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Criminal Procedure

G.R. No. L-38626 March 14, 1975


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
STEPHEN DOUGLAS STRONG alias STEVE STRONG, defendant-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Hector C. Fule and Solicitor Jesus P. Maranao for plaintiff-appellee.
Salvador L. Marino as counsel de oficio for defendant-appellant.

FERNANDO, J.:+.wph!1
The point stressed by counsel de oficio, former Delegate Salvador Marino in language quite restrained under the circumstances, in this automatic
review of a death sentence, is the rather obvious disregard by Judge Jesus V. Occena of the due process requirement that must be met to justify
acceptance of a plea of guilty in a capital offense. He therefore asked that the conviction be set aside and the case remanded to the lower court.
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza is in agreement. 1
As set forth in his manifestation and motion in lieu of appellee's brief, on February 6, 1974, during the continuation of the arraignment, the accused
Stephen Douglas Strong was asked by Judge Occena "And it is also stated here, "that on the occasion and in pursuance of said robbery and to
ensure his felonious intent, the above-named accused with intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, with the use of a fork and towel, attack, assault, stab, choke and strangle one Cornelia Bartolaba, which caused her
immediate death", what do you say to that? 2 His categorical answer: "No." 3 Then when interrogated further to explain why he answered in the
negative considering that he had entered a guilty plea and specifically queried as to whether he meant to say that he did not attack, that he did not
assault, that be did not stab, that he did not choke and strangle the victim, Cornelia Bartolaba, to death, there was an outright denial that he did any of
those acts attributed to him, answering "no" every time to each and ever question. 4
Thus it was quite unexpected when on February 8, 1974, notwithstanding such explicit refusal to acknowledge guilt, the trial court rendered judgment
finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. 5 Reference was next made in the manifestation of the Office of the
Solicitor-General to the contention in appellant's brief that the plea of guilt should be disregarded as it could not be considered definite and absolute.
Instead, it should be one of not guilty with the lower court being called upon to continue the trial on the merits. 6 Then came this portion of the
manifestation of the Solicitor General: "We are in full accord with appellant's contention. It is clear from a perusal of the afore-quoted portion of the
transcripts that the accused denied the allegations contained in the information. It is well-settled that when a plea of guilty is not definite or
ambiguous, or not absolute, the same amounts to a plea of not guilty. ... This Honorable Court has manifested its constant concern with improvident
pleas of guilt. Trial courts have been repeatedly admonished to be circumspect in accepting pleas of guilty in capital offenses. It is in line with this
salutary principle and in the best interest of justice that appellee is constrained to agree with the stand of the appellant." 7
That is all that needs be said. The other points discussed in the comprehensive brief of counsel de oficio do not call for any further discussion. As was
noted in the recent decision of People v. Ybanez, 8 the Court speaking through the Chief Justice, trial judges, quoting from People v. Apduhan, 9 are
"to "refrain from accepting with alacrity an accused's plea of guilty, for while justice demands a speedy administration, judges are duty bound to be
extra solicitous in seeing to it that when an accused pleads guilty he understands fully the meaning of his plea and the import of an inevitable
conviction." 10 Even prior to the oft-cited Apduhan opinion of Justice Castro, the above-authoritative doctrine has been well-settled in this jurisdiction. It
could be traced to a 1907 ruling by Justice Carson in United States v. Rota. 11 Subsequently, it was reiterated in a number of other decisions. 12
From and after August 1968, when Apduhan was promulgated, this Court has invariably referred to it as furnishing the standard, and that in words too
plain to be misinterpreted. It could not be otherwise, if deference is to be accorded to the constitutional right to due process as well as the rudimentary
procedural principles. The element of fairness cannot be satisfied in any other manner. There must be, for a plea of guilty to be judicially acceptable
then, a showing of full understanding of what is at stake. That is so even when an accused does clearly admit the commission of the culpable act.
Here, on the contrary, while there was an admission of guilt hastily made, it turned out, on his being specifically questioned, the accused denied most
categorically the allegations in the information. How could the plea of guilt earlier made be the basis of a judgment of conviction?
It is indeed deplorable, considering that as of the time the trial judge decided the case, this Court had reiterated Apduhan in no less than twenty-nine
separate occasions, that he did act the way he did, apparently heedless of what is authoritatively ordained time and time again. Even a cursory
perusal of this Court's decisions should make clear the undeviating adherence to such a basic doctrine. Judicial carelessness, it thus appears, has
never been carried before to such extremes. It ought never to have happened, and care should be taken that it does not happen again.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court dated February 8, 1974 is set aside and nullified and the case remanded to it for a trial to be conducted
strictly in accordance with the requirements of the law. No costs.
Castro, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Esguerra and Fernandez, JJ., concur.1wph1.t
Makalintal, C.J., concurs in the result.
Aquino, J., took no part.
Muoz Palma, J., is on leave.
G.R. No. L-38626 March 14, 1975
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
STEPHEN DOUGLAS STRONG alias STEVE STRONG, defendant-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, Assistant Solicitor General Hector C. Fule and Solicitor Jesus P. Maranao for plaintiff-appellee.
Salvador L. Marino as counsel de oficio for defendant-appellant.

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Criminal Procedure

FERNANDO, J.:+.wph!1
The point stressed by counsel de oficio, former Delegate Salvador Marino in language quite restrained under the circumstances, in this automatic
review of a death sentence, is the rather obvious disregard by Judge Jesus V. Occena of the due process requirement that must be met to justify
acceptance of a plea of guilty in a capital offense. He therefore asked that the conviction be set aside and the case remanded to the lower court.
Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza is in agreement. 1
As set forth in his manifestation and motion in lieu of appellee's brief, on February 6, 1974, during the continuation of the arraignment, the accused
Stephen Douglas Strong was asked by Judge Occena "And it is also stated here, "that on the occasion and in pursuance of said robbery and to
ensure his felonious intent, the above-named accused with intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, with the use of a fork and towel, attack, assault, stab, choke and strangle one Cornelia Bartolaba, which caused her
immediate death", what do you say to that? 2 His categorical answer: "No." 3 Then when interrogated further to explain why he answered in the
negative considering that he had entered a guilty plea and specifically queried as to whether he meant to say that he did not attack, that he did not
assault, that be did not stab, that he did not choke and strangle the victim, Cornelia Bartolaba, to death, there was an outright denial that he did any of
those acts attributed to him, answering "no" every time to each and ever question. 4
Thus it was quite unexpected when on February 8, 1974, notwithstanding such explicit refusal to acknowledge guilt, the trial court rendered judgment
finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. 5 Reference was next made in the manifestation of the Office of the
Solicitor-General to the contention in appellant's brief that the plea of guilt should be disregarded as it could not be considered definite and absolute.
Instead, it should be one of not guilty with the lower court being called upon to continue the trial on the merits. 6 Then came this portion of the
manifestation of the Solicitor General: "We are in full accord with appellant's contention. It is clear from a perusal of the afore-quoted portion of the
transcripts that the accused denied the allegations contained in the information. It is well-settled that when a plea of guilty is not definite or
ambiguous, or not absolute, the same amounts to a plea of not guilty. ... This Honorable Court has manifested its constant concern with improvident
pleas of guilt. Trial courts have been repeatedly admonished to be circumspect in accepting pleas of guilty in capital offenses. It is in line with this
salutary principle and in the best interest of justice that appellee is constrained to agree with the stand of the appellant." 7
That is all that needs be said. The other points discussed in the comprehensive brief of counsel de oficio do not call for any further discussion. As was
noted in the recent decision of People v. Ybanez, 8 the Court speaking through the Chief Justice, trial judges, quoting from People v. Apduhan, 9 are
"to "refrain from accepting with alacrity an accused's plea of guilty, for while justice demands a speedy administration, judges are duty bound to be
extra solicitous in seeing to it that when an accused pleads guilty he understands fully the meaning of his plea and the import of an inevitable
conviction." 10 Even prior to the oft-cited Apduhan opinion of Justice Castro, the above-authoritative doctrine has been well-settled in this jurisdiction. It
could be traced to a 1907 ruling by Justice Carson in United States v. Rota. 11 Subsequently, it was reiterated in a number of other decisions. 12
From and after August 1968, when Apduhan was promulgated, this Court has invariably referred to it as furnishing the standard, and that in words too
plain to be misinterpreted. It could not be otherwise, if deference is to be accorded to the constitutional right to due process as well as the rudimentary
procedural principles. The element of fairness cannot be satisfied in any other manner. There must be, for a plea of guilty to be judicially acceptable
then, a showing of full understanding of what is at stake. That is so even when an accused does clearly admit the commission of the culpable act.
Here, on the contrary, while there was an admission of guilt hastily made, it turned out, on his being specifically questioned, the accused denied most
categorically the allegations in the information. How could the plea of guilt earlier made be the basis of a judgment of conviction?
It is indeed deplorable, considering that as of the time the trial judge decided the case, this Court had reiterated Apduhan in no less than twenty-nine
separate occasions, that he did act the way he did, apparently heedless of what is authoritatively ordained time and time again. Even a cursory
perusal of this Court's decisions should make clear the undeviating adherence to such a basic doctrine. Judicial carelessness, it thus appears, has
never been carried before to such extremes. It ought never to have happened, and care should be taken that it does not happen again.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court dated February 8, 1974 is set aside and nullified and the case remanded to it for a trial to be conducted
strictly in accordance with the requirements of the law. No costs.
G.R. No. L-26376

August 31, 1966

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff and appellant,


vs.
AURELIO BALISACAN, defendant and appellee.
Office of the Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General I. C. Borromeo and T. M. Dilig for plaintiff and appellant.Rolando de la
Cuesta for defendant and appellee.
BENGZON, J.P., J.:
This is an appeal by the prosecution from a decision of acquittal.
On February 1, 1965, Aurelio Balisacan was charged with homicide in the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte. The information alleged:
That on or about December 3, 1964, in the Municipality of Nueva Era, province of Ilocos Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the herein accused, with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab one, Leonicio
Bulaoat, inflicting upon the latter wounds that immediately caused his death.
CONTRARY TO LAW.
To this charge the accused, upon being arraigned, entered a plea of guilty. In doing so, he was assisted by counsel. At his de oficio counsel's petition,
however, he was allowed to present evidence to prove mitigating circumstances. Thereupon the accused testified to the effect that he stabbed the
deceased in self-defense because the latter was strangling him. And he further stated that after the incident he surrendered himself voluntarily to the
police authorities.

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Subsequently, on March 6, 1965, on the basis of the above-mentioned testimony of the accused, the court a quo rendered a decision acquitting the
accused. As stated, the prosecution appealed therefrom.
This appeal was first taken to the Court of Appeals. Appellant filed its brief on September 9, 1965. No appellee's brief was filed. After being submitted
for decision without appellee's brief, the appeal was certified to Us by the Court of Appeals on July 14, 1966, as involving questions purely of law
(Sec. 17, Republic Act 296). And on August 5, 1966, We ordered it docketed herein.1wph1.t
The sole assignment of error is:
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED OF THE OFFENSE CHARGED DESPITE THE LATTER'S PLEA OF GUILTY WHEN
ARRAIGNED.
Appellant's contention is meritorious. A plea of guilty is an unconditional admission of guilt with respect to the offense charged. It forecloses the right
to defend oneself from said charge and leaves the court with no alternative but to impose the penalty fixed by law under the circumstances. (People v.
Ng Pek, 81 Phil. 563). In this case, the defendant was only allowed to testify in order to establish mitigating circumstances, for the purposes of fixing
the penalty. Said testimony, therefore, could not be taken as a trial on the merits, to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.
In view of the assertion of self-defense in the testimony of the accused, the proper course should have been for the court a quo to take defendant's
plea anew and then proceed with the trial of the case, in the order set forth in Section 3 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 3. Order of trial. The plea of not guilty having been entered, the trial must proceed in the following order:
(a) The fiscal, on behalf of the People of the Philippines, must offer evidence in support of the charges.
(b) The defendant or his attorney may offer evidence in support of the defense.
(c) The parties may then respectively offer rebutting evidence only, unless the court, in furtherance of justice, permit them to offer new additional
evidence bearing upon the main issue in question.
(d) When the introduction of evidence shall have been concluded, unless the case is submitted to the court without argument, the fiscal must open the
argument, the attorney for the defense must follow, and the fiscal may conclude the same. The argument by either attorney may be oral or written, or
partly written, but only the written arguments, or such portions of the same as may be in writing, shall be preserved in the record of the case.
In deciding the case upon the merits without the requisite trial, the court a quo not only erred in procedure but deprived the prosecution of its day in
court and right to be heard.
This Court now turns to Section 2, Rule 122 of the Rules of Court, which provides that: "The People of the Philippines can not appeal if the defendant
would be placed thereby in double jeopardy." The present state of jurisprudence in this regard is that the above provision applies even if the accused
fails to file a brief and raise the question of double jeopardy (People v. Ferrer, L-9072, October 23, 1956; People v. Bao, L-12102, September 29,
1959; People v. De Golez, L-14160, June 30, 1960).
The next issue, therefore, is whether this appeal placed the accused in double jeopardy. It is settled that the existence of a plea is an essential
requisite to double jeopardy (People v. Ylagan, 58 Phil. 851; People v. Quimsing, L-19860, December 23, 1964). In the present case, it is true, the
accused had first entered a plea of guilty. Subsequently, however, he testified, in the course of being allowed to prove mitigating circumstances, that
he acted in complete self-defense. Said testimony, therefore as the court a quo recognized in its decision had the effect of vacating his plea of
guilty and the court a quo should have required him to plead a new on the charge, or at least direct that a new plea of not guilty be entered for him.
This was not done. It follows that in effect there having been no standing plea at the time the court a quo rendered its judgment of acquittal, there can
be no double jeopardy with respect to the appeal herein. 1
Furthermore, as afore-stated, the court a quo decided the case upon the merits without giving the prosecution any opportunity to present its evidence
or even to rebut the testimony of the defendant. In doing so, it clearly acted without due process of law. And for lack of this fundamental prerequisite,
its action is perforce null and void. The acquittal, therefore, being a nullity for want of due process, is no acquittal at all, and thus can not constitute a
proper basis for a claim of former jeopardy (People v. Cabero, 61 Phil. 121; 21 Am. Jur. 2d. 235; McCleary v. Hudspeth 124 Fed. 2d. 445).
It should be noted that in rendering the judgment of acquittal, the trial judge below already gave credence to the testimony of the accused. In fairness
to the prosecution, without in any way doubting the integrity of said trial judge, We deem it proper to remand this case to the court a quo for further
proceedings under another judge of the same court, in one of the two other branches of the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte sitting at Laoag.
Wherefore, the judgment appealed from is hereby set aside and this case is remanded to the court a quo for further proceedings under another judge
of said court, that is, for plea by the defendant, trial with presentation of evidence for the prosecution and the defense, and judgment thereafter, No
costs. So ordered.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Zaldivar, Sanchez and Castro, JJ., concur.Regala and Makalintal, JJ., took no part.
G.R. Nos. 163972-77
March 28, 2008
JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN, Petitioner,
vs.
THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN Respondent.
DECISION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Joselito Raniero J. Daan (petitioner), one of the accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 24167-24170, 24195-24196, 1 questions the denial by the
Sandiganbayan of his plea bargaining proposal.

