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TORRES vs.

PAGCOR

GR 193531, December 14,


2011

Facts:
Petitioner was a Slot Machine Operations Supervisor of respondent PAGCOR. On the basis
of an alleged Operations Supervisor of respondent PAGCOR. On the basis of an alleged
intelligence report of padding of the CMR of the slot machines at PAGCOR – Hyatt Manila,
respondent PAGCOR’s CIU discovered the scheme of CMR padding which was committed by
adding zero after the 1st digit of the actual CMR of a slot machine or adding a digit before the
1st digit of the actual CMR. CIU identified petitioner as one of the members responsible for such
CMR padding. Petitioner was dismissed from the service.
Petitioner filed with the CSC a complaint for illegal dismissal and nonpayment of back wages
and other benefits against PAGCOR; alleging among others that he tried to persuade
respondent PAGCOR to review and reverse its decision in a letter of reconsideration addressed
to the Chairman, the members of the Board and the Merit Systems Protection Board.
CSC denied the appeal; it did not give credit to petitioner’s claim that he sent a facsimile
transmission of his letter reconsideration within the period prescribed. It found out that one of
the telephone numbers where petitioner allegedly sent his letter reconsideration did not belong
to PAGCOR’s office of the Board of Directors; and that petitioner should have mentioned about
the alleged facsimile transmission at the first instance where he filed his complaint.
On appeal, CA dismissed the petition for it found insufficient to merit consideration petitioner’s
claim that he had sent through a facsimile transmission a letter reconsideration addressed to
PAGCOR chair, members of the Board and the Merit Systems Protection Board, and assuming
that a letter was indeed sent, such facsimile transmission is inadmissible as electronic evidence
under the E-Commerce Act of 2000; and that the telephone number where petitioner claimed
stop be the recipient of the faxed document sent was not that of the PAGCOR’s office of the
Board of Directors.

Issue:
Whether or not the CSC erred in ruling that there was no valid letter reconsideration
submitted.

Held:
The mode used by the petitioner in filing his reconsideration is not sanctioned by the Uniform
Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. As stated earlier, the motion for
reconsideration may be filed only in two ways, either by mail or personal delivery.
” A facsimile is not a genuine and authentic pleading. It is, at best, an exact copy preserving all
the marks of an original. Without the original, there is no way of determining on its face whether
the facsimile pleading is genuine and authentic and was originally signed by them party and his
counsel. It may, in fact, be a sham pleading.xxx” (Garvida vs Sales, Jr.)
“We, therefore, conclude that the terms “electronic data message” and “electronic document” as
defined under the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, do not include a facsimile transmission.
Accordingly, a facsimile transmission cannot be considered as electronic evidence. It is not the
functional equivalent of an original under the Best Evidence Rule and is not admissible as
electronic evidence.” (MCC Industries Sales Corporation vs Ssangyong Corporation).
Petition denied.

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 204894, March 10, 2014

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, v. NOEL ENOJAS Y HINGPIT, ARNOLD GOMEZ YFABREGAS,
FERNANDO SANTOS Y DELANTAR, AND ROGER JALANDONI Y ARI, Appellants.

DECISION

ABAD, J.:

On September 4, 2006 the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas charged appellants Noel Enojas y Hingpit (Enojas),
Arnold Gomez y Fabregas (Gomez), Fernando Santos y Delantar (Santos), and Roger Jalandoni y Ari
(Jalandoni) with murder before the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Criminal Case 06-0854.1 crallawlib rary

PO2 Eduardo Gregorio, Jr. (PO2 Gregorio) testified that at around 10:30 in the evening of August 29, 2006,
he and PO2 Francisco Pangilinan (PO2 Pangilinan) were patrolling the vicinity of Toyota Alabang and SM
Southmall when they spotted a taxi that was suspiciously parked in front of the Aguila Auto Glass shop near
the intersection of BF Almanza and Alabang-Zapote Roads. The officers approached the taxi and asked the
driver, later identified as accused Enojas, for his documents. The latter complied but, having entertained
doubts regarding the veracity of documents shown them, they asked him to come with them to the police
station in their mobile car for further questioning.2
c rallawl ibra ry

Accused Enojas voluntarily went with the police officers and left his taxi behind. On reaching the 7-11
convenience store on the Zapote-Alabang Road, however, they stopped and PO2 Pangilinan went down to
relieve himself there. As he approached the store’s door, however, he came upon two suspected robbers and
shot it out with them. PO2 Pangilinan shot one suspect dead and hit the other who still managed to escape.
But someone fired at PO2 Pangilinan causing his death.

On hearing the shots, PO2 Gregorio came around and fired at an armed man whom he saw running towards
Pilar Village. He saw another man, who came from the Jollibbee outlet, run towards Alabang-Zapote Road
while firing his gun at PO2 Gregorio. The latter returned fire but the men were able to take a taxi and
escape. PO2 Gregorio radioed for help and for an ambulance. On returning to his mobile car, he realized that
accused Enojas, the taxi driver they had with them had fled.

P/Insp. Ferjen Torred (Torred), the Chief of Investigation Division of the Las Piñas Police, testified that he
and PO2 Teoson Rosarito (PO2 Rosarito) immediately responded to PO2 Gregorio’s urgent call. Suspecting
that accused Enojas, the taxi driver who fled, was involved in the attempted robbery, they searched the
abandoned taxi and found a mobile phone that Enojas apparently left behind. P/Ins. Torred instructed PO3
Joel Cambi (PO3 Cambi) to monitor its incoming messages.3 cral lawlib rary

The police later ascertained that the suspect whom PO2 Pangilinan had killed was someone named Reynaldo
Mendoza who was armed with a .38 caliber revolver. The police found spent 9 mm and M-16 rifle shells at
the crime scene. Follow-up operations at nearby provinces resulted in finding the dead body of one of the
suspects, Alex Angeles, at the Metro South Medical Center along Molino, Bacoor, Cavite.4 cra llawlib ra ry

PO3 Cambi and PO2 Rosarito testified that they monitored the messages in accused Enojas’ mobile phone
and, posing as Enojas, communicated with the other accused. The police then conducted an entrapment
operation that resulted in the arrest of accused Santos and Jalandoni. Subsequently, the police were also
able to capture accused Enojas and Gomez. The prosecution presented the transcripts of the mobile phone
text messages between Enojas and some of his co-accused.5 cral lawlib rary

The victim’s father, Ricardo Pangilinan, testified that his son was at the time of his death 28 years old,
unmarried, and was receiving police pay of P8,000.00 to P10,000.00 per month. Ricardo spent P99,999 for
burial expense, P16,000.00 for the interment services, and P50,000.00 for purchase of the cemetery lot.6 cral lawlib rary

Manifesting in open court that they did not want to adduce any evidence or testify in the case,7 the accused
opted to instead file a trial memorandum on March 10, 2008 for their defense. They pointed out that they
were entitled to an acquittal since they were all illegally arrested and since the evidence of the text
messages were inadmissible, not having been properly identified.

