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She posits that the application of the

REVISED PENAL CODE (Article 10) principle of conspiracy would enlarge the scope of the
statute and include situations not provided for or
G.R. No. 141066. February 17, 2005 intended by the lawmakers, such as penalizing a person,
EVANGELINE LADONGA, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE like petitioner, who had no participation in the drawing
PHILIPPINES, respondent or issuance of checks.

Petitioner brought the case to the Court of Appeals, The Office of the Solicitor General disagrees with
arguing that the RTC erred in finding her criminally liable petitioner and echoes the declaration of the Court of
for conspiring with her husband as the principle of Appeals that some provisions of the Revised Penal Code,
conspiracy is inapplicable to B.P. Blg. 22 which is a special especially with the addition of the second sentence in
law; moreover, she is not a signatory of the checks and Article 10, are applicable to special laws. It submits that
had no participation in the issuance thereof. B.P. Blg. 22 does not provide any prohibition regarding
the applicability in a suppletory character of the
On May 17, 1999, the Court of Appeals affirmed the provisions of the Revised Penal Code to it.
conviction of petitioner.[18] It held that the provisions of
the penal code were made applicable to special penal Article 10 of the RPC reads as follows:
laws in the decisions of this Court in People vs. Parel, [19]
U.S. vs. Ponte, [20] and U.S. vs. Bruhez.[21] It noted that ART. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this
Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code itself provides that Code. Offenses which are or in the future may be
its provisions shall be supplementary to special laws punishable under special laws are not subject to the
unless the latter provide the contrary. The Court of provisions of this Code. This Code shall be supplementary
Appeals stressed that since B.P. Blg. 22 does not prohibit to such laws, unless the latter should specially provide
the applicability in a suppletory character of the the contrary.
provisions of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the principle
of conspiracy may be applied to cases involving violations The article is composed of two clauses. The first provides
of B.P. Blg. 22. Lastly, it ruled that the fact that petitioner that offenses which in the future are made punishable
did not make and issue or sign the checks did not under special laws are not subject to the provisions of
exculpate her from criminal liability as it is not the RPC, while the second makes the RPC supplementary
indispensable that a co-conspirator takes a direct part in to such laws. While it seems that the two clauses are
every act and knows the part which everyone performed. contradictory, a sensible interpretation will show that
The Court of Appeals underscored that in conspiracy the they can perfectly be reconciled.
act of one conspirator could be held to be the act of the
other. The first clause should be understood to mean only that
the special penal laws are controlling with regard to
WHETHER OR NOT THE CASES CITED BY THE HONORABLE offenses therein specifically punished. Said clause only
COURT OF APPEALS IN AFFIRMING IN TOTO THE restates the elemental rule of statutory construction that
CONVICTION OF PETITIONER AS CONSPIRATOR special legal provisions prevail over general ones.[24] Lex
APPLYING THE SUPPLETORY CHARACTER OF THE specialis derogant generali. In fact, the clause can be
REVISED PENAL CODE TO SPECIAL LAWS LIKE B.P. BLG. 22 considered as a superfluity, and could have been
IS APPLICABLE eliminated altogether. The second clause contains the
soul of the article. The main idea and purpose of the
Petitioner staunchly insists that she cannot be held article is embodied in the provision that the "code shall
criminally liable for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 because she be supplementary" to special laws, unless the latter
had no participation in the drawing and issuance of the should specifically provide the contrary.
three checks subject of the three criminal cases, a fact
proven by the checks themselves. She contends that the The appellate courts reliance on the cases of People vs.
Court of Appeals gravely erred in applying the principle Parel,[25] U.S. vs. Ponte,[26] and U.S. vs. Bruhez[27]
of conspiracy, as defined under the RPC, to violations of rests on a firm basis. These cases involved the suppletory
application of principles under the then Penal Code to this inference cannot be stretched to mean concurrence
special laws. People vs. Parel is concerned with the with the criminal design.
application of Article 22[28] of the Code to violations of
Act No. 3030, the Election Law, with reference to the Conspiracy must be established, not by conjectures, but
retroactive effect of penal laws if they favor the accused. by positive and conclusive evidence.[37] Conspiracy
U.S. vs. Ponte involved the application of Article 17[29] transcends mere companionship and mere presence at
of the same Penal Code, with reference to the the scene of the crime does not in itself amount to
participation of principals in the commission of the crime conspiracy.[38] Even knowledge, acquiescence in or
of misappropriation of public funds as defined and agreement to cooperate, is not enough to constitute one
penalized by Act No. 1740. U.S. vs. Bruhez covered Article as a party to a conspiracy, absent any active participation
45[30] of the same Code, with reference to the in the commission of the crime with a view to the
confiscation of the instruments used in violation of Act furtherance of the common design and purpose.[39]
No. 1461, the Opium Law.
