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A CADEMICUS REVIEW CENTER

Dean Ferdinand A. Tan

CRIMINAL LAW CASES (2012-2016)

J.BERSAMIN

People of the Philippines vs. Melanio del Castillo et. al.


G.R. No. 169084 | January 18, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.:
In self-defense and defense of strangers, unlawful aggression is a primordial element, a condition sine qua non.
If no unlawful aggression attributed to the victim is established, self-defense and defense of strangers are
unavailing, because there would be nothing to repel.
FACTS:
City Prosecutors Office of Batangas City charged all the accused in RTC with murder of Sabino Guinhawa,
Graciano Delgado and Victor Noriega. The accused pleaded not guilty. Perfinian, the eyewitness, saw the
assault by all the accused against Sabino D. Guinhawa, Graciano A. Delgado, and Victor B. Noriega. Perfinian
recalled that the accused surrounded their victims during the assault; that Arnold stabbed Graciano on the
stomach with a bolo, causing Graciano to fall to the ground; that Rico hacked Graciano with a bolo; that when
Victor tried to escape by running away, Hermogenes and Felix pursued and caught up with him; that Felix
hacked Victor; and that when Sabino ran away, Melanio and Joven pursued him.
PO3 Aguda was on duty as the desk officer of the Batangas City Police Station when he received the report
about the dead bodies found in Bulihan. During his investigation, he came upon one Rene Imbig who
mentioned seeing the six accused wielding bolos. From the site of the crime, he and his fellow officers went to
the houses of Melanio and Rico, which were about 20 meters from where the bodies were found. The houses
were abandoned, but he recovered a blood-stained knife with a curved end in Melanios house. Returning to the
station, he saw Hermogenes there, who informed him that the other suspects had fled to Sitio Tangisan,
Barangay Mayamot, Antipolo, Rizal, where Melanios mother-in-law resided. Accompanied by Rene and other
police officers, he travelled to Sitio Tangisan that afternoon. Upon arriving in Sitio Tangisan, Rene pointed to
Melanio who was just stepping out of his mother-in-laws house. Melanio ran upon seeing their approach, but
they caught up with him and subdued him. They recovered a bolo from Melanio. They found and arrested the
other suspects in the house of Melanios mother-in-law, and brought all the arrested suspects back to Batangas
City for investigation. There, the suspects admitted disposing some of their clothes by throwing them into the
Pasig River, and said that their other clothes were in the house of Melanio. They mentioned that the bolo used
by Hermogenes was still in his house. PO3 Aguda and his fellow officers recovered two shorts, a shirt, and a
knife - all blood-stained from Melanios house in Bulihan. Going next to the house of Hermogenes, Winifreda
del Castillo, the latters wife, turned over the bolo of Hermogenes. They learned that prior to the killings,
Melanio had been fuming at being cheated in a cockfight, and had uttered threats to kill at least three persons in
Bulihan.
Domingo Guinhawa, the elder brother of Sabino, declared that his family spent P50,000.00 for Sabinos funeral
and burial expenses. Rosalia Delgado, a sister of Graciano, attested that the expenses incurred for Gracianos
burial amounted to P51,510.00. Abella Perez Noriega, the wife of Victor, claimed that her family
spent P53,395.00 for Victors wake and interment. RTC convicted the accused of murder, but appreciated
voluntary surrender as a mitigating circumstance in favor of Hermogenes. CA affirmed the convictions,
correcting only the awards of damages and the penalty imposed on Hermogenes.

ISSUE: Whether or not Arnold and Joven must be acquitted of the crime charged

RULING:
We reiterate that the trial judges evaluation of the credibility of a witness and of his testimony is accorded the
highest respect because of the trial judges unique opportunity to directly observe the demeanor of the witness
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that enables him to determine whether the witness is telling the truth or not. Such evaluation, when affirmed by
the CA, is binding on the Court unless the appellant reveals facts or circumstances of weight that were
overlooked, misapprehended, or misinterpreted that, if considered, would materially affect the disposition of
the case. The accused did not present any fact or circumstance of weight that the RTC or the CA overlooked,
misapprehended, or misinterpreted that, if considered, would alter the result herein.
Perfinians identification of all the accused as the perpetrators was positive and reliable for being based on his
recognition of each of them during the incident. His being familiar with each of them eliminated any possibility
of mistaken identification. He spotted them from a distance of only six meters away under a good condition of
visibility (i.e., the moon then being very bright). Consequently, their denials and alibi were properly rejected.
Perfinian detailed the distinct acts done by each of the accused during their assault. Such recollection of the
fatal events was categorical and strong, and there was no better indicator of the reliability and accuracy of his
recollection than its congruence with the physical evidence adduced at the trial. The accused did not show if
Perfinian had harbored any ill-feeling towards any or all of them that he was moved to testify falsely against
them.

Arnold and Joven did not act in self-defense and in defense of strangers
In order for self-defense to be appreciated, the accused must prove by clear and convincing evidence the
following elements: (a) unlawful aggression on the part of the victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means
employed to prevent or repel it; and (c) lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending
himself. On the other hand, the requisites of defense of strangers are, namely: (a) unlawful aggression by the
victim; (b) reasonable necessity of the means to prevent or repel it; and (c) the person defending be not induced
by revenge, resentment, or other evil motive.
In self-defense and defense of strangers, unlawful aggression is a primordial element, a condition sine qua non.
If no unlawful aggression attributed to the victim is established, self-defense and defense of strangers are
unavailing, because there would be nothing to repel. The character of the element of unlawful aggression has
been aptly described in People v. Nugas, Accordingly, the accused must establish the concurrence of three
elements of unlawful aggression, namely: (a) there must be a physical or material attack or assault; (b) the
attack or assault must be actual, or, at least, imminent; and (c) the attack or assault must be unlawful.

Unlawful aggression is of two kinds: (a) actual or material unlawful aggression; and (b) imminent unlawful
aggression. Actual or material unlawful aggression means an attack with physical force or with a weapon, an
offensive act that positively determines the intent of the aggressor to cause the injury. Imminent unlawful
aggression means an attack that is impending or at the point of happening; it must not consist in a mere
threatening attitude, nor must it be merely imaginary, but must be offensive and positively strong (like aiming a
revolver at another with intent to shoot or opening a knife and making a motion as if to attack). Imminent
unlawful aggression must not be a mere threatening attitude of the victim, such as pressing his right hand to his
hip where a revolver was holstered, accompanied by an angry countenance, or like aiming to throw a pot.
By invoking self-defense and defense of strangers, Arnold and Joven in effect admitted their parts in killing the
victims. The rule consistently adhered to in this jurisdiction is that when the accuseds defense is self-defense
he thereby admits being the author of the death of the victim, that it becomes incumbent upon him to prove the
justifying circumstance to the satisfaction of the court. The rationale for the shifting of the burden of evidence
is that the accused, by his admission, is to be held criminally liable unless he satisfactorily establishes the fact
of self-defense. But the burden to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt is not thereby lifted from the shoulders
of the State, which carries it until the end of the proceedings. In other words, only the onus probandi shifts to
the accused, for self-defense is an affirmative allegation that must be established with certainty by sufficient
and satisfactory proof.2 He must now discharge the burden by relying on the strength of his own evidence, not
on the weakness of that of the Prosecution, considering that the Prosecutions evidence, even if weak, cannot be
disbelieved in view of his admission of the killing.

Arnold and Joven did not discharge their burden.


Arnold and Joven did not adequately prove unlawful aggression; hence, neither self-defense nor defense of
stranger was a viable defense for them. We note that in addition to the eyewitness account of Perfinian directly
incriminating them, their own actuations immediately after the incident confirmed their guilt beyond reasonable
doubt. As the CA cogently noted, their flight from the neighborhood where the crimes were committed, their
concealing of the weapons used in the commission of the crimes, their non-reporting of the crimes to the police,
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and their failure to surrender themselves to the police authorities fully warranted the RTCs rejection of their
claim of self-defense and defense of stranger.

The State duly established conspiracy and abuse of superior strength


The accused, armed with bolos, surrounded and attacked the victims, and pursued whoever of the latter
attempted to escape from their assault. Thereafter, the accused, except Hermogenes, fled their homes and
together hastily proceeded to Antipolo, Rizal. Their individual and collective acts prior to, during and following
the attack on the victims reflected a common objective of killing the latter. Thereby, all the accused, without
exception, were co-conspirators. Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement
concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy is either express or implied. Thus,
the State does not always have to prove the actual agreement to commit the crime in order to establish
conspiracy, for it is enough to show that the accused acted in concert to achieve a common purpose.
Conspiracy may be deduced from the mode and manner of the commission of the offense, or from the acts of
the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime indubitably pointing to a joint purpose, a
concert of action and a community of interest. Where the acts of the accused collectively and individually
demonstrate the existence of a common design towards the accomplishment of the same unlawful purpose,
conspiracy is evident, and all the perpetrators will be liable as principals. Once a conspiracy is established, each
co-conspirator is as criminally liable as the others, for the act of one is the act of all. A co-conspirator does not
have to participate in every detail of the execution; neither does he have to know the exact part performed by
the co-conspirator in the execution of the criminal act.
In view of the foregoing, the Court rejects the pleas for exculpation of the other accused grounded on their
respective alibis considering that Arnold and Jovens admission of sole responsibility for the killings did not
eliminate their liability as co-conspirators. Abuse of superior strength is an aggravating circumstance that
qualifies the killing of a person to murder. It is present if the accused purposely uses excessive force out of
proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked, or if there is notorious inequality of forces
between the victim and aggressor, and the latter takes advantage of superior strength. Superiority in strength
may refer to the number of aggressors and weapons used.
The CA concluded that the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender should not be appreciated in favor
of Hermogenes. In order that voluntary surrender is appreciated as a mitigating circumstance, the following
requisites must concur: (a) the accused has not been actually arrested; (b) the accused surrenders himself to a
person in authority or the latters agent; and (c) surrender is voluntary. The third requisite requires the surrender
to be spontaneous, indicating the intent of the accused to unconditionally submit himself to the authorities,
either because he acknowledges his guilt or he wishes to save them the trouble and expenses necessary for his
search and capture. Although Hermogenes went to Barangay Chairman Aloria of Bulihan after the killings, he
did so to seek protection against the retaliation of the victims relatives, not to admit his participation in the
killing of the victims.

People of the Philippines vs. Geron De Los Santos


G.R. No. 170839, January 18, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.:
The mere denial of knowledge that a substance is a regulated drug is insufficient to exculpate the person found
in possession of it, for he must have to satisfactorily explain how the drug came to his possession. Without his
satisfactory explanation, he will be presumed to have animus possidendi, or the intent to possess. His guilt will
then be established beyond reasonable doubt.
FACTS:
An alert security guard halted Geron Delos Santos y Maristela as he was about to bring a gift-wrapped
box out of the Somerset Condominium in Leveriza Street, Pasay City. When Delos Santos opened the box for
inspection upon demand of the security guard, the box contained plastic bags with 6.2 kilograms of
suspected shabu. The security guard forthwith apprehended Delos Santos and impounded the box and its
contents. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was immediately notified of the incident, and it
dispatched its agents to the place. Subsequently, Delos Santos was charged with a violation of Section 16 of
Republic Act No. 6425 (Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972). Regional Trial Court, Branch 119, in Pasay City
(RTC) convicted Delos Santos as charged.
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ISSUE: Whether or not the accused must be acquitted based on hearsay and failure to establish animus
possidendi

RULING: No
Firstly, Delos Santos objects to the testimonies of NBI agent Esmeralda and building security
supervisor Zabat on the discovery of the shabu as hearsay. He asserts that the State consequently had no
evidence with which to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt in view of the failure to present the
apprehending security guard as a witness against him.
The objection deserves no consideration. To begin with, Delos Santos waived the objection on the
discovery of the shabu as hearsay by not raising it during the trial. Equally significant in this regard is that he
expressly admitted during the trial his actual possession of the box containing the shabu. His admission thereby
rendered the testimony of the security guard unnecessary and superfluous. Moreover, it is erroneous for him to
treat the testimonies of NBI agent Esmeralda and building security supervisor Zabat as hearsay as to his
possession of the shabu. They were actually eyewitnesses as far as the physical turn-over of the shabu seized
from Delos Santos was concerned. That physical turn-over directly linked Delos Santos to the shabu presented
and admitted as evidence at the trial. As such, the turn-over constituted strong evidence of the possession of
the shabu by Delos Santos.
In a prosecution for possession of illegal substances, proof of animus possidendi on the part of the
accused is indispensable. But animus possidendi is a state of mind, and is thus to be determined on a case-to-
case basis by taking into consideration the prior and contemporaneous acts of the accused, as well as the
surrounding circumstances. It may and must be inferred usually from the attendant events in each particular
case. Upon the States presenting to the trial court of the facts and circumstances from which to infer the
existence of animus possidendi, it becomes incumbent upon the Defense to rebut the inference with evidence
that the accused did not exercise power and control of the illicit thing in question, and did not intend to do so.
For that purpose, a mere unfounded assertion of the accused that he did not know that he had possession of the
illegal drug is insufficient, and animus possidendi is then presumed to exist on his part because he was thereby
shown to have performed an act that the law prohibited and punished. It cannot be disputed that Delos Santos
had animus possidendi. His conduct prior to and following his apprehension evinced his guilty knowledge of
the contents of the gift-wrapped box as shabu. His uncorroborated story of having been summoned to help in
the cleaning of Unit 706 was a sham excuse that he peddled to explain his presence in the Somerset
Condominium.

People of the Philippines vs. Darwin Relato


G.R. No. 173794, January 18, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.:
Statutory rules on preserving the chain of custody of confiscated prohibited drugs and related items are
designed to ensure the integrity and reliability of the evidence to be presented against the accused. Their
observance is the key to the successful prosecution of illegal possession or illegal sale of prohibited drugs.
FACTS:
PO3 Sonny Evasco of the Bulan Police Station received a tip from his asset to the effect that Relato
would be peddling illegal drugs around midnight in Barangay Aquino, Zone 7, Bulan, Sorsogon. SPO1 Masujer
formed a team to conduct a buy-bust operation against Relato. SPO1 Masujer prepared a P500.00 bill to be the
buy-bust money by marking the bill with his initials. Relato and a companion (later identified as Pido Paredes)
arrived together on board a motorcycle. Relato alighted to confer with the asset who was the poseur buyer.
After the transaction was completed, PO3 Evasco signaled to the rest of the team, who drew near and
apprehended Relato. Seized from Relato was the marked P500.00 buy-bust bill. The poseur buyer turned over
to PO3 Evasco the two transparent sachets containing crystalline substances that Relato sold to the poseur
buyer. Paredes escaped.

SPO1 Masujer marked the two transparent sachets with his own initials EM upon returning to the
police station. Forensic Chemical Officer Josephine Clemen of the PNP Crime Laboratory in Region V
certified that the contents were positive for the presence of methamphetamine hydrochloride. RTC convicted
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Relato for violating Section 5 of Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002). CA
affirmed the conviction.

ISSUE: Whether or not CA erred in not acquitting the accused

RULING: Yes
Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165 provides the procedure to be followed in the seizure and custody
of prohibited drugs. A review of the records establishes that the aforestated procedure laid down by Republic
Act No. 9165 and its IRR was not followed. Several lapses on the part of the buy-bust team are readily
apparent. To start with, no photograph of the seized shabu was taken. Secondly, the buy-bust team did not
immediately mark the seized shabu at the scene of the crime and in the presence of Relato and witnesses.
Thirdly, although there was testimony about the marking of the seized items being made at the police station,
the records do not show that the marking was done in the presence of Relato or his chosen representative. And,
fourthly, no representative of the media and the Department of Justice, or any elected official attended the
taking of the physical inventory and to sign the inventory.

Under the foregoing rules, the marking immediately after seizure is the starting point in the custodial
link, because succeeding handlers of the prohibited drugs or related items will use the markings as reference. It
further serves to segregate the marked evidence from the corpus of all other similar and related evidence from
the time they are seized from the accused until they are disposed of at the end of the criminal proceedings,
obviating switching, planting, or contamination of evidence.It is crucial in ensuring the integrity of the chain
of custody, which is defined in Section 1(b) of Dangerous Drugs Board Regulation No. 1, Series of 2002.
While the last paragraph of Section 21(a) of the IRR provides a saving mechanism to ensure that not
every case of non-compliance irreversibly prejudices the States evidence, it is significant to note that the
application of the saving mechanism to a situation is expressly conditioned upon the State rendering an
explanation of the lapse or lapses in the compliance with the procedures. Here, however, the Prosecution
tendered no explanation why the buy-bust team had failed to mark the seized shabu immediately after the
arrest. Nevertheless, even assuming that marking the shabu at the scene of the crime by the buy-bust team had
not been practical or possible for the buy-bust team to do, the saving mechanism would still not be applicable
due to the lack of a credible showing of any effort undertaken by the buy-bust team to keep the shabu intact
while in transit to the police station.

