CIRCULAR NO.

17 - 95
TO

:

SUBJECT

:

THE COURT OF APPEALS, SANDIGANBAYAN, COURT OF TAX
APPEALS, REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS, SHARI'A DISTRICT COURTS,
METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN
CITIES, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS, MUNICIPAL CIRCUIT TRIAL
COURTS, SHARI'A CIRCUIT COURTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
A. M. NO. MTJ-93-874
AUGUSTUS L. MOMONGAN, Complainant vs. JUDGE RAFAEL B.
OMIPON, 6th MCTC: Hinunangan-Silago, Southern Leyte, Respondent

Quoted hereunder for the information and guidance of all concerned, is the pertinent portion of
the decision of the Third Division in A. M. No. MTJ-93-874 (AUGUSTUS L. MOMONGAN,
Petitioner versus JUDGE RAFAEL B. OMIPON, Respondent), dated March 14, 1995, to wit:
"A. M. No. MTJ-93-874, (AUGUSTUS L. MOMONGAN, Petitioner versus JUDGE RAFAEL
B. OMIPON, Respondent)
"xxx

xxx

xxx

xxx

"Complainant is correct in pointing out that based on Pres. Decree No. 705, Sec. 68-A
and Adm. Order No. 59, the DENR Secretary or his duly authorized representative has the power
to confiscate any illegally obtained or gathered forest products and all conveyances used in the
commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws.
However, as complainant himself likewise pointed out, this power is in relation to the
administrative jurisdiction of the DENR.
"We do not find that when respondent Judge released the truck after he conducted the
preliminary investigation and satisfied himself that there was no reason to continue keeping the
truck, he violated Pres. Decree No. 705 and Adm. Order No. 59. The release of the truck did not
render nugatory the administrative authority of the DENR Secretary. The confiscation
proceedings under Adm. Order No. 59 is different from the confiscation under the Revised Penal
6

6 SEC. 7. NOTICE TO OWNER. For the purpose only of complying with due process, the
Secretary, EED/PENRO/CENRO or their duly authorized representatives shall give the owner or
his representative a written notice of the seizure and shall give him an opportunity to be heard in
reference to the ground or reason for the seizure by requiring said owner or representative to
submit sworn statements or affidavits within three (3) days from receipt of such written notice or
they may elect to have a formal hearing conducted, but they must signify their intention in
writing within the same period. For the purpose of such notice and all proceedings connected
with confiscation, "representative" shall be deemed to Include not only representative-in-fact of
the owner but also any person having possession of the conveyance at the time of confiscation or
seizure.
SEC. 8. REPORT/RECOMMENDATION. Upon receipt of the aforesaid sworn
statement/affidavit of the owner or representative or if none Is received despite due notice, the
PENRO/CENRO or any authorized representative of the DENR for the matter shall determine if

Code, which is an additional penalty imposed in the event of conviction. Despite the order of
release, the truck can be seized again either by filing a motion for reinvestigation and motion to
include the truck owner/driver as co-accused, which complainant has done as manifested before
the lower-court or by enforcing Adm. Order No, 59. Section 12 thereof categorically states that
'[t]he confiscation of the conveyance under these regulations shall be without prejudice to any
criminal action which shall be filed, against the owner thereof or any person who used the
conveyance in the commission of the offense.'
"Petitioner is of the opinion that under the circumstances, respondent Judge should have
turned over the truck to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of
San Juan, Southern Leyte for appropriate disposition. No doubt, this would have simplified
matters and prevented the present situation from occurring wherein one government official files
a complaint against another. Under Sec. 4 of Adm. Order No. 59, if the apprehension is not made
by DENR field offices, deputized military personnel and officials of other agencies apprehending
illegal logs and other forest products and their conveyances shall notify the nearest DENR field
offices and turn over said forest products and conveyances for proper action and disposition. A
period of about two weeks lapsed, from the time the seizure was made before a complaint was
filed. During this period, the apprehending policemen had enough time to turn over the logs and
the truck to the nearest DENR field office for proper action and disposition since the duty to turn
over the truck to the nearest DENR field office rests on the officials apprehending the illegal
logs. There being no mandatory duty on the part of respondent Judge to turn over the truck, he
should not be visited with disciplinary sanction when he did not refer the same to the DENR
field office in San Juan, Southern Leyte.”
March 23, 1995.
(Sgd.) ERNANI CRUZ PANO
Court Administrator

the seized conveyance was used in the commission of the offense as contemplated in Section 2
hereof, and shall render a report thereon within one week accompanied by the evidence he has
gathered Including his recommendations to the Secretary or the Regional Executive Director, as
the case may be.
SEC. 9. DISPOSITION OF CONVEYANCE. All conveyances found to have been used in the
transport of any forest product from illegal sources and/or covered by spurious documents shall
be declared forfeited in favor of the government, in accordance with Sec. 68-A of PD 705, as
amended. Forfeited conveyances may be used, at the discretion of the DENR, in the forest
protection and development activities, otherwise, the same shall be disposed of through public
auction by the Secretary or the Regional Office, as the case may be, in accordance with existing
policies and procedures for the disposition of government property.

FIRST DIVISION

ERNESTO AQUINO,

G.R. No. 165448

Petitioner,
Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
- versus -

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BERSAMIN, JJ.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,

Promulgated:

Respondent.

July 27, 2009

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

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a petition for review 1[1] assailing the 5 June 1997
Decision2[2] and 24 September 2004 Resolution3[3] of the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. CR No. 17534.

1[1]

Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.

2[2]
Rollo, pp. 16-31. Penned by Associate Justice Eubulo G. Verzola with Associate Justices
Minerva
P. Gonzaga-Reyes and Hilarion L. Aquino, concurring.
3[3]
L.

Id. at 33-35. Penned by Associate Justice Eubulo G. Verzola with Associate Justices Jose
Sabio, Jr. and Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa, concurring.

The Antecedent Facts

On behalf of Teachers’ Camp, Sergio Guzman filed with the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) an application to cut down 14 dead
Benguet pine trees within the Teachers’ Camp in Baguio City. The trees, which
had a total volume of 13.37 cubic meters, were to be used for the repairs of
Teachers’ Camp.

On 19 May 1993, before the issuance of the permit, a team composed of
members from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office
(CENRO) and Michael Cuteng (Cuteng), a forest ranger of the Forest Section of
the Office of the City Architect and Parks Superintendent of Baguio City,
conducted an inspection of the trees to be cut.

Thereafter, Sabado T. Batcagan, Executive Director of the DENR, issued a
permit allowing the cutting of 14 trees under the following terms and conditions:

2.
That the cut timber shall be utilized as lumber and fuel-wood by
permittee;

3.

the

As replacement, the permittee shall plant one hundred forty (140) pine
seedlings in an appropriate place within the area. In the absence of
plantable area in the property, the same is required to plant within forest
area duly designated by CENRO concerned which shall be properly

That non-compliance with any of the above conditions or violations of forestry laws and regulations shall render this permit null and void without prejudice to the imposition of penalties in accordance with existing laws and regulations. The volume of the trees cut with permit was 13. Antonio Abellera.58 cubic meters while the volume 4[4] Records. This PERMIT is non-transferable and shall expire ten (10) days from issuance hereof or as soon as the herein authorized volume is exhausted whichever comes first. Series of 1987. p. Pablo Guinawan. and Cuteng supervising the cutting of the trees. out of which only 12 were covered by the permit. 190. No. 277.4[4] On 23 July 1993. 4. They also found sawyers Benedicto Santiago (Santiago) and Mike Masing (Masing) on the site.O. and 5.maintained and protected to ensure/enhance growth and development of the planted seedlings. Forest Rangers Ramil Windo. The forest rangers found 23 tree stumps. Daniel Salamo. together with Clemente Salinas (Salinas) and Andrew Nacatab (Nacatab). Moises Sobrepeña. who were also supervising the cutting of the trees. They proceeded to the site where they found Ernesto Aquino (petitioner). Violation of any of the conditions set hereof is punishable under Section 68 of PD 705 as amended by E. a forest ranger from CENRO. . and Forester Paul Apilis received information that pine trees were being cut at Teachers’ Camp without proper authority.

as follows: That on or about the 23rd day of July. without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations.45 at Teachers Camp. did then and there willfully. petitioner and Salinas were present. license or permit. conspiring. .55 M3 424 bd. Cuteng. Masing stated that he cut 10 pine trees under the supervision of petitioner who claimed to be in possession of the necessary permit. Series of 1989. 5[5] Revised Forestry Code.447./M3 and unit price – P26. and subsequent thereto.) and with a total forest charge of P11. Philippines.of the trees cut without permit was 16.6[6] Masing alleged that he was not aware of the limitations on the permit as he was not given a copy of the permit.00 bd. ft. unlawfully and feloniously cut nine (9) pine trees with a total volume and market price as P182.55 cubic meters.25 or having a total sum of P194.20 (Volume 16.280.25.447. 20. The market value of the trees cut without permit was P182. He stated that while he was cutting trees. Masing. 6[6] Rollo.833.20. and Santiago. ft. in the City of Baguio. and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. the above-named accused. and without any authority. confederating and mutually aiding one another. 05. 7055[5] (PD 705) was filed against petitioner.833. Nacatab. in violation of the aforecited law. p. He stated that three of the trees were stumps about four or five feet high and were not fit for lumber. particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Circular No. 1993. and the forest charges were P11. An Information for violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. Baguio City.

