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SECOND DIVISION
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 177566
Appellee,
[Formerly G.R. No. 164433]
Present:
QUISUMBING, J.,
- versus -

Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,

CHICO-NAZARIO, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
ROSALINDA TRAPAGO TAN
a.k.a. KAYE SUAREZ PALINO,
MARIA EL FELASOL FLORES, Promulgated:
a.k.a. MAE FELASOL FLORES,
ARMANDO PANAGUITON DE March 26, 2008
LUNA, BENITO FEOLOG
FELAZOL, EDUARDO FRONDOZO
FELAZOL, ANGELITO ANG
DIEGO and ROBERTO TOLENTINO,
Appellants.
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DECISION
Tinga, J.:
On appeal by way of automatic review is the Decision 1[1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR HC
No. 01988, affirming with modification the Judgment2[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), convicting
appellants Rosalinda Trapago Tan (Rosalinda), Mae Felasol Flores (Mae), Armando Panaguiton De
Luna (Armando), Benito Feolog Felazol (Benito), Eduardo Frondozo Felazol (Eduardo), Angelito Ang
Diego (Angelito), and Roberto Tolentino (Roberto) for the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom.
The facts as narrated by prosecution witnesses follow.
At about 8:30 p.m. of 8 September 1997, Ruiz Saez Co (Ruiz) was taking his meal in a store located
just outside his companys premises in Barrio Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna. He noticed three vehicles
parked in front of the store a green Nissan Sentra car, a black Honda Civic car and a red L-300 van.
Suddenly, a man alighted from the Nissan Sentra car and aimed a gun at him. He tried to escape and
started running towards the company plant when two (2) armed men alighted from the L-300 van and
blocked his way. Ruiz was then forcibly boarded into the black Honda Civic car. Inside the car, he was
handcuffed and made to stoop down. After driving for about an hour, Ruiz was led out of the car,
brought inside a house, and locked into a room. A certain Ka Rudy told him that he had just been
kidnapped in exchange for P40 Million for his freedom. 3[3]
Meanwhile, at around 9:00 p.m. of the same day, Mrs. Sonia Co (Sonia) received a call from the vice
mayor of Cabuyao, Laguna that her son had been kidnapped. She immediately called then VicePresident Joseph Estrada to seek assistance. The latter referred the matter to General Panfilo
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Lacson (Lacson) who in turn instructed Police Officer Senior Superintendent Cesar Mancao (Mancao)
to dispatch teams to monitor the alleged kidnappers. 4[4]
At 2:30 a.m. of the following day, Sonia finally received a call from the alleged kidnapper who
identified himself as Ka Rudy. The latter confirmed that Ruiz was in his custody. On his second call,
Ka Rudy asked for a P40 Million ransom, which amount was lowered to P1.2 Million after
negotiations.5[5]
During Ruizs captivity, he was also blindfolded and handcuffed but was allowed to go to the bathroom
accompanied by his kidnappers. On 14 September 1997, Mancao received a tip from an anonymous
female caller that the persons responsible for the kidnapping of Ruiz were the callers husband and
the latters girlfriend; and that Ruiz was being kept in a house somewhere in Palmera Homes
Subdivision, Taytay, Rizal.
A team was dispatched to said area the following morning and surveillance was thereafter
conducted.6[6] In the morning of his eighth day in captivity, Ruiz heard shouts and rapid gunshots
outside the room. He quickly removed his blindfold. After a while, a man forced open the door and
introduced himself as a member of the SWAT. Ruiz was then secured and taken out of the house. On
his way towards the police van, Ruiz saw two (2) persons lying on their back, another two (2)
squatting with their hands tied at the back of their heads, and two (2) women embracing each other.
Ruiz later identified the women as Mae and Rosalinda, and one of the men with hands tied at the
back as Eduardo.7[7]
Mancao recounted that seven (7) persons were arrested five (5) males and two (2) females. In
addition to those already identified by Ruiz, the other persons were identified by Mancao as Roberto,
Benito and Armando. Several high-powered firearms were recovered from the house. 8[8] At 7:00 a.m.
of 16 September 1997, Sonia received a call from Lacson who related that Ruiz son had already
been rescued.9[9]
Appellants, who came from various locations in Metro Manila, 10[10] testified for the defense and
presented their respective alibis.
Benito claimed that on 15 September 1997, he, together with Roberto, went to a house owned by a
certain Sgt. Salazar, located at 421 Thatch Palm Street, Palmera Hills, Taytay, Rizal, to repair a motor
vehicle. They were met by Nympha Salazar (Nympha), the wife of Sgt. Salazar. At around 4:00 p.m.,
Eduardo, Benitos cousin, arrived. They finished the repair work at 6:00 p.m. While waiting for Sgt.
Salazar to come home for their pay, Nympha brought them one case of beer. They then started
drinking together with two guests of the Salazar whom they only knew to be Toto and Ariston. By
10:00 p.m., Benito stopped drinking and fell asleep in the sala. He was awakened in the morning by a

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firefight. He was shot in the inner thigh and was taken in by the police. 11[11] Roberto and Eduardo
corroborated his testimony.
Armando explained that he was renting the extension house of the Salazars with his live-in partner,
Mae. At around 7:30 p.m. on 15 September 1997, he came home to find several persons drinking
under the mango tree. A few minutes later, Angelito came knocking at his door looking for Mae so he
could give his payment for the perfume he purchased from her. Armando then invited Angelito for
dinner. At 10:30 p.m., Armando accompanied Angelito to the gate and were invited to join the drinking
spree. The following morning, they were awakened by gunshots. 12[12]
Mae related that upon hearing the gunshots, she and Armando also heard someone shouting at them
to stand up. They embraced each other. Some armed men then entered their house and told them to
get out. Mae denied knowing Eduardo, Benito, Rosalinda and Roberto. 13[13] She averred that she
only came to know Angelito through the latters wife.
Rosalinda, for her part, alleged that Sgt. Salazar was a regular customer of the establishment where
she used to work. Nympha, the wife of Sgt. Salazar, called her through cellphone and asked her to
meet with her. At around 11:00 p.m. on 15 September 1997, they met at Grand Central Mall in
Monumento. They boarded a taxi and proceeded to 421 Thatch Palm Street, Taytay, Rizal at 12:00
midnight. Upon arrival at said address, Rosalinda was informed by Nympha that Sgt. Salazar was
already dead. Nympha then went out and did not come back. Rosalinda decided to sleep in the room
of Mae.14[14]
On 17 September 1997, appellants were charged with the crime of kidnapping for ransom in an
Information the accusatory portion of which reads:
That on or about September 8, 1997 in the evening of Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused conspiring,
confederating, mutually helping one another and grouping themselves together, did then and there,
by force and intimidation, and use of high powered firearms, wifully, unlawfully, feloniously take, carry
away, and deprive Ruiz Saez-Co y Lim of his liberty against his will for purposes of extorting money
as in fact a demand for money was made as a condition for his release but before any ransom can be
paid, the victim was rescued after eight (8) days in captivity.
CONTRARY TO LAW.15[15]
On arraignment, appellants entered their plea of not guilty. Trial ensued.
On 5 April 2002, the trial court rendered judgment finding appellants guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of kidnapping for ransom and sentenced each of them to suffer the penalty of
death.16[16]
The records of this case were originally elevated to this Court for automatic review. Conformably with
our ruling in People v. Mateo17[17] however, the case was referred to the Court of Appeals for
intermediate review.
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Appellants maintained that among the circumstances allegedly established by the prosecutions
evidence, the only link to the accused is that they were all arrested at the place where the kidnap
victim was rescued. Appellants argued that the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution
failed to prove that they conspired and actually participated in the kidnapping of the victim.
Furthermore, appellants contended that mere presence at the crime scene cannot be considered as
proof of conspiracy. All told, appellants proffered that their guilt was not established beyond
reasonable doubt; hence, they must be acquitted. 18[18]
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for its part recommended that appellants be held
guilty of serious illegal detention instead of kidnapping for failure of the prosecution to prove that
appellants were the ones who abducted Ruiz on 8 September 1997, forced him to board the black
Honda Civic, and brought him to the place where he was rescued eight days later. Likewise, the
prosecution failed to prove that demands for ransom had been made by any, some or all of the
appellants.19[19]
In a Decision dated 27 November 2006, the Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the trial court with
the following modification:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the April 5, 2002 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Bian, Laguna, Branch 24, in Criminal Case No. 9984-B, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION
that in view of the passage of R.A. No. 9346, the accused-appellants are suffered to serve the penalty
of Reclusion Perpetua with the accessory penalties prescribed under Article 40 of the Revised Penal
Code in lieu of the Death Penalty.20[20]
The appellate court rejected appellants defense of denial and held that it cannot prevail over the
ample amount of circumstantial evidence proffered by the prosecution which tends to prove their
involvement in the crime.
The appellate court likewise sustained the trial courts finding that demands for ransom had
been actually made by appellants.
On 22 August 2007, this Court required the parties to simultaneously file their respective
supplemental briefs.21[21] However, on 10 and 15 October 2007, the OSG and appellants respectively
manifested that they were adopting their brief earlier filed before the Court of Appeals. 22[22]
The fundamental issue to be resolved is whether the guilt of the appellants has been proven beyond
reasonable doubt.
For the accused to be convicted of kidnapping and serious illegal detention under Article 267 of the
Revised Penal Code, the prosecution is burdened to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements
of the crime, namely: (1) the offender is a private individual; (2) he kidnaps or detains another, or in
any manner deprives the latter of his liberty; (3) the act of detention or kidnapping must be illegal; and
(4) in the commission of the offense any of the following circumstances is present: (a) the kidnapping
or detention lasts for more than three days; (b) it is committed by simulating public authority; (c)
serious physical injuries are inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained or threats to kill him are
made; or (d) the person kidnapped and kept in detained is a minor, the duration of his detention is
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immaterial. Likewise, if the victim is kidnapped and illegally detained for the purpose of extorting
ransom, the duration of his detention is immaterial. 23[23]
Based on the victims account, the ordeal he had gone through can be divided into three distinct
segments, namely: (1) the forcible taking, (2) the asportation, and (3) the protracted detention. The
first segment was the Mamatid (in Cabuyao, Laguna) episode where he was held by armed men at
gunpoint and forcibly boarded in a car. The second segment covered the entire forced journey of the
victim from Mamatid to the detention house in Taytay, Rizal. And the third segment was the Taytay
episode. It covered the full length of the victims involuntary confinement spanning eight (8) days until
his stirring rescue. There is no doubt that the victim was deprived of his liberty throughout all the
episodes. But the question is: was the criminal liability of the appellants in each and every episode
established beyond reasonable doubt?
We agree with the OSG that the participation of the appellants in the forcible taking and journey of the
victim was not clearly established. There were no eyewitnesses who testified on the abduction. While
the victim testified on the three episodes, he failed to see and identify any of his captors until he was
rescued as he was blindfolded most of the time during his captivity. He did not see the face of the
persons who abducted him in Mamatid and those who formed the entourage which brought him to
Taytay. To conclude that those who were captured during the rescue operation were also participants
in the forcible taking and asportation is to lower the level of evidence required for conviction.
Parenthetically, the public prosecutor was not allowed by the trial court judge to question the victim
although he asked for leave to ask additional questions after the private prosecutor was done with his
questions on direct examination. Instead of granting the requested leave outright, the trial judge
consulted the defense counsel and the private prosecutor who both manifested that whatever
questions the public prosecutor had in mind should be coursed through and asked by the private
prosecutor. Thus, the trial judge directed the private prosecutor to propound whatever questions the
public prosecutor would suggest.24[24] At this juncture, we find it necessary to remind trial court
judges that under Section 5, Rule 110 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, all criminal actions are
prosecuted under the direction and control of the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor may turn
over the actual prosecution of the criminal case to the private prosecutor, in the exercise of his
discretion, but he may, at any time, take over the actual conduct of the trial. 25[25]
The third episode, however, is different. The criminal participation of the appellants therein was
proven beyond reasonable doubt. The OSG correctly recommended that they should be held liable
therefor.

