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SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 129904. March 16, 2000]


DIRECTOR GUILLERMO T. DOMONDON, petitioner, vs. THE
HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, Second Division; HONORABLE
ANIANO A. DESIERTO, in his official capacity as Ombudsman;
HONORABLE FRANCISCO A. VILLA, in his capacity as Overall
Deputy Ombudsman; and LEONARDO P. TAMAYO, in his official
capacity as Deputy Special Prosecutor & concurrent Officer-inCharge, Office of the Special Prosecutor; respondents. francis
DECISION
BUENA, J.:
Before this Court is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer
for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction seeking to nullify and
set aside the Order[1] of the Office of the Special Prosecutor/Ombudsman,
dated November 29, 1995, in Criminal Case No. 20574 (OMB-AFP-CRIM93-0047), as having been rendered with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
The factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:
On February and May 1994, four (4) separate informations [2] were filed
against petitioner and several others before the Third Division of the
Sandiganbayan, docketed as Crim. Case No. 20185 (OMB Case No. AFPCRIM-93-0026), Crim. Case No. 20191 (OMB Case No. AFP-CRIM-930049, OMB-4-93-1476), Crim. Case No. 20192 (OMB Case No. 93-0050,
OMB-4-93-1476) and Crim. Case No. 20576 (OMB-CRIM-AFP-93-0048). [3]
In May 1994, an additional information was filed against petitioner and
several others before the First Division of the Sandiganbayan, docketed
as Crim. Case No. 20574 (OMB-AFP-CRIM-93-0047).[4] The said case
allegedly arose from a complaint filed on May 11, 1993 against certain
officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP), including petitioner, "due
to the discovery of a chain of irregularities within the PNP Commands in
CY 1992, ranging from the irregular issuance of Advices of Sub-

Allotments, ghost purchases/deliveries, forged payrolls up to false


issuances of the combat, clothing and individual equipment (CCIE) to the
uniformed personnel of the PNP valued at P83,600,000.00 ." [5] Petitioner
was included as an accused in Crim. Case No. 20574 on account of his
approval for the Chief, PNP, as then Director of the Office of the
Directorate for Comptrollership (ODC), of the release of Advice of
Allotment (ASAs) Nos. 4363 and 4400 in the amount of P5 million and
P15 million, respectively. The said ASAs were actually signed by his coaccused Superintendent Van Luspo, with authority from petitioner. [6]
On May 12, 1994, petitioner filed a motion for consolidation before the
First Division of the Sandiganbayan seeking the consolidation of Crim.
Case No. 20574 (OMB-AFP-CRIM-93-0047) with Crim. Case Nos. 20185,
20191, 20192 and 20576, all pending before the Third Division of the
Sandiganbayan.[7]marie
On May 17, 1994, the First Division of the Sandiganbayan issued two (2)
Orders, the first, ordering the prosecution, through prosecutor Erdulfo Q.
Querubin, "to demonstrate the probable complicity of the three (3)
accused herein [referring to General Cesar Nazareno, General Joven
Domondon and Senior Superintendent Van Luspo] in the transaction
described in the Information resulting in a violation of [the] Anti-graft
Law under Sec. 3 (e) of R.A. 3019;"[8] considering its uncertainty as to the
probable cause against the aforementioned accused, [9] and the second
Order, deferring action on the motion for consolidation "[c]onsidering the
uncertainty of this Court to even proceeding (sic) with this case at this
time and considering further that the motion for consolidation is (sic)
filed by only one of the fifteen (15) accused, and considering finally the
statement of Prosecutor Erdulfo Q. Querubin that this case can stand
independently of the proceeding in the other casesuntil at least two (2) of
the observations of this Court above on this matter shall have been
responded to."[10]
On June 8, 1994, the First Division of the Sandiganbayan cancelled the
scheduled arraignment in Crim. Case No. 20574 until further advice from
the prosecution.[11]

On November 8, 1994, Erdulfo Q. Querubin, Special Prosecution Officer


III of the Office of the Special Prosecutor/Ombudsman, issued an Order,
approved by [then] Ombudsman Conrado M. Vasquez, [12] recommending
that the information in Crim. Case No. 20574 be amended to exclude six
(6) accused (not including the petitioner), and that the prosecution
against the other remaining accused (including the petitioner) be
continued.[13]
On May 17, 1995, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the
foregoing Order with prayer for the consolidation of Crim. Case No.
20574 with Crim. Case Nos. 20185, 20191, 20192, 20576 and 22098,
[14]
which are allegedly pending reinvestigation by the Office of the
Ombudsman.[15]
On November 29, 1995, Joselito R. Ferrer, Special Prosecutor I of the
Office of the Special Prosecutor / Ombudsman, issued an Order
recommending that the Order of Special Prosecution Officer Erdulfo Q.
Querubin, dated November 8, 1994, be modified to exclude petitioner
from the information in Crim. Case No. 20574; and denying the prayer
for consolidation.[16] However, the foregoing Order was disapproved by
Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto on February 19, 1997, on the basis of the
recommendation of Overall Deputy Ombudsman Francisco A. Villa. [17] In
his memorandum dated September 2, 1996 and addressed to the
Ombudsman, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Francisco A. Villa proposed the
setting of the arraignment and pre-trial conference in Crim. Case No.
20574.[18] Accordingly, a Motion to Admit Amended Information was filed
with the Sandiganbayan on August 26, 1997.[19] The amended information
excluded some of the accused but included petitioner among others as
they were recommended for further prosecution by the Ombudsman.[20]

B. WHETHER THERE WAS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN THE
RESPONDENTS VILLA, DESIERTO, AND TAMAYO DENIED THE
PETITIONERS MOTION FOR CONSOLIDATION;
C. WHETHER THE RESPONDENT FIRST DIVISION, SANDIGANBAYAN
SHOULD BE ENJOINED FROM PROCEEDING WITH THE HEARING
AND OTHER INCIDENTS OF CRIMINAL CASE NO. 20574 AGAINST THE
PETITIONER DURING THE PENDENCY OF THE PETITION.
Petitioner contends that respondents Villa and Desierto acted with grave
abuse of discretion in denying his motion for reconsideration, arguing
that there is no probable cause against him and that the said respondents
disregarded the evidence he adduced.
Petitioner also alleges that respondents Desierto, Villa and Tamayo acted
with grave abuse of discretion in denying his motion for consolidation,
claiming that since all of the pertinent cases have been remanded by the
Sandiganbayan to the Office of the Special Prosecutor under the Office of
the Ombudsman for reinvestigation, "jurisdiction has revested" in the
latter and "it is grave abuse of discretion to refuse to perform the duty of
consolidating these cases."[21]
The contentions are untenable.
As this Court stated in Ocampo, IV vs. Ombudsman: [22]
"Well settled is the rule that criminal prosecutions may not be restrained,
either through a preliminary or final injunction or a writ of prohibition,
except in the following instances:

Hence, this petition. The following issues are raised: novero

(1) To afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights of the


accused;

A. WHETHER THERE WAS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION


AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN THE
RESPONDENTS VILLA AND DESIERTO DENIED THE PETITIONERS
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION;

(2) When necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid


oppression or multiplicity of actions;
(3) When there is a prejudicial question which is sub-judice;
(4) When the acts of the officer are without or in excess of authority;

(5) Where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or


regulation;
(6) When double jeopardy is clearly apparent;
(7) Where the Court has no jurisdiction over the offense;
(8) Where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution;
(9) Where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by lust for
vengeance;
(10) When there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused and a
motion to quash on that ground has been denied; ella
(11) Preliminary injunction has been issued by the Supreme Court to
prevent the threatened unlawful arrest of petitioners."
Corollary to the foregoing rule, the courts cannot interfere with the
discretion of the fiscal or Ombudsman to determine the specificity and
adequacy of the averments of the offense charged. He may dismiss the
complaint forthwith if he finds it to be insufficient in form or substance or
if he otherwise finds no ground to continue with the inquiry; or he may
proceed with the investigation if the complaint is, in his view, in due and
proper form.[23] However, while the Ombudsman has the full discretion to
determine whether or not a criminal case should be filed, this Court is
not precluded from reviewing the Ombudsmans action when there is an
abuse of discretion, by way of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. [24]
Thus, we proceed to determine whether the respondents Ombudsman
Desierto and Overall Deputy Ombudsman Villa acted with grave abuse of
discretion. Grave abuse of discretion implies such capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or,
in other words where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic
manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be so
patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a
virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined or to act at all in
contemplation of law.[25] Such arbitrariness or despotism does not obtain
here. Petitioner has not shown that respondents Desierto and Villa

committed grave abuse of discretion in their determination to proceed


with petitioners prosecution in Crim. Case No. 20574. On the basis of
their reinvestigation, respondents found sufficient probable cause to
include petitioner in the indictment. As thoroughly discussed by
respondents in the Comment and Rejoinder filed before this Court,
petitioners "complicity in the commission of the crime is clearly revealed
by the facts and circumstances surrounding the case." [26] At this point we
reiterate that "xxx [t]his is an exercise of the Ombudsmans powers based
upon constitutional mandate and the courts should not interfere in such
exercise. The rule is based not only upon respect for the investigatory
and prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office of the
Ombudsman but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, the functions of the
courts will be grievously hampered by innumerable petitions assailing the
dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Office of the
Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed before it, in much the same
way that the courts will be extremely swamped if they could be
compelled to review the exercise of discretion on the part of the fiscals or
prosecuting attorneys each time they decide to file an information in
court or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant." [27]
With regard to respondents denial of petitioners motion for consolidation
of Crim. Case No. 20574 with Crim. Case Nos. 20185, 20191, 20192,
20576 and 22098, we find the same to be well-founded. While the
Ombudsman has full discretion to determine whether or not a criminal
case should be filed in the Sandiganbayan, once the case has been filed
with said court, it is the Sandiganbayan, and no longer the Ombudsman,
which has full control of the case so much so that the informations may
not be dismissed, or in the instant case, may not be consolidated with
other pending cases, without the approval of the said court.[28]nigel
Incidentally, petitioner filed a Manifestation[29] dated June 30, 1999 before
this Court, stating that on June 11, 1999, the Office of the Ombudsman
issued an Order[30] excluding petitioner from the information in Crim.
Case No. 20185. In the said Manifestation, petitioner claims that "the
subject of the above-entitled petition includes Criminal Case No. 20185
as well as Criminal Cases Nos. 20574, 20191, 20192, 20576 and
22098."[31] Petitioner further claims that "a perusal of the records of

