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People v. Mamarion (2003) Facts:

What happened: o Roberta Cokin is a rich Filipino-Chinese businesswoman with wide-ranging business interests in Bacolod and Iloilo. o She lives together with her only surviving sister, Teresita. One evening, Roberta was driving alone coming from a cockfight when a group of armed men came and took her away. Next morning the sister, saw Robertas abandoned car and received a call saying Roberta was kidnapped and would be released after payment of a P1million ransom. o Robertas sister and nephew were given a plastic bag containing Robertas driver's license and a handwritten note by Roberta telling them to pay the P1million because she was kidnapped and that they should not call the police. o The nephew still reported to the NBI who then contacted an Anti-Syndicated Crime unit in Bacolod. They monitored the calls made by the kidnappers. After some calls, the kidnappers raised the ransom to P2million in cash to be delivered at a restaurant. o The police laid out a plan to apprehend the kidnappers and recover the ransom money. Although there was a sudden change in the drop-off plans, the police saw Mamarion with a bag walking hurriedly. When accosted, he fired and after a brief shoot-out and a grenade, he was subdued and the ransom money was recovered. o After a month, Roberta was found in a shallow grave in a sugar cane plantation. Cause of death: traumatic shock, secondary to multiple physical injuries An info for Kidnapping for Ransom was filed against Mamarion & Gale (and more people). Later on, the info was amended to include Domingo. The info reads: o on or about July 16, 1995 inBacolod the above-named accused conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another with the use of firearms kidnap Roberta Coki, detain and deprive her of her liberty for more than 3 days for extorting money in P2 million from her sister, Teresita Cokin, and that after the pay-off was intercepted and Mamarion was arrested victim was inflicted multiple physical injurieswhich caused her death. Only Mamarion, Gale, and Domingo were arraigned. Other accused remained at large. o Gale and Domingo pleaded not guilty o Mamarion refused to enter a plea. TC entered not guilty plea for him. Gale filed a motion to be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense (to Slight Illegal Detention). On the condition that he will testify for the prosecution, TC granted the motion and found him guilty of Slight Illegal Detention, with the mitigating circumstances of no intention to commit so grave a wrong and voluntary surrender. Sentenced him to prision mayor in its maximum. As to the other accused, TC found them guilty of kidnapping with ransom. Penalty: death. Automatic review to SC.

Issue: Should Gale have been allowed to plead to a lesser offense in consideration of testifying as a prosecution witness? Held: Yes. Ratio: Mamarion et als argument: o Gale's plea to a lesser offense should have been made during the plea bargaining stage o The plea to a lesser offense should not be subject to the condition that he will testify against them OSGs argument: o Gale was validly discharged as a state witness. SC says: o Under the circumstances, it is not correct to say that Gale was discharged as a state witness under Section 9, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court. o Gale was allowed to change his plea pursuant to the then prevailing Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court: Sec. 2. Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. The accused, with the consent of the offended party and the fiscal, may be allowed by the trial court to plead guilty to a lesser offense, regardless of whether or not it is necessarily included in the crime charges, or is cognizable by a court of lesser jurisdiction than the trial court. No amendment of the complaint or information is necessary. It is immaterial that the plea was not made during the pre-trial or that it was made only after the prosecution already presented several witnesses. In People vs. Villarama: the TC allowed the accused to change his plea even after the prosecution rested its case, applying Section 2 Plea bargaining is a process where the accused and the prosecution work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case subject to court approval. o It usually involves the pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to only one or some of the counts of a multicount indictment in return for a lighter sentence. Ordinarily, plea-bargaining is made during the pre-trial. o However, the law still permits the accused sufficient opportunity to change his plea. Also, the acceptance of an offer to plead guilty to a lesser offense is not demandable as a matter of right but is entirely to the discretion of the TC.

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In the present case: Gale moved to plead guilty to a lesser offense after the prosecution had rested its case. In such situation, jurisprudence has provided the TC and the Office of the Prosecutor with a test: o People v. Kayanan: the rules allow such a plea only when the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to establish the guilt of the crime charged. Gale's testimony was crucial to the prosecution as there was no other direct evidence linking Mamarion et al to the crime. Hence, the TC did not err in allowing Gale to plead guilty to a lesser offense.

Other issues: 1. Was TC correct in giving full credit to Gales testimony? 2. Was the participation and conspiracy of Mamarion et al proved beyond reasonable doubt? Held: 1. 2. Ratio: 1.

Yes Yes

General rule: the testimony of a co-conspirator is not sufficient for the conviction of the accused Exception: the testimony of a conspirator, even if uncorroborated, will be considered sufficient if given in a straightforward manner and it contains details which could not have been the result of deliberate afterthought Gale is only a driver who only finished Grade 2. It will require a good measure of ingenuity to invent a story of kidnapping, with all the gory details, an ingenuity which Gale certainly does not possess. The TC was correct in disregarding one of the accuseds alibi as jurisprudence gives greater weight to the positive narration of prosecution witnesses than to the negative testimonies of the defense

2.

TC affirmed.