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G.R. No.

100909 October 21, 1992 Rules of Court furnishes basis for the appellant's
acquittal in the case at bar.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-
appellee, On June 19, 1988, 82-year-old Alfredo Altamarino, Sr.
was found dead inside the bedroom of his house
vs. located at corner Gardner and Regidor Streets,
SOLITO TENA, defendant-appellant. Barangay Sadsaran, Mauban, Quezon. His body,
described as laid out in an "orderly" manner on his
Criminal Procedure; Confession; Use of bed, bore eight (8) stab wounds, two of them in the
Camota’s extrajudicial confession precluded by neck and six in the chest. He also had a depressed
Section 25 (now Section 28) of Rule 130 of the fracture on the right portion of his head and a
Rules of Court.––Use of Camota’s extrajudicial lacerated wound on his right eyebrow.3 Dr. Victorino
G. Arana, then resident physician of the Mauban
confession is precluded by Section 25 (now District Hospital, conducted a post mortem
Section 28), of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, examination, and declared "cardiac tamponade" as
viz: Section 28. Admission by third party.–—The the immediate cause of death. 4
rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act,
declaration, or omission of another, except as The deceased's bedroom was in a topsy-turvy state;
hereinafter provided. his cabinet's drawers had been opened and
ransacked. Missing therefrom, according to the
Same; Same; Same; The rule is based on victim's eldest child, Emma Altamarino lbana (who-
traveled from Manila to Mauban as soon as she heard
principle of good faith and mutual the news of her father's death), were a diamond ring
convenience.––On a principle of good faith and valued at P20,000;00; a Rolex watch worth
mutual convenience, a man’s own acts are P8,000.00, a Seiko watch costing P3,000.00, a tie clip
binding upon himself, and are evidence against with 18 diamonds worth P50,000.00, two men's rings
him. So are his conduct and declarations. Yet it costing P25,000.00, cash in the amount of about
would not only be rightly inconvenient, but also P7,000 to P8,000 and an undetermined amount of
manifestly unjust, that a man should be bound dollars.5
by the acts of mere unauthorized strangers; and
Suspicion fell on the deceased's caretakers, the
if a party ought not to be bound by the acts of spouses William Verzo and Ofelia Ritual,6 but
strangers, neither ought their acts or conduct be investigation by the Mauban Police Force yielded no
used as evidence against him. evidence to warrant the filing of charges against
them.7 Emma Altamarino Ibana sought the help of the
Same; Same; Same; Rule admits of certain National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).8
exceptions, one of which is found in Section 27
(now Section 30) of Rule 130 of the Rules of On January 11, 19R9, NBI Agents Reynaldo
Court.––This rule admits of certain exceptions, Manzanero and Celso Singa arrived at Mauban,
Quezon to conduct their own investigation. Mauban
to be sure, one of which is found in Section 27, Police Station Commander Lt. Gironimo de Gala
(now Section 30) of Rule 130 of the Rules of informed them that suspicion as to the authorship of
Court, which states: Section 30. Admission by the crime had shifted to a syndicate operating in
conspirator.–—The act or declaration of a Lucena City and nearby municipalities. This syndicate
conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during was reportedly involved in the robbery of a Petron
its existence, may be given in evidence against Gas Station owned by a certain Benjamin Lim and a
the co-conspirator after the conspiracy is shown member thereof, Adelberto Camota, was then in
detention. The NBI Agents interrogated
by evidence other than such act or declaration. Camota.9

