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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-48944 February 26, 1981
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ADULFO TERROBIAS, defendant-appellant.

DE CASTRO, J.:
This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Catanduanes convicting the accused, Adulfo
Terrobias, of the crime of rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to acknowledge the
offspring of Delia Bonion as his natural child with all the rights granted her by law; and to indemnify the victim, Delia
C. Bonion, in the sum of P10,000.00 as actual, moral and exemplary damages, and to pay the costs. 1
To the charge of rape, appellant interposed the defense of alibi. He does not, therefore, deny the truth of the
testimony of the complainant, the 17-year old Delia C. Bonion, as to her sexual experience except only to disclaim
any participation therein with his assertion of never having had sexual intercourse with her. The testimony of the
complainant on how she was sexually assaulted, and the events that intervened thereafter, may, therefore, be
quoted from the appealed decision which set forth the said testimony as follows:
... Complainant Delia C. Bonion narrated how on the night of February 17, 1977 as she was fast
asleep because of the days work, she woke up to find Adulfo Terrobias already on top of her holding
her hands and when she resisted was told not to shout under threats of harm. As Delia continued to
struggle, Adulfo covered her mouth with a wad of cotton soaked with medicine which smell
weakened her and caused her to lose consciousness. When she came to, Delia still saw Adulfo
getting his pants and went out the room. Still laboring under the fear of harm because Adulfo warned
her that nobody should know what he did, Delia continued her usual household work, awaiting the
arrival of her parents. Adulfo did not take breakfast at the table the following morning, Delia's mother
visited her February 27 and she confided to her what Adulfo did. Florencia Terrobias was informed
by Dolores C. Bonion same day within the hearing of Delia, and after condemning Adulfo as a
salvaje her Lola Insay asked the two to wait for the arrival of Gregorio Terrobias who was in Naga
City. The defense miserably failed to present Gregorio and Florencia Terrobias to rebut the claim of
Delia and Dolores about the report of the RAPE to both of them. Neither did the defense deny that
Gregorio after knowing his son's perfidy told complainant and her mother Dolores to have the child
removed or aborted thru the help of an 'arbulario'. The proposal of abortion refused, Dolores
demanded that Adulfo marry her daughter which the Terrobias Fay scorned. Delia was thereafter
taken away by her own parents. The case went to Court. In retaliation, Dolores and her husband
were summarily removed as tenant-encargado. 2
The assault took place in the house of appellant's parents, Gregorio and Florencia Terrobias, at Bato, Catanduanes,
where complainant was a house helper, her parents being the "encargado" 3 of the properties of the aforesaid
spouses, whom Delia called "Lolo Goyong" and "Lola Insay", 4 and treated as her foster parents. Appellant, then single
and thirty-three years of age, was living with his parents in the same house. Delia's room was between appellant's room
and that of the latter's mother. 5 It is in complainant's room that the rape took place.
From her plain and straightforward testimony, We have no doubt as to complainant's candor and sincerity. A 17-year
old girl at the time, she could not have merely concocted the story she narrated in court, directed against a thirtythree-year-old son of her masters. Only truth and a feeling of deep grievance could have impelled her to charge
appellant with the grave offense committed against her, even at a price she has to pay in terms of her honor being
exposed or even tarnished not to mention the discharge of her parents as "encargados" of appellant's parents.
The circumstances as duly established following the sexual assault could not but strengthen belief in complainant's
honesty and truthfulness. As soon as she had the chance to report the offense done her to someone of her fullest
confidence and who could look at her plight with sympathy and understanding, she did so. This was on February 27,
1977 on her mother's first visit to her after the incident when she told her mother about the harrowing
experience. 6The mother, in turn, told appellant's mother what the latter's son did to her daughter. Right after hearing the
daughter's whole story, appellant's mother, instead of expressing disbelief in what was told her, reproached her son for the
act, calling him "salvage", and suggested that Delia remain until the matter is reported to her husband who was then in
Naga City. 7 When the father of appellant heard of the incident as narrated to him by complainant's mother, he told the
latter to return on April 2 to afford him time to investigate the matter. On her return as agreed, Delia's mother told

appellant's father that Delia was on the family way. Thus informed, appellant's father suggested abortion by an
"arbulario", 8 to which Delia's mother disagreed, and instead demanded that appellant marry Delia who was with her.
Appellant's father answered in Bicol: "Carabaos should be with carabaos and cows with cows." 9

On the same date, April 2, 1977, Mrs. Bonion took her daughter Delia to Virac to seek advice of her aunt who
suggested that a medical certificate be secured as to the condition of Delia. Dr. Masagca who examined Delia found
her one and one-half month pregnant, her last menstruation being on January 29, 1977.
Because of the complaint filed by Delia and her parents who forthwith reported what happened to their daughter to
the PC at Virac the Terrobias spouses discharged Delia's parents as their "encargado". 10 Delia later gave birth to a
baby girl on October 28, 1977. 11
With the complainant pointing to appellant as the person who ravished her in her room in appellant's residence on
the night of February 17, 1977 the latter's alibi of not being in his house on said time and day because he attended
the birthday part of Teodulo dela Providencia in San Andres, Catanduanes, some 25 kilometers from Bato where he
had to spend the night Teodulos house because he had drunk too much is unavailing. No motive was given why the
complainant should falsely charge appellant with so grave an offense, considering that she had treated appellant s
parents with so much affection that she called their, "Lolo" and "Lola".
Complainant might have incurred in some inconsistencies, in her testimony during the trial in relation to statements
she gave before the trial as appellant tried graphically to demonstrate in his brief (p. 11). They refer, however, to
minor details that do not detract from the truth of the central fact of rape having been committed by appellant on the
complainant. They arise from or are caused by, the natural weakness, or even fickleness, of memory and rather
strengthen credibility, as they erase suspicion of coaching or of a rehearsed testimony. On the important and
decisive details, however, she was consistent in all the statements she made, such as appellant's being already on
top of her when she woke up, how she resisted his action despite appellant's threat, which was followed by the latter
pressing a wad of cotton soaked with medicine in her mouth and nose which rendered her unconscious, her feeling
pain in, and the bleeding of, her private parts, her "bra" being torn and her skirt, rolled up.
On the other hand, complainant's mother's testimony that on her first visit to her daughter at her masters' residence
after the incident, Delia reported to her the outrage committed on her, and appellant's mother called her son a
savage on being informed of what he did, while the father advised the removal of the fetus by an "arbulario," were
not rebutted by appellant's parents. They did not take the witness stand despite that the aforesaid testimony against
them lent full credence to complainant's story. The acts of appellant's parents as aforestated would show that they
had no reason to disbelieve said story, specially considering that the father had all the time he asked for to
investigate the matter. Indeed, a young simple barrio girl like Delia could not have fabricated a charge of rape
against a man twice her age, the son of her masters at that, for whom she had none but affectionate respect.
Appellant claims of having been denied his constitutional right by the mere fact that the trial of the case took only
four days is entirely without basis. He had presented all his evidence which was duly submitted by his counsel who
never asked for more time to do so. His right to cross-examine the witnesses against him was exercised to the
fullest.
Neither is his claim of lack of authority of the trial judge to decide the instant case with any legal support to stand on.
While by the Resolution of the Supreme Court 12 the authority of the trial judge to try criminal cases in Branch 11 of the
Court of First Instance of Catanduanes was up to March 2, 1978, it does not preclude submission of memoranda even
after such date, as long as the trial was completed, and the order to file memorandum given, before the expiration of his
authority to try the case. Much less was the trial judge divested of the authority to decide the case which he can do
anytime after the trial of the case, under Section 51 of the Judiciary Act, the filing of memoranda not being a part of the
trial, nor is the memorandum itself an essential, much less an indispensable, pleading before a case may be submitted for
decision. It is intended primarily to aid the court in the rendition of the decision in accordance with law and the evidence,
and should not, therefore, be the cause for the loss of the authority of the judge who heard the case to decide it.
WHEREFORE, as recommended by the Solicitor General, the judgment appealed from being in accordance with
law and the evidence, is hereby affirmed in toto, with costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 178778

August 3, 2010

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
T/SGT. PORFERIO R. ANGUS, JR., Accused-Appellant.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
On appeal is the Decision1] dated December 5, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00114,
which affirmed with modification the Decision2] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de
Oro City, Branch 18, convicting appellant T/Sgt. Porferio R. Angus, Jr. of the crime of parricide in Criminal Case No.
2002-587.
Appellant T/Sgt. Porferio R. Angus, Jr. was charged in an Information3] dated June 7, 2002, as follows:
That on or about the 10th day of January, 2002, at about 10:00 o’clock in the morning, more or less, at Lanis[i]
Patrol Base, Lanis[i], Municipality of Claveria, Province of Misamis Oriental, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and
feloniously attack, assault, choked and strangled the neck of his legitimate wife Betty Angus, thereby causing her
instantaneous death.
CONTRARY TO and in violation of Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code.
Upon arraignment, appellant, with the assistance of counsel, pleaded not guilty 4 to the offense charged.
The prosecution and the defense stipulated on the following facts at the pre-trial, to wit:
1. That the accused and the victim were legally married.
2. That the incident happened on January 10, 2002, at the Lanisi Patrol Base, Lanisi, Claveria, Misamis
Oriental.
3. That T/SGT Porferio R. Angus, Jr. is a member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the
Philippine Army, assigned at the Lanisi Patrol Base, Lanisi, Claveria, Misamis Oriental. 5
Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
The prosecution presented as witnesses Police Senior Inspector Reynaldo A. Padulla, Staff Sergeant Romeo Rhea,
Dr. Alex R. Uy, Dr. Luchie S. Serognas-At-at, and Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members
Romeo I. Malaran, Leoncio P. Jintapa and Alejo O. Carpio. Their testimonies may be synthesized into the following
narration of events:
The victim, Betty D. Angus, arrived at the Lanisi Patrol Base at around 7:00 p.m. on January 9, 2002. Appellant
fetched her at the gate and they proceeded to his bunker. Later, CAFGU members Malaran and Carpio heard the
two (2) arguing about appellant’s relationship with another woman. Appellant was also seen go out of his bunker
around midnight to get some rice, beef and vegetables for dinner.6
The following day, January 10, 2002, at around 7:00 a.m., appellant had breakfast at the mess hall with Jintapa,
Malaran and Carpio. As appellant was not with his wife, Jintapa reminded appellant to call her. When appellant
returned, he told them that he would just leave some food for his wife because she was still sleeping.
After eating, Malaran and Jintapa asked for permission to fetch water near the barangay elementary school about a
kilometer away. While they were gone, Carpio went to the outpost and started cleaning his firearm. Appellant went to
the comfort room then decided to join Carpio at the outpost. On his way to the outpost, appellant passed by his
bunker and peeped through the door which was open by about 1 ½ inches. 7 Carpio was able to see the door
because it was facing the outpost.8 A few minutes later, Malaran and Jintapa returned and joined appellant and
Carpio at the outpost. The four (4) shared funny stories and joked for a while, after which Carpio went to the mess
hall while Jintapa went to his bunker. Malaran and appellant decided to continue their conversation at the mess hall. 9
On their way to the mess hall, appellant passed by his bunker but was not able to open the door at once because
something was blocking it from the inside. When appellant pushed the door, Malaran saw the back of the victim in a
slanting position and leaning at the door. Appellant went inside and almost immediately shouted for help. Malaran
and Carpio saw appellant embracing his wife. They helped appellant carry Betty’s body to the bed. Malaran
observed that her skin below the jaw was reddish and her knees were covered with mud. 10 There was food on the
table and a multi-colored tubao11 was hanging on the purlins of the roof about a meter away from the victim. The
lower tip of the tubao was in a circular form and was hanging about four (4) feet from the ground. They heard
appellant repeatedly say, "Why did you do this? How can I explain this to our children?" 12

Carpio called Jintapa and told him that something had happened to Betty. This was around 10:00 a.m. When
Jintapa entered appellant’s bunker, he noticed that the tubao was still hanging from the roof. He also saw appellant
embracing his wife and crying hard. Appellant exerted effort to revive his wife by pumping her chest. Malaran tried to
help by massaging Betty’s hands, feet, and legs. When Carpio and Malaran left to look for a vehicle, Jintapa took
Malaran’s place and also massaged Betty’s hands and feet which were already cold. Appellant, who continued to
cry very hard, covered Betty’s neck with his tubao and draped a blanket over her body. The tubao that was hanging
on the roof was not removed until Corporal Teodoro Guibone ordered a meat collector to remove it. 13
At the Claveria Municipal Hospital, Dr. Luchie S. Serognas-At-at concluded that Betty was already dead upon arrival
for she no longer had a pulse. She asked appellant as to the cause of her death, and after two (2) minutes, he
replied that maybe she suffered a heart attack as she had a history of heart ailment. Dr. At-at wanted to thoroughly
examine Betty’s body but she was not able to do so because appellant was crying very hard. A commotion also took
place at the hospital when a soldier, later identified as Sgt. Romeo Rhea, tried to box appellant, saying that
appellant’s crying was only an act.14 Rhea and appellant were companions at Bravo Company, while Betty was
Rhea’s neighbor in Basilan. Appellant is also the godfather of Rhea’s child. According to Rhea, he knew about
appellant’s illicit relationship with a certain Jennifer Abao, with whom appellant had been sweethearts for about three
(3) years prior to the incident on January 10, 2002.15
when they could not bring the cadaver to Basilan.the buriaer granmother led herself. and backbiting. Cheryl Angus,
MhDr. Alex R. Uy, Medico-Legal Officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory of Patag, Cagayan
de Oro City, conducted the autopsy. His examination revealed the following findings:
HEAD AND NECK
1. Abrasion: Right Mandibular Region: measuring 4 x 2 cm., 4 cm. from the anterior midline.
2. Ligature mark: extending bilaterally around the neck at the level below the hyoid bone, measuring 42 x 1
cm., bisected by the anterior midline, directed horizontally and posteriorward. Larynx and Trachea are
markedly congested and hemorrhagic.16
Dr. Uy stated that Betty may have died two (2) hours after taking her last meal due to the presence of partially
digested food inside the stomach.17 He believed that the cause of her death was asphyxia by strangulation and not
by hanging, as the victim did not sustain a fractured bone on her neck or hyoid bone and there was no hemorrhage
above the trachea and larynx. He explained that the sudden gravitational force would usually cause a fractured
bone. Dr. Uy clarified that the absence of a fractured bone would only happen if the person hangs herself very
slowly without a sudden force or if she was in a kneeling position.18
For its part, the defense presented as witnesses Angeles S. Ociones, Senior Police Officer 1 Victorino Busalla,
Cheryl Ann A. Siarez, Master Sergeant Benedicto Palma, Emeliano Bolonias, Bobby Padilla Lopez and appellant.
Taken together, their testimonies present the following narrative:
Cheryl Ann A. Siarez is the only daughter of Betty and appellant. In the afternoon of January 9, 2002, at around 1:30
p.m., Betty went inside Cheryl Ann’s bedroom and told her to be serious in her studies. Betty also intimated to
Cheryl Ann that she wanted to go to a far place where there would be no more rumors, no backbiting, and nobody
would recognize her. At 4:00 p.m., they boarded a bus bound for Cagayan de Oro City. Betty disembarked at
Villanueva, Misamis Oriental to transfer to a passenger jeepney going to Claveria. 19
From Villanueva to Claveria, Betty sat beside Angeles Ociones, an old friend, in the front seat of the jeepney. She
confided to Ociones about her jealousy towards her husband. She also mentioned that she was angry that she was
not able to catch him and his mistress. Ociones advised Betty to confront her husband regarding the rumors she
had heard, as it was common to hear such rumors every time a soldier is assigned to a place away from home.
Betty revealed that she planned to commit suicide because of the many stories she had heard about her husband.
This was the third time she shared thoughts of suicide. Betty further said she wanted to go to a far place where
nobody would recognize her. At around 7:00 p.m., Betty arrived at Lanisi Patrol Base. 20
Appellant met his wife at the gate and went with her to his bunker. Appellant testified that they talked about only
three (3) things: his whereabouts on January 7, 2002, the conference in Mat-i, Claveria, and whether he was able to
borrow money for the renovation of their house. He later admitted, however, that Betty also confronted him about his
relationship with another woman. At around 11:00 p.m. they went to bed. He asked Betty if she has eaten dinner but
she said she did not want to eat. Nonetheless, he brought her some food then went back to sleep. He woke up the
following day at around 6:00 a.m. and heard Emiliano Bolonias knocking at his door. Bolonias confirmed that when
the door was opened, he saw Betty sleeping on the bed. Since Betty was still asleep, appellant suggested that they
proceed to the mess hall to talk about their financial dealings. He did not lock the door to his bunker when they left.
At around 8:00 a.m. appellant went back to his bunker to invite his wife to have breakfast with them. 21
After having breakfast, appellant, Malaran, Carpio and Jintapa went to the outpost while Bolonias left the patrol
base. Malaran and Jintapa asked permission to fetch water but later arrived and stayed at the outpost. Appellant

went to his bunker and found the same locked from inside. He knocked and called his wife, but there was no
response. He forcibly opened the door and saw his wife hanging with the use of a tubao which was tied at the
purlins of the roof. Her body was hanging and almost in a kneeling position. He shouted for help as he untied the
knot around Betty’s neck but was not able to carry her since she was heavy. The other CAFGU members helped
appellant put Betty on the bed. Malaran massaged Betty’s feet while appellant massaged her chest and even did a
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When the vehicle appellant had requested arrived, Betty was brought to the hospital.
The tubao that was used by the victim was left hanging at the purlins.22
That same day, Cheryl Ann was informed that her mother was in serious condition. She was fetched and brought to
Claveria, Misamis Oriental, where she saw her father crying. Appellant told Cheryl Ann that her mother had
committed suicide. The burial was originally scheduled on January 16, 2002 so her grandmother could attend.
Betty’s relatives who attended the wake did not attend the burial because they got angry when appellant did not
allow them to bring Betty’s body to Basilan. Her grandfather, SPO4 Cesar Ocay, told Cheryl Ann to bury her
mother’s body in Basilan so that they will not file a case against appellant. Cheryl Ann believes her mother
committed suicide.23
M/Sgt. Benedicto Palma testified that on January 15, 2002, at around 2:00 p.m., he was at the funeral parlor of
Poblacion, Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, assisting Dr. Alex Uy, who was conducting the autopsy on Betty’s body.
When he asked Dr. Uy regarding his findings, the doctor replied that appellant had nothing to do with the death of
his wife, and that she indeed committed suicide.24 Aside from appellant, his brothers-in-law, Edgardo De Vera and
Mariano De Vera, Sgt. Rhea, and appellant’s sister-in-law, Jerry, were also present at the funeral parlor when Dr. Uy
announced his findings that Betty committed suicide. 25
On May 20, 2003, the RTC rendered a Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, finding accused T/SGT. PORFERIO R. ANGUS, JR., GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt [of] the
crime of Parricide, punishable under Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code, and taking into account the mitigating
circumstance of voluntary surrender, he is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua, including
its accessory penalties. He is also directed to pay FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00), as indemnity, to the
heirs of the victim.
SO ORDERED. Cagayan de Oro City, May 20, 2003.26
Appellant interposed an appeal to this Court. Pursuant to People v. Mateo,27 which modified Rules 122, 124 and 125
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, insofar as they provide for direct appeals from the RTC to
this Court in cases where the penalty imposed by the trial court is death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,
this case was referred to the CA for intermediate review.
On December 5, 2006, the CA rendered judgment affirming with modification the decision of the RTC. The fallo of
the CA decision reads:
FOR THE REASONS STATED, the appealed Decision convicting T/SGT. PORFERIO R. ANGUS, JR. of Parricide is
hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that he is additionally ORDERED to pay the heirs of the victim P25,000
as exemplary damages and P50,000 as moral damages on top of the decreed indemnity. Costs de officio.
SO ORDERED.28
Hence, this appeal. In his brief,29 appellant raises a lone assignment of error:
THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE CRIME
CHARGED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT.
Appellant argues that nobody really saw who killed the victim or when and how she was killed. He asserts that the
prosecution witnesses merely testified to have last seen Betty alive on the night of January 9, 2002. Thereafter, they
heard the couple arguing about a woman. The following morning Betty was found dead. Although there was more
than one (1) circumstance, appellant contends that the prosecution failed to prove that the combination thereof
leads to the inevitable conclusion that he killed his wife.
We find merit in appellant’s contentions.
The Constitution mandates that an accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven beyond
reasonable doubt. The burden lies on the prosecution to overcome such presumption of innocence by presenting
the quantum of evidence required. In so doing, the prosecution must rest on the strength of its own evidence and
must not rely on the weakness of the defense. 30 And if the prosecution fails to meet its burden of proof, the defense
may logically not even present evidence on its own behalf. In such cases the presumption prevails and the accused
should necessarily be acquitted.31

We may well emphasize that direct evidence of the commission of a crime is not the only basis on which a court
draws its finding of guilt. Established facts that form a chain of circumstances can lead the mind intuitively or impel a
conscious process of reasoning towards a conviction.32 Verily, resort to circumstantial evidence is sanctioned by
Section 4, Rule 133 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.
While no general rule can be laid down as to the quantity of circumstantial evidence which will suffice in a given
case, all the circumstances proved must be consistent with each other, consistent with the hypothesis that the
accused is guilty, and at the same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is innocent, and with every other
rational hypothesis except that of guilt. The circumstances proved should constitute an unbroken chain which leads
to only one (1) fair and reasonable conclusion that the accused, to the exclusion of all others, is the guilty person.
Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean the degree of proof excluding the possibility of error and producing
absolute certainty. Only moral certainty or "that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind"
is required.33]
The following are the requisites for circumstantial evidence to be sufficient to support conviction: (a) there is more
than one (1) circumstance, (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived have been proven, and (c) the
combination of all the circumstances results in a moral certainty that the accused, to the exclusion of all others, is
the one (1) who has committed the crime. Thus, to justify a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, the
combination of circumstances must be interwoven in such a way as to leave no reasonable doubt as to the guilt of
the accused.34
After a thorough review of the records of the case, we find sufficient basis to warrant the reversal of the assailed
judgment of conviction. The crime of parricide is defined and punished under Article 246 of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended, to wit:
Art. 246. Parricide. - Any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or any of
his ascendants or descendants, or his spouse, shall be guilty of parricide and shall be punished by the penalty of
reclusion perpetua to death.
The elements of the crime of parricide are: (1) a person is killed; (2) the deceased is killed by the accused; and (3)
the deceased is the father, mother or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, of the accused or any of his
ascendants or descendants, or his spouse.35
1avvphi1

