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PEOPLE VS ADALLOM

This is a review on appeal of the Decision[1] dated July 31, 2007 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00365, which affirmed in toto the
Decision[2] dated December 15, 2003 by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
76, Quezon City, in Criminal Case Nos. Q-01-105875 and Q-01-105877, finding
accused-appellant Noel T. Adallom guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of
murder and attempted murder.

Accused-appellant was originally charged with two (2) counts of murder and
one (1) count of attempted murder under the following Informations:

Criminal Case No. Q-01-105875

That on or about the 28th day of October 2001, in Quezon City,


Philippines, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating with two
other persons whose true names and other personal circumstances have
not as yet been ascertained and mutually helping one another, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, qualified
with evident premeditation and treachery, taking advantage of superior
strength, assault, attack and employ personal violence upon the person of
DANILO VILLAREAL y ESPIRAS by then and there shooting him with
the use of a firearm hitting him on the different parts of his body, thereby
inflicting upon him serious and mortal gunshot wounds which were the
direct and immediate cause of his untimely death, to the damage and
prejudice of the heirs of said Danilo Villareal y Espiras.[3]

Criminal Case No. Q-01-105876

That on or about the 28th day of October 2001, in Quezon City,


Philippines, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating with two
other persons whose true names and other personal circumstances have
not as yet been ascertained and mutually helping one another, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill, qualified
with evident premeditation and treachery, taking advantage of superior
strength, assault, attack and employ personal violence upon the person of
ROMMEL HINA by then and there shooting him with the use of a firearm
hitting the latter on the head, thereby inflicting upon him serious and
mortal gunshot wound which was the direct and immediate cause of his
untimely death, to the damage and prejudice of the heirs of said Rommel
Hina.[4]

Criminal Case No. Q-01-105877

That on or about the 28th day of October [2001], in Quezon City,


Philippines, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating with two
other persons whose true names and identities have not as yet been
ascertained and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, qualified
with evident premeditation, treachery and taking advantage of superior
strength, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
commence the commission of the crime of murder directly by overt acts,
by then and there shooting one BABELITO E. VILLAREAL with the use
of a firearm but said accused were not able to perform all the acts of
execution which should produce the crime of murder by reason of some
cause or accident other than their own spontaneous desistance, that is
complainant was able to ran away, to the damage and prejudice of the said
offended party.[5]

When arraigned on January 15, 2002, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty to


the charges against him.[6]

At the pre-trial conference on January 29, 2002, the parties stipulated only as
to the deaths of Danilo Villareal (Danilo) and Rommel Hina (Rommel).[7]

Thereafter, trial ensued.

The prosecution presented four witnesses, namely: Babelito Villareal


(Babelito),[8] Danilos brother who survived the shooting; Janita Villareal
(Janita),[9] Danilos wife; Dr. Joselito Rodrigo (Joselito),[10] the Chief Medico Legal
of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory who examined Danilos
cadaver; and Diorito Coronas, Jr. (Diorito),[11] who was present at the time and place
of the shooting.

Below are the testimonies of Babelito and Diorito as summarized by the RTC:
Prosecution witness Babelito Villareal, a construction worker and
residing at 120 Senatorial Road, Barangay Batasan Hills, Quezon City,
testified that he was with his brother, Danilo, and Rommel Hina, a
neighbor, towards midnight of October 27, 2001 in front of the store of
his sister, Nanieta. His house was just across the street. They were
drinking beer but ran out of it. Danilo asked Rommel Hina to buy
cigarettes from a nearby store because their sisters store was already
closed. When Hina returned, they stayed in the same place. Babelito had
his back against the wall fronting the road while he was facing his brothers
back. Hina was on his right side. Soon a tricycle with its lights out and its
engine turned off, arrived. It was still moving because the road was on a
downward slope. He saw Noel Adallom alight from the sidecar. Adallom
was with Johnwayne Lindawan and a tricycle driver. After Adallom
alighted, he fired his carbine. There was a successive burst of gunfire and
Adallom was saying, Ano? Ano? His brother went down and Rommel
Hina was moaning. The tricycle came from his left side. When Adallom
fired his gun, Danilo turned his head and tried to run but he was hit at the
back. He himself, when he saw the gunfire just closed his eyes and leaned
against the wall and turned his head to the right and moved his leg
downward just waiting for what would happen next.When his brother and
Rommel fell, the firing stopped and when he turned his head, he noticed
that Adallom upon seeing him alive, again fired successive shots and then
he heard, tak-tak. The gun must have jammed then he heard another burst
of gunfire, rat-tat-tat. He sought cover beside a vehicle and ran. He
showed some pictures and pointed to the place he testified on (see Exhibit
A). There were bullet marks shown in the pictures (Exhibit B). He ran to
an alley and then he went back to Senatorial Road where the incident
happened and saw people milling around. His brother was already dead
while Rommel Hina was rushed to the hospital. Noel Adallom, a long time
resident of their place is the cousin of the husband of his sister while
Johnwayne Lindawan is the son of his brother-in-law. During the wake of
his brother, he saw Johnwayne with a new haircut. Adallom also had a
new haircut. They used to have long hair prior to the incident. Both of
them were sporting army cut. He tried to watch Adalloms movements. He
saw him fixing the gate of his house and when he could not take it anymore
he told Jeanette, the wife of his brother Danilo Villareal, that what
Adallom was doing was very insulting. He did not give any statement to
the police because there was still the wake and he wanted to consult
Jeanette who was very confused. He knows that it is hard to fight an
Ifugao. After the funeral, he told his siblings about the incident. They
decided to have Adallom arrested. His Ate Jeanette went to Station 6 but
the police were not cooperative and he was losing heart. On November
19, 2001, he saw Adallom alight in front of his house. He asked his
siblings to go to the barangay hall while he waited for Adallom because
he might leave. When the barangay people came, they picked him up and
informed him about the complaint against him. Adallom was detained at
the barangay hall and taken at Station 6. Babelito executed a sinumpaang
salaysay marked Exhibit C.

On cross examination, among others, he said that Adalloms house


is just near the eskinita. The following day when he saw Adallom sporting
a new haircut, he tried to keep track of his movements. He did that for
several days. He was shown a sketch marked as Exhibit D for the
prosecution and said, the house of his sister was along Senatorial Road at
the corner of an alley in Avocado Street. After Adallom alighted from the
tricycle, he positioned himself before he fired the shots. When Babelito
returned to the scene of the incident, he instructed some people to bring
Rommel Hina to the hospital. He saw Agustin Adallom and Anderson
Tuguinay that night. He saw Adalloms wife by the gate of their house. He
did not see Noel Adallom after the incident. The police investigators came
to the scene and he went with them to the Criminal Investigation Unit. The
investigator was Lawa-Lawa. When he was about to give a statement at
the Criminal Investigation Unit, Nathaniel Hina, the father of Rommel
appeared and he was telling a different story. Nathaniel was a usual
drinking companion of Noel Adallom. Immediately prior to the incident,
Rommels father was coming down from the tricycle with some
companions, the barkada of Noel Adallom, he passed by the eskinita and
took a look at them. That was before the tricycle with Adallom as
passenger passed by. At the police precinct Rommels father was saying
that it was another Ifugao, a certain Hubert who was responsible for the
shooting. Because of this incident with the father of Rommel, he did not
give a statement. He reiterated that he saw his brother hit as he was slowly
moving his head and then he closed his eyes. After the first burst of gunfire
it stopped for a while. When the gunman saw him, he raised his gun again
and pointed it at him then he heard, pak. It did not fire then he heard
successive shots. He saw Adallom with the carbine only that night but he
knew that his family has a carbine. He was shown a photograph marked
Exhibit 2 depicting the wall of his sister Nanettes store marked as Exhibits
A and B.There were no chairs in front of the store even when they were
drinking. He was there first before Danilo and Rommel arrived. There
were also two women who came thirty (30) minutes prior to the incident
Danilo and Rommel had been drinking in front of his house. When they
arrived, they gave him a bottle of beer to drink. And then, Danilo asked
Rommel to buy cigarettes at Andersons store. The father of Rommel
arrived and stared at them, just as Rommel arrived. He knows that
Nathaniel gave a statement at the police station. Although in his affidavit
he also mentioned Johnwayne Lindawan, the police have not arrested
him. Lindawan also alighted from the back of the tricycle driver and he
stood by the side of the road. He could not identify the tricycle driver.

Diorito Coronas, Jr., a billiard player by profession, usually


played at the billiard hall near the house of Noel Adallom in Sarep
Street on the right side going up the road. On October 28, 2001,
about midnight, he was at the videoke bar, his usual hang out in Sitio 6
going towards Talanay. While there, he heard gunfire so he immediately
went near a parked vehicle in front of the videoke bar. When he tried to
investigate, he saw three persons fall to the ground (Bumulagta noong
pinagbabaril). Two of them were already down and the third one stood up
and ran even as the gunman continued firing. He identified the man who
ran away as Babelito Villareal (Samboy). It was Noel Adallom whom he
saw carrying the firearm which he described as a little less than 2 feet,
shooting the three men. He saw Adalloms companion and a third one who
was manning the tricycle. The place of the incident was well lighted but
from where he was standing, the light came only from the videoke
bar. Then he noticed a yellow tricycle without any plate number moving
toward his direction while the two other guys went to the opposite
direction going upward.When he saw that they left, he immediately
approached the two men lying down. He identified one of them as
Rommel who was still moaning. He became apprehensive that someone
might see him and his family might be involved. He ran toward his
house. He identified three sets of pictures marked Exhibits A and B. He
pointed to the place where the three guys who were shot at were
positioned.

On cross examination, Coronas identified the owner of the videoke


bar as Anderson Tuguinay.[12]

Janita, when she took the witness stand, detailed the expenses incurred for the
funeral and burial of her husband, Danilo.

Dr. Joselito reported that as a result of his autopsy examination of Danilos


body, he had determined that Danilo died from hemorrhagic shock due to multiple
gunshot wounds. There were six gunshot wounds in Danilos trunk and lower
extremities. All points of entry were at Danilos back. There were five exit wounds
at the front portion of Danilos body while one slug was recovered in Danilos
liver. Dr. Joselito submitted the recovered slug for ballistic examination. Dr. Joselito
further elaborated on his findings during his cross-examination:

On cross examination, among others, he stated that the autopsy was


conducted on October 28, 2001 at around 11:30 a.m. The abrasion on the
victims right acromial region was caused by friction of the skin on a rough
hard surface. Gunshot wound no. 1 was directed anteriorwards, upwards
and lateralwards meaning it came from the back, traveled upwards from
the center towards the sides. Its point of entry was 10 cm. from the
posterior midline while the point of exit was 20 cm. from the posterior
midline. The point of entry of gunshot wound No. 2 (depicted as POE No.
1 in Exhibit J) is 4 cm. from the posterior midline and exited 6 cm. from
the anterior midline. The bullet traversed from the rear to the front going
to the right side of the cadaver. The third gunshot wounds point of entry
is at the right infrascapular region end exited also on the right side of the
chest but more towards the outer portion. The fourth gunshot wounds
point of entry is on the left side, back to front, lateralwards meaning from
center or near the center towards the most outer part of the left side of the
body. The entrance and exit wound were on the same level. It is superficial
wound meaning it did not enter the peritonial cavity. The fifth gunshot
wound was directed anteriorwards, downwards and
medialwards. Anteriorward means from the back, it is noted downwards
towards the foot while medialwards is towards the center. The sixth and
final gunshot wound was sustained at the right buttocks directed
anteriorwards, upwards and lateralwards, meaning from the back upwards
going to the head and lateralwards, meaning from the center to the outer
side of the cadaver. Since the entrance wounds were at the back of the
cadaver, assuming the victim was not moving, the assailant or muzzle of
the gun was at the back of the victim. Except for the fourth gunshot wound
which entered and exited at the same level and the fifth gunshot wound
which was downwards, all the other gunshot wounds were directed
upwards. If the victim was in a sitting position at the time he sustained the
wounds with an upward trajectory, he would probably be in a ducking
position, hence the upward trajectory. If the victim was stationary at the
time he was shot, it is possible the assailant was moving but the most
probable explanation for the differences in the level of the points of entry
in relation to the points of exit of the wounds is that the victim moved as
a result of the force of the bullet that entered his body. The slug that he
extracted from the cadaver of the victim was from a .30 caliber firearm
based on the report of the ballistician.[13]

The defense presented the testimonies of accused-appellant[14] himself; Mila


Adallom (Mila),[15] accused-appellants wife; Aida Marquez (Aida);[16] Sgt.
Anderson Tuguinay (Anderson);[17] Sgt. Agustin Adallom (Agustin);[18] Editha
Gutierrez (Editha);[19] and Elizabeth Buyayo (Elizabeth).[20]

Accused-appellant interposed the defenses of denial and alibi, to wit:

Noel Adallom, a machine operator, testified that on October 27,


2001, he arrived home from work at about 11:00 oclock in the evening
and he saw his wife working on the screen. He had coffee because he was
not yet sleepy. He told his wife that he was going to the billiard hall at
Retota. On his way, he saw the group of Boying Hina having a drinking
spree. They gave him a shot of liquor but he refused because in that place,
riots were rampant. He has known Boying Hina since he started residing
in Batasan Hills in 1988. He went to the billiard hall owned by Ilustre. He
is a new player and he played in with one Zaldy. After that, he transferred
to the Retota billiard hall. He arrived there at about midnight. He played
billiard with Danilo and Dominador Baldaba. They were playing when
they heard gunshots. The sound of the gun fire was rat-tat-tat. They
continued playing billiard until his wife arrived to fetch him. They stopped
playing and he went with her. His wife asked him to pass by Senatorial
Road where the sounds of gunshots came from. He saw Nanette Villareal
Lindawan and asked her what was happening. Nanette was crying and she
said, Patay na si kuya, referring to Danilo Villareal. He has known
Nanette from the time she got married. He talked to her in front of her
house in the middle portion of Senatorial Road. He identified a picture
marked Exhibit 3 showing the place where he talked to Nanette. When he
was about to leave the place, he saw Sgt. Tuguinay holding a
flashlight. When he asked Sgt. Tuguinay what happened, Tuguinay
looked at him and did not say anything. He proceeded to talk with Sgt.
Agustin when a police patrol arrived. The police were asking for someone
who witnessed the incident. Babelito Villareal came out shirtless and
boarded a mobile. He and his wife proceeded home. The place as shown
in Exhibit 3 was not lighted. It was illuminated by some lights from other
houses about ten meters away and you would not be able to recognize
faces. When shown a sketch, Exhibit 1, he pointed the billiard place of
Retota (Exhibit 1-I).The Avocado Road alley was marked Exhibit 3-
A. He was passing by that alley everyday in front of the house of
Nanette. For the month of October 1 to 15, he was assigned to the first
shift and went to work in the morning from 6:00 to3:00 oclock. From
October 16 to the end of that month, he was on the second shift arriving
home at 11:00 oclock in the evening. There was no electric bulb in front
of the house of Nanette. Across the house of Nanette is the house of Sgt.
Agustin Adallom. There was no bulb in front of his house. In the morning
of October 28, 2001, he was planting pechay at the house of Agustin
Adallom at about 9:00 oclock in the morning. On succeeding days after
the incident, he usually left the house at noontime because his work started
at 2:00 oclock in the afternoon. He identified his time record from
October 1 to 15 marked Exhibit 4; the time card for October 16-31 marked
Exhibit 4-A; the time card for November 1-15 marked Exhibit 4-B; and
the time card for November 16-30 marked as Exhibit 4-C. Exhibit number
7 has no signature because that was the time he was arrested on November
19. When he is not working he stayed at home. At the time he was arrested
he was preparing coffee when he heard someone calling from outside and
found out that they were barangay officials looking for him. He saw one
BSDO jump over the fence with a gun so he became afraid. They told him
that he was the one who killed Danilo Villareal. They were not
accompanied by policemen. He was asking them why he was being
apprehended without a warrant of arrest. They told him to give his
explanation at the barangay office. He was handcuffed. They just placed
him inside the cell for an hour. Policemen came and brought him to
Station 6. On the 20th of November, he was brought to Camp Karingal and
they asked for his name and occupation. They brought him to a vacant
room and asked him, bakit mo pinatay si Villareal. He said he did not
commit the crime and they brought him back to the cell. On the 21st of
November, he was brought to Quezon City Hall for inquest. He saw the
name of Wilfredo Maynigo on top of his table. Upon investigation the
prosecutor placed on top of the paper, for further, (see Exhibit 8). He
knows Danilo Villareal and his wife Janita because their wives were doing
business of paluwagan. He met his wife in the house of Agustin Adallom
and he did not know that she and Danilo had an affair.

