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JURISTS BAR REVIEW CENTER

NOTES ON CRIMINAL LAW


By: Atty. Modesto A. Ticman, Jr.
Construction of penal laws
Penal or criminal laws are strictly construed against the state and liberally in favor of the accused. If
the language of the law were ambiguous, the court will lean more strongly in favor of the defendant than it
would if the statute were remedial, as a means of effecting substantial justice.1
Prospectivity of Philippine criminal laws
The law looks forward, never backward. Lex prospicit, non respicit. A new law has a prospective,
not retroactive, effect. However, penal laws that favor a guilty person, who is not a habitual criminal, shall
be given retroactive effect. These are the rule, the exception and exception to the exception on effectivity
of laws.2
Motive
Proof of motive is not indispensable for a conviction, particularly where the accused is positively
identified by an eyewitness and his participation is adequately established.
Motive becomes material only when the evidence is circumstantial or inconclusive and there is some
doubt on whether the accused had committed it.3 It assumes significance only where there is no showing
of who the perpetrator of the crime was,4 when the identity of the culprit is doubtful,5 or in ascertaining the
truth as between two antagonistic theories or versions of the killing.6
Alibi and denial as defenses
It is elementary that alibi and denial are outweighed by positive identification that is categorical,
consistent and untainted by any ill motive on the part of the eyewitness testifying on the matter. Alibi and
denial, if not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence, are negative and self-serving evidence
undeserving of weight in law.7
Alibi is the weakest of all defenses, for it is easy to fabricate and difficult to disprove, and it is for
this reason that it cannot prevail over the positive identification of the accused by the witnesses. To be valid
for purposes of exoneration from a criminal charge, the defense of alibi must be such that it would have
been physically impossible for the person charged with the crime to be at the locus criminis at the time of its
commission, the reason being that no person can be in two places at the same time. The excuse must be
so airtight that it would admit of no exception.8 Physical impossibility refers to the distance between the
place where the accused was when the crime transpired and the place where it was committed, as well as
the facility of access between the two places.9 Where there is even the least chance for the accused to be
present at the crime scene, the defense of alibi will not hold water.10
While the defenses of denial and alibi are inherently weak, they are only so in the face of an
effective identification. Where the identification has been fatally tainted by irregularity and attendant

People vs. Bon, G.R. No. 166401, 30 October 2006


Valeroso vs. People, G.R. No. 164815, 22 February 2008
3
People vs. Delos Santos, G.R. No. 135919, 09 May 2003, 403 SCRA 153
4
Velasco vs. People, G.R. No. 166479, 28 February 2006, 483 SCRA 649
5
Resay vs. People, G.R. No. 154502, 27 April 2007; People vs. Zeta, G.R. No. 178541, 27 March 2008
6
Ubales vs. People, G.R. No. 175692, 29 October 2008
7
Malana vs. People, G.R. No. 173612, 26 March 2008
8
Lumanog vs. People, G.R. No. 182555, 07 September 2010
9
People vs. Aminola, G.R. No. 178062, 08 September 2010
10
People vs. Castro, G.R. No. 172874, 17 December 2008
2

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inconsistencies, doubt on the culpability of the accused, at the very least, has been established without
need to avail of the defenses of denial and alibi.11
How criminal liability is incurred
A person committing a felony is criminally liable for all the natural and logical consequences resulting
therefrom although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended. Natural refers to an
occurrence in the ordinary course of human life or events, while logical means that there is a rational
connection between the act of the accused and the resulting injury or damage.12
Proximate cause is that cause which in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by an efficient
intervening cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred. The
proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the injury, either immediately, or by setting other
events in motion, all constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close causal
connection with its immediate predecessor.
There must be a relation of cause and effect, the cause being the felonious act of the offender, the
effect being the resultant injuries and/or death of the victim. The cause and effect relationship is not
altered or changed because of the pre-existing conditions, such as the pathological condition of the victim;
the predisposition of the offended party; the physical condition of the offended party; or the concomitant or
concurrent conditions, such as the negligence or fault of the doctors; or the conditions supervening the
felonious act such as tetanus, pulmonary infection or gangrene.
The felony committed is not the proximate cause of the resulting injury when:
(a)

there is an active force that intervened between the felony committed and the
resulting injury, and the active force is a distinct act or fact absolutely foreign from
the felonious act of the accused; or

(b)

the resulting injury is due to the intentional act of the victim.13

Impossible crimes
The requisites of an impossible crime are: (1) that the act performed would be an offense against
persons or property; (2) that the act was done with evil intent; and (3) that its accomplishment was
inherently impossible, or the means employed was either inadequate or ineffectual.
xxx
Herein petitioners case is closely akin to the above example of factual impossibility given in Intod.
In this case, petitioner performed all the acts to consummate the crime of qualified theft, which is a crime
against property. Petitioners evil intent cannot be denied, as the mere act of unlawfully taking the check
meant for Mega Foam showed her into to gain or be unjustly enriched. Were it not for the fact that the
check bounced, she would have received the face value thereof, which was not rightfully hers. Therefore, it
was only due to the extraneous circumstance of the check being unfunded, a fact unknown to petitioner at
the time, that prevented the crime from being produced. The thing unlawfully taken by petitioner turned
out to be absolutely worthless, because the check was eventually dishonored, and Mega Foam had received
the cash to replace the value of said dishonored check. 14
Attempted felonies
Where the wound inflicted on the victim is not fatal, i.e., not sufficient to cause his death, the crime
is only attempted murder, since the accused did not perform all the acts of execution that would have
brought about death.15
In the crime of rape, penetration is an essential act of execution to produce the felony. Thus, for
there to be an attempted rape, the accused must have commenced the act of penetrating his sexual organ

11

People vs. Rodrigo, G.R. No. 176159, 11 September 2008


Quinto vs. Andres, G.R. No. 155791, 16 March 2005, 453 SCRA 511
13
Quinto vs. Andres, G.R. No. 155791, 16 March 2005, 453 SCRA 511
14
Jacinto vs. People, G.R. No. 162540, 13 July 2009
15
People vs. Valledor, G.R. No. 129291, 03 July 2002, 383 SCRA 653
12

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to the vagina of the victim but for some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous desistance, the
penetration, however slight, is not completed.16
Facts: One evening, inside her room, Malou retired at around 10:30. Outside, right in front of her
bedroom door, her maid slept on a folding bed. Early morning of the following day, petitioner, clad in t-shirt
and shorts, entered the room of Malou through its window. Once inside, he approached Malou and tightly
pressed on her face a piece of cloth soaked chemical and at the same time pinned her down on the bed.
She was awakened thereby and that she struggled but could not move. She wanted to scream for help but
the hands covering her mouth with cloth wet with chemicals were very tight. Still, Malou continued fighting
off her attacker by kicking him until at last her right hand got free. With this, the opportunity presented
itself when she was able to grab hold of his sex organ which she then squeezed. Petitioner let her go and
escaped while Malou went straight to the bedroom door and roused her maid.
Is petitioner guilty of attempted rape?
Ruling: NO. There is absolutely no dispute about the absence of sexual intercourse or carnal
knowledge in the present case. The next question that thus comes to the fore is whether or not the act of
the petitioner, i.e., the pressing of a chemical-soaked cloth while on top of Malou, constitutes an overt act
of rape.
Overt or external act has been defined as some physical activity or deed, indicating the intention to
commit a particular crime, more than a mere planning or preparation, which if carried out to its complete
termination following its natural course, without being frustrated by external obstacles nor by the voluntary
desistance of the perpetrator, will logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete offense.
Harmonizing the above definition to the facts of this case, it would be too strained to construe
petitioner's act of pressing a chemical-soaked cloth in the mouth of Malou which would induce her to sleep
as an overt act that will logically and necessarily ripen into rape. As it were, petitioner did not commence at
all the performance of any act indicative of an intent or attempt to rape Malou. It cannot be
overemphasized that petitioner was fully clothed and that there was no attempt on his part to undress
Malou, let alone touch her private part. For what reason petitioner wanted the complainant unconscious, if
that was really his immediate intention, is anybodys guess.17
Frustrated felonies
In homicide cases, the offender is said to have performed all the acts of execution if the wound
inflicted on the victim is mortal and could cause the death of the victim barring medical intervention or
attendance.18
Frustrated and attempted felonies may be distinguished as follows:
a.

In frustrated felony, the offender has performed all the acts of execution which should
produce the felony as a consequence; whereas in attempted felony, the offender merely
commences the commission of a felony directly by overt acts and does not perform all the
acts of execution.

b.

In frustrated felony, the reason for the non-accomplishment of the crime is some cause
independent of the will of the perpetrator; on the other hand, in attempted felony, the
reason for the non-fulfillment of the crime is a cause or accident other than the offenders
own spontaneous desistance.19

Attempted/frustrated homicide and physical injuries distinguished


The intent to kill determines whether the crime committed is physical injuries or homicide and such
intent is made manifest by the acts of the accused which are undoubtedly intended to kill the victim.20 In
People vs. Almazan,21 the Supreme Court rejected the accuseds claim that he should be convicted of slight
16

Perez vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 143838, 09 May 2002, 382 SCRA 182
People vs. Baleros, 483 SCRA 10
18
People vs. Caballero, 149028-30, 02 April 2003, 400 SCRA 424
19
People vs. Palaganas, G.R. No. 165483, 12 September 2006
20
People vs. Gonzalez, G.R. No. 139542, 21 June 2001, 359 SCRA 220
21
G.R. No. 138943, 17 September 2001, 365 SCRA 373
17

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physical injuries only as the he was motivated by the same impetus and intent, i.e., to exact vengeance and
even kill, if necessary, when he shot the victim therein. The fact that the wound was merely a minor injury
which could heal in a week becomes inconsequential.
Stages of execution in rape
Rape is either attempted or consummated. There can be no frustrated rape. From the moment the
offender has carnal knowledge of his victim, he actually attains his purpose and, from that moment also all
the essential elements of the offense have been accomplished. Nothing more is left to be done by the
offender, because he has performed the last act necessary to produce the crime. Thus, the felony is
consummated. It is settled that for the consummation of rape, perfect penetration is not essential. Any
penetration of the female organ by the male organ is sufficient. Entry of the labia or lips of the female
organ, without rupture of the hymen or laceration of the vagina, is sufficient to warrant conviction.
Necessarily, rape is attempted if there is no penetration of the female organ because not all acts of
execution were performed. The offender merely commenced the commission of a felony directly by overt
acts. Taking into account the nature, elements, and manner of execution of the crime of rape and
jurisprudence on the matter, it is hardly conceivable how the frustrated stage in rape can ever be
committed.22
Stages of execution in theft/robbery
There is no crime of frustrated theft. Theft is already produced upon the taking of personal
property of another without the latters consent. There was no need for permanency in the taking or in its
intent, as the mere temporary possession by the offender or disturbance of the proprietary rights of the
owner already constituted apoderamiento.23
Conspiracy
Direct proof is not essential to establish conspiracy, and may be inferred from the collective acts of
the accused before, during and after the commission of the crime. Conspiracy can be presumed from and
proven by acts of the accused themselves when the said acts point to a joint purpose and design, concerted
action and community of interests. It is not necessary to show that all the conspirators actually hit and killed
the victim. Conspiracy renders all the conspirators as co-principals regardless of the extent and character
of their participation because in contemplation of law, the act of one conspirator is the act of all.24
Mere presence of a person at the scene of the crime does not make him a conspirator for conspiracy
transcends companionship.25 Mere suspicion, speculation, relationship, association, and companionship do
not prove conspiracy.26 Mere knowledge, acquiescence, or agreement to cooperate, is not enough to
constitute one as a party to a conspiracy, absent any active participation in the commission of the crime,
with a view to the furtherance of the common design and purpose. Conspiracy transcends companionship.27
In determining the existence of conspiracy, it is not necessary to show that all the conspirators
actually hit and killed the victim. The presence of conspiracy among the accused can be proven by their
conduct before, during or after the commission of the crime showing that they acted in unison
with each other, evincing a common purpose or design. There must be a showing that appellant
cooperated in the commission of the offense, either morally, through advice, encouragement or agreement
or materially through external acts indicating a manifest intent of supplying aid in the perpetration of the
crime in an efficacious way. In such case, the act of one becomes the act of all, and each of the accused
will thereby be deemed equally guilty of the crime committed.28
Conspiracy must be alleged in the information in order that an accused may be held liable for the
acts of his co-accused. In the absence of any averment of conspiracy in the information, an accused can

22

People vs. Aca-ac, G.R. No. 142500, 20 April 2001, 357 SCRA 373
Valenzuela vs. People, G.R. No. 160188, 21 June 2007, 525 SCRA 306
24
People vs. Buntag, G.R. No. 123070, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 180
25
People vs. Comadre, G.R. No. 153559, 08 June 2004, 431 SCRA 366
26
People vs. Manijas, G.R. No. 148699, 15 November 2002, 391 SCRA 731
27
People vs. Compo, G.R. No. 112990, 28 May 2001, 358 SCRA 266
28
People vs. Ramos, G.R. No. 135204, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 299
23