Paul Apilis. Cuteng testified that he was part of the team that inspected the trees to be cut before the permit was issued. . he still supervised the cutting of trees without procuring a copy of the vicinity map used in the inspection of the trees to be cut. Nacatab testified that he only went to Teachers’ Camp on 13 July 1993 and he saw Santiago and Masing cutting down the trees in petitioner’s presence.Santiago testified that he cut trees under petitioner’s supervision. He claimed that he could not prevent the overcutting of trees because he was just alone while Cuteng and Santiago were accompanied by three other men. However. Salinas testified that Masing and Santiago were merely hired as sawyers and they merely followed petitioner’s instructions. He stated that petitioner was in possession of the permit. that he was not aware of the trees covered by the permit. Petitioner alleged that he was sent to supervise the cutting of trees at Teachers’ Camp. six of which were cut into lumber while two were stumps and two were rotten. He stated that he cut 10 trees. He stated that the trees cut by Santiago were covered by the permit. He allegedly informed his superior.

to TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion temporal. Jr. dated February 4. are ordered released to them upon proper receipt therefor. to indemnify. jointly and severally. the accused ANDREW NACATAB y DODOY and MIKE MASING y GANAS are acquitted on reasonable doubt. and the cash bonds they deposited for their provisional liberty in the amount of P7. the Government in the amounts of P182. and to pay their proportionate shares in the costs. the Court finds and declares the accused ERNESTO AQUINO y ESTIPULAR. 1996 and February 23.00 each under O. with costs de oficio. Penned by Judge Salvador J.7[7] the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City. Nos. 11-18. Valdez. The chainsaw confiscated from the accused Santiago is hereby declared forfeited in favor of the Government. representing the market value of and forest charges on the Benguet pine trees cut without permit. ruled as follows: WHEREFORE.20 and P11.477. 8[8] Id.The Decision of the Trial Court In its 26 May 1994 Decision. 1994.833. On the other hand. . pp. 139605 and 139646.25.8[8] 7[7] CA rollo. respectively. at 17-18. as maximum.500. MICHAEL CUTENG y LESCAO and BENEDICTO SANTIAGO y DOCLES guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and hereby sentences EACH of them to suffer an indeterminate penalty of SIX (6) YEARS of prision correccional.R. SO ORDERED. Branch 5 (trial court). as minimum.

the decision of the court a quo is MODIFIED. eight (8) months. The appellant Ernesto Aquino is found guilty. 30-31. . pp. The trial court further ruled that the cutting of trees went beyond the period stated in the permit. as maximum.The trial court ruled that the trees cut exceeded the allowed number of the trees authorized to be cut. No costs. and one (1) day of reclusion temporal. Petitioner. The award of damages is deleted. SO ORDERED.9[9] 9[9] Rollo. Cuteng and Santiago appealed from the trial court’s Decision. The Decision of the Court of Appeals In its 5 June 1997 Decision. and is hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum. the Court of Appeals modified the trial court’s Decision as follows: WHEREFORE. to fourteen (14) years. The accused-appellants Benedicto Santiago and Michael Cuteng are hereby acquitted on reasonable doubt.

. In its 24 September 2004 Resolution. The Court of Appeals ruled that conspiracy was not sufficiently proven. The Court of Appeals further rejected petitioner’s contention that the law contemplated cutting of trees without permit. petitioner had the duty to supervise the cutting of trees and to ensure that the sawyers complied with the terms of the permit which only he possessed. The Court of Appeals rejected petitioner’s claim that he was restrained from taking a bolder action by his fear of Santiago because petitioner could have informed his superiors but he did not do so. Hence. the Court of Appeals denied the motion for lack of merit. The Court of Appeals ruled that the trees which were cut by the sawyers were not covered by the permit. The Court of Appeals ruled that while it was Teachers’ Camp which hired the sawyers. DENR. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. petitioner had control over their acts. the Court of Appeals found that the prosecution failed to prove Cuteng’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Court of Appeals likewise acquitted Santiago because he was only following orders as to which trees to cut and he did not have a copy of the permit. As such. while in this case there was a permit for cutting down the trees. the petition before this Court.The Court of Appeals ruled that as a forest guard or ranger of the CENRO.

while there is a question of fact when the doubt arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. 23 December 2008.The Issue The only issue in this case is whether petitioner is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 68 of PD 705. 159589.R. 10[10] For questions to be one of law. . The Solicitor General alleges that the petition should be denied because petitioner only raises questions of facts and not questions of law. G. No. Heirs of Fabio. the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence 10[10] Republic v. A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what the law is on a certain state of facts. The Ruling of this Court The petition has merit. We do not agree.

or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations. in addition to the penalty. collection or possession shall be liable. Cutting. that in the case of partnerships. be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. . gathering. or timber from alienable or disposable public land. associations. Section 68 of PD 705 provides: Section 68. they shall. to wit: (1)Cutting. Gathering and/or Collecting Timber or Other Forest Products Without License. collecting and removing timber or other forest 11[11] Id. or from private land. 12[12] Id. and if such officers are aliens.12[12] In this case.-Any person who shall cut.presented by the litigants. gathering.11[11] The resolution of the issue must rest solely on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. There are two distinct and separate offenses punished under Section 68 of PD 705. remove timber or other forest products from any forest land. shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: Provided. or corporations. without any authority. petitioner challenges his conviction under Section 68 of PD 705. the officers who ordered the cutting. collect. gather.

or from private land without any authority.products from any forest land. 170589. this could only make petitioner administratively liable for his acts. gather. 13[13] Revaldo v. or from private land. If at all. . collect or remove timber or other forest products from any forest land. without any authority. Petitioner could not likewise be convicted of conspiracy to commit the offense because all his coaccused were acquitted of the charges against them. No. G. Petitioner may have been remiss in his duties when he failed to restrain the sawyers from cutting trees more than what was covered by the permit. As the Court of Appeals ruled. petitioner was charged by CENRO to supervise the implementation of the permit. 16 April 2009. or timber from alienable or disposable public land. gathered.R. and (2)Possession of timber or other forest products without the legal documents required under existing forest laws and regulations. or timber from alienable or disposable public land. petitioner could have informed his superiors if he was really intimidated by Santiago. He was not in possession of the cut trees because the lumber was used by Teachers’ Camp for repairs. It is not enough to convict him under Section 68 of PD 705. collected or removed the pine trees within the contemplation of Section 68 of PD 705.13 [13] The provision clearly punishes anyone who shall cut. He was not the one who cut. In this case. People.

association. or is in possession of the pine trees. 17534. We SET ASIDE the 5 June 1997 Decision and 24 September 2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CAG. Petitioner Ernesto Aquino is ACQUITTED of the charge of violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. SO ORDERED.Neither could petitioner be liable under the last paragraph of Section 68 of PD 705 as he is not an officer of a partnership. gathering. CARPIO Associate Justice WE CONCUR: REYNATO S.R. PUNO Chief Justice Chairperson . or corporation who ordered the cutting. we GRANT the petition. Costs de officio. WHEREFORE. 705. or collection. CR No. ANTONIO T.

Article VIII of the Constitution. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO Associate Justice Associate Justice LUCAS P. 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 Court’s Division. CORONA TERESITA J.RENATO C. . BERSAMIN Associate Justice CERTIFICATION Pursuant to Section 13.

collection and/or possession. without license.R. The assailed Decision affirmed the judgment 4 of the Regional Trial Court of Romblon. which is considered timber or forest product.REYNATO S.: In denying this petition. CR-12815 promulgated on July 30. of lumber. petitioners seek to set aside the Decision 1 of the Court of Appeals 2 in CA-GR No. 1998 ALEJANDRO TAN. 115507 May 19. petitioners. PANGANIBAN. respondents. are prohibited and penalized under the Forestry Reform Code. and its Resolution 3 promugated on April 28. PUNO Chief Justice Republic SUPREME Manila of the Philippines COURT FIRST DIVISION G. 1994. as amended. the Court reiterates that the gathering. . vs. No. THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE COURT OF APPEALS. 1993. The Case In this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. J. ISMAEL RAMILO and FRED MORENO.

m. and sentences each of them to an indeterminate sentence of SIX (6) MONTHS. 705. as maximum. to FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS. about 8:00 p. PD 705 (Forestry Reform Code) as amended. 1990. the pieces of lumber were confiscated. ISMAEL RAMILO and CRISPIN CABUDOL GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal possession of lumber under the Information. In both instances. Said truck was driven by Crispin Cabudol. in the town proper of Cajidiocan. 1990. with the accessory penalties of the law. and sentences each of them to an indeterminate sentence of SIX (6) MONTHS. 277. about 6:30 p. on October 30. Again. SO ORDERED. Forest Guards Panadero and Rabino apprehended another dump truck with Plate No. to FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS. P. The preventive imprisonment which any of the accused may have suffered is credited in his favor to its full extent. Both motor vehicles. The Facts On October 26. with the accessory penalties of the law. 1989. thus. in an Information 7 which reads: . and to pay the costs.m. The truck was driven by Petitioner Fred Moreno. together with Ismael Ramilo. upon demand. as minimum. this time in Barangay Cambajao. Rocero with violation of Section 68. On March 16. in the complaint against petitioners for violation of Section 68. ISMAEL RAMILO and FRED MORENO GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal possession of lumber under the Information. this court finds: a) the accused ALEJANDRO TAN. 6 PD No. were owned by Petitioner Alejandro Tan. The Court further orders the confiscation of the lumber described in the aforesaid Informations in favor of the government. an employee of A & E Construction. Sibuyan Island. and b) the accused ALEJANDRO TAN. as amended by Executive Order No. dated March 16. disposed as follows: WHEREFORE. were charged by First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Felix R. as minimum. 1990. dated March 16. and to pay the costs. 277. presented to the forest guards. 705. as amended by Executive Order No. RPC. DEK-646 loaded with tanguile lumber.D. as maximum. caretaker and time keeper of A & E Construction. P. also an employee of A & E Construction. as well as the construction firm. The two (2) terms of imprisonment of each of the accused shall be served successively under Article 70. as amended by EO No. 1989.. 5 which. Tan and Moreno. Forest Guards Joseph Panadero and Eduardo Rabino intercepted a dump truck loaded with narra and white lauan lumber. Romblon.Branch 81. 705.D. no documents showing legal possession of the lumber were. under Section 68. 277. No. No. under Section 68.

