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PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ANTONIO L.

SANCHEZ, ARTEMIO AVERION, LANDRITO "DING" PERADILLAS and


LUIS CORCOLON, accused.
***
ANTONIO L. SANCHEZ and ARTEMIO AVERION, accused-appellants.
G.R. No. 131116 | 1999-08-27
DECISION

PARDO, J.:

What is before this Court is an appeal from the decision of Regional Trial
Court, Branch 160, Pasig City,1 [In Crim. Case No. 107789-H, presided over
by Judge Mariano M. Umali, rendered on December 27, 1996, Rollo, pp. 37-
66.] finding accused Antonio L. Sanchez, Luis Corcolon y Fadialan, Landrito
"Ding" Peradillas and Artemio Averion guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
murder committed against Nelson Pealosa and Rickson Pealosa, and
sentencing each of the accused, as follows:

"WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the Court finds the accused Antonio


Sanchez, Landrito "Ding" Peradillas, Luis Corcolon, and Artemio Averion
GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER punishable under
ART. 48 of the Revised Penal Code and hereby sentences each of said
accused to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay jointly and
severally, the heirs of the victims each the sum of P100,000.00 for the death
of Nelson Pealosa and Rickson Pealosa, P50,000.00 as actual damages and
moral damages of P 50,000.00 and exemplary damages of P30,000.00 and to
pay the costs."

"SO ORDERED.

"City of Pasig.

"December 27, 1996.

"(s/t) MARIANO M. UMALI

"Judge"2

[Original Record, pp. 488-517.]

On March 1, 1994, Senior State Prosecutor Hernani T. Barrios filed with the
Regional Trial Court, Calamba, Laguna, an information for double murder
against accused Antonio L. Sanchez, Luis Corcolon y Fadialan, Landrito
"Ding" Peradillas and Artemio Averion, the accusatory portion of which reads:
"That on or about April 13, 1991, at about 7:45 p.m. more or less, in
Barangay Curba, Municipality of Calauan, Province of Laguna, and within the
jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring,
confederating, and mutually aiding one another, with treachery and evident
premeditation, and with the use of a motor vehicle, at night time, all the
accused then being armed and committed in consideration of a price, reward
or promise and of superior strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully,
and feloniously shoot with the use of automatic weapons inflicting multiple
gunshot wounds upon Nelson Pealosa and Rickson Pealosa which caused
their instantaneous deaths to the damage and prejudice of their heirs and
relatives.

"CONTRARY TO LAW."3 [Original Record, p. 1.]

On March 16, 1994, the case was raffled to Branch 34, Regional Trial Court,
Calamba, Laguna.4 [Presided over by Judge Francisco M. Guerrero. On March
28, 1994, the prosecution filed a request for change of venue with the
Supreme Court. On May 16, 1994, accused filed with the Executive Judge,
Calamba, Laguna, a petition for re-raffle, in view of the impending retirement
of Judge Guerrero. The case was raffled to the sala of Judge Norberto Y.
Geraldez, Branch 6, Calamba, Laguna. On February 28, 1995, the Supreme
Court granted the request for change of venue and transferred the case to
Regional Trial Court, Branch 70, Pasig City, presided over by Judge Harriet O.
Demetriou. On March 14, 1995, Judge Demetriou voluntarily inhibited herself
from trying the case. The case eventually was raffled to Branch 160, Pasig
City, presided over by Judge Mariano M. Umali.] On March 17, 1994, the court
ordered the arrest of accused Antonio L. Sanchez, Luis Corcolon and Ding
Peradillas. On the same date, Artemio Averion voluntarily surrendered to the
court, which ordered Averion's transfer to the provincial jail, Sta. Cruz,
Laguna.5 [Original Record, p. 148.]

Thereafter, the trial court committed the accused to the custody of proper
authorities.6 [Antonio Sanchez and Luis Corcolon were placed under the
custody of PNP Custodial Group, Camp Crame, Quezon City; Artemio Averion
was placed under the custody of the Provincial Warden, Provincial Jail, Sta.
Cruz, Laguna; Ding Peradillas was placed under the custody of P/Sr. Supt.
Panfilo M. Lacson, PACC Task Force, Habagat Headquarters, Camp Crame,
Quezon City. Ibid., pp. 155, 156, 162.]

Upon arraignment on April 10, 1995, all the accused pleaded not guilty.7
[Ibid., pp. 196-199.] The trial of the case thereby ensued. On December 27,
1996, the trial court convicted all the accused of the complex crime of
double murder, as charged, the dispositive portion of which is set out in the
opening paragraph of this opinion.
On February 27, 1997, all the accused, except Ding Peradillas, were present
for the promulgation of the decision. Peradillas was a member of the
Philippine National Police and was under the custody of his superiors. The
trial court ordered his custodian to explain accused's non-appearance. On
March 14, 1997, P/C Supt. Roberto L. Calinisan, Chief, PNP-PACC Task Force
Habagat, denied any knowledge of the murder case against Peradillas.
Hence, Peradillas was not suspended from the service pending trial.
However, at the time that Peradillas was to be presented to the court for the
promulgation of the decision, he had disappeared and could not be located
by his custodian.8 [Original Record, pp. 530-531.] The promulgation of the
decision as to him was in absentia. Peradillas and Corcolon did not appeal
from the decision.

Accused Antonio L. Sanchez and Artemio Averion filed their respective


appeals to this Court.

The facts are as follows:

On April 13, 1991, at around 10:00 in the morning, state witness Vivencio
Malabanan, team leader of a group of policemen, went to the Bishop
Compound in Calauan, Laguna, as part of the security force of mayor Antonio
L. Sanchez. After a while, accused Ding Peradillas arrived and asked for
mayor Sanchez. Peradillas informed mayor Sanchez that there would be a
birthday party that night at Dr. Virvilio Velecina's house in Lanot, Calauan,
Laguna, near the abode of Peradillas. Peradillas assured mayor Sanchez of
Nelson Pealosa's presence thereat. Dr. Velecina was a political opponent of
mayor Sanchez for the mayoralty seat of Calauan, Laguna. Mayor Sanchez
then replied, "Bahala na kayo mga anak. Ayusin lang ninyo ang trabaho," and
left the premises. Peradillas immediately called Corcolon and Averion and
relayed the message - "Ayos na ang paguusap at humanap na lang ng
sasakyan." All the accused, including Malabanan, understood it as an order
to kill Nelson Pealosa, one of the political leaders of Dr. Velecina.9 [TSN,
June 20, 1995, pp. 8-12, 39-41, 62, 65.]

Afterwards, Peradillas, Corcolon and Averion made arrangements to acquire


two-way radios and a vehicle for the operation. At around 2:30 in the
afternoon, Malabanan and the three accused went their separate ways and
agreed to meet at mayor Sanchez' house at 6:00 in the evening. Malabanan
returned to his detachment area at Dayap, proceeded to the municipal hall,
then went home where Peradillas fetched him at 6:00 p.m. They proceeded
to mayor Sanchez' house where they met Averion and Corcolon, with the car
and two-way radios.10 [Ibid., pp. 13-14, 41-46.]

At around 7:00 in the evening, Malabanan and the three accused boarded
the car and went to Marpori Poultry Farm in Barangay Lanot, near Dr.
Velecina's house. Peradillas alighted and walked towards his own house, near
Dr. Velecina's house, to check whether Nelson Pealosa was at the party.

Thereafter, using the two-way radio, Peradillas informed the occupants of the
car that Nelson Pealosa's jeep was leaving the Velecina compound. Accused
Averion immediately drove the car to the front of Peradillas' house and the
latter hopped in the car's back seat. Corcolon sat in the front seat beside
him; witness Malabanan sat at the left side of the backseat and Peradillas
stayed at the right side of the back seat. The group pursued Pealosa's jeep.
When the accused's car was passing Victoria Farms, located about 100
meters from Pealosa compound, Corcolon ordered Averion to overtake
Pealosa's jeep. As the car overtook the jeep, Peradillas and Corcolon fired at
Pealosa's jeep, using M-16 and baby armalite rifles, executed in automatic
firing mode. There were three bursts of gunfire. Based on the sketch
prepared by Malabanan, illustrating the relative position of their car and
Nelson's jeep at the time of the shooting, the assailants were at the left side
of the jeep.11 [Ibid., pp. 17-20, 29-35.]

Rickson Pealosa, son of Nelson Pealosa, fell from the jeep. The jeep,
however, continued running in a zigzag position until it overturned in front of
Irais Farm. After the shooting, the accused proceeded to the house of mayor
Sanchez in Bai, Laguna, and reported to mayor Sanchez that Pealosa was
already dead.12 [Ibid., pp. 21-23.]

Together with his superior SPO4 Lanorio and photographer Romeo Alcantara,
policeman Daniel Escares went to the crime scene. There, he saw the body of
Nelson Pealosa slumped at the driver seat of the owner-type jeep. They
recovered the body of Rickson Pealosa slumped on a grassy place not far
from where they found Nelson Pealosa. After all the evidence and
photographs were taken, they brought the cadavers to Funeraria Seerez.
Daniel Escares submitted his investigation report of the incident to the
Provincial Director, Laguna PNP Command.13 [Exhibit AA.]

Dr. Ruben B. Escueta, Rural Health Physician, Rural Health Unit, Calauan,
Laguna, conducted an autopsy on the bodies of Nelson and Rickson
Pealosa. Nelson Pealosa suffered massive intra-cranial hemorrhage and
died of cranial injury due to gunshot wounds. Rickson Pealosa died of
massive intra thoracic hemorrhage due to gunshot wounds.14 [Exhibit B, p. 5
and Exhibit H, pp.13-14.] Dr. Escueta, as a defense witness, testified that
based on the points of entrance and exit of the wounds sustained by the
Pealosas, it was not possible for the assailants to be at the left side of the
victims.15 [TSN, March 18, 1996, pp. 4-95.] It contradicted Malabanan's
testimony that they were at the left side of the victims when the shooting
took place. He further stated that based on the wounds inflicted on the
victims, the assailants were either in a sitting or squatting position when
they shot the victims. Some of the wounds indicated an upward trajectory of
the bullets.

On September 15, 1993, Janet P. Cortez, PNP ballistician, completed the


ballistic tests conducted on the twelve (12) empty shells found at the crime
scene and the M-16 baby armalite surrendered by Corcolon.16 [Exhibit Q.]
She concluded that the 12 empty shells were fired using three (3) different
firearms, one of which was the M-16 baby armalite.17 [TSN, May 23, 1995,
pp. 5-140.]

On August 18, 1995, Adelina Pealosa, common law wife of Nelson Pealosa
and mother of Rickson, testified that the whole family was in mourning and
could not eat after what happened.18 [TSN, August 18, 1995, p. 21.] She
testified that the family incurred P250,000.00 for funeral expenses, but failed
to present the appropriate receipts. She also stated that Nelson Pealosa
was earning one (1) million pesos per annum from his businesses. However,
no income tax return or other proofs were shown to substantiate the
statement.19 [TSN, August 18, 1995, pp. 17-20.]

The accused interposed the defense of alibi and denial.

Luis Corcolon stated that he spent the whole day of April 13, 1991, until 8:30
in the evening, supervising the poultry farm of his employers, Edgardo
Tanchico and Orlando Dizon. He denied that he was in the company of
Averion and Peradillas that day, and that he participated in the Pealosa
killings. He denied that he was ever assigned as a security guard of mayor
Sanchez. He claimed that the murder charges were concocted against them
for his refusal to testify against mayor Sanchez in the Gomez-Sarmenta case.
He alleged that he was maltreated, tortured, electrocuted and forced to
implicate mayor Sanchez in the Gomez-Sarmenta rape-slayings. He denied
that he owned the M-16 baby armalite used in killing the Pealosas.20 [TSN,
October 24, 1995, pp. 11-60.]

Detention prisoner George Medialdea corroborated Corcolon's statement that


they were implicated in the Pealosa killing for their refusal to testify against
mayor Sanchez. He claimed that Malabanan confessed to him that the latter
had killed the Pealosas, but with the aid of CAFGU men and not herein
accused. He averred that Corcolon and Averion were wrongfully implicated in
the murder charges in deference to the wishes of the investigators.21 [TSN,
October 27, 1995, pp. 4-51.] Zoilo Ama, another detention prisoner, claimed
that Malabanan confessed that he killed the Pealosas, but did not mention
the involvement of Corcolon, Averion and mayor Sanchez.22 [TSN, November
14, 1995, pp. 5-27.]

Accused Artemio Averion, a godson of mayor Sanchez, denied that he was


involved in the Pealosa slayings. On April 13, 1991, he claimed that he was
in Lucena City, attending to his ailing father. He stayed there until April 15,
1991. He maintained that he was wrongfully implicated in the Pealosa
killings for his refusal to testify against mayor Sanchez regarding the Gomez-
Sarmenta rape-slayings. Malabanan asked for his forgiveness for falsely
incriminating them in the Pealosa case.23 [Ibid., pp. 28-54.]

Jesus Versoza, PNP Officer, Camp Crame, denied the allegations of Medialdea
and Averion that they were tortured and forced to testify against mayor
Sanchez.24 [TSN, September 17, 1996, pp. 4-50.]

Accused mayor Antonio L. Sanchez stated that on April 12, 1991, he went to
Anilao, Batangas, with his family. Around 1:00 in the afternoon of April 13,
1991, his family went to Tagaytay City and stayed overnight at Taal Vista
Lodge. Around 10:00 in the morning of April 14, 1991, they went home to
Calauan, Laguna. After reaching his abode in Calauan around 12:00 noon,
mayor Sanchez learned of the ambush-slayings of the Pealosas. He
immediately ordered an investigation of the case. He denied any
involvement in the killing of the victims.25 [TSN, March 18, 1991, pp. 98-
117.]

The trial court ruled that the prosecution's evidence clearly and convincingly
established the participation of the four (4) accused in killing the Pealosas.
Malabanan gave a sincere, frank and trustworthy account of the
circumstances surrounding the killing. Furthermore, the trial court explained
the discrepancies between Malabanan's recollection of how the victims were
shot and Dr. Escuesta's conclusion on what transpired based on the injuries
sustained by the victims.

The trial court stated that the doctor's conclusion was based on the
assumption that the victims were in a sitting position inside the jeep.
However, it was possible that after the first burst of gunfire, the victims were
hit and fell. During the second burst of gunfire, the victims were lying down
or in a crouching position. Thus, the entry-exit points of the bullets did not
entirely correspond to Malabanan's account, which was based on the
assumption that the victims did not change their positions during the
shooting incident.

The trial court ruled that the accused conspired in committing the crime.
Treachery was present, thereby qualifying the crime to murder. It appreciated
the aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation, nighttime and use
of motor vehicle.

The trial court considered the crime as a complex crime of double murder
punishable under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code. However, at the time
of the commission of the offense on April 13, 1991, there was a constitutional
proscription on the imposition of the death penalty. Thus, each of the
accused was sentenced to reclusion perpetua, and to pay damages to the
heirs of the victims, as earlier quoted.

Accused mayor Antonio L. Sanchez and Artemio Averion jointly appealed


from the decision to the Supreme Court.

In their sole assignment of error, accused mayor Sanchez and Averion


contended that the trial court failed to recognize the material inconsistencies
between Malabanan's testimony and the physical and scientific evidence
presented before it. They pointed out the following inconsistencies, to wit:

1. Malabanan testified that a) when they fired at the victims, they were
about the same elevation;26 [TSN, June 20, 1995, pp. 21, 73.] b) they used
two (2) guns in killing the vicitms;27 [Ibid., pp. 71, 76.] c) they were at the
left side of the victims when the shooting incident occurred.28 [Ibid., Exhibit
U, pp. 48-50.] However, Dr. Escueta's autopsy report revealed that: 1) the
assailants were at a lower elevation; 2) three (3) kinds of guns were used;
and 3) based on the injuries, assailants were on the right side of the victims.

2. Malabanan's affidavit "Exhibit V" made on August 16, 1993, and sworn to
on August 17, 1993, bears two (2) signatures of the affiant Malabanan and
dated September 15, 1993. However, during cross-examination, Malabanan
stated that he executed and signed the affidavit on one occasion only,
August 15, 1993.

3. Aurelio Centeno testified in the case of Gomez-Sarmenta slayings that


Malabanan only responded to the report that Pealosa had been killed. He
averred that contrary to Malabanan's report, the latter was not at the crime
scene.

The two accused further averred that the material inconsistencies between
Malabanan's testimony and the autopsy and laboratory findings and
conclusions seriously affect his credibility. They stressed that Malabanan has
sufficient motive to implicate mayor Sanchez and Corcolon in the Pealosa
killings due to threats of mayor Sanchez. They alleged that although
generally alibi is considered a weak defense, there are times when it is
worthy of credence, such as in this case.