On June 2, 2008 the RTC rendered judgment,8 finding all the accused guilty of murder qualified by evident
premeditation and use of armed men with the special aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed
firearms. It thus sentenced them to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, without the possibility of parole
and to indemnify the heirs of PO2 Pangilinan with P165,999.00 as actual damages, P50,000.00 as moral
damages, P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, and P2,080,000.00 as compensation for loss of earning
capacity.

Upon review in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. 03377, on June 14, 2012 the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the appeal
and affirmed in toto the conviction of the accused.9 The CA, however, found the absence of evident
premeditation since the prosecution failed to prove that the several accused planned the crime before
committing it. The accused appealed from the CA to this Court.10 crallawlib rary

The defense points out that the prosecution failed to present direct evidence that the accused Enojas,
Gomez, Santos, or Jalandoni took part in shooting PO2 Pangilinan dead.11 This may be true but the
prosecution could prove their liability by circumstantial evidence that meets the evidentiary standard of
proof beyond reasonable doubt. It has been held that circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if:
1) there is more than one circumstance; 2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and
3) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. 12 crallaw lib rary

Here the totality of the circumstantial evidence the prosecution presented sufficiently provides basis for the
conviction of all the accused. Thus:chanRoblesVirt ualawli bra ry

1. PO2 Gregorio positively identified accused Enojas as the driver of the taxicab suspiciously parked in front
of the Aguila Auto Glass shop. The officers were bringing him with them to the police station because of the
questionable documents he showed upon query. Subsequent inspection of the taxicab yielded Enojas’ mobile
phone that contained messages which led to the entrapment and capture of the other accused who were
also taxicab drivers.

2. Enojas fled during the commotion rather than remain in the cab to go to the police station where he was
about to be taken for questioning, tending to show that he had something to hide. He certainly did not go to
the police afterwards to clear up the matter and claim his taxi.

3. PO2 Gregorio positively identified accused Gomez as one of the men he saw running away from the scene
of the shooting.

4. The text messages identified “Kua Justin” as one of those who engaged PO2 Pangilinan in the shootout;
the messages also referred to “Kua Justin” as the one who was hit in such shootout and later died in a
hospital in Bacoor, Cavite. These messages linked the other accused.

5. During the follow-up operations, the police investigators succeeded in entrapping accused Santos,
Jalandoni, Enojas, and Gomez, who were all named in the text messages.

6. The text messages sent to the phone recovered from the taxi driven by Enojas clearly made references to
the 7-11 shootout and to the wounding of “Kua Justin,” one of the gunmen, and his subsequent death.

7. The context of the messages showed that the accused were members of an organized group of taxicab
drivers engaged in illegal activities.

8. Upon the arrest of the accused, they were found in possession of mobile phones with call numbers that
corresponded to the senders of the messages received on the mobile phone that accused Enojas left in his
taxicab.13

The Court must, however, disagree with the CA’s ruling that the aggravating circumstances of a) aid of
armed men and b) use of unlicensed firearms qualified the killing of PO2 Pangilinan to murder. In “aid of
armed men,” the men act as accomplices only. They must not be acting in the commission of the crime
under the same purpose as the principal accused, otherwise they are to be regarded as co-principals or co-
conspirators. The use of unlicensed firearm, on the other hand, is a special aggravating circumstance that is
not among the circumstances mentioned in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code as qualifying a homicide to
murder.14 Consequently, the accused in this case may be held liable only for homicide, aggravated by the
use of unlicensed firearms, a circumstance alleged in the information.

As to the admissibility of the text messages, the RTC admitted them in conformity with the Court’s earlier
Resolution applying the Rules on Electronic Evidence to criminal actions.15 Text messages are to be proved
by the testimony of a person who was a party to the same or has personal knowledge of them.16Here, PO3
Cambi, posing as the accused Enojas, exchanged text messages with the other accused in order to identify
and entrap them. As the recipient of those messages sent from and to the mobile phone in his possession,
PO3 Cambi had personal knowledge of such messages and was competent to testify on them.

The accused lament that they were arrested without a valid warrant of arrest. But, assuming that this was
so, it cannot be a ground for acquitting them of the crime charged but for rejecting any evidence that may
have been taken from them after an unauthorized search as an incident of an unlawful arrest, a point that is
not in issue here. At any rate, a crime had been committed—the killing of PO2 Pangilinan—and the
investigating police officers had personal knowledge of facts indicating that the persons they were to arrest
had committed it.17 The text messages to and from the mobile phone left at the scene by accused Enojas
provided strong leads on the participation and identities of the accused. Indeed, the police caught them in
an entrapment using this knowledge.

The award of damages by the courts below has to be modified to conform to current jurisprudence.18 cral lawlib rary

WHEREFORE, the Court MODIFIES the Court of Appeals Decision of June 14, 2012 in CA-G.R. CR-HC
03377. The Court instead FINDS accused-appellants Noel Enojas y Hingpit, Arnold Gomez y Fabregas,
Fernando Santos y Delantar, and Roger Jalandoni y Ari GUILTY of the lesser crime of HOMICIDE with the
special aggravating circumstance of use of unlicensed firearms. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law,
the Court SENTENCES each of them to 12 years of prision mayor, as minimum, to 20 years of reclusion
temporal, as maximum. The Court also MODIFIES the award of exemplary damages by increasing it to
P30,000.00, with an additional P50,000.00 for civil indemnity.

