You are on page 1of 27

Today is Monday, June 02, 2014

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 135904 January 21, 2000
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ALVIN TAN y LAGAMAYO, accused-appellant.
DAVIDE, JR., C.J .:
In this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, petitioner Alvin Tan (hereafter TAN) seeks his acquittal by a reversal of
the 29 June 1998 decision
1
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 20688 which affirmed his conviction for violating Republic Act
No. 6539, An Act Preventing and Penalizing Carnapping.
2
TAN's motion for reconsideration of said decision and motion for oral
arguments were denied for lack of merit by the Court of Appeals in its 6 October 1998 resolution.
3
Said decision and resolution of the
Court of Appeals affirmed the 19 December 1994 judgment of conviction against TAN by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 95,
Quezon City in Criminal Case No. Q-93-45449.
TAN's indictment
4
for violation of Republic Act No. 6539 reads as follows:
That on or about the 7th day of November, 1992, in Quezon City, Philippines, the above-named accused, with intent
to gain and without the consent of the owner thereof, did, then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take,
steal and carry away one (1) Mitsubishi Gallant car colored blue, bearing Plate No. CGS-723 owned by one PHILIP
SEE, of undetermined value, to the damage and prejudice of said Philip See.
Upon his arraignment on 14 July 1993 and with the assistance of counsel, Tan pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial immediately
ensued as the parties waived the holding of a preliminary conference.
The trial court's terse recapitulation of the prosecution evidence proceeded in this manner:
5

. . . [P]rivate complainant Philip See is the registered owner of a 1987 Mitsubishi Gallant four-door valued at
P420,000.00, bearing plate no. CGS-723, colored blue, and with motor no. 4G32-FG2704 and serial/chassis no.
A161UL-3011. Sometime in March 1992, accused Alvin Tan was introduced to Philip by Alvin's fiancee, one Vienna
Yu, and from then on, Philip and Alvin became friends and started to see each other on several occasions thereafter.
On November 7, 1992, about 9:30 a.m., Philip together with his wife Ruby See and Robert Chua (a neighbor) was at
his place of residence . . . when Alvin arrived thereat. He made it known to Philip that he was intending to buy Philip's
aforesaid car and that he wanted to test-drive it. On account of their friendship and believing Alvin's assurance that he
would return the car after he shall have test-driven it, Philip granted Alvin's request . . . . On thus getting hold of the
car, Alvin sped away and never returned. In vain, Philip waited for Alvin to show up and return the car; Alvin simply
did not show up, much less cause the return of the car.
Thus, Philip started to call up and look for Alvin at his office at Roosevelt Avenue, QC, but Alvin avoided him by
refusing to answer the telephone calls or pretending he was not around; and Philip's attempts to see Alvin at his office
similarly proved futile, for whenever Philip would go to said office, Alvin would refuse to see him. Dismayed though he
was, Philip desisted as long as he could from reporting and complaining about the matter to the authorities; Philip still
believed that being a friend, Alvin eventually would come around to returning the car to him. Meanwhile, sometime on
March 5, 1993, with the assistance of some personnel of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Philip was able to
cause the car's 1993 renewal registration in the absence of the vehicle and he was issued the corresponding official
receipt therefor.1wphi 1. nt
Sometime on May 19, 1993, Philip again tried to see Alvin at his place at Roosevelt. Again Philip was told that Alvin
was not around. One of Alvin's employees, however, advised Philip to the effect that the car was parked and hidden
right behind Alvin's warehouse. The location of the warehouse having been given to him, Philip went to the place and
at a distance of some five feet, he saw the vehicle parked at the rear end of the warehouse. To his shock and
surprise, he saw that parts of the car, like the bumper, a door, and several interior accessories, had been dismantled
and were already missing. Worse, several pieces of wood were piled on top of the car as if purposely hide and
conceal it from view.
Still failing to recover his car, Philip on or about June 2, 1993, formally lodged a complaint for carnapping against
Alvin before the QC police station. Some two days later, or on June 4, 1993, Philip reported the loss of his car to the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Traffic Management Command and he accordingly signed the corresponding
complaint sheets. Too, an alarm for the subject car was issued. To his further shock and consternation, Philip was
informed by the PNP's Highway Patrol Group (HPG) that somebody had applied for a clearance to sell the car and
that the applicant was made to appear as one Philip See. . . . Philip denied his alleged signature on the application
and also denied having supposedly applied for clearance to sell his vehicle.
Meanwhile, acting on the complaint lodged by Philip against Alvin before the QC police station 1, the police
authorities scheduled a visit to the place of Alvin, with Philip being asked by them to pinpoint and identify Alvin in the
course thereof. Accordingly, at Alvin's place, he was identified and invited by the police to the station for investigation.
While still at Alvin's office, Philip saw on top of Alvin's table what Philip believed to be accessories from his car,
consisting of a two-way radio antenna and car stereo, which appeared to him to have been dismantled from the
subject car.
At that time Alvin took the car supposedly to test-drive it on November 7, 1992, the car was in top condition, had low
mileage, was "fully loaded" with complete interior accessories including an imported Kenwood stereo, and had
imported magwheels.
Expectedly, Tan impugned the prosecution's version and presented a completely diverse tale.
Firstly, TAN asserted that Philip See (hereafter SEE) filed the complaint to purposely collect a debt from him and wittingly use the
court as collecting agent. Secondly, TAN claimed that SEE instituted the complaint in revenge of the quarrels they had over TAN's
girlfriend whom SEE wooed, and (2) in retaliation against the complaint for grave threats and illegal possession of firearms filed by
one of TAN's employees against SEE.
TAN then traced this legal predicament to the time when his girlfriend introduced him to SEE in March 1992. TAN and SEE instantly
became friends for they shared a similar acumen for business and passion for target shooting. Inevitably, they engaged in and
entered into several business transactions which resulted in TAN's indebtedness to SEE in the amount of P800,000. Inspite of this,
SEE still offered to sell the subject Mitsubishi Galant to TAN for the amount of P280,000. TAN declined the offer. SEE persisted to
the extent that he brought the car to TAN's residence on 26 November 1992 and generously suggested that he would just add into
the latter's existing indebtedness to him the car's purchase price.
Sometime in February 1993, SEE tried to collect the car's purchase price but TAN had still no funds. So TAN suggested that he
would apply with a bank for a car loan using the car as security and apply the proceeds of said loan in payment for the car. SEE
agreed. Subsequently, TAN submitted in his name a loan application with the BPI Family Bank in Makati. In compliance with the
requirements of the loan application, SEE personally supervised the car's appraisal and inspection on 19 March 1993. TAN
additionally maintained that he and SEE signed a deed of sale covering the subject automobile but that TAN did not receive a copy
of said deed upon SEE's pretext that he would use it for facilitation of the loan.
The bank approved the loan application but only in the amount of P129,000. Naturally, SEE considered the amount insufficient and
hence, refused to accept the terms of the loan. Consequently, TAN did not seek the release of the loan.
The friendship eventually soured and the resulting "misunderstanding" with SEE impelled TAN on 19 May 1993 to instruct his
warehouse overseer to return the car to SEE's residence. TAN's employee drove the car to SEE's house, parked the car outside the
gate and then handed over the keys of the car to SEE's wife, Ruby.
Tan was therefore surprised when on 14 June 1993, police officers arrived at his residence and invited him to the police station; this,
to TAN's additional bewilderment, was in connection with SEE's complaint for the carnapping of the car he already returned. TAN
peacefully went with the police authorities to the station.
6

