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NICOMEDES SILVA vs.

THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE

G.R. No. 81756 October 21, 1991

Facts:
M/Sgt. Ranulfo Villamor, as chief of the PC NARCOM Detachment in Dumaguete City,
Negros Oriental filed an application for the search warrant with the RTC against petitioners. The
application was accompanied by deposition of witness executed by Arthur Alcoran and Pat.
Leon Quindo.
Judge Hickarter Ontal, Presiding judge issued search warrant no. 1 directing the aforesaid
police officers to search the room of Marlon Silva in the residence of Nicomedes Silva for
violation of the dangerous drugs law.. under the search warrant its state that :seize and take
possession of the following property marijuana, dried leaves, cigarettes, joint and bring said
property to the undersigned to be dealt with as the law directs.
In the course of the search, the serving officer also seized money belonging to Antoinette
Silva in the amount of 1231.40. Antoinette filed a motion the return of the said amount. Acting
on said motion Judge Ontal issued an order stating that the court holds in abeyance the
disposition of the said amount pending the filing of appropriate charges in connection with the
search warrant.

Issue:
Whether or not there is a violation of the constitutional right against unreasonable search
and seizure

Ruling:
The Supreme Court held that Section 3 and 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court provides for
the requisite for the issuance of a search warrant.
Section 3 a search warrant shall not issue except for probable cause in connection with one
specific offense to be determined personally by the Judge after examination under oath

G.R. No. 81756 October 21, 1991


NICOMEDES SILVA @ " Comedes", MARLON SILVA, @ "Tama" and ANTONIETA
SILVA, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT OF NEGROS ORIENTAL, BRANCH XXXIII, DUMAGUETE CITY, respondent.

FERNAN, C.J.:
In this special civil action for certiorari, petitioners seek the nullification of Search Warrant No.
1 issued by respondent Judge as well as the return of the money in the amount of P1,231.00
seized from petitioner Antonieta Silva.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On June 13, 1986, M/Sgt. Ranulfo Villamor, Jr., as chief of the PC Narcom Detachment in
Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, filed an "Application for Search Warrant" with the Regional
Trial Court, Branch XXXIII, Dumaguete City against petitioners Nicomedes Silva and Marlon
Silva. 1 This application was accompanied by a "Deposition of Witness" executed by Pfc. Arthur
M. Alcoran and Pat. Leon T. Quindo, also dated June 13, 1986. 2

On the same day. Judge Nickarter A. Ontal, then Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XXXIII, Dumaguete City, pursuant to the
said "Application for Search Warrant" and "Deposition of Witness", issued Search Warrant No. 1, directing the aforesaid police officers to search
the room of Marlon Silva in the residence of Nicomedes Silva for violation of Republic Act No. 6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs
Act of 1972. as amended. Pertinent portions of Search Warrant No. 1 read as follows:

It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned after examining oath (sic) MSGT. Ranulfo T. Villamor, Jr.and his witnesses (sic) Pfc. Arthur
M. Alcoran and Pat. Leon T. Quindo that there is probable cause to believe that possession and control of Marijuana dried leaves, cigarettes,
joint has been committed or is about to be committed and that there are good and sufficient reasons to believe that marijuana dried leaves,
cigarettes, joint has in possession and/or control at Tama's Room (Rgt. side lst Floor) located at Nono-Limbaga Drive, Tanjay, Neg. Or. which
is/are:

X (Subject of the offense stated above

(Stolen or embezzled or other proceeds of fruits of the offense;

X (Used or intended to be used as means of committing an offense.

You are hereby commanded to make an immediate search at any time of the day (night) of the room of Tama Silva residence of his father
Comedes Silva to open (sic)aparadors, lockers, cabinets, cartoons, containers, forthwith seize and take possession of the following property
Marijuana dried leaves, cigarettes, joint and bring the said property to the undersigned to be dealt with as the law directs. 3

In the course of the search, the serving officers also seized money belonging to Antonieta Silva in the amount of P1,231.40.
On June 16, 1986, Antonieta Silva filed a motion for the return of the said amount on the grounds that the search warrant only authorized the
serving officers to seize marijuana dried leaves, cigarettes and joint, and that said officers failed or refused to make a return of the said search
warrant in gross violation of Section 11, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. 4

Acting on said motion, Judge Ontal issued an Order dated July 1, 1986, stating that the court "holds in abeyance the disposition of the said
amount of P1,231.40 pending the filing of appropriate charges in connection with the search warrant." 5

On July 28, 1987, petitioners filed a motion to quash Search Warrant No. 1 on the grounds that (1) it was issued on the sole basis of a
mimeographed "Application for Search Warrant" and "Deposition of Witness", which were accomplished by merely filling in the blanks and (2)
the judge failed to personally examine the complainant and witnesses by searching questions and answers in violation of Section 3, Rule 126 of
the Rules of Court. 6

On August 11, 1987, respondent trial court, through Judge Eugenio M. Cruz, who, by then, had replaced retired Judge Ontal, issued an Order
denying the motion for lack of merit, finding the requisites necessary for the issuance of a valid search warrant duly complied with. 7

A motion for reconsideration dated September 1, 1987 filed by petitioners was likewise denied by Judge Cruz in an order dated October 19, 1987.