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The antecedents facts are laid down by Sandiganbayan in its Resolution dated March 25, 2004, as follows:
Said accused,2 together with accused Benedicto E. Kuizon, were charged before this Court for three counts of malversation of public funds involving
the sums of P3,293.00, P1,869.00, and P13,528.00, respectively, which they purportedly tried to conceal by falsifying the time book and payrolls for
given period making it appear that some laborers worked on the construction of the new municipal hall building of Bato, Leyte and collected their
respective salaries thereon when, in truth and in fact, they did not. Thus, in addition to the charge for malversation, the accused were also indicted
before this Court for three counts of falsification of public document by a public officer or employee.
In the falsification cases, the accused offered to withdraw their plea of "not guilty" and substitute the same with a plea of "guilty", provided, the
mitigating circumstances of confession or plea of guilt and voluntary surrender will be appreciated in their favor. In the alternative, if such proposal is
not acceptable, said accused proposed instead to substitute their plea of "not guilty" to the crime of falsification of public document by a public officer
or employee with a plea of "guilty", but to the lesser crime of falsification of a public document by a private individual. On the other hand, in the
malversation cases, the accused offered to substitute their plea of "not guilty" thereto with a plea of "guilty", but to the lesser crime of failure of an
accountable officer to render accounts.
Insofar as the falsification cases are concerned, the prosecution found as acceptable the proposal of the accused to plead "guilty" to the lesser crime
of falsification of public document by a private individual. The prosecution explained:
"With respect to the falsification cases earlier mentioned, it appears that the act of the accused in pleading guilty for a lesser offense of falsification by
a private individual defined and penalized under Article 172 of the Revised Penal code will strengthen our cases against the principal accused,
Municipal Mayor Benedicto Kuizon, who appears to be the master mind of these criminal acts."
Insofar as the malversation cases are concerned, the prosecution was likewise amenable to the offer of said accused to plead "guilty" to the lesser
crime of failure of an accountable officer to render accounts because:
"x x x JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN has already restituted the total amount of P18,860.00 as per official receipt issued by the provincial government
of Leyte dated February 26, 2002. In short, the damage caused to the government has already been restituted x x x. 3
The Sandiganbayan, in the herein assailed Resolution, 4 dated March 25, 2004, denied petitioners Motion to Plea Bargain, despite favorable
recommendation by the prosecution, on the main ground that no cogent reason was presented to justify its approval. 5
The Sandiganbayan likewise denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration in a Resolution dated May 31, 2004.
This compelled petitioner to file the present case for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/ or writ
of preliminary injunction under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
Petitioner argues that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in denying his plea bargaining offer on the following grounds: first,
petitioner is not an accountable officer and he merely affixed his signature on the payrolls on a "routinary basis," negating any criminal intent; and that
the amount involved is only P18,860.00, which he already restituted.6
The petition is meritorious.
Plea bargaining in criminal cases is a process whereby the accused and the prosecution work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case
subject to court approval. It usually involves the defendant's pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to only one or some of the counts of a multi-count
indictment in return for a lighter sentence than that for the graver charge. 7
Plea bargaining is authorized under Section 2, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, to wit:
SEC. 2. Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. At arraignment, the accused, with the consent of the offended party and the prosecutor, may be allowed
by the trial court to plead guilty to a lesser offense which is necessarily included in the offense charged. After arraignment but before trial, the accused
may still be allowed to plead guilty to said lesser offense after withdrawing his plea of not guilty. No amendment of the complaint or information is
necessary. (sec. 4, cir. 38-98)
Ordinarily, plea bargaining is made during the pre-trial stage of the proceedings. Sections 1 and 2, Rule 118 of the Rules of Court, require plea
bargaining to be considered by the trial court at the pre-trial conference, 8 viz:
SEC. 1. Pre-trial; mandatory in criminal cases. In all criminal cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court,
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, the court shall, after arraignment and within thirty (30) days from
the date the court acquires jurisdiction over the person of the accused, unless a shorter period is provided for in special laws or circulars of the
Supreme Court, order a pre-trial conference to consider the following:
(a) plea bargaining;
(b) stipulation of facts;
(c) marking for identification of evidence of the parties;
(d) waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence;
(e) modification of the order of trial if the accused admits the charge but interposes a lawful defense; and
(f) such matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial of the criminal and civil aspects of the case.
SEC. 2. Pre-trial agreement. All agreements or admissions made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be reduced in writing and signed
by the accused and counsel, otherwise, they cannot be used against the accused. The agreements covering the matters referred to in section 1 of
this Rule shall be approved by the court. (Emphasis supplied)

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But it may also be made during the trial proper and even after the prosecution has finished presenting its evidence and rested its case. Thus, the
Court has held that it is immaterial that plea bargaining was not made during the pre-trial stage or that it was made only after the prosecution already
presented several witnesses.9
Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court presents the basic requisites upon which plea bargaining may be made, i.e., that it should be with the
consent of the offended party and the prosecutor,10 and that the plea of guilt should be to a lesser offense which is necessarily included in the offense
charged. The rules however use word may in the second sentence of Section 2, denoting an exercise of discretion upon the trial court on whether to
allow the accused to make such plea. 11 Trial courts are exhorted to keep in mind that a plea of guilty for a lighter offense than that actually charged is
not supposed to be allowed as a matter of bargaining or compromise for the convenience of the accused. 12
In People of the Philippines v. Villarama,13 the Court ruled that the acceptance of an offer to plead guilty to a lesser offense is not demandable by the
accused as a matter of right but is a matter that is addressed entirely to the sound discretion of the trial court, 14 viz:
x x x In such situation, jurisprudence has provided the trial court and the Office of the Prosecutor with a yardstick within which their discretion may be
properly exercised. Thus, in People v. Kayanan (L-39355, May 31, 1978, 83 SCRA 437, 450), We held that the rules allow such a plea only when the
prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to establish the guilt of the crime charged. In his concurring opinion in People v. Parohinog (G.R. No. L47462, February 28, 1980, 96 SCRA 373, 377), then Justice Antonio Barredo explained clearly and tersely the rationale or the law:
x x x (A)fter the prosecution had already rested, the only basis on which the fiscal and the court could rightfully act in allowing the appellant to
change his former plea of not guilty to murder to guilty to the lesser crime of homicide could be nothing more nothing less than the evidence already
in the record. The reason for this being that Section 4 of Rule 118 (now Section 2, Rule 116) under which a plea for a lesser offense is allowed was
not and could not have been intended as a procedure for compromise, much less bargaining. 15 (Emphasis supplied)
However, Villarama involved plea bargaining after the prosecution had already rested its case.
As regards plea bargaining during the pre-trial stage, as in the present case, the trial court's exercise of its discretion should neither be arbitrary nor
should it amount to a capricious and whimsical exercise 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 manner by reason of passion,
prejudice, or personal hostility; and it must be so patent or gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the
duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law.16
In the present case, the Sandiganbayan rejected petitioner's plea offer on the ground that petitioner and the prosecution failed to demonstrate that the
proposal would redound to the benefit of the public. The Sandiganbayan believes that approving the proposal would "only serve to trivialize the
seriousness of the charges against them and send the wrong signal to potential grafters in public office that the penalties they are likely to face would
be lighter than what their criminal acts would have merited or that the economic benefits they are likely to derive from their criminal activities far
outweigh the risks they face in committing them; thus, setting to naught the deterrent value of the laws intended to curb graft and corruption in
government."171avvphi1
Apparently, the Sandiganbayan has proffered valid reasons in rejecting petitioner's plea offer. However, subsequent events and higher interests of
justice and fair play dictate that petitioner's plea offer should be accepted. The present case calls for the judicious exercise of this Court's equity
jurisdiction Equity as the complement of legal jurisdiction seeks to reach and do complete justice where courts of law, through the inflexibility of their rules and
want of power to adapt their judgments to the special circumstances of cases, are incompetent so to do. Equity regards the spirit of and not the letter,
the intent and not the form, the substance rather than the circumstance, as it is variously expressed by different courts. 18
and of its power of control and supervision over the proceedings of lower courts, 19 in order to afford equal justice to petitioner.
In People of the Philippines v. Estrada,20 the Sandiganbayan, in its Resolution dated March 14, 2007, approved the Plea Bargaining Agreement
entered into by the prosecution and one of the accused, Charlie "Atong" Ang. The agreement provided that the accused undertakes to assist in the
prosecution of the case and promises to return the amount of P25,000,000.00. In approving the Plea Bargaining Agreement, the Sandiganbayan took
into consideration the timeliness of the plea bargaining and whether the agreement complied with the requirements of Section 2, Rule 116 of the
Rules of Court. The Sandigabayan noted that the accused had already withdrawn his earlier plea of "not guilty"; and that the prosecution consented to
the plea of guilt to a lesser offense; and the lesser offense, which is Corruption of Public Officials in relation to Indirect Bribery, is necessarily included
in the offense charged, which is Plunder.21
The Court sees no reason why the standards applied by the Sandiganbayan to Estrada should not be applied to the present case. Records show that
there was a favorable recommendation by the Office of the Special Prosecutor to approve petitioner's motion to plea bargain. Thus, in its
Memorandum dated August 16, 2002, the Office of the Special Prosecutor rationalized:
In the cases at bar, there is no dispute that JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN has already restituted the total amount of P18,860.00 as per official receipt
issued by the provincial government of Leyte dated February 26, 2002. In short, the damage caused to the government has already been restituted
by the accused.
There is also no dispute that accused DAAN voluntarily surrendered in the instant cases. Moreover, the accused is also willing to plead guilty to a
lesser offense which to our mind, merits consideration.
With respect to the falsification cases earlier mentioned, it appears that the act of the accused in pleading guilty for a lesser offense of falsification by
private individual defined and penalized under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code will strengthen our cases against the principal accused, the
Municipal Mayor Benedicto Kuizon, who appears to be the master mind of these criminal acts. After all, the movants herein JOSELITO RANIERO J.
DAAN was merely designated as draftsman detailed as foreman/timekeeper of the Municipality of Bato, Leyte. 22
Moreover, the lesser offenses of Falsification by Private Individuals and Failure to Render Account by an Accountable Officer are necessarily included
in the crimes of Falsification of Public Documents and Malversation of Public Funds, respectively, with which petitioner was originally charged.
Under Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, for the crime of Falsification of Public Documents through an untruthful narration of facts

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to be established, the following elements must concur: (a) the offender makes in a document untruthful statements in a narration of facts; (b) the
offender has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated; (c) the facts narrated by the offender are absolutely false; and (d) the
perversion of truth in the narration of facts was made with the wrongful intent of injuring a third person. 23
On the other hand, Falsification by Private Individuals penalized under Article 172, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code has the following
elements: (a) the offender is a private individual or a public officer or employee who did not take advantage of his official position; (b) the
offender committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code; and (c) the falsification was committed in
a public or official or commercial document.24
As regards the crime of Malversation of Public Funds defined and penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, with which petitioner was
also charged, the elements are as follows: (a) the offender is a public officer; (b) he has custody or control of funds or property by reason of the duties
of his office; (c) the funds or property involved are public funds or property for which he is accountable; and (d) he has appropriated, taken or
misappropriated, or has consented to, or through abandonment or negligence permitted, the taking by another person of such funds or property. 25
Article 217 also provides that the failure of the public officer to have duly forthcoming such public funds or property, upon demand by a duly
authorized officer, "shall be prima facie evidence that he has put such missing funds or property to personal use." In this regard, it has been ruled that
once such presumption is rebutted, then it is completely destroyed; in fact, the presumption is never deemed to have existed at all. 26
Meanwhile, under Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code, Failure to Render Account by an Accountable Officer, the lesser offense which petitioner
seeks to plead guilty of, the following elements must concur: (a) the offender is a public officer; (b) the offender must be an accountable officer for
public funds or property; (c) the offender is required by law or regulation to render accounts to the COA or to a provincial auditor; and (d) the offender
fails to render an account for a period of two months after such accounts should be rendered. 27
Section 5, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court states when an offense includes or is included in the other, to wit:
SEC. 5. When an offense includes or is included in another. An offense charged necessarily includes the offense proved when some of the
essential elements or ingredients of the former, as alleged in the complaint or information, constitute the latter. And an offense charged is necessarily
included in the offense proved, when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or form part of those constituting the latter.
An offense may be said to necessarily include another when some of the essential elements or ingredients of the former as alleged in the
complaint or information constitute the latter. And vice versa, an offense may be said to be necessarily included in another when the essential
ingredients of the former constitute or form part of those constituting the latter. 28
In this case, the allegations in the Informations filed against petitioner are sufficient to hold petitioner liable for the lesser offenses. Thus, in the charge
for Falsification of Public Documents, petitioner may plead guilty to the lesser offense of Falsification by Private Individuals inasmuch as it does not
appear that petitioner took advantage of his official position in allegedly falsifying the timebook and payroll of the Municipality of Bato, Leyte. In the
same vein, with regard to the crime of Malversation of Public Funds, while the Informations contain allegations which make out a case for
Malversation against petitioner, nevertheless, absent the element of conversion, theoretically, petitioner may still be held liable for Failure to Render
Account by an Accountable Officer if it is shown that the failure to render account was in violation of a law or regulation that requires him to render
such an accounting within the prescribed period.
Given, therefore, that some of the essential elements of offenses charged in this case likewise constitute the lesser offenses, then petitioner may
plead guilty to such lesser offenses.
Finally, as propounded by petitioner, indeed, he is not an accountable officer in that the nature of his duty as foreman/timekeeper does not permit or
require possession or custody of local government funds, 29 not to mention that petitioner has already restituted the amount of P18,860.00 involved in
this case. Unlike Estrada which involves a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua to death, 30 and a whopping P25,000,000.00 taken from the public
coffers, this case tremendously pales in comparison.
Under the peculiar circumstances of the present case, where gross inequity will result in a discriminatory dispensation of justice, the Court will not
hesitate to intervene in order to equalize the imbalance.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated March 25, 2004 and May 31, 2004 are SET ASIDE. The Sandiganbayan is hereby
ORDERED to grant petitioner's Motion to Plea Bargain. Let records of this case be REMANDED to the Sandiganbayan for further proceedings in
accordance with this Decision.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 137554. October 1, 2003.]
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, vs. JOHN MAMARION, Leny Leysa (Acquitted), JULIET HARISCO, Bebot dela Rosa alias "Bebot
Villarosa" (Acquitted), Benjie Bernaje (At-large); Sergio Mendoza alias "Bambi", alias "SM", alias "Friday" (Acquitted), Ronald Porquez (Atlarge), ROLANDO V. MACLANG, CHARLITO DOMINGO, Appellants.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
This is an automatic review of the decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City (Branch 50) in Criminal Case No. 96-17590 finding appellants
John Mamarion y Hisugan, Charlito Domingo y Gorospe, Rolando Maclang y Ventura and Juliet Harisco y Carrera guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM, sentencing each of them to suffer the penalty of DEATH and to indemnify solidarily the heirs of the late
Roberta Cokin in the amount of P50,000.00.