Criminal Cases Nos. 20574, 20191, 20192, 20576 and 22098 would show
that the alleged complicity and participation of the petitioner is (sic) the
same as in Criminal Case No. 20185; and concludes that "with respect to
petitioner, Criminal Cases Nos. 20574, 20191, 20192, 20576 and 22098
should be treated in the same manner as Criminal Case No. 20185." [32]
The exclusion of petitioner from the information as one of the accused in
Crim. Case No. 20185 would not affect the outcome of this petition for
the reason that we cannot, at this time, determine with certainty whether
indeed the alleged complicity and participation of petitioner in Crim.
Case No. 20185 are the same as in Crim. Case Nos. 20574, 20191,
20192, 20576 and 22098. Contrary to the assertion of petitioner, this
petition concerns only Crim. Case No. 20574 insofar as it involves the
propriety of the Ombudsmans action in proceeding with the said case.
And as we have stated at the outset, this Court will not interfere with the
Ombudsmans exercise of his investigatory and prosecutory powers in the
absence of grave abuse of discretion on his part. Criminal Case Nos.
20185, 20191, 20192, 20576 and 22098 have come to the attention of
this Court merely because petitioner has sought a review of the
Ombudsmans denial of his motion for consolidation. If indeed the said
cases have "common factual antecedents" and petitioners "complicity and
participation" in all of these cases are the same to warrant his exclusion
from the other pertinent cases, petitioners recourse is with the
Sandiganbayan where the said cases are already pending.
In view of the foregoing, we do not find it necessary to address the other
matters originally raised by petitioner in a motion[33] dated January 6,
2000, in which he informed this Court that the Fifth Division of the
Sandiganbayan has issued an Order dated November 25, 1999, setting
the arraignment of petitioner in Criminal Case No. 20191.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby
DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 202243, August 07, 2013
ROMULO L. NERI, Petitioner, v. SANDIGANBAYAN (FIFTH
DIVISION) AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.
DECISION
VELASCO JR., J.:
The Case
Assailed and sought to be nullified in this Petition for Certiorari
Prohibition and Mandamus under Rule 65, With application tor
preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order, are the
Resolution1dated February 3, 2012 of the Fifth Division of the
Sandiganbayan in SB-10-CRM-0099 entitled People of the Philippines v.
Romulo L. Neri, as well as its Resolution2 of April 26, 2012 denying
petitioner's motion for reconsideration.
The Facts
Petitioner Romulo L. Neri (Neri) served as Director General of the
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) during the
administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In connection with what had been played up as the botched PhilippineZTE3 National Broadband Network (NBN) Project, the Office of the
Ombudsman (OMB), on May 28, 2010, tiled with the Sandiganbayan two
(2) criminal Informations, the first against Benjamin Abalos, for violation
of Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. (RA) 3019, as amended, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, docketed as SB-10CRM-0098 (People v. Abalos), and eventually raffled to theFourth
Division of that court. The second Information against Neri, also for
violation of Sec. 3(h), RA 3019, in relation to Sec. 13, Article VII of the
1987 Constitution, was docketed as SB-10-CRM-0099(People v. Neri)
and raffled to the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan. Vis--vis the
same project, the Ombudsman would also later file an information
against Macapagal-Arroyo and another information against her and
several others4 docketed as SB-11-CRM-0467 and SB-11-CRM-0468 to
0469, respectively, all of which ended up, like SB-10-CRM-0098, in the
anti-graft courts 4th Division.
The accusatory portion of the Information against Neri reads as follows:
That during the period from September 2006 to April 2007, or thereabout
in Metro Manila x x x and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused x x x being the then Director General of the
[NEDA], a Cabinet position and as such, is prohibited by Sec. 13 of
Article VII of the 1987 Constitution [from being financially interested in
any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the
Government] but in spite of [said provision], petitioner, while acting as
such, x x x directly or indirectly have financial or pecuniary interest in
the business transaction between the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines and the Zhing Xing Telecommunications Equipment, Inc., a
Chinese corporation x x x for the implementation of the Philippine x x x
(NBN) Project, which requires the review, consideration and approval of
the NEDA, x x x by then and there, meeting, having lunch and playing
golf with representatives and/or officials of the ZTE and meeting with the
COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos and sending his
emissary/representative in the person of Engineer Rodolfo Noel Lozada
to meet Chairman Abalos and Jose De Venecia III, President/General
Manager of Amsterdam Holdings, Inc. (AHI) another proponent to
implement the NBN Project and discuss matters with them. (Rollo, pp.
48-50.)
In the ensuing trial in the Neri case following the arraignment and pretrial proceedings, six (6) individuals took the witness stand on separate
dates5 to testify for the prosecution. Thereafter, the prosecution twice
moved for and secured continuance for the initial stated reason that the

prosecution is still verifying the exact address of its next intended


witness and then that such witness cannot be located at his given
address.6cralaw virtualaw library
In the meantime, a pre-trial conference was conducted in the Abalos case
following which the Fourth Division issued on September 17, 2010 a PreTrial Order7 containing, among other things, a list of witnesses and
documents the prosecution intended to present. On October 27, 2010,
Neri, whose name appeared high on the list, took the witness stand
against Abalos in the Abalos case.8cralaw virtualaw library
On January 3, 2012, in SB-10-CRM-0099, the Office of the Special
Prosecutor (OSP), OMB, citing Sec. 22, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court in
relation to Sec. 2 of the Sandiganbayan Revised Internal Rules, moved
for its consolidation with SB-10-CRM-0098 (People v. Abalos), SB-11CRM-0467 (People v. Arroyo, et al.) and SB-11-0468 to 469 (People v.
Arroyo). The stated reason proffered: to promote a more expeditious and
less expensive resolution of the controversy of cases involving the same
business transaction. And in this regard, the prosecution would later
manifest that it would be presenting Yu Yong and Fan Yang, then
president and finance officer, respectively, of ZTE, as witnesses all in said
cases which would entail a substantive expense on the part of
government if their testimonies are given separately.9cralaw virtualaw
library
Neri opposed and argued against consolidation, and, as he would later
reiterate, contended, among other things that: (a) SB-10-CRM-0099, on
one hand, and the other cases, on the other, involve different issues and
facts; (b) the desired consolidation is oppressive and violates his rights as
an accused; (c) consolidation would unduly put him at risk as he does not
actually belong to the Abalos group which had been negotiating with the
ZTE officials about the NBN Project; (d) he is the principal witness and,
in fact, already finished testifying, in the Abalos case; (e) the trial in
the Neri and Abaloscases are both in the advanced stages already; and (f)
the motion is but a ploy to further delay the prosecution of SB-10-CRM0099, considering the prosecutions failure to present any more
witnesses during the last two (2) scheduled hearings.
To the opposition, the prosecution interposed a reply basically advancing
the same practical and economic reasons why a consolidation order
should issue.

By Resolution dated February 3, 2012, the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division,


agreeing with the position thus taken by the OSP, granted the
consolidation of SB-10-CRM-0099 with SB-10-CRM-0098, disposing as
follows:
WHEREFORE, the prosecutions Motion to Consolidate is hereby
GRANTED. The instant case (SB-10-CRM-0099) is now ordered
consolidated with SB-10-CRM-0098, the case with the lower court docket
number pending before the Fourth Division of this Court,subject to the
conformity of the said Division.10 (Emphasis added.)
According to the Fifth Division, citing Domdom v.
Sandiganbayan,11 consolidation is proper inasmuch as the subject matter
of the charges in both the Abalos and Neri cases revolved around the
same ZTE-NBN Project. And following the movants line, the anti-graft
court stated that consolidation would allow the government to save
unnecessary expenses, avoid multiplicity of suits, prevent delay, clear
congested dockets, and simplify the work of the trial court without
violating the parties rights.
Neri sought a reconsideration, but the Fifth Division denied it in its
equally assailed April 26, 2012 Resolution.
The Issues
Petitioner Neri is now before the Court on the submission that the
assailed consolidation order is void for having been issued with grave
abuse of discretion. Specifically, petitioners allege that respondent court
gravely erred:
[A] x x x in ordering a consolidation of the subject criminal cases when
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure does not allow a
consolidation of criminal cases, only a consolidation of trials or joint
trials in appropriate instances.
[B] x x x in ordering the consolidation because petitioner will now be
tried for a crime not charged in the information in x x x SB-10CRM-0099 and this is violative of his constitutional right to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.
Worse, conspiracy was not even charged or alleged in that criminal
information.
[C] x x x in ordering the consolidation for it would surely prejudice the
rights of petitioner as an accused in x x x SB-10-CRM-0099 because
he does not actually belong to the Abalos Group which had been

negotiating with the ZTE Officials about the NBN Project.


[D] x x x in ordering the consolidation for it would just delay the trial of
the case against the petitioner, as well as that against Abalos,
because these cases are already in the advanced stages of the trial.
Worse, in the Abalos case, the prosecution has listed 50 witnesses
and it has still to present 33 more witnesses while in the case against
the petitioner the prosecution (after presenting six witnesses) has no
more witnesses to present and is now about to terminate its evidence
in chief. Clearly, a consolidation of trial of these two (2) cases would
unreasonably and unduly delay the trial of the case against the
petitioner in violation of his right to a speedy trial.
[E] x x x in not finding that the proposed consolidation was just a ploy by
the prosecution to further delay the prosecution of x x x SB-10- CRM0099 because during the last two (2) hearings it has failed to present
any more prosecution witnesses and there appears to be no more
willing witnesses to testify against the petitioner. x x x
[F] x x x in not finding that it would be incongruous or absurd to allow
consolidation because petitioner was the principal witness (as he
already finished testifying there) against Abalos in x x x SB-10- CRM0098.12
The Courts Ruling
The petition is meritorious, owing for one on the occurrence of a
supervening event in the Sandiganbayan itself. As may be recalled, the
assailed resolution of the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division ordering the
consolidation of SB-10-CRM-0099 (the Neri case) with SB-10-CRM-0098
(the Abalos case) pending with the Fourth Division, was subject to the
conformity of the said (4th) Division. On October 19, 2012, the Fourth
Division, on the premise that consolidation is addressed to the sound
discretion of both the transferring and receiving courts, but more
importantly the latter as the same transferred case would be an added
workload, issued a Resolution13 refusing to accept the Neri case, thus:
WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Fourth Division
RESPECTFULLY DECLINES to accept SB-10-CRM-0099 (Neri case) for
consolidation with SB-10-CRM-00998 (Abalos case) pending before it.
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division wrote to justify, in part, its action:
The Fourth Division already heard accused Neri testify against the
accused in the Abalos case, and in the course of the presentation of his
testimony (on direct examination, on cross-examination and based on his

reply to the questions from the Court), the individual members of the
Fourth Division, based on accused Neris answers as well as his
demeanor on the dock, had already formed their respective individual
opinions on the matter of his credibility. Fundamental is the rule x x x
that an accused is entitled to nothing less that the cold neutrality of an
impartial judge. This Court would not want accused Neri to entertain any
doubt in his mind that such formed opinions might impact on the proper
disposition of the Neri case where he stands accused himself.14cralaw
virtualaw library
While it could very well write finis to this case on the ground of
mootness, the actual justiciable controversy requirement for judicial
review having ceased to exist with the supervening action of the Fourth
Division, the Court has nonetheless opted to address the issue with its
constitutional law component tendered in this recourse.
The unyielding rule is that courts generally decline jurisdiction over
cases on the ground of mootness. But as exceptions to this general norm,
courts will resolve an issue, otherwise moot and academic, when, inter
alia, a compelling legal or constitutional issue raised requires the
formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar and the
public15 or when, as here, the case is capable of repetition yet evading
judicial review.16Demetria v. Alba added the following related reason:
But there are also times when although the dispute has disappeared, as
in this case, it nevertheless cries out to be resolved. Justice demands that
we act then, not only for the vindication of the outraged right, though
gone, but also for the guidance of and as a restraint upon the
future.17cralaw virtualaw library
The interrelated assignment of errors converged on the propriety, under
the premises, of the consolidation of SB-10-CRM-0099 with SB-10- CRM0098.
Consolidation is a procedural device granted to the court as an aid in
deciding how cases in its docket are to be tried so that the business of
the court may be dispatched expeditiously while providing justice to the
parties.18 Toward this end, consolidation and a single trial of several
cases in the courts docket or consolidation of issues within those cases
are permitted by the rules.
As held in Republic v. Sandiganbayan (Fourth Division), citing American
jurisprudence, the term consolidation is used in three (3) different
senses or concepts, thus:
(1) Where all except one of several actions are stayed until one is

tried, in which case the judgment [in one] trial is conclusive as to


the others. This is not actually consolidation but is referred to as
such. (quasi consolidation)
(2) Where several actions are combined into one,
lose their separate identity, and become a
single action in which a single judgment is
rendered. This is illustrated by a situation
where several actions are pending between
the same parties stating claims which might
have been set out originally in one complaint.
(actual consolidation)
(3) Where several actions are ordered to be tried
together but each retains its separate character
and requires the entry of a separate judgment.
This type of consolidation does not merge the
suits into a single action, or cause the parties to
one action to be parties to the other.
(consolidation for trial)19 (citations and emphasis
omitted; italicization in the original.)
To be sure, consolidation, as taken in the above senses, is allowed, as
Rule 31 of the Rules of Court is entitled Consolidation or Severance.
And Sec. 1 of Rule 31 provides:
Section 1. Consolidation. When actions involving a common question of
law or fact are pending before the court, it may order a joint hearing or
trial of any or all the matters in issue in the actions; it may order all
actions consolidated; and it may make such orders concerning
proceedings therein as may tend to avoid unnecessary costs or delay.
The counterpart, but narrowed, rule for criminal cases is found in Sec.
22, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court stating:
Sec. 22. Consolidation of trials of related offenses. - Charges for offenses
founded on the same facts or forming part of a series of offenses of
similar character may be tried jointly at the discretion of the court.
(Emphasis added.)
as complemented by Rule XII, Sec. 2 of the Sandiganbayan Revised
Internal Rules which states:
Section 2. Consolidation of Cases. Cases arising from the same incident
or series of incidents, or involving common questions of fact and law, may
be consolidated in the Division to which the case bearing the lowest
docket number is raffled.