SO ORDERED.

Velasco, Jr., (Chairperson), Peralta, Mendoza, and Leonen, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 182835 April 20, 2010

RUSTAN ANG y PASCUA, Petitioner,


vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and IRISH SAGUD, Respondents.

DECISION

ABAD, J.:

This case concerns a claim of commission of the crime of violence against women when a former
boyfriend sent to the girl the picture of a naked woman, not her, but with her face on it.

The Indictment

The public prosecutor charged petitioner-accused Rustan Ang (Rustan) before the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Baler, Aurora, of violation of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children
Act or Republic Act (R.A.) 9262 in an information that reads:

That on or about June 5, 2005, in the Municipality of Maria Aurora, Province of Aurora, Philippines
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, in a purposeful and reckless conduct, sent through the Short Messaging Service (SMS)
using his mobile phone, a pornographic picture to one Irish Sagud, who was his former girlfriend,
whereby the face of the latter was attached to a completely naked body of another woman making it
to appear that it was said Irish Sagud who is depicted in the said obscene and pornographic picture
thereby causing substantial emotional anguish, psychological distress and humiliation to the said
Irish Sagud.1

The Facts and the Case

The evidence for the prosecution shows that complainant Irish Sagud (Irish) and accused Rustan
were classmates at Wesleyan University in Aurora Province. Rustan courted Irish and they became
"on-and-off" sweethearts towards the end of 2004. When Irish learned afterwards that Rustan had
taken a live-in partner (now his wife), whom he had gotten pregnant, Irish broke up with him.

Before Rustan got married, however, he got in touch with Irish and tried to convince her to elope with
him, saying that he did not love the woman he was about to marry. Irish rejected the proposal and
told Rustan to take on his responsibility to the other woman and their child. Irish changed her
cellphone number but Rustan somehow managed to get hold of it and sent her text messages.
Rustan used two cellphone numbers for sending his messages, namely, 0920-4769301 and 0921-
8084768. Irish replied to his text messages but it was to ask him to leave her alone.

In the early morning of June 5, 2005, Irish received through multimedia message service (MMS) a
picture of a naked woman with spread legs and with Irish’s face superimposed on the figure (Exhibit
A).2 The sender’s cellphone number, stated in the message, was 0921-8084768, one of the numbers
that Rustan used. Irish surmised that he copied the picture of her face from a shot he took when they
were in Baguio in 2003 (Exhibit B).3

After she got the obscene picture, Irish got other text messages from Rustan. He boasted that it
would be easy for him to create similarly scandalous pictures of her. And he threatened to spread
the picture he sent through the internet. One of the messages he sent to Irish, written in text
messaging shorthand, read: "Madali lang ikalat yun, my chatrum ang tarlac rayt pwede ring send sa
lahat ng chatter."4

Irish sought the help of the vice mayor of Maria Aurora who referred her to the police. Under police
supervision, Irish contacted Rustan through the cellphone numbers he used in sending the picture
and his text messages. Irish asked Rustan to meet her at the Lorentess Resort in Brgy. Ramada,
Maria Aurora, and he did. He came in a motorcycle. After parking it, he walked towards Irish but the
waiting police officers intercepted and arrested him. They searched him and seized his Sony
Ericsson P900 cellphone and several SIM cards. While Rustan was being questioned at the police
station, he shouted at Irish: "Malandi ka kasi!"

Joseph Gonzales, an instructor at the Aurora State College of Technology, testified as an expert in
information technology and computer graphics. He said that it was very much possible for one to lift
the face of a woman from a picture and superimpose it on the body of another woman in another
picture. Pictures can be manipulated and enhanced by computer to make it appear that the face and
the body belonged to just one person.

Gonzales testified that the picture in question (Exhibit A) had two distinct irregularities: the face was
not proportionate to the body and the face had a lighter color. In his opinion, the picture was fake
and the face on it had been copied from the picture of Irish in Exhibit B. Finally, Gonzales explained
how this could be done, transferring a picture from a computer to a cellphone like the Sony Ericsson
P900 seized from Rustan.

For his part, Rustan admitted having courted Irish. He began visiting her in Tarlac in October 2003
and their relation lasted until December of that year. He claimed that after their relation ended, Irish
wanted reconciliation. They met in December 2004 but, after he told her that his girlfriend at that
time (later his wife) was already pregnant, Irish walked out on him.

Sometime later, Rustan got a text message from Irish, asking him to meet her at Lorentess Resort
as she needed his help in selling her cellphone. When he arrived at the place, two police officers
approached him, seized his cellphone and the contents of his pockets, and brought him to the police
station.

Rustan further claims that he also went to Lorentess because Irish asked him to help her identify a
prankster who was sending her malicious text messages. Rustan got the sender’s number and,
pretending to be Irish, contacted the person. Rustan claims that he got back obscene messages
from the prankster, which he forwarded to Irish from his cellphone. This explained, he said, why the
obscene messages appeared to have originated from his cellphone number. Rustan claims that it
was Irish herself who sent the obscene picture (Exhibit A) to him. He presented six pictures of a
woman whom he identified as Irish (Exhibits 2 to 7).5

Michelle Ang (Michelle), Rustan’s wife, testified that she was sure Irish sent the six pictures. Michelle
claims that she received the pictures and hid the memory card (Exhibit 8) that contained them
because she was jealous and angry. She did not want to see anything of Irish. But, while the woman
in the pictures posed in sexy clothing, in none did she appear naked as in Exhibit A. Further, the
face of the woman in Exhibits 2, 4, 5 and 6 could not be seen. Irish denied that she was the woman
in those four pictures. As for Exhibits 3 and 7, the woman in the picture was fully dressed.

After trial, the RTC found Irish’s testimony completely credible, given in an honest and spontaneous
manner. The RTC observed that she wept while recounting her experience, prompting the court to
comment: "Her tears were tangible expression of pain and anguish for the acts of violence she
suffered in the hands of her former sweetheart. The crying of the victim during her testimony is
evidence of the credibility of her charges with the verity borne out of human nature and
experience."6 Thus, in its Decision dated August 1, 2001, the RTC found Rustan guilty of the
violation of Section 5(h) of R.A. 9262.