On cross examination, Noel Adallom said that he works as a


machine operator since 1988. He recalled that October 28, 2001 was a
Sunday and it was his day-off. He was alone when he went to Retota
billiard hall near Senatorial Road after telling his wife that he would go
there. Riots frequently happen on the upper portion of Senatorial
Road. When they heard gunshots they were playing billiard, and they
stopped momentarily. He was married to Mila Adallom in the year 2000
at a mass wedding but he knew her since 1992. He did not have any
knowledge that Danilo and his wife were having an affair. He does not
know of any such relationship nor did he hear any gossip about that. He
knew Babelito Villareal since 1988. There had been no quarrel between
them and does not know why he would point to him as the assassin. Mila
fetched him that early morning of October 28, 2001 at Retota. He would
have still played billiard with Danilo and Dominador but Mila came and
asked him to go home because there was a shooting at the upper portion
of Senatorial Road. After the incident he talked with Nanette, sister of
Danilo Villareal and Babelito Villareal, and asked her what happened. She
told him that [her] kuya was dead. He has known Danilo since 1998
because Danilos wife and his wife were engaged in
a paluwagan business. He seldom talked with Danilo Villareal because
both of them were working and they seldom saw each other. He does not
know of any reason to be jealous of Danilo because he does not know
anything about the alleged relationship between him and his wife.[21]

Mila confirmed on the witness stand that her husband, accused-appellant,


went out to play billiards at around 11:30 p.m. on October 27, 2001. After midnight,
she heard a burst of gunfire. Fearing that accused-appellant might get into trouble,
Mila decided to fetch accused-appellant at Retotas billiard hall. When she reached
the billiard hall, Mila asked accused-appellant, who was then still playing billiards,
to go home with her. To get home, Mila and accused-appellant took the route
from Avocado Street to Senatorial Road. There, at Senatorial Road, Mila saw
Danilo and Rommel already sprawled on the ground. On cross-examination, Mila
denied having an affair with the deceased Danilo.

Aida, an ambulant vendor, testified that in the early morning of October 28,
2001, she was at a billiard hall watching accused-appellant, together with a certain
Paeng and Zaldy, play a game, when she heard gunshots.

Sgt. Anderson, who resided within the vicinity of the shooting incident,
recollected that at around past midnight of October 28, 2001, he was in a videoke
bar with a certain Boying, when he heard two successive automatic gunshots. He
went out of the bar and saw Nanette, Danilos sister, who he asked about what
happened. Nanette responded binaril si manong. Sgt. Anderson went home and
called the authorities.He went back to the scene of the shooting with a flashlight to
look for empty shells. Sgt. Anderson also remembered that accused-appellant
approached him and asked him about what happened.

Sgt. Agustin, who likewise resided within the vicinity of the shooting incident,
narrated that he was awakened by a burst of gunfire in the early morning of October
28, 2001, at around 12:45 a.m. He then heard someone shouting wag sarge, wag
sarge! Then he heard another burst of gunfire. He went out of his house and
proceeded to Senatorial Road. There he saw blood in front of the window of the
house of Nanette, Danilos sister, and a lot of people already milling around. Among
the people he saw were Nanette, accused-appellant, and Sgt. Anderson. Sgt. Agustin
acknowledged that accused-appellant is his first-degree cousin and that he did not
personally witness the shooting incident.

Editha is another ambulant vendor who recalled that at around 2:00


a.m. on October 28, 2001, she met a certain Boying (purportedly Rommels father)
on the road, who told her that his son was shot. Editha admitted, however, that she
had no personal knowledge of the shooting incident.

The last witness for the defense was Elizabeth, accused-appellants distant
relative, and the neighbor and close friend of Janita, Danilos wife. Elizabeth stated
under oath before the RTC that on October 28, 2001, she opened her gate and saw
people gathering at Senatorial Road. From listening to the stories of the bystanders,
she learned that someone was shot at around 1:00 a.m. on October 28, 2001 by two
persons wearing bonnets and riding a motorcycle. According to Elizabeth, Janita had
never confided to her any marital problem with Danilo.

The prosecution presented on rebuttal Nanieta Lindawan (Nanieta), who gave


the following account of the events that transpired in the early morning of October
28, 2001:

Testifying on rebuttal, Nanieta Lindawan denied having met, seen


or talk[ed] with Adallom, a townmate of her husband, in the early morning
of October 28, 2001. There was never a time after the killing of [her]
brother Danilo that she saw the accused on Senatorial Road. She belied
the testimony of Agustin Adallom that he talked to her in the morning
of October 28, 2001. She knows that he is a soldier stationed
in Camp Capinpin and that he comes home only once a month for a day,
either Saturday or Sunday. She is also sure that witness Sgt. Anderson
Tuguinay was not able to talk to her that morning because after the
incident, she was alone in the middle of the road crying.

On cross-examination, among others, she stated that the incident


happened right in front of her house. She was at home with her sisters and
they were sleeping when she heard successive gunfire. She peeped out of
the window and she saw two persons lying face down, Danilo and
[Rommel]. She was able to recognize her brother because he was facing
the window. She went out of the house minutes after the last gunshot. She
called for her siblings. Except for the neighbor of her Ate [Janita], none
of their neighbors came out because they were afraid. Her brother Babelito
was also there and he told her that he was almost hit. Danilo was already
brought to the hospital before the police arrived in unmarked
vehicles. Although Sgt. Tuguinay owns a delivery van, they did not try to
borrow it to bring Danilo to the hospital because Tuguinay does not lend
his vehicle to anyone. She denied having borrowed facilities, like chairs
and tables, from her best friend Elizabeth, who owns a
school. Elizabeth told Nanietas husband that she was afraid to go to the
wake because it was her gun which was used in the shooting. She admitted
she saw Elizabeth at the wake once.She does not remember the last time
when Sgt. Agustin Adallom came home from Camp Capinpin. Her
husband is also stationed in Camp Capinpin and if Sgt. Agustin was really
there at the time of the incident, he would have offered to inform her
husband about the incident.[22]

The documentary exhibits for the prosecution consisting of Babelitos sworn


statement, in a question and answer form, executed before PO3 Leo Tabuena on
November 21, 2001; sketch and photographs of the location of the shooting incident;
Danilos death certificate; the autopsy report on Danilos body; receipts and list of
funeral and burial expenses incurred by Danilos heirs; and the ballistics report which
stated that the bullet recovered at the scene came from a .30 caliber firearm were all
admitted by the RTC in its Order[23] dated September 2, 2002.

The defense submitted its own documentary exhibits, specifically,


photographs of several bullet holes at the store where Danilo, Rommel, and Babelito
were shot to show the trajectory of the bullets; sketch of the location of the shooting
incident; accused-appellants daily time records from his work for the months of
October and November 2001; and Janitas letter-complaint dated November 19, 2001
against accused-appellant. All these exhibits were admitted by the RTC in its
Order[24] dated June 23, 2003.

On December 15, 2003, the RTC rendered its Decision giving more credence
to the positive testimonies of prosecution witnesses Babelito and Diorito and finding
implausible accused-appellants defenses of denial and alibi. The RTC pronounced
accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of murder of Danilo
in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105875 and attempted murder of Babelito in Criminal
Case No. Q-01-105877; but dismissed the charge against accused-appellant for the
murder of Rommel in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105876 because of insufficiency of
evidence. The dispositive portion of the RTC judgment reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused NOEL ADALLOM guilty


beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of murder described and penalized
under Art. 249 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Article 63 thereof,
and there being no other aggravating circumstance attending the
commission of the crime, he is hereby sentenced to suffer imprisonment
of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the heirs of the victim, Danilo
Villareal, as follows:

1. P50,000.00 as civil indemnity;


2. P50,000.00 as moral damages;
3. P57,084.80 as actual damages; and
4. To pay the costs.

With respect to Crim. Case No. Q-01-105817 for the attempted


murder of Babelito Villareal after applying the indeterminate sentence
law, the court hereby sentences accused to suffer imprisonment of six (6)
years and one (1) day to eight (8) years of prision mayor.

For insufficiency of evidence, Criminal Case No. Q-01-105876 is


hereby dismissed.[25]

Accused-appellant appealed the foregoing RTC judgment before the Court of


Appeals. Accused-appellant filed his Brief[26] on January 13, 2006 while plaintiff-
appellee, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, filed its Brief[27] on May
29, 2006.

In its Decision dated July 31, 2007, the Court of Appeals agreed with the
factual findings of the RTC and ruled thus:

Verily, we reiterate the jurisprudential doctrine that great weight is


accorded to the factual findings of the trial court particularly on the
ascertainment of the credibility of witnesses; this can only be discarded or
disturbed when it appears in the record that the trial court overlooked,
ignored or disregarded some fact or circumstance of weight or
significance which if considered would have altered the result. In the
course of our review, the records disclose, that the trial court has
considered all the evidences of both parties and, thus, has ruled correctly.
Trial courts have the opportunity to see witnesses as they testify in court,
an opportunity not readily available to appellate courts.

Thus, we find no reason to depart from the above ruling. We have


examined the records and we confirm the trial courts findings that the
testimonies of the witnesses are more trustworthy than the testimonies of
the defense witnesses, particularly the appellants.

With the application of prevailing laws and jurisprudence to the evidence


presented, We cannot conclude otherwise but rule for the guilt of the
accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the trial court is
AFFIRMED in toto.[28]

Hence, accused-appellant comes before us on appeal.

In our Resolution[29] dated July 23, 2008, we required the parties to file their
respective supplemental briefs. Both plaintiff-appellee and accused-appellant
manifested, however, that they had already exhausted their arguments before the
Court of Appeals and would no longer file any supplemental brief.[30]

Accused-appellant assails his conviction for murder and attempted murder on


these grounds:
A. The trial court erred in finding the testimony of Babelito Villareal and
Diorito Coronas, Jr. credible.[31]

1.) The trial court misapplied the doctrine that the


relationship of the witness to the victim does not make
the former a biased witness, but rather makes his
testimony more credible.[32]

2.) The trial courts findings that Babelito and [Diorito]


narrated as they saw the incident in a clear, simple and
direct manner; and, that their testimonies jive on
material points are seriously belied by the evidence
extant on the record.[33]

3.) The trial courts finding that Babelito and [Diorito]


could not have been mistaken with the identity of
Noel Adallom because he had been a long time
resident of the place is highly speculative.[34]

4.) The trial courts finding that the place where the
incident occurred was lighted.[35]

5.) The trial courts finding that no motive was shown


for the two witnesses to prevaricate and concoct the
story to implicate Adallom with the killing is uncalled
for.[36]

B. The trial court erred in relying on the weakness of the defense rather
on the strength of the prosecutions evidence.[37]

C. The trial court erred in not finding that the evidence on record raise a
reasonable doubt that the accused was the assailant.[38]

Plaintiff-appellee counter-argues that:

The testimony of Babelito Villareal, an eye witness and survivor of the


assault, established with utmost certainty the identity of appellant as the
assailant and gunman.
II

The prosecution established the guilt of appellant beyond reasonable


doubt.

III

Appellants defense of denial is weak and without factual basis.[39]

We sustain the conviction of accused-appellant for both crimes.

Jurisprudence dictates that when the credibility of a witness is in issue, the


findings of fact of the trial court, its calibration of the testimonies of the witnesses
and its assessment of the probative weight thereof, as well as its conclusions
anchored on said findings are accorded high respect if not conclusive effect. This is
more true if such findings were affirmed by the appellate court, since it is settled that
when the trial courts findings have been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings
are generally binding upon this Court.[40]

We find no cogent reason to deviate from the cited case doctrine.

As aptly appreciated by the RTC, prosecution witnesses Babelito and Diorito


both positively identified accused-appellant as the person who treacherously shot
Danilo and Babelito, and ultimately succeeded in killing Danilo. Said witnesses gave
a forthright and consistent narration of what they had actually witnessed the early
morning of October 28, 2001 at Senatorial Road.

Babelito had to relive before the RTC the traumatic experience of seeing his
brother Danilo killed and barely escaping with his own life:
Q And can you tell us where were the three of you during that time?
A I was in front of my house which is also in front of the store of my sister
Nanieta.

xxxx

Q And what were the three of you doing at that time?


A We were seated in front of the store of my sister drinking beer, sir.

xxxx

Q And you said that you ran out of beer, what happened after you ran
out of beer?
A We stopped drinking and then a tricycle arrived with its lights out
and its engine turned off. It was still moving because the road
was on a downward slope, sir.

xxxx

Q At the time that you noticed the said tricycle, can you tell us what time
was that?
A 12:45 in the morning of October 28, 2001, sir.

Q When you noticed the said tricycle moving downwards because of


the sloping road, what happened next?
A Noel Adallom alighted from the tricycle. He got out of the sidecar.

Q By the way, were you able to count how many persons were inside the
tricycle?
A There were three of them: the tricycle driver, Noel Adallom and John
Win Lindawan.

Q You said Noel Adallom was inside the tricycle, at the time, where was
he seated in the tricycle?
A Inside the tricycle, sir.

Q Now, what happened next when Noel Adallom alighted?


A He fired his gun, sir.

Q From the place wherein Noel Adallom alighted immediately thereafter


fired his gun, how far was your group from him?
A About 4 meters, sir.

Q Now, you said Mr. Adallom alighted and fired his gun, can you
remember what kind of firearm he used at the time?
A Carbine.

Q Was it a long or short firearm?


A Long firearm, sir.

Q And when he alighted and fired his gun, what happened to your
group, if any?
A There were successive shots and I just saw gunbursts and he was
saying, Ano? Ano? while he was firing successively at my
brother and Rommel Hina who was already moaning.

Q Can you tell us your relative positions at the time Mr. Adallom fired his
gun?
A I was at the back by the wall fronting the road and my brothers back
was fronting the street facing me.

Q How about Mr. Hina, where was he positioned?


A On my right side, sir.

Q Can you tell us from what direction the said tricycle came from?
A From my left side, sir.

Q So, you are telling us that the tricycle which had no lights and with
engines not running just came by the road and 4 meters from you,
Mr. Adallom alighted and fired his gun?
A Yes, sir.

Q And what was the relative position of your brother when Noel
Adallom fired his gun?
A While the tricycle was coming down the road, my brother turned
his head and tried to run but he was already hit all at the back
by the volley of fire.

Q What about Rommel Hina, what happened to him?


A He was also hit.

Q How about you?


A When I saw gunfire, I just closed my eyes and leaned against the
wall and turned my head to the right and slowly, I moved my
leg downwards and just waited for what would happen next.

Q And can you tell us what happened to you after you just left your
fate to God?
A When my brother and Rommel fell, the firing stopped. I turned my
head and I noticed that Noel Adallom looked surprised.

Q When Noel Adallom looked surprised upon seeing you still alive,
what happened next?
A He again fired a succession of shots and then I heard tak-tak.

Q And would you know what that sound was that you heard?
A I surmised that the gun must have jammed, sir.

Q What did you do, if any, when you realized that the gun must have
jammed?
A I thought of standing up and running and I again heard a burst of
gunfire, rat-tat-tat.

Q What happened when you heard another round of gunfire?


A I sought cover behind a vehicle and I ran towards the corner to
escape.[41] (Emphases supplied.)

Diorito corroborated Babelitos testimony when he recounted before the RTC


the following:

Q Now, you said that you were at the said videoke bar at around 11:30 to
12:00 oclock; while you were there at the said videoke, what
happened if any?
A When I heard a gunfire, I immediately proceeded near the vehicle to
look on what is happening.

Q Now, you said that you heard a gunfire; when you heard that gunfire,
who were with you during that time?
A I was alone.

Q And you said that after hearing a gunfire you went out near a vehicle
that was parked; can you tell us where is that vehicle that was
parked where you went for cover?
A The vehicle is right in front of the videoke bar where we usually hang
out and it so happened that the vehicle is also owned by the owner
of that videoke bar.

xxxx
Q You said you went to that vehicle which was parked, what else did you
do after going near the vehicle?
A I was looking who shot who.

Q And what did you see if any?


A I saw three persons who fell (bumulagta noong pinagbabaril).

Q Now, you said that you saw three men who just fell when shots were
fired upon, [is] any of those three men present in todays
courtroom whom you said that fell down, can you identify
them?
A The two persons are already dead but the other, I got surprised
when he immediately ran.

Q That person that stood up, can you identify him?


A Yes, sir.

Q Can you kindly tell us his name if you know it?


A Samboy, sir.

Q Is he present in todays courtroom? Can you kindly stand up and


point to us that person? Kindly tap the shoulder of that person.
A (Witness tapping the shoulder of a man who when asked answered
that his name is Babelito Villareal.)

Q Aside from seeing those three men whom you said fell down, what else
did you see if any?
A I saw one person firing shots and the other one is facing in front of the
house of Samboy and the other person was manning the tricycle.

Q So, all in all, there were three persons that you saw other than those
three other persons whom you said fell down, is that correct?
A Yes, sir.

Q You said that you saw one of those three persons firing a gun, can you
kindly describe to us that gun that was used by the said person?
A The size of the gun that he was using was like this (witness
demonstrating), less than two feet. But I dont know what kind.
Q That person whom you saw carrying a firearm and was shooting
that men, if that person is present in todays courtroom, can you
identify him?
A Yes, sir.

Q Can you kindly step down again and tap the shoulder of that person
whom you saw?
A (Witness tapping the shoulder of a person who gave his name as
Noel Adallom)

Q Now, when this shooting incident took place, can you kindly tell us how
far were this group of men whom you said were shot from the place
where you were hiding or covering near the vehicle?
A Same distance more or less eight meters.

Q How about the gunman who was shooting these three men, how far
were you from him?
A It is farther by half meter.

Q You said that you saw this incident that took place, can you kindly tell
us what was the lighting condition during that time that this incident
happened?
A The place where the incident happened, it was well-lighted, however,
from where I stand, the place was not lighted. The light came only
from the videoke bar.

xxxx

Q You said that after you saw Mr. Adallom shot these three men, what
else did you see if any?
A When he started firing at these three men, right after, I saw one
person immediately stood up and ran away and right after that,
Noel Adallom kept on firing at the guy who was running.

