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G.R.No.L26222

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
ENBANC
G.R.No.L26222July21,1967
THEPEOPLEOFTHEPHILIPPINES,petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLEJUDGEHERNANDOPINEDAoftheCourtofFirstInstanceofLanaodelNorte
andTOMASNARBASA,TAMBACALINDOandRUFINOBORRES,respondents.
DominadorL.Padillaforpetitioner.
Narbasa,TambacAlindoandBorresforrespondents.
SANCHEZ,J.:
RespondentsTomasNarbasa,TambacAlindoandRufinoBorresstandindictedbeforetheCourtofFirst
InstanceofLanaodelNorte,asprincipals,infive(5)separatecases,fourformurder,viz:
CriminalCase1246murderofNeceforoMendoza
CriminalCase1247murderofEpifaniaMendoza
CriminalCase1248frustratedmurderofValerianaBontilaodeMendoza
CriminalCase1249murderofTeofiloMendoza
CriminalCase1250murderofMarceloMendoza.
Thefiveinformationswereplanteduponfactsgatheredbytheprosecutingattorneyfromhisinvestigation.
Ofcourse,thetruthofthesefactsisyettobetestedinthecrucibleofafulldresstrialonthemerits.
Theindictmentsarebottomeduponthefollowingallegedpivotalfacts:
OnthenightofJuly29,1965,theoccupantsofthehomeofthespousesTeofiloMendozaandValeriana
Bontilao de Mendoza in Pugaan City of Iligan, were asleep. It was then that guns (rifle, caliber 22)
andpaliuntod(homemadegun)werefiredinrapidsuccessionfromoutsidethehouse.TeofiloMendozafell
dead. Thereafter, defendants below destroyed the door of the house, entered therein, and let loose
several shots killing Neceforo Mendoza, all minor children of the couple and wounding Valeriana
BontilaodeMendoza.
Two of the three defendants in the five criminal cases heretofore listed Tomas Narbasa and Tambak
Alindomovedforaconsolidationthereof"intoone(1)criminalcase."Theirpleaisthat"saidcasesarose
outofthesameincidentandmotivatedbyoneimpulse."
Givingthenodtodefendants'claim,respondentJudge,inanorderdatedMay13,1966,directedtheCity
Fiscaltounifyallthefivecriminalcases,andtofileonesingleinformationinCase1246.Healsoordered
thattheotherfourcases,Nos.1247,1248,1249and1250"bedroppedfromthedocket."
TheCityFiscalbalkedattheforegoingorder,soughtreconsiderationthereof,uponthegroundthat"more
thanonegunwasused,morethanoneshotwasfiredandmorethanonevictimwaskilled."Thedefense
opposed.
On May 31, 1966, respondent Judge denied the motion to reconsider. He took the position that the acts
complainedof"stemmedoutofaseriesofcontinuingactsonthepartoftheaccused,notbydifferentand
separate sets of shots, moved by one impulse and should therefore be treated as one crime though the
series of shots killed more than one victim" and that only one information for multiple murder should be
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filed,toobviatethenecessityoftryingfivecasesinsteadofone."
PrimarilytoannulrespondentJudge'sordersofMay13,1966andMay31,1966,ashavingbeenissued
without or in excess of jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion, the People came to this Court
oncertiorariwithaprayerforawritofpreliminaryinjunction,andforotherreliefs.
ThisCourt,onJuly1,1966,issuedtheceaseanddesistorderprayedfor.
Thequestionherepresented,simplyisthis:Shouldtherebeoneinformation,eitherforthecomplexcrime
ofmurderandfrustratedmurderorforthecomplexcrimeofrobberywithmultiplehomicideandfrustrated
homicide?Or,shouldthefiveindictmentsremainastheyare?
1. The case before us calls into question the applicability of Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended,whichreads:
Art. 48. Penalty for complex crimes. When a single act constitutes two or more grave or less
grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for
themostseriouscrimeshallbeimposed,thesametobeappliedinitsmaximumperiod.
Readasitshouldbe,Article48providesfortwoclassesofcrimeswhereasinglepenaltyistobeimposed:
first, where a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave felonies (delito compuesto) and,
second,whenanoffenseisanecessarymeansforcommittingtheother(delitocomplejo).1
Bestexemplifiedbythefirstofthetwocasesiswhereoneshotfromagunresultsinthedeathoftwoor
morepersons.Jurisprudenceteachesthat,inthisfactualsetting,thecomplexcrimedefinedinthefirstpart
ofArticle48findsapplication.2Asimilarruleobtainswhereonestabbedanotherandtheweaponpierced
the latter's body through and wounded another. The first died instantaneously the second, seven days
later. This Court convicted the assailant of double murder.3 So where a person plants a bomb in an
airplaneandthebombexplodes,withtheresultthatanumberofpersonsarekilled,thatsingleactagain
producesacomplexcrime.4
A different rule governs where separate and distinct acts result in a number killed. Deeply rooted is the
doctrine that when various victims expire from separate shots, such acts constitute separate and distinct
crimes.5Thus,wherethesixdefendants,withothers(armedwithpistols,carbinesandalsoasubmachine
gunandGarandrifles),firedvolleysintoahousekillingelevenandwoundingseveralothers,eachofthe
saidaccusedis"guiltyofasmanycrimesofmurderasthereweredeaths(eleven).6Again,elevenpersons
were indicted for quadruple murder with the use of bolos, a pistol, a barbed arrow and a piece of
bambooofaman,hiscommonlawwife,andtheirtwochildrenincoldblood.Theaccusedwerefound
guilty by the trial court of such offense. This Court, in reversing this ruling below, held that "[t]he four
victimswerenotkilledbyasingleactbutbyvariousactscommittedondifferentoccasionsandbydifferent
parties"thatsuchacts"maynotberegardedasconstitutingonesinglecrime"andthat"[t]heyshouldbe