A surveillance operation was conducted before the rescue of the victim, resulting in the determination
that the victim was locked in a small room of a house in Palmera Hills, Taytay, Rizal. The victims
description of the house where he was kept as small because the door of the room was adjacent to
the comfort room26[26] corresponds to the description given at the subject house by the members of
the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.
The seven (7) appellants were all apprehended in the house or in the premises where the victim was
detained. Ruiz identified three (3) of them as present and alive during the raid resulting to his rescue,
including the two (2) women Mae and Rosalinda. 27[27] Two (2) other accused were caught hiding in
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the ceiling, upon the tip given by Ruiz. 28[28] Angelito was the last to be apprehended as he hid among
the grass outside the house for seven (7) hours, only to be caught later by police officers from
Antipolo.29[29]
The unexplained presence of appellants in the house where the victim was held captive leads to no
other conclusion than that they participated in his illegal detention. Not a single appellant could
convincingly explain his presence at the crime scene. As aptly observed by the trial court:
Accused Benito and Eduardo both surnamed Felazol and Robert Tolentino claimed that they were at
the place where Co was rescued because their group repaired the car of Sgt. Salazar. However, the
Court cannot give much weight and credit to the defense of these three (3) accused considering that
if it is true that Sgt. Salazars car has to be repaired, he should have brought his car to an auto repair
shop. Sgt. Salazar has no reason to request accused Benito Felazol to repair his car, it appearing that
the latter is a driver and not a mechanic, hence, he has no technical know-how to repair a car.
Furthermore, it is unbelievable that Nympha Salazar, the wife of Sgt. Salazar would allow these
persons to sleep in their house considering that these persons are not personally known to their
family, because as testified to by Benito Felazol, he came to know Sgt. Salazar only when he
sidesw[iped] the car of the latter.
As regards the defense of accused Angelito Ang Diego, the Court sees no reason to believe his
testimony that he was at the crime scene because he remitted collection for some merchandise his
wife obtained from Mae Felasol Flores and thereafter, he drank with the three (3) persons whom he
does not know under the mango tree. The Court is not inclined to believe his story as it is against
human experience for a person to drink with some individuals unknown to him until the wee hours of
the morning.
Furthermore, accused Ang Diego testified that during the raid, at around 5:00 a.m., he jumped over
the fence and hides himself in the grasses outside the compound. However, when he gets out from
the grasses at around 12:00 noontime, the policemen from Antipolo apprehended him. At this
juncture, the Court could not see any reason why accused Ang Diego has to hide himself in the
grasses outside the compound for almost seven (7) hours if it is really true that he has nothing to do
with the kidnapping of Ruiz Saez-Co for an innocent person is bold as a lion.
As to the defense of accused Armando Panaguiton de Luna and Mae Felasol Flores that they were in
the safe house because they were live-in partners and that they were renting an extension house in
the compound, the Court believes and so holds that such contention is unworthy of belief and credit
because of some inconsistencies in their testimonies. Accused Armando Panaguiton de Luna when
asked on direct examination stated that her live-in partner, Mae Flores was a saleslady at Manuela
Crossing.
xxx
However, when Mae Flores was asked on direct examination, she stated that she was a vendor at
Edsa Central Crossing. x x x
Such inconsistencies in the testimonies of de Luna and Flores created a serious doubt in the mind of
the Court as to the truthfulness of their statements considering that if it is really true that they have
been living together, each of them know the place of work of one another and for how many years
they have been living together as husband and wife.
With respect to the claim of accused Rosalinda Trapago Tan that she was at the said place because
Nympha Estoquia fetched her at Monumento, such defense is unworthy of belief and credit.
It is implausible that accused Tan would go with a person whom she does not know personally, as she
admitted that she only knew Nympha thru the telephone. Moreover, it is unbelievable that a woman
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would go with a stranger for an undisclosed reason at an undisclosed place in that late hour of the
night (11:00 p.m.).
Likewise, the Court is not inclined to believe the story of accused Tan that she will agree to be left by
Nympha in the house owned by the latter when she is not even personally known to Nympha and
without any sufficient justification.
xxx
All the accused admitted that they were at the safe house when Ruiz Saez-Co was rescued on
September 16, 1997, although all of them deny having involvement in the kidnapping of the victim.
Their being present together in a questionable place, during a questionable hour of the night, only for
simple reasons given by each of them, gave doubt to the mind of the Court, that they are telling the
truth.30[30]
Under the circumstances, the fact that appellants came from different parts of Metro Manila and
offered no plausible reason for their presence at the enclosed estate where the victim was rescued
speaks tomes of their culpability.
Unfortunately, the owners of the house, Sgt. Salazar and Nympha, who could have corroborated
appellants alibis, were not presented in court. Sgt. Salazar was already dead on 15 September 1997.
Strangely, only Rosalinda knew of this fact when she was allegedly told by Nympha. The other
appellants, who admitted their presence in Salazars house, were not aware or even had the slightest
knowledge of Sgt. Salazars death. Nympha, whose presence in the house was affirmed by all of the
appellants, was not presented as a witness by the defense.
Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a
crime and decide to commit it. It may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence consisting of
acts, words or conduct of the alleged conspirators before, during and after the commission of the
felony to achieve a common design or purpose.31[31] That the appellants conspired to detain Ruiz
was evident in their collective and concerted acts before, during and after
the illegal detention. In the instant case, the following circumstances prove the existence of
conspiracy among appellants: (1) the nine (9) persons present in the house during the captivity of
Ruiz were all accounted for after the raid; (2) the recovery of high-powered firearms signified that
appellants were united in their design to restrain the victim of his liberty; and (3) the exchange of
gunfire resulting in the death of two kidnappers and wounding of one of the appellants demonstrated
their resistance to the arresting team.
The primary element of the crime of kidnapping is actual confinement, detention and restraint of the
victim. There must be a showing of actual confinement or restriction of the victim, and that such
deprivation was the intention of the malefactor.32[32] Hence, having proven that detention was
perpetrated by appellants, it is sufficient to convict them of the crimes of kidnapping and serious
illegal detention.
However, the demand for ransom was not clearly attributed to any of the appellants. Ruiz divulged
that the demand for ransom was intimated to him by a certain Ka Rudy. Sonia, in her testimony,
corroborated this fact, when she declared that they were able to negotiate the amount of ransom from
P40 Million to P1.2 Million in a