8 Tan and Ramilo. Philippines. pursuant to Section 14. which requires the following legal documents: (1) an auxiliary invoice. assisted by counsel. Philippine currency. 763850 11 dated March 19. He added that he had inspected the lumber in question in the compound of A & E Construction or Cajidiocan Trading. the defense did not contest the above factual circumstances except to deny that the forest guards demanded. were arraigned on the basis of the aforementioned Informations. (5) convicting them despite the absence of the corpus delicti. (2) a certificate of origin. 1989.That on or about the 26th day of October. testified that the seized pieces of lumber were bought by Tan's Cajidiocan Trading. Ruling of Respondent Court of Appeals On appeal. 10 During the trial. at around 6:30 o'clock in the Poblacion. for their failure to comply with the Forestry Reform Code. confederating and mutually helping one another. and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. (2) ruling that their possession of the lumber were unauthorized or illegal. It convicted all the accused as charged. considering them as evidence of corpus delicti. (4) scale/tally sheets and (5) a lumber dealer permit. the director of forestry had granted Matzhou a Tree Recovery Permit covering the entire island of Sibuyan. Additionally. the accused assigned to the trial court these ten errors: (1) holding them liable under Section 68 of EO 277. one of the licensed lumber dealers in the island. On April 26. conspiring. 1989 incident.00. Rule 119 of the Rules of Court. from Matzhou Development Corporation ("Matzhou") which thus delivered to the former Auxiliary Invoice No. (8) . unlawfully and feloniously have in their possession and under their custody and control 13 pieces narra lumber about 171 board feet and 41 pieces tanguile lumber about 834 board feet valued at P8.724. (4) ruling that the accused did not have the necessary documents to make their possession legal. 9 The cases were thence jointly tried. 1990. 1987 issued by the Bureau of Internal Revenue office in Romblon. 277. province of Romblon. (3) a sales invoice.O. the said accused. municipality of Cajidiocan. Prisco Marin. did then and there willfully. papers or documents showing legal possession of the lumber. were also charged for the same violation in connection with the October 30. (6) admitting in evidence the alleged seizure receipts or. to the damage and prejudice of the government in the aforestated amount. 12 Ruling of the Trial Court The trial court brushed aside the version of the defense and ruled that the confiscated pieces of lumber which were admittedly owned by Accused Tan were not legitimate deliveries but aborted nocturnal hauling. According to Marin. In another Information. (7) finding that the deliveries were aborted nocturnal hauling. with intent of gain and without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations. where he was shown the auxiliary invoice covering the subject. all the accused. together with Crispin Cabudol. each pleaded not guilty. on either of the two occasions. who claimed to have been the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Bureau of Forest Development of Sibuyan. (3) retroactively applying E. assuming their admissibility.

thus gaining immunity for himself[?]" 14 As to the next three assigned errors which relied heavily on Prisco Marin's testimony. The two accused truck drivers who were caught in flagrante delicto were mere employees of Tan. 15 As to the fifth and sixth alleged errors. the constitutionality of said phrase was not passed upon. The seizure receipts merely served to corroborate their testimonies. 'the associated water' or fish" in EO 277. bark. he admitted that he made the inspection in December 1989. he admitted that in December 1989. he inspected the same confiscated lumber which were to be used for the repair of school building by A & E Construction in Sibuyan. The appellate tribunal noted that. beeswax. Respondent Court dismissed the said witness' account as "anything but credible. and (10) sustaining the constitutionality of EO 277." It added that Marin's testimony largely focused on a certification he made stating that. Absolutely of no concern to the petitioners. he had no business inspecting the lumberyard of Petitioner Tan. shrub. by then. it was Romulae Gadaoni who was already the highest forest officer in the island. five years ago. and even grass. 18 . no other than the admission of his caretaker or katiwala. for "what would prevent an illegal logger [from bringing] with him a portable saw and having the timber illegally cut/gathered [and] sawn right on the spot. hence. Ramilo testified that the deliveries of lumber on the subject dates (October 26 and 30. 17 The last assigned error was set aside by Respondent Court as unnecessary. Respondent Court ruled that corpus delicti does not refer literally to the object of the crime — in this case. was the alleged unconstitutionality of the inclusion of "firewood. the forest products possessed without the required legal documents. (9) ruling that the guilt of the accused was proved beyond reasonable doubt. As to the eighth. he had already been relieved of his position as OIC of the Bureau of Forest Development in Romblon. and that the latter owned said lumber. honey. But during the crossexamination. 1989) were made pursuant to the instruction of Tan. In fact. There being other grounds to resolve the case. the trucks and the construction firm. the Court of Appeals held petitioners' "artful distinction between timber and lumber" "to be fallacious and utterly unmeritorious. 13 As regards the first assigned error. 16 The seventh and ninth assigned errors were deemed answered in the foregoing discussions. who were caught in possession of lumber without the required legal documents. proved that Tan was involved in the conspiracy.convicting Alejandro Tan on the ground of conspiracy." It thereby upheld the solicitor general's manifestation that "forest products" include "wood" which is defined by Webster's Dictionary as "the hard fibrous substance beneath the back of trees and shrubs. Co-Accused Ramilo. including the admission of Defense Witness Ismael Ramilo. The fact that the crimes charged were perpetrated by the petitioners was credibly and amply proven by the detailed testomonies of the prosecution witnesses." Respondent Court succinctly ruled that to construe "sawn lumber" as not covered by "sawn timber" would defeat the evident intent and purpose of the law.

277 The impugned legal provision reads: Sec. associations or corporations. this petition. or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations. or timber from alienable or disposable public land. collection or possession shall be liable and if such officers are aliens. Hence. 1994 Resolution. however. shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: Provided. involve factual questions. The Court's Ruling The petition is not meritorious. Accordingly. construction should be in favor of the accused. in addition to the penalty. . Many of the errors raised. That in the case of partnerships. we shall rule on the following legal issues: (1) the constitutionality of Section 68 of EO 277. (2) the treatment by the lower court of lumber as timber and/or forest product within the contemplation of PD 705. or from private land without any authority.O. 19 The Issues Petitioners now ask this Court to likewise pass upon their foregoing submissions. Cutting. 20 We shall therefore limit our review only to questions of law.In their motion for reconsideration. be deported without further proceeding on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. remove timber or other forest products from any forest land. they shall. petitioners raised these additional grounds: (1) the Forestry Reform Code and the laws and regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) distinguish between timber and lumber and between lumber and other forest products. In its April 28. the officers who ordered the cutting. (2) the Informations alleged and the facts proved that lumber is not covered by the provision supposedly violated. gathering. assuming the propriety thereof. (3) judicial interpretation or construction may not be resorted to in order to fill a gap or clear an ambiguity in penal statutes and. Respondent Court found "no cogent reason for the reversal or modification" of its Decision. as amended. 68. (4) lack of documents for possession of lumber is not punishable under the law. the review of which is not within the ambit of this Court's functions. Gathering and/or Collecting Timber. — Any person who shall cut. 68. Preliminary Issue: Constitutionality of Sec. E. gather. and (3) the alleged retroactive application of EO 277. or other Forest Products Without License. particularly in this case where the findings of the trial court were affirmed by the appellate court and where petitioners failed to show any misappreciation of the evidence presented. and (5) the perceived weakness in the testimony of Defense Witness Prisco Marin should not strengthen the case for the prosecution. collect.

bark. therefore. only the cutting. Court of Appeals. among others. They are not asserting a legal right for which they are entitled to a judicial determination at this time. The question of whether lumber is excluded from the coverage of Section 68 of PD 705. Petitioners submit that the forest laws and regulations sufficiently differentiate between timber and lumber. gathered." which reads: . because it requires the possession of certain legal documents to justify "mere possession" of forest products which. bark. 22 A statute is always presumed to be constitutional. implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found. the latter is found in paragraph (aa) of the same section in the definition of "Processing plant. without compliance with established grading rules and standards. gathering. Petitioners aver that the above provision is violative of substantive due process. As explicitly provided in Section 68 of both PD 705 and EO 277 (the law that amended the former). beeswax. 'the associated water' or fish". and one who attacks it on the ground of unconstitutionality must convincingly prove its invalidity. of timber and other forest products are prohibited. Inc. includes. they did not present any convincing evidence of a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution that would justify the nullification of said provision.The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut. and even grass. as amended. shrub. flowering plant. It is only in Section 79 of the same law where the sale of lumber. collecting and/or possession. equipment. removed. honey. lumber is not timber or a forest product. and even grass. as amended. collected. under Section 3(q) of PD 705. beeswax. petitioners were not "charged with the [unlawful] possession of firewood. as well as the machinery. court should not construe lumber as timber. One of the essential requisites for a successful judicial inquiry into the constitutionality of a law is the existence of an actual case or controversy involving a conflict of legal rights susceptible of judicial determination. 24 in which this Court expressly ruled that "lumber is included in the term timber. thus. has been settled in Mustang Lumber. vs. While the former is included in forest products as defined in paragraph (q) of Section 3. 21 As Respondent Court of Appeals correctly pointed out. As expressly defined under Section 3(q) of PD 705. is prohibited. Besides." 25 We quote at length the Court's discussion: The Revised Forestry Code contains no definition of either timber of lumber. shrub. 'the associated water' or fish" and penalizes failure to present such required documents. without license. honey. or possessed. Is Lumber Considered Timber or Forest Product? Petitioners contend that possession of manufactured lumber is not punishable under the Forestry Reform Code. "firewood. 23 Main Issue: Under PD 705 and EO 277. the inclusion of any of these enumerated items in EO 277 "is absolutely of no concern" to petitioners.

