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in hearing and deciding [Dimagibas] Petition for Habeas Corpus without notice
and without affording procedural due process to the People of the Philippines through the
Office of [the] City Prosecutor of Baguio City or the Office of the Solicitor General." 28
In the main, the case revolves around the question of whether the Petition for habeas corpus was
validly granted. Hence, the Court will discuss the four issues as they intertwine with this main
question.29
The Courts Ruling
The Petition is meritorious.
Main Issue:
Propriety of the Writ of Habeas Corpus
The writ of habeas corpus applies to all cases of illegal confinement or detention in which individuals
are deprived of liberty.30 It was devised as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from
unlawful restraint; or, more specifically, to obtain immediate relief for those who may have been
illegally confined or imprisoned without sufficient cause and thus deliver them from unlawful
custody.31 It is therefore a writ of inquiry intended to test the circumstances under which a person is
detained.32
The writ may not be availed of when the person in custody is under a judicial process or by virtue of
a valid judgment.33 However, as a post-conviction remedy, it may be allowed when, as a
consequence of a judicial proceeding, any of the following exceptional circumstances is attendant:
(1) there has been a deprivation of a constitutional right resulting in the restraint of a person; (2) the
court had no jurisdiction to impose the sentence; or (3) the imposed penalty has been
excessive, thus voiding the sentence as to such excess.34
In the present case, the Petition for a writ of habeas corpus was anchored on the ruling in Vaca and
on SC-AC No. 12-2000, which allegedly prescribed the imposition of a fine, not imprisonment, for
convictions under BP 22. Respondent sought the retroactive effect of those rulings, thereby
effectively challenging the penalty imposed on him for being excessive. From his allegations, the
Petition appeared sufficient in form to support the issuance of the writ.
However, it appears that respondent has previously sought the modification of his sentence in a
Motion for Reconsideration35 of the MTCCs Execution Order and in a Motion for the Partial Quashal
of the Writ of Execution.36 Both were denied by the MTCC on the ground that it had no power or
authority to amend a judgment issued by the RTC.
In his Petition for habeas corpus, respondent raised the same arguments that he had invoked in the
said Motions. We believe that his resort to this extraordinary remedy was a procedural infirmity. The
remedy should have been an appeal of the MTCC Order denying his Motions, in which he should

have prayed that the execution of the judgment be stayed. But he effectively misused the action he
had chosen, obviously with the intent of finding a favorable court. His Petition for a writ of habeas
corpus was clearly an attempt to reopen a case that had already become final and executory. Such
an action deplorably amounted to forum shopping. Respondent should have resorted to the proper,
available remedy instead of instituting a different action in another forum.
The Court also finds his arguments for his release insubstantial to support the issuance of the writ of
habeas corpus.
Preference in the Application of Penalties for Violation of BP 22
The following alternative penalties are imposable under BP 22: (1) imprisonment of not less than 30
days, but not more than one year; (2) a fine of not less or more than double the amount of the check,
a fine that shall in no case exceed P200,000; or (3) both such fine and imprisonment, at the
discretion of the court.37
SC-AC No. 12-2000, as clarified by SC-AC No. 13-2001, 38 established a rule of preference in
imposing the above penalties.39 When the circumstances of the case clearly indicate good faith or a
clear mistake of fact without taint of negligence, the imposition of a fine alone may be considered as
the preferred penalty.40 The determination of the circumstances that warrant the imposition of a fine
rests upon the trial judge only.41 Should the judge deem that imprisonment is appropriate, such
penalty may be imposed.42
SC-AC No. 12-2000 did not delete the alternative penalty of imprisonment. The competence to
amend the law belongs to the legislature, not to this Court.43
Inapplicability of SC-AC No. 12-2000
Petitioners argue that respondent is not entitled to the benevolent policy enunciated in SC-AC No.
12-2000, because he is not a "first time offender."44 This circumstance is, however, not the sole factor
in determining whether he deserves the preferred penalty of fine alone. The penalty to be imposed
depends on the peculiar circumstances of each case. 45 It is the trial courts discretion to impose any
penalty within the confines of the law. SC-AC No. 13-2001 explains thus:
"x x x. Administrative Circular No. 12-2000 establishes a rule of preference in the application of the
penal provisions of BP 22 such that where the circumstances of both the offense and the offender
clearly indicate good faith or a clear mistake of fact without taint of negligence, the imposition of a
fine alone should be considered as the more appropriate penalty. Needless to say, the determination
of whether the circumstances warrant the imposition of a fine alone rests solely upon the Judge. x x
x.
It is, therefore, understood that:
xxxxxxxxx
"2. The Judges concerned, may in the exercise of sound discretion, and taking into consideration the
peculiar circumstances of each case, determine whether the imposition of a fine alone would best
serve the interests of justice, or whether forbearing to impose imprisonment would depreciate the

seriousness of the offense, work violence on the social order, or otherwise be contrary to the
imperatives of justice;"
The Court notes that the Petition for a writ of habeas corpus relied mainly on the alleged retroactivity
of SC-AC No. 12-2000, which supposedly favored BP 22 offenders.46 On this point, Dimagiba
contended that his imprisonment was violative of his right to equal protection of the laws, since only
a fine would be imposed on others similarly situated. 47
The rule on retroactivity states that criminal laws may be applied retroactively if favorable to the
accused. This principle, embodied in the Revised Penal Code,48 has been expanded in certain
instances to cover special laws.49
The issue of retroactivity of SC-AC No. 12-2000 was settled in De Joya v. Jail Warden of Batangas
City,50 which we quote:
"Petitioner's reliance of our ruling in Ordoez v. Vinarao that a convicted person is entitled to benefit
from the reduction of penalty introduced by the new law, citing People v. Simon, is misplaced. Thus,
her plea that as provided for in Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code, SC Admin. Circular No. 122000 as modified by SC Admin. Circular No. 13-2001 should benefit her has no basis.
"First. SC Admin. Circular No. 12-2000 is not a penal law; hence, Article 22 of the Revised Penal
Code is not applicable. The circular applies only to those cases pending as of the date of its
effectivity and not to cases already terminated by final judgment.
"Second. As explained by the Court in SC Admin. Circular No. 13-2001, SC Admin. Circular No. 122000 merely lays down a rule of preference in the application of the penalties for violation of B.P.
Blg. 22. It does not amend B.P. Blg. 22, nor defeat the legislative intent behind the law. SC Admin.
Circular No. 12-2000 merely urges the courts to take into account not only the purpose of the law but
also the circumstances of the accused -- whether he acted in good faith or on a clear mistake of fact
without taint of negligence -- and such other circumstance which the trial court or the appellate court
believes relevant to the penalty to be imposed."51
Because the Circular merely lays down a rule of preference, it serves only as a guideline for the trial
courts. Thus, it is addressed to the judges, who are directed to consider the factual circumstances of
each case prior to imposing the appropriate penalty. In other words, the Administrative Circular does
not confer any new right in favor of the accused, much less those convicted by final judgment.
The competence to determine the proper penalty belongs to the court rendering the decision against
the accused.52 That decision is subject only to appeal on grounds of errors of fact or law, or grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Another trial court may not encroach
upon this authority. Indeed, SC-AC No. 12-2000 necessarily requires a review of all factual
circumstances of each case. Such a review can no longer be done if the judgment has become final
and executory.
In the present case, the MTCC of Baguio City had full knowledge of all relevant circumstances from
which respondents conviction and sentence were based. The penalty imposed was well within the
confines of the law. Upon appeal, the conviction was sustained by RTC-Branch 4 of Baguio City.
Eventually, the Decision attained finality. Hence, RTC-Branch 5 did not have the jurisdiction to
modify the lawful judgment in the guise of granting a writ of habeas corpus.

The doctrine of equal protection of laws53 does not apply for the same reasons as those on
retroactivity. Foremost of these reasons is that the Circular is not a law that deletes the penalty of
imprisonment. As explained earlier, it is merely a rule of preference as to which penalty should be
imposed under the peculiar circumstances of a case. At any rate, this matter deserves scant
consideration, because respondent failed to raise any substantial argument to support his
contention.54
Modification of Final Judgment Not Warranted
The Court is not unmindful of So v. Court of Appeals,55 in which the final judgment of conviction for
violation of BP 22 was modified by the deletion of the sentence of imprisonment and the imposition
of a fine. That case proceeded from an "Urgent Manifestation of an Extraordinary Supervening
Event,"56 not from an unmeritorious petition for a writ of habeas corpus, as in the present case. The
Court exercised in that case its authority to suspend or to modify the execution of a final judgment
when warranted or made imperative by the higher interest of justice or by supervening events. 57 The
supervening event in that case was the petitioners urgent need for coronary rehabilitation for at least
one year under the direct supervision of a coronary care therapist; imprisonment would have been
equivalent to a death sentence.58
The peculiar circumstances of So do not obtain in the present case. Respondents supposed
"unhealthy physical condition due to a triple by-pass operation, and aggravated by hypertension,"
cited by the RTC in its October 10, 2001 Order,59 is totally bereft of substantial proof. The Court notes
that respondent did not make any such allegation in his Petition for habeas corpus. Neither did he
mention his physical state in his Memorandum and Comment submitted to this Court.
Respondent seeks the retroactive application of SC-AC No. 12-2000 in his favor on the basis alone
of the alleged settlement of his civil liability.60 Citing Griffith v. Court of Appeals,61 he theorizes that
answering for a criminal offense is no longer justified after the settlement of the debt.
Respondent, however, misreads Griffith. The Court held in that case that convicting the accused
who, two years prior to the filing of the BP 22 cases, had already paid his debt (from which the
checks originated) was contrary to the basic principles of fairness and justice. 62 Obviously, that
situation is not attendant here.
The civil liability in the present case was satisfied through the levy and sale of the properties of
respondent only after the criminal case had been terminated with his conviction. 63 Apparently, he had
sufficient properties that could have been used to settle his liabilities prior to his conviction. Indeed,
such an early settlement would have been an indication that he was in good faith, a circumstance
that could have been favorably considered in determining his appropriate penalty.
At any rate, civil liability differs from criminal liability.64 What is punished in the latter is not the failure
to pay the obligation, but the issuance of checks that subsequently bounced or were dishonored for
insufficiency or lack of funds.65 The Court reiterates the reasons why the issuance of worthless
checks is criminalized:
"The practice is prohibited by law because of its deleterious effects on public interest. The effects of
the increase of worthless checks transcend the private interest of the parties directly involved in the
transaction and touches the interest of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a
wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public. The harmful practice of putting

valueless commercial papers in circulation multiplied a thousand-fold can very well pollute the
channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of
society and the public interest. The law punishes the act not as an offense against property but an
offense against public order."66
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED and the assailed Orders NULLIFIED. Respondents
Petition for habeas corpus is hereby DENIED. Let this case be REMANDED to MTCC of Baguio City
for the re-arrest of respondent and the completion of his sentence.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-5270

January 15, 1910

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
H. N. BULL, defendant-appellant.
Bruce & Lawrence, for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor-General Harvey, for appellee.
ELLIOTT, J.:
The appellant was convicted in the Court of First Instance of a violation of section 1 of Act No. 55, as
amended by section 1 of Act No. 275, and from the judgment entered thereon appealed to this court,
where under proper assignments of error he contends: (1) that the complaint does not state facts
sufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the court; (2) that under the evidence the trial court was without
jurisdiction to hear and determine the case; (3) that Act No. 55 as amended is in violation of certain
provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and void as applied to the facts of this case; and
(4) that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction.
The information alleges:
That on and for many months prior to the 2d day of December, 1908, the said H. N. Bull was
then and there master of a steam sailing vessel known as the steamship Standard, which
vessel was then and there engaged in carrying and transporting cattle, carabaos, and other
animals from a foreign port and city of Manila, Philippine Islands; that the said accused H. N.
Bull, while master of said vessel, as aforesaid, on or about the 2d day of December, 1908,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and wrongly carry, transport, and bring into the port
and city of Manila, aboard said vessel, from the port of Ampieng, Formosa, six hundred and
seventy-seven (677) head of cattle and carabaos, without providing suitable means for

securing said animals while in transit, so as to avoid cruelty and unnecessary suffering to the
said animals, in this, to wit, that the said H. N. Bull, master, as aforesaid, did then and there
fail to provide stalls for said animals so in transit and suitable means for trying and securing
said animals in a proper manner, and did then and there cause some of said animals to be
tied by means of rings passed through their noses, and allow and permit others to be
transported loose in the hold and on the deck of said vessel without being tied or secured in
stalls, and all without bedding; that by reason of the aforesaid neglect and failure of the
accused to provide suitable means for securing said animals while so in transit, the noses of
some of said animals were cruelly torn, and many of said animals were tossed about upon
the decks and hold of said vessel, and cruelly wounded, bruised, and killed.
All contrary to the provisions of Acts No. 55 and No. 275 of the Philippine Commission.
Section 1 of Act No. 55, which went into effect January 1, 1901, provides that
The owners or masters of steam, sailing, or other vessels, carrying or transporting cattle,
sheep, swine, or other animals, from one port in the Philippine Islands to another, or from
any foreign port to any port within the Philippine Islands, shall carry with them, upon the
vessels carrying such animals, sufficient forage and fresh water to provide for the suitable
sustenance of such animals during the ordinary period occupied by the vessel in passage
from the port of shipment to the port of debarkation, and shall cause such animals to be
provided with adequate forage and fresh water at least once in every twenty-four hours from
the time that the animals are embarked to the time of their final debarkation.
By Act No. 275, enacted October 23, 1901, Act No. 55 was amended by adding to section 1 thereof
the following:
The owners or masters of steam, sailing, or other vessels, carrying or transporting cattle,
sheep, swine, or other animals from one port in the Philippine Islands to another, or from any
foreign port to any port within the Philippine Islands, shall provide suitable means for
securing such animals while in transit so as to avoid all cruelty and unnecessary suffering to
the animals, and suitable and proper facilities for loading and unloading cattle or other
animals upon or from vessels upon which they are transported, without cruelty or
unnecessary suffering. It is hereby made unlawful to load or unload cattle upon or from
vessels by swinging them over the side by means of ropes or chains attached to the thorns.
Section 3 of Act No. 55 provides that
Any owner or master of a vessel, or custodian of such animals, who knowingly and willfully
fails to comply with the provisions of section one, shall, for every such failure, be liable to pay
a penalty of not less that one hundred dollars nor more that five hundred dollars, United
States money, for each offense. Prosecution under this Act may be instituted in any Court of
First Instance or any provost court organized in the province or port in which such animals
are disembarked.
1. It is contended that the information is insufficient because it does not state that the court was
sitting at a port where the cattle were disembarked, or that the offense was committed on board a
vessel registered and licensed under the laws of the Philippine Islands.

Act No. 55 confers jurisdiction over the offense created thereby on Courts of First Instance or any
provost court organized in the province or port in which such animals are disembarked, and there is
nothing inconsistent therewith in Act No. 136, which provides generally for the organization of the
courts of the Philippine Islands. Act No. 400 merely extends the general jurisdiction of the courts
over certain offenses committed on the high seas, or beyond the jurisdiction of any country, or within
any of the waters of the Philippine Islands on board a ship or water craft of any kind registered or
licensed in the Philippine Islands, in accordance with the laws thereof. (U.S.vs. Fowler, 1 Phil. Rep.,
614.) This jurisdiction may be exercised by the Court of First Instance in any province into which
such ship or water upon which the offense or crime was committed shall come after the commission
thereof. Had this offense been committed upon a ship carrying a Philippine registry, there could have
been no doubt of the Jurisdiction of the court, because it is expressly conferred, and the Act is in
accordance with well recognized and established public law. But the Standard was a Norwegian
vessel, and it is conceded that it was not registered or licensed in the Philippine Islands under the
laws thereof. We have then the question whether the court had jurisdiction over an offense of this
character, committed on board a foreign ship by the master thereof, when the neglect and omission
which constitutes the offense continued during the time the ship was within the territorial waters of
the United States. No court of the Philippine Islands had jurisdiction over an offenses or crime
committed on the high seas or within the territorial waters of any other country, but when she came
within 3 miles of a line drawn from the headlines which embrace the entrance to Manila Bay, she
was within territorial waters, and a new set of principles became applicable. (Wheaton, Int. Law
(Dana ed.), p. 255, note 105; Bonfils, Le Droit Int., sec 490 et seq.; Latour, La Mer Ter., ch. 1.) The
ship and her crew were then subject to the jurisdiction of the territorial sovereign subject through the
proper political agency. This offense was committed within territorial waters. From the line which
determines these waters the Standard must have traveled at least 25 miles before she came to
anchor. During that part of her voyage the violation of the statue continued, and as far as the
jurisdiction of the court is concerned, it is immaterial that the same conditions may have existed
while the vessel was on the high seas. The offense, assuming that it originated at the port of
departure in Formosa, was a continuing one, and every element necessary to constitute it existed
during the voyage across the territorial waters. The completed forbidden act was done within
American waters, and the court therefore had jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the offense and
the person of the offender.
The offense then was thus committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, but the objection to
the jurisdiction raises the further question whether that jurisdiction is restricted by the fact of the
nationality of the ship. Every. Every state has complete control and jurisdiction over its territorial
waters. According to strict legal right, even public vessels may not enter the ports of a friendly power
without permission, but it is now conceded that in the absence of a prohibition such ports are
considered as open to the public ship of all friendly powers. The exemption of such vessels from
local jurisdiction while within such waters was not established until within comparatively recent times.
In 1794, Attorney-General Bradford, and in 1796 Attorney-General Lee, rendered opinions to the
effect that "the laws of nations invest the commander of a foreign ship of war with no exemption from
the jurisdiction of the country into which he comes." (1, Op. U.S. Attys. Gen., 46, 87.) This theory
was also supported by Lord Stowell in an opinion given by him to the British Government as late as
1820. In the leading case of the Schooner Exchange vs. McFadden (7 Cranch (U.S.), 116, 144),
Chief Justice Marshall said that the implied license under which such vessels enter a friendly port
may reasonably be construed as "containing exemption from the jurisdiction of the sovereign within
whose territory she claims the rights of hospitality." The principle was accepted by the Geneva
Arbitration Tribunal, which announced that "the priviledge of exterritoriality accorded to vessels of
war has been admitted in the law of nations; not as an absolute right, but solely as a proceeding

founded on the principle of courtesy and mutual deference between nations."


(2 Moore, Int. Law Dig., secs. 252 and 254; Hall, Int. Law, sec. 55; Taylor, Int. Law, sec. 256; Ortolan,
Dip de la Mer, 2. C.X.)
Such vessels are therefore permitted during times of peace to come and go freely. Local official
exercise but little control over their actions, and offenses committed by their crew are justiciable by
their own officers acting under the laws to which they primarily owe allegiance. This limitation upon
the general principle of territorial sovereignty is based entirely upon comity and convenience, and
finds its justification in the fact that experience shows that such vessels are generally careful to
respect local laws and regulation which are essential to the health, order, and well-being of the port.
But comity and convenience does not require the extension of the same degree of exemption to
merchant vessels. There are two well-defined theories as to extent of the immunities ordinarily
granted to them, According to the French theory and practice, matters happening on board a
merchant ship which do not concern the tranquillity of the port or persons foreign to the crew, are
justiciable only by the court of the country to which the vessel belongs. The French courts therefore
claim exclusive jurisdiction over crimes committed on board French merchant vessels in foreign
ports by one member of the crew against another. (See Bonfils, Le Droit Int. (quat. ed.), secs. 624628; Martens, Le Droit Int., tome 2, pp. 338, 339; Ortolan, Dip. de la Mer, tit. 1, p. 292; Masse, Droit
Int., tome 2, p. 63.) Such jurisdiction has never been admitted or claim by Great Britain as a right,
although she has frequently conceded it by treaties. (Halleck, Int. Law (Baker's ed.), vol. 1, 231;
British Territorial Waters Act, 1878.) Writers who consider exterritoriality as a fact instead of a theory
have sought to restrict local jurisdiction, but Hall, who is doubtless the leading English authority, says
that
It is admitted by the most thoroughgoing asserters of the territoriality of merchant vessels
that so soon as the latter enter the ports of a foreign state they become subject to the local
jurisdiction on all points in which the interests of the country are touched. (Hall, Int. Law, p.
263.)
The United States has adhered consistently to the view that when a merchant vessel enters a
foreign port it is subject to the jurisdiction of the local authorities, unless the local sovereignty has by
act of acquiescence or through treaty arrangements consented to waive a portion of such
jurisdiction. (15 Op. Attys. Gen., U. S., 178; 2 Moore, Int. Law Dig., sec. 204; article by Dean
Gregory, Mich. Law Review, Vol. II, No. 5.) Chief Justice Marshall, in the case of the Exchange, said
that
When merchant vessels enter for the purpose of trade, in would be obviously in convinient
and dangerous to society and would subject the laws to continual infraction and the
government to degradation if such individual merchants did not owe temporary and local
allegiance, and were not amendable to the jurisdiction of the country.
The Supreme Court of the United States has recently said that the merchant vessels of one country
visiting the ports of another for the purpose of trade, subject themselves to the laws which govern
the ports they visit, so long as they remain; and this as well in war as in peace, unless otherwise
provided by treaty. (U. S. vs. Diekelman, 92 U. S., 520-525.)
Certain limitations upon the jurisdiction of the local courts are imposed by article 13 of the treaty of
commerce and navigation between Sweden and Norway and the United States, of July 4, 1827,
which concedes to the consul, vice-consuls, or consular agents of each country "The right to sit as

judges and arbitrators in such differences as may arise between the captains and crews of the
vessels belonging to the nation whose interests are committed to their charge, without the
interference of the local authorities, unless the conduct of the crews or of the captains should disturb
the order or tranquillity of the country." (Comp. of Treaties in Force, 1904, p. 754.) This exception
applies to controversies between the members of the ship's company, and particularly to disputes
regarding wages. (2 Moore, Int. Law Dig., sec. 206, p. 318; Tellefsen vs. Fee, 168 Mass., 188.) The
order and tranquillity of the country are affected by many events which do not amount to a riot or
general public disturbance. Thus an assault by one member of the crew upon another, committed
upon the ship, of which the public may have no knowledge whatever, is not by this treaty withdrawn
from the cognizance of the local authorities.
In 1876 the mates of the Swedish bark Frederike and Carolina engaged in a "quarrel" on board the
vessel in the port of Galveston, Texas. They were prosecuted before a justice of the peace, but the
United States district attorney was instructed by the Government to take the necessary steps to have
the proceedings dismissed, and the aid of the governor of Texas was invoked with the view to "guard
against a repetition of similar proceedings." (Mr. Fish, Secretary of State, to Mr. Grip, Swedish and
Norwegian charged, May 16, 1876; Moore, Int. Law Dig.) It does not appear that this "quarrel" was of
such a nature as to amount to a breach of the criminal laws of Texas, but when in 1879 the mate for
the Norwegian bark Livingston was prosecuted in the courts of Philadelphia County for an assault
and battery committed on board the ship while lying in the port of Philadelphia, it was held that there
was nothing in the treaty which deprived the local courts of jurisdiction.
(Commonwealth vs. Luckness, 14 Phila. (Pa.), 363.) Representations were made through diplomatic
channels to the State Department, and on July 30, 1880, Mr. Evarts, Secretary of State, wrote to
Count Lewenhaupt, the Swedish and Norwegian minister, as follows:
I have the honor to state that I have given the matter careful consideration in connection with
the views and suggestion of your note and the provisions of the thirteenth article of the treaty
of 1827 between the United States and Sweden and Norway. The stipulations contained in
the last clause of that article . . . are those under which it is contended by you that jurisdiction
is conferred on the consular officers, not only in regard to such differences of a civil nature
growing out of the contract of engagement of the seamen, but also as to disposing of
controversies resulting from personal violence involving offense for which the party may be
held amenable under the local criminal law.
This Government does not view the article in question as susceptible of such broad
interpretation. The jurisdiction conferred upon the consuls is conceived to be limited to their
right to sit as judges or abitratorsin such differences as may arise between captains and
crews of the vessels, where such differences do not involve on the part of the captain or
crew a disturbance of the order or tranquillity of the country. When, however, a complaint is
made to a local magistrate, either by the captain or one or more of the crew of the vessel,
involving the disturbance of the order or tranquillity of the country, it is competent for such
magistrate to take cognizance of the matter in furtherance of the local laws, and under such
circumstances in the United States it becomes a public duty which the judge or magistrate is
not at liberty voluntarily to forego. In all such cases it must necessarily be left to the local
judicial authorities whether the procedure shall take place in the United States or in Sweden
to determine if in fact there had been such disturbance of the local order and tranquillity, and
if the complaint is supported by such proof as results in the conviction of the party accused,
to visit upon the offenders such punishment as may be defined against the offense by the
municipal law of the place." (Moore, Int. Law Dig., vol. 2, p. 315.)

The treaty does not therefore deprive the local courts of jurisdiction over offenses committed on
board a merchant vessel by one member of the crew against another which amount to a disturbance
of the order or tranquillity of the country, and a fair and reasonable construction of the language
requires un to hold that any violation of criminal laws disturbs the order or traquillity of the country.
The offense with which the appellant is charged had nothing to so with any difference between the
captain and the crew. It was a violation by the master of the criminal law of the country into whose
port he came. We thus find that neither by reason of the nationality of the vessel, the place of the
commission of the offense, or the prohibitions of any treaty or general principle of public law, are the
court of the Philippine Islands deprived of jurisdiction over the offense charged in the information in
this case.
It is further contended that the complaint is defective because it does not allege that the animals
were disembarked at the port of Manila, an allegation which it is claimed is essential to the
jurisdiction of the court sitting at that port. To hold with the appellant upon this issue would be to
construe the language of the complaint very strictly against the Government. The disembarkation of
the animals is not necessary in order to constitute the completed offense, and a reasonable
construction of the language of the statute confers jurisdiction upon the court sitting at the port into
which the animals are bought. They are then within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and the
mere fact of their disembarkation is immaterial so far as jurisdiction is concerned. This might be
different if the disembarkation of the animals constituted a constitutional element in the offense, but it
does not.
It is also contended that the information is insufficient because it fails to allege that the
defendant knowingly andwillfully failed to provide suitable means for securing said animals while in
transit, so as to avoid cruelty and unnecessary suffering. The allegation of the complaint that the act
was committed willfully includes the allegation that it was committed knowingly. As said in
Woodhouse vs. Rio Grande R.R. Company (67 Texas, 416), "the word 'willfully' carries the idea,
when used in connection with an act forbidden by law, that the act must be done knowingly or
intentionally; that, with knowledge, the will consented to, designed, and directed the act." So in
Wongvs. City of Astoria (13 Oregon, 538), it was said: "The first one is that the complaint did not
show, in the words of the ordinance, that the appellant 'knowingly' did the act complained of. This
point, I think, was fully answered by the respondent's counsel that the words 'willfully' and
'knowingly' conveyed the same meaning. To 'willfully' do an act implies that it was done by design
done for a certain purpose; and I think that it would necessarily follow that it was 'knowingly' done."
To the same effect is Johnson vs. The People (94 Ill., 505), which seems to be on all fours with the
present case.
The evidence shows not only that the defendant's acts were knowingly done, but his defense rests
upon the assertion that "according to his experience, the system of carrying cattle loose upon the
decks and in the hold is preferable and more secure to the life and comfort of the animals." It was
conclusively proven that what was done was done knowingly and intentionally.
In charging an offense under section 6 of General Orders, No. 58, paragraph 3, it is only necessary
to state the act or omission complained of as constituting a crime or public offense in ordinary and
concise language, without repitition. It need not necessarily be in the words of the statute, but it must
be in such form as to enable a person of common understanding to know what is intended and the
court to pronounce judgment according to right. A complaint which complies with this requirement is
good. (U.S. vs. Sarabia, 4 Phil. Rep., 556.)

The Act, which is in the English language, impose upon the master of a vessel the duty to "provide
suitable means for securing such animals while in transit, so as to avoid all cruelty and unnecessary
suffering to the animals." The allegation of the complaint as it reads in English is that the defendant
willfully, unlawfully, and wrongfully carried the cattle "without providing suitable means for securing
said animals while in transit, so as to avoid cruelty and unnecessary suffering to the said animals in
this . . . that by reason of the aforesaid neglect and failure of the accused to provide suitable means
for securing said animals were cruelty torn, and many of said animals were tossed about upon the
decks and hold of said vessels, and cruelty wounded, bruised, and killed."
The appellant contends that the language of the Spanish text of the information does not charge him
with failure to provide "sufficient" and "adequate" means. The words used are "medios suficientes"
and "medios adecuados." In view of the fact that the original complaint was prepared in English, and
that the word "suitable" is translatable by the words "adecuado," "suficiente," and "conveniente,"
according to the context and circumstances, we determine this point against the appellant,
particularly in view of the fact that the objection was not made in the court below, and that the
evidence clearly shows a failure to provide "suitable means for the protection of the animals."
2. The appellant's arguments against the constitutionality of Act No. 55 and the amendment thereto
seems to rest upon a fundamentally erroneous conception of the constitutional law of these Islands.
The statute penalizes acts and ommissions incidental to the transportation of live stock between
foreign ports and ports of the Philippine Islands, and had a similar statute regulating commerce with
its ports been enacted by the legislature of one of the States of the Union, it would doubtless have
been in violation of Article I, section 3, of the Constitution of the United States. (Stubbs vs. People
(Colo.), 11 L. R. A., N. S., 1071.)
But the Philippine Islands is not a State, and its relation to the United States is controlled by
constitutional principles different from those which apply to States of the Union. The importance of
the question thus presented requires a statement of the principles which govern those relations, and
consideration of the nature and extent of the legislative power of the Philippine Commission and the
Legislature of the Philippines. After much discussion and considerable diversity of opinion certain
applicable constitutional doctrines are established.
The Constitution confers upon the United States the express power to make war and treaties, and it
has the power possessed by all nations to acquire territory by conquest or treaty. Territory thus
acquired belongs to the United States, and to guard against the possibility of the power of Congress
to provide for its government being questioned, the framers of the Constitution provided in express
terms that Congress should have the power "to dispose of and make all needful rules and
regulations respecting territory and other property belonging to the United States." (Art. IV, sec. 3,
par. 3.) Upon the acquisition of the territory by the United States, and until it is formally incorporated
into the Union, the duty of providing a government therefor devolves upon Congress. It may govern
the territory by its direct acts, or it may create a local government, and delegate thereto the ordinary
powers required for local government. (Binns vs. U. S., 194 U. S., 486.) This has been the usual
procedure. Congress has provided such governments for territories which were within the Union,
and for newly acquired territory not yet incorporated therein. It has been customary to organize a
government with the ordinary separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial, and to
prescribe in an organic act certain general conditions in accordance with which the local government
should act. The organic act thus became the constitution of the government of the territory which
had not been formally incorporated into the Union, and the validity of legislation enacted by the local
legislature was determined by its conformity with the requirements of such organic act. (National

Bank vs. Yankton, 11 Otto (U. S.), 129.) To the legislative body of the local government Congress
has delegated that portion of legislative power which in its wisdom it deemed necessary for the
government of the territory, reserving, however, the right to annul the action of the local legislature
and itself legislate directly for the territory. This power has been exercised during the entire period of
the history of the United States. The right of Congress to delegate such legislative power can no
longer be seriously questioned. (Dorr vs. U. S., 195 U. S., 138; U. S. vs. Heinszen, 206 U. S., 370,
385.)
The Constitution of the United States does not by its own force operate within such territory, although
the liberality of Congress in legislating the Constitution into contiguous territory tended to create an
impression upon the minds of many people that it went there by its own force. (Downes vs. Bidwell,
182 U. S., 289.) In legislating with reference to this territory, the power of Congress is limited only by
those prohibitions of the Constitution which go to the very root of its power to act at all, irrespective
of time or place. In all other respects it is plenary. (De Limavs. Bidwell, 182 U. S., 1;
Downes vs. Bidwell, 182 U. S., 244; Hawaii vs. Mankichi, 190 U. S., 197; Dorr vs. U. S., 195 U. S.,
138; Rassmussen vs. U. S., 197 U. S., 516.)
This power has been exercised by Congress throughout the whole history of the United States, and
legislation founded on the theory was enacted long prior to the acquisition of the present Insular
possessions. Section 1891 of the Revised Statutes of 1878 provides that "The Constitution and all
laws of the United States which are not locally inapplicable shall have the same force and effect
within all the organized territories, and in every Territory hereafter organized, as elsewhere within the
United States." When Congress organized a civil government for the Philippines, it expressly
provided that this section of the Revised Statutes should not apply to the Philippine Islands. (Sec. 1,
Act of 1902.)
In providing for the government of the territory which was acquired by the United States as a result
of the war with Spain, the executive and legislative authorities have consistently proceeded in
conformity with the principles above state. The city of Manila was surrendered to the United States
on August 13, 1898, and the military commander was directed to hold the city, bay, and harbor,
pending the conclusion of a peace which should determine the control, disposition, and government
of the Islands. The duty then devolved upon the American authorities to preserve peace and protect
person and property within the occupied territory. Provision therefor was made by proper orders, and
on August 26 General Merritt assumed the duties of military governor. The treaty of peace was
signed December 10, 1898. On the 22d of December, 1898, the President announced that the
destruction of the Spanish fleet and the surrender of the city had practically effected the conquest of
the Philippine Islands and the suspension of the Spanish sovereignty therein, and that by the treaty
of peace the future control, disposition, and government of the Islands had been ceded to the United
States. During the periods of strict military occupation, before the treaty of peace was ratified, and
the interim thereafter, until Congress acted (Santiago vs. Noueral, 214 U.S., 260), the territory was
governed under the military authority of the President as commander in chief. Long before Congress
took any action, the President organized a civil government which, however, had its legal
justification, like the purely military government which it gradually superseded, in the war power. The
military power of the President embraced legislative, executive personally, or through such military or
civil agents as he chose to select. As stated by Secretary Root in his report for 1901
The military power in exercise in a territory under military occupation includes executive,
legislative, and judicial authority. It not infrequently happens that in a single order of a military
commander can be found the exercise of all three of these different powers the exercise

of the legislative powers by provisions prescribing a rule of action; of judicial power by


determination of right; and the executive power by the enforcement of the rules prescribed
and the rights determined.
President McKinley desired to transform military into civil government as rapidly as conditions would
permit. After full investigation, the organization of civil government was initiated by the appointment
of a commission to which civil authority was to be gradually transferred. On September 1, 1900, the
authority to exercise, subject to the approval of the President. "that part of the military power of the
President in the Philippine Islands which is legislative in its character" was transferred from the
military government to the Commission, to be exercised under such rules and regulations as should
be prescribed by the Secretary of War, until such time as complete civil government should be
established, or congress otherwise provided. The legislative power thus conferred upon the
Commission was declared to include "the making of rules and orders having the effect of law for the
raising of revenue by taxes, customs duties, and imposts; the appropriation and expenditure of
public funds of the Islands; the establishment of an educational system to secure an efficient civil
service; the organization and establishment of courts; the organization and establishment of
municipal and departmental government, and all other matters of a civil nature which the military
governor is now competent to provide by rules or orders of a legislative character." This grant of
legislative power to the Commission was to be exercised in conformity with certain declared general
principles, and subject to certain specific restrictions for the protection of individual rights. The
Commission were to bear in mind that the government to be instituted was "not for our satisfaction or
for the expression of our theoretical views, but for the happiness, peace, and prosperity of the
people of the Philippine Island, and the measures adopted should be made to conforms to their
customs, their habits, and even their prejudices, to the fullest extent consistent with the
accomplishment of the indispensable requisites of just and effective government." The specific
restrictions upon legislative power were found in the declarations that "no person shall be deprived
of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; that private property shall not be taken for
public use without just compensation; that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the
right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be
confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in
his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense; that excessive bail shall not be
required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted; that no person
shall be put twice in jeopardy for the same offense or be compelled in any criminal case to be a
witness against himself; that the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures
shall not be violated; that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist except as a punishment
for crime; that no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed; that no law shall be passed
abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the rights of the people to peaceably assemble
and petition the Government for a redress of grievances; that no law shall be made respecting an
establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that the free exercise and
enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be
allowed."
To prevent any question as to the legality of these proceedings being raised, the Spooner
amendment to the Army Appropriation Bill passed March 2, 1901, provided that "all military, civil, and
judicial powers necessary to govern the Philippine Islands . . . shall until otherwise provided by
Congress be vested in such person and persons, and shall be exercised in such manner, as the
President of the United States shall direct, for the establishment of civil government, and for
maintaining and protecting the inhabitants of said Islands in the free enjoyment of their liberty,
property, and religion." Thereafter, on July 4, 1901, the authority, which had been exercised

previously by the military governor, was transferred to that official. The government thus created by
virtue of the authority of the President as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy continued to
administer the affairs of the Islands under the direction of the President until by the Act of July 1,
1902, Congress assumed control of the situation by the enactment of a law which, in connection with
the instructions of April 7, 1900, constitutes the organic law of the Philippine Islands.
The Act of July 1, 1902, made no substancial changes in the form of government which the
President had erected. Congress adopted the system which was in operation, and approved the
action of the President in organizing the government. Substantially all the limitations which had been
imposed on the legislative power by the President's instructions were included in the law, Congress
thus extending to the Islands by legislative act nor the Constitution, but all its provisions for the
protection of the rights and privileges of individuals which were appropriate under the conditions.
The action of the President in creating the Commission with designated powers of government, in
creating the office of the Governor-General and Vice-Governor-General, and through the
Commission establishing certain executive departments, was expressly approved and ratified.
Subsequently the action of the President in imposing a tariff before and after the ratification of the
treaty of peace was also ratified and approved by Congress. (Act of March 8, 1902; Act of July 1,
1902; U.S. vs. Heinszen, 206 U.S., 370; Lincolnvs. U.S., 197 U.S., 419.) Until otherwise provided by
law the Islands were to continue to be governed "as thereby and herein provided." In the future the
enacting clause of all statutes should read "By authority of the United States" instead of "By the
authority of the President." In the course of time the legislative authority of the Commission in all
parts of the Islands not inhabited by Moros or non-Christian tribes was to be transferred to a
legislature consisting of two houses the Philippine Commission and the Philippine Assembly. The
government of the Islands was thus assumed by Congress under its power to govern newly acquired
territory not incorporated into the United States.
This Government of the Philippine Islands is not a State or a Territory, although its form and
organization somewhat resembles that of both. It stands outside of the constitutional relation which
unites the States and Territories into the Union. The authority for its creation and maintenance is
derived from the Constitution of the United States, which, however, operates on the President and
Congress, and not directly on the Philippine Government. It is the creation of the United States,
acting through the President and Congress, both deriving power from the same source, but from
different parts thereof. For its powers and the limitations thereon the Government of the Philippines
looked to the orders of the President before Congress acted and the Acts of Congress after it
assumed control. Its organic laws are derived from the formally and legally expressed will of the
President and Congress, instead of the popular sovereign constituency which lies upon any subject
relating to the Philippines is primarily in Congress, and when it exercise such power its act is from
the viewpoint of the Philippines the legal equivalent of an amendment of a constitution in the United
States.
Within the limits of its authority the Government of the Philippines is a complete governmental
organism with executive, legislative, and judicial departments exercising the functions commonly
assigned to such departments. The separation of powers is as complete as in most governments. In
neither Federal nor State governments is this separation such as is implied in the abstract statement
of the doctrine. For instance, in the Federal Government the Senate exercises executive powers,
and the President to some extent controls legislation through the veto power. In a State the veto
power enables him to exercise much control over legislation. The Governor-General, the head of the
executive department in the Philippine Government, is a member of the Philippine Commission, but
as executive he has no veto power. The President and Congress framed the government on the

model with which Americans are familiar, and which has proven best adapted for the advancement
of the public interests and the protection of individual rights and priviliges.
In instituting this form of government of intention must have been to adopt the general constitutional
doctrined which are inherent in the system. Hence, under it the Legislature must enact laws subject
to the limitations of the organic laws, as Congress must act under the national Constitution, and the
States under the national and state constitutions. The executive must execute such laws as are
constitutionally enacted. The judiciary, as in all governments operating under written constitutions,
must determine the validity of legislative enactments, as well as the legality of all private and official
acts. In performing these functions it acts with the same independence as the Federal and State
judiciaries in the United States. Under no other constitutional theory could there be that government
of laws and not of men which is essential for the protection of rights under a free and orderly
government.
Such being the constitutional theory of the Government of the Philippine Islands, it is apparent that
the courts must consider the question of the validity of an act of the Philippine Commission or the
Philippine Legislature, as a State court considers an act of the State legislature. The Federal
Government exercises such powers only as are expressly or impliedly granted to it by the
Constitution of the United States, while the States exercise all powers which have not been granted
to the central government. The former operates under grants, the latter subject to restrictions. The
validity of an Act of Congress depends upon whether the Constitution of the United States contains a
grant of express or implied authority to enact it. An act of a State legislature is valid unless the
Federal or State constitution expressly or impliedly prohibits its enaction. An Act of the legislative
authority of the Philippines Government which has not been expressly disapproved by Congress is
valid unless its subject-matter has been covered by congressional legislation, or its enactment
forbidden by some provision of the organic laws.
The legislative power of the Government of the Philippines is granted in general terms subject to
specific limitations. The general grant is not alone of power to legislate on certain subjects, but to
exercise the legislative power subject to the restrictions stated. It is true that specific authority is
conferred upon the Philippine Government relative to certain subjects of legislation, and that
Congress has itself legislated upon certain other subjects. These, however, should be viewed simply
as enactments on matters wherein Congress was fully informed and ready to act, and not as
implying any restriction upon the local legislative authority in other matters. (See Opinion of Atty.
Gen. of U. S., April 16, 1908.)
The fact that Congress reserved the power to annul specific acts of legislation by the Government of
the Philippine tends strongly to confirm the view that for purposes of construction the Government of
the Philippines should be regarded as one of general instead of enumerated legislative powers. The
situation was unusual. The new government was to operate far from the source of its authority. To
relieve Congress from the necessity of legislating with reference to details, it was thought better to
grant general legislative power to the new government, subject to broad and easily understood
prohibitions, and reserve to Congress the power to annul its acts if they met with disapproval. It was
therefore provided "that all laws passed by the Government of the Philippine Islands shall be
reported to Congress, which hereby reserves the power and authority to annul the same." (Act of
Congress, July 1, 1902, sec. 86.) This provision does not suspend the acts of the Legislature of the
Philippines until approved by Congress, or when approved, expressly or by acquiescence, make
them the laws of Congress. They are valid acts of the Government of the Philippine Islands until
annulled. (Miners Bank vs. Iowa, 12 How. (U. S.), 1.)

