You are on page 1of 223

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 118075 September 5, 1997

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
EMILIANO CATANTAN y TAYONG, accused-appellant.

BELLOSILLO, J.:

EMILIANO CATANTAN and JOSE MACVEN URSAL alias "Bimbo" were charged with violation of PD No. 532 otherwise known
as the Anti-Piracy and Highway Robbery Law of 1974 for having on 27 June 1993, while armed with a firearm and a bladed
weapon, acting in conspiracy with one another, by means of violence and intimidation, wilfully and feloniously attacked,
assaulted and inflicted physical injuries on Eugene Pilapil and Juan Pilapil Jr. who were then fishing in the seawaters of
Tabogon, Cebu, and seized their fishing boat, to their damage and prejudice. 1

The Regional Trial Court of Cebu, after trial, found both accused Emiliano Catantan y Tayong and Jose Macven Ursal alias "Bimbo"
guilty of the crime charged and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua. Of the duo only Emiliano Catantan appealed.
2

In his appeal, accused Catantan contends that the trial court erred in convicting him of piracy as the facts proved only constitute grave
coercion defined in Art. 286 of the Revised Penal Code and not piracy under PD No. 532.

The evidence for the prosecution is that at 3:00 o'clock in the morning of 27 June 1993, the Pilapil brothers Eugene, 21, and Juan Jr.,
18, were fishing in the sea some 3 kilometers away from the shores of Tabogon, Cebu. Suddenly, another boat caught up with them.
One of them, later identified as the accused Emiliano Catantan, bearded the pump boat of the Pilapils and leveled his gun at Eugene.
With his gun, Catantan struck Eugene on the left cheekbone and ordered him and Juan Jr. to "dapa." Then Catantan told Ursal to
3

follow him to the pumpboat of the Pilapils. There they hogtied Eugene, forced him to lie down at the bottom of the boat, covered him
with a tarpaulin up to his neck, stepped on him and ordered Juan Jr. to ferry them to Daan Tabogon. They left behind the other
pumpboat which the accused had earlier used together with its passengers one of whom was visibly tied.

Noting that they were already far out into the sea, Eugene reminded Catantan that they were now off-course but Catantan told Eugene
to keep quiet or he would be killed. Later, the engine conked out and Juan Jr. was directed to row the boat. Eugene asked to be set free
so he could help but was not allowed; he was threatened with bodily harm instead.

Meanwhile Juan Jr. managed to fix the engine, but as they went farther out into the open sea the engine stalled again. This time
Eugene was allowed to assist his brother. Eugene's hands were set free but his legs were tied to the outrigger. At the point of a tres
cantos held by Ursal, Eugene helped row the boat.
4

As they passed the shoreline of Nipa, they saw another boat. Catantan asked whose boat that was and the Pilapils told him that it was
operated by a certain Juanito and that its engine was new. Upon learning this, Catantan ordered the Pilapil brothers to approach the
boat cautioning them however not to move or say anything.

On the pretext that they were buying fish Catantan boarded the "new" pumpboat. Once aboard he ordered the operator Juanito to take
them to Mungaz, another town of Cebu. When Juanito tried to beg-off by saying that he would still pull up his net and harvest his catch,
Catantan drew his revolver and said, "You choose between the two, or I will kill you." Juanito, obviously terrified, immediately obeyed
5

and Ursal hopped in from the other pumpboat and joined Catantan.

But, as Ursal was transferring to the "new" pumpboat, its outrigger caught the front part of the pumpboat of the Pilapils so he kicked
hard its prow; it broke. The jolt threw Eugene into the sea and he landed on the water headlong. Juan Jr. then untied his brother's legs
and the two swam together clinging to their boat. Fortunately another pumpboat passed by and towed them safely ashore.

Section 2, par. (d), of PD No. 532, defines piracy as "any attack upon or seizure of any vessel, or the taking away of the whole or part
thereof or its cargo, equipment, or the personal belongings of the complement or passengers, irrespective of the value thereof, by
means of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things, committed by any person, including a passenger or member
of the complement of said vessel, in Philippine waters, shall be considered as piracy. The offenders shall be considered as pirates and
punished as hereinafter provided." And a vessel is construed in Sec. 2, par. (b), of the same decree as "any vessel or watercraft used
for transport of passengers and cargo from one place to another through Philippine waters. It shall include all kinds and types of vessels
or boats used in fishing (emphasis supplied).

On the other hand, grave coercion as defined in Art. 286 of the Revised Penal Code is committed by "any person who, without authority
of law, shall, by means of violence, prevent another from doing something not prohibited by law, or compel him to do something against
his will, whether it be right or wrong."

Accused-appellant argues that in order that piracy may be committed it is essential that there be an attack on or seizure of a vessel. He
claims that he and his companion did not attack or seize the fishing boat of the Pilapil brothers by using force or intimidation but merely
boarded the boat, and it was only when they were already on board that they used force to compel the Pilapils to take them to some
other place. Appellant also insists that he and Ursal had no intention of permanently taking possession or depriving complainants of
their boat. As a matter of fact, when they saw another pumpboat they ordered the brothers right away to approach that boat so they
could leave the Pilapils behind in their boat. Accordingly, appellant claims, he simply committed grave coercion and not piracy.

We do not agree. Under the definition of piracy in PD No. 532 as well as grave coercion as penalized in Art. 286 of the Revised Penal
Code, this case falls squarely within the purview of piracy. While it may be true that Eugene and Juan Jr. were compelled to go
elsewhere other than their place of destination, such compulsion was obviously part of the act of seizing their boat. The testimony of
Eugene, one of the victims, shows that the appellant actually seized the vessel through force and intimidation. The direct testimony of
Eugene is significant and enlightening —

Q: Now, while you and your younger brother were fishing at the seawaters of Tabogon at that time,
was there anything unusual that happened?

A: Yes.

Q: Will you please tell the Court what that was?

A: While we were fishing at Tabogon another pumpboat arrived and the passengers of that
pumpboat boarded our pumpboat.

Q: Now, that pumpboat which you said approached you, how many were riding in that pumpboat?

A: Four.

Q: When you said the passengers of that pumpboat boarded your pumpboat, how did they do that?

A: They approached somewhat suddenly and came aboard the pumpboat (emphasis supplied).

Q: How many suddenly came aboard your pumpboat?

A: Only one.

Q: What did that person do when he came aboard your pumpboat?

A: When he boarded our pumpboat he aimed his revolver at us (emphasis supplied).

Q: By the way, when he aimed his revolver to you, did he say anything to you?

xxx xxx xxx

A: He said, "dapa," which means lie down (emphasis supplied).

COURT:

Q: To whom did he aim that revolver?

A: He aimed the revolver on me.

TRIAL PROS. ECHAVEZ:

Q: What else did he do?

A: Then he ordered his companion to come aboard the pumpboat.

Q: What did he do with his revolver?

A: He struck my face with the revolver, hitting the lower portion of my left eye.

Q: Now, after you were struck with the revolver, what did these persons do?

A: We were ordered to take them to a certain place.

Q: To what place did he order you to go?

A: To Daan Tabogon. 6

To sustain the defense and convert this case of piracy into one of grave coercion would be to ignore the fact that a fishing vessel
cruising in Philippine waters was seized by the accused by means of violence against or intimidation of persons. As Eugene Pilapil
testified, the accused suddenly approached them and boarded their pumpboat and Catantan aimed his revolver at them as he ordered
complaining witness Eugene Pilapil to "dapa" or lie down with face downwards, and then struck his face with a revolver, hitting the
lower portion of his left eye, after which, Catantan told his victims at gun point to take them to Daan Tabogon.

The incident happened at 3:00 o'clock in the morning. The sudden appearance of another pumpboat with four passengers, all strangers
to them, easily intimidated the Pilapil brothers that they were impelled to submit in complete surrender to the marauders. The moment
Catantan jumped into the other pumpboat he had full control of his victims. The sight of a drawn revolver in his hand drove them to
submission. Hence the issuance of PD No. 532 designed to avert situations like the case at bar and discourage and prevent piracy in
Philippine waters. Thus we cite the succeeding "whereas" clauses of the decree —
Whereas, reports from law-enforcement agencies reveal that lawless elements are still committing acts of
depredations upon the persons and properties of innocent and defenseless inhabitants who travel from one place to
another, thereby disturbing the peace, order and tranquility of the nation and stunting the economic and social
progress of the people;

Whereas, such acts of depredations constitute either piracy or highway robbery/brigandage which are among the
highest forms of lawlessness condemned by the penal statutes of all countries; and,

Whereas, it is imperative that said lawless elements be discouraged from perpetrating such acts of depredations by
imposing heavy penalty on the offenders, with the end in view of eliminating all obstacle to the
economic, social, educational and community progress of the people.

The Pilapil brothers are mere fisherfolk whose only means of livelihood is fishing in sea waters. They brave the natural elements and
contend with the unknown forces of the sea to bring home a bountiful harvest. It is on these small fishermen that the townspeople
depend for the daily bread. To impede their livelihood would be to deprive them of their very subsistence, and the likes of the accused
within the purview of PD No. 532 are the obstacle to the "economic, social, educational and community progress of the people." Had it
not been for the chance passing of another pumpboat, the fate of the Pilapil brothers, left alone helpless in a floundering, meandering
outrigger with a broken prow and a conked-out engine in open sea, could not be ascertained.

While appellant insists that he and Ursal had no intention of depriving the Pilapils permanently of their boat, proof of which they left
behind the brothers with their boat, the truth is, Catantan and Ursal abandoned the Pilapils only because their pumpboat broke down
and it was necessary to transfer to another pumpboat that would take them back to their lair. Unfortunately for the pirates their "new"
pumpboat ran out of gas so they were apprehended by the police soon after the Pilapils reported the matter to the local authorities.

The fact that the revolver used by the appellant to seize the boat was not produced in evidence cannot exculpate him from the crime.
The fact remains, and we state it again, that Catantan and his co-accused Ursal seized through force and intimidation the pumpboat of
the Pilapils while the latter were fishing in Philippine waters.

WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from, the conviction of accused-appellant EMILIANO CATANTAN y
TAYONG for the crime of piracy penalized under PD No. 532 and sentencing him accordingly to reclusion perpetua, is AFFIRMED.
Costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Vitug, Kapunan and Hermosisima Jr., JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 Rollo, p. 1.

2 Decision penned by Judge Renato C. Dacudao, RTC-Br. 14, Cebu, 26 May 1994.

3 To lie down.

4 A 3-bladed knife.

5 Rollo, p. 14.

6 TSN, 13 January 1994, pp. 5-6.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-57292 February 18, 1986

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
JULAIDE SIYOH, OMAR-KAYAM KIRAM, NAMLI INDANAN and ANDAW JAMAHALI, accused-appellants.

ABAD SANTOS, J.:

This is an automatic review of the decision of the defunct Court of First Instance of Basilan, Judge Jainal D. Rasul as ponente, imposing
the death penalty.

In Criminal Case No. 318 of the aforesaid court, JULAIDE SIYOH, OMARKAYAM KIRAM, NAMLI INDANAN and ANDAW JAMAHALI
were accused of qualified piracy with triple murder and frustrated murder said to have been committed according to the information as
follows:

That on or about the 14th day of July, 1979, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, viz., at Mataja Is.,
Municipality of Lantawan, Province of Basilan, Philippines, the above named accused, being strangers and without
lawful authority, armed with firearms and taking advantage of their superior strength, conspiring and confederating
together, aiding and assisting one with the other, with intent to gain and by the use of violence or intimidation against
persons and force upon things, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, fire their guns into the air and
stop the pumpboat wherein Rodolfo de Castro, Danilo Hiolen, Anastacio de Guzman and Antonio de Guzman were
riding, traveling at that time from the island of Baluk-Baluk towards Pilas, boarded the said pumpboat and take, steal
and carry away all their cash money, wrist watches, stereo sets, merchandise and other personal belongings
amounting to the total amount of P 18,342.00, Philippine Currency; that the said accused, on the occasion of the
crime herein above-described, taking advantage that the said victims were at their mercy, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, ordered them to jump into the water, whereupon, the said accused, fired
their guns at them which caused the death of Rodolfo de Castro, Danilo Hiolen, Anastacio de Guzman and wounding
one Antonio de Guzman; thus the accused have performed all the acts of execution which would have produced the
crime of Qualified Piracy with Quadruple Murder, but which, nevertheless, did not produce it by reasons of causes in
dependent of their will, that is, said Antonio de Guzman was able to swim to the shore and hid himself, and due to the
timely medical assistance rendered to said victim, Antonio de Guzman which prevented his death. (Expediente, pp. 1-
2.)

An order of arrest was issued against all of the accused but only Julaide Siyoh and Omar-kayam Kiram were apprehended. (Id, p. 8.)

After trial, the court a quo rendered a decision with the following dispositive portion.

WHEREFORE, in view of the fore going considerations, this Court finds the accused Omar-kayam Kiram and Julaide
Siyoh guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Qualified Piracy with Triple Murder and Frustrated Murder as
defined and penalized under the provision of Presidential Decree No. 532, and hereby sentences each one of them to
suffer the supreme penalty of DEATH. However, considering the provision of Section 106 of the Code of Mindanao
and Sulu, the illiteracy or ignorance or extreme poverty of the accused who are members of the cultural minorities,
under a regime of so called compassionate society, a commutation to life imprisonment is recommended. (Id, p. 130.)

In their appeal, Siyoh and Kiram make only one assignment of error:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS OMAR-KAYAM
KIRAM AND JULAIDE SIYOH HAS BEEN PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. (Brief, p. 8.)

The People's version of the facts is as follows:

Alberto Aurea was a businessman engaged in selling dry goods at the Larmitan Public Market, in the province of
Basilan (pp. 2-3, tsn). On July 7, 1979 and on July 10, 1979, Antonio de Guzman, Danilo Hiolen, Rodolfo de Castro
and Anastacio de Guzman received goods from his store consisting of mosquito nets, blankets, wrist watch sets and
stereophono with total value of P15,000 more or less (pp. 4-6, tsn). The goods were received under an agreement
that they would be sold by the above-named persons and thereafter they would pay the value of said goods to Aurea
and keep part of the profits for themselves. However these people neither paid the value of the goods to Aurea nor
returned the goods to him (pp. 6-7, tsn). On July 15, 1979, Aurea was informed by Antonio de Guzman that his group
was held up near Baluk- Baluk Island and that his companions were hacked (p. 8, tsn). On July 16, 1979, the bodies
of Rodolfo de Castro, Danilo Hiolen and Anastacio de Guzman were brought by the PC seaborne patrol to Isabela,
Basilan (pp. 17-18, 29, tsn). Only Antonio de Guzman survived the incident that caused the death of his companions.

It appears that on July 10, 1979, Antonio de Guzman together with his friends who were also travelling merchants like
him, were on their way to Pilas Island, Province of Basilan, to sell the goods they received from Alberto Aurea. The
goods they brought with them had a total value of P18,000.00 (pp- 36-37, tsn). They left for Pilas Island at 2:00 p.m.
of July 10, 1979 on a pumpboat. They took their dinner and slept that night in the house of Omar-kayam Kiram at
Pilas Island (pp. 37-38, tsn).

The following day, July 11, 1979, de Guzman's group, together with Kiram and Julaide Siyoh, started selling their
goods, They were able to sell goods worth P 3,500.00. On July 12, 1979, the group, again accompanied by Kiram
and Siyoh, went to sell their goods at another place, Sangbay, where they sold goods worth P 12,000.00 (pp. 40-42,
tsn). They returned to Pilas Island at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon and again slept at Kiram's house. However that
night Kiram did not sleep in his house, and upon inquiry the following day when Antonio de Guzman saw him, Kiram
told the former that he slept at the house of Siyoh.

On that day, July 13, 1979, the group of Antonio de Guzman went to Baluk-Baluk, a place suggested by Kiram. They
were able to sell goods worth P3,000.00 (pp. 43-46, tsn). They returned to Pilas Island for the night but Kiram did not
sleep with them (p. 47, tsn).

The following day, July 14, 1979, the group again went to Baluk-Baluk accompanied by Kiram and Siyoh (pp. 48, 50
t.s.n), They used the pumpboat of Kiram. Kiram and Siyoh were at that time armed with 'barongs'. They arrived at
Baluk-Baluk at about 10:00 o'clock in the morning and upon arrival at the place Kiram and Siyoh going ahead of the
group went to a house about 15 meters away from the place where the group was selling its goods (pp. 50-53, tsn).
Kiram and Siyoh were seen by the group talking with two persons whose faces the group saw but could not recognize
(pp. 53-54, tsn). After selling their goods, the members of the group, together with Kiram and Siyoh, prepared to
return to Pilas Island. They rode on a pumpboat where Siyoh positioned himself at the front while Kiram operated the
engine. On the way to Pilas Island, Antonio de Guzman saw another pumpboat painted red and green about 200
meters away from their pumpboat (pp. 55, tsn). Shortly after" Kiram turned off the engine of their pumpboat.
Thereafter two shots were fired from the other pumpboat as it moved towards them (pp. 57-58, tsn). There were two
persons on the other pumpboat who were armed with armantes. De Guzman recognized them to be the same
persons he saw Kiram conversing with in a house at Baluk-Baluk Island. When the boat came close to them, Kiram
threw a rope to the other pumpboat which towed de Guzman's pumpboat towards Mataja Island. On the way to
Mataja Island, Antonio de Guzman and his companions were divested of their money and their goods by Kiram (pp.
59-61, tsn). Thereafter Kiram and his companions ordered the group of de Guzman to undress. Taking fancy on the
pants of Antonio de Guzman, Kiram put it on. With everybody undressed, Kiram said 'It was good to kill all of you'.
After that remark, Siyoh hacked Danilo Hiolen while Kiram hacked Rodolfo de Castro. Antonio de Guzman jumped
into the water. As he was swimming away from the pumpboat, the two companions of Kiram fired at him, injuring his
back (pp. 62-65, tsn). But he was able to reach a mangrove where he stayed till nightfall. When he left the mangrove,
he saw the dead bodies of Anastacio de Guzman, Danilo Hiolen and Rodolfo de Castro. He was picked up by a
fishing boat and brought to the Philippine Army station at Maluso where he received first aid treatment. Later he was
brought to the J.S. Alano Memorial Hospital at Isabela, Basilan province (pp. 66-68, tsn).

On July 15, 1979, while waiting for the dead bodies of his companions at the wharf, de Guzman saw Siyoh and
Kiram. He pointed them out to the PC and the two were arrested before they could run. When arrested, Kiram was
wearing the pants he took from de Guzman and de Guzman had to ask Pat. Bayabas at the Provincial Jail to get
back his pants from Kiram (pp. 69-72, tsn).

Antonio de Guzman was physically examined at the J.S. Alano Memorial Hospital at Isabela, Basilan and findings
showed: 'gunshot wound, scapular area, bilateral, tangenital' (Exh. C, prosecution). (pp. 134-136, tsn). Dr. Jaime M.
Junio, Provincial Health Officer of Basilan, examined the dead bodies of Rodolfo de Castro and Danilo Hiolen and
issued the corresponding death certificates (Exhs. D and E, prosecution). (pp. 137-138; 140-141, tsn). (Brief, pp. 5-
11.)

As can be seen from the lone assignment of error, the issue is the credibility of witnesses. Who should be believed Antonio de Guzman
who was the lone prosecution eye-witness or Siyoh and Kiram the accused-appellants who claims that they were also the victims of the
crime? The trial court which had the opportunity of observing the demeanor of the witnesses and how they testified assigned credibility
to the former and an examination of the record does not reveal any fact or circumstance of weight and influence which was overlooked
or the significance of which was misinterpreted as would justify a reversal of the trial court's determination. Additionally, the following
claims of the appellants are not convincing:

1. That if they were the culprits they could have easily robbed their victims at the Kiram house or on any of the occasions when they
were travelling together. Suffice it to say that robbing the victims at Kiram's house would make Kiram and his family immediately
suspect and robbing the victims before they had sold all their goods would be premature. However, robbing and killing the victims while
at sea and after they had sold all their goods was both timely and provided safety from prying eyes.

2. That the accused immediately reported the incident to the PC. The record does not support this assertion. For as the prosecution
stated: "It is of important consequence to mention that the witness presented by the defense are all from Pilas Island and friends of the
accused. They claimed to be members of retrieving team for the dead bodies but no PC soldiers were ever presented to attest this fact.
The defense may counter why the prosecution also failed to present the Maluso Police Daily Event book? This matter has been brought
by Antonio not to the attention of the PC or Police but to an army detachment. The Army is known to have no docket book, so why take
the pain in locating the army soldiers with whom the report was made? (Memorandum, p. 7.) And Judge Rasul also makes this
observation: "..., this Court is puzzled, assuming the version of the defense to be true, why the lone survivor Antonio de Guzman as
having been allegedly helped by the accused testified against them. Indeed, no evidence was presented and nothing can be inferred
from the evidence of the defense so far presented showing reason why the lone survivor should pervert the truth or fabricate or
manufacture such heinous crime as qualified piracy with triple murders and frustrated murder? The point which makes us doubt the
version of the defense is the role taken by the PC to whom the report was allegedly made by the accused immediately after the
commission of the offense. Instead of helping the accused, the PC law enforcement agency in Isabela, perhaps not crediting the report
of the accused or believing in the version of the report made by the lone survivor Antonio de Guzman, acted consistently with the
latter's report and placed the accused under detention for investigation." (Expediente, pp. 127-128.)

3. That the affidavits of Dolores de Guzman, wife of the deceased Anastacio de Guzman, and Primitiva de Castro, wife of the deceased
Rodolfo de Castro, state that Antonio de Guzman informed them shortly after the incident that their husbands were killed by the
companions of Siyoh and Kiram. The thrust of the appellants' claim, therefore, is that Namli Indanan and Andaw Jamahali were the
killers and not the former. But this claim is baseless in the face of the proven conspiracy among the accused for as Judge Rasul has
stated:

It is believed that conspiracy as alleged in the information is sufficiently proved in this case. In fact the following facts
appear to have been established to show clearly conspiracy: A) On July 14, 1979, while peddling, the survivor-
witness Tony de Guzman noticed that near the window of a dilapidated house, both accused were talking to two (2)
armed strange-looking men at Baluk-Baluk Island; B) When the pumpboat was chased and overtaken, the survivor-
witness Tony de Guzman recognized their captors to be the same two (2) armed strangers to whom the two accused
talked in Baluk- Baluk Island near the dilapidated house; C) The two accused, without order from the two armed
strangers transferred the unsold goods to the captors' banca; D) That Tony de Guzman and companion peddlers
were divested of their jewelries and cash and undressed while the two accused remained unharmed or not molested.
These concerted actions on their part prove conspiracy and make them equally liable for the same crime (People vs.
Pedro, 16 SCRA 57; People vs. lndic 10 SCRA 130). The convergence of the will of the conspirators in the scheming
and execution of the crime amply justifies the imputation of all of them the act of any of them (People vs. Peralta, 25
SCRA, 759). (Id., pp. 128-129.)

4. That there is no evidence Anastacio de Guzman was killed together with Rodolfo de Castro and Danilo Hiolen because his remains
were never recovered. There is no reason to suppose that Anastacio de Guzman is still alive or that he died in a manner different from
his companions. The incident took place on July 14, 1979 and when the trial court decided the case on June 8, 1981 Anastacio de
Guzman was still missing. But the number of persons killed on the occasion of piracy is not material. P.D. No. 532 considers qualified
piracy, i.e. rape, murder or homicide is committed as a result or on the occasion of piracy, as a special complex crime punishable by
death regardless of the number of victims.

5. That the death certificates are vague as to the nature of the injuries sustained by the victims; were they hacked wounds or gunshot
wounds? The cause of death stated for Rodolfo de Castro and Danilo Hiolen is: "Hemorrhage due to hacked wounds, possible gunshot
wounds." (Exhs. D and E.) The cause is consistent with the testimony of Antonio de Guzman that the victims were hacked; that the
appellants were armed with "barongs" while Indanan and Jamahali were armed with armalites.

WHEREFORE, finding the decision under review to be in accord with both the facts and the law, it is affirmed with the following
modifications: (a) for lack of necessary votes the penalty imposed shall be reclusion perpetua; and (b) each of the appellants shall pay
in solidum to the heirs of each of the deceased indemnity in the amount of P30,000.00. No special pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
Concepcion, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin Gutierrez, Jr., Dela Fuente, Alampay and Patajo, JJ., concur.

Aquino, C.J., took no part.

Teehankee, J., for affirmance of death sentence.

Separate Opinions

CUEVAS, J., dissenting:

considering the gravamen of the offense charged the manner by which it was committed, I vote to affirm the death penalty imposed by
the trial court.

Separate Opinions

CUEVAS, J., dissenting:

considering the gravamen of the offense charged the manner by which it was committed, I vote to affirm the death penalty imposed by
the trial court.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. Nos. 153524-25 January 31, 2005

RODOLFO SORIA and EDIMAR BISTA, petitioners,


vs.
HON. ANIANO DESIERTO in his capacity as Head of the Office of the Ombudsman, HON. ORLANDO C. CASIMIRO in his
capacity as Deputy Ombudsman for Military, P/INS. JEFFREY T. GOROSPE, SPO2 ROLANDO G. REGACHO, SPO1 ALFREDO
B. ALVIAR, JR., PO3 JAIME D. LAZARO, PO2 FLORANTE B. CARDENAS, PO1 JOSEPH A. BENAZA, SPO1 FRANKLIN D.
CABAYA and SPO4 PEDRO PAREL, respondents.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

Yet again, we are tasked to substitute our judgment for that of the Office of the Ombudsman in its finding of lack of probable cause
made during preliminary investigation. And, yet again, we reaffirm the time-honored practice of non-interference in the conduct of
preliminary investigations by our prosecutory bodies absent a showing of grave abuse of discretion on their part.

Petitioners, thru a special civil action for certiorari,1 contend precisely that the public respondents herein – officers of the Office of the
Ombudsman – gravely abused their discretion in dismissing the complaint for violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code (Delay
in the delivery of detained persons) against private respondents herein, members of the Philippine National Police stationed at the
Municipality of Santa, Ilocos Sur.

From the respective pleadings2 of the parties, the following facts appear to be indubitable:

1. On or about 8:30 in the evening of 13 May 2001 (a Sunday and the day before the 14 May 2001 Elections 3 ), petitioners
were arrested without a warrant by respondents police officers for alleged illegal possession of firearms and ammunition;

2. Petitioner Soria was arrested for alleged illegal possession of .38 cal. revolver (a crime which carries with it the penalty
of prision correccional in its maximum period) and for violation of Article 261 par. (f) of the Omnibus Election Code in relation
to the Commission on Election Resolution No. 3328 (which carries the penalty of imprisonment of not less than one [1] year
but not more than six [6] years);

3. Petitioner Bista was arrested for alleged illegal possession of sub-machine pistol UZI, cal. 9mm and a .22 cal. revolver with
ammunition;

4. Immediately after their arrest, petitioners were detained at the Santa, Ilocos Sur, Police Station. It was at the Santa Police
Station that petitioner Bista was identified by one of the police officers to have a standing warrant of arrest for violation of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 6 issued by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, docketed as Criminal Case No. 12272;
5. The next day, at about 4:30 p.m. of 14 May 2001 (Monday and election day), petitioners were brought to the residence of
Provincial Prosecutor Jessica Viloria in San Juan, Ilocos Sur, before whom a "Joint-Affidavit" against them was subscribed and
sworn to by the arresting officers. From there, the arresting officers brought the petitioners to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office
in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, and there at about 6:00 p.m. the "Joint-Affidavit" was filed and docketed;

6. At about 6:30 in the evening of the same day, 14 May 2001, petitioner Soria was released upon the order of
Prosecutor Viloria to undergo the requisite preliminary investigation, while petitioner Bista was brought back and continued to
be detained at the Santa Police Station. From the time of petitioner Soria’s detention up to the time of his release, twenty-two
(22) hours had already elapsed;

7. On 15 May 2001, at around 2:00 in the afternoon, petitioner Bista was brought before the MTC of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, where
the case for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 6 was pending. Petitioner Bista posted bail and an Order of Temporary Release
was issued thereafter;

8. At this point in time, no order of release was issued in connection with petitioner Bista’s arrest for alleged illegal possession
of firearms. At 4:30 in the afternoon of the same day (15 May 2001), an information for Illegal Possession of Firearms and
Ammunition, docketed as Criminal Case No. 4413-S, was filed against petitioner Bista with the 4th Municipal Circuit Trial Court
of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. At 5:00 in the afternoon, informations for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition and violation
of Article 261 par. (f) of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to COMELEC Resolution No. 3328, docketed as Criminal Cases
No. 2269-N and No. 2268-N, respectively, were filed in the Regional Trial Court at Narvacan, Ilocos Sur;

9. On 08 June 2001, petitioner Bista was released upon filing of bail bonds in Criminal Cases No. 2268-N and No. 4413-S. He
was detained for 26 days.

10. On 15 August 2001, petitioners filed with the Office of the Ombudsman for Military Affairs a complaint-affidavit for violation
of Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code against herein private respondents.

11. After considering the parties’ respective submissions, the Office of the Ombudsman rendered the first assailed Joint
Resolution dated 31 January 2002 dismissing the complaint for violation of Art. 125 of the Revised Penal Code for lack of
merit; and

12. On 04 March 2002, petitioners then filed their motion for reconsideration which was denied for lack of merit in the second
assailed Resolution dated 25 March 2002.

Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code states:

Art. 125. Delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities. - The penalties provided in the next preceding
article shall be imposed upon the public officer or employee who shall detain any person for some legal ground and shall fail to deliver
such person to the proper judicial authorities within the period of: twelve (12) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by light penalties,
or their equivalent; eighteen (18) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by correctional penalties, or their equivalent; and thirty-six
(36) hours, for crimes or offenses punishable by afflictive or capital penalties, or their equivalent.

In every case, the person detained shall be informed of the cause of his detention and shall be allowed, upon his request, to
communicate and confer at any time with his attorney or counsel.

It is not under dispute that the alleged crimes for which petitioner Soria was arrested without warrant are punishable by correctional
penalties or their equivalent, thus, criminal complaints or information should be filed with the proper judicial authorities within 18 hours
of his arrest. Neither is it in dispute that the alleged crimes for which petitioner Bista was arrested are punishable by afflictive or capital
penalties, or their equivalent, thus, he could only be detained for 36 hours without criminal complaints or information having been filed
with the proper judicial authorities.

The sole bone of contention revolves around the proper application of the 12-18-36 periods. With respect specifically to the detention of
petitioner Soria which lasted for 22 hours, it is alleged that public respondents gravely erred in construing Article 125 4 as excluding
Sundays, holidays and election days in the computation of the periods prescribed within which public officers should deliver arrested
persons to the proper judicial authorities as the law never makes such exception. Statutory construction has it that if a statute is clear
and unequivocal, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without any attempts at interpretation.5 Public respondents, on the
other hand, relied on the cases of Medina v. Orozco, Jr.,6 and Sayo v. Chief of Police of Manila7 and on commentaries8 of jurists to
bolster their position that Sundays, holidays and election days are excluded in the computation of the periods provided in Article
125,9 hence, the arresting officers delivered petitioners well within the allowable time.

In addition to the foregoing arguments and with respect specifically to petitioner Bista, petitioners maintain that the filing of the
information in court against petitioner Bista did not justify his continuous detention. The information was filed at 4:30 p.m. of 15 May
2001 but the orders for his release were issued by the Regional Trial Court and Municipal Trial Court of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, only
on 08 June 2001. They argued that based on law and jurisprudence, if no charge is filed by the prosecutor within the period fixed by
law, the arresting officer must release the detainee lest he be charged with violation of Article 125.10 Public respondents countered that
the duty of the arresting officers ended upon the filing of the informations with the proper judicial authorities following the rulings
in Agbay v. Deputy Ombudsman for the Military ,11 and People v. Acosta.12

From a study of the opposing views advanced by the parties, it is evident that public respondents did not abuse their discretion in
dismissing for lack of probable cause the complaint against private respondents.

Grave abuse of discretion is such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment on the part of the public officer concerned which is
equivalent to an excess or lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a
1awphi 1.nét

positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law as where the power is
exercised in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or hostility. 13
No grave abuse of discretion, as defined, can be attributed to herein public respondents. Their disposition of petitioners’ complaint for
violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code cannot be said to have been conjured out of thin air as it was properly backed up by
law and jurisprudence. Public respondents ratiocinated thus:

As aptly pointed out by the respondents insofar as the complaint of Rodolfo Soria is concerned, based on applicable laws and
jurisprudence, an election day or a special holiday, should not be included in the computation of the period prescribed by law for the
filing of complaint/information in courts in cases of warrantless arrests, it being a "no-office day." (Medina vs. Orosco, 125 Phil. 313.) In
the instant case, while it appears that the complaints against Soria for Illegal Possession of Firearm and Violation of COMELEC
Resolution No. 3328 were filed with the Regional Trial Court and Municipal Trial Court of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, only on May 15, 200[1]
at 4:30 p.m., he had already been released the day before or on May 14, 2001 at about 6:30 p.m. by the respondents, as directed by
Prov. Prosecutor Jessica [Viloria]. Hence, there could be no arbitrary detention or violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code to
speak of.14

Indeed, we did hold in Medina v. Orozco, Jr.,15 that —

. . . The arresting officer’s duty under the law was either to deliver him to the proper judicial authorities within 18 hours, or thereafter
release him. The fact however is that he was not released. From the time of petitioner’s arrest at 12:00 o’clock p.m. on November 7 to
3:40 p.m. on November 10 when the information against him for murder actually was in court, over 75 hours have elapsed.

But, stock should be taken of the fact that November 7 was a Sunday; November 8 was declared an official holiday; and November 9
(election day) was also an official holiday. In these three no-office days, it was not an easy matter for a fiscal to look for his clerk and
stenographer, draft the information and search for the Judge to have him act thereon, and get the clerk of court to open the courthouse,
docket the case and have the order of commitment prepared. And then, where to locate and the uncertainty of locating those officers
and employees could very well compound the fiscal’s difficulties. These are considerations sufficient enough to deter us from declaring
that Arthur Medina was arbitrarily detained. For, he was brought to court on the very first office day following arrest.

And, in Sayo v. Chief of Police of Manila16 --

. . . Of course, for the purpose of determining the criminal liability of an officer detaining a person for more than six hours prescribed by
the Revised Penal Code, the means of communication as well as the hour of arrest and other circumstances, such as the time of
surrender and the material possibility for the fiscal to make the investigation and file in time the necessary information, must be taken
into consideration.

As to the issue concerning the duty of the arresting officer after the information has already been filed in Court, public respondents
acted well within their discretion in ruling thus:

In the same vein, the complaint of Edimar Bista against the respondents for Violation of Article 125, will not prosper because the
running of the thirty-six (36)-hour period prescribed by law for the filing of the complaint against him from the time of his arrest was
tolled by one day (election day). Moreover, he has a standing warrant of arrest for Violation of B.P. Blg. 6 and it was only on May 15,
2001, at about 2:00 p.m. that he was able to post bail and secure an Order of Release. Obviously, however, he could only be released
if he has no other pending criminal case requiring his continuous detention.

The criminal Informations against Bista for Violations of Article 125, RPC and COMELEC Resolution No. 3328 were filed with the
Regional Trial Court and Municipal Trial Court of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, on May 15, 2001 (Annexes "G" and "I", Complaint-Affidavit of
Edimar Bista) but he was released from detention only on June 8, 2001, on orders of the RTC and MTC of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur
(Annexes "J" and "K", Complaint-Affidavit). Was there a delay in the delivery of detained person to the proper judicial authorities under
the circumstances? The answer is in the negative. The complaints against him was (sic) seasonably filed in the court of justice within
the thirty-six (36)-hour period prescribed by law as discussed above. The duty of the detaining officers is deemed complied with upon
the filing of the complaints. Further action, like issuance of a Release Order, then rests upon the judicial authority (People v. Acosta
[CA] 54 O.G. 4739).17

The above disposition is in keeping with Agbay v. Deputy Ombudsman for the Military,18 wherein we ordained that –

. . . Furthermore, upon the filing of the complaint with the Municipal Trial Court, the intent behind Art. 125 is satisfied considering that by
such act, the detained person is informed of the crime imputed against him and, upon his application with the court, he may be released
on bail. Petitioner himself acknowledged this power of the MCTC to order his release when he applied for and was granted his release
upon posting bail. Thus, the very purpose underlying Article 125 has been duly served with the filing of the complaint with the MCTC.
We agree with the position of the Ombudsman that such filing of the complaint with the MCTC interrupted the period prescribed in said
Article.

All things considered, there being no grave abuse of discretion, we have no choice but to defer to the Office of the Ombudsman’s
determination that the facts on hand do not make out a case for violation of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. l^vvphi1.net

As we have underscored in numerous decisions --

We have consistently refrained from interfering with the investigatory and prosecutorial powers of the Ombudsman absent any
compelling reason. This policy is based on constitutional, statutory and practical considerations. We are mindful that the Constitution
and RA 6770 endowed the Office of the Ombudsman with a wide latitude of investigatory and prosecutorial powers, virtually free from
legislative, executive or judicial intervention, in order to insulate it from outside pressure and improper influence. Moreover, a
preliminary investigation is in effect a realistic judicial appraisal of the merits of the case. Sufficient proof of the guilt of the accused must
be adduced so that when the case is tried, the trial court may not be bound, as a matter of law, to order an acquittal. Hence, if the
Ombudsman, using professional judgment, finds the case dismissible, the Court shall respect such findings, unless clothed
with grave abuse of discretion. Otherwise, the functions of the courts will be grievously hampered by innumerable petitions assailing
the dismissal of investigatory proceedings conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed before it. In much
the same way, the courts will be swamped with cases if they will have to review the exercise of discretion on the part of fiscals or
prosecuting attorneys each time the latter decide to file an information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private
complainant.19 (Emphasis supplied)
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition dated 27 May 2002 is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Joint Resolution
dated 31 January 2002 and the Order dated 25 March 2002 of the Office of the Ombudsman are hereby AFFIRMED. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 Rollo, pp. 3-22.

2Petitioners’ "PETITION FOR CERTIORARI (UNDER RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF COURT)" dated 27 May 2002, Rollo, pp.
3-22; Public Respondents’ "COMMENT" dated 09 October 2002, Rollo, pp. 105-128; Petitioners’ reply (To: Respondents’
Comment dated 09 October 2002), Rollo, pp. 130-137; Petitioners’ "MEMORANDUM" dated 25 March 2003, Rollo, pp. 140-
164; Public Respondents’ "MEMORANDUM" dated 01 April 2003, Rollo, pp. 168-189.

3 Erroneously designated by the public respondents as "Presidential Elections."

4 Revised Penal Code.

5 Rollo, p. 131.

6 No. L-26723, 22 December 1966, 18 SCRA 1168, 1170.

7 No. L-2128, 12 May 1948, 80 Phil. 859.

8 (1) Aquino, The Revised Penal Code, 1997 ed., p. 74.

(2) Boado, Notes and Cases on the Revised Penal Code, 2001 ed., p. 318 (Rollo, pp. 117 &179).

9 Revised Penal Code.

10 Id.

11
G.R. No. 134503, 02 July 1999, 309 SCRA 726 (Rollo, pp. 123-124).

12 C.A. 54 Official Gazette 4739 (Rollo, pp. 122-123).

Duero v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 131282 , 04 January 2002, 373 SCRA 11, 17; Perez v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R.
13

No. 131445 , 27 May 2004.

14 Rollo, pp. 25-26

15 Supra, note 5.

16
Supra, note 6 at 870.

17 Rollo, p. 26.

18 Supra, note 10 at 739-740.

Perez v. Office of the Ombudsman, supra, note 12, citing Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Desierto, G.R.
19

No. 140232 , 19 January 2001, 349 SCRA 767; and Presidential Ad Hoc Fact-Finding Committee on Behest Loans v.
Desierto, G.R. No. 136192 , 14 August 2001, 362 SCRA 730.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

A.M. No. 03-1462-MTJ April 19, 2007

JUDGE DOLORES L. ESPAÑOL, Regional Trial Court, Branch 90, Dasmariñas, Cavite, Complainant,
vs.
JUDGE LORINDA B. TOLEDO-MUPAS, Municipal Trial Court, Dasmariñas, Cavite, Respondent.

DECISION
PER CURIAM:

Bizarre. The word would aptly describe this tale of the accuser turning out to be the culprit.

This case started with Judge Lorinda B. Toledo-Mupas (Judge Mupas) of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Dasmariñas, Cavite, filing
an administrative complaint (Administrative Matter No. OCA IPI No. 02-1515-RTJ) against Judge Dolores L. Español (Judge Español)
of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 90, Dasmariñas, Cavite, for Gross Ignorance of the Law, Grave Abuse of Authority,
Misconduct, and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. She imputed these offenses against Judge Español for
allegedly illegally usurping the functions of the Executive Judge of Dasmariñas, Cavite, and for ordering her (Mupas) on April 18, 2002,
in connection with Criminal Case No. 9292-01 (People v. Belinda Ventura Singello), "to desist from accepting, for ‘preliminary
investigation,' criminal cases falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, where suspects are apprehended
pursuant to Sec. 7, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure."

Judge Español filed her Comment dated September 16, 2002 1 stating that since she was appointed to the single sala RTC of
Dasmariñas, Cavite, under Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 6 of 1975, she ipso facto became the Executive Judge exercising
supervision over the MTC of Dasmariñas, Cavite. She further stated that her Order dated April 18, 2002, directing the respondent to
desist from conducting preliminary investigation, did not deprive the latter of the authority to conduct preliminary investigation but
merely stopped her from conducting the same for being

violative of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act No. 7438.

In the same Comment, Judge Español said that Judge Mupas operated the MTC of Dasmariñas, Cavite as a "One-Stop Shop" where
criminal suspects apprehended without a warrant are ordered detained in the municipal jail by virtue of an unsigned "Detention Pending
Investigation of the Case," in lieu of a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as prescribed by R.A. No. 7438
and by Section 7, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Thus, according to Judge Español, the apprehended persons
were detained for a long time until Judge Mupas set the case for preliminary investigation. If the detainee can post bail, Judge Mupas
would fix the amount of bail and require that the premium, usually equivalent to 20% or 30% thereof, be paid in cash. If the surety bond
was secured outside of the MTC, the bond would be rejected. Hence, the applicants for bail bonds would go to the RTC of Dasmariñas,
Cavite to complain and apply for the release of the detention prisoners.

This Court, acting on the Report dated July 4, 2003 of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), issued on August 6, 2003 a
Resolution,2 the dispositive portion of which reads:

"(T)he Court Resolved to ADOPT the following recommendations:

(a) to DISMISS the charges against Judge Dolores L. Español for lack of merit;

(b) to TREAT the comment dated September 16, 2002 of Judge Español as a SEPARATE ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT
against Judge Lorinda Mupas of MTC, Dasmariñas, Cavite; and

(c) to REQUIRE Judge Toledo-Mupas to COMMENT on the allegations against her, contained in Judge Español’s comment."

Thus, a complaint against the respondent Judge Mupas was deemed filed, and docketed as OCA IPI No. 03-1462-MTJ.

On September 8, 2003, Judge Mupas filed a motion seeking reconsideration of this Court’s Resolution. On October 1, 2003, this Court
required the OCA to file its comment thereon within 15 days from notice. The OCA wrote a Memorandum dated April 15, 2004 3 to then
Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. recommending the denial of the respondent’s motion being a mere reiteration of her arguments
already passed upon by the Court. This Court adopted the said recommendation of the OCA in its Resolution dated May 31, 2004. 4

Accordingly, Judge Mupas faced the following charges: (1) violation of Rule 112, Section 7 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, and Republic Act No. 7438; and (2) violation of the rules on preliminary investigation (a) for the
delay in the resolution of preliminary investigation cases pending in [Judge Mupas’] court; (b) for failure to perform her ministerial duty
of transmitting the records of the case, including the resolution on the preliminary investigation, within 10 days from the issuance of the
said resolution to the provincial prosecutor of Cavite; and (c) for conducting preliminary investigation despite the fact that there were
many prosecutors in Cavite not indisposed to do the job.

On September 19, 2005, Judge Mupas filed her Reply5 (should be Comment) to Judge Español’s Comment which was treated as a
separate administrative complaint. She claimed that the August 6, 2003 Resolution of this Court failed to consider relevant laws, rules,
and pronouncements of the Court itself. She further said that under Rule 112, Section 2 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
she is expressly authorized to conduct preliminary investigation. She questioned the authority of Judge Español in ordering her to desist
from conducting preliminary investigations in the guise of "supervising" or "reviewing" her actions, as the said authority was lodged in
the provincial prosecutors. She pointed out that, in the case of "People vs. Belinda Ventura Singello" (Criminal Case No. 9292-01),
subject of Judge Español’s Order dated April 18, 2002, the provincial prosecutor affirmed her (Mupas’) finding of probable cause
against the accused without any question on the manner in which the preliminary investigation was conducted.

She likewise claimed that, pursuant to Administrative Order No. 59-99 dated 1 June 1999, while in single-sala stations the presiding
judges are ex officio executive judges, for purposes of supervision in the interest of the service, their salas may be merged with multi-
sala stations. Therefore, the RTC of Dasmariñas, Cavite had long been merged with the multi-sala station of the RTC of Imus, Cavite.
In support of this claim, Judge Mupas noted that then Executive Judge Lucenito N. Tagle of the RTC of Imus, Cavite issued a
Memorandum to all judges within his supervision, including both Judge Español and Judge Mupas, to submit periodic reports on
detention prisoners.

She further argued that none of the detention prisoners had filed an administrative complaint against her. She said that it was her duty
to conduct preliminary investigation of complaints filed with her sala. In addition, Judge Mupas posited that Judge Español could not
entertain applications for bail in the RTC because the cases were pending before the MTC.
On January 30, 2006, the Court noted this Reply (should be Comment), and referred the same to the OCA for evaluation, report, and
recommendation.

In the Memorandum dated July 26, 20066 addressed to then Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, the OCA found that the Reply of
Judge Mupas was merely a rehash of the arguments she raised in her Motion for Reconsideration; it did not refute the specific
allegations of Judge Español. The OCA said that the explanation given by the respondent was unsatisfactory and insufficient to absolve
her from administrative liability. However, the OCA recommended that this case be referred to an Associate Justice of the Court of
Appeals for investigation, report, and recommendation. Eventually, this case was referred to Court of Appeals Associate Justice Myrna
Dimaranan-Vidal.

During the proceedings before Justice Vidal, Judge Español filed her Rejoinder [Re: Reply dated September 19, 2005] dated December
8, 20067 reiterating that: (1) her Order dated April 18, 2002 was lawful and within her authority to issue as the OCA declared that she
was merely performing her function as Executive Judge of Dasmariñas, Cavite; (2) Judge Mupas violated the rights of the accused
whose preliminary investigation is pending in her court, they being detained by virtue only of a "Detention Pending Investigation of the
Case" in place of a valid waiver signed in the presence of counsel for considerable lengths of time; (3) there was no basis for Judge
Mupas’ counter-charge that she could not grant bail while preliminary investigation was pending before the Mupas court, considering
the latter's absence upon the prisoners' applications for bail; and (4) Judge Mupas failed to adequately explain her failure to forward the
records and the resolution of the preliminary investigation of accused Belinda Singello in Criminal Case No. 9292-01.

Judge Mupas filed her Comment (Re: Rejoinder Dated December 8, 2006) dated December 21, 2006 8 and averred that: (1) acts made
in her judicial capacity and in good faith could not be subject to disciplinary action; (2) as judge, she enjoys the presumption of
regularity in the performance of her duties; (3) the preliminary investigation she conducted was within the scope of her authority; and (4)
the reason behind the seeming delay in the conduct of preliminary investigation was the heavy congestion of the dockets of the MTC of
Dasmariñas, Cavite.

Preliminary conferences were conducted by Justice Vidal on January 2, 2007 and January 9, 2007.9 However, both parties opted not to
present any testimonial evidence. In fact, Judge Español filed on January 5, 2007 an Urgent Manifestation and Motion to
Resolve,10 praying that, inasmuch as the proceedings were summary in nature, the case be decided based on the available records and
pleadings submitted.

On the same day, Judge Español filed her Reply [Re: Comment dated December 21, 2006], 11 arguing that: (1) Judge Mupas is guilty of
gross ignorance of the law even if she acted in good faith; and (2) the presumption of regularity in the performance of her judicial
function could not cure the incompetence of the respondent.

Both the complainant12 and the respondent13 filed their respective memoranda encompassing all the arguments they raised in their
respective pleadings. Judge Español also filed a Counter Memorandum (Re: Memorandum of the Respondent dated January 18, 2007)
dated January 29, 2007.14

In an undated Resolution filed with the OCA on February 9, 2007, Justice Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal found, contrary to Judge Mupas’
claim, that the document entitled "Detention Pending Investigation of Cases" cannot validly be deemed to be an implied waiver of the
rights of the accused under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. Justice Vidal submits the following findings:

"Extant from the records, is Respondent’s admission of her practice in the issuance of the document entitled ‘Detention Pending
Investigation of Cases’ claiming, however, that such document served as an implied waiver of the rights of the accused under Article
125 of the Revised Penal Code.

"The undersigned disagrees.

"Sec. 2 e) of RA 7438 is in point, thus:

xxx Any waiver by a person arrested or detained under the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, or under custodial
investigation, shall be in writing and signed by such person in the presence of his counsel; otherwise the waiver shall be null and void
and of no effect. (Underscoring supplied)

"The afore cited law is clear and simple. Thus, construction is unnecessary. Clearly, what the said provision requires to protect the
rights of the accused is a written waiver signed by the accused with the assistance of a counsel. However, the procedure adopted by
the Respondent runs counter thereto. She resorted to the issuance of a commitment order dubbed as ‘Detention Pending Investigation
of the Case’ to legally prolong the detention of the accused pending the resolution of the preliminary investigation. Obviously, this is not
within the contemplation of the law. Thus, the practice is highly erroneous – a blatant manifestation of ignorance in the legal procedure.

"The New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary15 provides:

Canon 6 – Competence and Diligence

xxx

Sec. 3. Judges shall take reasonable steps to maintain and enhance their knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the
proper performance of judicial duties, taking advantage for this purpose of the training and other facilities which should be made
available, under judicial control, to judges.

xxx

"Otherwise put, Respondent is presumed to know the basic measures to protect the rights of the accused during preliminary
investigation. Sadly, Respondent failed in this regard. Instead, she maintained the practice of issuing this highly improper order, i.e.,
‘Detention Pending Investigation of the Case’, just to put a semblance of legality in the detention of the accused." 16
With respect to the other charges, Justice Vidal found the evidence insufficient to support the accusations that Judge Mupas: (1)
detained the accused for a long period of time while the preliminary investigation was pending in her court; (2) failed to transmit to the
Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite the records of the case within 10 days after preliminary investigation; and (3) acted without authority to
conduct preliminary investigation because there were enough prosecutors in Cavite to conduct the same. 1a\^/phi 1.net

Justice Vidal then concludes:

"However, the undersigned finds that Respondent should still be held administratively liable. Respondent’s act of issuing orders dubbed
as ‘Detention Pending Investigation of Cases’ instead of requiring the accused to execute a written waiver, with the assistance of
counsel, pursuant to Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, fall [sic] short of the measure of responsibility expected from a judge.

"Respondent should be reminded that the actions of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice, from
the presiding judge to the clerk of lowest rank, should be circumscribed with a high degree of responsibility. The image of a court, as a
true temple of justice, is mirrored in the conduct, official or otherwise, of the men and women who work thereat. Judicial personnel are
expected to be living examples of uprightness in the performance of official duties [and] preserve at all times the good name and
standing of the courts in the community."17

Thus, the dispositive portion of her Resolution reads:

"WHEREFORE, premises considered, and it appearing that this is the first time the Respondent has committed the infraction, supra, the
undersigned respectfully recommends that she be REPRIMANDED for her practice of issuing the "Detention Pending Investigation of
the Case" orders with STERN WARNING that a repetition thereof or any similar act will be dealt with more severely".

We agree with the findings of Justice Vidal, but We find the recommended penalty too light, grossly disproportionate to the offense
committed, especially when viewed in the light of Judge Mupas’ record of incorrigible misconduct.

There is no gainsaying that Judge Mupas’ practice of issuing "Detention Pending Investigation of the Case" orders in lieu of a written
waiver signed by the accused with the assistance of counsel is, in the words of Justice Vidal, "a blatant manifestation of ignorance in
the legal procedure." It is gross ignorance of the law, pure and simple.

Under Rule 140, Section 8, of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10 SC, gross ignorance of the law or procedure is
classified as a serious charge, and Section 11 thereof provides the sanctions, as follows:

SEC. 11. Sanctions. – A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge, any of the following sanctions may be imposed:

1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from
reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations: Provided, however,
that the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include accrued leave credits;

2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or

3. A fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.

While Justice Vidal considered the respondent's practice of issuing "Detention Pending Investigation of the Case" orders as a first-time
infraction, We note that this case is not the first time the respondent was charged and found guilty of gross ignorance of the law.

In Español v. Mupas,18 the respondent judge was fined the amount of P21,000.00 for violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct and for
gross ignorance of the law when she ordered the arrest of the accused in six criminal cases before the expiration of the 10-day period
she gave them to file their counter-affidavits, and without any finding of probable cause.

In Loss of Court Exhibits at MTC-Dasmariñas, Cavite,19 aside from being found guilty of grave misconduct for refusing to turn over to
the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for ballistics examination a firearm that a court employee surreptitiously took from the court's
steel cabinet and used to commit suicide, Judge Mupas was held administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law for her failure to
submit to the provincial prosecutor her resolution and the records of the case within 10 days after preliminary investigation. The Court
imposed on the respondent the penalty of suspension for three (3) months without pay, with a stern warning that a similar infraction will
be dealt with more severely.

In Bitoon, et al. v. Toledo-Mupas,20 the respondent was also found administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law for changing the
designation of the crime from a non-bailable offense to a bailable one, i.e., syndicated estafa to simple estafa, and granted bail without
hearing on the ground that the accused is entitled to it as a matter of right. The Court found her to have exceeded her authority in the
conduct of preliminary investigation and to have failed to observe the elementary rules on bail. She was meted the penalties of a fine in
the amount of P40,000.00, suspension for three (3) months without salaries and benefits, and a stern warning that a same or similar
offense will be dealt with more severely.

Upon motion for reconsideration, however, the penalty of fine of P40,000.00 was deleted on the ground that the acts of the respondent
in the Español v. Mupas and the Loss of Court Exhibits cases were done after the acts complained of in Bitoon. While the Court
maintained that the respondent's acts in Bitoon remain inexcusable, the respondent was not found to be an incorrigible third-time
offender deserving the penalty originally imposed. The Court also noted that the respondent was not motivated by malice, bad faith or
corrupt motives and that there was an absence of any serious damage to the complainants. However, the stern warning of the Court
should have been ample reminder that the penalty of dismissal would be imposed should the respondent commit the same or a similar
infraction.21

In the present case, while the documents denominated "Detention Pending Investigation of the Case" were issued during the same
period of time that the three (3) above-cited cases were decided, it is noteworthy that Judge Mupas continued with the practice even
after her attention had been called. Worse, she remained insistent that the document was an implied waiver of the rights of the accused
under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.22 Judge Mupas must be reminded that although judges have in their favor the
presumption of regularity and good faith in the performance of their official functions, a blatant disregard of the clear and unmistakable
terms of the law obviates this presumption and renders them susceptible to administrative sanctions. 23 Being among the judicial front-
liners who have direct contact with the litigants, a wanton display of utter lack of familiarity with the rules by the judge inevitably erodes
the confidence of the public in the competence of our courts to render justice. 24 It subjects the judiciary to embarrassment. Worse, it
could raise the specter of corruption.

When the gross inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law, or a principle in the discharge of his
or her duties, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the exalted position and title he or she holds, or the oversight or
omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority.25

All said, this Court finds the respondent, Judge Lorinda B. Toledo-Mupas, administratively liable for gross ignorance of the law.
Considering that this is her fourth offense, she deserves to be meted the supreme penalty of dismissal from the service, with all the
accessory penalties appurtenant thereto.

WHEREFORE, Judge Lorinda B. Toledo-Mupas of the Municipal Trial Court of Dasmariñas, Cavite is found guilty of gross ignorance of
the law. This being her fourth offense, she is hereby ORDERED DISMISSED FROM THE SERVICE with forfeiture of all benefits due
her, excluding her accrued leave benefits, and with perpetual disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any public office,
including government-owned or controlled corporations.

This Decision is final and immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ ANTONIO T. CARPIO


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ RENATO C. CORONA


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA DANTE O. TINGA


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

MINITA CHICO-NAZARIO CANCIO C. GARCIA


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

Footnotes

1 Rollo, pp. 3-18.

2
Ibid., pp. 1-2.

3 Ibid., pp. 35-36.

4 Ibid., p. 39.

5 Ibid., pp. 40-50.

6 Ibid., pp. 54-58.

7 Ibid., pp. 70-88.

8 Ibid., pp. 93-96.


9 Ibid., pp. 98-98 and 222-223, respectively.

10 Ibid., pp. 100-103.

11 Ibid., pp. 122-136.

12 Dated January 12, 2007; Ibid., pp. 224-254.

13 Dated January 18, 2007; Ibid., pp. 255-274.

14 Rollo, pp. 277-295.

15
AM No. 03-05-01-SC; June 1, 2004.

16 Resolution of Justice Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal, pp. 10-12.

17 Resolution of Justice Vidal, pp. 14-15, citing Mataga v. Rosete, AM No. MTJ-03-1488, October 13, 2004.

18 A.M. No. MTJ-01-1348, November 11, 2004; 442 SCRA 13.

19 A.M. No. MTJ-03-1491, June 8, 2005; 459 SCRA 313.

20 A.M. No. MTJ-05-1598, August 9, 2005; 466 SCRA 17.

21 Bitoon, et al. vs. Toledo-Mupas, A.M. No. MTJ-05-1598, January 23, 2006; 479 SCRA 351.

22 Rollo, p. 262.

23
Caguioa v. Laviña, A.M. No. RTJ-00-1553, 345 SCRA 49 (2000).

24Enriquez vs. Caminade, A.M. No. RTJ-05-1966, March 21, 2006; 485 SCRA 98; Landayan v. Quilantang, A.M. No. MTJ-06-
1632, May 4, 2006; 489 SCRA 360.

25
De Guzman, Jr. v. Judge Sison, supra.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-64261 December 26, 1984

JOSE BURGOS, SR., JOSE BURGOS, JR., BAYANI SORIANO and J. BURGOS MEDIA SERVICES, INC., petitioners,
vs.
THE CHIEF OF STAFF, ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE CHIEF, PHILIPPINE CONSTABULARY, THE CHIEF LEGAL
OFFICER, PRESIDENTIAL SECURITY COMMAND, THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL, ET AL., respondents.

Lorenzo M. Tañada, Wigberto E. Tañada, Martiniano Vivo, Augusto Sanchez, Joker P. Arroyo, Jejomar Binay and Rene Saguisag for
petitioners.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

ESCOLIN, J.:

Assailed in this petition for certiorari prohibition and mandamus with preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction is the validity of
two [2] search warrants issued on December 7, 1982 by respondent Judge Ernani Cruz-Pano, Executive Judge of the then Court of
First Instance of Rizal [Quezon City], under which the premises known as No. 19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City, and 784 Units C & D,
RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, business addresses of the "Metropolitan Mail" and "We Forum" newspapers,
respectively, were searched, and office and printing machines, equipment, paraphernalia, motor vehicles and other articles used in the
printing, publication and distribution of the said newspapers, as well as numerous papers, documents, books and other written literature
alleged to be in the possession and control of petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. publisher-editor of the "We Forum" newspaper, were seized.

Petitioners further pray that a writ of preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction be issued for the return of the seized articles, and
that respondents, "particularly the Chief Legal Officer, Presidential Security Command, the Judge Advocate General, AFP, the City
Fiscal of Quezon City, their representatives, assistants, subalterns, subordinates, substitute or successors" be enjoined from using the
articles thus seized as evidence against petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. and the other accused in Criminal Case No. Q- 022782 of the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, entitled People v. Jose Burgos, Jr. et al. 1

In our Resolution dated June 21, 1983, respondents were required to answer the petition. The plea for preliminary mandatory and prohibitory injunction was set for
hearing on June 28, 1983, later reset to July 7, 1983, on motion of the Solicitor General in behalf of respondents.
At the hearing on July 7, 1983, the Solicitor General, while opposing petitioners' prayer for a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction,
manifested that respondents "will not use the aforementioned articles as evidence in the aforementioned case until final resolution of
the legality of the seizure of the aforementioned articles. ..." With this manifestation, the prayer for preliminary prohibitory injunction
2

was rendered moot and academic.

Respondents would have this Court dismiss the petition on the ground that petitioners had come to this Court without having previously
sought the quashal of the search warrants before respondent judge. Indeed, petitioners, before impugning the validity of the warrants
before this Court, should have filed a motion to quash said warrants in the court that issued them. But this procedural flaw
3

notwithstanding, we take cognizance of this petition in view of the seriousness and urgency of the constitutional issues raised not to
mention the public interest generated by the search of the "We Forum" offices, which was televised in Channel 7 and widely publicized
in all metropolitan dailies. The existence of this special circumstance justifies this Court to exercise its inherent power to suspend its
rules. In the words of the revered Mr. Justice Abad Santos in the case of C. Vda. de Ordoveza v. Raymundo, "it is always in the power
4

of the court [Supreme Court] to suspend its rules or to except a particular case from its operation, whenever the purposes of justice
require it...".

Respondents likewise urge dismissal of the petition on ground of laches. Considerable stress is laid on the fact that while said search
warrants were issued on December 7, 1982, the instant petition impugning the same was filed only on June 16, 1983 or after the lapse
of a period of more than six [6] months.

Laches is failure or negligence for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could
or should have been done earlier. It is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that
the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it.
5

Petitioners, in their Consolidated Reply, explained the reason for the delay in the filing of the petition thus:

Respondents should not find fault, as they now do [p. 1, Answer, p. 3, Manifestation] with the fact that the Petition
was filed on June 16, 1983, more than half a year after the petitioners' premises had been raided.

The climate of the times has given petitioners no other choice. If they had waited this long to bring their case to court,
it was because they tried at first to exhaust other remedies. The events of the past eleven fill years had taught them
that everything in this country, from release of public funds to release of detained persons from custody, has become
a matter of executive benevolence or largesse

Hence, as soon as they could, petitioners, upon suggestion of persons close to the President, like Fiscal Flaminiano,
sent a letter to President Marcos, through counsel Antonio Coronet asking the return at least of the printing
equipment and vehicles. And after such a letter had been sent, through Col. Balbino V. Diego, Chief Intelligence and
Legal Officer of the Presidential Security Command, they were further encouraged to hope that the latter would yield
the desired results.

After waiting in vain for five [5] months, petitioners finally decided to come to Court. [pp. 123-124, Rollo]

Although the reason given by petitioners may not be flattering to our judicial system, We find no ground to punish or chastise them for
an error in judgment. On the contrary, the extrajudicial efforts exerted by petitioners quite evidently negate the presumption that they
had abandoned their right to the possession of the seized property, thereby refuting the charge of laches against them.

Respondents also submit the theory that since petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. had used and marked as evidence some of the seized
documents in Criminal Case No. Q- 022872, he is now estopped from challenging the validity of the search warrants. We do not follow
the logic of respondents. These documents lawfully belong to petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. and he can do whatever he pleases with them,
within legal bounds. The fact that he has used them as evidence does not and cannot in any way affect the validity or invalidity of the
search warrants assailed in this petition.

Several and diverse reasons have been advanced by petitioners to nullify the search warrants in question.

1. Petitioners fault respondent judge for his alleged failure to conduct an examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and his
witnesses, as mandated by the above-quoted constitutional provision as wen as Sec. 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court . This objection,
6

however, may properly be considered moot and academic, as petitioners themselves conceded during the hearing on August 9, 1983,
that an examination had indeed been conducted by respondent judge of Col. Abadilla and his witnesses.

2. Search Warrants No. 20-82[a] and No. 20- 82[b] were used to search two distinct places: No. 19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City and
784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, respectively. Objection is interposed to the execution of Search W arrant
No. 20-82[b] at the latter address on the ground that the two search warrants pinpointed only one place where petitioner Jose Burgos,
Jr. was allegedly keeping and concealing the articles listed therein, i.e., No. 19, Road 3, Project 6, Quezon City. This assertion is based
on that portion of Search Warrant No. 20- 82[b] which states:

Which have been used, and are being used as instruments and means of committing the crime of subversion
penalized under P.D. 885 as amended and he is keeping and concealing the same at 19 Road 3, Project 6, Quezon
City.

The defect pointed out is obviously a typographical error. Precisely, two search warrants were applied for and issued because the
purpose and intent were to search two distinct premises. It would be quite absurd and illogical for respondent judge to have issued two
warrants intended for one and the same place. Besides, the addresses of the places sought to be searched were specifically set forth in
the application, and since it was Col. Abadilla himself who headed the team which executed the search warrants, the ambiguity that
might have arisen by reason of the typographical error is more apparent than real. The fact is that the place for which Search Warrant
No. 20- 82[b] was applied for was 728 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, which address appeared in the
opening paragraph of the said warrant. Obviously this is the same place that respondent judge had in mind when he issued Warrant
7

No. 20-82 [b].


In the determination of whether a search warrant describes the premises to be searched with sufficient particularity, it has been held
"that the executing officer's prior knowledge as to the place intended in the warrant is relevant. This would seem to be especially true
where the executing officer is the affiant on whose affidavit the warrant had issued, and when he knows that the judge who issued the
warrant intended the building described in the affidavit, And it has also been said that the executing officer may look to the affidavit in
the official court file to resolve an ambiguity in the warrant as to the place to be searched." 8

3. Another ground relied upon to annul the search warrants is the fact that although the warrants were directed against Jose Burgos, Jr.
alone, articles b belonging to his co-petitioners Jose Burgos, Sr., Bayani Soriano and the J. Burgos Media Services, Inc. were seized.

Section 2, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, enumerates the personal properties that may be seized under a search warrant, to wit:

Sec. 2. Personal Property to be seized. — A search warrant may be issued for the search and seizure of the following
personal property:

[a] Property subject of the offense;

[b] Property stolen or embezzled and other proceeds or fruits of the offense; and

[c] Property used or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense.

The above rule does not require that the property to be seized should be owned by the person against whom the search warrant is
directed. It may or may not be owned by him. In fact, under subsection [b] of the above-quoted Section 2, one of the properties that may
be seized is stolen property. Necessarily, stolen property must be owned by one other than the person in whose possession it may be
at the time of the search and seizure. Ownership, therefore, is of no consequence, and it is sufficient that the person against whom the
warrant is directed has control or possession of the property sought to be seized, as petitioner Jose Burgos, Jr. was alleged to have in
relation to the articles and property seized under the warrants.

4. Neither is there merit in petitioners' assertion that real properties were seized under the disputed warrants. Under Article 415[5] of the
Civil Code of the Philippines, "machinery, receptables, instruments or implements intended by the owner of the tenement for an industry
or works which may be carried on in a building or on a piece of land and which tend directly to meet the needs of the said industry or
works" are considered immovable property. In Davao Sawmill Co. v. Castillo where this legal provision was invoked, this Court ruled
9

that machinery which is movable by nature becomes immobilized when placed by the owner of the tenement, property or plant, but not
so when placed by a tenant, usufructuary, or any other person having only a temporary right, unless such person acted as the agent of
the owner.

In the case at bar, petitioners do not claim to be the owners of the land and/or building on which the machineries were placed. This
being the case, the machineries in question, while in fact bolted to the ground remain movable property susceptible to seizure under a
search warrant.

5. The questioned search warrants were issued by respondent judge upon application of Col. Rolando N. Abadilla Intelligence Officer of
the P.C. Metrocom. The application was accompanied by the Joint Affidavit of Alejandro M. Gutierrez and Pedro U. Tango, 11 members
10

of the Metrocom Intelligence and Security Group under Col. Abadilla which conducted a surveillance of the premises prior to the filing of the application for the
search warrants on December 7, 1982.

It is contended by petitioners, however, that the abovementioned documents could not have provided sufficient basis for the finding of a
probable cause upon which a warrant may validly issue in accordance with Section 3, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution which
provides:

SEC. 3. ... and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined by
the judge, or such other responsible officer as may be authorized by law, after examination under oath or affirmation
of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the
persons or things to be seized.

We find petitioners' thesis impressed with merit. Probable cause for a search is defined as such facts and circumstances which would
lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection
with the offense are in the place sought to be searched. And when the search warrant applied for is directed against a newspaper
publisher or editor in connection with the publication of subversive materials, as in the case at bar, the application and/or its supporting
affidavits must contain a specification, stating with particularity the alleged subversive material he has published or is intending to
publish. Mere generalization will not suffice. Thus, the broad statement in Col. Abadilla's application that petitioner "is in possession or
has in his control printing equipment and other paraphernalia, news publications and other documents which were used and are all
continuously being used as a means of committing the offense of subversion punishable under Presidential Decree 885, as amended
..." 12 is a mere conclusion of law and does not satisfy the requirements of probable cause. Bereft of such particulars as would justify a finding of the existence of
probable cause, said allegation cannot serve as basis for the issuance of a search warrant and it was a grave error for respondent judge to have done so.

Equally insufficient as basis for the determination of probable cause is the statement contained in the joint affidavit of Alejandro M.
Gutierrez and Pedro U. Tango, "that the evidence gathered and collated by our unit clearly shows that the premises above- mentioned
and the articles and things above-described were used and are continuously being used for subversive activities in conspiracy with, and
to promote the objective of, illegal organizations such as the Light-a-Fire Movement, Movement for Free Philippines, and April 6
Movement." 13

In mandating that "no warrant shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined by the judge, ... after examination under oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce; 14 the Constitution requires no less than personal knowledge by the complainant
or his witnesses of the facts upon which the issuance of a search warrant may be justified. In Alvarez v. Court of First Instance, 15 this Court ruled that "the oath
required must refer to the truth of the facts within the personal knowledge of the petitioner or his witnesses, because the purpose thereof is to convince the
committing magistrate, not the individual making the affidavit and seeking the issuance of the warrant, of the existence of probable cause." As couched, the quoted
averment in said joint affidavit filed before respondent judge hardly meets the test of sufficiency established by this Court in Alvarez case.

Another factor which makes the search warrants under consideration constitutionally objectionable is that they are in the nature of
general warrants. The search warrants describe the articles sought to be seized in this wise:
1] All printing equipment, paraphernalia, paper, ink, photo (equipment, typewriters, cabinets, tables,
communications/recording equipment, tape recorders, dictaphone and the like used and/or connected in the printing
of the "WE FORUM" newspaper and any and all documents communication, letters and facsimile of prints related to
the "WE FORUM" newspaper.

2] Subversive documents, pamphlets, leaflets, books, and other publication to promote the objectives and piurposes
of the subversive organization known as Movement for Free Philippines, Light-a-Fire Movement and April 6
Movement; and,

3] Motor vehicles used in the distribution/circulation of the "WE FORUM" and other subversive materials and
propaganda, more particularly,

1] Toyota-Corolla, colored yellow with Plate No. NKA 892;

2] DATSUN pick-up colored white with Plate No. NKV 969

3] A delivery truck with Plate No. NBS 524;

4] TOYOTA-TAMARAW, colored white with Plate No. PBP 665; and,

5] TOYOTA Hi-Lux, pick-up truck with Plate No. NGV 427 with marking "Bagong Silang."

In Stanford v. State of Texas 16 the search warrant which authorized the search for "books, records, pamphlets, cards, receipts, lists, memoranda, pictures,
recordings and other written instruments concerning the Communist Party in Texas," was declared void by the U.S. Supreme Court for being too general. In like
manner, directions to "seize any evidence in connectionwith the violation of SDC 13-3703 or otherwise" have been held too general, and that portion of a search
warrant which authorized the seizure of any "paraphernalia which could be used to violate Sec. 54-197 of the Connecticut General Statutes [the statute dealing
with the crime of conspiracy]" was held to be a general warrant, and therefore invalid. 17 The description of the articles sought to be seized under the search
warrants in question cannot be characterized differently.

In the Stanford case, the U.S. Supreme Courts calls to mind a notable chapter in English history: the era of disaccord between the
Tudor Government and the English Press, when "Officers of the Crown were given roving commissions to search where they pleased in
order to suppress and destroy the literature of dissent both Catholic and Puritan Reference herein to such historical episode would not
be relevant for it is not the policy of our government to suppress any newspaper or publication that speaks with "the voice of non-
conformity" but poses no clear and imminent danger to state security.

As heretofore stated, the premises searched were the business and printing offices of the "Metropolitan Mail" and the "We Forum
newspapers. As a consequence of the search and seizure, these premises were padlocked and sealed, with the further result that the
printing and publication of said newspapers were discontinued.

Such closure is in the nature of previous restraint or censorship abhorrent to the freedom of the press guaranteed under the
fundamental law, 18 and constitutes a virtual denial of petitioners' freedom to express themselves in print. This state of being is patently anathematic to a
democratic framework where a free, alert and even militant press is essential for the political enlightenment and growth of the citizenry.

Respondents would justify the continued sealing of the printing machines on the ground that they have been sequestered under Section
8 of Presidential Decree No. 885, as amended, which authorizes "the sequestration of the property of any person, natural or artificial,
engaged in subversive activities against the government and its duly constituted authorities ... in accordance with implementing rules
and regulations as may be issued by the Secretary of National Defense." It is doubtful however, if sequestration could validly be
effected in view of the absence of any implementing rules and regulations promulgated by the Minister of National Defense.

Besides, in the December 10, 1982 issue of the Daily Express, it was reported that no less than President Marcos himself denied the
request of the military authorities to sequester the property seized from petitioners on December 7, 1982. Thus:

The President denied a request flied by government prosecutors for sequestration of the WE FORUM newspaper and
its printing presses, according to Information Minister Gregorio S. Cendana.

On the basis of court orders, government agents went to the We Forum offices in Quezon City and took a detailed
inventory of the equipment and all materials in the premises.

Cendaña said that because of the denial the newspaper and its equipment remain at the disposal of the owners,
subject to the discretion of the court. 19

That the property seized on December 7, 1982 had not been sequestered is further confirmed by the reply of then Foreign Minister Carlos P. Romulo to the letter
dated February 10, 1983 of U.S. Congressman Tony P. Hall addressed to President Marcos, expressing alarm over the "WE FORUM " case. 20 In this reply dated
February 11, 1983, Minister Romulo stated:

2. Contrary to reports, President Marcos turned down the recommendation of our authorities to close the paper's
printing facilities and confiscate the equipment and materials it uses. 21

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, Search Warrants Nos. 20-82[a] and 20-82[b] issued by respondent judge on December 7, 1982 are
hereby declared null and void and are accordingly set aside. The prayer for a writ of mandatory injunction for the return of the seized
articles is hereby granted and all articles seized thereunder are hereby ordered released to petitioners. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente and Cuevas, JJ.,
concur.
Aquino, J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring

I am glad to give my concurrence to the ponencia of Mr. Justice Escolin At the same time I wish to state my own reasons for holding
that the search warrants which are the subject of the petition are utterly void.

The action against "WE FORUM" was a naked suppression of press freedom for the search warrants were issued in gross violation of
the Constitution.

The Constitutional requirement which is expressed in Section 3, Article IV, stresses two points, namely: "(1) that no warrant shall issue
but upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge in the manner set forth in said provision; and (2) that the warrant shall
particularly describe the things to be seized." (Stonehill vs. Diokno, 126 Phil. 738, 747: 20 SCRA 383 [1967].)

Any search warrant is conducted in disregard of the points mentioned above will result in wiping "out completely one of the most
fundamental rights guaranteed in our Constitution, for it would place the sanctity of the domicile and the privacy of communication and
correspondence at the mercy of the whims caprice or passion of peace officers." (Ibid, p. 748.)

The two search warrants were issued without probable cause. To satisfy the requirement of probable cause a specific offense must be
alleged in the application; abstract averments will not suffice. In the case at bar nothing specifically subversive has been alleged; stated
only is the claim that certain objects were being used as instruments and means of committing the offense of subversion punishable
under P.D. No. 885, as amended. There is no mention of any specific provision of the decree. I n the words of Chief Justice C
Concepcion, " It would be legal heresy of the highest order, to convict anybody" of violating the decree without reference to any
determinate provision thereof.

The search warrants are also void for lack of particularity. Both search warrants authorize Col. Rolando Abadilla to seize and take
possession, among other things, of the following:

Subversive documents, pamphlets, leaflets, books and other publication to promote the objectives and purposes of
the subversive organizations known as Movement for Free Philippines, Light-a-Fire Movement and April 6 Movement.

The obvious question is: Why were the documents, pamphlets, leaflets, books, etc. subversive? What did they contain to make them
subversive? There is nothing in the applications nor in the warrants which answers the questions. I must, therefore, conclude that the
warrants are general warrants which are obnoxious to the Constitution.

In point of fact, there was nothing subversive published in the WE FORUM just as there is nothing subversive which has been
published in MALAYA which has replaced the former and has the same content but against which no action has been taken.

Conformably with existing jurisprudence everything seized pursuant to the warrants should be returned to the owners and all of the
items are subject to the exclusionary rule of evidence.