The evidence in this case shows that Betty arrived at the camp at around 7:00 o’clock in the evening of January 9,
2002. Witnesses heard Betty and the appellant arguing over the latter’s illicit relationship with another woman. The
following day, appellant went out of his bunker at around 6:00 o’clock in the morning. He had breakfast at the mess
area with his companions, but went back to his bunker at around 8:00 o’clock to ask his wife to join them for
breakfast. When he returned, he told his men that his wife could not join them for breakfast because she was still
asleep. At around 10:00 a.m., appellant returned to his bunker followed by Malaran who saw the dead body of the
victim.
The Court is not satisfied that the circumstantial evidence in this case constitutes an unbroken chain which leads to
the conclusion that appellant, to the exclusion of all others, is guilty of killing his wife. The trial court relied on the
testimonies of Malaran and Carpio who heard the appellant and his wife arguing about the latter’s illicit relationship
with another woman, which supposedly proves motive for him to commit the crime. However, granting that appellant
and Betty had an argument on the night before her death, it would be too much to presume that such an argument
would drive appellant to kill his wife. Clearly, the motive is not convincing. If at all, the testimonies of Malaran and
Carpio merely show a suspicion of appellant’s responsibility for the crime. Needless to state, however, suspicion no
matter how strong can not sway judgment.36 In the absence of any other evidence reasonably linking appellant to
the crime, evidence of motive is not sufficient to convict him. 37
Likewise, Dr. Uy explained that if a person hangs herself, most of the time there will be a fracture on the bone of the
neck because of the pressure caused by gravity that pulls the rope. However, he also testified that if the person
hangs herself slowly, there will be no fracture on her neck or hyoid bone. Thus, the fact that Betty did not sustain a
fractured bone on her neck or hyoid bone, as the doctor observed, does not automatically lead to the conclusion
that appellant strangled the victim. Given the evidence that the victim had intimated her wish to commit suicide a
day before the incident, it is not farfetched to conclude that she indeed chose to take her life.
An acquittal based on reasonable doubt will prosper even though the accused’s innocence may be doubted, for a
criminal conviction rests on the strength of the evidence of the prosecution and not on the weakness of the defense.
And, if the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two (2) or more explanations, one (1) of which is
consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill
the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction. That which is favorable to the accused should
be considered.38 After all, mas vale que queden sin castigar diez reos presuntos, que se castigue uno
inocente.39Courts should be guided by the principle that it would be better to set free ten (10) men who might be
probably guilty of the crime charged than to convict one (1) innocent man for a crime he did not commit. 40

WHEREFORE, the appeal is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated December 5, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00114 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Appellant T/Sgt. Porferio R. Angus, Jr. is ACQUITTED
of the crime of parricide on the ground of reasonable doubt. Unless detained for some other lawful reasons,
appellant is hereby ordered released immediately.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 164443

June 18, 2010

ERIBERTO S. MASANGKAY, Petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
Every criminal conviction must draw its strength from the prosecution’s evidence. The evidence must be such that
the constitutional presumption of innocence is overthrown and guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt. The
prosecutorial burden is not met when the circumstances can yield to different inferences. Such equivocation betrays
a lack of moral certainty to support a judgment of conviction.
This Petition for Review1 assails the March 16, 2004 Decision2 and the July 9, 2004 Resolution3 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 25775. The dispositive portion of the assailed Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, and the appealed Decision is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that
Eriberto Masangkay is instead meted the penalty of imprisonment for a term of Six (6) months and One (1) day of
prision correccional minimum.
SO ORDERED.4
Factual Antecedents
Petitioner Eriberto Masangkay (Eriberto), his common-law wife Magdalena Ricaros (Magdalena), Cesar Masangkay
(Cesar) and his wife Elizabeth Masangkay (Elizabeth), and Eric Dullano were the incorporators and directors of
Megatel Factors, Inc. (MFI) which was incorporated in June 1990.5
On December 29, 1993 Eriberto filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a Petition for the
Involuntary Dissolution6 of MFI for violation of Section 6 of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 902-A. The named
respondents were MFI, Cesar and Elizabeth.7 The said petition was made under oath before a notary public, and
alleged among others:
3. At or around September 1, 1993, respondent Elizabeth A. Masangkay prepared or caused to be prepared
a Secretary’s Certificate which states:
That at a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the said corporation held at its principal office on
December 5, 1992, the following resolution by unanimous votes of the directors present at said meeting and
constituting a quorum was approved and adopted:
RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved that Lot No. 2069-A-2 situated at Bo. Canlalay, Biñan, Laguna
containing an area of 3,014 square meters covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-210746 be
exchanged with 3,700 shares of stock of the corporation worth or valued at P370,000.00 by way of a "Deed
of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct".
xxxx
4. Said secretary’s certificate is absolutely fictitious and simulated because the alleged meeting of the Board
of Directors held on December 5, 1992 did not actually materialize.
xxxx
5. Using the said falsified and spurious document, x x x respondents executed another fictitious document
known as the "Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct".

The contract purporting to be a transfer of 3,700 shares of stock of MFI in return for a piece of a land (Lot No. 2064A-2) located at Canlalay, Biñan, Laguna and owned by minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay is void.
Article 1409 of the New Civil Code states:
"Art. 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning.
xxxx
(2) Those which are absolutely simulated or fictitious;
(3) Those whose cause or object did not exist at the time of the transaction;
xxxx
These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set up the defense of illegality be waived."
The aforementioned contract is indeed simulated and fictitious because they defrauded minor child Gilberto Ricaros
Masangkay and deprived him of his own property without any consideration at all.
Records of the MFI revealed that minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay [or] his alleged guardian Magdalena S.
Ricaros never became a stockholder at any point in time of MFI.
x x x x8
The case remains pending to date.9
Claiming that Eriberto lied under oath when he said that there was no meeting of the Board held on December 5,
1992 and that the Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct is a fictitious instrument, the respondent in the
SEC case, Cesar, filed a complaint for perjury10 against Eriberto before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of
Rizal.
Eriberto raised the defense of primary jurisdiction. He argued that what is involved is primarily an intra-corporate
controversy; hence, jurisdiction lies with the SEC pursuant to Section 6 of PD 902-A, as amended by PD No. 1758.
He also insisted that there was a prejudicial question because the truth of the allegations contained in his petition for
involuntary dissolution has yet to be determined by the SEC. These defenses were sustained by the assistant
provincial prosecutor and the complaint for perjury was dismissed for lack of merit. 11
It was however reinstated upon petition for review12 before the Department of Justice.13 Chief State Prosecutor
Zenon L. De Guia held that the petition for involuntary dissolution is an administrative case only and thus cannot
possibly constitute a prejudicial question to the criminal case. He also rejected the claim that the SEC has exclusive
authority over the case. The Chief State Prosecutor explained that the prosecution and enforcement department of
the SEC has jurisdiction only over criminal and civil cases involving a violation of a law, rule, or regulation that is
administered and enforced by the SEC. Perjury, penalized under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), is
not within the SEC’s authority.14 Thus, he ordered the conduct of a preliminary investigation, which eventually
resulted in the filing of the following information:
That sometime in the month of December 1992,15 in the City of Mandaluyong, Philippines, a place within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously commit acts of perjury in his Petition for Involuntary Dissolution of Megatel Factors, Inc. based on
violation of Section 6 of Presidential Decree 902-A against Megatel Factors, Inc., Cesar Masangkay, Jr. and
Elizabeth Masangkay which he made under oath before a notary authorized to receive and administer oath and filed
with the Securities and Exchange Commission, wherein he made willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood on a
material matter when he declared the following, to wit: a) the secretary certificate dated September 1, 1993,
proposed by Elizabeth Masangkay is fictitious and simulated because the alleged December 5, 1992, meeting never
took place; and, b) the Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct is a fictitious document, whereby the
respondents defrauded the minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay, by exchanging the child’s 3,014 square meters
lot with 3, 700 shares of stock of the corporation, when in fact no consideration for the transfer was made as
Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay or his guardian Magdalena Ricaros has never been a stockholder of the Corporation at
any point in time, when in truth and in fact the accused well knew that the same statements he made in his petition
and which he reaffirmed and made use as part of his evidence in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
are false.16
The information was docketed as Criminal Case No. 56495 and raffled to the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of
Mandaluyong City, Branch 59.

Eriberto filed a motion to quash,17 insisting that it is the SEC which has primary jurisdiction over the case. He also
argued that the truth of the allegations contained in the information is still pending resolution in SEC Case No. 1293-4650, thereby constituting a prejudicial question to the perjury case.
The MeTC denied the motion to quash for lack of merit. 18 It held that the fact that the parties to the criminal case are
mostly stockholders of the same corporation does not automatically make the case an intra-corporate dispute that is
within the SEC jurisdiction. It likewise held that the fact that the parties are stockholders is merely incidental and that
the subject of the case is a criminal act and hence within the general jurisdiction of the MeTC. As regards the issue
of prejudicial question, the MeTC ruled that the petition before the SEC has nothing to do with the criminal case. The
truth of the statements for which he is being indicted is a matter of defense which the defendant may raise in the
criminal case.
Eriberto filed a petition for certiorari before Branch 158 of the Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to assail the
denial of his motion to quash. The denial was affirmed. 19 He then filed a petition for certiorari before the CA, which
was denied for being a wrong mode of appeal.20
Failing to suspend the criminal proceedings, Eriberto entered a plea of not guilty during arraignment. 21 He then
waived the conduct of a pre-trial conference.22
During trial, the prosecution presented the private complainant Cesar as its sole witness. 23 He testified that on
December 5, 1992, a meeting of the Board of Directors was held at 9:00 o’clock in the morning at the office of MFI in
Canlalay, Biñan, Laguna. He presented the minutes of the alleged meeting and reiterated the details contained
therein indicating that the Board unanimously approved Magdalena’s proposal to exchange her son’s (Gilberto
Masangkay [Gilberto]) property with MFI shares of stock. 24 The prosecution established that one of the signatures
appearing in the minutes belongs to Eriberto.25 This allegedly belies Eriberto’s statement that the December 5, 1992
meeting "did not actually materialize," and shows that he knew his statement to be false because he had attended
the meeting and signed the minutes thereof. The prosecution also pointed out that in the proceedings before the
guardianship court to obtain approval for the exchange of properties, Eriberto had testified in support of the
exchange.26 The guardianship court subsequently approved the proposed transaction. 27 The resulting Deed of
Exchange contained Eriberto’s signature as first party.28
As for Eriberto’s statement that the Deed of Exchange was simulated, the prosecution disputed this by again using
the minutes of the December 5, 1992 meeting, which states that the property of Gilberto will be exchanged for 3,700
MFI shares.
For his defense, Eriberto asserted that the December 5, 1992 meeting did not actually take place. While he admitted
signing, reading and understanding the minutes of the alleged meeting, he explained that the minutes were only
brought by Cesar and Elizabeth to his house for signing, but there was no actual meeting. 29
To support the claim that no meeting took place in 1992, the defense presented Elizabeth, the MFI corporate
secretary, who could not remember with certainty if she had sent out any notice for the December 5, 1992 meeting
and could not produce any copy thereof.
The defense also presented a notice of meeting dated October 19, 1993, which called for the MFI board’s initial
meeting "since its business operations started," to be held on November 9, 1993. Emphasizing the words "initial
meeting," Eriberto argued that this proves that prior to November 9, 1993, no meeting (including the December 5,
1992 meeting) had ever taken place.
As for the charge that he perjured himself when he stated that the Deed of Exchange was fictitious and simulated for
lack of consideration, Eriberto explained that MFI never issued stock certificates in favor of his son Gilberto.
Corporate secretary Elizabeth corroborated this statement and admitted that stock certificates were never issued to
Gilberto or any of the stockholders.30
While he admitted supporting the proposed exchange and seeking its approval by the guardianship court, Eriberto
maintained that he did so because he was convinced by private complainant Cesar that the exchange would benefit
his son Gilberto. He however reiterated that, to date, Gilberto is not a stockholder of MFI, thus has not received any
consideration for the exchange.
On rebuttal, the prosecution refuted Eriberto’s claim that the board had its first actual meeting only on November 9,
1993. It explained that the November 9, 1993 meeting was the initial meeting "since business operations began",
because MFI obtained permit to conduct business only in 1993. But the November 9, 1993 meeting was not the first
meeting ever held by the board of directors. The prosecution presented the secretary’s certificates of board
meetings held on April 6, 199231 and September 5, 199232 -- both before November 9, 1993 and both signed by
Eriberto.33 At this time, business operations have not yet begun because the company’s hotel building was still under
construction. The said secretary’s certificates in fact show that MFI was still sourcing additional funds for the
construction of its hotel.34

Ruling of the Metropolitan Trial Court
On October 18, 2000, the MeTC rendered a judgment35 holding that the prosecution was able to prove that the
December 5, 1992 meeting actually took place and that petitioner attended the same as evidenced by his signature
in the minutes thereof. As for Eriberto’s statement that the Deed of Exchange was "fictitious," the MeTC held that his
participation in the approval and execution of the document, as well as his avowals before the guardianship court
regarding the proposed exchange all militate against his previous statement. Petitioner was thus found guilty as
charged and sentenced to imprisonment of two months of arresto mayor minimum and medium, as minimum, to one
year and one day of arresto mayor maximum and prison correccional minimum, as maximum. 36
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
Eriberto appealed37 his conviction to the RTC of Mandaluyong City, Branch 213, which eventually affirmed the
appealed judgment.38 The fallo of the Decision states that:
WHEREFORE, the decision of October 18, 2000 by Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 59, Mandaluyong City,
convicting the accused-appellant Eriberto S. Masangkay of the crime of perjury under Article 183 of the Revised
Penal Code is hereby affirmed in toto.
SO ORDERED.39
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA affirmed the appealed ruling of the trial courts, holding that the prosecution was able to prove that the
falsehoods in the petition for involuntary dissolution were deliberately made. It explained that Eriberto’s signatures
on the two allegedly fictitious documents show that he participated in the execution of the Deed of Exchange and
was present in the December 5, 1992 meeting. Having participated in these two matters, Eriberto knew that these
were not simulated and fictitious, as he claimed in his verified petition for involuntary dissolution of MFI. Thus, he
deliberately lied in his petition.40
The CA rejected petitioner’s argument that the two statements were not material. It ruled that they were material
because petitioner even cited them as principal basis for his petition for involuntary dissolution. 41
The appellate court found no merit in the issue of prejudicial question. It held that the result of the petition for
involuntary dissolution will not be determinative of the criminal case, which can be resolved independently.42
The CA however, corrected the imposed penalty on the ground that the trial court was imprecise in its application of
the Indeterminate Sentence Law. The CA meted the penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months and one day
of prision correccional minimum.43
Petitioner moved for reconsideration44 which was denied.45
Hence, this petition.46
Issues
Petitioner submits the following issues for review:
I
Whether there was deliberate assertion of falsehood
II
Whether the TRUTHFUL allegation in the petition for involuntary dissolution that there was no meeting is
material to the petition
III
Whether perjury could prosper while the main case remains pending47
Since this is a case involving a conviction in a criminal case, the issues boil down to whether the prosecution was
able to prove the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Our Ruling
We rule that the prosecution failed to prove the crime of perjury beyond reasonable doubt.

Article 183 of the RPC provides:
False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation. – The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum
period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person who, knowingly making
untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding articles shall testify under oath,
or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases
in which the law so requires.
Any person who, in case of a solemn affirmation made in lieu of an oath, shall commit any of the falsehoods
mentioned in this and the three preceding articles of this section, shall suffer the respective penalties provided
therein.
For perjury to exist, (1) there must be a sworn statement that is required by law; (2) it must be made under oath
before a competent officer; (3) the statement contains a deliberate assertion of falsehood; and (4) the false
declaration is with regard to a material matter.48
The presence of the first two elements is not disputed by the petitioner and they are indeed present in the instant
case. The sworn statements which contained the alleged falsehoods in this case were submitted in support of the
petition for involuntary dissolution, as required by Sections 105 and 121 of the Corporation Code.
1avvphi1

The petition was also verified by the petitioner before a notary public 49—an officer duly authorized by law to
administer oaths. This verification was done in compliance with Section 121 of the Corporation Code. 50
It is the elements of deliberate falsehood and materiality of the false statements to the petition for involuntary
dissolution which are contested.
On the element of materiality, a material matter is the main fact which is the subject of the inquiry or any fact or
circumstance which tends to prove that fact, or any fact or circumstance which tends to corroborate or strengthen
the testimony relative to the subject of inquiry, or which legitimately affects the credit of any witness who testifies. 51
Petitioner filed a petition for involuntary dissolution of MFI based on Section 105 of the Corporate Code, which
states:
Section 105. Withdrawal of stockholder or dissolution of corporation. – In addition and without prejudice to the other
rights and remedies available to a stockholder under this Title, any stockholder of a close corporation may, for any
reason, compel the said corporation to purchase his shares at their fair value, which shall not be less than their par
or issued value, when the corporation has sufficient assets in his books to cover its debts and liabilities exclusive of
capital stock: Provided, That any stockholder of a close corporation may, by written petition to the Securities and
Exchange Commission, compel the dissolution of such corporation whenever any of the acts of the directors,
officers or those in control of the corporation is illegal, or fraudulent, or dishonest, or oppressive or unfairly
prejudicial to the corporation or any stockholder, or whenever corporate assets are being misapplied or wasted.
He stated in his petition for involuntary dissolution that:
xxxx
4. Said secretary’s certificate is absolutely fictitious and simulated, because the alleged meeting of the
Board of Directors held on December 5, 1992 did not actually materialize.
xxxx
5. Using the said falsified and spurious document, x x x respondents executed another fictitious document
known as the Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct.
xxxx
The aforementioned contract is indeed simulated and fictitious because they defrauded minor child Gilberto
Ricaros Masangkay and deprived him of his own property without any consideration at all.
xxxx
8. The foregoing acts and deeds of the respondents, done in evident bad faith and in conspiracy with one
another, are seriously fraudulent and illegal because they constitute estafa through falsification of
documents, punishable under Articles 315 and 171 of the Revised Penal Code.
9. Likewise, said acts and deeds are feloniously prejudicial to the stockholders of MFI, including petitioner,
as corporate assets are being misapplied and wasted.