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only be made liable for the acts committed by him alone and such criminal responsibility is individual and
not collective.29
Confederation is not enumerated as an aggravating circumstance under Article 14 of the Revised
Penal Code. Like conspiracy which must be alleged in and not merely inferred from the information,
confederation is but a mode of incurring criminal liability and may not be considered criminal in itself unless
specifically provided by law. Neither may confederation be treated as an aggravating circumstance in the
absence of any law defining or classifying it as such.30
Suppletory application of the RPC
Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code is composed of two clauses. The first provides that offenses
which in the future are made punishable under special laws are not subject to the provisions of the RPC,
while the second makes the RPC supplementary to such laws. While it seems that the two clauses are
contradictory, a sensible interpretation will show that they can perfectly be reconciled.
The first clause should be understood to mean only that the special penal laws are controlling with
regard to offenses therein specifically punished. Said clause only restates the elemental rule of statutory
construction that special legal provisions prevail over general ones. xxx. The second clause contains the
soul of the article. The main idea and purpose of the article is embodied in the provision that the "code shall
be supplementary" to special laws, unless the latter should specifically provide the contrary. 31
Corpus delicti
Corpus delicti has been defined as the body or substance of the crime and, in its primary sense,
refers to the fact that a crime has actually been committed. As applied to a particular offense, it means the
actual commission by someone of the particular crime charged.32 It is made up of two elements: (a) that a
certain result has been proved, for example, a man has died and (b) that some person is criminally
responsible for the act.33
Self-defense
The elements of self-defense are: (1) that the victim has committed unlawful aggression amounting
to actual or imminent threat to the life and limb of the person claiming self-defense; (2) that there be
reasonable necessity in the means employed to prevent or repel the unlawful aggression; and (3) that there
be lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person claiming self-defense or, at least, that any
provocation executed by the person claiming self-defense be not the proximate and immediate cause of the
victims aggression.34
It is a settled rule that when an accused claims the justifying circumstance of self-defense, an
accused admits the commission of the act of killing. The burden of evidence, therefore, shifts to the
accuseds side in clearly and convincingly proving that the elements of self-defense exist that could justify
the accuseds act.35
Unlawful aggression is an actual physical assault or at least a threat to attack or inflict physical injury
upon a person. A mere threatening or intimidating attitude is not considered unlawful aggression, unless
the threat is offensive and menacing, manifestly showing the wrongful intent to cause injury. There must be
an actual, sudden, unexpected attack or imminent danger thereof, which puts the defendants life in real
peril.36
The condition of unlawful aggression is a sine qua non; otherwise stated, there can be no selfdefense, complete or incomplete, unless the victim has committed unlawful aggression against the person
defending himself.37 In other words in self-defense, unlawful aggression is a primordial element.
29

Peple vs. Galvez, G.R. No. 157221, 30 March 2007


People vs. Baroy, G.R. Nos. 137520-22, 09 May 2002, 382 SCRA 56
31
Ladonga vs. People, G.R. No. 141066, 17 February 2005, 451 SCRA 673
32
People vs. Obedo, G.R. No. 123054, 10 June 2003, 403 SCRA 431
33
People vs. Quimzon, G.R. No. 133541, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 261
34
People vs. Enfectana, G.R. No. 132028, 19 April 2002, 381 SCRA 359
35
People vs. Maningding, G.R. No. 195665, 14 September 2011
36
Manaban vs. CA, G.R. No. 150723, 11 July 2006, 494 SCRA 503
37
People vs. Enfectana, G.R. No. 132028, 19 April 2002, 381 SCRA 359
30

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A threat, even if made with a weapon, or the belief that a person was about to be attacked, is not
sufficient. It is necessary that the intent be ostensibly revealed by an act of aggression or by some external
acts showing the commencement of actual and material aggression.38
The aggression must be real and not just imaginary. A mere perception of an impending attack is
not sufficient to constitute unlawful aggression, and neither is an intimidating or threatening attitude.39 The
exchange of insulting words and invectives between the accused and victim, no matter how objectionable,
could not be considered as unlawful aggression, except when coupled with physical assault.40
When an unlawful aggression has ceased to exist, the one making a defense has no right to kill or
injure the former aggressor.41 An act of aggression, when its author does not persist in his purpose, or
when he discontinues his attitude to the extent that the object of his attack is no longer in peril, is not
unlawful aggression warranting self-defense.42 When the unlawful aggression which has begun no longer
exists, the one making the defense has no more right to kill or even wound the former aggressor.43
Aggression, if not continuous, does not constitute aggression warranting self-defense.44
Retaliation is different from self-defense. In retaliation, the aggression that was begun by the
injured party already ceased to exist when the accused attacked him. In self-defense, the aggression was
still existing when the aggressor was injured by the accused.45 After the danger has passed, one is not
justified in following up his adversary to take his life. The conflict for blood should be avoided if possible.
An assault on his person, he cannot punish when the danger or peril is over. When the danger is over, the
right of self-defense ceases. His right is defense, not retribution.46
The second element of self-defense demands that the means employed to neutralize the unlawful
aggression are reasonable and necessary. It is settled that reasonable necessity of the means employed
does not imply material commensurability between the means of attack and defense.47 What the law
requires is a rational equivalence, in the consideration of which will enter as principal factors the
emergency, the imminent danger to which the person attacked is exposed, and the instinct more than
reason, that moves or impels the defense; and the proportionateness thereof does not depend upon the
harm done, but upon the imminent danger of such injury.48
As to the third requisite that the provocation must be sufficient, it should be proportionate to the
aggression and adequate to stir the aggressor to its commission. To be entitled to self-defense, however,
the one defending himself must not have given cause for the aggression by his unjust conduct or by
inciting or provoking the aggressor.49 Or, at least, that any provocation executed by the person claiming
self-defense be not the proximate and immediate cause of the victims aggression.50
Avoidance of greater evil
In state of necessity as a justifying circumstance, the evil sought to be avoided is merely expected or
anticipated. If the evil sought to be avoided is merely expected or anticipated or may happen in the future,
this defense is not applicable. Moreover, for the defense of state of necessity to be availing, the greater
injury feared should not have been brought about by the negligence or imprudence, more so, the willful
inaction of the actor.51
Fulfillment of duty
38

People vs. Pateo, G.R. No. 156786, 03 June 2004, 43O SCRA 604
People vs. Arnante, G.R. No. 148724, 15 October 2002, 391 SCRA 155
40
People vs. Court of Appeals and Tangan, G.R. Nos. 103613 and 105830, 23 February 2001, 352 SCRA 599
41
People vs. San Juan, G.R. No. 144505, 06 August 2002, 386 SCRA 400; People vs. Tejero, G.R. No. 135050, 19 April 2002, 381
SCRA 382
42
People vs. Geneblazo, G.R. No. 133580, 20 July 2001, 361 SCRA 572
43
People vs. Caguing, G.R. No. 139822, 06 December 2000, 347 SCRA 374
44
Sanchez vs. People, G.R. No. 161007, 06 December 2006
45
People vs. Vicente, G.R. No. 137296, 26 June 2003, 405 SCRA 40
46
Senoja vs. People, G.R. No. 160341, 19 October 2004, 440 SCRA 695
47
People vs. Dagani, G.R. No. 153875, 16 August 2006
48
People vs. Rabanal, G.R. No. 146687, 22 August 2002, 387 SCRA 85
49
Rimano vs. People, G.R. No.156567, 27 November 2003, 416 SCRA 569
50
People vs. Annibong, G.R. No. 139879, 08 May 2003, 403 SCRA 92
51
Ty vs. People, G.R. No. 149275, 27 September 2004, 439 SCRA 220
39

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For fulfillment of duty to be appreciated as a justifying circumstance, the following must be


established: (1) that the offender acted in the lawful exercise of a right or a duty; and (b) that the injury or
offense committed be the necessary consequence of the due performance of such right or office.52
Insanity
Only when there is a complete deprivation of intelligence at the time of the commission of the crime
should the exempting circumstance of insanity be considered.53
Minority
For a minor between 15 to 18 years of age to be criminally liable, the prosecution is burdened to
prove beyond reasonable doubt, by direct or circumstantial evidence, that he acted with discernment,
meaning that he knew what he was doing and that it was wrong. Such circumstantial evidence may include
the utterances of the minor; his overt acts before, during and after the commission of the crime relative
thereto; the nature of the weapon used in the commission of the crime; his attempt to silence a witness; his
disposal of evidence or his hiding the corpus delicti.54
In People vs. Atizado,55 the Supreme Court, conformably with Section 756 of Republic Act No. 9344,
ruled to appreciate minority as a privileged mitigating circumstance despite the accuseds failure to present
his birth certificate at the trial observing that
Yet, it cannot be doubted that Monreal was a minor below 18 years of age when the
crime was committed on April 18, 1994. Firstly, his counter-affidavit executed on June 30
1994 stated that he was 17 years of age. Secondly, the police blotter recording his arrest
mentioned that he was 17 years old at the time of his arrest on May 18, 1994. Thirdly,
Villafes affidavit dated June 29, 1994 averred that Monreal was a minor on the date of the
incident. Fourthly, as RTCs minutes of hearing dated March 9, 1999 showed, Monreal was 22
years old when he testified on direct examination on March 9, 1999, which meant that he
was not over 18 years of age when he committed the crime. And, fifthly, Mirandilla described
Monreal as a teenager and young looking at the time of the incident.
Accident
For accident to be properly appreciated as an exempting circumstance, the following requisites must
concur: (1) that the accused was performing a lawful act with due care; (2) that the injury is caused by
mere accident; and (3) that there was no fault or intent on his part to cause the injury. Appellant must
convincingly prove the presence of these elements in order to benefit from the exempting circumstance of
accident.57
Uncontrollable fear
For uncontrollable fear to be considered as an exempting circumstance, it must appear that the
threat that caused the uncontrollable fear is of such gravity and imminence that the ordinary man would
have succumbed to it. It should be based on a real, imminent or reasonable fear for ones life or limb. A
mere threat of a future injury is not enough. It should not be speculative, fanciful, or remote. A person
invoking uncontrollable fear must show therefore that the compulsion was such that it reduced him to a

52

Mamangun vs. People, G.R. No. 149152, 02 February 2007


People vs. Robios, G.R. No. 138453, 29 May 2002, 382 SCRA 751
54
Jose vs. People, G.R. No. 162052, 13 January 2005, 448 SCRA 116
55
G.R. No. 173822, 13 October 2010
53

56

Section 7. Determination of Age. - The child in conflict with the law shall enjoy the presumption of minority. He/She shall enjoy
all the rights of a child in conflict with the law until he/she is proven to be eighteen (18) years old or older. The age of a child may
be determined from the childs birth certificate, baptismal certificate or any other pertinent documents. In the absence of these
documents, age may be based on information from the child himself/herself, testimonies of other persons, the physical appearance
of the child and other relevant evidence. In case of doubt as to the age of the child, it shall be resolved in his/her favor.
57

People vs. Concepcion, G.R. No. 136844, 01 August 2002, 386 SCRA 74

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mere instrument acting not only without will but against his will as well. It must be of such character as to
leave no opportunity to the accused for escape.58
Instigation vs. Entrapment
In instigation, officers of the law or their agents incite, induce, instigate or lure an accused into
committing an offense which he or she would otherwise not commit and has no intention of committing.
But in entrapment, the criminal intent or design to commit the offense charged originates in the mind of the
accused, and law enforcement officials merely facilitate the apprehension of the criminal by employing ruses
and schemes; thus, the accused cannot justify his or her conduct. In instigation, where law enforcers act as
co-principals, the accused will have to be acquitted. But entrapment cannot bar prosecution and conviction.
As has been said, instigation is a trap for the unwary innocent, while entrapment is a trap for the unwary
criminal.59
Incomplete self-defense
In order that incomplete self-defense may be successfully appreciated as a mitigating circumstance,
it is necessary that a majority of the requirements of self-defense be present, particularly the requisite of
unlawful aggression on the part of the victim. Unlawful aggression by itself or in combination with either of
the other two requisite suffices to establish incomplete self-defense. Absent the unlawful aggression, there
can never be self-defense, complete or incomplete, because if there is nothing to prevent or repel, the other
two requisites of defense will have no basis.60
Provocation
Before threat or provocation can be appreciated as a mitigating circumstance, the following elements
must concur: (1) That the provocation or threat must be sufficient or proportionate to the crime committed
and adequate to arouse one to its commission; (2) That the provocation or threat must originate from the
offended party; and (3) That the provocation must be immediate to the commission of the crime by the
person provoked.61
Provocation and passion or obfuscation are not two separate mitigating circumstances. If these two
circumstances are based on the same facts, they should be treated together as one mitigating circumstance.
From the facts established in this case, it is clear that both circumstances arose from the same set of facts
aforementioned. Hence, they should not be treated as two separate mitigating circumstances.62
Passion or obfuscation
For passion or obfuscation as a mitigating circumstance to be considered, it must be shown that (1)
an unlawful act sufficient to produce passion and obfuscation was committed by the intended victim; (2)
that the crime was committed within a reasonable length of time from the commission of the unlawful act
that produced the obfuscation in the accuseds mind; and that (3) the passion and obfuscation arose from
lawful sentiments and not from a spirit of lawlessness or revenge.63
To be entitled to this mitigating circumstance, the following elements must be present: (1) There
should be an act both unlawful and sufficient to produce such condition of mind; (2) the act that produced
the obfuscation was not far removed from the commission of the crime by a considerable length of time,
during which the perpetrator might recover his normal equanimity.64
Voluntary surrender
For voluntary surrender to mitigate criminal liability, the following elements must concur: 1) the
offender has not been actually arrested, 2) the offender surrenders himself to a person in authority or to the
latters agent, and 3) the surrender is voluntary. To be sufficient, the surrender must be spontaneous and
58