HONRA, Lyka 7
Criminal Procedure

An Information for Kidnapping For Ransom was initially filed on March 11, 1996 against appellant Mamarion together with Amado Gale, Jr. (Gale for
brevity), Roger Biona and a John Doe 2 based on a Resolution dated March 4, 1996 issued by the Acting City Prosecutor and Assistant City
Prosecutor of Bacolod City finding probable cause against them and dismissing the charges against Ronaldo Porquez and appellants Maclang and
Harisco for insufficiency of evidence. 3
On May 9, 1996, the Information was amended to include appellant Domingo as co-accused. 4
Thereafter, a Second Amended Information was filed against appellants Mamarion, Domingo, Harisco and Maclang together with Gale, Biona, Leny
Leysa, Bebot Dela Rosa @ Bebot Villarosa, Benie Bernaje, Sergio Mendoza @ SM @ Bambi @ Friday, Ronald Porquez, John Doe, Peter Doe,
Richard Doe and Edward Doe as accused. 5 The Information reads:
That on or about July 16, 1995 or and sometime prior thereto, in the City of Bacolod, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused John Mamarion, Amado, Gale, Charlito Domingo, Roger Biona, Juliet Harisco, Leny Leysa, Bebot Dela Rosa @ Bebot
Villarosa, Benie Bernaje, Sergio Mendoza @) SM @ Bambi @ Friday, Ronald Porquez, Rolando V. Maclang, together with John Doe, Peter Doe,
Richard Doe and Edward Doe whose true names, identities and whereabouts are still unknown, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
another with the use of firearms of different calibers by means of violence against and intimidation of person, did then, and there, kidnap ROBERTA
COKIN, detain and deprive her of her liberty for the period of more than three (3) days for the purpose of extorting money in the amount of Two Million
Pesos (P2,000,000.00) from her sister, Teresita Cokin, for her (Roberta's) release and that after the pay-off was intercepted and accused John
Mamarion was arrested: as a consequence thereof, victim Roberta Cokin was inflicted multiple physical injuries on different parts of her body which
caused her death, to the damage and prejudice of her heirs.
CONTRARY TO LAW. 6
Only accused Gale and appellants Mamarion and Domingo were arraigned on January 27, 1997. The other accused remained at-large. Gale and
appellant Domingo pleaded "not guilty" while a plea of "not guilty" was entered by the trial court for appellant Mamarion as he refused to enter any
plea. 7 Trial proceeded only with respect to Gale, appellants Mamarion and Domingo.
On March 23, 1997, accused Leysa was arrested in Tondo, Manila. Upon his arraignment on April 30, 1997, he pleaded "not guilty." 8 Trial then
ensued with respect to him.
Meanwhile, accused Gale filed a motion, with the approval of the public prosecutor, seeking that he be allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense, i.e.,
from Kidnapping for Ransom to Slight Illegal Detention. 9 Acting on said motion, the trial court conferred with the victim's sister, Teresita Cokin, and
the latter agreed. 10 There being no evidence presented as yet against Gale 11 and on the condition that he will testify for the prosecution, the trial
court found no impediment to grant the motion. Gale was re-arraigned and entered a plea of guilty to Slight Illegal Detention. Accordingly, the trial
court rendered a Decision dated May 13, 1997, sentencing Amado Gale as follows:
In view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Amado Gale, Jr. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Slight Illegal Detention defined
and penalized under Art. 268 of the Revised Penal Code, and taking into consideration the mitigating circumstances of no intention to commit so
grave a wrong and voluntary surrender, without any aggravating circumstance, the penalty that should be imposed on the accused is prision mayor in
its maximum period. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the accused is sentenced to suffer the penalty of 4 years, 2 months and 1 day of
prision correccional as minimum, to 10 years of prision mayor as maximum. 12
On July 7, 1997, accused Villarosa was arraigned and pleaded "not guilty," 13 and trial proceeded with regard to him.
Accused Biona was killed some time in October 1997 during an encounter with the military in Metro Manila. 14
Accused Mendoza was arrested on October 6, 1997, 15 and on October 27, 1997, he was arraigned, to which he pleaded "not guilty." 16 The last to
be arrested were appellants Maclang and Harisco who were brought to court for arraignment on November 7, 1997 and both pleaded "not guilty." 17
Joint trial was held with regard to these three accused. 18
Based on the evidence presented before it, the trial court made the following findings of facts surrounding the kidnapping for ransom and death of
Roberta Cokin:
. . . Roberta Cokin, nicknamed Obing, is a rich Filipino-Chinese businesswoman with business interests in Bacolod City and in the province and City
of Iloilo. These varied business interest include a grocery store, commercial buildings, real estate and agricultural landholdings. Roberta or "Obing" as
she is fondly called, lives together with her only surviving sister, Teresita Cokin, in their house at Mercedes St., in Bacolod City. Both Roberta and
Teresita are spinsters.
xxx xxx xxx
At about 11:45 in the evening of July 15, 1995, Roberta passed by her cockfarm situated in front of the Bacolod City National High School along
Libertad Street (now Henares Street) in Bacolod City. She came from the Tangub cockpit where she attended a cockfight and she was alone driving
by herself a Toyota Hi-Lux pick-up.
Roberta never made it home. A group of armed men came and took away Roberta and her pick-up. On the following morning, Teresita Cokin,
Roberta's younger sister, saw the abandoned Hi-Lux pick-up in front of the San Sebastian Cathedral. Later, Teresita received a telephone call from
one identifying himself as Bravo, informing her that Roberta was kidnapped and would be released only after a One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00)
ransom is paid.
Andres Sumpay, the nephew of Roberta Cokin, was at the Cokin grocery early in the morning of July 15, 1995. He was minding the store when he
noticed a man pacing the sidewalk in front of the store. The man later identified as the accused John Mamarion, handed over to Andres a plastic bag
containing some papers. When this bag was later opened by Teresita Cokin, it contained the driver's license of Roberta. Inserted in the jacket cover of
the driver's license of Roberta (Exh. I), is the ransom note (Exh J), a piece of yellow pad paper on which appears, in Roberta's own handwriting, the
following:
Teresita, please give the bearer One Million (P1,000,000.00) for I am kidnap by them. Don't tell the police or any law enforcer for my security reason."

HONRA, Lyka 8
Criminal Procedure

(Sgd) Obing. "Please produce immediately. Same"


Teresita had in mind to follow Obing's instruction and keep the police out of the incident but without her knowledge, her nephew, Andres Sumpay, with
the help of a family friend a retired policeman Graciano Reyes, reported the kidnapping to the NBI. Teresita was at first furious when the NBI started
to investigate but as she could do nothing more, she accepted and welcomed the NBI's intervention.
The NBI sought the assistance of the Bacolod Anti-Syndicated Crime Unit (BASCU) a unit of the Bacolod City Police specifically organized for the
purpose of going after syndicated crimes and big-time criminals. The NBI set up shop in the house of Cokin and monitored the calls made by the
kidnappers.
When Bravo made follow-up calls for the payment of the ransom money, Teresita, following the instructions of the NBI, demanded that she be allowed
to talk with her sister. Teresita heard the voice of Roberta over the telephone but their conversation was very brief. All that Roberta said was for her
sister to be obedient to the wishes of her kidnappers. Bravo thereafter told Teresita that the ransom money is raised to Two Million Pesos
(P2,000,000.00). The NBI monitoring the call failed to trace its origin as the call was made with the use of a cellular telephone.
Bravo's last call was made in the afternoon of July 20, 1995. Teresita had already raised the amount of Two Million Pesos (P2,000,000.00) in cash
and Bravo wants the money to be delivered at the Holiday Restaurant in the place which is known as the Shopping Center. The person who is
carrying the money should wear a red cap and the money should be given to one who will identify himself as Bravo. The pay-off time was at 5:30 p.m.
The NBI and the BASCU laid out a plan to apprehend the kidnappers and recover the ransom money during the pay-off. An NBI agent, Ed Rasco,
together with a Bacolod City policeman, concealed themselves inside the KC-20 pick-up car driven by Mario Mahusay when the latter left to deliver
the ransom money. Other BASCU personnel posted themselves at strategic places around Holiday Restaurant.
Mario Mahusay was very conspicuous with his red cap inside the Holiday Restaurant at about 5:30 p.m. that day, July 20, 1995. When the
restaurant's telephone rung, Mario was told that someone would like to talk with him. It was Bravo on the other end of the line and he instructed Mario
to take a taxi and proceed to the Tops Bowling Lanes which is about a little less than a kilometer away.
Fortuitously, a taxi was on hand when Mario stepped out of the restaurant. Mario boarded the taxi and it immediately sped away.
The NBI and the BASCU men were caught unprepared by the sudden turn of events. Their communication system heated up with frenzied calls and
instructions. Jumping on their vehicles, they sped northward following the route taken by the taxi.
The taxi, with Mario Mahusay on board, stopped in front of Tops Bowling Lanes and Mario alighted. He went inside the building and waited. He did not
wait long as in a few moments, a man came and identified himself as Bravo. Mario delivered the bags containing the Two Million Pesos
(P2,000,000.00) to the man who took them. The man gave Mario P50.00 and they both left the premises of Tops.
The BASCU team, on board their service vehicle, found no trace of the taxi. They proceeded to the Ceres bus terminal at the Shopping Center and
looked over the buses and the passengers hoping to find suspicious looking characters. Not finding any, they again boarded their service vehicle and
moved towards the direction of the Queen of Peace Church (Hua Ming Church). The church is just near the Top's Bowling Alley.
Before the BASCU team could reach the vicinity of the church, they chanced upon a man with a bag walking hurriedly. When accosted, the man fired
at the BASCU team. After a brief firefight and the explosion of a grenade, the man was subdued. The bags containing the ransom money were
recovered. The BASCU team also took from the man a .357 caliber homemade revolver with ammunitions and a holster (Exhs. A, B, C and D). The
man was later identified as John Mamarion.
xxx xxx xxx
The firearm recovered from Mamarion (Exh. A) was marked by Office Tubongbanua with the initial "JM" and it was indorsed to the NBI together with
the live ammunitions (Exh. B), the spent shells (Exh. C) and the holster (Exh. D). The bags containing the ransom money was also turned over to the
NBI.
xxx xxx xxx
The remains of Obing Cokin was discovered in a shallow grave in a secluded area of a sugarcane plantation in the town of Anilao, Iloilo on August 7,
1995. . . .
xxx xxx xxx
Teresita Cokin positively identified the corpse to be that of her elder sister, Obing. There is absolutely no doubt in this identification as Teresita is
intimately familiar with the features of her sister, including her dentures. Moreover, she knew the blouse of Obing which has a red and white fish
design and a long sleeve. Accordingly, Teresita executed an affidavit of identification allowing Dr. Ricardo H. Jaboneta, Medico-Legal Officer of the
NBI to autopsy the remains of Roberta Cokin.
xxx xxx xxx
Roberta died of "Traumatic shock, secondary to multiple physical injuries". The autopsy was conducted on August 8, 1995. Dr. Jaboneta opines that
Roberta died not earlier than August 1, 1995 and not later then August 5, 1995. 19
The trial court relied principally on the testimony of Gale together with the corroborating testimonies of the other prosecution witnesses, namely:
Andres Sumpay, Teresita Cokin and Mario Mahusay as to appellant Mamarion, establishing the participation of appellants in the commission of the
crime of Kidnapping with Ransom, as follows:
(1)
June 18, 1995 accused Ronaldo Porquez (at-large) together with appellants John Mamarion and Charlito Domingo, John's brother, Felipe
"Oloy" Mamarion 20 and Gale, held a meeting at the Ocean City Restaurant in Iloilo City wherein Porquez introduced the plan of kidnapping Roberta
Cokin for the ransom of one million pesos to be participated in by the group as follows Porquez will finance the operation in Iloilo City, Gale will
identify the victim and monitor her activities and the brothers Mamarion and Domingo were the ones who will abduct the victim; 21

HONRA, Lyka 9
Criminal Procedure

(2)
June 19 to 22, 1995 the group, consisting of the brothers Mamarion, Domingo and Gale, went around Iloilo and Bacolod City looking for a
safehouse but was not successful; while they were in Bacolod City, the group used the Mitsubishi Lancer driven by Gale and owned by his cousin,
Atty. Tranquilino Gale; 22
(3)
June 22, 1995 Gale met appellant Maclang for the first time in appellant Harisco's duplex in Capitol Heights, Bacolod City; in the afternoon
of the same day, Bale, Oloy Mamarion, appellants Mamarion and Domingo proceeded to Harisco's store in Gatuslao-Gonzaga street, where appellant
Harisco gave money to appellant Mamarion; they then went to Bata, Taculing and Mansilingan, looking for a safehouse; finding none, Gale brought
them back to the duplex in Capitol Heights and appellant Maclang paid him P500.00 for his services; 23
(4)
June 23, 1995 Gale brought the group to Banago wharf and he was instructed by appellant Mamarion to come back for them in the morning
of July 3, 1995; 24
(5)

July 3, 1995 Accused Biona, came into the picture; he arrived from Manila and was in camouflage uniform and armed; 25

(6)
July 6, 1995 a meeting was again held at the Ocean City Restaurant; Porquez informed Gale, the brothers Mamarion, Domingo, and Biona
that the kidnapping will take place in Bacolod City and that appellants Maclang and Harisco will provide the funds in Bacolod City; 26
(7)
July 10, 1995 at 5:30 in the morning, the group had a breakfast meeting in Harisco's duplex, and appellants Maclang and Harisco gave
"instructions" to the group; Maclang informed the group that Roberta Cokin will be abducted at the Tangub cockpit on July 15, 1995 while Harisco said
that it will be appellant Mamarion who will get Roberta as they trust him, and she will finance the operation; Harisco then borrowed the Lancer from
Gale for 4 days, paid Gale P2,000.00 as rent, and told Gale that his services will not be needed in the interim; appellant Mamarion told Gale to be
back on July 14, 1995; 27
(8)

July 15, 1995

3:00 p.m. Appellants Mamarion and Domingo, alias "Jack", Biona, two unidentified persons and Gale met in the public plaza, as
agreed upon; Gale was instructed by Mamarion to drive to Tangub cockpit; on the way there, Domingo and Oloy Mamarion alighted at Goldenfield;
upon reaching the cockpit, appellant Mamarion and Biona went down and Gale was instructed by appellant Mamarion to come back at 8:00 p.m.; 28
8:00 p.m. Gale fetched appellant Mamarion and Biona, and they proceeded to Goldenfield where Gale saw Oloy Mamarion and
appellant Domingo having drinks at an open-space store; 29
11:00 p.m. Gale heard appellant Mamarion receive a message on his handset from a female voice, after which they left Goldenfield;
while in traffic, they saw the white Hi-Lux pick-up of Roberta Cokin which they tailed; when they reached Cokin's cock farm in front of the Bacolod City
High School, they saw her unloading several boxes and appellant Mamarion told Gale to park 20-25 meters away; appellants Mamarion and Domingo
then got off the car and proceeded towards Cokin's pick-up while Biona told Gale to move away; they parked in Libertad Street and stayed there for
20 minutes; when Biona received a message in his handset, he told Gale to leave Libertad Street and when they passed by the cockfarm, Cokin's
pick-up was no longer there; they proceeded to a newly-cemented portion between Homesite and Bata Subdivision, and saw Cokin's pick-up there;
appellant Mamarion was holding Cokin's right hand while appellant Domingo was holding her left; she was struggling to free herself; upon seeing this,
Gale cried as he took pity on Cokin; Gale was told to transfer to the victim's pick-up and together with Oloy Mamarion, they parked the pick-up in front
of the Bacolod Cathedral; they alighted and went to the State Theater; meanwhile, appellants Mamarion and Domingo together with Biona, who were
in the Lancer previously driven by Gale, proceeded towards Homesite; after an hour, appellant Mamarion arrived at the State Theater on board the
Lancer, and Oloy Mamarion and Gale boarded the car; they went to a small house situated on a vacant lot in Homesite; appellant Mamarion left; 30
(9)

July 16, 1995

6:00 a.m. Appellant Mamarion came back, and with Gale and Oloy Mamarion, they went to Harisco's duplex; Gale remained in the
car; appellant Mamarion came back and they picked up appellant Domingo; the three drove to the Cokin building in Lopez Jaena-Libertad Street, and
parked along the street; Gale stayed behind in the car while appellants Mamarion and Domingo alighted; Domingo was holding a piece of yellow
paper; shortly thereafter, the two came back and Domingo mentioned that the person who received the note was mestizo-looking; they proceeded to
the public plaza and Gale saw appellant Mamarion talking in a public phone booth at Gonzaga street; 31
at around 6:00 a.m., Andres Sumpay noticed a man wearing a cap, pacing back and forth in front of the Cokin Grocery; the man
handed to him a plastic bag containing some papers which he later found out to be the driver's license of the victim; he gave the bag to Cokin's house
helper, and told her to give it to Teresita Cokin; Andres Sumpay later identified the man as appellant Mamarion; 32
Teresita Cokin, after attending the 5:00 a.m. mass at the San Sebastian Cathedral, saw Roberta's pick-up in front of the church; when
she got home she received a phone call from a certain Bravo who asked her if she got the ransom note with the victim's driver's license; she asked
Andres Sumpay about it, and he told her that he gave it to Amparing, who placed it on the table; she then got the drivers license and ransom note; 33
after appellant Mamarion used the public phone, he went back to the car and told Gale that he talked to Teresita who got angry
because there was blood in the pick-up; they went to Tops Bowling Lanes on 6th Street and appellant Mamarion alighted and went inside; when
appellant Mamarion went back to the car, he told Gale that Teresita was still angry; they returned to the vacant lot and waited until evening; Gale told
appellant Mamarion that the Lancer's papers are ready and he has to leave on the 18th to bring it to Manila; he referred Benjie Bernaje as the one
who will substitute him in driving them around; 34
(10) July 17, 1995 Gale and appellant Mamarion went to see Bernaje, who agreed to substitute for Gale; on the way to Banago wharf, they
stopped by Tops Bowling Lanes where appellant Mamarion made another phone call to Teresita, asking if the money is ready; in Banago, appellant
Mamarion gave the Lancer's key to Gale, and told Gale that he is going to Iloilo; 35
(11)

July 19, 1995


Gale, together with the Lancer, arrived in Manila in the afternoon, and proceeded to Atty. Tranquilino Gale's house in Alabang; 36

Teresita Cokin received another phone call from Bravo; she was able to talk to Roberta who told her to obey her captor's wishes;
Bravo told her that they are raising the ransom amount to 2 million pesos; 37

HONRA, Lyka 10
Criminal Procedure

(12) July 20, 1995 Mario Mahusay, the Cokin's driver, handed the ransom money to a man wearing a red cap who identified himself as Bravo, at
the Tops Bowling Lanes; Mahusay later pointed to appellant Mamarion as the man who posed as Bravo; members of the Bacolod Anti-Syndicated
Crime Unit (BASCU) team who were monitoring the pay-off apprehended appellant Mamarion in front of the Hua Ming Church after a brief gun fight;
38
The trial court found appellants Mamarion, Domingo, Maclang and Harisco guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping with Ransom in
its Decision dated October 7, 1998, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
FOR ALL THE FOREGOING, this Court Finds the accused JOHN MAMARION y HISUGAN and CHARLITO DOMINGO y GOROSPE GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt as PRINCIPAL BY DIRECT PARTICIPATION and the accused ROLANDO MACLANG y VENTURA and JULIET HARISCO
y CARRERA GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as PRINCIPALS BY INDUCEMENT and all of them as CO-CONSPIRATORS of the crime of
KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM defined and penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code as amended. They are all sentenced to suffer the
supreme penalty of DEATH. By way of civil liability, they are all ordered to pay solidarily the heirs of the late Roberta Cokin the sum of Fifty Thousand
Pesos (P50,000.00) as indemnification for her death.
The accused JOSE VILLAROSA, LENY LEYSA and SERGIO MENDOZA are all acquitted as their guilt have not been proved beyond reasonable
doubt. Their immediate release is ordered unless they are detained for some other cause. 39
Hence, this automatic review pursuant to Article 47 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
In their respective briefs, appellants raise the following assignments of errors, to wit:
For appellant John Mamarion:
1.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE TESTIMONY OF AMADO GALE, JR. AGAINST ACCUSED JOHN MAMARION.