The procedural lapses committed by the buy-bust team underscored the uncertainty about the identity
and integrity of the shabu admitted as evidence against the accused. In a prosecution of the sale and possession
of methamphetamine hydrochloride prohibited under Republic Act No. 9165, the State not only carries the
heavy burden of proving the elements of the offense of, but also bears the obligation to prove the corpus delicti,
failing in which the State will not discharge its basic duty of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable
doubt. It is settled that the State does not establish the corpus delicti when the prohibited substance subject of
the prosecution is missing or when substantial gaps in the chain of custody of the prohibited substance raise
grave doubts about the authenticity of the prohibited substance presented as evidence in court. Any gap renders
the case for the State less than complete in terms of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable
doubt. Thus, Relato deserves exculpation, especially as we recall that his defense of frame-up became plausible
in the face of the weakness of the Prosecutions evidence of guilt.

People of the Philippines vs. PO2 Eduardo Valdez and Edwin Valdez
G.R. No. 175602, January 18, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.:
The sufficiency of the allegations of the facts and circumstances constituting the elements of the crime charged
is crucial in every criminal prosecution because of the ever-present obligation of the State to duly inform the
accused of the nature and cause of the accusation.
FACTS:
Heidi dela Cruz (a barbecue vendor) and Noel Valad-on (a tricycle driver) saw accused Edwin Valdez alight
from a bus. The latter bought P100.00 worth of barbecue from Heidi then proceeded towards home. He was
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walking along Corregidor Street when Heidi saw Jun Sayson (Moises), then holding a gun, block his (Edwins)
way. Jun Sayson poked a gun at accused Edwin, shouting, Putang-ina mo, papatayin kita. The latter raised
both his hands and said Wag kuya Jun, maawa ka. Accused Eduardo Valdez (a policeman), then carrying his
6-year old child, was walking when his way was likewise blocked but this time, by the siblings Joselito and
Ferdinand as well as their stepfather. Joselito twisted one of his (Eduardos) hands at his back while his
(Joseltios) stepfather held the other. Ferdinand fired a gun but accused Eduardo was able to evade. Joselito,
who was positioned behind Eduardo, was hit. He slumped and bled. He asked Heidi to inform his family that he
was hit. Heidi ran away. She saw Jun (Moises) and accused Edwin grappling. Thereafter, she heard gunshots.

Accused Eduardo ducked during the firing. He pretended to be dead. Ferdinand stopped firing.
Accused Eduardos son approached him crying. Accused thereafter, brought his son home, took his service
firearm and on his way back to the scene of the incident when he met General Jesus Almadin, his commanding
officer (CO). He reported the incident and sought for advice. He was told to take a rest and go back the
following day. He accompanied his CO to Camp Crame. He surrendered his firearm to Sr./Insp. Rodolfo Araza
of the CIU. Accused Edwin Valdez likewise surrendered. RTC convicted the two accused of three counts of
murder and sentenced them to suffer reclusion perpetua for each count of murder. On appeal, the CA affirmed
the convictions.

ISSUE: Whether or not the States witness is credible and whether or not there is conspiracy

RULING: Yes
The trial court was in the best position to assess the credibility of witnesses by virtue of its first-hand
observation of the demeanor, conduct and attitude of the witnesses under grilling examination. The only time
when a reviewing court was not bound by the trial courts assessment of credibility arises upon a showing of a
fact or circumstance of weight and influence that was overlooked and, if considered, could affect the outcome
of the case. No such fact or circumstance has been brought to the Courts attention.
It is not trite to remind that a truth-telling witness is not always expected to give an error-free testimony
because of the lapse of time and the treachery of human memory; and that inaccuracies noted in testimony may
even suggest that the witness is telling the truth and has not been rehearsed. To properly appreciate the worth of
testimony, therefore, the courts do not resort to the individual words or phrases alone but seek out the whole
impression or effect of what has been said and done.
The testimonial accounts of the States witnesses entirely jibed with the physical evidence. Also, Dr.
Wilfredo Tierra of the NBI Medico-Legal Office opined that the presence of marginal abrasions at the points of
entry indicated that the gunshot wounds were inflicted at close range. Given that physical evidence was of the
highest order and spoke the truth more eloquently than all witnesses put together, the congruence between the
testimonial recollections and the physical evidence rendered the findings adverse to PO2 Valdez and Edwin
conclusive.
Conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a
felony and decide to commit the felony. Proof of the actual agreement to commit the crime need not be direct
because conspiracy may be implied or inferred from their acts. Herein, both lower courts deduced the
conspiracy between the accused from the mode and manner in which they perpetrated the killings. We are
satisfied that their deduction was warranted. To be a conspirator, one did not have to participate in every detail
of the execution; neither did he have to know the exact part performed by his co-conspirator in the execution of
the criminal acts.

Treachery is the employment of means, methods, or forms in the execution of any of the crimes against
persons which tend to directly and specially insure its execution, without risk to the offending party arising
from the defense which the offended party might make. It encompasses a wide variety of actions and attendant
circumstances, the appreciation of which is particular to a crime committed. Corollarily, the defense against the
appreciation of a circumstance as aggravating or qualifying is also varied and dependent on each particular
instance. Such variety generates the actual need for the State to specifically aver the factual circumstances or
particular acts that constitute the criminal conduct or that qualify or aggravate the liability for the crime in the
interest of affording the accused sufficient notice to defend himself.

It cannot be otherwise, for, indeed, the real nature of the criminal charge is determined not from the
caption or preamble of the information, or from the specification of the provision of law alleged to have been
violated, which are mere conclusions of law, but by the actual recital of the facts in the complaint or
information. To discharge its burden of informing him of the charge, the State must specify in the information
the details of the crime and any circumstance that aggravates his liability for the crime. The requirement of
sufficient factual averments is meant to inform the accused of the nature and cause of the charge against him in
order to enable him to prepare his defense. It emanates from the presumption of innocence in his favor,
pursuant to which he is always presumed to have no independent knowledge of the details of the crime he is
being charged with. To have the facts stated in the body of the information determine the crime of which he
stands charged and for which he must be tried thoroughly accords with common sense and with the
requirements of plain justice.
The allegations in the information are controlling in the ultimate analysis. Thus, when there is a
variance between the offense charged in the information and that proved, and the offense as charged is included
in or necessarily includes the offense proved, the accused shall be convicted of the offense proved included in
the offense charged, or of the offense charged included in the offense proved. In that regard, an offense charged
necessarily includes the offense proved when some of the essential elements or ingredients of the former, as
alleged in the information, constitute the latter; 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.

People of the Philippines vs. Cesar Bautista


G.R. No. 177320, February 22, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.:
To secure a conviction for illegal sale of shabu, the following essential elements must be established: (a) the
identities of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and (b) the delivery of the
thing sold and the payment for the thing. What is material in prosecutions for illegal sale of shabu is the proof
that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti as
evidence.
FACTS:
An informant went to the Station Drug Enforcement Unit of the Caloocan Police Station to report the
peddling of illegal drugs by Bautista on Kasama Street, Barangay 28, Caloocan City. Police Insp. Cesar Cruz
formed a team to conduct a buy-bust operation against Bautista. PO2 Tayag, designated as the poseur-buyer,
was given a P100.00 bill as buy-bust money, on which he placed his initials ALT. The informant pointed out
Bautista to the team. Bautista was then standing in front of a house. PO2 Tayag and the informant then
approached Bautista even as the rest of the team took up positions nearby. The informant introduced PO2
Tayag to Bautista as biyahero ng shabu, after which the informant left PO2 Tayag and Bautista alone to
themselves. PO2 Tayag told Bautista: Cesar, pakuha ng piso. Bautista drew a plastic sachet from his pocket
and handed it to PO2 Tayag, who in turn handed the P100.00 bill buy-bust money to Bautista. PO2 Tayag then
turned his cap backwards as the pre-arranged signal to the back-up members. The latter rushed forward and
arrested Bautista. The Office of the City Prosecutor of Caloocan City filed in the RTC two separate
informations charging Cesar Bautista y Santos with a violation of Section 5 and a violation of Section 11 (3) of
RA 9165. RTC found Bautista guilty as charged. CA affirmed the RTC judgment.

ISSUE: Whether or not CA erred in affirming his conviction because: (a) there were inconsistencies in the
testimonies of Prosecution witnesses as to who of them had actually received the tip from the informant; (b)
PO2 Tayags testimony that Bautista had handed him a sachet of shabu without inquiring about the formers
identity ran counter to human experience; (c) the back-up members of the buy-bust team did not actually
witness the transaction between PO2 Tayag and Bautista; and (d) the plastic sachets were not immediately
marked after their seizure from Bautista

RULING:
Illegal sale and illegal possession of shabu were established beyond reasonable doubt
To secure a conviction for illegal sale of shabu, the following essential elements must be established: (a) the
identities of the buyer and the seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration; and (b) the delivery of the
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thing sold and the payment for the thing. What is material in prosecutions for illegal sale of shabu is the proof
that the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus delicti as
evidence. The requisites for illegal sale of shabu were competently and convincingly proven by the
Prosecution. PO2 Tayag, as the poseur-buyer, attested that Bautista sold shabu to him during a legitimate buy-
bust operation.
For illegal possession of a dangerous drug, like shabu, the elements are: (a) the accused is in possession of an
item or object that is identified to be a prohibited or dangerous drug; (b) such possession is not authorized by
law; and (c) the accused freely and consciously possessed the drug. The elements of illegal possession of a
dangerous drug were similarly competently and convincingly established by the Prosecution. SPO1 Ybaez
stated that upon seeing the pre-arranged signal given by PO2 Tayag, he and the other members of the team
proceeded to arrest Bautista; and that he frisked Bautista and then recovered six other plastic sachets from
Bautistas pocket.
The lower courts justifiably accorded credence to the eyewitness testimonies of PO2 Tayag, PO2 Caragdag,
and SPO1 Ybaez. Their testimonial accounts were consistent with the documentary and object evidence of the
Prosecution. It was significant that no ill motive was imputed to them to falsely testify against Bautista, with
Bautista himself admitting not being aware of any reason why they would wrongly incriminate him.
In drug-related prosecutions, the State bears the burden not only of proving the elements of the offenses of sale
and possession of shabu under Republic Act No. 9165, but also of proving the corpus delicti, the body of the
crime. The dangerous drug is itself the very corpus delicti of the violation of the law prohibiting the possession
of the dangerous drug. The rule on chain of custody under Section 21 of Republic Act No. 9165 expressly
demands the identification of the persons who handle the confiscated items for the purpose of duly monitoring
the authorized movements of the illegal drugs and/or drug paraphernalia from the time they are seized from the
accused until the time they are presented in court.
Here, the buy-bust team did not mark the sachets until after reaching the police station. Even so, the
omission did not destroy the integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated items. We are satisfied
that PO2 Tayag and SPO1 Ybaez brought the confiscated sachets of shabu to the police station
immediately after the buy-bust operation, and turned them over to the duty investigator, PO2 Castillo, for
marking; that in their presence, PO2 Castillo marked the sachet of shabu sold by Bautista to PO2 Tayag as
CBS (Bautistas initials) Buy-bust, and the six sachets of shabu recovered by SPO1 Ybaez from Bautistas
possession as CBS-1, CBS-2, CBS-3, CBS-4, CBS-5, and CBS-6; that PO2 Castillo then delivered the marked
sachets to Insp. Cruz who in turn caused their transmittal to the Crime Laboratory Office, Northern Police
District (NPD), in Caloocan City, for appropriate laboratory examination; that upon the instruction of Insp.
Cruz, SPO1 Ybaez hand-carried the written request and the marked sachets to the NPD Crime Laboratory
Office for laboratory examination, where one PO2 Bonifacio received them; and that thereafter, Forensic
Chemist Arturo certified in the Physical Science Report prepared following his qualitative examination that the
contents of the marked sachets were positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu.
We have held that a non-compliance with the regulations is not necessarily fatal as to render an accuseds arrest
illegal or the items confiscated from him inadmissible as evidence of his guilt, for what is of the utmost
importance is the preservation of the integrity and the evidentiary value of the confiscated items that will be
utilized in the determination of his guilt or innocence.

Denial and frame-up not established


Bautistas denial and defense of frame-up were given no consideration due to their being self-serving and
uncorroborated. He did not present Rosario, his wife, to corroborate his claim of being framed up although she
was supposed to have been around at the time of his arrest. He did not also adduce evidence to substantiate his
story of being falsely incriminated in a frame-up by competent evidence. His claim thereon did not prevail over
the positive identification of him by PO2 Tayag as the drug pusher he had transacted with.

Inconsistencies in testimony are inconsequential


There is no dispute that the matter of who among the policemen actually received the report from the informant
did not relate to the essential elements of the crimes charged. Nor did such matter refer to the actual buy-bust
itself that crucial moment when Bautista was caught red-handed selling and possessing shabu in question. An
inconsistency that had nothing to do with the elements of the crime could not be a basis for acquittal.

People of the Philippines vs. Erland Sabadlab


G.R. No. 175924, March 14, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.:
FACTS:
AAA was then walking at around noon of March 12, 2002 on Dapitan Street in Makati City,
proceeding towards MA Montessori to fetch her employers son who was studying there. Suddenly, a man
(later identified as Sabadlab) grabbed her by the shoulder and ordered her to go with him. She recognized him
to be the man who had persistently greeted her every time she had bought pandesal at 5 oclock am near her
employers house in the past two weeks. Alarmed, she refused to do his bidding, but Sabadlab poked a gun at
her throat. Two other men whom she did not recognize joined Sabadlab at that point. They forced her into the
backseat of a parked car, and one of Sabadlabs cohorts blindfolded her with a handkerchief. The car moved
forward, and stopped after twenty minutes of travel. Still blindfolded, she was brought out of the car.
Sabadlab said that he would remove her clothes. Sabadlab then undressed her, leaving only the blindfold on
her. One of them tied her hands behind her back. Sabadlab began kissing her body from the neck downwards.
Although blindfolded, she knew that it was Sabadlab because his cohorts were calling out his name as he was
kissing her body. Then they made her lie flat on the ground with her hands still tied behind her back.
Sabadlab raped her in that position. The others took their turns in raping her after Sabadlab. To prevent her
from shouting for help, Sabadlab stuffed her mouth with crumpled newspapers. The three ravished her again
and again, that she could not remember the number of times they did so.
At around 3:00 oclock pm, Sabadlab and his cohorts returned a blindfolded AAA by car back to
Dapitan Street, but let her go only after sternly warning that they would surely kill her if she told anyone about
the rapes. Once they left, she proceeded to MA Montessori to fetch her ward. Upon her arrival at the house,
AAAs employer noticed the kiss marks on her neck. AAA at first lied about the kiss marks, but she ultimately
disclosed the rapes because her irritated employer slapped and boxed her on the stomach to force her to
disclose. Her employer brought AAA to the Makati Police Station to report the rapes. The policemen
apprehended Sabadlab and brought him to the station, where he gave his name as Erland Sabadlab y Bayquel.
These antecedents impelled the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati to immediately charge Sabadlab and
two John Does with forcible abduction with rape. RTC convicted Sabadlab for forcible abduction with rape.

ISSUE: Whether or not the conviction is correct

RULING: Yes
Because both the RTC and the CA unanimously regarded AAA as a credible and spontaneous witness,
he has now to present clear and persuasive reasons to convince us to reverse both lower courts determination of
credibility and to resolve the appeal his way. Sabadlab has not tendered any clear and persuasive reasons that
may warrant the reversal or modification of the findings of both lower courts on the credibility of AAA and his
criminal liability. The supposed inconsistencies dwelled on minor details or collateral matters that the CA
precisely held to be badges of veracity and manifestations of truthfulness due to their tendency of
demonstrating that the testimony had not been rehearsed or concocted. It is also basic that inconsistencies
bearing on minor details or collateral matters should not adversely affect the substance of the witness
declaration, veracity, or weight of testimony. The only inconsistencies that might have discredited the victims
credible testimony were those that affected or related to the elements of the crime. Alas, that was not true
herein. witnesses and of weighing their credibility is best left to the trial judge by virtue of the first-hand
impressions he derives while the witnesses testify before him.
AAAs recollection of the principal occurrence and her positive identification of the rapists,
particularly Sabadlab, were firm. It is reassuring, too, that her trustworthiness in identifying Sabadlab as one of
the rapists rested on her recognition of him as the man who had frequently flirted with her at the store where
she had usually bought pandesal for her employers table. As such, the identification of him as one of the rapists
became impervious to doubt.
AAAs failure to shout for help and her failure to escape were not factors that should diminish
credibility due to their being plausibly explained, the first by the fact that her mouth had been stuffed by
Sabadlab with crumpled newspaper, preventing her from making any outcry, and the second by the fact that the
culprits had blindfolded her and had also tied her hands behind her back.