Ty vs. People, G.R. No. 149275, 27 September 2004, 439 SCRA 220
People vs. Bayani, G.R. No. 179150, 17 June 2008
60
People vs. Court of Appeals and Tangan, G.R. Nos. 103613 and 105830, 23 February 2001, 352 SCRA 599
61
People vs. Beltran, G.R. No. 168051, 27 September 2006
62
Romera vs. People, G.R No. 151978, 14 July 2004, 434 SCRA 467
63
People vs. Gonzalez, G.R. No. 139542, 21 June 2001, 359 SCRA 220
64
People vs. Malejana, G.R. No. 145002, 24 January 2006, 479 SCRA 610
59

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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made in a manner clearly indicating the intent of the accused to surrender unconditionally, either because
they acknowledge their guilt or wish to save the authorities the trouble and the expense that will necessarily
be incurred in searching for and capturing them.65
In People v. Cagas and in People v. Taraya, the Supreme Court added a fourth requisite before
voluntary surrender may be appreciated in favor of the accused that there is no pending warrant of
arrest or information filed.66 In De Vera though, it upheld the appreciation of the trial court of this
mitigating circumstance, as the accused, upon learning that the court had finally determined the presence
of probable cause and even before the issuance and implementation of the warrant of arrest, had given
himself up, acknowledging his culpability. Thus, it is clear that notwithstanding the filing of an information
or the pendency of an arrest warrant, the accused may still be entitled to the mitigating circumstance in
case he surrenders, depending on the actual facts surrounding the very act of giving himself up.
Confession of guilt
To be entitled to the mitigating circumstance of confession of guilt, the accused must have
voluntarily confessed his guilt before the court prior to the presentation of the evidence for the prosecution.
The following requirements must therefore concur: (1) the accused spontaneously confessed his guilt; (2)
the confession of guilt was made in open court, that is, before a competent court trying the case; and (3)
the confession of guilt was made prior to the presentation of evidence for the prosecution.67
An offer to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser offense cannot be considered as an attenuating
circumstance under the provisions of Art. 13 of The Revised Penal Code because to be voluntary, the plea of
guilty must be to the offense charged.68
Similar or analogous circumstances
In malversation of public funds, payment, indemnification, or reimbursement of funds
misappropriated, after the commission of the crime, does not extinguish the criminal liability of the offender
which, at most, can merely affect the accused's civil liability thereunder and be considered a mitigating
circumstance being analogous to voluntary surrender.69
Aggravating circumstances: Generic, Qualifying and Special
A qualifying circumstance changes the nature of the crime. A generic aggravating circumstance, on
the other hand, does not affect the designation of the crime; it merely provides for the imposition of the
prescribed penalty in its maximum period. Thus, while a generic aggravating circumstance may be offset by
a mitigating circumstance, a qualifying circumstance may not.70
Generic aggravating circumstances are those that generally apply to all crimes such as those
mentioned in Article 14, paragraphs No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 14, 18, 19 and 20, of the Revised Penal
Code. It has the effect of increasing the penalty for the crime to its maximum period, but it cannot increase
the same to the next higher degree. It must always be alleged and charged in the information, and must
be proven during the trial in order to be appreciated. Moreover, it can be offset by an ordinary mitigating
circumstance.
On the other hand, special aggravating circumstances are those which arise under special conditions
to increase the penalty for the offense to its maximum period, but the same cannot increase the penalty to
the next higher degree. Examples are quasi-recidivism under Article 160 and complex crimes under Article
48 of the Revised Penal Code. It does not change the character of the offense charged. It must always be
alleged and charged in the information, and must be proven during the trial in order to be appreciated.
Moreover, it cannot be offset by an ordinary mitigating circumstance.71

65

Andrada vs. People, G.R. No. 135222, 04 March 2005, 452 SCRA 685
De Vera vs. De Vera, G.R. No. 172832, 07 April 2009
67
People vs. Montinola, G.R. Nos. 131856-57, 09 July 2001, 360 SCRA 631
68
People vs. Dawaton, G.R. No. 146247, 17 September 2002, 389 SCRA 277
69
Davalos vs. People, G.R. No. 145229, 20 April 2006, 488 SCRA 84,citing Kimpo vs. Sandiganbayan
70
People vs. Mendoza, G.R. No. 133382, 09 March 2000, 327 SCRA 695
71
People vs. Palaganas, G.R. No. 165483, 12 September 2006
66

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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Abuse of public position


If the accused could have perpetrated the crime even without occupying his position, there is no
abuse of public position.72
Disregard of age, sex or rank
Disregard of age, sex or rank is applicable only to crimes against persors or honor. It is not
aggravating in robbery with homicide, which is primarily a crime against property, as the homicide is
regarded as merely incidental to the robbery.73
Dwelling
Dwelling aggravates a felony where the crime was committed in the dwelling of the offended party if
the latter has not given provocation or if the victim was killed inside his house.74 Provocation in the
aggravating circumstance of dwelling must be: (a) given by the offended party, (b) sufficient, and (c)
immediate to the commission of the crime.75
The victim need not own the place where he lives or dwells. Be he a lessee, a boarder, or a
bedspacer, the place is his home, the sanctity of which the law seeks to protect.76
If the building where the offense was committed was not entirely for dwelling purposes, dwelling
cannot be appreciated as an aggravating circumstance.77
Abuse of confidence
For abuse of confidence to exist, it is essential to show that the confidence between the parties must
be immediate and personal such as would give the accused some advantage or make it easier for him to
commit the criminal act. The confidence must be a means of facilitating the commission of the crime, the
culprit taking advantage of the offended partys belief that the former would not abuse said confidence.78
Nighttime, uninhabited place or band
By and of itself, nighttime is not an aggravating circumstance, however, it becomes aggravating only
when: (1) it is especially sought by the offender; or (2) it is taken advantage of by him; or (3) it facilitates
the commission of the crime by ensuring the offenders immunity from capture.79
If the aggravating circumstances of nighttime, uninhabited place or band concur in the commission
of the crime, all will constitute one aggravating circumstance only as a general rule although they can be
considered separately if their elements are distinctly perceived and can subsist independently, revealing a
greater degree of perversity.80
By means of explosives
When the killing is perpetrated with treachery and by means of explosives, the latter shall be
considered as a qualifying circumstance. Not only does jurisprudence support this view but also, since the
use of explosives is the principal mode of attack, reason dictates that this attendant circumstance should
qualify the offense instead of treachery which will then be relegated merely as a generic aggravating
circumstance.81
Evident premeditation

72

People vs. Villamor, G.R. Nos. 140407-08, 15 January 2002, 373 SCRA 254
People vs. Montinola, G.R. Nos. 131856-57, 09 July 2001, 360 SCRA 631
74
People vs. Perreras, G.R. No. 139622, 31 July 2001, 362 SCRA 202)
75
People vs. Rios, G.R. No. 132632, 19 June 2000, 333 SCRA 823
76
People vs. Dela Torre, G.R. No. 98431, 15 January 2002, 373 SCRA 104
77
People vs. Tao, G.R. No. 133872, 05 May 2000, 331 SCRA 448
78
People vs. Arrojado, G.R. No. 130492, 31 January 2001, 350 SCRA 679
79
People vs. Silva, G.R. No. 140871, 08 August 2002, 387 SCRA 77
80
People vs. Librando, G.R. No. 132251, 06 July 2000, 335 SCRA 232
81
People vs. Comadre, G.R. No. 153559, 08 June 2004, 431 SCRA 366
73

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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For evident premeditation to be appreciated, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
(1) the time when the accused decided to commit the crime; (2) an overt act showing that the accused
clung to their determination to commit the crime; and (3) the lapse of a period of time between the decision
and the execution of the crime sufficient to allow the accused to reflect upon the consequences of the act.82
In one case, no evidence was presented by the prosecution as to when and how appellant planned and
prepared for the killing of the victim. There is no showing of any notorious act evidencing a determination
to commit the crime which could prove appellants criminal intent. Hence, we cannot agree that there was
evident premeditation here, on appellants part.83
Where conspiracy is directly established, with proof of the attendant deliberation and selection of the
method, time and means of executing the crime, the existence of evident premeditation can be taken for
granted. However, where no such evidence exists, and where conspiracy is merely inferred from the acts of
the accused in the perpetration of the crime, as in the case at bar, the above requisites of evident
premeditation need to be established.84
Evident premeditation is not aggravating when the victim is different from that. However, even if a
person other than the intended victim was killed, if it is shown that the conspirators were determined to kill
not only the intended victim but also anyone who may help him put a violent resistance, evident
premeditation may be appreciated.85
Craft
Craft involves intellectual trickery and cunning on the part of the offender. When there is a direct
inducement by insidious words or machinations, fraud is present.86

Abuse of superior strength


To appreciate abuse of superior strength, there must be a deliberate intent on the part of the
malefactors to take advantage of their greater number. They must have notoriously selected and made use
of superior strength in the commission of the crime. To take advantage of superior strength is to use
excessive force that is out of proportion to the means for self-defense available to the person attacked.87
Mere superiority in number would not necessarily indicate the attendance of abuse of superior
strength. The prosecution should still prove that the assailants purposely used excessive force out of
proportion to the means of defense available to the persons attacked.88
Treachery
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing
means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.89 For treachery to be
considered, two (2) elements must concur: (a) the employment of means of execution that give the person
attacked no opportunity to defend himself or retaliate; and, (b) the means of execution were deliberately or
consciously adopted.90
Treachery exists when an offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means,
methods or forms which tend directly or especially to ensure its execution, without risk to the offender,
arising from the defense that the offended party might make. This definition sets out what must be shown
by evidence to conclude that treachery existed, namely: (1) the employment of such means of execution as
would give the person attacked no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and (2) the deliberate and
conscious adoption of the means of execution. To reiterate, the essence of qualifying circumstance is the
82

People vs. Barde, G.R. No. 183094, 22 September 2010


People vs. Mondijar, G.R. No. 141194, 21 November 2002, 392 SCRA 356
84
People vs. Campomanes, G.R. No. 132568, 06 February 2002, 376 SCRA 307
85
People vs. Ventura, G.R. Nos. 148145-46, 05 July 2004, 433 SCRA 389
86
People vs. Labuguen, G.R. No. 127849, 09 August 2000, 337 SCRA 488
87
People vs. Lobrigas, G.R. 147649, 17 December 2002, 394 SCRA 170
88
People vs. Sansaet, G.R. No. 139330, 06 February 2002, 376 SCRA 426
89
Andrada vs. People, G.R. No. 135222, 04 March 2005, 452 SCRA 685
90
People vs. Ausa, G.R. No. 174194, 20 March 2007; People vs. Hammer, G.R. No. 147836, 17 December 2002, 394 SCRA 182
83

