You are on page 1of 6

G.R. No.

191271

March 13, 2013

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee,


vs.
GERALD SORIANO alias PEDRO, Accused-Appellant.
DOCTRINE: Circumstantial evidence; when circumstantial evidence sufficient for
conviction. Under section 4, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, circumstantial evidence is
sufficient for conviction when the concurrence of the following factors obtain: (a) there is
more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived have
been proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as would prove
the crime beyond reasonable doubt. These circumstances and facts must be absolutely
incompatible with any reasonable hypothesis propounding the innocence of the
accused.
FACTS:
Around 8:00 a.m. of 31 December 1998, Soriano arrived with the nephew of Alice
Hibaya (Hibaya) to drink liquor at her house until about 10:00 a.m. Hibaya saw Soriano
drink some more at the house of one Noel Quinatadcan (Quinatadcan), who lived about
two meters away from her. She then witnessed Soriano leave with his other companions
at approximately 3:00 p.m.
Around that time, Vicky Bearneza (Vicky) was grazing her carabao on a palm road when
she saw Soriano, clad in a yellow t-shirt and blue denim, walk drunkenly towards the
shortcut to Wao. She did not see anyone else pass by the area until she went home
about 5:00 p.m.
At roughly 3:30 p.m. of the same day, Vickys sister BBB saw Soriano, whom she later
similarly recalled was in yellow t-shirt and pants, pass by her house as he walked to the
direction of Wao. It was also around the same time that she was expecting her eightyear-old daughter, AAA, to take the same shortcut on her way home from harvesting
palay.
On 1 January 1999, about 8:00 a.m., Tomas Bearneza (Tomas), the husband of Vicky,
found the lifeless body of AAA in a canal along the shortcut. The victim was naked
except for her shorts, which loosely hung below her knees. Her face and breast
revealed bite marks.
According to the mayor of Wao, Elvino C. Balicao (Mayor Balicao), Soriano confessed
to being under the influence of alcohol when the latter killed AAA, but denied having
raped her.

On 2 January 1999, the Chief Investigator of Wao, Senior Police Officer 4 Edwin B.
Bacerra, Sr. (SPO4 Bacerra), questioned Soriano. Because there were no lawyers
available and Soriano claimed to be a minor, a representative from the
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Mercedes Oyangoren
(Oyangoren), assisted him during the investigation. He admitted therein that he
saw AAA near the canal. She tried to run away, but he caught up with her. She
then started shouting for help, prompting him to panic and choke her. Thereafter,
he removed her clothes, bit her left breast and threw her into the water. These
statements were reduced into writing and signed by both Soriano and
Oyangoren.
Soriano claimed that, without informing him of the contents of the document,
SPO4 Bacerra made him sign it in front of Oyangoren. Mayor Balicao purportedly
questioned Soriano inside the formers vehicle, threatened him that he would be
fed to the crocodiles if he would not confess, and promised to help him if he
would admit to having perpetrated the crime. Allegedly for these reasons, Soriano
confessed to killing AAA.
Upon the filing of an Information for rape with homicide against Soriano, the case was
docketed as Criminal Case No. 3200-99 and raffled to the Regional Trial Court, 10th
Judicial Region, Marawi City, Branch 10 (RTC Br. 10). It later rendered a Decision
finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape with homicide and sentencing him to
suffer the death penalty
After the case was elevated for automatic review, the CA affirmed the ruling of the trial
court, but modified the sentence of Soriano to the penalty of reclusion perpetua without
eligibility for parole.
Considering that the CA has already disregarded his supposed confession to
Mayor Balicao, Soriano only raises the sole contention that the entirety of the
circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to sustain
his conviction.
To synthesize, the only circumstances cited to implicate him in the crime are the
following: (a) he passed through the shortcut to Wao around 3:00 p.m. on 31
December 1998; (b) Vicky did not see anyone else use that road from 3:00 p.m. to
5:00 p.m. on that day; and (c) the soiled garments confiscated from him were
identified to have been the same ones he was wearing then.
ISSUE:
Whether the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution was sufficient to hold
Soriano guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape with homicide

HELD:
Under Section 4, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, circumstantial evidence is sufficient
for conviction when the concurrence of the following factors obtain: (a) there is
more than one circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived
have been proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as
would prove the crime beyond reasonable doubt. These circumstances and facts
must be absolutely incompatible with any reasonable hypothesis propounding
the innocence of the accused.
In the case at bar, the prosecution failed to establish the existence of an
unbroken chain of circumstances that lead to no other logical conclusion but the
guilt of the accused.
The foregoing findings unquestionably establish that AAA was raped and killed.
However, the circumstances presented by the prosecution do not form a solid and
cohesive narrative that proves with moral certainty its contention that Soriano
perpetrated these heinous acts. To an unprejudiced mind, the fact that Soriano was the
only one whom Vicky saw pass through the shortcut to Wao from 3:00p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
does not logically lead to any conclusion regarding his participation in the raping and
killing of AAA. It is a mere conjecture that can be refuted by other equally conceivable
and rational inferences. It is possible that Vicky might have failed to see the perpetrator,
because he came from the same place as AAA; but, instead of traversing the shortcut
after raping and killing the victim, actually went back to his point of origin. Neither can
the mere fact that Soriano's clothes were soiled isolate him as the only probable
suspect, considering that his garments were not found anywhere near the scene of the
crime, but at his own home.
As a consequence, the circumstances borne out by the records are severely
insufficient to establish the culpability of Soriano as one may reasonably
extrapolate other possible scenarios other than those pointing to his guilt. The
evidence in this case having fallen short of the standard of moral certainty, any
doubt on the guilt of the accused should be considered in favor of his acquittal.
The law enforcers' missteps in the performance of the investigation and the
prosecuting attorney's careless presentation of the evidence cannot lead to any
other conclusion other than that there are doubts as to the guilt of the accused.