Sabadlabs allegation that AAA did not sustain any bodily injuries was actually contrary to the medical
certification showing her several physical injuries and the penetration of her female organ. This should debunk
without difficulty his submission that she did not offer any resistance to the sexual assaults she suffered. Her
resistance to Sabadlabs order for her to go with him was immediately stifled by his poking of the gun at her
throat and by appearance of his two cohorts.
We next deal with the characterization of the crime as forcible abduction with rape. The principal
objective of Sabadlab and his two cohorts in abducting AAA from Dapitan Street and in bringing her to another
place was to rape and ravish her. This objective became evident from the successive acts of
Sabadlab immediately after she had alighted from the car in completely undressing her as to expose her whole
body (except the eyes due to the blindfold), in kissing her body from the neck down, and in having
carnal knowledge of her (in that order). Although forcible abduction was seemingly committed, we cannot hold
him guilty of the complex crime of forcible abduction with rape when the objective of the abduction was to
commit the rape. Under the circumstances, the rape absorbed the forcible abduction.

People of the Philippines vs. Julius Taguilid


G.R. No. 181544, April 11, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.
FACTS:
Taguilid was charged in the RTC with rape in relation to Republic Act No. 7610 (Special Protection of
Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act). Taguilid suddenly entered AAAs room
while she was resting; that he was a cousin of her mother who had been living with her family in that house
since 2000; that upon entering her room, he pushed her down on her back, then inserted his finger in her vagina
and later on inserted his penis in her vagina; that he next turned her over and penetrated her anus with his penis
while in that position; and that she did not shout for help because he threatened to kill her if she did. At the time
of the rape, AAA was 12 years and ten months old. RTC convicted the accused which was affirmed by CA.

ISSUE: Whether or not the trial court erred in convicting the accused?

RULING: No
First of all, it is basic that findings of the CA affirming those of the RTC as the trial court are generally
conclusive on the Court which is not a trier of facts. With Taguilid not showing that the RTC and the CA
overlooked any fact or material of consequence that could have altered the outcome if they had taken it into due
consideration, the Court must fully accept the findings of the CA. Secondly, the medico-legal finding showing
AAAs hymenal laceration as deep-healed and as having healed 5 to 10 days from the time of (infliction of) the
injury did not detract from the commission of the rape on May 29, 2002. For one, hymenal injury has never
been an element of rape, for a female might still be raped without such injury resulting. The essence of rape is
carnal knowledge of a female either against her will (through force or intimidation) or without her
consent (where the female is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or is under 12 years of age, or is
demented).

Thirdly, AAAs failure to shout for help although she knew that her father was tending to the family
store just downstairs was not a factor to discredit her or to diminish the credibility of her evidence on the rape.
She explained her failure by stating that Taguilid had threatened to harm her should she shout. She thereby
commanded credence, considering that she was not expected to easily overcome her fear of him due to her
being then a minor just under 13 years of age at the time of the rape. Indeed, the workings of the human mind
placed under emotional stress are unpredictable, and people react differently - some may shout, others may
faint, and still others may be shocked into insensibility even if there may be a few who may openly welcome
the intrusion. There can be no question that the testimony of a child who has been a victim in rape is normally
given full weight and credence. Judicial experience has enabled the courts to accept the verity that when a
minor says that she was raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was committed against
her.
And, fourthly, Taguilids defense at the trial was plain denial of the positive assertions made against
him. He then declared that the charge of rape against him resulted from BBBs misunderstanding of what had
10

really occurred in AAAs bedroom just before BBB had appeared unannounced. Yet, such denial was devoid of
persuasion due to its being easily and conveniently resorted to, and due to denial being generally weaker than
and not prevailing over the positive assertions of both AAA and BBB.

People of the Philippines vs. Edmundo Villaflores


G.R. No. 184926, April 11, 2012
BERSAMIN, J.:
Circumstantial evidence is admissible as proof to establish both the commission of a crime and the identity of
the culprit.
FACTS:
The victim was Marita, a girl who was only four years and eight months old when her very young life
was snuffed out by strangulation. She had been playing at the rear of their residence in Bagong
Silang, Caloocan City when Julia, her mother, first noticed her missing from home. At 6 am of the next day,
Manito reported to the police that Marita was missing. They found Maritas lifeless body covered with a blue
and yellow sack inside the comfort room of an abandoned house about five structures away from their own
house. She had been tortured and strangled till death. The ensuing police investigation led to two witnesses,
Aldrin Bautista and Jovy Solidum, who indicated that Villaflores might be the culprit who had raped and killed
Marita. City Prosecutor of Caloocan City filed in the RTC the information charging Villaflores with rape with
homicide. RTC convicted Villaflores of rape with homicide, holding that the circumstantial evidence led to no
other conclusion but that his guilt was shown beyond reasonable doubt.

ISSUE: Whether or not RTC and the CA gravely erred in finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape
with homicide because the State did not discharge its burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt every fact and
circumstance constituting the crime charged.

RULING: No
Nature of rape with homicide as a composite crime, explained
The felony of rape with homicide is a composite crime. A composite crime, also known as a special complex
crime, is composed of two or more crimes that the law treats as a single indivisible and unique offense for being
the product of a single criminal impulse. It is a specific crime with a specific penalty provided by law, and
differs from a compound or complex crime under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code.
There are distinctions between a composite crime, on the one hand, and a complex or compound crime
under Article 48, supra, on the other hand. In a composite crime, the composition of the offenses is fixed by
law; in a complex or compound crime, the combination of the offenses is not specified but generalized, that is,
grave and/or less grave, or one offense being the necessary means to commit the other. For a composite crime,
the penalty for the specified combination of crimes is specific; for a complex or compound crime, the penalty is
that corresponding to the most serious offense, to be imposed in the maximum period. A light felony that
accompanies a composite crime is absorbed; a light felony that accompanies the commission of a complex or
compound crime may be the subject of a separate information.
The law on rape defines and sets forth the composite crimes of attempted rape with homicide and rape
with homicide. In both composite crimes, the homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion of rape. As
can be noted, each of said composite crimes is punished with a single penalty, the former with reclusion
perpetua to death, and the latter with death. The phrases by reason of the rape and on the occasion of the
rape are crucial in determining whether the crime is a composite crime or a complex or compound crime. The
phrase by reason of the rape obviously conveys the notion that the killing is due to the rape, the offense the
offender originally designed to commit. The victim of the rape is also the victim of the killing. The
indivisibility of the homicide and the rape (attempted or consummated) is clear and admits of no doubt.

The State discharged its burden of proving the rape with homicide beyond reasonable doubt
Under Article 266-A, rape is always committed when the accused has carnal knowledge of a female under 12
years of age. The crime is commonly called statutory rape, because a female of that age is deemed incapable of
giving consent to the carnal knowledge. Maritas Certificate of Live Birth disclosed that she was born

11

on October 29, 1994, indicating her age to be only four years and eight months at the time of the commission of
the crime.
We have often conceded the difficulty of proving the commission of rape when only the victim is left to testify
on the circumstances of its commission. The difficulty heightens and complicates when the crime is rape with
homicide, because there may usually be no living witnesses if the rape victim is herself killed. Yet, the situation
is not always hopeless for the State, for the Rules of Court also allows circumstantial evidence to establish the
commission of the crime as well as the identity of the culprit.
Firstly, Aldrin Bautista and Jovie Solidum saw Villaflores holding Marita by the hand at around 10:00
am on July 2, 1999, leading the child through the alley going towards the direction of his house about 6 houses
away from the victims house.Secondly, Marita went missing after that and remained missing until the discovery
of her lifeless body on the following day. Thirdly, Solidum passed by Villaflores house at about 3:00
pm of July 2, 1999 and heard the crying and moaning (umuungol) of a child coming from inside. Fourthly, at
about 7:00 pm of July 2, 1999 Solidum saw Villaflores coming from his house carrying a yellow sack that
appeared to be heavy and going towards the abandoned house where the childs lifeless body was later found.
Fifthly, Manito, the father of Marita, identified the yellow sack as the same yellow sack that covered the head
of his daughter (nakapalupot sa ulo) at the time he discovered her body; Manito also mentioned that a blue sack
covered her body. Sixthly, a hidden pathway existed between the abandoned house where Maritas body was
found and Villaflores house, because his house had a rear exit that enabled access to the abandoned house
without having to pass any other houses. This indicated Villaflores familiarity and access to the abandoned
house. Seventhly, several pieces of evidence recovered from the abandoned house, like the white rope around
the victims neck and the yellow sack, were traced to Villaflores. The white rope was the same rope tied to the
door of his house, and the yellow sack was a wall-covering for his toilet. Eighthly, the medico-legal findings
showed that Marita had died from asphyxiation by strangulation. Ninthly, Marita sustained multiple deep fresh
hymenal lacerations, and had fresh blood from her genitalia. And, tenthly, the body of Marita was already in the
second stage of flaccidity at the time of the autopsy of her cadaver. The medico-legal findings indicated that
such stage of flaccidity confirmed that she had been dead for more than 24 hours, or at the latest by 9
pm of July 2, 1999. These circumstances were links in an unbroken chain whose totality has brought to us a
moral certainty of the guilt of Villaflores for rape with homicide.

Rogelio Reyes vs. Court of Appeals


G. R. No. 180177, April 18, 2012
BERSAMIN, J:
The burden rests in the Prosecution to see to it that the evidence of guilt satisfies the standard of moral
certainty demanded in all criminal prosecutions. The standard demands that all the essential elements of the
offense are established as to leave no room for any doubt about the guilt of the accused. The courts should
unfailingly impose the standard in order to prevent injustice from being perpetrated against the accused.
FACTS:
Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila filed two informations charging petitioner with illegal sale of shabu and
illegal possession of shabudefined and punished, respectively, by Sections 5 and 11 of R.A. No. 9165. From
the police station, the lady confidential informant called petitioner by phone. The latter instructed her to wait
on M. Mapa Street. Thus, the buy-bust team proceeded to that area. Petitioner came by five minutes later, and,
after asking the lady confidential informant whether PO2 Payumo was the buyer, instructed Payumo to follow
him to his house where he told PO2 Payumo to wait. Petitioner asked PO2 Payumo for the payment, and the
latter complied and handed the marked money consisting of three P50.00 bills all bearing the initials
TF. Petitioner then went into a room and returned with a plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance
that he gave to PO2 Payumo. Receiving the plastic sachet, PO2 Payumo placed a missed call to PO1 Miguelito
Gil, a member of the buy-bust team, thereby giving the pre-arranged signal showing that the transaction was
completed.

ISSUE: Whether or not the accused should be acquitted

RULING: Yes
In this jurisdiction, we convict the accused only when his guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt.
Conformably with this standard, we are mandated as an appellate court to sift the records and search for every
12

error, though unassigned in the appeal, in order to ensure that the conviction is warranted, and to correct every
error that the lower court has committed in finding guilt against the accused.
The procedural safeguards start with the requirements prescribed by Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165
relating to the custody and disposition of the confiscated, seized, and surrendered dangerous drugs, plant
sources of the dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, instruments and paraphernalia,
and laboratory equipment. The successful prosecution of illegal sale of dangerous drugs requires: (a) proof that
the transaction or sale took place, and (b) the presentation in court as evidence of the corpus delicti, or the
dangerous drugs themselves. On the other hand, the prosecution of illegal possession of dangerous drugs
necessitates the following facts to be proved, namely: (a) the accused was in possession of dangerous drugs, (b)
such possession was not authorized by law, and (c) the accused was freely and consciously aware of being in
possession of dangerous drugs. For both offenses, it is crucial that the Prosecution establishes the identity of the
seized dangerous drugs in a way that the integrity thereof has been well preserved from the time of seizure or
confiscation from the accused until the time of presentation as evidence in court. Nothing less than a faithful
compliance with this duty is demanded of all law enforcers arresting drug pushers and drug possessors and
confiscating and seizing the dangerous drugs and substances from them. This duty of seeing to the integrity of
the dangerous drugs and substances is discharged only when the arresting law enforcer ensures that the chain of
custody is unbroken.
Here, the Prosecution failed to demonstrate a faithful compliance by the arresting lawmen of the rule
on chain of custody. To start with, the fact that the dangerous drugs were inventoried and photographed at the
site of arrest upon seizure in the presence of petitioner, a representative of the media, a representative of the
Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected public official, was not shown. Instead, the records show that
PO2 Payumo placed the markings of RRS-1 on the sachet allegedly received from petitioner and RRS-2 on the
two sachets allegedly seized from petitioners hand already at the police station with only petitioner present.
Yet, the Prosecution did not also present any witness to establish that an inventory of the seized articles at least
signed by petitioner at that point was prepared.

We clarified in People v. Sanchez that in compliance with Section 21 of R.A. No. 9165, supra, the
physical inventory and photographing of the seized articles should be conducted, if practicable, at the place of
seizure or confiscation in cases of warrantless seizure. But that was true only if there were indications that
petitioner tried to escape or resisted arrest, which might provide the reason why the arresting team was not able
to do the inventory or photographing at petitioners house; otherwise, the physical inventory and photographing
must always be immediately executed at the place of seizure or confiscation. However, the omissions noted
herein indicated that the State did not establish the identity of the dangerous drugs allegedly seized from
petitioner with the same exacting certitude required for a finding of guilt.

To be sure, the buy-bust operation was infected by lapses. Although PO2 Payumo declared that he was
the one who had received the sachet of shabu (RRS-1) from petitioner and who had confiscated the two sachets
of shabu (RRS-2) from petitioner, all of which he had then sealed, nothing more to support the fact that the
evidence thus seized had remained intact was adduced. In fact, the State did not anymore establish to whom the
seized articles had been endorsed after PO2 Payumo had placed the markings at the station, and with whose
custody or safekeeping the seized articles had remained until their endorsement to P/Insp. Macapagal for the
laboratory examination. Also, the Prosecution did not show to whom the seized articles had been turned over
following the conduct of the laboratory examination, and how the seized articles had been kept in a manner that
preserved their integrity until their final presentation in court as evidence of the corpus delicti. Such lapses of
the Prosecution were fatal to its proof of guilt because they demonstrated that the chain of custody did not stay
unbroken, thereby raising doubt on the integrity and identity of the dangerous drugs as evidence of the corpus
delicti of the crimes charged.

Firstly, PO2 Payumo testified that the lady confidential informant had gone to Police Station 8 to report
the alleged drug-selling activities of petitioner for the first time in the morning of January 20, 2005. That report
led to the forming of the buy-bust team,[45] for purposes of which he prepared the pre-operation documents. His
veracity was suspect, however, considering that his so-called Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet appeared to
have been prepared on the day before, as its date January 19, 2005 disclosed. Secondly, the Pre-
Operation/Coordination Sheet indicated that there were ten members and three (3) others that comprised the
buy-bust team. Yet, the Joint Affidavit submitted by the members of the buy-bust team was executed and
13

signed by only six officers. And, thirdly, both the Pre-Operation/Coordination Sheet and the Certification of
Coordination revealed that the confidential information received involved two suspects of illegal drug trade in
Bacood, Sta. Mesa known as alias Boy and alias Totoy Tinga. PO2 Payumo recalled, however, that the lady
confidential informant had tipped the police off only about alias Boy.

Narciso Degaos vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 162826, October 14, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
Novation is not a mode of extinguishing criminal liability under the penal laws of the country. Only the. State
may validly waive the criminal action against an accused. Novation rs relevant only to determine if the parties
have meanwhile altered the nature of the obligation prior ld the commencement of the criminal prosecution in
order to prevent the incipient criminal liability of the accused.
FACTS:
In an amended information dated March 23, 1994, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan charged
Brigida D. Luz, alias Aida Luz, and Narciso Degafios in the Regional Trial Court in Malolos, Bulacan with
estafa under Article 315 paragraph 1 (b) of the Revised Penal Code. RTC found Degaos guilty as charged but
acquitted Luz for insufficiency of evidence, imposing on Degaos twenty years of reclusion temporal.
Petitioner assails the decision for not finding that novation had converted the liability of the accused into a civil
one.

ISSUE: Whether or not novation had converted the liability of the accused into a civil one.