The Solicitor General supports the trial court's ruling that the prosecution
adequately established the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Malabanan positively identified the accused as the perpetrators. He testified
in a categorical, straightforward, spontaneous and frank manner. The
defense failed to satisfactorily show that Malabanan had an ill motive to
testify falsely against the accused. The alleged threat to Malabanan's life was
not adequately established or sufficient for him to falsely implicate the
accused. As regards the supposed inconsistencies between Malabanan's
account of the event vis vis the autopsy and ballistic reports, the Solicitor
General pointed out that both vehicles were running at the time of the
ambush. It was a matter of instinct for the victims to shift positions as they
were fired upon. Thus, contrary to Dr. Escueta's conclusion, it was not
impossible that the victims were hit from the right side of their bodies, even
if assailants were physically situated at the victims' left side. Hence, the
apparent inconsistencies do not affect witness Malabanan's credibility.

After a careful scrutiny of the evidence on record, we agree with the trial
court that the prosecution adequately established accused's guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.

Malabanan gave a detailed account of the planning, preparation and the


shooting incident. He narrated the participation of each of the accused, to
wit: (1) the order given by mayor Sanchez to execute Pealosa; (2) Averion's
acquisition of a vehicle and two-way radios to be used for the operation and
in driving the car; (3) Peradillas' act of relaying the information that Nelson
Pealosa's jeep was leaving the Velecina compound; 4) the way they pursued
the victims; and 5) Corcolon and Peradillas' act of firing and killing the
Pealosas.

The accused concentrated mainly on the seeming contradiction between the


narration of Malabanan on how the victims were shot, and the physician's
report on the location of injuries sustained by them.

However, as the Solicitor General stated, both vehicles were running at the
time of the shootout. It was unlikely that the victims drove in a straight line
parallel to that of the assailants. In fact, Malabanan testified that while being
fired at, Pealosa's jeepney was running in zigzag manner.29 [TSN, June 20,
1995, p. 73.] It was a natural reaction for Pealosa to evade the assailants as
much as possible and to try to dodge the bullets. Furthermore, the assailants
fired the guns in automatic firing mode. Thus, the bullets burst out in
different directions simultaneously. Hence, it was not impossible for the
victims to be hit in different parts of the body.

"This Court has held time and again that any minor lapses in the testimony
of a witness tend to buttress, rather than weaken, his or her credibility, since
they show that he or she was neither coached nor were his or her answers
contrived. Witnesses are not expected to remember every single detail of an
incident with perfect or total recall."30 [People v. Henry Benito, G.R. No.
128072, February 19, 1999.]

Furthermore, the fact that the trial court relied on the testimony of a single
witness does not affect the verdict of conviction. Criminals are convicted, not
on the number of witnesses against them, but on the credibility of the
testimony of even one witness, who is able to convince the court of the guilt
of the accused beyond a shadow of doubt.31 [Bautista v. Court of Appeals,
288 SCRA 171, 178 (1998)] What witness can be more credible than
someone who was in the planning, preparation and execution of the crime.

The inconsistency between the affidavit and testimony of Malabanan is too


minor to affect his credibility. At any rate, we have held that affidavits are
generally subordinate in importance to open court declarations. Affidavits are
not complete reproductions of what the declarant has in mind because they
are generally prepared by the administering officer and the affiant simply
signs them after the same have been read to him.32 [People v. Lusa, 288
SCRA 296, 302-303 (1998)]

Accused-appellants raised that Malabanan's delay in reporting the


involvement of the accused in the crime casts doubt on his credibility.
However, jurisprudence teaches us that delay in revealing the identity of the
perpetrators of a crime does not necessarily impair the credibility of a
witness, especially where such witness gives a sufficient explanation for the
delay.33 [People v. Pallorca, 288 SCRA 151, 164-165 (1998)] It was natural
for Malabanan to keep silent during that time for, aside from being a co-
conspirator, mayor Sanchez was a powerful opponent.

Consequently, we find that accused-appellants' defenses of alibi and denial


are bereft of merit. The defenses of alibi and denial are worthless in the face
of positive testimony of a witness showing the involvement of each of the
accused.

However, we disagree with the trial court that the accused committed a
single complex crime of double murder. Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code
provides that when a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave
felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means of committing the other,
the penalty for the more serious crime in its maximum period shall be
imposed.

The question is whether the act of shooting the victims using armalites in
automatic firing mode constitutes a single act and, thus, the felonies
resulting therefrom are considered as complex crimes. We rule in the
negative.

In People v. Vargas, Jr., we ruled that "several shots from a Thompson sub-
machine, in view of its special mechanism causing several deaths, although
caused by a single act of pressing the trigger, are considered several acts.
Although each burst of shots was caused by one single act of pressing the
trigger of the sub-machinegun, in view of its special mechanism the person
firing it has only to keep pressing the trigger of the sub-machinegun, with his
finger and it would fire continually. Hence, it is not the act of pressing the
trigger which should be considered as producing the several felonies, but the
number of bullets which actually produced them."34 [184 SCRA 254, 263
(1990), citing L. B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, pp. 559-560, Book I, 1971
Revised Ed.] In the instant case, Malabanan testified that he heard three
bursts of gunfire from the two armalites used by accused Corcolon and
Peradillas. Thus, the accused are criminally liable for as many offenses
resulting from pressing the trigger of the armalites. Therefore, accused are
liable for two counts of murder committed against the victims, Nelson and
Rickson Pealosa, instead of the complex crime of double murder.

Evidently, treachery was present in the execution of the crimes. The attack
against the victims, who were unarmed, was sudden, catching them unaware
and giving them no opportunity to defend themselves.35 [People v.
Silveriano Botona, G.R. No. 115693, March 17, 1999.] The presence of
treachery qualifies the crimes to murder.

Conspiracy is likewise adequately established. Notwithstanding the fact that


mayor Sanchez was not at the crime scene, we are convinced that he was
not only a co-conspirator, he was the mastermind of the ambush slayings or
the principal by inducement.36 [Cf. People v. Tabag, 268 SCRA 115 (1997)]
Malabanan testified that Nelson Pealosa was killed upon order of mayor
Sanchez. After the commission of the crime, the assailants reported to mayor
Sanchez. In conspiracy, it is not necessary to show that all the conspirators
actually hit and killed the victim. What is important is that the participants
performed specific acts with such closeness and coordination as
unmistakably to indicate a common purpose or design in bringing about the
death of the victim. Conspiracy renders appellants liable as co-principals
regardless of the extent and character of their participation because in
contemplation of law, the act of one conspirator is the act of all.37 [People v.
Cara, 283 SCRA 96, 107 (1997)]

The trial court properly appreciated the existence of evident premeditation.


The prosecution clearly showed the presence of the following requisites: a)
the time when the accused determined to commit the crime; b) an act
manifestly indicating that the accused had clung to their determination; and
c) sufficient lapse of time between such determination and execution to allow
them to reflect upon the consequences of their acts.38 [People v. Romulo
Gutierrez, Jr., G. R. No. 116281, February 8, 1999.] As early as 10:00 in the
morning, the accused had conspired to kill Nelson Pealosa. They even
looked for two-way radios and a vehicle to be used for the operation. Indeed,
sufficient time had lapsed to allow the accused to reflect upon the
consequences of their actions.

Accused specifically used a motor vehicle to execute the crime. Thus, the
aggravating circumstance of use of a motor vehicle must be appreciated.
However, we cannot appreciate the generic aggravating circumstance of
nighttime; while the crime was committed at night, the prosecution failed to
show that the malefactors specifically sought this circumstance to facilitate
the criminal design.39 [People v. Oliano, 287 SCRA 158, 178 (1998)] The fact
that the crime happened at 7:00 in the evening does not indicate that
accused made use of the darkness to conceal the crime and their identities.

At the time of the commission of the crime on April 13, 1991, the penalty for
murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code was reclusion temporal
in its maximum period to death. Considering the presence of aggravating
circumstances, the accused should be sentenced to the death penalty for
each murder. However, in view of the constitutional proscription of the death
penalty at that time, each of the accused is sentenced to two (2) penalties of
reclusion perpetua.

Regarding the civil liability of the accused, the trial court ordered the
accused to pay the heirs of Nelson and Rickson Pealosa each, the sum of
P100,000.00, P50,000.00 as actual damages, P50,000.00 as moral damages,
and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages, and to pay the costs.

The P50,000.00 award as actual damages should be deemed as indemnity


for the untimely demise of the victims. We have held that only expenses
supported by receipts and which appear to have been actually expended in
connection with the death of the victims may be allowed.40 [People v. Cesar
Sanchez, G.R. 118423, June 16, 1999.] No proof was presented to sustain the
award of actual damages.

Similarly, we can not award damages for loss of earning capacity. All that
was presented in evidence was the testimony of the common law wife,
Adelina Pealosa, that Nelson earned P1,000,000.00 a year. We have held
that "for lost income due to death, there must be unbiased proof of the
deceased's average income. Self-serving, hence unreliable statement, is not
enough."41 [People v. Mario Villanueva, G.R. No. 122746, January 29, 1999.]

Considering the attendance of aggravating circumstances, we sustain the


award of exemplary damages of P30,000.00, per victim, in accordance with
Article 2230 of the Civil Code.42 [People vs. Alfonso Badon, G.R. No. 126143,
June 10, 1999.]

As regards moral damages, we affirm the P50,000.00 awarded to the heirs of


Rickson Pealosa. 43 [People v. Mariano Verde, G.R. No. 119077, February
10, 1999.] His mother, Adelina Pealosa, testified to the suffering caused by
his death.44 [TSN, August 18, 1995, p. 21.] We also sustain the award of
moral damages to the heirs of Nelson Pealosa. His common law wife
testified to the mental anguish suffered by the family due to Nelson's
death.45 [Ibid.] Under Article 2206 of the Civil Code, the spouse, legitimate
and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand
moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased.
However, the common law wife is not entitled to share in the award of moral
damages.

WHEREFORE, the Court MODIFIES the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 160, Pasig City, and finds accused-appellants Antonio L. Sanchez and
Artemio Averion guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts of murder,
and sentences each of them to suffer two (2) penalties of reclusion perpetua,
and each to pay jointly and severally the respective heirs of victims Nelson
and Rickson Pealosa, as follows:

1) Indemnity for death -.........P 50,000.00

2) Moral damages -...........50,000.00

3) Exemplary damages -...........30,000.00

Total -.........P130,000.00

With costs.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Puno, Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

CONSUELO E. MALLARI, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES


and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
G.R. No. L-58886 | 1988-12-13

DECISION

FERNAN, J.:

Section 22, Article IV of the 1973 Constitution, reiterated as Section 21,


Article III in the 1987 Constitution, provides that "(n)o person shall be twice
put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense." This is the
constitutional provision relied upon by petitioner Consuelo E. Mallari in
challenging the decision dated December 10, 1979 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. No. 19849-CR, entitled "People of the Philippines versus Consuelo
Mallari," as well as the resolution of November 5, 1981 denying her motion
for reconsideration. Petitioner attains her objective.
The antecedents are as follows:

Petitioner Consuelo E. Mallari, with three (3) others, was accused of the
crime of Estafa thru Falsification of Public Document before the then Court of
First Instance of Manila (Criminal Case No. 9800). As the other accused were
at large, the case proceeded only with respect to Consuelo Mallari, who,
upon arraignment, pleaded not guilty. Trial was conducted; after which, the
court rendered judgment finding Consuelo Mallari guilty of the crime charged
and sentencing her to imprisonment of one (1) year and to indemnify the
offended party Remegio Tapawan in the amount of P1,500.00 and to pay the
costs.

Petitioner's appeal to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 19849-


CR, resulted in the affirmance of the trial court's decision with a modification
as to the penalty. In lieu of the straight penalty of one (1) year, an
indeterminate sentence of four (4) months and one (1) day as minimum, to
two (2) years and four (4) months, as maximum, was imposed on petitioner.
1

In her motion for reconsideration, petitioner contended that the decision in


CA-G.R. No. 19849-CR placed her twice in jeopardy of being punished for the
same offense as she had previously been convicted, sentenced and
probationed for the same offense in CA-G.R. No. 20817-CR entitled "People of
the Philippines versus Consuelo Mallari."

Unconvinced, the appellate court denied the motion for reconsideration in


the assailed resolution of November 5, 1981, to wit:

"The court will now resolve as to whether the accused might be placed twice
in jeopardy, the Court sustains the position taken by the Solicitor- General
that the acts of the accused in GA-C.R. No. 19849-CR are different and
distinct from the acts committed in CA-G.R. No. 20817-CR. Considering that
they were separate acts of deceit, they are therefore two separate crimes." 2

Hence, the instant petition for review.

By the constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy, it is understood


that "when a person is charged with an offense and the case is terminated
either by acquittal or conviction or in any other manner without the consent
of the accused, the latter cannot again be charged with the same or identical
offense. This principle is founded upon the law of reason, justice and
conscience." 3
To raise the defense of double jeopardy, three (3) requisites must be present:
(1) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second; (2) the first
jeopardy must have been validly terminated; and (3) the second jeopardy
must be for the same offense as that in the first. 4

With the prior conviction by a final judgment of petitioner for the crime of
estafa thru falsification of public document in CA-G.R. No. 20817-CR, there is
no question that the first and second requisites above enumerated are
present in the case at bar. The problem then lies with the third requisite. Is
the crime charged in CA-G.R. No. 20817-CR the same as in this case (CA-G.R.
No. 19849-CR)?

We rule in the affirmative.

The Information in CA-G.R. No. 20817-CR reads:

"That on or about December 15, 1970 in the City of Manila, Philippines, the
said accused CELESTINO HALLAZGO, a Notary Public for and in the City of
Manila and accused CARLOS SUNGA, DOMINGO ESPINELLI and CONSUELO
MALLARI, all private individuals, conspiring, and confederating together with
others whose true names and whereabouts are still unknown and mutually
helping one another, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
defraud JULIA S. SACLOLO thru falsification of a public document in the
following manner, to wit: the said accused having somehow obtained
possession of T.C.T. No. 42694, issued by the Register of Deeds of the
Province of Cavite, belonging to Leonora I. Balderas and duly registered in
the latter's name and by means of false manifestations and fraudulent
representations which they made to said Julia S. Saclolo to the effect that
said Leonora I. Balderas was badly in need of money and that she was
offering the aforesaid lot as collateral for a loan of P1,500.00 then executing,
forging and falsifying a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage acknowledged before
accused CELESTINO HALLAZGO, Notary Public for and in the City of Manila
and entered in the latter's notarial register as Doc. No. 3719, Page No. 75,
Book No. XII, Series of 1970 and therefore a public document, by then and
there signing and/or causing to be signed the signature 'Leonora I. Balderas,'
thereby making it appear as it did appear in said document, that said
Leonora I. Balderas had participated in the execution of this Deed of Real
Estate Mortgage by signing her name thereon when in truth and in fact as
the said accused or any of them to sign her name thereon and by means of
other deceits of similar import, induced and succeeded in inducing said Julia
Saclolo to give and deliver as in fact the latter gave and delivered to said
accused the said amount of P1,500.00 said accused well knowing that their
manifestations were false and untrue and were made solely for the purpose
of obtaining as in fact they did obtain the said amount of P1,500.00 which,
one (sic) in their possession, they did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, misappropriate, misapply and convert to their own personal use
and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said Julia S. Saclolo in said
amount of P1,500.00, Philippine Currency." 5

The Information in CA-G.R. No. 19849-CR, on the other hand, reads:

That on or about the 15th day of December, 1970 in the City of Manila,
Philippines, the accused Celestino Hallazgo, a Notary Public for and in the
City of Manila, and accused Carlos Sunga, Domingo Espineli and Consuelo
Mallari, all private individuals, conspiring and confederating together with
others whose true names and whereabouts are still unknown and mutually
helping one another, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
defraud Remegio G. Tapawan thru falsification of a public document, in the
following manner, to wit: the accused having somehow obtained possession
of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 42695 issued by the Register of Deeds of
the Province of Cavite, belonging to Leonora I. Balderas and duly registered
in the latter's name, and by means of false manifestations and fraudulent
representations which they made to said Remigio G. Tapawan to the effect
that said Leonora I. Balderas was badly in need of money and that she was
offering the aforesaid lot as collateral for a loan of P1,500.00, then executing,
forging and falsifying a Deed of Real Estate Mortgage acknowledged before
accused Celestino Hallazgo, Notary Public for and in the City of Manila and
entered in the latter's Notarial Register as Doc. No. 3718; Page No. 75, Book
No. XII, Series of 1970, and therefore a public document, by then and there
signing and/or causing to be signed the signature 'Leonora I. Balderas' over
the typewritten name 'LEONORA I. BALDERAS' thereby making it appear, as it
did appear in said document, that said Leonora I. Balderas had participated
in the execution of said Deed of Real Estate Mortgage by signing her name
thereon neither had she authorized said accused or anyone of them to sign
her name thereon, and by means of other deceits of similar import, induced
and succeeded in inducing said Remegio B. Tapawan to give and deliver as in
fact the latter gave and delivered to said accused, the amount of P1,500.00 .
.."6