Same; Same; Same; Same; Requisites in order Sensing that Camota knew of the incident than he
that admission of a conspirator may be received was letting on, the NBI agents requested the services
against his co-conspirator.––In order that the of an NBI polygraph examiner.10 The request was
admission of a conspirator may be received granted. On February 1, 1989, Camota, allegedly with
against his coconspirator, it is necessary that (a) his consent,11 underwent a polygraph examination
the conspiracy be first proved by evidence other conducted by Polygraph Examiner II Ernesto A.
Lucena, at the office of the Mauban Chief of
than the admission itself; (b) the admission Police. 12
relates to the common object; and (c) it has
been made while the declarant was engaged in When confronted on the same day with the results of
carrying out the conspiracy. People vs. Tena, his, polygraph test, Adelberto Camota executed an
215 SCRA 43, G.R. No. 100909 October 21, extrajudicial confession13 in the presence of Atty.
1992 Albert Siquijor, admitting participation in the robbery-
killing of Alfredo Altamirano, Sr. and pointing to
NARVASA, C.J.: Virgilio Conde, Jose de Jesus, Solito Tena and an
unidentified person as his companions in the crime.
The familiar maxim, "res inter alios acta alteri nocere
non debet" ("things done between strangers ought not An information14 for the crime of Robbery with
to injure those who are not parties to Homicide was subsequently filed by the Assistant
them") 1 embodied in Section 25, 2 Rule 130 of the Provincial Fiscal against Virgilio Conde, Jose de
Jesus Jr., Adelberto Camota, Solito Tena and John evidence of the extrajudicial confession of Adelberto
Doe. Camota and his conviction on the sole basis
thereof. 20
Virgilio Conde and Solito Tena pleaded not guilty
upon arraignment on November 12, 198915 as did But as is made clear by the Solicitor General in his
Adelberto Camota when arraigned on January 17, "Manifestation in lieu of Appellee's Brief," the matter of
1990.16 Jose de Jesus and John Doe were never that confession's competency need not be delved into
apprehended and remain at large to date. Virgilio as the issue of accused-appellant's guilt or innocence
Conde later escaped from detention and was tried in may be resolved by application of the doctrine, "res
absentia inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet."21 Actually,
the issue is not so much the admissibility in evidence
On February 26, 1991, the Trial Court rendered a of the extrajudicial confession, but rather, even
decision,17 disposing as follows: conceding its admissibility, its use against person
other than the confessant, e.g., herein accused-
WHEREFORE, after due consideration of the appellant.
evidence herein presented, accused Virgilio
Conde, Adelberto Camota and Solito Tena are all Use of Camota's extrajudicial confession is precluded
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the by Section 25 (now Section 28), of Rule 130 of the
complex crime of Robbery with Homicide, and it Rules of Court, viz:
appearing that there is no mitigating circumstance
present and there is the aggravating circumstance Section 28. Admission by third party. — The
of nocturnity and in band attending in the rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act,
commission of the crime, all the three accused are, declaration, or omission of another, except as
therefore, sentenced to a prison term of TWENTY hereinafter provided.
(20) YEARS of reclusion perpetua and to pay
jointly and severally, the heirs of Alfredo The reason for the rule is that: 22
Altamarino, Sr., the amount of P120,000.00 for
indemnity and damages and to pay the On a principle of good faith and mutual
proportionate costs. convenience, a man's own acts are binding
upon himself, and are evidence against him. So
xxx xxx xxx are his conduct and declarations. Yet it would
not only be rightly inconvenient, but also
SO ORDERED. manifestly unjust, that a man should be bound
by the acts of mere unauthorized strangers; and
Later, to correct what he described as a typographical if a party ought not to be bound by the acts of
error in that decision, the trial judge issued an strangers, neither ought their acts or conduct be
amended judgment on April 10, 1991 changing the used as evidence against him.
number of years of the penalty imposed, reclusion
perpetua, from twenty (20) to thirty (30) years.18 This rule admits of certain exceptions, to be sure, one
of which is found in Section 27, (now Section 30) of
Only Solito Tena appealed. As earlier intimated, he Rule 130 of the Rules of Court, which states:
will be granted the relief he seeks.
Section 30. Admission by conspirator. — The
There was no eyewitness to the commission of the act or declaration of a conspirator relating to the
crime. The judgment of conviction was based chiefly conspiracy and during its existence, may be
an the extrajudicial confession of accused Adelberto given in evidence against the co-conspirator
Camota. Notwithstanding Camota's repudiation after the conspiracy is shown by evidence other
thereof in open court, the Trial Court adjudged the than such act or declaration.
same admissible in evidence upon its own findings
that: (a) Camota's constitutional rights to remain silent This exception does not however apply. In order that
and to counsel were observed and fully protected the admission of a conspirator may be received
during its execution; (b) no force, maltreatment or against his co-conspirator, it is necessary that (a) the