RULING:
Novation did not transpire as to prevent the incipient criminal liability from arising
Degaos claim was again factually unwarranted and legally devoid of basis, because the partial payments he
made and his purported agreement to pay the remaining obligations did not equate to a novation of the original
contractual relationship of agency to one of sale. As we see it, he misunderstands the nature and the role of
novation in a criminal prosecution. Novation is the extinguishment of an obligation by the substitution or
change of the obligation by a subsequent one that terminates the first, either by (a) changing the object or
principal conditions; or (b) substituting the person of the debtor; or (c) subrogating a third person in the rights
of the creditor. In order that an obligation may be extinguished by another that substitutes the former, it is
imperative that the extinguishment be so declared in unequivocal terms, or that the old and the new obligations
be on every point incompatible with each other. Obviously, in case of only slight modifications, the old
obligation still prevails.
It may be observed in this regard that novation is not one of the means recognized by the Penal Code whereby
criminal liability can be extinguished; hence, the role of novation may only be to either prevent the rise of
criminal liability or to cast doubt on the true nature of the original basic transaction, whether or not it was such
that its breach would not give rise to penal responsibility, as when money loaned is made to appear as a deposit,
or other similar disguise is resorted to. Novation is not a ground under the law to extinguish criminal liability.
Article 89 (on total extinguishment) and Article 94 (on partial extinguishment) of the Revised Penal Code list
down the various grounds for the extinguishment of criminal liability. Not being included in the list, novation is
limited in its effect only to the civil aspect of the liability, and, for that reason, is not an efficient defense in
estafa. This is because only the State may validly waive the criminal action against an accused. The role of
novation may only be either to prevent the rise of criminal liability, or to cast doubt on the true nature of the
original basic transaction, whether or not it was such that the breach of the obligation would not give rise to
penal responsibility, as when money loaned is made to appear as a deposit, or other similar disguise is resorted
to.

People of the Philippines vs. Ramon Placer


G.R. No. 181753, October 9, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:

14

In the absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt that treachery attended the killing of the victim, the crime is
homicide, not murder.
FACTS:
Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Sorsogon charged Ramon and his brother Virgilio Placer with murder in
the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Sorsogon City. Maria Gernale and her husband, Rosalino Gernale, were on
their way home to Brgy. Inararan, Bulan, Sorsogon on board a tricycle. They were in the company of Marias
father, another female passenger and five (5) young children. While their tricycle was moving, another tricycle
carrying appellants Ramon and Virgilio Placer almost hit them. Appellants and Rosalino alighted [from] their
respective tricycles and a heated altercation ensued between them. When things had subsided, Gernale and
appellants proceeded their separate ways. Sometime later, Maria realized that appellants were chasing them.
The latter were able to overtake the tricycle driven by Rosalino and later blocked its path. Appellants alighted
[from] their tricycle and proceeded towards the direction of Rosalino who had also alighted from his tricycle. A
confrontation followed and Angelina Gestiada, Rosalinos sister, tried to pacify appellants. But appellant
Ramon Placer did not heed as he stabbed Rosalino in the chest. Maria who was only about two (2) steps away
saw the incident. Rosalino fell towards the direction of his tricycle and just as he was about to fall, this time
Virgilio stabbed him in the stomach. Thereafter, appellants immediately fled the area on board their tricycle. It
was Virgilio who drove the tricycle.

ISSUE: Whether or not the crime committed was homicide, not murder

RULING:
By pleading self-defense, Ramon admitted the authorship of the killing of Rosalino Gernale. The consequence
of the plea of self-defense was to shift to Ramons shoulders the burden of evidence, that he must then prove
clearly and convincingly the following elements of self-defense, to wit: (1) unlawful aggression on the part of
the victim; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel the attack; and (3) lack of
sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself. Although the elements must concur, self-
defense must rest firstly on proof of the unlawful aggression on the part of the victim. There can be no self-
defense, whether complete or incomplete, if no unlawful aggression from the victim is established. In self-
defense, unlawful aggression is a primordial element, a condition sine qua non. If no unlawful aggression
attributable to the victim is established, self-defense is not a defense, because there would then be nothing to
repel on the part of the accused.
The near collision immediately led to a heated exchange of words between Rosalino and Virgilio, but they later
parted with each going his separate way. However, Virgilio soon after pursued Rosalinos tricycle and blocked
its path. Both Ramon and Virgilio quickly alighted from their tricycle to confront Rosalino, who also alighted
from his tricycle to protest. It was at that point when Ramon assaulted Rosalino by stabbing the latter in the
chest with his balisong, causing the latter to fall towards his own tricycle.

There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, methods or
forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself
arising from the defense which the offended party might make. Treachery is not presumed but must be proved
as conclusively as the crime itself. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack on the
unsuspecting victim. Hence, treachery is absent when the victim was placed on his guard, like when a heated
argument has preceded the attack, or when the victim was standing face to face with his assailants. The fatal
stabbing of Rosalino by Ramon was immediately preceded by two altercations between Ramon and Virgilio, on
one hand, and Rosalino, on the other. The first altercation occurred right after the near-collision of the tricycles,
while the other happened shortly after Ramon and Virgilio had blocked Rosalinos tricycle. During the second
altercation, Rosalino stood face to face with Ramon and Virgilio. It was then when Ramon stabbed the victim
twice, the sequential method of attack being borne out in the necropsy report showing that Rosalino had
sustained two fatal stab wounds in the chest and abdomen. Under the circumstances, Rosalino was rendered
completely aware of the imminent danger to himself from Ramon and Virgilio, rendering their assault far from
sudden and unexpected as to put Rosalino off his guard against any deadly assault. To stress, treachery cannot
be appreciated if the victim was forewarned of an impending danger and could have foreseen the aggression of
the accused. With treachery not being proved beyond reasonable doubt, the crime Ramon was properly guilty
of was homicide. Pursuant to Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for homicide is reclusion
temporal.
15

Ramons voluntary surrender was a mitigating circumstance that lowered the imposable penalty
Voluntary surrender is a circumstance that reduces the penalty for the offense. Its requisites as a mitigating
circumstance are that: (1) the accused has not been actually arrested; (2) the accused surrenders himself to a
person in authority or the latters agent; and (3) the surrender is voluntary. The presence of the foregoing
requisites was sufficiently proven by Ramon. He had voluntarily yielded himself and the balisong used in the
stabbing to Barangay Chairman Rey Loilo of Beguin, Bulan, Sorsogon, who then brought him and the weapon
to the police station for proper disposal.

People of the Philippines vs. Victorino Reyes


G.R. No. 173307, July 17, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
Slightest penetration of the labia of the female victim's genitalia consummates the crime of rape.
FACTS:
Reyes raped AAA at around 9:00 p.m. on December 26, 1996 in Barangay San Aurelio, Balungao, Pangasinan.
Earlier, at around 7:00 p.m., AAA and her 9-year-old sister, BBB, had watched television at his house just
across the street from their house. Only Reyes and his two sons, aged seven and five, were the other persons in
the house, for his wife had gone to another barangay to sell refreshments. By 9:00 p.m., AAA and BBB rose to
go home, but as they were leaving, Reyes suddenly pulled AAA into the store attached to the sala of his house.
He told her in the dialect: Umaykan ta agiyyot ta. (Come here and let us have sex). Alarmed by what his words
denoted, AAA struggled to free herself from him. BBB went to her succor by pulling her away from him, but
his superior strength prevailed. Inside the store, Reyes kissed AAA and mashed her breasts. He threatened her:
If you will shout, I will kill you. He pulled down her long pants and panties below her knees, took out his penis,
grabbed her by the waist, and used his body to anchor her back to a nearby table. She fought back by boxing
and pushing him away, but her efforts were futile. He twice tried to pry open her legs, but she strained hard to
close them. On the second attempt, however, her effort was not enough to prevent him from pulling her legs
apart, and he then thrust his penis into her vagina and made push and pull movements. Although his penis
achieved only a slight penetration of her vagina, he succeeded in satisfying his lust, as confirmed later on when
CCC, the mother of the victim, found semen on AAAs panties.

ISSUE: Whether or not the rape was committed

RULING:
Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659, the law applicable
at the time of the rape of AAA. The breaking of the hymen of the victim is not among the means of
consummating rape. All that the law required is that the accused had carnal knowledge of a woman under the
circumstances described in the law. By definition, carnal knowledge was the act of a man having sexual bodily
connections with a woman. This understanding of rape explains why the slightest penetration of the female
genitalia consummates the crime. During her examination of AAA, Dra. Gancinia found pamamaga
(swelling) on the victims labia majora. Dra. Gancinia opined that such swelling was possibly caused by the
insertion of a hard object, like a hard penis, or by friction with hard objects even without removing the panties
or pants of AAA.23 Although such medical finding, left alone, was susceptible of different probable
interpretations, AAAs testimonial narration about how Reyes had sexually assaulted her, including how his
penis had only slightly penetrated her vagina, confirmed that he had carnal knowledge of her. More
specifically, the presence of the swelling in AAAs labia majora was an indication of the penetration by the
erect penis of the labia majora of the accused. As such, there was sufficient factual foundation for finding him
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape.

People of the Philippines vs. Tomas Teodoro


G.R. No. 175876, February 20, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
16

The recantation of her testimony by the victim of rape is to be disregarded if the records show that it was
impelled either by intimidation or by the need for the financial support of the accused.
FACTS:
Two informations charged Teodoro with statutory rape in which the victim, AAA, was the 8-year old daughter
of BBB, his common-law wife. With respect to the statutory rape charged in Criminal Case No. 9802, the
records show that BBB left home in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte on an errand in Surigao; that her children,
including AAA, were left under the care of Teodoro, her common-law husband; that late that night, he returned
home drunk, and his arrival roused the children from their sleep, because they had not yet eaten; that soon after
the dinner, he told the children to go to bed; that AAA became puzzled when he turned off the lights that were
supposed to be left on; that at some point later in the night, he roused AAA, and ordered her to strip naked; that
she initially defied him, but he himself then undressed her; that he took off his pants and drawers down to his
knees, exposing his penis; that he went on top of her, inserted his penis in her vagina, and made push and pull
movements; that she felt a sharp pain inside her vagina; that he stopped his movements when she protested due
to her pain becoming unbearable, because he did not want the other children to be roused from sleep; that he
returned to his own place, but she got up to relieve herself; that she felt searing pain in her vagina as she was
relieving herself; and that she did not tell her mother upon the latters return from Surigao about what Teodoro
had done to her. Anent the rape committed on Criminal Case No. 98-03, BBB was again away from the house,
having gone to Manila. Teodoro committed the rape in a fashion similar to that in the first rape. However, AAA
could no longer bear her ordeal, and told of the rapes to CCC, the older brother of BBB: Tay, I was touched by
Tomas Teodoro. CCC immediately reported the crimes to the Kitcharao Police Station. The police quickly
arrested Teodoro. Upon BBBs return in the afternoon, CCC informed her about what Teodoro had done to her
daughter. BBB and CCC took AAA to the Kitcharao District Hospital for physical and medical examination.
During the trial, AAA and BBB testified for the Prosecution, but two years later recanted and turned hostile
towards the Prosecution, now telling the RTC that Teodoro had only touched AAAs vagina on the nights of
December 18, 1997 and February 8, 1998. RTC rendered its judgment convicting Teodoro on both counts of
statutory rape notwithstanding the recantations by AAA and BBB.

ISSUE: (1) Were the rapes charged against Teodoro established beyond reasonable doubt? (2) Should the
recantation by AAA be accepted?

RULING: (1) Yes (2) No


The crimes charged were two counts of statutory rape. The elements of statutory rape are that: (a) the victim is
a female under 12 years or is demented; and (b) the offender has carnal knowledge of the victim. Considering
that the essence of statutory rape is carnal knowledge of a female without her consent, neither the use of force,
threat or intimidation on the female, nor the females deprivation of reason or being otherwise unconscious, nor
the employment on the female of fraudulent machinations or grave abuse of authority is necessary to commit
statutory rape. Full penile penetration of the females genitalia is not likewise required, because carnal
knowledge is simply the act of a man having sexual bodily connections with a woman.
AAAs recollections given in court when she was only eight years old disclosed an unbroken and consistent
narration of her ordeals at his hands. She thereby revealed details that no child of her very tender age could
have invented or concocted. The only rational and natural conclusion to be made by any objective arbiter is to
accord the fullest credence to her. AAA remained categorical and steadfast about what Teodoro had done to her
all throughout her testimony in court, even during her delivery of the supposed recantation. She narrated how
he had committed the rape in the evening of December 18, 1997 by undressing her and himself, going on top of
her, inserting his male organ into her vagina, and making push and pull motions, causing her to suffer severe
pain in her vagina. Here, the proof of the penis of Teodoro touching the labias of AAA was sufficient and
convincing. Dr. Abrenillo found the touching by Teodoros penis had gone beyond the mons pubis and had
reached the labias of the victim.
Even during her intended recantation, AAA cried most of the time. Such demeanor reflected how much she
despised what he had done to her twice. As such, her supposed recantation did not conceal the impelling motive
for it being that her mother and her family still needed the material support of Teodoro. This was confirmed
even by BBB, whose own testimony on AAAs supposed recantation. BBB was then rearing four young
children by Teodoro (the youngest being born when he was already detained), as well as AAA and her five
siblings that BBB had from an earlier relationship. She unabashedly needed the material support of Teodoro;

17

hence, she prevailed on AAA to withdraw her charges against him. But a recantation under such insincere
circumstances was unacceptable.
As a rule, recantation is viewed with disfavor firstly because the recantation of her testimony by a vital witness
of the State like AAA is exceedingly unreliable, and secondly because there is always the possibility that such
recantation may later be repudiated. Indeed, to disregard testimony solemnly given in court simply because the
witness recants it ignores the possibility that intimidation or monetary considerations may have caused the
recantation. Before allowing the recantation, therefore, the court must not be too willing to accept it, but must
test its value in a public trial with sufficient opportunity given to the party adversely affected to cross-examine
the recanting witness both upon the substance of the recantation and the motivations for it. The recantation, like
any other testimony, is subject to the test of credibility based on the relevant circumstances, including the
demeanor of the recanting witness on the stand. In that respect, the finding of the trial court on the credibility of
witnesses is entitled to great weight on appeal unless cogent reasons necessitate its re-examination, the reason
being that the trial court is in a better position to hear first-hand and observe the deportment, conduct and
attitude of the witnesses.

People of the Philippines vs. Pedro Buado


G.R. No. 170634, January 8, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
In reviewing rape convictions, the Court has been guided by three principles, namely: (a) that an accusation of
rape can be made with facility; it is difficult for the complainant to prove but more difficult for the accused,
though innocent, to disprove; (b) that in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape as involving only two
persons, the rapist and the victim, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution;
and (c) that the evidence for the Prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to
draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the Defense.
FACTS:
This case tells the revolting story of a lecherous father who made two of his very young daughters his sex
slaves for several years right in the family home. The trial court convicted him and prescribed the death penalty
for each of the two counts of rape. There would be no hesitation to affirm the penalty, but the intervening
passage of the law prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty now spares him from the supreme penalty.

ISSUE: Whether or not the conviction was correct

RULING: Yes
In reviewing rape convictions, the Court has been guided by three principles, namely: (a) that an accusation of
rape can be made with facility; it is difficult for the complainant to prove but more difficult for the accused,
though innocent, to disprove; (b) that in view of the intrinsic nature of the crime of rape as involving only two
persons, the rapist and the victim, the testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with extreme caution;
and (c) that the evidence for the Prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be allowed to
draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the Defense.
The RTC as the trial court and the CA as the intermediately reviewing tribunal did not overlook or disregard
any fact or circumstance of significance. Instead, they correctly appreciated the evidence, and rightly concluded
that the accused committed the rapes of his own daughters. They regarded and accepted AAA and BBB as
credible witnesses whose recollections about their fathers lecherous acts deserved the fullest faith and
credence. On the other hand, the accused did not bring to the Courts attention any facts and circumstances of
weight that, if properly considered, would change the result into one favorable to him. He did not also submit to
us any argument that would lead us to doubt the findings of the RTC and the CA on the credibility of AAA and
BBB.
His frequent acts of domestic violence against even the young members of his family caused AAA and her
mother to fear him. Under the circumstances, the delay in reporting him to the proper authorities is not a factor
in determining the credibility of the charge against him of his own daughter. To a child of very tender years like
AAA, the threats of actual physical harm would definitely instill a fear overwhelming enough to force her to
suffer her ordeals in silence for a period of time.