2.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING ACCUSED JOHN MAMARION GUILTY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF
KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM AND FOR THE DEATH OF ROBERTA COKIN. 40
For appellant Charlito Domingo:
1.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF PROSECUTION WITNESSES.

2.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISCREDITING THE TESTIMONIES AND EVIDENCE FOR APPELLANT CHARLITO DOMINGO,
PARTICULARLY HIS DEFENSE OF ALIBI.
3.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING APPELLANT CHARLITO DOMINGO ON REASONABLE DOUBT. 41

For appellant Juliet Harisco:


I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING JULIET HARISCO OF KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM AND SENTENCING HER TO DEATH WITHOUT
SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE.
A.1

PARTICIPATION AS PRINCIPAL BY INDUCEMENT AND CONSPIRACY ON THE PART OF JULIET HARISCO ARE NOT ESTABLISHED.

A.2
AMADO GALE IS A POLLUTED AND INCREDIBLE WITNESS, WHOSE TESTIMONY IS NOT CORROBORATED BY ANY OTHER
EVIDENCE.
A.3 THE TESTIMONY OF AMADO GALE, A CONFESS (sic) CO-CONSPIRATOR IS NOT ADMISSIBLE IN THE ABSENCE OF INDEPENDENT
EVIDENCE OF CONSPIRACY.
B.
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN ADMITTING AS SINCERE, CREDIBLE AND TRUTHFUL THE TESTIMONY OF AMADO GALE, AN
ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN THE PLANNING AND ACTUAL KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM OF HER FORMER EMPLOYER, ROBERTA COKIN,
DESPITE THE MANY INCONSISTENCIES ON MATERIAL POINTS.
C.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED JULIET HARISCO ON THE BASIS OF THE SOLE AND UNCORROBORATED
TESTIMONY OF AMADO GALE DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE LATTER FAILED ON TWO (2) OCCASIONS TO IDENTIFY HER PERSON.
D.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ARBITRARILY ACCEPTING HOOK, LINE AND SINKER THE EXPLANATION OF AMADO GALE THAT HE
DID NOT IDENTIFY ACCUSED JULIET HARISCO (AND CO-ACCUSED ROLANDO MACLANG) BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID FOR HIS LIFE AND
THAT OF HIS FAMILY.
E.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF JOE JOVEN AND JOI SIMPAS, BJMP SECURITY
ESCORTS OF AMADO GALE DURING THE AUGUST 8, 1996 REINVESTIGATION, WHO TESTIFIED THAT, DURING AFORESAID HEARING IN
ILOILO CITY, AMADO GALE ACTED NORMALLY AND DID NOT APPEAR TO BE NERVOUS OR APPREHENSIVE AND FURTHERMORE, THAT
AMADO GALE DID NOT GO TO THE COMFORT ROOM AS HE ALLEGED WHERE HE WAS HANDED A WRITTEN DEATH THREAT.
F.
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED 1N CONVICTING ACCUSED JULIET HARISCO DESPITE THE PROSECUTION'S FAILURE TO ESTABLISH
MOTIVE ON HER PART FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE CRIME CHARGED.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING JULIET HARISCO BASED ON REASONABLE DOUBT AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL
PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE IN HER FAVOR.

HONRA, Lyka 11
Criminal Procedure

III
THE CONVICTION OF JULIET HARISCO IS A GROSS INJUSTICE THAT REQUIRES IMMEDIATE VINDICATION AND RECTIFICATION BY THE
EARLY RESOLUTION OF HER APPEAL.
IV
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT GRANTING NEW TRIAL. 42
For appellant Rolando Maclang:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ALLOWING PRINCIPAL ACCUSED AMADO GALE TO CHANGE HIS PLEA OF NOT GUILTY TO A LESSER
OFFENSE OF SLIGHT ILLEGAL DETENTION IN CONSIDERATION OF HIS UNDERTAKING TO TESTIFY AS ONE OF THE PROSECUTION
WITNESSES.
II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED, ROLANDO V. MACLANG BASED ON THE UNCORROBORATED TESTIMONY OF
PRINCIPAL ACCUSED TURNED PROSECUTION WITNESS, AMADO GALE, WHOSE PREVIOUS TESTIMONY IN THE PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION STAGE WAS TOTALLY REJECTED BY THE TWO (2) SETS OF INVESTIGATORS, AND WAS NOT MADE THE BASIS OF
INDICTING THE ACCUSED.
III
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE TESTIMONY OF PRINCIPAL ACCUSED TURNED PROSECUTION WITNESS AMADO GALE
IS ENTITLED TO FULL FAITH AND CREDIT. 43
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) supports the convictions handed down by the trial court. However, it recommends that the award of civil
indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00 should be shouldered by each of the appellants, following the award made by the Court in People vs. Yambot,
G.R. No. 120350, October 13, 2000. 44
The Court will first determine whether or not the trial court erred in allowing Gale to plead to a lesser offense in consideration of testifying as a
prosecution witness.
Appellants assail Gale's plea to a lesser offense arguing that it should have been made during the plea bargaining stage of the trial and that it should
not be subject to the condition that he will testify against appellants. In the Brief for the State, the OSG maintains that Gale was validly discharged as
a state witness. Under the circumstances, it is not correct to state that Gale was discharged as a state witness under Section 9, Rule 119 of the Rules
of Court. Gale was allowed to change his plea pursuant to the then prevailing Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court, 45 which provided:
Sec. 2.
Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. The accused, with the consent of the offended party and the fiscal, may be allowed by the trial court
to plead guilty to a lesser offense, regardless of whether or not it is necessarily included in the crime charges, or is cognizable by a court of lesser
jurisdiction than the trial court. No amendment of the complaint or information is necessary.
A conviction under this plea, shall be equivalent to a conviction of the offense charged for purposes of double jeopardy.
Records show that during the May 13, 1997 hearing, the Chief State Prosecutor manifested that he has approved Gale's motion to be allowed to
plead to a lesser offense, i.e. Slight Illegal Detention. 46 Private complainant Teresita Cokin, upon query of the trial court, consented to Gale's offer of
plea to a lesser offense Slight Illegal Detention. 47
It is immaterial that said plea was not made during the pre-trial stage or that it was made only after the prosecution already presented several
witnesses. In People vs. Villarama, Jr., 48 a 1992 case, the trial court allowed the accused therein to change his plea even after the prosecution had
rested its case, applying the herein above-quoted Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court. The Court elucidated, thus:
Plea bargaining in criminal cases, is a process whereby the accused and the prosecution work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case
subject to court approval. It usually involves the defendant's pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to only one or some of the counts of a multi-count
indictment in return for a lighter sentence than that for the graver charge. Ordinarily, plea-bargaining is made during the pre-trial stage of the criminal
proceedings. However, the law still permits the accused sufficient opportunity to change his plea thereafter. Thus, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court,
Section 2 thereof, provides:
xxx xxx xxx
However, the acceptance of an offer to plead guilty to a lesser offense under the aforequoted rule is not demandable by the accused as a matter of
right but is a matter that is addressed entirely to the sound discretion of the trial court.
In the case at bar, the private respondent (accused) moved to plead guilty to a lesser offense after the prosecution had already rested its case. In
such situation, jurisprudence has provided the trial court and the Office of the Prosecutor with a yardstick within which their discretion may be properly
exercised. Thus, in People vs. Kayanan, we held that the rules allow such a plea only when the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to
establish the guilt of the crime charged. 49 (Emphasis supplied)
Gale's testimony was crucial to the prosecution as there was no other direct evidence linking appellants to the commission of the crime. Hence, the
trial court did not err in allowing Gale to plead guilty to a lesser offense.
The Court will now determine: (1) whether or not the trial court erred in giving full faith and credit to the testimony of Gale; and (2) whether or not the
participation and conspiracy of the four appellants in the commission of the crime of Kidnapping for Ransom had been proved beyond reasonable

HONRA, Lyka 12
Criminal Procedure

doubt.
On the first issue:
As a general rule, the testimony of a co-conspirator is not sufficient for the conviction of the accused unless other evidence supports such testimony.
50 There is, however, an exception to said rule. In People vs. Sala, 51 the Court said:
It is true that the testimony of a co-conspirator is not sufficient for the conviction of the accused unless such testimony is supported by other evidence.
Such testimony comes from a polluted source and, therefore, must be received with caution. As an exception, however, the testimony of a coconspirator, even if uncorroborated, will be considered sufficient if given in a straightforward manner and it contains details which could not have been
the result of deliberate afterthought. 52 (Emphasis supplied)
In upholding the credibility of Gale, the trial court stated in its decision, thus:
The testimony of Amado Gale on how the conspiracy to kidnap Roberta Cokin was hatched and implemented resounds with all the earmarks of
sincerity and truth. His testimony is sox (sic) rich with details of persons, time, places and things and portrays with vivid imagery the action and the
happenings as he saw them. This is the kind of testimony that carries the hallmarks of honesty and truth.
Testimonies which are unequivocal, forthright and replete with details are seals of self-authentication in their credibility.
Moreover, Amado Gale is only a driver whose educational attainment is only Grade II. It will require a good measure of ingenuity to invent a story of
kidnapping, abundant with all the gory details, an ingenuity which Amado certainly do (sic) not possess. 53 . . .
Appellants take exception to such finding arguing that the prosecutors had previously rejected Gale's testimony during the second re-investigation
and his testimony is incredible and full of inconsistencies. The Court is not convinced.
The trial court's assessment of Gale as a credible witness and the credibility of his testimony is binding upon the Court. This is so because the trial
court had the opportunity to observe and examine the witness' conduct and demeanor on the witness stand, having personally heard and observed
him, and thus, it is in a better position to decide the question of his credibility. 54
A perusal of the transcripts of Gale's testimony confirms the trial court's assessment. Notably, Gale testified twice. The first time was against
appellants Mamarion and Domingo as well as accused Villarosa and Leysa. The second instance was against appellants Maclang and Harisco, and,
accused Mendoza. All throughout his testimony, his narration of the events, from the moment he was first taken in by the group on June 18, 1995 up
to the time he was fetched by his wife and the authorities in Laguna on September 25, 1995, Gale was consistent in his account. Even during the
rigorous cross-examination conducted by appellants' counsel, Gale was steadfast in his account of the commission of the crime and the participation
of all appellants.
The fact that the trial court found the testimony of another prosecution witness Ruperto Legarda, Jr. to be replete with inconsistencies and
incongruities pertaining to significant and important details and "suffers from serious improbabilities" does not lessen the credibility of Gale.
The testimony of Gale, sans that of Legarda, Jr., is sufficient to convict appellants. Truth is established not by the number of witnesses but by the
quality of their testimonies. 55 The testimony of a single witness if positive and credible is sufficient to support a conviction, as convictions rest not on
the number of witnesses, but on the credibility of the testimony of even one witness who is able to convince the court of the guilt of the accused
beyond a shadow of doubt. 56
Appellants Maclang and Harisco insist that Gale's testimony is incredible and replete with inconsistencies. They maintain that Gale was inconsistent
when: (1) he testified on July 7, 1997 that he saw Maclang for the first time in the morning of June 22, 1995 at the duplex seated at the balcony; while
during his December 17, 1997 testimony, he said that when he fetched Mamarion's group on June 22, 1995 at the duplex, he saw Maclang seated on
the chair facing the table, and that he already knew Maclang because the latter used to attend occasions hosted by Porquez for whom Gale used to
work; 57 (2) he did not state in his July 7, 1997 testimony when and where the kidnapping will take place as discussed during their July 10, 1995
meeting; while in his December 17, 1997 testimony, he specified that Maclang said on July 10, 1995 that Roberta Cokin will be kidnapped on July 15,
1995 at the Tangub cockpit; 58 and (3) during the August 8, 1996 re-investigation, he said that Mamarion and Roger Biona informed him that the
duplex house was owned by appellant Harisco, while when further examined, he said that he found out that the duplex was owned by Harisco only
after his affidavit was taken. 59
These alleged inconsistencies, if they can be considered as such, are negligible and merely refer to minor details that do not bear relevance on the
material and significant fact that appellants were part of the group which concocted and carried out the kidnapping of Roberta Cokin.
Moreover, while it is true that, Gale did not state during his July 7, 1997 testimony that the details of the kidnapping were discussed during the group's
July 10, 1995 breakfast meeting at the duplex house, it is because the prosecution did not ask him particularly as to what took place during such
breakfast conference. What was asked of him during that portion of his direct examination merely pertained to his companions at that time, thus:

Q
Now, on July 10, 1995 in the morning, where were you?
WITNESS:
A
On July 10, I went to the Duplex house to fetch John Mamarion alias "Oloy" and Roger Biona. And that was the time I recognized Juliet
Harisco.
ATTY. BANZON:
Q
Now, in that breakfast conference with Major Maclang and Juliet Harisco on July 10, 1995, who were the other persons present in the morning
of July 10, 1995?
A
I saw some people. Some people are matured and some are young. I don't know their names but I can recognize them by face if I saw again.
Q
How about John Mamarion, Felipe "Oloy" Mamarion, alias "Jack" and Roger Biona, were they also in that conference?
WITNESS:
A
Yes, sir, they were present while Major Maclang and Juliet Harisco instructed them while they were eating their breakfast.
Q
Now, Mr. Gale, after that breakfast conference on July 10, 1995, do you know where did you proceed?
WITNESS:
A
After the breakfast conference, Juliet Harisco told me that she will borrow or rent the car for four (4) days. She will pay the car Five Hundred
(P500.00) Pesos, a day, because they are going to North Negros for a very confidential transaction and I am not needed. 60