26 Mustang was recently reiterated in Lalican vs. owned by Petitioner Tan. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguire debemus. wallboard. paper or other finished wood products. lumber is defined. lumber is a processed log or timber. Neither do we. First. to mention lumber in the aforesaid section would simply result in tautology. because the seized lumber had been lawfully possessed by Cajidiocan Trading since March 1987. This simply means that lumber is a processed log or processed forest raw material. No evidence was presented to . that the alleged ownership thereof by Cajidiocan Trading was brought out. 68 would certainly emasculate the law itself. plywood. And insofar as possession of timber without the required legal documents is concerned. machine or combination of machine used for the processing of logs and other forest raw materials into lumber. ordinary. words and phrases used in a statute should be given their plain. After all. Vergara. . under American jurisprudence. pulp. In fact. the supposed sale of the subject lumber by Matzhou to Cajidiocan Trading. the phrase 'forest product' is broad enough to encompass lumber which. in turn. or more than two and a half years prior to the apprehension and seizure that gave rise to this case. Petitioner Ramilo and the drivers openly claimed that the lumber and the trucks belonged to A & E Construction which was. lumber has been legally accepted as a term referring to the manufactured product of logs 28 or to timber sawed or split into marketable form. 1987. In addition. especially for use in buildings. occurred in March 1987. as "timber or logs after being prepared for the market. Second. we find no error in the holding of both lower courts. is manufactured timber" Indeed. . and common usage meaning. as amended. It is settled that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary. No. to reiterate. 29 Consistent with Mustang. 27 where we also said that "'[t]o exclude possession of 'lumber' from the acts penalized in Sec. blackboard. Clearly. makes no distinction between raw or processed timber. Clearly. In the 1993 copyright edition of Webster's Third New International Dictionary. Corollary Issue: No Retroactive Application of EO 277 Petitioners insist that EO 277 is not applicable to them.D. while the amendatory law was issued only on July 25. petitioners are liable for violation of Section 68 of the Forestry Reform Code. as amended. paper board. veneer. It was only during the course of the trial. Section 68 of P. as evidenced by the auxiliary invoice. . and took effect fifteen days after publication.(aa) Processing plant is any mechanical set-up. This strained reasoning deserves scant consideration. inter alia." Simply put. It is highly doubtful if the lumber bought at the earlier date was the very same lumber confiscated in October 1989. 705. at no time during the apprehensions did petitioners claim that the lumber belonged to Cajidiocan Trading. through the testimony of Prisco Marin (characterized by the appellate court as "anything but credible"). the Code uses the term lumber in its ordinary or common usage.

shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: Provided. or from private land without any authority. 6 "Sec. the petition is DENIED for utter lack of merit. 49-66. Petitioners' unlawful possession of the subject lumber occurred in October 1989. removed. Nothing will prevent the indictment of petitioners for violation of EO 277 at the time they were caught by the forest guards in flagrante delicto. 98. or other Forest Products Without License. equipment. concurring. JJ. Guingona. Serafin V.C. EO 277. Marquez.. gathering. CA Footnotes 1 Rollo.overcome this veritable doubt. Antonio M. pp. or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations. The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut. collect. (3) delivery receipt. gather. 3 Rollo. 5 Preside by Judge Placido C. Inc. Jr. p. I reiterate my separate opinion in Mustang Lumber. That in the case of partnerships. (4) tally sheet. Martinez. they shall. 4 Ibid. or possessed. forest laws and regulations also require the following documents: (1) certificate of lumber origin. Vitug. and absence of malice or criminal intent will not save the day for them. 30 None of these documents were proffered in court or elsewhere. as well as the machinery. 67-78. Costs against petitioners.. (2) sales invoice. Davide. Gathering and/or Collecting Timber. 68. Third and most important. implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found. pp. chairman and now a member of this Court. the officers who ordered the cutting.. Bellosillo and Quisumbing. had already been issued and in effect more than two years previous thereto. — Any person who shall cut. assuming that indeed they were the very same lumber. and Eubulo G. which specifically included "possession" of timber and other forest products within the contemplation of PD 705." . concur. Verzola. be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. collected. v. remove timber or other forest products from any forest land.. collection or possession shall be liable and if such officers are aliens. associations or corporations. Cutting. or timber from alienable or disposable public land. The prohibited act is a malum prohibitum. and (5) certificate of transport agreement. in addition to the penalty. gathered. 2 Twelfth Division composed of JJ. 31 WHEREFORE. The questioned Decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. J. ponente. SO ORDERED.

p.J. rollo p. Caleon vs. 230 SCRA 119. 224 SCRA 236. February 16.C. 19 This case was deemed submitted for resolution on April 27.. July 1.E. 16 Ibid.S. 11 Exh. June 18. 123 S.R. §1. p. July 31. 108619. 207 SCRA 1. 1746. pp. Branch 88.E. 1746. 25A. 11 & 13. Court of Appeals. rollo. p. April 7. 1037. 54. Vol. 1745. per Davide Jr. J.L. 1994.. 18 Ibid. p. 1998 when the Court noted the letter dated December 12. ibid. vs. 26 At pp.1745. 1. 82 S. 17. 8. March 5. 207 SCRA 748. Case No. 1. 519. Case No. Also in McKinney vs. . Case No. p. pp. 202 SCRA 779. records for Crim. 138 Va. 576. Fernandez vs. 1992. 166 N. 53. vs. 327. RTC of Romblon. p. 1039. 124 Me. records for Crim.. p. 1996. 1997 of Sheriff Nowell Lim. October 15. 25 At p. Faison. 17 Ibid. 20 Gobonseng Jr. 39 A. 1997. Case No. p. 6. 1746. 246 SCRA 472. Court of Appeals. Co. 5. 1993. J.7 Docketed as Crim. 8 Docketed as Crim. cited in Words & Phrases. 448. and for Crim. 10 RTC Decision. 27 GR No. p. 15 Assiled Decision. rollo. 16-17.. Romblon and that their bail bonds are current. Vol. 7.10. 665.. Commission on Elections. 21 Macasiano vs. 1992. 1745. 23 National Pres Club vs. 1991. 128 A. 15.. 448-449. July 17. 2-3. p. 9 Records for Crim. 536. 1995. p. 41A. 739. pp. Case No. 68-69. pp. "1". Craddock Mfg. Agus Development Corporation. p. 73. 535. 12 RTC decision. 14 Ibid. National Housing Authority. pp.. 343. 24 257 SCRA 430. 22 Dimaporo vs. 1036. stating that the accused are residing in Cajidiocan. Matthews. 13-14. 1745. Case No. Mitra Jr. cited in Words & Phrases. Case No. citing White's Case. 116. per Romero. 13 Assailed Decision. records for Crim. 14. p. 28 54 C.

. pp. 31 Lim vs. Court of Appeals. * As replacement of Justice Teresita J. . Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 673. Leonardo-De Castro who is on official leave per Special Order No. citing American Tie & Timber Co. 99 C. Co. Kansas City Southern R. CARPIO.29 Ibid. May 18. No. Texas. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. C.. 13-14. 44. 184098 Petitioner. -versus- CORONA. CA Rollo. G. Legal Affairs Office. 30 Primer on Illegal Logging. 222 SCRA 279. FIRST DIVISION AMADO TAOPA. De Gracia. People vs.A. 162-163. Present: PUNO. vs. p. AZCUNA and TINGA. 1994. pp. Chairperson. 28.R. 233 SCRA 716.J. 175 F.C. July 6. JJ. 539. 1993.

The lumber was covered with bundles of abaca fiber to prevent detection.............. J. 1996.... Catanduanes.. Catanduanes seized a truck loaded with illegally-cut lumber and arrested its driver... 2008 x ..Respondent. Promulgated: November 25.... The information against them read: 14[1] Revised Forestry Code. Cuison pointed to petitioner Amado Taopa and a certain Rufino Ogalesco as the owners of the seized lumber.. . 705. the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Virac.............. Placido Cuison..-x R E S O LUTIO N CORONA...14[1] as amended. On investigation...... in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Virac.: On April 2.. Ogalesco and Cuison were thereafter charged with violating Section 68 of Presidential Decree (PD) No.. Taopa..