Weighing the evidence thus proffered, the trial court believed in the prosecution's version, particularly in SEE's clear, positive, and
straightforward account which said court found amply demonstrated that SEE had withdrawn the consent initially given to TAN
when the latter went beyond test-driving and appropriated the car for his own use and benefit. To the trial court, TAN's failure to
return the car and his consequent appropriation thereof constituted unlawful taking the gravamen of the crime charged. It then
concluded that TAN was obviously actuated by intent to gain. The trial court then considered as completely undeserving of belief,
TAN's supposition that despite his heavy indebtedness and given his increasing difficulty to pay his loans, SEE had benignly
extended him credit, delivered to him the subject car and bestowed upon him the ultimate privilege of paying the car at his
convenience. Thus, in a decision promulgated on 19 January 1994, the trial court convicted TAN, the dispositive portion of which
read as follows:
7

WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Alvin Tan y Lagamayo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
carnapping charged herein, defined and punished in Sec. 2, in connection with Sec. 14, both of Rep. Act No. 6539 . .
. and, accordingly, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of from fourteen years,
eight months, and fifteen days as minimum, to seventeen years and four months as maximum; to restore to the
offended party, Philip See, the subject car . . . or in default thereof, to indemnify said offended party in the sum of four
hundred twenty thousand pesos; and, to pay the costs, without prejudice to the application of Rep. Act No. 6127 in
accused's favor.
TAN filed a motion for new trial on the ground of newly discovered evidence which was granted by the trial court in its 4 July 1994
order. SEE then moved for reconsideration, but was denied by the trial court in its 1 March 1995 order. SEE challenged these
aforementioned orders of the trial court in a petition for certiorari filed with the Court of Appeals. On 23 August 1995, the appellate
court gave due course to and granted the petition. TAN assailed the decision of the Court of Appeals through a petition for review
before the Supreme Court, which promptly dismissed the petition.
8

Subsequently, based on TAN's "Notice of Appeal Ex Abundanti Ad Cautelam," the trial court ordered the elevation of the records of
the case to the Court of Appeals.
Meanwhile, TAN challeged the Court of Appeals' affirmance of his, conviction. He argues before this Court that the appellate court
erred in (1) ignoring the peculiar nature of the law on carnapping, (2) disregarding that there was no unlawful taking, and (3) rejecting
circumstances on record which, if considered, would be sufficient to acquit him on reasonable doubt.
In invoking the specificity of the carnapping law, TAN contends that the Court of Appeals should not have employed as bases for his
conviction the basic principles in theft enunciated in (1) People v. Roxas,
9
where rice was received, carted away and consumed,
(2) U.S. v. de Vera,
10
where a bar of gold and P200 in bank notes were received for examination and changing into coins but instead
appropriated, and (3) People v. Trinidad,
11
where a ring was received for pledging but was sold and the proceeds thereof
appropriated for the personal use of receiver.
A cursory reading of the pertinent portion of the challenged Court of Appeals decision reveals that the basic principles of theft alluded
to pertain to the signification of unlawful taking and as to when this takes place. Thus, the Court in Roxas, de Vera and Trinidad
declared that "the unlawful taking or deprivation may occur at or soon after the transfer of physical possession" where "an act done
by the receiver soon after the actual transfer of possession resulted in unlawful taking." In such a case, "the article was taken away,
not received, although at the beginning the article was in fact given and received." Hence, in applying these principles, the Court of
Appeals adopted the theory of the Solicitor General that SEE entrusted his car to TAN merely for test driving, and the latter initially
received the same for that purpose only; TAN must perforce be deemed to have unlawfully "taken" the car soon after the test-driving
for he failed to show-up and return said vehicle.
12

There is no arguing that the anti-carnapping law is a special law, different from the crimes of robbery and theft included in the
Revised Penal Code. It particularly addresses the taking, with intent of gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another without the
latter's consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force upon things.
13
But a careful comparison
of this special law with the crimes of robbery and theft readily reveals their common features and characteristics, to wit: unlawful
taking, intent to gain, and that personal property belonging to another is taken without the latter's consent. However, the anti-
carnapping law particularly deals with the theft and robbery of motor vehicles.
14
Hence, a motor vehicle is said to have been
carnapped when it has been taken, with intent to gain, without the owner's consent, whether the taking was done with or without
violence or intimidation of persons or with or without the use of force upon things. Without the anti-carnapping law, such unlawful
taking of a motor vehicle would fall within the purview of either theft or robbery which was certainly the case before the enactment of
said statute.
Obviously, TAN's proposition that the rudiments of theft, particularly as regards unlawful taking, should not have been applied by the
Court of Appeals, was misplaced. We shall see later on that the appellate court's interpretation redounded in TAN's favor. As an
element common to theft, robbery and carnapping, unlawful taking its import, intention and concept should be considered as
also common to these crimes.
15
However, we reject the Court of Appeals' acceptance, hook, line and sinker of the Office of the
Solicitor General's thesis that there was unlawful taking in this case.
SEE asserted that on 7 November 1992 he turned over possession of his Mitsubishi Galant to TAN for test-driving only, but the latter
did not return the same after the lapse of not just several hours but a number of months. SEE formally filed the complaint for
carnapping on 2 June 1993. In the meantime, during the seven-month interval when the car was allegedly in TAN's possession, (1)
SEE had persistently and perseveringly attempted to talk to and see TAN but the latter adamantly refused to respond to his
telephone calls or personally receive him in his visits; (2) SEE was able to register the car with the LTO on 5 March 1993; and (3)
SEE had seen his car on 19 May 1993 from a distance of some five feet, parked at the rear of TAN's warehouse and in the initial
stages of dismantling. SEE also believed that "being a friend, [TAN] eventually would come around to returning the car to him."
16

Even solely from this testimony, this Court finds that there was no unlawful taking. A felonious taking may be defined as the act of
depriving another of the possession and dominion of movable property without his privity and consent and without animus
revertendi.
17
Thus, an unlawful taking takes place when the owner or juridical possessor does not give his consent to the taking; or, if
the consent was given, it was vitiated; or in the case of Roxas, Trinidad and de Vera, where an act by the receiver soon after the
actual transfer of possession constitutes unlawful taking. In the last scenario, the receiver's act could be considered as having been
executed without the consent of the giver. SEE's testimony clearly evinced his assent to TAN's taking of the car not only at the time
he yielded the physical possession thereof for the alleged test-driving but even thereafter, for he neither withheld his consent nor
withdrew the same during the seven month period the car was with TAN. At the very least, SEE tolerated TAN's possession of the
car. A contrary conclusion inspires only disbelief. For if the car was truly carnapped, why did SEE wait for seven months before he
reported the same? Further, TAN's alleged refusal to meet SEE despite his repeated attempts to do so should have sufficiently
alerted him of the former's supposed malevolent intent, yet he still did not report the taking. Even if he failed to report the taking,
months after the alleged test-driving, he had allegedly seen his car in the initial stages of dismemberment on 19 May 1993 yet, again,
he did not report the carnapping on that day nor on the next, but much later on 7 June 1993 or almost a month thereafter.
SEE said he believed and expected that the car would inevitably be returned to him. This is not only unsatisfactory but irreconcilable
and contradictory with his imputations of carnapping. For if he believed that the vehicle would be returned to him for friendship's sake
then he could not have at the same time also believed that this friend carnapped his car. Clearly, SEE's behavior immediately
preceding, contemporaneous and subsequent to the alleged unlawful taking was definitely not the distraught conduct of a man
whose car was carnapped. He was even able to register the averred stolen vehicle without sounding the alarm.
A fortiori, the cases of Roxas, Trinidad and de Vera cited by the Court of Appeals have no application here as no unlawful deprivation
or taking of SEE's possession of, enjoyment and benefit over the car occurred soon or long after his initial consent to the transfer
thereof. Neither was there an act executed by TAN soon after the alleged test-driving that would constitute unlawful taking. These
conclusions are buttressed by TAN's testimony, duly supported by documentary evidence, that SEE cooperated with him for the
availment of a car loan with the BPI Family Bank in Makati, and that SEE personally attended to the inspection and appraisal of the
subject car. The records, therefore, do not support the finding of carnapping.
Noticeably, the Court of Appeals' erroneous contrary conclusions were heavily predicated on the arguments of the Office of the
Solicitor General that TAN's failure to show a written deed of sale and to seek the release of his car loan "were inconsistent with [the
latter's] idea of sale." It then posed four questions which it concluded "certainly debilitated the pretensions of [TAN]," thus:
18