Teehankee, J., concur.

Separate Opinions

ABAD SANTOS, J., concurring

I am glad to give my concurrence to the ponencia of Mr. Justice Escolin At the same time I wish to state my own reasons for holding
that the search warrants which are the subject of the petition are utterly void.

The action against "WE FORUM" was a naked suppression of press freedom for the search warrants were issued in gross violation of
the Constitution.

The Constitutional requirement which is expressed in Section 3, Article IV, stresses two points, namely: "(1) that no warrant shall issue
but upon probable cause, to be determined by the judge in the manner set forth in said provision; and (2) that the warrant shall
particularly describe the things to be seized." (Stonehill vs. Diokno, 126 Phil. 738, 747: 20 SCRA 383 [1967].)

Any search warrant is conducted in disregard of the points mentioned above will result in wiping "out completely one of the most
fundamental rights guaranteed in our Constitution, for it would place the sanctity of the domicile and the privacy of communication and
correspondence at the mercy of the whims caprice or passion of peace officers." (Ibid, p. 748.)
The two search warrants were issued without probable cause. To satisfy the requirement of probable cause a specific offense must be
alleged in the application; abstract averments will not suffice. In the case at bar nothing specifically subversive has been alleged; stated
only is the claim that certain objects were being used as instruments and means of committing the offense of subversion punishable
under P.D. No. 885, as amended. There is no mention of any specific provision of the decree. I n the words of Chief Justice C
Concepcion, " It would be legal heresy of the highest order, to convict anybody" of violating the decree without reference to any
determinate provision thereof.

The search warrants are also void for lack of particularity. Both search warrants authorize Col. Rolando Abadilla to seize and take
possession, among other things, of the following:

Subversive documents, pamphlets, leaflets, books and other publication to promote the objectives and purposes of
the subversive organizations known as Movement for Free Philippines, Light-a-Fire Movement and April 6 Movement.

The obvious question is: Why were the documents, pamphlets, leaflets, books, etc. subversive? What did they contain to make them
subversive? There is nothing in the applications nor in the warrants which answers the questions. I must, therefore, conclude that the
warrants are general warrants which are obnoxious to the Constitution.

In point of fact, there was nothing subversive published in the WE FORUM just as there is nothing subversive which has been
published in MALAYA which has replaced the former and has the same content but against which no action has been taken.

Conformably with existing jurisprudence everything seized pursuant to the warrants should be returned to the owners and all of the
items are subject to the exclusionary rule of evidence.

Teehankee, J., concur.

Footnotes

1 Petition, P. 44, Rollo.

2 Manifestation and Opposition, p. 75, Rollo.

3 Templo v. Dela Cruz, 60 SCRA 295.

4 463 Phil. 275.

5 Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, 23 SCRA 29.

6 Sec. 4, Rule 126, Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 4. Examination of the Applicant. — The municipal or city judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally
examine on oath or affirmation the complainant and any witnesses he may produce and take their deposition in
writing and attach them to the record, in addition to any affidavits presented to them.

7 The opening paragraph of Search Warrant No. 20- 82 [b] reads:

"It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned after examination under oath of Maj. Alejandro M. Gutierrez and
Lt. Pedro U. Tango, that there are good and sufficient reason to believe that Jose Burgos, Jr. Publisher-Editor of "WE
FORUM" with office address at 784 Units C & D, RMS Building, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, has in his possession
and control at said address the following; ... :

8 68 Am. Jur. 2d., 729.

9 61 Phil. 709. Annex "C", Petition, pp. 51-52,

10 Rollo.

11 Annex "B", Petition, pp. 53-54, Rollo.

12 Annex "C", Petition, p. 51, Rollo.

13 Annex "D", Petition, p. 54, Rollo.

14 Sec. 3, Art. IV, 1973 Constitution.

15 64 Phil. 33.

18 Sec. 9. Art. IV of the Constitution

19 Annex "K", Consolidated Reply, p. 175, Rollo.

20 Annex "L", Consolidated Reply, p. 178, Rollo.

21 Annex "M", Consolidated Reply, p. 179, Rollo.


The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

SECOND DIVISION

APRIL 18, 2018

G.R. No. 216922

JAYLORD DIMAL and ALLAN CASTILLO, Petitioners


vs
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to reverse and set aside the Court of
Appeals (CA) Decision dated August 27, 2014 and Resolution dated February 4, 2015 in CA-G.R. SP No. 128355. The CA dismissed
1 2

the petition for certiorari under Rule 65, assailing the Order of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 87, which denied
3

the Omnibus Motion (Motion to Quash Search Warrant No. 10-11, to Declare the Seized Items as Inadmissible in Evidence) in Criminal
Cases Nos. Q-12-175369 to Q-12-175371.

The Facts

At around 6:00 p.m. of September 6, 2010, Lucio Pua, Rosemarie Pua and Gemma Eugenio were scheduled to visit the compound of
petitioner Jaylord A. Dimal in Echague, Isabela, to negotiate for the sale of palay. At around 7:30 p.m., Lucio's nephew, Edison Pua,
went to Dimal's compound, asking for information as to the whereabouts of Lucio, Rosemarie and Gemma. Dimal informed Edison that
they had left an hour ago. Unable to locate his relatives, Edison went to the police station in Alicia, Isabela, to report that they were
missing, then proceeded to seek assistance from the police station in Echague.

Thereafter, Edison was escorted by two policemen to Dimal's compound, where they allegedly stayed and observed the premises in the
absence ofDimal until September 7, 2010. On even date at around 5:30 a.m., Edison and the two policemen supposedly searched
without a warrant Dimal's compound, but found no evidence linking him to the disappearances.

On September 24, 2010, petitioner Allan Castillo was accosted by the Echague Police, and allegedly tortured to implicate Dimal in the
killing of Lucio, Rosemarie and Gemma. On September 25, 2010, a certain Eduardo Sapipi was arrested due to the supposed
statement made by Castillo. Sapipi purportedly made an uncounseled confession that Dimal shot the three victims, and ordered him,
Castillo and one Michael Miranda to cover up the crime by throwing the bodies in a river.

On September 26, 2010, Dimal was arrested by the Echague Police. On September 27, 2010, the Echague Police filed with the Office
of the Provincial Prosecutor of Ilagan, Isabela, a criminal complaint for Kidnapping for Ransom and Multiple Murder against Dimal,
Castillo, Sapipi, Miranda, Marvin Guiao and Robert Baccay.

On October 8, 2010, Police Inspector (P/lnsp.) Roy Michael S. Malixi, a commissioned officer of the Philippine National Police assigned
with the Police Anti-Crime and Emergency Response in Camp Crame Quezon City, filed an Application for the Issuance of a Search
Warrant before the R TC Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 17, in connection with the kidnapping and multiple murder of Lucio, Rosemarie and
4

Gemma.

In his application for search warrant, P/Insp. Malixi stated that "he was informed, and verily believed that JA YLORD ARIZABAL DIMAL
@ JAY, 28 years old, a resident of Felix Gumpal Compound, Ipil Junction, Isabela and CMJ Building Dubinan East, Santiago City, has
in control of the following items" in the said address, to wit:

a. Personal belongings such as:

1. Driver's License of Lucio Pua;

2. Alien Certificate of Registration Identification cards of Lucio Pua and Rosemarie Pua;

3. ATM Cards such as BDO under Lucio Pua's accounts;

4. Deposit Slips in BDO accounts of Lucio Pua;

5. Receipts of the palay delivered;

6. Blood-stained clothes of the victims:

6.1 Rosemarie Pua's green inner garment with black blazer and brownish pedal pants;

6.2 Lucio Pua's black short and pink polo shirt;

6.3 Gemma Eugenio y Estrada's maong pants, faded pink long sleeves jacket, black striped t-shirt and a shoulder
bag;
6.4 Polo t-shirt and faded pink jacket seen beside the comfort room inside the compound of the warehouse of Jayson
Dimal.

7. Picture of Shaira Mae Eugenio's youngest sister (Queen Sean Eugenio) seen inside the shoulder bag of the victim, Gemma Eugenio.

b. 1,600 sacks of palay inside a warehouse found in the Felix Gumpal Compound, Ipil Junction, Echague, Isabela;

c. Long bolo approximately 16 inches in length; and

d. Glock 9mm caliber pistol. 5

P/Insp. Malixi stressed that he has personally verified and ascertained the veracity of the information and found the same to be true and
correct, as narrated and sworn to by Ernesto Villador, a long-time employee of Dimal, Edison Uy Pua, the nephew of the victims Lucio
and Rosemarie Pua, and Shaira Mae Eugenio, daughter of the victim Gemma Eugenio. P/Insp. Malixi claimed that the application was
founded on his personal knowledge and that of his witnesses, acquired after conducting surveillance and investigation. P/Insp. Malixi
attached to the application as Annexes "A", "B", "C" and "D" the Vicinity/Location and Floor Map.

After the hearing of the application on October 8, 2010, Judge Bonifacio T. Ong of the RTC of Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 17, issued a
Search Warrant, which reads:

The undersigned Presiding Judge personally examined in the form of questions and answers in writing and [under oath], the applicant
Police Senior Inspector Roy Michael S. Malixi and the witnesses, namely: Edison Pua, Shaira Mae Eugenio, and Ernesto Villador, who
all collaborated to the fact of death of Lucio Pua, Rosemarie Pua and Gemma Eugenio in Echague, Isabela. That witness Edison Pua
went to the house of Jaylord Dimal after the commission of the crime and was able to see the blood-stained clothes of the victims:

1) Lucio Pua's clothes; and

2) [Rosemarie] Pua's clothes;

On the part of Shaira Mae Eugenio, she testified that before her mother Gemma Eugenio left her house, she wore faded pink long
sleeves jacket and black T-shirt, and brought with her a shoulder bag and two (2) cellphones which probably are in the house of Jaylord
Dimal. In the case of Ernesto Villador, he testified that he saw Jay lord Dimal holding a 9mm caliber pistol and testified that he usually
keep said firearm under the computer table or drawers. He likewise testify (sic) that there were 1,600 sacks of palay sold by the victims
and brought to the Felix Gumpal Compound.

With the testimony of said witnesses and their Sinumpaang Salaysay and deposition of witness, it would readily show that there is
probable cause to believe that in the house, particularly the Felix Gumpal Compound of Jay lord Dimal located at Ipil Junction,
Echague, Isabela, said items, to wit: blood-stained clothes of the victims, 1,600 sacks of palay inside the warehouse in the Felix
Gumpal Compound and 9mm cal. pistol are found.

The said Application for Search Warrant was filed before this Court due to compelling reasons for security and confidentiality purposes,
considering that possibility of leakages of information once the application for search warrant is filed with the court within the area
having territorial jurisdiction over it.

In view thereof, you are hereby commanded to search at any time of the day or night the premises of Felix Gumpal Compound located
at Ipil Junction, Echague, Isabela, and forthwith seize and take possession of the following properties: blood-stained clothes of
Rosemarie Pua, Lucio Pua, and Gemma Eugenio, either to take the 1,600 sacks of palay or just to photograph the same, and the 9mm
caliber pistol, and to bring the said articles to the custody of the Provincial Director of Isabela at the Provincial Police Office of Isabela
under custodia legis, to be dealt with according to law. 6

In the Return on the Search Warrant, P/Insp. Gary Halay-ay Macadangdang, Deputy Chief of Police, Echague Police Station, Echague,
Isabela," manifested that (1) Search Warrant No. 10-11 was served at the premises of Dimal at Barangay Ipil, Echague, Isabela, on
October 9, 2010 at about 9:00 a.m., and (2) the search was conducted in an orderly manner and in the presence of owner/custodian
Carlos Dimal, Barangay Captain Florencio Miguel, Barangay Kagawads Rodolfo Vergara and Mariano Seriban, and BOMBO Radyo
reporter Romy Santos. P/Insp. Macadangdang enumerated the items recovered:

The following articles, subject of the warrant, were found by the said Office during the search:

a. Extracted suspected Blood stain (Mark as E-24 with JAM markings)

b. Extracted suspected Blood stain (Mark as E-25 with JAM markings)

c. One (1) Black T-Shirt with suspected blood stain (Mark as E-26 with JAM markings)

d. One (1) Black T-Shirt with red lining with suspected blood stain (Mark as E-15 with JAM markings)

e. One (1) Bra color brown (tiger) (Mark as E-14 with JAM markings)

f. One (1) cell phone spare part (mark as E-16 with JAM markings)

g. One (1) cell phone spare part (mark as E-17 with JAM markings)

h. Palay husk with suspected blood stain (mark as E-28 with JAM markings)

i. Suspected blood stain (mark as E-25-A with JAM markings)


The articles recovered/seized in plain view during the conduct of search are the following:

a. One (1) pc tom cloth (Mark as E-1 with JAM markings)

b. One (1) pc tom cloth (Mark as E-2 with JAM markings)

c. One (1) pc tom cloth (Mark as E-3 with JAM markings)

d. One (1) pc spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-4 with JAM markings)

e. One (1) bag pack color black (Mark as E-5 with JAM markings)

f. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-6 with JAM markings)

g. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-7 with JAM markings)

h. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-8 with JAM markings)

i. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-9 with JAM markings)

j. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-10 with JAM markings)

k. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-11 with JAM markings)

1. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-12 with JAM markings)

m. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-13 with JAM markings)

n. Two (2) Alien Certificate of Registration of Lucio Pua and Rosemarie Pua, and One (1) BDO Passbook in the name
of Lucio Pua (mark as E-15 with JAM markings)

o. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-18 with JAM markings)

p. One (1) piece gold-plated earring (mark as E-19 with JAM markings)

q. Suspected human hair (mark as E-20 with JAM markings)

r. A piece of embroider[ed] cloth (mark as E-22 with JAM markings)

s. Three (3) burned Tire wires (mark as E-23 with JAM markings)

t. One (1) empty plastic bottle of Gleam muriatic acid (mark as E- 27 with JAM markings)

u. One (1) live ammo of caliber 22 (mark as E-29 with JAM markings)

v. One (1) color white t-shirt (mark as E-30 with JAM markings). 7

On February 20, 2012, petitioners Dimal and Castillo, together with Michael Miranda, filed an Omnibus Motion to quash Search
8

Warrant No. 10-11 and to declare the seized items as inadmissible in evidence. They argued that the search warrant is invalid because
it was issued in connection with, not just one single offense, but two crimes, i.e., kidnapping and multiple murder. They also contended
that except for witness Ernesto Villador, applicant P/Insp. Malixi and witnesses Edison and Shaira Mae have no personal knowledge
surrounding the two crimes committed; hence, their statements did not provide basis for a finding of probable cause, much less for the
issuance of a search warrant. With respect to Villador, petitioners assert that his sworn statement is incredible because he is just an
ordinary laborer, who is unfamiliar with the English language, and there is no showing that the contents of his statement were fully
explained to him by the Judge who issued the search warrant. Petitioners further posit that the search warrant was invalidly
implemented because the raiding team failed to comply with Section 8, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court on the requisite presence of two
witnesses during a search of premises, and with Section 10, Rule 126 on the issuance of a receipt of seized properties. Finally,
petitioners sought that the items seized which are not covered by the search warrant, should be declared inadmissible in evidence and
be ordered returned to the accused.

Meanwhile, on November 22, 2010, three (3) criminal Informations for Kidnapping for Ransom, as defined and penalized under Article
267, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, were filed against petitioners before the RTC of Echague,
Isabela, Branch 24, and later re-raffled to the RTC of Ilagan, Isabela, Branch 17. The accusatory portion of the Informations similarly
read, save for the names of the 3 victims, as follows:

That on or about the 6th day of September 2010, and for sometime thereafter, in the Municipality of Echague, Province of Isabela,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused Jaylord Arizabal Dimas (sic) and Allan Castillo y Marquez,
being the principals therein, conspiring, confederating together and helping one another, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, kidnap and detain one Lucio Uy Pua (Chinese name: Xinyi Pan) for the purpose of extorting ransom in the amount of
9

Fifty (50) million pesos, from him and from his relatives.

That during his[/her] detention, the said accused, in pursuance of conspiracy, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously,
assault, attack and shot with a caliber 9mm pistol the said Lucio Uy Pua which had directly caused his death and, thereafter, chopped
10
his body into several pieces and placed them into big plastic containers and ice box, and burned his head and placed the same into a
plastic bag, and threw the same on separate rivers located at Santiago City and at the Province of Quirino.

That the accused Michael Miranda Genova alias Mike Miranda being an accessory, took part in the subsequent commission of the
crime by providing the vehicle and a container drum used to dispose the chopped body of said Lucio Uy Pua and threw the same on
11

the river, in order to conceal the body of the crime, to prevent its discovery.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 12

Pursuant to Administrative Matter No. 12-1-18-RTC, the criminal cases were re-raffled to Judge Aurora A. Hernandez-Calledo of the
RTC of Quezon City, and re-docketed as Criminal Case Nos. Q-12-175369, Q-12- 175370 to Q-12-175371.

In an Order dated September 28, 2012, the RTC of Quezon City denied the Motion to Quash Search Warrant No. 10-11 for lack of
13

merit. The RTC ruled that a perusal of the application for search warrant reveals that it was issued by the RTC of Ilagan, Isabela, after
conducting searching and probing questions upon the persons of the applicant P/Insp. Malixi, and his witnesses Edison, Shaira Mae
and more particularly Villador, and finding probable cause based on their personal knowledge. In rejecting the claim of
unreasonableness of the implementation of the search warrant, the R TC noted that the records show that the owner/custodian of the
property subject of the warrant by the name of Carlos Dimal, was present, together with the Barangay Captain, two Barangay
Kagawads, and a reporter from Bomba Radyo.

Considering that no complaint was filed regarding the implementation of the search warrant, and that a Certification of Orderly Search
was issued by the barangay officials, the RTC declared that the presumption of regularity in the performance of public duty was not
sufficiently contradicted. Anent the claim that the search warrant was not issued in connection with a single offense but with the crimes
of Kidnapping and Murder, the RTC said that the nature of the case and the circumstances at the time the search warrant was applied
for, justify the issuance of such warrant as the two offenses are allied or closely related to each other because it was reported to the
applicant that the victims were kidnapped for ransom and murdered. Finally, the RTC stressed that the claim that no return on the
search warrant was submitted must fail because such a return was issued by the executing officer, and was marked as Exhibit "4" for
the prosecution during the preliminary conference .

With the RTC's denial of their motion for reconsideration, petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the CA.

In a Decision dated August 27, 2014, the CA dismissed the petition and ruled that the subject search warrant was validly issued, thus:
14

A perusal of the records show that Judge Ong, through searching and probing questions, personally examined the (sic) P/lnsp. Malixi
and the witnesses, Edison Uy, Ernesto Villador and Shaira Mae Eugenio, on 8 October 2010. The questions that Judge Ong
propounded were sufficiently probing, not at all superficial and perfunctory. The facts narrated by the witnesses while under oath, when
they were asked by the examining judge, were sufficient justification for the issuance of the subject search warrant.

Furthermore, the subject search warrant specifically designated or described Felix Gumpal Compound, located at lpil Junction,
Echague, Isabela as the place to be searched and enumerated the articles to be seized.

Petitioners['] contention that the subject search warrant which was issued in connection with two (2) separate offenses, Kidnapping and
Murder, as indicated therein, cannot stand. However, as aptly pointed out by the People through the Office of the Solicitor General, the
crimes of kidnapping and murder are interrelated and points to the commission of a single complex crime known as kidnapping with
murder. They cannot be treated as separate crimes. 15

Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the CA denied in a Resolution dated February 4, 2015. Hence, this petition for
review on certiorari.

Issues

Petitioners argue that the CA gravely erred in failing to pass upon petitioners' allegations (1) that the search warrant is void and its
quashal impera1ive; and (2) that the items seized on the basis of the void search warrant are inadmissible in evidence. They contend
that the search warrant was null and void because it was issued in connection with two unrelated offenses, without a finding of probable
cause, and without specifying the place to be searched and the items to be seized.

Ruling

The petition is partly meritorious. Search Warrant No. 10-11 was validly issued, but most of the items seized pursuant thereto are
inadmissible in evidence, as they were neither particularly described in the warrant nor seized under the "plain view doctrine".

At the outset, there is no merit to petitioners' contention that the search warrant was applied for in connection with two unrelated
offenses, i.e., kidnapping and murder, in violation of Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court which requires that such warrant must be
issued in relation to one offense.

Suffice it to state that where a person kidnapped is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention, there is only one special complex
crime for which the last paragraph of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code provides the maximum penalty that shall be
imposed, i.e., death. In People v. Larranaga, the Court explained that this provision gives rise to a special complex crime:
16 17

This amendment introduced in our criminal statutes the concept of "special complex crime" of kidnapping with murder or homicide. It
effectively eliminated the distinction drawn by the courts between those cases where the killing of the kidnapped victim was purposely
sought by the accused, and those where the killing of the victim was not deliberately resorted to but was merely an afterthought.
Consequently, the rule now is: Where the person kidnapped is killed in the course of the detention, regardless of whether the killing was
purposely sought or was merely an afterthought, the kidnapping and murder or homicide can no longer be complexed under Art. 48, nor
be treated as separate crimes, but shall be punished as a special complex crime under the last paragraph of Art. 267, as amended by
R.A. No. 7659.
xxxx

x x x Where the law provides a single penalty for two or more component offenses, the resulting crime is called a special complex
crime. Some of the special complex crimes under the Revised Penal Code are (1) robbery with homicide, (2) robbery with rape, (3)
kidnapping with serious physical injuries, (4) kidnapping with murder or homicide, and (5) rape with homicide. In a special complex
crime, the prosecution must necessarily prove each of the component offenses with the same precision that would be necessary if they
were made the subject of separate complaints. As earlier mentioned, R.A. No. 7659 amended Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code by
adding thereto this provision: "When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the detention, or is raped, or is subjected to torture
or dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed; and that this provision gives rise to a special complex crime." 18

There is no dispute that Search Warrant No. 10-11 was applied for and issued in connection with the crime of kidnapping with murder.
Asked by Judge Ong during the hearing as to what particular offense was committed, search warrant applicant P/Insp. Malixi testified
that Dimal "allegedly committed the crime of kidnapping and multiple murder of Lucio and Rosemarie Pua and one Gemma Eugenio on
September 6, 2010." It is not amiss to add that a search warrant that covers several counts of a certain specific offense does not
19

violate the one-specific-offense rule. 20

Neither can petitioners validly claim that the examining judge failed to ask searching questions, and to consider that the testimonies of
the applicant and his witnesses were based entirely on hearsay, as they have no personal knowledge of the circumstances relating to
the supposed disappearance or murder of the 3 victims.

The Court explained in Del Castillo v. People the concept of probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant:
21

x x x Probable cause for a search warrant is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and
prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place
sought to be searched. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been
committed and that it was committed by the accused. Probable cause demands more than bare suspicion; it requires less than
evidence which would justify conviction. The judge, in determining probable cause, is to consider the totality of the circumstances made
known to him and not by a fixed and rigid formula, and must employ a flexible totality of the circumstances standard. The existence
depends to a large degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting the examination. This Court, therefore, is in no position to
disturb the factual findings of the judge which led to the issuance of the search warrant. A magistrate's determination of probable cause
for the issuance of a search warrant is paid great deference by a reviewing court, as long as there was substantial basis for that
determination. Substantial basis means that the questions of the examining judge brought out such facts and circumstances as would
lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and the objects in connection with the
offense sought to be seized are in the place sought to be searched.

Corollarily, the Court said in Oebanda v. People that in an application for search warrant, the mandate of the judge is for him to
22

conduct a full and searching examination of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce. "The searching questions propounded
to the applicant and the witnesses must depend on a large extent upon the discretion of the judge. Although there is no hard-and-fast
rule as to how a judge may conduct his examination, it is axiomatic that the said examination must be probing and exhaustive and not
merely routinary, general, periphe.ial or perfunctory. He must make his own inquiry on the intent and factual and legal justifications for a
search warrant. The questions should not merely be repetitious of the averments stated in the affidavits/deposition of the applicant and
the witnesses."23

Having in mind the foregoing principles, the Court agrees with the RTC and the CA in both ruling that Judge Ong found probable cause
to issue a search warrant after a searching and probing personal examination of applicant P/Insp. Malixi and his witnesses, Edison,
Shaira Mae and Villador. Their testimonies jointly and collectively show a reasonable ground to believe that the 3 victims went to
Dimal's compound to sell palay, but were probably killed by Dimal, and that they may have left personal belongings within its premises.

During the hearing of his application for search warrant, Judge Ong was ab.le to elicit from P/Insp. Malixi the specific crime allegedly
committed by Dimal, the particular place to be searched and items to be seized:

[COURT:]

Q: And in your application for Search Warrant, what particular place are you going to search in this Search Warrant if ever it will
be granted?

[P/INSP. MALIXI:]

A: According to the Opponent we are applying to search the Palay Buying Station of Jaylord Dimal located at Felix Gumpal
Compound, lpil, Echague, Isabela, and also to search the back portion of a vacant lot within the Felix Gumpal Compound,
Your Honor.

Q: The particular place is Felix Gumpal Compound, in Echague, Isabela, no more?

A: No more, Your Honor.

Q: And what particular offense have this Jaylord Dimal committed, if any?

A: He allegedly committed the crime of kidnapping and multiple murder of Lucio and Rosemarie Pua and one Gemma Eugenio
on September 6, 2010, Your Honor.

Q: And what particular items are you going to search in that compound of Felix Gumpal?

A: Subject of the offense, the personal belongings of the victims when they went to the Felix Gumpal Compound, where they were
reportedly murdered, Your Honor. 1âwphi1
Q: What specific items are you going to search from that place?

A: Personal belongings such as Driver's License of Lucio Pua, Alien Certificate of Registration ID of Lucio Pua and Rosemarie
Pua, A TM Cards such as BDO under Lucio Pua's account, Deposit slips of BDO accounts of Lucio Pua, receipts of the palay
delivered, blood-stained clothes of the victims, such as Rosemarie Pua's green inner garment with black blazer and brownish
pedal pants, Lucio Pua's black short and pink polo shirt, Gemma Eugenio's maong pants, faded pink long sleeves jacket,
black stripe T-shirt and a shoulder bag of the victim Gemma Eugenio color white, the 1,600 sacks of palay inside the
Warehouse of Felix Gumpal Compound, long bolo [which] is approximately 16 inches long, and the 9mm caliber black pistol,
your Honor.

Q: Where did you get this information regarding the articles found in the Felix Gumpal Compound?

A: This information was given to me by the Opponents, Your Honor.

Q: And who are they?

A: They are Edison Uy Pua, Ernesto Villador y Yakapin and Shaira Eugenio y Estrada, Your Honor.

Q: How sure are you that these people were able to see these items in Felix Gumpal Compound? A: Edison Uy Pua and Shaira Mae
Eugenio are the relatives of the victims who personally saw the victim's clothes they were wearing right before they went to Jaylord's
compound and the victims were seen by Ernesto Villador sprawled lifeless on the floor in the palay buying station of Jaylord Dimal,
Your Honor.

Q: You said that there is a gun 9mm pistol, how did they come to know that there was a gun in that place?

A: It was reported to me by Ernesto Villador, Your Honor. 24

Judge Ong was also able to draw corroborative testimonies from P/lnsp. Malixi's witnesses. Edison testified on the circumstances prior
to the disappearance of his uncle Lucio and his aunties Rosemarie and Gemma, while Shaira Mae described the clothes and personal
belongings of her mother before the latter disappeared, thus:

[COURT]

Q: On September 6, 2010, where were you?

[EDISON]

A: I was at home, Your Honor.

Q: Where?

A: At Antonino, Alicia, Isabela, Your Honor?

Q: Where is Lucio and Rosemarie Pua on that day?

A: They went to Jaylord to collect the payment of the palay, Your Honor.

Q: And you were left in your house in Alicia when your Uncle Lucio and Auntie Rosemarie when they went to Jaylord to collect payment
of palay?

A: Yes, Your Honor, I was.

Q: And do you know what happened to your Uncle Lucio and Auntie Rosemarie when they went to Jaylord's place?

A: I know because when they went to collect payments they did not come back anymore, Your Honor.

Q: And what did you do when you learned that they did not come back anymore?

A: They were already dead and their bodies were chopped into pieces, your Honor.

Q: And what did you do when you learned that they did not come back anymore?

A: They were already dead and their bodies were chopped into pieces, your Honor.

Q: And what did you do when you learned that they were already dead and chopped into pieces?

A: We went to look for the pieces of the bodies because they said it was thrown to the river, Your Honor.

Q: And what did you do after that?

A: We went to the house of Jaylord, Your Honor.


Q: And what did you do in the house of Jaylord?

A: We saw the T-shirt of my Uncle Lucio Pua and Ate Gemma, Your Honor.

Q: Who is that Gemma?

A: My aunt, the one who canvass palay, your Honor.

Q: What did you see in the house of Jaylord?

A: Polo shirt and Jacket of Auntie Gemma, Your Honor.

Q: What else aside from the Polo shirt and jacket did you see?

A: No more your Honor, we went back to Alicia.

Q: Who were with you when you went to the house of Jaylord?

A: My cousin, Your Honor .

Q: What is the name of your cousin?

A: Harison, Your Honor.

Q: When was that when you went to the house of Dimal?

A: October 5, 2010, Your Honor. 25

xx xx

[COURT]

Q: On September 6, 2010, in the afternoon, at about 4:00 o'clock, do you know where was (sic) your mother then? [SHAIRA MAE]

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Where?

A: She [Gemma] went to Jaylord Dimal, Your Honor.

Q: Do you remember what was (sic) the clothes of your mother and what did she brought (sic) with her when she went to
Jaylord Dimal?

A: Yes, Your Honor, the long sleeves is faded pink, the inner shirt is black, and bag is pink, inside it are two (2) cellphones,
the picture of my sister and her Driver's License. 26

While it may be noted that applicant P/Insp. Malixi and his witnesses Shaira Mae and Edison have no personal knowledge how the
crimes of kidnapping and multiple murder were committed, their testimonies corroborated that of Villador, who petitioners admitted to
have known about the incidents surrounding the commission of such crimes. 27

Significantly, Judge Ong's inquiry underscored that Villador has a reasonable ground to believe that a crime has been committed at the
Felix Gumpal Compound on September 6, 2010. In reply to the queries of Judge Ong, Villador revealed that (1) when Dimal called him
inside the house to receive his payment as classifier of palay, he saw them [Lucio, Rosemarie and Gemma] talking to each other; and
(2) later in the day, Dimal called him to ask for help, but he backed out upon seeing that Dimal was holding a black 0.9 mm pistol amidst
people lying bloody on the ground. Thus:

[COURT:]

Q: You said you are a classifier, what is the work of a classifier?

[VILLADOR]

A: We classify the kinds of palay, Your Honor.

Q: Where are you working as a classifier?

A: Jaylord Dimal, Your Honor.

Q: And where is the place of the business of Jaylord Dimal?


A: Junction Ipil at the former compound of Felix Gumpal, Your Honor.

Q: How long have you been a classifier of Jaylord Dimal?

A: It is already two (2) years that every cropping he calls for me to classify, Your Honor.

Q: On September 6, 2010, are (sic) you still a classifier in the business of Jaylord Dimal.

A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: Where were you on that date?

A: In the compound of Jaylord, Your Honor.

Q: In the afternoon of that date, do you know of any person who went to the place of businessman Dimal?

A: Yes, Your Honor.

Q: Who are they?

A: Lucio, Rosemarie and Gemma, Your Honor.

xxxx

Q: Do you know their purpose of going to the place of Jaylord Dimal?

A: They were supposed to collect payment of the palay that Jay lord asked me to gather, Your Honor?

Q: And where are those palay that Jaylord asked you to gather?

A: I was the one discarding the sacks of palay in the bodega of Jaylord, Your Honor.

Q: Who owns these palay that you are discarding?

A: Owned by Lucio and Rosemarie Pua, Your Honor.

Q: And why were they taken to the place of Jaylord Dimal?

A: They asked me to classify those palay and by agreement of Jaylord and the Pua's I discarded the palay in the bodega of Jaylord,
Your Honor.

Q: Do you know how many cavans?

xxxx

A: 1,600 sacks, Your Honor.

Q: And where are they now those sacks of palay?

A: They are in the bodega or warehouse, Your Honor.

Q: Are those sacks of palay still there up to now?

A: Yes, Your Honor, they are still there.

Q: What happened in the afternoon of September 6, 2010 when Lucio and Rosemarie and Gemma was (sic) there in the house
or place of Jaylord Dimal?

A: Jaylord Dimal went out from his house and he called for the three and went inside the house, Your Honor.

Q: What happened next, if any?

A: Jaylord called me up but I was already in our house and I was busy giving wages to my laborers, when he summoned me
to go to his house, "Kuya punta ka sandali dito," meaning "Kuya, please come here for a while."

Q: And did you go to the place of Jaylord?

A: Yes, Your Honor, I rode my motorcycle and went to the place.


Q: And what happened next?

A: When I arrived at the gate he asked me to enter the compound with my motorcycle, Your Honor.

Q: What happened next?

A: I asked him, "Bakit Boss?" meaning, "Why, Boss?"

Q: What happened next?

A: He answered, "Kuya yung mga tao patay na baka pwedeng patulong." Meaning "Kuya the people are already dead please
help?

Q: What did you see from Jaylord [Dimal] when he told you the people were already dead? A: I saw him holding a black .9mm
pistol and when I saw the people lying bloody on the ground, I told him "Sir, hindi ko kaya", meaning "I cannot do it.

Q: How may times have you seen that gun which he was holding on that day September 6, 2010?

A: That night when he called for me, Your Honor.

Q: After the September 6, 2010 incident, have you went (sic) back to the place of Dimal.

A: No more, Your Honor.

Q: What are the things did you see (sic) when Dimal called for you and told you that these persons were already dead?

A: I saw these people lying on the ground bloody and they are already dead and I said, "hindi ko kaya", meaning "I cannot do
it" and he replied, "Sige sibat ka na," meaning "okay, just go."

Q: So, it is (sic) still possible that the gun held by Dimal is still in his house?

A: I think so that is still in his house because he keep (sic) it in one place, Your Honor.

Q: And you said he keep (sic) it in one place are you familiar where he is keeping it?

A: What I usually see, he placed it under the table where the laptop is and there drawers in it, Your Honor. 28

Records clearly show that Judge Ong personally examined under oath applicant P/Insp. Malixi and his witnesses, Edwin, Shaira Mae
and Villador, whose collective testimonies would prompt a reasonably discreet person to believe that the crime of kidnapping with
murder was committed at the Felix GumpaL Compound on September 6, 2010, and that specific personal properti'es sought in
connection with the crime could be found in the said place sought to be searched.

As to petitioners' claim that the judge did not ask anymore searching questions after statements were made by Villador, the Court
29

finds that searching and probing questions were indeed propounded by Judge Ong, and that there is no more necessity to ask Villador
to describe the position and state of the lifeless bodies, and the specific place in the compound where the bodies were lying. Villador
could not have been expected to take a closer look into the bloody bodies on the ground because Dimal was then holding a pistol, and
told him to leave if he cannot help. Petitioners would do well to bear in mind that, absent a showing to the contrary, it is presumed that a
judicial function has been regularly performed. The judge has the prerogative to give his own judgment on the application of the search
30

warrant by his own evaluation of the evidence presented before him. The Court cannot substitute its own judgment to that of the judge,
31

unless the latter disregarded facts before him/her or ignored the clear dictates of reason. 32

Petitioners submit that the search warrant is also void for failing to identify with particularity the place to be searched and the items to
be seized. They· assert that Felix Gumpal Compound consists of a very large area, consisting of two houses, one nipa hut, two external
bathrooms, one garage, one warehouse utilized as a palay depot, and one warehouse utilized to store a palay drying machinery. They
likewise claim that all the items actually seized were either not among those listed in the warrant or were seized in violation of the "plain
view doctrine". Insisting that the search warrant was procured in violation of the Constitution and the Rules of Court, petitioners posit
that all the items seized in Dimal's compound are "fruits of the poisonous tree" and inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

Contrary to petitioners' submission, the search warrant issued by Judge Ong identified with particularity the place to be searched,
namely; (1) the house of Jaylord Dimal and (2) the palay warehouse in the premises of the Felix Gumpal Compound at Ipil Junction,
Echague, Isabela. This is evident from the Search Warrant issued by the judge, which reads:

The undersigned Presiding Judge personally examined in the form of questions and answers in writing and under oath, the applicant
Police Senior Inspector Roy Michael S. Malixi and the witnesses, namely: Edison Pua, Shaira Mae Eugenio, and Ernesto Villador, who
all collaborated to the fact of death of Lucio Pua, Rosemarie Pua and Gemma Eugenio in Echague, Isabela. That witness Edison Pua
went to the house of Jaylord Dimal after the commission of the crime and was able to see the blood-stained clothes of the victims:

1) Lucio Pua's clothes; and

2) [Rosemarie] Pua's clothes;

On the part of Shaira Mae Eugenio, she testified that before her mother Gemma Eugenio left her house, she wore faded pink long
sleeves jacket and black T-shirt, and brought with her a shoulder bag and two (2) cellphones which are probably in the house of
Jaylord Dimal. In the case of Ernesto Villador, he testified that he saw Jay lord Dimal holding a 9mm caliber pistol and testified that he
usually keep said firearm under the computer table or drawers. He likewise testify (sic) that there were 1600 sacks of palay sold by the
victims and brought to the Felix Gum pal Compound.

With the testimony of said witnesses and their Sinumpaang Salaysay and deposition of witness, it would readily show that there is
probable cause to believe that in the house, particularly the Felix Gumpal Compound of Jaylord Dimal located at Ipil Junction,
Echague, Isabela, said items, to wit: blood-stained clothes of the victims, 1600 sacks of palay inside the warehouse in the Felix
Gumpal Compound and 9mm cal. pistol are found.

The said Application for Search Warrant was filed before this Court due to compelling reasons for security and confidentiality purposes,
considering that possibility of leakages of information once the application for search warrant is filed with the court within the area
having territorial jurisdiction over it.

In view thereof, you are hereby commanded to search at any time of the day or night the premises of Felix Gum pal Compound
located at lpil Junction, Echague, Isabela, and forthwith seize and take possession of thefollowing properties: blood-stained clothes of
Rosemarie Pua, Lucio Pua, and Gemma Eugenio, either to take the 1,600 sacks of palay or just photograph the same, and the 9mm
caliber pistol, and to bring the said articles to the custody of the Provincial Director of Isabela at the Provincial Police Office of Isabela
under custodia legis, to be dealt with according to law. 33

A description of a place to be searched is sufficient if the officer with the warrant can ascertain and identify with reasonable effort the
place intended, and distinguish it from other places in the community. A designation that points out the place to be searched to the
34

exclusion of all others, and on inquiry unerringly leads the peace officers to it, satisfies the constitutional requirement of
definiteness. To the Court's view, the above-quoted search warrant sufficiently describes the place to be searched with manifest
35

intention that the search be confined strictly to the place described. At any rate, petitioners cannot be heard to decry irregularity in the
conduct of the search of the premises of the Felix Gumpal Compound because, as aptly ruled by the RTC, a Certification of Orderly
Search was issued by the barangay officials, and the presumption of regularity in the performance of public duty was not sufficiently
contradicted by petitioners.

Moreover, the objection as to the particularity of the place to be searched was belatedly raised in petitioners' motion for reconsideration
of the Order denying their Omnibus Motion to quash. The Court has consistently ruled that the omnibus motion rule under Section 8,
Rule 15 is applicable to motion to quash search warrants. In Abuan v. People, it was held that "the motion to quash the search
36 37 38

warrant which the accused may file shall be governed by the omnibus motion rule, provided, however, that objections not available,
existent or known during the proceedings for the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the hearing of the motion to suppress."
Accordingly, the trial court could only take cognizance of an issue that was not raised in a motion to quash if (1) said issue was not
available or existent when they filed the motion to quash the search warrant; or (2) the issue was one involving jurisdiction over the
subject matter. Because petitioners' objection as to the particularity of the place to be searched was available when they filed their
39

omnibus motion to quash, and there being no jurisdictional issue raised, their objection is deemed waived.

Meanwhile, a search warrant may be said to particularly describe the things to be seized (1) when the description therein is as specific
as the circumstances will ordinarily allow; or (2) when the description expresses a conclusion of fact - not of law by which the warrant
officer may be guided in making the search and seizure; (3) and when the things to be described are limited to those which bear direct
relation to the offenses for which the warrant is being issued. The purpose for this requirement is to limit the articles to be seized only
40

to those particularly described in the search warrant in order to leave the officers of the law with no discretion regarding what items they
shall seize, to the end that no unreasonable searches and seizures will be committed. 41

In Vallejo v. Court of Appeals, the Court clarified that technical precision of description is not required. "It is only necessary that there
42

be reasonable particularity and certainty as to the identity of the property to be searched for and seized, so that the warrant shall not be
a mere roving commission. Indeed, the law does not require that the things to be seized must be described in precise and minute detail
as to leave no room for doubt on the part of the searching authorities. If this were the rule, it would be virtually impossible for the
applicants to obtain a warrant as they would not know exactly what kind of things to look for." 43

Under American jurisprudence which has persuasive effect in this jurisdiction, the degree of specificity required in a search warrant's
description of the items to be searched for and seized is flexible and will vary depending on the crime involved and the types of items
sought. A description is said to be valid if it is as specific as the circumstances and the nature of the activity under investigation will
44

permit. But if the circumstances make an exact description of the property to be seized a virtual impossibility, the searching officer can
only be expected to describe the generic class of the items sought. The practical guide to determine whether a specific search warrant
meets the particularity requirement is for the court to inquire if the officer reading the description in the warrant would reasonably know
what items to be seized. 45

In Search Warrant No. 10-11, only two things were particularly described and sought to be seized in connection with the special
complex crime of kidnapping with murder, namely: (1) blood-stained clothes of Gemma Eugenio consisting of a faded pink long sleeves
jacket and a black tshirt, and (2) a 0.9mm caliber pistol. Having no direct relation to the said crime, the 1,600 sacks of palay that were
supposedly sold by the victims to Dimal and found in his warehouse, cannot be a proper subject of a search warrant because they do
not fall under the personal properties stated under Section 3 of Rule 126, to wit: (a) subject of the offense; (b) stolen or embezzled and
other proceeds or fruits of the offense; or (c) those used or intended to be used as the means of committing an offense, can be the
proper subject of a search warrant.

In fine, the CA committed no reversible error in upholding the denial of the Omnibus Motion to quash because all the
Constitutional and procedural requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are still present, namely: (1) probable cause; (2) such
46 47

probable cause must be determined personally by the judge; (3) the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation, the
complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant and the witnesses testify on the facts personally known to
them; and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be seized. 48

Despite the fact that the issuance of Search Warrant No. 10-11 is valid, petitioners are correct that most items listed in the Return on
the Search Warrant are inadmissible in evidence. Since only 2 items were particularly described on the face of the search warrant,
namely: (1) the blood-stained clothes of Gemma Eugenio consisting of faded pink long sleeves jacket and black t-shirt; and (2) the 0.9
mm caliber pistol, the Court declares that only two articles under the Return on the Search Warrant are admissible in evidence as they
could be the blood-stained clothes of Gemma subject of the warrant:

c. One (1) Black T-Shirt with suspected blood stain (Mark as E-26 with JAM markings)
d. One (1) Black T-Shirt with red lining with suspected blood stain (Mark as E-15 with JAM markings)

It bears stressing that the application for search warrant particularly described the victims' blood-stained clothes as follows: (1)
Rosemarie Pua's green inner garment with black blazer and brownish pedal pants; (2) Lucio Pua's black shorts and pink polo shirt; and
(3) Gemma Eugenio's maong pants, faded pink long sleeves jacket, and black striped t-shirt. Considering that only Gemma's clothes
were described in Search Warrant No. 10-11 as specific as the circumstances will allow, the Court is constrained to hold as
inadequately described the blood-stained clothes of Lucio and Rosemarie. Without the aid of the applicant's witnesses who are familiar
with the victims' personal belongings, any other warrant officer, like P/Insp. Macadangdang who served the search warrant, will surely
be unable to identify the blood-stained clothes of Lucio and Rosemarie by sheer reliance on the face of such warrant.

The Court could have rendered a favorable ruling if the application for search warrant and supporting affidavits were incorporated by
reference in Search Warrant No. 10-11, so as to enable the warrant officer to identify the specific clothes sought to be searched. This is
because under American jurisprudence, an otherwise overbroad warrant will comply with the particularity requirement when the affidavit
filed in support of the warrant is physically attached to it, and the warrant expressly refers to the affidavit and incorporates it with
suitable words of reference. Conversely, a warrant which lacks any description of the items to be seized is defective and is not cured by
a description in the warrant application which is not referenced in the warrant and not provided to the subject of the search. 49

The Court further declares that the following items are inadmissible as they do not bear any direct relation to the 3 items particularly
described in Search Warrant No. 10-11:

a. Extracted suspected Blood stain (Mark as E-24 with JAM markings)

b. Extracted suspected Blood stain (Mark as E-25 with JAM markings)

xxxx

e. One (1) Bra color brown (tiger) (Mark as E-14 with JAM markings)

f. One (1) cell phone spare part (mark as E-16 with JAM markings)

g. One (1) cell phone spare part (mark as E-17 with JAM markings)

h. Palay husk with suspected blood stain (mark as E-28 with JAM markings)

i. Suspected blood stain (mark as E-25-A with JAM markings)

With respect to the items under Return on the Search Warrant indicated as "articles recovered/seized in plain view during the conduct
of the search," it is well settled that objects falling in plain view of an officer who has a right to be in a position to have that view are
subject to seizure even without a search warrant and may be introduced in evidence. 50

For the "plain view doctrine" to apply, it is required that the following requisites are present: (a) the law enforcement officer in search of
the evidence has a prior justification for an intrusion or is in a position from which he can view a particular area; (b) the discovery of
evidence in plain view is inadvertent; and (c) it is immediately apparent to the officer that the item he observes may be evidence of a
crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure. As explained in People v. Salanguit:
51 52

What the 'plain view' cases have in common is that the police officer in each of them had a prior justification for an intrusion in the
course of which he came inadvertently across a piece of evidence incriminating the accused. The doctrine serves to supplement the
prior justification-whether it be a warrant for another object, hot pursuit, search incident to a lawful-arrest, or some other legitimate
reason for being present unconnected with a search directed against the accused-and permits the warrantless seizure. Of course, the
extension of the original justification is legitimate only where it is immediately apparent to the police that they have evidence before
them; the 'plain view' doctrine may not be used to extend a general exploratory search from one object to another until something
incriminating at last emerges.

The first requisite of the "plain view doctrine" is present in this case because the seizing officer, P/Insp. Macadangdang, has a prior
justification for an intrusion into the premises of the Felix Gumpal Compound, for he had to conduct the search pursuant to a valid
warrant. However, the second and third requisites are absent, as there is nothing in the records to prove that the other items not
particularly described in the search warrant were open to eye and hand, and that their discovery was unintentional.

In fact, out of the 2 items particularly described in the search warrant, only the 2 black t-shirts with suspected blood stain possibly
belonging to Gemma were retrieved, but the 9mm caliber pistol was not found. It is also not clear in this case at what instance were the
items supposedly seized in plain view were confiscated in relation to the seizure of Gemma's bloodstained clothes - whether prior to,
contemporaneous with or subsequent to such seizure. Bearing in mind that once the valid portion of the search warrant has been
executed, the "plain view doctrine" can no longer provide any basis for admitting the other items subsequently found, the Court rules
53

that the recovery of the items seized in plain view, which could have been made after the seizure of Gemma's clothes, are invalid.

It is also not immediately apparent to the officer that, except for the Alien Certificates of Registration of Lucio and Rosemarie, the BDO
Passbook in the name of Lucio, and the live ammo of caliber 22 (marked as E-29 with JAM markings), the following items may be
evidence of a crime, contraband or otherwise subject to seizure:

a. One (1) pc torn cloth (Mark as E-1 with JAM markings)

b. One (1) pc tom cloth (Mark as E-2 with JAM markings)

c. One (1) pc tom cloth (Mark as E-3 with JAM markings)

d. One (1) pc spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-4 with JAM markings)
e. One (1) bag pack color black (Mark as E-5 with JAM markings)

f. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-6 with JAM markings)

g. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-7 with JAM markings)

h. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-8 with JAM markings)

i. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-9 with JAM markings)

j. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-10 with JAM markings)

k. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-11 with JAM markings)

l. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-12 with JAM markings)

m. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-13 with JAM markings)

xxxx

o. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Mark as E-18 with JAM markings)

p. One (1) piece gold-plated earring (mark as E-19 with JAM markings)

q. Suspected human hair (mark as E-20 with JAM markings)

r. A piece of embroider[ed] cloth (mark as E-22 with JAM markings)

s. Three (3) burned Tire wires (mark as E-23 with JAM markings)

t. One (1) empty plastic bottle of Gleam muriatic acid (mark as E-27 with JAM markings)

xxxx

v. One (1) color white t-shirt (mark as E-30 with JAM markings)

It bears emphasis that the "immediately apparent" test does not require an unduly high degree of certainty as to the incriminating
character of the evidence, but only that the seizure be presumptively reasonable, assuming that there is a probable cause to associate
the property with a criminal activity. In view thereof, the 10 pieces of spent shell of calibre 0.22 ammo cannot be admitted in evidence
54

because they can hardly be used in a 9mm caliber pistol specified in the search warrant, and possession of such spent shells are not
illegal per se. Likewise, the following items supposedly seized under plain view cannot be admitted because possession thereof is not
inherently unlawful: (a) 3 tom cloths; (b) black bag pack; (c) a piece of goldplated earing; (d) a suspected human hair; (e) a piece of
embroidered cloth; (f) 3 burned tire wires; (g) empty plastic of muriatic acid; and (h) white t-shirt.

Notwithstanding the inadmissibility in evidence of the items listed above, the Court sustains the validity of Search Warrant No. 10-11
and the admissibility of the items seized which were particularly described in the warrant. This is in line with the principles under
American jurisprudence: (1) that the seizure of goods not described in the warrant does not render the whole seizure illegal, and the
seizure is illegal only as to those things which was unlawful to seize; and (2) the fact that the officers, after making a legal search and
seizure under the warrant, illegally made a search and seizure of other property not within the warrant does not invalidate the first
search and seizure. To be sure, a search warrant is not a sweeping authority empowering a raiding party to undertake a fishing
55

expedition to confiscate any and all kinds of evidence or articles relating to a crime. Objects taken which were not specified in the
56

search warrant should be restored to the person from whom they were unlawfully seized.
57

Although the Alien Certificates of Registration of Lucio and Rosemarie and the BDO Passbook in the name of Lucio are inadmissible in
evidence, for not having been seized in accordance with the "plain view doctrine," these personal belongings should be returned to the
heirs of the respective victims. Anent the live ammo of caliber 0.22 (marked as E-29 with JAM markings), which could not have been
used in a 0.9mm caliber pistol, the same shall remain in custodia legis pending the outcome of a criminal case that may be later filed
against petitioner Dimal. In Alih v. Castro, it was held that even if the search of petitioners' premises was violative of the Constitution
58

and the firearms and ammunition taken therefrom are inadmissible in evidence, pending determination of the legality of said articles
they can be ordered to remain in custodia legis subject to appropriate disposition as the corresponding court may direct in the criminal
proceedings that have been or may thereafter be filed against petitioners.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review on certiorari is PARTLY GRANTED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated
August 27, 2014 in CA-G.R. SP No. 128355 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION to declare that the following properties seized under
Search Warrant No. 10-11 are inadmissible in evidence for neither having been particularly described in the search warrant nor seized
under the "plain view doctrine":

1. Extracted suspected Blood stain (Marked as E-24 with JAM markings)

2. Extracted suspected Blood stain (Marked as E-25 with JAM markings)

3. One (1) Bra color brown (tiger) (Marked as E-14 with JAM markings)

4. One (1) cell phone spare part (marked as E-16 with JAM markings)
5. One (1) cell phone spare part (marked as E-17 with JAM markings)

6. Palay husk with suspected blood stain (marked as E-28 with JAM markings)

7. Suspected blood stain (marked as E-25-A with JAM markings)

8. One (1) pc tom cloth (Marked as E-1 with JAM markings)

9. One (1) pc tom cloth (Marked as E-2 with JAM markings)

10. One (1) pc tom cloth (Marked as E-3 with JAM markings)

11. One (1) pc spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-4 with JAM markings)

12. One (1) bag pack color black (Marked as E-5 with JAM markings)

13. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-6 with JAM markings)

14. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-7 with JAM markings)

15. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-8 with JAM markings)

16. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-9 with JAM markings)

17. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-10 with JAM markings)

18. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-11 with JAM markings)

19. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-12 with JAM markings)

20. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-13 with JAM markings)

21. Two (2) Alien Certificate of Registration of Lucio Pua and Rosemarie Pua, and One (1) BDO Passbook in the name of Lucio Pua
(mark as E-15 with JAM markings)

22. One spent shell of caliber 22 (Marked as E-18 with JAM markings)

23. One (1) piece gold-plated earring (marked as E-19 with JAM markings)

24. Suspected human hair (marked as E-20 with JAM markings)

25. A piece of embroider[ed] cloth (marked as E-22 with JAM markings)

26. Three (3) burned Tire wires (marked as E-23 with JAM markings)

27. One (1) empty plastic bottle of Gleam muriatic acid (marked as E-27 with JAM markings)

28. One (1) live ammo of caliber 22 (marked as E-29 with JAM markings)

29. One (1) color white t-shirt (marked as E-30 with JAM markings)

Moreover, the two (2) Alien Certificates of Registration of Lucio Pua and Rosemarie Pua, and One (1) BDO Passbook in the name of
Lucio Pua are directed to be returned to the respective heirs of said victims, while the live ammo of caliber 0.22 (marked as E-29 with
JAM markings) shall remain in custodia legis pending the outcome of the criminal case that may be filed against petitioner Jaylord
Dimal.

SO ORDERED.

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Acting Chief Justice
Chairperson

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE ALFREDO BENJAMIN S. CAGUIOA


Associate Justice Associate Justice
ANDRES B. REYES, JR.
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to the Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Acting Chief Justice

Footnotes

Acting Chief Justice per Special Order No. 2539 dated February 28, 2018.
*

1
Penned by Associate Justice Socorro B. Inting, with Associate Justices Jose C. Reyes, Jr. and Mario V. Lopez
concurring; rollo, pp. 44-50.

2
Id. at 52-53.

3
Presided by Judge Aurora A. Hernandez-Calledo; id. at 94-102.

4
Rollo, pp. 54-55.

5
Id.

6
Id. at 80-81.

7
Id. at 82-83, 136-138.

8
Id. at 84-93.

9
The names of the 2 victims in the other Informations are Rosemarie P. Pua (Chinese name: Juhua Pan) and Gemma
Eugenio y Estrada.

10
Id.

11
Id.

12
Rollo, pp. 126-129. (Emphasis ours)

13
Id. at 94-102.

14
Supra note 1.

15
Id at 49-50.

With the enactment of R.A. No. 9346, entitled "An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines," which
16

prohibits the imposition of the death penalty, such penalty is reduced to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.

17
466 Phil. 324, 384-385 (2004), citing People v. Ramos, 357 Phil. 559 (1998), and People v. Mercado, 400 Phil. 37 (2000).

18
Id. at 385-387. (Italics in the original; emphasis added; citations omitted)

19
Rollo, p. 59.

20
Columbia Pictures, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 329 Phil. 875, 928 ( 1996).

21
680 Phil. 447, 457-458 (2012).

22
G.R. No. 208137, June 8, 2016, 792 SCRA 623.

23
Id. at 631-632.

24
Rollo, pp. 58-61. (Emphasis added)

25
Id. at 63-66. (Emphasis added)
26
Id. at 69. (Emphasis added)

27
Id. at 125. Motion for Reconsideration dated October 16, 2012, p. 17

28
Id. at 71-78. (Emphasis ours)

29
Rollo, p. 120. Motion for Reconsideration October 16, 2012, p. 18.

30
Section 3, Rule 131 of the Rules of Court.

31
Oebanda v. People, supra note 22, at 642.

32
Microsoft Corporation v. Maxicorp, Inc. 481 Phil. 550, 563 (2004).

33
Rollo, pp. 80-81. (Emphasis and underscoring added on the particular place to be searched and things to seized,
respectively)

34
SPO4 Laud (Ret.) v. People, 747 Phil. 503, 522-523 (2014).

35
Del Castillo v. People, 680 Phil. 447, 458 (2012).

Section 8. Omnibus Motion.-Subject to the provisions of section I of Rule 9, a motion attacking a pleading, order, judgment or
36

proceeding shall include all objections then available, and all objections not so included shall be deemed waived.

37
Pilipinas Shell Corporation v. Romars International Gases Corporation, 753 Phil. 707, 716 (2015).

38
536 Phil. 672, 692 (2006).

39
Pilipinas Shell Corporation v. Romars International Gases Corporation, supra note 37.

40
SP04 Laud (Ret.) v. People, supra, at 525, citing Bache and Co. (Phil.) Inc. v. Judge Ruiz, 147 Phil. 794, 811 (1971).

41
Microsoft Corporation v. Maxicorp, inc., supra note 32, at 568-569.

42
471 Phil. 670 (2004).

43
Id. at 687.

44
68 Am Jur 2d, §222 (2000)

45
Id.

46
Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and
effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no such
search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined by the judge after examination
under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place be
searched and the persons or things to be seized.

47
Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure: Sec. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. - A search warrant shall
not issue except upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the
place to be searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in the Philippines.

Sec. 5. Examination of complainant; record. - The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of
searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the witnesses he may produce on facts
personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements, together with the affidavits submitted.

Del Castillo v. People, supra note 35, at 456; People v. Castillo, Sr., G.R. No. 204419, November 7, 2016, 807 SCRA 77, 87-
48

88.

49
68 Am Jur 2d §223 Searches and Seizures (2000).

50
Miclat, Jr. v. People, 672 Phil. 191, 206 (2011).

54
United Laboratories, Inc. v. Isip, 500 Phil. 342, 363 (2005).

55
79 C.J.S. Searches and Seizures §83.

56
People v. Nunez, 609 Phil. 176, 187 (2009).

57
ld..
58
235 Phil. 270, 278 (1987).

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

APRIL 3, 2018

G.R. No. 215305

MARCELO G. SALUDAY, Petitioner


vs
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari assailing the Decision dated 26 June 2014 and the Resolution dated, 15
1

October 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 01099. The Court of Appeals affirmed with modification the Sentence dated
2

15 September 2011 rendered by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11, Davao City in Criminal CaseNo. 65, 734-09, finding petitioner
3

Marcelo G. Saluday (petitioner) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of high-powered firearm, ammunition, and
explosive under Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended (PD 1866).
4

The Antecedent Facts

On 5 May 2009, Bus No. 66 of Davao Metro Shuttle was flagged down by Task Force Davao of the Philippine Army at a checkpoint
near the Tefasco Wharf in Ilang, Davao City. SCAA Junbert M. Buco (Buco), a member of the Task Force, requested all male
passengers to disembark from the vehicle while allowing the female passengers to remain inside. He then boarded the bus to check the
presence and intercept the entry of any contraband, illegal firearms or explosives, and suspicious individuals.

SCAA Buco checked all the baggage and personal effects of the passengers, but a small, gray-black pack bag on the seat at the rear of
the bus caught his attention. He lifted the bag and found it too heavy for its small size. SCAA Buco then looked at the male passengers
lined outside and noticed that a man in a white shirt (later identified as petitioner) kept peeping through the window towards the
direction of the bag. Afterwards, SCAA Buco asked who the owner of the bag was, to which the bus conductor answered that petitioner
and his brother were the ones seated at the back. SCAA Buco then requested petitioner to board the bus and open the bag. Petitioner
obliged and the bag revealed the following contents: (1) an improvised .30 caliber carbine bearing serial number 64702; (2) one
magazine with three live ammunitions; (3) one cacao-type hand grenade; and (4) a ten-inch hunting knife. SCAA Buco then asked
petitioner to produce proof of his authority to carry firearms and explosives. Unable to show any, petitioner was immediately arrested
and informed of his rights by SCAA Buco.

Petitioner was then brought for inquest before the Office of the City Prosecutor for Davao City. In its Resolution dated 7 May 2009, the
5

latter found probable cause to charge him with illegal possession of high-powered firearm, ammunition, and explosive under PD l 866.
The Information dated 8 May 2009 thus reads:

That on or about May 5, 2009, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
mentioned accused, willfully, unlawfully and knowingly, with intent to possess, had in his possession and under his custody an
improvised high powered firearm caliber .30 carbine bearing Serial No. 64702 (made in Spain) with one (1) magazine loaded with three
(3) live ammunitions and one (1) "'cacao" type hand grenade explosive, without first securing the necessary license to possess the
same.

CONTRARY TO LAW. 6

When arraigned, petitioner pleaded not guilty.

During the trial, the prosecution presented two witnesses namely, NUP Daniel Tabura (Tabura), a representative of the Firearms and
Explosives Division of the Philippine National Police, and SCAA Buco. NUP Tabura identified the Certification dated 5 November
2009 attesting that petitioner was "not a licensed/registered holder of any kind and caliber per verification from records." Meanwhile,
7

SCAA Buco identified petitioner and the items seized from the bag, and testified on the details of the routine inspection leading to the
immediate arrest of petitioner. On cross-examination, SCAA Buco further elaborated on the search conducted:

Atty. Mamburam

Q And that check point, which was conducted along llang [R)oad,

Davao City, was by virtue of a memorandum?

A Yes, Your Honor.

xxxx
Q Now, you said that at around 5:00 of said date, you were able to intercept a Metro Shuttle passenger bus and you requested all
passengers to alight?

A Yes.

Q passengers were left inside?

A Yes, Your Honor.

Q And, after all passengers were able to alight, you checked all cargoes of the passengers in the bus?

A Yes.

xxxx

Q And, you testified that one of those things inside the bus was a black gray colored pack bag which was placed at the back portion of
the bus?

A Yes.

Q You said that the hag was heavy?

A Yes.

Q And you picked up or carried also the other belongings or cargo[e]s inside the bus and that was the only thing or item inside the bus
which was heavy. Is that correct?

A There were many bags and they were heavy. When l asked who is the owner of the bag because it was heavy but the bag was
small. when I asked, he said the content of the bag was a cellphone. But 1 noticed that it was heavy.

xxxx

Q And you said that somebody admitted ownership of the bag. Is that correct?

A Yes.

Q Who admitted ownership of the bag?

A (WITNESS POINTS TO THE ACCUSED)

Q Now, you said that while you are looking at the bag, you noticed that one male passenger you pointed as the accused kept looking
at you'?

A Yes.

Q And, aside from the accused, all the other male passengers were not looking at you?

A The other passengers were on the ground but he was in front of [the] window looking towards his bag.

xxxx

Q And the accused admitted that he owned the bag, you requested him to open the bag'?

A Not yet. I let him board the bus and asked him if he can open it.

Q And, when he opened it?

A I saw the handle of the firearm. (Emphasis supplied)


8

On the other hand, the defense presented petitioner as sole witness. On direct examination, petitioner denied ownership of the bag.
However, he also admitted to answering SCAA Buco when asked about its contents and allowing SCAA Buco to open it after the latter
sought for his permission:

ATTY. MAMBURAM

Q x xx After the conductor of the bus told the member of the task force that you and your brother were seated at the back of the bus.
can you please tell us what happened next'?

A The member of the task force asked who is the owner of the bag and what were the contents of the bag.
Q To whom did the member of the task force address that question?

A To me because I was pointed to by the conductor.

Q And what was your reply to the question of the member of the task force?

A I told him it was only a cellphone.

Q By the way, Mr. Witness, who owned that bag?

A My elder brother.

Q And why did you make a reply to the question of the member of the task force when, in fact, you were not the owner of the bag?

A Because I was pointed to by the conductor that it was me and my brother who were seated at the back.

xxxx

Q Now, after you told the member of the task force that probably the content of the bag was cellphone, what happened next?

A He asked if he can open it.

Q And what was your reply?

A I told him yes, just open it.

xx xx

Q Now, you said that the owner of the bag and the one who carried that bag was your brother, what is the name of your brother?

A Roger Saluday.

Q Where is your brother Roger now?

A Roger is already dead. He died in September 2009. (Emphasis supplied)


9

On cross-examination, petitioner clarified that only he was pointed at by the conductor when the latter was asked who owned the bag.
Petitioner also admitted that he never disclosed he was with his brother when he boarded the bus:

PROS. VELASCO

Q You said that you panicked because they pulled you but as a way of saving yourself considering you don't own the bag> did you not
volunteer to inform them that [the] bag was owned by your brother?

A I told them I have a companion but I did not tell them that it was my brother because I was also afraid of my brother.

Q So, in short, Mr. Witness, you did not actually inform them that you had a brother at that time when you were boarding that
bus, correct?

A No, sir, I did not.

xxxx

Q So, you were answering all questions by saying it is not your bag but you confirm now that it was the conductor of that bus who
pointed you as the owner of the bag, correct?

A Yes, sir, the conductor pointed at me as the one who [sic] seated at the back. 10
(Emphasis supplied)

The defense subsequently rested its case and the prosecution waived the right to present rebuttal evidence. Upon order from the trial
court, the parties submitted their respective memoranda.

The Decision of the Trial Court

Finding the denials of petitioner as self-serving and weak, the trial court declared him to be in actual or constructive possession of
firearm and explosive without authority or license. Consequently, in the dispositive portion of the Sentence dated 15 September 2011,
petitioner was adjudged guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of firearm, ammunition, and explosive under PD 1866:

WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding Marcelo Gigbalen Saluday GUILTY of illegal
possession of high powered firearm, ammunition and explosive. For the offense of illegal possession of high powered firearm and
ammunition, he is hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of prision mayor in its minimum period. He is likewise ordered to pay a
fine of ₱30,000.00. For the offense of illegal possession of explosive, he is hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of prision
mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal. He is likewise ordered to pay a fine of ₱50,000.00.
xxxx

SO ORDERED. 11

On 12 October 2011, petitioner timely filed his Notice of Appeal. 12

The Decision of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, petitioner challenged his conviction raising as grounds the alleged misappreciation of evidence by the trial court and the
supposed illegality of the search. On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) argued that the warrantless search was
13

valid being a consented search, and that the factual findings of the trial court can no longer be disturbed. 14

In its Decision dated 26 June 2014, the Court of Appeals sustained the conviction of petitioner and affirmed the ruling of the trial court
with modification:

WHEREFORE. the instant appeal is DISMISSED. The Sentence dated September 15, 2011 of the Regional Trial Court, 11 th Judicial
Region, Branch 11, Davao City, in Criminal Case No. 65, 734-09, finding Marcelo Gigbalen Saluday guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
illegal possession of high powered firearm, ammunition and explosive is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that:

(1) for the offense of illegal possession of high-powered firearm and ammunition, he is imposed an indeterminate sentence of four (4)
years, eight (8) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision correccional maximum, as the minimum term, to seven (7) years and one
(1) day of prision mayor minimum, as the maximum term, in addition to the fine of Thirty thousand pesos (₱30,000.00); and

(2) for the offense of illegal possession of explosive, he is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for
parole.

SO ORDERED. 15

Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration, to which the OSG filed its Comment. In its Resolution dated 15 October 2014,
16 17 18
the
Court of Appeals denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration for being pro forma. Hence, petitioner filed this Petition for Review
on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.

The Issue

Petitioner assails the appreciation of evidence by the trial court and the Court of Appeals as to warrant his conviction for the offenses
charged.

The Ruling of this Court

We affirm.

Only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. As a result, the Court, on
19

appeal, is not duty-bound to weigh and sift through the evidence presented during trial. Further, factual findings of the trial court, when
20

affirmed by the Court of Appeals, are accorded great respect, even finality. 21

Here, petitioner assails his conviction for illegal possession of high-powered firearm and ammunition under PD 1866, and illegal
possession of explosive under the same law. The elements of both offenses are as follows: (1) existence of the firearm, ammunition or
explosive; (2) ownership or possession of the firearm, ammunition or explosive; and (3) lack of license to own or possess. As regards
22

the second and third elements, the Corn1: of Appeals concurred with the trial court that petitioner was in actual or constructive
possession of a high-powered firearm, ammunition, and explosive without the requisite authority. The Decision dated 26 June 2014
reads in pertinent part:

In the present case, the prosecution proved the negative fact that appellant has no license or permit to own or possess the firearm,
ammunition and explosive by presenting NUP Daniel Tab[u]ra (Tab[u]ra), a representative of the Firearms and Explosives Division
(FED) of the PNP. He identified the Certification issued by the Chief. Records Section. FED of the PNP, stating that appellant "is not a
licensed/registered holder of any kind and caliber per verification from records of this office."

Appellant, however, questions the competence of Tab[u]ra to testify on the veracity or truthfulness of the Ce1tification. He claims that
the officer who issued it should have been the one presented so he would not be denied the right to confront and cross-examine the
witnesses against him.

There is no merit to petitioner's claim. The following is pertinent:

xxxx

The Court on several occasions ruled that either the testimony of a representative of, or a certification from, the Philippine National
Police (PNP) Firearms and Explosive Office attesting that a person is not a licensee of any firearm would suffice to prove beyond
reasonable doubt the second element of possession of illegal firearms. The prosecution more than complied when it presented both.

xxxx

Also, appellant denies having physical or constructive possession of the firearms, ammunition and explosive. However, his denial flies
in the face of the following testimonies which he himself made:

xxxx
Appellant gave information, albeit misleading, on the contents of the bag. He even allowed the police officer to open it. Based on his
actuations, there could be no doubt that he owned the bag containing the firearm, ammunition and explosive.

Shifting the blame to his dead brother is very easy for appellant to fabricate. Besides, the allegation that his brother owned the bag is
uncorroborated and self-serving. 23

As above-quoted, the presence of the second and third elements of illegal possession of firearm, ammunition, and explosive raises
questions of fact. Considering further that the Court of Appeals merely echoed the factual findings of the trial court, the Court finds no
reason to disturb them.

As regards the first element, petitioner corroborates the testimony of SCAA Buco on four important points: one, that petitioner was a
passenger of the bus flagged down on 5 May 2009 at a military checkpoint in Ilang, Davao City; two, that SCAA Buco boarded and
searched the bus; three, that the bus conductor pointed at petitioner as the owner of a small, gray-black pack bag on the back seat of
the bus; and four, that the same bag contained a .30-caliber firearm with one magazine loaded who three live ammunitions, and a hand
grenade. Notably, petitioner does not challenge the chain of custody over the seized items. Rather, he merely raises a pure question of
law and argues that they are inadmissible on the ground that the search conducted by Task Force Davao was illegal.

The Court disagrees.

Section 2, Article Ill of the Constitution, which was patterned after the Fourth Amendment to the United States (U.S.)
Constitution, reads:
24

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures
of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable
cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he
may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. (Emphasis supplied)

Indeed, the constitutional guarantee is not a blanket prohibition. Rather, it operates against "unreasonable" searches and seizures
only.25

Conversely, when a search is "reasonable," Section 2, Article HI of the Constitution does not apply. As to what qualifies as a
reasonable search, the pronouncements of the U.S. Supreme Court, which are doctrinal in this jurisdiction, may shed light on the
26

matter.

In the seminal case of Katz v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the electronic surveillance of a phone conversation
27

without a warrant violated the Fourth Amendment. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, what the Fourth Amendment protects are
people, not places such that what a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his or her own home or office, is not a subject of
Fourth Amendment protection in much the same way that what he or she seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to
the public, may be constitutionally protected, thus:

Because of the misleading way the issues have been formulated, the parties have attached great significance to the characterization of
the telephone booth from which the petitioner placed his calls. The petitioner has strenuously argued that the booth was a
"constitutionally protected area." The Government has maintained with equal vigor that it was not. But this effo1i to decide whether or
not a given "area,'' viewed in the abstract, is "constitutionally protected" deflects attention from the problem presented by this case. For
the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is
not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection. See Lewis v. United States, 385 U.S. 206, 210; United States v. Lee, 274 U.S. 559, 563.
But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected. See Rios
v. United States, 364 U.S. 253; £:y; parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727, 733. (Emphasis supplied)
28

Further, Justice John Harlan laid down in his concurring opinion the two-part test that would trigger the application of the Fourth
Amendment. First, a person exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy. Second, the expectation is one that society is
29

prepared to recognize as reasonable (objective). 30

The prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure ultimately stems from a person's right to privacy. Hence, only when the State
intrudes into a person's expectation of privacy, which society regards as reasonable, is the Fourth Amendment triggered. Conversely,
where a person does not have an expectation of privacy or one's expectation of privacy is not reasonable to society, the alleged State
intrusion is not a "search" within the protection of the Fourth Amendment.

A survey of Philippine case law would reveal the same jurisprudential reasoning. To illustrate, in People v. Johnson, the Court
31

declared airport searches as outside the protection of the search and seizure clause due to the lack of an expectation of privacy that
society will regard as reasonable:

Persons may lose the protection of the search and seizure clause by exposure of their persons or property to the public in a manner
reflecting a lack of subjective expectation of privacy, which expectation society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. Such
recognition is implicit in airport security procedures. With increased concern over airplane hijacking and terrorism has come increased
security at the nation's airports. Passengers attempting to board an aircraft routinely pass through metal detectors; their carry-on
baggage as well as checked luggage are routinely subjected to x-ray scans. Should these procedures suggest the presence of
suspicious objects. physical searches are conducted to determine what the objects are. There is little question that such searches are
reasonable, given their minimal intrusiveness, the gravity of the safety interests involved, and the reduced privacy expectations
associated with airline travel. Indeed, travelers are often notified through airport public address systems, signs. and notices in their
airline tickets that they are subject to search and, if any prohibited materials or substances are found, such would be subject to seizure.
These announcements place passengers on notice that ordinary constitutional protections against warrantless searches and seizures
do not apply to routine airport procedures. (Citations omitted)
32

Similarly, in Dela Cruz v. People, the Court described seaport searches as reasonable searches on the ground that the safety of the
33

traveling public overrides a person's right to privacy:


Routine baggage inspections conducted by port authorities, although done without search warrants, are not unreasonable searches per
se. Constitutional provisions protecting privacy should not be so literally understood so as to deny reasonable safeguards to ensure the
safety of the traveling public.

xxxx

Thus, with port security personnel's functions having the color of state-related functions and deemed agents of government, Marti is
inapplicable in the present case. Nevertheless, searches pursuant to port security measures are not unreasonable per se. The security
measures of x-ray scanning and inspection in domestic ports are akin to routine security procedures in airports.

xxxx

Port authorities were acting within their duties and functions when [they] used x-ray scanning machines for inspection of passengers'
bags. When the results of the x-ray scan revealed the existence of firearms in the bag, the port authorities had probable cause to
conduct u search of petitioner's bag. Notably, petitioner did not contest the results of the x-ray scan. 34

In People v. Breis, the Court also justified a bus search owing to the reduced expectation of privacy of the riding public:
35

Unlike the officer in Chan Fook, IO1 Mangili did not exceed his authority in the performance of his duty. Prior to Breis' resistance, IO1
Mangili laid nary a finger on Breis or Yurnol. Neither did his presence in the bus constitute an excess of authority. The bus is public
transportation, and is open to the public. The expectation of privacy in relation to the constitutional right against unreasonable searches
in a public bus is not the same as that in a person's dwelling. In fact, at that point in time, only the bus was being searched, not Yumol,
Breis, or their belongings, and the search of moving vehicles has been upheld. 36

Indeed, the reasonableness of a person's expectation of privacy must be determined on a case-to-case basis since it depends on the
factual circumstances surrounding the case. Other factors such as customs, physical surroundings and practices of a particular activity
37

may diminish this expectation. In Fortune Express, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, a common carrier was held civilly liable for the death of a
38 39

passenger due to the hostile acts of armed men who boarded and subsequently seized the bus. The Could held that "simple
precautionary measures to protect the safety of passengers, such as frisking passengers and inspecting their baggages, preferably with
non-intrusive gadgets such as metal detectors, before allowing them on board could have been employed without violating the
passenger's constitutional rights." In Costabella Corp. v. Court of Appeals, a compulsory right of way was found improper for the
40 41

failure of the owners of the dominant estate to allege that the passageway they sought to be re-opened was at a point least prejudicial
to the owner of the servient estate. The Court thus explained, ''[c]onsidering that the petitioner operates a hotel and beach resort in its
property, it must undeniably maintain a strict standard of security within its premises. Otherwise, the convenience, privacy, and safety of
its clients and patrons would be compromised." Similarly, shopping malls install metal detectors and body scanners, and require bag
42

inspection as a requisite for entry. Needless to say, any security lapse on the part of the mall owner can compromise public safety.

Concededly, a bus, a hotel and beach resort, and a shopping mall are all private property whose owners have every right to exclude
anyone from entering. At the same time, however, because these private premises are accessible to the public, the State, much like the
owner, can impose non-intrusive security measures and filter those going in. The only difference in the imposition of security measures
by an owner and the State is, the former emanates from the attributes of ownership under Article 429 of the Civil Code, while the latter
stems from the exercise of police power for the promotion of public safety. Necessad1y, a person's expectation of privacy is diminished
whenever he or she enters private premises that arc accessible to the public.