Whether as a procedural tool to aid the court in dispatching its official


business in criminal or civil cases, the rule allowing consolidation in
whatsoever sense it is taken, be it as a merger of several causes of
actions/cases, in the sense of actual consolidation, or merely joint trial
is designed, among other reasons, to avoid multiplicity of suits, guard
against oppression and abuse, attain justice with the least expense and
vexation to the litigants.20cralaw virtualaw library
While the assailed resolution is silent as to the resultant effect/s of the
consolidation it approved, there is nothing in the records to show that
what the prosecution vied for and what the Fifth Division approved went
beyond consolidation for trial or joint trial. This conclusion may be
deduced from the underscored portion of the following excerpts of the
resolution in question, thus:
In its reply, the prosecution asserted that the rationale behind
consolidation of cases is to promote expeditious and less expensive
resolution of a controversy than if they wereheard independently and
separately. It is claimed that the [OMB] and [DOJ] have already
requested the participation in the hearing of these cases of the ZTE
executives, which will entail huge expenses if they will be presented
separately for each case. x x x
We agree with the prosecution.21 (Emphasis added.)
Not to be overlooked is the fact that the prosecution anchored its motion
for consolidation partly on the aforequoted Sec. 22 of Rule 119 which
indubitably speaks of a joint trial.
Given the above perspective, petitioner should now disabuse himself of
the unfounded notion that what the Fifth Division intended was a fusion
into one criminal proceedings of the Abalos and Nericases, where one is
unidentifiable from the other, or worse, where he will be tried as coaccused in the Abalos case.
This thus brings us to the question of whether a consolidation of trial,
under the factual and legal milieu it was ordered, is proper.
Jurisprudence has laid down the requisites for consolidation of trial. As
held in Caos v. Peralta,22 joint trial is permissible where the [actions]
arise from the same act, event or transaction, involve the same or like
issues, and depend largely or substantially on the same evidence,
provided that the court has jurisdiction over the cases to be consolidated
and that a joint trial will not give one party an undue advantage or

prejudice the substantial rights of any of the parties. More elaborately,


joint trial is proper
where the offenses charged are similar, related, or connected, or are of
the same or similar character or class, or involve or arose out of the same
or related or connected acts, occurrences, transactions, series of events,
or chain of circumstances, or are based on acts or transactions
constituting parts of a common scheme or plan, or are of the same
pattern and committed in the same manner, or where there is a common
element of substantial importance in their commission, or where the
same, or much the same, evidence will be competent and admissible or
required in their prosecution, and if not joined for trial the repetition or
reproduction of substantially the same testimony will be required on each
trial.23cralaw virtualaw library
In terms of its effects on the prompt disposition of cases, consolidation
could cut both ways. It may expedite trial or it could cause delays.
Cognizant of this dichotomy, the Court, in Dacanay v. People,24stated the
dictum that the resulting inconvenience and expense on the part of the
government cannot not be given preference over the right to a speedy
trial and the protection of a persons life, liberty or property. Indeed, the
right to a speedy resolution of cases can also be affected by
consolidation. As we intoned in People v. Sandiganbayan, a case involving
the denial by the anti-graft court of the prosecutions motion to
consolidate a criminal case for indirect bribery with another case for
plunder, consolidation should be refused if it will unduly expose a party,
private respondent in that instance, to totally unrelated testimonies,
delay the resolution of the indirect bribery case, muddle the issues, and
expose him to the inconveniences of a lengthy and complicated legal
battle in the plunder case. Consolidation, the Court added, has also been
rendered inadvisable by supervening eventsin particular, if the
testimonies sought to be introduced in the joint trial had already been
heard in the earlier case.25cralaw virtualaw library
So it must be here.
Criminal prosecutions primarily revolve around proving beyond
reasonable doubt the existence of the elements of the crime charged. As
such, they mainly involve questions of fact. There is a question of fact
when the doubt or difference arises from the truth or the falsity of the
allegations of facts. Put a bit differently, it exists when the doubt or
difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of facts or when the inquiry
invites calibration of the whole gamut of evidence considering mainly the
credibility of the witnesses, the existence and relevancy of specific

surrounding circumstances as well as their relation to each other and to


the whole, and the probability of the situation.26cralaw virtualaw library
Since conviction or acquittal in a criminal case hinges heavily on proof
that the overt acts constituting, or the elements, of the crime were
indeed committed or are present, allegations in the information are
crucial to the success or failure of a criminal prosecution. It is for this
reason that the information is considered the battle ground in criminal
prosecutions. As stressed in Matrido v. People:
From a legal point of view, and in a very real sense, it is of no concern to
the accused what is the technical name of the crime of which he stands
charged. It in no way aids him in a defense on the merits. That to which
his attention should be directed, and in which he, above all things else,
should be most interested, are the facts alleged. The real question is not
did he commit the crime given in the law in some technical and specific
name, but did he perform the acts alleged in the body of the
information in the manner therein set forth.27 (Emphasis supplied.)
The overt acts ascribed to the two accused which formed the basis of
their indictments under the separate criminal charge sheets can be
summarized as follows:cralawlibrary

People v. Abalos (For Violation of Section 3[h], RA 3019)


1. Having financial or pecuniary interest in the business transaction
between the GRP and the ZTE for the implementation of the
Philippines NBN;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
2. Attending conferences, lunch meetings and golf games with said
ZTE officials in China, all expenses paid by them and socializing
with them in China and whenever they were here in the
Philippines;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary
3. Offering bribes to petitioner in the amount of PhP 200,000,000 and
to Jose de Venecia III President and General Manager of AHI in the
amount of USD 10,000,000, being also another proponent to
implement said NBN Project of the Government; and
4. Arranging meetings with Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the
Department of Transportation and Communications
(DOTC).29cralaw virtualaw library

1. Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in the


business transaction between the Government of the Republic of
the Philippines (GRP) and ZTE for the implementation of the NBN
Project, which requires the review, consideration and approval by
the accused, as then NEDA Director
General;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary

As can be gleaned from the above summary of charges, the inculpatory


acts complained of, the particulars and specifications for each of the
cases are dissimilar, even though they were allegedly done in connection
with the negotiations for and the implementation of the NBN Project. Due
to this variance, the prosecution witnesses listed in the pre-trial order in
the Neri case are also different from the list of the peoples witnesses
lined up to testify in the Abalos case, albeit some names appear in both
the pre-trial orders. This can be easily seen by a simple comparison of the
list of witnesses to be presented in the cases consolidated. The witnesses
common to both cases are underscored. Thus:cralawlibrary

2. Meeting, having lunch and playing golf with representatives and/or


officials of the ZTE;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary

In People v. Neri, the following are named as witnesses,30 viz:


1. Benjamin Abalos

3. Meeting with then COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos; and

2. Jose de Venecia Jr.

4. Sending his emissary/representative, Engr. Rodolfo Noel Lozada,


to meet Abalos and Jose de Venecia III, President/General Manager
of Amsterdam Holdings Inc. (AHI), another proponent to
implement the NBN Project and discuss matters with them.

3. Jose de Venecia III

People v. Neri (For Violation of Section 3[h] RA 3019)28cralaw virtualaw


library

4. Rodolfo Noel Jun Lozada


5. Dante Madriaga

6. Jarius Bondoc
7. Leo San Miguel

26. Others.
In People v. Abalos, the following are the listed witnesses,31 to wit:
1. Atty. Oliver Lozano

8. Sec. Margarito Teves

2. Mr. Jose De Venecia III

9. Representative of the Bureau of Immigration and


Deportation;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary

3. Engr. Rodolfo Noel Lozada


4. Engr. Dante Madriaga

10. Employees of the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club


5. Secretary Romulo L. Neri
11. Airline Representatives (2)
6. Mr. Jarius Bondoc
12. Raquel Desiderio DOTC, Asec. Administrative and Legal Affairs
7. Speaker Jose De Venecia, Jr.
13. Atty. Frederick Fern Belandres, DOTC
8. Atty. Ernesto B. Francisco
14. Atty. Geronimo Quintos
9. Congresswoman Ana Theresa H. Baraquel
15. Nilo Colinares
10. TESDA Chairman Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva
16. Elmer Soneja
11. Mr. Leo San Miguel
17. Lorenzo Formoso
12. Secretary Margarito Teves
18. Records Custodian, DOTC
13. Atty. Raquel T. Desiderio
19. Senate Secretary or any of her duly authorized representative
14. Atty. Frederick Fern M. Belandres
20. Director General of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee or any of his
duly authorized representative

15. Atty. Geronimo V. Quintos

21. Representative of NEDA;chanr0blesvirtualawlibrary

16. Mr. Nilo Colinares

22. ZTE Officials

17. Mr. Elmer A. Soneja

23. Ramon Sales

18. Asst. Secretary Lorenzo Formoso

24. Hon. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

19. Atty. Harry L. Roque

25. Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo

20. Vice-President Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr.

21. Dr. Ma. Dominga B. Padilla

40. Representative/s from the Board of Investments

22. Fr. Jose P. Dizon

41. Representative/s from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

23. Mr. Roel Garcia

42. Representative/s from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

24. Mr. Bebu Bulchand

43. Representative/s from the Bureau of Immigration

25. Mr. Renato Constantino, Jr.

44. Representative/s from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)

26. Mr. Ferdinand R. Gaite

45. Representative/s from the Securities and Exchange Commission


(SEC)

27. Mr. Guillermo Cunanan


46. Representative/s from the National Statistics Office (NSO)
28. Mr. Amado Gat Inciong
29. Mr. Rafael V. Mariano
30. Ms. Consuelo J. Paz

47. Representative/s from the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China


to the Philippines
48. Representative/s from the Central Records Division, Office of the
Ombudsman

31. Atty. Roberto Rafael J. Pulido


32. Antonia P. Barrios, Director III, Senate Legislative Records &
Archives Services
33. The Personnel Officer, Human Resource Management Office,
Commission on Elections (COMELEC)
34. Representative/s from the Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club,
Mandaluyong City
35. Representative/s from the Philippine Airlines (PAL)
36. Representative/s from Cathay Pacific Airways
37. Representative/s from the Cebu Pacific Airlines
38. Representative/s from the COMELEC
39. Representative/s from the National Economic & Development
Authority (NEDA)

49. Representative/s from the Department of Transportation and


Communications (DOTC)
50. Representative/s from the Philippine Senate
The names thus listed in the pre-trial order in the Abalos case do not yet
include, as aptly observed by the Fourth Division in its adverted October
19, 2012 Resolution,32 additional names allowed under a subsequent
resolution. In all, a total of at least 66 warm bodies were lined up to
testify for the prosecution.
It can thus be easily seen that veritably the very situation, the same
mischief sought to be avoided inPeople v. Sandiganbayan33 which justified
the non-consolidation of the cases involved therein, would virtually be
present should the assailed consolidation be upheld. Applying the lessons
of People v. Sandiganbayan to the instant case, a consolidation of
the Neri case to that of Abalos would expose petitioner Neri to
testimonies which have no relation whatsoever in the case against him
and the lengthening of the legal dispute thereby delaying the resolution
of his case. And as in People v. Sandiganbayan, consolidation here would
force petitioner to await the conclusion of testimonies against Abalos,

however irrelevant or immaterial as to him (Neri) before the case against


the latter may be resolveda needless, hence, oppressive delay in the
resolution of the criminal case against him.

in the case at hand. There as later in People v. Sandiganbayan,36 We held


that the rights of an accused take precedence over minimizing the cost
incidental to the resolution of the controversies in question.