On Rustan’s appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA),7 the latter rendered a decision dated January 31,
2008,8 affirming the RTC decision. The CA denied Rustan’s motion for reconsideration in a
resolution dated April 25, 2008. Thus, Rustan filed the present for review on certiorari.

The Issues Presented

The principal issue in this case is whether or not accused Rustan sent Irish by cellphone message
the picture with her face pasted on the body of a nude woman, inflicting anguish, psychological
distress, and humiliation on her in violation of Section 5(h) of R.A. 9262.

The subordinate issues are:

1. Whether or not a "dating relationship" existed between Rustan and Irish as this term is
defined in R.A. 9262;

2. Whether or not a single act of harassment, like the sending of the nude picture in this
case, already constitutes a violation of Section 5(h) of R.A. 9262;

3. Whether or not the evidence used to convict Rustan was obtained from him in violation of
his constitutional rights; and

4. Whether or not the RTC properly admitted in evidence the obscene picture presented in
the case.

The Court’s Rulings

Section 3(a) of R.A. 9262 provides that violence against women includes an act or acts of a person
against a woman with whom he has or had a sexual or dating relationship. Thus:

SEC. 3. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act,

(a) "Violence against women and their children" refers to any act or a series of acts
committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman
with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a
common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the
family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or
suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion,
harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

xxxx
Section 5 identifies the act or acts that constitute violence against women and these include
any form of harassment that causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to a
woman. Thus:

SEC. 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and Their Children. – The crime of violence against
women and their children is committed through any of the following acts:

xxxx

h. Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another, that


alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child.
This shall include, but not be limited to, the following acts:

xxxx

5. Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;

The above provisions, taken together, indicate that the elements of the crime of violence against
women through harassment are:

1. The offender has or had a sexual or dating relationship with the offended woman;

2. The offender, by himself or through another, commits an act or series of acts of


harassment against the woman; and

3. The harassment alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to her.

One. The parties to this case agree that the prosecution needed to prove that accused Rustan had a
"dating relationship" with Irish. Section 3(e) provides that a "dating relationship" includes a situation
where the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of
the relationship. Thus:

(e) "Dating relationship" refers to a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the
benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the
course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in
a business or social context is not a dating relationship. (Underscoring supplied.)

Here, Rustan claims that, being "romantically involved," implies that the offender and the offended
woman have or had sexual relations. According to him, "romance" implies a sexual act. He cites
Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary Encyclopedia Edition which provides a colloquial or informal
meaning to the word "romance" used as a verb, i.e., "to make love; to make love to" as in "He
romanced her."

But it seems clear that the law did not use in its provisions the colloquial verb "romance" that implies
a sexual act. It did not say that the offender must have "romanced" the offended woman. Rather, it
used the noun "romance" to describe a couple’s relationship, i.e., "a love affair."9

R.A. 9262 provides in Section 3 that "violence against women x x x refers to any act or a series of
acts committed by any person against a woman x x x with whom the person has or had a
sexual or dating relationship." Clearly, the law itself distinguishes a sexual relationship from a dating
relationship. Indeed, Section 3(e) above defines "dating relationship" while Section 3(f) defines
"sexual relations." The latter "refers to a single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing
of a common child." The dating relationship that the law contemplates can, therefore, exist even
without a sexual intercourse taking place between those involved.

Rustan also claims that since the relationship between Irish and him was of the "on-and-off" variety
(away-bati), their romance cannot be regarded as having developed "over time and on a continuing
basis." But the two of them were romantically involved, as Rustan himself admits, from October to
December of 2003. That would be time enough for nurturing a relationship of mutual trust and love.

An "away-bati" or a fight-and-kiss thing between two lovers is a common occurrence. Their taking
place does not mean that the romantic relation between the two should be deemed broken up during
periods of misunderstanding. Explaining what "away-bati" meant, Irish explained that at times, when
she could not reply to Rustan’s messages, he would get angry at her. That was all. Indeed, she
characterized their three-month romantic relation as continuous.10

Two. Rustan argues that the one act of sending an offensive picture should not be considered a form
of harassment. He claims that such would unduly ruin him personally and set a very dangerous
precedent. But Section 3(a) of R.A. 9262 punishes "any act or series of acts" that constitutes
violence against women. This means that a single act of harassment, which translates into violence,
would be enough. The object of the law is to protect women and children. Punishing only violence
that is repeatedly committed would license isolated ones.

Rustan alleges that today’s women, like Irish, are so used to obscene communications that her
getting one could not possibly have produced alarm in her or caused her substantial emotional or
psychological distress. He claims having previously exchanged obscene pictures with Irish such that
she was already desensitized by them.

But, firstly, the RTC which saw and heard Rustan and his wife give their testimonies was not
impressed with their claim that it was Irish who sent the obscene pictures of herself (Exhibits 2-7). It
is doubtful if the woman in the picture was Irish since her face did not clearly show on them.

Michelle, Rustan’s wife, claimed that she deleted several other pictures that Irish sent, except
Exhibits 2 to 7. But her testimony did not make sense. She said that she did not know that Exhibits 2
to 7 had remained saved after she deleted the pictures. Later, however, she said that she did not
have time to delete them.11 And, if she thought that she had deleted all the pictures from the memory
card, then she had no reason at all to keep and hide such memory card. There would have been
nothing to hide. Finally, if she knew that some pictures remained in the card, there was no reason for
her to keep it for several years, given that as she said she was too jealous to want to see anything
connected to Irish. Thus, the RTC was correct in not giving credence to her testimony. 1avv phi1

Secondly, the Court cannot measure the trauma that Irish experienced based on Rustan’s low
regard for the alleged moral sensibilities of today’s youth. What is obscene and injurious to an
offended woman can of course only be determined based on the circumstances of each case. Here,
the naked woman on the picture, her legs spread open and bearing Irish’s head and face, was
clearly an obscene picture and, to Irish a revolting and offensive one. Surely, any woman like Irish,
who is not in the pornography trade, would be scandalized and pained if she sees herself in such a
picture. What makes it further terrifying is that, as Irish testified, Rustan sent the picture with a threat
to post it in the internet for all to see. That must have given her a nightmare.