In order to determine the validity of Act No. 55 we must then ascertain whether the Legislature has
been expressly or implication forbidden to enact it. Section 3, Article IV, of the Constitution of the
United States operated only upon the States of the Union. It has no application to the Government of
the Philippine Islands. The power to regulate foreign commerce is vested in Congress, and by virtue
of its power to govern the territory belonging to the United States, it may regulate foreign commerce
with such territory. It may do this directly, or indirectly through a legislative body created by it, to
which its power in this respect if delegate. Congress has by direct legislation determined the duties
which shall be paid upon goods imported into the Philippines, and it has expressly authorized the
Government of the Philippines to provide for the needs of commerce by improving harbors and
navigable waters. A few other specific provisions relating to foreign commerce may be found in the
Acts of Congress, but its general regulation is left to the Government of the Philippines, subject to
the reserved power of Congress to annul such legislation as does not meet with its approval. The
express limitations upon the power of the Commission and Legislature to legislate do not affect the
authority with respect to the regulation of commerce with foreign countries. Act No. 55 was enacted
before Congress took over the control of the Islands, and this act was amended by Act No. 275 after
the Spooner amendment of March 2, 1901, was passed. The military government, and the civil
government instituted by the President, had the power, whether it be called legislative or
administrative, to regulate commerce between foreign nations and the ports of the territory.
(Crossvs. Harrison, 16 How. (U.S.), 164, 190; Hamilton vs. Dillin, 21 Wall. (U.S.), 73, 87.) This Act
has remained in force since its enactment without annulment or other action by Congress, and must
be presumed to have met with its approval. We are therefore satisfied that the Commission had, and
the Legislature now has, full constitutional power to enact laws for the regulation of commerce
between foreign countries and the ports of the Philippine Islands, and that Act No. 55, as amended
by Act No. 275, is valid.
3. Whether a certain method of handling cattle is suitable within the meaning of the Act can not be
left to the judgment of the master of the ship. It is a question which must be determined by the court
from the evidence. On December 2, 1908, the defendant Bull brought into and disembarked in the
port and city of Manila certain cattle, which came from the port of Ampieng, Formosa, without
providing suitable means for securing said animals while in transit, so as to avoid cruelty and
unnecessary suffering to said animals, contrary to the provisions of section 1 of Act No. 55, as
amended by section 1 of Act No. 275. The trial court found the following facts, all of which are fully
sustained by the evidence:
That the defendant, H. N. Bull, as captain and master of the Norwegian steamer known as
the Standard, for a period of six months or thereabouts prior to the 2d day of December,
1908, was engaged in the transportation of cattle and carabaos from Chines and Japanese
ports to and into the city of Manila, Philippine Islands.
That on the 2d day of December, 1908, the defendant, as such master and captain as
aforesaid, brought into the city of Manila, aboard said ship, a large number of cattle, which
ship was anchored, under the directions of the said defendant, behind the breakwaters in
front of the city of Manila, in Manila Bay, and within the jurisdiction of this court; and that
fifteen of said cattle then and there had broken legs and three others of said cattle were
dead, having broken legs; and also that said cattle were transported and carried upon said
ship as aforesaid by the defendant, upon the deck and in the hold of said ship, without
suitable precaution and care for the transportation of said animals, and to avoid danger and
risk to their lives and security; and further that said cattle were so transported abroad said
ship by the defendant and brought into the said bay, and into the city of Manila, without any

provisions being made whatever upon said decks of said ship and in the hold thereof to
maintain said cattle in a suitable condition and position for such transportation.
That a suitable and practicable manner in which to transport cattle abroad steamship coming
into Manila Bay and unloading in the city of Manila is by way of individual stalls for such
cattle, providing partitions between the cattle and supports at the front sides, and rear
thereof, and cross-cleats upon the floor on which they stand and are transported, of that in
case of storms, which are common in this community at sea, such cattle may be able to
stand without slipping and pitching and falling, individually or collectively, and to avoid the
production of panics and hazard to the animals on account or cattle were transported in this
case. Captain Summerville of the steamship Taming, a very intelligent and experienced
seaman, has testified, as a witness in behalf of the Government, and stated positively that
since the introduction in the ships with which he is acquainted of the stall system for the
transportation of animals and cattle he has suffered no loss whatever during the last year.
The defendant has testified, as a witness in his own behalf, that according to his experience
the system of carrying cattle loose upon the decks and in the hold is preferable and more
secure to the life and comfort of the animals, but this theory of the case is not maintainable,
either by the proofs or common reason. It can not be urged with logic that, for instance, three
hundred cattle supports for the feet and without stalls or any other protection for them
individually can safely and suitably carried in times of storm upon the decks and in the holds
of ships; such a theory is against the law of nature. One animal falling or pitching, if he is
untied or unprotected, might produce a serious panic and the wounding of half the animals
upon the ship if transported in the manner found in this case.
The defendant was found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of two hundred and fifty pesos, with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. The sentence and judgment is
affirmed. So ordered.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-18924

October 19, 1922

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
WONG CHENG (alias WONG CHUN), defendant-appellee.
Attorney-General Villa-Real for appellant.
Eduardo Gutierrez Repide for appellee.
ROMUALDEZ, J.:
In this appeal the Attorney-General urges the revocation of the order of the Court of First Instance of
Manila, sustaining the demurrer presented by the defendant to the information that initiated this case
and in which the appellee is accused of having illegally smoked opium, aboard the merchant

vessel Changsa of English nationality while said vessel was anchored in Manila Bay two and a half
miles from the shores of the city.
The demurrer alleged lack of jurisdiction on the part of the lower court, which so held and dismissed
the case.
The question that presents itself for our consideration is whether such ruling is erroneous or not; and
it will or will not be erroneous according as said court has or has no jurisdiction over said offense.
The point at issue is whether the courts of the Philippines have jurisdiction over crime, like the one
herein involved, committed aboard merchant vessels anchored in our jurisdiction waters.
1awph!l.net

There are two fundamental rules on this particular matter in connection with International Law; to wit,
the French rule, according to which crimes committed aboard a foreign merchant vessels should not
be prosecuted in the courts of the country within whose territorial jurisdiction they were committed,
unless their commission affects the peace and security of the territory; and the English rule, based
on the territorial principle and followed in the United States, according to which, crimes perpetrated
under such circumstances are in general triable in the courts of the country within territory they were
committed. Of this two rules, it is the last one that obtains in this jurisdiction, because at present the
theories and jurisprudence prevailing in the United States on this matter are authority in the
Philippines which is now a territory of the United States.
In the cases of The Schooner Exchange vs. M'Faddon and Others (7 Cranch [U. S.], 116), Chief
Justice Marshall said:
. . . When merchant vessels enter for the purposes of trade, it would be obviously
inconvenient and dangerous to society, and would subject the laws to continual infraction,
and the government to degradation, if such individuals or merchants did not owe temporary
and local allegiance, and were not amenable to the jurisdiction of the country. . . .
In United States vs. Bull (15 Phil., 7), this court held:
. . . No court of the Philippine Islands had jurisdiction over an offense or crime committed on
the high seas or within the territorial waters of any other country, but when she came within
three miles of a line drawn from the headlands, which embrace the entrance to Manila Bay,
she was within territorial waters, and a new set of principles became applicable. (Wheaton,
International Law [Dana ed.], p. 255, note 105; Bonfils, Le Droit Int., secs. 490 et seq.;
Latour, La Mer Ter., ch. 1.) The ship and her crew were then subject to the jurisdiction of the
territorial sovereign subject to such limitations as have been conceded by that sovereignty
through the proper political agency. . . .
It is true that in certain cases the comity of nations is observed, as in Mali and Wildenhus vs. Keeper
of the Common Jail (120 U.., 1), wherein it was said that:
. . . The principle which governs the whole matter is this: Disorder which disturb only the
peace of the ship or those on board are to be dealt with exclusively by the sovereignty of the
home of the ship, but those which disturb the public peace may be suppressed, and, if need
be, the offenders punished by the proper authorities of the local jurisdiction. It may not be
easy at all times to determine which of the two jurisdictions a particular act of disorder

belongs. Much will undoubtedly depend on the attending circumstances of the particular
case, but all must concede that felonious homicide is a subject for the local jurisdiction, and
that if the proper authorities are proceeding with the case in the regular way the consul has
no right to interfere to prevent it.
Hence in United States vs. Look Chaw (18 Phil., 573), this court held that:
Although the mere possession of an article of prohibited use in the Philippine Islands, aboard
a foreign vessel in transit in any local port, does not, as a general rule, constitute a crime
triable by the courts of the Islands, such vessels being considered as an extension of its own
nationality, the same rule does not apply when the article, the use of which is prohibited in
the Islands, is landed from the vessels upon Philippine soil; in such a case an open violation
of the laws of the land is committed with respect to which, as it is a violation of the penal law
in force at the place of the commission of the crime, no court other than that established in
the said place has jurisdiction of the offense, in the absence of an agreement under an
international treaty.
As to whether the United States has ever consented by treaty or otherwise to renouncing such
jurisdiction or a part thereof, we find nothing to this effect so far as England is concerned, to which
nation the ship where the crime in question was committed belongs. Besides, in his work "Treaties,
Conventions, etc.," volume 1, page 625, Malloy says the following:
There shall be between the territories of the United States of America, and all the territories
of His Britanic Majesty in Europe, a reciprocal liberty of commerce. The inhabitants of the
two countries, respectively, shall have liberty freely and securely to come with their ships and
cargoes to all such places, ports and rivers, in the territories aforesaid, to which other
foreigners are permitted to come, to enter into the same, and to remain and reside in any
parts of the said territories, respectively; also to hire and occupy houses and warehouses for
the purposes of their commerce; and, generally, the merchants and traders of each nation
respectively shall enjoy the most complete protection and security for their commerce, but
subject always to the laws and statutes of the two countries, respectively. (Art. 1, Commerce
and Navigation Convention.)
We have seen that the mere possession of opium aboard a foreign vessel in transit was held by this
court not triable by or courts, because it being the primary object of our Opium Law to protect the
inhabitants of the Philippines against the disastrous effects entailed by the use of this drug, its mere
possession in such a ship, without being used in our territory, does not being about in the said
territory those effects that our statute contemplates avoiding. Hence such a mere possession is not
considered a disturbance of the public order.
But to smoke opium within our territorial limits, even though aboard a foreign merchant ship, is
certainly a breach of the public order here established, because it causes such drug to produce its
pernicious effects within our territory. It seriously contravenes the purpose that our Legislature has in
mind in enacting the aforesaid repressive statute. Moreover, as the Attorney-General aptly observes:
. . . The idea of a person smoking opium securely on board a foreign vessel at anchor in the
port of Manila in open defiance of the local authorities, who are impotent to lay hands on
him, is simply subversive of public order. It requires no unusual stretch of the imagination to

conceive that a foreign ship may come into the port of Manila and allow or solicit Chinese
residents to smoke opium on board.
The order appealed from is revoked and the cause ordered remanded to the court of origin for
further proceedings in accordance with law, without special findings as to costs. So ordered.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-5887 December 16, 1910
THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
LOOK CHAW (alias LUK CHIU), defendant-appellant.
Thos. D. Aitken for appellant.
Attorney-General Villamor for appellee.

ARELLANO, C. J.:
The first complaint filed against the defendant, in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, stated that he
"carried, kept, possessed and had in his possession and control, 96 kilogrammes of opium," and that
"he had been surprised in the act of selling 1,000 pesos worth prepared opium."
The defense presented a demurrer based on two grounds, the second of which was the more than
one crime was charged in the complaint. The demurrer was sustained, as the court found that the
complaint contained two charges, one, for the unlawful possession of opium, and the other, for the
unlawful sale of opium, and, consequence of that ruling, it ordered that the fiscal should separated
one charge from the other and file a complaint for each violation; this, the fiscal did, and this cause
concerns only the unlawful possession of opium. It is registered as No. 375, in the Court of First
Instance of Cebu, and as No. 5887 on the general docket of this court.
The facts of the case are contained in the following finding of the trial court:
The evidence, it says, shows that between 11 and 12 o'clock a. m. on the present month
(stated as August 19, 1909), several persons, among them Messrs. Jacks and Milliron, chief
of the department of the port of Cebu and internal-revenue agent of Cebu, respectively, went
abroad the steamship Erroll to inspect and search its cargo, and found, first in a cabin near
the saloon, one sack (Exhibit A) and afterwards in the hold, another sack (Exhibit B). The
sack referred to as Exhibit A contained 49 cans of opium, and the other, Exhibit B, the larger
sack, also contained several cans of the same substance. The hold, in which the sack
mentioned in Exhibit B was found, was under the defendant's control, who moreover, freely
and of his own will and accord admitted that this sack, as well as the other referred to in

Exhibit B and found in the cabin, belonged to him. The said defendant also stated, freely and
voluntarily, that he had bought these sacks of opium, in Hongkong with the intention of
selling them as contraband in Mexico or Vera Cruz, and that, as his hold had already been
searched several times for opium, he ordered two other Chinamen to keep the sack. Exhibit
A.
It is to be taken into account that the two sacks of opium, designated as Exhibits A and B, properly
constitute thecorpus delicti. Moreover, another lot of four cans of opium, marked, as Exhibit C, was
the subject matter of investigation at the trial, and with respect to which the chief of the department
of the port of Cebu testified that they were found in the part of the ship where the firemen habitually
sleep, and that they were delivered to the first officer of the ship to be returned to the said firemen
after the vessel should have left the Philippines, because the firemen and crew of foreign vessels,
pursuant to the instructions he had from the Manila custom-house, were permitted to retain certain
amounts of opium, always provided it should not be taken shore.
And, finally, another can of opium, marked "Exhibit D," is also corpus delicti and important as
evidence in this cause. With regard to this the internal-revenue agent testified as follows:
itc-alf

FISCAL. What is it?


WITNESS. It is a can opium which was bought from the defendant by a secret-service agent
and taken to the office of the governor to prove that the accused had opium in his
possession to sell.
On motion by the defense, the court ruled that this answer might be stricken out "because it refers to
a sale." But, with respect to this answer, the chief of the department of customs had already given
this testimony, to wit:
FISCAL. Who asked you to search the vessel?
WITNESS. The internal-revenue agent came to my office and said that a party brought him a
sample of opium and that the same party knew that there was more opium on board the
steamer, and the agent asked that the vessel be searched.
The defense moved that this testimony be rejected, on the ground of its being hearsay evidence,
and the court only ordered that the part thereof "that there was more opium, on board the vessel" be
stricken out.
The defense, to abbreviate proceedings, admitted that the receptacles mentioned as Exhibits A, B,
and C, contained opium and were found on board the steamship Erroll, a vessel of English
nationality, and that it was true that the defendant stated that these sacks of opium were his and that
he had them in his possession.
According to the testimony of the internal-revenue agent, the defendant stated to him, in the
presence of the provincial fiscal, of a Chinese interpreter (who afterwards was not needed, because
the defendant spoke English), the warden of the jail, and four guards, that the opium seized in the
vessel had been bought by him in Hongkong, at three pesos for each round can and five pesos for
each one of the others, for the purpose of selling it, as contraband, in Mexico and Puerto de Vera
Cruz; that on the 15th the vessel arrived at Cebu, and on the same day he sold opium; that he had

tried to sell opium for P16 a can; that he had a contract to sell an amount of the value of about P500;
that the opium found in the room of the other two Chinamen prosecuted in another cause, was his,
and that he had left it in their stateroom to avoid its being found in his room, which had already been
searched many times; and that, according to the defendant, the contents of the large sack was 80
cans of opium, and of the small one, 49, and the total number, 129.
It was established that the steamship Erroll was of English nationality, that it came from Hongkong,
and that it was bound for Mexico, via the call ports of Manila and Cebu.
The defense moved for a dismissal of the case, on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to
try the same and the facts concerned therein did not constitute a crime. The fiscal, at the conclusion
of his argument, asked that the maximum penalty of the law be imposed upon the defendant, in view
of the considerable amount of opium seized. The court ruled that it did not lack jurisdiction, inasmuch
as the crime had been committed within its district, on the wharf of Cebu.
The court sentenced the defendant to five years' imprisonment, to pay a fine of P10,000, with
additional subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, though not to exceed one third of the
principal penalty, and to the payment of the costs. It further ordered the confiscation, in favor of the
Insular Government, of the exhibits presented in the case, and that, in the event of an appeal being
taken or a bond given, or when the sentenced should have been served, the defendant be not
released from custody, but turned over to the customs authorities for the purpose of the fulfillment of
the existing laws on immigration.
From this judgment, the defendant appealed to this court.

lawphi1.net

The appeal having been heard, together with the allegations made therein by the parties, it is found:
That, although the mere possession of a thing of prohibited use in these Islands, aboard a foreign
vessel in transit, in any of their ports, does not, as a general rule, constitute a crime triable by the
courts of this country, on account of such vessel being considered as an extension of its own
nationality, the same rule does not apply when the article, whose use is prohibited within the
Philippine Islands, in the present case a can of opium, is landed from the vessel upon Philippine soil,
thus committing an open violation of the laws of the land, with respect to which, as it is a violation of
the penal law in force at the place of the commission of the crime, only the court established in that
said place itself had competent jurisdiction, in the absence of an agreement under an international
treaty.
It is also found: That, even admitting that the quantity of the drug seized, the subject matter of the
present case, was considerable, it does not appear that, on such account, the two penalties fixed by
the law on the subject, should be imposed in the maximum degree.
Therefore, reducing the imprisonment and the fine imposed to six months and P1,000, respectively,
we affirm in all other respects the judgment appealed from, with the costs of this instance against the
appellant. So ordered.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 17958

February 27, 1922

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
LOL-LO and SARAW, defendants-appellants.
Thos. D. Aitken for appellants.
Acting Attorney-General Tuason for appellee.
MALCOLM, J.:
The days when pirates roamed the seas, when picturesque buccaneers like Captain Avery and
Captain Kidd and Bartholomew Roberts gripped the imagination, when grostesque brutes like
Blackbeard flourished, seem far away in the pages of history and romance. Nevertheless, the record
before us tells a tale of twentieth century piracy in the south seas, but stripped of all touches of
chivalry or of generosity, so as to present a horrible case of rapine and near murder.
On or about June 30, 1920, two boats left matuta, a Dutch possession, for Peta, another Dutch
possession. In one of the boats was one individual, a Dutch subject, and in the other boat eleven
men, women, and children, likewise subjects of Holland. After a number of days of navigation, at
about 7 o'clock in the evening, the second boat arrived between the Islands of Buang and Bukid in
the Dutch East Indies. There the boat was surrounded by six vintas manned by twenty-four Moros all
armed. The Moros first asked for food, but once on the Dutch boat, too for themselves all of the
cargo, attacked some of the men, and brutally violated two of the women by methods too horrible to
the described. All of the persons on the Dutch boat, with the exception of the two young women,
were again placed on it and holes were made in it, the idea that it would submerge, although as a
matter of fact, these people, after eleven days of hardship and privation, were succored violating
them, the Moros finally arrived at Maruro, a Dutch possession. Two of the Moro marauder were Lollo, who also raped one of the women, and Saraw. At Maruro the two women were able to escape.
Lol-lo and Saraw later returned to their home in South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Philippine Islands.
There they were arrested and were charged in the Court of First Instance of Sulu with the crime of
piracy. A demurrer was interposed by counsel de officio for the Moros, based on the grounds that the
offense charged was not within the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance, nor of any court of the
Philippine Islands, and that the facts did not constitute a public offense, under the laws in force in the
Philippine Islands. After the demurrer was overruled by the trial judge, trial was had, and a judgment
was rendered finding the two defendants guilty and sentencing each of them to life imprisonment
(cadena perpetua), to return together with Kinawalang and Maulanis, defendants in another case, to
the offended parties, the thirty-nine sacks of copras which had been robbed, or to indemnify them in
the amount of 924 rupees, and to pay a one-half part of the costs.
A very learned and exhaustive brief has been filed in this court by the attorney de officio. By a
process of elimination, however, certain questions can be quickly disposed of.
The proven facts are not disputed. All of the elements of the crime of piracy are present. Piracy is
robbery or forcible depredation on the high seas, without lawful authority and done animo furandi,
and in the spirit and intention of universal hostility.

It cannot be contended with any degree of force as was done in the lover court and as is again done
in this court, that the Court of First Instance was without jurisdiction of the case. Pirates are in
law hostes humani generis. Piracy is a crime not against any particular state but against all mankind.
It may be punished in the competent tribunal of any country where the offender may be found or into
which he may be carried. The jurisdiction of piracy unlike all other crimes has no territorial limits. As it
is against all so may it be punished by all. Nor does it matter that the crime was committed within the
jurisdictional 3-mile limit of a foreign state, "for those limits, though neutral to war, are not neutral to
crimes." (U.S. vs. Furlong [1820], 5 Wheat., 184.)
The most serious question which is squarely presented to this court for decision for the first time is
whether or not the provisions of the Penal Code dealing with the crime of piracy are still in force.
Article 153 to 156 of the Penal Code reads as follows:
ART. 153. The crime of piracy committed against Spaniards, or the subjects of another
nation not at war with Spain, shall be punished with a penalty ranging from cadena
temporal to cadena perpetua.
If the crime be committed against nonbelligerent subjects of another nation at war with
Spain, it shall be punished with the penalty of presidio mayor.
ART. 154. Those who commit the crimes referred to in the first paragraph of the next
preceding article shall suffer the penalty of cadena perpetua or death, and those who commit
the crimes referred to in the second paragraph of the same article, from cadena
temporal to cadena perpetua:
1. Whenever they have seized some vessel by boarding or firing upon the same.
2. Whenever the crime is accompanied by murder, homicide, or by any of the
physical injuries specified in articles four hundred and fourteen and four hundred and
fifteen and in paragraphs one and two of article four hundred and sixteen.
3. Whenever it is accompanied by any of the offenses against chastity specified in
Chapter II, Title IX, of this book.
4. Whenever the pirates have abandoned any persons without means of saving
themselves.
5. In every case, the captain or skipper of the pirates.
ART. 155. With respect to the provisions of this title, as well as all others of this code, when
Spain is mentioned it shall be understood as including any part of the national territory.
ART. 156. For the purpose of applying the provisions of this code, every person, who,
according to the Constitution of the Monarchy, has the status of a Spaniard shall be
considered as such.
The general rules of public law recognized and acted on by the United States relating to the effect of
a transfer of territory from another State to the United States are well-known. The political law of the

former sovereignty is necessarily changed. The municipal law in so far as it is consistent with the
Constitution, the laws of the United States, or the characteristics and institutions of the government,
remains in force. As a corollary to the main rules, laws subsisting at the time of transfer, designed to
secure good order and peace in the community, which are strictly of a municipal character, continue
until by direct action of the new government they are altered or repealed. (Chicago, Rock Islands,
etc., R. Co. vs. McGlinn [1885], 114 U.S., 542.)
These principles of the public law were given specific application to the Philippines by the
Instructions of President McKinley of May 19, 1898, to General Wesley Meritt, the Commanding
General of the Army of Occupation in the Philippines, when he said:
Though the powers of the military occupant are absolute and supreme, and immediately
operate upon the political condition of the inhabitants, the municipal laws of the conquered
territory, such as affect private rights of person and property, and provide for the punishment
of crime, are considered as continuing in force, so far as they are compatible with the new
order of things, until they are suspended or superseded by the occupying belligerent; and
practice they are not usually abrogated, but are allowed to remain in force, and to be
administered by the ordinary tribunals, substantially as they were before the occupations.
This enlightened practice is so far as possible, to be adhered to on the present occasion.
(Official Gazette, Preliminary Number, Jan. 1, 1903, p. 1. See also General Merritt
Proclamation of August 14, 1898.)
It cannot admit of doubt that the articles of the Spanish Penal Code dealing with piracy were meant
to include the Philippine Islands. Article 156 of the Penal Code in relation to article 1 of the
Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, would also make the provisions of the Code applicable not
only to Spaniards but to Filipinos.
The opinion of Grotius was that piracy by the law of nations is the same thing as piracy by the civil
law, and he has never been disputed. The specific provisions of the Penal Code are similar in tenor
to statutory provisions elsewhere and to the concepts of the public law. This must necessarily be so,
considering that the Penal Code finds its inspiration in this respect in the Novelas, the Partidas, and
the Novisima Recopilacion.
The Constitution of the United States declares that the Congress shall have the power to define and
punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.
(U.S. Const. Art. I, sec. 8, cl. 10.) The Congress, in putting on the statute books the necessary
ancillary legislation, provided that whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined
by the law of nations, and is afterwards brought into or found in the United States, shall be
imprisoned for life. (U.S. Crim. Code, sec. 290; penalty formerly death: U.S. Rev. Stat., sec. 5368.)
The framers of the Constitution and the members of Congress were content to let a definition of
piracy rest on its universal conception under the law of nations.
It is evident that the provisions of the Penal Code now in force in the Philippines relating to piracy
are not inconsistent with the corresponding provisions in force in the United States.
By the Treaty of Paris, Spain ceded the Philippine Islands to the United States. A logical construction
of articles of the Penal Code, like the articles dealing with the crime of piracy, would be that wherever
"Spain" is mentioned, it should be substituted by the words "United States" and wherever
"Spaniards" are mentioned, the word should be substituted by the expression "citizens of the United

States and citizens of the Philippine Islands." somewhat similar reasoning led this court in the case
of United States vs. Smith ([1919], 39 Phil., 533) to give to the word "authority" as found in the Penal
Code a limited meaning, which would no longer comprehend all religious, military, and civil officers,
but only public officers in the Government of the Philippine Islands.
Under the construction above indicated, article 153 of the Penal Code would read as follows:
The crime of piracy committed against citizens of the United States and citizens of the
Philippine Islands, or the subjects of another nation not at war with the United States, shall
be punished with a penalty ranging from cadena temporal to cadena perpetua.
If the crime be committed against nonbelligerent subjects of another nation at war with the
United States, it shall be punished with the penalty of presidio mayor.
We hold those provisions of the Penal code dealing with the crime of piracy, notably articles 153 and
154, to be still in force in the Philippines.
The crime falls under the first paragraph of article 153 of the Penal Code in relation to article 154.
There are present at least two of the circumstances named in the last cited article as authorizing
either cadena perpetua or death. The crime of piracy was accompanied by (1) an offense against
chastity and (2) the abandonment of persons without apparent means of saving themselves. It is,
therefore, only necessary for us to determine as to whether the penalty of cadena perpetua or death
should be imposed. In this connection, the trial court, finding present the one aggravating
circumstance of nocturnity, and compensating the same by the one mitigating circumstance of lack
of instruction provided by article 11, as amended, of the Penal Code, sentenced the accused to life
imprisonment. At least three aggravating circumstances, that the wrong done in the commission of
the crime was deliberately augmented by causing other wrongs not necessary for its commission,
that advantage was taken of superior strength, and that means were employed which added
ignominy to the natural effects of the act, must also be taken into consideration in fixing the penalty.
Considering, therefore, the number and importance of the qualifying and aggravating circumstances
here present, which cannot be offset by the sole mitigating circumstance of lack of instruction, and
the horrible nature of the crime committed, it becomes our duty to impose capital punishment.
The vote upon the sentence is unanimous with regard to the propriety of the imposition of the death
penalty upon the defendant and appellant Lo-lo (the accused who raped on of the women), but is not
unanimous with regard to the court, Mr. Justice Romualdez, registers his nonconformity. In
accordance with provisions of Act No. 2726, it results, therefore, that the judgment of the trial court
as to the defendant and appellant Saraw is affirmed, and is reversed as to the defendant and
appellant Lol-lo, who is found guilty of the crime of piracy and is sentenced therefor to be hung until
dead, at such time and place as shall be fixed by the judge of first instance of the Twenty-sixth
Judicial District. The two appellants together with Kinawalang and Maulanis, defendants in another
case, shall indemnify jointly and severally the offended parties in the equivalent of 924 rupees, and
shall pay a one-half part of the costs of both instances. So ordered.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. L-5272

March 19, 1910

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
AH CHONG, defendant-appellant.
Gibb & Gale, for appellant.
Attorney-General Villamor, for appellee.
CARSON, J.:
The evidence as to many of the essential and vital facts in this case is limited to the testimony of the
accused himself, because from the very nature of these facts and from the circumstances
surrounding the incident upon which these proceedings rest, no other evidence as to these facts was
available either to the prosecution or to the defense. We think, however, that, giving the accused the
benefit of the doubt as to the weight of the evidence touching those details of the incident as to
which there can be said to be any doubt, the following statement of the material facts disclose by the
record may be taken to be substantially correct:
The defendant, Ah Chong, was employed as a cook at "Officers' quarters, No. 27," Fort Mc Kinley,
Rizal Province, and at the same place Pascual Gualberto, deceased, was employed as a house boy
or muchacho. "Officers' quarters No. 27" as a detached house situates some 40 meters from the
nearest building, and in August, 19087, was occupied solely as an officers' mess or club. No one
slept in the house except the two servants, who jointly occupied a small room toward the rear of the
building, the door of which opened upon a narrow porch running along the side of the building, by
which communication was had with the other part of the house. This porch was covered by a heavy
growth of vines for its entire length and height. The door of the room was not furnished with a
permanent bolt or lock, and occupants, as a measure of security, had attached a small hook or catch
on the inside of the door, and were in the habit of reinforcing this somewhat insecure means of
fastening the door by placing against it a chair. In the room there was but one small window, which,
like the door, opened on the porch. Aside from the door and window, there were no other openings of
any kind in the room.
On the night of August 14, 1908, at about 10 o'clock, the defendant, who had received for the night,
was suddenly awakened by some trying to force open the door of the room. He sat up in bed and
called out twice, "Who is there?" He heard no answer and was convinced by the noise at the door
that it was being pushed open by someone bent upon forcing his way into the room. Due to the
heavy growth of vines along the front of the porch, the room was very dark, and the defendant,
fearing that the intruder was a robber or a thief, leaped to his feet and called out. "If you enter the
room, I will kill you." At that moment he was struck just above the knee by the edge of the chair
which had been placed against the door. In the darkness and confusion the defendant thought that
the blow had been inflicted by the person who had forced the door open, whom he supposed to be a
burglar, though in the light of after events, it is probable that the chair was merely thrown back into
the room by the sudden opening of the door against which it rested. Seizing a common kitchen knife
which he kept under his pillow, the defendant struck out wildly at the intruder who, it afterwards
turned out, was his roommate, Pascual. Pascual ran out upon the porch and fell down on the steps
in a desperately wounded condition, followed by the defendant, who immediately recognized him in
the moonlight. Seeing that Pascual was wounded, he called to his employers who slept in the next
house, No. 28, and ran back to his room to secure bandages to bind up Pascual's wounds.

There had been several robberies in Fort McKinley not long prior to the date of the incident just
described, one of which took place in a house in which the defendant was employed as cook; and as
defendant alleges, it was because of these repeated robberies he kept a knife under his pillow for his
personal protection.
The deceased and the accused, who roomed together and who appear to have on friendly and
amicable terms prior to the fatal incident, had an understanding that when either returned at night,
he should knock at the door and acquiant his companion with his identity. Pascual had left the house
early in the evening and gone for a walk with his friends, Celestino Quiambao and Mariano Ibaez,
servants employed at officers' quarters No. 28, the nearest house to the mess hall. The three
returned from their walk at about 10 o'clock, and Celestino and Mariano stopped at their room at No.
28, Pascual going on to his room at No. 27. A few moments after the party separated, Celestino and
Mariano heard cries for assistance and upon returning to No. 27 found Pascual sitting on the back
steps fatally wounded in the stomach, whereupon one of them ran back to No. 28 and called
Liuetenants Jacobs and Healy, who immediately went to the aid of the wounded man.
The defendant then and there admitted that he had stabbed his roommate, but said that he did it
under the impression that Pascual was "a ladron" because he forced open the door of their sleeping
room, despite defendant's warnings.
No reasonable explanation of the remarkable conduct on the part of Pascuals suggests itself, unless
it be that the boy in a spirit of mischief was playing a trick on his Chinese roommate, and sought to
frightened him by forcing his way into the room, refusing to give his name or say who he was, in
order to make Ah Chong believe that he was being attacked by a robber.
Defendant was placed under arrest forthwith, and Pascual was conveyed to the military hospital,
where he died from the effects of the wound on the following day.
The defendant was charged with the crime of assassination, tried, and found guilty by the trial court
of simple homicide, with extenuating circumstances, and sentenced to six years and one
day presidio mayor, the minimum penalty prescribed by law.
At the trial in the court below the defendant admitted that he killed his roommate, Pascual Gualberto,
but insisted that he struck the fatal blow without any intent to do a wrongful act, in the exercise of his
lawful right of self-defense.
Article 8 of the Penal Code provides that
The following are not delinquent and are therefore exempt from criminal liability:
xxx

xxx

xxx

4 He who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided there are the following attendant
circumstances:
(1) Illegal aggression.
(2) Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it.

(3) Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.
Under these provisions we think that there can be no doubt that defendant would be entitle to
complete exception from criminal liability for the death of the victim of his fatal blow, if the intruder
who forced open the door of his room had been in fact a dangerous thief or "ladron," as the
defendant believed him to be. No one, under such circumstances, would doubt the right of the
defendant to resist and repel such an intrusion, and the thief having forced open the door
notwithstanding defendant's thrice-repeated warning to desist, and his threat that he would kill the
intruder if he persisted in his attempt, it will not be questioned that in the darkness of the night, in a
small room, with no means of escape, with the thief advancing upon him despite his warnings
defendant would have been wholly justified in using any available weapon to defend himself from
such an assault, and in striking promptly, without waiting for the thief to discover his whereabouts
and deliver the first blow.
But the evidence clearly discloses that the intruder was not a thief or a "ladron." That neither the
defendant nor his property nor any of the property under his charge was in real danger at the time
when he struck the fatal blow. That there was no such "unlawful aggression" on the part of a thief or
"ladron" as defendant believed he was repelling and resisting, and that there was no real "necessity"
for the use of the knife to defend his person or his property or the property under his charge.
The question then squarely presents it self, whether in this jurisdiction one can be held criminally
responsible who, by reason of a mistake as to the facts, does an act for which he would be exempt
from criminal liability if the facts were as he supposed them to be, but which would constitute the
crime of homicide or assassination if the actor had known the true state of the facts at the time when
he committed the act. To this question we think there can be but one answer, and we hold that under
such circumstances there is no criminal liability, provided always that the alleged ignorance or
mistake or fact was not due to negligence or bad faith.
In broader terms, ignorance or mistake of fact, if such ignorance or mistake of fact is sufficient to
negative a particular intent which under the law is a necessary ingredient of the offense charged
(e.g., in larcerny, animus furendi; in murder, malice; in crimes intent) "cancels the presumption of
intent," and works an acquittal; except in those cases where the circumstances demand a conviction
under the penal provisions touching criminal negligence; and in cases where, under the provisions of
article 1 of the Penal Code one voluntarily committing a crime or misdeamor incurs criminal liability
for any wrongful act committed by him, even though it be different from that which he intended to
commit. (Wharton's Criminal Law, sec. 87 and cases cited; McClain's Crim. Law, sec. 133 and cases
cited; Pettit vs. S., 28 Tex. Ap., 240; Commonwealth vs. Power, 7 Met., 596; Yates vs. People, 32
N.Y., 509; Isham vs. State, 38 Ala., 213; Commonwealth vs. Rogers, 7 Met., 500.)
The general proposition thus stated hardly admits of discussion, and the only question worthy of
consideration is whether malice or criminal intent is an essential element or ingredient of the crimes
of homicide and assassination as defined and penalized in the Penal Code. It has been said that
since the definitions there given of these as well as most other crimes and offense therein defined,
do not specifically and expressly declare that the acts constituting the crime or offense must be
committed with malice or with criminal intent in order that the actor may be held criminally liable, the
commission of the acts set out in the various definitions subjects the actor to the penalties described
therein, unless it appears that he is exempted from liability under one or other of the express
provisions of article 8 of the code, which treats of exemption. But while it is true that contrary to the
general rule of legislative enactment in the United States, the definitions of crimes and offenses as

set out in the Penal Code rarely contain provisions expressly declaring that malice or criminal intent
is an essential ingredient of the crime, nevertheless, the general provisions of article 1 of the code
clearly indicate that malice, or criminal intent in some form, is an essential requisite of all crimes and
offense therein defined, in the absence of express provisions modifying the general rule, such as are
those touching liability resulting from acts negligently or imprudently committed, and acts done by
one voluntarily committing a crime or misdemeanor, where the act committed is different from that
which he intended to commit. And it is to be observed that even these exceptions are more apparent
than real, for "There is little distinction, except in degree, between a will to do a wrongful thing and
indifference whether it is done or not. Therefore carelessness is criminal, and within limits supplies
the place of the affirmative criminal intent" (Bishop's New Criminal Law, vol. 1, s. 313); and, again,
"There is so little difference between a disposition to do a great harm and a disposition to do harm
that one of them may very well be looked upon as the measure of the other. Since, therefore, the
guilt of a crime consists in the disposition to do harm, which the criminal shows by committing it, and
since this disposition is greater or less in proportion to the harm which is done by the crime, the
consequence is that the guilt of the crime follows the same proportion; it is greater or less according
as the crime in its own nature does greater or less harm" (Ruth. Ints. C. 18, p. 11); or, as it has been
otherwise stated, the thing done, having proceeded from a corrupt mid, is to be viewed the same
whether the corruption was of one particular form or another.
Article 1 of the Penal Code is as follows:
Crimes or misdemeanors are voluntary acts and ommissions punished by law.
Acts and omissions punished by law are always presumed to be voluntarily unless the
contrary shall appear.
An person voluntarily committing a crime or misdemeanor shall incur criminal liability, even
though the wrongful act committed be different from that which he had intended to commit.
The celebrated Spanish jurist Pacheco, discussing the meaning of the word "voluntary" as used in
this article, say that a voluntary act is a free, intelligent, and intentional act, and roundly asserts that
without intention (intention to do wrong or criminal intention) there can be no crime; and that the
word "voluntary" implies and includes the words "con malicia," which were expressly set out in the
definition of the word "crime" in the code of 1822, but omitted from the code of 1870, because, as
Pacheco insists, their use in the former code was redundant, being implied and included in the word
"voluntary." (Pacheco, Codigo Penal, vol. 1, p. 74.)
Viada, while insisting that the absence of intention to commit the crime can only be said to exempt
from criminal responsibility when the act which was actually intended to be done was in itself a lawful
one, and in the absence of negligence or imprudence, nevertheless admits and recognizes in his
discussion of the provisions of this article of the code that in general without intention there can be
no crime. (Viada, vol. 1, p. 16.) And, as we have shown above, the exceptions insisted upon by
Viada are more apparent than real.
Silvela, in discussing the doctrine herein laid down, says:
In fact, it is sufficient to remember the first article, which declared that where there is no
intention there is no crime . . . in order to affirm, without fear of mistake, that under our code

there can be no crime if there is no act, an act which must fall within the sphere of ethics if
there is no moral injury. (Vol. 2, the Criminal Law, folio 169.)
And to the same effect are various decisions of the supreme court of Spain, as, for example in its
sentence of May 31, 1882, in which it made use of the following language:
It is necessary that this act, in order to constitute a crime, involve all the malice which is
supposed from the operation of the will and an intent to cause the injury which may be the
object of the crime.
And again in its sentence of March 16, 1892, wherein it held that "considering that, whatever may be
the civil effects of the inscription of his three sons, made by the appellant in the civil registry and in
the parochial church, there can be no crime because of the lack of the necessary element or criminal
intention, which characterizes every action or ommission punished by law; nor is he guilty of criminal
negligence."
And to the same effect in its sentence of December 30, 1896, it made use of the following language:
. . . Considering that the moral element of the crime, that is, intent or malice or their absence
in the commission of an act defined and punished by law as criminal, is not a necessary
question of fact submitted to the exclusive judgment and decision of the trial court.
That the author of the Penal Code deemed criminal intent or malice to be an essential element of the
various crimes and misdemeanors therein defined becomes clear also from an examination of the
provisions of article 568, which are as follows:
He who shall execute through reckless negligence an act that, if done with malice, would
constitute a grave crime, shall be punished with the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum
degree, to prision correccional in its minimum degrees if it shall constitute a less grave crime.
He who in violation of the regulations shall commit a crime through simple imprudence or
negligence shall incur the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum degrees.
In the application of these penalties the courts shall proceed according to their discretion,
without being subject to the rules prescribed in article 81.
The provisions of this article shall not be applicable if the penalty prescribed for the crime is
equal to or less than those contained in the first paragraph thereof, in which case the courts
shall apply the next one thereto in the degree which they may consider proper.
The word "malice" in this article is manifestly substantially equivalent to the words "criminal intent,"
and the direct inference from its provisions is that the commission of the acts contemplated therein,
in the absence of malice (criminal intent), negligence, and imprudence, does not impose any criminal
liability on the actor.
The word "voluntary" as used in article 1 of the Penal Code would seem to approximate in meaning
the word "willful" as used in English and American statute to designate a form of criminal intent. It
has been said that while the word "willful" sometimes means little more than intentionally or

