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[G.R. No. 130707.

July 31, 2001]

Petitioners appeal via certiorari from the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals which set aside the
decision of the trial court and declared respondents lawful owners and possessors of the entire
parcel of land with a total area of eight hundred eighty four (884) square meters, situated at
Poblacion, Isabel, Leyte, covered by Tax Declaration No. 67 in the name of respondent Adelaida
On January 2, 1976, spouses Dominador Arbasa and Adelaida Roble (hereinafter referred to as
respondents) purchased from Fidela Roble an unregistered parcel of land located at Poblacion,
Isabel, Leyte.[3] As reflected on the deed of sale, the property had a total land area of two hundred
forty (240) square meters. Due to their diligent efforts in reclaiming a portion of the sea, using
stones, sand and gravel, the original size of two hundred forty (240) square meters increased to
eight hundred eighty four (884) square meters,[4] described as follows:
A parcel of residential land with all the improvements thereon; bounded on the North, by Lot
Nos. 036 and 037; East, by Roxas Street; South, Seashore and CAD Lot No. 952; and West, by Lot
Nos. 024 and 025. It has an area of 884 sq. meters, more or less, and declared in the name of
plaintiff Adelaida Arbasa under Tax Declaration no. 7068-A and later superseded by Tax Declaration
No. 67. It has an assessed value of P31,870.00.[5]
Since 1976 and until the present, respondents have been in actual, open, peaceful and
continuous possession of the entire parcel of land in the concept of owners and had it declared for
taxation purposes in the name of respondent Adelaida Arbasa. Included in the sale were the
improvements found on the land, consisting mainly of the house of Fidela. [6]
Adelaida tolerated her sister Fidelas continued stay at the house. Living with Fidela in the
same house were their nieces, petitioners Veronica Roble and Lilibeth Roble as well as the latters
spouse Bobby Portugaliza. Veronica and Lilibeth Roble are the daughters of Gualberto Roble,
deceased brother of Fidela and Adelaida.
Shortly after Fidelas death on June 15, 1989, petitioners Veronica and Lilibeth Roble claimed
ownership of the house and the southern portion of the land with an area of 644 square meters.
Fidela died intestate and without issue. Meanwhile, Gualberto Roble, petitioners father, died
sometime in December 1986.
In January 1990, petitioners had this parcel of land declared for taxation purposes in the
names of Fidela Roble under Tax Declaration No. 8141 and of Gualberto Roble under Tax
Declaration No. 8142.
As efforts to have them vacate the house and desist from claiming the parcel of land failed,
respondent spouses Dominador and Adelaida Roble-Arbasa, referred the dispute to the barangay
authorities for conciliation. Nothing happened at the barangay level.[7] Hence, on February 27,
1990, spouses
Arbasa filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 12, Ormoc City an action for quieting of title
with damages.[8]
On April 4, 1990, petitioner Veronica Roble, Lilibeth Roble and Bobby Portugaliza filed an
answer to the complaint denying its material allegations. [9] They said that the total area of the lot
which respondents bought from Fidela consisted only of two hundred forty (240) square meters,
located at the northern portion of the property. This property was originally classified as foreshore
land, but in 1957, due to the effort of Ireneo Roble, father of Fidela, Adelaida and Gualberto, a
portion of the sea was reclaimed and filled up. This was the piece of property where respondents
exercised open, public and continuous possession in the concept of owner, and which had been
declared for taxation purposes in the name of Adelaida Roble in Tax Declaration No. 7068. [10] With
the issuance of a new tax declaration in the name of Adelaida, Tax Declaration No. 5108-R-5
originally registered in the name of Fidela Roble, was cancelled. [11]
Petitioners attached as an integral part of their answer a copy of the deed of sale dated
January 2, 1976, executed by Fidela Roble in favor of Adelaida Arbasa. The property subject of
the sale was aptly described as follows:
This is a whole parcel of residential land, located at Poblacion, Isabel, Leyte, per Tax
Declaration No. 5108-R-5, under the name of Fidela Roble, being bounded on the North, by Matilde
Evangelista; East, by Harrison now Roxas Street; South, by Seashore; and West, by Crestito
Manipes, having an area of 240 square meters more or less, with improvements thereon. [12]
In the late 1960s, Ireneo, with the help of his son Gualberto reclaimed additional portion of the
seashore at the southern portion adjacent to the 240 square meters land earlier reclaimed and
declared in the name of Fidela Roble. Because of this, the original area of two hundred forty (240)

square meters increased by six hundred forty four (644) square meters and became eight hundred
eighty four (884), including the portion sold to Adelaida. The 644 square meters was then divided
into two (2) lots of equal proportion, evidenced by Tax Declaration Nos. 8141 [13] and 8142[14] in the
names of Fidela and Gualberto, respectively. Payment of taxes on both tax declarations
commenced in the year 1980.[15]
Constructed over the eight hundred eighty four (884) square meters lot were three (3)
concrete houses. One of the houses was located over the two hundred forty (240) squaremeter parcel of land that spouses Arbasa bought from Fidela. The other houses belonged to
Fidela, located at the central portion, and Gualberto, which was constructed over the southernmost
portion of the eight hundred eighty (884) square meters land.
The house at the central portion was first declared in the name of Fidela under Tax Declaration
No. 3548, commencing with the year 1974.[16] This was later cancelled by Tax Declaration No.
5057, covering the year 1979, and later was cancelled by Tax Declaration No. 3638, beginning with
the year 1985.[17] Meanwhile, the house at the southernmost portion of the land was declared in
Gualbertos name under Tax Declaration No. 3549, [18] commencing with the year 1974, later
cancelled by Tax Declaration No. 5060,[19] then by Tax Declaration No. 5662.[20] The latest tax
declaration on the residential house, Tax Declaration No. 226 [21] cancelled the previous ones and
commenced in the year 1989.
The two lots located at the southern portion, according to petitioners, were owned by their
predecessors-in-interest Fidela (322 square meters) and Gualberto Roble (322 square meters) who
had open, public and continuous possession in the concept of owner. Like Fidelas house, the
two (2) parcels of land had been possessed in the concept of owners by their predecessors-ininterest, and were not included in the deed of sale.
At the pre-trial conference held on July 4, 1990, the parties defined the issue to be: whether
the deed of sale executed on January 2, 1975 by Fidela Roble in favor of respondents conveyed the
entire eight hundred eighty four (884) square meters parcel of land, including the house of Fidela,
or it covered only two hundred forty (240) square meters located at the northern portion of the
On July 16, 1991, the trial court rendered a decision finding that the January 2, 1976 deed of
absolute sale executed by Fidela Roble covered only a total area of two hundred forty (240) square
meters in favor of respondents and not the entire eight hundred eighty four (884) square meters
claimed by respondents. Moreover, the house of Fidela was not found on the 240 square meters
parcel subject of the deed of sale, and such improvement was not included in the sale.
The trial court held that pursuant to Rule 130, Section 9 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, the
deed of sale was the best evidence of the contents of the agreement. Based on the documentary
evidence consisting of the deed of absolute sale and tax declarations issued over the property, the
house of Fidela Roble was not situated on the part of the property that was sold to respondents.
Hence, respondents claim has no basis. The dispositive portion of the afore-said decision reads:
WHEREFORE, judgement is hereby rendered finding the plaintiffs the owners in fee simple of
only TWO HUNDRED FORTY Square Meters (240), more or less, of the parcel of land subject of the
complaint and described in T. D. No. 7068; dismissing the counter-claim and ordering the
plaintiffs to pay the costs.[23]
On August 8, 1991, respondents appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals. [24]
On August 15, 1991, petitioners appealed the decision insofar as it denied their claim for
damages and attorneys fees.[25] Petitioners claimed that they were compelled to hire the services
of a lawyer because respondents filed suit against them, which the latter knew was malicious and
without basis in law or in fact.
After due proceedings, on January 15, 1997, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision
affirming the finding of the trial court that the deed of sale conveyed only 240 square meters of
the parcel of land existing at the time of the sale.
The Court of Appeals observed that from the wording of the deed of
sale, Fidela Roble sold to respondents the whole parcel of residential land bounded on the
south by the seashore. The Court of Appeals opined that this technical description, as contained
in the deed of sale, lent credence to the claim of respondents that they were responsible for
reclaiming the 644 square meters claimed by petitioners. For if at the time of sale the 644 square
meters were already in existence, the deed of sale would have described the metes and bounds of
the property that was sold in a different way. It would have referred to the boundary at the south
as the remaining portion of the vendors property or would have mentioned the names of Fidela
or Gualberto Roble as the owners of the adjoining properties, and not described the seashore as
the boundary in the south. The dispositive portion of the decision reads, thus:
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, we rule in favor of plaintiffs-appellants and SET
ASIDE the judgment of the lower court. Another one is hereby entered declaring them as lawful

owners and entitled to the possession of the entire parcel of land containing an area of 884 square
meters, which is covered by Tax Declaration No. 67 in the name of plaintiff-appellant Adelaida
Roble Arbasa. No pronouncement as to costs.SO ORDERED
On August 13, 1997, the Court of Appeals denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration
for lack of merit. In so ruling, the court said:
We have repeatedly ruled that where land is sold for lump sum and not so much per unit of
measure or number, the boundaries of the land stated in the contract determine the effects and
scope of the sale, not the area thereof. Hence, the vendors are obligated to deliver all the land
included within the boundaries regardless of whether the real area should be greater or smaller
than that recited in the deed. This is particularly true when the area is described as humigit
kumulang, that is, more or less. Hence, this appeal.[28]
We find the appeal meritorious.
Jurisprudence teaches us that as a rule, jurisdiction of this Court in cases brought to it from the
Court of Appeals is limited to the review and revision of errors of law committed by the appellate
court.[29]As the findings of fact of the appellate court are deemed conclusive, [30] this Court is not
duty-bound to analyze and weigh all over again the evidence considered in the proceedings below.
However, this rule is not absolute.[31] There are exceptional circumstances that would compel
the Court to review the findings of fact of the Court of Appeals. [32]
Here, the Court of Appeals findings and conclusions are contrary to those of the trial court.
After an assiduous scrutiny of the evidence, we find reason to reverse the factual findings of
the Court of Appeals and affirm that of the trial court.
The sale that transpired on January 2, 1976 between vendor Fidela and vendee Adelaida was
one of cuerpo cierto or a sale for lump sum. Pursuant to Article 1542, Civil Code of the Philippines,
in the sale of real estate, made for a lump sum and not at the rate of a certain sum for a unit of
measure or number, there shall be no increase or decrease of the price although there be a
greater or lesser area or number than that stated in the contract. Thus, the obligation of the
vendor is to deliver everything within the boundaries, inasmuch as it is the entirety thereof that
distinguishes the determinate object.[33]
However, this rule admits of an exception. A vendee of land, when sold in gross or with the
description more or less with reference to its area, does not thereby ipso facto take all risk of
quantity in the land. The use of more or less or similar words in designating quantity covers only
a reasonable excess or deficiency.[34] In the case at bar, the parties to the agreement described the
land subject of the sale in this wise.
This is a whole parcel of residential land, located at Poblacion, Isabel, Leyte, per Tax
Declaration No. 5108-R-5, under the name of Fidela Roble, being bounded in the North, by Matilde
Evangelista; East, by Harrison now Roxas Street; South, by Seashore; and West, by Cristito
Manipes, having an approximate area of 240 square meters more or less, with all improvements
thereon:[emphasis supplied]
An area of 644 square meters more is not reasonable excess or deficiency, to be deemed
included in the deed of sale of January 2, 1976.
Moreover, at the time of the sale, the only piece of land existing was 240 square meters, the
subject of the deed of sale. This 240 square meters parcel of land was originally foreshore
land, hence, not alienable and disposable. It was only in 1952, that Fidela applied for and was
granted a foreshore lease.[35] In 1965, the provincial assessor issued a tax declaration in her name.
Respondent Adelaida admitted this fact, thus:
Is it not a fact that this land of 280 [sic] square meters was applied by Fidela Roble for
foreshore lease way back in 1952? Are you aware of that?
I know, sir.
And at that time in 1952, only these 280 square meters was yet existing. Do you agree
with me on that?
Yes, sir.
And these 280 [sic] square meters exist because of the diligence of Fidela Roble in filling
this up with boulders, rocks, sand and gravel?
That is not correct, because that was sold to me under a Deed of sale.
Is it not a fact that prior to the sale and prior to the existence of the 280 [sic] square
meters, this was yet part of the littoral zone or part of the sea?
Yes, sir.
And you caused the reclamation of the original area?
It was she who did it because it was not yet sold to me.[37]
Adela confirmed that when the sale took place in 1976, the houses of Fidela and Gualberto,
constructed earlier in 1971, were situated on foreshore lands adjacent to the property that Fidela
sold to her. The houses, made of concrete materials and are two-stories high, could be reached by
seawater.[38] This lent credence to the claim of petitioners that what was sold to respondents was

indeed only 240 square meters parcel of land. This also explained why in the technical description
of the property as embodied in the deed of sale, the property was described as bounded on the
south by the seashore.
As held by the trial court, when the terms of an agreement had been reduced to writing, it is
considered as containing all the terms agreed upon and there can be, between the parties and
their successor-in-interest, no evidence of such terms other than the contents of the written
We find no ambiguity in the terms and stipulations of the deed of sale. Contracts are the laws
between the contracting parties. It shall be fulfilled according to the literal sense of their
stipulations. If their terms are clear and leave no room for doubt as to the intention of the
contracting parties, the contracts are obligatory no matter what their forms may be, whenever the
essential requisites for their validity are present. [40] Sale, by its very nature, is a consensual
contract because it is perfected by mere consent. The essential elements of a contract of sale are
the following: (a) consent or meeting of the minds, that is consent to transfer ownership in
exchange for the price; (b) determinate subject matter; and (c) price certain in money or its
equivalent.[41] All these elements are present in the instant case.
Moreover, parol evidence rule forbids any addition to or contradiction of the terms of a written
instrument by testimony or other evidence purporting to show that, at or before the execution of
the parties written agreement, other or different terms were agreed upon by the parties, varying
the purport of the written contract. When an agreement has been reduced to writing, the parties
can not be permitted to adduce evidence to prove alleged practices, which to all purposes would
alter the terms of the written agreement. Whatever is not found in the writing is understood to
have been waived and abandoned.[42]
The rule is in fact founded on long experience that written evidence is so much more certain
and accurate than that which rests in fleeting memory only, that it would be unsafe, when parties
have expressed the terms of their contract in writing, to admit weaker evidence to control and vary
the stronger and to show that the parties intended a different contract from that expressed in the
writing signed by them.[43]
The rule is not without exceptions, however, as it is likewise provided that a party to an action
may present evidence to modify, explain, or add to the terms of the written agreement if he puts
in issue in his pleadings: (a) an intrinsic ambiguity, mistake or imperfection in the written
agreement; (b) the failure of the written agreement to express the true intent and agreement of
the parties thereto; (c) the validity of the written agreement; or (d) the existence of other terms
agreed to by the parties or their successors in interest after the execution of the written
None of the aforecited exceptions finds application to the instant case. Nor did respondents
raise this issue at the proceedings before the trial court.
With regard to the ownership over the 644 square meters of land located at the southern
portion of the original 240 square meters conveyed to Adela, there is a question regarding the true
nature of the land, which has the features of a foreshore land.
Even though respondents claim that they were responsible for reclaiming the portion of the
foreshore land adjacent to the property they bought from petitioners predecessor in interest, there
is no evidence that respondents subsequently filed an application for lease with regard to the 644
square meters of reclaimed land.
Foreshore land is a part of the alienable land of the public domain and may be disposed of only
by lease and not otherwise.[45] It is the strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks
and is alternatively wet and dry according to the flow of tide. [46] It is that part of the land adjacent
to the sea, which is alternately covered and left dry by the ordinary flow of tides. [47]
There is a need, therefore, to determine whether the lands subject of the action for quieting of
title are foreshore lands. The classification of public lands is a function of the executive branch of
government, specifically the director of lands (now the director of the Lands Management Bureau).
Due to the dearth of evidence on this particular issue, we cannot arrive at a conclusive
classification of the land involved. The instant case has to be remanded to the trial court for that
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.
R. CV No. 38738 is hereby SET ASIDE. The case is remanded to the Regional Trial Court, Branch
12, Leyte for further proceedings.
No costs.

[G.R. No. 110813. June 28, 2001]

PARDUA, GEORGE PARDUA, and WARLITO PARDUA, accused-appellants.