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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suddenness, surprise and the lack of expectation that the attack will take place, thus, depriving the victim of
any real opportunity for self-defense while ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the
aggressor. Likewise, even when the victim was forewarned of the danger to his person, treachery may still
be appreciated since what is decisive is that the execution of the attack made it impossible for the victim to
defend himself or to retaliate. 91
The essence of treachery is the sudden, unexpected, and unforeseen attack on the person of the
victim, without the slightest provocation on the part of the latter.92
In treachery, the mode of attack must be consciously adopted. This means that the accused must
make some preparation to kill the deceased in such a manner as to insure the execution of the crime or to
make it impossible or hard for the person attacked to defend himself or retaliate. The mode of attack,
therefore, must be planned by the offender, and must not spring from the unexpected turn of
events. A killing done at the spur of the moment is not treacherous.93
Mere suddenness of the attack would not, by itself, constitute treachery. There is a further need to
prove that appellant consciously and deliberately adopted the mode of attack to insure execution without
risk to himself.94
There is no treachery when the killing results from a verbal altercation between the victim and the
assailant such that the victim was forewarned of the impending danger.95
Sudden attacks made by the accused preceded by curses and insults by the victim or acts taunting
the accused to retaliate or the rebellious or aggressive behavior of the victim were held to be without
treachery as the victim was sufficiently forewarned of reprisal.96
Chance encounters, impulse killing or crimes committed at the spur of the moment, or those that
were preceded by heated altercations are generally not attended by treachery, for lack of opportunity of the
accused deliberately to employ a treacherous mode of attack.97
For treachery to be appreciated, that circumstances must be present at the inception of the attack,
and if absent and the attack is continuous, treachery, even if present at a subsequent stage is not to be
considered.98
Treachery is a generic aggravating circumstance to robbery with homicide although said crime is
classified as a crime against property and a single and indivisible crime. xxx. Treachery is not an element of
robbery with homicide. Neither does it constitute a crime specially punishable by law nor is it included by
the law in defining the crime of robbery with homicide and prescribing the penalty therefor. Treachery is
likewise not inherent in the crime of robbery with homicide. Hence, treachery should be considered as a
generic aggravating circumstance in robbery with homicide for the imposition of the proper penalty for the
crime. xxx. In fine, in the application of treachery as a generic aggravating circumstance to robbery with
homicide, the law looks at the constituent crime of homicide which is a crime against persons and not at the
constituent crime of robbery which is a crime against property. Treachery is applied to the constituent
crime of homicide and not to the constituent crime of robbery of the special complex crime of robbery
with homicide.99
The aggravating circumstance of nighttime is absorbed by treachery.100 Nighttime was evidently an
integral part of the peculiarly treacherous means and manner adopted to ensure the execution of the crime,
or that it facilitated the treacherous character of the attack.101

91

People vs. Villacorta, G.R. No. 186412, 07 September 2011


People vs. Hormina, G.R. No. 144383, 16 January 2004, 420 SCRA 102
93
People vs. Calago, G.R. No. 141122, 22 April 2002, 381 SCRA 448
94
People vs. Magbanua, G.R. No. 133004, 20 May 2004, 428 SCRA 617
95
People vs. Ilo, G.R. No. 140731, 21 November 2002, 392 SCRA 326
96
People vs. Gonzalez, G.R. No. 139542, 21 June 2001, 359 SCRA 220
97
People vs. Caratao, G.R. No. 126281, 10 June 2003, 403 SCRA 482
98
People vs. Loterono, G.R. No. 146100, 13 November 2002, 391 SCRA 593
99
People vs. Escote, 140756, 04 April 2003, 400 SCRA 603; People vs. Ancheta, G.R. No. 143935, 04 June 2004, 431 SCRA 42
100
People vs. Costales, G.R. Nos. 141154-56, 15 January 2002, 373 SCRA 269
101
People vs. Catapang, G.R. No. 128126, 25 June 2001, 359 SCRA 459
92

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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The aggravating circumstances of abuse of superior strength and aid of armed men are absorbed
in treachery.102
Use of a motor vehicle
The use of a motor vehicle qualifies the killing to murder if the same was perpetrated by means
thereof.103 It was appreciated when a truck itself was used to kill the victim by running over him.104
Cruelty
For cruelty to exist, there must be proof showing that the accused delighted in making their victim
suffer slowly and gradually, causing him unnecessary physical and moral pain in the consummation of the
criminal act.105
Use of unlicensed firearm
Under PD 1866, as amended RA 8294, where murder or homicide was committed, the penalty for
illegal possession of firearms is no longer imposable since it becomes merely a special aggravating
circumstance.106
If an unlicensed firearm is used in the commission of any crime, there can be no separate offense of
simple illegal possession of firearms. Hence, if the other crime is murder or homicide, illegal possession of
firearms becomes merely an aggravating circumstance, not a separate offense.107
Intoxication
The general rule is that intoxication may be considered either as aggravating or mitigating,
depending upon the circumstances attending the commission of the crime. Intoxication is mitigating and
therefore has the effect of decreasing the penalty if the intoxication is not habitual or attendant to the plan
to commit the contemplated crime. On the other hand, when intoxication is habitual or done intentionally to
embolden the malefactor and facilitate the plan to commit the crime, it is considered as an aggravating
circumstance.108
Principals
Conspiracy once found, continues until the object of it has been accomplished and unless abandoned
or broken up. To hold an accused guilty as a co-principal by reason of conspiracy, he must be shown to
have performed an overt act in pursuance or furtherance of the complicity. There must be intentional
participation in the transaction with a view to the furtherance of the common design and purpose. 109
Accomplice
The following requisites must concur in order that a person may be considered an accomplice:
(a)

community of design, i.e., knowing that criminal design of the principal by direct
participation, he concurs with the latter in his purpose;

(b)

he cooperates in the execution of the offense by previous or simultaneous acts; and,

(c)

there must be a relation between the acts done by the principal and those attributed to the
person charged as accomplice.110

102

People vs. Parreno, G.R. No. 144343, 07 July 2004, 433 SCRA 591
People vs. Enguito, G.R. No. 128812, 28 February 2000, 326 SCRA 508
104
People vs. Mallari, G.R. No. 145993, 17 June 2003, 404 SCRA 170
105
People vs. Catian, G.R. No. 139693, 24 January 2002, 374 SCRA 514
106
People vs. Tadeo, G.R. Nos. 127660 and144011-12, 17 September 2002, 389 SCRA 20
107
People vs. Ladjaalam, G.R. Nos. 136149-51, 19 September 2000, 340 SCRA 617
108
People vs. Bernal, G.R. Nos. 132791 and 140465-66, 02 September 2002, 388 SCRA 211
109
People vs. Vasquez, G.R. No. 123939, 28 May 2004, 430 SCRA 52
110
People vs. Roche, G.R. No. 115182, 06 April 2000, 330 SCRA 91
103

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Conspirators and accomplices have one thing in common: they know and agree with the criminal
design. Conspirators, however, know the criminal intention because they themselves have decided upon
such course of action. Accomplices come to know about it after the principals have reached the decision,
and only then do they agree to cooperate in its execution. Conspirators decide that a crime should be
committed; accomplices merely concur in it. Accomplices do not decide whether the crime should be
committed; they merely assent to the plan and cooperate in its accomplishment. Conspirators are the
authors of a crime; accomplices are merely their instruments who perform acts not essential to the
perpetration of the offense.111
After a conscientious reflection on the complicity of Doblen and Rojas, we have reached the
conclusion that they should be held guilty as accomplices. It is true, strictly speaking, that as coconspirators they should be punished as co-principals. However, since their participation was not absolutely
indispensable to the consummation of the murder, the rule that the court should favor the milder form of
liability may be applied to them.112
Accessories
Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code defines an accessory as one who had knowledge of the
commission of the crime and did not participate in its commission as principal or accomplice, yet took part
subsequent to its commission by any of three modes: (1) profiting oneself or assisting the offender to profit
by the effects of the crime; (2) concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or
instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discovery; and (3) harboring, concealing, or assisting in the
escape of the principals of the crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or when
the offender is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt to take the life of the Chief Executive, or
is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime. To convict an accused as an accessory, the following
elements must be proven: (1) knowledge of the commission of the crime and (2) subsequent participation
in it by any of the three above-cited modes.113
Under paragraph 3 of Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code, there are two (2) classes of accessories,
one of which is a public officer who harbors, conceals or assists in the escape of the principal. Such public
officer must have acted with abuse of his public functions, and the crime committed by the principal is any
crime, provided it is not a light felony.114
Pardon by the offended party
A criminal offense is an outrage to the sovereign State and to
prosecute and punish crimes. By itself, an affidavit of desistance is not
action, once it has been instituted in court. A private complainant loses
decide whether the charge should proceed, because the case was already
to be heard by the trial court.115

the State belongs the power to


a ground for the dismissal of an
the right or absolute privilege to
filed and must therefore continue

Life imprisonment vs. reclusion perpetua


The penalty of life imprisonment is not the same as reclusion perpetua. They are distinct in nature,
in duration and in accessory penalties. First, life imprisonment is imposed for serious offenses penalized by
special laws, while reclusion perpetua is prescribed under the Revised Penal Code. Second, life
imprisonment does not carry with it any accessory penalty. Reclusion perpetua has accessory penalties.
Third, life imprisonment does not appear to have any definite extent or duration, while reclusion perpetua
entails imprisonment for at least thirty (30) years after which the convict becomes eligible for pardon,
although the maximum period thereof shall in no case exceed forty (40) years.116
Since reclusion perpetua is an indivisible penalty, it has no minimum, medium or maximum periods.
It is imposed in its entirety regardless of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances that may have
attended the commission of the crime. (Art. 63, Revised Penal Code) Reclusion perpetua is imprisonment for
111

People vs. Garcia, G.R. Nos. 133489 and 143970, 15 January 2002, 373 SCRA 134
Garcia vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 134730, 18 September 2000, 340 SCRA 545
113
People vs. Tolentino, G.R. No. 139179, 03 April 2002, 380 SCRA 171)
114
People vs. Antonio, G.R. No. 128900, 14 July 2000, 335 SCRA 646
115
People vs. Dimaano, G.R. No. 168168, 14 September 2005, 469 SCRA 647
116
People vs. Latupan, G.R. Nos. 112453-56, 28 June 2001, 360 SCRA 60
112

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life but the person sentenced to suffer it shall be pardoned after undergoing the penalty for thirty (30)
years, unless by reason of his conduct or some other serious cause, he shall be considered by the Chief
Executive as unworthy of pardon (Art. 27, Revised Penal Code).117
Complex crimes
Where a conspiracy animates several persons with a single purpose, their individual acts done in
pursuance of that purpose are looked upon as a single act, the act of execution, giving rise to a single
complex offense.118
The slight physical injuries caused by the accused to the ten other victims through reckless
imprudence, would, had they been intentional, have constituted light felonies. Being light felonies, which
are not covered by Article 48, they should be treated and punished as separate offenses. Separate
informations should have, therefore, been filed.119
There can only be one complex crime of forcible abduction with rape. The crime of forcible abduction
was only necessary for the first rape. Thus, the subsequent acts of rape can no longer be considered as
separate complex crimes of forcible abduction with rape. They should be detached from and considered
independently of the forcible abduction.120
Death of the accused
In People v. Bayotas, the Supreme Court made the following pronouncements on the implications of
the death of the accused:
1.
Death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal
liability as well as the civil liability based solely thereon. As opined by Justice Regalado, in this
regard, the death of the accused prior to final judgment terminates his criminal liability and
only the civil liability directly arising from and based solely on the offense committed, i.e., civil
liability ex delicto in senso strictiore.
2.
Corollarily, the claim for civil liability survives notwithstanding the death of (the)
accused, if the same may also be predicated on a source of obligation other than delict.
Article 1157 of the Civil Code enumerates these other sources of obligation from which the civil
liability may arise as a result of the same act or omission:
a)
b)
c)
d)
e)

Law
Contracts
Quasi-contracts
xxx xxx xxx
Quasi-delicts

3.
Where the civil liability survives, as explained in Number 2 above, an action for
recovery therefor may be pursued but only by way of filing a separate civil action and subject
to Section 1, Rule 111 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure as amended. This separate
civil action may be enforced either against the executor/administrator or the estate of the
accused, depending on the source of obligation upon which the same is based as explained
above.
4.
Finally, the private offended party need not fear a forfeiture of his right to file
this separate civil action by prescription, in cases where during the prosecution of the criminal
action and prior to its extinction, the private offended party instituted together therewith the
civil action. In such case, the statute of limitations on the civil liability is deemed interrupted
during the pendency of the criminal case, conformably with the provisions of Article 1155 of
the Civil Code, that should thereby avoid any apprehension on a possible privation of right by
prescription.121
117

People vs. Ramirez, G.R. No. 138261, 17 April 2001, 356 SCRA 595
People vs. Sanidad, G.R. No. 146099, 30 April 2003, 402 SCRA 381
119
People vs. delos Santos, G.R. No. 131588, 27 March 2001, 355 SCRA 415
120
People vs. Garcia, G.R. No. 141125, 28 February 2002, 378 SCRA 266
121
Datu vs. People, G.R. No. 169718, 13 December 2010; People vs. Abungan, G.R. No. 136843, 28 September 2000, 341 SCRA
258
118