10. MFI should therefore be ordered dissolved after appropriate proceedings before this Honorable
Commission, in accordance with Sections 105 and 121 of the New Corporation Code x x x. 52
The statements for which the petitioner is tried for perjury are the very grounds he relied upon in his petition for
corporate dissolution. They refer to acts of the MFI directors which are allegedly fraudulent, illegal and prejudicial,
and which would allegedly justify corporate dissolution under Section 105 of the Corporation Code. Evidently, these
statements are material to his petition for involuntary dissolution. The element of materiality is therefore present.
The prosecution, however, failed to prove the element of deliberate falsehood.
The prosecution has the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt the falsehood of petitioner’s statement that the
December 5, 1992 meeting "did not actually materialize." In other words, the prosecution has to establish that the
said meeting in fact took place, i.e., that the directors were actually and physically present in one place at the same
time and conferred with each other.
To discharge this burden, the prosecution relied mainly on the minutes of the alleged December 5, 1992 meeting,
signed by the accused, which are inconsistent with his statement that the December 5, 1992 meeting did not
actually materialize. According to the minutes, a meeting actually took place. On the other hand, according to the
petitioner’s statement in the petition for dissolution, the meeting did not actually materialize or take place. The two
statements are obviously contradictory or inconsistent with each other. But the mere contradiction or inconsistency
between the two statements merely means that one of them is false. It cannot tell us which of the two statements is
actually false. The minutes could be true and the sworn statement false. But it is equally possible that the minutes
are false and the sworn statement is true, as explained by the petitioner who testified that the minutes were simply
brought to his house for signature, but no meeting actually transpired. Given the alternative possibilities, it is the
prosecution’s burden to affirmatively prove beyond reasonable doubt that the first statement (the minutes) is the true
one, while the other statement (in the petition for dissolution) is the false one.
We have held before that a conviction for perjury cannot be obtained by the prosecution by merely showing the
inconsistent or contradictory statements of the accused, even if both statements are sworn. The prosecution must
additionally prove which of the two statements is false and must show the statement to be false by evidence other
than the contradictory statement.53 The rationale for requiring evidence other than a contradictory statement is
explained thus:
x x x Proof that accused has given contradictory testimony under oath at a different time will not be sufficient to
establish the falsity of his testimony charged as perjury, for this would leave simply one oath of the defendant as
against another, and it would not appear that the testimony charged was false rather than the testimony
contradictory thereof. The two statements will simply neutralize each other; there must be some corroboration of the
contradictory testimony. Such corroboration, however, may be furnished by evidence aliunde tending to show
perjury independently of the declarations of testimony of the accused. 54
In this case, however, the prosecution was unable to prove, by convincing evidence other than the minutes, that the
December 5, 1992 meeting actually took place. It merely presented, aside from the minutes, the testimony of private
complainant Cesar, who is a respondent in the corporate dissolution case filed by the petitioner and is therefore not
a neutral or disinterested witness.55 The prosecution did not present the testimony of the other directors or
participants in the alleged meeting who could have testified that the meeting actually occurred. Neither did the
prosecution offer any explanation why such testimony was not presented. It likewise failed to present any evidence
that might circumstantially prove that on December 5, 1992, the directors were physically gathered at a single place,
and there conferred with each other and came up with certain resolutions. Notably, the prosecution failed to present
the notice for the alleged meeting. The corporate secretary, Elizabeth, who was presented by the petitioner, could
not even remember whether she had sent out a prior notice to the directors for the alleged December 5, 1992
meeting. The lack of certainty as to the sending of a notice raises serious doubt as to whether a meeting actually
took place, for how could the directors have been gathered for a meeting if they had not been clearly notified that
such a meeting would be taking place?
The insufficiency of the prosecution’s evidence is particularly glaring considering that the petitioner had already
explained the presence of his signature in the minutes of the meeting. He testified that while the meeting did not
actually take place, the minutes were brought to his house for his signature. He affixed his signature thereto
because he believed that the proposed exchange of the assets, which was the subject of the minutes, would be
beneficial to his child, Gilberto. Acting on this belief, he also supported the approval of the exchange by the
guardianship court.
Under these circumstances, we cannot say with moral certainty that the prosecution was able to prove beyond
reasonable doubt that the December 5, 1992 meeting actually took place and that the petitioner’s statement denying
the same was a deliberate falsehood.
The second statement in the petition for involuntary dissolution claimed to be perjurious reads:

5. Using the said falsified and spurious document, respondents executed another fictitious document known as the
Deed of Exchange with Cancellation of Usufruct.
The contract purporting to be a transfer of 3,700 shares of stock of MFI in return for a piece of land (Lot No. 2064-A2) located at Canlalay, Biñan, Laguna and owned by minor child Gilberto Masangkay is void.
Article 1409 of the New Civil Code states:
Article 1409. The following contracts are inexistent and void from the beginning:
xxxx
(2) those which are absolutely simulated or fictitious;
(3) those whose cause or object did not exist at the time of the transaction;
xxxx
These contracts cannot be ratified. Neither can the right to set up the defense of illegality be waived.
The aforementioned contract is indeed simulated and fictitious because they defrauded minor child Gilberto Ricaros
Masangkay and deprived him of his own property without any consideration at all.
Records of the MFI revealed that minor child Gilberto Ricaros Masangkay [or] his alleged guardian Magdalena S.
Ricaros never became a stockholder at any point in time of MFI.
In short, the petitioner is being charged with deliberate falsehood for his statement that the deed of exchange is
fictitious. To support the accusation, the prosecution proved that petitioner assented to the said Deed of Exchange
by virtue of his signatures in the minutes of the alleged December 5, 1992 meeting and on the instrument itself, and
his participation in procuring the guardianship court’s approval of the transaction. These allegedly show that the
exchange was not fictitious and that Eriberto knew it.
We cannot agree with this line of reasoning. Petitioner’s imputation of fictitiousness to the Deed of Exchange should
not be taken out of context. He explained in paragraph 5 of his petition for involuntary dissolution that the Deed of
Exchange is simulated and fictitious pursuant to Article 1409 of the Civil Code, because it deprived Gilberto
Masangkay of his property without any consideration at all. To justify his allegation that Gilberto did not receive
anything for the exchange, he stated in the same paragraph that Gilberto never became a stockholder of MFI (MFI
stocks were supposed to be the consideration for Gilberto’s land). This fact was subsequently proven by the
petitioner through the corporate secretary Elizabeth, who admitted that MFI never issued stocks in favor of the
stockholders. This testimony was never explained or rebutted by the prosecution. Thus, petitioner’s statement that
the exchange was "simulated and fictitious x x x because they x x x deprived [Gilberto] of his own property without
any consideration at all" cannot be considered a deliberate falsehood. It is simply his characterization of the
transaction, based on the fact that Gilberto did not receive consideration for the exchange of his land.
As importantly, petitioner’s statements in paragraph 5 of the petition for involuntary dissolution about the nature of
the Deed of Exchange are conclusions of law, and not factual statements which are susceptible of truth or falsity.
They are his opinion regarding the legal character of the Deed of Exchange. He opined that the Deed of Exchange
was fictitious or simulated under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, because MFI supposedly did not perform its
reciprocal obligation to issue stocks to Gilberto in exchange for his land. His opinion or legal conclusion may have
been wrong (as failure of consideration does not make a contract simulated or fictitious), 56 but it is an opinion or legal
conclusion nevertheless. An opinion or a judgment cannot be taken as an intentional false statement of facts. 57
We recognize that perjury strikes at the very administration of the laws; that it is the policy of the law that judicial
proceedings and judgments shall be fair and free from fraud; that litigants and parties be encouraged to tell the
truth, and that they be punished if they do not.58 However, it is also at the heart of every criminal proceeding that
every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Given the foregoing findings, there is no more need to discuss the issue involving the propriety of proceeding with
the perjury case while the civil case for corporate dissolution is pending.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed March 16, 2004 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
GR No. 25775 and its July 9, 2004 Resolution, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Eriberto S. Masangkay
is ACQUITTED of the charge of perjury on the ground of REASONABLE DOUBT.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 106634

October 12, 2000

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
NINOY MALBOG @ SATURNINO MALBOG, AMADEO VIERNES* AND SALVADOR BAMBILLA, accusedappellants.
DECISION
PURISIMA, J.:
Appeal interposed by the appellants from the decision, dated March 23, 1992, of Branch 42 of the Regional Trial
Court in Dagupan City, finding them guilty of forcible abduction with rape and sentencing them to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, to indemnify the victim in the amount of P50,000.00; and to pay the costs.
On August 28, 1990, Estela Eng y Ulalan lodged her criminal complaint for forcible abduction with rape against
Ninoy Malbog, Amado Viernes and an unnamed suspect (John Doe).
Filed by on August 29, 1990 2nd Assistant City Prosecutor Daniel Terrado, the Original Complaint alleged:
"That on or about the 30th day of January, 1990, in the City of Dagupan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, NINOY MALBOG, AMADO VIERNES and JOHN DOE, with
violence and intimidation against persons, confederating together, acting jointly and helping one another, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally, forcibly abduct one ESTELA ENG y Ulalan, by dragging her inside a car
and bringing her to INAWA LODGE-INN, Calasiao, Pangasinan and once inside, with the use of force, accused
JOHN DOE have carnal knowledge of said ESTELA ENG y Ulalan, against her will and consent to the damage and
prejudice of the latter."1
Upon arraignment thereunder on December 28, 1990, with the assistance of counsel de parte, Atty. Santiago
Marcella, Ninoy Malbog @ Saturnino Malbog and Amado Viernes entered negative pleas.
Appellant Salvador Bambilla, who was a member of the Philippine National Police (then known as Integrated
National Police) and whose case was first referred to the office of the Judge Advocate General (JAGO), was
included in the charge in the Amended Complaint, dated January 10, 1991, alleging:
"That on or about the 30th day of January, 1990, in the City of Dagupan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, NINOY MALBOG @ SATURNINO MALBOG, AMADO VIERNES
and SALVADOR BAMBILLA, with violence and intimidation against persons, confederating together, acting jointly
and helping one another, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally, forcibly abduct one ESTELA ENG y
Ulalan, by dragging her inside a car and bringing her to INAWA LODGE-INN, Calasiao, Pangasinan and once inside
with the use of force, accused SALVADOR BAMBILLA have carnal knowledge of said ESTELA ENG y Ulalan,
against her will and consent, to the damage and prejudice of the latter." 2
With Bambilla pleading not guilty upon arraignment on June 17, 1991, trial proceeded.
Evidence for the prosecution consisted of the testimonies of the victim, Estela Eng y Ulalan, and Dr. Rico Reyes, the
examining physician.
Estela Eng y Ulalan, who was 19 years old at the time of the incident and a nursing student at Lyceum Northwestern
University in Dagupan City, testified that at about six o’ clock in the morning of January 30, 1990, she boarded a
Balbin-Fernandez bus bound for Dagupan City to attend her classes at Northwestern University. Appellant Salvador
Bambilla also boarded the same bus and sat beside her. Upon reaching Dagupan, the bus stopped in front of the
Post Office. She was about to alight from the vehicle when Bambilla held her hand and threatened her. Bambilla
continued to hold her hand tightly even after they had alighted. While standing in front of the Post Office, he told her
that he would kill her if she shouted or made noise. Then, a blue car stopped in front of them and Bambilla opened
the door of the car, pushed her inside and also boarded. Once inside the vehicle, she recognized appellant Ninoy
Malbog as the driver. Seated beside him on the front seat was Amado Viernes. She recognized Malbog because he
was their former family driver, and she recognized Viernes only by face until he was later identified. She shouted for
help but kept quiet when Bambilla threatened her and poked his gun at her waist.

Upon the order of Bambilla, Malbog drove the car to Calasiao and stopped in front of what she later came to know
as Inawa Lodge-Inn. Malbog drove the car into a garage, and a man immediately closed the gate after which
Viernes and Malbog went out of the car and left while Bambilla pushed her (victim) out and forced her to go up a
staircase. Upon reaching the door of a room, Bambilla pushed her inside, followed her and locked the door. She
screamed and when nobody heard her, she kneeled in front of Bambilla and pleaded to him not to do anything to
her. Bambilla pushed her to the bed, instead, went on top of her, and began kissing her cheeks, neck and lips. Then,
he pulled her white uniform up to her waist and removed her underwear, after which he (Bambilla) took off his pants
and brief. She struggled and fought against him but he was stronger. Thereafter, he tried to insert his penis into her
vagina while making an up and down movement but she closed her legs. Later, she felt hot fluid on her thighs.
According to her (victim), she did not know if Bambilla was able to penetrate her private parts because she was too
tired and lost consciousness.
When she recovered, she went to the comfort room to wash her private parts. She looked for a window through
which to escape but she found none. When she went out of the comfort room, Bambilla told her that he was leaving
to buy for her a shirt because her uniform was all wet and dirty.
When Bambilla returned, he brought a skirt and T-shirt and ordered her to change her clothes, after which he told
her that he was bringing her to Manila. When she had dressed up they left the Inawa Lodge and rode on the same
blue car driven by Malbog earlier but this time, it was Bambilla who drove the car. On the way, she gypped Bambilla
by telling him that she would go with him to Manila but he should first take her home to Pozorrubio to get some
clothes. When they reached Pozorrubio at around 12:00 noon, she alighted at Barangay Talogtog and took a
tricycle. Upon reaching their house, she told her brother Cesar what happened. The following day, January 31,
1990, she submitted herself for medical examination by Dr. Rico Reyes, at the Don Teofilo Memorial Hospital. Two
days after the incident, or on February 1, 1990 to be precise, she reported the incident to the Pozorrubio Police and
also to the Dagupan City Police.3
The victim-complainant denied the theory of appellant Salvador Bambilla that he was her boyfriend and she
voluntarily went with him to Inawa Lodge-Inn on January 30, 1990.
The second prosecution witness, Dr. Rico Reyes, recounted that on January 31, 1990, the victim-complainant,
Estela Eng, went to the Don Teofilo Memorial Hospital for physical examination, which examination revealed that
there was:
"erythema on left labia minora xxx; hymenal laceration, healed at 6:00 o’ clock and 10:00 o’ clock position; vaginal
introitus admits 1 finger; cervix closed; uterus was small; adnexae-free; vaginal smear was done for detection of
presence of spermatozoa and the findings was negative for spermatozoa."
Aside from the said findings, there was no other sign of physical injury. Dr. Reyes explained that "erythema on left
labia minora" meant that there was reddening on the left labia which might be an irritation caused by tight
underwears; and that the healed hymenal laceration at six o’ clock and ten o’ clock positions could have been
sustained more than seven days prior to examination.4
Evidence for the defense consisted mainly of the testimonies of all the three appellants, Ninoy Malbog @ Saturnino,
Amadeo Viernes and Salvador Bambilla.
According to appellant Bambilla, he and the complainant were sweethearts. He first met her in February 1988, when
he was assigned as traffic policeman near complainant’s bakery in Barangay Poblacion, Pozorrubio, Pangasinan.
Since then, he began courting her and after she answered him on March 14, 1988, they began going out and he
would take her to and from the school.
On January 30, 1990, at around six o’clock in the morning, as he was already off-duty, he boarded a BalbinFernandez bus bound for Dagupan City, to go home to Amagbagan. The bus was already half full when he boarded
it. Upon seeing the complainant, Estela Eng, inside the bus, he sat beside her. They reached Dagupan at around
seven o’clock a.m. and they alighted together in front of the Post Office. As Estela Eng was already late for her
class, he invited her for a date and she acceded on condition that she was to be brought back to her school at 12:00
noon to attend her afternoon classes. He then told her that he was going to bring her to Inawa Lodge in Calasiao.
She was reluctant at first, asking him if there was no other place where they could go to but later on she agreed to
go with him but asked him not to touch her - ("Anggapoy galawan").
They were about to board a tricycle for Calasiao when an oncoming blue car blew its horn. He recognized the driver
as Ninoy Malbog who used to drive a passenger mini-bus he usually rode on. He then approached the car and
talked to Malbog. When he found out that Malbog was going to Dagupan City to buy materials for his employer, he
requested him (Malbog) to take him and Estela to Calasiao. When Malbog agreed, he and Estela sat in the
backseat. As they were leaving, they saw Amado Viernes, waving at them and asking them where they were going.
Malbog told Viernes that he would first bring Bambilla and his companion to Calasiao, buy spare parts for his
employer and then go back to Pozorrubio. Viernes asked Malbog if he could hitch a ride back to Pozorrubio. After
asking permission from his mother, Amado also boarded the car and sat beside him (Malbog).

While they were on their way to Calasiao, Estela Eng was worried that Malbog and Viernes might tell her brother
that she went with them to Calasiao. When they reached Inawa Lodge, he instructed Malbog to bring the car inside
the compound. A man directed them towards a garage where they parked the car. He asked Estela to go ahead
upstairs because he had to tell the two not to report to her brother. When Estela left, he asked Malbog to leave the
car so people would not see him (Bambilla) and Estela when they leave the place. He assured Malbog that his
employer, Rocky Cancino, was his good friend and he would explain to Cancino when he brings back the car to him.
With such assurance, Malbog agreed to leave the car and he and Viernes left Inawa Lodge.
After the two left, Bambilla proceeded to pay the motel bills after which a roomboy accompanied him to Room B,
handing him a towel and pitcher of cold water. When he went inside the room, he saw Estela sitting on the bed.
When he asked her why she was quiet, she told him that she was worried that Malbog and Viernes might report to
her brother. He told her not to worry and began to kiss her until both of them were lying on the bed. He then
removed her dress, her bra and her panty and continued kissing her. Then he stood up to remove his clothes while
Estela covered her body with her clothes because she was ashamed of his seeing her naked. When he was already
undressed, he laid on top of her but Estela kept her legs closed. When he tried to open her legs, she told him "not
today because we have pregnancy test next week."5 Thus, he simply inserted his penis in between her thighs just
above her knees because she continued to clutch her dress and covered her body from the knee up. He ejaculated
on her thighs.
Afterwards, Estela got up and went to the comfort room. After a few minutes, she went out of the comfort room, lied
on the bed beside him, embraced him and told him "Do not abandon me." After assuring her that he will not because
he loves her, he suggested that they leave Inawa Lodge as he was already hungry. While Estela was putting on her
clothes, she noticed that they were all crumpled and told him that she needed new clothes. As he could not
convince her to go with him, he went out alone.
Using the same car driven by Malbog, he went to Ang Ka Tong Store in Dagupan City and bought a shirt and a
blouse. He went back to Inawa Lodge after about 45 minutes. The door to Room B was locked when he arrived so
he knocked and called out to Estela. When Estela opened the door, he gave her the shirt and blouse he bought and
asked her to change. However, she did not immediately put on the clothes; instead, she sat on the bed and told him,
"If you truly love me, do not abandon me. I will go with you." It was at that point that they agreed to elope and go to
Manila. After Estela was dressed, they checked out of Inawa Lodge riding in the same car that he (Bambilla)
borrowed from Malbog. They agreed to go home first to Pozorrubio so they could get some clothes and money.
They arrived in Pozorrubio around noontime and upon reaching Barangay Talogtog, Estela suggested that it would
be better if she would get off there and take a tricycle home so nobody would see them together. They agreed to
meet at one o’ clock in the afternoon of the same day at the Pantranco bus terminal near the Pozorrubio town plaza.
While Estela took a tricycle and proceeded to her house, he also went home to Amagbagan to get money and some
clothes. He was two minutes late when he arrived at their meeting place and he did not find Estela there. He waited
for her for forty-five (45) minutes but she did not arrive. Thinking that she probably changed her mind, he went to her
school, Northwestern University, in Dagupan City. He waited for her until 4:30 but he did not find her. He then went
back to Pozorrubio and returned his clothes in his house, after which he drove to the house of Rocky Cancino to
return the car.
He (Bambilla) reached the house of Cancino at around six thirty. While he was in the house of Cancino, two
policemen, Patrolmen Mina and Perez, arrived and informed Bambilla that he was to go immediately to the police
station because the family of Estela was there. They also instructed Ninoy Malbog and Rocky Cancino to go with
him. Thus, he, together with Malbog and Cancino, went to the police station in Pozorrubio. Upon arrival at the
station, he saw Estela Eng, her two brothers, her sister and their family maid inside the station. Outside the
municipal hall, the Chief of Police P/Capt. Conrado Rosete asked him what happened and why he tried to elope with
Eng (angipatik) and he told him that nothing happened between him and Estela. Bambilla also claimed that he tried
to talk to Estela after the incident to ask her about the problem but to no avail. Later, he learned that Estela filed a
criminal complaint against him.6
Appellant Amado Viernes, a fish vendor, testified that in the morning of January 30, 1990, his mother Maria Viernes
asked him to accompany her to get the fish she left with a fellow fish vendor in Dagupan City. They boarded the
Balbin-Fernandez mini bus in front of their house in Barangay Talogtog, Pozorrubio. Inside the bus, he saw Salvador
Bambilla, whom he knew to be a policeman, and Estela Eng, his townmate, seated together and talking to each
other. He and his mother alighted in front of the Mele’s Restaurant in Dagupan City. They found out, however, that
the fish they left was already sent to Pozorrubio so they immediately walked back towards the bus stop to get a ride
home. After waiting for some time and no bus arrived, they walked towards the Post Office. Upon reaching the said
spot, he saw Bambilla and Eng talking. As he knew Bambilla to be a policeman, he greeted the latter by saying "Sir".
Bambilla replied by asking him, "Where are you going?" and he told him that they were going back to Pozorrubio.
Fifteen more minutes passed but no bus arrived. When Eng and Bambilla were about to board a tricycle, a car
arrived and Bambilla waved at the car, approached the same and talked to the driver whom he recognized as Ninoy
Malbog. Thereafter, he saw Bambilla and Eng board the car. He (Viernes) also approached the car to ask Malbog
where he was going. When he found out that he would be going back to Pozorrubio, he asked Malbog if he could
hitch a ride back and when the latter agreed, he went back to his mother to inform her that he would be hitching a

ride back to Pozorrubio with Malbog. When she agreed, he immediately boarded the car, on the front seat beside
Malbog.
He learned that Malbog would first take Bambilla and Eng to Calasiao, buy spare parts for Rocky Cancino’s truck,
and then go back to Pozorrubio. When they reached Calasiao, they took the left route towards the place called
Inawa Lodge Inn. Upon reaching the said place, Bambilla instructed him to leave and asked Malbog to leave the car,
promising that he would be responsible for explaining what they did to Cancino. Afterwards, he and Malbog left
Inawa Lodge together and took a ride back to Dagupan. Malbog told him that had he known that Bambilla would be
asking him to leave the car, he would not have brought the two to Calasiao. When they reached Dagupan, Malbog
walked towards Perez Boulevard to buy spare parts while he alighted in front of Carried Lumber to get a ride back to
Pozorrubio.7
Amado Viernes’ allegations were corroborated by his mother, Maria Viernes, who attested to the fact that she was
with him on January 30, 1990; that her son went to Dagupan because she asked him to accompany her to get the
fish they were supposed to sell which she left with a fellow fish vendor in Dagupan City; that while waiting for the
bus to take them back to Pozorrubio, Malbog arrived in a blue car; that his son approached the car and talked to
Malbog; that after a few minutes his son told her that he would be hitching a ride back to Pozorrubio with Malbog. 8
Appellant Ninoy Malbog narrated his version of the incident as follows:
In the early morning of January 30, 1990, at around six o’clock in the morning, he was sent by his employer, Rocky
Cancino, to buy spare parts for their delivery truck in Dagupan City. When he reached Dagupan City, he saw
Bambilla with Estela Eng about to board a tricycle. Since he knew Bambilla, he honked the horn to get the latter’s
attention and Bambilla approached and asked him if he could take him and Estela to Calasiao. As it was early and
the shop where he was supposed to buy the spare parts was still closed, he agreed. They met Amado Viernes on
the way and the latter also hitched a ride. When they reached the Inawa Lodge, Bambilla asked him to leave the car
because he did not want anybody to see him and Estela checking out of the motel. He was reluctant at first but
when Bambilla assured him that he was a good friend of Cancino and he (Bambilla) would explain to Cancino when
he returns the car later in the day, he (Malbog) agreed. He and Viernes then went back to Dagupan City and parted
ways at the junction of Perez Boulevard and del Pilar Street. He proceeded towards Sampaguita Auto Supply to buy
the spare parts while Viernes went to the Carried Lumber. After buying the spare parts, he took a ride back to
Pozorrubio.9
Rocky Cancino, employer of Malbog confirmed that in the early morning of January 30, 1990, he sent the latter to
Dagupan City to buy spare parts of a delivery truck and allowed him to use his blue car because he wanted the
delivery truck repaired immediately. When Malbog went back around ten a.m., he was told that he (Malbog) lent his
car to Bambilla so that he got angry; that around six o’ clock in the evening of the same day, Bambilla arrived and
explained to him what happened; that while he and Bambilla were still talking, two policemen came looking for
Bambilla and the policemen told Bambilla to go with them to the police station such that he and Malbog went with
Bambilla to the police station.
Cancino further testified that he was of the belief that Bambilla and complainant Eng were sweethearts because on
several occasions since the year 1988, he had seen the two together on dates. 10
Willy Napacena, roomboy of Inawa Lodge Inn, testified that he was on duty in the morning of January 30, 1990; that
about seven thirty a.m., Bambilla, with three companions, two males and one female, arrived in a blue car and he
was the one who let them enter the garage; that upon getting out of the car, the two male companions of Bambilla
left while the latter and his female companion went up to Room B; that after 30 minutes, Bambilla went out of the
room alone and boarded the same blue car; that during the time Bambilla was out, he did not hear any call or
buzzer from Room B, and neither did he hear any noise coming therefrom; that Bambilla returned at around nine
a.m.; and about an hour after Bambilla was back, he and the lady checked out of the lodge. 11
On March 23, 1992, the trial court found all the three appellants guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
forcible abduction with rape and sentenced them accordingly. In finding for the prosecution, it ratiocinated:
"xxx

xxx

xxx

2. It is very unnatural for two lovers to have a date early in the morning, especially in the case of Estela who
had to attend her classes.
3. It is also unnatural that Estela would voluntarily go with him for a date in the company of the other two (2)
accused, Ninoy Malbog and Amado Viernes.
4. There were no pictures, cards and letters allegedly given to him by Estela which he allegedly surrendered
to her on January 31, 1990, because he was not foolish enough to return them to her considering that he
was invited to the police station, together with Ninoy Malbog and Rocky Bell Cancino, to shed light on what
happened between him and Estela in the early morning of January 30, 1990, and that on the same night he

saw Estela, together with her brothers and sister and their maid, being interrogated by Pat. Credo, and
considering that he appeared to be smart as borne out by the way he concocted his defense and the
manner he answered questions; and considering further that the pictures, cards and letters were very
important pieces of evidence.
5. Estela Eng immediately reported what the accused, Pat. Salvador Bambilla, and his companions did to
her. For it is hard to believe that she would sacrifice her honor, being a good looking girl, to tell a story of
defloration, allow the examination of her private parts and thereafter present herself to be the subject of a
public trial.
xxx