Hence, this special civil action for certiorari.

Petitioners allege that the issuance of Search Warrant No. 1 was tainted with illegality and that respondent Judge should be viewed to have acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction, or committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction when he issued the Order dated
August 11, 1987, denying their motion to quash Search Warrant No, 1.

We rule for petitioners.

Section 2, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution guarantees the right to personal liberty and security of homes against unreasonable
searches and seizures. This section provides:

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

The purpose of the constitutional provision against unlawful searches and seizures is to prevent violations of private security in person and
property, and unlawful invasion of the sanctity of the home, by officers of the law acting under legislative or judicial sanction, and to give remedy
against such usurpations when attempted. 8

Thus, Sections 3 and 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court provide for the requisites for the issuance of a search warrant, to wit:

SEC. 3. Requisite for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue but upon probable cause in connection with one specific offense
to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the things to be seized.
SEC. 4. Examination of complainant; record. The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally examine in the form of searching
questions and answers, in writing and under oath the complainant and any witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and
attach to the record their sworn statements together with any affidavits submitted.

Based on the aforecited constitutional and statutory provisions, the judge must, before issuing a search warrant, determine whether there is
probable cause by examining the complainant and witnesses through searching questions and answers.

In the case of Prudente vs. Dayrit, G.R. No. 82870, December 14, 1989, 180 SCRA 69, 767 this Court defined "probable cause" as follows:

The "probable cause" for a valid search warrant, has been defined "as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and
prudent man to believe that an offense has been committed, and that objects sought in connection with the offense are in the place sought to be
searched". This probable cause must be shown to be within the personal knowledge of the complainant or the witnesses he may produce and not
based on mere hearsay.

In the case at bar, we have carefully examined the questioned search warrant as well as the "Application for Search Warrant" and "Deposition of
Witness", and found that Judge Ontal failed to comply with the legal requirement that he must examine the applicant and his witnesses in the
form of searching questions and answers in order to determine the existence of probable cause. The joint "Deposition of Witness" executed by
Pfc. Alcoran and Pat. Quindo, which was submitted together with the "Application for Search Warrant" contained, for the most part suggestive
questions answerable by merely placing "yes" or "no" in the blanks provided thereon. In fact there were only four (4) questions asked, to wit:

Q Do you personally know M/Sgt. Ranulfo Villamor, Jr. the applicant for a search warrant?

A Yes, sir.

Q Do you have personal knowledge that the said premises subject of the offense stated above, and other proceeds of fruit of the offense, used or
obtain (sic) or intended to be used as means of committing an offense?

A Yes, sir.

Q Do you know personally who is/are the person who has/have the property in his/their possession and control?

A Yes, sir.

Q How did you know all this (sic) things?

A Through discreet surveillance. 9

The above deposition did not only contain leading questions but it was also very broad. The questions propounded to the witnesses were in fact,
not probing but were merely routinary. The deposition was already mimeogragphed and all that the witnesses had to do was fill in their answers
on the blanks provided.

In the case of Nolasco vs. Pao, G.R. No. 69803, October 8, 1985, 139 SCRA 152, 163, this Court held:
The "probable cause" required to justify the issuance of a search warrant comprehends such facts and circumstances as will induce a cautious man
to rely upon them and act in pursuant thereof. Of the 8 questions asked, the 1st, 2nd and 4th pertain to identity. The 3rd and 5th are leading not
searching questions. The 6th, 7th and 8th refer to the description of the personalities to be seized, which is identical to that in the Search Warrant
and suffers from the same lack of particularity. The examination conducted was general in nature and merely repetitious of the deposition of said
witness. Mere generalization will not suffice and does not satisfy the requirements or probable cause upon which a warrant may issue.

Likewise, in the Prudente case cited earlier, this Court declared the search warrant issued as invalid due to the failure of the judge to examine the
witness in the form of searching questions and answers. Pertinent portion of the decision reads:

Moreover, a perusal of the deposition of P/Lt. Florencio Angeles shows that it was too brief and short. Respondent Judge did not examine him "in
the form of searching questions and answers". On the contrary, the questions asked were leading as they called for a simple "yes" or "no" answer.
As held in Quintero vs. NBI, "the questions propounded by respondent Executive Judge to the applicant's witness' are not sufficiently searching
to establish probable cause. Asking of leading questions to the deponent in an application for search warrant, and conducting of examination in a
general manner, would not satisfy the requirements for issuance of a valid search warrant. 10

Thus, in issuing a search warrant, the judge must strictly comply with the constitutional and statutory requirement that he must determine the
existence of probable cause by personally examining the applicant and his witnesses in the form of searching questions and answers. His failure
to comply with this requirement constitutes grave abuse of discretion. As declared in Marcelo vs. De Guzman, G.R. No. L-29077, June 29, 1982,
114 SCRA 657, "the capricious disregard by the judge in not complying with the requirements before issuance of search warrants constitutes
abuse of discretion".