If there was really a deed of sale, why could not [TAN] present a copy thereof?
Assuming arguendo that [SEE] got [TAN's] copy of the deed of sale, why did he not secure another copy from the
notary public who notarized the same? Or, better still, why did he not present the notary public to testify on the fact of
the sale?
Why did [SEE] have to sell the subject car to [TAN] at P280,000.00 when the latter was admittedly indebted to the
former to the tune of P800,000?
If [TAN] really bought the subject car from private complainant, why did he have to return the same (car) to the lafter
on May 14, 1993?
From this line of reasoning, we easily deduce that the Court of Appeals simply equated the lack of a written deed of sale to SEE's
lack of consent to TAN's taking of the car. But the mere absence of a written contract of sale in this case does not necessarily mean
that SEE did not also consent to the taking nor that TAN's possession of the car was unlawful. The prosecution still has the onus
probandi of showing that TAN's taking was unlawful. What took place in these proceedings was that the appellate court magnified the
weakness of the defense and overlooked the prosecution's failure to discharge the onus probandi to show beyond reasonable
doubt that the crime of carnapping was indeed perpetrated. In short, the Court of Appeals and the trial court simply believed and
accepted the prosecution's tale. It ignored the basic legal precepts that conviction rests upon the strength of evidence of the
prosecution and not on the weakness of the evidence for the defense; and assuming that the evidence of the accused is weak, the
same is no reason to convict, especially, as in this case, where the case of the prosecution is not strong enough to sustain a
conviction.
19
To reiterate, the burden of proof rests upon the prosecution, and unless the State succeeds in proving by overwhelming
evidence the guilt of the accused, the constitutional presumption of innocence applies. A conviction in criminal cases must rest on
nothing less than the moral certainty of guilt.
20

There is no quarrel in the conclusiveness of the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals, for upon this principle hinges the rule that the
jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in cases brought before it from the Court of Appeals is limited to reviewing errors of law. However,
it appears on record that the appellate court overlooked, ignored, and disregarded some fact and circumstance of weight or
significance that if considered would have altered the result. Cogent reasons therefore exist justifying the disregard of the findings of
the appellate court, superseding the same with our own determinations and conclusions, and ordering the reversal of the questioned
decision and resolution of said Court of Appeals.
21

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the herein impugned 29 June 1998 decision and 6 October 1998 resolution of the Court
of Appeals affirming the trial court's judgment convicting accused-appellant Alvin Tan of violation of the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972
are hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE; a new judgment is entered ACQUITTING said accused-appellant on ground of reasonable
doubt.1wphi1.nt
Costs de Officio.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, Kapunan, Pardo and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
1
Per Mabutas, Jr., R., J., with Cui, C., and Aquino, H., JJ., concurring. Rollo, 38-51.
2
Otherwise known as the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972.
3
Rollo, 52.
4
Original Record (OR), Vol. 1, 1-2; Rollo, 39.
5
Id., 39-41.
6
See Rollo, 41-43 for a summary the defense' evidence for the defense.
7
Id., 38.
8
Docketed as G.R. No. 122784.
9
C.A. No. 14953-R, 53 O.G. 716 [1956].
10
43 Phil. 1000 [1922].
11
50 Phil 65 [1927].
12
See Rollo, 45-46.
13
Sec. 2, R.A. 6539; People v. de la Cruz, 183 SCRA 763, 779 [1990]; Chua v. Court of Appeals, 222 SCRA 85, 89
[1993].
14
In Izon v. People, 118 SCRA 119, 123 [1981], a motor vehicle within the meaning of the Anti-Carnapping Act refers
to any vehicle which is motorized and using the streets which are public.
15
In affirming the conviction of the accused for carnapping in People v. Alhambra, 233 SCRA 604, 614 [1994], the
Court applied the principle of larceny, thus:
When it is proven that the property stolen is found in the possession of a person, who is unable to give a
satisfactory explanation as to his possession of such property, a prima facie case is made against such
person sufficient to justify his conviction of the crime of larceny of said property. Men who come honestly into
the possession of the property have no difficulty in explaining the method by which they came into such
possession.
16
Rollo, 40.
17
See 3 RAMON C. AQUINO and CAROLINA GRIO-AQUINO, THE REVISED PENAL CODE 98, 4th ed.
18
Rollo, 48.
19
People v. Ortiz, 266 SCRA 641, 654-655 [1997]; People v. Alvario, 275 SCRA 529, 535 [1997].
20
People v. Dural, 223 SCRA 201, 214 [1993]; People v. Pidia, 249 SCRA 687, 702-703 [19951; See alsoPeople v.
Casinillo, 213 SCRA 777, 787-788 [1992].
21
People v. Pidia, supra note 21 at 696; Cruz v. Court of Appeals, 216 SCRA 350, 359 [1992); Vda. de Alcantara v.
Court of Appeals, 252 SCRA 457, 468 [1996].

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation





THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 127500. June 8, 2000]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. NOEL SANTOS y
CRISPINO and FELICIANO FUNCION alias JON-JON, accused.
NOEL SANTOS y CRISPINO, accused-appellant.
D E C I S I O N
GONZAGA_REYES, J .:
Before us is an appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City,
Branch 117,
[1]
convicting accused-appellant of violation of Republic Act No. 6539, as
amended, also known as the Anti-Carnapping Act, and sentencing him to suffer the
penalty of reclusion perpetua, on the basis of an Information the accusatory portion of
which reads:
That on or about the 18th day of June, 1995, in Pasay City, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, conspiring and confederating together and mutually
helping one another, with intent to gain, and by means of violence
employed against RUEL VALENTINO MORALES, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take and drive away from the latter a
Toyota Tamaraw, bearing Plate No. UAM 540, Engine No. 2-C 2928663
and Chassis No. CF50-0012454 valued at P387,000.00 and belonging to
TEODULO NATIVIDAD y DELA CRUZ, to the damage and prejudice of
said owner in the amount of P387,000.00; that as a result of the violence
employed on the person of RUEL VALENTINO MORALES, the latter
sustained injuries which caused his death.
[2]