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series of calls made by Ka Rudy and a female caller.33[33] But the duo was never ascertained to be
any of the appellants. Thus, we are constrained to reverse the judgment of the trial court and
appellate court judgment in convicting appellants of kidnapping for ransom.
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is MODIFIED in that appellants Rosalinda Trapago Tan a.k.a.
Kaye Suarez Palino, Maria El Felasol Flores a.k.a. Mae Felasol Flores, Armando Panaguiton De
Luna, Benito Feolog Felazol, Eduardo Frondozo Felazol, Angelito Ang Diego, and Roberto Tolentino
are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. By virtue of this
modification, and not Republic Act No. 9346, the imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua on
each of the appellants in the appealed decision is AFFIRMED.
People v. Tan
G.R. No. 177566, March 26, 2008
Tinga, J.
FACTS: Armed men forcibly boarded Ruiz Saez Co into a car while he was just taking his meal outside his
companys premises. He was handcuffed and blindfolded while inside the car. After driving an hour, Ruiz was
led out of the car, brought inside a house, and locked into a room. A certain Ka Rudy told him that he had just
been kidnapped in exchange for Php 40 Million for his freedom. Meanwhile, Mrs. Sonia Co received a call
from the Vice Mayor of Cabuyao, Laguna that her son had been kidnapped. She immediately called VicePresident Estrada to seek assistance. Mrs. Co finally received a call from the alleged kidnapper who identified
himself as Ka Rudy. The latter confirmed that Ruiz was in his custody and the demand money was lowered to
Php 1.2 Million after negotiations. After surveillance, a team of policemen were able to locate the place where
Ruiz was being held captive. Police Officer Cesar Mancao, the head of the surveillance team, recounted that
seven persons were arrested. Also, there were several high-powered firearms that were recovered from the
house.
The trial court rendered a decision finding the appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of kidnaping
with ransom.
ISSUE: Whether or not the appellants committed the crime of kidnapping for ransom.
HELD: No. The primary element of kidnapping is actual confinement, detention and restraint of the victim.
There must be showing of actual confinement or restriction of the victim, and that such deprivation was the
intention of the malefactor. Hence, having proen that detention was perpetrated by appellants, it is sufficient to
convict them of the crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. However, the demand for ransom was
not clearly attributed to any of the appellants. Ruiz divulged that the deman for ransom was intimated to him by
a certain Ka Rudy. Mrs. Co, in her testimony, corroborated this fact, when she declared that they were able to
negotiate the amount of ransom from Php 40 Million to Php 1.2 Million in a series of calls made by Ka Rudy
and a female caller. But the duo was never ascertained to be any of the appellants. Thus, we are constrained
to reverse the judgment of the trial court and appellate court judgment in convicting appellants of kidnapping
for ransom.

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Gonzales VS HSBC
GONZALES VS HONGKONG SHANGHAI BANKING CORPORATIONS
G.R. 164904 October 19, 2007
FACTS:
In this petition for review on certiorari, petitioner Jose Antonio U. Gonzalez seeks the dismissal of
the complaint for violation of Presidential Decree No. 115, otherwise known as the Trust
Receipts Law, in relation to Art 315(1)(b) of the RPC, filed by respondent HSBC.
At the time of the incident, petitioner Gonzalez was the Chairman and CEO of Mondragon Leisure
and Resorts Corporation (MLRC). Gonzalez, for and in behalf of MLRC, acknowledged receipt of
various golfing equipments and assorted Walt Disney items, and signed the corresponding two
Trust Receipt agreements, i.e., Trust Receipt No. 001-016310-205 covering the various golfing
equipments, and Trust Receipt No. 001-016310-206 covering the assorted Walt Disney items,
both in favor of respondent HSBC.
When the due dates of subject Trust Receipts came and went without word from MLRC,
respondent HSBC, demanded from MLRC the turnover of the proceeds of the sale of the assorted
goods covered by the Trust Receipts or the return of said goods. Despite demand, however, MLRC
failed to return the assorted goods or their value. Consequently, HSBC filed a criminal complaint
for estafa, i.e., for violation of Presidential Decree No. 115, the Trust Receipts Law, in relation to
Art. No. 315(1)(b) of the Revised Penal Code against petitioner Gonzalez
Gonzales argues President (sic) Decree No. 115 must be read in conjunction with Article 315,
paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code under both it is required that the person charged with
estafa pursuant to a trust receipt transaction must be proved to have misappropriated, misused
or converted to his own personal use the proceeds of the goods covered by the trust receipts to
the damage of the entruster. Respondent HSBC, on the other hand, contends that petitioner is
criminally liable since [f]raud is not necessary for conviction for violation of the Trust Receipts
Law, the latter being in the nature of a malum prohibitum decree.
ISSUE: whether or not there is probable cause to hold petitioner Gonzalez liable to stand trial for
violation of Presidential Decree No. 115, in relation to Art. 315(1)(b) of the Revised Penal Code.
HELD/ RACIO DECIDENDI:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit
That petitioner Gonzalez neither had the intent to defraud respondent HSBC nor personally
misused/misappropriated the goods subject of the trust receipts is of no moment. The offense
punished under Presidential Decree No. 115 is in the nature of malum prohibitum. A mere failure
to deliver the proceeds of the sale or the goods if not sold, constitutes a criminal offense that
causes prejudice not only to another, but more to the public interest. This is a matter of public
policy as declared by the legislative authority. Moreover, this Court already held previously that

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failure of the entrustee to turn over the proceeds of the sale of the goods, covered by the trust
receipt, to the entruster or to return said goods if they were not disposed of in accordance with
the terms of the trust receipt shall be punishable asestafa under Art. 315(1)(b) of the Revised
Penal Code without need of proving intent to defraud.

EN BANC
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 173022
Appellee, [Formerly G.R. No. 144588]
Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
- versus -

YNARES-SANTIAGO,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CALLEJO, SR.,
DARIUS RODRIGO y FAJARDO
AZCUNA,
(acquitted), FELICIANO FAJARDO,
TINGA,
JR., and REY PLATA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
Appellants.
GARCIA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.
Promulgated:
January 23, 2007
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DECISION
Tinga, J.:
Before us on automatic review is the Decision34[1] rendered by the Court of Appeals, affirming
with modification the Decision35[2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Criminal Case No. 383-M-97,
convicting Rey Plata, alias Jeffrey (Plata), Darius Rodrigo, alias Jun (Rodrigo), and Feliciano Fajardo,
Jr., alias Gerry (Fajardo) of the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom, penalized under Republic Act No.
765936[3] with Death. Co-accused Rodrigo was acquitted on reasonable doubt.

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On 10 September 1996, Oliver Caparas (Oliver), then 13 years of age, was waiting for a ride to
school in a corner near his house in Matimbo, Malolos, Bulacan, when four (4) men forcibly seized
and boarded him into a car. While inside the car, he was blindfolded. He was later transferred to a
van.37[4] The van, tailed by a car, traveled to Baguio. While there, they slept overnight inside the van
in a parking lot.38[5]
The following day, Eleazar Caparas (Eleazar), the father of Oliver, received a call from the kidnappers
initially asking for P10 million ransom in exchange for the release of Oliver.39[6] In the meantime, the
kidnappers proceeded to Bonitas Resort in Pangasinan. 40[7] Oliver was then brought to a room and
his blindfold removed. He stayed inside the room for one (1) week. During his stay, a woman, later
identified as Lanie dela Cruz (dela Cruz), took care of him by feeding him three (3) times a day. 41[8]
After three (3) days of negotiation, the kidnappers agreed to lower the ransom to P1.7 million. 42[9] On
17 September 1996, Pedro Navarro (Pedro), an uncle of Oliver, was instructed by Eleazar Caparas to
deliver the ransom money. After receiving a call from the kidnappers, he proceeded to follow the
instructions on the drop-off. He eventually gave the money to a man whom he would later describe as
mestizo, 55 or 56 feet tall and wearing sunglasses. 43[10]
Later that night, Oliver was made to board the same van and brought to the Petron Gas Station in
Meycauayan Highway. Upon alighting from the van, he was given P500.00 and was told that he
would be fetched by his uncle inside a canteen in the gas station. 44[11] At around 1:00 a.m. of 18
September 1997, the kidnappers called Eleazar again and asked them to go to the Petron Gas
Station located between Meycauayan and Marilao along the Expressway. Upon arriving at the Petron
Station at 3:00 a.m, Pedro Navarro saw Oliver eating inside the canteen and brought him home
where he was reunited with his father.45[12]
After the kidnapping incident, an investigation was conducted by the Intelligence Section of the
Philippine National Police (PNP) in Malolos, Bulacan, through SPO2 Epafrodito Aliling and SPO2
Antonio Chungtuyco. It appears that one of the suspects was a member of an NPA rebel returnee
group headed by Armando Rodrigo, Jr.46[13] Upon the killing of Bert Liwanag, his girlfriend, dela Cruz,
who was a suspected member of the group, was invited for questioning. On that occasion, she
admitted her participation in the kidnapping of Oliver Caparas and implicated appellants. 47[14]
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46