In view of the foregoing, the bus inspection conducted by Task Force Davao at a military checkpoint constitutes a reasonable search.
Bus No. 66 of Davao Metro Shuttle was a vehicle of public transportation where passengers have a reduced expectation of privacy.
Further, SCAA Buco merely lifted petitioner's bag. This visual and minimally intrusive inspection was even less than the standard x-ray
and physical inspections done at the airport and seaport terminals where passengers may further be required to open their bags and
luggages. Considering the reasonableness of the bus search, Section 2, Article III of the Constitution finds no application, thereby
precluding the necessity for a warrant.

As regards the warrantless inspection of petitioner's bag, the OSG argues that petitioner consented to the search) thereby making the
seized items admissible in evidence. Petitioner contends otherwise and insists that his failure to object cannot be construed as an
43

implied waiver.

Petitioner is wrong.

Doubtless, the constitutional immunity against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right, which may be
waived. However, to be valid, the consent must be voluntary such that it is unequivocal, specific, and intelligently given,
44

uncontaminated by any duress or coercion. Relevant to this determination of voluntariness are the following characteristics of the
45

person giving consent and the environment in which consent is given: (a) the age of the consenting party; (b) whether he or she was in
a public or secluded location; (c) whether he or she objected to the search or passively looked on; (d) his or her education and
46

intelligence; (e) the presence of coercive police procedures; (f) the belief that no incriminating evidence will be found; (g) the nature of
47

the police questioning; (h) the environment in which the questioning took place; and (i) the possibly vulnerable subjective state of the
person consenting. 48

In Asuncion v. Court of Appeals, the apprehending officers sought the permission of petitioner to search the car, to which the latter
49

agreed. According to the Court, petitioner himself freely gave his consent to the search. In People v. Montilla, the Court found the
50

accused to have spontaneously performed affirmative acts of volition by opening the bag without being forced or intimidated to do so,
which acts amounted to a clear waiver of his right. In People v. Omaweng, the police officers asked the accused if they could see the
51

contents of his bag, to which the accused said "you can see the contents but those are only clothings." The policemen then asked if
they could open and see it, and the accused answered "you can see it." The Court held there was a valid consented search.

Similarly in this case, petitioner consented to the baggage inspection done by SCAA Buco. When SCAA Buco asked if he could open
petitioner's bag, petitioner answered ''yes, just open if' based on petitioner's own testimony. This is clear consent by petitioner to the
search of the contents of his bag. In its Decision dated 26 June 2014, the Court of Appeals aptly held:
A waiver was found in People v. Omaweng. There, the police officers asked the accused if they could see the contents of his bag and
he answered "you can see the contents but those are only clothings.'' When asked if they could open and see it, he said "you can see
it." In the present case, accused-appellant told the member of the task force that "it was only a cellphone" when asked who owns the
bag and what are its contents. When asked by the member of the task force if he could open it, accused-appellant told him "yes, just
open it." Hence, as in Omaweng, there was a waiver of accused-appellants right against warrantless search. 52

To emphasize, a reasonable search, on the one hand, and a warrantless search, on the other, are mutually exclusive. While both State
intrusions are valid even without a warrant, the underlying reasons for the absence of a warrant are different. A reasonable search
arises from a reduced expectation of privacy, for which reason Section 2, Article III of the Constitution finds no application. Examples
include searches done at airports, seaports, bus terminals, malls, and similar public ·places. In contrast, a warrantless search is
presumably an "unreasonable search," but for reasons of practicality, a search warrant can be dispensed with. Examples include
search incidental to a lawful arrest, search of evidence in plain view, consented search, and extensive search of a private moving
vehicle.

Further, in the conduct of bus searches, the Court Jays down the following guidelines. Prior to entry, passengers and their bags and
1âwphi1

luggages can be subjected to a routine inspection akin to airport and seaport security protocol. In this regard, metal detectors and x-ray
scanning machines can be installed at bus terminals. Passengers can also be frisked. In lieu of electronic scanners, passengers can be
required instead to open their bags and luggages for inspection, which inspection must be made in the passenger's presence. Should
the passenger object, he or she can validly be refused entry into the terminal.

While in transit, a bus can still be searched by government agents or the security personnel of the bus owner in the following three
instances. First, upon receipt of information that a passenger carries contraband or illegal articles, the bus where the passenger is
aboard can be stopped en route to allow for an inspection of the person and his or her effects. This is no different from an airplane that
is forced to land upon receipt of information about the contraband or illegal articles carried by a passenger onboard. Second, whenever
a bus picks passengers en route, the prospective passenger can be frisked and his or her bag or luggage be subjected to the same
routine inspection by government agents or private security personnel as though the person boarded the bus at the terminal. This is
because unlike an airplane, a bus is able to stop and pick passengers along the way, making it possible for these passengers to evade
the routine search at the bus terminal. Third, a bus can be flagged down at designated military or police checkpoints where State
agents can board the vehicle for a routine inspection of the passengers and their bags or luggages.

In both situations, the inspection of passengers and their effects prior to entry at the bus terminal and the search of the bus while in
transit must also satisfy the following conditions to qualify as a valid reasonable search. First, as to the manner of the search, it must be
the least intrusive and must uphold the dignity of the person or persons being searched, minimizing, if not altogether eradicating, any
cause for public embarrassment, humiliation or ridicule. Second, neither can the search result from any discriminatory motive such as
insidious profiling, stereotyping and other similar motives. In all instances, the fundamental rights of vulnerable identities, persons with
disabilities, children and other similar groups should be protected. Third, as to the purpose of the search, it must be confined to
ensuring public safety. Fourth, as to the evidence seized from the reasonable search, courts must be convinced that precautionary
measures were in place to ensure that no evidence was planted against the accused.

The search of persons in a public place is valid because the safety of others may be put at risk. Given the present circumstances, the
Court takes judicial notice that public transport buses and their terminals, just like passenger ships and seaports, are in that category.

Aside from public transport buses, any moving vehicle that similarly accepts passengers at the terminal and along its route is likewise
covered by these guidelines. Hence, whenever compliant with these guidelines, a routine inspection at the terminal or of the vehicle
itself while in transit constitutes a reasonable search. Otherwise, the intrusion becomes unreasonable, thereby triggering the
constitutional guarantee under Section 2, Article III of the Constitution.

To emphasize, the guidelines do not apply to privately-owned cars. Neither are they applicable to moving vehicles dedicated for private
or personal use, as in the case of taxis, which are hired by only one or a group of passengers such that the vehicle can no longer be
flagged down by any other person unti1 the passengers on board alight from the vehicle.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated 26 June 2014 and the Resolution dated 15 October 2014 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 01099 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Acting Chief Justice

WE CONCUR:

(on leave)
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO *

Chief Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. PERALTA LUCAS P. BERSAMIN


Associate Justice Associate Justice

(on wellness leave)


MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE *

Associate Justice
Associate Justice
(no part)
MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
FRANCIS H. JARDELEZA *

Associate Justice
Associate Justice

ALFREDO BENJAMIN S. CAGUIOA SAMUEL R. MARTIRES


Associate Justice Associate Justice

(on wellness leave)


NOEL GIMENEZ TIJAM
ANDRES B. REYES, JR. *

Associate Justice
Associate Justice

ALEXANDER G. GESMUNDO
Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to the Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Acting Chief Justice

Footnotes

On leave.
*

**
Acting Chief Justice.

***
On wellness leave.

****
No part.

*****
On wellness leave,

1
Rollo, pp. 25-34, Penned by Associate Justice Edgardo T. Lloren. with Associate Justices Edward B. Contreras and Rafael
Antonio M. Santos concurring.

2
Id. at 41-42,

3
CA rollo, pp. 22-25. Penned by Judge Virginia Hofileña Europa.

4
Entitled "Codifying the Laws on Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing in. Acquisition or Disposition, of Firearms,
Ammunition or Explosives or Instruments Used in the Manufacture of Firearms, Ammunition or Explosives, and Imposing
Stiffer Penalties for Certain Violations Thereof and for Relevant Purposes." Effective 29 June 1983.

5
Records, pp. 2-3.

6
Id. at 1.

7
Exhihit "F,'' Folder of Exhibits. p. 2.

8
TSN, 11 November 1009. pp. 14-16.

9
TSN, 22 March 2010. pp. 5-6, 8.

10
TSN, 22 March 2010. p. 10.

11
CA rollo. pp. 24-25.

12
Id. at 8.

13
Id. at 15-19.

14
Id. at 46-60.

15
Rollo, pp. 33-34.
16
Id. at 35-39.

17
CA rollo, pp. 87-90.

18
Rollo, pp. 41-42.

19
Section I, Rule 45, Rules of Court.

20
Jose v. People, 479 Phil. 969, 978 (2004).

21
De la Cruz v. Court Appeals, 333 Phil. 126, 135 (1996). See also Castillo v. Court of Appeals, 329 Phil. 150, 158-159
(1996); Navallo v. Sandiganbayan, 304 Phil. 343, 354 (1994); People v. Cabalhin, 301 Phil. 494, 504 (1994).

22
People v Dela Cru:::, 400 Phil. 872. 879-880 (2000), citing People i'. Bergmue. 350 Phil. 275, 291 (1998).

23
Rollo, pp. 28-3 l.

24
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures. shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (Emphasis
supplied)

25
People v. Aruta, 351 Phil. 868, 878 (1998).

26
People v. Marti, 271 Phil. 51, 57 ( 1991).

27
389 U.S. 347 (1967).

28
Id. at 351.

29
Id. at 361.

30
Id.

31
401 Phil. 734 (2000).

32
Id. at 743.

33
776 Phil. 653 (2016).

34
Id. at 661, 681, 683-684 .

35
766 Phil. 785 (2015).

36
Id. at 812 .

37
Sps. Hing v. Choachuy, Sr., 712 Phil. 337, 350 (2013).

38
Ople v. Torres, 354 Phil. 948. 981 (1998).

39
364 Phil. 480 (1999).

40
Id. at 490.

41
271 Phil. 350 (1991).

42
Id. at 359.

43
Rollo, pp. 108-110.

44
Caba11es v. Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 263, 286 (2002).

45
Id., citing 68 Am Jur 2d Searches and Seizures, § 135.

46
Id., citing United States v. Barahona, 990 F. 2d 412.

47
Id., citing United States v. Lopez, 911 F. 2d 1006.

48
Id., citing United States v. Nafzger. 965 F. 2d 213.
49
362 Phil. l 18, 127 ( 1999).

50
349 Phil. 640, 661 (1998).

51
288 Phil. 350, 358-359 ( 1992).

52
Rollo. p. 32.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-46000 May 25, 1939

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
JOSE M. BAES, appellant.

Crispin Oben for appellant.


Guillermo B. Guevarra for defendants-appellees.
No appearance for plaintiff-appellee.

CONCEPCION, J.:

This appeal was given due course by the Court of First Instance of Laguna by virtue of a writ of mandamus issued by this court in G.R.
No. 45780. The facts are the following: In the justice of the peace court of the municipality of Lumban, Province of Laguna, a complaint
was filed of the following tenor:

The undersigned Parish Priest of the Roman Catholic Church in the parish and municipality of Lumban, Province of Laguna,
upon being duly sworn, charges Enrique Villaroca, Alejandro Lacbay and Bernardo del Rosario with an offense against religion
committed as follows:

That on April 14, 1937, at about 9 o'clock a.m., in this municipality of Lumban, Province of Laguna, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this court, the aforesaid accused, while holding the funeral of one who in life was called
Antonio Macabigtas, in accordance with the rites of religious sect known as the "Church of Christ", willfully,
unlawfully, and criminally caused the funeral to pass, as it in fact passed, through the chruchyard fronting the Roman
Catholic Church, which churchyard belongs to the said Church, which churchyard belongs to the said Church and is
devoted to the religious worship thereof, against the opposition of the undersigned complainant who, through force
and threats of physical violence by the accused, was compelled to allow the funeral to pass through the said
churchyard. An act committed in grave profanation of the place, in open disregard of the religious feelings of the
Catholics of this municipality, and in violation of article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.

(Sgd.) JOSE M.A. BAES


Parish Priest
Complainant

(Here follow the affidavit and the list of witnesses.)

The accused pleaded not guilty and waived the preliminary investigation. Before the case was remanded to the Court of First Instance
of Laguna, the complainant filed a sworn statement regarding other points so that the provincial fiscal may have full knowledge of the
facts and of the witnesses who could testify thereon. Upon the remand of the case to the court, the fiscal, instead of filing the
corresponding information, put in the following motion for dismissal:

The complainant is the parish priest of the Roman Catholic Church of Lumban, Laguna. The said priest charges the accused
with having caused, through force, intimidation and threats, the funeral of one belonging to the Church of Christ to pass
through the churchyard of the Church. Apparently, the offense consists in that the corpse was that of one who belonged to the
Church of Christ.

The undersigned is of the opinion that the fact act imputed to the accused does not constitute the offense complained of
considering the spirit of article 133 of the Revised Penal Code. At most they might be chargeable with having threatened the
parish priest, or with having passed through a private property without the consent of the owner. Justice Albert, commenting
on the article, has this to say: "An act is said to be notoriously offensive to the religious feelings of the faithful when a person
ridicules or makes light of anything constituting a religious dogma; works or scoffs at anything devoted to religious ceremonies;
plays with or damages or destroys any object of veneration by the faithful." The mere act of causing the passage through the
churchyard belonging to the Church, of the funeral of one who in life belonged to the Church of Christ, neither offends nor
ridicules the religious feelings of those who belong to the Roman Catholic Church.

Sustaining the foregoing motion, the court by an order of August 31, 1937, dismissed the case, reserving, however, to the fiscal the
right to file another information for the crime found to have been committed by the accused.

From this order, the plaintiff appealed, which appeal was denied but thereafter given due course by the court by virtue of an order of
this court.
The appealed order is based upon the motion to dismiss filed by the fiscal. This officer questions the sufficiency of the fac ts alleged in
the complaint, but omits an essential part thereof, to wit, that the churchyard belongs to the church, and is devoted to the religious
services of said church, and it is through this churchyard that the accused, over the objection of the parish priest and through force and
intimidation, caused to pass the funeral of one under the rites of the religious sect known as the Church of Christ. Had the fiscal not
omitted this essential part, he would not have come to the conclusion that the acts complained of do not constitute the crime defined
and penalized by article 133 of the Revised Penal Code.

Moreover, the fiscal, in his aforesaid motion, denies that the unlawful act committed by the accused had offended the religious feelings
of the Catholics of the municipality in which the act complained of took place. We believe that such ground of the motion is indefensible.
As the fiscal was discussing the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the complaint, he cannot deny any of them, but must admit them,
although hypothetically, as they are alleged. The motion raises a question of law, not one of fact. In the second place, whether or of the
act complained of is offensive to the religious feelings of the Catholics, is a question of fact which must be judged only according to the
feelings of the Catholics and not those of other faithful ones, for it is possible that certain acts may offend the feelings of those who
profess a certain religion, while not otherwise offensive to the feelings of those professing another faith. We, therefore, take the view
that the facts alleged in the complaint constitute the offense defined and penalized in article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, and should
the fiscal file an information alleging the said facts and a trial be thereafter held at which the said facts should be conclusively
established, the court may find the accused guilty of the offense complained of, or that of coercion, or that of trespass under article 281
of the Revised Penal Code, as may be proper, pursuant to section 29 of General Orders, No. 58.

The appealed order is reversed and the fiscal is ordered to comply with his duty under the law, without pronouncement as to the costs.
So ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Villa-Real, and Diaz, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

MORAN, J., concurring:

I concur in the dispositive part on the ground that the lower court, without determining if the churchyard of the Catholic Church is a
place devoted to religious worship or not, held that the passage through the said churchyard of a funeral conducted in accordance with
the rites of another religion is not offensive to the feelings of the Catholic. If that funeral with ceremonies of another religion had been
made to pass inside the church, it would without question be offensive top the feelings of the Catholics. The lower court, through the
provincial fiscal, is thus under a duty to determine: (1) If the churchyard is a place devoted to the religious worship of the Catholic
Church, and (2) if the funeral held under the rites of another religion was made to pass through the said churchyard.

If the churchyard of the Catholic Church is like some of those seen in Manila churches where anyone can pass and where goods are
even sold to the public, then it is not a place devoted to religious worship, and the fact that a funeral to pass through it, does not
constitute a violation of article 133 of the Revised Penal Code, but, at most, the offense of threats if it is true that the parish priest was
threatened when he prohibited the passage of the funeral.

LAUREL, J., dissenting:

I dissent.

It is an accepted doctrine of construction that criminal statutes must be strictly interpreted. In fact, no person should be brought within
the terms of the penal law who is not clearly so within, and no acts should be pronounced criminal unless so defined and penalized by
law. The offense imputed to the defendants herein is defined in article 133 which is as follows:

ART. 133. Offending religious feelings. — The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its
minimum period shall be imposed upon anyone who, in a place devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any
religious ceremony, shall perform acts notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful.

As defined, two essential elements must be present under this article, to wit: (1) That the facts complained of were performed in a place
devoted to religious worship or during the celebration of any religious ceremony; and (2) that the said act or acts must be notoriously
offensive to the feelings of the faithful. It is admitted that the whole incident happened in the "atrio" or "patio" of the Catholic Church of
Lumban, Laguna. There was no celebration of any religious ceremony then. The "atrio" coming from the Latin "atrium" means, an open
space, generally closed, fronting a building or a church. In this case it is a churchyard. While occasional religious ceremonies may be
performed in the "atrio", nevertheless this does not make the "atrio" a place devoted to religious worship under article 133 of the
Revised Penal Code, any more than a public plaza, a street or any other place occasionally used for religious purposes. But assuming
that the churchyard in this case is "a place devoted to religious worship" — contrary to what we see and know (Justice Brown, in
Hunter vs. New York O. & W. Ry. Co., 23 N.E., 9, 10; 116 N.Y., 615) — is the act complained of "notoriously offensive to the feelings of
the faithful?" The imputed dereliction consist in that "los acusados arriba nombrados, estando dirigiendo el entierro segun el rito de una
secta religiosa llamada "Iglesia de Cristo", del cadaver de uno que en vida se llamada Antonio Macabigtas, voluntaria, ilegal y
criminalmente hicieron que dicho entierro pasase, como en efecto paso, por el a trio de la Iglesia Catholica Romana frente a dicha
Iglesia, el cual a trio es propiedad de dicha Iglesia y esta dedicado a los cultos religiosos de esta Iglesia y esta dedicado a los cultos
religiosos deesta Iglesia, contra la oposicion del infrascrito denunciantea quien los acusados mediante fuerza y amenazas de maltrato
obligaron a cederles el paso del entierro por dicho atrio." (Emphasis is mine.) As I see it the only act which is alleged to have offended
the religious "feelings of the faithful" here is that of passing by the defendants through the "atrio" of the church under the circumstances
mentioned. I make no reference to the alleged trespass committed by the defendants or the threats imputed to them because these
acts constitute different offenses (arts. 280, 281 and 282-285) and do not fall within the purview of article 133 of the Revised Penal
Code. I believe that an act, in order to be considered as notoriously offensive to the religious feelings, must be one directed against
religious practice or dogma or ritual for the purpose of ridicule; the offender, for instance, mocks, scoffs at or attempts to damage an
object of religious veneration; it must be abusive, insulting and obnoxious (Viada, Comentarios al Codigo Penal, 707, 708; vide
also Pacheco, Codigo Penal, p. 359).
Why, may I ask, should the mere act of passing of the corpse or funeral cortege in or through a private property be characterized as
notoriously offensive to the feelings of any religion or of its adherent or followers?

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord. (Job. I. 21.)

In this case, the Lord has recalled the life of one of His creatures: and it must be His wish that the remains shall have the right
of way that they may be buried "somewhere, in desolate, wind-swept space, in twilight land, in no man's land but in
everybody's land.

Rather than too many religions that will make us hate one another because of religious prejudices and intolerance, may I express the
hope that we may grasp and imbibe the one fundamental of all religions that should make us love one another!

I must decline to accept the statement made in the majority opinion that "whether or not the act complained of is offensive to the
religious feelings of the Catholics, is a question of fact which must be judged only according to the feelings of the Catholics and not
those of other faithful ones, for it is possible that certain acts may offend the feelings of those who profess a certain religion, while not
otherwise offensive to the feelings of those professing another faith." (Emphasis is mine.) I express the opinion that offense to religious
feelings should not be made to depend upon the more or less broad or narrow conception of any given particular religion, but should be
gauged having in view the nature of the acts committed and after scrutiny of all the facts and circumstance which should be viewed
through the mirror of an unbiased judicial criterion .Otherwise, the gravity or leniency of the offense would hinge on the subjective
characterization of the act from the point of view of a given religious denomination or sect, and in such a case, the application of the law
would be partial and arbitrary, withal, dangerous, especially in a country said to be "once the scene of religious intolerance and
persecution." (Aglipay vs. Ruiz, 35 Off. Gaz., 2164.)

I think that the ruling of the lower court in ordering the dismissal of the case and in reserving to the provincial fiscal the presentation of
another complaint or complaints under other provisions of the Revised Penal Code, is correct and should be upheld.

IMPERIAL, J.:

I concur in the preceding dissenting opinion of Justice Laurel.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. Nos. 172070-72 June 1, 2007

VICENTE P. LADLAD, NATHANAEL S. SANTIAGO, RANDALL B. ECHANIS, and REY CLARO C. CASAMBRE,Petitioners,
vs.
SENIOR STATE PROSECUTOR EMMANUEL Y. VELASCO, SENIOR STATE PROSECUTOR JOSELITA C. MENDOZA, SENIOR
STATE PROSECUTOR AILEEN MARIE S. GUTIERREZ, STATE PROSECUTOR IRWIN A. MARAYA, and STATE PROSECUTOR
MERBA A. WAGA, in their capacity as members of the Department of Justice panel of prosecutors investigating I.S. Nos.
2006-225, 2006-226 and 2006-234, JUSTICE SECRETARY RAUL M. GONZALEZ, DIRECTOR GENERAL ARTURO C. LOMIBAO,
in his capacity as Chief, Philippine National Police, P/CSUPT. RODOLFO B. MENDOZA, JR., and P/SUPT. YOLANDA G.
TANIGUE, Respondents.

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

G.R. Nos. 172074-76 June 1, 2007

LIZA L. MAZA, JOEL G. VIRADOR, SATURNINO C. OCAMPO, TEODORO A. CASIÑO, CRISPIN B. BELTRAN, and RAFAEL V.
MARIANO, Petitioners,
vs.
RAUL M. GONZALEZ, in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Justice, JOVENCITO R. ZUÑO, in his capacity as Chief
State Prosecutor, the Panel of Investigating Prosecutors composed of EMMANUEL Y. VELASCO, JOSELITA C. MENDOZA,
AILEEN MARIE S. GUTIERREZ, IRWIN A. MARAYA and MERBA A. WAGA (Panel), RODOLFO B. MENDOZA, in his capacity as
Acting Deputy Director, Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), YOLANDA G. TANIGUE, in her
capacity as Acting Executive Officer of DIDM, the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DOJ), and the PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
(PNP), Respondents.

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

G.R. No. 175013 June 1, 2007

CRISPIN B. BELTRAN, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, SECRETARY RAUL M. GONZALEZ, in his capacity as the Secretary of Justice and overall
superior of the Public Prosecutors, HONORABLE ENCARNACION JAJA G. MOYA, in her capacity as Presiding Judge of
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 146, and HONORABLE ELMO M. ALAMEDA, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of
Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 150,Respondents.

DECISION
CARPIO, J.:

The Case

These are consolidated petitions for the writs of prohibition and certiorari to enjoin petitioners’ prosecution for Rebellion and to set aside
the rulings of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Regional Trial Court of Makati City (RTC Makati) on the investigation and
prosecution of petitioners’ cases.

The Facts

Petitioner in G.R. No. 175013, Crispin B. Beltran (Beltran), and petitioners in G.R. Nos. 172074-76, Liza L. Maza (Maza), Joel G.
Virador (Virador), Saturnino C. Ocampo (Ocampo), Teodoro A. Casiño (Casiño), and Rafael V. Mariano (Mariano),1 are members of the
House of Representatives representing various party-list groups.2Petitioners in G.R. Nos. 172070-72 are private individuals. Petitioners
all face charges for Rebellion under Article 134 in relation to Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code in two criminal cases pending with
the RTC Makati.

G.R. No. 175013 (The Beltran Petition)

Following the issuance by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 on 24 February 2006 declaring a
"State of National Emergency," police officers 3 arrested Beltran on 25 February 2006, while he was en route to Marilao, Bulacan, and
detained him in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Beltran was arrested without a warrant and the arresting officers did not inform Beltran of
the crime for which he was arrested. On that evening, Beltran was subjected to an inquest at the Quezon City Hall of Justice for Inciting
to Sedition under Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code based on a speech Beltran allegedly gave during a rally in Quezon City on 24
February 2006, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution. The inquest was based on the joint affidavit of Beltran’s
arresting officers who claimed to have been present at the rally. The inquest prosecutor4indicted Beltran and filed the corresponding
Information with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City (MeTC). 5

The authorities brought back Beltran to Camp Crame where, on 27 February 2006, he was subjected to a second inquest, with 1 st Lt.
Lawrence San Juan (San Juan), this time for Rebellion. A panel of State prosecutors 6 from the DOJ conducted this second inquest. The
inquest was based on two letters, both dated 27 February 2006, of Yolanda Tanigue (Tanigue) and of Rodolfo Mendoza (Mendoza).
Tanigue is the Acting Executive Officer of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Philippine National Police (PNP),
while Mendoza is the Acting Deputy Director of the CIDG. The letters referred to the DOJ for appropriate action the results of the
CIDG’s investigation implicating Beltran, the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 172074-76, San Juan, and several others as "leaders and
promoters" of an alleged foiled plot to overthrow the Arroyo government. The plot was supposed to be carried out jointly by members of
the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Makabayang Kawal ng Pilipinas (MKP), which have formed a "tactical alliance."

On 27 February 2006, the DOJ panel of prosecutors issued a Resolution finding probable cause to indict Beltran and San Juan as
"leaders/promoters" of Rebellion. The panel then filed an Information with the RTC Makati. The Information alleged that Beltran, San
Juan, and other individuals "conspiring and confederating with each other, x x x, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously
form a tactical alliance between the CPP/NPA, renamed as Partidong Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) and its armed regular members as
Katipunan ng Anak ng Bayan (KAB) with the Makabayang Kawal ng Pilipinas (MKP) and thereby rise publicly and take up arms against
the duly constituted government, x x x."7 The Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 06-452, was raffled to Branch 137 under
Presiding Judge Jenny Lind R. Aldecoa-Delorino (Judge Delorino).

Beltran moved that Branch 137 make a judicial determination of probable cause against him. 8 Before the motion could be resolved,
Judge Delorino recused herself from the case which was re-raffled to Branch 146 under Judge Encarnacion Jaja-Moya (Judge Moya).

In its Order dated 31 May 2006, Branch 146 sustained the finding of probable cause against Beltran. 9 Beltran sought reconsideration
but Judge Moya also inhibited herself from the case without resolving Beltran’s motion. Judge Elmo M. Alameda of Branch 150, to
whom the case was re-raffled, issued an Order on 29 August 2006 denying Beltran’s motion.

Hence, the petition in G.R. No. 175013 to set aside the Orders dated 31 May 2006 and 29 August 2006 and to enjoin Beltran’s
prosecution.

In his Comment to the petition, the Solicitor General claims that Beltran’s inquest for Rebellion was valid and that the RTC Makati
correctly found probable cause to try Beltran for such felony.

G.R. Nos. 172070-72 and 172074-76 (The Maza and Ladlad Petitions)

Based on Tanigue and Mendoza’s letters, the DOJ sent subpoenas to petitioners on 6 March 2006 requiring them to appear at the DOJ
Office on 13 March 2006 "to get copies of the complaint and its attachment." Prior to their receipt of the subpoenas, petitioners had
quartered themselves inside the House of Representatives building for fear of being subjected to warrantless arrest.

During the preliminary investigation on 13 March 2006, the counsel for the CIDG presented a masked man, later identified as Jaime
Fuentes (Fuentes), who claimed to be an eyewitness against petitioners. Fuentes subscribed to his affidavit before respondent
prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco who then gave copies of the affidavit to media members present during the proceedings. The panel of
prosecutors10 gave petitioners 10 days within which to file their counter-affidavits. Petitioners were furnished the complete copies of
documents supporting the CIDG’s letters only on 17 March 2006.

Petitioners moved for the inhibition of the members of the prosecution panel for lack of impartiality and independence, considering the
political milieu under which petitioners were investigated, the statements that the President and the Secretary of Justice made to the
media regarding petitioners’ case,11 and the manner in which the prosecution panel conducted the preliminary investigation. The DOJ
panel of prosecutors denied petitioners’ motion on 22 March 2006. Petitioners sought reconsideration and additionally prayed for the
dismissal of the cases. However, the panel of prosecutors denied petitioners’ motions on 4 April 2006.

Petitioners now seek the nullification of the DOJ Orders of 22 March 2006 and 4 April 2006.
Acting on petitioners’ prayer for the issuance of an injunctive writ, the Court issued a status quo order on 5 June 2006. Prior to this,
however, the panel of prosecutors, on 21 April 2006, issued a Resolution finding probable cause to charge petitioners and 46 others
with Rebellion. The prosecutors filed the corresponding Information with Branch 57 of the RTC Makati, docketed as Criminal Case No.
06-944 (later consolidated with Criminal Case No. 06-452 in Branch 146), charging petitioners and their co-accused as "principals,
masterminds, [or] heads" of a Rebellion.12Consequently, the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 172070-72 filed a supplemental petition to enjoin
the prosecution of Criminal Case No. 06-944.

In his separate Comment to the Maza petition, the Solicitor General submits that the preliminary investigation of petitioners was not
tainted with irregularities. The Solicitor General also claims that the filing of Criminal Case No. 06-944 has mooted the Maza petition.

The Issues

The petitions raise the following issues:

1. In G.R. No. 175013, (a) whether the inquest proceeding against Beltran for Rebellion was valid and (b) whether there is probable
cause to indict Beltran for Rebellion; and

2. In G.R. Nos. 172070-72 and 172074-76, whether respondent prosecutors should be enjoined from continuing with the prosecution of
Criminal Case No. 06-944.13

The Ruling of the Court

We find the petitions meritorious. On the Beltran Petition

The Inquest Proceeding against Beltran for Rebellion is Void.

Inquest proceedings are proper only when the accused has been lawfully arrested without warrant. 14 Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure provides the instances when such warrantless arrest may be effected, thus:

Arrest without warrant; when lawful.— A peace officer or a private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:

(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;

(b) When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or
circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and

xxxx

In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) above, the person arrested without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest
police station or jail and shall be proceeded against in accordance with section 7 of Rule 112.

The joint affidavit of Beltran’s arresting officers 15 states that the officers arrested Beltran, without a warrant,16 for Inciting to Sedition, and
not for Rebellion. Thus, the inquest prosecutor could only have conducted – as he did conduct – an inquest for Inciting to Sedition and
no other. Consequently, when another group of prosecutors subjected Beltran to a second inquest proceeding for Rebellion, they
overstepped their authority rendering the second inquest void. None of Beltran’s arresting officers saw Beltran commit, in their
presence, the crime of Rebellion. Nor did they have personal knowledge of facts and circumstances that Beltran had just committed
Rebellion, sufficient to form probable cause to believe that he had committed Rebellion. What these arresting officers alleged in their
affidavit is that they saw and heard Beltran make an allegedly seditious speech on 24 February 2006. 17

Indeed, under DOJ Circular No. 61, dated 21 September 1993, the initial duty of the inquest officer is to determine if the arrest of the
detained person was made "in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 5, Rule 113." 18 If the arrest was not
properly effected, the inquest officer should proceed under Section 9 of Circular No. 61 which provides:

Where Arrest Not Properly Effected.— Should the Inquest Officer find that the arrest was not made in accordance with the Rules, he
shall:

a) recommend the release of the person arrested or detained;

b) note down the disposition on the referral document;

c) prepare a brief memorandum indicating the reasons for the action taken; and

d) forward the same, together with the record of the case, to the City or Provincial Prosecutor for appropriate action.

Where the recommendation for the release of the detained person is approved by the City or Provincial Prosecutor but the evidence on
hand warrant the conduct of a regular preliminary investigation, the order of release shall be served on the officer having custody of
said detainee and shall direct the said officer to serve upon the detainee the subpoena or notice of preliminary investigation, together
with the copies of the charge sheet or complaint, affidavit or sworn statements of the complainant and his witnesses and other
supporting evidence. (Emphasis supplied)

For the failure of Beltran’s panel of inquest prosecutors to comply with Section 7, Rule 112 in relation to Section 5, Rule 113 and DOJ
Circular No. 61, we declare Beltran’s inquest void. 19 Beltran would have been entitled to a preliminary investigation had he not asked
the trial court to make a judicial determination of probable cause, which effectively took the place of such proceeding.

There is No Probable Cause to Indict


Beltran for Rebellion.

Probable cause is the "existence of such facts and circumstances as would excite the belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts
within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the person charged was guilty of the crime for which he was prosecuted." 20 To accord
respect to the discretion granted to the prosecutor and for reasons of practicality, this Court, as a rule, does not interfere with the
prosecutor’s determination of probable cause for otherwise, courts would be swamped with petitions to review the prosecutor’s findings
in such investigations.21 However, in the few exceptional cases where the prosecutor abused his discretion by ignoring a clear
insufficiency of evidence to support a finding of probable cause, thus denying the accused his right to substantive and procedural due
process, we have not hesitated to intervene and exercise our review power under Rule 65 to overturn the prosecutor’s findings. 22 This
exception holds true here.

Rebellion under Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code is committed –

[B]y rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its
laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, or any body of land, naval, or other armed forces or depriving
the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.

The elements of the offense are:

1. That there be a (a) public uprising and (b) taking arms against the Government; and

2. That the purpose of the uprising or movement is either –

(a) to remove from the allegiance to said Government or its laws:

(1) the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof; or

(2) any body of land, naval, or other armed forces; or

(b) to deprive the Chief Executive or Congress, wholly or partially, of any of their powers and prerogatives. 23

Thus, by its nature, rebellion is a crime of the masses or multitudes involving crowd action done in furtherance of a political end. 24

The evidence before the panel of prosecutors who conducted the inquest of Beltran for Rebellion consisted of the affidavits and other
documents25 attached to the CIDG letters. We have gone over these documents and find merit in Beltran’s contention that the same are
insufficient to show probable cause to indict him for Rebellion. The bulk of the documents consists of affidavits, some of which were
sworn before a notary public, executed by members of the military and some civilians. Except for two affidavits, executed by a certain
Ruel Escala (Escala), dated 20 Febuary 2006,26 and Raul Cachuela (Cachuela), dated 23 February 2006, 27 none of the affidavits
mentions Beltran.28 In his affidavit, Escala recounted that in the afternoon of 20 February 2006, he saw Beltran, Ocampo, Casiño, Maza,
Mariano, Virador, and other individuals on board a vehicle which entered a chicken farm in Bucal, Padre Garcia, Batangas and that
after the passengers alighted, they were met by another individual who looked like San Juan. For his part, Cachuela stated that he was
a former member of the CPP and that (1) he attended the CPP’s "10 thPlenum" in 1992 where he saw Beltran; (2) he took part in criminal
activities; and (3) the arms he and the other CPP members used were purchased partly from contributions by Congressional members,
like Beltran, who represent party-list groups affiliated with the CPP.

The allegations in these affidavits are far from the proof needed to indict Beltran for taking part in an armed public uprising against the
government. What these documents prove, at best, is that Beltran was in Bucal, Padre Garcia, Batangas on 20 February 2006 and that
14 years earlier, he was present during the 1992 CPP Plenum. None of the affidavits stated that Beltran committed specific acts of
promoting, maintaining, or heading a rebellion as found in the DOJ Resolution of 27 February 2006. None of the affidavits alleged that
Beltran is a leader of a rebellion. Beltran’s alleged presence during the 1992 CPP Plenum does not automatically make him a leader of
a rebellion.

In fact, Cachuela’s affidavit stated that Beltran attended the 1992 CPP Plenum as "Chairman, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)." Assuming
that Beltran is a member of the CPP, which Beltran does not acknowledge, mere membership in the CPP does not constitute
rebellion.29 As for the alleged funding of the CPP’s military equipment from Beltran’s congressional funds, Cachuela’s affidavit merely
contained a general conclusion without any specific act showing such funding. Cachuela merely alleged that "ang mga ibang mga
pondo namin ay galing sa mga party list na naihalal sa Kongreso tulad ng BAYAN MUNA – pimumunuan nila SATUR OCAMPO at
CRISPIN BELTRAN, x x x."30Such a general conclusion does not establish probable cause.

In his Comment to Beltran’s petition, the Solicitor General points to Fuentes’ affidavit, dated 25 February 2006, 31 as basis for the finding
of probable cause against Beltran as Fuentes provided details in his statement regarding meetings Beltran and the other petitioners
attended in 2005 and 2006 in which plans to overthrow violently the Arroyo government were allegedly discussed, among others.

The claim is untenable. Fuentes’ affidavit was not part of the attachments the CIDG referred to the DOJ on 27 February 2006. Thus, the
panel of inquest prosecutors did not have Fuentes’ affidavit in their possession when they conducted the Rebellion inquest against
Beltran on that day. Indeed, although this affidavit is dated 25 February 2006, the CIDG first presented it only during the preliminary
investigation of the other petitioners on 13 March 2006 during which Fuentes subscribed to his statement before respondent prosecutor
Velasco.

Respondent prosecutors later tried to remedy this fatal defect by motu proprio submitting to Branch 137 of the RTC Makati Fuentes’
affidavit as part of their Comment to Beltran’s motion for judicial determination of probable cause. Such belated submission, a tacit
admission of the dearth of evidence against Beltran during the inquest, does not improve the prosecution’s case. Assuming them to be
true, what the allegations in Fuentes’ affidavit make out is a case for Conspiracy to Commit Rebellion, punishable under Article 136 of
the Revised Penal Code, not Rebellion under Article 134. Attendance in meetings to discuss, among others, plans to bring down a
government is a mere preparatory step to commit the acts constituting Rebellion under Article 134. Even the prosecution acknowledged
this, since the felony charged in the Information against Beltran and San Juan in Criminal Case No. 06-452 is Conspiracy to Commit
Rebellion and not Rebellion. The Information merely alleged that Beltran, San Juan, and others conspired to form a "tactical alliance" to
commit Rebellion. Thus, the RTC Makati erred when it nevertheless found probable cause to try Beltran for Rebellion based on the
evidence before it.

The minutes32 of the 20 February 2006 alleged meeting in Batangas between members of MKP and CPP, including Beltran, also do not
detract from our finding. Nowhere in the minutes was Beltran implicated. While the minutes state that a certain "Cris" attended the
1a\^/phi 1.net

alleged meeting, there is no other evidence on record indicating that "Cris" is Beltran. San Juan, from whom the "flash drive" containing
the so-called minutes was allegedly taken, denies knowing Beltran.

To repeat, none of the affidavits alleges that Beltran is promoting, maintaining, or heading a Rebellion. The Information in Criminal
Case No. 06-452 itself does not make such allegation. Thus, even assuming that the Information validly charges Beltran for taking part
in a Rebellion, he is entitled to bail as a matter of right since there is no allegation in the Information that he is a leader or promoter of
the Rebellion.33 However, the Information in fact merely charges Beltran for "conspiring and confederating" with others in forming a
"tactical alliance" to commit rebellion. As worded, the Information does not charge Beltran with Rebellion but with Conspiracy to Commit
Rebellion, a bailable offense.34

On the Ladlad and Maza Petitions

The Preliminary Investigation was Tainted

With Irregularities.

As in the determination of probable cause, this Court is similarly loath to enjoin the prosecution of offenses, a practice rooted on public
interest as the speedy closure of criminal investigations fosters public safety. 35 However, such relief in equity may be granted if, among
others, the same is necessary (a) to prevent the use of the strong arm of the law in an oppressive and vindictive manner 36 or (b) to
afford adequate protection to constitutional rights. 37The case of the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 172070-72 and 172074-76 falls under these
exceptions.

The procedure for preliminary investigation of offenses punishable by at least four years, two months and one day is outlined in Section
3, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, thus:

Procedure.—The preliminary investigation shall be conducted in the following manner:

(a) The complaint shall state the address of the respondent and shall be accompanied by the affidavits of the complainant and
his witnesses, as well as other supporting documents to establish probable cause. They shall be in such number of copies as
there are respondents, plus two (2) copies for the official file. The affidavits shall be subscribed and sworn to before any
prosecutor or government official authorized to administer oath, or, in their absence or unavailability, before a notary public,
each of whom must certify that he personally examined the affiants and that he is satisfied that they voluntarily executed and
understood their affidavits.

(b) Within ten (10) days after the filing of the complaint, the investigating officer shall either dismiss it if he finds no ground to
continue with the investigation, or issue a subpoena to the respondent attaching to it a copy of the complaint and its supporting
affidavits and documents.

The respondent shall have the right to examine the evidence submitted by the complainant which he may not have been
furnished and to copy them at his expense. If the evidence is voluminous, the complainant may be required to specify those
which he intends to present against the respondent, and these shall be made available for examination or copying by the
respondent at his expense.

Objects as evidence need not be furnished a party but shall be made available for examination, copying, or photographing at
the expense of the requesting party.

(c) Within ten (10) days from receipt of the subpoena with the complaint and supporting affidavits and documents, the
respondent shall submit his counter-affidavit and that of his witnesses and other supporting documents relied upon for his
defense. The counter-affidavits shall be subscribed and sworn to and certified as provided in paragraph (a) of this section, with
copies thereof furnished by him to the complainant. The respondent shall not be allowed to file a motion to dismiss in lieu of a
counter-affidavit.

(d) If the respondent cannot be subpoenaed, or if subpoenaed, does not submit counter-affidavits within the ten (10) day
period, the investigating officer shall resolve the complaint based on the evidence presented by the complainant.

(e) The investigating officer may set a hearing if there are facts and issues to be clarified from a party or a witness. The parties
can be present at the hearing but without the right to examine or cross-examine. They may, however, submit to the
investigating officer questions which may be asked to the party or witness concerned.

The hearing shall be held within ten (10) days from submission of the counter-affidavits and other documents or from the
expiration of the period for their submission. It shall be terminated within five (5) days.

(f) Within ten (10) days after the investigation, the investigating officer shall determine whether or not there is sufficient ground
to hold the respondent for trial. (Emphasis supplied)

Instead of following this procedure scrupulously, as what this Court had mandated in an earlier ruling, "so that the constitutional right to
liberty of a potential accused can be protected from any material damage," 38 respondent prosecutors nonchalantly disregarded it.
Respondent prosecutors failed to comply with Section 3(a) of Rule 112 which provides that the complaint (which, with its attachment,
must be of such number as there are respondents) be accompanied by the affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses, subscribed
and sworn to before any prosecutor or government official authorized to administer oath, or, in their absence or unavailability, before a
notary public. Respondent prosecutors treated the unsubscribed letters of Tanigue and Mendoza of the CIDG, PNP as complaints 39 and
accepted the affidavits attached to the letters even though some of them were notarized by a notary public without any showing that a
prosecutor or qualified government official was unavailable as required by Section 3(a) of Rule 112.

Further, Section 3(b) of Rule 112 mandates that the prosecutor, after receiving the complaint, must determine if there are grounds to
continue with the investigation. If there is none, he shall dismiss the case, otherwise he shall "issue a subpoena to the respondents."
Here, after receiving the CIDG letters, respondent prosecutors peremptorily issued subpoenas to petitioners requiring them to appear at
the DOJ office on 13 March 2006 "to secure copies of the complaints and its attachments." During the investigation, respondent
prosecutors allowed the CIDG to present a masked Fuentes who subscribed to an affidavit before respondent prosecutor Velasco.
Velasco proceeded to distribute copies of Fuentes’ affidavit not to petitioners or their counsels but to members of the media who
covered the proceedings. Respondent prosecutors then required petitioners to submit their counter-affidavits in 10 days. It was only
four days later, on 17 March 2006, that petitioners received the complete copy of the attachments to the CIDG letters. 1a\^/phi 1.net

These uncontroverted facts belie respondent prosecutors’ statement in the Order of 22 March 2006 that the preliminary investigation
"was done in accordance with the Revised Rules o[f] Criminal Procedure." 40 Indeed, by peremptorily issuing the subpoenas to
petitioners, tolerating the complainant’s antics during the investigation, and distributing copies of a witness’ affidavit to members of the
media knowing that petitioners have not had the opportunity to examine the charges against them, respondent prosecutors not only
trivialized the investigation but also lent credence to petitioners’ claim that the entire proceeding was a sham.

A preliminary investigation is the crucial sieve in the criminal justice system which spells for an individual the difference between
months if not years of agonizing trial and possibly jail term, on the one hand, and peace of mind and liberty, on the other hand. Thus,
we have characterized the right to a preliminary investigation as not "a mere formal or technical right" but a "substantive" one, forming
part of due process in criminal justice.41 This especially holds true here where the offense charged is punishable by reclusion perpetua
and may be non-bailable for those accused as principals.

Contrary to the submission of the Solicitor General, respondent prosecutors’ filing of the Information against petitioners on 21 April 2006
with Branch 57 of the RTC Makati does not moot the petitions in G.R. Nos. 172070-72 and 172074-76. Our power to enjoin
prosecutions cannot be frustrated by the simple filing of the Information with the trial court. 1a\^/phi1.net

On Respondent Prosecutors’ Lack of Impartiality

We find merit in petitioners’ doubt on respondent prosecutors’ impartiality. Respondent Secretary of Justice, who exercises supervision
and control over the panel of prosecutors, stated in an interview on 13 March 2006, the day of the preliminary investigation, that, "We
[the DOJ] will just declare probable cause, then it’s up to the [C]ourt to decide x x x." 42 Petitioners raised this issue in their petition,43 but
respondents never disputed the veracity of this statement. This clearly shows pre-judgment, a determination to file the Information even
in the absence of probable cause.

A Final Word

The obvious involvement of political considerations in the actuations of respondent Secretary of Justice and respondent prosecutors
brings to mind an observation we made in another equally politically charged case. We reiterate what we stated then, if only to
emphasize the importance of maintaining the integrity of criminal prosecutions in general and preliminary investigations in particular,
thus:

[W]e cannot emphasize too strongly that prosecutors should not allow, and should avoid, giving the impression that their noble office is
being used or prostituted, wittingly or unwittingly, for political ends, or other purposes alien to, or subversive of, the basic and
fundamental objective of observing the interest of justice evenhandedly, without fear or favor to any and all litigants alike, whether rich
or poor, weak or strong, powerless or mighty. Only by strict adherence to the established procedure may be public’s perception of the
impartiality of the prosecutor be enhanced.44 1a\^/phi 1.net

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petitions. In G.R. No. 175013, we SET ASIDE the Order dated 31 May 2006 of the Regional Trial Court,
Makati City, Branch 146 and the Order dated 29 August 2006 of the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 150. In G.R. Nos.
172070-72 and 172074-76, we SET ASIDE the Orders dated 22 March 2006 and 4 April 2006 issued by respondent prosecutors. We
ORDER the Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 150 to DISMISS Criminal Case Nos. 06-452 and 06-944.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES DANTE O. TINGA


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court’s Division.
LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson’s Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes

1
Beltran is also one of the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 172074-76.

2Beltran and Mariano represent Anakpawis; Virador, Casiño, and Ocampo represent Bayan Muna; and Maza represents
Gabriela.

3 Police Chief Inspector Rino V. Corpuz, Police Inspector Honesto Gaton, and SPO1 Arnold J. Casumpang.

4 Atty. Ben V. Dela Cruz.

5
During the inquest and in a motion filed with the MeTC, Beltran protested his detention, invoking his parliamentary immunity
from arrest under Section 11, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution since Inciting to Sedition is punishable with a maximum
penalty of less than six years. Finding merit in Beltran’s motion, the MeTC ordered Beltran’s release in its Order of 13 March
2006. This ruling was never implemented.

6Composed of Attys. Emmanuel Y. Velasco, Rosalina P. Aquino, Aileen Marie S. Gutierrez, Irwin A. Maraya, and Maria
Cristina P. Rilloraza.

7 Rollo (G.R. No. 175013), pp. 84-85; Annex "I." The Information reads in full:

That prior to February 24, 2006 and dates subsequent thereto, in Makati City and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court (and other parts of the Philippines) the above named accused 1Lt. LAWRENCE SAN JUAN, being
then a member of the Philippine Army, CRISPIN BELTRAN y BERTIZ, duly elected member of the House of
Representatives, together with several other JOHN/JANE DOES whose present identities and whereabouts are
presently unknown, conspiring and confederating with each other, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, form a tactical alliance between the CPP/NPA, renamed as Partidong Komunista and Pilipinas (PKP) and
its armed regular members as Katipunan ng Anak ng Bayan (KAB) with the Makabayang Kawal ng Pilipinas (MKP)
and thereby rise publicly and take up arms against the duly constituted government, such as, but not limited to,
conducting bombing activities and liquidation of military and police personnel, for the purpose of removing allegiance
from the Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body of
land, naval or armed forces, or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their
powers and prerogatives and ultimately to overthrow President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the present duly
constituted Government.

8Pending resolution of Beltran’s motion, the DOJ sought leave from Branch 137 to file an Amended Information in Criminal
Case No. 06-452, impleading additional 46 defendants, including the petitioners in G.R. Nos. 172074-76 and 172070-72 and
encompassing crimes committed since the 1960s. On petitioners’ motion, Branch 137 expunged the Amended Information for
being an entirely new Information.

9Rollo (G.R. No. 175013), p. 59; Annex "A." The Order of 31 May 2006 pertinently reads: "After examining the record of this
case, the Court finds probable cause to believe that accused 1 st Lt. Lawrence San Juan, P.A. and Crispin Beltran y Bertiz
committed the crime charged. Let a commitment order be issued."

Composed of Attys. Emmanuel Y. Velasco, Joselita C. Mendoza, Aileen Marie S. Gutierrez, Irwin A. Maraya, and Merba A.
10

Waga.

11Rollo (G.R. Nos. 172074-76), pp. 99-102; Annexes "K" and "L." The President was quoted by a daily, thus: "They [petitioners
in the Maza petition] have committed a crime. They are committing a continuing crime. And we have laws to deal with that. x x
x." (The Philippine Star, 12 March 2006, p. 1). Respondent Gonzalez was also reported to have said: "We will just declare
probable cause, then it’s up to the Court to decide. x x x." (The Philippine Star, 14 March 2006, p. 6)

12 Rollo (G.R. Nos. 172070-72), pp. 540-541; Annex "11."

13 The Solicitor General claims that the petitioners in the Maza petition (except Beltran) are guilty of forum-shopping for having
filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition (docketed as CA G.R. SP No. 93975) "demanding the
conduct of preliminary investigation." However, the records show that the petition in CA G.R. SP No. 93975 sought the
nullification of a DOJ Order, dated 1 March 2006, apparently relating to the warrantless arrest of Maza, Ocampo, Casiño,
Mariano, and Virador. Also, the Court of Appeals considered CA G.R. SP No. 93975 "closed and terminated" in its Resolution
of 28 June 2006.
14Section 7, Rule 112 provides: "When accused lawfully arrested without warrant.— When a person is lawfully arrested
without a warrant involving an offense which requires a preliminary investigation, the complaint or information may be filed by
a prosecutor without need of such investigation provided an inquest has been conducted in accordance with existing Rules. In
the absence or unavailability of an inquest prosecutor, the complaint may be filed by the offended party or a peace officer
directly with the proper court on the basis of the affidavit of the offended party or arresting officer or person.

Before the complaint or information is filed, the person arrested may ask for a preliminary investigation in accordance
with this Rule, but he must sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, in
the presence of his counsel. Notwithstanding the waiver, he may apply for bail and the investigation must be
terminated within fifteen (15) days from its inception.

After the filing of the complaint or information in court without a preliminary investigation, the accused may, within five
(5) days from the time he learns of its filing, ask for a preliminary investigation with the same right to adduce evidence
in his defense as provided in this Rule." (Emphasis supplied)

15Rollo (G.R. No. 175013), pp. 540-541; Annex "PP-1." Beltran’s arrest was later declared illegal by the MeTC for violating
Beltran’s parliamentary immunity from arrest under Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution. It appears the prosecution did not
appeal from this ruling.

16Beltran also claims that on the night of his arrest, his jailors showed him a warrant of arrest, dated 7 October 1985, issued by
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 84, in connection with Criminal Case No. Q-21905 for "inciting to rebellion"
which had been archived in October 1985.

17Even under the rulings in Garcia-Padilla v. Enrile (No. L-61388, 20 April 1983, 121 SCRA 472 also reported as Parong v.
Enrile, 206 Phil. 392) and Umil v. Ramos (G.R. No. 81567, 9 July 1990, 187 SCRA 811) where the Court characterized
Rebellion as a "continuing offense" thus allowing the warrantless arrest of its perpetrators, Beltran’s inquest for Rebellion
remains void as he was not arrested for committing such felony.

18"Section 8. Initial Duty of the Inquest Officer.— The Inquest Officer must first determine if the arrest of the detained person
was made in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 5, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedure, as amended, x x x."

Larranaga v. Court of Appeals, 346 Phil. 241 (1997); Go v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 101837, 11 February 1992, 206
19

SCRA 138.

20
Cruz, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 110436, 27 June 1994, 233 SCRA 439.

21 Acuña v. Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, G.R. No. 144692, 31 January 2005, 450 SCRA 232.

22See Allado v. Diokno, G.R. No. 113630, 5 May 1994, 232 SCRA 192; Salonga v. Cruz-Paño, No. L-59524, 18 February
1985, 134 SCRA 438.

23 II L. B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code 84 (14th ed., 1998).

24 People v. Lovedioro, 320 Phil. 481 (1995).

25
Including official receipts, publications, articles, inventories, and photocopies of ID pictures.

26 Rollo (G.R. No. 175013), pp. 690-693; Annex "PP-27."

27 Id., pp. 605-615; Annex "PP-14."

The affidavits mainly concern the organization and recruitment of members of MKP, the aborted participation of MKP
28

members in a rally on 24 February 2006, and the criminal activities of CPP members.

29 See Buscayno v. Military Commissions Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 25, 196 Phil. 41 (1981); People v. Hernandez, 120 Phil. 191 (1964).

30
Rollo (G.R. No. 175013), p. 613.

31 Rollo (G.R. Nos. 172070-72), pp. 59-67; Annex "D."

32 Rollo (G.R. No. 175013), pp. 657-674; Annex "PP-18."

33 Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code pertinently provides:

"Any person who promotes, maintains, or heads a rebellion or insurrection shall suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua.

Any person merely participating or executing the commands of others in rebellion, insurrection or coup d’etat shall
suffer the penalty of reclusion temporal."

Under Article 136 of the Revised Penal Code, Conspiracy to Commit Rebellion is punishable by prision correccional in its
34

maximum period and a fine which shall not exceed five thousand pesos (P5,000).
35 Hernandez v. Albano, 125 Phil. 513 (1967).

36
Dimayuga v. Fernandez, 43 Phil. 304 (1922).

37 Hernandez v. Albano, supra.

38 Webb v. De Leon, 317 Phil. 758 (1995).

39Defined under Section 3, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure as "sworn written statement charging a
person with an offense, subscribed by the offended party, any peace officer, or other public officer charged with the
enforcement of the law violated." (Emphasis supplied)

40
Rollo (G.R. Nos. 172074-76), pp. 61-62; Annex "A."

41 Go v. Court of Appeals, supra note 19.

42 Rollo (G.R. No. 172074-76), p. 102.

43 Id., pp. 16-17.

44 Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, No. L-72335-39, 21 March 1988, 159 SCRA 70, 81.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. 164007 August 10, 2006

LT. (SG) EUGENE GONZALES, LT. (SG) ANDY TORRATO, LT. (SG) ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, CPT. GARY ALEJANO, LT. (SG)
JAMES LAYUG, CPT. GERARDO GAMBALA, CPT. NICANOR FAELDON, LT. (SG) MANUEL CABOCHAN, ENS. ARMAND
PONTEJOS, LT. (JG) ARTURO PASCUA, and 1LT. JONNEL SANGGALANG, Petitioners,
vs.
GEN. NARCISO ABAYA, in his capacity as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and B. GEN. MARIANO M.
SARMIENTO, JR., in his capacity as the Judge Advocate General of the Judge Advocate General’s Office
(JAGO), Respondents.

DECISION

SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:

For our resolution is the Petition for Prohibition (with prayer for a temporary restraining order) filed by the above-named members of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), herein petitioners, against the AFP Chief of Staff and the Judge Advocate General,
respondents.

The facts are:

On July 26, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo received intelligence reports that some members of the AFP, with high-powered
weapons, had abandoned their designated places of assignment. Their aim was to destabilize the government. The President then
directed the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to track and arrest them.

On July 27, 2003 at around 1:00 a.m., more than 300 heavily armed junior officers and enlisted men of the AFP – mostly from the elite
units of the Army’s Scout Rangers and the Navy’s Special Warfare Group – entered the premises of the Oakwood Premier Luxury
Apartments on Ayala Avenue, Makati City. They disarmed the security guards and planted explosive devices around the building.

Led by Navy Lt. (SG) Antonio Trillanes IV, the troops sported red armbands emblazoned with the emblem of the "Magdalo" faction of
the Katipunan. 1 The troops then, through broadcast media, announced their grievances against the administration of President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo, such as the graft and corruption in the military, the illegal sale of arms and ammunition to the "enemies" of the
State, and the bombings in Davao City intended to acquire more military assistance from the US government. They declared their
withdrawal of support from their Commander-in-Chief and demanded that she resign as President of the Republic. They also called for
the resignation of her cabinet members and the top brass of the AFP and PNP.

About noontime of the same day, President Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 427 declaring a state of rebellion, followed by General
Order No. 4 directing the AFP and PNP to take all necessary measures to suppress the rebellion then taking place in Makati City. She
then called the soldiers to surrender their weapons at five o’clock in the afternoon of that same day.

In order to avoid a bloody confrontation, the government sent negotiators to dialogue with the soldiers. The aim was to persuade them
to peacefully return to the fold of the law. After several hours of negotiation, the government panel succeeded in convincing them to lay
down their arms and defuse the explosives placed around the premises of the Oakwood Apartments. Eventually, they returned to their
barracks.

A total of 321 soldiers, including petitioners herein, surrendered to the authorities.


The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) investigated the incident and recommended that the military personnel involved be charged
with coup d’etat defined and penalized under Article 134-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. On July 31, 2003, the Chief State
Prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DOJ) recommended the filing of the corresponding Information against them.

Meanwhile, on August 2, 2003, pursuant to Article 70 of the Articles of War, respondent General Narciso Abaya, then AFP Chief of
Staff, ordered the arrest and detention of the soldiers involved in the Oakwood incident and directed the AFP to conduct its own
separate investigation.

On August 5, 2003, the DOJ filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Makati City an Information for coup d’etat 2against those soldiers,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 03-2784 and eventually raffled off to Branch 61, presided by Judge Romeo F. Barza. 3 Subsequently,
this case was consolidated with Criminal Case No. 03-2678, involving the other accused, pending before Branch 148 of the RTC,
Makati City, presided by Judge Oscar B. Pimentel.

On August 13, 2003, the RTC directed the DOJ to conduct a reinvestigation of Criminal Case No. 03-2784.

On the same date, respondent Chief of Staff issued Letter Order No. 625 creating a Pre-Trial Investigation Panel tasked to determine
the propriety of filing with the military tribunal charges for violations of the Articles of War under Commonwealth Act No. 408, 4 as
amended, against the same military personnel. Specifically, the charges are: (a) violation of Article 63 for disrespect toward the
President, the Secretary of National Defense, etc., (b) violation of Article 64 for disrespect toward a superior officer, (c) violation of
Article 67 for mutiny or sedition, (d) violation of Article 96 for conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and (e) violation of Article
97 for conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline.

Of the original 321 accused in Criminal Case No. 03-2784, only 243 (including petitioners herein) filed with the RTC, Branch 148 an
Omnibus Motion praying that the said trial court assume jurisdiction over all the charges filed with the military tribunal. They invoked
Republic Act (R.A.) No. 7055. 5

On September 15, 2003, petitioners filed with the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO) a motion praying for the suspension of its
proceedings until after the RTC shall have resolved their motion to assume jurisdiction.

On October 29, 2003, the Pre-Trial Investigation Panel submitted its Initial Report to the AFP Chief of Staff recommending that the
military personnel involved in the Oakwood incident be charged before a general court martial with violations of Articles 63, 64, 67, 96,
and 97 of the Articles of War.

Meanwhile, on November 11, 2003, the DOJ, after conducting a reinvestigation, found probable cause against only 31 (petitioners
included) of the 321 accused in Criminal Case No. 03-2784. Accordingly, the prosecution filed with the RTC an Amended Information. 6

In an Order dated November 14, 2003, the RTC admitted the Amended Information and dropped the charge of coup d’etat against the
290 accused.

Subsequently, or on December 12, 2003, the Pre-Trial Investigation Panel submitted its Final Pre-Trial Investigation Report 7 to the
JAGO, recommending that, following the "doctrine of absorption," those charged with coup d’etatbefore the RTCshould not be charged
before the military tribunal for violation of the Articles of War.

For its part, the RTC, on February 11, 2004, issued an Order 8 stating that "all charges before the court martial against the
accused…are hereby declared not service-connected, but rather absorbed and in furtherance of the alleged crime of coup d’etat." The
trial court then proceeded to hear petitioners’ applications for bail.

In the meantime, Colonel Julius A. Magno, in his capacity as officer-in-charge of the JAGO, reviewed the findings of the Pre-Trial
Investigation Panel. He recommended that 29 of the officers involved in the Oakwood incident, including petitioners, be prosecuted
before a general court martial for violation of Article 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) of the Articles of War.

On June 17, 2004, Colonel Magno’s recommendation was approved by the AFP top brass. The AFP Judge Advocate General then
directed petitioners to submit their answer to the charge. Instead of complying, they filed with this Court the instant Petition for
Prohibition praying that respondents be ordered to desist from charging them with violation of Article 96 of the Articles of War in relation
to the Oakwood incident. 9

Petitioners maintain that since the RTC has made a determination in its Order of February 11, 2004 that the offense for violation of
Article 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) of the Articles of War is not service-connected, but is absorbed in the crime
of coup d’etat, the military tribunal cannot compel them to submit to its jurisdiction.

The Solicitor General, representing the respondents, counters that R.A. No. 7055 specifies which offenses covered by the Articles of
War areservice-connected. These are violations of Articles 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97. The law provides that violations of these
Articles are properly cognizable by the court martial. As the charge against petitioners is violation of Article 96 which, under R.A. No.
7055 is a service-connected offense, then it falls under the jurisdiction of the court martial.

Subsequently, petitioners filed with this Court a Supplemental Petition raising the additional issue that the offense charged before the
General Court Martial has prescribed. Petitioners alleged therein that during the pendency of their original petition, respondents
proceeded with the Pre-Trial Investigation for purposes of charging them with violation of Article 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and
a gentleman) of the Articles of War; that the Pre-Trial Investigation Panel then referred the case to the General Court Martial; that
"almost two years since the Oakwood incident on July 27, 2003, only petitioner Lt. (SG) Antonio Trillanes was arraigned, and this was
done under questionable circumstances;" 10 that in the hearing of July 26, 2005, herein petitioners moved for the dismissal of the case
on the ground that they were not arraigned within the prescribed period of two (2) years from the date of the commission of the alleged
offense, in violation of Article 38 of the Articles of War; 11 that "the offense charged prescribed on July 25, 2005;" 12 that the General
Court Martial ruled, however, that "the prescriptive period shall end only at 12:00 midnight of July 26, 2005;" 13 that "(a)s midnight of July
26, 2005 was approaching and it was becoming apparent that the accused could not be arraigned, the prosecution suddenly changed
its position and asserted that 23 of the accused have already been arraigned;" 14 and that petitioners moved for a reconsideration but it
was denied by the general court martial in its Order dated September 14, 2005. 15
In his Comment, the Solicitor General prays that the Supplemental Petition be denied for lack of merit. He alleges that "contrary to
petitioners’ pretensions, all the accused were duly arraigned on July 13 and 18, 2005." 16 The "(r)ecords show that in the hearing on
July 13, 2005, all the 29 accused were present" and, "(o)n that day, Military Prosecutor Captain Karen Ong Jags read the Charges and
Specifications from the Charge Sheet in open court (pp. 64, TSN, July 13, 2005)." 17

The sole question for our resolution is whether the petitioners are entitled to the writ of prohibition.

There is no dispute that petitioners, being officers of the AFP, are subject to military law. Pursuant to Article 1 (a) of Commonwealth Act
No. 408, as amended, otherwise known as the Articles of War, the term "officer" is "construed to refer to a commissioned officer."
Article 2 provides:

Art. 2. Persons Subject to Military Law. – The following persons are subject to these articles and shall be understood as included in the
term "any person subject to military law" or "persons subject to military law," whenever used in these articles:

(a) All officers and soldiers in the active service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or of the Philippine Constabulary, all
members of the reserve force, from the dates of their call to active duty and while on such active duty; all trainees undergoing military
instructions; and all other persons lawfully called, drafted, or ordered into, or to duty or for training in the said service, from the dates
they are required by the terms of the call, draft, or order to obey the same.

Upon the other hand, Section 1 of R.A. No. 7055 reads:

SEC. 1. Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other persons subject to military law, including members of the Citizens
Armed Forces Geographical Units, who commit crimes or offenses penalized under the Revised Penal Code, other special penal laws,
or local government ordinances, regardless of whether or not civilians are co-accused, victims, or offended parties, which may be
natural or juridical persons, shall be tried by the proper civil court, except when the offense, as determined before arraignment by the
civil court, is service-connected, in which case, the offense shall be tried by court-martial, Provided, That the President of the
Philippines may, in the interest of justice, order or direct at any time before arraignment that any such crimes or offenses be tried by the
proper civil courts.

As used in this Section, service-connected crimes or offenses shall be limited to those defined in Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to 92, and
Articles 95 to 97 of Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended.

In imposing the penalty for such crimes or offenses, the court-martial may take into consideration the penalty prescribed therefor in the
Revised Penal Code, other special laws, or local government ordinances.

Section 1 of R.A. No. 7055, quoted above, is clear and unambiguous. First, it lays down the general rule that members of the AFP and
other persons subject to military law, including members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Units, who commit crimes or
offenses penalized under the Revised Penal Code (like coup d’etat), other special penal laws, or local ordinances shall be tried by the
proper civil court. Next, it provides the exception to the general rule, i.e., where the civil court, before arraignment, has determined the
offense to be service-connected, then the offending soldier shall be tried by a court martial. Lastly, the law states an exception to the
exception, i.e., where the President of the Philippines, in the interest of justice, directs before arraignment that any such crimes or
offenses be tried by the proper civil court.

The second paragraph of the same provision further identifies the "service-connected crimes or offenses" as "limited to those defined
in Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to 92, and Articles 95 to 97" of the Articles of War. Violations of these specified Articles are triable by
court martial. This delineates the jurisdiction between the civil courts and the court martial over crimes or offenses committed by
military personnel.

Such delineation of jurisdiction by R.A. No. 7055 is necessary to preserve the peculiar nature of military justice system over military
personnel charged with service-connected offenses. The military justice system is disciplinary in nature, aimed at achieving the highest
form of discipline in order to ensure the highest degree of military efficiency. 18 Military law is established not merely to enforce discipline
in times of war, but also to preserve the tranquility and security of the State in time of peace; for there is nothing more dangerous to the
public peace and safety than a licentious and undisciplined military body. 19 The administration of military justice has been universally
practiced. Since time immemorial, all the armies in almost all countries of the world look upon the power of military law and its
administration as the most effective means of enforcing discipline. For this reason, the court martial has become invariably an
indispensable part of any organized armed forces, it being the most potent agency in enforcing discipline both in peace and in war. 20

Here, petitioners are charged for violation of Article 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) of the Articles of War before
the court martial, thus:

All persons subject to military law, did on or about 27 July 2003 at Oakwood Hotel, Makati City, Metro Manila, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously violate their solemn oath as officers to defend the Constitution, the law and the duly-constituted authorities and
abused their constitutional duty to protect the people and the State by, among others, attempting to oust the incumbent duly-
elected and legitimate President by force and violence, seriously disturbing the peace and tranquility of the people and the nation they
are sworn to protect, thereby causing dishonor and disrespect to the military profession, conduct unbecoming an officer and a
gentleman, in violation of AW 96 of the Articles of War.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Underscoring ours)

Article 96 of the Articles of War 21 provides:

ART. 96. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman. – Any officer, member of the Nurse Corps, cadet, flying cadet, or
probationary second lieutenant, who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be dismissed from the
service. (Underscoring ours)

We hold that the offense for violation of Article 96 of the Articles of War is service-connected. This is expressly provided in Section 1
(second paragraph) of R.A. No. 7055. It bears stressing that the charge against the petitioners concerns the alleged violation of their
solemn oath as officers to defend the Constitution and the duly-constituted authorities.Such violation allegedly caused dishonor and
disrespect to the military profession. In short, the charge has a bearing on their professional conduct or behavior as military
officers. Equally indicative of the "service-connected" nature of the offense is the penalty prescribed for the same – dismissal from the
service – imposable only by the military court.Such penalty is purely disciplinary in character, evidently intended to cleanse the
military profession of misfits and to preserve the stringent standard of military discipline.

Obviously, there is no merit in petitioners’ argument that they can no longer be charged before the court martial for violation of Article
96 of the Articles of War because the same has been declared by the RTC in its Order of February 11, 2004 as "not service-connected,
but rather absorbed and in furtherance of the alleged crime of coup d’etat," hence, triable by said court (RTC). The RTC, in making
such declaration, practically amended the law which expressly vests in the court martial the jurisdiction over "service-connected crimes
or offenses." What the law has conferred the court should not take away. It is only the Constitution or the law that bestows jurisdiction
on the court, tribunal, body or officer over the subject matter or nature of an action which can do so. 22 And it is only through a
constitutional amendment or legislative enactment that such act can be done. The first and fundamental duty of the courts is merely to
apply the law "as they find it, not as they like it to be." 23 Evidently, such declaration by the RTC constitutes grave abuse of discretion
tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and is, therefore, void.

In Navales v. Abaya., 24 this Court, through Mr. Justice Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., held:

We agree with the respondents that the sweeping declaration made by the RTC (Branch 148) in the dispositive portion of its Order
dated February 11, 2004 that all charges before the court-martial against the accused were not service-connected, but absorbed and in
furtherance of the crime of coup d’etat, cannot be given effect. x x x, such declaration was made without or in excess of jurisdiction;
hence, a nullity.

The second paragraph of the above provision (referring to Section 1 of R.A. No. 7055) explicitly specifies what are considered "service-
connected crimes or offenses" under Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended, also known as the Articles of War, to wit:

Articles 54 to 70:

Art. 54. Fraudulent Enlistment.

Art. 55. Officer Making Unlawful Enlistment.

Art. 56. False Muster.

Art. 57. False Returns.

Art. 58. Certain Acts to Constitute Desertion.

Art. 59. Desertion.

Art. 60. Advising or Aiding Another to Desert.

Art. 61. Entertaining a Deserter.

Art. 62. Absence Without Leave.

Art. 63. Disrespect Toward the President, Vice-President,

Congress of the Philippines, or Secretary of National

Defense.

Art. 64. Disrespect Toward Superior Officer.

Art. 65. Assaulting or Willfully Disobeying Superior Officer.

Art. 66. Insubordinate Conduct Toward Non-Commissioned Officer.

Art. 67. Mutiny or Sedition.

Art. 68. Failure to Suppress Mutiny or Sedition.

Art. 69. Quarrels; Frays; Disorders.

Art. 70. Arrest or Confinement.

Articles 72 to 92:

Art. 72. Refusal to Receive and Keep Prisoners.

Art. 73. Report of Prisoners Received.

Art. 74. Releasing Prisoner Without Authority.


Art. 75. Delivery of Offenders to Civil Authorities.

Art. 76. Misbehavior Before the Enemy.

Art. 77. Subordinates Compelling Commander to Surrender.

Art. 78. Improper Use of Countersign.

Art. 79. Forcing a Safeguard.

Art. 80. Captured Property to be Secured for Public Service.

Art. 81. Dealing in Captured or Abandoned Property.

Art. 82. Relieving, Corresponding With, or Aiding the Enemy.

Art. 83. Spies.

Art. 84. Military Property.–Willful or Negligent Loss, Damage

or wrongful Disposition.

Art. 85. Waste or Unlawful Disposition of Military Property

Issued to Soldiers.

Art. 86. Drunk on Duty.

Art. 87. Misbehavior of Sentinel.

Art. 88. Personal Interest in Sale of Provisions.

Art. 88-A. Unlawful Influencing Action of Court.

Art. 89. Intimidation of Persons Bringing Provisions.

Art. 90. Good Order to be Maintained and Wrongs Redressed.

Art. 91. Provoking Speeches or Gestures.

Art. 92. Dueling.

Articles 95 to 97:

Art. 95. Frauds Against the Government.

Art. 96. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman.

Art. 97. General Article.

Further, Section 1 of Rep. Act No. 7055 vests on the military courts the jurisdiction over the foregoing offenses. x x x.

It is clear from the foregoing that Rep. Act No. 7055 did not divest the military courts of jurisdiction to try cases involving violations of
Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to 92, and Articles 95 to 97 of the Articles of War as these are considered "service-connected crimes or
offenses." In fact, it mandates that these shall be tried by the court-martial.

Moreover, the observation made by Mr. Justice Antonio T. Carpio during the deliberation of this case is worth quoting, thus:

The trial court aggravated its error when it justified its ruling by holding that the charge of Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a
Gentleman is ‘absorbed and in furtherance to the alleged crime of coup d’etat.’ Firstly, the doctrine of ‘absorption of crimes’ is peculiar
to criminal law and generally applies to crimes punished by the same statute, 25unlike here where different statutes are involved.
Secondly, the doctrine applies only if the trial court has jurisdiction over both offenses. Here, Section 1 of R.A. 7055 deprives civil courts
of jurisdiction over service-connected offenses, including Article 96 of the Articles of War. Thus, the doctrine of absorption of crimes is
not applicable to this case.

Military law is sui generis (Calley v. Callaway, 519 F.2d 184 [1975]), applicable only to military personnel because the military
constitutes an armed organization requiring a system of discipline separate from that of civilians (see Orloff v. Willoughby, 345 U.S. 83
[1953]). Military personnel carry high-powered arms and other lethal weapons not allowed to civilians. History, experience, and the
nature of a military organization dictate that military personnel must be subjected to a separate disciplinary system not applicable to
unarmed civilians or unarmed government personnel.
A civilian government employee reassigned to another place by his superior may question his reassignment by asking a temporary
restraining order or injunction from a civil court. However, a soldier cannot go to a civil court and ask for a restraining or injunction if his
military commander reassigns him to another area of military operations. If this is allowed, military discipline will collapse.

xxx

This Court has recognized that courts-martial are instrumentalities of the Executive to enable the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to
effectively command, control, and discipline the armed forces (see Ruffy v. Chief of Staff, 75 Phil. 875 [1946], citing Winthrop’s Military
Law and Precedents, 2nd edition, p. 49). In short, courts-martial form part of the disciplinary system that ensures the President’s
control, and thus civilian supremacy, over the military. At the apex of this disciplinary system is the President who exercises review
powers over decisions of courts-martial (citing Article 50 of the Articles of War; quoted provisions omitted).

xxx

While the Court had intervened before in courts-martial or similar proceedings, it did so sparingly and only to release a military
personnel illegally detained (Ognir v. Director of Prisons, 80 Phil. 401 [1948] or to correct objectionable procedures (Yamashita v. Styer,
75 Phil. 563 [1945]). The Court has never suppressed court-martial proceedings on the ground that the offense charged ‘is absorbed
and in furtherance of’ another criminal charge pending with the civil courts. The Court may now do so only if the offense charged is not
one of the service-connected offenses specified in Section 1 of RA 7055. Such is not the situation in the present case.

With respect to the issue of prescription raised by petitioners in their Supplemental Petition, suffice it to say that we cannot entertain the
same. The contending parties are at loggerheads as to (a) who among the petitioners were actually arraigned, and (b) the dates of their
arraignment. These are matters involving questions of fact, not within our power of review, as we are not a trier of facts. In a petition for
prohibition, such as the one at bar, only legal issues affecting the jurisdiction of the tribunal, board or officer involved may be resolved
on the basis of the undisputed facts. 26

Clearly, the instant petition for prohibition must fail. The office of prohibition is to prevent the unlawful and oppressive exercise of
authority and is directed against proceedings that are done without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, there
being no appeal or other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. 27 Stated differently, prohibition is the
remedy to prevent inferior courts, corporations, boards, or persons from usurping or exercising a jurisdiction or power with which they
have not been vested by law. 28

In fine, this Court holds that herein respondents have the authority in convening a court martial and in charging petitioners with violation
of Article 96 of the Articles of War.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition for prohibition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ

Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

Chief Justice
REYNATO S. PUNO LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO ANTONIO T. CARPIO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ ENATO C. CORONA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA DANTE O. TINGA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO CANCIO C. GARCIA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

Footnotes

1 A group which spearheaded the Revolution of 1896 against Spain.

2
As defined and penalized under Article 134-A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

3 Now Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals.

4Entitled "An Act for Making Further and More Effectual Provision for the National Defense by Establishing a System of
Military Justice for Persons Subject to Military Law."