Three. Rustan argues that, since he was arrested and certain items were seized from him without
any warrant, the evidence presented against him should be deemed inadmissible. But the fact is that
the prosecution did not present in evidence either the cellphone or the SIM cards that the police
officers seized from him at the time of his arrest. The prosecution did not need such items to prove
its case. Exhibit C for the prosecution was but a photograph depicting the Sony Ericsson P900
cellphone that was used, which cellphone Rustan admitted owning during the pre-trial conference.

Actually, though, the bulk of the evidence against him consisted in Irish’s testimony that she received
the obscene picture and malicious text messages that the sender’s cellphone numbers belonged to
Rustan with whom she had been previously in communication. Indeed, to prove that the cellphone
numbers belonged to Rustan, Irish and the police used such numbers to summon him to come to
Lorentess Resort and he did.12 Consequently, the prosecution did not have to present the
confiscated cellphone and SIM cards to prove that Rustan sent those messages.

Moreover, Rustan admitted having sent the malicious text messages to Irish.13 His defense was that
he himself received those messages from an unidentified person who was harassing Irish and he
merely forwarded the same to her, using his cellphone. But Rustan never presented the cellphone
number of the unidentified person who sent the messages to him to authenticate the same. The RTC
did not give credence to such version and neither will this Court. Besides, it was most unlikely for
Irish to pin the things on Rustan if he had merely tried to help her identify the sender.

Four. Rustan claims that the obscene picture sent to Irish through a text message constitutes an
electronic document. Thus, it should be authenticated by means of an electronic signature, as
provided under Section 1, Rule 5 of the Rules on Electronic Evidence (A.M. 01-7-01-SC).

But, firstly, Rustan is raising this objection to the admissibility of the obscene picture, Exhibit A, for
the first time before this Court. The objection is too late since he should have objected to the
admission of the picture on such ground at the time it was offered in evidence. He should be
deemed to have already waived such ground for objection.14

Besides, the rules he cites do not apply to the present criminal action. The Rules on Electronic
Evidence applies only to civil actions, quasi-judicial proceedings, and administrative proceedings.15

In conclusion, this Court finds that the prosecution has proved each and every element of the crime
charged beyond reasonable doubt.

WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petition and AFFIRMS the decision of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CR 30567 dated January 31, 2008 and its resolution dated April 25, 2008.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 200148 June 4, 2014

RAMON A. SYHUNLIONG, Petitioner,


vs.
TERESITA D. RIVERA, Respondent.
RESOLUTION

REYES, J.:

For review is the instant Petition1 filed by Ramon A. Syhunliong (Syhunliong) seeking the reversal of
the Decision2rendered on July 11, 2011 and Resolution3 issued on January 6, 2012 by the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 110335. The CA set aside the Orders dated December 4,
20084 and June 18, 20095 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 84, which
denied the Motion to Dismiss/Quash on Jurisdictional Challenge6 (Motion to Quash) filed by the
herein respondent, Teresita D. Rivera (Rivera), in Criminal Case No. Q-07-147802, an action for
libel.

Antecedents

Syhunliong and Rivera are respectively the private complainant and defendant in Criminal Case No.
Q-07-147802. Syhunliong is the President of BANFF Realty and Development Corporation (BANFF)
and likewise owns interests in construction, restaurant and hospital businesses. On the other hand,
Rivera used to be the Accounting Manager of BANFF. She was hired in September of 2002 with a
monthly salary of Php 30,000.00.

About three years after, Rivera, citing personal and family matters, tendered her resignation to be
effective on February 3, 2006. However, Rivera actually continued working for BANFF until March of
the same year to complete the turn over of papers under her custody to Jennifer Lumapas
(Lumapas), who succeeded her.

Sometime in April of 2006, Rivera called Lumapas to request for the payment of her remaining
salaries, benefits and incentives. Lumapas informed Rivera that her benefits would be paid, but the
check representing her salaries was still unsigned, and her incentives were put on hold by
Syhunliong.7

On April 6, 2006, at around 11:55 a.m., Rivera sent the following text message to one of BANFF’s
official cellular phones held by Lumapas:

I am expecting that[.] [G]rabe talagasufferings ko dyan hanggang pagkuha nglast pay ko. I don’t
deserve this [because] I did my job when I [was] still there. God bless ras[.]8 [S]ana yung pagsimba
niya, alam niya real meaning.9 (Italics ours)

Minutes later, Rivera once again texted another message, which reads:

Kailangan release niya lahat [nang] makukuha ko diyanincluding incentive up to the last datena
nandyan ako para di na kami abot sa labor.10 (Italics ours)

Subsequently, on December of 2006, Rivera filed before the National Labor Relations Commission a
complaint against Syhunliong for underpaid salaries, 13th to 16th month and incentive pay, gratuities
and tax refund in the total sum of Php 698,150.48.11

On April 16, 2007,12 pending the resolution of the aforecited labor case, Syhunliong instituted against
Rivera a complaint for libel, the origin of the instant petition. The information, dated June 21, 2007,
charged Rivera with the following:
That on or about the 6th day of April, 2006, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said accused, with
malicious intent of impeaching the honor, virtue, character and reputation of one RAMON A.
SYHUNGLIONG [sic] and with evident intent of exposing the complainant to public dishonor,
discredit, contempt and ridicule, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and maliciously
publish in the form of text messages and/or caused to be publish[ed] the following defamatory
statements through the company’s cellular phone, to wit:

xxxx

that with the said text message, the said accused meant and intended to convey as in fact she did
mean and convey, malicious and offensive insinuations and imputations that tends [sic] to destroy
the good name and reputation of Ramon Syhunliong, with no good or justifiable motive but solely for
the purpose of maligning and besmirching the good name, honor, character and reputation of the
said complainant and to expose it, as in fact [he] was exposed to public hatred, contempt and
ridicule, to the damage and prejudice of said offended party.

CONTRARY TO LAW.13

Rivera filed a Motion to Quash14 the aforequoted information. She argued that the text message,
which was the subject of the libel complaint, merely reflected the undue stress she had suffered due
to the delay in the release of her unpaid salaries, benefits and incentives. Further, the facts charged
in the information did not constitute the crime of libel as the elements of malice and the making of
defamatory imputation for public consumption were wanting. Her text message was not prompted by
ill will or spite, but was merely sent as part of her duty to defend her own interests.