HONRA, Lyka 13
Criminal Procedure

Obviously, Gale could not have testified as to the details of their breakfast meeting because proper questions on direct examination were not
propounded by the prosecution. The above-quoted testimony cannot be considered an inconsistency but rather it is the result of an omission on the
part of the prosecutor who conducted the direct examination. It must be emphasized that a response to a question is not to be isolated in relation to
other queries and answers thereto. 61 The rule is that testimonies must be taken in their entirety. 62
Thus, during the cross-examination of Gale by counsel for Mamarion on July 24, 1997, the Court finds that Gale elucidated on the participation of
appellant Maclang, viz.:
ATTY. ROMERO:
Q
You testified here that while in Bacolod City, there was an occasion that you ate breakfast at the duplex house at Capitol Heights, wherein
Rolando Maclang, during that breakfast suggested that the kidnapping of Roberta Cokin will be in Bacolod City?
A
Yes, sir.
ATTY. ROMERO:
Q
And during that meeting, what Major Maclang had only told you group that the kidnapping will be in Bacolod City, and that is all?
COURT:
Only "said". Maclang said.
WITNESS:
A
Yes, sir.
ATTY. ROMERO:
Q
And that was all that Maclang said in that meeting?
A
There were many other things.
xxx xxx xxx
ATTY. ROMERO:
Q
Now, in Iloilo City, what was told to you by Ronal Porquez was that, "We will kidnap a certain businesswoman in Bacolod City". And while in
Bacolod, it was Rolando Maclang who finally decided that the kidnapping will be held in Bacolod City. That is your testimony here in court, is that
correct?
xxx xxx xxx
WITNESS:
A
Yes, sir.
xxx xxx xxx
COURT:
Q
Porquez in that meeting in Iloilo never mentioned Rolando Maclang and to be the person who will meet you here in Bacolod City? Is that
correct or not?
A
Yes, he has mentioned that.
ATTY. ROMERO:
Q
What was the statement about Rolando Maclang made by Roland Porquez?
WITNESS:
A
That here in Bacolod, everything will be taken cared of by Major Maclang. 63
This is further reinforced when Gale testified about the participation of appellants Maclang and Harisco on December 17, 1997, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
Q
Now, after arriving at Bacolod City on July 8, 1995, where did you and your group proceed?
A
We proceed directly to the duplex house at Capitol Heights, where Rolando Maclang and Juliet Harisco live.
xxx xxx xxx
ATTY. BANZON:
Q
So what happened, when you arrived at the duplex house from San Carlos on July 8, 1995?
A
John Mamarion, Carlito Domingo, Roger Biona, and Oloy Mamarion alighted, and then I proceeded to Mansilingan. They instructed me again
to come back the following day, that is already July 9, 1995.
Q
Now, as instructed by them, were you able to fetch them in the morning of July 9, 1995 at the duplex house?
A
Yes, sir.
Q
After fetching them in the morning of July 9, 1995, where did you and your group proceed?
WITNESS:
A
We went around the city to look for a safehouse. We proceeded to Goldenfield, Mansiligan, Airport, and Tangub, until they decided to go back
to the duplex . . .
xxx xxx xxx
A
We went back to the duplex house at Capitol Heights. John Mamarion instructed me again to fetch them early in the morning the following day.
Q
Now, on July 10, 1995 in the morning, as instructed by John Mamarion, were you able to fetch them?
A
In the morning I went back to the duplex house and when I arrived there, Juliet Harisco and Rolando Maclang were there as well as the group.
We took our breakfast there and had a meeting.
Q
Now, in that breakfast meeting where you also attended and participated on July 10, 1995, who are present?
A
Major Maclang, Juliet Harisco, John Mamarion, Roger Biona, Charlito Domingo, Oloy Mamarion and myself, and some young persons whom I
do not know, but I could identify them if ever I could see them.
ATTY. BANZON:
Q
Now, what transpired in the breakfast meeting that you said you attended on the morning of July 10, 1995 with Major Maclang and Juliet
Harisco among others?
A
Major Maclang told us that Roberta Cokin will be kidnapped at the cockpit of Tangub.
Q
What else has transpired in that breakfast meeting?
A
In the course of our meeting, Juliet Harisco stated further that John Mamarion will be the one to get Roberta Cokin because they trust John
Mamarion, and she will be the one to finance. She told me that only the group will go, and that I will not go with them. So, I told them that if ever they
will use the car, they have to pay me in advance the amount of P500.00 pesos per day because they will use the car for four (4) days.
Q
What else happened in that breakfast meeting?
A
Juliet Harisco stated further that they will go to Central Market, and that I will follow them.
Q
When you said they will leave for the Central Market, and your group will follow them, who were those are you referring to?
WITNESS:
A
John Mamarion, Charlito Domingo, Roger Biona and myself. It was Juliet Harisco who instructed us to follow them because we will get the
money and the group, composed of John Mamarion, Charlito Domingo, Roger Biona, Oloy Mamarion and myself will get the money in the amount of
P2,000.00 pesos from her.
Q
Were you able to receive that P2,000.00 pesos from Juliet Harisco on July 10, 1995?
A
Yes, sir. After I received the P2,000.00 pesos, they proceeded north, but they dropped me at the corner of Pepsi/Bata because John Mamarion
told me that I could not go with them as their travel is confidential. He instructed me that I have to wait again in that same place where they dropped
me on July 14, 1995 when they will return the vehicle.
COURT:
Q
This P2,000.00 pesos represents the advance rental of the vehicle?
WITNESS:
A
Yes, Your Honor.
ATTY. BANZON:
Q
Now, let's go back to that breakfast meeting on July 10, 1995. You said earlier in your direct testimony that Major Maclang told you and the
group that Roberta Cokin would be kidnapped in the . . . at the Tangub cockpit. My question is, was there a date mentioned as to when the kidnap
should be effected or made?

HONRA, Lyka 14
Criminal Procedure

WITNESS:
A
Yes, sir. Because he knew that Roberta Cokin would be joining the derby.
Q
What date?
A
July 15, 1995. But he stated further that whatever happens, he will not be pointed to as a participant in the kidnapping. 64 (Emphasis supplied)
Furthermore, while it is true that the names of Maclang and Harisco do not appear in the affidavits previously executed by Gale and that the latter
failed to identify them during the re-investigation of the case, still, they were specifically pointed out and unequivocally identified by Gale during the
trial as those who were with the group when the plan to kidnap the victim was hatched. Such testimony prevails over the affidavits which Gale
previously executed. It is settled that whenever there is inconsistency between the affidavit and the testimony of a witness in court, the testimony
commands greater weight considering that affidavits taken ex parte are inferior to testimony given in court, the former being almost invariably
incomplete and oftentimes inaccurate. 65
Moreover, delay in revealing the identity of the perpetrators of a crime does not necessarily impair the credibility of a witness, especially where the
delay is explained. 66 Gale was able to satisfactorily explain why he did not name or identify Maclang and Harisco in his affidavits and during the reinvestigation of the case. On cross-examination by counsel for appellant Maclang, Gale staunchly declared: "I purposely did not make mention of
Major Maclang because the person who was taking my affidavit was a policeman and I am afraid because Major Maclang was also a policeman, I
was afraid because even Oloy Mamarion, our companion was even killed." 67 Gale further explained that he was afraid because Major Maclang and
Juliet Harisco have warned him not to implicate them. 68 Upon further questioning, Gale stated that he was not afraid anymore "because when my
family had already left, I trusted myself to the Lord and I said to myself that I will tell the truth." 69 Thus, the omission of the names of appellants
Maclang and Harisco by Gale in his affidavits does not demolish his credibility when he subsequently implicated them on the witness stand.
Witnesses are usually reluctant to volunteer information about a criminal case or are unwilling to be involved in or dragged into criminal investigations
due to a variety of valid reasons. 70 Fear of the criminal is one such reason. 71 On that account, Gale's fear was not without basis. In his testimony
Gale revealed that on July 23, 1995, after arriving from Manila, several armed men went to his house in Old Escalante at around 11:00 p.m., and
looked for him, but he hid. 72 Meanwhile, his wife who likewise came from Manila on the same day, dropped by Benjie Bernaje's house, and there,
Bernaje's' maid handed her a note coming from John Mamarion which contained two bullet slugs and read: "(T)his two (2) slugs let Amado eat this
dispense slug." 73 Gale also received a death threat on May 8, 1996 during the re-investigation of the case at the City Prosecutor's office while he
was in the comfort room and someone sidled up to him and handed him a note warning him not to name Maclang or else he will not return to Bacolod
alive. 74
Gale's escorts, JO1 Leo Joven and JO1 Jose Gerard Simpas, testified that they did not see Gale leave Prosecutor Baldago's office at the Iloilo City
Hall of Justice during the re-investigation on May 8, 1996, nor did they notice any unusual behavior on his part at the time he allegedly received the
death threat. 75 This, however, should not be taken as proof that he did not actually receive those death threats. As the trial court aptly elucidated:
. . . they certainly based their perception on the outward appearance and actuations of Amado. They certainly were not in the position to observe the
anxiety on Amado's mind and fear that digs deep in Amado's heart. The Court observed Amado to be a quiet and pensive person. By keeping to
himself and remaining quiet, Amado acted normally. Without claiming expertise on the field of human behavior, the Court is nevertheless convinced
that Amado is the type who would remain outwardly quiet although an inner turmoil gnaws inveterately inside his guts.
JO1 Joven declared that Amado did not leave the re-investigation room to go to the comfort room. The matter of Amado going to the comfort room
during the re-investigation is so insignificant and trivial that could not possibly leave a mark in Mr. Joven's memory. In any event, JO1 Joven left
Amado Gale and the other detainee he was guarding (Charlito Domingo) when he bought coke and siopao on the ground floor of the building. JO1
Simpas also left the detainees when he purchased coffee for Amado who requested for the change of the coke to coffee. 76
There being no showing that Gale has any ill motive to testify against appellants, the presumption is that he was not so moved and his testimony was
untainted with bias, and thus entitled to full faith and credit. 77
In sum, the trial court did not commit any error when it gave probative weight and credence to Gale's testimony.
On the second issue:
The prosecution evidence clearly shows that appellants were conspirators in the perpetration of the kidnapping for ransom of Roberta Cokin.
Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. 78 Appellants
Mamarion's and Domingo's acts of monitoring the victim's activities, coordinating the abduction, handing the ransom note, collecting the ransom, and
detaining Roberta Cokin; and the concerted acts of appellants Maclang and Harisco in giving instructions and providing funds for their operations,
prove that they acted in concert in committing the crime. Appellants' individual participation, viewed in its totality, point to a joint purpose and criminal
design. Thus, they are all equally liable given that in a conspiracy, the act of one is the act of all. 79
Appellant Mamarion questions the failure of the prosecution to present the money allegedly paid as ransom. On this score, it must be pointed out that
the corpus delicti in the crime of kidnapping for ransom does not pertain to the ransom money itself. It is the fact of the commission of the crime which
may be proved by the testimony of the witnesses who saw it. To prove the corpus delicti, it is sufficient for the prosecution to be able to show that (1) a
certain fact has been proven, and (2) a particular person is criminally responsible for the act. 80
From the evidence brought before the trial court, the name and participation of appellant Mamarion in the planning and execution of the crime of
Kidnapping with Ransom consistently and persistently crop up. However, for reasons known only to himself, he chose to remain silent. In open court,
his counsel manifested that he was waiving his right to present evidence in his defense. Mamarion confirmed said manifestation, thus:
COURT:
Q
Your lawyer declared in Court that you are not adducing any evidence by way of your defense. Did your lawyer give you that information?
JOHN MAMARION
Yes, Your Honor.
COURT:
Q
Do you confirm that information of your lawyer?
A
Yes, your Honor.
Q
Did your lawyer explain to you the consequences of your not presenting evidence?
A
Yes, Sir.
Q
Now, the Court will explain to you that if you do not present any evidence for your own behalf the case will be decided solely on the basis of the

HONRA, Lyka 15
Criminal Procedure

evidence presented by the prosecution against you. Do you understand that?


A
Yes, Your Honor.
Q
Do you still insist that you will not present any evidence?
A
Yes, Your Honor.
Q
And you confirm to the Court that you were not enticed or persuaded by your lawyer, but this is your own voluntary decision that you will not be
presenting evidence? Of course, upon conferring with your lawyer?
A
Yes, Your Honor.
Q
I think you are aware that this is a heinous crime that you are charged with in this court?
A
Yes, Your Honor.
Q
Are you aware of the penalty that may be imposed if you are found guilty of the offense?
A
Yes, Your Honor.
Q
What do you know?
A
Death penalty.
Q
And inspite of that, are you still insisting that you will not testify here, or you will not present any other witness to testify on your behalf?
A
Yes, Your Honor. 81
His silence works against him as it goes against the principle that the first impulse of an innocent man when accused of wrongdoing is to express his
innocence at the first opportune time. 82
Appellant Domingo's defense is alibi. He claims that he was on duty from June 15 to July 25, 1995 as Apprentice Specialist at the 2nd Air Division of
the Philippine Air Force based in Mactan although he went on leave of absence from June 23 to June 26, 1995. The trial court refused to give any
weight to the Morning Reports presented by Domingo showing that he was on duty on the dates Gale stated as these documents do not appear to be
tamper-proof, 83 and that they do not accurately reflect absences of Air Force personnel out on a pass. 84 Aside from this, prosecution witness Brgy.
Capt. Marlon Villa testified that he saw Domingo whom he knows as "Jack", together with Roger Biona at the Odiongan barrio fiesta on June 29,
1995, 85 and again, on the first week of July 1995 also in Brgy. Odiongan although they didn't talk to each other, 86 while Gale positively identified
Domingo as the alias "Jack" who was part of their group. 87 Given these testimonies, the trial court was correct in disregarding Domingo's alibi as
jurisprudence gives greater weight to the positive narration of prosecution witnesses than to the negative testimonies of the defense. 88
The defense of appellant Harisco is denial and alibi. The Court will first deal on her alibi. Her defense of denial will be taken up together with that of
appellant Maclang.
It is axiomatic that alibi is inherently weak and unavailing, 89 and should be established with clear and convincing evidence in order to be acceptable.
90 The burden is upon the accused to present credible and tangible proof of physical impossibility to be at the scene of the crime; otherwise, an alibi
may not prevail over the positive testimony and clear identification of the accused by prosecution witnesses. 91
Harisco claims that at 5:15 in the morning of July 10, 1995, she was already in the airport refuting Gale's testimony that they had a breakfast meeting
on said date at 5:30 in the morning.
The trial court was not persuaded with her alibi. In disregarding Harisco's alibi, the trial court found that her PAL plane ticket shows that the flight for
Cebu on July 10, 1995 was scheduled to leave at 8:40 in the morning, and Harisco and her companion can be at the airport minutes before the flight
such that her presence during the breakfast meeting at 5:30 in the morning cannot be foreclosed. Harisco, however, points out that the trial court was
mistaken when it stated that the flight was at 8:40 in the morning, because the time reflected on the ticket refers to her connecting flight from Cebu to
Zamboanga on the same date, not from Bacolod City to Cebu.
On this score, the best evidence that would prove Harisco's flight details on July 10, 1995 would be the plane ticket itself. 92 A review of Harisco's
plane ticket indeed discloses that the 8:40 flight indicated therein pertains to the connecting flight from Cebu to Zamboanga. 93 However, there is
nothing on record that will buttress Harisco's denial that she was present at the breakfast meeting as she had an early morning flight for Cebu. It must
be pointed out that it devolves upon Harisco to prove the truth of her allegations, or denials, for that matter. Her plane ticket does not state the specific
time of her flight from Bacolod to Cebu as said flight was booked with an open date. 94 Harisco's witness, May Luzuriaga, testified that the flight from
Bacolod to Cebu was at 6:10 in the morning. 95 But further review of the evidence on record shows that the flight was in fact at 6:50 in the morning.
Particularly, in the passenger manifest brought and presented by Bacolod Branch PAL Manager Job Lamela, it was specifically written that the time of
Flight No. 371 on July 10, 1995 was at 0650H, or in layman's term, 6:50 in the morning, 96 thus debunking Harisco's claim. Absent proof therefore,
Harisco's claim is reduced to an unsupported allegation that bears little persuasive effect, definitely insufficient to prevail over Gale's positive
identification. 97
And even assuming that Harisco's flight was at 6:10 in the morning, it does not follow that it was physically impossible for her to negotiate the
distance between her house and the airport. From 5:30 in the morning up to boarding time, Harisco had ample time to be at the meeting and
subsequently board the plane bound for Cebu.
The trial court took judicial notice that Harisco can be at the airport even minutes before the flight with her ticket and baggage already checked-in
earlier in her behalf. 98
Physical impossibility takes into consideration not only the geographical distance between the scene of the crime, in the present case, the scene of
the planning of the crime and the place where appellant maintains she was at, but more importantly, the accessibility between these two points
how this distance translates to number of hours of travel. 99 Geographical distances may be taken judicial notice of, but this alone will not suffice for
purposes of proving an alibi. 100
The burden is on Harisco to demonstrate that it was physically impossible for her to have been in her duplex in Capitol Heights where Gale testified
that she had breakfast meeting with and gave instructions to members of the group in carrying out the kidnapping with ransom of Roberta Cokin. 101
Harisco, failed to discharge such burden. The Court does not find any evidence that shows that the trial court erred in taking judicial notice of the fact
that appellant Harisco can be at the airport in a few minutes time thus making it possible for her to be in the breakfast meeting before going to the
airport for the 6:10 a.m. flight, if indeed the flight of appellant Harisco from Bacolod City to Cebu was actually 6:10 in the morning of July 10, 1995.
In the light of Gale's positive testimony that Harisco participated in the planning of the kidnapping and was present at the breakfast meeting on July
10, 1995, her defense of alibi must fail, especially when there is no showing that Gale had any improper motive to testify falsely against her 102 or
that it was physically impossible for her to be at the duplex during the meeting.
Appellant Maclang denies any involvement, claiming that his indictment was politically motivated and that at the time the alleged conspiracy was

HONRA, Lyka 16
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brewing, he was already assigned in the Regional Special Office in Camp Delgado, Iloilo City, 103 and later at the Iloilo Police Provincial Command in
Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. 104 Maclang's denials are futile. As a defense, denials are insipid and weak, being easy to fabricate and difficult to disprove. 105
Mere denial of involvement in a crime cannot take precedence over positive testimony. 106 Also, as in the case of Harisco and Domingo, Maclang
failed to prove the impossibility of his presence when the crime was being planned or that Gale was ill-motivated in identifying him as one of those
who spearheaded the crime.
The participation of both appellants Harisco and Maclang is spelled-out very clearly by the trial court, based on the evidence adduced before it, as
follows:
. . . The facts and circumstances which indubitably show the participation of Major Maclang and Juliet Harisco in the conspiracy may be succinctly
summed up, thus:
1.
Major Maclang is the benefactor of the accused John Mamarion whom he took in as an asset in the Task Force Iron Eagle of which he was the
Operations Officer. John Mamarion also worked for Juliet Harisco in the latter's barter trade business. Both Maclang and Harisco exercised moral
ascendancy and influence over Mamarion;
2.
Maj. Maclang is a friend of the accused Ronaldo Porquez. Porquez' participation in the conspiracy as instigator was duly established. If the
kidnapping is to be segmented, Major Maclang and Juliet Harisco handles the Bacolod City segment while Porquez is in-charge of the Iloilo side.
Porquez expressly made known to Mamarion and the kidnap group that in Bacolod City, Maj. Maclang and Juliet Harisco will answer for their
expenses;
3.
Maclang and Harisco have an illicit affair and both stay at the duplex house at Homesite. John Mamarion and the kidnap group stay at the
duplex house in the course of the preparations for the kidnapping;
4.
The fact that the kidnap group did not return to the duplex house after snatching Roberta reinforces the evidence of the duo's participation. This
is too obvious to be further explained;
5.