held as separate and distinct crimes."7 And a third. At the commencement exercises of an elementary
school,"ashotsuddenlyrangout"followedbya"seriesofshots"fromapistol.Twopersonslaydead
and a third seriously wounded but who later on also died. This Court there ruled that there were "three
distinctandseparatemurders"committedbyappellantJuanMones.8Andfinally,inPeoplevs.Gatbunton,
L2435,May10,1950,thespousesMarianoSebastianandMaximaCapulewhowereasleepwere
killedbyoneburstofmachinegunfireandthen,byasecondburstofmachinegunfire,twoofthecouple's
childrenalsoasleepwerekilled.Theaccused,TomasGatbunton,wasfoundguiltybythetrialcourt
of quadruple murder. On appeal, this Court declared that "appellant must be declared guilty of four
murders."9
The present ease is to be differentiated fromPeople vs. Lawas, L761820, June 30, 1955. There, on a
single occasion, about fifty Maranaos were killed by a group of home guards. It was held that there was
only one complex crime. In that case, however, there was no conspiracy to perpetuate the killing. In the
case at bar, defendants performed several acts. And the informations charge conspiracy amongst them.
Needlesstostate,theactofoneistheactofall.10Notmaterialhere,thereforeisthefindinginLawasthat
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"itisimpossibletoascertaintheindividualdeathscausedbyeachandeveryone"oftheaccused.Itistobe
borne in mind, at this point, that apply the first half of Article 48, heretofore quoted, there must be
singularityofcriminalactsingularityofcriminalimpulseisnotwrittenintothelaw.11
TherespondentJudgereasonsoutinhisorderofMay31,1966thatconsolidationofthefivecasesinto
onewouldhavethesalutaryeffectofobviatingthenecessityoftryingfivecasesinsteadofone.Tosave
time,indeed,islaudable.Nonetheless,thestatuteconfersuponthetrialjudgethepowertotrythesecases
jointly,suchthatthefearentertainedbyrespondentJudgecouldeasilyberemedied.12
Uponthefactsandthelaw,weholdthattheCityFiscalofIliganCitycorrectlypresentedthefiveseparate
informationsfourformurderandoneforfrustratedmurder.
2. We have not overlooked the suggestion in the record that, because of an affidavit of one of the
witnesses, possibility exists that the real intent of the culprits was to commit robbery, and that the acts
constituting murders and frustrated murder complained of were committed in pursuance thereof. If true,
thiswouldbringthecasewithinthecoverageofthesecondportionofArticle48,whichtreatsasacomplex
crimeacasewhereanoffenseisanecessarymeansforcommittingtheother.
A rule of presumption long familiar, however, is that official duty has been regularly performed.13 If the
Fiscalhasnotseenfittogiveweighttosaidaffidavitwhereinitisallegedthatcertainpersonalproperties
(transistorradioandmoney)weretakenawaybytheculpritsaftertheshooting,wearenottojettisonthe
prosecutor's opinion thereon. The Fiscal could have had reasons for his act. For one thing, there is the
grave problem of proving the elements of that offense robbery. For another, the act could have been
but a blind to cover up the real intent to kill. Appropriately to be noted here is that all the informations
chargedevidentpremeditation.Withponderablesandimponderables,wearereluctanttohazardaguess
astothereasonsfortheFiscal'saction.Wearenotnowtosaythat,onthispoint,theFiscalhasabused
hisdiscretion.Aprosecutingattorney,bythenatureofhisoffice,isundernocompulsiontofileaparticular
criminalinformationwhereheisnotconvincedthathehasevidencetopropuptheavermentsthereof,or
that the evidence at hand points to a different conclusion. This is not to discount the possibility of the
commission of abuses on the part of the prosecutor. But we must have to recognize that a prosecuting
attorneyshouldnotbeundulycompelledtoworkagainsthisconviction.Incaseofdoubt,weshouldgive
him the benefit thereof. A contrary rule may result in our courts being unnecessarily swamped with
unmeritoriouscases.Worsestill,acriminalsuspect'srighttodueprocessthesportingideaoffairplay
may be transgressed. So it is, that in People vs. Sope 75 Phil. 810, 815, this Court made the
pronouncement that "[i]t is very logical that the prosecuting attorney, being the one charged with the
prosecution of offenses, should determine the information to be filed and cannot be controlled by the off
endedparty."14
3. The impact of respondent Judge's orders is that his judgment is to be substituted for that of the
prosecutor'sonthematterofwhatcrimeistobefiledincourt.Thequestionofinstitutingacriminalcharge
is one addressed to the sound discretion of the investigating Fiscal. The information he lodges in court
musthavetobesupportedbyfactsbroughtaboutbyaninquirymadebyhim.Itstandstoreasonthento
saythatinaclashofviewsbetweenthejudgewhodidnotinvestigateandthefiscalwhodid,orbetween
the fiscal and the offended party or the defendant, those of the Fiscal's should normally prevail. In this
regard, he cannot ordinarily be subject to dictation. We are not to be understood as saying that criminal
prosecution may not be blocked in exceptional cases. A relief in equity "may be availed of to stop it
purportedenforcementofacriminallawwhereitisnecessary(a)fortheorderlyadministrationofjustice
(b) to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive and vindictive manner (c) to avoid
multiplicity of actions (d) to afford adequate protection to constitutional rights and (e) in proper cases,
becausethestatuterelieduponisunconstitutionalorwas'heldinvalid.'"15Nothingintherecordwouldas
muchasintimatethatthepresentcasefitsintoanyofthesituationsjustrecited.
1 w p h 1 . t