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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Prescription of crimes
Under Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code, the period of prescription shall commence to run from
the day on which the crime is discovered by the offended party, the authorities, or their agents, x x x. In
People v. Reyes, this Court has declared that registration in public registry is a notice to the whole world.
The record is constructive notice of its contents as well as all interests, legal and equitable, included therein.
All persons are charged with knowledge of what it contains.122
That the filing of a complaint with the fiscals office suspends the running of the prescriptive period
of a criminal offense.123
Prescription of penalties
The prescription of penalties shall commence to run from the date the felon evades the service of his
sentence. xxx One who has not been committed to prison cannot be said to have escaped therefrom.124
The prescription of penalties found in Article 93 of the Revised Penal Code, applies only to those who
are convicted by final judgment and are serving sentence which consists in deprivation of liberty. The
period for prescription of penalties begins only when the convict evades service of sentence by escaping
during the term of his sentence. Since petitioner never suffered deprivation of liberty before his arrest on
January 20, 2000 and as a consequence never evaded sentence by escaping during the term of his service,
the period for prescription never began.125
Pardon by the Chief Executive vs. Amnesty
Pardon is granted by the Chief Executive and as such it is a private act which must be pleaded and
proved by the person pardoned, because the courts take no notice thereof; while amnesty by Proclamation
of the Chief Executive with the concurrence of Congress, is a public act of which the courts should take
judicial notice. Pardon is granted to one after conviction; while amnesty is granted to classes of persons or

communities who may be guilty of political offenses, generally before or after the institution of the criminal
prosecution and sometimes after conviction. Pardon looks forward and relieves the offender from the
consequences of an offense of which he has been convicted, that is, it abolishes or forgives the punishment,
and for that reason it does not work the restoration of the rights to hold public office, or the right of
suffrage, unless such rights be expressly restored by the terms of the pardon, and it in no case exempts
the culprit from the payment of the civil indemnity imposed upon him by the sentence (Article 36, Revised
Penal Code). While amnesty looks backward and abolishes and puts into oblivion the offense itself, it so
overlooks and obliterates the offense with which he is charged that the person released by amnesty stands
before the law precisely as though he had committed no offense.126
Subsidiary civil liability of employers

The statutory basis for an employer's subsidiary liability is found in Article 103 of the Revised Penal
Code. This liability is enforceable in the same criminal proceeding where the award is made. However,
before execution against an employer ensues, there must be a determination, in a hearing set for the
purpose of 1) the existence of an employer-employee relationship; 2) that the employer is engaged in some
kind of industry; 3) that the employee is adjudged guilty of the wrongful act and found to have committed
the offense in the discharge of his duties not necessarily any offense he commits "while" in the discharge of
such duties; and 4) that said employee is insolvent.127 The determination of these conditions may be done
in the same criminal action in which the employees liability, criminal and civil, has been pronounced, in a
hearing set for that precise purpose, with due notice to the employer, as part of the proceedings for the
execution of the judgment.128

122

Recebido vs. People, G.R. No. 141931, 04 December 2000, 346 SCRA 881
Brillante vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 118757 and 121571, 19 October 2004, 440 SCRA 541
124
Del Castillo vs. Torrecampo and People, G.R. No. 139033, 18 December 2002, 394 SCRA 221
125
Pangan vs. Gatbalite, G.R. No. 141718, 21 January 2005, 449 SCRA 144
126
People vs. Patriarca, G.R. No. 135457, 29 September 2000, 341 SCRA 464
127
Basilio vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 113433, 17 March 2000, 328 SCRA 341
128
Calang and Philtranco vs. People, G.R. No. 190696, 03 August 2010
123

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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The cases dealing with the subsidiary liability of employers uniformly declare that, strictly speaking,
they are not parties to the criminal cases instituted against their employees. Although in substance and in
effect, they have an interest therein, this fact should be viewed in the light of their subsidiary liability. While
they may assist their employees to the extent of supplying the latters lawyers, as in the present case, the
former cannot act independently on their own behalf, but can only defend the accused.129
Due diligence in the selection and supervision of employees is not a defense on the part of the
employer and may not free the latter from subsidiary liability for the employees civil liability in a criminal
action.130
The provisions of the Revised Penal Code on subsidiary liability Articles 102 and 103 are deemed
written into the judgments in cases to which they are applicable. Thus, in the dispositive portion of its
decision, the trial court need not expressly pronounce the subsidiary liability of the employer.131
The subsidiary liability of the employer arises only after conviction of the employee in the criminal
action.132
Arbitrary detention
The determinative factor in Arbitrary Detention, in the absence of actual physical restraint, is fear.133
The prevailing jurisprudence on kidnapping and illegal detention is that the curtailment of the victims liberty
need not involve any physical restraint upon the victims person. If the acts and actuations of the accused
can produce such fear in the mind of the victim sufficient to paralyze the latter, to the extent that the victim
is compelled to limit his own actions and movements in accordance with the wishes of the accused, then the
victim is, for all intents and purposes, detained against his will. 134
Rebellion
One can be convicted only of rebellion where the murders, robberies and kidnapping were
committed as a means to or furtherance of rebellion. Corollarily, offenses which were not committed in
furtherance of the rebellion, but for personal reasons or other motives, are to be punished separately even
if committed simultaneously with the rebellious acts.135
The political motivation for the crime must be shown in order to justify finding the crime committed
to be rebellion. Merely because it is alleged that appellants were members of the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front or of the Moro National Liberation Front does not necessarily mean that the crime of kidnapping was
committed in furtherance of a rebellion.136
Direct assault
Direct assault, a crime against public order, 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.137
Falsification
In falsification committed by public officers, the offender takes advantage of his official position in
falsifying a document when (1) he has the duty to make or to prepare or otherwise intervene in the
preparation of the document; or (2) he has the official custody of the document which he falsifies.138

129

Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines vs. People, G.R. No. 147703, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 526
Pangonorom and MMTC vs. People, G.R. No. 143380, 11 April 2005, 455 SCRA 211
131
Pangonorom and MMTC vs. People, G.R. No. 143380, 11 April 2005, 455 SCRA 211
132
Pangonorom and MMTC vs. People, G.R. No. 143380, 11 April 2005, 455 SCRA 211
133
Astorga vs. People, G.R No. 154130, 20 August 2004, 437 SCRA 152
134
Astorga vs. People, G.R No. 154130, 01 October 2003
135
People vs. Oliva, G.R. No. 106826, 18 January 2001, 341 SCRA 78
136
People vs. Silongan, G.R. No. 137182, 24 April 2003, 401 SCRA 459
137
Rivera vs. People, G.R. No. 138553, 30 June 2005, 462 SCRA 350
138
Adaza vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 154886, 28 July 2005, 464 SCRA 460
130

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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The petitioner was in possession of the forged deed of sale which purports to sell the subject land
from the private complainant to him. Given this factual backdrop, the petitioner is presumed to be the
author of the forged deed of sale, despite the absence of any direct evidence of his authorship of the
forgery. Since the petitioner is the only person who stood to benefit by the falsification of the document
found in his possession, it is presumed that he is the material author of the falsification.139
The element of gain or benefit on the part of the offender or prejudice to a third party as a result of
the falsification, or tarnishing of a documents integrity, is not essential to maintain a charge for falsification
of public documents. What is punished in falsification of public document is principally the undermining of
the public faith and the destruction of truth as solemnly proclaimed therein. In this particular crime,
therefore, the controlling consideration lies in the public character of a document; and the existence of any
prejudice caused to third persons or, at least, the intent to cause such damage becomes immaterial.140
The accomplishment of the Personal Data Sheet being a requirement under the Civil Service Rules
and Regulations in connection with employment in the government, the making of an untruthful statement
therein was, therefore, intimately connected with such employment xxx" The filing of a Personal Data Sheet
is required in connection with the promotion to a higher position and contenders for promotion have the
legal obligation to disclose the truth. Otherwise, enhancing their qualifications by means of false statements
will prejudice other qualified aspirants to the same position.141
Use of falsified documents
The elements of "use of falsified documents," which is a crime under Art. 172 of the Revised Penal
Code, are: (a) That the offender knew that a document was falsified by another person; (b) That the false
document is embraced in Art. 171 or in any of subdivisions 1 or 2 of Art. 172; (c) That he used such
document (not in judicial proceedings); and, (d) That the use of the false document caused damage to
another or at least it was used with intent to cause such damage. The fact that they used the false
certifications in support of this promotion resulted in prejudice to other applicants genuinely qualified for the
position.142
Perjury
For perjury to exist, (1) there must be a sworn statement that is required by law; (2) it must be made under
oath before a competent officer; (3) the statement contains a deliberate assertion of falsehood; and (4) the false
declaration is with regard to a material matter. xxx. On the element of materiality, a material matter is the main fact
which is the subject of the inquiry or any fact or circumstance which tends to prove that fact, or any fact or
circumstance which tends to corroborate or strengthen the testimony relative to the subject of inquiry, or which
legitimately affects the credit of any witness who testifies.143
Perjury cannot be willful where the oath is according to belief or conviction as to its truth. A false
statement of a belief is not perjury. Bona fide belief in the truth of a statement is an adequate defense. A
false statement which is obviously the result of an honest mistake is not perjury.144
A conviction for perjury cannot be sustained merely upon the contradictory sworn statements of the
accused.In perjury, the prosecution must prove which of the two statements is false and must show the
statement to be false by other evidence than the contradicting statement.145
Obscene publications
Mere possession of obscene materials, without intention to sell, exhibit, or give them away, is not
punishable under Article 201, considering the purpose of the law is to prohibit the dissemination of obscene
materials to the public. The offense in any of the forms under Article 201 is committed only when there is
publicity. The law does not require that a person be caught in the act of selling, giving away or exhibiting

139

Recebido vs. People, G.R. No. 141931, 04 December 2000, 346 SCRA 881
Goma vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 168437, 08 January 2009
141
Lumancas vs. Intas, G.R. No. 133472, 05 December 2000, 347 SCRA 22
142
Lumancas vs. Intas, G.R. No. 133472, 05 December 2000, 347 SCRA 22
143
Masangkay vs. People, G.R. No. 164443, 18 June 2010
144
Villanueva vs. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 162187, 18 November 2005, 475 SCRA 495
145
Villanueva vs. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 162187, 18 November 2005, 475 SCRA 495
140

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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obscene materials to be liable, for as long as the said materials are offered for sale, displayed or exhibited
to the public. 146
Direct bribery
The crime of direct bribery as defined in Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code consists of the
following elements: (1) that the accused is a public officer; (2) that he received directly or through another
some gift or present, offer or promise; (3) that such gift, present or promise has been given in
consideration of his commission of some crime, or any act not constituting a crime, or to refrain from doing
something which it is his official duty to do; and (4) that the crime or act relates to the exercise of his
functions as a public officer. 147 Thus, the acts constituting direct bribery are: (1) by agreeing to perform, or
by performing, in consideration of any offer, promise, gift or present an act constituting a crime, in
connection with the performance of his official duties; (2) by accepting a gift in consideration of the
execution of an act which does not constitute a crime, in connection with the performance of his official
duty; or (3) by agreeing to refrain, or by refraining, from doing something which is his official duty to do, in
consideration of any gift or promise.148
Indirect bribery
Indirect bribery is committed by a public officer who shall accept gifts offered to him by reason of his
office. The essential ingredient of indirect bribery as defined in Article 211 of the Revised Penal Code is that
the public officer concerned must have accepted the gift or material consideration.149
Malversation of public funds or property
Malversation may be committed either through a positive act of misappropriation of public funds or
property or passively through negligence by allowing another to commit such misappropriation. To sustain a
charge of malversation, there must either be criminal intent or criminal negligence and while the prevailing
facts of a case may not show that deceit attended the commission of the offense, it will not preclude the
reception of evidence to prove the existence of negligence because both are equally punishable in Article
217 of the Revised Penal Code.150
An accountable public officer, within the purview of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, is one
who has custody or control of public funds or property by reason of the duties of his office. xxx The name
or relative importance of the office or employment is not the controlling factor. The nature of the duties of
the public officer or employee, the fact that as part of his duties he received public money for which he is
bound to account and failed to account for it, is the factor which determines whether or not malversation is
committed by the accused public officer or employee.151 Hence, a school principal of a public high school
may be held guilty of malversation if he or she is entrusted with public funds and misappropriates the
same.152
In malversation, all that is necessary to prove is that the defendant received in his possession public
funds; that he could not account for them and did not have them in his possession; and that he could not
give a reasonable excuse for its disappearance. An accountable public officer may be convicted of
malversation even if there is no direct evidence of misappropriation and the only evidence is shortage in his
accounts which he has not been able to explain satisfactorily.153
Demand to produce public funds under a public officers custody is not an essential element of the
felony. The law creates a prima facie presumption of connivance if the public officer fails to produce public
funds under his custody upon demand therefor.154

146

Fernando vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 159751, 06 December 2006


Balderama vs. People, G.R. Nos. 147598-605, 28 January 2008; Merencillo vs. People, G.R. Nos. 142369-70, 13 April 2007
148
Garcia vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 155574, 20 November 2006
149
Garcia vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 155574, 20 November 2006
150
People vs. Ting Lan Uy, G.R. No. 157399, 17 November 2005, 475 SCRA 248
151
Barriga vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 161784-86, 26 April 2005, 457 SCRA 301
152
Torres vs. People, G.R. No. 1753074, 31 August 2011
153
Perez vs. People, G.R. No. 164763, 12 February 2008
154
Pondevida vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 160929-31, 16 August 2005, 467 SCRA 219
147