What is more, there is a significant difference in the number of witnesses


to be presented in the two cases. In fact, the number of prosecution
witnesses in the Neri case is just half of that in Abalos. Awaiting the
completion in due course of the presentation of the witnesses
in Abalos would doubtless stall the disposition of the case against
petitioner as there are more or less thirty-five (35) prosecution witnesses
listed in People v. Abalos who are not so listed in People v. Neri. In the
concrete, this means, in the minimum, awaiting the completion of the
testimonies of thirty-five (35) additional witnesses, whose testimonies are
unrelated to the charges against him, before the case against petitioner
may finally be disposed of, one way or another. Also, petitioner will be
exposed to an extra thirty-five (35) irrelevant testimonies which even
exceed those relating to his case, since the prosecution only has roughly
about twenty-six (26) witnesses for his case. Further still, any delay in
the presentation of any of the witnesses in People v. Abalos would
certainly affect the speedy disposition of the case against petitioner. At
the end of the day, the assailed consolidation, instead of contributing to
the swift dispensation of justice and affording the parties a just, speedy
and inexpensive determination of their cases, would achieve the exact
opposite.

Clearly then, consolidation, assuming it to be proper owing to the


existence of the element of commonality of the lineage of the otTenses
charged contemplated in Sec. 22 of Rule 119, should be ordered to
achieve all the objects and purposes underlying the rule on consolidation,
foremost of which, to stress, is the swift dispensation of justice with the
least expense and vexation to the parties. It should, however. be denied if
it subverts any of the aims of consolidation. And Dacanay and People v.
Sandiganbayan are one in saying, albeit implicitly, that ordering
consolidation-likely to delay the resolution of one of the cases, expose a
patty to the rigors of a lengthy litigation and in the process undermine
the accused's right to speedy disposition of cases--constitutes grave
abuse of discretion. Not lost on the Court of course and certainly not on
the Sandiganbayan's Fourth Division is the resulting absurdity arising
from the consolidation of trial where the accused (Neri) in one case
would be the prosecution's main witness in the other case.

Before the Sandigabayan and this Court, petitioner has harped and rued
on the possible infringement of his right to speedy trial should
consolidation push through, noting in this regard that the Neri case is on
its advanced stage but with the prosecution unable to continue further
with its case after presenting six witnesses.
Petitioner's point is well-taken. In Dacanay, a case involving a request for
separate trial instead of a joint trial, the Court upheld an accused's right
to a speedy trial, guaranteed by Sec. 14 (2), Art. III of the Constitution,
over the claim of the prosecution that a joint trial would make the
resolution of the case less expensive.34 In Dacanay, Dacanay moved for
immediate and separate trial, which the People opposed on the ground
that a separate trial, if approved, would entail a repetitive presentation of
the same evidence instead of having to present evidence against Dacanay
and his coaccused only once at the joint trial. According to the
respondent therein, th will result in inconvenience and expense on the
part of the Government,35 the very same reasons given by the prosecution

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Resolution of the


Sandiganbayan Fifth Division dated February 3, 2012 in Criminal Case
No. SB-1 0-CRM-0099 and its Resolution dated April 26, 2012 are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Let Criminal Case No. SB-1 0-CRM0098 and Criminal Case No. SB-1 0-CRM-0099 proceed independently
and be resolved with dispatch by the Divisions of the Sandiganbayan to
which each was originally raffled.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

That sometime in November 1995, and some occasions prior and/or


subsequent thereto, in the Municipality of Dasmarias, Province of Cavite,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, with lewd designs, taking advantage of his superior strength
over the person of his own twelve (12) year old daughter, and by means
of force, violence and intimidation, did, then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, have repeated carnal knowledge of Myra M.
Gianan, against her will and consent, to her damage and prejudice.
Accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to the charge, whereupon trial
of the case ensued.
The evidence for the prosecution shows the following:
Myra Gianan was born on April 19, 1981 in Catanduanes, the eldest
of three children of accused-appellant Jesus Gianan and his wife Dominga
Gianan. After the birth of Myra, the family moved to Aroma, Tondo. [3]
EN BANC [G.R. Nos. 135288-93. September 15, 2000]
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JESUS
GIANAN y MOLINA, accused-appellant.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is an automatic review of the decision[1] of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 20, Imus, Cavite finding accused-appellant guilty of
multiple rape and sentencing him to triple death and to pay complainant
the amount of P100,000.00 as compensatory damages.
On June 26, 1996, complainant Myra Gianan, then 15 years old, filed
a criminal complaint for multiple rape against her father, accusedappellant Jesus Gianan, on the basis of which the public prosecutor filed
the following information:[2]

Sometime in December 1992, at around 9 oclock in the evening,


Myra (then eleven years old) and her younger brother Jeffrey asked
permission from accused-appellant to watch TV in a neighbors
house. Accused-appellant allowed Jeffrey to go but told Myra to stay and
give him a massage. Myra obeyed her father. Afterwards, she again asked
permission to go to their neighbors house and was already at the door
when accused-appellant pulled her and started kissing her. Startled, she
resisted by pushing and hitting her father, but she was warned to keep
quiet or else she would be killed. She was made to lie down by accusedappellant who then took off her clothes. He also undressed and
proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her. After accused-appellant
was through, he got up, dressed and then left. For fear that her father
would make good his threats, Myra kept to herself what happened. [4]
A few days later, while Myra was taking a bath in their house in
Tondo, accused-appellant entered the bathroom and started kissing her
on the lips, neck and genitalia. Because she resisted and pushed him
away, accused-appellant left.[5]

Still, in the same month of December 1992, Myra was again molested
by accused-appellant. She was cleaning the room of their house and her
father was the only other person in the house. Accused-appellant
suddenly seized her and started kissing her. As before, her father
succeeded in undressing her despite her resistance and eventually
consummated the sexual act. Like the first incident, she did not mention
this incident to her mother for fear that accused-appellant would carry
out his earlier threats.[6]
Shortly afterwards, the Gianans house was destroyed by fire, as a
result of which the family moved to Barangay Pag-asa in Dasmarias,
Cavite. Myras mother was able to land a job as bookkeeper at the Santos
Pension House where she was required to work from 7:30 in the morning
to 9 oclock in the evening. Accused-appellant, who was unemployed, was
left in their house with the children.[7]
Under this setup, the abuses against Myra continued. One morning in
March 1993, while Myra was taking a bath, accused-appellant entered
the bathroom, removed his shorts, then started embracing and kissing
her. Myra, who was only in her undergarments, tried to push him away,
but was unsuccessful. Accused-appellant, while seated on the toilet bowl,
made Myra straddle him as he did the sexual act.[8]
The fourth rape incident took place in the evening of April 1993, after
Myra and her two younger siblings had gone to bed. Their mother had
not yet arrived from work. Myra was awakened as accused-appellant was
undressing her. She instinctively kicked him, but she was warned not to
make any noise. Accused-appellant then started kissing her and pinned
down her left leg with his feet while undressing. He then proceeded with
the sexual intercourse with Myra who was crying while her father
violated her.[9]
The fifth rape took place in November 1995. During the wake for her
grandfather, while Myra was serving coffee to those who came to condole
with the family, she was told by accused-appellant to go home. A short
while after complainant arrived, her father followed. They were the only
ones in the house. She was then told to prepare the beddings and, while

she was doing so, accused-appellant embraced and started kissing


her. She resisted but was told to keep quiet. Although accused-appellant
was only able to lower her pants and underwear down to her knees, he
succeeded in abusing her.[10]
In June 1996, after deciding that she had had enough of her fathers
abuses, Myra fled from their house. In a letter to her mother which she
left hidden under her clothes, she revealed what had happened to
her. Myra went to stay in a friends house in Tondo.[11]
Three days later, Dominga Gianan discovered her daughters
letter. She looked for Myra in Tondo and, after confirming from her
daughter the contents of the letter, Dominga sought the help of her sister
who was living in Fairview, Quezon City.[12]
On June 25, 1996, Myra filed a complaint for multiple rape with the
police in Dasmarias, Cavite and later underwent physical examination at
the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) office in Manila.
Dr. Renato C. Bautista, the NBI examining physician, issued the
following certification:[13]
GENERAL PHYSICAL EXAMINATION:
Height: 150.0 cm. Weight: 93 lbs.
Normally developed, fairly nourished, conscious, coherent, cooperative,
ambulatory subject.
Breasts, developed, hemispherical, doughy. Areolae, light brown, 2.4 cm.
in diameter. Nipples, light brown, protruding, 0.8 cm. in diameter.
No extragenital physical injuries noted.
GENITAL EXAMINATION:

Pubic hair, fully grown, abundant. Labia majora and minora,


coaptated. Fourchette, tense. Vestibular mucosa, pinkish. Hymen,
moderately thick, moderately wide with an old healed deep laceration at
4:00 oclock position corresponding to the face of a watch, edges rounded
and non-coaptable. Hymenal orifice admits a tube 2.5 cm. in diameter
with moderate resistance. Vaginal walls, lax. Rugosities, shallow.

from 7 oclock in the morning to 5 oclock in the afternoon. He claimed


that he was out of the house in the evening, performing his duties as a
barangay tanod until 3 oclock in the morning of the following day. [16]
On cross-examination, he admitted that the place where he worked as
a carpenter was only four houses away from theirs and that he went
home whenever he wanted to rest.