coercion was applied before, during and after its conspiracy be first proved by evidence other than the
execution; and, (c) the details contained in the admission itself; (b) the admission relates to the
confession attest to its voluntariness.19 According to common object; and (c) it has been made while the
said Court, that extrajudicial confession, considered declarant was engaged in carrying out the
conjointly with the other established circumstances, to conspiracy. 23
wit: that the time, date and place of the commission of
the crime were exactly as confessed by Camota; that Several factors bar the application of said Section 30
the wounds sustained by the victim, numbering ten in to the case at bar. For one thing, independently of
all, could only have been inflicted by two or more Camota's extrajudicial confession, Exh. K, there exists
persons; and that the flight of Virgilio Conde was no evidence of conspiracy between Camota and
indicative of his guilt, demonstrates beyond accused-appellant Tena. As stressed by the trial
reasonable doubt the complicity of the accused in the court, there was no eyewitness to the commission of
crime charged. the crime and none of the circumstantial proofs
considered by the court a quo points to a conspiracy
Not unexpectedly, therefore, it is this extrajudicial between Camota and accused-appellant Tena. For
confession on which Solito Tena centers his attack in another, the extrajudicial confession was executed
the present appellate proceedings, assigning as only February 1, 1989, long after the supposed
errors on the part of the lower court the admission in
conspiracy between Camota and accused-appellant the Code except as regards the penalty of reclusion
had come to an end. perpetua. 27 The article simply declares that any
person "sentenced to any of the perpetual penalties
More importantly, Camota, instead of confirming his shall be pardoned after undergoing the penalty for
extrajudicial confession in court, repudiated the same, thirty years, unless such person by reason of his
denied knowledge of the crime charged and denied conduct or some other serious cause shall be
knowing accused-appellant Tena. Thus: 14 considered by the Chief Executive as unworthy of
pardon." The provision's intendment is that a person
Q In this document, which was marked as Exh. condemned to undergo the penalty of reclusion
''K'' for the prosecution, you confessed having perpetua shall remain in prison perpetually, or for the
participated in this offense charged of you and rest of his natural life; however, he becomes eligible
your co-accused. Now, what can you say about for pardon by the Chief Executive after he shall have
this? been imprisoned for at least thirty years, unless he is
A As I do not know what was contained in that deemed unworthy of such a pardon.
document and I was just forced to sign it, sir.
Q How about this answer to question No. 11 on This period of thirty (30) fears vis a vis reclusion
page 1 of the same, Exh. "K", wherein you perpetua is reiterated in Article 70 of the code. Said
mentioned. the names of your co-accused to article pertinently provides that in applying the so-
have participated in the same case. What can called "three-fold rule" –– i.e., that "(w)hen the culprit
you say about this content of this affidavit? has to serve two or more penalties, . . . the maximum
May I request the Interpreter to read that duration of the convict's sentence shall not be more
particular question No. 11 and answer. than three-fold the length of time corresponding to the
(NOTE: The Interpreter read question No. 11 of most severe of the penalties imposed upon him" —
the affidavit, and also the answer) "the duration of perpetual penalties (pena perpetual)
Q What can you say about that portion of that shall be computed at thirty years." But as should at
alleged confession? once be perceived, the imputation of a thirty-year
A I do not know that and the persons mentioned duration to reclusion perpetua in Articles 27 and 70 is,
therein, I do not know them, sir. as this Court has recently had occasion to point out,
Q At the time you signed this particular "only to serve as the basis for determining the
document marked Exh. "K" for the prosecution, convict's eligibility for pardon or for the application of
have you come across or do you have the three-fold rule in the service of multiple
knowledge of this narration as portion of this penalties. 28
document?
A They did not show me the contents of the It was thus incorrect for the Trial Court to specify the
document, sir. duration of thirty (30) years in relation to the penalty
Q And when you say you do not know the of reclusion perpetua imposed by it on the, accused in
persons mentioned in the question No. 11, are this case.
you referring to Virgilio Conde?
A Yes, sir. WHEREFORE, accused-appellant Solito Tena is
Q Also to Solito Tena? hereby ACQUITTED of the crime of robbery with
A I do not know him also, sir. homicide in Criminal Case No. 1213 of the Regional
Q How about Jose de Jesus? Trial Court of Mauban, Quezon. His immediate
A I do not know him also, sir. release from confinement, unless held for other lawful
Q Please tell the, Hon. Court, in its finality, do cause, is directed. Costs de officio.
you really know or what can you say about this
charge against you and your co-accused about SO ORDERED.
having robbed and killed the victim, Alfredo
Altamarino?
A That I do not know anything about it, sir.