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xxx

And the circumstances which negated his claim that Estela voluntarily went with him and made the Court to rule that
there is evidence of forcible abduction, are:
1. The testimony of Estela Eng is clear and convincing, the complainant declaring that she and the accused
Bambilla were never sweethearts; that when the mini-bus which she rode from Pozorrubio to Dagupan City
stopped in front of the Post Office and she was about to alight, Bambilla held her hand and threatened her
with bodily harm; that upon alighting from the mini-bus Bambilla again held her right hand with his left hand
tightly and told her that he will kill her if she will shout or will make some struggle or noise; that just as the
mini-bus moved forward, a car suddenly stopped in front of them and Bambilla pushed Estela inside; that
she asked for help by shouting, but Bambilla immediately poked his gun to her waist and because of fear,
she stopped and just cried. On the way to Calasiao she even awked (sic) help from Ninoy Malbog, but the
latter ignored her.
2. And the fact that Bambilla at that time was armed with a hand gun.
xxx

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The Court believes that the following circumstances have sufficiently established the commission of the crime of
Rape:
a] The threat, which is continuing, by Salvador Bambilla, who is a policeman and at that time armed with a
hand gun, against the life of Estela Eng from the time the latter was abducted in front of the Post Office up to
the time said Salvador Bambilla satisfied his desire in having sex with Estela Eng, which threat put her to
crouch in fear, keep silent and obey his orders.
b] There is resistance or struggle put up by Estela Eng against the intention of Bambilla to lie and have sex
with her. This resistance or struggle is evidenced by the fact that once they entered the garage of the Inawa
Lodge Inn, in Calasiao, Pangasinan, and after accused Ninoy Malbog and Amado Viernes have left upon
instruction of Bambilla, the latter pushed Estela out of the car and into the room of the hotel and, thereupon,
pursued his intention. Such resistance or struggle by private complainant is also evidenced by the fact that
her white nursing uniform dress was, as testified by accused Bambilla, crumpled , got wet and dirtied. If
really Estela Eng did not put up a resistance or struggle when Bambilla went on to satisfy his carnal designs,
why was her dress crumpled, wet and dirtied? The Court believes that the foregoing circumstances are
indications of the criminal intent of Pat. Bambilla to lie and have sex with Estela Eng, without the latter’s
consent and against her will.
c] There is consummated crime of Rape. This conclusion is evidenced by the findings of Dr. Rico Reyes who
was the one who attended to and examined Estela Eng." 12
The lower court disposed thus:
"WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused Salvador Bambilla, Ninoy Malbog, alias Saturnino Malbog, and Amado
Viernes guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Forcible Abduction With Rape and are hereby sentenced to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to jointly and severally indemnify the offended party Estela Eng the sum
of P50,000.00, and to pay proportionate costs.
SO ORDERED."13
Hence, this appeal.
In criminal cases, the guilt of the accused must be proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt on the
strength of its evidence.14 Conviction of the accused must rest not on the weakness of the defense but on the
strength of the prosecution’s evidence;15 otherwise, the accused is entitled to an acquittal.

Under the criminal justice system in this country, the overriding consideration is not whether the court doubts the
innocence of the accused but whether it entertains a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. 16 Speculation, conjectures and
probabilities cannot take the place of proof required to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt
and suspicion, no matter how strong, cannot sway judgment.17
In reviewing rape cases, this Court is guided by the following principles: (a) an accusation of rape can be made with
facility and while the accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more difficult for the person accused, though innocent,
to disprove the charge; (b) considering that, in the nature of things, only two (2) persons are usually involved in the
crime of rape, the testimony of the complainant should be scrutinized with great caution; and (c) the evidence for the
prosecution must stand or fall on its own merit, and cannot be allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the
evidence for the defense.18
The lone testimony of the victim of rape, if it meets the test of credibility, may be made the basis of conviction. 19 It is
therefore incumbent upon the trial court to be very scrupulous in ascertaining the credibility of the testimony of the
victim and to carefully sift through her allegations because such testimony, standing alone, if it passes the test of
credibility, may lead to a finding of guilt.
As a general rule, the factual findings by the trial court deserve a high degree of respect and will not be disturbed on
appeal in the absence of any clear showing that it overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied some facts or
circumstances of weight and substance which could alter the result of the case. 20
A judicious review of the case under scrutiny, however, shows that the trial court did overlook some facts and
circumstances of weight and substance which cast doubt on the truth and credibility of complainant’s accusations.
The complainant alleged that while they (she and Bambilla) were still on the bus, the latter poked his gun at her and
threatened to kill her if she shouts. She further claimed that she did, in fact, shout but the other passengers were
probably frightened.21
Such allegation by the complainant cannot be given credence by the Court. It is belied by her very own testimony
with respect to the time and place where the alleged forcible abduction took place. She herself admitted that the bus
was already full when they left Pozorrubio.22 Most of the passengers were her townmates from Pozorrubio and
schoolmates from Lyceum Northwestern University. Moreover, the alleged threat happened in broad daylight. Given
all these circumstances, the Court finds the testimony of the complainant incredible. If indeed Bambilla threatened
her by poking his gun, it was impossible that nobody noticed if she put up a struggle against him. Then too, if she
tried to shout as she claimed, somebody could have heard her and responded to her shouts. At the very least, if she
shouted, as she theorized, a commotion inside the bus would inevitably occurred. If Bambilla carried a gun that day,
it was sufficiently explained by his being a policeman, and at the time of the incident, he just got off from his duty
and was on his way home.
Complainant likewise averred that Bambilla continued to poke his gun at her and to threaten her when they alighted
from the bus in front of the Post Office. Again, such allegation is unworthy of belief. Complainant herself admitted
that the bus regularly stops in front of the Post Office,23 where she and Bambilla alighted because students of
Lyceum usually get off thereat. The said testimony of complainant makes her allegations of "threat" unlikely because
it would be impossible for anyone not to notice Bambilla poking a gun at her and threatening her. Not only that, a
few meters across the Post Office was the Dagupan City Police Station. If there was truth to the allegation that she
was forcibly abducted by Bambilla, her normal reaction would have been to resist and struggle against her abductor.
And considering the circumstances of time and place where complainant was supposedly abducted, there was
every opportunity for her to seek help by the simple expedient of shouting. As earlier mentioned, the road in front of
the Post Office is a major bus stop and a lot of people alighted thereat, as it was already seven o’clock in the
morning.24 The police station was only a few meters from the Post Office and there were passenger jeepneys parked
right in front of the Post Office.25 All the aforesaid circumstances taken together negate the plausibility of the forcible
abduction complained of.
Another significant circumstance overlooked below was the fact that Bambilla went out of the motel, left the
complainant alone and was out for more than thirty (30) minutes. This fact was testified to by
Bambilla,26corroborated by the testimony of Willy Napacena, the roomboy of the motel, 27 and admitted by the
complainant herself.28 What is more, Napacena attested to the fact that the doors to the rooms of Inawa Lodge did
not have outside locks and could only be locked from inside. 29 Complainant cannot therefore claim that Bambilla
locked her up. Said roomboy also testified that inside each room was a buzzer which could be used by customers
calling for room service.30 Napacena, declared under oath that he did not hear any call from the buzzer nor any
shout for help coming from Room B where the complainant was left alone for at least half an hour.31
It is thus decisively evident that Estela Eng had ample opportunity to escape or, at least, to shout for help if she was
really brought to the motel against her will and raped, as complained of. But she never tried to escape nor asked for
help, something unnatural for a woman who had been forcibly abducted and raped. It would have been different if
the complainant was physically unable to get up and escape, because she was beaten up and rendered
unconscious. Then, it would have been understandable why she could not escape even if there was an opportunity

to do so. In the case under scrutiny, there were no signs that complainant Eng was too weakened to even get up
and walk. Unacceptable is complainant’s explanation why she did not try to go out of the room and escape, to wit:
"Q You also mentioned in your previous testimony that the accused Salvador Bambilla went out for about 30
minutes?
A Yes, sir.
Q When he was out, do you mean to say that he left you from the room?
A Yes, sir.
Q And for that 30 minutes what did you do in order to escape?
A I was trying to open the door by turning the knob but I could not and how could I also escape since my clothes
were wet and dirty and the jalousies because there are also jalousies, there is still a screen covering the said
window, so how could I go out , sir."32
It is simply unlikely for a woman who has just been robbed of her honor and chastity to still think of wet and dirty
clothes instead of seizing upon every opportunity to escape from her malefactor. In the case under consideration,
the complainant admitted that she waited for Bambilla to return:
"Q Do you mean to say that you waited for Salvador Bambilla to return?
A It is like this, before he left he told me to stay because according to him he will buy me a skirt and a t-shirt, sir.
xxx

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Q In other words, you want to tell the Honorable Court that it was Salvador Bambilla who suggested to buy you skirt
and t-shirt?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you trusted him to still come back and give you the skirt and t-shirt, am I correct?
A Yes, sir."33
As to the accusation of rape, the trial court did not consider the fact that complainant herself did not know if Bambilla
was able to insert his penis into her vagina:
"Q Did he ever make any movement while on your top and his penis reached your vagina?
A He tried to insert his erect penis into my vagina but I don’t know if it was inserted because I lost consciousness,
sir."34
"Q You also stated that he ejaculated on your thigh?
A Yes, sir.
Q Do you mean to say that his penis was not able to penetrate your vagina?
A That’s what I don’t know anymore because I was already tired and had lost my consciousness, sir." 35
Then too, the findings of the medico-legal officer who examined the complainant indicated the probability that no
rape was committed. The medical certificate stated that there was no sign of external physical injuries on the whole
body of the complainant, no spermatozoa was found but there were erythema and healed lacerations. 36 When asked
to explain, the medico-legal officer opined that the erythema or reddening on the left labia could have been caused
by tight underwears and the hymenal lacerations could have been sustained more than seven days prior to
examination or several days before the alleged rape happened.37
In light of the foregoing circumstances coupled with complainant’s admission that her legs were closed all the time
she was inside the motel,38 the fact that she did not try to escape although a second assault was very likely, did not
try to shout for help and instead, waited for Bambilla to return, effectively contradict the protestation of complainant
that she was raped. If there was sexual intercourse, evidence is utterly wanting to show that the same was against
her will.
1âwphi1

Equally unaffirmable is the lower court’s finding that all the three appellants conspired together to forcibly abduct
complainant Eng against her will and to bring her to Inawa Lodge so that Bambilla could have carnal knowledge with
her. As sufficiently shown in the testimonies of the appellants, the fact that they were together on January 31, 1990
was a mere coincidence. Malbog’s presence in Dagupan City that morning was duly explained by Rocky Cancino,
his employer, who attested under oath that he sent Malbog to Dagupan City on that day to buy spare parts for his
delivery truck. The presence of Viernes in the same place was likewise adequately explained by his mother, Maria
Viernes, who recounted that her said son accompanied her to Dagupan City upon her request.
While the Court has, time and again, stressed that if a woman states that she was raped, she in effect says all there
is to show that she was indeed raped, experience has also shown that it is not at all impossible that unfounded
charges of rape may be proffered by women who are actuated by some sinister, ulterior or undisclosed motive. 39
And as held by this Court in the case of People vs. Alvario, 40 judges must free themselves of the natural tendency to
be overprotective of every woman decrying her having been sexually abused, and demanding punishment for the
abuser. While they ought to be cognizant of the anguish and humiliation the rape victim goes through as she
demands justice, judges should equally bear in mind that their responsibility is to render justice according to law. 41
Where the inculpatory facts and circumstances are susceptible of two or more interpretations, one of which is
consistent with the innocence of the accused while the others may be compatible with the finding of guilt, the court
must acquit the accused because the evidence does not fulfill the test of moral certainty required for conviction. 42
In the case under review, the prosecution has not proven beyond reasonable doubt that appellants Salvador
Bambilla, Amado Viernes and Ninoy Malbog forcibly abducted complainant Estela Eng y Ulalan, brought her to the
Inawa Lodge and had carnal knowledge with her. With the inability of the prosecution to discharge its burden of
proof, the presumption of innocence in favor of appellants prevails and therefore, pursuant to law all the three
appellants are entitled to acquittal.
Once again, the Court has occasion to quote what Alfonso El Sabio was reputed to have said a long time
ago43 "[m]as vale que queden sin castigar diez reos presuntos, que se castigue uno inocente". 44
WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment of conviction is REVERSED, and on the ground of reasonable doubt,
appellants Saturnino Malbog, Amado Viernes* and Salvador Bambilla are hereby ACQUITTED of the crime charged.
The Director of Prisons, National Bureau of Prison, Muntinlupa City, is ordered to cause the immediate release of
appellants unless there be any other legal ground for their continued detention, and to report to this Court within ten
(10) days the action taken under the premises. With costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 191261

March 2, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,
vs.
JENNY TUMAMBING y TAMAYO, Appellant.
DECISION
ABAD, J.:
This case is about how the credibility of the rape victim’s identification of her attacker often depends on her
spontaneous actions and behavior following the rape.
The Facts and the Case
The city prosecutor charged the accused Jenny Tumambing (Tumambing) with rape in Criminal Case 04-227897 of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.
DK,1 the complainant, testified that at around 2:00 a.m. on June 26, 2004 she went to sleep, leaving the lights on, at
her cousin’s rented room. She was startled when somebody entered the room after she had turned off the lights.
The intruder, a man, poked a knife at DK and threatened to kill her if she made any noise. He removed DK’s clothes
and undressed himself. He then succeeded in ravishing her. When the man was about to leave, DK turned the light

on and she saw his face. DK recognized him as the same person who passed by her cousin’s room several times in
the afternoon of the previous day, June 25, 2004. Later, she identified the accused Jenny Tumambing as her rapist.
On June 27, 2004 the doctor who examined DK found no bruises, hematoma, or any sign of resistance on her body
but found several fresh lacerations on her genitals.
Tumambing denied committing the crime. He claimed that on June 26, 2004 he slept at the house of his employer,
Nestor Ledesma. He went to bed at about 9:00 p.m. and woke up at 6:00 a.m. Tumambing swore that he never left
his employer’s house that night. Ledesma corroborated his story. Barangay officials summoned Tumambing and he
went, thinking that it had something to do with a bloodletting campaign. He was shocked, however, when he learned
that he had been suspected of having committed rape.
On June 27, 2006 the RTC found Tumambing guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged and sentenced
him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. The RTC also ordered him to indemnify DK of P50,000.00 and pay
her P50,000.00 as moral damages.
On November 12, 2009 the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed in CA-G.R. CR-HC 02433 the decision of the RTC in its
entirety, prompting Tumambing to appeal to this Court.
The Issue Presented
The sole issue presented in this case is whether or not the CA and the trial court erred in finding that accused
Tumambing raped DK under the circumstances she mentioned.
The Ruling of the Court
A successful prosecution of a criminal action largely depends on proof of two things: the identification of the author
of the crime and his actual commission of the same. An ample proof that a crime has been committed has no use if
the prosecution is unable to convincingly prove the offender’s identity. The constitutional presumption of innocence
that an accused enjoys is not demolished by an identification that is full of uncertainties. 2
Here, both the RTC and the CA gave credence to DK’s testimony. They maintained that DK categorically and
positively identified her rapist. The CA invoked People v. Reyes3 where the Court ruled that it would be easy for a
person who has once gained familiarity with the appearance of another to identify the latter even from a
considerable distance.4 Ordinarily, the Court would respect the trial court and the CA’s findings regarding the
credibility of the witnesses.5 But the courts mentioned appear to have overlooked or misinterpreted certain critical
evidence in the case. This compels the Court to take a look at the same.6
DK’s identification of accused Tumambing as her rapist is far from categorical. The Court’s reading of her testimony
shows that she was quite reluctant at the beginning but eventually pointed to him when it was suggested that
itmight be him after all. Several witnesses attested to DK’s uncertainties regarding the rapist’s identity when the
barangay chairman arranged for her to meet Tumambing. PO2 Crispulo Frondozo, one of the apprehending officers,
testified as follows:
Q: Now in the barangay, do you have any occasion to see whether the complainant pinpointed accused as the
person who abused her person?
A: No, Sir.
Q: What about in any precinct or agency, do you have any occasion to see complainant positively identified the
accused?
A: No, Sir.7
Pedrito Yacub, Sr., the Barangay Chairman to whom DK initially reported the incident testified:
Q: When the accused enter the barangay hall upon invitation, what happened next?
A: Correction Sir. Not at the barangay hall. In my residence.
Q: Then what happened?
A: He was surprised and [I] told him that he is a suspect of rape and his reply was "akala ko pakukunan niyo ako ng
dugo."
Q: What was the reaction of the accused?

A: As we sat down in a table, a confrontation ensued. I assured the complainant. Don't be afraid. Tell me. I will
protect you.
I called her two cousins. Then she stare upon the suspect. I ordered the suspect to turn left, right and backways.
Q: After you told the suspect to pose left, right and backways, what happened next?
A: The suspect told the complainant "huwag kang magtuturo. Ninenerbyus na ako." So she could not pinpoint the
suspect.
I said, "Iha, [i]to ba?" But she cannot point to.8 (Underscoring supplied)
DK’s above behavior during her initial confrontation with accused Tumambing gives the Court no confidence that, as
she claimed in her testimony, she was familiar with the looks of her rapist because she saw him on the previous day
as he passed by her cousin’s rented room many times. If this were the case, her natural reaction on seeing
Tumambing would have been one of outright fury or some revealing emotion, not reluctance in pointing to him
despite the barangay chairman’s assurance that he would protect her if she identified him. In assessing the
testimony of a wronged woman, evidence of her conduct immediately after the alleged assault is of critical value. 9
The barangay chairman continued:
Q: As barangay captain who has the duty to enforce law and city ordinances, you came to know that there were
other suspect, what did you do?
A: I invited the suspect.
Q: Do you remember the person whom you invited known as the second suspect?
A: His name is Alvin Quiatcho. For confrontation with the complainant. And confrontation ensued between her and
the suspect. I asked her is this the suspect?
Q: What was her answer?
A: She said, she could not recall. Chairman pa doctor kaya natin siya. It mean[s] "makunan ng cells."
The complainant told me chairman padoktor natin [sic] na lang natin siya.
Q: Presumably to get some sperm?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: What did you do if any with the suggestion of [DK]?
A: I told the complainant, it would be difficult to do.
Q: After that what happened?
A: So since she could not pinpoint also the other suspect, I released the other suspect. She could not
pinpoint.10(Underscoring supplied)
That DK wanted the sperm of Alvin Quiatcho (Quiatcho), the second suspect, tested and presumably compared with
that found in her clearly indicates that she entertained the possibility that it was Quiatcho, rather than accused
Tumambing, who raped her. The Court cannot thus accept DK’s testimony that she had been familiar with the looks
of the man who violated her and that she could not possibly be mistaken in identifying him as Tumambing.
Crispin Dizon, the executive officer of the same barangay, corroborated the barangay chairman’s testimony:
Q: So what was the question?
A: The question was that, "Is this the person you saw and who rape you?"
Court: Referring to?
Interpreter: Referring to Jenny Tumambing.
Q: What was the reply of the victim, if any?