G.R. No. 202020

March 13, 2013

MIKE ALVIN PIELAGO y ROS, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DOCTRINE: Criminal Information; what controls is not the title of the information or the
designation of the offense but the actual facts recited in the information. What controls
is not the title of the information or the designation of the offense but the actual facts
recited in the information. In other words, it is the recital of facts of the commission of
the offense, not the nomenclature of the offense that determines the crime being
charged in the information.
FACTS:
On July 1, 2006, between 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., AAA and her two (2)-year old brother,
CCC, were playing with Pielago whom they call as Kuya Alvin at the porch of Boyet Ros
(Boyet) house. After playing, the three (3) went inside Boyets house to watch television.
After a while, Pielago turned off the television and brought AAA and CCC to a bedroom.
While CCC played with a toy carabao at a corner, Pielago made AAA lie down on bed.
Pielago then took off AAAs short pants and inserted his right hands forefinger inside
her vagina and exclaimed "masiram" (which means "delicious") as he brutely licked it
and spewed saliva in it. AAA felt pain and blood came out of her vagina which frightened
her.
Unsatisfied, Pielago made AAA lie on her chest on the same bed then fingered her
anus. After a few minutes, AAA and CCC were called for lunch by their mother, BBB.
Pielago immediately replaced AAAs shorts then sent her and CCC out of the bedroom.
BBB noticed the bloodstains at the back portion of AAAs shorts. When BBB asked AAA
what happened, AAA did not answer immediately until she said "Kuya Alvin tugsok
buyay saka lubot ko buda dila pa." (which means "Kuya Alvin inserted something in my
vagina and my anus and he licked me).
Incensed by what AAA told her, BBB went to a certain Manay Eden who accompanied
her to the house of Boyet where she found Pielago still lying on bed. BBB continually hit
Pielago as she asked him what he did to AAA. Pielago, however, denied the
accusations and maintained that he was asleep when the incident happened.
At 6:00 p.m. of the same day, AAA and BBB lodged a complaint at the Police Station
where AAA was physically examined by a medico-legal officer which issued a report
showing a superficial laceration found at the 7 oclock position of AAAs anus and the
presence of erythema in the perihymenal area and fossa navicularis caused by the

insertion into the victims genitals of a foreign object, possibly a small finger or any blunt
object.
In its Decision9 dated May 31, 2010, the RTC stated that it is necessary to
determine the actual or proper crime against the accused in view of the
discrepancy between the crime charged in the Information and the factual
allegations contained therein. On its face, the Information charged the crime of
acts of lasciviousness against Pielago. However, the factual allegations contained
in the Information and the provisions of existing laws pertain to the crime of rape
by sexual assault defined and penalized under Section 266-A of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8353.
The RTC brushed aside Pielagos defense of denial for being intrinsically weak. Finding
Pielago guilty for the crime of rape by sexual assault, the RTC sentenced him to an
indeterminate penalty of prision mayor, as minimum, to reclusion temporal, as
maximum, after considering Pielagos voluntary surrender as a mitigating circumstance,
and to pay AAA the amounts of P30,000.00 as civil indemnity, P30,000.00 as moral
damages,P25,000.00 as exemplary damages and P10,000.00 as temperate damages.1
On February 1, 2012, the CA rendered a Decision affirming in toto the RTCs decision.
The appellate court explained that despite the fact that the Information charged the
crime of acts of lasciviousness, the established factual circumstances therein
constitutes the elements of rape penalized under Article 266-A of the Revised Penal
Code such as: (1) that the offender inserted his penis into another persons mouth or
anal orifice or inserted any instrument or object into the genital or anal orifice of another
person; and (2) that the same was done to a child below 12 years of age. Citing the
case of Intestate Estate of Manolita Gonzales Vda. De Carungcong v. People, the CA
emphasized that it is not the nomenclature of the offense that determines the crime in
the Information but the recital of facts of the commission of the offense.
ISSUE:
Whether or not honorable court erred in convicting the petitioner of the crime of rape
with sexual assault despite his being charged in the information for acts of
lasciviousness only
HELD:
This Court finds no cogent reason to disturb the factual findings of the RTC, as affirmed
by the CA.
It is well-settled that in all criminal prosecutions, the accused is entitled to be informed
of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. In this respect, the designation in
the Information of the specific statute violated is imperative to avoid surprise on the

accused and to afford him the opportunity to prepare his defense accordingly. In the
instant case, the designation of the offense in the Information against Pielago was
changed from the crime of acts of lasciviousness in relation to Section 5(b) of R.A. No.
7610 to the crime of rape by sexual assault penalized under Article 266-A(2) of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 8353. It cannot be said, however, that
his right to be properly informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him
was violated. This Court is not unaware that the Information was worded, as follows: "x
x x commit an act of lasciviousness upon the person of AAA, a minor being four (4)
years old, by kissing the vagina and inserting one of his fingers to the vagina of AAA, x x
x." And, as correctly explained by the CA, the factual allegations contained in the
Information determine the crime charged against the accused and not the
designation of the offense as given by the prosecutor which is merely an opinion
not binding to the courts. As held in Malto v. People:
What controls is not the title of the information or the designation of the offense
but the actual facts recited in the information. In other words, it is the recital of
facts of the commission of the offense, not the nomenclature of the offense that
determines the crime being charged in the information