As the Court eloquently pronounced in a case of recent
B.P. Blg. 22 does not expressly proscribe the suppletory vintage, People vs. Mandao:[40]
application of the provisions of the RPC. Thus, in the
absence of contrary provision in B.P. Blg. 22, the general To be sure, conspiracy is not a harmless innuendo to be
provisions of the RPC which, by their nature, are taken lightly or accepted at every turn. It is a legal
necessarily applicable, may be applied suppletorily. concept that imputes culpability under specific
Indeed, in the recent case of Yu vs. People,[31] the Court circumstances; as such, it must be established as clearly
applied suppletorily the provisions on subsidiary as any element of the crime. Evidence to prove it must
imprisonment under Article 39[32] of the RPC to B.P. Blg. be positive and convincing, considering that it is a
22. convenient and simplistic device by which the accused
may be ensnared and kept within the penal fold.
The suppletory application of the principle of conspiracy
in this case is analogous to the application of the Criminal liability cannot be based on a general allegation
provision on principals under Article 17 in U.S. vs. Ponte. of conspiracy, and a judgment of conviction must always
For once conspiracy or action in concert to achieve a be founded on the strength of the prosecutions
criminal design is shown, the act of one is the act of all evidence. The Court ruled thus in People v. Legaspi, from
the conspirators, and the precise extent or modality of which we quote:
participation of each of them becomes secondary, since
all the conspirators are principals.[33] At most, the prosecution, realizing the weakness of its
evidence against accused-appellant Franco, merely
In the present case, the prosecution failed to prove that relied and pegged the latters criminal liability on its
petitioner performed any overt act in furtherance of the sweeping theory of conspiracy, which to us, was not
alleged conspiracy. As testified to by the lone attendant in the commission of the crime.
prosecution witness, complainant Alfredo Oculam,
petitioner was merely present when her husband, The rule is firmly entrenched that a judgment of
Adronico, signed the check subject of Criminal Case No. conviction must be predicated on the strength of the
7068.[36] With respect to Criminal Case Nos. 7069-7070, evidence for the prosecution and not on the weakness of
Oculam also did not describe the details of petitioners the evidence for the defense. The proof against him must
participation. He did not specify the nature of petitioners survive the test of reason; the strongest suspicion must
involvement in the commission of the crime, either by a not be permitted to sway judgment. The conscience
direct act of participation, a direct inducement of her co- must be satisfied that on the defense could be laid the
conspirator, or cooperating in the commission of the responsibility for the offense charged; that not only did
offense by another act without which it would not have he perpetrate the act but that it amounted to a crime.
been accomplished. Apparently, the only semblance of What is required then is moral certainty.
overt act that may be attributed to petitioner is that she
was present when the first check was issued. However,
Verily, it is the role of the prosecution to prove the guilt considering the lack of similar rules under the special
of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt in order to law.
overcome the constitutional presumption of innocence.
In the case of People v. Chowdury,[39] the Court applied
In sum, conviction must rest on hard evidence showing Articles 17, 18 and 19 of the Revised Penal Code to define
that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the the words principal, accomplices and accessories under
crime charged. In criminal cases, moral certainty -- not RA No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas
mere possibility -- determines the guilt or the innocence Filipinos Act of 1995 because it was not defined therein
of the accused. Even when the evidence for the defense although it referred to the same terms in enumerating
is weak, the accused must be acquitted when the the persons liable for the crime of illegal recruitment.
prosecution has not proven guilt with the requisite
quantum of proof required in all criminal cases. While it is true that Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code
makes the Code suppletory to special laws, however, Act
G.R. Nos. 165510-33 July 28, 2006 No. 3326 cannot fall within the ambit of special law as
BENJAMIN (KOKOY) T. ROMUALDEZ, petitioner vs. contemplated and used in Article 10 of the RPC.