18

The essence of rape is the carnal knowledge of a female either against her will (through force or intimidation)
or without her consent (where the female is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or is under 12 years
of age, or is demented). Carnal knowledge of a female simply means a male having bodily connections with a
female. As such, the presence or absence of injury or laceration in the genitalia of the victim is not decisive of
whether rape has been committed or not. Such injury or laceration is material only if force or intimidation is an
element of the rape charged; otherwise, it is merely circumstantial evidence of the commission of the rape.
Verily, a medical examination and a medical certificate, albeit corroborative of the commission of rape, are not
indispensable to a successful prosecution for rape. The accused may then be convicted solely on the basis of the
victims credible, natural and convincing testimony. This is no less true when the rape victim testifies against
her own father; unquestionably, there would be reason to give her testimony greater weight than usual.
In Criminal Case No. 912-V-99, the amended information alleged that AAA was only ten years old when the
rape was committed in April 1999 and that she was the daughter of the accused. During the trial, however, the
Prosecution adduced no evidence to establish her minority save her testimony and that of her mothers. In the
absence of proof of AAAs minority in accordance with the guidelines set in People v. Pruna, we concur with
the CAs conclusion that he could not be properly found guilty of qualified rape. On the other hand, the
amended information in Criminal Case No. 974-V-99 sufficiently stated the minority of BBB and her being the
daughter of the accused. Further, the Prosecution established that BBB was only nine years old at the time of
the rape on November 10, 1999 through her certificate of live birth. In addition, her own mother and older
sister DDD both attested that she was the legitimate daughter of the accused. In fact, even the accused himself
admitted his legitimate paternity of BBB. Considering that the Prosecution duly proved BBBs minority and
her relationship with the accused, the CA correctly affirmed the penalty of death meted by the RTC.
With the intervening passage on June 24, 2006 of Republic Act No. 9346, however, the imposition of the death
penalty has become prohibited. The retroactive application to Criminal Case No. 974-V-99 of the prohibition
against the death penalty must be made here because it is favorable to the accused. Nonetheless, he shall not be
eligible for parole, because Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9346 expressly provides that persons whose
sentences will be reduced to reclusion perpetua by reason of this Act shall not be eligible for parole under Act
No. 4103 (Indeterminate Sentence Law), as amended.

George Bongalon vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 169533, March 20, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
Not every instance of the laying of hands on a child constitutes the crime of child abuse under Section 10 (a) of
Republic Act No. 7610.1 Only when the laying of hands is shown beyond reasonable doubt to be intended by
the accused to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child as a human being should
it be punished as child abuse. Otherwise, it is punished under the Revised Penal Code.
FACTS:
Prosecutors Office of Legazpi City charged the petitioner in RTC in Legazpi City with child abuse, an act in
violation of Section 10(a) of Republic Act No. 7610. Jayson Dela Cruz and Roldan, his older brother, both
minors, joined the evening procession for the Santo Nio at Oro Site in Legazpi City; that when the procession
passed in front of the petitioners house, the latters daughter Mary Ann Rose, also a minor, threw stones at
Jayson and called him sissy; that the petitioner confronted Jayson and Roldan and called them names like
strangers and animals; that the petitioner struck Jayson at the back with his hand, and slapped Jayson on
the face; that the petitioner then went to the brothers house and challenged Rolando dela Cruz, their father, to a
fight, but Rolando did not come out of the house to take on the petitioner; that Rolando later brought Jayson to
the Legazpi City Police Station and reported the incident; that Jayson also underwent medical treatment at the
Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital. RTC found and declared the petitioner guilty of child abuse as
charged. CA affirmed the conviction. The petitioner has come to the Court via a petition for certiorari under
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

ISSUE: (1) Whether or not the petitioner availed of the proper remedy? (2) Whether or not the petitioner must
be acquitted

RULING: (1) No (2) Yes

19

We should observe that the petitioner has adopted the wrong remedy in assailing the CAs affirmance of his
conviction. His proper recourse from the affirmance of his conviction was an appeal taken in due course.
Hence, he should have filed a petition for review on certiorari. Instead, he wrongly brought a petition for
certiorari.
Although we affirm the factual findings of fact by the RTC and the CA to the effect that the petitioner struck
Jayson at the back with his hand and slapped Jayson on the face, we disagree with their holding that his acts
constituted child abuse within the purview of the above-quoted provisions. The records did not establish
beyond reasonable doubt that his laying of hands on Jayson had been intended to debase the intrinsic worth
and dignity of Jayson as a human being, or that he had thereby intended to humiliate or embarrass Jayson. The
records showed the laying of hands on Jayson to have been done at the spur of the moment and in anger,
indicative of his being then overwhelmed by his fatherly concern for the personal safety of his own minor
daughters who had just suffered harm at the hands of Jayson and Roldan. With the loss of his self-control, he
lacked that specific intent to debase, degrade or demean the intrinsic worth and dignity of a child as a human
being that was so essential in the crime of child abuse. It is not trite to remind that under the well-recognized
doctrine of pro reo every doubt is resolved in favor of the petitioner as the accused. Thus, the Court should
consider all possible circumstances in his favor. What crime, then, did the petitioner commit? Considering that
Jaysons physical injury required five to seven days of medical attention, the petitioner was liable for slight
physical injuries under Article 266 (1) of the Revised Penal Code.

Gilfredo Bacolod vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No 206236, July 15, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
It is imperative that the courts prescribe the proper penalties when convicting the accused, and determine the
civil liability to be imposed on the accused, unless there has been a reservation of the action to recover civil
liability or a waiver of its recovery.
FACTS:
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 9, in Cebu City convicted the petitioner of arson. Court of Appeals (CA)
affirmed the conviction. The petitioner submits that both the RTC and the CA erred in their appreciation of the
evidence. He insists that no witness had actually seen him set the house on fire; that the State did not show that
he had the motive to commit the arson; and that only circumstantial evidence was presented against him, but
such evidence, not being incompatible with the hypothesis favoring his innocence, was insufficient to support
a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

ISSUE: Whether or not convicted must be affirmed

RULING:
The lack or absence of direct evidence does not necessarily mean that the guilt of the accused cannot be proved
by evidence other than direct evidence. Direct evidence is not the sole means of establishing guilt beyond
reasonable doubt, because circumstantial evidence, if sufficient, can supplant the absence of direct evidence.
The RTCs reliance on circumstantial evidence was sanctioned by Rule 133, Section 4 of the Rules of Court.
The States witnesses credibly and reliably described a chain of circumstances that absolutely incriminated the
petitioner in the criminal burning of the house of complainants Spouses Ceferino and Gemma Cogtas. As both
the trial and appellate courts found, the following interconnected factual links were proved, namely: (1)
prosecution witness Ruben Gonzales heard the loud voices of the petitioner and his sister coming from the
Cogtas house that the Bacolod family had been renting, with the petitioner demanding money from his sister
Daisy Mae Bacolod but the latter not acceding to the demand; he was then only about 15 arms lengths away
from the Cogtas house; (2) not soon after, Gonzales heard a commotion inside the Cogtas house, and then
immediately saw Daisy Mae and three other persons running out of the house asking for help; (3) Gonzales
himself going towards the house to see what was happening, saw the petitioner in the kitchen waving a flaming
blanket that he had lit from the burner stove; (4) the petitioner then came out of the house, daring anyone to
arrest him; (5) Gonzales turned off the burner stove in the kitchen, even as he saw the ceiling of the kitchen
already in flames; and (6) the fire immediately spread to the other parts of the house, and which eventually
burned down the house completely. Gonzales account about the commotion inside the house was corroborated
20

by Alexander Cernal, a barangay tanod who happened to be on board his tricycle at the same subdivision where
the Cogtas house was located. The CA did not err in holding that the States circumstantial evidence sufficed
for the conviction of the petitioner. Indeed, the unbroken chain of circumstances established from the
recollections of witnesses whose motives had not been impugned at all by the petitioner warranted no
conclusion but that the petitioner had deliberately caused the burning of the house.
Nonetheless, the Court needs to correct the penalty the RTC imposed on the petitioner, and which the CA
affirmed in full. The indeterminate sentence of 10 years of prision mayor in its medium period, as minimum,
to 16 years of reclusion temporal in its medium period, as maximum, prescribed by the RTC was legally
erroneous. The information specifically alleged that the house burned by the accused was an inhabited
dwelling. Pursuant to Section 3(2) of Presidential Decree No. 1613 (Amending the Law on Arson), the penalty
to be imposed if the property burned is an inhabited house or dwelling is from reclusion temporal to reclusion
perpetua. Not being composed of three periods, however, such penalty should be divided into three equal
portions of time, and each portion forms one period of the penalty.6 Yet, reclusion perpetua, being an
indivisible penalty, immediately becomes the maximum period, leaving reclusion temporal to be divided into
two in order to fix the medium and minimum periods of the penalty. The three periods of the prescribed
penalty of reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua are then as follows:
Minimum period 12 years and 1 day to 16 years; Medium period 16 years and 1 day to 20 years;
Maximum period reclusion perpetua.
Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law requires the court, in imposing a prison sentence for an offense
punished by the Revised Penal Code, or its amendments, to sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence
the maximum term of which shall be that which, in view of the attending circumstances, could be properly
imposed under the rules of the said Code, and the minimum which shall be within the range of the penalty next
lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense. Accordingly, the maximum of the indeterminate penalty
in this case should be within the range of the medium period of the penalty, i.e., from 16 years and 1 day to 20
years, because neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance attended the commission of the crime; and the
minimum of the indeterminate sentence should be within the range of the penalty next lower in degree to that
prescribed for the crime, without regard to its periods.
It appears, therefore, that the maximum of the indeterminate penalty fixed by the RTC fell short by one day in
order to come within the medium period of the prescribed penalty. Although such fixing by the RTC was
contrary to the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the CA uncharacteristically condoned the violation. The correction
should now be made to make the sentence conform to law. Accordingly, the maximum of the indeterminate
sentence of the petitioner is 16 years and one day of reclusion temporal.
Another substantial detail left out by the RTC, and, later on, by the CA pertained to the civil liability to be
assessed against the petitioner in favor of the Spouses Cogtas as owners of the burned house. Having
pronounced the petitioner guilty of committing arson, a crime against property, the RTC and the CA were
bound to have then adjudged him civilly liable to compensate the Spouses Cogtas for their substantial
economic damage and prejudice as the owners of the house. The RTC briefly discussed the economic loss of
the Spouses Cogtas in its judgment but surprisingly omitted any award from the decretal portion.
The unfair omission should be rectified. In the records was testimony given by Architect Gabriel F. Abear to
the effect that the Spouses Cogtas would need to spend P869,590.00 to restore their burned dwelling to its
condition before the crime. In the absence of a showing that such amount had been actually expended in a
manner capable of substantiation by any document or receipt, Abears valuation remained a mere estimate, and
could not be the measure of an award for actual damages.

Noel Lasanas vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 159031, June 23, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
Any person who contracts a second marriage without first having a judicial declaration of the nullity of his or
her first marriage, albeit on its face void and inexistent for lack of a marriage license, is guilty of bigamy as
defined and penalized by Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.
FACTS:
On February 16, 1968, Judge Carlos B. Salazar of the Municipal Trial Court of San Miguel, Iloilo
solemnized the marriage of accused Noel Lasanas and Socorro Patingo without the benefit of a marriage
21

license. The records show that Lasanas and Patingo had not executed any affidavit of cohabitation to excuse the
lack of the marriage license. On August 27, 1980, Lasanas and Patingo reaffirmed their marriage vows in a
religious ceremony before Fr. Rodolfo Tamayo. They submitted no marriage license or affidavit of cohabitation
for that purpose. Both ceremonies were evidenced by the corresponding marriage certificates. In 1982, Lasanas
and Patingo separated de facto because of irreconcilable differences.
On December 27, 1993, the accused contracted marriage with Josefa Eslaban in a religious ceremony
solemnized by Fr. Ramon Sequito. Their marriage certificate reflected the civil status of the accused as single.
On July 26, 1996, the accused filed a complaint for annulment of marriage and damages against
Socorro in the RTC in Iloilo City alleging that Socorro had employed deceit, misrepresentations and fraud in
securing his consent to their marriage. In October 1998, Socorro charged the accused with bigamy. After due
proceedings, the accused was formally indicted for bigamy under the information filed on October 20, 1998 in
the RTC.
November 24, 1998, the RTC rendered its judgment in Civil Case dismissing the accuseds complaint
for annulment of marriage, and declaring the marriage between him and Socorro valid and legal.
On October 30, 2000, the RTC (Branch 38) rendered its assailed decision in Criminal Case finding
accused NOEL LASANAS guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense of BIGAMY punishable under Art.
349 of the Revised Penal Code. Aggrieved, the accused appealed his conviction to the CA, contending that
because he had not been legally married to Socorro, the first element of bigamy was not established. The CA
promulgated its challenged decision dismissing the appeal. Hence, the accused has appealed by petition for
review on certiorari.

ISSUE: Whether or not the conviction should be upheld.

RULING: YES

Any person who contracts a second marriage without first having a judicial declaration of the nullity
of his or her first marriage, albeit on its face void and inexistent for lack of a marriage license, is guilty of
bigamy as defined and penalized by Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code.
The elements of the crime of bigamy are as follows: (1) that the offender has been legally married; (2)
that the marriage has not been legally dissolved or, in case his or her spouse is absent, the absent spouse could
not yet be presumed dead according to the Civil Code; (3) that he or she contracts a second or subsequent
marriage; and (4) that the second or subsequent marriage has all the essential requisites for validity.
Based on the findings of the CA, this case has all the foregoing elements attendant.
The first and second elements of bigamy were present in view of the absence of a judicial declaration
of nullity of marriage between the accused and Socorro. The requirement of securing a judicial declaration of
nullity of marriage prior to contracting a subsequent marriage is found in Article 40 of the Family Code. The
Family Law Revision Committee and the Civil Code Revision Committee which drafted what is now the
Family Code of the Philippines took the position that parties to a marriage should not be allowed to assume that
their marriage is void even if such be the fact but must first secure a judicial declaration of the nullity of their
marriage before they can be allowed to marry again. In fact, the requirement for a declaration of absolute
nullity of a marriage is also for the protection of the spouse who, believing that his or her marriage is illegal
and void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity of his or her marriage, the person who
marries again cannot be charged with bigamy.
If petitioners contention would be allowed, a person who commits bigamy can simply evade
prosecution by immediately filing a petition for the declaration of nullity of his earlier marriage and hope that a
favorable decision is rendered therein before anyone institutes a complaint against him. We note that in
petitioners case the complaint was filed before the first marriage was declared a nullity. It was only the filing
of the Information that was overtaken by the declaration of nullity of his first marriage. Following petitioners
argument, even assuming that a complaint has been instituted, such as in this case, the offender can still escape
liability provided that a decision nullifying his earlier marriage precedes the filing of the Information in court.
Such cannot be allowed. To do so would make the crime of bigamy dependent upon the ability or inability of
the Office of the Public Prosecutor to immediately act on complaints and eventually file Informations in court.
The accuseds defense of acting in good faith deserves scant consideration especially because the
records show that he had filed a complaint for the annulment of his marriage with Socorro prior to the
institution of the criminal complaint against him but after he had already contracted his second marriage with
22

Josefa. But even such defense would abandon him because the RTC (Branch 39) dismissed his complaint for
annulment of marriage after the information for bigamy had already been filed against him, thus confirming the
validity of his marriage to Socorro. Considering that the accuseds subsequent marriage to Josefa was an
undisputed fact, the third element of bigamy was established. Nonetheless, he submits that his marriage to
Josefa was invalid because of lack of a recorded judgment of nullity of marriage. Such argument had no worth,
however, because it was he himself who failed to secure a judicial declaration of nullity of his previous
marriage prior to contracting his subsequent marriage.
There is therefore a recognition written into the law itself that such a marriage, although void ab initio,
may still produce legal consequences. Among these legal consequences is incurring criminal liability for
bigamy. Under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for bigamy is prision mayor. With neither
an aggravating nor a mitigating circumstance attendant in the commission of the crime, the imposable penalty
is the medium period of prision mayor, which ranges from eight years and one day to 10 years. Applying
the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum of the indeterminate sentence should be within the range
of prision correccional, the penalty next lower than that prescribed for the offense, which is from six months
and one day to six years. Accordingly, the indeterminate sentence of two years and four months of prision
correccional, as minimum, to eight years and one day of prision mayor as maximum, as imposed by the RTC,
was proper.

People of the Philippines vs. Larry Mendoza


G.R. No. 192432, June 23, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
The law enforcement agents who conduct buy-bust operations against persons suspected of drug trafficking in
violation of Republic Act No. 9165 (RA No. 9165), otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs
Act of 2002, should comply with the statutory requirements for preserving the chain of custody of the seized
evidence. Failing this, they are required to render sufficient reasons for their non-compliance during the trial;
otherwise, the presumption that they have regularly performed their official duties cannot obtain, and the
persons they charge should be acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt
FACTS:
The accusatory portion of the information charging the violation of Section 5 of RA No. 9165 reads
that the above-named accused, without having been authorized by law, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and knowingly sell, deliver and give away to a poseur buyer 0.03 gram and 0.01 gram or a total weight of 0.04
gram of white crystalline substance contained in two (2) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets, which
substance was found positive to the test for Methylamphetamine hydrochloride also known as shabu, a
dangerous drug, in violation of the above-cited law.
The accusatory portion of the information charging the violation of Section 11 of RA No. 9165 alleges
that the above-named accused, not being lawfully authorized to possess any dangerous drug, did, then and there
willfully, unlawfully and knowingly possess and have in his custody and control 0.01 gram of white crystalline
substance contained in one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet, which substance was found positive to the
test for Methylamphetamine hydrochloride also known as shabu, a dangerous drug, in violation of the above-
cited law.
The RTC convicted the accused of the crimes charged. The accused appealed, contending that the
identity of the corpus delicti and the fact of illegal sale had not been established beyond reasonable doubt but
the CA affirmed the conviction of the accused.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the violations of
Section 5 and Section 11 of RA No. 9165.

