You are on page 1of 78

SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 186123, February 27, 2012] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS.

MARITES VALERIO Y TRAJE, APPELLANT. RESOLUTION BRION, J.: We resolve the appeal, filed by accused Marites Valerio y Traje (appellant), from the May 22, 2008 decision of the Court of [1] Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01750. The RTC Ruling In its May 11, 2001 decision, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 18, convicted the appellant of [3] kidnapping, committed against 3-year-old Regelyn Incabo y Canete. The trial court found that the appellants act of taking Regelyn while the latter was playing near her house, without the knowledge or consent of her parents, constituted the crime of kidnapping a minor. It rejected the appellants denial and gave credence to the straightforward testimony of Special Police Officer 1 (SPO1) Joselito dela Cruz who positively identified the appellant as the person holding Regelyn when he spotted her at the squatters area near the Navotas fishport. It sentenced the appellant to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The CA Ruling On intermediate appellate review, the CA affirmed the judgment of the RTC, giving full respect to the RTC's appreciation of the testimony of the witnesses. In rejecting the appellants insistence that she merely talked to Regelyn at Pier 14 to protect and prevent her from crossing the street, without any intention to kidnap her, the CA noted the appellants actuations during the incident, particularly, that: (1) the appellant and Regelyn were already at the squatters area of Pier 16 when SPO1 Dela Cruz spotted them several hours later; (2) the appellant was seen by SPO1 Dela Cruz not only talking to the victim, but was actually holding her; (3) the appellant did not take Regelyn to the barangay outpost in Pier 14, which was merely 11 steps away, to report that the child was probably missing, but took her to as far as Pier 16; and (4) the appellant misrepresented to SPO1 Dela Cruz that she took Regelyn to take care of her, despite the protestations of Regelyns mother that she never entrusted [5] Regelyn to the appellants care. We now rule on the final review of the case. Our Ruling We affirm the appellants conviction. We find no reason to reverse the factual findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA. The prosecution has established the elements of kidnapping under Article 267, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, to wit: (1) the offender is a private individual; (2) he kidnaps or detains another, or in any other manner deprives the latter of his or her liberty; (3) the act of detention or kidnapping is illegal; and (4) the person kidnapped or detained is a minor, female or a public officer. The prosecution has adequately and satisfactorily proved that the appellant is a private individual; that the appellant took Regelyn from Pier 14 to Pier 16, without the knowledge or consent of Regelyns parents; and that the appellant admitted [6] Regelyns minority and even referred to her as a child. The prescribed penalty for kidnapping a minor under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, is reclusion perpetua to death. Since neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances attended the commission of the felony, the lower courts properly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua. While we affirm the CAs factual findings and the imprisonment imposed, we find it necessary to award the victim [7] P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages, in line with prevailing jurisprudence. We also award the [8] victim P30,000.00 as exemplary damages to set an example for the public good.
[4] [2]

WHEREFORE, the May 22, 2008 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01750 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellant Marites Valerio y Traje is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnapping a minor and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The appellant is ordered to pay the victim, Regelyn Incabo y Canete, P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. SO ORDERED. Carpio, (Chairperson), Perez, Sereno, and Reyes, JJ., concur.

http://elibrary.judiciary.gov.ph/decisions.php?doctype=Decisions%20/%20Signed%20Resolutions&docid=13329904451159 630815 _______________________________________________________

G.R. No. 187229

February 22, 2012

ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO, Petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. DECISION PERALTA, J.: Before us is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision dated March 17, 2 2009, which affirmed with modification the Joint Decision dated December 14, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
1

Quezon City, Branch 81, finding petitioner Arnel Sison guilty of the crimes of rape and violation of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1866, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8294. On April 21, 2003, two (2) separate Informations were filed with the RTC against petitioner for Kidnapping with Rape and violation of P.D. 1866, as amended by R.A. 8294 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions). The accusatory portions of the two (2) Informations respectively state: Criminal Case No. Q-03-116710 That on or about the 16th day of April 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, by means of force, violence and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, armed with firearm, kidnap and rape one [AAA] in the following manner, to wit: said [AAA] boarded the Mitsubishi Adventure with plate no. CSV-606, driven by the accused who was then plying his route at Bocaue Toll Gate going to Cubao, Quezon City, and upon reaching EDSA corner New York Street, Cubao, this City, accused suddenly poked his gun at her, kidnap and detain her and forcibly brought her at the Town and Country, Sta. Mesa, Manila, where accused had carnal knowledge of her by force and intimidation against her 3 will and without her consent. Criminal Case No. Q-03-116711 That on or about the 17th day of April 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, without any authority of law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control one (1) Peter Stahl .45 caliber pistol with Serial Number A414 with five (5) ammunitions, without first having secured the necessary 4 license/permit issued by the proper authorities. Petitioner pleaded not guilty to both charges. Trial thereafter ensued. During the trial, two different versions were presented. The evidence for the prosecution, as aptly summarized by the RTC and adopted by the CA, are as follows: Private complainant [AAA] was, at the time of subject incident, a resident of x x x and was working on a 10:00 p.m.7:00 a.m. shift as a Product Support Representative with x x x. Since her residence is quite far from her place of work and considering her working hours, her aunt would usually bring her to the Bocaue toll gate and from there, she would ride either a Tamaraw FX or bus going to Cubao bound to her office. At around 8:00 p.m. of April 16, 2003, *AAA+ boarded accuseds passenger van, a black Mitsubishi Adventure with plate number CSV-606, at the Bocaue toll gate. She sat at the front passenger seat as it was the only vacant seat at that time since there were already nine passengers on board. When they reached Quezon City, the passengers alighted one by one, the last of whom alighted in New York Street, Cubao, Quezon City. [AAA] was supposed to alight in Aurora Blvd. When they were already in front of Nepa Q-Mart and [AAA] was the only passenger left in the van, accused told her that he would change first the P100.00 bill that she paid. Her fare was only P30.00, so she still had a change of P70.00. Accused made a few turns until they reached an alley, with nobody passing through. [AAA] felt uneasy so she told the accused that she would alight, but then she heard cocking of a gun. Accused suddenly put his right arm over her right shoulder, drew her nearer to him, pointed a gun at her chest with his right hand, while [he] continued driving with his left hand. Accused kept driving for about ten to twenty minutes until such time that they entered a drive-thru. [AAA] saw the logo of the Town and Country Motel. She also noticed the signage of the AMA Computer College so she presumed that they were in Sta. Mesa, Quezon City. A boy approached the van and the accused slightly opened the window beside him. The boy pointed to a garage room to which the accused entered. When they were already inside the garage, the accused pushed [AAA] out of the van. With the gun pointed at her, accused dragged her upstairs and again pushed her inside a room. [AAA] sat on the lone chair inside the room. Accused approached her, pulled her from the chair and pushed her into the bed. [AAA] got up and ran to the door but the accused grabbed her before she could reach it and pushed her again to the bed. [AAA] pleaded to the accused, telling him: "Pakawalan mo na ako. Ayoko na dito. Meron pa akong pamilya. Sana maintindihan mo na hindi ako ganun klaseng babae, meron pa naman iba pang babae dyan." However, the accused did not heed her plea but instead, pinned her to the bed, grabbed her pants destroying the zipper in the process, stripped her of her panty and pants. Accused then removed his t-shirt, shorts and underwear and rubbed his penis against her vagina, inserted it into her vagina and made pumping motions a couple of times. [AAA] felt pain. She kept on pleading to the accused to stop abusing her, but the accused told her. "Ang sarap-sarap mo. Pasensya ka na [AAA] nakagamit ako ng drugs." After a while, [AAA] felt that
5

something sticky was released from the accused. He then wore his t-shirt, underwear and shorts. [AAA] could no longer move as she was still in the state of shock and at the time, feeling sorry for herself for what had happened to her. After the accused had sexual intercourse with [AAA], accused directed her to dress up to which she complied. Before they went out of the room, accused told her not to make any scene, otherwise, he would not hesitate to shoot her. When he dropped her off somewhere in Cubao, Quezon City, he again threatened her not to report the incident to the police as he would kill her. He even got her cell phone number. When the accused was gone, [AAA] boarded a taxi and proceeded to the office where she narrated to her supervisor and officemates what happened to her. Her officemates accompanied her to Police Station 7, Camp Panopio, P. Tuazon corner EDSA, Quezon City where she reported the incident and executed a sworn statement (Exhibit A). At around 12:20 a.m. of April 17, 2003, while PO2 Mario Palic was on duty at Police Station 7, victim [AAA] arrived and reported her ordeal in the hands of the accused. Officer Palic, together with fellow police officers, namely, Police Inspector Gatos, PO3 Nacional, PO1 Sapulaan and PO2 Lanaso immediately conducted follow-up operations which led to the arrest of the accused in front of the Baliwag Bus Terminal, Cubao, Quezon City. Recovered from him was a .45 caliber Peter Stahl pistol with serial number A414 and five (5) ammunitions (Exhibits E and E-1 to E-5). The police officers likewise brought the black Mitsubishi Adventure with plate number CSV 606 (Exhibit F) to the police station for proper disposition. The investigation conducted by PO2 Regundina Sosa disclosed that accuseds Permit to Carry Firearm No. 1 -B149052 has already expired on January 11, 2003 (Exhibit H). Medico-Legal Report No. M-1231-03, dated April 24, 2003, submitted by Dr. Pierre Paul Carpio states that "Subject is in 6 non-virgin state physically. There are no external signs of application of any form of trauma." (Exhibit K) Petitioner denied the accusation and claimed that what happened between him and AAA was a consensual sex.1wphi1The RTC summarized the evidence for the defense as follows: At around 8:00 p.m. of April 16, 2006 (sic), which was a Holy Tuesday, [AAA] boarded his van in Bocaue, taking the front passenger seat. Aside from her, he has other four (4) passengers, two were seated at the middle passenger seat and the other two (2) were at the back passenger seat. While he was driving, he had a conversation with [AAA], such as she was a graduate of AMA Computer School, that she works in a computer company, that she sends her siblings to school, that her father is in a rehabilitation center and her parents are separated, that she has many rich suitors, that she has a hard time sending her siblings to school and she needs money at that time. In return, accused told [AAA] that he owns the van and that his wife works abroad. He made "bola" to her and offered to give her P4,000.00 and some signature clothes. [AAA] did not respond, so he just continue[d] driving. When they reached Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City, the other four (4) passengers alighted. From there, he made a U-turn, proceeded to their terminal and told the dispatcher to include him in his list so he could ply back to Cabanatuan. Considering that [AAA] did not make any attempt to alight from the van, he made a right turn to New York Street, Cubao, Quezon City, right turn again at the back of the terminal and proceeded to Aurora Blvd. He then asked [AAA] "ano?" When [AAA] did not respond again, he drove going to Sta. Mesa, Manila and proceeded to Gardenia Hotel. They waited for about two (2) minutes inside the premises of the hotel, as there were no vacant rooms at that time. Thereafter, a bellboy carrying a pail, approached them and pointed to a room. However, accused wanted a garage room so he opened the door of his van about a foot wide as his window had been damaged and told the bellboy what he wanted. The bellboy acceded to his request and directed them to a garage room. Accused maneuvered the van inside the garage. They went out of the van and proceeded upstairs where the room was located. When they entered, the bellboy, who was cleaning the room, left. [AAA] entered the comfort room, while accused watched T.V. After coming out of the comfort room, [AAA] sat on the bed. Accused started kissing her on the neck and removed her tube blouse and transparent strapless bra and kissed her breasts, while [AAA] held his private part. When he reached out for the zipper of her pants and began unzipping it, [AAA] stood up and willingly removed her pants. Accused also removed his pants. He touched her private part and inserted his fingers on it. [AAA] embraced him, held his penis and she herself inserted it on her vagina. They made pumping motions. The sexual congress lasted for quite sometime because [AAA] even went on top of him, during which time, he held her breast. After [AAA] reached her climax, he went on top of her and afterwards, he ejaculated so he withdrew his penis from her vagina. Thereafter, they dressed up. Accused was about to pay [AAA] P800.00, but he changed his mind and instead, gave her P600.00 only and pocketed the remainingP200.00. [AAA] did not anymore [count] the money. He summoned the bellboy, paid their bill, went out of the room and boarded the van. While they were waiting for the bellboy to open the garage door, he checked his gun which he placed under the drivers seat. He even showed it to [AAA]. When the garage door was opened, they left the hotel premises and proceeded to Cubao. They passed by the SM Department Store but since it was already 11:00 p.m., it was already closed so he was not able to buy her the blouse and wallet that he promised her. He also told her that he had no more money. That irritated [AAA] who suddenly

grabbed his wallet lying on the [dashboard]. Accused stopped the van, got back the wallet from [AAA] and even pulled her hair ("Sinabunutan ko po siya"). [AAA] got angry and called him "hayop." He then dropped her off somewhere in Cubao, while he went back to their terminal. At about 11:00 p.m., he plied the van to San Carlos, Pangasinan, reaching the place at about 4:00 a.m. the following day, April 17, 2003. From there, he went back to Cabanatuan terminal, arriving there at 5:30 a.m. After talking to the dispatcher, he went home to Bangad and slept. He woke up about lunchtime, took a bath, and plied again his van, leaving Cabanatuan at 1:00 p.m. and reaching Cubao at 4:00 p.m. It was then that he was arrested. While they were on board the police vehicle, one of the policemen showed him a picture which he recognized as [AAA]. The policemen brought him to Police Station 7 where he was told that a grave offense was filed against him. They demanded the amount of P150,000.00 for his release. The next day, his mother and sister arrived and talked to the policemen. His mother and sister agreed to pay the amount of P150,000.00 but when they came back, they were already accompanied by his lawyer, Atty. Hernani Barrios, who advised them not to yield to the demand which they did. He was presented to the inquest fiscal and transferred to the Quezon City Jail where he is detained up to now. Accused further testified that he, being a civilian agent of the MICO, Philippine Army, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, was carrying a caliber .45 Peter Stahl pistol (Exhibit E) with five (5) ammunitions (Exhibits A1 to A-5). However, the policemen took his Permit to Carry Firearm, Memorandum Receipt (MR) and Mission Order (MO) when they arrested him. Nova Tabbu, accuseds sister, merely corroborated his test imony that the policemen demanded the amount ofP150,000.00 for his release. xxx xxx xxx

Erwin Ocampo, a technical sergeant of the 46th Military Intelligence Company, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, testified that the accused is a presidential agent for which reason he has on file an Agent Recruitment Report, Agent Agreement, Application for I.D. card, Oath of Loyalty, Pseudonym Agreement, Profile Penetration Agent and Human Resource Report. Geronimo Ebrogar testified that he noticed the accused leaving the bus terminal at around 8:00 p.m. on April 16, 2003 with 7 a female companion; that when the accused returned at 10:30 p.m. of the same night, he was alone. On December 14, 2007, the RTC issued a Joint Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows: In Criminal Case No. Q-03-116710, the Court finds accused ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping with Rape and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA with all the accessory penalties provided by law, and to pay private complainant (AAA) the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and P100,000.00 as moral damages. In Criminal Case No. Q-03-116711, the Court finds ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Violation of P.D. 1866, as amended by R.A. 8294, and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate sentence of six (6) 8 months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months, and to pay a fine of thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00). The RTC found AAA's testimony, narrating how petitioner raped her, to be candid and straightforward, thus reflective of her honesty and credibility. It found nothing on record that would show that AAA was actuated by ill motive in filing the charges against petitioner. The RTC also noted that AAA even cried when she testified in court. It did not believe petitioner's claim that AAA was a small time prostitute, considering that she was a college graduate who was already working at the time of the incident and the fact that she immediately reported the rape incident to the police despite threat to her life. As to the charge of illegal possession of firearm and ammunitions, the RTC found the elements of the crime to be duly proven. AAA testified that petitioner pointed a gun at her and because of such threat submitted herself to his bestial desire; the gun, as well as the ammunitions, was offered in evidence and even the accused admitted that he had a gun at the time of the incident. It was established through the testimony of police investigator Regundina Sosa that based on petitioner's permit to carry firearm outside residence, the same had already expired on January 11, 2003, few months before his apprehension. Petitioner filed his appeal with the CA. The Office of the Solicitor General filed its Comment and petitioner his Reply thereto.

On March 17, 2009, the CA issued its assailed Decision affirming petitioner's conviction. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads: WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed Decision dated December 14, 2007 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as follows: 1. Regarding Criminal Case No. Q-03-116710, the Court finds accused ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE qualified by the use of a deadly weapon, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA with all the accessory penalties provided by law, and to pay private complainant the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and P100,000.00 as moral damages. 2. Anent Criminal Case No. Q-03-116711, the Court finds accused ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Violation of P.D. 1866, as amended by R.A. 8294, and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate sentence of thirty (30) days to four (4) months. SO ORDERED.
9

In so ruling, the CA pointed out that the crime committed was not kidnapping with rape, but only rape qualified with the use of a deadly weapon. Applying jurisprudence, it said that if the offender is only to rape the victim and in the process, the latter had to be illegally detained, only the crime of rape is committed since illegal detention is deemed absorbed in rape. The CA upheld the RTC's assessment of AAA's credibility, because of its unique position to observe the deportment of the witness while testifying. It also found that while the prosecution was able to prove that petitioner's license to carry said firearm outside residence already expired at the time he was apprehended with it, however, there was no showing that the firearm he carried on April 17, 2003 was not licensed or its license had expired, thus petitioner could only be liable for carrying a licensed firearm outside his residence under the last paragraph of Section 1, P.D. 1866, as amended. Hence, this petition for review on the following assignment of errors: A. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT, GIVING FULL CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT , WHICH IS PUNCTURED WITH MATERIAL INCONSISTENCY, UNCERTAINTY, UNRELIABILTY AND WHOSE TESTIMONIES WERE INHERENTLY WEAK, FLAWED AND CONTRARY TO NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR THEREBY CASTING GRAVE DOUBT ON THE CRIMINAL CULPABILITY OF THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT. IT LIKEWISE TOOK THE TESTIMONY OF THE COMPLAINANT AS GOSPEL TRUTH SANS ANY CRITICAL SCRUTINY AND ACCEPTED THE SAME WITH PRECIPITATE CREDULITY. B. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT BY FAILING TO APPRECIATE NUMEROUS VITAL EVIDENCE, WHICH IF CONSIDERED, WOULD OTHERWISE RESULT IN THE ACQUITTAL OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT. C. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT IN FINDING THAT ACCUSEDAPPELLANT USED A DEADLY WEAPON AGAINST COMPLAINANT IN THE PERPETUATION OF THE ALLEGED INCIDENT IN QUESTION. D. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT WHEN THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO MEET THE STANDARD OF 10 MORAL CERTAINTY. Petitioner faults the CA for affirming his conviction on the basis of AAAs inconsistent and incredible testimony. He argues that he and AAA had given two conflicting testimonies and the RTC erred in giving more weight to the unsubstantiated testimony of AAA. Petitioners assignment of errors hinges on AAAs credibility and the sufficiency of the prosecution evidence to convict him of the crimes charged. In People v. Espino, Jr., we said:
11

Time and again, we have held that when the decision hinges on the credibility of witnesses and their respective testimonies, the trial court's observations and conclusions deserve great respect and are often accorded finality, unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower court may have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated and which, if properly considered, would alter the result of the case. The trial judge enjoys the advantage of observing the witness' deportment and manner of testifying, her "furtive glance, blush of conscious shame, hesitation, flippant or sneering tone, calmness, sigh, or the scant or full realization of an oath" all of which are useful aids for an accurate determination of a witness' honesty and sincerity. The trial judge, therefore, can better determine if such witnesses were telling the truth, being in the ideal position to weigh conflicting testimonies. Unless certain facts of substance and value were overlooked which, if considered, might affect the result of the case, its assessment must be respected for it had the opportunity to observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses while testifying and detect if they were lying. The rule finds an even more stringent application where said findings are sustained 12 by the Court of Appeals. We find no reason to disregard the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, that AAA was raped by petitioner on April 16, 2003, since their findings were supported by the evidence on record. AAA testified in a straightforward manner, declaring that petitioner, with the use of a gun poked at her chest, drove her to a motel and brought her to the motel parking garage, dragged her to the second floor, then pushed her to the room and then to the bed. She tried to run and reach for the door, but petitioner grabbed her and pushed her back to the bed. She was stripped of her pants and panty and, thereafter, petitioner took off his shorts and underwear and despite her plea, forced himself to her and had sex with her. Afterwards, 13 with the gun in his hand, petitioner threatened to kill her if she would report the matter to the police. In rape cases, the essential element that the prosecution must prove is the absence of the victims consent to the sexual 14 congress. The gravamen of the crime of rape is sexual congress with a woman by force or intimidation and without 15 consent. Force in rape is relative, depending on the age, size and strength of the parties. In the same manner, intimidation must be viewed in the light of the victims perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the crime and not by 16 any hard and fast rule. Petitioners act of holding a gun and threatening AAA with the same showed force or at least intimidation which was sufficient for her to submit to petitioners bestial desire for fear of her life. Petitioner denies having raped AAA and claims that what transpired between him and AAA was a consensual sex. In his desire to be acquitted of the crime of rape, petitioner insists that AAAs testimony was replete with incredibilities and inconsistencies, thus not worthy of credence. First, petitioner claims that while AAA testified during her direct examination that his right arm was on her shoulder with a gun pointed at her chest, she also testified during her cross-examination that she was texting her officemates, thus under such a circumstance, it would be insane for him to allow her to text her officemates if he has plans of raping her. We do not agree. A reading of AAAs testimony during her cross-examination shows that she never said that she was texting her officemates at the time that a gun was already pointed at her. She testified that she was the last passenger in the vehicle driven by 17 petitioner and the latter told her that he had no change for the 100-peso bill fare she paid him; that petitioner continued driving, but when he did not stop in a store they passed by to have the 100-peso bill changed, it was then that she texted 18 19 her officemates. She decided to go down the vehicle, but it was moving fast and, thereafter, petitioner pulled her nearer 20 to him by putting his right hand on her shoulder and pointed a gun at her chest. Hence, the texting of officemates happened before the gun was poked at her. The fact that not one of AAA's textmates was presented as witness would not detract from her credibility. Jurisprudence has steadfastly been already repetitious that the accused may be convicted on the sole testimony of the victim in a rape case, provided that such testimony is credible, natural, convincing, and consistent with human nature and the normal 21 course of things. AAA repeatedly stated that petitioner sexually abused her against her will. The straightforward narration by AAA of what transpired, accompanied by her categorical identification of petitioner as the malefactor, sealed the case 22 for the prosecution. Second, petitioner assails AAA's vivid remembrance of the places they passed by, which shows her relaxed condition in petitioners company.

Such contention is devoid of merit. AAA was a 21-year-old working woman and was not blindfolded when they were traversing the roads on the way to the motel. Thus, she was able to read the landmarks and logos in the places that they passed by which included the name of the motel. Third, petitioner contends that AAA had several opportunities to ask for help or escape while they were in the motel, i.e., when petitioner was negotiating with the motel roomboy for a room with a parking garage, and after the roomboy had left the garage and petitioner pushed her outside of the vehicle. We are not persuaded. AAA testified that when petitioner slightly opened the window of the driver's side to talk to the roomboy, only a part of 23 petitioner's head could be seen and since the vehicle was heavily tinted, the roomboy could not see her. Also, she could 24 not also say a thing because the gun was poked at her. And after she was pushed out of the vehicle, she tried to escape 25 but petitioner who was still holding the gun went out of the vehicle and got hold of her. These circumstances present no 26 opportunity for her to escape. Moreover, people react differently under emotional stress. There is no standard form of behavior when one is confronted by a shocking incident, especially if the assailant is physically near. The workings of the 27 human mind when placed under emotional stress are unpredictable. In a given situation, some may shout, others may faint, and still others may be frozen into silence. Consequently, the failure of complainant to run away or shout for help at 28 the very first opportunity cannot be construed consent to the sexual intercourse. Fourth, petitioner avers that to strip an unwilling person of her clothes will result in a serious struggle. However, the medical report did not show any indication of contusion or hematoma on AAA's legs or abdomen. Even assuming that AAA failed to put up a strong resistance to repel petitioner's physical aggression, such failure does not mean that she was not raped. Petitioner had a gun which was sufficient to intimidate her and to submit to his lustful desire. It is well settled that physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon a victim and 29 the latter submits herself, against her will, to the rapists advances because of fear for her life and personal safety. Fifth, petitioner points out the impossibility of AAA's account that his right arm was around her right shoulder poking a gun at her chest while his left hand was at the wheels, because such position would not allow him to change gear while making turns. Such contention remained unsubstantiated and, therefore, self-serving. As the Solicitor General correctly argued, petitioner neglected to prove such impossibility by actual demonstration which is fatal to his cause. Sixth, petitioner insists that he and AAA had a getting-to-know conversation during the trip, which explained why AAA even testified that he uttered her name during the sexual act; that she even got his cell phone number and it was through her text message that she arranged a tip for his arrest. Such contention fails to persuade. Granting that they had a conversation during the trip since AAA was seated in the front seat, such circumstance did not establish that she agreed to the sexual act. In fact, there is no evidence to prove petitioners claim that after the incident, AAA texted him and arranged for them to meet and was then apprehended by the police. The prosecution established that it was through the efforts of the police that petitioner was apprehended. Police Officer Mario Palic testified that based on 30 the complaint for rape lodged by AAA in their station, he and the other police officers made a follow-up. After which, they received an information that the vehicle used in the rape incident was parked along Edsa, New York, Quezon City, in front 31 of the Baliwag Terminal. Together with AAA, they proceeded to the place where the vehicle was parked and when AAA 32 saw petitioner standing near the parked vehicle, she identified him as her rapist. Seventh, petitioner claims that his failure to give AAA the amount of P4,000.00 and the things he had promised to buy for her was the reason why AAA charged him with the crime of rape. Such argument deserves scant consideration.