The officers implementing the search warrant clearly abused their authority when they seized the money of Antonieta Silva. This is highly
irregular considering that Antonieta Silva was not even named as one of the respondents, that the warrant did not indicate the seizure of money
but only of marijuana leaves, cigarettes and joints, and that the search warrant was issued for the seizure of personal property (a) subject of the
offense and (b) used or intended to be used as means of committing an offense and NOT for personal property stolen or embezzled or other
proceeds of fruits of the offense. Thus, the then presiding Judge Ontal likewise abused his discretion when he rejected the motion of petitioner
Antonieta Silva seeking the return of her seized money.

WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. Search Warrant No. 1 is hereby declared null and void. Respondent Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Negros Oriental, Branch XXXIII is directed to order the return to petitioner Antonieta Silva of the amount of P1,231.40 which had earlier been
seized from her by virtue of the illegal search warrant. This decision is immediately executory. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-861 September 30, 1947


THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, vs. ANGEL ZAPANTA Y TUAZON,
BENGZON, J.:
At about midnight of September 15, 1945, the accused Angel Zapanta y Tuazon and one Antero
Gomez proceeded to the house of Policarpio Salazar on Francisco Street, Tondo, Manila. Gomez
removed the bamboo pole that barred the gate, and both climbed the stairs, and knocked at the
door of the dwelling. Answering a question of Policarpio's wife, one of the nocturnal visitors
falsely identifying as "Maning" requested admittance pretending that he wanted "to tell
something" to her husband. As the door was opened, the two entered, pistol in hand, and then the
accused pointing his gun at Salazar asked, "Are you Totoy Kalabaw?" (nickname of Salazar).
The next instant Salazar and the accused were grappling for the possession of the firearm. At this
moment Gomez shot Salazar to death. Thereafter both assailants hurriedly fled.
Police officers subsequently investigating the affair were handed the gun which had fallen from
the hands of the accused in the scuffle, he having forgotten to retrieve it in his flight from the
scene of the shooting.
It was later discovered, upon investigation, that two days before the fatal incident Antero Gomez,
informing the accused that he had a quarrel with Salazar, asked for assistance to kill him; and the
accused agreed to help.
Antero Gomez was not prosecuted because he died before the presentation of the information, he
having been reportedly killed in an affray with the police.
Hailed into court for murder and confronted with the evidence of the People above related, the
defendant-appellant Angel Zapanta y Tuazon attempted to prove an alibi with his lone testimony,
which the trial judge discredited, obviously because, (1) it was uncorroborated, (2) for all his
youth, the prisoner was a confirmed lawbreaker (See footnote)* and (3) because he was
positively identified by an eyewitness, the wife of the deceased, Ponciana Isidro, and her
assertions were backed by the finding of appellant's gun in the house and by the latter's
confession, Exhibits C and Q.
Appellant's counsel sensibly abstain from insisting on that defense; but in their carefully
prepared brief, they discuss several errors allegedly committed by His Honor, to wit: (a) in
holding there was conspiracy between appellant and Antero Gomez; (b) in ruling that Zapanta
was duly identified and (c) in considering the latter's confession.
In criminal cases the identification of the culprit has always has been a paramount question.
Several instances of miscarriage of justice on that score are known in judicial annals. Therefore,
judges can not be overly cautious in analyzing evidence on the point. On the other hand, where
conditions of visibility are favorable and the witness does not appear to be based against the man
on the dock, his or her assertions as to the identity of the malefactor should normally be
accepted. And this is more so where the witness is the victim or his near-relative as in this case,
because these usually strive to remember the factions of the assailants. In this expediente no
reasons exist to question the veracity of the bereaved widow, and it is admitted that a kerosene
lamp lighted the place. Hence, considering the confessions of appellant in Exhibits C and Q, he
should be deemed sufficiently identified.
It is true that, as contended by counsel, the herein accused would not be responsible for the
murder, in the absence or conspiracy between him and Gomez (who actually did the killing). But
unluckily for him, such conspiracy was established by proof that he had agreed to help Gomez
assassinate Salazar, that both at midnight repaired to the house, tricked the inmates into opening
the door, and rushed inside with drawn pistols, almost immediately eliminating the surprised
"kalabaw". There was concerted action, and the common homicidal intent was unmistakable,
from which solidary criminal responsibility arose.1
The record discloses that when in custody of the police, herein appellant made the following
admissions of guilt:
Two days before Totoy Kalabaw was shot by Antero Gomez, Antero told me that he and Totoy
Kalabaw had a quarrel. Antero told me to go with him and kill Totoy Kalabaw and I agreed.
Antero and I were both armed with .45 Cal. automatic pistols when we proceeded to the house of
Totoy Kalabaw. When we arrived at Totoy Kalabaw's house, we found the gate closed and a
bamboo bar was slung across the gate. Antero picked up the bamboo bar and placed it near the
gate. We then climbed up the stairs of the house. Antero knocked several times on the door and
after ten (10) minutes a woman opened it. Antero drew his gun when he entered the door and I
followed him. We saw Totoy Kalabaw as soon as we entered standing beside the woman who