Q When you said that guy stood up you were referring to Babelito
Villareal, that one that you just pointed prior to the accused?
A Yes, sir.

Q And what happened next after Mr. Adallom was not able to hit Mr.
Babelito Villareal?
A I noticed a yellow tricycle without plate number which immediately
started its engine and moved downward towards my direction and
the other two guys went on the other direction going upward.

Q How about you, what did you do next after seeing that incident?
A I immediately approached the two guys who were lying down.

Q And what did you see if any after that?


A I still heard one guy in the person of Rommel who was still moaning.

Q After hearing Rommel still moaning, what did you do, if any?
A I was a bit apprehensive because maybe somebody will see me and my
family will be involved so I immediately ran away from the scene.

Q Where did you go after running away?


A I immediately went to my house.[42] (Emphases supplied.)

Accused-appellants attacks on the credibility of Babelito and Diorito are


unconvincing, each having already been soundly rejected by the Court of Appeals,
thus:

The accused-appellant is not successful in proving the incredibility and


improbability of the testimonies of the [prosecutions] two eye witnesses,
hence, his arguments on the slight difference in the location and nature of
gunshot wounds as opposed to the position of the assailant as testified by
the witness are not sufficient to overturn the eyewitness accounts of
Diorito and Babelito. The positive identification of the witnesses is
more than enough to prove the accused-appellants guilt beyond
reasonable doubt.

Accused-appellant argues that the delay in charging him raises serious


doubts on Babelitos testimony. Well settled is the rule that Delay in
making criminal accusations will not necessarily impair the credibility of
a witness if such delay is satisfactorily explained. It has been established
that the delay in filing a criminal complaint is attributed to his confusion
and desire to consult his sister-in-law who is the wife of deceased
Danilo. He also testified that he did not file a complaint immediately,
because he did not want to disturb the wake of his brother. Such
explanation is acceptable. True enough, he filed a complaint with the
barangay officials and asked for their assistance in bringing accused-
appellant to Station 6 after the funeral of his brother.

Accused-appellant tried to attack the reliability of Babelitos testimony by


insisting that the story told by Babelito does not jive with the story told by
the physical evidence consisting of the wounds sustained by the body of
Danilo. We are not convinced. Accused-appellant is capitalizing on the
fact that the location and nature of the gunshot wounds sustained by
deceased Danilo is anteriorwards, lateralwards and going to the
right. Simply stated, the direction of the wounds are slightly going
upwards to the right, which according to the accused-appellant is
impossible to be sustained by the deceased, because (as told by Babelito)
he is standing up when he shot deceased Danilo, who is seated on the
street. Such argument lacks merit. As explained by Dr. Rodrigo in his
testimony, the body of Danilo could have moved and slumped forward
when he was being hit by bullets in rapid succession and the position of
his body has changed.When the bullets hit the body of the deceased, the
body was already on the ground face down and the natural trajectory of
bullets is upward, toward the head of the deceased. It is established that
accused-appellant Noel was shooting while he was standing and the
deceased was already on the ground. So when you try to examine the body
and let it stand up, it would naturally create an impression that the bullets
direction is upward. The explanation is so simple, the body received the
bullets while it is slumped, with face forward on the ground, and accused-
appellant Noel was shooting while he was standing up. Such explanation
is corroborated by Babelitos account that Danilo tried to turn his shoulders
to face his left side, before he fell furthermore, such testimony is also
corroborated by the testimony of Nanette which claimed that Danilo fell
at the spot marked as Exhibit 2-C as told by Babelito.[43] (Emphasis
supplied and citations omitted.)

In contrast, accused-appellant proffered the defenses of denial and alibi,


which are the weakest of defenses in criminal cases. The well-established rule is
that denial and alibi are self-serving negative evidence; they cannot prevail over the
spontaneous, positive, and credible testimonies of the prosecution witnesses who
pointed to and identified the accused-appellant as the malefactor. Indeed, alibi is
easy to concoct and difficult to disprove.[44]
Although accused-appellant presented other witnesses to supposedly
corroborate his alibi, we could not ascribe much probative weight to said witnesses
testimonies. None of said witnesses actually saw the shooting, most only heard the
gunshots and arrived at the scene after the shooting took place and, thus, had no
personal knowledge of the said incident. Except for Aida, no other witness for the
defense was physically with accused-appellant at the exact time of the shooting. And
even Aidas testimony is unreliable given the observation of the RTC that it is in
conflict with that of accused-appellant. Accused-appellant claimed that he first went
to the billiard hall owned by Ilustre where he played with a certain Zaldy and then
he transferred to Retotas billiard hall where he was playing with Danilo and
Dominador Baldaba when he heard the gunshots. Yet, Aida attested that she was
watching accused-appellant playing billiards with a certain Zaldy when she heard
the gunshots.

In sum, the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of
accused-appellant for the murder of Danilo in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105875 and
attempted murder of Babelito in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105877.

The penalty prescribed by law for the crime of murder is reclusion perpetua
to death.[45] With the repeal of the death penalty law, the only penalty prescribed by
law for the crime of murder is reclusion perpetua. The Indeterminate Sentence Law
does not apply, inter alia, to persons convicted of offenses punished with death
penalty or life imprisonment, including reclusion perpetua. Hence, accused-
appellant has been properly sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua for
the murder of Danilo in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105875.

However, we find it necessary to modify the award of damages to Danilos


heirs in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105875. Consistent with prevailing case
law,[46] accused-appellant must pay Danilos heirs the amounts of P75,000.00 as civil
indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and P30,000.00 as exemplary damages,
in addition to the sum of P57,084.80 as actual damages.

For the crime of attempted murder, the penalty shall be prision mayor, since
Article 51 of the Revised Penal Code states that a penalty lower by two degrees than
that prescribed by law for the consummated felony shall be imposed upon the
principals in an attempt to commit a felony. Under the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
the maximum of the sentence shall be that which could be properly imposed in view
of the attending circumstances, and the minimum shall be within the range of the
penalty next lower to that prescribed by the Revised Penal Code. Absent any
mitigating or aggravating circumstance in this case, the maximum of the sentence
should be within the range of prision mayor in its medium term, which has a duration
of eight (8) years and one (1) day to ten (10) years; and that the minimum should be
within the range of prision correccional, which has a duration of six (6) months and
one (1) day to six (6) years. Hence, we sentence accused-appellant to suffer
imprisonment from six (6) years of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8)
years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum, for the attempted murder of
Babelito in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105877.

We further order accused-appellant to pay Babelito the amounts


of P25,000.00 as civil indemnity, P10,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as
exemplary damages in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105877.

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal of accused-appellant Noel T. Adallom


is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated July 31, 2007 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CR.-H.C. No. 00365, which affirmed the Decision
dated December 15, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 76, Quezon City, in
Criminal Case Nos. Q-01-105875 and Q-01-105877, finding Noel T. Adallom guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes of murder and attempted murder,
respectively, is hereby AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS as to
the penalties and awards imposed:

1) For the murder of Danilo Villareal in Criminal Case No. Q-01-105875, Noel T.
Adallom is SENTENCED to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua and ORDERED to pay the heirs of Danilo Villareal the amounts
of P75,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, P30,000.00 as
exemplary damages, and P57,084.80 as actual damages; and

2) For the attempted murder of Babelito Villareal in Criminal Case No. Q-01-
105877, Noel T. Adallom is SENTENCED to suffer imprisonment from six (6)
years of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor, as maximum, and ORDERED to pay Babelito Villareal the
amounts of P25,000.00 as civil indemnity, P10,000.00 as moral damages,
and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE VS BRAVO
On 10 August 1989, at around 9:30PM, Mauro, the private complainant, was lying in his
bed on the second floor of his house when he heard gunshots. He then heard accused
calling for him to come down. When he did not come down, the accused went up the stairs
and pointed the gun at him, accusing him of witchcraft and putting a curse on the
accuseds father. He remained silent so the accused turned around and uttered I will
burn you all. All of you will die. About 15 seconds thereafter, Mauro saw a big fire on the
second floor coming from the room of the victims. He and his children were able to jump
out the window but the victims were not. During trial, the accused raised the defense of
alibi, with corroborations from numerous witnesses.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or not the conviction based on circumstantial evidence is proper


2. Whether or not the defense of alibi is meritorious

HELD:

1. Yes, the prosecution was able to prove an unbroken chain of circumstances that point to
no other than the accused himself as the arsonist. The testimony of a barangay
councilman, who saw the accused running away from the burning house while carrying a
long firearm in addition to the threat uttered by the accused, was among the
circumstances which the court used to justify the conviction.

2. No, alibi is inherently weak and unreliable in the face of positive and credible testimonies
of prosecution witnesses. It becomes less plausible, especially when it is corroborated by
relatives and friends who may not be impartial witnesses. Physical impossibility is
essential in the defense of alibi. Physical impossibility refers to distance and the facility
of access between the situs criminis and the location of the accused when the crime was
committed. He must demonstrate that he was so far away and could not have been
physically present at the scene of the crime and its immediate vicinity when the crime was
committed.

MEDALLA VS LAXA
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
filed by Edgardo Medalla (petitioner) assailing the Decision1 dated May 17, 2010 and
Resolution2 dated August 13, 2010 issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
SP No. 101818.

Sometime in April 1998, the petitioner issued to Resurreccion Laxa


(respondent) a Far East Bank Check dated May 5, 1998 in the amount of P742,000.00
as payment of the loan which he obtained from the latter. However, when the said
check was deposited by the respondent on May 5, 1998, the same was dishonored as
the account from which it was drawn had already been closed. Thereupon, the
respondent verbally informed the petitioner of the dishonor of the said check and
subsequently sent him a demand letter dated May 7, 1998. Nevertheless, the petitioner
failed to pay the amount of the said check.

For his part, the petitioner admitted to having issued the subject check but
averred that it was not meant to be deposited or encashed, but that it was a mere
guarantee for the loan he obtained from the respondent. Likewise, the petitioner
admitted to having been informed by the respondent of the fact of the dishonor of the
subject check.

The petitioner further alleged that he had executed a Real Estate Mortgage over
his parcel of land in Bulacan in favor of the respondent with the understanding that,
should he fail to pay his loan, the latter would foreclose the said mortgage and apply
the proceeds thereof to his loan. Reneging on the said agreement, the respondent
opted not to foreclose the mortgage and deposit the subject check instead.

Consequently, in an Information docketed as Criminal Case No. 0058531, the


petitioner was charged with violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (B.P. 22) before the
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Metro Manila.
After due proceedings, the MeTC of Metro Manila, on July 29, 2003, rendered
a Decision3 finding the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
charged. He was then sentenced to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of six months
and to pay the respondent the amount of P742,000.00, less the amount of partial
payments made by the former, and the amount of P20,000.00 as attorneys fees.

Aggrieved, the petitioner appealed from the said Decision to the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Quezon City. The petitioner claimed that he and the respondent had
entered into a novation of contract thereby effectively obliterating his liability for the
issuance of the said dishonored check. He pointed out that, during the pendency of the
case with the MeTC of Metro Manila, he and the respondent entered into a new
agreement with respect to the civil aspect of the case pursuant to which, substantial
payments were made by him, with only P25,000.00 left unpaid.

On November 21, 2005, the RTC of Quezon City rendered a Decision


affirming the July 29, 2003 Decision of the MeTC of Metro Manila, albeit with
modification. The RTC of Quezon City deleted the penalty of imprisonment for six
months and, instead, imposed a fine in the amount of P200,000.00.

The RTC of Quezon City opined that the prosecution was able to establish
beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the crime charged. As to the petitioners
defense of novation, the RTC of Quezon City held that the substantial payments made
by the petitioner to the respondent would not affect his criminal liability for violation
of B.P. 22 since what is punished by the said law is the issuance per se of a worthless
check and not the failure to pay his obligation.

A Motion for Partial Reconsideration4 was filed by the petitioner but it was
denied by the RTC of Quezon City in its Order5 dated November 27, 2007.
The petitioner then filed a petition for review with the CA reiterating his
arguments before the RTC of Quezon City. On May 17, 2010, the CA rendered the
herein assailed Decision6 dismissing the petition for review filed by the petitioner and
affirming the November 21, 2005 Decision of the RTC of Quezon City.

On the petitioners defense of novation, the CA found the same untenable and
asserted that, for novation to prevent criminal liability, it must occur prior to the filing
of Information in court. The petitioner sought reconsideration of the May 17, 2010
Decision but it was denied by the CA in its Resolution7 dated August 13, 2010.

Undaunted, the petitioner instituted the instant petition for review


on certiorari before this Court asserting the following arguments: (1) the prosecution
failed to establish the fact of the dishonor of the subject check beyond reasonable
doubt; and (2) the novation subsequently entered between him and the respondent
extinguished his criminal liability.

The petition is denied.

A perusal of the arguments set forth by the petitioner in support of the instant
petition would clearly show that the same only raised questions of fact. The petition
failed to show any extraordinary circumstance justifying a departure from the
established doctrine that findings of fact of the CA are conclusive on the Court and
will not be disturbed on appeal. The issue on whether the prosecution was able to
establish the dishonor of the subject check is factual in nature and, hence, not a proper
subject of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45.
Settled is the rule that when the trial court's factual findings have been affirmed
by the appellate court, said findings are generally conclusive and binding upon this
Court, for it is not our function to analyze and weigh the parties' evidence all over
again except when there is a serious ground to believe a possible miscarriage of
justice would thereby result. To reiterate, our task in an appeal via certiorari is
limited, as a jurisdictional matter, to reviewing errors of law that might have been
committed by the CA.8

Anent the petitioners contention that novation had extinguished his criminal
liability for violation of B.P. 22, we likewise find the same utterly specious. The
petitioner ought to be reminded that novation is not a mode of extinguishing criminal
liability. As astutely opined by the CA, novation may only prevent the rise of criminal
liability if it occurs prior to the filing of the Information in court. In other words,
novation does not extinguish criminal liability but may only prevent its rise. 9

The fact the petitioner had already made substantial payments to the respondent
and that only P25,000.00 out of his total obligation in favor of the respondent remains
unpaid is immaterial to the extinguishment of the petitioners criminal liability.

The gravamen of the offense punished by B.P. 22 is the act of making and issuing
a worthless check or a check that is dishonored upon its presentation for payment. It is
not the non-payment of an obligation which the law punishes. The law is not intended or
designed to coerce a debtor to pay his debt. The thrust of the law is to prohibit, under pain
of penal sanctions, the making of worthless checks and putting them in circulation.
Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest, the practice is proscribed by
law. The law punishes the act not as an offense against property, but an offense against
public order.10
WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the petition
is DENIED.

VILLAREAL VS PEOPLE
February 1991- 7 freshmen law students of ADMU signified their intention to join the Aquila
Legis fraternity. They were met by members of AL at the lobby of Ateneo Law. They were
informed that there will be physical beatings and that they can quit anytime. The rites were
scheduled to last 3 days. They were subjected to traditional Aquilan initiation rites such as the
Indian Run, Bicol Express, Rounds, Auxies Privilege Round, rough basketball, comic
plays, and other forms of paddling. Lenny received several blows, one of which was so strong
that it sent him sprawling to the ground. When they were already sleeping, the neophytes were
roused by Lennys shivering and mumblings. He was brought to the hospital but was pronounced
dead on arrival.

Held:

No crime without a law punishing it


Thus, having in mind the potential conflict between the proposed law and the core
principle of mala in seadhered to under the Revised Penal Code, Congress did not simply
enact an amendment thereto. Instead, it created a special law on hazing, founded upon the
principle of mala prohibita. This dilemma faced by Congress is further proof of how the
nature of hazing unique as against typical crimes cast a cloud of doubt on whether
society considered the act as an inherently wrong conduct or mala in seat the time.
Consequently, the collective acts of the fraternity members were tantamount to
recklessness, which made the resulting death of Lenny a culpable felony. It must be
remembered that organizations owe to their initiates a duty of care not to cause them
injury in the process. With the foregoing facts, we rule that the accused are guilty of
reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Since the NBI medico-legal officer found that
the victims death was the cumulative effect of the injuries suffered, criminal
responsibility redounds to all those who directly participated in and contributed to the
infliction of physical injuries
Our finding of criminal liability for the felony of reckless imprudence resulting in
homicide shall cover only accused Tecson, Ama, Almeda, Bantug, and Dizon. Had the
Anti-Hazing Law been in effect then, these five accused fraternity members would have
all been convicted of the crime of hazing punishable by reclusion perpetua(life
imprisonment). Since there was no law prohibiting the act of hazing when Lenny died,
we are constrained to rule according to existing laws at the time of his death.

FACTS: In February 1991, seven freshmen law students of the Ateneo de Manila
University School of Law signified their intention to join the Aquila Legis Juris
Fraternity (Aquila Fraternity).

The neophytes, including victim, Lenny Villa, were subjected to initiation rites.
After the second day of initiation rites has ended, accused non-resident or alumni
fraternity members Fidelito Dizon (Dizon) and Artemio Villareal (Villareal)
demanded that the rites be reopened. The head of initiation rites, Nelson
Victorino (Victorino), initially refused. Upon the insistence of Dizon and Villareal,
however, he reopened the initiation rites. The fraternity members, including Dizon
and Villareal, then subjected the neophytes to "paddling" and to additional rounds
of physical pain. Lenny received several paddle blows, one of which was so
strong it sent him sprawling to the ground. The neophytes heard him complaining
of intense pain and difficulty in breathing. After their last session of physical
beatings, Lenny could no longer walk. He had to be carried by the auxiliaries to
the carport. Again, the initiation for the day was officially ended, and the
neophytes started eating dinner. They then slept at the carport.