5Entitled "An Act Strengthening Civilian Supremacy Over The Military By Returning To The Civil Courts The Jurisdiction Over
Certain Offenses Involving Members Of The Armed Forces Of The Philippines, Other Persons Subject To Military Law, And
The Members Of The Philippine National Police, Repealing For The Purpose Certain Presidential Decrees."

6 Rollo, pp. 176-179.

7 Id., pp. 370-380.

8 Id., pp. 207-209.

9
Id., pp. 14-15.

10 Par. 4, Supplemental Petition, p. 4.

11 Article 38 of the Articles of War partly provides:

"Article 38. As to Time. – Except for desertion or murder committed in time of war, or for mutiny, no person subject to military
law shall be liable to be tried or punished by a court-martial for any crime or offense committed more than two years before the
arraignment of such person: x x x."

12 Pars. 8, 18, Supplemental Petition, pp. 5, 10.

13
Par. 9, id.

14Par. 10, id. Petitioners stated, under this footnote, that the "(r)ulings before the General Court Martial were done orally;
unavailability of the TSN for the July 26, 2005 hearing."

15 Par. 14, id.

16
Comment, p. 10.

17 Id., p. 18.

18 Gloria, PHILIPPINE MILITARY LAW Annotated, revised edition, p. 3.

19
Id.

20 Id., pp. 4-5.

21 Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended by Republic Act No. 242 (approved on June 12, 1948).

22
Arnado v.Buban, A.M. No. MTJ-04-1543, May 31, 2004, 430 SCRA 382, 386; Republic v. Estipular, G.R. No. 136588, July
20, 2000, 336 SCRA 333, 340.

23 Resins, Inc. v. Auditor General, G.R. No. 17888, October 29, 1968, 25 SCRA 754.

24 G.R. Nos. 162318 and 162341, October 25, 2004, 441 SCRA 393, 409-421.

25 E.g., Murder (Article 248) and Robbery (Articles 294-295) absorbed by Rebellion (Article 134) of the Revised Penal Code
(People v. Hernandez, 99 Phil. 515 [1956]; Illegal Possession of Marijuana (Section 8, Republic Act No. 6425) absorbed by
Illegal Sale of Marijuana (Section 4, Republic Act No. 6425) (People v. De Jesus, 229 Phil. 518 [1986]).

26
Mafinco Trading Corp. v. Ople, No. L-37790, March 25, 1976, 70 SCRA 139, 160-161.

Section 2, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended; Vergara v. Rugue, No. L-32984, August 26, 1977, 78
27

SCRA 312.
28 Matuguina Integrated Wood Products, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 98310, October 24, 1996, 263 SCRA 490.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Agenda of August 8, 2006

Item No. 67

G.R. No. 164007 – (LT. [SG] EUGENE GONZALES, LT. [SG] ANDY TORRATO, LT. [SG] ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, CPT. GARY
ALEJANO, LT. [SG] JAMES LAYUG, CPT. NICANOR FAELDON, LT. [SG] MANUEL CABOCHAN, ENS. ARMAND PONTEJOS, LT.
[JG] ARTURO PASCUA, ET AL. v. GEN. NARCISO ABAYA, in his capacity as the Chief-of-Staff of the ARMED FORCES OF THE
PHILIPPINES, and BRIG. GEN. MARIANO M. SARMIENTO, JR., in his capacity as the Judge Advocate General of the Judge
Advocate General Office [JAGO])

Promulgated:

August 10, 2006

CONCURRING OPINION

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

I concur with the encompassing ponencia of Madame Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez ordering the dismissal of the petition.
However, I find it necessary to elucidate on my opinion relative to the submission of petitioners that the punitive act for conduct
unbecoming an officer and a gentleman defined in Article 96 of the Articles of War is absorbed by coup d’etat, a political felony,
especially in light of the opinion of the Pre-Trial Investigation Panel that the punitive act as well as these service-connected punitive
acts defined in Articles 63, 64, 96 and 97 of the Articles of War, are indeed absorbed by coup d’etat.

The charge against petitioners reads:

Violation of Article 96

All persons subject to military law, did on or about 27 July 2003 at Oakwood Hotel, Makati City, Makati, Metro Manila, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously violate their solemn oath as officers to defend the Constitution, the law and the duly-constituted authorities
and abuse their constitutional duty to protect the people and the State by, among others, attempting to oust the incumbent duly-elected
and legitimate president by force and violence, seriously disturbing the peace and tranquility of the people and the nation they are
sworn to protect, thereby causing dishonor and disrespect to the military profession, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, in
violation of AW 96 of the Articles of War.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Article 96 of the Articles of War defines the punitive act of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman as follows:

Art. 96. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman. – Any officer, cadet, flying cadet, or probationary second lieutenant, who is
convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be dismissed from the service.

Case law has it that common crimes committed in furtherance of a political crime, such as rebellion, are therein absorbed. A political
crime is one directly aimed against the political order as well as such common crimes as may be committed to achieve a political
purpose. The decisive factor is the intent or motive. Coup d’etat is a political crime because the purpose of the plotters is to seize or
diminish State power. If a crime usually regarded as common, like murder, is perpetrated to achieve a political purpose, then said
common crime is stripped of its common complexion, inasmuch as, being part and parcel of the crime of rebellion, the former acquires
the political character of the latter. 1 Such common offenses assume the political complexion of the main crime of which they are mere
ingredients, and, consequently, cannot be punished separately from the principal offense, or complexed with the same to justify the
imposition of the graver penalty. 2

In Ponce Enrile v. Amin, 3 the court ruled that the principle of absorption of common crimes by the political crime applies to crimes
defined and penalized by special laws, such as Presidential Decree No. 1829, otherwise known as Obstruction of Justice. However, in
Baylosis v. Chavez,
Jr., 4 the Court ruled that the rulings of this Court in People v. Hernandez, 5 Ponce Enrile v. Amin 6 and Enrile v. Salazar, 7 do not apply
to crimes which, by statutory fiat, are sui generis.

Indeed, the service-connected punitive acts defined and penalized under the Articles of War are sui generis offenses not absorbed by
rebellion perpetrated, inter alia, by the officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) or coup d’etat. This
is so because such acts or omissions are merely violations of military discipline, designed to secure a higher efficiency in the military
service; in other words, they are purely disciplinary in their nature, and have exclusive regard to the special character and relation of the
AFP officers and enlisted personnel. Laws providing for the discipline as well as the organization of the AFP are essential to the
efficiency for the military service in case their services should ever be required. "Deprive the executive branch of the government of the
power to enforce proper military regulations by fine and imprisonment, and that, too, by its own courts-martial, which from time
immemorial have exercised this right, and we at once paralyze all efforts to secure proper discipline in the military service, and have
little left but a voluntary organization, without cohesive force." 8
It bears stressing that for determining how best the AFP shall attend to the business of fighting or preparing to fight rests with Congress
and with the President. Both Congress and this Court have found that the special character of the military requires civilian authorities to
accord military commanders some flexibility in dealing with matters that affect internal discipline and morale. In construing a statute that
touches on such matters, therefore, courts must be careful not to circumscribe the authority of military commanders to an extent never
intended by Congress. Under these and many similar cases reviewing legislative and executive control of the military, the sentencing
scheme at issue in this case, and the manner in which it was created, are constitutionally unassailable. 9

Officers and enlisted personnel committing punitive acts under the Articles of War may be prosecuted and convicted if found guilty of
such acts independently of, and separately from, any charges filed in the civilian courts for the same or similar acts which are penalized
under the Revised Penal Code, under special penal laws or ordinances; and prescinding from the outcome thereof.

At this point, it is well to have a basic understanding of the Articles of War under Commonwealth Act No. 408, which was essentially
copied from that of the United States, which, in turn, had been superseded by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Our Articles of War
has since been amended by Republic Act Nos. 242 and 516.

The Articles of War is the organic law of the AFP and, in keeping with the history of military law, its primary function is to enforce "the
highest form of discipline in order to ensure the highest degree of military efficiency." The following commentary is enlightening:

History points out the fact that nations have always engaged in wars. For that purpose, bodies of men have been organized into armed
forces under a commander-in-chief who, through his subordinate commanders, enforces the highest form of discipline in order to
ensure the highest degree of military efficiency.

Victory in battle is the ultimate aim of every military commander, and he knows that victory cannot be attained, no matter how superior
his forces may be, in men and materials, if discipline among the rank-and-file is found wanting. For, "if an Army is to be anything but an
uncontrolled mob, discipline is required and must be enforced." For this reason, in order to set an effective means of enforcing
discipline, all organized armies of the world have promulgated sets of rules and regulations and later, laws as embodied in the articles
of war, which define the duties of military personnel and distinguish infractions of military law and impose appropriate punishment for
violation thereof. 10

Every officer, before he enters in the duties of his office, subscribes to these articles and places himself within the powers of courts-
martial to pass on any offense which he may have committed in contravention thereof. 11

It is said that conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman is a uniquely military offense. 12 In order to constitute the said offense, the
misconduct must offend so seriously against the law, justice, morality or decorum as to expose to disgrace, socially or as a man, the
offender, and at the same time must be of such a nature or committed under such circumstances as to bring dishonor or disrepute upon
the military profession which he represents. 13 The article proscribing conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman has been held to
be wholly independent of other definitions of offenses, and the same course of conduct may constitute an offense elsewhere provided
for and may also warrant a conviction under this provision; it is not subject to preemption by other punitive articles. 14

The administration of military justice under the Articles of War has been exclusively vested in courts-martial whether as General Courts-
Martial, Special Courts-Martial or Summary Courts-Martial. 15 Courts-martial pertain to the executive department and are, in fact, simply
instrumentalities of the executive power, provided by Congress for the President as Commander-in-Chief to aid him in properly
commanding the army and navy, and enforcing discipline therein. 16

As enunciated by the United States Supreme Court, "the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society. It
has, again by necessity, developed laws and traditions of its own during its long history. The differences between the military and
civilian communities result from the fact that it is the primary business of armies and navies to fight or ready to fight wars should the
occasion arise." 17 Further, the US Supreme Court quite succinctly stated that "the military constitutes a specialized community
governed by a separate discipline from that of the civilian." 18

I wish to emphasize, however, a caveat: not all service-connected punitive acts under the Articles of War may be prosecuted before the
courts-martial independently of a crime defined and penalized under the Revised Penal Code against the same accused based on the
same set of delictual acts. Congress may criminalize a service-connected punitive offense under the Articles of War.

A review of the deliberations in the Senate or the Report of the Conference Committee of Senate Bill 1500 will readily show that coup
d’etat was incorporated in the Revised Penal Code in Article 134-A precisely to criminalize "mutiny" under Article 67 of the Articles of
War and to penalize the punitive act of mutiny, under the Articles of War as coup d’etat. Article 67 of the Articles of War reads:

Art. 67. Mutiny or Sedition. – Any person subject to military law who attempts to create or who begins, excites, causes, or joins in any
mutiny or sedition in any company, party, post, camp, detachment, guard, or other command shall suffer death or such other
punishment as a court-martial may direct.

Without Article 134-A in the Revised Penal Code, the mutineers would be charged for mutiny under Article 67 of the Articles of War:

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President.

Senator Enrile. Then we added Article 134-A which deals with the new crime of coup d’etat.

Senator Enrile. – and we defined how this newly characterized and defined crime would be committed in Article 134-A?

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President.

Senator Enrile. And, in fact, we made a distinction between the penalty of the crimes defined under Article 134 of the Revised Penal
Code and the crime defined under Article 134-A, is this correct, Mr. President?

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President.


Senator Enrile. In fact, we distinguished between the conspiracy and proposal to commit the crime of rebellion from the conspiracy and
proposal to commit coup d’ etat?

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President.

Senator Enrile. So that, for all intents and purposes, therefore, we are defining a new crime under this proposed measure—

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President.

Senator Enrile.—which is coup d’etat. We are, in effect, bringing into the Revised Penal Code, a crime that was penalized under the
Articles of War as far as military participants are concerned and call it with its name "coup d’etat"?

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President. That is the . . .

Senator Enrile. Because without this criminalization of coup d’etat under the Revised Penal Code, people in the active service would be
charged with mutiny?

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President. Especially when they are inside the camp, when the rank-and-file go up to arms or insubordination or
against the orders of their superiors, they would be charged under the Articles of War.

Senator Enrile. In fact, one of the distinguishing features of a coup d’etat as defined here is, apart from the overt acts of taking a swift
attack with violence, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth against the duly-constituted authorities or an installation, et cetera, the
primary ingredient of this would be the seizure or diminution of state power.

Senator Lina. Yes, that is the objective, Mr. President.

Senator Enrile. On the other hand, in the case of rebellion as defined under Article 134, it does not necessarily mean a seizure of State
power or diminution of State power, but all that is needed would be to deprive the Chief Executive or the legislature of any of its powers.

Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President.

Senator Enrile. So that, there is a basis to consider a clear and definable distinction between the crime of coup d’etat and the crime of
rebellion as defined under Article 135?

Senator Lina. Yes, Mr. President.

Senator Enrile. I just want to put that into the Record.

Thus, officers and enlisted personnel of the AFP charged of coup d’etat can no longer be charged with mutiny under Article 67 of the
Articles of War before courts-martial for the same delictual or punitive act.

I vote to DISMISS the petition.

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.

Associate Justice

Footnotes

1 People v. Hernandez, 99 Phil. 515, 536 (1956).

2 Id. at 541.

3
G.R. No. 93335, September 13, 1990, 189 SCRA 573, 580-581.

4
G.R. No. 95136, October 3, 1991, 202 SCRA 405, 416.

5 Supra note 1.

6 Supra note 3.

7 G.R. No. 92163, June 5, 1990, 186 SCRA 217.

8 Michigan v. Wagner, 77 N.W. 422.

9 Loving v. U.S., 517 U.S. 748, 778, 116 S.Ct. 1737 (1966).

10 Gloria, Philippine Military Law Annotated, p. 3.


11 Carter v. Roberto, 177 U.S. 497 (1900).

12
U.S. v. Weldon, 7 M.J. 938 (1979).

13 Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733 (1974).

14 U.S. v. Taylor, 23 M.J. 341 (1987).

15
Article 3, Articles of War.

16 Supra note 14, p.17, citing Winthrop, Military Law and Precedents (2nd ed.), 49.

17
U.S. ex rel. Toth v. Quarles, 350 U.S. 11 (1955).

18 Orloff v. Willoughby, 345 U.S. 83 (1953)

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

G.R. No. 164007 – LT. (SG) EUGENE GONZALES, LT. (SG) ANDY TORRATO, LT. (SG) ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, CAPT. GARY
ALEJANO, LT. (SG) JAMES LAYUG, CPT. NICANOR FAELDON, LT. (SG) MANUEL COBOCHAN, ENS. ARMAND PONTEJOS, LT.
(JG) ARTURO PASCUA, and 1LT. JONHNEL SANGGALANG, Petitioners, versus GEN. NARCISO ABAYA, in his capacity as Chief of
Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and B/GEN. MARIANO M. SARMIENTO, JR., in his capacity as the Judge Advocate
General of the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO), Respondents.

Promulgated:

August 10, 2006

SEPARATE OPINION

(Concurring and Dissenting)

Tinga, J.:

My concurrence to the dismissal of the petition is limited to a much narrower ground than that offered by the majority opinion, which,
with due respect, I am unable to fully join and thus impelled to mostly dissent from. The broad propositions adopted by the majority
render inutile Republic Act No. 7055, (RA 7055) that generally restored civil jurisdiction over offenses involving members of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines (AFP). This law stands as a key implement in the restoration of civilian supremacy over the military, a precept
that was reinvigorated with the restoration of civil democracy in 1986. The rationale that sustains the majority position stands athwart to
that important constitutional principle as effectuated through RA 7055.

Instead, my position hinges on the peculiar nature of Article 96 of the Articles of War, the violation of which petitioners stand accused of
before the court-martial. Not only does Article 96 embody a rule uniquely military in nature, it also prescribes a penalty wholly
administrative in character which the civilian courts are incapable of rendering. For that reason alone, I agree that petitioners may
stand civilian trial for coup d’etat and court-martial for violation of Article 96.

Still, I acknowledge that I would have voted to grant the petition had petitioners faced other charges, instead of the sole Article 96
charge, before the court-martial in connection with the Oakwood mutiny. I submit that RA 7055 precisely authorizes the civil court to
independently determine whether the offense subject of the information before it is actually service-connected. If the trial court does
determine, before arraignment, that the offense is service-connected, it follows that, as a rule, the military court will not have jurisdiction
over the acts constituting the offense.

Restatement of Relevant Facts

The following facts I consider relevant.

On 5 August 2003, just a little over a week after the so-called Oakwood mutiny, the Department of Justice filed an Information with the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati against 321 military personnel, including petitioners, for violation of Article 134-A of the Revised
Penal Code which is the crime of coup d’etat. After the case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 03-2784, the RTC directed the DOJ to
conduct a reinvestigation of the said case. On the same day that the order for re-investigation was issued, the AFP Chief of Staff
created a Pre-Trial Investigation Panel against the same persons to determine the propriety of filing charges with a military tribunal
against petitioners, along with 300 or so other soldiers, for violation of the Articles of War, again in connection with the Oakwood
mutiny. Thus, 243 of the accused before the RTC, including petitioners, filed a motion with the trial court praying that the court assume
jurisdiction over all the charges filed with the military tribunal, following RA 7055. 1

After re-investigation, the DOJ found probable cause for the crime of coup d’etat against only 31 of the original 321 accused. The DOJ
then filed a motion for dismissal of the charge of coup d’etat against the 290 others, which motion was granted by the RTC in an Order
dated 14 November 2003. Petitioners were among the 31 who still faced the charge of coup d’etat before the RTC.
Notwithstanding the dismissal of the charge of coup d’etat against the 290 soldiers, they were still charged before the General Court
Martial for violation of Articles 63, 64, 67, 96 and 97 of the Articles of War. 2 Among the charges faced by these soldiers was for
"mutiny," punishable under Article 63. Only those soldiers the charge of coup d’etat against whom was dismissed were
subjected to the charge of Articles of War violations before the court-martial. Some of these 290 soldiers challenged the
jurisdiction of the court-martial in a petition for prohibition before this Court, which was denied in Navales v. Abaya 3 in 2004.

On the other hand, on 9 December 2003, the Pre-Trial Investigation Panel recommended that the 31 officers facing the charge of coup
d’etat before the trial court be excluded from the court-martial proceedings. The rationale that the Panel offered was the assumption of
civilian jurisdiction by the RTC based on RA 7055 and its belief that the charges against the 31 it was investigating were absorbed by
the crime of coup d’etat, which was already within the jurisdiction of the RTC to try and decide.

It was on 11 February 2004 that the RTC issued an Order (RTC Order) stating that "all charges before the court-martial against the
accused.. are hereby declared not service-connected, but rather absorbed and in furtherance of the alleged crime of coup d’etat." Note
that as of then, only 31 officers remained within the jurisdiction of the RTC. If there are any relevant subjects of the RTC Order, it is
these 31, including petitioners, and not the 290 others the case for coup d’etat against whom had already been dismissed.

Thus, as things stood as of 11 February 2004, only 31 officers, including petitioners, were still within the jurisdiction of the RTC, as they
remained charged with coup d’etat. None of the 31 were facing any charge before the court-martial, the investigation against them by
the AFP Pre-Trial Investigation Panel had already been concluded by then. On the other hand, the 290 other soldiers, including
the Navales petitioners, were no longer facing any criminal cases before the RTC, but were instead facing court-martial charges. This
symmetry is deliberate, cognizant as the DOJ and the AFP were of the general principle, embodied in RA 7055, that jurisdiction over
acts by soldiers which constitute both a crime under the penal laws and a triable offense under the Articles of War is exercised
exclusively by either the civilian court or the court-martial, depending on the circumstances as dictated under Section 1 of RA 7055.

It was in June of 2004 that this symmetry was shattered. It appears that at that point, the AFP reconsidered its earlier decision not to try
the 31 officers before the court-martial. There appears per record, a letter dated 17 June 2004, captioned "Disposition Form," signed by
a certain De Los Reyes, and recommending that the 31 be charged as well before the court-martial for violation of Article 96 of the
Articles of War and that pre-trial investigation be reconducted for that purpose. 4 This recommendation was approved by then AFP
Chief of Staff Narciso Abaya. It was this decision to reinitiate court-martial proceedings against the 31 that impelled the present petition
for prohibition.

As stated earlier, I believe that ultimately, petitioners may still be charged with violation of Article 96 of the Articles of War,
notwithstanding the pending case for coup d’etat before the RTC against them. My reason for such view lies in the wholly administrative
nature of Article 96 and the sole penalty prescribed therein, dismissal from service, which is beyond the jurisdiction of civilian courts to
impose. Yet I arrive at such view without any denigration of the RTC Order, which proceeds from fundamentally correct premises and
which, to my mind, bears the effect of precluding any further charges before the court-martial against petitioners in relation to the
Oakwood mutiny. Unfortunately, the majority gives undue short shrift to the RTC Order and the predicament confronting the present
petitioners, who are now facing not only trial before the civilian court for the crime of coup d’etat, but also court-martial proceedings for
acts which if not identical to those charged in the criminal case are at least integrally related. I respectfully submit that RA 7055 was
precisely designed to generally prevent such anomaly, but that the majority fails to give fruition to such legislative intent.

Instead, the majority has laid down a general rule that if members of the military are charged before military tribunals with
violation of Articles of War 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97, then the court-martial proceedings would progress
unhampered even if the acts which constitute the violation of the Articles of War also constitute offenses under the Revised
Penal Code. The court-martial proceedings would also ensue even if the said personnel are also charged for the same acts
with a criminal case before the civilian court, and even if the civilian court determines that the acts are not service-connected.
Most critically, this view would allow the defendant to be tried and convicted by both the military and civilian courts for the
same acts, despite the consistent jurisprudential rule that double jeopardy applies even as between court-martial and criminal
trials. I cannot agree to these general propositions, excepting when the defendants happen to be charged before the court-
martial for violation of Article 96 of the Articles of War.

There are three fundamental questions that are consequently raised. First, can Congress by law limit the jurisdiction of military
tribunals and court-martials? Second, does RA 7055 effectively deprive military courts jurisdiction over violations of Articles
of War 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97 if the civilian court determines that the offenses charged do not constitute service-
connected offenses? And third, does it constitute double jeopardy if the same military actor is tried and convicted before both
civilian and military courts for the same acts? I respectfully submit that all these questions should generally be answered in
the affirmative.

Jurisdictions of Courts-Martial In

the Philippines Fundamentally Statutory

I begin with the constitutional and statutory parameters of courts-martial in the Philippines.

It is settled, in cases such as Ruffy v. Chief of Staff, 5 that court-martial proceedings are executive in character, deriving as they do from
the authority of the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. 6 Indeed, the authority of the President to discipline
members of the armed forces stands as one of the hallmarks of the commander-in-chief powers. Obedience to the President and the
chain-of-command are integral to a professional and effective military, and the proper juridical philosophy is to accede as much
deference as possible to this prerogative of the President.

However, in Marcos v. Chief of Staff, 7 decided five (5) years after Ruffy, the Court ruled that the word "court" as used in the
Constitution included the General Court-Martial, citing Winthrop’s Military Law and Precedents, which noted that "courts-martial are [in]
the strictest sense courts of justice". 8 Indeed, it would be foolhardy to ignore, with semantics as expedient, the adjudicative
characteristics of courts-martial and their ability to inflict punishment constituting deprivation of liberty, or even life. A court-martial is still
a court of law and justice, 9 although it is not a part of the judicial system and judicial processes, but remains to be a specialized part of
the over-all mechanism by which military discipline is preserved. 10
Regardless of the accurate legal character of courts-martial, it should go without saying that the authority of the President to discipline
military personnel through that process is still subject to a level of circumscription. Without such concession, the President could very
well impose such draconian measures of military punishment, such as death by firing squad for overweight soldiers. The Court has
indeed, on occasion, recognized limitations and regulations over courts-martial. In Olaguer v. Military Commission, 11 the Court
reasserted that military tribunals cannot try and exercise jurisdiction over civilians for as long as the civil courts are open and
functioning. 12 The authority of the Supreme Court to review decisions of the court-martial was affirmed in Ognir v. Director of
Prisons,13 and should be recognized in light of the judicial power of the Supreme Court under the 1987 Constitution, which extends to
determining grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the
Government. And finally, there are the series of rulings on the subject of double jeopardy, which I shall soon discuss further.

Most strikingly, the "Articles of War" presently in use emanates not from executive fiat, but from a law passed by the National Assembly
known as Commonwealth Act No. 408. As such, the determination of what acts or offenses are punishable by court-martial was in
actuality made not by the President, but by the legislature. As such, the Articles of War are utterly susceptible to legislative amendment,
augmentation, or even revocation.

I do not doubt that without an enabling law, the President would have the power to impose court-martial proceedings under the aegis of
the Commander-in-Chief clause. Yet if there is an enabling law passed, such as Commonwealth Act No. 408, then the President is
bound to exercise the power to prescribe court-martial proceedings only within the limits imposed by the law. These precepts should not
preclude the President from mandating other forms of military discipline, but if the choice is to subject the soldier concerned to court-
martial, then such proceedings should ensue within the boundaries determined by the legislature under Commonwealth Act No. 408.

American jurisprudence is actually quite emphatic that the jurisdiction of a court-martial is established by statute, and a court-martial
has no jurisdiction beyond what is given by statute. "[A] court-martial [is] a special statutory tribunal, with limited powers." 14 To quote
from Corpus Juris Secundum:

The jurisdiction of a court-martial is premised on an authorized convening authority, court membership in accordance with
the law, and power derived from congressional act to try the person and the offense charged. [ 15 Thus, in order for a court-
martial to have jurisdiction, it must be convened and constituted in accordance with law[ 16; and a court-martial has no jurisdiction
beyond what is given it by statute.[ 17 General court-martial jurisdiction is not restricted territorially to the limits of a particular state or
district.

The long continued practice of military authorities in exercising court-martial jurisdiction may aid in the interpretation of statutes
conferring such jurisdiction; but the authority of a Secretary of an armed forces department to issue regulations does not permit
extension of the jurisdictions of courts-martial of the armed force controlled by that department beyond the limits fixed by
Congress[ 19

The language of statutes granting jurisdiction to courts-martial to try persons for offenses must be construed to conform as near as may
be to the constitutional guarantees that protect the rights of citizens in general, it being assumed that Congress intended to guard
jealously against dilution of the liberties of citizens by the enlargement of jurisdiction of military tribunals at the expense of the
jurisdiction of the civil courts. 20

Clearly then, while court-martial under military law may be sui generis, it is not supra legem. The power to try by court-martial is
established, defined and limited by statute, even if it arises as a consequence of the power of the President as Commander-in-Chief.

What are the implications of these doctrines to the case at bar? To my mind, they sufficiently establish that Congress does have the
power to exclude certain acts from the jurisdiction of the General Court-Martial. The same legislature that enacted Commonwealth Act
No. 408 is very well empowered to amend that law, as it has done on occasion. 21 And I submit that Congress has done so with the
enactment of RA 7055.

Republic Act No. 7055

The title of RA 7055 reads "An Act Strengthening Civilian Supremacy Over the Military By Returning to the Civil Courts the
Jurisdiction Over Certain Offenses Involving Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Other Persons Subject to Military
Law, and the Members of the Philippine National Police, Repealing for the Purpose Certain Presidential Decrees." 22 In the Philippines,
the conferment of civil jurisdiction over members of the military charged with non-service connected offenses is predicated on the
constitutional principle of civilian supremacy over the military. 23 As Senator Wigberto Tañada remarked in his sponsorship remarks over
Senate Bill No. 1468, eventually enacted as RA 7055, "[A]s long as the civil courts in the land remain open and are regularly
functioning, military tribunals cannot try and exercise jurisdiction over military men for criminal offenses committed by them and which
are properly cognizable by the civil courts. To have it otherwise would be a violation of the aforementioned constitutional provisions on
the supremacy of civilian authority over the military and the integrity and independence of the judiciary, as well as the due process and
equal-protection clauses of the Constitution." 24

The title of the law alone is already indicative of the law’s general intent to exclude from the jurisdiction of the General Court-
martial "certain offenses" which would now be tried by the civil courts. Section 1 operationalizes such intent, asserting as a
general rule that members of the AFP "who commits crimes penalized under the Revised Penal Code, other special penal laws, or local
government ordinances xxx shall be tried by the proper civil court xxx." Notably, the majority does concede the general rule.

The exception of course, are offenses which are service-connected. They are excluded from the jurisdiction of the civilian courts. It is
worth mentioning at this juncture that the concept of "service-connected" offenses as a determinant of court-martial jurisdiction arose
from American jurisprudence. In O’Callahan v. Parker, 25 decided in 1969, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed previous doctrines and
announced a new constitutional principle ── that a military tribunal ordinarily may not try a serviceman charged with a crime that has
no service connection. 26

RA 7055 Reposes on the Trial Court

The Specific Role of Determining Whether

The Offense is Service-Connected


Obviously, the ascertainment of whether or not a crime is service-connected is of controversial character, necessitating the exercise of
judgment. Appropriately, that function is assigned by Section 1 not to the courts-martial, but to the civil courts. Indeed, Section
1 requires that before the offense shall be tried by court-martial, there must be first a determination before arraignment by the civil
court that the offense is indeed service-connected. Section 1 states:

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other persons subject to military law xxx who commit crimes or offenses penalized
under the Revised Penal Code, other special penal laws, or local government ordinances, regardless of whether or not civilians are co-
accused, victims or offended parties which may be natural or juridical persons, shall be tried by the proper civil court, except when
the offense, as determined before arraignment by the civil court, is service-connected, in which case the offense shall be tried
by court-martial xxx

As used in this Section, service-connected crimes or offenses shall be limited to those defined in Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72
to 92, and Articles 95 to 97 of Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended. 27 (Emphasis supplied.)

There are two possible scenarios that may arise after a soldier commits a crime which is punishable under both the Revised Penal
Code and under Commonwealth Act No. 408.

In one, the soldier is charged only with violation of the Articles of War and tried by the court-martial. In this situation wherein no criminal
case is filed against the soldier, the court-martial continues unimpeded.

In the other, the soldier is charged with both violation of the Articles of War (triable by court-martial) and a criminal offense involving the
same act (triable by the civilian court). Here, a different set of rules operates. RA 7055 comes into application in such a case. Section 1
of RA 7055 clearly reposes on the trial court, and not the court-martial, the duty to determine whether the charges in the information are
service-connected. If the civilian court makes a determination that the acts involved are not service-connected, then the court-
martial will generally have no jurisdiction.

In this particular role, the trial court is merely guided in its determination by Articles of War 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97, the
specific articles to which the determination of service-connected offenses according to RA 7055 is limited. The importance of
the trial court’s function of determination cannot be dismissed lightly. Since the law mandates that the trial court make such a
determination, it necessarily follows that the court has to ascertain on its own whether the offenses charged do fall within the Articles of
War. It would not bind the civilian court that the defendants are charged with the same acts before the court-martial under
Articles of War 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97. The civilian court is required to still make a determination, independent of that
of the court-martial, that the acts charged constitute a service-connected offense.

However, the majority is satisfied that since petitioners are charged before the military tribunal with violation of one of the Articles of
War so mentioned in Section 1 of RA 7055, this offense is within the jurisdiction of the court-martial. The majority is thus of the position
that regardless of whatever transpires in the civilian court trial, court-martial proceedings may ensue unimpeded so long as the
defendants therein are charged with Articles of War 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97. Such jurisdiction of the court-martial subsists even
if the civilian courts had determined that the acts which constitute the offense triable under court-martial are not service-
connected. This position renders utterly worthless the function of the civilian courts to determine whether the offense is
indeed service-connected, as such determination would no longer have any bearing on the jurisdiction of the courts-martial
to try the same acts.

Justice Carpio, in particular, asserts in his Concurring Opinion that the civilian court is limited to "only a facial examination of the charge
sheet in determining whether the offense charged is service connected." 28 This proposition negates the entire purpose of RA 7055, as
it would ultimately render the military as the sole judge whether a civilian court can acquire jurisdiction over criminal acts by military
personnel, even if such soldier has committed a crime under the Revised Penal Code. Under this position, all the military has to do is to
charge the actor with violation of Articles of War 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97, and the civilian court would be effectively deprived of
jurisdiction to try the offense, even if the act is clearly punishable under civil penal laws. With all due respect, such "facial examination",
which would be undertaken by a learned judge of a civilian court, can be accomplished with ease by a non-lawyer, by a fifteen-year old,
or anybody with rudimentary skills in the English language. After all, the only necessary act for such purpose would be to look at the
charge sheet and the Articles of War. As long as the civilian court sees that charge sheet states that the defendants have been charged
with any of the aforementioned Articles of War, the determinative function would already be accomplished.

Under the standard of "facial examination," the trial court can very well make its determination even without the benefit of charge sheet
if there is no such charge sheet yet. In reality though, the trial courts primary source of information and basis for determination is the
information in the criminal case before it, as well as the affidavits and documents which the prosecution may make available to it.
Assuming that there is a court-martial charge sheet, the same on its face may be incapable of capturing the particulars of the criminal
acts committed, as there is no prescribed demand for such particularity. As such, a "facial examination" could not suffice in affording the
civilian court any significant appreciation of the relevant factors in determining whether the offense was indeed service-connected.

Worse, by advocating "facial examination" as a limit, this view would actually allow malfeasors in the military to evade justice, if they are
fortunate enough to have sympathizers within the military brass willing to charge them with a violation of the aforementioned articles of
war in order that they escape the possibly harsher scrutiny of the civilian courts. For example, Article 69 of the Articles of War punishes
persons subject to military law who commit frauds against the government, which include, among others, stealing, embezzling,
knowingly and willfully misappropriating, applying to his own use or benefit or wrongfully or knowingly selling or disposing of "any
ordinance, arms, equipment, ammunition, clothing, subsistence stores, money or other property of the Government furnished or
intended for the military service." 29 The offense, which according to the majority is strictly a service-connected offense, is punishable by
"fine or imprisonment, or by such other punishment as a court-martial may adjudge, or by any or all of said penalties." 30 A military
comptroller who embezzles the pension funds of soldiers could be made liable under Article 95, and thus could be appropriately
charged before the court-martial. Also pursuant to Article 95, the court-martial has the discretion to impose as final punishment a fine
of P1,000.00, even if the comptroller embezzled millions of pesos. If the said comptroller has friends within the military top brass, the
prospect of such a disproportionate penalty is actually feasible.

Now, if Justice Carpio’s position were to be pursued, no civilian court, whether the RTC or the Sandiganbayan, could acquire
jurisdiction over the comptroller for the offense of embezzlement, which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code and the Anti-Graft
and Corrupt Practices Act, the moment the comptroller faces the charge of violating Article 95 before the court-martial. Why? Because
these civilian courts would be limited to "only a facial examination of the charge sheet in determining whether the offense is service-
connected." Justice Carpio adds, "[i]f the offense, as alleged in the charge sheet, falls under the enumeration of service-connected
offenses in Section 1 of RA No. 7055, then the military court has jurisdiction over the offense."

Applying Justice Carpio’s analysis to this theoretical example, the offense is "as alleged in the charge sheet" is a violation of Article 95
of the Articles of War. Article 95 "falls under the enumeration of service-connected offenses in Section 1 of R.A. No. 7055." Then,
according to Justice Carpio, "the military court has jurisdiction over the offense." Yet Section 1 also

states that as a general rule that it is the civilian courts which have jurisdiction to try the offense, "except when the offense, as
determined before arraignment by the civil court, is service-connected, in which case the offense shall be tried by court-
martial." The ineluctable conclusion, applying Justice Carpio’s view to our theoretical example, is that the civilian court does
not have jurisdiction to try the offense constituting embezzlement since it was forced to determine, following the limited facial
examination of the charge sheet, that the act of embezzlement punishable under Article 95 of the Articles of War is a service-
connected offense.

If "facial examination" ill-suffices as the appropriate standard of determination, what then should be the proper level of determination?

Full significance should be accorded the legislative tasking of the civil court, not the military court, to determine whether the offense
before it is service-connected or not. Indeed, determination clearly implies a function of adjudication on the part of the trial court, and
not a mechanical application of a standard pre-determined by some other body. The word "determination" implies deliberation 31 and is,
in normal legal contemplation, equivalent to "the decision of a court of justice." 32 The Court in EPZA v. Dulay 33 declared as
unconstitutional a presidential decree that deprived the courts the function of determining the value of just compensation in eminent
domain cases. In doing so, the Court declared, "the determination of ‘just compensation’ in eminent domain cases is a judicial
function." 34

The majority shows little respect for the plain language of the law. As earlier noted, they believe that the determination reposed in the
civilian court is limited to a facial examination of the military charge sheet to ascertain whether the defendants have been charged
before the court-martial with the violation of Articles of War 54 to 70, 72 to 92, and 95 to 97. Their position could have been sustained
had Section 1 read, "As used in this Section, service-connected crimes or offenses are those defined in Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to
92, and Articles 95 to 97 of Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended," discarding the phrase "shall be limited to" immediately
preceding the words "those defined." Such phraseology makes it clear that "service-connected crimes or offenses" are equivalent to
"Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to 92, and Articles 95 to 97." Yet Section 1 is hardly styled in that fashion. Instead, it precisely reads, "xxx
service-connected crimes or offenses shall be limited to those defined in Articles 54 to 70 xxx."

What is the implication of the phrase "shall be limited to"? This has to be tied to the role of determination ascribed to the civilian court in
the previous paragraph under Section 1. Note again, "determination" signifies that the civilian court has to undertake an inquiry whether
or not the acts are service connected. As stated earlier, the Articles of War specified in Section 1 serve as guides for such
determination. "shall be limited to" assures that the civilian court cannot rely on a ground not rooted on those aforementioned articles in
ruling that an offense is service-connected. For example, the civilian court cannot declare that an offense is service-connected because
the offender is a three-star general. Being a three-star general is in no way connected to Articles 54 to 70, Articles 72 to 92, and Articles
95 to 97.

At the same time, Section 1 concedes that if the act or offense for which the defendant is prosecuted before the civilian court also falls
within those specified Articles of War, then the civilian court has to further determine whether the offense is service-connected. For
example, a soldier who knowingly harbors or protects an enemy of the state may be liable under Article 82 of the Articles of War, which
generally punishes military persons who aid the enemy, or under Article 114 of the Revised Penal Code, which classifies giving aid or
comfort to the enemy as an act of treason. If the soldier is charged with treason, the civilian court may be called upon to determine
whether the acts of assistance are service-connected, and it should be able to take into account the particular circumstances
surrounding such acts. If the trial court determines that the offense is indeed service-connected, finding for example that the defendant
had used his/her rank to assist the enemy, then it may rely on Article 82 in its conclusion that the act is service-connected. If however,
the actor’s being also a soldier proved merely incidental and inconsequential to the assistance rendered to the enemy, the civilian court
could very well declare that the offense is not service-connected and thus subject to trial for treason before it.

The function devolved by the law on the trial court involves the determination of which offenses are service-connected and which
offenses are not. The power of determination, however, is circumscribed by the law itself. By employing the phrase "shall be limited to"
and tying it with specifically enumerated Articles, the law precludes the trial court from characterizing acts which fall under the Articles
not so enumerated as service-connected. Since Article 93 defining rape and Article 94 defining "various crimes" are not included in the
enumeration in RA 7055 it follows that the trial court is devoid of authority to declare rape and "various crimes" as service-connected.

Again, the general purpose of RA 7055 is to deprive the court-martial of jurisdiction to try cases which are properly cognizable
before the civilian courts. Hence, if a soldier is charged with violation of any of the articles other than those referred to in Section 1, the
court-martial is deprived of jurisdiction under RA 7055 if such violation also constitutes a crime or offense under our penal laws. Section
1, by citing those aforementioned articles, carves an exception to the general rule, yet at the same time, qualifies this exception as
subject to the determination of the trial court. Hence, if the trial court so determines that the "service-connected" exception does not
apply, the general rule depriving the court-martial jurisdiction over the offense should continue to operate.

It is worth mentioning that prior to RA 7055, Commonwealth Act No. 408 recognized an exception to the rule that military persons are
always subjected to court-martial in lieu of civil trial. Article 94 stipulated that a person subject to military law who committed a felony,
crime, breach of law or violation of municipal ordinance recognized as an offense of a penal nature was punishable by court-martial,
provided that such act was committed "inside a reservation of the [AFP]," or outside such reservation when the offended party is a
person subject to military law. 35The implication, therefore, was that if such act described were committed outside a military reservation,
the civilian courts would have jurisdiction to try such offense. As the official Manual for Courts-Martial of the AFP states, "[w]henever
persons subject to military law commit any of the offenses above stated outside Philippine Army reservations, they fall under the
exclusive jurisdiction of civil courts." 36

RA 7055 clearly expands this exception, by now mandating that even crimes committed within military reservations fall within the
jurisdiction of civil courts, the only exception remaining is if it is determined by the civilian court that the offense is actually service-
connected. Significantly, Section 1 of RA 7055 did not include Article 94 as among the Articles of War which define service-connected
offenses. 37 Evidently the situs of the offense is not material as to whether the acts committed are service-connected offenses.
Admittedly, RA 7055 effectively curtails the ability of the military leadership to discipline the soldiers under their command through the
court-martial process. This is accomplished though not by shielding errant soldiers from the criminal processes, but instead through the
opposite route, by entrusting to the civilian courts the authority and sufficient discretion to impose substantive justice on such soldiers,
conformably with the constitutional principle of civilian supremacy over the military. It must be noted that the acquisition of exclusive
jurisdiction by the court-martial to try soldiers for acts punishable under penal laws is a double-edged sword of mischief. It can be
utilized by a military leadership with an unquenchable thirst to punish its soldiers, a procedure which is facilitated due to the relatively
lighter evidentiary requirements under military justice. It can also be utilized by a military leadership greatly sympathetic to one of their
"mistahs" under fire, since the ability to inflict the lightest and most disproportionate of punishments falls within the wide range of
discretion in the punishment accorded by law to courts-martial. Either premise is undesirable, and precisely RA 7055 was enacted to
ensure that the civilian courts have all the opportunity to acquire jurisdiction over military persons who commit crimes, and to assure the
trial courts all the discretion necessary to determine whether it should assume jurisdiction if the exception provided under Section 1 of
the law is invoked.

RA 7055 Generally Prevents Military Personnel

From Facing Simultaneous Criminal Trials and Courts-Martial

Over the Same Acts or Offenses

It is thus not enough that petitioners have been charged with violating an Article of War referred to in Section 1 to authorize their court-
martial to proceed, since the same act that constitutes the violation of an Article of War is also alleged in the complaint for coup
d’etat now pending in the civilian courts. In order that the court-martial proceedings against petitioners could ensue, it is indisputably
necessary that the RTC Order determining that the charges before the court-martial are not service-connected is directly nullified or
reconsidered with the needed effect of terminating the criminal case for coup d’etat against them. If the act constituting the offense
triable before the civilian courts and the court-martial are the same, then the defendants may be tried only either before the civilian
courts or the court-martial, and not in both tribunals.

This is precisely why the exceptions under Section 1 of RA 7055 were provided for – to prevent the anomaly of the defendants
being subjected to two different trials of equally punitive value for the same act. It is well worth noting that the Senate
deliberations on RA 7055 indicate a strong concern on the part of the legislators over the situation wherein violations of the Articles of
War also stand as violations of the Revised Penal Code. The following exchange between the late Senate President Neptali Gonzales
and Senator Wigberto Tañada is worth noting:

Senator Gonzales. Again, in line 16, it says: The offenses defined in Articles 54 to 93 and 95 to 97 of the Articles of War, established
by Commonwealth Act Numbered Four Hundred Eight, as amended, the same shall be triable by court-martial.

But there are many offenses which are also violations of the Articles of War. For example, murder. It may not necessarily be a
murder of a fellow member of the Armed Forces. That is also a violation of the Articles of War; but, at the same time, it is also
a crime punishable under the Penal Code. What do we do in such a situation?

Senator Tañada. In such an example, that would be tried by the civil courts. We had accepted the amendment proposed by
Senator Ziga to exclude Article 93 under the Articles of War which would refer to murder or rape committed in times of war. Now, we
have excluded that, because we believe that the murder or rape, whether committed in times of war, should not be tried by the civil
courts.

Senator Gonzales. Do we have the distinguished Gentleman’s assurance that after deleting Article 93, also with respect to Articles 54
to 92, 95 to 97, there is absolutely no situation wherein the same act constitutes a violation of the Revised Penal Code and at the same
time a violation of the Articles of War?

Senator Tañada. Yes, Mr. President. We excluded also Article 94 of the Articles of War, because this refers to various crimes that may
be committed by persons subject to military law, which crimes can be considered as felonies, breach of law, or violation of municipal
ordinance, which is recognized as an offense of a penal nature, and is punishable under the penal laws of the Philippines or under
municipal ordinances.

Senator Gonzales. We have the assurance of the distinguished Gentleman, and we rely on that assurance. xxx 38

The passage deserves to be cited as it affirms the deliberate intent, already evident in the text of the law itself, to avoid the scenario of
the civilian courts and the courts-martial exercising concurrent jurisdiction over the same acts. Hence, for as long as the act committed
by the soldier does not fall within those Articles of War referred to in Section 1, the civilian courts alone exercises jurisdiction over the
trial of the acts. If it is asserted by the courts-martial, or otherwise argued, that the act complained of falls within those Articles of War
referred to in Section 1, then the civilian court must make a determination that the acts committed are "service-connected," with the
cited Articles as reference, before it can exercise its jurisdiction to the exclusion of the courts-martial. If the trial court declares that the
acts are service-connected, it then is obliged to decline jurisdiction in favor of the courts-martial.

The cited passage does express the opinion of Senator Tañada that there is absolutely no situation wherein the same act constitutes a
violation of the Revised Penal Code and at the same time a violation of the Articles of War. Such opinion might be cited to refute the
declaration in the RTC Order that the acts charged before the court-martial were absorbed in the crime of coup d’etat. Yet caution
should be had before this opinion of Senator Tañada is cited for that purpose. The quoted remarks were made on 21 May 1990, or five
(5) months before the crime of coup d’etatwas incorporated into the Revised Penal Code with the enactment of Republic Act No. 6968
on 24 October 1990. Certainly, when Senator Tañada made such opinion, he had no reason to believe that the cited Articles of War did
not constitute any violation of the Revised Penal Code, particularly the crime of coup d’etat, since no such crime existed then.

Double Jeopardy

There is another vital reason RA 7055 cannot be interpreted in such a way as to permit both civilian and military trials of military
personnel over the same act. Double jeopardy would arise as a consequence if such an interpretation were foisted.
It is very well settled that double jeopardy attaches if one is tried by both a military court and a civilian court over the same act,
notwithstanding the differing natures of both tribunals. The rule was pronounced by the Philippine Supreme Court as far back as 1903,
in U.S. v. Colley. 39 Therein, the defendant was sentenced to death by a court-martial after murdering a fellow soldier, but the sentence
could not be carried out after the reviewing authority of the Army concluded that the military authorities were without power to carry into
execution the sentence. He then was charged with the same offense before a civilian court. In ruling that the criminal case should be
dismissed, the Court ruled that the criminal trial was barred by double jeopardy. The Court pronounced: "So here there is but one
offense, that against the United States, and when the Government chooses the tribunal in which to try an offender, when the trial takes
place in that tribunal, and when the accused is convicted and sentenced, he can not again be put in jeopardy in another court of the
same sovereignty. xxx It follows that the defendant having been once in jeopardy can not be tried again for the offense of which he was
formerly convicted." 40 A similar situation obtained in U.S. v. Tubig, 41 decided some months later, and a similar judgment of acquittal
was mandated by the Court on the ground of double jeopardy.

The doctrine has survived past the American occupation. In 1954, the Court was again confronted with the issue whether a sentence
passed by a military court barred further prosecution of the same offense in a civilian court. The Court, in Crisologo v.
People, 42 squarely ruled that double jeopardy indeed barred such prosecution:

As we see it, the case hinges on whether the decision of the military court constitutes a bar to further prosecution for the same offense
in the civil courts.

The question is not of first impression in this jurisdiction. In the case of U. S. vs. Tubig, 3 Phil., 244, a soldier of the United States Army
in the Philippines was charged in the Court of First Instance of Pampanga with having assassinated one Antonio Alivia. Upon
arraignment, he pleaded double jeopardy in that he had already been previously convicted and sentenced by a court-martial for the
same offense and had already served his sentence. The trial court overruled the plea on the grounds that as the province where the
offense was committed was under civil jurisdiction, the military court had no jurisdiction to try the offense. But on appeal, this court held
that "one who has been tried and convicted by a court-martial under circumstances giving that tribunal jurisdiction of the defendant and
of the offense, has been once in jeopardy and cannot for the same offense be again prosecuted in another court of the same
sovereignty." In a later case, Grafton vs. U. S. 11 Phil., 776, a private in the United States Army in the Philippines was tried by a general
court-martial for homicide under the Articles of War. Having been acquitted in that court, he was prosecuted in the Court of First
Instance of Iloilo for murder under the general laws of the Philippines. Invoking his previous acquittal in the military court, he pleaded it
in bar of proceedings against him in the civil court, but the latter court overruled the plea and after trial found him guilty of homicide and
sentenced him to prison. The sentence was affirmed by this Supreme Court, but on appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States,
the sentence was reversed and defendant acquitted, that court holding that "defendant, having been acquitted of the crime of homicide
alleged to have been committed by him by a court-martial of competent jurisdiction proceeding under the authority of the United States,
cannot be subsequently tried for the same offense in a civil court exercising authority in the Philippines."

There is, for sure, a rule that where an act transgresses both civil and military law and subjects the offender to punishment by both civil
and military authority, a conviction or an acquittal in a civil court cannot be pleaded as a bar to a prosecution in the military court, and
vice versa. But the rule "is strictly limited to the case of a single act which infringes both the civil and the military law in such a manner
as to constitute two distinct offenses, one of which is within the cognizance of the military courts and the other a subject of civil
jurisdiction" (15 Am. Jur., 72), and it does not apply where both courts derive their powers from the same sovereignty. (22 C. J. S., 449.)
It therefore, has no application to the present case where the military court that convicted the petitioner and the civil court which
proposes to try him again derive their powers from one sovereignty and it is not disputed that the charges of treason tried in the court-
martial were punishable under the Articles of War, it being as a matter of fact impliedly admitted by the Solicitor General that the two
courts have concurrent jurisdiction over the offense charged. 43

As noted earlier, Marcos, relying on Winthrop’s Military Law, pronounced that courts-martial are still courts in constitutional
contemplation. 44 At the same time, the Court in Marcos pursued the logic of this thinking insofar as double jeopardy was concerned:

Besides, that a court-martial is a court, and the prosecution of an accused before it is a criminal and not an administrative case, and
therefore it would be, under certain conditions, a bar to another prosecution of the defendant for the same offense, because the latter
would place the accused in double jeopardy, is shown by the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Grafton
vs. United States, 206 U. S. 333; 51 Law. Ed., 1088, 1092, in which the following was held:

"If a court-martial has jurisdiction to try an officer or soldier for a crime, its judgment will be accorded the finality and conclusiveness as
to the issues involved which attend the judgments of a civil court in a case of which it may legally take cognizance; . . . and restricting
our decision to the above question of double jeopardy, we adjudge that, consistently with the above act of 1902, and for the reasons
stated, the plaintiff in error, a soldier in the Army, having been acquitted of the crime of homicide, alleged to have been committed by
him in the Philippines, by a military court of competent jurisdiction, proceeding under the authority of the United States, could not be
subsequently tried for the same offense in a civil court exercising authority in that territory."

I am aware that following the Court’s 1993 ruling in People v. Pineda, 45 double jeopardy will not attach unless either the RTC or the
court-martial passes sentence on the petitioners. Yet even applying the Pineda doctrine, it is inevitable that, once either tribunal renders
judgment on the merits, double jeopardy would bar the further prosecution by the court which was last in time to pronounce sentence,
regardless whether petitioners were convicted or acquitted. If both the RTC trial for coup d’etat and the court-martial of the petitioners
are allowed to proceed unhampered, the strong likelihood arises that either one will be eventually mooted, no matter the stage, should
the other pronounce sentence.

I submit that RA 7055 precisely sought to avoid such a scenario by prescribing, as a general rule, an exclusively civilian trial for military
personnel charged with offenses punishable under our penal laws, even if they are also punishable under the Articles of War. The only
general exception lies if the civilian court determines that the acts constituting the court-martial offenses are service-connected, as
defined under those Articles of War referred to in Section 1, in which case jurisdiction falls exclusively with the court-martial. If the
civilian court arrives at a contrary determination, the civilian court retains jurisdiction to the exclusion of the court-martial unless and
until such determination is reconsidered or set aside, or unless the criminal case is dismissed or dropped for reasons other than
acquittal on the merits. The only exception I am willing to concede is if the charge before the court-martial falls under Article 96, which I
will discuss further.

Notion of Absorption of Crimes

Irrelevant to Determination under RA 7055


I would like to dwell briefly on the suggestion that the RTC erred in pronouncing that the acts for which petitioners were charged before
the court-martial were "absorbed" in the crime of coup d’etat. Justice Callejo, Sr., in his Concurring Opinion, cites Baylosis v.
Chavez, 46 and the rule that the doctrines laid down on the absorption of common crimes by political crimes do not apply to crimes
which are sui generis offenses.

This aspect is no longer material to my own disposition of the petition, yet I think it is misplaced to apply the doctrine of absorption of
crimes to the determination of service-connected offenses made by the civilian court pursuant to Section 1 of RA 7055. The function of
such determination by the trial court under RA 7055 is wholly different from that utilized by the trial court in ascertaining whether crime
A is absorbed by crime B in the classic criminal law context. The latter is material to the trial court in reaching conclusions as to which
crimes may be considered against the accused and which penalties may apply as to them. However, the purpose of the determination
under RA 7055 is merely for establishing whether the acts for which the accused stand charged before the courts-martial are indeed
service-connected offenses cognizable exclusively before the military courts, or non-service connected offenses cognizable exclusively
before the civilian courts. The determining factor is whether the act is "service-connected," not whether one act is absorbed into the
other.

The RTC may have been too loose in language when it utilized the word "absorbed," yet the word should not be appreciated in the
context of absorption of crimes, as such consideration is wholly irrelevant for purposes of Section 1. Instead, I think that the pertinent
conclusion of the RTC in its Order was that the acts charged before the court-martial were not service-connected, as they were
committed in furtherance of the crime of coup d’etat. This, and not the notion of absorption of crimes, should be the foundational basis
for any attack of the RTC Order.

The Special Circumstance Surrounding Article of War 96

It is my general conclusion that if the civilian court makes a determination that the acts for which the accused stands charged of, for
violating those Articles of War referred to in Section 1 of RA 7055, are not service-connected, then such determination, once final,
deprives the court-martial jurisdiction to try the offense. However, I submit that Article of War 96 warrants special consideration, as it
differs in character from the other Articles of War referred to in Section 1 of RA 7055.

Article 96 of Commonwealth Act No. 408, as amended, reads:

Art. 96. Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman. — Any officer, cadet, flying cadet, or probationary second lieutenant, who is
convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be dismissed from the service.

Justice Callejo, Sr. points out in his Concurring Opinion that "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman is a uniquely military
offense," 47 and that "[t]he article proscribing conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman has been held to be wholly independent
of other definitions of offenses xxx [and] is not subject to preemption by other punitive articles." 48 It is difficult to dispute these
conclusions, which derive from American military case law. After all, "conduct unbecoming" pertains to the unique exigencies of military
life and discipline, whereby an officer is expected to conform to an idiosyncratic etiquette not required of civilians.

Yet more pertinent to my position is the penalty prescribed by Article 96 for "conduct unbecoming." The penalty is dismissal from
service, a penalty which is administrative in character, and beyond the jurisdiction of the civilian court to impose. Notably, of all the
Articles of War referred to in Section 1 of RA 7055, it is only Article 96 that provides for dismissal from service as the exclusive penalty.
All the other articles so mentioned allow for the penalty of death, imprisonment, or a punishment "as a court-martial may so direct"
which could very well constitute any deprivation of life or liberty. While these other articles prescribes a penalty which is penal in nature,
it is only Article 96 which provides for a penalty which is administrative in character.

As a result, I am prepared to conclude that courts-martial retain the jurisdiction to try violations of Article 96 of Commonwealth Act No.
408, or conduct unbecoming of an officer, even if the RTC determines that the acts constituting such violation are service-connected.
The intent of RA 7055 is to restore to civilian courts jurisdiction over offenses which are properly cognizable by them to the exclusion of
courts-martial. Such intent could obviously not extend to those offenses which the civilian courts do not have jurisdiction to try and
punish. Civilian courts are utterly incapable of penalizing military officers with the penalty of discharge from the service, since the
penalty is administrative in character 49 and imposable only by the military chain of command.

Petition Should Have Been Granted If Petitioners

Were Charged Under A Different Article of War

Still, if petitioners were facing the charge of mutiny under Article 63 of the Articles of War, or any other Article of War for that matter, in
connection with the Oakwood incident, the petition would have been fully meritorious. The RTC has made a determination that all acts
related to the Oakwood incident are not service-connected offenses. I am not fully prepared to subscribe to the position that the acts
relating to Oakwood were "absorbed" in the offense of coup d’etat. However, I do concede two important points. First, the RTC did
determine that the acts relating to Oakwood were not service-connected. Second, the determination of the RTC, as embodied in the 11
February 2004 Order, remains binding as the said Order has not been appealed. It has not been modified or set aside, even by the
present decision or by the ruling in Navales.

The majority is clearly in a quandary, all too willing to pronounce that the Order is wrong, or even a nullity, yet unable to directly nullify
the same. Respondents argue that the Order is already final and beyond challenge, and that contention should not be dismissed
offhand. The suggestion has been raised that the principle of res judicata should not be made to apply in this case, since the AFP was
not a party to the criminal case. This claim is off-tangent, assuming as it does that the AFP somehow has a distinct and segregate legal
personality from the government of the Philippines. The AFP is part of the government. It is indeed headed by the same person who
heads the executive branch of government. The AFP likewise answers to officers of the executive branch, such as the Secretary of
Defense. Certainly, the rendition of the Order would have presumably caused the same level and degree of grief on the AFP as it would
have on the Department of Justice.

But was the government truly offended by the RTC Order? If it were, it should have timely elevated the same for appellate review. The
fact that it did not gives further indication that the government recognized that Order as fundamentally correct, especially considering
that it contains the very same conclusions reached by the Pre-Trial Investigating Panel constituted by the AFP.
I think in the end, respondents fully understood and applied the correct implications of RA 7055 as it pertained to petitioners. Had
respondents been aligned in thinking with the majority, they would have been emboldened to charge petitioners with violations of other
Articles of War despite the RTC Order and the pendency of the coup d’etatcase. Petitioners could have very well been charged before
the court-martial with violation of Article 63, for mutiny, just as the 290 other participants in the "Oakwood mutiny." Respondents
however did not do so, respecting in fact the assumption of jurisdiction by the civilian court over the crime of coup d’etat. Instead,
respondents limited the court-martial charge against petitioners for violation of Article 96, a punitive article which is nonetheless wholly
administrative in character and in penalty.

The majority unfortunately shows no similar prudence. Instead, it has opted to take the path that leads to most resistance. With the
decision today, there now stands a very real danger tomorrow that persons standing criminal trial before the civil courts, including the
Sandiganbayan, who also happen to be facing charges before the court-martial for violation of Articles 54 to 70, 72 to 92, 95 or 97, will
move for the dismissal of all their cases before the civilian courts. Assuming that there is integral relation between the acts now
cognizable under court-martial and the acts for which those defendants face criminal trial, the trial courts will feel but little choice to
dismiss those charge, in light of the present majority ruling. Military justice was once supreme over civilian justice. We should not go
down that way again. Too many ghosts haunt that road.

I vote to dismiss the petition, for the reason discussed above. Insofar as the majority ruling deviates from the views I stated herein, I
respectfully dissent.

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

Footnotes

1 Rollo, pp. 107-115.

2 See id. at 186-206.

3G.R. No. 162318 & 162341, 25 October 2004, 441 SCRA 393. The author of this opinion was a member of the Court that
unanimously decided Navales, which used a similar rationale in dismissing the petitions therein to that now employed by the
majority. Even at present, the author submits that Navales was correctly decided, considering the following declaration made
by the Court therein: " There was no factual and legal basis for the RTC (Branch 148) to rule that violations of Articles 63, 64,
67, 96, and 97 of the Articles of War were committed in furtherance of coup d'etat and, as such, absorbed by the latter crime. It
bears stressing that, after a reinvestigation, the Panel of Prosecutors found no probable cause for coup d'etat against
the petitioners and recommended the dismissal of the case against them. The trial court approved the
recommendation and dismissed the case as against the petitioners. There is, as yet, no evidence on record that the
petitioners committed the violations of Articles 63, 64, 96, and 97 of the Articles of War in furtherance of coup d'etat" Navales
v. Abaya, id., at 417. Nonetheless, the author acknowledges that several passages in Navales are not consistent with the
views expressed in this Opinion which now embodies the author’s present thinking, arrived at after considerable reevaluation
of the legal issues involved.

4 Rollo, pp. 266-267.

5 75 Phil. 875 (1946).

6 See also e.g., S/Sgt. Santiago v. Lt. Col. Alikpala, et al., 134 Phil. 309, 318 (1968).

7
89 Phil. 246 (1951).

8 Id. at 248-249.

9 Claro C. Gloria, Philippine Military Law, p. 18 (1956), citing Winthrop, Military Law and Precedents , 2nd Ed., p. 54.

"As a court of law, it is bound, like any court, by the fundamental principles of law, and in the absence of a special provision on
the subject in the military code, it observes in general the rules of evidence as adopted in the civil courts. As a court of justice,
it is required, by the terms of its statutory oath, to adjudicate between the Philippines and the accused "without partiality, favor,
or affection," and according, not only to the laws and customs of the service, but to its "conscience, i.e., its sense of substantial
right and justice unaffected by technicalities. In the strictest sense courts-martial are courts of justice."

10Magno v. de Villa, G.R. No. 92606, 26 July 1991, 199 SCRA 663, 673, citing Chief Justice Teehankee in Vargas v. RADM
Kilcline, et al.

11 GR. Nos. L-54558 & L-69882, 22 May 1987, 150 SCRA 144.

12 Id. at 165.

13 80 Phil. 401 (1948).

14 Collins v. McDonald, 258 US 416, 417.

15 NCMR - U.S. v. Moody, 10 M.J. 845.

16 ACMR – U.S. v. Wilson, 27 M.J. 555.

17 In re Wilson, D.C.Va., 33 F.2d 214.


18 U.S. ex rel. Hirshberg v. Cooke, N.Y., 69 S.Ct. 530, 336 U.S. 210, 93 L.Ed. 621.

19
U.S. ex rel. Flannery v. Commanding General, Second Service Command, D.C.N.Y., 69 F.Supp. 661.

20 57 C.J.S. Military Justice § 156. Emphasis supplied.

21 Com. Act No. 408 has been amended by Rep. Act No. 242 (1948) and Rep. Act No. 516 (1950).

22
Emphasis supplied.

23 See Constitution, Art. II, Section 3.

24
Record of the Senate, 9 May 1990, p. 671.

25 395 U.S. 298 (1969).

26See also Gosa v. Mayden, 413 U.S. 665, 672 (1973). O’Callahan in turn was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its
1987 ruling in Solorio v. U.S., 483 U.S. 435, which reiterated the previous doctrine that the proper exercise of court-martial
jurisdiction over an offense hinged on one factor: the military status of the accused. Solorio v. U.S., id. at 450-451. Still, it
would be foolhardy to apply any persuasive value to the Solorio ruling to the present petition. The Court in Solorio whole-
heartedly embraced the principle that it was the U.S. Congress that possessed "the authority to regulate the conduct of
persons who are actually members of the armed services", id., at 441. The U.S. Supreme Court also acknowledged that
"Congress has primary responsibility for the delicate task of balancing the rights of servicemen against the needs of the
military. As [the U.S. Supreme Court] recently reiterated, ‘judicial deference… is at its apogee when legislative action under
the congressional authority to raise and support armies and make rules and regulations for their governance is challenged.’"
Id., at 447, citing Goldman v. Weinberger, 475 U.S. 503, 508 (1986). There was no American statute that prescribed the
"service-connected" standard, even at the time O’Callahan was decided, the latter decision predicated instead on the Fifth and
Six Amendments in the Bill of Rights. In the Philippine setting, "service-connected" is a standard duly legislated and enacted
by Congress under Rep. Act No. 7055. My views in this Opinion are thus conformable even to the Solorio decision.

27
Section 1, Rep. Act No. 7055. Emphasis supplied.

28 Concurring Opinion, J. Carpio, infra.

29
See Article 95, Com. Act No. 408, as amended.

30 Id.

31"The words ‘a design, a determination, to kill, distinctly formed in the mind’ in an instruction, imply deliberation. ‘xxx The word
‘determination in this instruction is not used in any technical sense; in fact, it has no technical sense in which it means less
than it does in popular signification. Webster defines it to be a ‘decision of a question in the mind; firm resolution; settled
purpose.’ Can it be said that a question can be decided, a wavering resolution made firm, or a hesitating purpose settled
without deliberation?" 12 Words and Phrases (1954 ed.), p. 478-479; citing State v. Ah Mook, 12 Nev. 369, 390.

32
1 Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (8th ed., 1914), p. 858.

33 G.R. No. L-59603, 29 April 1987, 149 SCRA 305.

34Id. at 316. Justice Vicente Mendoza’s declaration in Iglesia Ni Cristo v. Court of Appeals, 328 Phil. 893 (1996), is worth
mentioning. "Indeed, I cannot understand why, after ruling that the valuation of property in eminent domain is essentially a
judicial function which cannot be vested in administrative agencies, this Court should be willing to leave the valuation of that
priceless commodity — expression, whether by means of motion picture or television — to administrative agencies with only
occasional review by the courts. The trend may be toward greater delegation of judicial authority to administrative agencies in
matters requiring technical knowledge and as a means of relieving courts of cases which such agencies can very well attend
to. There is no justification, however, for such delegation in the area of our essential freedoms, particularly freedom of
expression, where "only a judicial determination in an adversary proceeding [can] ensure the necessary sensitivity to freedom
of expression." Id. at 962, J. Mendoza, Separate Opinion.

35 This proviso was enacted as an amendment to Com. Act No. 408 by Rep. Act No. 242 in 1948.

36 A Manual for Courts-Martial: Armed Forces of the Philippines, p. 181.

37 See note 27.

38 Record of the Senate, 21 May 1990, p. 840.

39
3 Phil. 58 (1903).

40 Id. at 66.

41 3 Phil.244 (1904).

42
94 Phil. 477 (1954).
43 Id. at 479-480.

44
Supra note 9.

45 G.R. No. 44205, 16 February 1993, 219 SCRA 1.

46 G.R. 95136, 3 October 1991, 202 SCRA 405.

47 Concurring Opinion of Justice Callejo, Sr., infra; citing U.S. v. Weldon, 7 M.J. 938 (1979).

48 Id. citing U.S. v. Taylor, 23 M.J. 341 (1987).

49 "The provisions of both the Civil Code and the Rules of Court regarding the relationship between the criminal and civil
liabilities of an accused do not contemplate administrative actions against government officers and employees. While there
may be specific statutes making criminal guilt indispensable to the dismissal or any other form of administrative punishment for
certain public employees, and there have been instances when the court itself did order reinstatement as a consequence of
absolute acquittal, as a rule xxx the administrative determination as to an employee’s dismissal or punishment in any other
way is not predicated in any respect on the result of corresponding criminal proceedings." Rice and Corn Administration v.
Silao, G.R. No. L-25294, 21 August 1980, 99 SCRA 200, 207-208. "[T]he criminal action is separate and distinct from the
administrative case. And, if only for that reason, so is administrative liability separate and distinct from penal liability. Hence,
probation only affects the criminal aspect of the case, not its administrative dimension." Samalio v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
140079, 31 March 2005, 454 SCRA 462, 475.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 173150 July 28, 2010

LYDIA C. GELIG, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

An examination of the entire records of a case may be explored for the purpose of arriving at a correct conclusion, as an appeal in
criminal cases throws the whole case open for review, it being the duty of the court to correct such error as may be found in the
judgment appealed from.1

Petitioner Lydia Gelig (Lydia) impugns the Decision 2 promulgated on January 10, 2006 by the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No.
27488 that vacated and set aside the Decision 3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Cebu City, Branch 23, in Criminal Case No. CU-
10314. The RTC Decision convicted Lydia for committing the complex crime of direct assault with unintentional abortion but the CA
found her guilty only of the crime of slight physical injuries.

Factual Antecedents

On June 6, 1982, an Information4 was filed charging Lydia with Direct Assault with Unintentional Abortion committed as follows:

That on the 17th day of July, 1981 at around 10:00 o’clock in the morning, at Barangay Nailon, Municipality of Bogo, Province of Cebu,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and
feloniously assault, attack, employ force and seriously intimidate one Gemma B. Micarsos a public classroom teacher of Nailon
Elementary School while in the performance of official duties and functions as such which acts consequently caused the unintentional
abortion upon the person of the said Gemma S. Micarsos.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Lydia pleaded not guilty during her arraignment. Thereafter, trial ensued.

The Prosecution’s Version

Lydia and private complainant Gemma B. Micarsos (Gemma), were public school teachers at the Nailon Elementary School, in Nailon,
Bogo, Cebu. Lydia’s son, Roseller, was a student of Gemma at the time material to this case.

On July 17, 1981, at around 10:00 o’clock in the morning, Lydia confronted Gemma after learning from Roseller that Gemma called him
a "sissy" while in class. Lydia slapped Gemma in the cheek and pushed her, thereby causing her to fall and hit a wall divider. As a
result of Lydia’s violent assault, Gemma suffered a contusion in her "maxillary area", as shown by a medical certificate 5 issued by a
doctor in the Bogo General Hospital. However, Gemma continued to experience abdominal pains and started bleeding two days after
the incident. On August 28, 1981, she was admitted in the Southern Islands Hospital and was diagnosed, to her surprise, to have
suffered incomplete abortion. Accordingly, a medical certificate 6 was issued.

The Defense’s Version


Lydia claimed that she approached Gemma only to tell her to refrain from calling her son names, so that his classmates will not follow
suit. However, Gemma proceeded to attack her by holding her hands and kicking her. She was therefore forced to retaliate by pushing
Gemma against the wall.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On October 11, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision convicting Lydia of the complex crime of direct assault with unintentional
abortion. The dispositive portion reads:

WHEREFORE, the court finds the accused LYDIA GELIG, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of direct assault with
unintentional abortion, and she is hereby sentenced to suffer an Indeterminate Penalty of SIX (6) MONTHS OF ARRESTO MAYOR AS
MINIMUM TO FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS OF PRISION CORRECCIONAL AS MAXIMUM. She is likewise ordered to pay
the offended party the amount of Ten Thousand (₱10,000.00) Pesos as actual damages and Fifteen Thousand (₱15,000.00) Pesos for
moral damages.

SO ORDERED.7

Thus, Lydia filed an appeal.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The CA vacated the trial court’s judgment. It ruled that Lydia cannot be held liable for direct assault since Gemma descended from
being a person in authority to a private individual when, instead of pacifying Lydia or informing the principal of the matter, she engaged
in a fight with Lydia.8 Likewise, Lydia’s purpose was not to defy the authorities but to confront Gemma on the alleged name-calling of
her son.9

The appellate court also ruled that Lydia cannot be held liable for unintentional abortion since there was no evidence that she was
aware of Gemma’s pregnancy at the time of the incident. 10 However, it declared that Lydia can be held guilty of slight physical injuries,
thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed Decision of the Regional Trial Court-Branch 23 of Cebu City, dated October 11,
2002 is hereby VACATED AND SET ASIDE. A new one is entered CONVICTING the accused-appellant for slight physical injuries
pursuant to Article 266 (1) of the Revised Penal Code and sentencing her to suffer the penalty of arresto menor minimum of ten (10)
days.

SO ORDERED.11

Issues

Still dissatisfied, Lydia filed this petition raising the following as errors:

1. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in finding that the petitioner is liable for Slight Physical Injuries pursuant to Article 266
(1) of the Revised Penal Code and sentencing her to suffer the penalty of arrestomenor minimum of ten days.

2. The Honorable Court of Appeals erred in finding that the petitioner can be convicted of Slight Physical Injuries under the
information charging her for Direct Assault with Unintentional Abortion. 12

Our Ruling

The petition lacks merit.

When an accused appeals from the judgment of his conviction, he waives his constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy and
throws the entire case open for appellate review. We are then called upon to render such judgment as law and justice dictate in the
exercise of our concomitant authority to review and sift through the whole case to correct any error, even if unassigned. 13

The Information charged Lydia with committing the complex crime of direct assault with unintentional abortion. Direct assault is defined
and penalized under Article 148 of the Revised Penal Code. The provision reads as follows:

Art. 148. Direct assaults. - Any person or persons who, without a public uprising, shall employ force or intimidation for the attainment of
any of the purposes enumerated in defining the crimes of rebellion and sedition, or shall attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or
resist any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of official duties, or on occasion of such
performance, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine not exceeding 1,000 pesos,
when the assault is committed with a weapon or when the offender is a public officer or employee, or when the offender lays hands
upon a person in authority. If none of these circumstances be present, the penalty of prision correccional in its minimum period and a
fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed. 1avvphi1

It is clear from the foregoing provision that direct assault is an offense against public order that may be committed in two ways: first, by
any person or persons who, without a public uprising, shall employ force or intimidation for the attainment of any of the purposes
enumerated in defining the crimes of rebellion and sedition; and second, by any person or persons who, without a public uprising, shall
attack, employ force, or seriously intimidate or resist any person in authority or any of his agents, while engaged in the performance of
official duties, or on occasion of such performance. 14

The case of Lydia falls under the second mode, which is the more common form of assault. Its elements are:
1. That the offender (a) makes an attack, (b) employs force, (c) makes a serious intimidation, or (d) makes a serious
resistance.

2. That the person assaulted is a person in authority or his agent.

3. That at the time of the assault the person in authority or his agent (a) is engaged in the actual performance of official duties,
or [b] that he is assaulted by reason of the past performance of official duties.

4. That the offender knows that the one he is assaulting is a person in authority or his agent in the exercise of his duties.

4. That there is no public uprising.15

On the day of the commission of the assault, Gemma was engaged in the performance of her official duties, that is, she was busy with
paperwork while supervising and looking after the needs of pupils who are taking their recess in the classroom to which she was
assigned. Lydia was already angry when she entered the classroom and accused Gemma of calling her son a "sissy". Lydia refused to
be pacified despite the efforts of Gemma and instead initiated a verbal abuse that enraged the victim. Gemma then proceeded towards
the principal’s office but Lydia followed and resorted to the use of force by slapping and pushing her against a wall divider. The violent
act resulted in Gemma’s fall to the floor.

Gemma being a public school teacher, belongs to the class of persons in authority expressly mentioned in Article 152 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended. The pertinent portion of the provision reads as follows:

Art. 152. Persons in Authority and Agents of Persons in Authority – Who shall be deemed as such. –

xxxx

In applying the provisions of articles 148 and 151 of this Code, teachers, professors, and persons charged with the supervision of public
or duly recognized private schools, colleges and universities, and lawyers in the actual performance of their professional duties or on
the occasion of such performance shall be deemed persons in authority. (As amended by Batas Pambansa Bilang 873, approved June
12, 1985).16

Undoubtedly, the prosecution adduced evidence to establish beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime of direct assault.
The appellate court must be consequently overruled in setting aside the trial court’s verdict. It erred in declaring that Lydia could not be
held guilty of direct assault since Gemma was no longer a person in authority at the time of the assault because she allegedly
descended to the level of a private person by fighting with Lydia. The fact remains that at the moment Lydia initiated her tirades,
Gemma was busy attending to her official functions as a teacher. She tried to pacify Lydia by offering her a seat so that they could talk
properly,17 but Lydia refused and instead unleashed a barrage of verbal invectives. When Lydia continued with her abusive behavior,
Gemma merely retaliated in kind as would a similarly situated person. Lydia aggravated the situation by slapping Gemma and violently
pushing her against a wall divider while she was going to the principal’s office. No fault could therefore be attributed to Gemma.

The prosecution’s success in proving that Lydia committed the crime of direct assault does not necessarily mean that the same physical
force she employed on Gemma also resulted in the crime of unintentional abortion. There is no evidence on record to prove that the
slapping and pushing of Gemma by Lydia that occurred on July 17, 1981 was the proximate cause of the abortion. While the medical
certificate of Gemma’s attending physician, Dr. Susan Jaca (Dr. Jaca), was presented to the court to prove that she suffered an
abortion, there is no data in the document to prove that her medical condition was a direct consequence of the July 17, 1981
incident.18 It was therefore vital for the prosecution to present Dr. Jaca since she was competent to establish a link, if any, between
Lydia’s assault and Gemma’s abortion. Without her testimony, there is no way to ascertain the exact effect of the assault on Gemma’s
abortion.