The case is an appeal from the decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court, Isabela, Roxas, Branch 23
convicting accused Ernesto Pardua, Rogelio Pardua, George Pardua and Warlito Pardua of murder
and sentencing each of them to reclusion perpetua and to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs
of the victim Toribio Simpliciano in the amount of P62,000.00 as actual and compensatory
damages, and an additional sum of P150,000.00 as moral and exemplary damages and to pay the
Only accused Ernesto Pardua was charged in the original information. [2] On May 13, 1991, at
the arraignment, accused Ernesto Pardua pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. [3]
After the prosecution presented two witnesses, namely, Orlando Simpliciano and Alfredo
Villanueva, on May 21, 1991, the prosecution filed a motion to admit amended information to

include accused Rogelio, Warlito and George, all surnamed Pardua and one Robert dela Cruz, who
remained at large.[4]
The two prosecution witnesses were recalled for the retaking of their testimony against the
three other accused. Of the two, only Orlando Simpliciano was presented for cross-examination
because Alfredo Villanueva could no longer be located.
On July 3, 1991, the trial court admitted the amended information filed by 4 th Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor Efren M. Cacatian of Isabela, [5] charging accused Ernesto Pardua, Rogelio
Pardua @ Angkuan, Warlito Pardua @ Pollit, George Pardua and Robert Dela Cruz with murder,
committed as follows:
That on or about the 9th day of November, 1989, in the municipality of Roxas, province of Isabela,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the herein accused, conspiring,
confederating together and helping one another, with evident premeditation and treachery, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill suddenly and unexpectedly
and without giving him chance to defend himself, assault, attack, club and hack with long bolos
(panabas) one Toribio Simpliciano inflicting upon him multiple stab and hack wounds on the
different parts of his body which directly caused his instantaneous death due to massive
hemorrhage and skull fracture.
Upon arraignment on November 4, 1991, accused Rogelio Pardua and George Pardua entered
a plea of "not guilty" to the offense charged.[6] Warlito Pardua, however, was arrested later on and
was arraigned on December 9, 1991. He, likewise, entered a plea of "not guilty."[7] Robert de la
Cruz remained at large.
The facts are as follows:
About 8:00 in the morning of November 9, 1989, Toribio Simpliciano and his hired farm hands,
including his nephews, Alfredo Villanueva and Orlando Simpliciano, were plowing Toribios rice field
in Rang-ayan, Roxas, Isabela. All five accused, riding on a trailer drawn by a kuliglig arrived at
said place. Forthwith, they jumped off the trailer and attacked Toribio. Rogelio Pardua hacked
Toribio with a long bolo locally known as Tabas hitting him on the neck and the hips while Warlito
Pardua, then holding a piece of wood known as dos por dos, hit the hapless victim as the latter
fell to the ground. Then too, George Pardua and his brother-in-law Robert de la Cruz hit the fallen
Toribio with their own long bolos while Ernesto Pardua, armed with a shotgun called quebrang in
the locality, mauled the victim and pointed the same to Toribios farm companions to prevent them
from coming to the rescue of Toribio. Thereafter, the five assailants hurried back to their ride and
left the scene. Seeing the assailants gone, Toribios companions rushed him to the hospital, where
he later expired.[8]
Leonora Simpliciano, widow of the victim, testified that while she was sweeping their yard in
front of their house that fateful morning, she overheard Atty. Bugarin talking with the accused
Ernesto, Rogelio, Warlito, George and Robert in the house of one Danny Jose. Atty. Bugaring, who
resented his ejectment from the house of Adora, daughter of Toribio and Leonora, told assailants
that if they would kill Toribio, he (Atty. Bugarin) would be responsible for them. Leonora then saw
Danny Jose hand a firearm to Rogelio. Sensing imminent danger to her husbands life, she
hastened to seek assistance from the police but soon after she reached the police station,
somebody arrived and frantically said her husband was slain in the ricefield. She also suffered
mental anguish and pain, she had sleepless nights and could hardly eat. [9]
On November 10, 1989, Dr. Conrado L. Gabriel, Municipal Health Officer of Ilagan, Isabela,
examined Toribio Simpliciano and issued a post-mortem examination report. [10] He testified there
was a fracture on the victims skull, possibly caused by a blunt instrument; head stab wounds,
about two (2) centimeters in length and one-half (1/2) inch depth, possibly caused by a sharp,
triangular instrument; echymotic swollen eyes, possibly caused by a hard blow in the eyes; wound
cutting the nape of the neck around 6 and 7 inches long, 3 inches deep, almost separating the
head from the body; wounds on the buttocks, around 4 inches long and 3 inches deep. Cause of
death: massive hemorrhage with skull fracture.[11]
Accused Ernesto Pardua invoked self-defense. He was an agricultural lessee of the riceland
owned by Toribio and the latter tried to wrest physical possession of the riceland. He narrated that
on that morning while he was fixing the dikes in the ricefield to let the water flow in, Toribio arrived
with seven others, some of whom were Esperidio Pillos, Orlando Simpliciano, and Pablo
Obra. When they got down from their tractors or kuliglig, Toribio, armed with an air rifle and
holding a fork with two blades, pointed the gun at Ernesto, and told him to go home. Ernesto
refused to leave the riceland where he derived his income. Toribio fired the gun at Ernesto, hitting
the latter on his right arm. Acting in self-defense, Ernesto grabbed the gun and thereafter swung

and hacked Toribio with the bolo or panabas he (Ernesto) was holding at the time. Ernesto could
not remember how many times he attacked Toribio because he saw darkness. Finally seeing his
victim fall, he wanted to surrender but because he was afraid of a reprisal from Toribios
companions, he took a passenger bus to Manila to escape.[12]
Rogelio Pardua and his son, George, denied participation in the killing, as they claimed that
they discerned trouble when they heard people shouting from Ernesto's ricefield but they did
nothing because they were busy working in their own ricefields. Rogelio, however, was the one
who hailed the tricycle that brought Toribio to the hospital. [13]
Warlito Pardua did not take the witness stand to deny his participation.
On April 27, 1993, the trial court rendered a decision, [14] the dispositive portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing findings and conclusions the Court believes and so
holds that the prosecution has ably and satisfactorily proved the guilt of the accused beyond any
iota of doubt as principals of the offense charged qualified by evident premeditation. Having acted
in conspiracy, the commission thereof attended by the following aggravating
circumstances: abuse of superior strength and in utter disregard of the due respect to their elder,
the deceased Toribio Simpliciano, and without any mitigating circumstance to offset the same, the
Court hereby sentences each and every one of them to suffer the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua with all the accessory penalties provided for by law; to indemnify jointly and severally the
deceased victim Toribio Simpliciano the sum of P62,000.00 as actual and compensatory damages,
and an additional sum of P150,000.00 by way of moral and exemplary damages, and to pay the
Hence, this appeal.[15]
In their appeal, accused-appellants question the credibility of the prosecution
witnesses. According to them, only Ernesto committed the hacking that led to Toribios death and
he did so to defend his landholding from the unlawful entry of his brother-in-law, Toribio.
It is well settled that the findings of a trial court on the credibility of witnesses deserve great
weight, given the clear advantage of a trial judge over an appellate magistrate in the appreciation
of testimonial evidence. It is well-entrenched that the trial court is in the best position to assess
the credibility of witnesses and their testimonies because of its unique opportunity to observe the
witnesses firsthand and note their demeanor, conduct and attitude under grueling
examination. These are the most significant factors in evaluating the sincerity of witnesses and in
unearthing the truth. In the absence of any showing that the trial courts calibration of credibility
was flawed, we are bound by its assessment.[16]
We have carefully reviewed the testimonies of the witnesses both for the prosecution and the
defense as well as other evidence. We are convinced that the trial court correctly held that the
accused-appellants guilt was established beyond reasonable doubt. We have no reason to doubt
the testimony of Orlando and Juanito. They recounted details of the horrifying experience of
seeing their uncle, Toribio, killed, in a manner reflective of honest and unrehearsed testimony.
Their candid, plain, straightforward account of the untoward incident that happened in broad
daylight and in an open field, was free of significant inconsistencies, unshaken by rigid crossexamination.
Accused-appellants fault the trial court for considering the testimony of Juanito, who was not
among those present at the scene of the crime by Orlando and Alfredo, and whose name was not
listed in the information as among the prosecution witnesses. According to accused-appellants,
Juanitos testimony is a fabrication, for he saw nothing of the incident which befell his uncle,
The Court is not persuaded. As long as a person is qualified to become a witness, he may be
presented as one regardless of whether his name was included in the information or not. [17]
The reason why Juanito was not mentioned by Orlando and Alfredo as one of their companions
at the scene of the crime is explained by the fact that Juanito arrived in the farm later for the
purpose of asking his uncle, Toribio, to help him cultivate his farm. Juanito, however, failed to talk
to his uncle because as he was about to do so, the accused-appellants came and suddenly
attacked Toribio; Juanitos presence could possibly not have been noticed by Orlando and Alfredo
because their attention at that time was focused on the startling occurrence that was unfolding
before them.
Accused-appellants claimed that Orlando and Juanito were biased witnesses for they were
nephews of the victim. The prosecution could have presented other companions of the victim at
the time of the hacking incident, like Esperidion Pillos, Alfredo Villanueva, Bobot Pillos, Ely la
Fuente and Mariano la Fuente, who were not relatives of Toribio.

Accused-appellants contention deserves scant consideration. Mere relationship of Orlando

and Juanito to the victim does not automatically impair their credibility as to render their
testimonies less worthy of credence where no improper motive may be ascribed to them for
testifying. In fact, a witness relationship to a victim, far from rendering his testimony biased,
would even render it more credible as it would be unnatural for a relative who is interested in
vindicating the crime to accuse somebody other than the real culprit. [18]
In like manner, Leonoras testimony that she heard her brothers plan the killing of her
husband, deserves great weight and credence. In her desire to bring to justice her husbands
assailants, she would not falsely impute to her own brothers the killing of her husband. This goes
against the grain of human nature and is therefore unlikely.
The failure of the other companions of the victim to testify is of no moment. The defense
could have presented them as their witnesses in order to ferret out the truth. The defense failed to
do so.[19]
The defense belabored to point out an inconsistency in Orlandos testimony, particularly with
regard to the participation of George. In his affidavit, Orlando stated that George was unarmed at
the time Toribio was hacked and that his participation, if any, was the boxing of Toribio. At the
trial, however, he testified that George also hacked Toribio.
The discrepancy is not substantial enough to impair the credibility of Orlando or impair the
evidence for the prosecution. Rather, such minor lapse manifests truthfulness and candor and
erases suspicion of a rehearsed testimony.[20]
The attempt to project the victim as the aggressor with appellant Ernesto acting in selfdefense is self-serving and a last minute afterthought. The evidence is bereft of any support for
appellants claim that the victim fired at him with an air rifle. No injury on the body of the
appellant was shown. Furthermore, if it were true that Toribio shot Ernesto with an air rifle and
Ernesto, reacting to what Toribio had done, hacked the latter in self-defense, Ernesto had no reason
whatsoever not to divulge the same to his lawyer who went to see him at the municipal jail after
his arrest and during his detention there. Ernesto related the information that he hacked his
brother-in-law in legitimate self-defense only two years thereafter, during the trial of this case.
Such omissions lead to the conclusion that Ernestos story is a pure fabrication.
Regarding the civil liability of the accused, the trial court ordered the accused to pay the heirs
of Toribio Simpliciano, the sum of P62,000.00 as actual and compensatory damages, and an
additional sum of P150,000.00 as moral damages and exemplary damages, and to pay the costs.
The trial courts award of actual damages for funeral expenses in the amount of P62,000.00 is
reduced to P30,000.00. We find the expenses for the interment, amounting to P30,000.00, to be
duly supported by receipts. We have held that to justify an award of actual damages, there must
be competent proof of the amount of the loss. Credence can be given only to claims which are
duly supported by receipts or other credible evidence.[22]
As regards moral damages, Under current case law, P50,000.00 is a reasonable amount to
award as moral damages to the heirs of a victim in a murder case. [23]
However, civil indemnity is automatically awarded to the heirs of the victim without need of
further proof other than the death of the victim. [24] Thus, we award the amount of P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity for the death of Toribio Simpliciano, in line with current jurisprudence. [25]
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 23, Roxas, Isabela, is
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accused-appellants Ernesto Pardua, Rogelio Pardua, George Pardua
and Warlito Pardua are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder, and are each sentenced
to reclusion perpetua and all its accessory penalties. They are ordered to pay jointly and severally
the heirs of the victim Toribio Simpliciano in the amounts of P30,000.00 as actual damages,
P50,000.00 as moral damages and civil indemnity of P50,000.00 and costs.

G.R. No. 145225

April 2, 2004
On appeal is the Decision1 of June 9, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon, Sorsogon,
Branch 65 in Criminal Case No. 241, finding appellant Salvador Golimlim alias "Badong" guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of rape, imposing on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and holding
him civilly liable in the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity, and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
The Information dated April 16, 1997 filed against appellant reads as follows:
That sometime in the month of August, 1996, at Barangay Bical, Municipality of Bulan,
Province of Sorsogon, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court the
above-named accused, armed with a bladed weapon, by means of violence and
intimidation, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have carnal knowledge
of one Evelyn Canchela against her will and without her consent, to her damage and
Contrary to law.2
Upon arraignment on December 15, 1997,3 appellant, duly assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty
to the offense charged.
The facts established by the prosecution are as follows:
Private complainant Evelyn G. Canchela (Evelyn), is a mental retardate. When her mother,
Amparo Hachero, left for Singapore on May 2, 1996 to work as a domestic helper, she
entrusted Evelyn to the care and custody of her (Amparos) sister Jovita Guban and her
husband Salvador Golimlim, herein appellant, at Barangay Bical, Bulan, Sorsogon. 4
Sometime in August 1996, Jovita left the conjugal residence to meet a certain Rosing, 5 leaving
Evelyn with appellant. Taking advantage of the situation, appellant instructed private complainant
to sleep,6 and soon after she had laid down, he kissed her and took off her clothes. 7 As he poked at
her an object which to Evelyn felt like a knife,8 he proceeded to insert his penis into her
vagina.9 His lust satisfied, appellant fell asleep.
When Jovita arrived, Evelyn told her about what appellant did to her. Jovita, however, did not
believe her and in fact she scolded her.10
Sometime in December of the same year, Lorna Hachero, Evelyns half-sister, received a letter
from their mother Amparo instructing her to fetch Evelyn from Sorsogon and allow her to stay in
Novaliches, Quezon City where she (Lorna) resided. Dutifully, Lorna immediately repaired to
appellants home in Bical, and brought Evelyn with her to Manila.
A week after she brought Evelyn to stay with her, Lorna suspected that her sister was pregnant as
she noticed her growing belly. She thereupon brought her to a doctor at the Pascual General
Hospital at Baeza, Novaliches, Quezon City for check-up and ultrasound examination.
Lornas suspicions were confirmed as the examinations revealed that Evelyn was indeed
pregnant.11 She thus asked her sister how she became pregnant, to which Evelyn replied that
appellant had sexual intercourse with her while holding a knife. 12

In February of 1997, the sisters left for Bulan, Sorsogon for the purpose of filing a criminal
complaint against appellant. The police in Bulan, however, advised them to first have Evelyn
examined. Obliging, the two repaired on February 24, 1997 to the Municipal Health Office of Bulan,
Sorsogon where Evelyn was examined by Dr. Estrella Payoyo.13 The Medico-legal Report revealed
the following findings, quoted verbatim:
FINDINGS: LMP [last menstrual period]: Aug. 96 ?
Abd [abdomen]: 7 months AOG [age of gestation]
FHT [fetal heart tone]: 148/min
Presentation: Cephalic
Hymen: old laceration at 3, 5, 7, & 11 oclock position14
On the same day, the sisters went back to the Investigation Section of the Bulan Municipal Police
Station before which they executed their sworn statements.15
On February 27, 1997, Evelyn, assisted by Lorna, filed a criminal complaint for rape 16 against
appellant before the Municipal Trial Court of Bulan, Sorsogon, docketed as Criminal Case No. 6272.
In the meantime or on May 7, 1997, Evelyn gave birth to a girl, Joana Canchela, at Guruyan, Juban,
Appellant, on being confronted with the accusation, simply said that it is not true "[b]ecause her
mind is not normal,"18 she having "mentioned many other names of men who ha[d] sexual
intercourse with her."19
Finding for the prosecution, the trial court, by the present appealed Decision, convicted appellant
as charged. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused Salvador Golimlim having been found guilty of
the crime of RAPE (Art. 335 R.P.C. as amended by RA 7659) beyond reasonable doubt is
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, and to indemnify the
offended party Evelyn Canchela in the amount of P50,000.00 as indemnity and another
P50,000.00 as moral damage[s], and to pay the costs.
Hence, the present appeal, appellant assigning to the trial court the following errors:
Appellant argues that Evelyns testimony is not categorical and is replete with contradictions, thus
engendering grave doubts as to his criminal culpability.
In giving credence to Evelyns testimony and finding against appellant, the trial court made the
following observations, quoted verbatim:
1) Despite her weak and dull mental state the victim was consistent in her claim that her
Papay Badong (accused Salvador Golimlim) had carnal knowledge of her and was the
author of her pregnancy, and nobody else (See: For comparison her Sworn Statement on p.
3/Record; her narration in the Psychiatric Report on pp. 47 & 48/Record; the TSNs of her
testimony in open court);
2) She remains consistent that her Papay Badong raped her only once;
3) That the contradictory statements she made in open court relative to the details of how
she was raped, although would seem derogatory to her credibility and reliability as a
witness under normal conditions, were amply explained by the psychiatrist who examined
her and supported by her findings (See: Exhibits F to F-2);
4) Despite her claim that several persons laid on top of her (which is still subject to question
considering that the victim could not elaborate on its meaning), the lucid fact remains that
she never pointed to anybody else as the author of her pregnancy, but her Papay Badong.
Which only shows that the trauma that was created in her mind by the incident has
remained printed in her memory despite her weak mental state. Furthermore, granting for
the sake of argument that other men also laid on top of her, this does not deviate from the
fact that her Papay Badong (the accused) had sexual intercourse with her. 22
The trial judges assessment of the credibility of witnesses testimonies is, as has repeatedly been
held by this Court, accorded great respect on appeal in the absence of grave abuse of discretion
on its part, it having had the advantage of actually examining both real and testimonial evidence
including the demeanor of the witnesses.23
In the present case, no cogent reason can be appreciated to warrant a departure from the findings
of the trial court with respect to the assessment of Evelyns testimony.
That Evelyn is a mental retardate does not disqualify her as a witness nor render her testimony
bereft of truth.
Sections 20 and 21 of Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court provide:

SEC. 20. Witnesses; their qualifications. Except as provided in the next succeeding
section, all persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make known their perception to
others, may be witnesses.
SEC. 21. Disqualification by reason of mental incapacity or immaturity. The following
persons cannot be witnesses:
(a) Those whose mental condition, at the time of their production for examination, is such
that they are incapable of intelligently making known their perception to others;
(b) Children whose mental maturity is such as to render them incapable of perceiving the
facts respecting which they are examined and of relating them truthfully.
In People v. Trelles,24 where the trial court relied heavily on the therein mentally retarded private
complainants testimony irregardless of her "monosyllabic responses and vacillations between
lucidity and ambiguity," this Court held:
A mental retardate or a feebleminded person is not, per se, disqualified from being a
witness, her mental condition not being a vitiation of her credibility. It is now universally
accepted that intellectual weakness, no matter what form it assumes, is not a valid
objection to the competency of a witness so long as the latter can still give a fairly
intelligent and reasonable narrative of the matter testified to. 25
It can not then be gainsaid that a mental retardate can be a witness, depending on his or her
ability to relate what he or she knows.26 If his or her testimony is coherent, the same is admissible
in court.27
To be sure, modern rules on evidence have downgraded mental incapacity as a ground to
disqualify a witness. As observed by McCormick, the remedy of excluding such a witness who may
be the only person available who knows the facts, seems inept and primitive. Our rules follow the
modern trend of evidence.28
Thus, in a long line of cases,29 this Court has upheld the conviction of the accused based mainly on
statements given in court by the victim who was a mental retardate.
From a meticulous scrutiny of the records of this case, there is no reason to doubt Evelyns
credibility. To be sure, her testimony is not without discrepancies, given of course her
By the account of Dr. Chona Cuyos-Belmonte, Medical Specialist II at the Psychiatric Department of
the Bicol Medical Center, who examined Evelyn, although Evelyn was suffering from moderate
mental retardation with an IQ of 46,30 she is capable of perceiving and relating events which
happened to her. Thus the doctor testified:
Q: So do you try to impress that although she answers in general terms it does not
necessarily mean that she might be inventing answers only that she could not go to the
specific details because of dullness?
A: I dont think she was inventing her answer because I conducted mental status
examination for three (3) times and I tried to see the consistency in the narration but very
poor (sic) in giving details.
Q: May we know what she related to you?
A: She related to me that she was raped by her uncle Tatay Badong. What she mentioned
was that, and I quote: hinila ang panty ko, pinasok ang pisot at bayag niya sa pipi ko. She
would laugh inappropriately after telling me that particular incident. I also tried to ask her
regarding the dates, the time of the incident, but she could not really. I tried to elicit
those important things, but the patient had a hard time remembering those dates.
Q: But considering that you have evaluated her mentally, gave her I.Q. test, in your honest
opinion, do you believe that this narration by the patient to you about the rape is reliable?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Why do you consider that reliable?
A: Being a (sic) moderately retarded, I have noticed the spontaneity of her answers during
the time of the testing. She was not even hesitating when she told me she was raped once
at home by her Tatay Badong; and she was laughing when she told me about how it was
done on (sic) her. So, although she may be inappropriate but (sic) she was spontaneous,
she was consistent.
Q: Now, I would like to relate to you an incident that happened in this Court for you to give
us your expert opinion. I tried to present the victim in this case to testify. While she testified
that she was raped by her uncle Badong, when asked about the details, thereof, she would
not make (sic) the detail. She only answered wala (no). I ask this question because
somehow this seems related to your previous evaluation that while she gave an answer,
she gave no detail. Now, I was thinking because I am a man and I was the one asking and
the Judge is a man also. And while the mother would say that she would relate to her and

she related to you, can you explain to us why when she was presented in court that
occurrence, that event happened?
A: There are a lot of possible answers to that question; one, is the courts atmosphere itself.
This may have brought a little anxiety on the part of the patient and this inhibits her from
relating some of the details relative to the incident-in-question. When I conducted my
interview with the patient, there were only two (2) of us in the room. I normally do not ask
this question during the first session with the patient because these are emotionally leading
questions, and I do not expect the patient to be very trusting. So, I usually ask this type of
questions during the later part of my examination to make her relax during my evaluation.
So in this way, she will be more cooperative with me. I dont think that this kind of
atmosphere within the courtroom with some people around, this could have inhibited the
patient from answering questions.
Q: What if the victim is being coached or led by someone else, will she be able to answer
the questions?
A: Yes, she may be able to answer the questions, but you would notice the inconsistency of
the answers because what we normally do is that we present the questions in different
ways, and we expect the same answer. This is how we try to evaluate the patient. If the
person, especially a retarded, is being coached by somebody, the answers will no longer be
Q: You also mentioned a while ago that the answers given by the patient, taken all in all,
were consistent?
A: Yes, sir.31 (Underscoring supplied)
As noted in the above-quoted testimony of Dr. Belmonte, Evelyn could give spontaneous and
consistent answers to the same but differently framed questions under conditions which do not
inhibit her from answering. It could have been in this light that Evelyn was able to relate in court,
upon examination by a female government prosecutor and the exclusion of the public from the
proceedings, on Dr. Belmontes suggestion,32 how, as quoted below, she was raped and that it was
appellant who did it:
Q: Lorna Hachero testified before this Court that you gave birth to a baby girl named
Johanna, is this true?
A: (The witness nods, yes.)
Q: Who is the father of Johanna?
A: Papay Badong
Q: Who is this Papay Badong that you are referring to?
A: The husband of Mamay Bita.
Q: Is he here in court?
A: He is here.
Q: Please look around and point him to us.
A: (The witness pointing to the lone man sitting in the first row of the gallery wearing a
regular prison orange t-shirt who gave his name as Salvador Golimlim when asked.)
Q: Why were you able to say that it is Papay Badong who is the father of your child
A: Because then I was left at Mamay Bitas house, although I am not there now.
Q: And that house where you were left is also the house of your Papay Badong?
A: Yes maam.
Q: What did Salvador Golimlim or your Papay Badong do to you thats why you were able to
say that he is the father of your child?
A: I was undressed by him.
Q: What did you do after you were undressed?
A: I was scolded by the wife, Mamay Bita.
Q: I am referring to that very moment when you were undressed. Immediately after your
Papay Badong undressed you, what did you do?
A: He laid on top of me.
Q: What was your position when he laid on top of you?
A: I was lying down.
Q: Then after he went on top of you, what did he do there?
A: He made (sic) sexual intercourse with me.
Q: When you said he had a (sic) sexual intercourse with you, what did he do exactly?
A: He kissed me.
Q: Where?
A: On the cheeks (witness motioning indicating her cheeks).

Q: What else did he do? Please describe before this Honorable Court the sexual intercourse
which you are referring to which the accused did to you.
A: Initoy and he slept after that.
(to Court)
Nevertheless, may we request that the local term for sexual intercourse, the word
Initoy which was used by the witness be put on the record, and we request judicial notice
of the fact that initoy is the local term for sexual intercourse.
Q: What did you feel when your Papay Badong had sexual intercourse with you?
A: I felt a knife; it was like a knife.
Q: Where did you feel that knife?
A: I forgot.
Q: Why did you allow your Papay Badong to have sexual intercourse with you?
A: I will not consent to it.
Q: Did you like what he did to you?
A: I do not want it.
Q: But why did it happen?
A: I was forced to.
Q: Did you feel anything when he inserted into your vagina when your Papay Badong laid
on top of you?
A: His sexual organ/penis.
Q: How did you know that it was the penis of your Papay Badong that was entered into your
A: It was put on top of me.
Q: Did it enter your vagina?
A: Yes, Your Honor.
Q: Madam Witness, is it true that your Papay Badong inserted his penis into your vagina or
sexual organ during that time that he was on top of you?
A: (The witness nods, yes.)33 (Underscoring supplied)
Appellants bare denial is not only an inherently weak defense. It is not supported by clear and
convincing evidence. It cannot thus prevail over the positive declaration of Evelyn who
convincingly identified him as her rapist.34
In convicting appellant under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act
7659 (the law in force when the crime was committed in 1996), the trial court did not specify
under which mode the crime was committed. Under the said article, rape is committed thus:
ART. 335. When and how rape is committed. Rape is committed by having carnal
knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances.
1. By using force or intimidation;
2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and
3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.
The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.
Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or
more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua or death.
It is settled that sexual intercourse with a woman who is a mental retardate constitutes statutory
rape which does not require proof that the accused used force or intimidation in having carnal
knowledge of the victim for conviction.35 The fact of Evelyns mental retardation was not, however,
alleged in the Information and, therefore, cannot be the basis for conviction. Such notwithstanding,
that force and intimidation attended the commission of the crime, the mode of commission alleged
in the Information, was adequately proven. It bears stating herein that the mental faculties of a
retardate being different from those of a normal person, the degree of force needed to overwhelm
him or her is less. Hence, a quantum of force which may not suffice when the victim is a normal
person, may be more than enough when employed against an imbecile. 36
Still under the above-quoted provision of Art. 335 of the Rev ised Penal Code, when the crime of
rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to
death. In the case at bar, however, although there is adequate evidence showing that appellant
indeed used force and intimidation, that is not the case with respect to the use of a deadly
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Sorsogon, Sorsogon, Branch 65
in Criminal Case No. 241 finding appellant, Salvador Golimlim alias "Badong," GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of rape, which this Court finds to have been committed under paragraph 1,
Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, and holding him civilly liable therefor, is hereby AFFIRMED.

Costs against appellant.


[G.R. No. 157984. July 8, 2004]

Before us is a petition for review of the Decision [1] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 11971
and its Resolution denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration of the said decision.
The Antecedents
The petitioner Moises Simangan and Loreto Bergado were charged with murder in an
Information filed with the Circuit Criminal Court in Cagayan, the accusatory portion of which reads:
That on or about February 10, 1980, in the municipality of Solana, province of Cagayan, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, Moises Simangan y Trinidad and Loreto
Bergado y Rigor alias Boy, together with Bening Gomabong (sic), who is still at large and not yet
apprehended, and two (2) John Does, who were not identified, armed with guns and knives,
conspiring together and helping one another, with intent to kill; with evident premeditation and
with treachery, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab one
Ernesto Flores, inflicting upon him several wounds on his body which caused his death.
Contrary to law.[2]
The accused, assisted by counsel, were duly arraigned, and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Case for the Prosecution
At 8:00 p.m. on February 10, 1980, the petitioner, Loreto Bergado, Bening Gumabong and two
other male persons arrived at the store of the spouses Ernesto Flores and Sofronia Saquing in
Barangay Maasin, Solana, Cagayan. The Flores Spouses, along with fifteen-year-old Lorna Saquing,
Sofronias niece, were then having dinner. The five men were in fatigue uniforms and were armed
with long firearms. When they knocked on the door, Lorna responded and inquired what they
wanted, and she was told that they wanted to buy cigarettes. Ernesto and Sofronia entertained the
men, two of whom were their neighbors, Loreto Bergado and Bening Gumabong.
Momentarily, the petitioner asked Ernesto to go with them to serve as a guide. In response,
Ernesto invited the men to sleep at their house, but the latter refused. Ernesto then agreed to
accompany the visitors. The petitioner warned Ernesto and Sofronia not to tell anyone that they
had been to the store. As they were leaving, Romeo Galano, the couples helper at the store,
arrived. Ernesto ordered Romeo to go with him, and the latter did as he was told. However, at
about 9:00 p.m., Romeo returned to the store and told Sofronia that Ernesto had sent him back to
get money, matches and cigarettes. He also told Sofronia that he and Ernesto were seated as they
conversed with each other. Sofronia gave P50.00, a box of matches and a ream of Hope
cigarettes. Romeo left the store at about 9:30 p.m.[3] Ernesto did not return that evening.[4]
The next morning, Romeo Balunggaya arrived at Sofronias house and told her that Ernesto
was dead, and that his body had been found about three hundred (300) meters away. Sofronia and
Lorna rushed to the place, and found Ernestos body near the creek. [5] Ernesto was lying on the
ground, face down, with his hands tied behind his back. Police investigators Pagulayan and
Caronan arrived, along with a photographer. Pictures of the victim were taken.[6]
Dr. Anastacia Taguba, the Municipal Health Officer, performed an autopsy of the cadaver and
found that the victim sustained multiple stabwounds. She concluded that the victim died because
of shock due to massive internal and external hemorrhage from multiple stab wounds. [7] She also
signed the Certificate of Death of Ernesto.[8]

On February 18, 1980, Fernando Saquing attended his classes in civil engineering at the St.
Louis University in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. He noticed his seatmate and close friend, petitioner
Moises Simangan, writing on a piece of paper. He grabbed the paper, read it, and saw that the
petitioner had written the following: Andres Buena alias Ka Ren, Cely Pea aliasKa Laarni, Moises
Simangan alias Ka Ronie Ledesma. The petitioner warned Fernando not to divulge his secret to
On February 24, 1980, Fernando and the petitioner were on their way home from their ROTC
classes at the St. Louis University. The petitioner then narrated to Fernando that at about 7:00
p.m. on February 10, 1980, after buying cigarettes from a store, the store-owner agreed to go with
him and his four companions. The petitioner revealed that they brought the victim over to the
place where twenty of his other comrades were waiting. He also told Fernando that he and his
companions stabbed the victim over and over again, and tasted the latters blood so that they
would not get sick. The petitioner warned that if Fernando divulged to anyone what he had just
revealed, he (the petitioner), would drink his blood, too.[10]
The petitioner did not know that Fernando was the first cousin of Sofronia, the widow of
Ernesto Flores, who was, in turn, the store-owner referred to by Moises. [11] Fernando immediately
told Sofronia what the petitioner had told him.
On March 21, 24 and 25, 1980, Sofronia, Fernando and Lorna gave their respective
statements[12] to Sgt. Quirino Espiritu of the Philippine Constabulary in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, in
which they identified Moises as one of Ernestos assailants.
The Case for the Defense
The petitioner denied any involvement in the killing of Ernesto. He testified that on the day
that Ernesto was killed, he was in his boarding house in Tuguegarao. He was the classmate of
Fernando at the St. Louis University in Tuguegarao, Cagayan, where they were enrolled in the civil
engineering course.[13] Sometime in February 1980, Fernando asked him about Andres Balbuena
who was from Solana, Cagayan. A week later, he was arrested on suspicions that he had
something to do with the death of Ernesto. [14] Fernando, who was in the PC barracks, pointed to
him as one of the assailants of Ernesto. He was surprised at Fernandos accusation.[15]
The petitioner also denied knowing Loreto Bergado, claiming that he only met the latter at the
provincial jail.[16] He had not been to Barangay Maasin, Solana.
The accused Loreto Bergado also denied killing Ernesto. He testified that he did not know
Ernesto and the latters wife, Sofronia. On February 10, 1980, he was in his house at
Nangalasauan, Amulung, Cagayan. After waking up the next day, he went to his farm.[17]
To corroborate his testimony, Bergado presented his neighbor, Feliciano Trinidad, who testified
that after his classes on February 10, 1980, he went out of their house at Barangay Nangalasauan,
Amulung, Cagayan, to get a breath of fresh air. He then saw Bergado and spoke with him until 9:00
Cornelia Trinidad corroborated the testimony of the petitioner that she boarded in the house of
Rosendo Tuddao in February 1980.
The defense also presented Leona Balunggaya, who testified that between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m.
on February 11, 1980, Sofronia and Leon Rigor arrived at their house, crying. Sofronia inquired if
Ernesto had passed by, because her husband had not slept in their house. Balunggaya replied in
the negative. When Balunggaya asked Sofronia if she recognized the armed men who were with
her husband, Sofronia replied that she did not because their faces were new to her. [19] Aside from
their house, there were no other houses in the vicinity of Sofronias place. Right after Sofronia and
Leon had left, she and her husband Romeo went to their farm to drive away the birds and saw the
cadaver of Ernesto, about three hundred (300) meters away.
After trial, the court rendered judgment finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
homicide. The decretal portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the accused Moises Simangan y Trinidad and Loreto Bergado y Rigor having been
found by the Court guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Homicide defined and penalized
under Art. 249 of the Revised Penal code, and considering the presence of two aggravating
circumstances, are hereby sentenced each to an indeterminate penalty of ten (10) years and one
(1) day of prision mayor,as minimum, to seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day
of reclusion temporal, as maximum, to indemnify the heirs of the victim Ernesto Flores the sum
of P30,000.00, proportionately and to pay costs pro rata.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, it rendered judgment, affirming with modification, the
decision of the trial court. It found the testimonies of Sofronia, Lorna, and Fernando, credible and
entitled to full probative weight.
The Present Petition
Petitioner Moises Simangan filed the instant petition for review on certiorari, asserting that:
The petitioner contends that the prosecution failed to adduce circumstantial evidence
sufficient to prove his guilt of the crime of homicide beyond reasonable doubt. He asserts that
Sofronia and Lorna pointed to and identified him only upon the prodding of Fernando, who told
Sofronia that he (the petitioner) had admitted to stabbing and killing the victim together with
twenty of his other companions. The petitioner contends that the testimony of Fernando is
hearsay, as he had no personal knowledge that he was one of those who killed the victim.
On the other hand, the Court of Appeals declared in its assailed decision that the array of
circumstantial evidence adduced by the prosecution constitutes proof beyond cavil that the
petitioner was one of those who killed the victim. As catalogued by the appellate court:
(1) at about 8:00 oclock in the evening of February 10, 1980, accused Moises Simangan,
Loreto Bergado, Bening Gumabong and two unidentified companions each of whom
were armed with long rifles, went to the store of the victim Ernesto Flores at Sitio
Masin (sic), Iraga, Solana and bought cigarettes;
(2) that Moises Simangan asked Ernesto Flores to guide Simangan, Bergado, Gumabong
and their two companions on their way to the road;
(3) that Simangan, Bergado and their two companions, together with Ernesto Flores and
Romeo Galano, were out of the house;
(4) that Simangan warned Sofronia and Lorna not to tell anybody that he and his
companions went to the house;
(5) that five days after the death of Ernesto, Simangan became worried when told by his
classmate Fernando Saquing that several persons were arrested at Nangalasauan,
Amulung, for the death of Ernesto;
(6) that two weeks after the death of the victim, Simangan admitted to Fernando that he
and twenty others had just killed a person in Masin, (sic) Iraga, Solana, after the victim
accompanied them to show them the way;
(7) and that Fernando was warned not to relate it to any other person with the threat that
if it will be known by others, Simangan will drink his blood. [22]
The Ruling of the Court
We find the contention of the petitioner to be unmeritorious. Sofronia narrated in detail how
the petitioner and his companions, armed with long firearms, managed to convince Ernesto to go
with them and be their guide on the road. Sofronia pointed to and identified the petitioner in open
court. Thus:

On February 10, 1980, at 8:00, do you recall where you were?

Yes, Sir.
Where were you?
We were at home, Sir.
And you mentioned . . . and who were your companions at that time?
My husband, my sister Lorna Saquing, my daughter, Sir.
What is the name of your daughter?
Jannet, Sir.


How old was she at that time?