After an hour of sleep, the neophytes were suddenly roused by Lennys shivering
and incoherent mumblings. Initially, Villareal and Dizon dismissed these
rumblings, as they thought he was just overacting. When they realized, though,
that Lenny was really feeling cold, some of the Aquilans started helping him.
They removed his clothes and helped him through a sleeping bag to keep him
warm. When his condition worsened, the Aquilans rushed him to the hospital.
Lenny was pronounced dead on arrival.

Consequently, a criminal case for homicide was filed against 35 Aquilans.

G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People

The instant case refers to accused Villareals Petition for Review on Certiorari
under Rule 45. The Petition raises two reversible errors allegedly committed by
the CA in its Decision dated 10 January 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520 first, denial
of due process; and, second, conviction absent proof beyond reasonable doubt.
While the Petition was pending before this Court, counsel for petitioner Villareal
filed a Notice of Death of Party on 10 August 2011. According to the Notice,
petitioner Villareal died on 13 March 2011. Counsel thus asserts that the subject
matter of the Petition previously filed by petitioner does not survive the death of
the accused.

ISSUES:

G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People: Did the death of Villareal extinguish his
criminal liability?

HELD:
G.R. No. 151258 Villareal v. People

In a Notice dated 26 September 2011 and while the Petition was pending
resolution, this Court took note of counsel for petitioners Notice of Death of Party.

According to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability for
personal penalties is totally extinguished by the death of the convict. In contrast,
criminal liability for pecuniary penalties is extinguished if the offender dies prior to
final judgment. The term "personal penalties" refers to the service of personal or
imprisonment penalties, while the term "pecuniarypenalties" (las pecuniarias)
refers to fines and costs, including civil liability predicated on the criminal offense
complained of (i.e., civil liability ex delicto). However, civil liability based on a
source of obligation other than the delict survives the death of the accused and is
recoverable through a separate civil action.

Thus, we hold that the death of petitioner Villareal extinguished his criminal
liability for both personal and pecuniary penalties, including his civil liability
directly arising from the delict complained of. Consequently, his Petition is hereby
dismissed, and the criminal case against him deemed closed and terminated.

PEOPLE VS ISRAEL

LAGAYA VS PEOPLE
"[T]he freedom to express one's sentiments and belief does not grant one
the license to vilify in public the honor and integrity of another. Any
sentiments must be expressed within the proper forum and with proper
regard for the rights of others."[1]

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari[2] under Rule 45 of the Rules of


Court, Dr. Alfonso Lagaya y Tamondong (petitioner) seeks to reverse and
set aside the Decision[3] dated October 26, 2006 of
the Sandiganbayan finding him guilty of Libel. He likewise challenges the
Resolution[4] of the Sandiganbayan dated January 16, 2007 denying his
Motion for Reconsideration.[5]

In an Information[6] dated September 4, 2003, petitioner was charged with


the crime of libel defined and penalized under Article 355 in relation to
Articles 353 and 354 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), allegedly committed
as follows:
That on or about the 5th day of August 2002, or sometime prior or
subsequent thereto, in Carig, Tuguegarao City, Province of Cagayan,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, accused
ALFONSO LAGAYA y TAMONDONG, a public officer, being the Director
General with Salary Grade 28 of the Philippine Institute of Traditional and
Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), an attached agency of Department of
Health, while in the performance of his official functions, taking advantage
of his official position and committing the crime herein charged in relation
to his office, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, and by
means of writing, defame and libel one Dr. Marilyn Martinez by including in
Memorandum No. 06. S. 2002 entitled "Disclosure and Misuse of
Confidential and Classified Information" he issued and disseminated to the
Plant Manager and Staff of Cagayan Valley Herbal Processing Plant in
discharge of his administrative supervision and control the statement that
Dr. Marilyn Martinez's state of mind or psychiatric behavior be submitted
for further psychological and/or psychiatric treatment to prevent further
deterioration of her mental and emotional stability, such statement being
immaterial and irrelevant thus causing dishonor, discredit and contempt to
the person of Dr. Marilyn Martinez which subjected her to public ridicule.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

When arraigned on May 14, 2004, petitioner, with the assistance of


counsel de parte, pleaded "Not Guilty" to the charge.[7] After the
prosecution and defense made some stipulation of facts, trial on the merits
ensued.

Factual Antecedents

Dr. Marilyn Martinez (private respondent) was the Plant Manager of the
Cagayan Valley Herbal Processing Plant (HPP) of the Philippine Institute of
Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), an attached agency of
the Department of Health. On July 1 and 2, 2002, she attended the Mid-
Year Performance Evaluation Seminar conducted at the Sulo Hotel by
McGimpers International Consulting Corporation (McGimpers). The latter
was engaged by the PITAHC with the prime objective of developing its
marketing arm and the personality of each personnel of the Sales
Department.[8] The participants in the seminar were Sales Managers,
various Plant Managers, Sales Agents from the different Regional Offices
and other staff of PITAHC. It would appear, however, that during the
seminar, the private respondent and one of the female resource speakers
had a misunderstanding as a result of the alleged abusive remarks made by
the latter pertaining to the former's capability as a supervisor.

On August 8, 2002, the private respondent was summoned by Dr. Eriberto


Policar (Dr. Policar), the Regional Director of PITAHC to his office.
Thereat, Dr. Policar handed her a copy of Memorandum No. 6, Series of
2002 dated August 5, 2002.[9] The Memorandum was signed by petitioner,
he being then the Director General of PITAHC, addressed to all the plant
managers and staff and was distributed to the different plants all over the
country. The subject of the memorandum is "Disclosure and Misuse of
Confidential and Classified Information" and a salient portion thereof
states that private respondent needs to undergo psychological and
psychiatric treatment to prevent deterioration of her mental and emotional
stability as recommended by McGimpers.

Memorandum No. 6, series of 2002 reads:

TO : HPP's Plant Manager & Staff


SUBJECT : Disclosure and Misuse of Confidential and Classified
Information

It came into our attention that Dr. MARILYN MARTINEZ, has personally
lobbied in a legislature, councils or offices without authority, to further her
private interest or give undue advantage to anyone or to prejudice the public
interest. Please be informed that the Board of Trustees has no decision made
as of date regarding the fate of the HPP's.

In addition, this office has received official complaint behavior of Dr.


Martinez compromising the efficiency of the HPP's and the entire
organization. Such [behavior] unbecoming of Dr. Martinez is supported by
officials of the HPP's as well as the findings of our Consultant McGimpers
International Consulting Corporation during the Mid Year Evaluation at
Sulo Hotel last July 1-2. 2002. recommending that "Dr. Martinez be
submitted for further psychological and or psychiatric treatment to prevent
further deterioration of her menial and emotional stability".

In view of this, you are hereby directed to submit to this office any incidental
report that is affecting the efficiency in the HPP's operation; and/or
information related to her psychiatric behavior.

For information and guidance.

(Signed)
ALFONSO T. LAGAYA, MD, MDM
Director General

On account of the issuance of the Memorandum, which according to private


respondent exposed her to public ridicule and humiliation, she sought the
assistance of a lawyer to file the necessary administrative, civil and criminal
charges against petitioner.

Petitioner admitted having signed the memorandum. He claimed that he


had been receiving information that private respondent was lobbying
against the intended privatization of the Herbal Processing Plants when the
Board of Trustees of PITAHC was still in the process of deliberating the
same, and of various verbal complaints against her from the employees of
the plants who were afraid to come out and voice their grievances formally.
He further stressed that the report of McGimpers gave him the opportunity
to encourage the employees of PITAHC to submit formal complaints
against the private respondent. Petitioner also averred that the issuance of
the memorandum was done in the performance of official duty and in good
faith considering that his objective is to help the private respondent.

Ruling of the Sandiganbayan

In its Decision[10] promulgated on October 26,2006,


the Sandiganbayan held that the prosecution has convincingly established
by proof beyond reasonable doubt the existence of all the elements essential
to support the charge and thus adjudged petitioner guilty of the.crime of
libel, viz:

WHEREFORE, proceeding from the foregoing, judgment is hereby


rendered finding accused ALFONSO LAGAYA y TAMONDONG GUILTY of
the crime of libel defined and penalized under Article 355 in relation to
Articles 353 and 354 of the Revised Penal Code and, in the absence of any
modifying circumstance, sentencing the said accused to: (a) suffer an
indeterminate sentence of imprisonment of six (6) months of arresto
mayor, as minimum, to two (2) years, eleven (11) months, and ten (10), days
of prision correctional, as maximum; (b) suffer all the appropriate accessory
penalties consequent thereto, including perpetual special disqualification;
and (c) pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[11]

Petitioner sought reconsideration of the Decision but the Sandiganbayan


denied the same in the questioned January 16, 2007 Resolution.[12]

Hence, this petition.

Issues

Petitioner ascribes upon the Sandiganbayan the following errors:

I
HIE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT
THE CONTENTS OF THE MEMORANDUM ARE NOT DEFAMATORY AS
THEY WERE MERELY QUOTED VERBATIM I ROM A
RECOMMENDATION OF PITAHC CONSULTANT MCGIMPERS
INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANCY CORPORATION.

II
GRANTING ARGUENDO THAT THE UTTERANCE WAS IN ITSELF
DEFAMATORY, NONETHELESS, THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN
ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE SUBJECT MEMORANDUM WAS
NOT ATTENDED WITH MALICE TO THUS FREE PETITIONER OF
CRIMINAL LABILITY.

III

IN ANY EVENT. THE SUBJECT MEMORANDUM FALLS WITHIN THE


AMBIT OF THE PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION RULE, HENCE, NOT
LIBELOUS.
IV

THE PROSECUTION'S EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE COMMISSION OF


LIBEL FELL SHORT OF THE DEGREE OF PROOF, THAT IS, PROOF
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT, REQUIRED BY LAW TO BE
ESTABLISHED IN ORDER TO OVERCOME THE CONSTITUTIONALLY
ENSHRINED PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE IN FAVOR OF ACCUSED-
PETITIONER.

GRANTING WITHOUT ADMITTING THAT PETITIONER IS LIABLE I OR


Till-: CRIME OF LIBEL THE PENALTY IMPOSED UPON HIM IS NOT
COMMENSURATE TO THE ALLEGED OFFENSE; BEARING IN MIND
SEVERAL YEARS OF UNTARNISHED PUBLIC SERVICE AS DIRECTOR
GENERAL FOR PITAHC.[13]

Petitioner avers that the contents of the subject memorandum are not
defamatory. The memorandum was not only issued in good faith but also in
the performance of his official duty as Director General of PITAHC, that is,
to make certain that the members of the organization he heads would work
together for the accomplishment of the organization's mandate. In fact, he
merely quoted in the said memorandum the recommendation of their
consultant McGimpers. Petitioner also argues that the subject
memorandum falls within the ambit of privileged communication, hence,
not actionable. Lastly, assuming that he is liable, a fine instead of
imprisonment should be imposed following prevailing jurisprudence.

Private respondent and public respondent People of the Philippines, in


their respective comments, pray for the affirmance of the challenged
Decision of the Sandiganbayanand for the dismissal of the petition.

Our Ruling

The Court finds the petition partly impressed with merit.

All the requisites of the crime of libel


are obtaining in this case.
A libel is defined as "a public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a
vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or
circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a
natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is
dead.[14] "For an imputation to be libelous, the following requisites must
concur: a) it must be defamatory; b) it must be malicious; c) it must be
given publicity; and d) the victim must be identifiable."[15]

The Court finds the four aforementioned requisites to be present in this


case.

As to the first requisite, we find the subject memorandum defamatory. An


allegation is considered defamatory if it ascribes to a person the
commission of a crime, the possession of a vice or defect, real or imaginary,
or any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance which tends to
dishonor or discredit or put him in contempt or which tends to blacken the
memory of one who is dead. "In determining whether a statement is
defamatory, the words used are to be construed in their entirety and should
be taken in their plain, natural and ordinary meaning as they would
naturally be understood by persons reading them, unless it appears that
they were used and understood in another sense."[16]

In the present case, the subject memorandum dealt more on the supposedly
abnormal behavior of the private respondent which to an ordinary reader
automatically means a judgment of mental deficiency. As
the Sandiganbayan correctly ruled:

xxx To stress, the words used could not be interpreted to mean other than
what they intend to say - that Martinez has psychiatric problems and needs
psychological and/or psychiatric treatment: otherwise her mental and
emotional stability would further deteriorate. As the law does not make, any
distinction whether the imputed defect/condition is real or imaginary, no
other conclusion can be reached, except that accused Lagaya. in issuing the
Memorandum. ascribes unto Martinez a vice, defect, condition, or
circumstance which tends to dishonor, discredit, or put her in ridicule, xxx[17]

The element of malice was also established. "Malice, which is the doing of
an act conceived in the spirit of mischief or criminal indifference to the
rights of others or which must partake of a criminal or wanton nature, is
presumed from any defamatory imputation, particularly when it injures the
reputation of the person defamed."[18] As early on, the Court had perused
the second paragraph contained in the subject memorandum and since the
same, on its face, shows the injurious nature of the imputations to the
private respondent, there is then a presumption that petitioner acted with
malice. Under Article 354 of the RPC, every defamatory imputation is
presumed to be malicious, even if it be tme, if no good intention and
justifiable motive for making it is shown.

To buttress his defense of lack of malice, petitioner claimed that when he


issued the memorandum, he was motivated by good intention to help
private respondent and improve PITAHC. Such goodness, however, is not
sufficient justification considering the details of the entire contents of the
memorandum. Thus, in United States v. Prautch,[19] it was held that "[t]he
existence of justifiable motives is a question which has to be decided by
taking into consideration not only the intention of the author of the
publication but all the other circumstances of each particular
case."[20] Certainly, the second paragraph in the memorandum was not
encompassed by the subject indicated therein (Disclosure and Misuse of
Confidential and Classified Information) and likewise was riot even
germane to the privatization of PITAHC. At this juncture, the observation
of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 83622, an Administrative
Case filed against herein petitioner based on the same set of facts and
circumstances, is worth noting, viz:

x x x If. indeed, petitioner was merely disseminating information to the


Manager and Staff of HPP's under the administration of PITAHC, as he
claims, he could have just stated in plain terms the current status of HPP's to
counter the alleged misinformation such as what plans, recommendations
and steps are being considered by the PITAHC about the HPP's, any
developments regarding the decision-making process with the assurance
that the concerns of those employees involved or will be affected by a possible
abolition or reorganization are properly addressed, and similar matters and
just stopped there. Casting aspersion on the mental state of private
respondent who herself may just be needing plain and simple clarification
from a superior like petitioner who is no less the Director of the PITAHC. is
totally uncalled for and done in poor taste.
x x x Far from discharging his public duties "in good faith" petitioner
succeeded only in ruining beyond repair the reputation of private respondent
and attack her very person -- the condition of her mental faculties and
emotional being -- not only by circulating the memo in their offices
nationwide but even personally distributed and made sure that the Manager
and Staff of the HPP in Tuguegarao where private respondent works, have
all read the memo in his presence. It is unbelievable that a public official
would stoop so low and diminish his stature by such unethical, inconsiderate,
and unfair act against a co-worker in the public service.

x x x x

We fully concur with the Ombudsman's declaration that short of using the
word "'insane," the statements- in the memo unmistakably imply that the
alleged unauthorized disclosure by private respondent of supposedly
classified information regarding the fate of the HPP's is simply an external
manifestation of her deteriorating mental and emotional condition.
Petitioner thereby announced to all the employees of the agency that such
alleged infraction by private respondent only confirms the findings of their
consultant that private respondent is suffering from mental and emotional
imbalance, even instructing them to report any information related to
private respondent's "psychiatric behavior."[21]

This CA ruling in the Administrative Case which had already attained its
finality on November 30, 2004"[22] has effectively and decisively
determined the issue of malice in the present petition. We see no cogent
reason why this Court should not be bound by it. In Constantino v.
Sandiganbayan (First Division)[23] the Court ruled:

Although the instant case involves a criminal charge


whereas Constantinoinvolved an administrative charge, still the findings in
the latter case are binding herein because the same set of facts are the subject
of both cases. What is decisive is that the issues already litigated in a final
and executory judgment preclude by the principle of bar by prior judgment,
an aspect of the doctrine of res judicata. and even under the doctrine of "law
of the case," the re-litigation of the same issue in another action. It is well
established that when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined
by a court of competent jurisdiction, so long as it remains unreversed. it
should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privity with them. The
dictum therein laid down became the law of the case and what was once
irrevocably established as the controlling legal rule or decision continues to
be binding between the same parties as long as the facts on which the
decision was predicated continue to be the facts of the case before the court.
Hence, the binding effect and enforceability of that dictum can no longer be
resurrected anew since such issue had already been resolved and finally laid
to rest, if not by the principle of res judicata. at least by conclusiveness of
judgment. (Citations omitted.)