The extrajudicial confession of Camota thus being


inadmissible against his co-accused, 25 and there
being no evidence independently of said confession,
(Exh. K) linking accused-appellant Solito Tena to the
crime, this Court declares Tena not guilty of the
complex crime of robbery with homicide with which he
is charged. 26

Before ending this opinion, it is needful to devote a


few words to the amended judgment of the Trial Court
which changed the penalty originally imposed on the
accused — "TWENTY (20) YEARS of reclusion
perpetua" — to THIRTY (30) years of reclusion
perpetua.

There is no need for a Trial Court to specify the


duration in years of reclusion perpetua whenever it is
imposed as a penalty in any proper case. Article 27 of
the Revised Penal Code sets forth generally the
minimum and maximum ranges of all the penalties in
G.R. No. 177727 January 19, 2010 co-conspirators provided that the conspiracy is
shown by independent evidence aside from the
HAROLD V. TAMARGO, Petitioner, extrajudicial confession. Thus, in order that the
vs. admission of a conspirator may be received
ROMULO AWINGAN, LLOYD ANTIPORDA against his or her co-conspirators, it is
and LICERIO ANTIPORDA, JR., Respondents. necessary that (a) the conspiracy be first proved
by evidence other than the admission itself (b)
Criminal Procedure; Information; When the admission relates to the common object and
confronted with a motion to withdraw an (c) it has been made while the declarant was
Information (on the ground of lack of probable engaged in carrying out the conspiracy.
cause to hold the accused for trial based on a Otherwise, it cannot be used against the alleged
resolution of the DOJ Secretary) the trial court co-conspirators without violating their
has the duty to make an independent constitutional right to be confronted with the
assessment of the merits of the motion.—It is witnesses against them and to cross-examine
settled that, when confronted with a motion to them.
withdraw an Information (on the ground of lack
of probable cause to hold the accused for trial Same; Probable Cause; Once it is ascertained
based on a resolution of the DOJ Secretary), the that no probable cause exists to form a sufficient
trial court has the duty to make an independent belief as to the guilt of the accused, they should
assessment of the merits of the motion. It may be relieved from the pain of going through a full
either agree or disagree with the blown court case.—Considering the paucity and
recommendation of the Secretary. Reliance inadmissibility of the evidence presented
alone on the resolution of the Secretary would against the respondents, it would be unfair to
be an abdication of the trial court’s duty and hold them for trial. Once it is ascertained that no
jurisdiction to determine a prima facie case. The probable cause exists to form a sufficient belief
court must itself be convinced that there is as to the guilt of the accused, they should be
indeed no sufficient evidence against the relieved from the pain of going through a full
accused. blown court case. When, at the outset, the
evidence offered during the preliminary
Same; Same; Evidence; Res Inter Alios Acta; investigation is nothing more than an
The rule on res inter alios acta provides that the uncorroborated extrajudicial confession of an
rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by an act, alleged conspirator, the criminal complaint
declaration or omission of another; Reason for should not prosper so that the system would be
the Rule.—Res inter alios acta alteri nocere non spared from the unnecessary expense of such
debet. The rule on res inter alios acta provides useless and expensive litigation. Tamargo vs.
that the rights of a party cannot be prejudiced by Awingan, 610 SCRA 316, G.R. No. 177727
an act, declaration, or omission of another. January 19, 2010
Consequently, an extrajudicial confession is
binding only on the confessant, is not admissible DECISION
against his or her co-accused and is considered
as hearsay against them. The reason for this CORONA, J.:
rule is that: on a principle of good faith and
mutual convenience, a man’s own acts are This is a petition for review on certiorari1 of the
November 10, 2006 decision2 and May 18, 2007
binding upon himself, and are evidence against resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
him. So are his conduct and declarations. Yet it SP No. 93610.
would not only be rightly inconvenient, but also
manifestly unjust, that a man should be bound Atty. Franklin V. Tamargo and his eight-year-old
by the acts of mere unauthorized strangers; and daughter, Gail Franzielle, were shot and killed at