opened the door and when I went near him, he suddenly grabbed me by the arms and tried to get
my pistol at my waist. He tried to grab for my gun and was able to wrest it away from me but at
this time Antero shot him. We then run down the house and fled, in our haste to get away I left
my .45 automatic pistol at the place where Totoy Kalabaw fell. (Exhibit C.)
I together with Antero Gomez went to the house of Totoy Kalabaw and when his wife opened
the door, I drew my pistol from my waist but before I was able to do so, Totoy Kalabaw grappled
with me and we wrestled for the possession of the pistol. I was hit then by the pistol on my right
index finger. Antero Gomez, seeing that Totoy Kalabaw had the edge on me, shot at Totoy
Kalabaw about two times as I remember. (Exhibit Q.)
Contending that the trial judge erred in considering this confession, appellant's counsel do not
assert it was obtained through violence or fraud. They merely claim that it contains
improbabilities, and should therefore be disregarded. But mere improbability should yield to
actual facts told by the accused himself. If the confession was voluntarily signed there was
evidence to that effect the appellant should not be heard to impugn the events therein
described on grounds of improbability, because he would thereby be saying: "that is my story,
but do not believe it because I lied."
The offense charged was murder. The facts proved established it, the destruction of Salazar's life
having been accomplished with evident premeditation (article 248, Revised Penal Code).
Although there are the aggravating circumstances of nighttime and dwelling, the penalty
imposable is reclusion perpetua only, in view of the dissent of some members of this Court
(article 47, Revised Penal Code.) Consequently, the judgment of the court below is affirmed, it
being in accordance with the law for such cases made and provided.
G.R. No. 90853 March 13, 1991
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, vs. RENATO ZAPANTA y CENTENO @ BEBOT,
GRIO-AQUINO, J.:
The accused, Renato Zapanta, has appealed the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Cavite,
Branch XVII, dated June 30, 1989 in Criminal Case No. 165-87 entitled. "People of the
Philippines vs. Renato Zapanta y Centeno, aliasBebot," finding him guilty of drug-pushing,
violation of Section 4, Article II of the Dangerous Drugs Act (Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended),
sentencing him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to pay a fine of P20,000 without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and costs.
The information against the accused alleged:
That on or about July 7, 1987, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without legal authority, did, then
and there, wilfully, unlawfully, feloniously, and knowingly deliver and sell to a poseur-buyer
three (3) sticks of dried Indian hemp, otherwise known as marijuana.
Contrary to law. (p. 8, Rollo.)
With the assistance of counsel de oficio, Zapanta pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charge. After trial,
the court rendered the assailed decision.
Pat. Feliciano de la Cruz testified that in July, 1987, the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence
Division of the Cavite City Police received reports of rampant selling of marijuana in the vicinity
of Tabon, Bagong Pook, prompting them to conduct a discreet surveillance of persons suspected
of selling prohibited drugs in that neighborhood (p. 20, Rollo).
On July 7, 1987 at around 4:30 p.m., the police was tipped that Zapanta was selling marijuana. A
"crack-down team" was formed, composed of Pat. Eduardo Novero, Jr. and Pat. Feliciano de la
Cruz, both investigators of the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Division, and Pat.
Facundo Baricuatro, Jr., a follow-up investigator of the Detective Bureau. They planned a buy-
bust entrapment operation with the help of an informer, Danilo Vinzon, and a runner in the
person of Romeo Boter, alias Toto Pilay, to buy marijuana cigarettes from Zapanta. Boter agreed
to cooperate and received a marked P5-bill from the informer, Danny Vinzon, with which to buy
a marijuana cigarette. They proceeded to the house of Zapanta, a one-room shanty in the San
Antonio Cemetery in Bagong Pook. Pat. De la Cruz positioned himself behind the shanty, while
Patrolmen Novero and Baricuatro stayed in front. Through one window, they could clearly see
Zapanta lying on a mat on the floor near the door. Boter went inside the hut and gave Zapanta the
marked money, whereupon the policemen pounced on them, searched Zapanta's mat, pillow and
blanket and poked into the pile of firewood stacked under the stairs. Finding one marijuana stick
under the mat, they brought Zapanta and Boter to the police station where an investigation was
conducted and Pat. Novero executed a sworn statement. The marijuana stick was submitted for
examination to the NBI. The forensic chemist confirmed that it was positive for marijuana.
Zapanta was arrested for drug pushing and was confined in the City Jail.
Boter testified during the trial that he lived only four houses away from Zapanta. He alleged that
Zapanta was selling marijuana for a living. However, he admitted on cross-examination, that
Zapanta advised him to stop smoking marijuana, and that when the policemen raided Zapanta's
hut, he (Boter) still had the marked money in his hand.
Both Patrolmen Baricuatro and De la Cruz testified on the arrest and corroborated Novero's
testimony.
The accused, Renato Zapanta, testifying in his defense, stated that on July 7, 1987, in the
afternoon, he was in his shanty, resting on the floor. He had been bed-ridden for two years, with
an acute kidney infection which has not been treated medically because of his extreme poverty.
His widowed 60-year old mother, Lourdes, who worked as a cemetery sweeper, and his widowed
sister who worked as a laundrywoman, lived in the house with him. When the policemen arrived,