EAS 839 and have in their control forest products. 27. did then and there.684) board feet with an approximate value of NinetyNine Thousand One Hundred Twenty (Php99.120. without any authority and/or legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations. criminally possess. Ogalesco and Cuison pleaded not guilty on arraignment. In view of the foregoing. 16[3] Rollo. and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court.16[3] 15 [2] Rollo. ACTS CONTRARY TO LAW. p. the RTC found them guilty as charged beyond reasonable doubt. After trial on the merits. hereby sentences both of them to suffer imprisonment from ten (10) years and one (1) day as minimum to twenty (20) years as maximum. Accused Placido Cuison GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as accessory to the crime by transporting the lumber materials in his truck covered by bundles of abaca fiber. transport in a truck bearing Plate No.00) Pesos. this Court finds: Accused Amado Taopa and Rufino Ogalesco GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as principal of the crime charged and applying Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code and the Indeterminate Sentence Law. 30-31. confederating and helping one another.That on or about the 2nd day of April 1996 at around 9:00 o’clock in the morning at Barangay Capilihan. with intent to possess. willfully. pp. and hereby . Province of Catanduanes.15[2] Taopa. which is akin to concealing the body of the crime in order to prevent its discovery. Philippines. particularly one hundred thirteen (113) pieces of lumber of Philippine Mahogany Group and Apitong species with an aggregate net volume of One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty Four (1. prejudicial to the public interest. conspiring. the above-named accused. The dispositive portion of the RTC decision read: WHEREFORE. Municipality of Virac. Philippine Currency. unlawfully.

pp. applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law. the Decision appealed from is REVERSED with respect to accused-appellant Placido Cuison. 30380. Catanduanes. Cuison was acquitted but Taopa’s conviction was affirmed. Penned by Associate Justice Marina L. 18 [5] Decision dated January 31. Punzalan Castillo of the Third Division of the Court of Appeals. hence.18[5] sentences him to suffer an imprisonment. SO ORDERED.Only Taopa and Cuison appealed the RTC decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). 26-40. The lumber materials are likewise confiscated in favor of the government to be disposed of through public auction sale to be conducted by the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Provincial Sheriff of the Regional Trial Court of Virac. Buzon and concurred in by Associate Justices Rosmari D. 17 [4] Despite Ogalesco’s failure to appeal. Rollo. who is ACQUITTED of the crime charged on reasonable doubt. 14. from two (2) years four (4) months and one (1) day as minimum to eight (8) years eight (8) months and one (1) day as maximum. 17[4] The dispositive portion of the CA decision read: WHEREFORE. The motion for reconsideration thereto was denied in a Resolution dated July . Rollo. and MODIFIED with respect to accused-appellants Amado Taopa and Rufino Ogalesco by reducing the penalty imposed on them to four (4) years. as maximum. SO ORDERED. the maximum period of which is two (2) degrees lower than that of the principal and the minimum period of which is one (1) degree lower. The truck. p. Carandang and Mariflor P. 2008 in CA-G. CR No. which was included in the Seizure Receipt is ordered released to its owner inasmuch as the evidence proved that it was hired purposely for the transport of abaca fibers and not lumber materials.R. the CA held that the modification of the penalty will benefit him pursuant to Section 11 (a). as minimum. Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. to ten (10) years of prision mayor. nine (9) months and eleven (11) days of prision correccional.

the fact that Taopa and Ogalesco 28. 2008. 56-58.19[6] Taopa seeks his acquittal from the charges against him. In particular. We deny the petition. the RTC and the CA found that the truck was loaded with the cargo in front of Taopa’s house and that Taopa and Ogalesco were accompanying the truck driven by Cuison up to where the truck and lumber were seized. Moreover. Rollo. He alleges that the prosecution failed to prove that he was one of the owners of the seized lumber as he was not in the truck when the lumber was seized. Both the RTC and the CA gave scant consideration to Taopa’s alibi because Cuison’s testimony proved Taopa’s active participation in the transport of the seized lumber. . These facts proved Taopa’s (and Ogalesco’s) exercise of dominion and control over the lumber loaded in the truck. pp. The acts of Taopa (and of his coaccused Ogalesco) constituted possession of timber or other forest products without the required legal documents.In this petition. 19[6] Under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

or Other Forest Products without License. 398 Phil. 20[7] refers to Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for the penalties to be imposed on violators. – Any person who shall xxx possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code.R. People. Section 68 of PD 705. collecting and possessing timber or other forest products without license as an offense as grave as and equivalent to the felony of qualified theft. No. Dator. Violation of Section 68 of PD 705. 12 June 2008 citing People v. Cutting. gathering. 109. . However. Articles 309 and 310 read: 20 [7] Section 68 provides: “Sec. we disagree with both the RTC and CA as to the penalty imposed on Taopa. Gathering and/or Collecting Timber.” 21 [8] Merida v. 21[8] The law treats cutting. as amended. is punished as qualified theft. G. 68. as amended. 124 (2000).ran away at the mere sight of the police was likewise largely indicative of guilt. 158182. We are thus convinced that Taopa and Ogalesco were owners of the seized lumber.

p. The CA thus provided a breakdown of the values for a more correct computation of the penalties to be imposed on the accused. 310. if the value of the thing stolen is more 12. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods. [9] .22 [9] Following Article 310 in relation to Article 309. which was prepared by Forest Ranger Jose San Roque.630. The actual market value of the 113 pieces of seized lumber was P67.000 pesos. the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal. but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount. as the case may be. Penalties.Art.940 and 300% surcharges in the amount of P23. However.120 was arrived at by adding regular forest charges in the amount of P7. and one year for each additional ten thousand pesos. the imposable penalty should be reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods or a period ranging from 14 years. states that the market value of the 113 pieces of lumber is only P67. eight months and one day to 20 years plus an additional period of four years for the excess of P47.630. 22 The CA did not contest the correctness of the value as stated in the information. the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph.120 was inclusive of surcharges and forest charges. 309. but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. (emphasis supplied) 2. 39.000 pesos but does not exceed 22. The relevant portion of the CA decision reads: “The Statement of Lumber Apprehended.”Rollo. – The crime of theft shall be punished by the penalties next higher by two degrees than those respectively specified in the next preceding articles xxx (emphasis supplied). In such cases. It appears that that the amount of P99.630. xxx Art. – Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by: 1. Qualified theft. and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code.820 to the market value of the lumber pegged at P67.[63]0. the CA clarified that the value of the lumber pegged at P99.

xxx” 24 [11] The medium period is imposed following Article 64 of the RPC which states: “When there is neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances. 93028.” Although PD No. five months and 11 days to 18 years. G. in imposing a prison sentence for an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code. Hence. The maximum term shall be the sum of the additional four years and the medium period24[11] of reclusion temporal in its medium and maximum periods or 16 years. could be properly imposed under the rules of the said Code. 23 [10] Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law (RA 4103) provides: “SECTION 1. two months and 21 days of reclusion perpetua. In this case.The minimum term of the indeterminate sentence 23[10] imposable on Taopa shall be the penalty next lower to that prescribed in the RPC. No. The maximum term therefore may be anywhere between 16 years. . and the minimum which shall be within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense. they shall impose the penalty prescribed by law in its medium period. Simon. 234 SCRA 555. Hereafter. 705 is a special law. 29 July 1994. the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence the maximum term of which shall be that which. the penalties therein were taken from the RPC. or its amendments. in view of the attending circumstances. five months and 11 days of reclusion temporal to 22 years. the minimum term shall be anywhere between 10 years and one day to 14 years and eight months or prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in its minimum period. This is pursuant to People v. two months and 21 days of reclusion temporal.R. the rules in the RPC for graduating by degrees or determining the period should be applied.

RENATO C. 705. 30380 are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. with the accessory penalties provided for by law. as amended. CORONA Associate Justice WE CONCUR: . 2008 resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. SO ORDERED. Petitioner Amado Taopa is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 68 of PD No. 2008 decision and July 28. to 20 years of reclusion temporal as maximum. the petition is hereby DENIED. as minimum.R. The January 31. CR No. and sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from 10 years and one day of prision mayor.WHEREFORE.

AZCUNA Associate Justice . TINGA Associate Justice C E R T I FI C AT I O N ADOLFO S. PUNO Chief Justice Chairperson ANTONIO T.REYNATO S. CARPIO Associate Justice DANTE O.

No. Present: . REYNATO S. PUNO Chief Justice SECOND DIVISION GALO MONGE. G. Article VIII of the Constitution. I certify that the conclusions in the above resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.Pursuant to Section 13.R. 170308 Petitioner.

.* TINGA.CARPIO. JR. and VELASCO. JJ. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. Quisumbing who is on official leave per Administrative Circular No. AZCUNA.. . 2008 x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------x * *As replacement of Justice Leonardo A.versus - CARPIO MORALES. 84-2007. Respondent. Acting Chairperson. Promulgated: March 7.

Dacudao and Japar B.: This is a Petition for Review 25[1] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court whereby petitioner Galo Monge (petitioner) assails the Decision 26[2] of the Court of Appeals dated 28 June 2005 which affirmed his conviction as well as the discharge of accused Edgar Potencio (Potencio) as a state witness. id. 25249.27 [3] Petitioner fled the scene in that instant whereas Potencio was brought to the 25[1]Rollo. 26 [2]Docketed as CA-G. The factual antecedents follow. pp. Dimaampao. 12-14. 23 July 1999.RESOLUTION TINGA. the tanods demanded that they be shown the requisite permit and/or authority from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) but neither petitioner nor Potencio was able to produce any. CR No. 10-25. Right there and then. The decision was penned by Associate Justice Edgardo F. J. 27 [3]TSN. On 20 July 1994. Iriga City. petitioner and Potencio were found by barangay tanods Serdan and Molina in possession of and transporting three (3) pieces of mahogany lumber in Barangay Santo Domingo. at 65-77. 4-5. .R. pp. Sundiam and concurred in by Associate Justices Renato C.

totaling 77 board feet of mahogany valued at P1. 68.31[7] An information was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Iriga City.00. be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. but Potencio’s whereabouts had been unknown since the time of the seizure 30[6] until he surfaced on 3 January 1998. p. 31[7]TSN. 32 [8]SEC. association or corporation. 30[6]The warrant of arrest against Potencio dated 10 March 1997 was returned unserved. had been seized from Potencio. 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code : Provided. and if such officers are aliens. without any authority under a license agreement. The sheriff’s return stated that Potencio “has escaped from custody and was in Manila. lease’ license or permit shall be punished with the penalty imposed under Arts.”id. p. gather. 157.police station for interrogation. 16. to the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (DENR-CENRO). gathering or collecting shall be liable. . p. the officers who ordered the cutting. Branch 35 charging petitioner and Potencio with violation of Section 6832[8] of 28[4]Rollo.925.29[5] Later on. Cutting. That in the case of partnership. or timber from alienable or disposable public land or from private land whose title has no limitation on the disposition of forest products found therein. collect or remove timber or other forest products from any forest land. 29[5]Records. at 48. petitioner was arrested. gathering and/or collecting timber or other products without license – Any person who shall cut. 67. 30 January 1998. 28[4] The DENRCENRO issued a seizure receipt for the three pieces of lumber indicating that the items. they shall in addition to the penalty. and thereafter.

