People v.

Rene Nuestro (January 18, 1995)
Facts: Rene Nuestro was indicted for the murder of
Ludovico Dabi. He tried to plead for the lesser offense of
homicide with the mitigating circumstance of a plea of
guilty and voluntary surrender. Two different accounts
were presented before the Court. According to the
prosecution (relying on the testimony of Lani Dabi,
daughter of the accused), Ludovico and his daughter
were standing in front of their gate when Nuestro
suddenly came upon Ludovico, stabbing him several
times with a knife.Elias Franco intervened but upon
approaching, Nuestro dropped the knife and said, “I hold
myself responsible and I’ll go to jail for this.” According
to the defense, Nuestro merely acted in self-defense.
Ludovico allegedly called the accused out several times,
challenging him to a fight. When Nuestro stepped out of
his home (they were neighbors) Ludovico allegedly
attacked him with the knife which Nuestro successfully
wrestled from Ludovico. Nuestro had to stab him
because he started to stand as if to rush towards Nuestro.
Nuestro then threw away the knife and took a jeep to the
police station, Elias Franco merely followed him to the
police station.
Held: The prosecution’s version of the events were
believed by the Court. There were no countervailing
reasons to overturn the decision of the trial court. The
defense failed entirely to prove the circumstances
allowing for self-defense were present and the witness
presented and the testimony of the accused were not
believable. The Court liekwise did not grant the
mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. The
accused was clearly placed under citizen’s arrest by Elias
Franco and was turned over to the officers of the police
station.
People v. Renante Mendez and Baby Cabagtong
(November 21, 2002)
Facts:
 An appeal from the decision of the RTC finding the
accused-appellants guilty of the crime of rape with
homicide, the victim was Candy Dolim. The Court
noted that the records of the case were replete with
procedural and evidentiary lapses.
 Candy was sent to run errands by her father, she was
found dead four days later in an open field with her
underpants and shorts around her ankles and her
shirt rolled up.
 Ronnie Cabagtong was brought in for questioning but
upon the intervention of his mother, Aurea, he was
released. Both mother and son pointed to accused-
appellants as the perpetrators.
 According to Aurea, the herein accused went to her
house soaking wet. She was told by Ronnie to allow
them to come in. She allegedly saw them washing
their clothes to remove bloodstains. When she woke
up the next day, they were gone.
 Ronnie claimed that on the night of the crime, he saw
the accused follow Candy out from Kagawad Tesoro’s
house. He was walking home when he saw Mendez on
top of Candy while Baby was holding her hands above
her head. It was raining and dark but according to
Ronnie, he was able to recognize them because of a
lantern which illuminated the place. When the
accused went to his home they threatened him not to
tell anyone about what had happened. Ronnie could
not remember what the accused were wearing at the
time, nor did he hear cries from the victim. He did not
stay in the area long because it was drizzling.
According to Ronnie, after the incident he ate dinner
then went to bed.
 When Ronnie was apprehended, he claimed he did
not immediately give information about what he
knew to the investigating officer (SPO2 Cernia)
because Mendez, who had been apprehended as well,
had a cousin who was a policeman. SPO2 Cernio did
not put his statement in writing.
 According to SPO2 Cernio, Ronnie was released upon
his claim of innocence but Mendez remained in
custody for investigation and the Chief Police ordered
for the arrest of Baby Cabagtong. SPO2 Cernio
investigated Baby but said investigation was not put
into writing.
 Mejica (person who brought Baby Cabagtong to the
station): He collared Baby Cabagtong and said he was
being arrested as one of the suspects in the rape-slay
case. Mejica said he was present when the police and
the mayor investigated accused-appellant Baby.
According to Mejica, he based his arrest of Baby from
the statement of Aurea.
 The defense presented the theory that the crim was
committed by Randy Gomba. As evidence they
presented Josefina Bernas. On the night of the crime,
she heard a woman crying and upon investigation she
saw Randy Gomba holding the victim in his arms, he
was raping her. Randy warned Josefina that he would
kill her if she told anyone. Frightened, she ran to her
husband and upon relating the story to him they
hurriedly left. When she arrived home, she wrote the
date and time of the incident. Randy went to their
home and again threatened them with harm. The
spouses then stayed at the home of her husband’s
family. She asked for assistance from the barangay
captain and even stayed in the home of his son until
Randy left for Manila.
 Isabelo Lucero, the barangay captain, confirmed what
Josefina stated. He said he wrote the Chief of Police a
letter recommending the arrest of Gomba but said
letter was not acted upon.
 Baby Cabagtong: He was with his family more than a
kilometer away from the scene of the crime. Ronnie
was released by SPO2 Cernio on the condition that he
testify against Baby and Renante.
 Renante: He was on Gamay helping his father make
copra December of 1996. On the night of the crime he
did not leave his house because he was sick.
 The trial court found the evidence for the prosecution,
particularly the testimonies of Ronnie Cabagtong and
his mother, credible and rendered judgment for the
prosecution.
Held:
 The prosecution anchored its case on the testimonies
of Aurea and Ronnie Cabagtong (mother and son).
Said testimonies are suspect. There were no houses
near the scene of the crime and Ronnie alleged that he
was able to recognize the accused because of a parol
hanging nearby. If there were no houses or buildings
nearby, where was said parol hung and why was it
hung in an abandoned area?