The element of publication was also proven. "Publication, in the law of libel,
means the making of the defamatory matter, after it has been written,
known to someone other than the person to whom it has been
written."[24] On the basis of the evidence on record and as found by
the Sandiganbayan, there is no dispute that copies of the memorandum
containing the defamatory remarks were circulated to all the regional
offices of the HPP. Evidence also shows that petitioner allowed the
distribution of the subject memorandum and even read the contents
thereof before a gathering at a meeting attended by more or less 24
participants thereat.

Anent the last element, that is, the identity of the offended party, there is no
doubt that the private respondent was the person referred to by the
defamatory remarks as she was in fact, particularly named therein.

Privileged Communication Rule


is not applicable in this case.

Petitioner tenaciously argues that the disputed memorandum is not


libelous since it is covered by the privileged communication rule. He avers
that memorandum is an official act done in good faith, an honest innocent
statement arising from a moral and legal obligation.

Petitioner's invocation of the rule on privileged communication is


misplaced.

Article 354 of the RPC provides:

Article 354; Requirement for publicity Every defamatory imputation is


presumed to be malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention and
justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in the following cases:

1. A private communication made by any person to another in the


performance of any legal, moral, or social duty; and

2. A fair and true report, made in good faith, without any comments or
remarks, of any judicial, legislative, or other official proceedings which are
not of confidential nature, or of any statement, report, or speech delivered in
said proceedings, or of any other act performed by public officers in the
exercise of their functions.

Before a statement would come within the ambit of a privileged


communication under paragraph No, 1 of the abovequoted Article 354, it
must be established that: "1) the person who made the communication had
a legal, moral or social duty to make the communication, or at least, had an
interest to protect, which interest may either be his own or of the one to
whom it is made; 2) the communication is addressed to an officer or a
board, or superior, having some interest or duty in the matter, and who has
the power to furnish the protection sought: and 3) the statements in the
communication are made in good faith and without malice."[25] All these
requisites must concur.

In the instant case, petitioner addressed the memorandum not only to the
Plant Manager but also to the staff of HPP. Undoubtedly, the staff of HPP
were not petitioner's superiors vested' with the power of supervision over
the private respondent. Neither were they the parties to whom die
information should be given for they have no authority to inquire into the
veracity of the charges. As aptly observed by the Sandiganbayan, the
memorandum is not simply addressed to an officer, a board or a superior.
Rather, the communication was addressed to all the staff of PITAHC who
obviously do not have the power to furnish the protection
sought.[26] Substantially, the Court finds no error in the foregoing findings.
The irresponsible act of furnishing the staff a copy of the memorandum is
enough circumstance which militates against the petitioner's pretension of
good faith and performance of a moral and social duty. As further held in
Brillante,[27] the law requires that for a defamatory imputation made out of
a legal, moral or social duty to be privileged, such statement must be
communicated only to the person or persons who have some interest or
duty in the matter alleged and who have the power to furnish the protection
sought by the author, of the statement. It may not be amiss to note at this
point too that petitioner very well knows that the recommendation of
PITAHC's consultant, McGimpers, is a sensitive matter that should be
treated with strictest confidentiality.[28]

Neither does the defamatory statement in the memorandum covered by


paragraph No. 2 of the Article 354. Though private respondent is a public
officer, certainly, the defamatory remarks are not related or relevant to the
discharge of her official duties but was purely an attack on her mental
condition which adversely reflect on her reputation and dignity.

Imposition of the penalty of fine instead


of imprisonment.

Notwithstanding the guilt of the petitioner, still the Court finds favorable
consideration on his argument that instead of imprisonment a fine should
be imposed on him.

Following precedents[29] and considering that the records do not show that
petitioner has previously violated any provision of the penal laws, the
Court, in the exercise of its judicious discretion, imposes upon him a
penalty of fine instead of imprisonment.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is PARTLY


GRANTED. The Decision of the Sandiganbayan finding petitioner
Alfonso Lagaya y Tamondong guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of libel is AFFIRMED in all respects except that in lieu of imprisonment,
petitioner is sentenced to pay a fine of P6,000.00 with subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency.

SO ORDERED.

AGBAYANI VS CA
On petition for review under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Court is the
Decision[1] dated March 27, 2008 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissing the
petition for certiorari and the Resolution[2] dated July 3, 2008 denying the motion
for reconsideration thereof in CA-G.R. SP No. 99626. Petitioner Leticia B.
Agbayani (Agbayani) assails the resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ)
which directed the withdrawal of her complaint for grave oral defamation filed
against respondent Loida Marcelina J. Genabe (Genabe).
Antecedent Facts

Agbayani and Genabe were both employees of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 275 of Las Pias City, working as Court Stenographer and Legal
Researcher II, respectively. On December 29, 2006, Agbayani filed a criminal
complaint for grave oral defamation against Genabe before the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Las Pias City, docketed as I.S. No. 07-0013, for allegedly uttering
against her, in the presence of their fellow court employees and while she was going
about her usual duties at work, the following statements, to wit:

ANG GALING MO LETY, SINABI MO NA TINAPOS MO


YUNG MARVILLA CASE, ANG GALING MO. FEELING LAWYER KA
KASI, BAKIT DI KA MAGDUTY NA LANG, STENOGRAPHER KA
MAGSTENO KA NA LANG, ANG GALING MO, FEELING LAWYER KA
TALAGA. NAGBEBENTA KA NG KASO, TIRADOR KA NG JUDGE.
SIGE HIGH BLOOD DIN KA, MAMATAY KA SANA SA HIGH BLOOD
MO.[3]

In a Resolution[4] rendered on February 12, 2007, the Office of the City


Prosecutor of Las Pias City[5] found probable cause for the filing of the Information
for grave oral defamation against Genabe.

However, upon a petition for review filed by Genabe, the DOJ Undersecretary
Ernesto L. Pineda (Pineda) found that:

After careful evaluation and consideration of the evidence on


record, we find merit in the instant petition.

Contrary to the findings in the assailed resolution, we find that the


subject utterances of respondent constitute only slight oral defamation.

As alleged by the [petitioner] in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 of her


complaint-affidavit, respondent uttered the remarks subject matter of the
instant case in the heat of anger.This was also the tenor of the sworn
statements of the witnesses for complainant. The Supreme Court, in the
case of Cruz vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. L-56224-26, November 25,
1982, x x x held that although abusive remarks may ordinarily be
considered as serious defamation, under the environmental circumstances
of the case, there having been provocation on complainants part, and the
utterances complained of having been made in the heat of unrestrained
anger and obfuscation, such utterances constitute only the crime of slight
oral defamation.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, we believe that the instant case


should nonetheless be dismissed for non-compliance with the provisions
of Book III, Title I, Chapter 7 (Katarungang Pambarangay), of Republic
Act No. 7160 (The Local Government Code of 1991). As shown by the
records, the parties herein are residents of Las Pias City. x x x

The complaint-affidavit, however, failed to show that the instant


case was previously referred to the barangay for conciliation in
compliance with Sections 408 and 409, paragraph (d), of the Local
Government Code, which provides:

Section 408. Subject Matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception


Thereto. The lupon of each barangay shall have authority to bring together
the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable
settlement of all disputes except: xxx

Section 409. Venue. x x x (d) Those arising at the workplace where


the contending parties are employed or xxx shall be brought in the
barangay where such workplace or institution is located.

The records of the case likewise show that the instant case is not
one of the exceptions enumerated under Section 408 of the Local
Government Code. Hence, the dismissal of the instant petition is proper.

It is well-noted that the Supreme Court held that where the case is
covered by P.D. 1508 (Katarungang Pambarangay Law), the compulsory
process of arbitration required therein is a pre-condition for filing a
complaint in court. Where the complaint (a) did not state that it is one of
the excepted cases, or (b) it did not allege prior availment of said
conciliation process, or (c) did not have a certification that no conciliation
or settlement had been reached by the parties, the case should be dismissed
x x x. While the foregoing doctrine is handed down in civil cases, it is
submitted that the same should apply to criminal cases covered by, but
filed without complying with, the provisions of P.D. 1508 x x x.[6]
Thus, in a Resolution[7] dated May 17, 2007, the DOJ disposed, to wit:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed resolution is


hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the City Prosecutor
of Las Pias City is directed to move for the withdrawal of the information
for grave oral defamation filed against respondent Loida Marcelina J.
Genabe, and report the action taken thereon within ten (10) days from
receipt hereof.

SO ORDERED.[8]

The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied in a


Resolution[9] dated June 25, 2007.

Consequently, Agbayani filed a petition for certiorari with the CA alleging


that the DOJ committed grave abuse of discretion in setting aside the Resolution
dated February 12, 2007 of the City Prosecutor of Las Pias City in I.S. Case No. 07-
0013. She averred that the respondents petition for review filed with the DOJ did not
comply with Sections 5 and 6 of DOJ Circular No. 70, or the 2000 National
Prosecution Service (NPS) Rules on Appeal, and maintained that her evidence
supported a finding of probable cause for grave oral defamation against respondent
Genabe.

On March 27, 2008, the CA dismissed the petition after finding no grave abuse
of discretion on the part of the DOJ. Citing Punzalan v. Dela Pea,[10] the CA
stated that for grave abuse of discretion to exist, the complained act must constitute
a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as it is equivalent to lack of
jurisdiction, or when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by
reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be so patent and gross as to
amount to an evasion of positive duty enjoined or to act at all in contemplation of
law. It is not sufficient that a tribunal, in the exercise of its power, abused its
discretion; such abuse must be grave.
On motion for reconsideration by the petitioner, the CA denied the same in its
Resolution[11] dated July 3, 2008. Hence, the instant petition.

Assignment of Errors

Maintaining her stance, Agbayani raised the following, to wit:

I. RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT


THE RESPONDENT DOJ DID NOT ABUSE ITS DISCRETION
WHEN THE LATTER REVERSED AND SET ASIDE THE
RESOLUTION OF THE CITY PROSECUTOR OF LAS PIAS CITY.

II. RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING


RESPONDENT DOJ'S FINDING THAT WHAT PRIVATE
RESPONDENT COMMITTED WAS ONLY SLIGHT ORAL
DEFAMATION.

III. RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING


RESPONDENT DOJ'S DISMISSAL OF THE COMPLAINT DUE
TO NON-COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE
LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF 1991.

IV. RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT HELD


THAT THE REQUIREMENTS UNDER DOJ CIRCULAR NO. 70
(2000 NPS Rule on Appeal) ARE NOT MANDATORY.[12]

Ruling and Discussions

The petition is bereft of merit.

We shall first tackle Agbayani's arguments on the first two issues raised in the
instant petition.

1. Petitioner Agbayani alleged that Undersecretary Pineda unfairly heeded


only to the arguments interposed by respondent Genabe in her comment; and the CA,
in turn, took his findings and reasoning as gospel truth. Agbayanis comment was
completely disregarded and suppressed in the records of the DOJ. Agbayani
discovered this when she went to the DOJ to examine the records, as soon as she
received a copy of the DOJ Resolution of her motion for reconsideration.

2. Further, petitioner Agbayani maintained that respondent Genabes Petition


for Review[13] should have been dismissed outright, since it failed to state the name
and address of the petitioner, nor did it show proof of service to her, pursuant to
Sections 5 and 6 of DOJ Circular No. 70. Also, the petition was notaccompanied
with the required attachments, i.e. certified copies of the complaint, affidavits of
witnesses, petitioner's reply to respondent's counter-affidavit, and documentary
evidences of petitioner. Thus, a grave irregularity was committed by the DOJ in
allowing the surreptitious insertion of these and many other documents in the records
of the case, after the petition had been filed.

In particular, petitioner Agbayani alleged that when the petition was filed on
March 22, 2007, only five (5) documents were attached thereto, namely: (a) the
Resolution of the City Prosecutor; (b) the respondent's Counter-affidavit; (c) Letter
of the staff dated January 2, 2005; (d) her Answer; and (e) the Information filed
against respondent Genabe with the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Pias
City. However, at the time the Resolution of the DOJ was issued, a total of forty-one
(41) documents[14] formed part of the records of the petition. Besides, respondent
Genabe's Motion to Defer Arraignment (Document No. 40) and the court order
relative to the granting of the same (Document No. 41) were both dated March 23,
2007, or a day after the petition was filed. Agbayani asserted that these thirty-six
(36) documents were surreptitiously and illegally attached to the records of the case,
an act constituting extrinsic fraud and grave misconduct.[15]At the very least, the DOJ
should have required respondent Genabe to formalize the insertion of the said
documents.

Petitioner Agbayani reiterated that her version of the incident was


corroborated by several witnesses (officemates of Agbayani and Genabe), while that
of Genabe was not. And since the crime committed by respondent Genabe consisted
of her exact utterances, the DOJ erred in downgrading the same to slight oral
defamation, completely disregarding the finding by the Investigating Prosecutor of
probable cause for the greater offense of grave oral defamation. She denied that she
gave provocation to respondent Genabe, insisting that the latter committed the
offense with malice aforethought and not in the heat of anger.

We find no merit in the above arguments.

It is well to be reminded, first of all, that the rules of procedure should be


viewed as mere instruments designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. They are
not to be applied with severity and rigidity when such application would clearly
defeat the very rationale for their conception and existence. Even the Rules of Court
reflects this principle.[16]

Anent the charge of non-compliance with the rules on appeal, Sections 5 and
6 of the aforesaid DOJ Circular provide:

SECTION 5. Contents of petition. - The petition shall contain or


state: (a) the names and addresses of the parties; (b) the Investigation Slip
number (I.S. No.) and criminal case number, if any, and title of the case,
including the offense charged in the complaint; (c) the venue of the
preliminary investigation; (d) the specific material dates showing that it
was filed on time; (e) a clear and concise statement of the facts, the
assignment of errors, and the reasons or arguments relied upon for the
allowance of the appeal; and (f) proof of service of a copy of the petition
to the adverse party and the Prosecution Office concerned.

The petition shall be accompanied by legible duplicate original or


certified true copy of the resolution appealed from together with legible
true copies of the complaint, affidavits/sworn statements and other
evidence submitted by the parties during the preliminary investigation/
reinvestigation.

If an information has been filed in court pursuant to the appealed


resolution, a copy of the motion to defer proceedings filed in court must
also accompany the petition.

The investigating/reviewing/approving prosecutor shall not be


impleaded as party respondent in the petition. The party taking the appeal
shall be referred to in the petition as either "Complainant-Appellant" or
"Respondent-Appellant."
SECTION 6. Effect of failure to comply with the requirements. The
failure of petitioner to comply WITH ANY of the foregoing
requirements shall constitute sufficient ground for the dismissal of the
petition.

Contrary to petitioner Agbayani's claim, there was substantial compliance


with the rules. Respondent Genabe actually mentioned on page 2 of her petition for
review to the DOJ the name of the petitioner as the private complainant, as well as
indicated the latters address on the last page thereof as RTC Branch 275, Las Pias
City. The CA also noted that there was proper service of the petition as required by
the rules since the petitioner was able to file her comment thereon. A copy thereof,
attached as Annex L in the instant petition, bears a mark that the comment was duly
received by the Prosecution Staff, Docket Section of the DOJ.Moreover, a computer
verification requested by the petitioner showed that the prosecutor assigned to the
case had received a copy of the petitioners comment.[17]

As to the charge of extrinsic fraud, which consists of the alleged suppression


of Agbayani's Comment and the unauthorized insertion of documents in the records
of the case with the DOJ, we agree with the CA that this is a serious charge,
especially if made against the Undersecretary of Justice; and in order for it to
prosper, it must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. However, petitioner
Agbayani's only proof is her bare claim that she personally checked the records and
found that her Comment was missing and 36 new documents had been inserted. This
matter was readily brought to the attention of Undersecretary Pineda by petitioner
Agbayani in her motion for reconsideration, who however must surely have found
such contention without merit, and thus denied the motion.[18]

Section 5 of the 2000 NPS Rules on Appeal also provides that the petition for
review must be accompanied by a legible duplicate original or certified true copy of
the resolution appealed from, together with legible true copies of the complaint,
affidavits or sworn statements and other evidence submitted by the parties during
the preliminary investigation or reinvestigation. Petitioner Agbayani does not claim
that she was never furnished, during the preliminary investigation, with copies of the
alleged inserted documents, or that any of these documents were fabricated. In fact,
at least seven (7) of these documents were copies of her own submissions to the
investigating prosecutor.[19] Presumably, the DOJ required respondent Genabe to
submit additional documents produced at the preliminary investigation, along with
Document Nos. 40 and 41, for a fuller consideration of her petition for review.

As for Document Nos. 40 and 41, which were dated a day after the filing of
the petition, Section 5 of the 2000 NPS Rules on Appeal provides that if an
Information has been filed in court pursuant to the appealed resolution, a copy of the
Motion to Defer Proceedings must also accompany the petition. Section 3 of the
above Rules states that an appeal to the DOJ must be taken within fifteen (15) days
from receipt of the resolution or of the denial of the motion for
reconsideration. While it may be presumed that the motion to defer arraignment
accompanying the petition should also be filed within the appeal period, respondent
Genabe can not actually be faulted if the resolution thereof was made after the lapse
of the period to appeal.