Maclang and Harisco actually delivered moneys to John Mamarion which were spent during the preparations for the kidnapping;

6.
It was Maj. Maclang who ordered the kidnapping to be held on July 15, 1995 at the Tangub cockpit. Juliet Harisco pointed to John Mamarion
reiterating his assigned role as the one who will actually snatch Roberta Cokin. This incident took place during the breakfast meeting at the duplex
house in the morning of July 10, 1995. It was during that time when Major Maclang gave out a warning that whatever happens, his name should not
be mentioned in connection with the kidnapping;
7.
After the filing of the charges against them, both Maclang and Harisco took flight and evaded arrest. They were arrested in the same house at
Taytay, Rizal on October 25, 1997. As testified by Lt. Col. Rolando Lopez, both Maclang and Harisco occupy adjacent rooms at the upper portion of
the building.
The evidence clearly show that both Maj. Maclang and Juliet Harisco were aware of the filing of the present case against them and they both evaded
arrest. Maclang's feeble explanation for his flight was that he was trying to recover the folder in the possession of Roger Biona as the documents
therein contained would unravel the mystery of the Cokin kidnapping. This claim is too shallow and too nebulous as to be given any serious
consideration. Harisco's explanation is that she could not accept being charged for a crime she did not commit. This explanation wilts and fades in
illuminating brightness of clear and positive evidence pointing to her participation in the kidnap-slay as a principal by inducement. 107
Both appellants Maclang and Harisco argue that: (1) it is inconceivable that they should be involved in a crime involving such a measly mount
considering that Harisco is engaged in a successful business and owns several properties, 108 and that Maclang is a be-medalled military officer; 109
(2) Harisco has no motive for committing the crime; 110 (3) the bungled crime cannot be the handiwork of an experienced military man like Maclang;
111 (4) it is illogical that Maclang will allow Harisco to give instructions to the group when he is supposedly to be the one to do it. 112
These arguments, which are vain attempts on appellants' part to discredit Gale, are plain surmises and conjectures that pale in the light of Gale's
positive identification and unwavering testimony. That Harisco is well-off is irrelevant. As the Court has declared in People vs. Deang possession of
wealth does not make one a saint and poverty alone does not make one a criminal. 113 Thus, lack of motive on the part of Harisco is a moot point in
the face of the positive identification and testimony of Gale on Harisco's participation. Proof of ill motive to commit the crime then becomes irrelevant.
114 Likewise, Maclang's so-called achievements do not necessarily connote that he is innocent of the crime charged or that he is incapable of
committing it. An accused is not entitled to an acquittal simply because of his previous, or even present, good moral character and exemplary
conduct. 115
Under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 8 of R.A. No. 7659 kidnapping for ransom is penalized as follows:
Kidnapping and serious illegal detention. Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any manner deprive him of his liberty, shall
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death:
1.

If the kidnapping or detention shall have lasted more than five days.

2.

If it shall have been committed simulating public authority.

3.

If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained; or if threats to kill him shall have been made.

4.

If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, female or a public officer.

The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or detention was committed for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person,
even if none of the circumstances above-mentioned were present in the commission of the offense.
When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention or is raped, or is subjected to torture or dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty
shall be imposed. (Emphasis supplied)

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The prosecution has established beyond reasonable doubt that appellants conspired to commit, and in fact, committed the crime of Kidnapping for
Ransom, as charged in the Information. In addition, the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt that as a consequence of the detention
of the victim, she sustained physical injuries which resulted in her death. Applying Article 4, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, the appellants
are criminally liable for the death of the victim. There being no evidence that any modifying circumstances attended the killing of the victim, the
appellants are guilty only of the special complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide. 116
Kidnapping for ransom is punishable by death. Under the last paragraph of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, if the victim of the kidnapping dies
as a result of her detention, the penalty is also death. However, since the appellants committed only one felony namely, the special complex crime of
kidnapping for ransom with homicide, the appellant should be sentenced to only one death penalty. 117
Three Justices of the Court maintain their position that R.A. No. 7659 is unconstitutional insofar as it prescribes the death penalty; nevertheless, they
submit to the ruling of the majority that the law is constitutional and that the death penalty can be lawfully imposed in the case at bar.
As regards the civil liability of appellants resulting from the death of Roberta Cokin, Article 110 of the Revised Penal Code is explicit:
"(N)otwithstanding the provisions of the next preceding article, the principals, accomplices, and accessories, each within their respective class, shall
be liable severally (in solidum) among themselves for their quotas, and subsidiarily liable for those of the other persons liable." Hence, the trial court
did not err in declaring that appellants' liability for the civil indemnity, as principals, is solidary 118 or joint and several.
The trial court did not err in awarding P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for the death of Roberta Cokin.
In addition, the trial court is correct in not awarding actual damages to the heirs of Roberta Cokin. While Teresita Cokin testified that she incurred and
defrayed the expenses of transferring the remains of the victim from the funeral parlor in Anilao to Somo Funeral Home in Iloilo, no receipt or any
document was presented in support thereof.
However, the Court has ruled in recent cases that when no sufficient proof of actual damages is offered, the heirs of the victim may be awarded
temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00. 119
The trial court is likewise correct in not awarding moral damages. When Teresita Cokin testified that she emotionally suffered as a result of the death
of Roberta Cokin, 120 the defense timely objected to its introduction 121 on the ground that the prosecution inadvertently failed to offer Teresita's
testimony for the purpose of proving moral damages, 122 in which case, the trial court did not err in disallowing said evidence.
Hence, actual and moral damages may not be awarded for lack of legal basis.
In view of the presence of two circumstances, namely, the ransom demand and the death of the victim, exemplary damages in the amount of
P100,000.00 should be awarded to the heirs of Roberta Cokin, conformably with the ruling of this Court in People vs. Deang, 123 to wit:
The law also allows exemplary damages in criminal cases as part of the civil liability of the malefactors when the crime is attended by one or more
aggravating circumstances. As discussed above, this requisite had already been met. Exemplary damages are, however, imposed "not to enrich one
party or impoverish another but to serve as a deterrent against or as a negative incentive to curb socially deleterious actions." In the case at bar,
exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00 are awarded to the private complainants, by way of example or correction, in addition to the
damages herein awarded.
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bacolod City (Branch 50) in Criminal Case No. 96-17590, convicting
appellants John Mamarion y Hisugan, Charlito Domingo y Gorospe, Rolando Maclang y Ventura and Juliet Harisco y Carrera of the crime of
Kidnapping for Ransom, sentencing them to suffer the penalty of DEATH and ordering them to pay jointly and severally, to the heirs of Roberta Cokin
the amount of Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity with MODIFICATION that they are further ordered to pay an additional amounts
of Twenty Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) as temperate damages and One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) as exemplary damages.
Upon finality of this decision, pursuant to Section 25 of R.A. No. 7659, amending Article 83 of the Revised Penal Code, let the records of this case be
immediately forwarded to the Office of the President for possible exercise of the pardoning power.
SO ORDERED. .G.R. No. 99287 June 23, 1992
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
HON. MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR., AND JAIME MANUEL, respondents.

MEDIALDEA, J.:
This petition for certiorari seeks to reverse the decision and the order of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region at Pasig, Metro Manila
dated February 25 and March 13, 1991, respectively in Criminal Case No. 1345-D entitled "People of the Philippines v. Jaime Manuel y Ohide" for
violation of Section 16, Article 111, RA 6425, as amended.
Briefly, the antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
On August 24, 1990, Jaime Manuel y Ohide was charged with violation of Section 16, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended. The penalty prescribed in
the said section is imprisonment ranging from six years and one day to twelve years and a fine ranging from six thousand to twelve thousand pesos.
The information against him reads:
That on or about the 21st day of August, 1990, in the Municipality of San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, without the corresponding license or prescription did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his
possession, custody and control 0.08 grams of Methamphetamin Hydrocloride (Shabu) wrapped with an aluminum foil, which is a regulated drug.
CONTRARY TO LAW. (p. 15, Rollo)

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During the arraignment, the accused entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, trial ensued. On November 21, 1990, the prosecution rested its case. On
January 9, 1991, counsel for private respondent verbally manifested in open court that private respondent was willing to change his former plea of
"not guilty" to that of "guilty" to the lesser offense of violation of Section 17, R.A. No. 6425, as amended. The said section provides a penalty of
imprisonment ranging from six months and one day to four years and a fine ranging from six hundred to four thousand pesos shall be imposed upon
any pharmacist, physician, dentist, veterinarian, manufacturer, wholesaler who violates or fails to keep the records required under Section 25 of the
Act; if the violation or failure involves a regulated drug. That same day, the respondent Judge issued an order (Annex "B," p. 17, Rollo) directing
private respondent to secure the consent of the prosecutor to the change of plea, and set the promulgation of decision on January 30, 1991. On
January 30, 1991, respondent Judge postponed the promulgation of the decision to February 18, 1991 to give private respondent another opportunity
to secure the consent of the prosecutor. Also, on the said date, the private respondent filed his Request to Plead Guilty to a Lesser Offense. On
February 18, 1991, respondent Judge issued another order (Annex "D," p. 19, Rollo) postponing the promulgation of decision to February 25, 1991 to
give private respondent further opportunity to secure the consent of the prosecutor. On February 20, 1991, the prosecutor filed his Opposition to the
Request to Plead Guilty to a Lesser Offense (annex "E," p. 20, Rollo) on the grounds that: (1) the prosecution already rested its case on November
21, 1990; (2) the possibility of conviction of private respondent of the crime originally charged was high because of the strong evidence of the
prosecution; and (3) the valuable time which the court and the prosecutor had expended would be put to waste. On February 21, 1991, private
respondent filed his Reply to Opposition with Leave of Court to Plead Guilty to a Lesser Offense (annex F, p. 21, Rollo), alleging therein, among other
matters, that the Rules on Criminal Procedure does not fix a specific period within which an accused is allowed to plead guilty to a lesser offense.
Subsequently, on February 25, 1991, respondent Judge rendered a decision granting the accused's motion, to wit:
It may well be appropriate at this time to state that the accused is not availing of the "voluntary plea of guilt" as a mitigating circumstance envisioned
under Article 13, paragraph 7 of the Revised Penal Code. The accused simply wants to avail of Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules. As pointed out by
Atty. Fernando Fernandez of the PAO, there is nothing in the said provision which requires that the same be availed of prior to the presentation of the
evidence for the prosecution. It is conceded though, as pointed out by the prosecution, that such is a waste of time on the part of the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor and of the Court, nonetheless, this Court, having in mind Section 2 of Rule 1 which provides that the rules shall be liberally
construed in order to promote their object and to assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and
proceeding and also for humanitarian considerations, hereby APPROVES and GRANTS the Motion at bar.
Moreover, such an admission of guilt by the accused indicates his submission to the law and a moral disposition on his part to reform. (Vide: People
vs. Coronel, G.R. No. L-19091, June 30, 1966)
Let it be made of record however that the Court is not putting a premium on the change of heart of the accused in mid-stream.
WHEREFORE, finding the accused JAIME MANUEL Y CHIDE @ Manny guilty beyond reasonable-doubt of the crime of violation of Section 17,
Article III, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, he is hereby sentenced to a straight prison term of two (2) years and one (1) day of prision
correccional, to pay a fine of Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs.
In the service of his sentence, the accused shall be credited in full with the period of his preventive imprisonment.
Pursuant to Section 20, Article IV of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, let the 0.08 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) subject
matter of this case be confiscated and forfeited in favor of the Government and be turned over to the Dangerous Drugs Board Custodian, NBI, to be
disposed of according to law.
SO ORDERED. (Rollo, pp. 24-25)
Forthwith, the prosecutor filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforestated decision but the same was denied in the order of March 13, 1991,
which states:
It is the considered view of this Court that Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules should not be interpreted to the letter in "victimless crimes" such as this
case, possession of regulated drugs, which is more of a "social disease" case so to speak and in the light of (the) provision itself that "with the
consent of the offended party and the fiscal." Is the fiscal the offended party?
Moreover as the records show, the Office of the Provincial Fiscal has not been very consistent on this "lesser offense plea" thing. It would perhaps be
in consonance with justice that a guideline be laid down by the said Office, if only to apprise the public, the Court and the accused on when said
consent is to be given by the fiscal as a matter of course and when it will be withheld. For to leave the same undefined is in the mind of this Court, not
conducive to a "just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.
SO ORDERED. (Rollo, pp. 41-42)
Hence, this petition raising the following issues:
I. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT JUDGE ERRED IN GRANTING PRIVATE RESPONDENT'S REQUEST TO PLEAD GUILTY TO A LESSER
OFFENSE BECAUSE THE REQUEST WAS FILED OUT OF TIME AND THE CONSENT THERETO OF THE PROSECUTOR AND THE OFFENDED
PARTY WAS NOT OBTAINED.
II. WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT JUDGE ERRED IN CONVICTING PRIVATE RESPONDENT OF THE LESSER OFFENSE OF VIOLATION
OF SECTION 17, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6425, AS AMENDED, INSTEAD OF THE OFFENSE ORIGINALLY CHARGED OF VIOLATION OF SECTION
16 OF THE SAME LAW, IN VIEW OF THE ABSENCE OF A VALID CHANGE OF PLEA. (Rollo, pp. 74-75)
In the resolution of January 20, 1992, We issued a temporary restraining order to enjoin the respondent Judge from enforcing the questioned
judgment in the aforesaid criminal case (Rollo, p. 86).
The petition is meritorious.
Plea bargaining in criminal cases, is a process whereby the accused and the prosecution work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case
subject to court approval (see Black Law Dictionary, 5th Ed., 1979, p. 1037). It usually involves the defendant's pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to
only one or some of the counts of a multi-count indictment in return for a lighter sentence than that for the graver charge (ibid). Ordinarily, pleabargaining is made during the pre-trial stage of the criminal proceedings. However, the law still permits the accused sufficient opportunity to change