In CA-G.R. No. 20817, the Court of Appeals made the following observations:

". . . Testifying for the prosecution, witness Remegio Tapawan explained how
Julia Saclolo became the mortgagee of the land in question by declaring that
the accused Consuelo E. Mallari herein after referred to as the appellant,
whom he had known since childhood came to his house in Rosario, Cavite on
December 10, 1970, bringing two (2) land titles both in the name of Leonora
Balderas and told him that she wanted to mortgage the titles for P1,500.00
each because she and her cousin Leonora Balderas were in great need of
money to pay some taxes with the Bureau of Customs where they have some
goods impounded. Not having enough money Tapawan refused. The
appellant, however, returned on December 15, 1970 with two titles and
pleaded anew with Remegio Tapawan and his wife for assistance because of
her and Balderas great need of money. Tapawan gave in but because he had
only P1,500.00 while the accused needed P3,000.00 he took her to his
mother-in-law, Julia Saclolo and was able to secure the amount of P1,500.00.
On the information given by Consuelo Mallari that the deed of mortgage
would be prepared in the office of Atty. Celestino Hallazgo at M.H. del Pilar,
Manila where the mortgagor Leonora Balderas would show up, Tapawan
proceeded to the place indicated. Immediately upon Tapawan's arrival, Atty.
Hallazgo phoned someone and within 20 minutes the person arrived whom
Consuelo Mallari and Atty. Hallazgo introduced to Remegio Tapawan as
Leonora Balderas. Thereafter, the mortgage deeds where prepared ---- one in
favor of Julia Saclolo and the other in favor of Remegio Tapawan for
P1,500.00 each. The mortgage loan of P3,000.00 was accordingly delivered
to the person who posed as Leonora Balderas. Consuelo Mallari and Domingo
Espinelli, assigned as witnesses to the said documents. Later, during the
preliminary investigation at the Fiscal's Office, Tapawan learned that he was
folled (sic) because the person who posed as Leonora Balderas was a man by
the name of Carlos Sunga, who, at the time the mortgage was constituted,
was dressed in a woman's attire. Neither Remegio Tapawan nor Julia Saclolo
were able to recover a portion of the mortgage loan." 7

Similarly, the findings of facts in CA-G.R. No. 19849 ran thus:

"REMEGIO TAPAWAN stated that sometime on December 10, 1970, his


townmate Consuelo E. Mallari saw him at his house, when she begged him
and his wife to lend her cousin Leonora Balderas some amount to pay taxes
and customs duties for imported fruits impounded in the Bureau of Customs
offering as a collateral two (2) Certificates of Title, two deeds of sale, and
four (4) tax declarations all in the name of Leonora Balderas. Consuelo
returned on December 15, and reiterated her request. Since he had only
P1,500.00 at that time he convinced his mother-in-law Julia Saclolo, to shell
out additional amount of P1,500.00. Consuelo and he then proceeded to the
Office of Atty. Celestino Hallazgo in Ermita, Manila for the preparation of the
documents. This attorney called up Leonora Balderas who arrived shortly
accompanied by three (3) persons one of whom is the helper of Atty.
Hallazgo, Domingo Espinelli. This Leonora Balderas was introduced to him by
Atty. Hallazgo and Consuelo who claimed her to be a cousin 'whom I should
help.' When the two (2) deeds prepared by Atty. Hallazgo one for him and the
other for Julia Saclolo were ready, they were signed by him, Mallari, Espinelli,
Balderas and the attorney, after which he delivered the money to the person
introduced as Leonora Balderas." 8

A comparison of the Informations filed in the two cases under consideration


as well as the findings of facts of the appellate court tells us that they refer
to the same series of acts. These series of acts amount to what is known in
law as a continued, continuous or continuing offense.
A continued crime is a single crime consisting of a series of acts but all
arising from one criminal resolution. It is a continuous, unlawful act or series
of acts set on foot by a single impulse and operated by an unintermittent
force, however long a time it may occupy. Although there are series of acts,
there is only one crime committed. Hence, only one penalty shall be
imposed.

The crime of estafa thru falsification of public document committed by


Consuelo Mallari, although consummated through a series of acts, was "set
on foot" by the single intent or impulse to defraud Remegio Tapawan of a
total amount of P3,000.00. And contrary to the appellate court's observation,
there was only one deceit practised by petitioner on the two (2) victims, i.e.,
that being in need of money, Leonora Balderas was willing to mortgage two
(2) lots as security for a loan of P3,000.00. It was, in fact, by mere play of
fate that the second victim, Julia Saclolo, should be dragged into the swindle
by reason of Tapawan having only P1,500.00 at that time. That there were
two (2) victims, however, did not accordingly convert the crime into two
separate offenses, as the determinative factor is the unity or multiplicity of
the criminal intent or of the transactions. For "the fact should not be lost
sight of that it is the injury to the public which a criminal action seeks to
redress, and by such redress to prevent its repetition, and not the injury to
individuals." 9

The singularity of the offense committed by petitioner is further


demonstrated by the fact that the falsification of the two (2) public
documents as a means of committing estafa were performed on the same
date, in the same place, at the same time and on the same occasion. This
Court has held in the case of People v. de Leon, 10 that the act of taking two
or more roosters in the same place and on the same occasion is dictated by
only one criminal design and therefore, there is only one crime of theft even
if the roosters are owned by different persons.

It has also been ruled that when two informations refer to the same
transaction, the second charge cannot prosper because the accused will
thereby be placed in jeopardy for the second time for the same offense. 11

Petitioner, having already been convicted of the complex crime of estafa thru
falsification of public document in CA-G.R. No. 20817-CR, it stands to reason
that she can no longer be held liable for the same crime in this case. The rule
against double jeopardy protects the accused not against the peril of second
punishment but against being tried for the same offense. 12 Without the
safeguard this rule establishes in favor of the accused, his fortune, safety
and peace of mind would be entirely at the mercy of the complaining witness
who might repeat his accusation as often as it is dismissed by the court and
whenever he might see fit, subject to no other limitation or restriction than
his will and pleasure. 13 The accused would never be free from the cruel and
constant menace of a never ending charge, which the malice of a
complaining witness might hold indefinitely suspended over his head. 14

NEMO BIS PUNITUR PRO EODEM DELICTO. No man is punished twice for the
same fault or offense.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The judgment of


conviction in CA-G.R. No. 19849-CR is set aside on the ground of double
jeopardy. No costs.

SO ORDERED.

Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. AMADO V.


HERNANDEZ, ET AL., accused. AMADO V. HERNANDEZ, ET AL.,
defendants-appellants.
G.R. Nos. L-6025 & L-6026 | 1964-05-30
DECISION

LABRADOR, J.:
This is the appeal prosecuted by the defendants from the judgment rendered
by the Court of First Instance of Manila, Hon. Agustin P. Montesa, presiding,
in its Criminal Case No. 15841, People vs. Amado V. Hernandez, et al., and
Criminal Case No. 15479, People vs. Bayani Espiritu, et al. In Criminal Case
No. 15841 (G.R. No. L-6025) the charge is for Rebellion with Multiple
Murder, Arsons and Robberies; the appellants are Amado V. Hernandez,
Juan J. Cruz, Genaro de la Cruz, Amado Racanday, Fermin Rodillas and
Julian Lumanog; Aquilino Bunsol, Adriano Samson and Andres Baisa, Jr.
were among those sentenced in the judgment appealed from, but they have
withdrawn their appeal. In Criminal Case No. 15479 (G.R. No. L-6026) the
charge is for rebellion with murders, arsons and kidnapings; the accused are
Bayani Espiritu, Teopista Valerio and Andres Baisa, Jr.; they all appealed but
Andres Baisa, Jr. withdrew his appeal.
The information filed against defendants Hernandez and others in Criminal
Case No. 15481 alleges:
"I. That on or about March 15, 1945, and for sometime before the said date
and continuously thereafter, until the present time, in the City of Manila,
Philippines, and the place which they had chosen as the nerve center of all
their rebellious activities in the different parts of the Philippines, the said
accused, conspiring, confederating and cooperating with each other, as well
as with the thirty-one (31) defendants charged in Criminal Case Nos. 19071,
14082, 14270, 14315 and 14344 of the court of First Instance of Manila
(decided May 11, 1951) and also with others whose whereabouts and
identities are still unknown, the said accused and their other co-conspirators,
being then high ranking officers and/or members of, or otherwise affiliated
with the Communist Party of the Philippines (P.K.P.), which is now actively
engaged in an armed rebellion against the Government of the Philippines
thru acts theretofore committed and planned to be further committed in
Manila and other places in the Philippines, and of which party the 'Hukbong
Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan' (H.M.B.) otherwise or formerly known as the
'Hukbalahaps' (Huks), is the armed force, did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously help, support, promote, maintain, cause, direct
and/or command the 'Hukbong Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan' (H.M.B.) or the
'Hukbalahaps' (Huks) to rise publicly and take arms against the Republic of
the Philippines, or otherwise participate in such armed public uprising, for
the purpose of removing the territory of the Philippines from the allegiance
to the government and laws thereof as in fact the said 'Hukbong
Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan' or 'Hukbalahaps' have risen publicly and taken arms
to attain the said purpose by then and there making armed raids, sorties
and ambushes, attacks against police, constabulary and army detachments
as well as innocent civilians, and as a necessary means to commit the crime
of rebellion, in connection therewith and in furtherance thereof, have been
and there committed acts of murder, pillage, looting, plunder, arson, and
planned destruction of private and public property to create and spread
chaos, disorder, terror, and fear so as to facilitate the accomplishment of the
aforesaid purpose, as follows, to wit: ('Enumeration of thirteen attacks on
government forces or civilians by Huks on May 6, 1946, August 6, 1946,
April 10, 1947, May 9, 1947, August 19, 1947, June, 1946, April 28, 1949,
August 25, 1950, August 26, 1950, August 25, 1950, September 12, 1950,
March 28, 1950 and March 29, 1950.)
"II. That during the period of time and under the same circumstances
herein-above indicated the said accused in the above- entitled case,
conspiring among themselves and with several others as aforesaid, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously organized, established, led and/or maintained the
Congress of labor Organization (CLO), formerly known as the Committee on
Labor Organizations (CLO), with central offices in Manila and chapters and
affiliated or associated labor unions and other 'mass organizations' in
different places in the Philippines, as an active agency, organ, and
instrumentality of the Communist Party of the Philippines (P.K.P.) and as
such agency, organ, and instrumentality, to fully cooperate in, and
synchronize its activities - as the CLO . . . thus organized, established, led
and/or maintained by the herein accused and their co-conspirators, has in
fact fully cooperated in and synchronized its activities - with the activities of
the 'Hukbong Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan' (HMB) and other organs, agencies,
and instrumentalities of the Communist Party of the Philippines (P.K.P.), to
thereby assure, facilitate, and effect the complete and permanent success of
the above-mentioned armed rebellion against the Government of the
Philippines."
The information filed against the defendants in Criminal Case No. 15479,
Bayani Espiritu, Andres Baisa, Jr. and Teopista Valerio, alleges:
"That on or about the 6th day of May, 1946, and for sometime prior and
subsequent thereto and continuously up to the present time, in the City of
Manila, the seat of the government of the Republic of the Philippines, which
the herein accused have intended to overthrow, and the place chosen for
that purpose as the nerve center of all their rebellious atrocities in the
different parts of the country, the said accused being then high ranking
officials and/or members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (P.K.P.)
and/or of the 'Hukbong Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan' (H.M.B.) otherwise or
formerly known as the 'Hukbalahaps' (HUKS), the latter being the armed
forces of said Communist Party of the Philippines; having come to an
agreement with the 29 of the 31 accused in Criminal Cases Nos. 14071,
14082, 14270, 14315, 14344 of the Court of First Instance of Manila and
decided to commit the crime of rebellion, and therefore, conspiring and
confederating with all of the 29 accused in said criminal cases, acting in
accordance with their conspiracy and in furtherance thereof, together with
many others whose whereabouts and identities are still unknown up to the
filing of this information, and helping one another, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously promote, maintain, cause, direct and/or
command the 'Hukbong Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan' (HMB) or the Hukbalahaps
(HUKS) to rise publicly and take arms against the Government or otherwise
participate therein for the purpose of overthrowing the same, as in fact, the
said 'Hukbong Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan' or Hukbalahaps (HUKS) have risen
publicly and taken arms against the Government, by then and there making
armed raids, sorties and ambushes, attacks against police, constabulary and
army detachments, and as a necessary means to commit the crime of
rebellion, in connection therewith and in furtherance thereof, by then and
there committing wanton acts of murder, spoilage, looting, arson,
kidnappings, planned destruction of private and public buildings to create
and spread terrorism in order to facilitate the accomplishment of the
aforesaid purpose, as follows, to wit: (Enumeration of thirteen attacks on
Government Forces or civilians by Huks on May 6, 1946, August 6, 1946,
April 10, 1947, May 9, 1947, August 19, 1947, June, 1946, April 28, 1949,
August 25, 1950, August 26, 1950, August 25,1950, September 12, 1950,
March 28, 1950 and March 29, 1950).
A joint trial of both cases was held, after which the court rendered the
decision subject of the present appeals.
APPEAL OF AMADO V. HERNANDEZ
After trial the Court of First Instance found, as against appellant Amado V.
Hernandez, the following: (1) that he is a member of the Communist Party
of the Philippines and as such had aliases, namely Victor or Soliman; (2)
that he was furnished copies of "Titis", a Communist publication, as well as
other publication of the Party; (3) that he held the position of President of
the Congress of Labor Organizations; (4) that he had close connections with
the Secretariat of the Communist Party and held continuous communications
with its leaders and its members; (5) that he furnished a mimeographing
machine used by the Communist Party, as well as clothes and supplies for
the military operations of the Huks; (6) that he had contacted well-known
Communists coming to the Philippines and had gone abroad to the WFTU
conference at Brussels, Belgium as a delegate of the CLO, etc. Evidence was
also received by the court that Hernandez made various speeches
encouraging the people to join in the Huk movement in the provinces.
The court also found that there was a close tie-up between the Communist
Party and the Congress of Labor Organizations, of which Hernandez was the
President, and that this Congress was organized by Hernandez in
conjunction with other Huks, namely: Alfredo Saulo, Mariano Balgos,
Guillermo Capadocia, etc.
We will now consider the nature and character of both the testimonial as well
as the documentary evidence, independently of each other, to find out if the
said evidence supports the findings of the court.
Testimonial Evidence
Amado V. Hernandez took the oath as member of the Communist Party in
the month of October, 1947, at the offices of the Congress of Labor
Organization at 2070 Azcarraga in the presence of Guillermo Capadocia,
Ramon Espiritu, Pedro Castro, Andres Baisa, etc. As a Communist he was
given the pseudonyms of Victor and Soliman, and received copies of the
Communist paper "Titis". He made various speeches on the following dates
and occasions:
(1) On August 29, 1948 before the Democratic Peace Rally of the CLO at
Plaza Miranda, in which he announced that the people will soon meet their
dear comrade in the person of Comrade Luis Taruc.
(2) On September 4, 1948 he conferred with Hindu Khomal Goufar at the
Escolta, at which occasion Balgos told Goufar that the PKM, CLO and the
Huks are in one effort; that the PKM are the peasants in the field and the
Huks are the armed forces of the Communist Party; and the CLO falls under
the TUD of the Communist Party.
(3) On October 2, 1948 he went abroad to attend the Second Annual
Convention of the World Federation of Trade Unions and after arrival from
abroad a dinner was given to him by the people of Gagalangin, at which
Hernandez delivered a speech and he said that he preferred to go with the
Huks because he felt safer with them than with the authorities of the
Government.
(4) In April, 1949, he made a speech before a group of tenants in Malabon
attacking the frauds in the 1947 elections, graft and corruption in the
elections and that if improvement cannot be made by the ballots, they could
be made by bullets; and enjoined the people to go to the hills and join Luis
Taruc, the head of the dissidents in the Philippines.
(5) On October 2, 1949 he delivered a speech on the occasion of the
commemoration of the World Peace at the CLO headquarters at 330 P.
Campa. He attacked the city mayor and incited the people to go to
Balintawak and see Bonifacio there and thereafter join "our comrades under
the leadership of Luis Taruc.
(6) On October 16, 1949 he delivered a speech before a convention of the
unemployed at 330 P. Campa. He asked the unemployed to approve a
resolution urging the Government to give them jobs. In conclusion he said
that if the government fails to give them jobs the only way out was to join
the revolutionary forces fighting in the hills. He further said that Mao Tse
Tung, leader of the People's Army in China, drove Chiang Kai Shek from his
country, and that Luis Taruc was also being chased by Government forces
run by puppets like Quirino, etc.
(7) On January 13, 1950 there was another meeting at 330 P. Campa. In his
talk Hernandez expressed regret that two foremost leaders of the CLO,
Balgos and Capadocia, had gone to the field to join the liberation army of
the HMB, justifying their going out and becoming heroes by fighting in the
fields against Government forces until the ultimate goal is achieved.
The above evidence was testified to by Florentino Diolata who was the
official photographer of the CLO since August, 1948.
On the tie-up between the Communist Party and the CLO, Guillermo
Calayag, a Communist and a Huk from 1942 to 1950, explained:
(1) The ultimate goal of the Communist Party is to overthrow the present
government by force of arms and violence; thru armed revolution and
replace it with the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat; the Communist
Party carries its program of armed overthrow of the present government by
organizing the HMB and other forms of organizations such as the CLO, PKM,
union organizations, and the professional and intellectual group; the CLO
was organized by the Trade Union Division (TUD) of the Communist Party.