12

An Information was filed on 11 March 1997 against appellants Plata, Fajardo and Rodrigo, together
with dela Cruz, Armando Rodrigo, Helen Joven, Boyong Catindig, Jun Parubrob, and a John Doe. It
reads:
That on or about the 10th day of September 1996, in the municipality of Malolos, province of
Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
with force, violence and intimidation, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kidnap and take away one Oliver Caparas y
Navarro, a 13-year old boy for the purpose of extorting ransom and detain and deprive him of his
liberty for a period of seven (7) days, more or less and later released after ransom money in the sum
of P1.7M was paid by the victims father to the accused.
Contrary to law.48[15]
Four of the accused were apprehended, namely: Plata, Rodrigo, Fajardo and dela Cruz. The rest
remained at large. The trial court, upon motion of the prosecution, discharged Dela Cruz to serve as
state witness.49[16]
On arraignment, appellants pleaded not guilty. Thereafter, trial proceeded. The prosecution presented
the following witnesses: the kidnap victim, Oliver Caparas, his father Eleazar Caparas, his uncle
Pedro Navarro, SPO2 Antonio Chungtuyco, SPO2 Epafrodito Aliling, and accused turned witness
dela Cruz. The defense presented their evidence, which consists of the testimonies of appellants and
other witnesses supporting their alibi.
On 31 May 2000, the RTC rendered its decision finding all appellants guilty beyond reasonable
doubt. Appellants elevated the case to the Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed the trial
courts decision except that it acquitted Rodrigo.
Appellants Plata and Fajardo submitted their individual appeal briefs. Essentially, the main
issue for resolution is whether the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of
appellants.
The guilt of the appellants was established beyond reasonable doubt by the testimonies of the victim,
the man who paid the ransom, and a fellow participant to the crime, who had turned state witness for
the prosecution.
Fajardo questions dela Cruzs discharge as a state witness on the ground that she was a coconspirator. He contends that the testimony of Pedro, Oliver and Eleazar Caparas would already
suffice as direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed. 50[17]
Section 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court provides:
When two or more persons are jointly charged with the commission of any offense, upon motion of
the prosecution before resting its case, 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, after requiring the
prosecution to present evidence and the sworn statement of each proposed state witness at a
hearing in support of the discharge, the court is satisfied that:
(a) There is absolute necessity for the testimony of the accused whose discharge is requested;
47
48
49
50

13

(b) There is no other direct evidence available for the proper prosecution of the offense committed,
except the testimony of said accused;
(c) The testimony of said accused can be substantially corroborated in its material points;
(d) Said accused does not appear to be the most guilty; and
(e) Said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.
Evidence adduced in support of the discharge shall automatically form part of the trial. If the court
denies the motion for discharge of the accused as state witness, his sworn statement shall be
inadmissible in evidence.
The power to prosecute includes the initial discretion to determine who should be utilized by the
government as a state witness. The prosecution has gathered the evidence against the accused and
is in a better position to decide the testimonial evidence needed by the State to press its prosecution
to a successful conclusion. Under our Rules, however, it is the courts that will finally determine
whether the requirements have been satisfied to justify the discharge of an accused to become a
witness for the government.51[18]
We affirm the finding of the trial court that the testimony of dela Cruz was an absolute necessity. The
trial court observed:
x x x x Without the testimony of dela Cruz, the prosecution is bound to falter in bringing all the culprits
before the bars of justice, the ominous prospect of leaving many of them not fully identified and their
respective role in the crime unraveled loom large for the prosecution to ignore. True, the prosecution
has direct evidence in the person of Pedro Navarro and Oliver Caparas, but, apparently, in view of the
complex situation the two have found themselves in their testimonies have taken a limited thrust,
hence, it becomes the bounden duty of the prosecution to fill in the void with all the resources under
its command. From the prosecutions standpoint, therefore, insofar, as the other accused are
concerned, no direct evidence is at its disposal at this stage to establish their complicity in the
abduction of Caparas. Only dela Cruz, according to them, could supply the much needed information
to pin down the whole bunch that took Caparas forcibly for ransom. Following their line of reasoning,
without dela Cruzs testimony, the whole truth would never be known. Along these considerations, the
reality of de la Cruz testimony being an absolute necessity in the trial of this case stands indisputable,
and given the absence of any evidence against some of the accused, as pointed out above, de la
Cruz testimony shall, in legal contemplation, constitute the only direct evidence as against them.. 52
[19]
Neither does dela Cruz appear to be the most guilty of the accused. The trial court held that dela Cruz
was not privy to the kidnap plan and was merely taken in later by the group because they suspected
that she already knew too much.
Did the lower courts properly consider the testimony of dela Cruz? It is a jurisprudential rule that the
testimony of a self-confessed accomplice or co-conspirator imputing the blame to or implicating his
co-accused cannot, by itself and without corroboration, be regarded as proof with a moral certainty
that the latter committed or participated in the commission of the crime. The testimony must be
substantially corroborated in its material points by unimpeachable testimony and strong
circumstances and must be to such an extent that its trustworthiness becomes manifest. 53[20] The
testimony of dela Cruz was substantially corroborated by no less than the victim himself, Oliver, as
well as Pedro.
The trial courts decision rested mainly on the harmony in the testimonies of Oliver and dela Cruz.
During the direct examination, Oliver gave an account of how he was seized by four (4) armed men:
51
52
53

14

THIRD DIVISION

CARMEN RITUALO y RAMOS,

G. R. No. 178337

Petitioner,

Present:
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
PERALTA, and
BERSAMIN,* JJ.
- versus -

Promulgated:
June 25, 2009

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


*

15
Respondent.

x--------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
For review is the Decision54[1] of the Court of Appeals promulgated on 23 April 2007 in CAG.R. CR. No. 29393 entitled, People of the Philippines v. Carmen Ritualo y Ramos, affirming with
modification, the Decision55[2] dated 1 December 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 199,
Las Pias City, in Criminal Cases No. 01-0076 and No. 01-0077.
In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, petitioner
Carmen Ritualo y Ramos (petitioner Ritualo) prays for the reversal of the appellate courts decision
affirming with modification the decision of the trial court finding her guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
[committing] the crimes of x x x Simple Illegal Recruitment [defined and punished] under Section 7 of
Republic Act No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, 56[3] and Estafa.57[4]
This case originated from two Informations, both dated 2 January 2001, which charged Ritualo with the
crimes of Illegal Recruitment defined and penalized by Republic Act No. 8042; and Estafa under Art. 315, par.
2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, respectively. The accusatory portion of the first Information reads as follows:

That on or about the 1st day of May, 2000, in the City of Las Pias, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, falsely representing herself to
have the capacity and power to contract, enlist and recruit workers for employment abroad, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously collect for a fee, recruit and promise
employment/job placement abroad to Felix Biacora without first securing the required license or
authority from the Department of Labor and Employment.58[5]

The one for Estafa states, viz:

That during the periods (sic) from May 1, 2000 to June 1, 2000, in the City of Las Pias,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above named accused, with
intent of gain, by means of false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed prior to or
54
55
56
57
58

16
simultaneously with the commission of the fraud, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously defraud the Complainant Felix Biacora amounting to P80,000.00 committed in the
following manner to wit: that the Accused represented to the Complainant that she was
authorized or licensed by the Department of Labor and Employment to recruit workers for
overseas employment and that she could send Complainant to work abroad (Australia) as farm
worker as soon as possible, knowing very well that such representation is false and was
intended only to get money from the Complainant and the Complainant after relying from the
said representations made by the accused, handed to the accused the said amount and the
accused, once in possession of the money, misappropriated, misapplied and converted the
same for her personal use and benefit, and not withstanding repeated demands failed and
refused to pay the said amount of P80,000.00 to the damage and prejudice of the Complainant
in the aforementioned amount of P80,000.00.59[6]

The foregoing were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 01-0076 and No. 0077 and raffled to Branch 275 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Las Pias City.

Upon arraignment on 24 May 2001, petitioner Ritualo, duly assisted by counsel de oficio, pleaded Not
Guilty to the crimes charged.60[7]
On 26 May 2003, during the joint trial of the cases, petitioner Ritualo orally manifested in open court
that earnest efforts were being undertaken to settle the civil aspect thereof. Thus, with the conformity of the
accused, herein petitioner Ritualo, coupled with the latters express waiver apropos the attachment of double
jeopardy, the RTC ordered61[8] the provisional dismissal of the two cases.