HONRA, Lyka 19
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his plea thereafter. Thus, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court, Section 2 thereof, provides:
Sec. 2. Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. The accused, with the consent of the offended party and the fiscal, may be allowed by the trial court to
plead guilty to a lesser offense, regardless of whether or not it is necessarily included in the crime charged, or is cognizable by a court of lesser
jurisdiction than the trial court. No amendment of the complaint or information is necessary.
A conviction under this plea, shall be equivalent to a conviction of the offense charged for purposes of double jeopardy.
However, the acceptance of an offer to plead guilty to a lesser offense under the aforequoted rule is not demandable by the accused as a matter of
right but is a matter that is addressed entirely to the sound discretion of the trial court (Manuel v. Velasco, et al., G.R. No. 94732, February 26, 1991,
En Banc Resolution).
In the case at bar, the private respondent (accused) moved to plead guilty to a lesser offense after the prosecution had already rested its case. In
such situation, jurisprudence has provided the trial court and the Office of the Prosecutor with yardstick within which their discretion may be properly
exercised. Thus, in People v. Kayanan (L-39355, May 31, 1978, 83 SCRA 437, 450), We held that the rules allow such a plea only when the
prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to establish guilt of the crime charged. In his concurring opinion in People v. Parohinog (G.R. No. L47462, February 28, 1980, 96 SCRA 373, 377), then Justice Antonio Barredo explained clearly and tersely the rationale of the law:
. . . (A)fter the prosecution had already rested, the only basis on which the fiscal and the court could rightfully act in allowing the appellant to charge
his former plea of not guilty to murder to guilty to the lesser crime of homicide could be nothing more nothing less than the evidence already in the
record. The reason for this being that Section 4 of Rule 118 (now Section 2, Rule 116) under which a plea for a lesser offense is allowed was not and
could not have been intended as a procedure for compromise, much less bargaining.
As evident from the foregoing, the trial court need not wait for a guideline from the Office of the Prosecutor before it could act on the accused's motion
to change plea. As soon as the fiscal has submitted his comment whether for or against the said motion, it behooves the trial court to assiduously
study the prosecution's evidence as well as all the circumstances upon which the accused made his change of plea to the end that the interests of
justice and of the public will be served. A reading of the disputed rulings in this case failed to disclose the strength or weakness of the prosecution's
evidence. Apparently, the judgment under review dwelt solely on only one of the three objections ( i.e. waste of valuable time already spent by the
court and prosecution) interposed by the Fiscal which was the least persuasive. It must be recalled that the other two grounds of objection were that
the prosecution had already rested its case and that the possibility of conviction of the private respondent of the crime originally charged was high
because of the strong evidence of the prosecution. Absent any finding on the weight of the evidence in hand, the respondent judge's acceptance of
the private respondent's change of plea is improper and irregular.
The counsel for the private respondent argues that only the consent of the fiscal is needed in crimes involving, violation of RA 6425 as amended
because there is no offended party to speak Of and that even the latter's consent is not an absolute requirement before the trial court could allow the
accused to change his plea.
We do not agree. The provision of Section 2, Rule 116 is clear. The consent of both the Fiscal and the offended party is a condition precedent to a
valid plea of guilty to a lesser offense (see Manuel v. Velasco, et al., supra, p. 6). The reason for this is obvious. The Fiscal has full control of the
prosecution of criminal actions (Cinco, et al. v. Sandiganbayan, et al., G.R. Nos. 92362-67, October 15, 1991). Consequently, it is his duty to always
prosecute the proper offense, not any lesser or graver one, when the evidence in his hands can only sustain the former ( see People v. Parohinog,
supra, concurring opinion of then Justice Barredo, p. 377; also Vda. de Bagatua, et al. v. Revilla, et al., 104 Phil. 393, 395-396).
It would not also be correct to state that there is no offended party in crimes under RA 6425 as amended. While the acts constituting the crimes are
not wrong in themselves, they are made so by law because they infringe upon the rights of others. The threat posed by drugs against human dignity
and the integrity of society is malevolent and incessant (People v. Ale, G.R. No. 70998, October 14, 1986, 145 SCRA 50, 58). Such pernicious effect
is felt not only by the addicts themselves but also by their families. As a result, society's survival is endangered because its basic unit, the family, is
the ultimate victim of the drug menace. The state is, therefore, the offended party in this case. As guardian of the rights of the people, the government
files the criminal action in the name of the People of the Philippines. The Fiscal who represents the government is duty bound to defend the public
interests, threatened by crime, to the point that it is as though he were the person directly injured by the offense ( see United States v. Samio, 3 Phil.
691, 696). Viewed in this light, the consent of the offended party, i.e. the state, will have to be secured from the Fiscal who acts in behalf of the
government.
Lastly, the counsel for the private respondent maintains that the private respondent's change of plea and his conviction to the lesser offense of
violation of Section 17, RA No. 6425 as amended is no longer open to review otherwise his constitutional right against double jeopardy will be
violated.
Such supposition has no basis. The right against double jeopardy given to the accused in Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court applies in cases
where both the fiscal and the offended party consent to the private respondent's change of plea. Since this is not the situation here, the private
respondent cannot claim this privilege. Instead, the more pertinent and applicable provision is that found in Section 7, Rule 117 which states:
Sec. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy.
xxx xxx xxx
However, the conviction of the accused shall not be a bar to another prosecution for an offense which necessarily includes the offense charged in the
former complaint or information under any of the following instances:
(a) . . . ;
(b) . . . ;
(c) the plea of guilty to the lesser offense was made without the consent of the Fiscal and of the offended party;
xxx xxx xxx

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Under this rule, the private respondent could still be prosecuted under the original charge of violation of Section 16 of RA 6425 as amended because
of the lack of consent of the Fiscal who also represents the offended party, i.e., the state. More importantly, the trial court's approval of his change of
plea was irregular and improper.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The judgment and order of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital Region at Pasig, Branch 156
dated February 25 and March 13, 1991, respectively in Criminal Case No. 1345-D (People v. Manuel y Ohide) are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
said criminal case is hereby remanded to the trial court for continuation of trial on the original charge of violation of Section 16 of Republic Act No.
6425 as amended. The temporary restraining order issued in this case is made permanent. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-30355 May 31, 1978
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellants,
vs.
HON. UNION KAYANAN and HON. ENRIQUE AGANA, Judges of the Court of First Instance of Quezon, and PELAGIO ORGANO, defendantsappellees.
Solicitor General F.V. Makasiar, Asst. Sol. Gen. F.C. Zaballero and Sol. C.T. Agapinan for plaintiff-appellant.
Euclides A. Abcede for defendant-appellee Pelagio Organo.

BARREDO, J.:
Petition for certiorari seeking the annulment and setting aside of a decision in a case of murder in which respondent Judge Union Kayanan is alleged
to have allowed the accused to enter a plea of guilty to the lower offense of homicide even after the prosecution had already rested and the defense
had started presenting evidence, and even to be credited with the mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and incomplete self-defense,
without requiring said circumstances to be proven by proper evidence. Respondent Judge Enrique Agana is being faulted for having denied the
prosecution's motion for reconsideration and for holding that to grant the same would place the accused in double jeopardy.
The case in question is Criminal Case No. 1692-G, against private respondent Pelagio Organo and two others in Branch III of the Court of First
Instance of Quezon sitting in Gumaca, Quezon Province, for the killing of Alfredo Puyal. Although the information was filed by Assistant Provincial
Fiscal Eufemio Caparros of the same province, the preliminary investigation was actually conducted with the assistance of State prosecutor Lilia
Lopez and Provincial Fiscal Juan Aquino. At the trial, the prosecution was handled by Lopez and Aquino.
The proceedings were overtaken by the retirement of the presiding judge. But the prosecution had already rested and the defense was in the process
of presenting its evidence. As the judge was to retire, the continuation of the trial was postponed indefinitely. Such was the status of the case on
February 13, 1968.
On that day, without the case being calendared for continuation of trial and without notice to any of the prosecutors handling it, the following
proceedings appear on the record to have taken place in Branch IV, the sala of respondent Judge Kayanan, sitting in Lucena, also in Quezon
Province:
INTERPRETER AVILA:
Criminal Case No. 1692-G People of the Philippines vs. Pelagio Organo, et al.
COURT:
What do you say Fiscal?
FISCAL FLORIDO:
This is a Gumaca case, Your Honor, and I have not even the expediente however, as the accused is pleading guilty, I submit.
COURT:
No objection, Fiscal?
FISCAL:
I submit, Your Honor.
COURT:
Atty. Cerilla, will you please help the accused in the arraignment only?
INTERPRETER AVILA: (To accused)
(Arraignment from English to Tagalog and vice-versa by Interpreter Francisco J. Avila).
INTERPRETER TO THE COURT:
The accused pleaded guilty to Homicide, Your Honor.
ATTY. CERILLA:

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We would ask that the following mitigating circumstances be considered in favor of the accused, voluntary surrender, plea of guilty, and incomplete
self-defense.
WARDEN TO COURT:
Mabuting bata po iyan.
FISCAL:
We could be amenable to surrender, Your Honor.
COURT:
Plea of guilty cannot be considered because the prosecution has.
ATTY. CERILLA:
Incomplete self-defense, considering that the deceased is a recidivist.
COURT:
DECISION
The accused PELAGIO ORGANO, among others, is charged with Murder by virtue of the following information:
The undersigned Assistant Provincial Fiscal accuses PELAGIO ORGANO, ADOLFO BORCA and FLORENTINO CALINTAG of the crime of murder,
defined and punished under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:
That on or about the 11th day of April, 1964, in the municipality of Catanauan, Province of Quezon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the said accused Pelagio Organo, Adolfo Borca, and Florencio Calintag, armed with deadly weapon to wit: double bladed pointed
instrument, with intent to kill and with treachery and evident premeditation, conspiring and confederating together and mutually, helping each other did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, attack, assault and strike with said pointed double bladed instrument one ALFREDO PUYAL on the
different parts of his body and as a result thereof suffered mortal wounds which caused his death.
That in the commission of the offense the following aggravating circumstances were present; that the crime was also committed with superior
strength.
Contrary to law.
The accused was originally arraigned and tried before Branch III, CFI, Gumaca and said accused Pelagio Organo pleaded guilty.
On representation of the Ass. Provincial Warden, co-accused Adolfo Borca is already dead. as per death certificate attached to the records showing
that he died in the Quezon Memorial Hospital on November 8, 1967; while co-accused Florencio Calintag is at-large. The accused Pelagio Organo
called the attention of the Court that he wanted to change his plea and that accordingly, Atty. Leovigildo Cerilla was appointed counsel de oficio for the
arraignment only. Upon being arraigned said accused entered the plea of guilty to Homicide only without necessarily amending the Information and
invoked the mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and incomplete self-defense without objection on the part of the Prosecuting Fiscal. It
also appears that the victim Alfredo Puyal was a habitual delinquent, having been convicted on March 13, 1954 and that he was paroled on July 10,
1964,
WHEREFORE, finding the accused PELAGIO ORGANO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide only punishable under Article 249
of the Revised Penal Code, he is hereby CONVICTED and to suffer a penalty of Four (4) Years, Two (2) Months and one (1) day to Five (5) Years
Four (4) Months and ten (10) days the minimum of pricion correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum granting him two degrees than that
prescirbed by law and the benefit of the Indeterminate Sentence Law; to indemnify the heirs of the deceased ALFREDO PUYAL in the amount of Six
Thousand (P6,000.00) Pesos, Philippine Currency, but without subsidiary personal liability in case of insolvency, with costs de officio.
SO OREDERED. (Annex F of petition, pp. 34-36, Record.)
Completely surpirised and outraged by such an unexpected turn of events, on February 28, 1968, State Prosecutor Lopez filed an urgent motion for
reconsideration alleging that;
1. State Prosecutor Lilia Lopez and Provincial Fiscal Juan Aquino were duly designated by thew Secretary of Justice to ahndle the investigation and
prosecution of the above-entitled case. The records of thks case will bear this out.
2. Pursuant to the aforesaid designation the State Prosecutors actively handled the prosecution of this case and presented ample evidence to show
that the crime of murder has been committed by the accused and that the wounds inflicted were located at the back of the victim, thus proving the
presence of the qualifying circumstances of treachery. After the prosecution closed its evidence the defense presented its evidence which consists of
the testimony of the accused himself which is self-serving and that of Assistance Fiscal Batario who tried to corroborate the mitigating circumstance of
voluntary surrender. However, this evidence of the defense was disproved by the testimony of Catanauan policeman shown in the records who
testified that the accused was actually arrested and did not voluntarily surrender.
3. The State Prosecutor was not notified at all of the date of hearing of this case which resulted in the court promulgating its decision of February 13,
1968.
4. It is the position of the State Prosecutors that whoever was the fiscal who appeared in the sala of the Presiding Judge had no authority to bind the
State in this case and the court should have postponed the case to enable the state prosecutor to state its position as to the alleged offer of the
accused to enter a plea of guilty to the lesser offense of homeside. Indeed it is extremely irregular to allow the accused to enter a plea of guilty to the

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lesser offense of homeside. Indeed it sis extremely irregular to allow the accused to enter a plea of guilty after all the evidence for the prosecution had
already been received as well as that of the defense. There must be a satisfactory showing for the validity of such a plea. (People vs. de la Cruz, 64
Phil. 1067).
5. Add to this the fact that it does not appear that any evidence was received by the Court to support the mitigating circumstances of voluntary
surrender and incomplete self-defense as claimed by the accused which we submit even assuming that the prosecuting fiscal in that sala then
conformed to, can not be considered when the evidence of record is against it. hence, until and unless the Court received evidence disproving what
the record of the trial shows that there was voluntary surrender, much lesser incomplete self-defense, the accused should not be credited these two
mitigating circumstances.
6. Assuming for the sake of argument that the plea to a lesser offense could have been allowed by the Court, and assuming further that these two
mitigating circumstances should be credited to the accused, the Court failed to consider that when the accused entered a plea of guilty to the
information he entered a plea of guilty to the aggravating circumstances alleged therein. In the instant case there are two qualifying circumstances,
namely, treachery and evident premeditation, and one aggravating circumstance which is the use of superior strenght alleged in the information. The
qualifying circumstances as against two mitigating circumstances, there is no justification for the court to impose a penalty two degrees lower than
that prescribed by law for the crime of homeside.
7. Moreover, the Prosecution excepts to the observation of the Court which we consider irrelevant to wit: 'It also appears that the victim Alfredo Puyal
was a habitual delinquent having been convicted on March 13, 1954 and that he was paroled on July 10, 1964.' Suffice it to say that there is no such
evidenc whatever that the victim is a habitual delinquent nor does the record show that any such evidence was received by the now Presiding Judge,
and the revised Penal Code defines a habitual delinquent as one who has been convicted several times of an offense under the same Title. The
victim in this case was convicted only once and cannot be considered a habitual delinquent. The Prosecution cannot understand why the name of the
victim had to be besmirched with this allusion which is not supported by law.
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that this Honorable Court reconsider its decision and reopen the case to enable all the evidence to be
adduced and the thereafter a decision be rendered in accordance with the evidence in the record. The Prosecution further prays for such other
remedy as may be just and equitable. (Annex B, pp- 19-22, Record.)
Judge Kayanan almost nonchalantly reacted with the following order dated March 18, 1968:
ACTING on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by State Prosecutor Lilia Lopez, the Court finds meritorious the ground that the phrase 'The victim
Alfredo Puyal was a habitual delinquent ... is not supported by positive evidence. The portion of the decision dated February 13, 1968 to that effect is
ordered deleted.
SO ORDERED. (Annex C, p. 24, Record.)
Seeing that the foregoing order did not resolve squarely her motion for reconsideration, State Prosecutor Lopez filed a supplemental motion for
reconsideration on October 11, 1968. (Annex D of the Petition.) This gave occasion for the other respondent judge herein, Judge Enrique Agana, who
had taken over Branch 111, to issue the following order dated January 29, 1969:
This is a motion for reconsideration filed by State Prosecutor Lilia Lopez and Provincial Fiscal Juan Aquino, who were designated by the Secretary of
Justice to assist the Provincial Fiscal of Quezon in the prosecution of this case, on a decision rendered by the Court convicting the accused herein of
the lesser crime of homicide.
From the records, it appear that a complaint for murder against herein accused Pelagio Organo was filed in the municipal court of Catanauan and
after a preliminary investigation the case was remanded to this Court for trial. At this stage, the office of the Provincial Fiscal, through Assistant
Provincial Fiscal Eufemio A. Caparros, conducted a reinvestigation with a view of including Adolfo Borca and Florencio Calintag in the information. In
the said reinvestigation, Fiscals Juan Aquino and Lilia Lopez appeared for the prosecution and submitted their evidence for the offended party. After
the reinvestigation was concluded, Assistant Provincial Fiscal Eufemio A. Caparros filed an information for murder against herein accused Pelagio
Organo, together with Adolfo Borca and Florencio Calintag. Adolfo Borca died during the pendency of this case while Florencio Calintag remained at
large.
After a protracted trial, the prosecution was able to rest its case and the defense started presenting its evidence. However, before the defense rested,
the accused Pelagio Organo on the 13th day of February 1968 asked the Court permission to change his plea of not guilty to the crime of murder to
that of guilty to the lesser crime of homicide and invoked the mitigating circumstances of voluntary surrender and incomplete self-defense, Fiscal
Celso B. Florido of the office of the Provincial Fiscal appeared for the prosecution and consented to the change of plea of the accused. Whereupon,
the Court convicted the accused for the lesser crime of homicide.
State Prosecutor Lilia Lopez and Fiscal Juan Aquino who conducted the examination of the witnesses during the course of the trial, now seek to have
this decision reconsidered and the case reopened on the ground (1) that they were not notified of the hearing, and (2) that Fiscal Florido did not
consent to the change of plea of the accused as provided for in Section 4 of Rule 118; that double jeopardy has not set in this case as the decision
rendered on February 13, 1968 is null and void, it having been irregularly and illegally promulgated in violation of Section 6 of Rule 118.
From a reading of the transcript of the stenographic notes taken on February 13, 1968, it could be gleaned therefrom that the Fiscal's office, through
Fiscal Florido was sufficiently notified of the nearing thereon. As a matter of fact, there is nothing in the transcript which would show that the said
Fiscal Florido intended to ask for a postponement of the hearing.
It is contended that the state prosecutors having been designated by the Secretary of Justice to handle the prosecution of the case should have been
notified of the hearing. The Court finds no basis for such a contention for the record shows that the information was filed by the office of the Provincial
Fiscal through Assistant Provincial Fiscal Eufemio A. Caparros, and as such notice to the Provincial Fiscal would be sufficient notice to the
prosecution. The mere fact that the State Prosecutors were designated by the Secretary of Justice to assist the Provincial Fiscal in the prosecution of
the case and pursuant thereto conducted the examination of the witnesses in the course of the trial does not necessarily make them the sole and
exclusive prosecutors of the case as to entitle them to a separate notice, especially so when no manifestation to that effect has been made by them.
They being part of the office of the Provincial Fiscal are bound by a notice made to the latter.
With respect to the second ground that the Fiscal who attended the trial did not consent to the change of plea as provided for by Section 4 of Rule