The above Information, which named as accused Noel Santos and one John Doe, was
amended on July 31, 1995 to cancel the designation of John Doe and substitute in its
place the name of Feliciano Funcion, alias Jon-jon.
[3]
Up to the time of the rendition of
the assailed decision, however, accused Funcion remained at large.
The prosecution presented ten witnesses during trial, consisting of the apprehending
and investigating officers of the Pasay City and Magalang, Pampanga police stations,
the medico-legal officer, and the family and friends of the victim. Also submitted in
evidence were the articles recovered at the scene of the crime, including the murder
weapon and personal belongings of both the victim and accused-appellant.
PO3 Alfredo Galang was manning the traffic at the intersection in Dolores, Magalang,
Pampanga at around 2:30 in the morning of June 19, 1995 when he noticed an
"overspeeding" Toyota Tamaraw FX. He signaled for the vehicle to pull over to the side
of the road, approached the vehicle then asked the driver for his license. The driver,
who turned out to be accused-at-large Jon-jon Funcion, handed him an expired drivers
license without plastic cover issued in the name of the victim, Ruel Morales.
[4]
Observing
that the driver and his companion, herein accused-appellant, were acting suspiciously,
PO3 Galang asked them to turn on the lights inside the vehicle, to which accused-
appellant complied. He then borrowed the key to the rear door of the FX from the driver.
While PO3 Galang was opening the rear door, the driver fled unpursued towards a
nearby sugarcane field. The rear portion of the FX, as PO3 Galang found out shortly
thereafter, contained the dead body of victim Ruel Morales wrapped in the seat cover
and curtains of the vehicle.
This account was corroborated by Ernesto Gonzales, one of two traffic aides then
stationed at the traffic outpost in Dolores, Magalang, Pampanga, and who assisted PO3
Galang in the inspection of the FX and the apprehension of accused-appellant.
PO3 Galang took custody of accused-appellant, who all through out the incident
remained seated in the front passenger seat of the FX. He called a funeral parlor to
collect the corpse, brought the FX and accused-appellant to the Magalang police
station, and immediately executed an affidavit of arrest
[5]
against accused-appellant.
The next day, accused-appellant was brought by one SPO2 Nuqui of the Magalang
police station to the Pasay City police station and indorsed to the officer on duty, SPO2
Renato Guzman. It was SPO2 Guzman who interviewed accused-appellant, who in turn
denied responsibility for the death of Morales and pointed all the blame at accused-at-
large Jon-jon Funcion.
Also delivered to the Pasay City police were an autopsy report of the body of the victim,
a gray Toyota Tamaraw FX with Plate No. UAM 540, and the items recovered therein.
SPO1 Manuel Abenoja, the evidence custodian of the Pasay City police station,
identified in open court the articles recovered from inside the FX, namely: a deformed
and blood-stained kitchen knife, a stone measuring about 3 to 4 inches across, a
Certificate of Registration pertaining to the Toyota Tamaraw FX issued in the name of
Teodulo C. Natividad, a pair of checkered short pants, a wrist watch, a brown scapular
necklace, two leather wallets, a PCIBank card in the name of Ruel Valentino Morales, a
Makati Public Safety Office badge, three pictures of Ruel Morales, a pair of denim long
pants, a leather belt, three pairs of shoes, and assorted identification papers in the
name of Ruel Morales.
[6]

Dr. Ma. Lourdes Natividad, rural health physician of Magalang, Pampanga , conducted
the post-mortem examination of the body of the victim. Based on her findings, the cause
of death was hemorrhage as a result of the victims fractured skull. Dr. Natividad
testified to the presence of the following injuries on the victims body: fracture of the
frontonasal bone (between the victims eyes
[7]
); multiple lacerations, incisions and
hematoma on the face and arms, abrasions on the face and lower extremities, and
ligature extending horizontally from right to left and covering almost two-thirds of the
neck.
[8]
In her testimony, the doctor stated that the fracture between the victims eyes
and the contusions were likely caused by a blunt instrument, while the lacerated and
incised wounds were inflicted by a sharp instrument. The ligature across the neck could
have been caused by strangling with a rope.
[9]

Three of the victims friends who last saw him alive were also presented as prosecution
witnesses. Elizalde Claridad declared that at around 11:00 in the evening of June 18,
1995, he was drinking with his friends at the corner of Lim and M. Reyes Streets in
Makati City when Ruel Morales drove by in a Toyota Tamaraw FX. Morales called to
him and asked that he accompany him in looking for his (Moraless) brother, Hoppy.
Morales was wearing a T-shirt, shorts, slippers and a ladys Rolex wrist watch with
gemstones. They drove around Barangay Bangkal in Makati then proceeded to Padis
Point, a restaurant-bar at Pasay Road, also in Makati; unable to locate the brother,
Morales dropped him off at the corner of Lim and M. Reyes Streets and drove back to
Pasay Road. The next time he saw Morales was the next day, when they fetched his
body in the morgue in Pampanga.
Meanwhile, Arnie Bordeos testified that on the night of June 18, 1995, between 10:00 to
11:00, he saw Ruel Morales in a Toyota Tamaraw FX along M. Reyes and General
Luna Streets in Makati conversing with two persons by the side of the road. Earlier to
this conversation, these two persons approached him and his friends and talked to them
in a drunken and rude manner. One of them, whom he identified as herein accused-
appellant, even bragged that he was the nephew of a city mayor. He then saw Morales
opening the passenger doors to let the two persons in, then Morales drove away with
the two on board. Leo Soriba, who was with Arnie Bordeos at the time, corroborated this
account.
Teodulo Natividad testified that he was the owner of the Toyota Tamaraw FX where the
victims body was found. He stated that on June 18, 1995 he lent the FX to the victim,
Ruel Morales, who was a good friend of his and who often borrowed the FX from him.
The vehicle was recovered and restored to him by the Pasay City police. It had a dent
on the roof and the seat covers and curtains were missing, but it was in otherwise good
condition.
[10]

Antonio Morales, Jr. presented receipts covering the expenses incurred by his family for
the wake and burial of his brother. The total costs reflected in the receipts amounted to
P56,319.30. He also stated that his brother worked as an entertainer in Japan, earning
US$1,000.00 a month.
[11]
He was, however, unable to submit documentary evidence to
support this.
In contrast to the ten witnesses presented by the prosecution, defense presented as its
sole witness accused-appellant himself. In his version of the story, accused-appellant
was at the Malvar Sports Complex in Bangkal, Makati City on June 18, 1995 at around
10:00 in the evening. He was playing darts with accused-at-large Jon-jon Funcion and
two other friends, when Jon-jon told them that he was in need of money as he needed
to go to Tarlac to see his girlfriend. Because no one among them could lend him money,
Jon-jon asked accused-appellant to accompany him to the house of one Councilor
Ferdie Eusebio from whom he intended to borrow money. Upon reaching Eusebios
house, however, Jon-jon decided against it because it was already late at night and it
seemed as if the occupants of the house were already asleep. They returned to the
Malvar Sports Complex where one of their friends, Jeffrey Abigabel, suggested they try
borrowing money from his friend, Joel. Jon-jon left with Funcion to go to Joel, but they
returned shortly after. Jeffrey then said he was going home, and as Jeffrey was walking
away from them a Toyota Tamaraw FX stopped beside him. Accused-appellant saw
Jeffrey converse with the driver of the FX, then Jeffrey went on his way and the FX went
towards Mabolo Street. Accused-appellant then said that Jon-jon asked him who the
driver of the FX was, but he answered that he did not know. Then Jon-jon left towards
the direction of Mabolo Street, saying "didiskarte raw siya ng pera."
[12]