A: She did not answer, Sir.
Q: What happen next when [DK] did not answer?
A: And [DK] was again asked by the Chairman and told her not to fear and tell who raped her and point to
him.
Q: What was the reply of [DK] if any?
A: She did not reply, Sir.
Q: Now if you remember how many times did the Chairman asked [DK]?
A: Four times, Sir.11
The RTC and the CA thought that DK was quite sure it was Tumambing who sexually attacked her. They pointed out
her insistence at the police precinct that it was Tumambing who really raped her and that she positively identified
him in open court. But this came about much later. The fact is that she did not refute the testimonies given by neutral
witnesses that she could not point to accused Tumambing as her rapist during their initial confrontation at the
barangay chairman’s residence. These witnesses had no motive or reason to fabricate a story for the defense.
By the nature of rape, the court has to, quite often, rely on the sole testimony of the victim. For this reason, the
court is always reminded to subject her testimony to a most rigid and careful scrutiny. It cannot afford to overlook
details that are essential to an understanding of the truth. 12 Here, as shown above, DK’s testimony is anything but
believable and consistent.
lawphi1

Although she categorically said on cross-examination that she saw her attacker enter the room, 13 she did not shout
or raise an alarming call. Nor did she try to escape.14 She just lay in bed.15 In fact, she maintained that position in bed
even when her attacker was standing before her and removing his clothes. 16 She did not shout nor struggle when he
penetrated her.17
There is one thing that DK appeared sure of. Her rapist wore a yellow shirt. 18 But this is inconsistent with her
testimony that after the stranger in her room was done raping her, "bigla na lang po siyang lumabas x x x sinundan
ko siya ng tingin."19 Since DK did not say that the man put his clothes back on, it seems a certainty that he collected
his clothes and carried this out when he left the room. Since DK then turned on the light for the first time, she had a
chance to see him clearly. But, if this were so and he walked out naked, why was she so certain that he wore a
yellow shirt?
With such serious doubts regarding the true identity of DK’s rapist, the Court cannot affirm the conviction of accused
Tumambing.
WHEREFORE, the Court SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals dated November 12, 2009 in CA-G.R.
CR-HC 02433 as well as the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 27, in Criminal Case 04-227897,
and ACQUITS the accused-appellant Jenny Tumambing y Tamayo of the crime charged on the ground of
reasonable doubt. The Court orders his immediate RELEASE from custody unless he is being held for some other
lawful cause.
The Court further ORDERS the Director of the Bureau of Corrections to implement this Decision forthwith and to
inform this Court, within five days from receipt hereof, of the date appellant was actually released from confinement.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 184170

February 2, 2011

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,
vs.
JERWIN QUINTAL y BEO, VICENTE BONGAT y TARIMAN, FELIPE QUINTAL y ABARQUEZ and LARRY PANTI
y JIMENEZ, Accused.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
VICENTE BONGAT y TARIMAN, Appellant.
DECISION
PEREZ, J.:
On appeal is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals dated 31 January 2008 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02610 affirming
the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Fifth Judicial Region, Branch 42, Virac, Catanduanes in Criminal
Case Nos. 3097, 3098, 3099 and 3100 finding appellant Vicente Bongat y Tariman (Vicente) guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of rape.
On 2 May 2001, appellant Vicente, together with 15-year old Jerwin Quintal y Beo (Jerwin), 16-year old Felipe
Quintal y Abarquez (Felipe) and Larry Panti y Jimenez (Larry) were charged in an Information for Rape allegedly
committed as follows:
That on or about August 29, 2002, at around 9:30 o’clock in the evening, in barangay [XXX], 3 municipality of Virac,
province of Catanduanes, Philippines, jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring,
confederating and mutually helping one another for a common purpose, with force and intimidation, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously lie and succeeded in having carnal knowledge of [AAA], 4 a minor 16 years
of age, against her will and without her consent.
That the crime of rape was committed with an aggravating circumstance of minority, the fact that [AAA] is a minor 16
years of age when she was raped by the herein-named four (4) accused. 5
Appellant Vicente, Jerwin and Felipe were arrested while Larry remained at large. Upon arraignment, the accused
pleaded not guilty. Trial then proceeded.
The alleged rape victim, AAA, her mother, BBB,6 the medico-legal officer, Dr. Elmer Tatad (Dr. Tatad), Barangay
Kagawad Fernando Tajan (Fernando) and Barangay Tanod Eddie Tajan (Eddie) testified for the prosecution.
AAA narrated that on 29 August 2002 at around 9:45 p.m., she attended a wake in Barangay YYY,7 Virac,
Catanduanes. Upon leaving the wake to go to her grandmother’s house in Barangay XXX, she noticed that Jerwin
was following her. AAA recognized Jerwin because they go to the same school. When she was about to enter the
house of her grandmother, Jerwin and Felipe, who were with a certain Maria, approached AAA and invited her to
attend a birthday party. AAA acceded and went with the trio towards Barangay ZZZ. 8 They went inside a dark nipa
hut near a rice field and AAA saw Vicente and Larry thereat. AAA was then made to sit on a bench by Felipe and the
four accused went to converse with each other outside the nipa hut. When the accused came back, they covered
her mouth with a handkerchief, and tied her hands and feet to the posts with a nylon string. The accused watched in
delight while each of them took turns in raping her. Jerwin ravished her twice while the rest of the accused raped her
once. After they finished with AAA, Jerwin untied her hands and feet. Vicente and Larry went home while Jerwin and
Felipe accompanied AAA to her grandmother’s house. 9
Two days later, AAA told BBB about the incident only after the latter noticed and asked her why she could not walk
properly. They went to Fernando, who is a Barangay Kagawad and later to Eddie, a Barangay Tanod to report the
incident. Fernando summoned the accused and they were made to sign a document containing their statement
regarding the incident.10
Eddie testified that on 1 September 2002, Jerwin’s parents came to him and expressed their intention for their son,
Jerwin to marry AAA. Appellant Vicente, Jerwin, Larry, Fernando, and BBB were also present at the meeting. Eddie
saw Fernando prepare a one and a half sheet of yellow paper containing the admissions made by the accused that
they raped AAA.11
BBB fetched Fernando and brought him to the house of Eddie to talk about a marriage proposal by Jerwin. BBB
asked Fernando to put into writing all the conversations that transpired inside the house. He did so while BBB was
dictating to him what to write. He stated that the accused admitted the crime. 12
AAA and BBB then proceeded to the police station to report the incident. On 2 September 2002, they went to the
medico-legal and AAA was examined by Dr. Tatad, who later issued a medico-legal certificate stating his findings as
follow:

Abrasion Labia Minora
Round the Clock.13
For its part, the defense presented the testimonies of Jerwin, Felipe, appellant Vicente, Maria Talan (Maria), Ricardo
Rin (Ricardo), and Federico Rey (Federico) to prove that there was no crime committed.
Jerwin, Felipe and Maria attended the wake of Federico’s nephew in Barangay YYY on 29 August 2002 at around
7:00 p.m. While they were playing cards, AAA approached their table and sat beside Jerwin. 14 Federico saw AAA
play with Jerwin’s group on the table.15 They stayed at the wake until 11:00 p.m. As Maria’s group was about to
leave, AAA asked Jerwin if she could go with him. Jerwin then introduced AAA to Maria as his girlfriend. While on
their way home, Jerwin and AAA were trailing behind Maria and Felipe. At that juncture, both Maria and Felipe saw
Jerwin place his arm around the shoulders of AAA, while AAA’s arm was wrapped around the waist of Jerwin.
Thereafter, AAA invited Maria to go to the dance with her and Jerwin in another barangay. Maria turned down the
invitation and went home. While Felipe was about to enter his house, Jerwin called him and asked if he likes to go to
the dance, but Felipe declined because he needed to drive his pedicab on the following morning. 16
Jerwin claimed that AAA was his girlfriend; that they had been together since 31 December 2001; and that they had
sexual intercourse for three (3) or four (4) times to date. He admitted that coming from the dance, it was around 1
a.m. when they proceeded to a nipa hut in Barangay ZZZ where they had sexual intercourse. Thereafter, they went
to sleep. When Jerwin woke up the following morning, AAA had already left. 17
On 30 August 2002, Jerwin saw AAA crying at the house of Maria. AAA told her that she was scolded by her mother
and grandmother when she arrived home in the morning. Jerwin suggested that he would talk to BBB and let her
know that he wants to marry AAA.18
Ricardo, who lives just a few meters away from the nipa hut where the alleged rape was committed, stated that he
did not notice any untoward incident that transpired in the nipa hut. He however admitted that he went to sleep at
around 10:30 p.m.19
Jerwin and Felipe went to the house of Eddie on 1 September 2002 when they were summoned by the latter. Felipe
saw the mother of Jerwin and AAA talking about marriage, but BBB did not consent to the wedding. His co-accused
were also present at Eddie’s house. Felipe denied raping AAA when he was asked. Jerwin also denied raping AAA
and replied that AAA was his girlfriend.20 After a while, they all went home. In 2004, Jerwin and Felipe were arrested
for the crime of rape.21 While Jerwin was detained, AAA visited her several times.
Appellant Vicente came to know AAA when she was introduced to him by Jerwin as his girlfriend sometime in
January 2002. On 29 August 2002, appellant was harvesting rice at the back of Catanduanes National High School
from 7:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. He got home at 4:50 p.m. and slept at 8:00 p.m. He woke up the following day at 6:30
a.m. On 30 August 2002, he was summoned to go to the house of Eddie. Upon reaching the house, he saw the
parents of Jerwin and AAA conversing about the wedding of Jerwin and AAA. He was asked by Fernando if she
raped AAA, but Vicente answered in the negative. He was made to sign his name on a blank sheet of yellow paper
by Fernando.22 While in detention, Vicente saw AAA visiting the jail house once.23
The defense also presented the entries in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) logbook, certified
by Jail Officer Bernardo Azansa to show that AAA visited Jerwin six (6) times in jail. 24
On 16 November 2006, the RTC rendered judgment finding appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
rape. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds VICENTE T. BONGAT, JERWIN B. QUINTAL AND FELIPE A. QUINTAL guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of RAPE in Criminal Case Nos. 3097, 3098, 3099, 3100 and hereby
sentences them as follows:
1) Vicente T. Bongat is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each crime.
2) Appreciating the mitigating circumstance of minority, Jerwin B. Quintal is sentenced to suffer the penalty
of 12 years of prision mayor, as minimum, to 14 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal, as
maximum, for each crime.
3) Appreciating the mitigating circumstance of minority, Felipe A. Quintal is sentenced to suffer the penalty of
12 years of prision mayor, as minimum, to 14 years, 4 months and 1 day of reclusion temporal, as
maximum, for each crime.
Vicente T. Bongat, Jerwin B. Quintal and Felipe A. Quintal are ordered to individually pay the private complainant
[AAA] the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages for each crime.

Pursuant to R.A. No. 9344, the judgment of conviction against Jerwin Quintal and Felipe Quintal is suspended. The
parents or guardians of Jerwin Quintal and Felipe Quintal; the Social Worker of this Court, Nonita Manlangit; the
Municipal Social Welfare Officer of Virac, Catanduanes Josefina T. Ramirez, the Provincial Social Welfare Officer of
Catanduanes Priscilla T. Navar, the Director of Region V of the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) or his duly authorized representative; and the Head of the Social Services and Counseling Division of
DSWD or his duly authorized representative are enjoined to attend the disposition conference on November 28,
2006 at 1:30 o’clock in the afternoon.25
Jerwin and Felipe were both confined at the Home for Boys in Naga City for rehabilitation pursuant to the ruling of
the RTC.
The RTC found AAA’s testimony as credible and rejected the "sweetheart theory" and alibi of the defense. On
appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC decision.
Appellant filed a notice of appeal. On 29 September 2008, this Court required the parties to simultaneously submit
their respective supplemental briefs. Appellant manifested that he would merely adopt their appellant's brief before
the Court of Appeals.26 The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Manifestation stating that it would no longer
file any supplemental briefs and instead adopt its appellee's brief filed on 31 August 2007. 27
On 27 November 2009, the RTC ordered the dismissal of the cases against Jerwin and Felipe. The dispositive
portion reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing and upon the recommendation of the DSWD, the cases against JICL Jerwin
B. Quintal and JICL Felipe A. Quintal, whose sentence have been suspended, are hereby DISMISSED.
Finding that the objective of the disposition measures has been fulfilled, the Court orders the final discharge of the
said JICL. Let a copy of this Order be furnished the Regional Office of the Department of Social Welfare and
Development, Baraguis, Legaspi City and Office of the Regional Director of the Department of Social Welfare and
Development, Home for Boys, Naga City, for them to cause the discharge of JICL Jerwin B. Quintal and JICL Felipe
A. Quintal and their return to their respective families.
The Municipal Social Welfare Officer of Virac, Catanduanes is ordered to submit a periodic report on both JICL
within one (1) year after their discharge.28
In the main, appellant assails the credibility of AAA’s testimony. He insists that it was impossible for AAA to have
clearly and positively identified him as one of the perpetrators considering that AAA claimed that it was very dark
inside the nipa hut where she was supposedly raped. Appellant assails the testimony of AAA that she went with
Jerwin to a place unknown to her, despite not personally knowing him. Appellant claims this incredibility in her
testimony created serious doubt as to the reliability of her allegations. Appellant argues that contrary to AAA’s
allegations, there was no clear intent on her part to resist the alleged sexual acts. AAA failed to shout for help.
Neither did she present any proof of body injuries to clearly prove that she resisted the alleged rape. Moreover, AAA
told her mother about the incident only because the latter noticed her to have been walking in an unusual manner.
Appellant asserts that he should have been convicted only of simple seduction as conspiracy was not proven
among the accused.29
The OSG maintains that AAA positively identified appellant as one of the four rapists. It counters that the visibility
inside the nipa hut was not that poor as to render AAA incapable of seeing her rapists’ faces. AAA had a good view
of appellant’s face because the moonlight illuminated the surroundings. It contends that there is nothing unusual
when AAA voluntarily went with Jerwin and Felipe before she was raped. According to the OSG, AAA had a false
sense of security because the two accused were minors like her and were even accompanied by another girl. The
OSG avers that force and intimidation were employed against AAA because her hands and feet were tied to the nipa
hut’s posts during her ordeal. There is likewise no basis for the claim that AAA did not immediately report the
incident. When AAA saw her mother, she informed her at the earliest possible opportunity. Finally, the OSG asserts
that there is conspiracy among the accused in committing rape considering their actions before, during and after
raping AAA.
The gravamen of the offense of rape is sexual intercourse with a woman against her will or without her
consent.30Hence, the elements necessary to sustain a conviction in the crime of rape are: (1) that the accused had
carnal knowledge of the victim; and (2) that said act was accomplished (a) through the use of force or intimidation,
or (b) when the victim is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or (c) when the victim is under 12 years of
age or is demented.31
The prosecution, with whom the burden of proof rests, seeks to establish these elements through the testimonies of
its witnesses, particularly that of the victim’s.
There is a plethora of cases which tend to disfavor the accused in a rape case by holding that when a woman
declares that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has been committed and

where her testimony passes the test of credibility the accused can be convicted on the basis thereof. 32 A dangerous
precedent as it may seem, there is however a guideline provided also by jurisprudence in scrutinizing the testimony
of the victim, namely: (a) while an accusation for rape can be made with facility, it is difficult to prove but more
difficult for the person accused, though innocent, to disprove; (b) in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape
where only two persons are usually involved, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme
caution; and (c) the evidence for the prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to draw
strength from the weakness of the evidence of the defense.33
Guided by these principles and upon a careful scrutiny of the records of this case, this Court is not convinced
beyond reasonable doubt that appellant, as well as the other accused, committed the crime of rape against AAA.
The credibility of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, as well as the inconclusive medical finding, tends to
create doubt if AAA was indeed raped. The RTC and the Court of Appeals relied largely on the testimony of AAA that
she was raped. This Court is well aware of the rule that findings of trial court relative to the credibility of the rape
victim are normally respected and not disturbed on appeal, more so, if they are affirmed by the appellate court. It is
only in exceptional circumstances that this rule is brushed aside, such as when the court’s evaluation was reached
arbitrarily, or when the trial court overlooked, misunderstood or misapplied certain facts or circumstances of weight
and substance which could affect the result of the case. 34 And one of these exceptions obtains in this case.
This Court cannot disregard this nagging doubt with respect to the credibility of AAA’s testimony, the inconsistencies
in the testimonies of the barangay tanod and barangay kagawad, the purported confession put into writing and
signed by all the accused; and the subsequent incidents relating to the case.
First, AAA testified that she does not personally know Jerwin and Felipe. However, when the two allegedly invited
her to go with them to a party, she readily accepted the invitation and in fact, went with them. Moreover, AAA was
seen playing cards with Jerwin and his group in the wake, as testified by Maria, Felipe, Jerwin and Federico.
Second, AAA recounted that the nipa hut where she was brought by the accused was very dark. And yet, AAA
readily identified Vicente and Larry inside the hut, as two of those who raped her. Incidentally, it was unclear how
AAA was able to identify Vicente and Larry because she was never asked, not by the prosecution nor the defense,
on how she came to know the two accused.
Third, the medical certificate only contained one finding, that there was a "round-the-clock abrasion in the labia
minora." This is not at all conclusive nor corroborative to support the charge of rape. At most, this indicates that AAA
had sexual intercourse. We find the medical finding lacking in relation to the testimony of AAA on how she was
ravished by four men. Although a medical examination is not an indispensable element in a prosecution of rape, it
could have corroborated an otherwise vague and dubious testimony of the victim. In fact, Dr. Tatad admitted that he
only examined AAA’s private parts based on her statement that she was raped, thus:
Q: Do you remember Doctor, the date when the examination was conducted?
A: 9/2/02, sir.
Q: That was on September 2, 2002?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Now, when the person of [AAA] came to you, what did you do?
A: She consulted me and told me that she was raped, sir.
Q: And after informing that she was raped, what did you do?
A: I told her to lie down as if she was to deliver a child and I examined the vagina. There was abrasion in the
labia minora round the clock, sir.
Q: How about laceration?
A: There was an abrasion, sir.
Q: What might have caused that abrasion round the clock?
A: It could be that something was inserted, sir.
Q: What kind of object might have been inserted?
A: According to the patient, penis was inserted in her vagina.

Q: Did she tell you as to the number of penis which were inserted in her vagina?
A: According to the patient the penis inserted to her was pushed and pulled, sir.35
Furthermore, in her sworn statement before the police, AAA related that her mouth was injured. 36 She also testified
in court that her hands and feet were tied to a post by a nylon string. 37 Naturally, AAA would have sustained injuries
in her hands and feet. But all these injuries were never examined by the medico-legal officer nor did AAA allege the
existence of those injuries.
Fourth, AAA’s belated reporting of the rape incident has relevance in this case, especially when it appears that she
really had no intention at all to inform her mother, not until the latter actually asked her why she was walking in an
unusual manner. AAA stated:
Q: You said a while ago that your mother discovered your unusual movement in the morning of the following
day of August 29, 2002, is that correct?
A: It was after two days when my mother noticed my unusual movement during the birthday of my brother,
sir.
Q: Did you not go out of the house of your grandmother on August 30, 2002?
A: No, sir.
Q: When your mother noticed your movement, what did she do?
A: She asked me, sir.
Q: After she asked you, what did she do?
A: She asked me why I was walking that way and I told her that I was raped, sir.38
Fifth, BBB allegedly went to the Barangay Kagawad and the Tanod, who happens to be her cousin, to report the
rape incidents. However, when Fernando and Eddie testified, they claimed that they were initially informed by BBB
about a marriage proposal by Jerwin’s parents. It was only during the meeting that they learned about the alleged
rape.
Sixth, to fuel further suspicion as to whether a rape incident actually transpired, BBB never bothered to ask AAA
about the whole incident.39 She accepted AAA’s testimony hook, line and sinker. In the same breadth, it can be
recalled that Eddie, the Barangay Tanod, testified that BBB dictated to him what was written in the yellow paper
which contained the supposed admissions of rape by the accused. Eddie did not appear to have asked or
interrogated the accused about the incident. Likewise, Dr. Tatad merely examined AAA’s private parts on the basis of
her claim that she was raped.
Seventh, in an unusual twist, records show that AAA was seen visiting Jerwin in jail for at least six (6) times. These
incidents are documented in a logbook presented in court by the defense and which was not refuted by the
prosecution.
The combination of all these circumstances are more than sufficient to create a reasonable doubt as to whether first,
rape was actually committed and second, whether the accused were the perpetrators.
It is thus unnecessary to belabor the issues raised by the defense for it must be reiterated that conviction always
rests on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and not on the weakness of the defense.
For the reasons cited above, we are constrained to entertain reasonable doubt. Hence, we acquit.
WHEREFORE, appellant Vicente Bongat y TARIMAN is ACQUITTED based on reasonable doubt. He is ordered
RELEASED unless he is being detained for some other lawful cause.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-43602 January 31, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ANTONIO PAILANO, accused-appellant.
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Raul T. Montesino for accused-appellant.