Andatthisdistanceandintheabsenceofanycompellingfactorcircumstance,weareloathetotagthe
CityFiscalofIliganCitywithabuseofdiscretioninfilingseparatecasesformurderandfrustratedmurder,
insteadofasinglecaseforthecomplexcrimeofrobberywithhomicideandfrustratedhomicideunderthe
provisions of Article 294 (1) of the Revised Penal Code or, for that matter, for multiple murder and
frustratedmurder.Westatethat,here,theFiscal'sdiscretionshouldnotbecontrolled.
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Upontherecordasitstands,thewritofcertiorariprayedforisherebygrantedtheordersofrespondent
JudgeofMay13,1965andMay31,1966areherebysetanddeclarednullandvoid,and,inconsequence,
the writ of preliminary injunction heretofore issued is made permanent insofar as it stops enforcement of
the said orders and the respondent Judge, or whoever takes his place, is hereby directed to reinstate
Criminal Cases 1246, 1247, 1248, 1249 and 1250 as they were commenced, and to take steps towards
thefinaldeterminationthereof.
CostsagainstrespondentsTomasNarbasa,TambacAlindoandRutinoBorres.Soordered.
Reyes,J.B.L.,Makalintal,BengzonJ.P.,Zaldivar,Castro,AngelesandFernando,JJ.,concur.
Concepcion,C.J.andDizon,J.,tooknopart.
Footnotes
1TomoI,CuelloColon,DerechoPenal,1960ed.,p.635.
2In People vs. Pama (C.A.), 44 O.G. No. 9, pp. 3339, 33453346, where four bullets were fired