At this point, accused-appellant decided to go home. While walking along Macabolos
Street he met the FX, being driven by Jon-jon, which stopped beside him. The person
on the front passenger seat opened his window, and he observed that the person was
"gay". Jon-jon asked him where he was going, and when he said he was on his way
home, he and the "gay" passenger invited him to ride with them and that they will drop
him off at his house. He identified the passenger as "Sharon", or the victim Ruel
Morales in the instant case. Accused-appellant accepted the offer and boarded the FX.
However, instead of dropping him off at his house in Malibay, Pasay City, Jon-jon drove
to PICC, where they parked in a dark area where the trees screened off the light of the
electric lamps. Jon-jon then asked accused-appellant to step out of the FX, saying that
he and "Sharon" had matters to discuss. He consented, walking about 8 meters away
from the vehicle. Because it was dark, he could not see the interior of the FX but he
observed that it was "umuuga", or rocking lightly, for about 10 to 15 minutes. He came
to the conclusion that the two were having sex.
Then Jon-jon called him and alighted from the middle right-side door of the FX. When
accused-appellant approached, Jon-jon placed his right arm on the right shoulder of
accused-appellant, and the latter noticed from the open car door that someone was
lying inside the FX. He asked Jon-jon what happened and he reportedly replied, "Dont
ask anymore, you might be the next one."
[13]
Then he felt something poke him sharply on
the neck, and Jon-jon said in an angry voice, "Just follow what I instructed (sic), if not, I
will kill you."
[14]
Jon-jon then told him to remove the seat covers of the FX and as he did
so, Jon-jon went behind him leveling the knife on accused-appellants neck with one
hand while holding to the waistband of accused-appellant pants with the other.
[15]
Jon-
jon made him cover the dead body with the seat covers; then Jon-jon tied both of
accused-appellants hands behind his back, took his wallet and made him sit on the
front passenger seat of the FX. He then placed a seat belt around him, locked the door
at his side, started the engine and drove to Buendia Avenue and north to Pampanga. All
the while Jon-jon reportedly threatened to kill him if he attempted to escape or to alert
anyone, such as the toll booth personnel, of what was happening.
[16]
Throughout his
testimony, which ran the course of four hearings, accused-appellant insisted that he had
no opportunity to escape and that he was overcome by fear of accused-at-large Jon-jon
Funcion.
When they were accosted at the intersection in Dolores, Magalang, Pampanga,
accused-appellant testified to the following chain of events: Jon-jon pulled over to the
side of the road, unfastened the seat belt around accused-appellant, untied accused-
appellants hands, threw something at the back of the vehicle, turned on the light, told
accused-appellant to remove his (accused-appellants) sweatshirt, wore the sweatshirt
to cover the blood stains on his arms, turned off the light, threatened him some more,
took money from accused-appellants wallet, then alighted.
[17]
All of this presumably
transpired during the interim that it took for PO3 Galang, who was at a distance of about
30 meters away,
[18]
to approach the FX.
At some point in his testimony, accused-appellant said that while the policeman and
Jon-jon were talking, he called to one of the traffic aides and said that there was a dead
body at the back of the car.
[19]
This, however, was not in the testimony of Ernesto
Gonzales, one of the traffic aides present at the time.
After Jon-jon Funcion fled and the police officer found the dead body at the back of the
FX, they approached accused-appellant who remained seated at the front passenger
seat and led him to the nearby police outpost. He was then brought to a police station
where he was placed under investigation.
The trial court viewed with disbelief the version of accused-appellant. In its decision
rendered on October 25, 1996, it declared:
The Court believes that Jon-jon alone could not inflict all the wounds on
Morales alias Sharon which caused his death. So that the claim of Santos
that he had no participation in the killing of Morales is not credible. Santos
himself testified that his friend Jon-jon was in need of money as he was to
go to his girlfriend in Tarlac. When they were not able to borrow money
from Councilor Eusebio, Morales came along and invited them to PICC.
Morales alias Sharon being a gay wanted to use Jon-jon and Santos who
were teenagers. While there is no direct evidence in the killing of Morales,
the presumption is that the person found in the unexplained possession of
the stolen effects is the author of the aggression and death of the victim
and the robbery committed on him. (People vs. Prado, G.R. No. 95260,
March 8, 1996) At the time they were committing the crime, their action
impliedly showed a unity of purpose between them and a concerted effort
to bring about the death of Morales. (People vs. Ferrer, et. al., G.R. Nos.
114931-33, November 16, 1995)
[20]

Thus, the trial court made a finding of implied conspiracy and meted out a judgment of
conviction. The dispositive portion of the assailed decision is quoted as follows:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Noel
Santos y Crispino GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for violation of
Republic Act No. 6539, as amended (Anti-Carnapping Act). There being
no aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the Court sentences him to
the penalty of reclusion perpetua; to indemnify the heirs of Ruel Valentino
Morales in the amount of P50,000.00; the amount of P56,319.30 as
damages, and to pay the costs.
SO ORDERED.
[21]

On appeal, accused-appellant assigns the following errors:
1.....The trial court gravely erred in finding that Noel Santos is guilty of
violating Republic Act No. 6539, as amended (the "Anti-Carnapping Act"),
considering that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of Noel Santos
beyond reasonable doubt.
1a.....The trial court gravely erred in finding that there was conspiracy
between Funcion and Noel Santos, and that their actions showed unity of
purpose and a concerted effort to bring about the death of victim Morales.
1b.....The trial court gravely erred in finding that Noel Santos participated
in the forcible taking of the Tamaraw FX and the killing of victim Morales.
1c.....The trial court erred in finding that Funcion alone could not inflict all
the wounds victim Morales sustained.
2.....The trial court gravely erred in finding that the prosecution was able to
sufficiently establish the presence of Noel Santos in the vehicle when the
crime was committed by Funcion.
2a.....The trial court gravely erred in finding Noel Santos guilty based on a
presumption that the person found in the unexplained possession of the
stolen effects is the author of the aggression and death of the victim and
of the robbery committed on him, considering that Noel Santos was able
to fully explain his presence in said vehicle where the body of the victim
Morales was found.
[22]