In Guy vs. Asia United Bank,[20] a motion for reconsideration from the
resolution of the Secretary of Justice, which was filed four (4) days beyond the non-
extendible period of ten (10) days, was allowed under Section 13 of the 2000 NPS
Rules on Appeal. The Supreme Court held that the authority of the Secretary of
Justice to review and order the withdrawal of an Information in instances where he
finds the absence of a prima facie case is not time-barred, albeit subject to the
approval of the court, if its jurisdiction over the accused has meanwhile
attached.[21] We further explained:

[I]t is not prudent or even permissible for a court to compel the Secretary
of Justice or the fiscal, as the case may be, to prosecute a proceeding
originally initiated by him on an information, if he finds that the evidence
relied upon by him is insufficient for conviction. Now, then, if the
Secretary of Justice possesses sufficient latitude of discretion in his
determination of what constitutes probable cause and can legally order a
reinvestigation even in those extreme instances where an information has
already been filed in court, is it not just logical and valid to assume that
he can take cognizance of and competently act on a motion for
reconsideration, belatedly filed it might have been, dealing with probable
cause? And is it not a grievous error on the part of the CA if it virtually
orders the filing of an information, as here, despite a categorical statement
from the Secretary of Justice about the lack of evidence to proceed with
the prosecution of the petitioner? The answer to both posers should be in
the affirmative. As we said in Santos v. Go:

[C]ourts cannot interfere with the discretion of the


public prosecutor in evaluating the offense charged. He may
dismiss the complaint forthwith, if he finds the charge
insufficient in form or substance, or without any ground. Or,
he may proceed with the investigation if the complaint in his
view is sufficient and in proper form. The decision whether
to dismiss a complaint or not, is dependent upon the sound
discretion of the prosecuting fiscal and, ultimately, that of
the Secretary of Justice. Findings of the Secretary of Justice
are not subject to review unless made with grave abuse of
discretion.

xxx

[T]o strike down the April 20, 2006 DOJ Secretary's Resolution as
absolutely void and without effect whatsoever, as the assailed CA decision
did, for having been issued after the Secretary had supposedly lost
jurisdiction over the motion for reconsideration subject of the resolution
may be reading into the aforequoted provision a sense not intended. For,
the irresistible thrust of the assailed CA decision is that the DOJ Secretary
is peremptorily barred from taking a second hard look at his decision and,
in appropriate cases, reverse or modify the same unless and until a motion
for reconsideration is timely interposed and pursued. The Court cannot
accord cogency to the posture assumed by the CA under the premises
which, needless to stress, would deny the DOJ the authority to motu
proprio undertake a review of his own decision with the end in view of
protecting, in line with his oath of office, innocent persons from
groundless, false or malicious prosecution. As the Court pointed out
in Torres, Jr. v. Aguinaldo, the Secretary of Justice would be committing
a serious dereliction of duty if he orders or sanctions the filing of an
information based upon a complaint where he is not convinced that the
evidence warrants the filing of the action in court.[22] (Citations omitted
and underscoring supplied)

The Court further stated in Guy that when the DOJ Secretary took cognizance
of the petitioner's motion for reconsideration, he effectively excepted such motion
from the operation of the aforequoted Section 13 of DOJ Circular No. 70, s.
2000. This show of liberality is, to us, within the competence of the DOJ Secretary
to make. The Court is not inclined to disturb the same absent compelling proof, that
he acted out of whim and that petitioner was out to delay the proceedings to the
prejudice of respondent in filing the motion for reconsideration.[23]

The case of First Women's Credit Corporation v. Perez,[24] succinctly


summarizes the general rules relative to criminal prosecution: that criminal
prosecution may not be restrained or stayed by injunction, preliminary or final, albeit
in extreme cases, exceptional circumstances have been recognized; that courts
follow the policy of non-interference in the conduct of preliminary investigations by
the DOJ, and of leaving to the investigating prosecutor sufficient latitude of
discretion in the determination of what constitutes sufficient evidence as will
establish probable cause for the filing of an information against a supposed offender;
and, that the court's duty in an appropriate case is confined to a determination of
whether the assailed executive or judicial determination of probable cause was done
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
want of jurisdiction.

But while prosecutors are given sufficient latitude of discretion in the


determination of probable cause, their findings are still subject to review by the
Secretary of Justice. Surely, this power of the Secretary of Justice to review includes
the discretion to accept additional evidence from the investigating prosecutor or
from herein respondent Genabe, evidence which nonetheless appears to have already
been submitted to the investigating prosecutor but inadvertently omitted by her when
she filed her petition.

3. Coming now to the DOJ's finding that the complaint fails to state a cause
of action, the CA held that the DOJ committed no grave abuse of discretion in
causing the dismissal thereof on the ground of non-compliance with the provisions
of the Local Government Code of 1991, on the Katarungang
Pambarangay conciliation procedure.

Undeniably, both petitioner Agbayani and respondent Genabe are residents of


Las Pias City and both work at the RTC, and the incident which is the subject matter
of the case happened in their workplace.[25] Agbayanis complaint should have
undergone the mandatory barangay conciliation for possible amicable settlement
with respondent Genabe, pursuant to Sections 408 and 409 of Republic Act No. 7160
or the Local Government Code of 1991 which provide:

Sec. 408. Subject Matter for Amicable Settlement; Exception


thereto. The lupon of each barangay shall have authority to bring together
the parties actually residing in the same city or municipality for amicable
settlement of all disputes, except: x x x

Sec. 409. Venue. x x x (d) Those arising at the workplace where the
contending parties are employed or x x x shall be brought in
the barangay where such workplace or institution is located.

Administrative Circular No. 14-93,[26] issued by the Supreme Court on July


15, 1993 states that:

xxx

I. All disputes are subject to Barangay conciliation pursuant to the Revised


Katarungang Pambarangay Law [formerly P.D. 1508, repealed and now
replaced by Secs. 399-422, Chapter VII, Title I, Book III, and Sec. 515,
Title I, Book IV, R.A. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government
Code of 1991], and prior recourse thereto is a pre-condition before filing
a complaint in court or any government offices, except in the following
disputes:

[1] Where one party is the government, or any subdivision


or instrumentality thereof;

[2] Where one party is a public officer or employee and the dispute relates
to the performance of his official functions;

[3] Where the dispute involves real properties located in different cities and
municipalities, unless the parties thereto agree to submit their difference to
amicable settlement by an appropriate Lupon;

[4] Any complaint by or against corporations, partnerships or juridical


entities, since only individuals shall be parties to Barangay conciliation
proceedings either as complainants or respondents [Sec. 1, Rule VI,
Katarungang Pambarangay Rules];
[5] Disputes involving parties who actually reside in barangays of different
cities or municipalities, except where such barangay units adjoin each other
and the parties thereto agree to submit their differences to amicable
settlement by an appropriate Lupon;

[6] Offenses for which the law prescribes a maximum penalty of


imprisonment exceeding one [1] year or a fine of over five thousand pesos
([P]5,000.00);

[7] Offenses where there is no private offended party;

[8] Disputes where urgent legal action is necessary to prevent injustice from
being committed or further continued, specifically the following:

[a] Criminal cases where accused is under police custody or


detention [See Sec. 412(b)(1), Revised Katarungang
Pambarangay Law];

[b] Petitions for habeas corpus by a person illegally deprived of his


rightful custody over another or a person illegally deprived
of or on acting in his behalf;

[c] Actions coupled with provisional remedies such as preliminary


injunction, attachment, delivery of personal property and
support during the pendency of the action; and

[d] Actions which may be barred by the Statute of Limitations.

[9] Any class of disputes which the President may determine in the
interest of justice or upon the recommendation of the Secretary of
Justice;

[10] Where the dispute arises from the Comprehensive Agrarian


Reform Law (CARL) [Secs. 46 & 47, R. A. 6657];

[11] Labor disputes or controversies arising from employer-


employee relations [Montoya vs. Escayo, 171 SCRA 442; Art. 226,
Labor Code, as amended, which grants original and exclusive
jurisdiction over conciliation and mediation of disputes, grievances
or problems to certain offices of the Department of Labor and
Employment];
[12] Actions to annul judgment upon a compromise which may be
filed directly in court [See Sanchez vs. [Judge] Tupaz, 158 SCRA
459].

xxx

The compulsory process of arbitration is a pre-condition for the filing of the


complaint in court. Where the complaint (a) did not state that it is one of excepted
cases, or (b) it did not allege prior availment of said conciliation process, or (c) did
not have a certification that no conciliation had been reached by the parties, the case
should be dismissed.[27]

Here, petitioner Agbayani failed to show that the instant case is not one of the
exceptions enumerated above. Neither has she shown that the oral defamation
caused on her was so grave as to merit a penalty of more than one year. Oral
defamation under Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is penalized
as follows:

Article 358. Slander. Oral defamation shall be punished by arresto


mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period
if it is of a serious and insulting nature; otherwise, the penalty shall be arresto
menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos.

Apparently, the DOJ found probable cause only for slight oral defamation. As
defined in Villanueva v. People,[28] oral defamation or slander is the speaking of base
and defamatory words which tend to prejudice another in his reputation, office,
trade, business or means of livelihood. It is grave slander when it is of a serious and
insulting nature. The gravity depends upon: (1) the expressions used; (2) the
personal relations of the accused and the offended party; and (3) the special
circumstances of the case, the antecedents or relationship between the offended party
and the offender, which may tend to prove the intention of the offender at the time. In
particular, it is a rule that uttering defamatory words in the heat of anger, with some
provocation on the part of the offended party constitutes only a light felony.[29]
We recall that in the morning of December 27, 2006 when the alleged
utterances were made, Genabe was about to punch in her time in her card when she
was informed that she had been suspended for failing to meet her deadline in a case,
and that it was Agbayani who informed the presiding judge that she had missed her
deadline when she left to attend a convention in Baguio City, leaving Agbayani to
finish the task herself. According to Undersecretary Pineda, the confluence of these
circumstances was the immediate cause of respondent Genabe's emotional and
psychological distress. We rule that his determination that the defamation was
uttered while the respondent was in extreme excitement or in a state of passion and
obfuscation, rendering her offense of lesser gravity than if it had been made with
cold and calculating deliberation, is beyond the ambit of our review.[30] The CA
concurred that the complained utterances constituted only slight oral defamation,
having been said in the heat of anger and with perceived provocation from
Agbayani. Respondent Genabe was of a highly volatile personality prone to throw
fits (sumpongs), who thus shared a hostile working environment with her co-
employees, particularly with her superiors, Agbayani and Hon. Bonifacio Sanz
Maceda, the Presiding Judge of Branch 275, whom she claimed had committed
against her grievous acts that outrage moral and social conduct. That there had been
a long-standing animosity between Agbayani and Genabe is not denied.

4. Lastly, petitioner Agbayani insists that the DOJ should have dismissed
respondent Genabe's petition for review outright pursuant to Sections 5 and 6 of DOJ
Circular No. 70. It is true that the general rule in statutory construction is that the
words shall, must, ought, or should are words of mandatory character in common
parlance and in their in ordinary signification,[31] yet, it is also well-recognized in
law and equity as a not absolute and inflexible criterion.[32]Moreover, it is well to be
reminded that DOJ Circular No. 70 is a mere tool designed to facilitate, not obstruct,
the attainment of justice through appeals taken with the National Prosecution
Service. Thus, technical rules of procedure like those under Sections 5 and 6 thereof
should be interpreted in such a way to promote, not frustrate, justice.

Besides, Sections 7 and 10 of DOJ Circular No. 70 clearly give the Secretary
of Justice, or the Undersecretary in his place, wide latitude of discretion whether or
not to dismiss a petition. Section 6 of DOJ Circular No. 70, invoked by petitioner
Agbayani, is clearly encompassed within this authority, as shown by a cursory
reading of Sections 7 and 10, to wit:
SECTION 7. Action on the petition. The Secretary of
Justice may dismiss the petition outright if he finds the same to be
patently without merit or manifestly intended for delay, or when the issues
raised therein are too unsubstantial to require consideration.

SECTION 12. Disposition of the appeal. The


Secretary may reverse, affirm or modify the appealed resolution. He
may, motu proprio or upon motion, dismiss the petition for review on any
of the following grounds:

That the petition was filed beyond the period prescribed


in Section 3 hereof;
That the procedure or any of the requirements
herein provided has not been complied with;
That there is no showing of any reversible error;
That the appealed resolution is interlocutory in
nature, except when it suspends the proceedings based on
the alleged existence of a prejudicial question;
That the accused had already been arraigned when the
appeal was taken;
That the offense has already prescribed; and
That other legal or factual grounds exist to warrant a
dismissal.

We reiterate what we have stated in Yao v. Court of Appeals[33] that:

In the interest of substantial justice, procedural rules of the most


mandatory character in terms of compliance, may be relaxed. In other
words, if strict adherence to the letter of the law would result in absurdity
and manifest injustice, or where the merit of a party's cause is apparent
and outweighs consideration of non-compliance with certain formal
requirements, procedural rules should definitely be liberally construed. A
party-litigant is to be given the fullest opportunity to establish the merits
of his complaint or defense rather than for him to lose life, liberty, honor
or property on mere technicalities.[34] (Citations omitted)
All told, we find that the CA did not commit reversible error in upholding the
Resolution dated May 17, 2007 of the DOJ as we, likewise, find the same to be in
accordance with law and jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition for review is


hereby DENIED. Accordingly, the Decision dated March 27, 2008 and the
Resolution dated July 3, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 99626
are AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.

UNION BANK OF THE PHIL VS PEOPLE


We review in this Rule 45 petition, the decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 65, Makati City (RTC-Makati City) in Civil Case No. 09-1038. The petition
seeks to reverse and set aside the RTC-Makati City decision dismissing the petition
for certiorari of petitioners Union Bank of the Philippines (Union Bank) and Desi
Tomas (collectively, the petitioners). The RTC found that the Metropolitan Trial
Court, Branch 63, Makati City (MeTC-Makati City) did not commit any grave abuse
of discretion in denying the motion to quash the information for perjury filed by
Tomas.

The Antecedents

Tomas was charged in court for perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal
Code (RPC) for making a false narration in a Certificate against Forum Shopping.
The Information against her reads:

That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make untruthful
statements under oath upon a material matter before a competent person authorized
to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in the
Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a complaint for sum of money with
prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil] Case No. 342-00 of the
Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank of the Philippines has
not commenced any other action or proceeding involving the same issues in another
tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said material statement was false
thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of falsehood.[2]

The accusation stemmed from petitioner Union Banks two (2) complaints for
sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin against the spouses Eddie and Eliza
Tamondong and a John Doe. The first complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 98-
0717, was filed before the RTC, Branch 109, Pasay City on April 13, 1998.
The second complaint, docketed as Civil Case No. 342-000, was filed on March 15,
2000 and raffled to the MeTC, Branch 47, Pasay City. Both complaints showed that
Tomas executed and signed the Certification against Forum Shopping. Accordingly,
she was charged of deliberately violating Article 183 of the RPC by falsely declaring
under oath in the Certificate against Forum Shopping in the second complaint that
she did not commence any other action or proceeding involving the same issue in
another tribunal or agency.

Tomas filed a Motion to Quash,[3] citing two grounds. First, she argued that
the venue was improperly laid since it is the Pasay City court (where the Certificate
against Forum Shopping was submitted and used) and not the MeTC-
Makati City (where the Certificate against Forum Shopping was subscribed) that has
jurisdiction over the perjury case. Second, she argued that the facts charged do not
constitute an offense because: (a) the third element of perjury the willful and
deliberate assertion of falsehood was not alleged with particularity without
specifying what the other action or proceeding commenced involving the same
issues in another tribunal or agency; (b) there was no other action or proceeding
pending in another court when the second complaint was filed; and (c) she was
charged with perjury by giving false testimony while the allegations in the
Information make out perjury by making a false affidavit.
The MeTC-Makati City denied the Motion to Quash, ruling that it has
jurisdiction over the case since the Certificate against Forum Shopping was
notarized in Makati City.[4] The MeTC-Makati City also ruled that the allegations in
the Information sufficiently charged Tomas with perjury.[5] The MeTC-
Makati Citysubsequently denied Tomas motion for reconsideration.[6]

The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari before the RTC-Makati City to
annul and set aside the MeTC-Makati City orders on the ground of grave abuse of
discretion. The petitioners anchored their petition on the rulings in United States v.
Canet[7] and Ilusorio v. Bildner[8] which ruled that venue and jurisdiction should be
in the place where the false document was presented.

The Assailed RTC Decision


In dismissing the petition for certiorari, the RTC-Makati City held:

[I]nsofar as the petitioners stance is concerned[,] the more recent case of [Sy Tiong
Shiou v. Sy] (GR Nos. 174168 & 179438, March 30, 2009) however, reaffirms what
has been the long standing view on the venue with respect to perjury cases. In this
particular case[,] the high court reiterated the rule that the criminal action shall be
instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory where the offense
was committed, or where any of its essential ingredients occurred. It went on to
declare that since the subject document[,] the execution of which was the subject of
the charge[,] was subscribed and sworn to in Manila[,] then the court of the said
territorial jurisdiction was the proper venue of the criminal action[.]

xxxx

x x x Given the present state of jurisprudence on the matter, it is not amiss to state
that the city court of Makati City has jurisdiction to try and decide the case for
perjury inasmuch as the gist of the complaint itself which constitute[s] the charge
against the petitioner dwells solely on the act of subscribing to a false certification.
On the other hand, the charge against the accused in the case of Ilusorio v. Bildner,
et al., based on the complaint-affidavits therein[,] was not simply the execution of
the questioned documents but rather the introduction of the false evidence through
the subject documents before the court of Makati City.[9] (emphasis ours)
The RTC-Makati City ruled that the MeTC-Makati City did not commit
grave abuse of discretion since the order denying the Motion to Quash was based on
jurisprudence later than Ilusorio. The RTC-Makati City also observed that the facts
in Ilusorio are different from the facts of the present case. Lastly, the RTC-
Makati City ruled that the Rule 65 petition was improper since the petitioners can
later appeal the decision in the principal case. The RTC-Makati Citysubsequently
denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration.[10]

The Petition

The petitioners pray that we reverse the RTC-Makati City decision and quash the
Information for perjury against Tomas. The petitioners contend that
the Ilusorio ruling is more applicable to the present facts than our ruling in Sy Tiong
Shiou v. Sy Chim.[11] They argued that the facts in Ilusorio showed that the filing of
the petitions in court containing the false statements was the essential ingredient that
consummated the perjury. In Sy Tiong, the perjurious statements were made in a
General Information Sheet (GIS) that was submitted to the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC).