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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The presumption of conversion incarnated in Article 217, paragraph (4) of the Revised Penal Code is
by its very nature rebuttable. To put it differently, the presumption under the law is not conclusive
but disputable by satisfactory evidence to the effect that the accused did not utilize the public funds or
property for his personal use, gain or benefit.155
A public officer who is not in charge of public funds or property by virtue of her official position, or
even a private individual, may be liable for malversation or illegal use of public funds or property if such
public officer or private individual conspires with an accountable public officer to commit malversation or
illegal use of public funds or property.156
The grant of loans through the "vale" system is a clear case of an accountable officer consenting to
the improper or unauthorized use of public funds by other persons, which is punishable by the law. To
tolerate such practice is to give a license to every disbursing officer to conduct a lending operation with the
use of public funds.157
Technical malversation
For technical malversation to exist, it is necessary that public funds or properties had been diverted
to any public use other than that provided for by law or ordinance. To constitute the crime, there must be a
diversion of the funds from the purpose for which they had been originally appropriated by law or
ordinance.158 Under Article 220, technical malversation has three elements: a) that the offender is an
accountable public officer; b that he applies public funds or property under his administration to some public
use; and c) that the public use for which such funds or property were applied is different from the purpose
for which they were originally appropriated by law or ordinance.159
Criminal intent is not an element of technical malversation. The law punishes the act of diverting
public property earmarked by law or ordinance for a particular public purpose to another public purpose.
The offense is mala prohibita, meaning that the prohibited act is not inherently immoral but becomes a
criminal offense because positive law forbids its commission based on considerations of public policy, order,
and convenience. It is the commission of an act as defined by the law, and not the character or effect
thereof, that determines whether or not the provision is violated. Hence, malice or criminal intent is
completely irrelevant. 160
Murder/homicide
An essential element of murder and homicide, whether in their consummated, frustrated or
attempted stage, is intent of the offenders to kill the victim immediately before or simultaneously with the
infliction of injuries. Intent to kill is a specific intent which the prosecution must prove by direct or
circumstantial evidence, while general criminal intent is presumed from the commission of a felony by
dolo.161
Decapitation of the victims head constitutes outraging or scoffing at the corpse of the victim, thus
qualifying the killing to murder.162
Death caused in a tumultuous affray
A tumultuous affray takes place when a quarrel occurs between several persons who engage in a
confused and tumultuous manner, in the course of which a person is killed or wounded and the author
thereof cannot be ascertained. The quarrel in the instant case is between a distinct group of individuals, one
of whom was sufficiently identified as the principal author of the killing, as against a common, particular
victim. It is not, as the defense suggests, a "tumultuous affray" within the meaning of Art. 251 of The
Revised Penal Code, that is, a melee or free-for-all, where several persons not comprising definite or
155

Agullo vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 132926, 20 July 2001, 361 SCRA 556
Barriga vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 161784-86, 26 April 2005, 457 SCRA 301
157
Chan vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 149613, 09 August 2005, 466 SCRA 190
158
Abdulla vs. People, G.R. No. 150129, 06 April 2005, 455 SCRA 78; Tetangco vs. Ombudsman, G.R. No. 156427, 20 January
2006, 479 SCRA 249
159
Ysidoro vs. People, G.R. No. 192330, 14 November 2012
160
Ysidoro vs. People, G.R. No. 192330, 14 November 2012
161
Rivera vs. People, G.R. No. 166326, 25 January 2006, 480 SCRA 188
162
People vs. Whisenhunt, G.R. No. 123819, 14 November 2001, 386 SCRA 586
156

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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identifiable groups attack one another in a confused and disorganized manner, resulting in the death or
injury of one or some of them.163
Slight physical injuries
When there is no evidence of actual incapacity of the offended party for labor or of the required
medical attendance, the offense is only slight physical injuries.164
Rape
Republic Act No. 8385, otherwise also known as the Anti-Rape Act of 1997, has incorporated a new
chapter in the Revised Penal Code. In a new provision, designated Article 266-A, the crime of rape is
committed either by sexual intercourse or by sexual assault.165 Rape by sexual intercourse, pursuant to the
first paragraph of the article, is committed by a man who shall have carnal knowledge of a
woman,166 under any of the following circumstances; viz:
(a)

Through force, threat, or intimidation;

(b)

When the offended party is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious;

(c)

By means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of authority; and

(d)
When the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age or is demented, even though
none of the circumstances mentioned above be present.
The last of the enumeration, item (d) above, constitutes what is so often referred to as statutory
rape. Rape by sexual assault, mentioned in the second paragraph of the same article, is committed by any
person who, under any of the aforestated circumstances, inserts his penis into another persons mouth or
anal orifice, or any instrument or object into the genital or anal orifice of another person.167
With these amendments, rape was reclassified as a crime against person and not merely a crime
against chastity.168
Rape is consummated by the slightest penetration of the female organ, i.e., touching of either labia
of the pudendum by the penis. There need not be full and complete penetration of the victims vagina for
rape to be consummated.169 Penile invasion necessarily entails contact with the labia. Even the briefest of
contacts, without laceration of the hymen, is deemed to be rape.170
In statutory rape, mere sexual congress with a woman below twelve years of age consummates the
crime of statutory rape regardless of her consent to the act or lack of it. The law presumes that a woman
of tender age does not possess discernment and is incapable of giving intelligent consent to the sexual
act.171
In cases of multiple rape, each of the defendants is responsible not only for the rape committed by
him but also for those committed by the others. Accused-appellant, therefore, is responsible not only for the
rape committed personally by him but also for the two other counts of rape committed by his co-accused.172
Rape through sexual assault
Inserting a finger inside the genital of a woman is rape through sexual assault within the context of
paragraph 2 of Article 266-A of the Revised Penal Code,173 and not merely an act of lasciviousness.174
163

People vs. Unlagada, G.R. No. 141080, 17 September 2002, 389 SCRA 224
Li vs. People, G.R. No. 127962, 14 April 2004, 427 SCRA 217
165
People vs. Buban, G.R. No. 166895, 24 January 2007
166
People vs. Buban, G.R. No. 166895, 24 January 2007
167
People vs. Olaybar, G.R. Nos. 130630-31, 01 October 2003, 412 SCRA 490
168
People vs. Fetalino, G..R. No. 174472, 19 June 2007
169
People vs. Jalosjos, G.R. Nos. 132875-76, 16 November 2001, 369 SCRA 179.
170
People vs. Basquez, G.R. No. 144035, 27 September 2001, 366 SCRA 154
171
People vs. Jalosjos, G.R. Nos. 132875-76, 16 November 2001, 369 SCRA 179
172
People vs. Plurad, G.R. Nos. 138361-63, 03 December 2002, 393 SCRA 306
173
People vs. Soriano, G.R. Nos. 142779-95, 29 August 2002, 388 SCRA 140
174
People vs. Fetalino, G..R. No. 174472, 19 June 2007
164

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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Any physical overt act manifesting resistance against the rape in any degree from the victim is
admissible as evidence of lack of consent. Tenacious resistance, however, is not required. Neither is a
determined and persistent physical struggle on the part of the victim necessary.175
The medico-legal findings are merely corroborative in character and is not an element of rape. The
prime consideration in the prosecution of rape is the victim's testimony, not necessarily the medical findings;
a medical examination of the victim is not indispensable in a prosecution for rape. The victim's testimony
alone, if credible, is sufficient to convict.176
A positive DNA match is unnecessary when the totality of the evidence presented before the court
points to no other possible conclusion, i.e., appellant raped the private offended party. A positive DNA
match may strengthen the evidence for the prosecution, but an inconclusive DNA test result may not be
sufficient to exculpate the accused, particularly when there is sufficient evidence proving his guilt. Notably,
neither a positive DNA match of the semen nor the presence of spermatozoa is essential in finding that rape
was committed. The important consideration in rape cases is not the emission of semen but the penetration
of the female genitalia by the male organ.177
Infanticide vs. unintentional abortion
As distinguished from infanticide, the elements of unintentional abortion are as follows: (1) that
there is a pregnant woman; (2) that violence is used upon such pregnant woman without intending an
abortion; (3) that the violence is intentionally exerted; and (4) that as a result of the violence the fetus dies,
either in the womb or after having been expelled therefrom. In the crime of infanticide, it is necessary that
the child be born alive and be viable, that is, capable of independent existence.178
Kidnapping and serious illegal detention
The essence of the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal detention as defined and penalized in
Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code is the actual deprivation of the victims liberty coupled with the intent
of the accused to effect it.179 It includes not only the imprisonment of a person but also the deprivation of
his liberty in whatever form and for whatever length of time. And liberty is not limited to mere physical
restraint but embraces ones right to enjoy his God-given faculties subject only to such restraints necessary
for the common welfare.180
In cases of kidnapping, if the person detained is a child, the question is whether there was actual
deprivation of the child's liberty, and whether it was the intention of the accused to deprive the parents of
the custody of the child.181 In such case, the duration of his detention is immaterial. 182
If the kidnapping was done for the purpose of extorting ransom, the fourth element is no longer
necessary.183 Likewise, if the victim is kidnapped and illegally detained for the purpose of extorting ransom,
the duration of his detention is immaterial.184
The corpus delicti in the crime of kidnapping for ransom is the fact that an individual has been in any
manner deprived of his liberty for the purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other person.
Whether or not the ransom is actually paid to or received by the perpetrators is of no moment. In People
vs. Salimbago, the Court stressed: x x x No specific form of ransom is required to consummate the felony
of kidnapping for ransom so long as it was intended as a bargaining chip in exchange for the victims
freedom. In municipal criminal law, ransom refers to the money, price or consideration paid or demanded
for redemption of a captured person or persons, a payment that releases from captivity.185 It may include

175

People vs. Gondaway, G.R. Nos. 144344-68, 23 July 2002, 385 SCRA 155
People vs. Perez, G.R. No. 191265, 14 September 2011
177
People vs. Cabigquez, G.R. No. 185708, 29 September 2010
178
People vs. Paycana, G.R. No. 179035, 16 April 2008
179
People vs. Muit, G.R. 181043, 08 October 2008
180 People vs. Mamantak, G.R. 174659, 28 July 2008
181
People vs. Suriaga, G.R. No. 123779, 17 April 2002, 381 SCRA 159
182
People vs. Mamantak, G.R. 174659, 28 July 2008
183
People vs. Silongan, G.R. No. 137182, 24 April 2003, 401 SCRA 459
184
People vs. Tan, G.R. No. 177566, 26 March 2008
185
People vs. Castro, G.R. No. 132726, 23 July 2002, 385 SCRA 24
176

2014 Notes on Criminal Law for Jurists Bar Review Center by Atty. Modesto Ticman, Jr.
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benefits not necessarily pecuniary which may accrue to the kidnapper as a condition for the victims
release.186 The amount of and purpose for the ransom is immaterial.187
The applicable rule when the abduction and killing happened before 31 December 1993,188 is:
a)

Where the accused kidnapped the victim for the purpose of killing him, and he was in fact
killed by his abductor, the crime committed was the complex crime of kidnapping with
murder under Art. 48 of the Revised Penal Code, as kidnapping of the victim was a necessary
means of committing the murder.

b)

Where the victim was kidnapped not for the purpose of killing him but was subsequently
slain as an afterthought, two (2) separate crimes of kidnapping and murder were
committed.189

After said date though, offenders in either case may now be held liable for the special complex crime
of kidnapping with murder or homicide in view of the amendment of Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code
by R.A. No. 7659 by adding the following provision thereto:
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.
No matter how many rapes had been committed in the special complex crime of kidnapping with
rape, the resultant crime is only one kidnapping with rape. This is because these composite acts are
regarded as a single indivisible offense as in fact R.A. No. 7659 punishes these acts with only one single
penalty. In a way, R.A. 7659 depreciated the seriousness of rape because no matter how many times the
victim was raped, like in the present case, there is only one crime committed the special complex crime of
kidnapping with rape.190
Kidnapping and failure to return a minor
Kidnapping and failure to return a minor under Article 270 of the Revised Penal Code has two
essential elements, namely: (1) the offender is entrusted with the custody of a minor person; and (2) the
offender deliberately fails to restore the said minor to his parents or guardians. What is actually being
punished is not the kidnapping of the minor but rather the deliberate failure of the custodian of the minor to
restore the latter to his parents or guardians. The word deliberate as used in Article 270 must imply
something more than mere negligence - it must be premeditated, headstrong, foolishly daring or
intentionally and maliciously wrong.191
Unjust vexation
Unjust vexation is broad enough to include any human conduct which, although not productive of
some physical or material harm, could unjustifiably annoy or vex an innocent person. Compulsion or
restraint need not be alleged in the Information, for the crime of unjust vexation may exist without
compulsion or restraint. However, in unjust vexation, being a felony by dolo, malice is an inherent element
of the crime. Good faith is a good defense to a charge for unjust vexation because good faith negates
malice. The paramount question to be considered is whether the offenders act caused annoyance,
irritation, torment, distress or disturbance to the mind of the person to whom it is directed. The main
purpose of the law penalizing coercion and unjust vexation is precisely to enforce the principle that no
person may take the law into his hands and that our government is one of law, not of men. It is unlawful
for any person to take into his own hands the administration of justice.192
Robbery