CRUZ, J.:
At the time the rape was allegedly committed by the accused-appellant, he was already sixty-nine years old. 1 The
prosecution will have to contend not only with the presumption of innocence but also of impotence.
The crime was allegedly perpetrated in October of 1971 in Barrio Sampinit, Baybay in the City of Bago. 2 It was
reported to the authorities on December 24, 1971, 3 and the corresponding criminal complaint was filed on July 10,
1972. 4Judgment was rendered on January 30, 1976, sentencing the accused-appellant to reclusion perpetua plus civil
indemnity of P2,000 and the costs. 5 He now wants this decision reversed.
The complainant is Anita Ibañez, who was fifteen years old at the time of the alleged offense. She says that on the
day in question, she was dragged by the accused-appellant to a bushy place on the seashore where she was
waiting for her mother. She could not resist because he was threatening her with a scythe he was carrying. In the
bushes, be pointed the scythe at her neck and then forcibly took her. She could not cry out because she was afraid.
She did not report the matter to her mother because the accused-appellant bad warned her he would kill her if she
did. 6
The accused-appellant has a different version. He does not deny he had sexual intercourse with Anita, but he insists
it was voluntary. As a matter of fact, he says, it was the complainant who enticed him into the bushes, where she
wantonly opened herself to him. He was unable at first to have an erection because of his age. But Anita herself
rubbed his organ in hers until, thus stimulated, he succeeded in penetrating her. Afterwards, noticing some people
nearby who might have seen them, the girl put back her panty on and left. He followed a few minutes later. 7
As the medical examination of the complainant was made more than two months afterwards, there naturally could
not be any finding of the bruises, cuts and scratches that usually attend forcible rape. But there was the tell-tale
hymeneal laceration in the complainant that even the accused-appellant could not dispute. 8
Given the choice between the separate accounts of the complainant and the accused-appellant, the court inclines in
favor of the latter. It is in our view more believable. Anita never spoke of any difficulty on the part of Pailano in
violating her. She simply said he removed her panty and entered her. No effort was mentioned; it seemed she was
talking of a vigorous stud. Yet, the accused-appellant was not a teenager or even only in the prime of his life at the
time of their sexual encounter. He was all of sixty-nine years old.
Considering his age and the emotional pressures of the moment, we doubt if Pailano could have accomplished the
rape as easily as Anita narrated it. The prosecution has not offered any proof of his sexual prowess, and under
stress at that. By contrast, the accused-appellant did not hesitate to testify, at the risk of his manly pride, that he did
not easily have an erection during the tryst with Anita and that it took some fondling from her before his organ could
respond. This was a hard and humiliating fact but it had to be admitted.
We are disposed to believe the testimony of Leonardo Filomeno that he saw Pailano and Anita coupling on the day
in question, 9 but not on the other previous occasions claimed by him. His presence in all of these meetings seems too
much of a coincidence to be credible. However, Pailano is also corroborated by Natividad Madrigal, who declared she saw
Anita and Pailano caressing each other, with the girl in fact assuming the more aggressive role. 10 There is no reason not
to believe this witness.
Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code provides that rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman
under any of the following circumstances:
1. By using force or intimidation;
2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and
3. When the woman is under twelve years of age, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in the two
next preceding paragraphs shall be present.

The criminal complaint in this case alleged the commission of the crime through the first method although the
prosecution sought to establish at the trial that the complainant was a mental retardate. Its purpose in doing so is
not clear. But whatever it was, it has not succeeded.
If the prosecution was seeking to convict the accused-appellant on the ground that he violated Anita while she was
deprived of reason or unconscious, such conviction could not have been possible under the criminal complaint as
worded. This described the offense as having been committed by "Antonio Pailano, being then provided with a
scythe, by means of violence and intimidation, (who) did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have
carnal knowledge of the complainant, Anita Ibañez, 15 years of age, against her will." No mention was made of the
second circumstance.
Conviction of the accused-appellant on the finding that he had raped Anita while she was unconscious or otherwise
deprived of reason and not through force and intimidation, which was the method alleged would have violated his
right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. 11 This right is safeguarded by the
Constitution to every accused so he can prepare an adequate defense against the charge against him. Convicting him of
a ground not alleged while he is concentrating his defense against the ground alleged would plainly be unfair and
underhanded. This right was, of course, available to the herein accused-appellant.
In People v. Ramirez, 12 we held that a person charged with rape could not be found guilty of qualified seduction, which
had not been alleged in the criminal complaint against him. In the case of People v. Montes, 13 the Court did not permit the
conviction for homicide of a person held responsible for the suicide of the woman he was supposed to have raped, as the
crime he was accused of and acquitted was not homicide but rape. More to the point is Tubb v. People of the
Philippines, 14where the accused was charged with the misappropriation of funds held by him in trust with the obligation to
return the same under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, but was convicted of swindling by means of
false pretenses, under paragraph 2(b) of the said Article, which was not alleged in the information. The Court said such
conviction would violate the Bill of Rights.
It may be argued that although initially deficient, the criminal complaint was deemed corrected when the prosecution
introduced evidence of the complainant's mental condition and the defense did not object, thereby waiving the
procedural defect. Even so, the charge has not been adequately establish established.
In the first place, the doctor who examined Anita reported that he saw no evidence of insanity in her family history
nor was there any indication of such condition in the complainant herself. 15 He did observe that she had the mentality
of a thirteen-year old, 16 which was not that serious an impediment as her age at the time was only fifteen.
Secondly, and more importantly, the prosecution has not proved that during that encounter in the bushes, Anita's
mental condition was so weakened that she could not resist Pailano's supposed advances.
The statutory presumption of sanity 17 and the constitutional presumption of innocence 18 have not been overcome.
There is evidence that Filomeno reported the incident in the bushes on the same day to Anita's mother, 19 but she took no
action whatsoever, for reasons not disclosed. It was only two-and-a-half months later that she decided to complain to the
authorities, but then it was already suspiciously late. The only possible explanation for her delay is that the liaison
between her daughter and Pailano had already become a scandal by that time and she must have thought she could
redeem Anita's honor by initiating the criminal complaint. The delay, however, blunts the charge of rape.
What we see here is an aging Lothario having his last lustful fling and a young girl with a rather weak mind and a
ripe body offering him a flaccid return to his youth. We do not mean to romanticize this sordid affair. It is wrong and
is not here excused, made light of, or dismissed. It is disdained for what it is an unseemly seduction where it is not
clear who the tempter and the tempted are although neither can really claim to be blameless. But, in our view, it is
definitely not rape.
WHEREFORE, the appealed conviction is REVERSED and the accused-appellant is ACQUITTED on reasonable
doubt. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 172953

April 30, 2008

JUNIE MALILLIN Y. LOPEZ, petitioner,
vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

DECISION
TINGA, J.:
The presumption of regularity in the performance of official functions cannot by its lonesome overcome the
constitutional presumption of innocence. Evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt and nothing else can eclipse
the hypothesis of guiltlessness. And this burden is met not by bestowing distrust on the innocence of the accused
but by obliterating all doubts as to his culpability.
In this Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, Junie Malillin y Lopez (petitioner) assails the
Decision2 of the Court of Appeals dated 27 January 2006 as well as its Resolution3 dated 30 May 2006 denying his
motion for reconsideration. The challenged decision has affirmed the Decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Sorsogon City, Branch 525 which found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of
methamphetamine hydrochloride, locally known as shabu, a prohibited drug.
The antecedent facts follow.
On the strength of a warrant6 of search and seizure issued by the RTC of Sorsogon City, Branch 52, a team of five
police officers raided the residence of petitioner in Barangay Tugos, Sorsogon City on 4 February 2003. The team
was headed by P/Insp. Catalino Bolanos (Bolanos), with PO3 Roberto Esternon (Esternon), SPO1 Pedro Docot,
SPO1 Danilo Lasala and SPO2 Romeo Gallinera (Gallinera) as members. The search—conducted in the presence
of barangay kagawad Delfin Licup as well as petitioner himself, his wife Sheila and his mother, Norma—allegedly
yielded two (2) plastic sachets of shabu and five (5) empty plastic sachets containing residual morsels of the said
substance.
Accordingly, petitioner was charged with violation of Section 11,7 Article II of Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise
known as The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in a criminal information whose inculpatory portion
reads:
That on or about the 4th day of February 2003, at about 8:45 in the morning in Barangay Tugos, Sorsogon
City, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession, custody and control two (2) plastic sachets of methamphetamine hydrochloride [or] "shabu" with
an aggregate weight of 0.0743 gram, and four empty sachets containing "shabu" residue, without having
been previously authorized by law to possess the same.
CONTRARY TO LAW.8
Petitioner entered a negative plea.9 At the ensuing trial, the prosecution presented Bolanos, Arroyo and Esternon as
witnesses.
Taking the witness stand, Bolanos, the leader of the raiding team, testified on the circumstances surrounding the
search as follows: that he and his men were allowed entry into the house by petitioner after the latter was shown the
search warrant; that upon entering the premises, he ordered Esternon and barangay kagawad Licup, whose
assistance had previously been requested in executing the warrant, to conduct the search; that the rest of the police
team positioned themselves outside the house to make sure that nobody flees; that he was observing the conduct of
the search from about a meter away; that the search conducted inside the bedroom of petitioner yielded five empty
plastic sachets with suspected shabu residue contained in a denim bag and kept in one of the cabinets, and two
plastic sachets containing shabu which fell off from one of the pillows searched by Esternon—a discovery that was
made in the presence of petitioner.10 On cross examination, Bolanos admitted that during the search, he was
explaining its progress to petitioner's mother, Norma, but that at the same time his eyes were fixed on the search
being conducted by Esternon.11
Esternon testified that the denim bag containing the empty plastic sachets was found "behind" the door of the
bedroom and not inside the cabinet; that he then found the two filled sachets under a pillow on the bed and forthwith
called on Gallinera to have the items recorded and marked.12 On cross, he admitted that it was he alone who
conducted the search because Bolanos was standing behind him in the living room portion of the house and that
petitioner handed to him the things to be searched, which included the pillow in which the two sachets of shabuwere
kept;13 that he brought the seized items to the Balogo Police Station for a "true inventory," then to the trial court 14 and
thereafter to the laboratory.15
Supt. Lorlie Arroyo (Arroyo), the forensic chemist who administered the examination on the seized items, was
presented as an expert witness to identify the items submitted to the laboratory. She revealed that the two filled
sachets were positive of shabu and that of the five empty sachets, four were positive of containing residue of the
same substance.16 She further admitted that all seven sachets were delivered to the laboratory by Esternon in the
afternoon of the same day that the warrant was executed except that it was not she but rather a certain Mrs. Ofelia
Garcia who received the items from Esternon at the laboratory.17

The evidence for the defense focused on the irregularity of the search and seizure conducted by the police
operatives. Petitioner testified that Esternon began the search of the bedroom with Licup and petitioner himself
inside. However, it was momentarily interrupted when one of the police officers declared to Bolanos that petitioner's
wife, Sheila, was tucking something inside her underwear. Forthwith, a lady officer arrived to conduct the search of
Sheila's body inside the same bedroom. At that point, everyone except Esternon was asked to step out of the room.
So, it was in his presence that Sheila was searched by the lady officer. Petitioner was then asked by a police officer
to buy cigarettes at a nearby store and when he returned from the errand, he was told that nothing was found on
Sheila's body.18 Sheila was ordered to transfer to the other bedroom together with her children. 19
Petitioner asserted that on his return from the errand, he was summoned by Esternon to the bedroom and once
inside, the officer closed the door and asked him to lift the mattress on the bed. And as he was doing as told,
Esternon stopped him and ordered him to lift the portion of the headboard. In that instant, Esternon showed him
"sachet of shabu" which according to him came from a pillow on the bed. 20 Petitioner's account in its entirety was
corroborated in its material respects by Norma, barangay kagawad Licup and Sheila in their testimonies. Norma and
Sheila positively declared that petitioner was not in the house for the entire duration of the search because at one
point he was sent by Esternon to the store to buy cigarettes while Sheila was being searched by the lady
officer.21Licup for his part testified on the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the plastic sachets. He
recounted that after the five empty sachets were found, he went out of the bedroom and into the living room and
after about three minutes, Esternon, who was left inside the bedroom, exclaimed that he had just found two filled
sachets.22
On 20 June 2004 the trial court rendered its Decision declaring petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
offense charged. Petitioner was condemned to prison for twelve years (12) and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and
to pay a fine of P300,000.00.23 The trial court reasoned that the fact that shabu was found in the house of petitioner
was prima facie evidence of petitioner's animus possidendi sufficient to convict him of the charge inasmuch as
things which a person possesses or over which he exercises acts of ownership are presumptively owned by him. It
also noted petitioner's failure to ascribe ill motives to the police officers to fabricate charges against him. 24
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal.25 In his Appeal Brief26 filed with the Court of Appeals, petitioner called
the attention of the court to certain irregularities in the manner by which the search of his house was conducted. For
its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) advanced that on the contrary, the prosecution evidence sufficed
for petitioner's conviction and that the defense never advanced any proof to show that the members of the raiding
team was improperly motivated to hurl false charges against him and hence the presumption that they had regularly
performed their duties should prevail.27
On 27 January 2006, the Court of Appeals rendered the assailed decision affirming the judgment of the trial court
but modifying the prison sentence to an indeterminate term of twelve (12) years as minimum to seventeen (17)
years as maximum.28 Petitioner moved for reconsideration but the same was denied by the appellate court. 29Hence,
the instant petition which raises substantially the same issues.
In its Comment,30 the OSG bids to establish that the raiding team had regularly performed its duties in the conduct of
the search.31 It points to petitioner's incredulous claim that he was framed up by Esternon on the ground that the
discovery of the two filled sachets was made in his and Licup's presence. It likewise notes that petitioner's bare
denial cannot defeat the positive assertions of the prosecution and that the same does not suffice to overcome
theprima facie existence of animus possidendi.
This argument, however, hardly holds up to what is revealed by the records.
Prefatorily, although the trial court's findings of fact are entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on appeal,
this rule does not apply where facts of weight and substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misapplied
in a case under appeal.32 In the case at bar, several circumstances obtain which, if properly appreciated, would
warrant a conclusion different from that arrived at by the trial court and the Court of Appeals.
Prosecutions for illegal possession of prohibited drugs necessitates that the elemental act of possession of a
prohibited substance be established with moral certainty, together with the fact that the same is not authorized by
law. The dangerous drug itself constitutes the very corpus delicti of the offense and the fact of its existence is vital to
a judgment of conviction.33 Essential therefore in these cases is that the identity of the prohibited drug be established
beyond doubt.34 Be that as it may, the mere fact of unauthorized possession will not suffice to create in a reasonable
mind the moral certainty required to sustain a finding of guilt. More than just the fact of possession, the fact that the
substance illegally possessed in the first place is the same substance offered in court as exhibit must also be
established with the same unwavering exactitude as that requisite to make a finding of guilt. The chain of custody
requirement performs this function in that it ensures that unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence
are removed.35
As a method of authenticating evidence, the chain of custody rule requires that the admission of an exhibit be
preceded by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what the proponent claims it to
be.36 It would include testimony about every link in the chain, from the moment the item was picked up to the time it

is offered into evidence, in such a way that every person who touched the exhibit would describe how and from
whom it was received, where it was and what happened to it while in the witness' possession, the condition in which
it was received and the condition in which it was delivered to the next link in the chain. These witnesses would then
describe the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the item and no
opportunity for someone not in the chain to have possession of the same. 37
While testimony about a perfect chain is not always the standard because it is almost always impossible to obtain,
an unbroken chain of custody becomes indispensable and essential when the item of real evidence is not distinctive
and is not readily identifiable, or when its condition at the time of testing or trial is critical, or when a witness has
failed to observe its uniqueness.38 The same standard likewise obtains in case the evidence is susceptible to
alteration, tampering, contamination39 and even substitution and exchange.40 In other words, the exhibit's level of
susceptibility to fungibility, alteration or tampering—without regard to whether the same is advertent or otherwise not
—dictates the level of strictness in the application of the chain of custody rule.
Indeed, the likelihood of tampering, loss or mistake with respect to an exhibit is greatest when the exhibit is small
and is one that has physical characteristics fungible in nature and similar in form to substances familiar to people in
their daily lives.41 Graham vs. State42 positively acknowledged this danger. In that case where a substance later
analyzed as heroin—was handled by two police officers prior to examination who however did not testify in court on
the condition and whereabouts of the exhibit at the time it was in their possession—was excluded from the
prosecution evidence, the court pointing out that the white powder seized could have been indeed heroin or it could
have been sugar or baking powder. It ruled that unless the state can show by records or testimony, the continuous
whereabouts of the exhibit at least between the time it came into the possession of police officers until it was tested
in the laboratory to determine its composition, testimony of the state as to the laboratory's findings is inadmissible. 43
A unique characteristic of narcotic substances is that they are not readily identifiable as in fact they are subject to
scientific analysis to determine their composition and nature. The Court cannot reluctantly close its eyes to the
likelihood, or at least the possibility, that at any of the links in the chain of custody over the same there could have
been tampering, alteration or substitution of substances from other cases—by accident or otherwise—in which
similar evidence was seized or in which similar evidence was submitted for laboratory testing. Hence, in
authenticating the same, a standard more stringent than that applied to cases involving objects which are readily
identifiable must be applied, a more exacting standard that entails a chain of custody of the item with sufficient
completeness if only to render it improbable that the original item has either been exchanged with another or been
contaminated or tampered with.
A mere fleeting glance at the records readily raises significant doubts as to the identity of the sachets
of shabuallegedly seized from petitioner. Of the people who came into direct contact with the seized objects, only
Esternon and Arroyo testified for the specific purpose of establishing the identity of the evidence. Gallinera, to whom
Esternon supposedly handed over the confiscated sachets for recording and marking, as well as Garcia, the person
to whom Esternon directly handed over the seized items for chemical analysis at the crime laboratory, were not
presented in court to establish the circumstances under which they handled the subject items. Any reasonable mind
might then ask the question: Are the sachets of shabu allegedly seized from petitioner the very same objects
laboratory tested and offered in court as evidence?
The prosecution's evidence is incomplete to provide an affirmative answer. Considering that it was Gallinera who
recorded and marked the seized items, his testimony in court is crucial to affirm whether the exhibits were the same
items handed over to him by Esternon at the place of seizure and acknowledge the initials marked thereon as his
own. The same is true of Garcia who could have, but nevertheless failed, to testify on the circumstances under
which she received the items from Esternon, what she did with them during the time they were in her possession
until before she delivered the same to Arroyo for analysis.
The prosecution was thus unsuccessful in discharging its burden of establishing the identity of the seized items
because it failed to offer not only the testimony of Gallinera and Garcia but also any sufficient explanation for such
failure. In effect, there is no reasonable guaranty as to the integrity of the exhibits inasmuch as it failed to rule out
the possibility of substitution of the exhibits, which cannot but inure to its own detriment. This holds true not only with
respect to the two filled sachets but also to the five sachets allegedly containing morsels of shabu.
Also, contrary to what has been consistently claimed by the prosecution that the search and seizure was conducted
in a regular manner and must be presumed to be so, the records disclose a series of irregularities committed by the
police officers from the commencement of the search of petitioner's house until the submission of the seized items
to the laboratory for analysis. The Court takes note of the unrebutted testimony of petitioner, corroborated by that of
his wife, that prior to the discovery of the two filled sachets petitioner was sent out of his house to buy cigarettes at a
nearby store. Equally telling is the testimony of Bolanos that he posted some of the members of the raiding team at
the door of petitioner's house in order to forestall the likelihood of petitioner fleeing the scene. By no stretch of logic
can it be conclusively explained why petitioner was sent out of his house on an errand when in the first place the
police officers were in fact apprehensive that he would flee to evade arrest. This fact assumes prime importance
because the two filled sachets were allegedly discovered by Esternon immediately after petitioner returned to his

house from the errand, such that he was not able to witness the conduct of the search during the brief but crucial
interlude that he was away.
It is also strange that, as claimed by Esternon, it was petitioner himself who handed to him the items to be searched
including the pillow from which the two filled sachets allegedly fell. Indeed, it is contrary to ordinary human behavior
that petitioner would hand over the said pillow to Esternon knowing fully well that illegal drugs are concealed therein.
In the same breath, the manner by which the search of Sheila's body was brought up by a member of the raiding
team also raises serious doubts as to the necessity thereof. The declaration of one of the police officers that he saw
Sheila tuck something in her underwear certainly diverted the attention of the members of petitioner's household
away from the search being conducted by Esternon prior to the discovery of the two filled sachets. Lest it be
omitted, the Court likewise takes note of Esternon's suspicious presence in the bedroom while Sheila was being
searched by a lady officer. The confluence of these circumstances by any objective standard of behavior contradicts
the prosecution's claim of regularity in the exercise of duty.
Moreover, Section 2144 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9165 clearly outlines the post-seizure
procedure in taking custody of seized drugs. In a language too plain to require a different construction, it mandates
that the officer acquiring initial custody of drugs under a search warrant must conduct the photographing and the
physical inventory of the item at the place where the warrant has been served. Esternon deviated from this
procedure. It was elicited from him that at the close of the search of petitioner's house, he brought the seized items
immediately to the police station for the alleged purpose of making a "true inventory" thereof, but there appears to
be no reason why a true inventory could not be made in petitioner's house when in fact the apprehending team was
able to record and mark the seized items and there and then prepare a seizure receipt therefor. Lest it be forgotten,
the raiding team has had enough opportunity to cause the issuance of the warrant which means that it has had as
much time to prepare for its implementation. While the final proviso in Section 21 of the rules would appear to
excuse non-compliance therewith, the same cannot benefit the prosecution as it failed to offer any acceptable
justification for Esternon's course of action.
Likewise, Esternon's failure to deliver the seized items to the court demonstrates a departure from the directive in
the search warrant that the items seized be immediately delivered to the trial court with a true and verified inventory
of the same,45 as required by Rule 126, Section 1246 of the Rules of Court. People v. Go47 characterized this
requirement as mandatory in order to preclude the substitution of or tampering with said items by interested
parties.48 Thus, as a reasonable safeguard, People vs. Del Castillo49 declared that the approval by the court which
issued the search warrant is necessary before police officers can retain the property seized and without it, they
would have no authority to retain possession thereof and more so to deliver the same to another agency.50 Mere
tolerance by the trial court of a contrary practice does not make the practice right because it is violative of the
mandatory requirements of the law and it thereby defeats the very purpose for the enactment. 51
Given the foregoing deviations of police officer Esternon from the standard and normal procedure in the
implementation of the warrant and in taking post-seizure custody of the evidence, the blind reliance by the trial court
and the Court of Appeals on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is manifestly misplaced. The
presumption of regularity is merely just that—a mere presumption disputable by contrary proof and which when
challenged by the evidence cannot be regarded as binding truth.52 Suffice it to say that this presumption cannot
preponderate over the presumption of innocence that prevails if not overthrown by proof beyond reasonable
doubt.53 In the present case the lack of conclusive identification of the illegal drugs allegedly seized from petitioner,
coupled with the irregularity in the manner by which the same were placed under police custody before offered in
court, strongly militates a finding of guilt.
In our constitutional system, basic and elementary is the presupposition that the burden of proving the guilt of an
accused lies on the prosecution which must rely on the strength of its own evidence and not on the weakness of the
defense. The rule is invariable whatever may be the reputation of the accused, for the law presumes his innocence
unless and until the contrary is shown.54 In dubio pro reo. When moral certainty as to culpability hangs in the
balance, acquittal on reasonable doubt inevitably becomes a matter of right.
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 27 January 2006 affirming with modification the
judgment of conviction of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon City, Branch 52, and its Resolution dated 30 May
2006 denying reconsideration thereof, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Junie Malillin y Lopez
isACQUITTED on reasonable doubt and is accordingly ordered immediately released from custody unless he is
being lawfully held for another offense.
The Director of the Bureau of Corrections is directed to implement this Decision and to report to this Court the action
taken hereon within five (5) days from receipt.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC
G.R. No. 131588