designedly, yet it is more frequently understood to extent a little further and approximate the idea of
the milder kind of legal malice; that is, it signifies an evil intent without justifiable excuse. In one case
it was said to mean, as employed in a statute in contemplation, "wantonly" or "causelessly;" in
another, "without reasonable grounds to believe the thing lawful." And Shaw, C. J., once said that
ordinarily in a statute it means "not merely `voluntarily' but with a bad purpose; in other words,
corruptly." In English and the American statutes defining crimes "malice," "malicious," "maliciously,"
and "malice aforethought" are words indicating intent, more purely technical than "willful" or willfully,"
but "the difference between them is not great;" the word "malice" not often being understood to
require general malevolence toward a particular individual, and signifying rather the intent from our
legal justification. (Bishop's New Criminal Law, vol. 1, secs. 428 and 429, and cases cited.)
But even in the absence of express words in a statute, setting out a condition in the definition of a
crime that it be committed "voluntarily," willfully," "maliciously" "with malice aforethought," or in one of
the various modes generally construed to imply a criminal intent, we think that reasoning from
general principles it will always be found that with the rare exceptions hereinafter mentioned, to
constitute a crime evil intent must combine with an act. Mr. Bishop, who supports his position with
numerous citations from the decided cases, thus forcely present this doctrine:
In no one thing does criminal jurisprudence differ more from civil than in the rule as to the
intent. In controversies between private parties the quo animo with which a thing was done is
sometimes important, not always; but crime proceeds only from a criminal mind. So that
There can be no crime, large or small, without an evil mind. In other words, punishment is
the sentence of wickedness, without which it can not be. And neither in philosophical
speculation nor in religious or mortal sentiment would any people in any age allow that a
man should be deemed guilty unless his mind was so. It is therefore a principle of our legal
system, as probably it is of every other, that the essence of an offense is the wrongful intent,
without which it can not exists. We find this doctrine confirmed by
Legal maxims. The ancient wisdom of the law, equally with the modern, is distinct on this
subject. It consequently has supplied to us such maxims as Actus non facit reum nisi mens
sit rea, "the act itself does not make man guilty unless his intention were so;" Actus me incito
factus non est meus actus, "an act done by me against my will is not my act;" and others of
the like sort. In this, as just said, criminal jurisprudence differs from civil. So also
Moral science and moral sentiment teach the same thing. "By reference to the intention, we
inculpate or exculpate others or ourselves without any respect to the happiness or misery
actually produced. Let the result of an action be what it may, we hold a man guilty simply on
the ground of intention; or, on the dame ground, we hold him innocent." The calm judgment
of mankind keeps this doctrine among its jewels. In times of excitement, when vengeance
takes the place of justice, every guard around the innocent is cast down. But with the return
of reason comes the public voice that where the mind is pure, he who differs in act from his
neighbors does not offend. And
In the spontaneous judgment which springs from the nature given by God to man, no one
deems another to deserve punishment for what he did from an upright mind, destitute of
every form of evil. And whenever a person is made to suffer a punishment which the
community deems not his due, so far from its placing an evil mark upon him, it elevates him
to the seat of the martyr. Even infancy itself spontaneously pleads the want of bad intent in

justification of what has the appearance of wrong, with the utmost confidence that the plea, if
its truth is credited, will be accepted as good. Now these facts are only the voice of nature
uttering one of her immutable truths. It is, then, the doctrine of the law, superior to all other
doctrines, because first in nature from which the law itself proceeds, that no man is to be
punished as a criminal unless his intent is wrong. (Bishop's New Criminal Law, vol. 1, secs.
286 to 290.)
Compelled by necessity, "the great master of all things," an apparent departure from this doctrine of
abstract justice result from the adoption of the arbitrary rule that Ignorantia juris non
excusat ("Ignorance of the law excuses no man"), without which justice could not be administered in
our tribunals; and compelled also by the same doctrine of necessity, the courts have recognized the
power of the legislature to forbid, in a limited class of cases, the doing of certain acts, and to make
their commission criminal without regard to the intent of the doer. Without discussing these
exceptional cases at length, it is sufficient here to say that the courts have always held that unless
the intention of the lawmaker to make the commission of certain acts criminal without regard to the
intent of the doer is clear and beyond question the statute will not be so construed (cases cited in
Cyc., vol. 12, p. 158, notes 76 and 77); and the rule that ignorance of the law excuses no man has
been said not to be a real departure from the law's fundamental principle that crime exists only
where the mind is at fault, because "the evil purpose need not be to break the law, and if suffices if it
is simply to do the thing which the law in fact forbids." (Bishop's New Criminal Law, sec. 300, and
cases cited.)
But, however this may be, there is no technical rule, and no pressing necessity therefore, requiring
mistake in fact to be dealt with otherwise that in strict accord with the principles of abstract justice.
On the contrary, the maxim here is Ignorantia facti excusat ("Ignorance or mistake in point of fact is,
in all cases of supposed offense, a sufficient excuse"). (Brown's Leg. Max., 2d ed., 190.)
Since evil intent is in general an inseparable element in every crime, any such mistake of fact as
shows the act committed to have proceeded from no sort of evil in the mind necessarily relieves the
actor from criminal liability provided always there is no fault or negligence on his part; and as laid
down by Baron Parke, "The guilt of the accused must depend on the circumstances as they appear
to him." (Reg. vs. Thurborn, 1 Den. C., 387; P. vs.Anderson, 44 Cal.., 65; P. vs. Lamb, 54 Barb., 342;
Yates vs. P., 32 N. Y., 509; Patterson vs. P., 46 Barb., 625; Reg. vs. Cohen, 8 Cox C. C., 41;
P. vs. Miles, 55 Cal., 207, 209; Nalley vs. S., 28 Tex. Ap., 387.) That is to say, the question as to
whether he honestly, in good faith, and without fault or negligence fell into the mistake is to be
determined by the circumstances as they appeared to him at the time when the mistake was made,
and the effect which the surrounding circumstances might reasonably be expected to have on his
mind, in forming the intent, criminal or other wise, upon which he acted.
If, in language not uncommon in the cases, one has reasonable cause to believe the
existence of facts which will justify a killing or, in terms more nicely in accord with the
principles on which the rule is founded, if without fault or carelessness he does believe them
he is legally guiltless of the homicide; though he mistook the facts, and so the life of an
innocent person is unfortunately extinguished. In other words, and with reference to the right
of self-defense and the not quite harmonious authorities, it is the doctrine of reason and
sufficiently sustained in adjudication, that notwithstanding some decisions apparently
adverse, whenever a man undertakes self-defense, he is justified in acting on the facts as
they appear to him. If, without fault or carelessness, he is misled concerning them, and
defends himself correctly according to what he thus supposes the facts to be the law will not

punish him though they are in truth otherwise, and he was really no occassion for the
extreme measures. (Bishop's New Criminal Law, sec. 305, and large array of cases there
cited.)
The common illustration in the American and English textbooks of the application of this rule is the
case where a man, masked and disguised as a footpad, at night and on a lonely road, "holds up" his
friends in a spirit of mischief, and with leveled pistol demands his money or his life, but is killed by
his friend under the mistaken belief that the attack is a real one, that the pistol leveled at his head is
loaded, and that his life and property are in imminent danger at the hands of the aggressor. No one
will doubt that if the facts were such as the slayer believed them to be he would be innocent of the
commission of any crime and wholly exempt from criminal liability, although if he knew the real state
of the facts when he took the life of his friend he would undoubtedly be guilty of the crime of
homicide or assassination. Under such circumstances, proof of his innocent mistake of the facts
overcomes the presumption of malice or criminal intent, and (since malice or criminal intent is a
necessary ingredient of the "act punished by law" in cases of homicide or assassination) overcomes
at the same time the presumption established in article 1 of the code, that the "act punished by law"
was committed "voluntarily."
Parson, C.J., in the Massachusetts court, once said:
If the party killing had reasonable grounds for believing that the person slain had a felonious
design against him, and under that supposition killed him, although it should afterwards
appear that there was no such design, it will not be murder, but it will be either manslaughter
or excusable homicide, according to the degree of caution used and the probable grounds of
such belief. (Charge to the grand jury in Selfridge's case, Whart, Hom., 417, 418, Lloyd's
report of the case, p.7.)
In this case, Parker, J., charging the petit jury, enforced the doctrine as follows:
A, in the peaceable pursuit of his affairs, sees B rushing rapidly toward him, with an
outstretched arms and a pistol in his hand, and using violent menaces against his life as he
advances. Having approached near enough in the same attitude, A, who has a club in his
hand, strikes B over the head before or at the instant the pistol is discharged; and of the
wound B dies. It turns out the pistol was loaded with powder only, and that the real design of
B was only to terrify A. Will any reasonable man say that A is more criminal that he would
have been if there had been a bullet in the pistol? Those who hold such doctrine must
require that a man so attacked must, before he strikes the assailant, stop and ascertain how
the pistol is loaded a doctrine which would entirely take away the essential right of selfdefense. And when it is considered that the jury who try the cause, and not the party killing,
are to judge of the reasonable grounds of his apprehension, no danger can be supposed to
flow from this principle. (Lloyd's Rep., p. 160.)
To the same effect are various decisions of the supreme court of Spain, cited by Viada, a few of
which are here set out in full because the facts are somewhat analogous to those in the case at bar.
QUESTION III. When it is shown that the accused was sitting at his hearth, at night, in
company only of his wife, without other light than reflected from the fire, and that the man
with his back to the door was attending to the fire, there suddenly entered a person whom he
did not see or know, who struck him one or two blows, producing a contusion on the

shoulder, because of which he turned, seized the person and took from his the stick with
which he had undoubtedly been struck, and gave the unknown person a blow, knocking him
to the floor, and afterwards striking him another blow on the head, leaving the unknown lying
on the floor, and left the house. It turned out the unknown person was his father-in-law, to
whom he rendered assistance as soon as he learned his identity, and who died in about six
days in consequence of cerebral congestion resulting from the blow. The accused, who
confessed the facts, had always sustained pleasant relations with his father-in-law, whom he
visited during his sickness, demonstrating great grief over the occurrence. Shall he be
considered free from criminal responsibility, as having acted in self-defense, with all the
circumstances related in paragraph 4, article 8, of the Penal Code? The criminal branch of
theAudiencia of Valladolid found that he was an illegal aggressor, without sufficient
provocation, and that there did not exists rational necessity for the employment of the force
used, and in accordance with articles 419 and 87 of the Penal Code condemned him to
twenty months of imprisonment, with accessory penalty and costs. Upon appeal by the
accused, he was acquitted by the supreme court, under the following sentence:
"Considering, from the facts found by the sentence to have been proven, that the accused
was surprised from behind, at night, in his house beside his wife who was nursing her child,
was attacked, struck, and beaten, without being able to distinguish with which they might
have executed their criminal intent, because of the there was no other than fire light in the
room, and considering that in such a situation and when the acts executed demonstrated
that they might endanger his existence, and possibly that of his wife and child, more
especially because his assailant was unknown, he should have defended himself, and in
doing so with the same stick with which he was attacked, he did not exceed the limits of selfdefense, nor did he use means which were not rationally necessary, particularly because the
instrument with which he killed was the one which he took from his assailant, and was
capable of producing death, and in the darkness of the house and the consteration which
naturally resulted from such strong aggression, it was not given him to known or distinguish
whether there was one or more assailants, nor the arms which they might bear, not that
which they might accomplish, and considering that the lower court did not find from the
accepted facts that there existed rational necessity for the means employed, and that it did
not apply paragraph 4 of article 8 of the Penal Code, it erred, etc." (Sentence of supreme
court of Spain, February 28, 1876.) (Viada, Vol. I, p. 266.) .
QUESTION XIX. A person returning, at night, to his house, which was situated in a retired
part of the city, upon arriving at a point where there was no light, heard the voice of a man, at
a distance of some 8 paces, saying: "Face down, hand over you money!" because of which,
and almost at the same money, he fired two shots from his pistol, distinguishing immediately
the voice of one of his friends (who had before simulated a different voice) saying, "Oh! they
have killed me," and hastening to his assistance, finding the body lying upon the ground, he
cried, "Miguel, Miguel, speak, for God's sake, or I am ruined," realizing that he had been the
victim of a joke, and not receiving a reply, and observing that his friend was a corpse, he
retired from the place. Shall he be declared exempt in toto from responsibility as the author
of this homicide, as having acted in just self-defense under the circumstances defined in
paragraph 4, article 8, Penal Code? The criminal branch of the Audiencia of Malaga did not
so find, but only found in favor of the accused two of the requisites of said article, but not that
of the reasonableness of the means employed to repel the attack, and, therefore,
condemned the accused to eight years and one day of prison mayor, etc. The supreme court
acquitted the accused on his appeal from this sentence, holding that the accused was acting
under a justifiable and excusable mistake of fact as to the identity of the person calling to

him, and that under the circumstances, the darkness and remoteness, etc., the means
employed were rational and the shooting justifiable. (Sentence supreme court, March 17,
1885.) (Viada, Vol. I, p. 136.)
QUESTION VI. The owner of a mill, situated in a remote spot, is awakened, at night, by a
large stone thrown against his window at this, he puts his head out of the window and
inquires what is wanted, and is answered "the delivery of all of his money, otherwise his
house would be burned" because of which, and observing in an alley adjacent to the mill
four individuals, one of whom addressed him with blasphemy, he fired his pistol at one the
men, who, on the next morning was found dead on the same spot. Shall this man be
declared exempt from criminal responsibility as having acted in just self-defense with all of
the requisites of law? The criminal branch of the requisites of law? The criminal branch of
the Audiencia of Zaragoza finds that there existed in favor of the accused a majority of the
requisites to exempt him from criminal responsibility, but not that of reasonable necessity for
the means, employed, and condemned the accused to twelve months of prision
correctional for the homicide committed. Upon appeal, the supreme court acquitted the
condemned, finding that the accused, in firing at the malefactors, who attack his mill at night
in a remote spot by threatening robbery and incendiarism, was acting in just self-defense of
his person, property, and family. (Sentence of May 23, 1877). (I Viada, p. 128.)
A careful examination of the facts as disclosed in the case at bar convinces us that the defendant
Chinaman struck the fatal blow alleged in the information in the firm belief that the intruder who
forced open the door of his sleeping room was a thief, from whose assault he was in imminent peril,
both of his life and of his property and of the property committed to his charge; that in view of all the
circumstances, as they must have presented themselves to the defendant at the time, he acted in
good faith, without malice, or criminal intent, in the belief that he was doing no more than exercising
his legitimate right of self-defense; that had the facts been as he believed them to be he would have
been wholly exempt from criminal liability on account of his act; and that he can not be said to have
been guilty of negligence or recklessness or even carelessness in falling into his mistake as to the
facts, or in the means adopted by him to defend himself from the imminent danger which he believe
threatened his person and his property and the property under his charge.
The judgment of conviction and the sentence imposed by the trial court should be reversed, and the
defendant acquitted of the crime with which he is charged and his bail bond exonerated, with the
costs of both instance de oficio. So ordered.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-47722

July 27, 1943

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ANTONIO Z. OANIS and ALBERTO GALANTA, defendants-appellants.

Antonio Z. Oanis in his own behalf.


Maximo L. Valenzuela for appellant Galanta.
Acting Solicitor-General Ibaez and Assistant Attorney Torres for appellee.
MORAN, J.:
Charged with the crime of murder of one Serapio Tecson, the accused Antonio Z. Oanis and Alberto
Galanta, chief of police of Cabanatuan and corporal of the Philippine Constabulary, respectively,
were, after due trial, found guilty by the lower court of homicide through reckless imprudence and
were sentenced each to an indeterminate penalty of from one year and six months to two years and
two months of prison correccional and to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs of the deceased in
the amount of P1,000. Defendants appealed separately from this judgment.
In the afternoon of December 24, 1938. Captain Godofredo Monsod, Constabulary Provincial
Inspector at Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, received from Major Guido a telegram of the following tenor:
"Information received escaped convict Anselmo Balagtas with bailarina and Irene in Cabanatuan get
him dead or alive." Captain Monsod accordingly called for his first sergeant and asked that he be
given four men. Defendant corporal Alberto Galanta, and privates Nicomedes Oralo, Venancio Serna
and D. Fernandez, upon order of their sergeant, reported at the office of the Provincial Inspector
where they were shown a copy of the above-quoted telegram and a newspaper clipping containing a
picture of Balagtas. They were instructed to arrest Balagtas and, if overpowered, to follow the
instruction contained in the telegram. The same instruction was given to the chief of police Oanis
who was likewise called by the Provincial Inspector. When the chief of police was asked whether he
knew one Irene, a bailarina, he answered that he knew one of loose morals of the same name. Upon
request of the Provincial Inspector, the chief of police tried to locate some of his men to guide the
constabulary soldiers in ascertaining Balagtas' whereabouts, and failing to see anyone of them he
volunteered to go with the party. The Provincial Inspector divided the party into two groups with
defendants Oanis and Galanta, and private Fernandez taking the route to Rizal street leading to the
house where Irene was supposedly living. When this group arrived at Irene's house, Oanis
approached one Brigida Mallare, who was then stripping banana stalks, and asked her where Irene's
room was. Brigida indicated the place and upon further inquiry also said that Irene was sleeping with
her paramour. Brigida trembling, immediately returned to her own room which was very near that
occupied by Irene and her paramour. Defendants Oanis and Galanta then went to the room of Irene,
and an seeing a man sleeping with his back towards the door where they were, simultaneously or
successively fired at him with their .32 and .45 caliber revolvers. Awakened by the gunshots, Irene
saw her paramour already wounded, and looking at the door where the shots came, she saw the
defendants still firing at him. Shocked by the entire scene. Irene fainted; it turned out later that the
person shot and killed was not the notorious criminal Anselmo Balagtas but a peaceful and innocent
citizen named Serapio Tecson, Irene's paramour. The Provincial Inspector, informed of the killing,
repaired to the scene and when he asked as to who killed the deceased. Galanta, referring to
himself and to Oanis, answered: "We two, sir." The corpse was thereafter brought to the provincial
hospital and upon autopsy by Dr. Ricardo de Castro, multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by a .32 and
a .45 caliber revolvers were found on Tecson's body which caused his death.
These are the facts as found by the trial court and fully supported by the evidence, particularly by the
testimony of Irene Requinea. Appellants gave, however, a different version of the tragedy. According
to Appellant Galanta, when he and chief of police Oanis arrived at the house, the latter asked Brigida
where Irene's room was. Brigida indicated the place, and upon further inquiry as to the whereabouts
of Anselmo Balagtas, she said that he too was sleeping in the same room. Oanis went to the room
thus indicated and upon opening the curtain covering the door, he said: "If you are Balagtas, stand
up." Tecson, the supposed Balagtas, and Irene woke up and as the former was about to sit up in

bed. Oanis fired at him. Wounded, Tecson leaned towards the door, and Oanis receded and
shouted: "That is Balagtas." Galanta then fired at Tecson.
On the other hand, Oanis testified that after he had opened the curtain covering the door and after
having said, "if you are Balagtas stand up." Galanta at once fired at Tecson, the supposed Balagtas,
while the latter was still lying on bed, and continued firing until he had exhausted his bullets: that it
was only thereafter that he, Oanis, entered the door and upon seeing the supposed Balagtas, who
was then apparently watching and picking up something from the floor, he fired at him.
The trial court refused to believe the appellants. Their testimonies are certainly incredible not only
because they are vitiated by a natural urge to exculpate themselves of the crime, but also because
they are materially contradictory. Oasis averred that be fired at Tecson when the latter was
apparently watching somebody in an attitudes of picking up something from the floor; on the other
hand, Galanta testified that Oasis shot Tecson while the latter was about to sit up in bed immediately
after he was awakened by a noise. Galanta testified that he fired at Tecson, the supposed Balagtas,
when the latter was rushing at him. But Oanis assured that when Galanta shot Tecson, the latter was
still lying on bed. It is apparent from these contradictions that when each of the appellants tries to
exculpate himself of the crime charged, he is at once belied by the other; but their mutual
incriminating averments dovetail with and corroborate substantially, the testimony of Irene Requinea.
It should be recalled that, according to Requinea, Tecson was still sleeping in bed when he was shot
to death by appellants. And this, to a certain extent, is confirmed by both appellants themselves in
their mutual recriminations. According, to Galanta, Oanis shot Tecson when the latter was still in bed
about to sit up just after he was awakened by a noise. And Oanis assured that when Galanta shot
Tecson, the latter was still lying in bed. Thus corroborated, and considering that the trial court had
the opportunity to observe her demeanor on the stand, we believe and so hold that no error was
committed in accepting her testimony and in rejecting the exculpatory pretensions of the two
appellants. Furthermore, a careful examination of Irene's testimony will show not only that her
version of the tragedy is not concocted but that it contains all indicia of veracity. In her crossexamination, even misleading questions had been put which were unsuccessful, the witness having
stuck to the truth in every detail of the occurrence. Under these circumstances, we do not feel
ourselves justified in disturbing the findings of fact made by the trial court.
The true fact, therefore, of the case is that, while Tecson was sleeping in his room with his back
towards the door, Oanis and Galanta, on sight, fired at him simultaneously or successively, believing
him to be Anselmo Balagtas but without having made previously any reasonable inquiry as to his
identity. And the question is whether or not they may, upon such fact, be held responsible for the
death thus caused to Tecson. It is contended that, as appellants acted in innocent mistake of fact in
the honest performance of their official duties, both of them believing that Tecson was Balagtas, they
incur no criminal liability. Sustaining this theory in part, the lower court held and so declared them
guilty of the crime of homicide through reckless imprudence. We are of the opinion, however, that,
under the circumstances of the case, the crime committed by appellants is murder through specially
mitigated by circumstances to be mentioned below.
In support of the theory of non-liability by reasons of honest mistake of fact, appellants rely on the
case of U.S. v. Ah Chong, 15 Phil., 488. The maxim is ignorantia facti excusat, but this applies only
when the mistake is committed without fault or carelessness. In the Ah Chong case, defendant
therein after having gone to bed was awakened by someone trying to open the door. He called out
twice, "who is there," but received no answer. Fearing that the intruder was a robber, he leaped from
his bed and called out again., "If you enter the room I will kill you." But at that precise moment, he
was struck by a chair which had been placed against the door and believing that he was then being
attacked, he seized a kitchen knife and struck and fatally wounded the intruder who turned out to be
his room-mate. A common illustration of innocent mistake of fact is the case of a man who was

marked as a footpad at night and in a lonely road held up a friend in a spirit of mischief, and with
leveled, pistol demanded his money or life. He was killed by his friend under the mistaken belief that
the attack was real, that the pistol leveled at his head was loaded and that his life and property were
in imminent danger at the hands of the aggressor. In these instances, there is an innocent mistake of
fact committed without any fault or carelessness because the accused, having no time or opportunity
to make a further inquiry, and being pressed by circumstances to act immediately, had no alternative
but to take the facts as they then appeared to him, and such facts justified his act of killing. In the
instant case, appellants, unlike the accused in the instances cited, found no circumstances
whatsoever which would press them to immediate action. The person in the room being then asleep,
appellants had ample time and opportunity to ascertain his identity without hazard to themselves,
and could even effect a bloodless arrest if any reasonable effort to that end had been made, as the
victim was unarmed, according to Irene Requinea. This, indeed, is the only legitimate course of
action for appellants to follow even if the victim was really Balagtas, as they were instructed not to
kill Balagtas at sight but to arrest him, and to get him dead or alive only if resistance or aggression is
offered by him.
Although an officer in making a lawful arrest is justified in using such force as is reasonably
necessary to secure and detain the offender, overcome his resistance, prevent his escape, recapture
him if he escapes, and protect himself from bodily harm (People vs. Delima, 46 Phil, 738), yet he is
never justified in using unnecessary force or in treating him with wanton violence, or in resorting to
dangerous means when the arrest could be effected otherwise (6 C.J.S., par. 13, p. 612). The
doctrine is restated in the new Rules of Court thus: "No unnecessary or unreasonable force shall be
used in making an arrest, and the person arrested shall not be subject to any greater restraint than is
necessary for his detention." (Rule 109, sec. 2, par. 2). And a peace officer cannot claim exemption
from criminal liability if he uses unnecessary force or violence in making an arrest (5 C.J., p. 753;
U.S.vs. Mendoza, 2 Phil., 109). It may be true that Anselmo Balagtas was a notorious criminal, a lifetermer, a fugitive from justice and a menace to the peace of the community, but these facts alone
constitute no justification for killing him when in effecting his arrest, he offers no resistance or in fact
no resistance can be offered, as when he is asleep. This, in effect, is the principle laid down,
although upon different facts, in U.S. vs. Donoso (3 Phil., 234, 242).
It is, however, suggested that a notorious criminal "must be taken by storm" without regard to his
right to life which he has by such notoriety already forfeited. We may approve of this standard of
official conduct where the criminal offers resistance or does something which places his captors in
danger of imminent attack. Otherwise we cannot see how, as in the present case, the mere fact of
notoriety can make the life of a criminal a mere trifle in the hands of the officers of the law. Notoriety
rightly supplies a basis for redoubled official alertness and vigilance; it never can justify precipitate
action at the cost of human life. Where, as here, the precipitate action of the appellants has cost an
innocent life and there exist no circumstances whatsoever to warrant action of such character in the
mind of a reasonably prudent man, condemnation not condonation should be the rule;
otherwise we should offer a premium to crime in the shelter of official actuation.
The crime committed by appellants is not merely criminal negligence, the killing being intentional and
not accidental. In criminal negligence, the injury caused to another should be unintentional, it being
simply the incident of another act performed without malice. (People vs. Sara, 55 Phil., 939). In the
words of Viada, "para que se celifique un hecho de imprudencia es preciso que no haya mediado en
el malicia ni intencion alguna de daar; existiendo esa intencion, debera calificarse el hecho del
delito que ha producido, por mas que no haya sido la intencion del agente el causar un mal de tanta
gravedad como el que se produjo." (Tomo 7, Viada Codigo Penal Comentado, 5.a ed. pag. 7). And,
as once held by this Court, a deliberate intent to do an unlawful act is essentially inconsistent with
the idea of reckless imprudence (People vs. Nanquil, 43 Phil., 232; People vs. Bindor, 56 Phil., 16),
and where such unlawful act is wilfully done, a mistake in the identity of the intended victim cannot

be considered as reckless imprudence (People vs. Gona, 54 Phil., 605) to support a plea of
mitigated liability.
As the deceased was killed while asleep, the crime committed is murder with the qualifying
circumstance ofalevosia. There is, however, a mitigating circumstance of weight consisting in the
incomplete justifying circumstance defined in article 11, No. 5, of the Revised Penal Code. According
to such legal provision, a person incurs no criminal liability when he acts in the fulfillment of a duty or
in the lawful exercise of a right or office. There are two requisites in order that the circumstance may
be taken as a justifying one: (a) that the offender acted in the performance of a duty or in the lawful
exercise of a right; and (b) that the injury or offense committed be the necessary consequence of the
due performance of such duty or the lawful exercise of such right or office. In the instance case, only
the first requisite is present appellants have acted in the performance of a duty. The second
requisite is wanting for the crime by them committed is not the necessary consequence of a due
performance of their duty. Their duty was to arrest Balagtas or to get him dead or alive if resistance
is offered by him and they are overpowered. But through impatience or over-anxiety or in their desire
to take no chances, they have exceeded in the fulfillment of such duty by killing the person whom
they believed to be Balagtas without any resistance from him and without making any previous
inquiry as to his identity. According to article 69 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty lower by one
or two degrees than that prescribed by law shall, in such case, be imposed.
For all the foregoing, the judgment is modified and appellants are hereby declared guilty of murder
with the mitigating circumstance above mentioned, and accordingly sentenced to an indeterminate
penalty of from five (5) years of prision correctional to fifteen (15) years of reclusion temporal, with
the accessories of the law, and to pay the heirs of the deceased Serapio Tecson jointly and severally
an indemnity of P2,000, with costs.
Yulo, C.J., Bocobo, Generoso and Lopez Vito, A., concur.

Separate Opinions
PARAS, J., dissenting:
Anselmo Balagtas, a life termer and notorious criminal, managed to escape and flee form Manila to
the provinces. Receiving information to the effect that he was staying with one Irene in Cabanatuan,
Nueva Ecija, the office of the Constabulary in Manila ordered the Provincial Inspector in Cabanatuan
by telegram dispatched on December 25, 1938, to get Balagtas "dead or alive". Among those
assigned to the task of carrying out the said order, were Antonio Z. Oanis, chief of police of
Cabanatuan, and Alberto Galanta, a Constabulary corporal, to whom the telegram received by the
Provincial Inspector and a newspaper picture of Balagtas were shown. Oanis, Galanta and a
Constabulary private, after being told by the Provincial Inspector to gather information about
Balagtas, "to arrest him and, if overpowered, to follow the instructions contained in the telegram,"
proceeded to the place where the house of Irene was located. Upon arriving thereat, Oanis
approached Brigida Mallari, who was then gathering banana stalks in the yard, and inquired for the
room of Irene. After Mallari had pointed out the room, she was asked by Oanis to tell where Irene's
paramour, Balagtas, was, whereupon Mallari answered that he was sleeping with Irene. Upon
reaching the room indicated, Oanis and Galanta, after the former had shouted "Stand up, if you are
Balagtas," started shooting the man who was found by them lying down beside a woman. The man
was thereby killed, but Balagtas was still alive, for it turned out that the person shot by Oanis and
Galanta was one Serapio Tecson.

Consequently, Oanis and Galanta were charged with having committed murder. The Court of First
Instance of Nueva Ecija, however, convicted them only of homicide through reckless imprudence
and sentenced them each to suffer the indeterminate penalty of from 1 year and 6 months to 2 years
and 2 months of prision correctional, to jointly and severally indemnify the heirs of Serapio Tecson in
the amount of P1,000, and to pay the costs. Oanis and Galanta have appealed.
In accomplishing the acts with which the appellants were charged, they undoubtedly followed the
order issued by the Constabulary authorities in Manila requiring the Provincial Inspector in
Cabanatuan to get Balagtas dead or alive, in the honest belief that Serapio Tecson was Anselmo
Balagtas. As the latter became a fugitive criminal, with revolvers in his possession and a record that
made him extremely dangerous and a public terror, the Constabulary authorities were justified in
ordering his arrest, whether dead or alive. In view of said order and the danger faced by the
appellants in carrying it out, they cannot be said to have acted feloniously in shooting the person
honestly believed by them to be the wanted man. Conscious of the fact that Balagtas would rather
kill than be captured, the appellants did not want to take chances and should not be penalized for
such prudence. On the contrary, they should be commended for their bravery and courage bordering
on recklessness because, without knowing or ascertaining whether the wanted man was in fact
asleep in his room, they proceeded thereto without hesitation and thereby exposed their lives to
danger.
The Solicitor-General, however, contends that the appellants were authorized to use their revolvers
only after being overpowered by Balagtas. In the first place, the alleged instruction by the Provincial
Inspector to that effect, was in violation of the express order given by the Constabulary authorities in
Manila and which was shown to the appellants. In the second place, it would indeed be suicidal for
the appellants or, for that matter, any agent of the authority to have waited until they have been
overpowered before trying to put our such a character as Balagtas. In the third place, it is immaterial
whether or not the instruction given by the Provincial Inspector was legitimate and proper, because
the facts exist that the appellants acted in conformity with the express order of superior Constabulary
authorities, the legality or propriety of which is not herein questioned.
The theory of the prosecution has acquired some plausibility, though quite psychological or
sentimental, in view only of the fact that it was not Balagtas who was actually killed, but an "innocent
man . . . while he was deeply asleep." Anybody's heart will be profoundly grieved by the trade, but in
time will be consoled by the realization that the life of Serapio Tecson was not vainly sacrificed, for
the incident will always serve as a loud warning to any one desiring to follow in the footsteps of
Anselmo Balagtas that in due time the duly constituted authorities will, upon proper order, enforce
the summary forfeiture of his life.
In my opinion, therefore, the appellants are not criminally liable if the person killed by them was in
fact Anselmo Balagtas for the reason that they did so in the fulfillment of their duty and in obedience
to an order issued by a superior for some lawful purpose (Revised Penal Code, art. 11, pars. 5 and
6). They also cannot be held criminally liable even if the person killed by them was not Anselmo
Balagtas, but Serapio Tecson, because they did so under an honest mistake of fact not due to
negligence or bad faith. (U.S. vs. Ah Chong, 15 Phil., 488).
It is true that, under article 4 of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability is incurred by any person
committing a felony although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended; but said
article is clearly inapplicable since the killing of the person who was believed to be Balagtas was, as
already stated, not wrongful or felonious.
The case of U.S. vs. Mendieta (34 Phil., 242), cited by the Solicitor-General, is not in point,
inasmuch as the defendant therein, who intended to injure Hilario Lauigan with whom he had a

quarrel, but killed another by mistake, would not be exempted from criminal liability if he actually
injured or killed Hilario Lauigan, there being a malicious design on his part. The other case involved
by the prosecution is U.S. vs. Donoso (3 Phil., 234). This is also not in point, as it appears that the
defendants therein killed one Pedro Almasan after he had already surrendered and allowed himself
to be bound and that the said defendants did not have lawful instructions from superior authorities to
capture Almasan dead or alive.
The appealed judgment should therefore be reversed and the appellants, Antonio Z. Oanis and
Alberto Galanta, acquitted, with costs de oficio.

HONTIVEROS, J., dissenting:


According to the opinion of the majority, it is proper to follow the rule that a notorious criminal "must
be taken by storm without regard to his life which he has, by his conduct, already forfeited,"
whenever said criminal offers resistance or does something which places his captors in danger of
imminent attack. Precisely, the situation which confronted the accused-appellants Antonio Z. Oanis
and Alberto Galanta in the afternoon of December 24, 1938, was very similar to this. It must be
remembered that both officers received instructions to get Balagtas "dead or alive" and according to
the attitude of not only the said appellants but also of Capt. Monsod, constabulary provincial
inspector of Nueva Ecija, it may be assumed that said instructions gave more emphasis to the first
part; namely, to take him dead. It appears in the record that after the shooting, and having been
informed of the case, Capt. Monsod stated that Oanis and Galanta might be decorated for what they
had done. That was when all parties concerned honestly believed that the dead person was
Balagtas himself, a dangerous criminal who had escaped from his guards and was supposedly
armed with a .45 caliber pistol Brigida Mallari, the person whom the appellants met upon arriving at
the house of Irene Requinea, supposed mistress of Balagtas, informed them that said Balagtas was
upstairs. Appellants found there asleep a man closely resembling the wanted criminal. Oanis said: If
you are Balagtas stand up," But the supposed criminal showed his intention to attack the appellants,
a conduct easily explained by the fact that he should have felt offended by the intrusion of persons in
the room where he was peacefully lying down with his mistress. In such predicament, it was nothing
but human on the part of the appellants to employ force and to make use of their weapons in order
to repel the imminent attack by a person who, according to their belief, was Balagtas It was
unfortunate, however that an innocent man was actually killed. But taking into consideration the facts
of the case, it is, according to my humble opinion, proper to apply herein the doctrine laid down in
the case of U.S. vs. Ah Chong (15 Phil., 488). In the instant case we have, as in the case supra, an
innocent mistake of fact committed without any fault or carelessness on the part of the accused, who
having no time to make a further inquiry, had no alternative but to take the facts as they appeared to
them and act immediately.
The decision of the majority, in recognition of the special circumstances of this case which favored
the accused-appellants, arrives at the conclusion that an incomplete justifying circumstance may be
invoked, and therefore, according to Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty
should be one which is lower by one or two degrees than that prescribed by law. This incomplete
justifying circumstance is that defined in Article 11, No. 5 of the Revised Penal Code, in favor of "a
person who acts in the fulfillment of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or office." I believe that
the application of this circumstance is not proper. Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code provides as
follows:

Art. 69. Penalty to be imposed when the crime committed is not wholly excusable. A
penalty lower by one or two degrees than that prescribed by law shall be imposed if the deed
is not wholly excusable by reason of the lack of some of the conditions required to justify the
same or to exempt from criminal liability in the several cases mentioned in articles 11 and 12,
provided that the majority of such conditions be present. The courts shall impose the penalty
in the period which may be deemed proper, in view of the number and nature of the
conditions of exemption present or lacking.
This provision has been copied almost verbatim from Article 84 of the old Penal Code of the
Philippines, and which was also taken from Article 87 of the Spanish Penal Code of 1870.
Judge Guillermo Guevara, one of the members of the Committee created by Administrative Order
No. 94 of the Department of Justice for the drafting of the Revised Penal Code, in commenting on
Article 69, said that the justifying circumstances and circumstances exempting from liability which
are the subject matter of this article are the following: self-defense, defense of relatives, defense of
strangers, state of necessity and injury caused by mere accident. Accordingly, justifying
circumstance No. 5 of Article 11 dealing with the fulfillment of a duty or the lawful exercise of a right,
calling or office, cannot be placed within its scope.
The eminent treatiser of criminal law Mr. Groizard, in his commentary of Article 87 of the Spanish
Penal Code of 1870 which is the source of Article 69 of our Code says:
Ni tratandose de la imbecilidad, ni de la locura, ni de la menor edad, ni del que obra
violentado por una fuerza inrresistible o impulsado por miedo insuperable de un mal igual o
mayor, o en cumplimiento de un deber, o en el ejercito legitimo de un derecho, oficio o
cargo, o en virtud de obediencia debida, ni del que incurre en alguna omision hallandose
impedido por causa legitima o insuperable, puede tener aplicacion al articulo que
comentamos. Y la razon es obvia. En ninguna de estas execiones hay pluralidad de
requisitos. La irrespondabilidad depende de una sola condicion. Hay o no perturbacion de la
razon; el autor del hecho es o no menor de nueve aos; existe o no violencia material o
moral irresistible, etc., etc.; tal es lo que respectivamente hay que examinar y resolver para
declarar la culpabilidad o inculpabilidad. Es, por lo tanto, imposible que acontezca lo que el
texto que va al frente de estas lineas rquiere, para que se imponga al autor del hecho la
penalidad excepcional que establece; esto es, que falten algunos requisitos de los que la ley
exige para eximir de responsabilidad, y que concurran el mayor numero de ellos, toda vez
que, en los casos referidos, la ley no exige multiples condiciones.
It must be taken into account the fact according to Article 69 a penalty lower by one or two degrees
than that prescribed by law shall be imposed if the deed is not wholly excusable by reason of the
lack of some of the conditions required by the law to justify the same or exempt from criminal liability.
The word "conditions" should not be confused with the word "requisites". In dealing with justifying
circumstance No. 5 Judge Guevara states: "There are two requisites in order that this circumstance
may be taken into account: (a) That the offender acted in the performance of his duty or in the lawful
exercise of a right; and (b) That the injury or offense committed be the necessary consequence of
the performance of a duty or the lawful exercise of a right or office." It is evident that these two
requisites concur in the present case if we consider the intimate connection between the order given
to the appellant by Capt. Monsod, the showing to them of the telegram from Manila to get Balagtas
who was with a bailarina named Irene, the conduct of said appellants in questioning Brigida Mallari
and giving a warning to the supposed criminal when both found him with Irene, and the statement
made by Capt. Monsod after the shooting.

If appellant Oanis is entitled to a reversal of the decision of the court below, there are more reasons
in favor of the acquittal of appellant Galanta. According to the evidence no bullet from the gun fired
by this accused ever hit Serapio Tecson. Galanta was armed in the afternoon of December 24, 1938,
with a .45 caliber revolver (Exhibit L). He so testified and was corroborated by the unchallenged
testimony of his superior officer Sgt. Valeriano Serafica. According to this witness, since Galanta was
made a corporal of the Constabulary he was given, as part of his equipment, revolver Exhibit L with
a serial No. 37121. This gun had been constantly used by Galanta, and, according to Sgt. Pedro
Marasigan, who accompanied said accused when he took it from his trunk in the barracks on the
night of December 24, 1938, upon order of Captain Monsod, it was the same revolver which was
given to the witness with five .45 caliber bullets and one empty shell. Fourteen unused bullets were
also taken from Galanta by Sergeant Serafica, thus completing his regular equipment of twenty
bullets which he had on the morning of December 24, 1938, when Sergeant Serafica made the usual
inspection of the firearms in the possession of the non-commissioned officers and privates of the
constabulary post at Cabanatuan. Galanta stated that he had fired only one shot and missed. This
testimony is corroborated by that of a ballistic expert who testified that bullets exhibits F and O,
the first being extracted from the head of the deceased, causing wound No. 3 of autopsy report
Exhibit C and the second found at the place of the shooting, had not been fired from revolver
Exhibit L nor from any other revolver of the constabulary station in Cabanatuan. It was impossible for
the accused Galanta to have substituted his revolver because when Exhibit L was taken from him
nobody in the barracks doubted that the deceased was none other than Balagtas. Moreover, Exhibit
L was not out of order and therefore there was no reason why Galanta should carry along another
gun, according to the natural course of things. On the other hand, aside from wound No. 3 as above
stated, no other wound may be said to have been caused by a .45 caliber revolver bullet. Doctor
Castro's record gives the conclusion that wound No. 2 must have been caused by a .45 caliber
revolver bullet. Doctor Castro's record gives the conclusion that wound No. 2 must have been
caused by a .45 caliber bullet, but inasmuch as the diameter of the wound's entrance was only 8
mm., the caliber should be .32 and not .45, because according to the medico-legal expert who
testified in this case, a bullet of a .45 caliber will produce a wound entrance with either 11 mm. or 12
mm. diameter. All other wounds found by the surgeon who performed the autopsy appeared to have
been caused by bullets of a lesser caliber. In consequence, it can be stated that no bullet fired by
Galanta did ever hit or kill Serapio Tecson and therefore there is no reason why he should be
declared criminally responsible for said death.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-74324 November 17, 1988
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
FERNANDO PUGAY y BALCITA, & BENJAMIN SAMSON y MAGDALENA, accused-appellants.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Citizens Legal Assistance Office for accused-appellants.