We find apropos what the RTC said in the issue, thus: x x x Even in these very hard times, the court could not believe that AAA, a college graduate of x x x Computer College and working as a Product Support Representative with x x x would stoop so low to subject herself to the shame and scandal of 33 having undergone such a debasing defilement of her chastity if the charge filed were not true. In fact, while petitioner, in his direct testimony, was portraying AAA as a prostitute, the latter cried. AAA's crying shows how she might have felt after being raped by the petitioner and yet be accused of a woman of loose morals. The victim's moral character in rape is immaterial where it is shown that intimidation was used for the victim to have sex with the 35 accused. The truthfulness of AAAs charge for rape was further bolstered by her conduct immediately after the rape incident. After petitioner dropped her off in Cubao, AAA immediately went to her office and narrated her ordeal to her officemates. Accompanied by them, she went to the police station to report the incident and submitted herself to medical examination. However, as to petitioner's conviction for illegal possession of firearms, such judgment must be set aside. We find that he can no longer be held liable for such offense since another crime was committed, i.e., rape. P.D. 1866, as amended by RA 8294, the law governing Illegal Possession of Firearms provides: SECTION 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition Instruments Used or intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000) shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any low powered firearm, such as rimfire handgun, .380 or .32 and other firearm of similar firepower, part of firearm, ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition:Provided, That no other crime was committed. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period and a fine of Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000) shall be imposed if the firearm is classified as high-powered firearm which includes those with bores bigger in diameter than .38 caliber and 9 millimeter, such as caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser-calibered firearms but considered powerful, such as caliber .357 and caliber .22 center-fire magnum and other firearms with firing capability of full automatic and by burst of two or three: Provided, however, That no other crime was committed by the person arrested. If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance. If the violation of this Section is in furtherance of or incident to, or in connection with the crime of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup detat, such violation shall be absorbed as an element of the crime of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup detat. The same penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, manager, director or other responsible officer of any public or private firm, company, corporation or entity, who shall willfully or knowingly allow any of the firearms owned by such firm, company, corporation or entity to be used by any person or persons found guilty of violating the provisions of the preceding paragraphs or willfully or knowingly allow any of them to use, unlicensed firearms or firearms without any legal authority to be carried outside of their residence in the course of their employment. The penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall carry any licensed firearm outside his residence without legal authority therefor. In People v. Ladjaalam, we laid down the correct interpretation of the law and ruled: x x x A simple reading thereof shows that if an unlicensed firearm is used in the commission of any crime, there can be no separate offense of simple illegal possession of firearms. Hence, if the "other crime" is murder or homicide, illegal possession of firearms becomes merely an aggravating circumstance, not a separate offense. Since direct assault with multiple attempted homicide was committed in this case, appellant can no longer be held liable for illegal possession of firearms.
36 34

Moreover, penal laws are construed liberally in favor of the accused. In this case, the plain meaning of RA 8294s simple language is most favorable to herein appellant. Verily, no other interpretation is justified, for the language of the new law demonstrates the legislative intent to favor the accused. Accordingly, appellant cannot be convicted of two separate offenses of illegal possession of firearms and direct assault with attempted homicide. Moreover, since the crime committed was direct assault and not homicide or murder, illegal possession of firearms cannot be deemed an aggravating circumstance. xxxx x x x The law is clear: the accused can be convicted of simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that "no other crime was committed by the person arrested." If the intention of the law in the second paragraph were to refer only to homicide and murder, it should have expressly said so, as it did in the third paragraph. Verily, where the law does not distinguish, 37 neither should we. All told, we affirm petitioner's conviction for the crime of rape. However, petitioner's conviction of illegal possession of firearms is set aside. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. The prosecution was able to sufficiently allege in the Information, and establish during trial, that a gun was used in the commission of rape. Since no aggravating or 38 mitigating circumstance was established in the commission of the crime, the lesser penalty shall be imposed. Thus, we affirm the penalty of reclusion perpetua meted by the courts below. As to the damages awarded for the crime of qualified rape, however, modifications are in order. 1wphi1 Considering that the penalty imposable is reclusion perpetua, the award of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity must be reduced 39 toP50,000.00. Also the award of P100,000.00 as moral damages should be reduced to P50,000.00 based on prevailing 40 jurisprudence. Exemplary damages in the amount of P30,000.00 should be awarded by reason of the established presence 41 of the qualifying circumstance of use of a deadly weapon. In addition, interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum shall be imposed on all damages awarded from the date of 42 finality of this judgment until fully paid, likewise pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence. WHEREFORE, the Decision dated March 17, 2009 of the Court of Appeals, sentencing petitioner Arnel Sison y Escuadro to reclusion perpetua for the crime of qualified rape, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that he is ORDERED to pay AAA the reduced amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages. Petitioner is also ORDERED to pay P30,000.00 as exemplary damages and interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum is imposed on all the damages awarded from the date of finality of this judgment until fully paid. Petitioner's conviction of Illegal Possession of Firearms is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. ATTESTATION I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division. PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. Associate Justice Third Division, Chairperson CERTIFICATION Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

RENATO C. CORONA Chief Justice THIRD DIVISION [G.R. No. 187229, February 22, 2012] ARNEL SISON Y ESCUADRO, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT. DECISION PERALTA, J.: Before us is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision dated March 17, [2] 2009, which affirmed with modification the Joint Decision dated December 14, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Quezon City, Branch 81, finding petitioner Arnel Sison guilty of the crimes of rape and violation of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1866, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8294. On April 21, 2003, two (2) separate Informations were filed with the RTC against petitioner for Kidnapping with Rape and violation of P.D. 1866, as amended by R.A. 8294 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions). The accusatory portions of the two (2) Informations respectively state: Criminal Case No. Q-03-116710 That on or about the 16th day of April 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, by means of force, violence and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, armed with firearm, kidnap and rape one [AAA] in the following manner, to wit: said [AAA] boarded the Mitsubishi Adventure with plate no. CSV-606, driven by the accused who was then plying his route at Bocaue Toll Gate going to Cubao, Quezon City, and upon reaching EDSA corner New York Street, Cubao, this City, accused suddenly poked his gun at her, kidnap and detain her and forcibly brought her at the Town and Country, Sta. Mesa, Manila, where accused had carnal knowledge of her by force and intimidation against her [3] will and without her consent. Criminal Case No. Q-03-116711 That on or about the 17th day of April 2003, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, without any authority of law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession and under his custody and control one (1) Peter Stahl .45 caliber pistol with Serial Number A414 with five (5) ammunitions, without first having secured the necessary [4] license/permit issued by the proper authorities. Petitioner pleaded not guilty to both charges. Trial thereafter ensued. During the trial, two different versions were presented. The evidence for the prosecution, as aptly summarized by the RTC and adopted by the CA, are as follows: Private complainant [AAA] was, at the time of subject incident, a resident of x x x and was working on a 10:00 p.m. 7:00 a.m. shift as a Product Support Representative with x x x. Since her residence is quite far from her place of work and considering her working hours, her aunt would usually bring her to the Bocaue toll gate and from there, she would ride either a Tamaraw FX or bus going to Cubao bound to her office. At around 8:00 p.m. of April 16, 2003, *AAA+ boarded accuseds passenger van, a black Mitsubishi Adventure with plate number CSV-606, at the Bocaue toll gate. She sat at the front passenger seat as it was the only vacant seat at that time since there were already nine passengers on board. When they reached Quezon City, the passengers alighted one by one, the last of whom alighted in New York Street, Cubao, Quezon City. [AAA] was supposed to alight in Aurora Blvd. When they were already in front of Nepa Q-Mart and [AAA] was the only passenger left in the van, accused told her that he would change first the P100.00 bill that she paid. Her fare was only P30.00, so she still had a change of P70.00. Accused made a few turns until they reached an alley, with nobody passing through. [AAA] felt uneasy so she told the accused that she would alight, but then she heard cocking of a gun. Accused suddenly put his right arm over her right shoulder, drew her
[5] [1]

nearer to him, pointed a gun at her chest with his right hand, while [he] continued driving with his left hand. Accused kept driving for about ten to twenty minutes until such time that they entered a drive-thru. [AAA] saw the logo of the Town and Country Motel. She also noticed the signage of the AMA Computer College so she presumed that they were in Sta. Mesa, Quezon City. A boy approached the van and the accused slightly opened the window beside him. The boy pointed to a garage room to which the accused entered. When they were already inside the garage, the accused pushed [AAA] out of the van. With the gun pointed at her, accused dragged her upstairs and again pushed her inside a room. [AAA] sat on the lone chair inside the room. Accused approached her, pulled her from the chair and pushed her into the bed. [AAA] got up and ran to the door but the accused grabbed her before she could reach it and pushed her again to the bed. [AAA] pleaded to the accused, telling him: Pakawalan mo na ako. Ayoko na dito. Meron pa akong pamilya. Sana maintindihan mo na hindi ako ganun klaseng babae, meron pa naman iba pang babae dyan. However, the accused did not heed her plea but instead, pinned her to the bed, grabbed her pants destroying the zipper in the process, stripped her of her panty and pants. Accused then removed his t-shirt, shorts and underwear and rubbed his penis against her vagina, inserted it into her vagina and made pumping motions a couple of times. [AAA] felt pain. She kept on pleading to the accused to stop abusing her, but the accused told her. Ang sarap-sarap mo. Pasensya ka na *AAA+ nakagamit ako ng drugs. After a while, [AAA] felt that something sticky was released from the accused. He then wore his t-shirt, underwear and shorts. [AAA] could no longer move as she was still in the state of shock and at the time, feeling sorry for herself for what had happened to her. After the accused had sexual intercourse with [AAA], accused directed her to dress up to which she complied. Before they went out of the room, accused told her not to make any scene, otherwise, he would not hesitate to shoot her. When he dropped her off somewhere in Cubao, Quezon City, he again threatened her not to report the incident to the police as he would kill her. He even got her cell phone number. When the accused was gone, [AAA] boarded a taxi and proceeded to the office where she narrated to her supervisor and officemates what happened to her. Her officemates accompanied her to Police Station 7, Camp Panopio, P. Tuazon corner EDSA, Quezon City where she reported the incident and executed a sworn statement (Exhibit A). At around 12:20 a.m. of April 17, 2003, while PO2 Mario Palic was on duty at Police Station 7, victim [AAA] arrived and reported her ordeal in the hands of the accused. Officer Palic, together with fellow police officers, namely, Police Inspector Gatos, PO3 Nacional, PO1 Sapulaan and PO2 Lanaso immediately conducted follow-up operations which led to the arrest of the accused in front of the Baliwag Bus Terminal, Cubao, Quezon City. Recovered from him was a .45 caliber Peter Stahl pistol with serial number A414 and five (5) ammunitions (Exhibits E and E-1 to E-5). The police officers likewise brought the black Mitsubishi Adventure with plate number CSV 606 (Exhibit F) to the police station for proper disposition. The investigation conducted by PO2 Regundina Sosa disclosed that accuseds Permit to Carry Firearm No. 1 -B149052 has already expired on January 11, 2003 (Exhibit H). Medico-Legal Report No. M-1231-03, dated April 24, 2003, submitted by Dr. Pierre Paul Carpio states that Subject is in [6] non-virgin state physically. There are no external signs of application of any form of trauma. (Exhibit K) Petitioner denied the accusation and claimed that what happened between him and AAA was a consensual sex. The RTC summarized the evidence for the defense as follows: At around 8:00 p.m. of April 16, 2006 (sic), which was a Holy Tuesday, [AAA] boarded his van in Bocaue, taking the front passenger seat. Aside from her, he has other four (4) passengers, two were seated at the middle passenger seat and the other two (2) were at the back passenger seat. While he was driving, he had a conversation with [AAA], such as she was a graduate of AMA Computer School, that she works in a computer company, that she sends her siblings to school, that her father is in a rehabilitation center and her parents are separated, that she has many rich suitors, that she has a hard time sending her siblings to school and she needs money at that time. In return, accused told [AAA] that he owns the van and that his wife works abroad. He made bola to her and offered to give her P4,000.00 and some signature clothes. *AAA+ did not respond, so he just continue[d] driving. When they reached Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City, the other four (4) passengers alighted. From there, he made a U-turn, proceeded to their terminal and told the dispatcher to include him in his list so he could ply back to Cabanatuan. Considering that [AAA] did not make any attempt to alight from the van, he made a right turn to New York Street, Cubao, Quezon City, right turn again at the back of the terminal and proceeded to Aurora Blvd. He then asked *AAA+ ano? When [AAA] did not respond again, he drove going to Sta. Mesa, Manila and proceeded to Gardenia Hotel. They waited for about two (2) minutes inside the premises of the hotel, as there were no vacant rooms at that time. Thereafter, a bellboy carrying a pail, approached them and pointed to a room. However, accused wanted a garage room so he opened the door of his van about a foot wide as his window had been damaged and told the bellboy what he wanted. The bellboy acceded to his request and directed them to a garage room. Accused maneuvered the van inside the garage. They went out of the van and proceeded upstairs where the room was located. When they entered,

the bellboy, who was cleaning the room, left. [AAA] entered the comfort room, while accused watched T.V. After coming out of the comfort room, [AAA] sat on the bed. Accused started kissing her on the neck and removed her tube blouse and transparent strapless bra and kissed her breasts, while [AAA] held his private part. When he reached out for the zipper of her pants and began unzipping it, [AAA] stood up and willingly removed her pants. Accused also removed his pants. He touched her private part and inserted his fingers on it. [AAA] embraced him, held his penis and she herself inserted it on her vagina. They made pumping motions. The sexual congress lasted for quite sometime because [AAA] even went on top of him, during which time, he held her breast. After [AAA] reached her climax, he went on top of her and afterwards, he ejaculated so he withdrew his penis from her vagina. Thereafter, they dressed up. Accused was about to pay [AAA] P800.00, but he changed his mind and instead, gave her P600.00 only and pocketed the remaining P200.00. [AAA] did not anymore [count] the money. He summoned the bellboy, paid their bill, went out of the room and boarded the van. While they were waiting for the bellboy to open the garage door, he checked his gun which he placed under the drivers seat. He even showed it to [AAA]. When the garage door was opened, they left the hotel premises and proceeded to Cubao. They passed by the SM Department Store but since it was already 11:00 p.m., it was already closed so he was not able to buy her the blouse and wallet that he promised her. He also told her that he had no more money. That irritated [AAA] who suddenly grabbed his wallet lying on the [dashboard]. Accused stopped the van, got back the wallet from [AAA] and even pulled her hair (Sinabunutan ko po siya). *AAA+ got angry and called him hayop. He then dropped her off somewhere in Cubao, while he went back to their terminal. At about 11:00 p.m., he plied the van to San Carlos, Pangasinan, reaching the place at about 4:00 a.m. the following day, April 17, 2003. From there, he went back to Cabanatuan terminal, arriving there at 5:30 a.m. After talking to the dispatcher, he went home to Bangad and slept. He woke up about lunchtime, took a bath, and plied again his van, leaving Cabanatuan at 1:00 p.m. and reaching Cubao at 4:00 p.m. It was then that he was arrested. While they were on board the police vehicle, one of the policemen showed him a picture which he recognized as [AAA]. The policemen brought him to Police Station 7 where he was told that a grave offense was filed against him. They demanded the amount of P150,000.00 for his release. The next day, his mother and sister arrived and talked to the policemen. His mother and sister agreed to pay the amount of P150,000.00 but when they came back, they were already accompanied by his lawyer, Atty. Hernani Barrios, who advised them not to yield to the demand which they did. He was presented to the inquest fiscal and transferred to the Quezon City Jail where he is detained up to now. Accused further testified that he, being a civilian agent of the MICO, Philippine Army, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, was carrying a caliber .45 Peter Stahl pistol (Exhibit E) with five (5) ammunitions (Exhibits A1 to A-5). However, the policemen took his Permit to Carry Firearm, Memorandum Receipt (MR) and Mission Order (MO) when they arrested him. Nova Tabbu, accuseds sister, merely corroborated his testimony that the policemen demanded the amount of P150,000.00 for his release. xxx xxx xxx Erwin Ocampo, a technical sergeant of the 46th Military Intelligence Company, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, testified that the accused is a presidential agent for which reason he has on file an Agent Recruitment Report, Agent Agreement, Application for I.D. card, Oath of Loyalty, Pseudonym Agreement, Profile Penetration Agent and Human Resource Report. Geronimo Ebrogar testified that he noticed the accused leaving the bus terminal at around 8:00 p.m. on April 16, 2003 with [7] a female companion; that when the accused returned at 10:30 p.m. of the same night, he was alone. On December 14, 2007, the RTC issued a Joint Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered as follows: In Criminal Case No. Q-03-116710, the Court finds accused ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping with Rape and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA with all the accessory penalties provided by law, and to pay private complainant (AAA) the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and P100,000.00 as moral damages. In Criminal Case No. Q-03-116711, the Court finds ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Violation of P.D. 1866, as amended by R.A. 8294, and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate sentence of six (6) [8] months and one (1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months, and to pay a fine of thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00). The RTC found AAA's testimony, narrating how petitioner raped her, to be candid and straightforward, thus reflective of her honesty and credibility. It found nothing on record that would show that AAA was actuated by ill motive in filing the charges against petitioner. The RTC also noted that AAA even cried when she testified in court. It did not believe petitioner's claim

that AAA was a small time prostitute, considering that she was a college graduate who was already working at the time of the incident and the fact that she immediately reported the rape incident to the police despite threat to her life. As to the charge of illegal possession of firearm and ammunitions, the RTC found the elements of the crime to be duly proven. AAA testified that petitioner pointed a gun at her and because of such threat submitted herself to his bestial desire; the gun, as well as the ammunitions, was offered in evidence and even the accused admitted that he had a gun at the time of the incident. It was established through the testimony of police investigator Regundina Sosa that based on petitioner's permit to carry firearm outside residence, the same had already expired on January 11, 2003, few months before his apprehension. Petitioner filed his appeal with the CA. The Office of the Solicitor General filed its Comment and petitioner his Reply thereto. On March 17, 2009, the CA issued its assailed Decision affirming petitioner's conviction. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads: WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed Decision dated December 14, 2007 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION as follows: 1. Regarding Criminal Case No. Q-03-116710, the Court finds accused ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE qualified by the use of a deadly weapon, and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA with all the accessory penalties provided by law, and to pay private complainant the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity and P100,000.00 as moral damages. 2. Anent Criminal Case No. Q-03-116711, the Court finds accused ARNEL SISON y ESCUADRO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of Violation of P.D. 1866, as amended by R.A. 8294, and is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate sentence of thirty (30) days to four (4) months. SO ORDERED.
[9]

In so ruling, the CA pointed out that the crime committed was not kidnapping with rape, but only rape qualified with the use of a deadly weapon. Applying jurisprudence, it said that if the offender is only to rape the victim and in the process, the latter had to be illegally detained, only the crime of rape is committed since illegal detention is deemed absorbed in rape. The CA upheld the RTC's assessment of AAA's credibility, because of its unique position to observe the deportment of the witness while testifying. It also found that while the prosecution was able to prove that petitioner's license to carry said firearm outside residence already expired at the time he was apprehended with it, however, there was no showing that the firearm he carried on April 17, 2003 was not licensed or its license had expired, thus petitioner could only be liable for carrying a licensed firearm outside his residence under the last paragraph of Section 1, P.D. 1866, as amended. Hence, this petition for review on the following assignment of errors: A. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT, GIVING FULL CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT , WHICH IS PUNCTURED WITH MATERIAL INCONSISTENCY, UNCERTAINTY, UNRELIABILTY AND WHOSE TESTIMONIES WERE INHERENTLY WEAK, FLAWED AND CONTRARY TO NORMAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR THEREBY CASTING GRAVE DOUBT ON THE CRIMINAL CULPABILITY OF THE ACCUSED- APPELLANT. IT LIKEWISE TOOK THE TESTIMONY OF THE COMPLAINANT AS GOSPEL TRUTH SANS ANY CRITICAL SCRUTINY AND ACCEPTED THE SAME WITH PRECIPITATE CREDULITY. B. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT BY FAILING TO APPRECIATE NUMEROUS VITAL EVIDENCE, WHICH IF CONSIDERED, WOULD OTHERWISE RESULT IN THE ACQUITTAL OF THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT. C. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT IN FINDING THAT ACCUSEDAPPELLANT USED A DEADLY WEAPON AGAINST COMPLAINANT IN THE PERPETUATION OF THE ALLEGED INCIDENT IN QUESTION. D. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANT WHEN THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO MEET THE STANDARD OF MORAL [10] CERTAINTY.

Petitioner faults the CA for affirming his conviction on the basis of AAAs inconsistent and incredible testimony. He argues that he and AAA had given two conflicting testimonies and the RTC erred in giving more weight to the unsubstantiated testimony of AAA. Petitioners assignment of errors hinges on AAAs credibility and the sufficiency of the prosecution evidence to convict him of the crimes charged. In People v. Espino, Jr.,
[11]

we said:

Time and again, we have held that when the decision hinges on the credibility of witnesses and their respective testimonies, the trial court's observations and conclusions deserve great respect and are often accorded finality, unless there appears in the record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower court may have overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated and which, if properly considered, would alter the result of the case. The trial judge enjoys the advantage of observing the witness' deportment and manner of testifying, her "furtive glance, blush of conscious shame, hesitation, flippant or sneering tone, calmness, sigh, or the scant or full realization of an oath" - all of which are useful aids for an accurate determination of a witness' honesty and sincerity. The trial judge, therefore, can better determine if such witnesses were telling the truth, being in the ideal position to weigh conflicting testimonies. Unless certain facts of substance and value were overlooked which, if considered, might affect the result of the case, its assessment must be respected for it had the opportunity to observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses while testifying and detect if they were lying. The rule finds an even more stringent application where said findings are sustained [12] by the Court of Appeals. We find no reason to disregard the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA, that AAA was raped by petitioner on April 16, 2003, since their findings were supported by the evidence on record. AAA testified in a straightforward manner, declaring that petitioner, with the use of a gun poked at her chest, drove her to a motel and brought her to the motel parking garage, dragged her to the second floor, then pushed her to the room and then to the bed. She tried to run and reach for the door, but petitioner grabbed her and pushed her back to the bed. She was stripped of her pants and panty and, thereafter, petitioner took off his shorts and underwear and despite her plea, forced himself to her and had sex with her. Afterwards, [13] with the gun in his hand, petitioner threatened to kill her if she would report the matter to the police. In rape cases, the essential element that the prosecution must prove is the absence of the victims consent to the sex ual [14] congress. The gravamen of the crime of rape is sexual congress with a woman by force or intimidation and without [15] consent. Force in rape is relative, depending on the age, size and strength of the parties. In the same manner, intimidation must be viewed in the light of the victims perception and judgment at the time of the commission of the crime [16] and not by any hard and fast rule. Petitioners act of holding a gun and threatening AAA with the same showed force or at least intimidation wh ich was sufficient for her to submit to petitioners bestial desire for fear of her life. Petitioner denies having raped AAA and claims that what transpired between him and AAA was a consensual sex. In his desire to be acquitted of the crime of rape, petitioner insists that AAAs testimony was replete with incredibilities and inconsistencies, thus not worthy of credence. First, petitioner claims that while AAA testified during her direct examination that his right arm was on her shoulder with a gun pointed at her chest, she also testified during her cross-examination that she was texting her officemates, thus under such a circumstance, it would be insane for him to allow her to text her officemates if he has plans of raping her. We do not agree. A reading of AAAs testimony during her cross-examination shows that she never said that she was texting her officemates at the time that a gun was already pointed at her. She testified that she was the last passenger in the vehicle driven by [17] petitioner and the latter told her that he had no change for the 100-peso bill fare she paid him; that petitioner continued driving, but when he did not stop in a store they passed by to have the 100-peso bill changed, it was then that she texted [18] [19] her officemates. She decided to go down the vehicle, but it was moving fast and, thereafter, petitioner pulled her [20] nearer to him by putting his right hand on her shoulder and pointed a gun at her chest. Hence, the texting of officemates happened before the gun was poked at her.

The fact that not one of AAA's textmates was presented as witness would not detract from her credibility. Jurisprudence has steadfastly been already repetitious that the accused may be convicted on the sole testimony of the victim in a rape case, provided that such testimony is credible, natural, convincing, and consistent with human nature and the normal [21] course of things. AAA repeatedly stated that petitioner sexually abused her against her will. The straightforward narration by AAA of what transpired, accompanied by her categorical identification of petitioner as the malefactor, sealed [22] the case for the prosecution. Second, petitioner assails AAA's vivid remembrance of the places they passed by, which shows her relaxed condition in petitioners company. Such contention is devoid of merit. AAA was a 21-year-old working woman and was not blindfolded when they were traversing the roads on the way to the motel. Thus, she was able to read the landmarks and logos in the places that they passed by which included the name of the motel. Third, petitioner contends that AAA had several opportunities to ask for help or escape while they were in the motel, i.e., when petitioner was negotiating with the motel roomboy for a room with a parking garage, and after the roomboy had left the garage and petitioner pushed her outside of the vehicle. We are not persuaded. AAA testified that when petitioner slightly opened the window of the driver's side to talk to the roomboy, only a part of [23] petitioner's head could be seen and since the vehicle was heavily tinted, the roomboy could not see her. Also, she could [24] not also say a thing because the gun was poked at her. And after she was pushed out of the vehicle, she tried to escape [25] but petitioner who was still holding the gun went out of the vehicle and got hold of her. These circumstances present no [26] opportunity for her to escape. Moreover, people react differently under emotional stress. There is no standard form of behavior when one is confronted by a shocking incident, especially if the assailant is physically near. The workings of the [27] human mind when placed under emotional stress are unpredictable. In a given situation, some may shout, others may faint, and still others may be frozen into silence. Consequently, the failure of complainant to run away or shout for help at [28] the very first opportunity cannot be construed consent to the sexual intercourse. Fourth, petitioner avers that to strip an unwilling person of her clothes will result in a serious struggle. However, the medical report did not show any indication of contusion or hematoma on AAA's legs or abdomen. Even assuming that AAA failed to put up a strong resistance to repel petitioner's physical aggression, such failure does not mean that she was not raped. Petitioner had a gun which was sufficient to intimidate her and to submit to his lustful desire. It is well settled that physical resistance need not be established in rape when intimidation is exercised upon a victim and the latter submits herself, against her will, to the rapists advances because of fear for her life and personal [29] safety. Fifth, petitioner points out the impossibility of AAA's account that his right arm was around her right shoulder poking a gun at her chest while his left hand was at the wheels, because such position would not allow him to change gear while making turns. Such contention remained unsubstantiated and, therefore, self-serving. As the Solicitor General correctly argued, petitioner neglected to prove such impossibility by actual demonstration which is fatal to his cause. Sixth, petitioner insists that he and AAA had a getting-to-know conversation during the trip, which explained why AAA even testified that he uttered her name during the sexual act; that she even got his cell phone number and it was through her text message that she arranged a tip for his arrest. Such contention fails to persuade. Granting that they had a conversation during the trip since AAA was seated in the front seat, such circumstance did not establish that she agreed to the sexual act. In fact, there is no evidence to prove petitioners claim that after the incident, AAA texted him and arranged for them to meet and was then apprehended by the police. The prosecution established that it was through the efforts of the police that petitioner was apprehended. Police Officer Mario Palic testified that based on

the complaint for rape lodged by AAA in their station, he and the other police officers made a follow-up. After which, they received an information that the vehicle used in the rape incident was parked along Edsa, New York, Quezon [31] City, in front of the Baliwag Terminal. Together with AAA, they proceeded to the place where the vehicle was parked and [32] when AAA saw petitioner standing near the parked vehicle, she identified him as her rapist. Seventh, petitioner claims that his failure to give AAA the amount of P4,000.00 and the things he had promised to buy for her was the reason why AAA charged him with the crime of rape. Such argument deserves scant consideration. We find apropos what the RTC said in the issue, thus: x x x Even in these very hard times, the court could not believe that AAA, a college graduate of x x x Computer College and working as a Product Support Representative with x x x would stoop so low to subject herself to the shame and scandal of [33] having undergone such a debasing defilement of her chastity if the charge filed were not true. In fact, while petitioner, in his direct testimony, was portraying AAA as a prostitute, the latter cried. AAA's crying shows how she might have felt after being raped by the petitioner and yet be accused of a woman of loose morals. The victim's moral character in rape is immaterial where it is shown that intimidation was used for the victim to have sex with the [35] accused. The truthfulness of AAAs charge for rape was further bolstered by her conduct immediately after the rape incident. After petitioner dropped her off in Cubao, AAA immediately went to her office and narrated her ordeal to her officemates. Accompanied by them, she went to the police station to report the incident and submitted herself to medical examination. However, as to petitioner's conviction for illegal possession of firearms, such judgment must be set aside. We find that he can no longer be held liable for such offense since another crime was committed, i.e., rape. P.D. 1866, as amended by RA 8294, the law governing Illegal Possession of Firearms provides: SECTION 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition Instruments Used or intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. - The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000) shall be imposed upon any person who shall unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any low powered firearm, such as rimfire handgun, .380 or .32 and other firearm of similar firepower, part of firearm, ammunition, or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition: Provided, That no other crime was committed. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period and a fine of Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000) shall be imposed if the firearm is classified as high-powered firearm which includes those with bores bigger in diameter than .38 caliber and 9 millimeter, such as caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser-calibered firearms but considered powerful, such as caliber .357 and caliber .22 center-fire magnum and other firearms with firing capability of full automatic and by burst of two or three: Provided, however, That no other crime was committed by the person arrested. If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed firearm, such use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance. If the violation of this Section is in furtherance of or incident to, or in connection with the crime of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup detat, such violation shall be absorbed as an element of the crime of rebellion or insurrection, sedition, or attempted coup detat. The same penalty shall be imposed upon the owner, president, manager, director or other responsible officer of any public or private firm, company, corporation or entity, who shall willfully or knowingly allow any of the firearms owned by such firm, company, corporation or entity to be used by any person or persons found guilty of violating the provisions of the preceding paragraphs or willfully or knowingly allow any of them to use, unlicensed firearms or firearms without any legal authority to be carried outside of their residence in the course of their employment. The penalty of arresto mayor shall be imposed upon any person who shall carry any licensed firearm outside his residence without legal authority therefor.
[34]

[30]

In People v. Ladjaalam,

[36]

we laid down the correct interpretation of the law and ruled:

x x x A simple reading thereof shows that if an unlicensed firearm is used in the commission of any crime, there can be no separate offense of simple illegal possession of firearms. Hence, if the other crime is murder or homicide, illegal possession of firearms becomes merely an aggravating circumstance, not a separate offense. Since direct assault with multiple attempted homicide was committed in this case, appellant can no longer be held liable for illegal possession of firearms. Moreover, penal laws are construed liberally in favor of the accused. In this case, the plain meaning of RA 8294s simple language is most favorable to herein appellant. Verily, no other interpretation is justified, for the language of the new law demonstrates the legislative intent to favor the accused. Accordingly, appellant cannot be convicted of two separate offenses of illegal possession of firearms and direct assault with attempted homicide. Moreover, since the crime committed was direct assault and not homicide or murder, illegal possession of firearms cannot be deemed an aggravating circumstance. xxxx x x x The law is clear: the accused can be convicted of simple illegal possession of firearms, provided that no other crime was committed by the person arrested. If the intention of the law in the second paragraph were to refer only to homicide and murder, it should have expressly said so, as it did in the third paragraph. Verily, where the law does not distinguish, [37] neither should we. All told, we affirm petitioner's conviction for the crime of rape. However, petitioner's conviction of illegal possession of firearms is set aside. Under Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. The prosecution was able to sufficiently allege in the Information, and establish during trial, that a gun was used in the commission of rape. Since no aggravating or [38] mitigating circumstance was established in the commission of the crime, the lesser penalty shall be imposed. Thus, we affirm the penalty of reclusion perpetua meted by the courts below. As to the damages awarded for the crime of qualified rape, however, modifications are in order. Considering that the [39] penalty imposable is reclusion perpetua, the award of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity must be reduced to P50,000.00. Also the award of P100,000.00 as moral damages should be reduced to P50,000.00 based on prevailing [40] jurisprudence. Exemplary damages in the amount of P30,000.00 should be awarded by reason of the established [41] presence of the qualifying circumstance of use of a deadly weapon. In addition, interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum shall be imposed on all damages awarded from the date of [42] finality of this judgment until fully paid, likewise pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence. WHEREFORE, the Decision dated March 17, 2009 of the Court of Appeals, sentencing petitioner Arnel Sison y Escuadro to reclusion perpetua for the crime of qualified rape, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that he is ORDERED to pay AAA the reduced amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages. Petitioner is also ORDERED to pay P30,000.00 as exemplary damages and interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per annum is imposed on all the damages awarded from the date of finality of this judgment until fully paid. Petitioner's conviction of Illegal Possession of Firearms is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. SO ORDERED. Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Abad, Mendoza, and Perlas-Bernabe, JJ., concur.

http://elibrary.judiciary.gov.ph/decisions.php?doctype=Decisions%20/%20Signed%20Resolutions&docid=13324719041872 732932#sam

___________________________________________________

SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 186226, February 01, 2012] PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, APPELLEE, VS. YUSOP TADAH, APPELLANT. RESOLUTION BRION, J.: We resolve the appeal, filed by accused Yusop Tadah (appellant), from the August 22, 2008 decision of the Court of Appeals [1] (CA) in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00150. The RTC Ruling
[2]

In its April 18, 2005 decision, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Zamboanga, Branches 15 and 16, convicted the [3] [4] appellant of five counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention committed against Gina Yang y Bersaez, 3-year old Princess Jane "Cha-Cha" Yang, Joy Sagubay, Yang Wang Tao Chiu, and Nicomedes Santa Ana. It gave credence to the straightforward testimonies of the kidnap victims, Nicomedes and Cha-Cha, then 8 years old, pointing to the appellant as one of their kidnappers. Considering the appellant's positive identification, the RTC rejected the former's defenses of denial and alibi. It noted that conspiracy attended the crime due to the concerted acts of the accused in the kidnapping. It sentenced the appellant to the death penalty for each count of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, appreciating that the accused committed the kidnapping to extort ransom, and that the accused used a motorized vehicle and motorized watercrafts to facilitate the commission of the crimes. It also ordered him to pay Bien Yang the amount of P2,000,000.00 for the ransom paid. The CA Ruling

On intermediate appellate review, the CA affirmed the RTC's decision, giving full respect to the RTC's assessment of [5] Nicomedes and Cha-Cha's testimony and credibility. However, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 9346, the CA reduced the [6] appellant's sentence to reclusion perpetua in all five cases. We now rule on the final review of the case. Our Ruling

We deny the appeal, but modify the penalty and awarded indemnity. We find no reason to reverse the findings of the RTC, as affirmed by the CA. We are convinced that Nicomedes' and ChaCha's testimonies have amply established the case for the prosecution. No motive affecting their credibility was ever imputed against them. The appellant's positive identification as the one of the perpetrators of the crime renders his defense of alibi unworthy of credit. Since the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused conspired to kidnap the victims for ransom, and kidnapped and illegally detained them until they were released by the accused after the latter received the [7] P2,000,000.00 ransom, the imposable penalty is death as provided for in the second paragraph of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code. The aggravating circumstance of using a motorized vehicle and motorized watercrafts, while alleged and proven, cannot affect the imposable penalty because Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code states that in all cases in which the law prescribes a single indivisible penalty (like reclusion perpetuaand death), it shall be applied regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have attended the commission of the deed.