they poked a gun at him and forced him to get up so they could search his mat, pillow, blanket
and other things. After the search, they brought him to the City Jail where he was confined for
two years since the time of his arrest. He denied that he was engaged in selling marijuana. The
four P10-bills and two P5-bills which the police found in his pocket had been given to him by his
sister to buy his medicine. He presented a Certification from the barangay captain, Eddie Torres,
attesting to the fact that he was a law-abiding citizen in the community. However, Torres was not
presented as a witness. Zapanta's sister corroborated him.
In this appeal, Zapanta alleges that the trial court erred:
1. in giving credit to the prosecution witnesses despite the gross inconsistencies in their
testimonies;
2. in not requiring the prosecution to place the informer Danilo Vinzon on the witness stand; and
3. in finding the accused guilty of selling or pushing marijuana despite his physical disability and
his poverty, which render him incapable of engaging in the business of trading in prohibited
drugs.
We find the appeal meritorious.
There are irreconcilable inconsistencies on material points in the testimonies of the prosecution
witnesses, which erode their credibility and weaken the case for the prosecution. The runner-
buyer, Romeo Boter, during his direct testimony, declared that the informer, Danny Vinzon, was
not with the policemen when the raid was conducted. On the other hand, Pat. De la Cruz testified
that Danny Vinzon was present during the raid (p. 6, t.s.n., October 24, 1988).
Pat. Baricuatro testified on cross-examination that Danilo Vinzon was a "friend of mine."
However, when he was asked later whether he knew Vinzon personally, he answered: "I do not
know him, sir."
The information mentioned three (3) sticks of marijuana cigarette, while Boter testified that he
bought only one (1) stick (pp. 1-24, t.s.n., November 11, 1987). Pat. De la Cruz stated that two
and a half marijuana sticks were taken from Boter (pp. 21-22, t.s.n., November 7, 1988), whereas
Boter claimed that there were five (5) sticks (p. 27, t.s.n., October 24, 1987).
Apart from the uncertainty among the witnesses as to how many marijuana cigarettes, if any,
were found in Zapanta's possession during the raid, the search in Zapanta's shack was made
without a warrant. Hence, the marijuana cigarette or cigarettes seized in that raid were
inadmissible as evidence (Nolasco vs. Pao, 147 SCRA 510; People vs. Aminnudin 163 SCRA
402).
The fact that the marijuana cigarette/s was/were not found on the person of the accused, that a
single marijuana cigarette was "confiscated" from Boter, not from Zapanta; that the marked P5
bill was not in Zapanta's possession; and that Zapanta was not selling marijuana when arrested
by the police for he was sick in bed, clearly incapacitated, physically and financially, to engage
in the drug traffic, are circumstances that engender serious doubts regarding his guilt. The
constitutional presumption of his innocence remains unshaken.
The drug menace has assumed epidemic proportions in this country.1wphi1 While we strongly
commend the efforts of law-enforcement officers who are engaged in the difficult and dangerous
task of apprehending and prosecuting drug traffickers, the Court cannot close its eyes nor be deaf
to the many reports of false arrests of innocent persons for extortion and blackmail, and, in some
instances, to satisfy some hidden personal animosity of the "informer" or law enforcer against the
accused. Courts should therefore be vigilant and alert to recognize trumped up drug charges lest
an innocent man, on the basis of planted evidence, be made to suffer the unusually severe
penalties for drug offenses (People vs. Garcia, 172 SCRA 262; People vs. Taruc, 157 SCRA
179).
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and set aside. The accused, Renato
Zapanta y Centeno, is acquitted of the crime charged, and his immediate release from custody is
hereby ordered unless he is being held to answer for another offense. Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-29129 May 8, 1975
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, vs. DOMINGO MABUYO, defendant-appellant.
MAKALINTAL, C.J.:
This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Batangas in its Criminal
Case No. 2486 finding the accused Domingo Mabuyo guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of murder, with treachery as the qualifying circumstance, and sentencing him to reclusion
perpetua, with all the accessory penalties provided by law; to indemnify the heirs of the deceased
Norberto Anillo in the sum of P6,000.00; and to pay the costs.
On June 18, 1966, at about midnight, Norberto Anillo was shot dead at the doorstep of his house
in Bo. Ambulong, Tanauan, Batangas. Immediately thereafter a police team headed by Lt. Roque
Garcia, Deputy Chief of Police of Tanauan, went to the scene of the incident and conducted an
investigation. Fifteen empty carbine shells were recovered from the premises. Agaton Anillo, the
father of the deceased, and Adelaida Mirania, the widow, when interviewed by Lt. Garcia,
declined to name the assailants but promised to go to his office after the interment to disclose to
him their identities.
Dr. Francisco M. Garcia, the Municipal Health Officer of Tanauan who performed the post
mortem examination of the deceased in the early morning of June 19, 1966, found eleven (11)
gunshot wounds on his body.
As promised, Agaton Anillo and Adelaida Mirania went to the Office of the Chief of Police of
Tanauan on June 20 and submitted themselves to a formal investigation. In their respective
statements they named Domingo Mabuyo as the triggerman and alluded to a certain Juan
Mendoza as the instigator of the crime. The following day, June 21, a complaint for murder was
filed in the Municipal Court of Tanauan against both Mendoza and Mabuyo. Upon a finding of a
probable cause, the municipal judge ordered the issuance of the corresponding warrants of arrest,
but Domingo Mabuyo was nowhere to be found.
Juan Mendoza waived his right to the second stage of the preliminary investigation and the
municipal court forwarded the record of the case to the Court of First Instance of Batangas,
where an information for murder was filed against him alone as principal by inducement. Upon a
plea of "not guilty" the accused went to trial, after which he was acquitted "on ground of
reasonable doubt" in a decision promulgated on January 7, 1967..
On March 27, 1967, Domingo Mabuyo presented himself at the Office of the Chief of Police of
Tanauan, but only to be fingerprinted since he had with him an order of release issued by the
Municipal Court. It appears that Mabuyo had previously prepared a bail bond in the sum of
P30,000.00, which was approved by the Municipal Judge. Through counsel Mabuyo waived his
right to the second stage of the preliminary investigation. Accordingly the municipal court in its
order dated March 27, 1967 elevated the case to the Court of First Instance of Batangas for
further proceedings. On April 5, 1967 the Provincial Fiscal filed the corresponding information
for murder against Mabuyo, alleging the circumstances of treachery and evident premeditation.
The case went to trial upon a "not guilty" plea. The widow of the deceased, who appeared to be
the lone eyewitness to the commission of crime, testified that at about midnight Of June 18,
1966, while she was reading in bed, she heard her husband asking her to open the door. She
stood up, and taking with her a lighted kerosene lamp, went downstairs. Suddenly there were two
successive gun shots. She heard her husband cry out "aray," followed by a sound of a falling
object. As she came near the door there were other successive shots. Undaunted, she opened the
door to see what was happening outside. With the aid of the light of the kerosene lamp, which
she was holding over her head, she saw Domingo Mabuyo firing at her prostrate husband with
what appeared to her to be a carbine. Mabuyo aimed it at her, so she immediately closed the door
and shouted for help. Shortly thereafter her father-in-law, whose house was nearby, arrived. She
told him that it was Domingo Mabuyo whom she saw shooting her husband.
Another witness for the prosecution, Aniceto Sumarraga of Bo. Ambulong, narrated that on June
16, 1966, at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening, while he was at home reading, Domingo
Mabuyo arrived with a carbine. They talked briefly inside the house. Domingo Mabuyo inquired
if he (the witness) would go with him to kill Norberto Anillo. Aniceto refused, saying that he did
not want to be involved in any such undertaking. Domingo Mabuyo then told him that if that was
his decision, then he alone would go. After his visitor had left, Aniceto went to the store of a
certain Alejandro Perez, also in Bo. Ambulong, and played mahjong. He noticed that Norberto
Anillo was also there watching the game. As he was engrossed in the game Aniceto did not warn
Norberto about Mabuyo's criminal design against him. At about midnight Anillo left the store. A
few minutes later the mahjong players heard gun reports coming from the direction of Norberto
Anillo's place. They stopped the game and went to Anillo's house and there saw the lifeless body
of Norberto Anillo lying on its face on the ground.
Testifying also for the prosecution, Agaton Anillo said that in the evening of June 18, 1966 he
was at his home. At about midnight he heard gun reports coming from the house of his son
Norberto. At first there were two shots, followed shortly by several more in rapid succession.
When he was about to go downstairs he heard the shouts of his daughter-in-law that her husband
had been fired upon. He ran to her house, where he saw his son already dead. His daughter-in-
law met him and told him that she had seen Domingo Mabuyo do the shooting.
Agaton Anillo further testified that on June 16, or two days before the fatal incident, his son told
him that there was a plot for his liquidation and that it was Domingo Mabuyo who would carry it
out; that on June 18 he (Agaton) saw Domingo passing in front of his house; and that after
Norberto was killed Domingo disappeared and went into hiding.
Domingo Mabuyo's defense was alibi. He claimed that early in the morning of June 3, 1966 he
left Bo. Ambulong, Tanauan, Batangas for Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, arriving there at about 7:00
o'clock in the evening, and did not return to Tanauan until March 27, 1967, when he surrendered
to the authorities. While away from home he worked in the logging concession of Gabaldon
Vice-Mayor Isabelo Aquino in Ibuna Estate, Dingalan, Quezon. In the evening of June 18, 1966,
the date when Norberto Anillo was killed, he was detained in the municipal jail of Gabaldon for
drunkenness and was released at about 8:00 o'clock the next morning. On March 23, 1967 he
went to Dolores, Quezon, with some members of the family of Vice-Mayor Aquino, and
attended the annual Holy Week rites of his religious sect known as "Iglesia dela Ciudad Mistica."
While there somebody informed him that he was being charged in court. At first he did not mind
the information, but when he happened to meet Atty. Juan Mendoza, who told him the same
thing, he decided to surrender to the authorities, On March 27, 1967 he and Atty. Mendoza went
to Calamba, Laguna, and asked a certain Patrolman Dionisio Samiano to accompany them to the
Tanauan Police Department. While he was at the Tanauan Police Department somebody fetched
him and took him to the office of the municipal judge, where he was asked to sign certain papers
which turned out to be his bail bond. After said bond was approved by the municipal judge he
was ordered released temporarily from the custody of the police authorities. He further claimed
that he had no motive to kill the deceased because the latter was not only his friend but also a
nephew of his wife. He added that he was Norberto's confidant even in connection with the
latter's extra-marital affairs.