Every criminal conviction requires of the prosecution to prove two things: the fact of the
crime, i.e., the presence of all the elements of the crime for which the accused stands
charged, and the fact that the accused is the perpetrator of the crime. In the instant
case we find the prosecution unable to discharge on both aspects, leaving us with no
option but to acquit on reasonable doubt.
"Carnapping", as defined by Republic Act No. 6539, or the Anti-Carnapping Act, as
amended, is the taking, with intent to gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another
without the latters consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation of persons,
or by using force upon things.
[23]
By the amendment in Section 20 of Republic Act No.
7659, Section 14 of the Anti-Carnapping Act now reads:
SEC. 14. Penalty for Carnapping. --- Any person found guilty of
carnapping, as this term is defined in Section Two of this Act, shall,
irrespective of the value of the motor vehicle taken, be punished by
imprisonment for not less than fourteen years and eight months and not
more than seventeen years and four months, when the carnapping is
committed without violence or intimidation of persons, or force upon
things, and by imprisonment for not less than seventeen years and four
months and not more than thirty years, when the carnapping is committed
by means of violence or intimidation of any person, or force upon
things; and the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death shall be imposed
when the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped motor vehicle is
killed or raped in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the
occasion thereof. (Emphasis supplied)
On the last clause, three amendments have been made to the original Section 14 of the
Anti-Carnapping Act: (1) the change of the penalty from life imprisonment to reclusion
perpetua, (2) the inclusion of rape, and (3) the change of the phrase "in the commission
of the carnapping" to "in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the
occasion thereof."
[24]
This third amendment makes clear the intention of the law to make
the offense a special complex crime, by way of analogy vis-a-vis paragraphs 1 to 4 of
the Revised Penal Code on robbery with violence against or intimidation of
persons.
[25]
Thus, under the last clause of Section 14 of the Anti-Carnapping Act, the
prosecution not only has to prove the essential requisites of carnapping and of the
homicide or murder of Ruel Morales
[26]
but more importantly, it must show that the
original criminal design of the culprit was carnapping and that the killing was perpetrated
"in the course of the commission of the carnapping or on the occasion thereof."
Needless to say, where the elements of carnapping are not proved, the provisions of the
Anti-Carnapping Act would cease to be applicable and the homicide or murder (if
proven) would be punishable under the Revised Penal Code.
In the herein case, we find the charge of carnapping unsubstantiated for failure of the
prosecution to prove an unlawful taking. The application of the presumption that a
person found in possession of the personal effects belonging to a person robbed or
killed is considered the author of the aggression, the death of the person, as well as the
robbery committed, has been invariably limited to cases where such possession is
either unexplained or that the proffered explanation is rendered implausible in view of
independent evidence inconsistent thereto.
[27]
The rebuttal of such presumption,
invariably employed in cases of robbery and theft under the Revised Penal Code, validly
applies to a case of carnapping, for indeed the concept of unlawful taking in theft,
robbery and carnapping is the same, and had it not been for the enactment of the Anti-
Carnapping Act, the unlawful taking of a motor vehicle would certainly fall within the
purview of either theft or robbery.
[28]

However incriminating the circumstances of accused-appellant were --- having been
apprehended in an "overspeeding" Toyota Tamaraw FX, which later turned out to be
owned by the victims friend, and where the victims body and a blood-stained knife
were found --- he did in fact set up a defense of duress on which, as the records plainly
show, he had been subjected to exhaustive cross-examination by the prosecution.
During cross-examination, accused-appellant adhered to his version of the story,
insisting that his presence in the FX was for no reason other than as a captive of
accused-at-large. While we are not prepared to say that the explanation of accused-
appellant is seamless, the point we want to make at this juncture is that once an
explanation is offered for the possession of the stolen effects, the presumption arising
from unexplained possession may not anymore be invoked and the burden shifts once
more to the prosecution to produce evidence that would render the defense of accused
improbable. On this burden we find the prosecution in the instant case unable to
discharge.
The carnapping not being duly proved, the killing of Ruel Morales may not be treated as
an incident of carnapping. Nonetheless, even under the provisions of homicide and
murder under the Revised Penal Code, we find that the guilt of accused-appellant was
not established beyond reasonable doubt.
The trial court itself admits that there is no direct evidence indicating the guilt of
accused-appellant for the killing of Ruel Morales. Following are the circumstantial
evidence relied upon for his conviction: first, accused-appellant was in the Toyota
Tamaraw FX containing the victims body and a blood-stained knife; second, the FX
was caught "overspeeding" at 2:30 in the morning at a provincial intersection, and the
occupants were acting suspiciously; third, earlier accused-appellant was seen with
accused-at-large in Pasay City, appearing drunk and behaving rudely; and fourth, he
was seen with accused-at-large boarding an FX being driven by the victim, the same FX
where the victims body was subsequently found.
For circumstantial evidence to convict, the Rules of Court require that: (1) there is more
than one circumstance; (2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven;
and (3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt.
[29]
On the latter, decided cases expound that the
circumstancial evidence presented and proved must constitute an unbroken chain which
leads to one fair and reasonable conclusion pointing to accused, to the exclusion of all
others, as the guilty person.
[30]

The circumstances abovementioned do not lead to an inference exclusively consistent
with the guilt of accused-appellant. Quite to the contrary, we observe that while the
arresting officer was preoccupied with opening the rear door of the FX, at which time
accused-at-large took the opportunity to flee, accused-appellant remained seated on the
front passenger seat, a behavior quite uncommon for a guilty man faced with the
inevitability of arrest. Although no one corroborated accused-appellants allegation that
he volunteered the information that there was a dead body at the back of the car, his
demeanor all throughout the search of the FX and during his arrest was, to say the
least, not inconsistent with the hypothesis of innocence. He did not resist arrest, and
during his testimony he did not waver in insisting that it was accused-at-large alone who
was responsible for the crime.
Thus, even if we accept as credible all the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, it
does not rule out the probability of accused-appellants story --- that it was accused-at-
large who killed Morales then threatened him at knife-point ---- having taken place, for
there were no eyewitnesses to the killing itself, and all the prosecution was able to show
were the events before and after the killing of Morales.
A situation as this calls for the application of the equipoise rule, which requires that
where the inculpatory circumstances are capable of two inferences, one of which is
consistent with the presumption of innocence and the other compatible with a finding of
guilt, the court must acquit the accused because the evidence does not fulfill the test of
moral certainty and therefore is insufficient to support a judgment of conviction.
[31]

Our ruling to acquit does not hold a corollary upholding of the credibility of the testimony
of accused-appellant. The basis of the acquittal is reasonable doubt, which simply
means that the evidence of the prosecution was not sufficient to sustain the guilt of
accused-appellant beyond the point of moral certainty. Proof beyond reasonable doubt,
however, is a burden particular to the prosecution and does not apply to exculpatory
facts as may be raised by the defense; the accused is not required to establish matters
in mitigation or defense beyond a reasonable doubt, nor is he required to establish the
truth of such matters by a preponderance of the evidence, or even to a reasonable
probability.
[32]
An acquittal based on reasonable doubt will prosper even though the
accuseds innocence may be doubted,
[33]
for a criminal conviction rests on the strength of
the evidence of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense.
[34]

Having resolved against the individual culpability of accused-appellant in this manner,
the theory of implied conspiracy of the trial court must likewise fail.
WHEREFORE, the decision in Criminal Case No. 95-7258 of Branch 117 of the
Regional Trial Court of Pasay City is hereby REVERSED. Accused-appellant Noel
Santos y Crispino is ACQUITTED on the ground that his guilt has not been proved
beyond reasonable doubt. His immediate release from detention is hereby ordered,
unless other lawful and valid grounds for his further detention exist. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, (Chairman), Panganiban, and Purisima, JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., abroad, on official business.



