PEOPLE vs. SALANGGA and LOPEZ GR No.

100910, 25 July 1994 Facts: A certain Imelda went missing and found dead. It was apparent that she was raped because her panty was missing. Prior to her disappearance, two people saw her with the accused-appellant (Salangga) walking ahead of her and kept on looking backwards and the other accused (Lopez) walking behind her. After the discovery of Imelda’s cadaver, the two accused were arrested and bodily searched. The missing panty of the deceased was found in accused-appellant’s possession. They were also ordered to undress and found scratch and bite marks all over accused-appellant’s body. Accused-appellant was made to sign an unsworn statement handwritten by some other person wherein he admitted the crime charged, except that he failed to rape Imelda because the latter fought hard against him. However, accused-appellant’s version was different from the above, stating that he was only invited to the house of the barangay captain and, while there, he and the other accused were asked if they had something to do with the death of Imelda. When they both denied the participation, they were brought to a military camp and, while they were there, they were subjected to physical maltreatment. It was also claimed that accused-appellant was forced to bring the panty and a pair of slippers (he was kicked hard when he refused) and was made to sign in a document supposedly about his food but turned out to be his extrajudicial confession. Issue: Did the trial court err in convicting the accused-appellant of the crime charged on the basis of the evidence presented against him? Ruling: Yes, the trial court erred in convicting the accused-appellant. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment and acquitted accused-appellant. The Supreme Court ruled that applying the exclusionary rule, the evidence against the accusedappellant must not be admitted as evidence since his fundamental right was violated when he was arrested without a warrant, his warrantless arrest does not fall under Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court, and his right against unreasonable searches on and seizure of his own body was violated also. Any exception to such right must be strictly construed for it is a fundamental right. Therefore, the panty that was found in the possession of the accused is inadmissible in evidence for being a fruit of a poisonous tree. The Supreme Court also ruled that, assuming arguendo that accused appellant was seen walking ahead of the victim, the only circumstantial evidence against him, such could not lead a prudent man to conclude that he was the one responsible for Imelda’s death. Section 5 of Rule 133 provides that circumstantial evidence will only suffice when the following requirements are present: (a) there is more than one circumstance, (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven, and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. In this case, there is only one circumstantial evidence and a poor inference which alone cannot sustain the conviction of the accused-appellant.