if a party ought not to be bound by the acts of around 5:15 p.m. of August 15, 2003 along Nueva
strangers, neither ought their acts or conduct be Street corner Escolta Street, Binondo, Manila. The
used as evidence against him. police had no leads on the perpetrators of the crime
until a certain Reynaldo Geron surfaced and executed
an affidavit dated September 12, 2003. He stated that
Same; Same; Same; Same; Conspiracy; a certain Lucio Columna told him during a drinking
Exception to the res inter alios acta rule is an spree that Atty. Tamargo was ordered killed by
admission made by a conspirator under Section respondent Lloyd Antiporda and that he (Columna)
30, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court.—An was one of those who killed Atty. Tamargo. He added
exception to the res inter alios acta rule is an that he told the Tamargo family what he knew and
admission made by a conspirator under Section that the sketch of the suspect closely resembled
Columna.4
30, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court: This rule
prescribes that the act or declaration of the After conducting a preliminary investigation and on
conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during the strength of Geron’s affidavit, the investigating
its existence may be given in evidence against prosecutor5issued a resolution dated December 5,
2003 finding probable cause against Columna and Thus, on November 10, 2004, the investigating
three John Does.6 On February 2, 2004, the prosecutor recommended the dismissal of the
corresponding Informations for murder were filed charges. This was approved by the city prosecutor.
against them in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Manila, one assigned to Branch 27 for the death of Meanwhile, in another handwritten letter addressed to
Atty. Franklin Tamargo, and the other to Branch 29 for City Prosecutor Ramon Garcia dated October 29,
the death of the minor Gail Franzielle.7 Columna was 2004, Columna said that he was only forced to
arrested in the province of Cagayan on February 17, withdraw all his statements against respondents
2004 and brought to Manila for detention and trial.8 during the October 22, 2004 clarificatory hearing
because of the threats to his life inside the jail. He
On March 8, 2004, Columna (whose real name was requested that he be transferred to another detention
Manuel, Jr.) executed an affidavit wherein he admitted center.16
his participation as "look out" during the shooting and
implicated respondent Romulo Awingan (alias Aggrieved by the dismissal of the charges, petitioner
"Mumoy") as the gunman and one Richard Mecate. filed an appeal to the Department of Justice
He also tagged as masterminds respondent Licerio (DOJ).17 On May 30, 2005, the DOJ, through then
Antiporda, Jr. and his son, respondent Lloyd Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez, reversed the dismissal
Antiporda.9 The former was the ex-mayor and the and ordered the filing of the Informations for
latter the mayor of Buguey, Cagayan at that time. murder.18 He opined that the March 8, 2004
When the killing took place, Licerio Antiporda was in extrajudicial confession was not effectively impeached
detention for a kidnapping case in which Atty. by the subsequent recantation and that there was
Tamargo was acting as private prosecutor. enough evidence to prove the probable guilt of
respondents.19Accordingly, the Informations were filed
Pursuant to this affidavit, petitioner Harold V. and the cases were consolidated and assigned to the
Tamargo (brother of Atty. Tamargo) filed a complaint RTC of Manila, Branch 29.20
against those implicated by Columna in the Office of
the City Prosecutor of Manila.10 However, on August 12, 2005, Secretary Gonzales
granted the Antipordas’ motion for reconsideration
On April 19, 2004, Columna affirmed his affidavit (MR) and directed the withdrawal of the
before the investigating prosecutor11 who subjected Informations.21 This time, he declared that the
him to clarificatory questions.12 extrajudicial confession of Columna was inadmissible
against respondents and that, even if it was
Respondents denied any involvement in the killings. admissible, it was not corroborated by other
They alleged that Licerio was a candidate for mayor in evidence.22 As a result, on August 22, 2005, the trial
Buguey, Cagayan during the May 2004 elections and prosecutor filed a motion to withdraw the Informations.
that the case was instituted by his political opponents On October 4, 2005, Secretary Gonzalez denied