HON. SIMEON V. MARCELO, in his official capacity as
the Ombudsman, and PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON In the case of United States v. Serapio,[42] the Court had
GOOD GOVERNMENT, respondent the occasion to interpret the term special laws
mentioned in Article 7 of then Penal Code of the
Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code provides: Philippines, which is now Article 10 of the Revised Penal
Code, as referring to penal laws that punish acts not
ART. 10. Offenses not subject to the provisions of this defined and penalized by the Penal Code of the
Code. Offenses which are or in the future may be Philippines. Thus
punishable under special laws are not subject to the
provisions of this Code. This Code shall be supplementary This contention makes it necessary to define "special
to such laws, unless the latter should specially provide laws," as that phrase is used in article 7 of the Penal
the contrary. Code. Does this phrase "leyes especiales," as used in the
Penal Code (article 7) have the meaning applied to the
However, it must be pointed out that the suppletory phrase "special laws," as the same is generally used? x x
application of the Revised Penal Code to special laws, by x It is confidently contended that the phrase "leyes
virtue of Article 10 thereof, finds relevance only when especiales," as used in the Penal Code (article 7) is not
the provisions of the special law are silent on a particular used with this general signification: In fact, said phrase
matter as evident from the cases cited and relied upon in may refer not to a special law as above defined, but to a
the Dissenting Opinion: general law. A careful reading of said article 7 clearly
indicates that the phrase "leyes especiales" was not used
In the case of People v. Moreno,[37] this Court, before to signify "special laws" in the general signification of
ruling that the subsidiary penalty under Article 39 of the that phrase. The article, it will be noted, simply says, in
Revised Penal Code may be applied in cases of violations effect, that when a crime is made punishable under some
of Act No. 3992 or the Revised Motor Vehicle Law, noted other law than the Penal Code, it (the crime) is not
that the special law did not contain any provision that the subject to the provisions of said code.
defendant can be sentenced with subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency. G.R. No. 93028 July 29, 1994
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs.
In the case of People v. Li Wai Cheung,[38] this Court MARTIN SIMON y SUNGA, respondent
applied the rules on the service of sentences provided in
Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code in favor of the Appellant now prays the Court to reverse the
accused who was found guilty of multiple violations of RA aforementioned judgment of the lower court,
No. 6425 or The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 contending in his assignment of errors that the latter
erred in (1) not upholding his defense of "frame-up", (2)
not declaring Exhibit "G" (Receipt of Property In People vs. Macatanda, 65 a prosecution under a
Seized/Confiscated) inadmissible in evidence, and (3) special law (Presidential Decree No. 533, otherwise
convicting him of a violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act. known as the Anti-Cattle Rustling Law of 1974), it was
13 contended by the prosecution that Article 64, paragraph
5, of the Revised Penal Code should not apply to said
At the outset, it should be noted that while the People's special law. We said therein that
real theory and evidence is to the effect the appellant
actually sold only two tea bags of marijuana dried leaves, We do not agree with the Solicitor General that P.D. 533
while the other two tea bags were merely confiscated is a special law entirely distinct from and unrelated to the
subsequently from his possession, 14 the latter not being Revised Penal Code. From the nature of the penalty
in any way connected with the sale, the information imposed which is in terms of the classification and
alleges that he sold and delivered four tea bags of duration of penalties as prescribed in the Revised Penal
marijuana dried leaves. 15 In view thereof, the issue Code, which is not for penalties as are ordinarily imposed
presented for resolution in this appeal is merely the act in special laws, the intent seems clear that P.D. 533 shall
of selling the two tea bags allegedly committed by be deemed as an amendment of the Revised Penal Code,
appellant, and does not include the disparate and with respect to the offense of theft of large cattle (Art.
distinct issue of illegal possession of the other two tea 310) or otherwise to be subject to applicable provisions
bags which separate offense is not charged herein. 16 thereof such as Article 104 of the Revised Penal Code . . .
. Article 64 of the same Code should, likewise, be
To sustain a conviction for selling prohibited drugs, the applicable, . . . . (Emphasis supplied.)
sale must be clearly and unmistakably established. 17 To
sell means to give, whether for money or any other More particularly with regard to the suppletory effect of
material consideration. 18 It must, therefore, be the rules on penalties in the Revised Penal Code to
established beyond doubt that appellant actually sold Republic Act No. 6425, in this case involving Article 63(2)
and delivered two tea bags of marijuana dried leaves to of the Code, we have this more recent pronouncement:
Sgt. Lopez, who acted as the poseur-buyer, in exchange
for two twenty-peso bills. . . . Pointing out that as provided in Article 10 the
provisions of the Revised Penal Code shall be
On the other hand, the rules for the application of "supplementary" to special laws, this Court held that
penalties and the correlative effects thereof under the where the special law expressly grants to the court
Revised Penal Code, as well as other statutory discretion in applying the penalty prescribed for the
enactments founded upon and applicable to such offense, there is no room for the application of the
provisions of the Code, have suppletory effect to the provisions of the Code . . . .
penalties under the former Republic Act
No. 1700 and those now provided under Presidential The Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by P.D.