MEDIALDEA, J.:
For the death of Bayani Miranda, a retardate, FERNANDO PUGAY y BALCITA and BENJAMIN
SAMSON y MAGDALENA were charged with the crime of MURDER in Criminal Case No. L-175-82
of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Cavite, under an information which reads
as follows:
That on or about May 19, 1982 at the town plaza of the Municipality of Rosario,
Province of Cavite, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping and
assisting one another, with treachery and evident premeditation, taking advantage of
their superior strength, and with the decided purpose to kill, poured gasoline, a
combustible liquid to the body of Bayani Miranda and with the use of fire did then and
there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, burn the whole body of said Bayani Miranda
which caused his subsequent death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the
aforenamed Bayani Miranda.
That the crime was committed with the qualifying circumstance of treachery and the
aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and superior strength, and the
means employed was to weaken the defense; that the wrong done in the commission
of the crime was deliberately augmented by causing another wrong, that is the
burning of the body of Bayani Miranda.
CONTRARY TO LAW (p. 1, Records).
Upon being arraigned, both accused pleaded not guilty to the offense charged. After trial, the trial
court rendered a decision finding both accused guilty on the crime of murder but crediting in favor of
the accused Pugay the mitigating circumstance of lack of intention to commit so grave a wrong, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, the accused Fernando Pugay y Balcita and Benjamin Samson y
Magdalena are pronounced guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principals by direct
participation of the crime of murder for the death of Bayani Miranda, and appreciating
the aforestated mitigating circumstance in favor of Pugay, he is sentenced to a prison
term ranging from twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to twenty (20)
years of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and Samson to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua together with the accessories of the law for both of them. The
accused are solidarily held liable to indemnify the heirs of the victim in the amount of
P13,940.00 plus moral damages of P10,000.00 and exemplary damages of
P5,000.00.
Let the preventive imprisonment of Pugay be deducted from the principal penalty.
Cost against both accused.
SO ORDERED (p. 248, Records).
Not satisfied with the decision, both accused interposed the present appeal and assigned the
following errors committed by the court a quo:

1. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN UTILIZING THE STATEMENTS OF ACCUSEDAPPELLANTS IN ITS APPRECIATION OF FACTS DESPITE ITS ADMISSION THAT
THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS WERE NOT ASSISTED BY A COUNSEL DURING
THE CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION.
2. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE SUPPRESSION BY
THE PROSECUTION OF SOME EVIDENCE IS FATAL TO ITS CASE.
3. THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN LENDING CREDENCE TO THE INCREDIBLE
TESTIMONY OF EDUARDO GABION WHO WAS ONE OF THE MANY SUSPECTS
ARRESTED BY THE POLICE (Accused-appellants' Brief, p. 48, Rollo).
The antecedent facts are as follows:
The deceased Miranda, a 25-year old retardate, and the accused Pugay were friends. Miranda used
to run errands for Pugay and at times they slept together. On the evening of May 19, 1982, a town
fiesta fair was held in the public plaza of Rosario, Cavite. There were different kinds of ride and one
was a ferris wheel.
Sometime after midnight of the same date, Eduardo Gabion was sitting in the ferris wheel and
reading a comic book with his friend Henry. Later, the accused Pugay and Samson with several
companions arrived. These persons appeared to be drunk as they were all happy and noisy. As the
group saw the deceased walking nearby, they started making fun of him. They made the deceased
dance by tickling him with a piece of wood.
Not content with what they were doing with the deceased, the accused Pugay suddenly took a can
of gasoline from under the engine of the ferns wheel and poured its contents on the body of the
former. Gabion told Pugay not to do so while the latter was already in the process of pouring the
gasoline. Then, the accused Samson set Miranda on fire making a human torch out of him.
The ferris wheel operator later arrived and doused with water the burning body of the deceased.
Some people around also poured sand on the burning body and others wrapped the same with rags
to extinguish the flame.
The body of the deceased was still aflame when police officer Rolando Silangcruz and other police
officers of the Rosario Police Force arrived at the scene of the incident. Upon inquiring as to who
were responsible for the dastardly act, the persons around spontaneously pointed to Pugay and
Samson as the authors thereof.
The deceased was later rushed to the Grace Hospital for treatment. In the meantime, the police
officers brought Gabion, the two accused and five other persons to the Rosario municipal building for
interrogation. Police officer Reynaldo Canlas took the written statements of Gabion and the two
accused, after which Gabion was released. The two accused remained in custody.
After a careful review of the records, We find the grounds relied upon by the accused-appellants for
the reversal of the decision of the court a quo to be without merit.

It bears emphasis that barely a few hours after the incident, accused-appellants gave their written
statements to the police. The accused Pugay admitted in his statement, Exhibit F, that he poured a
can of gasoline on the deceased believing that the contents thereof was water and then the accused
Samson set the deceased on fire. The accused Samson, on the other hand, alleged in his statement
that he saw Pugay pour gasoline on Miranda but did not see the person who set him on fire. Worthy
of note is the fact that both statements did not impute any participation of eyewitness Gabion in the
commission of the offense.
While testifying on their defense, the accused-appellants repudiated their written statements alleging
that they were extracted by force. They claimed that the police maltreated them into admitting
authorship of the crime. They also engaged in a concerted effort to lay the blame on Gabion for the
commission of the offense.
Thus, while it is true that the written statements of the accused-appellants were mentioned and
discussed in the decision of the court a quo, the contents thereof were not utilized as the sole basis
for the findings of facts in the decision rendered. The said court categorically stated that "even
without Exhibits 'F' and 'G', there is still Gabion's straightforward, positive and convincing testimony
which remains unaffected by the uncorroborated, self-serving and unrealiable testimonies of Pugay
and Samson" (p. 247, Records).
Accused-appellants next assert that the prosecution suppressed the testimonies of other
eyewitnesses to the incident. They claim that despite the fact that there were other persons
investigated by the police, only Gabion was presented as an eyewitness during the trial of the case.
They argue that the deliberate non- presentation of these persons raises the presumption that their
testimonies would be adverse to the prosecution.
There is no dispute that there were other persons who witnessed the commission of the crime. In
fact there appears on record (pp. 16-17, Records) the written statements of one Abelardo Reyes and
one Monico Alimorong alleging the same facts and imputing the respective acts of pouring of
gasoline and setting the deceased on fire to the accused-appellants as testified to by Gabion in open
court. They were listed as prosecution witnesses in the information filed. Considering that their
testimonies would be merely corroborative, their non-presentation does not give rise to the
presumption that evidence wilfully suppressed would be adverse if produced. This presumption does
not apply to the suppression of merely corroborative evidence (U.S. vs. Dinola, 37 Phil. 797).
Besides, the matter as to whom to utilize as witness is for the prosecution to decide.
<re||

an1w>

Accused-appellants also attack the credibility of the eyewitness Gabion alleging that not only was
the latter requested by the mother of the deceased to testify for the prosecution in exchange for his
absolution from liability but also because his testimony that he was reading a comic book during an
unusual event is contrary to human behavior and experience.
Gabion testified that it was his uncle and not the mother of the deceased who asked him to testify
and state the truth about the incident. The mother of the deceased likewise testified that she never
talked to Gabion and that she saw the latter for the first time when the instant case was tried.
Besides, the accused Pugay admitted that Gabion was his friend and both Pugay and the other
accused Samson testified that they had no previous misunderstanding with Gabion. Clearly, Gabion
had no reason to testify falsely against them.

In support of their claim that the testimony of Gabion to the effect that he saw Pugay pour gasoline
on the deceased and then Samson set him on fire is incredible, the accused-appellants quote
Gabion's testimony on cross-examination that, after telling Pugay not to pour gasoline on the
deceased, he (Gabion) resumed reading comics; and that it was only when the victim's body was on
fire that he noticed a commotion.
However, explaining this testimony on re-direct examination, Gabion stated:
Q. Mr. Gabion, you told the Court on cross-examination that you were
reading comics when you saw Pugay poured gasoline unto Bayani
Miranda and lighted by Samson. How could you possibly see that
incident while you were reading comics?
A. I put down the comics which I am reading and I saw what they
were doing.
Q. According to you also before Bayani was poured with gasoline and
lighted and burned later you had a talk with Pugay, is that correct?
A. When he was pouring gasoline on Bayani Miranda I was trying to
prevent him from doing so.
Q. We want to clarify. According to you a while ago you had a talk
with Pugay and as a matter of fact, you told him not to pour gasoline.
That is what I want to know from you, if that is true?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Aside from Bayani being tickled with a stick on his ass, do you
mean to say you come to know that Pugay will pour gasoline unto
him?
A. I do not know that would be that incident.
Q. Why did you as(k) Pugay in the first place not to pour gasoline
before he did that actually?
A. Because I pity Bayani, sir.
Q. When you saw Pugay tickling Bayani with a stick on his ass you
tried according to you to ask him not to and then later you said you
asked not to pour gasoline. Did Pugay tell you he was going to pour
gasoline on Bayani?
A. I was not told, sir.
Q. Did you come to know..... how did you come to know he was going
to pour gasoline that is why you prevent him?

A. Because he was holding on a container of gasoline. I thought it


was water but it was gasoline.
Q. It is clear that while Pugay was tickling Bayani with a stick on his
ass, he later got hold of a can of gasoline, is that correct?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And when he pick up the can of gasoline, was that the time you
told him not to pour gasoline when he merely pick up the can of
gasoline.
A. I saw him pouring the gasoline on the body of Joe.
Q. So, it is clear when you told Pugay not to pour gasoline he was
already in the process of pouring gasoline on the body of Bayani?
A. Yes, sir (Tsn, July 30, 1983, pp. 32-33).
It is thus clear that prior to the incident in question, Gabion was reading a comic book; that Gabion
stopped reading when the group of Pugay started to make fun of the deceased; that Gabion saw
Pugay get the can of gasoline from under the engine of the ferris wheel; that it was while Pugay was
in the process of pouring the gasoline on the body of the deceased when Gabion warned him not to
do so; and that Gabion later saw Samson set the deceased on fire.
However, there is nothing in the records showing that there was previous conspiracy or unity of
criminal purpose and intention between the two accused-appellants immediately before the
commission of the crime. There was no animosity between the deceased and the accused Pugay or
Samson. Their meeting at the scene of the incident was accidental. It is also clear that the accused
Pugay and his group merely wanted to make fun of the deceased. Hence, the respective criminal
responsibility of Pugay and Samson arising from different acts directed against the deceased is
individual and not collective, and each of them is liable only for the act committed by him (U.S. vs.
Magcomot, et. al. 13, Phil. 386; U.S. vs. Abiog, et. al. 37 Phil. 1371).
The next question to be determined is the criminal responsibility of the accused Pugay. Having taken
the can from under the engine of the ferris wheel and holding it before pouring its contents on the
body of the deceased, this accused knew that the can contained gasoline. The stinging smell of this
flammable liquid could not have escaped his notice even before pouring the same. Clearly, he failed
to exercise all the diligence necessary to avoid every undesirable consequence arising from any act
that may be committed by his companions who at the time were making fun of the deceased. We
agree with the Solicitor General that the accused is only guilty of homicide through reckless
imprudence defined in Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. In U.S. vs. Maleza, et.
al. 14 Phil. 468, 470, this Court ruled as follows:
A man must use common sense and exercise due reflection in all his acts; it is his
duty to be cautious, careful, and prudent, if not from instinct, then through fear of
incurring punishment. He is responsible for such results as anyone might foresee
and for acts which no one would have performed except through culpable abandon.

Otherwise his own person, rights and property, all those of his fellow-beings, would
ever be exposed to all manner of danger and injury.
The proper penalty that the accused Pugay must suffer is an indeterminate one ranging from four (4)
months ofarresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as maximum. With respect to the accused Samson, the Solicitor General in his brief contends that
"his conviction of murder, is proper considering that his act in setting the deceased on fire knowing
that gasoline had just been poured on him is characterized by treachery as the victim was left
completely helpless to defend and protect himself against such an outrage" (p. 57, Rollo). We do not
agree.
There is entire absence of proof in the record that the accused Samson had some reason to kill the
deceased before the incident. On the contrary, there is adequate evidence showing that his act was
merely a part of their fun-making that evening. For the circumstance of treachery to exist, the attack
must be deliberate and the culprit employed means, methods, or forms in the execution thereof
which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from any
defense which the offended party might make.
There can be no doubt that the accused Samson knew very well that the liquid poured on the body
of the deceased was gasoline and a flammable substance for he would not have committed the act
of setting the latter on fire if it were otherwise. Giving him the benefit of doubt, it call be conceded
that as part of their fun-making he merely intended to set the deceased's clothes on fire. His act,
however, does not relieve him of criminal responsibility. Burning the clothes of the victim would
cause at the very least some kind of physical injuries on his person, a felony defined in the Revised
Penal Code. If his act resulted into a graver offense, as what took place in the instant case, he must
be held responsible therefor. Article 4 of the aforesaid code provides, inter alia, that criminal liability
shall be incurred by any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be
different from that which he intended.
As no sufficient evidence appears in the record establishing any qualifying circumstances, the
accused Samson is only guilty of the crime of homicide defined and penalized in Article 249 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended. We are disposed to credit in his favor the ordinary mitigating
circumstance of no intention to commit so grave a wrong as that committed as there is evidence of a
fact from which such conclusion can be drawn. The eyewitness Gabion testified that the accused
Pugay and Samson were stunned when they noticed the deceased burning (Tsn, June 1, 1983, pp.
16-17).
<re||an1w>

The proper penalty that the accused Samson must suffer is an indeterminate one ranging from eight
(8) years ofprision mayor, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum.
The lower court held the accused solidarily liable for P13,940.00, the amount spent by Miranda's
parents for his hospitalization, wake and interment. The indemnity for death is P30,000.00. Hence,
the indemnity to the heirs of the deceased Miranda is increased to P43,940.00.
Both accused shall be jointly and severally liable for the aforesaid amount plus the P10,000.00 as
moral damages and P5,000.00 as exemplary damages as found by the court a quo.
Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed with the modifications above-indicated. Costs against the
accused-appellants.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 153591

February 23, 2004

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee


vs.
RENATO GARCIA y ROMANO, appellant.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
Appellant Renato Garcia y Romano was charged with Murder before the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 87, in Criminal Case No. Q-98-79961 in an Information1 which reads:
That on or about the 22nd day of May, 1998, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, being
then the driver and/or person in charge of an Isuzu Jitney bearing Plate No. NPJ-948 did then and
there unlawfully and feloniously drive, manage and operate the same along Zabarte Road in said
City, in a careless, reckless, negligent and impudent manner, by then and there making the said
vehicle run at a speed greater than was reasonable and proper without taking the necessary
precaution to avoid accident to person/s of the traffic at said place at the time, causing as
consequence of his said carelessness, negligence, impudence and lack of precaution, the said
vehicle so driven, managed and operated by him to hit and bump, as in fact it hit and bumped Sanily
Billon y Trinidad, a pedestrian, thereafter, with intent to kill, qualified by evident premeditation and
use of motor vehicle, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously ran said vehicle over the
victim thereby causing her serious and mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause of
her untimely death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the said Sanily Billon y Trinidad.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
On arraignment, appellant pleaded "not guilty". Thereafter, trial on the merits followed.
The prosecution alleged that at around 12:00 noon of May 22, 1998, Bentley Billon and his younger
sister, Sanily, boarded a passenger jeepney on their way to Sacred Heart School in Barangay
Kaligayahan, Novaliches, Quezon City to attend remedial classes. They alighted on Zabarte Road in
front of the school. Bentley crossed the street and waited on the center island for Sanily to cross.
While Sanily was crossing the street, a passenger jeepney driven by appellant, coming from
Camarin and heading towards Quirino Highway, hit her on the left side of the body. Sanily fell and
was thrown to the ground a meter away from the vehicle. The jeepney stopped. But as Bentley was
running towards his sister, the vehicle suddenly accelerated with its front tire running over Sanilys
stomach. Bentley and appellant pulled Sanily, who was writhing in excruciating pain, from
underneath the vehicle and brought her to the Sta. Lucia Hospital but due to lack of medical

facilities, she was transferred to the Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH) where she was
operated. However, she died four days later.
Dr. Emmanuel Reyes,2 Medico-legal of the Southern Police District, Fort Bonifacio, testified that the
attending physician, Dr. Santiago C. Sagad, noted lacerations in Sanilys liver and spleen which was
caused by a blunt/strong force on the victims body, resulting to her death due to internal bleeding.
He opined that the blunt force may have also caused lacerations in the victims intestine and the
abrasions on the arm, from the elbow to the shoulder could be the result of the skins contact with a
rough surface.
Appellant admitted having ran over the victim, but claimed that it was an accident. He narrated that
at around noon on May 22, 1998, while driving his passenger jeepney along Zabarte Road, he saw a
boy crossing the street followed by the victim. While the vehicle was running, he heard a thud. He
immediately applied his breaks and alighted to check what it was. He saw to his horror a girl
sprawled underneath his vehicle between the front and the rear tires. He and the victims brother
rushed the girl to the Sta. Lucia Hospital, but they transferred her to the Quezon City General
Hospital which has better facilities. A week later, he learned that the victim died.
On May 2, 2002, the trial court rendered judgment,3 finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of Murder and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, the dispositive portion of
which reads:4
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Murder, for which, said RENATO GARCIA y ROMANO is hereby sentenced to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of Sanily Billon the sum of One Hundred
and Twenty Three Thousand and Five Hundred Pesos (P123,500.00) as actual damages including
attorneys fees; Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity for the death of Sanily and
Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) as moral damages.
Cost against the accused.
SO ORDERED.
The trial court held that appellant is guilty of murder qualified by evident premeditation because he
deliberately ran over the slumped body of the victim.
Hence this appeal, raising the following errors, to wit:
I
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN APPRECIATING AGAINST ACCUSED-APPELLANT THE
QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF EVIDENT PREMEDITAION
II
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER AS CHARGED.

The issue to be resolved is whether or not appellant is guilty of murder or reckless imprudence
resulting in homicide.
Appellant argues that the trial court gravely erred in finding that the qualifying circumstance of
evident premeditation attended the commission of the offense. He contends that the mere allegation
by the prosecution that he bumped the victim and intentionally ran over her body is not sufficient to
establish evident premeditation. He claims that he did not intentionally run over the victim when his
vehicle bumped her because he was rattled and was no longer aware of what he was doing.
We find from a careful review of the facts on record that the unfortunate incident was more the result
of reckless imprudence than of malicious intent. Therefore, the trial court erred in convicting
appellant of the crime of murder qualified by evident premeditation.
The elements of evident premeditation are: (1) a previous decision by the appellant to commit the
crime; (2) an overt act/acts manifestly indicating that the appellant clung to his determination; and (3)
a lapse of time between the decision to commit the crime and its actual execution sufficient to allow
appellant to reflect upon the consequences of his acts.
The victims brother, Bentley, testified that the vehicle stopped after it bumped the victim, but it
moved forward and ran over the prostrate body of her sister. From his narration, we find that no
sufficient time elapsed for appellant to decide to commit the crime and reflect on its consequences.
Moreover, there was no showing that appellant performed other overt acts to show that he was
determined to commit murder. The essence of evident premeditation is that the execution of the
criminal act must be preceded by cool thought and reflection upon the resolution to carry out the
criminal intent, during the space of time sufficient to arrive at a calm judgment. 5 These circumstances
do not obtain in the case at bar.
Appellant could have reacted on instinct and relied on sheer impulse to respond to the situation at
hand. While it is possible that appellant deliberately ran over the victim, it is equally possible, if not
more probable, that the vehicle moved forward because appellant failed to control its momentum.
Indeed, this is more consistent with the unrebutted evidence that the jeepney, which had no
handbrake, was moving fast and that appellant became confused when the accident occurred.
Furthermore, appellants act of bringing the victim to the hospital despite numerous opportunities to
flee from the scene is more compatible with a state of mind devoid of criminal intent.
In view of the gravity of the offense involved, the trial court should have been more circumspect in
weighing the evidence of both parties. Our own evaluation of the evidence reveals that appellant had
no intention to kill the victim. As such, he cannot be held liable for an intentional felony. All
reasonable doubt intended to demonstrate negligence, and not criminal intent, must be resolved in
favor of appellant.6
Thus, appellant is guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide defined in Article 365 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended. In U.S. v. Maleza,7 we explained the rationale behind this crime
as follows:
A man must use common sense, and exercise due reflection in all his acts; it is his duty to be
cautious, careful, and prudent, if not from instinct, then through fear of incurring punishment. He is
responsible for such results as anyone might foresee and for acts which no one would have

performed except through culpable abandon. Otherwise his own person, rights and property, all
those of his fellow-beings, would ever be exposed to all manner of danger and injury.
In intentional crimes, the act itself is punished; in negligence or imprudence, what is principally
penalized is the mental attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care
or foresight, the imprudencia punible.8 Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, states
that reckless imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from
which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person
performing such act. Compared to intentional felonies, such as homicide or murder, what takes the
place of the element of malice or intention to commit a wrong or evil is the failure of the offender to
take precautions due to lack of skill taking into account his employment, or occupation, degree of
intelligence, physical condition, and other circumstances regarding persons, time, and place. 9
Appellant showed an inexcusable lack of precaution when he disregarded a traffic sign cautioning
motorists to slow down10 and drove his vehicle in full speed despite being aware that he was
traversing a school zone and pedestrians were crossing the street. He should have observed due
diligence of a reasonably prudent man by slackening his speed and proceeding cautiously while
passing the area.
The imposable penalty, under Art. 365 (2)11 of the Revised Penal Code, homicide resulting from
reckless imprudence in the use of motor vehicle is prision correccional in its medium and maximum
periods, which ranges from two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to six (6) years. Under
Article 65 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty shall be divided into three equal portions of time,
each of which shall form one period. There being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, the
proper penalty shall be within the medium period, which is three (3) years, six (6) months and
twenty-one (21) days to four (4) years, nine (9) months and ten (10) days. Applying the provisions of
the Indeterminate Sentence Law, appellant is entitled to a minimum term to be taken from the
penalty next lower in degree, which is arresto mayor, maximum to prision correccional, minimum.
Accordingly, appellant should be sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of four (4) months and one
(1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional,
as maximum.12
The trial court correctly awarded P50,000.00 as civil indemnity. However, the award of moral
damages in the amount of P500,000.00 should be reduced to P50,000.00. 13 The award of
P30,000.00 as actual damages must likewise be modified. The mother of the victim presented
receipts that they, in fact, spent P58,257.9014 for hospital bills and funeral expenses. The fact that
she received P40,000.00 from insurance will not affect the award of actual damages. 15 The award of
exemplary damages is deleted for lack of factual basis.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 87, in Civil Case No. Q-98-79961, convicting appellant of the crime of murder is REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Appellant Renato Garcia y Romano is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, and he is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate
prison term of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4) years and
two (2) months of prision correccional, as maximum. Appellant is ordered to pay the heirs of the
victim, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P58,257.90 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as moral
damages.
Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 157171

March 14, 2006

ARSENIA B. GARCIA, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This petition seeks the review of the judgment of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 24547 1that
affirmed the conviction of petitioner by the Regional Trial Court 2of Alaminos City, Pangasinan, Branch
54, for violation of Section 27(b) of Republic Act No. 6646.3
Based on the complaint-affidavit of Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., who ran in the 1995 senatorial
elections, an information dated March 30, 1998, was filed in the Regional Trial Court of Alaminos,
charging Herminio R. Romero, Renato R. Viray, Rachel Palisoc and Francisca de Vera, and
petitioner, with violation of Section 27(b). The information reads:
That on or about May 11, 1995, which was within the canvassing period during the May 8, 1995
elections, in the Municipality of Alaminos, Province of Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Election Officer Arsenia B. Garcia,
Municipal Treasurer Herminio R. Romero, Public School District Supervisor Renato R. Viray,
Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Member-Secretary, respectively, of the Municipal Board of
Canvassers of Alaminos, Pangasinan, tabulators Rachel Palisoc and Francisca de Vera, conspiring
with, confederating together and mutually helping each other, did, then and there, willfully, and
unlawfully decrease[d] the votes received by senatorial candidate Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. from six
thousand nine hundred ninety-eight (6,998) votes, as clearly disclosed in the total number of votes in
the one hundred fifty-nine (159) precincts of the Statement of Votes by Precincts of said municipality,
with Serial Nos. 008417, 008418, 008419, 008420, 008421, 008422 and 008423 to one thousand
nine hundred twenty-one (1,921) votes as reflected in the Statement of Votes by Precincts with
Serial No. 008423 and Certificate of Canvass with Serial No. 436156 with a difference of five
thousand seventy-seven (5,077) votes.
CONTRARY TO LAW.4
In a Decision dated September 11, 2000, the RTC acquitted all the accused for insufficiency of
evidence, except petitioner who was convicted as follows:
xxx

5. And finally, on the person of Arsenia B. Garcia, the Court pronounces her GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt, of the crime defined under Republic Act 6646, Section 27 (b) for decreasing the
votes of Senator Pimentel in the total of 5,034 and in relation to BP Blg. 881, considering that this
finding is a violation of Election Offense, she is thus sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of SIX (6)
YEARS as maximum, but applying the INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW, the minimum penalty is
the next degree lower which is SIX (6) MONTHS; however, accused Arsenia B. Garcia is not entitled
to probation; further, she is sentenced to suffer disqualification to hold public office and she is also
deprived of her right of suffrage.
The bailbond posted by her is hereby ordered cancelled, and the Provincial Warden is ordered to
commit her person to the Bureau of Correctional Institution for Women, at Metro Manila, until further
orders from the court.
No pronouncement as to costs.
IT IS SO ORDERED.5
Petitioner appealed before the Court of Appeals which affirmed with modification the RTC Decision,
thus,
WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the appealed decision is hereby affirmed with modification,
increasing the minimum penalty imposed by the trial court from six (6) months to one (1) year.
SO ORDERED.6
The Court of Appeals likewise denied the motion for reconsideration. Hence, this appeal assigning
the following as errors of the appellate court:
I
ON THE FIRST AND SECOND GROUNDS RELIED UPON BY THE RESPONDENT COURT,
NAMELY, THAT IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN SECRETARY VIRAY WHO DECREASED THE
VOTES OF COMPLAINANT PIMENTEL SINCE HE MERELY RELIED ON WHAT THE PETITIONER
DICTATED, AND THAT IT COULD NOT HAVE ALSO BEEN THE TABULATORS BECAUSE
PETITIONER WAS THE ONE WHO READ THE ADDING [MACHINE] TAPE.
II
ON THE THIRD GROUND, NAMELY, THAT PETITIONER DID NOT PRODUCE THE TAPES
DURING THE TRIAL BECAUSE IF PRODUCED, IT IS GOING TO BE ADVERSE TO HER.
III
ON THE FOURTH GROUND, NAMELY, THAT THE PETITIONER WAS THE ONE WHO ENTERED
THE REDUCED FIGURE OF 1,921 IN THE CERTIFICATE OF CANVASS (COC), Exh. "7", WHEN
THE DUTY WAS THAT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE BOARD.
IV

THE REDUCTION OF THE VOTES OF CANDIDATE PIMENTEL WAS CLEARLY NOT WILLFUL OR
INTENTIONAL.7
Petitioner contends that (1) the Court of Appeals judgment is erroneous, based on speculations,
surmises and conjectures, instead of substantial evidence; and (2) there was no motive on her part
to reduce the votes of private complainant.
Respondent on the other hand contends that good faith is not a defense in the violation of an
election law, which falls under the class of mala prohibita.
The main issue is, Is a violation of Section 27(b) of Rep. Act No. 6646, classified under mala in
se or mala prohibita? Could good faith and lack of criminal intent be valid defenses?
Generally, mala in se felonies are defined and penalized in the Revised Penal Code. When the acts
complained of are inherently immoral, they are deemed mala in se, even if they are punished by a
special law.8Accordingly, criminal intent must be clearly established with the other elements of the
crime; otherwise, no crime is committed. On the other hand, in crimes that are mala prohibita, the
criminal acts are not inherently immoral but become punishable only because the law says they are
forbidden. With these crimes, the sole issue is whether the law has been violated. 9Criminal intent is
not necessary where the acts are prohibited for reasons of public policy.10
Section 27(b) of Republic Act No. 664611provides:
SEC. 27. Election Offenses.- In addition to the prohibited acts and election offenses enumerated in
Sections 261 and 262 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, as amended, the following shall be guilty of an
election offense:
xxx
(b) Any member of the board of election inspectors or board of canvassers who tampers, increases,
or decreases the votes received by a candidate in any election or any member of the board who
refuses, after proper verification and hearing, to credit the correct votes or deduct such tampered
votes.
xxx
Clearly, the acts prohibited in Section 27(b) are mala in se.12For otherwise, even errors and mistakes
committed due to overwork and fatigue would be punishable. Given the volume of votes to be
counted and canvassed within a limited amount of time, errors and miscalculations are bound to
happen. And it could not be the intent of the law to punish unintentional election canvass errors.
However, intentionally increasing or decreasing the number of votes received by a candidate is
inherently immoral, since it is done with malice and intent to injure another.
Criminal intent is presumed to exist on the part of the person who executes an act which the law
punishes, unless the contrary shall appear.13Thus, whoever invokes good faith as a defense has the
burden of proving its existence.

Records show that the canvassing of votes on May 11, 1995 before the Board of Canvassers of the
Municipality of Alaminos, Pangasinan was conducted as follows:
1. After the votes in the 159 precincts of the municipality of Alaminos were tallied, the results
thereof were sealed and forwarded to the Municipal Board of Canvassers for canvassing;
2. The number of votes received by each candidate in each precinct was then recorded in
the Statement of Votes with appellant, in her capacity as Chairman, reading the figures
appearing in the results from the precincts and accused Viray, in his capacity as secretary of
the Board, entering the number in the Statements of Votes as read by the appellant. Six
Statements of Votes were filled up to reflect the votes received by each candidate in the 159
precincts of the Municipality of Alaminos, Pangasinan.
3. After the number of votes received by each candidate for each precincts were entered by
accused Viray in the Statements of Votes, these votes were added by the accused Palisoc
and de Vera with the use of electrical adding machines.
4. After the tabulation by accused Palisoc and de Vera, the corresponding machine tapes
were handed to appellant who reads the subtotal of votes received by each candidate in the
precincts listed in each Statement of Votes. Accused Viray [then] records the subtotal in the
proper column in the Statement of Votes.
5. After the subtotals had been entered by accused Viray, tabulators accused Palisoc and de
Vera added all the subtotals appearing in all Statement of Votes.
6. After the computation, the corresponding machine tape on which the grand total was
reflected was handed to appellant who reads the same and accused Viray enters the figure
read by appellant in the column for grand total in the Statement of Votes. 14
Neither the correctness of the number of votes entered in the Statement of Votes (SOV) for each
precinct, nor of the number of votes entered as subtotals of votes received in the precincts listed in
SOV Nos. 008417 to 008422 was raised as an issue.
At first glance, however, there is a noticeable discrepancy in the addition of the subtotals to arrive at
the grand total of votes received by each candidate for all 159 precincts in SOV No. 008423. 15The
grand total of the votes for private complainant, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, was only 1,921 instead of
6,921, or 5,000 votes less than the number of votes private complainant actually received. This error
is also evident in the Certificate of Canvass (COC) No. 436156 signed by petitioner, Viray and
Romero.16
During trial of this case, petitioner admitted that she was indeed the one who announced the figure
of 1,921, which was subsequently entered by then accused Viray in his capacity as secretary of the
board.17Petitioner likewise admitted that she was the one who prepared the COC (Exhibit A-7),
though it was not her duty. To our mind, preparing the COC even if it was not her task, manifests an
intention to perpetuate the erroneous entry in the COC.18
Neither can this Court accept petitioners explanation that the Board of Canvassers had no idea how
the SOV (Exhibit "6") and the COC reflected that private complainant had only 1,921 votes instead of
6,921 votes. As chairman of the Municipal Board of Canvassers, petitioners concern was to assure

accurate, correct and authentic entry of the votes. Her failure to exercise maximum efficiency and
fidelity to her trust deserves not only censure but also the concomitant sanctions as a matter of
criminal responsibility pursuant to the dictates of the law.19
The fact that the number of votes deducted from the actual votes received by private complainant,
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. was not added to any senatorial candidate does not relieve petitioner of
liability under Section 27(b) of Rep. Act No. 6646. The mere decreasing of the votes received by a
candidate in an election is already punishable under the said provision. 20
At this point, we see no valid reason to disturb the factual conclusions of the appellate court. The
Court has consistently held that factual findings of the trial court, as well as of the Court of Appeals
are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal, particularly where the findings of both
the trial court and the appellate court on the matter coincide. 21
Public policy dictates that extraordinary diligence should be exercised by the members of the board
of canvassers in canvassing the results of the elections. Any error on their part would result in the
disenfranchisement of the voters. The Certificate of Canvass for senatorial candidates and its
supporting statements of votes prepared by the municipal board of canvassers are sensitive election
documents whose entries must be thoroughly scrutinized.22
In our review, the votes in the SOV should total 6,998. 23
As between the grand total of votes alleged to have been received by private complainant of 6,921
votes and statement of his actual votes received of 6,998 is a difference of 77 votes. The
discrepancy may be validly attributed to mistake or error due to fatigue. However, a decrease of
5,000 votes as reflected in the Statement of Votes and Certificate of Canvass is substantial, it cannot
be allowed to remain on record unchallenged, especially when the error results from the mere
transfer of totals from one document to another.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
sustaining petitioners conviction but increasing the minimum penalty in her sentence to one year
instead of six months isAFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 165842 November 29, 2005
EDUARDO P. MANUEL, Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:


Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CAG.R. CR No. 26877, affirming the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, Branch
3, convicting Eduardo P. Manuel of bigamy in Criminal Case No. 19562-R.
Eduardo was charged with bigamy in an Information filed on November 7, 2001, the accusatory
portion of which reads:
That on or about the 22nd day of April, 1996, in the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused EDUARDO P. MANUEL, being then
previously and legally married to RUBYLUS [GAA] and without the said marriage having been
legally dissolved, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously contract a second marriage
with TINA GANDALERA-MANUEL, herein complainant, who does not know the existence of the first
marriage of said EDUARDO P. MANUEL to Rubylus [Gaa].
CONTRARY TO LAW. 3
The prosecution adduced evidence that on July 28, 1975, Eduardo was married to Rubylus Gaa
before Msgr. Feliciano Santos in Makati, which was then still a municipality of the Province of
Rizal.4 He met the private complainant Tina B. Gandalera in Dagupan City sometime in January
1996. She stayed in Bonuan, Dagupan City for two days looking for a friend. Tina was then 21 years
old, a Computer Secretarial student, while Eduardo was 39. Afterwards, Eduardo went to Baguio
City to visit her. Eventually, as one thing led to another, they went to a motel where, despite Tinas
resistance, Eduardo succeeded in having his way with her. Eduardo proposed marriage on several
occasions, assuring her that he was single. Eduardo even brought his parents to Baguio City to meet
Tinas parents, and was assured by them that their son was still single.
Tina finally agreed to marry Eduardo sometime in the first week of March 1996. They were married
on April 22, 1996 before Judge Antonio C. Reyes, the Presiding Judge of the RTC of Baguio City,
Branch 61.5 It appeared in their marriage contract that Eduardo was "single."

The couple was happy during the first three years of their married life. Through their joint efforts, they
were able to build their home in Cypress Point, Irisan, Baguio City. However, starting 1999, Manuel
started making himself scarce and went to their house only twice or thrice a year. Tina was jobless,
and whenever she asked money from Eduardo, he would slap her.6 Sometime in January 2001,
Eduardo took all his clothes, left, and did not return. Worse, he stopped giving financial support.
Sometime in August 2001, Tina became curious and made inquiries from the National Statistics
Office (NSO) in Manila where she learned that Eduardo had been previously married. She secured
an NSO-certified copy of the marriage contract.7 She was so embarrassed and humiliated when she
learned that Eduardo was in fact already married when they exchanged their own vows. 8
For his part, Eduardo testified that he met Tina sometime in 1995 in a bar where she worked as a
Guest Relations Officer (GRO). He fell in love with her and married her. He informed Tina of his
previous marriage to Rubylus Gaa, but she nevertheless agreed to marry him. Their marital
relationship was in order until this one time when he noticed that she had a "love-bite" on her neck.