(2) A good majority of the members of the Executive Committee and the
Central Committee of the CLO were also top ranking officials of the
Communist Party; activities undertaken by the TUD - the vital undertaking of
the TUD is to see that the directives coming from the organizational bureau
of the Communist Party can be discussed within the CLO, especially the
Executive Committee. And it is a fact that since a good majority of the
members of the Executive Committee are party members, there is no time,
there is no single time that these directives and decisions of the
organizational department, thru the TUD, are being objected to by the
Executive Committee of the CLO. These directives refer to how the CLO will
conduct its functions. The executive committee is under the chairmanship of
accused Amado V. Hernandez.
(3) The CLO played its role in the overall Communist program of armed
overthrow of the present government and its replacement by the
dictatorship of the proletariat by means of propaganda - by propagating the
principles of Communism, by giving monetary aid, clothing, medicine and
other forms of material help to the HMB. This role is manifested in the very
constitution of the CLO itself which expounded the theory of classless society
and the eradication of social classes (par. 5, Sec. 1, Art. 2, page 18 of the
CLO Constitution contained in the Fourth Annual Convention Souvenir
Program of the CLO, Exh. "V-1579"). Thru propaganda, the CLO promoted
the aims of Communist Party and disseminated Communist ideas by:
(a) The conspicuous display of the portrait or pictures of Crisanto
Evangelista (Exh. V-1662), founder of Communism in the Philippines, in the
session hall of the CLO headquarters at 2070 Azcarraga and then at 330 P.
Campa.
(b) The distribution of foreign communist reading materials such as the
World Federation of Trade Union Magazine, International Union of Students
magazine, Voice magazine of the marine cooks of the CLO, World Committee
of the Defenders of the Peace magazine, Free Bulgaria magazine, Soviet
Russia Today magazine and World Federation of Democratic Youth magazine
(Exhs. V-911, V-907, V-910, V-899, V-912, V- 853, V-996 and V-997);
(c) The publication and distribution of some local subversive publication such
as the "Titis", "Bisig", "Kidlat", which are Communist Party organs; "The
Philippine Labor Demands Justice" and "Hands Off Korea" authored by
accused Amado V. Hernandez;
(d) Principles of Communism were also propagated thru lectures, meetings,
and by means of organization of committees in the educational department
as well as researches in the Worker's Institute of the CLO.
(4) The CLO also helped carry out the program of the Communist Party thru
infiltration of party members and selected leaders of the HMB within the
trade unions under the control of the CLO. The Communist Party thru the
CLO assigned Communist Party leaders and organizers to different factories
in order to organize unions. After the organization of the union, it will
affiliate itself with the CLO thru the Communist leaders and the CLO, in turn,
will register said union with the Department of Labor; and the orientation
and indoctrination of the workers is continued in the line of class struggle.
After this orientation and infiltration of the Communist Party members and
selected leaders of the HMB with the trade unions under the control of the
CLO is already achieved and the group made strong enough to carry out its
aims, they will begin the sporadic strikes and the liquidation of anti-labor
elements and anti-Communist elements and will create a so-called
revolutionary crisis. That revolutionary crisis will be done or the party to give
directives to the HMB who are fighting in the country sides and make them
come to the city gates. The entry of the HMB is being paved by the
simultaneous and sporadic strikes, by ultimate general strikes thru the
management of the CLO.
Important Documents Submitted At Trial
1. Documents which prove that Amado V. Hernandez used the aliases
"Victor", or was referred to as "Victor" or "Soliman".
(a) Letter dated April 23, 1950 (signed) by Victor addressed to Julie telling
the latter of his sympathies for other communists, describing his experiences
with Communists abroad, telling Julie to dispose of materials that may be
sent by Victor. (Exh. D-2001-2004)
(b) "Paano Maisasagawa, etc." - mentions different groups of labor unions of
which Victor heads one group, consisting of the MRRCO, PTLD, PGWU, EMWU
and IHWU. (Exh. C-2001-2008) Cadres assigned to different industries.
(Exh. V-40-41)
(c) Handwritten certificate of Honofre Mangila states that he knew Amado
Hernandez as Victor from co-party members Hugo and Ely. (Exh. LL)
(d) Letter of Elias to Ka Eto requesting the latter to deliver attached letter to
Victor (Exh. 1103).
(e) Saulo's letter about his escape, asks Victor why his press statement was
not published in the newspapers. (Exh. C-362) Letter was however published
by Hernandez in the Daily Mirror.
(f) Letter of Taruc to Maclang directing the latter to give copy of HUK Story
to Victor. (Exh. D 463-64)
(g) Notes of Salome Cruz, Huk courier, stating that she went to Soliman at
Pampanga St. to bring to the latter communications from the Communist
Party. (Exh. D-1203). That Soliman was given copies of "Titis". (Exh. D-
1209)
(h) SEC directions to Politburo members, Soliman not to be involved with
Nacionalista Rebels. (Exh. F-92 93-SEC)
(i) Letter of SEC to Politburo reporting that Saulo be sent out and Soliman
has "tendencies of careerism and tendency to want to deal with leaders of
the party"; that he should be asked to choose to go underground or fight
legally. (Exh. F-562)
(k) Explanation given by Hernandez why he did not join Saulo in going
underground. (Exh. V-87).
(1) His election as councilor until December, 1951. (Exh. V-42 W- 9)
(2) His election as president of CLO until August of the following year. (Exhs.
V-42, W-9)
2. Letters of Messages of Hernandez.
(a) To Lyden Henry and Harry Reich, tells Huks still fighting. (Exhs. V-80)
(b) To SOBSI Jakarta - that Filipinos are joining other communist countries
of the East. (Exh. V-82)
(c) Press release on Saulo's disappearance published by Amado Hernandez.
(Exh. W-116-120)
(d) To Hugh and Eddie, July 8, 1949 - Extends greetings to National Union of
Marine Cooks and Stewards, states that labor has one common struggle -
"the liberation of all the peoples from the chains of tyranny, fascism and
imperialism". (Exh. V-259)
(e) To Kas. Pablo and Estrada - talks of the fight - fight of labor. (Exh. V-85-
89)
(f) appeal to the Women and Asia. (Exh. V-5-10)
(g) Letter to Julie (Exh. V-2001-2004).
(h) Letter to Chan Lieu - states that leaders during the war are being
persecuted, like Taruc. Tells of reward of P100,000.00 on Taruc's head.
(Exh. X-85-88)
(i) Letter to John Gates of the Daily Worker - condemns Wall Street
maneuvers; corruption and graft in Quirino administration, etc. (Exh. V-83)
(j) Cablegram: CLO join ILWU, commends Harry Bridges, US Communists.
(Exh. V-79)
(k) Communication of Hernandez to CLO at MRRCO - Praises Balgos and
Capadocia for joining the Huks. (Exhs. V-12-22, V-289)
(l) "Philippine Labor Demands Justice" - Attacks czars of Wall Street and U.S.
Army and Government. (Exh. V-94)
(m) Letter of Taruc - June 28, 1948. - States solidarity among the CLO,
Huks and PKM. Attacks North Atlantic Pact. Praises Mao Tse Tung.
(contained in Exh. V-94)
(n) "Philippines Is Not a Paradise" - States of a delegation to Roxas attacking
unemployment. (Exh. V-90-93)
(o) Article "Progressive Philippines" - (Exh. V-287).
(p) Article "Hands Off Korea" - (Exhs. V-488-494, 495-501, 509-515, W-25-
26).
(q) "Limang Buwang Balak Sa Pagpapalakas Ng Organisasyon". (Exh. X-35-
38)
(r) Press statement of Hernandez - opposes acceptance of decorations from
Greece by Romulo. (Exh. V-72)
3. Other Activities of Hernandez.

(a) Hernandez received clothes from Pres. Lines thru P. Campa, which
clothes he sent to the field. Letter show of sending of supplied to Huks.
(Exh. S-383)
(b) Hernandez was asked to furnish portable typewriter; which he did furnish
to Huks. (Exh. C-364)
(c) Hernandez brought Taruc's letter about facts and incidents about Huks to
Bulosan for inclusion in Bulosan's book. (Exh. FF-1)
(d) Had conference with Kumar Goshal, a Hindu, about the Huks and their
armed forces. (Photographs, Exhs. X-6, RR-54-55A)
(e) Supervised taking of pictures of sons of Capadocia and Joven.
(Photographs, Exhs. T-1, RR-136-138-A)
(f) Had knowledge of the going underground of Capadocia and Balgos and
issued press release about their going underground. (Exh. F-91)
(g) Victor mentioned to continue as contact for Chino. (Exh. C- 362)
(j) Taruc's letter to Maclang shows that Soliman had sent 7 lessons to Taruc.
(Exh. D-451-451-A)
(k) Associated with fellow ranking Communist leaders.
The Court upon consideration of the evidence submitted, found (1) that the
Communist Party was fully organized as a party and in order to carry out its
aims and policies established a National Congress, a Central Committee
(CC), Politburo (PB), Secretariat (SEC), Organization Bureau (OB), and
National Courier or Communication Division (NCD), each body performing
functions indicated in their respective names; (2) that in a meeting held on
August 11, 1950 the SEC discussed the creation of a Military Committee of
the party and a new GHQ, under which on September 29, 1950 the SEC
organized a special warfare division, with a technological division; (3) that
on May 5, 1950 a body known as the National Intelligence Division was
created, to gather essential military intelligence and, in general, all
information useful for the conduct of the armed struggle; (4) that a National
Finance Committee was also organized as a part of the Politburo and
answerable to it; (5) that the country was divided into 10 Recos, the 10th
Reco comprising the Manila and suburbs command; (6) that since
November, 1949 the CPP had declared the existence of a revolutionary
situation and since then the Party had gone underground and the CPP is
leading the armed struggle for national liberation, and called on the people
to organize guerrillas and coordinate with the HMB on the decisive struggle
and final overthrow of the imperialist government; (7) that in accordance
with such plan the CPP prepared plans for expansion and development not
only of the Party but also of the HMB; the expansion of the cadres from
3,600 in July 1950 to 56,000 in September 1951, the HMB from 10, 800 in
July 1950 to 172,000 in September 1951, et seq.
Around the month of January, 1950 it was decided by the CPP to intensify
HMB military operations for political purposes. The Politburo sanctioned the
attacks made by the Huks on the anniversary of the HMB on March 25,
1950. The HMB attacks that were reported to the PB were those made in
May, 1946; June, 1946; April 10, 1947; May 9, 1947; August 19, 1947;
August 25, 1950; August 26, 1950; October 15 and 17, 1950; May 6, 1946;
August 6, 1946; April 10, 1947; May 9, 1947; August 19, 1947; April 29,
1949; August 25, 1950; August 26, 1950; September 12, 1950; March 26,
1950; March 29, 1950.
The theory of the prosecution, as stated in the lower court's decision, is as
follows:
Congres"The evidence does not show that the defendants in these cases
now before this Court had taken a direct part in those raids and in the
commission of the crimes that had been committed. It is not, however,
the theory of the prosecution that they in fact had direct participation in
the commission of the same but rather that the defendants in these
cases have cooperated, conspired and confederated with the Communist
Party in the prosecution and successful accomplishment of the aims and
purposes of the said Party thru the organization called the CLO (s of
Labor Organizations)."
The Court found that the CLO is independent and separate from the CPP,
organized under the same pattern as the CPP, having its own National
Congress, a Central Committee (which acts in the absence of and in
representation of the National Congress), an Executive Committee (which
acts when the National Congress and the Executive Committee are not in
session), and seven permanent Committees, namely, of Organization,
Unemployment and Public Relations, Different Strikes and Pickets, Finance,
Auditing, Legislation and Political Action. Members of the Communist Party
dominate the committees of the CLO. The supposed tie-up between CPP and
the CLO, of which Hernandez was the President, is described by the court
below in finding, thus:
"Just how the CLO coordinates its functions with the Communist Party organ
under which it operates was explained by witness Guillermo S. Calayag, one-
time ranking member of the Communist party and the CLO, who typewrites
the 'Patnubay sa Education' from a handwritten draft of Capadocia, which is
one of the texts used in the Worker's Institute of the CLO. According to him,
the CLO plays its role by means of propaganda, giving monetary aid,
clothing, medicine and other material forms of help to the HMB, which
constitutes the armed forces of the Communist Party. Propaganda is done by
lectures, meetings, and the organization of committees of the educational
department as well as researches at the CLO Worker's Institute.
"Another way of helping the Communist Party of the Philippines is by
allowing the Communist Party leaders to act as organizers in the different
factories in forming a union. These Party Members help workers in the
factories to agitate for the eradication of social classes and ultimately effect
the total emancipation of the working classes thru the establishment of the
so-called dictatorship of the proletariat. It is the duty of these Communist
Party members to indoctrinate uninitiated workers in the union to become
proselytes of the Communist Party ideology. After the right number is
secured and a union is formed under a communist leader, this union is
affiliated with the CLO and this in turn registers the same with the
Department of Labor. The orientation and indoctrination of the masses is
continued with the help of the CLO. The primary objective of the CLO is to
create what is called a revolutionary crisis. It seeks to attain this objective
by first making demands from the employers for concessions which become
more and more unreasonable until the employers would find it difficult to
grant the same. Then a strike is declared. But the strikes are only
preparation for the ultimate attainment of the Communist goal of armed
overthrow of the government. After the workers in the factories have already
struck in general at the behest of the Communist Party thru the CLO, a
critical point is reached when a signal is given for the armed forces of the
Communist Party, the HMB, to intervene and carry the revolution now being
conduct outside to within the city."
On the basis of the above findings, the court below found Hernandez guilty
as principal of the crime charged against him and sentenced him to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua with the accessories provided by law, and
to pay the proportionate amount of the costs.
Our study of the testimonial and documentary evidence, especially those
cited by the Court in its decision and by the Solicitor General in his brief,
discloses that defendant-appellant Amado V. Hernandez, as a Communist,
was an active advocate of the principles of Communism, frequently
exhorting his hearers to follow the footsteps of Taruc and join the uprising of
the laboring classes against capitalism and more specifically against America
and the Quirino administration, which he dubbed as a regime of puppets of
American imperialism. But beyond the open advocacy of Communistic
Theory there appears no evidence that he actually participated in the actual
conspiracy to overthrow by force the constituted authority.
Hernandez is the founder and head of the CLO. As such, what was his
relation to the rebellion? If, as testified to by Guillermo S. Calayag, the CLO
plays merely the role of propagation by lectures, meetings and organization
of committees of education by Communists; if, as stated, the CLO merely
allowed Communist Party leaders to act as organizers in the different
factories, to indoctrinate the CLO members into the Communist Party and
proselytize them to the Communist ideology; if, as also indicated by
Calayag, the CLO purports to attain the ultimate overthrow of the
Government first by making demands from employers for concessions until
the employers find it difficult to grant the same, at which time a strike is
declared; if it is only after the various strikes have been carried out and a
crisis is thereby developed among the laboring class, that the Communist
forces would intervene and carry the revolution - it is apparent that the CLO
was merely a stepping stone in the preparation of the laborers for the
Communist' ultimate revolution. In other words, the CLO had no function but
that of indoctrination and preparation of the members for the uprising that
would come. It was only a preparatory organization prior to revolution, not
the revolution itself. The leader of the CLO, therefore, namely Hernandez,
cannot be considered as a leader in actual rebellion or of the actual uprising
subject of the accusation. Hernandez, as President of the CLO, therefore, by
his presidency and leadership of the CLO, cannot be considered as having
actually risen up in arms in rebellion against the Government of the
Philippines, or taken part in the conspiracy to commit the rebellion as
charged against him in the present case; he was merely a propagandist and
indoctrinator of Communism, he was not a Communist conspiring to commit
the actual rebellion by the mere fact of his presidency of the CLO.