 The behavior of Ronnie after the incident belies any
claim that he had indeed witnessed a crime, especially
one so gruesome as a rape-slay. He even allowed the
accused to enter his home and sleep therein.
 Ronnie was only released upon the statement of his
mother naming the accused as the perpetrators of the
crime. The police officer took Ronnie’s declaration of
innocence at face value, failing to even reduce it into
writing.
 The only evidence against the accused is
circumstantial. Such evidence, to pass muster, must
meet the following criteria: (a) there is more than one
circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences
are derived are proved; and (c) the combination of all
the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction
beyond reasonable doubt. Such circumstances must
constitute an unbroken chain which leads one to the
fair and reasonable conclusion that the accused is
guilty. The combination of evidence must leave no
room for doubt as to the guilt of the accused.
 It puzzled the court why no investigation was done
upon the statements of Josefina Bernas which was
even endorsed by the barangay captain (who was also
godfather to the victim). The prosecution cannot
profit from the weakness of accused-appellants' alibi.
It must rely on the strength of its own evidence and
establish the guilt of accused-appellants beyond
reasonable doubt.
 The record shows that accused-appellants were
arrested without any warrants from the courts.
Contrary to his claim, SPO2 Cernio did not have
personal knowledge of the commission of the crime
so as to justify the warrantless arrest of Renante.
 Accused-appellant Baby, on the other hand, was
arrested by Mejica, a member of the Citizens' Crime
Watch, on the basis of the citizens' arrest law. Mejica
was neither a police officer nor a witness to the
incident. He was not a member of the investigating
team. He did not have any personal knowledge of the
incident. He merely based his arrest on the
information supplied by Aurea Cabagtong to the
police. This does not constitute personal knowledge
to warrant a citizens' arrest.
 Finally, there is nothing in the records to show that
the accused were assisted by counsel throughout the
entire course of the investigation. Likewise, they were
not apprised of their rights under the constitution.
These procedural lapses clearly indicate that the
police had shut its mind off to the possibility that
other parties might have committed the crime.
 ACQUITTED.
ROGER POSADAS, ROSARIO TORRES-YU, and
MARICHU LAMBINO, petitioners, vs. THE HON.
OMBUDSMAN, THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, and
ORLANDO V. DIZON, respondents.
Facts: Dennis Venturina, a member of the Sigma Rho
fraternity, died in a rumble between his fraternity and
members of the Scintilla Juris fraternity. Then Chancellor
Posadas, sought the assistance of the NBI. Four days after
the incident, acting on information given by two
eyewitnesses, NBI operatives tried to arrest Francis
Taparan and Raymundo Narag who were then at the UP
Police Station attending a peace talk between Scintilla
Juris and Sigma Rho. Herein petitioners, all UP officials,
as well as counsel for the suspects, Att. Villamorm
objected to the warrantless arrest. They told the
operatives that the two would be brought to the NBI
office the next day. For failure to comply, they were
charged with a violation of PD 1829, Obstruction in the
Apprehension and Prosecution of Criminal Offenses.
Held:
 Petitioners had a right to prevent the arrest of
Taparan and Narag at the time because their
attempted arrest was illegal. Indeed, they could not
have interfered with the prosecution of the guilty
parties because in fact petitioner Posadas had asked
the NBI for assistance in investigating the death of
Venturina. On the other hand, just because petitioners
had asked for assistance from the NBI did not
authorize respondent Dizon and his men to disregard
constitutional requirements.
 Whether or not petitioner Posadas surrendered the
student suspects to the NBI agents the following day
is immaterial. In the first place, they were not sureties
or bondsmen who could be held to their undertaking.
In the second place, the fact remains that the NBI
agents could not have validly arrested Taparan and
Narag at the U.P. Police Station as they did not have a
warrant at that time.
 Objection to an illegal warrantless arrest cannot be a
violation of Section 1 (c) of PD 1829. The NBI
operatives grounded their warrantless arrest on Rule
113 Sec. 5(b). According to respondents, the NBI
agents had personal knowledge of facts gathered by
them in the course of their investigation indicating
that the students sought to be arrested were the
perpetrators of the crime. The Court disagreed. First
of all, in the case cited by respondents (People v.
Tonog Jr.) the accused voluntarily went with the
police. Second, the arresting officer saw blood stains
on the suspect’s pants. Finally, the arrest was made
on the same day the crime was committed. The NBI
agents in the case at bar tried to arrest Narag and
Taparan four days after the commission of the crime.
They had no personal knowledge of any fact which
might indicate that the two students were probably
guilty of the crime. What they had were the supposed
positive identification of two alleged eyewitnesses,
which is insufficient to justify the arrest without a
warrant by the NBI.
 At the time Dennis Venturina was killed, these agents
were nowhere near the scene of the crime. When
respondent Dizon and his men attempted to arrest
Taparan and Narag, the latter were not committing a
crime nor were they doing anything that would create
the suspicion that they were doing anything illegal.
 "Personal knowledge" of facts in arrests without a
warrant under Section 5 (b) of Rule 113 must be
based upon "probable cause" which means an "actual
belief or reasonable grounds of suspicion." The
grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the
absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the
suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably
guilty of committing the offense is based on actual
facts, i.e., supported by circumstances sufficiently
strong in themselves to create the probable cause of
guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable
suspicion therefore must be founded on probable
cause, coupled with good faith on the part of the
peace officers making the arrest.