The CA correctly reduced the appellant's sentence from death penalty to reclusion perpetua considering the passage of RA No. 9346, prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty. To this, we add that the appellant shall not be eligible for parole. Under Section 3 of RA No. 9346, "[p]ersons convicted of offenses punished with reclusion perpetua, or whose sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua, by reason of this Act, shall not be eligible for parole under Act No. 4180, otherwise known as the Indeterminate Sentence Law, as amended." We find it necessary to modify the appellant's civil liability. In line with prevailing jurisprudence, the appellant is also liable for P75,000.00 as civil indemnity which is awarded if the crime warrants the imposition of the death penalty; P75,000.00 as moral damages because the victim is assumed to have suffered moral injuries, without need of proof; and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages to set an example for the public good, for each count of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. WHEREFORE, the August 22, 2008 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC No. 00150 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellant Yusop Tadah is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of 5 counts of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, without eligibility for parole, for each count. In addition to the restitution of P2,000,000.00 for the ransom paid, the appellant is ordered to pay each of the victims the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages. SO ORDERED. Carpio, (Chairperson), Perez, Sereno, and Reyes, JJ., concur.
[8]

http://elibrary.judiciary.gov.ph/decisions.php?doctype=Decisions%20/%20Signed%20Resolutions&docid=13317744372022 430983#sam __________________________________________________

EN BANC

[G.R. Nos. 131926 & 138991. June 18, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. MICHAEL U. PAGALASAN alias Mike, RONNIE CABALO alias Romy, ALADIN CABALO, FERDINAND CORTEZ, a JOHN DOE identified only as FERNANDO, and a PETER DOE identified only as Bong, accused. MICHAEL U. PAGALASAN alias Mike, appellant. DECISION CALLEJO, SR., J.: This is an automatic review of the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of General Santos City, Branch 35, convicting appellant Michael U. Pagalasan of two counts of kidnapping for ransom of George Lim and his 10-year-old son Christopher Neal Lim and sentencing him to double death.
[1]

The Antecedents The Spouses George and Desiree Lim and their three young children, one of whom was 10-year-old Christopher Neal Lim, resided at Villa Consuelo Subdivision, General Santos City. The spouses hired a security guard, Ferdinand Cortez, from the Valiant Security Agency to provide security services to the family. On September 4, 1994, at 11:00 p.m., the spouses and their children were in the masters bedroom watching television. The couples housemaid, Julita Sarno, was in the kitchen. She heard knocks on the kitchen door. Thinking that it was Ferdinand, she opened the door. Four men, about 55 to 56 tall, each armed with handguns, two of whom were holding hand grenades, barged i nto the kitchen. The four intruders wore bonnets over their faces. With them was Ferdinand, whose hands were tied behind his back. When asked by the masked men where her employers were, Julita responded that they were in their bedroom. On orders of the intruders, she knocked on the bedroom door. When Georges daughter opened the door, three of the masked men barged [2] into the room, while the fourth masked man remained in the sala of the house. The three masked men shouted to George and Desiree: Walang mangyayari sa inyo basta ibigay ninyo ang kailangan namin. (Nothing will happen to you provided [3] you give us what we want.) They ransacked the house, getting cash and valuables. The masked men gave Desiree a [4] handwritten note, and dragged George and Christopher Neal Lim out of the bedroom through the sala to the garage, where Georges Nissan car was parked for the night. George saw Ferdinand in the sala with his hands tied behind his back. One of the masked men ordered George to hand over the key to his vehicle, to board the car and occupy the back seat along with Christopher. Father and son did as they were told. Two of the masked men positioned themselves on either side of George and Christopher. The third man drove the car, while the fourth sat on the passengers seat beside the driver. The car cruised along the national highway. When the car was nearing the Gambalan Kitchenette, George and Christopher were blindfolded. The masked men told them that they would be brought to Polomolok. After about fifteen minutes, the car stopped at Sitio Tupi. The two men who were seated at the back and the masked man seated beside the driver alighted from the car, bringing Christopher with them. George was transferred to the front seat beside the driver. George was told that he would be transported to Maasim. In the meantime, SPO2 Federico Pao, the duty officer of Police Precinct No. 2, received a radio report that George Lim and his son Christopher had been kidnapped. Police investigators were dispatched to the Lim residence to conduct an on-the-spot investigation. They brought Ferdinand and Julita to the police station for investigation. SPO2 Renato Daga-as, SPO2 Datur Villanueva and SPO1 Alimuddin Timbao were directed to establish a mobile checkpoint at the intersection of the national highway and a dirt road (Espina Road). The three policemen boarded a Tamaraw mobile car and parked it at the said intersection. At about thirty meters from the checkpoint, the masked driver of the Nissan vehicle saw the police car. Instead of running the car through the checkpoint, the driver stopped and switched off its headlights. He removed his bonnet and Georges blindfold, warning the latter not to make any false move. George looked at the driver, who turned out to be the appellant Michael Pagalasan. The three police officers approached the car. Daga-as went to the right side of the car beside the passenger seat, while Villanueva went to the left side, near the drivers seat. For his part, Timbao proceeded to the cars rear end. Daga-as and Villanueva identified themselves to George and Michael as police officers on the lookout for a certain George Lim and his son who had been kidnapped in General Santos City. Daga-as inquired from George what his name was, and George replied that he was Albert Lim. The driver identified himself as Michael Pagalasan. George gave a false first name because he was afraid Michael might shoot him. Daga-as noticed that Georges fingers were trembling. Villanueva knocked at the door on the drivers side, and tried to open the same, but it was locked. When Michael himself opened the door, Villanueva pulled him out of the vehicle and brought him to the mobile car. Michael was suddenly in the custody of the policemen. George then identified himself as one of the kidnapped victims. He also told the policemen that his son was

still with the other kidnappers. The policemen thereafter searched the Nissan car and found a .38 caliber handgun with [6] [7] six live bullets in its chamber and a grenade under the drivers seat. The policemen brought Michael and George to the police station where Ferdinand was being interrogated by police investigators. Ferdinand told George that he had nothing to do with the kidnapping, but before he could explain further, he was whisked into the investigation room. After giving a sworn statement to the police investigator, George was allowed to go home. Desiree gave George the handwritten letter earlier given to her by the kidnappers before they left the house that evening. In the letter, the spouses were warned not to coordinate with the military, nor to take any action in connection with the kidnapping without their knowledge or consent. They were also informed that the malefactors would communicate with the couple, whether by letter or through [8] [9] the telephone only through MUBARAK II or 2. Julita executed an affidavit in connection with the kidnapping. Police Inspector Antonio Evangelista ordered SPO4 Recio Aniversario to conduct a custodial investigation on Michael. Recio asked Michael if he wanted to execute an affidavit, and Michael replied that he was going to execute one. The police investigator inquired if he knew of any lawyer, to which Michael replied in the negative. The police investigator then suggested Atty. Tomas C. Falgui, a private practitioner, as his counsel. When Michael agreed, the police investigator phoned the lawyer, requesting the latter to assist Michael while undergoing custodial investigation. The lawyer agreed and forthwith proceeded to the police station. Michael gave his confession under custodial investigation with the [10] assistance of Atty. Falgui. In his confession, Michael admitted that upon orders of Ronnie Cabalo, he and three other men, Aladin (Ronnies brother), a Muslim known as Ferdinand, and Bong (a resident of Purok Islam), had kidnapped George and his son Christopher. Ronnie Cabalo instructed Michael to use Georges vehicle to transport father and son to the banana plantation where Aladin, Ferdinand and Boy would alight with Christopher, and to thereafter return George to his house. Aladin had given him a handgun for his use. Ferdinand Cortez was in cahoots with them. He was at first reluctant to obey Ronnie, but relented when he was told not to be afraid and to use the grenade in case of trouble. George told him that he had already given money to Aladin, and that Michaels companions had taken some pieces of jewelry from him and his wife before they left the Lim residence. In the light of Michaels confession, farmer Hadji Aladin Malang Cabalo, Ronie Puntuan and Fernando Quizon were arrested and detained at Camp Fermin Lira Barracks, General Santos City. In the meantime, on September 6, 1994, George received another handwritten letter, ordering the release of Michael and Ronie Puntuan because they were innocent, and [11] demanding P3,000,000 for Christophers release. On September 9, 1994, George received another handwritten letter dated September 9, 1994, this time from MUBARAK II or 2 informing him and his wife that the kidnappers did not want the military to be involved nor innocent people to be prejudiced. The spouses were also warned that their son would not be released alive unless Ronie Puntuan [12] was freed in three days. On the same day at 3:25 p.m., Ronie Puntuan, through counsel, filed a motion with the MTC [13] praying that he be transferred from the Camp Fermin Lira Barracks to the General Santos City Jail. In the morning of the following day, September 10, 1994, Christopher was rescued by policemen without any ransom being paid. On September 13, 1994, George executed a sworn statement relating to the incidents that happened from [14] September 4, 1994 to September 10, 1994. Michael was charged with kidnapping for ransom and violation of PD 1866 before the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of [15] General Santos City. During the initial stage of the preliminary investigation by the MTC on September 6, 1994, Atty. Falgui appeared as Michaels counsel and testified on what transpired immediately before, during and after the custodial investigation, [16] including Michaels execution of his extrajudicial confession. Michael was also placed on the witness stand and, with the assistance of counsel, testified on his extrajudicial confession. He affirmed the veracity of the contents of the said [17] confession. Subsequently, Michael, through his mother, secured the services of Atty. Emmanuel V. Fontanilla. On September 12, 1994, Michael executed an affidavit withdrawing his September 5, 1994 extrajudicial confession, in which he stated that: (a) he was not assisted by counsel of his own choice when he executed the extrajudicial confession; and (b) [18] Ronie Puntuan, who was arrested and detained, was not Ronnie Cabalo. Michael also executed a counter-affidavit where he denied the accusations against him, and clarified that he was forced and intimidated into making his September 5, 1994 confession, and he was not provided with counsel of his own choice during custodial investigation. His constitutional rights [19] under custodial investigation were allegedly not sufficiently explained to him. He filed the said affidavits with the MTC during the preliminary investigation. On September 23, 1994, the MTC issued a resolution finding probable cause for charging the accused with kidnapping for ransom. The Office of the City Prosecutor conducted a reinvestigation of the case. On October 4, 1994, the Office of the City Prosecutor issued a resolution ordering the release of Hadji Aladin Malang Cabalo on the ground that he was not [20] the Aladin Cabalo referred to by Michael in his confession.

[5]

An Information for violation of PD 1866 was filed against Michael on October 17, 1994 with the Regional Trial Court of General Santos City, Branch 22, docketed as Criminal Case No. 11062. On November 3, 1994, Michael, Ronnie Cabalo, Aladin Cabalo, Ferdinand Cortez, a certain John Doe identified as Fernando, and Peter Doe were charged with kidnapping for ransom in an Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 11098, which reads: That on or about September 4, 1994, in General Santos City, Philippines, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, conspiring, and confederating together and mutually helping each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap George Lim, and his ten-year-old son, Christopher Neal Lim, for the purpose of extorting [21] ransom from the said victims. The cases were raffled to Branch 22 of the Regional Trial Court. When arraigned in Criminal Case No. 11062 for Violation of PD 1866, Michael pleaded not guilty. On February 6, 1995, Michael, Ferdinand and Fernando Quizon were [22] arraigned in Criminal Case No. 11098 and pleaded not guilty. Ronnie Cabalo and Aladin Cabalo remained at-large. On August 24, 1995, the judge hearing the cases inhibited himself. Both cases were re-raffled, assigned to, and were tried jointly by Branch 35 of the Regional Trial Court. During the trial, Michael, through counsel, admitted the truth of the contents of the affidavit executed by Julita [23] Sarno. Michael also executed an affidavit on December 5, 1995 alleging inter alia that he was forced at gunpoint by Boy [24] and Aladin to barge into the Lim residence and drive the latters car, and that he did not know Fernando Quizon. After the prosecution had presented all its witnesses, it filed a formal offer of its documentary evidence including Michaels [25] December 15, 1995 Sworn Statement and his confession. Michael did not file any comment or opposition to the said offer. On May 3, 1996, the trial court issued an order admitting the prosecutions documentary evidence, including [26] Michaels confession. After the prosecution had rested its case, Fernando Quizon filed a demurrer to evidence in Criminal Case No. 11098. On July 2, 1996, the court issued an order granting the demurrer to evidence of the said accused and [27] acquitted him of the charge.

The Defense and Evidence of the Accused Ferdinand Cortez denied kidnapping George and Christopher. He testified that he had been employed as a security guard by the Valiant Security Agency. He was assigned by the agency to protect George Lim and his family. On the evening of September 4, 1994, Ferdinand was washing Georges car in the garage. The house was surrounded by a 10-foot wall, and the gate was locked. Ferdinand was shocked when masked men, armed with handguns, suddenly arrived. They poked their guns at him, maltreated him, and tied his hands behind his back. The masked men knocked at the door of the house and when the housemaid Julita Sarno opened it, the men dragged Ferdinand towards the entrance, to make it appear that he was the one knocking. The masked men then barged into the sala and tied Julitas hands. Ferdinand claimed he never met any of the kidnappers before September 4, 1994. He was puzzled why he was being implicated in the case. For his part, Michael testified that he was a Muslim, 19 years of age, and an elementary school graduate. He made a living as a conductor of his uncles jeepney. At night, the jeepney was parked in Tambler, and it was where he usually slept. On the evening of September 4, 1994, at about 9:00 p.m., he was in their house at Purok Islam public market, General Santos City. His friend Bong arrived, and invited him for a stroll and to accompany the latter to get a motorcycle. Michael agreed. They took a tricycle and arrived at the Villa Consuelo Subdivision. Michael was surprised when the tricycle stopped near the gate of the Lim residence and masked men suddenly appeared, poking their guns at him. Bong fled, leaving Michael alone to fend for himself. The masked men ordered Michael to drive a car, and warned him that if he refused, he would be killed. Momentarily, one of the men emerged from the house, with George Lim in tow. George gave the key to his Nissan car to one of the kidnappers, who in turn handed it over to Michael. The men forced George and his son Christopher to board the car. Father and son were seated between two masked men. Afraid for his life, Michael was forced to drive the car with one of the kidnappers pointing a gun at him, seated to his right at the passengers side. The kidnappers ordered Michael to drive the car towards the direction of Barangay Ligaya. When the car reached a dark portion of the road in Barangay Ligaya, three of the men alighted, bringing Christopher with them. Michael then pleaded to George to bring him first to Tambler, where the jeepney of his uncle was parked. Michael wanted to sleep there instead of going home. George agreed, and drove the car himself through Barangay Makar. George told Michael that they had to travel along Espina road, a dirt road, instead of the regular road because they might encounter policemen, and Christopher might be killed by his kidnappers. However, the car had to stop at the intersection of the national highway and Espina Road when George saw policemen and the mobile police car parked at the intersection.

Michael was arrested by the police, blindfolded, and brought to the mobile car where he was also mauled. His head was banged against the sides of the mobile car. At the precinct, Michael was mauled anew by the policemen. It was only after he had given his statement to a police investigator that Atty. Falgui arrived and told Michael, I am your [28] [29] lawyer. Atty. Falgui instructed Michael to tell the whole truth. When his mother Camaria Opong visited him, he told her that he had been blindfolded and mauled at the station, and that because of this, his body ached. She saw a big hump in his head. On September 8, 1994, she secured the services of Atty. Fontanilla as counsel of her son. The lawyer went to the City Jail and talked to Michael. Michael showed the lawyer the contusions and bruises on his body, and the scratches on his neck. Michael told the lawyer that he had been maltreated by an inmate at the detention cell. He also narrated that he knew nothing about the kidnapping and that he was only hired by somebody to drive a car. Michael assured the lawyer that he was not aware of the purpose of the culprits in kidnapping George and Christopher. On September 9, 1994, Atty. [30] Fontanilla executed an affidavit reiterating the information Michael conveyed to him. On September 16, 1994, Michael [31] filed an urgent motion for medical check-up, which the court granted. Dra. Virginia Ramirez, Officer-In-Charge of the City Integrated Health Services, examined Michael on September 22, 1994 and found him suffering from myalgia residual or muscle pains due to mauling, which she surmised took place about [32] one week to ten days before the examination. She issued a medical certificate of the said examination. On September 24, 1997, the trial court rendered judgment acquitting Ferdinand Cortez and convicting Michael of kidnapping for ransom, the decretal portion of which reads: JUDGMENT WHEREFORE, premises considered, the accused is hereby sentenced as follows: In Criminal Case No. 11062 for failure of the prosecution to prove the accusation against the accused Michael Pagalasan beyond reasonable doubt, he is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged. In Criminal Case No. 11098, the accused Michael Pagalasan is hereby found guilty of the crime of kidnapping for ransom as defined and penalized under Article 267 as amended by Section 8 of Republic Act 7659, and there being no modifying circumstance to consider, he is sentenced to suffer the EXTREME PENALTY OF DEATH insofar as the case of George Lim is concerned. The same penalty of death shall also be imposed against Michael Pagalasan in the case of Christopher Neal Lim who was kidnapped on the same occasion and was released only on the sixth day after his captivity. The case of Ferdinand Cortez, for lack of sufficient evidence to convict him, he is hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged. SO ORDERED.
[33]

The trial court ruled in Criminal Case No. 11098 that with or without the confession of Michael, the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that he, in conspiracy with three others, kidnapped George and Christopher. It found the testimony of George straightforward and positive, credible and entitled to full probative weight. The trial court sentenced Michael to double death on its finding that he and his cohorts kidnapped George and Christopher for the purpose of extorting ransom. It disbelieved Michaels confession implicating Ferdinand Cortez, and acquitted the latter for failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The trial court likewise acquitted Michael in Criminal Case No. 11062. Michael, now the appellant, asserts that: I THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM OF CHRISTOPHER NEAL LIM DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. II THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME OF KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM OF ONE GEORGE LIM WITHOUT ANY BASIS IN FACT AND IN LAW.

III THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THE DEFENSE INTERPOSED BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT AND IN GIVING [34] CREDENCE TO THE INCONSISTENT TESTIMONY OF GEORGE LIM. The appellant is guilty of kidnapping Christopher under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code. On the first assignment of error, the appellant avers that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond cavil of [35] doubt for the crime of kidnapping Christopher. Georges testimony that the gun and hand grenade were found in the car, under the seat beside the driver is inconsistent with his own statement before the police investigator that the said gun and grenade were found in the appellants possession; hence, the testimony of George is incredible and barren of probative weight. The case for the prosecution was enfeebled by its failure to present Christopher to testify on his kidnapping and to corroborate the testimony of his father. The failure of the prosecution to present Christopher as a witness raised the presumption that if he had been so presented, he would have testified on matters adverse to the prosecution. For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General contends that the testimony of George, its principal witness, as well as those of its other witnesses, is sufficient to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that the appellant conspired with three others in kidnapping Christopher for ransom. There was no need for the prosecution to present Christopher to testify on his kidnapping, as his testimony would be merely corroborative of his fathers account of events. The contention of the appellant is barren of merit. Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act No. 7659 reads: ART. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any other manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death: 1. 2. If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than three days. 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, 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 above-mentioned 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. (As amended by RA No. 7659). For the accused to be convicted of kidnapping, the prosecution is burdened to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime, namely: (a) the offender is a private individual; (b) he kidnaps or detains another, or in any manner deprives the latter of his liberty; (c) the act of detention or kidnapping must be illegal; and (d) in the commission of the offense any of the following circumstances is present: (1) the kidnapping or detention lasts for more than three days; (2) it is committed by simulating public authority; (3) any serious physical injuries are inflicted upon the person kidnapped or [36] detained or threats to kill him are made; or (4) the person kidnapped or detained is a minor, female, or a public officer. If the victim of kidnapping and serious illegal detention is a minor, the duration of his detention is immaterial. Likewise, if the victim is kidnapped and illegally detained for the purpose of extorting ransom, the duration of his detention is immaterial. The essential elements for this crime is the deprivation of liberty of the victim under any of the above-mentioned [37] circumstances coupled with indubitable proof of intent of the accused to effect the same. There must be a purposeful or [38] knowing action by the accused to forcibly restrain the victim coupled with intent.

Judge Learned Hand once called conspiracy the darling of the modern prosecutors nursery. There is conspiracy [40] when two or more persons agree to commit a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy as a mode of incurring criminal liability must be proven separately from and with the same quantum of proof as the crime itself. Conspiracy need not be proven by direct evidence. After all, secrecy and concealment are essential features of a successful conspiracy. Conspiracies are clandestine in nature. It may be inferred from the conduct of the accused before, during and [41] after the commission of the crime, showing that they had acted with a common purpose and design. Paraphrasing the [42] decision of the English Court in Regina v. Murphy, conspiracy may be implied if it is proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their combined acts, though apparently independent of each other, were, in fact, connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of [43] personal association and a concurrence of sentiment. To hold an accused guilty as a co-principal by reason of conspiracy, [44] he must be shown to have performed an overt act in pursuance or furtherance of the complicity. There must be [45] intentional participation in the transaction with a view to the furtherance of the common design and purpose. The United States Supreme Court in Braverman v. United States, held that the precise nature and extent of the conspiracy must be determined by reference to the agreement which embraces and defines its objects. For one thing, the temporal dimension of the conspiracy is of particular importance. Settled as a rule of law is that the conspiracy continues until the object is attained, unless in the meantime the conspirator abandons the conspiracy or is arrested. There is authority to the effect that the conspiracy ends at the moment of any conspirators arrest, on the presumption, albeit rebuttable, that at the moment the conspiracy has been thwarted, no other overt act contributing to the conspiracy can [47] possibly take place, at least as far as the arrested conspirator is concerned. The longer a conspiracy is deemed to continue, the greater the chances that additional persons will be found to have joined it. There is also the possibility that as the conspiracy continues, there may occur new overt acts. If the conspiracy has not yet ended, then the hearsay acts and declarations of one conspirator will be admissible against the other conspirators and one conspirator may be held liable for [48] substantive crimes committed by the others. Each conspirator is responsible for everything done by his confederates which follows incidentally in the execution of a common design as one of its probable and natural consequences even though it was not intended as part of the original [49] design. Responsibility of a conspirator is not confined to the accomplishment of a particular purpose of conspiracy but [50] extends to collateral acts and offenses incident to and growing out of the purpose intended. Conspirators are held to have intended the consequences of their acts and by purposely engaging in conspiracy which necessarily and directly [51] produces a prohibited result that they are in contemplation of law, charged with intending the result. Conspirators are necessarily liable for the acts of another conspirator even though such act differs radically and substantively from that [52] which they intended to commit. The Court agrees with the ruling of the Circuit Court of Appeals (Second District) per [53] Judge Learned Hand in United States v. Peoni that nobody is liable in conspiracy except for the fair import of the concerted purpose or agreement as he understood it; if later comers change that, he is not liable for the change; his liability is limited to the common purpose while he remains in it. Earlier, the Appellate Court of Kentucky in Gabbard v. [54] Commonwealth held that: The act must be the ordinary and probable effect of the wrongful acts specifically agreed on, so that the connection between them may be reasonably apparent, and not a fresh and independent project of the mind of one of the confederates, outside of or foreign to the common design, and growing out of the individual malice of the perpetrator. Equally persuasive is the pronouncement of the Circuit Court of Appeals (Second District) in United States v. [55] Crimms, that it is never permissible to enlarge the scope of the conspiracy itself by proving that some of the conspirators, unknown to the rest, have done what was beyond the reasonable intendment of the common understanding. This is equally true when the crime which the conspirators agreed upon is one of which they severally might be guilty though they were ignorant of the existence of some of its constitutive facts. Also, while conspirators are responsible for consequent acts growing out of the common design they are not for independent acts growing out of the particular acts of [56] individuals. In this case, the evidence on record inscrutably shows that the appellant and his three cohorts were armed with handguns; two of them had hand grenades, and all of them had masks over their faces. They gained entry into the Lim residence after overpowering the security guard Ferdinand and the housemaid Julita, and tying their hands behind their backs. One of the masked men remained in the sala, while the three others barged into the bedroom of George and Desiree, and kidnapped George and his ten-year-old son Christopher. The appellant and his cohorts forced father and son to board Georges car. The appellant drove the car, dropped off Christopher and his cohorts at Sitio Tupi, and drove on with George in the car towards the direction of Maasim. The collective, concerted and synchronized acts of the appellant and his cohorts before, during and after the kidnapping constitute indubitable proof that the appellant and his three companions conspired with each other to attain a
[46]

[39]

common objective: to kidnap George and Christopher and detain them illegally. The appellant was a principal by direct participation in the kidnapping of the two victims. The trial court found the testimony of George straightforward and positive, and entitled to credit and full probative [57] weight. The legal aphorism is that the findings of facts of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies of witnesses and of their probative weight, its conclusions anchored on its findings are accorded high respect by the appellate court, if not conclusive effect, because of the unique advantage of the trial court of observing at close range the demeanor, conduct [58] and deportment of witnesses as they regale the trial court with their testimonies. It is true that the appellate court is not bound by the findings and conclusions of the trial court if the latter ignored, misunderstood, misapplied or misinterpreted [59] cogent facts and circumstances, which, if considered, would change the outcome of the case. This ruling, however, is inapplicable in the case at bar, since the appellant failed to establish that the trial court erred in this wise. George testified that when the policemen found the gun and grenade inside his car, the appellant was already at [61] [62] the police station. However, in his September 13, 1994 Affidavit, George stated that the policemen found the gun when the appellant was frisked, while the grenade was spotted under the passengers seat, beside the driver. This seeming inconsistency between the two statements does not discredit his testimony nor his credibility for the following reasons: (a) it is of judicial knowledge that affidavits being taken ex parte are almost always incomplete and often inaccurate and are [63] generally inferior to the testimony of a witness in open court; (b) the credibility of Georges testimony cannot be impeached by the inconsistent statements contained in his sworn statement because the said statement was not admitted in evidence; and Section 34, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Evidence provides that the Court shall not consider evidence which has not been formally offered; besides, George was not confronted with his sworn statement and accorded an [64] opportunity to explain the inconsistency; (c) the inconsistency refers to trivial, minor and collateral matters and not to the substance of his testimony. Such minor inconsistency even enhances its veracity as the variances erase any suspicion of [65] a rehearsed testimony. A truth-telling witness is not always expected to give an error-free testimony, considering the [66] lapse of time and the treachery of human memory. Neither is the case for the prosecution impaired by the failure of the prosecution to present Christopher as its witness. It bears stressing that Georges testimony is corroborated by Julita and the three arresting officers. Besides, case law has it that the testimony of a single witness, if positive and credible, is sufficient to sustain a judgment of [67] conviction. The law does not require the testimonies of at least two witnesses for the conviction of an accused for kidnapping and serious illegal detention. The prosecution has the discretion to decide on who to call as witness during the trial, and its failure to present a particular witness does not give rise to the presumption that evidence willfully suppressed would be adverse if withheld, where the evidence is at the disposal of the appellant and is merely cumulative or [68] corroborative. In this case, the testimony of George is, by itself, independently of Christophers testimony, sufficient proof of the guilt of the appellant. George had personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances of the kidnapping, as he himself had been kidnapped along with his young son. His failure to testify on where Christopher was detained after the three cohorts of the appellant had alighted from the car with Christopher, and the circumstances surrounding the rescue do not weaken the case of the prosecution, as the said facts and circumstances had occurred after the crime of kidnapping had already been a fait accompli. The prosecution failed to prove that in kidnapping George and Christopher, the appellant and his cohorts intended to extort ransom. The trial court convicted the appellant of kidnapping George and Christopher for ransom and sentenced him to double death on its finding that the appellant and his co-accused conspired to extort ransom for the release of the victims. For his part, the appellant contends that the prosecution failed to prove the element of extorting ransom. The appellant argues that he cannot be held liable for kidnapping for ransom, even if after his arrest on September 4, 1994 his co-conspirators actually demanded ransom for Christophers release. The prosecution failed to prove that he had knowledge of and concurred with the said demand. The Court agrees with the appellant. The second paragraph of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code reads: 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 above-mentioned were present in the commission of the offense. The provision is pursuant to Rep. Act No. 1084 approved on June 15, 1984 derived from the so-called Lindbergh Law in the United States, approved on June 22, 1932, as amended on May 13, 1934.
[60]