Two (2) years old, Sir.
What is the name of your sister?
Lorna, Sir.
And your husband?
Ernesto Flores, Sir.
What were you doing at that time?
Eating, Sir.
Where is your house located?
Masim (sic), Solana, Cagayan, Sir.
Do you recall of anything unusual that happened on February 10, 1980, when you
were actually eating with your family, if any?
On February 10, 1980, while we were actually taking our supper, there was a person
who went to buy cigarette in our store and it was my sister Lorna who went to open
the store and saw five persons holding gun (sic), Sir.
Q Where is your store located?
In Masim (sic), Solana, Cagayan, Sir.
Q Is your store also a part of your house where you live-in (sic)?
Yes, Sir.
Q When these five persons came to your house and Lorna Saquing, your sister, was the
one who opened the door, what happened next?
When those five persons entered our store, Lorna came to us in the kitchen and
called for us and the three of us proceeded to the store and looked to those five
persons, Sir.
Q And what happened next when you went to see those five persons?
We saw five persons with long firearms, Sir.
Q Do you know the names of those five persons whom you saw?
I know the three of them only, Sir.
Q What are the names of these three persons whom you know?
Moises Simangan, Boy Bergado and Bening Bungabong (sic), Sir.
Q This Bening Bungabong (sic), if he is in court, can you point him out?
No, he is not here in court, Sir.
Q Yes, but this Loreto Bergado, if you can see him in the courtroom, can you point him
Yes, Sir.
Witness pointing to that person in brown t-shirt who identified himself to be Loreto
Bergado y Rigor when he was pointed to by the witness.
Q How about this person by the name of Moises Simangan, will you look around the
courtroom and see if he is here?
He is there, Sir.
Witness pointing to a person seated in the courtroom who stood up when he was pointed
to by the witness and identified himself to be Moises Simangan y Trinidad. [23]
The petitioner even warned Sofronia and Ernesto not to tell anyone that he and his
companions had been in their house:

And when Moises Simangan came to know that your barangay captain in Iraga was
Mr. Mario Marsan, what happened next, if any?
Then Moises Simangan requested my husband to accompany them to the road
because Moises Simangan is new in our place, Sir.
And what did your husband say, if any?
Then my husband told them if it will be alright for them, they may sleep in the house,
And what did he say?
Then Moises Simangan answered my husband that: we cannot sleep in your place
because we might be late tomorrow, Sir.
And what happened next?
And then Moises Simangan told us not to tell anybody about their going to our store,
And when Moises Simangan warned you not to tell anybody about their presence in
your place, what happened next, if any?
Then my husband told me that he would accompany them to the road, Sir.
And when your husband told you that he would bring them to the road, what
happened next, if any?


And then Moises Simangan and his companions took my husband to the road and not
long afterwards, my boy by the name of Romeo Galano, went back to the store and
told me that my husband told him to go back to get money and cigarette and also [a]
match, Sir.
And what time did they take away your husband from your house?
8:00 oclock in the evening, Sir.
Was it exactly 8:00 oclock or past 8:00?
Past 8:00, it could be past 8:00 oclock already, Sir. [24]

Lorna also testified that when she attended to the petitioner and his companions, she saw
their faces:

Now, while at about that time on February 10, 1980, do you remember any unusual
incident that happened in the house of your sister?
Yes, Sir.
Q What was that incident that happened?
On that evening, Sir, while we were eating I heard a voice calling outside or I heard
someone calling outside with the word Diyos Apo and when I finished eating, I went
inside the house and asked who was that, and nobody answered, and so, what I did
was to open the door and I was surprised there were five armed men at our door who
went inside our house.
Q You said that these five men who entered the house were armed, will you please tell
this Honorable Court what were their arms?
All the five men who entered our house were armed with long rifle each of them (sic).
Q Now, do you know the identity of these five armed men who entered the house where
you were staying?
The question is vague, Your Honor.
Whether he refers to the present or at that time of the incident.
Reformed. (sic)
Q At the time of the incident, of these five armed men who entered the house of your
sister upon your opening the door, do you know the identity of these five armed men
or any of them?
Yes, Sir, I know them.
Q Will you please tell this Honorable Court who were they?
Moises Simangan, Boy Bergado, Bening Gumabong and two others whom I do not
Q You said that at the time you opened the door and these five men entered, you
already knew three of them, namely Moises Simangan, Bening Gumabong and Boy
Bergado, why do you know them?
I was able to recognize them, Sir, through their faces.
Q Why were they familiar to you?
When I opened the door, Sir, and the five armed men entered our house, I stared at
their faces.
Q Will you please answer my question, why were you able or why were you familiar with
the faces of these men when they entered the house of your sister that evening of
February 10, 1980?
She answered, I saw their faces.
Witness may answer.
These Boy Bergado and Bening Gumabong were my barcada in Maasim, Solana,
Q What do you mean by saying that Gumabong and Bergado were your barcada?
They were my companions, Sir.
Q For how long were they your barcada before the incident?
Three years, Sir.
Q Now, with respect to Moises Simangan, why do you say that his face is familiar to you
at the time of the incident?
I stared at his face because he was new in our place.[25]

It was only when Fernando told his cousin Sofronia that the petitioner had admitted to being
one of those who inveigled Ernesto into going with them, and thereafter killed the victim, that she
and Lorna heard the petitioners name for the first time.

Now, do you know, I withdraw that question, Your Honor. How about Moises
Simangan, did you know him already before February 10, 1980?
No, Sir.
Why do you know his name then?
I came to know his name when Moises Simangan informed Fernando, my cousin,
about those things that they have done to my husband, but Fernando did not mention
to him that I am his cousin and it was Fernando, my cousin, who informed me about
his name, Sir.[26]

The testimony of Fernando, that the petitioner admitted to him that he was one of the victims
killers, is not hearsay. The testimony of Fernando was offered to prove the petitioners
extrajudicial admission of his involvement in the killing of Ernesto. Such admission is an admission
against personal interest, and is admissible against the petitioner. [27]
We note that the petitioner admitted during trial that he and Fernando were classmates in a
civil engineering subject at St. Louis University, and in the ROTC training. The petitioner also
admitted that he and Fernando were friends. Hence, it was not impossible for the petitioner to
have revealed his involvement in the killing to Fernando. The petitioner did not hesitate to inform
Fernando that he and his companions had killed Ernesto because an informer had told them that
Ernesto was bad. The testimony of Fernando reads, viz:
Q What else did he tell you?
May we ask the witness that he be directed to speak louder.
You speak louder.
There, Sir.
Q And what was that?
He informed me that they had just killed a person in Maasim (sic), Solana, Cagayan
and we threw him beside a creek. And I asked Moises Simangan, How come that
that person is bad, and he answered me, We had an informer who is their neighbor.
Q Now, you said that there were some companions of Moises Simangan because he
used the word WE, were you able to find out from him how many persons were
those who perpetrated the crime in Maasim (sic), Solana, Cagayan, as you stated
May we request that witness should stop.
That is the narration, Your Honor.
May we request that the narration should be in a question and answer (sic).
What Moises Simangan narrated to me, Sir, is We were five persons who went to the
store of that person and (sic) to buy cigarette. At the time the persons were waiting
in the store and after we bought the cigarette, we let the person accompany us on our
way because we do not know the way and then Moises Simangan brought the person
to the place where there were twenty persons waiting who were their companions and
then they stabbed the person and in stabbing, each person tasted the blood (sic) that,
according to Moises Simangan, they will not get sick.
Q Did you or did you not ask him what time of the day or night was that?
No, Sir. When they visited the house of the victim to buy cigarette I was informed by
Moises Simangan that it was 7:30 in the evening.
Q Now, after having revealed to you all these things, do you remember if Moises
Simangan told you anything else?
Yes, Sir.
Q What did he tell you?

He told me that Nanding, I now warn you, and you know me, once they know these, I
am going to drink your blood.[28]

The petitioners alibi and denial of the crime charged cannot prevail over the positive and
straightforward identification made by Lorna and Sofronia that he was one of the armed men who
left with Ernesto, coupled with the petitioners own admission that he was one of the victims
assailants. We note that there is no evidence, nor any showing of any ill-motive on the part of
Lorna, Sofronia and Fernando to prevaricate. In fact, the petitioner and Fernando were close
friends. Thus, the presumption is that the said witness acted in good faith; hence, their
testimonies must be accorded credence and full probative weight.
The three witnesses cannot be faulted, and their credibility denigrated for giving their
statements to Sgt. Espiritu of the Philippine Constabulary only on March 21 to 25, 1980. As
copiously explained by the Court of Appeals:
Appellants attempt to cast doubt on the credibility of [the] positive identification made by Sofronia
and Lorna that they were among those five (5) armed persons who took along the victim Ernesto
Flores on the pretext that appellant Simangan being new to the place would need said victim to
guide him on the road. Both Lorna and Sofronia knew personally appellant Bergado and
Gumabong being Lornas former friends and Sofronias neighbors. On the other hand, the delay in
revealing the identities of appellants Bergado and Simangan had been sufficiently explained. It
must be recalled that appellant Simangan had made a stern warning before they left that Sofronia
and Lorna should not tell anybody about their presence in the place that night. Those men being
then armed and determined to take along with them the victim out on the road, even threatening
Sofronia and Lorna not to divulge the incident to others, there was strong reason for said witnesses
to keep mum on the identities of appellants even when the police investigators arrived the
following morning and asked them about the names of the five (5) persons or at least any of them
they had recognized. It is understandable when a witness does not immediately report the identity
of the offender after a startling occurrence, more so when he is related to the victim as this makes
it all the more traumatic. It is, likewise, understandable for a witness to fear for his safety
especially when town mates are involved in the commission of the crime. Even if the principal
witnesses, Lorna and Sofronia, did not witness the actual killing of Ernesto Flores, the
circumstances that the latter was last seen alive together with the appellants and Gumabong,
along with two (2) other unidentified companions that night who were armed with guns, that he
was never to return home that night, and his dead body discovered in a nearby field, lying face
down on the ground, both his arms tied at his back with multiple stab wounds on his neck and back
the combination of these circumstances leave no doubt on their minds that those five (5) persons
were responsible for Ernestos gruesome death and such conviction was enough to temporarily
silence them from revealing immediately to the police investigators the identities of appellant
Bergado and Gumabong, and subsequently, Simangan. [29]
In sum, then, we find and so rule that the appellate court correctly affirmed the decision of the
trial court convicting the petitioner of homicide. However, the appellate court erred in
appreciating against the petitioner the aggravating circumstances of cruelty and nighttime. In the
first place, such circumstances were not alleged in the Information as mandated by Section 8, Rule
110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. [30] Although the petitioner committed the crime
before the effectivity date of said Rules, the same should be applied retroactively as it is favorable
to him.[31]
Moreover, the crime is not aggravated by cruelty simply because the victim sustained ten stab
wounds, three of which were fatal. For cruelty to be considered as an aggravating circumstance,
there must be proof that, in inflicting several stab wounds on the victim, the perpetrator intended
to exacerbate the pain and suffering of the victim. [32] The number of wounds inflicted on the victim
is not proof of cruelty.
Consequently, then, the penalty imposed by the trial court on the petitioner must be
modified. There being no modifying circumstances attendant to the crime, the maximum of the
indeterminate penalty shall be taken from the medium period of the imposable penalty of
homicide which is reclusion temporal. The minimum of the indeterminate penalty shall be taken
from the full range of the penalty lower by one degree for reclusion temporal, which is prision
IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The assailed decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 11971 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. The petitioner is
hereby sentenced an indeterminate penalty of from Ten (10) Years and One (1) Day of prision

mayor in its maximum period, as minimum, to Sixteen (16) Years of reclusion temporal in its
medium period, as maximum.
No costs.

G.R. No. 146111

February 23, 2004
"DODO", appellant.
There can be no greater violation of a persons right to feel safe and secure than the crime of rape.
When one commits such a horrible act on another, he degrades not only that persons body; more
importantly, he defiles that persons mind. When the victim is a little child, the act and the
perpetrator himself assume a bestiality beyond the comprehension of normal human beings. Yet,
the law must apply equally upon saints and sinners alike, even to the most salacious ruffian.
Before us is the Decision1 dated 10 July 2000 of Branch 19 of the Regional Trial Court of Digos,
Davao del Sur, finding appellant Rolendo Gaudia2 guilty of the crime of rape, meting upon him the
penalty of death, and ordering him to pay to private complainant Remelyn Loyola the amounts of
fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages, thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) as
exemplary damages, and costs of suit.
The Information filed against the accused-appellant reads as follows:
That on or about March 24, 1997 at about 6:30 oclock in the evening, in the Municipality of
Hagonoy, Province of Davao del Sur, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
the above-named accused, by means of force and intimidation, did, then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge with Remelyn Loyola, a minor, against her will to
her damage and prejudice.
The prosecution presented Remelyns mother, Amalia Loyola, as its primary witness. Amalia
testified that on 24 March 1997, she left her two children Remelyn (3 1/2 years old) 3and Kimberly
(1 year old)4 at their house in Clib, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur to gather pigs food at Bulatukan. At
the time, her husband was working in Tulunan, South Cotabato. At about 4:00 in the afternoon,
Amalia returned home and could not find Remelyn. She went to fetch water and proceeded to a
neighbor to ask about the whereabouts of Remelyn. Nobody could provide her any information. On
her way home, she shouted and called out Remelyns name. At about 6:00 p.m., Amalia heard
Remelyn calling out to her, "Ma, I am here," from a grove of ipil-ipil trees.5 Amalia rushed toward
the place, but was met by Remelyn at the mango trees, some thirty (30) meters from their
house.6 She found Remelyn crying, naked, nagbakaang (walking with her legs spread apart) and
with fresh and dried blood on her body. Ipil-ipil leaves clung to her forehead. Blood was oozing from
her private organ. Amalia brought Remelyn home and washed her. Upon closer inspection, she
found a whitish mucus-like substance coming from Remelyns private organ. 7
The following day, 2 March 1997, Amalia brought Remelyn to the house of a certain Tiya Coring, a
quack doctor, for treatment. Among the people present in the premises were the relatives and
parents of the appellant.8 The quack doctor found both dried blood and fresh blood oozing in
Remelyns vagina, and told Amalia, "Hoy! Amalia, your daughter was being (sic) raped."9 At about
10:00 a.m., Tulon Mik, a neighbor, came and informed Amalia that he had seen the appellant pass
by her house and take Remelyn.10 At this point, the parents of appellant told Amalia, "Mal, let us
talk about this matter, we will just settle this, we are willing to pay the amount of P15,000.00, for
the crime that my son committed."11 Police officers came and brought Amalia, Remelyn and two
barangay officials (kagawads) to the police precinct of Hagonoy for investigation. Amalias
statement was taken.12
On 25 March 1997, Amalia brought Remelyn to the Hagonoy Health Center in Davao del Sur. Dr.
Patricio Hernane, the municipal health officer,13 conducted a genital examination of Remelyn, and
made the following findings:
Absence of Pubic Hair (Tanner Stage I). No contusions are noted on the external genitalia. Dried
blood are (sic)noted on the labia minora. Fresh hymenal lacerations are noted at 12, 3, 6, 10
oclock (sic) are noted with fresh vaginal laceration noted at the posterior commissure but not
extending to the perineum. No lacerations were noted at the anal opening.

Speculum examination is not done because even exposure of the labia minora make the child
cry. (sic)
CONCLUSION: Physical virginity lost.14
The doctor opined that the lacerations could have been caused by the insertion of a foreign object,
such as the penis of a man.15
On 26 March 1997, Amalia executed her affidavit complaint. 16 Amalia stated therein that Remelyn
had told her "Buang Lendoy iya kong lugos."17 (Meaning "crazy lendoy he forced me" in the
Visayan dialect.) Amalia confirmed in her testimony that two weeks after the incident, Remelyn
told her, "Ma, Lendoy is crazy, she (sic)brought me to the ipil-ipil trees."18
The prosecution also presented Tulon Mik, Remelyns neighbor and a barangay kagawad in their
area. Mik testified that on 24 March 1997, at about 4:00 p.m., he and his wife were on their way
home after registering at the COMELEC office. They were in a hurry as their child was running a
fever. Mik saw appellant carrying a small girl in his arms. 19 He identified the little girl as Remelyn
Loyola, daughter of Amalia Loyola. Appellant and Remelyn were on their way toward the ipilipil trees.20
The next morning, 25 March 1997, at about 7:00 a.m., a neighbor informed Mik that Remelyn had
been raped. He proceeded to the house of the quack doctor where Amalia brought Remelyn for
examination. Amalia confirmed to Mik that Remelyn had been raped. Mik told Amalia that
appellant committed the crime. Mik then informed Barangay Official Rodrigo Malud 21 and the
other tanods of the incident. They were instructed to locate the appellant. They passed to the
police the information that appellant was in Barangay Mahayahay. The policemen came and took
appellant for investigation. 22
The appellant, ROLENDO GAUDIA, interposed the defense of alibi. He averred that on 24 March
1997, at about 4:00 p.m., he went to the Barangay Center to register at the COMELEC for the
National Elections. With him was Totong Loyola, the brother-in-law of Amalia Loyola. They finished
at 5:00 p.m., left and repaired to the house of Catalina Cabano, appellants aunt, to ask for vinegar
for their kinilaw (a dish composed of raw fish steeped in vinegar). They found Daylen Cabano, the
small grandchild of Catalina, alone at her house. Daylen was crying, hence, they brought her with
them as they proceeded to the place where Catalina was collecting tuba (fermented coconut
wine). It was appellant who carried Daylen.23 They reached Catalinas place after 5:00 p.m.
Thereafter, they went to the house of appellant. Dodo Malon and appellants parents were in the
house. At around 9:00 p.m., Totong and Dodo Malon left, after partaking of the kinilaw. Appellant
stayed home. The following morning (25 March 1997), appellant and Dodo Malon went to the river
to fish. At about 12:00 noon, appellant repaired to the house of his aunt, Victoria Gayod, in
Mahayahay to drink tuba. He was located by the police and investigated.24He claimed that it was
Daylen and not the victim Remelyn whom he was carrying.
As corroborative witness, appellant presented Alex "Totong" Loyola. Totong testified that on 24
March 1997, at about 4:00 p.m., they registered as voters in the barangay. After registering, they
went home to appellants house, but again left to get vinegar from his aunt Catalina Cabano, for
their kinilaw. In Catalinas house, they found her drunk husband, her 10-year old daughter, and her
3-year old grandchild Daylen.25 Catalinas daughter directed them to the place where she was
gathering tuba. As Daylen was crying, appellant carried her on their way to Catalina. It was then
about 4:00 p.m. After Catalina finished gathering tuba, the four of them appellant, Totong,
Catalina and Daylen, left together and repaired to Catalinas house for the vinegar. Appellant and
Totong returned to appellants house where they spent the night. 26 Totong woke up at 6:00 a.m. the
following day, and left appellants house. Totong came to know of appellants arrest the following
Catalina Cabano also corroborated appellants story. She relates that on 24 March 1997, she was
gathering tuba, at a place around 2 kilometers from her house. She left Maritess, her youngest
child and Daylen, her grandchild, at her house.28 At about 5:30 p.m., appellant and Totong arrived.
Appellant was carrying Daylen. They waited for Catalina to finish gathering tuba until 6:00 p.m.
Appellant and Totong went to the formers house, had a drinking spree, and then parted ways at
about 6:30 p.m. That night, according to Catalina, she talked to Tulon Mik at the premises near the
house. Mik was looking for Remelyn. At that time, appellant was already at the house of Catalinas
younger sister, which is located across the river, about 4 kilometers away. 29
After trial, the trial court found that there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to convict
appellant for the crime of rape with the qualifying circumstance that the victim was below seven
years of age. Appellant was sentenced to death and ordered to indemnify the victim the sums of
fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages, thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) as
exemplary damages, and to pay the costs of suit.
In his Brief30 to the Court, appellant assigned the following errors in the judgment of the trial court:

We convict appellant for simple rape, and not for qualified rape.
Under Rule 133, Section 4 of the Revised Rules of Court, conviction may be based on
circumstantial evidence provided three requisites concur: (a) there is more than one circumstance;
(b) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and (c) the combination of all the
circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The ruling case law is
that for circumstantial evidence to be sufficient to support a conviction, all circumstances must be
consistent with each other, consistent with the hypothesis that the accused is guilty, and at the
same time inconsistent with the hypothesis that he is innocent and with every other rational
hypothesis except that of guilt.31
The first circumstantial evidence against the appellant is the testimony of prosecution witness
Tulon Mik that at 4:00 p.m. on 24 March 1997, he saw him carrying Remelyn toward the direction
of the ipil-ipil grove, some 130 meters from her house.32 As a neighbor and relative of Remelyns
stepfather, Mik had sufficient familiarity with the child Remelyn. The possibility that he could have
been mistaken in identifying the victim is nil.
The second circumstantial evidence against the appellant is Amalias testimony that Remelyn
emerged naked from the same ipil-ipil grove, with ipil-ipil leaves clinging to her forehead. Remelyn
was crying and walking with her legs spread far apart. Remelyns private organ was bleeding and
excreting a white mucus-like substance.33
The third circumstantial evidence against appellant is Remelyns statement to her mother that it
was appellant who had brought her to the ipil-ipil grove34 and forced her to do something against
her will.35
There is no question that Remelyn was violated. After examining Remelyn, Dr. Patricio Hernane,
the Municipal Health Officer of Hagonoy, found her to have a broken hymen, as well as fresh
vaginal lacerations.
From these, the culpability of the appellant can be inferred with moral certainty. All the
aforementioned circumstances have been indubitably proven, both by the testimonial and
documentary evidence presented by the prosecution, and by the inability of the appellant to
discredit their veracity.
The attempt of appellant to discredit the circumstantial evidence against him is futile. Appellant
contends, first, that Tulon Miks testimony is weak, on the ground that Mik is a relative of the
husband of Amalia.36 He also questions the credibility of Mik because of his failure to confront
appellant when he saw him carrying Remelyn. Neither did Mik inform Amalia about what he saw
when Amalia was looking for Remelyn. Appellant insists that it was Daylen whom he carried and
not Remelyn. Second, he stresses the fact that Remelyn did not make any categorical statement
that he sexually molested her. Third, he maintains that the accusation of flight against him is false.
Fourth, he avers that the offer of compromise by his parents as tendered to Amalia Loyola should
not be taken against him,37 while the offer of compromise he allegedly made to Amalias husband,
as relayed by Amalia in her testimony, should be excluded as evidence for being hearsay. 38 Finally,
he submits that inconsistencies in the testimony of Alex Loyola and Cabano should not be counted
against him on the ground that any finding of guilt must rest on the strength of the prosecutions
We reject appellants arguments.
First, appellants attempt to discredit the testimony of Mik cannot succeed. It is true that Mik is a
relative by affinity of Amalia Loyola. It is hoary jurisprudence, however, that mere relationship to
one of the parties, without a showing of any other improper motive, is not sufficient basis to impair
the credibility of the witness.39 In the case at bar, appellant cannot impute any ill motive for Mik to
testify adversely against him.
Appellant questions the failure of Mik to challenge him why he was carrying Remelyn. Also, he
assails Mik for failing to inform Amalia Loyola of such a sight. Mik had an explanation for the
inadvertence. He said his own child was down with a fever, and he and his wife were hurrying
home.40 For this same reason, he revealed the fact that he saw appellant carrying Remelyn toward
the ipil-ipil grove only when he learned of Remelyns fate. But thereafter, he lost no time in
reporting the matter to the barangay chairman.41 As a barangay kagawad, he also assisted in the
pursuit and arrest of appellant at Barangay Mahayahay. 42 These subsequent actions strengthen
Miks credibility.

The trial court accorded more credence to Miks narration of the events over the testimonies of
Cabano and Loyola. It is a cornerstone of our jurisprudence that the trial judge's evaluation of the
testimony of a witness and its factual findings are accorded not only the highest respect, but also
finality, unless some weighty circumstance has been ignored or misunderstood which could alter
the result of the judgment rendered. In the case at bar, there is no irregularity in the assessment of
evidence by the lower court. It granted utmost credibility to Miks testimony. Given the direct
opportunity to observe the witness on the stand, the trial judge was in a vantage position to assess
his demeanor and determine if he was telling the truth or not. 43 The trial court found Miks
testimony more worthy of credence over those of Catalina and Loyola. We have no reason to
reverse its findings.
Next, appellant tried to capitalize on the fact that Remelyn never made any statement that he
sexually molested her. This is a specious argument. Remelyn had told her mother, "Crazy Lendoy
forced me."44 Remelyn was 3 1/2 years old at the time. At such an infantile age, she could not be
expected to have a comprehension of the concept of rape. Studies show that children, particularly
very young children, make the "perfect victims". They naturally follow the authority of adults as
the socialization process teaches children that adults are to be respected. The childs age and
developmental level will govern how much she comprehends about the abuse and therefore how
much it affects her. If the child is too young to understand what has happened to her, the effects
will be minimized because she has no comprehension of the consequences. Certainly, children
have more problems in providing accounts of events because they do not understand everything
they experience. They do not have enough life experiences from which to draw upon in making
sense of what they see, hear, taste, smell and feel. Moreover, they have a limited vocabulary. 45 The
fact that Remelyn called appellant "Buang" or crazy shows that he did something which she knew
was not right or proper. By saying "iya kong lugos," Remelyn clearly conveyed that he forced her to
do something bad. With her limited comprehension, the child could not have a perfect way of
relating that she had been sexually abused. Finally, it must also be considered that there is no
actual counterpart for the word "rape" in Visayan parlance.
Appellants charge that the trial court erred when it ruled that he fled arrest, even if correct, is not
pivotal to his guilt. There are enough pieces of circumstantial evidence to convict him. Neither will
it affect the penalty or the award of damages rendered against him.
Similarly, appellants charge that the offers of compromise allegedly made by the parents of the
appellant to Amalia, and by the appellant himself to Amalias husband should not have been taken
against him by the trial court, even if sustained, will not exculpate him. To be sure, the offer of
compromise allegedly made by appellant to Amalia Loyolas husband is hearsay evidence, and of
no probative value. It was only Amalia who testified as to the alleged offer, 46 and she was not a
party to the conversation which allegedly transpired at the Hagonoy Municipal Jail. A witness can
only testify on facts which are based on his personal knowledge or perception. 47The offer of
compromise allegedly made by the appellants parents to Amalia may have been the subject of
testimony48 of Amalia. However, following the principle of res inter alios acta alteri nocere non
debet,49 the actions of his parents cannot prejudice the appellant, since he was not a party to the
said conversation, nor was it shown that he was privy to the offer of compromise made by them to
the mother of the victim. They cannot be considered as evidence against appellant but we
reiterate that these errors are not enough to reverse the conviction of the appellant.
Appellants defense hardly impresses. It is interesting to note that appellant and his witnesses
claim that it was at around 5:00 p.m. when appellant carried the child Daylen toward her
grandmother Catalina at the place where she was gathering tuba. Mik testified that it was around
4:00 p.m. when he saw appellant carrying Remelyn toward the ipil-ipil grove. Given the 130-meter
distance between the ipil-ipil grove and the houses of appellant and of Amalia Loyola, appellant
could have easily taken Remelyn from her house, raped her at the ipil-ipil grove, and left her there,
all in a matter of a few minutes. Sometime past 4:00 p.m., he could then have returned to his
house, and together with Alex Loyola, proceeded to the COMELEC office to register, and did all the
subsequent acts he claims to have done.
The Court also notes the inconsistencies in the testimonies of Catalina and Loyola. The
discrepancies in the witnesses narration as to the time of arrival of appellant at the place where
Catalina was gathering tuba, his time of arrival at his own house, and the time when Loyola and
appellant actually parted ways, are not mere trivial details which could be forgotten by witnesses
because of the passage of time. To make matters worse, the appellants testimony was, at times,
contradicted by his own witnesses. Particularly telling was the conflict between appellants
statement that Totong had already left his house on the night of 24 March 1997 and Totong and
Catalinas own averments that Totong had stayed the night at appellants house. These
contradictory testimonies only made more incredulous appellants tale.

We now review the penalty of death imposed upon appellant. In the case at bar, the Information
states that appellant, "by means of force and intimidationwillfully, unlawfully and feloniously
(had) carnal knowledge with Remelyn Loyola, a minor, against her will to her damage and
prejudice."50 (emphasis ours) The Information did not allege that Remelyn was below seven years
old when she was violated. Appellant was therefore charged with simple rape, under Section 335
of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659 (the Death Penalty Law). Upon its
passage, R.A. No. 7659 introduced seven new attendant circumstances, which when present, will
transform the crime to qualified rape, punishable by death. We again stress that these new
attendant circumstances must be properly pleaded in the information to justify the imposition of
the death penalty. The facts stated in the body of the information determine the crime for which
the accused stands charged and for which he must be tried. 51 The main purpose of requiring all the
elements of a crime to be set out in the information is to enable the accused to suitably prepare
his defense. It would be a denial of the right of the accused to be informed of the charges against
him and, consequently, a denial of due process, if he is charged with simple rape and be convicted
of its qualified form punishable with death, although the attendant circumstance qualifying the
offense and resulting in capital punishment was not alleged in the indictment on which he was
We now review the damages awarded by the trial court. Time and again, we have ruled that when
there is a finding that rape had been committed, the award of civil indemnity ex delicto is
mandatory.53 If the death penalty has been imposed, the indemnity should be P75,000.00;
otherwise the victim is entitled to P50,000.00 for each count of rape.54 Thus, the appellant is
ordered to pay the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity to Remelyn Loyola.55
We affirm the award of moral damages. This is automatically awarded in rape cases without need
of further proof other than the commission of the crime, as it is assumed that a rape victim has
suffered moral injuries entitling her to such an award. 56
We also find the award of exemplary damages made by the lower court in favor of complainant as
proper because complainant has been correctly granted moral damages and the offense against
her was committed with the aggravating circumstance57 of age. However, the amount awarded
must be reduced to P25,000.00 in line with prevailing jurisprudence. 58
WHEREFORE, the judgment of conviction of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, of Digos, Davao
del Sur in Criminal Case No. 213(97) is hereby MODIFIED. Appellant is found guilty of the crime of
simple rape, and is sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is ordered to pay to
complainant Remelyn Loyola the amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity ex delicto, P50,000.00
as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. Costs against the appellant.

[G.R. No. 120093. November 6, 1997]

QUITORIO, accused-appellant.





Accused-appellant David Garcia was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of having raped
herein complainant Jackielyn Ong, [1] a minor, one hundred eighty-three (183) times during the
period from November, 1990 up to July 21, 1994, and was correspondingly sentenced to suffer one
hundred eighty-three (183) penalties of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify complainant in the
amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages.
In an information dated July 25, 1994, appellant Garcia was charged with the crime of multiple
rape allegedly committed as follows:
That from November 1990 up to July 21, 1994, in the City of Olongapo, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have multiple carnal knowledge of one Jackielyn Ong, a minor about
twelve (12) years old, to the damage and prejudice of the latter.
Complainant Jackielyn Ong and her younger brother, Darwin, had been abandoned by their
mother since birth and when their father Danilo Ong died, the latters sister, Elizabeth Ong, took
them under her care and custody. Jackielyn, who was born on June 3, 1982, was only eight years
old when she, together with Darwin and a stepbrother, Allan, were left to the care of herein
appellant Garcia, who was then the live-in partner of the victims aforesaid aunt, when the latter
left for the United States sometime in November, 1990. Appellant Garcia stayed with the children
in the house of Elizabeth Ong at Fontaine Street, East Bajac-Bajac, Olongapo City. [2]
On that fateful day of November 1990, after Elizabeth Garcia had left for the airport,
complainant, who was then playing with Darwin outside the house, was called by appellant Garcia
who told her to go upstairs. Once there, Garcia ordered her to remove her shirt and panty and,
when she refused, the former was the one who removed them. He made her lie on the bed and he
then removed his pants and brief. Thereafter, he climbed into the bed with her, spread her legs
apart and inserted his private organ into hers. She felt pain when he forced himself upon her and
he was moving up and down. Jackielyn narrated that Garcia pulled out his organ when a whitish
substance was discharged therefrom. Then he ordered her to put back her shirt and panty. Later,
complainant went back to play with her brother.
According to Jackielyn, from November, 1990 up to July 21, 1994, appellant Garcia raped her
almost weekly.[3] These incidents happened in all the three places where they lived, that is, at
Fontaine Street, East Bajac-Bajac, at 12th Street, Pag-asa, and at #40 14th Street, East Tapinac, all
in Olongapo City.[4] On July 21, 1994, Jacqueline was sleeping in bed beside her brother, Darwin,
when appellant woke her up, asked her to lie down beside him on the cushion inside the same
room where he slept, and had intercourse with her.
Prosecution witness Angelito Ong testified that sometime in May, 1994, his sister Elizabeth
Ong called to inform him that their brother in the States met an accident, and he was requested to
support and take care of the children because she would not be able to send them money in the
meantime. Thenceforth, the children would go to Angelito Ongs house for their food and other
In the evening of July 22, 1994, Angelito was already becoming apprehensive because the
children had not yet arrived to get their food. He decided to go to the house where the children
were staying but he only saw the childrens bags there. The door of the house was locked, and he

found Jackielyn and Darwin at a nearby store. When he asked them why they did not get their
food, they answered that the house was locked and the key was with appellant Garcia. They
likewise told him that Garcia scolded them and would not allow them to go out of the house
without the formers permission. Angelito told the children that just because they were getting
their food from him, appellant had no right to be angry at them.
Thereafter, Angelito asked Jackielyn if she was having an affair with appellant or if she had
been abused by him. When Jackielyn refused to answer and merely kept silent, Angelito took it as
an admission that what he was asking her was true, so he brought Jackielyn to the Perpetual Help
Clinic for checkup.
It appears that Angelito had already harbored suspicions because sometime in June, 1994,
Darwin told him that several times in the past, although Jackielyn slept beside Darwin at night, the
latter would wake up in the morning and see her sleeping beside appellant Garcia. At that time,
Angelito merely warned Jackielyn that it was not proper for her to be sleeping beside appellant
because she was already a big girl. He did not bother to confront appellant about it then because
he did not want to appear invidious. Yet even before that, Angelito already thought it odd and
suspicious why appellant would not allow the childrens relatives to go to their house.
Since the doctor at the Perpetual Help Clinic was not available, Angelito decided to bring the
children home. Along the way, Angelito kept on asking Jackielyn if she had been raped by
appellant Garcia. At first, Jackielyn refused to answer, but due to Angelitos persistence and after
threatening her that he would eventually know once she is examined by a doctor, she finally
admitted that she had been raped several times by appellant. He then brought her to the
Olongapo City General Hospital where Jackielyn was examined by Dr. Laila Patricio who thereafter
issued a medicolegal certificate.[5]
According to Dr. Patricio, the hymen of Jackielyn was no longer intact and, considering that
there was no laceration, it was possible that there had been sexual contact for more than five
times. She discounted the probability that there had been only one or two contacts, or that the
loss of virginity was caused by biking, because otherwise there should have been a laceration. She
likewise conducted a spermatozoa determination to see if there had been sexual intercourse
during the past 24 hours, but the result was negative, although she clarified that the sperm
normally stays in the vagina for 24 hours unless the woman washes herself very well. Jackielyn
told her, during the medical examination, that she had been raped by the husband of her aunt who
was in the States.
From the hospital, Angelito and Jackielyn proceeded to the police station where they filed a
complaint for rape[6] against Garcia and later executed their sworn statements. [7] On the strength
thereof, Garcia was apprehended in his house at 32 Jones Street, Olongapo City. At the time of his
arrest, no formal complaint had as yet been filed in court nor had a warrant of arrest been issued. [8]
Appellant Garcia could only offer bare denials to the inculpatory testimonies of the victim and
the prosecution witnesses that he raped Jackielyn. He contends, however, that probably the
reason why he was being falsely charged was because Elizabeth Ongs family was not satisfied
with the way he managed the house entrusted to him and the money being sent by Elizabeth for
the support of the children. He rationalizes that as the supposed guardian of the children and with
the trust reposed in him by Elizabeth, he could not and would never do such a thing to Jackielyn.
In his cross-examination, however, appellant Garcia admitted having sent a letter addressed to
Elizabeth Ong and several others, dated August 24, 1994, [9] wherein he disclosed that he and
Jackielyn were having a relationship and that he was asking for forgiveness from Elizabeth for what
happened between him and Jackielyn.
The conviction of herein appellant is now being controverted and assailed essentially on two
grounds, namely, that the information is defective and that the trial court erred in relying on the
credibility of the testimony of the victim. [10]
I. Appellant avers that the information for multiple rape filed against him is defective for
failure to state the exact dates and time when the alleged acts of rape were committed since it
was merely stated therein that the offense was committed from November 1990 up to July 21,
1994. He asserts that each sexual act is a separate crime and, hence, must be proven to have
been committed on a precise date and time.
The defense, in support of this argument, relies mainly on Section 11, Rule 110 of the Rules of
Court, as revised, which provides:
Sec. 11. Time of the commission of the offense. - It is not necessary to state in the complaint or
information the precise time at which the offense was committed except when time is a material
ingredient of the offense, but the act may be alleged to have been committed at any time as near
to the actual date at which the offense was committed as the information or complaint will

It invokes the early case of U.S. vs. Dichao[11] wherein an order sustaining a demurrer to an
information for failure to conform to the subscribed form was upheld by the Court, in
effectauthorizing the outright dismissal of the case, on the ground that:
x x x The allegations of an information should, if possible, be sufficiently explicit and certain as
to time to inform the defendant of the date on which the criminal act is alleged to have been
committed. Unless the accused is informed of the day, or about the day, he may be, to an extent,
deprived of the opportunity to defend himself.
While Section 7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that except when time is a material
ingredient of an offense, the precise time of commission need not be stated in a complaint or
information, but the act may be alleged to have been committed at any time before the filing
thereof, this does not mean that the prosecuting officer may be careless about fixing the date of
the alleged crime, or that he may omit the date altogether, or that he may make the allegation so
indefinite as to amount to the same thing. Where the exact date cannot be fixed, or where the
prosecuting officer is not thoroughly satisfied that he can prove a precise date, he should allege in
the information that the crime was committed on or about a date named. Under such an
allegation he is not required to prove any precise date but may prove any date which is not so
remote as to surprise and prejudice the defendant. In case of surprise the court may allow an
amendment of the information as to time and an adjournment to the accused, if necessary, to
meet the amendment.
In the case before us the statement of the time when the crime is alleged to have been committed
is so indefinite and uncertain that it does not give the accused the information required by law. To
allege in an information that the accused committed rape on a certain girl between October 1910
and August 1912, is too indefinite to give the accused an opportunity to prepare his
defense x x x. Section 7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not warrant such pleading. Its
purpose is to permit the allegation of a date of the commission of the crime as near to the actual
date as the information of the prosecuting officer will permit, and when that has been done any
date may be proved which does not surprise and substantially prejudice the defense. It does not
authorize the total omission of a date or such an indefinite allegation with reference thereto as
amounts to the same thing.
Assuming that this is still good case law, reliance cannot be placed thereon by appellant since
the dicta are not squarely applicable to the present case due to factual differences. Taking into
consideration the circumstances obtaining herein vis-a-vis the Dichao case, the distinguishing
factor which is immediately apparent is the existence of a motion to quash in that case as pointed
out in the aforequoted decision. There is no such motion in the case at bar, and this spells the big
The rule is that at any time before entering his plea, the accused may move to quash the
information[12] on the ground that it does not conform substantially to the prescribed form. [13]The
failure of the accused to assert any ground for a motion to quash before he pleads to the
information, either because he did not file a motion to quash or failed to allege the same in said
motion, shall be deemed a waiver of the grounds for a motion to quash, except the grounds of no
offense charged, lack of jurisdiction over the offense charged, extinction of the offense or penalty,
and jeopardy.[14]
Perforce, a formal defect in the information not being one of the exceptions to the rule,
appellants failure to invoke the same through a motion to quash is deemed to be a waiver of such
objection and he cannot now be heard to seek affirmative relief on that ground. Moreover,
objections as to matters of form or substance in the information cannot be made for the first time
on appeal.[15]
At any rate, even laying aside procedural technicalities and assuming arguendo that appellant
Garcia could validly raise this legal question before us, we are still not inclined to apply the ruling
in Dichao to the case now before us.
It may readily be inferred from the decision in Dichao that where there is such
an indefinite allegation in the information as to the time of the commission of the offense which
would substantially prejudice the defense, a motion to quash the information may be granted and
the case dismissed without the benefit of an amendment. On the other hand, where there is
avariance between the date of the commission of the crime alleged in the information and that
proved at the trial, and it is shown to the trial court that the accused is surprised thereby, and that
by reason thereof, he is unable to properly defend himself, the court may, in the exercise of sound
discretion based on all the circumstances, order the information amended so as to set forth the

correct date. It may further grant an adjournment for such a length of time as will enable the
accused to prepare himself to meet the variance in date which was the cause of his surprise.
Apparently, that distinction was premised on the theory that the question on whether the
allegations of the information are sufficiently definite as to time, and the question which arises
from a variance between the particulars of the indictment and the proof, are different in nature
and legal effect, and are decided on different principles.
It would then result that, on the basis of the foregoing disquisition in Dichao, an amendment
will not be allowed, and the motion to quash should instead be granted, where the information is,
on its face, defective for failure to state with certainty when the offense was committed, and such
ambiguity is so gross as to deprive the accused of the opportunity to defend himself. For all
intents and purposes, however, a strict adherence thereto would no longer be a sound procedural
practice, especially in criminal proceedings which bears the mandate on speedy trial and wherein
the availability of bills of particulars have over time been adopted and recognized.
We believe that the principle laid down in the more recent case of Rocaberte vs. People, et al.
involving exactly the same issue, presents the more logical and realistic interpretation of the
rules. While the Court there adverted to the Dichao case, it nevertheless resorted to a less
restrictive application of the rules by disposing of the case in this wise:
A defect in the averment as to the time of the commission of the crime charged is not, however, a
ground for a motion to quash under Rule 116 of the Rules of Court. Even if it were, a motion for
quashal on that account will be denied since the defect is one that can be cured by amendment;
instead, the court shall order the amendment to be made by stating the time with particularity.
The remedy against an indictment that fails to allege the time of the commission of the offense
with sufficient definiteness is a motion for a bill of particulars, provided for in Section 6, Rule 116 of
the Rules of Court of 1964.

From all that has been said, the conclusion should be clear. The information against petitioner
Rocaberte is indeed seriously defective. It places on him and his co-accused the unfair and
unreasonable burden of having to recall their activities over a span of more than 2,500 days. It is
a burden nobody should be made to bear. The public prosecutor must make more definite and
particular the time of the commission of the crime of theft attributed to Rocaberte and his codefendants. If he cannot, the prosecution cannot be maintained, the case must be dismissed.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED, and the writ of certiorari prayed for is ISSUED ANNULLING
AND SETTING ASIDE the challenged Orders of respondent Judge x x x, and DIRECTING the
amendment of the information in said case by the prosecution within such time as the respondent
Judge may deem proper, failing which the criminal prosecution against the petitioner and his codefendants shall be dismissed (Italics supplied).
Conformably thereto, where the allegation in the information as to the date or time of the
commission of the offense is so uncertain, indefinite or ambiguous as to constitute a violation of
the right of the accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, the
proper disposition where a motion to quash is filed on that ground, is for the trial court to overrule
the motion and order the prosecution to amend the information by stating the date or time with
particularity, within such period as the trial court may deem proper under the circumstances.
This rule finds support in Section 4 of Rule 117 which provides that if the motion to quash is
based on an alleged defect in the complaint or information which can be cured by amendment, the
court shall order the amendment to be made. Corollarily, Section 14 of Rule 110 states that the
information or complaint may be amended, in substance or form, without leave of court, at any
time before the accused pleads; and thereafter and during the trial as to all matters of form, by
leave and at the discretion of the court, when the same can be done without prejudice to the rights
of the accused.
In the event that the public prosecutor still fails to make the necessary amendment within the
time allowed therefor by the court, only then may the court order the dismissal of the case. Hence,
if herein appellant Garcia had filed a motion to quash, the case would not require an outright
Furthermore, it bears stressing that Section 11 of Rule 110 does not require that the precise
time when the offense was committed be stated in the information, except when time is a material
ingredient of the offense. In rape cases, the date or time is not an essential element of the crime
and, therefore, need not be accurately stated. [17]

II. The second issue hinges on the credibility of complainants testimony. Appellant contends
that the prosecution failed to prove multiple rape and that the trial court erred in accepting in full
complainants testimony that she was raped every week during the period earlier stated. It is
averred that while complainant remembered the details of the first and last acts of rape, she failed
to narrate with similar clarity the other acts that allegedly transpired in the interim.
We are strongly convinced that, based on the testimonies of complainant and the prosecution
witnesses, appellant Garcia is guilty as charged. Absolute certainty of guilt is not demanded by
the law for conviction of any criminal charge; only moral certainty is required as to every
proposition of proof requisite to constitute the offense. [18] Such requirement has been complied
with in the case at bar with respect to the criminal acts hereinafter specified. Besides, a prima
facie case affords sufficient basis for conviction if not overcome by the evidence of the accused. [19]
We have thoroughly examined the testimony of complainant Jackielyn Ong and we cannot but
conclude that complainant, in spite of her youth at the time she testified, was very candid,
spontaneous and consistent in her testimony in court, both in the direct and crossexamination. Her testimony is forthright, clear and free from serious contradictions. It is a basic
rule, founded on reason and experience, that when the victim testifies that she has been raped,
she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was committed. [20] Thus, if her testimony
meets the test of credibility, the accused may be convicted on the basis thereof. On this aspect, it
is an accepted precept that testimonies of rape victims who are young and of tender age are
credible. Hence, the revelation of an innocent child whose chastity was abused deserves full
Nor have we chosen to merely rely on such doctrinal rules. Our conclusion further resulted
from a painstaking analysis of the evidence on record. The alleged inconsistency pointed out by
appellant, to the effect that complainant remembered the details of the first and last acts of rape
but failed to expound on the other violations committed against her, is not sufficient to render her
testimony doubtful. Such failure does not necessarily detract from her credibility nor negate the
commission of the rape. The testimony of a witness must be considered and calibrated in its
entirety and not by truncated portions thereof or isolated passages therein. [22]
Rape, as a harrowing experience, is usually not remembered in detail. For, such an offense is
not something which enhances ones life experience as to be worth recalling or reliving but, rather,
something which causes deep psychological wounds and casts a stigma upon the victim for the
rest of her life, which her conscious or subconscious mind would prefer to forget. Thus, a rape
victim is not and cannot be expected to keep an accurate account of her traumatic experience.
With more reason must we have greater compassionate understanding of herein complainants
plight who, at a very tender age, was mercilessly corrupted by a conscienceless human being with
bestial desires.
The failure of complainant to immediately disclose the violations committed against her, and
the fact that she went on to play with her brother after the first rape incident, cannot be
considered as absolutely unnatural and contrary to normal human behavior. It must be
remembered that the subject of appellants lust is an innocent, naive and frail little girl of eight
years, extremely ignorant of the ways of the world and of men. One cannot and should not expect
such a wisp of a girl to act like an adult or like a mature and experienced woman who would know
what to do under such difficult circumstances.[24] In fact, her subsequent action is confirmatory of
the unreasoning innocence of childhood which in this case was mercilessly betrayed.
The alleged absence of resistance cannot likewise alter the condemnatory verdict against
appellant. This Court has consistently held that rape is committed when intimidation is used on
the victim and this includes the moral kind of intimidation or coercion. Intimidation is a relative
term, depending on the age, size and strength of the parties, and their relationship with each
other.[25] It can be addressed to the mind as well. [26] Moreover, the intimidation must be viewed in
the light of the victims perception and judgment at the time of the rape and not by any hard and
fast rule. It is therefore enough that it produces fear -- fear that if the victim does not yield to the
lustful demands of the accused, something would happen to her at the moment or thereafter. [27]
In the instant case, a clear situation bespeaking abuse of transient authority is established by
the records. There can be no doubt that appellant Garcia had a sort of moral dominance and
influence over Jackielyn such that he could easily intimidate and force her to submit to his satyric
desires, considering that she was very young at that time and under his custody. [28]Jackielyn was
only eight years old when Garcia started molesting her sexually. Appellant himself admitted that
he was expected to take care of complainant and her brother, and to give them guidance and
advice. Hence, the victim could hardly be expected to use any discretion and discernment as to
how she could resist the coercive power of appellant.[29]
Jackielyn disclosed during her direct examination that she was afraid of appellant because
sometimes he would get mad at her and beat her. [30] On cross-examination, she declared that she

never confided to her older brother about the rape incidents because she feared that if she did so,
appellant might get angry and beat her. [31] Her fear of appellant is vividly illustrated by the
testimony of her uncle, Angelito Ong, about that incident when the victim and her younger brother
failed to get their food from his house and he found them in a nearby store because they were
locked out of the house by appellant. [32] So great was the fear instilled by appellant in the victims
mind that she would rather go hungry, which is an ordeal for young children, than incur his ire.
In sum, complainants tender age and appellants custodial control and domination over her,
had rendered her so meek and subservient to his needs and desires, thus becoming an easy prey
to appellants lecherous advances.[33] This psychological predicament, in the mind of the Court,
explains why the offended girl did not give any outcry or offer any resistance when she was being
raped,[34] especially when she became inured to the outrage repeatedly committed over a period of
time and which sexual assaults were corroborated by medicolegal evidence.
Perhaps, though, the most convincing evidence that appellant Garcia committed the acts
charged is his very own admission of having had repeated carnal knowledge of the victim in a
letter which he sent on August 24, 1994 from his place of detention to Elizabeth Ong, his live-in
partner and aunt of the victim, wherein he pleaded that he be given another chance and promised
to change for the better.[35] The following excerpts therefrom, to quote just a few, are indeed
revealing and revolting:
x x x OO, tutuong may ng yari sa amin ni Jackylyn. Yon ay alam niya. Kayo mismo ang
kumausap. Nitong May at June hanggang July 16, 1994. Yan ay inaamin ko pero hindi ko siya
tinakot at ni rape. Alam ni Jacklyn yon. x x x Una halikan lang muna siya panga ang nagumpisa. Ng umabot ng June bago magpasukan nitong 1994 lang kami lumag-pas sa hindi
dapat. At siya pa nga ang nagsabi sa akin dinadatnan na siya kaya mag-ingat kami at baka raw
mabuntis ko siya. Di kako bahala ka ikaw ang babae. Mga 7 o 8 beses kami naulit. Mula May,
June, July 16, 1994. Tapos kako nga pa sa kanya bakit gustong-gusto mo na ginaganoon ko siya at
anong dahilan. Ang sabi niya ay wala. Kako hindi mo ba alam maraming magagalit at
masasaktan. At saka kako hindi ka papayag ipaubaya ang pinakamahalagang bagay na iniingatan
ng babae. Bakit kako mahal mo ba ako sabi naman OO. x x x Humihingi ako sa inyo ng isang
pagkakataon na ibalato na lang ninyo ang buhay ko kay Jackylyn x x x at Beth kung talagang
mahal mo rin ako ay pabayaan mo na ang kalayaan ko at sarili kay Jackylyn. x x x Kaya
humihingi ako sa inyong lima ng isa pang pagkakataon na panagutan si Jackylyn. x x x At yong
ng yari samin ni Jackylyn ay kapwa namin kagustuhan. x x x At hindi kunaman talaga ni
rape. x x x Handa kunaman panagutan. x x x Kayo ang pag-asa ko para sa kaligtasan ng
buhay ko dahil sa paratang nayan. x x x Kaya nakikiusap ako at humihingi ng awa ninyo at
isang pag-kakataon. x x x.
If what appellant claims in his letter that he and Jackielyn were lovers is true, it is paradoxical
that he never mentioned that in his testimony nor did he present any evidence to prove such
supposed relationship. His silence on the matter becomes highly suspect, considering that such a
defense was undeniably intended to possibly save the day for him. An elementary knowledge of
human nature would expose his pretensions as merely an afterthought on the part of appellant, in
a desperate and vain attempt to exculpate himself from his shameless and heinous acts.
Besides, it is the height of incredibility that, as appellant would want to suggest in his
aforestated letter, the initiative came from the victim herself, this despite her age and the inbred
modesty of a provincial lass. That would be stretching the imagination too far and insulting to the
intelligence and credulity of even an ordinary layman. It has never been shown, nor has an
insinuation been made, that Jackielyn was a girl of loose morals with the capacity to lure a much
older man into such indiscretions over an incredible period of time.
In contrast, the defense relied solely on the testimony of appellant which, as earlier observed,
leaves very much to be desired as it consists mainly of bare and pharisaical denials. Time and
again we have said that denial, like alibi, is a weak defense which becomes even weaker in the
face of the positive identification of the accused by prosecution witnesses. Appellants denial
constituted self-serving negative evidence which can hardly be considered as overcoming a
straightforward and creditworthy eyewitness account. As between positive and categorical
testimony which has the ring of truth on one hand, and a bare denial on the other, the former is
generally held to prevail,[36] especially given the facts obtaining in this case.
III. Be that as it may, however, on the bases of the evidence adduced by the prosecution,
appellant can be convicted only of the two rapes committed in November, 1990 and on July 21,
1994 as testified to by complainant, and for the eight counts of rape committed in May and June
and on July 16, 1994 as admitted in appellants aforementioned letter of August 24, 1994. We