CONCLUSIONS:
1. No evident sign of extragenital physical injury noted on the body of the
subject at the time of examination.
2. Old healed deep hymenal laceration present.
Dr. Bautista testified that the laceration in Myras hymen was more
than six months old and that, in the normal course of events, it could
have been caused by sexual intercourse. He explained that the admission
of a tube with 2.5 centimeter diameter into the victims vaginal orifice
meant that her genitalia could accommodate a fully erect male organ
without being injured. He opined that considering the age of the victim,
who was then 15 years old, it was unusual for her vagina to have such an
opening and that the lax vaginal walls and shallow rugosities indicated
that the victim has had sexual intercourse several times. [14]
On cross-examination, Dr. Bautista belied the defenses suggestion
that since there was only one laceration in the victims hymen, she could
have engaged in only one instance of sexual intercourse. He explained
that there are cases where the hymen is intact even after several
incidents of sexual intercourse. He conceded, however, that hymenal
lacerations could be caused by factors other than sexual intercourse. [15]
The defense then presented its evidence. Accused-appellant,
testifying as the lone witness for the defense, denied having raped his
daughter Myra. He claimed that the filing of the case against him was
due to his being a strict disciplinarian and that Myra resented her not
being allowed to attend parties and go out with her friends. Accusedappellant testified that after moving to Cavite, he worked as a carpenter

On April 1, 1998, the trial court rendered its decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads:[17]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered
finding accused Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of multiple
rape. Accordingly, the penalty of triple death is imposed upon him. In
addition, he is ordered to indemnify the victim of the sum ofP100,000.00
as compensatory damages.
SO ORDERED.
Hence this appeal. Accused-appellant contends that
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSEDAPPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE
CRIME OF MULTIPLE RAPE.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING THE PENALTY
OF TRIPLE DEATH.
THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN ORDERING THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT TO INDEMNIFY THE VICTIM THE SUM
OF P100,000.00 AS COMPENSATORY DAMAGES.[18]
I
Accused-appellant contends that the information against him was
void because it did not allege with certainty the dates of commission of
the rapes, as a result of which he was allegedly deprived of the

opportunity to defend himself. In addition, he argues that by charging


multiple rape, the information charged more than one crime.
It is settled that the time of the commission of rape is not an element
thereof, as this crime is defined in Art. 335 of the Revised Penal
Code. The gravamen of the crime is the fact of carnal knowledge under
any of the circumstances enumerated therein, i.e., (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 or is
demented. In accordance with Rule 110, 11, as long as it alleges that the
offense was committed at any time as near to the actual date at which the
offense was committed, an information is sufficient. Thus, in People v.
Bugayong,[19] it was held when the time given in the (information) is not
the essence of the offense, the time need not be proven as alleged and
that the complaint will be sustained if the proof shows that the offense
was committed at any time within the period of the statue of limitations
and before the commencement of the action.[20]
In the case at bar, Myra stated in her complaint that her father had
raped her several times from 1992 up to November 1995. [21] The
prosecution was able to establish that during such period accusedappellant raped his daughter five times and committed acts
of lasciviousness against her once. Hence, the allegation in the
information that accused-appellant committed multiple rape sometime in
November 1995 and some occasions prior and/or subsequent thereto
should be deemed sufficient compliance with the requirements that the
five counts of rape were committed within the statute of limitations and
before the criminal action was commenced in the trial court.
Indeed, this Court has held that the allegations that rapes were
committed before and until October 15, 1994, [22] sometime in the year
1991 and the days thereafter,[23] and on or about and sometime in the
year 1988[24] constitute sufficient compliance with Rule 110, 11. In any
event, even if the information failed to allege with certainty the time of
the commission of the rapes, the defect, if any, was cured by the evidence
presented during the trial and any objection based on this ground must
be deemed waived as a result of accused-appellants failure to object

before arraignment. Accused-appellants remedy was to move either for a


bill of particulars[25] or for the quashal of the information on the ground
that it does not conform substantially to the prescribed form. [26]
In this case, accused-appellants counsel took active part in the
trial. He cross-examined the prosecutions witnesses and afterwards
presented evidence for the defense. It is now late in the day for him to
claim on appeal that the information against him was defective. Accusedappellants reliance on United States v. Dichao[27] is unavailing because in
that case, the accused made a timely motion to quash the information.
Accused-appellant nevertheless argues that his conviction for rape in
December 1992 is so remote from the date (November 1995) alleged in
the information, so that the latter could no longer be considered as being
as near to the actual date at which the offense was committed as
provided under Rule 110, 11.[28]
This contention is also untenable. In People v. Garcia,[29] this Court
upheld a conviction for ten counts of rape based on an information which
alleged that the accused committed multiple rape from November 1990
up to July 21, 1994, a time difference of almost four years which is longer
than that involved in the case at bar. In any case, as earlier stated,
accused-appellants failure to raise a timely objection based on this
ground constitutes a waiver of his right to object.
In People v. Ladrillo,[30] it was held that an information alleging that
the accused-appellant committed rape on or about the year 1992 was
defective and that the failure of the accused to move for a bill of
particulars or for the quashal of the information was not a waiver of
objection based on this ground. But, in that case, the need for a more
definite allegation as to the time of the commission of the rape was
essential in the determination of the accuseds guilt because in 1992, the
accused was not yet residing in the town where the crime was
committed. In addition, the victim could not recall either the month or
the year she was raped. Said the Court:

The phrase on or about the year 1992 encompasses not only the twelve
(12) months of 1992 but includes the years prior and subsequent to 1992,
e.g., 1991 and 1993, for which accused-appellant has to virtually account
for his whereabouts. Hence, the failure of the prosecution to allege with
particularity the date of the commission of the offense and, worse, its
failure to prove during the trial the date of the commission of the offense
as alleged in the Information, deprived accused-appellant of his right to
intelligently prepare for his defense and convincingly refute the charges
against him. At most, accused-appellant could only establish his place of
residence in the year indicated in the Information and not for the
particular time he supposedly committed the rape.[31]
In this case, accused-appellants denial and alibi are so general that it
cannot be said that his defense hinges on the date of the commission of
the rapes. Furthermore, Myra was unwavering in her claim that her
father committed acts of lasciviousness against her once in December
1992, raped her twice in December 1992, twice in 1993, specifically in
the months of March and April, and once in November 1995.
II
With regard to the contention that the information against him is
defective because it charges more than one offense, the pertinent
provisions of Rule 117 state:
SECTION 1. Time to move to quash. At any time before entering his plea,
the accused may move to quash the complaint or information.
SEC. 3. Grounds. The accused may move to quash the complaint or
information on any of the following grounds:
....
(e) That more than one offense is charged . . . .
SEC. 8. Failure to move to quash or to allege any ground therefor. The
failure of the accused to assert any ground of a motion to quash before

he pleads to the complaint or information, either because he did not file a


motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said motion shall be
deemed a waiver of the grounds of a motion to quash . . . .
Clearly, as a result of accused-appellants failure to move for the
quashal of the information on the ground that more than one offense was
charged, he is deemed to have waived his objection based on such
ground.
III
The trial court convicted accused-appellant of multiple rape without
stating the number of counts of rape involved. The prosecution
established beyond doubt that accused-appellant is guilty of five counts
of rape. In a simple and straightforward manner, Myra related to the trial
court how her father raped her twice in December 1992, twice in 1993
(March and April), and once in November 1995. As the trial court noted:
She positively established in detail the antecedents and surrounding
circumstances of the sexual assaults committed by her father against
her. Her testimony was given in a candid, frank and straightforward
manner, thereby, leaving no doubt about its credibility and
truthfulness. It has been held that a candid and straightforward narration
by the victim of how she had been raped bears the earmarks of
credibility. [32]
Undoubtedly, Myra erred in stating that she and her family moved to
Dasmarias, Cavite in June 1993 considering that she testified that after
they had transferred to Cavite, accused-appellant raped her again in
March and April of that year.When she was confronted with this
discrepancy, she admitted that she got confused but explained that,
although she could no longer recall the exact month when she was first
raped by her father in 1993 in Dasmarias, she was certain that the rape
in April of that year took place before her birthday on the 19th of that
month.[33] Hence, complainant must have transferred to Cavite before
March 1993. Indeed, Myras recollection of these two rapes was very
vivid, thus:[34]

PROS. MADRIAGA:

A He entered inside the bathroom and removed his short.

Q When for the first time did your father rape you in Dasmarias,
Cavite?

Q What clothes were you wearing at that time?


A I was wearing a bra and a panty.

A While I was taking a bath.


Q After undressing himself, what did your father do?
Q When was that?
A He embraced me and I was pushing him.
A Around March 1993.
Q What else happened?
Q Who were present at that time in your house?
A He kissed me on the lips, neck and breast.
A My brother Jeffrey.
Q Who else?

Q Aside from kissing you on the different parts of your body, what else
did your father do to you?

A No more. My mother was in the place of work.

A He inserted his organ into my organ.

Q What time was that incident occurred?

Q When he inserted his organ to your organ, what was your position?

A Morning.

A I was sitting and pushing him.

Q Around what time?

Q What was the position of your father?

A Around 10:00 in the morning.

A Also sitting.

Q Will you tell this Hon. Court how did it happen?

Q Was he able to insert his penis in your organ?

A I was taking a bath in our bathroom.

A Yes, sir, a short while.

Q While you were taking a bath in your bathroom, what happened?

....

A He followed me.

Q Madam Witness, last time, during your direct examination with


respect to the first time you were raped by your father in
Dasmarias, you said that the same was committed inside the
bathroom while you and your father were sitting?

Q What happened after he followed you?

A Yes, sir.

A I was then sleeping. I did not notice that my father was removing my
skirt and my t-shirt and panty.

Q Where were you sitting?


A On the lap of my father, sir.

Q What did you do upon discovering that your father was undressing
you?

Q And where [was] your father sitting?

A I kicked him.

A At the toilet bowl, Sir.

Q What did he do when you kicked him?

Q To what direction were you facing?

A He told me to keep quiet.

A Facing him, sir.

Q What happened next?

....

A He kissed my lip, cheek, my organ and breast.

Q Can you recall the approximate time and date when that second
sexual assault was done in Dasmarias?

Q Was your father able to undress you?


A Yes, sir.

A April 1993.
Q What were the clothes that he removed from you?
Q What time?
A My skirt, t-shirt, bra and panty.
A 9:00 in the evening.
Q Who were present in your house when this was done?

Q What did your father do after he was able to remove your dress,
panty, bra etc.?

A My brother and sister who were then sleeping.

A He also removed his clothes.

Q Where was your mother at that time?

Q What did he do after removing his clothes?

A She is at work.

A He spread my legs and inserted his organ into my organ.

....

Q Was he able to insert his organ into your organ?

Q How did the second sexual assault occur in Dasmarias?

A Yes, sir, a short while.

Q While he was inserting his organ into your organ, what did you do?
A I was crying.
Q After that, what did your father do?
A He put on his clothes and he slept.
Considering that the exact time of the commission of the rape is not
an essential element of the crime, Myras testimony is sufficient to
establish the two rape incidents in 1993.
Furthermore, Myras claim of multiple rape was fully corroborated by
the result of the medical examination which shows that she had sexual
intercourse several times.
The evidence shows that accused-appellant was able to consummate
each of the rapes through force and intimidation. Myra testified that her
father threatened to kill her and the other members of their family if she
revealed the sexual attacks to anyone.[35] The threats cannot be
minimized considering the moral influence of accused-appellant over
her. Indeed, we have consistently ruled that in cases of incestuous rapes,
the fathers moral ascendancy over the victim substitutes for violence and
intimidation.[36] This especially holds true in the case of Filipino children
who are traditionally raised to obey and to respect their elders. [37]
With regard to the incident in December 1992 during which accusedappellant kissed complainant in various parts of her body in the
bathroom where she was taking a bath,[38] the crime committed was acts
of lasciviousness. The elements of the crime are: (1) that the offender
commits any act of lasciviousness or lewdness; (2) that it is done (a) by
using force or intimidation or (b) when the offended party is deprived of
reason or otherwise unconscious, or (c) when the offended party is under
12 years of age; and (3) that the offended party is another person of
either sex.[39] Although the information filed was for multiple rape,
accused-appellant can be convicted of acts of lasciviousness because the
crime of acts of lasciviousness is included in rape. [40]

IV
The trial court sentenced accused-appellant to triple death penalty.
However, as the Solicitor General correctly observed, the death penalty
cannot be imposed for the two rapes committed in December 1992 and
the two others committed in March and April 1993, because R.A. No.
7659, which imposes the death penalty for rapes committed under any of
the circumstances provided under 11 thereof, took effect only on
December 31, 1993, and it cannot be given retroactive application.
[41]
Hence, only the penalty of reclusion perpetua can be imposed on
accused-appellant for each count of rape.
With respect to the rape committed in November 1995, R.A. 7659, 11
provides that the death penalty shall be imposed when the victim is
under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent. Both the
age of the offended party and her filiation with the accused must be
alleged in the information as part of the constitutional right of the
accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against
him.[42] However, the information in this case alleged that accusedappellant with lewd designs, taking advantage of his superior strength
over the person of his own twelve (12) year old daughter had repeated
carnal knowledge of her by means of force, violence, and
intimidation. This is similar to the allegations in the four informations
filed in People v. Teves.[43] In that case, three informations alleged that
the accused committed multiple rape by taking advantage of his superior
strength over the person of his thirteen (13) year old daughter. The
fourth information alleged that the accused committed rape by taking
advantage of his superior strength over the person of his own daughter
who is only thirteen years old. This Court ruled that none of these
informations specifically alleged the qualifying circumstances of age and
relationship of the offended party to the accused. It explained:
[T]he informations . . . as phrased, . . . unduly lay stress on the generic
aggravating circumstance of taking advantage of superior strength. Be it
in terms of syntax or composition, the wording of the informations is
unable to sufficiently notify the accused, a person of common

understanding or ordinary intelligence, of the gravity or nature of the


crime he had been charged, especially considering that the generic
aggravating circumstance of taking advantage of superior strength is not
even an element of the attendant circumstances treated under number 1
of the last paragraph of Art. 335. . . .[44]
In accordance with the ruling in Teves, therefore, the rape committed
in November 1995 must be considered to be only simple rape for which
the penalty should only be reclusion perpetua.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Panganiban,
Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon, Jr.,
JJ., concur.
Ynares-Santiago, J., on leave.