in order to derail his candidacy. The Antipordas petitioner’s MR.
admitted that Atty. Tamargo was their political rival for
the mayoralty post of Buguey. Atty. Tamargo had The RTC, through Judge Cielito Mindaro-Grulla,
been defeated twice by Lloyd and once by Licerio. granted the motion to withdraw the Informations in an
Before the killing, Atty. Tamargo filed an election case order dated October 26, 2005.23 Petitioner filed an MR
against Lloyd and a kidnapping case in the but the judge voluntarily inhibited herself without
Sandiganbayan against Licerio. However, they resolving the same. The cases were re-raffled to
claimed that both cases were dismissed as Lloyd Branch 19, presided by Judge Zenaida R. Daguna.
emerged as the winner in the elections and Licerio Judge Daguna granted the MR of petitioner in a
was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan.13 resolution dated December 9, 2005. She ruled that,
based on Columna’s March 8, 2004 affidavit which he
During the preliminary investigation, respondent affirmed before the investigating prosecutor, there
Licerio presented Columna’s unsolicited handwritten was probable cause to hold the accused for trial. She
letter dated May 3, 2004 to respondent Lloyd, sent denied the MR of the Antipordas in an order dated
from Columna’s jail cell in Manila. In the letter, February 6, 2006.
Columna disowned the contents of his March 8, 2004
affidavit and narrated how he had been tortured until Consequently, respondent Awingan filed a special
he signed the extrajudicial confession. He stated that civil action for certiorari and prohibition in the CA
those he implicated had no participation in the docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 93610. The Antipordas
killings.14 Respondent Licerio also submitted an separately filed another certiorari case docketed as
affidavit of Columna dated May 25, 2004 wherein the CA-G.R. SP No. 94188.
latter essentially repeated the statements in his
handwritten letter. In a decision dated November 10, 2006 in CA-G.R.
SP No. 93610, the CA ruled that the RTC judge
Due to the submission of Columna’s letter and gravely abused her discretion because she arbitrarily
affidavit, the investigating prosecutor set a clarificatory left out of her assessment and evaluation the
hearing, to enable Columna to clarify his contradictory substantial matters that the DOJ Secretary had fully
affidavits and his unsolicited letter. During the hearing taken into account in concluding that there was no
held on October 22, 2004, Columna categorically probable cause against all the accused. It also held
admitted the authorship and voluntariness of the that Columna’s extrajudicial confession was not
unsolicited letter. He affirmed the May 25, 2004 admissible against the respondents because, aside
affidavit and denied that any violence had been from the recanted confession, there was no other
employed to obtain or extract the affidavit from him.15 1avv phi1 piece of evidence presented to establish the existence
of the conspiracy. Additionally, the confession was
made only after Columna was arrested and not while clarificatory hearing wherein he categorically affirmed
the conspirators were engaged in carrying out the his May 3, 2004 letter and May 25, 2004 affidavit.
conspiracy.
We declared in Jimenez v. Jimenez29 that
After this decision was promulgated, CA-G.R. SP No.
93610 was consolidated with CA-G.R. SP No. 94188. [although] there is no general formula or fixed rule for
The CA denied reconsideration in a resolution dated the determination of probable cause since the same
May 18, 2007. In a decision dated August 24, 2007, must be decided in the light of the conditions
the CA likewise granted the petition for certiorari of obtaining in given situations and its existence
respondents Antiporda.24 depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion
of the judge conducting the examination, such a
Petitioner filed this petition assailing the decision in finding should not disregard the facts before the
CA-G.R. SP No. 93610. Later on, he filed an judge nor run counter to the clear dictates of
amended petition impleading respondents Antiporda reason. The judge or fiscal, therefore, should not
and likewise assailing the CA decision in CA-G.R. SP go on with the prosecution in the hope that some
No. 94188. The Court treated this as a supplemental credible evidence might later turn up during trial
petition. for this would be a flagrant violation of a basic
right which the courts are created to
The main issue for our resolution is whether or not the uphold.30 (Emphasis supplied)