34[10]Records. 389. p. transport and have in their possession three (3) pieces of Mahogany of assorted [dimension] with a[n] appropriate volume of seventy-seven (77) board feet or point eighteen (0. 705.Presidential Decree (P. to the damage and prejudice of the DENR in the aforesaid amount. 33[9]REVISING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. but subject to the payment of the corresponding forest charges. . collected or removed from a license area shall be delivered to the licensee. lessee or permitee in whose area the forest products were cut. without any authority of law. series of 1997. gathered. gathered. Iriga City. free from claims of the illegal cutter.925.18) cubic meter with a total market value of P1. regulation or policy on the matter. That the timber or forest products cut.) No. implements and tools used therein and the forfeiture of his improvements in the area: Provided. in Barangay Sto. confederating with each other. Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. collected or removed. equipment. the same may be confiscated in favor of the government to be disposed in accordance with law. Should the licensee refuse to accept the products. did then and there willfully. Domingo.D. the above-named accused. The inculpatory portion of the information reads: That on or about the 20th day of [July 1994].33[9] as amended by Executive Order (E. 1.O. at about 9:30 o’clock in the morning. gathered.34[10] The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or forest products so cut. 277.00. collected or removed as well as the machinery.) No. conspiring. nor armed with necessary permit/license or other documents. unlawfully and feloniously. Philippine currency. with intent to gain. OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE FORESTRY REFORM CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES. CONTRARY TO LAW.

39[15]Id.39[15] 35 [11]Id. 37[13]Id. Serdan testified on the circumstances of the apprehension but for failing to appear in court for cross examination. to assist him in hauling the same down from the mountain.At the 26 November 1996 arraignment. 35 [11] Trial ensued. at 215. On 17 June 1997. The decision of the Court of Appeals stated that accused Edgar Potencio had been arraigned. at 217-218. at 76. at 24-25. He lamented that contrary to what Potencio had stated in court. Potencio was discharged to be used as a state witness on motion of the prosecutor.38[14] Petitioner did not contest the allegations. his testimony was stricken out. . Potencio’s testimony was materially corroborated by Molina. contrary to what is kept in the records as the Certificate of Arraignment and the Order of Arraignment indicate that only petitioner Galo Monge had been arraigned. except that it was not he but Potencio who owned the lumber. 38[14]Id. it was the latter who hired him to bring the log from the site to the sawmill where the same was to be sawn into pieces. petitioner entered a negative plea. at 215-217.36[12] On 16 January 1998. the owner of the log. 36 [12]Id. he testified on the circumstances of the arrest but claimed that for a promised fee he was merely requested by petitioner.37[13] Accordingly.

Petitioner was imposed nine (9) years. 41 [17]CA rollo. petitioner elevated the case to the Court of Appeals where he challenged the discharge of Potencio as a state witness on the ground that the latter was not the least guilty of the offense and that there was no absolute necessity for his testimony. hence the present appeal whereby petitioner reiterates his challenge against the discharge of Potencio. 40 [16]Id. However. 40. at 220-221. it modified the penalty to an indeterminate prison sentence of six (6) years of prision correccional as minimum to ten (10) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor as maximum. .41[17] The appellate court dismissed this challenge and affirmed the findings of the trial court.40[16] Aggrieved. 42 [18]Id. four (4) months and one (1) day to ten (10) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor in its medium and maximum periods and ordered to pay the costs.The trial court found petitioner guilty as charged. p.42[18] His motion for reconsideration was denied. at 108.

the owner of the lumber. But in his attempt to exonerate himself from liability. gathering. 333 Phil. Petitioner and Potencio were caught in flagrante delicto transporting. or from private land without any authority. No. gathering. 582. In the first offense. 705. collecting 43 [19]People v.O.The petition is utterly unmeritorious. Section 3 thereof materially requires that the transport of lumber be accompanied by a certificate of lumber origin duly issued by the DENR-CENRO. criminalizes two distinct and separate offenses. however. he claims that it was Potencio. gathering. namely: (a) the cutting. and (b) the possession of timber or other forest products without the legal documents required under existing laws and regulations. 594 (1996). Petitioner has never denied this fact. the legality of the acts of cutting.D. collecting and removing of timber or other forest products from any forest land. 277. as amended by E. Que. collecting or removing timber or other forest products may be proven by the authorization duly issued by the DENR. The contention is unavailing. 59 series of 1993 specifies the documents required for the transport of timber and other forest products. . or timber from alienable or disposable public land. who requested his assistance in hauling the log down from the mountain and in transporting the same to the sawmill for processing. processed mahogany lumber without proper authority from the DENR. 43[19] DENR Administrative Order No. In the second offense. No. and thus in possession of. Section 68 of P. it is immaterial whether or not the cutting.

People v.D. The direct and affirmative testimony of Molina and Potencio as a state witness on the circumstances surrounding the apprehension well establishes petitioner’s liability. is illegal.45[21] In other words. No. 333 Phil.44[20] It is thus clear that the fact of possession by petitioner and Potencio of the subject mahogany lumber and their subsequent failure to produce the requisite legal documents. Tan v. 352 Phil. People. P. taken together. 46[22]Id. 705. has already given rise to criminal liability under Section 68 of P. Que. in prosecutions under its provisions. Dator. mere possession of timber or other forest products without the proper legal documents. 46[22] It would therefore make no 44 [20]Id. 738 (1998). particularly the second act punished thereunder. even absent malice or criminal intent.and removal of forest products are legal precisely because mere possession of forest products without the requisite documents consummates the crime.D. claims of good faith are by no means reliable as defenses because the offense is complete and criminal liability attaches once the prohibited acts are committed. 121 (2000). As such. 109. 594 (1996). Petitioner cannot take refuge in his denial of ownership over the pieces of lumber found in his possession nor in his claim that his help was merely solicited by Potencio to provide the latter assistance in transporting the said lumber. 398 Phil. 724. No. 45 [21]People v. . 582. 705 is a special penal statute that punishes acts essentially malum prohibitum..

difference at all whether it was petitioner himself or Potencio who owned the subject pieces of lumber. Petitioner’s challenge against Potencio’s discharge as a state witness must also fail. Considering the overwhelming body of evidence pointing to nothing less than petitioner’s guilt of the offense charged. Not a few cases established the doctrine that the discharge of an accused so he may turn state witness is left to the . there is no cogent reason to reverse his conviction.

R. after requiring the prosecution to present evidence and the sworn statement of each proposed state witness at a hearing in support of the discharge. 49[25]Yu v. it being competent to resolve issues of fact. 371 Phil. 26 August 1993. (d) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty. 30 June 2006. No. his sworn statement shall be inadmissible in evidence. If the court denies the motion for discharge of the accused as state witness. 225 SCRA 644. RTC of Tagaytay City. 494 SCRA 101. 100592. the court is satisfied that: (a) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested. People v. The discretionary judgment of the trial court with respect this highly factual issue is not to be interfered with by the appellate courts except in case of grave abuse of discretion. Presiding Judge. Armada. (c) The testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points. 116. 713. 724 (1999).49[25] No such grave abuse is present in this case. 48[24]Sec. 17. Br. upon motion of the prosecution before resting its case. Thus. except the testimony of said accused. People v. – When two or more persons are jointly charged with the commission of any offense. and (e) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude. Jr. Flores v. The Honorable Presiding Judge. 47 [23]Yu v. Discharge of accused to be state witness. Sandiganbayan. . G. the court may direct one or more of the accused to be discharged with their consent so that they may be witnesses for the state when. 647. G. (b) There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed. whether the accused offered to be discharged appears to be the least guilty and whether there is objectively an absolute necessity for his testimony are questions that lie within the domain of the trial court.. 116. 84 (1983).exercise of the trial court’s sound discretion47[23] limited only by the requirements set forth in Section 17. 48[24] Rule 119 of the Rules of Court. No. Evidence adduced in support of the discharge shall automatically form part of the trial. 209 Phil. 89. 142848. supra note 23. 18. Sison.R.