RULING: YES.

The law enforcement agents who conduct buy-bust operations against persons suspected of drug
trafficking in violation of Republic Act No. 9165 (RA No. 9165), otherwise known as the Comprehensive
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, should comply with the statutory requirements for preserving the chain of
custody of the seized evidence. Failing this, they are required to render sufficient reasons for their non-
compliance during the trial; otherwise, the presumption that they have regularly performed their official
duties cannot obtain, and the persons they charge should be acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt
23

The State did not satisfactorily explain substantial lapses committed by the buy-bust team in the chain of
custody; hence, the guilt of the accused for the crime charged was not established beyond reasonable
doubt

The identity of the dangerous drugs should be established beyond doubt by showing that the dangerous
drugs offered in court were the same substances bought during the buy-bust operation. This rigorous
requirement, known under RA No. 9165 as the chain of custody, performs the function of ensuring that
unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence are removed.
To discharge its duty of establishing the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, therefore, the
Prosecution must prove the corpus delicti. That proof is vital to a judgment of conviction. On the other hand,
the Prosecution does not comply with the indispensable requirement of proving the violation of Section 5 of
Republic Act No. 9165 when the dangerous drugs are missing but also when there are substantial gaps in the
chain of custody of the seized dangerous drugs that raise doubts about the authenticity of the evidence
presented in court. Based on the foregoing statutory rules, the manner and timing of the marking of the seized
drugs or related items are crucial in proving the chain of custody. An examination of the records reveals that
the buy-bust team did not observe the statutory procedures on preserving the chain of custody.
To start with, the State did not show the presence during the seizure and confiscation of the contraband,
as well as during the physical inventory and photographing of the contraband, of the representatives from the
media or the Department of Justice, or of any elected public official. The consequences of the failure of the
arresting lawmen to comply with the requirements of the law were dire as far as the Prosecution was concerned.
Without the insulating presence of the representative from the media or the Department of Justice, or any
elected public official during the seizure and marking of the sachets of shabu, the evils of switching, planting
or contamination of the evidence that had tainted the buy-busts conducted under the regime of RA No. 6425
(Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972) again reared their ugly heads as to negate the integrity and credibility of the
seizure and confiscation of the sachets of shabu that were evidence herein of the corpus delicti, and thus
adversely affected the trustworthiness of the incrimination of the accused. Indeed, the insulating presence of
such witnesses would have preserved an unbroken chain of custody.
Secondly, the records nowhere indicated, contrary to the claim of P/Insp. Lim, that the buy-bust team,
or any member thereof, had conducted the physical inventory of the confiscated items. We know this because
the States formal offer of evidence did not include such inventory.
And, thirdly, although PO1 Diocena asserted that photographs of the confiscated items and the marked
money were taken at the police station, it still behooved him to justify why the photographs of the
seized shabu was not taken immediately upon the seizure, and at the place of seizure. The State did not explain
this lapse.
With the chain of custody being demonstrably broken, the accused deserved to be acquitted of the
serious charges. Even if we rejected the frame-up defense of the accused, the unexplained failures and lapses
committed by the buy-bust team could not be fairly ignored. At the very least, they raised a reasonable doubt on
his guilt. Moreover, the Prosecution must rely on the strength of its own evidence, and not anchor its success
upon the weakness of the evidence of the accused. The burden of proof placed on the Prosecution arises from
the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused that no less than the Constitution has guaranteed.

The CA and the RTC erred in relying on the presumption of regularity in the performance of duty of the
arresting officers
We have usually presumed the regularity of performance of their official duties in favor of the
members of buy-bust teams enforcing our laws against the illegal sale of dangerous drugs. Such presumption is
based on three fundamental reasons, namely: first, innocence, and not wrong-doing, is to be presumed; second,
an official oath will not be violated; and, third, a republican form of government cannot survive long unless a
limit is placed upon controversies and certain trust and confidence reposed in each governmental department or
agent by every other such department or agent, at least to the extent of such presumption.27 But the presumption
is rebuttable by affirmative evidence of irregularity or of any failure to perform a duty.
The presumption of regularity of performance of official duty stands only when no reason exists in the
records by which to doubt the regularity of the performance of official duty. And even in that instance the
presumption of regularity will not be stronger than the presumption of innocence in favor of the accused.
Otherwise, a mere rule of evidence will defeat the constitutionally enshrined right to be presumed innocent.
24

Moreover, the regularity of the performance of their duty could not be properly presumed in favor of
the policemen because the records were replete with indicia of their serious lapses. Where there is any hint of
irregularity committed by the police officers in arresting the accused and thereafter, several of which we have
earlier noted, there can be no presumption of regularity of performance in their favor.

Reynaldo Mariano vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 178145, July 07, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
Reckless imprudence consists in voluntary, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which
material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing of
failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence,
physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place. To constitute the offense of
reckless driving, the act must be something more than a mere negligence in the operation of the motor vehicle,
but a willful and wanton disregard of the consequences is required.
FACTS:
The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan charged the petitioner with frustrated murder for
hitting and bumping Ferdinand de Leon while overtaking the latters jeep. Ferdinand de Leon was driving his
owner type jeep along Barangay Engkanto, Angat, Bulacan. With him were his wife, Urbanita, and their two-
year old son. Luis de Leon, an uncle of Ferdinand, also came from the baptismal party and was driving his
owner type jeep. Accused-appellant Reynaldo Mariano was driving his red Toyota pick-up with his wife,
Rebecca, and their helper, Rowena Aos, as passengers.
The Toyota pick-up overtook the jeep of Ferdinand de Leon and almost bumped it. Ferdinand got mad,
overtook the pick-up and blocked its path. Reynaldo Mariano stopped the pick-up behind the jeep. Ferdinand
alighted from his jeep and approached Reynaldo. Ferdinand claimed that he and Reynaldo had an altercation.
Urbanita tried to pacify Ferdinand and sought the assistance of Luis de Leon. Ferdinand and Reynaldo heeded
the advice of Luis and they went their separate ways.
Instead of proceeding to his house in Norzagaray, Ferdinand decided to drop by his mothers house in
San Roque, Angat to pick up some items. He parked his jeep in front of the house of his mother and alighted
therefrom. However, he was bumped by a moving vehicle, thrown four (4) meters away and lost consciousness.
Urbanita identified the fast moving vehicle that bumped Ferdinand as the same red Toyota pick-up driven by
Reynaldo. Ferdinand was brought to the Sto. Nio Hospital in Bustos, Bulacan, where he stayed for two and a
half days and incurred medical expenses.
The RTC convicted the petitioner of frustrated homicide. On appeal, the CA promulgated its assailed
modifying the felony committed by the petitioner from frustrated homicide to reckless imprudence resulting in
serious physical injuries.

ISSUE: Whether or not, the conviction for the crime for reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical
injuries should be upheld.

RULING:
YES. We affirm the conviction of the petitioner for reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical
injuries.
As aptly observed by the court a quo, only a vehicle that is moving beyond the normal rate of speed
and within the control of the drivers hands could have caused Ferdinands injuries. The very fact of speeding is
indicative of imprudent behavior, as a motorist must exercise ordinary care and drive at a reasonable rate of
speed commensurate with the conditions encountered, which will enable him or her to keep the vehicle under
control and avoid injury to others using the highway. Thus, had Reynaldo not driven his pick-up at a fast speed
in overtaking the jeep of Ferdinand, he could have easily stopped his pick-up or swerved farther to the left side
of the road, as there was no oncoming vehicle, when he saw that Ferdinand alighted from his jeep and lost his
balance, in order to avoid hitting the latter or, at least, minimizing his injuries.
The findings by the CA are controlling on the Court. Indeed, the findings of both lower courts on the
circumstances that had led to the injuries of Ferdinand fully converged except for the RTCs conclusion that
malicious intent had attended the commission of the offense. Such findings cannot be disturbed by the Court in

25

this appellate review, for it is a well-settled rule that the findings of the trial court, especially when affirmed by
the CA, are binding and conclusive upon the Court.
Reckless imprudence consists in voluntary, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from
which material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing
of failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence,
physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place. To constitute the offense of
reckless driving, the act must be something more than a mere negligence in the operation of the motor vehicle,
but a willful and wanton disregard of the consequences is required. The Prosecution must further show the
direct causal connection between the negligence and the injuries or damages complained of.
Contrary to the petitioners insistence, the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender cannot be
appreciated in his favor. Paragraph 5 of Article 365, Revised Penal Code, expressly states that in the imposition
of the penalties, the courts shall exercise their sound discretion, without regard to the rules prescribed in Article
64 of the Revised Penal Code.
The penalty for the offender guilty of reckless imprudence is based on the gravity of the resulting
injuries had his act been intentional. Thus, Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code stipulates that had the act
been intentional, and would constitute a grave felony, the offender shall suffer arresto mayor in its maximum
period to prision correccional in its medium period; if it would have constituted a less grave felony, arresto
mayor in its minimum and medium periods shall be imposed; and if it would have constituted a light
felony, arresto menor in its maximum period shall be imposed. Pursuant to Article 9 of the Revised Penal
Code, a grave felony is that to which the law attaches the capital punishment or a penalty that in any of its
periods is afflictive in accordance with Article 25 of the Revised Penal Code; a less grave felony is that which
the law punishes with a penalty that is correctional in its maximum period in accordance with Article 25 of
the Revised Penal Code; and a light felony is an infraction of law for the commission of which a penalty of
either arresto menor or a fine not exceeding P200.00, or both is provided.
In its decision, the CA found that Ferdinand had sustained multiple facial injuries. It was also on record
that he had testified at the trial that he was unable to attend to his general merchandise store for three months
due to temporary amnesia; and that he had required the attendance of caregivers and a masseur until October
31, 1999. With Ferdinand not becoming insane, imbecile, impotent, or blind, his physical injuries did not fall
under Article 263, 1. Consequently, the CA incorrectly considered the petitioners act as a grave felony had it
been intentional, and should not have imposed the penalty at arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision
correccional in its medium period. Instead, the petitioners act that caused the serious physical injuries, had it
been intentional, would be a less grave felony under Article 25 of the Revised Penal Code, because Ferdinands
physical injuries were those under Article 263, 3, supra, for having incapacitated him from the performance of
the work in which he was habitually engaged in for more than 90 days.
Conformably with Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, the proper penalty is arresto mayor in its
minimum and medium periods, which ranges from one to four months. As earlier mentioned, the rules in
Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code are not applicable in reckless imprudence, and considering further that the
maximum term of imprisonment would not exceed one year, rendering the Indeterminate Sentence
Law inapplicable, the Court holds that the straight penalty of two months of arresto mayor was the correct
penalty for the petitioner.
The Court agrees with the CAs modification of the award of actual and moral damages amounting to
P58, 402.75 and P10,000.00, respectively. Actual damages, to be recoverable, must not only be capable of
proof, but must actually be proved with a reasonable degree of certainty. This is because the courts cannot rely
on speculation, conjecture or guesswork in determining the fact and amount of damages. Here, the receipts
presented by the Prosecution proved the expenses actually incurred amounting to P108, 402.75, but such
aggregate was reduced by the victims earlier receipt of P50, 000.00 from the petitioner in the form of financial
assistance. Hence, the victim should recover only the unpaid portion of P58, 402.75.
Moral damages are given to ease the victims grief and suffering. Moral damages should reasonably
approximate the extent of the hurt caused and the gravity of the wrong done. Accordingly, the CA properly
reduced to P10, 000.00 the moral damages awarded to Ferdinand.
In addition, we impose an interest of 6% per annum on the actual and moral damages reckoned from
the finality of this decision until the full payment of the obligation. This is because the damages thus fixed
thereby become forbearance. The rate of 6% per annum is pursuant to Circular No. 799, series of 2013.

26

Manolito Zafra vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 176317, July 23, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.
In convicting an accused of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of a public
document, the courts shall impose the penalty for the graver felony in the maximum period pursuant to Article
48 of the Revised Penal Code, plus fine in the amount of the funds malversed or the total value of the property
embezzled. In addition, the courts shall order the accused to return to the Government the funds malversed, or
the value of the property embezzled.
FACTS:
Appellant was the only Revenue Collection Agent of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Revenue
District 3, in San Fernando, La Union from 1993-1995. Among his duties was to receive tax payments for
which BIR Form 25.24 or the revenue official receipts (ROR) were issued. The original of the ROR was then
given to the taxpayer while a copy thereof was retained by the collection officer.
On 06 July 1995, an audit team all from the central office of the BIR, was tasked to audit the cash and
non-cash accountabilities of the appellant. Among the documents reviewed by the audit team were the CARs
furnished by the Assessment Division of the BIR; triplicate copies of the RORs attached to the MRCs
submitted by appellant to COA; and appellants MRCs provided by the Finance Division of the BIR. The audit
team likewise requested and was given copies of the RORs issued to the San Fernando, La Union branch of the
Philippine National Bank (PNB). A comparison of the entries in said documents revealed that the data
pertaining to 18 RORs with the same serial number vary with respect to the name of the taxpayer, the kind of
tax paid, the amount of tax and the date of payment. Of particular concern to the audit team were the lesser
amounts of taxes reported in appellants MRCs and the attached RORs compared to the amount reflected in the
CARs and PNBs RORs.
Likewise, PNBs RORs bearing Serial Nos. 1529758, 2016733, 2018310, 2023837, 2617653. 2617821,
2627973, 3095194, 3096955, 3097386, 3503336, and 4534412, show that it paid the total sum of
Php500,606.15, as documentary stamp tax. Yet, appellants MRCs yielded only the total sum of Php1,115.00,
for the same RORs, or a difference of Php499,491.15. The subject 18 RORs were the accountability of
appellant as shown in his Monthly Reports of Accountability (MRA) or BIR Form 16 (A).
In sum, although the RORs bear the same serial numbers, the total amount reflected in the CARs and
PNBs 12 copies of RORs is PhP615,493.93, while only Php1,342.00 was reported as tax collections in the
RORs triplicate copies submitted by appellant to COA and in his MRCs, or a discrepancy of Php614,151.93,
Thus, the audit team sent to appellant a demand letter requiring him to restitute the total amount
of Php614,151.93. Appellant ignored the letter, thus, prompting the institution of the 18 cases for malversation
of public funds through falsification of public document against him.
The RTC rendered its consolidated decision convicting the petitioner of 18 counts of malversation of
public funds through falsification of public documents. On August 16, 2006, the CA promulgated its assailed
judgment affirming the conviction of the petitioner and the penalties imposed by the RTC. After the CA denied
his motion for reconsideration by its resolution promulgated on January 11, 2007, the petitioner appeals via
petition for review on certiorari.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the conviction of the petitioner for several counts of malversation of public funds through
falsification of public documents should be upheld.
Whether or not the penalties imposed were correct.

RULING:

The findings of fact of the RTC were affirmed by the CA. Hence, the petitioner was correctly convicted
of the crimes charged because such findings of fact by the trial court, being affirmed by the CA as the
intermediate reviewing tribunal, are now binding and conclusive on the Court. Accordingly, we conclude that
the Prosecution sufficiently established that the petitioner had been the forger of the falsified and tampered
public documents, and that the falsifications of the public documents had been necessary to commit the
malversations of the collected taxes.

27

The petitioner merely relied on the passage of the RTCs ruling to buttress his contention that he should
be found guilty of malversation through negligence. His reliance is grossly misplaced, however, because the
RTC did not thereby pronounce that he had been merely negligent. The passage was nothing but a brief
forensic discourse on the legal consequence if his defenses were favorably considered, and was not the basis for
finding him guilty.
Initially, the CAs disquisition regarding malversation through negligence had the same tenor as that of
the RTCs, and later on even went to the extent of opining that the petitioner ought to be held guilty of
malversation through negligence.23 But such opinion on the part of the CA would not overturn his several
convictions for the intentional felonies of malversation of public funds through falsification of public
documents. As can be seen, both lower courts unanimously concluded that the States evidence established his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt for malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents.
At any rate, even if it were assumed that the findings by the CA warranted his being guilty only of
malversation through negligence, the Court would not be barred from holding him liable for the intentional
crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents because his appealing the
convictions kept the door ajar for an increase in his liability. It is axiomatic that by appealing he waived the
constitutional protection against double jeopardy, leaving him open to being convicted of whatever crimes the
Court would ultimately conclude from the records to have been actually committed by him within the terms of
the allegations in the informations under which he had been arraigned.