cannot agree with the trial court that appellant is guilty of 183 counts of rape because, as correctly
asserted by the defense, each and every charge of rape is a separate and distinct crime so that
each of them should be proven beyond reasonable doubt. On that score alone, the indefinite
testimonial evidence that complainant was raped every week is decidedly inadequate and grossly
insufficient to establish the guilt of appellant therefor with the required quantum of evidence. So
much of such indefinite imputations of rape, which areuncorroborated by any other evidence, fall
within this category.
We are fully convinced, however, that appellant is guilty of statutory rape for the sexual act
committed in November, 1990 when Jackielyn was only eight years old. Sexual congress with a
girl under twelve years of age is always rape although there might have been consent to the
sexual act. Being of such tender age, she is presumed not to have a will of her own. The law does
not consider any kind of consent given by her as voluntary.[37]
It has likewise been sufficiently established beyond reasonable doubt that Jackielyn was raped
by appellant on July 21, 1994. The evidence is well-nigh conclusive that she was intimidated into
submitting to appellants libidinous craving and loathsome assault by reason of his authority and
predominance over her. Jackielyn may well have been over twelve years of age at that time, but
what is the difference in mental fitness and attitude between a twelve-year old girl and one who is
twelve years and one month old?[38]
Finally, appellants admission in his letter of August 24, 1994 that it happened 7 or 8 times in
May, June until July 16, 1994, which was never explained away nor successfully refuted by the
defense, should definitely be taken into consideration. It is said that although written admissions
have sometimes been treated as competent evidence under the head of one of the exceptions to
hearsay evidence, yet they are open to but few of the objections which may be urged against
hearsay testimony. They are, it is true, declarations made out of court and without sanction of an
oath, yet they are statements, not of third persons, but of a party to the litigation; and, where they
are offered against him, it is only fair to presume, until the contrary is shown, that they are
correct. Whatever a party voluntarily admits to be true, though the admission be contrary to his
interest, may reasonably be taken for the truth.[39]
No compelling reason exists in the case at bar to warrant the exclusion or disregard of these
admissions of appellant. These are admissions against his own interest which no sane or
reasonable man would make if they were not true. He voluntarily and intelligently made and even
put them down in single-spaced handwriting on four full pages of legal size ruled pad. On top of
that, he identified the same and testified thereon, without any repudiation, in open court on
January 13, 1995, thus converting such extrajudicial admissions into judicial admissions.
One might ask why, having been burned the first time, the offended girl did not thereafter stay
away from appellant, thereby giving him other opportunities to inflict his lust on her. The obvious
explanation is that we are dealing here not with a worldly-wise woman but with a young and
innocent child of tender age whose acts were dominated more by fear than by reason. [40] This is
especially understandable in this case where the victim is practically an orphan abandoned in the
care of a stranger masquerading in the guise of a guardian, and who never felt a sense of
belonging except to such a stranger whom she wrongly believed had a familial concern for her, but
whom she realized too late was devilishly unworthy of her trust and respect.
IV. We now proceed to consider the proper imposable penalty on appellant in light of his
proven criminal misdeeds consisting of ten acts of rape. Having been charged with the simple
crime of rape, each of which warrants the imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua, both the
trial court and the Peoples Tribune agree on that penalty to be imposed for each crime, although
both contend that such penalty should be imposed on 183 acts of rape. We have already
explained that appellant can be convicted of only ten crimes of rape, but we have not answered
the unspoken question, since both the trial court and the Solicitor General have passed sub
silentio thereover, on whether the ten convictions we sustain should be for simple rape or for its
qualified form under the circumstances stated in Republic Act No. 7659 which amended Article 335
of the Revised Penal Code.
It is true that the appellant has been charged with simple rape, that the court below found him
guilty only of simple rape as charged, and that no issue over the effect of the amendatory law has
been raised. However, it is a long-settled rule in criminal procedure, which is now enshrined in the
Rules of Court,[41] that an appeal throws the criminal case open for review by the appellate court
which may thereafter reverse the decision a quo, or modify the same by reducing or increasing the
penalty upon a concomitant modification of the findings on the nature of the crime committed or
the computation of the penalty therefor. Here, we are further confronted by the situation wherein
the first crime of rape in 1990 of which we find appellant guilty is covered by the original
provisions of the Revised Penal Code, while the other nine crimes of rape committed in 1994 are

governed by the amendatory provisions of Republic Act No. 7659, with circumstances
necessitating higher penalties, and which took effect on December 31, 1993. [42]
Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659 provides that where the victim of the crime of rape is
under eighteen years of age and the offender is, inter alia, a guardian of the victim, the death
penalty shall be imposed. The inevitable query, since the fact is mentioned in passing in the
records, is whether or not appellant is a guardian in the contemplation of this amendment to the
law on rape such that, the victim being a minor, he should be punished with the higher penalty of
death for the nine crimes of rape committed by him in May and June, 1994 and on July 16 and July
21, 1994.
In the law on rape, the role of a guardian is provided for in Article 344 of the Revised Penal
Code, specifically as one who, aside from the offended party, her parents or grandparents, is
authorized to file the sworn written complaint to commence the prosecution for that
crime. In People vs. De la Cruz,[43] it was held that the guardian referred to in the law is either a
legal or judicial guardian as understood in the rules on civil procedure.
That holding was rationalized as follows:
Article 344 of the Revised Penal Code, paragraph 3, is as follows:
Tampoco puede procederse por causa de estupro, rapto, violacin o abusos deshonestos, sino en
virtud de denuncia de la parte agraviada, o de sus padres, o abuelos o tutor, ni despus de
haberse otorgado al ofensor, perdn expreso por dichas partes, segun los casos. Without passing
at this time on the question whether the tutor (legal guardian) may file a complaint in the
temporary absence of the parents or grandparents of the offended party, it suffices to say that we
cannot accept the view of the Government that an aunt who has the temporary custody of a minor
in the absence of her father occupies the position of a tutor (legal guardian). The word tutor
(guardian) appearing in article 344, supra, must be given the same meaning as in section 551 of
the Code of Civil Procedure, that is to say, a guardian legally appointed in accordance with the
provisions of Chapter XXVII of the Code of Civil Procedure.
It would not be logical to say that the word guardian in the third paragraph of Article 344
which is mentioned together with parents and grandparents of the offended party would have a
concept different from the guardian in the recent amendments of Article 335 where he is also
mentioned in the company of parents and ascendants of the victim. In Article 344, the inclusion of
the guardian is only to invest him with the power to sign a sworn written complaint to initiate the
prosecution of four crimes against chastity, while his inclusion in the enumeration of the offenders
in Article 335 is to authorize the imposition of the death penalty on him. With much more reason,
therefore, should the restrictive concept announced in De la Cruz, that is, that he be a legal or
judicial guardian, be required in the latter article.
The Court notes from the transcripts of the proceedings in Congress on this particular
point[44] that the formulators were not definitive on the concept of guardian as it now appears in
the attendant circumstances added to the original provisions of Article 335 of the Code. They took
note of the status of a guardian as contemplated in the law on rape but, apparently on pragmatic
considerations to be determined by the courts on an ad hoc basis, they agreed to just state
guardian without the qualification that he should be a legal or judicial guardian. It was assumed,
however, that he should at the very least be a de facto guardian. Indeed, they must have been
aware of jurisprudence that the guardian envisaged in Article 335 of the Code, even after its
amendment by Republic Act No. 4111, would either be a natural guardian, sometimes referred to
as a legal or statutory guardian, or a judicial guardian appointed by the court over the person of
the ward.
They did agree, however, that the additional attendant circumstances introduced by Republic
Act No. 7659 should be considered as special qualifying circumstances specifically applicable to
the crime of rape and, accordingly, cannot be offset by mitigating circumstances. The obvious
ratiocination is that, just like the effect of the attendant circumstances theretofore added by
Republic Act No. 4111, although the crime is still denominated as rape such circumstances have
changed the nature of simple rape by producing a qualified form thereof punishable by the higher
penalty of death.[45]
Coming back to the categorization of the functions of appellant in relation to private
complainant and her brother, we are not prepared to say that, under the particular and peculiar
facts obtaining in this case, the former sustained the relation of guardian to the latter, whether as
a natural or legal, or even de facto and, much less, judicial guardian. He cannot be a legal or
natural guardian as that refers to parents, nor even a guardian de son tort (sometimes referred to
as a quasi-guardian or guardian by estoppel) since he did not on his own assume to act as a

guardian of, say, a foundling.[46] The fact is that he is not related to and he did not even support
the children as it was Elizabeth Ong, then later her brother who provided the food, other
necessities and instructions for the care of the children, and they have been living in Elizabeths
house wherein appellant was in that respect merely a hanger-on and a freeloader. He was merely
expected to carry out Elizabeths directions, and Elizabeth continued to be the guardian de facto of
the children.
Appellant has not been proven to have exercised any valid act of patria potestas over
complainant and her brother, unless we consider beating and abusing them as within that
concept. In fine, at the very most, appellant was only an unwilling custodian and caretaker, not
unlike a domestic majordomo or steward of the house and the children, and for which services he
obtained free board and lodging. Ironically, that amorphous role that he played in the lives of the
children, and which enabled him to abuse them, offers him salvation from the death penalty which
he deserves. This is because the Court proceeds only under the dictates of the law and never
under errant emotionalism or maudlin sentimentality.
The law requires a legal or judicial guardian since it is the consanguineous relation or the
solemnity of judicial appointment which impresses upon the guardian the lofty purpose of his office
and normally deters him from violating its objectives. Such considerations do not obtain in
appellants case or, for that matter, any person similarly circumstanced as a mere custodian of a
ward or anothers property. The fiduciary powers granted to a real guardian warrant the exacting
sanctions should he betray the trust.
It results, therefore, that appellant cannot be considered as the guardian falling within the
ambit of the amendatory provision introduced by Republic Act No. 7659. He would not fall either in
the category of the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim in the same enumeration,
since his liaison is with respect to the aunt of Jackielyn. Since both logic and fact conjointly
demonstrate that he is actually only a custodian, that is, a mere caretaker of the children over
whom he exercises a limited degree of authority for a temporary period, we cannot impose the
death penalty contemplated for a real guardian under the amendments introduced by Republic Act
No. 7659, since he does not fit into that category.
One further observation. Article 335 originally provided only for simple rape punishable
by reclusion perpetua, but Republic Act No. 4111 introduced amendments thereto by providing for
qualified forms of rape carrying the death penalty, that is, when committed with the use of a
deadly weapon or by two or more persons, when by reason or on the occasion of the rape the
victim becomes insane, or, under the same circumstances, a homicide is committed. The
homicide in the last two instances in effect created a special complex crime of rape with
homicide. The first two attendant circumstances are considered as equivalent to qualifying
circumstances since they increase the penalties by degrees, and not merely as aggravating
circumstances which affect only the period of the penalty but do not increase it to a higher
degree. The original provisions of Article 335 and the amendments of Republic Act No. 4111 are
still maintained.
As earlier observed, Republic Act No. 7659 thereafter introduced seven more attendant
circumstances the presence of any of which takes the case out of the purview of simple rape, and
effectively qualifies the same by increasing the penalty one degree higher through the imposition
of the death penalty. All these new attendant circumstances, just like those introduced by Republic
Act No. 4111, partake of the nature of qualifying circumstances, and not merely aggravating
circumstances, on the same rationale already explained.
Now, it has long been the rule that qualifying circumstances must be properly pleaded in the
indictment. If the same are not pleaded but proved, they shall be considered only as aggravating
circumstances,[47] since the latter admit of proof even if not pleaded. [48] Indeed, it would be a denial
of the right of the accused to be informed of the charges against him and, consequently, a denial
of due process, if he is charged with simple rape and be convicted of its qualified form punishable
with death, although the attendant circumstance qualifying the offense and resulting in capital
punishment was not alleged in the indictment on which he was arraigned.
Recapitulating, the information filed against appellant charged only the felony of simple rape
and no attendant qualifying circumstance, specifically that of his being supposedly a guardian of
the victim, was alleged. On this additional consideration, he cannot, therefore, be punished with
the penalty of death even assuming arguendo that he is such a guardian. Neither can that fact be
considered to aggravate his liability as the penalty for simple rape is the single indivisible penalty
of reclusion perpetua.[49]
The end result, therefore, is that for the ten crimes of rape of which we declare him guilty, only
the penalty of reclusion perpetua can be imposed. He must, however, be further held liable for the
corresponding indemnity to the victim, as well as exemplary damages for each count of rape. [50]

WHEREFORE, the challenged judgment of the court a quo is MODIFIED. Accused-appellant

David Garcia y Quitorio is hereby declared guilty of ten (10) felonies of simple rape and ordered to
serve the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each felony, subject to the provisions of Article 70 of
the Revised Penal Code. He is further ordered to indemnify Jackielyn Ong in the sum of P50,000.00
for each of the ten (10) felonies of rape, to pay her exemplary damages of P25,000.00 likewise for
each of the ten (10) felonies of rape, and to pay the costs in all instances of this criminal

G.R. No. 122934

January 5, 2001
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
and FLORIANO ALGABRE @ "LOLOY", Accused, ARTURO ENAD, accused-appellant.
Accused-appellant Arturo Enad1 assails the decision rendered by the Regional Trial Court of
Tagbilaran City, Branch 1, in two consolidated cases, Criminal Case No. 7887 for murder and
Criminal Case No. 7888 for frustrated murder. It convicted and sentenced him to reclusion
perpetua in the first case and to a prison terms of six (6) years and one (1) day of prision mayor,
as minimum to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum, in the
second case.1wphi1.nt
In Criminal Case No. 7887, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bohol charged Angel Preciados,
Arturo Enad, Emigdio Villamor, Leoncio Algabre, and Floriano Algabre alias "Loloy" with murder
allegedly committed as follows:
The on or about the 12th to the 13th day of May 1992, in the municipality of Sagbayan,
province of Bohol, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping with (sic) one another, with
intent to kill and without justifiable cause, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully, and
feloniously pour poison into the mouth of one Primo Hilbero whereby causing the victim's
untimely death; to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of the deceased in the amount to
be proved during the trial.
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended, with the aggravating circumstances of (1) treachery, the victim being unaware
and unsuspecting and (2) abuse of superior strength, two of the accused being armed with
deadly weapons which they used in intimidating, threatening and forcing the victim to drink
the poison.2
In Criminal Case No. 7888, the same persons were charged with frustrated murder. The charge
sheet reads:
That on or about the 12th to the 13th day of May, 1992, in the municipality of Sagbayan,
province of Bohol, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping with (sic) one
another, with intent to kill and without justifiable cause, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously pour poison into the mouth of one Antonio Hilbero thereby
inflicting serious injuries on the victim's body; thus, the accused having performed in said
manner all the acts of execution which would have produced the crime of Murder as a
consequence, but which nevertheless did not produce it by reason of a cause independent
of their will, that is, by the timely medical attendance and treatment rendered the damage
and prejudice of the said offended party in the amount to be proved during the trial (sic).
Acts committed contrary to the provisions of Article 248 in relation to Articles 6 and 50 of
the Revised Penal Code, as amended, with the aggravating circumstances of (1) treachery,
the victim being unaware and unsuspecting and (2) abuse of superior of strength two of the
accused being armed with deadly weapon which they to used in intimidating, threatening
and forcing the victim to drink the poison.3

The informations were both dated July 20, 1992 but the cases were tried before different salas.
Branch 4 of the Regional Trial Court of Tagbilaran City, tried Criminal Case No. 7887, while Branch 3
tried Criminal Case No. 7888.
On August 26, 1992, the accused in Criminal Case No. 7888 were ordered arrested. But the police
failed to apprehend any of the accused. Preciados and the Algebres were reported to have gone
into hiding in Mindanao, while Enad and Villamor went to Cebu City. It was only on July 20, 1993,
when appellant Arturo Enad was arrested. Arraigned in Criminal Case No. 7887, he pleaded not
guilty. He waived pre-trial and the case was set for trial.
On September 13, 1993, Judge Achilles L. Melicor of Branch 4, RTC of Tagbilaran City, inhibited
himself from Criminal Case No. 7887, since the accused were the political leaders of Mayor Arthur
Melicor-Aana, his cousin, while the victims were supporters of the mayor's political rival, Narzal B.
On February 14, 1994, Criminal Case No. 7888 was revived and jointly tried with Criminal Case No.
7887 in Branch 1, RTC of Tagbilaran City. Arraigned in Criminal Case No. 7888 on February 15,
1994, appellant entered a plea of not guilty. Thereafter, Criminal Cases Nos. 7887 and 7888 were
jointly tried, without prejudice to the separate arraignment and trial of the other accused who
continued to evade arrest.
The facts of the case, culled from the prosecution's presentation, are as follows:
Appellant and Antonio Hilbero,4 the victim in Criminal Case No. 7888, are second cousins. Both are
residents of Ubujan, Sagbayan, Bohol. Appellant is also a cousin of Primo Hilbero's mother-in-law.
Primo Hilbero is the victim in Criminal Case No. 7887.
During the May 11, 1992 elections, appellant and Antonio supported rival mayoralty candidates of
Sagbayan. Appellant was a supporter and poll watcher of Arthur Aana, while Antonio, a barangay
councilman of Ubujan, was a partisan of Narzal Ermac. Appellant's co-accused were also identified
with Aana who won.
At around 11:00 p.m. of May 12, 1992, Antonio with his common law wife and their two children,
his brother, Primo and his wife, Helen with their three children, Antonio's mother, Dominga, and
another brother, Severino were at the second floor of the old rice mill at Ubujan. Except for Helen,
the clan had retired for the night. She was about to go to sleep when she noticed Antonio go
downstairs. Minutes later, her husband Primo, followed him. Then she heard someone utter, "Don't
move." Alarmed, she rose from her mat and peeped through a two-inch hole in the floor. 5 The
ground floor was illuminated by moonlight. She saw appellant holding a hand grenade while his
other arm was locked in a stranglehold around the neck of Antonio who knelt on the floor. 6 Nearby
stood Angel Preciados with a gun pointed at Antonio.7 She then heard Emigdio Villamor say "Don't
move so that your family will not die." She saw the latter forcing Primo to shallow an object. 8 The
other accused held her husband to prevent him from struggling. Shocked, Helen then soundlessly
cried and embraced her children. Shortly afterwards, Helen's mother-in-law, Dominga, was
awakened by the barking of the family dog. Dominga went downstairs where she saw Primo lifeless
on the floor, reeking of poison.9 Antonio was nowhere to be found. Dominga rushed upstairs and
woke up Severino, all the while shouting for help. Minutes later, the barangay captain and some
neighbors responded to her shouts for assistance. They found Primo dead on the floor. Informed
that Antonio was missing, they searched the immediate surroundings for him but to no avail. 10
Early in the morning of May 13, 1992, the search for Antonio was resumed. He was finally found by
his uncle, Simeon Degamo, holding on to rock in a natural well, some 300 meters away from the
rice mill. A rope was thrown to him and he was pulled out from the well. Noticing that he smelled of
some poisonous chemical, his rescuers made him drink coconut milk. 11 He was weak and appeared
on the verge of death and brought to the hospital at Clarin, Bohol for emergency treatment.
The next day, prosecution witness Zosimo Viva,12 a defeated municipal councilor candidate in the
same slate of Ermac, Antonio's common law wife, and two police investigators transferred Antonio
to the Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City. 13 According to prosecution
witness Dr. Mayda14 Reyes who admitted Antonio to the hospital, Antonio told her that the latter
was forced to drink a certain liquid, which smelled like insecticide. 15 Another physician, Dr. Maria
Luisa Tage, who attended to Antonio diagnosed, "Poisoning, Etiology not determined, Brief reactive
Since Antonio appeared to be dying, prosecution witness PO3 Leonardo Inoc, a police investigator,
took his "ante-mortem" statement17 in which he named the aforementioned accused as the
persons responsible for poisoning him and dropping him in the well. 18
Meanwhile, Ermac asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an
investigation.19 The toxicological examination of Primo's body revealed the presence
of methamidophos, the active ingredient of the insecticide "Tamaron" in Primo's organs. 20 The NBI
also recovered two empty bottles, at the scene of the incident. Chemistry tests on them revealed