He then abandoned her. Eduardo further testified that he declared he was "single" in his marriage
contract with Tina because he believed in good faith that his first marriage was invalid. He did not
know that he had to go to court to seek for the nullification of his first marriage before marrying Tina.
Eduardo further claimed that he was only forced to marry his first wife because she threatened to
commit suicide unless he did so. Rubylus was charged with estafa in 1975 and thereafter
imprisoned. He visited her in jail after three months and never saw her again. He insisted that he
married Tina believing that his first marriage was no longer valid because he had not heard from
Rubylus for more than 20 years.
After trial, the court rendered judgment on July 2, 2002 finding Eduardo guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of bigamy. He was sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from six (6) years and ten (10)
months, as minimum, to ten (10) years, as maximum, and directed to indemnify the private
complainant Tina Gandalera the amount ofP200,000.00 by way of moral damages, plus costs of
suit.9
The trial court ruled that the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the
elements of bigamy under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. It declared that Eduardos belief,
that his first marriage had been dissolved because of his first wifes 20-year absence, even if true,
did not exculpate him from liability for bigamy. Citing the ruling of this Court in People v. Bitdu,10 the
trial court further ruled that even if the private complainant had known that Eduardo had been
previously married, the latter would still be criminally liable for bigamy.
Eduardo appealed the decision to the CA. He alleged that he was not criminally liable for bigamy
because when he married the private complainant, he did so in good faith and without any malicious
intent. He maintained that at the time that he married the private complainant, he was of the honest
belief that his first marriage no longer subsisted. He insisted that conformably to Article 3 of the
Revised Penal Code, there must be malice for one to be criminally liable for a felony. He was not
motivated by malice in marrying the private complainant because he did so only out of his
overwhelming desire to have a fruitful marriage. He posited that the trial court should have taken into
account Article 390 of the New Civil Code. To support his view, the appellant cited the rulings of this
Court inUnited States v. Pealosa11 and Manahan, Jr. v. Court of Appeals.12
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) averred that Eduardos defense of good faith and reliance
on the Courts ruling in United States v. Enriquez13 were misplaced; what is applicable is Article 41 of
the Family Code, which amended Article 390 of the Civil Code. Citing the ruling of this Court
in Republic v. Nolasco,14 the OSG further posited that as provided in Article 41 of the Family Code,
there is a need for a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse to enable the
present spouse to marry. Even assuming that the first marriage was void, the parties thereto should
not be permitted to judge for themselves the nullity of the marriage;
the matter should be submitted to the proper court for resolution. Moreover, the OSG maintained, the
private complainants knowledge of the first marriage would not afford any relief since bigamy is an
offense against the State and not just against the private complainant.
However, the OSG agreed with the appellant that the penalty imposed by the trial court was
erroneous and sought the affirmance of the decision appealed from with modification.
On June 18, 2004, the CA rendered judgment affirming the decision of the RTC with modification as
to the penalty of the accused. It ruled that the prosecution was able to prove all the elements of

bigamy. Contrary to the contention of the appellant, Article 41 of the Family Code should apply.
Before Manuel could lawfully marry the private complainant, there should have been a judicial
declaration of Gaas presumptive death as the absent spouse. The appellate court cited the rulings
of this Court in Mercado v. Tan15 and Domingo v. Court of Appeals16to support its ruling. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Decision promulgated on July 31, 2002 is
hereby MODIFIED to reflect, as it hereby reflects, that accused-appellant is sentenced to an
indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as
minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor as maximum. Said Decision is AFFIRMED in all other
respects.
SO ORDERED.17
Eduardo, now the petitioner, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, insisting that:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT RULED THAT
PETITIONERS FIRST WIFE CANNOT BE LEGALLY PRESUMED DEAD UNDER ARTICLE 390 OF
THE CIVIL CODE AS THERE WAS NO JUDICIAL DECLARATION OF PRESUMPTIVE DEATH AS
PROVIDED FOR UNDER ARTICLE 41 OF THE FAMILY CODE.
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR OF LAW WHEN IT AFFIRMED
THE AWARD OF PHP200,000.00 AS MORAL DAMAGES AS IT HAS NO BASIS IN FACT AND IN
LAW.18
The petitioner maintains that the prosecution failed to prove the second element of the felony, i.e.,
that the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his/her spouse is absent, the absent
spouse could not yet be presumed dead under the Civil Code. He avers that when he married
Gandalera in 1996, Gaa had been "absent" for 21 years since 1975; under Article 390 of the Civil
Code, she was presumed dead as a matter of law. He points out that, under the first paragraph of
Article 390 of the Civil Code, one who has been absent for seven years, whether or not he/she is still
alive, shall be presumed dead for all purposes except for succession, while the second paragraph
refers to the rule on legal presumption of death with respect to succession.
The petitioner asserts that the presumptive death of the absent spouse arises by operation of law
upon the satisfaction of two requirements: the
specified period and the present spouses reasonable belief that the absentee is dead. He insists
that he was able to prove that he had not heard from his first wife since 1975 and that he had no
knowledge of her whereabouts or whether she was still alive; hence, under Article 41 of the Family
Code, the presumptive death of Gaa had arisen by operation of law, as the two requirements of
Article 390 of the Civil Code are present. The petitioner concludes that he should thus be acquitted
of the crime of bigamy.
The petitioner insists that except for the period of absences provided for in Article 390 of the Civil
Code, the rule therein on legal presumptions remains valid and effective. Nowhere under Article 390

of the Civil Code does it require that there must first be a judicial declaration of death before the rule
on presumptive death would apply. He further asserts that contrary to the rulings of the trial and
appellate courts, the requirement of a judicial declaration of presumptive death under Article 41 of
the Family Code is only a requirement for the validity of the subsequent or second marriage.
The petitioner, likewise, avers that the trial court and the CA erred in awarding moral damages in
favor of the private complainant. The private complainant was a "GRO" before he married her, and
even knew that he was already married. He genuinely loved and took care of her and gave her
financial support. He also pointed out that she had an illicit relationship with a lover whom she
brought to their house.
In its comment on the petition, the OSG maintains that the decision of the CA affirming the
petitioners conviction is in accord with the law, jurisprudence and the evidence on record. To bolster
its claim, the OSG cited the ruling of this Court in Republic v. Nolasco.19
The petition is denied for lack of merit.
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, which defines and penalizes bigamy, reads:
Art. 349. Bigamy. The penalty of prision mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall
contract a second or subsequent marriage before the former marriage has been legally dissolved, or
before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment rendered
in the proper proceedings.
The provision was taken from Article 486 of the Spanish Penal Code, to wit:
El que contrajere Segundo o ulterior matrimonio sin hallarse legtimamente disuelto el anterior, ser
castigado con la pena de prision mayor. xxx
The reason why bigamy is considered a felony is to preserve and ensure the juridical tie of marriage
established by law.20 The phrase "or before the absent spouse had been declared presumptively
dead by means of a judgment rendered in the proper proceedings" was incorporated in the Revised
Penal Code because the drafters of the law were of the impression that "in consonance with the civil
law which provides for the presumption of death after an absence of a number of years, the judicial
declaration of presumed death like annulment of marriage should be a justification for bigamy."21
For the accused to be held guilty of bigamy, the prosecution is burdened to prove the felony: (a)
he/she has been legally married; and (b) he/she contracts a subsequent marriage without the former
marriage having been lawfully dissolved. The felony is consummated on the celebration of the
second marriage or subsequent marriage.22 It is essential in the prosecution for bigamy that the
alleged second marriage, having all the essential requirements, would be valid were it not for the
subsistence of the first marriage.23 Viada avers that a third element of the crime is that the second
marriage must be entered into with fraudulent intent (intencion fraudulente) which is an essential
element of a felony by dolo.24 On the other hand, Cuello Calon is of the view that there are only two
elements of bigamy: (1) the existence of a marriage that has not been lawfully dissolved; and (2) the
celebration of a second marriage. It does not matter whether the first marriage is void or voidable
because such marriages have juridical effects until lawfully dissolved by a court of competent
jurisdiction.25 As the Court ruled in Domingo v. Court of Appeals26 and Mercado v. Tan,27 under the
Family Code of the Philippines, the judicial declaration of nullity of a previous marriage is a defense.

In his commentary on the Revised Penal Code, Albert is of the same view as Viada and declared
that there are three (3) elements of bigamy: (1) an undissolved marriage; (2) a new marriage; and
(3) fraudulent intention constituting the felony of the act. 28 He explained that:
This last element is not stated in Article 349, because it is undoubtedly incorporated in the
principle antedating all codes, and, constituting one of the landmarks of our Penal Code, that, where
there is no willfulness there is no crime. There is no willfulness if the subject
believes that the former marriage has been dissolved; and this must be supported by very strong
evidence, and if this be produced, the act shall be deemed not to constitute a crime. Thus, a person
who contracts a second marriage in the reasonable and well-founded belief that his first wife is dead,
because of the many years that have elapsed since he has had any news of her whereabouts, in
spite of his endeavors to find her, cannot be deemed guilty of the crime of bigamy, because there is
no fraudulent intent which is one of the essential elements of the crime. 29
As gleaned from the Information in the RTC, the petitioner is charged with bigamy, a felony
by dolo (deceit). Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code provides that there is deceit when
the act is performed with deliberate intent. Indeed, a felony cannot exist without intent. Since a
felony by dolo is classified as an intentional felony, it is deemed voluntary.30 Although the words "with
malice" do not appear in Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, such phrase is included in the word
"voluntary."31
Malice is a mental state or condition prompting the doing of an overt act without legal excuse or
justification from which another suffers injury.32 When the act or omission defined by law as a felony
is proved to have been done or committed by the accused, the law presumes it to have been
intentional.33 Indeed, it is a legal presumption of law that every man intends the natural or probable
consequence of his voluntary act in the absence of proof to the contrary, and such presumption must
prevail unless a reasonable doubt exists from a consideration of the whole evidence. 34
For one to be criminally liable for a felony by dolo, there must be a confluence of both an evil act and
an evil intent. Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea.35
In the present case, the prosecution proved that the petitioner was married to Gaa in 1975, and
such marriage was not judicially declared a nullity; hence, the marriage is presumed to subsist. 36 The
prosecution also proved that the petitioner married the private complainant in 1996, long after the
effectivity of the Family Code.
The petitioner is presumed to have acted with malice or evil intent when he married the private
complainant. As a general rule, mistake of fact or good faith of the accused is a valid defense in a
prosecution for a felony by dolo; such defense negates malice or criminal intent. However, ignorance
of the law is not an excuse because everyone is presumed to know the law. Ignorantia legis
neminem excusat.
It was the burden of the petitioner to prove his defense that when he married the private complainant
in 1996, he was of the well-grounded belief
that his first wife was already dead, as he had not heard from her for more than 20 years since 1975.
He should have adduced in evidence a decision of a competent court declaring the presumptive
death of his first wife as required by Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Article 41 of
the Family Code. Such judicial declaration also constitutes proof that the petitioner acted in good
faith, and would negate criminal intent on his part when he married the private complainant and, as a

consequence, he could not be held guilty of bigamy in such case. The petitioner, however, failed to
discharge his burden.
The phrase "or before the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a
judgment rendered on the proceedings" in Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code was not an
aggroupment of empty or useless words. The requirement for a judgment of the presumptive death
of the absent spouse is for the benefit of the spouse present, as protection from the pains and the
consequences of a second marriage, precisely because he/she could be charged and convicted of
bigamy if the defense of good faith based on mere testimony is found incredible.
The requirement of judicial declaration is also for the benefit of the State. Under Article II, Section 12
of the Constitution, the "State shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social
institution." Marriage is a social institution of the highest importance. Public policy, good morals and
the interest of society require that the marital relation should be surrounded with every safeguard
and its severance only in the manner prescribed and the causes specified by law.37 The laws
regulating civil marriages are necessary to serve the interest, safety, good order, comfort or general
welfare of the community and the parties can waive nothing essential to the validity of the
proceedings. A civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over
transient ones; it enhances the welfare of the community.
In a real sense, there are three parties to every civil marriage; two willing spouses and an approving
State. On marriage, the parties assume new relations to each other and the State touching nearly on
every aspect of life and death. The consequences of an invalid marriage to the parties, to innocent
parties and to society, are so serious that the law may well take means calculated to ensure the
procurement of the most positive evidence of death of the first spouse or of the presumptive death of
the absent spouse38 after the lapse of the period provided for under the law. One such means is the
requirement of the declaration by a competent court of the presumptive death of an absent spouse
as proof that the present spouse contracts a subsequent marriage on a well-grounded belief of the
death of the first spouse. Indeed, "men readily believe what they wish to be true," is a maxim of the
old jurists. To sustain a second marriage and to vacate a first because one of the parties believed
the other to be dead would make the existence of the marital relation determinable, not by certain
extrinsic facts, easily capable of forensic ascertainment and proof, but by the subjective condition of
individuals.39 Only with such proof can marriage be treated as so dissolved as to permit second
marriages.40 Thus, Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code has made the dissolution of marriage
dependent not only upon the personal belief of parties, but upon certain objective facts easily
capable of accurate judicial cognizance,41 namely, a judgment of the presumptive death of the absent
spouse.
The petitioners sole reliance on Article 390 of the Civil Code as basis for his acquittal for bigamy is
misplaced.
Articles 390 and 391 of the Civil Code provide
Art. 390. After an absence of seven years, it being unknown whether or not, the absentee still lives,
he shall be presumed dead for all purposes, except for those of succession.
The absentee shall not be presumed dead for the purpose of opening his succession till after an
absence of ten years. If he disappeared after the age of seventy-five years, an absence of five years
shall be sufficient in order that his succession may be opened.

Art. 391. The following shall be presumed dead for all purposes, including the division of the estate
among the heirs:
(1) A person on board a vessel lost during a sea voyage, or an aeroplane which is missing, who has
not been heard of for four years since the loss of the vessel or aeroplane;
(2) A person in the armed forces who has taken part in war, and has been missing for four years;
(3) A person who has been in danger of death under other circumstances and his existence has not
been known for four years.
The presumption of death of the spouse who had been absent for seven years, it being unknown
whether or not the absentee still lives, is created by law and arises without any necessity of judicial
declaration.42 However, Article 41 of the Family Code, which amended the foregoing rules on
presumptive death, reads:
Art. 41. A marriage contracted by any person during the subsistence of a previous marriage shall be
null and void, unless before the celebration of the subsequent marriage, the prior spouse had been
absent for four consecutive years and the spouse present had a well-founded belief that the absent
spouse was already dead. In case of disappearance where there is danger of death under the
circumstances set forth in the provisions of Article 391 of the Civil Code, an absence of only two
years shall be sufficient.
For the purpose of contracting the subsequent marriage under the preceding paragraph, the spouse
present must institute a summary proceeding as provided in this Court for the declaration of
presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the effect of reappearance of the absent
spouse.43
With the effectivity of the Family Code,44 the period of seven years under the first paragraph of Article
390 of the Civil Code was reduced to four consecutive years. Thus, before the spouse present may
contract a subsequent marriage, he or she must institute summary proceedings for the declaration of
the presumptive death of the absentee spouse, 45 without prejudice to the effect of the reappearance
of the absentee spouse. As explained by this Court in Armas v. Calisterio:46
In contrast, under the 1988 Family Code, in order that a subsequent bigamous marriage may
exceptionally be considered valid, the following conditions must concur, viz.: (a) The prior spouse of
the contracting party must have been absent for four consecutive years, or two years where there is
danger of death under the circumstances stated in Article 391 of the Civil Code at the time of
disappearance; (b) the spouse present has a well-founded belief that the absent spouse is already
dead; and (c) there is, unlike the old rule, a judicial declaration of presumptive death of the absentee
for which purpose the spouse present can institute a summary proceeding in court to ask for that
declaration. The last condition is consistent and in consonance with the requirement of judicial
intervention in subsequent marriages as so provided in Article 41, in relation to Article 40, of the
Family Code.
The Court rejects petitioners contention that the requirement of instituting a petition for declaration
of presumptive death under Article 41 of the Family Code is designed merely to enable the spouse
present to contract a valid second marriage and not for the acquittal of one charged with bigamy.
Such provision was designed to harmonize civil law and Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, and

put to rest the confusion spawned by the rulings of this Court and comments of eminent authorities
on Criminal Law.
As early as March 6, 1937, this Court ruled in Jones v. Hortiguela47 that, for purposes of the marriage
law, it is not necessary to have the former spouse judicially declared an absentee before the spouse
present may contract a subsequent marriage. It held that the declaration of absence made in
accordance with the provisions of the Civil Code has for its sole purpose the taking of the necessary
precautions for the administration of the estate of the absentee. For the celebration of civil marriage,
however, the law only requires that the former spouse had been absent for seven consecutive years
at the time of the second marriage, that the spouse present does not know his or her former spouse
to be living, that such former spouse is generally reputed to be dead and the spouse present so
believes at the time of the celebration of the marriage.48 In In Re Szatraw,49 the Court declared that a
judicial declaration that a person is presumptively dead, because he or she had been unheard from
in seven years, being a presumption juris tantum only, subject to contrary proof, cannot reach the
stage of finality or become final; and that proof of actual death of the person presumed dead being
unheard from in seven years, would have to be made in another proceeding to have such particular
fact finally determined. The Court ruled that if a judicial decree declaring a person presumptively
dead because he or she had not been heard from in seven years cannot become final and executory
even after the lapse of the reglementary period within which an appeal may be taken, for such
presumption is still disputable and remains subject to contrary proof, then a petition for such a
declaration is useless, unnecessary, superfluous and of no benefit to the petitioner. The Court stated
that it should not waste its valuable time and be made to perform a superfluous and meaningless
act.50 The Court also took note that a petition for a declaration of the presumptive death of an absent
spouse may even be made in collusion with the other spouse.
In Lukban v. Republic of the Philippines,51 the Court declared that the words "proper proceedings" in
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code can only refer to those authorized by law such as Articles 390
and 391 of the Civil Code which refer to the administration or settlement of the estate of a deceased
person. In Gue v. Republic of the Philippines,52 the Court rejected the contention of the petitioner
therein that, under Article 390 of the Civil Code, the courts are authorized to declare the presumptive
death of a person after an absence of seven years. The Court reiterated its rulings in Szatraw,
Lukban and Jones.
Former Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino was of the view that "the provision of Article 349 or "before
the absent spouse has been declared presumptively dead by means of a judgment reached in the
proper proceedings" is erroneous and should be considered as not written. He opined that such
provision presupposes that, if the prior marriage has not been legally dissolved and the absent first
spouse has not been declared presumptively dead in a proper court proceedings, the subsequent
marriage is bigamous. He maintains that the supposition is not true.53 A second marriage is
bigamous only when the circumstances in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 83 of the Civil Code are not
present.54 Former Senator Ambrosio Padilla was, likewise, of the view that Article 349 seems to
require judicial decree of dissolution or judicial declaration of absence but even with such decree, a
second marriage in good faith will not constitute bigamy. He posits that a second marriage, if not
illegal, even if it be annullable, should not give rise to bigamy.55 Former Justice Luis B. Reyes, on the
other hand, was of the view that in the case of an absent spouse who could not yet be presumed
dead according to the Civil Code, the spouse present cannot be charged and convicted of bigamy in
case he/she contracts a second marriage.56

The Committee tasked to prepare the Family Code proposed the amendments of Articles 390 and
391 of the Civil Code to conform to Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, in that, in a case where a
spouse is absent for the requisite period, the present spouse may contract a subsequent marriage
only after securing a judgment declaring the presumptive death of the absent spouse to avoid being
charged and convicted of bigamy; the present spouse will have to adduce evidence that he had a
well-founded belief that the absent spouse was already dead. 57 Such judgment is proof of the good
faith of the present spouse who contracted a subsequent marriage; thus, even if the present spouse
is later charged with bigamy if the absentee spouse reappears, he cannot be convicted of the crime.
As explained by former Justice Alicia Sempio-Diy:
Such rulings, however, conflict with Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code providing that the present
spouse must first ask for a declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse in order not to be
guilty of bigamy in case he or she marries again.
The above Article of the Family Code now clearly provides that for the purpose of the present
spouse contracting a second marriage, he or she must file a summary proceeding as provided in the
Code for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee, without prejudice to the latters
reappearance. This provision is intended to protect the present spouse from a criminal prosecution
for bigamy under Art. 349 of the Revised Penal Code because with the judicial declaration that the
missing spouses presumptively dead, the good faith of the present spouse in contracting a second
marriage is already established.58
Of the same view is former Dean Ernesto L. Pineda (now Undersecretary of Justice) who wrote that
things are now clarified. He says judicial declaration of presumptive death is now authorized for
purposes of
remarriage. The present spouse must institute a summary proceeding for declaration of presumptive
death of the absentee, where the ordinary rules of procedure in trial will not be followed. Affidavits
will suffice, with possible clarificatory examinations of affiants if the Judge finds it necessary for a full
grasp of the facts. The judgment declaring an absentee as presumptively dead is without prejudice
to the effect of reappearance of the said absentee.
Dean Pineda further states that before, the weight of authority is that the clause "before the absent
spouse has been declared presumptively dead x x x" should be disregarded because of Article 83,
paragraph 3 of the Civil Code. With the new law, there is a need to institute a summary proceeding
for the declaration of the presumptive death of the absentee, otherwise, there is bigamy.59
According to Retired Supreme Court Justice Florenz D. Regalado, an eminent authority on Criminal
Law, in some cases where an absentee spouse is believed to be dead, there must be a judicial
declaration of presumptive death, which could then be made only in the proceedings for the
settlement of his estate.60 Before such declaration, it was held that the remarriage of the other
spouse is bigamous even if done in good faith.61 Justice Regalado opined that there were contrary
views because of the ruling in Jones and the provisions of Article 83(2) of the Civil Code, which,
however, appears to have been set to rest by Article 41 of the Family Code, "which requires a
summary hearing for the declaration of presumptive death of the absent spouse before the other
spouse can remarry."
Under Article 238 of the Family Code, a petition for a declaration of the presumptive death of an
absent spouse under Article 41 of the Family Code may be filed under Articles 239 to 247 of the
same Code.62

On the second issue, the petitioner, likewise, faults the trial court and the CA for awarding moral
damages in favor of the private complainant. The petitioner maintains that moral damages may be
awarded only in any of the cases provided in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, and bigamy is not one of
them. The petitioner asserts that the appellate court failed to apply its ruling in People v.
Bondoc,63 where an award of moral damages for bigamy was disallowed. In any case, the petitioner
maintains, the private complainant failed to adduce evidence to prove moral damages.
The appellate court awarded moral damages to the private complainant on its finding that she
adduced evidence to prove the same. The appellate court ruled that while bigamy is not included in
those cases enumerated in Article 2219 of the Civil Code, it is not proscribed from awarding moral
damages against the petitioner. The appellate court ruled that it is not bound by the following ruling
in People v. Bondoc:
... Pero si en dichos asuntos se adjudicaron daos, ello se debi indedublamente porque el articulo
2219 del Cdigo Civil de Filipinas autoriza la adjudicacin de daos morales en los delitos de
estupro, rapto, violacin, adulterio o concubinato, y otros actos lascivos, sin incluir en esta
enumeracin el delito de bigamia. No existe, por consiguiente, base legal para adjudicar aqu los
daos de P5,000.00 arriba mencionados.64
The OSG posits that the findings and ruling of the CA are based on the evidence and the law. The
OSG, likewise, avers that the CA was not bound by its ruling in People v. Rodeo.
The Court rules against the petitioner.
Moral damages include physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched
reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation, and similar injury. Though incapable of
pecuniary computation, moral damages may be recovered if they are the proximate result of the
defendants wrongful act or omission.65An award for moral damages requires the confluence of the
following conditions: first, there must be an injury, whether physical, mental or psychological, clearly
sustained by the claimant; second, there must be culpable act or omission factually
established; third, the wrongful act or omission of the defendant is the proximate cause of the injury
sustained by the claimant; and fourth, the award of damages is predicated on any of the cases
stated in Article 2219 or Article 2220 of the Civil Code. 66
Moral damages may be awarded in favor of the offended party only in criminal cases enumerated in
Article 2219, paragraphs 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Civil Code and analogous cases, viz.:
Art. 2219. Moral damages may be recovered in the following and analogous cases.
(1) A criminal offense resulting in physical injuries;
(2) Quasi-delicts causing physical injuries;
(3) Seduction, abduction, rape, or other lascivious acts;
(4) Adultery or concubinage;
(5) Illegal or arbitrary detention or arrest;

(6) Illegal search;


(7) Libel, slander or any other form of defamation;
(8) Malicious prosecution;
(9) Acts mentioned in article 309;
(10) Acts and actions referred to in articles 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34 and 35.
The parents of the female seduced, abducted, raped, or abused, referred to in No. 3 of this article,
may also recover moral damages.
The spouse, descendants, ascendants, and brothers and sisters may bring the action mentioned in
No. 9 of this article in the order named.
Thus, the law does not intend that moral damages should be awarded in all cases where the
aggrieved party has suffered mental anguish, fright, moral anxieties, besmirched reputation,
wounded feelings, moral shock, social humiliation and similar injury arising out of an act or omission
of another, otherwise, there would not have been any reason for the inclusion of specific acts in
Article 221967 and analogous cases (which refer to those cases bearing analogy or resemblance,
corresponds to some others or resembling, in other respects, as in form, proportion, relation, etc.) 68
Indeed, bigamy is not one of those specifically mentioned in Article 2219 of the Civil Code in which
the offender may be ordered to pay moral damages to the private complainant/offended party.
Nevertheless, the petitioner is liable to the private complainant for moral damages under Article 2219
in relation to Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code.
According to Article 19, "every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of
his act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith." This provision
contains what is commonly referred to as the principle of abuse of rights, and sets certain standards
which must be observed not only in the exercise of ones rights but also in the performance of ones
duties. The standards are the following: act with justice; give everyone his due; and observe honesty
and good faith. The elements for abuse of rights are: (a) there is a legal right or duty; (b) exercised in
bad faith; and (c) for the sole intent of prejudicing or injuring another.69
Article 20 speaks of the general sanctions of all other provisions of law which do not especially
provide for its own sanction. When a right is exercised in a manner which does not conform to the
standards set forth in the said provision and results in damage to another, a legal wrong is thereby
committed for which the wrongdoer must be responsible.70 If the provision does not provide a remedy
for its violation, an action for damages under either Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code would be
proper. Article 20 provides that "every person who, contrary to law, willfully or negligently causes
damage to another shall indemnify the latter for the same." On the other hand, Article 21 provides
that "any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals,
good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for damages." The latter provision
is adopted to remedy "the countless gaps in the statutes which leave so many victims of moral
wrongs helpless, even though they have actually suffered material and moral injury should
vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs which it is impossible for
human foresight to prove for specifically in the statutes." Whether or not the principle of abuse of

rights has been violated resulting in damages under Article 20 or Article 21 of the Civil Code or other
applicable provisions of law depends upon the circumstances of each case. 71
In the present case, the petitioner courted the private complainant and proposed to marry her. He
assured her that he was single. He even brought his parents to the house of the private complainant
where he and his parents made the same assurance that he was single. Thus, the private
complainant agreed to marry the petitioner, who even stated in the certificate of marriage that he
was single. She lived with the petitioner and dutifully performed her duties as his wife, believing all
the while that he was her lawful husband. For two years or so until the petitioner heartlessly
abandoned her, the private complainant had no inkling that he was already married to another
before they were married.
Thus, the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioners chicanery and heartless
deception, the fraud consisting not of a single act alone, but a continuous series of acts. Day by day,
he maintained the appearance of being a lawful husband to the private complainant, who
changed her status from a single woman to a married woman, lost the consortium, attributes and
support of a single man she could have married lawfully and endured mental pain and humiliation,
being bound to a man who it turned out was not her lawful husband. 72
The Court rules that the petitioners collective acts of fraud and deceit before, during and after his
marriage with the private complainant were willful, deliberate and with malice and caused injury to
the latter. That she did not sustain any physical injuries is not a bar to an award for moral damages.
Indeed, in Morris v. Macnab,73 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled:
xxx The defendant cites authorities which indicate that, absent physical injuries, damages for shame,
humiliation, and mental anguish are not recoverable where the actor is simply negligent. See
Prosser, supra, at p. 180; 2 Harper & James, Torts, 1031 (1956). But the authorities all recognize
that where the wrong is willful rather than negligent, recovery may be had for the ordinary, natural,
and proximate consequences though they consist of shame, humiliation, and mental anguish. See
Spiegel v. Evergreen Cemetery Co., 117 NJL 90, 94, 186 A 585 (Sup. Ct. 1936); Kuzma v. Millinery
Workers, etc., Local 24, 27 N.J. Super, 579, 591, 99 A.2d 833 (App. Div. 1953); Prosser, supra, at p.
38. Here the defendants conduct was not merely negligent, but was willfully and maliciously
wrongful. It was bound to result in shame, humiliation, and mental anguish for the plaintiff, and when
such result did ensue the plaintiff became entitled not only to compensatory but also to punitive
damages. See Spiegel v. Evergreen Cemetery Co., supra; Kuzma v Millinery Workers, etc., Local
24, supra. CF. Note, "Exemplary Damages in the Law of Torts," 70 Harv. L. Rev. 517 (1957). The
plaintiff testified that because of the defendants bigamous marriage to her and the attendant
publicity she not only was embarrassed and "ashamed to go out" but "couldnt sleep" but "couldnt
eat," had terrific headaches" and "lost quite a lot of weight." No just basis appears for judicial
interference with the jurys reasonable allowance of $1,000 punitive damages on the first count. See
Cabakov v. Thatcher, 37 N.J. Super 249, 117 A.2d 298 (App. Div.74 1955).
The Court thus declares that the petitioners acts are against public policy as they undermine and
subvert the family as a social institution, good morals and the interest and general welfare of society.
Because the private complainant was an innocent victim of the petitioners perfidy, she is not barred
from claiming moral damages. Besides, even considerations of public policy would not prevent her
from recovery. As held inJekshewitz v. Groswald:75

Where a person is induced by the fraudulent representation of another to do an act which, in


consequence of such misrepresentation, he believes to be neither illegal nor immoral, but which is in
fact a criminal offense, he has a right of action against the person so inducing him for damages
sustained by him in consequence of his having done such act. Burrows v. Rhodes, [1899] 1 Q.B.
816. In Cooper v. Cooper, 147 Mass. 370, 17 N.E. 892, 9 Am. St. Rep. 721, the court said that a
false representation by the defendant that he was divorced from his former wife, whereby the plaintiff
was induced to marry him, gave her a remedy in tort for deceit. It seems to have been assumed that
the fact that she had unintentionally violated the law or innocently committed a crime by cohabiting
with him would be no bar to the action, but rather that it might be a ground for enhancing her
damages. The injury to the plaintiff was said to be in her being led by the promise to give the
fellowship and assistance of a wife to one who was not her husband and to assume and act in a
relation and condition that proved to be false and ignominious. Damages for such an injury were
held to be recoverable in Sherman v. Rawson, 102 Mass. 395 and Kelley v. Riley, 106 Mass. 339,
343, 8 Am. Rep. 336.
Furthermore, in the case at bar the plaintiff does not base her cause of action upon any
transgression of the law by herself but upon the defendants misrepresentation. The criminal
relations which followed, innocently on her part, were but one of the incidental results of the
defendants fraud for which damages may be assessed.
[7] Actions for deceit for fraudulently inducing a woman to enter into the marriage relation have been
maintained in other jurisdictions. Sears v. Wegner, 150 Mich. 388, 114 N.W. 224, 17 L.R. A. (N.S.)
819; Larson v. McMillan, 99 Wash. 626, 170 P. 324; Blossom v. Barrett, 37 N.Y. 434, 97 Am. Dec.
747; Morril v. Palmer, 68 Vt. 1, 33 A. 829, 33 L.R.A. 411. Considerations of public policy would not
prevent recovery where the circumstances are such that the plaintiff was conscious of no moral
turpitude, that her illegal action was induced solely by the defendants misrepresentation, and that
she does not base her cause of action upon any transgression of the law by herself. Such
considerations
distinguish this case from cases in which the court has refused to lend its aid to the enforcement of a
contract illegal on its face or to one who has consciously and voluntarily become a party to an illegal
act upon which the cause of action is founded. Szadiwicz v. Cantor, 257 Mass. 518, 520, 154 N.E.
251, 49 A. L. R. 958.76
Considering the attendant circumstances of the case, the Court finds the award of P200,000.00 for
moral damages to be just and reasonable.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision of the Court of
Appeals isAFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 142773

January 28, 2003

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MARLON DELIM, LEON DELIM, MANUEL DELIM alias "BONG" (At Large), ROBERT DELIM (At
Large), and RONALD DELIM alias "BONG", accused-appellants.
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before the Court on automatic review is the Decision,1 dated January 14, 2000, of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 46, Urdaneta City, finding accused appellants Marlon Delim, Leon Delim and Ronald
Delim guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and sentencing them to suffer the
supreme penalty of death. The court also ordered accused-appellants to pay, jointly and severally,
the heirs of the victim the sums of P75,000.00 as moral damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary
damages.
Accused-appellants Marlon, Ronald and Leon, together with Manuel alias "Bong" and Robert, all
surnamed Delim, were indicted for murder under an Information dated May 4, 1999 which reads:
"That on or about January 23, 1999, in the evening at Brgy. Bila, Sison, Pangasinan, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with short
firearms barged-in and entered the house of Modesto Delim and once inside with intent to
kill, treachery, evident premedidation (sic), conspiring with one another, did then and there,
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously grab, hold, hogtie, gag with a piece of cloth, brought out
and abduct Modesto Delim, accused Leon Delim and Manuel Delim stayed in the house
guarded and prevented the wife and son of Modesto Delim from helping the latter, thereafter
with abuse of superior strength stabbed and killed said Modesto Delim, to the damage and
prejudice of his heirs.
CONTRARY to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No.
7659."2
Only accused-appellants Marlon (Bongbong), Leon and Ronald, all surnamed Delim, were
apprehended. Accused Robert and Manuel remain at-large.
At their arraignment, Marlon, Ronald and Leon, with the assistance of their counsel, pleaded not
guilty to the charge.
At the trial, the prosecution established the following relevant facts 3
Marlon, Manuel and Robert Delim are brothers. They are the uncles of Leon Delim and Ronald
Delim. Modesto Manalo Bantas, the victim, was an Igorot and a carpenter. He took the surname
Delim after he was "adopted" by the father of Marlon, Manuel and Robert. However, Modesto's wife,
Rita, an illiterate, and their 16-year old son, Randy, continued using Manalo Bantas as their
surname. Modesto, Rita and Randy considered Marlon, Robert, Ronald, Manuel and Leon as their
relatives. Manuel and Leon were the neighbors of Modesto. Marlon, Robert and Ronald used to visit
Modesto and his family. Modesto and his family and the Delim kins resided in Barangay Bila, Sison,
Pangasinan.
On January 23, 1999, at around 6:30 in the evening, Modesto, Rita and Randy were preparing to
have their supper in their home. Joining them were Modesto and Rita's two young grandchildren,
aged 5 and 7 years old. They were about to eat their dinner when Marlon, Robert and Ronald
suddenly barged into the house and closed the door. Each of the three intruders was armed with a

short handgun. Marlon poked his gun at Modesto while Robert and Ronald simultaneously grabbed
and hog-tied the victim. A piece of cloth was placed in the mouth of Modesto.4 Marlon, Robert and
Ronald herded Modesto out of the house on their way towards the direction of Paldit, Sison,
Pangasinan. Rita and Randy were warned by the intruders not to leave the house. Leon and
Manuel, who were also armed with short handguns, stayed put by the door to the house of Modesto
and ordered Rita and Randy to stay where they were. Leon and Manuel left the house of Modesto
only at around 7:00 a.m. the following day, January 24, 1999.
As soon as Leon and Manuel had left, Randy rushed to the house of his uncle, Darwin Nio, at Sitio
Labayog, informed the latter of the incident the night before and sought his help for the retrieval of
Modesto. Randy was advised to report the matter to the police authorities. However, Randy opted to
first look for his father. He and his other relatives scoured the vicinity to locate Modesto to no avail.
They proceeded to Paldit, Sison, Pangasinan, around 200 meters away from Modesto's house, to
locate Modesto but failed to find him there. On January 25, 1999, Randy and his relatives returned to
the housing project in Paldit, Sison, Pangasinan to locate Modesto but again failed to find him there.
On January 26, 1999, Randy reported the incident to the police authorities.
At around 3:00 in the afternoon of January 27, 1999, Randy, in the company of his relatives, Nida
Pucal, Pepito Pucal, Bernard Osias and Daniel Delim, returned to the housing project in Paldit,
Sison, Pangasinan and this time they found Modesto under thick bushes in a grassy area. He was
already dead. The cadaver was bloated and in the state of decomposition. It exuded a bad odor. Tiny
white worms swarmed over and feasted on the cadaver. Randy and his relatives immediately rushed
to the police station to report the incident and to seek assistance.
When informed of the discovery of Modesto's cadaver, the local chief of police and SPO2 Jovencio
Fajarito and other policemen rushed to the scene and saw the cadaver under the thick bushes.
Pictures were taken of the cadaver.5 Rita and Randy divulged to the police investigators the names
and addresses of Marlon, Ronald, Robert, Leon and Manuel, whom they claimed were responsible
for the death of Modesto. Rita and Randy were at a loss why the five malefactors seized Modesto
and killed him. Rita and Randy gave their respective sworn statements to the police
investigators.6 Police authorities proceeded to arrest Marlon, Ronald, Robert, Manuel and Leon but
failed to find them in their respective houses. The police officers scoured the mountainous parts of
Barangays Immalog and Labayog to no avail.
The cadaver was autopsied by Dr. Maria Fe L. De Guzman who prepared her autopsy report, which
reads:

"SIGNIFICANT EXTERNAL FINDINGS:

Body

both upper extremities are flexed

both lower extremities are flexed

(+) body decomposition

(+) worms coming out from injuries

10 x 10 ml. GSW, pre-auricular area, right

20 x 20 ml. GSW, mandibular areas, right

10 x 10 ml. GSW, maxillary area, right

10 x 10 ml. GSW, below middle nose, directed upward (POE)

30 x 40 ml. GSW, mid parieto occipital area (POEx)

2 x 1 cms. lacerated wound, right cheek

1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, axillary area, left

1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, lateral aspect M/3rd left arm

1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, lateral aspect D/3rd, left arm

1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, medial aspect M/3rd, left arm

1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound medial aspect D/3rd, left arm

#3; 1 x 1 cm. in line with each other, stabbed would, medial aspect, M/3rd, left
forearm

1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, medial aspect, D/3rd, left forearm

10 x 6 cms. Inflamed scrotum

penis inflamed

SIGNIFICANT INTERNAL FINDINGS:

no significant internal findings

CAUSE OF DEATH:

GUN SHOT WOUND, HEAD."7

The stab wounds sustained by Modesto on his left arm and forearm were defensive wounds. The
police investigators were able to confirm that Marlon, Ronald, Robert, Leon and Manuel had no
licenses for their firearms.8
Records of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Baguio City show that Marlon had
pending cases for robbery in the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City in Criminal Case No. 16193-R,
and for robbery in band in Criminal Cases Nos. 9801 and 9802 pending with the Regional Trial Court
in Urdaneta, Pangasinan.9
To exculpate themselves, Marlon, Ronald and Leon interposed denial and alibi. 10
Ronald claimed that on January 23, 1999, he, his wife and children, his mother, his brothers and
sisters were in their house at Asan Norte, Sison, Pangasinan about two kilometers away from
Modesto's house.
He denied having been in the house of Modesto on January 23, 1999 and of abducting and killing
him. He theorized that Rita and Randy falsely implicated him upon the coaching of Melchor Javier
who allegedly had a quarrel with him concerning politics.
Leon for his part averred that on January 23, 1999, he was in the house of his sister, Hermelita
Estabillo at No. 55-B, Salet, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte where he had been living since 1997 after
leaving Asan Norte, Sison, Pangasinan. Since then, he had been working for Sally Asuncion at a
hollow-block factory in that city where he was a stay-in worker.

Sally Asuncion corroborated Leon's alibi. She testified that Leon Delim never went home to his
hometown in Pangasinan during his employment. His sister, Hermelita Estabillo, likewise averred
that on January 23, 1999, his brother was at her house to give her his laundry. She claimed that the
distance between Laoag City and Bila, Sison, Pangasinan can be traversed in six hours by bus.
Leon presented a Barangay Certificate to prove that he was a resident of Laoag City from January
1998 up to February 1999.11
Marlon asserted that he was on vacation in Dumaguete City from December 26, 1998 up to January
29, 1999. During his stay there, he lived with his sister, Francisca Delim. Upon his return to Manila
on January 29, 1999, he immediately proceeded to Baguio to visit his cousin. Marlon denied setting
foot in Bila, Sison, Pangasinan after his sojourn in Dumaguete City.
The trial court rendered judgment finding accused-appellants guilty of murder. The dispositive
portion of the trial court's decision reads:
"WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION beyond reasonable doubt is hereby
rendered against Ronald Delim, Marlon Delim and Leon Delim (for) the commission of
Aggravated Murder, an offense defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended by R.A. 7659 and the Court sentences Marlon Delim, Ronald Delim and
Leon Delim to suffer the penalty of DEATH, to be implemented in the manner as provided for
by law; the Court likewise orders the accused, jointly and solidarily, to indemnify the heirs of
Modesto Delim the sum of P75,000.00 as moral damages, plus the amount of P25,000.00 as
exemplary damages.
The Branch Clerk of Court is hereby ordered to transmit the entire records of this case to the
Honorable Supreme Court, and to prepare the mittimus fifteen (15) days from date of
promulgation.
The Jail Warden, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Urdaneta District Jail, Urdaneta
City is hereby ordered to transmit the persons of Marlon, Ronald and Leon, all surnamed
Delim to the New Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa City, fifteen days from receipt of this decision.
SO ORDERED."12
The trial court appreciated treachery as a qualifying circumstance and of taking advantage of
superior strength, nighttime and use of unlicensed firearms as separate of aggravating
circumstances in the commission of the crime. Marlon, Ronald and Leon, in their appeal brief, assail
the decision alleging that:
"I
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS GUILTY
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER.
II
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT CONSPIRACY EXISTED IN THE CASE
AT BAR.
III

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO
ACCUSED-APPELLANTS' DEFENSE OF ALIBI."13
Before resolving the merits of the case at bar, we first resolve the matter of whether the crime
charged in the Information is murder or kidnapping. During the deliberation, some distinguished
members of the Court opined that under the Information, Marlon, Ronald and Leon are charged with
kidnapping under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code and not with murder in its aggravated form
in light of the allegation therein that the accused "willfully, unlawfully and feloniously grab(bed),
h(e)ld, hog-tie(d), gag(ged), with a piece of cloth, brought out and abduct(ed) Modesto Delim (while)
Leon Delim and Manuel Delim stayed in the house (and) guarded and prevented the wife and son of
Modesto Delim from helping the latter." They submit that the foregoing allegation constitutes the act
of deprivation of liberty of the victim, the gravamen in the crime of kidnapping. They contend that the
fact that the Information went further to charge accused with the killing of the victim should be of no
moment, the real nature of the criminal charge being determined not from the caption or the
preamble of the Information nor from the specification of the law alleged to have been violated
these being conclusions of law but by the actual recital of facts in the complaint or information.
They further submit that since the prosecution failed to prove motive on the part of Marlon, Ronald
and Leon to kill Modesto, they are not criminally liable for the death of the victim but only for
kidnapping the victim.
It bears stressing that in determining what crime is charged in an information, the material
inculpatory facts recited therein describing the crime charged in relation to the penal law violated are
controlling. Where the specific intent of the malefactor is determinative of the crime charged such
specific intent must be alleged in the information and proved by the prosecution. A decade ago, this
Court held in People v. Isabelo Puno, et al.,14 that for kidnapping to exist, there must be indubitable
proof that the actual specific intent of the malefactor is to deprive the offended party of his liberty and
not where such restraint of his freedom of action is merely an incident in the commission of another
offense primarily intended by the malefactor. This Court further held:
"x x x Hence, as early as United States vs. Ancheta, and consistently reiterated thereafter, it
has been held that the detention and/or forcible taking away of the victims by the accused,
even for an appreciable period of time but for the primary and ultimate purpose of killing
them, holds the offenders liable for taking their lives or such other offenses they committed in
relation thereto, but the incidental deprivation of the victims' liberty does not constitute
kidnapping or serious illegal detention."15
If the primary and ultimate purpose of the accused is to kill the victim, the incidental deprivation of
the victim's liberty does not constitute the felony of kidnapping but is merely a preparatory act to the
killing, and hence, is merged into, or absorbed by, the killing of the victim. 16 The crime committed
would either be homicide or murder.
What is primordial then is the specific intent of the malefactors as disclosed in the information or
criminal complaint that is determinative of what crime the accused is charged with that of murder
or kidnapping.
Philippine and American penal laws have a common thread on the concept of specific intent as an
essential element of specific intent crimes. Specific intent is used to describe a state of mind which
exists where circumstances indicate that an offender actively desired certain criminal consequences
or objectively desired a specific result to follow his act or failure to act. 17 Specific intent involves a
state of the mind. It is the particular purpose or specific intention in doing the prohibited act. Specific
intent must be alleged in the Information and proved by the state in a prosecution for a crime
requiring specific intent.18 Kidnapping and murder are specific intent crimes.