On 13 October 2003, however, the RTC ordered62[9] the revival of the cases upon the motion of the
prosecution, on the ground that Ritualo reneged on her undertaking as embodied in a handwritten note
entitled, Kasunduan viz:

May 26, 2003

Kasunduan

59
60
61
62

17
Ako si Carmen Ritualo, ay sa araw na ito May 26, 2003, nagbabayad kay Felix Biacora
ng halagang Sampunglibong Piso (P10,000.00) at ang natirang Twenty One Thousand Pesos
ay babayaran ko sa loob ng Tatlong Buwan magmula ngayon.

(Sgd.)
Carmen Ritualo
Akusado

Sumang-ayon:

(Sgd.)
Felix Biacora
Complainant63[10]

In the ensuing trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses, namely, Felix Biacora, the victim;64[11]
and Belen Blones, employee of the Licensing Branch of the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency
(POEA). Taken altogether, the evidence of the prosecution established the following facts:

In 1993, Felix Biacora went to Saudi Arabia for overseas employment that was facilitated by one
Cynthia Libutan (Libutan) who worked for a recruitment agency.65[12] Several years after his return to the
country, Biacora accidentally met Libutan in Baclaran Church sometime in 2000. After they exchanged
pleasantries, the former signified to the latter his desire to seek another overseas employment. Libutan then
gave Biacora the name, address and contact number of her friend, one Carmen Ritualo, the petitioner herein,
who was able to help Libutans sister find work in Australia. Biacora thereafter called petitioner Ritualo to set up
a meeting.

On 1 May 2000, accompanied by his wife, Biacora went to the house of petitioner Ritualo and inquired
from her whether she could help him secure overseas employment in Australia. Petitioner Ritualo answered in
the affirmative, and to be convincing, brought out travel documents of several people she was able to help,
who were then supposedly scheduled to leave for abroad pretty soon.66[13] Biacora was then assured that:

63
64
65

18
[He could] leave for Australia [in a months time] if [he] will give [petitioner Ritualo] a total amount
of P160,000.00, and [his] salary would be US$700.00 per month as a farm worker.67[14]

On the above-quoted representation on the same date, Biacora paid petitioner Ritualo the amount of
P40,000.00 as downpayment, with the balance to be completed before he left for Australia. Upon receipt of the
money, petitioner Ritualo issued Biacora a Cash Voucher68[15] as evidence of said payment. To complete their
transaction, Biacora left her a copy of his Bio-data.69[16]

On 4 May 2000, Biacora again gave petitioner Ritualo P20,000.00 as additional payment, making the
total amount received by the latter P60,000.00. Again, petitioner Ritualo issued a Cash Voucher.70[17]

Subsequently, Biacora was informed by petitioner Ritualo that all he needed in securing an employment
in Australia was his Passport and an endorsement from the Representative of his district. Accompanied by
petitioner Ritualo and one Anita Seraspe, the assistant71[18] of the former, Biacora went to the Batasan
Pambansa to secure the necessary endorsement. Thereafter, all three went to the Australian Embassy to apply
for Biacoras working visa.

On 1 June 2000, Biacora went to see petitioner Ritualo to follow up the date of his departure. Petitioner
Ritualo asked from Biacora another P20,000.00 and told the latter to be patient. As with the other amounts
given, proof of payment72[19] was similarly issued to acknowledge receipt thereof.

Several dates were set for Biacoras departure, but none pushed through. To top it all, his Australian
Visa application was denied by the Australian Embassy. Consequently, on 9 September 2000, Biacora
demanded from petitioner Ritualo the return of the P80,000.00. The latter promised to pay back the money on
the 13th of September 2000. None came.

66
67
68
69
70
71
72

19
Thereafter, Biacora filed the subject criminal complaints against petitioner Ritualo.

In two Certifications dated 23 October 200073[20] and 5 November 2003,74[21] respectively, both
identified by Belen Blones of the Licensing Division of the POEA, it was confirmed that per available records of
[its] Office, CARMEN RITUALO, in her personal capacity is not licensed by this Administration to recruit
workers for overseas employment75[22]; and that [a]ny recruitment activity undertaken by [her] is deemed
illegal.76[23]

To rebut the foregoing evidence presented by the prosecution, the defense presented a diametrically
opposed version of the facts of the present case through the sole testimony of Ritualo.

In her testimony, Ritualo narrated that it was Libutan and Biacora who asked her to introduce them to a
certain Anita Seraspe, the person responsible for sending petitioner Ritualos own sister to Australia;77[24] that
she had no agreement with Biacora respecting the latters employment in Australia; that any talk of money was
made among Libutan, Biacora and Seraspe only; that she received a total of P80,000.00 from Biacora, but that
the same was merely entrusted to her because Libutan and Biacora had just met Seraspe,78[25] and that she
turned over all the payments to Seraspe who acknowledged receipt of the same by writing on pieces of paper
said acceptance; that she accompanied Biacora to Batasan Pambansa at his request; that she did not earn
any money out of her referral and introduction of Libutan and Biacora to Seraspe; that even if she did not earn
any money out of the subject transaction, she returned P10,000.00 and P31,000.00, or a total of P41,000.00,
to Biacora out of fear that the latter would file charges against her; that she tried to find Seraspe, but the latter
could not be found at her last known address; and that she gave Biacora an additional P6,000.000 to obviate
any more scandal befalling her family.79[26]

On 1 December 2004, after trial, the RTC found the evidence presented by the prosecution to
be more credible and logical than that presented by the defense and thus, convicted Ritualo for the
crimes of Simple Illegal Recruitment and Estafa, defined and penalized under the Migrant Workers
and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 and the Revised Penal Code, respectively. The dispositive portion
of the trial courts judgment stated:

73
74
75
76
77
78
79

20

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds accused CARMEN


RITUALO y RAMOS, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of:
1.Simple Illegal Recruitment (Criminal Case Number 01-0076) under Section 7 of
Republic Act No. 8042 otherwise known as the Migrant Workers Act of
1995, and sentences her to suffer an Indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment of Six (6) years and ONE (1) day, as minimum, to EIGHT (8)
years, as maximum, and to pay a fine of P200,000.00.
2.

In Criminal Case Number 01-0077 for Estafa, herein accused is hereby


sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of prison term of six (6)
months and One (1) day of Prission (sic) Correctional (sic), as minimum,
to seven (7) years, eleven (11) months and eleven (11) days of Prision
Mayor, as maximum and is ORDERED to indemnify Felix Biacora actual
damages in the amount of P66,000.00 which is minus the amount of
P14,000.00 which the private complainant admitted to have been refunded
to him.

Cost de oficio.80[27]

Ritualos Motion for Reconsideration of the trial courts decision was subsequently denied in an
Order [28] dated 21 January 2005.
81

In an Order82[29] dated 1 March 2005, the RTC granted and approved the Notice of
Appeal83[30] filed by Ritualo.

The Court of Appeals, in its Decision promulgated on 23 April 2007, affirmed the judgment of
the RTC insofar as the conviction of Ritualo was concerned. As reasoned by the Court of Appeals,
[a]s against the positive and categorical testimony of the [Biacora], [Ritualos] denials cannot prevail. 84
[31] Particularly, the appellate court held that Ritualos acts of promising and assuring employment
overseas to [Biacora] [fell] squarely within the ambit of recruitment and placement as defined by [The
Migrant Workers Act or Republic Act No. 8042]. 85[32] With respect to the charge of Estafa under the
Revised Penal Code, the appellate court likewise found that all the elements of said crime existed in
the case at bar, i.e., [Ritualo] misrepresented herself to the [Biacora] as the person who could send
him to Australia for employment, and by reason of misrepresentations, false assurances and deceit,

80
81
82
83
84
85

21

[Biacora] was induced to part with his money in payment of placement fees, thereby causing him
damage and prejudice.86[33]

The penalties imposed on Ritualo by the trial court, however, were modified by the Court of
Appeals on the ground that the latter erred in imposing in the Illegal Recruitment case, an
indeterminate sentence ranging from six (6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to eight (8) years, as
maximum, and to pay a fine of P200,000.00,87[34] in view of the penalty prescribed under Sec. 7 of
Republic Act No. 8042; and, in the Estafa case, another indeterminate sentence ranging from six (6)
months and one (1) day of prision correcional, as minimum, to seven (7) years, eleven (11) months
and eleven (11) days of prision mayor, as maximum, contrary to the wordings of Art. 315 of the
Revised Penal Code.

The fallo of the Court of Appeals decision is restated:

UPON THE VIEW WE TAKE OF THESE CASES, THUS, the appealed decision
finding the accused-appellant Carmen Ritualo y Ramos guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of Simple Illegal Recruitment and Estafa is AFFIRMED, with the following
MODIFICATIONS
1.In Criminal Case No. 01-0076 (Simple Illegal Recruitment), the accusedappellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12)
years and to pay a fine of P500,000.00.

2.

In Criminal Case No. 01-0077 (Estafa), the accused-appellant is


sentenced to an indeterminate prison term of four (4) years and two (2)
months of prision correctional (sic), as minimum, to twelve (12) years of
prision mayor, as maximum, and to indemnify the private complainant
Felix Biacora the sum of P66,000.00 with the interest thereon at the legal
rate from September 21, 2000 until the same is fully paid.