Interestingly, Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz shared the petitioners view.
In his Manifestation and Motion in lieu of Comment (which we hereby treat as the
Comment to the petition), the Solicitor General also relied on Ilusorio and opined
that the lis mota in the crime of perjury is the deliberate or intentional giving of false
evidence in the court where the evidence is material. The Solicitor General observed
that the criminal intent to assert a falsehood under oath only became manifest before
the MeTC-Pasay City.

The Issue
The case presents to us the issue of what the proper venue of perjury under Article
183 of the RPC should be Makati City, where the Certificate against Forum
Shopping was notarized, or Pasay City, where the Certification was presented to the
trial court.

The Courts Ruling

We deny the petition and hold that the MeTC-Makati City is the proper venue
and the proper court to take cognizance of the perjury case against the
petitioners.

Venue of Action and Criminal Jurisdiction


Venue is an essential element of jurisdiction in criminal cases. It determines
not only the place where the criminal action is to be instituted, but also the court that
has the jurisdiction to try and hear the case. The reason for this rule is two-fold. First,
the jurisdiction of trial courts is limited to well-defined territories such that a trial
court can only hear and try cases involving crimes committed within its territorial
jurisdiction.[12] Second, laying the venue in the locus criminis is grounded on the
necessity and justice of having an accused on trial in the municipality of province
where witnesses and other facilities for his defense are available.[13]

Unlike in civil cases, a finding of improper venue in criminal cases carries


jurisdictional consequences. In determining the venue where the criminal action is
to be instituted and the court which has jurisdiction over it, Section 15(a), Rule 110
of the 2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:

(a) Subject to existing laws, the criminal action shall be instituted and tried in the
court or municipality or territory where the offense was committed or where
any of its essential ingredients occurred. [emphasis ours]
The above provision should be read in light of Section 10, Rule 110 of the
2000 Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which states:

Place of commission of the offense. The complaint or information is sufficient if it


can be understood from its allegations that the offense was committed or some of
its essential ingredients occurred at some place within the jurisdiction of the court,
unless the particular place where it was committed constitutes an essential element
of the offense charged or is necessary for its identification.

Both provisions categorically place the venue and jurisdiction over criminal
cases not only in the court where the offense was committed, but also where any of
its essential ingredients took place. In other words, the venue of
action and of jurisdiction are deemed sufficiently alleged where the Information
states that the offense was committed or some of its essential ingredients occurred
at a place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

Information Charging Perjury

Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, contains


the requirement for a Certificate against Forum Shopping. The Certificate against
Forum Shopping can be made either by a statement under oath in the complaint or
initiatory pleading asserting a claim or relief; it may also be in a sworn certification
annexed to the complaint or initiatory pleading. In both instances, the affiant is
required to execute a statement under oath before a duly commissioned notary public
or any competent person authorized to administer oath that: (a) he or she has not
theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim involving the same issues in
any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his or her knowledge,
no such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending
action or claim, a complete statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he or
she should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or
is pending, he or she shall report that fact within five days therefrom to the court
wherein his or her aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed. In
relation to the crime of perjury, the material matter in a Certificate against Forum
Shopping is the truth of the required declarations which is designed to guard
against litigants pursuing simultaneous remedies in different fora.[14]

In this case, Tomas is charged with the crime of perjury under Article 183 of
the RPC for making a false Certificate against Forum Shopping. The elements of
perjury under Article 183 are:

(a) That the accused made a statement under oath or executed an


affidavit upon a material matter.

(b) That the statement or affidavit was made before a competent


officer, authorized to receive and administer oath.

(c) That in the statement or affidavit, the accused made a willful


and deliberate assertion of a falsehood.

(d) That the sworn statement or affidavit containing the falsity


is required by law or made for a legal purpose.[15] (emphasis
ours)

Where the jurisdiction of the court is being assailed in a criminal case on the
ground of improper venue, the allegations in the complaint and information must be
examined together with Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure. On this basis, we find that the allegations in the Information
sufficiently support a finding that the crime of perjury was committed by Tomas
within the territorial jurisdiction of the MeTC-Makati City.

The first element of the crime of perjury, the execution of the subject
Certificate against Forum Shopping was alleged in the Information to have been
committed in Makati City. Likewise, the second and fourth elements, requiring the
Certificate against Forum Shopping to be under oath before a notary public, were
also sufficiently alleged in the Information to have been made in Makati City:
That on or about the 13th day of March 2000 in the City of Makati, Metro
Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make
untruthful statements under oath upon a material matter before a competent person
authorized to administer oath which the law requires to wit: said accused stated in
the Verification/Certification/Affidavit x x x.[16]

We also find that the third element of willful and deliberate falsehood was also
sufficiently alleged to have been committed in Makati City, not Pasay City, as
indicated in the last portion of the Information:

[S]aid accused stated in the Verification/Certification/Affidavit of merit of a


complaint for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin docketed as [Civil]
Case No. 342-00 of the Metropolitan Trial Court[,] Pasay City, that the Union Bank
of the Philippines has not commenced any other action or proceeding involving the
same issues in another tribunal or agency, accused knowing well that said material
statement was false thereby making a willful and deliberate assertion of
falsehood.[17] (underscoring ours)

Tomas deliberate and intentional assertion of falsehood was allegedly shown


when she made the false declarations in the Certificate against Forum Shopping
before a notary public in Makati City, despite her knowledge that the material
statements she subscribed and swore to were not true. Thus, Makati City is the
proper venue and MeTC-Makati City is the proper court to try the perjury case
against Tomas, pursuant to Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure as all the essential elements constituting the crime of perjury
were committed within the territorial jurisdiction of Makati City, not Pasay City.

Referral to the En Banc

The present case was referred to the En Banc primarily to address the seeming
conflict between the division rulings of the Court in the Ilusorio case that is cited as
basis of this petition, and the Sy Tiong case that was the basis of the assailed RTC-
Makati City ruling.

The Cited Ilusorio and Sy Tiong Cases

The subject matter of the perjury charge in Ilusorio involved false statements
contained in verified petitions filed with the court for the issuance of a new owners
duplicate copies of certificates of title. The verified petitions containing the false
statements were subscribed and sworn to in Pasig City, but were filed
in Makati City and Tagaytay City. The question posed was: which court
(Pasig City, Makati City and/or Tagaytay City) had jurisdiction to try and hear the
perjury cases?

We ruled that the venues of the action were in Makati City and Tagaytay City,
the places where the verified petitions were filed. The Court reasoned out that it was
only upon filing that the intent to assert an alleged falsehood became manifest and
where the alleged untruthful statement found relevance or materiality. We cited as
jurisprudential authority the case of United States. v. Caet[18] which ruled:

It is immaterial where the affidavit was subscribed and sworn, so long as it appears
from the information that the defendant, by means of such affidavit, "swore to" and
knowingly submitted false evidence, material to a point at issue in a judicial
proceeding pending in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo Province. The gist of the
offense charged is not the making of the affidavit in Manila, but the intentional
giving of false evidence in the Court of First Instance of Iloilo Province by means
of such affidavit. [emphasis and underscoring deleted]

In Sy Tiong, the perjured statements were made in a GIS which was


subscribed and sworn to in Manila. We ruled that the proper venue for the perjury
charges was in Manila where the GIS was subscribed and sworn to. We held that the
perjury was consummated in Manila where the false statement was made. As
supporting jurisprudence, we cited the case of Villanueva v. Secretary of
Justice[19] that, in turn, cited an American case entitled U.S. v. Norris.[20] We ruled
in Villanueva that

Perjury is an obstruction of justice; its perpetration well may affect the


dearest concerns of the parties before a tribunal. Deliberate material falsification
under oath constitutes the crime of perjury, and the crime is complete when a
witness' statement has once been made.

The Crime of Perjury: A Background

To have a better appreciation of the issue facing the Court, a look at the
historical background of how the crime of perjury (specifically, Article 183 of the
RPC) evolved in our jurisdiction.

The RPC penalizes three forms of false testimonies. The first is false testimony for
and against the defendant in a criminal case (Articles 180 and 181, RPC);
the second is false testimony in a civil case (Article 182, RPC); and the third is false
testimony in other cases (Article 183, RPC). Based on the Information filed, the
present case involves the making of an untruthful statement in an affidavit on
a material matter.
These RPC provisions, however, are not really the bases of the rulings cited
by the parties in their respective arguments. The cited Ilusorio ruling, although
issued by this Court in 2008, harked back to the case of Caet which was decided in
1915, i.e., before the present RPC took effect.[21] Sy Tiong, on the other hand, is a
2009 ruling that cited Villanueva, a 2005 case that in turn cited United States v.
Norris, a 1937 American case. Significantly, unlike Canet, Sy Tiong is entirely
based on rulings rendered after the present RPC took effect.[22]

The perjurious act in Caet consisted of an information charging perjury


through the presentation in court of a motion accompanied by a false sworn
affidavit. At the time the Caet ruling was rendered, the prevailing law on perjury and
the rules on prosecution of criminal offenses were found in Section 3, Act No. 1697
of the Philippine Commission, and in Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No.
58[23] for the procedural aspect.

Section 3 of Act No. 1697 reads:

Sec. 3. Any person who, having taken oath before a competent tribunal,
officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the Philippine Islands authorizes
an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or
that any written testimony, declaration, disposition, or certificate by him subscribed
is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter
which he does not believe to be true, is guilty of perjury, and shall be punished by
a fine of not more than two thousand pesos and by imprisonment for not more than
five years; and shall moreover, thereafter be incapable of holding any public office
or of giving testimony in any court of the Philippine Islands until such time as the
judgment against him is reversed.
This law was copied, with the necessary changes, from Sections 5392 [24] and
5393[25] of the Revised Statutes of the United States.[26] Act No. 1697 was intended
to make the mere execution of a false affidavit punishable in our jurisdiction.[27]

In turn, Subsection 4, Section 6 of General Order No. 58 provided that the


venue shall be the court of the place where the crime was committed.

As applied and interpreted by the Court in Caet, perjury was committed by


the act of representing a false document in a judicial proceeding.[28] The venue of
action was held by the Court to be at the place where the false document was
presented since the presentation was the act that consummated the crime.
The annotation of Justices Aquino and Grio-Aquino in their textbook on the
RPC[29] interestingly explains the history of the perjury provisions of the present
RPC and traces as well the linkage between Act No. 1697 and the present Code. To
quote these authors:[30]

Art. 180 was taken from art. 318 of the Old Penal Code and art. 154 of Del
Pans Proposed Correctional Code, while art. 181 was taken from art. 319 of the old
Penal Code and Art. 157 of Del Pans Proposed Correctional Code. Said arts. 318
and 319, together with art. 321 of the old Penal Code, were impliedly repealed by
Act 1697, the Perjury Law, passed on August 23, 1907, which in turn was expressly
repealed by the Administrative Code of 1916, Act 2657. In view of the express
repeal of Act 1697, arts. 318 and 321 of the old Penal Code were deemed
revived. However, Act 2718 expressly revived secs. 3 and 4 of the Perjury
Law. Art. 367 of the Revised Penal Code repealed Act Nos. 1697 and 2718.

It should be noted that perjury under Acts 1697 and 2718 includes false
testimony, whereas, under the Revised Penal Code, false testimony includes
perjury. Our law on false testimony is of Spanish origin, but our law on perjury (art.
183 taken from sec. 3 of Act 1697) is derived from American statutes. The
provisions of the old Penal Code on false testimony embrace perjury committed in
court or in some contentious proceeding, while perjury as defined in Act 1697
includes the making of a false affidavit.The provisions of the Revised Penal Code
on false testimony are more severe and strict than those of Act 1697 on perjury.
[italics ours]

With this background, it can be appreciated that Article 183 of the RPC which
provides:

The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its
minimum period shall be imposed upon any person, who knowingly makes
untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding
articles, shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter
before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the
law so requires. [emphasis supplied; emphases ours]

in fact refers to either of two punishable acts (1) falsely testifying under oath in a
proceeding other than a criminal or civil case; and (2) making a false affidavit
before a person authorized to administer an oath on any material matter where the
law requires an oath.

As above discussed, Sy Tiong decided under Article 183 of the RPC


essentially involved perjured statements made in a GIS that was subscribed and
sworn to in Manila and submitted to the SEC in Mandaluyong City. Thus, the case
involved the making of an affidavit, not an actual testimony in a proceeding that is
neither criminal nor civil. From this perspective, the situs of the oath, i.e., the place
where the oath was taken, is the place where the offense was committed. By
implication, the proper venue would have been the City of Mandaluyong the site of
the SEC had the charge involved an actual testimony made before the SEC.

In contrast, Caet involved the presentation in court of a motion supported and


accompanied by an affidavit that contained a falsity. With Section 3 of Act No. 1697
as basis, the issue related to the submission of the affidavit in a judicial
proceeding. This came at a time when Act No. 1697 was the perjury law, and made
no distinction between judicial and other proceedings, and at the same time
separately penalized the making of false statements under oath (unlike the present
RPC which separately deals with false testimony in criminal, civil and other
proceedings, while at the same time also penalizing the making of false
affidavits). Understandably, the venue should be the place where the submission was
made to the court or the situs of the court; it could not have been the place where the
affidavit was sworn to simply because this was not the offense charged in the
Information.

The case of Ilusorio cited the Caet case as its authority, in a situation where
the sworn petitions filed in court for the issuance of duplicate certificates of title (that
were allegedly lost) were the cited sworn statements to support the charge of perjury
for the falsities stated in the sworn petitions. The Court ruled that the proper venue
should be the Cities of Makati and Tagaytay because it was in the courts of these
cities where the intent to assert an alleged falsehood became manifest and where the
alleged untruthful statement finds relevance or materiality in deciding the issue of
whether new owners duplicate copies of the [Certificate of Condominium Title] and
[Transfer Certificates of Title] may issue.[31] To the Court, whether the perjurious
statements contained in the four petitions were subscribed and sworn in Pasig is
immaterial, the gist of the offense of perjury being the intentional giving of false
statement,[32] citing Caet as authority for its statement.
The statement in Ilusorio may have partly led to the present confusion on
venue because of its very categorical tenor in pointing to the considerations to be
made in the determination of venue; it leaves the impression that the place where the
oath was taken is not at all a material consideration, forgetting that Article 183 of
the RPC clearly speaks of two situations while Article 182 of the RPC likewise
applies to false testimony in civil cases.

The Ilusorio statement would have made perfect sense had the basis for the
charge been Article 182 of the RPC, on the assumption that the petition itself
constitutes a false testimony in a civil case. The Caet ruling would then have been
completely applicable as the sworn statement is used in a civil case, although no
such distinction was made under Caet because the applicable law at the time (Act
No. 1697) did not make any distinction.

If Article 183 of the RPC were to be used, as what in fact appears in


the Ilusorio ruling, then only that portion of the article, referring to the making of an
affidavit, would have been applicable as the other portion refers to false testimony
in other proceedings which a judicial petition for the issuance of a new owners
duplicate copy of a Certificate of Condominium Title is not because it is a civil
proceeding in court. As a perjury based on the making of a false affidavit, what
assumes materiality is the site where the oath was taken as this is the place where
the oath was made, in this case, Pasig City.

Procedurally, the rule on venue of criminal cases has been subject to various
changes from the time General Order No. 58 was replaced by Rules 106 to 122 of
the Rules of Court on July 1, 1940. Section 14, Rule 106 of the Rules of Court
provided for the rule on venue of criminal actions and it expressly included, as
proper venue, the place where any one of the essential ingredients of the crime took
place. This change was followed by the passage of the 1964 Rules of Criminal
Procedure,[33] the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure,[34] and the 2000 Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure which all adopted the 1940 Rules of Criminal Procedures
expanded venue of criminal actions. Thus, the venue of criminal cases is not only in
the place where the offense was committed, but also where any of its essential
ingredients took place.

In the present case, the Certification against Forum Shopping was made
integral parts of two complaints for sum of money with prayer for a writ of replevin
against the respondent spouses Eddie Tamondong and Eliza B. Tamondong, who, in
turn, filed a complaint-affidavit against Tomas for violation of Article 183 of the
RPC. As alleged in the Information that followed, the criminal act charged was for
the execution by Tomas of an affidavit that contained a falsity.

Under the circumstances, Article 183 of the RPC is indeed the applicable
provision; thus, jurisdiction and venue should be determined on the basis of this
article which penalizes one who make[s] an affidavit, upon any material matter
before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law
so requires. The constitutive act of the offense is the making of an affidavit; thus,
the criminal act is consummated when the statement containing a falsity is
subscribed and sworn before a duly authorized person.