186

People vs. Ejandra, G.R. No. 134203, 27 May 2004, 429 SCRA 364
People vs. Mamantak, G.R. 174659, 28 July 2008
188
Date of effectivity of R.A. No. 7659
189
People vs. Solangon, G.R. No. 172693, 21 November 2007.
190
People vs. Mirandilla, G.R. No. 186417, 27 July 2011
191
People vs. Pastrana, G.R. No. 143644, 14 August 2002, 387 SCRA 342; People vs. Bernardo, G.R. No. 144316, 11 March 2002,
378 SCRA 708
192
Maderazo vs. People, G.R. No. 165065, 26 September 2006
187

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In robbery, intent to gain or animus lucrandi may be presumed from the furtive taking of useful
property pertaining to another, unless special circumstances reveal a different intent on the part of the
perpetrator. The intent to gain may be presumed from the proven unlawful taking.193
The term gain is not merely limited to pecuniary benefit but also includes the benefit which in any
other sense may be derived or expected from the act which is performed. Thus, the mere use of the thing
which was taken without the owners consent constitutes gain.194
Robbery through intimidation or violence
In robbery by the taking of property through intimidation or violence, it is not necessary that the
person unlawfully divested of the personal property be the owner thereof. Article 293 of the Revised Penal
Code employs the phrase belonging to another and this has been interpreted to merely require that the
property taken does not belong to the offender. Actual possession of the property by the person
dispossessed thereof suffices.195
Robbery with homicide
In robbery with homicide, the accused must be shown to have the principal purpose of committing
robbery, the homicide being committed either by reason of or on occasion of the robbery. The intent to rob
must precede the taking of human life. So long as the intention of the felons was to rob, the killing may
occur before, during or after the robbery. The original design must have been robbery, and the homicide,
even if it precedes or is subsequent to the robbery, must have a direct relation to, or must be perpetrated
with a view to consummate the robbery. The taking of the property should not be merely an afterthought
which arose subsequently to the killing.196
Even if the malefactor intends to kill and rob another, it does not preclude his conviction for the
special complex crime of robbery with homicide. The fact that the intent of the felons was tempered with a
desire also to avenge grievances against the victim killed, does not negate the conviction of the accused
and punishment for robbery with homicide.197
A homicide is considered as having been committed on the occasion or by reason of the robbery
when the motive of the offender in killing the victim is to deprive the latter of his property, to eliminate an
obstacle to the crime, to protect his possession of the loot, to eliminate witnesses, to prevent his being
apprehended or to insure his escape from the scene of the crime,198 or to prevent discovery of the
commission of the robbery.199 But if robbery was an afterthought and a minor incident in the homicide,
there are two distinct offenses.200
The term "homicide" in Article 294(1) is used in its generic sense, embracing not only the act which
results in death but also all other acts producing anything short of death. Neither is the nature of the
offense altered by the number of killings in connection with the robbery.201 Stated differently, the homicides
or murders and physical injuries, irrespective of their numbers, committed on the occasion or by reason of
the robbery are merged in the composite crime of robbery with homicide.202
Whenever homicide is committed as a consequence or on the occasion of the robbery, all those who
took part as principals in the robbery will also be held guilty as principals in the special complex crime of
robbery with homicide although they did not take part in the homicide, unless it is clearly shown that they
endeavored to prevent the homicide.203
When the special complex crime of robbery with homicide is accompanied by another offense like
rape or intentional mutilation, such additional offense is treated as an aggravating circumstance.204
193

People vs. Reyes, G.R. No.135682, 26 March 2003, 399 SCRA 528
De Guzman vs. People, G.R. No.166502, __ October 2008
195
People vs. Reyes, G.R. No.135682, 26 March 2003, 399 SCRA 528
196
People vs. Lara, G.R. No. 171449, 23 October 2006
197
People vs. Milliam, G.R. No. 129071, 31 January 2000, 324 SCRA 155
198
People vs. Reyes, G.R. No. 153119, 13 April 2004, 427 SCRA 28
199
People vs. Jabiniao, G.R. No. 179499, 30 April 2008
200
People vs. Temanel, G.R. Nos. 97138-39, 28 September 2000, 341 SCRA 319
201
People vs. Zuela, G.R. No. 112177, 28 January 2000, 323 SCRA 589
202
People vs. Dinamling, G.R. No. 134605, 12 March 2002, 379 SCRA 107
203
People vs. Napalit, G.R. No. 142919, 04 February 2003, 396 SCRA 687
204
People vs. Fabon, G.R. No. 133226, 16 March 2000, 328 SCRA 302
194

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When the killing is committed by reason or on the occasion of the robbery, the qualifying
circumstances attendant to the killing would be considered as generic aggravating circumstances.205
Treachery is a generic aggravating circumstance to robbery with homicide although said crime is
classified as a crime against property and a single and indivisible crime. xxx. Treachery is not an element of
robbery with homicide. Neither does it constitute a crime specially punishable by law nor is it included by
the law in defining the crime of robbery with homicide and prescribing the penalty therefor. Treachery is
likewise not inherent in the crime of robbery with homicide. Hence, treachery should be considered as a
generic aggravating circumstance in robbery with homicide for the imposition of the proper penalty for the
crime. xxx. In fine, in the application of treachery as a generic aggravating circumstance to robbery with
homicide, the law looks at the constituent crime of homicide which is a crime against persons and not at the
constituent crime of robbery which is a crime against property. Treachery is applied to the constituent
crime of homicide and not to the constituent crime of robbery of the special complex crime of robbery
with homicide.206
Robbery with rape
In robbery with rape, the offender must have the intent to take the personal property of another
under circumstances that makes the taking one of robbery, and such intent must precede the rape. If the
original plan was to commit rape, but the accused after committing the rape also committed robbery when
the opportunity presented itself, the robbery should be viewed as a separate and distinct crime.207
Once conspiracy is established between two accused in the commission of the crime of robbery, they
would be both equally culpable for the rape committed by one of them on the occasion of the robbery,
unless any of them proves that he endeavored to prevent the other from committing the rape. The rule in
this jurisdiction is that whenever a rape is committed as a consequence, or on the occasion of a robbery, all
those who took part therein are liable as principals of the crime of robbery with rape, although not all of
them took part in the rape.208
Multiplicity of rapes can neither affect the criminal liability of the accused. This is primarily due to the
fact that the juridical concept of this crime does not limit the consummation of rape against one single
victim or to one single act, making other rapes in excess of that number as separate, independent offense
or offenses. All the rapes are merged in the composite, integrated whole that is robbery with rape, so long
as the rapes accompanied the robbery.209
There is no law providing that the additional rape/s or homicide/s should be considered as
aggravating circumstance. The enumeration of aggravating circumstances under Article 14 of the Revised
Penal Code is exclusive as opposed to the enumeration in Article 13 of the same Code regarding mitigating
circumstances where there is specific paragraph (paragraph 10) providing for analogous circumstances.210
Qualified theft
While the mere circumstance that the petitioner is an employee or laborer of DLPC does not suffice
to create the relation of confidence and intimacy that the law requires to designate the crime as qualified
theft, it has been held that access to the place where the taking took place or access to the stolen items
changes the complexion of the crime committed to that of qualified theft.211
Deposits received by a teller in behalf of a bank as being only in the material possession of the
teller. This interpretation applies with equal force to money received by a bank teller at the beginning of a
business day for the purpose of servicing withdrawals. Such is only material possession. Juridical
possession remains with the bank. If the teller appropriates the money for personal gain then the felony
committed is theft and not estafa. Further, since the teller occupies a position of confidence, and the bank

205

People vs. Montinola, G.R. Nos. 131856-57, 09 July 2001, 360 SCRA 631
People vs. Escote, 140756, 04 April 2003, 400 SCRA 603; People vs. Ancheta, G.R. No. 143935, 04 June 2004, 431 SCRA 42
207
People vs. Moreno, G.R. No. 140033, 25 January 2002, 374 SCRA 667
208
People vs. Verceles, G.R. No. 130650, 10 September 2002, 388 SCRA 515
209
People vs. Seguis, G.R. No. 135034, 18 January 2001, 349 SCRA 547
210
People vs. Gano, G.R. No. 134373, 28 February 2001, 353 SCRA 126, citing People vs. Regala.
211
Cariaga vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 143561, 09 June 2001, 358 SCRA 583
206

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places money in the tellers possession due to the confidence reposed on the teller, the felony of qualified
theft would be committed.212
Estafa
A fiduciary relationship between the complainant and the accused is an essential element of estafa
by misappropriation or conversion, without which the accused could not have committed estafa.213
The elements of estafa by misappropriation or conversion are: (1) the offenders receipt of money,
goods, or other personal property in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other
obligation involving the duty to deliver, or to return, the same; (2) misappropriation or conversion by the
offender of the money or property received, or denial of receipt of the money or property; (3) the
misappropriation, conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (4) demand by the offended party
that the offender return the money or property received. xxx. The words convert and misappropriate
connote the act of using or disposing of anothers property as if it were ones own, or of devoting it to a
purpose or use different from that agreed upon. To misappropriate for ones own use includes not only
conversion to ones personal advantage, but also every attempt to dispose of the property of another
without right. In proving the element of conversion or misappropriation, a legal presumption of
misappropriation arises when the accused fails to deliver the proceeds of the sale or to return the items to
be sold and fails to give an account of their whereabouts.214
The consummation of the crime of estafa does not depend on the fact that a request for a return of
the money is first made and refused in order that the author of the crime should comply with the obligation
to return the sum misapplied.215 Demand is not an element of the felony or a condition precedent to the
filing of a criminal complaint for estafa. Indeed, the accused may be convicted of the felony under Article
315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code if the prosecution proved misappropriation or conversion by
the accused of the money or property subject of the Information. In a prosecution for estafa, demand is
not necessary where there is evidence of misappropriation or conversion. However, failure to account upon
demand, for funds or property held in trust, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation.216
Demand need not be formal. It may be verbal. Even a query as to the whereabouts of the money is
tantamount to a demand.217
Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code provides that any person who shall defraud another by any
means mentioned [in Article 315] may be held liable for estafa. The use by the law of the word another
instead of the word owner means that as an element of the offense, loss should have fallen upon
someone other than the perpetrator of the crime.218
A person who has committed illegal recruitment may be charged and convicted separately of the
crime of illegal recruitment under the Labor Code and estafa under paragraph 2(a) of Article 315 of the
Revised Penal Code. The reason for the rule is that the crime of illegal recruitment is malum prohibitum
where the criminal intent of the accused is not necessary for conviction, while the crime of estafa is malum
in se where the criminal intent of the accused is necessary for conviction. In other words, a person
convicted under the Labor Code may also be convicted of offenses punishable by other laws.219
In estafa by postdating a check, the dishonored check must have been postdated or issued at the
time the obligation was contracted. In other words, the date the obligation was entered into, being the very
date the check was issued or postdated, is a material ingredient of the offense.220
To constitute estafa by postdating or issuing a check in payment of an obligation must be the
efficient cause of defraudation, and as such it should be either prior to, or simultaneous with the act of
fraud. The offender must be able to obtain money or property from the offended party because of the
issuance of a check whether postdated or not. That is, the latter would not have parted with his money or
212

Roque vs. People, G.R. No. 138954, 25 November 2004, 444 SCRA 98
Murao vs. People, G.R. No. 141485, 30 June 2005, 462 SCRA 366
214
Pamintuan vs. People, G.R. No. 172820, 23 June 2010
215
Nepomoceno vs. People, G.R. No. 166246, 30 April 2008
216
Cosme vs. People, G.R. No. 149753, 27 November 2006
217
Lee vs. People, G.R. No. 157781, 11 April 2005, 455 SCRA 256
218
Salazar vs. People, G.R. No. 149472, 15 October 2002, 391 SCRA 162
219
People vs. Comila, G.R. No. 171448, 28 February 2007
220
People vs. Dinglasan, G.R. No. 133645, 17 September 2002, 389 SCRA 71
213