The court below declares that since November 1949 the Communist Party of
the Philippines had declared the existence of the revolutionary situation and
since then the Party had gone underground, with the CPP leading the
struggle for national integration, and that in the month of January 1950, it
was decided by the said Party to intensify the HMB military operations for
political purposes. The court implicates the appellant Hernandez as a co-
conspirator in this resolution or acts of the Communist Party by mere
membership thereto. We find this conclusion unwarranted. The seditious
speeches of Hernandez took place before November, 1949 when the CPP
went underground. The court below has not been able to point out, nor have
We been able to find among all acts attributed to Hernandez, any single fact
or act in the deliberations declaring the existence of a revolutionary
situation, or that he had gone underground. As a matter of fact the
prosecution's evidence is to the effect that Hernandez refused to go
underground preferring to engage in what they consider the legal battle for
the cause.
We have also looked into the different documents which have been present
ed at the time of the trial and which were confiscated from the office of the
Politburo of the Communist Party. The speeches of Hernandez were
delivered before the declaration by the Communist Party of a state of
revolutionary situation in 1949. Neither was it shown that Hernandez was a
member of the Executive Committee, or of the SEC, or of the Politburo of
the Communist Party; so NO presumption can arise that he had taken part in
the accord or conspiracy declaring a revolution. In short, there has been no
evidence, direct or indirect, to relate or connect the appellant Hernandez
with the uprising or the resolution to continue or maintain said uprising, his
participation in the deliberations leading to the uprising being inferred only
from the fact that he was a Communist.
The practice among the top Communists, as declared by the trial court,
appears to have been for important members, if they intend actually to join
the rebellion, to go underground, which meant leaving the city, disappearing
from sight and/or secretly joining the forces in the field.
The document Exhibit F-562, which is quoted in the decision, contains the
directive of the Sec of September 1, 1950, to Saulo and Hernandez, which
reads:
"11. In view of the new developments in the city, send out Elias who prefers
to work outside. Present problem of fighting legally to Com. Soliman. If
Soliman is prepared for martyrdom, retain him to fight legally. If not, send
him out with Elias. Same goes with Com. Mino and other relatively exposed
mass leaders."
And the lower court itself found that whereas Saulo went underground and
joined the underground forces outside the City, Hernandez remained in the
City, engaged in the work of propaganda, making speeches and causing the
publication of such matters as the Communist Party leaders directed him to
publish.
That Hernandez refused to go underground is a fact which is further
corroborated by the following reasons (excuses) given by him for not going
underground, namely: (1) that his term of councilor of the City of Manila
was to extend to December, 1951; and (2) that he was elected President of
the CLO for a term which was to end the year 1951.
As a matter of fact the SEC gave instructions to Hernandez not to be
involved with Nacionalista Rebels, and reported to the Politburo that
Hernandez "has tendencies of careerism and tending to want to deal with
the leaders of the Nacionalista Party instead of following CPP organizational
procedures."
The court below further found that Hernandez had been furnishing supplies
for the Huks in the field. But the very document dated December 3, 1949,
Exhibit D-420-422, cited in the decision (printed, p. 49), is to the effect that
clothes and shoes that Hernandez was supposed to have sent have not been
received. It is true that some clothes had been sent thru him to the field, but
these clothes had come from a crew member of a ship of the American
President Lines. He also, upon request, sent a portable typewriter to the SEC
or Politburo. Furthermore, a certain Niagara Duplicating machine received by
Hernandez from one Rolland Scott Bullard, a crew member of the SS
President Cleveland, appears later to have been forwarded by him to the
officers of the SEC or the Politburo.
Lastly, it further appears that Taruc and other CPP leaders used to send
notes to appellant Hernandez, who in turn issued press releases for which he
found space in the local papers. His acts in this respect belong to the
category of propaganda, to which he appears to have limited his actions as a
Communist.
The acts of the appellant as thus explained and analyzed fall under the
category of acts of propaganda, but do not prove that he actually and in fact
conspired with the leaders of the Communist Party in the uprising or in the
actual rebellion, for which acts he is charged in the information. And his
refusal to go underground because of his political commitments occasioned
by his term of election as president of the CLO, and the impressions caused
by his acts on the Communist leaders, to the effect that he was in direct
communication or understanding with the Nacionalista Party to which he was
affiliated, creates in Us the reasonable doubt that it was not his Communistic
leanings but his political ambitions, that motivated his speeches
sympathizing with the Huks. For which reason We hold that the evidence
submitted fails to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he has conspired in
the instigation of the rebellion for which he is held to account in this criminal
case.
The question that next comes up for resolution is: Does his or anyone's
membership in the Communist Party per se render Hernandez or any
Communist guilty of conspiracy to commit rebellion under the provisions of
Article 136 of the Revised Penal Code? The pertinent provision reads:
"ART. 136. Conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion or insurrection. -
The conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion or insurrection shall be
punished, respectively, by prision correccional in its maximum period and a
fine which shall not exceed 5,000 pesos, and by prision correccional in its
medium period and a fine not exceeding 2,000 pesos."
The advocacy of Communism or Communistic theory and principle is not to
be considered as a criminal act of conspiracy unless transformed or
converted into an advocacy of a theory or principle is insufficient unless the
communist advocates action, immediate and positive, the actual agreement
to start an uprising or rebellion, or an agreement forged to use force and
violence in an uprising of the working class to overthrow constituted
authority and seize the reins of Government itself. Unless action is actually
advocated or intended or contemplated, the Communist is a mere theorist,
merely holding belief in the supremacy of the proletariat; a Communist does
not yet advocate the seizing of the reins of Government by it. As a theorist
the Communist is not yet actually considered as engaging in the criminal
field subject to punishment. Only when the Communist advocates action and
actual uprising, war or otherwise, does he become guilty of conspiracy to
commit rebellion. Borrowing the language of the Supreme Court of the
United States:
"In our jurisprudence guilt is personal, and when the imposition of
punishment on a status or on conduct can only be justified by reference
to the relationship of that status or conduct to other concededly criminal
activity (here advocacy of violent overthrow), that relationship must be
sufficiently substantial to satisfy the concept of personal guilt in order to
withstand attack under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Membership, without more, in an organization engaged in illegal
advocacy, it is now said, has not heretofore been recognized by this
Court to be such a relationship . . .
"What must be met, then, is the argument that membership, even when
accompanied by the elements of knowledge and specific intent, affords an
insufficient quantum of participation in the organization's alleged criminal
activity, that is, an insufficiently significant form of aid and encouragement
to permit the imposition of criminal sanctions on that basis. It must indeed
be recognized that a person who merely becomes a member of an illegal
organization, by that 'act' alone need be doing nothing more than signifying
his assent to its purposes and activities on one hand, and providing, on the
other, only the sort of moral encouragement which comes from the
knowledge that others believe in what the organization is doing. It may
indeed be argued that such assent and encouragement do fall short of the
concrete, practical impetus given to a criminal enterprise which is lent for
instance by a commitment on the part of the conspirator to act in
furtherance of that enterprise. A member, as distinguished from a
conspirator, may indicate his approval of a criminal enterprise by the very
fact of his membership without thereby necessarily committing himself to
further it by any act or course of conduct whatever." (Scales v. United
States, 367 U.S. 203, 6 L. ed. 782)
The most important activity of appellant Hernandez appears to be the
propagation of improvement of conditions of labor through his organization,
the CLO. While the CLO, of which he is the founder and active president, has
communist tendencies, its activity refers to the strengthening of the unity
and cooperation between labor elements and preparing them for struggle;
they are not yet indoctrinated in the need of an actual war with or against
Capitalism. The appellant was a politician and a labor leader and it is not
unreasonable to suspect that his labor activities especially in connection with
the CLO and other trade unions, were impelled and fostered by the desire to
secure the labor vote to support his political ambitions. It is doubtful
whether his desire to foster the labor union of which he was the head was
impelled by an actual desire to advance the cause of Communism, not
merely to advance his political aspirations.
Insofar as the appellant's alleged activities as a Communist are concerned,
We have not found, nor has any particular act on his part been pointed to
Us, which would indicate that he had advocated action or the use of force in
securing the ends of Communism. True it is, he had friends among the
leaders of the Communist Party, and especially the heads of the rebellion,
but this notwithstanding, evidence is wanting to show that he ever attended
their meetings, or collaborated and conspired with said leaders in planning
and encouraging the acts of rebellion, or advancing the cause thereof.
Insofar as the furnishing of the mimeograph machine and clothes is
concerned, it appears that he acted merely as an intermediary, who passed
said machine and clothes on to others. It does not appear that he himself
furnished funds or material help of his own to the members of the rebellion
or to the forces of the rebellion in the field.
But the very act or conduct of his in refusing to go underground, in spite of
the apparent desire of the chief of the rebellion, is clear proof of his non-
participation in the conspiracy to engage in or to foster the rebellion or the
uprising.
We next consider the question as to whether the fact that Hernandez
delivered speeches of propaganda in favor of Communism and in favor of
rebellion can be considered as a criminal act of conspiracy to commit
rebellion as defined in the law. In this respect, the mere fact of his giving
and rendering speeches favoring Communism would not make him guilty of
conspiracy, because there was no evidence that the hearers of his speeches
of propaganda then and there agreed to rise up in arms for the purpose of
obtaining the overthrow of the democratic government as envisaged by the
principles of Communism. To this effect is the following comment of Viada:
"CUESTION 10. El que hace propaganda entre sus convecinos, induciendoles
a que el dia que el dia que se anunciara la subasta de concumos se echaran
a la calle para conseguir aunque fuera preciso acudir a la fuerza, el reparto
entre los vecinos ricos solamente, sera responsable de un delito de
conspiracion para la sedicion? - El Tribunal Supremo ha resuelto la negativa
al casar cierta sentencia de la Audiencia de Valencia, que entendio lo
contrario: 'Considerando que, con arreglo a lo que dispone el art. 4. del
Codigo Penal, hay conspiracion cuando dos o mas personas se conciertan
para la ejecucion de un delito y resuelven cometerlo; y no constando que
existiera ese concierto en cuanto a los hechos que se refieren en la tercera
pregunta del veredicto, pue en ella solo sehabla de los actos de induccion
que el procesado realizo, sin expresar el efecto que la misma produjo en el
animo de las personas a quienes se dirigian, ni si estas aceptaron o no lo
que se las propuso, resulta evidente que faltan los elementos integrates de
la conspiracion, etc.' (Se. de 5 de julio de 1907, Gaceta de 7 de enero de
1909.)" (Viada, Tomo, I, Codigo Penal, p. 152)
In view of all the above circumstances We find that there is no concrete
evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant (Hernandez)
actually participated in the rebellion or in any act of conspiracy to commit or
foster the cause of the rebellion. We are constrained, in view of these
circumstances, to absolve as We hereby absolve, the appellant Amado V.
Hernandez from the crime charged, with a proportionate share of the costs
de oficio.
APPEAL OF OTHER DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS
All the other defendants were found guilty as accomplices in the crime of
rebellion as charged in the information and were each sentenced to suffer
the penalty of 10 years and 1 day of prision mayor, with the accessories
provided by law, and to pay their proportionate share of the costs.
Legal Considerations. - Before proceeding to consider the appeals of the
other defendants, it is believed useful if not necessary to lay down the
circumstances or facts that may be determinative of their criminal
responsibility or the existence or nature thereof. To begin with, as We have
exhaustively discussed in relation to the appeal of Hernandez, we do not
believe that mere membership in the Communist Party or in the CLO renders
the members liable, either of rebellion or of conspiracy to commit rebellion,
because mere membership and nothing more merely implies advocacy of
abstract theory or principle without any action being induced thereby; and
that such advocacy becomes criminal only if it is coupled with action or
advocacy of action, namely, actual rebellion or conspiracy to commit
rebellion, or acts conducive thereto or evincing the same.
On the other hand, membership in the HMB (Hukbalahap) implies
participation in an actual uprising or rebellion to secure, as the Huks
pretend, the liberation of the peasants and laboring class from thraldom. By
membership in the HMB, one already advocates uprising and the use of
force, and by such membership he agrees or conspires that force be used to
secure the ends of the party. Such membership, therefore, even if there is
nothing more renders the member guilty of conspiracy to commit rebellion
punishable by law.
And when a Huk member, not contend with his membership, does anything
to promote the ends of the rebellion like soliciting contributions, or acting as
courier, he thereby becomes guilty of conspiracy, unless he takes to the filed
and joins in the rebellion or uprising, in which latter case he commits
rebellion.
In U.S. v. Vergara, infra, the defendants organized a secret society
commonly known as the "Katipunan", the purpose of which was to overthrow
the government by force. Each of the defendants on various times solicited
funds from the people of Mexico, Pampanga. The Court held that the
defendants were guilty of conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion or
insurrection and not of rebellion or insurrection itself. Thus, the Court ruled
that:
"From the evidence adduced in this case we are of the opinion that the said
defendants are guilty, not of inciting, setting on foot, or assisting or
engaging in rebellion, but rather of the crime of conspiring to overthrow, put
down, and destroy by force the Government of the United States in the
Philippine islands, and therefore we find that said defendants, and each of
them, did, together with others, in the months of February and March, 1903,
in the Province of Pampanga, Philippine Islands, conspire to overthrow, put
down, and to destroy by force the Government of the United States in the
Philippine Islands." (U.S. v. Vergara, et al., 3 Phil. 432, 434.)
JUAN J. CRUZ
The court found him to be a Communist with various aliases, a member of
the Central Committee of the CLO, member of the Central Committee of the
CPP and as such committed to the establishment of the dictatorship of the
proletariat. To the same effect is the testimony of Guillermo Calayag.
There is no evidence to connect him with the rebellion or to the conspiracy
to commit rebellion. He should therefore be absolved of the charges
contained in the information.
AMADO RACANDAY
The trial court found him guilty as a Communist, a Secretary and Executive
Committee member of the CLO, a communications center of the Communist
Party, having been found in possession of letter from Federico Maclang to
Salome Cruz, and solicitor of contributions for the Huks.
Racanday admits being a member of the Executive Committee of the CLO,
Editor of the Kidlat of the Government Workers Union, receiving copies of
the Titis. Calayag testified that he was a member of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party entrusted with the duty of receiving directives of the
Regional Committee of the Communist Party.
The letters found in his possession are dated February 14, 1950, before the
Communist Party went underground. We have been unable to find the
evidence upon which the court bases its conclusion that he received
contributions for the Huks. With these circumstances in mind, WE are not
convinced beyond reasonable doubt that as a Communist he took part in the
conspiracy among the officials of the Communist Party to take part and
support the rebellion of the Huks.
We are, therefore, constrained to absolve him of the charges filed against
him.
GENARO DE LA CRUZ
The court found him to be a Communist since 1945, an officer of an
organized Communist branch in Pasay City, a member of the Central
Committee and Treasurer of the CLO. He admitted his membership and his
position as member of the executive committee and treasurer of the CLO,
these facts being corroborated by the witness Guillermo Calayag.
His membership in the Communist Party dates as far back as the year 1945.
As a communist, Genaro de la Cruz received quotas and monetary
contributions coming from the areas under his jurisdiction, and one time he
made a receipt from a member from Caloocan at the CLO headquarters at
Azcarraga signing the receipt as "Gonzalo" which is one of his aliases. He
also distributed copies of the "Titis" magazine.
While his membership in the Communist Party plus his having received
contributions for the party indicate that he is an active member, it was not
shown that the contributions that he received from Communist Party
members were received around the year 1950 when the Central Committee
of the Communist Party had already agreed to conspire and go underground
and support the Huk rebellion. Under these circumstance We cannot find him
guilty of conspiracy to commit rebellion because of the lack of evidence to
prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
JULIAN LUMANOG
The court found him to be an organizer of HMB among the mill workers,
solicited contributions for the HMB and Central Committee member of the
CLO, as per testimony of Guillermo Calayag.
He admitted that he joined the Communist Party because he was made to
believe that the Party is for the welfare of the laborers. He also admitted
being a member of the Central Committee of the CLO. Calayag testified that
Lumanog organized the HMB units of the Communist Party in the Lumber
Unions and attended a Communist meeting held by Maclang.
Domingo Clarin testified that he (Julian Lumanog) used to give the money
collected by him to one Nicasio Pamintuan, one of the members of the HMB
Special Unit (Trigger Squad) in Manila for the use of the said unit.
Considering that the HMB was engaged in a rebellion to overthrow the
government, it is evident that by giving his contributions he actually
participated in the conspiracy to overthrow the government and should,
therefore, be held liable for such conspiracy, and should be sentenced
accordingly.
FERMIN RODILLAS
The trial court found that Fermin Rodillas was a member of the CPP and the
CLO; that his activities consisted in soliciting contributions, in cash and in
kind, from city residents for the use of the HMB, turning over said collections
to the Party; that he as given asylum to a wanted Hukbalahap at his house
at Juan Luna St., Gagalangin, which house was used as Military post. The
above findings of the court are fully supported by the testimony of Domingo
Clarin.
Considering that while he has not actually taken part in the rebellion, he has
shown sympathy with the cause by soliciting contributions for it and had
given shelter to the Huks. We feel that the court was fully justified in finding
him guilty, but We hold that he should be declared liable merely as a co-
conspirator in the crime of conspiracy to commit rebellion, and should be
sentenced accordingly.
BAYANI ESPIRITU
This appellant was found by the court to be a Communist, he having
admitted membership in the Communist Party since 1945; that his duties as
a Communist was to help in the office of the National Finance Committee,
assorting papers and written documents; that sometimes he accompanied
the purchaser of medicines, shoes, papers, foodstuffs and clothing to be
given to the Huks; that he is a member of the Communication Division of the
CPP in Manila, in charge of distribution of letters or communications; that he
admits having written to Salome Cruz, courier of the Communist Party, when
he asked for his necessities, such as money and shoes, etc.
The facts found by the court are sufficiently supported by the
communications and evidence submitted by the prosecution. The exhibits
show that he was in constant communication with the communists; serving
them as courier. His oath as a member of the Communist Party was
submitted in court and in it he admits obedience to all orders of the Party
and to propagate the stability of the PKP.
Considering that the PKP was engaged in an actual uprising against the
constituted Government and that Bayani Espiritu was in constant
communication with the Communist Party and served it as courier, We
believe that the court was fully justified in finding him guilty. However, We
believe that not having actually taken up arms in the uprising he may only
be declared guilty of conspiracy to commit rebellion.
TEOPISTA VALERIO
The court below found that this appellant joined the Communist in 1938 in
San Luis, Pampanga, under Castro Alejandrino, who later became her
common-law husband; that her aliases are "Estrella" and "Star"; that she
was found in possession of various documents written to top Communists
like Alejandrino, Lava and Romy, as well as a letter from Taruc
congratulating her for the delivery of a son.
Jose Taguiang testified that she was a member of the Provincial Committee
of the CPP in Nueva Ecija, later Chairman of the Finance Department, and
them promoted to Finance Officer of the Central Luzon Committee. Alicia
Vergara, a Huk courier, testified that she delivered letters from the
mountains to Teopista Valerio, who was in turn also a courier.
Without considering the close relationship that she had with top Communist
Castro Alejandrino, We are satisfied that she herself was, aside from being a
Huk courier, also a Huk, member of the HMB from 1942 to 1951. As she was
a Communist and at the same time a member of the HMB, and considering
that the HMB was engaged in an uprising to uproot the legitimate
government, there cannot be any question that she was in conspiracy with
the other members of her Party against the constituted government. We
hold, therefore, that the evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that she
is guilty of conspiracy to commit rebellion.
DEFENDANTS NOT INCLUDED IN DECISION
In Crim. Case No. 15841 (G.R. No. L-6025) the charge against Guillermo
Capadocia, Mariano P. Balgos, Alfredo B. Saulo and Jacobo Espino was
dismissed because they have not been apprehended at the time of the trial.