To warrant the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for ransom, the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt the following: (a) intent on the part of the accused to deprive the victim of his liberty; (b) actual deprivation of the victim of his liberty; (c) motive of the accused, which is extortion of ransom from the victim or any other person. In kidnapping or serious illegal detention for ransom, the purpose of extorting ransom is a qualifying circumstance which must be alleged in the Information and proved by the prosecution as the crime itself by words and overt acts of the accused before, during and after the kidnapping and detention of the victim. Neither actual [69] demand for nor actual payment of ransom is necessary for the crime to be committed. Although kidnapping for a certain [70] purpose is a qualifying circumstance, the law does not require that the purpose be accomplished. Ransom employed in the law is so used in its common or ordinary sense: a sum of money or other thing of value, price, or consideration paid or [71] demanded for redemption of a kidnapped or detained person, a payment that releases from captivity. It may include benefits not necessarily pecuniary which may accrue to the kidnapper or a third person as a condition for the release of the [72] victim. In this case, the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant conspired with three others to kidnap the victims. However, it failed to prove that they intended to extort ransom from the victims themselves or from some other person, with a view to obtaining the latters release. The kidnapping by itself does not give rise to the presumption that the appellant and his co-conspirators purpose is to extort ransom from the victims or any other person. The only evidence adduced by the prosecution to prove the element of extorting ransom are the three handwritten letters: the first was received by Desiree on September 4, 1994, while the second and third letters were received by George on September 6 and 9, 1994, respectively. The handwritten letter received by Desiree on September 4, 1994, first letter for brevity, reads: Para Sa Inyo Mr. & Mrs. Lim, Una wag na wag kayong gumawa ng hakbang na hindi namin alam o gusto, lalong-lalo na sa pakikipag-usap sa militar o magkoordinate sa militar ay hindi namin gustong mangyari ang ganon mga sistem. Ang pangalawa, wag na wag kayong tumanggap ng negotiator na walang palatandaan na galing sa amin, pakiusap lang yon na dapat ninyong sundin, madidisgrasya ang aming dala kung kayoy magkakamali ng hakbang. Maliwanag sana sa inyo ang aming mga salaysay. Note Palatandaan na galing sa aming hakbang ay ito MR. MUBARAK II or 2 Sulat man o telephone
[73]

The letter received by George on September 6, 1994, second letter for brevity, reads: Ronie Puntuan Michael Pagalasan Mr. G. Lim palayain ninyo ang suspek ninyo. Wala silang kasalanan bago natin tapusin ang usapan tatlong milyong piso (3,000,000) katumbas ng kalayaan ng mahal ninyong anak. Paalisin ang mga sundalo. Kailangan ang Black Out News. Huwag kang magkakamali Mr. Lim. Kunting sipyot mo patay ang anak mo. Isang araw lamang ang tagal namin sa inyo. (Sgd.)
[74]

The handwritten letter received by George on September 9, 1994, third letter for brevity, reads: Para sayo Mr. & Mrs. Lim,

Mr. Lim, gusto ko lang ipaabot sayo ang maikli kong kataga. Unang-una, ayaw namin na mga asong militar na makialam. Pangalawa, ayaw namin sa grupo na idamay ang tao na walang-alam. Alalahanin mo mabuti lahat ng mga kataga na iniwan ko sayo, Mr. Lim. Ang taong dinampot ng militar sa purok islam na si Ronie, ang taong yan walang conection (sic) sa grupo, sa madaling usapan, Mr. Lim, alalahanin mo ang anak mo sa oras na tatlong araw na taong yan hindi makalabas. Ang isipin mo ang anak mo hindi rin makalabas hanggat sa mabulok sa lupa (maliwanag). (Sign) Palatandaan MUBARAK II - 2
[75]

As gleaned from the three letters, there was no demand for ransom in exchange for George and Christophers liberty. While there is a demand for ransom of P3,000,000 in the second letter, and a demand for the release of Ronie Puntuan within three days in the third letter, the said demands are in consideration of Christophers release from custody, and not that of George. Even then, the prosecution failed to adduce evidence that the second letter demanding ransom in the amount of P3,000,000 for the release of Christopher actually came from the appellant and his co-conspirators. It bears stressing that in the first letter, the kidnappers made it clear to the couple that only those communications, whether by letter or by telephone, bearing the name MR. MUBARAK II or 2 came from them: Note Palatandaan na galing sa aming hakbang ay ito MR. MUBARAK II or 2 Sulat man o telephone
[76]

The second letter received by George was signed by an unidentified person. It was not stated that the letter came from MUBARAK II-2. That the second letter could not have come from the appellant and his cohorts is buttressed by the fact that the third letter, which came from MUBARAK II-2, does not even mention any demand for ransom in the amount of P3,000,000 for Christophers release. The Court can only surmise, but it is possible that the signatory and sender of the second letter could have been acting independently of the appellant and his co-conspirators in order to profit from the kidnapping. It bears stressing that the kidnapping of Christopher and George was already known when the appellant was arrested on September 4, 1994, and the crime had already been reported to the police authorities. Persons other than the co-conspirators of the appellant could have written the letter. Since there is no evidence that the signatory and sender of the second letter is a co-conspirator of the appellant, the latter is not bound by the said letter, conformably to Section 28, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Evidence which reads: Sec. 28. Admission by third party. The rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another, except as hereinafter provided. Even if it is assumed for the nonce that the second letter came from a co-conspirator, the same is not binding on the appellant, absent evidence aliunde that he knew of and concurred with the said ransom demand. It bears stressing that when George received the second letter on September 6, 1994, the appellant had already been arrested and detained. The conspiracy forged by the appellant and his cohorts on or before September 4, 1994 had already ceased, when on the said [77] date, the appellant was arrested by the policemen and detained. Neither is the third letter admissible in evidence against the appellant to prove that he conspired with others to demand the release of Ronie Puntuan in consideration for Christophers freedom. The appellant and his cohorts could not have planned to demand ransom for the release of Ronie Puntuan as early as September 4, 1994, the date of the kidnapping: Ronie had not yet been arrested on this date. The appellant was arrested first, and Ronies detention was only to follow. Furthermore, the third letter was sent to George on September 9, 1994. At that point, the appellant had already been arrested by the policemen, and was already in jail. There is no evidence that while in jail, the appellant had

knowledge of and concurred with the said ransom demand. It may be reasonably inferred that the appellants co conspirators could have decided to demand Ronie Puntuans release as a consideration for Christophers liberty, while the appellant was already languishing in jail. The said demand for ransom was a new and independent project of the appellants co-conspirators, growing out of their own malice, without any a priori knowledge on the part of the appellant or his post facto concurrence therewith. Indeed, the records show that on September 9, 1994, the very day the coconspirators sent the third letter to George, Ronie Puntuan through counsel Atty. Jose Jerry L. Fulgar, also the counsel for the appellant, filed a motion with the MTC, praying that he be detained at the General Santos City Jail: WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed that an order be please issued directing that accused Ronie Puntuan be please detained at General Santos City Jail with the instruction that the said accused be separated from [78] his co-accused as desired by the Police Officers. That the appellant plotted with his co-conspirators to demand the release of Ronie Puntuan as a condition for Christophers liberty is too far-fetched, considering that Ronie and the appellant had the same lawyer. Ronie Puntuan himself, through his and the appellants counsel, prayed to the court that he be transferred from Camp Fermin Lira Barracks to the General Santos City Jail. The appellant is also guilty of slight illegal detention of George under Article 268 of the Revised Penal Code. Aside from convicting the appellant of kidnapping Christopher, the trial court also convicted him of kidnapping George under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code. But the Office of the Solicitor General contends that the appellant is guilty of another felony: slight illegal detention under Article 268 of the Revised Penal Code, because none of the circumstances enumerated in Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code is present in the kidnapping and detention of George. The prosecution may have failed to prove that the appellant and his co-conspirators intended to extort ransom for Georges release; however, as a matter of substantive law, the appellant may be held guilty of two separate crimes, although he and his co-conspirators kidnapped George and Christopher on the same occasion and from the same situs. As a matter of procedural law, the appellant may be convicted of slight illegal detention under the Information for kidnapping for ransom as the former is necessarily included in the latter crime. The Court agrees with the Office of the Solicitor General. The appellant is guilty of slight illegal detention under Article 268 of the Revised Penal Code which reads: Art. 268. Slight illegal detention. The penalty of reclusion temporal shall be imposed upon any private individual who shall commit the crimes described in the next preceding article without the attendance of any of the circumstances enumerated therein. The same penalty shall be incurred by anyone who shall furnish the place for the perpetration of the crime. If the offender shall voluntarily release the person so kidnapped or detained within three days from the commencement of the detention, without having attained the purpose intended, and before the institution of criminal proceedings against him, the penalty shall be prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding seven hundred pesos. (As amended by Republic Act No. 18). While the epigraph or title of the article mentions only slight illegal detention, kidnapping committed in connection [79] with the lower offense of slight illegal detention is also covered by the article. The felony has the following essential elements: 1. That the offender is a private individual. 2. That he kidnaps or detains another, or in any other manner deprives him of his liberty. 3. That the act of kidnapping or detention is illegal. 4. That the crime is committed without the attendance of any of the circumstances enumerated in Art. 267.
[80]

The crime of slight illegal detention is consummated upon the occurrence of all the elements thereof. A day, in the last paragraph of Article 268 of the Revised Penal Code, should be understood as twenty-four hours, to be counted from

the deprivation of the liberty of the victim until the cessation thereof. As Cuello Calon put it: El plazo de los tres dias de [81] veinte cuatro horas y desde el momento de la privacion de libertad si en que esta cesare. The rescue or escape of the victim within three days from his kidnapping and detention is not an exempting circumstance. The voluntary release by the offender of the victim within three days from his detention, without the offender having attained his purpose and before the institution of criminal proceedings against him for slight illegal detention, is not an exempting circumstance; it merely serves to reduce the penalty to prision mayor in its maximum and medium periods and a fine not exceeding P700. In this case, the appellant is a private individual. George had been kidnapped and detained illegally by the appellant and his cohorts, but only for less than a day. George regained his freedom after the appellant had been arrested at the intersection of the national highway and Espina Road. There is no evidence that the appellant and his cohorts kidnapped George for the purpose of extorting ransom for his release. There is likewise no evidence that they inflicted any serious physical injuries on George, or simulated public authority, or threatened to kill him. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the appellant and his cohorts intended to detain the victim for more than three days. Although the appellant and his co-conspirators kidnapped George and Christopher on the same occasion and from the same situs, the appellant is guilty of two separate crimes: kidnapping under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, and slight illegal detention under Article 268 of the Revised Penal Code. The appellant and his co-conspirators were animated by two sets of separate criminal intents and criminal resolutions in kidnapping and illegally detaining the two victims. The criminal intent in kidnapping Christopher was separate from and independent of the criminal intent and resolution in kidnapping and detaining George for less than three days. In the mind and conscience of the appellant, he had committed two separate felonies; hence, should be meted two separate penalties for the said crimes: one for kidnapping under Article [82] 267 of the Revised Penal Code and another for slight illegal detention under Article 268 of the same code. The felony of slight illegal detention is necessarily included in the crime of kidnapping for ransom; thus, the appellant may be convicted of [83] the former crime under an Information for kidnapping for ransom.

PENALTIES FOR THE CRIMES COMMITTED BY THE APPELLANT The crimes committed by the appellant were aggravated by dwelling, the victims having been kidnapped in their [85] house; by the use of motor vehicle, the victims having been transported by the appellant from their house with the use [86] of Georges car; and by a band, the crime having been committed by the appellant and three co -conspirators. However, the Court cannot consider these aggravating circumstances in determining the proper penalties for the said crimes, because the same were not alleged in the Information as mandated by Sections 8 and 9, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal [87] Procedure. Although the said rules took effect after the commission of the crimes by the appellant, the same is favorable [88] to the appellant; hence, should be applied retroactively. The appellant is not entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance under the second paragraph of Article 268 of [89] the Revised Penal Code because he did not voluntarily release George within three days from the kidnapping. George was recovered by the policemen at the intersection of the national highway and Espina Road. The prescribed penalty for kidnapping under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 is reclusion perpetua to death. There being no aggravating circumstance or modifying circumstance in the commission of the crime, the proper penalty for the said crime is reclusion perpetua, conformably to Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code. The prescribed penalty for slight illegal detention isreclusion temporal in its full period, with a range of twelve years and one day to twenty years. To determine the minimum of the indeterminate penalty, the penalty shall be reduced by one degree, prision mayor, which has a range of six years and one day to twelve years. The minimum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the full range of the penalty at the discretion of the Court. The maximum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the medium period of reclusion temporal, conformably to Article 64, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code. Hence, the appellant shall suffer an indeterminate penalty of nine years and four months of prision mayor in its medium period as minimum, to sixteen years and five months of reclusion temporal in its medium period as maximum.
[84]

CIVIL LIABILITIES OF THE APPELLANT Although the prosecution adduced testimonial evidence that the appellant and his co-conspirators ransacked the bedroom of the victims and took cash and valuables, the prosecution nevertheless failed to adduce any documentary

evidence to prove the amount of the said cash and the value of the jewelry. Hence, Spouses George and Desiree Lim are not entitled to actual damages. Under Article 2219, paragraph 5 of the New Civil Code, moral damages may be recovered. In this case, the prosecution adduced testimonial evidence that for the crimes committed by the appellant and his co-conspirators, Spouses George and Desiree suffered mental anguish, fright and serious anxiety caused by the kidnapping of George and their son Christopher. Considering the factual milieu in this case, the Court believes that the said spouses are entitled to moral damages in the amount of P100,000 for the kidnapping of Christopher, and the amount of P50,000 for the illegal detention of George. The appellant is also liable to the spouses for exemplary damages in the total amount ofP50,000 for the two [90] crimes conformably with current jurisprudence. IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision dated September 27, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court of General Santos City, Branch 35, is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONS. Appellant Michael Pagalasan alias Mike is found guilty of kidnapping under Article 267, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code and there being no modifying circumstances in the commission of the crime is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. Appellant Michael Pagalasan alias Mike is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of slight illegal detention under Article 268 of the Revised Penal Code and there being no modifying circumstances in the commission of the crime is hereby sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from nine years and four months of prision mayor in its medium period as minimum to sixteen years and five months of reclusion temporal in its medium period as maximum. The said appellant is ordered to pay to Spouses George and Desiree Lim the total amount of P150,000 as moral damages; and P50,000 as exemplary damages in the two cases. Costs de oficio. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, AustriaMartinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, and Azcuna, JJ., concur. ___________________________________________________

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. No. L-1536 July 31, 1947

RICARDO PARULAN, petitioner, vs. SOTERO RODAS, Judge of First Instance of Manila, and LUIS B. REYES, Assistant City Fiscal of Manila,respondents. Reyes and Cruz for petitioner. RESOLUTION FERIA, J.: This is a motion for reconsideration of our resolution dated July 11, 1947, which reads as follows: Passing upon the petition for certiorari in G.R. No. L-1536, Ricardo Parulan vs. Sotero Rodas, etc. et al.,praying for relief from the order of the respondent Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, dated July 8, 1947, denying petitioner's motion to quash the information filed in criminal case No. 3649 of said respondent Court as well as petitioner's motion for reconsideration and praying, further, for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the respondent Judge from arraigning the petitioner of July 12, 1947: the Court resolved to dismiss said petition on the ground that the Court of First Instance of Manila has jurisdiction over the complex offense of kidnapping with murder, the one charged in the information. . . . Section 48 of the Penal Code, providing for penalties for complex crime, says that "when an offense is a necessary means to commit the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period." Therefore, the question for determination in the present case is whether the offense charged in the information is a complex crime of kidnapping and murder, the former as a necessary means for committing the latter. In order to determine whether two offenses constitute a complex crime, we should not find out whether, in accordance with their definition by law, one of them is an essential element of the other, such as physical injuries which cause the death of the victim, or stealing of personal property without the consent of the owner through force or violence, for in such cases there would be only one single offense of homicide in the first and robbery in the second case. But we should take into consideration the facts alleged in a complaint or information and determine whether one of the two separate and different offenses charged therein was committed as a necessary means to commit the other offense; if it were the two offenses constitute one complex crime; otherwise the complaint or information charges two crimes or offenses independent from one another. For example, the crime of falsification of a private document is not in general, an essential element of the crime of estafa, because this offense may be committed through many and varied means; but if a defendant is charged in a complaint or information with having committed falsification of a private document as a means for committing estafa, the offense charged would be a complex offense of estafa through falsification. Also, abduction is, in general, not an essential element of rape because rape may be committed anywhere without necessity of forcibly abducting or taking the victim to another place for that purpose; but if the offense charged is that the defendant abducted or carried by force the victim from one place to another wherein the latter was raped by the former, the crime charged would be a complex crime of rape through abduction, the abduction being in such a case a necessary means to commit the rape. And although homicide or murder may be committed wherever the victim may be found, yet if the charge in a complaint or information is that the victim was kidnapped and taken to another distant place in order to demand ransom for his release and kill him if ransom is not paid, the offense charged would evidently be a complex crime of murder through kidnapping, the latter being a necessary means to commit the former. The pertinent part of the information reads as follows: That on or about the 10th day of June, 1947, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, being then private individuals, conspiring and confederating together and all helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously, and for purpose of extorting ransom from one Arthur Lee or of killing him if the desired amount of money could not be given, kidnap, carry away in an automobile, detain, and later, after having taken him to an uninhabited place by means of a motor boat, with treachery, to wit: while the said Arthur Lee was deprived of his liberty and was very weak as a result of the physical injuries which had been previously inflicted upon him by the said accused, fire upon him with a .45 caliber pistol several shots thru the chest and head,

fracturing the right 5th and 6th ribs and the skull and lacerating the brain, thereby inflicting upon him physical injuries which directly caused the death of the said Arthur Lee almost instantaneously. From a cursory examination of the foregoing it clearly appears that the crime charged is kidnapping and murder and the former was committed by the defendants as a necessary means "for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or killing him if the desired amount of money could not be given," that is, that the defendants had to kidnap or carry the victim to a faraway and secluded place in order to better secure the consent of the victim through fear to pay the ransom, and kill him with certain sense of impunity and certainty that no other person may witness the commission of the offense by the defendants if the victim refused to accede to their demand, and that in fact he was killed by the defendants because of his refusal to pay the ransom. The crime charged being a complex crime of kidnapping and murder, the court of first instance of any province in which any one of the essential elements of said complex offense has been committed, has jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offense; and, therefore, the Court of First Instance of Manila from where the victim was kidnapped has jurisdiction over the offense committed in Manila and continued all the way to the place where the victim was taken and murdered. The motion for reconsideration is therefore denied. Moran, C.J., Paras, Pablo, Hilado, Bengzon, Hontiveros, and Padilla, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions PERFECTO, J., dissenting: We vote to grant the motion for reconsideration and to give due course to the petition. Upon further analysis of the allegations of the information, Annex A of the petition, we arrived at the conclusion that, as a matter of fact, two independents crimes are imputed to the accused, i.e.: kidnapping for the purpose of extorting ransom, which is the fifth case of article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 18, and murder as punished by article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. There is no such a complex crime as kidnapping with murder, if the allegations of the information is to be considered. There are two classes of complex crimes, those which are specifically described and punished as such, and those committed as is provided in the following provision of the Revised Penal Code: Penalty for complex crimes. When a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period. . . . There is no specific provision of law describing the alleged complex crime of kidnapping with murder, so we have to analyze the facts alleged in the information in the light of the provision of article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, which specify two cases: First, when a single acts constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, and second, when an offense "is a necessary means for committing the other." The facts alleged in the information do not belong to neither of the two cases. The information alleges several acts, so the first case does not exist. There is nothing in the information to show that kidnapping was "a necessary means for committing" murder, or vice versa. In the first place, it is absurd to suppose that murder was committed as a necessary means to commit kidnapping, as a dead body cannot be the victim of kidnapping. And kidnapping was not "a necessary means for committing" murder, because, as alleged in the information, it was committed "for the purpose of extorting ransom." That purpose is incompatible with murder.

Kidnapping for extorting ransom is in itself already a complex crime, where the kidnapping is the necessary means for extorting ransom. It cannot be, as the information stands, the necessary means for committing murder, just to create a super-complex crime. Failure to get ransom might be a motive for committing murder, but no one in his right senses will identify motive with means. Each one belongs to a different category of ideas than to what the other pertains. In all other respects, we are in agreement with the reasonings in the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Tuason.

TUASON, J., dissenting: We are for denying the petition on the ground that appeal or certiorari does not lie against an interlocutory order such as one disallowing a motion to dismiss or to quash; there is no appeal before final judgment is rendered. We beg to differ with the majority of the court on the merits of the petition. In our humble opinion distinct offenses are charged in the information with the aggravating circumstance that one of the crimes was committed entirely outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Manila courts. The right to join offenses in the same information is determined by law. Under our criminal law and practice, two or more allied offenses for which a single penalty as provided may be joined. Such allied offenses are called complex crimes. Complex crime is a denomination peculiar to the Spanish Penal Code. The complex crimes are thus described in article 48 of the Revised Penal Code: When a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period (as amended by Act No. 4000). Besides this general description there are specific combinations of offenses which are specifically punished as one. Robbery with homicide is an example. But there is no such creature in Philippine penal legislations as kidnapping with murder, unless one is necessary to commit the other. Kidnapping and murder are separate and distinct crimes, different from each other in their nature and in the elements that make up the crimes. If kidnapping is a continuing offense, as the prosecution rightly contends, murder does not acquire this characteristic by the mere fact of its association with the killing. As we have said, kidnapping is not a part of murder material and essential to the latter or requisite to its consummation. Physical injuries inflicted in connection with or on the occasion of kidnapping are an integral part of the latter offense, yes, and, for this reason, may be alleged with it. This is so because the definition of kidnapping in one of its forms makes physical injuries inflicted under such circumstances a material ingredient of it for the purpose of punishment. But it does not follow that murder even if committed on the occasion of kidnapping becomes identified, for purposes of prosecution, with the last-named offense. The fact that physical injuries form part of kidnapping does not by extension make murder also a part of kidnapping. True, some, not all, decisions refuse to make any distinction between homicide and murder in cases of robbery but there is cogent reason for it; the reason is that homicide and murder are in a generic sense the same differing only in the circumstances in which the slaying is committed. Murder and homicide are grouped in the same Chapter of the Revised Penal Code, Chapter I, Title Eight. Physical injuries belong to another genus or species of crimes and are dealt with under Chapter II. On the plain of legislative intent we find further and stronger support for the observation that murder may not be confused with physical injuries when committed in association with kidnapping. Bent on curving rampant lawlessness and especially kidnapping which was prevalent, the Legislature purposely, not through inadvertence, omitted mention of destruction of human life as a factor in the imposition of punishment for kidnapping. May we not logically draw from this omission the inference that the law-makers intended to let murder, when murder results from kidnapping, remain as a separate crime to be prosecuted where the killing took place? There is reason behind this theory; it is that murder was already punishable with death. Quite apart from all this, the well-known rule that penal laws should receive strict construction should not be lost sight of. At this juncture I quote Justice Albert's comment in his book on another and analogous topic which we think is in point:

And as homicide is a crime different from murder and no mention is made of the latter in the Chapter devoted to the former and since, furthermore, the penal laws do not admit of a liberal construction and what is said of one crime cannot be applied by inference to another, and the more so if from a liberal construction a greater evil would fall upon the convict, they logically deduce that it would be an error to apply to murder the provision of subsection 1 of article 294 which refers only to homicide. (Revised Penal Code, New Edition, p. 647.) Let it be not said that we are indulging in technicalities. Our objection goes to the jurisdiction of the court, to its very authority to try an accused for a capital offense which was begun and completed in another province. It is the express mandate of section 14, Rule 106, that In all criminal prosecutions the actions shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or province wherein the offense was committed or any one of the essential ingredients thereof took place. The laying of venue in the municipality and province where the crime was committed has not been conceived as a fanciful decoration in the penal system. It is grounded on the necessity and justice of placing the accused on trial in the municipality or province where witnesses and other facilities for his defense are more readily available. The fact that the jury system does not exist here affects the degree but does not do away with the rationale of having criminal cases prosecuted at their situs. We now come to this court's resolution. The majority pin their opinion on the assumption that kidnapping of the murdered man in this case was a necessary means to kill him. And, they say, in the determination of the relation between the two offenses, we have to look to the allegations in the information for our guidance. The information does not say that kidnapping was used as a means to kill Lee. Even if it did, the allegations would not bear it out; and it is the facts stated in the information and not the prosecutor's conclusion by which we have judge the correctness or defects of a pleading. Now then, what is stated in the information is that Lee was killed for ransom or to be killed. Under this allegation, and in the very nature of things, kidnapping was necessary to extort money. No one denies that. But we can not agree that kidnapping was necessary to kill the victim, which is a different thing. There was no need of carrying him to Bocaue, several dozen kilometers away from where he had been seized, in order to slay him. The defendants could have taken his life without resorting to kidnapping. This we know from common experience which no studied wording of the information can efface or inutilize. But, even as the information is framed, the allegations enable us to visualize clearly that Lee could have been slain in Manila before the start of the drive to Bulacan. We cannot overemphasize the fact that the law uses the word "necessary" to describe "means." It is not enough that a crime was used as a means; it must have been essential to perpetrate another crime. The following case reported in I Codigo, Penal, Viada, 482, may be of interest: Cuestion X. El que ALLANA la morada ajena, haciendo ceder a fuerza de golpes la puerta y cerradura de la misma, y en ella, MATA a la mujer que alli reside, y con la que habia tenido antesrelaciones ilicitas, debera ser castigado por cada uno de estos DOS delitos de ALLANAMIENTO DE MORADA Y HOMICIDIO a las penas correspondiantes a los mismos, con arreglo al articulo 88 del Codigo, o debera serlo tan solo por el DELLITO MAS GRAVE en el grado maximo, con sujecion al 90? Esto ultimo entendido la Audiencia de Granada, la que condeno al procesado a la pena de veinte aos de reclusion, como grado maximo del delito mas grave de homicidio. Mas interpuesto recurso de casacion por la defensa del reo contra dicha sentencia por infracion, entre otros, del articulo 88 del Codigo penal, que debio aplicarse, y del 90 por no ser de applicacion al caso, declaro el Tribunal Supremo haber lugar a el: Considerando que tambien es procedente el segundo motivo alegado, porque los delitos de allanamiento y homicidio no fueron el resultado de un solo hecho ni medio necesario el uno para cometer el otro, y por consecuencia, no ha debido aplicarseel articulo 90 del Codigo penal y si el 88, imponiendo por cada uno de los delitos la pena correspondiente, en cuyo concepto ha incurrido en error dicha Sala aplicando el primero y dejando de hacerlo del segundo, etc. (Sentencia de 24 enero de 1881, publicada en la Graceta de 22 de marzo.) The only ground we can think of for this ruling of the Spanish Supreme court was that allanamiento was not a necessary means to commit the homicide.