CA erred in finding that Judge Daguna had committed
grave abuse of discretion in denying the withdrawal of Had Judge Daguna reviewed the entire records of the
the Informations for murder against respondents. investigation, she would have seen that, aside from
the pieces of evidence she relied on, there were
Petitioner argues that, based on the independent others which cast doubt on them. We quote with
assessment of Judge Daguna, there was probable approval the reflections of the CA on this point:
cause based on the earlier affidavit of Columna. She
considered all the pieces of evidence but did not give The selectivity of respondent RTC Judge for purposes
credit to Columna’s recantation. of resolving the motion to withdraw the
informationseffectively sidetracked the guidelines for
Respondents counter that Judge Daguna committed an independent assessment and evaluation of the
grave abuse of discretion by limiting her evaluation merits of the case. Respondent RTC Judge thus
and assessment only to evidence that supported impaired the substantial rights of the accused.
probable cause while completely disregarding Instead, she should have made a circumspect
contradicting evidence. They also contend that evaluation by looking at everything made available to
Columna’s extrajudicial confession was inadmissible her at that point of the cases. No less than that was
against respondents because of the rule on res inter expected and required of her as a judicial officer.
alios acta. According to Santos v. Orda, Jr., the trial judge may
make an independent assessment of the merits of the
We find no merit in the petition. case based on the affidavits and counter-affidavits,
documents, or evidence appended to the Information;
the records of the public prosecutor which the court
It is settled that, when confronted with a motion to
may order the latter to produce before the court; or
withdraw an Information (on the ground of lack of
any evidence already adduced before the court by the
probable cause to hold the accused for trial based on
accused at the time the motion is filed by the public
a resolution of the DOJ Secretary), the trial court has
prosecutor.31
the duty to make an independent assessment of the
merits of the motion.25 It may either agree or disagree
with the recommendation of the Secretary. Reliance Moreover, Judge Daguna failed to consider that
alone on the resolution of the Secretary would be an Columna’s extrajudicial confession in his March 8,
abdication of the trial court’s duty and jurisdiction to 2004 affidavit was not admissible as evidence against
determine a prima facie case.26 The court must itself respondents in view of the rule on res inter alios acta.
be convinced that there is indeed no sufficient
evidence against the accused.27 Res inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet. The rule
on res inter alios acta provides that the rights of a
We agree with the CA that Judge Daguna limited party cannot be prejudiced by an act, declaration, or
herself only to the following: (1) Columna’s affidavit omission of another.32 Consequently, an extrajudicial
dated March 8, 2004 wherein he implicated the confession is binding only on the confessant, is not
respondents in the murders; (2) his affirmation of this admissible against his or her co-accused33 and is
affidavit during the April 19, 2004 clarificatory hearing; considered as hearsay against them.34 The reason for
(3) his letter dated October 29, 2004 and (4) the May this rule is that:
30, 2005 DOJ resolution upholding the prosecutor’s
recommendation to file the murder charges.28 on a principle of good faith and mutual
convenience, a man’s own acts are binding upon
She completely ignored other relevant pieces of himself, and are evidence against him. So are his
evidence such as: (1) Columna’s May 3, 2004 letter to conduct and declarations. Yet it would not only
respondent Lloyd Antiporda narrating the torture he be rightly inconvenient, but also manifestly
suffered to force him to admit his participation in the unjust, that a man should be bound by the acts
crimes and to implicate the respondents; (2) his May of mere unauthorized strangers; and if a party
25, 2004 affidavit where he stated that neither he nor ought not to be bound by the acts of strangers,
the respondents had any involvement in the murders neither ought their acts or conduct be used as
and (3) his testimony during the October 22, 2004 evidence against him.35
An exception to the res inter alios acta rule is an No pronouncement as to costs.
admission made by a conspirator under Section 30,
Rule 130 of the Rules of Court: SO ORDERED.