Specific intent may be proved by direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence. It may be inferred
from the circumstances of the actions of the accused as established by the evidence on record. 19
Specific intent is not synonymous with motive. Motive generally is referred to as the reason which
prompts the accused to engage in a particular criminal activity. Motive is not an essential element of
a crime and hence the prosecution need not prove the same. As a general rule, proof of motive for
the commission of the offense charged does not show guilt and absence of proof of such motive
does not establish the innocence of accused for the crime charged such as murder.20 The history of
crimes shows that murders are generally committed from motives comparatively trivial. 21 Crime is
rarely rational. In murder, the specific intent is to kill the victim. In kidnapping, the specific intent is to
deprive the victim of his/her liberty. If there is no motive for the crime, the accused cannot be
convicted for kidnapping.22 In kidnapping for ransom, the motive is ransom. Where accused kills the
victim to avenge the death of a loved one, the motive is revenge.
In this case, it is evident on the face of the Information that the specific intent of the malefactors in
barging into the house of Modesto was to kill him and that he was seized precisely to kill him with the
attendant modifying circumstances. The act of the malefactors of abducting Modesto was merely
incidental to their primary purpose of killing him. Moreover, there is no specific allegation in the
information that the primary intent of the malefactors was to deprive Modesto of his freedom or
liberty and that killing him was merely incidental to kidnapping.23Irrefragably then, the crime charged
in the Information is Murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and not Kidnapping under
Article 268 thereof.
The threshold issue that now comes to fore is whether or not the prosecution mustered the requisite
quantum of evidence to prove that Marlon, Ronald and Leon are guilty of murder.
In criminal prosecutions, the prosecution is burdened to prove the guilt of the accused beyond cavil
of doubt. The prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not on the weakness of
the evidence of the accused. The proof against the accused must survive the test of reason; the
strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment.24
In the case at bar, the prosecution was burdened to prove the corpus delicti which consists of two
things: first, the criminal act and second, defendant's agency in the commission of the act. 25 Wharton
says that corpus delictiincludes two things: first, the objective; second, the subjective element of
crimes.26 In homicide (by dolo) and in murder cases, the prosecution is burdened to prove: (a) the
death of the party alleged to be dead; (b) that the death was produced by the criminal act of some
other than the deceased and was not the result of accident, natural cause or suicide; and (c) that
defendant committed the criminal act or was in some way criminally responsible for the act which
produced the death.27 To prove the felony of homicide or murder, there must be incontrovertible
evidence, direct or circumstantial, that the victim was deliberately killed (with malice); in other words,
that there was intent to kill. Such evidence may consist inter alia in the use of weapons by the
malefactors, the nature, location and number of wounds sustained by the victim and the words
uttered by the malefactors before, at the time or immediately after the killing of the victim. If the
victim dies because of a deliberate act of the malefactor, intent to kill is conclusively presumed.
The prosecution is burdened to prove corpus delicti beyond reasonable doubt either by direct
evidence or by circumstantial or presumptive evidence. 28
In the case at bar, the prosecution adduced the requisite quantum of proof of corpus delicti. Modesto
sustained five (5) gunshot wounds. He also sustained seven (7) stab wounds, 29 defensive in nature.
The use by the malefactors of deadly weapons, more specifically handguns and knives, in the killing
of the victim as well as the nature, number and location of the wounds sustained by said victim are

evidence of the intent by the malefactors to kill the victim with all the consequences flowing
therefrom.30 As the State Supreme Court of Wisconsin held inCupps v. State:31
"This rule, that every person is presumed to contemplate the ordinary and natural
consequences of his own acts, is applied even in capital cases. Because men generally act
deliberately and by the determination of their own will, and not from the impulse of blind
passion, the law presumes that every man always thus acts, until the contrary appears.
Therefore, when one man is found to have killed another, if the circumstances of the
homicide do not of themselves show that it was not intended, but was accidental, it is
presumed that the death of the deceased was designed by the slayer; and the burden of
proof is on him to show that it was otherwise."
The prosecution did not present direct evidence to prove the authors of the killing of Modesto. It
relied on circumstantial evidence to discharge its burden of proving the guilt of accused-appellants of
murder. Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of collateral facts and circumstances from which
the existence of the main fact may be inferred according to reason and common experience. 32 What
was once a rule of account respectability is now entombed in Section 4, Rule 133 of the Revised
Rules of Evidence which states that circumstantial evidence, sometimes referred to as indirect or
presumptive evidence, is sufficient as anchor for a judgment of conviction if the following requisites
concur:
"x x x if (a) there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are
derived have been established; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as
to warrant a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt."33
The prosecution is burdened to prove the essential events which constitute a compact mass of
circumstantial evidence, and the proof of each being confirmed by the proof of the other, and all
without exception leading by mutual support to but one conclusion: the guilt of accused for the
offense charged.34 For circumstantial evidence to be sufficient to support a conviction, all the
circumstances must be consistent with each other, consistent with the hypothesis that accused is
guilty and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is innocent, and with every other
rational hypothesis except that of guilt.35 If the prosecution adduced the requisite circumstantial
evidence to prove the guilt of accused beyond reasonable doubt, the burden of evidence shifts to the
accused to controvert the evidence of the prosecution.
In the present case, the prosecution mustered the requisite quantum of circumstantial evidence to
prove that accused-appellants, in confabulation with their co-accused, conspired to kill and did kill
Modesto:
1. Randy Bantas testified that Marlon and Ronald barged into the house of Modesto, each armed
with a handgun. Marlon poked his gun on Modesto while Ronald hog-tied Modesto. They then
seized Modesto and herded him out of his house:
"FISCAL TOMBOC: What were you doing then at that time in your house?
A

We were eating, sir.

You said we, who were your companions eating then at that time?

My father, my mother and the two children and myself, sir.

Q
While taking your supper that time, do you recall if there was anything unusual that
happened at that time?
A

When we were about to start to eat three armed men entered our house.

Do you know these three armed men who entered your house?

Yes, sir.

Who are they, name them one by one?

Marlon Delim, Robert Delim and Ronald Delim.

Are these three persons inside the courtroom now?

Two of them, sir.

Who are these two who are inside the courtroom?

Marlon and Ronald, sir.

Will you please stand up and point to them?

A
(Witness is pointing to a person seated on the bench inside the courtroom, who, when
his name was asked answered Marlon Delim. Likewise, witness is pointing unto a person
seated on the bench inside the courtroom, who, when his name was asked he answered
Ronald Delim).
Q
You said that these two armed persons entered your house, what kind of arm were
they carrying at that time?
A

Short handgun, sir.

Q
When these three armed persons whom you have mentioned, armed with short
firearms, what did they do then when they entered your house?
A

They took my father, sir.

Who took your father?

Marlon Delim, Robert Delim and Ronald Delim, sir.

When these three persons took your father, what did you do then?

None, sir.

COURT: How did they get your father?


A

They poked a gun and brought him outside the house, sir.

FISCAL TOMBOC: Who poked a gun?


A

Marlon Delim, sir.

Again, Mr. Witness, will you point to the person who poked a gun?

(Witness is pointing to Malon (sic) Delim, one of the accused).

After bringing your father out from your house, what transpired next?

Manuel Delim and Leon Delim said, 'Stay in your house,' and guarded us.

COURT: You said your father was taken out, who?


A

Marlon, Robert and Ronald, sir.

FISCAL TOMBOC: Where did these three persons bring your father?
A

I do not know where they brought my father, sir.

COURT: Was your father taken inside your house or outside?


A

Inside our house, sir.

You said that Marlon poked a gun at your father, is that correct?

Yes, sir.

What did Ronald and Robert do while Marlon was poking his gun to your father?

Ronald and Robert were the ones who pulled my father out, sir." 36

Randy's account of the incident was corroborated by his mother, Rita, who testified:
"PROSECUTION TOMBOC: You said during the last hearing that on January 23, 1999 at
around 6:30 in the evening while preparing for your supper three (3) armed men entered
inside your house, who were these three (3) men who entered your house?
A

I know, Marlon, Bongbong and Robert, sir.

ATTY. FLORENDO: We just make of record that the witness is taking her time to answer,
Your Honor.
PROSECUTOR TOMBOC: You said that Marlon Delim, Robert Delim and Bongbong entered
your house, are these three (3) persons who entered your house in Court now?
A

They are here except the other one, sir.

Will you please step down and point to the persons who entered your house?

A
Witness is pointing to Marlon Delim, Robert Delim is not in Court and Bongbong is
Ronald Delim.
Q

After these three (3) armed men entered your house, what happened then?

My husband was brought out, sir.

What is the name of your husband?

Modesto Delim, sir."37

2. Randy said that when Marlon and Ronald barged into their house, Leon, armed with a handgun,
acted as a lookout when he stood guard by the door of the house of Modesto and remained thereat
until 7:00 a.m. of the next day:
"FISCAL TOMBOC: When your father was pulled out from your house by these three
persons, what did you and your mother do while these three persons were taking out of your
house?
A

We did not do anything because Manuel and Leon Delim guarded us.

COURT: Where, in your house?


A

Yes, sir.

FISCAL TOMBOC: From that very time that your father was pulled out by these three
persons Marlon, Robert and Ronal (sic), where were Leon and Manuel then?
A

They were at the door, sir.

COURT: Why do you know that they were guarding you?


A

Because they were at the door, sir.

FISCAL TOMBOC: What was their appearance that time when these two persons were
guarding you, these Leon and Manuel?
A

They were armed, sir.

What do you mean by armed?

They have gun, sir.

What kind of firearm?

Short firearm, sir.

By the way, where are these Leon and Manuel now, if you know?

Leon is here, sir.

About Manuel?

None, sir.

Will you please stand up and point at Leon, Mr. Witness?

A
(Witness pointed to a person seated on the bench inside the courtroom, who when his
name was asked, answered, Leon Delim)."38
3. Rita and Randy were ordered by Leon not to leave the house as Ronald and Marlon left the house
with Modesto in tow. Rita and Randy were detained in their house up to 7:00 a.m. of January 24,
1999 to prevent them from seeking help from their relatives and police authorities.
4. Randy likewise testified that on January 27, 1999, at about 3:00 p.m., the cadaver of Modesto was
found under the thick bushes in a grassy area in the housing project located about 200 meters away
from the house of Modesto. The cadaver exuded bad odor and was already in the state of
decomposition:
"Q
A

So what did you do then on January 27, where did you look for your father?
The same place and at 3:00 o'clock P.M., we were able to find my father.

COURT: Where?
A

At the housing project at Paldit, Sison, Pangasinan, sir.

FISCAL TOMBOC: Do you have companions at that time when you were able to look for
your father on January 27, 1999 at 3:00 o'clock P.M.?
A

Yes, sir.

Who?

My Aunt, sir.

What is the name of your Aunt?

Nida Pucal, sir.

Who else?

Pepito Pucal, Bernard Osias and Daniel Delim, sir.

COURT: When you found your father, what was his condition?
A

He was dead, sir.

COURT: Go ahead.

FISCAL TOMBOC: You said that he was already dead, what was his appearance then when
you saw him dead?
A

He has bad odor, sir, in the state of decompsition (sic)."39

The testimony of Randy was corroborated by Dr. de Guzman who testified that the cadaver of
Modesto was in a state of decomposition, with tiny white worms crawling from his wounds, and that
his penis and scrotum were inflamed. The victim sustained five gunshot wounds and defensive
wounds on the left arm and forearm:
"PROS. TOMBOC:
Q

Will you please tell the Honorable Court your findings, Doctora?

WITNESS:
A
First finding: Upon seeing the cadaver, this is the position of the body, both upper
extremities are flexed and both lower extremities are flexed (Nakakukot).
Q
How many days had already elapsed when you autopsied the cadaver of the victim,
Doctora?
A

Four (4) days upon the recovery of the body, sir.

And what was your findings Doctora?

A
The body was already under the state of decomposition, sir, with foul odor and there
were so many worms coming out from the injuries, there were tiny white worms, sir.
Q

What else did you observe Doctora?

A
Upon seeing the cadaver I asked the relative to refer it to the NBI sir. Actually the
victim was an igorot (sic) and they have tradition that they will bury immediately. Whether
they like it or not I should do it, sir.
Q

What else Doctora?

And the penis was inflammed (sic), the scrotum was also inflammed (sic), sir.

And for the head injuries there was 10 x 10 ml. GSW pre-auricular area, right; there was also
20 ml x 20 ml. GSW, mandibular area, right; I cannot also determine the exit.
Q

So there were two (2) gunshot wounds (GSW) Doctora?

Yes sir.

And there was also 10 x 10 ml. GSW, maxillary area, right; there was also 10 x 10 ml. GSW,
below middle nose, directed upward (POE); and there was also 30 x 40 ml. GSW, mid
parieto-occipital area (POEx).

How many all in all are the gunshot wound?

Five (5) sir.


And also there was 2 x 1 cms. Lacerated wound, right cheek; 1 x 1 cm. stabbed
wound, axillary area, left; 1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, lateral aspect M/3rd, left arm; 1 x
1 cm. stabbed wound lateral aspect D/3rd, left arm; 1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, medial
aspect M/3rd, left arm; 1 x 1 cm. stabbed wound, medial aspect D/3rd, left arm; and
#3; 1 x 1 cm. in line with each other, stabbed wound, medial aspect, M/3rd, left
forearm.

How many stabbed wound are there Doctora?

There were seven (7) stabbed wounds, sir.

Those stabbed wounds were defensive wounds, Doctora?

Yes sir."40

The state of decomposition of the cadaver, with tiny white worms swarming and feasting on it and
the distention of his scrotum and penis are evidence that the cadaver was in the stage of
putrefaction and that the victim had been dead for a period ranging from three to six
days.41 Admittedly, there are variant factors determinative of the exact death of the victim. An equally
persuasive authority states:

"Chronological Sequence of Putrefactive Changes Occurring in Tropical


Region:

Time Since
Death

Condition of the Body

48 hours

Ova of flies seen. Trunk bloated. Face discolored and


swollen. Blisters present. Moving maggots seen

72 hours

Whole body grossly swollen and disfigured. Hair and nails


loose. Tissues soft and discolored."42

The lapse of two or three to four days from the seizure of the victim in the evening of January 23,
1999 to the discovery of his cadaver which was already in the state of putrefaction in the afternoon
of January 27, 1999, about 200 meters away from his house, is consistent with and confirmatory of
the contention of the prosecution that the victim was killed precisely by the very malefactors who
seized him on January 23, 1999.

5. When police authorities went to the residences of all the malefactors, the latter had flown the coop
and were nowhere to be found:
"COURT: In connection with this case, you investigated the wife and son of Modesto Delim?
A

Yes, sir.

In the course of the investigation did you come to know who were the suspects?

A
Yes, sir, she elaborated that the suspects were their neighbors, Marlon Delim and his
brothers, sir.
Q

What are the names of the brothers?

Manuel Delim, Leon Delim I cannot remember the others, sir.

Q
By reason of that information were you able to apprehend any of them for
investigation?
A

No, sir.

Why?

A
Because when we were dispatched by the Chief of Police no Delim brothers could be
found, they all left the place, sir.
Q

In what place did you look for the brothers Delim?

Within the vicinity, sir.

In what place?

A
Brgy. Bila and the place where the crime was committed in Brgy. Bila and the place
where the cadaver was found in Paldit, sir.
Q

Where did you look for the Delim brothers?

Nearby barangays, Immalog, sir.

Wherelse (sic)?

Labayog, Sison, sir.

Wherelse?

In mountainous part of Immalog, part of Tuba Benguet, sir.

What was the result?

Negative result, sir."43

6. Leon was the neighbor of Modesto and Rita while Marlon and Ronald used to go to the house of
Modesto and Rita:
"COURT: These Leon and Manuel Delim are they known to you prior to that day, January 23,
1999?
A

Yes, sir, I know them.

Why do you know Manuel and Leon prior to January 23, 1999?

They are my neighbors, sir.

Q
How about Marlon, Robert and Bongbong do you know them before January 23,
1999?
A

I know them, sir.

Why do you know them?

They used to go to our house, sir.

Q
I noticed that Marlon, Bongbong, Robert, Manuel and Leon are all Delims and your
husband's name is Modesto Delim are they related with each other?
A

Yes, sir."44

The sudden disappearance of Marlon, Ronald and Leon from their houses in Barangay Bila, Sison is
strong circumstantial evidence of their guilt for the death of Modesto. Although flight after the
commission of an offense does not create a legal presumption of guilt, nevertheless, the same is
admissible in evidence against them and if not satisfactorily explained in a manner consistent with
their innocence, will tend to show that they, in fact, killed Modesto. 45
It is true that the prosecution failed to prove motive on the part of the malefactors to abduct and kill
Modesto. Indeed, Randy and Rita testified that they were not aware of any misunderstanding or
grudge between Modesto on the one hand and Marlon, Ronald and Leon and their co-accused on
the other before the incident, or any motivation on the part of the three malefactors to cause harm to
Modesto. Nonetheless, it cannot thereby be concluded that a person or persons other than Marlon,
Ronald and Leon were criminally responsible for the death of the victim. It is a matter of judicial
notice that nowadays persons have killed or committed serious crimes for no reason at all. 46 In this
case, the inscrutable facts are that Marlon and Ronald, each of whom was armed with a handgun,
forcibly took Modesto from his house at the gunpoint, hog-tied, put a piece of cloth in his mouth and
after Ronald and Marlon had left the house with Modesto in tow, Rita heard three gunshots or so and
the cadaver of Modesto was found concealed under the bushes and already in a state of
putrefaction in the afternoon of January 27, 1999. Modesto sustained several gunshot wounds and
died because of a gunshot wound on the head. The criminal acts and the connection of Marlon,
Ronald and Leon with said acts having been proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt,
the act itself furnishes the evidence, that to its perpetration there was some causes or influences
moving the mind.47 The remarkable tapestry intricately woven by the prosecution should not be
trashed simply because the malefactors had no motive to kill Modesto.

Ranged against the evidence of the prosecution, the burden of evidence shifted on Marlon, Ronald
and Leon to rebut the same and explain what happened to the victim after taking him from his house
in the evening of January 23, 1999. They may have freed the victim shortly after taking him, or the
victim may have been able to escape and that thereafter a person or some other persons may have
killed him. However, Marlon, Ronald and Leon failed to give any explanation. Instead, they merely
denied having seized and killed the victim and interposed alibi as their defense.
Leon is equally guilty for the death of Modesto because the evidence on record shows that he
conspired with accused-appellants Marlon and Ronald and accused Robert and Manuel in killing the
victim.
There is conspiracy when two or more persons agree to commit a felony and decide to commit
it.48 Conspiracy must be proven with the same quantum of evidence as the felony itself, more
specifically by proof beyond reasonable doubt. Conspiracy is not presumed. It may be proved by
direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence. Conspiracy is deducible from the acts of the
malefactors before, during and after the commission of the crime which are indicative of a joint
purpose, concerted action and concurrence of sentiment. 49 To establish conspiracy, it is not essential
that there be proof as to the existence of a previous agreement to commit a crime. 50It is sufficient if,
at the time of the commission of the crime, the accused had the same purpose and were united in its
execution. If conspiracy is established, the act of one is deemed the act of all. It matters not who
among the accused actually shot and killed the victim. 51 This is based on the theory of a joint or
mutual agency ad hoc for the prosecution of the common plan:
"x x x The acts and declarations of an agent, within the scope of his authority, are considered
and treated as the acts and declarations of his principal. 'What is so done by an agent, is
done by the principal, through him, as his mere instrument.' Franklin Bank of Baltimore v.
Pennsylvania D. & M. Steam Navigation Co., 11 G. & J. 28, 33 (1839). 'If the conspiracy be
proved to have existed, or rather if evidence be given to the jury of its existence, the acts of
one in furtherance of the common design are the acts of all; and whatever one does in
furtherance of the common design, he does as the agent of the co-conspirators.' R. v.
O'Connell, 5 St.Tr. (N.S.) 1, 710."52
In the eyes of the law, conspirators are one man, they breathe one breath, they speak one voice,
they wield one arm and the law says that the acts, words and declaration of each, while in the
pursuit of the common design, are the acts, words and declarations of all. 53
In the case at bar, Marlon, Ronald and Leon arrived together in the house of Modesto, each armed
with a handgun. Marlon and Ronald barged into said house while Leon stood guard by the door
thereof. After Marlon and Ronald had left with Modesto in tow, Leon stood by the door and warned
Randy and Rita not to leave the house. Leon stood guard by the door of the house until 7:00 a.m. of
January 24, 1999 when he left the house. The overt acts of all the malefactors were so synchronized
and executed with precision evincing a preconceived plan or design of all the malefactors to achieve
a common purpose, namely the killing of Modesto. Irrefragably, the tasks assigned to Leon in the
commission of the crime were (a) to act as a lookout; (b) to ensure that Rita and Randy remain in
their house to prevent them from seeking assistance from police authorities and their relatives before
their mission to kill Modesto shall have been a fait accompli as well as the escape of Marlon and
Ronald.54 Patently, Leon, a lookout for the group, is guilty of the killing of Modesto. 55 Leon may not
have been at the situs criminis when Modesto was killed by Marlon and Ronald nevertheless he is a
principal by direct participation.56 If part of a crime has been committed in one place and part in
another, each person concerned in the commission of either part is liable as principal. No matter how
wide may be the separation of the conspirators, if they are all engaged in a common plan for the
execution of a felony and all take their part in furtherance of the common design, all are liable as

principals. Actual presence is not necessary if there is a direct connection between the actor and the
crime.57
Ronald, Marlon and Leon, however, assail the testimonies of Randy and Rita alleging that the same
were marred by inconsistencies.
1. Randy initially stated that he did not know where the assailants brought his father. Later
however, Randy claimed that the malefactors proceeded to the direction of Paldit, Sison,
Pangasinan;
2. Rita on the other hand identified Leon, Marlon and Ronald as those who barged into their
house. She later changed her testimony and declared that it was Robert, together with
Marlon and Ronald who barged into the house;
3. Rita likewise testified that two men stood outside the house guarding them. Later, she
testified that after the three men brought out the victim, the two other accused entered the
house and guarded them there;
4. Rita claimed that she went out to look for her husband the next day, or on January 25,
1999, and she was accompanied by her son Randy. However, Randy testified that he was
alone when he looked for his father from January 24 to 26, 1999.58
We do not agree with Marlon, Ronald and Leon. Case law has it that the findings of facts of the trial
court, its calibration of the collective testimonies of witnesses and its assessment of the probative
weight thereof and its conclusions culled from its findings are accorded by the appellate court great
respect, if not conclusive effect, because of its unique advantage of observing at close range the
demeanor, deportment and conduct of the witnesses as they give their testimonies before the court.
In the present case, the trial court gave credence and full probative weight to the testimonies of the
witnesses of the prosecution. Moreover, there is no evidence on record that Randy and Rita were
moved by any improper or ill motive in testifying against the malefactors and the other accused;
hence, their testimonies must be given full credit and probative weight. 59 The inconsistencies in the
testimonies of Rita and Randy do not render them incredible or their testimonies barren of probative
weight. It must be borne in mind that human memory is not as unerring as a photograph and a
person's sense of observation is impaired by many factors including the shocking effect of a crime. A
truth-telling witness is not always expected to give an error-free testimony considering the lapse of
time and the treachery of human memory. What is primordial is that the mass of testimony jibes on
material points, the slight clashing of statements dilute neither the witnesses' credibility nor the
veracity of his testimony.60 Variations on the testimony of witnesses on the same side with respect to
minor, collateral or incidental matters do not impair the weight of their united testimony to the
prominent facts.61 Inconsistencies on minor and trivial matters only serve to strengthen rather than
weaken the credibility of witnesses for they erase the suspicion of rehearsed testimony. 62
Moreover, the testimony of a witness should be construed in its entirety and not in truncated terms
and the true meaning of answers to isolated questions propounded to a witness is to be ascertained
by due consideration of all the questions propounded to the witness and his answers thereto. 63
Randy's testimony that he did know where the malefactors brought his father is not inconsistent with
his testimony that Ronald and Marlon brought his father towards the direction of Paldit, Sison,
Pangasinan. Randy may not have known the destination of accused-appellants but he saw the
direction to which they went. While it may be true that when asked to identify the three who barged
into their house, Rita pointed to Leon as one of them, however, Rita had been consistent throughout

her testimony that those who barged into their house were Ronald and Marlon. Leon's counsel never
cross-examined Rita and impeached her testimony on her identification of Leon as one of those who
barged into their house to give her an opportunity to explain her perceived inconsistency
conformably with Rule 132, Section 13, of the Revised Rules of Evidence which reads:
"Before a witness can be impeached by evidence that he has made at other times
statements inconsistent with his present testimony, the statements must be related to him,
with the circumstances of the times and places and the persons present, and he must be
asked whether he made such statements, and if so, allowed to explain them. If the
statements be in writing they must be shown to the witness before any question is put to him
concerning them."64
Hence, the presentation of the inconsistent statements made by Rita is insufficient for the desired
impeachment of her.65 As to whether Rita and Randy were together in looking for Modesto or Leon
merely stood guard by the door of the house or entered the house are inconsequential. The fact is
that Leon stood guard throughout the night to prevent Rita and Randy from seeking assistance for
the seizure and killing of Modesto.
This Court is convinced, as the trial court was, that the respective testimonies of Randy and Rita
bear the earmarks of truth and sincerity. Despite intense and grueling cross-examination, they
responded with consistency upon material details that could only come from a firsthand knowledge
of the shocking events which unfolded before their eyes. The Court thus finds no cogent reason to
disregard the findings of the trial court regarding their credibility.
Marlon, Ronald and Leon contend that the trial court committed a reversible error in not giving
credence and probative weight to their evidence to prove their defense of alibi. They aver that their
collective evidence to prove their defense is strong.
We do not agree. Case law has it that the defense of alibi is one of the weakest of defenses in
criminal prosecution because the same is easy to concoct between relatives, friends and even those
not related to the offender.66 It is hard for the prosecution to disprove. For alibi to merit approbation
by the trial court and this Court, Marlon, Ronald and Leon are burdened to prove with clear and
convincing evidence that they were in a place other than the situs criminis at the time of the
commission of the crime; that it was physically impossible for them to have committed the said
crime.67 They failed to discharge their burden. Moreover, Rita and Randy positively and
spontaneously identified Marlon, Ronald and Leon as the culprits. The house of Ronald, where he
claimed he was when the crime was committed, was only two kilometers away from the house of
Modesto and can be negotiated by a tricycle. Leon failed to adduce any documentary evidence to
prove his employment by Sally Asuncion. The barefaced fact that he was a resident of Laoag City
does not constitute proof that he was in Laoag City on the day of the commission of the crime. With
respect to Marlon, he failed to adduce evidence aside from his self-serving testimony that he resided
in, left Dumaguete City and arrived in Manila on January 29, 1999.
The trial court convicted Marlon, Ronald and Leon of murder with the qualifying circumstance of
treachery in the killing of Modesto. The trial court likewise appreciated nighttime and abuse of
superior strength and the use of unlicensed firearms as separate aggravating circumstances. The
Office of the Solicitor General contends that indeed treachery was attendant in the killing of Modesto.
Hence, Marlon, Ronald and Leon are guilty of murder defined in and penalized by Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code.
The Court however finds that Marlon, Ronald and Leon are guilty only of homicide defined in and
penalized by Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.

Qualifying circumstances such as treachery and abuse of superior strength must be alleged and
proved clearly and conclusively as the crime itself. Mere conjectures, suppositions or presumptions
are utterly insufficient and cannot produce the effect of qualifying the crime. 68 As this Court held: "No
matter how truthful these suppositions or presumptions may seem, they must not and cannot
produce the effect of aggravating the condition of defendant."69 Article 14, paragraph 16 of the
Revised Penal Code provides that there is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes
against the person, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly
and especially to insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the
offended party might make. For treachery to be appreciated as a qualifying circumstance, the
prosecution is burdened to prove the following elements: (a) the employment of means of execution
which gives the person attacked no opportunity to defend himself or retaliate; (b) the means of
execution is deliberately or consciously adopted. 70 Although the victim may have been defenseless
at the time he was seized but there is no evidence as to the particulars of how he was assaulted and
killed, treachery cannot be appreciated against the accused. 71 In this case, the victim was
defenseless when seized by Marlon and Ronald. However, the prosecution failed to present any
witness or conclusive evidence that Modesto was defenseless immediately before and when he was
attacked and killed. It cannot be presumed that although he was defenseless when he was seized
the victim was in the same situation when he was attacked, shot and stabbed by the malefactors. To
take advantage of superior strength means to purposely use force that is out of proportion to the
means of defense available to the person attacked. 72 What is primordial, this Court held in People v.
Rogelio Francisco73 isthat the assailants deliberately took advantage of their combined strength in
order to consummate the crime. It is necessary to show that the malefactors cooperated in such a
way as to secure advantage from their superiority in strength. 74 In this case, the prosecution failed to
adduce evidence that Marlon and Ronald deliberately took advantage of their numerical superiority
when Modesto was killed. The barefaced facts that the malefactors outnumbered Modesto and were
armed while Modesto was not does not constitute proof that the three took advantage of their
numerical superiority and their handguns when Modesto was shot and stabbed. 75
In sum then, we believe that Marlon, Ronald and Leon are guilty only of Homicide defined in and
penalized by Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code with reclusion temporal in its full period.
Although the special aggravating circumstance of the use of unlicensed firearms was proven during
the trial, there is no allegation in the Information that Marlon, Ronald and Leon had no license to
possess the firearm. Lack of license to possess a firearm is an essential element of the crime of
violation of PD 1866 as amended by Republic Act No. 8294, or as a special aggravating
circumstance in the felony of homicide or murder.76 Neither can dwelling, although proven, aggravate
the crime because said circumstance was not alleged in the Information as required by Rule 110,
Section 8, of the Revised Rules of Court.77 Although this rule took effect on December 1, 2000, after
the commission of the offense in this case, nonetheless it had been given retroactive effect
considering that the rule is favorable to the accused.78
There being no modifying circumstances in the commission of homicide, Marlon, Ronald and Leon
should be meted an indeterminate penalty, the minimum of which shall be taken from the entirety
of prision mayor, ranging from 6 years and one day to 12 years and the maximum period of which
shall be taken from the medium period ofreclusion temporal, ranging from 14 years, 8 months and
one day to 17 years and 4 months.
Consequently, the award for damages in favor of the heirs of the victim should be modified. The sum
of P75,000.00 awarded as moral damages should be reduced to P50,000.00 in accordance with
prevailing jurisprudence.79 The amount of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages is in order.80 In
addition, civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 should be awarded without need of proof,
likewise in consonance with prevailing jurisprudence.81

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision of the trial court is AFFIRMED with
MODIFICATION. Accused-appellants Marlon Delim, Ronald Delim and Leon Delim are hereby found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the felony of Homicide defined in and penalized by Article 249 of
the Revised Penal Code. There being no modifying circumstances in the commission of the crime,
each of accused-appellants is hereby meted an indeterminate penalty of from ten (10) years and one
(1) day of prision mayor in its maximum period as minimum to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months
and one (1) day of reclusion temporal in its medium period as maximum. Accused-appellants are
hereby ordered to pay, jointly and severally, to the heirs of the victim the amount of P50,000.00 by
way of civil indemnity, the amount of P50,000.00 by way of moral damages and the amount of
P25,000.00 by way of exemplary damages.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Carpio, Austria-Martinez,
Corona, Carpio-Morales and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., see separate opinion.
Ynares-Santiago, J., joins the dissenting opinion of J. Vitug.
Gutierrez, J., joins Justice Vitug in his dissenting opinion.

Separate Opinions
VITUG, J.:
Circumstantial evidence has been defined as that which relates to a series of facts other than the
fact in issue which, by experience, are found to be so associated with such fact that, in relation of
cause and effect, they lead to a veritable conclusion. There should, for circumstantial evidence to
warrant a criminal conviction, be a) more than one circumstance; b) proof of the facts from which the
inference is derived; and c) a clear showing that the combination of all the circumstances can aptly
support a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.1 The use of circumstantial evidence in criminal
cases, prompted by sheer necessity, has long been an accepted, practice but with one important
caveat it must be used with utmost care and, when its exacting standards are not met, it is
correctly ignored.
On 04 May 1999, the following Information was filed against Marlon, Leon, Manuel, Robert and
Ronald, all surnamed Delim; viz:
"That on or about January 23, 1999 in the evening at Brgy. Bila, Sison, Pangasinan, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused armed with short
firearms barged in and entered the house of Modesto Delim and once inside with intent to
kill, treachery, evident premeditation, conspiring with one another, did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously grab, hold, hog-tie, gag with a piece of cloth, brought out
and abduct Modesto Delim, (while) accused Leon and Manuel Delim stayed in the house
(and) guarded and prevented the wife and son of Modesto Delim from helping the latter,
thereafter with abuse of superior strength stabbed and killed said Modesto Delim, to the
damage and prejudice of his heirs.
"Contrary to Article 248, Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659." 2

The evidence would show that Modesto Delim was forcibly abducted from his residence by
appellants, all armed, on the night of 23 January 1999. But to say that the same group was also
responsible for his death, days later, or that his violent end was the consequence of the abduction,
and nothing more, would be to unduly put to risk our standard of moral certainty required for all
convictions.
It was approximately six-thirty on the evening of 23 January 1999. Three armed men suddenly
barged into the house of Modesto Delim in Brgy. Bila, Sison, Pangasinan. Modesto, who was then
about to take his supper with his wife Rita Manalo Bantas, his teen-age son Randy Manalo Bantas,
and his two grandchildren, was suddenly seized by the intruders. Randy identified the malefactors to
be their neighbors Marlon, Robert, and Ronald, all surnamed Delim. Without any word, the trio
went straight for Modesto. Randy saw Marlon poke a gun at his father while Ronald and Robert held
back his arms and brought him outside the house. Two more armed cohorts, namely, Manuel and
Leon, both also surnamed Delim, stood guard by the door. No words were uttered to interrupt the
heavy silence except when one of the two men told the stunned family members to stay where they
were. All through the night, both Manuel and Leon Delim kept watch outside the door and only left at
around seven o'clock in the morning of the next day.
Soon after Manuel Delim and Leon Delim had left, Randy immediately sought the help of his Uncle
Darwin Nio who forthwith told him to bring the matter to the authorities. But it was only two days
later that, in the company of his Uncle Melchor, Randy finally reported the incident to the police. In
the meantime, the distressed son scoured the vicinity of Paldit, Pangasinan, to look for his father. He
was nowhere to be found. Days passed. Then, one day, he stumbled upon the decomposing body of
his father at a thick grassy portion of a housing project in Paldit, Sison, Pangasinan, some 200
meters from their house. Dr. Ma. Fe Lagmay de Guzman, who conducted the autopsy, found the
corpse riddled with five fatal gunshot wounds, seven stab wounds and several "defensive" wounds.
The victim's surviving spouse Rita Manalo Bantas and son Randy Manalo Bantas could not
understand why anyone would want Modesto killed. The family was completely unaware of any
possible motive for the nabbing and killing of Modesto Delim or of any bad blood between Modesto
and the five indictees.
On 14 January 2000, the Regional Trial Court of Urdaneta City, Branch 46, rejecting the defense
of alibi, convicted Ronald, Marlon, and Leon for murder; it held:
"WHEREFORE, judgment of conviction beyond reasonable doubt is hereby rendered against
Ronald Delim, Marlon Delim and Leon Delim (for) the commission of Aggravated Murder, an
offense defined and penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
R.A. 7659 and the Court sentences Marlon Delim, Ronald Delim and Leon Delim to suffer
the penalty of death, to be implemented in the manner as provided for by law; the Court
likewise ordered the accused, jointly and solidarily, to indemnify the heirs of Modesto Delim
the sum of P75,000.00 as moral damages, plus the amount of P25,000.00 as exemplary
damages."3
In assailing the finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt by the court a quo, appellants stress on
what they claim to be inconsistencies in the testimony of Randy Manalo Bantas and that of Rita
Manalo Bantas. I agree with my colleagues that the trial court has not erred in regarding the socalled inconsistencies as being minor and trivial that hardly can affect the credibility of the witnesses.
The narration given by Randy Manalo Bantas and Rita Manalo Bantas at the witness stand,
identifying each of the appellants and detailing their individual participation in the incident, could not
have been more spontaneous and straightforward; thus

Testimony of Randy Manalo Bantas


"Q
While taking your supper that time, do you recall if there was anything unusual that
happened at that time?
"A

When we were about to start to eat, three armed men entered our house.

"Q

Do you know these three armed men who entered your house?

"A

Yes, sir.

"Q

Who were they, name them one by one.

"A

Marlon Delim, Robert Delim and Ronald Delim.

"Q

Are these three persons inside the courtroom now?

"A

Two of them, sir.

"Q

Who are these two who are inside the courtroom?

"A

Marlon and Ronald, sir.


xxx

xxx

xxx

"Q
You said that these two armed persons entered your house; what kind of arms were
they carrying at that time?
"A

Short handguns, sir.

"Q
When these three armed persons whom you have mentioned, armed with short
firearms, what did they do when they entered your house?
"A

They took my father, sir.

"Q

Who took your father?

"A

Marlon Delim, Robert Delim and Ronald Delim, sir.

"Q

When these three persons took your father, what did you do then?

"A

None, sir.

"COURT:
How did they get your father?
"A

They poked a gun and brought him outside the house, sir.

"FISCAL TOMBOC:
Who poked a gun?
"A

Marlon Delim, sir.


"xxx

xxx

xxx

"Q

After bringing your father out from your house, what transpired next?

"A

Manuel Delim and Leon Delim said, 'Stay in your house,' and guarded us.

"COURT:
You said your father was taken out, who?
"A

Marlon, Robert and Ronald, sir.

"FISCAL TOMBOC:
Where did these three persons bring your father?
"A

I do not know where they brought my father, sir.

"COURT:
Was your father taken inside your house or outside?
"A

Inside our house, sir.

"Q

You said that Marlon poked a gun at your father, is that correct?

"A

Yes, sir.

"Q

What did Ronald and Robert do while Marlon was poking his gun at your father?

"A

Ronald and Robert were the ones who pulled my father out, sir.

"FISCAL TOMBOC:
When your father was pulled out from your house by these three persons, what did
you and your mother do while these three persons were taking your father out of your
house?
"A

We did not do anything because Manuel and Leon Delim guarded us.
"xxx

xxx

"FISCAL TOMBOC:

xxx

What was their appearance that time when these two persons were guarding you,
these Leon and Manuel?
"A

They were armed, sir.

"Q

What do you mean by armed?

"A

They have [a] gun, sir.

"Q

What kind of firearm?

"A

Short firearm, sir.


"xxx

xxx

xxx

"FISCAL TOMBOC:
You said that you were guarded by Leon and Manuel, how long did these two
persons guard you in your house?
"A

Up to the morning, sir.

"Q

You know what time?

"A

Yes, sir, [seven o'clock].


"xxx

xxx

xxx

"Q
When [seven o'clock] arrived, you said that they guarded you up to [seven o'clock],
what did these two, Leon and Manuel, do then?
"A

They left, sir.

"Q

Do you know where they went?

"A

No, sir."4

Testimony of Rita Manalo Bantas


"PROSECUTOR TOMBOC
You said during the last hearing that on January 23, 1999 at around 6:30 in the
evening while preparing for your supper three (3) armed men entered inside your
house, who were these three (3) men who entered your house?
"A

I know, Marlon, Bongbong and Robert, sir.


"xxx

xxx

"PROSECUTOR TOMBOC

xxx

You said that Marlon Delim, Robert Delim and Bongbong entered your house, are
these three (3) persons who entered your house in Court now?
"A

They are here except the other one, sir.

"Q

Will you please step down and point to the persons who entered your house?

"A
Witness is pointing to Marlon Delim, Robert Delim is not in Court and Bongbong is
Ronald Delim.
"Q

After these three (3) armed men entered your house, what happened then?

"A

My husband was brought out, sir.


"xxx

xxx

xxx

"PROSECUTOR TOMBOC
Who brought your husband out of your house on January 23, 1999 at 6:30 in the
evening?
"A

Marion Delim, Bongbong and Robert Delim, sir.

"Q
Then after Marlon Delim, Bongbong and Robert Delim brought your husband out
what transpired next?
"A

The two (2) stayed at the door of our house to guard us, sir.

"Q

Who were these two (2) persons who guarded you?

"A

Leon and Manuel, sir.


"xxx

xxx

xxx

"COURT
You said the two (2) Leon and Manuel stayed at the door guarding you, is that
correct?`
"A

Yes, sir.

"Q

What made you say that you are guarded by them?

"A

Because they have guns with them, sir.

"PROSECUTOR TOMBOC
Do you know what kind of firearm were they holding?
"A

I don't know, sir.

"Q

But you can describe whether long or short firearm?

"A

Short firearms, sir.

"Q
What did you do then when these two (2) armed persons guarded you in your
house?
"A

We did not do anything because we were afraid, sir.

"COURT
These Leon and Manuel Delim are they known to you prior to that day, January 23,
1999?
"A

Yes, sir, I know them.

"Q

Why do you know Manuel and Leon prior to January 23, 1999?

"A

They are my neighbors, sir.

"Q
How about Marlon, Robert and Bongbong do you know them before January 23,
1999?
"A

I know them, sir.