[1]
Presided by Judge Leonardo M. Rivera.
[2]
Rollo, 3.
[3]
Amended Information; Records of the Case, 40.
[4]
TSN, July 24, 1995, 5, 10.
[5]
Records of the Case, 6.
[6]
TSN, October 3, 1995, 3-8.
[7]
TSN, July 24, 1996, 24.
[8]
Autopsy Report; Records of the Case, 165.
[9]
TSN, July 24, 1995; 26.
[10]
TSN, August 15, 1995, 5-6.
[11]
TSN, December 13, 1995, 9.
[12]
TSN, May 22, 1996, 16.
[13]
TSN, June 10, 1996, 6.
[14]
Ibid., 7.
[15]
TSN, June 26, 1996, 12.
[16]
Ibid., 18.
[17]
TSN, June 10, 1996, 29-34.
[18]
Ibid., 32.
[19]
Ibid., 36-37.
[20]
RTC Decision; Rollo, 33.
[21]
Ibid.; Rollo, 33-34.
[22]
Accused-Appellants Brief; Rollo, 85.
[23]
Sec. 2, R.A. No. 6539, as amended.
[24]
Prior to the amendment, the last clause of Section 14 of R.A. No. 6539 read: " xxx and the penalty of life
imprisonment to death shall be imposed when the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped vehicle is killed in the
commission of the carnapping."
[25]
People vs. Mejia, 275 SCRA 127.
[26]
In People vs. Mejia, supra, the Court stated that since Section 14 of the Anti-Carnapping Act uses the words "is
killed", no distinction must be made between homicide and murder insofar as the penalty is concerned. It is,
however, required that the felony of either murder or homicide be consummated for the penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death to set in; otherwise, or when the murder or homicide is merely attempted or frustrated, it must be
deemed to fall under the clause "when the carnapping is committed by means of violence against or intimidation of
any person", also in Section 14 of the same law.
[27]
People vs. Geron, 281 SCRA 36.
[28]
See People vs. Tan, G.R. No. 135904, January 21, 2000.
[29]
Sec. 4, Rule 133, Revised Rules of Court; cited in People vs. Llaguno, 285 SCRA 124; People vs. Mendoza, 284
SCRA 705; People vs. Bato, 284 SCRA 223.
[30]
People vs. Geron, supra; see also People vs. Quitorio, 285 SCRA 196; People vs. Llaguno, supra.
[31]
People vs. Cawaling, 293 SCRA 267; People vs. Ferras, 289 SCRA 94.
[32]
People vs. Geron, supra.
[33]
People vs. Fronda, G.R. No. 130602, March 15, 2000.
[34]
People vs. Fronda, supra; People vs. Crispin, G.R. No. 128360, March 2, 2000; People vs. Rugay, 291 SCRA
692.



THIRD DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and
SPOUSES MARILYN and FRANCISCO
GARCIA,
Petitioners,


- versus -


JOSEPH TERRADO, and
HONORABLE SALVADOR P. VEDAA,
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court,
Branch 68, Lingayen, Pangasinan,
Respondents.

G.R. No. 148226

Present:

QUISUMBING, J.,
*

YNARES-SANTIAGO,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.

Promulgated:

July 14, 2008

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


DECISION

NACHURA, J .:




The Case

Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari
[1]
assailing the April 6, 2001
Decision
[2]
of Honorable Judge Salvador P. Vedaa of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 68, of Lingayen, Pangasinan in Criminal Case No. L-5813, People
v. Joseph Terrado, a.k.a. Hapon, finding the accused Hapon not guilty of
Carnapping (punished under Republic Act 6538, otherwise known as the Anti-
Carnapping Act of 1972).
Accused Joseph Terrado was charged with Carnapping in the Information
filed by 4
th
Assistant Prosecutor Abraham L. Ramos II, dated March 9, 1998, to
wit:

That on or about 8
th
day of August, 1997 in the afternoon, in barangay
Malindong, Municipality of Binmaley, province of Pangasinan, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed
with a fan knife (balisong), by means of force and intimidation, did then and there
threaten with fan knife, Leoncio Dalmacio driver of motorized tricycle with Plate
No. AE-8082 and thereafter with intent to gain, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously took and carted away said motorized tricycle without the consent and
against the will of Leoncio Dalmacio and/or Marilyn Garcia.

Contrary to R.A. 6538 [sic], as amended.
[3]



The case was originally raffled to Judge Nicodemo T. Ferrer of Branch 37,
RTC. On May 14, 1998, the accused was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the
crime charged.

On July 22, 1998, the prosecution, through 3
rd
Asst. City Prosecutor
Borromeo R. Bustamante, filed a Motion to Dismiss,
[4]
and prayed for the
provisional dismissal of the case. In an Affidavit of Desistance
[5]
executed by
private complainant, Marilyn Garcia, the latter stated that they were leaving for
the US and would not be able to pursue the case. The trial court granted the
Motion in its Order
[6]
dated August 19, 1998.

On November 16, 1998, a Motion to Revive the Case
[7]
was filed by the
private complainant through Prosecutor I Marlon Meneses, which was granted by
the court in an Order
[8]
dated November 17, 1998. A Motion for Reconsideration
and/or to Lift/Set Aside Order of Revival was filed by the accused. On January 14,
1999, the trial court denied the motion
[9]
for reconsideration and set the case for
hearing on January 26, 1999. However, the accused sought the inhibition of Judge
Nicodemo T. Ferrer from trying the case, which the latter granted. The case was re-
raffled and was assigned to the sala of Judge Salvador Vedaa, Branch 68, RTC.

On March 5, 1999, the accused reiterated his Motion for Reconsideration
and/or to Lift/Set Aside Order of Revival. Acting on the above motion, the court
denied the same for lack of merit in its Resolution
[10]
dated March 9, 1999, and set
the case for hearing on April 5, 1999.

The accused then filed a petition for certiorari with the CA assailing the
orders of the trial court. Then, on April 5, 1999, he filed with the trial court a
Motion to Archive the case. On April 12, 1999, the complainant through the
private prosecutor, under the direct control and supervision of the public
prosecutor, filed her Comment/Opposition to the motion. In a Resolution
[11]
dated
June 30, 1999, the trial court denied the Motion to Archive filed by the defense in
order not to unduly delay the proceedings, considering that the petition
for certiorari filed by the defense was not yet given due course by the Court of
Appeals (CA).

On July 31, 2000, the trial court issued a warrant of arrest against the
accused which was returned unserved because accused person could not be
located at his given address.
[12]

On March 27, 2001, the trial court received from the CA the entry of
judgment of the resolution dismissing the petition for certiorari filed by the
accused.
[13]


Trial of the case thereafter ensued.

For the prosecution, the following witnesses were presented: Leoncio
Dalmacio, PO1 Mardy delos Santos, PO1 Ferdinand Ferrer, Marilyn Garcia and
Marcelino Flores.

The version of the prosecution states that in the afternoon of August 8, 1997,
while Leoncio Dalmacio (Dalmacio) was driving a tricycle owned by Spouses
Marilyn and Francisco Garcia, the accused hailed him, boarded the tricycle, and
then asked to be brought to Barangay Libsong, Lingayen, Pangasinan. When they
reached the place, the accused alighted from the sidecar and suddenly picked up a
stone and struck the tricycle.
[14]
Dalmacio dismounted from the tricycle and tried to
pacify the accused but he noticed that Terrado was armed with a fan
knife (balisong). The accused then took the tricycle, drove away and left Dalmacio
behind. Dalmacio reported the incident to the Binmaley Police Station and,
subsequently, to the Lingayen Police Station. He then executed a Sworn
Statement
[15]
before the municipal judge of the Binmaley Municipal Trial Court
(MTC).