Admission by conspirator. — The act or declaration of RENATO C. CORONA


a conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during its
existence, may be given in evidence against the co-
conspirator after the conspiracy is shown by evidence
other than such act or declaration.1avv phi 1

This rule prescribes that the act or declaration of the


conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during its
existence may be given in evidence against co-
conspirators provided that the conspiracy is shown by
independent evidence aside from the extrajudicial
confession.36 Thus, in order that the admission of a
conspirator may be received against his or her co-
conspirators, it is necessary that (a) the conspiracy be
first proved by evidence other than the admission
itself (b) the admission relates to the common object
and (c) it has been made while the declarant was
engaged in carrying out the conspiracy.37 Otherwise, it
cannot be used against the alleged co-conspirators
without violating their constitutional right to be
confronted with the witnesses against them and to
cross-examine them.38

Here, aside from the extrajudicial confession, which


was later on recanted, no other piece of evidence was
presented to prove the alleged conspiracy. There was
no other prosecution evidence, direct or
circumstantial, which the extrajudicial confession
could corroborate. Therefore, the recanted confession
of Columna, which was the sole evidence against
respondents, had no probative value and was
inadmissible as evidence against them.

Considering the paucity and inadmissibility of the


evidence presented against the respondents, it would
be unfair to hold them for trial. Once it is ascertained
that no probable cause exists to form a sufficient
belief as to the guilt of the accused, they should be
relieved from the pain of going through a full blown
court case.39 When, at the outset, the evidence
offered during the preliminary investigation is nothing
more than an uncorroborated extrajudicial confession
of an alleged conspirator, the criminal complaint
should not prosper so that the system would be
spared from the unnecessary expense of such
useless and expensive litigation.40 The rule is all the
more significant here since respondent Licerio
Antiporda remains in detention for the murder charges
pursuant to the warrant of arrest issued by Judge
Daguna.41

Indeed, at that stage of the proceedings, the duty of


Judge Daguna was only to satisfy herself whether
there was probable cause or sufficient ground to hold
respondents for trial as co-conspirators. Given that
she had no sufficient basis for a finding of probable
cause against respondents, her orders denying the
withdrawal of the Informations for murder against
them were issued with grave abuse of discretion.

Hence, we hold that the CA committed no reversible


error in granting the petitions for certiorari of
respondents.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.