It is worth stressing that Gemma was admitted and confined in a hospital for incomplete abortion on August 28, 1981, which was 42
days after the July 17, 1981 incident. This interval of time is too lengthy to prove that the discharge of the fetus from the womb of
Gemma was a direct outcome of the assault. Her bleeding and abdominal pain two days after the said incident were not substantiated
by proof other than her testimony. Thus, it is not unlikely that the abortion may have been the result of other factors.

The Proper Penalty

Having established the guilt of the petitioner beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of direct assault, she must suffer the penalty
imposed by law. The penalty for this crime is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine not exceeding
₱1,000.00, when the offender is a public officer or employee, or when the offender lays hands upon a person in authority.19 Here, Lydia
is a public officer or employee since she is a teacher in a public school. By slapping and pushing Gemma, another teacher, she laid her
hands on a person in authority. 1avv phi1

The penalty should be fixed in its medium period in the absence of mitigating or aggravating circumstances. 20Applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law,21 the petitioner should be sentenced to an indeterminate term, the minimum of which is within the range of
the penalty next lower in degree, i.e., arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, and the
maximum of which is that properly imposable under the Revised Penal Code, i.e., prision correccional in its medium and maximum
periods.

Thus, the proper and precise prison sentence that should be imposed must be within the indeterminate term of four (4) months and one
(1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months of arresto mayor, maximum to prision correccional minimum to three (3) years, six (6)
months and twenty-one (21) days to four (4) years, nine (9) months and ten (10) days of prision correccional in its medium and
maximum periods. A fine of not more than ₱1,000.00 must also be imposed on Lydia in accordance with law.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals finding petitioner Lydia Gelig guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of slight
physical injuries is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Judgment is hereby rendered finding Lydia Gelig guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of direct assault and is ordered to suffer an indeterminate prison term of one (1) year and one (1) day to three (3) years, six
(6) months and twenty-one (21) days of prision correccional. She is also ordered to pay a fine of ₱1,000.00.
SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice
Chairperson

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR. TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been
reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Footnotes

1 People v. Pajarillo, 183 Phil. 392, 399 (1979).

2CA rollo, pp. 86-94; penned by Associate Justice Arsenio J. Magpale and concurred in by Associate Justices Vicente L. Yap
and Apolinario D. Bruselas, Jr.

3 Records, pp. 157- 161; penned by Judge Generosa G. Labra.

4 Id. at 40.

5
Exhibit "A," Folder of Exhibits.

6 Exhibit "B," id.

7 Records, p. 161.

8 CA rollo, p. 92.

9 Id. at 91.

10 Id. at 93.

11 Id. at 94.

12 Rollo, p. 8.

13
People v. Rondero, 378 Phil. 123, 143 (1999).

14
Rivera v. People, 501 Phil. 37, 44-45 (2005).

15 Reyes, Luis B., The Revised Penal Code, Book Two, Fifteenth Edition, Revised 2001, p. 122.

16 Id. at 147.

17 TSN, March 20, 1991, p. 6.

18 Exhibit "C," Folder of Exhibits.

19 Revised Penal Code, Article 148.

20 See Revised Penal Code, Article 64 (1).


21Section 1. Hereafter, in imposing a prison sentence for an offense punished by the Revised Penal Code, or its amendments,
the court shall 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 of which shall be
within the range of the penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Code for the offense; and if the offense is punished by any
other law, the court shall sentence the accused to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum term of which shall not exceed the
maximum fixed by said law and the minimum shall not be less than the minimum term prescribed by the same. (As amended
by Act No. 4225)

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 100231. April 28, 1993.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
RODRIGO DASIG @ KA RUBIN DAKU @ ARMAND; EDWIN NUÑEZ Y TABANAS @ MABI; ALVIN DOE @ AL @ KA ALVIN; ROGER
DOE @ KA JAMES @ KA PEPE; TUDING ANDRINO @ KA ERMI @ KA ROEL @ KA GRINGO MONTAYRE; RUBEN DOE @ KA
RUBEN @ KA JOJI @ INO ECHAVEZ; ANASTACIO BANGKAL @ KA JUNIOR; AND CARLITO MAGASIN @ BOBBY, accused,
RODRIGO DASIG, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Kinaadman and Archival for accused-appellant.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; EVIDENCE; CONFESSION, AS A RULE, ADMISSIBLE; EXCEPTION; NOT APPLICABLE IN CASE AT BAR. —
The settled jurisprudence on the matter is that a confession is admissible until the accused successfully proves that it was given as a
result of violence, intimidation, threat or promise of reward or leniency. Appellant relies on the much abused claim that his extra-judicial
confession was legally defective and hence, should not have been admitted and considered by the trial judge. This accusation is
whimsical and obviously a mere refuge for appellant's turnabout. In an attempt to avoid criminal liability, he now questions the integrity
of the police authorities and the reputation of the lawyer who stood by him during the investigation. Indubitably established and now a
matter of record is the fact that appellant was assisted by Atty. Parawan who even signed the former's sworn declarations. It is likewise
a matter of record that before appellant made his extra-judicial confession, he was first asked if he was amenable to the services of
Atty. Parawan to which query he answered affirmatively. Finally, the alleged use of force and intimidation has not been substantiated by
evidence other than his self-serving testimony. as has been pointed out, such allegation is another naive effort of appellant to back
track from his prior voluntary admission of guilt. Evidently, the taking of his extra-judicial confession was done with regularity and
legality.

2. CRIMINAL LAW; REBELLION; ABSORBS THE CRIME OF DIRECT ASSAULT WHEN DONE IN FURTHERANCE THEREOF. —
The crime of rebellion consists of may acts. It is a vast movement of men and a complex net of intrigues and plots. Acts committed in
furtherance of rebellion though crimes in themselves are deemed absorbed in one single crime of rebellion. The act of killing a police
officer, knowing too well that the victim is a person in authority is a mere component or ingredient of rebellion or an act done in
furtherance of the rebellion. It cannot be made a basis of a separate charge.

3. ID.; ID.; NOT COVERED BY INDETERMINATE SENTENCE LAW (R.A. 4203). — The Indeterminate Sentence Law is not applicable
to persons convicted of rebellion (Sec. 2, R.A. 4203), contrary to the insinuation of the Solicitor General. Article 135 of the Revised
Penal Code imposes the penalty of prision mayor and a fine not exceeding P20,000.00 to any person who promotes, maintains, or
heads a rebellion.

DECISION

NOCON, J p:

Appellant, Rodrigo Dasig is now before Us to plead the reversal of his conviction by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, Mandaue City
finding him guilty of Murder with Direct Assault.

He was charged together with Edwin Nuñez and 6 others who are still at large, in an information which reads:

"That on or about the 4th day of August, 1987, in the city of Mandaue, of this Honorable Court, the aforenamed accused, conspiring
and confederating together and helping one another, with intent to kill, treachery, evident premeditation, abuse of superior strength and
use of motor vehicle, all armed with unlicensed firearms, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot
one Redempto Manatad, a police officer on traffic duty, at his vital portion which caused his death soon thereafter, knowing beforehand
that the victim was a policeman who was then in the performance of his official duties."

Upon arraignment, appellant and Edwin Nuñes entered a plea of "not guilty." However, after the prosecution had presented its first
witness, accused Nuñes changed his plea of "not guilty" to "guilty." Hence, the lower court held in abeyance the promulgation of a
judgment against said accused until the prosecution had finished presenting its evidence. While trial was still ongoing, Nuñez died on
March 10, 1989, thereby extinguishing his criminal liability.
The facts surrounding this case show that in the afternoon of August 4, 1987, Pfc. Redempto Manatad, Pfc. Ninah Tizon and Pfc. Rene
Catamora were tasked by their commanding officer to assist in canning the traffic at M.N. Briones and Bonifacio Streets in Mandaue
City. Pfc. Tizon controlled the traffic lighting facility; Pfc. Manatad manned the traffic; while Pfc. Catamora acted as back-up and posted
himself at Norkis Trading building.

At about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, Pfc. Catamora noticed eight (8) persons, one of whom he identified as Edwin Nuñez, acting
suspiciously. He noticed one of them giving instructions to two of the men to approach Pfc. Manatad. He followed the two, but sensing
that they were being followed, they immediately proceeded to the middle of the road and engaged Pfc. Catamora to a gun battle. At that
instant, Pfc. Catamora heard a series of shots from the other group and thereafter saw Pfc. Manatad sprawled on the ground. Being
out-numbered and to save his own life, Pat. Catamora sought refuge at the nearby BIR Office from where he saw two (2) persons take
Pfc. Manatad's gun and again fired at him to make sure that he is dead while the rest of the group including Nuñes acted as back up.
Thereafter, the Nuñes group commandeered a vehicle and fled from the scene of the shooting. Pfc. Rene Catamora testified that he
can identify accused-appellant Nuñes because of a mole at the bridge of his nose near the left eye which he noticed when the accused
passed 2 or 3 meters in front of him together with his companions.

On August 16, 1987, two teams of police officers were tasked to conduct surveillance on a suspected safehouse of members of the
sparrow unit located in Peace Valley, Cebu City. Upon reaching the place, the group saw Rodrigo Dasig and Edwin Nuñes trying to
escape. The team of Capt. Antonio Gorre captured Nuñes and confiscated a .45 caliber revolver with 3 magazines and ammunitions,
while the group of Sgt. Ronald Arnejo pursued Dasig, who threw a grenade at his pursuers, but was shot on his left upper arm and
subsequently apprehended. A .38 caliber revolver with 17 live ammunitions were confiscated from him.

Thereafter, Dasig was brought to the hospital for treatment, while Nuñes was turned over to the Metrodiscom for investigation.
Meanwhile, Dasig was interrogated by M/Sgt. Ariston Ira of the PC Criminal Investigation Service on August 19, 1987 at his hospital
bed at the Lapulapu Army Hospital in Cebu City. Assisting Dasig during the interrogation was Atty. Fortunato Parawan of the Creer Law
Office, who was requested by the military to represent appellant who did not have a lawyer. Before the start of the interrogation, Atty.
Parawan asked appellant whether he was willing to avail of his services, to which appellant agreed. M/Sgt. Ira then appraised Dasig of
his constitutional rights. The interrogation was conducted in Cebuano upon appellant's request.

Dasig confessed that he and the group of Edwin Nuñes killed Pfc. Manatad. He likewise admitted that he and Nuñes were members of
the sparrow unit and the their aliases were "Armand" and "Mabi," respectively. The extra-judicial confession of appellant marked as
Exhibit "J" 2 was signed by him on every page thereof with the first page containing a certification likewise signed by him, which states:
"I hereby certify that the herein statement is free and voluntary, and that I am assisted by my counsel in the course of this investigation"
followed by the signed conformity of Atty. Parawan. The extra-judicial confession was subscribed and sworn to before Cebu City Asst.
Fiscal Salvador Solima.

In the present appeal, Dasig contends that the procedure by which his extra-judicial confession was taken was legally defective, and
contrary to his Constitutional rights. He further contends that assuming he conspired in the killing of Pfc. Manatad, he should be
convicted at most of simple rebellion and not murder with direct assault.

Appellant also claims that the custodial interrogation was done while he was still very sick and consequently, he could not have fully
appreciated the wisdom of admitting such a serious offense. That even with the presence of counsel, his extra-judicial confession is
inadmissible in evidence as said counsel did not actively assist him and advise him of his rights. In effect, his presence was merely to
give a semblance of legality to the proceedings and not to protect appellant against possible abuses of the investigator. Dasig, likewise
questions the sincerity of Atty. Parawan in protecting his rights considering that the latter is a known anti-Communist advocate and that
the law firm to which he belongs has represented high ranking officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

We find the argument specious. Fiscal Salvador Solima in his certification, Exhibit "J-7-B," stated that he had personally examined the
affiant and that he is convinced that the latter's statement was free and voluntary and that the affiant signed the same in his presence
and swore under oath as to the veracity of everything therein. Atty. Fortunato L. Parawan also testified that he assisted the affiant from
the start of the investigation up to its termination. Atty. Parawan testified thus:

"Q Who introduced Rodrigo Dasig to you?

A I inquired from the personnel of the hospital the whereabout of Rodrigo Dasig and I introduced myself as a lawyer. So they informed
me the room of Rodrigo Dasig. At that time I introduced myself as a lawyer who came to assist the person of Rodrigo Dasig. Once we
had a confrontation with Rodrigo Dasig, I asked him whether he was willing to get me as his lawyer in that investigation. Then he told
me yes.

Q Did he tell you whether he as a counsel of his own choice?

A No.

xxx xxx xxx

Q In other words he accepted your services as counsel in connection with that investigation which was about to be made?

A Yes.

Q Who are the persons present at that time?

A There were guards outside and inside. There was a man from the CIS in the person of Sgt. Ira, myself and Dasig.

Q What happened after that?

A The CIS started the investigation.


Q You mean this Ariston Ira?

A Yes.

Q Before Ariston Ira conducted the investigation was Dasig informed of his constitutional rights to remain silent, to counsel and if he
chooses to testify or say something, that statement of his will be used against or in his favor in the court of justice?

A Yes. He was willing to get me as counsel in that investigation.

Q After he was informed of his constitutional rights what transpired next?

A The investigation started.

Q Were you present at the very start of that investigation?

A Yes. I was present from the start until it was finished.

Q Was that reduced to writing?

A Yes.

xxx xxx xxx

Q You said you were present during the entire investigation. Were the answers of the accused, Rodrigo Dasig, to the questions
propounded by the investigator voluntary?

A Yes, they voluntary.

Q After the investigation was finished what transpired next?

A After the investigation, I think that was already past 3:00 or 4:00, we proceeded to the office of the City Fiscal at F. Ramos St., Cebu
City and then we proceeded to the Office of Fiscal Solema (sic) and then it was subscribed there before Fiscal Solema (sic).

Q Were you present during the proceeding?

A I was also present."

We do not find any reason to doubt the factual findings and conclusions of the trial court that the extra-judicial confession of the
appellant was voluntarily made. Said the trial court:

"The prosecution's evidence clearly shows that herein accused during his investigation was properly informed and appraised of his
constitutional right to remain silent and to have a competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice but since at that
time he did not signify his intention to retain a lawyer of his own choice, so he was provided with a lawyer in the person of Atty.
Fortunato Parawan of the Creer Law Office who was available at that time, to assist him during the custodial investigation conducted by
T/Sgt. Ariston L. Ira at his hospital bed at Camp Lapulapu Army Station Hospital, Cebu City where he was confined after being hit on
his upper left arm and in fact, Atty. Parawan only consented to assist herein accused after the latter has answered in the affirmative to
his question as to whether he would be amenable to be assisted by him as his counsel of his own choice.

"The prosecution's evidence further show that Atty. Fortunato Parawan after consenting to be his counsel was with him when his extra-
judicial confession or sworn statement was subscribed and sworn to by him before Assistant City Fiscal Salvador O. Solima of the Cebu
City Fiscal's Office who, before accused has actually affixed his signature on each and every pages of his extra-judicial confession, has
informed him (accused) of his constitutional rights and has explained the contents of his extra-judicial confession.

"Moreover, per certification made by Assistant City Fiscal Salvador O. Solima of the Cebu City Fiscal's Office, clearly shows that
accused in executing the same has done so voluntarily and after having understood the contents thereof which is in the visayan
language, a language known to him, found on the last page thereof now marked as Exhibit "J-7-B."

"Furthermore, this sworn statement of accused Dasig is collaborated by the sworn statement of his co-accused Edwin Nuñes dated
August 18, 1987 which is sworn and subscribed to before City Fiscal Jopelinito Pareja of the city Fiscal's Office of Cebu City."

The settled jurisprudence on the matter is that a confession is admissible until the accused successfully proves that it was given as a
result of violence, intimidation, threat or promise of reward or leniency. 5 The case of People of the Philippines v. Parojinog is four
square to the case at bar. In Parojinog this court had this to say:

"Anent his claim that Atty. Fuentes was not his choice, Section 12 (1) of Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides:

'Sec. 12(1). — Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his right to remain
silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford the services of counsel
he must provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.'

"It is very clear from the aforequoted provision that a person under investigation for the commission of an offense may choose his own
counsel but if he cannot afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. While the initial choice of the lawyer in the latter
case is naturally lodged in the police investigators, the accused really has the final choice as he may reject the counsel chosen for him
and ask for another one. In the instant case, the records show that no objection was voiced by the accused throughout the entire
proceedings of the investigation and afterwards when he subscribed to its veracity before City Prosecutor Luzminda V. Uy. Thus, he
apparently acquiesced to the choice of the investigators. He complained for the first time that Atty. Fuentes was not his choice only
during trial. Thus it was too late."

Appellant relies on the much abused claim that his extra-judicial confession was legally defective and hence, should not have been
admitted and considered by the trial judge. This accusation is whimsical and obviously a mere refuge for appellant's turnabout. In an
attempt to avoid criminal liability, he now questions the integrity of the police authorities and the reputation of the lawyer who stood by
him during the investigation. Indubitably established and now a matter of record is the fact that appellant was assisted by Atty. Parawan
who even signed the former's sworn declarations. It is likewise a matter of record that before appellant made his extra-judicial
confession, he was first asked if he was amenable to the services of Atty. Parawan to which query he answered affirmatively. Finally,
the alleged use of fore and intimidation has not been substantiated by evidence other than his self-serving testimony. As has been
pointed out, such allegation is another naive effort of appellant to back track from his prior voluntary admission of guilt. Evidently, the
taking of his extra-judicial confession was done with regularity and legality.

Nevertheless, there is merit in appellant's argument that granting he is guilty, what he committed was a political crime of simple
rebellion, and hence he should not be convicted of murder with direct assault.

The Solicitor General agrees with the accused-appellant on this point as manifested in the People's brief, which We quote:

"However, as correctly pointed by appellant, the lower court erroneously convicted him of Murder with Assault Upon a Person in
Authority, instead of Rebellion.

"Rebellion is committed by taking up arms against the government, among other means. (Article 135, Revised Penal Code). In this
case, appellant not only confessed voluntarily his membership with the sparrow unit but also his participation and that of his group in
the killing of Pfc. Manatad while manning the traffic in Mandaue City in the afternoon of August 4, 1987. It is of judicial notice that the
sparrow unit is the liquidation squad of the New People's Army with the objective of overthrowing the duly constituted government. It is
therefore not hard to comprehend that the killing of Pfc. Manatad was committed as a means to or in furtherance of the subversive ends
of the NPA. Consequently, appellant is liable for the crime of rebellion, not murder with direct assault upon a person in authority."

The crime of rebellion consists of many acts. It is a vast movement of men and a complex net of intrigues and plots. Acts committed in
furtherance of rebellion though crimes in themselves are deemed absorbed in one single crime of rebellion. 9 The act of killing a police
officer, knowing too well that the victim is a person in authority is a mere component or ingredient of rebellion or an act done in
furtherance of the rebellion. It cannot be made a basis of a separate charge.

Moreover, in the case of People v. Mangallan 10 We held that where the accused who was charged with murder admitted his
membership with the NPA and the killing of a suspected PC informer, the crime committed is not murder but rebellion punishable under
Articles 134 and 135 of the Revised Penal Code.

As to the proper imposable penalty, the Indeterminate Sentence Law is not applicable to persons convicted of rebellion (Sec. 2, R.A.
4203), contrary to the insinuation of the Solicitor General. Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code imposes the penalty of prision mayor
and a fine not exceeding P20,000.00 to any person who promotes, maintains, or heads a rebellion. However, in the case at bar, there is
no evidence to prove that appellant Dasig headed the crime committed. As a matter of fact he was not specifically pinpointed by Pfc.
Catamora as the person giving instructions to the group which attacked Pfc. Manatad.

Appellant merely participated in committing the act, or just executed the command of an unknown leader. Hence, he should be made to
suffer the penalty of imprisonment of eight (8) years of prision mayor. For the resulting death, appellant is likewise ordered to pay the
heirs of Pfc. Manatad FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00) as civil indemnity.

Premises considered, We uphold the findings of the trial court that the extra-judicial confession was legally obtained. However,
appellant being a confessed member of the sparrow unit, the liquidation squad of the New People's Army whose objective is to
overthrow the duly constituted government, the crime committed is simple rebellion and not murder with direct assault.

WHEREFORE, accused Rogelio Dasig is found guilty of participating in an act of rebellion beyond reasonable doubt and is hereby
sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of eight (8) years of prision mayor, and to pay the heirs of Pfc. Redempto Manatad,
P50,000.00 as civil indemnity.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C .J ., Padilla and Regalado, JJ ., concur.

Footnotes

1. Rollo, p. 5.

2. Pp. 11-18, Records.

3. TSN, pp. 5-8, March 8, 1990.

4. Decision, p. 12-13.

5. People v. Parojinog, G.R. No. 95850, 203 SCRA 673.

6. Id. at p. 680.

7. People v. Quijano, G.R. No. 84361, 197 SCRA 761.


8. Plaintiff-Appellee's Brief, p. 12; Rollo, p. 99.

9. Enrile v. Amin, G.R. No. 93335, 189 SCRA 573.

10. 160 SCRA 116.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 88189 July 9, 1996

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
TIBURCIO ABALOS, accused-appellant.

REGALADO, J.:p

In this appeal, accused-appellant Tiburcio Abalos seeks absolution from the judgment of conviction rendered by the Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, of
Catbalogan, Samar which pronounced him guilty of the complex crime of direct assault with murder in Criminal Case No. 2302. His arguments in the present
appeal turn on the central question of unwarranted credence allegedly extended by the trial court to the version of the criminal incident narrated by the sole
prosecution witness. The totality of the evidence adduced, however, indubitably confirms appellant's guilt of the offense charged. Accordingly, we affirm.

An information filed in the trial court, dated April 21, 1983, imputed the crime of direct assault with murder to herein appellant Tiburcio
Abalos, alias "Ewet," with the allegations —

That on or about the 20th day of March, 1983, at nighttime, in the Municipality of Catbalogan, Province of Samar,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, with deliberate intent to
kill, with treachery and evident premeditation and knowing fully well that one Sofronio Labine was an agent of a
person in authority being a member of the Integrated National Police with station at Catbalogan, Samar, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and strike said Sofronio Labine with a piece of wood, which
said accused ha(d) conveniently provided himself for the purpose while said P/Pfc. Sofronio Labine, a duly appointed
and qualified member of the said INP, was engaged in the performance of his official duties or on the occasion of
such performance, that is, maintaining peace and order during the barangay fiesta of Canlapwas, of said municipality,
thereby inflicting upon him "Lacerated wound 2 inches parietal area right. Blood oozing from both ears and nose"
which wound directly caused his death.

That in the commission of the crime, the aggravating circumstance of nocturnity was present. 1

At his arraignment on June 7, 1983, appellant, with the assistance of counsel, entered a plea of not guilty. The trial conducted2

thereafter culminated in the decision of the trial court on February 3, 1989 finding appellant guilty as charged and meting out to him the
3

penalty of "life imprisonment, with the accessories of the law." Appellant was likewise ordered to indemnify the heirs of the victim in the
sum of P30,000.00; actual and compensatory damages in the amount of P2,633.00, with P15,000.00 as moral damages; and to pay the
costs. 4

As recounted by prosecution witness Felipe Basal, a farmer residing in Barangay Pupua, Catbalogan, Samar, appellant assaulted the
victim, Pfc. Sofronio Labine, at around 8:00 P.M. of March 20, 1983, which was then the day of the barangay fiesta celebrations in
Barangay Canlapwas, Catbalogan, Samar. The incident transpired near the house of appellant at the said barangay. Felipe Basal was
then having a drinking session in front of the shanty of one Rodulfo Figueroa, Jr. which was situated just a few meters from the
residence of appellant.

According to Basal, at about that time he noticed the father of appellant, Police Major Cecilio Abalos, scolding his employees in his
transportation business for turning in only two hundred pesos in earnings for that day. While Major Abalos was thus berating his
employees, appellant arrived and asked his father not to scold them and to just let them take part in the barangay festivities. This
infuriated the elder Abalos and set off a heated argument between father and son. 5

While the two were thus quarreling, a woman shouted "Justicia, boligue kumi! Adi in mag-a-aringasa." meaning, "Police officer, help us!
Somebody's making trouble here." The victim, Pfc. Sofronio Labine, then appeared on the scene and asked Major Abalos, "What is it,
sir?" The victim saluted Abalos when the latter turned around to face him. As Major Abalos leveled his carbine at Labine, appellant
hurriedly left and procured a piece of wood, about two inches thick, three inches wide and three feet long, from a nearby Ford Fiera
vehicle.

He then swiftly returned and unceremoniously swung with that wooden piece at Labine from behind, hitting the policeman at the back of
the right side of his head. Labine collapsed unconscious in a heap, and he later expired from the severe skull fracture he sustained from
that blow. Felipe Basal and his wife took flight right after appellant struck the victim, fearful that they might be hit by possible stray
bullets should a gunfight ensue.
6

Appellant's testimony, on the other hand, is of a different tenor. He admits having struck Labine with a piece of wood during the incident
in question but claims that he did so in the erroneous belief that his father was being attacked by a member of the New People's Army
(NPA). According to appellant, he was then seated inside their family-owned Sarao jeepney parked beside the store of Rodulfo
Figueroa, Jr. near their home in Barangay Canlapwas when he noticed a man in fatigue uniform suddenly accost his father. At that
time, appellant's father had just arrived from a trip from Wright, Samar and had just alighted from his service vehicle, a Ford Fiera.

The man tried to disarm Major Abalos of his firearm but the latter resisted and while the two were grappling for possession of the gun,
appellant instinctively went to the rescue of his father. He got a piece of wood from Figueroa's store with which he then clubbed Labine
whom he did not recognize at that point. When Labine fell to the ground from the blow, appellant immediately fled to Barangay
Mercedes nearby, fearing that the man had companions who might retaliate. When he came to know of the identity of his victim the
following morning, he forthwith surrendered to the authorities. 7

As mentioned at the outset, the foregoing version of the factual antecedents as presented by appellant was roundly rejected by the
lower court which found the same unworthy of belief. Appellant ascribes reversible errors to the trial court (a) in not giving credence to
the evidence adduced by the defense; (b) in believing the evidence presented by the prosecution; (c) in relying on the prosecution's
evidence which falls short of the required quantum of evidence that would warrant a conviction; (d) in finding that treachery attended the
commission of the crime and failing to credit in appellant's favor his voluntary surrender; and (e) in finding appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged. 8

In the main, appellant insists that the trial court should not have given credence to the story of the lone eyewitness for the prosecution.
He also contends that since the testimony of that witness bore clear traces of incredibility, particularly the fact that he could not have
had a clear view of the incident due to poor visibility, the prosecution should have presented as well the woman who had called for help
at the height of the incident if only to corroborate Basal's narration of the events. Appellant also assails as inherently incredible the fact
that it took quite a time for witness Felipe Basal to come forward and divulge what he knew to the authorities. All these, unfortunately,
are flawed arguments.

From the evidence in the case at bar, the prosecution has convincingly proved, through the clear and positive testimony of Basal, the
manner in which the victim was killed by herein appellant. The record is bereft of any showing that said prosecution witness was
actuated by any evil motivation or dubious intent in testifying against appellant. Moreover, a doctrine of long standing in this jurisdiction
is that the testimony of a lone eyewitness, if credible and positive, is sufficient to convict an accused. There was thus no need, as
9

appellant would want the prosecution to do, to present in court the woman who shouted for assistance since her testimony would only
be corroborative in nature.

The presentation of such species of evidence in court would only be warranted when there are compelling reasons to suspect that the
eyewitness is prevaricating or that his observations were inaccurate. Besides, it is up to the People to determine who should be
10

presented as prosecution witness on the basis of its own assessment of the necessity for such testimony. Also, no unreasonable
11

delay could even be attributed to Felipe Basal considering that during the wake for Pfc. Labine, Basal came and intimated to the widow
of the victim that he was going to testify regarding her husband's slaying. 12

Appellant's contention that the deceased had attacked and attempted to divest his father of his firearm is rather preposterous
considering that no reason was advanced as to why the deceased patrolman would assault a police officer of superior rank.
Parenthetically, the condition of visibility at the time of the incident was conducive not only to the clear and positive identification of
appellant as the victim's assailant but likewise to an actual and unobstructed view of the events that led to the victim's violent death.

Basal was seated just a few meters away from the protagonists whom he all knew, he being also a long-time resident of that
municipality. There was a twelve-foot high fluorescent lamppost located along the road and which, by appellant's own reckoning, was
just seventeen meters away from them. Notwithstanding the fact that a couple of trees partly obstructed the post, the illumination cast
13

by the fluorescent lamp and the nearby houses provided sufficient brightness for the identification of the combatants.

Curiously enough, appellant's assertion that there was poor visibility is ironically contradicted by his testimony which is detailed on facts
that one could readily recall after witnessing an event in broad daylight. While appellant considers unbelievable Basal's identification of
him supposedly because of inadequate lighting, he himself, under the same conditions, could clearly see his father's assailant wearing
a fatigue uniform which was different from that worn by policemen. He even asserts that he saw his father clutching the carbine with his
hands holding the butt while his purported assailant held on tightly to the rifle. What these facts establish is that the lights in the area
14

at the time of the incident were enough to afford Basal an excellent view of the incident, contrary to appellant's pretense. Appellant's
testimony is thus negated by the rule that evidence, to be believed, must have been given not only by a credible witness, but that the
same must also be reasonably acceptable in itself.

Appellant's flight right after he had assaulted the victim is also corrosive of his testimony. For, if it were true that he had merely labored
under the wrong notion that his father was being attacked by a member of the NPA, and that it was an innocent case of error in
personae, he could have readily surrendered to his father right then and there. After all, Cecilio Abalos was a police major and was the
Station Commander of the Integrated National Police (INP) in Wright, Samar. Further, there was no necessity at all for him to flee from
the crime scene for fear of retaliation considering that he was in the company of his own father who, aside from his position, was then
armed with a carbine. Appellant's explanation is, therefore, absurd and should be considered as self-serving evidence with no weight in
law.

On the offense committed by appellant, the trial court correctly concluded that he should be held accountable for the complex crime of
direct assault with murder. There are two modes of committing atentados contra la autoridad o sus agentes under Article 148 of the
Revised Penal Code. The first is not a true atentado as it is tantamount to rebellion or sedition, except that there is no public uprising.
On the other hand, the second mode is the more common way of committing assault and is aggravated when there is a weapon
employed in the attack, or the offender is a public officer, or the offender lays hands upon a person in authority. 15

Appellant committed the second form of assault, the elements of which are that there must be an attack, use of force, or serious
intimidation or resistance upon a person in authority or his agent; the assault was made when the said person was performing his
duties or on the occasion of such performance; and the accused knew that the victim is a person in authority or his agent, that is, that
the accused must have the intention to offend, injure or assault the offended party as a person in authority or an agent of a person in
authority.16

Here, Labine was a duly appointed member of the then INP in Catbalogan, Samar and, thus, was an agent of a person in authority
pursuant to Article 152 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. There is also no dispute that he was in the actual performance of his
duties when assaulted by appellant, that is, he was maintaining peace and order during the fiesta in Barangay Canlapwas. Appellant
himself testified that he personally knew Labine to be a policeman 7 and, in fact, Labine was then wearing his uniform. These facts
1
should have sufficiently deterred appellant from attacking him, and his defiant conduct clearly demonstrates that he really h ad the
criminal intent to assault and injure an agent of the law.

When the assault results in the killing of that agent or of a person in authority for that matter, there arises the complex crime of direct
assault with murder or homicide. The killing in the instant case constituted the felony of murder qualified by alevosia through
18

treacherous means deliberately adopted Pfc. Labine was struck from behind while he was being confronted at the same time by
appellant's father. The evidence shows that appellant deliberately went behind the victim whom he then hit with a piece of wood which
he deliberately got for that purpose.

Obviously, appellant resorted to such means to avoid any risk to himself, knowing fully well that his quarry was a policeman who could
readily mount a defense. The aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and nocturnity, however, were not duly proven, as
correctly ruled by the court below. On the other hand, appellant's voluntary surrender even if duly taken into account by the trial court
would have been inconsequential.

The offense is a complex crime, the penalty for which is that for the graver offense, to be imposed in the maximum period. Considering
that the more serious crime of murder then carried the penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death, the imposable
penalty should have been death. The mitigating circumstance, in that context, would have been unavailing and inapplicable since the
penalty thus imposed by the law is indivisible. At all events, the punishment of death could not be imposed as it would have to be
19

reduced to reclusion perpetua due to the then existing proscription against the imposition of the death penalty. 20

However, the designation by the trial court of the imposable penalty as "life imprisonment" is erroneous, as the same should properly be
denominated as reclusion perpetua. Also, the death indemnity payable to the heirs of the victim, under the present jurisprudential
21

policy, is P50,000.00.

ACCORDINGLY, with the MODIFICATION that the penalty imposed upon accused-appellant Tiburcio Abalos should be reclusion
perpetua, and that the death indemnity is hereby increased to P50,000.00, the judgment of the court a quo in Criminal Case No. 2302 is
AFFIRMED in all other respects, with costs against accused-appellant.

SO ORDERED.

Romero, Puno, Mendoza and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 Rollo, 1-2.

2 Ibid., 4.

3 Per Judge Sinforiano A. Monsanto.

4 Rollo, 9.

5 TSN, November 6, 1984, 16-23.

6 Ibid., id., 23-29.

7 Ibid., November 14, 1988, 32-36.

8 Brief for the Accused-Appellant, 1; Rollo, 13.

9 People vs. Bondoc, G.R. No. 98400, May 23, 1994, 232 SCRA 478 People vs. Paglinawan, G.R. No. 107804, June 28,
1994, 233 SCRA 494.

10 People vs. Comia, G.R. No. 109761, September 1, 1994, 236 SCRA 185.

11 People vs. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 108180, February 8, 1994, 229 SCRA 754.

12 TSN, April 8, 1985, 18.

13 Ibid., November 14, 1988, 41.

14 Ibid., id., 45-47.

15 Aquino, R.C., The Revised Penal Code, Vol. II, 1987 ed., 146.

16 U.S. vs. Alvear, et al., 35 Phil. 626 (1916); People vs. Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038 (1947); People vs. Villaseñor, L-28574, October
24, 1970, 35 SCRA 460.

17 TSN, November 14, 1988, 45.

18 People vs. Cesar, L-26185, March 13, 1968, 22 SCRA 1024; People vs. Renegado, L-27031, May 31, 1974, 57 SCRA 275;
People vs. Gadiano, L-31818, July 30, 1982, 115 SCRA 559.
19 Article 48, in relation to Art. 63, Revised Penal Code.

20 Sec. 19(1), Art. III, 1987 Constitution; People vs. Muñoz, et al., L-3896970, February 9, 1989, 170 SCRA 107.

21 See Administrative Circular 6-92, dated October 8, 1992, re "Correct Application of the Penalty of Reclusion Perpetua."

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-5803 November 29, 1954

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
NARCISO UMALI, ET AL., defendants.
NARCISO UMALI, EPIFANIO PASUMBAL and ISIDRO CAPINO, defendants-appellants.

Jose P. Laurel, Cipriano Primicias, Alejo Mabanag, Manuel Concordia, P.M. Stuart Del Rosario, Tomas R. Umali, Eufemio E. De Mesa
and Edmundo T. Zepeda for appellants.
Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag and Solicitor Martiniano P. Vivo for appellee.

MONTEMAYOR, J.:

Narciso Umali, Epifanio Pasumbal, and Isidro Capino are appealing directly to this Tribunal from a decision of the Court of First
Instance of Quezon province finding them guilty of the complex crime of rebellion with multiple murder, frustrated murder, arson and
robbery, and sentencing each of them to "life imprisonment, other accessories of the law, to indemnify jointly and severally Marcial
Punsalan in the amount of P24,023; Valentin Robles in the amount of P10,000; Yao Cabon in the amount of P700; Claro Robles in the
amount of P12,800; Pocho Guan in the amount of P600; the heirs of Domingo Pisigan in the amount of P6,000; the heirs of Locadio
Untalan in the amount of P6,000; Patrolman Pedro Lacorte in the amount of P500; Lazaro Ortega in the amount of P300; Hilarion Aselo
in the amount of P300; Calixto Rivano in the amount P50; Melecio Garcia in the amount of P60; and Juanito Lector in the amount of
P90, each to pay one fifteenth of the costs, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency due to the nature of the principal
penalty that is imposed upon them."

The complex crime of which appellants were found guilty was said to have been committed during the raid staged in the town of Tiaong,
Quezon, between 8:00 and 9:00 in the evening of November 14, 1951, by armed men. It is not denied that such a raid took place
resulting in the burning down and complete destruction of the house of Mayor Marcial Punzalan including its content valued at P24,023;
the house of Valentin Robles valued at P10,000, and the house of one Mortega, the death of Patrolman Domingo Pisigan and civilians
Vicente Soriano and Leocadio Untalan, and the wounding of Patrolman Pedro Lacorte and five civilians; that during and after the
burning of the houses, some of the raiders engaged in looting, robbing one house and two Chinese stories; and that the raiders were
finally dispersed and driven from the town by the Philippine Army soldiers stationed in the town led by Captain Alzate.

To understand the reason for and object of the raid we have to go into the political situation in Tiaong not only shortly before that raid
but one year or two years before it. Narciso Umali and Marcial Punzalan were old time friends and belonged to the same political
faction. In the general elections of 1947 Umali campaigned for Punzalan who later was elected Mayor of Tiaong. In the elections of
1949 Punzalan in his turn campaigned and worked for Narciso Umali resulting in the latter's election as Congressman. However, these
friendly relations between the two did not endure. In the words of Punzalan, Narciso Umali who as Congressman regarded himself as
the political head and leader in that region including Tiaong, became jealous because of his (Punzalan's) fast growing popularity among
the people of Tiaong who looked to him instead of Umali for political guidance, leadership, and favors. In time the strain in their relations
became such that they ceased to have any dealings with each other and they even filed mutual accusations. According to Punzalan, in
May 1950, Umali induced about twenty-six special policemen of his (Punzalan's) to flee to the mountains with their arms and join the
Huks, this is in order to discredit Punzalan's administration; that he was later able to contact two of his twenty-six policemen and tried to
persuade them to return to the town and to the service, but they told him that they and their companions would not surrender except
and with through the intervention of Congressman Umali, and so Punzalan had to seek Umali's intervention which resulted in the
surrender of the 26 men with their firearms; that thereafter Umali wanted to have their firearms, claiming that they all belonged to him
from his guerrilla days when he was a colonel, and that after liberation he had merely loaned them to the municipal authorities of Tiaong
to help keep peace and order; and that the refusal of Punzalan to grant Umali's request further strained their relations, and thereafter
Umali would not speak to him even when they happened to meet at parties.

On September 19, 1951, the Chief of Police of Punzalan disarmed four of Umali's men, including his bodyguard Isidro Capino who were
then charged with illegal possession of firearms. Umali interceded for his men and Col. Gelveson, Provincial Commander, sent a
telegram stating that the firearms taken away from the men were licensed. As a result the complaint was dismissed. This incident was
naturally resented by Umali and spurred him to have a showdown with Punzalan.

Then the elections of 1951 (November 13) approached and Punzalan ran for reelection. To oppose him, and to clip his political wings
and definitely blast his ambition for continued power and influence in Tiaong, Umali picked Epifanio Pasumbal, his trusted leader.

The pre-election campaign and fight waged by both factions — Punzalan and Pasumbal, was intense and bitter, even ruthless. The
election was to be a test of political strength and would determine who was who in Tiaong, — Umali or Punzalan. Umali spoke at
political meetings, extolling the virtues of Pasumbal and the benefits and advantages that would accrue to the town if he was elected, at
the same time bitterly attacking Punzalan, accusing him of dishonesty, corruption in office, abuse of power, etc. At one of those
meetings he told the audience not to vote for Punzalan because he would not be elected and that even if he won the election, he would
not sit for blood will flow, and that he (Umali) had already prepared a golden coffin for him (Punzalan). After denying the charges, in
retort, Punzalan would say that Umali as a Congressman was useless, and that he did not even attend the sessions and that his chair
in Congress had gathered dust, even cobwebs.

To help in the Umali-Pasumbal campaign, Amado Mendoza who later was to play the role of star witness for the prosecution, was
drafted. He was a compadre of Pasumbal and had some experience in political campaigns, and although he was not exactly a model
citizen, being sometimes given to drunkenness, still, he had the gift of speech and persuasion. In various political meetings he delivered
speeches for Pasumbal. He was ever at the back and call of Umali and Pasumbal, and naturally he frequented the latter's houses or
headquarters. The result of the elections plainly showed that Punzalan was the political master and leader in Tiaong. He beat Pasumbal
by an overwhelming majority of 2,221 votes. Naturally, Umali and Pasumbal were keenly disappointed, and according to the evidence,
adopted measures calculated to frustrate Punzalan's victory, even as prophesied by Umali himself in one of his pre-election speeches
about blood flowing and gold coffin.

Going back to the raid staged in Tiaong on November 14, 1951, it is well to make a short narration of the happenings shortly before it,
established by the evidence, so as to ascertain and be informed of the reason or purpose of said raid, the persons, behind it, and those
who took part in it. According to the testimony of Amado Mendoza, in the morning of November 12th, that is, on the eve of the election,
at the house of Pasumbal's father, then being used as his electoral headquarters, he heard Umali instruct Pasumbal to contact the
Huks through Commander Abeng so that Punzalan will be killed, Pasumbal complying with the order of his Chief (Umali) went to the
mountains which were quite near the town and held a conference with Commander Abeng. It would seem that Umali and Pasumbal had
a feeling that Punzalan was going to win in the elections the next day, and that his death was the surest way to eliminate him from the
electoral fight.

The conference between Pasumbal and Commander Abeng on November 12th was witnessed and testified to by Nazario Anonuevo, a
Huk who was under Commander Abeng, and who later took an active part in the raid. In the evening of the same day, Mendoza heard
Pasumbal report to Umali about his conference with Commander Abeng, saying that the latter was agreeable to the proposition and
had even outlined the manner of attack, that the Huks would enter the town (Tiaong) under Commander Lucio and Aladin, the latter to
lead the sector towards the East; but that Commander Abeng had suggested that the raid be postponed because Pasumbal may yet
win the election the following day, thereby rendering unnecessary the raid and the killing of Punzalan.

Continuing with the testimony of Amado Mendoza, he told the court that as per instructions of Umali he went to the house of the latter,
in the evening of November 14th, the day following the election, with the result of the election already known, namely, the decisive
victory of Punzalan over Pasumbal. He was told by Umali to come with him, and Pasumbal and the three boarded a jeep with Pasumbal
at the wheel. They drove toward the Tiaong Elementary School and once there he (Mendoza) was left at the school premises with
instructions by Umali to wait for Commander Abeng and the Huks and point to them the house of Punzalan. After waiting for sometime,
Abeng and his troops numbering about fifty, armed with garands and carbines, arrived and after explaining his identity and his mission
to Abeng, he had led the dissidents or part of the contingent in the direction of Punzalan's house and on arriving in front of the bodega
of Robles, he pointed out Punzalan's house and then walked toward his home, leaving the Huks who proceeded to lie flat in a canal.
Before reaching his house, he already heard shots, so, he evacuated his family to their dugout in his yard. While doing so he and his
wife Catalina Tinapunan saw armed men in the lanzones grove just across the street from their house, belonging to the father of Umali,
and among those men they saw Congressman Umali holding a revolver, in the company of Huk Commander Torio and about 20 armed
men. Afterwards they saw Umali and his companions leave in the direction of Taguan, by way of the railroad tracks.

It would appear from the evidence that the raid was well-planned. As a diversionary measure, part of the attacking force was deployed
toward the camp or station of the Army (part of 8th B.C.T.) in the suburbs and the camp was fired upon, not exactly to destroy or drive
out that Army unit but to keep it from going to the rescue and aid of the main objective of the raid. The rest of the raiding party went
toward Punzalan's house and attacked it with automatic weapons, hand grenades, and even with bottles filled with gasoline (popularly
known as Molotov's cocktail). It was evident that the purpose of the attack on Punzalan's house was to kill him. Fortunately, however,
and apparently unknown to the attackers and those who designed the raid, at six o'clock that morning of November 14th Punzalan and
his Chief of Police had left Tiaong to go to Lucena, the capital, to report the results of the election to the Governor.

The attack on the house of Punzalan was witnessed and described by several persons, including policemen who happened to be near
the house. Policeman Tomas Maguare who was in front of the house saw Epifanio Pasumbal, Isidro Umali (brother of Congressman
Umali) and Moises Escueta enter the gate of Punzalan's house and take part in the firing. Policeman Pedro Lacorte who was stationed
as guard at the gate of Mayor Punzalan's house recognized defendant Isidro Capino as one of those firing at the house. Lacorte said
that he was guarding the house of Punzalan when he suddenly heard shots coming from the sides of the house and going over to the
place to investigate, he saw armed men in fatigue and shouting "burn the house of Mayor Punzalan"; that he was hit on the left check
and later Isidro Capino threw at him a hand grenade and he was hit in the right forearm and in the right eye and became permanently
blind in said eye. Mateo Galit, laundryman who was sitting inside a jeep parked in front of the house of Punzalan recognized defendant
Pasumbal as one of the attackers who, once in the yard said ina loud voice as though addressing somebody in the house "Pare, come
down." Mrs. Punzalan who was then inside the house related to the court that at about eight in the evening while she was resting she
heard shots and rapid firing. As a precaution she took her children to the bathroom. Then she noticed that her house was being fired at
because the glass window panes were being shattered and she heard the explosion of a hand grenade inside the house, followed by
flares in the sala and burning of blankets and mosquito nets in the bedrooms and she noticed the smell of smoke of gasoline. Realizing
the great danger, she and the children ran out of the house and went to hide in the house of a neighbor.

Nazario Añonuevo declared in court that he was a farmer and was picked up and seized by Huk Commander Tommy sometime in
August 1951, and was taken to Mt. Banahaw in Laguna and mustered in the ranks of the Huks; that just before the elections of
November 13, 1951, he saw Pasumbal come to the mountains near Tiaong and talk to Commander Abeng; that on November 14th by
order of Commander Abeng he with other Huks left Mt. Banahaw for Tiaong; that when they crossed the Osiw River already near
Tiaong, they were met by Pasumbal and Capino; that when they were at the outskirts of the town, he and the party were told by
Commander Tommy to attack the 8th BCT camp in Tiaong to prevent the sending of army help to the town proper; that he took part in
firing on the camp which returned the fire in the course of which he was wounded; and that because of his wound he could not escape
with his companions to the mountains when the Army soldiers dispersed and drove them out of the town and so he was finally captured
by said soldiers.

As to defendants Pasumbal and Capino, their participation in and responsibility for the raid was duly established not only by the going
of Pasumbal on November 12th to the mountains following instructions of Umali, and conferring with Commander Abeng asking him to
raid Tiaong and kill Punzalan, but also by the fact that Pasumbal and Capino in the afternoon or evening of November 14th met the
Huks at the Osiw River as the dissidents were on their way to Tiaong and later Pasumbal and Capino were seen in the yard of
Punzalan firing at the house with automatic weapons and hand grenades.

What about Umali? His criminal responsibility was also established, tho indirectly. We have the testimony of Amado Mendoza who
heard him instructing Pasumbal to contact Commander Abeng and ask him to raid Tiaong and kill Punzalan. The rest of the evidence is
more or less circumstantial, but nonetheless strong and convincing. No one saw him take part in the firing and attack on the house of
Punzalan; nor was he seen near or around said house. Because of his important position as Congressman, perchance he did not wish
to figure too prominently in the actual raid. Besides, he would seem to have already given out all the instructions necessary and he
could well stay in the background. However, during the raid, not very far from Punzalan's house he was seen in the lanzonesan of his
father, holding a revolver and in the company of about 20 armed men with Huk Commander Torio, evidently observing and waiting for
developments. Then he and his companions left in the direction of Taguan.

Umali and Pasumbal, however, claim that during the raid, they were in the home of Pasumbal in Taguan, about seven kilometers away
from Tiaong where a consolation party was being held. There is ample evidence however to the effect that they arrived in Pasumbal's
home only around midnight. An Army soldier named Cabalona who happened to be in Pasumbal's home arriving there earlier in the
evening and who was invited to take some refreshments said that he did not see the two men until they arrived about midnight when
the Army reinforcements from Lucena passed by on their way to Tiaong. Thus, we have this chain of circumstances that does not
speak in favor of Umali, or Pasumbal for that matter. But this is not all. There is the rather strange and unexplained, at least not
satisfactorily, behaviour of Umali and Pasumbal that evening of November 14th. Assuming for a moment as they claim, that the two
were not in Tiaong at the commencement of the raid between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., and during the whole time the raid lasted, and that
they were all that time in the home of Pasumbal in Taguan, still, according to their own evidence, they were informed by persons
coming or fleeing from Tiaong that there was a raid going on there, and that some houses were burning. As a matter of fact,
considering the promixity of Taguan to Tiaong, a distance of about seven kilometers and the stillness and darkness of the night, the fire
and the glow produced by the burning of three houses and the noise produced by the firing of automatic weapons and the explosion of
the hand grenades and bottles of gasoline, could and must have been seen and heard from Taguan. The natural and logical reaction on
the part of Umali and Pasumbal would have been to rush to Tiaong, see what had really happened and then render help and give
succor to the stricken residents, including their own relatives. It will be remembered that the houses of the fathers of Umali and
Pasumbal were in Tiaong and their parents and relatives were residing there. And yet, instead of following a natural impulse and urge
to go to Tiaong, they fled in the opposite direction towards Candelaria. And Umali instead of taking the road, purposely avoided the
same and preferred to hike through coconut groves so that upon arriving in Candelaria, he was wet, and spattered and very tired. Had
they wanted to render any help to Tiaong they could have asked the police authorities of Candelaria to send a rescue party to that town.
Or better still, when the army reinforcements from Lucena sent at the instance of Punzalan, who at about eight or nine that evening was
returning to Tiaong from Lucena, found at the barrio or sitio of Lusakan near Tiaong that there was fighting in the town, he immediately
returned to Lucena to get army reinforcements to relieve his town, was passing by Taguan, where they were, Umali and Pasumbal
could have joined said reinforcements and gone to Tiaong. Instead the two continued on their way to the capital (Lucena) where before
dawn, they went and contacted Provincial Fiscal Mayo, a first cousin of Umali, and Assistant Fiscal Reyes and later had these two
officials accompany them to the Army camp to see Col. Gelveson, not for the purpose of asking for the sending of aid or reinforcement
to Tiaong but presumably to show to the prosecution officials, specially the Army Commander that they (Umali and Pasumbal) had
nothing to do whatsoever with the raid. Umali said he was trying to avoid and keep clear of Tiaong because he might be suspected of
having had some connection with the raid and might be the object of reprisal. As a matter of fact, according to Umali himself, while still
in Taguan that evening and before he went to Candelaria, somebody had informed him that Col. Legaspi of the Army was looking for
him. Instead of seeking Col. Legaspi and find out what was wanted of him, he left in the opposite direction and fled to Candelaria and
later to Lucena, and the next day he took the train for Manila. This strange act and behaviour of the two men, particularly Umali, all
contrary to impulse and natural reaction, and what other people would ordinarily have done under the circumstances, prompted the trial
court in its decision to repeat the old saying "The guilty man flees even if no one pursues, but the innocent stands bold as a lion." We
might just as well reproduce that portion of the decision of the trial court, to wit:

. . . Considering the fact that Taguan is very near Tiaong so that even taking it for granted as true, for the sake of argument,
that the said accused were really at the party of Pasumbal on the night in question, that would not prevent them from being in
Tiaong between 8 and 9. Besides, why was it that night the hasag lamp was replaced with candles when the reinforcements
passed through Taguan about midnight of November 14, 1951. Why did Congressman Umali and company instead of going to
Tiaong which was the scene of the attack hurried towards Candelaria, after the reinforcement has passed and went to the
house of Felix Ona walking through a muddy path under the coconut groves? Why was Umali afraid to pass through the
provincial road and preferred a muddy road instead? Was he trying to conceal himself? Why did Pasumbal and company also
go to the house of Ona? Why did they go to the house of Felix Ona instead of going to the house of Manalo who could have
given them better protection? And again why did Congressman Umali and the other co-accused repaired and sought the
company of Fiscal Reyes in going at such an early hour to the Army authorities, did they fear any reprisal? From whom? Why
did Umali go to Manila from Lucena on November 16, 1951? "The guilty man flees even if no one pursues, but the innocent
stands bold as a lion."

At first blush it would appear rather unbelievable that Umali and Pasumbal, particularly the former should seek the aids of the Huks in
order to put down and eliminate their political enemy Punzalan. It would seem rather strange and anomalous that a member of
Congress should have friendly relations with this dissidents whom the Government had been fighting all these years. But if we study the
evidence, it will be found that the reason and the explanation are there. As already stated, during the Japanese occupation, to further
the resistance movement, guerillas were organized in different parts of the Philippines. One of these was the guerilla unit known as
President Quezon's Own Guerillas (PQOG) operating in the provinces of Tayabas (now Quezon) and Laguna. Umali, Pasumbal,
Commander Abeng and even Punzalan himself were officers in this guerilla unit, Umali attaining the rank of colonel, and Pasumbal and
Punzalan that of Lieutenant-colonel, Pasumbal then being known as "Panzer". After Liberation, Abeng joined the dissidents, and
became a Huk Commander. It was not unnatural that Umali and Pasumbal should continue their friendship and association with
Commander Abeng and seek his aid when convenient and necessary. Umali admitted that he knew Huk Commander Kasilag. Graciano
Ramos, one of the witnesses of the prosecution told the court that way back in May 1950, in a barrio of San Pablo City he saw Umali
confer with Commander Kasilag, which Commander after the conference told his soldiers including Ramos that Umali wanted the Huks
to raid Tiaong, burn the presidencia and kidnap Punzalan. Of course, the last part of the testimony may be regarded as hearsay, but the
fact is that Umali conferred with a Huk commander as early as 1950. Then we have the fact that on November 18 of the same year
Punzalan wrote to President Quirino denouncing the congressman Umali for fraternizing with the Huks and conducting a campaign
among them in preparation for the elections the following year. And we may also consider the fact that the town of Tiaong stands at the
foothills of Mt. Banahaw where the dissidents under Commander Abeng, Tommy, Lucio, Aladin, and others had their hideout, so that it
was not difficult for residents of Tiaong like Umali and Pasumbal to communicate and even associate with dissidents in that region.

After carefully considering all the evidence in the case, we are constrained to agree with the trial court that the three appellants are
guilty. Besides, the determination of this case, in great measure, hinges on the credibility of witnesses. The learned trial court which had
the opportunity of observing the demeanor of witnesses on the stand and gauging their sincerity and evaluating their testimony, decided
the Government witnesses, including Amado Mendoza, to be more credible and reliable. And we find nothing in the record to warrant
correction or reversal of the stand and finding of the trial court on the matter. We have not overlooked the rather belated retraction of
Amado Mendoza made on October 31, 1952, about a year and 9 months after he testified in court. Considering the circumstances
surrounding the making of this affidavit or retraction, the late date at which it was made, the reasons given by him for making it and the
fact that when he testified in court under the observation and scrutiny of the trial court bearing in mind that he was the star witness for
the prosecution and his testimony naturally extremely important, and the trial court after the opportunity given to it of observing his
demeanor while on the witness stand had regarded him as a witness, sincere, and his testimony truthful, and considering further the
case with which affidavits of retraction of this nature are obtained, we confess that we are not impressed with such retraction of
Mendoza.

The last point to be determined is the nature of the offense of offenses committed. Appellants were charged with and convicted of the
complex crime of rebellion with multiple murder, frustrated murder, arson and robbery. Is there such a complex crime of rebellion with
multiple murder, etc? While the Solicitor General in his brief claims that appellants are guilty of said complex crime and in support of his
stand "asks for leave to incorporate by reference" his previous arguments in opposing Umali's petition for bail, counsel for appellants
considered it unnecessary to discuss the existence or non-existence of such complex crime, saying that the nature of the crime
committed "is of no moment to herein appellants because they had absolutely no part in it whatsoever". For that present, and with
respect to this particular case, we deem it unnecessary to decide this important and controversial question, its consideration and
determination to another case or occasion more opportune, when it is more directly and squarely raised and both parties given an
opportunity to discuss and argue the question more adequately and exhaustively. Considering that, assuming for the moment that there
is no such complex crime of rebellion with murder, etc., and that consequently appellants could not have been legally charged with,
much less convicted of said complex crime, and the information should therefore, be regarded as having charged more than one
offense, contrary to Rule 106, section 12 and Rule 113, section 2 (e), of the Rules of Court, but that appellants having interposed no
objection thereto, they were properly tried for and lawfully convicted if guilty of the several, separate crimes charged therein, we have
decided and we rule that the appellants may properly be convicted of said several and separate crimes, as hereinafter specified. We
feel particularly supported and justified in this stand that we take, by the result of the case, namely, that the prison sentence we impose
does not exceed, except perhaps in actual duration, that meted out by the Court below, which is life imprisonment.

We are convinced that the principal and main, tho not necessarily the most serious, crime committed here was not rebellion but rather
that of sedition. The purpose of the raid and the act of the raiders in rising publicly and taking up arms was not exactly against the
Government and for the purpose of doing the things defined in Article 134 of the Revised Penal code under rebellion. The raiders did
not even attack the Presidencia, the seat of local Government. Rather, the object was to attain by means of force, intimidation, etc. one
object, to wit, to inflict an act of hate or revenge upon the person or property of a public official, namely, Punzalan was then Mayor of
Tiaong. Under Article 139 of the same Code this was sufficient to constitute sedition. As regards the crime of robbery with which
appellants were charged and of which they were convicted, we are also of the opinion that it was not one of the purposes of the raid,
which was mainly to kidnap or kill Punzalan and destroy his house. The robberies were actually committed by only some of the raiders,
presumably dissidents, as an afterthought, because of the opportunity offered by the confusion and disorder resulting from the shooting
and the burning of the three houses, the articles being intended presumably to replenish the supplies of the dissidents in the mountains.
For these robberies, only those who actually took part therein are responsible, and not the three appellants herein. With respect to the
crime of multiple frustrated murder, while the assault upon policeman Pedro Lacorte with a hand grenade causing him injuries resulting
in his blindness in one eye, may be regarded as frustrated murder; the wounding of Ortega, Anselo, Rivano, Garcia and Lector should
be considered as mere physical injuries. The crimes committed are, therefore, those of sedition, multiple murder, arson, frustrated
murder and physical injuries. The murders may not be qualified by evident premeditation because the premedition was for the killing of
Punzalan. The result was the killing of three others intended by the raiders (People vs. Guillen, 47 Off). The killing may, however, be
qualified by treachery, the raiders using firearms against which the victims were defenseless, with the aggravating circumstance of
abuse of superior strength. The three murders may be punished with the penalty of death. However, because of lack of the necessary
votes, the penalty should be life imprisonment.

We deem it unnecessary to discuss the other points raised by the appellants in their brief.

In conclusion, we find appellants guilty of sedition, multiple murder, arson, frustrated murder and physical injuries. For the crime of
sedition each of the appellants is sentenced to 5 years of prision correctional and to pay a fine of P4,000; for each of the three murders,
each of the appellants is sentenced to life imprisonment and to indemnify the heirs of each victim in the sum of P6,000; and for the
arson, for which we impose the maximum penalty provided in Article 321, paragraph 1, of the Revised Penal Code, for the reason that
the raiders in setting fire to the buildings, particularly the house of Punzalan they knew that it was then occupied by one or more
persons, because they even and actually saw an old lady, the mother of Punzalan, at the window, and in view of the aggravating
circumstances of nighttime, each of the appellants is sentenced to reclusion perpetua and to pay the indemnities mentioned in the
decision of the lower court. It shall be understood, however, the pursuant to the provisions of Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code the
duration of all penalties shall not exceed 40 years. In view of the heavy penalties already imposed and their long duration, we find it
unnecessary to fix and impose the prison sentences corresponding to frustrated murder and physical injuries; however, the sums
awarded the victims (Lacorte, Ortega, Anselo, Rivano, Garcia and Lector), by the court below will stand. With these modifications, the
decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with costs.

Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, A., Jugo, Bautista Angelo, Concepcion and Reyes, J.B.L., JJ., concur.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

SECOND DIVISON

G.R. No. 125796, Promulgated: December 27, 2000

OFFICE OF THE PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR OF ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Petitioners,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, ATICO ABORDO, JUDY CATUBIG, PETER MOLATO, and FLORENCIO CANDIA,Respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:

The issue in this case is whether, even before the start of trial, the prosecution can be ordered to change the information which it had
filed on the ground that the evidence presented at the preliminary investigation shows that the crime committed is not murder with
multiple frustrated murder, but rebellion. The trial court ruled that the power to determine what crime to charge on the basis of the
evidence gathered is the prerogative of the public prosecutor. The Court of Appeals, however, while agreeing with the trial court,
nevertheless found the prosecutor to have gravely abused his discretion in charging murder with frustrated murder on the ground that
the evidence adduced at the preliminary investigation shows that the crime committed was rebellion. Accordingly, it ordered the
prosecutor to substitute the information filed by him. Hence, this petition brought by the provincial prosecutor of Zamboanga del Norte
for a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals.
The facts are not in dispute. On August 3, 1993, the provincial prosecutor of Zamboanga del Norte 1 filed with the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 8, Dipolog City, an information (docketed as Criminal Case No, 6427) charging private respondents and 10 other individuals
with murder and multiple frustrated murder. The Information reads:

The undersigned, Provincial Prosecutor, accuses ATICO OBODO alias "Dondoy," NACENCIANO PACA-LIUGA, JR., ELEAZAR
FLORENDO, NESTOR BASES alias ‘Beses/Belly,’ FLORENCIO CANDIA alias "Bimbo," JUDY CATUBIG alias ‘Elboy/Al," PETER
MOLATO alias, Joker,’ ALBERTO CATUBIG alias "Blacky", ALMARIO CATUBIG alias ‘Nixon,’ JIMMY BENGAL alias "Macoboy,"
ENRICO SIMBULAN alias ‘Monstop,’ JIMMY GARIG alias "Gino" and BERNIDO QUENCAS alias "Digoy’ of the crime of MURDER
WITH MULTIPLE FRUSTRATED MURDER, committed as follows:

That, in the morning, on or about the 1st day of May, 1988, in the Municipality of Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte, within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused armed with the high caliber firearms, conspiring, confederating together and
mutually helping one another and with intent to kill by means of treachery and evident premeditation did then and there willfully,
unlawfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and fire several shots to one Cpl. ALFREDO DELA CRUZ PA, which accused his
instantaneous death and causing injuries to the following victims namely: SGT. RODRIGO ALVIAR PA, SGT. RODRIGO BARADI,
SGT. LINOGAMAN PIATOS and SGT. BELLIZAR PA, which injuries would ordinarily cause their death; thus performing all the acts of
execution which would have produced the crime of MURDER, as a consequence, but which nevertheless did not produce it for reason
of causes independent of the will of the herein accused, that is the timely and able medical attendance rendered to the said victims
which prevented their death; that as a result of the commission of the said crime the heirs of Cpl. Alfredo de la Cruz and the herein
victims suffered the following damages, vis:

On victim CPL ALFREDO DELA CRUZ:

a. Indemnity for

Victim’s death ….. P50, 000.00

b. Loss of earning

Capacity ………… 30,000.00

P80, 000.00

SGT. RODRIGO ALVIAR:

a) Hospitalization …… P10, 000.00

c. Loss of earning

Capacity ………….. 10,000.00

P20, 000.00

SGT. LINOGAMAN PIATOS:

a) Hospitalization …… P10, 000.00

d. Loss of earning

Capacity ………….. 10,000.00

P20,000.00

SGT. RODRIGO BARADI;

a) Hospitalization …… P10,000.00

e. Loss of earning

Capacity ………….. 10,000.00

P20,000.00

SGT. BELLIZAR:

a) Hospitalization …… P10,000.00

f. Loss of earning

Capacity ………….. 10,000.00

P20,000.00
CONTR ARY TO LAW (Viol. Of Art. 248, in relation or Art. 48 of the Revised Penal Code), with the aggravating circumstance of
superior strength and with the qualifying circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation. 2

The foregoing information is based on a joint affidavit executed on June 1, 1993 by five individuals, who claim to be former members of
the New People’s Army (NPA), before the Municipal Trial Court of Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte. The affiants stated that on May 1,
1988, their group, which included private respondents, figured in an armed encounter with elements of the Philippine Army in Campo
Uno, Femagas, Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte, as a result of which one solider, Cpl. Alfredo de la Cruz, was killed while four others,
Sgts. Rodrigo Alviar, Linomagan Piatos, Rodrigo Baradi, and a certain Bellizar, were seriously wounded. Although private respondents
did not appear nor submit affidavits in the preliminary investigation, they appealed the resolution of the provincial prosecutor to the
Secretary of Justice on the ground that, in accusing them of murder and multiple frustrated murder, the provincial prosecutor
disregarded the political motivation which made the crime committed rebellion. When the case was filed in court, private respondents
reiterated their contention and prayed that the provincial prosecutor be ordered to change the charge from murder with multiple
frustrated murder to rebellion.

On September 29, 1995, the trial court issued an order denying private respondents’ motion for the correction or amendment of the
information. The trial court said.3

Be it recalled, that as pointed out by the Asst. Provincial Prosecutor, the same moving counsel sometime on July 22, 1993 filed a notice
of appeal assailing the resolution of the provincial prosecutor dated July 16, 1993 finding probable cause against all the above-named
accused for the crime of Murder and Multiple frustrated Murder, to the Honorable Secretary of Justice, by raising the same issue that
"instead of recommending the filing of a political crime such as subversion or rebellion, the investigating prosecutor is recommending
the filing of the common crime of murder to cover-up the apparent political color of the alleged crime committed.’ Until the Secretary of
Justice therefore resolves the appeal by the movant, this court will have no basis to order the public prosecutor to amend or change the
crime charged in the information. Besides, this Court recognizes and respects the prerogative of the fiscal to determine whether or not a
prima facie case exists in a given case against the accused. This power vested in the fiscal cannot be interfered with even by the
courts.

But since the case has already been filed with this Court, jurisdiction therefor now lies with the court. It may not even be bound by the
ruling of the Secretary of Justice…

Private respondents twice moved for reconsideration and twice were rebuffed. They then filed a petition for certiorari with this Court to
set aside the orders dated September 29, October 24, and November 3, 1995 of the trial court. They impleaded the provincial
prosecutor of Zamboanga del Norte as co-respondent of Judge Pacifico Garcia of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 8, Dipolog City.

Without ruling on the petition, this Court referred the case to the Court of Appeals, which, in decision 4 dated July 24, 1996, the subject
of this review, found the provincial prosecutor guilty of grave abuse of discretion in charging private respondents with murder with
multiple frustrated murder. The Court of Appeals held:

The New People’s Army (NPA) is the armed component of the Communist Party in this country called the national
Democratic Front (NDF). The ultimate objective of the NPA/NDF is to overthrow the constitutional democratic plant it
with a government anchored on the communist ideology.

It is common practice of the military and police to charge captured or arrested members f the NPA with capital offenses like murder,
robbery with homicide, illegal possession of firearms used in the commission of homicide or murder, arson resulting in death rather than
on simple rebellion.

If an NPA fighter (terrorist, according to the military lexicon) commits homicide, murder, arson, robbery, illegal possession of firearms
and ammunition in furtherance or on the occasion of his revolutionary pursuit, the only crime he has committed is rebellion because all
those common crimes are absorbed in the latter one pursuant to the ruling in People v. Hernandez, 99 Phil. 515 and several
subsequent cases.

The reason why instead of charging the NPA fighter with capital offenses mentioned supra and not the proper offense of rebellion is
obvious. Rebellion is a bailable offense and given the resources of the NPA, it is the easiest thing for it to bail out its members facing
rebellion charges in court. Once out, the NPA fighter goes back to his mountain lair and continues the fight against the government. If
he is accused of a capital offense where the granting of bail is a matter of discretion, his chances of securing provisional liberty during
the pendency of the trial are very much lessened.

Since, the military and the police carry the brunt of fighting the NPAs and in so doing they put their limbs and lives on the line, it is easy
for Us to understand why they usually charge the captured or arrested NPAs with capital offenses instead of the proper offense which is
rebellion. The police or military practice is of course wrong, but it is not much of a problem because it is at most recommendatory in
nature. It is the prosecutory service that ultimately decides the offense to be charged.

No one disputes the well-entrenched principle in criminal procedure that the public prosecutor has the discretion to determine the crime
to be charged in a criminal action. But like all discretion’s, his must be exercised soundly, meaning, reasonably, responsibly, and fairly.
As stated by the Supreme Court in Misola v. Panga cited in respondents’ Comment (p. 61, Rollo); "The question of instituting a criminal
charge is one addressed to the sound discretion of the investigating Fiscal. The information must be supported by the facts brought
about by an inquiry made by him." (Underscoring supplied).

If then, a public prosecutor deliberately ignores or suppresses an evidence in his hands which palpably indicates the chargeable
offense and files an information charging a more serious one, he departs from the precinct of discretion and treads on the forbidden
field or arbitrary action.

This was what happened in the case at bench. The evidentiary bases of the criminal action against petitioners are the Joint Affidavit
and the recorded testimony earlier adverted to. It is not at all disputed that based upon these two documents, the proper offense to
charge petitioners with is rebellion. No amount of legalistic sophistry can make those documents support murder for these offenses in
the factual milieu in this case were all absorbed by rebellion.
We vehemently reject respondents’ contention that the petitioners do not suffer any prejudice because they can use their theory that the
chargeable offense is only rebellion as a defense in the trial on the merits and if the trial court finds that the evidence establishes only
rebellion, then, it can convict them under the Information for just that lesser crime. This argument is not only wrong but betrays
insensitivity to violation of human rights. If prosecutory discretion is twisted to charge a person of an unbailable offense and, therefore,
keeps him under detention when the truly chargeable offense is a bailable one, the prosecutor transgresses upon the human rights of
the accused.5

The appeals court was more kindly disposed toward the trial court. It said:

Respecting the respondent court, the situation is different…

The Joint Affidavit and the recorded testimony mentioned earlier are not part of the records. The trial has not yet been started and,
therefore, no evidence has yet been adduced. There is no basis then for the trial court even to call the attention of the prosecutor to a
mistake in the crime charged.

We hold that respondent court did not commit an error in issuing the assailed orders, much less gravely abused its discretion in issuing
them.6

Accordingly, the Court of Appeals ordered:

WHEREFORE, with the foregoing premises, We a) dismiss the petition as against respondent court for lack of merit; and b) order the
respondent office of Provincial Prosecutor to file a substitute Information in Criminal Case No. 6472 charging the petitioners with
rebellion only.7

Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred

I. IN MAKING DISPARATE AND IRRECONCILABLE RULINGS CONCERNING THE CORRECTNESS OF THE


ACTION OF PETITIONER AND THE LOWER COURT.
II. IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION IN CHARGING PRIVATE
RESPONDENTS WITH MURDER AND MULTIPLE FRUSTRATED MURDER.8

We find the contentions to be well taken.

First. It was improper for the Court of Appeals to consider the record of the preliminary investigation as basis for finding petitioner
provincial prosecutor guilty of grave abuse of discretion when such record was not presented before the trial court and, therefore, was
not part of the record of the case. Rule 112, 8 of the Revised Rules of Criminal procedure provide;

SEC. 8. Record of preliminary investigation. – The record of the preliminary investigation whether conducted by a judge or a fiscal, shall
not form part of the record of the case in the Regional Trial Court. However, the said court, on its own initiative or that of any party, may
order the production of the record of any part thereof whenever the same shall be necessary in the resolution of the case or any
incident therein, or shall be introduced as evidence by the party requesting for its production.

The certiorari proceedings in the Court of Appeals was limited to the record of the trial court and indeed the Court of Appeals
recognized this by absolving the trial court of any liability for abuse of its discretion. It is petitioner provincial prosecutor, which it found
guilty of grave abuse of discretion in filing a case for murder with multiple frustrated murder against private respondents because, in its
view, the crime committed is rebellion. The Court of Appeals based its ruling on the joint affidavit of five prosecution witnesses and their
testimonies relating to such affidavit before the Municipal Trial Court of Katipunan, Zamboanga del Norte, which had conducted the
preliminary investigation. But this could not be done because the petition before it was a petition for certiorari to set aside orders of the
Regional Trial Court denying private respondents’ motion to compel petitioner to change the charge against them from murder with
frustrated murder to rebellion.

To sustain the procedure followed by the Court of Appeals of considering evidence dehors the record of the trial court would be to set a
bad precedent whereby the accused in any case can demand, upon the filing of the information, a review of the evidence presented
during the preliminary investigation for the purpose of compelling the trial court to change the charge to a lesser offense. Such a ruling
would undermine the authority of the prosecutor and impose and intolerable burden on the trial court. As held in Depamaylo v.
Brotario.9

The Court in a number of cases has declared that a municipal judge has no legal authority to determine the character of the crime but
only to determine whether or not the evidence presented supported prima facie the allegation of facts contained in the complaint. He
has no legal authority to determine the character of the crime and his declaration upon that point can only be regarded as an
expression of opinion in no wise binding on the court (People vs. Gorospe, 53 Phil. 960; de Guzman vs. Escalona, 97 SCRA 619). This
power belongs to the fiscal Bais vs. Tugaoen, 89 SCRA 101).

It is to be noted that private respondents did not even attend the preliminary investigation during which they could have shown that the
crime committed was rebellion because the killing and wounding of the government troopers was made in furtherance of rebellion and
not for some private motive.

Second. Indeed, it is not at all clear that the crime as made out by the facts alleged in the Joint Affidavit of witnesses is rebellion and not
murder with multiple murder. The affidavit reads:

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES


PROVINCE OF ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE) S.S

Municipality of Jose Dalman)

X----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

JOINT AFFIDAVIT

I..Teofilo D. Sarigan, 31 years old, Manuel A. Cuenca, 28 yrs. Old, Romulo A. Pacaldo, 25 years old, Carmelito
Carpe, 36 yrs. Old, all married and Pablo D. Maladia, 20 yrs. old and with postal address of Brgy. Lopero, Brgy.
Lumaping, of Jose Dalman, Brgy. Villahermosa, Roxas, all of ZDN, Brgy. Sigamok, Dumingag, ZDS and Brgy. Lipay.
Jose Dalman, ZDN after having been duly sworn to an oath in accordance to law do hereby depose and answer
questions propounded:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:

1. Q – Why are you here now in this office?

A – To render statement regarding the alleged incident wherein we were previously involved when we were still with
the underground movement of CPP/NPA that transpired on or about 011000H May 1988 at vicinity Campo Uno,
Femagas, Katipunan, ZDN against the government troops of 321B.

2. Q – Since when the five (5) of you entered the underground movement of CPP.NPA?

A – Since May 16, 1980, August 12, 1980, March 12, 1981, May 7, 1983 and August 27, 2987, sir.

3. Q – What is your previous position?

A – CO, FCOM (Front Command) and second deputy secretary of FC-1 "BBC, the Vice CO, FCOM, the CO, FCOM
after @ Bebeth surrender, a Unit Militia (YM) member, GYP element under squad Lion all of FC-1 "BBC" in which we
are operating within the Province of ZDN.

4. Q – Will you narrate to me what and how the incident you are referring to all about?

A – Actually sir, last 30 April 1988 our main force of FGU, FC-1 "BBC" had a meeting at vicinity basketball court of
vicinity Campo Uno, Femagas, Katipunan ZDN. While on that status our security group left at the high ground portion
of the place and engaged the advancing government troops of 321B after which we then decided to postpone the
meeting hence, the government troops presence. However, on the following day of 01 May 1988 at about 10:00
o’clock in the morning when we assembled again at the aforesaid place, firefight occurred between us and the
government troops of 321B which resulted to inflict casualties to the 321B troopers, KIA one (1) Cpl. Alfredo Dela
Cruz and wounding four (4) others, Sgt. Rodrigo Alviar, Sgt. Linogaman Piatos, Sgt. Rodrigo Baradi and Sgt. Bellizar
while on our side with one wounded @ TOY.

5. Q – Can you still recall the names of those other NPA’s that participated in that encounter against the government
troops?

A – Yes, sir. ATICO OBORDO @ DONDOY, NACENCIANO PACALIUGA JR., @ ALFIE/IGI, ELEAZAT
FLOREDO, NESTOR BASES @ BELOY/BELLY. FLORENCIO CANDIA @ BIMBO, JUDY CATUBIG @
ELBOY/AL, PETER MOLATO @ JOKER, BIENVENIDO CATUBIG @ RASTY, ALBERTO CATUBIG @
BLACKY/RENATO, ALMARIO CATUBIG @ NOEL, ROGER CATUBIG @ JAMSE, JOEL CATUBIG @
NIXON, JIMMY DINGAL @ MACBOY, ENRICO SIMBULAN @ NONSTOP, @ DANDY, @ WAWAY, @
ALBA/JONAS, JIMMY GARIG @ NONOY, NILO CATUNGAN @ GINO, BERNIDO QUENECAS @ DIGOY,
@ CRISTINE/LFA @ MARILOU @ ELNA, @ BENIGNO PAULINO CORPUZ @ JR/PAWA, BENJAMIN
SANTANDER @ JAKE, @NESTOR, @ JAY, @ ISAGANI, @ RONIE, ESMAEL OBORDO @ ANICIO, @
FREDO, @ RUEL, @ DODONG, JULITA ADJANAN @ GENIE, @ TONY, @ RJ, @ LANNIE @ DEMET, @
RENDON, @JESS, @ SAMSON AND many others, sir.