As for the damages to be awarded to complainant, the P100,000.00


awarded by the trial court should be modified. In accordance with
current case law,[45] accused-appellant should be ordered to pay
complainant moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00 and civil
indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 for each of the four counts of
simple rape. For the rape committed in November 1995, he should
likewise be ordered to pay moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00
and civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 20,
Imus, Cavite is AFFIRMED with the following modifications:
(1) For each of the four counts of simple rape committed in December
1992 (two counts) and March and April 1993, accused-appellant is
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay
complainant moral damages in the total amount of P200,000.00 and civil
indemnity in the total amount of P200,000.00.
(2) For the rape committed in November 1995, accused-appellant is
sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay
complainant civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 as well as moral
damages in the amount ofP50,000.00 and the costs.
(3) For the acts of lasciviousness committed in December 1992,
accused-appellant is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 12 years
and 1 day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to 15 years, 6 months and
20 days of reclusion temporal, as maximum.

SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. 124342. December 8, 1999]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
LADRILLO, accused-appellant.
DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J.:

EDWIN

It is basic that the prosecution evidence must stand or fall on its own
weight and cannot draw strength from the weakness of the defense.
[1]
The prosecution must demonstrate the culpability of the accused
beyond reasonable doubt for accusation is not synonymous with
guilt. Only when the requisite quantum of proof necessary for conviction
exists that the liberty, or even the life, of an accused may be declared
forfeit. Correlatively, the judge must examine with extreme caution the
evidence for the state to determine its sufficiency. If the evidence fails to
live up to the moral conviction of guilt the verdict must be one of
acquittal, for in favor of the accused stands the constitutional
presumption of innocence; so it must be in this prosecution for rape.
Jane Vasquez, the eight (8) year old complaining witness, could not
state the month and year she was supposedly abused by her cousin
Edwin Ladrillo. She could narrate however that one afternoon she went
to the house of accused-appellant in Abanico, Puerto Princesa City, which
was only five (5) meters away from where she lived. There he asked her
to pick lice off his head; she complied. But later, he told her to lie down in
bed as he stripped himself naked. He removed her panty and placed
himself on top of her. Then he inserted his penis into her vagina. He
covered her mouth with his hand to prevent her from shouting as he
started gyrating his buttocks. He succeeded in raping her four (4) times
on the same day as every time his penis softened up after each
intercourse he would make it hard again and insert it back into her
vagina. After successively satisfying his lust accused-appellant Edwin
Ladrillo would threaten to "send her to the police" if she would report the
incident to anyone.[2]

Sometime in 1994 Salvacion Ladrillo Vasquez, mother of Jane,


noticed that Jane had difficulty urinating and kept pressing her abdomen
and holding her private part. As she writhed in discomfort she
approached her mother and said, "Ma, hindi ka maniwala sa akin na yung
uten ni Kuya Edwin ipinasok sa kiki ko (Ma, you wont believe that Kuya
Edwin inserted his penis into my vagina). [3] Perturbed by her daughters
revelation, Salvacion immediately brought her to their church, the Iglesia
ni Kristo, where she was advised to report to the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI). At the NBI Salvacion was referred to the Puerto
Princesa Provincial Hospital so that Jane could be physically examined.
Dr. Danny O. Aquino, the examining physician, reported in his
medico-legal certificate that Jane had a "non-intact hymen." [4] He later
testified that a "non-intact hymen" could mean either of two (2) things: it
could be congenital, i.e., the victim was born without a fully developed
hymen,[5] or it could be caused by a trauma, as when a male organ
penetrated the private organ of the victim.[6]
On 3 February 1995 Jane Vasquez with the assistance of her mother
Salvacion Ladrillo Vasquez filed a criminal complaint against accusedappellant Edwin Ladrillo.
The defense is anchored on alibi and denial. Accused-appellant claims
that in 1992, the year he allegedly raped Jane as stated in the
Information, he was still residing in Liberty, Puerto Princesa City, and did
not even know Jane or her mother at that time. That it was only in 1993,
according to him, that he moved to Abanico, Puerto Princesa City. To
corroborate his testimony, the defense presented as witnesses, Wilfredo
Rojas and Teodoro Aguilar, both of whom were neighbors of accusedappellant in Liberty, Puerto Princesa City.They testified that in 1992
accused-appellant was still their neighbor in Liberty and it was only in
1993 when accused-appellant and his family moved to Abanico. [7]
Edito Ladrillo, accused-appellants father, testified that his family
lived in Abanico for the first time only in 1993; that when he and his
sister Salvacion, mother of Jane, had a quarrel, he forbade his son Edwin
from attending church services with Salvacion at the Iglesia ni Kristo,

which caused his sister to be all the more angry with him; and, the
instant criminal case was a means employed by his sister to exact
revenge on him for their past disagreements.[8]
The trial court found accused-appellant Edwin Ladrillo guilty as
charged, sentenced him to reclusion perpetua, and ordered him to
indemnify Jane Vasquez the amount of P100,000.00, and to pay the costs.
[9]
Thus, the court rationalized The crux of accuseds defense is that he was not in the place of the
alleged rape in Abanico, Puerto Princesa City when this allegedly
happened. He denied committing the crime of rape against the young
girl, Jane Vasquez. After having carefully examined and calibrated the
evidence on record, the Court is convinced more than ever that the
accused Edwin Ladrillo indeed repeatedly raped or sexually abused Jane
Vasquez, a girl who was then only five (5) years old. This Court has no
reason to doubt the veracity of the testimony of Jane Vasquez given the
straightforward clarity and simplicity with which it was made. It is highly
improbable that a young, 8-year old girl would falsely testify that her own
cousin, the accused herein, raped her. She told her mother: Ma, hindi ka
maniwala sa akin na ang utin ni Kuya Edwin ay ipinasok sa kiki ko. Jane
also described that after the intercourse and as the penis of the accused
softened, the latter would make it hard again and then inserted it again
into her vagina and this was made four (4) times. Janes testimony has all
the characteristics of truth and is entitled to great weight and
credence. The Court cannot believe that the very young victim is capable
of fabricating her story of defloration.
Accused-appellant contends in this appeal that the trial court erred
in: (a) not giving credence to his defense that at the supposed time of the
commission of the offense he was not yet residing in Abanico, Puerto
Princesa City, and did not know the complainant nor her family; (b)
finding him guilty of rape considering that the prosecution failed to prove
his guilt beyond reasonable doubt; (c) not finding that the prosecution
failed to sufficiently establish with particularity the date of commission of
the offense; (d) giving great weight and credence to the testimony of the
complainant; and, (e) failing to consider the mitigating circumstance of

minority in imposing the penalty of reclusion perpetua, assuming for the


sake of argument that indeed the crime of rape was committed. [10]
A careful study of the records sustains accused-appellants plea that
the verdict should have been one of acquittal.
Preliminarily, the crime was alleged in the Information to have been
committed "on or about the year 1992" thus That on or about the year 1992 at Abanico Road, Brgy. San Pedro, Puerto
Princesa City x x x x the said accused, with the use of force and
intimidation did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously have
carnal knowledge with the undersigned five (5) years of age, minor,
against her will and without her consent.
The peculiar designation of time in the Information clearly violates
Sec. 11, Rule 110, of the Rules Court which requires that the time of the
commission of the offense must be alleged as near to the actual date as
the information or complaint will permit. More importantly, it runs afoul
of the constitutionally protected right of the accused to be informed of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him. [11] The Information is
not sufficiently explicit and certain as to time to inform accused-appellant
of the date on which the criminal act is alleged to have been committed.
The phrase "on or about the year 1992" encompasses not only the
twelve (12 ) months of 1992 but includes the years prior and subsequent
to 1992, e.g., 1991 and 1993, for which accused-appellant has to virtually
account for his whereabouts. Hence, the failure of the prosecution to
allege with particularity the date of the commission of the offense and,
worse, its failure to prove during the trial the date of the commission of
the offense as alleged in the Information, deprived accused-appellant of
his right to intelligently prepare for his defense and convincingly refute
the charges against him. At most, accused-appellant could only establish
his place of residence in the year indicated in the Information and not for
the particular time he supposedly committed the rape.

In United States v. Dichao,[12] decided by this Court as early as 1914,


which may be applied by analogy in the instant case, the Information
alleged that the rape was committed "on or about and during the interval
between October 1910 and August 1912. This Court sustained the
dismissal of the complaint on a demurrer filed by the accused, holding
that In the case before us the statement of the time when the crime is alleged
to have been committed is so indefinite and uncertain that it does not
give the accused the information required by law. To allege in an
information that the accused committed rape on a certain girl between
October 1910 and August 1912, is too indefinite to give the accused an
opportunity to prepare for his defense, and that indefiniteness is not
cured by setting out the date when a child was born as a result of such
crime. Section 7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not warrant
such pleading. Its purpose is to permit the allegation of a date of the
commission of the crime as near to the actual date as the information of
the prosecuting officer will permit, and when that has been done any
date may be proved which does not surprise and substantially prejudice
the defense. It does not authorize the total omission of a date or such an
indefinite allegation with reference thereto as amounts to the same
thing.
Moreover, there are discernible defects in the complaining witness
testimony that militates heavily against its being accorded the full credit
it was given by the trial court. Considered independently, the defects
might not suffice to overturn the trial courts judgment of conviction, but
assessed and weighed in its totality, and in relation to the testimonies of
other witnesses, as logic and fairness dictate, they exert a powerful
compulsion towards reversal of the assailed judgment.
First, complainant had absolutely no recollection of the precise date
she was sexually assaulted by accused-appellant. In her testimony
regarding the time of the commission of the offense she declared Q: This sexual assault that you described when your Kuya Edwin
placed himself on top of you and had inserted his penis on (sic)