PEOPLE VS. EVANGELISTA, 57 PHIL. 354 AND REPUBLIC ACT NO. 1700,
DISTINGUISHED
In the case at bar the prosecution is for actual rebellion which consists in
rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of
removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of
the Philippines, or any part thereof, etc., a crime defined in Article 134 of the
Revised Penal Code; whereas Evangelista was charged and convicted for
inciting to rebellion under Art. 138, Revised Penal Code (formerly Sec. 2, Act
No. 292). As the specific charge against appellants is that of rising up in
arms in actual rebellion against the Government, they cannot be held guilty
of inciting the people to arms under Article 138, which is a different offense.
On the other hands, Rep. Act 1700, known as the Anti-Subversion Act, which
penalizes membership in any organization or association committed to
subvert the Government, cannot be applied to the appellants because said
Act was approved on June 20, 1957 and was not in force at the time of the
commission of the acts charged against appellants (committed 1945-1950);
the Anti-Subversion Act punishes participation or membership in an
organization committed to overthrow the duly constituted Government, a
crime distinct from that of actual rebellion with which appellants are
charged.
CONCLUSION
WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 15841 (G.R. No. L-6025) defendants-
appellants Amado V. Hernandez, Juan J. Cruz, Amado Racanday and Genaro
de la Cruz are absolved from the charges contained in the information, with
their proportionate share of the costs de oficio. The defendants-appellants
Julian Lumanog and Fermin Rodillas in Criminal Case No. 15841 (G.R. No. L-
6025) and the defendants- appellants Bayani Espiritu and Teopista Valerio in
Criminal Case No. 15479 (G.R. No. L-6026) are hereby found guilty of the
crime of conspiracy to commit rebellion, as defined and punished in Article
136 of the Revised Penal Code, and each and everyone of them is hereby
sentenced to suffer imprisonment for five years, four months and twenty-
one days of prision correccional, and to pay a fine of P5,000.00, with
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay their proportionate
share of the costs. So ordered.
Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Paredes, Dizon
and Makalintal, JJ., concur.
Padilla, Barrera and Regala, JJ., took no part.

IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS. JUAN PONCE


ENRILE, petitioner
vs.
JUDGE JAIME SALAZAR (Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City [Br. 103], SENIOR STATE PROSECUTOR AURELIO
TRAMPE, PROSECUTOR FERDINAND R. ABESAMIS, AND CITY
ASSISTANT CITY PROSECUTOR EULOGIO MANANQUIL, NATIONAL
BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION DIRECTOR ALFREDO LIM, BRIG. GEN.
EDGAR DULA TORRES (Superintendent of the Northern Police
District) AND/ OR ANY AND ALL PERSONS WHO MAY HAVE ACTUAL
CUSTODY OVER THE PERSON OF JUAN PONCE ENRILE, respondents.

SPS. REBECCO E. PANLILIO AND ERLINDA E. PANLILIO, petitioners,


vs.
PROSECUTORS FERNANDO DE LEON, AURELIO C. TRAMPE,
FFRDINAND R. ABESAMIS, AND EULOGIO C. MANANQUIL, and HON.
JAIME W. SALAZAR, JR., in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional
Trial Court, Quezon City, Branch 103, respondents.
G.R. No. 92163 and G.R. No. 92164 | 1990-06-05
EN BANC

NARVASA, J.:
Thirty-four years after it wrote history into our criminal jurisprudence, People vs. Hernandez
1
once more takes center stage as the focus of a confrontation at law that would re-
examine, if not the validity of its doctrine, the limits of its applicability. To be sure, the
intervening period saw a number of similar cases 2 that took issue with the ruling-all with a
marked lack of success-but none, it would Beem, where season and circumstance had more
effectively conspired to attract wide public attention and excite impassioned debate, even
among laymen; none, certainly, which has seen quite the kind and range of arguments that
are now brought to bear on the same question.

The facts are not in dispute. In the afternoon of February 27, 1990, Senate Minority Floor
Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was arrested by law enforcement officers led by Director Alfredo
Lim of the National Bureau of Investigation on the strength of a warrant issued by Hon.
Jaime Salazar of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City Branch 103, in Criminal Case No.
9010941. The warrant had issued on an information signed and earlier that day filed by a
panel of prosecutors composed of Senior State Prosecutor Aurelio C. Trampe, State
Prosecutor Ferdinand R. Abesamis and Assistant City Prosecutor Eulogio Mananquil, Jr.,
charging Senator Enrile, the spouses Rebecco and Erlinda Panlilio, and Gregorio Honasan
with the crime of rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder allegedly committed
during the period of the failed coup attempt from November 29 to December 10, 1990.
Senator Enrile was taken to and held overnight at the NBI headquarters on Taft Avenue,
Manila, without bail, none having been recommended in the information and none fixed in
the arrest warrant. The following morning, February 28, 1990, he was brought to Camp
Tomas Karingal in Quezon City where he was given over to the custody of the
Superintendent of the Northern Police District, Brig. Gen. Edgardo Dula Torres. 3

On the same date of February 28, 1990, Senator Enrile, through counsel, filed the petition
for habeas corpus herein (which was followed by a supplemental petition filed on March 2,
1990), alleging that he was deprived of his constitutional rights in being, or having been:

(a) held to answer for criminal offense which does not exist in the statute books;

(b) charged with a criminal offense in an information for which no complaint was
initially filed or preliminary investigation was conducted, hence was denied due
process;

(c) denied his right to bail; and

(d) arrested and detained on the strength of a warrant issued without the judge who
issued it first having personally determined the existence of probable cause. 4

The Court issued the writ prayed for, returnable March 5, 1990 and set the plea for hearing
on March 6, 1990. 5 On March 5, 1990, the Solicitor General filed a consolidated return 6 for
the respondents in this case and in G.R. No. 92164 7 Which had been contemporaneously
but separately filed by two of Senator Enrile's co-accused, the spouses Rebecco and Erlinda
Panlilio, and raised similar questions. Said return urged that the petitioners' case does not
fall within the Hernandez ruling because-and this is putting it very simply-the information in
Hernandez charged murders and other common crimes committed as a necessary means for
the commission of rebellion, whereas the information against Sen. Enrile et al. charged
murder and frustrated murder committed on the occasion, but not in furtherance, of
rebellion. Stated otherwise, the Solicitor General would distinguish between the complex
crime ("delito complejo") arising from an offense being a necessary means for committing
another, which is referred to in the second clause of Article 48, Revised Penal Code, and is
the subject of the Hernandez ruling, and the compound crime ("delito compuesto") arising
from a single act constituting two or more grave or less grave offenses referred to in the
first clause of the same paragraph, with which Hernandez was not concerned and to which,
therefore, it should not apply.

The parties were heard in oral argument, as scheduled, on March 6, 1990, after which the
Court issued its Resolution of the same date 8 granting Senator Enrile and the Panlilio
spouses provisional liberty conditioned upon their filing, within 24 hours from notice, cash or
surety bonds of P100,000.00 (for Senator Enrile) and P200,000.00 (for the Panlilios),
respectively. The Resolution stated that it was issued without prejudice to a more extended
resolution on the matter of the provisional liberty of the petitioners and stressed that it was
not passing upon the legal issues raised in both cases. Four Members of the Court 9 voted
against granting bail to Senator Enrile, and two 10 against granting bail to the Panlilios.

The Court now addresses those issues insofar as they are raised and litigated in Senator
Enrile's petition, G.R. No. 92163.

The parties' oral and written pleas presented the Court with the following options:

(a) abandon Hernandez and adopt the minority view expressed in the main dissent of
Justice Montemayor in said case that rebellion cannot absorb more serious crimes, and
that under Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code rebellion may properly be complexed
with common offenses, so-called; this option was suggested by the Solicitor General in
oral argument although it is not offered in his written pleadings;

(b) hold Hernandez applicable only to offenses committed in furtherance, or as a


necessary means for the commission, of rebellion, but not to acts committed in the
course of a rebellion which also constitute "common" crimes of grave or less grave
character;

(c) maintain Hernandez as applying to make rebellion absorb all other offenses
committed in its course, whether or not necessary to its commission or in furtherance
thereof.

On the first option, eleven (11) Members of the Court voted against abandoning Hernandez.
Two (2) Members felt that the doctrine should be re-examined. 10-A In the view of the
majority, the ruling remains good law, its substantive and logical bases have withstood all
subsequent challenges and no new ones are presented here persuasive enough to warrant a
complete reversal. This view is reinforced by the fact that not too long ago, the incumbent
President, exercising her powers under the 1986 Freedom Constitution, saw fit to repeal,
among others, Presidential Decree No. 942 of the former regime which precisely sought to
nullify or neutralize Hernandez by enacting a new provision (Art. 142-A) into the Revised
Penal Code to the effect that "(w)hen by reason, or on the occasion, of any of the crimes
penalized in this Chapter (Chapter I of Title 3, which includes rebellion), acts which
constitute offenses upon which graver penalties are imposed by law are committed, the
penalty for the most serious offense in its maximum period shall be imposed upon the
offender."' 11 In thus acting, the President in effect by legislative flat reinstated Hernandez
as binding doctrine with the effect of law. The Court can do no less than accord it the same
recognition, absent any sufficiently powerful reason against so doing.

On the second option, the Court unanimously voted to reject the theory that Hernandez is,
or should be, limited in its application to offenses committed as a necessary means for the
commission of rebellion and that the ruling should not be interpreted as prohibiting the
complexing of rebellion with other common crimes committed on the occasion, but not in
furtherance, thereof. While four Members of the Court felt that the proponents' arguments
were not entirely devoid of merit, the consensus was that they were not sufficient to
overcome what appears to be the real thrust of Hernandez to rule out the complexing of
rebellion with any other offense committed in its course under either of the aforecited
clauses of Article 48, as is made clear by the following excerpt from the majority opinion in
that case:

There is one other reason-and a fundamental one at that-why Article 48 of our Penal Code
cannot be applied in the case at bar. If murder were not complexed with rebellion, and the
two crimes were punished separately (assuming that this could be done), the following
penalties would be imposable upon the movant, namely: (1) for the crime of rebellion, a
fine not exceeding P20,000 and prision mayor, in the corresponding period, depending upon
the modifying circumstances present, but never exceeding 12 years of prision mayor, and
(2) for the crime of murder, reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death, depending
upon the modifying circumstances present. in other words, in the absence of aggravating
circumstances, the extreme penalty could not be imposed upon him. However, under Article
48 said penalty would have to be meted out to him, even in the absence of a single
aggravating circumstance. Thus, said provision, if construed in conformity with the theory of
the prosecution, would be unfavorable to the movant.

Upon the other hand, said Article 48 was enacted for the purpose of favoring the culprit, not
of sentencing him to a penalty more severe than that which would be proper if the several
acts performed by him were punished separately. In the words of Rodriguez Navarro:

La unificacion de penas en los casos de concurso de delitos a que hace referencia este
articulo (75 del Codigo de 1932), esta basado francamente en el principio pro reo.' (II
Doctrina Penal del Tribunal Supremo de Espana, p. 2168.)

We are aware of the fact that this observation refers to Article 71 (later 75) of the
Spanish Penal Code (the counterpart of our Article 48), as amended in 1908 and then
in 1932, reading:

Las disposiciones del articulo anterior no son aplicables en el caso de que un solo
hecho constituya dos o mas delitos, o cuando el uno de ellos sea medio necesario para
cometer el otro.

En estos casos solo se impondra la pena correspondiente al delito mas grave en su


grado maximo, hasta el limite que represents la suma de las que pudieran imponerse,
penando separadamente los delitos.

Cuando la pena asi computada exceda de este limite, se sancionaran los delitos por
separado. (Rodriguez Navarro, Doctrina Penal del Tribunal Supremo, Vol. II, p. 2163)

and that our Article 48 does not contain the qualification inserted in said amendment,
restricting the imposition of the penalty for the graver offense in its maximum period to the
case when it does not exceed the sum total of the penalties imposable if the acts charged
were dealt with separately. The absence of said limitation in our Penal Code does not, to our
mind, affect substantially the spirit of said Article 48. Indeed, if one act constitutes two or
more offenses, there can be no reason to inflict a punishment graver than that prescribed
for each one of said offenses put together. In directing that the penalty for the graver
offense be, in such case, imposed in its maximum period, Article 48 could have had no other
purpose than to prescribe a penalty lower than the aggregate of the penalties for each
offense, if imposed separately. The reason for this benevolent spirit of article 48 is readily
discernible. When two or more crimes are the result of a single act, the offender is deemed
less perverse than when he commits said crimes thru separate and distinct acts. Instead of
sentencing him for each crime independently from the other, he must suffer the maximum
of the penalty for the more serious one, on the assumption that it is less grave than the
sum total of the separate penalties for each offense. 12

The rejection of both options shapes and determines the primary ruling of the Court, which
is that Hernandez remains binding doctrine operating to prohibit the complexing of rebellion
with any other offense committed on the occasion thereof, either as a means necessary to
its commission or as an unintended effect of an activity that constitutes rebellion.

This, however, does not write finis to the case. Petitioner's guilt or innocence is not here
inquired into, much less adjudged. That is for the trial court to do at the proper time. The
Court's ruling merely provides a take-off point for the disposition of other questions relevant
to the petitioner's complaints about the denial of his rights and to the propriety of the
recourse he has taken.

The Court rules further (by a vote of 11 to 3) that the information filed against the
petitioner does in fact charge an offense. Disregarding the objectionable phrasing that
would complex rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated murder, that indictment is to
be read as charging simple rebellion. Thus, in Hernandez, the Court said:

In conclusion, we hold that, under the allegations of the amended information against
defendant-appellant Amado V. Hernandez, the murders, arsons and robberies described
therein are mere ingredients of the crime of rebellion allegedly committed by said
defendants, as means "necessary" (4) for the perpetration of said offense of rebellion; that
the crime charged in the aforementioned amended information is, therefore, simple
rebellion, not the complex crime of rebellion with multiple murder, arsons and robberies;
that the maximum penalty imposable under such charge cannot exceed twelve (12) years of
prision mayor and a fine of P2H,HHH; and that, in conformity with the policy of this court in
dealing with accused persons amenable to a similar punishment, said defendant may be
allowed bail. 13

The plaint of petitioner's counsel that he is charged with a crime that does not exist in the
statute books, while technically correct so far as the Court has ruled that rebellion may not
be complexed with other offenses committed on the occasion thereof, must therefore be
dismissed as a mere flight of rhetoric. Read in the context of Hernandez, the information
does indeed charge the petitioner with a crime defined and punished by the Revised Penal
Code: simple rebellion.