Q – Then what transpired next?

A – Right after the encounter, we withdraw our troops towards vicinity SVR, complex, Sergio
Osmeña, Sr., ZDN.

Q – Do you have something more to say?

A – Nothing more, sir.

Q – Are you willing to sign you statement without being forced, coerced or intimidated?

A – Yes, sir.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, WE hereunto affix our signature this 1st day of June 1993 at Katipunan, ZN Philippines.

(SGD.) TEOFILO D. SARIGAN

Affiant
(SGD,) MANUEL A. CUENCA

Affiant

(SGD,) ROMULO A. PACALDO

Affiant

(SGD.) CARMELITO L. CARPE

Affiant

(SGD.) PABLO G. MALADIA

Affiant

SUBSCRIBED and SWORN to before me this 1st day of June 1993 at Katipunan, ZN, Philippines.

(SGD.) ADELA S. GANDOLA

Municipal Trial Judge

Nowhere is the political motivation for the commission of the crime indicated in foregoing affidavit. Merely because it is alleged that
private respondents were members of the CCP/NPA who engaged government troops in a firefight resulting in the death of a
government trooper and the wounding of four others does not necessarily mean that the killing and wounding of the victims was made
in furtherance of a rebellion. The political motivation for the crime must be shown in order to justify finding the crime committed to be
rebellion. Otherwise, as in People v. Ompad,10although it was shown that the accused was an NPA commander, he was nonetheless
convicted of murder for the killing of a person suspected of being a government informer. At all events, as this Court said in Balosis v.
Chanvez:11

Certainly, the public prosecutors should have the option to ascertain which prosecutions should be initiated on the basis of the evidence
at hand. That a criminal act may have elements common to more than one offense does not rob the prosecutor of that option (or
discretion) and mandatory require him to charge the lesser offense although the evidence before him may warrant prosecution of the
more serious one.12

In Baylosis v. Chavez, the accused, who were NPA members, assailed the constitutionality of P.D. No. 1866 under which they were
charged with illegal possession of firearm and ammunition on the ground that it gave prosecutors the discretion to charge an accused
either with rebellion or with other crimes committed in furtherance thereof. In rejecting their contention, this Court said:

The argument is not tenable. The fact is that the Revised Penal Code trets rebellion or insurrection as a crime distinct from murder,
homicide, arson, or other felonies that might conceivably be committed in the course of rebellion. It is the Code, therefore, in relation to
the evidence in the hands of the public prosecutor, and not the latter’s whim or caprice, which gives the choice. The Code allows, for
example, separate prosecutions for either murder or rebellion, although not for both where the indictment alleges that the former has
been committed in furtherance of or in connection with the latter. 13

The burden of proving that the motivation for the crime is political and not private is on the defense. This is the teaching of another
case.14 in which it was held;

In deciding if the crime is rebellion, not murder, it becomes imperative for our courts to ascertain whether or not the act was done in
furtherance of a political end. The political motive of the act should be conclusively demonstrated.

In such cases the burden of demonstrating political motive falls on the defense, motive, being a state of mind which the accused better
than any individual knows.

Its not enough that the overt acts of rebellion are duly proven. Both purpose and overt acts are essential components of the crime. With
either of these elements wanting, the crime of rebellion legally does not exist.

The proceedings in the case at bar is still in the pre-arraignment stage. The parties have yet to present their respective evidence. If
during the trial, private respondents are able to show proof which would support their present contention, then they can avail of the
remedy provided under the second paragraph of Rule 110, 14 15 which provides:

If it appears at any time before judgement that a mistake has been made in charging the proper offense, the court shall dismiss the
original complaint or information upon the filing of a new one charging the proper offense in accordance with Rule 119, Section 11,
provided the accused would not be placed thereby in double jeopardy…

Until then, however, petitioner provincial prosecutor is under no obligation to change against private respondents.

Third. The Court of Appeals says it is a common practice of the military and the police to charge captured members of the NPA with
capital offenses like murder, robbery with homicide, or illegal possession of firearms rather than rebellion. The alleged purpose is to
deny them bail only if it can be shown that the evidence against them is not strong, whereas if the charge is rebellion, private
respondents would have an absolute right to bail.
As already stated, however, given the Joint affidavit of the prosecution witnesses alone, it is not possible to determine at this stage of
the criminal proceeding that in engaging the government troops in a "firefight," private respondents were acting in pursuance of
rebellion. It could be that the "firefight" was more of an ambush staged by the NPA, as shown by the fact that while the government
troop suffered one dead and four wounded, the CPP/NPA suffered only one wounded.

The charge that it is "common practice’ for the military and the police to charge suspected rebels with murder in order to prevent them
from going on bail can be laid equally at the door of the accused. As noted in Enrile v. Salazar:16

It may be that in the light of contemporary events, the act of rebellion has lost that quintessentially quixotic quality that justifies the
relative leniency with which it is regarded and punished by law, that present-day rebels are less impelled by love of country than by lust
for power and have become no better than mere terrorists to whom nothing, not even the sancity of human life, is allowed to stand in
the way of their ambitions. Nothing so c this aberration as the rash of seemingly senseless killings, bombings, kidnappings and
assorted mayhem so much in the news these days, as often perpetrated against innocent civilians as against the military, but by and
large attributable to, or even claimed by so called rebels to be part of, an ongoing rebellion.17

What the real crime is must await the presentation of evidence at the trial or at the hearing on the application for bail. Those accused of
common crimes can then show proof that the crime with which they were charged is really rebellion. They are thus not without any
remedy.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals, dated July 24, 1996, is REVERSED insofar as it orders petitioner to file a
substitute information for rebellion in Criminal Case No. 6427. In other respects, it is AFFIRMED. 1âwph i1.nêt

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

Footnote:

1 Rodolfo T. Mata.

2
Rollo, pp. 44-46.

3 Id., pp. 50-51.

4
Per Justice Hilarion L. Aquino and concurred in by Justices Jainal D. Rasul and Hector Hofileña.

5 CA Decision, pp. 4-6; Rollo, pp. 43-45.

6 Id., p. 6; id., p. 45.

7
Id., p. 7; id., p. 46.

8 Rollo, p. 19.

9
265 SCRA 151, 157 (1996).

10 233 SCRA 62 (1994)

11 202 SRA 405 (1991).

12 Supra at 419-420 (1991).

13 Id., at 415 (emphasis added).

14 People v. Lovedioro, 250 SCRA 389, 395 (1995) (emphasis added).

15 Now Rule 110, 14, par. 3 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure (2000).

16 186 SCRA 217 (1990).

17 Supra at 233.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 202692 November 12, 2014

EDMUND SYDECO y SIONZON, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

Assailed and sought to be set aside in this petition for review under Rule 45 are the December 28, 2011 Decision and July 18, 2012
1

Resolution of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR No. 33567. The assailed issuances affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial
2 3

Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 12, in Criminal Case Nos. 09-270107-08 which, in turn, affirmed that of the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MeTC) in Manila adjudging petitioner Edmund Sydeco (Sydeco) guilty of drunk driving and resisting arrest. 4

The factual backdrop:

On July 20, 2006, separate Informations, one for Violation of Section 56(f) of Republic Act No. (RA) 4136 and another, for Violation of
5

Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) were filed against petitioner Sydeco with the MeTC in Manila and eventually raffled to
6

Branch 14 of that court. The accusatory portions of the interrelated informations, docketed as Crim. Case No. 052527-CN for the first
offense and Crim. Case No. 052528-CN for the second, respectively read:

1. Crim. Case No. 052527-CN

That on or about June 11, 2006, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, being then the driver and owner of a car, did then
and there willfully and unlawfully, drive, manage and operate the same along Roxas Blvd. cor. Quirino Avenue, Malate, in said city,
while under the influence of liquor, in violation of Section 56(f) of Republic Act 4136.

Contrary to law.

2. Crim. Case No. 052528-CN

That on or about June 11, 2006, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did then and there willfully and unlawfully resist
and disobey P/INSP Manuel Aguilar, SPO2 Virgilio Paulino, SPO4 Efren Bodino and PO3 Benedict Cruz III, bonafide member of the
Philippine National Police, Malate Police Station-9, duly qualified and appointed, and while in the actual performance of their official
duties as such police officers, by then and there resisting, shoving and pushing, the hands of said officers while the latter was placing
him under arrest for violation of Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code.

Contrary to law.

By Order of September 19, 2006, the MeTC classified the cases as falling under, thus to be governed by, the Rule on Summary
Procedure.

When arraigned, petitioner, as accused, pleaded "Not Guilty" to both charges.

During the trial of the two consolidated cases, the prosecution presented in evidence the oral testimonies of SPO4 Efren Bodino
(Bodino), PO2 Emanuelle Parungao and Ms. Laura Delos Santos, plus the documents each identified while in the witness box, among
7 8 9

which was Exh. "A", with sub-markings, the Joint Affidavit of Arrest executed by SPO2 Bodino and two other police officers. The
10

defense’s witnesses, on the other hand, consisted of Sydeco himself, his wife, Mildred, and Joenilo Pano.

The prosecution’s version of the incident, as summarized in and/or as may be deduced from, the CA decision now on appeal is as
follows:

On or about June 11, 2006, P/Insp. Manuel Aguilar (Aguilar), SPO4 Bodino, PO3 Benedict Cruz III and another officer were manning a
checkpoint established along Roxas Boulevard corner Quirino Ave., Malate, Manila when, from about twenty (20) meters away, they
spotted a swerving red Ford Ranger pick up with plate number XAE-988. Petitioner was behind the wheel. The team members, all
inuniform, flagged the vehicle down and asked the petitioner to alightfrom the vehicle so he could take a rest at the police station
situated nearby,before he resumes driving. Petitioner, who the policemen claimed was smelling of liquor, denied being drunk and
11

insisted he could manage to drive. Then in a raised voice, petitioner started talking rudely to the policemen and in fact yelled at P/Insp.
Aguilar blurting: "P…g ina mo, bakit mo ako hinuhuli." Atthat remark, P/Insp. Aguilar, who earlier pointed out to petitioner that his team
had seen him swerving and driving under the influence of liquor, proceeded to arrestpetitioner who put up resistance. Despite
petitioner’s efforts to parry the hold on him, the police eventually succeeded in subduing him who was then brought to the Ospital ng
Maynila where he was examined and found to be positive of alcoholic breath per the Medical Certificate issuedby that hospital, marked
as Exh. "F". Petitioner was then turned over to the Malate Police Station for disposition. Petitioner, on the other hand, claimed tobe a
12

victim in the incident in question, adding in this regard that he has in fact filed criminal charges for physical injuries, robbery and
arbitrary detention against P/Insp. Aguilar et al. In his Counter-Affidavit and his Complaint-Affidavit appended thereto, petitioner
13 14

averred that, in the early morning of June 12, 2006, he together with Joenilo Pano and Josie Villanueva, cook and waitress,
respectively, in his restaurant located along Macapagal Ave., Pasay City, were on the way home from on board his pick-up when
signaled to stop by police officers at the area immediately referred to above. Their flashlights trained on the inside of the vehicle and its
occupants, the policemen then asked the petitioner to open the vehicle’s door and alight for a body and vehicle search, a directive he
refused to heed owing to a previous extortion experience. Instead, he opened the vehicle window, uttering, "plain view lang boss, plain
view lang." Obviously irked by this remark, one of the policemen, P/Insp. Aguilar, as it turnedout, then told the petitioner that he was
drunk, pointing to three cases of empty beer bottles in the trunk of the vehicle. Petitioner’s explanation about being sober and that the
empty bottles adverted to came from his restaurant was ignored as P/Insp. Aguilar suddenly boxed him (petitioner) on the mouth and
poked a gun at his head, at the same time blurting, "P…g ina mo gusto mo tapusin na kita dito marami ka pang sinasabi." The officers
then pulled the petitioner out of the driver’s seat and pushed him into the police mobile car, whereupon he, petitioner, asked his
companions to call up his wife. The policemen then brought petitioner to the Ospital ng Maynila where they succeeded in securing a
medical certificate under the signature of one Dr. Harvey Balucating depicting petitioner as positive of alcoholic breath, although he
refused to be examined and no alcohol breath examination was conducted. He was thereafter detained from 3:00 a.m.of June 12, 2006
and released in the afternoon of June 13, 2006. Before his release, however, he was allowed to undergo actual medical examination
where the resulting medical certificate indicated that he has sustained physical injuries but negative for alcohol breath. Ten days later,
petitioner filed his Complaint-Affidavit against Dr. Balucating, P/Insp. Aguilar and the other police officers.
Petitioner also stated in his counter-affidavit that, under Sec. 29 of R.A. 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the
procedure for dealing with a traffic violation is not to place the erring driver under arrest, but to confiscate his driver’s license.

On June 26, 2009, the MeTC rendered judgment finding petitioner guilty as charged, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the prosecution having established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, his
conviction of the offenses charges is hereby pronounced. Accordingly, he is sentenced to:

1. Pay a fine of two hundred fifty pesos (₱250.00) for Criminal Case No. 052527-CN; and

2. Suffer imprisonment of straight penalty of three (3) months and pay a fine of two hundred fifty pesos (₱250.00) for Criminal
Case No. 052528-CN.

For lack of basis, no civil liability is adjudged.

The Branch Clerk of Court is directed to certify to the Land Transportation Office the result of this case, stating further the data required
under Section 58 of Republic Act 4136.
15

Therefrom, petitioner appealed to the RTC on the main submissions that the MeTC erred in: 1) according credit to the medical
certificate issued by Dr. Balucating, although the records custodian of Ospital ng Maynila was presented to testify thereon instead of the
issuing physician, and 2) upholding the veracity of the joint affidavit of arrest of P/INSP Manuel Aguilar, SPO4 Efren Bodino, and PO3
Benedict Cruz III, considering that only SPO4 Bodino appeared in court to testify.

By Decision dated February 22, 2010, the RTC affirmed the conviction of the petitioner, addressing the first issue thus raised in the
16

appeal in the following wise: Dr. Balucating’s failure to testify relative to petitioner’s alcoholic breath, as indicatedin the medical
certificate, is not fatal as such testimony would only serve to corroborate the testimony on the matter of SPO4 Bodino, noting thatunder
the Rules of Court, observations of the police officers regarding the petitioner’s behavior would suffice to support the conclusion of the
17

latter’s drunken state on the day he was apprehended. 18

Apropos the second issue, the RTC pointed out that the prosecution has the discretion as to how many witnesses it needs to present
before the trial court, the positive testimony of a single credible witness as to the guilt of the accused being reasonable enough to
warrant a conviction. The RTC cited established jurisprudence enunciating the rule that preponderance is not necessarily with the
19

greatest number as "[W]itnesses are to be weighed, not numbered." Following the denial by the RTC of his motion for reconsideration,
petitioner went to the CA on a petition for review, the recourse docketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 33567. By a Decision dated December 28,
2011, as would be reiterated in a Resolution of July 18, 2012, the appellatecourt affirmed that of the RTC, thus:

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated February 22, 2010 of the RTC, Manila, Branch 12, is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Hence, this petition on the following stated issues:

I. The CA erred in upholding the presumption of regularity in the performance of duties by the police officers; and

II. The CA erred in giving weight to the Medical Certificate issued by Dr. Harvey Balucating, in the absence of his testimony
before the Court.

The petition is meritorious.

Prefatory, the rule according great weight, even finality at times, to the trial court’s findings of fact does hold sway when, as here, it
appears in the record that facts and circumstancesof weight and substance have been overlooked, misapprehended or misapplied in a
case under appeal. Corollary, it is basic that an appeal in criminal prosecutions throws the whole case wide open for review, inclusive
20

of the matter of credibility and appreciation of evidence. ` Peace officers and traffic enforcers,like other public officials and employees
21

are bound to discharge their duties with prudence, caution and attention, which careful men usually exercise in the management of their
own affairs.22

In the case at bar, the men manning the checkpoint in the subject area and during the period material appearednot to have performed
their duties as required by law, or at least fell short of the norm expected of peace officers. They spotted the petitioner’s purported
swerving vehicle. They then signaled him to stop which he obeyed. But they did not demand the presentation of the driver’s license
orissue any ticket or similar citation paper for traffic violation as required under the particular premises by Sec. 29 of RA 4136, which
specifically provides:

SECTION 29. Confiscation of Driver’s License. – Law enforcement and peace officers of other agencies duly deputized by the Director
shall, in apprehending a driver for any violation of this Act or any regulations issued pursuant thereto, or of local traffic rules and
regulations x x x confiscate the license ofthe driver concerned and issue a receipt prescribed and issuedby the Bureau therefor which
shall authorize the driver to operate a motor vehicle for a period not exceeding seventy-two hours from the time and date of issue of
said receipt. The period so fixed in the receipt shall not be extended, and shall become invalid thereafter.x x x (Emphasis added.)
Instead of requiring the vehicle’s occupants to answer one or two routinary questions out of respectto what the Court has, in Abenes v.
Court of Appeals, adverted to as the motorists’ right of "free passage without [intrusive] interruption," P/Insp. Aguilar, et al. engaged
23

petitioner in what appears to be an unnecessary conversation and when utterances were made doubtless not to their liking, they
ordered the latter to step out of the vehicle, concluding after seeing three (3) empty cases of beer at the trunk of the vehicle that
petitioner was driving under the influence of alcohol. Then petitioner went on with his "plain view search" line. The remark apparently
pissed the police officers off no end as one of them immediately lashed at petitioner and his companions as "mga lasing" (drunk) and to
get out of the vehicle, an incongruous response to an otherwise reasonable plea. Defense witness, Joenilo Pano, graphically described
this particular event in his sinumpaang salaysay, as follows:
x x x matapos kami huminto ay naglapitan sa amin ang mga pulis, nag flash light sa loob ng sasakyan at sa aming mga mukha.

x x x isang pulis ang nag-utos sa aminna kami ay magsi-baba at buksan ang pintuan ng nasabing sasakyan.

x x x dahil doon sinabi ni Kuya sa mga pulis, na hindi pwede iyon at pinigilan niya ako at ang aking kasama kong waitress na bumaba.

x x x iginiit ni Kuya sa mga pulisang salitang "PLAIN VIEW LANG BOSS, PLAIN VIEW LANG" pero iyon ayhindi nila pinansin. Sa halip
as isang pulis ang nagsabi na "MGA LASING KAYO HETO MAY CASE PA KAYO NG BEER".

x x x habang nagpapaliwanag si Kuya, isang pulis ang biglang kumuha ng susi ng sasakyan habang ang isang pulis ang biglang
sumuntok sa bibig ni Kuya, nagbunot ng baril at tinutukan sa ulo si Kuya.

x x x dahil doon ay nagmakaawa ako na wag barilin si Kuya subalit ako rin ay tinutukan ng baril. x x x na matapos suntukin si Kuya
aypinagtulungan siya ng mga pulis na ilabas sa sasakyan at nang mailabas siyaay pinagtulakan siya ng mga pulis sa gilid ng kalsada
habang hawak ang kanilang baril. 24

Pano’s above account ironicallyfinds in a way collaboration from the arresting officers themselves who admitted that they originally had
no intention to search the vehicle in question nor subject its occupants to a body search. The officers wrote in their aforementioned joint
affidavit:

xxxx

That we arrested the suspect, Edmund Sydeco y Siozon x x x for violation of RA 4136 (Driving under the influence of liquor), and
violation of Article 151 of the RPC (Resisting Arrest) x x x committed on or about 3:30A.M., June 11, 2006 along x x x Malate, Manila. x
x x He began to raise his voice and converse with us rudely without considering that we are in uniform, on duty and performing our job.
P/INSP Manuel Aguilar pointed out that we saw him swerving and driving under the influence of liquor that was why we are inviting him
to our police station in which our intention was to make him rest for a moment before he continue to drive. x x x (Emphasis added.)

In fine, at the time of his apprehension, or when he was signaled to stop, to be precise, petitioner has not committed any crime or
suspected of having committed one. "Swerving," as ordinarily understood,refers to a movement wherein a vehicle shifts from a lane to
another or to turn aside from a direct course of action or movement. The act may become punishable when there is a sign indicating
25

that swerving is prohibited or where swerving partakes the nature ofreckless driving, a concept defined under RA 4136, as:

SECTION 48. Reckless Driving. – Noperson shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway recklessly or without reasonable caution
considering the width, traffic, grades, crossing, curvatures, visibility and other conditions of the highway and the conditions of the
atmosphere and weather, or so as to endanger the property or the safetyor rights of any person or so as to cause excessive or
unreasonable damage to the highway.

Swerving is not necessarily indicative of imprudent behavior let alone constitutive of reckless driving. To constitute the offense of
reckless driving, the act must be something more than a mere negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle, and a willful and
wantondisregard of the consequences is required. Nothing in the records indicate that the area was a "no swerving or overtaking
26

zone." Moreover, the swerving incident, if this be the case, occurred at around 3:00 a.m. when the streets are usually clear of moving
vehicles and human traffic, and the danger to life, limb and property to third persons is minimal. When the police officers stopped the
petitioner’s car, they did not issue any ticket for swerving as required under Section 29 of RA 4136. Instead, they inspected the vehicle,
ordered the petitioner and his companions to step down of their pick up and concluded that the petitioner was then drunk mainly
because of the cases of beer found at the trunk of the vehicle. On re-direct examination, SPO4 Bodino testified:

Q: On that particular date, time and place … what exactly prompted you to arrest the accused (sic) the charged in for Viol. of Section
56(f) of R.A. 4136?

A: Noong mag check-up kami, naamoynamin na amoy alak siya at yung sasakyan ay hindi maganda ang takbo.

Q: Now you stated in your affidavit of arrest Mr. Witness that you spotted the vehicle of the accused swerving, is that correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q. Is that also the reason why you apprehended him?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And what happened after Mr. Witness, when you approached the vehicle of the accused?

A: The accused was in a loud voice. He was asking, "Bakit daw siya pinahihinto?"

xxxx

Q: How do you describe the resistance Mr. Witness?

A: He refused to ride with usgoing to the hospital, Your Honor.

xxxx 27

Going over the records, it is fairly clear that what triggered the confrontational stand-off between the police team, on one hand, and
petitioner on the other, was the latter’s refusal to get off of the vehicle for a body and vehicle search juxtaposed by his insistence on a
plain view search only. Petitioner’s twin gestures cannot plausibly be considered as resisting a lawful order. He may have sounded
28
boorish or spoken crudely at that time, but none of this would make him a criminal. It remains to stress that the petitioner has not, when
flagged down, committed a crime or performed an overt act warranting a reasonable inference of criminal activity. He did not try to
avoid the road block established. He came to a full stop when so required to stop. The two key elements of resistance and serious
disobedience punished under Art. 151 of the RPC are: (1) That a person in authority or his agent is engaged in the performance of
official duty or gives a lawful order to the offender; and (2) That the offender resists or seriously disobeys such person or his agent. 29

There can be no quibble that P/Insp. Aguilar and his apprehending team are persons in authority or agents of a person in authority
manning a legal checkpoint. But surely petitioner’s act of exercising one’s right against unreasonable searches to be conducted in the
30

middle of the night cannot, in context, be equated to disobedience let alone resisting a lawful order in contemplation of Art. 151 of the
RPC. As has often been said, albeit expressed differently and under dissimilar circumstances, the vitality of democracy lies not in the
rights it guarantees, but in the courage of the people to assert and use them whenever they are ignored or worse infringed. Moreover,
31

there is, to stress, nothing in RA 4136 that authorized the checkpoint-manning policemen to order petitioner and his companions to get
out of the vehicle for a vehicle and body search. And it bears to emphasize that there was no reasonable suspicion of the occurrence of
a crime that would allow what jurisprudence refers to as a "stop and frisk" action. As SPO4 Bodino no less testified, the only reason
why they asked petitioner to get out of the vehicle was not because he has committed a crime, but because of their intention toinvite
him to Station 9 so he could rest before he resumes driving. But instead of a tactful invitation, the apprehending officers, in an act
indicative of overstepping of their duties, dragged the petitioner out of the vehicle and, in the process of subduing him, pointed a gun
and punched him on the face. None of the police officers, to note, categorically denied the petitioner’s allegation aboutbeing physically
hurt before being brought to the Ospital ng Maynila to be tested for intoxication. What the policemen claimed was that it took the three
(3) of them to subdue the fifty-five year old petitioner. Both actions were done in excess of their authority granted under RA 4136. They
relied on the medical certificate issued by Dr. Balucating attesting that petitioner showed no physical injuries. The medical certificate
was in fact challenged not only because the petitioner insisted at every turn that he was not examined, but also because Dr. Balucating
failed to testify as to its content. Ms. Delos Santos, the medical record custodian ofthe Ospital ng Maynila, testified, but only to attest
that the hospital has a record of the certificate. The trial court, in its decision, merely stated:

At the outset, the records of the case show that the same were not testified upon by the doctor who issued it. Instead, the Records
1âwphi1

Custodian of the Ospital ng Maynila was presented by the Prosecution to testify on the said documents.

However, although the doctor who examined the accused was unable to testify to affirm the contents of the Medical Certificate he
issued (re: that he was found to have an alcoholic breath), this court finds that the observation of herein private complainants as to the
accused’s behavior and condition after the incident was sufficient.

Under Section 50 of Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of evidence:

The opinion of a witness for which proper basis is given, may be received in evidence regarding x x x x

The witness may also testify on his impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a person Under Section 15 of the
Revised Rules on Summary Procedure, "at the trial, the affidavits submitted by the parties shall constitute the direct testimonies of the
witnesses who executed the same." 32

In sum, the MeTC, as echoed by RTC and CA later, did not rely on the medical certificate Dr. Balucating issued on June 12, 2006 as to
petitioner’s intoxicated state, as the former was not able to testify as to its contents, but on the testimony of SPO4Bodino, on the
assumption that he and his fellow police officers were acting in the regular performance of their duties. It cannot be emphasized enough
that smelling of liquor/alcohol and be under the influence of liquor are differing concepts. Corollarily, it is difficult to determine with
legally acceptable certainty whether a person is drunk in contemplation of Sec. 56(f) of RA 4136 penalizing the act of driving under the
influence of alcohol. The legal situation has of course changed with the approval in May 2013 of the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving
Act of 2013 (RA 10586) which also penalizes driving under the influence of alcohol (DUIA), a term defined under its Sec. 3(e) as the
33

"act of operating a motor vehicle while the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level has, after being subjected to a breath analyzer test
reached the level of intoxication as established jointly by the [DOH], the NAPOLCOM] and the [DOTC]. And under Sec. 3(g) of the IRR
of RA 10586, a driver of a private motor vehicle with gross vehicle weight not exceeding 4,500 kilograms who has BAC [blood alcohol
concentration] of 0.05% or higher shall be conclusive proof that said driver isdriving under the influence of alcohol. Viewed from the
prism of RA 10586, petitioner cannot plausibly be convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for this obvious reason: he had not
been tested beyond reasonable doubt, let alone conclusively, for reaching during the period material the threshold level of intoxication
set under the law for DUIA, i.e., a BAC of 0.05% or over. Under Art. 22 of the RPC, penal laws shall be given retroactive insofar asthey
34

are favorable to the accused. Section 19 of RA 10586 expressly modified Sec. 56(f) of RA 4136. Verily, even by force of Art. 22 ofthe
RPC in relation to Sec. 3(e) of RA 10586 alone, petitioner could very well be acquitted for the charge of driving under the influence of
alcohol, even if the supposed inculpatory act occurred in 2006.

Parenthetically, the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila, per its Resolution of November 21, 2006 found, on the strength of another
35

physical examination from the same Ospital ng Maynila conducted by Dr. Devega on the petitioner on the same day,June 12, but later
hour, probable cause for slight physical injuries against P/Insp. Aguilar et al. That finding to be sure tends to indicate that the police
indeed man handled the petitioner and belied, or at least cancelled out, the purported Dr. Balucating’s finding as to petitioner’s true
state.

The Court must underscore at this juncture that the petitioner, after the unfortunate incident, lost no time incommencing the appropriate
criminal charges against the police officers and Dr. Balucating, whomhe accused of issuing Exh. "F" even without examining him. The
element of immediacy in the filing lends credence to petitioner’s profession of innocence, particularly of the charge of disobeying lawful
order or resisting arrest. Certainly not to be overlooked is the fact that petitioner,in so filing his complaint, could not have possibly been
inspired by improper motive, the police officers being complete strangers to him and vice versa. Withal, unless he had a legitimate
grievance, it is difficult to accept the notion that petitioner would expose himself to harm’s way by filing a harassment criminal suit
against policemen.

Conviction must come only after it survives the test of reason. It is thus required that every circumstance favoring one’s innocence be
36

duly taken into account. Given the deviation of the police officers from the standard and usual procedure in dealing with traffic violation
37

by perceived drivers under the influence of alcoholand executing an arrest, the blind reliance and simplistic invocation by the trial court
and the CA on the presumption of regularity in the conduct of police duty is clearly misplaced. As stressed in People v. Ambrosio, the 38

presumption of regularity is merely just that, a presumption disputable by contrary proof and which when challenged by the evidence
cannot be regarded as binding truth. And to be sure, this presumption alone cannot preponderate over the presumption of innocence
that prevails if not overcome by proof that obliterates all doubts as to the offender’s culpability. In the present case, the absence of
conclusive proof being under the influence of liquor while driving coupled with the forceful manner the police yanked petitioner out of his
vehicle argues against or at least cast doubt on the finding of guilt for drunken driving and resisting arrest.

In case of doubt as to the moral certainty of culpability, the balance tips in favor of innocence or at least infavor of the milderform of
criminal liability. This is as it should be. For, it is basic, almost elementary, that the burden of proving the guiltof an accused lies on the
prosecution which must rely on the strength of its evidence and noton the weakness of the defense.

WHEREFORE, in light of all the foregoing, the appealed Decision and Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 33567 are
hereby REVERSED and SET ASI:OE. Petitioner is hereby acquitted of the crimes charged in Criminal Case No. 052527-CN and
Criminal Case No. 052528-CN.

No pronouncement as to costs.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTURO D. BRION*
Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR. BIENVENIDO L. REYES


Associate Justice Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE**
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court's Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Acting Chief Justice

Footnotes

* dditional Member per Raffle dated November 10, 2014.

** Acting Member per Special Order No. 1866 dated November 4, 2014.

1
Penned by Associate Justice Hakim S. Abdulwahid with the concurrence of Associate Justices Michael P. Elbinias and
Leoncia Real-Dimagiba, Annex "A" Petition, rollo, pp. 25-37.

2
Annex "E", Petition, id. at 51-52.

3
Annex "H", Petition, id. at 90-98.

4
Annex "K", Petition, id. at 105-120.

5
Land Transportation and Traffic Code:

SECTION 56. Penalty for Violation. – The following penalties shall be imposed for violations of this Act: x x x

(f) Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor x x x a fine of not less than one thousand pesos or
imprisonment of not less than three nor more than six months, or both, at the discretion of the court.

6
Art. 151. Resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person. — The penalty of arresto
mayorand a fine not exceeding 500 pesos shall be imposed upon any person who not being included in the provisions of the
preceding articles shall resist or seriously disobey any person in authority, or the agents of such person, while engaged in the
performance of official duties; When the disobedience to an agent of a person in authority is not of a serious nature, the
penalty of arresto menor or a fine ranging from 10 to 100 pesos shall be imposed upon the offender.

7
One of the apprehending officers.

8
Investigating Officer.

9
Medical Records Custodian of Ospital ng Maynila.

10
Annex "P" of Petition, rollo, p. 126.

11
Id. at 108.

12
Annex "R", Petition, id. at 129.

13
Annex "T", Petition, id. at 134.

14
Annex "U" Petition, id. at 136-138.

15
SECTION 58. Duty of Clerks of Court. – It is hereby made the duty of clerks of the Court of First Instance, the City Court or
Municipal Court trying traffic violation cases to certify to the Commission the result of any case, whether criminal or civil,
involving violations of any provision of this Act or of other laws and ordinances relating to motor vehicles. Said certificate shall
specifically contain the name of the driver or owner of the vehicle involved, his address, the number of his license and/or of the
certificate or registration of his vehicle, and the date thereof, and the offense of which he was convicted or acquitted.

16
Rollo, p. 90-98, 98.

Sec. 50. Opinion of ordinary witnesses. — The opinion of a witness for which proper basis is given, may be received in
17

evidence regarding —

(a) The identity of a person about whom he has adequate knowledge;

(b) A handwriting with which he has sufficient familiarity; and

(c) The mental sanity of a person with whom he is sufficiently acquainted.

The witness may also testify on his impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a person.

18
Rollo, p. 45.

19
People v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 175929, December 16, 2008, 574 SCRA 78, 90.

20
People v. Laxa, G.R. No. 138501, July 20, 2001, 361 SCRA 622.

Willy Tan y Chua v. People, G.R. No. 148194, April 12, 2002; Olimpio Pangonorom Metro Manila Transit Corporation v.
21

People, G.R. No. 143380. April 11, 2005.

22
Balais v. Abuda, A.M. No. R-565-P, November 27, 1986.

23
G.R. No. 156320, February 14, 2007.

24
Rollo, pp. 139-140.

25
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Ed. 1997.

26
Caminos, Jr. v. People, G.R. No. 147437, May 8, 2009, 587 SCRA 348, 357.

27
Records, p. 491.

28
Abenes v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 156320, February 14, 2007, 515 SCRA 690.

29
Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book II, 18th ed., 2008, p. 154 .

1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article III , Section 2. "The right of the people to be secure in their
30

persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose
shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined
personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."

31
Ynot v. IAC, 148 SCRA 659.

32
Rollo, pp. 110-111.
Sec. 5. Punishable Act.- It shall be unlawful for any person to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol,
33

dangerous drugs and/or similar substances.

34
Art. 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws.- Penal laws shall have retroactive effect in so far as they favor the person guilty of a
felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in rule 5 of article 62 of this Code although at the time of the
publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.

35
Rollo, pp. 167-170.

36
People v. Castro, G.R. No. L-42478 October 4, 1989.

37
People v. Dramayo, G.R. No. L-21325, October 29, 1971, 42 SCRA 59.

38
G.R. No. 135378, April 14, 2004, 427 SCRA 312.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-4164 December 12, 1952

In the matter of the petition of Antonio Infante for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. ANTONIO INFANTE, petitioner-
appellee,
vs.
THE PROVINCIAL WARDEN OF NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, respondent-appellant.

Office of the Assistant Solicitor General Francisco Carreon and Solicitor Meliton G. Soliman for appellant.
Amado B. Parreño for appellee.

TUASON, J.:

This was a petition of habeas corpus filed in the Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental by Antonio Infante, and the petition having
been granted, the Provincial Fiscal has appealed to this Court.

It appears that the petitioner was convicted of murder and sentenced to 17 years, four months and one day of reclusion temporal, which
he recommended to serve on June 21, 1927, and that on March 6, 1939, after serving 15 years, 7 months and 11 days he was granted
a conditional pardon and released from imprisonment, the condition being that "he shall not again violate any of the penal laws of the
Philippines".

On April 25, 1949, Infante was found guilty by the Municipal Court of Bacolod City of driving a jeep without license and sentence to pay
a fine of P10 with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On July 13, 1950, "by virtue of the authority conferred upon His
Excellency, the President, by section 64 (i) of the Revised Administrative Code", the Executive Secretary ordered Infante re-arrested
and re-committed to the custody of the Director of Prisons, Muntinlupa, Rizal, for breach of the condition of the aforesaid pardon. lawphil.net

It was the main contention of the petitioner that section 64 (i) of the Revised Administrative Code upon which he was ordered re-
incarcerated, had been abrogated, and he was sustained by the court below.

Since this appeal was taken, this Court has handed down a decision (Sales vs. Director of Prisons * 48 Off. Gaz., 560) in which these
ruling were laid down:

The Revised Penal Code, which was approved on December 8, 1930, contains a repealing clause (article 367), which
expressly repeals among other acts sections 102, 2670, 2671, and 2672 of the Administrative Code. It does not repeal section
64 (i) above quoted. On the contrary, Act No. 4103, the Indeterminate Sentence Law, which is subsequent to the Revised
Penal Code, in its section 9 expressly preserves the authority conferred upon the President by section 64 (i) of the Revised
Administrative Code.

The legislative intent is clear, therefore, to preserve the power of the President to authorize the arrest and reincarceration of
any person who violates the condition or conditions of his pardon notwithstanding the enactment of article 159 of the Revised
Penal Code. In this connection, we observed that section 64 (i) of the Administrative Code and article 159 of the Revised
Penal Code are but a reiteration of 3?3 Acts Nos. 1524 and 1561, under which a violator of a conditional pardon was liable to
suffer and to serve the unexpired portion of the original sentence.

We are of the opinion that article 159 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes violation of a conditional pardon as an
offense, and the power vested in the President by section 64 (i) of the Revised Administrative Code to authorize the
recommitment to prison of a violator of a conditional pardon to serve the unexpired portion of his original sentence, can stand
together and that the proceeding under one provision does not necessarily preclude action under the other. . . .

The second ground of the petition was that the remitted penalty for which the petitioner had been recommitted to jail — one year and 11
days — had prescribed. This contention was also sustained in the appealed decision. Said the Court:
Segun el articulo 92 del Codigo Penal Revisado, la pena de un (1) año y once (11) dias que corresponde a la pena de prision
correccional, prescribe a los diez (10) años.

Por manera que, habiendo transcurrido mas de diez (10) años la responsabilidad criminal del solicitante proviniente de la
infraccion de su indulto bajo condicion, ha prescrito con exceso.

The contention is not well taken. According to article 93 of the Revised Penal Code the period of prescription of penalties commences
to run from the date when the culprit should evade the service of his sentence. It is evident from this provision that evasion of the
sentence is an essential element of prescription. There had been no such evasion in this case. Even if there had been one and
prescription were to be applied, its basis would have to be the evasion of the unserved sentence, and the computation could not have
started earlier than the date of the order for the prisoner's rearrest.

We think, however, that the condition of the pardon which the prisoner was charged with having breached was no longer operative
when he committed a violation of the Motor Vehicle Law.

Pardon is an act of grace, and there is general agreement that limitations upon its operation should be strictly construed (46 C.J. 1202);
so that, where a conditional pardon is susceptible of more than one interpretation, it is to be construed most favorably to the grantee.
(39 Am. Jur., 564) Thus, in Huff vs. Dyer, 40 Ohio C.C. 595, 5. L R A, N S, Note 1064), it was held that the duration of the conditions
subsequent, annexed to a pardon, would be limited to the period of the prisoner's sentence unless an intention to extend it beyond that
time was manifest from the nature of the condition or the language in which it was imposed. In that case, the prisoner was discharged
on habeas corpus because the term of the pardon in question did not, in the opinion of the court, imply that it was contemplated to have
the condition operated beyond the term of his sentence. The herein petitioner's pardon, it will be noted, does not state the time within
which the conditions thereof were to be performed or observed. In adopting, which we hereby do, the rule of strict construction, we take
into account, besides the benevolent nature of the pardon, the fact that the general run out prisoners are unlettered or at least
unfamiliar with the intricacies and legal implications of conditions subsequent imposed in a pardon.

There are courts which have gone so far as to hold, not without plausible argument, that no conditions can be attached to a pardon that
are to extend after the expiration of the term for which the prisoner was sentence, although this view is not shared by the weight of
authority. (39 Am., Jur. 564, 567; 46 C.J. 1201.)

Unless the petitioner's pardon be construed as above suggested, the same, instead of an act of mercy, would become an act of
oppression and injustice. We can not believe that in exchange for the remission of a small fraction of the prisoner's penalty it was in the
Executive's mind to keep hanging over his (prisoner's) head during the rest of his life the threat of recommitment and/or prosecution for
any slight misdemeanor such as that which gave rise to the order under consideration. 1awphil.net

There is another angle which militates in favor of a strict construction in the case at bar. Although the penalty remitted has not, in strict
law, prescribed, reimprisonment of the petitioner for the remainder of his sentence, more than ten years after he was pardoned, would
be repugnant to the weight of reason and the spirit and genius of our penal laws. If a prisoner who has escaped and has given the
authorities trouble and caused the State additional expense in the process of recapturing him is granted immunity from punishment
after a period of hiding, there is at least as much justification for extending this liberality through strict construction of the pardon to one
who, for the same period, has lived and comported as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen.

Not improper to consider in this connection is the circumstance that the prisoner's general conduct during his long confinement had
been "excellent", which had merited his classification as a trustee or penal colonist, and that his release before the complete
extinguishment of his sentence could have been intended as a reward for his past exemplary behavior with little or no thought of
exacting any return from him in the form of restraint from law violations, for which, after all, there were independent and ample
punishments. The judgment of the lower court is affirmed, without costs.

Pablo and Labrador, JJ., concur.

Separate Opinions

PARAS, C.J., concurring:

I concur in the result.

In so far, however, as the decision in the case of Sales vs. Director of Prisons (48 Off. Gaz., 576) is relied upon I wish to make
reference to my dissent in said decision and to the dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Feria in which I concurred. I may emphasize that
section 64 (i) of the Revised Administrative Code and article 159 of the Revised Penal Code cannot stand and be enforced together, as
the limit of imprisonment under section 64 (i) of the Revised Administrative Code and the penalty under Article 159 of the Revised
Penal Code are not the same. Even if it be assumed that the enforcement of the two legal provisions may bring about the same result in
some cases, the effect would be to penalize twice a single offense, namely, the violation of a conditional pardon, and this is repulsive to
elementary rules of criminal law.

Feria, Jugo, and Bautista Angelo, JJ., concur in the result.

MONTEMAYOR, J., concurring and dissenting:


Petitioner herein was sentenced to seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal for murder. On March
6, 1939 after serving fifteen (15) years, seven (7) months and eleven (11) days of his sentence, he was granted a conditional pardon
and released from imprisonment. The period of the sentence remaining to be served was one (1) year and eleven (11) days. The
condition of his pardon was that "he shall not again violate any of the penal laws of the Philippines." On April 25, 1949, petitioner was
convicted of a violation of the Revised Motor Vehicle Law for driving a jeep without a license and was sentenced to pay a fine of P10,
with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency. On July 13, 1950, the Executive Secretary ordered the re-arrest and recommitment
of petitioner for violation of the conditions of his pardon. He was arrested and he sued this writ of habeas corpus.

I fully concur in the majority opinion insofar as it reaffirms the doctrine laid down in the case of Sales vs. Director of Prisons, (48 Off.
Gaz., 576), which holds that section 64 (i) of the Revised Administrative Code is still in force, and that for any violation of a conditional
pardon, the President is authorized to order the arrest and re-commitment of said violator to serve the unexpired portion of his
sentence. I also agree, with the majority that the penalty herein has not prescribed for the reason that there has been no evasion of
sentence upon which the principle of prescription of penalty is based. However, I cannot agree with the majority insofar as they hold
that when petitioner committed a violation of the Revised Motor Vehicle Law, the condition of his pardon was no longer operative. It is
the theory and opinion of the majority that the duration or life of the conditions imposed in the pardon is limited to the period of the
prisoner's sentence, specially when the pardon does not designate the time for the observance of the condition. This is diametrically
opposed to the great weight of authority that the conditions of a conditional pardon are to last and endure during the lifetime of the
pardonee. When no limit is mentioned in the pardon it is to be presumed that it is indefinite and lasts until the prisoner pardoned dies.

Limitations as to Time of Performance. — A pardon may, as one of its restrictions and limitations, designate the time for the
observance of its conditions, but if it does not, it is generally held that the time of performance of conditions subsequent is
limited only by the life of the convict. (39 Am. Jur., Pardon, etc., Sec. 71, p. 564; emphasis mine.)

SEC. 74. Suspension of Running of Sentence. — A sentence of imprisonment for a criminal act is satisfied only by the death
or by some legal authority; if, from any cause, the time elapses without the imprisonment being endured, the sentence will still
be a valid, subsisting, unexecuted one. In accordance with this principles, it is well-settled that where a prisoner is conditionally
pardoned, upon breach of the condition the time he was at liberty under the pardon is not to be considered as time served on
the original sentence, and he may be compelled to serve out the term which remained unserved at the time the pardon was
granted and accepted. By breach or non-performance of the conditions the pardon becomes void and the status of the
prisoner is the same as it was before the pardon was granted; or, as is sometimes said, the position of the prisoner on a
violation of the conditions of his pardon is similar to that of an escaped convict. He cannot complain of the interruption of the
execution of the sentence during the time he enjoyed his liberty, for it was secured by him by his acceptance of the conditional
pardon.

A condition in a pardon that the convict shall be required to serve out the unserved portion of the term of his original sentence
if he violates the terms of the pardon does not terminate with the expiration of the original term of sentence. Accordingly, the
rule is laid down by many courts that a convict who has violated the conditions of a pardon may be compelled to serve out the
unexpected term of his original sentence, even though the breach occurred after the date upon which his sentence as fixed by
the court which sentenced him would have expired. (Ibid, pp. 566-567; Emphasis mine).

The principle enunciated in the above quotations has been cited with favor and followed by this court in the following cases:

In case of People vs. Sanares, 62 Phil. 825, the defendant therein, convicted of theft and sentenced to six (6) years and one (1) day
imprisonment, began serving his sentence on July 9, 1924. He was conditionally pardoned and released on March 1, 1927. The period
of the penalty remitted was three (3) years, seven (7) months and eight (8) days. He committed estafa on February 5, 1935, that is to
say, several years after the expiration of the original sentence or the period of the sentence not served by reason of the pardon. This
court said that prosecution under article 159 of the Revised Penal code was in order. That means that he had violated the condition of
the pardon despite the expiration of the period of his sentence. In other words, the conditions of the pardon were still in effect despite
said expiration of the period.

The case of Tesoro vs. Director of Prisons, 68 Phil., 154, is also applicable. The petitioner therein was convicted of falsification of a
public document and sentenced to three (3) years, six (6) months and twenty-one (21) days, which sentence was to expire on October
28, 1937. On November 14, 1935, he was paroled by the then Governor General. One of the conditions imposed was that he will not
commit any other crime. The petitioner contended that the alleged act of adultery imputed to him were committed and took place not
before but after the expiration of his original sentence and so he was no longer liable for violation of his pardon. This court held that
even if the adultery were committed after said expiration, still he had violated his pardon, meaning to say, that the conditions of his
pardon were still in effect and were operative even beyond and after the expiration of his original sentence.

The following are additional authorities:

On forfeiture of a pardon by breach of the conditions, a convict becomes liable to serve that part which he has already served
of the term of imprisonment for which he was sentenced, although the original term has long since expired. (State vs. Barnes,
6 L.R.A., 743; 10 S.E., 611; Emphasis mine.)

The expiration of the term for which a convict was sentenced does not make inoperative a provision in a conditional pardon,
that, if he is subsequently convicted of crime, he shall serve the unexpired term in addition to that imposed by the new
sentence; but he may be compelled to serve out such unexpired term, although his subsequent conviction does not occur
until after the expiration of the term of the original sentence." (Re Kelly, 20 L.R.A. [N.S.] 337; 155 Cal., 39; 99 Pac., 368;
Emphasis mine.)

When a prisoner who has been at large on a conditional pardon is recommitted to serve the remainder of his term, the time he
has been so at large is not to be treated as time served on his sentence. (Ex parteMcKenna, 79 Vt. 34; 64 Atl. 77.) It follows
that a defendant sentenced to two years imprisonment and pardoned, may six years later be recommended for the breach of
the condition of his pardon. (State vs. Barnes, 32 S.C., 14; 10; S.E., 611; 6 L.R.A. 743; Vol. I, Bishops Criminal Law, Sec. 915
[5], p. 660; Emphasis mine.)

But there is really no need for all this authorities above-cited and quoted because the majority opinion itself admits that its view is
opposed to the weight of authority. What is it then that impels the majority to brave and go against the current of the great weight of
authority, and maintain that the conditions imposed in a conditional pardon that the pardonee will not again violate any penal laws of the
Philippines, dies with the expiration of the period of the original sentence, or with the expiration of the period of his sentence which
remain unserved which in the present case, was one year and eleven days? The only reason and the whole argument brought forth to
sustain the opinion is that if we are to hold otherwise, the pardon "instead of an act of mercy, would then be an act of oppression and
injustice" because in exchange for the remission of a small fraction of the prisoner's penalty, the Chief Executive would "keep hanging
over his (prisoner's) head during the rest of his life the threat of recommitment and/or prosecution for any slight misdemeanor such as
that which gave rise to the order under consideration." I emphatically dissent from this view.

To me, the concern of the majority about the threat of recommitment being used by the Chief Executive as the sword of Damocles
hanging over petitioner's head for the rest of his life, is without foundation. The threat, if there be one, is not being utilized by a heartless
and vindictive Chief Executive to harass and annoy a pardonee and make his existence miserable, but it is rather an alternative,
undesirable and unpleasant and to be avoided, which tends to keep the pardoned convict on the straight and narrow path. The prospect
of avoiding serving his remitted sentence and his employment of continued liberty and freedom from person is rather an incentive that
serves to impel and lead a pardonee to live within the law like his fellowmen. But even if we regard recommitment to jail as a continuous
threat hanging over the pardonee's head, are we not all, for that matter living under the continuous threat of prosecution for violation of
law. To all of us from the age of criminal responsibility (9 to 15 years depending on discernment) down to the grave, the threat of
punishment or suffering for violation of the penal laws or the 3p3 law of Nature, is like the sword of Damocles, ever hanging over our
heads. Commit an offense whether deliberate or thru negligence, and the sword of prosecution descends upon you; disobey the laws of
nature such as that of gravitation and you may have a fall, bad or even fatal; defy the elements and you may perish in them. The threat
and prospect in every case is real and ever present, and yet we never think of regarding that threat as oppressive or unjust. We take it
as a matter of course, and as an inevitable part or element of human institutions and of the scheme of the universe.

When a convict accepts a pardon with conditions attached, he does so with his eyes open and he knows the consequences. As a rule,
the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. That is the reason conditional pardons are almost invariably accepted. Afterwards when
the pardonee fails to live up to the conditions of the pardon, it ill becomes him to whimper and complain and say that the conditions
were unjust and oppressive, just because the portion of his sentence remaining to be served is relatively short, and the offense
committed by him in violation of his pardon is not serious.

I am afraid that the majority has allowed itself to be unduly impressed and influenced by what I regard a misplaced sympathy for the
herein offender. But we should not interpret the law in accordance with the status of the parties and the effect of the operation of the law
on them. Where the law makes no distinction we should not distinguish. I confess that I see no justice, much less, oppression in
construing the conditions of a pardon that the pardonee will not again violate any penal laws of the Philippines, as operative during his
lifetime. If he commits such a violation, he is not penalized and punished for it from the standpoint of pardoning power. He is merely
made to serve out the remaining period of his sentence and nothing more. In other words, having shown that contrary to his promise or
undertaking, he could not be law-abiding citizen, the law cancels and compels him to continue serving his sentence. It is not a penalty
but rather a withdrawal or cancellation of the grant of freedom to him. In this connection, the majority has apparently overlooked the
contractual phase of a conditional pardon.

It has often been held that a conditional pardon, is a form and substance, a contract between the executive power of the state
and the person to whom it is granted." (39 Am Jur. 559)

A conditional pardon delivered and accepted has been said to constitute a contract between the sovereign power or the
executive and the criminal that the former will release the latter upon compliance with the conditions. (46 C.J., 1202)

The convict is given the pardon and is released from confinement and his sentence is suspended in return for a promise and an
undertaking that he would behave properly and not commit any violation of law. If to him that condition is too burdensome, if he believes
that because of criminal tendencies and inclinations he cannot keep away from law violations, he need not accept the offer of pardon.
There is no power on earth that can compel him to accept the pardon against his will. As Chief Justice Marshall years ago said in the
case of United States vs. George Wilson 7 Peters, 150; 8 Law ed., 640, a "pardon may be rejected by the person to whom it is
tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it to him."

The fact that a condition in a pardon may be burdensome or objectionable does not vitiate the pardon. Speaking of the condition in a
pardon Chief Justice Marshall in the same case said that " a pardon may be conditional, and the condition may be more objectionable
than the punishment inflicted by the judgment." But as already stated, if the prospective pardonee feels that the condition is
objectionable or burdensome, he need not accept the pardon.

A condition that the pardonee will not violate any penal law of the Philippines during his lifetime is legal.

Other conditions—. . . It is a valid condition that the grantee shall not be convicted of a violation of any of the criminal laws of
the state, . . . . (39 Am. Jur., 563.)

Again, a pardon may be granted upon the condition that the convict . . .shall be and remain a law-abiding citizen. (46 C.J.,
1201.)

And as to being burdensome or oppressive, personally, I firmly believe that suvh a condition is not burdensome and, clearly, not
oppressive. By far, the great majority of citizens go through life without committing any penal offense. Thousands upon thousands, even
millions of our citizens, especially in the provinces and in rural communities, have never entered the portals of a court of justice to be
arraigned and tried, much less have been behind prison bars. For every citizen like petitioner herein who commits a violation of law and
is prosecuted therefor, there are thousands of his fellow citizens who are law-abiding and do not commit such violation.

The only legal limitation to the condition that may be imposed in a conditional pardon is that it should not be illegal, immoral or
impossible of performance. I do not beleive that there is any illegality, immorality or impossibility of performance in the condition that the
pardonee shall not violate any penal laws of the Philippines.

Nature of condition.—The condition may be of any nature so long as it is not illegal, immoral, or impossible of performance.
(46 C.J., 1200.)
Time during which condition is to be performed.— . . .; and by the weight of authority a pardon is not illegal or impossible of
performance because its conditions require observance for a period of time extendingbeyond that in which the sentence
should have been served. (Ibid., p. 1201; Emphasis mine.)

A condition of a parddon that requires reimprisonment for the remainder of the original sentence of imprisonment, after the
expiration of the particular period of time fixed by the court within which the sentence imposed should be executed, is valid. It
can not be said to be immoral, or impossible of performance during the life of the petitioner; nor can it be illegal, since the
particular period of time within which the sentence is to be suffered by the convict as specified in the sentence is not a part of
the legal sentence, except so far as it fixes the quantum of time that he must suffer such penalty, and the condition imposed is
not forbidden and does not increase the punishment imposed by the court in its sentence. (39 Am. Jur., 564; Emphasis mine.)

Furthermore, the Chief Executive in issuing a conditional pardon and in imposing the conditions in it does so in the exercise of his
constitutional powers. The ChiefExecutive is vested with his authority not only by law (Sec. 64 [i], Revised Administrative Code), but by
the very Constitution (Art. VII, Sec. 10 [6], granting him the power to attach such restrictions and limitations as he may deem proper to
impose. In interpreting this constitutional power of the Chief Executive we should not without good ground or valid reason brush aside
and hold invalid a condition imposed by the Chief Executive on a conditional pardon on the ground that it is oppressive and unjust,
specially if to do so, we defy and ignore the weight of legal jurisprudence.

It is argued in the majority opinion that although the penalty remitted has not prescribed, his reimprisonment more than ten years after
he was pardoned would be repugnant to and against the spirit and genius of our penal laws, and by a process which it terms "strict
construction", it finally accords to him the benefits of prescription. That, to me, is perplexing. The maajority in a solemn holding and
declaration says that prescription of the penalty does not apply in the present case; then in the next breath it declaares tha it should
apply and so actually applies it. Where do we or the majority stand? The law of prescription of penalties, either is applicable or is not
applicable. There is no middle ground. If it is not appliocable, we may not apply it. If the law of prescription of penalties should be
amended so as to cover cases like the present under consideration, such amendment falls within the exclusive domain of the
Legislature. We cannot and should not undetake to do it, otherwise we would be treading on the controversial and dubious ground of
judicial legislation.

The reason given in the majority opinion for extending the benefits of prescription of penalties to the petitioner although according to the
same majority prescription is inapplicable, is contained in the following quotation of its opinion:

If a prisoner who has escaped and has given the authorities trouble and caused the State additional expense in the process of
recapturing him is granted immunity from punishment after a period of hiding, there is at least as much justification for
extending this liberality through strict construction of the pardon to one who, for the same period, has lived and comported as a
peaceful and law-abiding citizen.

This point of view fails to appreciate the theory and the reason behind the law of prescription of penalties. If a convict under
confinement, at the risk of being killed succeeds in breaking jail and also succeeds in evading rearrest for a certain period of time which
by no means is short, despite the efforts of all the instrumentalities of the Government including sometimes the setting of a prize or
reward on his head, which thereby enlists the aid of the citizenry, the law calls off the search for him, and condones the penalty. But
during that period of prescription the escaped convict lives a life of a hunted animal, hiding mostly in the mountains and forests in
constant mortal fear of being caught. His life far from being happy, comfortable and peaceful, is reduced to a mere existence filled with
fear, discomfort, loneliness and misery. As the distinguished penal law commentator Viada said, the convict who evades sentence is
sometimes sufficiently punished by his voluntary and self-imposed banishment, and at times voluntary exile is more grievous than the
sentence he was trying to avoid. (Viada y Villasca, Codigo Penal, Vol. III, p. 41, 5th ed.) And all the time he has to utilize every
ingenuity and means to outwit the Government agencies bent on recapturing him. For all this, the government extends to him a sort of
condonation or amnesty.

But the case of a pardonee is widely different, he never risked life or limb to secure his freedom. He never escaped from prison. He was
given his freedom as it were on a silver platter, and thereafter like his fellow citizens lives in peace and comfort. He rejoins his family
and engage in business and enjoys all that life has to offer. The only condition that the Chief Executive requires of him, which condition
he has voluntarily accepted is that he conducts himself and behaves like his fellow citizens, live in peace and abide by the law. To me,
there is absolutely no parity or comparison between him and an escaped convict. Naturally, the reasons for extending the benefits of
prescription of the penalty to an escaped convict do not obtain in the case of petitioner.

Finally, to bolster the opinion of the majority it is claimed that while in jail, petitioner had observed good conduct and was classified as
trustee or penal colonist, and that his release before extinguishing his sentence could have been intended as a reward for his
exemplary conduct. I believe that it is hardly relevant to bring in a pardonee's good behavior while in jail in order to mitigate, even to
condone his violation of the condition of his pardon. For good conduct while in prison, a prisoner is duly and amply rewarded with time
allowance for good conduct, resulting in a substantial reduction of sentence, all according to law (Art. 97, Rev. Penal Code.)

If the conditional pardon issued to the petitioner were intended and meant only as a reward "with little or no thought of exacting any
return from him in the form of restraint from law violations," as claimed in the majority opinion, then the pardon should have been made
absolute and unconditional. But the fact is that it imposed a condition, which the Chief Executive expected to be complied with as
shown by the action of the Office of the Chief Executive in having him rearrested for violation of the pardon. Incidentally, our very Penal
Code (Art. 95) provides that "any person who has been granted a conditional pardon shall incur the obligation of complying strictly with
the conditions imposed, otherwise his non-compliance with any of the conditions specified shall result in the revocation of the pardon . .
. ." This idea of strict compliance with the obligation assumed by a pardonee, embodied in Article 95 is wholly at variance with the claim
of the majority that a conditional pardon is a mere reward with no thought on the part of the Government of exacting fulfillment of the
obligations imposed. For the foregoing reasons, I dissent from the majority opinion insofar as it affirms the decision appealed from.

Bengzon and Padilla, JJ., concur.

Footnotes
* 87 Phil., 492.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-1960 November 26, 1948

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
FLORENTINO ABILONG, defendant-appellant.

Carlos Perfecto for appellant.


Assistant Solicitor General Ruperto Kapunan, Jr., and Solicitor Manuel Tomacruz for appellee.

MONTEMAYOR, J.:

Florentino Abilong was charged in the Court of First Instance of Manila with evasion of service of sentence under the following
information:

That on or about the 17th day of September, 1947, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, being then a convict
sentenced and ordered to serve two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of destierro during which he should not enter
any place within the radius of 100 kilometers from the City of Manila, by virtue of final judgment rendered by the municipal
court on April 5, 1946, in criminal case No. B-4795 for attempted robbery, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
evade the service of said sentence by going beyond the limits made against him and commit vagrancy.

Contrary to law.

Upon arraignment he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, with
the accessory penalties of the law and to pay the costs. He is appealing from that decision with the following assignment of error:

1. The lower court erred in imposing a penalty on the accused under article 157 of the Revised Penal Code, which does not
cover evasion of service of "destierro."

Counsel for the appellant contends that a person like the accused evading a sentence of destierro is not criminally liable under the
provisions of the Revised Penal Code, particularly article 157 of the said Code for the reason that said article 157 refers only to persons
who are imprisoned in a penal institution and completely deprived of their liberty. He bases his contention on the word "imprisonment"
used in the English text of said article which in part reads as follows:

Evasion of service of sentence. — The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed
upon any convict who shall evade service of his sentence by escaping during the term of his imprisonment by reason of final
judgment.

The Solicitor General in his brief says that had the original text of the Revised Penal Code been in the English language, then the
theory of the appellant could be uphold. However, it is the Spanish text that is controlling in case of doubt. The Spanish text of article
157 in part reads thus:

ART. 157. Quebrantamiento de sentencia. — Sera castigado con prision correccional en sus grados medio y maximo el
sentenciado que quebrantare su condena, fugandose mientras estuviere sufriendo privacion de libertad por sentencia firme; . .
..

We agree with the Solicitor General that inasmuch as the Revised Penal Code was originally approved and enacted in Spanish, the
Spanish text governs (People vs. Manaba, 58 Phil., 665, 668). It is clear that the word "imprisonment" used in the English text is a
wrong or erroneous translation of the phrase "sufriendo privacion de libertad" used in the Spanish text. It is equally clear that although
the Solicitor General impliedly admits destierro as not constituting imprisonment, it is a deprivation of liberty, though partial, in the sense
that as in the present case, the appellant by his sentence of destierro was deprived of the liberty to enter the City of Manila. This view
has been adopted in the case of People vs. Samonte, No. 36559 (July 26, 1932; 57 Phil., 968) wherein this Court held, as quoted in the
brief of the Solicitor General that "it is clear that a person under sentence of destierro is suffering deprivation of his liberty and escapes
from the restrictions of the penalty when he enters the prohibited area." Said ruling in that case was ratified by this Court, though,
indirectly in the case of People vs. Jose de Jesus, (45 Off. Gaz. Supp. to No. 9, p. 370)1, where it was held that one evades the service
of his sentence of destierro when he enters the prohibited area specified in the judgment of conviction, and he cannot invoke the
provisions of the Indeterminate Sentence Law which provides that its provisions do not apply to those who shall have escaped from
confinement or evaded sentence.

In conclusion we find and hold that the appellant is guilty of evasion of service of sentence under article 157 of the Revised Penal Code
(Spanish text), in that during the period of his sentence of destierro by virtue of final judgment wherein he was prohibited from entering
the City of Manila, he entered said City.

Finding no reversible error in the decision appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed with costs against the appellant. So ordered.

Moran, C. J., Paras, Feria, Pablo, Bengzon and Tuason, JJ., concur.
Separate Opinions

PERFECTO, J., dissenting:

The legal question raised in this case is whether or not appellant, for having violated his judgment of destierro rendered by the
Municipal Court of Manila, can be sentenced under article 157 of the Revised Penal Code which reads as follows:

Evasion of service of sentence. — The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods shall be imposed
upon any convict who shall evade service of his sentence by escaping during the term of his imprisonment by reason of final
judgment. However, if such evasion or escape shall have taken place by means of unlawful entry, by breaking doors, windows,
gates, walls, roofs, or floors, or by using picklocks, false keys, disguise, deceit, violence or intimidation, or through connivance
with other convicts or employees of the penal institution, the penalty shall be prision correccional in its maximum period.

Appellant invokes in his favor the negative opinion of author Guillermo Guevara (Revised Penal Code, 1946, p. 322). This negative
position is supported by another author, Ambrosio Padilla (Revised Penal Code annotated, p. 474).

The prosecution invokes the decision of this Court in People vs. De Jesus, L-1411,2promulgated April 16, 1948, but said decision has
no application because in said case the legal question involved in the case at bar was not raised. The Supreme Court did not consider
the question of interpretation of the wording of article 157. Undoubtedly, there was occasion for considering the question, but the Court
nevertheless failed to do so. This failure to see the question, at the time, is only an evidence that the tribunal is composed of human
beings for whom infallibility is beyond reach.

The prosecution maintains that appellant's contention, supported by two authors who have considered the question, although tenable
under the English text of article 157, is not so under the Spanish text, which is the one controlling because the Revised Penal Code was
originally enacted by the Legislature in Spanish.

There is no quarrel, therefore, that under the above quoted English text, the appellant is entitled to acquittal. The question now is
whether or not the Spanish text conveys a thing different from that which can be read in the English text. The Spanish text reads as
follows:

ART. 157. Quebrantamiento de sentencia. — Sera castigado con prision correccional en sus grados medio y maximo el
sentenciado que quebrantare su condena, fugandose mientras estuviere sufriendo privacion de libertad por sentencia firme;
pero si la evasion o fuga se hubiere llevado a efecto con escalamiento, fractura de puertas, ventanas, verjas, paredes, techos
o suelos, o empleado ganzuas, llaves falsas, disfraz, engano, violencia o intimidacion, o poniendose de acuerdo con otros
sentenciados o dependientes del establecimiento donde a hallare recluido la pena sera prision correccional en su grado
maximo.

The question boils down to the words "fugandose mientras estuviere sufriendo privacion de libertad por sentencia firme," which are
translated into English "by escaping during the term of his imprisonment by reason of final judgment." The prosecution contends that
the words "privacion de libertad" in the Spanish text is not the same as the word "imprisonment" in the English text, and that while
"imprisonment" cannot include destierro, "privacion de libertad" may include it.

The reason is, however, the result of a partial point of view because it obliterates the grammatical, logical, ideological function of the
words "fugandose" and "by escaping" in the Spanish and English texts, respectively. There should not be any question that, whatever
meaning we may want to give to the words "privacion de libertad," it has to be conditioned by the verb "fugandose," (by escaping).
"Privacion de libertad" cannot be considered independently of "fugandose."

There seems to be no question that the Spanish "fugandose" is correctly translated into the English "by escaping." Now, is there any
sense in escaping from destierro or banishment, where there is no enclosure binding the hypothetical fugitive? "Fugandose" is one of
the forms of the Spanish verb "fugar," to escape. The specific idea of "evasion" or "escape" is reiterated by the use of said words after
the semi-colon in the Spanish text and after the first period in the English text. Either the verb "to escape" or the substantive noun
"escape" essentially pre-supposes some kind of imprisonment or confinement, except figuratively, and Article 157 does not talk in
metaphors or parables.

"To escape" means "to get away, as by flight or other conscious effort; to break away, get free, or get clear, from or out of detention,
danger, discomfort, or the like; as to escape from prison. To issue from confinement or enclosure of any sort; as gas escapes from the
mains." (Webster's New International Dictionary.)

"Escape" means "act of escaping, or fact or having escaped; evasion of or deliverance from injury or any evil; also the means of
escape. The unlawful departure of a prisoner from the limits of his custody. When the prisoner gets out of prison and unlawfully regains
his liberty, it is an actual escape." (Webster's New International Dictionary.)

"Evasion" means "escape." (Webster's New International Dictionary.) .

The "destierro" imposed on appellant banished him from Manila alone, and he was free to stay in all the remaining parts of the country,
and to go and stay in any part of the globe outside the country. With freedom to move all over the world, it is farfetched to allege that he
is in any confinement from which he could escape.

The words "privacion de libertad" have been correctly translated into the English "imprisonment," which gives the idea exactly conveyed
by "privacion de libertad" in the Spanish text. Undoubtedly, the drafters of the latter could have had used a more precise Spanish word,
but the literary error cannot be taken as a pretext to give to the less precise words a broader meaning than is usually given to them.

"Privacion de libertad," literally meaning "deprivation of liberty or freedom," has always been used by jurist using the Spanish language
to mean "imprisonment." They have never given them the unbounded philosophical scope that would lead to irretrievable absurdities.

Under that unlimited scope, no single individual in the more than two billion inhabitants of the world can be considered free, as the
freest citizen of the freest country is subject to many limitations or deprivations of liberty. Under the prosecution's theory, should an
accused, sentenced to pay a fine of one peso, evade the payment of it, because the fine deprives him of liberty to dispose of his one
peso, he will be liable to be punished under article 157 of the Revised Penal Code to imprisonment of from more that two years to six
years. The iniquity and cruelty of such situation are too glaring and violent to be entertained for a moment under our constitutional
framework.

There is no gainsaying the proposition that to allow the violation of a sentence of destierro without punishment is undesirable, but even
without applying article 157 of the Revised Penal Code, the act of the appellant cannot remain unpunished, because his violation of the
sentence of destierro may be punished as contempt of court, for which imprisonment up to six months is provided.

It is deplorable that article 157 should not provide for a situation presented in this case, but the gap cannot be filled by this Court without
encroaching upon the legislative powers of Congress.

Perhaps it is better that evasions of sentence be punished, as provided by the old Penal Code, by an increased in the evaded penalty.
This will be more reasonable that the penalties provided by article 157, which appear to be disproportionate and arbitrary, because they
place on equal footing the evader of a sentence of one day of imprisonment and a life-termer, one who commits an insignificant offense
and one who perpetrates the most heinous crime. At any rate, this is a problem for Congress to solve.

The appealed decision should be set aside.

BRIONES, J., concurring:

I concur in the foregoing dissenting opinion, because evidently the word "fugandose" in the Spanish text refers to imprisonment, not
to destierro.

Footnotes

1 80 Phil., 746.

2 80 Phil., 746.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation


THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. Nos. 174730-37, February 09 : 2011]

ROSALIO S. GALEOS, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

[G.R. NOS. 174845-52]

PAULINO S. ONG, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

DECISION

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

The consolidated petitions at bar seek to reverse and set aside the Decision [1] promulgated on August 18, 2005 by the Sandiganbayan convicting
petitioners Paulino S. Ong (Ong) of eight counts and Rosalio S. Galeos (Galeos) of four counts of falsification of public documents under Article 171,
paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

The facts are as follows:

Ong was appointed Officer-in-Charge (OIC)-Mayor of the Municipality of Naga, Cebu on April 16, 1986. He was elected Mayor of the same municipality
in 1988 and served as such until 1998.[2]

On June 1, 1994, Ong extended permanent appointments to Galeos and Federico T. Rivera (Rivera) for the positions of Construction and Maintenance
Man and Plumber I, respectively, in the Office of the Municipal Engineer. [3] Prior to their permanent appointment, Galeos and Rivera were casual
employees of the municipal government.

In their individual Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) for the year 1993, Galeos answered "No" to the question: "To the best of your
knowledge, are you related within the fourth degree of consanguinity or of affinity to anyone working in the government?" while Rivera indicated "n/a"
on the space for the list of the names of relatives referred to in the said query. [4] The boxes for "Yes" and "No" to the said query were left in blank by
Galeos in his 1994 and 1995 SALN.[5] Rivera in his 1995 SALN answered "No" to the question on relatives in government. [6] In their 1996 SALN, both
Galeos and Rivera also did not fill up the boxes indicating their answers to the same query. [7] Ong's signature appears in all the foregoing documents as
the person who administered the oath when Galeos and Rivera executed the foregoing documents.

In a letter-certification dated June 1, 1994 addressed to Ms. Benita O. Santos, Regional Director, Civil Service Commission (CSC), Regional Office 7,
Cebu City, it was attested that:

This is to certify that pursuant to the provisions of R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, all restrictions/requirements
relative to creation of positions, hiring and issuance of appointments, Section 325 on the limitations for personal services in the total/supplemental
appropriation of a local government unit; salary rates; abolition and creation of positions, etc.; Section 76, organizational structure and staffing
pattern; Section 79 on nepotism; Section 80, posting of vacancy and personnel selection board; Section 81 on compensation, etc. have been duly
complied with in the issuance of this appointment.

This is to certify further that the faithful observance of these restrictions/requirements was made in accordance with the requirements of
the Civil Service Commission before the appointment was submitted for review and action. [8] (Emphasis supplied.)

The above certification was signed by Ong and HR Officer-Designate Editha C. Garcia.

On October 1, 1998, the members of the Sangguniang Bayan of Naga, Cebu filed a letter-complaint[9]before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB)-
Visayas against Ong (then incumbent Vice-Mayor of Naga), Galeos and Rivera for dishonesty, nepotism, violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials and Employees and Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and for the crime of falsification of public documents.

On August 11, 2000, Ombudsman Aniano Desierto approved the recommendation of OIC-Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas that criminal charges be
filed against Ong, Galeos and Rivera for falsification of public documents under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, in connection with
the Certification dated June 1, 1994 issued by Ong and the false statements in the 1993, 1995 and 1996 SALN of Rivera and the 1993, 1994, 1995 and
1996 SALN of Galeos.[10]

On August 16, 2000, the following Informations[11] were filed against the petitioners:

Criminal Case No. 26181

That on or about the 14th day of February, 1994, in the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named [Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos] accused, public officers, being the former Municipal Mayor and Construction and
Maintenance Man of the Office of the Municipal Engineer, Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to office,
conniving and confederating together and mutually helping with each other, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously falsify a public document, consisting of a Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities, Disclosure of Business Interests
and Financial Connections and Identification of Relatives In the Government Service, as of December 31, 1993,filed by accused Rosalio
S. Galeos and subscribed and sworn to before accused Paulino S. Ong, wherein accused made it appear therein that they are not related within
the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when in truth and in fact,
accused very well k[n]ew that they are related with each other, since accused Rosalio S. Galeos is related to accused Paulino S. Ong within the fourth
degree of consanguinity, the mother of accused Rosalio S. Galeos [being] the sister of the mother of accused Paulino S. Ong.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26182

That on or about the 15th day of February 1994, in the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named [Paulino S. Ong and Federico T. Rivera] accused, public officers, being the former Municipal Mayor and Plumber I of the Office of
the Municipal Engineer, Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to office, conniving and confederating
together and mutually helping with each other, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify
a public document, consisting of a Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities, Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections
and Identification of Relatives In the Government Service as of December 31, 1993, filed by accused Federico T. Rivera and subscribed and
sworn to before accused Paulino S. Ong, wherein accused Federico T. Rivera made it appear therein that he has no relatives within the fourth
degree of consanguinity or affinity working in the government, thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when in
truth and in fact, as accused very well knew that they are related with each other, since accused Federico T. Rivera is related to accused Paulino S. Ong
within the fourth degree of affinity, the mother of Federico T. Rivera's wife being the sister of the mother of Paulino S. Ong.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26183

That on or about the 1st day of February, 1996, in the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named [Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos] accused, public officers, being the former Municipal Mayor and Construction and
Maintenance Man of the Office of the Municipal Engineer, Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to office,
conniving and confederating together and mutually helping with each other, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously falsify a public document, consisting of a Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities, Disclosure of Business Interests
and Financial Connections and Identification of Relatives In the Government Service, as of December 31, 1995, filed by accused Rosalio
S. Galeos and subscribed and sworn to before accused Paulino S. Ong, wherein accused made it appear therein that they are not related
within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity thereby making false statements in a narration of facts, when in truth and in fact, as
accused very well k[n]ew that they are related with each other, since accused Rosalio S. Galeos is related to accused Paulino S. Ong within the fourth
degree of consanguinity, the mother of accused Rosalio S. Galeos being the sister of the mother of accused Paulino S. Ong.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26184

That on or about the 1st day of February 1996, in the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named [Paulino S. Ong and Federico T. Rivera] accused, public officers, being the former Municipal Mayor and Plumber I of the Office of
the Municipal Engineer, Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to office, conniving and confederating
together and mutually helping with each other, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify
a public document, consisting of a Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities, Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections
and Identification of Relatives In The Government Service, [a]s of December 31, 1995, filed by accused Federico T. Rivera and subscribed
and sworn to before accused Paulino S. Ong, wherein accused Federico T. Rivera made it appear therein that he has no relatives within the
fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity working in the government, thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when
in truth and in fact, as accused very well knew that they are related with each other, since accused Federico T. Rivera is re lated to accused Paulino S.
Ong within the fourth degree of affinity, the mother of Federico T. Rivera's wife being the sister of the mother of Paulino S. Ong.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26185

That on or about the 5th day of February 1997, in the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named [Paulino S. Ong and Federico T. Rivera] accused, public officers, being the former Municipal Mayor and Plumber I of the Office of
the Municipal Engineer, Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to office, conniving and confederating
together and mutually helping with each other, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify
a public document, consisting of a Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities, Disclosure of Business Interests and Financial Connections
and Identification of Relatives In The Government Service, [a]s of December 31, 1996, filed by accused Federico T. Rivera and subscribed
and sworn to before accused Paulino S. Ong, wherein accused Federico T. Rivera made it appear therein that he has no relatives within the
fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity working in the government, thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when
in truth and in fact, as accused very well knew that they are related with each other, since accused Federico T. Rivera is re lated to accused Paulino S.
Ong within the fourth degree of affinity, the mother of Federico T. Rivera's wife being the sister of the mother of Paulino S. Ong.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26186

That on or about the 3rd day of March, 1995, in the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named [Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos] accused, public officers, being the former Municipal Mayor and Construction and
Maintenance Man of the Office of the Municipal Engineer, Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to office,
conniving and confederating together and mutually helping with each other, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously falsify a public document, consisting of a Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities, Disclosure of Business Interests
and Financial Connections and Identification of Relatives In the Government Services, as of December 31, 1994, filed by accused Rosalio
S. Galeos and subscribed and sworn to before accused Paulino S. Ong, wherein accused made it appear therein that they are not related within
the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when in truth and in fact, as
accused very well k[n]ew that they are related with each other, since accused Rosalio S. Galeos is related to accused Paulino S. Ong, within the fourth
degree of consanguinity, the mother of accused Rosalio S. Galeos being the sister of the mother of accused Paulino S. Ong.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26187


That on or about the 11th day of March, 1997, in the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, above-named [Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos] accused, public officers, being the former Municipal Mayor and Construction and
Maintenance Man of the Office of the Municipal Engineer, Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in relation to office,
conniving and confederating, together and mutually helping with each other, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously falsify a public document, consisting of a Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities, Disclosure of Business Interests
and Financial Connections and Identification of Relatives In the Government Service, as of December 31, 1996, filed by accused Rosalio S.
Galeos and subscribed and sworn to before accused Paulino S. Ong, wherein accused made it appear therein that they are not related within
the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when in truth and in fact, as
accused very well k[n]ew that they are related with each other, since accused Rosalio S. Galeos is related to accused Paulino S. Ong within the fourth
degree of consanguinity, the mother of accused Rosalio S. Galeos being the sister of the mother of accused Paulino S. Ong.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26188

That on or about the 1st day of June, 1994, at the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
above-named accused, a public officer, being the former Mayor of the Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in
relation to office, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify a public document, consisting
of a Certification in the form of a letter addressed to Mrs. Benita O. Santos, then Regional Director of the Civil Service Commission (CSC)-Region VII,
Cebu City dated June 1, 1994, a requirement in the approval of an appointment, certifying therein that there was a faithful compliance of
the requirement/restriction provided under the Civil Service Laws and Rules in the appointment of Rosalio S. Galeos, as Construction and
Maintenance Man of the Office of the Municipal Engineer, Naga, Cebu, thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when in truth
and in fact as accused very well knew that the appointment of Rosalio S. Galeos was nepotic being made in violation of the Civil Service
Rules and Laws on Nepotism, as Rosalio S. Galeos is related to accused within the fourth degree of consanguinity, since the mother of Rosalio S.
Galeos is the sister of the mother of accused, which Certification caused the approval of the appointment of Rosalio S. Galeos, to the detriment of
public interest.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Criminal Case No. 26189

That on or about the 1st day of June, 1994, at the Municipality of Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
above-named accused, a public officer, being the former Mayor of the Municipality of Naga, Cebu, in such capacity and committing the offense in
relation to office, with deliberate intent, with intent to falsify, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously falsify a public document, consisting
of a Certification in the form of a letter addressed to Mrs. Benita O. Santos, then Regional Director of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Region VII,
Cebu City, dated June 1, 1994, a requirement in the approval of an appointment, certifying therein that there was a faithful compliance of
the requirement/restriction provided under the Civil Service Laws and Rules in the appointment of Federico T. Rivera, a Plumber I of the
Office of the Municipal Engineer, Naga, Cebu, thereby making untruthful statements in a narration of facts, when in truth and in fact as accused
very well knew that the appointment of Federico T. Rivera was nepotic being made in violation of the Civil Service Rules and Laws on
Nepotism, as Federico T. Rivera is related to accused within the fourth degree of affinity, since the mother of Federico T. Rivera's wife is the
sister of the mother of accused, which certification caused the approval of the appointment of Federico T. Rivera, to the detriment of public
interest.