108.51[27] Once the discharge is ordered by the trial court. 215 SCRA 102. Discharge of accused operates as acquittal. Sison. an order discharging an accused from the information in order that he may testify for the prosecution has the effect of an acquittal. Rule 119. Inductivo. 52[28]Rosales v. in moving for the discharge and of the court in granting the motion—no question of jurisdiction being involved—will not deprive the discharged accused of the benefit of acquittal and of his right against double jeopardy. supra citing U. G. any future development showing that any or all of the conditions provided in Section 17. Rule 119 have not actually been fulfilled will not affect the legal consequence of an acquittal. therefore. 80418-19.—The order indicated in the preceding section shall amount to an acquittal of the discharged accused and shall be a bar to future prosecution for the same offense.50[26] Moreover and more importantly. 23 October 1992.Suffice it to say that issues relative to the discharge of an accused must be raised in the trial court as they cannot be addressed for the first time on appeal. Sec. 40 Phil 84 (1919). . 51 [27]RULES OF COURT. 18 states: Sec. unless the accused fails or refuses to testify against his co-accused in accordance with his sworn statement constituting the basis for his discharge.S. Nos. A contrary rule would certainly be unfair to the 50 [26]People v. 18. Court of Appeals.R. v.52[28] Any witting or unwitting error of the prosecution.

the only instance where the testimony of a discharged accused may be disregarded is when he deliberately fails to testify truthfully in court in accordance with his commitment. Son. 30 Phil. No. 104 SCRA 724. Inc. 82 Phil. WHEREFORE. Rule 119. . No. Potencio lived up to his commitment and for that reason. the petition is DENIED and the assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED. 209 SCRA 329. It is inconceivable that the rule has adopted the abhorrent legal policy of placing the fate of the discharged accused at the mercy of anyone who may handle the prosecution. SO ORDERED. People v.discharged accused because he would then be faulted for a failure attributable to the prosecutor. 740. 739. L-31084. 27 May 1992. petitioner’s challenge against his discharge must be dismissed. 425 (1915). 53[29]People v. 53[29] Indeed.R.54[30] as provided for in Section 18. 80268. 54 [30]Bogo-Medellin Milling Co.. 416. 29 May 1981. G. De Guzman. v. Tabayoyong. Mendiola. 746 (1949). United States v.

TINGA Associate Justice WE CONCUR: ANTONIO T. CARPIO Associate Justice Acting Chairperson CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES Associate Justice ADOLFO S. Associate Justice ATTESTATION I attest that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.DANTE O. AZCUNA Associate Justice PRESBITERO J. JR. . VELASCO.

REYNATO S. it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Resolution had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division. March 17. 2000] . and the Acting Division Chairperson’s Attestation.R. CARPIO Associate Justice Acting Chairperson CERTIFICATION Pursuant to Section 13. No. PUNO Chief Justice SECOND DIVISION [G. 131270.ANTONIO T. Article VIII of the Constitution.

and by EO No. What is more. shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code: Provided. or corporations. Branch 8. assisted by elements of the Philippine National Police. 56[2] Renumbered §78 by Republic Act No. gathered. as amended) by the Regional Trial Court. (As amended by PD No. they shall. equipment. vs. the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office in Bukidnon received reports that illegally cut lumber was being delivered to the warehouse of the Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation in Valencia. Valencia on the strength of a warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court. be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation. give credit to the receipts considering that R. 277. removed. Bukidnon. J. 57[3] Cutting. gathering. however. L. . 55 56 57 The facts are as follows: Sometime in the latter part of 1992.A. Rivero Lumberyard of Maramag. petitioner. or Other Forest Products Without License. collection or possession shall be liable.Any person who shall cut. dated March 6 and 17. prom. Malaybalay. concurred in by Justices B. No. The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut.L. Gonzaga-Reyes (now Associate Justice of this Court). As proof that the company had acquired the lumber by purchase. Malaybalay. in addition to the penalty. or possessed. Branch 8. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES. collected. 1987. or timber from alienable or disposable public land. Rivero Lumberyard's permit to operate had long been suspended. or from private land. associations. collect.1559. implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found. 7161. without any authority. raided the company's warehouse in Poblacion. That in the case of partnerships. Bukidnon and found a large stockpile of lumber of varying sizes cut by a chain saw. 705.PERFECTO PALLADA. Joä spped 55[1] Per Justice Minerva P.: This is a petition for review of the decision [1] of the Court of Appeals affirming petitioner's conviction of illegal possession of lumber in violation of §68 [2] of the Revised Forestry Code [3] (P. remove timber or other forest products from any forest land. The DENR officers did not. the pieces of lumber were cut by chain saw and thus could not have come from a licensed sawmill operator. DENR officers. Bukidnon. emphasis added). 1992. . Demetria. Gathering and/or Collecting Timber. the officers who ordered the cutting. Bukidnon. The company is engaged in rice milling and trading. and if such officers are aliens. gather. petitioner produced two receipts issued by R. July 25. Adefuin-Dela Cruz and Demetrio C. respondent. or possess timber or other forest products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations. Sppedâ DECISION MENDOZA. as well as the machinery.D.

petitioner Pallada refused to sign for the seizure orders issued by the DENR officers (Exhs. Company president Francisco Tankiko and a certain Isaias Valdehueza. Bukidnon. 1994. Philippines. 705. with intent of gain. September 29.954. together with Noel Sy. municipality of Valencia.O. worth P488. and Isaias Valdehueza. was taken and impounded at the FORE stockyard in Sumpong. 255. 1993. The motion was filed with the court which issued the warrant but. 28.299 . the remaining lumber was confiscated. and Francisco Tankiko. p. unlawfully and criminally possess 2. and prior thereto at the Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation Compound.D . as assistant operations manager. were charged with violation of §68 of P.25 board feet.25 board feet or equivalent to 69. 277.. and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court. 58 On October 1. p.. As before. to the damage and prejudice of the government in the amount of P488.45) Philippine Currency.The team made an inventory of the seized lumber which. confederating and mutually helping one another.No. trial ensued.10 cubic meters with an estimated value of FOUR HUNDRED EIGHTY EIGHT THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED THIRTY FOUR PESOS AND 45/100 (P488. p. as amended.334. all in all. did then and there willfully. but he refused to acknowledge it. The seizure order [4] was served on petitioner Perfecto Pallada as general manager of the company. 705 as amended by E. on October 5. as general manager. constituted 29. 136-C. however.66 board feet. petitioner. The Information alleged: [6] 60 That on or about the 1st day of October. By October 9. without any authority. The following day. the first batch of lumber. conspiring. p. 1.. 59[5] Id. asked for a suspension of the operations to enable them to seek a lifting of the warrant. the motion was denied. the raiding team returned for the remaining lumber.45. P. province of Bukidnon. 59 On February 23.334. 1992. license or legal documents from the government. as president of the Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation. 1992. Contrary to and in violation of Section 68. judgment was rendered as follows: [7] 61 58[4] Records.334. the above-named accused. E. 61[7] Id. 1992. F & G). As all the accused pleaded not guilty. . 1992.115 pieces [of] lumber of different dimensions in the total volume of 29.D.299. 60[6] Id. who represented himself to be a lawyer. consisting of 162 pieces measuring 1. Then on July 27. Malaybalay.45 in total. all the lumber in the warehouse had been seized. [5] Accordingly. 1992.

affirmed petitioner's conviction but acquitted Tankiko for lack of proof of his participation in the purchase or acquisition of the seized lumber.334. p. II.45 without the legal documents as charged in the information in violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree 705. Petitioner and Francisco Tankiko appealed to the Court of Appeals. 249-251. on October 31. First. to establish that Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation's possession of the seized lumber was legal: [10] 64 1. [8] 62 Hence this petition which raises the following issues: 63 [9] I. p. transported from Bombaran. as amended and are. III. which. pp. each sentenced to suffer imprisonment of TEN (10) YEARS of prision mayor as minimum to TWENTY (20) YEARS of Reclusion temporal as maximum. 2. 3-5.. 4. During the trial. for 56 pieces of flitches equivalent to 12. p. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS WAS CORRECT IN UPHOLDING THE DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT THE CERTIFICATE OF TIMBER ORIGIN WAS NOT THE PROPER DOCUMENT TO JUSTIFY PETITIONER'S POSSESSION OF THE SQUARED TIMBER OR FLITCHES. as summarized by the trial court.23 cubic meters. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS WAS CORRECT IN UPHOLDING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT THE PROSECUTION HAD PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-PETITIONER PALLADA. Exh. pp. 28. Lanao del Sur of the Autonomous 62[8] CA Decision. judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Perfecto Pallada and Francisco Tankiko guilty beyond reasonable doubt of having in their possession timber products worth of P488. 6 . 14. 1991. . p. Sppedä jo Accused Isaias Valdehueza and Noel Sy are ACQUITTED for lack of evidence against them. 1997. WHETHER OR NOT THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS WAS CORRECT IN UPHOLDING THE RULING OF THE TRIAL COURT THAT THE PRESENCE OF ERASURES IN THE CERTIFICATE OF TIMBER ORIGIN RENDER THEM VALUELESS AS EVIDENCE. dated December 15. Records. Rollo. 63[9] Petition. 64[10] RTC Decision. therefore.Certificate of Timber Origin (CTO for short). The lumber subject of the crime are confiscated in favor of the government. Id.WHEREFORE. the defense presented the following documents.

1992 Exh. dated February 6.562. 7-E .93 cubic meter from the forest area of Wahab Pangcoga and H. 7 .056.Tally Sheet. dated February 6.94 board feet Exh. Ampuan in Lama Lico. 1991. Exh. "6-D" above 2. dated December 14. 6-B . 6-A .2 board feet Exh. Ampuan. 7-B . (undated).758. 1992. dated February 6. 8 .832.758. 8-A .056. for short) Exh. from WHP Enterprises of Maguing. for the 5. Pangcoga. dated December 16. dated December 16.Auxiliary InvoiceNexâ old .05 issued by the Corporation in payment to SMA Trading Company for 10. Exh. Taken from the forest area of Wahab and H. 1991 Exh.CTO. 7-D .4 cubic meter[s] taken from the forest area of a certain Somira M.Certificate of Transport Agreement (CTA. 6-D-1 .[C]arbon copy of Exh.Cash Voucher for P126. 6-C . 1992 Exh. 6-F . Pangcoga Exh. dated August 9.CTA Exh. 7-F .Auxiliary InvoiceMiso Exh. for 961 pieces of log equivalent to 25. 7-A . Bombaran of the ARMM Exh.94 board feet of lumber Exh.D.Cash Voucher for P58. 6-D .Region of Muslim Mindanao. Lanao del Sur.Official Receipt for environmental fee issued to Somira M. 1992.CTO for 678 pieces of chain-sawn lumber with an equivalent volume of 18. for 463 pieces of lumber equivalent to 5.Tally Sheet.45 in payment to WHP Enterprises. for 961 pieces of lumber equal to 10.D. "6-C" Exh.Delivery Receipt to Golden Harvest Corporation issued by SMA Trading Company.02 board feet of lumber.Delivery Receipt.Auxiliary Invoice Exh. 7-C . to the Corporation for the lumber mentioned in Exh. 1991. dated February 25. 1992 3.