your private part, when if you could remember, was (sic) this
happened, that (sic) month?
A: I forgot, your Honor.
Q: Even the year you cannot remember?
A: I cannot recall.
Q: But is there any incident that you can recall that may draw to a
conclusion that this happened in 1992 or thereafter?
A: None, your Honor.
Q: About the transfer of Edwin from Abanico to Wescom Road?
A: I dont know, your Honor (underscoring supplied).[13]
In People v. Clemente Ulpindo[14] we rejected the complaining witness
testimony as inherently improbable for her failure to testify on the date of
the supposed rape which according to her she could not remember, and
acquitted the accused. We held in part While it may be conceded that a rape victim cannot be expected to keep
an accurate account of her traumatic experience, and while Reginas
answer that accused-appellant went on top of her, and that she
continuously shouted and cried for five (5) minutes may have really
meant that accused-appellant had carnal knowledge of her for five (5)
minutes despite her shouts and cries, what renders Reginas story
inherently improbable is that she could not remember the month or year
when the alleged rape occurred, and yet, she readily recalled the
incident when she was whipped by accused-appellant with a belt that hit
her vagina after she was caught stealing mangoes.
Certainly, time is not an essential ingredient or element of the crime
of rape. However, it assumes importance in the instant case since it
creates serious doubt on the commission of the rape or the sufficiency of

the evidence for purposes of conviction. The Information states that the
crime was committed "on or about the year 1992," and complainant
testified during the trial that she was sexually abused by accusedappellant in the latters house in Abanico, Puerto Princesa City. [15] It
appears however from the records that in 1992 accused-appellant was
still residing in Liberty, Puerto Princesa City, a town different from
Abanico, Puerto Princesa City, and had never been to Abanico at any time
in 1992 nor was he familiar with the complainant and her family. He only
moved to Abanico, Puerto Princesa City, in 1993. [16] It was therefore
impossible for accused-appellant to have committed the crime of rape in
1992 at his house in Abanico, Puerto Princesa City, on the basis of the
prosecution evidence, as he was not yet residing in Abanico at that time
and neither did his family have a home there. The materiality of the date
cannot therefore be cursorily ignored since the accuracy and truthfulness
of complainants narration of events leading to the rape practically hinge
on the date of the commission of the crime.
The ruling of the trial court to the effect that it was not physically
impossible to be in Abanico from Liberty when the crime charged against
him was committed, is manifestly incongruous as it is inapplicable. The
trial court took judicial notice of the fact that Liberty and Abanico were
not far from each other, both being within the city limits of Puerto
Princesa, and could be negotiated by tricycle in less than thirty (30)
minutes.[17] But whether or not it was physically impossible for accusedappellant to travel all the way to Abanico from Liberty to commit the
crime is irrelevant under the circumstances as narrated by
complainant. Truly, it strains the imagination how the crime could have
been perpetrated in 1992 at the Ladrillo residence in Abanico when, to
repeat, accused-appellant did not move to that place and take up
residence there until 1993.
To complicate matters, we are even at a loss as to how the
prosecution came up with 1992 as the year of the commission of the
offense. It was never adequately explained nor the factual basis
thereof established. The prosecutor himself admitted in court that he
could not provide the specific date for the commission of the crime -

COURT: Wait a minute. (To witness) How many times did your Kuya
Edwin placed (sic) himself on top of you and inserted (sic) his penis
to (sic) your private organ?
A: Four (4) times, your Honor.
COURT: You demonstrate that with your fingers.
A: Like this, your Honor (witness raised her four (4) fingers).
COURT: Fiscal, did you charge the accused four (4) times?
PROS. FERNANDEZ: No, your Honor because we cannot provide the
dates (underscoring supplied).[18]
Indeed, the failure of the prosecution to prove its allegation in the
Information that accused-appellant raped complainant in 1992 manifestly
shows that the date of the commission of the offense as alleged was
based merely on speculation and conjecture, and a conviction anchored
mainly thereon cannot satisfy the quantum of evidence required for a
pronouncement of guilt, that is, proof beyond reasonable doubt that the
crime was committed on the date and place indicated in the Information.
Second, neither did the testimony of Dr. Danny O. Aquino, the
medico-legal officer, help complainant's cause in any way. In his medicolegal certificate, Dr. Aquino concluded on examination that complaining
witness' hymen was not intact. When asked by the trial court what he
meant by "non-intact hymen," Dr. Aquino explained that it could be
congenital, i.e., natural for a child to be born with a "non-intact
hymen."[19] However, he said, he could not distinguish whether
complainants "non-intact hymen" was congenital or the result of a
trauma.[20] When asked further by the public prosecutor whether he
noticed any healed wound or laceration in the hymen, Dr. Aquino
categorically answered: "I was not able to recognize (healed wound), sir,"
and "I was not able to appreciate healed laceration, sir." [21]The answers of
Dr. Aquino to subsequent questions propounded by the prosecutor were
very uncertain and inconclusive. To questions like, "Is she a virgin or

not?" and "So you are now saying that Jane Vasquez was actually raped?"
the answers of Dr. Aquino were, "I cannot tell for sure, your Honor."
"That is a big probability," and, "Very likely."
It is clear from the foregoing that the prosecution likewise failed to
establish the medical basis for the alleged rape. The failure of Dr. Aquino
to make an unequivocal finding that complainant was raped and that no
healed wound or laceration was found on her hymen seriously affects the
veracity of the allegations of the prosecution.
Third, from her testimony, complainant would have this Court believe
that while she was being raped accused-appellant was holding her hand,
covering her mouth and gripping his penis all at the same
time. Complainants narration is obviously untruthful. It defies the
ordinary experience of man. The rule is elementary that evidence to be
believed must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but
must be credible in itself.
And fourth, complainant reported the alleged rape to her mother only
in 1994 or two (2) years after its occurrence. It hardly conforms to
human experience that a child like complainant could actually keep to
herself such a traumatic experience for a very long time.Perhaps it would
have been different if she were a little older and already capable of
exercising discretion, for then, concealment of the rape committed
against her would have been more readily explained by the fact, as in this
case, that she was probably trying to avoid the embarrassment and
disrepute to herself and her family. Children, on the other hand, are
naturally more spontaneous and candid, and usually lack the same
discretion and sensibility of older victims of the same offense. Thus, the
fact that complainant, who was only five (5) years old when the supposed
rape happened, concealed her defilement to her mother for two (2) years
seriously impairs her credibility and the authenticity of her story.
We are not unmindful of the fact that a child of tender years, like
complaining witness herein, could be so timid and ignorant that she
could not narrate her ordeal accurately. But the mind cannot rest easy if
this case is resolved against accused-appellant on the basis of the

evidence for the prosecution which, as already discussed, is


characterized by glaring inconsistencies, missing links and loose ends
that refuse to tie up. The rule that this Court should refrain from
disturbing the conclusions of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses, does not apply where, as in the instant case, the trial court
overlooked certain facts of substance or value which if considered would
affect the outcome of the case; or where the disputed decision is based
on misapprehension of facts.
Denial and alibi may be weak but courts should not at once look at
them with disfavor. There are situations where an accused may really
have no other defenses but denial and alibi which, if established to be the
truth, may tilt the scales of justice in his favor, especially when the
prosecution evidence itself is weak.
Let it be made clear, however, that this opinion does not necessarily
signify acceptance of accused-appellants version of the incident. If
complainant was indeed sexually abused, this view should not be
considered a condonation of what was done, as it was indeed
reprehensible. This only indicates that reasonable doubt has been
created as to accused-appellants guilt. Consequently, under the
prevailing judicial norm, accused-appellant is entitled to acquittal. To
reiterate, there is in his favor the constitutional presumption of
innocence, which has not been sufficiently dented.
Rape is a very emotional word, and the natural human reactions to it
are categorical: sympathy for the victim and admiration for her in
publicly seeking retribution for her outrageous misfortune, and
condemnation of the rapist. However, being interpreters of the law and
dispensers of justice, judges must look at a rape charge without those
proclivities
and
deal
with
it
with
extreme
caution
and
circumspection. 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 based on the law. [22]

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of RTC-Br. 47, Palawan and


Puerto Princesa City, is REVERSED. Accused-appellant EDWIN
LADRILLO is ACQUITTED of rape based on insufficiency of evidence and
reasonable doubt. Consequently, his immediate release from confinement
is ORDERED unless he is otherwise detained for any other lawful or valid
cause. Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Mendoza, Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

SECOND DIVISION [A.M. No. RTJ-04-1873.February 28, 2005]


LETICIA I. KUMMER, complainant, vs. JUDGE LYLIHA L. ABELLAAQUINO,
SHERIFF
MAXIMIANO
CORSINO,
COURT
STENOGRAPHERS LETICIA F. DOMINGO, RAFAELA G.
ANCHETA, ELMA C. SANTIAGO and ALTAGRACIA S.
BAQUIRAN, INTERPRETER MARITES R. MANIO, CLERK III
JOSEPHINE P. JOSE, PROCESS SERVER JONARD A. NIEVES
and UTILITY WORKER EDGAR D. BATTUNG, all of the
Regional
Trial
Court,
Branch
4,
Tuguegarao
City, respondents.
RESOLUTION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:


In a verified Letter-Complaint, Atty. Ronaldo P. Solvado, as counsel for
complainant Leticia I. Kummer, charged the following personnel of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tuguegarao City, Branch 4, with gross
negligence and/or misconduct, and infidelity in the custody of judicial
records: Presiding Judge Lyliha L. Abella-Aquino, Sheriff Maximiano
Corsino, Stenographers Leticia F. Domingo, Rafaela G. Ancheta, Elma C.
Santiago and Altagracia Baquiran, Interpreter Marites R. Manio, Clerk III
Josephine P. Jose, Process Server Jonard A. Nieves, and Utility Worker
Edgar D. Battung.
On October 12, 2000, the complainant was convicted of homicide in
Criminal Case No. 1130 which was assigned to the RTC of Tuguegarao
City, Branch 4. Immediately after the promulgation of judgment, she filed
a Notice of Appeal, along with a Motion for Temporary Liberty under Bail
pending her appeal. The trial court denied her prayer for release under
bail, but gave due course to her appeal. The complainant then elevated
the question of her release under bond to the Court of Appeals (CA) by
way of a petition for certiorari. The CA granted her prayer, and she was
thus released on bail.
According to the complainant, the records of Criminal Case No. 1130
were transmitted by the CA to the court of origin on October 9, 2002.
Upon her receipt of the notice of transmittal, the complainant
immediately made inquiries at the trial court since without the records
her appeal would not be acted upon. The complainant further narrated
During said follow-ups, the last of which was made on February 28, 2003,
our client and the undersigned counsel were informed by the Officer-inCharge or Acting Clerk of Court of the trial court, Leticia F. Domingo,
with assurances from a certain Josephine P. Jose, the Clerk-in-Charge of
criminal cases, and all other court personnel then present, that the
complete records of the case have not yet been received since the time it
was transmitted to the Court of Appeals on September 18, 2001. A
Certification to this effect dated February 28, 2003 was even issued by
the said Leticia F. Domingo. It may be well to add, at this juncture, that

several weeks prior to February 28, 2003, the undersigned counsel made
several phone calls to the said Josephine P. Jose who, after conferring
with other court employees, repeatedly assured him that the entire
records were already transmitted to the Court of Appeals.
After a painstaking examination of the voluminous records at the Office
of the Postmaster of Tuguegarao City and several inquiries made with the
appropriate court personnel therein, our client discovered that the
records of her case as transmitted by the Court of Appeals on July 10,
2002 and covered as such by registered letter number 3655 [were]
actually delivered by Postman II Gerardo Catolico to Sheriff Maximiano
Corsino on October 9, 2002. A certification to this effect was even issued
by Postmaster Josue T. Tubaa of the Post Office of Tuguegarao City. [1]
On March 31, 2003, the complainant filed a Motion For Immediate
Transmittal of the entire records to the CA. The respondent Judge then
issued an Order dated April 8, 2003, worded as follows:
This refers to the Motion for Immediate Transmittal of the complete
records of the above-entitled case.
The Court received a transmittal letter dated July 10, 2002 from Atty.
Tessie L. Gatmaitan, Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals, indicating
therein that the complete record of the case was forwarded to this Court
(photocopy of which [is] hereto attached). [H]owever, only the transmittal
letter was received on October 9, 2002 without records attached to it. It
is then clear that said records are still in the custody of the Court of
Appeals.
In view of the above, the herein Motion cannot be given due course.
Atty. Ronaldo P. Salvado, counsel for the accused is hereby advised to
verify the status of the case at the appellate court.[2]
Confused as to which court had custody of the records in question,
the complainant then filed a Manifestation of Inquiry [3] with the CA