CONTRARY TO LAW. (Emphasis supplied.)

Under the Joint Stipulation of Facts submitted to the court a quo, the accused made the following admissions: (1) Ong was the Municipal Mayor of Cebu
at all times relevant to these cases; (2) Ong is related to Galeos, within the fourth degree of consanguinity as his mother is the sister of Galeos' mother,
and to Rivera within the fourth degree of affinity as his mother is the sister of the mother of Rivera's wife; and (3) Galeos and Rivera were employed as
Construction and Maintenance Man and Plumber I, respectively, in the Municipal Government of Naga, Cebu at all times relevant to these cases. Ong
likewise admitted the genuineness and due execution of the documentary exhibits presented by the prosecutor (copies of SALNs and Certification dated
June 1, 1994) except for Exhibit "H" (Certification dated June 1, 1994 offered by the prosecution as "allegedly supporting the appointment of Rosalio S.
Galeos"[12]).[13]

As lone witness for the prosecution, Esperidion R. Canoneo testified that he has been a resident of Pangdan, Naga, Cebu since 1930 and claimed to be
friends with Ong, Galeos and Rivera. He knows the mother of Galeos, Pining Suarez or Peñaranda Suarez. But when the prosecutor mentioned "Bining
Suarez," Canoneo stated that Bining Suarez is the mother of Galeos and that Bining Suarez is the same person as "Bernardita Suarez." Ong is related
to Galeos because Ong's mother, Conchita Suarez, and Galeos' mother, Bernardita Suarez, are sisters. As to Rivera, his wife Kensiana,[14] is the
daughter of Mercedes Suarez who is also a sister of Conchita Suarez. He knew the Suarez sisters because they were the neighbors of his grandmother
whom he frequently visited when he was still studying. [15]

Both Galeos and Rivera testified that they only provided the entries in their SALN but did not personally fill up the forms as these were already filled up
by "people in the municipal hall" when they signed them.

Galeos, when shown his 1993 SALN,[16] confirmed his signature thereon. When he was asked if he understood the question "To the best of your
knowledge, are you related within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity to anyone working in the government?" he answered in the negative.
He claimed that the "X" mark corresponding to the answer "No" to said question, as well as the other entries in his SALN, were already filled up when
he signed it. When shown his SALN for the years 1994, 1995 and 1996, Galeos reiterated that they were already filled up and he was only made to sign
them by an employee of the municipal hall whom he only remembers by face. He also admitted that he carefully read the documents and all the entries
therein were explained to him before he affixed his signature on the document. However, when asked whether he understands the term "fourth degree
of consanguinity or affinity" stated in the SALNs, he answered in the negative. [17]

Rivera testified that he was not aware that his wife was a close relative of the Municipal Mayor because when he asked her, the latter told him that Ong
was a distant relative of hers. Rivera added that it was not Ong who first appointed him as a casual employee but Ong's predecessor, Mayor Vicente
Mendiola.[18]

On the part of Ong, he testified that at the time he was serving as Municipal Mayor of Naga, he did not know that he and Galeos are relatives, as in fact
there are several persons with the surname "Galeos" in the municipality. He signed Galeos' 1993 SALN when it was presented to him by Galeos at his
office. There were many of them who brought such documents and he would administer their oaths on what were written on their SALN, among them
were Galeos and Rivera. He came to know of the defect in the employment of Galeos when the case was filed by his "political enemy" in the
Ombudsman just after he was elected Vice-Mayor in 1998. As to Rivera, Ong claimed that he knows him as a casual employee of the previous
administration. As successor of the former mayor, he had to re-appoint these casual employees and he delegated this matter to his subordinates. He
maintained that his family was not very close to their other relatives because when he was not yet Mayor, he was doing business in Cebu and Manila.
When queried by the court if he had known his relatives while he was campaigning considering that in the provinces even relatives within the 6th and
7th degree are still regarded as close relatives especially among politicians, Ong insisted that his style of campaigning was based only on his
performance of duties and that he did not go from house to house. Ong admitted that he had been a resident of Naga, Cebu since birth. He could no
longer recall those SALN of most of the employees whose oaths he had administered. He admitted that he was the one who appointed Galeos and
Rivera to their permanent positions and signed their official appointment (Civil Service Form No. 33) but he was not aware at that time that he was
related to them. It was only after the filing of the case that he came to know the wife of Rivera. As to the qualifications of these appointees, he no
longer inquired about it and their appointments were no longer submitted to the Selection Board. When the appointment forms for Galeos and Rivera
were brought to his office, the accompanying documents were attached thereto. Ong, however, admitted that before the permanent appointment is
approved by the CSC, he issues a certification to the effect that all requirements of law and the CSC have been complied with.[19]

On August 18, 2005, the Sandiganbayan promulgated the assailed Decision convicting Ong, Galeos and Rivera, as follows:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered on the following:

In Criminal Case No. 26181, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Falsification of Public Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying
circumstances, are hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1)
DAY OF Prision Correccional medium as the minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty
and to each pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00).
In Criminal Case No. 26182, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong and Federico T. Rivera GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of Falsification of Public Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying
circumstances, are hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1)
DAY OF Prision Correccional medium as the minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty
and to each pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00).

In Criminal Case No. 26183, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Falsification of Public Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying
circumstances, are hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1)
DAY OF Prision Correccional medium as the minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty
and to each pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00).

In Criminal Case No. 26184, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong and Federico T. Rivera GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of Falsification of Public Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying
circumstances, are hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1)
DAY OF Prision Correccional medium as the minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty
and to each pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00).

In Criminal Case No. 26185, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong and Federico T. Rivera GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of Falsification of Public Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying
circumstances, are hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1)
DAY OF Prision Correccional medium as the minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty
and to each pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00).

In Criminal Case No. 26186, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Falsification of Public Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying
circumstances, are hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1)
DAY OF Prision Correccional medium as the minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty
and to each pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00).

In Criminal Case No. 26187, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong and Rosalio S. Galeos GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of Falsification of Public Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying
circumstances, are hereby sentenced to each suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS, and ONE (1)
DAY OF Prision Correccional medium as the minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty
and to each pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P5,000.00).

In Criminal Case No. 26188, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong NOT GUILTY for Violation of Article 171 of the Revised Penal
Code for failure of the Prosecution to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt; and

In Criminal Case No. 26189, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused Paulino S. Ong GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for Falsification of Public
Document as defined in and penalized by Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying circumstances, is hereby sentenced to
suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Correccional medium as the
minimum penalty to EIGHT (8) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY of Prision Mayor medium as the maximum penalty and to pay a FINE of FIVE THOUSAND
PESOS (P5,000.00).

SO ORDERED.[20]

In its Resolution[21] dated August 28, 2006, the Sandiganbayan denied the motions for reconsideration of Ong and Galeos. However, in view of the
death of Rivera on August 22, 2003 before the promulgation of the decision, the cases (Criminal Case Nos. 26182, 26184 and 26185) against him were
dismissed.

In G.R. Nos. 174730-37, Galeos contends that the Sandiganbayan erred when:

1) . . . IT HELD THAT THE SUBJECT DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE CONTAINED UNTRUTHFUL STATEMENTS IN A NARRATION OF FACTS.

2) . . . IT DID NOT CONSIDER PETITIONER'S VALID DEFENSE OF GOOD FAITH AND LACK OF INTENT TO COMMIT THE CRIMES IMPUTED.

3) . . . IT GAVE FULL CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONY OF THE SOLE WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. [22]

In support of his assigned errors, Galeos argues that he did not make untruthful or false statements in his SALN since a "statement" requires a positive
averment and thus silence or non-disclosure cannot be considered one. And even if they are considered statements, Galeos contends that they were not
made in a "narration of facts" and the least they could be considered are "conclusions of law." He also argues that the prosecution failed to adduce any
evidence to support the finding that he was aware of their relationship at the time of the execution of the SALN. With the presence of good faith, Galeos
avers that the fourth element of the crime - the perversion of truth in the narration of facts was made with the wrongful intent of injuring a third person
- is missing. He also faults the Sandiganbayan for its heavy reliance on the uncorroborated testimony of the prosecution's sole witness despite the fact
that there are aspects in his testimony that do not inspire belief.

On the other hand, in G.R. Nos. 174845-52, Ong argues that the Sandiganbayan erred when:

(a)

. . . IT HELD THAT THE SUBJECT DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE CONTAINED UNTRUTHFUL STATEMENTS IN A NARRATION OF FACTS.

(b)

IN CRIMINAL CASES NOS. 26181-26187, [IT HELD] THAT A PERSON MERELY ADMINISTERING THE OATH IN A DOCUMENT IS GUILTY OF THE CRIME OF
FALSIFICATION BY MAKING UNTRUTHFUL STATEMENTS IN A NARRATION OF FACTS.

(c)

. . . IN CRIMINAL CASE NO. 26189, ... IT INFER[R]ED, DESPITE THE COMPLETE ABSENCE OF ANY RELEVANT AND MATERIAL EVIDENCE, THAT
RESPONDENT'S EXHIBIT "I" (OR PETITIONER'S EXHIBIT "8") REFERS TO OR SUPPORTS THE APPOINTMENT OF FEDERICO T. RIVERA.[23]

Ong similarly argues that the subject SALN do not contain any untruthful statements containing a narration of facts and that there was no wrongful
intent of injuring a third person at the time of the execution of the documents. He contends that he cannot be held liable for falsification for merely
administering the oath in a document since it is not among the legal obligations of an officer administering the oath to cert ify the truthfulness and/or
veracity of the contents of the document. Neither can he be made liable for falsification regarding the letter-certification he issued since there was no
evidence adduced that it was made to support Rivera's appointment.

In the Joint Memorandum filed by the Ombudsman through the Office of the Special Prosecutor of the Sandiganbayan, it was pointed out that Galeos
categorically admitted during his testimony that before affixing his signature on the subject SALN, he carefully read its contents and the entries therein
have been explained to him. Moreover, the admission made by Ong during the pre-trial under the joint stipulation of facts indicated no qualification at
all that he became aware of his relationship with Galeos and Rivera only after the execution of the subject documents. The defense of lack of knowledge
of a particular fact in issue, being a state of mind and therefore self-serving, it can be legally assumed that the admission of that particular fact without
qualification reckons from the time the imputed act, to which the particular fact relates, was committed. As to mistaken reliance on the testimony of
prosecution witness, the analysis and findings in the assailed decision do not show that such testimony was even taken into consideration in arriving at
the conviction of petitioners.[24]
With respect to Ong's liability as conspirator in the execution of the SALN containing untruthful statements, the Special Prosecutor argues that as a
general rule, it is not the duty of the administering officer to ascertain the truth of the statements found in a document. The reason for this is that the
administering officer has no way of knowing if the facts stated therein are indeed truthful. However, when the facts laid out in the document directly
involves the administering officer, then he has an opportunity to know of their truth or falsity. When an administering officer nevertheless administers
the oath despite the false contents of the document, which are known to him to be false, he is liable, not because he violated his duty as an
administering officer, but because he participated in the falsification of a document. [25]

After a thorough review, we find the petitions unmeritorious.

Petitioners were charged with falsification of public document under Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which states:

Art. 171. Falsification by public officer, employee or notary or ecclesiastic minister. -- The penalty of prision mayor and a fine not to exceed 5,000 pesos
shall be imposed upon any public officer, employee, or notary who, taking advantage of his official position, shall falsify a document by committing any
of the following acts:

1. Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature or rubric;

2. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate;

3. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them;

4. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts;

x x x x (Emphasis and italics supplied.)

The elements of falsification in the above provision are as follows:

(a) the offender makes in a public document untruthful statements in a narration of facts;
(b) he has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated by him; and
(c) the facts narrated by him are absolutely false.[26]

In addition to the afore-cited elements, it must also be proven that the public officer or employee had taken advantage of his official position in making
the falsification. In falsification of public document, the offender is considered to have taken advantage of his official position when (1) he has the duty
to make or prepare or otherwise to intervene in the preparation of a document; or (2) he has the official custody of the document which he falsifies.[27]
Likewise, in falsification of public or official documents, it is not necessary that there be present the idea of gain or the intent to injure a third person
because in the falsification of a public document, what is punished is the violation of the public faith and the destruction of the truth as therein solemnly
proclaimed.[28]

Falsification of Public Document


by making untruthful statements
concerning relatives in the
government service

All the elements of falsification of public documents by making untruthful statements have been established by the prosecution.

Petitioners argue that the statements "they are not related within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity" and "that Section 79 of the Local
Government Code has been complied with in the issuance of the appointments" are not a narration of facts but a conclusion of law, as both require the
application of the rules on relationship under the law of succession. Thus, they cite People v. Tugbang[29] where it was held that "a statement
expressing an erroneous conclusion of law cannot be considered a falsification." Likewise, in People v. Yanza,[30] it was held that when defendant
certified that she was eligible for the position, she practically wrote a conclusion of law, which turned out to be incorrect or erroneous; hence, she may
not be declared guilty of falsification because the law violated pertains to narration of facts.

We disagree.

A conclusion of law is a determination by a judge or ruling authority regarding the law that applies in a particular case. It is opposed to a finding of fact,
which interprets the factual circumstances to which the law is to be applied. [31] A narration of facts is merely an account or description of the
particulars of an event or occurrence.[32] We have held that a certification by accused officials in the Statement of Time Elapsed and Work Accomplished
qualifies as a narration of facts as contemplated under Article 171 (4) of the Revised Penal Code, as it consisted not only of figures and numbers but
also words were used therein giving an account of the status of the flood control project. [33]

In this case, the required disclosure or identification of relatives "within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity" in the SALN involves merely
a description of such relationship; it does not call for an application of law in a particular set of facts. On the other hand, Articles 963 to 967 of the Civil
Code simply explain the concept of proximity of relationship and what constitute direct and collateral lines in relation to the rules on succession. The
question of whether or not persons are related to each other by consanguinity or affinity within the fourth degree is one of fact. Contrary to petitioners'
assertion, statements concerning relationship may be proved as to its truth or falsity, and thus do not amount to expression of opinion. When a
government employee is required to disclose his relatives in the government service, such information elicited therefore qualifies as a narration of facts
contemplated under Article 171 (4) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. Further, it bears to stress that the untruthful statements on relationship
have no relevance to the employee's eligibility for the position but pertains rather to prohibition or restriction imposed by law on the appointing
power.

Since petitioner Galeos answered "No" to the question in his 1993 SALN if he has relatives in the government service within the fourth degree of
consanguinity, he made an untruthful statement therein as in fact he was related to Ong, who was then the municipal mayor, within the fourth degree
of consanguinity, he and Ong being first cousins (their mothers are sisters). As to his 1994, 1995 and 1996 SALN, Galeos left in blank the boxes for
the answer to the similar query. In Dela Cruz v. Mudlong,[34] it was held that one is guilty of falsification in the accomplishment of his information and
personal data sheet if he withholds material facts which would have affected the approval of his appointment and/or promotion to a government
position. By withholding information on his relative/s in the government service as required in the SALN, Galeos was guilty of falsification considering
that the disclosure of such relationship with then Municipal Mayor Ong would have resulted in the disapproval of his permanent appointment pursuant to
Article 168 (j) (Appointments), Rule XXII of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), which
provides:

No person shall be appointed in the local government career service if he is related within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to the
appointing power or recommending authority.

Section 7 (e), Rule V of the Implementing Rules of Book V, Executive Order No. 292 otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987, provides
that the CSC shall disapprove the appointment of a person who "has been issued such appointment in violation of existing Civil Service Law, rules and
regulations." Among the prohibited appointments enumerated in CSC Memorandum Circular No. 38, series of 1993 are appointments in the LGUs of
persons who are related to the appointing or recommending authority within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity. [35]

The Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions (CSC Memorandum Circular No. 40, series of 1998 dated December 14, 1998) contain
a similar prohibition under Rule XIII, Section 9:

SEC. 9. No appointment in the national, provincial, city or municipal governments or any branch or instrumentality thereof, including government
owned or controlled corporations with original charters shall be made in favor of a relative of the appointing or recommendin g authority, or of the chief
of the bureau or office or of the person exercising immediate supervision over the appointee.

Unless otherwise provided by law, the word "relative" and the members of the family referred to are those related within the third degree either of
consanguinity or of affinity.

In the local government career service, the prohibition extends to the relatives of the appointing or recommending authority, within the
fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity.

xxxx

The nepotism rule covers all kinds of appointments whether original, promotional, transfer and reemployment regardless of status including casuals and
contractuals except consultants. (Emphasis supplied.)

The second element is likewise present. "Legal obligation" means that there is a law requiring the disclosure of the truth of the facts
narrated.[36] Permanent employees employed by local government units are required to file the following: (a) sworn statement of assets, liabilities and
net worth (SALN); (b) lists of relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity in government service; (c) financial and business
interests; and (d) personal data sheets as required by law. [37] A similar requirement is imposed by Section 8 (B) of Republic Act No. 6713 otherwise
known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, thus:

(B) Identification and disclosure of relatives[38]. - It shall be the duty of every public official or employee to identify and disclose to the best of his
knowledge and information, his relatives in the Government in the form, manner and frequency prescribed by the Civil Service Commission.

Section 11 of the same law penalizes the violation of the above provision, either with imprisonment or fine, and, in the discretion of the court of
competent jurisdiction, disqualification to hold public office. Such violation if proven in a proper administrative proceeding shall also be sufficient cause
for removal or dismissal of a public official or employee, even if no criminal prosecution is instituted against him.

The evidence on record clearly showed that Galeos' negative answer reflected in his SALN is absolutely false. During the trial, both Ong and Galeos
admitted the fact that they are first cousins but denied having knowledge of such relationship at the time the subject documents were executed. The
Sandiganbayan correctly rejected their defense of being unaware that they are related within the fourth degree of consanguinity. Given the Filipino
cultural trait of valuing strong kinship and extended family ties, it was unlikely for Galeos who had been working for several years in the municipal
government, not to have known of his close blood relation to Ong who was a prominent public figure having ran and won in the local elections four
times (three terms as Mayor and as Vice-Mayor in the 1998 elections), after serving as OIC Mayor of the same municipality in 1986 until 1988.

The same thing can be said of Ong, whose unbelievable claim that he had no knowledge that a first cousin (Galeos) was working in the municipal
government and appointed by him to a permanent position during his incumbency, was correctly disregarded by the Sandiganbayan. It was simply
unthinkable that as a resident of Naga, Cebu since birth and a politician at that, he was all the time unaware that he himself appointed to permanent
positions the son of his mother's sister (Galeos) and the husband of his first cousin (Rivera). Indeed, the reality of local politics and Filipino culture
renders his defense of good faith (lack of knowledge of their relationship) unavailing. Despite his knowledge of the falsity of the statement in the
subject SALN, Ong still administered the oath to Galeos and Rivera who made the false statement under oath. The Sandiganbayan thus did not err in
finding that Ong connived with Galeos and Rivera in making it appear in their SALN that they have no relative within the fourth degree of
consanguinity/affinity in the government service.

Conspiracy need not be shown by direct proof of an agreement of the parties to commit the crime,[39] as it can be inferred from the acts of the accused
which clearly manifest a concurrence of wills, a common intent or design to commit a crime. [40] In this case, Ong administered the oaths to Galeos and
Rivera in the subject SALN not just once, but three times, a clear manifestation that he concurred with the making of the untruthful statement therein
concerning relatives in the government service.

Falsification by making
untruthful statements
in the Certification re:
compliance with the
prohibition on nepotism

As chief executive and the proper appointing authority, Ong is deemed to have issued the certification recommending to the CSC approval of Galeos'
appointment although he admitted only the authenticity and due execution of Exhibit "I". Since Ong was duty bound to observe the prohibition on
nepotistic appointments, his certification stating compliance with Section 79 [41] of R.A. No. 7160 constitutes a solemn affirmation of the fact that the
appointee is not related to him within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity. Having executed the certification despite his knowledge that
he and Rivera were related to each other within the fourth degree of affinity, as in fact Rivera was his cousin-in-law because the mother of Rivera's wife
is the sister of Ong's mother, Ong was guilty of falsification of public document by making untruthful statement in a narration of facts. He also took
advantage of his official position as the appointing authority who, under the Civil Service rules, is required to issue such certification.

The importance of the certification submitted to the CSC by the proper appointing authority in the local government unit, regarding compliance with the
prohibition against nepotism under R.A. No. 7160 cannot be overemphasized. Under Section 67, Book V, Chapter 10 of the Administrative Code of
1987, a head of office or appointing official who issues an appointment or employs any person in violation of Civil Service Law and Rules or who
commits fraud, deceit or intentional misrepresentation of material facts concerning other civil service matters, or anyone who violates, refuses or
neglects to comply with any of such provisions or rules, may be held criminally liable. In Civil Service Commission v. Dacoycoy,[42] we held that mere
issuance of appointment in favor of a relative within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity is sufficient to constitute a violation of the law.
Although herein petitioners were prosecuted for the criminal offense of falsification of public document, it becomes obvious that the requirement of
disclosure of relationship to the appointing power in the local government units simply aims to ensure strict enforcement of the prohibition against
nepotism.

Relevant then is our pronouncement in Dacoycoy:

Nepotism is one pernicious evil impeding the civil service and the efficiency of its personnel. In Debulgado, we stressed that "[T]the basic purpose or
objective of the prohibition against nepotism also strongly indicates that the prohibition was intended to be a comprehensive one." "The Court was
unwilling to restrict and limit the scope of the prohibition which is textually very broad and comprehensive." If not within the exceptions, it is a form of
corruption that must be nipped in the bud or abated whenever or wherever it raises its ugly head. As we said in an earlier case "what we need now is
not only to punish the wrongdoers or reward the `outstanding' civil servants, but also to plug the hidden gaps and potholes of corruption as well as to
insist on strict compliance with existing legal procedures in order to abate any occasion for graft or circumvention of the
law."[43] (Emphasis supplied.)

The prosecution having established with moral certainty the guilt of petitioners for falsification of public documents under Article 171 (4) of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, we find no legal ground to reverse petitioners' conviction.

WHEREFORE, the petitions are DENIED. The Decision dated August 18, 2005 of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case Nos. 26181-26187 and 26189
is AFFIRMED.

With costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Carpio Morales, (Chairperson), Brion, Bersamin, and Mendoza,* JJ., concur.

Endnotes:

*
Designated additional member per Special Order No. 944-A dated February 9, 2011.

[1]
Rollo (G.R. Nos. 174730-35), pp. 51-73. Penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta (now a Member of this Court) and concurred in by
Associate Justices Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro (also now a Member of this Court) and Efren N. Dela Cruz.

[2]
TSN, May 9, 2002, pp. 41-42, 62.

[3]
Exhibits "J" and "K", folder of exhibits.
[4]
Exhibits "A" and "B", id.

[5]
Exhibits "C" and "F", id.

[6]
Exhibit "D", id.

[7]
Exhibits "E" and "G", id.

[8]
Exhibit "I", id.

[9]
Records, Vol. I, pp. 13-16.

[10]
Id. at 5-12.

[11]
Separate folders.

[12]
Records, Vol. 1, p. 181.

[13]
Id. at 202-204.

[14]
"Quinciana" in some parts of the TSN.

[15]
TSN, May 3, 2001, pp. 11-18.

[16]
Exhibit "A," folder of exhibits.

[17]
TSN, May 9, 2002, pp. 22-32.

[18]
Id. at 12-19.

[19]
Id. at 33, 42-47, 50-59, 64-72.

[20]
Rollo (G.R. Nos. 174730-37), pp. 69-72.

[21]
Id. at 94-98.

[22]
Id. at 25.

[23]
Rollo (G.R. Nos. 174845-52), p. 18.

[24]
Rollo (G.R. Nos. 174730-37), pp. 192-193, 203-207.

[25]
Id. at 199-201.

[26]
Fullero v. People, G.R. No. 170583, September 12, 2007, 533 SCRA 97, 114, citing Santos v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 71523-25, December 8,
2000, 347 SCRA 386, 424.

[27]
Id., citing Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Criminal Law (14 th Edition, Revised 1998), BOOK TWO, ARTS. 114-367, p. 216, People v. Uy, 101
Phil. 159, 163 (1957) and United States v. Inosanto, 20 Phil. 376, 378 (1911); Adaza v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 154886, July 28, 2005, 464 SCRA
460, 478-479.

[28]
Regidor, Jr. v. People, G.R. Nos. 166086-92, February 13, 2009, 579 SCRA 244, 263, citing Lastrilla v. Granda, G.R. No. 160257, January 31, 2006,
481 SCRA 324, 345, Lumancas v. Intas, G.R. No. 133472, December 5, 2000, 347 SCRA 22, 33-34, further citing People v. Po Giok To, 96 Phil. 913,
918 (1955).

[29]
G.R. No. 76212, April 26, 1991, 196 SCRA 341, 350.

[30]
107 Phil. 888, 890-891 (1960).

[31]
http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/conclusion-of-law/.

[32]
Bartolo v. Sandiganbayan, Second Division, G.R. No. 172123, April 16, 2009, 585 SCRA 387, 394.

[33]
Id.

[34]
Adm. Matter No. P-985, July 31, 1978, 84 SCRA 280.

[35]
VII (Prohibitions on Appointments), 2(b).

[36]
Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book Two, (17 th Edition, Rev. 2008), p. 223.

[37]
Art. 175, Rule XXII, Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991.

[38]
Sec. 3. x x x

xxxx

(k) "Relatives" refers to any and all persons related to a public official or employee within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity,
including bilas, inso and balae.

[39]
People v. Herida, G.R. No. 127158, March 5, 2001, 353 SCRA 650, 659.

[40]
People v. Lenantud, G.R. No. 128629, February 22, 2001, 352 SCRA 549, 563.

[41]
Sec. 79. Limitation on Appointments. - No person shall be appointed in the career service of the local government if he is related within the fourth
civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to the appointing or recommending authority.

[42]
G.R. No. 135805, April 29, 1999, 306 SCRA 425, 435.

[43]
Id. at 438-439.

THIRD DIVISION
G.R. Nos. 186739-960 April 17, 2013

LEOVEGILDO R. RUZOL, Petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN and the PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

This is an appeal seeking to nullify the December 19, 2008 Decision1 of the First Division of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case Nos.
SB-08-CRIM-0039 to 0259, which convicted Leovegildo R. Ruzol (Ruzol), then Mayor of General Nakar, Quezon, of Usurpation of
Official Functions penalized under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

The Facts

Ruzol was the mayor of General Nakar, Quezon from 2001 to 2004. Earlier in his term, he organized a Multi-Sectoral Consultative
Assembly composed of civil society groups, public officials and concerned stakeholders with the end in view of regulating and
monitoring the transportation of salvaged forest products within the vicinity of General Nakar. Among those present in the organizational
meeting were Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Rogelio Delgado Sr. and Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen,
the OCD-DD of the Prelature of Infanta Emeritus of the Catholic Church and Chairperson of TIPAN, an environmental non-government
organization that operates in the municipalities of General Nakar, Infanta and Real in Quezon province. During the said assembly, the
participants agreed that to regulate the salvaged forests products, the Office of the Mayor, through Ruzol, shall issue a permit to
transport after payment of the corresponding fees to the municipal treasurer. 2

Consequently, from 2001 to 2004, two hundred twenty-one (221) permits to transport salvaged forest products were issued to various
recipients, of which forty-three (43) bore the signature of Ruzol while the remaining one hundred seventy-eight (178) were signed by his
co-accused Guillermo T. Sabiduria (Sabiduria), then municipal administrator of General Nakar. 3

On June 2006, on the basis of the issued Permits to Transport, 221 Informations for violation of Art. 177 of the RPC or for Usurpation of
Authority or Official Functions were filed against Ruzol and Sabiduria, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. SB-08-CRIM-0039 to 0259.

Except for the date of commission, the description of forest product, person given the permit, and official receipt number, the said
Informations uniformly read:

That, on (date of commission) or sometime prior or subsequent thereto, in General Nakar, Quezon, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused Leovegildo R. Ruzol and Guillermo M. Sabiduria, both public officers, being then the
Municipal Mayor and Municipal Administrator, respectively, of General Nakar, Quezon, taking advantage of their official position and
committing the offense in relation to their office, conspiring and confederating with each other did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
criminally, issue permit to transport (description of forest product) to (person given the permit) under O.R. No. (official receipt number)
under the pretense of official position and without being lawfully entitled to do so, such authority properly belonging to the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources, to the damage and prejudice of the of the government.

CONTRARY TO LAW.4

The details for each Information are as follows:5

Criminal Date of Description of Forest Person Given the Official


Case No. Commission Product Permit Receipt No.

0039 20 Jan. 2004 1,000 board ft malaruhat/ David Villareal Jr. 1623446
marang
0040 16 Jan. 2004 600 board ft lawaan Pepito Aumentado 1623463
0041 15 Jan. 2004 100 pcs. malaruhat Francisco Mendoza 1708352
(assorted sizes)
0042 15 Jan. 2004 300 cubic m or 3,000 board Edmundo dela Vega 1708353
ft good lumber
0043 15 Jan. 2004 600 board ft good lumber David Villareal, Jr. 1708321
0044 15 Jan. 2004 1,050 board ft good lumber Romeo Sabiduria 1708322
0045 12 Jan. 2004 1,000 board ft malaruhat Nestor Astejada 1625521
0046 09 Jan. 2004 4,000 board ft good lumber Naty Orozco 1623421
(assorted sizes)
0047 08 Jan. 2004 700 board ft lauan Winnie Aceboque 1623415
0048 05 Jan. 2004 500 board ft lauan Edmundo dela Vega 1623041
0049 07 Jan. 2004 4 x 5 haligi Mercy Vargas 1623314
0050 06 Jan. 2004 good lumber Mario Pujeda 1623310
0051 21 Oct. 2002 1,000 board ft sliced Conchita Odi 0830825
lumber
0052 21 Oct. 2002 400 board ft sliced lumber Lita Crisostomo 0830826
0053 28 Oct. 2002 450 board ft marang Agosto Astoveza 0830829
lumber
0054 08 Jan. 2003 300 board ft sliced lumber Edna E. Moises 0943941
(assorted sizes)
0055 13 Jan. 2003 1,500 board ft sliced Dante Z. Medina 0943964
lumber (assorted sizes)
0056 16 Jan. 2003 400 board ft sliced lumber Johnny A. Astoveza 0943975
(assorted sizes)
0057 27 Jan. 2003 7 pcs sliced lumber & 1 Sonny Leynes 1181827
piece 18 roda
0058 14 Feb. 2003 2,000 pcs trophy (wood Flordeliza Espiritu 1182033
carvings)
0059 17 Feb. 2003 700 board ft sliced lumber Nestor Astejada 1181917
(assorted sizes)
0060 18 Feb. 2003 1,632 board ft hard wood, Arthur/ Lanie 1182207
kisame & sanipa Occeña
0061 20 Feb. 2004 126 pcs lumber Lamberto 1708810
Aumentado
0062 3 March 2003 450 board ft hard wood Nestor Astoveza 1182413
(assorted sizes)
0063 6 March 2003 160 pcs sliced lumber Remedios Orozco 1182366
(assorted sizes)
0064 10 March 2003 1,500 board ft malaruhat Nestor Astejada 1181996
(assorted sizes)
0065 11 March 2003 900 board ft sliced lumber Fernando Calzado 1182233
(assorted sizes)
0066 13 March 2003 1,408 board ft hard wood Nestor Astejada 1182553
(assorted sizes)
0067 20 March 2003 90 pcs. sliced lumber Remy Orozco 1182157
(assorted sizes)
0068 21 March 2003 90 pcs. sliced lumber Rene Francia 1182168
(assorted sizes)
0069 25 March 2003 500 board ft lumber Thelma Ramia 1182179
(assorted sizes)
0070 26 March 2003 1 pc. 60 x 75 bed (narra) Roy Justo 1182246
finished product
0071 14 April 2004 95 pcs. kalap (9 ft.); 6 pcs. Anita Solloza 3651059
post (10 ft.) & 500 pcs.
Anahaw
0072 08 April 2004 460 board ft lumber Remy Orozco 3651101
(assorted sizes)
0073 14 April 2004 69 pcs. sliced lumber Dindo America 3651101
(assorted sizes)
0074 23 April 2003 870 board ft hard lumber Amado Pradillada 3651268
(assorted sizes)
0075 24 April 2003 400 board ft lumber Romy Buendicho 3651237
(assorted sizes)
0076 24 April 2003 400 board ft rattan Emmanuel 3651324
Buendicho
0077 30 April 2004 1,000 board ft good lumber Mylene Moises 3651335-C
(assorted sizes)
0078 30 April 2004 500 board ft sliced lumber Carlito Vargas 3651336
(assorted sizes)
0079 08 May 2003 72 x 78 bed (narra); 3 pcs. Fely Justo 3651519
60 x 75 bed (ling manok)
& 1 pc. 48 x 75 ed (kuling
manok) finished product
0080 12 May 2003 294 board ft lumber Virgilio Cuerdo 3650927
0081 13 May 2003 43 pcs. sliced lumber Amando Lareza 3651783
(assorted sizes)
0082 14 May 2003 750 board ft good lumber Wilma Cuerdo 3651529
0083 15 May 2003 440 board ft lumber Marte Cuballes 3651532
0084 15 May 2003 214 pcs. 2x6x7 or 1,500 Anneliza Vargas 3651531
board ft finished product
0085 26 May 2003 57 pcs. sliced lumber Danny Sanchez 3651585
(assorted sizes)
0086 27 May 2003 400 board ft cut woods Emy Francia 3651394
0087 30 May 2003 300 board ft lumber Daisy Cuerdo 3650943
0088 30 May 2003 1,000 board ft lumber Lea Astoveza 3651161
(assorted sizes)
0089 05 June 2003 130 pcs. or 1,500 board ft Jose Noly Moises 3651809
lumber cut woods
0090 06 June 2003 300 board ft lumber Mercy Escaraga 3651169
0091 18 June 2003 800 board ft good lumber Dante Medena 3651749
0092 24 June 2003 28 pcs. good lumber Virgilio Cuerdo 1247102
(assorted sizes)
0093 25 June 2003 190 pcs. good lumber Dante Medina 1247205
(assorted sizes)
0094 02 July 2003 800 board ft. good lumber Dante Medina 1247221
0095 02 July 2003 105 pcs. fresh cut lumber Emmanuel Lusang 1247167
(assorted sizes)
0096 04 July 2003 Assorted sizes of good Alberto dela Cruz 1247172
Lumber
0097 07 July 2003 Bulukan woods Conchita Ligaya 1247175
0098 07 July 2003 6 pcs. Haligi Jane Bulagay 1247173
0099 11 July 2003 700 board ft. cut woods Dominador Aveno 1247452
0100 14 July 200 800 board ft. cut wood/ Dante Medina 1247180
lumber
0101 16 July 2003 600 board ft. cut lumber Rachelle Solana 1247182
0102 23 July 2003 1,200 board ft. hard lumber Necito Crisostomo 1247188
0103 23 July 2003 700 board ft. good lumber Nestor Astejada 1247129
0104 28 July 2003 959 board ft. cut lumber Necito Crisostomo 1247428
0105 29 July 2003 600 board ft. lumber Marilou Astejada 1247191
0106 01 Aug. 2003 1,000 board Malaruhat Ruel Ruzol 1247198
0107 05 Aug. 2003 800 board ft. lumber Virgilio Aumentado 1322853
0108 08 Aug. 2003 4.8 cubic ft. Amlang Rosa Turgo 1322862
woods
0109 12 Aug. 2003 788 Board ft. cut woods Maria Teresa 1322865
Adornado
0110 25 Aug. 2003 500 board ft. assorted Romy Buendicho 1322929
lumber
0111 28 Aug. 2003 2 sala sets Roy Justo 1322879
0112 29 Aug. 2003 456 pieces good lumber Marilou Astejada 1323056
(assorted sizes)
0113 03 Sept. 2003 5 cubic ft softwoods Rosa Turgo 1322834
(assorted sizes)
0114 05 Sept. 2003 1,000 board ft. good Agustin Vargas 1323064
lumber (assorted sizes)
0115 08 Sept. 2003 80 pcs. wood post Peter Banton 1323124
0116 09 Sept. 2003 1 forward load (soft wood) Efifania V. Astrega 1323023
0117 11 Sept. 2003 1 forward load (assorted Noling Multi 1323072
species) Purpose Corp.
0118 11 Sept. 2003 500 board ft. good lumber Agustin Vargas 1323071
0119 12 Sept. 2003 900 board ft. good lumber Nestor Astejada 1323073
(assorted sizes)
0120 15 Sept. 2003 950 board ft. Malaruhat Edna Moises 1323128
0121 16 Sept. 2003 14 pcs. Panel door Roy Justo 1323041
0122 17 Sept. 2003 546 board ft. soft woods Mr. Marquez 1322951
0123 19 Sept. 2003 1,600 board ft. good Decembrano 1323085
lumber (assorted sizes) Sabiduria
0124 22 Sept. 2003 900 board ft. good lumber Jeffrey dela Vega 1323095
0125 22 Sept. 2003 1 Jeep load hard wood Federico Marquez 1323100
0126 25 Sept. 2003 750 board ft. Malaruhat/ Virgilio Villareal 1323252
Marang
0127 03 Oct. 2003 750 board ft. Malaruhat/ Virgilio Villareal 1323252
Marang
0128 02 Oct. 2003 60 pcs. good lumber Nestor Astorza 1482662
(assorted sizes)
0129 03 Oct. 2003 1,600 board ft. good Virgilio Villareal 1482666
lumber (assorted sizes)
0130 03 Oct. 2003 400 board ft. Malaruhat Amado Pradillada 1482815
(assorted sizes)
0131 03 Oct. 2003 1 full load (soft wood) Flordeliza Espiritu 1482867
0132 03 Oct. 2003 6,342 board ft sticks Joel Pacaiqui 1482716
0133 03 Oct. 2003 6,090 board ft sticks Joel Pacaiqui 1482717
0134 07 Oct. 2003 900 board ft. good lumber Mylene Moises 1482670
(assorted sizes)
0135 13 Oct. 2003 600 board ft. Lawaan Winnie Acebaque 1482734
(assorted sizes)
0136 13 Oct. 2003 1,700 board ft. Malaruhat Nestor Bautista 1482740
(assorted sizes)
0137 13 Oct. 2003 300 board ft. Lawaan Trinidad Guerero 1482774
(assorted sizes)
0138 16 Oct. 2003 700 board ft. Lawaan Federico Marquez 1482782
0139 17 Oct. 2003 4,602 board ft. good Nenita Juntreal 1482787
lumber (assorted sizes)
0140 20 Oct. 2003 1,700 board ft. Malaruhat Belen Ordinado 1482793
(assorted sizes)
0141 23 Oct. 2003 66 pcs. good lumber Nestor Astejada 1482847
(assorted sizes)
0142 25 Oct. 2003 1,700 board ft. good Dante Medina 1323277
lumber
0143 27 Oct. 2003 1,800 board ft. good Dante Medina 1482951
lumber (assorted sizes)
0144 28 Oct. 2003 1,254 board ft. good Jonathan Supremo 1323281
lumber (assorted sizes)
0145 28 Oct. 2003 2,500 board ft. lumber Ramir Sanchez 1483001
(assorted sizes)
0146 28 Oct. 2003 500 board ft. good lumber Rolando Franela 1323280
(assorted sizes)
0147 03 Nov. 2003 850 finished products Naty Orozco 1483020
(cabinet component,
balusters, door jambs)
0148 03 Nov. 2003 400 board ft. good lumber Elizabeth Junio 1483022
(assorted sizes) & 6
bundles of sticks
0149 10 Nov. 2003 1,770 board ft. good Dante Medina 1483032
lumber (assorted sizes)
0150 10 Nov. 2003 1,000 board ft. lumber Nestor Astejada 1483033
0151 12 Nov. 2003 900 board ft. lumber Federico Marquez 1483041
(assorted sizes)
0152 12 Nov. 2003 Mini dump truck good Rizalito Francia 1483042
lumber (assorted sizes)
0153 14 Nov. 2003 500 components, 100 pcs Annie Gonzales 1483070
balusters (assorted sizes of
stringers, tassels)
0154 14 Nov. 2003 700 board ft. good lumber Winnie Aceboque 1323287
0155 17 Nov. 2003 1,600 board ft. Malaruhat Federico Marquez 1483072
lumber (assorted sizes)
0156 05 Nov. 2003 400 board ft. Tapil & 7 Belen Ordinado 1483023
pcs. 1x10x14
0157 05 Nov. 2003 1,000 board ft. lumber Leonardo Aveno 1623003
(assorted sizes)
0158 05 Nov. 2003 150 board ft. good lumber Francisco Mendoza 1483027
0159 07 Nov. 2003 433 bundles of semi-finished products Naty Orozco 1483031
0160 08 Nov. 2003 800 board ft. lumber Armando Pradillada 1483134
(assorted sizes)
0161 25 Nov. 2003 30 pcs. sliced lumber Ariel Molina 1632059
0162 19 Nov. 2003 1,000 board ft. good Dante Medina 1623053
lumber (assorted sizes)
0163 20 Nov. 2003 500 board ft. good lumber Maria Teresa 1323288
(assorted sizes) Adornado
0164 20 Nov. 2003 1,500 board ft. good Romeo Sabiduria 1483080
lumber (assorted sizes)
0165 21 Nov. 2003 1,000 board ft. Malaruhat Dante Medina 1623057
lumber (assorted sizes)
0166 25 Oct. 2003 2,000 board ft. lumber Federico Marquez 1322982
(assorted sizes)
0167 25 Nov. 2003 500 board ft. Malaruhat Federico Marquez 1483090
0168 25 Nov. 2003 70 bundles of Rattan Manuel Buendicho 1483095
(assorted sizes)
0169 28 Nov. 2003 6,542 board ft. finished Nenita Juntareal 1623019
products (cabinet and
components)
0170 01 Dec. 2003 400 board ft. Malaruhat Federico Marquez 1623061
0171 01 Dec. 2003 500 board ft. good lumber Nestor Astejada 1483123
0172 01 Dec. 2003 1,500 board ft. lumber Belen Ordinado 1623063
(assorted sizes)
0173 03 Dec. 2003 500 board ft. Laniti Rosa Turgo 1483125
0174 04 Dec. 2003 1,000 board ft. lumber Dante Medina 1483127
0175 04 Dec. 2003 26 pcs. lumber (assorted Nenita Juntareal 1483128
sizes) & 2 bundles of sticks
0176 05 Dec. 2003 800 board ft. lumber Nestor Astejada 1483131
0177 08 Dec. 2003 678 board ft. good lumber Elenor Rutaquio 1623082
(assorted sizes)
0178 08 Dec. 2003 200 board ft. lumber William Rutaquio 1623010
(assorted sizes)
0179 09 Dec. 2003 1,800 board ft. lumber Nestor Astejada 1623090
0180 12 Dec. 2003 One jeep load of good Angelo Avellano 1623099
lumber (assorted sizes)
0181 12 Dec. 2003 One jeep load of good Angelo Avellano 1623099
lumber (assorted sizes)
0182 12 Dec. 2003 800 board ft. lumber Pepito Aumentado 1483147
0183 16 Dec. 2003 600 board ft. Malaruhat Jonathan Marcial 1623033
0184 16 Dec. 2003 650 board ft. lumber Pepito Aumentado 1482987
0185 16 Dec. 2003 1,000 board ft. Malaruhat Dante Medina 1482986
0186 18 Dec. 2003 100 board ft. lumber Aladin Aveno 1322992
0187 19 Dec. 2003 780 board ft. lumber Pepito Aumentado 1323000
0188 19 Dec. 2003 1,500 board ft. coco Felecita Marquez 1322998
lumber
0189 22 Dec. 2003 600 board ft. lumber Belen C. Ordinado 1623209
0190 29 Dec. 2003 600 board ft. Lawaan Winnie Aciboque 1623211
0191 29 Dec. 2003 300 board ft. lumber Yolanda Crisostomo 1623210
0192 30 Dec. 2003 800 board ft. Lawaan Pepito Aumentado 1623215
0193 20 Nov. 2003 150 board ft. good lumber Francisco Mendoza 1483086
(assorted sizes)
0194 30 June 2003 450 board ft. fresh cut Mylene Moises 1247126
lumber
0195 13 July 2001 1 L-300 load of finished Evangeline Moises 9894843-Q
and semi-finished products
0196 02 July 2001 96 pcs. good lumber Rollie L. Velasco 9894996-Q
(assorted sizes)
0197 07 May 2004 1,500 board ft. babayahin Nemia Molina 200647
lumber
0198 19 April 2004 107 pcs. sliced lumber Carlo Gudmalin 1868050
(assorted sizes)
0199 5 March 2004 10 pcs. Deadwood Elizabeth Junio 1708899
(Bulakan)
0200 2 March 2004 600 board ft. Amalang Roda Turgo 1867608
wood
0201 1 March 2004 149 sliced lumber (assorted Necito Crisostomo 1708891
sizes)
0202 1 March 2004 80 bundles of rattan Manuel Buendicho 1708890
0203 23 Feb. 2004 30 pcs. sliced lumber Leonardo Aveno 1708863
(assorted sizes)
0204 13 Feb. 2004 50 pcs. sliced sliced lumber Federico Marquez 1708698
(assorted sizes)
0205 12 Feb. 2004 69 pcs. sliced sliced lumber Florencio Borreo 1708694
(assorted sizes)
0206 17 Feb. 2004 50 pcs. sliced sliced lumber Ronnie Astejada 1708774
(assorted sizes)
0207 04 Feb. 2004 600 board ft. sliced lumber Pepito Aumentado 1708486
(assorted sizes)
0208 1 March 2004 21 pcs. Lawaan (assorted Atan Marquez 1708878
sizes)
0209 4 Feb. 2004 563 board ft. sliced lumber Decembrano 1708487
(assorted sizes) Sabiduria
0210 06 Feb. 2004 80 pcs. Buukan (Ugat) Maila S. Orozco 1708547
0211 30 Jan. 2004 1,000 board ft. good Pepito Aumentado 1708534
lumber (assorted sizes)
0212 29 Jan. 2004 950 board ft. good lumber Leonardo Moises 1708528
(assorted sizes)
0213 28 Jan. 2004 1,000 board ft. good Pepito Aumentado 1708518
lumber (assorted sizes)
0214 28 Jan. 2004 5, 000 board ft. good Carmelita Lorenzo 1708521
lumber (assorted sizes)
0215 28 Jan. 2004 350 board ft. good lumber Amando Pradillada 1708368
(assorted sizes)
0216 23 Jan. 2004 800 board ft. lumber Pepito Aumentado 1708517
(assorted sizes)
0217 21 Jan. 2004 1,050 board ft. good Romeo Sabiduria 1708508
lumber (assorted sizes)
0218 06 April 2004 800 board ft. sliced lumber Mylene Moises 1868025
(assorted sizes)
0219 11 March 2004 300 pieces or 1, 200 board Ernesto Aumentado 1708975
ft. sliced lumber (assorted
sizes)
0220 02 Feb. 2004 7,000 board ft. good Carmelita Lorenzo 1708376
lumber
0221 08 Jan. 2004 600 board ft. Malaruhat Nestor Astejada 1623451
0222 10 Dec. 2003 300 pieces good lumber Francisco Mendoza 1623096
0223 18 Nov. 2003 6,432 board ft. assorted Naty Orozco 1483048
species
0224 30 Oct. 2003 8,000 board ft. Malauban Ma. Teresa 1483019
Adornado
0225 21 Oct. 2003 1,770 board ft. good Dante Medina 1482796
lumber (assorted sizes)
0226 21 Oct. 2003 300 board ft. Malaruhat Leonardo S. Aveno 1323271
(assorted sizes)
0227 21 Oct. 2003 10,875 board ft. lumber Annie Gonzales 1323273
(assorted sizes)
0228 20 Oct. 2003 300 board ft. sliced lumber Bernardo Gonzalvo 1482835
0229 17 Oct. 2003 6,090 board ft. lumber Naty Orozco 1482834
0230 17 Oct. 2003 16 pcs. panel door Roy Justo 1482743
(finished product)
0231 01 Oct. 2003 300 board ft. good lumber Analiza Vargas 1482710
(assorted sizes)
0232 01 Oct. 2003 700 board ft. Malaruhat Engr. Mercado 1482760
(assorted sizes)
0233 30 Sept. 2003 500 board ft. sliced lumber Mylene Moises 1482810
(assorted sizes)
0234 29 Sept. 2003 800 board ft. good lumber Wennie Acebuque 1482703
(assorted sizes)
0235 15 Sept. 2003 1,500 board ft. malaruhat Decembrano 1323076
lumber (assorted sizes) Sabiduria
0236 10 Sept. 2003 200 board ft. good lumber Junier Franquia 1323027
(assorted sizes)
0237 29 Aug. 2003 600 board ft. good lumber Annaliza Vargas 1322830
0238 07 Aug. 2003 2,000 board ft. lumber Abilardo dela Cruz 1247200
(assorted sizes)
0239 06 Aug. 2003 1,000 board ft. hardwood Jennifer Nudalo 1322802
0240 25 June 2003 600 board ft. good lumber Roy Justo 1247024
0241 26 May 2003 800 board ft. lumber Adelino Lareza 3651096
0242 26 May 2003 Assorted sizes good lumber Rollie Velasco 3651587
0243 23 May 2003 342 sliced lumber (assorted Dolores S. Gloria 3651499
sizes)
0244 20 May 2003 500 board ft. lumber Marylyn de Loreto/ 3651574
Melita Masilang
0245 02 May 2003 123 pieces sliced lumber Armando Lariza 3651656
(assorted sizes)
0246 17 Feb. 2003 70 pieces sliced lumber Efren Tena/ Romeo 1182204
(assorted sizes) Serafines
0247 07 Feb. 2003 1 piece narra bed; 1 piece Roy D. Justo 1182060
narra panel door; 6 pcs.
Refrigerator stand & 1 pc.
Narra cabinet (finished
product)
0248 05 Dec. 2002 140 pcs. round poles Lamberto R. Ruzol 0943647
0249 20 Nov. 2002 500 board ft. lumber Luz Astoveza 0943618
(assorted sizes)
0250 30 Oct. 2002 1,200 board ft. sliced Arceli Fortunado 0830698
lumber (assorted sizes)
0251 04 Oct. 2002 500 board ft. Huling Roy Justo 0830646
Manok
0252 27 Sept. 2002 300 board ft. sliced lumber Roy Justo 0830625
(assorted sizes)
0253 24 Sept. 2002 1,000 board ft. sliced Inna L. Customerado 0830771
lumber (assorted sizes)
0254 23 Sept. 2002 1,000 board ft. sliced Normelita L. 0830610
lumber (assorted sizes) Curioso
0255 03 Sept. 2002 2,000 pcs. trophy (wood Floredeliza D. 686642
carvings) Espiritu
0256 7 March 2002 2,000 sets trophy (wood Floredeliza D. 090549
carvings) Espiritu
0257 03 Dec. 2001 10,000 sets trophy (wood Floredeliza D. 090769
carvings) Espiritu
0258 12 Sept. 2001 1,075 board ft of sticks & Lea A. Rivera 7786333
1,450 board ft. Bollilo
(assorted sizes)
0259 07 Oct. 2003 Assorted lumber Roy D. Justo 1482765

Considering that the facts are undisputed, the parties during Pre-Trial agreed to dispense with the presentation of testimonial evidence
and submit the case for decision based on the documentary evidence and joint stipulation of facts contained in the Pre-Trial Order.
Thereafter, the accused and the prosecution submitted their respective memoranda. 6

Ruzol's Defense

As summarized by the Sandiganbayan, Ruzol professes his innocence based on following arguments:

(1) As Chief Executive of the municipality of General Nakar, Quezon, he is authorized to issue permits to transport forest
products pursuant to RA 7160 which give the LGU not only express powers but also those powers that are necessarily implied
from the powers expressly granted as well as those that are necessary, appropriate or incidental to the LGU’s efficient and
effective governance. The LGU is likewise given powers that are essential to the promotion of the general welfare of the
inhabitants. The general welfare clause provided in Section 16, Chapter 2, Title One, Book I of R.A. 7160 is a massive grant of
authority that enables LGUs to perform or exercise just about any power that will benefit their local constituencies.

(2) In addition to the foregoing, R.A. 7160 has devolved certain functions and responsibilities of the DENR to the LGU. And the
permits to transport were issued pursuant to the devolved function to manage and control communal forests with an area not
exceeding fifty (50) square kilometers.

(3) The Permits to Transport were issued as an incident to the payment of Transport Fees levied by the municipality for the
use of local public roads for the transport of salvaged forest products. Under (a) Section 5, Article X of the Constitution, (b)
Section 129, Chapter I, Title One Book II of R.A. 7160, and (c) Section 186, Article Five, Chapter 5, Tile One, Book II of R.A.
7160, the municipality is granted the power to create its own sources of revenue and to levy fees in accordance therewith.

(4) The only kind of document the DENR issues relating to log, timber or lumber is denominated "Certificate of Timber Origin"
or CTO for logs and "Certificate of Lumber Origin" or CLO for lumber; hence, even if accused issued the Transport Permits on
his side, a person wanting to transport the said forest products would have to apply and obtain a CTO or CLO from the DENR.
The Transport Permits issued by the accused were never taken as a substitute for the CTO or CLO, and this is the reason why
said permits contain the annotation "Subject to DENR rules, laws and regulations."

(5) There is no proof of conspiracy between the accused. The Transport Permits were issued by accused Sabiduria in his
capacity as Municipal Administrator and his mere issuance is not enough to impute upon the accused Ruzol any transgression
or wrongdoing that may have been committed in the issuance thereof following the ruling in Arias v. Sandiganbayan (180
SCRA 309).

(6) The DENR directly sanctioned and expressly authorized the issuance of the 221 Transport permits through the Provincial
Environment and natural Resources officer Rogelio Delgado Sr., in a Multi-Sectoral Consultative Assembly.

(7) The accused cannot be convicted of Usurpation of Authority since they did not act "under the pretense of official position,"
accused Ruzol having issued the permits in his capacity as Mayor and there was no pretense or misrepresentation on his part
that he was an officer of DENR.7

Ruling of the Sandiganbayan

After due consideration, the Sandiganbayan rendered on December 19, 2008 a Decision, acquitting Sabiduria but finding Ruzol guilty
as charged, to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves these cases as follows:

1. Against the accused LEOVEGILDO R. RUZOL, judgment is hereby rendered finding him GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
of Two Hundred Twenty One (221) counts of the offense of Usurpation of Official Functions as defined and penalized under
Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences him to suffer for each case a straight penalty of SIX (6)
MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY.

However, in the service of his sentences, accused Ruzol shall be entitled to the benefit of the three-fold rule as provided in
Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

2. On the ground of reasonable doubt, accused GUILLERMO M. SABIDURIA is ACQUITTED of all 221 charges. The cash
bond posted by him for his provisional liberty may now be withdrawn by said accused upon presentation of the original receipt
evidencing payment thereof subject to the usual accounting and auditing procedures. The hold departure procedure issued by
this Court dated 16 April 2008 is set aside and the Order issued by the Bureau of Immigration dated 29 April 2008 including
the name of Sabiduria in the Hold Departure List is ordered recalled and cancelled.

SO ORDERED.8

The Sandiganbayan predicated its ruling on the postulate that the authority to issue transport permits with respect to salvaged forest
products lies with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and that such authority had not been devolved to the
local government of General Nakar.9 To the graft court, Ruzol’s issuance of the subject permits constitutes usurpation of the official
functions of the DENR.

The Issue

The critical issue having a determinative bearing on the guilt or innocence of Ruzol for usurpation revolves around the validity of the
subject permits to transport, which in turn resolves itself into the question of whether the authority to monitor and regulate the
transportation of salvaged forest product is solely with the DENR, and no one else.

The Ruling of this Court

The petition is partly meritorious.

Subsidiary Issue:

Whether the Permits to Transport Issued by Ruzol Are Valid

In ruling that the DENR, and not the local government units (LGUs), has the authority to issue transportation permits of salvaged forest
products, the Sandiganbayan invoked Presidential Decree No. 705 (PD 705), otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the
Philippines and in relation to Executive Order No. 192, Series of 1987 (EO 192), or the Reorganization Act of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources.

Section 5 of PD 705 provides:

Section 5. Jurisdiction of Bureau. The Bureau of Forest Management shall have jurisdiction and authority over all forest land, grazing
lands, and all forest reservations including watershed reservations presently administered by other government agencies or
instrumentalities.

It shall be responsible for the protection, development, management, regeneration, and reforestation of forest lands; the regulation and
supervision of the operation of licensees, lessees and permittees for the taking or use of forest products therefrom or the occupancy or
use thereof; the implementation of multiple use and sustained yield management in forest lands; the protection, development and
preservation of national parks, marine parks, game refuges and wildlife; the implementation of measures and programs to prevent
kaingin and managed occupancy of forest and grazing lands; in collaboration with other bureaus, the effective, efficient and economic
classification of lands of the public domain; and the enforcement of forestry, reforestation, parks, game and wildlife laws, rules, and
regulations.

The Bureau shall regulate the establishment and operation of sawmills, veneer and plywood mills and other wood processing plants
and conduct studies of domestic and world markets of forest products. (Emphasis Ours.)

On the other hand, the pertinent provisions of EO 192 state:

SECTION 4. Mandate. The Department shall be the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management,
development, and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands of the public
domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as maybe provided for by law in order to ensure equitable
sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos.

xxxx

SECTION 5. Powers and Functions. To accomplish its mandate, the Department shall have the following functions:

xxxx

(d) Exercise supervision and control over forest lands, alienable and disposal lands, and mineral resources and in the process
of exercising such control the Department shall impose appropriate payments, fees, charges, rentals and any such revenues
for the exploration, development, utilization or gathering of such resources.

xxxx

(j) Regulate the development, disposition, extraction, exploration and use of the country’s forest, land and mineral resources;

(k) Assume responsibility for the assessment, development, protection, conservation, licensing and regulation as provided for
by law, where applicable, of all natural resources; the regulation and monitoring of service contractors, licensees, lessees, and
permittees for the extraction, exploration, development and utilization of natural resources products; the implementation of
programs and measures with the end in view of promoting close collaboration between the government and the private sector;
the effective and efficient classification and sub-classification of lands of the public domain; and the enforcement of natural
resources laws, rules and regulations;
(l) Promulgate rules, regulations and guidelines on the issuance of co-production, joint venture or production sharing
agreements, licenses, permits, concessions, leases and such other privileges and arrangement concerning the development,
exploration and utilization of the country’s natural resources and shall continue to oversee, supervise and police our natural
resources; to cancel or cause to cancel such privileges and arrangement upon failure, non-compliance or violations of any
regulations, orders, and for all other causes which are furtherance of the conservation of natural resources and supportive of
the national interests;

xxxx

(n) Implement measures for the regulation and supervision of the processing of forest products, grading and inspection of
lumber and other forest products and monitoring of the movement of timber and other forest products. (Emphasis Ours.)

Invoked too is DENR Administrative Order No. 2000-78 (DAO 2000-78) which mandates that the permittee should secure the
necessary transport and other related documents before the retrieved wood materials are sold to the buyers/users and/or wood
processing plants.10 DAO 2000-78 obliges the entity or person concerned to secure a Wood Recovery Permit––a "permit issued by the
DENR to gather/retrieve and dispose abandoned logs, drifted logs, sunken logs, uprooted, and fire and typhoon damaged tress, tree
stumps, tops and branches."11 It prescribes that the permittee shall only be allowed to gather or recover logs or timber which had
already been marked and inventoried by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer. 12 To the Sandiganbayan, this
mandatory requirement for Wood Recovery Permit illustrates that DENR is the sole agency vested with the authority to regulate the
transportation of salvaged forest products. 1âwphi 1

The Sandiganbayan further reasoned that the "monitoring and regulating salvaged forest products" is not one of the DENR’s functions
which had been devolved upon LGUs. It cited Sec. 17 of Republic Act No. 7160 (RA 7160) or the Local Government Code (LGC) of
1991 which provides:

Section 17. Basic Services and Facilities. -

(a) Local government units shall endeavor to be self-reliant and shall continue exercising the powers and discharging the duties and
functions currently vested upon them. They shall also discharge the functions and responsibilities of national agencies and offices
devolved to them pursuant to this Code. Local government units shall likewise exercise such other powers and discharge such other
functions and responsibilities as are necessary, appropriate, or incidental to efficient and effective provisions of the basic services and
facilities enumerated herein.

xxxx

(2) For a Municipality:

xxxx

(ii) Pursuant to national policies and subject to supervision, control and review of the DENR, implementation of community-based
forestry projects which include integrated social forestry programs and similar projects; management and control of communal forests
with an area not exceeding fifty (50) square kilometers; establishment of tree parks, greenbelts, and similar forest development
projects. (Emphasis Ours.)

According to the Sandiganbayan, Sec. 17 of the LGC has limited the devolved functions of the DENR to the LGUs to the following: (1)
the implementation of community-based forestry products; (2) management and control of communal forests with an area not
exceeding fifty (50) square kilometers; and (3) establishment of tree parks, greenbelts and similar forest development projects.13 It also
referred to DENR Administrative Order No. 30, Series of 1992 (DAO 1992-30), which enumerates the forest management functions,
programs and projects of the DENR which had been devolved to the LGUs, as follows: 14

Section 3.1 Forest Management

a. Implementation of the following community-based forestry projects:

i. Integrated Social Forestry Projects, currently funded out of regular appropriations, except at least one project per
province that shall serve as research and training laboratory, as identified by the DENR, and those areas located in
protected areas and critical watersheds;

ii. Establishment of new regular reforestation projects, except those areas located in protected areas and critical
watersheds;

iii. Completed family and community-based contract reforestation projects, subject to policies and procedures
prescribed by the DENR;

iv. Forest Land Management Agreements in accordance with DENR Administrative Order No. 71, Series of 1990 and
other guidelines that the DENR may adopt; and

v. Community Forestry Projects, subject to concurrence of financing institution(s), if foreign assisted.

b. Management and control of communal forests with an area not exceeding fifty (50) square kilometers or five thousand
(5,000) hectares, as defined in Section 2, above. Provided, that the concerned LGUs shall endeavor to convert said areas into
community forestry projects;

c. Management, protection, rehabilitation and maintenance of small watershed areas which are sources of local water supply
as identified or to be identified by the DENR; and
d. Enforcement of forest laws in community-based forestry project areas, small watershed areas and communal forests, as
defined in Section 2 above, such as but not limited to:

i. Prevention of forest fire, illegal cutting and kaingin;

ii. Apprehension of violators of forest laws, rules and regulations;

iii. Confiscation of illegally extracted forest products on site;

iv. Imposition of appropriate penalties for illegal logging, smuggling of natural resources products and of endangered
species of flora and fauna, slash and burn farming and other unlawful activities; and

v. Confiscation, forfeiture and disposition of conveyances, equipment and other implements used in the commission
of offenses penalized under P.D. 705 as amended by E.O. 277, series of 1987 and other forestry laws, rules and
regulations.

Provided, that the implementation of the foregoing activities outside the devolved areas above mentioned, shall remain with the DENR.

The Sandiganbayan ruled that since the authority relative to salvaged forest products was not included in the above enumeration of
devolved functions, the correlative authority to issue transport permits remains with the DENR 15and, thus, cannot be exercised by the
LGUs.

We disagree and refuse to subscribe to this postulate suggesting exclusivity. As shall be discussed shortly, the LGU also has, under the
LGC of 1991, ample authority to promulgate rules, regulations and ordinances to monitor and regulate salvaged forest products,
provided that the parameters set forth by law for their enactment have been faithfully complied with.

While the DENR is, indeed, the primary government instrumentality charged with the mandate of promulgating rules and regulations for
the protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources, it is not the only government instrumentality clothed with such
authority. While the law has designated DENR as the primary agency tasked to protect the environment, it was not the intention of the
law to arrogate unto the DENR the exclusive prerogative of exercising this function. Whether in ordinary or in legal parlance, the word
"primary" can never be taken to be synonymous with "sole" or "exclusive." In fact, neither the pertinent provisions of PD 705 nor EO 192
suggest that the DENR, or any of its bureaus, shall exercise such authority to the exclusion of all other government instrumentalities,
i.e., LGUs.

On the contrary, the claim of DENR’s supposedly exclusive mandate is easily negated by the principle of local autonomy enshrined in
the 1987 Constitution16 in relation to the general welfare clause under Sec. 16 of the LGC of 1991, which provides:

Section 16. General Welfare. - Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied
therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are
essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and
support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to
a balanced ecology, encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities,
improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace
and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants. (Emphasis Ours.)

Pursuant to the aforequoted provision, municipal governments are clothed with authority to enact such ordinances and issue such
regulations as may be necessary to carry out and discharge the responsibilities conferred upon them by law, and such as shall be
necessary and proper to provide for the health, safety, comfort and convenience, maintain peace and order, improve public morals,
promote the prosperity and general welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants, and ensure the protection of property in the
municipality.17

As held in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.,18 the right of the people "to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to
refrain from impairing the environment." In ensuring that this duty is upheld and maintained, a local government unit may, if it deems
necessary, promulgate ordinances aimed at enhancing the right of the people to a balanced ecology and, accordingly, provide
adequate measures in the proper utility and conservation of natural resources within its territorial jurisdiction. As can be deduced from
Ruzol’s memoranda, as affirmed by the parties in their Joint Stipulation of Facts, it was in the pursuit of this objective that the subject
permits to transport were issued by Ruzol––to regulate the salvaged forest products found within the municipality of General Nakar and,
hence, prevent abuse and occurrence of any untoward illegal logging in the area. 19

In the same vein, there is a clear merit to the view that the monitoring and regulation of salvaged forest products through the issuance
of appropriate permits is a shared responsibility which may be done either by DENR or by the LGUs or by both. DAO 1992-30, in fact,
says as much, thus: the "LGUs shall share with the national government, particularly the DENR, the responsibility in the sustainable
management and development of the environment and natural resources within their territorial jurisdiction." 20 The significant role of the
LGUs in environment protection is further echoed in Joint Memorandum Circular No. 98-01(JMC 1998-01) or the Manual of Procedures
for DENR-DILG-LGU Partnership on Devolved and other Forest Management Functions, which was promulgated jointly by the DILG
and the DENR in 1998, and provides as follows:

Section 1. Basic Policies

Subject to the general policies on devolution as contained in RA 7160 and DENR Administrative Order No. 30, Series of 1992, the
following basic policies shall govern the implementation of DENR-DILG-LGU partnership on devolved and other forest management
functions:

1.1. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shall be the primary government agency responsible for
the conservation, management, protection, proper use and sustainable development of the country’s environment and natural
resources.
1.2. The LGUs shall share with DENR the responsibility in the sustainable management and development of the forest
resources within their territorial jurisdiction. Toward this end, the DENR and the LGUs shall endeavor to strengthen their
collaboration and partnership in forest management.

1.3. Comprehensive land use and forest land use plans are important tools in the holistic and efficient management of forest
resources. Toward this end, the DENR and the LGUs together with other government agencies shall undertake forest land use
planning as an integral activity of comprehensive land use planning to determine the optimum and balanced use of natural
resources to support local, regional and national growth and development.

1.4. To fully prepare the LGUs to undertake their shared responsibilities in the sustainable management of forest land
resources, the DENR, in coordination with DILG, shall enhance the capacities of the LGUs in the various aspects of forest
management. Initially, the DENR shall coordinate, guide and train the LGUs in the management of the devolved functions. As
the LGUs’ capacity in forest management is enhanced, the primary tasks in the management of devolved functions shall be
performed by the LGUs and the role of the DENR becomes assistive and coordinative.

1.5. To further the ends of local autonomy, the DENR in consultation with the LGUs shall devolved [sic] additional functions
and responsibilities to the local government units, or enter into agreements with them for enlarged forest management and
other ENR-related functions.

1.6. To seek advocacy, popular support and ultimately help achieve community empowerment, DENR and DILG shall forge
the partnership and cooperation of the LGUs and other concerned sectors in seeking and strengthening the participation of
local communities for forest management including enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations. (Emphasis Ours.)

To our mind, the requirement of permits to transport salvaged forest products is not a manifestation of usurpation of DENR’s authority
but rather an additional measure which was meant to complement DENR’s duty to regulate and monitor forest resources within the
LGU’s territorial jurisdiction.

This is consistent with the "canon of legal hermeneutics that instead of pitting one statute against another in an inevitably destructive
confrontation, courts must exert every effort to reconcile them, remembering that both laws deserve respect as the handiwork of
coordinate branches of the government." 21 Hence, if there appears to be an apparent conflict between promulgated statutes, rules or
regulations issued by different government instrumentalities, the proper action is not to immediately uphold one and annul the other, but
rather give effect to both by harmonizing them if possible. 22 Accordingly, although the DENR requires a Wood Recovery Permit, an LGU
is not necessarily precluded from promulgating, pursuant to its power under the general welfare clause, complementary orders, rules or
ordinances to monitor and regulate the transportation of salvaged forest products.

Notwithstanding, We still find that the Permits to Transport issued by Ruzol are invalid for his failure to comply with the procedural
requirements set forth by law for its enforcement.

Then and now, Ruzol insists that the Permit to Transport partakes the nature of transport fees levied by the municipality for the use of
public roads.23 In this regard, he argues that he has been conferred by law the right to issue subject permits as an incident to the LGU’s
power to create its own sources of revenue pursuant to the following provisions of the LGC:

Section 153. Service Fees and Charges. – Local government units may impose and collect such reasonable fees and charges for
services rendered.

xxxx

Section 186. Power to Levy Other Taxes, Fees or Charges. – Local government units may exercise the power to levy taxes, fees or
charges on any base or subject not otherwise specifically enumerated herein or taxed under the provisions of the National Internal
Revenue Code, as amended, or other applicable laws: Provided, That the taxes, fees, or charges shall not be unjust, excessive,
oppressive, confiscatory or contrary to declared national policy: Provided, further, That the ordinance levying such taxes, fees or
charges shall not be enacted without any prior public hearing conducted for the purpose. (Emphasis Ours.)

Ruzol further argued that the permits to transport were issued under his power and authority as Municipal Mayor under Sec. 444 of the
same law:

(iv) Issue licenses and permits and suspend or revoke the same for any violation of the conditions upon which said licenses or permits
had been issued, pursuant to law or ordinance;

xxxx

vii) Adopt adequate measures to safeguard and conserve land, mineral, marine, forest, and other resources of the municipality; provide
efficient and effective property and supply management in the municipality; and protect the funds, credits, rights and other properties of
the municipality. (Emphasis Ours.)

Ruzol is correct to a point. Nevertheless, We find that an enabling ordinance is necessary to confer the subject permits with validity. As
correctly held by the Sandiganbayan, the power to levy fees or charges under the LGC is exercised by the Sangguniang Bayan through
the enactment of an appropriate ordinance wherein the terms, conditions and rates of the fees are prescribed.24 Needless to say, one of
the fundamental principles of local fiscal administration is that "local revenue is generated only from sources expressly authorized by
law or ordinance."25

It is likewise expressly stated in Sec. 444(b)(3)(iv) of the LGC that the authority of the municipal mayor to issue licenses and permits
should be "pursuant to a law or ordinance." It is the Sangguniang Bayan, as the legislative body of the municipality, which is mandated
by law to enact ordinances against acts which endanger the environment, i.e., illegal logging, and smuggling of logs and other natural
resources.26
In this case, an examination of the pertinent provisions of General Nakar’s Revised Municipal Revenue Code 27 and Municipal
Environment Code28 reveals that there is no provision unto which the issuance of the permits to transport may be grounded. Thus, in
the absence of an ordinance for the regulation and transportation of salvaged products, the permits to transport issued by Ruzol are
infirm.

Ruzol’s insistence that his actions are pursuant to the LGU’s devolved function to "manage and control communal forests" under Sec.
17 of the LGC and DAO 1992-3029 is specious. Although We recognize the LGU’s authority in the management and control of
communal forests within its territorial jurisdiction, We reiterate that this authority should be exercised and enforced in accordance with
the procedural parameters established by law for its effective and efficient execution. As can be gleaned from the same Sec. 17 of the
LGC, the LGU’s authority to manage and control communal forests should be "pursuant to national policies and is subject to
supervision, control and review of DENR."

As correctly held by the Sandiganbayan, the term "communal forest" 30 has a well-defined and technical meaning.31Consequently, as an
entity endowed with specialized competence and knowledge on forest resources, the DENR cannot be discounted in the establishment
of communal forest. The DILG, on behalf of the LGUs, and the DENR promulgated JMC 1998-01 which outlined the following
procedure:

Section 8.4 Communal Forest

8.4.1 Existing Communal Forest

The devolution to and management of the communal forest by the city and municipal governments shall be governed by the following
general procedures:

(a) DENR, through its CENRO, and the concerned LGU shall undertake the actual identification and assessment of existing
communal forests. The assessment shall determine the suitability of the existing communal forests. If these are no longer
suitable, then these communal forests may be disestablished. The Approval for disestablishment shall be by the RED upon
recommendation of the DENR-LGU assessment Team through the PENRO and the RTD for Forestry;

(b) Existing communal forest which are found and recommended by the DENR-LGU Assessment Team as still suitable to
achieve their purpose shall be maintained as such. Thereafter, the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Sangguniang Bayan where
the communal forest is located shall pass resolution requesting the DENR Secretary for the turnover of said communal forest
to the city or municipality. Upon receipt of said resolution, the DENR Secretary shall issue an Administrative Order officially
transferring said communal forest to the concerned LGU. The DENR RED shall effect the official transfer to the concerned
LGU within fifteen (15) days from the issuance of the administrative order;

(c) Within twelve months from the issuance of the Administrative Order and turnover of said communal forest to the city or
municipality, the LGU to which the communal forest was transferred shall formulate and submit to the Provincial ENR Council
for approval a management plan governing the sustainable development of the communal forest.

For the purpose of formulating the communal forest management plan, DENR shall, in coordination with the concerned LGU, undertake
a forest resource inventory and determine the sustainable level of forest resource utilization and provide the LGU technical assistance
in all facets of forest management planning to ensure sustainable development. The management plan should include provision for
replanting by the communities and the LGUs of the communal forests to ensure sustainability.