Based on these considerations, we hold that our ruling in Sy Tiong is more in


accord with Article 183 of the RPC and Section 15(a), Rule 110 of the 2000 Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure. To reiterate for the guidance of the Bar and the Bench,
the crime of perjury committed through the making of a false affidavit under Article
183 of the RPC is committed at the time the affiant subscribes and swears to his or
her affidavit since it is at that time that all the elements of the crime of perjury are
executed. When the crime is committed through false testimony under oath in a
proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, venue is at the place where the testimony
under oath is given. If in lieu of or as supplement to the actual testimony made in a
proceeding that is neither criminal nor civil, a written sworn statement is submitted,
venue may either be at the place where the sworn statement is submitted or where
the oath was taken as the taking of the oath and the submission are both material
ingredients of the crime committed. In all cases, determination of venue shall be
based on the acts alleged in the Information to be constitutive of the crime
committed.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we hereby DENY the petition for lack


of merit. Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

FORTUN VS MACAPAGAL-ARROYO
These cases concern the constitutionality of a presidential proclamation of martial
law and suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus in 2009 in a province
in Mindanao which were withdrawn after just eight days.

The Facts and the Case

The essential background facts are not in dispute. On November 23, 2009 heavily
armed men, believed led by the ruling Ampatuan family, gunned down and buried
under shoveled dirt 57 innocent civilians on a highway in Maguindanao. In response
to this carnage, on November 24 President Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation
1946, declaring a state of emergency in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat,
and Cotabato City to prevent and suppress similar lawless violence in Central
Mindanao.

Believing that she needed greater authority to put order in Maguindanao and
secure it from large groups of persons that have taken up arms against the constituted
authorities in the province, on December 4, 2009 President Arroyo issued
Presidential Proclamation 1959 declaring martial law and suspending the privilege
of the writ of habeas corpus in that province except for identified areas of the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front.
Two days later or on December 6, 2009 President Arroyo submitted her report
to Congress in accordance with Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution
which required her, within 48 hours from the proclamation of martial law or the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, to submit to that body a
report in person or in writing of her action.

In her report, President Arroyo said that she acted based on her finding that
lawless men have taken up arms in Maguindanao and risen against the
government. The President described the scope of the uprising, the nature, quantity,
and quality of the rebels weaponry, the movement of their heavily armed units in
strategic positions, the closure of the Maguindanao Provincial Capitol, Ampatuan
Municipal Hall, Datu Unsay Municipal Hall, and 14 other municipal halls, and the
use of armored vehicles, tanks, and patrol cars with unauthorized PNP/Police
markings.

On December 9, 2009 Congress, in joint session, convened pursuant to


Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution to review the validity of the
Presidents action. But, two days later or on December 12 before Congress could act,
the President issued Presidential Proclamation 1963, lifting martial law and restoring
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Maguindanao.

Petitioners Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun and the other petitioners in G.R. 190293,
190294, 190301,190302, 190307, 190356, and 190380 brought the present actions
to challenge the constitutionality of President Arroyos Proclamation 1959 affecting
Maguindanao. But, given the prompt lifting of that proclamation before Congress
could review it and before any serious question affecting the rights and liberties of
Maguindanaos inhabitants could arise, the Court deems any review of its
constitutionality the equivalent of beating a dead horse.

Prudence and respect for the co-equal departments of the government dictate that the
Court should be cautious in entertaining actions that assail the constitutionality of
the acts of the Executive or the Legislative department. The issue of
constitutionality, said the Court in Biraogo v. Philippine Truth Commission of
2010,[1] must be the very issue of the case, that the resolution of such issue is
unavoidable.
The issue of the constitutionality of Proclamation 1959 is not unavoidable for two
reasons:

One. President Arroyo withdrew her proclamation of martial law and suspension of
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus before the joint houses of Congress could
fulfill their automatic duty to review and validate or invalidate the same. The
pertinent provisions of Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution state:

Sec. 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed


forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call
out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or
rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires
it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof
under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of
martial law or the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus,
the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress.
The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its
Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or
suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon
the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner,
extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by
the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety
requires it.

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following


such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules
without any need of a call.

xxxx
Although the above vests in the President the power to proclaim martial law or
suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, he shares such power with the
Congress. Thus:

1. The Presidents proclamation or suspension is temporary, good for


only 60 days;

2. He must, within 48 hours of the proclamation or suspension, report


his action in person or in writing to Congress;
3. Both houses of Congress, if not in session must jointly convene
within 24 hours of the proclamation or suspension for the purpose of
reviewing its validity; and

4. The Congress, voting jointly, may revoke or affirm the Presidents


proclamation or suspension, allow their limited effectivity to lapse, or
extend the same if Congress deems warranted.

It is evident that under the 1987 Constitution the President and the Congress act in
tandem in exercising the power to proclaim martial law or suspend the privilege of
the writ of habeas corpus. They exercise the power, not only sequentially, but in a
sense jointly since, after the President has initiated the proclamation or the
suspension, only the Congress can maintain the same based on its own evaluation of
the situation on the ground, a power that the President does not have.

Consequently, although the Constitution reserves to the Supreme Court the power to
review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation or suspension in a
proper suit, it is implicit that the Court must allow Congress to exercise its own
review powers, which is automatic rather than initiated. Only when Congress
defaults in its express duty to defend the Constitution through such review should
the Supreme Court step in as its final rampart. The constitutional validity of the
Presidents proclamation of martial law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is
first a political question in the hands of Congress before it becomes a justiciable one
in the hands of the Court.

Here, President Arroyo withdrew Proclamation 1959 before the joint houses
of Congress, which had in fact convened, could act on the same. Consequently, the
petitions in these cases have become moot and the Court has nothing to review. The
lifting of martial law and restoration of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in
Maguindanao was a supervening event that obliterated any justiciable controversy.[2]
Two. Since President Arroyo withdrew her proclamation of martial law and
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in just eight days, they have
not been meaningfully implemented. The military did not take over the operation
and control of local government units in Maguindanao. The President did not issue
any law or decree affecting Maguindanao that should ordinarily be enacted by
Congress. No indiscriminate mass arrest had been reported. Those who were
arrested during the period were either released or promptly charged in court. Indeed,
no petition for habeas corpus had been filed with the Court respecting arrests made
in those eight days. The point is that the President intended by her action to address
an uprising in a relatively small and sparsely populated province. In her judgment,
the rebellion was localized and swiftly disintegrated in the face of a determined and
amply armed government presence.

In Lansang v. Garcia,[3] the Court received evidence in executive session to


determine if President Marcos suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus in 1971 had sufficient factual basis. In Aquino, Jr. v. Enrile,[4] while the
Court took judicial notice of the factual bases for President Marcos proclamation of
martial law in 1972, it still held hearings on the petitions for habeas corpus to
determine the constitutionality of the arrest and detention of the petitioners. Here,
however, the Court has not bothered to examine the evidence upon which President
Arroyo acted in issuing Proclamation 1959, precisely because it felt no need to, the
proclamation having been withdrawn within a few days of its issuance.

Justice Antonio T. Carpio points out in his dissenting opinion the finding of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City that no probable cause exist that the
accused before it committed rebellion in Maguindanao since the prosecution failed
to establish the elements of the crime. But the Court cannot use such finding as basis
for striking down the Presidents proclamation and suspension. For, firstly, the Court
did not delegate and could not delegate to the RTC of Quezon City its power to
determine the factual basis for the presidential proclamation and
suspension. Secondly, there is no showing that the RTC of Quezon City passed upon
the same evidence that the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,
had in her possession when she issued the proclamation and suspension.

The Court does not resolve purely academic questions to satisfy scholarly
interest, however intellectually challenging these are.[5] This is especially true, said
the Court in Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities v. Secretary of
Education,[6] where the issues reach constitutional dimensions, for then there comes
into play regard for the courts duty to avoid decision of constitutional issues unless
avoidance becomes evasion. The Courts duty is to steer clear of declaring
unconstitutional the acts of the Executive or the Legislative department, given the
assumption that it carefully studied those acts and found them consistent with the
fundamental law before taking them. To doubt is to sustain.[7]

Notably, under Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, the Court has
only 30 days from the filing of an appropriate proceeding to review the sufficiency
of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Thus

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any


citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial
law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the
extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within
thirty days from its filing. (Emphasis supplied)

More than two years have passed since petitioners filed the present actions to
annul Proclamation 1959. When the Court did not decide it then, it actually opted
for a default as was its duty, the question having become moot and academic.

Justice Carpio of course points out that should the Court regard the powers of
the President and Congress respecting the proclamation of martial law or the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus as sequential or joint, it
would be impossible for the Court to exercise its power of review within the 30 days
given it.

But those 30 days, fixed by the Constitution, should be enough for the Court
to fulfill its duty without pre-empting congressional action. Section 18, Article VII,
requires the President to report his actions to Congress, in person or in writing,
within 48 hours of such proclamation or suspension. In turn, the Congress is required
to convene without need of a call within 24 hours following the Presidents
proclamation or suspension. Clearly, the Constitution calls for quick action on the
part of the Congress. Whatever form that action takes, therefore, should give the
Court sufficient time to fulfill its own mandate to review the factual basis of the
proclamation or suspension within 30 days of its issuance.

If the Congress procrastinates or altogether fails to fulfill its duty respecting


the proclamation or suspension within the short time expected of it, then the Court
can step in, hear the petitions challenging the Presidents action, and ascertain if it
has a factual basis. If the Court finds none, then it can annul the proclamation or the
suspension. But what if the 30 days given it by the Constitution proves
inadequate? Justice Carpio himself offers the answer in his dissent: that 30-day
period does not operate to divest this Court of its jurisdiction over the case. The
settled rule is that jurisdiction once acquired is not lost until the case has been
terminated.

The problem in this case is that the President aborted the proclamation of
martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in
Maguindanao in just eight days. In a real sense, the proclamation and the suspension
never took off. The Congress itself adjourned without touching the matter, it having
become moot and academic.

Of course, the Court has in exceptional cases passed upon issues that
ordinarily would have been regarded as moot. But the present cases do not present
sufficient basis for the exercise of the power of judicial review. The proclamation of
martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in this
case, unlike similar Presidential acts in the late 60s and early 70s, appear more like
saber-rattling than an actual deployment and arbitrary use of political power.

WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the consolidated petitions on the


ground that the same have become moot and academic.

SO ORDERED.

TORRES VS PEREZ
CRIME: Unfair competition (violation of Section 168 in relation to Section 170) under RA 8293 (Intellectual Property
Code of the Philippines).

ACTION: Petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45

FACTS:
Imelda and Rodrigo Perez (Respondents, owner of RGP) and Shirley Torres (SCC) former business partners, had a
dispute over the brand Naturals since the undergarments of SCC were being passed of as RGPs.
A search warrant for the crime was issued by the RTC Manila against the respondents. The search warrant called for
the seizure of the undergarments. The search warrant was implemented the same day. However, it was quashed by
the same court upon motion of the respondents. TC ruled that respondents did not pass off Naturals as the
brand of another manufacturer, they thought they own SCC.
Petitioner filed a criminal complaint for unfair competition against respondents and Sunshine before the City
Prosecution Office of Makati City
Asst. City Prosecutor Saulog found probable cause to indict respondents for unfair competition. The prosecutor
said, however, that the partnership is still operational as the process of winding up the business has not been
completed. Thus, SCC remained owner of the Naturals brand, and petitioner being a legitimate partner thereof
had a right to file the complaint against the respondents.
The indictment was raffled to RTC Makati.

RTC
RTC Makati issued an Order finding probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against respondents.
Respondents filed a petition for review of the prosecutors resolution before the DOJ, which issued its own
Resolution reversing the finding of existence of probable cause against them. DOJ found that SCC had effectively
wound up the partnership affairs. Thus, when the criminal complaint was filed, there was no longer any
competition, unfair or otherwise, involving the partnership.

DOJ ruled that even if SCC had not yet terminated its business, respondents had the right to use the brand as they
were already exclusive owners of SCC following the payment of petitioners share.
Petition for review was granted, and the city prosecutor of Makati was ordered to withdraw the Information against
respondents.
DOJ denied the MR filed by petitioner. Hence, she filed a petition for cettiorari before the CA. Petitioner
questioned the DOJ resolution, but later withdrew the same
Following the directive of the DOJ, the prosecutor filed before the RTC Makati a Motion to Dismiss and/or
Withdraw Information. RTC denied the motion in an Order. It maintained the correctness of its finding of
existence of probable cause in the case and ruled that the findings of the DOJ would be better appreciated and
evaluated in the course of the trial
Respondents moved for reconsideration but their motion was denied by the RTC. Aggrieved, they filed a Petition
for Certiorari (with Prayer for the Issuance of a TRO and thereafter a Preliminary Injunction) before the CA.

CA:
Action: Petition for Cetiorari (by the respondents)
CA granted the petition. It found that the trial judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction when he denied the prosecutors motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause.
Sustained the position of respondents that the finding of probable cause for the filing of an information is an
executive function lodged with the prosecutor.
Trial judge did not make an independent assessment of the evidence on record in determining the existence of
probable cause for the offense of unfair competition, as opposed to the exhaustive study made by the DOJ before
arriving at its finding of lack of probable cause.
Ruled that in determining probable cause, the essential elements of the crime charged must be considered, for their
absence would mean that there is no criminal offense.
Affirmed the findings of the DOJ and the RTC Manila that respondents used the Naturals brand because they
believed that they were the owners of SCC, which owned the brand. Furthermore, the partnership had been
terminated; hence, the filing of the criminal complaint could no longer prosper. Filing of the criminal complaint for
unfair competition was nothing but an offshoot of the misunderstanding and quarrel between petitioner and
respondents (they refused to reimburse her for some travel expenses, claiming it was a personal trip)
Petitioner moved for reconsideration but was denied.. She then filed Petiton for Review on Certiorari (1 st GR)

Meanwhile, following the promulgation of the Decision of the CA, respondents filed an Urgent Motion to Dismiss
the criminal complaint for unfair competition before the RTC. The motion was duly opposed by petitioner, arguing
that the CA Decision had not yet attained finality in view of her pending petition before this Court; thus, the
motion was premature.

The RTC denied the motion to dismiss for lack of merit. However, upon MR filed by respondents, it issued an
Order (A) ordering the quashal of the Information against them. The trial court issued another Order (B) denying
petitioners MR.
CA issued a second Decision affirming the RTC Orders (A and B). The CA ruled that while its first Decision was
still under review before this Court, neither court had issued a restraining order or injunction that would prevent the
RTC from implementing the said Decision ordering the dismissal of the information against respondents
Furthermore, the CA ruled that since petitioner had withdrawn her petition in questioning the DOJ Resolution, the
issue of whether there was probable cause had already been resolved with finality in the negative. Thus, the trial
court cannot be faulted for following the CA directive to dismiss the Information against respondents.
Opting not to file a MR, petitioner again filed for a Petition for Review on Certiorari questioning the second CA
Decision. (2nd GR)

RULING: CA Decisions affirmed, fiding lack of probable cause for respondents alleged violation of the crime.
Information against respondents DISMISSED.

Whether there exists probable cause to indict respondents for unfair competition (violation of Section 168 in
relation to Section 170) under R.A. 8293 NONE
It is worth noting that Judge Untalan acted well within the exercise of his judicial discretion when he denied the
Motion to Dismiss and/or Withdraw Information filed by the prosecution. His finding that there was probable
cause to indict respondents for unfair competition, and that the findings of the DOJ would be better appreciated in
the course of a trial, was based on his own evaluation of the evidence brought before him.
Yambot v. Armovit,: Mandate of judges to make a personal evaluation of records submitted in support of criminal
complaints filed before their respective salas.
While the resolution of the prosecutorial arm is persuasive, it is not binding on the court. It may therefore grant
or deny at its option a motion to dismiss or to withdraw the information based on its own assessment of
the records of the preliminary investigation submitted to it, in the faithful exercise of judicial discretion
and prerogative
However, while we recognize that Judge Untalan did not commit grave abuse of discretion, we take note of his
apparent loss of steam when he issued the Order granting respondents motion for reconsideration of his earlier
ruling denying the Urgent Motion to Dismiss. The good judge yielded, even though he was well aware that the CA
Decision had not yet attained finality pending review by this Court.
There was no probable cause to indict respondents, because the crime of unfair competition was not
committed.
When Judge Untalan denied the Motion to Dismiss and/or Withdraw Information filed by the prosecution and
thereby sustained the position of petitioner, his error lay in the fact that his focus on the crime of unfair
competition was unwarranted. In this case, much more important than the issue of protection of intellectual
property is the change of ownership of SCC. The arguments of petitioner have no basis, because respondents are
the exclusive owners of SCC, of which she is no longer a partner.
Based on the findings of fact of the CA and the DOJ, respondents have completed the payments of the share of
petitioner in the partnership affairs. Having bought her out of SCC, respondents were already its exclusive owners
who, as such, had the right to use the Naturals brand.
The criminal complaint for unfair competition against respondents cannot prosper, for the elements of the crime
were not present. The key elements of unfair competition are deception, passing off and fraud upon the public.
No deception can be imagined to have been foisted on the public through different vendor codes,