Costs shall also be taxed against the accused-appellant. 88[35]

Hence, Ritualo filed the instant petition for review.


86
87
88

22

In this petition, Ritualo prayed for the reversal of the decision of the RTC, as affirmed with
modification by the Court of Appeals, on the basis of the following assignment of errors:
I.
WHETHER THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING WITH
MODIFICATION THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT DESPITE THE
FACT THAT THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD COULD NOT SUPPORT A CONVICTION;
and
II.
ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THE PETITIONER IS CULPABLE, THE HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN MODIFYING THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT AS REGARDS THE TERM OF SENTENCE IN THE ILLEGAL
RECRUITMENT CASE.89[36]
Essentially, she argues that there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that x x x [she] gave
Biacora a distinct impression that she had the power or ability to send him abroad for work such that
the latter was convinced to part with his money.90[37] Petitioner Ritualo maintains that Biacora
transacted with Seraspe and not with her. Assuming for the sake of argument that she and Biacora
had any agreement with each other, petitioner Ritualo insisted that it was merely to facilitate the
latters application for an Australian Visa. Particularly, she pointed out that the prosecution failed to
present other witnesses who could have corroborated the claim of Biacora that she (Ritualo)
promised him employment abroad. Anent the penalty imposed by the courts, petitioner disputed the
appellate courts reasoning and claimed that the same was improper in view of the ruling of this Court
in People v. Gallardo,91[38] in which therein respondent was also convicted of Simple Illegal
Recruitment.
The Office of the Solicitor General, for the People of the Philippines, on the other hand,
asserted that the findings of the Court of Appeals were supported by the records of the case, i.e.,
Biacora was consistent in his testimony that it was petitioner who illegally recruited him for work as a
farmhand in Australia. Thus, [a]s against the positive and categorical testimony of the private
complainant (Biacora), petitioners denial cannot prevail.

We find no merit in the petition.

Having weighed the evidence for the contending parties, there is no cogent reason to reverse
the findings and conclusion of the RTC as affirmed by the Court of Appeals.

The crime of Simple Illegal Recruitment is defined and penalized under Sec. 6 of Republic Act.
No. 8042, which reads:

89
90
91

23

SEC. 6. Definition. - For purposes of this Act, illegal recruitment shall mean any
act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or procuring
workers and includes referring, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment abroad, whether for profit or not, when undertaken by a non-licensee or
non-holder of authority contemplated under Article 13(f) of Presidential Decree No. 442,
as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines: Provided, That any
such non-licensee or non-holder who, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee
employment abroad to two or more persons shall be deemed so engaged. It shall
likewise include the following acts, whether committed by any person, whether a nonlicensee, non-holder, licensee or holder of authority:
(a) To charge or accept directly or indirectly any amount greater than that
specified in the schedule of allowable fees prescribed by the Secretary of Labor and
Employment, or to make a worker pay any amount greater than that actually received
by
him
as
a
loan
or
advance;
(b) To furnish or publish any false notice or information or document in relation to
recruitment
or
employment;
(c) To give any false notice, testimony, information or document or commit any
act of misrepresentation for the purpose of securing a license or authority under the
Labor Code;
(d) To induce or attempt to induce a worker already employed to quit his
employment in order to offer him another unless the transfer is designed to liberate a
worker
from
oppressive
terms
and
conditions
of
employment;
worker

(e) To influence or attempt to influence any person or entity not to employ any
who has not applied for employment through his agency;

(f) To engage in the recruitment or placement of workers in jobs harmful to public


health or morality or to the dignity of the Republic of the Philippines;
(g) To obstruct or attempt to obstruct inspection by the Secretary of Labor and
Employment or by his duly authorized representative;
(h) To fail to submit reports on the status of employment, placement vacancies,
remittance of foreign exchange earnings, separation from jobs, departures and such
other matters or information as may be required by the Secretary of Labor and
Employment;
(i) To substitute or alter to the prejudice of the worker, employment contracts
approved and verified by the Department of Labor and Employment from the time of
actual signing thereof by the parties up to and including the period of the expiration of
the same without the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment;
(j) For an officer or agent of a recruitment or placement agency to become an
officer or member of the Board of any corporation engaged in travel agency or to be
engaged directly or indirectly in the management of a travel agency;
(k) To withhold or deny travel documents from applicant workers before departure
for monetary or financial considerations other than those authorized under the Labor
Code
and
its
implementing
rules
and
regulations;
(l) Failure to actually deploy without valid reason as determined by the
Department of Labor and Employment ; and
(m) Failure to reimburse expenses incurred by the worker in connection with his
documentation and processing for purposes of deployment, in cases where the
deployment does not actually take place without the worker's fault. Illegal recruitment

24

when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense


involving economic sabotage.
Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group
of three (3) or more persons conspiring or confederating with one another. It is deemed
committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or
as a group.

The persons criminally liable for the above offenses are the principals,
accomplices and accessories. In case of juridical persons, the officers having control,
management or direction of their business shall be liable.

Art. 315, par. 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand, enumerates one of the
modes of committing estafa, thus:

xxxx
2. By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed
prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:
(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence,
qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means
of other similar deceits.
Illegal recruitment is committed when two essential elements concur:

(1)
that the offender has no valid license or authority required by law to
enable him to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers, and

(2)
that the offender undertakes any activity within the meaning of recruitment
and placement defined under Article 13(b), or any prohibited practices enumerated
under Article 34 of the Labor Code.92[39]

Article 13(b) of the Labor Code defines recruitment and placement as:

Any act of canvassing, enlisting, contracting, transporting, utilizing, hiring, or


procuring workers, and includes referrals, contract services, promising or advertising for
employment, locally or abroad, whether for profit or not: Provided, that any person or
92

25

entity which, in any manner, offers or promises for a fee employment to two or more
persons shall be deemed engaged in recruitment and placement. (Emphasis supplied.)

In this case, the first element is, indeed, present. The prosecution established, through Belen
Blones of the Licensing Branch of the POEA, who identified and confirmed the two Certifications
issued by the POEA Licensing Branch, that per available records of [its] Office, CARMEN RITUALO,
in her personal capacity is not licensed by this Administration to recruit workers for overseas
employment.93[40]

As to the second element, it must be shown that the accused gave the private complainant the
distinct impression that he/she had the power or ability to send the private complainant abroad for
work, such that the latter was convinced to part with his/her money in order to be employed. 94[41]
Thus, to be engaged in illegal recruitment, it is plain that there must at least be a promise or an offer
of employment from the person posing as a recruiter whether locally or abroad. 95[42] In the case at
bar, the second element is similarly present. As testified to by Biacora, petitioner Ritualo professed to
have the ability to send him overseas to be employed as a farm worker in Australia with a monthly
salary of US$700.00.96[43] To further wet Biacoras appetite, petitioner Ritualo even showed him
purported travel documents of other people about to depart, whose overseas employment she
supposedly facilitated. That petitioner Ritualo personally assisted Biacora in the completion of the
alleged requirements, i.e., securing a Letter of Request and Guarantee from the Representative of his
Congressional District in Batangas to ensure the approval of Biacoras application for an Australian
Visa, even accompanying Biacora to the Australian Embassy, all clearly point to her efforts to
convince Biacora that she (petitioner Ritualo) had, indeed, the ability and influence to make Biacoras
dream of overseas employment come true.

The claim of petitioner Ritualo that it was Anita Seraspe who was really the recruiter and the
one who profited from the subject illegal transaction holds no water. Petitioner Ritualos act of
receiving payment from Biacora and issuing personal receipts therefor; of personally assisting
Biacora to complete the necessary documents; of failing to present evidence to corroborate her
testimony despite several opportunities given her by the trial court; of petitioner Ritualo having been
positively identified as the person who transacted with Biacora and promised the latter an overseas
employment and who personally received money from Biacora, all unhesitatingly point to petitioner
Ritualo as the culprit.

The following oral and documentary evidence are worth reproducing:


93
94
95
96

26

COURT:

Q:How many times did you receive money from private complainant?

WITNESS:

Three (3) times, Your Honor.

Q:

The first time?

A:

My first time is Php40,000.00, Your Honor.

Q:

The second time?

A:

Php20,000.00, Your Honor.

Q:

Third time?

A:

Php20,000.00, Your Honor.

Q:

When you received these amounts of money, who issued the private complainant
a receipt?

A:

I was the one, Your Honor.97[44]

The first Cash Voucher issued by petitioner Ritualo declares:


97

27

CASH VOUCHER

5-1-2000

Payment for document Australia fourty (sic) thousand (sic) pesos (sic) only
(P40,000.00)

RECEIVED from Felix Evangelista Biacora the amount of PESOS


fourty thousand pesos (P40,000.00) in full payment of amount
described above.

By: (Sgd.) Carmen Ritualo98[45]

The second, on 4 May 2000, states:

CASH VOUCHER

5-4-2000

Payment for document Australia twenty (sic) thousand (sic) pesos (sic) only
(P20,000.00)

RECEIVED from Felix Biacora the amount of PESOS twenty


thousand (P20,000.00) in full payment of amount described above.