8.4.2 Establishment of New Communal Forest

The establishment of new communal forests shall be governed by the following guidelines:

(a) DENR, through its CENRO, together with the concerned city/municipal LGU shall jointly identify potential communal forest
areas within the geographic jurisdiction of the concerned city/municipality.

(b) Communal forests to be established shall be identified through a forest land use planning to be undertaken jointly between
the DENR and the concerned LGU. The ensuing forest land use plan shall indicate, among others, the site and location of the
communal forests within the production forest categorized as such in the forest land use plan;

(c) Once the forest land use plan has been affirmed, the local chief executive shall initiate the passage by the LGU’s
sanggunian of a resolution requesting the DENR Secretary to issue an Administrative Order declaring the identified area as a
communal forest. The required administrative order shall be issued within sixty (60) days after receipt of the resolution;

(d) Upon acceptance of the responsibility for the communal forest, the city/municipal LGU shall formulate the management
plan and submit the same to its ENR Council. The management plan shall include provision for replanting by the communities
and the LGUs of the communal forests to ensure sustainability.

The communal forests of each municipality shall in no case exceed a total of 5,000 hectares. (Emphasis Ours.)

It is clear, therefore, that before an area may be considered a communal forest, the following requirements must be accomplished: (1)
an identification of potential communal forest areas within the geographic jurisdiction of the concerned city/municipality; (2) a forest land
use plan which shall indicate, among other things, the site and location of the communal forests; (3) a request to the DENR Secretary
through a resolution passed by the Sangguniang Bayan concerned; and (4) an administrative order issued by DENR Secretary
declaring the identified area as a communal forest.

In the present case, the records are bereft of any showing that these requirements were complied with. Thus, in the absence of an
established communal forest within the Municipality of General Nakar, there was no way that the subject permits to transport were
issued as an incident to the management and control of a communal forest.
This is not to say, however, that compliance with abovementioned statutory requirements for the issuance of permits to transport
foregoes the necessity of obtaining the Wood Recovery Permit from the DENR. As earlier discussed, the permits to transport may be
issued to complement, and not substitute, the Wood Recovery Permit, and may be used only as an additional measure in the regulation
of salvaged forest products. To elucidate, a person seeking to transport salvaged forest products still has to acquire a Wood Recovery
Permit from the DENR as a prerequisite before obtaining the corresponding permit to transport issued by the LGU.

Main Issue:

Whether Ruzol Is Guilty of Usurpation of Official Functions

The foregoing notwithstanding, Ruzol cannot be held guilty of Usurpation of Official Functions as defined and penalized under Art. 177
of the RPC, to wit:

Art. 177. Usurpation of authority or official functions. — Any person who shall knowingly and falsely represent himself to be an officer,
agent or representative of any department or agency of the Philippine Government or of any foreign government, or who, under
pretense of official position, shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of the Philippine Government or
any foreign government, or any agency thereof, without being lawfully entitled to do so, shall suffer the penalty of prision correccional in
its minimum and medium periods. (Emphasis Ours.)

As the aforementioned provision is formulated, there are two ways of committing this crime: first, by knowingly and falsely representing
himself to be an officer, agent or representative of any department or agency of the Philippine Government or of any foreign
government; or second, under pretense of official position, shall perform any act pertaining to any person in authority or public officer of
the Philippine Government or any foreign government, or any agency thereof, without being lawfully entitled to do so. 32 The former
constitutes the crime of usurpation of authority, while the latter act constitutes the crime of usurpation of official functions.33

In the present case, Ruzol stands accused of usurpation of official functions for issuing 221 permits to transport salvaged forest
products under the alleged "pretense of official position and without being lawfully entitled to do so, such authority properly belonging to
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources." 34 The Sandiganbayan ruled that all the elements of the crime were attendant
in the present case because the authority to issue the subject permits belongs solely to the DENR. 35

We rule otherwise.

First, it is settled that an accused in a criminal case is presumed innocent until the contrary is proved and that to overcome the
presumption, nothing but proof beyond reasonable doubt must be established by the prosecution. 36As held by this Court in People v.
Sitco:37

The imperative of proof beyond reasonable doubt has a vital role in our criminal justice system, the accused, during a criminal
prosecution, having a stake interest of immense importance, both because of the possibility that he may lose his freedom if convicted
and because of the certainty that his conviction will leave a permanent stain on his reputation and name. (Emphasis supplied.)

Citing Rabanal v. People,38 the Court further explained:

Law and jurisprudence demand proof beyond reasonable doubt before any person may be deprived of his life, liberty, or even property.
Enshrined in the Bill of Rights is the right of the petitioner to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and to overcome the
presumption, nothing but proof beyond reasonable doubt must be established by the prosecution. The constitutional presumption of
innocence requires courts to take "a more than casual consideration" of every circumstance of doubt proving the innocence of
petitioner. (Emphasis added.)

Verily, an accused is entitled to an acquittal unless his or her guilt is shown beyond reasonable doubt and it is the primordial duty of the
prosecution to present its side with clarity and persuasion, so that conviction becomes the only logical and inevitable conclusion, with
moral certainty.39 As explained by this Court in People v. Berroya:40

The necessity for proof beyond reasonable doubt lies in the fact that "(i)n a criminal prosecution, the State is arrayed against the
subject; it enters the contest with a prior inculpatory finding in its hands; with unlimited means of command; with counsel usually of
authority and capacity, who are regarded as public officers, and therefore as speaking semi-judicially, and with an attitude of tranquil
majesty often in striking contrast to that of defendant engaged in a perturbed and distracting struggle for liberty if not for life. These
inequalities of position, the law strives to meet by the rule that there is to be no conviction when there is a reasonable doubt of guilt."

Indeed, proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of proof, excluding possibility of error, produces absolute
certainty; moral certainly only is required, or that degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. 41 However,
contrary to the ruling of the Sandiganbayan, We find that a careful scrutiny of the events surrounding this case failed to prove that Ruzol
is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of committing the crime of usurpation of official functions of the DENR.

We note that this case of usurpation against Ruzol rests principally on the prosecution’s theory that the DENR is the only government
instrumentality that can issue the permits to transport salvaged forest products. The prosecution asserted that Ruzol usurped the official
functions that properly belong to the DENR.

But erstwhile discussed at length, the DENR is not the sole government agency vested with the authority to issue permits relevant to
the transportation of salvaged forest products, considering that, pursuant to the general welfare clause, LGUs may also exercise such
authority. Also, as can be gleaned from the records, the permits to transport were meant to complement and not to replace the Wood
Recovery Permit issued by the DENR. In effect, Ruzol required the issuance of the subject permits under his authority as municipal
mayor and independently of the official functions granted to the DENR. The records are likewise bereft of any showing that Ruzol made
representations or false pretenses that said permits could be used in lieu of, or at the least as an excuse not to obtain, the Wood
Recovery Permit from the DENR.

Second, contrary to the findings of the Sandiganbayan, Ruzol acted in good faith.
It bears stressing at this point that in People v. Hilvano, 42 this Court enunciated that good faith is a defense in criminal prosecutions for
usurpation of official functions.43 The term "good faith" is ordinarily used to describe that state of mind denoting "honesty of intention,
and freedom from knowledge of circumstances which ought to put the holder upon inquiry; an honest intention to abstain from taking
any unconscientious advantage of another, even though technicalities of law, together with absence of all information, notice, or benefit
or belief of facts which render transaction unconscientious." 44 Good faith is actually a question of intention and although something
internal, it can be ascertained by relying not on one’s self-serving protestations of good faith but on evidence of his conduct and
outward acts.45

In dismissing Ruzol’s claim of good faith, the Sandiganbayan reasoned as follows:

If it is really true that Ruzol believed himself to be authorized under R.A. 7160 to issue the subject permits, why did he have to secure
the approval of the various NGOs, People’s Organizations and religious organizations before issuing the said permits? He could very
well have issued subject permits even without the approval of these various organizations if he truly believed that he was legally
empowered to do so considering that the endorsement of these organizations is not required by law. That Ruzol had to arm himself with
their endorsement could only mean that he actually knew that he had no legal basis for issuing the said permits; thus he had to look
elsewhere for support and back-up.46 (Emphasis Ours.)

We, however, cannot subscribe to this posture as there is neither legal basis nor established doctrine to draw a conclusion that good
faith is negated when an accused sought another person’s approval. Neither is there any doctrine in law which provides that bad faith is
present when one seeks the opinion or affirmation of others.

Contrary to the conclusions made by the Sandiganbayan, We find that the conduct of the public consultation was not a badge of bad
faith, but a sign supporting Ruzol’s good intentions to regulate and monitor the movement of salvaged forest products to prevent abuse
and occurrence of untoward illegal logging. In fact, the records will bear that the requirement of permits to transport was not Ruzol’s
decision alone; it was, as earlier narrated, a result of the collective decision of the participants during the Multi-Sectoral Consultative
Assembly. As attested to by Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen, it was the participants who agreed that the subject permits be issued by the
Office of the Mayor of General Nakar, through Ruzol, in the exercise of the latter’s authority as local chief executive. 47

The Sandiganbayan also posits the view that Ruzol’s good faith is negated by the fact that if he truly believed he was authorized to
issue the subject permits, Ruzol did not have to request the presence and obtain the permission of PENRO Rogelio Delgado Sr. during
the Multi-Sectoral Assembly.48

The graft court’s above posture, however, does not commend itself for concurrence. If, indeed, Ruzol willfully and deliberately intended
to usurp the official functions of the DENR as averred by the prosecution, he would not have asked the presence of a DENR official who
has the authority and credibility to publicly object against Ruzol’s allegedly intended usurpation. Thus, the presence of PENRO Delgado
during the Multi-Sectoral Assembly does not negate, but strengthens Ruzol’s claim of good faith.

As a final note, We emphasize that the burden of protecting the environment is placed not on the shoulders of DENR alone––each and
every one of us, whether in an official or private capacity, has his or her significant role to play. Indeed, protecting the environment is
not only a responsibility but also a right for which a citizen could and should freely exercise. Considering the rampant forest denudation,
environmental degradation and plaguing scarcity of natural resources, each of us is now obligated to contribute and share in the
responsibility of protecting and conserving our treasured natural resources.

Ruzol chose to exercise this right and to share in this responsibility by exercising his authority as municipal mayor––an act which was
executed with the concurrence and cooperation of non-governmental organizations, industry stakeholders, and the concerned citizens
of General Nakar. Admittedly, We consider his acts as invalid but it does necessarily mean that such mistakes automatically demand
Us to rule a conviction. This is in consonance with the settled principle that "all reasonable doubt intended to demonstrate error and not
crime should be indulged in for the benefit of the accused." 49

Under our criminal judicial system, "evil intent must unite with the unlawful act for a crime to exist," as "there can be no crime when the
criminal mind is wanting."50 Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea.

In the present case, the prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Ruzol possessed that "criminal mind" when he
issued the subject permits. What is clear from the records is that Ruzol, as municipal mayor, intended to regulate and monitor salvaged
forest products within General Nakar in order to avert the occurrence of illegal logging in the area. We find that to hold him criminally
liable for these seemingly noble intentions would be a step backward and would run contrary to the standing advocacy of encouraging
people to take a pro-active stance in the protection of the environment and conservation of our natural resources.

Incidentally, considering the peculiar circumstances of the present case and considering further that this case demands only the
determination of Ruzol's guilt or innocence for usurpation of official functions under the RPC, for which the issue on the validity of the
subject Permits to Transport is only subsidiary, We hereby resolve this case only for this purpose and only in this instance, pro hac vice,
and, in the interest of justice, rule in favor of Ruzol' s acquittal.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the December 19, 2008 Decision of the Sandiganbayan First Division in Criminal Case Nos. SB-08-
CRIM-0039 to 0259, finding Leovegildo R. Ruzol guilty of violating Art. 177 of the Revised Penal Code, is hereby REVERSED and SET
ASIDE.

Accused Leovegildo R. Ruzol is, thus, ACQUITTED on the basis of reasonable doubt of the crimes as charged.

SO ORDERED.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO*
Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court's Division.

PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice
Chairperson

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court's Division.

MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO


Chief Justice

Footnotes

* Additional member per raffle dated September 16, 2009.

1Penned by Associate Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and concurred in by Presiding Justice Diosdado M. Peralta (now a
member of this Court) and Associate Justice Rodolfo A. Ponferrada.

2 Rollo, pp. 341-342, 155.

3 Id. at 192.

4 Id. at 147-148.

5 Id. at 148-154.

6 Id. at 157.

7
Id. at 159-161.

8 Id. at 193-194.

9 Id. at 161.

DAO 2000-78, entitled Regulations in the Recovery and Disposition, Abandoned Logs, Drifted Logs, Sunken Logs,
10

Uprooted, and Fire/Typhoon Damaged Trees, Tree Stumps, Tops and Branches, Sec. 5.4.

11 Id., Sec. 2.8.

12 Id., Sec. 5.3.

13 Rollo, p. 166.

DAO 1992-30, entitled Guidelines for the Transfer and Implementation of DENR Functions Devolved to Local Government
14

Units.

15 Rollo, p. 166.

16 Art. X, Sec. 2. The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy.

17 Binay v. Domingo, G.R. No. 92389, September 11, 1991, 201 SCRA 508, 514.

18 G.R. No. 101083, July 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 792, 805.
19 Rollo, pp. 156, 187.

20
Sec. 1.2.

21 Batangas CATV, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 138810, September 29, 2004, 439 SCRA 326, 345.

22 Id.

23
Rollo, p. 159.

24 Id. at 188.

25
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE, Sec. 305.

26 Id., Sec. 447(a)(1)(u).

27 Rollo, pp. 461- 578.

28 Id. at 657-670.

29 Id. at 64-65.

30DAO 1992-30, Sec. 2.3. Communal Forest. –– Refers to a tract of forest land set aside by the Secretary of the DENR for the
use of the residents of a municipality from which said residents may cut, collect and remove forest products for their personal
use in accordance with existing laws and regulations.

31 Rollo, p. 171.

32 L.B. Reyes, THE REVISED PENAL CODE, BOOK TWO 241-242 (2006).

33 Gigantoni v. People, No. L-74727, June 16, 1988, 162 SCRA 158, 162-163.

34 Rollo, p. 18.

35 Id. at 191.

36 RULES OF COURT, Rule 133, Sec. 2.

37 G.R. No. 178202, May 14, 2010, 620 SCRA 561, 574.

38 G.R. No. 160858, February 28, 2006, 483 SCRA 601, 617.

39
Amanquiton v. People, G.R. No. 186080, August 14, 2009, 596 SCRA 366, 373.

40 347 Phil. 410, 423 (1997).

41
RULES OF COURT, Rule 133, Sec. 2.

42 99 Phil. 655, 657 (1956).

43In Hilvano, the accused was initially prosecuted for and convicted of "usurpation of public authority" as defined in RA 10.
However, it was later found out that RA 10 was no longer applicable and that the applicable law is Art. 177 of the RPC, as
amended by RA 379. Apparently, the crime of "usurpation of public authority" as designated in RA 10 was redefined and is
presently what we refer to as "usurpation of official functions" defined and penalized under the second portion of Art. 177 of
the RPC. In effect, Hilvano was convicted not of usurpation of authority but of usurpation of official functions.

44 Civil Service Commission v. Maala, G.R. No. 165253, August 18, 2005, 467 SCRA 390, 399; citations omitted.

45 Id.; citing Gabriel v. Mabanta, G.R. No. 142403, March 26, 2003, 399 SCRA 573.

46 Rollo, p. 180.

47 Id. at 156.

48 Id. at 181.

49 L.B. Reyes, THE REVISED PENAL CODE, BOOK TWO 48 (2006).

50 Bahilidad v. People, G.R. No. 185195, March 17, 2010, 615 SCRA 597, 608.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

EN BANC

G.R. No. 192565 February 28, 2012

UNION BANK OF THE, PHILIPPINES and DESI TOMAS, Petitioners,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

DECISION

BRION, J.:

We review in this Rule 45 petition, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 65, Makati City (RTC-Makati City) in Civil Case No.
1

09-1038. The petition seeks to reverse and set aside the RTC-Makati City decision dismissing the petition for certiorari of petitioners
Union Bank of the Philippines (Union Bank) and Desi Tomas (collectively, the petitioners). The RTC found that the Metropolitan Trial
Court, Branch 63, Makati City (MeTC-Makati City) did not commit any grave abuse of discretion in denying the motion to quash the
information for perjury filed by Tomas.

The Antecedents

Tomas was charged in court for perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for making a false narration in a Certificate
against Forum Shopping. The Information against her reads:

That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful statements under oath upon a
material matter before a competent person authorized to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in the
Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil] Case No.
342-00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the Philippines has not commenced any other action or
proceeding involving the same issues in another tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said material statement was false
thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood. 2

The accusation stemmed from petitioner Union Bank’s two (2) complaints for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin against the
spouses Eddie and Eliza Tamondong and a John Doe. The first complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-0717, was filed before the
RTC, Branch 109, Pasay City on April 13, 1998. The second complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 342-000, was filed on March 15,
2000 and raffled to the MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City. Both complaints showed that Tomas executed and signed the Certification
against Forum Shopping. Accordingly, she was charged of deliberately violating Article 183 of the RPC by falsely declaring under oath
in the Certificate against Forum Shopping in the second complaint that she did not commence any other action or proceeding involving
the same issue in another tribunal or agency.

Tomas filed a Motion to Quash, citing two grounds. First, she argued that the venue was improperly laid since it is the Pasay City court
3

(where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was submitted and used) and not the MeTC-Makati City (where the Certificate against
Forum Shopping was subscribed) that has jurisdiction over the perjury case. Second, she argued that the facts charged do not
constitute an offense because: (a) the third element of perjury – the willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood – was not alleged with
particularity without specifying what the other action or proceeding commenced involving the same issues in another tribunal or agency;
(b) there was no other action or proceeding pending in another court when the second complaint was filed; and (c) she was charged
with perjury by giving false testimony while the allegations in the Information make out perjury by making a false affidavit.

The MeTC-Makati City denied the Motion to Quash, ruling that it has jurisdiction over the case since the Certificate against Forum
Shopping was notarized in Makati City. The MeTC-Makati City also ruled that the allegations in the Information sufficiently charged
4

Tomas with perjury. The MeTC-Makati City subsequently denied Tomas’ motion for reconsideration.
5 6

The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC-Makati City to annul and set aside the MeTC-Makati City orders on the
ground of grave abuse of discretion. The petitioners anchored their petition on the rulings in United States v. Canet and Ilusorio v.
7

Bildner which ruled that venue and jurisdiction should be in the place where the false document was presented.
8

The Assailed RTC Decision

In dismissing the petition for certiorari, the RTC-Makati City held:

[I]nsofar as the petitioner’s stance is concerned[,] the more recent case of [Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy] (GR Nos. 174168 & 179438, March
30, 2009) however, reaffirms what has been the long standing view on the venue with respect to perjury cases. In this particular case[,]
the high court reiterated the rule that the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the
offense was committed, or where any of its essential ingredients occurred. It went on to declare that since the subject document[,] the
execution of which was the subject of the charge[,] was subscribed and sworn to in Manila[,] then the court of the said territorial
jurisdiction was the proper venue of the criminal action[.]

xxxx

x x x Given the present state of jurisprudence on the matter, it is not amiss to state that the city court of Makati City has jurisdiction to
try and decide the case for perjury inasmuch as the gist of the complaint itself which constitute[s] the charge against the petitioner
dwells solely on the act of subscribing to a false certification. On the other hand, the charge against the accused in the case of Ilusorio
v. Bildner, et al., based on the complaint-affidavits therein[,] was not simply the execution of the questioned documents but rather the
introduction of the false evidence through the subject documents before the court of Makati City. (emphasis ours)
9
The RTC-Makati City ruled that the MeTC-Makati City did not commit grave abuse of discretion since the order denying the Motion to
Quash was based on jurisprudence later than Ilusorio. The RTC-Makati City also observed that the facts in Ilusorio are different from
the facts of the present case. Lastly, the RTC-Makati City ruled that the Rule 65 petition was improper since the petitioners can later
appeal the decision in the principal case. The RTC-Makati City subsequently denied the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration. 10

The Petition

The petitioners pray that we reverse the RTC-Makati City decision and quash the Information for perjury against Tomas. The petitioners
contend that the Ilusorio ruling is more applicable to the present facts than our ruling in Sy Tiong Shiou v. Sy Chim. They argued that
11

the facts in Ilusorio showed that the filing of the petitions in court containing the false statements was the essential ingredient that
consummated the perjury. In Sy Tiong, the perjurious statements were made in a General Information Sheet (GIS) that was submitted
to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Interestingly, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz shared the petitioners’ view. In his Manifestation and Motion in lieu of Comment
(which we hereby treat as the Comment to the petition), the Solicitor General also relied on Ilusorio and opined that the lis mota in the
crime of perjury is the deliberate or intentional giving of false evidence in the court where the evidence is material. The Solicitor General
observed that the criminal intent to assert a falsehood under oath only became manifest before the MeTC-Pasay City.

The Issue

The case presents to us the issue of what the proper venue of perjury under Article 183 of the RPC should be – Makati City, where the
Certificate against Forum Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the trial court.

The Court’s Ruling

We deny the petition and hold that the MeTC-Makati City is the proper venue and the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury
case against the petitioners.

Venue of Action and Criminal Jurisdiction

Venue is an essential element of jurisdiction in criminal cases. It determines not only the place where the criminal action is to be
instituted, but also the court that has the jurisdiction to try and hear the case. The reason for this rule is two-fold. First, the jurisdiction of
trial courts is limited to well-defined territories such that a trial court can only hear and try cases involving crimes committed within its
territorial jurisdiction. Second, laying the venue in the locus criminis is grounded on the necessity and justice of having an accused on
12

trial in the municipality of province where witnesses and other facilities for his defense are available. 13

Unlike in civil cases, a finding of improper venue in criminal cases carries jurisdictional consequences. In determining the venue where
the criminal action is to be instituted and the court which has jurisdiction over it, Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure provides:

(a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the court or municipality or territory where the
offense was committed or where any of its essential ingredients occurred. [emphasis ours]

The above provision should be read in light of Section 10, Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states:

Place of commission of the offense. – The complaint or information is sufficient if it can be understood from its allegations that the
offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court, unless the
particular place where it was committed constitutes an essential element of the offense charged or is necessary for its identification.

Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over criminal cases not only in the court where the offense was
committed, but also where any of its essential ingredients took place. In other words, the venue of action and of jurisdiction are deemed
sufficiently alleged where the Information states that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred at a place
within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

Information Charging Perjury

Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, contains the requirement for a Certificate against Forum
Shopping. The Certificate against Forum Shopping can be made either by a statement under oath in the complaint or initiatory pleading
asserting a claim or relief; it may also be in a sworn certification annexed to the complaint or initiatory pleading. In both instances, the
affiant is required to execute a statement under oath before a duly commissioned notary public or any competent person authorized to
administer oath that: (a) he or she has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in any court,
tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his or her knowledge, no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is
such other pending action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he or she should thereafter learn that
the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, he or she shall report that fact within five days therefrom to the court
wherein his or her aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. In relation to the crime of perjury, the material matter in a
Certificate against Forum Shopping is the truth of the required declarations which is designed to guard against litigants pursuing
simultaneous remedies in different fora. 14

In this case, Tomas is charged with the crime of perjury under Article 183 of the RPC for making a false Certificate against Forum
Shopping. The elements of perjury under Article 183 are:

(a) That the accused made a statement under oath or executed an affidavit upon a material matter.

(b) That the statement or affidavit was made before a competent officer, authorized to receive and administer oath.

(c) That in the statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful and deliberate assertion of a falsehood.
(d) That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity is required by law or made for a legal purpose. (emphasis ours)
15

Where the jurisdiction of the court is being assailed in a criminal case on the ground of improper venue, the allegations in the complaint
and information must be examined together with Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. On this
basis, we find that the allegations in the Information sufficiently support a finding that the crime of perjury was committed by Tomas
within the territorial jurisdiction of the MeTC-Makati City.

The first element of the crime of perjury, the execution of the subject Certificate against Forum Shopping was alleged in the Information
to have been committed in Makati City. Likewise, the second and fourth elements, requiring the Certificate against Forum Shopping to
be under oath before a notary public, were also sufficiently alleged in the Information to have been made in Makati City:

That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful statements under oath upon a
material matter before a competent person authorized to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in the
Verification/Certification/Affidavit x x x.
16

We also find that the third element of willful and deliberate falsehood was also sufficiently alleged to have been committed in Makati
City, not Pasay City, as indicated in the last portion of the Information:

[S]aid accused stated in the Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin
docketed as [Civil] Case No. 342-00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the Philippines has not
commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in another tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said
material statement was false thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood. (underscoring ours)
17

Tomas’ deliberate and intentional assertion of falsehood was allegedly shown when she made the false declarations in the Certificate
against Forum Shopping before a notary public in Makati City, despite her knowledge that the material statements she subscribed and
swore to were not true. Thus, Makati City is the proper venue and MeTC-Makati City is the proper court to try the perjury case against
Tomas, pursuant to Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure as all the essential elements constituting
the crime of perjury were committed within the territorial jurisdiction of Makati City, not Pasay City.

Referral to the En Banc

The present case was referred to the En Banc primarily to address the seeming conflict between the division rulings of the Court in the
Ilusorio case that is cited as basis of this petition, and the Sy Tiong case that was the basis of the assailed RTC-Makati City ruling.

The Cited Ilusorio and Sy Tiong Cases

The subject matter of the perjury charge in Ilusorio involved false statements contained in verified petitions filed with the court for the
issuance of a new owner’s duplicate copies of certificates of title. The verified petitions containing the false statements were subscribed
and sworn to in Pasig City, but were filed in Makati City and Tagaytay City. The question posed was: which court (Pasig City, Makati
City and/or Tagaytay City) had jurisdiction to try and hear the perjury cases?

We ruled that the venues of the action were in Makati City and Tagaytay City, the places where the verified petitions were filed. The
Court reasoned out that it was only upon filing that the intent to assert an alleged falsehood became manifest and where the alleged
untruthful statement found relevance or materiality. We cited as jurisprudential authority the case of United States. v. Cañet which
18

ruled:

It is immaterial where the affidavit was subscribed and sworn, so long as it appears from the information that the defendant, by means
of such affidavit, "swore to" and knowingly submitted false evidence, material to a point at issue in a judicial proceeding pending in the
Court of First Instance of Iloilo Province. The gist of the offense charged is not the making of the affidavit in Manila, but the intentional
giving of false evidence in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo Province by means of such affidavit. [emphasis and underscoring deleted]

In Sy Tiong, the perjured statements were made in a GIS which was subscribed and sworn to in Manila. We ruled that the proper venue
for the perjury charges was in Manila where the GIS was subscribed and sworn to. We held that the perjury was consummated in
Manila where the false statement was made. As supporting jurisprudence, we cited the case of Villanueva v. Secretary of Justice that, 19

in turn, cited an American case entitled U.S. v. Norris. We ruled in Villanueva that –
20

Perjury is an obstruction of justice; its perpetration well may affect the dearest concerns of the parties before a tribunal. Deliberate
material falsification under oath constitutes the crime of perjury, and the crime is complete when a witness' statement has once been
made.

The Crime of Perjury: A Background

To have a better appreciation of the issue facing the Court, a look at the historical background of how the crime of perjury (specifically,
Article 183 of the RPC) evolved in our jurisdiction.

The RPC penalizes three forms of false testimonies. The first is false testimony for and against the defendant in a criminal case
(Articles 180 and 181, RPC); the second is false testimony in a civil case (Article 182, RPC); and the third is false testimony in other
cases (Article 183, RPC). Based on the Information filed, the present case involves the making of an untruthful statement in an affidavit
on a material matter.

These RPC provisions, however, are not really the bases of the rulings cited by the parties in their respective arguments. The cited
Ilusorio ruling, although issued by this Court in 2008, harked back to the case of Cañet which was decided in 1915, i.e., before the
present RPC took effect. Sy Tiong, on the other hand, is a 2009 ruling that cited Villanueva, a 2005 case that in turn cited United
21

States v. Norris, a 1937 American case. Significantly, unlike Canet, Sy Tiong is entirely based on rulings rendered after the present
RPC took effect. 22
The perjurious act in Cañet consisted of an information charging perjury through the presentation in court of a motion accompanied by a
false sworn affidavit. At the time the Cañet ruling was rendered, the prevailing law on perjury and the rules on prosecution of criminal
offenses were found in Section 3, Act No. 1697 of the Philippine Commission, and in Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No.
58 for the procedural aspect.
23

Section 3 of Act No. 1697 reads:

Sec. 3. Any person who, having taken oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the Philippine
Islands authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony,
declaration, disposition, or certificate by him subscribed is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material
matter which he does not believe to be true, is guilty of perjury, and shall be punished by a fine of not more than two thousand pesos
and by imprisonment for not more than five years; and shall moreover, thereafter be incapable of holding any public office or of giving
testimony in any court of the Philippine Islands until such time as the judgment against him is reversed.

This law was copied, with the necessary changes, from Sections 5392 and 5393 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. Act No.
24 25 26

1697 was intended to make the mere execution of a false affidavit punishable in our jurisdiction. 27

In turn, Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No. 58 provided that the venue shall be the court of the place where the crime was
committed.

As applied and interpreted by the Court in Cañet, perjury was committed by the act of representing a false document in a judicial
proceeding. The venue of action was held by the Court to be at the place where the false document was presented since the
28

presentation was the act that consummated the crime.

The annotation of Justices Aquino and Griño-Aquino in their textbook on the RPC interestingly explains the history of the perjury
29

provisions of the present RPC and traces as well the linkage between Act No. 1697 and the present Code. To quote these authors: 30

Art. 180 was taken from art. 318 of the Old Penal Code and art. 154 of Del Pan’s Proposed Correctional Code, while art. 181 was taken
from art. 319 of the old Penal Code and Art. 157 of Del Pan’s Proposed Correctional Code. Said arts. 318 and 319, together with art.
321 of the old Penal Code, were impliedly repealed by Act 1697, the Perjury Law, passed on August 23, 1907, which in turn was
expressly repealed by the Administrative Code of 1916, Act 2657. In view of the express repeal of Act 1697, arts. 318 and 321 of the
old Penal Code were deemed revived. However, Act 2718 expressly revived secs. 3 and 4 of the Perjury Law. Art. 367 of the Revised
Penal Code repealed Act Nos. 1697 and 2718.

It should be noted that perjury under Acts 1697 and 2718 includes false testimony, whereas, under the Revised Penal Code, false
testimony includes perjury. Our law on false testimony is of Spanish origin, but our law on perjury (art. 183 taken from sec. 3 of Act
1697) is derived from American statutes. The provisions of the old Penal Code on false testimony embrace perjury committed in court
or in some contentious proceeding, while perjury as defined in Act 1697 includes the making of a false affidavit. The provisions of the
Revised Penal Code on false testimony "are more severe and strict than those of Act 1697" on perjury. [italics ours]

With this background, it can be appreciated that Article 183 of the RPC which provides:

The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person,
who knowingly makes untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding articles, shall testify under
oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the
law so requires. [emphasis supplied; emphases ours]

in fact refers to either of two punishable acts – (1) falsely testifying under oath in a proceeding other than a criminal or civil case; and (2)
making a false affidavit before a person authorized to administer an oath on any material matter where the law requires an oath.

As above discussed, Sy Tiong – decided under Article 183 of the RPC – essentially involved perjured statements made in a GIS that
was subscribed and sworn to in Manila and submitted to the SEC in Mandaluyong City. Thus, the case involved the making of an
affidavit, not an actual testimony in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil. From this perspective, the situs of the oath, i.e., the
place where the oath was taken, is the place where the offense was committed. By implication, the proper venue would have been the
City of Mandaluyong – the site of the SEC – had the charge involved an actual testimony made before the SEC.

In contrast, Cañet involved the presentation in court of a motion supported and accompanied by an affidavit that contained a falsity.
With Section 3 of Act No. 1697 as basis, the issue related to the submission of the affidavit in a judicial proceeding. This came at a time
when Act No. 1697 was the perjury law, and made no distinction between judicial and other proceedings, and at the same time
separately penalized the making of false statements under oath (unlike the present RPC which separately deals with false testimony in
criminal, civil and other proceedings, while at the same time also penalizing the making of false affidavits). Understandably, the venue
should be the place where the submission was made to the court or the situs of the court; it could not have been the place where the
affidavit was sworn to simply because this was not the offense charged in the Information.

The case of Ilusorio cited the Cañet case as its authority, in a situation where the sworn petitions filed in court for the issuance of
duplicate certificates of title (that were allegedly lost) were the cited sworn statements to support the charge of perjury for the falsities
stated in the sworn petitions. The Court ruled that the proper venue should be the Cities of Makati and Tagaytay because it was in the
courts of these cities "where the intent to assert an alleged falsehood became manifest and where the alleged untruthful statement
finds relevance or materiality in deciding the issue of whether new owner’s duplicate copies of the [Certificate of Condominium Title]
and [Transfer Certificates of Title] may issue." To the Court, "whether the perjurious statements contained in the four petitions were
31

subscribed and sworn in Pasig is immaterial, the gist of the offense of perjury being the intentional giving of false statement," citing
32

Cañet as authority for its statement.

The statement in Ilusorio may have partly led to the present confusion on venue because of its very categorical tenor in pointing to the
considerations to be made in the determination of venue; it leaves the impression that the place where the oath was taken is not at all a
material consideration, forgetting that Article 183 of the RPC clearly speaks of two situations while Article 182 of the RPC likewise
applies to false testimony in civil cases.
The Ilusorio statement would have made perfect sense had the basis for the charge been Article 182 of the RPC, on the assumption
that the petition itself constitutes a false testimony in a civil case. The Cañet ruling would then have been completely applicable as the
sworn statement is used in a civil case, although no such distinction was made under Cañet because the applicable law at the time (Act
No. 1697) did not make any distinction.

If Article 183 of the RPC were to be used, as what in fact appears in the Ilusorio ruling, then only that portion of the article, referring to
the making of an affidavit, would have been applicable as the other portion refers to false testimony in other proceedings which a
judicial petition for the issuance of a new owner’s duplicate copy of a Certificate of Condominium Title is not because it is a civil
proceeding in court. As a perjury based on the making of a false affidavit, what assumes materiality is the site where the oath was taken
as this is the place where the oath was made, in this case, Pasig City.

Procedurally, the rule on venue of criminal cases has been subject to various changes from the time General Order No. 58 was
replaced by Rules 106 to 122 of the Rules of Court on July 1, 1940. Section 14, Rule 106 of the Rules of Court provided for the rule on
venue of criminal actions and it expressly included, as proper venue, the place where any one of the essential ingredients of the crime
took place. This change was followed by the passage of the 1964 Rules of Criminal Procedure, the 1985 Rules of Criminal
1âwphi 1
33

Procedure, and the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which all adopted the 1940 Rules of Criminal Procedure’s expanded
34

venue of criminal actions. Thus, the venue of criminal cases is not only in the place where the offense was committed, but also where
any of its essential ingredients took place.

In the present case, the Certification against Forum Shopping was made integral parts of two complaints for sum of money with prayer
for a writ of replevin against the respondent spouses Eddie Tamondong and Eliza B. Tamondong, who, in turn, filed a complaint-
affidavit against Tomas for violation of Article 183 of the RPC. As alleged in the Information that followed, the criminal act charged was
for the execution by Tomas of an affidavit that contained a falsity.

Under the circumstances, Article 183 of the RPC is indeed the applicable provision; thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined
on the basis of this article which penalizes one who "make[s] an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person
authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires." The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit;
thus, the criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is subscribed and sworn before a duly authorized person.

Based on these considerations, we hold that our ruling in Sy Tiong is more in accord with Article 183 of the RPC and Section 15(a),
Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. To reiterate for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench, the crime of perjury
committed through the making of a false affidavit under Article 183 of the RPC is committed at the time the affiant subscribes and
swears to his or her affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of perjury are executed. When the crime is
committed through false testimony under oath in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, venue is at the place where the
testimony under oath is given. If in lieu of or as supplement to the actual testimony made in a proceeding that is neither criminal nor
civil, a written sworn statement is submitted, venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is submitted or where the
oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the submission are both material ingredients of the crime committed. In all cases,
determination of venue shall be based on the acts alleged in the Information to be constitutive of the crime committed.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition for lack of merit. Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO DIOSDADO M. PERALTA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

(On Leave)
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO*
Associate Justice
Associate Justice

ROBERTO A. ABAD MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

(On Leave)
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO**
Associate Justice
Associate Justice

ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in
consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

RENATO C. CORONA
Chief Justice

Footnotes

* On official leave.

** On leave.

1
Dated April 28, 2010; rollo, pp. 137-143.

2
Id. at 11.

3
Id. at 29-37.

4
Order dated March 26, 2009; rollo, pp. 55-56.

5
Id. at 56.

6
Order dated August 28, 2009, pp. 69-70.

7
30 Phil. 371 (1915).

8
G.R. Nos. 173935-38, December 23, 2008, 575 SCRA 272.

9
Rollo, pp. 142-143.

10
Order dated June 9, 2010; id. at 154.

11
G.R. Nos. 174168 and 179438, March 30, 2009, 582 SCRA 517.

12
United States v. Cunanan, 26 Phil. 376 (1913).

13
Parulan v. Reyes, 78 Phil 855 (1947).

14
Torres v. Specialized Packaging Development Corporation, G.R. No. 149634, July 6, 2004, 433 SCRA 455.

15
Monfort III v. Salvatierra, G.R. No. 168301, March 5, 2007, 517 SCRA 447, 461.

16
Supra note 2.

17
Ibid.

18
Supra note 7, at 378.

19
G.R. No. 162187, November 18, 2005, 475 SCRA 495, 512.

300 U.S. 564 (1937). The perjury was based on a false testimony by the defendant at the hearing before the Senate
20

Committee in Nebraska.

21
The Penal Code for the Philippines which took effect from July 19, 1887 to December 31, 1931.

22
Took effect on January 1, 1932.

23
Entitled "The Law on Criminal Procedure" which took effect on April 23, 1900.

Every person who, having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the
24

United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written
testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or
subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true, is guilty of perjury.

25
The law refers to subornation of perjury.
26
United States v. Concepcion, 13 Phil. 424 (1909).

27
Id. at 428-429.

28
People v. Cruz, et al., 197 Phil. 815 (1982).

29
Ramon C. Aquino and Carolina Griño-Aquino, 2 The Revised Penal Code, 1997 ed.

30
Id. at 301-302.

31
Ilusorio v. Bildner, supra note 8, at 283.

32
Id. at 284.

33
Section 14, Rule 110. Place where action is to be instituted. -

(a) In all criminal prosecutions the action shall be instituted and tried in the Court of the municipality or province
wherein the offense was committed or any one of the essential ingredients thereof took place.

34
Section 15, Rule 110. Place where action is to be instituted. –

(a) Subject to existing laws, in all criminal prosecutions the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of the
municipality or territory wherein the offense was committed or any one of the essential ingredients thereof took place.

The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. Nos. 163972-77 March 28, 2008

JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN, Petitioner,


vs.
THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN Respondent.

DECISION

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:

Joselito Raniero J. Daan (petitioner), one of the accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 24167-24170, 24195-24196,1questions the denial by
the Sandiganbayan of his plea bargaining proposal.

The antecedents facts are laid down by Sandiganbayan in its Resolution dated March 25, 2004, as follows:

Said accused,2 together with accused Benedicto E. Kuizon, were charged before this Court for three counts of malversation of public
funds involving the sums of ₱3,293.00, ₱1,869.00, and ₱13,528.00, respectively, which they purportedly tried to conceal by falsifying
the time book and payrolls for given period making it appear that some laborers worked on the construction of the new municipal hall
building of Bato, Leyte and collected their respective salaries thereon when, in truth and in fact, they did not. Thus, in addition to the
charge for malversation, the accused were also indicted before this Court for three counts of falsification of public document by a public
officer or employee.

In the falsification cases, the accused offered to withdraw their plea of "not guilty" and substitute the same with a plea of "guilty",
provided, the mitigating circumstances of confession or plea of guilt and voluntary surrender will be appreciated in their favor. In the
alternative, if such proposal is not acceptable, said accused proposed instead to substitute their plea of "not guilty" to the crime of
falsification of public document by a public officer or employee with a plea of "guilty", but to the lesser crime of falsification of a public
document by a private individual. On the other hand, in the malversation cases, the accused offered to substitute their plea of "not
guilty" thereto with a plea of "guilty", but to the lesser crime of failure of an accountable officer to render accounts.

Insofar as the falsification cases are concerned, the prosecution found as acceptable the proposal of the accused to plead "guilty" to the
lesser crime of falsification of public document by a private individual. The prosecution explained:

"With respect to the falsification cases earlier mentioned, it appears that the act of the accused in pleading guilty for a lesser offense of
falsification by a private individual defined and penalized under Article 172 of the Revised Penal code will strengthen our cases against
the principal accused, Municipal Mayor Benedicto Kuizon, who appears to be the master mind of these criminal acts."

Insofar as the malversation cases are concerned, the prosecution was likewise amenable to the offer of said accused to plead "guilty"
to the lesser crime of failure of an accountable officer to render accounts because:

"x x x JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN has already restituted the total amount of ₱18,860.00 as per official receipt issued by the
provincial government of Leyte dated February 26, 2002. In short, the damage caused to the government has already been restituted x
x x.3
The Sandiganbayan, in the herein assailed Resolution,4 dated March 25, 2004, denied petitioner’s Motion to Plea Bargain, despite
favorable recommendation by the prosecution, on the main ground that no cogent reason was presented to justify its approval. 5

The Sandiganbayan likewise denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration in a Resolution dated May 31, 2004.

This compelled petitioner to file the present case for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining
order and/ or writ of preliminary injunction under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

Petitioner argues that the Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in denying his plea bargaining offer on the following
grounds: first, petitioner is not an accountable officer and he merely affixed his signature on the payrolls on a "routinary basis," negating
any criminal intent; and that the amount involved is only ₱18,860.00, which he already restituted. 6

The petition is meritorious.

Plea bargaining in criminal cases is a process whereby the accused and the prosecution work out a mutually satisfactory disposition of
the case subject to court approval. It usually involves the defendant's pleading guilty to a lesser offense or to only one or some of the
counts of a multi-count indictment in return for a lighter sentence than that for the graver charge. 7

Plea bargaining is authorized under Section 2, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, to wit:

SEC. 2. Plea of guilty to a lesser offense. — At arraignment, the accused, with the consent of the offended party and the prosecutor,
may be allowed by the trial court to plead guilty to a lesser offense which is necessarily included in the offense charged. After
arraignment but before trial, the accused may still be allowed to plead guilty to said lesser offense after withdrawing his plea of not
guilty. No amendment of the complaint or information is necessary. (sec. 4, cir. 38-98)

Ordinarily, plea bargaining is made during the pre-trial stage of the proceedings. Sections 1 and 2, Rule 118 of the Rules of Court,
require plea bargaining to be considered by the trial court at the pre-trial conference,8 viz:

SEC. 1. Pre-trial; mandatory in criminal cases. – In all criminal cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, Regional Trial Court,
Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Municipal Trial Court and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, the court shall, after
arraignment and within thirty (30) days from the date the court acquires jurisdiction over the person of the accused, unless a shorter
period is provided for in special laws or circulars of the Supreme Court, order a pre-trial conference to consider the following:

(a) plea bargaining;

(b) stipulation of facts;

(c) marking for identification of evidence of the parties;

(d) waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence;

(e) modification of the order of trial if the accused admits the charge but interposes a lawful defense; and

(f) such matters as will promote a fair and expeditious trial of the criminal and civil aspects of the case.

SEC. 2. Pre-trial agreement. – All agreements or admissions made or entered during the pre-trial conference shall be reduced in writing
and signed by the accused and counsel, otherwise, they cannot be used against the accused. The agreements covering the matters
referred to in section 1 of this Rule shall be approved by the court. (Emphasis supplied)

But it may also be made during the trial proper and even after the prosecution has finished presenting its evidence and rested its case.
Thus, the Court has held that it is immaterial that plea bargaining was not made during the pre-trial stage or that it was made only after
the prosecution already presented several witnesses.9

Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court presents the basic requisites upon which plea bargaining may be made, i.e., that it should be
with the consent of the offended party and the prosecutor, 10 and that the plea of guilt should be to a lesser offense which is necessarily
included in the offense charged. The rules however use word may in the second sentence of Section 2, denoting an exercise of
discretion upon the trial court on whether to allow the accused to make such plea. 11 Trial courts are exhorted to keep in mind that a plea
of guilty for a lighter offense than that actually charged is not supposed to be allowed as a matter of bargaining or compromise for the
convenience of the accused.12

In People of the Philippines v. Villarama,13 the Court ruled that the acceptance of an offer to plead guilty to a lesser offense is not
demandable by the accused as a matter of right but is a matter that is addressed entirely to the sound discretion of the trial court,14 viz:

x x x In such situation, jurisprudence has provided the trial court and the Office of the Prosecutor with a yardstick within which their
discretion may be properly exercised. Thus, in People v. Kayanan (L-39355, May 31, 1978, 83 SCRA 437, 450), We held that the rules
allow such a plea only when the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to establish the guilt of the crime charged. In his
concurring opinion in People v. Parohinog (G.R. No. L-47462, February 28, 1980, 96 SCRA 373, 377), then Justice Antonio Barredo
explained clearly and tersely the rationale or the law:

x x x (A)fter the prosecution had already rested, the only basis on which the fiscal and the court could rightfully act in allowing the
appellant to change his former plea of not guilty to murder to guilty to the lesser crime of homicide could be nothing more nothing less
than the evidence already in the record. The reason for this being that Section 4 of Rule 118 (now Section 2, Rule 116) under which a
plea for a lesser offense is allowed was not and could not have been intended as a procedure for compromise, much less
bargaining.15 (Emphasis supplied)
However, Villarama involved plea bargaining after the prosecution had already rested its case.

As regards plea bargaining during the pre-trial stage, as in the present case, the trial court's exercise of its discretion should neither be
arbitrary nor should it amount to a capricious and whimsical exercise of discretion. Grave abuse of discretion implies such capricious
and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction or, in other words, where the power is exercised in an
arbitrary manner by reason of passion, prejudice, or personal hostility; and it must be so patent or gross as to amount to an evasion of a
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by law, or to act at all in contemplation of law.16

In the present case, the Sandiganbayan rejected petitioner's plea offer on the ground that petitioner and the prosecution failed to
demonstrate that the proposal would redound to the benefit of the public. The Sandiganbayanbelieves that approving the proposal
would "only serve to trivialize the seriousness of the charges against them and send the wrong signal to potential grafters in public
office that the penalties they are likely to face would be lighter than what their criminal acts would have merited or that the economic
benefits they are likely to derive from their criminal activities far outweigh the risks they face in committing them; thus, setting to naught
the deterrent value of the laws intended to curb graft and corruption in government." 17 1avv phi 1

Apparently, the Sandiganbayan has proffered valid reasons in rejecting petitioner's plea offer. However, subsequent events and higher
interests of justice and fair play dictate that petitioner's plea offer should be accepted. The present case calls for the judicious exercise
of this Court's equity jurisdiction -

Equity as the complement of legal jurisdiction seeks to reach and do complete justice where courts of law, through the inflexibility of
their rules and want of power to adapt their judgments to the special circumstances of cases, are incompetent so to do. Equity regards
the spirit of and not the letter, the intent and not the form, the substance rather than the circumstance, as it is variously expressed by
different courts.18

and of its power of control and supervision over the proceedings of lower courts, 19 in order to afford equal justice to petitioner.

In People of the Philippines v. Estrada,20 the Sandiganbayan, in its Resolution dated March 14, 2007, approved the Plea Bargaining
Agreement entered into by the prosecution and one of the accused, Charlie "Atong" Ang. The agreement provided that the accused
undertakes to assist in the prosecution of the case and promises to return the amount of ₱25,000,000.00. In approving the Plea
Bargaining Agreement, the Sandiganbayan took into consideration the timeliness of the plea bargaining and whether the agreement
complied with the requirements of Section 2, Rule 116 of the Rules of Court. The Sandigabayan noted that the accused had already
withdrawn his earlier plea of "not guilty"; and that the prosecution consented to the plea of guilt to a lesser offense; and the lesser
offense, which is Corruption of Public Officials in relation to Indirect Bribery, is necessarily included in the offense charged, which is
Plunder.21

The Court sees no reason why the standards applied by the Sandiganbayan to Estrada should not be applied to the present case.
Records show that there was a favorable recommendation by the Office of the Special Prosecutor to approve petitioner's motion to plea
bargain. Thus, in its Memorandum dated August 16, 2002, the Office of the Special Prosecutor rationalized:

In the cases at bar, there is no dispute that JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN has already restituted the total amount of ₱18,860.00 as per
official receipt issued by the provincial government of Leyte dated February 26, 2002. In short, the damage caused to the government
has already been restituted by the accused.

There is also no dispute that accused DAAN voluntarily surrendered in the instant cases. Moreover, the accused is also willing to plead
guilty to a lesser offense which to our mind, merits consideration.

With respect to the falsification cases earlier mentioned, it appears that the act of the accused in pleading guilty for a lesser offense of
falsification by private individual defined and penalized under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code will strengthen our cases against
the principal accused, the Municipal Mayor Benedicto Kuizon, who appears to be the master mind of these criminal acts. After all, the
movants herein JOSELITO RANIERO J. DAAN was merely designated as draftsman detailed as foreman/timekeeper of the
Municipality of Bato, Leyte.22

Moreover, the lesser offenses of Falsification by Private Individuals and Failure to Render Account by an Accountable Officer are
necessarily included in the crimes of Falsification of Public Documents and Malversation of Public Funds, respectively, with which
petitioner was originally charged.

Under Article 171, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code, for the crime of Falsification of Public Documents through an untruthful
narration of facts to be established, the following elements must concur: (a) the offender makes in a document untruthful statements in
a narration of facts; (b) the offender has a legal obligation to disclose the truth of the facts narrated; (c) the facts narrated by the
offender are absolutely false; and (d) the perversion of truth in the narration of facts was made with the wrongful intent of injuring a third
person.23

On the other hand, Falsification by Private Individuals penalized under Article 172, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code has the
following elements: (a) the offender is a private individual or a public officer or employee who did not take advantage of his
official position; (b) the offender committed any of the acts of falsification enumerated under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code;
and (c) the falsification was committed in a public or official or commercial document. 24

As regards the crime of Malversation of Public Funds defined and penalized under Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, with which
petitioner was also charged, the elements are as follows: (a) the offender is a public officer; (b) he has custody or control of funds or
property by reason of the duties of his office; (c) the funds or property involved are public funds or property for which he is accountable;
and (d) he has appropriated, taken or misappropriated, or has consented to, or through abandonment or negligence permitted, the
taking by another person of such funds or property.25 Article 217 also provides that the failure of the public officer to have duly
forthcoming such public funds or property, upon demand by a duly authorized officer, "shall be prima facie evidence that he has put
such missing funds or property to personal use." In this regard, it has been ruled that once such presumption is rebutted, then it is
completely destroyed; in fact, the presumption is never deemed to have existed at all.26

Meanwhile, under Article 218 of the Revised Penal Code, Failure to Render Account by an Accountable Officer, the lesser offense
which petitioner seeks to plead guilty of, the following elements must concur: (a) the offender is a public officer; (b) the offender must be
an accountable officer for public funds or property; (c) the offender is required by law or regulation to render accounts to the COA or to
a provincial auditor; and (d) the offender fails to render an account for a period of two months after such accounts should be rendered.27

Section 5, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court states when an offense includes or is included in the other, to wit:

SEC. 5. When an offense includes or is included in another. — An offense charged necessarily includes the offense proved when some
of the essential elements or ingredients of the former, as alleged in the complaint or information, constitute the latter. And 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.

An offense may be said to necessarily include another when some of the essential elements or ingredients of the former as
alleged in the complaint or information constitute the latter. And vice versa, an offense may be said to be necessarily included in
another when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or form part of those constituting the latter. 28

In this case, the allegations in the Informations filed against petitioner are sufficient to hold petitioner liable for the lesser offenses. Thus,
in the charge for Falsification of Public Documents, petitioner may plead guilty to the lesser offense of Falsification by Private
Individuals inasmuch as it does not appear that petitioner took advantage of his official position in allegedly falsifying the timebook and
payroll of the Municipality of Bato, Leyte. In the same vein, with regard to the crime of Malversation of Public Funds, while the
Informations contain allegations which make out a case for Malversation against petitioner, nevertheless, absent the element of
conversion, theoretically, petitioner may still be held liable for Failure to Render Account by an Accountable Officer if it is shown that the
failure to render account was in violation of a law or regulation that requires him to render such an accounting within the prescribed
period.

Given, therefore, that some of the essential elements of offenses charged in this case likewise constitute the lesser offenses, then
petitioner may plead guilty to such lesser offenses.

Finally, as propounded by petitioner, indeed, he is not an accountable officer in that the nature of his duty as foreman/timekeeper does
not permit or require possession or custody of local government funds,29 not to mention that petitioner has already restituted the amount
of ₱18,860.00 involved in this case. Unlike Estrada which involves a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua to death, 30 and a whopping
₱25,000,000.00 taken from the public coffers, this case tremendously pales in comparison.

Under the peculiar circumstances of the present case, where gross inequity will result in a discriminatory dispensation of justice, the
Court will not hesitate to intervene in order to equalize the imbalance.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Resolutions dated March 25, 2004 and May 31, 2004 are SETASIDE.
The Sandiganbayan is hereby ORDERED to grant petitioner's Motion to Plea Bargain. Let records of this case be REMANDED to
the Sandiganbayan for further proceedings in accordance with this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson

WE CONCUR:

DANTE O. TINGA*
Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RUBEN T. REYES
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court’s Division.

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice
Acting Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Acting Chairperson’s Attestation, it is hereby certified that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Court’s Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
Footnotes

* In lieu of Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, per Special Order No. 497 dated March 14, 2008.

1 Entitled, "People of the Philippines, Plaintiff, v. Benedicto E. Kuizon, et al."

2 Herein petitioner and Rosalina T. Tulibas.

3 Rollo, pp. 15-18.

4Penned by Associate Justice Gregory S. Ong with the concurrence of Associate Justices Norberto Y. Geraldez and Efren N.
de la Cruz.

5 Rollo, p. 26.

6 Rollo, pp. 8-10.

7 People of the Philippines v. Villarama, Jr., G.R. No. 99287, June 23, 1992, 210 SCRA 246, 251-252.

8
Ladino v. Garcia, 333 Phil. 254, 258 (1996); see also A.M. No. 03-1-09-SC dated July 13, 2004 (RE: PROPOSED RULE ON
GUIDELINES TO BE OBSERVED BY TRIAL COURT JUDGES AND CLERKS OF COURT IN THE CONDUCT OF PRE-
TRIAL AND USE OF DEPOSITION-DISCOVERY MEASURES).

9 People of the Philippines v. Mamarion, 459 Phil. 51, 75 (2003).

10 People of the Philippines v. Dawaton, 437 Phil. 861, 871 (2002).

11 People of the Philippines v. Besonia, 466 Phil. 822, 833 (2004).

12
People of the Philippines v. Judge Kayanan, 172 Phil. 728, 739 (1978).

13 G.R. No. 99287, June 23, 1992, 210 SCRA 246.

14
Id. at 252.

15 Id. at 252-253.

16 People of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 159261, February 21, 2007, 516 SCRA 383, 398.

17 Rollo, pp. 20-21.

18
Poso v. Judge Mijares, 436 Phil. 295, 324 (2002).

19 Madrigal Transport, Inc. v. Lapanday Holdings Corporation, G.R. No. 156067, August 11, 2004, 436 SCRA 123, 134-135.

20 Sandiganbayan Criminal Case No. 26558.

21 Id. at 10-13.

22 Rollo, pp. 42-43.

Enemecio v. Office of the Ombudsman, 464 Phil. 102, 114 (2004); Lumancas v. Intas, 400 Phil. 785, 798 (2000); Lecaroz v.
23

Sandiganbayan, 364 Phil. 890, 909 (1999).

Reyes,Luis B., The Revised Penal Code (1981); see also Adaza v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 154886, July 28, 2005, 464
24

SCRA 460, 472.

25
Revised Penal Code, Article 217; see Rueda, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, 400 Phil. 142, 153-154 (2000).

26 Agullo v. Sandiganbayan, 414 Phil. 86, 98 (2001).

Revised Penal Code, Article 218; see Campomanes v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 161950, December 19, 2006, 511
27

SCRA 285, 295.

28Pecho v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 111399, November 14, 1994, 238 SCRA 116, 136; Teehankee, Jr. v. Madayag, G.R. No.
103102, March 6, 1992, 207 SCRA 134, 141.

Local Government Code, Section 340; see Frias, Sr. v. People of the Philippines, G.R. No. 171437, October 4, 2007, 534
29

SCRA 654, 662.

Republic Act No. 7080 (1991), Sec. 2. (An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder), as amended by Republic Act
30

No. 7659 (1993).


The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 143591 November 23, 2007

TEODORO C. BORLONGAN, JR., CORAZON M. BEJASA, ARTURO E. MANUEL, JR., ERIC L. LEE, P. SIERVO H. DIZON,
BENJAMIN DE LEON, DELFIN C. GONZALEZ, JR., and BEN YU LIM, JR., Petitioners,
vs.
MAGDALENO M. PEÑA and HON. MANUEL Q. LIMSIACO, JR., as Judge Designate of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Bago
City, Respondents.

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

For review is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated June 20, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 49666 dismissing the petition for
certiorari filed by petitioners Teodoro C. Borlongan, Jr., Corazon M. Bejasa, Arturo Manuel, Jr., Benjamin de Leon, P. Siervo Dizon,
Delfin C. Gonzalez, Jr., Eric Lee and Ben T. Lim, Jr.

The factual and procedural antecedents of the case are as follows:

Respondent Magdaleno Peña instituted a civil case for recovery of agent’s compensation and expenses, damages, and attorney’s
fees,2 against Urban Bank and the petitioners, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Negros Occidental, Bago City. The case was
raffled to Branch 62 and was docketed as Civil Case No. 754. Respondent anchored his claim for compensation on the contract of
agency3 allegedly entered into with the petitioners wherein the former undertook to perform such acts necessary to prevent any intruder
and squatter from unlawfully occupying Urban Bank’s property located along Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. Petitioners filed a Motion to
Dismiss4 arguing that they never appointed the respondent as agent or counsel. Attached to the motion were the following documents:
1) a letter5 dated December 19, 1994 signed by Herman Ponce and Julie Abad on behalf of Isabela Sugar Company, Inc. (ISCI), the
original owner of the subject property; 2) an unsigned letter 6 dated December 7, 1994 addressed to Corazon Bejasa from Marilyn G.
Ong; 3) a letter7 dated December 9, 1994 addressed to Teodoro Borlongan and signed by Marilyn G. Ong; and 4) a
Memorandum8 dated November 20, 1994 from Enrique Montilla III. Said documents were presented in an attempt to show that the
respondent was appointed as agent by ISCI and not by Urban Bank or by the petitioners.

In view of the introduction of the above-mentioned documents, respondent Peña filed his Complaint-Affidavit9 with the Office of the City
Prosecutor, Bago City.10 He claimed that said documents were falsified because the alleged signatories did not actually affix their
signatures, and the signatories were neither stockholders nor officers and employees of ISCI. 11 Worse, petitioners introduced said
documents as evidence before the RTC knowing that they were falsified.

In a Resolution12 dated September 23, 1998, the City Prosecutor concluded that the petitioners were probably guilty of four (4) counts of
the crime of Introducing Falsified Documents penalized by the second paragraph of Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). The
City Prosecutor concluded that the documents were falsified because the alleged signatories untruthfully stated that ISCI was the
principal of the respondent; that petitioners knew that the documents were falsified considering that the signatories were mere
dummies; and that the documents formed part of the record of Civil Case No. 754 where they were used by petitioners as evidence in
support of their motion to dismiss, adopted in their answer and later, in their Pre-Trial Brief.13 Subsequently, the corresponding
Informations14were filed with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Bago City. The cases were docketed as Criminal Cases Nos.
6683, 6684, 6685, and 6686. Thereafter, Judge Primitivo Blanca issued the warrants 15 for the arrest of the petitioners.

On October 1, 1998, petitioners filed an Omnibus Motion to Quash, Recall Warrants of Arrest and/or For Reinvestigation. 16 Petitioners
insisted that they were denied due process because of the non-observance of the proper procedure on preliminary investigation
prescribed in the Rules of Court. Specifically, they claimed that they were not afforded the right to submit their counter-affidavit. They
then argued that since no such counter-affidavit and supporting documents were submitted by the petitioners, the trial judge merely
relied on the complaint-affidavit and attachments of the respondent in issuing the warrants of arrest, also in contravention of the Rules.
Petitioners further prayed that the information be quashed for lack of probable cause. Lastly, petitioners posited that the criminal case
should have been suspended on the ground that the issue being threshed out in the civil case is a prejudicial question.

In an Order17 dated November 13, 1998, the court denied the omnibus motion primarily on the ground that preliminary investigation was
not available in the instant case --- which fell within the jurisdiction of the MTCC. The court, likewise, upheld the validity of the warrant of
arrest, saying that it was issued in accordance with the Rules. Besides, the court added, petitioners could no longer question the validity
of the warrant since they already posted bail. The court also believed that the issue involved in the civil case was not a prejudicial
question, and thus, denied the prayer for suspension of the criminal proceedings. Lastly, the court was convinced that the Informations
contained all the facts necessary to constitute an offense.

Petitioners subsequently instituted a special civil action for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and
TRO, before the CA ascribing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of the MTCC in issuing
and not recalling the warrants of arrest, reiterating the arguments in their omnibus motion. 18 They, likewise, questioned the court’s
conclusion that by posting bail, petitioners already waived their right to assail the validity of the warrant of arrest.

On June 20, 2000, the CA dismissed the petition.19 Hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of
Court. Petitioners now raise before us the following issues:

A.

Where the offense charged in a criminal complaint is not cognizable by the Regional Trial Court and not covered by the Rule on
Summary Procedure, is the finding of probable cause required for the filing of an Information in court?
If the allegations in the complaint-affidavit do not establish probable cause, should not the investigating prosecutor dismiss the
complaint, or at the very least, require the respondent to submit his counter-affidavit?

B.

Can a complaint-affidavit containing matters which are not within the personal knowledge of the complainant be sufficient basis for the
finding of probable cause?

C.

Where the offense charged in a criminal complaint is not cognizable by the Regional Trial Court and not covered by the Rule on
Summary Procedure, and the record of the preliminary investigation does not show the existence of probable cause, should not the
judge refuse to issue a warrant of arrest and dismiss the criminal case, or at the very least, require the accused to submit his counter-
affidavit in order to aid the judge in determining the existence of probable cause?

D.

Can a criminal prosecution be restrained?

E.

Can this Honorable Court itself determine the existence of probable cause? 20

On August 2, 2000, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) 21 enjoining the judge of the MTCC from proceeding in any
manner with Criminal Cases Nos. 6683 to 6686, effective during the entire period that the case is pending before, or until further orders
of, this Court.

With the MTCC proceedings suspended, we now proceed to resolve the issues raised.

Respondents contend that the foregoing issues had become moot and academic when the petitioners posted bail and were arraigned.

We do not agree.

It appears that upon the issuance of the warrant of arrest, petitioners immediately posted bail as they wanted to avoid embarrassment
being then the officers of Urban Bank. On the scheduled date for the arraignment, despite the petitioners’ refusal to enter a plea, the
court entered a plea of "Not Guilty."

The earlier ruling of this Court that posting of bail constitutes a waiver of the right to question the validity of the arrest has already been
superseded by Section 26,22 Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Furthermore, the principle that the accused is
precluded from questioning the legality of his arrest after arraignment is true only if he voluntarily enters his plea and participates during
trial, without previously invoking his objections thereto.23

Records reveal that petitioners filed the omnibus motion to quash the information and warrant of arrest, and for reinvestigation, on the
same day that they posted bail. Their bail bonds likewise expressly contained a stipulation that they were not waiving their right to
question the validity of their arrest.24 On the date of the arraignment, the petitioners refused to enter their plea, obviously because the
issue of the legality of the information and their arrest was yet to be settled by the Court. This notwithstanding, the court entered a plea
of "Not Guilty." From these circumstances, we cannot reasonably infer a valid waiver on the part of the petitioners, as to preclude them
from raising the issue of the validity of the arrest before the CA and eventually before this Court.

In their petition filed before this Court, petitioners prayed for a TRO to restrain the MTCC from proceeding with the criminal cases
(which the Court eventually issued on August 2, 2000). Thus, we confront the question of whether a criminal prosecution can be
restrained, to which we answer in the affirmative.

As a general rule, the Court will not issue writs of prohibition or injunction, preliminary or final, to enjoin or restrain criminal prosecution.
However, the following exceptions to the rule have been recognized: 1) when the injunction is necessary to afford adequate protection
to the constitutional rights of the accused; 2) when it is necessary for the orderly administration of justice or to avoid oppression or
multiplicity of actions; 3) when there is a prejudicial question which is sub judice; 4) when the acts of the officer are without or in excess
of authority; 5) where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance or regulation; 6) when double jeopardy is clearly apparent; 7)
where the Court has no jurisdiction over the offense; 8) where it is a case of persecution rather than prosecution; 9) where the charges
are manifestly false and motivated by the lust for vengeance; and 10) when there is clearly no prima facie case against the accused
and a motion to quash on that ground has been denied.25

Considering that the issues for resolution involve the validity of the information and warrant of arrest, and considering further that no
waiver of rights may be attributed to the petitioners as earlier discussed, we issued a TRO on August 2, 2000 to give the Court the
opportunity to resolve the case before the criminal prosecution is allowed to continue. The nature of the crime and the penalty involved
(which is less than 4 years of imprisonment), likewise, necessitate the suspension of the case below in order to prevent the controversy
from being mooted.

We now proceed with the main issues, viz.: 1) whether petitioners were deprived of their right to due process of law because of the
denial of their right to preliminary investigation and to submit their counter-affidavit; 2) whether the Informations charging the petitioners
were validly filed and the warrants for their arrest were properly issued; and 3) whether this Court can, itself, determine probable cause.

As will be discussed below, the petitioners could not validly claim the right to preliminary investigation. Still, petitioners insist that they
were denied due process because they were not afforded the right to submit counter-affidavits which would have aided the court in
determining the existence of probable cause. 26 Petitioners also claim that the respondent’s complaint-affidavit was not based on the
latter’s personal knowledge; hence, it should not have been used by the court as basis in its finding of probable cause. 27 Moreover,
petitioners aver that there was no sufficient evidence to prove the elements of the crime. Specifically, it was not established that the
documents in question were falsified; that petitioners were the ones who presented the documents as evidence; and that petitioners
knew that the documents were indeed falsified.28 Petitioners likewise assert that at the time of the filing of the complaint-affidavit, they
had not yet formally offered the documents as evidence; hence, they could not have "introduced" the same in court. 29 Considering the
foregoing, petitioners pray that this Court, itself, determine whether or not probable cause exists. 30

The pertinent provisions of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, 31 namely, Sections 1, 3 (a) and 9(a) of Rule 112, are relevant to the
resolution of the aforesaid issues:

SECTION 1. Definition. – Preliminary investigation is an inquiry or proceeding for the purpose of determining whether there is sufficient
ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime cognizable by the Regional Trial Court has been committed and that the
respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial.32

SEC. 3. Procedure. – Except as provided for in Section 7 hereof, no complaint or information for an offense cognizable by the Regional
Trial Court shall be filed without a preliminary investigation having been first conducted in the following manner:

(a) The complaint shall state the known address of the respondent and be accompanied by affidavits of the complainant and his
witnesses as well as other supporting documents, in such number of copies as there are respondents, plus two (2) copies of the official
file. The said affidavits shall be sworn to before any fiscal, state prosecutor or government official authorized to administer oath, or, in
their absence or unavailability, a notary public, who must certify that he personally examined the affiants and that he is satisfied that
they voluntarily executed and understood their affidavits. 33

SEC. 9. Cases not falling under the original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts not covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure. –

(a) Where filed with the fiscal. – If the complaint is filed directly with the fiscal or state prosecutor, the procedure outlined in Section 3 (a)
of this Rule shall be observed. The Fiscal shall take appropriate action based on the affidavits and other supporting documents
submitted by the complainant.34

Petitioners were charged with the offense defined and penalized by the second paragraph of Article 172 35 of the Revised Penal Code.
The penalty imposable is arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period, or four (4) months and one
(1) day to two (2) years and four (4) months. Clearly, the case is cognizable by the Municipal Trial Court and preliminary investigation is
not mandatory.36

Records show that the prosecutor relied merely on the complaint-affidavit of the respondent and did not require the petitioners to submit
their counter-affidavits. The prosecutor should not be faulted for taking this course of action, because it is sanctioned by the Rules. To
reiterate, upon the filing of the complaint and affidavit with respect to cases cognizable by the MTCC, the prosecutor shall take the
appropriate action based on the affidavits and other supporting documents submitted by the complainant. It means that the prosecutor
may either dismiss the complaint if he does not see sufficient reason to proceed with the case, or file the information if he finds probable
cause. The prosecutor is not mandated to require the submission of counter-affidavits. Probable cause may then be determined on the
basis alone of the affidavits and supporting documents of the complainant, without infringing on the constitutional rights of the
petitioners.

On the other hand, for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the judge must personally determine the existence of probable cause. Again,
the petitioners insist that the trial judge erred in issuing the warrant of arrest without affording them their right to submit their counter-
affidavits.

Section 2, Article III of the Constitution provides:

SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures
of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable
cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he
may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

What the Constitution underscores is the exclusive and personal responsibility of the issuing judge to satisfy himself of the existence of
probable cause. But the judge is not required to personally examine the complainant and his witnesses. Following established doctrine
and procedure, he shall (1) personally evaluate the report and the supporting documents submitted by the prosecutor regarding the
existence of probable cause, and on the basis thereof, he may already make a personal determination of the existence of probable
cause; and (2) if he is not satisfied that probable cause exists, he may disregard the prosecutor’s report and require the submission of
supporting affidavits of witnesses to aid him in arriving at a conclusion as to the existence of probable cause. 37

In determining probable cause for the issuance of the warrant of arrest in the case at bench, we find nothing wrong with the procedure
adopted by the trial judge --- he relied on the resolution of the prosecutor, as well as the supporting documents submitted by the
respondent. There is no provision of law or procedural rule which makes the submission of counter-affidavits mandatory before the
judge can determine whether or not there exists probable cause to issue the warrant.

In light of the foregoing, it appears that the proper procedure was followed by the prosecutor in determining probable cause for the filing
of the informations, and by the trial court judge in determining probable cause for the issuance of the warrants of arrest. To reiterate,
preliminary investigation was not mandatory, and the submission of counter-affidavit was not necessary. 1âwphi1

However, notwithstanding the proper observance of the procedure laid down by the Rules, a closer scrutiny of the records reveals that
the Informations should not have been filed and the warrants of arrest should not have been issued, because of lack of probable cause.

Probable cause, for purposes of filing a criminal information, has been defined as such facts as are sufficient to engender a well-
founded belief that a crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof. 38 It is the existence of such facts and
circumstances as would excite the belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the
person charged was guilty of the crime for which he is to be prosecuted. 39 A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence
showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been committed and that it was committed by the accused. 40
On the other hand, we have defined probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest as the existence of such facts and
circumstances that would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent person to believe that an offense has been committed by the person
sought to be arrested.41

To accord respect to the discretion granted to the prosecutor and for reasons of practicality, this Court, as a rule, does not interfere with
the prosecutor’s determination of probable cause. Otherwise, courts would be swamped with petitions to review the prosecutor’s
findings in such investigations.42 In the same way, the general rule is that this Court does not review the factual findings of the trial
court, which include the determination of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest.43 It is only in exceptional cases when
this Court may set aside the conclusions of the prosecutor and the trial judge on the existence of probable cause, that is, when it is
necessary to prevent the misuse of the strong arm of the law or to protect the orderly administration of justice. 44 The facts obtaining in
the present case warrant the application of the exception.

Petitioners were charged with violation of par. 2, Article 172 of the RPC or Introduction of Falsified Document in a Judicial Proceeding.
The elements of the offense are as follows:

1. That the offender knew that a document was falsified by another person.

2. That the false document is embraced in Article 171 or in any subdivisions No. 1 or 2 of Article 172.

3. That he introduced said document in evidence in any judicial proceeding.45

The falsity of the document and the defendant’s knowledge of its falsity are essential elements of the offense. 46

The Office of the City Prosecutor filed the Informations against the petitioners on the basis of the complaint-affidavit of the respondent,
together with the following attached documents: the motion to dismiss and answer filed by the petitioners in Civil Case No. 754;
petitioners’ pre-trial brief in said case; the alleged falsified documents; a copy of the minutes of the regular meeting of ISC during the
election of the board; and the list of stockholders of ISC.47 On the basis of these documents and on the strength of the affidavit
executed by the respondent, the prosecutor concluded that probable cause exists. These same affidavit and documents were used by
the trial court in issuing the warrant of arrest.

Contrary to the findings of the MTCC, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, we find the complaint-affidavit and attachments insufficient
to support the existence of probable cause. Specifically, the respondent failed to sufficiently establish prima facie that the alleged
documents were falsified. In support of his claim of falsity of the documents, the private respondent stated in his complaint-affidavit that
Herman Ponce, Julie Abad and Marilyn Ong, the alleged signatories of the questioned letters, did not actually affix their signatures; and
that they were not actually officers or stockholders of ISCI. 48 He further claimed that Enrique Montilla’s signature appearing in another
memorandum addressed to respondent was forged. 49 These are mere assertions, insufficient to warrant the filing of the complaint or the
issuance of the warrant of arrest.

It must be emphasized that the affidavit of the complainant, or any of his witnesses, shall allege facts within their (affiants) personal
knowledge. The allegation of the respondent that the signatures of Ponce, Abad, Ong and Montilla were falsified does not qualify as
personal knowledge. Nowhere in said affidavit did respondent state that he was present at the time of the execution of the documents.
Neither did he claim that he was familiar with the signatures of the signatories. He simply made a bare assertion that the signatories
were mere dummies of ISCI and they were not in fact officers, stockholders or representatives of the corporation. At the very least, the
affidavit was based on respondent’s "personal belief" and not "personal knowledge." 50 Considering the lack of personal knowledge on
the part of the respondent, he could have submitted the affidavit of other persons who are qualified to attest to the falsity of the
signatures appearing in the questioned documents. One cannot just claim that a certain document is falsified without further stating the
basis for such claim, i.e., that he was present at the time of the execution of the document or he is familiar with the signatures in
question. Otherwise, this could lead to abuse and malicious prosecution. This is actually the reason for the requirement that affidavits
must be based on the personal knowledge of the affiant. The requirement assumes added importance in the instant case where the
accused were not made to rebut the complainant’s allegation through counter-affidavits.

Neither can the respondent find support in the documents attached to his complaint-affidavit. The minutes of the regular meeting, as
well as the list of stockholders, could have possibly shown that the signatories were not officers or stockholders of the corporation.
However, they did not at all show that the questioned documents were falsified. In the letter allegedly signed by Ponce and Abad, there
was no representation that they were the president and corporate secretary of ISCI. Besides, the mere fact that they were not officers
or stockholders of ISCI does not necessarily mean that their signatures were falsified. They still could have affixed their signatures as
authorized representatives of the corporation.

True, a finding of probable cause need not be based on clear and convincing evidence, or on evidence beyond reasonable doubt. It
does not require that the evidence would justify conviction. Nonetheless, although the determination of probable cause requires less
than evidence which would justify conviction, it should at least be more than mere suspicion.51 While probable cause should be
determined in a summary manner, there is a need to examine the evidence with care to prevent material damage to a potential
accused’s constitutional right to liberty and the guarantees of freedom and fair play, and to protect the State from the burden of
unnecessary expenses in prosecuting alleged offenses and holding trials arising from false, fraudulent or groundless charges.52 It is,
therefore, imperative for the prosecutor to relieve the accused from the pain and inconvenience of going through a trial once it is
ascertained that no probable cause exists to form a sufficient belief as to the guilt of the accused. 53

Considering that the respondent failed to adduce sufficient evidence to support his claim that the documents were falsified, it follows
that the introduction of the questioned documents in Civil Case No. 754 is not an offense punished by any provision of the Revised
Penal Code or any other law. The petitioners should not be burdened with court proceedings, more particularly a criminal proceeding, if
in the first place, there is no evidence sufficient to engender a well-founded belief that an offense was committed.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals, dated June 20, 2000, in CA-G.R. SP No. 49666 is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Temporary Restraining Order dated August 2, 2000 is hereby made permanent. Accordingly, the
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, City of Bago, is ORDERED to DISMISS Criminal Case Nos. 6683-86.

SO ORDERED.
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO


Associate Justice Associate Justice

RUBEN T. REYES
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Court’s Division.

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Third Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution and the Division Chairperson's Attestation, I certify that the conclusions in the
above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Footnotes

1Penned by Associate Justice Romeo A. Brawner, with Associate Justices Quirino D. Abad Santos, Jr. and Andres B. Reyes,
Jr., concurring; rollo, pp. 50-60.

2 Rollo, pp. 61-66.

3 The cont