"Q

Why do you know them?

"A

They used to go to our house, sir.


"xxx

xxx

xxx

"Q
You said that Leon and Manuel Delim guarded the door of your house, how long did
they stay there?
"A
sir.

The whole night up to [seven] o'clock the following morning when they left the house,

"Q

You said they left, do you know where they proceeded?

"A

I don't know where they [went], sir.

"Q

How about you, what did you do then when the two persons left your house?

"A

I stayed at home because I [was] afraid, sir.

"COURT
When the 3 persons brought your husband out did Modesto Delim go with them
voluntarily?

"A

No, sir.

"Q

Why do you say [that] he did not go voluntarily?

"A

Because they held his hand and brought him outside, sir.

"PROSECUTOR TOMBOC
You said they held the hand of your husband, will you please demonstrate how he
was brought outside?
"A

They held the 2 hands placed at the back and they brought outside my husband, sir.

"Q

Who among the 3 men held the hands of your husband?

"A

Marlon, Bongbong and Robert, Sir.

"COURT
Did your husband resist when they held the hand?
"A

He did not resist, Sir."5

Between the positive identification made by the eyewitnesses and the bare denial of appellants,
there is scarcely any serious doubt but that decisive weight must be given to the positive testimony
of Randy Manalo Bantas and Rita Manalo Bantas.6 The defense of alibi, being one that can easily be
fabricated, is inherently weak and cannot be expected to withstand the positive identification made
by credible witnesses.
Randy Manalo Bantas, who was in the house when the five intruders entered their abode and took
his father away, could not have been mistaken in identifying the malefactors who not only were
neighbors but also had family ties with them as well. According to Randy and Rita Manalo Bantas, it
was appellant Leon Delim, together with Manuel Delim (at large), who stood guard at their house
after the others, appellant Marlon Delim, Robert Delim (at large) and appellant Ronald Delim, took
Modesto away on the early evening of 23 January 1999. Leon and Manuel stayed well into the night
and left only at seven o'clock in the morning of the next day. The certificate of residency issued by
the barangay captain of Salet, Laoag City, only confirmed that Leon Delim was a co-resident of the
barangay but it did not establish with any degree of certainty that Leon Delim had not left Laoag City
on the day of the incident. Appellant Ronald Delim, in his case, said that he was home at Asan Norte
with his family when the abduction and the brutal slaying of Modesto Delim occurred. Ronald himself
confirmed, however, that Asan Norte was a mere ten-minute bicycle ride from the victim's house at
Paldit, Pangasinan. Alibi, to be believed, must invariably place the accused at such location as to
render it physically impossible for him to be at the place of the crime and, let alone, to commit the
same. The claim, upon the other hand, of appellant Marlon Delim that he was at Dumaguete City
during the fateful day of 23 to 24 January 1999 remained to be just a bare assertion; it was not
corroborated even by his sister in Dumaguete whom, he said, he worked for.
The evidence would indeed point out that Marlon, Ronald and Robert seized Modesto Delim from his
house while Leon and Manuel stood guard and stayed at the door of the victim's house. Randy
Manalo Bantas and Rita Manalo Bantas, however, could only testify on the participation of each of
the malefactors in the abduction of Modesto Delim but not on what might have happened to him

thereafter. In arriving at its verdict convicting appellants for "aggravated murder," the trial court
considered the act of the accused of forcibly taking Modesto Delim from his house as being likewise
enough to substantiate the killing by them of the victim. The conclusion could rightly be assailed.
The accounts of Randy and his mother Rita would indicate that the forcible taking of Modesto was
carried out in absolute silence, with not one of the five intruders uttering any word which could give a
clue on the reason for the abduction and, more particularly, whether the same was carried out for the
purpose of killing Modesto. The two witnesses were unaware of any existing grudge between the
malefactors and the victim that could have prompted them to violently snuff out the life of the latter.
While the motive of an accused in a criminal case might generally be immaterial, not being an
element of the crime, motive could be important and consequential when the evidence on the
commission of the crime would be short of moral certainty.7
In sustaining the conclusion of the trial court that the five accused also snuffed out the life of
Modesto Delim, theponencia relied on circumstantial evidence testified to by Randy Bantas. He
recounted that, on the early evening of 23 January 1999, Marlon and Ronald barged into the house
of Modesto, each armed with a handgun. Marlon poked his gun on Modesto while Ronald hog-tied
Modesto. They then seized Modesto and herded him out of the house. Leon, armed with a handgun,
acted as a lookout by standing guard by the door of the house of Modesto until seven o'clock in the
morning of the next day. Rita and Randy were ordered by Leon not to leave the house as Ronald
and Marlon left the house with Modesto in tow. On the afternoon of 27 January 1999, the cadaver of
Modesto was found under the thick bushes in a grassy area in the housing project located about 200
meters away from the house of Modesto, exuding bad odor and in a state of decomposition.
The above recitals all point to only one established fact, i.e., that the accused forcibly took Modesto
Delim from his residence to an unknown destination on the night of 23 January 1999, would be
scanty to support a conclusion that the five, aside from abducting the victim, likewise killed him.
There was an unexplained gap in what ought to have been a continuous chain of events. The body
bore several defensive wounds, which could give rise to the not too unlikely scenario that Modesto
might have ultimately been released by his abductors sometime before he was killed.
Recognizing that circumstantial evidence is as strong as the weakest link, this Court is bound not to
ignore all other possibilities.8 It would seem to me that what has instead . been shown and
established beyond reasonable doubt is the guilt of appellants for the crime of kidnapping and
serious illegal detention, the whereabouts of the victim the immediate consequence of the
abduction for "more than three days" from the time of his abduction not having been accounted
for. The allegation in the Information that the accused "willfully, unlawfully and feloniously grab(bed),
h(e)ld, hog-tie(d), gag(ged), with a piece of cloth, brought out and abduct(ed) Modesto Delim (while)
Leon Delim and Manuel Delim stayed in the house (and) guarded and prevented the wife and son of
Modesto Delim from helping the latter," constitutes the act of deprivation of liberty and the gravamen
in the crime of kidnapping. Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No.
7659, provides:
"Article 267 Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Any private individual who shall kidnap
or detain another, or in any manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua to death:
"1 If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than three days.
"2 If it shall have been committed simulating public authority.
"3 If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon the person kidnapped or
detained; or if threats to kill him shall have been made.

"4 If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, except when the accused is any of
the parents, a female or a public officer.
"The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or detention was committed for the
purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person, even if none of the
circumstances abovementioned were present in the commission of the offense.
"When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention or is raped, or is
subjected to torture or dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed."
The fact that the Information went further to charge the accused with the killing of the victim should
be of no moment, the real nature of the criminal charge being determined not from the caption or the
preamble of the Information nor from the specification of the law alleged to have been violated
these being conclusions of law but by the actual recital of facts in the complaint or information. 9
In meting upon appellants the supreme penalty of death, the trial court has appreciated five
aggravating circumstances of treachery, abuse of superior strength, nighttime, dwelling, and use of
unlicensed firearms. The Information specifies treachery, abuse of superior strength and evident
premeditation as being the aggravating circumstances in the commission of the crime. Treachery
and superior strength, however, only pertain to crimes against persons. The crime of kidnapping,
falling as it does within the classification of crimes against liberty, is aggravated neither by treachery
nor superior strength. The aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation can be appreciated
when it is shown that the culprits have previously reflected on the crime, or that they have prepared
appropriate means to execute it, coolly taking into account its consequences. The evidence is
deficient in this respect. The aggravating circumstances of nighttime, dwelling and use of unlicensed
firearms, not having been alleged in the Information, cannot be considered. The Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure, rendered effective on 01 December 2000,10 requires aggravating circumstances,
whether ordinary or qualifying, to be specified in the complaint or information.
The crime of kidnapping is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. There being neither
aggravating nor mitigating circumstance that can be appreciated, the punishment that should be
imposed is the lesser penalty ofreclusion perpetua than the penalty of death.11
Now, on the civil aspect of the case. The law places abundant protective shields in order to ensure
that no man shall be made to account for a crime he might not have committed or be adjudged guilty
and meted a punishment without him having first been afforded a full opportunity to defend his
cause. Thus, a conviction is pronounced only upon proof beyond reasonable doubt, preceded by
an arraignment where he pleads on the basis of a complaint or information that specifies the
gravamen of the offense and the circumstances that are said to aggravate it and then the trial where
evidence is adduced by the parties. For purposes of the civil liability, as well as its extent, civil law
principles, however, are applied, and damages might be accorded to the aggrieved party upon
a mere preponderance of evidence. There is, I believe, enough justification, albeit inadequate for
purposes of a criminal conviction, to hold appellants responsible and civilly liable for the death of
Modesto Delim whose body was found riddled with bullets a few days after being forcibly abducted
by appellants.
Consonantly, appellants should be held liable, jointly and severally, for civil indemnity of P50,000.00
for the death of the victim, moral damages in an equal amount for the mental anguish suffered by his
heirs and P25,000.00 exemplary damages because of the attendance of aggravating circumstances
that were established albeit not allowed to be considered in meting out the sentence for the crime.
Thus, in People vs. Catubig,12 the Court has said:

"The term 'aggravating circumstances' used by the Civil Code, the law not having specified
otherwise, is to be understood in its broad or generic sense. The commission of an offense
has a two-pronged effect, one on the public as it breaches the social order and the other
upon the private victim as it causes personal sufferings, each of which is addressed by,
respectively, the prescription of heavier punishment for the accused and by an award of
additional damages to the victim. The increase of the penalty or a shift to a graver felony
underscores the exacerbation of the offense by the attendance of aggravating
circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying, in its commission. Unlike the criminal liability
which is basically a State concern, the award of damages, however, is likewise, if not
primarily, intended for the offended party who suffers thereby. It would make little sense for
an award of exemplary damages to be due the private offended party when the aggravating
circumstance is ordinary but to be withheld when it is qualifying. Withal, the ordinary or
qualifying nature of an aggravating circumstance is a distinction that should only be of
consequence to the criminal, rather than to the civil, liability of the offender. In fine, relative to
the civil aspect of the case, an aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying,
should entitle the offended party to an award of exemplary damages within the unbridled
meaning of Article 2230 of the Civil Code.
"Relevantly, the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, made effective on 01 December
2000, requires aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying, to be stated in the
complaint or information.
"xxx

xxx

xxx

"A court would thus be precluded from considering in its judgment the attendance of
'qualifying or aggravating circumstances' if the complaint or information is bereft of any
allegation on the presence of such circumstances.
"The retroactive application of procedural rules, nevertheless, cannot adversely affect the
rights of the private offended party that have become vested prior to the effectivity of said
rules. Thus, in the case at bar, although relationship has not been alleged in the information,
the offense having been committed, however, prior to the effectivity of the new rules, the civil
liability already incurred by appellant remains unaffected thereby."
WHEREFORE, I vote for the modification of the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 46, of
Urdaneta City by instead holding appellants Ronald Delim, Marlon Delim and Leon Delim guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention, defined and
penalized by Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, and imposing on each of them the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, as well as by ordering said appellants to pay, jointly and severally, the heirs of
Modesto Delim the amounts of P50,000.00 civil indemnity, P50,000.00 moral damages and
P25,000.00 exemplary damages, with costs de officio.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 172716

November 17, 2010

JASON IVLER y AGUILAR, Petitioner,


vs.
HON. MARIA ROWENA MODESTO-SAN PEDRO, Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch
71, Pasig City, and EVANGELINE PONCE, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
The petition seeks the review1 of the Orders2 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City affirming subsilencio a lower courts ruling finding inapplicable the Double Jeopardy Clause to bar a second
prosecution for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property. This, despite
the accuseds previous conviction for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries
arising from the same incident grounding the second prosecution.
The Facts
Following a vehicular collision in August 2004, petitioner Jason Ivler (petitioner) was charged before
the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 71 (MeTC), with two separate offenses: (1)
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries (Criminal Case No. 82367) for injuries
sustained by respondent Evangeline L. Ponce (respondent Ponce); and (2) Reckless Imprudence
Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property (Criminal Case No. 82366) for the death of
respondent Ponces husband Nestor C. Ponce and damage to the spouses Ponces vehicle.
Petitioner posted bail for his temporary release in both cases.
On 7 September 2004, petitioner pleaded guilty to the charge in Criminal Case No. 82367 and was
meted out the penalty of public censure. Invoking this conviction, petitioner moved to quash the
Information in Criminal Case No. 82366 for placing him in jeopardy of second punishment for the
same offense of reckless imprudence.
The MeTC refused quashal, finding no identity of offenses in the two cases. 3
After unsuccessfully seeking reconsideration, petitioner elevated the matter to the Regional Trial
Court of Pasig City, Branch 157 (RTC), in a petition for certiorari (S.C.A. No. 2803). Meanwhile,
petitioner sought from the MeTC the suspension of proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366,
including the arraignment on 17 May 2005, invoking S.C.A. No. 2803 as a prejudicial question.
Without acting on petitioners motion, the MeTC proceeded with the arraignment and, because of
petitioners absence, cancelled his bail and ordered his arrest.4 Seven days later, the MeTC issued a
resolution denying petitioners motion to suspend proceedings and postponing his arraignment until
after his arrest.5 Petitioner sought reconsideration but as of the filing of this petition, the motion
remained unresolved.
Relying on the arrest order against petitioner, respondent Ponce sought in the RTC the dismissal of
S.C.A. No. 2803 for petitioners loss of standing to maintain the suit. Petitioner contested the motion.
The Ruling of the Trial Court

In an Order dated 2 February 2006, the RTC dismissed S.C.A. No. 2803, narrowly grounding its
ruling on petitioners forfeiture of standing to maintain S.C.A. No. 2803 arising from the MeTCs order
to arrest petitioner for his non-appearance at the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366. Thus,
without reaching the merits of S.C.A. No. 2803, the RTC effectively affirmed the MeTC. Petitioner
sought reconsideration but this proved unavailing. 6
Hence, this petition.
Petitioner denies absconding. He explains that his petition in S.C.A. No. 2803 constrained him to
forego participation in the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366. Petitioner distinguishes his case
from the line of jurisprudence sanctioning dismissal of appeals for absconding appellants because
his appeal before the RTC was a special civil action seeking a pre-trial relief, not a post-trial appeal
of a judgment of conviction.7
Petitioner laments the RTCs failure to reach the merits of his petition in S.C.A. 2803. Invoking
jurisprudence, petitioner argues that his constitutional right not to be placed twice in jeopardy of
punishment for the same offense bars his prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366, having been
previously convicted in Criminal Case No. 82367 for the same offense of reckless imprudence
charged in Criminal Case No. 82366. Petitioner submits that the multiple consequences of such
crime are material only to determine his penalty.
Respondent Ponce finds no reason for the Court to disturb the RTCs decision forfeiting petitioners
standing to maintain his petition in S.C.A. 2803. On the merits, respondent Ponce calls the Courts
attention to jurisprudence holding that light offenses (e.g. slight physical injuries) cannot be
complexed under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code with grave or less grave felonies (e.g.
homicide). Hence, the prosecution was obliged to separate the charge in Criminal Case No. 82366
for the slight physical injuries from Criminal Case No. 82367 for the homicide and damage to
property.
In the Resolution of 6 June 2007, we granted the Office of the Solicitor Generals motion not to file a
comment to the petition as the public respondent judge is merely a nominal party and private
respondent is represented by counsel.
The Issues
Two questions are presented for resolution: (1) whether petitioner forfeited his standing to seek relief
in S.C.A. 2803 when the MeTC ordered his arrest following his non-appearance at the arraignment
in Criminal Case No. 82366; and (2) if in the negative, whether petitioners constitutional right under
the Double Jeopardy Clause bars further proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366.
The Ruling of the Court
We hold that (1) petitioners non-appearance at the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366 did not
divest him of personality to maintain the petition in S.C.A. 2803; and (2) the protection afforded by
the Constitution shielding petitioner from prosecutions placing him in jeopardy of second punishment
for the same offense bars further proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366.

Petitioners Non-appearance at the Arraignment in


Criminal Case No. 82366 did not Divest him of Standing
to Maintain the Petition in S.C.A. 2803
Dismissals of appeals grounded on the appellants escape from custody or violation of the terms of
his bail bond are governed by the second paragraph of Section 8, Rule 124, 8 in relation to Section 1,
Rule 125, of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure authorizing this Court or the Court of Appeals
to "also, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio, dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes
from prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a foreign country during the pendency of the
appeal." The "appeal" contemplated in Section 8 of Rule 124 is a suit to review judgments of
convictions.
The RTCs dismissal of petitioners special civil action for certiorari to review a pre-arraignment
ancillary question on the applicability of the Due Process Clause to bar proceedings in Criminal
Case No. 82366 finds no basis under procedural rules and jurisprudence. The RTCs reliance
on People v. Esparas9 undercuts the cogency of its ruling because Esparas stands for a proposition
contrary to the RTCs ruling. There, the Court granted review to an appeal by an accused who was
sentenced to death for importing prohibited drugs even though she jumped bail pending trial and
was thus tried and convicted in absentia. The Court in Esparas treated the mandatory review of
death sentences under Republic Act No. 7659 as an exception to Section 8 of Rule 124. 10
The mischief in the RTCs treatment of petitioners non-appearance at his arraignment in Criminal
Case No. 82366 as proof of his loss of standing becomes more evident when one considers the
Rules of Courts treatment of a defendant who absents himself from post-arraignment hearings.
Under Section 21, Rule 11411 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendants absence
merely renders his bondsman potentially liable on its bond (subject to cancellation should the
bondsman fail to produce the accused within 30 days); the defendant retains his standing and,
should he fail to surrender, will be tried in absentia and could be convicted or acquitted. Indeed, the
30-day period granted to the bondsman to produce the accused underscores the fact that mere nonappearance does not ipso facto convert the accuseds status to that of a fugitive without standing.
Further, the RTCs observation that petitioner provided "no explanation why he failed to attend the
scheduled proceeding"12 at the MeTC is belied by the records. Days before the arraignment,
petitioner sought the suspension of the MeTCs proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366 in light of
his petition with the RTC in S.C.A. No. 2803. Following the MeTCs refusal to defer arraignment (the
order for which was released days after the MeTC ordered petitioners arrest), petitioner sought
reconsideration. His motion remained unresolved as of the filing of this petition.
Petitioners Conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367
Bars his Prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366
The accuseds negative constitutional right not to be "twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the
same offense"13protects him from, among others, post-conviction prosecution for the same offense,
with the prior verdict rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction upon a valid information. 14 It is not
disputed that petitioners conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367 was rendered by a court of
competent jurisdiction upon a valid charge. Thus, the case turns on the question whether Criminal
Case No. 82366 and Criminal Case No. 82367 involve the "same offense." Petitioner adopts the
affirmative view, submitting that the two cases concern the same offense of reckless imprudence.
The MeTC ruled otherwise, finding that Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries is

an entirely separate offense from Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to
Property "as the [latter] requires proof of an additional fact which the other does not." 15
We find for petitioner.
Reckless Imprudence is a Single Crime,
its Consequences on Persons and
Property are Material Only to Determine
the Penalty
The two charges against petitioner, arising from the same facts, were prosecuted under the same
provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, namely, Article 365 defining and penalizing
quasi-offenses. The text of the provision reads:
Imprudence and negligence. Any person who, by reckless imprudence, shall commit any act
which, had it been intentional, would constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto
mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium period; if it would have constituted
a less grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be
imposed; if it would have constituted a light felony, the penalty of arresto menor in its maximum
period shall be imposed.
Any person who, by simple imprudence or negligence, shall commit an act which would otherwise
constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum
periods; if it would have constituted a less serious felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum
period shall be imposed.
When the execution of the act covered by this article shall have only resulted in damage to the
property of another, the offender shall be punished by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the
value of said damages to three times such value, but which shall in no case be less than twenty-five
pesos.
A fine not exceeding two hundred pesos and censure shall be imposed upon any person who, by
simple imprudence or negligence, shall cause some wrong which, if done maliciously, would have
constituted a light felony.
In the imposition of these penalties, the court shall exercise their sound discretion, without regard to
the rules prescribed in Article sixty-four.
The provisions contained in this article shall not be applicable:
1. When the penalty provided for the offense is equal to or lower than those provided in the
first two paragraphs of this article, in which case the court shall impose the penalty next
lower in degree than that which should be imposed in the period which they may deem
proper to apply.
2. When, by imprudence or negligence and with violation of the Automobile Law, to death of
a person shall be caused, in which case the defendant shall be punished by prision
correccional in its medium and maximum periods.

Reckless imprudence consists in voluntary, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from
which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person
performing or failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation,
degree of intelligence, physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and
place.
Simple imprudence consists in the lack of precaution displayed in those cases in which the damage
impending to be caused is not immediate nor the danger clearly manifest.
The penalty next higher in degree to those provided for in this article shall be imposed upon the
offender who fails to lend on the spot to the injured parties such help as may be in this hand to give.
Structurally, these nine paragraphs are collapsible into four sub-groupings relating to (1) the
penalties attached to the quasi-offenses of "imprudence" and "negligence" (paragraphs 1-2); (2) a
modified penalty scheme for either or both quasi-offenses (paragraphs 3-4, 6 and 9); (3) a generic
rule for trial courts in imposing penalties (paragraph 5); and (4) the definition of "reckless
imprudence" and "simple imprudence" (paragraphs 7-8). Conceptually, quasi-offenses penalize "the
mental attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the
imprudencia punible,"16 unlike willful offenses which punish the intentional criminal act. These
structural and conceptual features of quasi-offenses set them apart from the mass of intentional
crimes under the first 13 Titles of Book II of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
Indeed, the notion that quasi-offenses, whether reckless or simple, are distinct species of crime,
separately defined and penalized under the framework of our penal laws, is nothing new. As early as
the middle of the last century, we already sought to bring clarity to this field by rejecting in Quizon v.
Justice of the Peace of Pampanga the proposition that "reckless imprudence is not a crime in itself
but simply a way of committing it x x x"17 on three points of analysis: (1) the object of punishment in
quasi-crimes (as opposed to intentional crimes); (2) the legislative intent to treat quasi-crimes as
distinct offenses (as opposed to subsuming them under the mitigating circumstance of minimal
intent) and; (3) the different penalty structures for quasi-crimes and intentional crimes:
The proposition (inferred from Art. 3 of the Revised Penal Code) that "reckless imprudence" is not a
crime in itself but simply a way of committing it and merely determines a lower degree of criminal
liability is too broad to deserve unqualified assent. There are crimes that by their structure cannot be
committed through imprudence: murder, treason, robbery, malicious mischief, etc. In truth, criminal
negligence in our Revised Penal Code is treated as a mere quasi offense, and dealt with separately
from willful offenses. It is not a mere question of classification or terminology. In intentional crimes,
the act itself is punished; in negligence or imprudence, what is principally penalized is the mental
attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the
imprudencia punible. x x x x
Were criminal negligence but a modality in the commission of felonies, operating only to reduce the
penalty therefor, then it would be absorbed in the mitigating circumstances of Art. 13, specially the
lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as the one actually committed. Furthermore, the theory
would require that the corresponding penalty should be fixed in proportion to the penalty prescribed
for each crime when committed willfully. For each penalty for the willful offense, there would then be
a corresponding penalty for the negligent variety. But instead, our Revised Penal Code (Art. 365)
fixes the penalty for reckless imprudence at arresto mayor maximum, to prision correccional
[medium], if the willful act would constitute a grave felony, notwithstanding that the penalty for the

latter could range all the way from prision mayor to death, according to the case. It can be seen that
the actual penalty for criminal negligence bears no relation to the individual willful crime, but is set in
relation to a whole class, or series, of crimes.18 (Emphasis supplied)
This explains why the technically correct way to allege quasi-crimes is to state that their commission
results in damage, either to person or property.19
Accordingly, we found the Justice of the Peace in Quizon without jurisdiction to hear a case for
"Damage to Property through Reckless Imprudence," its jurisdiction being limited to trying charges
for Malicious Mischief, an intentional crime conceptually incompatible with the element of
imprudence obtaining in quasi-crimes.
Quizon, rooted in Spanish law20 (the normative ancestry of our present day penal code) and since
repeatedly reiterated,21 stands on solid conceptual foundation. The contrary doctrinal pronouncement
in People v. Faller22that "[r]eckless impudence is not a crime in itself x x x [but] simply a way of
committing it x x x,"23 has long been abandoned when the Court en banc promulgated Quizon in
1955 nearly two decades after the Court decided Faller in 1939. Quizon rejected Fallers
conceptualization of quasi-crimes by holding that quasi-crimes under Article 365 are distinct species
of crimes and not merely methods of committing crimes. Faller found expression in post-Quizon
jurisprudence24 only by dint of lingering doctrinal confusion arising from an indiscriminate fusion of
criminal law rules defining Article 365 crimes and the complexing of intentional crimes under Article
48 of the Revised Penal Code which, as will be shown shortly, rests on erroneous conception of
quasi-crimes. Indeed, the Quizonian conception of quasi-crimes undergirded a related branch of
jurisprudence applying the Double Jeopardy Clause to quasi-offenses, barring second prosecutions
for a quasi-offense alleging one resulting act after a prior conviction or acquittal of a quasi-offense
alleging another resulting act but arising from the same reckless act or omission upon which the
second prosecution was based.
Prior Conviction or Acquittal of
Reckless Imprudence Bars
Subsequent Prosecution for the Same
Quasi-Offense
The doctrine that reckless imprudence under Article 365 is a single quasi-offense by itself and not
merely a means to commit other crimes such that conviction or acquittal of such quasi-offense bars
subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense, regardless of its various resulting acts,
undergirded this Courts unbroken chain of jurisprudence on double jeopardy as applied to Article
365 starting with People v. Diaz,25 decided in 1954. There, a full Court, speaking through Mr. Justice
Montemayor, ordered the dismissal of a case for "damage to property thru reckless imprudence"
because a prior case against the same accused for "reckless driving," arising from the same act
upon which the first prosecution was based, had been dismissed earlier. Since then, whenever the
same legal question was brought before the Court, that is, whether prior conviction or acquittal of
reckless imprudence bars subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense, regardless of the
consequences alleged for both charges, the Court unfailingly and consistently answered in the
affirmative in People v. Belga26(promulgated in 1957 by the Court en banc, per Reyes, J.), Yap v.
Lutero27 (promulgated in 1959, unreported, per Concepcion, J.), People v. Narvas 28 (promulgated in
1960 by the Court en banc, per Bengzon J.), People v. Silva29 (promulgated in 1962 by the Court en
banc, per Paredes, J.), People v. Macabuhay30 (promulgated in 1966 by the Court en banc, per
Makalintal, J.), People v. Buan31 (promulgated in 1968 by the Court en banc, per Reyes, J.B.L.,

acting C. J.), Buerano v. Court of Appeals32 (promulgated in 1982 by the Court en banc, per Relova,
J.), and People v. City Court of Manila33 (promulgated in 1983 by the First Division, per Relova, J.).
These cases uniformly barred the second prosecutions as constitutionally impermissible under the
Double Jeopardy Clause.
The reason for this consistent stance of extending the constitutional protection under the Double
Jeopardy Clause to quasi-offenses was best articulated by Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Buan, where,
in barring a subsequent prosecution for "serious physical injuries and damage to property thru
reckless imprudence" because of the accuseds prior acquittal of "slight physical injuries thru
reckless imprudence," with both charges grounded on the same act, the Court explained: 34
Reason and precedent both coincide in that once convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless
imprudence, the accused may not be prosecuted again for that same act. For the essence of the
quasi offense of criminal negligence under article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the
execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally done, would be punishable as a
felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof. The gravity of the
consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty, it does not qualify the substance of
the offense. And, as the careless act is single, whether the injurious result should affect one person
or several persons, the offense (criminal negligence) remains one and the same, and can not be
split into different crimes and prosecutions.35 x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Evidently, the Diaz line of jurisprudence on double jeopardy merely extended to its logical conclusion
the reasoning of Quizon.
There is in our jurisprudence only one ruling going against this unbroken line of authority. Preceding
Diaz by more than a decade, El Pueblo de Filipinas v. Estipona,36 decided by the pre-war colonial
Court in November 1940, allowed the subsequent prosecution of an accused for reckless
imprudence resulting in damage to property despite his previous conviction for multiple physical
injuries arising from the same reckless operation of a motor vehicle upon which the second
prosecution was based. Estiponas inconsistency with the post-war Diaz chain of jurisprudence
suffices to impliedly overrule it. At any rate, all doubts on this matter were laid to rest in 1982 in
Buerano.37 There, we reviewed the Court of Appeals conviction of an accused for "damage to
property for reckless imprudence" despite his prior conviction for "slight and less serious physical
injuries thru reckless imprudence," arising from the same act upon which the second charge was
based. The Court of Appeals had relied on Estipona. We reversed on the strength of Buan: 38
Th[e] view of the Court of Appeals was inspired by the ruling of this Court in the pre-war case of
People vs. Estipona decided on November 14, 1940. However, in the case of People vs. Buan, 22
SCRA 1383 (March 29, 1968), this Court, speaking thru Justice J. B. L. Reyes, held that
Reason and precedent both coincide in that once convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless
imprudence, the accused may not be prosecuted again for that same act. For the essence of the
quasi offense of criminal negligence under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the
execution of an imprudent or negligent act that, if intentionally done, would be punishable as a
felony. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, not the result thereof. The gravity of the
consequence is only taken into account to determine the penalty, it does not qualify the substance of
the offense. And, as the careless act is single, whether the injurious result should affect one person
or several persons, the offense (criminal negligence) remains one and the same, and can not be
split into different crimes and prosecutions.

xxxx
. . . the exoneration of this appellant, Jose Buan, by the Justice of the Peace (now Municipal) Court
of Guiguinto, Bulacan, of the charge of slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence, prevents
his being prosecuted for serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence in the Court of First
Instance of the province, where both charges are derived from the consequences of one and the
same vehicular accident, because the second accusation places the appellant in second jeopardy
for the same offense.39 (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, for all intents and purposes, Buerano had effectively overruled Estipona.
It is noteworthy that the Solicitor General in Buerano, in a reversal of his earlier stance in Silva,
joined causes with the accused, a fact which did not escape the Courts attention:
Then Solicitor General, now Justice Felix V. Makasiar, in his MANIFESTATION dated December 12,
1969 (page 82 of the Rollo) admits that the Court of Appeals erred in not sustaining petitioners plea
of double jeopardy and submits that "its affirmatory decision dated January 28, 1969, in Criminal
Case No. 05123-CR finding petitioner guilty of damage to property through reckless imprudence
should be set aside, without costs." He stressed that "if double jeopardy exists where the reckless
act resulted into homicide and physical injuries. then the same consequence must perforce follow
where the same reckless act caused merely damage to property-not death-and physical injuries.
Verily, the value of a human life lost as a result of a vehicular collision cannot be equated with any
amount of damages caused to a motors vehicle arising from the same mishap." 40 (Emphasis
supplied)
Hence, we find merit in petitioners submission that the lower courts erred in refusing to extend in his
favor the mantle of protection afforded by the Double Jeopardy Clause. A more fitting jurisprudence
could not be tailored to petitioners case than People v. Silva, 41 a Diaz progeny. There, the accused,
who was also involved in a vehicular collision, was charged in two separate Informations with "Slight
Physical Injuries thru Reckless Imprudence" and "Homicide with Serious Physical Injuries thru
Reckless Imprudence." Following his acquittal of the former, the accused sought the quashal of the
latter, invoking the Double Jeopardy Clause. The trial court initially denied relief, but, on
reconsideration, found merit in the accuseds claim and dismissed the second case. In affirming the
trial court, we quoted with approval its analysis of the issue following Diaz and its progeny People v.
Belga:42
On June 26, 1959, the lower court reconsidered its Order of May 2, 1959 and dismissed the case,
holding:
[T]he Court believes that the case falls squarely within the doctrine of double jeopardy enunciated in
People v. Belga, x x x In the case cited, Ciriaco Belga and Jose Belga were charged in the Justice of
the Peace Court of Malilipot, Albay, with the crime of physical injuries through reckless imprudence
arising from a collision between the two automobiles driven by them (Crim. Case No. 88). Without
the aforesaid complaint having been dismissed or otherwise disposed of, two other criminal
complaints were filed in the same justice of the peace court, in connection with the same collision
one for damage to property through reckless imprudence (Crim. Case No. 95) signed by the owner
of one of the vehicles involved in the collision, and another for multiple physical injuries through
reckless imprudence (Crim. Case No. 96) signed by the passengers injured in the accident. Both of
these two complaints were filed against Jose Belga only. After trial, both defendants were acquitted

of the charge against them in Crim. Case No. 88. Following his acquittal, Jose Belga moved to
quash the complaint for multiple physical injuries through reckless imprudence filed against him by
the injured passengers, contending that the case was just a duplication of the one filed by the Chief
of Police wherein he had just been acquitted. The motion to quash was denied and after trial Jose
Belga was convicted, whereupon he appealed to the Court of First Instance of Albay. In the
meantime, the case for damage to property through reckless imprudence filed by one of the owners
of the vehicles involved in the collision had been remanded to the Court of First Instance of Albay
after Jose Belga had waived the second stage of the preliminary investigation. After such remand,
the Provincial Fiscal filed in the Court of First Instance two informations against Jose Belga, one for
physical injuries through reckless imprudence, and another for damage to property through reckless
imprudence. Both cases were dismissed by the Court of First Instance, upon motion of the
defendant Jose Belga who alleged double jeopardy in a motion to quash. On appeal by the Prov.
Fiscal, the order of dismissal was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the following language: .
The question for determination is whether the acquittal of Jose Belga in the case filed by the chief of
police constitutes a bar to his subsequent prosecution for multiple physical injuries and damage to
property through reckless imprudence.
In the case of Peo[ple] v. F. Diaz, G. R. No. L-6518, prom. March 30, 1954, the accused was
charged in the municipal court of Pasay City with reckless driving under sec. 52 of the Revised
Motor Vehicle Law, for having driven an automobile in a fast and reckless manner ... thereby
causing an accident. After the accused had pleaded not guilty the case was dismissed in that court
for failure of the Government to prosecute. But some time thereafter the city attorney filed an
information in the Court of First Instance of Rizal, charging the same accused with damage to
property thru reckless imprudence. The amount of the damage was alleged to beP249.50. Pleading
double jeopardy, the accused filed a motion, and on appeal by the Government we affirmed the
ruling. Among other things we there said through Mr. Justice Montemayor
The next question to determine is the relation between the first offense of violation of the Motor
Vehicle Law prosecuted before the Pasay City Municipal Court and the offense of damage to
property thru reckless imprudence charged in the Rizal Court of First Instance. One of the tests of
double jeopardy is whether or not the second offense charged necessarily includes or is necessarily
included in the offense charged in the former complaint or information (Rule 113, Sec. 9). Another
test is whether the evidence which proves one would prove the other that is to say whether the facts
alleged in the first charge if proven, would have been sufficient to support the second charge and
vice versa; or whether one crime is an ingredient of the other. x x x
xxxx
The foregoing language of the Supreme Court also disposes of the contention of the prosecuting
attorney that the charge for slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence could not have been
joined with the charge for homicide with serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence in this
case, in view of the provisions of Art. 48 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. The prosecutions
contention might be true. But neither was the prosecution obliged to first prosecute the accused for
slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence before pressing the more serious charge of
homicide with serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence. Having first prosecuted the
defendant for the lesser offense in the Justice of the Peace Court of Meycauayan, Bulacan, which
acquitted the defendant, the prosecuting attorney is not now in a position to press in this case the
more serious charge of homicide with serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence which

arose out of the same alleged reckless imprudence of which the defendant have been previously
cleared by the inferior court.43
Significantly, the Solicitor General had urged us in Silva to reexamine Belga (and hence, Diaz) "for
the purpose of delimiting or clarifying its application." 44 We declined the invitation, thus:
The State in its appeal claims that the lower court erred in dismissing the case, on the ground of
double jeopardy, upon the basis of the acquittal of the accused in the JP court for Slight Physical
Injuries, thru Reckless Imprudence. In the same breath said State, thru the Solicitor General, admits
that the facts of the case at bar, fall squarely on the ruling of the Belga case x x x, upon which the
order of dismissal of the lower court was anchored. The Solicitor General, however, urges a reexamination of said ruling, upon certain considerations for the purpose of delimiting or clarifying its
application. We find, nevertheless, that further elucidation or disquisition on the ruling in the Belga
case, the facts of which are analogous or similar to those in the present case, will yield no practical
advantage to the government. On one hand, there is nothing which would warrant a delimitation or
clarification of the applicability of the Belga case. It was clear. On the other, this Court has reiterated
the views expressed in the Belga case, in the identical case of Yap v. Hon. Lutero, etc., L-12669,
April 30, 1959.45 (Emphasis supplied)
Article 48 Does not Apply to Acts Penalized
Under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code
The confusion bedeviling the question posed in this petition, to which the MeTC succumbed, stems
from persistent but awkward attempts to harmonize conceptually incompatible substantive and
procedural rules in criminal law, namely, Article 365 defining and penalizing quasi-offenses and
Article 48 on complexing of crimes, both under the Revised Penal Code. Article 48 is a procedural
device allowing single prosecution of multiple felonies falling under either of two categories: (1) when
a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies (thus excluding from its operation
light felonies46); and (2) when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other. The
legislature crafted this procedural tool to benefit the accused who, in lieu of serving multiple
penalties, will only serve the maximum of the penalty for the most serious crime.
In contrast, Article 365 is a substantive rule penalizing not an act defined as a felony but "the mental
attitude x x x behind the act, the dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight x x x," 47 a single
mental attitude regardless of the resulting consequences. Thus, Article 365 was crafted as one
quasi-crime resulting in one or more consequences.
Ordinarily, these two provisions will operate smoothly. Article 48 works to combine in a single
prosecution multiple intentional crimes falling under Titles 1-13, Book II of the Revised Penal Code,
when proper; Article 365 governs the prosecution of imprudent acts and their consequences.
However, the complexities of human interaction can produce a hybrid quasi-offense not falling under
either models that of a single criminal negligence resulting in multiple non-crime damages to
persons and property with varying penalties corresponding to light, less grave or grave offenses. The
ensuing prosecutorial dilemma is obvious: how should such a quasi-crime be prosecuted? Should
Article 48s framework apply to "complex" the single quasi-offense with its multiple (non-criminal)
consequences (excluding those amounting to light offenses which will be tried separately)? Or
should the prosecution proceed under a single charge, collectively alleging all the consequences of
the single quasi-crime, to be penalized separately following the scheme of penalties under Article
365?