Corroborating the alibi of the accused, Vice-Mayor Isabelo Aquino of Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija,
testified that on June 2, 1966 he sent Antonio Berganos to Ambulong, Tanauan, Batangas to
fetch Domingo Mabuyo; that the following day, June 3, 1966, both Antonio Berganos and
Domingo Mabuyo arrived in Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija; that from June 6, 1966 to March 22, 1967,
Domingo Mabuyo worked under him as a laborer first as a log cutter in his concession in
Dingalan, Quezon and then as a rattan gatherer; that Domingo Mabuyo stopped working on
March 22, 1967 because he went to Dolores, Quezon, to attend a religious ceremony of his sect;
and that the distance from Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija to Tanauan, Batangas could be negotiated by
means of a bus in about ten (10) hours. In the course of his testimony Aquino identified a time
book he was keeping, wherein it was shown that Domingo Mabuyo rendered services as one of
his laborers from June 1966 to November l966. Also identified by him were the payrolls from
April 1966 to November 1966, showing the amounts paid to Domingo Mabuyo from June 1966
to November 1966, and his signatures as payee.
Gabaldon Police Chief Francisco Gamit testified on the entries in the police blotter of his
department, showing that Domingo Mabuyo was detained for drunkenness in the municipal jail
on June 18, 1966 at 9:00 o'clock in the evening and released at 8:00 o'clock the next morning.
Another corroborating witness, Atty. Juan Mendoza, testified that in the first week of June 1966
Domingo Mabuyo was fetched from barrio Ambulong by Antonio Berganos, one of the laborers
of Vice-Mayor Aquino, to work in the logging concession of the latter in Dingalan, Quezon; that
from the time of Domingo Mabuyo's departure, it was only on March 23, 1967, in Dolores,
Quezon, that they met again; that upon meeting Domingo Mabuyo, he informed the latter that he
was facing a court charge for having allegedly killed Norberto Anillo and advised him to
surrender immediately after the festivities of their sect; that early in the morning of March 27,
1967 he and Mabuyo went to Calamba, Laguna and asked Patrolman Samio of the Calamba
Police to accompany them to the Tanauan Police Department; and that from the time, they met
each other in Dolores, he had Domingo Mabuyo under his surveillance until he surrendered on
March 27, 1967..
Upon the evidence presented the trial court rendered its judgment of conviction as aforestated;
hence, this appeal.
The appellant alleges that the trial court erred in convicting him of a crime not properly charged
in the information since he was charged with murder allegedly committed in Bo. Bagumbayan,
Tanauan, Batangas, but was found guilty of said crime committed in Bo. Ambulong, some 12
kilometers away in the same municipality and province. The alleged irregularity does not
constitute a reversible error. It is a settled rule that unless the particular place of commission is
an essential element of the offense charged, conviction may be had even if it appears that the
crime was committed not at the place alleged in the information, provided the place of actual
commission was within the jurisdiction of the court.1 In the instant case the place of commission
does not constitute an essential element of the offense charged and the evidence discloses that
said offense was in fact committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court. Moreover,
there is no reason to believe that the appellant was misled or surprised by the variance between
the proof and the allegation in the information as to the place where the offense was committed.
With respect to the appellant's claim that he was denied the right to preliminary investigation,
We find the same to be without factual basis, it appearing from the order dated March 27, 1967
of the Municipal Court of Tanauan that he "had renounced his right to the second stage of the
preliminary investigation." Furthermore, the record does not show that he raised the question of
lack of preliminary investigation at any stage of the trial in the court of first instance. It is well-
settled that the right to a preliminary investigation is not a fundamental right and may be waived
expressly or by silence.2
We now take up the merits of the case. In asking for his acquittal the appellant vigorously assails
the credibility of the prosecution witnesses, particularly the widow who identified him as the
murderer of her husband. He urges that since the testimonies of said witnesses as regards the
guilt of Juan Mendoza were not given credence, the same should likewise be rejected in his case
in order to be consistent. We cannot sustain the appellant. It is to be noted that in Criminal Case
No. 2388 Juan Mendoza was prosecuted on the theory that he directly induced the herein
appellant, who was then at large during the pendency of said case, to kill Norberto Anillo. In the
case under review, the appellant himself was charged as the sole author of the crime after the
acquittal of his supposed inducer. Under the foregoing factual setting, the trial, court aptly
observed that the incredibility of the witnesses for the prosecution against Juan Mendoza as
principal by inducement did not necessarily mean that said witnesses were also incredible when
they testified against the very person who allegedly shot to death the victim. In fact, it found that
the testimonies of prosecution witnesses Adelaida Mirania, Agaton Anillo and Aniceto
Sumarraga against the appellant "were in accord to what they disclosed in their written
statements executed less than two days after the commission of the imputed crime," but such was
not the case when they testified against Juan Mendoza. In People vs. Malillos,3this Court had
occasion to state that:
It is perfectly reasonable to believe the testimony of a witness with respect to some facts and
disbelieve it with respect to other facts. And it has been aptly said that even when witnesses are