1983. 9-E . now superseded by DENR Administrative Order No.Xerox copy of Exh.. Lanao del Sur. .Exh. 1992 Exh. 8-C . 251.Tally Sheet for the 678 pieces of lumber Exh. p. dated March 20.CTO for 426 pieces of logs (?) with an equivalent volume of 12.Auxiliary Invoice Exh. issued on February 17. . and to have uniformity in documenting the origin thereof.50 in payment for 8. dated March 20. Bombaran.CTA Exh. for P64.024. [11] For indeed. Ampuan of Lama Lico. 9-A . consigned to the Corporation. (undated). . Exh.Delivery Receipt issued by SMA Trading Company to the Corporation. 66[12] Issued on February 28.24 cubic meters from licensee Somira M..CTA. 9-C . 10-83 [12] states in pertinent parts: Maniâ kx 65 66 In order to provide an effective mechanism to pinpoint accountability and responsibility for shipment of lumber . 8-D . the attached Certificate of Lumber Origin 65[11] Id. 5. 1994. Stamped "Release 3/2/92" Exh.50 to pay [for] 5.Tally Sheet. "9-D" The trial court acted correctly in not giving credence to the Certificates of Timber Origin presented by petitioner since the lumber held by the company should be covered by Certificates of Lumber Origin. 9-D . as BFD Circular No. 8-F .Delivery Receipt to Golden Harvest Corporation issued by WHP Enterprises.614.Cash Voucher. 8-E . Exh. 8-B . 9-B . Id.99 board feet of lumber issued by the Corporation payable to WHP Enterprises 4. 1992 Exh.Official Receipt for environmental fee Exh. dated March 20. 9 .Cash Voucher for P93. 9-D-1 .Official Receipt for environmental fee Exh.299. 07.189 board feet of lumber Exh. 1992 Exh. 9-F . p.

No. . pp. . while those who possess lumber are not liable. According to the trial court: [16] 70 Although the CTO marked Exh. 68[14] 257 SCRA 430 (1996). . the Certificates of Timber Origin and their attachments should have been considered in establishing the legality of the company's possession of the lumber.D. . . . pp. 7-8." 69 Even assuming that a Certificate of Timber Origin could serve as a substitute for Certificate of Lumber Origin. 10-83 expressly states that the issuance of a separate certificate of origin for lumber is required in order to "pinpoint accountability and responsibility for shipment of lumber . . 251-252 (emphasis in the original). Inc. v. Lumber . considering the numerous irregularities and defects found in the documents presented by the latter. the opening paragraph of BFD Circular No. pp. the supporting documents.(CLO) . like the Tally Sheet. Maniksâ 67[13] Petition. petitioner invokes our ruling in Mustang Lumber. [14] 67 68 The contention has no merit. Court of Appeals. §§ 2&17 (series of 1994). Indeed. On the other hand. . [13] In support of his contention. the word "timber" embraces lumber. therefore. . p. as herein required shall be considered as proceeding from illegal sources and as such. . 5-6. the question in this case is whether separate certificates of origin should be issued for lumber and timber. 70[16] RTC Decision. Petitioner contends that the term "timber" includes lumber and. . . was made in answer to the lower court's ruling in that case that the phrase "possess timber or other forest products" in §68 of P. 69[15] DENR Administrative Circular No. the trial court and the Court of Appeals were justified in convicting petitioner. Rollo. The statement in Mustang Lumber that lumber is merely processed timber and. [15] As already noted. Records. 705 means that only those who possess timber and forest products without the documents required by law are criminally liable. . 5-6. 5. therefore. which form[s] part of this circular [is] hereby adopted as accountable forms for official use by authorized BFD officers. shall be subject to confiscation and disposition in accordance with LOI 1020 and BFD implementing guidelines. transported/shipped without the necessary Certificate of Lumber Origin (CLO) . and to have uniformity in documenting the origin thereof. . lumber and non-timber forest products. the Delivery Receipt from the lumber dealer and the Cash Voucher describe 463 pieces of lumber. different certificates of origin are required for timber. . "6" mentions 56 pieces of flitches. 07.

Someone may have noticed the "mistake" of mentioning lumber in the Auxiliary Invoice and so the words "flitches 87 pieces" were written down and enclosed in parenthesis. . "9-A" [were] "doctored" in the same manner as Exh. 1992. they were still in the form of flitches and logs. Valencia. Bukidnon".In like manner. "[8]" reveals a half-truth: it mentions 678 pieces of hand-sawn lumber. 7 bears no date. 1991. [18] 72 71[17] The original consignee's name. "[7-A]". 6-A) has invoice number 000488. MIS. and they were cut into lumber by the company. ______. pp. the dorsal side bears the certification that the logs were "scaled on August 7." 72[18] TSN. the original typewritten name of the consignee was clearly erased and changed to "Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation. the CTO states (at the back page) that the same is covered by Auxiliary Invoice No. 13 & 22. all the Auxiliary Invoice were not properly accomplished: the data required to be filled are left in blank. In the Auxiliary Invoice (Exh. 00491. OR. In the CTO marked Exhibit "7". 1994. "9" and its Auxiliary Invoice marked Exh. "[7]" and Exh. [17] 71 Additionally. the Auxiliary Invoice (Exh. thus belying the testimony of petitioner that when the company bought the forest products. Valencia. still legible. aside from the fact that the Certificate of Timber Origin in Exh. 10. Bukidnon". the four delivery receipts list the sizes and volume of the lumber sold. The said exhibits also appear to be questionable." while the receipt attached to that Certificate is dated February 6. Manikanä Indeed. in fact. The CTO marked Exh. TAGOLCAN. The CTO marked Exh. Moreover. respectively. But the supporting documents describe the forest product[s] as lumber. Exh. "9" mention 961 and 420 pieces of log. March 12. "6-A") mentions Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation as the consignee. indicating that the company purchased cut lumber from the dealers. Moreover. "7-A") the blank space for the name and address of the consignee was smudged with a typewriter correction fluid (the better to erase what was originally typewritten in it?) and changed to "Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation. Its Auxiliary Invoice also states the same load of lumber. but its Auxiliary Invoice (Exh. "7" and Exh. [t]hus[:] The CTO marked Exh. reads: "NORTHWEST FOOD PROCESSING CORPORATION. "6" is consigned to "any buyer (sic) Cagayan de Oro".

series of 1993. 76[22] See Veloso v. . That petitioner may not have any responsibility for such irregularity is immaterial. pp. but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount. [22] 76 Second. 6-10. 187 SCRA 504 (1990).) 74[20] Petition..8. which provides that certificates of origin with erased or tampered vital entries. 705. provides: ART. In such cases. pp. What render these documents without legal effect are the patent irregularities found on their faces. and he should have taken steps to have them corrected. No. The presumption invoked by petitioner applies only when the public documents are. 8-12. should be accorded the presumption of regularity in their execution. the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph. as far as he is concerned. thus. Sandiganbayan. In any case. series of 1994.000 pesos but does not exceed P22. In addition. 10-12. [20] 74 This contention is untenable. petitioner should have noticed such obvious irregularities. and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this 73[19] Compare DENR Administrative Order No.These irregularities and discrepancies make the documents in which they are found not only questionable but invalid and. The penalty imposed should be modified. 309 of the Revised Penal Code. such as the name and address of consignee. justified the trial court in giving no credence to the same.. on their faces. pp. as the corporate officer in charge of the purchase of the lumber. being public documents. it is contended that the CTOs and Auxiliary Receipts. Art. the documents are regular and complete. §68. 309. are void (now superseded by DENR Administrative Order No. Rollo. §6 in relation to §2.Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by: Oldmisâ o 1. Penalties. if the value of the thing stolen is more than P12. 59-93. Id. [19] 73 It is argued that the irregularities in the documentary exhibits should not be taken against petitioner because the documents came from lumber dealers. but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. 8-10.000 pesos..D. pp. made applicable to the offense by P.07. 75[21] Id. He cannot now feign ignorance and assert that. [21] 75 The presence of such glaring irregularities negates the presumption that the CTOs were regularly executed by the DENR officials concerned. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods. and one year for each additional ten thousand pesos. regular and properly accomplished.

[23] the penalty to be imposed should be six (6) years of prision correccional to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal.. 77 WHEREFORE. Buena. JJ. . (Chairman). is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that petitioner is sentenced to six (6) years of prision correccional. Jr. . . and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law. . concur.Code. as minimum. 1997.45. and De Leon. Ncmâ 77[23] People v. Simon. as maximum. Quisumbing. 234 SCRA 555 (1994). the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal. SO ORDERED.. to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal. Bellosillo.334. the decision of the Court of Appeals. as the case may be. dated October 31. As the lumber involved in this case is worth P488.