It seems clear from a consideration of the facts alleged that the kidnapping was resorted to as a means to conceal the killing or for other reasons best known to the accused but not as a means of killing the kidnapped man. Unwittingly, perhaps, the city fiscal confirms us in this statement. In his "opposition to motion to quash," by the language of which the fiscal is bound, he says: In the case at bar we respectfully submit that the taking and carrying away of the victim from Manila at the point of a gun and for the purpose of killing him at Bocaue, Bulacan, is an essential ingredient of the offense charged in the information and as the same took place within the territorial jurisdiction of this Court, The crime becomes a continuing or transitory offense. We submit that the kidnapping as alleged in the information is a necessary means for the commission of the crime of murder as described in the same information. The accused conceived and contrived to commit the crime of murder at the time they began to take and carry away the victim from Calle Antipolo of this City. When the accused kidnapped the victim from Manila and killed him in Bocaue, Bulacan, all their acts were the result of a single criminal impulse to kill the victim. In this connection we respectfully inform this Court that on page 6 of the transcript of the stenographic notes of the statement of Mr. Ricardo Parulan, one of the accused in this case, made before this representation on June 28, 1947 at about 9 o'clock in the morning, the following question and answer appear: "Q. When did it come to your mind to kill Lee? A. At the time that I saw Lee and Gloria arrived with a car at Antipolo." It is clear then that from the admission of one of the accused himself the intention to kill was already in his mind when they began to kidnap the victim in this case. No statement can bring home more clearly the fact that the purpose of the kidnapping was murder. Not even ransom had anything to do with it. Without this admission by the prosecution we should reach the conclusion that ransom did not enter into the heinous crime from the fact, revealed by the complaint, that the killing was perpetrated on the same date, indeed on the same night, the victim was whisked away, and also from the manner in which he was slain. This dissent does not conflict with the illustrations given in the resolution of the court, except in some respects regarding which, in all modesty, we do not think the illustrations can pass unchallenged. On the whole, the illustrations are correct instances of complex crimes contemplated in article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. Estafa may be and frequently is committed through falsification of a public document. When this happens, (when the falsification is a necessary means, as in often in the case, to commit estafa and not to concealthe latter crime), then both offenses may and should be embodied in one complaint or information. But our contention is that kidnapping in the instant case was not a material ingredient nor a necessary means to carry out the killing but was used as a vehicle to hide the murder. The example of abduction with rape is far from clinching the argument for the prosecution. Abduction with rape is a complex crime, not because one is a necessary means to commit the other but because, in our opinion, rape is a part of abduction. One of the essential elements of abduction is lewd designs, and rape is nothing but lewd designs in its extreme manifestation. Rape is lewd designs successfully consummated. Rape is embraced in lewd designs. There is no juristic relation between kidnapping and murder such as exists between abduction and rape. Physical injuries and murder are not synonymous. When the resolution compares abduction with kidnapping as a means to commit rape and murder respectively, it goes further off the mark. There are few points of similarity between them. Rape cannot be successfully accomplished in the presence of other people or with people nearby unless they are accomplices to the crime. To take the woman to a secluded place is in many cases imperative to effect the criminal's objective. We do not have to elucidate on this truth. But as to murder, some of the most celebrated assassinations have been committed in a crowd, yes, in the mid of body guards and police cordons. There might be cases (we can not think of any at this moment) where it might be necessary to kidnap a victim before taking his life in order the better to attain the murderer's purpose. In that event, we don't deny the two crimes might be combined in one complaint. But we are not speaking of abstract propositions; we are dealing not with hypothetical cases but with a concrete case governed by its own particular, concrete facts. In conclusion, and at the risk of repetition, we maintain that murder as distinguished from physical injuries is not an essential part of any of the various forms of kidnapping or illegal detention. If no more than physical injuries were alleged,

there would be only one crime, kidnapping. In that case, the deed would be a continuous offense triable either in Manila or Bulacan. We doubt if physical injuries, in that case would, constitute a separate crime. Physical injuries are absorbed in kidnapping and are alleged merely by way of describing the principal offense. However that may be, when murder is charged a new independent crime is brought in, and only the court of the province where the killing was committed has jurisdiction. The distinction we make is not an academic one. It has important implications and lead to serious consequences unauthorized by law. A prosecution for a single offense of kidnapping, even if accompanied with physical injuries, leaves the gate open to the imposition of a penalty less than death, depending upon the presence or absence of modifying circumstances. The joining of kidnapping and murder as a complex crime would, in case of conviction, allow the court no choice in the meeting out of punishment. Death would have to be imposed necessarily. For another thing, we want to point up a matter which though not appearing in the information will inevitably come out. It is the fact that three or four of the defendants participated only in the killing of Lee in Bocaue. They were not with their codefendants in the alleged kidnapping in Manila. We confess to a sense of guilt for touching on a question that is off the record. Our excuse is that it is a truth which if now hidden is bound to face the court when the evidence shall have been introduced .When that time comes, the rule will be reversed; the proofs and not the allegations will shape the decision. This is a situation which all concerned, defense and prosecution, cannot afford to cover up for the sake of temporary triumph. In the not improbable event that the thin thread of conspiracy with which some of the accused are connected with the others in the kidnapping should snap off, it might result in dismissals for lack of jurisdiction and other complications, entailing delays and other inconveniences which could be avoided by confronting the realities from the inception of the prosecution. _______________________________________________

G.R. No. 193833

November 16, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. * PO1 FROILAN L. TRESTIZA, P/S INSP. LORIEMAN L. MANRIQUE, and RODIE J. PINEDA @ "Buboy,"Accused. PO1 FROILAN L. TRESTIZA, Accused-Appellant. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case G.R. No. 193833 is an appeal from the Decision promulgated on 30 June 2009 as well as the Resolution promulgated on 11 June 2010 by the Court of Appeals (appellate court) in CA-G.R. CR.-HC. No. 03119. The appellate court affirmed the 24 4 July 2007 Joint Decision of Branch 143 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City (trial court) in Criminal Case Nos. 02-3393 for Kidnapping (for Ransom), 03-766 for Robbery, and 04-1311 also for Robbery. The trial court found appellant PO1 Froilan L. Trestiza (Trestiza) guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal by direct participation of the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 8 of Republic Act No. 7659 (RA 7659), and sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay damages to Irma Navarro (Navarro) and Lawrence Yu (Yu). P/Insp. Lorieman L. Manrique (Manrique) and Rodie Pineda y Jimenez (Pineda) were likewise found guilty of the same crime by the trial court, and adjudged the same sentence as Trestiza. The trial court acquitted Trestiza, Manrique and Pineda in Criminal Case Nos. 03-766 and 04-1311. The Facts The following charges were brought against Trestiza, Manrique and Pineda on 20 November 2002: Criminal Case No. 02-3393 for Kidnapping
1 2 3

That on or about the 7th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, PO1 Froilan Trestiza y Lacson and P/S Insp. Loriemar L. Manrique, both active members of the Philippine National Police, and Rodie Pineda y Jimenez, a private individual[,] all of them armed with firearms, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another with one PO2 [Reynel] Jose, a member of the Philippine National Police, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap Lawrence Yu y Lim and Maria Irma Navarro, or otherwise deprive them of their liberty by then and there kidnap without legal grounds for the purpose of extorting money for their safety and immediate release as in fact said accused demanded the amount of P1,000,000.00 as ransom money from them. CONTRARY TO LAW.
5

Criminal Case No. 02-3394 for Illegal Possession of Firearm and Ammunitions That on or about the 16th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control one (1) Pistol Glock 21 bearing SN 035481 with thirteen (13) rounds of live ammunitions and without the corresponding license or permit thereof, which he carried outside of his residence. CONTRARY TO LAW.
6

On 15 April 2004, Trestiza was acquitted of the crime charged in Criminal Case No. 02-3394. The Affidavit of Arrest stated that the serial number of the firearm seized was 035481, while the firearm itself had a serial number of BRG-768. The trial court rejected the explanation that the difference between the serial numbers was a mere typographical error. An order of the trial court dated 16 April 2004 in Criminal Case Nos. 02-3393, 02-3394, 03-766 and 04-1311 recounted the circumstances involved in the filing of the charges against Trestiza, Manrique and Pineda. Criminal Case No. 02-3393 for Kidnapping against accused PO1 Froilan Trestiza y Lacson (PO1 Trestiza), PS/Insp. Loriemar L. Manrique (PS/Insp. Manrique) and Rodie Pineda y Jimenez (Pineda) and Criminal Case No. 02-3394 for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions against accused PO1 Trestiza alone were filed before this Court on 20 November 2002. Surprisingly, however, SPO2 [Reynel] Jose was not included as an accused in the Kidnapping case although in the original Information, Prosecutor Andres N. Marcos mentions him as someone who mutually helped all the other accused in the willful, unlawful, felonious kidnapping of private complainants Lawrence Yu y Lim (Yu) and Ma. Irma Navarro (Navarro). A Motion for Reinvestigation dated 21 November 2002 was then filed by "all" three accused while a separate Motion for Reinvestigation and/or Preliminary Investigation dated 22 November was filed by accused PS/Insp. Manrique. Then Acting Presiding Judge Salvador S. Abad Santos issued the Order dated 26 November 2002 granting the Motions filed by all accused. In the said Order, he directed the Public Prosecutor to conduct a Preliminary Investigation of the cases filed and to furnish the Court with his Report within sixty (60) days from said date. On 21 February 2003, Public Prosecutor Andres N. Marcos filed a Motion to Withdraw Information of Kidnapping with Ransom and to Admit Information for Robbery with attached Resolution dated 03 January 2008. He pointed out therein that after he conducted a preliminary investigation, he found no probable cause exists to warrant the indictment of the accused for the crime of Kidnapping with Ransom. He added that they should be charged instead for the crimes of Robbery and Grave Threats. The Court set the hearing of this Motion to 06 March 2003. On 03 March 2003, private complainants appearing through Private Prosecutor Teresita G. Oledan filed an "Urgent Motion to Hold Withdrawal of Information for Kidnapping Charge with Entry of Appearance as Private Prosecutor." They alleged in said Motion that they were not furnished clear and certified true copies of the Resolution dated 03 January 2003 to enable them to file their Opposition/Comment to the Motion to Withdraw. On 05 March 2003, the Branch Clerk of Court of RTC Makati Branch 135 sent a letter dated 26 February 2003 addressed to the Branch Clerk of this Court ostensibly transmitting the Release Order of PO1 Trestiza dated 22 February 2003 together with other pertinent documents in connection with Criminal Case No. 02-3394, which was duly approved by the Hon. Francisco B. Ibay, Presiding Judge of said Court.1wphi1
8

The Order of Release dated 22 February 2003 signed by Judge Ibay directed the Jail Warden of Makati Police Station, Makati City to discharge from his custody the person of said accused as the latter was able to file the corresponding bail bond in the amount of two hundred thousand pesos (PHP200,000.00) thru the Plaridel Surety and Insurance Company provided "there exists no order in any other case to the effect that he shall remain confined under your custody." He set the arraignment of the accused on 14 March 2003 at 8:30 oclock in the morning. Before the scheduled hearing of the Motion to Withdraw a t 2:00 oclock in the afternoon of 06 March 2003, the Private Prosecutor filed her Opposition thereto at 1:30 oclock in the afternoon of said date. She alleged therein that while the Motion to Withdraw filed by Public Prosecutor Marcos prays for the withdrawal of the Information for Kidnapping with Ransom and the substitution thereof with an Information for Robbery, the latter Information was filed immediately with the Criminal Cases Unit of the Office of the Clerk of Court on the same date that the Motion to Withdraw was filed with this Court on 21 February 2003. Subsequently, said "Information for Robbery" was raffled to RTC Branch 57 on 03 March 2003 yet there was a scheduled hearing of the Motion to Withdraw on 06 March 2003. She added that the complainants were in a quandary why the alleged "substituted" Information for Robbery was raffled to another Court and docketed as Criminal Case No. 03-766, when this Court has already acquired jurisdiction over the original cases filed. The same case was thereafter consolidated with this Court on 26 March 2003 as per Order dated 24 March 2003 rendered by the Honorable Reinato G. Quilala, Presiding Judge thereat. Accused PS/Insp. Manrique, PO1 Trestiza, and Pineda posted bail in this case, which was duly approved by Judge Ibay, while accused SPO2 Joses bail was approved by Judge Napoleon E. Inoturan, Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 133. At the hearing to the Motion to Withdraw, then Acting Presiding Judge Abad Santos gave counsel for the accused time within which to file his comment/objection to the Urgent Motion to Hold Withdrawal of Information for Kidnapping filed by the private complainants, furnishing the Private Prosecutor a copy thereof, who was given the same number of days to file her Reply, if necessary. The Court likewise ordered the "re-commitment" of all three (3) accused, who were then present at that hearing, to the custody of the Makati City Jail despite the fact that they have already posted bail, considering that the Motion to Withdraw was still pending resolution. Counsel for the accused filed his Comment to the Opposition dated 10 March 2003 alleging that the same did not bear the conformity of the Public Prosecutor who has direct control and supervision over the Private Prosecutor as provided for under the Rules of Criminal Procedure. Said Comment, to his mind, is thus a mere scrap of paper which did not deserve any consideration by the Court. On 13 March 2003, the Court was furnished by the private complainants a copy of their "Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution dated January 03, 2003 but Released on February 20, 2003" which they filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City. xxx On 29 May 2003, accused PO1 Trestiza and PS/Insp. Manrique filed an Urgent Motion to Resolve Motion for Withdrawal of Original Information claiming that said Original Informations have subsequently been amended by the Public Prosecutors Office and just "needs the court/judge*s+ approval of the Motion to Withdraw Complaint and for Admission of the Amended Information." Moreover, they averred that the City Prosecutors Office has approved the findings of the reinvestigating Assistant City Prosecutor on the downgrading of the original complaint. Both accused prayed that said motion be heard on 28 May 2003. On 9 June 2003, the Private Prosecutor filed an Ex-Parte Opposition to Accuseds Motion for Withdrawal of Original Information with Motion for Issuance of the Warrant of Arrest against accused SPO2 Jose. She alleged therein that "it is true that one of the accuseds right is the right to speedy trial. However, where, as in this case, the stench of "something fishy" already was evident when suddenly the robbery case as amended by Prosecutor Marcos and more recently "affirmed" by Prosecutor Sibucao, there should be further in-depth investigation as the circumstances on how the three accused were able to post bail without the knowledge and approval of this Honorable Court, which had already acquired jurisdiction over the case. In fact, a Petition for Review from the Resolution of Prosecutor Sibucao denying the Private Complainants Motion for Reconsideration of the 03 January 2003 Resolution of Prosecutor Marcos duly approved by the City Prosecutor has been seasonably filed." She further alleged that, the Urgent Motion allegedly filed by accused PO1 Trestiza and PS/Insp. Manrique does not include accused SPO2 Jose, also a member of the Police Force. However, the records show that the latter also "post bail" for the Robbery case and was in fact "outside" the Chamber of this Honorable Court when the hearing was being conducted. "However, when she went out to look for him, SPO2 Jose was able to do a

Houdini and disappeared from view." Private Prosecutor Oledan prayed for the deferment of the proceedings herein until the final resolution of the Petition for Review. Referring back to the Urgent Motion to Resolve by accused PO1 Trestiza and PS/Insp. Manrique, considering that the latter prayed for it to be heard on 28 May 2003, but filed said Motion the following day only, the same was then set for hearing on 10 June 2003. On the same date, the Private Prosecutor furnished the Court a copy of their Petition for Review which they filed with the Department of Justice. In the meantime, the Branch Clerk of this Court issued a Certification to the effect that Acting Presiding Judge Abad Santos was on official leave until 15 July 2003 and that there is an Urgent Motion to be resolved. Pairing Judge Manuel D. Victorio, acting on the Urgent Motion, issued the Order of even date directing the City Prosecution Office to submit to the Court the complete records of its Preliminary Investigation within five (5) days from notice, thereafter the same shall be considered for resolution. On 23 June 2003, accused PO1 Trestiza filed an Ex-Parte Motion for Early Resolution of the Pending Motion to Resolve, reiterating the grounds stated in his previous Motion. Before the issue could be resolved by the Pairing Judge, however, the Honorable Estela Perlas Bernabe, took over this Court as Assisting Presiding Judge, after the Honorable Salvador S. Abad Santos requested the Supreme Court to be relieved of his assignment herein. Judge Bernabe issued the Order dated 27 June 2003 holding in abeyance the Resolution of the Prosecutions Motion to Withdraw Information for a period of sixty (60) days from the filing of the Petition for Review by private complainants with the Reviewing Office. On 08 July 2003, she denied the Motion to Dismiss Criminal Case No. 023394 for Illegal Possession of Firearms filed against accused PO1 Trestiza on the grounds that the allegations raised by said accused are defenses proper for determination in a full-blown trial and set the pre-trial of the same to 24 July 2003. Trial on the merits for this particular Criminal Case ensued until the Prosecution rested its case and said accused filed his Demurrer to Evidence on 05 March 2004. In the meantime, without any word yet as to the outcome of the Petition for Review filed with the DOJ relative to Criminal Case No. 02-3393, Judge Bernabe issued the Order dated 28 August 2003, directing the City Prosecution Office to conduct a re-assessment and re-evaluation of the evidence presented and to submit its report and recommendation within a period of thirty (30) days from receipt of said Order. The Resolution of the subject Motion was again held in abeyance. On 02 March 2004, the Prosecution filed a "Motion to Resolve (Motion to Withdraw Information of Kidnapping) with attached Order dated 19 February 2004. It alleged therein that it conducted a thorough re-assessment and re-evaluation of the evidence obtaining in this case in compliance with the Order of this Court dated 28 August 2003 and maintains that the correct and appropriate charges to be filed against accused should be for ROBBERY and GRAVE THREATS but for two (2) counts each, and NOT for KIDNAPPING as initially filed. Thus, it prayed for this Court to be allowed to withdraw the present Information for Kidnapping "considering that the appropriate charges of two (2) counts of Robbery and two (2) counts of Grave Threats in lieu of the charge of KIDNAPPING have already been filed with the proper Courts." To justify the Prosecutions withdrawal of the Information for KIDNAPPING, Public Prosecutor Edgardo G. Hirang states, in the Order attached to the said Motion, that, to wit: "A careful re-evaluation of the pieces of evidence adduced by both parties shows that the offense of Kidnapping shall not prosper against all the accused. As correctly stated in the Resolution issued on February 20, 2003, one of the essential elements for the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom defined and penalized under [Article] 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is that [the] offender must be a private individual which does not obtain in the case at bar as respondents Trestiza, Manrique, and Jose are public officers being police officers who at the time the complainants were allegedly divested of their cash money and personal belongings by herein respondents, were conducting a police operation to enforce the provision of the Dangerous Drug Law (R.A. 9165). All accused were in the place of the incident to conduct such operation is shown not only by the existence of coordination between them and the police authorities but also by the declaration of the complainants that they were able to verify the plate number of the vehicle of the accused from the Makati Police Station. Hence, they should be charged with the offense of Robbery under Article 294, paragraph 5 of the Revised Penal Code and Grave Threats as recommended by this Office in its Resolution issued on February 20, 2003. Considering that there are two (2) complainants, the respondents should be charged with two (2) counts of Robbery and Grave Threats."

The Prosecution filed on the same date a Motion to Amend Information and to Admit Attached Amended Information in Criminal Case No. 02-766 alleging that the Criminal Information therein for Robbery should only be limited to private complainant Yus complaint and not to Navarros. Counsel for the accused, Atty. Jose Ma. Q. Austria, filed an Urgent Motion to calendar the hearing of the Motion to Amend Information and to Admit Amended Information which the Court granted in its Order dated 25 March 2004. In the meantime, Criminal Case No. 04-1311 for Robbery which was filed on the strength of the Complaint of Navarro was consolidated with similar cases pending before this Court, upon the Order dated 12 March 2004 by the Honorable Ma. Cristina J. Cornejo, Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 147. After study, the Court resolves to: 1. DENY the Motion to Withdraw Information for Kidnapping under Criminal Case No. 02-3393; 2. To [sic] GRANT the Motion to Amend Information for Robbery; [and] 3. To [sic] Hold in Abeyance the Issuance of the Warrant of Arrest against SPO2 Jose in Criminal Case No. 02-3393 until after the Information relative thereto shall have been duly amended by the Prosecution. In its Motion to Withdraw Information for Kidnapping, the Public Prosecutor argues in essence that the crime of Kidnapping could not be possibly committed by the accused as they, except for one, are police officers, who at the time the complainants were divested of cash and other personal belongings were conducting a police operation to enforce the provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Law. This to the mind of the movant runs counter to the provisions of Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any other 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 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, female or a public officer. The Court finds this unmeritorious. Even a public officer can commit the said crime within the context of the aforesaid legal provision. This is settled in our jurisprudence in the case of People vs. ALIPIO SANTIANO, JOSE SANDIGAN, et al. (GR No. 123979[,] December 3, 1998) which provides in part: "The fact alone that appellant Pillneta is an organic member of the NARCOM and appellant Sandigan a member of the PNP would not exempt them from the criminal liability of kidnapping. It is quite clear that in abducting and taking away the victim, appellants did so neither in furtherance of official functions nor in the pursuit of authority vested in them. It is not, in fine, in relation to their office, but in purely private capacity that they have acted in concert with their co-appellant Santiano and Chanco." Even an eminent jurist, Justice Florenz B. Regalado elucidates on this point clearly: "This article provides that the crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention are committed by private individuals obviously because if the offender is a public officer the crime is arbitrary detention under Art. 124, but passing sub silentio on the matter of kidnapping. It should be understood however, that the public officer who unlawfully detains another and is punishable by Art. 124 is one who has the duty to apprehend a person with a correlative power to detain him. If he is only an employee with clerical or postal functions, although the Code considers him as a public officer, his detention of the victim is illegal detention under this article since he is acting in a private, and not an official, capacity. If a policeman kidnaps the victim, except when legally authorized as part of police operations, he cannot also be said to be acting in an official capacity, hence he is to be treated as a private individual liable under this article. (underscoring ours)

From the purpose and the formulation of R.A. 18 and R.A. 1084, it can be deduced that the legislative intendment was to put all forms of kidnapping under Art. 267 when Congress amended it together with Art. 270. There appears to have been some oversight, however, in the related articles and these will be discussed at the proper juncture." (Florenz B. Regalado, Pages 488 and 489, Criminal Law Conspectus, First Edition, March 2000) As to whether or not the accused were indeed engaged in the performance of a legitimate police operation at the time the private complainants were allegedly deprived of their liberty and personal belongings is a matter which at this stage can only be considered as a defense that calls for further factual support in the course of judicial proceedings. Was there a Mission Order? Are there documents to show that police-to-police coordinations were indeed made? Are there corroborations to these claims whether documentary or testimonial? The need for further evidence supportive of this claim gains significance in the light of the emphatic assertions to the contrary by the private complainants and their witnesses. As there appears to be probable cause for the inclusion of accused SPO2 Jose in Criminal Case No. 02-3393 for Kidnapping considering that the latter was specifically mentioned in the body of the Information as someone who conspired, confederated and mutually helped the other accused in this case, the Court resolves to await for the Prosecution to amend the same before issuing a Warrant of Arrest against said accused. Lastly, the Court finds the sought amendment of the Information for Robbery to be well-taken. WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves to: 1. DENY the Motion to Withdraw Information for Kidnapping [under Criminal Case No. 02-3393]; 2. GRANT the Motion to Amend Information for Robbery; 3. Hold in abeyance the Issuance of the Warrant of Arrest against accused SPO2 Jose in Criminal Case No. 02-3393 until after the Information relative thereto shall have been duly amended by the Prosecution. Set these cases for arraignment on 27 April 2004 at 8:30 oclock in the morning. 1wphi1 The Amended Information for Robbery duly attached in the Motion is hereby ADMITTED. SO ORDERED. Atty. Jose Ma. Q. Austria (Atty. Austria) withdrew as counsel for Manrique and Pineda. Atty. Austria also manifested that he would file an Omnibus Motion relative to the 16 April 2004 Order of the trial court. The arraignment was reset to 25 May 9 10 11 12 13 2004, which was further reset to 28 June 2004, 19 July 2004, 23 August 2004, and finally on 31 August 2004. Atty. Austria filed his Omnibus Motion for Trestiza: motion for reconsideration of the 16 April 2004 Order, motion to quash 14 15 the informations, and motion to allow Trestiza to post bail. Complainants opposed the Omnibus Motion. The 16 17 18 corresponding reply and rejoinder were also filed. In its 19 August 2004 Order, the trial court denied the Omnibus Motion. It ruled that the trial court has the authority to deny a Motion to Withdraw Information relative to a criminal case filed before it. Moreover, the quashal of the informations against the accused goes into the determination of the nature of the arrest, which, in turn, goes into the merits of the case. Finally, the charge of kidnapping is a non-bailable offense. When the case was called for arraignment, Trestiza, Manrique and Pineda all pleaded not guilty to the following charges: Criminal Case No. 02-3393: That on or about the 7th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, PO1 Froilan Trestiza y Lacson and P/S Insp. Loriemar L. Manrique, both active members of the Philippine National Police, and Rodie Pineda y Jimenez, a private individual[,] all of them armed with firearms, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another with one PO2 Reynel Jose, a member of the Philippine National Police, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap Lawrence Yu y Lim and Maria Irma Navarro, or otherwise deprive them of their liberty by then and there kidnap without legal grounds for the purpose of extorting money for their safety and immediate release as in fact said accused demanded the amount of P1,000,000.00 as ransom money from them.

CONTRARY TO LAW. Criminal Case No. 03-766: That on or about the 7th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, PO1 Froilan Trestiza y Lacson and P/S Insp. Loriemar L. Manrique, PO2 Reynel Jose, all active members of the Philippine National Police, and Rodie Pineda y Jimenez, a private individual[,] all of them armed with firearms, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another with intent to gain by means of force and violence or intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob and divest Lawrence Yu y Lim and Maria Irma Navarro of the following items to wit: a. One (1) piece of necklace (gold) with pendant amounting to P50,000.00; b. Two (2) pieces bracelet (gold) worth more or less P70,000.00; c. One (1) Rolex watch worth P270,000.00; d. One (1) mens ring worth P15,000.00; e. Two (2) cellphone[s] described as Nokia 9210 & 3310; f. One (1) Philip Chariole [sic] watch worth P150,000.00; g. One (1) Philip Chariole [sic] bracelet worth P75,000.00; h. One (1) solo diamond studded [sic] (3K) worth P500,000.00; i. One (1) womens ring gold worth P12,000.00; j. One (1) necklace gold [sic] worth P20,000.00; k. One (1) [sic] cellphone[s] described as Nokia 7650 & 8855; and, l. Cash money amounting to more or less P300,000.00 to the damage and prejudice of the said complainants. CONTRARY TO LAW." Criminal Case No. 04-1311: That on or about the 7th day of November 2002, in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines a place within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping and aiding one another, with intent of gain and by means of force and violence or intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob and divest Irma Maria A. Navarro of the following items to wit: a. One (1) Chariol (sic) watch b. One (1) Gold ring c. One (1) Chariol (sic) bracelet d. One (1) pair diamond earring (sic) e. One (1) gold necklace

f. One (1) cellphone 7650 Nokia g. One (1) cellphone 8855 Nokia h. Cash money amounting to P120,000.00 to the damage and prejudice of the complainant. CONTRARY TO LAW.
19

The trial court set the case for pre-trial conference on 14 September 2004, which was reset to 20 September 2004. The parties stipulated on the following: 1. That on November 7, 2002, the three (3) accused, Trestiza, Manrique and Pineda were using an Adventure van with plate no. XAU-298; 2. That Loriemar Manrique was the team leader of the group comprising [sic] of Rodie Pineda and Reynel Jose on November 7, 2002; 3. That the incident started at the Hotel Intercon located in Makati City; 4. That Loriemar Manrique is a member of the PNP Drug Enforcement Agency; 5. That accused Froilan Trestiza was the driver of the Adventure van bearing plate no. XAU-298 on November 17, 2002; 6. That after the operation was conducted, there was never any occasion that the accused Froilan Trestiza communicated with any of the complainants; 7. None of the items allegedly lost by the complainants were recovered from accused Froilan Trestiza. The trial court summarized the testimonies during trial as follows: The prosecution sought to establish its case by presenting the following witnesses: Ma. Irma A. Navarro, Lawrence Yu y Lim, PO2 Rodolfo Santiago, PO3 Rosauro P. Almonte, John Paul Joseph P. Suguitan, Angelo Gonzales, PO3 Edward C. Ramos, Schneider R. Vivas, PSInsp. Salvador V. Caro, and Chief Insp. Roseller Fabian. The Prosecutions main evidence relies heavily upon the accounts of Irma and Lawrence who testified respectively as follows: On November 7, 2002 at about one oclock in the morning, Irma and her boyfriend Lawrence, both twenty -two (22) years old at the time of the incident, were at the "Where Else Disco" in Makati attending a party. They stayed thereat for around thirty (30) minutes only. Irma however, went out ahead of Lawrence. When she was about to proceed to where Lawrences Honda ESI car was parked, she noticed that the said car was blocked by another vehicle which was a Mitsubishi Adventure van. Three (3) armed men later on emerged from the said van. As she was about to open the door of the Honda ESI, somebody hit her in [sic] the nape. When she turned her back, she saw the three (3) men in the company of Rodie Pineda alias "Buboy" ("Pineda"). She knew Pineda because the latter was her sister Cynthias "kumpare," Pineda being the godfather of Cynthias child. Furthermore, she saw Pineda in their residence the night of November 6, 2002 as he visited his [sic] sister. She asked Pineda what was happening but the latter replied " pasensya na, mare, trabaho lang" ("Bear with me, mare, this is just a job"). She was told that the three (3) whose identities she later on learned as Capt. Lorieman Manrique, PO2 Reynel Jose and PO1 Froilan Trestiza, were policemen. She asked why she was being accosted but she was handcuffed by Manrique. She was ushered inside the Honda ESI. Pineda asked her where Lawrence was but she was left inside the car with Jose while Pineda, Trestiza and Manrique on the other hand went away apparently to look for Lawrence. Pineda and Manrique later on went back inside the Honda ESI. They drove later with Jose behind the wheels [sic] while Pineda occupied the passenger seat. They followed the Mitsubishi Adventure van which was then driven by Trestiza. Unknown to Irma, Lawrence was already
22