98

28

By: (Sgd.) Carmen Ritualo99[46]

And the third receipt reads:

RECEIPT

No. _____________

Date: 6-1-2000

RECEIVED from Felix Biacora the sum of Pesos Twenty thousand (P20,000.00)
as payment for for Visa.

Partial _______

Cash __________

Balance ______

Check No. _______


(Sgd.) Carmen Ritualo
Authorized Signature100[47]

Petitioner Ritualo next tried to impress upon this Court that she received nary a centavo from
the subject illegal transaction; therefore, she should not be held liable.

We reject this outright. In the first place, it has been abundantly shown that she really received
the monies from Biacora. Secondly, even without consideration for her services, she still engaged in
recruitment activities, since it was satisfactorily shown that she promised overseas employment to
Biacora. And, more importantly, Sec. 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 does not require that the illegal
recruitment be done for profit.

Petitioner Ritualo boldly but vainly tried to inject reasonable doubt by complaining that the RTC
and the Court of Appeals affirmed her conviction despite failure of the prosecution to present other
vital witness, i.e., Biacoras wife, who accompanied her husband to the house of petitioner Ritualo
99
100

29

and, hence, witnessed what happened on the first meeting between the latter and Biacora. Nonpresentation of said witness, according to petitioner Ritualo, raises the presumption that her
testimony, if presented, would be adverse to the prosecution.

The prosecution is entitled to conduct its own case and to decide what witnesses to call to support its
charges.101[48] The defense posture that the non-presentation of the wife of Biacora constitutes
suppression of evidence favorable to petitioner Ritualo is fallacious. In fact, the same line of
reasoning can be used against petitioner Ritualo. If the defense felt that the testimony of Biacoras
wife would support her defense, what she could and should have done was to call her (Biacoras wife)
to the stand as her own witness. One of the constitutional rights of the accused is "to have
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his
behalf." And, in the same vein, since petitioner Ritualo is setting the cloak of liability on Seraspes
shoulder, she (petitioner Ritualo) could and should have had the former subpoenaed as well.
As held by this Court, the adverse presumption of suppression of evidence does not,
moreover, apply where the evidence suppressed is merely corroborative or cumulative in nature. 102
[49] If presented, Biacoras wife would merely corroborate Biacoras account which, by itself, already
detailed what occurred on the day of the parties first meeting at the house of petitioner Ritualo.
Hence, the prosecution committed no fatal error in dispensing with the testimony of Biacoras wife.
Finally, Biacora, the private complainant in this case, did not harbor any ill motive to testify
falsely against petitioner Ritualo. The latter failed to show any animosity or ill feeling on the part of
Biacora that could have motivated him to falsely accuse her of the crimes charged. It would be
against human nature and experience for strangers to conspire and accuse another stranger of a
most serious crime just to mollify their hurt feelings.103[50]

The totality of the evidence in the case at bar, when scrutinized and taken together, leads to no
other conclusion than that petitioner Ritualo engaged in recruiting and promising overseas
employment to Felix Biacora under the above-quoted Sec. 6 of Republic Act No. 8042 vis--vis Article
13(b) of the Labor Code. Hence, she cannot now feign ignorance of the consequences of her
unlawful acts.

As to the sentence imposed upon petitioner Ritualo for the crime of simple illegal recruitment,
this Court clarifies that the penalty imposed by the Court of Appeals a sentence of 12 years
imprisonment and a fine of P500,000.00 - is partly incorrect, as petitioner Ritualo is a non-licensee. 104
[51] Under Sec. 7(a) of Republic Act No. 8042, simple illegal recruitment is punishable by
imprisonment of not less than six (6) years and one (1) day but not more than twelve (12) years and a
fine of not less than Two Hundred Thousand Pesos (P200,000.00) nor more than Five Hundred
Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00). Applying the provisions of Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence
law, however, the correct penalty that should have been imposed upon petitioner Ritualo is
101
102
103
104

30

imprisonment for the period of eight (8) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to twelve (12) years, as
maximum.105[52] The imposition of a fine of P500,000.00 is also in order.

With respect to the criminal charge of estafa, this Court likewise affirms the conviction of
petitioner Ritualo for said crime. The same evidence proving petitioner Ritualos criminal liability for
illegal recruitment also established her liability for estafa. It is settled that a person may be charged
and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under Republic Act No. 8042 in relation to the Labor
Code, and estafa under Art. 315, paragraph 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code. As this Court held in
People v. Yabut106[53]:

In this jurisdiction, it is settled that a person who commits illegal recruitment may
be charged and convicted separately of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and
estafa under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code. The offense of illegal
recruitment is malum prohibitum where the criminal intent of the accused is not
necessary for conviction, while estafa is malum in se where the criminal intent of the
accused is crucial for conviction. Conviction for offenses under the Labor Code does not
bar conviction for offenses punishable by other laws. Conversely, conviction for estafa
under par. 2(a) of Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code does not bar a conviction for
illegal recruitment under the Labor Code. It follows that ones acquittal of the crime of
estafa will not necessarily result in his acquittal of the crime of illegal recruitment in large
scale, and vice versa.

The prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that petitioner Ritualo was similarly
guilty of estafa under Art. 315 (2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code committed --

By means of any of the following false pretenses or fraudulent acts executed


prior to or simultaneously with the commission of the fraud:

(a) By using fictitious name, or falsely pretending to possess power, influence,


qualifications, property, credit, agency, business or imaginary transactions, or by means
of other similar deceits.

Both elements of the crime were established in this case, namely, (a) petitioner Ritualo
defrauded complainant by abuse of confidence or by means of deceit; and (b) complainant Biacora
105
106

31

suffered damage or prejudice capable of pecuniary estimation as a result. 107[54] Biacora parted with
his money upon the prodding and enticement of petitioner Ritualo on the false pretense that she had
the capacity to deploy him for employment in Australia. In the end, Biacora was neither able to leave
for work overseas nor did he get his money back, thus causing him damage and prejudice. Hence,
the conviction of petitioner Ritualo of the crime of estafa should be upheld.

While this Court affirms the conviction of the petitioner Ritualo for estafa, we find, however, that
both the trial court and the appellate court erroneously computed the penalty of the crime. The
amount of which the private complainant, Biacora, was defrauded was Eighty Thousand Pesos
(P80,000.00) and not merely Sixty Six Thousand Pesos (P66,000.00).

Under the Revised Penal Code, an accused found guilty of estafa shall be sentenced to:

Art. 315. Swindling (estafa). Any person who shall defraud another by any of the
means mentioned herein below shall be punished by:

1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in
its minimum period, if the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 pesos but does not exceed
22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds the latter sum, the penalty provided in this
paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding one year for each additional
10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty
years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be
imposed under the provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or
reclusion temporal, as the case may be.

2nd. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if
the amount of the fraud is over 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos;

3rd. The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in
its minimum period if such amount is over 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos;
and

4th. By arresto mayor in its maximum period, if such amount does not exceed
200 pesos, x x x.

107

32

Computing the penalty for the crime of Estafa based on the above-quoted provision, the proper
penalty to be imposed upon petitioner Ritualo is the maximum term of prision correccional maximum
to prision mayor minimum as mandated by Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. But considering
that the amount defrauded exceeded Twenty-Two Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00), per the same
provision, the prescribed penalty is not only imposed in its maximum period, but there is imposed an
incremental penalty of one (1) year imprisonment for every Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) in
excess of the cap of Twenty-Two Thousand Pesos (P22,000.00).108[55] As this Court held in People v.
Gabres,109[56] [t]he fact that the amounts involved in the instant case exceed P22,000.00 should not
be considered in the initial determination of the indeterminate penalty; instead, the matter should be
so taken as analogous to modifying circumstances in the imposition of the maximum term of the full
indeterminate sentence.110[57] And with respect to the computation of the minimum term of the
indeterminate sentence, in this case, given that the penalty prescribed by law for the estafa charge
against petitioner Ritualo is prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum, the penalty next
lower would then be prision correccional minimum to medium per Art. 64 in relation to Art. 65, both of
the Revised Penal Code.

Preceding from the above discussion, thus, the prison term to be imposed upon petitioner
Ritualo vis--vis the crime of Estafa is as follows: the minimum term should be anywhere within six (6)
months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional; while the
maximum term of the indeterminate sentence should be within the range of six (6) years, eight (8)
months and twenty-one (21) days to eight (8) years of prision mayor considering that the amount
involved exceeds P22,000.00, plus an added five (5) years, as there are five (5) increments of
P10,000.00 over the cap of P22,000.00.111[58]

Lastly, regarding the award of indemnity due from petitioner Ritualo, both the RTC and Court of
Appeals ordered her to pay Biacora the amount of Sixty-Six Thousand Pesos (P66,000.00), instead
of the original amount defrauded, which is Eighty Thousand Pesos (P80,000.00), in view of petitioner
Ritualos payment of Fourteen Thousand Pesos (P14,000.00). A thorough scrutiny of the record of the
case, however, yields the finding that as of the date of revival of the case before the RTC, or on 13
October 2003, only the amount of Twenty-One Thousand Pesos (P21,000.00) remains unpaid. The
Motion to Revive Case dated 2 October 2003 filed by the prosecution attached the letter-request of
private complainant Biacora, elucidating thus:

I, MR. FELIX BIACORA, complainant against MRS. CARMEN RITUALO with


Case No. 01-0076-77. This case is temporary (sic) dismissed on May 26, 2003 in
Branch 1999 (sic).