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other property were it not for the issuance of the check.221 The check should have been issued as an
inducement for the surrender by the party deceived of his money or property, and not in payment of a preexisting obligation.222
There is no estafa through bouncing checks when it is shown that private complainant knew that the
drawer did not have sufficient funds in the bank at the time the check was issued to him. Such knowledge
negates the element of deceit and constitutes a defense in estafa through bouncing checks.223
The failure of the drawer of the check to deposit an amount sufficient to cover the check within
three days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or payee or holder that said check has been dishonored
for lack or insufficiency of funds shall be prima facie evidence of deceit constituting false pretense or
fraudulent act.224
Under Article 315 (2) (d), failure of the drawer of the check to deposit an amount sufficient to cover
the check within three days from receipt of notice from the bank and/or payee or holder that said check has
been dishonored for lack or insufficiency of funds shall be prima facie evidence of deceit constituting false
pretense or fraudulent act.225
Uncollected deposits are not the same as insufficient funds. The prima facie presumption of deceit
arises only when a check has been dishonored for lack or insufficiency of funds. Notably, the law speaks of
insufficiency of funds but not of uncollected deposits.226
Under paragraph 2(d), if there is no proof of notice of dishonor, knowledge of insufficiency of funds
cannot be presumed, and unless there is a priori intent, which is hard to determine and may not be inferred
from mere failure to comply with a promise, no Estafa can be deemed to exist. So holds the 2004 case of
People v. Ojeda. 227
x x x [N]otice of dishonor is required under both par. 2(d) Art. 315 of the
R[evised] P[enal] C[ode] and Sec. 2 of BP 22. While the RPC prescribes that the drawer of
the check must deposit the amount needed to cover his check within three days from receipt
of notice of dishonor, BP 22, on the other hand, requires the maker or drawer to pay the
amount of the check within five days from receipt of notice of dishonor. Under both laws,
notice of dishonor is necessary for prosecution (for estafa and violation of BP 22).
Without proof of notice of dishonor, knowledge of insufficiency of funds cannot be presumed
and no crime (whether estafa or violation of BP 22) can be deemed to exist.
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Notice of dishonor being then an element of a charge under Article 2(d) under which petitioner was
clearly charged, failure to prove it is a ground for acquittal thereunder.228
The reimbursement or restitution to the offended party of the sums swindled by the petitioner does
not extinguish the criminal liability of the latter. It only extinguishes pro tanto the civil liability. Moreover,
estafa is a public offense which must be prosecuted and punished by the State on its own motion even
though complete reparation had been made for the loss or damage suffered by the offended party. The
consent of the private complainant to petitioners payment of her civil liability pendente lite does not entitle
the latter to an acquittal. Subsequent payments does not obliterate the criminal liability already incurred.
Criminal liability for estafa is not affected by a compromise between petitioner and the private complainant
on the formers civil liability.229

221

People vs. Reyes, G.R. No. 154159, 31 March 2005, 454 SCRA 635
People vs. Nagrampa, G.R. No. 146211, 06 August 2002, 386 SCRA 412
223
People vs. Reyes, G.R. No. 154159, 31 March 2005, 454 SCRA 635
224
People vs. Dinglasan, G.R. No. 133645, 17 September 2002, 389 SCRA 71
225
Ibid.; Flores vs. People, G.R. Nos. 146921-22, 31 January 2002, 375 SCRA 491; People vs. Holzer, G.R. No. 132323, 20 July
2000, 336 SCRA 319.
226
Dy vs. People, G.R. No. 158312, 14 November 2008
227
People vs. Ojeda, G.R. Nos. 104238-58, 03 June 2004, 430 SCRA 436
228
Ong vs. People, G.R. No. 165275, 23 September 2008
229
People vs. Durano, G.R. No. 175316, 28 March 2007; Recuerdo vs. People, G.R. No. 168217, 27 June 2006, 493 SCRA 517
222

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Arson
In cases where both burning and death occur, in order to determine what crime/crimes was/were
perpetrated whether arson, murder or arson and homicide/murder, it is de rigueur to ascertain the main
objective of the malefactor: (a) if the main objective is the burning of the building or edifice, but death
results by reason or on the occasion of arson, the crime is simply arson, and the resulting homicide is
absorbed; (b) if, on the other hand, the main objective is to kill a particular person who may be in a building
or edifice, when fire is resorted to as the means to accomplish such goal the crime committed is murder
only; lastly, (c) if the objective is, likewise, to kill a particular person, and in fact the offender has already
done so, but fire is resorted to as a means to cover up the killing, then there are two separate and distinct
crimes committed homicide/murder and arson.230
Forcible abduction with rape
For the crime of kidnapping with rape, the offender should not have taken the victim with lewd
designs, otherwise, it would be complex crime of forcible abduction with rape. If the taking was by forcible
abduction and the woman was raped several times, the crimes committed is one complex crime of forcible
abduction with rape, in as much as the forcible abduction was only necessary for the first rape; and each of
the other counts of rape constitutes distinct and separate count of rape.231
Bigamy
It is essential in the prosecution for bigamy that the alleged second marriage, having all the essential
requirements, would be valid were it not for the subsistence of the first marriage. xxx. It does not matter
whether the first marriage is void or voidable because such marriages have juridical effects until lawfully
dissolved by a court of competent jurisdiction.232
A declaration of the absolute nullity of a marriage is now explicitly required either as a cause of
action or a ground for defense. Where the absolute nullity of a previous marriage is sought to be invoked
for purposes of contracting a second marriage, the sole basis acceptable in law for said projected marriage
to be free from legal infirmity is a final judgment declaring the previous marriage void. xxx. The requirement
for a declaration of absolute nullity of a marriage is also for the protection of the spouse who, believing that
his or her marriage is illegal and void, marries again. With the judicial declaration of the nullity of his or her
marriage, the person who marries again cannot be charged with bigamy.233
The mere private act of signing a marriage contract bears no semblance to a valid marriage and
thus, needs no judicial declaration of nullity. Such act alone, without more, cannot be deemed to constitute
an ostensibly valid marriage for which petitioner might be held liable for bigamy unless he first secures a
judicial declaration of nullity before he contracts a subsequent marriage.234
Accused Atilano Nollora, Jr., in marrying his second wife, co-accused Rowena P. Geraldino, did not
comply with the above-mentioned provision of the law. In fact, he did not even declare that he was a
Muslim convert in both marriages, indicating his criminal intent. In his converting to the Muslim faith, said
accused entertained the mistaken belief that he can just marry anybody again after marrying the private
complainant. What is clear, therefore, is [that] a Muslim is not given an unbridled right to just marry
anybody the second, third or fourth time. There are requirements that the Sharia law imposes, that is, he
should have notified the Sharia Court where his family resides so that copy of said notice should be
furnished to the first wife. The argument that notice to the first wife is not required since she is not a
Muslim is of no moment. This obligation to notify the said court rests upon accused Atilano Nollora, Jr. It is
not for him to interpret the Sharia law. It is the Sharia Court that has this authority. 235
Libel
In determining whether a statement is defamatory, the words used are to be construed in their
entirety and should be taken in their plain, natural and ordinary meaning as they would naturally be
230

People vs. Malngan, G.R. No. 170470, 26 September 2006


People vs. Mirandilla, G.R. No. 186417, 27 July 2011
232
Manuel vs. People, G.R. No. 165482, 29 November 2005, 476 SCRA 461
233
Teves vs. People, G.R. No. 188775, 24 August 2011
234
Morigo vs. People, G.R. No. 145226, 06 February 2004, 422 SCRA 376
235
Nollora vs. People, G.R. No. 191425, 07 November 2011
231

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understood by persons reading them, unless it appears that they were used and understood in another
sense.236
In libel cases, the question is not what the writer of the libelous material means, but what the words
used by him mean.237
Publication, in the law of libel, means the making of the defamatory matter, after it has been
written, known to someone other than the person to whom it has been written. If the statement is sent
straight to a person for whom it is written there is no publication of it.238
It is enough that the author of the libel complained of has communicated it to a third person.
Furthermore, the letter, when found in the mailbox, was open, not contained in an envelope thus, open to
public.239
Malice is a term used to indicate the fact that the offender is prompted by personal ill-will or spite
and speaks not in response to duty, but merely to injure the reputation of the person defamed; it implies an
intention to do ulterior and unjustifiable harm. It is present when it is shown that the author of the libelous
remarks made such remarks with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard as to the truth or
falsity thereof.240
Unfounded and malicious statements made by one against another in the course of an election
campaign, or by reason of differences in political views are not per se constitutionally protected speech. Our
laws on defamation provide for sanctions against unjustified and malicious injury to a persons reputation
and honor. Although wider latitude is given to defamatory utterances against public officials in connection
with or relevant to their performance of official duties, or against public figures in relation to matters of
public interest involving them, such defamatory utterances do not automatically fall within the ambit of
constitutionally protected speech. If the utterances are false, malicious or unrelated to a public officers
performance of his duties, the same may give rise to criminal and civil liability. 241
In libel cases against public officials, for liability to arise, the alleged defamatory statement must
relate to official conduct, even if the defamatory statement is false, unless the public official concerned
proves that the statement was made with actual malice, that is, with knowledge that it was false or not.242
The actual malice rule to apply not only to public officials, but also to public figures. If the
statements made against the public figure are essentially true, then no conviction for libel can be had. Any
statement that does not contain a provably false factual connotation will receive full constitutional
protection.243
To sustain a conviction for libel, proof of knowledge of and participation in the publication of the
offending article is not required, if the accused has been specifically identified as author, editor, or
proprietor or printer/publisher of the publication. Article 360 is clear and unambiguous, and to apply
People v. Beltran and Soliven,244 which requires specific knowledge, participation, and approval on the part
of the publisher to be liable for the publication of a libelous article, would be reading into the law an
additional requirement that was not intended by it.245
An editor or manager of a newspaper, who has active charge and control of its management,
conduct, and policy, generally is held to be equally liable with the owner for the publication therein of a
libelous article. On the theory that it is the duty of the editor or manager to know and control the contents
of the paper, it is held that said person cannot evade responsibility by abandoning the duties to employees,
so that it is immaterial whether or not the editor or manager knew the contents of the publication.246

236

Binay vs. Secretary of Justice, G.R. No. 170643, 08 September 2006


Figueroa vs. People, G.R. No. 159813, 09 August 2006
238
Magno vs. People, G.R. No. 133896, 27 January 2006, 480 SCRA 276
239
Buatis vs. People, G.R. No. 142509, 24 March 2006, 485 SCRA 275
240
Brillante vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 118757 and 121571, 19 October 2004, 440 SCRA 541
241
Ibid.
242
Jalandoni vs. Hon. Secretary of Justice, G.R. Nos. 115239-40, 02 March 2000, 327 SCRA 107
243
Guingguing vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 128959, 30 September 2005, 471 SCRA 196
244
CA-G.R. CR No. 13561, 06 November 1995
245
Fermin vs. People, G.R. No. 157643, 28 March 2008
246
Tulfo vs. People, G.R. No. 161032, 16 September 2008
237

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The venue of libel cases where the complainant is a private individual is limited to only either of two
places, namely: 1) where the complainant actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense; or
2) where the alleged defamatory article was printed and first published. xxx. If the circumstances as to
where the libel was printed and first published are used by the offended party as basis for the venue in the
criminal action, the Information must allege with particularity where the defamatory article was printed and
first published (not where the defamatory article was first accessed by private complainant), as evidenced
or supported by, for instance, the address of their editorial or business offices in the case of newspapers,
magazines or serial publications. This pre-condition becomes necessary in order to forestall any inclination
to harass.247
The same measure cannot be reasonably expected when it pertains to defamatory material
appearing on a website on the internet as there would be no way of determining the situs of its printing and
first publication. To credit Gimenezs premise of equating his first access to the defamatory article on
petitioners website in Makati with printing and first publication would spawn the very ills that the
amendment to Article 360 of the RPC sought to discourage and prevent. It hardly requires much
imagination to see the chaos that would ensue in situations where the websites author or writer, a blogger
or anyone who posts messages therein could be sued for libel anywhere in the Philippines that the private
complainant may have allegedly accessed the offending website.248
Slander
Slander is libel committed by oral (spoken) means, instead of in writing. The term oral defamation or
slander as now understood, has been defined as the speaking of base and defamatory words which tend to
prejudice another in his reputation, office, trade, business or means of livelihood.
There is grave slander when it is of a serious and insulting nature. The gravity of the oral
defamation depends not only (1) upon the expressions used, but also (2) on the personal relations of the
accused and the offended party, and (3) the circumstances surrounding the case. Indeed, it is a doctrine of
ancient respectability that defamatory words will fall under one or the other, depending not only upon their
sense, grammatical significance, and accepted ordinary meaning judging them separately, but also upon the
special circumstances of the case, antecedents or relationship between the offended party and the offender,
which might tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time.249
Slander by deed
Slander by deed is a libel committed by actions rather than words. The most common examples are
slapping someone or spitting on his/her face in front of the public market, in full view of a crowd, thus
casting dishonor, discredit, and contempt upon the person of another.250
Petitioners act of pointing a dirty finger at complainant constitutes simple slander by deed, it
appearing from the factual milieu of the case that the act complained of was employed by petitioner "to
express anger or displeasure" at complainant for procrastinating the approval of his leave monetization.
While it may have cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon complainant, said act is not of a serious
nature.251
Criminal negligence
Violation of Article 365 of the RPC cannot absorb violation of special laws. A mala in se felony (such
as Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property) cannot absorb mala prohibita crimes (such as
those violating PD 1067, PD 984, and RA 7942). What makes the former a felony is criminal intent (dolo) or
negligence (culpa); what makes the latter crimes are the special laws enacting them.252
-o0o247

Bonifacio vs. RTC of Makati, Branch 149, et al., G.R. No. 184800, 05 May 2010
Ibid.
249
Villanueva vs. People, G.R. No. 160351, 10 April 2006, 487 SCRA 42
250
Ibid.
251
Ibid.
252
Loney vs. People, G.R. No. 152644, 10 February 2006, 482 SCRA 194
248

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