20

21

inside the van at the time. They just drove and drove around ("umiikot"), passing through small alleys as they avoided major routes. She was asked later by Pineda to remove her jewelry. She was able to remove only her earrings as she was in handcuffs. Pineda himself removed her Philip Chariolle [sic] watch and bracelet. Her necklace and ring followed. All these were later on turned over by Pineda to Manrique. Her bag where her wallet containing the amount of P120,000.00 was likewise taken. Her two (2) cellphones, a 7650 and an 8855, were likewise taken by Pineda. They stopped several times at the side streets and the accused would talk to each other. Pineda would stay with her inside the vehicle while Jose would go out and talk to the occupants of the Mitsubishi Adventure. Later on, she and Lawrence were brought together inside the Mitsubishi Adventure van. It was there that they were told that they will not be released if they will not be able to produce one million pesos. These were all uttered by Jose and Manrique. It was somewhere in Blumentritt, San Juan where all the accused stopped for the last time. She was crying all the while. She later on felt the call of nature, prompting her to ask permission if she could possibly relieve herself. She was accompanied by Pineda to a nearby Shell gas station in San Juan. When they returned to where they stopped, she was asked as to whom she could possibly call so that the money that the accused were asking will be produced. The accused later on asked Lawrence to make a call using his cellphone with speaker phone. Lawrence was able to get in touch with his friends John Paul Suguitan and Angelo Gonzales. The latter was told that Lawrence figured in an accident and that he needs money badly. Lawrence and his friends agreed that the money the two will produce will be brought to the Caltex gas station along Ortigas corner Wilson Street in Greenhills. They proceeded to the said place later where they waited for the friends of Lawrence. She was told later by Manrique that she better pray that the transaction pushes through. Manrique further warned her against reporting the incident to anyone lest her whole family will be held liable. She was even shown by the accused the picture of her child. She was cursed by Jose. Trestiza on the other hand told her that Lawrences transaction should better push through. The two, John Paul Suguitan and Angelo Gonzales, later on arrived at the gas station. Lawrence took from them what appears to be a package and handed the same to Pineda. Manrique thereafter called Pineda asking "positive na ba?" to which Pineda replied "yes." The amount raised by the friends of Lawrence was one hundred eighty thousand pesos (Php 180,000.00). They (Irma and Lawrence) were later brought to the Star Mall along Edsa. Their captors warned them not to report the matter to the authorities otherwise they will face dire consequences. The items taken from Irma like the cash money, jewelry and cellphone were placed by the men inside the console box of the Mitsubishi Adventure. When they reached Star Mall, the men talked to them for thirty minutes. Again, they were warned about the consequences of their reporting the incident to the police. Irma was told that the men knew her address, the members of her family and that they have the picture of her child. She was likewise warned not to report the matter to her father, Rod Navarro, who was an actor and a policeman, otherwise her daughter with Lawrence will be the one [to] bear the consequences (" anak ko ang mananagot"). They were released after thirty (30) minutes. Lawrence had to plead for their gasoline from the accused and he was given Php 100.00. Irma decided not to tell her mother about the incident as she was very afraid. Lawrence however made a report to the Makati police station in the evening of 7 November 2002 where he was shown a "coordination sheet" pertaining to the plate number of the Mitsubishi Adventure. Buboy Pineda in the meanwhile kept on calling them (Irma and Lawrence) demanding for their "balance" of one million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00). Irmas mother however soon learned of the incident because of a newspaper item. Her father likewise learned of the incident and lost no time in contacting authorities from the CIDG. They (Irma and Lawrence) were later investigated by the CIDG people to whom they gave their sworn statements on November 14, 2002. As Buboy Pineda continued to call them for the alleged balance, an entrapment operation was planned on that date. Boodles of money were dusted with ultra-violet powder. On the same date, Buboy Pineda called Lawrence for purposes of meeting him that night in order to get the remaining money. The entrapment operation which was conducted along the New World Hotel, and participated in by PO2 Almonte, was successful as Buboy Pineda was arrested. Recovered from the possession of Pineda were a gold necklace without a pendant; a Nokia cellphone model 7650; a Toyota corolla car with plate number PNG 214 color red and one (1) ignition key. The necessary acknowledgment receipt was duly signed by the said accused. A pawnshop ticket was likewise recovered from his possession. Lawrence on the other hand narrated that during that fateful day of 7 November 2002 at around 1:30 oclock in the morning, as he was stepping out from the Where Else Disco, he was suddenly "sandwhiched" [sic] by two (2) persons, Manrique and Trestiza. Pineda whom he likewise knew, held a gun and pointed the same to him. He was later on "lifted" through his belt and loaded to a yellow Mitsubishi Adventure. He was made to occupy the passenger seat at the back while Trestiza drove the said vehicle. Manrique occupied the seat beside Trestiza. He asked the accused who they were and he was told that they were policemen. At the time, Trestiza was wearing an outfit which was "hip hop" while Manrique was

wearing a polo which was "button down." He was cursed and told to shut up. He was asked to bow down his head as they drove along. He remembers that the accused dug into his pockets and his valuables consisting of cellphones, a 9210 and a 3310 models [sic] respectively, including his wallet, cigarettes, watch bracelet, ring, necklace and a pair of earrings, were taken from him. He later on saw his Honda ESI car. He noticed that the Mitsubishi Adventure they riding was following the said Honda ESI. Manrique later asked him how much money did he have. When replied that his money was inside his car, Manrique allegedly retorted "imposible." They later on stopped in Mandaluyong near an open canal. He was asked again by Manrique about his money. At that point, another man whose name he later on learned was SPO2 Reynel Jose, boarded also the Mitsubishi Adventure. Jose asked him about his money. When he replied that his money was inside his car, Jose got mad and boxed him on his face. They later on resumed driving around. When they stopped again, Jose asked him whether he has thought of the money. When he again replied that the money was inside his car, he was boxed repeatedly by Jose. Manrique and Trestiza were seated in the front seats but did not do anything. They resumed driving again. Jose asked him again about the money. When he gave the same response, Jose put a plastic material over his head which made him unable to breath [sic]. Jose strangled him, prompting him to shout later "okay na, okay na. Sige na, sige na magbibigay na ako" ("Okay, okay. I will give."). Jose stopped strangling him and immediately removed the plastic material over his head. Jose remarked that had he cooperated earlier, he would not have been hurt. Trestiza and Manrique told him that he should not have kept the matter long. Later on, the four (4) men had a brief huddle. He was later on approached by them saying "okay na ha, isang milyon na" ("Okey ha, its one million). He could not recall however who in particular made the remark. He was later on instructed by Manrique to call certain persons with the information that he figured in [an] accident. He was made to use his 9210 model phone as the same had a " speaker" thus enabling the accused to listen to the conversation. He tried to get in touch with his siblings but failed. He was able to contact later on his friends John Paul Suguitan and Angelo Gonzales who were then in Libis. He told his friends that he needed money very badly as he had an accident. He instructed his friends to proceed to the area given by Manrique which was at the Caltex gas station along Ortigas corner Wilson Street in Greenhills. Later on, Irma and Lawrence were allowed to be together inside the Mitsubishi Adventure. It was at that point where they were told to produce the amount of One Million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00) that night so they will be released. These very words were uttered by Jose and Manrique. Irma later on asked permission to answer the call of nature and she was accompanied by Pineda to the Shell gas station in San Juan where she relieved herself. Upon arriving at the said gas station, Lawrence was directed to drive his Honda ESI car. He was in the company of Pineda while Irma on the other hand was with Manrique, Trestiza and Jose inside the Mitsubishi Adventure. While Irma was inside the Mitsubishi Adventure, she was told that if the person contacted by Lawrence will not show up, they will not be released and if Lawrence will escape, she will be finished off. Manrique thereafter told Irma to better pray that the transaction will push through. She was warned that if she reports the incident, her family will be harmed. The said accused had her childs picture at the time. Jose was cursing her. Trestiza on the other hand was seated at the driver side of the Mitsubishi Adventure van and remarked that Lawrences transaction should push through so that they will be released. Not long after, Lawrence alighted from his car and stood beside the vehicle. His friends vehicl e later on arrived. Lawrence approached the vehicle that has just arrived and took something. Pineda remained seated in Lawrences car while smoking. The door of the said car was open at the time. Lawrence thereafter walked back to where Pineda was and handed to him a package. It was already around 4: or 4:30 in the morning. Lawrences friends thereafter went away, prompting Pineda to call Manrique. Manrique allegedly asked "positive na ba?" to which Pineda replied "yes." The amount raised by the friends of Lawrence was one hundred eighty thousand pesos (Php 180,000.00). They (Irma and Lawrence) were later brought to the Star Mall along Edsa. Their captors warned them not to report the matter to the authorities otherwise they will face dire consequences. The items taken from Irma like the cash money, jewelry and cellphone were placed by the men inside the console box of the Mitsubishi Adventure. When they reached Star Mall, the men talked to them for thirty minutes. Again, they were warned about the consequences of their reporting the incident to the police. Irma was told that the men knew her address, the members of her family and that they have the picture of her child. She was likewise warned not to report the matter to her father, Rod Navarro, who was an actor and a policeman, otherwise her daughter with Lawrence will be the one [to] bear the consequences (" anak ko ang mananagot"). They were released along Edsa after thirty (30) minutes. Lawrence had to plead for their gasoline from the accused and he was given Php 100.00. Irma decided not to tell her mother about the incident as she was very afraid. Lawrence however made a report to the Makati police station in the evening of 7 November 2002 where he was shown a "coordination sheet" pertaining to the plate number of the Mitsubishi Adventure. Buboy Pineda in the meanwhile kept on calling them (Irma and Lawrence) demanding for their "balance" of one million pesos (Php 1,000,000.00). Irmas mother however soon learned of the incident

because of a newspaper item. Her father likewise learned of the incident and lost no time in contacting authorities from the CIDG. They (Irma and Lawrence) were later investigated by the CIDG people to who they gave their sworn statements on November 14, 2002. As Buboy Pineda continued to call them for the alleged balance, an entrapment operation was planned on that date. Boodles of money were dusted with ultra-violet powder. On the same date, Buboy Pineda called Lawrence for purposes of meeting him that night in order to get the remaining money. The entrapment operation which was conducted along the New World Hotel, and participated in by PO2 Almonte, was successful as Buboy Pineda was arrested. Recovered from the possession of Pineda were a gold necklace without pendant; a Nokia cellphone model 7650; a Toyota corolla car with plate number PNG 214 color red and one (1) ignition key. The necessary acknowledgment receipt was duly signed by the said accused. A pawnshop ticket was likewise recovered from his possession. Early in the morning of the following day at the CIDG, Lorieman Manrique went to the said office looking for his co-accused Froilan Trestiza. He (Manrique) was arrested thereat when the private complainants who happened to be there as they were giving additional statements identified him (Manrique) through a one-way mirror. Trestiza was likewise arrested later as he was identified by his co-accused Rodie Pineda. During the arrest, Trestiza was found to be in possession of an unlicensed firearm for which the corresponding charge was filed. He (Trestiza) was likewise the subject of the complaint sheet filed by Irma and Lawrence and was likewise identified by his co-accused Pineda as one of the cohorts in the kidnapping of the former. The Defense on the other hand presented the following version: Private complainants Irma Navarro and Lawrence Yu were known to accused Rodie Buboy Pineda, a freelance dance instructor prior to his incarceration, and a godfather to the child of Irmas sister, since 1997. The two (Irma and Lawrence) are known to Pineda as suppliers of prohibited drugs, particularly Ecstasy, blue anchors, and yeng-yen. The two, Irma and Lawrence have been distributing these drugs to various customers who [sic] frequented bars and disco pubs. Pineda has been transacting with the two, particularly Lawrence, for a profit. Realizing later that his involvement with the group of Lawrence has become deeper and deeper, Pineda thought of causing the arrest of the latter. He (Pineda) soon decided to report the matter to the police authorities and contacted forthwith his long-time acquaintance, now his co-accused Froilan Trestiza on November 6, 2002 at 10:30 in the evening. At that time, Trestiza was a policeman under the Special Action Unit, Group Directors Office of the National Capital Region. Pineda and Trestiza, who have known each other for the past ten years, used to be dancers at the Equinox Disco along Pasay Road. Upon learning the information from Pineda, Trestiza contacted his classmate PO2 Rolando de Guzman of the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA) who in turn referred Trestiza to Captain Lorieman Manrique who was then the Deputy Chief of the Special Enforcement Unit of the PDEA, Metro Manila Regional Office. Manrique was called later by Trestiza through cellphone and they agreed to meet the same night, at around midnight, at the parking lot of the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati. Manrique prepared a Pre-Operation sheet for a possible narcotics operation. He likewise gave [the] plate number of the vehicle he was then driving which was a Mitsubishi Adventure van with plate number HAU-298. During their ensuing meeting, Manrique was with PO2 Reynel Jose. Pineda and Manrique talked to each other. Manrique later on briefed Pineda and Jose. Trestiza was about three to five meters away from the three (3). After the briefing, Manrique asked Trestiza to drive the Mitsubishi Adventure. Manrique told Trestiza that the buy-bust operation has been pre-coordinated with the Makati police. Manrique later joined Trestiza inside the Mitsubishi Adventure while Jose and Pineda were outside as though waiting for someone. Irma and Lawrence later on arrived and they talked to Pineda and Jose. Pineda introduced Jose to Irma and Lawrence as the buyer. Jose was only wearing a t -shirt at the time and it seemed Lawrence and Irma doubted him. Jose told the two that he has the money with him and he would like to buy drugs. Irma however whispered something to Lawrence prompting the latter to vascillate [sic]. From where they are seated inside the Mitsubishi Adventure, Trestiza and Manrique could see what were [sic] going on among Irma, Lawrence, Jose and Pineda. Later on, Jose approached Trestiza and Manrique and told them that the pre -arranged signal is when he (Jose) scratched his head. According further to Jose, his scratching of his head will mean a signal to Trestiza to drive towards them the vehicle. As Jose later on scratched his head, Trestiza drove the vehicle towards the group as instructed. Manrique thereafter alighted and effected the arrest of Irma and Lawrence. Irma went hysterical and was loaded into the Honda ESI while Lawrence was made to board the Mitsubishi Adventure. It was at that point when two (2) mobile cars arrived with policemen on board. A commotion immediately ensued between the police men aboard the mobile cars and Manriques men. Firearms were drawn and poked against each of the men ( nagkatutukan ng baril). Jose, however, later on showed what appeared to be a document to the men aboard the mobile car. One of the men later on made a call through his radio and then left afterwards. Manrique later on instructed Trestiza to drive towards Edsa on their way to Camp Crame. Along the way, Manrique conducted a tactical interrogation against Lawrence and Irma about their drug-related activities. Upon reaching SM

Megamall, however, Manrique told Trestiza to pull over. Manrique talked to Lawrence, Irma, Jose and Pineda. Trestiza remained inside the van. Trestiza, however, overheard that Lawrence was at that point was talking about his supplier of ecstasy. Thereafter, Manrique briefed anew Pineda and Jose in the presence of Irma and Lawrence. It was understood among them that Lawrence will wait for his alleged supplier whose name was allegedly Jojo at the Caltex gas stat ion along Wilson Street in Greenhills. Lawrence told Manrique that this Jojo was really a big-time supplier of ecstasy and cocaine. Upon arriving at the gas station, the group waited for Lawrences supplier for an hour but nobody appeared. Manrique became impatient and went to where Lawrence was. Manrique later told his men that Lawrence might have alerted his supplier. He (Manrique) then decided to bring the two (Irma and Lawrence) to Camp Crame. Trestiza, however, pointed out to Manrique that nothing was taken from the possession of the two. Manrique conferred anew with Jose. Jose remarked that the items could have been thrown away. It was later on decided that Irma and Lawrence will just be released. The two were indeed released near the [Manuela] Complex along Edsa. Trestiza was later on arrested by the CIDG operatives in the early morning of November 16, 2002 at the parking lot of the Club 5 Disco. A gun was poked at him and he was shoved inside a vehicle. He was boxed and placed on handcuffs. He was not shown any warrant of arrest. He told the arresting officers that he is also a policeman. He was brought later to Camp Crame. While at Camp Crame, he was shown to his co-accused Pineda and the latter was asked "di ba sya yung nag-drive noong may operation laban kina Irma Navarro?" ("Is he not the one who drove during the operation against Irma Navarro?"). He (Trestiza) asked the authorities what were the grounds for detaining him but his queries were not answered. His watch, wallet and cellphone were taken. Later on the same day, Irma arrived in Camp Crame. The authorities thereat talked to Irma, afterwhich, a policeman told her "eto yung itinuturo ni Buboy na nag-drive." ("This is the one pointed to by Buboy as the one who drove"). Several days later, all the accused were presented to the press by the office of General Matillano. The Philippine Daily Inquirer covered the story and later on came out with an article entitled " We Were Framed." The defense likewise presented PO2 Rolando de Guzman who corroborated the claim of Trestiza that he was called by the 23 latter concerning the information given by Pineda. No further evidence was presented. The Trial Courts Ruling In its Joint Decision dated 24 July 2007, the trial court found Trestiza, Manrique, and Pineda guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principals by direct participation of the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom. The trial court concentrated its ruling on the credibility of the witnesses. It found the testimonies of the prosecution credible, with their versions of the incident dovetailing with each other even on minor details. On the other hand, the defenses testimonies taxed the credulity of the trial court. The trial court raised numerous questions about the defenses story line: x x x But this leads the court to wonder: if indeed Pineda was so bothered by his involvement with the group of Lawrence, why did he spill the beans against Irma and Lawrence only? Did he not state that it was a " group" that he was transacting with? Who were the other members of this group? What were their activities that were so dark and clandestine so as to make him suddenly shudder and opt for a change of life? These were not answered by Pinedas testimony. Also, while Manrique presented what appears to be a Pre-Operation Coordination Report, thus creating at first glance the impression that theirs was a legitimate police operation, this still does not detract from nor diminish the credibility of the complainants claim that they were subsequently abducted and money was demanded in exchange for their release. For even if the court is to indulge the claim of the defense that the complainants were indeed drug-pushers and undeserving of this courts sympathy, the nagging doubt about the existence of a prepared police operation as what Manrique and his co accused refer to, persists. For one, the said Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet appears to be unreliable. Aside from the fact that the same was not duly authenticated, the failure of the defense, particularly accused Manrique, to summon the signatories therein who may attest to the existence and authenticity of such document was not at all explained. Second, all the accused narrated about their almost-fatal encounter with another group of policemen while they were allegedly in the act of conducting the supposed buy-bust operation against the complainants. This event, to the view of this court, only invites the suspicion that the Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet was dubious if not actually non-existent. The accused likewise claimed that they released the two later along Edsa as nothing was found on them. The manner of the release, however, raises several questions: why were the complainants who were earlier suspected of being drug-pushers not brought to the police precinct? Did not Lawrence volunteer the name of his alleged supplier earlier during the tactical
24

interrogation? Why were they unloaded just like that along Edsa at that ungodly hour? Was there an incident report on the 25 matter considering that Manrique was mindful enough earlier to first secure a Pre-Operation/Coordination sheet? The dispositive portion of the trial courts Decision states: WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in Criminal Case No. 02-3393 finding the accused PO1 FROILAN TRESTIZA Y LACSON, P/INSP LORIEMAN L. MANRIQUE and RODIE PINEDA Y JIMENEZ GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principals by direct participation of the crime of KIDNAPPING for RANSOM, and they are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty ofRECLUSION PERPETUA. In addition thereto, they are ordered to pay, jointly and severally, the private complainants the sums of PHP 300,000.00 as actual damages, and PHP 300,000.00 as exemplary damages. All the accused are ACQUITTED in Criminal Cases Nos. 03-766 and 04-1311 both for Robbery respectively. Send the records of this case to the archives in so far as accused PO2 Reynel Jose, who continues to be at large, is concerned. Let, however, a Warrant of Arrest be issued against him. SO ORDERED.
26

On the same date as the promulgation of its decision, the trial court issued an Order of Commitment of Trestiza, Manrique, and Pineda to the Director of the Bureau of Corrections. On 27 July 2007, Trestiza, Manrique, and Pineda filed a Motion for New Trial and for Inhibition. Two witnesses, Camille Anne Ortiz y Alfonso (Ortiz) and Paulo Antonio De Leon y Espiritu (De Leon), allegedly intimate friends of Navarro and Yu, will testify as to the circumstances which took place in the early morning of 7 November 2002. Their testimonies, if admitted, will allegedly result in the acquittal of Trestiza, Manrique, and Pineda. These witnesses are not known to the accused, and they could not have been produced during trial. Moreover, the accused are of the belief that trial court judge Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles acted with bias against them. She allegedly made an off-the-record remark and stated that the prosecution failed to establish what they sought to prove, but then later on questioned the existence of the defenses Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet in her decision. Judge Galapate-Laguilles also failed to resolve the Petition for Bail, and failed to point out discrepancies in the testimonies of the defenses witnesses, particularly those regarding the arrests of Trestiza, Manrique, and Pineda. The prosecution opposed the Motion for New Trial and Inhibition. De Leon shared a cell with Manrique since July 2003, while the trial was ongoing, and hence De Leons supposed testimony should not be considered "newly discovered" evidence. On the other hand, Ortizs narration of events in her affidavit is full of inconsistencies. The prosecution likewis e questioned the credibility of the witnesses who allegedly heard Judge Galapate-Laguilles off-the-record remark. One was Trestizas relative, while the other was a security escort who was supposed to stay outside the courtroom. Finally, the motion itself was filed late. The supplement to the motion, to which the affidavits of the additional witnesses were attached, was filed two days after the finality of the trial courts decision. Copies of the decision were furnished to both prosecution and defense on 24 July 2007, which was also the date of promulgation. The Motion for New Trial and Inhibition was dated 27 July 2007, while the Supplement to the Motion which included the witnesses affidavits was dated 10 August 2007. The trial court held hearings on the twin motions. On 3 October 2007, the trial court issued an Order denying the Motion for New Trial and for Inhibition. The evidence presented was merely corroborative, and the prosecution was able to prove its case despite the judges alleged off-the-record equivocal remark. On 19 October 2007, Trestiza, Manrique, and Pineda filed a notice of appeal. The Order denying the Motion for New Trial and for Inhibition was received on 18 October 2007, while the Motion for New Trial and for Inhibition was filed on 27 July 2007 or three days after the promulgation of the Decision on 24 July 2004. The trial court gave due course to the notice of 31 appeal. In their brief filed with the appellate court, Trestiza, Manrique, and Pineda assigned the following errors: The trial court erred in convicting accused Trestiza despite the fact that he was not part of the alleged conspiracy in that it was not stipulated during the pre-trial that he was just the driver and was not part of the team. Besides, he did not perform any act in furtherance of the alleged conspiracy.
30 29 28

27

The trial court erred in giving credence to the testimonies of private complainants Lawrence Yu and Irma Navarro as their demeanor in the witness stand show hesitation indicative of guilt of fabrication and their testimonies lack spontaneity and were not straightforward. The trial court erred in giving credence to the testimonies of prosecution witnesses John Paul Suguitan and Angelo Gonzales as they alleged facts and circumstance that are contrary to human nature and experience. The trial court erred in convicting the accused despite the fact that the complainants were arrested in a legitimate operation as evidenced by the Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet which was authenticated by accused-appellant 32 Manrique. The Appellate Courts Ruling On 30 June 2008, the appellate court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the trial courts decision. In its recitation of facts, the appellate court quoted from the Peoples Brief for the prosecution and from the trial court for the defense. The appellate court ruled that Trestizas contention that he was just the driver of the van and never communicated with the witnesses deserves scant consideration. Yu identified Trestiza as one of the two men who sandwiched him as he left Where Else Disco, and insisted that Yu cooperate with Jose when Jose asked Yu for cash. Trestizas acts thus show that he acted in concert with his co-accused in the commission of the crime. The appellate court relied on the trial courts assessment of the reliability of the prosecutions witnesses, and gave credence to their testimonies. The appellate court declared that all the elements of kidnapping for ransom are present and thus affirmed the trial courts decision: In any event, it was established that all the elements constituting the crime of kidnapping for ransom in the case at bar are present. The elements of kidnapping for ransom under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) 7659 are as follows: (a) intent on the part of the accused to deprive the victim of his liberty; (b) actual deprivation of the victim of his liberty; and (c) motive of the accused, which is extorting ransom for the release of the victim (People vs. Raul Cenahonon, 527 SCRA 542). Here, Navarro and Yu testified how they were abducted at gun point from the parking lot in Makati and confined inside the car and van respectively; that they were both handcuffed, hence, deprived of their liberty and that appellants made a demand for them to deliver a certain amount in exchange for their release. In fine, the Court rules and so holds that appellants guilt for the offense of kidnapping for ransom has been proven beyond moral certainty of doubt. WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED and this appeal is hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.
33

Trestiza alone filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the appellate courts decision. In his Motion, Trestiza claimed that he alone, through counsel, filed an appeal brief. Trestiza further claimed that the stipulations made during pre-trial established Trestizas limited involvement, that is, he was merely a driver of the vehicle when the alleged crime took place, he never communicated with the complainants, and none of the items allegedly taken from the complainants were recovered from Trestizas possession. The trial court did not mention nor discuss these stipulations in its decision. Even the trial courts finding of facts shows Trestizas participation was merely that of an invited driver in a legitimate Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) drug bust operation. Moreover, the testimonies of witnesses of both prosecution and defense establish that Trestiza was a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) when he allegedly committed the crime. Under the circumstances, Trestiza claimed he should be held liable only for Arbitrary Detention. Finally, Trestizas identification was not only improper for being suggested, but his warrantless arrest should also be held invalid. The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a comment opposing Trestizas Motion for Reconsideration. The stipulations do not discount that Trestiza conspired with his co-appellants Manrique and Pineda in committing the crime charged. The apprehension and detention of Navarro and Yu were clearly effected for the purpose of ransom; hence, the proper crime 35 really is Kidnapping with Ransom. Trestiza filed a Reply to the Comment on 20 October 2009.

34

The appellate court denied Trestizas Motion for Reconsideration in a Resolution dated 11 November 2009. An examination of the appellants brief showed that the brief was filed for Trestiza, Manrique and Pineda. The appellate court found no compelling reason to warrant consideration of its decision. Trestiza still filed a Notice of Appeal of the appellate courts decision on 10 January 2010. The appellate court initially 38 39 40 denied Trestizas Notice of Appeal due to late filing, but eventually granted Trestizas Motion for Reconsideration of the 16 February 2010 resolution denying his Notice of Appeal. Trestiza filed the present supplemental brief before this Court on 15 August 2011. In his brief, Trestiza emphasized that Yu was apprehended by agents of the PNP and PDEA on 30 June 2011 during a raid of an illegal drugs laboratory. Yu was charged with the crime of manufacturing, possessing, and selling illegal drugs under Sections 8, 11, and 12, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165. The Issues Trestiza raised the following arguments against the appellate courts decision: I. The supervening event involving the apprehension of Lawrence L. Yu as the head of a big-time drug syndicate throws his credibility as a witness beneath the abyss of morass and decay that must be now totally discarded. II. The facts and circumstances surrounding the above-entitled case is consistent with the innocence of [Trestiza] rendering the evidence presented insufficient and without moral certainty to support a conviction. III. At the very least, the "equipoise rule" finds application in the case at bar, taking into consideration the supervening event that demolished the credibility of the witnesses presented by the prosecution. IV. The Constitutional presumption of innocence of [Trestiza] has not been overwhelmed by the tainted testimony and total lack of credibility of Lawrence L. Yu and, in light of the supervening event, could not now be overcome by questionable testimonies presented by the prosecution. V. The conviction of an innocent man is a great injustice that affects the very foundations of humanity. VI. It was not sufficiently shown that all the accused in the above-entitled case conspired in committing the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom and the same was not proven by proof beyond reasonable doubt. VII. [Trestiza] has no malicious or evil intent in acquiescing to drive the vehicle used in the buy-bust operation. VIII. [Trestiza] is innocent of the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom. The Courts Ruling At the outset, we declare that the 30 June 2011 arrest of Yu has no bearing on the present case. The two cases are independent of each other and should be treated as such. Yus innocence or guilt regarding his 30 June 2011 arrest does not affirm or negate the commission of the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom against him. Warrantless Arrest These are the circumstances surrounding Trestizas arrest: Pineda had been contacting Yu to follow up on the balance on the ransom. Pineda was then arrested pursuant to an entrapment operation conducted in the early morning of 16 November 2002 at New World Hotel. During the investigation at Camp Crame, Pineda revealed that Trestiza could be found at Club 5 in Makati. Pineda and Yu accompanied the arresting team to Club 5. Yu pointed out Trestiza to the arresting team 43 while Trestiza was on his way to his black Hummer. Trestiza questioned the legality of his warrantless arrest in an Omnibus Motion filed before his arraignment. In its Order dated 19 August 2004, the trial court stated that the quashal of the informations on account of Trestizas illegal arrest is not warranted. The determination of the nature of the arrest goes directly into the merits of the case, and needs a deeper
44 42 41 37

36

judicial determination. Matters of defense are not grounds for a Motion to Quash. The trial court, however, did not make any ruling related to Trestizas warrantless arrest in its 24 July 2007 Decision. Section 5, Rule 113 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure enumerates the instances when warrantless arrests are lawful. Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person: (a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or is temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another. In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112. It is clear that Trestizas warrantless arrest does not fall under any of the circumstances mentioned in Section 5, Rule 113. However, Trestiza failed to make a valid objection to his warrantless arrest. Any objection to the procedure followed in the matter of the acquisition by a court of jurisdiction over the person of the 45 accused must be opportunely raised before he enters his plea; otherwise, the objection is deemed waived. Trestiza, being a policeman himself, could have immediately objected to his warrantless arrest. However, he merely asked for the grounds for his arrest. He did not even file charges against the arresting officers. There was also a lengthy amount of time between Trestizas arrest on 16 November 2002 and the filing of the Omnibus Motion objecting to Trestizas warrantless arrest on 11 May 2004. Although it may be argued that the objection was raised prior to the entry of Trestizas plea of no t guilty in the kidnapping for ransom charge, it must be noted that the circumstances of the present case make us rule otherwise. Trestiza was charged with two crimes at the time of his arrest: kidnapping with ransom under Criminal Case No. 02-3393 and illegal possession of firearms under Criminal Case No. 02-3394. Trestiza did not question the legality of his warrantless arrest nor the acquisition of jurisdiction of the trial court over his person, and fully participated in the hearing of the illegal possession of firearms case. Thus, Trestiza is deemed to have waived any objection to his warrantless arrest. Under the circumstances, Trestizas Omnibus Motion in the kidnapping for ransom case is a mere afterthought and cannot be considered as a timely objection. Assuming arguendo that Trestiza indeed made a timely objection to his warrantless arrest, our jurisprudence is replete with rulings that support the view that Trestizas conviction is proper despite being illegally arrested without warrant. In People v. Manlulu, the Court ruled: [T]he illegality of the warrantless arrest cannot deprive the State of its right to prosecute the guilty when all other facts on 46 record point to their culpability. Indeed, the illegal arrest of an accused is not sufficient cause for setting aside a valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient 47 complaint after a trial free from error. The fatal flaw of an invalid warrantless arrest becomes moot in view of a credible 48 eyewitness account. Kidnapping with Ransom The trial courts findings of facts, its calibration of the collective testimonies of witnesses, its assessment of the probat ive weight of the evidence of the parties, as well as its conclusions anchored on the said findings, are accorded great weight, and even conclusive effect, unless the trial court ignored, misunderstood or misinterpreted cogent facts and circumstances of substance which, if considered, would alter the outcome of the case. This is because of the unique advantage of the trial 49 court to observe, at close range, the conduct, demeanor and the deportment of the witnesses as they testify. We see no reason to overrule the trial courts finding that Trestiza is guilty of kidnapping with ransom.

Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code provides: Art. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any other 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, 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. Before the present case was tried by the trial court, there was a significant amount of time spent in determining whether kidnapping for ransom was the proper crime charged against the accused, especially since Trestiza and Manrique were both police officers. Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code specifically stated that the crime should be committed by a private 50 51 individual. The trial court settled the matter by citing our ruling in People v. Santiano, thus: The fact alone that appellant Pillueta is an organic member of the NARCOM and appellant Sandigan a member of the PNP would not exempt them from the criminal liability of kidnapping. It is quite clear that in abducting and taking away the victim, appellants did so neither in furtherance of official functions nor in the pursuit of authority vested in them. It is not, in fine, in relation to their office, but in purely private capacity that they have acted in concert with their co-appellant Santiano and Chanco. In the same order, the trial court asked for further evidence which support the defenses claim of holding a legitimate polic e operation. However, the trial court found as unreliable the Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet presented by the defense. The sheet was not authenticated, and the signatories were not presented to attest to its existence and authenticity. The second to the last paragraph of Article 267 prescribes the penalty of death when the extortion of ransom was the purpose of the kidnapping. Yu and Navarro were released only after they were able to give various personal effects as well as cash amounting to P300,000, with the promise to give the balance of P1,000,000 at a later date. Trestiza insists that his participation is limited to being a driver of the Mitsubishi Adventure van. Yu testified otherwise. Direct Examination of Lawrence Lim Yu Atty. Oledan: Q: What happened [after you left Wherelse Disco]? Witness: A: As soon as I stepped out of the Wherelse Disco, somebody bumped me at my right side. And then later on, I was "sandwiched" by two (2) persons and when I looked up, I noted the presence of one (1) man immediately in front of me holding a gun.

Q: And these men who "sandwiched" you and the third men [sic] who held the gun in front of you, would you be able to identify them? A: Yes, maam. Q: Are they inside this Courtroom? A: Yes, maam. Q: Will you please identify them? A: The three of them, maam. At this juncture, the witness is to pointing to the three (3) men, who are the accused in this case, inside the Courtroom. COURT: (To the Accused) Again, for the record, please stand up, gentlemen. At this juncture, the three (3) accused stood up. COURT: (To Witness) Are you sure these were the three (3) men whom you are referring to? WITNESS: A: Yes, maam. COURT: Make it of record that the witness pointed to accused PO1 Froilan Trestiza, PSINP Loriemar Manrique and Rodie Pineda. ATTY. OLEDAN: Q: (To Witness) Specifically, who among these three (3) "sandwiched" you? WITNESS: A: It was PO1 Trestiza and Capt. Manrique. xxx Q: What happened after you were brought inside the Mitsubishi vehicle? A: Later on, Officer Trestiza and Capt. Manrique likewise boarded the Mitsubishi Adventure. xxx Q: Who was driving the vehicle? A: It was Froilan Trestiza, maam. xxx Q: After [Reynel Jose] said [that had Yu cooperated earlier, he would not have been hurt] and the plastic removed from your head, what did [sic] the two, Trestiza and Manrique, doing? A: They told me the same thing. They told me that I should not have kept the matter long.

Q: What happened after that? A: After that, Reynel Jose alighted again and we drove towards an area, which I know now to be within San Juan. Right in front of the Tambunting Pawnshop. Q: What happened at the Tambunting Pawnshop? Did the vehicle stop there? A: The two (2) vehicles parked there beside each other. Q: What happened when you were there at Tambunting Pawnshop? A: After parking in front of the Tambunting Pawnshop, they boarded Irma and have her sat [sic] beside me. Then after which, the door at my left side was opened. Q: What else happened? A: They told me not to make any move, that I just keep on sitting there. Afterwards, the men huddled with each other ("nagkumpul-kumpol po sila"). Q: Where did they huddle? A: They huddled in an area close to me, almost in front of me. Q: Who among the accused huddled together? A: The four (4) of them, maam. Q: How long did they huddle? A: For a while only, maam, around (10) ten minutes. Q: After ten (10) minutes, what happened? A: After ten (10) minutes, Buboy approached me. Q: What did he say? A: He told me that they thought my money would be One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00). xxx Q: So, after that huddle, after you were told by Buboy that "okay na yong one million" and that was confirmed by one of the three (3) men who said "isang million na," what happened? A: I was talking to Buboy at that time and I was telling him, "Why do you have to do this to me? You are the kumpare of the elder sister of Irma." Q: What did Buboy say to that? A: Buboy retorted, "Pare, pasensya na, pera pera lang yan." Q: After Buboy said that, what happened? A: I told him that he need not do that, because if he needs money, I can always lend him.

Q: What did Buboy say? A: After saying this to Buboy, he told me to just shut up and then he later on handed over to me a cell phone and told me to contact a person, who can give me money. Q: Who handed you your cell phone? A: It was Froilan Trestiza, maam. xxx Q: After that, were you told to go home already? A: Not yet, maam. Before letting us go, they threatened us. They reminded us that they have our IDs, the pictures of our children and the members of our family. Q: What did you do after that? A: We just kept on saying yes because we wanted to go home already. Q: What time was that? A: It was almost daybreak ("mag-uumaga na"). I have no watch already at that time, maam. Q: So, what did you do after that? A: After that, Froilan Trestiza handed to me my sim card telling me that they will be calling me in my house concerning my 52 alleged balance. We agree with the appellate courts assessment that Trestizas acts were far from just being a mere driver. The series of events that transpired before, during, and after the kidnapping incident more than shows that Trestiza acted in concert with his co-accused in committing the crime. Conspiracy may be implied if it is proved that two or more persons aimed their acts towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their combined acts, though apparently independent of each other, were, in fact, connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal 53 association and a concurrence of sentiment. Trestizas civil liability is joint and several with Manrique and Pineda. They are liable for the P120,000 taken from Navarro 54 and the P180,000 raised by Yu. In line with prevailing jurisprudence, Trestiza is also liable for P75,000 as civil indemnity which is awarded if the crime warrants the imposition of death penalty; P75,000 as moral damages because the victim is assumed to have suffered moral injuries, without need of proof; and P30,000 as exemplary damages. WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. H.C. No. 03119 promulgated on 30 June 2009, as well as the Resolution promulgated on 11 June 2010, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Froilan L. Trestiza is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Kidnapping in Criminal Case No. 02-3393 and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, as well as the accessory penalties provided by law. In addition to the restitution of P300,000 for the ransom, Trestiza is ordered to pay Lawrence Yu and Irma Navarro P75,000 as civil indemnity, P75,000 as moral damages, and P30,000 as exemplary damages. Costs against Froilan L. Trestiza. SO ORDERED. http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri2011/nov2011/gr_193833_2011.html ____________________________________________

[G.R. No. 148228. December 4, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. PAMPING PAINGIN, GITONG MALDUMAN, and THREE (3) JOHN DOES, accused. PAMPING PAINGIN, appellant. DECISION CARPIO, J.:

The Case This is an appeal from the Decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro (trial court) in Criminal Case No. C-4970, finding appellant Pamping Paingin (appellant) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnapping and sentencing him to reclusionperpetua.
[1]

The Charge On 23 May 1996, an Information for kidnapping was filed with the trial appellant, Gitong Malduman and three John Does. The accusatory portion of the Information reads:
rd [2]

court

against

That on or about the 3 of May, 1995 at around 1:00 oclock in the afternoon, in Barangay Paitan, Municipality of Naujan, Province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being then private individuals, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap one PATI PANINDIGAN, 18 years old depriving the latter of his liberty and inflicting upon him physical injuries, and up to the present, said PATI PANINDIGAN has not returned. CONTRARY TO LAW. Assisted by counsel de officio, appellant on 27 January 1997 pleaded not guilty to the charge. Gitong Malduman and the three John Does remained at large. After trial, Judge Tomas C. Leynes rendered a decision on 17 April 2001 finding appellant guilty as charged. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds herein accused Pamping Paingin y Alisia guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime of Kidnapping punishable under Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code. There being no mitigating and aggravating circumstances present in the instant case, said accused is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the costs. The accused is hereby ordered to pay the mother of the victim Pati Panindigan, the amount of P100,000.00 by way of moral damages caused by anxiety of being emotionally drained coupled by the fact that up to this date, they cannot determine the whereabouts of her son,Pati Panindigan. The said accused shall be credited with the full time during which he had undergone preventive imprisonment provided that said accused agreed voluntarily in writing to abide with the disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, otherwise, he shall be credited in the service of his sentence with four-fifths (4/5) of the time during which he had undergone preventive imprisonment. Considering that accused Gitong Malduman is still at large, the case against said accused still stands. Let alias warrant of arrest be issued against said accused GitongMalduman. SO ORDERED.
[3]

Insisting on his innocence, appellant filed this appeal.

The Facts

Version of the Prosecution The prosecution presented namely: Elena Panindigan, Talya Bunilya, Macoy Panindigan and Narding Aguniag. four witnesses,

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) culled the prosecutions version of the incident from the testimonies of its witnesses, as follows: Around 1:00 oclock in the afternoon of May 3, 1995, Elena Panindigan (testified that she) saw appellant while she was in front of their house at Sitio Loog,Barangay Paitan, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, taking care of her three (3) children, namely: Marcelina, Umlak and Dino. (p. 7, TSN, August 25, 1997) Momentarily, Pati Panindigan, Elenas eighteen-year old son, arrived and requested that the sweet potatoes he brought be roasted. (p. 8, ibid.) While Elena was roasting the sweet potatoes, she heard the shout of Pati which prompted her to rush out of their house. She saw appellant, with Gitong Maldumanand three (3) other persons who she did not know, standing behind Pati at a distance of about ten (10) meters from where she stood. (p. 13, ibid) Suddenly, appellant hit Pati on his [4] neck with a piece of wood measuring around one-half (1/2) inch long and three (3) inches in diameter while Gitong Malduman stood in front of Pati. This caused Pati to fall to the ground. (pp. 8-9, ibid.) Thereafter, appellant, with the help of Gitong, carried Pati on his shoulder and together with their companions, proceeded towards the direction of Sitio Balyasothrough the cogonal area. (p. 11, ibid.) Elena got scared and could not do anything but cry. After the group left, Elena reported the incident to their Chieftain, Talya Bunilya. To date, Pati has not been found. (pp. 13-14, ibid.) Narding Aguniag testified that on May 3, 1995, he saw appellant dragging Pati with both his hands at Sitio Loog, Paitan. (p. 8, TSN, May 4, 2000) Narding was merely twenty five (25) meters away when he saw appellant with Gitong Malduman and their three (3) companions. (p. 9, ibid.)

Version of the Defense For its part, the defense presented three witnesses, namely: appellant himself, Aquilino Maldoman and Pinoy Uskado. The Public Attorneys Office summarized the defenses version of the incident as follows: When he took the witness stand, accused PAMPING PAINGIN, 53 years old, married, farmer, and a resident of Sitio Baracan, Brgy. Tagumpay, Baco, OrientalMindoro, denied having committed the offense imputed to him and invoked the defense of alibi. He testified among others, that: he has been residing in SitioBaracan, Brgy. Tagumpay, Baco, Oriental Mindoro since childhood and he has not gone to Paitan, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. He does not know the victim and he only came to know the victims mother during the hearing of this case. He does not also know his coaccused Gitong Malduman. According to him, on 03 May 1995, he and 15 other Mangyans harvested palay on 3 rice paddies at Sitio Baracan, Brgy. Tagumpay, Baco, Oriental Mindoro from7:00 oclock in the morning up to 1:30 in the afternoon. At about 3:30 in the afternoon, they left the land and proceeded to their homes. He arrived at his residence at about 4:00 oclock in the afternoon. The following day or on 04 May 1995, they brought their palay to the Progressive Rice Mill in Calapan City. On 27 May 1995, he was apprehended by a certain Biste, Romer Carubay and their companions

in Sitio Baracan. The group tied him up thereafter. When he asked Biste why they did so, the latter told him that Elena Panindigan filed a case against him regarding the loss of the victim. He was tied to a bangkal tree near Bistes residence for about 30 days. His hands were tied with a plastic rope while his chest was tied with the rope used in tying a carabao. After said period, policemen arrived and ordered Biste to untie and release him. He then went to Mamburao because Biste and Maerlan filed a case against him in the municipal court. When the case did not prosper, he proceeded to the house of his granddaughter. He returned to Sitio Baracan in the month of August 1995. (TSN, pp. 2-14, 3 February 1995; pp. 2-11, 31 February 1999) AQUILINO MALDOMAN corroborated Paingins testimony to the effect that the accused and several other persons harvested palay in Bacungan, Baco, Oriental Mindoro from 7:00 oclock in the morning up to 1:00 oclock in the afternoon of 3 May 1995. The following day, he and the accused planted bananas on the land owned by Tinay Maliglig, the accuseds landlord. From 03 May 1995 up to the time that accused was arrested and detained at the Provincial Jail Center, he never left Sitio Baracan, Baco, Oriental Mindoro. (TSN, pp. 2-24, 3 November 1999) Accuseds testimony was further corroborated by PINOY USKADO, Barangay Captain of Dulangan III, Baco, Oriental Mindoro who declared that on 03 May 1995, the accused and 30 other members of the farmers cooperative harvested palay on a total of 22 hectares of land. He averred that in the month of May 1995, they harvested from morning until afternoon for a period of two (2) weeks. Being the president of the farmers cooperative, he mon itored the attendance of the members at noontime and in the afternoon; he knew the victim and came to learn from the latters children that the victim was allegedly abducted by soldiers in SitioBaracan sometime in December 1995. Said victim was allegedly brought to Naujan, Oriental Mindoro but he did not report the incident to the authorities. He further testified that it will take 3 days on foot to negotiate the distance from Sitio Baracan, Baco, Oriental Mindoro to Sitio Loog in Paitan, Naujan, OrientalMindoro. (TSN, pp. 2-23, 24 November 1998)

The Trial Courts Ruling The prosecution and the defense presented conflicting versions of what happened on 3 May 1995 in Sitio Loog, Barangay Paitan, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro (Loog, Paitan). Accordingly, the trial court declared that the resolution of the case hinges on the credibility, probability and truthfulness of the testimonies of the prosecution and the defense witnesses. The trial court found the testimonies of prosecution witnesses Elena Panindigan (Elena) and Narding Aguniag (Narding) clear, convincing and credible. The trial court stressed that these witnesses testified with the deepest sincerity and candor to the court. On the other hand, the trial court found the testimonies of appellant an d the other defense witnesses unbelievable and unworthy of credence. Compared to Elena andNardings testimonies, the trial court observed that appellant and his witnesses were simply not telling the truth. The trial court further held that appellants alibi is weak and cannot stand against Elena and Nardings positive identification of the appellant. The trial court pointed out that the testimonies of appellant and his corroborating witness Aquilino Maldoman (Aquilino) suffered from serious and glaring inconsistencies. For one, appellant testified that after harvesting rice stalks or palay, appellant and his companions includingAquilino left the field at 3:30 in the afternoon and proceeded to their respective houses. Appellant arrived at his house at around 4:00 in the afternoon. However, Aquilino testified that after harvesting palay, they proceeded to Aquilinos house and engaged in story telling up to 7:00 in the evening. Next, appellant testified that the following day, on 4 May 1995, he brought his harvest to Progressive Rice Mill in Calapan City. On the other hand, Aquilino testified that the following day, he and appellant planted bananas on the land owned by appellants landlord TinayMaliglig. Moreover, the trial court ruled that appellant failed to demonstrate that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime or in its immediate vicinity at the time of its commission. The trial court considered that Loog, Paitan where the crime allegedly happened can be reached by foot from Baracan, Tagumpay (where appellant claimed to be) within 2 hours only.

The Issue In his brief, appellant assigns as lone error that -

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING APPELLANT OF THE CRIME CHARGED WHEN HIS GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN [5] BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. Appellant contends that (1) the prosecution failed to prove the elements constituting the crime of kidnapping or serious illegal detention; (2) the trial court should have given credence to his alibi as two of his witnesses corroborated his alibi; and (3) it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime. For the State, the OSG maintains that the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt appellants guilt for kidnapping and that the trial court correctly imposed on appellant the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

The Courts Ruling The appeal is without merit. To sustain a conviction for Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, the prosecution must establish these elements: (1) the offender is a private individual; (2) he kidnaps or detains another or in any other manner deprives the victim of his liberty; (3) the act of kidnapping or detention is illegal; and (4) in the commission of the offense any of the following circumstances is present: (a) the kidnapping or detention lasts for more than three days; (b) it is committed by simulating public authority; (c) serious physical injuries are inflicted on the victim or [7] threats to kill are made; or (d) the person kidnapped or detained is a minor, female or a public officer.
[6]

Actual Restraint of the Victim Appellant argues that the prosecution failed to establish the element of actual restraint or detention of the victim. Appellant points out that although the victims mother allegedly saw appellant hit and then carry the victim away, it is not clear whether appellant intended to kidnap the victim. This uncertainty is compounded by the prosecutions failure to present any motive on the part of appellant. The disappearance as well as the failure of the victim to return to his family is subject to many speculations and conjectures. The victim may have opted not to return to his family for reasons only known to him. Appellant contends he may be guilty of a lesser crime but certainly not as charged in the information. These arguments fail to persuade. The primary element of the crime of kidnapping is actual confinement, detention and restraint of the victim. There must be a showing of actual confinement or restriction of the victim, and that such deprivation was the intention of the malefactor. An accused is liable for kidnapping when the evidence adequately proves that he forcefully transported, locked [9] up or restrained the victim. There must exist indubitable proof that the actual intent of the malefactor was to deprive the victim of his liberty. The restraint of liberty must not arise merely as an incident to the commission of another offense that [10] the offender primarily intended to commit. The prosecutions evidence clearly established that the accused actually restrained and forcefully transported the victim to an unknown place. Elena Panindigan testified that she saw appellant hit the victim Pati Panindigan (Pati) on the neck with a piece of wood which caused him to fall. Thereafter, appellant with his co-accused Gitong Maldumans help carried Pati on his shoulder. Elena saw appellants group proceed towards the direction of Sitio Balyaso passing through the cogonal area. Equally important is Nardings testimony corroborating Elenas. Narding testified that he actually saw appellant together with his companions dragging Pati away. In this case, actual restraint of the victims liberty was evident from the moment appellant clubbed the victim on the neck. Appellant not only restricted Patis freedom of movement, but appellants blow also disabled the victim from resisting appellants criminal design. This facilitatedaccuseds capacity to carry physically Pati to an unknown place. Obviously, this constitutes forcible taking. The circumstances surrounding Patisdisappearance are indubitable proof of a purposeful or knowing action by appellant to forcibly take the victim. The actual taking indicated an intention to [11] deprive the victim of his liberty. In this case, appellant and his companions actually took Pati away. For kidnapping to exist, it is not necessary to place the victim in an enclosed place. It is sufficient to detain or deprive him in any manner of [12] his liberty. Patis failure to resurface after the forcible taking does not bar conviction for the crime of kidnapping. In People v. [13] Bernal, where the victim also disappeared after the forcible taking, the Court held:
[8]

The Court notes that up to this day, neither the victim nor his body has been found. This, however, does not preclude the Court from ruling on the merits of the case. In kidnapping, what is important is to determine and prove the fact of seizure, and the subsequent disappearance of the victim will not exonerate an accused from prosecution therefor. Otherwise, kidnappers can easily avoid punishment by the simple expedient of disposing of their victims bodies. (Emphasis supplied) At the time the trial court decided this case, the victim was still missing. Indeed, his kidnapping had far exceeded three days. Considering the circumstances, it is safe to assume that Pati Panindigan is already dead since he has [14] disappeared for more than eight years. Appellants motive is not even relevant. Motive is not an element of the crime of [15] kidnapping. In sum, we find that the prosecution has proven all the elements of kidnapping: (1) appellant is a private individual; (2) he kidnapped Pati; (3) the act of kidnapping was illegal; and (4) the kidnapping had exceeded three days.

Denial and Alibi of Appellant We do not find appellants alibi sufficiently believable although corroborated by Aquilino and Pinoy Uskado (Pinoy). Appellants alibi that he was with 15 other Mangyans harvesting palay from 7:00 in the morning up to 1:30 in the afternoon in Sitio Baracan, Barangay Tagumpay,Baco, Oriental Mindoro (Baracan, Tagumpay) at the time of the alleged kidnapping is not only inherently weak but also evidently unreliable. Appellants claim that he has never been to Loog, Paitan where the kidnapping took place does not inspire belief. Pinoy declared that he was sure of appellants presence in Baracan, Tagumpay on the day of the kidnapping because as President of the Farmers Cooperative he monitored the attendance of the member farmers at noon and later in the afternoon. To show physical impossibility of being at the scene of the crime, Pinoy further testified that it ordinarily takes three days to travel by foot the distance between the two towns,Loog, Paitan and Baracan, Tagumpay. The defense asserted that appellant could not have made it back to the field in time for the checking of attendance in the afternoon. The trial court correctly rejected appellants alibi. First, the inconsistencies between the testimonies of appellant and Aquilino, extensively discussed in the trial courts decision, cast doubt on the veracity of the alibi. Second, appellant unwittingly admitted during cross-examination that Loog, Paitan may be reached by public transportation from Baracan, Tagumpay and that he prefers to ride rather than walk. Appellant testified: Q: How far is sitio Baracan from barangay Paitan? A: If you are going to ride a passenger jeep you will be charged P35.00 as transportation fee, sir. Q: But you can go to barangay Paitan by not passing Calapan? A: We cannot avoid to pass Calapan, sir. Q: Is it not a fact that Mangyans like to negotiate from Baracan to Paitan routes by the mountain? A: I am not used to walking, I ride passenger vehicles, sir.
[16]

This portion of appellants testimony demolishes his earlier claim that he is not familiar with and has never gone to Loog, Paitan. This also demolishes Pinoys testimony that the distance between Loog, Paitan and Baracan, Tagumpay may be negotiated only by foot. Since appellant is knowledgeable about the exact transportation fare for a jeepney ride between these two (2) towns, his claim that he has never gone beyondBaracan, Tagumpay and that he is not familiar with Loog, Paitan, truly taxes ones credulity. Third, in the face of the clear and positive identification made by Elena and Narding, appellants alibi hardly assumes probative value. Appellants alibi goes even farther down the drain in the absence of any evidence of ill motive on the part of Elena and Narding to [17] impute so grave a wrong to appellant. A conviction must stand on the strength of the evidence presented by the prosecution, and not on the weakness of the defense presented by the accused. Here, we find that the prosecution evidence sufficiently proves the appellants guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Appellant does not even attempt to assail the credibility of the prosecution witnesses. Rightfully so, as this would be an exercise in futility. We find no reason to deviate from the trial courts assessment of the credibility of the prosecution witnesses.

The trial court correctly imposed on appellant the penalty of reclusion perpetua in accordance with Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code. We likewise affirm the award of P100,000 as moral damages. Undoubtedly, the victims family has [18] suffered serious anxiety and great distress in the uncertainty of seeing Pati again. WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision dated 17 April 2001 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 40, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, in Criminal Case No. C-4790, finding appellant Pamping Paingin guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping and Serious Illegal Detention, sentencing him to reclusion perpetua, and ordering him to pay the victims mother P100,000 in moral damages, is AFFIRMED intoto. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Panganiban, Ynares-Santiago, and Azcuna, JJ., concur. _________________________________________ G.R. No. 100901 July 16, 1998 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JAILON KULAIS, CARLOS FALCASANTOS @ "Commander Falcasantos," AWALON KAMLON HASSAN @ "Commander Kamlon," MAJID SAMSON @ "Commander Bungi," JUMATIYA AMLANI DE FALCASANTOS, NORMA SAHIDDAN DE KULAIS, SALVADOR MAMARIL y MENDOZA, HADJIRUL PLASIN y ALIH, JAINUDDIN HASSAN y AHMAD, IMAM TARUK ALAH y SALIH, JALINA HASSAN DE KAMMING, FREDDIE MANUEL @ "Ajid" and several JOHN and JANE DOES, accused, JAILON KULAIS, appellant.

PANGANIBAN, J.: The trial court's erroneous taking of judicial notice of a witness' testimony in another case, also pending before it, does not affect the conviction of the appellant, whose guilt is proven beyond reasonable doubt by other clear, convincing and overwhelming evidence, both testimonial and documentary. The Court takes this occasion also to remind the bench and the bar that reclusion perpetua is not synonymous with life imprisonment. The Case On August 22, 1990, five Informations for kidnapping for ransom (Crim. Case Nos. 10060, 10061, 10062, 10063 and 10064) and three Informations for kidnapping (Crim Case Nos. 10065, 10066 and 10067), all dated August 14, 1990, were 1 filed before the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga City against Carlos Falcasantos, Jailon Kulais, Jumatiya Amlani, Norma 2 3 Sahiddan de Kulais, Jalina Hassan de Kamming, Salvador Mamaril, Hadjirul Plasin, Jaimuddin Hassan, Imam Taruk Alah, Freddie Manuel alias "Ajid," and several John and Jane Does. The Informations for kidnapping for ransom, which set forth identical allegations save for the names of the victims, read as follows: That on or about the 12th day of December, 1988, in the City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being all private individuals, conspiring and confederating together, mutually aiding and assisting one another, with threats to kill the person of 4 FELIX ROSARIO [in Criminal Case No. 10060] and for the purpose of extorting ransom from the said Felix Rosario or his families or employer, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, KIDNAP the 5 person of said Felix Rosario, a male public officer of the City Government of Zamboanga, who was then aboard a Cimarron vehicle with plate No. SBZ-976 which was being ambushed by the herein accused at 6 the highway of Sitio Tigbao Lisomo, Zamboanga City, and brought said Felix Rosario to different mountainous places of Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Sur, where he was detained, held hostage and deprived of his liberty until February 2, 1989, the day when he was released only after payment of the ransom was made to herein accused, to the damage and prejudice of said victim; there being present an aggravating circumstance in that the aforecited offense was committed with the aid of armed men or persons who insure or afford impunity.

The three Informations for kidnapping, also under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, likewise alleged identical facts and circumstances, except the names of the victims: That on or about the 12th day of December, 1988, in the City of Zamboanga and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, being all private individuals, conspiring and confederating together, mutually aiding and assisting one another, by means of threats and intimidation of person, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously KIDNAP, take and drag away and detain 7 the person of MONICO SAAVEDRA Y LIMEN [Criminal Case No. 10065] a male public officer of the City Government of Zamboanga, against his will, there being present an aggravating circumstance in that the aforecited offense was committed with the aid of armed men or persons who insure or afford impunity. Of the twelve accused, only nine were apprehended, namely, Jailon Julais, Jumatiya Amlani, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais, 8 Salvador Mamaril Hadjirul Plasin, Jainuddin Hassan, Imam Taruk Alah, Jalina Hassan and Freddie Manuel. On their arraignment on September 13, 1990, all the accused pleaded not guilty. Joint trial on the merits ensued. On April 8, 1991, Judge Pelagio S. Mandi rendered the assailed 36-page Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, above premises and discussion taken into consideration, this Court renders its judgment, ordering and finding: 1. FREDDIE MANUEL, alias "AJID" and IMAM TARUK ALAH y SALIH [n]ot [g]uilty of the eight charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom and for [k]idnapping, their guilt not having been proved beyond reasonable doubt. Their immediate release from the City Jail, Zamboanga City is ordered, unless detained for some other offense besides these 8 cases (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10067). 2. JAINUDDIN HASSAN y AHMAD, JAILON KULAIS, SALVADOR MAMARIL y MENDOZA and HADJIRUL PLASIN y ALIH [g]uilty as principals by conspiracy in all these 8 cases for [k]idnapping for [r]ansom and for [k]idnapping (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10067). Their guilt is aggravated in that they committed the 8 offenses with the aid of armed men who insured impunity. Therefore, the penalties imposed on them shall be at their maximum period. WHEREFORE, for the five charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom, and pursuant to Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code, five life imprisonments are imposed on Jainuddin Hassan y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and Kadjirul Plasin y Alih (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10064). For kidnapping Mrs. Virginia San Agustin-Gara, a female and public officer and pursuant to Art. 267, Revised Penal Code (par. 4.), another life imprisonment is imposed on Jainuddin Hassan y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and Hadjirul Plasin y Alih (Crim. Case No. 10066) For kidnapping Monico Saavedra y Limen, and Calixto Francisco y Gaspar, and their kidnapping not having lasted more than five days, pursuant to Art. 268, Revised Penal Code, and the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the same four accused Jainuddin Hassan y Ahmad, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril y Mendoza and Hadjirul Plasin y Alih are sentenced to serve two (2) jail terms ranging from ten (10) years of prision mayor as minimum, to eighteen (18) years of reclusion temporal as maximum (Crim. Cases Nos. 10065 and 10067). 3. JAMATIYA AMLANI DE FALCASANTOS [n]ot [g]uilty in the three charges of [k]idnapping and she is acquitted of these charges. (Crim. Cases Nos. 10065, 10066 and 10067). But Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos is [g]uilty as accomplice in the five charges of [k]idnapping for [r]ansom.