Yet, we see an obvious need to correct the penalties imposed on the petitioner. He was duly convicted of 18
counts of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents, all complex crimes. Pursuant
to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty for each count is that prescribed on the more serious
offense, to be imposed in its maximum period.
To determine the maximum periods of the penalties to be imposed on the petitioner, therefore, we must
be guided by the following rules, namely: (1) the penalties provided under Article 217 of the Revised Penal
Code constitute degrees; and (2) considering that the penalties provided under Article 217 of the Revised Penal
Code are not composed of three periods, the time included in the penalty prescribed should be divided into
three equal portions, which each portion forming one period, pursuant to Article 65 of the Revised Penal Code.
Accordingly, the penalties prescribed under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code should be divided into three
periods, with the maximum period being the penalty properly imposable on each count, except in any instance
where the penalty for falsification would be greater than such penalties for malversation.
Under Section 1 of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, an indeterminate sentence is imposed on the
offender consisting of a maximum term and a minimum term. The maximum term is the penalty under
the Revised Penal Code properly imposed after considering any attending circumstance; while the minimum
term is within the range of the penalty next lower than that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for the
offense committed.
The Indeterminate Sentence Law was applicable here, save for the counts for which the imposable
penalty was reclusion perpetua. Considering that each count was a complex crime without any modifying
circumstances, the maximum term of the penalty for each count is the maximum period. However, because
such penalty for malversation was lower than the penalty of prision mayor imposable on falsification of a
public document under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, it is the penalty of prision mayor in its
maximum period that was applicable. On other hand, the minimum of the indeterminate sentence for each
count should come from the penalty next lower than that prescribed under Article 217 of the Revised Penal
Code, except in Criminal Case No. 4635 where the penalty next lower is prision correccional in its full range.
In its consolidated decision of February 17, 2004, the RTC erred in pegging the maximum terms within
the minimum periods of the penalties prescribed under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code. It committed
another error by fixing indeterminate sentences on some counts despite the maximum of the imposable
penalties being reclusion perpetua. There is even one completely incorrect indeterminate sentence. And, as
earlier noted, the penalty for falsification under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code was applicable in
Criminal Case No. 4635 involving P4,869.00 due to its being the higher penalty.
One more omission by the CA and the RTC concerned a matter of law. This refers to their failure to
decree in favor of the Government the return of the amounts criminally misappropriated by the accused. That
he was already sentenced to pay the fine in each count was an element of the penalties imposed under
the Revised Penal Code, and was not the same thing as finding him civilly liable for restitution, which the RTC
and the CA should have included in the judgment.
28

We also pointedly remind all trial and appellate courts to avoid omitting reliefs that the parties are
properly entitled to by law or in equity under the established facts. Their judgments will not be worthy of the
name unless they thereby fully determine the rights and obligations of the litigants. They should prescribe the
legal penalties, which is what the Constitution and the law require and expect them to do. Their prescription of
the wrong penalties will be invalid and ineffectual for being done without jurisdiction or in manifest grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. They should also determine and set the civil liability ex
delicto of the accused, in order to do justice to the complaining victims who are always entitled to them.
The Rules of Court mandates them to do so unless the enforcement of the civil liability by separate actions has
been reserved or waived. In addition, the accused shall pay to the Government the total amount of P614,
268.73, plus interest of 6% per annum reckoned from the finality of this decision until full payment, by way of
his civil liability. The accused shall further pay the costs of suit.
In convicting an accused of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification
of a public document, the courts shall impose the penalty for the graver felony in the maximum period
pursuant to Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code, plus fine in the amount of the funds malversed or the total
value of the property embezzled. In addition, the courts shall order the accused to return to the Government
the funds malversed, or the value of the property embezzled.

Ricardo Medina Jr. vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 161308, January 15, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
It has been appropriately emphasized that [w]e have no test of the truth of human testimony, except its
conformity to our knowledge, observation, and experience. Whatever is repugnant to these belongs to the
miraculous and is outside of judicial cognizance.
FACTS:
This case concerns the fatal stabbing of Lino Mulinyawe which was preceded by a fight during a
basketball game between Ross Mulinyawe, Linos son, and Ronald Medina, the younger brother of Ricardo and
Randolf. Ronald had hit Ross with a piece of stone; hence, Ross was brought to the hospital for treatment. Lino
learned that his son had sustained a head injury, he forthwith went towards the house of the Medinas
accompanied by his drinking buddies, Tapan and Menes. He had a bread knife tucked in the back, but his
companions were unarmed.
Along the way, Lino encountered Randolf whom he confronted about the fight. The two of them had a
heated argument. Lino lashed out at Randolf and gripped the latters hand. Randolf retreated towards the store
and took two empty bottles of beer, broke the bottles and attacked Lino with them. Arriving at the scene,
Ricardo saw what was happening, and confronted Lino. Ricardo entered their house to get a kitchen knife and
came out. Lino made a thrust at Ricardo but failed to hit the latter, who then stabbed Lino on the left side of his
chest, near the region of the heart. Lino fell face down on the ground. Upon examination, it was declared that
cause of death is Stab wound of the chest. Ch
The Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig City charged Randolf with homicide. The information was
amended with leave of court to include Ricardo as a coconspirator. The RTC acquitted Randolf but convicted
Ricardo of homicide for it found no evidence of conspiracy between Randolf and Ricardo.
ISSUE: Whether or not the conviction should be upheld.
RULING: YES.
The argument of Ricardo is a mere reiteration of his submissions that the CA had already exhaustively
considered and passed upon. He has not added anything of substance or weight to persuasively show that the
CA had erred in affirming the RTC. Ricardo likewise contends that the State did not present as evidence in
court the two knives wielded by him and Lino despite repeated demands for their presentation
Reviewing the records, We find that appellants guilt as the perpetrator of the unlawful killing of the
victim Lino Mulinyawe had been adequately proven by prosecution evidence, both testimonial and physical.
29

Contrary to appellants contention, the nonpresentation of blood samples from the victim and the accused as
well as the instrument which accused used in perpetrating his felonious acts do not negate criminal liability it
is enough for the prosecution to establish by the required quantum of proof that a crime was committed and the
accused was the author thereof. The presentation of the weapon is not a prerequisite for conviction. Such
presentation and identification of the weapon used are not indispensable to prove the guilt of the accused much
more so where the perpetrator has been positively identified by a credible witness. The nonidentification and
nonpresentation of the weapon actually used in the killing did not diminish the merit of the conviction
primarily because other competent evidence and the testimonies of witnesses had directly and positively
identified and incriminated Ricardo as the assailant of Lino.
The witnesses incriminating Ricardo were not only credible but were not shown to have harbored any
illmotive towards him. They were surely entitled to full faith and credit for those reasons, and both the RTC
and the CA did well in according such credence to them.
In order that defense of a relative is to be appreciated in favor of Ricardo, the following requisites must concur,
namely: (1) unlawful aggression by the victim; (2) reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or
repel the aggression; and (3) in case the provocation was given by the person attacked, that the person making
the defense took no part in the provocation.19 Like in selfdefense, it is the accused who carries the burden to
prove convincingly the attendance and concurrence of these requisites because his invocation of this defense
amounts to an admission of having inflicted the fatal injury on the victim.
However, his defense was unworthy of belief due to its incongruity with human experience.

It has been appropriately emphasized that [w]e have no test of the truth of human testimony, except its
conformity to our knowledge, observation, and experience. Whatever is repugnant to these belongs to the
miraculous and is outside of judicial cognizance.

Dr. Encarnacion Lumantas vs. Hanz Calapiz


G.R. No. 163753, January 15, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
It is axiomatic that every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable. Nevertheless, the acquittal of
an accused of the crime charged does not necessarily extinguish his civil liability.
FACTS:
Spouses Calapiz brought their son Hanz Calapiz to the Misamis Occidental Provincial Hospital,
Oroquieta City, for an emergency appendectomy. Hanz was attended to by the petitioner, who suggested to the
parents that Hanz also undergo circumcision at no added cost to spare him the pain. Hanz complained of pain in
his penis, which exhibited blisters. His testicles were swollen. The parents noticed that the child urinated
abnormally after the petitioner forcibly removed the catheter, but the petitioner dismissed the abnormality as
normal. On January 30, 1995, Hanz was discharged from the hospital over his parents protestations.
On February 8, 1995, Hanz was confined in a hospital because of the abscess formation between the
base and the shaft of his penis. The petitioner referred him to Dr. Henry Go, an urologist, who diagnosed the
boy to have a damaged urethra. Thus, Hanz underwent cystostomy, and thereafter was operated on three times
to repair his damaged urethra. When his damaged urethra could not be fully repaired and reconstructed, Hanzs
parents brought a criminal charge against the petitioner for reckless imprudence resulting to serious physical
injuries. Information was filed in the Municipal Trial Court in Cities of Oroquieta City to which the latter
pleaded not guilty. The case was transferred to the RTC pursuant to Supreme Court Circular No. 11-99. The
RTC acquitted the petitioner of the crime charged for insufficiency of the evidence, but ruled the petitioner was
liable for moral damages because there was a preponderance of evidence showing that Hanz had received the
injurious trauma from his circumcision by the petitioner.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioner can be held civilly liable despite his acquittal of the crime of reckless
imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries.
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RULING:
It is axiomatic that every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable. Nevertheless, the
acquittal of an accused of the crime charged does not necessarily extinguish his civil liability.
Our law recognizes two kinds of acquittal, with different effects on the civil liability of the accused.
First is an acquittal on the ground that the accused is not the author of the act or omission complained of. This
instance closes the door to civil liability, for a person who has been found to be not the perpetrator of any act or
omission cannot and can never be held liable for such act or omission. The second instance is an acquittal based
on reasonable doubt on the guilt of the accused. In this case, even if the guilt of the accused has not been
satisfactorily established, he is not exempt from civil liability which may be proved by preponderance of
evidence only. Conformably with the foregoing, therefore, the acquittal of an accused does not prevent a
judgment from still being rendered against him on the civil aspect of the criminal case unless the court finds
and declares that the fact from which the civil liability might arise did not exist.
The petitioners contention that he could not be held civilly liable because there was no proof of his
negligence deserves scant consideration. The failure of the Prosecution to prove his criminal negligence with
moral certainty did not forbid a finding against him that there was preponderant evidence of his negligence to
hold him civilly liable. With the RTC and the CA both finding that Hanz had sustained the injurious trauma
from the hands of the petitioner on the occasion of or incidental to the circumcision, and that the trauma could
have been avoided, the Court must concur with their uniform findings.
In Hanzs case, the undesirable outcome of the circumcision performed by the petitioner forced the
young child to endure several other procedures on his penis in order to repair his damaged urethra. Surely, his
physical and moral sufferings properly warranted the amount of P50,000.00 awarded as moral damages.

Teofilo Giangan vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 169385, August 26, 2015
BERSAMIN, J.:
FACTS:
In his capacity as the barangay chairman of Barangay Luyang in the Municipality of Carmen, Province of Cebu
at the time material to this case, Giangan, along with his co-accused Domail, a barangay councilor, and Bontia,
the head of the barangay tanods, were charged with the violation of Section 3 (e) of R. A. No. 3019. It appears
that Aurelia Bernadas hired Delfin Buot to construct the wooden fence on her land; that the accused removed
the fence; that Buot first learned of the removal of the fence from the residents of Barangay Luyang; that Buot
further learned that Giangan and his co-accused removed the wooden fence; that Buot first directly inquired
from Giangan why the latter had destroyed the fence, but he harshly told him to tell Bernadas to just file a case
against him; that Buot then went home to call Bernadas about the incident; and that Buot accompanied
Bernadas and her spouse to confront Giangan, who reiterated his dare for them to just file a case. Bernadas
testified that she had caused the construction of the fence on her three properties in Barangay Luyang because
the fruits of the coconut trees growing on her properties were frequently stolen, and also because the sand on
the seashore within her properties was being excavated; that she reported the theft to Giangan, who did not take
any action on her complaint; that she spent a total of P11,200.00 for labor and materials in the construction of
the fence; that upon learning of the removal of the fence, she visited Giangan to inquire, but the latter shouted
at her: It is within my power as barangay captain to destroy the fence, and Dont tell me what to do, you just
file a case in court; that many landowners put up fences on their properties in the area, but the fences were not
removed; and that there was no established road right of way on her properties ever since she could remember.
RTC Danao City rendered its judgment finding all of the accused guilty as charged

ISSUE: Whether or not the Sandiganbayan was correct in affirming the conviction of Giangan

RULING:

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In every prosecution for the violation of Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019, the State must prove the following
essential elements, namely:
1. The accused is a public officer discharging administrative, judicial or official functions;
2. He must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence in the
discharge of his functions and;
3. His action caused any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or gave any private party
unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions.

The first element was present, for Giangan was indisputably a government official at the time of the alleged
commission of the offense charged. The second element enumerates the different modes by which means the
offense penalized in Section 3 (e) may be committed. "Partiality" is synonymous with "bias" which "excites a
disposition to see and report matters as they are wished for rather than as they are." "Bad faith does not simply
connote bad judgment or negligence; it imputes a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious
doing of a wrong; it partakes of the nature of fraud." "Gross negligence has been so defined as negligence
characterized by the want of even slight care, acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act,
not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally with a conscious indifference to consequences in so far as other
persons may be affected. Proof of the existence of any of these modes in connection with the prohibited acts
under Section 3 (e) should suffice to warrant conviction.

In this case, the Sandiganbayan erred in ruling that Giangan and his co-accused had acted with gross bad
faith and manifest impartiality when they removed the wooden posts of the fence of Bernadas. On the contrary,
their actuations evinced good faith. It was not at all disputed that access through the road had long been
permitted even by the owner and her predecessor. In that context, Giangan as the barangay chairman acted
upon the honest and sincere belief that he was then summarily abating the nuisance that a regular user of the
obstructed road had just reported to him. A further indication of the good faith of Giangan was the turning over
of the wooden posts to the police station, manifesting that the accused were acting within the scope of their
authority. .

The Sandiganbayan further erred in finding the presence of manifest partiality on the basis that there had been
other allegedly illegal constructions that the accused did not similarly remove in their capacities as barangay
officials. Bias should still not be imputed against them because they were acting on the complaint against the
inconvenience brought about by the obstruction erected on the access road. Manifest partiality should be
inferred only if there was a clear showing that there had been others who had been bothered by the similar
allegedly illegal constructions and had complained, but the accused, in their capacities as barangay officials,
did not deal with such complaint with the same alacrity. In light of the foregoing, the guilt of Giangan was not
established beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, he is entitled to acquittal.

Aurora Fransdilla vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 197562, August 20, 2015
BERSAMIN, J.:
The complex crime of robbery in an inhabited house by armed persons and robbery with violence against or
intimidation of persons was committed when the accused, who held firearms, entered the residential house of
the victims and inflicted injury upon the victims in the process of committing the robbery. Hence, the penalty is
that imposed for the robbery in an inhabited house, the more serious
FACTS:
Aurora Engson Fransdilla (Fransdilla), the lone appellant, seeks to reverse the decision promulgated on
February 28, 2011,1 whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed her conviction and that of her co-accused for
robbery on the basis of conspiracy. At private complainants residence at No. 24, Mabait St., Teachers Village,
Quezon City, private complainant Lalaine Yreverre saw appellant Aurora Engson in front of their gate. Upon
noticing Aurora, Lalaine went to the gate and asked Aurora what is their purpose, as there were four (4) of
them. Aurora then inquired about Cynthia Yreverre, Lalaines sister. The latter replied that Cynthia was in the
Japanese Embassy and asked Aurora if there was any other person whom she wanted to talk to. It was then that
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Aurora told Lalaine that she was from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). It was upon said
pretension that Lalaine offered herself to instead talk to her and allowed her to enter their house. Later on, four
men who are with Aurora went inside the house and announced that it was a hold-up.