108
109
110
111

33

On May 26, 2003 MRS. CARMEN RITUALO made written promise that she will
pay the balance amounting P21,000.00 Twenty Thousand Pesos after 3 months but she
failed.

Due that (sic) her promise did not materialized (sic), I personally request the Hon.
Court to REVIVE this case.

Respectfully yours,

(Sgd.) MR. FELIX BIACORA

With the foregoing submission of Biacora, out of the amount of Eighty Thousand Pesos
(P80,000.00), only Twenty-One Thousand Pesos (P21,000.00) remains unpaid. Accordingly, the civil
liability of petitioner Ritualo is now merely Twenty-One Thousand Pesos (P21,000.00).

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR
No. 29393 promulgated on 23 April 2007 is AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:

(1)
In Criminal Case No. 01-0076, petitioner Carmen Ritualo is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Simple Illegal Recruitment, and is sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate prison term of eight (8) years and one (1) day as minimum, to twelve (12) years, as
maximum, and to pay a fine of P500,000.00; and

(2)
In Criminal Case No. 01-0077, petitioner Carmen Ritualo is also found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of four
(4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eleven (11) years and eight (8)
months and twenty-one (21) days of prision mayor, as maximum.

Petitioner Carmen R. Ritualo is similarly ORDERED to indemnify Felix E. Biacora the amount
of P21,000.00. Costs de oficio.

34

Dante Tan vs People


GR NO. 173637, April 21, 2009
Facts:
Panel of Prosecutors filed before the RTC of Pasig. (Three (3) informations against Dante Tan.
1 Criminal Case No. 119830112[3] pertains to allegations that petitioner employed manipulative devises in
the purchase of Best World Resources Corporation (BW) shares.
2 Criminal Cases No. 119831 113[4] and No. 119832114[5] involve the alleged failure of petitioner to file with
the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a sworn statement of his beneficial ownership of BW
shares.
DOJ Chief Prosecutor filed a motion for consolidation. Petitioner was arraigned on 16 January 2001,
and pleaded not guilty to the charges
Petitioner moved to dismiss Criminal Case 119830 due to failure to prosecute for an unreasonable
length of time. He was claiming for his right to speedy trial.
The prosecution opposed the Motion, insisting on its claim that the parties had an earlier
agreement to defer the trial of Criminal Case No. 119830 until after that of Criminal Cases No.
119831-119832, as the presentation of evidence and prosecution in each of the five cases involved
were to be done separately. RTC ordered the dismissal of Criminal Case 119830. Hence Appeal to
the CA. CA reinstated Criminal Case 119830 RTC to conduct further proceeding.
Petitioner moved for a reconsideration of the Decision and filed a motion for inhibition of the
Justices who decided the case.
Petitioner Dante Tan, henceforth, filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, raising the
following issues:
ISSUES:
1 WON the Acting Sec. of Justice may validly execute the Certificate of Non Forum Shopping
filed by the People.
2 WON the petition for Certiorari violated Tans right against double jeopardy
112
113
114

35

3 WON Criminal Case 119830 was correctly dismissed by the Trial Court on the ground of
violation of Tans right to speedly trial.
4 WON the Court gravely abuse its discretion.
IV.
HELD:
We first resolve the preliminary issues.
In an attempt at having the instant petition dismissed, petitioner contends that the certificate of
non-forum shopping attached to the Peoples appeal before the Court of Appeals should have been
signed by the Chairman of the SEC as complainant in the cases instead of Acting DOJ Secretary
Merceditas N. Gutierrez.
Petitioners argument is futile. The Court of Appeals was correct in sustaining the authority of
Acting DOJ Secretary Merceditas Gutierrez to sign the certificate of non-forum shopping of the
petition for certiorari before said court. Section 2, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court leaves no room for
doubt and establishes that criminal cases are prosecuted in the name of the People of the
Philippines, It is the DOJ, through its prosecutors, which is authorized to prosecute criminal cases on
behalf of the People of the Philippines, the DOJ is best suited to attest whether a similar or related
case has been filed or is pending in another court of tribunal. Acting DOJ Secretary Merceditas N.
Gutierrez, being the head of the DOJ, therefore, had the authority to sign the certificate of non-forum
shopping for Criminal Case No. 119830, which was filed on behalf of the People of the Philippines.
The preliminary issues having been resolved, the Court shall proceed to discuss the
main issues.
At the crux of the controversy is the issue of whether there was a violation of petitioner Dante
Tans right to speedy trial.
An accuseds right to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial is guaranteed in
criminal cases by Section 14(2) of Article III of the Constitution. This right to a speedy trial may
be defined as one free from vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, its salutary objective
being to assure that an innocent person may be free from the anxiety and expense of a court litigation
or, if otherwise, of having his guilt determined within the shortest possible time compatible with the
presentation and consideration of whatsoever legitimate defense he may interpose. 115[21]
In determining whether the accused has been deprived of his right to a speedy disposition of
the case and to a speedy trial, four factors must be considered: (a) length of delay; (b) the
reason for the delay; (c) the defendants assertion of his right; and (d) prejudice to the
defendant. x x x.
From the initial hearing on 27 February 2001 until the time the prosecution filed its formal offer
of evidence for Criminal Cases No. 119831-119832 on 25 November 2003, both prosecution and
defense admit that no evidence was presented for Criminal Case No. 119830. Hence, for a period of
almost two years and eight months, the prosecution did not present a single evidence for Criminal
Case No. 119830.
The question we have to answer now is whether there was vexatious, capricious, and
oppressive delay. To this, we apply the four-factor test previously mentioned.
Petitioners objection to the prosecutions stand that he gave an implied consent to the
separate trial of Criminal Case No. 119830 is belied by the records of the case . No objection
was interposed by his defense counsel when this matter was discussed during the initial hearing. 116[33]
Petitioners conformity thereto can be deduced from his non-objection at the preliminary hearing when
115
116

36

the prosecution manifested that the evidence to be presented would be only for Criminal Cases No.
119831-119832. His failure to object to the prosecutions manifestation that the cases be tried
separately is fatal to his case. The acts, mistakes and negligence of counsel bind his client, except
only when such mistakes would result in serious injustice. 117[34] In fact, petitioners acquiescence is
evident from the transcript of stenographic notes during the initial presentation of the Peoples
evidence in the five BW cases on 27 February 2001, herein quoted below:
During the same hearing, the People manifested in open court that the parties had agreed to the
separate trials of the BW Cases:The transcript of stenographic notes taken from the 3 April 2001
hearing further clarifies that only the two cases against Dante Tan were being prosecuted:
For the reasons above-stated, there is clearly insufficient ground to conclude that the
prosecution is guilty of violating petitioners right to speedy trial. Grave abuse of discretion defies
exact definition, but generally refers to capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is
equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. Any capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment in dismissing
a criminal case is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. This is true in the instant case.
There is also no merit to petitioners claim that a reversal of the RTCs Order dismissing
Criminal Case No. 119830 is a violation of his constitutional right against double jeopardy which
dismissal was founded on an alleged violation of his right to speedy trial. The constitutional protection
against double jeopardy shields one from a second or later prosecution for the same offense. Article
III, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution declares that no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of
punishment for the same offense, providing further that if an act is punished by a law and an
ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the
same act.
For double jeopardy to attach then, the following elements in the first criminal
case must be present:
(a) The complaint or information or other formal charge was sufficient in form and substance
to sustain a conviction;
(b) The court had jurisdiction;
(c) The accused had been arraigned and had pleaded; and
(d) He was convicted or acquitted or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without
the express consent of the accused.118[43]
Among the above-cited elements, we are concerned with the fourth element, conviction or
acquittal, or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of
the accused. This element is crucial since, as a general rule, the dismissal of a criminal case
resulting in acquittal, made with the express consent of the accused or upon his own motion, will not
place the accused in double jeopardy.119[44] This rule, however, admits of two exceptions, namely:
insufficiency of evidence and denial of the right to speedy trial. 120[45]
From the foregoing, it follows that petitioner cannot claim that double jeopardy attached when
said RTC order was reversed by the Court of Appeals. Double jeopardy does not apply to this case,
considering that there is no violation of petitioners right to speedy trial.
117
118
119
120

37

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed 22 February 2006 Decision


and 17 July 2006 Resolution issued by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 83068 are hereby
AFFIRMED.
The instant case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 153, Pasig City for further
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 119830 with reasonable dispatch.
SO ORDERED.