Decrees Nos. 1612 and 1866. While these are special No. 1623, contains no explicit grant of discretion to the
laws, the fact that the penalties for offenses thereunder Court in the application of the penalty prescribed by the
are those provided for in the Revised Penal code lucidly law. In such case, the court must be guided by the rules
reveals the statutory intent to give the related provisions prescribed by the Revised Penal Code concerning the
on penalties for felonies under the Code the application of penalties which distill the "deep legal
corresponding application to said special laws, in the thought and centuries of experience in the
absence of any express or implicit proscription in these administration of criminal laws." (Emphasis ours.) 66
special laws. To hold otherwise would be to sanction an
indefensible judicial truncation of an integrated system Under the aforestated considerations, in the case of the
of penalties under the Code and its allied legislation, Dangerous Drugs Act as now amended by Republic Act
which could never have been the intendment of No. 7659 by the incorporation and prescription therein
Congress. of the technical penalties defined in and constituting
integral parts of the three scales of penalties in the Code,
67 with much more reason should the provisions of said
Code on the appreciation and effects of all attendant degrees, which must each likewise consist of three
modifying circumstances apply in fixing the penalty. penalties, since only the penalties of fine and public
Likewise, the different kinds or classifications of censure remain in the scale.
penalties and the rules for graduating
such penalties by degrees should have supplementary The Court rules, therefore, that while modifying
effect on Republic Act No. 6425, except if they would circumstances may be appreciated to determine the
result in absurdities as will now be explained. periods of the corresponding penalties, or even reduce
the penalty by degrees, in no case should such
While not squarely in issue in this case, but because this graduation of penalties reduce the imposable penalty
aspect is involved in the discussion on the role of beyond or lower than prision correccional. It is for this
modifying circumstances, we have perforce to lay down reason that the three component penalties in the second
the caveat that mitigating circumstances should be paragraph of Section 20 shall each be considered as an
considered and applied only if they affect the periods independent principal penalty, and that the lowest
and the degrees of the penalties within rational limits. penalty should in any event be prision correccional in
order not to depreciate the seriousness of drug offenses.
Prefatorily, what ordinarily are involved in the Interpretatio fienda est ut res magis valeat quam pereat.
graduation and consequently determine the degree of Such interpretation is to be adopted so that the law may
the penalty, in accordance with the rules in Article 61 of continue to have efficacy rather than fail. A perfect
the Code as applied to the scale of penalties in Article 71, judicial solution cannot be forged from an imperfect law,
are the stage of execution of the crime and the nature of which impasse should now be the concern of and is
the participation of the accused. However, under accordingly addressed to Congress.
paragraph 5 of Article 64, when there are two or more
ordinary mitigating circumstances and no aggravating
circumstance, the penalty shall be reduced by one
degree. Also, the presence of privileged mitigating
circumstances, as provided in Articles 67 and 68, can
reduce the penalty by one or two degrees, or even more.
These provisions of Articles 64(5), 67 and 68 should not
apply in toto in the determination of the proper penalty
under the aforestated second paragraph of section 20 of
Republic Act No. 6425, to avoid anomalous results which
could not have been contemplated by the legislature.

Thus, paragraph 5 of Article 61 provides that when the

law prescribes a penalty in some manner not specially
provided for in the four preceding paragraphs thereof,
the courts shall proceed by analogy therewith. Hence,
when the penalty prescribed for the crime consists of
one or two penalties to be imposed in their full extent,
the penalty next lower in degree shall likewise consist of
as many penalties which follow the former in the scale in
Article 71. If this rule were to be applied, and since the
complex penalty in this
case consists of three discrete penalties in their full
extent, that is,
prision correccional, prision mayor and reclusion
temporal, then one degree lower would be arresto
menor, destierro and arresto mayor. There could,
however, be no further reduction by still one or two