found to have deliberately falsified in sonic material particulars, it is not required that the whole
of their uncorroborated testimony be rejected, but such portions thereof deemed worthy of belief
may be credited. Suffice it to say, in this connection, that a trial court by reason of its proximate
contact with witnesses, are in a more competent position to discriminate between the true and the
false, and We really find no cogent reason to disturb the above-quoted conclusion of the court
below in the decision appealed from.
Adelaida Mirania could not possibly have been mistaken as to the identity of the appellant. She
knew him very well, he being from the same barrio where his house was not far away from hers.
At the time of the incident she was carrying a lighted kerosene lamp. Although the lamp was not
presented in evidence it was adequately described as a bottle of beer with the wick held in place
at its mouth by means of a tin plate. It is a common enough source of illumination in our barrios.
Undoubtedly it was sufficient to light an area within a radius of five meters.
While it is true that Adelaida Mirania did not report immediately to the Deputy Chief of Police
the identity of the assailant, it is to be noted that she promised to identify him after her husband
was interred, which she readily did by going to the police department where she executed a
sworn statement.
In a further attempt to discredit the identification made by Adelaida Mirania, the appellant insists
that she could not have possibly seen the assailant because, as testified to by Mateo Simbahan,
she was not at home at the time of the incident but in the house of her father-in-law, watching a
game of "bingo." However, the testimony of said witness contains flaws which render it
unworthy of belief. He went to Agaton Anillo's house, he said, in order to ask the latter to help
him find a job. Yet he did not talk to Agaton Anillo immediately upon his arrival but waited until
midnight on the lame excuse that he got interested watching the bingo game. Furthermore,
considering that Adelaida Mirania had nine (9) children and was then again pregnant, it is hardly
believable that she would leave her house just to watch the bingo game, remaining on her feet
until midnight.
The appellant also insists that the widow pointed to him as the assailant because she was angry
with him because he refused to stop helping her late husband in his extra-marital affairs. We find
this motive insufficient for her to accuse him falsely of so grave a crime as murder. Besides, it is
unthinkable that she would fabricate evidence to send an innocent man to jail and let the real
murderer of her husband go free.
The appellant having been clearly and positively identified by the widow, his alibi cannot be
sustained. Moreover, after examining the evidence in support of his defense We find that his
alibi has the aspect of fabrication. Firstly, the police blotter of Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, was not
properly accomplished. While the Chief of Police testified that the appellant was brought to the
municipal jail by his two policemen at about two o'clock in the afternoon of June 18, 1966, it
appears in the blotter that the appellant was detained at 9:00 o'clock in the evening. Also, while
the appellant was supposedly released on June 19, 1966 at 8:00 o'clock in the morning, the
release was entered on the page for June 18, 1966. It is a fair conclusion that the fact of release
was entered on said page because it could no longer be accommodated on the page for June 19,
1966, there being already legitimate entries thereon and the blank spaces having been crossed
out. The Chief of Police was even surprised why the questioned entry appeared as it did.
Secondly, as correctly observed by the trial court, from all appearances the payrolls from April
1966 to November 1966 were all prepared at the same time. Thirdly, the protestation of the
appellant that he never knew that he was being implicated in the killing of Norberto Anillo or
that he was being charged in court therefor until he was so informed by Juan Mendoza on March
23, 1967 is belied by the fact that even before that date he had already taken steps to prepare his
bail bond. It appears from the record that his bondsmen secured the necessary papers in
connection with their respective properties to be offered as security on February 28, 1967 and
that the bail bond itself was prepared on March 4, 1967. Lastly, if it were true that he was
working from June 1966 to March 1967 under Gabaldon Vice-Mayor Aquino and not hiding
from the authorities as alleged by the prosecution, he would at least have returned home to visit
his family during that long period. He never did, not even on Christmas day, which is
traditionally a day for family reunion. If anything, his long absence from his barrio supports the
theory of the prosecution that his flight immediately after the commission of the crime was not
for any innocent reason.
The trial court correctly appreciated the qualifying circumstance of treachery against the
appellant. The attack was sudden: the victim was knocking at the door and asking his wife to
open it when he was shot. Although he was apparently aware of the plot to liquidate him, the
circumstances, including the use by the appellant of a high power firearm, rendered the victim
defenseless. The mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender cannot be considered in favor of
the appellant. The fact that it took him almost nine months after the issuance of the warrant of
arrest against him before he presented himself to the police authorities negates the spontaneity of
his surrender.
The crime committed was murder, and there being neither mitigating nor aggravating
circumstance, the appellant was correctly sentenced to reclusion perpetua.
WHEREFORE, with the only modification that the indemnity payable to the heirs of the
deceased Norberto Anillo is increased from P6,000.00 to P12,000,00, the decision appealed from
is affirmed with costs.