For the defense, the accused claimed that he was on his way to his parents-
in-law at Libsong when he met Dalmacio and asked him if he could borrow the
tricycle. Dalmacio answered in the affirmative and even told him: Please put
some gasoline in it and I will go to my in-law.
[16]
One of the witnesses, Joseph
Estrada, testified that on the day of the alleged incident, he saw the accused
speaking with Dalmacio. Afterwards, he saw Dalmacio alight from the tricycle,
then the accused took over the drivers seat and left in the direction of
Lingayen. Dalmacio then boarded a jeepney bound for Dagupan. Estrada testified
that during the conversation of the accused and Dalmacio, he heard no shouts or
altercation between the two.
[17]
The defense claimed that the accused merely
borrowed the tricycle from Dalmacio. However, when accused was about to return
the same, he hit a stone, lost control of the tricycle and bumped a tree.
[18]
Three
persons came and helped him bring the tricycle back to the roadside.
[19]
The
accused returned the tricycle at around 11:00 pm of the same day to the Spouses
Garcia. The defense did not deny that the tricycle, when returned, was damaged
and, in fact, the accused voluntarily paid the amount of P8,000.00 as partial
remuneration for the repair which was estimated to cost P25,000.00.
[20]


In its Decision dated April 6, 2001, the trial court acquitted accused Joseph
Terrado for failure of the prosecution to establish intent to take the tricycle and
intent to gain from the same. Thus, the court held that the prosecution failed to
prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The dispositive portion of
the trial courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby renders
judgment ACQUITTING the accused Joseph Terrado for violation of R.A. 6538
otherwise known as the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972.

However, as regard the civil liability of accused Joseph Terrado, the
[court] hereby orders him to pay the complainant Marilyn Garcia the following: 1)
Actual damages amounting to P25,000.00 P8,000.00 = P17,000.00 and 2) Moral
damages amounting to P20,000.00.

SO ORDERED.


The prosecution filed a Motion for Reconsideration
[21]
which the trial court
denied in a Resolution
[22]
dated May 21, 2001.

Aggrieved, the complainants come to this Court via a Petition
for Certiorari seeking to annul and set aside the Decision dated April 6, 2001.

The issues which the petitioners raise before the Court may be summarized
as follows:

1. WHETHER THE ACCUSED IS GUILTY OF VIOLATION OF RA 6538
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS ANTI-CARNAPPING ACT OF 1972;

2. WHETHER THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT IN RENDERING THE
QUESTIONED DECISION ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION.


The petitioners allege that there was misapprehension of facts, and that the
trial court reached its conclusion based entirely on speculation, surmises and
conjectures, and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction as the judgment of acquittal was rendered on dubious factual and legal
basis.

The trial courts decision is being questioned before us through a Petition
for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court. It may be noted that the
petition was filed by the private prosecutor and without the participation of the
Office of the Solicitor General.

The special civil action for certiorari is intended for the correction of errors
of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction. Its principal office is to keep the inferior court within the parameters
of its jurisdiction or to prevent it from committing such a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
[23]


By grave abuse of discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical
exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of
discretion must be grave as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic
manner by reason of passion or personal hostility and must be so patent and gross
as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the
duty enjoined by or to act at all in contemplation of law.
[24]


While petitioner alleges grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction, the imputation is premised on the averment that the trial
court reached its conclusions based on speculation, surmises and conjectures. As
alleged by the petitioners, the accused forcibly took the vehicle from the
complainants driver and the public respondent acquitted the accused for alleged
failure to meet the element of intent to gain.
[25]
Specifically, the allegations delve
on the misapprehension of facts by the trial court. Petitioners were persistent that
the records of the trial be reviewed, as they were not convinced by the validity of
the trial courts factual conclusion.

It should be remembered that, as a rule, factual matters cannot be normally
inquired into by the Supreme Court in a certiorari proceeding. As earlier stressed,
the present recourse is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65. It is a fundamental
aphorism in law that a review of facts and evidence is not the province of the
extraordinary remedy ofcertiorari, which is extra ordinem beyond the ambit of
appeal.
[26]


At least, the mistakes ascribed to the trial court are not errors of jurisdiction
correctible by the special civil action for certiorari, but errors of judgment, which
is correctible by a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised
Rules of Court. The mere fact that a court erroneously decides a case does not
necessarily deprive it of jurisdiction. Thus, assuming arguendo that the trial court
committed a mistake in its judgment, the error does not vitiate the decision,
considering that it has jurisdiction over the case.
[27]
For this reason, the dismissal of
the instant petition is called for.

In our jurisdiction, availment of the remedy of certiorari to correct an
erroneous acquittal may be allowed in cases where petitioner has clearly shown
that the public respondent acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. However, and more serious
than the procedural infraction, if the petition merely calls for an ordinary review of
the findings of the court a quo, we would run afoul of the constitutional right
against double jeopardy. Such recourse is tantamount to converting the petition
for certiorari into an appeal, which is proscribed by the Constitution, the Rules of
Court and prevailing jurisprudence on double jeopardy.
[28]
Verdicts of acquittal are
to be regarded as absolutely final and irreviewable. The fundamental philosophy
behind the principle is to afford the defendant, who has been acquitted, final repose
and to safeguard him from government oppression through the abuse of criminal
processes.
[29]


This Court cannot rule any other way. Accused Joseph Terrado, after being
acquitted of the crime charged, must be afforded the protection against repeated
attempts for conviction, in faithful adherence to the constitutional rule against
double jeopardy.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the instant petition
is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.


ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice


WE CONCUR:



LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice



CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ
Associate Justice




RUBEN T. REYES
Associate Justice


A T T E S T A T I O N

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.



CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division


C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division
Chairperson's 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.



REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice



*
In lieu of Associate Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario per Special Order No. 508, dated June 25, 2008.
[1]
Rollo, pp. 3-31.
[2]
Annex A of the Petition, id. at 32-51.
[3]
Records, p. 1.
[4]
Annex C of the Petition, id. at 53-54.
[5]
Annex B of the Petition, id. at 52.
[6]
Annex D of the Petition, id. at 55.
[7]
Annex E of the Petition, id. at 56-57.
[8]
Annex F of the Petition, id. at 58.

[9]
Order dated January 14, 1999, Annex G, rollo, p. 59.
[10]
Annex I, rollo, pp. 62-65.
[11]
Annex J, rollo, pp. 68-69.
[12]
Records, pp. 375-377.
[13]
Records, pp. 383-385.
[14]
Id.
[15]
Affidavit of Leoncio Dalmacio dated August 10, 1997, records, p. 14.
[16]
Petition for Review, pp. 15, rollo, p. 17.
[17]
RTC Decision, rollo, p. 47.
[18]
Petition for Review, p.15, rollo, p. 17.
[19]
Id.
[20]
Testimony of Marilyn Garcia, RTC Decision, rollo, p. 44.
[21]
Rollo, pp. 99-105.
[22]
Id. at 108-112.
[23]
People v. Court of Appeals, 468 Phil. 1, 10 (2004).
[24]
United Coconut Planters Bank v. Looyuko, G.R. No. 156337, September 28, 2007, 534 SCRA 322, 331.
[25]
Petition, rollo, pp. 19-20.
[26]
People v. Court of Appeals, 368 Phil. 169, 182 (1999).
[27]
Supra note 23.
[28]
People v. Court of Appeals, supra note 26.
[29]
People v. Court of Appeals, supra note 23, at 13.
tte