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People of the Philippines v. Hernandez, 99 Phil.

Rep 515 (1956), was a case decided by


the Philippine Supreme Court which held that the crime of rebellion under the Revised Penal
Code of the Philippines is charged as a single offense, and that it cannot be made into
a complex crime. While it was decided on an almost divided opinion, it nevertheless
became a stable doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence.

Facts

It was the height of the Government action against communists and


the Hukbalahap guerillas. President Elpidio Quirino, through his Defense Secretary (and later,
President) Ramon Magsaysay intensified the campaign against them, and the crackdown
was on against communist organizations. Due to such government action, several
communist leaders like Luis Taruc and the Lava brothers were soon in government custody.
On January 20, 1951, the Congress of Labor Organizations (CLO) headquarters was raided.
Writer (and future National Artist for Literature) Amado V. Hernandez, himself a labor leader,
was arrested on January 26 for various rebellious activities with the CLO. Upon his arrest, he
was charged in the criminal information of “Rebellion with Murder, Arson and Robbery”. Five
years after his arrest, Hernandez asked for bail with the court where his case was pending,
but was denied on the basis of the nature of the offense (if the crime was complexed, the
penalty for the most serious crime shall be imposed). Thus, he filed a petition to the Supreme
Court.

Arguments

The government, headed by Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla, argued that the gravity of
the crime committed required the denial of the bail. Moreover, the complex crime charged
by the government against Hernandez has been successfully imposed with other arrested
communist leaders and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Decision

The Supreme Court, through then Associate Justice Roberto Concepcion, ruled that
rebellion cannot be complexed with other crimes, such as murder and arson. Rebellion in
itself would include and absorb the said crimes, thus granting the accused his right to bail.
Murder and arson are crimes inherent and concomitant when rebellion is taking place.
Rebellion in the Revised Penal Code constitutes one single crime and that there is no reason
to complex it with other crimes. As basis, the Court cited several cases convicting the
defendants of simple rebellion although they killed several persons.
Thus, the petition for bail was granted. On May 30, 1964, the Supreme Court acquitted
Hernandez (People v. Hernandez (1964)).
As of 1990, the Philippine Supreme Court again revisited the doctrine in Hernandez,
where Juan Ponce Enrile was similarly charged with the same offense as Hernandez. The
Supreme Court upheld anew the Hernandez decision (Enrile v. Salazar (1990)), maintaining
that it is still good law and applicable.