During the arraignment on October 11, 2007, Rivera entered a plea of not guilty.15

The Orders of the RTC

On December 4, 2008, the RTC issued an Order16 denying Rivera’s Motion to Quash on these
grounds:

[T]he grounds raised by [Rivera] in the motion to quash [are] evidentiary in nature[,] which can only
be threshed out in a full blown hearing to determine if said [t]ext message falls squarely within the
parameters of "Privileged Communication" or the elements of Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code
[are] not fully established by the Prosecution’s evidence.

The Rule on Criminal Procedure in the prosecution of any felony or offense requires only the
existence of probable cause in order to indict an accused of the crime charged. x x x [P]robable
cause was established seasonably during the preliminary investigation. [Rivera] should have
participated during the preliminary investigation or filed a Motion for re-investigation [if] she was not
accorded such right and raised these grounds, before she enter[ed] her plea during arraignment.

The Supreme Court ruled that "[i]t should be noted that the libelous material [or text] must be viewed
as a whole. In order to ascertain the meaning of [the] published article [or text message], the whole
of the article must be considered, each phrase must be construed in the light of the entire
publication."

The Supreme Court held that "writing [or texting] to a person other than the person defamed is
sufficient to constitute publication, for the person to whom the letter [text message] is addressed is a
third person in relation to its writer and the person defamed therein. In this case, the wife of the
complainant[,] who received the unsealed letter[,] is held a third person to whom the publication is
made.[ ]17 (Citations omitted)

The RTC thereafter issued an Order18 on June 18, 2009 denying Rivera’s motion for reconsideration
to the foregoing. Citing Lu Chu Sing and Lu Tian Chiong v. Lu Tiong Gui,19 the RTC explained that
the privileged character of a communication merely does away with the presumption of malice.
However, the plaintiff is not precluded from proving the existence of such malice. The RTC once
again concurred with the Public Prosecutor’s finding that there was probable cause to indict Rivera
for having ascribed to Syhunliong the possession of a vice or defect, or for having committed an act,
tending to cause dishonor or discredit to the latter’s name.

Rivera challenged the orders issued by the RTC through a Petition for Certiorari20 filed before the CA.
Quoting Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), she emphasized that "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 "a private communication made by any person to another in the
performance of any legal, moral or social duty."21 Citing Brillante v. Court of Appeals,22 Rivera
enumerated the requisites, compliance with which would make a statement fall within the purview of
a qualified privileged communication, viz: (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 [for] 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.23 Rivera likewise stressed that under Sections 3(a)24 and
9,25 Rule 11726 of the Rules of Court, an accused may move to quash the information even after
arraignment if the facts charged therein do not constitute an offense. She thus concluded that the
text message she sent to Lumapas was in the nature of a qualified privileged communication, it
being merely an expression of her legitimate grievances over the delay in the release of her unpaid
salaries and other entitlements. Rivera texted Lumapas because the latter was in the best position to
help expedite the release of the checks. Rivera had no intent to injure anyone’s reputation. Lastly,
Rivera labeled as erroneous the RTC’s declaration regarding the necessity of a full blown trial since
facts sufficient for the resolution of the case were allegedly already extant in the records. The CA
Ruling

On July 11, 2011, the CA rendered the herein assailed Decision27 directing the dismissal of the
information for libel filed against Rivera. The CA favorably considered her argument that when the
facts in an information fail to charge an offense, the said ground can be invoked by the accused in a
motion to quash filed even after arraignment. The CA likewise explained that:

The focal issue to the parties in the present case is whether the facts charged in the information[,]as
well as the undeniable facts appearing on the record[,] show that an offense of libel has been
committed. Our criminal law convincingly provide us with a definition of libel – It is a public and
malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect ... or any act, omission, condition, status or
circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit or contempt of ... a person. x x x.

The first procedural requisite in the determination of the existence of libel is whether there is a
defamatory imputation. The history of the law on libel abounds in examples of utterances or
statements that are not necessarily considered libelous because they are a [sic] mere expression[s]
of an [sic] opinion[s] of a [sic] person[s] in connection with a [sic] plea[s] or grievance[s]. Libel is
inherently a limitation on the liberty of speech and press freedom, and must be construed in a
manner that does not trench upon constitutionally protected freedoms.
x x x There can be libel only if the words used are calculated to induce the hearer or reader to
suppose and understand them as impeaching the honesty, virtue or reputation of another. The
question is not what the writer or speaker meant by his words but what they convey to those who
heard or read them.

xxxx

We can break up the text message of [Rivera] to [Lumapas] into three parts. The utterance is
mercifully short so that it could not be difficult to infer the whole sense and understanding of the
message from the standpoint of Lumapas to whom the message was conveyed. In context, [Rivera]
was seeking payment of her wage claims consequent to her resignation and receiving [BANFF’s]
response through Lumapas. [Rivera] retorted with three things in her message to Lumapas – (1) that
she suffered a lot in collecting her last pay from [BANFF] Grabe talaga sufferings ko dyan hanggang
pagkuha ng lastpay ko.[;] (2) that she does not deserve to suffer this way [because she] did [her] job
when [she was] still there[;] and (3) turning to [Syhunliong] himself [she] said – God bless ras[.]
[S]ana yung pagsimba niya, alam niya real meaning.

If libel is to be understood as an imputation of a crime, vice or defect to another, there can be no libel
in the first two of the three statements which announced only the sufferings, albeit undeserved[,] of
[Rivera]. The proposition gets to be dicey in the third statement because now she makes a distinct
reference to [Syhunliong][,] [b]ut is the imputation defamatory? We hesitate to reach this conclusion,
and all doubts in criminal law, we are basically taught, must be resolved in favor of the accused. To
articulate the legal wisdom, [Rivera] has the right to express an opinion in a matter in which she has
an undeniable interest.