WHEREFORE, Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos is sentenced to serve five (5) imprisonments, ranging from TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as minimum to EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS of reclusion temporalas maximum (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-1 0064). 4. NORMA SAHIDDAN DE KULAIS, 18 years old, and JALIHA HUSSIN (charged as Jalina Hassan de Kamming), 15 years old, [n]ot [g]uilty in the three charges for [k]idnapping and are, therefore, ACQUITTED of these three charges. (Crim. Cases Nos. 10065, 10066 & 10067). But Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jalina Hussin are found [g]uilty as accomplices in the five charges for [k]idnapping for [r]ansom. Being miners, they are entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority which lowers the penalty imposable on them by one degree. WHEREFORE, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jalina Hussin are sentenced to serve five imprisonments ranging from SIX (6) YEARS of prision correccional as minimum to TEN YEARS AND ONE (1) DAY OF prision mayor as maximum (Crim. Cases Nos. 10060-10064). Due to the removal of the suspension of sentences of youthful offenders "convicted of an offense punishable by death or life" by Presidential Decree No. 1179 and Presidential Decree No. 1210 (of which [k]idnapping for [r]ansom is such an offense) the sentences on Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jaliha Hussin de Kamming are NOT suspended but must be served by them. Januddin Hassan, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril and Hadjirul Plasin are sentenced further to return the following personal effects taken on December 12, 1988, the day of the kidnapping, or their value in money, their liability being solidary. To Jessica Calunod: One (1) Seiko wrist watchP One Bracelet One Shoulder Bag Cash To Armado C. Bacarro: One (1) wrist watch One Necklace One Calculator Eyeglasses One Steel Tape To Edilberto S. Perez: One (1) Rayban One Wrist WatchP Cash To Virginia San Agustin-Gara: One (1)Wrist Watch P 850.00 P 1,000.00 P 1,800.00 P 300.00 P 800.00 P 300.00 P 295.00 P 500.00 P 250.00 P 250.00 P 2,400.00 P 200.00 P 200.00

The benefit of Art. 29, Revised Penal Code, on preventive suspension, shall be extended to those sentenced. The cases against Majid Samson, alias "Commander Bungi" Awalon Kamlon a.k.a. "Commander Kamlon" Carlos Falcasantos and several "John Does" and Jane "Does" are ARCHIVED until their arrest. Costs against the accused convicted. SO ORDERED.
9

On May 7, 1991, Jailon Kulais, Jumatiya Amlani de Falcasantos, Norma Sahiddan de Kulais and Jaliha Hussin filed their joint 10 Notice of Appeal. In a letter dated February 6, 1997, the same appellants, except Jailon Kulais, withdrew their appeal because of their application for "amnesty." In our March 19, 1997 Resolution, we granted their motion. Hence, only the 11 appeal of Kulais remains for the consideration of this Court. The Facts The Version of the Prosecution The solicitor general summarized, in this wise, the facts as viewed by the People: On December 12, 1988, a group of public officials from various government agencies, organized themselves as a monitoring team to inspect government projects in Zamboanga City. The group was composed of Virginia Gara, as the head of the team; Armando Bacarro, representing the Commission on Audit; Felix del Rosario, representing the non-government: Edilberto Perez, representing the City Assessor's Office; Jessica Calunod and Allan Basa of the City Budget Office and Monico Saavedra, the driver from the City Engineer's Office. (p. 3, TSN, October 22, 1990.) On that particular day, the group headed to the Lincomo Elementary School to check on two of its classrooms. After inspecting the same, they proceeded to the Talaga Footbridge. The group was not able to reach the place because on their way, they were stopped by nine (9) armed men who pointed their guns at them (p. 4, TSN, ibid.). The group alighted from their Cimarron jeep where they were divested of their personal belongings. They were then ordered to walk to the mountain by the leader of the armed men who introduced himself as Commander Falcasantos (p. 5, TSN, ibid.). While the group was walking in the mountain, they encountered government troops which caused their group to be divided. Finally, they were able to regroup themselves. Commander Kamlon with his men joined the others. (pp. 7-8, TSN, ibid.). The kidnappers held their captives for fifty-four (54) days in the forest. During their captivity, the victims were able to recognize their captors who were at all times armed with guns. The wives of the kidnappers performed the basic chores like cooking. (pp. 9-10. TSN, ibid.) Commander Falcasantos also ordered their victims to sign the ransom notes which demanded a ransom of P100,000.00 and P14,000.00 in exchange for twenty (20) sets of uniform. (p. 15, TSN, ibid.) On February 3, 1989, at around 12:00 o'clock noontime, the victims were informed that they would be released. They started walking until around 7:00 o'clock in the evening of that day. At around 12:00 o'clock midnight, the victims were released after Commander Falcasantos and Kamlon received the ransom money. (p. 19, TSN, ibid.) The total amount paid was P122,000.00. The same was reached after several negotiations between Mayor Vitaliano Agan of Zamboanga City and the representatives of the kidnappers. (pp. 2, 6, TSN, Nov. 11, 1990)

...

12

The prosecution presented fifteen witnesses, including some of the kidnap victims themselves: Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro, Edilberto Perez, Virginia San Agustin-Gara, Calixto Francisco, and Monico Saavedra. The Version of the Defense The facts of the case, according to the defense, are as follows:
13

On May 28, 1990, at about 10:00 o'clock in the morning, while weeding their farm in Sinaburan, Zamboanga del Sur, accused-appellant Jumatiya Amlani was picked up by soldiers and brought to a place where one army battalion was stationed. Thereat, her five (5) co-accused, namely Salvador Mamaril, Hadjirul Plasin, Jainuddin Hassin, Imam Taruk Alah and Freddie Manuel were already detained. In the afternoon of the same day, appellants spouses Jailon Kulais and Norma Sahiddan were brought to the battalion station and likewise detained thereat. On May 30, 1990, the eight (8) accused were transported to Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City. Here on the same date, they were joined by accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin. At the time Amlani was picked up by the military, she had just escaped from the captivity of Carlos Falcasantos and company who in 1988 kidnapped and brought her to the mountains. Against their will, she stayed with Falcasantos and his two wives for two months, during which she slept with Falcasantos as aide of the wives and was made to cook food, wash clothes, fetch water and run other errands for everybody. An armed guard was assigned to watch her, so that, for sometime, she had to bear the illtreatment of Falcasantos' other wives one of whom was armed. After about two months, while she was cooking and Falcasantos and his two wives were bathing in the river, and while her guard was not looking, she took her chance and made a successful dash for freedom. (TSN, January 29, 1992, pp. 2-15) Likewise a kidnap victim herself is accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin, who was thirteen years old at the time (she was fifteen years old when the trial of the instant cases commenced). She was kidnapped by Daing Kamming and brought to the mountains where he slept with her. She stayed with him for less than a month sleeping on forest ground and otherwise performing housekeeping errands for Kamming and his men. She made good her escape during an encounter between the group of Kamming and military troops. She hid in the bushes and came out at Ligui-an where she took a "bachelor" bus in going back to her mother's house at Pudos, Guiligan, Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur. One day, at around 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, while she was harvesting palay at the neighboring village of Tigbalangao, military men picked her up to Ticbanuang where there was an army battalion detachment. From Ticbawuang, she was brought to Vitali, then to Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City, where on her arrival, she met all the other accused for the first time except Freddie Manuel. (Ibid., pp. 16-21) Another female accused is appellant Norma Sahiddan, a native of Sinaburan, Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur. At about 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon of a day in May, while she and her husband were in their farm, soldiers arrested them. The soldiers did not tell them why they were being arrested, neither were they shown any papers. The two of them were just made to board a six by six truck. There were no other civilians in the truck. The truck brought the spouses to the army battalion and placed them inside the building where there were civilians and soldiers. Among the civilians present were her six co-accused Hadjirul Plasin, Salvador Mamaril, Jaimuddin Hassan, Ima[m] Taruk Alah, Freddie Manuel and Jumatiya Amlani. That night, the eight of them were brought to Tictapul, Zamboanga City; then to Vitali; and, finally, to the Metrodiscom, Zamboanga City where they stayed for six days and six nights. On the seventh day, the accused were brought to the City Jail, Zamboanga City. (TSN, January 30, 1991, pp. 6-11) The husband of Norma Sahiddan is Jailon Kulais who, as heretofore narrated, was arrested with his wife the day the soldiers came to their farm on May 28, 1990. He has shared with his wife the ordeals that followed in the wake of their arrest and in the duration of their confinement up to the present. (TSN, January 22, 1991 pp. 2-4). The Trial Court's Ruling

The trial court found Appellant Kulais guilty of five counts of kidnapping for ransom and one count of kidnapping a woman and public officer, for which offenses it imposed upon him six terms of "life imprisonment." It also found him guilty of two counts of slight illegal detention for the kidnapping of Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco. The trial court ratiocinated as follows: Principally, the issue here is one of credibility both of the witnesses and their version of what had happened on December 12, 1988, to February 3, 1989. On this pivotal issue, the Court gives credence to [p]rosecution witnesses and their testimonies. Prosecution evidence is positive, clear and convincing. No taint of evil or dishonest motive was imputed or imputable to [p]rosecution witnesses. To this Court, who saw all the witnesses testify, [p]rosecution witnesses testified only because they were impelled by [a] sense of justice, of duty and of truth. Contrarily, [d]efense evidence is weak, uncorroborated and consisted only of alibis. The individual testimonies of the nine accused dwel[t] principally on what happened to each of them on May 27, 28 and 29, 1990. None of the accused explained where he or she was on and from December 12, 1988, to February 3, 1989, when [p]rosecution evidence show[ed] positively seven of the nine accused were keeping the five or six hostages named by [p]rosecution evidence. The seven accused positively identified to have been present during the course of the captivity of the five kidnap-victims-complainants are: (1) Jumatiya Amlani; (2) Jaliha Hussin; (3) Norma Sahiddan; (4) Jailon Kulais; (5) Hadjirul Plasin; (6) Salvador Mamaril and (7) Jainuddin Hassan. The two accused not positively identified are: Freddie Manuel alias "Ajid", and Imam Taruk Alah. These two must, therefore, be declared acquitted based on reasonable doubt. The next important issue to be examined is: Are these seven accused guilty as conspirators as charged in the eight Informations; or only as accomplices? Prosecution evidence shows that the kidnapping group to which the seven accused belonged had formed themselves into an armed band for the purpose of kidnapping for ransom. This armed band had cut themselves off from established communities, lived in the mountains and forests, moved from place to place in order to hide their hostages. The wives of these armed band moved along with their husbands, attending to their needs, giving them material and moral support. These wives also attended to the needs of the kidnap victims, sleeping with them or comforting them. xxx xxx xxx II The guilt of Jainuddin Hassan, Jailon Kulais, Salvador Mamaril and Hadjirul Plasin . The Court holds these four men guilty as conspirators in the 8 cases of kidnapping. Unlike the three women-accused, these male accused were armed. They actively participated in keeping their hostages by fighting off the military and CAFGUS, in transferring their hostages from place to place, and in guarding the kidnap hostages. Salvador Mamaril and Jailon Kulais were positively identified as among the nine armed men who had kidnapped the eight kidnap victims on December 12, 1988. The higher degree of participation found by the Court of the four accused is supported by the rulings of our Supreme Court quoted below. (1) The time-honored jurisprudence is that direct proof is not essential to prove conspiracy. It may be shown by a number of infinite acts, conditions and circumstances which may vary according to the purposes to be accomplished and from which may logically be inferred that there was a common design, understanding or agreement among the conspirators to commit the offense charged. (People vs. Cabrera, 43 Phil 64; People vs. Carbonel, 48 Phil. 868.) (2) The crime must, therefore, in view of the solidarity of the act and intent which existed between the sixteen accused, be regarded as the act of the band or party created by them, and they are all equally responsible for the murder in question. (U.S. vs. Bundal, et. al. 3 Phil 89, 98.)

(3) When two or more persons unite to accomplish a criminal object, whether through the physical volition of one, or all, proceeding severally or collectively, each individual whose evil will actively contribute to the wrongdoing is in law responsible for the whole, the same as though performed by 14 himself alone. (People vs. Peralta, et. al. 25 SCRA 759, 772 (1968).) The Assigned Errors The trial court is faulted with the following errors, viz: I The trial court erred in taking judicial notice of a material testimony given in another case by Lt. Melquiades Feliciano, who allegedly was the team leader of the government troops which allegedly captured the accused-appellants in an encounter; thereby, depriving the accused-appellants their right to cross-examine him. II On the assumption that Lt. Feliciano's testimony could be validly taken judicial notice of, the trial court, nevertheless, erred in not disregarding the same for being highly improbable and contradictory. III The trial court erred in finding that accused-appellants Jumatiya Amlani, Jaliha Hussin and Norma Sahiddan provided Carlos Falcasantos, et. al., with material and moral comfort, hence, are guilty as accomplices in all the kidnapping for ransom cases. IV The trial court erred in denying to accused-appellant Jaliha Hussin and Norma Sahiddan the benefits of suspension of sentence given to youth offenders considering that they were minors at the time of the 15 commission of the offense. As earlier noted, Jumatiya Amlani, Jaliha Hussin and Norma Sahiddan had withdrawn their appeal, and as such, the third and fourth assigned errors, which pertain to them only, will no longer be dealt with. Only the following issues pertaining to Appellant Jailon Kulais will be discussed: (1) judicial notice of other pending cases, (2) sufficiency of the prosecution evidence, and (3) denial as a defense. In addition, the Court will pass upon the propriety of the penalty imposed by the trial court. The Court's Ruling The appeal is bereft of merit. First Issue: Judicial Notice and Denial of Due Process Appellant Kulais argues that he was denied due process when the trial court took judicial notice of the testimony given in another case by one Lt. Melquiades Feliciano, who was the team leader of the government troops that captured him and 16 his purported cohorts. Because he was allegedly deprived of his right to cross-examine a material witness in the person of 17 Lieutenant Feliciano, he contends that the latter's testimony should not be used against him. True, as a general rule, courts should not take judicial notice of the evidence presented in other proceedings, even if these have been tried or are pending in the same court, or have been heard and are actually pending before the same 18 judge. This is especially true in criminal cases, where the accused has the constitutional right to confront and crossexamine the witnesses against him.

Having said that, we note, however, that even if the court a quo did take judicial notice of the testimony of Lieutenant Feliciano, it did not use such testimony in deciding the cases against the appellant. Hence, Appellant Kulais was not denied due process. His conviction was based mainly on the positive identification made by some of the kidnap victims, namely, Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro and Edilberto Perez. These witnesses were subjected to meticulous cross-examinations conducted by appellant's counsel. At best, then, the trial court's mention of Lieutenant Feliciano's testimony is a decisional surplusage which neither affected the outcome of the case nor substantially prejudiced Appellant Kulais. Second Issue: Sufficiency of Prosecution Evidence Appellant was positively identified by Calunod, as shown by the latter's testimony: CP CAJAYON D MS: Q And how long were you in the custody of these persons? A We stayed with them for fifty-four days. Q And during those days did you come to know any of the persons who were with the group? A We came to know almost all of them considering we stayed there for fifty-four days. Q And can you please name to us some of them or how you know them? A For example, aside from Commander Falcasantos and Commander Kamlon we came to know first our foster parents, those who were assigned to give us some food. Q You mean to say that the captors assigned you some men who will take care of you? A Yes. Q And to whom were you assigned? A To Ila Abdurasa. Q And other than your foster [parents] or the parents whom you are assigned to, who else did you come to know? A Pagal and his wife; Tangkong and his wife Nana; the two (2) wives of Commander Falcasantos Mating and Janira another brother in-law of Commander Kamlon, Usman, the wife of Kamlon, Tira. xxx xxx xxx Q Now, you said that you were with these men for fifty-four days and you really came to know them. Will you still be able to recognize these persons if you will see the[m] again? A Yes, ma'am. Q Now will you look around this Honorable Court and see if any of those you mentioned are here? A Yes, they are here.

Q Some of them are here? A Some of them are here. xxx xxx xxx Q Where is Tangkong? What is he wearing? A White t-shirt with orange collar. (witness pointing.) He was one of those nine armed men who took us from the highway. RTC INTERPRETER: Witness pointed to a man sitting in court and when asked of his name, he gave his name as JAILON KULAIS. CP CAJAYON D MS: Q Aside from being with the armed men who stopped the vehicle and made you alight, what else was he doing while you were in their captivity? A He was the foster parent of Armando Bacarro and the husband of Nana. COURT: Q Who? A Tangkong. xxx xxx xxx
19

Likewise clear and straightforward was Bacarro's testimony pointing to appellant as one of the culprits: FISCAL CAJAYON: xxx xxx xxx Q And what happened then? A Some of the armed men assigned who will be the host or who will be the one [to] g[i]ve food to us. Q [To] whom were you assigned? A I was assigned to a certain Tangkong and [his] wife Nana . xxx xxx xxx Q Now, you said you were assigned to Tangkong and his wife. [D]o you remember how he looks like? A Yes. Q Now, will you please look around this Court and tell us if that said Tangkong and his wife are here?

A Yes, ma'am. Q Could you please point this Tangkong to us? A Witness pointed to a person in Court. [W]hen asked his name he identified [himself] as Jailon Kulais. Q Why did you say his name is Tangkong? Where did you get that name? A Well, that is the name [by which he is] usually called in the camp. xxx xxx xxx ATTY. FABIAN (counsel for accused Kulais) Q When did you first meet Tangkong? A That was on December 11, because I remember he was the one who took us. Q When you were questioned by the fiscal a while ago, you stated that Mr. Mamaril was one of those who stopped the bus and took you to the hill and you did not mention Tangkong? A I did not mention but I can remember his face. xxx xxx xxx Q And because Tangkong was always with you as your host even if he did not tell you that he [was] one of those who stopped you, you would not recognize him? A No, I can recognize him because he was the one who took my shoes. COURT: Q Who? A Tangkong, your Honor. xxx xxx xxx Also straightforward was Ernesto Perez' candid narration: FISCAL CAJAYON: xxx xxx xxx Q Who else? A The last man. Q Did you come to know his name? A Only his nickname, Tangkong. (Witness pointed to a man in Court who identified himself as Jailon Kulais.)
20

Q And what was Tangkong doing in the mountain? A The same, guarding us. CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ATTY. SAHAK. Q Engr. Perez, you stated that you were ambushed by nine armed men on your way from [the] Licomo to [the] Talaga Foot Bridge. [W]hat do you mean by ambushed? A I mean that they blocked our way and stopped. Q They did not fire any shots? A But they were pointing their guns at us. Q And among the 9 armed men who held you on your way to [the] Talaga Footbridge, you stated [that] one of them [was] Commander Falcasantos? A Yes. Q Could you also recognize anyone of the accused in that group? A Yes. Q Will you please identify? A That one, Tangkong. (The witness pointed to a man sitting in court who identified himself as Jailon Kulais.) xxx xxx xxx CROSS-EXAMINATION BY ATTY. FABIAN. Q You said Jailon Kulais was among those who guarded the camp? FISCAL CAJAYON: Your Honor, please, he does not know the name of Julais, he used the word Tangkong. ATTY. FABIAN Q You said Tangkong guarded you[. W]hat do you mean? A He guarded us like prisoners[. A]fter guarding us they have their time two hours another will be on duty guarding us. Q Where did you meet Tangkong? A He was one of the armed men who kidnapped us. xxx xxx xxx
21

It is evident from the foregoing testimonies of Calunod, Bacarro and Perez that kidnapping or detention did take place: the five victims were held, against their will, for fifty-three days from December 12, 1988 to February 2, 1989. It is also evident that Appellant Kulais was a member of the group of armed men who staged the kidnapping, and that he was one of those

who guarded the victims during the entire period of their captivity. His participation gives credence to the conclusion of the trial court that he was a conspirator. Kidnapping for Ransom That the kidnapping of the five was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom is also apparent from the testimony of Calunod, who was quite emphatic in identifying the accused and narrating the circumstances surrounding the writing of the ransom letters. CP CAJAYON D MS: Q Now, you were in their captivity for 54 days and you said there were these meetings for possible negotiation with the City Government. What do you mean by this? What were you supposed to negotiate? A Because they told us that they will be releasing us only after the terms . Q And what were the terms? Did you come to know the terms? A I came to know the terms because I was the one ordered by Commander Falcasantos to write the letter, the ransom letter. Q At this point of time, you remember how many letters were you asked to write for your ransom? A I could not remember as to how many, but I can identify them. Q Why will you able to identify the same? A Because I was the one who wrote it. Q And you are familiar, of course, with your penmanship? A Yes. Q Now we have here some letters which were turned over to us by the Honorable City Mayor Vitaliano Agan. 1,2,3,4,5 there are five letters all handwritten. COURT: Original? CP CAJAYON D MS: Original, your Honor. Q And we would like you to go over these and say, tell us if any of these were the ones you were asked to write. A (Witness going over [letters]) This one 2 pages. This one 2 pages. No more.
22

Q Aside from the fact that you identified your penmanship in these letters, what else will make you remember that these are really the ones you wrote while there? A The signature is there. Q There is a printed name here[,] Jessica Calunod. A And over it is a signature. Q That is your signature? A Yes, ma'am. Q How about in the other letter, did you sign it also? A Yes, there is the other signature. Q There are names other names here Eddie Perez, Allan Basa, Armando Bacarro, Felix Rosario, Jojie Ortuoste and there are signatures above the same. Did you come up to know who signed this one? A Those whose signatures there were signed by the persons. [sic]. Q And we have here at the bottom, Commander Kamlon Hassan, and there is the signature above the same. Did you come to know who signed it? A [It was] Commander Kamlon Hassan who signed that. xxx xxx xxx Q Jessica, I am going over this letter . . . Could you please read to us the portion here which says the terms? . . . A (Witness reading) "Mao ilang gusto nga andamun na ninyo ang kantidad nga P100,000 23 ug P14,000 baylo sa 20 sets nga uniforms sa Biyernes (Pebrero 3, 1989). xxx xxx xxx INTERPRETER (Translation): This is what they like you to prepare[:] the amount of P100,000.00 and P14,000.00 in exchange [for] 20 sets of uniform on Friday, February 3, 1989. xxx xxx xxx Q Now you also earlier identified this other letter and this is dated January 21, 24 1988. Now, could you please explain to us why it is dated January 21, 1988 and the other one Enero 31, 1989 or January 31, 1989? A I did not realize that I placed 1989, 1988, but it was 1989. Q January 21, 1989? A Yes.

xxx xxx xxx Q Now, in this letter, were the terms also mentioned? Please go over this. A (Going over the letter) Yes, ma'am. Q Could you please read it aloud to us? A (Witness reading) Gusto nila and P100,000.00 ng kapinan nu ug 20 sets nga completong uniformer (7 25 colors marine type wala nay labot ang sapatos), tunga medium ug tunga large size. xxx xxx xxx INTERPRETER: They like the P100,000.00 and an addition of 20 sets of complete uniform (7 colors, marine-type not including the shoes), one half medium, one half large. xxx xxx xxx Q After having written these letters, did you come to know after [they were] signed by your companions and all of you, do you know if these letters were sent? If you know only. A I would like to make it clear. The first letter was ordered to me by Falcasantos to inform the City Mayor that initial as P500,000.00, and when we were already I was asked again to write, we were ordered to affix our signature to serve as proof that all of 26 us are alive. [sic] Calunod's testimony was substantially corroborated by both Armando Bacarro and Edilberto Perez. The receipt of the ransom letters, the efforts made to raise and deliver the ransom, and the release of the hostages upon payment of the 29 30 money were testified to by Zamboanga City Mayor Vitaliano Agan and Teddy Mejia. The elements of kidnapping for ransom, as embodied in Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, having been sufficiently proven, and the appellant, a private individual, having been clearly identified by the kidnap victims, this Court thus affirms the trial court's finding of appellant's guilt on five counts of kidnapping for ransom. Kidnapping of Public Officers Victims Virginia San Agustin-Gara, Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco were members of the government monitoring team abducted by appellant's group. The three testified to the fact of kidnapping; however, they were not able to identify the appellant. Even so, appellant's identity as one of the kidnappers was sufficiently established by Calunod, Bacarro and Perez, who were with Gara, Saavedra and Francisco when the abduction occurred. That Gara, Saavedra and Francisco were detained for only three hours does nor matter. In People vs. Domasian, the victim was similarly held for three hours, and was released even before his parents received the ransom note. The accused therein argued that they could not be held guilty of kidnapping as no enclosure was involved, and that only grave coercion 34 was committed, if at all. Convicting appellants of kidnapping or serious illegal detention under Art. 267 (4) of the Revised
32 33 31 27 28

Penal Code, the Court found that the victim, an eight-year-old boy, was deprived of his liberty when he was restrained from going home. The Court justified the conviction by holding that the offense consisted not only in placing a person in an 35 36 enclosure, but also in detaining or depriving him, in any manner, of his liberty. Likewise, in People vs. Santos, the Court held that since the appellant was charged and convicted under Article 267, paragraph 4, it was not the duration of the deprivation of liberty which was important, but the fact that the victim, a minor, was locked up. Thus, in the present case, the detention of Gara, Saavedra and Francisco for only a few hours is immaterial. The clear fact is 37 that the victims were public officers Gara was a fiscal analyst for the City of Zamboanga, Saavedra worked at the City Engineer's Office, and Francisco was a barangay councilman at the time the kidnapping occurred. Appellant Kulais should be punished, therefore, under Article 267, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, and not Art, 268, as the trial court held. The present case is different from People vs. Astorga, which held that the crime committed was not kidnapping under Article 267, paragraph 4, but only grave coercion. The appellant in that case had tricked his seven-year-old victim into going with him to a place he alone knew. His plans, however, were foiled when a group of people became suspicious and rescued the girl from him. The Court noted that the victim's testimony and the other pieces of evidence did not indicate that the appellant wanted to detain her, or that he actually detained her. In the present case, the evidence presented by the prosecution indubitably established that the victims were detained, albeit for a few hours. There is proof beyond reasonable doubt that kidnapping took place, and that appellant was a member of the armed group which abducted the victims. Third Issue: Denial and Alibi The appellant's bare denial is a weak defense that becomes even weaker in the face of the prosecution witnesses' positive identification of him. Jurisprudence gives greater weight to the positive narration of prosecution witnesses than to the 39 negative testimonies of the defense. Between positive and categorical testimony which has a ring of truth to it on the one 40 hand, and a bare denial on the other, the former generally prevails. Jessica Calunod, Armando Bacarro and Edilberto Perez testified in a clear, straightforward and frank manner; and their testimonies were compatible on material points. Moreover, no ill motive was attributed to the kidnap victims and none was found by this Court. We agree with the trial court's observation that the appellant did not meet the charges against him head on. His testimony dwelt on what happened to him on the day he was arrested and on subsequent days thereafter. Appellant did not explain where he was during the questioned dates (December 12, 1988 to February 3, 1989); neither did he rebut Calunod, Bacarro and Perez, when they identified him as one of their kidnappers. Reclusion Perpetua, Not Life Imprisonment The trial court erred when it sentenced the appellant to six terms of life imprisonment. The penalty for kidnapping with ransom, under the Revised Penal Code, is reclusion perpetua to death. Since the crimes happened in 1988, when the capital penalty was proscribed by the Constitution, the maximum penalty that could have been imposed was reclusion perpetua. Life imprisonment is not synonymous with reclusion perpetua. Unlike life imprisonment,reclusion perpetua carries with it accessory penalties provided in the Revised Penal Code and has a definite extent or duration. Life imprisonment is invariably imposed for serious offenses penalized by special laws, whilereclusion perpetua is prescribed in accordance with 41 the Revised Penal Code. WHEREFORE, the conviction of Appellant Jailon Kulais as principal in five counts of kidnapping for ransom and in three counts of kidnapping is AFFIRMED, but the penalty imposed is hereby MODIFIED as follows: Appellant is sentenced to five terms of reclusion perpetua, one for each of his five convictions for kidnapping for ransom; and to three terms of reclusion perpetua, one each for the kidnapping of Public Officers Virginia Gara, Monico Saavedra and Calixto Francisco. Like the other accused who withdrew their appeals, he is REQUIRED to return the personal effects, or their monetary value, taken from the kidnap victims. Additionally, he is ORDERED to pay the amount of P122,000 representing the ransom money paid to the kidnappers. Costs against appellant. SO ORDERED.
38

Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Vitug and Quisumbing, JJ., concur. http://www.lawphil.net/judjuris/juri1998/jul1998/gr_100901_1998.html