March 27, 2001

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
GLENN DE LOS SANTOS, accused-appellant.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
One may perhaps easily recall the gruesome and tragic event in Cagayan de Oro City, reported over print and
broadcast media, which claimed the lives of several members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who were
undergoing an "endurance run" as part of the Special Counter Insurgency Operation Unit Training. Not much effort
was spared for the search of the one responsible therefor, as herein accused-appellant Glenn de los Santos
(hereafter GLENN) immediately surrendered to cal authorities. GLENN was then charged with the crimes of Multiple
Murder, Multiple Frustrated Murder, and Multiple Attempted Murder in an information filed with the Regional Trial
Court of Cagayan de Oro City. The information reads as follows:
That on or about October 05, 1995, in the early morning, at Maitum Highway, within Barangay Puerto,
Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, with deliberate intent to kill, taking advantage of his driven motor vehicle, an Isuzu Elf, and with
treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously kill and inflict mortal wounds from … behind
in a sudden and unexpected manner with the use of said vehicle … members of the Philippine National
Police (PNP), undergoing a Special Training Course (Scout Class 07-95), wearing black T-shirts and black
short pants, performing an "Endurance Run" of 35 kilometers coming from their camp in Manolo Fortich,
Bukidnon, heading to Regional Training Headquarters in Camp Alagar, Cagayan de Oro City, running in a
column of 3, with a distance of two feet, more or less, from one trainee to another, thus forming a [sic] three
lines, with a length of more or less 50 meters from the 1st man to the last man, unable to defend themselves,
because the accused ran or moved his driven vehicle on the direction of the backs of the PNP joggers in
spite of the continuous warning signals made by six of the joggers, namely: PO1 Allan Tabacon Espana,
Waldon Sinda Sacro, Lemuel Ybanez Pangca, Artemio Jamil Villaflor, Nardo Omasas Collantes and Joselito
Buyser Escartin, who were at the rear echelon of said run, acting as guards, by continuously waving their
hands at the accused for him to take the left lane of the highway, going to the City proper, from a distance of
100 meters away from the jogger’s rear portion, but which accused failed and refused to heed; instead, he
proceeded to operate his driven vehicle (an Isuzu Elf) on high speed directly towards the joggers, thus
forcing the rear hitting, bumping, or ramming the first four (4) victims, causing the bodies to be thrown
towards the windshields of said Isuzu Elf, breaking said windshield, and upon being aware that bodies of the
victims flew on the windshield of his driven vehicle, instead of applying his brake, continued to travel on a
high speed, this time putting off its headlights, thus hitting the succeeding joggers on said 1 st line, as a result
thereof the following were killed on the spot:

1. Vincent Labis Rosal

7. Antonio Flores Lasco

2. Allan Amoguis Abis

8. Igmedio Salinas Lituanas

3. Jose Arden M. Atisa

9. Roberto Cabussao Loren

4. Nathaniel Mugot Baculio

10. Raul Plaza Martinez

5. Romil Gosila Legrano

11. Jerry Pedrosa Pajo

6. Arnulfo Limbago Jacutin

12. Rolando Paremcio Pancito

While another trainee/victim, Antonio Palomino Mino, died few days after the incident, while the following eleven (11)
other trainee/victims were seriously wounded, the accused thus performing all the acts of execution which would
produce the crime of Murder as a consequence but nevertheless did not produce it by reason of some cause other
than said accused’s spontaneous desistance, that is, by the timely and able medical assistance rendered on the
following victims which prevented their death, to wit:

1. Rey Go Boquis

7. Melchor Hinlo

2. Rene Tuako Calabria

8. Noel Ganzan Oclarit

3. Nonata Ibarra Erno

9. Charito Penza Gepala

4. Rey Tamayo Estofil

10. Victor Malicse Olavo

5. Joel Rey Migue Galendez

11. Bimbo Glade Polboroza

6. Arman Neri Hernaiz

While the following Police Officers I (POI) sustained minor injuries, to wit:

1. Romanito Andrada

6. Romualdo Cotor Dacera

2. Richard Canoy Caday

7. Ramil Rivas Gaisano

3. Rey Cayusa

8. Dibangkita Magandang

4. Avelino Chua

9. Martin Olivero Pelarion

5. Henry Gadis Coubeta

10. Flordicante Martin Piligro

After which said accused thereafter escaped from the scene of the incident, leaving behind the victims aforeenumerated helpless.
Contrary to Article 248, in relation to Article 6 of the Revised Penal Code.
The evidence for the prosecution disclose that the Special Counter Insurgency Operation Unit Training held at
Camp Damilag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, started on 1 September 1995 and was to end on 15 October 1995. The
last phase of the training was the "endurance run" from said Camp to Camp Alagar, Cagayan de Oro City. The run
on 5 October 1995 started at 2:20 a.m. The PNP trainees were divided into three columns; the first and second of
which had 22 trainees each, and the third had 21. The trainees were wearing black T-shirts, black short pants, and
green and black combat shoes. At the start of the run, a Hummer vehicle tailed the jogging trainees. When they
reached Alae, the driver of the Hummer vehicle was instructed to dispatch advanced security at strategic locations
in Carmen Hill. Since the jogging trainees were occupying the right lane of the highway, two rear security guards
were assigned to each rear column. Their duty was to jog backwards facing the oncoming vehicles and give hand
signals for other vehicles to take the left lane.1
Prosecution witnesses Lemuel Y. Pangca and Weldon Sacro testified that they were assigned as rear guards of the
first column. They recalled that from Alae to Maitum Highway, Puerto, Cagayan de Oro City, about 20 vehicles
passed them, all of which slowed down and took the left portion of the road when signaled to do so. 2

While they were negotiating Maitum Highway, they saw an Isuzu Elf truck coming at high speed towards them. The
vehicle lights were in the high beam. At a distance of 100 meters, the rear security guards started waving their
hands for the vehicle to take the other side of the road, but the vehicle just kept its speed, apparently ignoring their
signals and coming closer and closer to them. Realizing that the vehicle would hit them, the rear guards told their
co-trainees to "retract." The guards forthwith jumped in different directions. Lemuel and Weldon saw their cotrainees being hit by the said vehicle, falling like dominoes one after the other. Some were thrown, and others were
overrun by the vehicle. The driver did not reduce his speed even after hitting the first and second columns. The
guards then stopped oncoming vehicles to prevent their comrades from being hit again. 3
The trial court judge, together with the City Prosecutor, GLENN and his counsel, conducted an ocular inspection of
the place where the incident happened. They then proceeded to inspect the Isuzu Elf at the police station. The City
Prosecutor manifested, thus:
The vehicle which we are now inspecting at the police station is the same vehicle which [was] involved in the
October 5, 1995 incident, an Isuzu Elf vehicle colored light blue with strips painting along the side colored
orange and yellow as well as in front. We further manifest that … the windshield was totally damaged and
2/3 portion of the front just below the windshield was heavily dented as a consequence of the impact. The
lower portion was likewise damaged more particularly in the radiator guard. The bumper of said vehicle was
likewise heavily damaged in fact there is a cut of the plastic used as a bumper; that the right side of the
headlight was likewise totally damaged. The front signal light, right side was likewise damaged. The side
mirror was likewise totally damaged. The height of the truck from the ground to the lower portion of the
windshield is 5 ft. and the height of the truck on the front level is 5 ft. 4
PO3 Jose Cabugwas testified that he was assigned at the Investigation Division at Precinct 6, Cagayan de Oro City,
and that at 4 a.m. of 5 October 1995, several members of the PNP came to their station and reported that they had
been bumped by a certain vehicle. Immediately after receiving the report, he and two other policemen proceeded to
the traffic scene to conduct an ocular inspection. Only bloodstains and broken particles of the hit-and-run vehicle
remained on the highway. They did not see any brake marks on the highway, which led him to conclude that the
brakes of the vehicle had not been applied. The policemen measured the bloodstains and found them to be 70 ft.
long.5
GLENN’s version of the events that transpired that evening is as follows:
At about 10:30 p.m. of 4 October 1995, he was asked by his friend Enting Galindez and the latter’s fellow band
members to provide them with transportation, if possible an Isuzu Forward, that would bring their band instruments,
band utilities and band members from Macasandig and Corrales, Cagayan de Oro City, to Balingoan. From there,
they were supposed to be taken to Mambajao, Camiguin, to participate in the San Miguel-sponsored "Sabado
Nights" of the Lanzones Festival from 5-7 October 1995. It was the thirteenth time that Enting had asked such a
favor from him.6 Since the arrangement was to fetch Galindez and his group at 4:00 a.m. of 5 October 1995, GLENN
immediately went to Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City, to get his Isuzu Elf truck. After which, he proceeded back to his
house at Bugo, Cagayan de Oro City, and told his wife that he would go to Bukidnon to get his aunt’s Isuzu Forward
truck because the twenty band members and nine utilities and band instruments could not be accommodated in the
Isuzu Elf truck. Three of his friends asked to go along, namely, Roldan Paltonag, Andot Peña, and a certain Akut. 7
After leaving GLENN’s house, the group decided to stop at Celebrity Plaza Restaurant. GLENN saw his "kumpare"
Danilo Cosin and the latter’s wife, and joined them at the table. GLENN finished three bottles of pale pilsen beer.
When the Cosin spouses left, GLENN joined his travelling companions at their table. The group left at 12:00
midnight for Bukidnon. The environment was dark and foggy, with occasional rains. It took them sometime looking
for the Isuzu Forward truck. Finally, they saw the truck in Agusan Canyon. Much to their disappointment, the said
truck had mechanical problems. Hence, GLENN decided to go back to Cagayan de Oro City to tell Enting that they
would use the Isuzu Elf truck instead.8
GLENN drove slowly because the road was slippery. The vicinity was dark: there was no moon or star; neither were
there lampposts. From the Alae junction, he and his companions used the national highway, traversing the right lane
going to Cagayan de Oro City. At the vicinity of Mambatangan junction, as the Elf was negotiating a left curve going
slightly downward, GLENN saw a very bright and glaring light coming from the opposite direction of the national
highway. GLENN blinked his headlights as a signal for the other driver to switch his headlights from bright to dim.
GLENN switched his own lights from bright to dim and reduced his speed from 80 to 60 kilometers per hour. It was
only when the vehicles were at a distance of 10 to 15 meters from each other that the other car’s headlights were
switched from bright to dim. As a result, GLENN found it extremely hard to adjust from high brightness to sudden
darkness.9
It was while the truck was still cruising at a speed of 60 km./hr., and immediately after passing the oncoming vehicle,
that GLENN suddenly heard and felt bumping thuds. At the sound of the first bumping thuds, GLENN put his right
foot on the brake pedal. But the impact was so sudden that he was astonished and afraid. He was trembling and
could not see what were being bumped. At the succeeding bumping thuds, he was not able to pump the brake, nor
did he notice that his foot was pushing the pedal. He returned to his senses only when one of his companions woke
up and said to him: "Gard, it seems we bumped on something. Just relax, we might all die." Due to its momentum,
the Elf continued on its track and was able to stop only when it was already very near the next curve. 10
GLENN could not distinguish in the darkness what he had hit, especially since the right headlights of the truck had
been busted upon the first bumping thuds. In his confusion and fear, he immediately proceeded home. GLENN did
not report the incident to the Puerto Police Station because he was not aware of what exactly he had hit. It was only
when he reached his house that he noticed that the grill of the truck was broken; the side mirror and round mirror,

missing; and the windshield, splintered. Two hours later, he heard on Bombo Radyo that an accident had occurred,
and he realized that it was the PNP group that he had hit. GLENN surrendered that same day to Governor Emano. 11
The defense also presented Crescente Galindez, as well as Shirley Almazan of the PAG-ASA Office, Cagayan de
Oro City. The former testified that when he went to GLENN’s house at about 10:00 p.m. of 4 October 1995, there
was heavy rain; and at 12:00 midnight, the rain was moderate. He corroborated GLENN’s testimony that he
(Cerscente) went to GLENN’s house that evening in order to hire a truck that would bring the band instruments,
band utilities and band members from Cagayan de Oro to Camiguin for the Lanzones Festival. 12 Almazan, on the
other hand, testified that based on an observed weather report within the vicinity of Cagayan de Oro City, there was
rain from 8:00 p.m. of October 1995 to 2:00 a.m. the next day; and the sky was overcast from 11:00 p.m. of 4
October 1995 to 5:00 a.m. of 5 October 1995. What she meant by "overcast" is that there was no break in the sky;
and, definitely, the moon and stars could not be seen. 13
The prosecution presented rebuttal witness Danilo Olarita whose house was just 100 meters away from the place
where the incident occurred. He testified that he was awakened on that fateful night by a series of loud thuds.
Thereafter, a man came to his house and asked for a glass of water, claiming to have been hit by a vehicle. Danilo
further stated that the weather at the time was fair, and that the soil was dry and not muddy.14
In its decision of 26 August 1997, the trial court convicted GLENN of the complex crime of multiple murder, multiple
frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder, with the use of motor vehicle as the qualifying circumstance. It
sentenced him to suffer the penalty of death and ordered him to indemnify each group of the heirs of the deceased
in the amount of P75,000; each of the victims of frustrated murder in the amount of P30,000; and each of the victims
of attempted murder in the amount of P10,000.
Hence, this automatic review, wherein GLENN contends that the trial court erred (a) in finding that he caused the
Isuzu Elf truck to hit the trainees even after seeing the rear guards waving and the PNP trainees jogging; (b) in
finding that he caused the truck to run even faster after noticing the first thuds; and (c) in finding that he could still
have avoided the accident from a distance of 150 meters, despite the bright and glaring light from the oncoming
vehicle.
In convicting GLENN, the trial court found that "the accused out of mischief and dare-devilness [sic], in the
exhilaration of the night breeze and having dr[u]nk at least three bottles of beer earlier, merely wanted to scare the
rear guard[s] and see them scamper away as they saw him and his vehicle coming at them to ram them down." 15
Likewise, the OSG posits that "the evil motive of the appellant in injuring the jogging trainees was probably brought
by the fact that he had dr[u]nk a total of three (3) bottles of beer earlier before the incident." 16
Not to be outdone, the defense also advances another speculation, i.e., "the possibility that [GLENN] could have
fallen asleep out of sheer fatigue in that unholy hour of 3:30 in the early morning, and thus was not able to stop his
Isuzu Elf truck when the bumping thuds were occurring in rapid succession; and after he was able to wake up upon
hearing the shout of his companions, it was already too late, as the bumping thuds had already occurred." 17
Considering that death penalty is involved, the trial court should have been more scrupulous in weighing the
evidence. It we are to subscribe to the trial court’s finding that GLENN must have merely wanted to scare the rear
guards, then intent to kill was wanting. In the absence of a criminal intent, he cannot be held liable for an intentional
felony. All reasonable doubt intended to demonstrate negligence, and not criminal intent, should be indulged. 18
From the convergence of circumstances, we are inclined to believe that the tragic event was more a product of
reckless imprudence than of a malicious intent on GLENN’s part.
First, as testified to by prosecution rebuttal witness Danilo Olarita, the place of the incident was "very dark," as there
was no moon. And according to PAG-ASA’s observed weather report within the vicinity of Cagayan de Oro City
covering a radius of 50 kilometers, at the time the event took place, the sky was overcast, i.e., there was absolutely
no break in the thick clouds covering the celestial dome globe; hence, there was no way for the moon and stars to
be seen. Neither were there lampposts that illuminated the highway.
1âwphi1.nêt

Second, the jogging trainees and the rear guards were all wearing black T-shirts, black short pants, and black and
green combat shoes, which made them hard to make out on that dark and cloudy night. The rear guards had neither
reflectorized vests or gloves nor flashlights in giving hand signals.
Third, GLENN was driving on the proper side of the road, the right lane. On the other hand, the jogging trainees
were occupying the wrong lane, the same lane as GLENN’s vehicle was traversing. Worse, they were facing the
same direction as GLENN’s truck such that their backs were turned towards the oncoming vehicles from behind.
Fourth, no convincing evidence was presented to rebut GLENN’s testimony that he had been momentarily blinded
by the very bright and glaring lights of the oncoming vehicle at the opposite direction as his truck rounded the curve.
He must have been still reeling from the blinding effect of the lights coming from the other vehicle when he plowed
into the group of police trainees.
Indeed, as pointed out by appellant, instinct tells one ‘to stop or swerve to a safe place the moment he sees a cow,
dog, or cat on the road, in order to avoid bumping or killing the same"; and more so if the one on the road is a
person. It would therefore be inconceivable for GLENN, then a young college graduate with a pregnant wife and
three very young children who were dependent on him for support, to have deliberately hit the group with his truck.

The conclusion of the trial court and the OSG the GLENN intentionally rammed and hit the jogging trainees was
premised on the assumption that despite the first bumping thuds, he continued to accelerate his vehicle instead of
applying his brakes, as shown by the absence of brake marks or skid marks along the traffic scene.
For its part, the defense attributed the continuous movement of GLENN’s vehicle to the confluence of the following
factors:
1. The Isuzu Elf truck, a huge vehicle, was moving fast that even if the brakes were applied the truck would
have still proceeded further on account of its momentum, albeit at a reduced speed, and would have
stopped only after a certain distance.
2. The national highway, from Alae to Puerto, Cagayan de Oro City, was made of fine and smooth asphalt,
free from obstructions on the road such as potholes or excavations. Moreover, the highway was going a little
bit downward, more particularly from the first curve to the place of incident. Hence, it was easier and faster
to traverse a distance "20 to 25 meters which was the approximate aggregate distance" from the first
elements up to the 22nd or 23rd elements of the columns.
3. The weight of each of the trainees (the average of which could be 50 kilograms only) could hardly make
an impact on the 3,900 kilograms truck, which was moving at a speed ranging from 60 to 70 kilometers per
hour.
4. Considering that the width of the truck from the right to the left tires was wide and the under chassis was
elevated, the truck could just pass over two persons lying flat on the ground without its rubber tires running
over the bodies. Thus, GLENN would not notice any destabilization of the rubber tires.
5. Since the police trainees were jogging in the same direction as the truck was proceeding, the forward
movements constituted a force parallel to the momentum of the forward-moving truck such that there was
even much lesser force resisting the said ongoing momentum.
It is a well-entrenched rule that if the inculpatory facts are capable of two or more explanations – one consistent with
the innocence or lesser degree of liability of the accused, and the other consistent with his guilt or graver
responsibility – the Court should adopt the explanation which is more favorable to the accused. 19
We are convinced that the incident, tragic though it was in light of the number of persons killed and seriously injured,
was an accident and not an intentional felony. It is significant to note that there is no shred of evidence that GLENN
had an axe to grind against the police trainees that would drive him into deliberately hitting them with intent to kill.
Although proof of motive is not indispensable to a conviction especially where the assailant is positively identified,
such proof is, nonetheless, important in determining which of two conflicting theories of the incident is more likely to
be true.20 Thus, in People v. Godinez,21 this Court said that the existence of a motive on the part of the accused
becomes decisive in determining the probability or credibility of his version that the shooting was purely accidental.
Neither is there any showing of "a political angle of a leftist-sponsored massacre of police elements disguised in a
vehicular accident."22 Even if there be such evidence, i.e., that the motive of the killing was in furtherance of a
rebellion movement, GLENN cannot be convicted because if such were the case, the proper charge would be
rebellion, and not murder.23
GLENN’s offense is in failing to apply the brakes, or to swerve his vehicle to the left or to a safe place the movement
he heard and felt the first bumping thuds. Had he done so, many trainees would have been spared.
We have once said:
A man must use common sense, and exercise due reflection in all his acts; it is his duty to be cautious,
careful, and prudent, if not from instinct, then through fear of incurring punishment. He is responsible for
such results as anyone might foresee and for acts which no one would have performed except through
culpable abandon. Otherwise his own person, rights and property, and those of his fellow-beings, would ever
be exposed to all manner of danger and injury.24
The test for determining whether a person is negligent in doing an act whereby injury or damage results to the
person or property of another is this: Could a prudent man, in the position of the person to whom negligence is
attributed, foresee harm to the person injured as a reasonable consequence of the course actually pursued? If so,
the law imposes a duty on the actor to refrain from that course or to take precautions to guard against its
mischievous results, and the failure to do so constitutes negligence. Reasonable foresight of harm, followed by the
ignoring of the admonition born of this prevision, is always necessary before negligence can be held to exist. 25
GLENN showed an inexcusable lack of precaution. Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code states that reckless
imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which material damage
results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or failing to perform such
act, taking into consideration (1) his employment or occupation; (2) his degree of intelligence; (4) his physical
condition; and (3) other circumstances regarding persons, time and place.
GLENN, being then a young college graduate and an experienced driver, should have known to apply the brakes or
swerve to a safe place immediately upon hearing the first bumping thuds to avoid further hitting the other trainees.
By his own testimony, it was established that the road was slippery and slightly going downward; and, worse, the