Was the petitioner charged without a complaint having been initially filed and/or preliminary
investigation conducted? The record shows otherwise, that a complaint against petitioner for
simple rebellion was filed by the Director of the National Bureau of Investigation, and that
on the strength of said complaint a preliminary investigation was conducted by the
respondent prosecutors, culminating in the filing of the questioned information. 14 There is
nothing inherently irregular or contrary to law in filing against a respondent an indictment
for an offense different from what is charged in the initiatory complaint, if warranted by the
evidence developed during the preliminary investigation.

It is also contended that the respondent Judge issued the warrant for petitioner's arrest
without first personally determining the existence of probable cause by examining under
oath or affirmation the complainant and his witnesses, in violation of Art. III, sec. 2, of the
Constitution. 15 This Court has already ruled, however, that it is not the unavoidable duty of
the judge to make such a personal examination, it being sufficient that he follows
established procedure by personally evaluating the report and the supporting documents
submitted by the prosecutor. 16 Petitioner claims that the warrant of arrest issued barely one
hour and twenty minutes after the case was raffled off to the respondent Judge, which
hardly gave the latter sufficient time to personally go over the voluminous records of the
preliminary investigation. 17 Merely because said respondent had what some might consider
only a relatively brief period within which to comply with that duty, gives no reason to
assume that he had not, or could not have, so complied; nor does that single circumstance
suffice to overcome the legal presumption that official duty has been regularly performed.

Petitioner finally claims that he was denied the right to bail. In the light of the Court's
reaffirmation of Hernandez as applicable to petitioner's case, and of the logical and
necessary corollary that the information against him should be considered as charging only
the crime of simple rebellion, which is bailable before conviction, that must now be accepted
as a correct proposition. But the question remains: Given the facts from which this case
arose, was a petition for habeas corpus in this Court the appropriate vehicle for asserting a
right to bail or vindicating its denial?

The criminal case before the respondent Judge was the normal venue for invoking the
petitioner's right to have provisional liberty pending trial and judgment. The original
jurisdiction to grant or deny bail rested with said respondent. The correct course was for
petitioner to invoke that jurisdiction by filing a petition to be admitted to bail, claiming a
right to bail per se by reason of the weakness of the evidence against him. Only after that
remedy was denied by the trial court should the review jurisdiction of this Court have been
invoked, and even then, not without first applying to the Court of Appeals if appropriate
relief was also available there.

Even acceptance of petitioner's premise that going by the Hernandez ruling, the information
charges a non-existent crime or, contrarily, theorizing on the same basis that it charges
more than one offense, would not excuse or justify his improper choice of remedies. Under
either hypothesis, the obvious recourse would have been a motion to quash brought in the
criminal action before the respondent Judge. 18

There thus seems to be no question that All the grounds upon which petitioner has founded
the present petition, whether these went into the substance of what is charged in the
information or imputed error or omission on the part of the prosecuting panel or of the
respondent Judge in dealing with the charges against him, were originally justiciable in the
criminal case before said Judge and should have been brought up there instead of directly to
this Court.

There was and is no reason to assume that the resolution of any of these questions was
beyond the ability or competence of the respondent Judge-indeed such an assumption
would be demeaning and less than fair to our trial courts; none whatever to hold them to be
of such complexity or transcendental importance as to disqualify every court, except this
Court, from deciding them; none, in short that would justify by passing established judicial
processes designed to orderly move litigation through the hierarchy of our courts.
Parenthentically, this is the reason behind the vote of four Members of the Court against the
grant of bail to petitioner: the view that the trial court should not thus be precipitately
ousted of its original jurisdiction to grant or deny bail, and if it erred in that matter, denied
an opportunity to correct its error. It makes no difference that the respondent Judge here
issued a warrant of arrest fixing no bail. Immemorial practice sanctions simply following the
prosecutor's recommendation regarding bail, though it may be perceived as the better
course for the judge motu proprio to set a bail hearing where a capital offense is charged. 19
It is, in any event, incumbent on the accused as to whom no bail has been recommended or
fixed to claim the right to a bail hearing and thereby put to proof the strength or weakness
of the evidence against him.
It is apropos to point out that the present petition has triggered a rush to this Court of other
parties in a similar situation, all apparently taking their cue from it, distrustful or
contemptuous of the efficacy of seeking recourse in the regular manner just outlined. The
proliferation of such pleas has only contributed to the delay that the petitioner may have
hoped to avoid by coming directly to this Court.

Not only because popular interest seems focused on the outcome of the present petition,
but also because to wash the Court's hand off it on jurisdictional grounds would only
compound the delay that it has already gone through, the Court now decides the same on
the merits. But in so doing, the Court cannot express too strongly the view that said petition
interdicted the ordered and orderly progression of proceedings that should have started with
the trial court and reached this Court only if the relief appealed for was denied by the
former and, in a proper case, by the Court of Appeals on review.

Let it be made very clear that hereafter the Court will no longer countenance, but will give
short shrift to, pleas like the present, that clearly short-circuit the judicial process and
burden it with the resolution of issues properly within the original competence of the lower
courts. What has thus far been stated is equally applicable to and decisive of the petition of
the Panlilio spouses (G.R. No. 92164) which is virtually Identical to that of petitioner Enrile
in factual milieu and is therefore determinable on the same principles already set forth. Said
spouses have uncontestedly pleaded 20 that warrants of arrest issued against them as co-
accused of petitioner Enrile in Criminal Case No. 90-10941, that when they appeared before
NBI Director Alfredo Lim in the afternoon of March 1, 1990, they were taken into custody
and detained without bail on the strength of said warrants in violation-they claim-of their
constitutional rights.

It may be that in the light of contemporary events, the act of rebellion has lost that
quitessentiany quixotic quality that justifies the relative leniency with which it is regarded
and punished by law, that present-day rebels are less impelled by love of country than by
lust for power and have become no better than mere terrorists to whom nothing, not even
the sanctity of human life, is allowed to stand in the way of their ambitions. Nothing so
underscores this aberration as the rash of seemingly senseless killings, bombings,
kidnappings and assorted mayhem so much in the news these days, as often perpetrated
against innocent civilians as against the military, but by and large attributable to, or even
claimed by so-called rebels to be part of, an ongoing rebellion.

It is enough to give anyone pause-and the Court is no exception-that not even the crowded
streets of our capital City seem safe from such unsettling violence that is disruptive of the
public peace and stymies every effort at national economic recovery. There is an apparent
need to restructure the law on rebellion, either to raise the penalty therefor or to clearly
define and delimit the other offenses to be considered as absorbed thereby, so that it
cannot be conveniently utilized as the umbrella for every sort of illegal activity undertaken
in its name. The Court has no power to effect such change, for it can only interpret the law
as it stands at any given time, and what is needed lies beyond interpretation. Hopefully,
Congress will perceive the need for promptly seizing the initiative in this matter, which is
properly within its province.

WHEREFORE, the Court reiterates that based on the doctrine enunciated in People vs.
Hernandez, the questioned information filed against petitioners Juan Ponce Enrile and the
spouses Rebecco and Erlinda Panlilio must be read as charging simple rebellion only, hence
said petitioners are entitled to bail, before final conviction, as a matter of right. The Court's
earlier grant of bail to petitioners being merely provisional in character, the proceedings in
both cases are ordered REMANDED to the respondent Judge to fix the amount of bail to be
posted by the petitioners. Once bail is fixed by said respondent for any of the petitioners,
the corresponding bail bond flied with this Court shall become functus oficio. No
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Cruz, Gancayco and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Medialdea, J., concurs in G.R. No. 92164 but took no part in G.R. No. 92163.

Cortes and Grio-Aquino, JJ., are on leave.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROLANDO


VALDEZ, accused-appellant.
G.R. No. 127663 | 1999-03-11
DECISION

MELO, J.:

Accused-appellant Rolando Valdez seeks reversal of the judgment of


conviction promulgated by Branch 45 of the Regional Trial Court of the First
Judicial Region stationed in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, on October 24, 1996
sentencing him to death for the complex crime of Multiple Murder with
double Frustrated Murder, and likewise separately sentencing him to suffer
the prison term of reclusion perpetua for the crime of Illegal Possession of
Firearms and Ammunitions (Presidential Decree No. 1866).

The information against accused-appellant, Bernard Castro, and one John


Doe for the complex crime of Multiple Murder with Double Frustrated Murder
charged:

That on or about 8:30 o'clock in the evening of September 17, 1995, at Sitio
Cabaoangan, barangay Nalsian, municipality of Manaoag, province of
Pangasinan, and within and jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said
accused conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another with
intent to kill, and each armed with caliber .30 carbines did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with evident premeditation, abuse of
superior strength and treachery, simultaneously attacked and fired their
caliber .30 carbines at Ramon Garcia, Jr., Jean Marie Garcia, Willy Acosta,
Sandra Montano, William Montano and Randy Tibule while they were on
board a tricycle, on their way to a dance party, hitting them in the different
parts of their bodies which caused the instantaneous death of Ramon Garcia,
Jr., Jean Marie Garcia, Willy Acosta and Sandra Montano, to the damage and
prejudice of their respective heirs, and inflicting fatal injuries to William
Montano and Randy Tibule, in the different parts of their bodies, having thus
performed all the acts which would have produced the crime of murder with
respect to both but which did not by reason of causes independent of the will
of the accused, namely, the able and timely medical assistance given the
said victims William Montano and Randy Tibule, which prevented their death.

Contrary to Article 248 in Relation to Article 48 and Article 6 of the RPC. (pp.
1-2, Record of Crim. Case No. U-8747)

The Information for Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions


pertinently averred:

That on or about 8:30 o'clock in the evening of September 17, 1995 at Sitio
Cabaoangan, Barangay Nalsian, Municipality of Manaoag, province of
Pangasinan and within and jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said
accused, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have in his
possession, custody and control, a firearm, to wit: Caliber .30 carbine without
first having secured the proper license thereof from the authorities and which
he used in committing the offense of multiple murder and double frustrated
murder.

Contrary to Presidential Decree 1866. (p. 1, Record of Crim. Case No. U-8749)

The inculpatory facts adduced by the prosecution during trial are succinctly
summarized in the People's brief as follows:

On September 17, 1995, at around 8:00 in the evening, William Montano (16
years old), Randy Tibule (17 years old), Jean Marie Garcia, Willie Acosta,
Sandra Montano and Ramon Garcia, Jr., were at the house of Randy Tibule in
Manaoag, Pangasinan. They were discussing how to go to the wedding party
of Jean Marie's cousin in Sitio Cabaoangan (TSN June 11, 1996, pp. 7-8; June
18, 1996, pp. 23-24).

After discussion, they rode in the tricycle driven by Ramon Garcia going to
Cabaoangan. Behind Garcia were Tibule and Willie. Jean was seated inside
the side car with Sandra and William Montano (TSN June 11, 1996, pp. 7-11;
TSN June 18,1996, pp. 23-25).

After making a turn along the barangay road leading to Sitio Cabaoangan,
they met appellant Rolando Valdez and his companions who were armed with
guns. The tricycle's headlight flashed on their faces. Without warning, they
pointed their guns and fired at Montano's group. Thereafter, after uttering
the words, "nataydan, mapan tayon" (They are already dead. Let us go),
Valdez and companions left (TSN June 11,1996, pp. 11-14).

The shooting incident left Ramon Garcia, Jean Marie Garcia, Sandra Montano
and Willie Acosta dead (TSN June 11, 1996, pp. 14-16). They sustained the
following injuries:
Jean Marie Garcia:

- gunshot wound .5 cm. in diameter, 1 inch lateral of the nipple right through
and through trajecting the middle lobe of the lungs, rt ventricle of the heart,
middle lobe of the lung, left with point of exit 1 inch in diameter 1 inch lateral
of the nipple, left.

(Exhibit B)

Ramon Garcia:

- gunshot wound, .5 cm. diameter point of entrance ear canal thru and thru
trajecting the skull brain substance with point of exit temporal area right.

- Another gunshot wound .5 cm. in diameter point of entrance anterior


axilliary line left at the lable nipple trajecting the lung (left) heart ventricle
and lung (right) with point of exit 1 cm. in diameter, 1 inch lateral the nipple
right.

(Exhibit C)

Sandra Montano:

- gunshot wound .6 cm. in diameter, point of entrance at the temporal area


left, penetrating the skin, skull minigas, brain substance (right) (tempral
regis) where the slug lodge.

(Exhibit D)

Willie Acosta:

- gunshot wound, .5 cm. in diameter below coastal arch point of entrance


trajecting the upper 3rd of the stomach thru and thru trajecting the upper
third of the stomach of thoracic vein with the point of exit 1 cm. in diameter
at the level of the 7th thorasic vertebrae.

(Exhibit E)

On the other hand, William Montano and Randy Tibule survived the attack.
They suffered serious gunshot injuries that could have caused their death
were it not for the timely medical attention given them (TSN July 3, 1996, p.
6). Montano sustained several gunshot wounds on the left arm, two on the
left upper back, another on the left shoulder and middle right finger (TSN
June 25, 1996, p. 608). Tibule sustained two gunshot wounds, one at the fifth
upper quadrant (stomach) and the other at the left periumbelical (TSN July 3,
1996, pp. 7-8).

(pp. 215-219, Rollo.)

In its decision dated October 24, 1996, the trial court rendered a judgment of
conviction in the two cases, finding and disposing:

IN CRIMINAL CASE NO. U-8747: --

the accused ROLANDO VALDEZ y LIPURDA, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt


of the crime of MULTIPLE MURDER WITH DOUBLE FRUSTRATED MURDER
defined and penalized under Republic Act No. 7659 otherwise known as the
Heinous Crime Law, the offense having been a complex crime the penalty of
which is in the maximum, and with the attendant aggravating circumstances
of evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength, hereby sentences
him the ultimum supplicum of DEATH to be executed pursuant to Republic
Act No. 8177 known as the Lethal Injection Law, to pay the heirs of the
deceased RAMON GARCIA, JR., WILLIE ACOSTA, JEMARIE GARCIA and SANDRA
MONTANO and RANDY TIBULE, as follows:

1). To the heirs of the deceased Ramon Garcia, jr.:

a) P 50,000 as indemnity

b) P 52,116.00 as actual damages

c) P 500,000.00 as moral damages

2). To the heirs of the deceased WILLIE ACOSTA"

a) P 50,000 as indemnitylex

b) P 26,358.00 as actual damages

c) P 500,000.00 as moral damages

3) To the heirs of the deceased JEMARIE GARCIA:

a) P 50,000 as indemnity

b) P 500,000.00 as moral damages

4) To the heirs of the deceased Sandra Montano:


a) P 50,000 as indemnity

b) P 48,269.80 as actual damages

c) P 500,000.00 as moral damages

5) To the victim WILLIAM MONTANO:

a) P 39,133.92 as actual damages

b) P 100,000.00 as moral damages

6) To the victim RANDY TIBULE:

a) P 36,233.65 as actual damages

b) P 100,000.00 as moral damages

and to pay the costs.

WITH RESPECT TO CRIMINAL CASE NO. U-8749: --

the accused ROLANDO VALDEZ y LIPURDA GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt


of the crime of ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF FIREARM AND AMMUNITIONS
(Presidential Decree No. 1866) and hereby sentences him to suffer
imprisonment of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to pay the costs.

Finally, it is said: "Dura lex, sed lex," translated as: "The law is harsh, but
that is the law!"

SO ORDERED.

(pp. 180-181, Rollo.)

Hence, the instant review, with accused-appellant anchoring his plea for
reversal on the following assigned errors:

I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED FAILING TO CONSIDER THE MATERIAL,


SUBSTANTIAL, IMPORTANT AND SIGNIFICANT, DISCREPANCIES IN THE
AFFIDAVITS OF PROSECUTION WITNESSES AND THEIR TESTIMONIES IN
COURT;
II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE RECANTATIONS OF
PROSECUTION WITNESSES;

III. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER THE SERIOUS DOUBTS
ON THE IDENTITY OF ACCUSED, ROLANDO VALDEZ AS THE GUNMAN;

IV. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO CONSIDER MOTIVE ON THE PART
OF BERNARDO CASTRO TO FIRE AT, AS HE ACTUALLY FIRED AT THE
OCCUPANTS OF MOTORIZED TRICYCLE;

V. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO APPRECIATE AGAINST THE


PROSECUTION ITS DELIBERATE FAILURE TO PRESENT THE POLICE
INVESTIGATORS WHO INVESTIGATED THE INCIDENT AND IT WAS THE
DEFENSE WHICH PRESENTED SAID POLICE INVESTIGATORS;

VI. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DECLARING THAT ACCUSED ROLANDO


VALDEZ DID NOT DENY THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM FOR VIOLATION OF
P.D. 1866 BECAUSE HE DID NOT ALLEGEDLY TOUCHED IT IN HIS
MEMORANDUM.