causingfourmortalwoundstoaperson,butoneofwhichalsostruckachildresultinginthelatter's
death,theCourtofAppealsheldthat,bytheonesingleshot,asingleinformationshouldhavebeen
filedtocoverbothdeaths,andasinglepenaltyshouldbeimposed.
InPeoplevs.Buyco,80Phil.58,6769,wheretheaccusedfiredseveralbulletsinsuccession
fromasubmachinegunwithasinglepullofthetrigger,killingonepersonwithtreacheryand
anotheronlyaccidentally,thisCourt,citingIIViada,5thed.,p.629,categorizedthefactsas
constituting one single act a complex crime of murder and homicide. Cf. People vs.
Gatbunton,infra.
In People vs. Deveza (C.A.), 44 O.G. No. 5, pp. 1501, 15071511, one shot from a pistol
caused the death of a person and serious physical injuries to another the court considered
thefactualsituationasacomplexcrimeofhomicideandseriousphysicalinjuries.
3Peoplevs.Balotol,84Phil.289,290291.
4People vs. Largo, 99 Phil. 10611062. In pari materia, see: People vs. Fulgencio, L5370,

November10,1952Peoplevs.Guillen,85Phil.307,318319.Seealso:Angelesvs.Jose,96Phil.
151,152.
5Peoplevs.Pardo,79Phil.568,577578Peoplevs.Buyco,supra,atp.69Peoplevs.Ordonio,82

Phil.324,334Peoplevs.Chan,90Phil.1,5Peoplevs.Basarain,L6690,May24,1955People
vs. Moro, L6771, May 28, 1957 People vs. Remolino, L14008, September 30, 1960. See also:
Peoplevs.Torres,L4642,May29,1953.
6Peoplevs.Macaso,85Phil.819,828.
7Peoplevs.Daligdig,89Phil.598,615.
8Peoplevs.Mones,86Phil.331,333,339.
9Tothesameeffect:Peoplevs.Desierto,(C.A.)45O.G.No.10,pp.4542,45494550.
10Peoplevs.Masin,64Phil.757,767,citingcasesPeoplevs.Timbang,74Phil.295,299People

vs.Santos,84Phil.97,104Peoplevs.DomendenL17822,October30,1962Peoplevs.Ambran,
L15581,April29,1963.
11SeeIPadilla,CriminalLaw,1964ed.,p.548,atfootnote.
12Section15,Rule119,RulesofCourt,reads:
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"SEC15.Consolidation of trials of related offenses. Charges for offenses founded on the


samefacts,orwhichformorareapartofaseriesofoffensesofthesameorsimilarcharacter
may,inthediscretionofthecourt,betriedjointly."
13Section5(m),Rule131,RulesofCourt.
14See:Gonzalesvs.CourtofFirstInstanceofBulacan,63Phil.846,855,citingcases Zulueta vs.

Nicolas102Phil.944,946,citingPeoplevs.Liggayu,97Phil.865,andPeoplevs.Natoza100Phil.
533Bagatuavs.Revilla,L12247,August26,1958.
15Hernandezvs.Albano,L19272,January25,1967,citingcases.

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