place of the incident was foggy and dark. He should have observed due care in accordance with the conduct of a
reasonably prudent man, such as by slackening his speed, applying his brakes, or turning to the left side even if it
would mean entering the opposite lane (there being no evidence that a vehicle was coming from the opposite
direction). It is highly probable that he was driving at high speed at the time. And even if he was driving within the
speed limits, this did not mean that he was exercising due care under the existing circumstances and conditions at
the time.
Considering that the incident was not a product of a malicious intent but rather the result of a single act of reckless
driving, GLENN should be held guilty of the complex crime of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide
with serious physical injuries and less serious physical injuries.
Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code provides that when the 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 the most serious crime
shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period. Since Article 48 speaks of felonies, it is applicable
to crimes through negligence in view of the definition of felonies in Article 3 as "acts or omissions punishable by law"
committed either by means of deceit {dolo) or fault (culpa).26 In Reodica v. Court of Appeals,27 we ruled that if a
reckless, imprudent, or negligent act results in two or more grave or less grave felonies, a complex crime is
committed. Thus, in Lapuz v. Court of Appeals,28 the accused was convicted, in conformity with Article 48 of the
Revised Penal Code, of the complex crime of "homicide with serious physical injuries and damage to property
through reckless imprudence," and was sentenced to a single penalty of imprisonment, instead of the two penalties
imposed by the trial court. Also, in Soriao v. Court of Appeals,29 the accused was convicted of the complex crime of
"multiple homicide with damage to property through reckless imprudence" for causing a motor boat to capsize,
thereby drowning to death its twenty-eight passengers.
The slight physical injuries caused by GLENN to the ten other victims through reckless imprudence, would, had they
been intentional, have constituted light felonies. Being light felonies, which are not covered by Article 48, they
should be treated and punished as separate offenses. Separate informations should have, therefore, been filed.
It must be noted that only one information (for multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted
murder) was filed with the trial court. However, nothing appears in the record that GLENN objected to the multiplicity
of the information in a motion to quash before his arraignment. Hence, he is deemed to have waived such
defect.30Under Section 3, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court, when two or more offenses are charged in a single
complaint or information and the accused fails to object to it before trial, the court may convict the accused of as
many offenses as are charged and proved, and impose on him the penalty for each of them.
Now, we come to the penalty. Under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, any person who, by reckless
imprudence, shall commit any act which, had it been intentional, would constitute a grave felony shall suffer the
penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium period; and if it would have
constituted a light felony, the penalty of arresto menor in its maximum period shall be imposed. The last paragraph
thereof provides that the penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed upon the offender who fails to lend on the
spot to the injured parties such help as may be in his hand to give. This failure to render assistance to the victim,
therefore, constitutes a qualifying circumstance because the presence thereof raises the penalty by one
degree.31Moreover, the fifth paragraph thereof provides that in the imposition of the penalty, the court shall exercise
its sound discretion without regard to the rules prescribed in Article 64. Elsewise stated, in felonies through
imprudence or negligence, modifying circumstances need not be considered in the imposition of the penalty.32
In the case at bar, it has been alleged in the information and proved during the trial that GLENN "escaped from the
scene of the incident, leaving behind the victims." It being crystal clear that GLENN failed to render aid to the
victims, the penalty provided for under Article 365 shall be raised by one degree. Hence, for reckless imprudence
resulting in multiple homicide with serious physical injuries and less serious physical injuries, the penalty would
beprision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium period. Applying Article 48, the
maximum of said penalty, which is prision mayor in its medium period, should be imposed. For the separate
offenses of reckless imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries, GLENN may be sentenced to suffer, for each
count, the penalty of arresto mayor in its minimum period.
Although it was established through the testimonies of prosecution witness Lemuel Pangca 33 and of GLENN that the
latter surrendered to Governor Emano of Misamis Oriental, such mitigating circumstance need not be considered
pursuant to the aforestated fifth paragraph of Article 365.
Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law, GLENN may be sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty whose
minimum is within the range of the penalty next lower in degree to that prescribed for the offense, and whose
maximum is that which could properly be imposed taking into account the modifying circumstances. Hence, for the
complex crime of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide with serious physical injuries and less serious
physical injuries, qualified by his failure to render assistance to the victims, he may be sentenced to suffer an
indeterminate penalty ranging from arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium
period, as minimum, to prision mayor in its medium period, as maximum. As to the crimes of reckless imprudence
resulting in slight physical injuries, since the maximum term for each count is only two months the Indeterminate
Sentence Law will not apply.
As far as the award of damages is concerned, we find a necessity to modify the same. Conformably with current
jurisprudence,34 we reduce the trial court’s award of death indemnity from P75,000 to P50,000 for each group of
heirs of the trainees killed. Likewise, for lack of factual basis, we delete the awards of P30,000 to each of those who
suffered serious physical injuries and of P10,000 to each of those who suffered minor physical injuries.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 38, Cagayan de Oro City, is hereby SET ASIDE,
and another one is rendered holding herein accused-appellant GLENN DE LOS SANTOS guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of (1) the complex crime of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide with serious physical injuries
and less serious physical injuries, and sentencing him to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four (4) years of prision
correccional, as minimum, to ten (10) years of prision mayor, as maximum; and (2) ten (10) counts of reckless
imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries and sentencing him, for each count, to the penalty of two (2) months
of arresto mayor. Furthermore, the awards of death indemnity for each group of heirs of the trainees killed are
reduced to P50,000; and the awards in favor of the other victims are deleted. Costs against accused-appellant.
1âwphi1.nêt

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 126959

March 28, 2001

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
SERVANDO SATURNO, ARMAN SOLIMAN, ABRAHAM RODRIGUEZ, BENIGNO ANDRES and DELFIN
GREGORIO, accused.
SERVANDO SATURNO, ABRAHAM RODRIGUEZ and BENIGNO ANDRES, accused-appellants.
PARDO, J.:
The case is an appeal interposed by accused Servando Saturno, Abraham Rodriguez and Benigno Andres from the
decision1 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 39, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, finding them guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of multiple murder and ordering them to indemnify the heirs of the victims, and to pay costs.
On July 4, 1989 the provincial prosecutor of Nueva Ecija filed with the Regional Trial Court an information charging
accused as follows:
"That on or about the 23rd day of June, 1989, in Barangay Agupalo Este, Municipality of Lupao, Province of
Nueva Ecija, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above
named accused, conspiring, confederating and aiding one another, with intent to kill, and with treachery, in
that they perpetrated their crime upon their victims without the latter having any means to defend
themselves, evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength, and for and in consideration of the sum of
P2,000.00 given by accused Delfin Gregorio, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack
and assault and shoot, with the use of firearm namely: pistolized caliber .22 without serial number and a
caliber 22 Magnum Smith and Wesson revolver, with Serial No. 88463, the persons of Rodelito Valdez,
Florencio Bulatao, Protacio Pasalusdos and Jose Lopez, Jr., hitting them on the different parts of their
bodies, thereby inflicting upon them fatal wounds which directly caused their instantaneous deaths."
The trial court arraigned the accused separately. Accused Servando Saturno was arraigned on July 7, 1989. He
pleaded not guilty. Accused Delfin Gregorio, Abraham Rodriguez and Benigno Andres were arraigned on August 11,
1989. They pleaded not guilty. Accused Arman Soliman remains at large. Trial ensued.
The facts are as follows:
On June 23, 1989, at around 7:00 in the morning, Rodelito Valdez, Benigno Andres, Jose Lopez, Jr., Protacio
Pasalusdos, Florencio Bulatao and Matias Andres were having a drinking spree at Rodelito Valdez's house at
Agupalo Este, Lupao, Nueva Ecija. Matias Andres only had a few drinks and proceeded to the farm. Benigno Andres
left around lunchtime. Lucila Valdez, Rodelito's wife, heard Benigno say that he was going to Muñoz, so she asked
him to buy her a kilo of pinapaitan (cow meat) and oil. At around 1:00 in the afternoon, all the others were already
dead drunk and went to sleep.2
At around 5:30 in the afternoon of the same day, Lucila heard a tricycle park near their house. There were four
passengers, and the last one to alight was Benigno Andres.
Thinking that he was delivering her pinapaitan, she went down to meet him. However, one of the men (wearing a
light brown jacket and a fatigue cap) met her downstairs and asked for her husband Rodelito. She told him that
Rodelito was dead drunk and could not be awakened. The man did not heed her and went straight to their house.
Lucila followed him inside. He woke up Rodelito, who was sleeping in the bedroom, and asked for his gun. When
Rodelito answered that he did not have a gun, the man shot him. Lucila, who was carrying her one-year old child,
started to cry for help but the man ordered her to be quiet and to stay in the corner of the room. 3

The man's companions brought Jose Lopez, Jr. and Protacio Pasalusdos to the bedroom and hog-tied them.
Florencio Bulatao arrived later and was also hog-tied. Lucila, who was covering her face and trembling in fear,
sensed that those who were hog-tied were separately brought downstairs. Every time a body was brought
downstairs, she would hear gunshots. When she tried to open her eyes again, she saw that the man in light brown
jacket was still there and was pointing his gun at her. She closed her eyes and heard two gunshots. When she
looked again, the man was no longer there. She realized that the two shots were aimed at her husband. 4
A few hours after the incident, the police authorities interrogated Lucila and others who may have knowledge about
the crime. Lucila repeatedly stated that she could not identify the assailants. 5 Five (5) empty shells of cal. 22 and two
(2) deformed slugs were recovered from the cadavers of Rodelito Valdez and Florencio Bulatao. 6
After investigation, constables from the 182nd PC Company apprehended accused-appellants. Sgts. Romeo
Pillonar and Anastacio Apostol and other policemen invited accused Servando Saturno, a fireman, on June 28,
1989. He went with the police officers after having been told that their Commanding Officer Capt. Undan wanted to
talk to him. He brought his tricycle so he would have a ride home later that evening. He was not able to bring it
home because it would be identified by the widow of Rodelito Valdez. The police officers asked him to return to the
camp the following day.7
On June 29, 1989, Lucila arrived at the camp in the morning. Sgt. Pillonar escorted her. He pointed at Saturno and
told Lucila, "Mrs., this is the suspect". Lucila answered that she does not know Saturno, and that Saturno's tricycle
was not the same as the one used by her husband's assailants. Sgt. Pillonar brought her inside the office. Later,
Saturno was asked to go inside the office as well. In the afternoon of that same day, pictures were taken which
showed Lucila pointing at Saturno, a gun, a light brown jacket and a fatigue cap which were later identified as
belonging to Saturno.8 Lucila's testimony also revealed, however, that she initially pointed at a fatigue cap and a
jacket inside the camp office, but the soldier on duty laughed at because those belonged to him. 9
The other accused were arrested later. On July 1, 1989, they executed affidavits admitting their participation in the
crime and implicating Delfin Gregorio as the one who gave P2,000.00 for them to kill Rodelito Valdez. 10
All the accused denied the charges against them.
Servando Saturno, a native of Sapang Cawayan, Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, claimed that he was at home from June 22 to
25, 1989, because he was sick. His immediate supervisors, Capt. Peter Torres and Jose Gania also testified that
they asked Saturno to go home on June 22 because he looked sick. Saturno reported back to work on June 25. He
claimed that he had not been to Agupalo Este, Lupao in his entire life.11
Saturno testified that when he was apprehended, he was asked about his participation in the killing. When he
insisted that he was innocent, he was repeatedly maltreated and tortured at the back of the PC barracks. He was
made to lie upside down, nude, and water was poured on his mouth and nose, which directly went to his forehead.
He was coerced into admitting that he killed the victims as he could no longer endure the pain.12
A few minutes after he was maltreated, accused Saturno was asked to write a letter to his wife asking for his gun,
one of his brown jackets and one of his fatigue caps. His first letter was badly written because his hands were
shaking. He wrote a second letter, but it was lost, so Sgts. Pillonar and Apostol asked him to write a third letter. The
prosecution presented the third letter as its evidence. Saturno's wife testified that she never saw this letter. It was
Saturno's mother-in-law who was at home when the police officers came to their house and got Saturno's
belongings.13
When accused Saturno realized that he was being implicated in the crime, he requested the police officers who
maltreated him to subject his gun to ballistic examination and to give him a paraffin test. They did not heed his
request and they retorted that he acted as if he knew better. On July 1, 1989, Sgt. Apostol fire-tested Saturno's gun.
On July 3, 1989, the day before the information was filed, they brought the gun to Manila for ballistic examination,
after asking accused Saturno for P100.00, to buy new bullets. Accused Saturno was given a paraffin test, and the
result was negative.14
Lt. Peter Torres, accused Saturno's immediate supervisor at the Muñoz Fire Station, testified that the gun used in
the killing was with him prior to June 22, 1989. He never gave it back to accused Saturno because he was
supposed to have it licensed. However, on June 28, 1989, Sgt. Pillonar took it from him upon Capt. Undan's
orders.15
Delfin Gregorio, who was acquitted for insufficiency of evidence, testified that he accompanied Lucila Valdez to the
PC headquarters on June 29, 1989. After Lucila talked to the police officers, she told him that Sgts. Pillonar and
Apostol had asked her to point at accused Saturno and at his tricycle. 16 When she was first asked upon her arrival
whether she recognized accused Saturno, she did not say anything. 17
At that same day, Delfin Gregorio was left behind at the stockade. Sgts. Pillonar and Apostol maltreated him. He
was undressed and made to lie down with his head downward and was repeatedly asked whether he knew accused

Servando Saturno. Every time he answered that he did not know accused Saturno, they would pour water on his
nose. They also applied a lighted cigarette butt on his private part, and when he could no longer endure the pain, he
said that he knew accused Saturno. Later, they brought him to the office and called in a photographer. He was
ordered to point at accused Saturno and his jacket. 18 Gregorio testified, however, that it was the first time that he
saw accused Saturno.
On June 30, 1989, Gregorio was again brought to the back of the barracks and asked to undress himself and was
maltreated again. They asked him if he knew Abraham Rodriguez from Muñoz. He answered that Rodriguez was an
acquaintance who visited him on June 18, 1989, because he (Rodriguez) bought a dog. They also asked him who
were Rodelito Valdez's drinking companions in the morning of June 23, 1989. When he was mentioning their
names, the police officers stopped him and said that "there are too many already and that would already be in
excess." Afterwards, Sgt. Pillonar stated that the four of them (Delfin Gregorio Servando Saturno, Abraham
Rodriguez and Benigno Andres) would be included in the case.19
Later that day, the same PC soldiers maltreated accused Gregorio and Abraham Rodriguez. While he was
blindfolded, he was instructed that his story should be that he saw accused Saturno, Andres and Rodriguez come
out of Rodelito Valdez's house immediately after the killing on June 23, 1989. 20
Accused Abraham Rodriguez was apprehended on June 30, 1989. He denied the charges against him. He testified
that he was at home in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, at the time the incident took place. Aside from Delfin Gregorio, he did
not know the victims and his other co-accused.
He only came to know accused Saturno and Andres when they were in jail. 21
He was shown to Lucila Valdez, and the latter told the police officers to release him because he had nothing to do
with the killing.22 Instead of releasing him, Sgts. Pillonar, Apostol and other PC men brought him to the back portion
of the barracks and repeatedly tortured him for about half an hour. They interrogated him whether he had any
participation in the killing. He insisted he was innocent. He was again severely maltreated. He was coerced into
admitting that he was involved in the killing.23
Afterwards, the police officers brought him inside the office and his affidavit was purportedly taken. Rodriguez
testified that aside from a few immaterial questions, he was not asked any other questions but the police officers
continued typing. A few days later, he and his co-accused were brought to a certain Atty. Evangelista and were
sternly ordered to answer "yes" to every question Atty. Evangelista may ask. He and the other accused were not
allowed to read the contents of their affidavits.24
Accused Benigno Andres denied any participation in the killing. He testified that he had not known accused Saturno
and Rodriguez prior to June 23, 1989, and that he only met them at the PC Company compound on July 1, 1989.
He admitted that Rodelito Valdez asked him to drink gin with him in the morning of June 23, 1989, but he only
stayed for a few minutes because he had to go to Muñoz. He arrived at Muñoz early in the afternoon. His tricycle
broke down and he stayed there overnight in the house of Florencio Bulatao's (one of the victims) distant relative.
The following day, he learned about the killing and he immediately went to Agupalo Este together with Florencio
Bulatao's sister and her husband.25 Florencio Bulatao's sister did not testify in court.
Accused Andres testified that when he was apprehended on July 1, 1989, he was brought to the back of the
barracks of the 182nd PC Company compound, was maltreated, and was coerced to admit his participation in the
killing. He was also forced to sign a document purportedly his affidavit admitting his guilt. He testified that he had no
participation in the preparation of the document and was never informed of his constitutional rights. 26
The trial court found accused-appellants guilty of multiple murder. The trial court acquitted accused Delfin Gregorio
for insufficiency of evidence.
Hence, this appeal.27
In their brief, appellants raise as issue the prosecution's failure to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. They
contended that prosecution witness Lucila Valdez was not able to positively identify them. They claim an alibi, that
is, it was physically impossible for them to be at the locus criminis at the time the incident occurred.
The Solicitor General contends that the trial court correctly gave credence to the testimony of Lucila Valdez and that
the defense of alibi is weak; He maintains that appellants' alibi cannot prevail over the positive identification made
by witness Lucila that they were the perpetrators of the crime as it is an entrenched jurisprudential doctrine that
positive identification prevails over denial and alibi.28
We find the appeal meritorious.
It is a basic rule that the guilt of an accused must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. 29 Before he is convicted,
there must be moral certainty of guilt — a certainty that convinces and satisfies the reason and conscience of those

who are to act upon it that he is guilty of the crime charged.30 Under our criminal justice system, the overriding
consideration is not whether the court doubts the innocence of the accused but whether it entertains a reasonable
doubt as to his guilt.31
The task of the prosecution is two-fold: first, to prove that a crime has been committed, and second, that the
accused is the person responsible therefor. Thus, the prosecution must be able to overcome the constitutional
presumption of innocence with evidence beyond reasonable doubt to justify the conviction of the accused. 32
The fatigue cap and the light brown jacket (and the bloodstains found on it) were the basis for implicating accused
Saturno. These were not identified during the trial nor formally offered in evidence. As a matter of fact, the jacket
was never seen after it was submitted for examination. The chemist who examined the bloodstains in the jacket was
not presented to identify the report and the jacket.
There was also no convincing proof that the slugs, which were presented during the trial were the same slugs
recovered from the scene of the crime. Barangay Chairman Jaime Collado admitted that after he removed the slugs
from the cadavers, he did not immediately give them to the police officers. The slugs, which were submitted for
ballistic examination, could have been those used when Sgt. Apostol fire-tested the gun on July 1, 1989. There was
no sufficient proof that they were fired from accused Saturno's gun. The ballistician, after testifying that there is no
margin of error in his report, could not estimate when the gun was last fired. The other homemade gun also alleged
to have been used in the killing was tested in court and it was shown that it could not be operated easily. Using the
court's own words, the gun was " pasumpong-sumpong."33
Witness Lucila Valdez hesitated at first to point at accused Saturno's tricycle because it looked different from the one
used by the assailants which was color red and with a tail.34 She did not also recognize the inscription "SATURNO
FAMILY" at the back of the tricycle.35
Witness Lucila Valdez was covering her face during the incident. She claimed that the man who was wearing a light
brown jacket had a well-chiseled or occidental nose and his face was oblong; that the gun used in killing her
husband appeared to have a circular object in the middle; that the man who hog-tied the other victims was of
medium height, a well-built man, dark skinned and the other who helped him was also well-built and faircomplexioned and a little bit handsome.36 She stated that the person who dumped Florencio Bulatao in front of the
other victims "was wearing a belt which was borrowed from my husband", and she assumed that it was Benigno
Andres because she remembered the latter borrowing her husband's belt. 37
Witness Lucila's testimony regarding the identity of the accused, however, is too general to deserve consideration.
On the other hand, accused-appellants were able to present convincing evidence that they could not possibly be at
the scene of the crime at the time of its commission.
Bgy. Chairman Collado and Mayor George Castañeda testified that Lucila Valdez told them that she was not able to
recognize the assailants.38 It is inconceivable for Lucila not to tell the barangay officials that her longtime compadreBenigno Andres assisted in the killing. On rebuttal, she said that she had not seen accused Saturno
and Andres prior to June 23, 1989.39 Witness Lucila testified that she was afraid and trembling after she saw that her
husband was shot,40 yet she also testified that she was composed and normal all throughout the incident. 41 Her
conflicting testimony as to her disposition at that time creates a reasonable doubt on her capability to positively
identify the killers.
The identification of appellants as the assailants could in no way be considered as positive and credible.
In the case at bar, the prosecution was able to establish the fact of the killing; however, it failed to prove that
appellants perpetrated the crime. Where the prosecution has failed to discharge the onus probandi for a
pronouncement of guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the constitutional presumption of innocence in favor of the
accused will result in acquittal.42
Accused-appellants testified that they were somewhere else when the killing occurred, and that it was impossible for
them to have committed the crime. The court a quo gave weight to the affidavits executed by the accused wherein
they admitted their participation in the killing.43 However, they were able to prove that their affidavits were solely
prepared by the police investigators, that they were not apprised of their constitutional rights, and that they were
forced to sign the affidavits lest they be maltreated again.
True, the settled rule is that alibi is a weak defense. It has been held that courts will not at once look with disfavor on
the defense of alibi. Alibi may be considered in light of all the evidence for it may be sufficient to acquit the
accused.44
Appellants' alibi and denial gain considerable strength in view of the unreliable identification of the perpetrators of
the crime.45

Thus, where the inculpatory facts and circumstances are capable of two or more explanations one of which is
consistent with the innocence of the accused and the other consistent with his guilt, then the evidence does not fulfill
the test of moral certainty and is not sufficient to support a conviction. 46 The equipoise rule provides that where the
evidence in a criminal case is evenly balanced, the constitutional presumption of innocence tilts the scales in favor
of the accused.47
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 39, San Jose City,
Nueva Ecija in Criminal Case No. L-15 (89). The Court ACQUITS accused-appellants SERVANDO SATURNO,
ABRAHAM RODRIGUEZ and BENIGNO ANDRES for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. The Director of Corrections is hereby directed to forthwith release accused-appellants unless they
are lawfully held for another cause, and to inform the Court of their release within ten (10) days from notice.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.