[Rivera said] in the last part of the text that [Syhunliong] should understand the real meaning of the
masswhen he goes to attend it. It is in this tail end of the message that [Syhunliong] is mentioned.
But what is conveyed by the words ["]sana alam niya real meaning?[ ] Does it impute a crime, vice or
defect in [Syhunliong], either directly or by way of innuendo? But the innuendo can only be
explanatory of a libelous imputation and cannot alter the sense of the words claimed to be libelous. If
the publication is not actionable per se, an innuendo cannot make it so, and if the publication is
actionable per se, the innuendo would not even be necessary.

We hold that the text message is not actionable libel. It does not serve to cast a shadow on
[Syhunliong’s]character and integrity[,] there being no direct and personal imputation of a venality to
him. At best, the statement that [Syhunliong] should understand the meaning of the mass suggests
that [Syhunliong] should be more compassionate and caring to the employee. But is being the
converse of compassionate and caring suggestive of a vice or defect in the person alluded to? We
do not think so. Otherwise, even courts should be exposed to contempt and ridicule for reaching at
times decisions in favor of capital and against labor. x x x To follow the intent of the message as
ordinarily conveyed by the words and the context in which they are said, it can only suggest the
intention of [Rivera] to describe [Syhunliong] as strict and selfish. But[,] there are legitimate reasons
why a person who acts in the interest of the employer may appear strict and selfish to the other side.
One may have to be so to protect the interest of his company and, indeed, the outcome of the labor
case vindicates the stand of [Syhunliong] against giving [Rivera] the claims she sought after.

A responsible officer whose decisions may affect the fortunes of others and who is faced with
criticism such as in this case should not be so onion-skinned as to react through the criminal law.
Instead, he should use methods of discussion and persuasion to dispel the misgivings over his
decisions. He should, in particular, explain through the same source that told him of the comment
why [BANFF]cannot satisfy all [of Rivera’s] claims.
x x x The matter contained in the text message is privileged communication under Article 354 of the
Revised Penal Code which [negates] the existence of malice in – a private communication made by
any person to another in the performance of any legal, [moral] or social duty. x x x It was Lumapas
who told her of the stand of [Syhunliong] on the matter of her wage claims, and her reaction through
the text message may be deemed a part of her duty to seek redress of her grievances through the
same source. She was speaking in response to duty and not out of an intent to injure the reputation
of the person who claims to be defamed. There was no unnecessary publicity of the message
beyond the necessity of conveying it to the party concerned.28 (Citations omitted and italics supplied)

The CA denied Syhunliong’s motion for reconsideration to the above through the herein assailed
Resolution29 dated January 6, 2012.

Issues and Arguments of the Parties

Undaunted, Syhunliong now presents to this Court the issues of whether or not: (a) the trial court’s
denial of a motion to quash information may be validly assailed through a special civil action for
certiorari; (b) Rivera may validly question the denial of her motion to quash before the CA after
voluntarily allowing herself to be arraigned even during the pendency of such motion to quash; (c)
the CA may validly review on certiorari what was, at best, an error of judgment made by the RTC; (d)
the CA correctly ruled that the facts charged in the information do not constitute the offense of libel;
and (e) the CA committed reversible error in ordering the outright dismissal of Criminal Case No. Q-
07-147802 on the putative ground that the allegedly libelous text messages were privileged
communication.30

In support of the petition, Syhunliong cites Soriano, et al. v. People, et al.31 where the Court declared
that in assailing the denial of a motion to quash an information, the accused should not file a special
civil action for certiorari. Instead, the accused should enter a plea, go to trial sans prejudice to
present the special defenses he or she had invoked in the motion to quash, and if an adverse
decision is rendered, file an appeal therefrom.

Syhunliong further avers that Rivera was arraigned on October 11, 2007. Section 1, Rule 117 of the
Rules of Court clearly provides that the accused may only be allowed to file a motion to quash at any
time before entering a plea. In Rivera’s case, she had already voluntarily entered a plea;

hence, it was tantamount to an effective abandonment of her motion to quash.

It is also Syhunliong’s argument that the CA improperly arrogated unto itself the power to review the
Public Prosecutor and RTC’s uniform finding of the existence of probable cause. Even if it were to be
assumed that the RTC erred in its disposition, it was a mistake of judgment and not of jurisdiction.

Syhunliong also refutes the CA’s finding that the facts charged in the information did not constitute
the crime of libel. The text message was apparently an indictment of his personality and character
since it portrayed him as a hypocrite.

Lastly, Syhunliong invokes People v. Judge Gomez32 which enunciated the doctrine that in a libel
case, the privileged nature of a communication is not a ground for a motion to quash, but is merely a
matter of defense to be proven during the trial.

In Rivera’s Comment,33 she reiterates the arguments in the Motion to Quash filed with the RTC.
Additionally, she contends that the RTC no longer had jurisdiction to take cognizance of
Syhunliong’s complaint. The text message was sent on April 6, 2006.Per Syhunliong’s narration in
the instant petition, his complaint was filed on August 18, 2007,34 beyond the one year prescriptive
period for instituting actions for libel provided for in Articles 9035 and 9136 of the RPC.

Further, the ground that the facts charged in the information did not constitute an offense can be
raised even after arraignment and is broad enough to cover within its ambit lack of probable cause.
This, the court can re-assess in the exercise of its inherent power of judicial review.

Rivera also laments that she was deprived of due process and of the opportunity to submit
countervailing evidence during preliminary investigation.

Our Ruling

There is no merit in the instant petition.

Prescription had set in.

Syhunliong raised five issues before this Court, but the Court’s resolution of the same would be a
superfluity in the light of Rivera’s unrefuted averment that prescription had set in before the
complaint for libel was instituted.