inquiring about the records of the criminal case. However, in a


Resolution[4] dated July 18, 2003, the Court resolved:
A. This Courts remand letter dated July 10, 2002 indicates that
what were remanded were only the copy of the decision of
January 22, 2001 and Entry of Judgment issued on February
15, 2001. It is to be noted that the remand letter states that no
exhibits, OR on appeal, original records and TSNs were
remanded. There is no indication in the rollo of the case that
the Court a quo was ordered by this Court to elevate the
original records of Crim. Case No. 1130.
B. Petitioner is informed that the original records are not with
this Court per JRD verifications dated July 2 & 4, 2003.[5]
The complainant alleged that she filed a case against respondent
Sheriff Corsino for infidelity in the custody of documents with the Office
of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. Only upon learning of such case
from respondent Corsino did the respondent Judge order her personnel
to conduct a thorough search for the missing records of Criminal Case
No. 1130 on July 29, 2003. That same morning, a part of the records was
found in one of the filing cabinets; later in the afternoon, the rest of the
records were found in one of the steel cabinets in the courtroom where
the records of the archives were kept.
The complainant alleged that the respondents conspired with each
other to mislead her into believing that the entire records had been
transmitted to the CA, when, in truth and in fact, it had never been
transmitted. Due to the respondents actuations, the resolution of the
complainants appeal was thereby unduly delayed, to her grave and
irreparable damage and prejudice.
In her Comment[6] dated January 28, 2004, the respondent Judge
denied the charges against her, and claimed that the records of Criminal
Case No. 1130 would show that she had regularly performed her duties.
She alleged that when the judgment in the said criminal case was
promulgated on October 12, 2000, she immediately directed the

transmittal of the records to the CA, in view of the complainants appeal.


The respondent Judge then reminded her staff to immediately transmit
the records along with the transcript of stenographic notes taken during
the trial, specifically respondent Jose as the clerk in charge of the
criminal cases, and respondent Gorospe, who was then the acting Clerk
of Court. The respondent Judge claims that both respondents assured her
that the records had been sent to the CA within the reglementary period.
The respondent Judge further alleged that she repeatedly inquired from
the two if the records had already been sent to the CA. This, according to
her, was her regular routine in court.
The respondent Judge claimed that when the complainant filed her
motion for the immediate transmittal of the record, she again confronted
respondent Jose, who assured her that the records of the case had
already been prepared for transmittal, and had already been delivered to
respondent Gorospe. Respondent Jose further informed her that she had
seen respondent Gorospe handing P20.00 to Carmelito Raymundo to
cover his fare in going to the post office. The respondent Judge further
alleged that respondent Jose showed her a copy of the Table of Contents
which was prepared for the transmittal of the records. Respondent Jose
also assured her that the posting of the records was done by registered
mail under Registry Receipt No. 548.
The respondent Judge admitted that when she learned that a case for
infidelity in the custody of documents had been filed against respondent
Corsino, she had immediately directed her personnel to search for the
missing records of Criminal Case No. 1130. Part of the missing records
was found at about 11:00 a.m. of July 29, 2003, and the rest were found
in one of the steel cabinets in the courtroom where the archived cases
were stored. The respondent Judge then immediately ordered their
transmittal to the CA. She also issued a Memorandum to respondent Jose
requiring her to explain why she should not be administratively charged
for not complying with the courts Order dated October 13, 2000, and for
misleading the court into believing that the records of the said case had
already been sent to the CA.

Respondent Domingo denied the charges in the complaint. She


alleged that at the time the said decision was promulgated, the Officer-inCharge (OIC) of the RTC of Tuguegarao, Branch 4, was Alfonso Gorospe,
who had already retired from the service. She had not yet been
designated as such OIC. She further pointed out that her duties as court
stenographer do not include the custody and handling of court records,
and that they are limited to taking stenographic notes during the trial of
cases, transcribing them, typing orders, decisions and memoranda, as
well as other correspondence as may be directed by the Clerk of Court
and the Presiding Judge. She claimed that she issued the certification
that the records of the subject case had been transmitted to the CA
because respondent Jose, the clerk in charge of criminal cases, assured
her that this was so. She maintained that her actuations were not
motivated by ill will or bad faith.
For their part, respondents Santiago, Baquiran, Ancheta and Manio
likewise denied the allegations in the complaint. As mere stenographers,
their duties do not include the custody and safekeeping of court records.
Respondent Manio further averred that as court interpreter, she does not
participate in the custody and handling of court records.
Respondent Jose also denied the averments in the complaint. She
admitted that as the clerk in charge of criminal cases, her duties include
the preparation of records for transmittal to the CA in case of appeal. She
narrated that she prepared the record of Criminal Case No. 1130 for
transmittal to the CA and later delivered the same to then OIC Gorospe.
She then saw Gorospe hand over P20.00 to Utility Worker Carmelito
Raymundo for the latters fare in going to the post office to mail the
records of the case. Two or three days thereafter, she asked Raymundo
for a copy of the transmittal letter, as well as the registry receipt. She
was merely told that the number of the registry receipt was No. 548, but
failed to give a copy of the transmittal letter. Respondent Jose finally
averred that when she checked the said receipt, she discovered that it
pertained to Criminal Case No. 1448 and not to Criminal Case No. 1130.
Respondent Process Server Nieves and Utility Worker Battung,
denied the charges of the complainant. They averred that they were

appointed to their respective positions on February 18, 2002 and October


15, 2003, long after the subject criminal case was decided by the trial
court. They further alleged that their duties do not include the handling
of court records.
Respondent Corsino also denied the charges in the complaint in his
Answer with Motion to Dismiss dated February 3, 2004. He admitted that
he is also the respondent in OCA IPI No. 03-1795-P and OMB-L-C-030557-E, both of which allege the same facts and circumstances. He
averred that his duties do not include the custody of records which is
handled by the trial court. He claimed that the complaint is a clear
violation of the rule against forum shopping and should be dismissed
outright.
In a Resolution[7] dated September 13, 2004, the Court resolved to redocket the instant administrative complaint against all the respondents
as a regular administrative matter, and to refer the same to Court of
Appeals Associate Justice Josefina Guevarra-Salonga, for investigation,
report and recommendation.
After the hearing conducted on November 25, 2004, the Investigating
Justice submitted her Report and Recommendation where she
recommended the dismissal of the instant complaint. The Investigating
Justice concluded that the respective explanations of the respondents
were sufficient to exonerate them of the complainants charges. According
to the Investigating Justice, the negligence, if any, could be imputed to
Carmelito Raymundo who already passed away, and then OIC Alfonso
Gorospe, now retired.
The Court finds that no bad faith can be attributed to the
respondents,
and
agrees
with
the
following
findings
and
recommendations of the Investigating Justice:
In the case at bar, we find that respondent Judge has not been remiss and
unmindful of her duties as a judge. The record shows that upon the
petitioners filing of an appeal from her conviction for the crime of
Homicide, the Judge immediately issued an Order dated October 13,

2000 denying her motion to be released on bail pending appeal and


ordered the transmittal of the entire records of the case. She likewise
reminded criminal case-in-charge Josephine P. Jose to immediately
forward the records of the case to the Court of Appeals and this was
corroborated by a Joint Affidavit executed by her staff. Thereafter,
Josephine P. Jose produced the letter of transmittal of the records and
showed to her Registry Receipt No. 548 dated September 18, 2001. On
the basis of [the] Registry Receipt, she issued an Order dated April 8,
2003 stating that the records were still with the Court of Appeals.
Moreover, she earnestly endeavored to verify the transmittal of the
records and likewise directed the staff to look for them and for this
purpose, search all cabinets. Upon finding the records inside a cabinet,
she ordered the same to be immediately transmitted to the Court of
Appeals and issued a memorandum requiring Mrs. Jose to explain within
72 hours why the records have not been transmitted to the said Court
earlier.
With regards to Mrs. Josephine P. Jose, criminal case [clerk]-in-charge,
the record shows that she prepared the entire records of Criminal Case
No. 1130 for transmittal and delivered the same to their Officer-InCharge, Alfonso Gorospe who signed the transmittal letter. The latter
directed Carmelito Raymundo, their Utility Aide, to mail the records of
the case to the Court of Appeals and the amount of P20.00 was given for
his fare going to the Post Office. Thereafter, Carmelito Raymundo
informed her that the Registry Receipt No. evidencing the transmittal of
the records was 548, but he failed to give her a copy of the said
transmittal letter, hence she wrote the No. 548 on the first page of the
file copy of the Table of Contents. She later discovered that Registry
Receipt No. 548 referring to Criminal Case No. 1448 and not to Case No.
1130. According to her, she has worked in the Judiciary for almost thirtythree years and has always performed her duties with caution, vigilance
and prudence.
With regard to respondents Elma C. Santiago, Altagracia Baquiran,
Rafaela G. Ancheta and Leticia F. Domingo, the records show that they
are mere court stenographers whose respective duties, among others,

are to attend court hearings, take down stenographic notes and


transcribe the same, and as such, they are not charged with the custody
of court records. The same is true with Marites Manio who works as a
court interpreter, Edgar Battung who works as a Utility Worker and
Jonard Nieves who is a Process Server, all of whom were never assigned
to be the custodians of the records of cases.
The sheriff, Maximiano Corsino, on the other hand, denied the charges
filed against him by petitioner. He contended that the case filed against
him before the Office of the Ombudsman based on the same facts was
already dismissed. As sheriff, his duties are to serve and execute all writs
and processes of the court, among other things. He denied having
received the mail which the postmaster certified to have been received
by him since the signature appearing thereon is not his. He likewise
contended that the letter dated July 10, 2002 shows that what was
remanded to their court by the Court of Appeals was the copy of the
Decision dated January 22, 2001, as well as the Entry of Judgment dated
February 15, 2001.
The Court further notes that the employees seemingly responsible for
the mishap are already retired from the service, and can no longer be
held administratively liable for their omission. Thus, the Court resolves to
consider the instant case closed and terminated.
On a final note, the Court reiterates that a judges duties and
responsibilities are not strictly confined to judicial functions. He is also
an administrator who must organize his court with a view to prompt and
convenient dispatch of its business. [8] A judge is bound by duty to
motivate his subordinates for the effective performance of the functions
and duties of his office.[9] In fact, the imperative and sacred duty of each
and everyone in the court is to maintain its good name and standing as a
temple of justice.[10] Hence, any conduct, act or omission on the part of all
those involved in the administration of justice, which would violate the
norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to
diminish the faith of the people in the judiciary shall be condemned and
cannot be countenanced.[11]

CONSIDERING
THE
FOREGOING, the
charges
against
respondents Presiding Judge Lyliha L. Abella-Aquino, Sheriff Maximiano
Corsino, Stenographers Leticia F. Domingo, Rafaela G. Ancheta, Elma C.
Santiago and Altagracia Baquiran, Interpreter Marites R. Manio, Clerk III
Josephine P. Jose, Process Server Jonard A. Nieves, and Utility Worker
Edgar D. Battung are DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Court further
resolves to consider the instant case CLOSED AND TERMINATED.
SO ORDERED.
Puno, (Chairman),
JJ., concur.

Austria-Martinez,

Tinga, and Chico-Nazario,