(pp. 106-107, Rollo)

After a painstaking review of the record and a deliberate consideration of the


arguments of accused-appellant, the Court does not find enough basis to
reverse.

Accused-appellant claims that the trial court erred in failing to consider what
he says are material, substantial, important and significant discrepancies
between the affidavits of prosecution witnesses and their testimonies in
court. Accused-appellant points to the Statement of William Montano, taken
by SPO1 Mario Suratos on September 20, 1995 (Exhibit 1: p. 238, Record),
and the Statement taken on September 24, 1995 (Exhibit 4: p. 291, Record),
both in Villaflor Hospital, Dagupan City where William Montano specifically
named Bernard Castro as the person who flagged down the motorized
tricycle he and the other victims were riding. This, he claims, is inconsistent
with his testimony during the trial where he stated:

ATTY. RANCHEZ:

Q. Now, were you able to reach Sitio Cabauangan, Nalsiam, Manaoag,


Pangasinan?
A. No, sir.

Q. Why?
A. When we were entering the road at Sitio Cabauangan at around ten to
fifteen meters, somebody plugged (sic) down the tricycle, sir.

Q. And what happened next after somebody plugged (sic) down your
tricycle?
A. Somebody standing was lighted by the headlight of our motorcycle, sir.

Q. Now, what happened next, if any?


A. The one who was standing and was lighted with the headlight was
immediately recognized by me, sir.

Q Who was that person whom you saw and you immediately recognized?
A. That one, sir.

ACTG. INTERPRETER:

Witness pointing to a person wearing white t-shirt seated at the bench for
the accused, and when asked his name, he gave his name as Rolando
Valdez. (pp. 11-12, tsn, June 11, 1996)

We are not persuaded.

In his Statements dated September 20, 1995 (Exhibit 1) and September 24,
1995 (Exhibit 4), William Montano pointed to Bernard Castro as the person
who flagged down the motorized tricycle ridden by the victims. On November
8, 1995, William and his co-victim/survivor Randy Tibule executed a
"Pinagsamang Salaysay sa Pag-uurong ng Demanda" where they disclaimed
having seen Bernard Castro at the scene of the crime. They declared that
after a more thorough consideration of what transpired, they have realized
that the filing of the complaint against Bernard Castro was a mistake and the
result of misunderstanding or misapprehension of what actually happened. In
his testimony in court, William, however, identified accused-appellant as the
person illuminated by the headlight of the tricycle, for which reason William
readily recognized him. We, therefore, find nothing inconsistent between his
declarations during the investigation and his testimony in court. The lack of
precision with which he distinguished between the person who flagged down
the tricycle and the other person who he recognized because of the
headlight of the tricycle cannot be considered as inconsistency at all. The
same holds true with claimed discrepancies between the statements of
Randy Tibule during the investigation and his testimony in court.

Accused-appellant stubbornly insists that following the withdrawal or


retraction of the accusation of several witnesses against Bernard Castro,
these same witnesses' accusation against accused-appellant becomes
doubtful.
We are not convinced.

In all the references by accused-appellant in pages 10-12 of his brief to the


sworn declarations of prosecution witnesses made during the investigation of
the case, Bernard Castro may have indeed been identified and named as one
of the gunmen. It may readily be noted in these very same references,
however, that all these prosecution witnesses referred to two other
companions, then unidentified, of Bernard Castro. Even in the Joint Affidavit
(Exhibit "7") referred to in page 11 of the brief, the police investigators
categorically referred to "Bernard Castro y Nazareno, alias Toti as one of the
suspects or assailants involved in the shooting incident" (p. 112, Rollo). The
logical conclusion that may be drawn therefrom is that there is at least one
other assailant in addition to Bernard Castro, and as it developed, accused-
appellant was subsequently and positively named as such. Withal, we cannot
subscribe to accused-appellant's ratiocination that if the witnesses pointed to
Bernard Castro as one of the perpetrators of the crime, then it follows that
accused-appellant cannot be one other and additional perpetrator anymore.
Accused-appellant's reasoning on this point is absolutely flawed. It is totally
unacceptable.

Accused-appellant likewise seeks shelter in the mysterious withdrawal of the


victims' charges against Bernard Castro. He insinuates that such recantation
should not have been given any consideration. But, this is water under the
bridge. Anyway, even in the remotest possibility that the retraction of the
accusation against Bernard Castro may be reversed, it does not get accused-
appellant off the hook. Considering that accused-appellant had himself been
positively identified, together with Bernard Castro, as one of the other
perpetrators of the crime, his conviction may still stand independently and
regardless of whether or not Castro is indicted or remains unprosecuted.

Accused-appellant further argues that it is not he but Castro who had the
motive to shoot and fire at the occupants of the motorized tricycle, mistaking
one of the occupants thereof for Isidro Capistrano, Castro's former classmate
and with whom he earlier had an altercation. It is very clear in his brief,
however, that accused-appellant predicates this argument on the mistaken
premise that he was not positively identified in the case at bar although he
admits that it is established that he was at the scene of the crime (p. 114,
Rollo). This argument will not hold simply because it is settled that accused-
appellant had been positively identified by eyewitnesses and victims William
Montano and Randy Tibule. It is basic and fundamental rule that proof of
motive is necessary for conviction only when there is doubt as to the identity
of the accused, not when accused has been positively identified as in the
present case (People vs. Caggaunan, 94 Phil. 118 [1953]; People vs. Realon,
99 SCRA 422 [1980]; People vs. Pano, 257 SCRA 274 [1996]). Besides, it is
also to be noted that lack of motive for committing the crime does not
preclude conviction, considering that, nowadays, it is a matter of judicial
knowledge that persons have killed or committed serious offense for no
reason at all (People vs. Cabodoc, 263 SCRA 187 [1996]).

Accused-appellant further contends that the prosecution's deliberate and


intentional failure to present the investigating police officers and their Joint
Affidavit (Exhibit "7") constitutes culpable suppression of evidence which, if
duly taken into account, will merit his acquittal.

The argument is puerile, simply because the defense itself was able to
present the police officers, and exhibit "7" (p. 116, Rollo). It is to be further
noted that as earlier pointed out, the declaration of SPO1 Suratos and SPO1
Carbonel did not categorically rule out the possibility of convicting other
persons as co-principals of Castro. On the contrary, it is clear from such
affidavit that there was more than just one perpetrator of the crime. It even
confirms and corroborates the eyewitness accounts of William Montano and
Randy Tibule pointing to accused-appellant as one of the other companions
of Castro.

After meticulously and carefully going through each and every piece of
evidence on record, the Court finds no reason to depart from the trial court's
accord of credence to the eyewitness accounts of William Montano and
Randy Tibule who positively identified accused-appellant as one of the
persons who shot and fired at them and their companions that fateful night.
We agree with the trial court that the evidence points beyond reasonable
doubt that accused-appellant was one of those principally responsible for the
deaths of the four victims in this case and the wounding of two others. There
is also sufficient evidence that the aggravating circumstance of treachery
attended the killings, thus, qualifying the same to murder.

Under paragraph 16, Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code, the qualifying
circumstance of treachery is present when the offender employs means,
methods, or forms in the execution of the crime which tend directly and
especially to ensure its execution without risk to himself arising from any
defensive or retaliatory act which the victim might make (People vs. Santos,
270 SCRA 650 [1997]). The settled rule is that treachery can exist even if the
attack is frontal if it is sudden and unexpected, giving the victim no
opportunity to repel it or depend himself against such attack. What is
decisive is that the execution of the attack, without slightest provocation
from the victim who is unarmed, made it impossible for the victim to defend
himself or to retaliate (People vs. Javier, 269 SCRA 181 [1997]).

The trial court ruled that evident premeditation is likewise present. After
reviewing the evidence, however, we do not find any showing of evident
premeditation on the part of accused-appellant. While there may be
testimonial evidence pointing to an altercation between Bernard Castro and
a certain Capistrano, it does sufficiently prove the attendance of the
aggravating circumstance of evident premeditation. It is not enough that
evident premeditation is suspected or surmised, but criminal intent must be
evidenced by notorious outward acts evidencing determination to commit
the crime. In order to be considered an aggravation of the offense, the
circumstance must not merely be "premeditation"; it must be "evident
premeditation" (People vs. Torejas, 43 SCRA 158 [1972]).

To establish the existence of evident premeditation, the following have to be


prove: (1) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime; (2)
an act manifestly indicating that the offender had clung to his determination;
and (3) sufficient lapse of time between the determination and the execution
to allow the offender to reflect on the consequences of his act (People vs.
Juan, 254 SCRA 478 [1996]).

Establishing a basis or motive for the commission of the crime does not
constitute sufficient ground to consider the existence of evident
premeditation. At best, it may indicate the time when the offenders
determined to commit the crime (the first element). Their act of arming
themselves with caliber .30 carbines and thereafter waiting for their
supposed victims at ambush positions may have also indicated that they
clung to their determination to commit the crime (the second element). More
important that these two elements is the proof that a sufficient period of
time had lapsed between the outward act evidencing intent and actual
commission of the offense (the third element). There must have been
enough opportunity for the initial impulse to subside. This element is
indispensable for circumstance of evident premeditation to aggravate the
crime. In People vs. Canial, 46 SCRA 134 [1972], this Court reiterates:

In other words, this circumstance can be taken into account only when there
had been a cold and deep meditation, and a tenacious persistence in the
accomplishment of the criminal act. There must be 'an opportunity to coolly
and serenely think and deliberate on the meaning and the consequences of
what they had planned to do, an interval long enough for the conscience and
better judgment to overcome the evil desire and scheme. (p. 649)

As early as in People vs. Durante, 53 Phil. 363 [1929], the Court had stressed
the importance of sufficient time between the criminal act and the resolution
to carry out the criminal intent, affording such opportunity for cool thought
and reflection to arrive at a calm judgment. Obviously, this element is
wanting in the case at bar. Right after the supposed heated argument
between Bernard Castro and Capistrano, Castro and company went home to
get the firearms and not long thereafter mounted the assault. There was no
chance for the anger to subside. The culprits in the case at bar had no
opportunity for cool thought and reflection to arrive at a calm judgment.
The other aggravating circumstance considered by the trial court is that of
abuse of superior strength. This contravenes the very basic and elementary
doctrine in our jurisdiction that the aggravating circumstance of abuse of
superior strength is absorbed in treachery (People vs. Mobe, 81 Phil. 58
[1948]; People vs. Nierra, 96 SCRA 1 [1980]; People vs. Torrefiel, 256 SCRA
369 [1996]).

Notwithstanding the absence of any aggravating circumstances, if we were


to uphold the trial courts' premises on the complex nature of the crime
committed, the death sentence, being the maximum penalty for murder,
would still have been the imposable penalty under Article 48 of the Revised
Penal Code. The Court however, finds compelling reasons to reduce the
sentence from one death penalty (for the complex crime of multiple murder
with double frustrated murder) and one reclusion perpetua (for the complex
crime of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions) to four counts of
reclusion perpetua (for 4 murders) and two indeterminate sentences of
prision mayor to reclusion temporal (for the 2 frustrated murders).

The recommendation of the Solicitor General in the People's brief that


accused-appellant should instead be convicted of four counts of murder and
two counts of frustrated murder is well taken.

The trial court erred when it allowed itself to be carried away by the
erroneous Information filed by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of
Pangasinan charging the complex crime of multiple murder and double
frustrated murder (p. 1, Record: Crim. Case No. U-8747). It may be noted
that in his Resolution dated September 26, 1995, the investigating municipal
trial court judge of Manaoag, Pangasinan, found a prima facie case for four
separate counts of murder (pp. 101- 102, Ibid.) Too, the same investigating
judge in his Resolution dated October 31, 1995 found a prima facie case for
two counts of frustrated murder (pp. 43-44, Ibid.). It was upon reinvestigation
by the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pangasinan that a case for the
complex crime of murder with double frustrated murder was instead filed per
its Joint Resolution dated November 17, 1995 (pp. 4-6, Ibid.).

The concept of a complex crime is defined in Article 48 of the Revised Penal


Code, to wit:

ART. 48. Penalty for complex crimes - When a single act constitutes two or
more grave or less grave felonies or when an offense is a necessary means
for committing the other, the penalty for the most serious crime shall be
imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period. (As amended by Act
No. 4000.)

The case at bar does not fall under any of the two instances defined above.
The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Pangasinan erroneously considered
the case as falling under the first. It is clear from the evidence on record,
however, that the four crimes of murder resulted not from a single act but
from several individual and distinct acts. For one thing, the evidence
indicates that there was more than one gunman involved, and the act of
each gunman is distinct from that of the other. It cannot be said therefore,
that there is but a single act of firing a single firearm. There were also
several empty bullet shells recovered from the scene of the crime. This
confirms the fact that several shots were fired. Furthermore, considering the
relative positions of the gunmen and their victims, some of whom were riding
the motorized tricycle itself while the others were seated inside the sidecar
thereof, it was absolutely impossible for the four victims to have been hit and
killed by a single bullet. Each act by each gunman pulling the trigger of their
respective firearms, aiming each particular moment at different persons
constitute distinct and individual acts which cannot give rise to the complex
crime of multiple murder. We therefore rule that accused-appellant is guilty,
not of a complex crime of multiple murder, but of four counts of murder for
the death of the four victims in this case. In the same manner, accused-
appellant is likewise held guilty for two counts of frustrated murder.

Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, provides the penalty of
reclusion perpetua to death for the crime of murder. Without any mitigating
or aggravating circumstance attendant in the commission of the crime, the
medium penalty is the lower indivisible penalty or reclusion perpetua. In the
case at bar, accused-appellant, being guilty of four separate counts of
murder, the proper penalty should be four sentences of reclusion perpetua.
In addition, he being guilty of two counts of frustrated murder, accused-
appellant must be meted out an indeterminate sentence ranging from a
minimum of 6 years and 1 day of prision mayor to a maximum of 12 years
and 1 day of reclusion temporal for each offense.

Now, to the matter of accused-appellant's conviction for illegal possession of


unlicensed firearm under Presidential Decree No. 1866. It was recently held
in the case entitled People vs. Molina (G.R.No. 115835-36, July 22, 1998), and
reiterated in People vs. Feloteo (G.R. No. 124212, September 17, 1998), that
there can be no separate conviction of the crime of illegal possession of
firearms under Presidential Decree No. 1866 in view of the amendments
introduced by Republic Act No. 8294.

Instead, illegal possession of firearms is merely to be taken as an


aggravating circumstance per Section 1 of Republic Act No. 8294, which in
part, provides:

If homicide or murder is committed with the use of unlicensed firearm, such


use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an aggravating
circumstance.
Republic Act No. 8294 took effect on July 6, 1997, fifteen days after its
publication on June 21, 1997. The crimes involved in the case at bar were
committed on September 17, 1995. As in the case of any penal law, the
provisions of Republic Act No. 8294 will generally have prospective
application. In cases, however, where the new law will be advantageous to
the accused, the law may be given retroactive application (Article 22,
Revised Penal Code). Insofar as it will spare accused-appellant in the case at
bar from a separate conviction for the crime of illegal possession of firearms,
Republic Act No. 8294 may be given retroactive application in Criminal Case
No. U-8749 (for Illegal Possession of Firearm) subject of this present review.

As a word of caution, however, the dismissal of the present case for illegal
possession of firearm should not be misinterpreted as meaning that there
can no longer be any prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of
firearm. In general, all pending cases involving illegal possession of firearm
should continue to be prosecuted and tried if no other crimes expressly
indicated in Republic Act No. 8294 are involved (murder or homicide under
Section 1, and rebellion, insurrection, sedition or attempted coup d'etat
under Section 3).

However, the use of an unlicensed firearm in the case at bar cannot be


considered as a special aggravating circumstance in Criminal Case No. U-
8747 (for Complex Crime of Multiple Murder), also under review herein,
because it will unduly raise the penalty for the four counts of murder from
four reclusion perpetua to that of four-fold death. Insofar as this particular
provision of Republic Act No. 8294 is not beneficial to accused-appellant
because it unduly aggravates the crime, this new law will not be given
retroactive application, lest it might acquire the character of an ex-post facto
law.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision with respect to Criminal


Case No. U-8747 is hereby MODIFIED. Accused-appellant is found guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of four counts of murder and hereby sentenced to
suffer the penalty of four sentences of reclusion perpetua. He is also found
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two counts of frustrated murder and
hereby meted two indeterminate sentences, each, ranging from 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. The appealed judgment relating
to the civil liabilities of accused-appellant towards the six victims is
AFFIRMED.

Criminal Case No. U-8749 involving Presidential Decree No. 1866 is hereby
dismissed.

No special pronouncement is made as to costs.


SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Romero, Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Quisumbing,


Purisima, Pardo, Buena, and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur.
Mendoza and Panganiban, JJ., in the result.