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Ricardo Atienza and Alfredo Castro vs People of

the Philippines
Gr No. 188694
February 12, 2014

Petition for review on certiorari assailing the
decision of the CA, affirming the decision of RTC Manila
which found Petitioners Atienza and Castro guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of Robbery and
Falsification of Public Document.
Petitioners are CA employees: budget officer
and utility worker, respectively. On March 20, 1995,
Juanito Atibula (Atibula), a custodian of the CA Original
Decisions, was invited by Castro to Atienzas birthday
party where he was introduced to a certain Dario who
asked for his help in locating a CA decision in a
particular case. (FERNANDO CASE)
They found said case in Vol 260 of the CA
Original Decisions. Dario perused said document and
also scanned Vol. 265. In the following days, Dario
approached Atibula and requested the latter to insert a
decision dated Sep 26 1968 in one of the Volumes but
Atibula refused. Atienza thereafter offered him P50,000
in exchange for Vol 260 but he also refused.
Atibula subsequently discovered that Vol. 266
was missing which he reported to his superiors
immediately. Several days later, a certain Nelson de
Castro, also a CA employee, handed Atibula a giftwrapped package which turned out to be the missing
Vol. 266. De Castro claimed that it was Castro who
asked him to do so.
The contents of the returned Vol. 266 were
reviewed by Atibula and it was found that there were
new documents inserted therein: CA decisions and
resolutions supposedly for the FERNANDO CASE. Upon
Atibulas comparison, it was found that the duplicate
original decisions did not bear such promulgations.
Upon the NBI investigation that ensued, it was found
that Vol. 266 has indeed been altered and the
signatures of the CA Justices therein have been forged.
Ultimately, a complaint was filed by the NBI to
the Office of the Ombudsman implicating Atienza,
Castro and Dario of the Crimes of Falsification of Public
Document and Robbery under the RPC. Thereafter,
corresponding informations were filed before the RTC
and the petitioners pleaded not guilty while Dario
remained at large.
Atienza denied having anything to do with the
crimes and he averred that he was away from the
office during the months in question due to workrelated duties as budget and liason officer. Castro on
the other hand, did not make any efforts to refute the
charges against him.
RTC: guilty beyond reasonable doubt and there
is conspiracy. The previous events that conspired
between the petitioners and Atibula prove their guilt.
CA: affirmed RTCs decision. Although there was no
direct evidence, Atibulas and the NBIs testimonies

along with other circumstances are sufficient for a

conviction. CA: Atienzas defense is self-serving and
cannot outweigh the circumstantial evidence.
Are the circumstantial evidence sufficient to
warrant a conviction
Circumstantial evidence consists of proof of
collateral facts and circumstances from which the main
fact in issue may be inferred based on reason and
common experience. It is sufficient for conviction if: (a)
there is more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from
which the inferences are derived are proven; and (c)
the combination of all the circumstances is such as to
produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. To
uphold a conviction based on circumstantial evidence,
it is essential that the circumstantial evidence
presented must constitute an unbroken chain which
leads one to a fair and reasonable conclusion pointing
to the accused, to the exclusion of the others, as the
guilty person. Stated differently, the test to determine
whether or not the circumstantial evidence on record is
sufficient to convict the accused is that the series of
circumstances duly proven must be consistent with
each other and that each and every circumstance must
be consistent with the accuseds guilt and inconsistent
with his innocence.
Firstly, the Court found no evidence to link
Castro to the crimes charged. Affidavits, although
acknowledged before a notary public, are considered
hearsay evidence of the affiant was not presented in
court to testify thereon and to give the adverse party a
chance to cross-examine him. Nelson de Castro, who
averred in his sworn statement that it was Castro who
asked him to deliver the gift-wrapped package to
Atibula was not presented in court during trial.
questionable. Atibulas testimony states that the
former attempted to bribe him to take out Vol. 260 but
then the controversy arose from a different document:
Vol 266. This discrepancy on the very subject matter of
the crimes dilutes the strength of the evidence
required for a conviction. According to the court, the
attempted bribery constituted proof of motive which is
not sufficitent to support a conviction, no matter how
Criminal conviction rests on the strength of the
evidence of the prosecution and not on the weakness
or even absence of defense. If the inculpatory facts
and circumstances are capable of two or more
explanations, one of which is consistent with the
innocence of the accused and the other consistent with

his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill the test of
moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a
conviction. Accordingly, there being no circumstantial
evidence sufficient to support a conviction, the Court
hereby acquits petitioners, without prejudice, however,

to any subsequent finding on their administrative

liability in connection with the incidents in this case.