Jurisprudence adopts both approaches. Thus, one line of rulings (none of which involved the issue
of double jeopardy) applied Article 48 by "complexing" one quasi-crime with its multiple
consequences48 unless one consequence amounts to a light felony, in which case charges were split
by grouping, on the one hand, resulting acts amounting to grave or less grave felonies and filing the
charge with the second level courts and, on the other hand, resulting acts amounting to light felonies
and filing the charge with the first level courts.49 Expectedly, this is the approach the MeTC impliedly
sanctioned (and respondent Ponce invokes), even though under Republic Act No. 7691, 50 the MeTC
has now exclusive original jurisdiction to impose the most serious penalty under Article 365 which is
prision correccional in its medium period.
Under this approach, the issue of double jeopardy will not arise if the "complexing" of acts penalized
under Article 365 involves only resulting acts penalized as grave or less grave felonies because
there will be a single prosecution of all the resulting acts. The issue of double jeopardy arises if one
of the resulting acts is penalized as a light offense and the other acts are penalized as grave or less
grave offenses, in which case Article 48 is not deemed to apply and the act penalized as a light
offense is tried separately from the resulting acts penalized as grave or less grave offenses.
The second jurisprudential path nixes Article 48 and sanctions a single prosecution of all the effects
of the quasi-crime collectively alleged in one charge, regardless of their number or
severity,51 penalizing each consequence separately. Thus, in Angeles v. Jose, 52 we interpreted
paragraph three of Article 365, in relation to a charge alleging "reckless imprudence resulting in
damage to property and less serious physical injuries," as follows:
[T]he third paragraph of said article, x x x reads as follows:
When the execution of the act covered by this article shall have only resulted in damage to the
property of another, the offender shall be punished by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the
value of said damage to three times such value, but which shall in no case be less than 25 pesos.
The above-quoted provision simply means that if there is only damage to property the amount fixed
therein shall be imposed, but if there are also physical injuries there should be an additional penalty
for the latter. The information cannot be split into two; one for the physical injuries, and another for
the damage to property, x x x.53(Emphasis supplied)
By "additional penalty," the Court meant, logically, the penalty scheme under Article 365.
Evidently, these approaches, while parallel, are irreconcilable. Coherence in this field demands
choosing one framework over the other. Either (1) we allow the "complexing" of a single quasi-crime
by breaking its resulting acts into separate offenses (except for light felonies), thus re-conceptualize
a quasi-crime, abandon its present framing under Article 365, discard its conception under the
Quizon and Diaz lines of cases, and treat the multiple consequences of a quasi-crime as separate
intentional felonies defined under Titles 1-13, Book II under the penal code; or (2) we forbid the
application of Article 48 in the prosecution and sentencing of quasi-crimes, require single
prosecution of all the resulting acts regardless of their number and severity, separately penalize
each as provided in Article 365, and thus maintain the distinct concept of quasi-crimes as crafted
under Article 365, articulated in Quizon and applied to double jeopardy adjudication in the Diaz line
of cases.
1avvphi1

A becoming regard of this Courts place in our scheme of government denying it the power to make
laws constrains us to keep inviolate the conceptual distinction between quasi-crimes and intentional
felonies under our penal code. Article 48 is incongruent to the notion of quasi-crimes under Article
365. It is conceptually impossible for a quasi-offense to stand for (1) a single act constituting two or
more grave or less grave felonies; or (2) anoffense which is a necessary means for committing
another. This is why, way back in 1968 in Buan, we rejected the Solicitor Generals argument that
double jeopardy does not bar a second prosecution for slight physical injuries through reckless
imprudence allegedly because the charge for that offense could not be joined with the other charge
for serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence following Article 48 of the Revised Penal
Code:
The Solicitor General stresses in his brief that the charge for slight physical injuries through reckless
imprudence could not be joined with the accusation for serious physical injuries through reckless
imprudence, because Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code allows only the complexing of grave or
less grave felonies. This same argument was considered and rejected by this Court in the case of
People vs. [Silva] x x x:
[T]he prosecutions contention might be true. But neither was the prosecution obliged to first
prosecute the accused for slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence before pressing the
more serious charge of homicide with serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence. Having
first prosecuted the defendant for the lesser offense in the Justice of the Peace Court of
Meycauayan, Bulacan, which acquitted the defendant, the prosecuting attorney is not now in a
position to press in this case the more serious charge of homicide with serious physical injuries
through reckless imprudence which arose out of the same alleged reckless imprudence of which the
defendant has been previously cleared by the inferior court.
[W]e must perforce rule that the exoneration of this appellant x x x by the Justice of the Peace x x x
of the charge of slight physical injuries through reckless imprudence, prevents his being prosecuted
for serious physical injuries through reckless imprudence in the Court of First Instance of the
province, where both charges are derived from the consequences of one and the same vehicular
accident, because the second accusation places the appellant in second jeopardy for the same
offense.54 (Emphasis supplied)
Indeed, this is a constitutionally compelled choice. By prohibiting the splitting of charges under
Article 365, irrespective of the number and severity of the resulting acts, rampant occasions of
constitutionally impermissible second prosecutions are avoided, not to mention that scarce state
resources are conserved and diverted to proper use.
Hence, we hold that prosecutions under Article 365 should proceed from a single charge regardless
of the number or severity of the consequences. In imposing penalties, the judge will do no more than
apply the penalties under Article 365 for each consequence alleged and proven. In short, there shall
be no splitting of charges under Article 365, and only one information shall be filed in the same first
level court.55
Our ruling today secures for the accused facing an Article 365 charge a stronger and simpler
protection of their constitutional right under the Double Jeopardy Clause. True, they are thereby
denied the beneficent effect of the favorable sentencing formula under Article 48, but any
disadvantage thus caused is more than compensated by the certainty of non-prosecution for quasicrime effects qualifying as "light offenses" (or, as here, for the more serious consequence

prosecuted belatedly). If it is so minded, Congress can re-craft Article 365 by extending to quasicrimes the sentencing formula of Article 48 so that only the most severe penalty shall be imposed
under a single prosecution of all resulting acts, whether penalized as grave, less grave or light
offenses. This will still keep intact the distinct concept of quasi-offenses. Meanwhile, the lenient
schedule of penalties under Article 365, befitting crimes occupying a lower rung of culpability, should
cushion the effect of this ruling.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We REVERSE the Orders dated 2 February 2006 and 2
May 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 157. We DISMISS the Information in
Criminal Case No. 82366 against petitioner Jason Ivler y Aguilar pending with the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Pasig City, Branch 71 on the ground of double jeopardy.
Let a copy of this ruling be served on the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
Representatives.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-42288

February 16, 1935

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
CORNELIO BAYONA, defendant-appellant.
Gervasio Diaz for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for appellee.
VICKERS, J.:
This is an appeal from a decision of Judge Braulio Bejasa in the Court of First Instance of Capiz,
finding the defendant guilty of a violation of section 416 of the Election Law and sentencing him to
suffer imprisonment for thirty days and to pay a fine of P50, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency, and to pay the costs.
The facts as found by the trial judge are as follows:
A eso de las once de la maana del dia 5 de junio de 1934, mientras se celebrahan las
elecciones generales en el precinto electoral numero 4, situado en el Barrio de Aranguel del
Municipio de Pilar, Provincia de Capiz, el aqui acusado fue sorprendido por Jose E.
Desiderio, que era entonces el representante del Departamento del Interior para inspecionar
las elecciones generales en la Provincia de Capiz, y por el comandante de la Constabularia
F.B. Agdamag que iba en aquella ocasion con el citado Jose E. Desiderio, portando en su
cinto el revolver Colt de calibre 32, No. 195382, Exhibit A, dentro del cerco que rodeaba el

edificio destinado para el citado colegio electoral numero 4 y a una distancia de 22 metros
del referido colegio electoral. Inmediatament Jose E. Desiderio se incauto del revolver en
cuestion.
La defensa, por medio del testimonio de Jose D. Benliro y de Dioscoro Buenvenida, trato de
establecer que el aqui acusado paro en la calle que daba frente al colegio electoral numero
4 a invitacion de dicho Jose D. Benliro y con el objeto de suplicarle al mencionado acusado
para llevar a su casa a los electores del citado Jose D. Benliro que ya habian terminado de
votar, y que cuando llegaron Jose E. Desidierio y el comadante F.B. Agdamag, el aqui
acusado estaba en la calle. Desde el colegio electoral hasta el sitio en que, segun dichos
testigos, estaba el acusado cuando se le quito el revolver Exhibit a, hay una distancia de 27
metros.
Appellant's attorney makes the following assignments of error:
1. El Juzgado a quo erro al declarar que el apelante fue sorprendido con su revolver dentro
del cerco de la casa escuela del Barrio de Aranguel, Municipio de Pilar, que fue habilitado
como colegio electoral.
2. El Juzgado a quo erro al declarar al apelante culpable de la infraccion de la Ley Electoral
querrellada y, por consiguiente, al condenarle a prision y multa.
As to the question of fact raised by the first assignment of error, it is sufficient to say that the record
shows that both Jose E. Desiderio, a representative of the Department of the Interior, and Major
Agdamag of the Philippine Constabulary, who had been designated to supervise the elections in the
Province of Capiz, testified positively that the defendant was within the fence surrounding the polling
place when Desiderio took possession of the revolver the defendant was carrying. This also
disposes of that part of the argument under the second assignment of error based on the theory that
the defendant was in a public road, where he had a right to be, when he was arrested. The latter part
of the argument under the second assignment of error is that if it be conceded that the defendant
went inside of the fence, he is nevertheless not guilty of a violation of the Election Law, because he
was called by a friend and merely approached him to find out what he wanted and had no interest in
the election; that there were many people in the public road in front of the polling place, and the
defendant could not leave his revolver in his automobile, which he himself was driving, without
running the risk of losing it and thereby incurring in a violation of the law.
As to the contention that the defendant could not leave his revolver in his automobile without the risk
of losing it because he was alone, it is sufficient to say that under the circumstances it was not
necessary for the defendant to leave his automobile merely because somebody standing near the
polling place had called him, nor does the record show that it was necessary for the defendant to
carry arms on that occasion.
The Solicitor-General argues that since the Government does not especially construct buildings for
electoral precincts but merely utilizes whatever building there may be available, and all election
precincts are within fifty meters from some road, a literal application of the law would be absurd,
because members of the police force or Constabulary in pursuit of a criminal would be included in
that prohibition and could not use the road in question if they were carrying firearms; that people
living in the vicinity of electoral precincts would be prohibited from cleaning or handling their firearms
within their own residences on registration and election days;

That the object of the Legislature was merely to prohibit the display of firearms with intention to
influence in any way the free and voluntary exercise of suffrage;
That if the real object of the Legislature was to insure the free exercise of suffrage, the prohibition in
question should only be applied when the facts reveal that the carrying of the firearms was intended
for the purpose of using them directly or indirectly to influence the free choice of the electors (citing
the decision of this court in the case of People vs. Urdeleon [G.R. No. 31536, promulgated
November 20, 1929, not reported], where a policeman, who had been sent to a polling place to
preserve order on the request of the chairman of the board of election inspectors, was acquitted);
that in the case at bar there is no evidence that the defendant went to the election precinct either to
vote or to work for the candidacy of anyone, but on the other hand the evidence shows that the
defendant had no intention to go to the electoral precinct; that he was merely passing along the road
in front of the building where the election was being held when a friend of his called him; that while in
the strict, narrow interpretation of the law the defendant is guilty, it would be inhuman and
unreasonable to convict him.
We cannot accept the reasons advanced by the Solicitor-General for the acquittal of the defendant.
The law which the defendant violated is a statutory provision, and the intent with which he violated it
is immaterial. It may be conceded that the defendant did not intend to intimidate any elector or to
violate the law in any other way, but when he got out of his automobile and carried his revolver
inside of the fence surrounding the polling place, he committed the act complained of, and he
committed it willfully. The act prohibited by the Election Law was complete. The intention to
intimidate the voters or to interfere otherwise with the election is not made an essential element of
the offense. Unless such an offender actually makes use of his revolver, it would be extremely
difficult, if not impossible, to prove that he intended to intimidate the voters.
The rule is that in acts mala in se there must be a criminal intent, but in those mala prohibita it is
sufficient if the prohibited act was intentionally done. "Care must be exercised in distinguishing the
difference between the intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate the act. ..." (U.S. vs.
Go Chico, 14 Phil., 128.)
While it is true that, as a rule and on principles of abstract justice, men are not and should
not be held criminally responsible for acts committed by them without guilty knowledge and
criminal or at least evil intent (Bishop's New Crim. Law, vol. I, sec. 286), the courts have
always recognized the power of the legislature, on grounds of public policy and compelled by
necessity, "the great master of things", to forbid in a limited class of cases the doing of
certain acts, and to make their commission criminal without regard to the intent of the doer.
(U.S. vs. Go Chico, 14 Phil., 128; U.S. vs. Ah Chong, 15 Phil., 488.) In such cases no judicial
authority has the power to require, in the enforcement of the law, such knowledge or motive
to be shown. (U.S. vs. Siy Cong Bieng and Co Kong, 30 Phil., 577.)
The cases suggested by the Solicitor-General do not seem to us to present any difficulty in the
enforcement of the law. If a man with a revolver merely passes along a public road on election day,
within fifty meters of a polling place, he does not violate the provision of law in question, because he
had no intent to perpetrate the act prohibited, and the same thing would be true of a peace officer in
pursuing a criminal; nor would the prohibition extend to persons living within fifty meters of a polling
place, who merely clean or handle their firearms within their own residences on election day, as they
would not be carrying firearms within the contemplation of the law; and as to the decision in the case
of People vs. Urdeleon, supra, we have recently held in the case of People vs. Ayre, and

Degracia (p. 169, ante), that a policeman who goes to a polling place on the request of the board of
election inspectors for the purpose of maintaining order is authorized by law to carry his arms.
If we were to adopt the specious reasoning that the appellant should be acquitted because it was not
proved that he tried to influence or intended to influence the mind of any voter, anybody could sell
intoxicating liquor or hold a cockfight or a horse race on election day with impunity.
As to the severity of the minimum penalty provided by law for a violation of the provision in question,
that is a matter for the Chief Executive or the Legislature.
For the foregoing reasons, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with the costs against the
appellant.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 4963

September 15, 1909

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
GO CHICO, defendant-appellant.
Gibbs and Gale for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor-General Harvey for appellee.
MORELAND, J.:
The defendant is charged with the violation of section 1 of Act No. 1696 of the Philippine
Commission, which reads as follows:
Any person who shall expose, or cause or permit to be exposed, to public view on his own
premises, or who shall expose, or cause to be exposed, to public view, either on his own
premises or elsewhere, any flag, banner, emblem, or device used during the late insurrection
in the Philippine Islands to designate or identify those in armed rebellion against the United
States, or any flag, banner, emblem, or device used or adopted at any time by the public
enemies of the United States in the Philippine Island for the purpose of public disorder or of
rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States in the Philippine Islands, or
any flag, banner, emblem, or device of the Katipunan Society, or which is commonly known
as such, shall be punished by a fine of not less that five hundred pesos for more than five
thousand pesos, or by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than five years,
or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
The defendant was tried in the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila on the 8th day of
September, 1908. After hearing the evidence adduced the court adjudged the defendant guilty of the
crime charged and sentenced him under that judgment to pay a fine of P500, Philippine currency,

and to pay the costs of the action, and to suffer subsidiary imprisonment during the time and in the
form and in the place prescribed by law until said fine should be paid. From that judgment and
sentence the defendant appealed to this court.
A careful examination of the record brought to this court discloses the following facts:
That on or about the 4th day of August, 1908, in the city of Manila, the appellant Go Chico displayed
in one of the windows and one of the show cases of his store, No. 89 Calle Rosario, a number of
medallions, in the form of a small button, upon the faces of which were imprinted in miniature the
picture of Emilio Aguinaldo, and the flag or banner or device used during the late insurrection in the
Philippine Islands to designate and identify those in armed insurrection against the United States.
On the day previous to the one above set forth the appellant had purchased the stock of goods in
said store, of which the medallions formed a part, at a public sale made under authority of the sheriff
of the city of Manila. On the day in question, the 4th of August aforesaid, the appellant was arranging
his stock of goods for the purpose of displaying them to the public and in so doing placed in his
showcase and in one of the windows of his store the medallions described. The appellant was
ignorant of the existence of a law against the display of the medallions in question and had
consequently no corrupt intention. The facts above stated are admitted.
The appellant rests his right to acquittal upon two propositions:
First. That before a conviction under the law cited can be had, a criminal intent upon the part of the
accused must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Second. That the prohibition of the law is directed against the use of the identical banners, devices,
or emblems actually used during the Philippine insurrection by those in armed rebellion against the
United States.
In the opinion of this court it is not necessary that the appellant should have acted with the criminal
intent. In many crimes, made such by statutory enactment, the intention of the person who commits
the crime is entirely immaterial. This is necessarily so. If it were not, the statute as a deterrent
influence would be substantially worthless. It would be impossible of execution. In many cases the
act complained of is itself that which produces the pernicious effect which the statute seeks to avoid.
In those cases the pernicious effect is produced with precisely the same force and result whether the
intention of the person performing the act is good or bad. The case at bar is a perfect illustration of
this. The display of a flag or emblem used particularly within a recent period, by the enemies of the
Government tends to incite resistance to governmental functions and insurrection against
governmental authority just as effectively if made in the best of good faith as if made with the most
corrupt intent. The display itself, without the intervention of any other factor, is the evil. It is quite
different from that large class of crimes, made such by the common law or by statute, in which the
injurious effect upon the public depends upon the corrupt intention of the person perpetrating the act.
If A discharges a loaded gun and kills B, the interest which society has in the act depends, not upon
B's death, upon the intention with which A consummated the act. If the gun were discharged
intentionally, with the purpose of accomplishing the death of B, then society has been injured and its
security violated; but if the gun was discharged accidentally on the part of A, then society, strictly
speaking, has no concern in the matter, even though the death of B results. The reason for this is
that A does not become a danger to society and institutions until he becomes a person with a corrupt
mind. The mere discharge of the gun and the death of B do not of themselves make him so. With
those two facts must go the corrupt intent to kill. In the case at bar, however, the evil to society and

the Governmental does not depend upon the state of mind of the one who displays the banner, but
upon the effect which that display has upon the public mind. In the one case the public is affected by
the intention of the actor; in the other by the act itself.
It is stated in volume 12 of Cyc., page 148, that
The legislature, however, may forbid the doing of an act and make its commission a crime
without regard to the intent of the doer, and if such an intention appears the courts must give
it effect although the intention may have been innocent. Whether or not in a given case the
statute is to be so construed is to be determined by the court by considering the subjectmatter of the prohibition as well as the language of the statute, and thus ascertaining the
intention of the legislature.
In the case of The People vs. Kibler (106 N. Y., 321) the defendant was charged with the sale of
adulterated milk under a statute reading as follows:
No person or persons shall sell or exchange or expose for sale or exchange any impure,
unhealthy, adulterated, of unwholesome milk.
It was proved in that case that one Vandeburg purchased at the defendant's store 1 pint of milk
which was shown to contain a very small percentage of water more than that permitted by the
statute. There was no dispute about the facts, but the objection made by the defendant was that he
was not allowed, upon the trial, to show an absence of criminal intent, or to go the jury upon the
question whether it existed, but was condemned under a charge from the court which made his
intent totally immaterial and his guilt consist in having sold the adulterated article whether he knew it
or not and however carefully he may have sought to keep on hand and sell the genuine article.
The opinion of the court in that case says:
As the law stands, knowledge or intention forms no elements of the offense. The act alone,
irrespective of its motive, constitutes the crime.
xxx

xxx

xxx

It is notorious that the adulteration of food products has grown to proportions so enormous
as to menace the health and safety of the people. Ingenuity keeps pace with greed, and the
careless and heedless consumers are exposed to increasing perils. To redress such evils is
a plain duty but a difficult task. Experience has taught the lesson that repressive measures
which depend for their efficiency upon proof of the dealer's knowledge or of his intent to
deceive and defraud are of title use and rarely accomplish their purpose. Such an
emergency may justify legislation which throws upon the seller the entire responsibility of the
purity and soundness of what he sells and compels him to know and certain.
In the case of Gardner vs. The People (62 N. Y., 299) the question arose under a statute which
provided that an inspector of elections of the city of New York should not be removed from office
except "after notice in writing to the officer sought to be removed, which notice shall set forth clearly
and distinctly the reasons for his removal," and further provided that any person who removed such
an officer without such notice should be guilty of a misdemeanor. An officer named Sheridan was
removed by Gardener, the defendant, without notice. Gardener was arrested and convicted of a

misdemeanor under the statute. He appealed from the judgment of conviction and the opinion from
which the following quotation is made was written upon the decision of that appeal. Chief Justice
Church, writing the opinion of the court, says in relation to criminal intent:
In short, the defense was an honest misconstruction of the law under legal device. The court
ruled out the evidence offered, and held that intentionally doing the act prohibited constituted
the offense. It is quite clear that the facts offered to be shown, if true, would relieve the
defendant from the imputation of a corrupt intent, and, indeed, from any intent to violate the
statute. The defendants made a mistake of law. Such mistakes do not excuse the
commission of prohibited acts. "The rule on the subject appears to be, that in acts mala in
se, intent governs but in those mala prohibit a, the only inquiry is, has the law been violated?
xxx

xxx

xxx

The authorities seem to establish that sustain and indictment for doing a prohibited act, it is
sufficient to prove that the act was knowingly and intentionally done.
xxx

xxx

xxx

In this case, if the defendants could have shown that they believed that in fact notice had
been given to the inspector, although it had not, they would not have been guilty of the
offense, because the intention to do the act would have been wanting. Their plea is: True, we
intended to remove the inspector without notice, but we thought the law permitted it. This
was a mistake of law, and is not strictly a defense.
xxx

xxx

xxx

If the offense is merely technical, the punishment can be made correspondingly nominal;
while a rule requiring proof of a criminal intent to violate the statute, independent of an intent
to do the act which the statute declares shall constitute the offense, would, in many cases,
prevent the restraining influence which the statute was designed to secure.
In the case of Fiedler vs. Darrin (50 N.Y., 437) the court says:
But when an act is illegal, the intent of the offender is immaterial.
In the case of The Commonwealth vs. Murphy (165 Mass., 66) the court says:
In general, it may be said that there must be malus animus, or a criminal intent. But there is
a large class of cases in which, on grounds of public policy, certain acts are made punishable
without proof that the defendant understands the facts that give character to his act.
In such cases it is deemed best to require everybody at his peril to ascertain whether his act
comes within the legislative prohibition.
xxx

xxx

xxx

Considering the nature of the offense, the purpose to be accomplished, the practical
methods available for the enforcement of the law, and such other matters as throw light upon
the meaning of the language, the question in interpreting a criminal statute is whether the
intention of the legislature was to make knowledge of the facts an essential element of the
offense, or to put upon everyone the burden of finding out whether his contemplated act is
prohibited, and of refraining from it if it is.
In the case of Halsted vs. The State (41 N. J. L., 552; 32 Am. Rep., 247), the question of a criminal
intent arose under a statute, under which the defendant was convicted of a crime, providing that if
any township committee or other body shall disburse or vote for the disbursement of public moneys
in excess of appropriations made for the purpose, the persons constituting such board shall be guilty
of a crime. The defendant was one who violated this law by voting to incur obligations in excess of
the appropriation. He was convicted and appealed and the opinion from which the quotation is taken
was written upon a decision of that appeal. That court says:
When the State had closed, the defense offered to show that the defendant, in aiding in the
passage and effectuation of the resolution which I have pronounced to be illegal, did so
under the advice of counsel and in good faith, and from pure and honest motives, and that
he therein exercise due care and caution.
xxx

xxx

xxx

As there is an undoubted competency in the lawmaker to declare an act criminal,


irrespective of the knowledge or motive of the doer of such act, there can be of necessity, no
judicial authority having the power to require, in the enforcement of the law, such knowledge
or motive to be shown. In such instances the entire function of the court is to find out the
intention of the legislature, and to enforce the law in absolute conformity to such intention.
And in looking over the decided cases on the subject it will be found that in the considered
adjudications this inquiry has been the judicial guide.
In the case of Rex vs. Ogden (6 C. & P., 631; 25 E. C. L., 611), the prisoner was indicted for
unlawfully transposing from one piece of wrought plate to another the lion-poisson contrary to the
statutes. It was conceded that the act was done without any fraudulent intention. The court said:
There are no words in the act of Parliament referring to any fraudulent intention. The words
of it are, 'Shall transpose or remove, or cause of procure to be transposed or removed, from
one piece of wrought plate to another.
In the case of The State vs. McBrayer (98 N. C., 623) the court stated:
It is a mistaken notion that positive, willful intent to violate the criminal law is an essential
ingredient in every criminal offense, and that where is an absence of such intent there is no
offense; this is especially true as to statutory offenses. When the statute plainly forbids an
act to be done, and it is done by some person, the law implies conclusively the guilty intent,
although the offender was honestly mistaken as to the meaning of the law he violates. When
the language is plain and positive, and the offense is not made to depend upon the positive,
willful intent and purpose, nothing is left to interpretation.

In the case of the Commonwealth vs. Weiss (139 Pa. St., 247), the question arose on an appeal by
the defendant from a judgment requiring him to pay a penalty for a violation of the statute of the
State which provided that any person would be liable to pay a penalty "who shall manufacture, sell,
or offer or expose for sale, or have in his possession with intent to sell," oleomargarine, etc. At the
trial the defendant requested the court to instruct the injury that if they believed, from the evidence,
that the defendant did not knowingly furnish or authorize to be furnished, or knew of there furnished,
to any of his customers any oleomargarine, but, as far as he knew, furnished genuine butter, then
the verdict must be for the defendant. The court refused to make the charge as requested and that is
the only point upon which the defendant appealed.
The court says:
The prohibition is absolute and general; it could not be expressed in terms more explicit and
comprehensive. The statutory definition of the offense embraces no word implying that the
forbidden act shall be done knowingly or willfully, and if it did, the designed purpose of the
act would be practically defeated. The intention of the legislature is plain, that persons
engaged in the traffic so engage in it at their peril and that they can not set up their ignorance
of the nature and qualities of the commodities they sell, as a defense.
The following authorities are to the same effect: State vs. Gould (40 Ia., 374);
Commonwealth vs. Farren (9 Allen, 489); Commonwealth vs. Nichols (10 Allen, 199);
Commonwealth vs. Boyton (2 Allen, 160); Wharton's Criminal Law, section 2442;
Commonwealth vs. Sellers (130 Pa., 32); 3 Greenleaf on Evidence, section 21; Farrell vs. The State
(32 Ohio State, 456); Beekman vs. Anthony (56 Miss., 446); The People vs. Roby (52 Mich., 577).
It is clear from the authorities cited that in the act under consideration the legislature did not intend
that a criminal intent should be a necessary element of the crime. The statutory definition of the
offense embraces no word implying that the prohibited act shall be done knowingly or willfully. The
wording is plain. The Act means what it says. Nothing is left to the interpretation.
Care must be exercised in distiguishing the differences between the intent to commit the crime and
the intent to perpetrate the act. The accused did not consciously intend to commit a crime; but he did
intend to commit an act, and the act is, by the very nature of things, the crime itself intent and all.
The wording of the law is such that the intent and the act are inseparable. The act is the crime. The
accused intended to put the device in his window. Nothing more is required to commit the crime.
We do not believe that the second proposition of the accused, namely, that the law is applicable only
to the identical banners, etc., actually used in the late insurrection, and not to duplicates of those
banners, can be sustained.
It is impossible that the Commission should have intended to prohibit the display of the flag or flags
actually used in the insurrection, and, at the same time, permit exact duplicates thereof (saving,
perhaps, size) to be displayed without hindrance. In the case before us, to say that the display of a
certain banner is a crime and that the display of its exact duplicate is not is to say nonsense. The
rules governing the interpretation of statutes are rules of construction not destruction. To give the
interpretation contended for by the appellant would, as to this particular provision, nullify the statute
altogether.

The words "used during the late insurrection in the Philippine Islands to designate or identity those in
armed rebellion against the United States" mean not only the identical flags actually used in the
insurrection, but any flag which is of that type. This description refers not to a particular flag, but to a
type of flag. That phrase was used because there was and is no other way of describing that type of
flag. While different words might be employed, according to the taste of the draftsman, the method of
description would have to be the same. There is no concrete word known by which that flag could be
aptly or properly described. There was no opportunity, within the scope of a legislative enactment, to
describe the physical details. It had no characteristics whatever, apart from its use in the
insurrection, by which it could, in such enactment, be identified. The great and the only characteristic
which it had upon the which the Commission could seize as a means of description and identification
was the fact that it was used in the insurrection. There was, therefore, absolutely no way in which the
Commission could, in the Act, describe the flag except by reciting where and how it was used. It
must not be forgotten that the Commission, by the words and phrases used, was not attempting to
describe a particular flag, but a type of flag. They were not describing a flag used upon a particular
field or in a certain battle, but a type of flag used by an army a flag under which many persons
rallied and which stirred their sentiments and feelings wherever seen or in whatever form it
appeared. It is a mere incident of description that the flag was used upon a particular field or in a
particular battle. They were describing the flag not a flag. It has a quality and significance and an
entity apart from any place where or form in which it was used.
Language is rarely so free from ambiguity as to be incapable of being used in more than one
sense, and the literal interpretation of a statute may lead to an absurdity or evidently fail to
give the real intent of the legislature. When this is the case, resort is had to the principle that
the spirit of a law controls the letter, so that a thing which is within the intention of a statute is
as much within the statute as if it were within the letter, and a thing which is within the letter
of the statute is not within the statute unless it be within the intention of the makers, and the
statute should be construed as to advance the remedy and suppress the mischief
contemplated by the framers. (U. S. vs. Kirby, 7 Wall., 487; State Bolden, 107 La., 116, 118;
U.S.vs. Buchanan, 9 Fed. Rep., 689; Green vs. Kemp, 13 Mass., 515; Lake Shore R. R.
Co. vs. Roach, 80 N. Y., 339; Delafield vs. Brady, 108 N. Y., 524 Doyle vs. Doyle, 50 Ohio
State, 330.)
The intention of the legislature and the object aimed at, being the fundamental inquiry in
judicial construction, are to control the literal interpretation of particular language in a statute,
and language capable of more than one meaning is to be taken in that sense which will
harmonize with such intention and object, and effect the purpose of the enactment. (26 Am.
& Eng. Ency. of Law., 602.)
Literally hundreds of cases might be cited to sustain this proposition.
The preamble is no part of the statute, but as setting out the object and intention of the
legislature, it is considered in the construction of an act. Therefore, whenever there is
ambiguity, or wherever the words of the act have more than one meaning, and there is no
doubt as to the subject-matter to which they are to be applied, the preamble may be used."
(U. S. vs. Union Pacific R. R. Co., 91 U. S., 72; Platt vs. Union Pacific R. R. Co., 99 U. S.,
48; Myer vs. Western Car Co., 102 U. S., 1; Holy Trinity Church vs. U. S., 143 U. S., 457;
Coosaw Mining Co. vs. South Carolina, 144 U. S., 550; Cohn vs. Barrett, 5 Cal., 195;
Barnes vs.Jones, 51 Cal., 303; Field vs. Gooding, 106 Mass., 310; People vs. Molineaux, 40

N. Y., 113; Smith vs. The People, 47 N. Y., 330; The People vs. Davenport, 91 N.Y., 547; The
People vs. O'Brien, 111 N.Y., 1)
The statute, then, being penal, must be construed with such strictness as to carefully
safeguard the rights of the defendant and at the same time preserve the obvious intention of
the legislature. If the language be plain, it will be construed as it reads, and the words of the
statute given their full meaning; if ambiguous, the court will lean more strongly in favor of the
defendant than it would if the statute were remedial. In both cases it will endeavor to effect
substantial justice." (Bolles vs. Outing Co., 175 U. S., 262, 265; U. S. vs.Wiltberger, 5
Wheat., 76, 95; U. S. vs. Reese, 92 U. S., 214)
It is said that notwithstanding this rule (the penal statutes must be construde strictly) the
intention of the lawmakers must govern in the construction of penal as well as other statutes.
This is true, but this is not a new, independent rule which subverts the old. It is a modification
of the known maxim and amounts to this -- that though penal statutes are to be construed
strictly, they are not be construed so strictly as to defeat the obvious purpose of the
legislature. (U. S. vs. Wiltberger, 5 Wheat., 76; Taylor vs. Goodwin, L. R. 4, Q. B. Civ., 228.)
In the latter case it was held that under a statute which imposed a penalty for "furiously driving any
sort of carriage" a person could be convicted for immoderately driving a bicycle.
It is presumed that the legislature intends to impart to its enactments such a meaning as will
render then operative and effective, and to prevent persons from eluding or defeating them.
Accordingly, in case of any doubt or obscurity, the construction will be such as to carry out
these objects. (Black, Interpretation of Laws, p. 106.)
In The People vs. Supervisors (43 N. Y., 130) the court said:
The occasion of the enactment of a law always be referred to in interpreting and giving effect
to it. The court should place itself in the situation of the legislature and ascertain the
necessity and probable object of the statute, and then give such construction to the language
used as to carry the intention of the legislature into effect so far as it can be ascertained from
the terms of the statute itself. (U. S. vs. Union Pacific R. R. Co., 91 U. S., 72, 79.)
We do not believe that in construing the statute in question there is necessity requiring that clauses
should be taken from the position given them and placed in other portions of the statute in order to
give the whole Act a reasonable meaning. Leaving all of the clauses located as they now are in the
statute, a reasonable interpretation, based upon the plain and ordinary meaning of the words used,
requires that the Act should be held applicable to the case at bar.
The judgment of the court below and the sentence imposed thereunder are hereby affirmed. So
ordered.
THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 75369. November 26, 1990.]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FERNANDO ILIGAN y JAMITO, EDMUNDO
ASIS y ILIGAN and JUAN MACANDOG (at large), Defendants, FERNANDO ILIGAN y JAMITO and
EDMUNDO ASIS y ILIGAN, Defendants-Appellants.

The Solicitor General for Plaintiff-Appellee.


Cesar R. Canonizado, for Defendants-Appellants.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; APPEAL; THROWS THE CASE OPEN FOR A COMPLETE REVIEW OF ALL ERRORS AS MAY
BE IMPUTABLE TO THE TRIAL COURT. While the factual findings of the trial court are generally given due
respect by the appellate court, an appeal of a criminal case throws it open for a complete review of all
errors, by commission or omission, as may be imputable to the trial court. (People v. Valerio, Jr., L-4116,
February 25, 1982, 112 SCRA 208, 231) In this instance, the lower court erred in finding that the
maceration of one half of the head of the victim was also caused by Iligan for the evidence on record point
to a different conclusion. We are convinced beyond peradventure that indeed, after Quiones, Jr. had fallen
from the bolo-hacking perpetrated by Iligan, he was run over by a vehicle. This finding, however, does not in
any way exonerate Iligan from liability for the death of Quiones, Jr.
2. CRIMINAL LAW; LIABILITY; REQUISITES THEREOF, PRESENT IN THE CASE AT BAR. Under Article 4 of
the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability shall be incurred "by any person committing a felony (delito)
although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended." Based on the doctrine that "el que
es causa de la causa es causa del mal causado" (he who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil
caused), (People v. Ural, G.R. No. L-30801, March 27, 1974, 56 SCRA 138, 144) the essential requisites of
Article 4 are: (a) that an intentional felony has been committed, and (b) that the wrong done to the
aggrieved party be the direct, natural and logical consequence of the felony committed by the offender.
(People v. Mananquil, L-35574, September 28, 1984, 132 SCRA 196, 207). We hold that these requisites are
present in this case.
3. ID.; ID.; PROXIMATE LEGAL CAUSE, DEFINED. The intentional felony committed was the hacking of the
head of Quiones, Jr. by Iligan. That it was considered as superficial by the physician who autopsied
Quiones is beside the point. What is material is that by the instrument used in hacking Quiones, Jr. and
the location of the wound, the assault was meant not only to immobilize the victim but to do away with him
as it was directed at a vital and delicate part of the body: the head. (See: People v. Diana, 32 Phil. 344
[1915]). The hacking incident happened on the national highway where vehicles are expected to pass any
moment. One such vehicle passed seconds later when Lukban and Zaldy Asis, running scared and having
barely negotiated the distance of around 200 meters, heard shouts of people. Quiones, Jr., weakened by
the hacking blow which sent him to the cemented highway, was run over by a vehicle. Under these
circumstances, we hold that while Iligans hacking of Quiones, Jr.s head might not have been the direct
cause, it was the proximate cause of the latters death. Proximate legal cause is defined as "that acting first
and producing the injury, either immediately or by setting other events in motion, all constituting a natural
and continuous chain of events, each having a close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the
final event in the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause which
first acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for the first event should, as an ordinarily
prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default that an
injury to some person might probably result therefrom. (Urbano v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No.
72964, January 7, 1988, 157 SCRA 1 quoting Vda. De Bataclan v. Medina, 102 Phil. 181). In other words,
the sequence of events from Iligans assault on him to the time Quiones, Jr. was run over by a vehicle is,
considering the very short span of time between them, one unbroken chain of events. Having triggered such
events, Iligan cannot escape liability.
4. ID.; ALIBI; NOT CONSIDERED WHEN ACCUSED IS POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED BY WITNESSES. We agree
with the lower court that the defense of alibi cannot turn the tide in favor of Iligan because he was positively
seen at the scene of the crime and identified by the prosecution witnesses. (People v. Pineda, G.R. No.
72400, January 15, 1988, 157 SCRA 71).
5. ID.; AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES; TREACHERY AND EVIDENT PREMEDITATION, WRONGLY
APPRECIATED IN THE CASE AT BAR. But we disagree with the lower court with regards to its findings on
the aggravating circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation. Treachery has been appreciated by
the lower court in view of the suddenness of the attack on the group of Quiones, Jr. Suddenness of such
attack, however, does not by itself show treachery. (People v. Gadiano, L-31818, July 30, 1982, 115 SCRA
559) There must be evidence that the mode of attack was consciously adopted by the appellant to make it

impossible or hard for the person attacked to defend himself. (People v. Crisostomo, L-32243, April 15,
1988, 160 SCRA 47). In this case, the hacking of Edmundo Asis by Iligan followed by the chasing of the trio
by the group of Iligan was a warning to the deceased and his companions of the hostile attitude of the
appellants. The group of Quiones, Jr. was therefore placed on guard for any subsequent attacks against
them. (People v. Mercado, L-33492, March 30, 1988, 159 SCRA 455). The requisites necessary to appreciate
evident premeditation have likewise not been met in this case. Thus, the prosecution failed to prove all of
the following: (a) the time when the accused determined to commit the crime; (b) an act manifestly
indicating that the accused had clung to their determination to commit the crime; and (c) the lapse of
sufficient length of time between the determination and execution to allow him to reflect upon the
consequences of his act. (People v. Batas, G.R. Nos. 84277-78, August 2, 1989, 176 SCRA 46).
6. ID.; CONSPIRACY; NOT SUFFICIENTLY CONSTITUTED BY MERE KNOWLEDGE, ACQUIESCENCE OR
APPROVAL OF THE ACT WITHOUT COOPERATION OR AGREEMENT TO COOPERATE NOR BY MERE PRESENCE
AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME. Absent any qualifying circumstances, Iligan must be held liable only for
homicide. Again, contrary to the lower courts finding, proof beyond reasonable doubt has not been
established to hold Edmundo Asis liable as Iligans co-conspirator. Edmundo Asis did not take any active part
in the infliction of the wound on the head of Quiones, Jr., which led to his running over by a vehicle and
consequent death. As earlier pointed out, the testimony that he was carrying a stone at the scene of the
crime hardly merits credibility being uncorroborated and coming from an undeniably biased witness. Having
been the companion of Iligan, Edmundo Asis must have known of the formers criminal intent but mere
knowledge, acquiescense or approval of the act without cooperation or agreement to cooperate, is not
enough to constitute one a party to a conspiracy. There must be intentional participation in the act with a
view to the furtherance of the common design and purpose. (People v. Izon, 104 Phil. 690 [1958]) Such
being the case, his mere presence at the scene of the crime did not make him a co-conspirator, a coprincipal or an accomplice to the assault perpetrated by Iligan. (Orobio v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 57519,
September 13, 1988, 165 SCRA 316) Edmundo Asis therefore deserves exoneration.
7. ID.; HOMICIDE; PENALTY; ABSENT ANY MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCE AND APPLYING THE
INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW. There being no mitigating circumstance, the penalty imposable on
Iligan is reclusion temporal medium (Arts. 249 and 64, Revised Penal Code). Applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the proper penalty is that within the range of prision mayor as minimum and reclusion
temporal medium as maximum. We find insufficient proof to warrant the award of P256,960 for the victims
unrealized income and therefore, the same is disallowed.

DECISION

FERNAN, J.:

In this appeal, uncle and nephew, Fernando Iligan and Edmundo Asis, seek a reversal of the decision of the
then Court of First Instance of Camarines Norte, Branch II 1 convicting them of the crime of murder and
sentencing them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of Esmeraldo
Quiones, Jr. in the amounts of P30,000 for the latters death and P256,960 representing the victims
unrealized income.
On October 21, 1980, the following information for murder was filed against Fernando Iligan, Edmundo Asis
and Juan Macandog:
chanrobles.com .ph : virtual law library

"That on or about 3:00 a.m., August 4, 1980, at sitio Lico II, barangay Sto. Domingo, municipality of
Vinzons, province of Camarines Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the
above named accused, conspiring and mutually helping one another, with treachery and evident
premeditation, one of the accused Fernando Iligan armed with a bolo (sinampalok) and with deliberate
intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, gang up and in a sudden unexpected
manner, hacked Esmeraldo Quiones, Jr., on his face, thus causing fatal injuries on the latters face which
resulted to (sic) the death of said Esmeraldo Quiones.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."

cralaw virtua1aw library

Juan Macandog was never apprehended and he remains at large. At their arraignment on January 12, 1981

Fernando Iligan and Edmundo Asis pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. Thereafter, the prosecution
presented the following version of the commission of the crime.
chanrobles.com .ph : virtual law library

At around 2:00 oclock in the morning of August 4, 1980, Esmeraldo Quiones, Jr. and his companions,
Zaldy Asis and Felix Lukban, were walking home from barangay Sto. Domingo, Vinzons, Camarines Norte
after attending a barrio fiesta dance. In front of the ricemill of a certain Almadrones, they met the accused
Fernando Iligan, his nephew, Edmundo Asis, and Juan Macandog. Edmundo Asis pushed ("winahi") them
aside thereby prompting Zaldy Asis to box him. 2 Felix Lukban quickly told the group of the accused that
they had no desire to fight. 3 Fernando Iligan, upon seeing his nephew fall, drew from his back a bolo and
hacked Zaldy Asis but missed. Terrified, the trio ran pursued by the three accused. They ran for about half
an hour, passing by the house of Quiones, Jr. They stopped running only upon seeing that they were no
longer being chased. After resting for a short while, Quiones, Jr. invited the two to accompany him to his
house so that he could change to his working clothes and report for work as a bus conductor. 4
While the trio were walking towards the house of Quiones, Jr., the three accused suddenly emerged on the
roadside and without a word, Fernando Iligan hacked Quiones, Jr. with his bolo hitting him on the forehead
and causing him to fall down. 5 Horrified, Felix Lukban and Zaldy Asis fled to a distance of 200 meters, but
returned walking after they heard shouts of people. Zaldy Asis specifically heard someone shout "May nadale
na." 6
On the spot where Quiones, Jr. was hacked, Zaldy Asis and Felix Lukban saw him already dead with his
head busted. 7 They helped the brother of Quiones, Jr. in carrying him to their house. 8
That same day, August 4, 1980, the body of Quiones, Jr. was autopsied at the Funeraria Belmonte in Labo,
Camarines Norte by the municipal health officer, Dr. Marcelito E. Abas. The postmortem examination report
which is found at the back of the death certificate reveals that Esmeraldo Quiones, Jr., who was 21 years
old when he died, sustained the following injuries:
jgc:chanroble s.com.ph

"1. Shock and massive cerebral hem