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118, the said transcript clearly shows that the Fiscal had submitted to the discretion of the court. The said Fiscal's submission to the discretion of the
Court, coupled with his manifestation that he is amenable to accept voluntary surrender as a mitigating circumstance, shows his express conformity
with the change of plea of the accused from not guilty to the crime of murder to a plea of guilty to the lesser crime of homicide.
The questioned decision having been regularly issued by the Court and the accused having began to serve the sentence, to reopen the said case
now would constitute double jeopardy.
WHEREFORE, the Court denies the motion for reconsideration.
SO ORDERED. (Annex E, pp- 29-33, Record.)
It is the stand of petitioner People of the Philippines that respondent Judge Kayanan acted with grave abuse of discretion in the premises and that
Judge Agana's refusal to reconsider the matter is a manifest legal error. We do not hesitate to agree.
In fact, to Call the impugned actuation of Judge Kayanan as grave abuse of discretion is the mildest way such palpably irregular and legally
erroneous Conduct be categorized. We can. not see anything in it that conforms with the law and the rules. It is incomprehensible how anything like it
could happen in any court oil this country. Indeed, one is left to wonder just how much allowance for good faith could be accorded to respondent.
To begin with, no explanation at all has been given as to how a case in Branch Ill of Gumaca, particularly one of murder to which special prosecutors
have been specifically assigned by the secretary of Justice, already tried, with the prosecution already rested and the defense about to close, was
called for a new arraignment in Branch IV in Lucena without any formal calendaring thereof and without so much as even a verbal or informal notice,
if not to the special prosecutors, at least to assistant provincial fiscal assigned to the case. To be sure, a little sense was shown by Fiscal Florido who
tried to point out that "This is a Gumaca case, Your Honor, and I have not even the expedients", but not enough, for, in the same breadth, he
inexplicably relented saying naively, "(H)owever, as the accused is pleading guilty, I submit." Worse, not even the counsel of record of the accused
was present, and there is no reason given why the judge had to appoint a counsel de oficio for him for the arraignment only. "
Secondly, the record of the case was in Gumaca. No one other than the accused, know, certainly not the judge nor the fiscal the actual status of
the case and how far proceedings therein had gone. But neither of them seemed to care, if they knew as they ought to have known, such information
was indispensable. It seemed the "new" arraignment had to go on regardless. So much so that even a formal amendment of the information to serve
as basis for the plea of guilty to the lower offense of homicide did not anymore occur to them to be a "necessity".
Thirdly, how the instant counsel de oficio came to move that voluntary surrender and incomplete self-defense should be credited the accused is to be
marvelled at. The record does not show he even consulted with the accused, much less knew anything about what appears already in the record of
the case particularly, the trial that had already progressed more than half-way.
Fourthly, no effort was even made to present, evidence or, The proposed mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender, How incomplete self-defense
could be reconciled. if that was possible, with what had already been proven by the evidence on record was not even looked into. And assuming the
existing evidence could legally be disregarded altogether, it does not appear that the accused or his counsel de oficio had at least offered some
evidence to prove the elements of the alleged incomplete self-defense. Besides, there was the aggravating circumstance of superiority of strength
alleged in the information, together with treachery and evident premeditation, as qualifying circumstances of murder, It has not been explained how
there could be self-defense in any sense where there is treachery and/or evident premeditation.
To top it all, the plea of guilty offered by the accused was not to the grave offense of murder charged in the information.
It was for the lesser offense of homicide. A plea of guilty for a lighter offense than that actually charged is not supposed to be allowed as a matter of
bargaining or compromise for the convenience of the accused. The rules allow such a plea only when the prosecution does not have sufficient
evidence to establish guilt of the crime charged. Indeed, when such an offer is made, the court is duty bound to inquire carefully into the
circumstances on which it is premised. The manifest indifference of respondent judge revealed in the record of the proceedings aforequoted is an
unpardonable betrayal of the administration of justice. Precisely because the subject case did not pertain to his sala, as the fiscal had advised him,
there was every reason for him to first investigate and apprise himself of what proceedings had already taken place. This was recklessness of the
highest order devoid of any element of judicial circumspection. Judge Agana ought to have readily discerned such an obvious blunder in the judicial
conduct of his colleague and immediately taken steps to right the wrong done to the People, instead of straining himself to baselessly apply the
principle of double jeopardy in the premises.
As We have already noted earlier, everything was irregular and violative of all pertinent and applicable rules. The whole proceeding looked no more
than a prearranged compromise between the accused and the judge to flaunt the law and every norm of propriety and procedure, so the former could
be accommodated with a lighter penalty than that which already appeared to be inevitably warranted by the evidence on record, with the fiscal then
present and the "instant" counsel de oficio taken in wittingly or unwittingly. There was no consideration whatsoever of the public interest. For the Court
now to sanction such an outrageous disregard of all norms of procedure and the sanctions of the criminal laws would be to abandon all Ideas of order
and the public interest altogether. We hold that the whole proceeding in question is manifestly illegal and unjustified. It is completely void, and,
accordingly, jeopardy could not have attached to it. Judge Agana's holding to the contrary is a patent error of judgment.
We are not saying, however, that a plea of guilty may not be made in the midst of trial. Surely, the accused can confess guilt at any time even after
arraigmment and after trial has began, but the law is clear that he shall not thereby be entitled to have such plea considered as a mitigating
circumstance. Strangely, here, the accused Organo was not only irregularly credited with the mitigating circumstance of a plea of guilty to a lesser
offense than that already proven by the evidence on record, he was also given credit for voluntary surrender and incomplete self-defense, as to which
he did not even offer, much less present an iota of evidence. Only the retirement of respondent judge prevents Us from imposing due administrative
sanctions against him. The Court strongly admonishes all judges to be careful not to follow his footsteps. And respondent Judge Agana is advised to
be more circumspect in upholding a plea of double jeopardy of the accused when it is quite apparent and manifest that it is the state and interests of
justice that are the ones in jeopardy.
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is granted and the impugned order of Judge Kayanan of February 13, 1968 is hereby declared null
and void, whereas the order of Judge Agana of January 21, 1969 is reversed. The court of First Instance of Quezon, Branch III, is directed Lo proceed
with the continuation of the trial of Criminal Case No. 1692-G against herein private respondent Pelagio Organo and to thereafter decide the same as
the evidence and the law may warrant.

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Criminal Procedure

Castro, CJ., Fernando, Teehankee, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Santos and Guerrero, JJ., concur.
Makasiar and Antonio, JJ., took no part.
Muoz Palma and, Fernandez, JJ., are on leave.
G.R. No. L-80845 March 14, 1994
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
HON. ERNESTO M. MENDOZA, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Branch 10, and JUAN MAGALOP y
SALVACION, respondents.
The Solicitor General for petitioner.
Public Attorney's Office for private respondent.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal (now Provincial Prosecutor) of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, in
behalf of the People of the Philippines, assailing the judgment of respondent Judge Ernesto M. Mendoza in Crim. Case No. 4264 acquitting accused
Juan Magalop y Salvacion, private respondent herein, of the crime of robbery with force upon things notwithstanding his plea of guilt. Petitioner prays
that respondent Judge be ordered to reverse his judgment exonerating Magalop and, instead, to impose upon him the proper penalty for the offense
to which he pleaded guilty.
The evidence discloses that on 20 January 1987, the storeroom of the Bukidnon National School of Home Industries (BNSHI) in Maramag, Bukidnon,
was ransacked. After an on-the-spot investigation, the police found themselves at a loss as to the identity of the culprit or culprits. The value of the
missing articles was estimated at P15,298.15.
Eventually, responsibility for the robbery with force upon things was laid on accused Juan Magalop y Salvacion, Petronilo Fernandez y Cano and
Ricarte Dahilan alias Ricky. All three (3) were represented by District Citizens Attorney Isidro L. Caracol. At the arraignment on 23 June 1987,
Magalop pleaded "guilty" while Fernandez pleaded "not guilty." The arraignment of Dahilan was deferred as he was "not mentally well."
Instead of pronouncing judgment on Magalop, the court a quo conducted trial. The prosecution presented Pat. Jakosalem, INP, who investigated the
break-in, as well as a clerk and a storekeeper of the BNSHI. The prosecution likewise offered in evidence colored pictures of the ransacked
storeroom, a pair of ordinary pliers colored blue, a pair of long-nose pliers colored red, and a coping saw. The last three items were said to have been
recovered by the police.
The defense having opted to waive its right to present evidence, the case was submitted for decision.
On 8 October 1987, respondent Judge acquitted accused Fernandez as well as Magalop who earlier pleaded guilty to the charge. The two-paged,
single-spaced judgment is quoted hereunder for careful scrutiny and better appreciation. Thus
This is a case where three accused were allegedly responsible for forcibly taking things from the storeroom of the Bukidnon National School of Home
Industries.
It was established by the prosecution that the storeroom of the Bukidnon National School of Home Industries at Maramag, Bukidnon, on January 20,
1987 was ransacked as shown by the testimonies of the policemen and by the keepers of the storeroom. After on the spot investigation, the
policemen were at a loss to identify the person or persons responsible thereof.
Except for the accused Juan Magalop who pleaded guilty, the identity of the perpetrators remained a problem. Accused Ricarte Dahilan is mentally
deranged; hence the trial was separate for accused Petronilo Fernandez and Juan Magalop.
As shown by the evidence of the prosecution, some of the stolen things were in the possession of a certain Babie Tan, consisting of two pliers and a
saw, and these were all allegedly sold to said Babie Tan who refused to testify on the matter.
The evidence of the prosecution failed to prove that the three accused were responsible for stealing these three articles or tools.
Although Juan Magalop pleaded guilty, it was not shown who (how?) they conspired and helped each other in the commission of the crime charged.
To the Court, the plea of Juan Magalop was not intelligently done. In the course of the proceedings, it was not established how Juan Magalop and
Petronilo Fernandez participated in the looting. No evidence was introduced to show that the accused sold the stolen things to Babie Tan, which the
prosecution could have proved to show that the possessors of the stolen things could have been identified as the thief or thieves; hence, the
prosecution utterly failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond doubt (emphasis supplied).
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the accused Petronilo Fernandez and Juan Magalop are hereby ACQUITTED. With respect to Ricarte Dahilan, let this
case be held in abeyance until he is mentally well. 1
Its motion for reconsideration having been denied, petitioner is now before us contending that the decision of 8 October 1987 and the order of 4
November 1987 denying reconsideration are "purely capricious and arbitrary, made for no proper reason at all and rendered without legal authority
whatsoever, thereby amounting to lack of jurisdiction and/or grave abuse of discretion, and curtailed the power of the state to punish criminals." 2
Petitioner submits that the accused Magalop, who was assisted by counsel, had voluntarily, spontaneously and intelligently pleaded guilty to the crime
of robbery with force upon things. Thus, the trial court had no alternative but to pronounce judgment and impose the proper penalty.
Parenthetically, petitioner interposed no objection to the acquittal of accused Fernandez.

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It may be stressed that the petition is defective since it was filed by the Provincial Fiscal and Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and
not by the Solicitor General. We have already ruled in a number of cases that only the Solicitor General may bring or defend actions on behalf of the
People of the Philippines once such actions are brought before the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. 3 As a matter of fact, in his Manifestation
filed with this Court on 8 June 1989, the Solicitor General steered away from the case, explaining that the petition was filed directly by the Provincial
Fiscal of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, "without coursing it through the OSG," as a consequence of which it should be the fiscal who should submit the
required pleadings.
Nonetheless, even if we overlook this procedural lapse and treat the case on the merits, the petition should, just the same, be dismissed.
Petitioner would have this Court set aside the acquittal of Magalop, insisting that with his voluntary plea of guilt, the trial court had no other recourse
but to pronounce judgment and impose the proper penalty.
The essence of a plea of guilty is that the accused admits his guilt freely, voluntarily and with full knowledge and understanding of the precise nature
of the crime charged in the information as well as the consequences of his plea. 4 It is an unconditional admission of guilt with respect to the offense
charged. It forecloses the right to defend oneself from said charge and leaves the court with no alternative but to impose the penalty fixed by law
under the circumstances. 5 Thus, under the 1985 New Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended, when the accused pleads guilty to a non-capital
offense, the court may receive evidence from the parties to determine the penalty to be imposed. 6
This rule is at most directory. It will certainly be a clear abuse of discretion on the part of the judge to persist in holding the accused bound to his
admission of guilt and sentencing him accordingly when the totality of the evidence points to his acquittal. There is no rule which provides that simply
because the accused pleaded guilty to the charge that his conviction automatically follows. Additional evidence independent of the plea may be
considered to convince the judge that it was intelligently made.
Here it is evident, even from the start, that the case of the prosecution against the three (3) accused was virtually non-existent as the asported articles
were found in the possession of a certain Babie Tan and yet, quite inexplicably, the prosecution did not summon him to the witness stand. Babie Tan
could have positively identified those who sold him the stolen articles if called to testify. Or, he could very well have been the perpetrator of the crime
himself. In the absence of an explanation of how one has come into possession of stolen effects, the possessor is presumed to be the author of the
crime of robbery. 7
Indeed, not even the testimonies and the mute exhibits introduced during the trial could breathe life into the moribund state of the case for the
prosecution. While the loss of articles in the storeroom of the BNSHI was established, there was nothing, independent of the acknowledgment of guilt,
which could link accused Magalop to the robbery. As the trial court succinctly put it, "the plea of Juan Magalop was not intelligently done."
Admittedly, the procedure followed by respondent judge was not the normal course, as the better procedure would have been that set forth in People
v. Padernal, 8 where the court sustained the exoneration of the accused notwithstanding his plea of guilt. In that case, in view of the exculpatory
testimony of the accused who had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge of homicide, the trial court correctly considered the plea as withdrawn and, in its
place, ordered a plea of not guilty entered. This was not done by respondent judge. For even after finding that the plea of Magalop was not
intelligently made, Judge Mendoza proceeded to pass judgment without requiring Magalop to plead anew to the charge. Applying the principle laid
down in the Padernal case, it can fairly be concluded that there was no standing plea at the time the court rendered its judgment of acquittal hence
said acquittal was a nullity.
Be that as it may, however, in the interest of substantial justice, we cannot allow such procedural error to prevail over the constitutional right of the
accused to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. In fairness to Magalop, outside of his improvident plea of guilt, there is absolutely no
evidence against him presented or forthcoming. From the evidence of the prosecution, there is no way by which accused Magalop could have
been implicated. It is for this fundamental reason that, even pro hac vice, his acquittal must be sustained. Interdum even it ut exceptio quae prima
facie justa videtur, tamen inique noceat. It may sometime happen that a plea which on its face seem just, nevertheless is injurious and inequitable. It
is so in this instance.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit and the acquittal of the accused-respondent JUAN MAGALOP Y
SALVACION is sustained.
SO ORDERED.
Cruz J., Davide, Jr., Quiason and Kapunan, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., concurring:


I am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably upon the advice of his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of
the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem that this lawyer was less than conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime the man did
not commit. As the ponencia observes, "outside of his improvident plea of guilt, there is absolutely no evidence against him presented or
forthcoming. From the evidence of the prosecution, there is no way by which Magalop could have been implicated."
It seems to me that if any one is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an incredible lack of zeal in the discharge of his duties, was
apparently willing, without any moral compunctions at all, and without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison.
The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause. The defense counsel in this case did not seem to appreciate this

HONRA, Lyka 26
Criminal Procedure

responsibility when he prodded Magalop to plead guilty and waived the right to submit evidence in his behalf.

# Separate Opinions
CRUZ, J., concurring:
I am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably upon the advice of his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of
the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem that this lawyer was less than conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime the man did
not commit. As the ponencia observes, "outside of his improvident plea of guilt, there is absolutely no evidence against him presented or
forthcoming. From the evidence of the prosecution, there is no way by which Magalop could have been implicated."
It seems to me that if any one is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an incredible lack of zeal in the discharge of his duties, was
apparently willing, without any moral compunctions at all, and without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison.
The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause. The defense counsel in this case did not seem to appreciate this
responsibility when he prodded Magalop to plead guilty and waived the right to submit evidence in his behalf.