that the "Hoechst" bottle was positive for deltamethrine, an insecticide, while the other bottle
revealed traces of methamidophos.21
Appellant denied any involvement in the poisoning incident. He claimed an alibi. He said he spent
the whole night of May 11, 1992, in the municipal hall of Sagbayan, as a watcher for the party of
Mayor Aana. He went home early morning of May 12, 1992 and spent the whole day repairing his
pigpens even if he had not slept the previous night. At around seven o'clock P.M. his wife and he
went to the house of his co-accused Angel Preciados to attend the birthday party of the latter's
son.22 Afterwards, they returned home and went to sleep. 23 He woke up at around 9:00 A.M. and
learned about the incident. He went to the old rice mill to find out more about the poisoning
incident and saw the Hilberos. When he asked Helen what happened, she said she knew nothing
about the death of her husband.24 Later that day, he returned to Cebu City where he worked as a
crane operator. He could not think of any reason why he would be suspected for committing a
crime, as he was on good terms with the victims.25
The defense offered a different version of the poisoning incident. According to the defense, Antonio
and Primo agreed to commit suicide by taking poison.26 It presented Antonio's affidavit dated
February 28, 1994,27 where he recanted his story in his affidavit of May 22, 1992. 28 Antonio
testified that he and Primo decided to commit suicide by drinking poison to prevent defeated
candidates Ermac and Viva from harming their families. Antonio refused to follow the orders of
Viva to kill the political leaders of Mayor Aana, including the appellant. Thus, Antonio said, he and
Primo feared for the lives of their relatives. After Primo and he drank poison, Primo immediately
died. When he did not succumb right away, Antonio wrote a suicide note and tried to drown
himself in the well.29 After his rescue, Ermac and Viva took him into custody and bought him to
Mindanao, allegedly for his safety.30 The two, however, threatened to kill him and made him falsely
charge the appellant with murder and frustrated murder. 31 Antonio totally repudiated his "antemortem" statement and his earlier affidavit charging the accused with murder and frustrated
Testifying for the defense, P/Col. Benjamin Absalon, of the Bohol Provincial Command of the
Philippine National Police, testified that the police investigation revealed that Primo's death by
poison was not due to foul play. He declared that they did not finish their investigation because
Antonio disappeared from the hospital before they could interview him. 32
To rebut Antonio's testimony, Dr. Mayda Reyes was called anew to confirm what Antonio had told
her, that he was forced to drink poison by several men.33 SPO1 Leonardo Inoc testified again that
he took Antonio's "ante-mortem" statement.34 Apolinario Libranza, barangay captain of Ubujan,
Sagbayan was presented to refute Antonio's claims regarding Zosimo Viva. 35 Antonio's mother,
Dominga, testified that her son was not afraid of either Viva or Ermac 36 and affirmed the
truthfulness of Helen's testimony.37
In sur-rebuttal, Antonio maintained the veracity of his suicide account.
Finding the prosecution's version more credible, the trial court on January 2, 1995, convicted
appellant of the crimes charged in Criminal Cases Nos. 7887 and 7888. It concluded:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, in Criminal Case No. 7887 the Court finds the accused Arturo Enad
GUILTY of the crime of Murder punished under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code and
hereby sentences him to suffer an imprisonment of RECLUSION PERPETUA with the
accessories of the law and to pay the costs.
The accused Arturo Enad is further ordered to indemnify the surviving spouse of the
deceased Primo Hilbiro (sic) in the amount of P50,000.00 representing indemnity and
P50,000.00 representing moral and exemplary damages. In both instances without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.
In Criminal Case No. 7888, the Court finds the accused Arturo Enad GUILTY of the crime of
Frustrated Murder under Article 248 in relation with (sic) Articles 6 and 50 of the Revised
Penal Code, as amended and hereby sentences him to suffer an Indeterminate Sentence
from SIX (6) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY, the Minimum of the Minimum Period of Prision Mayor,
as Minimum, to TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY, the Minimum of the Minimum Period
of Reclusion Temporal, as Maximum, with the accessories of the law and to pay the cost.
The Court makes no pronouncement as to indemnity and damages for the Court viewed the
retraction of the complainant Antonio Hilbiro (sic) of his previous testimony, as a waiver of
It appearing that the accused Arturo Enad has undergone preventive imprisonment in
Criminal Cases Nos. 7887 and 7888 he is entitled to the full time of his preventive
imprisonment to be deducted from his term of sentences (sic) if he has executed a waiver.
On July 25, 1995, appellant filed his notice of appeal to this Court. On November 20, 1996, the
Office of Legal Aid of the U.P. College of Law entered its appearance as counsel.

Before us, appellant poses the following questions for resolution:

In sum, appellant raises the following issues: First, Did the trial court err in giving credence to the
testimony of alleged eyewitness Helen Hilbero? Second, Did the lower court err in relying on "dying
statement" of Antonio Hilbero? Third, Did the prosecution evidence successfully overcome the
presumption of innocence in favor of the accused?
The first issue deals with the credibility of prosecution witness Helen Hilbero. Appellant argues that
the testimony of the sole prosecution eyewitness, Helen Hilbero, is doubtful. He points out that it
was odd that despite witnessing her husband murdered and her brother-in-law poisoned, Helen did
not make a statement to the police on what she witnessed; that while the police took the sworn
statement of Dominga, the mother of Primo and Antonio, they did not take the statement of the
widow, who allegedly saw everything; and that even after meeting appellant face to face on the
morning of May 13, 1992, no confrontation occurred between appellant and her. Furthermore, the
prosecution did not rebut appellant's testimony that Helen admitted to appellant that she did not
know what happened to her husband and brother-in-law. The prosecution suggests that Helen's
testimony was a mere concoction of the political opponents of Mayor Aana and that Helen was
coached on her testimony when it became apparent to Ermac and Viva that Antonio would not
testify the way they wanted.
The Office of the Solicitor General, for its part, contends that there is nothing unnatural in Helen's
failure to immediately disclose what she knew. The failure to reveal the identities of the
perpetrators should not impair her credibility since there is no set standards of human behavior
when one is confronted with a strange, striking, or frightful experience. Moreover, she had her
reasons to keep what she knew to herself. The accused were her neighbors and they could easily
cause her and her family harm. Thus, the trial court, the OSG said, committed no error in relying
on her testimony to convict appellant.
Where the credibility of a witness is an issue, the established rule is that great respect is accorded
to the evaluation of the credibility of witnesses by the trial court. It is in the best position to
determine the issue of credibility of a witness, having heard his testimony and observed his
deportment and manner of testifying.39 But, where there is a showing that the trial court
overlooked material and relevant facts, which could affect the outcome of a case, 40 the Court will
not hesitate to set aside the lower court's findings and assessments regarding the credibility of
In giving full faith and credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, the trial court
The findings of the court relative to the credibility of the witnesses militate in favor of the
prosecution witnesses (citations omitted). The court took into consideration 'the most
important factor(s) (of) each witness, his manner and behavior on the witness stand and
the general characteristics, tone, tenor and inherent probability of his statement (citations
omitted)' for in most instances 'the demeanor of a witness on the witness stand is often a
better evidence of his veracity than the answer he gives (citations omitted)' and 'it is
perfectly reasonable to believe the testimony of a witness with respect to other parts.
Everytime when witnesses are found to have deliberately falsified some material particulars
it is not required that the whole of their uncorroborated testimony be rejected but some
portions thereof deemed worthy of belief may be credited. (emphasis ours). 41
On record the lower court heavily relied on the testimony of Helen. However, it did not make any
categorical finding as to her credibility or the veracity of her account.
We find Helen's testimony riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities which could affect the
outcome of this case. Helen testified that upon hearing a different voice downstairs, she peeped
through a two-inch hole in the floor and saw, with the moonlight cascading through the windows of
the old mill, the accused forcibly make her husband, Primo, swallow poison. 42 On direct
examination, she stated, she heard the words "Don't move."43Under cross-examination, she said
what she heard was "Don't move so that the grenade will not be exploded." As the crossexamination progressed, however, she declared that what she actually heard was "Don't move
otherwise your family will be included." She initially admitted that the first words were uttered by a
voice unknown to her. On further grilling by the defense, she claimed she recognized the voice as

appellant's Relentless cross-examination, however, yielded an admission that it was the voice of
accused Villamor she heard first.44 The identification of an accused through his voice is acceptable,
particularly if the witness knows the accused personally.45 But the identification must be
categorical and certain. We observed that the witness changed her version a number of times. A
startling or frightful experience creates an indelible impression in the mind such that the
experience can be recalled vividly. 46 Where the witness, however, fails to remain consistent on
important details, such as the identity of the person whose voice she heard, a suspicion is created
that "material particulars" in her testimony had indeed been altered. If an eyewitness contradicts
himself on a vital question, the element of reasonable doubt is injected and cannot be lightly
Helen's testimony contained contradictory statements. In one instance she said she witnessed the
fatal poisoning of her husband by the accused because the mil was lit by moonlight. In another
instance she said the mill was dark and unlit.48 On further cross-examination she claimed that she
witnessed the events because of the bright moonlight.49 First, she said the moonlight was very
bright50then later she said the moon was not very full.51 The defense showed that during that night,
five nights before its fullness, the moon was in its first quarter52 and it was not as bright as a full
moon. Note also that Helen's view of the event was limited because she was only peeping through
a small hole. Under these conditions, Helen's flip-flopping testimony created serious doubts
regarding its veracity and credibility. Thus her testimony concerning the destruction of the bamboo
slats in one window of the mill invites serious doubt. The mill had two windows covered with
bamboo slats. To enter the mill through the windows, the bamboo slats must be destroyed. Yet,
Helen did not hear the sound of the bamboo slats being destroyed, which was the only way the
intruders could have entered.
Her testimony regarding the murder of her husband, Primo, is less than credible. She said that
while Primo struggled not to imbibe the poison, he did not utter a sound. According to her, Primo
could not utter a sound as his neck was "clipped", or "headlocked" as the trial court puts it. 53 There
was no showing, however, that the victim's mouth was muffled to prevent him from shouting for
help. From her testimony, she could have easily asked for help. It will be recalled that barangay
captain and their neighbors quickly responded to her mother-in-law's shout for help after seeing
Primo's corpse.54 Helen's account, that her husband violently struggled against his murderers
yet soundlessly gulped down the poison they made him drink, is unnatural. It evokes disbelief.
Evidence to be believed must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must
also be credible by itself, and must conform to the common experience and observation of
As a rule, an eyewitness testimony cannot be disregarded on account of the delay in reporting the
event, so long as the delay is justified. 56 In this case, Helen kept silent for almost two years. She
had no affidavit during the preliminary investigation. 57 It was only at the trial that she came out to
say she witnessed her husband's murder. She did not explain why. Her long silence is out of
character and appears inconsistent with her behavior in immediately reporting to the police and
the barangay captain an incident when an unidentified man accosted her on the whereabouts of
Additionally, on direct testimony, she declared that she knew that Antonio was found in a hole
filled with water on the morning of May 13, 1992.59 Yet, cross-examination, she declared that she
did not know where his rescuers found Antonio that morning. 60 Such contradictory statements tend
to erode Helen's credibility as a prosecution witness and raise serious doubt concerning the
prosecution's evidence.
On the second issue, appellant submits that the trial court erred when it admitted and gave much
weight to the probative value of the "ante mortem" statement of Antonio.61 Appellant contends
that the statement can neither be considered as dying declaration under Rule 130, Sec. 37 62 nor
part of the res gestae under Rule 130, Section 42 63 of the Rules of Court. It is inadmissible for
being hearsay. Furthermore, he avers it was error for the trial court to give weight to the first
affidavit of Antonio,64 since Antonio repudiated the same, stating that its contents were false.
According to appellant, Antonio claimed said affidavit was given under duress.1wphi1.nt
The Solicitor General, for its part, argues that Antonio's actions during and immediately after the
incident were completely inconsistent with those of a person who allegedly wanted to commit
suicide. Hence, his retraction should be looked at with jaundiced eye, following our ruling in People
v. Junio, 237 SCRA 826 (1994), where we held that retractions are generally unreliable and looked
upon with considerable disfavor.
A dying declaration is the statement which refers to the cause and surrounding circumstances of
the declarant's death, made under the consciousness of an impending death." 65 It is admissible in
evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule66 because of necessity and trustworthiness.
Necessity, because the declarant's death makes it impossible for him to take the witness

stand67 and trustworthiness, for when a person is at the point of death, every motive for falsehood
is silenced and the mind is induced by the most powerful consideration to speak the truth. 68 The
requisites for the admissibility of a dying declaration are: (1) the death is imminent and the
declarant is conscious of that fact; (2) the declaration refers to the cause and surrounding
circumstances of such death; (3) the declaration relates to facts which the victim is competent to
testify; (4) the declaration thereafter dies; and (5) the declaration is offered in a criminal case
wherein the declarant's death is the subject of inquiry. 69
In the present case, the foregoing requisites were not met. A dying declaration is essentially
hearsay, because one person is testifying on what another person stated. This is because the
declarant can no longer be presented in court to identify the document or confirm the statement,
but more important, to be confronted with said statement by the accused and be cross-examined
on its contents.70 It was patently incorrect for the trial court to have allowed prosecution witness
PO3 Leonardo Inoc to testify on Antonio's so-called "dying declaration" because Antonio was alive
and later even testified in court.
But was the purported ante-mortem statement part of the res gestae? Where a victim's statement
may not be admissible as an ante mortem declaration, it may nonetheless be considered as part of
the res gestae, if made immediately after a startling occurrence in relation to the circumstances
thereof and when the victim did not have time to contrive a falsehood. 71 For res gestae to be
allowed as an exception to the hearsay rule, the following requisites must be satisfied: (1) that the
principal act or res gestae be a startling occurrence; (2) the statement is spontaneous or was
made before the declarant had time to contrive or devise, and the statement is made during the
occurrence or immediately prior or subsequent thereto; and (3) the statement made must concern
the occurrence in question and its immediately attending circumstances. 72
In this case, the element of spontaneity is lacking in the alleged ante-mortem statement. Antonio's
statement was taken by PO3 Inoc at around 3:00 o'clock P.M., May 14, 1992 or some thirty-nine
(39) hours after the incident. Thirty-nine hours is too long a time to be considered subsequent
immediately (stress supplied) to the startling occurrence. Even as contemplated by the rules,
statements given a day after the incident in answer to questions propounded by an investigator
cannot be considered part of the res gestae.73 Furthermore, the testimony of the declarant, that
the statement was made under threats and with coaching from losing candidates Ermac and Viva
in order to get even with the winning candidate, Mayor Aana, is uncontroverted. 74
Dying declarations and statements which form part of the res gestae are exceptions to the hearsay
rule, thus they must be strictly but reasonably construed and must extend only insofar as their
language fairly warrants.75 Thus, doubts should be resolved in favor of applying the hearsay rule,
rather than the exceptions. Under said rule, Antonio's so-called ante-mortem statement should not
have been admitted in evidence, for it is neither a dying declaration nor a part of res gestae.
Next we consider whether the trial court could properly rely on Antonio's affidavit dated May 22,
1994 naming the persons responsible for the poisoning incident, notwithstanding his subsequent
repudiation of said affidavit. As a rule, retractions are generally unreliable and are looked upon
with considerable disfavor by the courts76 because of the probability that recantation may later on
be itself repudiated.77 Furthermore, retractions can easily be obtained from witnesses through
intimidation or for monetary consideration,78 and a mere retraction does not necessarily negate an
earlier derclaration.79 When faced with a situation where a witness recants an earlier statement,
courts do not automatically exclude the original testimony. The original declaration is compared
with the new statement, to determine which should be believed. 80
In this case, the trial court rejected Antonio's retraction of his affidavit dated May 22, 1992, for
being contrary to human experience and inherently unworthy of belief. The trial court cited, by way
of illustration, the portion of the affidavit where Antonio claimed that after he and Primo agreed to
commit suicide and drinking a bottle of insecticide, Antonio wrote a farewell letter to his barangaymates. We note, however, that Antonio's second affidavit should have been rejected together with
the first affidavit. Unless an affiant himself takes the witness stand to affirm the averments in his
affidavit, the affidavit must be excluded from the judicial proceeding for being inadmissible
hearsay.81 In this case the affiant expressly refused to confirm the contents of his first affidavit.
Instead, he testified that said affidavit, Exhibit "E" was prepared under grave threats and severe
pressure from Ermac and Viva.82 His earlier affidavit's contents were hearsay, hence inadmissible
in evidence.
Noted further that Exhibit "E" and its sub-markings were offered, to prove that Antonio testified in
detail before NBI Agent Atty. Amador Robeniol about what happened to him and his brother Primo
in the hands of the five accused."83 Even if said Exhibit was admissible, all that it proves is that
Antonio testified and executed an affidavit before the NBI. It does not prove the truthfulness of the
allegations made and contained therein.

Coming now to the third issue: has the prosecution succeeded in proving appellant's guilt beyond
reasonable doubt?
The records show that the only direct evidence linking appellant to the crimes charged and for
which he was convicted are the direct testimony of eyewitness Helen Hilbero and the contents of
Exhibit "E." But as discussed earlier, neither can be given much probative value. As to the
testimonies of the other prosecution witnesses, we find them insufficient to convict appellant as
none of them had any personal knowledge of facts that would directly link appellant to the
offenses charged. Even if these witnesses testified in a straightforward and categorical manner,
their testimonies contained insufficient evidence to establish appellant's guilt beyond reasonable
Appellant's defense of denial in the present case is inherently weak. 84 Denial, if unsubstantiated by
clear and convincing evidence, is a negative and self-serving evidence undeserving of any weight
in law.85 But such weakness does not excuse the prosecution from presenting the adequate
quantum of proof of the crime charged. The guilt of the accused must be proved beyond
reasonable doubt. And the prosecution's evidence must stand or fall on its own weight. It cannot
rely on the weakness of the defense. In the instant case, the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of
appellant with moral certainty. The testimony of its single purported eyewitness, while positive,
was less than credible. It did not meet the test such testimony of a lone witness to sustain a
judgment of conviction, must be both positive and credible.86 In our view, the burden of proof
required for conviction of appellant has not been adequately discharged by the prosecution.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Tagbilaran City, Branch 1, in Criminal
Cases Nos. 7887 and 7888, finding appellant Arturo Enad guilty of murder and frustrated murder is
hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE for insufficiency of the evidence to convict him beyond
reasonable doubt. Appellant is ACQUITTED and ordered RELEASED from confinement
immediately unless he is held for another lawful cause.