ISSUE: Whether or not conspiracy was proved

RULING:
Conspiracy of Fransdilla with her co-accused was established beyond reasonable doubt
The State thus discharged its burden to produce before the trial court sufficient evidence against all the accused,
including Fransdilla, that would warrant a judgment of conviction. Fransdillas non-presentation of her defense,
despite her being directly incriminated by Lalaine, denied the Court her explanation for her specific overt acts
of complicity in the robbery and thus rendered the incriminating evidence unrefuted. By this the Court simply
means that Fransdilla did not discharge her burden of evidence, which is the duty of a party to start and
continue giving evidence at any stage of the trial until he has established a prima facie case, or the like duty of
the adverse party to meet and overthrow that prima facie case thus established. Fransdilla was satisfactorily
shown not to have been a mere passive coconspirator, but an active one who had facilitated the access into the
house by representing herself as an employee of the POEA. In that respect, it is not always required to establish
that two or more persons met and explicitly entered into the agreement to commit the crime by laying down the
details of how their unlawful scheme or objective would be carried out. Conspiracy can also be deduced from
the mode and manner in which the offense is perpetrated, or can be inferred from the acts of the several accused
evincing their joint or common purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. Once
conspiracy is established, the act of each conspirator is the act of all.

People of the Philippines vs. Recto Angngao and Robert Carlin


G.R. No. 189296, March 11, 2015
BERSAMIN, J.:
The State bears the burden of establishing the chain of custody of the dangerous drugs confiscated during a
buy-bust operation. The evidence of the chain of custody must meet the test of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
FACTS:
The Office of the City Prosecutor of Baguio City filed in the RTC two informations against Angngao and
Robert Carlin y Pecdasen, charging them with the illegal sale of marijuana resin and illegal possession of
marijuana hashish oil in violation of Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002).
They were apprehended by a buy-bust operation.

ISSUE: Whether or not the chain of custody was unbroken

RULING:
To ensure a conviction for the illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the following elements constituting the crime
must be present, namely: (a) the identities of the buyer and seller, the object of the sale, and the consideration;
and (b) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment for the thing. Such prosecution for the sale of illegal
drugs requires more than the hasty presentation of evidence to prove each element of the crime. The
presentation of the drugs as evidence in court is indispensable in every prosecution for the illegal sale of
dangerous drugs because the drugs are the corpus delicti of the crime. As such, the State should establish
beyond doubt the identity of the dangerous drugs by showing that the dangerous drugs offered in court as
evidence were the same substances bought during the buy-bust operation. This requirement is complied with by
ensuring that the custody of the seized drugs from the time of confiscation until presentation in court is
safeguarded under what is referred to as the chain of custody by Republic Act No. 9165, whose objective is to
remove unnecessary doubts concerning the identity of the evidence.
The manner and timing of the marking of the seized drugs or related items in accordance with the foregoing
statutory rules are crucial in proving the chain of custody. The marking by the arresting officer of the drugs,
being the starting point in the custodial link, should be made immediately upon the seizure, or, if that is not
possible, as close to the time and place of the seizure as practicable under the obtaining circumstances. This
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immediate marking is essential because the succeeding handlers of the drugs would use the markings as their
reference to the seizure, and because it further serves to segregate the marked seized drugs from all other
evidence from the time and point of seizure until the drugs are disposed of at the end of the criminal
proceedings. The deliberate taking of these identifying steps is statutorily aimed at obviating switching,
planting or contamination of the evidence. Verily, the preservation of the chain of custody vis--vis the drugs
ensures the integrity of the evidence incriminating the accused, and fulfills the element of relevancy as a
requisite for the admissibility of the evidence.
The integrity of the evidence presented the corpus delicti no less became suspicious by the mysterious
silence of the record on what transpired after the transaction. An examination of the record indicates that no
testimony on the links in the chain of custody from the time the drugs were confiscated up to the time they were
offered as evidence in court was given by the arresting lawmen and the others who could have handled the
drugs. This omission deprived the lower courts of the means of knowing the details as to every person who
touched the drugs, as to how and from whom the drugs were received, as to where the drugs were at any given
point in that interval, and as to what happened to the drugs while in the possession of each handler, including
the relative condition in which the drugs were received and the state in which they were delivered to the next
links in the chain. It is quite notable that the officers who served as the only witnesses to the buy-bust operation
neither described the precautions taken to ensure that there had been no change in the condition of the drugs nor
specified that there was no opportunity for any person not in the chain to have possession of the drugs.

People of the Philippines vs. Mariano Oandasan Jr.


G. R. No. 194605, June 14, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.
The attack was mounted with treachery because the two conditions in order for this circumstance to be
appreciated concurred, namely: (a) that the means, methods and forms of execution employed gave the person
attacked no opportunity to defend themselves or to retaliate; and ( b) that such means, methods and forms of
execution were deliberately and consciously adopted by the accused without danger to his person. The essence
of treachery lay in the attack that came without warning, and was swift, deliberate and unexpected, affording
the hapless, unarmed and unsuspecting victims no chance to resist, or retaliate, or escape, thereby ensuring the
accomplishment of the deadly design without risk to the aggressor, and without the slightest provocation on the
part of the victims.
FACTS:
Three informations were filed against the accused, two of which were for murder involving the fatal shooting
of Edgardo Tamanu and Danilo Montegrico, and the third was for frustrated homicide involving the nearfatal
shooting of Mario Paleg. RTC convicted the accused which was affirmed by CA.

ISSUE: Whether or not the accused must be acquitted

RULING:
Denial and alibi do not overcome positive identification of the accused
Prosecution witness Ferdinand Cutaran positively identified the accused as the person who had shot
Montegrico. Considering that Cutaran's credibility as an eyewitness was unassailable in the absence of any
showing or hint of ill motive on his part to falsely incriminate the accused, such identification of the accused as
the assailant of Montegrico prevailed over the accused's weak denial and alibi. CA properly rejected the denial
and alibi of the accused as unworthy. Denial and alibi do not prevail over the positive identification of the
accused by the State's witnesses who are categorical and consistent and bereft of ill motive towards the
accused. Denial, unless substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, is undeserving of weight in law for
being negative and self-serving.

Treachery also attended the shooting of Tamanu and Paleg; hence, the accused is guilty of two counts of
murder and one count of frustrated murder
Although the CA and the RTC correctly concluded that the accused had been directly responsible for the
shooting of Tamanu and Paleg, we are perplexed why both lower courts only characterized the killing of
Tamanu and the near-killing of Paleg as homicide and frustrated homicide while characterizing the killing of
Montegrico as murder because of the attendance of treachery. The distinctions were unwarranted. The fact that
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the shooting of the three victims had occurred in quick succession fully called for a finding of the attendance of
treachery in the attacks against all the victims. Montegrico, Tamanu and Paleg were drinking together outside
their bunkhouse prior to the shooting when the accused suddenly appeared from the rear of the dump truck,
walked towards their table and shot Montegrico without any warning. That first shot was quickly followed by
more shots. In that situation, none of the three victims was aware of the imminent deadly assault by the
accused, for they were just enjoying their drinks outside their bunkhouse. They were unarmed, and did not
expect to be shot, when the accused came and shot them.
The attack was mounted with treachery because the two conditions in order for this circumstance to be
appreciated concurred, namely: (a) that the means, methods and forms of execution employed gave the person
attacked no opportunity to defend themselves or to retaliate; and ( b) that such means, methods and forms of
execution were deliberately and consciously adopted by the accused without danger to his person. The essence
of treachery lay in the attack that came without warning, and was swift, deliberate and unexpected, affording
the hapless, unarmed and unsuspecting victims no chance to resist, or retaliate, or escape, thereby ensuring the
accomplishment of the deadly design without risk to the aggressor, and without the slightest provocation on the
part of the victims. What was decisive is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victims to
defend themselves or to retaliate. Treachery as an aggravating or attendant circumstance must be established
beyond reasonable doubt.
It is of no consequence, therefore, that Cutaran, who had meanwhile fled to safety upon hearing the shot that
had felled Montegrico, did not witness the actual shooting of Tamanu and Paleg; or that Paleg, although
surviving the assault against him and Tamanu, did not testify during the trial. What is of consequence is that the
records unquestionably and reliably showed that Tamanu and Paleg were already prostrate on the ground when
Cutaran returned to the scene; and that the gunshots had been fired in quick succession, thereby proving with
moral certainty that the accused was the same person who also shot Tamanu and Paleg.
As a consequence, the accused was criminally liable for two counts of murder for the fatal shooting of
Montegrico and Tamanu, and for frustrated murder for the near-fatal shooting of Paleg. In the absence of any
modifying circumstances, reclusion perpetua is the penalty for each count of murder, while reclusion temporal
in its medium period is the penalty for frustrated murder. The indeterminate sentence for the frustrated murder
is eight years of prision mayor, as the minimum, to 14 years, eight months and one day of reclusion temporal,
as the maximum

People of the Philippines vs. Edison Magbitang


G. R. No. 175592, June 14, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.:
Every child of sound mind with the capacity to perceive and make known his perception can be believed in the
absence of any showing of an improper motive to testify.
FACTS:
Magbitang was charged with rape with homicide under the information filed by the Provincial Prosecutor of
Nueva Ecija. Seven-year old AAA asked permission from her mother, BBB, to go to a nearby store. BBB
allowed her daughter to leave the house, but the child did not return home. Later that evening, the child's
lifeless body was found by the riverbank. The lone witness to what had befallen AAA was 6year old CCC, who
recalled in court that he and AAA had been playing when Magbitang approached AAA; and that Magbitang
brought AAA to his house. CCC testified on re-direct examination that he had witnessed Magbitang raping
AAA (inasawa), as well as burning her face with a cigarette.

ISSUE: Whether or not CCCs testimony is sufficient to establish the accused guilt

RULING:
Magbitang's contention that CCC, being a child of tender age, was not a competent witness because his
testimony was filled with inconsistencies and suffered from improbabilities was unfounded. Under the Rules
of Court, a child may be a competent witness, unless the trial court determines _upon proper showing that the
child's mental maturity is such as to render him incapable of perceiving the facts respecting which he is to be
examined and of relating the facts truthfully. The testimony of the child of sound mind with the capacity to
35

perceive and make known the perception can be believed in the absence of any showing of an improper motive
to testify. Once it is established that the child fully understands the character and nature of an oath, the
testimony is given full credence. In the case of CCC, the defense did not persuasively discredit his worthiness
and competence as a witness. As such, the Court considers the reliance by the trial court on his recollection
fully justified.
The evidence of guilt against him consisted in both direct and circumstantial evidence. The direct evidence was
supplied by CCC's testimony, while the circumstantial evidence corroborated CCC's testimony. Such evidence,
combined, unerringly pointed to Magbitang, and to no other, as the culprit.

Pedro Ladines vs. People of the Philippines


G.R. No. 167333, January 11, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.:
To impose the highest within a period of the imposable penalty without specifying the justification for doing so
is an error on the part of the trial court that should be corrected on appeal. In default of such justification, the
penalty to be imposed is the lowest of the period.
FACTS:
An information was filed in the RTC charging the petitioner and one Herman Licup with homicide. While
Prosecution witnesses Philip de Ramon and Mario Lasala, along with victim Erwin de Ramon (Erwin), were
watching the dance held during the June 12, 1993 Grand Alumni Homecoming of the Bulabog Elementary
School in Sorsogon, Sorsogon, the petitioner and Licup appeared and passed by them. The petitioner suddenly
and without warning approached and stabbed Erwin below the navel with a machete. The petitioner then left
after delivering the blow. At that juncture, Licup also mounted his attack against Erwin but the latter evaded the
blow by stepping back. Erwin pulled out the machete from his body and wielded it against Licup, whom he hit
in the chest. Licup pursued but could not catch up with Erwin because they both eventually fell down. Erwin
was rushed to the hospital where he succumbed. RTC pronounced the petitioner guilty of the crime Homicide,
defined and penalized under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code, sans any mitigating circumstances and
applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, accused Pedro Ladines is hereby sentenced to suffer an
imprisonment of from Ten (10) years and One (1) day of prision mayor as minimum to 17 years and 4 months
of reclusion temporal as maximum. Petitioner averred that CA committed reversible error in affirming his
conviction despite the admission of Licup immediately after the incident that he had stabbed the victim; and
that the res gestae statement of Licup constituted newly-discovered evidence that created a reasonable doubt as
to the petitioners guilt.

ISSUE: Whether or not the penalty was proper

RULING:
The res gestae statement of Licup did not constitute newly-discovered evidence that created a reasonable doubt
as to the petitioners guilt. The concept of newly-discovered evidence is applicable only when a litigant seeks a
new trial or the re-opening of the case in the trial court. Seldom is the concept appropriate on appeal,
particularly one before the Court. The Court has issued guidelines designed to balance the need of persons
charged with crimes to afford to them the fullest opportunity to establish their defenses, on the one hand, and
the public interest in ensuring a smooth, efficient and fair administration of criminal justice, on the other. The
first guideline is to restrict the concept of newly-discovered evidence to only such evidence that can satisfy the
following requisites, namely: (1) the evidence was discovered after trial; (2) such evidence could not have been
discovered and produced at the trial even with the exercise of reasonable diligence; (3) the evidence is material,
not merely cumulative, corroborative, or impeaching; and (4) the evidence is of such weight that it would
probably change the judgment if admitted. We agree with the State that the proposed evidence of the petitioner
was not newly-discovered because the first two requisites were not present.
Homicide is punished with reclusion temporal. Taking the absence of any modifying circumstances into
consideration, the RTC fixed the indeterminate penalty of 10 years and one day of prision mayor, as minimum,
to 17 years and four months of the medium period of reclusion temporal, as maximum. The CA affirmed the
penalty fixed by the RTC. We declare that the lower courts could not impose 17 years and four months of the
medium period of reclusion temporal, which was the ceiling of the medium period of reclusion temporal, as the
maximum of the indeterminate penalty without specifying the justification for so imposing. They thereby
36

ignored that although Article 64 of the Revised Penal Code, which has set the rules for the application of
penalties which contain three periods, requires under its first rule that the courts should impose the penalty
prescribed by law in the medium period should there be neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances, its
seventh rule expressly demands that [w]ithin the limits of each period, the courts shall determine the extent of
the penalty according to the number and nature of the aggravating and mitigating circumstances and the greater
or lesser extent of the evil produced by the crime. By not specifying the justification for imposing the ceiling
of the period of the imposable penalty, the fixing of the indeterminate sentence became arbitrary, or whimsical,
or capricious. In the absence of the specification, the maximum of the indeterminate sentence for the petitioner
should be the lowest of the medium period of reclusion temporal, which is 14 years, eight months and one day
of reclusion temporal.

People of the Philippines vs. Marissa Bayker


G.R. No. 170192, February 10, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.:
An illegal recruiter can be liable for the crimes of illegal recruitment committed in large scale and estafa
without risk of being put in double jeopardy, provided that the accused has been so charged under separate
informations.
FACTS:
Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Makati a complaint for
Illegal Recruitment and Estafa against the accused.

ISSUE: Did the CA correctly affirm the conviction of the accused-appellant for the crimes of illegal
recruitment in large scale and estafa? Whether or not double jeopardy would attach?

RULING:
Illegal Recruitment Committed in Large Scale
Illegal recruitment is committed by a person who: (a) undertakes any recruitment activity defined under Article
13(b) or any prohibited practice enumerated under Article 34 and Article 38 of the Labor Code; and (b) does
not have a license or authority to lawfully engage in the recruitment and placement of workers. It is committed
in large scale when it is committed against three or more persons individually or as a group. The CA properly
affirmed the conviction of the accused-appellant by the RTC for illegal recruitment committed in large scale
because she had committed acts of recruitment against at least three persons (namely: Canizares, Dahab, and
Miparanum) despite her not having been duly licensed or authorized by the Philippine Overseas Employment
Administration (POEA) for that purpose. The accused-appellant's insistence on her very limited participation in
the recruitment of the complainants did not advance or help her cause any because the State established her
having personally promised foreign employment either as hotel porters or seafarers to the complainants despite
her having no license or authority to recruit from the POEA. The records made it clear enough that her
participation was anything but limited, for she herself had accompanied them to their respective medical
examinations at their own expense. In addition, she herself brought them to GNB Marketing and introduced
them to her co-accused.

The conviction of the accused-appellant for illegal recruitment committed in large scale did not preclude her
personal liability for estafa under Article 315(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code on the ground of subjecting her
to double jeopardy. The elements of estafa as charged are, namely: ( 1) the accused defrauded another by abuse
of confidence or by means of deceit; and (2) the offended party, or a third party suffered damage or prejudice
capable of pecuniary estimation. In contrast, the crime of illegal recruitment committed in large scale, as
indicated earlier, requires different elements. Double jeopardy could not result from prosecuting and convicting
the accused-appellant for both crimes considering that they were entirely distinct from each other not only from
their being punished under different statutes but also from their elements being different.
The active representation by the accused-appellant of having the capacity to deploy Miparanum abroad despite
not having the authority or license to do so from the POEA constituted deceit as the first element of estafa. Her
representation induced the victim to part with his money, resulting in damage that is the second element of the
estafa.

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