In Romualdez v. Hon. Marcelo,37 the Court, partially quoting People v. Moran,38 stressed the reason
behind and the character of prescription of penal offenses, to wit:

"Here the State is the grantor, surrendering by act of grace its rights to prosecute, and declaring the
offense to be no longer the subject of prosecution. The statute is not a statute of process, to be
scantily and grudgingly applied, but an amnesty, declaring that after a certain time oblivion shall be
cast over the offence; x x x that from henceforth[,] he may cease to preserve the proofs of his
innocence, for the proofs of his guilt are blotted out. Hence[,] it is that statutes of limitation are to be
liberally construed in favor of the defendant, not only because such liberality of construction belongs
to all acts of amnesty and grace, but because the very existence of the statute, is a recognition and
notification by the legislature of the fact that time, while it gradually wears out proofs of innocence,
has assigned to it fixed and positive periods in which it destroys proofs of guilt. Independently of
these views, it must be remembered that delay in instituting prosecutions is not only productive of
expense to the State, but of peril to public justice in the attenuation and distortion, even by mere
natural lapse of memory, of testimony. It is the policy of the law that prosecutions should be prompt,
and that statutes, enforcing such promptitude should be vigorously maintained. They are not merely
acts of grace, but checks imposed by the State upon itself, to exact vigilant activity from its
subalterns, and to secure for criminal trials the best evidence that can be obtained."

Indeed, there is no reason why we should deny petitioner the benefits accruing from the liberal
construction of prescriptive laws on criminal statutes. Prescription emanates from the liberality of the
State. x x x Any doubt on this matter must be resolved in favor of the grantee thereof, the
accused.39 (Italics supplied)

In the case at bar, it is extant in the records that Syhunliong filed his complaint against Rivera more
than one year after the allegedly libelous message was sent to Lumapas. Whether the date of the
filing of the complaint is April 16, 2007 or August 18, 2007,40 it would not alter the fact that its
institution was made beyond the prescriptive period provided for in Article 90 of the RPC. The Court
finds no persuasive reason why Rivera should be deprived of the benefits accruing from the
prescription of the crime ascribed to her.
People v. Castro,41 on the other hand, is instructive anent the effect in criminal proceedings of the
failure of an accused to raise prescription as a ground in a motion to quash an information, viz:

Does the failure of the accused to move to quash before pleading constitute a waiver to raise the
question of prescription at a later stage of the case?

A case in point is People vs. Moran, 44 Phil., 387. x x x [T]he court ruled that the crime had already
prescribed holding that this defense can not [b]e deemed waived even if the case had been decided
by the lower court and was pending appeal in the Supreme Court. The philosophy behind this ruling
was aptly stated as follows: "Although the general rule is that the defense of prescription is not
available unless expressly set up in the lower court, as in that case it is presumed to have been
waived and cannot be taken advantage of thereafter, yet this rule is not always of absolute
application in criminal cases, such as that in which prescription of the crime is expressly provided by
law, for the State not having then the right to prosecute, or continue prosecuting, nor to punish, or
continue punishing, the offense, or to continue holding the defendant subject to its action through the
imposition of the penalty, the court must so declare."

And elaborating on this proposition, the Court went on to state as follows:

"As prescription of the crime is the loss by the State of the right to prosecute and punish the same, it
is absolutely indisputable that from the moment the State has lost or waived such right, the
defendant may, at any stage of the proceeding, demand and ask that the same be finally dismissed
and he be acquitted from the complaint, and such petition is proper and effective even if the court
taking cognizance of the case has already rendered judgment and said judgment is merely in
suspense, pending the resolution of a motion for a reconsideration and new trial, and this is the more
so since in such a case there is not yet any final and irrevocable judgment."

The ruling above adverted to squarely applies to the present case. Here, the rule provides that the
plea of prescription should be set up before arraignment, or before the accused pleads to the
charge, as otherwise the defense would be deemed waived; but, as was well said in the Moran case,
this rule is not of absolute application, especially when it conflicts with a substantive provisions of the
law, such as that which refers to prescription of crimes. Since, under the Constitution, the Supreme
Court has only the power to promulgate rules concerning pleadings, practice and procedure, and the
admission to the practice of law, and cannot cover substantive rights (section 13, article VIII, of the
Constitution), the rule we are considering cannot be interpreted or given such scope or extent that
would come into conflict or defeat an express provision of our substantive law. One of such
provisions is article 89of the Revised Penal Code which provides that the prescription of crime has
the effect of totally extinguishing the criminal liability. And so we hold that the ruling laid down in the
Moran case still holds good even if it were laid down before the adoption of the present Rules of
Court.42 (Italics supplied)

While Castro is an old jurisprudence, it still finds application in the case at bench in view of Section
9, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, which in essence partially provides that the defense of extinction
of criminal action or liability, e.g., prescription, is not deemed waived even if the accused had not
raised the same in a motion to quash. In Rivera’s case, the issue of prescription is raised in her
comment to the instant petition before this Court. Syhunliong does not specifically refute Rivera’s
averment, thus, it is deemed admitted.

In sum, even if the Court were to sustain Syhunliong’s stance that Rivera availed of the wrong
remedy when she resorted to filing a petition for certiorari before the CA to assail the RTC orders
denying the motion to quash, the result would only prove circuitous. Even if the trial proceeds and an
adverse decision is rendered against Rivera, she can appeal the same, but the CA and this Court
would still be compelled to order the dismissal of the information on account of prescription of the
crime.1âwphi1

Prescription of the crime is already a compelling reason for this Court to order the dismissal of the
libel information, but the Court still stresses that the text message which Rivera sent to Lumapas
falls within the purview of a qualified privileged communication.

"The rule on privileged communication means that a communication made in good faith on any
subject matter in which the communicator has an interest, or concerning which he has a duty, is
privileged if made to a person having a corresponding duty."43

In order to prove that a statement falls within the purview of a qualified privileged communication
under Article 354, No. 1, the following requisites must concur: (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.44

In the case at bar, it was Lumapas who informed Rivera of either the delay or denial of the latter's
claims for payment of salaries, benefits and incentives by Syhunliong. Rivera expressed through the
subject text message her grievances to Lumapas. At that time, Lumapas was the best person, who
could help expedite the release of Rivera's claims.

Prescinding from the above, the Court thus finds no error in the CA' s declaration that Rivera's text
message falls within the ambit of a qualified privileged communication since she "was speaking in
response to duty [to protect her own interest] and not out of an intent to injure the reputation"45 of
Syhunliong. Besides, "[t]here was no unnecessary publicity of the message beyond [that] of
conveying it to the party concerned."46

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The Decision rendered on July 11, 2011
and Resolution issued on January 6, 2012 by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 110335
ordering the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 84, to dismiss the information for libel filed
by Ramon A. Syhunliong against Teresita D. Rivera are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR: