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EN BANC

[G.R. No. 496. December 31, 1902. ]

THE UNITED STATES, Complainant-Appellant, v. WILLIAM FOWLER ET AL., Defendants-


Appellees.

Assistant Attorney-General Constantino, for Appellant.

William Lane O’Neill, for Appellees.

SYLLABUS

1. CRIMINAL LAW; JURISDICTION; CRIMES ON HIGH SEAS. — Courts of First Instance of the
Philippines have no jurisdiction to take cognizance of crimes committed on the high seas on
board of a transport or other vessel not registered or licensed in the Philippines.

DECISION

TORRES, J. :

The two defendants have been accused of the theft of sixteen bottles of champagne of the value
of $20, on the 12th August, 1901, while on board the transport Lawton, then navigating the high
seas, which said bottles of champagne formed part of the cargo of the said vessel and were the
property of Julian Lindsay, and which were taken lucri causa, and with the intent to appropriate
the same, without violence or intimidation, and without the consent of the owner, against the
statute in the case made and provided.

The accused having been brought before the court, the prosecuting attorney being present on
behalf of the Government, counsel for the defendants presented a demurrer, alleging that the
Court of First Instance was without jurisdiction to try the crime charged, inasmuch as it
appeared from the information that the crime was committed on the high seas, and not in the
city of Manila, or within the territory comprising the Bay of Manila, or upon the seas within the
3-mile limit to which the jurisdiction of the court extends, and asked, upon these grounds, that
the case be dismissed.

This contention was opposed by the prosecuting attorney, who alleged that the court has original
jurisdiction in all criminal cases in which the penalty exceeds six month’s imprisonment, or a fine
of over $100; that, in accordance with the orders of the Military Governor and the Civil
Commission admiralty jurisdiction over all crimes committed on board vessels flying the flag of
the United States has been vested in the Courts of First Instance of the city of Manila. Among
other laws and orders he cited the order of August 14, 1898, and Acts Nos. 76 and 186 of the
United States Civil Commission. He argued that the President of the United States had
unquestionable authority to authorize the commanding general and the Civil Commission to
establish a judicial system with authority to take cognizance of maritime and admiralty causes,
citing a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in support of this doctrine, which was
applicable to this Archipelago, which is now analogous to the status of some of the States of the
Union during the Mexican was and the war of secession.

The judge, however, by an order of the 14th of September, 1901, held that the court was
without jurisdiction to try the accused for the theft alleged to have been committed on the high
seas, sustained the demurrer, and ordered the discharge of the defendants, with the costs to the
Government. Against this order the prosecuting attorney appealed, and the case was brought
before this court.

This case deals with a theft committed on board a transport while navigating the high seas. Act
No. 136 of the organic law, as well as Act No. 186 passed by the Civil Commission, and which
repealed the former law, Act No. 76, do not expressly confer jurisdiction or authority upon this
court to take cognizance of all crimes committed on board vessels on the high seas. While the
provisions of the law are clear and precise with respect to civil admiralty or maritime cases, this
is not true with respect to criminal cases. If any doubt could arise concerning the true meaning
of the law applicable to the case, Act. No. 400 effectively dissipates such doubts.

This law, which is an addition to Act No. 136, by which the courts of justice of the Philippine
Islands were organized, in article 1 adds to article 56, consisting of seven paragraphs, another
paragraph numbered 8, which reads as follows: "Of all crimes and offenses committed on the
high seas or beyond the jurisdiction of any country, or within any of the navigable waters of the
Philippine Archipelago, on bard a ship or water craft of any kind registered or licensed in the
Philippine Islands in accordance with the laws thereof." The purpose of this law was to define the
jurisdiction of the Courts of First Instance in criminal cases for crimes committed on board
vessels registered or licensed in the Philippine Islands. The transport Lawton not being a vessel
of this class, our courts are without jurisdiction to take cognizance of a crime committed on
board the same.

Upon these grounds we consider that the order appealed should be affirmed, with the costs de
oficio. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Cooper, Smith, Willard, Mapa and Ladd, JJ., concur.
 

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-5270 January 15, 1910

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
H. N. BULL, defendant-appellant.

Bruce & Lawrence, for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Harvey, for appellee.

ELLIOTT, J.:

The appellant was convicted in the Court of First Instance of a violation of section 1 of Act No. 55, as amended
by section 1 of Act No. 275, and from the judgment entered thereon appealed to this court, where under proper
assignments of error he contends: (1) that the complaint does not state facts sufficient to confer jurisdiction
upon the court; (2) that under the evidence the trial court was without jurisdiction to hear and determine the
case; (3) that Act No. 55 as amended is in violation of certain provisions of the Constitution of the United
States, and void as applied to the facts of this case; and (4) that the evidence is insufficient to support the
conviction.

The information alleges:

That on and for many months prior to the 2d day of December, 1908, the said H. N. Bull was then and
there master of a steam sailing vessel known as the steamship Standard, which vessel was then and
there engaged in carrying and transporting cattle, carabaos, and other animals from a foreign port and
city of Manila, Philippine Islands; that the said accused H. N. Bull, while master of said vessel, as
aforesaid, on or about the 2d day of December, 1908, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and
wrongly carry, transport, and bring into the port and city of Manila, aboard said vessel, from the port of
Ampieng, Formosa, six hundred and seventy-seven (677) head of cattle and carabaos, without
providing suitable means for securing said animals while in transit, so as to avoid cruelty and
unnecessary suffering to the said animals, in this, to wit, that the said H. N. Bull, master, as aforesaid,
did then and there fail to provide stalls for said animals so in transit and suitable means for trying and
securing said animals in a proper manner, and did then and there cause some of said animals to be
tied by means of rings passed through their noses, and allow and permit others to be transported loose
in the hold and on the deck of said vessel without being tied or secured in stalls, and all without
bedding; that by reason of the aforesaid neglect and failure of the accused to provide suitable means
for securing said animals while so in transit, the noses of some of said animals were cruelly torn, and
many of said animals were tossed about upon the decks and hold of said vessel, and cruelly wounded,
bruised, and killed.

All contrary to the provisions of Acts No. 55 and No. 275 of the Philippine Commission.

Section 1 of Act No. 55, which went into effect January 1, 1901, provides that —

The owners or masters of steam, sailing, or other vessels, carrying or transporting cattle, sheep, swine,
or other animals, from one port in the Philippine Islands to another, or from any foreign port to any port
within the Philippine Islands, shall carry with them, upon the vessels carrying such animals, sufficient
forage and fresh water to provide for the suitable sustenance of such animals during the ordinary period
occupied by the vessel in passage from the port of shipment to the port of debarkation, and shall cause
such animals to be provided with adequate forage and fresh water at least once in every twenty-four
hours from the time that the animals are embarked to the time of their final debarkation.

By Act No. 275, enacted October 23, 1901, Act No. 55 was amended by adding to section 1 thereof the
following:

The owners or masters of steam, sailing, or other vessels, carrying or transporting cattle, sheep, swine,
or other animals from one port in the Philippine Islands to another, or from any foreign port to any port
within the Philippine Islands, shall provide suitable means for securing such animals while in transit so
as to avoid all cruelty and unnecessary suffering to the animals, and suitable and proper facilities for
loading and unloading cattle or other animals upon or from vessels upon which they are transported,
without cruelty or unnecessary suffering. It is hereby made unlawful to load or unload cattle upon or
from vessels by swinging them over the side by means of ropes or chains attached to the thorns.

Section 3 of Act No. 55 provides that —

Any owner or master of a vessel, or custodian of such animals, who knowingly and willfully fails to
comply with the provisions of section one, shall, for every such failure, be liable to pay a penalty of not
less that one hundred dollars nor more that five hundred dollars, United States money, for each offense.
Prosecution under this Act may be instituted in any Court of First Instance or any provost court
organized in the province or port in which such animals are disembarked.

1. It is contended that the information is insufficient because it does not state that the court was sitting at a port
where the cattle were disembarked, or that the offense was committed on board a vessel registered and
licensed under the laws of the Philippine Islands.

Act No. 55 confers jurisdiction over the offense created thereby on Courts of First Instance or any provost court
organized in the province or port in which such animals are disembarked, and there is nothing inconsistent
therewith in Act No. 136, which provides generally for the organization of the courts of the Philippine Islands.
Act No. 400 merely extends the general jurisdiction of the courts over certain offenses committed on the high
seas, or beyond the jurisdiction of any country, or within any of the waters of the Philippine Islands on board a
ship or water craft of any kind registered or licensed in the Philippine Islands, in accordance with the laws
thereof. (U.S.vs. Fowler, 1 Phil. Rep., 614.) This jurisdiction may be exercised by the Court of First Instance in
any province into which such ship or water upon which the offense or crime was committed shall come after
the commission thereof. Had this offense been committed upon a ship carrying a Philippine registry, there
could have been no doubt of the Jurisdiction of the court, because it is expressly conferred, and the Act is in
accordance with well recognized and established public law. But the Standard was a Norwegian vessel, and it
is conceded that it was not registered or licensed in the Philippine Islands under the laws thereof. We have
then the question whether the court had jurisdiction over an offense of this character, committed on board a
foreign ship by the master thereof, when the neglect and omission which constitutes the offense continued
during the time the ship was within the territorial waters of the United States. No court of the Philippine Islands
had jurisdiction over an offenses or crime committed on the high seas or within the territorial waters of any
other country, but when she came within 3 miles of a line drawn from the headlines which embrace the
entrance to Manila Bay, she was within territorial waters, and a new set of principles became applicable.
(Wheaton, Int. Law (Dana ed.), p. 255, note 105; Bonfils, Le Droit Int., sec 490 et seq.; Latour, La Mer Ter., ch.
1.) The ship and her crew were then subject to the jurisdiction of the territorial sovereign subject through the
proper political agency. This offense was committed within territorial waters. From the line which determines
these waters the Standard must have traveled at least 25 miles before she came to anchor. During that part of
her voyage the violation of the statue continued, and as far as the jurisdiction of the court is concerned, it is
immaterial that the same conditions may have existed while the vessel was on the high seas. The offense,
assuming that it originated at the port of departure in Formosa, was a continuing one, and every element
necessary to constitute it existed during the voyage across the territorial waters. The completed forbidden act
was done within American waters, and the court therefore had jurisdiction over the subject-matter of the
offense and the person of the offender.
The offense then was thus committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, but the objection to the
jurisdiction raises the further question whether that jurisdiction is restricted by the fact of the nationality of the
ship. Every. Every state has complete control and jurisdiction over its territorial waters. According to strict legal
right, even public vessels may not enter the ports of a friendly power without permission, but it is now
conceded that in the absence of a prohibition such ports are considered as open to the public ship of all
friendly powers. The exemption of such vessels from local jurisdiction while within such waters was not
established until within comparatively recent times. In 1794, Attorney-General Bradford, and in 1796 Attorney-
General Lee, rendered opinions to the effect that "the laws of nations invest the commander of a foreign ship of
war with no exemption from the jurisdiction of the country into which he comes." (1, Op. U.S. Attys. Gen., 46,
87.) This theory was also supported by Lord Stowell in an opinion given by him to the British Government as
late as 1820. In the leading case of the Schooner Exchange vs. McFadden (7 Cranch (U.S.), 116, 144), Chief
Justice Marshall said that the implied license under which such vessels enter a friendly port may reasonably be
construed as "containing exemption from the jurisdiction of the sovereign within whose territory she claims the
rights of hospitality." The principle was accepted by the Geneva Arbitration Tribunal, which announced that
"the priviledge of exterritoriality accorded to vessels of war has been admitted in the law of nations; not as an
absolute right, but solely as a proceeding founded on the principle of courtesy and mutual deference between
nations."
(2 Moore, Int. Law Dig., secs. 252 and 254; Hall, Int. Law, sec. 55; Taylor, Int. Law, sec. 256; Ortolan, Dip de la
Mer, 2. C.X.)

Such vessels are therefore permitted during times of peace to come and go freely. Local official exercise but
little control over their actions, and offenses committed by their crew are justiciable by their own officers acting
under the laws to which they primarily owe allegiance. This limitation upon the general principle of territorial
sovereignty is based entirely upon comity and convenience, and finds its justification in the fact that experience
shows that such vessels are generally careful to respect local laws and regulation which are essential to the
health, order, and well-being of the port. But comity and convenience does not require the extension of the
same degree of exemption to merchant vessels. There are two well-defined theories as to extent of the
immunities ordinarily granted to them, According to the French theory and practice, matters happening on
board a merchant ship which do not concern the tranquillity of the port or persons foreign to the crew, are
justiciable only by the court of the country to which the vessel belongs. The French courts therefore claim
exclusive jurisdiction over crimes committed on board French merchant vessels in foreign ports by one
member of the crew against another. (See Bonfils, Le Droit Int. (quat. ed.), secs. 624-628; Martens, Le Droit
Int., tome 2, pp. 338, 339; Ortolan, Dip. de la Mer, tit. 1, p. 292; Masse, Droit Int., tome 2, p. 63.) Such
jurisdiction has never been admitted or claim by Great Britain as a right, although she has frequently conceded
it by treaties. (Halleck, Int. Law (Baker's ed.), vol. 1, 231; British Territorial Waters Act, 1878.) Writers who
consider exterritoriality as a fact instead of a theory have sought to restrict local jurisdiction, but Hall, who is
doubtless the leading English authority, says that —

It is admitted by the most thoroughgoing asserters of the territoriality of merchant vessels that so soon
as the latter enter the ports of a foreign state they become subject to the local jurisdiction on all points
in which the interests of the country are touched. (Hall, Int. Law, p. 263.)

The United States has adhered consistently to the view that when a merchant vessel enters a foreign port it is
subject to the jurisdiction of the local authorities, unless the local sovereignty has by act of acquiescence or
through treaty arrangements consented to waive a portion of such jurisdiction. (15 Op. Attys. Gen., U. S., 178;
2 Moore, Int. Law Dig., sec. 204; article by Dean Gregory, Mich. Law Review, Vol. II, No. 5.) Chief Justice
Marshall, in the case of the Exchange, said that —

When merchant vessels enter for the purpose of trade, in would be obviously in convinient and
dangerous to society and would subject the laws to continual infraction and the government to
degradation if such individual merchants did not owe temporary and local allegiance, and were not
amendable to the jurisdiction of the country.

The Supreme Court of the United States has recently said that the merchant vessels of one country visiting the
ports of another for the purpose of trade, subject themselves to the laws which govern the ports they visit, so
long as they remain; and this as well in war as in peace, unless otherwise provided by treaty. (U.
S. vs. Diekelman, 92 U. S., 520-525.)

Certain limitations upon the jurisdiction of the local courts are imposed by article 13 of the treaty of commerce
and navigation between Sweden and Norway and the United States, of July 4, 1827, which concedes to the
consul, vice-consuls, or consular agents of each country "The right to sit as judges and arbitrators in such
differences as may arise between the captains and crews of the vessels belonging to the nation whose
interests are committed to their charge, without the interference of the local authorities, unless the conduct of
the crews or of the captains should disturb the order or tranquillity of the country." (Comp. of Treaties in Force,
1904, p. 754.) This exception applies to controversies between the members of the ship's company, and
particularly to disputes regarding wages. (2 Moore, Int. Law Dig., sec. 206, p. 318; Tellefsen vs. Fee, 168
Mass., 188.) The order and tranquillity of the country are affected by many events which do not amount to a
riot or general public disturbance. Thus an assault by one member of the crew upon another, committed upon
the ship, of which the public may have no knowledge whatever, is not by this treaty withdrawn from the
cognizance of the local authorities.

In 1876 the mates of the Swedish bark Frederike and Carolina engaged in a "quarrel" on board the vessel in
the port of Galveston, Texas. They were prosecuted before a justice of the peace, but the United States district
attorney was instructed by the Government to take the necessary steps to have the proceedings dismissed,
and the aid of the governor of Texas was invoked with the view to "guard against a repetition of similar
proceedings." (Mr. Fish, Secretary of State, to Mr. Grip, Swedish and Norwegian charged, May 16, 1876;
Moore, Int. Law Dig.) It does not appear that this "quarrel" was of such a nature as to amount to a breach of
the criminal laws of Texas, but when in 1879 the mate for the Norwegian bark Livingston was prosecuted in the
courts of Philadelphia County for an assault and battery committed on board the ship while lying in the port of
Philadelphia, it was held that there was nothing in the treaty which deprived the local courts of jurisdiction.
(Commonwealth vs. Luckness, 14 Phila. (Pa.), 363.) Representations were made through diplomatic channels
to the State Department, and on July 30, 1880, Mr. Evarts, Secretary of State, wrote to Count Lewenhaupt, the
Swedish and Norwegian minister, as follows:

I have the honor to state that I have given the matter careful consideration in connection with the views
and suggestion of your note and the provisions of the thirteenth article of the treaty of 1827 between the
United States and Sweden and Norway. The stipulations contained in the last clause of that article . . .
are those under which it is contended by you that jurisdiction is conferred on the consular officers, not
only in regard to such differences of a civil nature growing out of the contract of engagement of the
seamen, but also as to disposing of controversies resulting from personal violence involving offense for
which the party may be held amenable under the local criminal law.

This Government does not view the article in question as susceptible of such broad interpretation. The
jurisdiction conferred upon the consuls is conceived to be limited to their right to sit as judges or
abitratorsin such differences as may arise between captains and crews of the vessels, where such
differences do not involve on the part of the captain or crew a disturbance of the order or tranquillity of
the country. When, however, a complaint is made to a local magistrate, either by the captain or one or
more of the crew of the vessel, involving the disturbance of the order or tranquillity of the country, it is
competent for such magistrate to take cognizance of the matter in furtherance of the local laws, and
under such circumstances in the United States it becomes a public duty which the judge or magistrate
is not at liberty voluntarily to forego. In all such cases it must necessarily be left to the local judicial
authorities whether the procedure shall take place in the United States or in Sweden to determine if in
fact there had been such disturbance of the local order and tranquillity, and if the complaint is
supported by such proof as results in the conviction of the party accused, to visit upon the offenders
such punishment as may be defined against the offense by the municipal law of the place." (Moore, Int.
Law Dig., vol. 2, p. 315.)

The treaty does not therefore deprive the local courts of jurisdiction over offenses committed on board a
merchant vessel by one member of the crew against another which amount to a disturbance of the order or
tranquillity of the country, and a fair and reasonable construction of the language requires un to hold that any
violation of criminal laws disturbs the order or traquillity of the country. The offense with which the appellant is
charged had nothing to so with any difference between the captain and the crew. It was a violation by the
master of the criminal law of the country into whose port he came. We thus find that neither by reason of the
nationality of the vessel, the place of the commission of the offense, or the prohibitions of any treaty or general
principle of public law, are the court of the Philippine Islands deprived of jurisdiction over the offense charged
in the information in this case.

It is further contended that the complaint is defective because it does not allege that the animals were
disembarked at the port of Manila, an allegation which it is claimed is essential to the jurisdiction of the court
sitting at that port. To hold with the appellant upon this issue would be to construe the language of the
complaint very strictly against the Government. The disembarkation of the animals is not necessary in order to
constitute the completed offense, and a reasonable construction of the language of the statute confers
jurisdiction upon the court sitting at the port into which the animals are bought. They are then within the
territorial jurisdiction of the court, and the mere fact of their disembarkation is immaterial so far as jurisdiction is
concerned. This might be different if the disembarkation of the animals constituted a constitutional element in
the offense, but it does not.

It is also contended that the information is insufficient because it fails to allege that the
defendant knowingly andwillfully failed to provide suitable means for securing said animals while in transit, so
as to avoid cruelty and unnecessary suffering. The allegation of the complaint that the act was committed
willfully includes the allegation that it was committed knowingly. As said in Woodhouse vs. Rio Grande R.R.
Company (67 Texas, 416), "the word 'willfully' carries the idea, when used in connection with an act forbidden
by law, that the act must be done knowingly or intentionally; that, with knowledge, the will consented to,
designed, and directed the act." So in Wongvs. City of Astoria (13 Oregon, 538), it was said: "The first one is
that the complaint did not show, in the words of the ordinance, that the appellant 'knowingly' did the act
complained of. This point, I think, was fully answered by the respondent's counsel — that the words 'willfully'
and 'knowingly' conveyed the same meaning. To 'willfully' do an act implies that it was done by design — done
for a certain purpose; and I think that it would necessarily follow that it was 'knowingly' done." To the same
effect is Johnson vs. The People (94 Ill., 505), which seems to be on all fours with the present case.

The evidence shows not only that the defendant's acts were knowingly done, but his defense rests upon the
assertion that "according to his experience, the system of carrying cattle loose upon the decks and in the hold
is preferable and more secure to the life and comfort of the animals." It was conclusively proven that what was
done was done knowingly and intentionally.

In charging an offense under section 6 of General Orders, No. 58, paragraph 3, it is only necessary to state the
act or omission complained of as constituting a crime or public offense in ordinary and concise language,
without repitition. It need not necessarily be in the words of the statute, but it must be in such form as to enable
a person of common understanding to know what is intended and the court to pronounce judgment according
to right. A complaint which complies with this requirement is good. (U.S. vs. Sarabia, 4 Phil. Rep., 556.)

The Act, which is in the English language, impose upon the master of a vessel the duty to "provide suitable
means for securing such animals while in transit, so as to avoid all cruelty and unnecessary suffering to the
animals." The allegation of the complaint as it reads in English is that the defendant willfully, unlawfully, and
wrongfully carried the cattle "without providing suitable means for securing said animals while in transit, so as
to avoid cruelty and unnecessary suffering to the said animals in this . . . that by reason of the aforesaid
neglect and failure of the accused to provide suitable means for securing said animals were cruelty torn, and
many of said animals were tossed about upon the decks and hold of said vessels, and cruelty wounded,
bruised, and killed."

The appellant contends that the language of the Spanish text of the information does not charge him with
failure to provide "sufficient" and "adequate" means. The words used are "medios suficientes" and "medios
adecuados." In view of the fact that the original complaint was prepared in English, and that the word "suitable"
is translatable by the words "adecuado," "suficiente," and "conveniente," according to the context and
circumstances, we determine this point against the appellant, particularly in view of the fact that the objection
was not made in the court below, and that the evidence clearly shows a failure to provide "suitable means for
the protection of the animals."
2. The appellant's arguments against the constitutionality of Act No. 55 and the amendment thereto seems to
rest upon a fundamentally erroneous conception of the constitutional law of these Islands. The statute
penalizes acts and ommissions incidental to the transportation of live stock between foreign ports and ports of
the Philippine Islands, and had a similar statute regulating commerce with its ports been enacted by the
legislature of one of the States of the Union, it would doubtless have been in violation of Article I, section 3, of
the Constitution of the United States. (Stubbs vs. People (Colo.), 11 L. R. A., N. S., 1071.)

But the Philippine Islands is not a State, and its relation to the United States is controlled by constitutional
principles different from those which apply to States of the Union. The importance of the question thus
presented requires a statement of the principles which govern those relations, and consideration of the nature
and extent of the legislative power of the Philippine Commission and the Legislature of the Philippines. After
much discussion and considerable diversity of opinion certain applicable constitutional doctrines are
established.

The Constitution confers upon the United States the express power to make war and treaties, and it has the
power possessed by all nations to acquire territory by conquest or treaty. Territory thus acquired belongs to the
United States, and to guard against the possibility of the power of Congress to provide for its government being
questioned, the framers of the Constitution provided in express terms that Congress should have the power "to
dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting territory and other property belonging to the
United States." (Art. IV, sec. 3, par. 3.) Upon the acquisition of the territory by the United States, and until it is
formally incorporated into the Union, the duty of providing a government therefor devolves upon Congress. It
may govern the territory by its direct acts, or it may create a local government, and delegate thereto the
ordinary powers required for local government. (Binns vs. U. S., 194 U. S., 486.) This has been the usual
procedure. Congress has provided such governments for territories which were within the Union, and for newly
acquired territory not yet incorporated therein. It has been customary to organize a government with the
ordinary separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial, and to prescribe in an organic act certain
general conditions in accordance with which the local government should act. The organic act thus became the
constitution of the government of the territory which had not been formally incorporated into the Union, and the
validity of legislation enacted by the local legislature was determined by its conformity with the requirements of
such organic act. (National Bank vs. Yankton, 11 Otto (U. S.), 129.) To the legislative body of the local
government Congress has delegated that portion of legislative power which in its wisdom it deemed necessary
for the government of the territory, reserving, however, the right to annul the action of the local legislature and
itself legislate directly for the territory. This power has been exercised during the entire period of the history of
the United States. The right of Congress to delegate such legislative power can no longer be seriously
questioned. (Dorr vs. U. S., 195 U. S., 138; U. S. vs. Heinszen, 206 U. S., 370, 385.)

The Constitution of the United States does not by its own force operate within such territory, although the
liberality of Congress in legislating the Constitution into contiguous territory tended to create an impression
upon the minds of many people that it went there by its own force. (Downes vs. Bidwell, 182 U. S., 289.) In
legislating with reference to this territory, the power of Congress is limited only by those prohibitions of the
Constitution which go to the very root of its power to act at all, irrespective of time or place. In all other respects
it is plenary. (De Limavs. Bidwell, 182 U. S., 1; Downes vs. Bidwell, 182 U. S., 244; Hawaii vs. Mankichi, 190 U.
S., 197; Dorr vs. U. S., 195 U. S., 138; Rassmussen vs. U. S., 197 U. S., 516.)

This power has been exercised by Congress throughout the whole history of the United States, and legislation
founded on the theory was enacted long prior to the acquisition of the present Insular possessions. Section
1891 of the Revised Statutes of 1878 provides that "The Constitution and all laws of the United States which
are not locally inapplicable shall have the same force and effect within all the organized territories, and in every
Territory hereafter organized, as elsewhere within the United States." When Congress organized a civil
government for the Philippines, it expressly provided that this section of the Revised Statutes should not apply
to the Philippine Islands. (Sec. 1, Act of 1902.)

In providing for the government of the territory which was acquired by the United States as a result of the war
with Spain, the executive and legislative authorities have consistently proceeded in conformity with the
principles above state. The city of Manila was surrendered to the United States on August 13, 1898, and the
military commander was directed to hold the city, bay, and harbor, pending the conclusion of a peace which
should determine the control, disposition, and government of the Islands. The duty then devolved upon the
American authorities to preserve peace and protect person and property within the occupied territory. Provision
therefor was made by proper orders, and on August 26 General Merritt assumed the duties of military governor.
The treaty of peace was signed December 10, 1898. On the 22d of December, 1898, the President announced
that the destruction of the Spanish fleet and the surrender of the city had practically effected the conquest of
the Philippine Islands and the suspension of the Spanish sovereignty therein, and that by the treaty of peace
the future control, disposition, and government of the Islands had been ceded to the United States. During the
periods of strict military occupation, before the treaty of peace was ratified, and the interim thereafter, until
Congress acted (Santiago vs. Noueral, 214 U.S., 260), the territory was governed under the military authority
of the President as commander in chief. Long before Congress took any action, the President organized a civil
government which, however, had its legal justification, like the purely military government which it gradually
superseded, in the war power. The military power of the President embraced legislative, executive personally,
or through such military or civil agents as he chose to select. As stated by Secretary Root in his report for 1901

The military power in exercise in a territory under military occupation includes executive, legislative, and
judicial authority. It not infrequently happens that in a single order of a military commander can be
found the exercise of all three of these different powers — the exercise of the legislative powers by
provisions prescribing a rule of action; of judicial power by determination of right; and the executive
power by the enforcement of the rules prescribed and the rights determined.

President McKinley desired to transform military into civil government as rapidly as conditions would permit.
After full investigation, the organization of civil government was initiated by the appointment of a commission to
which civil authority was to be gradually transferred. On September 1, 1900, the authority to exercise, subject
to the approval of the President. "that part of the military power of the President in the Philippine Islands which
is legislative in its character" was transferred from the military government to the Commission, to be exercised
under such rules and regulations as should be prescribed by the Secretary of War, until such time as complete
civil government should be established, or congress otherwise provided. The legislative power thus conferred
upon the Commission was declared to include "the making of rules and orders having the effect of law for the
raising of revenue by taxes, customs duties, and imposts; the appropriation and expenditure of public funds of
the Islands; the establishment of an educational system to secure an efficient civil service; the organization and
establishment of courts; the organization and establishment of municipal and departmental government, and all
other matters of a civil nature which the military governor is now competent to provide by rules or orders of a
legislative character." This grant of legislative power to the Commission was to be exercised in conformity with
certain declared general principles, and subject to certain specific restrictions for the protection of individual
rights. The Commission were to bear in mind that the government to be instituted was "not for our satisfaction
or for the expression of our theoretical views, but for the happiness, peace, and prosperity of the people of the
Philippine Island, and the measures adopted should be made to conforms to their customs, their habits, and
even their prejudices, to the fullest extent consistent with the accomplishment of the indispensable requisites of
just and effective government." The specific restrictions upon legislative power were found in the declarations
that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; that private property
shall not be taken for public use without just compensation; that in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall
enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be
confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor,
and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense; that excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive
fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted; that no person shall be put twice in jeopardy for the
same offense or be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself; that the right to be secure
against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; that neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude shall exist except as a punishment for crime; that no bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be
passed; that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or of the rights of the
people to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances; that no law shall be
made respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, and that the free exercise
and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination or preference shall forever be
allowed."
To prevent any question as to the legality of these proceedings being raised, the Spooner amendment to the
Army Appropriation Bill passed March 2, 1901, provided that "all military, civil, and judicial powers necessary to
govern the Philippine Islands . . . shall until otherwise provided by Congress be vested in such person and
persons, and shall be exercised in such manner, as the President of the United States shall direct, for the
establishment of civil government, and for maintaining and protecting the inhabitants of said Islands in the free
enjoyment of their liberty, property, and religion." Thereafter, on July 4, 1901, the authority, which had been
exercised previously by the military governor, was transferred to that official. The government thus created by
virtue of the authority of the President as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy continued to administer
the affairs of the Islands under the direction of the President until by the Act of July 1, 1902, Congress
assumed control of the situation by the enactment of a law which, in connection with the instructions of April 7,
1900, constitutes the organic law of the Philippine Islands.

The Act of July 1, 1902, made no substancial changes in the form of government which the President had
erected. Congress adopted the system which was in operation, and approved the action of the President in
organizing the government. Substantially all the limitations which had been imposed on the legislative power
by the President's instructions were included in the law, Congress thus extending to the Islands by legislative
act nor the Constitution, but all its provisions for the protection of the rights and privileges of individuals which
were appropriate under the conditions. The action of the President in creating the Commission with designated
powers of government, in creating the office of the Governor-General and Vice-Governor-General, and through
the Commission establishing certain executive departments, was expressly approved and ratified.
Subsequently the action of the President in imposing a tariff before and after the ratification of the treaty of
peace was also ratified and approved by Congress. (Act of March 8, 1902; Act of July 1, 1902;
U.S. vs. Heinszen, 206 U.S., 370; Lincolnvs. U.S., 197 U.S., 419.) Until otherwise provided by law the Islands
were to continue to be governed "as thereby and herein provided." In the future the enacting clause of all
statutes should read "By authority of the United States" instead of "By the authority of the President." In the
course of time the legislative authority of the Commission in all parts of the Islands not inhabited by Moros or
non-Christian tribes was to be transferred to a legislature consisting of two houses — the Philippine
Commission and the Philippine Assembly. The government of the Islands was thus assumed by Congress
under its power to govern newly acquired territory not incorporated into the United States.

This Government of the Philippine Islands is not a State or a Territory, although its form and organization
somewhat resembles that of both. It stands outside of the constitutional relation which unites the States and
Territories into the Union. The authority for its creation and maintenance is derived from the Constitution of the
United States, which, however, operates on the President and Congress, and not directly on the Philippine
Government. It is the creation of the United States, acting through the President and Congress, both deriving
power from the same source, but from different parts thereof. For its powers and the limitations thereon the
Government of the Philippines looked to the orders of the President before Congress acted and the Acts of
Congress after it assumed control. Its organic laws are derived from the formally and legally expressed will of
the President and Congress, instead of the popular sovereign constituency which lies upon any subject relating
to the Philippines is primarily in Congress, and when it exercise such power its act is from the viewpoint of the
Philippines the legal equivalent of an amendment of a constitution in the United States.

Within the limits of its authority the Government of the Philippines is a complete governmental organism with
executive, legislative, and judicial departments exercising the functions commonly assigned to such
departments. The separation of powers is as complete as in most governments. In neither Federal nor State
governments is this separation such as is implied in the abstract statement of the doctrine. For instance, in the
Federal Government the Senate exercises executive powers, and the President to some extent controls
legislation through the veto power. In a State the veto power enables him to exercise much control over
legislation. The Governor-General, the head of the executive department in the Philippine Government, is a
member of the Philippine Commission, but as executive he has no veto power. The President and Congress
framed the government on the model with which Americans are familiar, and which has proven best adapted
for the advancement of the public interests and the protection of individual rights and priviliges.

In instituting this form of government of intention must have been to adopt the general constitutional doctrined
which are inherent in the system. Hence, under it the Legislature must enact laws subject to the limitations of
the organic laws, as Congress must act under the national Constitution, and the States under the national and
state constitutions. The executive must execute such laws as are constitutionally enacted. The judiciary, as in
all governments operating under written constitutions, must determine the validity of legislative enactments, as
well as the legality of all private and official acts. In performing these functions it acts with the same
independence as the Federal and State judiciaries in the United States. Under no other constitutional theory
could there be that government of laws and not of men which is essential for the protection of rights under a
free and orderly government.

Such being the constitutional theory of the Government of the Philippine Islands, it is apparent that the courts
must consider the question of the validity of an act of the Philippine Commission or the Philippine Legislature,
as a State court considers an act of the State legislature. The Federal Government exercises such powers only
as are expressly or impliedly granted to it by the Constitution of the United States, while the States exercise all
powers which have not been granted to the central government. The former operates under grants, the latter
subject to restrictions. The validity of an Act of Congress depends upon whether the Constitution of the United
States contains a grant of express or implied authority to enact it. An act of a State legislature is valid unless
the Federal or State constitution expressly or impliedly prohibits its enaction. An Act of the legislative authority
of the Philippines Government which has not been expressly disapproved by Congress is valid unless its
subject-matter has been covered by congressional legislation, or its enactment forbidden by some provision of
the organic laws.

The legislative power of the Government of the Philippines is granted in general terms subject to specific
limitations. The general grant is not alone of power to legislate on certain subjects, but to exercise the
legislative power subject to the restrictions stated. It is true that specific authority is conferred upon the
Philippine Government relative to certain subjects of legislation, and that Congress has itself legislated upon
certain other subjects. These, however, should be viewed simply as enactments on matters wherein Congress
was fully informed and ready to act, and not as implying any restriction upon the local legislative authority in
other matters. (See Opinion of Atty. Gen. of U. S., April 16, 1908.)

The fact that Congress reserved the power to annul specific acts of legislation by the Government of the
Philippine tends strongly to confirm the view that for purposes of construction the Government of the
Philippines should be regarded as one of general instead of enumerated legislative powers. The situation was
unusual. The new government was to operate far from the source of its authority. To relieve Congress from the
necessity of legislating with reference to details, it was thought better to grant general legislative power to the
new government, subject to broad and easily understood prohibitions, and reserve to Congress the power to
annul its acts if they met with disapproval. It was therefore provided "that all laws passed by the Government of
the Philippine Islands shall be reported to Congress, which hereby reserves the power and authority to annul
the same." (Act of Congress, July 1, 1902, sec. 86.) This provision does not suspend the acts of the
Legislature of the Philippines until approved by Congress, or when approved, expressly or by acquiescence,
make them the laws of Congress. They are valid acts of the Government of the Philippine Islands until annulled.
(Miners Bank vs. Iowa, 12 How. (U. S.), 1.)

In order to determine the validity of Act No. 55 we must then ascertain whether the Legislature has been
expressly or implication forbidden to enact it. Section 3, Article IV, of the Constitution of the United States
operated only upon the States of the Union. It has no application to the Government of the Philippine Islands.
The power to regulate foreign commerce is vested in Congress, and by virtue of its power to govern the
territory belonging to the United States, it may regulate foreign commerce with such territory. It may do this
directly, or indirectly through a legislative body created by it, to which its power in this respect if delegate.
Congress has by direct legislation determined the duties which shall be paid upon goods imported into the
Philippines, and it has expressly authorized the Government of the Philippines to provide for the needs of
commerce by improving harbors and navigable waters. A few other specific provisions relating to foreign
commerce may be found in the Acts of Congress, but its general regulation is left to the Government of the
Philippines, subject to the reserved power of Congress to annul such legislation as does not meet with its
approval. The express limitations upon the power of the Commission and Legislature to legislate do not affect
the authority with respect to the regulation of commerce with foreign countries. Act No. 55 was enacted before
Congress took over the control of the Islands, and this act was amended by Act No. 275 after the Spooner
amendment of March 2, 1901, was passed. The military government, and the civil government instituted by the
President, had the power, whether it be called legislative or administrative, to regulate commerce between
foreign nations and the ports of the territory. (Crossvs. Harrison, 16 How. (U.S.), 164, 190; Hamilton vs. Dillin,
21 Wall. (U.S.), 73, 87.) This Act has remained in force since its enactment without annulment or other action
by Congress, and must be presumed to have met with its approval. We are therefore satisfied that the
Commission had, and the Legislature now has, full constitutional power to enact laws for the regulation of
commerce between foreign countries and the ports of the Philippine Islands, and that Act No. 55, as amended
by Act No. 275, is valid.

3. Whether a certain method of handling cattle is suitable within the meaning of the Act can not be left to the
judgment of the master of the ship. It is a question which must be determined by the court from the evidence.
On December 2, 1908, the defendant Bull brought into and disembarked in the port and city of Manila certain
cattle, which came from the port of Ampieng, Formosa, without providing suitable means for securing said
animals while in transit, so as to avoid cruelty and unnecessary suffering to said animals, contrary to the
provisions of section 1 of Act No. 55, as amended by section 1 of Act No. 275. The trial court found the
following facts, all of which are fully sustained by the evidence:

That the defendant, H. N. Bull, as captain and master of the Norwegian steamer known as the Standard,
for a period of six months or thereabouts prior to the 2d day of December, 1908, was engaged in the
transportation of cattle and carabaos from Chines and Japanese ports to and into the city of Manila,
Philippine Islands.

That on the 2d day of December, 1908, the defendant, as such master and captain as aforesaid,
brought into the city of Manila, aboard said ship, a large number of cattle, which ship was anchored,
under the directions of the said defendant, behind the breakwaters in front of the city of Manila, in
Manila Bay, and within the jurisdiction of this court; and that fifteen of said cattle then and there had
broken legs and three others of said cattle were dead, having broken legs; and also that said cattle
were transported and carried upon said ship as aforesaid by the defendant, upon the deck and in the
hold of said ship, without suitable precaution and care for the transportation of said animals, and to
avoid danger and risk to their lives and security; and further that said cattle were so transported abroad
said ship by the defendant and brought into the said bay, and into the city of Manila, without any
provisions being made whatever upon said decks of said ship and in the hold thereof to maintain said
cattle in a suitable condition and position for such transportation.

That a suitable and practicable manner in which to transport cattle abroad steamship coming into
Manila Bay and unloading in the city of Manila is by way of individual stalls for such cattle, providing
partitions between the cattle and supports at the front sides, and rear thereof, and cross-cleats upon
the floor on which they stand and are transported, of that in case of storms, which are common in this
community at sea, such cattle may be able to stand without slipping and pitching and falling, individually
or collectively, and to avoid the production of panics and hazard to the animals on account or cattle
were transported in this case. Captain Summerville of the steamship Taming, a very intelligent and
experienced seaman, has testified, as a witness in behalf of the Government, and stated positively that
since the introduction in the ships with which he is acquainted of the stall system for the transportation
of animals and cattle he has suffered no loss whatever during the last year. The defendant has testified,
as a witness in his own behalf, that according to his experience the system of carrying cattle loose upon
the decks and in the hold is preferable and more secure to the life and comfort of the animals, but this
theory of the case is not maintainable, either by the proofs or common reason. It can not be urged with
logic that, for instance, three hundred cattle supports for the feet and without stalls or any other
protection for them individually can safely and suitably carried in times of storm upon the decks and in
the holds of ships; such a theory is against the law of nature. One animal falling or pitching, if he is
untied or unprotected, might produce a serious panic and the wounding of half the animals upon the
ship if transported in the manner found in this case.

The defendant was found guilty, and sentenced to pay a fine of two hundred and fifty pesos, with subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. The sentence and judgment is affirmed. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Carson and Moreland, JJ., concur.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-5887 December 16, 1910

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
LOOK CHAW (alias LUK CHIU), defendant-appellant.

Thos. D. Aitken for appellant.


Attorney-General Villamor for appellee.

ARELLANO, C. J.:

The first complaint filed against the defendant, in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, stated that he "carried,
kept, possessed and had in his possession and control, 96 kilogrammes of opium," and that "he had been
surprised in the act of selling 1,000 pesos worth prepared opium."

The defense presented a demurrer based on two grounds, the second of which was the more than one crime
was charged in the complaint. The demurrer was sustained, as the court found that the complaint contained
two charges, one, for the unlawful possession of opium, and the other, for the unlawful sale of opium, and,
consequence of that ruling, it ordered that the fiscal should separate one charge from the other and file a
complaint for each violation; this, the fiscal did, and this cause concerns only the unlawful possession of opium.
It is registered as No. 375, in the Court of First Instance of Cebu, and as No. 5887 on the general docket of this
court.

The facts of the case are contained in the following finding of the trial court:

The evidence, it says, shows that between 11 and 12 o'clock a. m. on the present month (stated as
August 19, 1909), several persons, among them Messrs. Jacks and Milliron, chief of the department of
the port of Cebu and internal-revenue agent of Cebu, respectively, went abroad the steamship Erroll to
inspect and search its cargo, and found, first in a cabin near the saloon, one sack (Exhibit A) and
afterwards in the hold, another sack (Exhibit B). The sack referred to as Exhibit A contained 49 cans of
opium, and the other, Exhibit B, the larger sack, also contained several cans of the same substance.
The hold, in which the sack mentioned in Exhibit B was found, was under the defendant's control, who
moreover, freely and of his own will and accord admitted that this sack, as well as the other referred to
in Exhibit B and found in the cabin, belonged to him. The said defendant also stated, freely and
voluntarily, that he had bought these sacks of opium, in Hongkong with the intention of selling them as
contraband in Mexico or Vera Cruz, and that, as his hold had already been searched several times for
opium, he ordered two other Chinamen to keep the sack. Exhibit A.

It is to be taken into account that the two sacks of opium, designated as Exhibits A and B, properly constitute
thecorpus delicti. Moreover, another lot of four cans of opium, marked, as Exhibit C, was the subject matter of
investigation at the trial, and with respect to which the chief of the department of the port of Cebu testified that
they were found in the part of the ship where the firemen habitually sleep, and that they were delivered to the
first officer of the ship to be returned to the said firemen after the vessel should have left the Philippines,
because the firemen and crew of foreign vessels, pursuant to the instructions he had from the Manila custom-
house, were permitted to retain certain amounts of opium, always provided it should not be taken shore.
And, finally, another can of opium, marked "Exhibit D," is also corpus delicti and important as evidence in this
cause. With regard to this the internal-revenue agent testified as follows:itc-alf

FISCAL. What is it?

WITNESS. It is a can opium which was bought from the defendant by a secret-service agent and taken
to the office of the governor to prove that the accused had opium in his possession to sell.

On motion by the defense, the court ruled that this answer might be stricken out "because it refers to a sale."
But, with respect to this answer, the chief of the department of customs had already given this testimony, to
wit:

FISCAL. Who asked you to search the vessel?

WITNESS. The internal-revenue agent came to my office and said that a party brought him a sample of
opium and that the same party knew that there was more opium on board the steamer, and the agent
asked that the vessel be searched.

The defense moved that this testimony be rejected, on the ground of its being hearsay evidence, and the court
only ordered that the part thereof "that there was more opium, on board the vessel" be stricken out.

The defense, to abbreviate proceedings, admitted that the receptacles mentioned as Exhibits A, B, and C,
contained opium and were found on board the steamship Erroll, a vessel of English nationality, and that it was
true that the defendant stated that these sacks of opium were his and that he had them in his possession.

According to the testimony of the internal-revenue agent, the defendant stated to him, in the presence of the
provincial fiscal, of a Chinese interpreter (who afterwards was not needed, because the defendant spoke
English), the warden of the jail, and four guards, that the opium seized in the vessel had been bought by him in
Hongkong, at three pesos for each round can and five pesos for each one of the others, for the purpose of
selling it, as contraband, in Mexico and Puerto de Vera Cruz; that on the 15th the vessel arrived at Cebu, and
on the same day he sold opium; that he had tried to sell opium for P16 a can; that he had a contract to sell an
amount of the value of about P500; that the opium found in the room of the other two Chinamen prosecuted in
another cause, was his, and that he had left it in their stateroom to avoid its being found in his room, which had
already been searched many times; and that, according to the defendant, the contents of the large sack was
80 cans of opium, and of the small one, 49, and the total number, 129.

It was established that the steamship Erroll was of English nationality, that it came from Hongkong, and that it
was bound for Mexico, via the call ports of Manila and Cebu.

The defense moved for a dismissal of the case, on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction to try the
same and the facts concerned therein did not constitute a crime. The fiscal, at the conclusion of his argument,
asked that the maximum penalty of the law be imposed upon the defendant, in view of the considerable
amount of opium seized. The court ruled that it did not lack jurisdiction, inasmuch as the crime had been
committed within its district, on the wharf of Cebu.

The court sentenced the defendant to five years' imprisonment, to pay a fine of P10,000, with additional
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, though not to exceed one third of the principal penalty, and to
the payment of the costs. It further ordered the confiscation, in favor of the Insular Government, of the exhibits
presented in the case, and that, in the event of an appeal being taken or a bond given, or when the sentenced
should have been served, the defendant be not released from custody, but turned over to the customs
authorities for the purpose of the fulfillment of the existing laws on immigration.

From this judgment, the defendant appealed to this court.lawphi1.net


The appeal having been heard, together with the allegations made therein by the parties, it is found: That,
although the mere possession of a thing of prohibited use in these Islands, aboard a foreign vessel in transit, in
any of their ports, does not, as a general rule, constitute a crime triable by the courts of this country, on
account of such vessel being considered as an extension of its own nationality, the same rule does not apply
when the article, whose use is prohibited within the Philippine Islands, in the present case a can of opium, is
landed from the vessel upon Philippine soil, thus committing an open violation of the laws of the land, with
respect to which, as it is a violation of the penal law in force at the place of the commission of the crime, only
the court established in that said place itself had competent jurisdiction, in the absence of an agreement under
an international treaty.

It is also found: That, even admitting that the quantity of the drug seized, the subject matter of the present case,
was considerable, it does not appear that, on such account, the two penalties fixed by the law on the subject,
should be imposed in the maximum degree.

Therefore, reducing the imprisonment and the fine imposed to six months and P1,000, respectively, we affirm
in all other respects the judgment appealed from, with the costs of this instance against the appellant. So
ordered.

Torres, Mapa, Johnson, Carson, Moreland and Trent, JJ., concur.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-13005 October 10, 1917

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
AH SING, defendant-appellant.

Antonio Sanz for appellant.


Acting Attorney-General Paredes for appellee.

MALCOLM, J.:

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Cebu finding the defendant guilty of a
violation of section 4 of Act No. 2381 (the Opium Law), and sentencing him to two years imprisonment, to pay
a fine of P300 or to suffer subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.

The following facts are fully proven: The defendant is a subject of China employed as a fireman on the
steamshipShun Chang. The Shun Chang is a foreign steamer which arrived at the port of Cebu on April 25,
1917, after a voyage direct from the port of Saigon. The defendant bought eight cans of opium in Saigon,
brought them on board the steamship Shun Chang, and had them in his possession during the trip from Saigon
to Cebu. When the steamer anchored in the port of Cebu on April 25, 1917, the authorities on making a search
found the eight cans of opium above mentioned hidden in the ashes below the boiler of the steamer's engine.
The defendant confessed that he was the owner of this opium, and that he had purchased it in Saigon. He did
not confess, however, as to his purpose in buying the opium. He did not say that it was his intention to import
the prohibited drug into the Philippine Islands. No other evidence direct or indirect, to show that the intention of
the accused was to import illegally this opium into the Philippine Islands, was introduced.

Has the crime of illegal importation of opium into the Philippine Islands been proven?

Two decisions of this Court are cited in the judgment of the trial court, but with the intimation that there exists
inconsistently between the doctrines laid down in the two cases. However, neither decision is directly a
precedent on the facts before us.

In the case of United States vs. Look Chaw ([1910], 18 Phil., 573), in the opinion handed down by the Chief
Justice, it is found —

That, although the mere possession of a thing of prohibited use in these Islands, aboard a foreign
vessel in transit, in any of their ports, does not, as a general rule, constitute a crime triable by the courts
of this country, on account of such vessel being considered as an extension of its own nationality, the
same rule does no apply when the article, whose use is prohibited within the Philippine Islands, in the
present case a can of opium, is landed from the vessel upon Philippine soil, thus committing an open
violation of the laws of the land, with respect to which, as it is a violation of the penal law in force at the
place of the commission of the crime, only the court established in the said place itself has competent
jurisdiction, in the absence of an agreement under an international treaty.1awphil.net

A marked difference between the facts in the Look Chaw case and the facts in the present instance is readily
observable. In the Look Chaw case, the charge case the illegal possession and sale of opium — in the present
case the charge as illegal importation of opium; in the Look Chaw case the foreign vessel was in transit — in
the present case the foreign vessel was not in transit; in the Look Chaw case the opium was landed from the
vessel upon Philippine soil — in the present case of United States vs. Jose ([1916], 34 Phil., 840), the main
point, and the one on which resolution turned, was that in a prosecution based on the illegal importation of
opium or other prohibited drug, the Government must prove, or offer evidence sufficient to raise a presumption,
that the vessel from which the drug is discharged came into Philippine waters from a foreign country with the
drug on board. In the Jose case, the defendants were acquitted because it was not proved that the opium was
imported from a foreign country; in the present case there is no question but what the opium came from Saigon
to Cebu. However, in the opinion in the Jose case, we find the following which may be obiter dicta, but which at
least is interesting as showing the view of the writer of the opinion:

The importation was complete, to say the least, when the ship carrying it anchored in Subic Bay. It was
not necessary that the opium discharged or that it be taken from the ship. It was sufficient that the
opium was brought into the waters of the Philippine Islands on a boat destined for a Philippine port and
which subsequently anchored in a port of the Philippine Islands with intent to discharge its cargo.

Resolving whatever doubt was exist as to the authority of the views just quoted, we return to an examination of
the applicable provisions of the law. It is to be noted that section 4 of Act No. 2381 begins, "Any person who
shall unlawfully import or bring any prohibited drug into the Philippine Islands." "Import" and "bring" are
synonymous terms. The Federal Courts of the United States have held that the mere act of going into a port,
without breaking bulk, is prima facie evidence of importation. (The Mary [U. S.], 16 Fed. Cas., 932, 933.) And
again, the importation is not the making entry of goods at the custom house, but merely the bringing them into
port; and the importation is complete before entry of the Custom House. (U. S. vs. Lyman [U. S.], 26, Fed. Cas.,
1024, 1028; Perots vs. U. S., 19 Fed. Cas., 258.) As applied to the Opium Law, we expressly hold that any
person unlawfully imports or brings any prohibited drug into the Philippine Islands, when the prohibited drug is
found under this person's control on a vessel which has come direct from a foreign country and is within the
jurisdictional limits of the Philippine Islands. In such case, a person is guilty of illegal importation of the drug
unless contrary circumstances exist or the defense proves otherwise. Applied to the facts herein, it would be
absurb to think that the accused was merely carrying opium back and forth between Saigon and Cebu for the
mere pleasure of so doing. It would likewise be impossible to conceive that the accused needed so large an
amount of opium for his personal use. No better explanation being possible, the logical deduction is that the
defendant intended this opium to be brought into the Philippine Islands. We accordingly find that there was
illegal importation of opium from a foreign country into the Philippine Islands. To anticipate any possible
misunderstanding, let it be said that these statements do not relate to foreign vessels in transit, a situation not
present.

The defendant and appellant, having been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as charged and the
sentence of the trial court being within the limits provided by law, it results that the judgment must be affirmed
with the costs of this instance against the appellant. So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Johnson, Carson, Araullo and Street, JJ., concur.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-18924 October 19, 1922

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellant,


vs.
WONG CHENG (alias WONG CHUN), defendant-appellee.

Attorney-General Villa-Real for appellant.


Eduardo Gutierrez Repide for appellee.

ROMUALDEZ, J.:

In this appeal the Attorney-General urges the revocation of the order of the Court of First Instance of Manila,
sustaining the demurrer presented by the defendant to the information that initiated this case and in which the
appellee is accused of having illegally smoked opium, aboard the merchant vessel Changsa of English nationality
while said vessel was anchored in Manila Bay two and a half miles from the shores of the city.

The demurrer alleged lack of jurisdiction on the part of the lower court, which so held and dismissed the case.

The question that presents itself for our consideration is whether such ruling is erroneous or not; and it will or will not
be erroneous according as said court has or has no jurisdiction over said offense.

The point at issue is whether the courts of the Philippines have jurisdiction over crime, like the one herein involved,
committed aboard merchant vessels anchored in our jurisdiction waters. 1awph!l.net

There are two fundamental rules on this particular matter in connection with International Law; to wit, the French rule,
according to which crimes committed aboard a foreign merchant vessels should not be prosecuted in the courts of
the country within whose territorial jurisdiction they were committed, unless their commission affects the peace and
security of the territory; and the English rule, based on the territorial principle and followed in the United States,
according to which, crimes perpetrated under such circumstances are in general triable in the courts of the country
within territory they were committed. Of this two rules, it is the last one that obtains in this jurisdiction, because at
present the theories and jurisprudence prevailing in the United States on this matter are authority in the Philippines
which is now a territory of the United States.

In the cases of The Schooner Exchange vs. M'Faddon and Others (7 Cranch [U. S.], 116), Chief Justice Marshall
said:

. . . When merchant vessels enter for the purposes of trade, it would be obviously inconvenient and
dangerous to society, and would subject the laws to continual infraction, and the government to degradation,
if such individuals or merchants did not owe temporary and local allegiance, and were not amenable to the
jurisdiction of the country. . . .

In United States vs. Bull (15 Phil., 7), this court held:

. . . No court of the Philippine Islands had jurisdiction over an offense or crime committed on the high seas or
within the territorial waters of any other country, but when she came within three miles of a line drawn from
the headlands, which embrace the entrance to Manila Bay, she was within territorial waters, and a new set
of principles became applicable. (Wheaton, International Law [Dana ed.], p. 255, note 105; Bonfils, Le Droit
Int., secs. 490 et seq.; Latour, La Mer Ter., ch. 1.) The ship and her crew were then subject to the
jurisdiction of the territorial sovereign subject to such limitations as have been conceded by that sovereignty
through the proper political agency. . . .
It is true that in certain cases the comity of nations is observed, as in Mali and Wildenhus vs. Keeper of the Common
Jail (120 U.., 1), wherein it was said that:

. . . The principle which governs the whole matter is this: Disorder which disturb only the peace of the ship or
those on board are to be dealt with exclusively by the sovereignty of the home of the ship, but those which
disturb the public peace may be suppressed, and, if need be, the offenders punished by the proper
authorities of the local jurisdiction. It may not be easy at all times to determine which of the two jurisdictions
a particular act of disorder belongs. Much will undoubtedly depend on the attending circumstances of the
particular case, but all must concede that felonious homicide is a subject for the local jurisdiction, and that if
the proper authorities are proceeding with the case in the regular way the consul has no right to interfere to
prevent it.

Hence in United States vs. Look Chaw (18 Phil., 573), this court held that:

Although the mere possession of an article of prohibited use in the Philippine Islands, aboard a foreign
vessel in transit in any local port, does not, as a general rule, constitute a crime triable by the courts of the
Islands, such vessels being considered as an extension of its own nationality, the same rule does not apply
when the article, the use of which is prohibited in the Islands, is landed from the vessels upon Philippine soil;
in such a case an open violation of the laws of the land is committed with respect to which, as it is a violation
of the penal law in force at the place of the commission of the crime, no court other than that established in
the said place has jurisdiction of the offense, in the absence of an agreement under an international treaty.

As to whether the United States has ever consented by treaty or otherwise to renouncing such jurisdiction or a part
thereof, we find nothing to this effect so far as England is concerned, to which nation the ship where the crime in
question was committed belongs. Besides, in his work "Treaties, Conventions, etc.," volume 1, page 625, Malloy
says the following:

There shall be between the territories of the United States of America, and all the territories of His Britanic
Majesty in Europe, a reciprocal liberty of commerce. The inhabitants of the two countries, respectively, shall
have liberty freely and securely to come with their ships and cargoes to all such places, ports and rivers, in
the territories aforesaid, to which other foreigners are permitted to come, to enter into the same, and to
remain and reside in any parts of the said territories, respectively; also to hire and occupy houses and
warehouses for the purposes of their commerce; and, generally, the merchants and traders of each nation
respectively shall enjoy the most complete protection and security for their commerce, but subject always to
the laws and statutes of the two countries, respectively. (Art. 1, Commerce and Navigation Convention.)

We have seen that the mere possession of opium aboard a foreign vessel in transit was held by this court not triable
by or courts, because it being the primary object of our Opium Law to protect the inhabitants of the Philippines
against the disastrous effects entailed by the use of this drug, its mere possession in such a ship, without being
used in our territory, does not being about in the said territory those effects that our statute contemplates avoiding.
Hence such a mere possession is not considered a disturbance of the public order.

But to smoke opium within our territorial limits, even though aboard a foreign merchant ship, is certainly a breach of
the public order here established, because it causes such drug to produce its pernicious effects within our territory. It
seriously contravenes the purpose that our Legislature has in mind in enacting the aforesaid repressive statute.
Moreover, as the Attorney-General aptly observes:

. . . The idea of a person smoking opium securely on board a foreign vessel at anchor in the port of Manila in
open defiance of the local authorities, who are impotent to lay hands on him, is simply subversive of public
order. It requires no unusual stretch of the imagination to conceive that a foreign ship may come into the port
of Manila and allow or solicit Chinese residents to smoke opium on board.

The order appealed from is revoked and the cause ordered remanded to the court of origin for further proceedings in
accordance with law, without special findings as to costs. So ordered.

Araullo, C.J., Street, Malcolm, Avanceña, Villamor, Ostrand and Johns, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 84612 March 11, 1992

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
DIOSDADO AVILA, AGAPITO AGRABIO and AURELIO SILVOZA, accused, DIOSDADO AVILA and
AGAPITO AGRABIO, accused-appellants.

PADILLA, J.:

This is an appeal from the decision * of the Regional Trial Court, Tandag, Surigao del Sur, Branch 27, dated 12
July 1988, rendered in Criminal Case No. 1326, finding the accused Diosdado Avila and Agapito Agrabio,
herein appellants, guilty of the crime of murder, but acquitting accused Aurelio Silvoza. However, after the trial
court had forwarded to this Court the records of the case, by reason of the appeal interposed by the appellants,
said court, on 1 August 1988, amended its decision of 12 July 1988 and submitted to this Court said amended
decision which found accused Avila and Agrabio guilty of rebellion, not murder. The people interposed
objection to the rendition of the amended decision at a time when the trial court had lost jurisdiction over the
case.

The records show on 23 October 1985, the victim Gregorio P. Murillo, then governor of the province of Surigao
del Sur, was shot dead allegedly by Diosdado Avila, Agapito Agrabio and Aurelio Silvoza. An information for
murder was filed against the above-named accused, which reads as follows:

That on or about 5:30 o'clock in the morning on October 23, 1985 at the National Highway,
municipality of Tandag, province of Surigao del Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Diosdado Avila, Agapito Agrabio and Aurelio
Silvoza, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, without provocation, with
treachery, evident premeditation and with deliberate intent to kill, armed with an unlicensed .45
Caliber Pistol and with the use thereof, did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
shoot Governor Gregorio P. Murillo, Provincial Governor of Surigao del Sur, thereby hitting and
inflicting upon the latter a gunshot wound on his head, . . .

xxx xxx xxx

which wound or injuries caused the instantaneous death of Governor Gregorio P. Murillo, . . . . 1

Upon arraignment, the three (3) accused pleaded not guilty to the crime charged. The only issue which the trial
court found necessary to resolve was whether or into the shooting and resultant killing of the victim by the
accused, were done in furtherance of rebellion or of their intention to overthrow or help overthrow the duly
constituted government. 2

On 12 July 1988, after hearing the evidence of the prosecution and the defense, the trial court rendered its
decision finding, as already adverted to the two (2) accused, Diosdado Avila and Agapito Agrabio, guilty of the
crime charged (murder) and sentencing them to life imprisonment, while the third accused, Aurelio Silvoza,
was absolved from any criminal liability. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, finding accused Diosdado Avila and Agapito Agrabio guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of murder as principals, the court sentences both of them to life imprisonment,
to be served by them at the National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, with costs against
them.

They are hereby ordered to pay the heirs of the late Governor Gregorio P. Murillo the sum of
P6,000.00 for the marble tomb of the deceased; P10,000.00 for the expenses in the solution of
this crime; P30,000.00 for life indemnity; P50,000.00 for actual damages; P25,000.00 for moral
damages and P10,000.00 for exemplary damages, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency.

Accused Aurelio Silvoza is hereby absolved from any criminal liability. 3

Accused Avila and Agapito timely filed their appeal from said decision. On 3 August 1988, the trial court
forwarded (posted) to this Court the records of the case including its decision of 12 July 1988 which were
received by the Supreme Court on 26 August 1988. However, the records also show that the trial court issued
another decision which is dated 1 August 1988 but forwarded (posted) to the Supreme Court on 15 August
1988 and received by the Supreme Court on 15 September 1988. Its second decision amended its earlier
decision of 12 July 1988, ruling this time that Avila and Agrabio are guilty of rebellion, not murder. The
dispositive portion of the amended decision reads:

WHEREFORE, finding the accused Diosdado Avila and Agapito Agrabio guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of rebellion, the court sentences them to suffer the penalty of reclusion
temporal in its medium period and a fine of not to exceed P20,000.00 or an imprisonment of
twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty (20) years and an additional imprisonment in case
of insolvency to be served by them in the National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.

xxx xxx xxx

Accused Aurelio Silvoza is hereby absolved from any criminal liability. 4

It will be observed that the "amended decision", although dated 1 August 1988, was promulgated only after the
appellants had timely appealed from the earlier decision of 12 July 1988 and after the trial court had forwarded
to the Supreme Court the records of the case.

Section 7, Rule 120 of the Rules of Court provides that a "judgment of conviction may, upon motion of the
accused, be modified or set aside by the court rendering it before the judgment has become final or appeal has
been perfected." It is thus clear that at the trial court rendered the "amended decision," said court had already
lost its jurisdiction over the case, the appeal having been earlier perfected. Hence, the "amended decision" has
no legal force and effect.

There is no question then that it is the decision of 12 July 1988 convicting the appellants of the crime of murder
and sentencing them to the penalty of life imprisonment, which is the subject of the present review.

The main if not the sole question in the appeal at bar is whether the trial court correctly convicted appellants of
the crime of murder.

Upon careful consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, as well as the evidence
presented by the prosecution and the defense, the Court, in the exercise of its power to review, revise, reverse,
modify or affirm 5 the appealed decision dated 12 July 1988, holds that appellants Avila and Agrabio are guilty
of the crime of rebellion, not murder. Hence, we find merit in their appeal.

The undisputed facts 6 of the case show that:


At about 5:30 in the morning of 23 October 1985 along the national highway of Tandag, Surigao
del Sur, while the victim was inside his car seated beside the driver, whereas Mrs. Murillo, (wife
of the Governor) was seated behind, appellant Avila shot Governor Murillo at the head, using
a .45 caliber pistol, resulting to the Governor's death. His only companion then was appellant
Agrabio. Aurelio Silvoza (the other co-accused) was not present at the time the crime was
committed as he was at the hinterland resting because he was then sick. 7 After the shooting,
the two appellants — Avila and Agrabio ran away. On 17 February 1987 Agrabio was
apprehended whereas Avila and Silvoza were captured on 18 February 1987 by the members
of the Philippine Constabulary.

During the trial of the case, it was the contention of the defense that appellants committed rebellion, not murder,
the shooting and killing of the late Governor Murillo being a means to or in furtherance of rebellion or in
pursuance of the objectives of the rebels. 8

However, notwithstanding the aforesaid claim of the defense, the trial court in its decision, dated 12 July 1988,
found appellants Avila and Agrabio guilty of the crime of murder (accused Silvoza was acquitted). It ruled that
the crime committed could not be rebellion because there was no evidence presented showing that at the time
Governor Murillo was fatally shot, an uprising or rebellion was on-going where the rebels and the armed forces
of the government were actually fighting or locked in combat.

But the evidence show that appellants Avila and Agrabio were on a mission to kill and, in fact, they killed
Governor Murillo on that fateful day of 23 October 1985. The evidence also disclose that at the time they killed
the Governor, they were members of the liquidating squad of the New People's Army (NPA), and that they
killed the Governor upon the orders of their senior officer in the NPA, one Commander Celo. According to them,
they were ordered to "liquidate" the Governor because of the latter's "corruption" in not giving on time the
salaries of the employees in the provincial government, and that, instead, he gave the salaries first to the
military whom he maintained as his personal bodyguards.

The killing of Governor Murillo by the appellants Avila (alias Commander Efren); and Agrabio
(alias Commander Raymund) who were at
the time admittedly and undisputably members of the liquidating squad of the NPA, 9 upon the orders of NPA
Commander Celo, appears therefore to be politically motivated and tainted. Hence, this Court is of the view
that the appellants committed the crime of simple rebellion, not murder, punishable under Article 134 and 135
of the Revised Penal code ("RPC" for brevity) consistent with the ruling in People vs. Manglallan, 10 which held
that:

The appellant admits that he was a member of the NPA then operating in the Cagayan Area
with Ka Daniel as their leader. He asserts that the NPA is the military arm of the Communist
Party of the Philippines. There is no question likewise that the killing of Apolonio Ragual by the
appellant and his companions who were also members of the NPA upon the orders of Ka Daniel
was politically motivated. They suspected Ragual as an informer of the PC. In fact, after he was
killed, they left a letter and a drawing on the body of Ragual as a warning to others not follow his
example. . . . The Court, therefore, sustains the contention of the appellant that the crime he
committed is not murder but the crime of rebellion punishable under Articles 134 and 135 of the
Revised Penal Code.

As regards the crime of rebellion and the penalty imposable therefor, Articles 134 and 135 of the Revised
Penal Code have been amended several times by a number of presidential decrees and Executive Order No.
187 11 and Republic Act No. 6968. 12

At the time the crime was committed in the case at bar (i.e., 23 October 1985), the presidential decree in force
and effect was P.D. 1834 which amended Article 135 of the RPC, by imposing a penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death for those found guilty of rebellion. Felonies being generally punishable under the laws in
force at the time of their commission, 13 the impossible penalty, therefore, in the present case is
that provided by P.D. 1834. Said Article 135, as amended by P.D. 1834, refers to two (2) groups of persons
who may commit rebellion — the first group (referred to in paragraph one of Article 135) are those who
promote, maintain, or head a rebellion, or who, while holding any public office or employment, take part therein,
engaging in war against the forces of the government, destroying property or committing serious violence,
exacting contributions or diverting public funds from the lawful purpose for which they have been appropriated;
the second group (referred to in paragraph two thereof) are those who merely participate in or execute the
commands of others in a rebellion.

In the instant appeal, while we find the appellants guilty of rebellion, we also find that their case falls under the
"second group" referred to in paragraph two (2) of Article 135, the evidence having shown that they belonged
to the liquidating squad of the NPA, tasked to operate in Tandag, and that they killed the victim, Governor
Murillo, in compliance with the orders of their senior officer, one Commander Celo of the NPA.

However, as far as the penalty imposed is concerned, it would seem immaterial whether the offender falls
under the first or second group, for under Article 135, RPC as amended by P.D. 1834, a uniform penalty
of reclusion perpetua to death is imposed for the "first group" or "second group" of rebellion.

But we take note that pending the present appeal, R.A. 6968 was enacted and is now in full force, which
provides for the penalty of reclusion perpetua for offenders belonging to the "first group", and reclusion
temporal only for those falling under the "second group" of rebellion.

Pursuant to Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code 14 penal laws are given retroactive effect insofar as they are
favorable to the offender. Considering that a retroactive effect of RA 6968 to the present appeal would be more
favorable to the appellants as said Act imposes a penalty of reclusion temporal, not reclusion perpetua as in
P.D. 1834, for offenders belonging to the "second group" of rebels, the Court shall therefore impose the
penalty provided for in Article 135 of the RPC, as amended by RA 6968, which is reclusion temporal. There
being neither an aggravating nor mitigating circumstance attending the commission of the offense, the proper
penalty is reclusion temporal in its medium period, applying rule No. 1 set forth in Article 64 of the RPC. 15 The
range of the penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period is from fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months
and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months. 16

As to the award of damages adjudged by the trial court, this Court grants to the heirs of the late Governor an
indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00, but the other items for damages granted in the appealed decision are
set aside for they are not proper in rebellion cases.

Finally, the Court notes with deep concern the trial judge's attempt to amend his earlier decision of 12 July
1988, after the lapse of 20 days (the amended decision being dated 1 August 1988), totally disregarding the
basic doctrine that courts lose jurisdiction over cases after an appeal shall have been perfected therein. This
doctrine is too elementary as to have been ignored by the trial judge. Whatever may be the reasons behind the
intriguing change in the respondent judge in rendering his amended decision, the Court strictly admonishes
him to be more cautious, circumspect and be decisive in the exercise of his judicial functions.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the Regional Trial Court of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, Branch 27 dated
12 July 1988 rendered in Criminal Case No. 1326 is hereby MODIFIED, by convicting the accused-appellants,
Diosdado Avila and Agapito Agrabio of the crime of rebellion punishable under Article 135, paragraph No. 2 of
the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act No. 6968, ( and not murder), and hereby sentencing
them to suffer imprisonment of fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years
and four (4) months of reclusion temporal, and to indemnify, solidarily, the heirs of the deceased former
Governor Gregorio P. Murillo in the amount of P50,000.00.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Regalado and Nocon, JJ., concur.


Footnotes

** Penned by Judge Martin V. Vera Cruz.

1 Rollo, p. 9.

2 Rollo, p. 11.

3 Rollo, pp. 14-15.

4 Rollo, p. 19.

5 Sec. 5, par. 2(d), Art. VIII of the 1987 Constitution.

6 Original Records, pp. 20 and 225.

7 Rollo, p. 14.

8 Ibid., p. 12.

9 Avila, Agrabio and Silvoza were members of the sparrow unit (or liquidating squad) of the NPA operating in
Tandag only. Commander Efren (Avila) was then the Team Leader of the group/unit, Commander Raymund
Agrabio was Assistant Team Leader, while Commander Boyet (Silvoza) was a member. (Original Records, pp.
225 and 252)

10 G.R. No. L-38538, 160 SCRA 116, April 15, 1988.

11 Executive Order No. 187 (5 June 1987) repeals Presidential Decree Nos. 38, 942, 970, 1735,
*1834*, 11a 1974 and 1996, and articles 142-A and 142-B of the Revised Penal Code. The said Order restores
to full force and effect Articles 135, 136, 137, 138, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 146, 147, 177, 178 and 179 of the
Revised Penal Code as they existed before the amendatory presidential decrees.

11a P.D. 1834 (dated 16 January 1981) had earlier amended Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code, when it
imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death for those found guilty of rebellion. The decree reads:

ART. 135. Penalty for rebellion or insurrection. — Any person who promotes, maintains, or heads a rebellion or
insurrection, or who, while holding any public office or employment takes part therein, engaging in war against
the forces of the Government, destroying property or committing serious violence, exacting contributions or
diverting public funds from the lawful purpose for which they have been appropriated, shall suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua to death.

Any person merely participating or executing the commands of others in a rebellion shall also suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua to death."

12 REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6968: AN ACT PUNISHING THE CRIME OF COUP D'ETAT BY AMENDING
ARTICLES 134, 135 AND 136 OF CHAPTER ONE, TITLE THREE OF ACT NUMBERED THIRTY-EIGHT
HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE REVISED PENAL CODE, AND FOR OTHER
PURPOSES

xxx xxx xxx

SECTION 1. The heading of Chapter One, Title Three of the Revised Penal Code is hereby amended to read
as follows: "REBELLION, COUP D'ETAT, SEDITION AND DISLOYALTY".
SECTION 2. Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

Article 134. Rebellion or insurrection. How committed. —

The crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the Government
for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of
the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, or depriving the Chief
Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.

xxx xxx xxx

SECTION 4. Article 135 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

Article 135. Penalty for rebellion, insurrection or coup d'etat. — Any person who promotes, maintains, or heads
a rebellion or insurrection shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

Any person merely participating or executing the commands of others in a rebellion or insurrection shall suffer
the penalty of reclusion temporal.

xxx xxx xxx

When the rebellion, insurrection, or coup d'etat shall be under the command of unknown leaders, any person
who in fact directed the others, spoke for them, signed receipts and other documents issued in their name, or
performed similar acts, on behalf of the rebels shall be deemed a leader of such rebellion, insurrection, or coup
d'etat.

13 Pursuant to Article 366 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that:

Application of laws enacted prior to this Code. — Without prejudice to the provisions contained in Article 22 of
this Code, felonies and misdemeanors, committed prior to the date of effectiveness of this Code shall be
punished in accordance with the Code or Acts in force at the time of their commission.

14 Article 22 reads:

Retroactive effect of penal laws. — Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the persons
guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code,
although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is
serving the same.

15 Article 64 of RPC reads:

Rates for the application of penalties which contain three periods. — In cases in which the penalties prescribed
by law contain three periods, whether if be a single divisible penalty or composed of three different penalties,
each one of which forms a period in accordance with the provisions of Articles 76 and 77, the court shall
observe for the application of the penalty the following rules, according to whether there are or are not
mitigating or aggravating circumstances:

1. When there are neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstances, they shall impose the penalty prescribed
by law in its medium period.

xxx xxx xxx

16 Article 76 of the RPC speaks of the legal period of duration of divisible penalties which shall be considered
as divided into three parts, forming three periods, the minimum, the medium, and the maximum, and provides
the table of the duration of the divisible penalties and the time included in each of their periods.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 17958 February 27, 1922

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
LOL-LO and SARAW, defendants-appellants.

Thos. D. Aitken for appellants.


Acting Attorney-General Tuason for appellee.

MALCOLM, J.:

The days when pirates roamed the seas, when picturesque buccaneers like Captain Avery and Captain Kidd
and Bartholomew Roberts gripped the imagination, when grostesque brutes like Blackbeard flourished, seem
far away in the pages of history and romance. Nevertheless, the record before us tells a tale of twentieth
century piracy in the south seas, but stripped of all touches of chivalry or of generosity, so as to present a
horrible case of rapine and near murder.

On or about June 30, 1920, two boats left matuta, a Dutch possession, for Peta, another Dutch possession. In
one of the boats was one individual, a Dutch subject, and in the other boat eleven men, women, and children,
likewise subjects of Holland. After a number of days of navigation, at about 7 o'clock in the evening, the
second boat arrived between the Islands of Buang and Bukid in the Dutch East Indies. There the boat was
surrounded by six vintas manned by twenty-four Moros all armed. The Moros first asked for food, but once on
the Dutch boat, too for themselves all of the cargo, attacked some of the men, and brutally violated two of the
women by methods too horrible to the described. All of the persons on the Dutch boat, with the exception of
the two young women, were again placed on it and holes were made in it, the idea that it would submerge,
although as a matter of fact, these people, after eleven days of hardship and privation, were succored violating
them, the Moros finally arrived at Maruro, a Dutch possession. Two of the Moro marauder were Lol-lo, who
also raped one of the women, and Saraw. At Maruro the two women were able to escape.

Lol-lo and Saraw later returned to their home in South Ubian, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Philippine Islands. There they
were arrested and were charged in the Court of First Instance of Sulu with the crime of piracy. A demurrer was
interposed by counsel de officio for the Moros, based on the grounds that the offense charged was not within
the jurisdiction of the Court of First Instance, nor of any court of the Philippine Islands, and that the facts did
not constitute a public offense, under the laws in force in the Philippine Islands. After the demurrer was
overruled by the trial judge, trial was had, and a judgment was rendered finding the two defendants guilty and
sentencing each of them to life imprisonment (cadena perpetua), to return together with Kinawalang and
Maulanis, defendants in another case, to the offended parties, the thirty-nine sacks of copras which had been
robbed, or to indemnify them in the amount of 924 rupees, and to pay a one-half part of the costs.

A very learned and exhaustive brief has been filed in this court by the attorney de officio. By a process of
elimination, however, certain questions can be quickly disposed of.

The proven facts are not disputed. All of the elements of the crime of piracy are present. Piracy is robbery or
forcible depredation on the high seas, without lawful authority and done animo furandi, and in the spirit and
intention of universal hostility.

It cannot be contended with any degree of force as was done in the lover court and as is again done in this
court, that the Court of First Instance was without jurisdiction of the case. Pirates are in law hostes humani
generis. Piracy is a crime not against any particular state but against all mankind. It may be punished in the
competent tribunal of any country where the offender may be found or into which he may be carried. The
jurisdiction of piracy unlike all other crimes has no territorial limits. As it is against all so may it be punished by
all. Nor does it matter that the crime was committed within the jurisdictional 3-mile limit of a foreign state, "for
those limits, though neutral to war, are not neutral to crimes." (U.S. vs. Furlong [1820], 5 Wheat., 184.)

The most serious question which is squarely presented to this court for decision for the first time is whether or
not the provisions of the Penal Code dealing with the crime of piracy are still in force. Article 153 to 156 of the
Penal Code reads as follows:

ART. 153. The crime of piracy committed against Spaniards, or the subjects of another nation not at
war with Spain, shall be punished with a penalty ranging from cadena temporal to cadena perpetua.

If the crime be committed against nonbelligerent subjects of another nation at war with Spain, it shall be
punished with the penalty of presidio mayor.

ART. 154. Those who commit the crimes referred to in the first paragraph of the next preceding article
shall suffer the penalty of cadena perpetua or death, and those who commit the crimes referred to in
the second paragraph of the same article, from cadena temporal to cadena perpetua:

1. Whenever they have seized some vessel by boarding or firing upon the same.

2. Whenever the crime is accompanied by murder, homicide, or by any of the physical injuries
specified in articles four hundred and fourteen and four hundred and fifteen and in paragraphs
one and two of article four hundred and sixteen.

3. Whenever it is accompanied by any of the offenses against chastity specified in Chapter II,
Title IX, of this book.

4. Whenever the pirates have abandoned any persons without means of saving themselves.

5. In every case, the captain or skipper of the pirates.

ART. 155. With respect to the provisions of this title, as well as all others of this code, when Spain is
mentioned it shall be understood as including any part of the national territory.

ART. 156. For the purpose of applying the provisions of this code, every person, who, according to the
Constitution of the Monarchy, has the status of a Spaniard shall be considered as such.

The general rules of public law recognized and acted on by the United States relating to the effect of a transfer
of territory from another State to the United States are well-known. The political law of the former sovereignty is
necessarily changed. The municipal law in so far as it is consistent with the Constitution, the laws of the United
States, or the characteristics and institutions of the government, remains in force. As a corollary to the main
rules, laws subsisting at the time of transfer, designed to secure good order and peace in the community,
which are strictly of a municipal character, continue until by direct action of the new government they are
altered or repealed. (Chicago, Rock Islands, etc., R. Co. vs. McGlinn [1885], 114 U.S., 542.)

These principles of the public law were given specific application to the Philippines by the Instructions of
President McKinley of May 19, 1898, to General Wesley Meritt, the Commanding General of the Army of
Occupation in the Philippines, when he said:

Though the powers of the military occupant are absolute and supreme, and immediately operate upon
the political condition of the inhabitants, the municipal laws of the conquered territory, such as affect
private rights of person and property, and provide for the punishment of crime, are considered as
continuing in force, so far as they are compatible with the new order of things, until they are suspended
or superseded by the occupying belligerent; and practice they are not usually abrogated, but are
allowed to remain in force, and to be administered by the ordinary tribunals, substantially as they were
before the occupations. This enlightened practice is so far as possible, to be adhered to on the present
occasion. (Official Gazette, Preliminary Number, Jan. 1, 1903, p. 1. See also General Merritt
Proclamation of August 14, 1898.)

It cannot admit of doubt that the articles of the Spanish Penal Code dealing with piracy were meant to include
the Philippine Islands. Article 156 of the Penal Code in relation to article 1 of the Constitution of the Spanish
Monarchy, would also make the provisions of the Code applicable not only to Spaniards but to Filipinos.

The opinion of Grotius was that piracy by the law of nations is the same thing as piracy by the civil law, and he
has never been disputed. The specific provisions of the Penal Code are similar in tenor to statutory provisions
elsewhere and to the concepts of the public law. This must necessarily be so, considering that the Penal Code
finds its inspiration in this respect in the Novelas, the Partidas, and the Novisima Recopilacion.

The Constitution of the United States declares that the Congress shall have the power to define and punish
piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations. (U.S. Const. Art. I,
sec. 8, cl. 10.) The Congress, in putting on the statute books the necessary ancillary legislation, provided that
whoever, on the high seas, commits the crime of piracy as defined by the law of nations, and is afterwards
brought into or found in the United States, shall be imprisoned for life. (U.S. Crim. Code, sec. 290; penalty
formerly death: U.S. Rev. Stat., sec. 5368.) The framers of the Constitution and the members of Congress
were content to let a definition of piracy rest on its universal conception under the law of nations.

It is evident that the provisions of the Penal Code now in force in the Philippines relating to piracy are not
inconsistent with the corresponding provisions in force in the United States.

By the Treaty of Paris, Spain ceded the Philippine Islands to the United States. A logical construction of articles
of the Penal Code, like the articles dealing with the crime of piracy, would be that wherever "Spain" is
mentioned, it should be substituted by the words "United States" and wherever "Spaniards" are mentioned, the
word should be substituted by the expression "citizens of the United States and citizens of the Philippine
Islands." somewhat similar reasoning led this court in the case of United States vs. Smith ([1919], 39 Phil.,
533) to give to the word "authority" as found in the Penal Code a limited meaning, which would no longer
comprehend all religious, military, and civil officers, but only public officers in the Government of the Philippine
Islands.

Under the construction above indicated, article 153 of the Penal Code would read as follows:

The crime of piracy committed against citizens of the United States and citizens of the Philippine
Islands, or the subjects of another nation not at war with the United States, shall be punished with a
penalty ranging from cadena temporal to cadena perpetua.

If the crime be committed against nonbelligerent subjects of another nation at war with the United
States, it shall be punished with the penalty of presidio mayor.

We hold those provisions of the Penal code dealing with the crime of piracy, notably articles 153 and 154, to be
still in force in the Philippines.

The crime falls under the first paragraph of article 153 of the Penal Code in relation to article 154. There are
present at least two of the circumstances named in the last cited article as authorizing either cadena
perpetua or death. The crime of piracy was accompanied by (1) an offense against chastity and (2) the
abandonment of persons without apparent means of saving themselves. It is, therefore, only necessary for us
to determine as to whether the penalty of cadena perpetua or death should be imposed. In this connection, the
trial court, finding present the one aggravating circumstance of nocturnity, and compensating the same by the
one mitigating circumstance of lack of instruction provided by article 11, as amended, of the Penal Code,
sentenced the accused to life imprisonment. At least three aggravating circumstances, that the wrong done in
the commission of the crime was deliberately augmented by causing other wrongs not necessary for its
commission, that advantage was taken of superior strength, and that means were employed which added
ignominy to the natural effects of the act, must also be taken into consideration in fixing the penalty.
Considering, therefore, the number and importance of the qualifying and aggravating circumstances here
present, which cannot be offset by the sole mitigating circumstance of lack of instruction, and the horrible
nature of the crime committed, it becomes our duty to impose capital punishment.

The vote upon the sentence is unanimous with regard to the propriety of the imposition of the death penalty
upon the defendant and appellant Lo-lo (the accused who raped on of the women), but is not unanimous with
regard to the court, Mr. Justice Romualdez, registers his nonconformity. In accordance with provisions of Act
No. 2726, it results, therefore, that the judgment of the trial court as to the defendant and appellant Saraw is
affirmed, and is reversed as to the defendant and appellant Lol-lo, who is found guilty of the crime of piracy
and is sentenced therefor to be hung until dead, at such time and place as shall be fixed by the judge of first
instance of the Twenty-sixth Judicial District. The two appellants together with Kinawalang and Maulanis,
defendants in another case, shall indemnify jointly and severally the offended parties in the equivalent of 924
rupees, and shall pay a one-half part of the costs of both instances. So ordered.

Araullo, C.J., Johnson, Avanceña, Villamor, Ostrand, Johns and Romualdez, JJ., concur.

 
[1]
Rollo, p. 1.
[2]
Decision penned by Judge Renato C. Dacudao, RTC-Br.14, Cebu, 26 May 1994.
[3]
To lie down.
[4]
A 3-bladed knife.
[5]
Rollo, p. 14.
[6]
TSN, 13 January 1994, pp. 5-6.

 
THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 111709. August 30, 2001]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROGER P. TULIN, VIRGILIO I. LOYOLA, CECILIO O.
CHANGCO, ANDRES C. INFANTE, CHEONG SAN HIONG, and JOHN DOES, accused-appellants.

DECISION
MELO, J.:

This is one of the older cases which unfortunately has remained in docket of the Court for sometime. It was
reassigned, together with other similar cases, to undersigned ponente in pursuance of A.M. No. 00-9-03-SC dated
February 27, 2001.
In the evening of March 2, 1991, M/T Tabangao, a cargo vessel owned by the PNOC Shipping and Transport
Corporation, loaded with 2,000 barrels of kerosene, 2,600 barrels of regular gasoline, and 40,000 barrels of diesel oil, with
a total value of P40,426,793,87. was sailing off the coast of Mindoro near Silonay Island.
The vessel, manned by 21 crew members, including Captain Edilberto Libo-on, Second Mate Christian Torralba, and
Operator Isaias Ervas, was suddenly boarded, with the use of an aluminum ladder, by seven fully armed pirates led by
Emilio Changco, older brother of accused-appellant Cecilio Changco. The pirates, including accused-appellants Tulin,
Loyola, and Infante, Jr. were armed with M-16 rifles, .45 and .38 caliber handguns, and bolos. They detained the crew and
took complete control of the vessel. Thereafter, accused-appellant Loyola ordered three crew members to paint over, using
black paint, the name "M/T Tabangao" on the front and rear portions of the vessel, as well as the PNOC logo on the
chimney of the vessel. The vessel was then painted with the name "Galilee," with registry at San Lorenzo, Honduras. The
crew was forced to sail to Singapore, all the while sending misleading radio messages to PNOC that the ship was
undergoing repairs.
PNOC, after losing radio contact with the vessel, reported the disappearance of the vessel to the Philippine Coast
Guard and secured the assistance of the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy. However, search and rescue
operations yielded negative results. On March 9, 1991, the ship arrived in the vicinity of Singapore and cruised around the
area presumably to await another vessel which, however, failed to arrive. The pirates were thus forced to return to the
Philippines on March 14, 1991, arriving at Calatagan, Batangas on March 20, 1991 where it remained at sea.
On March 28, 1991, the "M/T Tabangao" again sailed to and anchored about 10 to 18 nautical miles from Singapore's
shoreline where another vessel called "Navi Pride" anchored beside it. Emilio Changco ordered the crew of "M/T
Tabangao" to transfer the vessel's cargo to the hold of "Navi Pride". Accused-appellant Cheong San Hiong supervised the
crew of "Navi Pride" in receiving the cargo. The transfer, after an interruption, with both vessels leaving the area, was
completed on March 30,1991.
On March 30, 1991, "M/T Tabangao" returned to the same area and completed the transfer of cargo to "Navi Pride."
On April 8, 1991, "M/T Tabangao" arrived at Calatagan, Batangas, but the vessel remained at sea. On April 10, 1991,
the members of the crew were released in three batches with the stern warning not to report the incident to government
authorities for a period of two days or until April 12, 1991, otherwise they would be killed. The first batch was fetched
from the shoreline by a newly painted passenger jeep driven by accused-appellant Cecilio Changco, brother of Emilio
Changco, who brought them to Imus, Cavite and gave P20,000.00 to Captain Libo-on for fare of the crew in proceeding to
their respective homes. The second batch was fetched by accused-appellant Changco at midnight of April 10, 1991 and
were brought to different places in Metro Manila.
On April 12, 1991, the Chief Engineer, accompanied by the members of the crew, called the PNOC Shipping and
Transport Corporation office to report the incident. The crew members were brought to the Coast Guard Office for
investigation. The incident was also reported to the National Bureau of Investigation where the officers and members of
the crew executed sworn statements regarding the incident.
A series of arrests was thereafter effected as follows:
a. On May 19, 1991, the NBI received verified information that the pirates were present at U.K. Beach, Balibago,
Calatagan, Batangas. After three days of surveillance, accused-appellant Tulin was arrested and brought to the NBI
headquarters in Manila.
b. Accused-appellants Infante, Jr. and Loyola were arrested by chance at Aguinaldo Hi-way by NBI agents as the
latter were pursuing the mastermind, who managed to evade arrest.
c. On May 20, 1991, accused-appellants Hiong and Changco were arrested at the lobby of Alpha Hotel in Batangas
City.
On October 24 1991, an Information charging qualified piracy or violation of Presidential Decree No. 532 (piracy in
Philippine Waters) was filed against accused-appellants, as follows:

The undersigned State Prosecutor accuses ROGER P. TULIN, VIRGILIO I. LOYOLA, CECILIO O. CHANGCO,
ANDRES C. INFANTE, and CHEONG SAN HIONG, and nine (9) other JOHN DOES of qualified piracy (Violation of
P.D. No. 532), committed as follows:

That on or about and during the period from March 2 to April 10, 1991, both dates inclusive, and for sometime prior and
subsequent thereto, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, then manning a motor launch
and armed with high powered guns, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping one another, did then and
there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously fire upon, board and seize while in the Philippine waters M/T PNOC
TABANGCO loaded with petroleum products, together with the complement and crew members, employing violence
against or intimidation of persons or force upon things, then direct the vessel to proceed to Singapore where the cargoes
were unloaded and thereafter returned to the Philippines on April 10, 1991, in violation of the aforesaid law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

(pp. 119-20, Rollo.)

This was docketed as Criminal Case No. 91-94896 before Branch 49 of the Regional Trial Court of the National
Capital Judicial Region stationed in Manila. Upon arraignment, accused-appellants pleaded not guilty to the charge. Trial
thereupon ensued.
Accused-appellants Tulin, Infante, Jr., and Loyola, notwithstanding some inconsistencies in their testimony as to
where they were on March 1, 1991, maintained the defense of denial, and disputed the charge, as well as the transfer of
any cargo from "M/T Tabangao" to the "Navi Pride." All of them claimed having their own respective sources of
livelihood. Their story is to the effect that on March 2, 1991, while they were conversing by the beach, a red speedboat
with Captain Edilberto Liboon and Second Mate Christian Torralba on board, approached the seashore. Captain Liboon
inquired from the three if they wanted to work in a vessel. They were told that the work was light and that each worker
was to be paid P3,000.00 a month with additional compensation if they worked beyond that period. They agreed even
though they had no sea-going experience. On board, they cooked, cleaned the vessel, prepared coffee, and ran errands for
the officers. They denied having gone to Singapore, claiming that the vessel only went to Batangas. Upon arrival thereat
in the morning of March 21, 1991, they were paid P1,000.00 each as salary for nineteen days of work, and were told that
the balance would be remitted to their addresses. There was neither receipt nor contracts of employment signed by the
parties.
Accused-appellant Changco categorically denied the charge, averring that he was at home sleeping on April 10, 1991.
He testified that he is the younger brother of Emilio Changco, Jr.
Accused-appellant Cheong San Hiong, also known as Ramzan Ali, adduced evidence that he studied in Sydney,
Australia, obtaining the "Certificate" as Chief Officer, and later completed the course as a "Master" of a vessel, working
as such for two years on board a vessel. He was employed at Navi Marine Services, Pte., Ltd. as Port Captain. The
company was engaged in the business of trading petroleum, including shipoil, bunker lube oil, and petroleum to domestic
and international markets. It owned four vessels, one of which was "Navi Pride."
On March 2, 1991, the day before "M/T Tabangao" was seized by Emilio Changco and his cohorts, Hiong's name
was listed in the company's letter to the Mercantile Section of the Maritime Department of the Singapore government as
the radio telephone operator on board the vessel "Ching Ma."
The company was then dealing for the first time with Paul Gan, a Singaporean broker, who offered to sell to the
former bunker oil for the amount of 300,000.00 Singapore dollars. After the company paid over one-half of the aforesaid
amount to Paul Gan, the latter, together with Joseph Ng, Operations Superintendent of the firm, proceeded to the high seas
on board "Navi Pride" but failed to locate the contact vessel.
The transaction with Paul Gan finally pushed through on March 27, 1991. Hiong, upon his return on board the vessel
"Ching Ma," was assigned to supervise a ship-to-ship transfer of diesel oil off the port of Singapore, the contact vessel to
be designated by Paul Gan. Hiong was ordered to ascertain the quantity and quality of the oil and was given the amount of
300,000.00 Singapore Dollars for the purchase. Hiong, together with Paul Gan, and the surveyor William Yao, on board
"Navi Pride" sailed toward a vessel called "M/T Galilee". Hiong was told that "M/T Galilee" would be making the transfer.
Although no inspection of "Navi Pride" was made by the port authorities before departure, Navi Marine Services, Pte., Ltd.
was able to procure a port clearance upon submission of General Declaration and crew list. Hiong, Paul Gan, and the
brokers were not in the crew list submitted and did not pass through the immigration. The General Declaration falsely
reflected that the vessel carried 11,900 tons.
On March 28, 1991, "Navi Pride" reached the location of "M/T Galilee". The brokers then told the Captain of the
vessel to ship-side with "M/T Galilee" and then transfer of the oil transpired. Hiong and the surveyor William Yao met the
Captain of "M/T Galilee," called "Captain Bobby" (who later turned out to be Emilio Changco). Hiong claimed that he did
not ask for the full name of Changco nor did he ask for the latter's personal card.
Upon completion of the transfer, Hiong took the soundings of the tanks in the "Navi Pride" and took samples of the
cargo. The surveyor prepared the survey report which "Captain Bobby" signed under the name "Roberto Castillo." Hiong
then handed the payment to Paul Gan and William Yao. Upon arrival at Singapore in the morning of March 29, 1991,
Hiong reported the quantity and quality of the cargo to the company.
Thereafter, Hiong was again asked to supervise another transfer of oil purchased by the firm " from "M/T Galilee" to
"Navi Pride." The same procedure as in the first transfer was observed. This time, Hiong was told that that there were food
and drinks, including beer, purchased by the company for the crew of "M/T Galilee. The transfer took ten hours and was
completed on March 30, 1991. Paul Gan was paid in full for the transfer.
On April 29 or 30, 1991, Emilio Changco intimated to Hiong that he had four vessels and wanted to offer its cargo to
cargo operators. Hiong was asked to act as a broker or ship agent for the sale of the cargo in Singapore. Hiong went to the
Philippines to discuss the matter with Emilio Changco, who laid out the details of the new transfer, this time with "M/T
Polaris" as contact vessel. Hiong was told that the vessel was scheduled to arrive at the port of Batangas that weekend.
After being billeted at Alpha Hotel in Batangas City, where Hiong checked in under the name "SONNY CSH." A person
by the name of "KEVIN OCAMPO," who later turned out to be Emilio Changco himself, also checked in at Alpha Hotel.
From accused-appellant Cecilio Changco, Hiong found out that the vessel was not arriving. Hiong was thereafter arrested
by NBI agents.
After trial, a 95-page decision was rendered convicting accused-appellants of the crime charged. The dispositive
portion of said decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing considerations, judgment is hereby rendered by this Court finding the accused
Roger Tulin, Virgilio Loyola, Andres Infante, Jr. and Cecilio Changco guilty beyond reasonable doubt, as principals, of
the crime of piracy in Philippine Waters defined in Section 2(d) of Presidential Decree No. 532 and the accused Cheong
San Hiong, as accomplice, to said crime. Under Section 3(a) of the said law, the penalty for the principals of said crime is
mandatory death. However, considering that, under the 1987 Constitution, the Court cannot impose the death penalty, the
accused Roger Tulin, Virgilio Loyola, Andres Infante, ]r., and Cecilio Changco are hereby each meted the penalty of
RECLUSION PERPETUA, with all the accessory penalties of the law. The accused Cheong San Hiong is hereby meted
the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, pursuant to Article 52 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 5 of PD
532. The accused Roger Tulin, Virgilio Loyola, Andres Infante, Jr. and Cecilio Changco are hereby ordered to return to
the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation the "M/T Tabangao" or if the accused can no longer return the same, the
said accused are hereby ordered to remit, jointly and severally, to said corporation the value thereof in the amount of
P11,240,000.00 Philippine Currency, with interests thereon, at the rate of 6% per annum from March 2, 1991 until the said
amount is paid in full. All the accused including Cheong San Hiong are hereby ordered to return to the Caltex Philippines,
Inc. the cargo of the "M/T Tabangao", or if the accused can no longer return the said cargo to said corporation, all the
accused are hereby condemned to pay, jointly and severally, to the Caltex Refinery, Inc., the value of said cargo in the
amount of P40,426,793.87, Philippine Currency plus interests until said amount is paid in full. After the accused Cheong
San Hiong has served his sentence, he shall be deported to Singapore.

All the accused shall be credited for the full period of their detention at the National Bureau of Investigation and the City
Jail of Manila during the pendency of this case provided that they agreed in writing to abide by and comply strictly with
the rules and regulations of the City Jail of Manila and the National Bureau of Investigation. With costs against all the
accused.

SO ORDERED.

(pp. 149-150, Rollo.)

The matter was then elevated to this Court. The arguments of accused-appellants may be summarized as follows:

Roger P. Tulin Virgilio Loyola Andres C. Infante Jr., and Cecilio O. Changco

Accused-appellants Tulin, Loyola, Infante, Jr., and Cecilio Changco assert that the trial court erred in allowing them
to adopt the proceedings taken during the time they were being represented by Mr. Tomas Posadas, a non-lawyer, thereby
depriving them of their constitutional right to procedural due process.
In this regard, said accused-appellants narrate that Mr. Posadas entered his appearance as counsel for all of them.
However, in the course of the proceedings, or on February 11, 1992, the trial court discovered that Mr. Posadas was not a
member of the Philippine Bar. This was after Mr. Posadas had presented and examined seven witnesses for the accused.
Further, accused-appellants Tulin, Loyola, Infante, Cecilio, Changco uniformly contend that during the custodial
investigation, they were subjected to physical violence; were forced to sign statements without being given the
opportunity to read the contents of the same; were denied assistance of counsel, and were not informed of their rights, in
violation of their constitutional rights,
Said accused-appellants also argue that the trial court erred in finding that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable
doubt that they committed the crime of qualified piracy. They allege that the pirates were outnumbered by the crew who
totaled 22 and who were not guarded at all times. The crew, so these accused-appellants conclude, could have
overpowered the alleged pirates.

Cheong San Hiong

In his brief, Cheong argues that: (1) Republic Act No. 7659 in effect obliterated the crime committed by him; (2) the
trial court erred in declaring that the burden is lodged on him to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he had no
knowledge that Emilio Changco and his cohorts attacked and seized the "M/T Tabangao" and/or that the cargo of the
vessel was stolen or the subject of theft or robbery or piracy; (3) the trial court erred in finding him guilty as an
accomplice to the crime of qualified piracy under Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 532 (Anti-Piracy and Anti-
Robbery Law of 1974); (4) the trial court erred in convicting and punishing him as an accomplice when the acts allegedly
committed by him were done or executed outside of Philippine waters and territory, stripping the Philippine courts of
jurisdiction to hold him for trial, to convict, and sentence; (5) the trial court erred in making factual conclusions without
evidence on record to prove the same and which in fact are contrary to the evidence adduced during trial; (6) the trial court
erred in convicting him as an accomplice under Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 532 when he was charged as a
principal by direct participation under said decree, thus violating his constitutional right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him.
Cheong also posits that the evidence against the other accused-appellants do not prove any participation on his part in
the commission of the crime of qualified piracy. He further argues that he had not in any way participated in the
seajacking of "M/T Tabangao" and in committing the crime of qualified piracy, and that he was not aware that the vessel
and its cargo were pirated.
As legal basis for his appeal, he explains that he was charged under the information with qualified piracy as principal
under Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 532 which refers to Philippine waters. In the case at bar, he argues that he was
convicted for acts done outside Philippine waters or territory. For the State to have criminal jurisdiction, the act must have
been committed within its territory.
We affirm the conviction of all the accused-appellants.
The issues of the instant case may be summarized as follows: (1) what are the legal effects and implications of the
fact that a non-lawyer represented accused-appellants during the trial?; (2) what are the legal effects and implications of
the absence of counsel during the custodial investigation?; (3) did the trial court err in finding that the prosecution was
able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that accused-appellants committed the crime of qualified piracy?; (4) did Republic
Act No. 7659 obliterate the crime committed by accused-appellant Cheong?; and (5) can accused-appellant Cheong be
convicted as accomplice when he was not charged as such and when the acts allegedly committed by him were done or
executed outside Philippine waters and territory?
On the first issue, the record reveals that a manifestation (Exhibit "20", Record) was executed by accused-appellants
Tulin, Loyola, Changco, and Infante, Jr. on February 11, 1991, stating that they were adopting the evidence adduced when
they were represented by a non-lawyer. Such waiver of the right to sufficient representation during the trial as covered by
the due process clause shall only be valid if made with the full assistance of a bona fide lawyer. During the trial, accused-
appellants, as represented by Atty. Abdul Basar, made a categorical manifestation that said accused-appellants were
apprised of the nature and legal consequences of the subject manifestation, and that they voluntarily and intelligently
executed the same. They also affirmed the truthfulness of its contents when asked in open court (tsn, February 11, 1992,
pp. 7-59). It is true that an accused person shall be entitled to be present and to defend himself in person and by counsel at
every stage of the proceedings, from arraignment to promulgation of judgment (Section 1, Rule 115, Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure). This is hinged on the fact that a layman is not versed on the technicalities of trial. However, it is also
provided by law that "[r]ights may be waived, unless the waiver is contrary to law, public order, public policy, morals, or
good customs or prejudicial to a third person with right recognized by law." (Article 6, Civil Code of the Philippines).
Thus, the same section of Rule 115 adds that "[u]pon motion, the accused may be allowed to defend himself in person
when it sufficiently appears to the court that he can properly protect his rights without the assistance of counsel." By
analogy , but without prejudice to the sanctions imposed by law for the illegal practice of law, it is amply shown that the
rights of accused-appellants were sufficiently and properly protected by the appearance of Mr. Tomas Posadas. An
examination of the record will show that he knew the technical rules of procedure. Hence, we rule that there was a valid
waiver of the right to sufficient representation during the trial, considering that it was unequivocally, knowingly, and
intelligently made and with the full assistance of a bona fide lawyer, Atty. Abdul Basar. Accordingly, denial of due
process cannot be successfully invoked where a valid waiver of rights has been made (People vs. Serzo, 274 SCRA 553
[1997]; Sayson vs. People, 166 SCRA 680 [1988]).
However, we must quickly add that the right to counsel during custodial investigation may not be waived except in
writing and in the presence of counsel.
Section 12, Article III of the Constitution reads:

SEC. 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his
right to remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot
afford the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights cannot be waived except in writing and in the
presence of counsel.

(2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against
him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.

(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of this or Section 17 hereof shall be inadmissible in evidence
against him.

(4) The law shall provide for penal and civil sanctions for violations of this section as well as compensation to and
rehabilitation of victims of torture or similar practices, and their families.
Such rights originated from Miranda v. Arizona (384 U. S. 436 [1966]) which gave birth to the so-called Miranda
doctrine which is to the effect that prior to any questioning during custodial investigation, the person must be warned that
he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he gives may be used as evidence against him, and that he has the right
to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed. The defendant may waive effectuation of these rights,
provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. The Constitution even adds the more stringent
requirement that the waiver must be in writing and made in the presence of counsel.
Saliently, the absence of counsel during the execution of the so-called confessions of the accused-appellants make
them invalid. In fact, the very basic reading of the Miranda rights was not even shown in the case at bar. Paragraph [3] of
the aforestated Section 12 sets forth the so-called "fruit from the poisonous tree doctrine," a phrase minted by Mr. Justice
Felix Frankfurter in the celebrated case of Nardone vs. United States (308 U.S. 388 [1939]). According to this rule, once
the primary source (the "tree") is shown to have been unlawfully obtained, any secondary or derivative evidence (the
"fruit") derived from it is also inadmissible. The rule is based on the principle that evidence illegally obtained by the State
should not be used to gain other evidence because the originally illegally obtained evidence taints all evidence
subsequently obtained (People vs. Alicando, 251 SCRA 293 [1995]). Thus, in this case, the uncounselled extrajudicial
confessions of accused-appellants, without a valid waiver of the right to counsel, are inadmissible and whatever
information is derived therefrom shall be regarded as likewise inadmissible in evidence against them.
However, regardless of the inadmissibility of the subject confessions, there is sufficient evidence to convict accused-
appellants with moral certainty. We agree with the sound deduction of the trial court that indeed, Emilio Changco
(Exhibits "U" and "UU") and accused-appellants Tulin, Loyola, .and Infante, Jr. did conspire and confederate to commit
the crime charged. In the words of then trial judge, now Justice Romeo J. Callejo of the Court of Appeals -

...The Prosecution presented to the Court an array of witnesses, officers and members of the crew of the "M/T Tabangao"
no less, who identified and pointed to the said Accused as among those who attacked and seized, the "M/T Tabangao" on
March 2, 1991, at about 6:30 o'clock in the afternoon, off Lubang Island, Mindoro, with its cargo, and brought the said
vessel, with its cargo, and the officers and crew of the vessel, in the vicinity of Horsebough Lighthouse, about sixty-six
nautical miles off the shoreline of Singapore and sold its cargo to the Accused Cheong San Hiong upon which the cargo
was discharged from the "M/T Tabangao" to the "Navi Pride" for the price of about $500,000.00 (American Dollars) on
March 29, and 30, 1991...

xxx

xxx

xxx

The Master, the officers and members of the crew of the "M/T Tabangao" were on board the vessel with the Accused and
their cohorts from March 2, 1991 up to April 10, 1991 or for more than one (1) month. There can be no scintilla of doubt
in the mind of the Court that the officers and crew of the vessel could and did see and identify the seajackers and their
leader. In fact, immediately after the Accused were taken into custody by the operatives of the National Bureau of
Investigation, Benjamin Suyo, Norberto Senosa, Christian Torralba and Isaias Wervas executed their "Joint Affidavit"
(Exhibit "B") and pointed to and identified the said Accused as some of the pirates.

xxx

xxx

xxx

Indeed, when they testified before this Court on their defense, the three (3) Accused admitted to the Court that they, in
fact, boarded the said vessel in the evening of March 2 1991 and remained on board when the vessel sailed to its,
destination, which turned out to be off the port of Singapore.

(pp. 106-112, Rollo.)


We also agree with the trial court's finding that accused-appellants' defense of denial is not supported by any hard
evidence but their bare testimony. Greater weight is given to the categorical identification of the accused by the
prosecution witnesses than to the accused's plain denial of participation in the commission of the crime (People v. Baccay,
284 SCRA 296 [1998]). Instead, accused-appellants Tulin, Loyola, and Infante, Jr. narrated a patently desperate tale that
they were hired by three complete strangers (allegedly Captain Edilberto Liboon, Second Mate Christian Torralba, and
their companion) while said accused-appellants were conversing with one another along the seashore at Apkaya, Balibago,
Calatagan, Batangas, to work on board the "M/T Tabangao" which was then anchored off-shore. And readily, said
accused-appellants agreed to work as cooks and handymen for an indefinite period of time without even saying goodbye
to their families, without even knowing their destination or the details of their voyage, without the personal effects needed
for a long voyage at sea. Such evidence is incredible and clearly not in accord with human experience. As pointed out by
the trial court, it is incredible that Captain Liboon, Second Mate Torralba, and their companion "had to leave the vessel at
9:30 o'clock in the evening and venture in a completely unfamiliar place merely to recruit five (5) cooks or handymen (p.
113, Rollo)."
Anent accused-appellant Changco's defense of denial with the alibi that on May 14 and 17, he was at his place of
work and that on April 10, 1991, he was in his house in Bacoor, Cavite, sleeping, suffice it to state that alibi is
fundamentally and inherently a weak defense, much more so when uncorroborated by other witnesses (People v. Adora,
275 SCRA 441 [1997]) considering that it is easy to fabricate and concoct, and difficult to disprove. Accused-appellant
must adduce clear and convincing evidence that, at about midnight on April 10, 1991, it was physically impossible for
him to have been in Calatagan, Batangas. Changco not only failed to do this, he was likewise unable to prove that he was
in his place of work on the dates aforestated.
It is doctrinal that the trial court's evaluation of the credibility of a testimony is accorded the highest respect, for trial
courts have an untrammeled opportunity to observe directly the demeanor of witnesses and, thus, to determine whether a
certain witness is telling the truth (People v. Obello, 284 SCRA 79 [1998]).
We likewise uphold the trial court's finding of conspiracy. A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an
agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it (Article 8, Revised Penal Code). To be a
conspirator, one need not participate in every detail of execution; he need not even take part in every act or need not even
know the exact part to be performed by the others in the execution of the conspiracy. As noted by the trial court, there are
times when conspirators are assigned separate and different tasks which may appear unrelated to one another, but in fact,
constitute a whole and collective effort to achieve a common criminal design.
We affirm the trial court's finding that Emilio Changco, accused- appellants Tulin, Loyola, and Infante, Jr. and others,
were the ones assigned to attack and seize the "M/T Tabangao" off Lubang, Mindoro, while accused-appellant Cecilio
Changco was to fetch the master and the members of the crew from the shoreline of Calatagan, Batangas after the transfer,
and bring them to Imus, Cavite, and to provide the crew and the officers of the vessel with money for their fare and food
provisions on their way home. These acts had to be well-coordinated. Accused-appellant Cecilio Changco need not be
present at the time of the attack and seizure of "M/T Tabangao" since he performed his task in view of an objective
common to all other accused- appellants.
Of notable importance is the connection of accused-appellants to one another. Accused-appellant Cecilio Changco is
the younger brother of Emilio Changco (aka Captain Bobby/Captain Roberto Castillo/Kevin Ocampo), owner of Phil-Asia
Shipping Lines. Cecilio worked for his brother in said corporation. Their residences are approximately six or seven
kilometers away from each other. Their families are close. Accused-appellant Tulin, on the other hand, has known Cecilio
since their parents were neighbors in Aplaya, Balibago, Calatagan, Batangas. Accused-appellant Loyola's wife is a relative
of the Changco brothers by affinity .Besides, Loyola and Emilio Changco had both been accused in a seajacking case
regarding "M/T Isla Luzon" and its cargo of steel coils and plates off Cebu and Bohol in 1989. Emilio Changco (aka
Kevin Ocampo) was convicted of the crime while Loyola at that time remained at large.
As for accused-appellant Hiong, he ratiocinates that he can no longer be convicted of piracy in Philippine waters as
defined and penalized in Sections 2[d] and 3[a], respectively of Presidential Decree No. 532 because Republic Act No.
7659 (effective January 1, 1994) which amended Article 122 of the Revised Penal Code, has impliedly superseded
Presidential Decree No. 532. He reasons out that Presidential Decree No. 532 has been rendered "superfluous or
duplicitous" because both Article 122 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and Presidential Decree No. 532 punish
piracy committed in Philippine waters. He maintains that in order to reconcile the two laws, the word "any person"
mentioned in Section 1 [d] of Presidential Decree No. 532 must be omitted such that Presidential Decree No. 532 shall
only apply to offenders who are members of the complement or to passengers of the vessel, whereas Republic Act No.
7659 shall apply to offenders who are neither members of the complement or passengers of the vessel, hence, excluding
him from the coverage of the law.
Article 122 of the Revised Penal Code, used to provide:

Article 122. Piracy in general and mutiny on the high seas. -The penalty of reclusion temporal shall be inflicted upon any
person who, on the high seas, shall attack or seize a vessel or, not being a member of its complement nor a passenger,
shall seize the whole or part of the cargo of said vessel, its equipment, or personal belongings of its complement or
passengers.

(Underscoring supplied.)

Article 122, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659 January 1, 1994), reads:

Article 122. Piracy in general and mutiny on the high seas or in Philippine waters. -The penalty of reclusion perpetua shall
be inflicted upon any person who, on the high seas, or in Philippine waters, shall attack or seize a vessel or, being
a member of its complement nor a passenger, shall seize the whole or part of the cargo of said vessel, its equipment, or
personal belongings of its complement or passengers.

(Underscoring ours)

On the other hand, Section 2 of Presidential Decree No. 532 provides:

SEC. 2. Definition of Terms. - The following shall mean and be understood, as follows:

d. Piracy. -Any attack upon or seizure of any vessel, or the taking away of the whole or part thereof or its cargo,
equipment, or the personal belongings of its complement or passengers, irrespective of the value thereof, by means of
violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things, committed by any person. including a passenger or
member of the complement of said vessel in Philippine waters, shall be considered as piracy. The offenders shall be
considered as pirates and punished as hereinafter provided (underscoring supplied).

To summarize, Article 122 of the Revised Penal Code, before its amendment, provided that piracy must be
committed on the high seas by any person not a member of its complement nor a passenger thereof. Upon its amendment
by Republic Act No. 7659, the coverage of the pertinent provision was widened to include offenses committed "in
Philippine waters." On the other hand, under Presidential Decree No. 532 (issued in 1974), the coverage of the law on
piracy embraces any person including "a passenger or member of the complement of said vessel in Philippine waters."
Hence, passenger or not, a member of the complement or not, any person is covered by the law.
Republic Act No. 7659 neither superseded nor amended the provisions on piracy under Presidential Decree No. 532.
There is no contradiction between the two laws. There is likewise no ambiguity and hence, there is no need to construe or
interpret the law. All the presidential decree did was to widen the coverage of the law, in keeping with the intent to protect
the citizenry as well as neighboring states from crimes against the law of nations. As expressed in one of the "whereas"
clauses of Presidential Decree No. 532, piracy is "among the highest forms of lawlessness condemned by the penal
statutes of all countries." For this reason, piracy under the Article 122, as amended, and piracy under Presidential Decree
No. 532 exist harmoniously as separate laws.
As regards the contention that the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of accused-appellant Hiong
since the crime was committed outside Philippine waters, suffice it to state that unquestionably, the attack on and seizure
of "M/T Tabangao" (renamed "M/T Galilee" by the pirates) and its cargo were committed in Philippine waters, although
the captive vessel was later brought by the pirates to Singapore where its cargo was off-loaded, transferred, and sold. And
such transfer was done under accused-appellant Hiong's direct supervision. Although Presidential Decree No. 532 requires
that the attack and seizure of the vessel and its cargo be committed in Philippine waters, the disposition by the pirates of
the vessel and its cargo is still deemed part of the act of piracy, hence, the same need not be committed in Philippine
waters.
Moreover, piracy falls under Title One of Book Two of the Revised Penal Code. As such, it is an exception to the
rule on territoriality in criminal law. The same principle applies even if Hiong, in the instant case, were charged, not with
a violation of qualified piracy under the penal code but under a special law, Presidential Decree No. 532 which penalizes
piracy in Philippine waters. Verily, Presidential Decree No. 532 should be applied with more force here since its purpose
is precisely to discourage and prevent piracy in Philippine waters (People v. Catantan, 278 SCRA 761 [1997]). It is
likewise, well-settled that regardless of the law penalizing the same, piracy is a reprehensible crime against the whole
world (People v. Lol-lo, 43 Phil. 19 [1922]).
However, does this constitute a violation of accused-appellant's constitutional right to be informed of the nature and
cause of the accusation against him on the ground that he was convicted as an accomplice under Section 4 of Presidential
Decree No. 532 even though he was charged as a principal by direct participation under Section 2 of said law?
The trial court found that there was insufficiency of evidence showing:
(a) that accused-appellant Hiong directly participated in the attack and seizure of "M/T Tabangao" and its cargo; (b)
that he induced Emilio Changco and his group in the attack and seizure of "M/T Tabangao" and its cargo; ( c) and that his
act was indispensable in the attack on and seizure of "M/T Tabangao" and its cargo. Nevertheless, the trial court found
that accused-appellant Hiong's participation was indisputably one which aided or abetted Emilio Changco and his band of
pirates in the disposition of the stolen cargo under Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 532 which provides:

SEC. 4. Aiding pirates or highway robbers/brigands or abetting piracy or highway robbery brigandage. -Any person who
knowingly and in any manner aids or protects pirates or highway robbers/brigands, such as giving them information about
the movement of police or other peace officers of the government, or acquires or receives property taken by such pirates
or brigands or in any manner derives any benefit therefrom; or any person who directly or indirectly abets the commission
of piracy or highway robbery or brigandage, shall be considered as an accomplice of the principal officers and be
punished in accordance with Rules prescribed by the Revised Penal Code.

It shall be presumed that any person who does any of the acts provided in this Section has performed them knowingly,
unless the contrary is proven.

The ruling of the trial court is Within well-settle jurisprudence that if there is lack of complete evidence of conspiracy,
the liability is that of an accomplice and not as principal (People v. Tolentino, 40 SCRA 514 [1971]). Any doubt as to the
participation of an individual in the commission of the crime is always resolved in favor of lesser responsibility (People v.
Corbes, 270 SCRA 465 [1997]; People vs. Elfano, Jr., 125 SCRA 792 [1983]; People v. Pastores, 40 SCRA 498 [1971]).
Emphasis must also be placed on the last paragraph of Section 4 of Presidential Decree No 532 which presumes that
any person who does any of the acts provided in said section has performed them knowingly, unless the contrary is proven.
In the case at bar, accused-appellant Hiong had failed to overcome the legal presumption that he knowingly abetted or
aided in the commission of piracy, received property taken by such pirates and derived benefit therefrom.
The record discloses that accused-appellant Hiong aided the pirates in disposing of the stolen cargo by personally
directing its transfer from "M/T Galilee" to "M/T Navi Pride". He profited therefrom by buying the hijacked cargo for
Navi Marine Services, Pte., Ltd. (tsn, June 3, 1992, pp. 15-23). He even tested the quality and verified the quantity of the
petroleum products, connived with Navi Marine Services personnel in falsifying the General Declarations and Crew List
to ensure that the illegal transfer went through, undetected by Singapore Port Authorities, and supplied the pirates with
food, beer, and other provisions for their maintenance while in port (tsn, June 3, 1992, pp. 133-134).
We believe that the falsification of the General Declaration (Arrival and Departure) and Crew List was accomplished
and utilized by accused-appellant Hiong and Navi Marine Services personnel in the execution of their scheme to avert
detection by Singapore Port Authorities. Hence, had accused-appellant Hiong not falsified said entries, the Singapore Port
Authorities could have easily discovered the illegal activities that took place and this would have resulted in his arrest and
prosecution in Singapore. Moreover, the transfer of the stolen cargo from "M/T Galilee" to "Navi Pride" could not have
been effected.
We completely uphold the factual findings of the trial court showing in detail accused-appellant Hiong's role in the
disposition of the pirated goods summarized as follows: that on March 27, 1991, Hiong with Captain Biddy Santos
boarded the "Navi Pride," one of the vessels of the Navi Marine, to rendezvous with the "M/T Galilee"; that the firm
submitted the crew list of the vessel (Exhibit "8-CSH", Record) to the port authorities, excluding the name of Hiong; that
the "General Declaration" (for departure) of the "Navi Pride" for its voyage off port of Singapore (Exhibits "HH" and "8-
A CSH", Record) falsely stated that the vessel was scheduled to depart at 2200 (10 o'clock in the evening), that there were
no passengers on board, and the purpose of the voyage was for "cargo operation" and that the vessel was to unload and
transfer 1,900 tons of cargo; that after the transfer of the fuel from "M/T Galilee" with' Emilio Changco a. k. a. Captain
Bobby a. k. a. Roberto Castillo at the helm, the surveyor prepared the "Quantity Certificate" (Exhibit "11-C CSH, Record)
stating that the cargo transferred to the "Navi Pride" was 2,406 gross cubic meters; that although Hiong was not the
Master of the vessel, he affixed his signature on the "Certificate" above the word "Master" (Exhibit "11-C-2 CSH",
Record); that he then paid $150,000.00 but did not require any receipt for the amount; that Emilio Changco also did not
issue one; and that in the requisite "General Declaration" upon its arrival at Singapore on March 29, 1991, at 7 o'clock in
the evening, (Exhibits "JJ" and "13-A CSH", Record), it was made to falsely appear that the "Navi Pride" unloaded 1,700
tons of cargo on the high seas during said voyage when in fact it acquired from the "M/T Galilee" 2,000 metric tons of
diesel oil. The second transfer transpired with the same irregularities as discussed above. It was likewise supervised by
accused- appellant Cheong from his end while Emilio Changco supervised the transfer from his end.
Accused-appellant Hiong maintains that he was merely following the orders of his superiors and that he has no
knowledge of the illegality of the source of the cargo.
First and foremost, accused-appellant Hiong cannot deny knowledge of the source and nature of the cargo since he
himself received the same from "M/T Tabangao". Second, considering that he is a highly educated mariner, he should
have avoided any participation in the cargo transfer given the very suspicious circumstances under which it was
acquired. He failed to show a single piece of deed or bill of sale or even a purchase order or any contract of sale for the
purchase by the firm; he never bothered to ask for and scrutinize the papers and documentation relative to the "M/T
Galilee"; he did not even verify the identity of Captain Robert Castillo whom he met for the first time nor did he check the
source of the cargo; he knew that the transfer took place 66 nautical miles off Singapore in the dead of the night which a
marine vessel of his firm did not ordinarily do; it was also the first time Navi Marine transacted with Paul Gan involving a
large sum of money without any receipt issued therefor; he was not even aware if Paul Gan was a Singaporean national
and thus safe to deal with. It should also be noted that the value of the cargo was P40,426,793.87 or roughly more than
US$l,000,000.00 (computed at P30.00 to $1, the exchange rate at that time). Manifestly, the cargo was sold for less than
one-half of its value. Accused-appellant Hiong should have been aware of this irregularity. Nobody in his right mind
would go to far away Singapore, spend much time and money for transportation -only to sell at the aforestated price if it
were legitimate sale involved. This, in addition to the act of falsifying records, clearly shows that accused-appellant Hiong
was well aware that the cargo that his firm was acquiring was purloined.
Lastly, it cannot be correctly said that accused-appellant was "merely following the orders of his superiors." An
individual is justified in performing an act in obedience to an order issued by a superior if such order, is for some lawful
purpose and that the means used by the subordinate to carry out said order is lawful (Reyes, Revised Penal Code, Vol. 1,
1981 ed., p. 212). Notably, the alleged order of Hiong's superior Chua Kim Leng Timothy, is a patent violation not only of
Philippine, but of international law. Such violation was committed on board a Philippine-operated vessel. Moreover, the
means used by Hiong in carrying out said order was equally unlawful. He misled port and immigration authorities,
falsified records, using a mere clerk, Frankie Loh, to consummate said acts. During the trial, Hiong presented himself, and
the trial court was convinced, that he was an intelligent and articulate Port Captain. These circumstances show that he
must have realized the nature and the implications of the order of Chua Kim Leng Timothy. Thereafter, he could have
refused to follow orders to conclude the deal and to effect the transfer of the cargo to the Navi Pride. He did not do so, for
which reason, he must now suffer the consequences of his actions.
WHEREFORE, finding the conviction of accused-appellants justified by the evidence on record, the Court hereby
AFFIRMS the judgment of the trial court in toto.
SO ORDERED.
Vitug, Panganiban, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
 

 
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

TEOFILO EVANGELISTA, G.R. No. 163267


Petitioner,

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,


- versus- BRION,
DEL CASTILLO,
ABAD, and
PEREZ, JJ.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:


Respondent. May 5, 2010
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

To be guilty of the crime of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, one does not have to be in actual physical
possession thereof. The law does not punish physical possession alone but possession in general, which includes constructive
possession or the subjection of the thing to the owners control.[1]

This Petition for Review on Certiorari[2] assails the October 15, 2003 Decision[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R.
CR No. 21805 which affirmed the January 23, 1998 Decision[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City, Branch 109
convicting petitioner Teofilo Evangelista for violation of Section 1, Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1866,[5] as amended, as well as the
April 16, 2004 Resolution which denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

Factual Antecedents

In an Information[6] dated January 31, 1996, petitioner was charged with violation of Section 1 of PD 1866 allegedly committed as
follows:

That on or about the 30th day of January 1996, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay City, Philippines,
and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did, then and there, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control the following items:

1. One (1) Unit 9mm Jericho Pistol, Israel with SN F-36283 with one (1) magazine;

2. One (1) Unit Mini-Uzi 9mm Israel Submachine gun with SN 931864 with two (2) magazines;
3. Nineteen (19) 9mm bullets.

without the corresponding permit or license from competent authority.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

After posting his bail, petitioner filed on February 14, 1996 an Urgent Motion for (a) Suspension of Proceedings and (b) the Holding
of A Preliminary Investigation.[7] The RTC granted the motion and, accordingly, the State Prosecutor conducted the preliminary
investigation.

In a Resolution[8] dated March 6, 1996, the State Prosecutor found no probable cause to indict petitioner and thus recommended the
reversal of the resolution finding probable cause and the dismissal of the complaint. Thereafter, a Motion to Withdraw
Information[9] was filed but it was denied by the trial court in an Order[10] dated March 26, 1996, viz:

Acting on the Motion to Withdraw Information filed by State Prosecutor Aida Macapagal on the ground that [there
exists] no probable cause to indict the accused, the Information having been already filed in Court, the matter should
be left to the discretion of the Court to assess the evidence, hence, for lack of merit, the same is hereby denied. Let
the arraignment of the accused proceed.

When arraigned on March 26, 1996, petitioner pleaded not guilty to the charge. Thereafter, trial ensued.

Version of the Prosecution

In the morning of January 30, 1996, Maximo Acierto, Jr. (Acierto), a Customs Police assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International
Airport (NAIA) District Command, was informed by his superior that a certain passenger of Philippine Airlines (PAL) Flight No. 657
would be arriving from Dubai bringing with him firearms and ammunitions. Shortly after lunch, Acierto, together with Agents
Cuymo and Fuentabella, proceeded to the tube area where they were met by a crewmember who introduced to them herein petitioner.
Acierto asked petitioner if he brought firearms with him and the latter answered in the affirmative adding that the same were bought
in Angola. Thereupon, Acierto was summoned to the cockpit by the pilot, Capt. Edwin Nadurata (Capt. Nadurata), where the firearms
and ammunitions were turned over to him. Petitioner was then escorted to the arrival area to get his luggage and thereafter proceeded
to the examination room where the luggage was examined and petitioner was investigated. In open court, Acierto identified the
firearms and ammunitions.

During the investigation, petitioner admitted before Special Agent Apolonio Bustos (Bustos) that he bought the subject items
in Angola but the same were confiscated by the Dubai authorities, which turned over the same to a PAL personnel in Dubai. Upon
inquiry, the Firearms and Explosive Office (FEO) in Camp Crame certified that petitioner is neither registered with said office[11] nor
licensed holder of aforesaid firearms and ammunitions. Bustos likewise verified from the Bureau of Customs, but his effort yielded no
record to show that the firearms were legally purchased. Among the documents Bustos had gathered during his investigation were the
Arrival Endorsement Form[12] and Customs Declaration Form.[13] A referral letter[14] was prepared endorsing the matter to the
Department of Justice. Bustos admitted that petitioner was not assisted by counsel when the latter admitted that he bought the firearms
inAngola.
SPO4 Federico Bondoc, Jr. (SPO4 Bondoc), a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and representative of the FEO, upon
verification, found that petitioner is not a licensed/registered firearm holder. His office issued a certification[15] to that effect which he
identified in court as Exhibit A.

After the prosecution rested its case, petitioner, with leave of court, filed his Demurrer to Evidence,[16] the resolution of which was
deferred pending submission of petitioners evidence.[17]

Version of the Defense

The defense presented Capt. Nadurata whose brief but candid and straightforward narration of the event was synthesized by the CA as
follows:

x x x On January 30, 1996, he was approached by the PAL Station Manager in Dubai, who informed him that a
Filipino contract worker from Angola who is listed as a passenger of PAL flight from Dubai to Manila, was being
detained as he was found in possession of firearms; that if said passenger will not be able to board the airplane, he
would be imprisoned in Dubai; and that the Arabs will only release the passenger if the Captain of PAL would
accept custody of the passenger [herein petitioner] and the firearms. Capt. Nadurata agreed to take custody of the
firearms and the passenger, herein appellant, so that the latter could leave Dubai. The firearms were deposited by the
Arabs in the cockpit of the airplane and allowed the appellant to board the airplane. Upon arrival in Manila, Capt.
Nadurata surrendered the firearms to the airport authorities.

Meanwhile, in view of the unavailability of the defenses intended witness, Nilo Umayaw (Umayaw), the PAL Station Manager
in Dubai, the prosecution and the defense agreed and stipulated on the following points:

1. That PAL Station Manager Mr. Nilo Umayaw was told by a Dubai Police that firearms and ammunitions
were found in the luggage of a Filipino passenger coming from Angola going to the Philippines;

2. That he was the one who turned over the subject firearms to Captain Edwin Nadurata, the Pilot in
command of PAL Flight 657;

3. That the subject firearms [were] turned over at Dubai;

4. That the said firearms and ammunitions were confiscated from the accused Teofilo Evangelista and the
same [were] given to the PAL Station Manager who in turn submitted [them] to the PAL Pilot, Capt. Edwin
Nadurata who has already testified;

5. That [these are] the same firearms involved in this case.[18]

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

On February 4, 1997, the RTC rendered its Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

In view of all the foregoing, the Court finds accused TEOFILO E. EVANGELISTA guilty beyond
reasonable doubt for violation of Sec. 1, P.D. 1866 as amended (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions:
(One (1) Unit Mini-Uzi 9mm Israel submachine gun with SN-931864 with two (2) magazines and nineteen (19)
9mm bullets) and hereby sentences him to imprisonment of Seventeen (17) Years and Four (4) Months to Twenty
(20) Years.
The above-mentioned firearms are hereby ordered forfeited in favor of the government and is ordered
transmitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, Manila for proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.[19]

On April 4, 1997, petitioner filed a Motion for New Trial[20] which the RTC granted.[21] Forthwith, petitioner took the witness
stand narrating his own version of the incident as follows:

On January 28, 1996, he was at Dubai International Airport waiting for his flight to the Philippines. He came
from Luwanda, Angola where he was employed as a seaman at Oil International Limited. While at the airport in Dubai, Arab
policemen suddenly accosted him and brought him to their headquarters where he saw guns on top of a table. The Arabs maltreated
him and forced him to admit ownership of the guns. At this point, PAL Station Manager Umayaw came and talked to the policemen
in Arabian dialect. Umayaw told him that he will only be released if he admits ownership of the guns. When he denied ownership of
the same, Umayaw reiterated that he (petitioner) will be released only if he will bring the guns with him to the Philippines. He
declined and insisted that the guns are not his. Upon the request of Umayaw, petitioner was brought to the Duty Free area for his flight
going to the Philippines. When he was inside the plane, he saw the Arab policemen handing the guns to the pilot. Upon arrival at the
NAIA, he was arrested by the Customs police and brought to the arrival area where his passport was stamped and he was made to sign
a Customs Declaration Form without reading its contents. Thereafter, he was brought to a room at the ground floor of the NAIA
where he was investigated. During the investigation, he was not represented by counsel and was forced to accept ownership of the
guns. He denied ownership of the guns and the fact that he admitted having bought the same in Angola.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

After new trial, the RTC still found petitioner liable for the offense charged but modified the penalty of imprisonment. The dispositive
portion of the Decision dated January 23, 1998 reads:

In view of all the foregoing, the Court finds accused TEOFILO E. EVANGELISTA guilty beyond reasonable doubt
for violation of Sec. 1, P.D. 1866 as amended (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions: One (1) Unit 9mm
Jerico Pistol, Israel with SN F-36283 with one (1) magazine; One (1) Unit Mini-Uzi 9mm Israel submachine gun
with SN-931864 with two (2) magazines and nineteen (19) 9mm bullets and hereby sentences him to imprisonment
of Six (6) Years and One (1) Day to Eight (8) Years and a fine of P30,000.00.

The above-mentioned firearms are hereby ordered forfeited in favor of the government and [are] ordered transmitted
to the National Bureau of Investigation, Manila for proper disposition.

SO ORDERED.[22]

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

On appeal, the CA affirmed the findings of the trial court in its Decision dated October 15, 2003. It ruled that the stipulations
during the trial are binding on petitioner. As regards possession of subject firearms, the appellate court ruled that Capt. Naduratas
custody during the flight from Dubai to Manila was for and on behalf of petitioner. Thus, there was constructive possession.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration[23] but it was denied by the appellate court in its April 16, 2004 Resolution.
Hence, this petition.

Issues

Petitioner assigns the following errors:

a. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in not acquitting Evangelista from the charge of Presidential Decree No. 1866,
Illegal Possession of Firearms.

b. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in not holding that Evangelista was never in possession of any firearm or
ammunition within Philippine jurisdiction and he therefore could not have committed the crime charged
against him.

c. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in holding that Evangelista committed a continuing crime.

d. The Court of Appeals gravely erred in disregarding the results of the preliminary investigation.[24]

We find the appeal devoid of merit.

At the outset, we emphasize that under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, a petition for review on certiorari shall only raise
questions of law considering that the findings of fact of the CA are, as a general rule, conclusive upon and binding on the Supreme
Court.[25] In this recourse, petitioner indulges us to calibrate once again the evidence adduced by the parties and to re-evaluate the
credibility of their witnesses. On this ground alone, the instant petition deserves to be denied outright. However, as the liberty of
petitioner is at stake and following the principle that an appeal in a criminal case throws the whole case wide open for review, we are
inclined to delve into the merits of the present petition.

In his bid for acquittal, petitioner argues that he could not have committed the crime imputed against him for he was never in custody
and possession of any firearm or ammunition when he arrived in the Philippines. Thus, the conclusion of the appellate court that he
was in constructive possession of the subject firearms and ammunitions is erroneous.

We are not persuaded. As correctly found by the CA:

Appellants argument that he was never found in possession of the subject firearms and ammunitions within
Philippine jurisdiction is specious. It is worthy to note that at the hearing of the case before the court a
quo on October 8, 1996, the defense counsel stipulated that the subject firearms and ammunitions were confiscated
from appellant and the same were given to PAL Station Manager Nilo Umayaw who, in turn, turned over the same
to Capt. Edwin Nadurata. Such stipulation of fact is binding on appellant, for the acts of a lawyer in the defense of a
case are the acts of his client. Granting that Nilo Umayaw was merely told by the Dubai authorities that the firearms
and ammunitions were found in the luggage of appellant and that Umayaw had no personal knowledge thereof,
however, appellants signature on the Customs Declaration Form, which contains the entry 2 PISTOL guns SENT
SURRENDER TO PHILIPPINE AIRLINE, proves that he was the one who brought the guns to Manila. While
appellant claims that he signed the Customs Declaration Form without reading it because of his excitement,
however, he does not claim that he was coerced or persuaded in affixing his signature thereon. The preparation of
the Customs Declaration Form is a requirement for all arriving passengers in an international flight. Moreover, it
cannot be said that appellant had already been arrested when he signed the Customs Declaration Form. He was
merely escorted by Special Agent Acierto to the arrival area of the NAIA. In fact, appellant admitted that it was only
after he signed the Customs Declaration Form that he was brought to the ground floor of NAIA for
investigation. Consequently, appellant was in constructive possession of the subject firearms. As held in People v.
Dela Rosa, the kind of possession punishable under PD 1866 is one where the accused possessed a firearm either
physically or constructively with animus possidendi or intention to possess the same. Animus possidendi is a state of
mind. As such, what goes on into the mind of the accused, as his real intent, could be determined solely based on his
prior and coetaneous acts and the surrounding circumstances explaining how the subject firearm came to his
possession.

Appellants witness, Capt. Nadurata, the PAL pilot of Flight No. PR 657 from Dubai to Manila on January 30, 1996,
testified that he accepted custody of the firearms and of appellant in order that the latter, who was being detained
in Dubai for having been found in possession of firearms, would be released from custody. In other words, Capt.
Naduratas possession of the firearm during the flight from Dubai to Manila was for and on behalf of appellant.[26]

We find no cogent reason to deviate from the above findings, especially considering petitioners admission during the clarificatory
questioning by the trial court:
Court: So, it is clear now in the mind of the Court, that the firearms and ammunitions will also be with you on your
flight to Manila, is that correct?
A: Yes, your honor.

Court: [You] made mention of that condition, that the Dubai police agreed to release you provided that you will
bring the guns and ammunitions with you? Is that the condition of the Dubai Police?
A: Yes, your honor.

Court: The condition of his release was that he will have to bring the guns and ammunitions to the Philippines and
this arrangement was made by the PAL Supervisor at Dubai and it was Mr. Umayaw the PAL Supervisor,
who interceded in his behalf with the Dubai Police for his flight in the Philippines.[27]

To us, this constitutes judicial admission of his possession of the subject firearms and ammunitions. This admission, the veracity of
which requires no further proof, may be controverted only upon a clear showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no
admission was made.[28] No such controversion is extant on record.

Moreover, we cannot ignore the Customs Declaration Form wherein it appeared that petitioner brought the firearms with him upon his
arrival in the Philippines. While there was no showing that he was forced to sign the form, petitioner can only come up with the
excuse that he was excited. Hardly can we accept such pretension.

We are likewise not swayed by petitioners contention that the lower court erroneously relied on the Customs Declaration Form since it
is not admissible in evidence because it was accomplished without the benefit of counsel while he was under police custody.

The accomplishment of the Customs Declaration Form was not elicited through custodial investigation. It is a customs requirement
which petitioner had a clear obligation to comply. As correctly observed by the CA, the preparation of the Customs Declaration Form
is a requirement for all arriving passengers in an international flight. Petitioner was among those passengers. Compliance with the
constitutional procedure on custodial investigation is, therefore, not applicable in this case. Moreover, it is improbable that the customs
police were the ones who filled out the declaration form. As will be noted, it provides details that only petitioner could have possibly
known or supplied. Even assuming that there was prior accomplishment of the form which contains incriminating details, petitioner
could have easily taken precautionary measures by not affixing his signature thereto. Or he could have registered his objection thereto
especially when no life threatening acts were being employed against him upon his arrival in the country.

Obviously, it was not only the Customs Declaration Form from which the courts below based their conclusion that petitioner was in
constructive possession of subject firearms and ammunitions. Emphasis was also given on the stipulations and admissions made
during the trial. These pieces of evidence are enough to show that he was the owner and possessor of these items.

Petitioner contends that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the case filed against him. He claims that his alleged possession of the
subject firearms transpired while he was at the Dubai Airport and his possession thereof has ceased when he left for
the Philippines. He insists that since Dubai is outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines and his situation is not one of the
exceptions provided in Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code, our criminal laws are not applicable. In short, he had not committed a
crime within the Philippines.

Indeed it is fundamental that the place where the crime was committed determines not only the venue of the action but is an essential
element of jurisdiction.[29] In order for the courts to acquire jurisdiction in criminal cases, the offense should have been committed or
any one of its essential ingredients should have taken place within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. If the evidence adduced
during the trial shows that the offense was committed somewhere else, the court should dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction.[30]

Contrary to the arguments put forward by petitioner, we entertain no doubt that the crime of illegal possession of firearms and
ammunition for which he was charged was committed in the Philippines. The accomplishment by petitioner of the Customs
Declaration Form upon his arrival at the NAIA is very clear evidence that he was already in possession of the subject firearms in
the Philippines.

And more than mere possession, the prosecution was able to ascertain that he has no license or authority to possess said firearms. It
bears to stress that the essence of the crime penalized under PD 1866, as amended, is primarily the accuseds lack of license to possess
the firearm. The fact of lack or absence of license constitutes an essential ingredient of the offense of illegal possession of firearm.
Since it has been shown that petitioner was already in the Philippineswhen he was found in possession of the subject firearms and
determined to be without any authority to possess them, an essential ingredient of the offense, it is beyond reasonable doubt that the
crime was perpetrated and completed in no other place except the Philippines.

Moreover, the jurisdiction of a court over the criminal case is determined by the allegations in the complaint or information. In this
case, the information specifically and categorically alleged that on or about January 30, 1996 petitioner was in possession, custody and
control of the subject firearms at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay City, Philippines, certainly a territory within the
jurisdiction of the trial court.

In contrast, petitioner failed to establish by sufficient and competent evidence that the present charge happened in Dubai. It may be
well to recall that while in Dubai, petitioner, even in a situation between life and death, firmly denied possession and ownership of the
firearms. Furthermore, there is no record of any criminal case having been filed against petitioner in Dubai in connection with the
discovered firearms. Since there is no pending criminal case when he leftDubai, it stands to reason that there was no crime committed
in Dubai. The age-old but familiar rule that he who alleges must prove his allegation applies.[31]

Petitioner finally laments the trial courts denial of the Motion to Withdraw Information filed by the investigating prosecutor due to the
latters finding of lack of probable cause to indict him. He argues that such denial effectively deprived him of his substantive right to a
preliminary investigation.

Still, petitioners argument fails to persuade. There is nothing procedurally improper on the part of the trial court in disregarding the
result of the preliminary investigation it itself ordered. Judicial action on the motion rests in the sound exercise of judicial discretion. In
denying the motion, the trial court just followed the jurisprudential rule laid down in Crespo v. Judge Mogul[32] that once a complaint
or information is filed in court, any disposition of the case as to its dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests on the
sound discretion of the court. The court is not dutifully bound by such finding of the investigating prosecutor. In Solar Team
Entertainment, Inc v. Judge How[33] we held:

It bears stressing that the court is however not bound to adopt the resolution of the Secretary of Justice since the
court is mandated to independently evaluate or assess the merits of the case, and may either agree or disagree with
the recommendation of the Secretary of Justice. Reliance alone on the resolution of the Secretary of Justice would be
an abdication of the trial courts duty and jurisdiction to determine prima facie case.

Consequently, petitioner has no valid basis to insist on the trial court to respect the result of the preliminary investigation it ordered to
be conducted.

In fine, we find no reason not to uphold petitioners conviction. The records substantiate the RTC and CAs finding that petitioner
possessed, albeit constructively, the subject firearms and ammunition when he arrived in the Philippines onJanuary 30,
1996. Moreover, no significant facts and circumstances were shown to have been overlooked or disregarded which if considered
would have altered the outcome of the case.

In the prosecution for the crime of illegal possession of firearm and ammunition, the Court has reiterated the essential elements
in People v. Eling[34] to wit: (1) the existence of subject firearm; and, (2) the fact that the accused who possessed or owned the same
does not have the corresponding license for it.

In the instant case, the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the elements of the crime. The existence of the subject firearms
and the ammunition were established through the testimony of Acierto. Their existence was likewise admitted by petitioner when he
entered into stipulation and through his subsequent judicial admission. Concerning petitioners lack of authority to possess the firearms,
SPO4 Bondoc, Jr. testified that upon verification, it was ascertained that the name of petitioner does not appear in the list of registered
firearm holders or a registered owner thereof. As proof, he submitted a certification to that effect and identified the same in court. The
testimony of SPO4 Bondoc, Jr. or the certification from the FEO would suffice to prove beyond reasonable doubt the second
element.[35]
A final point. Republic Act (RA) No. 8294[36] took effect on June 6, 1997 or after the commission of the crime on January 30,
1996. However, since it is advantageous to the petitioner, it should be given retrospective application insofar as the penalty is
concerned.

Section 1 of PD 1866, as amended by RA 8294 provides:

Section 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Firearms or Ammunition or


Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the Manufacture of Firearms or Ammunition. x x x

The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum period and a fine of Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) shall be
imposed if the firearm is classified as high powered firearm which includes those with bores bigger in diameter
than .38 caliber and 9 millimeter such as caliber .40, .41, .44, .45 and also lesser calibered firearms but considered
powerful such as caliber .357 and caliber .22 center-fire magnum and other firearms with firing capability of full
automatic and by burst of two or three: Provided, however, That no other crime was committed by the person
arrested.
Prision mayor in its minimum period ranges from six years and one day to eight years. Hence, the penalty imposed by the RTC as
affirmed by the CA is proper.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 21805 affirming the
January 23, 1998 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City, Branch 109 dated January 23, 1998, convicting petitioner
Teofilo Evangelista of violation of Section 1 of Presidential Decree No. 1866, as amended, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment of six years and one day to eight years and to pay a fine ofP30,000.00 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO


Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson

ARTURO D. BRION ROBERTO A. ABAD


Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the
opinion of the Courts Division.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson, Second Division
CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons attestation, it is hereby certified that the
conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the
Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice
[1]
People v. Fajardo, 123 Phil. 1348, 1351 (1966).
[2]
Rollo, pp. 3-37.
[3]
CA rollo, pp. 181-194; penned by Associate Justice Marina L. Buzon and concurred in by Associate Justices Sergio L. Pestao and
Jose Catral Mendoza (now a member of this Court).
[4]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 133-141; penned by Judge Lilia C. Lopez.
[5]
Decree Codifying the Laws on Illegal/Unlawful Possession, Manufacture, Dealing In Acquisition or Disposition of Firearms,
Ammunition or Explosives.
[6]
Records, Vol. I, pp. 1-2.
[7]
Id. at 54-59.
[8]
Id. at 75-79.
[9]
Id. at 73-74.
[10]
Id. at 86.
[11]
Exhibit G, records, p. 174.
[12]
Exhibit I, id. at 177.
[13]
Exhibit J, id. at 178.
[14]
Exhibit H, id. at 175-176.
[15]
Id. at 171.
[16]
Id. at 187-199.
[17]
Id. at 212.
[18]
Id. at 293-294.
[19]
Id. at 303-304.
[20]
Records, Vol. II, pp. 1-8.
[21]
Id. at 25.
[22]
Id. at 133-141.
[23]
CA rollo, 198-206.
[24]
Rollo, p. 16.
[25]
Dacut v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 169434, March 28, 2008, 550 SCRA 260, 267.
[26]
CA rollo, pp. 191-192. Citations Omitted
[27]
TSN, June 30, 1997, pp. 22-23.
[28]
RULES OF COURT, Rule129, Section 4.
Sec. 4 - Judicial admissions. An admission verbal or written made by a party in the course of the proceedings in the same case does
not require proof. The admission may be contradicted only by showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such
admission was made.
[29]
People v. Macasaet, 492 Phil. 355, 370 (2005).
[30]
Uy v. Court of Appeals, 342 Phil. 329, 337 (1997).
[31]
Samson v. Daway, 478 Phil. 784, 795 (2004).
[32]
235 Phl. 465, 476 (1987).
[33]
393 Phil. 172, 181 (2000).
[34]
G.R. No. 178546, April 30, 2008, 553 SCRA 724, 738.
[35]
Valeroso v. People, G.R. No. 164815, February 22, 2008, 546 SCRA 450, 468-469.
[36]
An Act Amending the Provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1866.
 

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-5272 March 19, 1910

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
AH CHONG, defendant-appellant.

Gibb & Gale, for appellant.


Attorney-General Villamor, for appellee.

CARSON, J.:

The evidence as to many of the essential and vital facts in this case is limited to the testimony of the accused
himself, because from the very nature of these facts and from the circumstances surrounding the incident upon
which these proceedings rest, no other evidence as to these facts was available either to the prosecution or to
the defense. We think, however, that, giving the accused the benefit of the doubt as to the weight of the
evidence touching those details of the incident as to which there can be said to be any doubt, the following
statement of the material facts disclose by the record may be taken to be substantially correct:

The defendant, Ah Chong, was employed as a cook at "Officers' quarters, No. 27," Fort Mc Kinley, Rizal
Province, and at the same place Pascual Gualberto, deceased, was employed as a house boy or muchacho.
"Officers' quarters No. 27" as a detached house situates some 40 meters from the nearest building, and in
August, 19087, was occupied solely as an officers' mess or club. No one slept in the house except the two
servants, who jointly occupied a small room toward the rear of the building, the door of which opened upon a
narrow porch running along the side of the building, by which communication was had with the other part of the
house. This porch was covered by a heavy growth of vines for its entire length and height. The door of the
room was not furnished with a permanent bolt or lock, and occupants, as a measure of security, had attached
a small hook or catch on the inside of the door, and were in the habit of reinforcing this somewhat insecure
means of fastening the door by placing against it a chair. In the room there was but one small window, which,
like the door, opened on the porch. Aside from the door and window, there were no other openings of any kind
in the room.

On the night of August 14, 1908, at about 10 o'clock, the defendant, who had received for the night, was
suddenly awakened by some trying to force open the door of the room. He sat up in bed and called out twice,
"Who is there?" He heard no answer and was convinced by the noise at the door that it was being pushed
open by someone bent upon forcing his way into the room. Due to the heavy growth of vines along the front of
the porch, the room was very dark, and the defendant, fearing that the intruder was a robber or a thief, leaped
to his feet and called out. "If you enter the room, I will kill you." At that moment he was struck just above the
knee by the edge of the chair which had been placed against the door. In the darkness and confusion the
defendant thought that the blow had been inflicted by the person who had forced the door open, whom he
supposed to be a burglar, though in the light of after events, it is probable that the chair was merely thrown
back into the room by the sudden opening of the door against which it rested. Seizing a common kitchen knife
which he kept under his pillow, the defendant struck out wildly at the intruder who, it afterwards turned out, was
his roommate, Pascual. Pascual ran out upon the porch and fell down on the steps in a desperately wounded
condition, followed by the defendant, who immediately recognized him in the moonlight. Seeing that Pascual
was wounded, he called to his employers who slept in the next house, No. 28, and ran back to his room to
secure bandages to bind up Pascual's wounds.
There had been several robberies in Fort McKinley not long prior to the date of the incident just described, one
of which took place in a house in which the defendant was employed as cook; and as defendant alleges, it was
because of these repeated robberies he kept a knife under his pillow for his personal protection.

The deceased and the accused, who roomed together and who appear to have on friendly and amicable terms
prior to the fatal incident, had an understanding that when either returned at night, he should knock at the door
and acquiant his companion with his identity. Pascual had left the house early in the evening and gone for a
walk with his friends, Celestino Quiambao and Mariano Ibañez, servants employed at officers' quarters No. 28,
the nearest house to the mess hall. The three returned from their walk at about 10 o'clock, and Celestino and
Mariano stopped at their room at No. 28, Pascual going on to his room at No. 27. A few moments after the
party separated, Celestino and Mariano heard cries for assistance and upon returning to No. 27 found Pascual
sitting on the back steps fatally wounded in the stomach, whereupon one of them ran back to No. 28 and called
Liuetenants Jacobs and Healy, who immediately went to the aid of the wounded man.

The defendant then and there admitted that he had stabbed his roommate, but said that he did it under the
impression that Pascual was "a ladron" because he forced open the door of their sleeping room, despite
defendant's warnings.

No reasonable explanation of the remarkable conduct on the part of Pascuals suggests itself, unless it be that
the boy in a spirit of mischief was playing a trick on his Chinese roommate, and sought to frightened him by
forcing his way into the room, refusing to give his name or say who he was, in order to make Ah Chong believe
that he was being attacked by a robber.

Defendant was placed under arrest forthwith, and Pascual was conveyed to the military hospital, where he died
from the effects of the wound on the following day.

The defendant was charged with the crime of assassination, tried, and found guilty by the trial court of simple
homicide, with extenuating circumstances, and sentenced to six years and one day presidio mayor, the
minimum penalty prescribed by law.

At the trial in the court below the defendant admitted that he killed his roommate, Pascual Gualberto, but
insisted that he struck the fatal blow without any intent to do a wrongful act, in the exercise of his lawful right of
self-defense.

Article 8 of the Penal Code provides that —

The following are not delinquent and are therefore exempt from criminal liability:

xxx xxx xxx

4 He who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided there are the following attendant
circumstances:

(1) Illegal aggression.

(2) Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it.

(3) Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

Under these provisions we think that there can be no doubt that defendant would be entitle to complete
exception from criminal liability for the death of the victim of his fatal blow, if the intruder who forced open the
door of his room had been in fact a dangerous thief or "ladron," as the defendant believed him to be. No one,
under such circumstances, would doubt the right of the defendant to resist and repel such an intrusion, and the
thief having forced open the door notwithstanding defendant's thrice-repeated warning to desist, and his threat
that he would kill the intruder if he persisted in his attempt, it will not be questioned that in the darkness of the
night, in a small room, with no means of escape, with the thief advancing upon him despite his warnings
defendant would have been wholly justified in using any available weapon to defend himself from such an
assault, and in striking promptly, without waiting for the thief to discover his whereabouts and deliver the first
blow.

But the evidence clearly discloses that the intruder was not a thief or a "ladron." That neither the defendant nor
his property nor any of the property under his charge was in real danger at the time when he struck the fatal
blow. That there was no such "unlawful aggression" on the part of a thief or "ladron" as defendant believed he
was repelling and resisting, and that there was no real "necessity" for the use of the knife to defend his person
or his property or the property under his charge.

The question then squarely presents it self, whether in this jurisdiction one can be held criminally responsible
who, by reason of a mistake as to the facts, does an act for which he would be exempt from criminal liability if
the facts were as he supposed them to be, but which would constitute the crime of homicide or assassination if
the actor had known the true state of the facts at the time when he committed the act. To this question we think
there can be but one answer, and we hold that under such circumstances there is no criminal liability, provided
always that the alleged ignorance or mistake or fact was not due to negligence or bad faith.

In broader terms, ignorance or mistake of fact, if such ignorance or mistake of fact is sufficient to negative a
particular intent which under the law is a necessary ingredient of the offense charged (e.g., in larcerny, animus
furendi; in murder, malice; in crimes intent) "cancels the presumption of intent," and works an acquittal; except
in those cases where the circumstances demand a conviction under the penal provisions touching criminal
negligence; and in cases where, under the provisions of article 1 of the Penal Code one voluntarily committing
a crime or misdeamor incurs criminal liability for any wrongful act committed by him, even though it be different
from that which he intended to commit. (Wharton's Criminal Law, sec. 87 and cases cited; McClain's Crim. Law,
sec. 133 and cases cited; Pettit vs. S., 28 Tex. Ap., 240; Commonwealth vs. Power, 7 Met., 596;
Yates vs. People, 32 N.Y., 509; Isham vs. State, 38 Ala., 213; Commonwealth vs. Rogers, 7 Met., 500.)

The general proposition thus stated hardly admits of discussion, and the only question worthy of consideration
is whether malice or criminal intent is an essential element or ingredient of the crimes of homicide and
assassination as defined and penalized in the Penal Code. It has been said that since the definitions there
given of these as well as most other crimes and offense therein defined, do not specifically and expressly
declare that the acts constituting the crime or offense must be committed with malice or with criminal intent in
order that the actor may be held criminally liable, the commission of the acts set out in the various definitions
subjects the actor to the penalties described therein, unless it appears that he is exempted from liability under
one or other of the express provisions of article 8 of the code, which treats of exemption. But while it is true that
contrary to the general rule of legislative enactment in the United States, the definitions of crimes and offenses
as set out in the Penal Code rarely contain provisions expressly declaring that malice or criminal intent is an
essential ingredient of the crime, nevertheless, the general provisions of article 1 of the code clearly indicate
that malice, or criminal intent in some form, is an essential requisite of all crimes and offense therein defined, in
the absence of express provisions modifying the general rule, such as are those touching liability resulting from
acts negligently or imprudently committed, and acts done by one voluntarily committing a crime or
misdemeanor, where the act committed is different from that which he intended to commit. And it is to be
observed that even these exceptions are more apparent than real, for "There is little distinction, except in
degree, between a will to do a wrongful thing and indifference whether it is done or not. Therefore
carelessness is criminal, and within limits supplies the place of the affirmative criminal intent" (Bishop's New
Criminal Law, vol. 1, s. 313); and, again, "There is so little difference between a disposition to do a great harm
and a disposition to do harm that one of them may very well be looked upon as the measure of the other. Since,
therefore, the guilt of a crime consists in the disposition to do harm, which the criminal shows by committing it,
and since this disposition is greater or less in proportion to the harm which is done by the crime, the
consequence is that the guilt of the crime follows the same proportion; it is greater or less according as the
crime in its own nature does greater or less harm" (Ruth. Ints. C. 18, p. 11); or, as it has been otherwise stated,
the thing done, having proceeded from a corrupt mid, is to be viewed the same whether the corruption was of
one particular form or another.
Article 1 of the Penal Code is as follows:

Crimes or misdemeanors are voluntary acts and ommissions punished by law.

Acts and omissions punished by law are always presumed to be voluntarily unless the contrary shall
appear.

An person voluntarily committing a crime or misdemeanor shall incur criminal liability, even though the
wrongful act committed be different from that which he had intended to commit.

The celebrated Spanish jurist Pacheco, discussing the meaning of the word "voluntary" as used in this article,
say that a voluntary act is a free, intelligent, and intentional act, and roundly asserts that without intention
(intention to do wrong or criminal intention) there can be no crime; and that the word "voluntary" implies and
includes the words "con malicia," which were expressly set out in the definition of the word "crime" in the code
of 1822, but omitted from the code of 1870, because, as Pacheco insists, their use in the former code was
redundant, being implied and included in the word "voluntary." (Pacheco, Codigo Penal, vol. 1, p. 74.)

Viada, while insisting that the absence of intention to commit the crime can only be said to exempt from
criminal responsibility when the act which was actually intended to be done was in itself a lawful one, and in
the absence of negligence or imprudence, nevertheless admits and recognizes in his discussion of the
provisions of this article of the code that in general without intention there can be no crime. (Viada, vol. 1, p.
16.) And, as we have shown above, the exceptions insisted upon by Viada are more apparent than real.

Silvela, in discussing the doctrine herein laid down, says:

In fact, it is sufficient to remember the first article, which declared that where there is no intention there
is no crime . . . in order to affirm, without fear of mistake, that under our code there can be no crime if
there is no act, an act which must fall within the sphere of ethics if there is no moral injury. (Vol. 2, the
Criminal Law, folio 169.)

And to the same effect are various decisions of the supreme court of Spain, as, for example in its sentence of
May 31, 1882, in which it made use of the following language:

It is necessary that this act, in order to constitute a crime, involve all the malice which is supposed from
the operation of the will and an intent to cause the injury which may be the object of the crime.

And again in its sentence of March 16, 1892, wherein it held that "considering that, whatever may be the civil
effects of the inscription of his three sons, made by the appellant in the civil registry and in the parochial church,
there can be no crime because of the lack of the necessary element or criminal intention, which characterizes
every action or ommission punished by law; nor is he guilty of criminal negligence."

And to the same effect in its sentence of December 30, 1896, it made use of the following language:

. . . Considering that the moral element of the crime, that is, intent or malice or their absence in the
commission of an act defined and punished by law as criminal, is not a necessary question of fact
submitted to the exclusive judgment and decision of the trial court.

That the author of the Penal Code deemed criminal intent or malice to be an essential element of the various
crimes and misdemeanors therein defined becomes clear also from an examination of the provisions of article
568, which are as follows:

He who shall execute through reckless negligence an act that, if done with malice, would constitute a
grave crime, shall be punished with the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum degree, to prision
correccional in its minimum degrees if it shall constitute a less grave crime.
He who in violation of the regulations shall commit a crime through simple imprudence or negligence
shall incur the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and maximum degrees.

In the application of these penalties the courts shall proceed according to their discretion, without being
subject to the rules prescribed in article 81.

The provisions of this article shall not be applicable if the penalty prescribed for the crime is equal to or
less than those contained in the first paragraph thereof, in which case the courts shall apply the next
one thereto in the degree which they may consider proper.

The word "malice" in this article is manifestly substantially equivalent to the words "criminal intent," and the
direct inference from its provisions is that the commission of the acts contemplated therein, in the absence of
malice (criminal intent), negligence, and imprudence, does not impose any criminal liability on the actor.

The word "voluntary" as used in article 1 of the Penal Code would seem to approximate in meaning the word
"willful" as used in English and American statute to designate a form of criminal intent. It has been said that
while the word "willful" sometimes means little more than intentionally or designedly, yet it is more frequently
understood to extent a little further and approximate the idea of the milder kind of legal malice; that is, it
signifies an evil intent without justifiable excuse. In one case it was said to mean, as employed in a statute in
contemplation, "wantonly" or "causelessly;" in another, "without reasonable grounds to believe the thing
lawful." And Shaw, C. J., once said that ordinarily in a statute it means "not merely `voluntarily' but with a bad
purpose; in other words, corruptly." In English and the American statutes defining crimes "malice," "malicious,"
"maliciously," and "malice aforethought" are words indicating intent, more purely technical than "willful" or
willfully," but "the difference between them is not great;" the word "malice" not often being understood to
require general malevolence toward a particular individual, and signifying rather the intent from our legal
justification. (Bishop's New Criminal Law, vol. 1, secs. 428 and 429, and cases cited.)

But even in the absence of express words in a statute, setting out a condition in the definition of a crime that it
be committed "voluntarily," willfully," "maliciously" "with malice aforethought," or in one of the various modes
generally construed to imply a criminal intent, we think that reasoning from general principles it will always be
found that with the rare exceptions hereinafter mentioned, to constitute a crime evil intent must combine with
an act. Mr. Bishop, who supports his position with numerous citations from the decided cases, thus forcely
present this doctrine:

In no one thing does criminal jurisprudence differ more from civil than in the rule as to the intent. In
controversies between private parties the quo animo with which a thing was done is sometimes
important, not always; but crime proceeds only from a criminal mind. So that —

There can be no crime, large or small, without an evil mind. In other words, punishment is the sentence
of wickedness, without which it can not be. And neither in philosophical speculation nor in religious or
mortal sentiment would any people in any age allow that a man should be deemed guilty unless his
mind was so. It is therefore a principle of our legal system, as probably it is of every other, that the
essence of an offense is the wrongful intent, without which it can not exists. We find this doctrine
confirmed by —

Legal maxims. — The ancient wisdom of the law, equally with the modern, is distinct on this subject. It
consequently has supplied to us such maxims as Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea, "the act itself
does not make man guilty unless his intention were so;" Actus me incito factus non est meus actus, "an
act done by me against my will is not my act;" and others of the like sort. In this, as just said, criminal
jurisprudence differs from civil. So also —

Moral science and moral sentiment teach the same thing. "By reference to the intention, we inculpate or
exculpate others or ourselves without any respect to the happiness or misery actually produced. Let the
result of an action be what it may, we hold a man guilty simply on the ground of intention; or, on the
dame ground, we hold him innocent." The calm judgment of mankind keeps this doctrine among its
jewels. In times of excitement, when vengeance takes the place of justice, every guard around the
innocent is cast down. But with the return of reason comes the public voice that where the mind is pure,
he who differs in act from his neighbors does not offend. And —

In the spontaneous judgment which springs from the nature given by God to man, no one deems
another to deserve punishment for what he did from an upright mind, destitute of every form of evil. And
whenever a person is made to suffer a punishment which the community deems not his due, so far
from its placing an evil mark upon him, it elevates him to the seat of the martyr. Even infancy itself
spontaneously pleads the want of bad intent in justification of what has the appearance of wrong, with
the utmost confidence that the plea, if its truth is credited, will be accepted as good. Now these facts
are only the voice of nature uttering one of her immutable truths. It is, then, the doctrine of the law,
superior to all other doctrines, because first in nature from which the law itself proceeds, that no man is
to be punished as a criminal unless his intent is wrong. (Bishop's New Criminal Law, vol. 1, secs. 286 to
290.)

Compelled by necessity, "the great master of all things," an apparent departure from this doctrine of abstract
justice result from the adoption of the arbitrary rule that Ignorantia juris non excusat ("Ignorance of the law
excuses no man"), without which justice could not be administered in our tribunals; and compelled also by the
same doctrine of necessity, the courts have recognized the power of the legislature to forbid, in a limited class
of cases, the doing of certain acts, and to make their commission criminal without regard to the intent of the
doer. Without discussing these exceptional cases at length, it is sufficient here to say that the courts have
always held that unless the intention of the lawmaker to make the commission of certain acts criminal without
regard to the intent of the doer is clear and beyond question the statute will not be so construed (cases cited in
Cyc., vol. 12, p. 158, notes 76 and 77); and the rule that ignorance of the law excuses no man has been said
not to be a real departure from the law's fundamental principle that crime exists only where the mind is at fault,
because "the evil purpose need not be to break the law, and if suffices if it is simply to do the thing which the
law in fact forbids." (Bishop's New Criminal Law, sec. 300, and cases cited.)

But, however this may be, there is no technical rule, and no pressing necessity therefore, requiring mistake in
fact to be dealt with otherwise that in strict accord with the principles of abstract justice. On the contrary, the
maxim here is Ignorantia facti excusat ("Ignorance or mistake in point of fact is, in all cases of supposed
offense, a sufficient excuse"). (Brown's Leg. Max., 2d ed., 190.)

Since evil intent is in general an inseparable element in every crime, any such mistake of fact as shows the act
committed to have proceeded from no sort of evil in the mind necessarily relieves the actor from criminal
liability provided always there is no fault or negligence on his part; and as laid down by Baron Parke, "The guilt
of the accused must depend on the circumstances as they appear to him." (Reg. vs. Thurborn, 1 Den. C., 387;
P. vs.Anderson, 44 Cal.., 65; P. vs. Lamb, 54 Barb., 342; Yates vs. P., 32 N. Y., 509; Patterson vs. P., 46 Barb.,
625; Reg. vs. Cohen, 8 Cox C. C., 41; P. vs. Miles, 55 Cal., 207, 209; Nalley vs. S., 28 Tex. Ap., 387.) That is
to say, the question as to whether he honestly, in good faith, and without fault or negligence fell into the
mistake is to be determined by the circumstances as they appeared to him at the time when the mistake was
made, and the effect which the surrounding circumstances might reasonably be expected to have on his mind,
in forming the intent, criminal or other wise, upon which he acted.

If, in language not uncommon in the cases, one has reasonable cause to believe the existence of facts
which will justify a killing — or, in terms more nicely in accord with the principles on which the rule is
founded, if without fault or carelessness he does believe them — he is legally guiltless of the homicide;
though he mistook the facts, and so the life of an innocent person is unfortunately extinguished. In other
words, and with reference to the right of self-defense and the not quite harmonious authorities, it is the
doctrine of reason and sufficiently sustained in adjudication, that notwithstanding some decisions
apparently adverse, whenever a man undertakes self-defense, he is justified in acting on the facts as
they appear to him. If, without fault or carelessness, he is misled concerning them, and defends himself
correctly according to what he thus supposes the facts to be the law will not punish him though they are
in truth otherwise, and he was really no occassion for the extreme measures. (Bishop's New Criminal
Law, sec. 305, and large array of cases there cited.)
The common illustration in the American and English textbooks of the application of this rule is the case where
a man, masked and disguised as a footpad, at night and on a lonely road, "holds up" his friends in a spirit of
mischief, and with leveled pistol demands his money or his life, but is killed by his friend under the mistaken
belief that the attack is a real one, that the pistol leveled at his head is loaded, and that his life and property are
in imminent danger at the hands of the aggressor. No one will doubt that if the facts were such as the slayer
believed them to be he would be innocent of the commission of any crime and wholly exempt from criminal
liability, although if he knew the real state of the facts when he took the life of his friend he would undoubtedly
be guilty of the crime of homicide or assassination. Under such circumstances, proof of his innocent mistake of
the facts overcomes the presumption of malice or criminal intent, and (since malice or criminal intent is a
necessary ingredient of the "act punished by law" in cases of homicide or assassination) overcomes at the
same time the presumption established in article 1 of the code, that the "act punished by law" was committed
"voluntarily."

Parson, C.J., in the Massachusetts court, once said:

If the party killing had reasonable grounds for believing that the person slain had a felonious design
against him, and under that supposition killed him, although it should afterwards appear that there was
no such design, it will not be murder, but it will be either manslaughter or excusable homicide,
according to the degree of caution used and the probable grounds of such belief. (Charge to the grand
jury in Selfridge's case, Whart, Hom., 417, 418, Lloyd's report of the case, p.7.)

In this case, Parker, J., charging the petit jury, enforced the doctrine as follows:

A, in the peaceable pursuit of his affairs, sees B rushing rapidly toward him, with an outstretched arms
and a pistol in his hand, and using violent menaces against his life as he advances. Having approached
near enough in the same attitude, A, who has a club in his hand, strikes B over the head before or at
the instant the pistol is discharged; and of the wound B dies. It turns out the pistol was loaded
with powder only, and that the real design of B was only to terrify A. Will any reasonable man say that A
is more criminal that he would have been if there had been a bullet in the pistol? Those who hold such
doctrine must require that a man so attacked must, before he strikes the assailant, stop and ascertain
how the pistol is loaded — a doctrine which would entirely take away the essential right of self-defense.
And when it is considered that the jury who try the cause, and not the party killing, are to judge of the
reasonable grounds of his apprehension, no danger can be supposed to flow from this principle.
(Lloyd's Rep., p. 160.)

To the same effect are various decisions of the supreme court of Spain, cited by Viada, a few of which are here
set out in full because the facts are somewhat analogous to those in the case at bar.

QUESTION III. When it is shown that the accused was sitting at his hearth, at night, in company only of
his wife, without other light than reflected from the fire, and that the man with his back to the door was
attending to the fire, there suddenly entered a person whom he did not see or know, who struck him
one or two blows, producing a contusion on the shoulder, because of which he turned, seized the
person and took from his the stick with which he had undoubtedly been struck, and gave the unknown
person a blow, knocking him to the floor, and afterwards striking him another blow on the head, leaving
the unknown lying on the floor, and left the house. It turned out the unknown person was his father-in-
law, to whom he rendered assistance as soon as he learned his identity, and who died in about six
days in consequence of cerebral congestion resulting from the blow. The accused, who confessed the
facts, had always sustained pleasant relations with his father-in-law, whom he visited during his
sickness, demonstrating great grief over the occurrence. Shall he be considered free from criminal
responsibility, as having acted in self-defense, with all the circumstances related in paragraph 4, article
8, of the Penal Code? The criminal branch of theAudiencia of Valladolid found that he was an illegal
aggressor, without sufficient provocation, and that there did not exists rational necessity for the
employment of the force used, and in accordance with articles 419 and 87 of the Penal Code
condemned him to twenty months of imprisonment, with accessory penalty and costs. Upon appeal by
the accused, he was acquitted by the supreme court, under the following sentence: "Considering, from
the facts found by the sentence to have been proven, that the accused was surprised from behind, at
night, in his house beside his wife who was nursing her child, was attacked, struck, and beaten, without
being able to distinguish with which they might have executed their criminal intent, because of the there
was no other than fire light in the room, and considering that in such a situation and when the acts
executed demonstrated that they might endanger his existence, and possibly that of his wife and child,
more especially because his assailant was unknown, he should have defended himself, and in doing so
with the same stick with which he was attacked, he did not exceed the limits of self-defense, nor did he
use means which were not rationally necessary, particularly because the instrument with which he
killed was the one which he took from his assailant, and was capable of producing death, and in the
darkness of the house and the consteration which naturally resulted from such strong aggression, it
was not given him to known or distinguish whether there was one or more assailants, nor the arms
which they might bear, not that which they might accomplish, and considering that the lower court did
not find from the accepted facts that there existed rational necessity for the means employed, and that
it did not apply paragraph 4 of article 8 of the Penal Code, it erred, etc." (Sentence of supreme court of
Spain, February 28, 1876.) (Viada, Vol. I, p. 266.) .

QUESTION XIX. A person returning, at night, to his house, which was situated in a retired part of the
city, upon arriving at a point where there was no light, heard the voice of a man, at a distance of some 8
paces, saying: "Face down, hand over you money!" because of which, and almost at the same money,
he fired two shots from his pistol, distinguishing immediately the voice of one of his friends (who had
before simulated a different voice) saying, "Oh! they have killed me," and hastening to his assistance,
finding the body lying upon the ground, he cried, "Miguel, Miguel, speak, for God's sake, or I am
ruined," realizing that he had been the victim of a joke, and not receiving a reply, and observing that his
friend was a corpse, he retired from the place. Shall he be declared exempt in toto from responsibility
as the author of this homicide, as having acted in just self-defense under the circumstances defined in
paragraph 4, article 8, Penal Code? The criminal branch of the Audiencia of Malaga did not so find, but
only found in favor of the accused two of the requisites of said article, but not that of the
reasonableness of the means employed to repel the attack, and, therefore, condemned the accused to
eight years and one day of prison mayor, etc. The supreme court acquitted the accused on his appeal
from this sentence, holding that the accused was acting under a justifiable and excusable mistake of
fact as to the identity of the person calling to him, and that under the circumstances, the darkness and
remoteness, etc., the means employed were rational and the shooting justifiable. (Sentence supreme
court, March 17, 1885.) (Viada, Vol. I, p. 136.)

QUESTION VI. The owner of a mill, situated in a remote spot, is awakened, at night, by a large stone
thrown against his window — at this, he puts his head out of the window and inquires what is wanted,
and is answered "the delivery of all of his money, otherwise his house would be burned" — because of
which, and observing in an alley adjacent to the mill four individuals, one of whom addressed him with
blasphemy, he fired his pistol at one the men, who, on the next morning was found dead on the same
spot. Shall this man be declared exempt from criminal responsibility as having acted in just self-defense
with all of the requisites of law? The criminal branch of the requisites of law? The criminal branch of
the Audiencia of Zaragoza finds that there existed in favor of the accused a majority of the requisites to
exempt him from criminal responsibility, but not that of reasonable necessity for the means, employed,
and condemned the accused to twelve months of prision correctional for the homicide committed. Upon
appeal, the supreme court acquitted the condemned, finding that the accused, in firing at the
malefactors, who attack his mill at night in a remote spot by threatening robbery and incendiarism, was
acting in just self-defense of his person, property, and family. (Sentence of May 23, 1877). (I Viada, p.
128.)

A careful examination of the facts as disclosed in the case at bar convinces us that the defendant Chinaman
struck the fatal blow alleged in the information in the firm belief that the intruder who forced open the door of
his sleeping room was a thief, from whose assault he was in imminent peril, both of his life and of his property
and of the property committed to his charge; that in view of all the circumstances, as they must have presented
themselves to the defendant at the time, he acted in good faith, without malice, or criminal intent, in the belief
that he was doing no more than exercising his legitimate right of self-defense; that had the facts been as he
believed them to be he would have been wholly exempt from criminal liability on account of his act; and that he
can not be said to have been guilty of negligence or recklessness or even carelessness in falling into his
mistake as to the facts, or in the means adopted by him to defend himself from the imminent danger which he
believe threatened his person and his property and the property under his charge.

The judgment of conviction and the sentence imposed by the trial court should be reversed, and the defendant
acquitted of the crime with which he is charged and his bail bond exonerated, with the costs of both
instance de oficio. So ordered.

Johnson Moreland and Elliott, JJ., concur.


Arellano, C.J., and Mapa, J., dissent.

Separate Opinions

TORRES, J., dissenting:

The writer, with due respect to the opinion of the majority of the court, believes that, according to the merits of
the case, the crime of homicide by reckless negligence, defined and punishes in article 568 of the Penal Code,
was committed, inasmuch as the victim was wilfully (voluntariomente) killed, and while the act was done
without malice or criminal intent it was, however, executed with real negligence, for the acts committed by the
deceased could not warrant the aggression by the defendant under the erroneous belief on the part of the
accused that the person who assaulted him was a malefactor; the defendant therefore incurred responsibility in
attacking with a knife the person who was accustomed to enter said room, without any justifiable motive.

By reason of the nature of the crime committed, in the opinion of the undersigned the accused should be
sentenced to the penalty of one year and one month of prision correctional, to suffer the accessory penalties
provided in article 61, and to pay an indemnify of P1,000 to the heirs of the deceased, with the costs of both
instances, thereby reversing the judgment appealed from.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-35748 December 14, 1931

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ROMANA SILVESTRE and MARTIN ATIENZA, defendants-appellants.

Teofilo Mendoza for appellants.


Attorney-General Jaranilla for appellee.

VILLA-REAL, J.:

Martin Atienza and Romana Silvestre appeal to this court from the judgment of the Court of First Instance of
Bulacan convicting them upon the information of the crime of arson as follows: The former as principal by
direct participation, sentenced to fourteen years, eight months, and one day of cadena temporal, in accordance
with paragraph 2 of article 550, Penal Code; and the latter as accomplice, sentenced to six years and one day
ofpresidio mayor; and both are further sentenced to the accessories of the law, and to pay each of the persons
whose houses were destroyed by the fire, jointly and severally, the amount set forth in the information, with
costs.

Counsel appointed by the court to defend the accused- appellants de oficio, after delivering his argument,
prayed for the affirmance of the judgment with reference to the appellant Martin Atienza, and makes the
following assignments of error with reference to Romana Silvestre, to wit:

1. The lower court erred in convincing Romana Silvestre as accomplice of the crime charged in the
information.

2. Finally, the court erred in not acquitting said defendant from the information upon the ground of
insufficient evidence, or at the least, of reasonable doubt.

The following facts were proved at the hearing beyond a reasonable doubt:

Romana Silvestre, wife of Domingo Joaquin by her second marriage, cohabited with her codefendant Martin
Atienza from the month of March, 1930, in the barrio of Masocol, municipality of Paombong, Province of
Bulacan. On May 16, 1930, the complaining husband, Domingo Joaquin, filed with the justice of the peace for
that municipality, a sworn complaint for adultery, supported by affidavits of Gerardo Cabigao and Castor de la
Cruz (Exhibit B). On the same date, May 16, 1930, the said accused were arrested on a warrant issued by said
justice of the peace. On the 20th of the month, they were released on bail, each giving a personal bond of
P6,000. Pending the preliminary investigation of the case, the two defendants begged the municipal president
of Paombong, Francisco Suerte Felipe, to speak to the complaint, Domingo Joaquin, urging him to withdraw
the complaint, the two accused binding themselves to discontinue cohabitation, and promising not to live again
in the barrio of Masocol; Martin Atienza voluntarily signed the promise (Exhibit A). The municipal president
transmitted the defendants' petition to the complaining husband, lending it his support. Domingo Joaquin
acceded to it, and on May 20, 1930, filed a motion for the dismissal of his complaint. In consideration of this
petition, the justice of the peace of Paombong dismissed the adultery case commenced against the accused,
and cancelled the bonds given by them, with the costs against the complainant.
The accused then left the barrio of Masocol and went to live in that of Santo Niño, in the same municipality of
Paombong.

About November 20, 1930, the accused Romana Silvestre met her son by her former marriage, Nicolas de la
Cruz, in the barrio of Santo Niño, and under pretext of asking him for some nipa leaves, followed him home to
the village of Masocol, and remained there. The accused, Martin Atienza, who had continued to cohabit with
said Romana Silvestre, followed her and lived in the home of Nicolas de la Cruz. On the night of November 25,
1930, while Nicolas de la Cruz and his wife, Antonia de la Cruz, were gathered together with the appellants
herein after supper, Martin Atienza told said couple to take their furniture out of the house because he was
going to set fire to it. Upon being asked by Nicolas and Antonia why he wanted to set fire to the house, he
answered that that was the only way he could be revenged upon the people of Masocol who, he said, had
instigated the charge of adultery against him and his codefendant, Romana Silvestre. As Martin Atienza was at
that time armed with a pistol, no one dared say anything to him, not even Romana Silvestre, who was about a
meter away from her codefendant. Alarmed at what Martin Atienza had said, the couple left the house at once
to communicate with the barrio lieutenant, Buenaventura Ania, as to what they had just heard Martin Atienza
say; but they had hardly gone a hundred arms' length when they heard cries of "Fire! Fire!" Turning back they
saw their home in flames, and ran back to it; but seeing that the fire had assumed considerable proportions,
Antonia took refuge in the schoolhouse with her 1 year old babe in her arms, while Nicolas went to the home of
his parents-in-law, took up the furniture he had deposited there, and carried it to the schoolhouse. The fire
destroyed about forty-eight houses. Tomas Santiago coming from the barrio artesian well, and Tomas
Gonzalez, teacher at the barrio school of Masocol, and Felipe Clemente, an old man 61 years of age, coming
from their homes, to the house on fire, saw Martin Atienza going away from the house where the fire started,
and Romana Silvestre leaving it.lawphil.net

As stated in the beginning, counsel appointed by this court to defend the accused-appellant de oficio, prays for
the affirmance of the judgment appealed from with reference to defendant Martin Atienza. The facts related
heretofore, proved beyond a reasonable doubt at the hearing, justify this petition of the de oficio counsel, and
establish beyond a reasonable doubt said defendant's guilt of arson as charged, as principal by direct
participation.

With respect to the accused-appellant Romana Silvestre, the only evidence of record against her are: That,
being married, she lived adulterously with her codefendant Martin Atienza, a married man; that both were
denounced for adultery by Domingo Joaquin, Romana Silvestre's second husband; that in view of the petition
of the accused, who promised to discontinue their life together, and to leave the barrio of Masocol, and through
the good offices of the municipal president of Paombong, the complaining husband asked for the dismissal of
the complaint; that in pursuance of their promise, both of the accused went to lived in the barrio of Santo Niño,
in the same municipality; that under pretext for some nipa leaves from her son by her former marriage, Nicolas
de la Cruz, who had gone to the barrio of Santo Niño, Romana Silvestre followed him to his house in the barrio
of Masocol on November 23, 1930, and remained there; that her codefendant, Martin Atienza followed her, and
stayed with his coaccused in the same house; that on the night of November 25, 1930, at about 8 o'clock,
while all were gathered together at home after supper, Martin Atienza expressed his intention of burning the
house as the only means of taking his revenge on the Masocol resident, who had instigated Domingo Joaquin
to file the complaint for adultery against them, which compelled them to leave the barrio of Masocol; that
Romana Silvestre listened to her codefendant's threat without raising a protest, and did not give the alarm
when the latter set fire to the house. Upon the strength of these facts, the court below found her guilty of arson
as accomplice.

Article 14 of the Penal Code, considered in connection with article 13, defines an accomplice to be one who
does not take a direct part in the commission of the act, who does not force or induce other to commit it, nor
cooperates in the commission of the act by another act without which it would not have been accomplished, yet
cooperates in the execution of the act by previous or simultaneous actions.

Now then, which previous or simultaneous acts complicate Romana Silvestre in the crime of arson committed
by her codefendant Martin Atienza? Is it her silence when he told the spouses, Nicolas de la Cruz and Antonia
de la Cruz, to take away their furniture because he was going to set fire to their house as the only means of
revenging himself on the barrio residents, her passive presence when Martin Atienza set fire to the house,
where there is no evidence of conspiracy or cooperation, and her failure to give the alarm when the house was
already on fire?

The complicity which is penalized requires a certain degree of cooperation, whether moral, through advice,
encouragement, or agreement, or material, through external acts. In the case of the accused-appellant
Romana Silvestre, there is no evidence of moral or material cooperation, and none of an agreement to commit
the crime in question. Her mere presence and silence while they are simultaneous acts, do not constitute
cooperation, for it does not appear that they encouraged or nerved Martin Atienza to commit the crime of
arson; and as for her failure to give the alarm, that being a subsequent act it does not make her liable as an
accomplice.

The trial court found the accused-appellant Martin Atienza guilty of arson, defined and penalized in article 550,
paragraph 2, of the Penal Code, which reads as follows:

ART. 550. The penalty of cadena temporal shall be imposed upon:

xxx xxx xxx

2. Any person who shall set fire to any inhabited house or any building in which people are accustomed
to meet together, without knowing whether or not such building or house was occupied at the time, or
any freight train in motion, if the damage caused in such cases shall exceed six thousand two hundred
and fiftypesetas.

While the defendant indeed knew that besides himself and his codefendant, Romana Silvestre, there was
nobody in De la Cruz's house at the moment of setting fire to it, he cannot be convicted merely arson less
serious than what the trial court sentenced him for, inasmuch as that house was the means of destroying the
others, and he did not know whether these were occupied at the time or not. If the greater seriousness of
setting fire to an inhabited house, when the incendiary does not know whether there are people in it at the time,
depends upon the danger to which the inmates are exposed, not less serious is the arson committed by setting
fire to inhabited houses by means of another inhabited house which the firebrand knew to be empty at the
moment of committing the act, if he did not know whether there were people or not in the others, inasmuch as
the same danger exists.

With the evidence produced at the trial, the accused-appellant Martin Atienza might have been convicted of the
crime of arson in the most serious degree provided for in article 549 of the Penal Code, if the information had
alleged that at the time of setting fire to the house, the defendant knew that the other houses were occupied,
taking into account that barrio residents are accustomed to retire at the tolling of the bell for the souls in
purgatory, i.e., at 8 o'clock at night.

For all the foregoing considerations, we are of the opinion and so hold, that: (1) Mere passive presence at the
scene of another's crime, mere silence and failure to give the alarm, without evidence of agreement or
conspiracy, do not constitute the cooperation required by article 14 of the Penal Code for complicity in the
commission of the crime witnessed passively, or with regard to which one has kept silent; and (2) he who
desiring to burn the houses in a barrio, without knowing whether there are people in them or not, sets fire to
one known to be vacant at the time, which results in destroying the rest, commits the crime of arson, defined
and penalized in article 550, paragraph 2, Penal Code.

By virtue wherefore, the judgment appealed from is modified as follows: It is affirmed with reference to the
accused-appellant Martin Atienza, and reversed with reference to the accused-appellant Romana Silvestre,
who is hereby acquitted with
one-half of the costs de oficio. So ordered.

Avanceña, C.J., Johnson, Street, Malcolm, Villamor, Ostrand, Romualdez, and Imperial, JJ., concur.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-47722 July 27, 1943

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ANTONIO Z. OANIS and ALBERTO GALANTA, defendants-appellants.

Antonio Z. Oanis in his own behalf.


Maximo L. Valenzuela for appellant Galanta.
Acting Solicitor-General Ibañez and Assistant Attorney Torres for appellee.

MORAN, J.:

Charged with the crime of murder of one Serapio Tecson, the accused Antonio Z. Oanis and Alberto Galanta,
chief of police of Cabanatuan and corporal of the Philippine Constabulary, respectively, were, after due trial,
found guilty by the lower court of homicide through reckless imprudence and were sentenced each to an
indeterminate penalty of from one year and six months to two years and two months of prison correccional and
to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs of the deceased in the amount of P1,000. Defendants appealed
separately from this judgment.

In the afternoon of December 24, 1938. Captain Godofredo Monsod, Constabulary Provincial Inspector at
Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, received from Major Guido a telegram of the following tenor: "Information received
escaped convict Anselmo Balagtas with bailarina and Irene in Cabanatuan get him dead or alive." Captain
Monsod accordingly called for his first sergeant and asked that he be given four men. Defendant corporal
Alberto Galanta, and privates Nicomedes Oralo, Venancio Serna and D. Fernandez, upon order of their
sergeant, reported at the office of the Provincial Inspector where they were shown a copy of the above-quoted
telegram and a newspaper clipping containing a picture of Balagtas. They were instructed to arrest Balagtas
and, if overpowered, to follow the instruction contained in the telegram. The same instruction was given to the
chief of police Oanis who was likewise called by the Provincial Inspector. When the chief of police was asked
whether he knew one Irene, a bailarina, he answered that he knew one of loose morals of the same name.
Upon request of the Provincial Inspector, the chief of police tried to locate some of his men to guide the
constabulary soldiers in ascertaining Balagtas' whereabouts, and failing to see anyone of them he volunteered
to go with the party. The Provincial Inspector divided the party into two groups with defendants Oanis and
Galanta, and private Fernandez taking the route to Rizal street leading to the house where Irene was
supposedly living. When this group arrived at Irene's house, Oanis approached one Brigida Mallare, who was
then stripping banana stalks, and asked her where Irene's room was. Brigida indicated the place and upon
further inquiry also said that Irene was sleeping with her paramour. Brigida trembling, immediately returned to
her own room which was very near that occupied by Irene and her paramour. Defendants Oanis and Galanta
then went to the room of Irene, and an seeing a man sleeping with his back towards the door where they were,
simultaneously or successively fired at him with their .32 and .45 caliber revolvers. Awakened by the gunshots,
Irene saw her paramour already wounded, and looking at the door where the shots came, she saw the
defendants still firing at him. Shocked by the entire scene. Irene fainted; it turned out later that the person shot
and killed was not the notorious criminal Anselmo Balagtas but a peaceful and innocent citizen named Serapio
Tecson, Irene's paramour. The Provincial Inspector, informed of the killing, repaired to the scene and when he
asked as to who killed the deceased. Galanta, referring to himself and to Oanis, answered: "We two, sir." The
corpse was thereafter brought to the provincial hospital and upon autopsy by Dr. Ricardo de Castro, multiple
gunshot wounds inflicted by a .32 and a .45 caliber revolvers were found on Tecson's body which caused his
death.

These are the facts as found by the trial court and fully supported by the evidence, particularly by the testimony
of Irene Requinea. Appellants gave, however, a different version of the tragedy. According to Appellant
Galanta, when he and chief of police Oanis arrived at the house, the latter asked Brigida where Irene's room
was. Brigida indicated the place, and upon further inquiry as to the whereabouts of Anselmo Balagtas, she said
that he too was sleeping in the same room. Oanis went to the room thus indicated and upon opening the
curtain covering the door, he said: "If you are Balagtas, stand up." Tecson, the supposed Balagtas, and Irene
woke up and as the former was about to sit up in bed. Oanis fired at him. Wounded, Tecson leaned towards
the door, and Oanis receded and shouted: "That is Balagtas." Galanta then fired at Tecson.

On the other hand, Oanis testified that after he had opened the curtain covering the door and after having said,
"if you are Balagtas stand up." Galanta at once fired at Tecson, the supposed Balagtas, while the latter was
still lying on bed, and continued firing until he had exhausted his bullets: that it was only thereafter that he,
Oanis, entered the door and upon seeing the supposed Balagtas, who was then apparently watching and
picking up something from the floor, he fired at him.

The trial court refused to believe the appellants. Their testimonies are certainly incredible not only because
they are vitiated by a natural urge to exculpate themselves of the crime, but also because they are materially
contradictory. Oasis averred that be fired at Tecson when the latter was apparently watching somebody in an
attitudes of picking up something from the floor; on the other hand, Galanta testified that Oasis shot Tecson
while the latter was about to sit up in bed immediately after he was awakened by a noise. Galanta testified that
he fired at Tecson, the supposed Balagtas, when the latter was rushing at him. But Oanis assured that when
Galanta shot Tecson, the latter was still lying on bed. It is apparent from these contradictions that when each of
the appellants tries to exculpate himself of the crime charged, he is at once belied by the other; but their mutual
incriminating averments dovetail with and corroborate substantially, the testimony of Irene Requinea. It should
be recalled that, according to Requinea, Tecson was still sleeping in bed when he was shot to death by
appellants. And this, to a certain extent, is confirmed by both appellants themselves in their mutual
recriminations. According, to Galanta, Oanis shot Tecson when the latter was still in bed about to sit up just
after he was awakened by a noise. And Oanis assured that when Galanta shot Tecson, the latter was still lying
in bed. Thus corroborated, and considering that the trial court had the opportunity to observe her demeanor on
the stand, we believe and so hold that no error was committed in accepting her testimony and in rejecting the
exculpatory pretensions of the two appellants. Furthermore, a careful examination of Irene's testimony will
show not only that her version of the tragedy is not concocted but that it contains all indicia of veracity. In her
cross-examination, even misleading questions had been put which were unsuccessful, the witness having
stuck to the truth in every detail of the occurrence. Under these circumstances, we do not feel ourselves
justified in disturbing the findings of fact made by the trial court.

The true fact, therefore, of the case is that, while Tecson was sleeping in his room with his back towards the
door, Oanis and Galanta, on sight, fired at him simultaneously or successively, believing him to be Anselmo
Balagtas but without having made previously any reasonable inquiry as to his identity. And the question is
whether or not they may, upon such fact, be held responsible for the death thus caused to Tecson. It is
contended that, as appellants acted in innocent mistake of fact in the honest performance of their official duties,
both of them believing that Tecson was Balagtas, they incur no criminal liability. Sustaining this theory in part,
the lower court held and so declared them guilty of the crime of homicide through reckless imprudence. We are
of the opinion, however, that, under the circumstances of the case, the crime committed by appellants is
murder through specially mitigated by circumstances to be mentioned below.

In support of the theory of non-liability by reasons of honest mistake of fact, appellants rely on the case of U.S.
v. Ah Chong, 15 Phil., 488. The maxim is ignorantia facti excusat, but this applies only when the mistake is
committed without fault or carelessness. In the Ah Chong case, defendant therein after having gone to bed
was awakened by someone trying to open the door. He called out twice, "who is there," but received no
answer. Fearing that the intruder was a robber, he leaped from his bed and called out again., "If you enter the
room I will kill you." But at that precise moment, he was struck by a chair which had been placed against the
door and believing that he was then being attacked, he seized a kitchen knife and struck and fatally wounded
the intruder who turned out to be his room-mate. A common illustration of innocent mistake of fact is the case
of a man who was marked as a footpad at night and in a lonely road held up a friend in a spirit of mischief, and
with leveled, pistol demanded his money or life. He was killed by his friend under the mistaken belief that the
attack was real, that the pistol leveled at his head was loaded and that his life and property were in imminent
danger at the hands of the aggressor. In these instances, there is an innocent mistake of fact committed
without any fault or carelessness because the accused, having no time or opportunity to make a further inquiry,
and being pressed by circumstances to act immediately, had no alternative but to take the facts as they then
appeared to him, and such facts justified his act of killing. In the instant case, appellants, unlike the accused in
the instances cited, found no circumstances whatsoever which would press them to immediate action. The
person in the room being then asleep, appellants had ample time and opportunity to ascertain his identity
without hazard to themselves, and could even effect a bloodless arrest if any reasonable effort to that end had
been made, as the victim was unarmed, according to Irene Requinea. This, indeed, is the only legitimate
course of action for appellants to follow even if the victim was really Balagtas, as they were instructed not to kill
Balagtas at sight but to arrest him, and to get him dead or alive only if resistance or aggression is offered by
him.

Although an officer in making a lawful arrest is justified in using such force as is reasonably necessary to
secure and detain the offender, overcome his resistance, prevent his escape, recapture him if he escapes, and
protect himself from bodily harm (People vs. Delima, 46 Phil, 738), yet he is never justified in using
unnecessary force or in treating him with wanton violence, or in resorting to dangerous means when the arrest
could be effected otherwise (6 C.J.S., par. 13, p. 612). The doctrine is restated in the new Rules of Court thus:
"No unnecessary or unreasonable force shall be used in making an arrest, and the person arrested shall not
be subject to any greater restraint than is necessary for his detention." (Rule 109, sec. 2, par. 2). And a peace
officer cannot claim exemption from criminal liability if he uses unnecessary force or violence in making an
arrest (5 C.J., p. 753; U.S.vs. Mendoza, 2 Phil., 109). It may be true that Anselmo Balagtas was a notorious
criminal, a life-termer, a fugitive from justice and a menace to the peace of the community, but these facts
alone constitute no justification for killing him when in effecting his arrest, he offers no resistance or in fact no
resistance can be offered, as when he is asleep. This, in effect, is the principle laid down, although upon
different facts, in U.S. vs. Donoso (3 Phil., 234, 242).

It is, however, suggested that a notorious criminal "must be taken by storm" without regard to his right to life
which he has by such notoriety already forfeited. We may approve of this standard of official conduct where the
criminal offers resistance or does something which places his captors in danger of imminent attack. Otherwise
we cannot see how, as in the present case, the mere fact of notoriety can make the life of a criminal a mere
trifle in the hands of the officers of the law. Notoriety rightly supplies a basis for redoubled official alertness and
vigilance; it never can justify precipitate action at the cost of human life. Where, as here, the precipitate action
of the appellants has cost an innocent life and there exist no circumstances whatsoever to warrant action of
such character in the mind of a reasonably prudent man, condemnation — not condonation — should be the
rule; otherwise we should offer a premium to crime in the shelter of official actuation.

The crime committed by appellants is not merely criminal negligence, the killing being intentional and not
accidental. In criminal negligence, the injury caused to another should be unintentional, it being simply the
incident of another act performed without malice. (People vs. Sara, 55 Phil., 939). In the words of Viada, "para
que se celifique un hecho de imprudencia es preciso que no haya mediado en el malicia ni intencion alguna de
dañar; existiendo esa intencion, debera calificarse el hecho del delito que ha producido, por mas que no haya
sido la intencion del agente el causar un mal de tanta gravedad como el que se produjo." (Tomo 7, Viada
Codigo Penal Comentado, 5.a ed. pag. 7). And, as once held by this Court, a deliberate intent to do an
unlawful act is essentially inconsistent with the idea of reckless imprudence (People vs. Nanquil, 43 Phil., 232;
People vs. Bindor, 56 Phil., 16), and where such unlawful act is wilfully done, a mistake in the identity of the
intended victim cannot be considered as reckless imprudence (People vs. Gona, 54 Phil., 605) to support a
plea of mitigated liability.

As the deceased was killed while asleep, the crime committed is murder with the qualifying circumstance
ofalevosia. There is, however, a mitigating circumstance of weight consisting in the incomplete justifying
circumstance defined in article 11, No. 5, of the Revised Penal Code. According to such legal provision, a
person incurs no criminal liability when he acts in the fulfillment of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right or
office. There are two requisites in order that the circumstance may be taken as a justifying one: (a) that the
offender acted in the performance of a duty or in the lawful exercise of a right; and (b) that the injury or offense
committed be the necessary consequence of the due performance of such duty or the lawful exercise of such
right or office. In the instance case, only the first requisite is present — appellants have acted in the
performance of a duty. The second requisite is wanting for the crime by them committed is not the necessary
consequence of a due performance of their duty. Their duty was to arrest Balagtas or to get him dead or alive if
resistance is offered by him and they are overpowered. But through impatience or over-anxiety or in their
desire to take no chances, they have exceeded in the fulfillment of such duty by killing the person whom they
believed to be Balagtas without any resistance from him and without making any previous inquiry as to his
identity. According to article 69 of the Revised Penal Code, the penalty lower by one or two degrees than that
prescribed by law shall, in such case, be imposed.

For all the foregoing, the judgment is modified and appellants are hereby declared guilty of murder with the
mitigating circumstance above mentioned, and accordingly sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of from five
(5) years of prision correctional to fifteen (15) years of reclusion temporal, with the accessories of the law, and
to pay the heirs of the deceased Serapio Tecson jointly and severally an indemnity of P2,000, with costs.

Yulo, C.J., Bocobo, Generoso and Lopez Vito, A., concur.

Separate Opinions

PARAS, J., dissenting:

Anselmo Balagtas, a life termer and notorious criminal, managed to escape and flee form Manila to the
provinces. Receiving information to the effect that he was staying with one Irene in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija,
the office of the Constabulary in Manila ordered the Provincial Inspector in Cabanatuan by telegram dispatched
on December 25, 1938, to get Balagtas "dead or alive". Among those assigned to the task of carrying out the
said order, were Antonio Z. Oanis, chief of police of Cabanatuan, and Alberto Galanta, a Constabulary corporal,
to whom the telegram received by the Provincial Inspector and a newspaper picture of Balagtas were shown.
Oanis, Galanta and a Constabulary private, after being told by the Provincial Inspector to gather information
about Balagtas, "to arrest him and, if overpowered, to follow the instructions contained in the telegram,"
proceeded to the place where the house of Irene was located. Upon arriving thereat, Oanis approached Brigida
Mallari, who was then gathering banana stalks in the yard, and inquired for the room of Irene. After Mallari had
pointed out the room, she was asked by Oanis to tell where Irene's paramour, Balagtas, was, whereupon
Mallari answered that he was sleeping with Irene. Upon reaching the room indicated, Oanis and Galanta, after
the former had shouted "Stand up, if you are Balagtas," started shooting the man who was found by them lying
down beside a woman. The man was thereby killed, but Balagtas was still alive, for it turned out that the
person shot by Oanis and Galanta was one Serapio Tecson.

Consequently, Oanis and Galanta were charged with having committed murder. The Court of First Instance of
Nueva Ecija, however, convicted them only of homicide through reckless imprudence and sentenced them
each to suffer the indeterminate penalty of from 1 year and 6 months to 2 years and 2 months of prision
correctional, to jointly and severally indemnify the heirs of Serapio Tecson in the amount of P1,000, and to pay
the costs. Oanis and Galanta have appealed.

In accomplishing the acts with which the appellants were charged, they undoubtedly followed the order issued
by the Constabulary authorities in Manila requiring the Provincial Inspector in Cabanatuan to get Balagtas
dead or alive, in the honest belief that Serapio Tecson was Anselmo Balagtas. As the latter became a fugitive
criminal, with revolvers in his possession and a record that made him extremely dangerous and a public terror,
the Constabulary authorities were justified in ordering his arrest, whether dead or alive. In view of said order
and the danger faced by the appellants in carrying it out, they cannot be said to have acted feloniously in
shooting the person honestly believed by them to be the wanted man. Conscious of the fact that Balagtas
would rather kill than be captured, the appellants did not want to take chances and should not be penalized for
such prudence. On the contrary, they should be commended for their bravery and courage bordering on
recklessness because, without knowing or ascertaining whether the wanted man was in fact asleep in his room,
they proceeded thereto without hesitation and thereby exposed their lives to danger.
The Solicitor-General, however, contends that the appellants were authorized to use their revolvers only after
being overpowered by Balagtas. In the first place, the alleged instruction by the Provincial Inspector to that
effect, was in violation of the express order given by the Constabulary authorities in Manila and which was
shown to the appellants. In the second place, it would indeed be suicidal for the appellants or, for that matter,
any agent of the authority to have waited until they have been overpowered before trying to put our such a
character as Balagtas. In the third place, it is immaterial whether or not the instruction given by the Provincial
Inspector was legitimate and proper, because the facts exist that the appellants acted in conformity with the
express order of superior Constabulary authorities, the legality or propriety of which is not herein questioned.

The theory of the prosecution has acquired some plausibility, though quite psychological or sentimental, in
view only of the fact that it was not Balagtas who was actually killed, but an "innocent man . . . while he was
deeply asleep." Anybody's heart will be profoundly grieved by the trade, but in time will be consoled by the
realization that the life of Serapio Tecson was not vainly sacrificed, for the incident will always serve as a loud
warning to any one desiring to follow in the footsteps of Anselmo Balagtas that in due time the duly constituted
authorities will, upon proper order, enforce the summary forfeiture of his life.

In my opinion, therefore, the appellants are not criminally liable if the person killed by them was in fact Anselmo
Balagtas for the reason that they did so in the fulfillment of their duty and in obedience to an order issued by a
superior for some lawful purpose (Revised Penal Code, art. 11, pars. 5 and 6). They also cannot be held
criminally liable even if the person killed by them was not Anselmo Balagtas, but Serapio Tecson, because
they did so under an honest mistake of fact not due to negligence or bad faith. (U.S. vs. Ah Chong, 15 Phil.,
488).

It is true that, under article 4 of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability is incurred by any person committing
a felony although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended; but said article is clearly
inapplicable since the killing of the person who was believed to be Balagtas was, as already stated, not
wrongful or felonious.

The case of U.S. vs. Mendieta (34 Phil., 242), cited by the Solicitor-General, is not in point, inasmuch as the
defendant therein, who intended to injure Hilario Lauigan with whom he had a quarrel, but killed another by
mistake, would not be exempted from criminal liability if he actually injured or killed Hilario Lauigan, there being
a malicious design on his part. The other case involved by the prosecution is U.S. vs. Donoso (3 Phil., 234).
This is also not in point, as it appears that the defendants therein killed one Pedro Almasan after he had
already surrendered and allowed himself to be bound and that the said defendants did not have lawful
instructions from superior authorities to capture Almasan dead or alive.

The appealed judgment should therefore be reversed and the appellants, Antonio Z. Oanis and Alberto
Galanta, acquitted, with costs de oficio.

HONTIVEROS, J., dissenting:

According to the opinion of the majority, it is proper to follow the rule that a notorious criminal "must be taken
by storm without regard to his life which he has, by his conduct, already forfeited," whenever said criminal
offers resistance or does something which places his captors in danger of imminent attack. Precisely, the
situation which confronted the accused-appellants Antonio Z. Oanis and Alberto Galanta in the afternoon of
December 24, 1938, was very similar to this. It must be remembered that both officers received instructions to
get Balagtas "dead or alive" and according to the attitude of not only the said appellants but also of Capt.
Monsod, constabulary provincial inspector of Nueva Ecija, it may be assumed that said instructions gave more
emphasis to the first part; namely, to take him dead. It appears in the record that after the shooting, and having
been informed of the case, Capt. Monsod stated that Oanis and Galanta might be decorated for what they had
done. That was when all parties concerned honestly believed that the dead person was Balagtas himself, a
dangerous criminal who had escaped from his guards and was supposedly armed with a .45 caliber pistol
Brigida Mallari, the person whom the appellants met upon arriving at the house of Irene Requinea, supposed
mistress of Balagtas, informed them that said Balagtas was upstairs. Appellants found there asleep a man
closely resembling the wanted criminal. Oanis said: If you are Balagtas stand up," But the supposed criminal
showed his intention to attack the appellants, a conduct easily explained by the fact that he should have felt
offended by the intrusion of persons in the room where he was peacefully lying down with his mistress. In such
predicament, it was nothing but human on the part of the appellants to employ force and to make use of their
weapons in order to repel the imminent attack by a person who, according to their belief, was Balagtas It was
unfortunate, however that an innocent man was actually killed. But taking into consideration the facts of the
case, it is, according to my humble opinion, proper to apply herein the doctrine laid down in the case of
U.S. vs. Ah Chong (15 Phil., 488). In the instant case we have, as in the case supra, an innocent mistake of
fact committed without any fault or carelessness on the part of the accused, who having no time to make a
further inquiry, had no alternative but to take the facts as they appeared to them and act immediately.

The decision of the majority, in recognition of the special circumstances of this case which favored the
accused-appellants, arrives at the conclusion that an incomplete justifying circumstance may be invoked, and
therefore, according to Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code, the imposable penalty should be one which is
lower by one or two degrees than that prescribed by law. This incomplete justifying circumstance is that
defined in Article 11, No. 5 of the Revised Penal Code, in favor of "a person who acts in the fulfillment of a duty
or in the lawful exercise of a right or office." I believe that the application of this circumstance is not proper.
Article 69 of the Revised Penal Code provides as follows:

Art. 69. Penalty to be imposed when the crime committed is not wholly excusable. — A penalty lower
by one or two degrees than that prescribed by law shall be imposed if the deed is not wholly excusable
by reason of the lack of some of the conditions required to justify the same or to exempt from criminal
liability in the several cases mentioned in articles 11 and 12, provided that the majority of such
conditions be present. The courts shall impose the penalty in the period which may be deemed proper,
in view of the number and nature of the conditions of exemption present or lacking.

This provision has been copied almost verbatim from Article 84 of the old Penal Code of the Philippines, and
which was also taken from Article 87 of the Spanish Penal Code of 1870.

Judge Guillermo Guevara, one of the members of the Committee created by Administrative Order No. 94 of the
Department of Justice for the drafting of the Revised Penal Code, in commenting on Article 69, said that the
justifying circumstances and circumstances exempting from liability which are the subject matter of this article
are the following: self-defense, defense of relatives, defense of strangers, state of necessity and injury caused
by mere accident. Accordingly, justifying circumstance No. 5 of Article 11 dealing with the fulfillment of a duty
or the lawful exercise of a right, calling or office, cannot be placed within its scope.

The eminent treatiser of criminal law Mr. Groizard, in his commentary of Article 87 of the Spanish Penal Code
of 1870 which is the source of Article 69 of our Code says:

Ni tratandose de la imbecilidad, ni de la locura, ni de la menor edad, ni del que obra violentado por una
fuerza inrresistible o impulsado por miedo insuperable de un mal igual o mayor, o en cumplimiento de
un deber, o en el ejercito legitimo de un derecho, oficio o cargo, o en virtud de obediencia debida, ni
del que incurre en alguna omision hallandose impedido por causa legitima o insuperable, puede tener
aplicacion al articulo que comentamos. Y la razon es obvia. En ninguna de estas execiones hay
pluralidad de requisitos. La irrespondabilidad depende de una sola condicion. Hay o no perturbacion de
la razon; el autor del hecho es o no menor de nueve años; existe o no violencia material o moral
irresistible, etc., etc.; tal es lo que respectivamente hay que examinar y resolver para declarar la
culpabilidad o inculpabilidad. Es, por lo tanto, imposible que acontezca lo que el texto que va al frente
de estas lineas rquiere, para que se imponga al autor del hecho la penalidad excepcional que
establece; esto es, que falten algunos requisitos de los que la ley exige para eximir de responsabilidad,
y que concurran el mayor numero de ellos, toda vez que, en los casos referidos, la ley no exige
multiples condiciones.

It must be taken into account the fact according to Article 69 a penalty lower by one or two degrees than that
prescribed by law shall be imposed if the deed is not wholly excusable by reason of the lack of some of the
conditions required by the law to justify the same or exempt from criminal liability. The word "conditions" should
not be confused with the word "requisites". In dealing with justifying circumstance No. 5 Judge Guevara states:
"There are two requisites in order that this circumstance may be taken into account: (a) That the offender acted
in the performance of his duty or in the lawful exercise of a right; and (b) That the injury or offense committed
be the necessary consequence of the performance of a duty or the lawful exercise of a right or office." It is
evident that these two requisites concur in the present case if we consider the intimate connection between the
order given to the appellant by Capt. Monsod, the showing to them of the telegram from Manila to get Balagtas
who was with a bailarina named Irene, the conduct of said appellants in questioning Brigida Mallari and giving
a warning to the supposed criminal when both found him with Irene, and the statement made by Capt. Monsod
after the shooting.

If appellant Oanis is entitled to a reversal of the decision of the court below, there are more reasons in favor of
the acquittal of appellant Galanta. According to the evidence no bullet from the gun fired by this accused ever
hit Serapio Tecson. Galanta was armed in the afternoon of December 24, 1938, with a .45 caliber revolver
(Exhibit L). He so testified and was corroborated by the unchallenged testimony of his superior officer Sgt.
Valeriano Serafica. According to this witness, since Galanta was made a corporal of the Constabulary he was
given, as part of his equipment, revolver Exhibit L with a serial No. 37121. This gun had been constantly used
by Galanta, and, according to Sgt. Pedro Marasigan, who accompanied said accused when he took it from his
trunk in the barracks on the night of December 24, 1938, upon order of Captain Monsod, it was the same
revolver which was given to the witness with five .45 caliber bullets and one empty shell. Fourteen unused
bullets were also taken from Galanta by Sergeant Serafica, thus completing his regular equipment of twenty
bullets which he had on the morning of December 24, 1938, when Sergeant Serafica made the usual
inspection of the firearms in the possession of the non-commissioned officers and privates of the constabulary
post at Cabanatuan. Galanta stated that he had fired only one shot and missed. This testimony is corroborated
by that of a ballistic expert who testified that bullets exhibits F and O, — the first being extracted from the head
of the deceased, causing wound No. 3 of autopsy report Exhibit C and the second found at the place of the
shooting, — had not been fired from revolver Exhibit L nor from any other revolver of the constabulary station
in Cabanatuan. It was impossible for the accused Galanta to have substituted his revolver because when
Exhibit L was taken from him nobody in the barracks doubted that the deceased was none other than Balagtas.
Moreover, Exhibit L was not out of order and therefore there was no reason why Galanta should carry along
another gun, according to the natural course of things. On the other hand, aside from wound No. 3 as above
stated, no other wound may be said to have been caused by a .45 caliber revolver bullet. Doctor Castro's
record gives the conclusion that wound No. 2 must have been caused by a .45 caliber revolver bullet. Doctor
Castro's record gives the conclusion that wound No. 2 must have been caused by a .45 caliber bullet, but
inasmuch as the diameter of the wound's entrance was only 8 mm., the caliber should be .32 and not .45,
because according to the medico-legal expert who testified in this case, a bullet of a .45 caliber will produce a
wound entrance with either 11 mm. or 12 mm. diameter. All other wounds found by the surgeon who performed
the autopsy appeared to have been caused by bullets of a lesser caliber. In consequence, it can be stated that
no bullet fired by Galanta did ever hit or kill Serapio Tecson and therefore there is no reason why he should be
declared criminally responsible for said death.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-1477 January 18, 1950

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
JULIO GUILLEN, defendant-appellant.

Mariano A. Albert for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor General Felix Bautista Angelo and Solicitor Francisco A. Carreon for appellee.

PER CURIAM, J.:

This case is before us for review of, and by virtue of appeal from, the judgment rendered by the Court of First
Instance of Manila in case No. 2746, whereby Julio Guillen y Corpus, or Julio C. Guillen, is found guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of murder and multiple frustrated murder, as charged in the information, and is
sentenced to the penalty of death, to indemnify the of the deceased Simeon Valera (or Barrela) in the sum of
P2,000 and to pay the costs.

Upon arraignment the accused entered a plea of not guilty to the charges contained in the information.

Then the case was tried in one of the branches of the Court of First Instance of Manila presided over by the
honorable Buenaventura Ocampo who, after the submission of the evidence of the prosecution and the
defense, rendered judgment as above stated.

In this connection it should be stated that, at the beginning of the trial and before arraignment, counsel de
oficiofor the accused moved that the mental condition of Guillen be examined. The court, notwithstanding that
it had found out from the answers of the accused to questions propounded to him in order to test the
soundness of his mind, that he was not suffering from any mental derangement, ordered that Julio Guillen be
confined for Hospital, there to be examined by medical experts who should report their findings accordingly.
This was done, and, according to the report of the board of medical experts, presided over by Dr. Fernandez of
the National Psychopathic Hospital, Julio Guillen was not insane. Said report (Exhibit L), under the heading
"Formulation and Diagnosis," at pages 13 and 14, reads:

FORMULATION AND DIAGNOSIS

Julio C. Guillen was placed under constant observation since admission. There was not a single
moment during his whole 24 hours daily, that he was not under observation.

The motive behind the commission of the crime is stated above. The veracity of this motivation was
determined in the Narcosynthesis. That the narco-synthesis was successful was checked up the day
after the test. The narco-synthesis proved not only reveal any conflict or complex that may explain a
delusional or hallucinatory motive behind the act.

Our observation and examination failed to elicit any sign or symptom of insanity in Mr. Julio C. Guillen.
He was found to be intelligent, always able to differentiate right from wrong, fully aware of the nature of
the crime he committed and is equally decided to suffer for it in any manner or form.

His version of the circumstances of the crime, his conduct and conversation relative thereto, the
motives, temptations and provocations that preceded the act, were all those of an individual with a
sound mind.
On the other hand he is an man of strong will and conviction and once arriving at a decision he
executes, irrespective of consequences and as in this case, the commission of the act at Plaza Miranda.

What is of some interest in the personality of Julio C. Guillen is his commission of some overt acts. This
is seen not only in the present instance, but sometime when an employee in la Clementina Cigar
Factory he engaged in a boxing bout Mr. Manzano, a Span-wanted to abuse the women cigar makers,
and felt it his duty to defend them. One time he ran after a policeman with a knife in hand after being
provoked to a fight several times. He even challenged Congressman Nueno to a fight sometime before
when Mr. Nueno was running for a seat in the Municipal Board of the City of Manila, after hearing him
deliver one of his apparently outspoken speeches.

All these mean a defect in his personality characterized by a weakness of censorship especially in
relation to rationalization about the consequences of his acts.

In view of the above findings it is our considered opinion that Julio C. Guillen is not insane but is an
individual with a personality defect which in Psychiatry is termed, Constitutional Psychopathic Inferiority.

Final Diagnosis

Not insane: Constitutional Psychopathic Inferiority, without psychosis.

In view of the above-quoted findings of the medical board, and notwithstanding the contrary opinion of one Dr.
Alvarez, who was asked by the defense to give his opinion on the matter, the court ruled that Guillen, not being
insane, could be tired, as he was tired, for the offenses he committed on the date in question.

THE FACTS

Upon careful perusal of the evidence and the briefs submitted by counsel for the accused, the Solicitor General
and their respective memoranda, we find that there is no disagreement between the prosecution and the
defense, as to the essential facts which caused the filing of the present criminal case against this accused.
Those facts may be stated as follows:

On the dates mentioned in this decision, Julio Guillen y Corpus, although not affirmed with any particular
political group, has voted for the defeated candidate in the presidential elections held in 1946. Manuel A.
Roxas, the successful candidate, assumed the office of President of the Commonwealth and subsequently
President of the President of the Philippine Republic. According to Guillen, he became disappointed in
President Roxas for his alleged failure to redeem the pledges and fulfill the promises made by him during the
presidential election campaign; and his disappointment was aggravated when, according to him, President
Roxas, instead of looking after the interest of his country, sponsored and campaigned for the approval of the
so-called "parity" measure. Hence he determined to assassinate the President.

After he had pondered for some time over the ways and means of assassinating President Roxas, the
opportunity presented itself on the night of March 10, 1947, when at a popular meeting held by the Liberal
Party at Plaza de Miranda, Quiapo, Manila attended by a big crowd, President Roxas, accompanied by his wife
and daughter and surrounded by a number of ladies and gentlemen prominent in government and politics,
stood on a platform erected for that purpose and delivered his speech expounding and trying to convince his
thousand of listeners of the advantages to be gained by the Philippines, should the constitutional amendment
granting American citizens the same rights granted to Filipino nationals be adopted.

Guillen had first intended to use a revolver for the accomplishment of his purpose, but having lost said firearm,
which was duly licensed, he thought of two hand grenades which were given him by an American soldier in the
early days of the liberation of Manila in exchange for two bottles of whisky. He had likewise been weighing the
chances of killing President Roxas, either by going to Malacañan, or following his intended victim in the latter's
trips to provinces, for instance, to Tayabas (now Quezon) where the President was scheduled to speak, but
having encountered many difficulties, he decided to carry out his plan at the pro-parity meeting held at Plaza
de Miranda on the night of March 10, 1947.

On the morning of that he went to the house of Amando Hernandez whom he requested to prepare for him a
document (Exhibit B), in accordance with their pervious understanding in the preceding afternoon, when they
met at the premises of the Manila Jockey Club on the occasion of an "anti-parity" meeting held there. On
account of its materially in this case, we deem it proper to quote hereunder the contents of said document. An
English translation (Exhibit B-2) from its original Tagalog reads:

FOR THE SAKE OF A FREE PHILIPPINES

I am the only one responsible for what happened. I conceived it, I planned it, and I carried it out all by
myself alone. It took me many days and nights pondering over this act, talking to my own conscience,
to my God, until I reached my conclusion. It was my duty.

I did not expected to live long; I only had on life to spare. And had I expected to lives to spare, I would
not have hesitated either ton sacrifice it for the sake of a principle which was the welfare of the people.

Thousands have died in Bataan; many more have mourned the loss of their husbands, of their sons,
and there are millions now suffering. Their deeds bore no fruits; their hopes were frustrated.

I was told by my conscience and by my God that there was a man to be blamed for all this: he had
deceived the people, he had astounded them with no other purpose than to entice them; he even went
to the extent of risking the heritage of our future generations. For these reasons he should not continue
any longer. His life would mean nothing as compared with the welfare of eighteen million souls. And
why should I not give up my life too if only the good of those eighteen million souls.

These are the reasons which impelled me to do what I did and I am willing to bear up the
consequences of my act. I t matters not if others will curse me. Time and history will show, I am sure,
that I have only displayed a high degree of patriotism in my performance of my said act.

Hurrah for a free Philippines.

Cheers for the happiness of every Filipino home.

May God pity on me.

Amen.

JULIO C. GUILLEN

A copy (Exhibit B-1) of the original in Tagalog (Exhibit B), made at the request of Guillen by his nephew, was
handed to him only at about 6 o'clock in the afternoon of March 10, 1947, for which reason said Exhibit B-1
appears unsigned, because he was in a hurry for that meeting at Plaza de Miranda.

When he reached Plaza de Miranda, Guillen was carrying two hand grenades concealed in a paper bag which
also contained peanuts. He buried one of the hand grenades (Exhibit D), in a plant pot located close to the
platform, and when he decided to carry out his evil purpose he stood on the chair on which he had been sitting
and, from a distance of about seven meters, he hurled the grenade at the President when the latter had just
closed his speech, was being congratulated by Ambassador Romulo and was about to leave the platform.

General Castañeda, who was on the platform, saw the smoking, hissing, grenade and without losing his
presence of mind, kicked it away from the platform, along the stairway, and towards an open space where the
general thought the grenade was likely to do the least harm; and, covering the President with his body,
shouted to the crowd that everybody should lie down. The grenade fell to the ground and exploded in the
middle of a group of persons who were standing close to the platform. Confusion ensued, and the crowd
dispersed in a panic. It was found that the fragments of the grenade had seriously injured Simeon Varela (or
Barrela ) — who died on the following day as the result of mortal wounds caused by the fragments of the
grenade (Exhibits F and F-1) — Alfredo Eva, Jose Fabio, Pedro Carrillo and Emilio Maglalang.

Guillen was arrested by members of the Police Department about two hours after the occurrence. It appears
that one Angel Garcia, who was one spectators at that meeting, saw how a person who was standing next to
him hurled an object at the platform and, after the explosion, ran away towards a barber shop located near the
platform at Plaza de Miranda. Suspecting that person was the thrower of the object that exploded, Garcia went
after him and had almost succeeded in holding him, but Guillen offered stiff resistance, got loose from Garcia
and managed to escape. Garcia pursued him, but some detectives, mistaking the former for the real criminal
and the author of the explosion, placed him under arrest. In the meantime, while the City Mayor and some
agents of the Manila Police Department were investigating the affair, one Manuel Robles volunteered the
information that the person with whom Angel Garcia was wrestling was Julio Guillen; that he (Manuel Robles)
was acquainted with Julio Guillen for the previous ten years and had seen each other in the plaza a few
moments previous to the explosion.

The police operatives interrogated Garcia and Robles, and Julio Guillen was, within two hours after the
occurrence, found in his home at 1724 Juan Luna Street, Manila, brought to the police headquarters and
identified by Angel Garcia, as the same person who hurled towards the platform the object which exploded and
whom Garcia tried to hold when he was running away.

During the investigation conducted by the police he readily admitted his responsibility, although at the same
time he tried to justify his action in throwing the bomb at President Roxas. He also indicated to his captors the
place where he had hidden his so called last will quoted above and marked Exhibit B, which was then
unsigned by him and subsequently signed at the police headquarters.

Re-enacting the crime (Exhibit C), he pointed out to the police where he had buried (Exhibit C-1) the other
hand grenade (Exhibit D), and, in the presence of witnesses he signed a statement which contained his
answers to question propounded to him by Major A. Quintos of the Manila Police, who investigated him soon
after his arrest (Exhibit E). From a perusal of his voluntary statement, we are satisfied that it tallies exactly with
the declarations and made by him on the witness stand during the trial of this case.

THE ISSUES

In the brief submitted by counsel de oficio for this appellant, several errors are assigned allegedly committed
by the trial court, namely: first, "in finding the appellant guilty of murder for the death of Simeon
Varela"; second, "in declaring the appellant guilty of the complex crime of murder and multiple frustrated
murder"; third, "in applying sub-section 1 of article 49 of the Revised Penal Code in determining the penalty to
be imposed upon the accused"; and fourth, "in considering the concurrence of the aggravating circumstances
of nocturnity and of contempt of public authorities in the commission of crime."

The evidence for the prosecution, supported by the brazen statements made by the accused, shows beyond
any shadow of doubt that, when Guillen attended that meeting, carrying with him two hand grenades, to put
into execution his preconceived plan to assassinate President Roxas, he knew fully well that, by throwing one
of those two hand grenades in his possession at President Roxas, and causing it to explode, he could not
prevent the persons who were around his main and intended victim from being killed or at least injured, due to
the highly explosive nature of the bomb employed by him to carry out his evil purpose.

Guillen, testifying in his own behalf, in answer to questions propounded by the trial judge (page 96 of
transcript) supports our conclusion. He stated that he performed the act voluntarily; that his purpose was to kill
the President, but that it did not make any difference to him if there were some people around the President
when he hurled that bomb, because the killing of those who surrounded the President was tantamount to killing
the President, in view of the fact that those persons, being loyal to the President being loyal to the President,
were identified with the latter. In other word, although it was not his main intention to kill the persons
surrounding the President, he felt no conjunction in killing them also in order to attain his main purpose of
killing the President.

The facts do not support the contention of counsel for appellant that the latter is guilty only of homicide through
reckless imprudence in regard to the death of Simeon Varela and of less serious physical injuries in regard to
Alfredo Eva, Jose Fabio, Pedro Carrillo and Emilio Maglalang, and that he should be sentenced to the
corresponding penalties for the different felonies committed, the sum total of which shall not exceed three
times the penalty to be imposed for the most serious crime in accordance with article 70 in relation to article 74
of the Revised Penal Code.

In throwing hand grenade at the President with the intention of killing him, the appellant acted with malice. He
is therefore liable for all the consequences of his wrongful act; for in accordance with article 4 of the Revised
Penal Code, criminal liability is incurred by any person committing felony (delito) although the wrongful act
done be different from that which he intended. In criminal negligence, the injury caused to another should be
unintentional, it being simply the incident of another act performed without malice. (People vs. Sara, 55 Phil.,
939.) In the words of Viada, "in order that an act may be qualified as imprudence it is necessary that either
malice nor intention to cause injury should intervene; where such intention exists, the act should qualified by
the felony it has produced even though it may not have been the intention of the actor to cause an evil of such
gravity as that produced.' (Viada's Comments on the Penal Code, vol. 7, 5th ed., p.7.) And, as held by this
Court, a deliberate intent to do an unlawful act is essentially inconsistent with the idea of reckless imprudence.
(People vs. Nanquil, 43 Phil., 232.) Where such unlawful act is wilfully done, a mistake in the identity of the
intended victim cannot be considered as reckless imprudence. (People vs. Gona, 54 Phil., 605)

Squarely on the point by counsel is the following decision of the Supreme Court of Spain:

Cuestion 62. Se presenta A, a las ocho de la noche, en el estanco de B a comprar tabaco, y


habiendose negado este a darselo al fiado, se retira a quel sin mediar entre ambos disputa alguna;
pero; trnscurrido un cuarto de hora, hallandose el estanquero despachando a C, se oye la detonacion
de un arma de fuego disparada por A desde la calle, quedando muertos en el acto C y el estanquero;
supuesta la no intencion en A de matar a C y si solo al estanquero, cabe calificar la muerte de este de
homicidio y la de c de imprudencia temeraria? — La Sala de lo Criminal de la Auudiencia de Granada
lo estimo asi, y condeno al procesado a catorse anos de reclusion por el homivcidio y a un año de
prision correctional por la imprudencia. Aparte de que la muerte del estanquero debio calificarse de
assesinato y no de homicidio, por haberse ejecutado con aleviosa. es evidente que la muerte de C,
suponiendo que no se propusiera ejecutaria el procesado, no pudo calificarse de imprudencia teme
raria, sino que tambien debio declararsele responsable de la misma, a tenor de lo puesto en este
apartado ultimo del articulo; y que siendo ambas muertes producidas por un solo hecho, o sea por un
solo disparo, debio imponerse al reo la pena del delito de asesinato en el grado maximo, a tenor de lo
dispuesto en el art. 90 del Codigo, o sea la pena de muerte. Se ve, pues, claramente que en el
antedicha sentencia, aparte de otros articulos del Codigo, se infringio por la Sala la disposicion de este
apartado ultimo del articulo muy principalmente, y asi lo declaro el Tribunal Supremo en S. de 18 junio
de 1872. (Gaceta de 1,0 de agosto.) (I Viada, 5th Ed., p. 42.)

Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code provides as follows:

Art. 48. Penalty for Complex Crimes. — When a single act constitutes two or more grave or less grave
felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for committing the other, the penalty for the most
serious crime shall be imposed, the same to be applied in its maximum period.

We think it is the above-quoted article and not paragraph 1 of article 49 that is applicable. The case before us
is clearly governed by the first clause of article 48 because by a single act, that a throwing highly explosive
hand grenade at President Roxas, the accused committed two grave felonies, namely: (1) murder, of which
Simeon Varela was the victim; and (2) multiple attempted murder, of which President Roxas, Alfredo Eva, Jose
Fabio, Pedro Carrillo and Emilio Maglalang were the injured parties.
The killing of Simeon Varela was attended by the qualifying circumstance of treachery. In the case of People
vs. Mabug-at, supra, this court held that the qualifying circumstance of treachery may be properly considered,
even when the victim of the attack was not the one whom the defendant intended to kill, if it appears from the
evidence that neither of the two persons could in any manner put up defense against the attack, or become
aware of it. In the same case it was held that the qualifying circumstance of premeditation may not be properly
taken into the account when the person whom the defendant proposed to kill was different from the one who
became his victim.

There can be no question that the accused attempted to kill President Roxas by throwing a hand grenade at
him with the intention to kill him, thereby commencing the commission of a felony by over acts, but he did not
succeed in assassinating him "by reason of some cause or accident other than his own spontaneous
desistance." For the same reason we qualify the injuries caused on the four other persons already named as
merely attempted and not frustrated murder.

In this connection, it should be stated that , although there is abundant proof that , in violation of the provisions
of article 148 of the Revised Penal Code, the accused Guillen has committed among others the offense of
assault upon a person in authority, for in fact his efforts were directed towards the execution of his main
purpose of eliminating President Roxas for his failure to redeem his electoral campaign promises, by throwing
at him in his official capacity as the Chief Executive of the nation the hand grenade in question, yet, in view of
the appropriate allegation charging Guillen with the commission of said offense, we shall refrain making a
finding to that effect.

The complex crimes of murder and multiple attempted murder committed by the accused with the single act of
throwing a hand grenade at the President, was attended by the various aggravating circumstances alleged in
the information, without any mitigating circumstance. But we do not deem it necessary to consider said
aggravating circumstances because in any event article 48 of the Revised Penal Code above-quoted requires
that the penalty for the most serious of said crimes be applied in its maximum period. The penalty for murder
is reclusion temporalin its maximum period to death. (Art. 248.)

It is our painful duty to apply the law and mete out to the accused the extreme penalty provided by it upon the
facts and circumstances hereinabove narrated.

The sentence of the trial court being correct, we have no alternative but to affirm it, and we hereby do so by a
unanimous vote. The death sentence shall be executed in accordance with article 81 of the Revised Penal
Code, under authority of the Director of Prisons, on such working day as the trial court may fix within 30 days
from the date the record shall have been remanded. It is so ordered.

Moran, C.J., Ozaeta, Paras, Pablo, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, Reyes and Torres, JJ., concur.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-24546 February 22, 1968

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ISAIAS MACALISANG, accused-appellant.

Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.


Rufino J. Abadies for accused-appellant.

SANCHEZ, J.:

The charge is murder. The judgment below sentenced appellant to life imprisonment, to indemnify the
heirs of the deceased in the sum of P6,000.00, and to pay the costs.

Following are the facts:

In the morning of November 14, 1949, two bloody incidents occurred in the town of Sinacaban, Misamis
Occidental.

About 9:00 o'clock in the morning of that day, Victoriano Simbajon, defeated candidate for Mayor of
Sinacaban, approached incumbent Mayor Sofronio Avanceña, his opponent and the victor, near the municipal
building. Victoriano Simbajon — who was then accompanied by his son, Panfilo, and his son-in-law, Arturo
Yap — while still at a distance, raised his hands apparently to signify that he accepted defeat, invited the
Mayor to ride with him in his jeep in going to a wedding party to which both were invited. Mayor Avanceña
politely declined. Simbajon and his party left, went down the slope leading to the national highway.

Sometime later, Avanceña followed by the Chief of Police, herein appellant Isaias Macalisang, and
Patrolman Liborio Dominguez left on foot, followed the same route. As they approached the highway, Simbajon
— then standing near the house of one Isabelo Plaza — again offered his jeep to Avanceña. The latter again
declined, stated that he would take the jeep of the municipal health officer. Immediately thereafter, there was a
burst of gunfire in rapid succession. Mayor Avanceña was mortally wounded; his two companions critically
wounded.

Parenthetically, for these crimes, Victoriano Simbajon, Feliciano Simbajon, Panfilo Simbajon and
Bonifacio Simbajon, in separate cases jointly tried, were prosecuted for (1) the murder of Mayor Avanceña, (2)
the frustrated murder of herein appellant Isaias Macalisang, and (3) the frustrated murder of Patrolman Liborio
Dominguez. They were all convicted below. For the crime of murder, they were all sentenced to reclusion
perpetua, and for the two other crimes, they were separately given prison terms by the trial court. Bonifacio
Simbajon did not appeal. The judgment as to the rest was affirmed by this Court on September 30, 1965 (G.R.
No. L-18073-75), with a slight modification as to the penalty for the frustrated murders.

Minutes after the incident heretofore described, Fr. William Bourke, the town parish priest, who heard the
shots, came upon the scene of the crime together with his houseboy, Benjamin Lopez, in the former's jeep. He
administered the last sacraments. Appellant Isaias Macalisang was lifted by Benjamin Lopez and placed in the
front seat of the jeep between him and Fr. Bourke, who was at the wheel. They proceeded to Ozamis City.
While the jeep was negotiating a curve in Barrio Casoy of Sinacaban, appellant Macalisang pointed his gun at
Francisco Dano, who was at the curb of the road by the mountainside, and fired. Francisco Dano was hit. The
bullet entered his back at the right of the mid-spinal line; it came out thru the right chest. He shouted to his
wife: "Help help, Day, I am hit by the gun. Help, I will die." Francisco Dano's wife, Perfecta, rushed to his side
and found that he was bleeding in front and in the back of his body. She asked Dano who shot him. Dano's
reply: "Chief Isaias Macalisang." Brought to Ozamis City, Dano expired on the same day.

Came the present prosecution for murder with the result noted at the start of this opinion.

1. That it was appellant Macalisang who fired the shot which killed Dano, we do not doubt. Upon hearing
the shot, Fr. Bourke saw the gun held by appellant still pointed at the side of the road. Benjamin Lopez testified
that he first noticed the deceased Dano some forty meters away; that as they were getting closer to Dano,
appellant took his gun from his lap, pointed it the former, fired once; that he grabbed the gun from Macalisang;
that thereafter, they proceeded to Ozamis City; and that there, Fr. Bourke took the gun from him and
surrendered it to the Philippine Constabulary. And then, there is the testimony of Perfecta vda. de Dano that
when she approached her husband, the latter told her that it was Chief Macalisang who shot him. This is in the
nature of a dying declaration. At that time, Dano felt that he was at the point of death. Indeed, he was in a very
serious condition. In fact, he died on the same day. 1

2. But appellant pleads that he was unconscious or under shock at the time the act was committed. The
factual support for this is that in the earlier incident, he received gunshot wounds "from the point of my penis
hitting my . . . (gonads) to my lap"; that his left leg was broken; that he fell into the canal. He further relates that
from then on, he lost consciousness until he was already treated at the Medina Hospital in Ozamis City. As
prop for his testimony, he presented Dr. Rico Medina, his attending physician.

The doctor's version is that appellant was in a very serious condition when brought to the hospital
because of the bullet wound he suffered at the tip of the penis that pierced the right lateral portion of the
scrotum, the bullet wound on the lower, right extremity, and loss of blood. According to the doctor, these
injuries would cause momentary unconsciousness for a length of time depending upon the resistance of the
patient. Appellant is robust. In this case, the doctor opines that "there is very big probability" that Macalisang
"during the time of the accident was unconscious." He stressed, however, that it was possible that Macalisang
could "recover consciousness after 10 minutes," could have recognized persons, and could have been in full
control of the upper extremities which were not affected at all by the wounds.

Appellant's testimony falls far short of convincing us, as it did not convince the lower court, that he did
not deliberately fire at Dano. He was, indeed, conscious at that time. When placed on the jeep, he took the
precaution of placing his service revolver on his lap. Lopez saw him take that gun and fire at Dano. The priest,
upon hearing the shot, saw appellant with the gun still pointed at the side of the road. The version of Captain
Benjamin Rafols, who interviewed appellant in the hospital furnishes the clincher. Appellant admitted to the
captain, "I was the one who shot Mr. Dano." This statement is definite, although the captain stated that
Macalisang was confused as to the shooting incident that occurred earlier in the morning.

And then, the doctor affirmed that it was possible that appellant could have regained consciousness after
10 minutes. Between the time appellant was hit by gunfire to the time the priest in his jeep came by, the
evidence is that about 10 to 15 minutes transpired. A criminal act is presumed to be voluntary. We cannot
seize upon speculation or guesswork to overturn this presumption.

At any rate, between the self-serving version of appellant and the indecisive testimony of his doctor, on
the one hand, and the positive assertion of Fr. Bourke, witness Lopez and Capt. Rafols, on the other, the
choice is clear. Fact prevails over assumption.

Absent an aboveboard explanation, the shooting must be declared voluntary and


punishable.1äwphï1.ñët

3. Treachery, according to the decision below, qualifies the crime as murder. Appellant's assertion to the
contrary is not to be slightly taken. It deserves serious consideration.
Jurisprudence has it that the mere location of the bullet wound at the back — as is the case here — by
itself, does not prove treachery. 2 Neither will suddenness of the attack alone. 3 Even if the purpose was to kill,
so long as the decision was sudden and the victim's position accidental, no treachery attaches to the killing. 4

The question of treachery perhaps may not be thoroughly understood except in the peculiar setting of
this case. Appellant knew that Dano was the chief adviser of the defeated candidate for Mayor, Victoriano
Simbajon. Dano delivered speeches against Mayor Sofronio Avanceña and wrote leaflets attacking the latter.
Chief of Police Macalisang, in turn, was a supporter of the deceased Mayor Avanceña. After Macalisang was
wounded, he did not go in search of Dano. It just so happened that on his way to Ozamis City, he saw Dano on
the road. Appellant was in a running jeep; the victim standing at the side of the road. It was an impulse of the
moment that led to the attack which caused death.

The resulting crime is not murder qualified by treachery. Because, it does not appear that "the method of
assault adopted by the aggressor was deliberately chosen with a special view to the accomplishment of the act
without risk to the assailant from any defense that the party assailed may make." 5

With treachery eliminated, the crime thus committed is homicide. The amended information charged that
appellant is a recidivist. He was really convicted of serious physical injuries and less serious physical injuries
on September 4, 1941. 6 Therefore, the homicide herein committed is attended by one aggravating
circumstance, with none in mitigation. The penalty should be reclusion temporal in the maximum period.

We, accordingly, modify the judgment appealed from, 7 and sentence defendant for the crime of
homicide to suffer imprisonment for an indeterminate period ranging from eight (8) years and one (1) day
of prision mayor, as minimum, to seventeen (17) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal,
as maximum, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Francisco Dano in the sum of P6,000.00, without
subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, but with the accessories of the law, and to pay the costs. So
ordered.

Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., Zaldivar, Castro, Angeles and Fernando,
JJ., concur.1äwphï1.ñët

Footnotes

1Section 31, Rule 130, Rules Court; 5 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963 ed., pp. 282-283.

2U.S. vs. Perdon, 4 Phil. 143-144; U. S. vs. Pangilion, 34 Phil. 786, 792-793; U. S. vs. Atig, 36 Phil.
303, 312; People vs. Abril, 51 Phil. 670, 675; People vs. Embalido 58 Phil. 152, 153.

3Ramos vs. People, 1967C Phil. 431, 436, citing Perez vs. Court of Appeals, L-13719, March 31, 1965.

4
People vs. Cadag, L-13830, May 31, 1961.

5
People vs. Cañete, 44 Phil. 478, 481, citing Viada, 2 Supp., 3d ed., p. 76; Emphasis supplied. See:
U.S. vs. Devela, 3 Phil. 625, 628; U.S. vs. Namit, 38 Phil. 926, 929; People vs. Calinawan, 83 Phil. 647,
648; People vs. Tumaob, 83 Phil. 738, 742; People vs. Abalos, 84 Phil. 771, 773; People vs.
Cadag, supra.

6CriminalCase 1984, Court of First Instance of Misamis Occidental, entitled "El Pueblo de Filipinas,
Querellante contra Isaias Macalisang, Acusado." See Exhibit D-1.

7Criminal Case 5131, Court of First Instance of Misamis Occidental, entitled "People of the Philippines,
Plaintiff, versus Isaias Macalisang, Accused."

 
Republic of the Philippines 

Supreme Court 

Manila  

SECOND DIVISION 

   

HILARIO P. SORIANO,     G.R. No. 162336 

Petitioner,       

        

‐ versus ‐     Present: 

        

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,     CARPIO, J., Chairperson, 

BANGKO SENTRAL NG     CORONA, 

PILIPINAS (BSP), PHILIPPINE     BRION, 

DEPOSIT INSURANCE     DEL CASTILLO, and 

CORPORATION (PDIC), PUBLIC     PEREZ, JJ. 

PROSECUTOR ANTONIO C.       

BUAN, and STATE       

PROSECUTOR ALBERTO R.     Promulgated: 

FONACIER,       

Respondents. [1]     February 1, 2010 

x ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ x 

D E C I S I O N  

DEL CASTILLO, J.: 

A bank officer violates the DOSRI[2] law when he acquires bank funds for his personal benefit, even if such acquisition was facilitated 
by a fraudulent loan application. Directors, officers, stockholders, and their related interests cannot be allowed to interpose the 
fraudulent nature of the loan as a defense to escape culpability for their circumvention of Section 83 of Republic Act (RA) No. 337.[3] 

Before  us  is  a  Petition  for  Review  on Certiorari[4] under  Rule  45  of  the  Rules  of  Court,  assailing  the September  26, 
2003 Decision[5] and the February 5, 2004 Resolution[6] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA‐G.R. SP No. 67657. The challenged Decision 
disposed as follows: 
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition for certiorari is hereby DENIED.[7]  

Factual Antecedents  

Sometime in 2000, the Office of Special Investigation (OSI) of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), through its officers,[8] transmitted 
a letter[9] dated March 27, 2000 to Jovencito Zuo, Chief State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The letter attached as 
annexes five affidavits,[10] which would allegedly serve as bases for filing criminal charges for Estafa thru Falsification of Commercial 
Documents,  in  relation  to  Presidential  Decree  (PD)  No.  1689,[11] and  for  Violation  of  Section  83  of  RA  337,  as  amended  by  PD 
1795,[12] against, inter alia, petitioner herein Hilario P. Soriano. These five affidavits, along with other documents, stated that spouses 
Enrico and Amalia Carlos appeared to have an outstanding loan of P8 million with the Rural Bank of San Miguel (Bulacan), Inc. 
(RBSM), but had never applied for nor received such loan; that it was petitioner, who was then president of RBSM, who had ordered, 
facilitated, and received the proceeds of the loan; and that the P8 million loan had never been authorized by RBSM's Board of 
Directors and no report thereof had ever been submitted to the Department of Rural Banks, Supervision and Examination Sector of 
the  BSP. The  letter  of the OSI, which was  not subscribed under  oath,  ended with  a request that  a  preliminary investigation  be 
conducted and the corresponding criminal charges be filed against petitioner at his last known address. 

Acting on the letter‐request and its annexes, State Prosecutor Albert R. Fonacier proceeded with the preliminary investigation. He 
issued a subpoena with the witnesses affidavits and supporting documents attached, and required petitioner to file his counter‐
affidavit. In due course, the investigating officer issued a Resolution finding probable cause and correspondingly filed two separate 
informations against petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan.[13] 

The  first  Information,[14] dated November  14,  2000 and  docketed  as  Criminal  Case  No.  237‐M‐2001,  was  for  estafa  through 
falsification of commercial documents, under Article 315, paragraph 1(b), of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), in relation to Article 172 
of the RPC and PD 1689. It basically alleged that petitioner and his co‐accused, in abuse of the confidence reposed in them as RBSM 
officers, caused the falsification of a number of loan documents, making it appear that one Enrico Carlos filled up the same, and 
thereby succeeded in securing a loan and converting the loan proceeds for their personal gain and benefit.[15] The information reads: 

That  in  or  about  the  month  of  April,  1997,  and  thereafter,  in  San  Miguel,  Bulacan,  and  within  the 
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused HILARIO P. SORIANO and ROSALINDA ILAGAN, as principals 
by  direct  participation,  with  unfaithfulness  or  abuse  of  confidence  and  taking  advantage  of  their  position  as 
President of the Rural Bank of San Miguel (Bulacan), Inc. and Branch Manager of the Rural Bank of San Miguel San 
Miguel  Branch  [sic], a  duly  organized  banking  institution  under  Philippine  Laws,  conspiring,  confederating  and 
mutually helping one another, did then and there, willfully and feloniously falsify loan documents consisting of 
undated loan application/information sheet, credit proposal dated April 14, 1997, credit proposal dated April 22, 
1997, credit investigation report dated April 15, 1997, promissory note dated April 23, 1997, disclosure statement 
on loan/credit transaction dated April 23, 1997, and other related documents, by making it appear that one Enrico 
Carlos filled up the application/information sheet and filed the aforementioned loan documents when in truth and 
in  fact  Enrico  Carlos  did  not  participate  in  the  execution  of  said  loan  documents  and  that  by  virtue  of  said 
falsification and with deceit and intent to cause damage, the accused succeeded in securing a loan in the amount 
of eight million pesos (PhP8,000,000.00) from the Rural Bank of San Miguel San Ildefonso branch in the name of 
Enrico Carlos which amount of PhP8 million representing the loan proceeds the accused thereafter converted the 
same  amount  to  their  own  personal  gain  and  benefit,  to  the  damage  and  prejudice  of  the  Rural  Bank  of  San 
Miguel San Ildefonso branch, its creditors, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Philippine Deposit Insurance 
Corporation. 
CONTRARY TO LAW.[16] 

The other Information[17] dated November 10, 2000 and docketed as Criminal Case No. 238‐M‐2001, was for violation of Section 83 
of RA 337, as amended by PD 1795. The said provision refers to the prohibition against the so‐called DOSRI loans. The information 
alleged that, in his capacity as President of RBSM, petitioner indirectly secured an P8 million loan with RBSM, for his personal use 
and benefit, without the written consent and approval of the bank's Board of Directors, without entering the said transaction in the 
bank's  records,  and  without  transmitting  a  copy  of  the  transaction  to  the  supervising  department  of  the  bank.  His  ruse  was 
facilitated by placing the loan in the name of an unsuspecting RBSM depositor, one Enrico Carlos.[18] The information reads: 

That in or about the month of April, 1997, and thereafter, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the said accused, in his capacity as President of the Rural Bank of San Miguel (Bulacan), Inc., did then and
there, willfully and feloniously indirectly borrow or secure a loan with the Rural Bank of San Miguel San Ildefonso
branch, a domestic rural banking institution created, organized and existing under Philippine laws, amounting to
eight million pesos (PhP8,000,000.00), knowing fully well that the same has been done by him without the written
consent and approval of the majority of the board of directors of the said bank, and which consent and approval the
said accused deliberately failed to obtain and enter the same upon the records of said banking institution and to
transmit a copy thereof to the supervising department of the said bank, as required by the General Banking Act, by
using the name of one depositor Enrico Carlos of San Miguel, Bulacan, the latter having no knowledge of the said
loan, and one in possession of the said amount of eight million pesos (PhP8,000,000.00), accused converted the
same to his own personal use and benefit, in flagrant violation of the said law.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[19]

Both cases were raffled to Branch 79 of the RTC of Malolos, Bulacan.[20]

On June 8, 2001, petitioner moved to quash[21] these informations on two grounds: that the court had no jurisdiction over the offense

charged, and that the facts charged do not constitute an offense.

On the first ground, petitioner argued that the letter transmitted by the BSP to the DOJ constituted the complaint and hence was

defective for failure to comply with the mandatory requirements of Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, such as the statement

of address of petitioner and oath and subscription.[22] Moreover, petitioner argued that the officers of OSI, who were the signatories to

the letter-complaint, were not authorized by the BSP Governor, much less by the Monetary Board, to file the complaint. According to

petitioner, this alleged fatal oversight violated Section 18, pars. (c) and (d) of the New Central Bank Act (RA 7653).

On the second ground, petitioner contended that the commission of estafa under paragraph 1(b) of Article 315 of the RPC is

inherently incompatible with the violation of DOSRI law (as set out in Section 83[23] of RA 337, as amended by PD 1795),[24] hence a

person cannot be charged for both offenses. He argued that a violation of DOSRI law requires the offender to obtain a loan from his

bank, without complying with procedural, reportorial, or ceiling requirements. On the other hand, estafa under par. 1(b), Article 315 of

the RPC requires the offender to misappropriate or convert something that he holds in trust, or on commission, or for

administration, or under any other obligation involving the duty to return the same.[25]
Essentially, the petitioner theorized that the characterization of possession is different in the two offenses. If petitioner

acquired the loan as DOSRI, he owned the loaned money and therefore, cannot misappropriate or convert it as contemplated in the

offense of estafa. Conversely, if petitioner committed estafa, then he merely held the money in trust for someone else and therefore,

did not acquire a loan in violation of DOSRI rules.

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

In an Order[26] dated August 8, 2001, the trial court denied petitioner's Motion to Quash for lack of merit. The lower court agreed with

the prosecution that the assailed OSI letter was not the complaint-affidavit itself; thus, it need not comply with the requirements under

the Rules of Court. The trial court held that the affidavits, which were attached to the OSI letter, comprised the complaint-affidavit in

the case. Since these affidavits were duly subscribed and sworn to before a notary public, there was adequate compliance with the

Rules. The trial court further held that the two offenses were separate and distinct violations, hence the prosecution of one did not pose

a bar to the other.[27]

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied in an Order dated September 5, 2001.[28]

Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari[29] with the CA, reiterating his arguments before the trial court.
 

Ruling of the Court of Appeals 

  

The CA denied the petition on both issues presented by petitioner. 

  

On the first issue, the CA determined that the BSP letter, which petitioner characterized to be a fatally infirm complaint, was not 
actually a complaint, but a transmittal or cover letter only. This transmittal letter merely contained a summary of the affidavits 
which were attached to it. It did not contain any averment of personal knowledge of the events and transactions that constitute the 
elements of the offenses charged. Being a mere transmittal letter, it need not comply with the requirements of Section 3(a) of Rule 
112 of the Rules of Court.[30] 

  

The CA further determined that the five affidavits attached to the transmittal letter should be considered as the complaint‐affidavits 
that charged petitioner with violation of Section 83 of RA 337 and for Estafa thru Falsification of Commercial Documents. These 
complaint‐affidavits complied with the mandatory requirements set out in the Rules of Court they were subscribed and sworn to 
before a notary public  and  subsequently certified by  State Prosecutor Fonacier, who personally examined the affiants and was 
convinced that the affiants fully understood their sworn statements.[31] 

Anent the second ground, the CA found no merit in petitioner's argument that the violation of the DOSRI law and the commission of 
estafa  thru  falsification  of  commercial  documents  are  inherently  inconsistent  with  each  other. It  explained  that  the  test  in 
considering a motion to quash on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, is whether the facts alleged, when 
hypothetically admitted, constitute the elements of the offense charged. The appellate court held that this test was sufficiently met 
because the allegations in the assailed informations, when hypothetically admitted, clearly constitute the elements of Estafa thru 
Falsification of Commercial Documents and Violation of DOSRI law.[32] 

Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[33] was likewise denied for lack of merit. 

Hence, this petition. 

Issues 

Restated, petitioner raises the following issues[34] for our consideration:  

Whether the complaint complied with the mandatory requirements provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the 
Rules of Court and Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of RA 7653. 

II 

Whether a loan transaction within the ambit of the DOSRI law (violation of Section 83 of RA 337, as amended) 
could also be the subject of Estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code. 

III 

Is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 the proper remedy against an Order denying a Motion to Quash? 

IV 

Whether petitioner is entitled to a writ of injunction.  

Our Ruling 

The petition lacks merit. 

First Issue: 

Whether the complaint complied with the mandatory requirements provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of 
the Rules of Court and Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of 

Republic Act No. 7653 

Petitioner moved to withdraw the first issue from the instant petition 

  
On March 5, 2007, the Court noted[35] petitioner's Manifestation and Motion for Partial Withdrawal of the Petition[36] dated February 
7,  2007. In  the  said  motion,  petitioner  informed  the  Court  of  the  promulgation  of  a  Decision  entitledSoriano  v.  Hon. 
Casanova,[37] which also involved petitioner and similar BSP letters to the DOJ. According to petitioner, the said Decision allegedly 
ruled squarely on the nature of the BSP letters and the validity of the sworn affidavits attached thereto. For this reason, petitioner 
moved for the partial withdrawal of the instant petition insofar as it involved the issue of whether or not a court can legally acquire 
jurisdiction over a complaint which failed to comply with the mandatory requirements provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the 
Rules of Court and Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of RA 7653.[38] 

Given that the case had already been submitted for resolution of the Court when petitioner filed his latest motion, and that all 
respondents had presented their positions and arguments on the first issue, the Court deems it proper to rule on the same. 

In Soriano  v.  Hon.  Casanova,  the  Court  held  that  the affidavits 


attached to the BSP transmittal letter complied with the mandatory 
requirements under the Rules of Court.  

To  be  sure,  the  BSP  letters  involved  in Soriano  v.  Hon.  Casanova[39] are not the  same  as  the  BSP  letter  involved  in  the  instant 
case. However, the BSP letters in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova and the BSP letter subject of this case are similar in the sense that they 
are all signed by the OSI officers of the BSP, they were not sworn to by the said officers, they all contained summaries of their 
attached affidavits, and they all requested the conduct of a preliminary investigation and the filing of corresponding criminal charges 
against petitioner Soriano. Thus, the principle of stare decisis dictates that the ruling in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova be applied in the 
instant case once a question of law has been examined and decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further argument.[40] 

We held in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova, after a close scrutiny of the letters transmitted by the BSP to the DOJ, that these were 
not intended to be the complaint, as envisioned under the Rules. They did not contain averments of personal knowledge of the 
events and transactions constitutive of any offense. The letters merely transmitted for preliminary investigation the affidavits of 
people who had personal knowledge of the acts of petitioner. We ruled that these affidavits, not the letters transmitting them, 
initiated  the  preliminary  investigation. Since  these  affidavits  were  subscribed  under  oath  by  the  witnesses  who  executed  them 
before a notary public, then there was substantial compliance with Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.  

Anent the contention that there was no authority from the BSP Governor or the Monetary Board to file a criminal case against 
Soriano, we held that the requirements of Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of RA 7653 did not apply because the BSP did not 
institute the complaint but merely transmitted the affidavits of the complainants to the DOJ. 

We further held that since the offenses for which Soriano was charged were public crimes, authority holds that it can be initiated by 
any competent person with personal knowledge of the acts committed by the offender. Thus, the witnesses who executed the 
affidavits clearly fell within the purview of any competent person who may institute the complaint for a public crime. 

The  ruling  in Soriano  v.  Hon.  Casanova has  been  adopted  and  elaborated  upon  in  the  recent  case  of Santos‐Concio  v. 
Department of Justice.[41] Instead of a transmittal letter from the BSP, the Court in Santos‐Concio was faced with an NBI‐NCR Report, 
likewise  with  affidavits  of  witnesses  as  attachments. Ruling  on  the  validity  of  the  witnesses  sworn  affidavits  as  bases  for  a 
preliminary investigation, we held: 

  
The Court is not unaware of the practice of incorporating all allegations in one document denominated as 
complaint‐affidavit. It does not pronounce strict adherence to only one approach, however, for there are cases 
where the extent of ones personal knowledge may not cover the entire gamut of details material to the alleged 
offense.  The private offended party or relative of the deceased may not even have witnessed the fatality, in which 
case  the  peace  officer  or  law  enforcer  has  to  rely  chiefly  on  affidavits  of  witnesses.   The  Rules  do  not  in  fact 
preclude  the  attachment  of  a  referral  or  transmittal  letter  similar  to  that  of  the  NBI‐NCR.   Thus,  in Soriano  v. 
Casanova, the Court held: 

              A  close  scrutiny  of  the letters  transmitted by  the  BSP  and  PDIC  to  the  DOJ  shows  that 
these were not intended  to  be the complaint  envisioned  under  the  Rules.   It  may  be  clearly 
inferred from the tenor of the letters that the officers merely intended to transmit the affidavits 
of the bank employees to the DOJ.  Nowhere in the transmittal letters is there any averment on 
the  part  of  the  BSP  and  PDIC  officers  of  personal  knowledge  of  the  events  and  transactions 
constitutive of the criminal  violations  alleged to have  been made  by  the  accused. In fact, the 
letters clearly stated that what the OSI of the BSP and the LIS of the PDIC did was to respectfully 
transmit to the DOJ for preliminary investigation the affidavits and personal knowledge of the 
acts  of  the  petitioner. These  affidavits  were  subscribed  under  oath  by  the  witnesses  who 
executed them before a notary public.  Since the  affidavits,  not  the  letters  transmitting them, 
were intended to initiate the preliminary investigation, we hold that Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the 
Rules of Court was substantially complied with. 

             Citing the ruling of this Court in Ebarle v. Sucaldito, the Court of Appeals correctly held 
that a complaint for purposes of preliminary investigation by the fiscal need not be filed by the 
offended party.  The rule has been that, unless the offense subject thereof is one that cannot be 
prosecuted de  oficio, the  same  may  be  filed,  for  preliminary  investigation  purposes,  by any 
competent  person.   The  crime  of  estafa  is  a  public  crime  which  can  be  initiated  by  any 
competent  person.   The  witnesses  who  executed  the  affidavits  based  on  their  personal 
knowledge of the acts committed by the petitioner fall within the purview of any competent 
person who may institute the complaint for a public crime. x x x (Emphasis and italics supplied)    

         

     A  preliminary  investigation  can  thus  validly  proceed  on  the  basis  of  an  affidavit  of  any competent  person, 
without the referral document, like the NBI‐NCR Report, having been sworn to by the law enforcer as the nominal 
complainant.  To require otherwise is a needless exercise.  The cited case of Oporto, Jr. v. Judge Monserate does 
not appear to dent this proposition.  After all, what is required is to reduce the evidence into affidavits, for while 
reports and even raw information may justify the initiation of an investigation, the preliminary investigation stage 
can  be  held  only  after  sufficient  evidence  has  been  gathered  and  evaluated  which  may  warrant  the  eventual 
prosecution of the case in court.[42] 

 Following the foregoing rulings in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova and Santos‐Concio v. Department of Justice, we hold that the BSP letter, 
taken together with the affidavits attached thereto, comply with the requirements provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the 
Rules of Court and Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of RA 7653. 

 
Second Issue:  

Whether a loan transaction within the ambit of the DOSRI law (violation of Section 83 of RA 337, as amended) 
could be the subject of Estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the 

Revised Penal Code 

The second issue was raised by petitioner in the context of his Motion to Quash Information on the ground that the facts 
charged do not constitute an offense.[43] It is settled that in considering a motion to quash on such ground, the test is whether the 
facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted, would establish the essential elements of the offense charged as defined by law. The trial 
court may not consider a situation  contrary to that set forth in the criminal complaint or information. Facts that constitute  the 
defense  of  the  petitioner[s]  against  the  charge  under  the  information  must  be  proved  by  [him]  during  trial.  Such  facts  or 
circumstances do not constitute proper grounds for a motion to quash the information on the ground that the material averments 
do not constitute the offense. [44] 

We  have  examined  the  two  informations  against  petitioner  and  we  find  that  they  contain  allegations  which,  if  hypothetically 
admitted,  would  establish  the  essential  elements  of  the  crime  of  DOSRI  violation  and  estafa  thru  falsification  of  commercial 
documents. 

In Criminal Case No. 238‐M‐2001 for violation of DOSRI rules, the information alleged that petitioner Soriano was the president of 
RBSM; that he was able to indirectly obtain a loan from RBSM by putting the loan in the name of depositor Enrico Carlos; and that 
he did this without complying with the requisite board approval, reportorial, and ceiling requirements. 

In Criminal Case No. 237‐M‐2001 for estafa thru falsification of commercial documents, the information alleged that petitioner, by 
taking advantage of his position as president of RBSM, falsified various loan documents to make it appear that an Enrico Carlos 
secured a loan of P8 million from RBSM; that petitioner succeeded in obtaining the loan proceeds; that he later converted the loan 
proceeds to his own personal gain and benefit; and that his action caused damage and prejudice to RBSM, its creditors, the BSP, and 
the PDIC. 

Significantly,  this  is  not  the  first  occasion  that  we  adjudge  the  sufficiency  of  similarly  worded  informations. In Soriano  v. 
People,[45] involving the same petitioner in this case (but different transactions), we also reviewed the sufficiency of informations for 
DOSRI violation and estafa thru falsification of commercial documents, which were almost identical, mutatis mutandis, with the 
subject informations herein. We held in Soriano v. People that there is no basis for the quashal of the informations as they contain 
material allegations charging Soriano with violation of DOSRI rules and estafa thru falsification of commercial documents. 

Petitioner raises the theory that he could not possibly be held liable for estafa in concurrence with the charge for DOSRI 
violation. According  to  him,  the  DOSRI  charge  presupposes  that  he  acquired  a  loan,  which  would  make  the  loan  proceeds 
his own money and which he could neither possibly misappropriate nor convert to the prejudice of another, as required by the 
statutory definition of estafa.[46] On the other hand, if petitioner did not acquire any loan, there can be no DOSRI violation to speak 
of. Thus, petitioner posits that the two offenses cannot co‐exist. This theory does not persuade us. 

Petitioners theory is based on the false premises that the loan was extended to him by the bank in his own name, and that 
he became the owner of the loan proceeds. Both premises are wrong. 

  
The  bank  money  (amounting  to P8  million)  which  came  to  the  possession  of  petitioner  was  money  held  in  trust or 
administration by him for the bank, in his  

fiduciary  capacity  as  the  President  of  said  bank.[47] It  is  not  accurate  to  say  that  petitioner  became  the  owner  of  the P8  million 
because  it  was  the  proceeds  of  a  loan. That  would  have  been  correct  if  the  bank knowingly extended  the  loan  to  petitioner 
himself. But that is not the case here. According to the information for estafa, the loan was supposed to be for another person, a 
certain Enrico Carlos; petitioner, through falsification, made it appear that said Enrico Carlos applied for the loan when in fact he 
(Enrico  Carlos)  did  not. Through  such  fraudulent  device,  petitioner  obtained  the  loan  proceeds  and  converted  the  same. Under 
these circumstances, it cannot be said that petitioner became the legalowner of the P8 million. Thus, petitioner remained the banks 
fiduciary with respect to that money, which makes it capable of misappropriation or conversion in his hands. 

The next question is whether there can also be, at the same time, a charge for DOSRI violation in such a situation wherein 
the accused bank officer did not secure a loan in his own name, but was alleged to have used the name of another person in order 
to indirectly secure a loan from the bank. We answer this in the affirmative. Section 83 of RA 337 reads: 

Section 83. No director or officer of any banking institution shall, either directly or indirectly, for himself or 
as the representative or agent of others, borrow any of the deposits of funds of such bank, nor shall he become a 
guarantor, indorser, or surety for loans from such bank to others, or in any manner be an obligor  for moneys 
borrowed from the bank or loaned by it, except with the written approval of the majority of the directors of the 
bank, excluding the director concerned. Any such approval shall be entered upon the records of the corporation 
and a copy of such entry shall be transmitted forthwith to the Superintendent of Banks. The office of any director 
or officer of a bank who violates the provisions of this section shall immediately become vacant and the director or 
officer shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than ten years and by a fine of not 
less than one thousand nor more than ten thousand pesos. x x x  

The prohibition in Section 83 is broad enough to cover various modes of borrowing.[48] It covers loans by a bank director or officer
(like herein petitioner) which are made either: (1) directly, (2) indirectly, (3) for himself, (4) or as the representative or agent of others.
It applies even if the director or officer is a mere guarantor, indorser or surety for someone else's loan or is in any manner an obligor
for money borrowed from the bank or loaned by it. The covered transactions are prohibited unless the approval, reportorial and
ceiling requirements under Section 83 are complied with. The prohibition is intended to protect the public, especially the depositors,[49]
from the overborrowing of bank funds by bank officers, directors, stockholders and related interests, as such overborrowing may lead
to bank failures.[50] It has been said that banking institutions are not created for the benefit of the directors [or officers]. While directors
have great powers as directors, they have no special privileges as individuals. They cannot use the assets of the bank for their own
benefit except as permitted by law. Stringent restrictions are placed about them so that when acting both for the bank and for one of
themselves at the same time, they must keep within certain prescribed lines regarded by the legislature as essential to safety in the
banking business.[51]

A direct borrowing is obviously one that is made in the name of the DOSRI himself or where the DOSRI is a named party, 
while an indirect borrowing includes one that is made by a third party, but the DOSRI has a stake in the transaction.[52] The latter type 
indirect borrowing applies here. The information in Criminal Case 238‐M‐2001 alleges that petitioner in his capacity as President of 
Rural Bank of San Miguel San Ildefonso branch x x x indirectlyborrow[ed] or secure[d] a loan with [RBSM] x x x knowing fully well 
that the same has been done by him without the written consent and approval of the majority of the board of directors x x x, and 
which consent and approval the said accused deliberately failed to obtain and enter the same upon the records of said banking 
institution and to transmit a copy thereof to the supervising department of the said bank x x x by using the name of one depositor 
Enrico Carlos x x x, the latter having no knowledge of the said loan, and once in possession of the said amount of eight million pesos 
(P8 million), [petitioner] converted the same to his own personal use and benefit.[53]  

The foregoing information describes the manner of securing the loan as indirect; names petitioner as the benefactor of the 
indirect loan; and states that the requirements of the law were not complied with. It contains all the required elements[54] for a 
violation of Section 83, even if petitioner did not secure the loan in his own name. 

 The broad interpretation of the prohibition in Section 83 is justified by the fact that it even expressly covers loans to third 
parties where the third parties are aware of the transaction (such as principals represented by the DOSRI), and where the DOSRIs 
interest does not appear to be beneficial but even burdensome (such as in cases when the DOSRI acts as a mere guarantor or 
surety). If the law finds it necessary to protect the bank and the banking system in such situations, it will surely be illogical for it to 
exclude  a  case  like  this  where  the  DOSRI  acted for his  own  benefit,  using  the name  of  an  unsuspecting  person. A  contrary 
interpretation will effectively allow a DOSRI to use dummies to circumvent the requirements of the law. 

In sum, the informations filed against petitioner do not negate each other. 

Third Issue:
 
Is a Rule 65 petition for certiorari the proper remedy against

an Order denying a Motion to Quash?  

This issue may be speedily resolved by adopting our ruling in Soriano v. People,[55] where we held:

In fine, the Court has consistently held that a special civil action for certiorari is not the proper remedy to
assail the denial of a motion to quash an information. The proper procedure in such a case is for the accused to enter
a plea, go to trial without prejudice on his part to present the special defenses he had invoked in his motion to quash
and if after trial on the merits, an adverse decision is rendered, to appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by
law. Thus, petitioners should not have forthwith filed a special civil action for certiorari with the CA and instead,
they should have gone to trial and reiterated the special defenses contained in their motion to quash. There are no
special or exceptional circumstances in the present case that would justify immediate resort to a filing of a petition
for certiorari. Clearly, the CA did not commit any reversible error, much less, grave abuse of discretion in
dismissing the petition.[56]
  

Fourth Issue:  

Whether petitioner is entitled to a writ of injunction 

The requisites to justify an injunctive relief are: (1) the right of the complainant is clear and unmistakable; (2) the invasion of the right 
sought to be protected is material and substantial; and (3) there is an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to prevent 
serious damage. A clear legal right means one clearly founded in or granted by law or is enforceable as a matter of law. Absent any 
clear and unquestioned legal right, the issuance of an injunctive writ would constitute grave abuse of discretion.[57] Caution and 
prudence must, at all times, attend the issuance of an injunctive writ because it effectively disposes of the main case without trial 
and/or due process.[58] In Olalia v. Hizon,[59] the Court held as follows: 

  
It has been consistently held that there is no power the exercise of which is more delicate, which requires 
greater caution, deliberation and sound discretion, or more dangerous in a doubtful case, than the issuance of an 
injunction. It is the strong arm of equity that should never be extended unless to  cases of great injury, where 
courts of law cannot afford an adequate or commensurate remedy in damages. 

Every  court  should  remember  that  an  injunction  is  a  limitation  upon  the  freedom  of  action  of  the 
[complainant] and should not be granted lightly or precipitately. It should be granted only when the court is fully 
satisfied that the law permits it and the emergency demands it. 

Given this Court's findings in the earlier issues of the instant case, we find no compelling reason to grant the injunctive relief sought 

by petitioner.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed September 26, 2003 Decision as well as the February 5, 2004 Resolution of the 

Court of Appeals in CA‐G.R. SP No. 67657 are AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.

 
SO ORDERED.

MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO 

Associate Justice 

WE CONCUR:

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson

RENATO C. CORONA ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice Associate Justice

JOSE P. PEREZ

Associate Justice

ATTESTATION

I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the

opinion of the Court's Division.


ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Associate Justice

Chairperson, Second Division

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairperson's attestation, it is hereby certified that the

conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the

Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO

Chief Justice
 


In lieu of Associate Justice Roberto A. Abad who is on leave per Special Order No. 812 dated January 4, 2010.
[1]
The Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 filed before the Court erroneously included Judge Arturo G. Tayag among its public
respondents. We have deleted his name in the case title in accordance with Section 4 (a), Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which reads:
Sec. 4 Contents of petition. -- The petition shall be filed in eighteen (18) copies, with the original copy intended for the court being
indicated as such by the petitioner, and shall (a) state the full name of the appealing party as the petitioner and the adverse party as
respondent, without impleading the lower courts or judges thereof either as petitioners or respondents; x x x (Emphasis supplied)
[2]
Director, Officer, Stockholder and Related Interest.
[3]
The General Banking Act.
[4]
Rollo, pp. 10-23.
[5]
Id. at 25-36; penned by Associate Justice Arsenio J. Magpale and concurred in by Associate Justices Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr. and Bienvenido L.
Reyes.
[6]
Id. at 38-39.
[7]
Id. at 36.
[8]
Bank Attorney III Jose R. Fajardo, Deputy Director Alfonso C. Peaco IV, and Director Vicente S. Aquino. CA rollo, p. 36.
[9]
Id. at 34-36.
[10]
Id. at 288-328.
[11]
Increasing the Penalty for Certain Forms of Swindling or Estafa.
[12]
Amending Further Republic Act No. 337, As Amended, Otherwise Known as the General Banking Act.
[13]
CA rollo, pp. 38-39.
[14]
Id. at 21-23.
[15]
Id.
[16]
Id. at 21-22.
[17]
Id. at 24-26.
[18]
Id.
[19]
Id. at 24-25.
[20]
Presided by Hon. Arturo G. Tayag but subsequently raffled off to Branch 17, Regional Trial Court, Malolos, Bulacan, presided by
Judge Ma. Theresa V. Mendoza- Arcega, rollo, p. 838.
[21]
CA rollo, pp. 27-33.
[22]
Id. at 28-29.
[23]
 Sec. 83. No director or officer of any banking institution shall, either directly or indirectly, for himself or as the representative or 
agent of others, borrow any of the deposits of funds of such bank, nor shall he become a guarantor, indorser, or surety for loans 
from such bank to others, or in any manner be an obligor for moneys borrowed from the bank or loaned by it, except with the written 
approval  of  the  majority  of  the  directors  of  the  bank,  excluding  the  director  concerned. Any  such  approval  shall  be entered  upon  the 
records of the corporation and a copy of such entry shall be transmitted forthwith to the Superintendent of Banks. The office of 
any director or officer of a bank who violates the provisions of this section shall immediately become vacant and the director or 
officer shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than ten years and by a fine of nopan> CA rollo, pp. 
30‐31. 
[26]
Id. at 17-19.
[27]
Id. at 18-19.
[28]
Id. at 20.
[29]
Id. at 2-16.
[30]
Rollo, pp. 30-31.
[31]
Id. at 31-32.
[32]
Id. at 35.
[33]
CA rollo, pp. 363-372.
[34]
Rollo, p. 855.
[35]
Id. at 887.
[36]
Id. at 880-886.
[37]
G.R. No. 163400, March 31, 2006, 486 SCRA 431.
[38]
Rollo, pp. 881-883.
[39]
Supra note 36.
[40]
Ting v. Velez-Ting, G.R. No. 166562, March 31, 2009, 582 SCRA 694.
[41]
G.R. No. 175057, January 29, 2008, 543 SCRA 70.
[42]
Id. at 84-85.
[43]
CA rollo, pp. 30-31.
[44]
Soriano v. People, G.R. Nos. 159517-18, June 30, 2009, 591 SCRA 244, 257-258, citing Caballero v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 137355-58,
September 25, 2007, 534 SCRA 30, 43 and Torres v. Hon. Garchitorena, 442 Phil. 765, 777 (2002).
[45]
Id. at 257.
[46]
Rollo, p. 864.
[47]
FLETCHER CYCLOPEDIA OF THE LAW OF CORPORATIONS 838 (perm. ed., 1986 rev. vol.) states that:
At common law, and by the modern current of authority in this country, and in England, the directors of a private corporation, while not
regarded as trustees in the strict, technical sense, are considered in equity as bearing a fiduciary relation to the corporation and its
stockholders. In other words, it is universally recognized that courts of equity treat the relationship of director and stockholders as a
trusteeship, in order to determine the rights, duties and liabilities of the directors; x x x Moreover, these rules should be applied even
more stringently to an officer and director of a bank who should be concerned with the welfare of depositors as well as that of
customers and stockholders. The law demands the fullest disclosure and fair dealing by a director or officer in his relations with a
bank. Thus, in the discharge of his high trust the law holds a bank president to standards of probity and fidelity more lofty than those
of the market place. These high standards this court is not disposed to whittle down. (Citations omitted and emphasis added)
[48]
Go v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, G.R. No. 178429, October 23, 2009.
[49]
Id.
[50]
10 Am Jur 2d, Banks, Section 239.
[51]
People v. Knapp, 206 NY 373, a case cited in Go v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, supra.
[52]
People v. Concepcion, 44 Phil. 126 (1922).
[53]
CA rollo, pp. 24-25.
[54]
In Go v. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, supra note 47, the elements of a DOSRI law violation were enumerated:
1. the offender is a director or officer of any banking institution;
2. the offender, either directly or indirectly, for himself or as representative or agent of another, performs any of the following
acts:
a. he borrows any of the deposits or funds of such bank; or
b. he becomes a guarantor, indorser, or surety for loans from such bank to others, or
c. he becomes in any manner an obligor for money borrowed from bank or loaned by it;
3. the offender has performed any of such acts without the written approval of the majority of the directors of the bank, excluding
the offender, as the director concerned.
[55]
d=ftn57>
[56]
Id. at 261.
[57]
Boncodin v. National Power Corporation Employees Consolidated Union (NECU), G.R. No. 162716, September 27, 2006, 503 SCRA 611, 622-
623.
[58]
F. REGALADO, REMEDIAL LAW COMPENDIUM, Vol. I, p. 639 (7th revised ed., 1999).
[59]
274 Phil. 66, 75-76 (1991).
 

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 80762 March 19, 1990

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
FAUSTA GONZALES, AUGUSTO GONZALES, CUSTODIO GONZALES, SR., CUSTODIO GONZALES, JR.,
NERIO GONZALES and ROGELIO LANIDA, accused, CUSTODIO GONZALES, SR., accused-appellant.

SARMIENTO, J.:

In a decision 1 dated October 31, 1984, the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo, Branch XXXVIII (38), in Criminal Case
No. 13661, entitled "People of the Philippines vs. Fausta Gonzales, Augusto Gonzales, Custodia Gonzales,
Custodio Gonzales, Jr., Nerio Gonzales and Rogelio Lanida," found all the accused, except Rogelio Lanida
who eluded arrest and up to now has remain at large and not yet arrained, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of murder as defined under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. They were sentenced "to suffer
the penalty of imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) months
of reclusion temporal, to indemnify the heirs of the deceased victim in the amount of P40,000.00, plus moral
damages in the sum of P14,000.00 and to pay the costs." 2 The victim was Lloyd Peñacerrada, 44, landowner,
and a resident of Barangay Aspera, Sara, Iloilo.

Through their counsel, all the accused, except of course Rogelio Lanida, filed a notice of appeal from the trial
court's decision. During the pendency of their appeal and before judgment thereon could be rendered by the
Court of Appeals, however, all the accused-appellants, except Custodio Gonzales, Sr., withdrew their appeal
and chose instead to pursue their respective applications for parole before the then Ministry, now Department,
of Justice, Parole Division. 3

On October 27, 1987, the Court of Appeals rendered a decision 4 on the appeal of Custodio Gonzales, Sr. It
modified the appealed decision in that the lone appellant was sentenced to reclusion perpetua and to
indemnify the heirs of Lloyd Peñacerrada in the amount of P30,000.00. In all other respect, the decision of the
trial court was affirmed. Further, on the basis of our ruling in People vs. Ramos, 5 the appellate court certified
this case to us for review. 6

The antecedent facts are as follows:

At around 9:00 o'clock in the evening of February 21, 1981, Bartolome Paja, the barangay captain of Barangay
Tipacla, Ajuy, Iloilo, was awakened from his sleep by the spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales. Augusto
informed Paja that his wife had just killed their landlord, Lloyd Peñacerrada, and thus would like to surrender to
the authorities. Seeing Augusto still holding the knife allegedly used in the killing and Fausta with her dress
smeared with blood, Paja immediately ordered a nephew of his to take the spouses to the police authorities at
the Municipal Hall in Poblacion, Ajuy. As instructed, Paja's nephew brought the Gonzales spouses, who
"backrode" on his motorcycle, to the municipal building. 7 Upon reaching the Ajuy Police sub-station, the
couple informed the police on duty of the incident. That same night, Patrolman Salvador Centeno of the Ajuy
Police Force and the Gonzales spouses went back to Barangay Tipacla. Reaching Barangay Tipacla the group
went to Paja's residence where Fausta was made to stay, while Paja, Patrolman Centeno, and Augusto
proceeded to the latter's residence at Sitio Nabitasan where the killing incident allegedly occurred. 8 There they
saw the lifeless body of Lloyd Peñacerrada, clad only in an underwear, sprawled face down inside the
bedroom. 9 The group stayed for about an hour during which time Patrolman Centeno inspected the scene and
started to make a rough sketch thereof and the immediate surroundings. 10 The next day, February 22, 1981,
at around 7:00 o'clock in the morning, Patrolman Centeno, accompanied by a photographer, went back to the
scene of the killing to conduct further investigations. Fausta Gonzales, on the other hand, was brought back
that same day by Barangay Captain Paja to the police substation in Ajuy. When Patrolman Centeno and his
companion arrived at Sitio Nabitasan, two members of the 321st P.C. Company stationed in Sara, Iloilo, who
had likewise been informed of the incident, were already there conducting their own investigation. Patrolman
Centeno continued with his sketch; photographs of the scene were likewise taken. The body of the victim was
then brought to the Municipal Hall of Ajuy for autopsy.

The autopsy of Lloyd Peñacerrada's cadaver was performed at about 11:20 a.m. on February 22, 1981; after
completed, a report was made with the following findings:

PHYSICAL FINDINGS

1. Deceased is about 5 ft. and 4 inches in height, body moderately built and on cadaveric rigidity.

EXTERNAL FINDINGS

1. Puncture wound, 1 cm. in width, 9 cm. in length, located at the lower 3rd anterior aspect of
the arm, right, directed upward to the right axillary pit.

2. Stab wound, thru and thru, located at the proximal 3rd, forearm right, posterior aspect with an
entrance of 5 cm. in width and 9 cm. in length with an exit at the middle 3rd, posterior aspect of
the forearm, right, with 1 cm. wound exit.

3. Stab wound, thru and thru, located at the middle 3rd, posterior aspect of the forearm right, 1
cm. in width.

4. Incised wound, 4 cm. long, depth visualizing the right lateral border of the sternum, 6th and
7th ribs, right located 1.5 inches below the right nipple.

5. Stab wound, 2 cm. in width, 10.5 cm. in depth, directed inward to the thoracic cavity right,
located at the left midclavicular line at the level of the 5th rib left.

6. Stab wound, 2 cm. in width, 9.5 cm. in depth directed toward the right thoracic cavity, located
at the mid left scapular line at the level of the 8th intercostal space.

7. Puncture wound, 1 cm. in width, located at the base of the left armpit directed toward the left
thoracic cavity.

8. Puncture wound, 1 cm. in width, 11 cm. in length, directed toward the left deltoid muscle,
located at the upper 3rd axilla left.

9. Puncture wound, 3 cm in width, 11.5 cm in length, located at the anterior aspect, proximal 3rd
arm left, directed downward.

10. Stab wound, thru and thru, 2.5 cm. in width, and 5 cm. in length, medial aspect, palm right.

11. Stabwound, 4 cm.in width, iliac area, right, directed inward with portion of large intestine and
mysentery coming out.

12. Stab wound, 4 cm. in width, located at the posterior portion of the shoulder, right, directed
downward to the aspex of the light thoracic cavity.

13. Incised wound, 1 cm. in width, 10 cm. in length, located at the medial portion of the medial
border of the right scapula.
14. Incised wound, 1 cm. in width, 4.5 cm. in length, located at the posterior aspect of the right
elbow.

15. Incised wound, 1 cm. in width, 2 cm. in length, located at the posterior portion, middle 3rd,
forearm, right.

16. Lacerated wound at the anterior tantanelle with fissural fracture of the skull.

INTERNAL FINDINGS:

1. Stab wound No. 5, injuring the left ventricle of the heart.

2. Stab wound No. 6, severely injuring the right lower lobe of the lungs.

3. Stab wound No. 7, injuring the right middle lobe of the lungs.

4. Stab wound No. 11, injuring the descending colon of the large intestine, thru
and thru.

5. Stab wound No. 12, severely injuring the apex of the right lungs (sic).

CAUSE OF DEATH:

MASSIVE HEMMORRHAGE DUE TO MULTIPLE LACERATED,


STABBED (sic), INCISED AND PUNCTURED WOUNDS.

JESUS D. ROJAS, M.D.


Rural Health Physician
Ajuy, Iloilo 11

The autopsy report thus showed that Dr. Rojas "found sixteen (16) wounds, five (5) of which are fatal because
they penetrated the internal organs, heart, lungs and intestines of the deceased." 12

On February 23, two days after the incident, Augusto Gonzales appeared before the police sub-station in the
poblacion of Ajuy and voluntarily surrendered to Police Corporal Ben Sazon for detention and protective
custody for "having been involved" in the killing of Lloyd Peñacerrada. He requested that he be taken to the
P.C. headquarters in Sara, Iloilo where his wife, Fausta, was already detained having been indorsed thereat by
the Ajuy police force. 13

Based on the foregoing and on the investigations conducted by the Ajuy police force and the 321st P.C.
Company, an information for murder dated August 26, 1981, was filed by the Provincial Fiscal of Iloilo against
the spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales. The information read as follows:

The undersigned Provincial Fiscal accuses FAUSTA GONZALES and AUGUSTO GONZALES
of the crime of MURDER committed as follows:

That on or about the 21st day of February, 1981, in the Municipality of Ajuy, Province of Iloilo,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Court, the above-named accused with four other
companions whose identities are still unknown and are still at large, armed with sharp-pointed
and deadly weapons, conspiring, confederating and helping each other, with treachery and
evident premeditation, with deliberate intent and decided purpose to kill, and taking advantage
of their superior strength and number, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously
attack, assault, stab, hack, hit and wound Lloyd D. Peñacerrada, with the weapons with which
said accused were provided at the time, thereby inflicting upon said Lloyd D. Peñacerrada
multiple wounds on different parts of his body as shown by autopsy report attached to the
record of this case which multifarious wounds caused the immediate death of said Lloyd D.
Peñacerrada.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Iloilo City, August 26, 1981. 14

When arraigned on September 16, 1981, Augusto and Fausta both entered a plea of not guilty. Before trial,
however, Jose Huntoria 15 who claimed to have witnessed the killing of Lloyd Peñacerrada, presented himself
to Nanie Peñacerrada, the victim's widow, on October 6, 1981, and volunteered to testify for the prosecution. A
reinvestigation of the case was therefore conducted by the Provincial Fiscal of Iloilo on the basis of which an
Amended Information, 16 dated March 3, 1982, naming as additional accused Custodio Gonzales, Sr. (the
herein appellant), Custodio Gonzales, Jr., Nerio Gonzales, and Rogelio Lanida, was filed. Again, all the
accused except as earlier explained, Lanida, pleaded not guilty to the crime.

At the trial, the prosecution presented Dr. Jesus Rojas, the Rural Health physician of Ajuy who conducted the
autopsy on the body of the victim; Bartolome Paja, the barangay captain of Barangay Tipacla; Patrolman
Salvador Centeno and Corporal Ben Sazon of the Ajuy Police Force; Sgt. (ret) Nicolas Belicanao and Sgt.
Reynaldo Palomo of the 321st P.C. Company based in Sara, Iloilo; Jose Huntoria; and Nanie Peñacerrada, the
widow.

Dr. Jesus Rojas testified that he performed the autopsy on the body of the deceased Lloyd Penacerrada at
around 11:20 a.m. on February 22, 1981 after it was taken to the municipal hall of Ajuy. 17 His findings revealed
that the victim suffered from 16 wounds comprising of four (4) punctured wounds, seven (7) stab wounds, four
(4) incised wounds, and one (1) lacerated wound. In his testimony, Dr. Rojas, while admitting the possibility
that only one weapon might have caused all the wounds (except the lacerated wound) inflicted on the victim,
nevertheless opined that due to the number and different characteristics of the wounds, the probability that at
least two instruments were used is high. 18 The police authorities and the P.C. operatives for their part testified
on the aspect of the investigation they respectively conducted in relation to the incident. Nanie Peñacerrada
testified mainly on the expenses she incurred by reason of the death of her husband while Barangay Captain
Bartolome Paja related the events surrounding the surrender of the spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales to
him, the location of the houses of the accused, as well as on other matters.

By and large, the prosecution's case rested on Huntoria's alleged eyewitness account of the incident.
According to Huntoria, who gave his age as 30 when he testified on July 27, 1982, 19 at 5:00 o'clock in the
afternoon on February 21, 1981, he left his work at Barangay Central, in Ajuy, Iloilo where he was employed as
a tractor driver by one Mr. Piccio, and walked home; 20 he took a short-cut route. 21 While passing at the vicinity
of the Gonzales spouses' house at around 8:00 o'clock in the evening, he heard cries for help. 22 Curiosity
prompted him to approach the place where the shouts were emanating. When he was some 15 to 20 meters
away, he hid himself behind a clump of banana
trees. 23 From where he stood, he allegedly saw all the accused ganging upon and takings turns in stabbing
and hacking the victim Lloyd Peñacerrada, near a "linasan" or threshing platform. He said he clearly
recognized all the accused as the place was then awash in moonlight. 24 Huntoria further recounted that after
the accused were through in stabbing and hacking the victim, they then lifted his body and carried it into the
house of the Gonzales spouses which was situated some 20 to 25 meters away from the "linasan". 25 Huntoria
then proceeded on his way home. Upon reaching his house, he related what he saw to his mother and to his
wife 26 before he went to sleep. 27 Huntoria explained that he did not immediately report to the police authorities
what he witnessed for fear of his life. 28 In October 1981 however, eight months after the extraordinary incident
he allegedly witnessed, bothered by his conscience plus the fact that his father was formerly a tenant of the
victim which, to his mind, made him likewise a tenant of the latter, he thought of helping the victim's widow,
Nanie Peñacerrada. Hence, out of his volition, he travelled from his place at Sitio Nabitasan, in Barangay
Tipacla Municipality of Ajuy, to Sara, Iloilo where Mrs. Peñacerrada lived, and related to her what he saw on
February 21, 1981. 29

Except Fausta who admitted killing Lloyd Peñacerrada in defense of her honor as the deceased attempted to
rape her, all the accused denied participation in the crime. The herein accused-appellant, Custodio Gonzales,
Sr., claimed that he was asleep 30 in his house which was located some one kilometer away from the scene of
the crime 31when the incident happened. He asserted that he only came to know of it after his grandchildren by
Augusto and Fausta Gonzales went to his house that night of February 21, 1981 to inform him. 32

The trial court disregarded the version of the defense; it believed the testimony of Huntoria.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals, Custodia Gonzales, Sr., the lone appellant, contended that the trial court
erred in convicting him on the basis of the testimony of Jose Huntoria, the lone alleged eyewitness, and in not
appreciating his defense of alibi.

The Court of Appeals found no merit in both assigned errors. In upholding Huntoria's testimony, the appellate
court held that:

. . . Huntoria positively identified all the accused, including the herein accused-appellant, as the
assailants of Peñacerrada. (TSN, p. 43, July 27, 1982) The claim that Huntoria would have
difficulty recognizing the assailant at a distance of 15 to 20 meters is without merit, considering
that Huntoria knew all the accused. (Id., pp. 37-39) If Huntoria could not say who was hacking
and who was stabbing the deceased, it was only because the assailant were moving around the
victim.

As for the delay in reporting the incident to the authorities, we think that Huntoria's explanation
is satisfactory. He said he feared for his life. (Id., pp. 50-51, 65) As stated in People vs. Realon,
99 SCRA 442, 450 (1980): "The natural reticence of most people to get involved in a criminal
case is of judicial notice. As held in People v. Delfin, '. . . the initial reluctance of witnesses in
this country to volunteer information about a criminal case and their unwillingness to be involved
in or dragged into criminal investigations is common, and has been judicially declared not to
affect credibility.'"

It is noteworthy that the accused-appellant self admitted that he had known Huntoria for about
10 years and that he and Huntoria were in good terms and had no misunderstanding
whatsoever. (TSN, p. 33, July 18, 1984) He said that he could not think of any reason why
Huntoria should implicate him. (Id., p. 34) Thus, Huntoria's credibility. is beyond question. 33

The Court of Appeals likewise rejected the appellant's defense of alibi. 34 The appellate court, however, found
the sentence imposed by the trial court on the accused-appellant erroneous. Said the appellate court:

Finally, we find that the trial court erroneously sentenced the accused-appellant to 12 years and
1 day to 17 years and 4 months of reclusion temporal. The penalty for murder under Article 248
isreclusion temporal in its maximum period to death. As there was no mitigating or aggravating
circumstance, the imposible penalty should be reclusion perpetua. Consequently, the appeal
should have been brought to the Supreme Court. With regard to the indemnity for death, the
award of P40,000.00 should be reduced to P30,000.00, in accordance with the rulings of the
Supreme Court. (E.g., People v. De la Fuente, 126 SCRA 518 (1983); People v. Atanacio, 128
SCRA 31 (1984); People v. Rado, 128 SCRA 43 (1984); People v. Bautista, G.R. No. 68731,
Feb. 27, 1987). 35

The case, as mentioned earlier, is now before us upon certification by the Court of Appeals, the penalty
imposed being reclusion perpetua.

After a careful review of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, we find the same insufficient to convict the
appellant of the crime charged.

To begin with, the investigation conducted by the police authorities leave much to be desired. Patrolman
Centeno of the Ajuy police force in his sworn statements 36 even gave the date of the commission of the crime
as "March 21, 1981." Moreover, the sketch 37 he made of the scene is of little help. While indicated thereon are
the alleged various blood stains and their locations relative to the scene of the crime, there was however no
indication as to their quantity. This is rather unfortunate for the prosecution because, considering that there are
two versions proferred on where the killing was carried out, the extent of blood stains found would have
provided a more definite clue as to which version is more credible. If, as the version of the defense puts it, the
killing transpired inside the bedroom of the Gonzales spouses, there would have been more blood stains inside
the couple's bedroom or even on the ground directly under it. And this circumstance would provide an
additional mooring to the claim of attempted rape asseverated by Fausta. On the other hand, if the
prosecution's version that the killing was committed in the field near the linasan is the truth, then blood stains in
that place would have been more than in any other place.

The same sloppiness characterizes the investigation conducted by the other authorities. Police Corporal Ben
Sazon who claimed that accused Augusto Gonzales surrendered to him on February 23, 1981 failed to state
clearly the reason for the "surrender." It would even appear that Augusto "surrendered" just so he could be
safe from possible revenge by the victim's kins. Corporal Sazon likewise admitted that Augusto never
mentioned to him the participation of other persons in the killing of the victim. Finally, without any evidence on
that point, P.C. investigators of the 321st P.C. Company who likewise conducted an investigation of the killing
mentioned in their criminal complaint 38 four other unnamed persons, aside from the spouses Augusto and
Fausta Gonzales, to have conspired in killing Lloyd Peñacerrada.

Now on the medical evidence. Dr. Rojas opined that it is possible that the sixteen wounds described in the
autopsy report were caused by two or more bladed instruments. Nonetheless, he admitted the possibility that
one bladed instrument might have caused all. Thus, insofar as Dr. Rojas' testimony and the autopsy report are
concerned, Fausta Gonzales' admission that she alone was responsible for the killing appears not at all too
impossible. And then there is the positive testimony of Dr. Rojas that there were only five wounds that could be
fatal out of the sixteen described in the autopsy report. We shall discuss more the significance of these wounds
later.

It is thus clear from the foregoing that if the conviction of the appellant by the lower courts is to be sustained, it
can only be on the basis of the testimony of Huntoria, the self-proclaimed eyewitness. Hence, a meticulous
scrutiny of Huntoria's testimony is compelling.

To recollect, Huntoria testified that he clearly saw all the accused, including the appellant, take turns in hacking
and stabbing Lloyd Peñacerrada, at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening, on February 21, 1981, in the field near a
"linasan" while he (Huntoria) stood concealed behind a clump of banana trees some 15 to 20 meters away
from where the crime was being committed. According to him, he recognized the six accused as the
malefactors because the scene was then illuminated by the moon. He further stated that the stabbing and
hacking took about an hour. But on cross-examination, Huntoria admitted that he could not determine who
among the six accused did the stabbing and/or hacking and what particular weapon was used by each of them.

ATTY. GATON (defense counsel on cross-examination):

Q And you said that the moon was bright, is it correct?

A Yes, Sir.

Q And you would like us to understand that you saw the hacking and the
stabbing, at that distance by the herein accused as identified by you?

A Yes, sir, because the moon was brightly shining.

Q If you saw the stabbing and the hacking, will you please tell this Honorable
Court who was hacking the victim?

A Because they were surrounding Peñacerrada and were in constant movement,


I could not determine who did the hacking.
ATTY. GATON:

The interpretation is not clear.

COURT:

They were doing it rapidly.

A The moving around or the hacking or the "labu" or "bunu" is rapid. I only saw
the rapid movement of their arms, Your Honor, and I cannot determine who was
hacking and who was stabbing. But I saw the hacking and the stabbing blow.

ATTY. GATON:

Q You cannot positively identify before this Court who really hacked Lloyd
Peñacerrada?

A Yes sir, I cannot positively tell who did the hacking.

Q And likewise you cannot positively tell this Honorable Court who did the
stabbing?

A Yes sir, and because of the rapid movements.

Q I noticed in your direct testimony that you could not even identify the weapons
used because according to you it was just flashing?

A Yes, sir. 39

(Emphasis supplied)

From his very testimony, Huntoria failed to impute a definite and specific act committed, or contributed, by the
appellant in the killing of Lloyd Peñacerrada.

It also bears stressing that there is nothing in the findings of the trial court and of the Court of Appeals which
would categorize the criminal liability of the appellant as a principal by direct participation under Article 17,
paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code. Likewise, there is nothing in the evidence for the prosecution that
inculpates him by inducement, under paragraph 2 of the same Article 17, or by indispensable cooperation
under paragraph 3 thereof. What then was the direct part in the killing did the appellant perform to support the
ultimate punishment imposed by the Court of Appeals on him?

Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code provides how criminal liability is incurred.

Art. 4. Criminal liability — Criminal liability shall be incurred:

1. By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from
that which he intended.

2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or property,
were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of the employment
of inadequate or ineffectual means.

(Emphasis supplied.)
Thus, one of the means by which criminal liability is incurred is through the commission of a felony. Article 3 of
the Revised Penal Code, on the other hand, provides how felonies are committed.

Art. 3. Definition — Acts and omissions punishable by law are felonies (delitos).

Felonies are committed not only by means of deceit (dolo) but also by means of fault (culpa).

There is deceit when the act is performed with deliberate intent; and there is fault when the
wrongful act results from imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight, or lack of skill.

(Emphasis supplied.)

Thus, the elements of felonies in general are: (1) there must be an act or omission; (2) the act or omission
must be punishable under the Revised Penal Code; and (3) the act is performed or the omission incurred by
means of deceit or fault.

Here, while the prosecution accuses, and the two lower courts both found, that the appellant has committed a
felony in the killing of Lloyd Peñacerrada, forsooth there is paucity of proof as to what act was performed by
the appellant. It has been said that "act," as used in Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code, must be understood
as "any bodily movement tending to produce some effect in the external world." 40 In this instance, there must
therefore be shown an "act" committed by the appellant which would have inflicted any harm to the body of the
victim that produced his death.

Yet, even Huntoria, as earlier emphasized, admitted quite candidly that he did not see who "stabbed" or who
"hacked" the victim. Thus this principal witness did not say, because he could not whether the appellant
"hacked or "stabbed" victim. In fact, Huntoria does not know what specific act was performed by the appellant.
This lack of specificity then makes the case fall short of the test laid down by Article 3 of the Revised Penal
Code previously discussed. Furthermore, the fact that the victim sustained only five fatal wounds out of the
total of sixteen inflicted, as adverted to above, while there are six accused charged as principals, it follows to
reason that one of the six accused could not have caused or dealt a fatal wound. And this one could as well be
the appellant, granted ex gratia argumenti that he took part in the hacking and stabbing alleged by Huntoria.
And why not him? Is he not after all the oldest (already sexagenarian at that time) and practically the father of
the five accused? And pursuing this argument to the limits of its logic, it is possible, nay even probable, that
only four, or three, or two of the accused could have inflicted all the five fatal wounds to the exclusion of two,
three, or four of them. And stretching the logic further, it is possible, nay probable, that all the fatal wounds,
including even all the non-fatal wounds, could have been dealt by Fausta in rage against the assault on her
womanhood and honor. But more importantly, there being not an iota of evidence that the appellant caused
any of the said five fatal wounds, coupled with the prosecution's failure to prove the presence of conspiracy
beyond reasonable doubt, the appellant's conviction can not be sustained.

Additionally, Huntoria's credibility as a witness is likewise tarnished by the fact that he only came out to testify
in October 1981, or eight long months since he allegedly saw the killing on February 21, 1981. While ordinarily
the failure of a witness to report at once to the police authorities the crime he
had witnessed should not be taken against him and should not affect his credibility, 41 here, the unreasonable
delay in Huntoria's coming out engenders doubt on his veracity. 42 If the silence of coming out an alleged
eyewitness for several weeks renders his credibility doubtful, 43 the more it should be for one who was mute for
eight months. Further, Huntoria's long delay in reveiling what he allegedly witnessed, has not been
satisfactorily explained. His lame excuse that he feared his life would be endangered is too pat to be believed.
There is no showing that he was threatened by the accused or by anybody. And if it were true that he feared a
possible retaliation from the accused, 44 why did he finally volunteer to testify considering that except for the
spouses Augusto and Fausta Gonzales who were already under police custody, the rest of the accused were
then still free and around; they were not yet named in the original information, 45 thus the supposed danger on
Huntoria's life would still be clear and present when he testified.
Moreover, Huntoria is not exactly a disinterested witness as portrayed by the prosecution. He admitted that he
was a tenant of the deceased. In fact, he stated that one of the principal reasons why he testified was because
the victim was also his landlord.

xxx xxx xxx

Q Now, Mr. Huntoria, why did it take you so long from the time you saw the
stabbing and hacking of Lloyd Peñacerrada when you told Mrs. Peñacerrada
about what happened to her husband?

A At first I was then afraid to tell anybody else but because I was haunted by my
conscience and secondly the victim was also my landlord I revealed what I saw
to the wife of the victim. 46

xxx xxx xxx

(Emphasis ours.)

At this juncture, it may be relevant to remind that under our socioeconomic set-up, a tenant owes the very
source of his livelihood, if not existence itself, from his landlord who provides him with the land to till. In this
milieu, tenants like Huntoria are naturally beholden to their landlords and seek ways and means to ingratiate
themselves with the latter. In this instance, volunteering his services as a purported eyewitness and providing
that material testimony which would lead to the conviction of the entire family of Augusto Gonzales whose wife,
Fausta, has confessed to the killing of Lloyd Peñacerrada, would, in a perverted sense, be a way by which
Huntoria sought to ingratiate himself with the surviving family of his deceased landlord. This is especially so
because the need to get into the good graces of his landlord's family assumed a greater urgency considering
that he ceased to be employed as early as May 1981. 47 Volunteering his services would alleviate the financial
distress he was in. And Huntoria proved quite sagacious in his choice of action for shortly after he volunteered
and presented himself to the victim's widow, he was taken under the protective wings of the victim's uncle, one
Dr. Biclar, who gave him employment and provided lodging for his family. 48 Given all the foregoing
circumstances, we can not help but dismiss Huntoria as an unreliable witness, to say the least.

At any rate, there is another reason why we find the alleged participation of the appellant in the killing of Lloyd
Peñacerrada doubtful — it is contrary to our customs and traditions. Under the Filipino family tradition and
culture, aging parents are sheltered and insulated by their adult children from any possible physical and
emotional harm. It is therefore improbable for the other accused who are much younger and at the prime of
their manhood, to summon the aid or allow the participation of their 65-year old 49 father, the appellant, in the
killing of their lone adversary, granting that the victim was indeed an adversary. And considering that the
appellant's residence was about one kilometer from the scene of the crime, 50 we seriously doubt that the
appellant went there just for the purpose of aiding his three robust male sons (Custodia Jr., Nerio, and
Augusta), not to mention the brother and sister, Rogelio and Fausta, in the killing of Lloyd Peñacerrada, even if
the latter were a perceived enemy.

Finally, while indeed alibi is a weak defense, 51 under appropriate circumstances, like in the instant case in
which the participation of the appellant is not beyond cavil it may be considered as exculpatory. Courts should
not at once look with disfavor at the defense of alibi for if taken in the light of the other evidence on record, it
may be sufficient to acquit the accused. 52

In fine, the guilt of the appellant has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the appellant is
hereby ACQUITTED. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, Paras, Padilla and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 Rendered by Judge Constancio E. Jaugan.

2 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, 9.

3 Rollo, 54 and 67.

4 Mendoza, Vicente V., J., ponente; Herrera, Manuel C. and Imperial, Jorge S., JJ., concurring.

5 No. L-49818, February 20, 1979, 88 SCRA 486; see also People vs. Galang, G.R. No. 70713, June 29,
1989; People vs. Centeno, L-48744, October 30, 1981, 108 SCRA 710; and People vs. Daniel, No. L-40330,
November 20, 1978, 86 SCRA 511.

6 Rollo, id., 114.

7 T.S.N., session of June 6, 1983. 5-9.

8 Id., Session of May 10, 1983, 34-35.

9 Original Records, 149.

10 T.S.N., Id., session of July 27, 1982, 11.

11 Autopsy Report, Original Records, id., 2-3.

12 Decision of the Regional Trial Court, id., 3.

13 T.S.N., id., session of July 27, 1982, 17-19.

14 Original Records, id., 32.

15 Interchangeably mentioned in the Records of the case as Jose Juntoria, Jose Hontoria, and Jose Huntoria.

16 Original Records, Id., 81-82.

17 T.S.N., session of June 16, 1982, 3.

18 Id., 24.

19 Id., session of July 27, 1982, 37; see also T.S.N., of the Reinvestigation, session of January 8, 1982, at 2,
Original Records, at 187, where Huntoria gave his age as 29 years old.

20 Id., session of July 27, 1982, 41.

21 Id., 55. 22 Id., 41. 23 Id., 44, 56-57. 24 Id., 45. 25 Id. 26 Id., 48, 63. 27 Id., 64. 28 Id., 51. 29 Id., 52, 66.

30 Id., session of July 18, 1984, 12.

31 Id., 6. 32 Id., 14-15. 33 Rollo, id., 112. 34 Id., 113. 35 Id., 113-114.
36 Original Records, id., 7, 14-16.

37 Id., 4-5. 38 Id., 1.

39 T.S.N., session on July 27, 1982, 57-59.

40 REYES, THE REVISED PENAL CODE (1977), vol. 1, 68-69.

41 People vs. Punzalan, No. 54562, August 6, 1987, 153 SCRA 1; People vs. Coronado, No. 68932, October
28, 1986, 145 SCRA 250.

42 People vs. Delavin, Nos. 73762-63 February 27,1987, 148 SCRA 257, citing People vs. Madarang, No. L-
22295, January 30, 1970, 31 SCRA 148.

43 People vs. Tulagan, No. 68620, July 22, 1986, 143 SCRA 107.

44 T.S.N., session of July 27, 1982, 50-51.

45 Original Records, id., 32-33.

46 T.S.N., session of July 27, 1982, id., 51-52.

47 Id., 67.

48 Id., 67-68.

49 The appellant was already 68 years old on July 18, 1984; T.S.N., session of July 18, 1984, 3.

50 T.S.N., id., 6.

51 People vs. Arnel Mitra, et al., No. 80405, November 24, 1989; People vs. Berbal and Juanito, No. 71527,
August 10, 1989; People vs. Nolasco, No. 55483, July 28, 1988, 163 SCRA 623; People vs. Pecato, No. L-
41008, June 18, 1987, 151 SCRA 14.

52 People vs. Santos, No. 62072, November 11, 1985, 139 SCRA 583.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-64750 January 30, 1984

ATTY. SELSO M. MANZANARIS, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, respondents.

Benjamin C. Almonte for petitioner.

The Solicitor General for respondents.

ESCOLIN, J.:

This is a petition for review of the decision of the Sandiganbayan finding petitioner Selso M. Manzanaris guilty
of infidelity in the custody of documents under Article 226, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code. The
dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Selso M. Manzanaris guilty beyond reasonable doubt as
principal of Violation of Art. 226, Revised Penal Code (Removal, Concealment or Destruction of
Documents), defined and penalized under paragraph 2 thereof, and there being no. mitigating
nor aggravating circumstances, he is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of Three (3)
Months and Eleven (11) Days of arresto mayor, as minimum, to One (1) Year, Eight (8) Months
and Twenty-One (21) Days of prision correccional as maximum; to pay a fine of Five Hundred
(P500.00) Pesos, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; to suffer the additional
penalty of Eleven (11) Years and One (1) Day of temporary special disqualification; and to pay
the costs.

The facts upon which the judgment of conviction rests are summarized by the respondent court as follows:

... Accused is the Clerk of Court of the Court of First Instance of Basilan since 1963 up to the
present. As such, he is the custodian of all the records of the Court of First Instance of Basilan.
Among the cases filed in said court was Criminal Case No. 299, against Geronimo Borja for
malversation of public funds. Among the property constituting the property bond filed by said
accused was that covered by Certificate of Title No. 877 of the Register of Deeds of Basilan.
When accused discovered thru his subordinate that Original Certificate of Title No. 877 was not
existing in the Register of Deeds of Basilan he ordered a subordinate to deliver owner's copy of
Certificate of Title No. 877 to Mr. Borja for the purpose of administrative reconstitution thereof.

xxx xxx xxx

Borja was asked to sign a receipt for the title. The contents of the receipt stated "Received from
the Clerk of Court Selso M. Manzanaris. OCT No. 877 to be reconstituted in the Register of
Deeds ... . After reconstitution to be returned to the court."

xxx xxx xxx

The release and delivery of the owner's certificate of title to Geronimo Borja was done without
any written order from the presiding judge of the court. Mrs. Trinidad M. Borja, wife of Geronimo
Borja filed a petition with the Office of the Register of Deeds for the administrative reconstitution
of Original Certificate of Title No. 877. Although she succeeded in reconstituting the original of
said title in November, 1974, Certificate of Title No. 877 was not turned over to the court.

The records further reveal that on June 11, 1975 the building housing the Court of First Instance of Basilan
including all the records and documents of the court, were burned. Sometime in 1981, one Atty. Filoteo Jo filed
a motion with the court to borrow OCT No. 877. This motion was denied on the basis of the certification issued
by petitioner that said title was among the documents destroyed during the conflagration of 1975.

Atty. Jo later informed petitioner that Trinidad Borja had obtained possession of the said title and in fact had
succeeded in having the same reconstituted. Only then did petitioner remember that he had delivered said title
to Geronimo Borja and that the latter had issued a receipt therefor. Since then, petitioner had repeatedly asked
Mrs. Trinidad Borja to return the reconstituted title to the court. The latter, however, could not locate the same
from the files of her deceased mother, the registered owner, who was in custody thereof before her death.

Petitioner admitted having removed OCT No. 877 from the custody of the court and having delivered the same
to Geronimo Borja for the latter to cause its administrative reconstitution after he had found out that the original
of said title in the Office of the Register of Deeds was missing. He professed, however, that in delivering OCT
No. 877 to Borja, he was actuated with a lawful and commendable motive, i.e., to protect the interest of the
State, since the unreconstituted certificate of title, given as property bond of the accused Borja, was absolutely
inefficacious for such purpose.

The respondent court brushed aside petitioner's defense of good faith, notwithstanding complete lack of
evidence to the contrary.

We reverse. To warrant a finding of guilt of the crime of infidelity in the custody of documents, the act of
removal as a mode of committing the offense, should be coupled with criminal intent or illicit purpose. This calls
to mind the oft-repeated maxim "Actus non facit, nisi mens sit rea," which expounds a basic principle in
criminal law that a crime is not committed if the mind of the person performing the act complained of be
innocent. Thus, to constitute a crime, the act must, except in certain crimes made such by statute, be
accompanied by a criminal intent. It is true that a presumption of criminal intent may arise from proof of the
commission of a criminal act; and the general rule is that if it is proved that the accused committed the criminal
act charged, it will be presumed that the act was done with criminal intention and that it is for the accused to
rebut this presumption. But it must be borne in mind that the act from which such presumption springs must be
a criminal act. 1 In the case at bar, the act is not criminal. Neither can it be categorized as malum
prohibitum the mere commission of which makes the doer criminally liable even if he acted without evil intent.

It is quite clear that in removing the certificate of title in question from the court's files and delivering the same
to Borja for the purpose of effecting its administrative reconstitution, petitioner was not prompted by criminal
intent or illegal purpose. Rather, he was motivated with a sincere desire to protect the interest of the
Government. The prosecution did not even attempt to impute bad faith on the part of petitioner, and there is
nothing in the record to insinuate that petitioner had profited from the act complained of.

In Kataniag vs. People, 2 this Court ruled:

Whether during or after office hours, if the removal by a public officer of any official document
from its usual place of safe-keeping is for an illicit purpose, such as to tamper with or to
otherwise profit by it, or to do in connection therewith an act which would constitute a breach of
trust in his official care thereof, the crime of infidelity in the custody of public documents is
committed. On the other hand, where the act of removal is actuated with lawful or commendable
motives, as when the public officer removes the public documents committed to his trust for
examination in connection with official duty, or with a view to securing them from imminent
danger of loss, there would be no crime committed under the law. This is so, because the act of
removal destruction or concealment of public documents is punished by law only when any of
such acts would constitute infidelity in the custody thereof.
Tested by this rule, petitioner cannot be punished criminally.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Sandiganbayan is hereby set aside and petitioner acquitted of the crime
charged. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro, Melencio-
Herrera, Plana, Relova and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 U.S. vs. Catolico, 18 Phil. 504.

2 74 Phil. 45.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 152133 February 9, 2006

ROLLIE CALIMUTAN, Petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL., Respondents.

DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:

In this Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court, petitioner Rollie
Calimutan prays for the reversal of the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 23306, dated 29
August 2001,1affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 46, of Masbate, Masbate, in
Criminal Case No. 8184, dated 19 November 1998,2 finding petitioner Calimutan guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code.

The Information3 filed with the RTC charged petitioner Calimutan with the crime of homicide, allegedly
committed as follows –

That on or about February 4, 1996, in the morning thereof, at sitio Capsay, Barangay Panique, Municipality of
Aroroy, Province of Masbate, Philippines within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused with intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and throw a
stone at PHILIP CANTRE, hitting him at the back left portion of his body, resulting in laceration of spleen due
to impact which caused his death a day after.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Masbate, Masbate, September 11, 1996.

Accordingly, the RTC issued, on 02 December 1996, a warrant4 for the arrest of petitioner Calimutan. On 09
January 1997, however, he was provisionally released5 after posting sufficient bailbond.6 During the
arraignment on 21 May 1997, petitioner Calimutan pleaded not guilty to the crime of homicide charged against
him.7

In the course of the trial, the prosecution presented three witnesses, namely: (1) Dr. Ronaldo B. Mendez, a
Senior Medico-Legal Officer of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); (2) Belen B. Cantre, mother of the
victim, Philip Cantre; and (3) Rene L. Sañano, companion of the victim Cantre when the alleged crime took
place. Their testimonies are collectively summarized below.

On 04 February 1996, at around 10:00 a.m., the victim Cantre and witness Sañano, together with two other
companions, had a drinking spree at a videoke bar in Crossing Capsay, Panique, Aroroy, Masbate. From the
videoke bar, the victim Cantre and witness Sañano proceeded to go home to their respective houses, but
along the way, they crossed paths with petitioner Calimutan and a certain Michael Bulalacao. Victim Cantre
was harboring a grudge against Bulalacao, suspecting the latter as the culprit responsible for throwing stones
at the Cantre’s house on a previous night. Thus, upon seeing Bulalacao, victim Cantre suddenly punched him.
While Bulalacao ran away, petitioner Calimutan dashed towards the backs of victim Cantre and witness
Sañano. Petitioner Calimutan then picked up a stone, as big as a man’s fist, which he threw at victim Cantre,
hitting him at the left side of his back. When hit by the stone, victim Cantre stopped for a moment and held his
back. Witness Sañano put himself between the victim Cantre and petitioner Calimutan, and attempted to pacify
the two, even convincing petitioner Calimutan to put down another stone he was already holding. He also
urged victim Cantre and petitioner Calimutan to just go home. Witness Sañano accompanied victim Cantre to
the latter’s house, and on the way, victim Cantre complained of the pain in the left side of his back hit by the
stone. They arrived at the Cantre’s house at around 12:00 noon, and witness Sañano left victim Cantre to the
care of the latter’s mother, Belen.8

Victim Cantre immediately told his mother, Belen, of the stoning incident involving petitioner Calimutan. He
again complained of backache and also of stomachache, and was unable to eat. By nighttime, victim Cantre
was alternately feeling cold and then warm. He was sweating profusely and his entire body felt numb. His
family would have wanted to bring him to a doctor but they had no vehicle. At around 3:00 a.m. of the following
day, 05 February 1996, Belen was wiping his son with a piece of cloth, when victim Cantre asked for some
food. He was able to eat a little, but he also later vomited whatever he ate. For the last time, he complained of
backache and stomachache, and shortly thereafter, he died.9

Right after his death, victim Cantre was examined by Dr. Conchita S. Ulanday, the Municipal Health Officer of
Aroroy, Masbate. The Post-Mortem Examination Report10 and Certification of Death,11 issued and signed by Dr.
Ulanday, stated that the cause of death of victim Cantre was cardio-respiratory arrest due to suspected food
poisoning. The body of victim Cantre was subsequently embalmed and buried on 13 February 1996.

Unsatisfied with the findings of Dr. Ulanday, the Cantre family, with the help of the Lingkod Bayan-Circulo de
Abogadas of the ABS-CBN Foundation, requested for an exhumation and autopsy of the body of the victim
Cantre by the NBI. The exhumation and autopsy of the body of the victim Cantre was conducted by Dr.
Ronaldo B. Mendez on 15 April 1996,12 after which, he reported the following findings –

Body; fairly well-preserved with sign of partial autopsy; clad in white Barong Tagalog and blue pants placed
inside a wooden golden-brown coffin and buried in a concrete niche.

Contused-abrasion, 2.3 x 1.0 cms., posterior chest wall, left side.

Hematoma, 16.0 x 8.0 cms., abdomen, along mid-line.

Hemoperitoneum, massive, clotte [sic].

Laceration, spleen.

Other visceral organ, pale and embalmed.

Stomach contains small amount of whitish fluid and other partially digested food particles.

xxxx

CAUSE OF DEATH: TRAUMATIC INJURY OF THE ABDOMEN.

In his testimony before the RTC, Dr. Mendez affirmed the contents of his exhumation and autopsy report. He
explained that the victim Cantre suffered from an internal hemorrhage and there was massive accumulation of
blood in his abdominal cavity due to his lacerated spleen. The laceration of the spleen can be caused by any
blunt instrument, such as a stone. Hence, Dr. Mendez confirmed the possibility that the victim Cantre was
stoned to death by petitioner Calimutan.13

To counter the evidence of the prosecution, the defense presented the sole testimony of the accused, herein
petitioner, Calimutan.

According to petitioner Calimutan, at about 1:00 p.m. on 04 February 1996, he was walking with his house
helper, Michael Bulalacao, on their way to Crossing Capsay, Panique, Aroroy, Masbate, when they met with
the victim Cantre and witness Sañano. The victim Cantre took hold of Bulalacao and punched him several
times. Petitioner Calimutan attempted to pacify the victim Cantre but the latter refused to calm down, pulling
out from his waist an eight-inch Batangas knife and uttering that he was looking for trouble, either "to kill or be
killed." At this point, petitioner Calimutan was about ten meters away from the victim Cantre and was too
frightened to move any closer for fear that the enraged man would turn on him; he still had a family to take care
of. When he saw that the victim Cantre was about to stab Bulalacao, petitioner Calimutan picked up a stone,
which he described as approximately one-inch in diameter, and threw it at the victim Cantre. He was able to hit
the victim Cantre on his right buttock. Petitioner Calimutan and Bulalacao then started to run away, and victim
Cantre chased after them, but witness Sañano was able to pacify the victim Cantre. Petitioner Calimutan
allegedly reported the incident to akagawad of Barangay Panique and to the police authorities and sought their
help in settling the dispute between Bulalacao and the victim Cantre. Bulalacao, meanwhile, refused to seek
medical help despite the advice of petitioner Calimutan and, instead, chose to go back to his hometown.14

Petitioner Calimutan was totally unaware of what had happened to the victim Cantre after the stoning incident
on 04 February 1996. Some of his friends told him that they still saw the victim Cantre drinking at a videoke bar
on the night of 04 February 1996. As far as he knew, the victim Cantre died the following day, on 05 February
1996, because of food poisoning. Petitioner Calimutan maintained that he had no personal grudge against the
victim Cantre previous to the stoning incident.15

On 19 November 1998, the RTC rendered its Decision,16 essentially adopting the prosecution’s account of the
incident on 04 February 1996, and pronouncing that –

It cannot be legally contended that the throwing of the stone by the accused was in defense of his companion,
a stranger, because after the boxing Michael was able to run. While it appears that the victim was the unlawful
aggressor at the beginning, but the aggression already ceased after Michael was able to run and there was no
more need for throwing a stone. The throwing of the stone to the victim which was a retaliatory act can be
considered unlawful, hence the accused can be held criminally liable under paragraph 1 of Art. 4 of the
Revised Penal Code.

The act of throwing a stone from behind which hit the victim at his back on the left side was a treacherous one
and the accused committed a felony causing physical injuries to the victim. The physical injury of hematoma as
a result of the impact of the stone resulted in the laceration of the spleen causing the death of the victim. The
accused is criminally liable for all the direct and natural consequences of this unlawful act even if the ultimate
result had not been intended. (Art. 4, Par. 1, Revised Penal Code; People vs. Narciso, CA-G.R. No. 03532-CR,
Jan. 13, 1964)

One is not relieved from criminal liability for the natural consequences of one’s illegal acts merely because one
does not intend to produce such consequences (U.S. vs. Brobst, 14 Phil. 310).

The crime committed is Homicide as defined and penalized under Art. 249 of the Revised Penal Code.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds and so holds that accused ROLLIE CALIMUTAN is GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of Homicide defined and penalized under Art. 249 of the Revised Penal Code with no
mitigating or aggravating circumstance and applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law hereby imposes the
penalty of imprisonment from EIGHT (8) YEARS of Prision Mayor as minimum, to TWELVE (12) YEARS and
ONE (1) DAY of Reclusion Temporal as maximum, and to indemnify the heirs of Philip Cantre the sum of Fifty
Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos as compensatory damages and the sum of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos
as moral damages, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency.

Petitioner Calimutan appealed the Decision of the RTC to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals, in its
Decision, dated 29 August 2001,17 sustained the conviction of homicide rendered by the RTC against petitioner
Calimutan, ratiocinating thus –

The prosecution has sufficiently established that the serious internal injury sustained by the victim was caused
by the stone thrown at the victim by the accused which, the accused-appellant does not deny. It was likewise
shown that the internal injury sustained by the victim was the result of the impact of the stone that hit the victim.
It resulted to a traumatic injury of the abdomen causing the laceration of the victim’s spleen.

This is clearly shown by the autopsy report prepared by Dr. Ronaldo Mendez, a Senior Medico Legal Officer of
the NBI after the exhumation of the victim’s cadaver…

The Court cannot give credence to the post mortem report prepared by Municipal Health Officer Dr. Conchita
Ulanday stating that the cause of the victim’s death was food poisoning. Dr. Ulanday was not even presented
to testify in court hence she was not even able to identify and/or affirm the contents of her report. She was not
made available for cross-examination on the accuracy and correctness of her findings.

Dr. Conchita Ulanday’s post mortem report cannot prevail over the autopsy report (Exh. "C") of the Medico-
Legal Officer of the NBI who testified and was cross-examined by the defense.

Besides, if accused-appellant was convinced that the victim indeed died of food poisoning, as reported by Dr.
Conchita Ulanday, why did they not present her as their witness to belie the report of the Medico-Legal Officer
of the NBI.

The trial court’s evaluation of the testimony of Dr. Mendez is accorded the highest respect because it had the
opportunity to observe the conduct and demeanor of said witness.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Masbate, Branch 46, finding
accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide is hereby AFFIRMED.

The Court of Appeals, in its Resolution, dated 15 January 2002,18 denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed
by petitioner Calimutan for lack of merit since the issues raised therein had already been passed and ruled
upon in its Decision, dated 29 August 2001.

Comes now petitioner Calimutan, by way of the present Petition for Review on Certiorari, seeking (1) the
reversal of the Decisions of the RTC, dated 19 November 1998, and of the Court of Appeals, dated 29 August
2001, convicting him of the crime of homicide; and, (2) consequently, his acquittal of the said crime based on
reasonable doubt.

Petitioner Calimutan contended that the existence of the two autopsy reports, with dissimilar findings on the
cause of death of the victim Cantre, constituted reasonable doubt as to the liability of petitioner Calimutan for
the said death, arguing that –

x x x [I]t was Dra. Conchita Ulanday, Municipal Health Officer of Aroroy, Masbate was the first physician of the
government who conducted an examination on the cadaver of the victim Philip Cantre whose findings was that
the cause of his death was due to food poisoning while the second government physician NBI Medico Legal
Officer Dr. Ronaldo Mendez whose findings was that the cause of the death was due to a traumatic injury of
the abdomen caused by a lacerated spleen and with these findings of two (2) government physicians whose
findings are at variance with each other materially, it is humbly contended that the same issue raised a
reasonable doubt on the culpability of the petitioner.

As there are improbabilities and uncertainties of the evidence for the prosecution in the case at bar, it suffices
to reaise [sic] reasonable doubt as to the petitioner’s guilt and therefore, he is entitled to acquittal (People vs.
Delmendo, G.R. No. 32146, November 23, 1981).19

In this jurisdiction, an accused in a criminal case may only be convicted if his or her guilt is established by proof
beyond reasonable doubt. Proof beyond reasonable doubt requires only a moral certainty or that degree of
proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind; it does not demand absolute certainty and the
exclusion of all possibility of error.20
In the Petition at bar, this Court finds that there is proof beyond reasonable doubt to hold petitioner Calimutan
liable for the death of the victim Cantre.

Undoubtedly, the exhumation and autopsy report and the personal testimony before the RTC of prosecution
witness, NBI Senior Medico-Legal Officer Dr. Mendez, are vital pieces of evidence against petitioner Calimutan.
Dr. Mendez determined that the victim Cantre died of internal hemorrhage or bleeding due to the laceration of
his spleen. In his testimony, Dr. Mendez clearly and consistently explained that the spleen could be lacerated
or ruptured when the abdominal area was hit with a blunt object, such as the stone thrown by petitioner
Calimutan at the victim Cantre.

It bears to emphasize that Dr. Mendez was presented by the prosecution as an expert witness, whose
"competency and academic qualification and background" was admitted by the defense itself.21 As a Senior
Medico-Legal Officer of the NBI, Dr. Mendez is presumed to possess sufficient knowledge of pathology,
surgery, gynecology, toxicology, and such other branches of medicine germane to the issues involved in a
case.22

Dr. Mendez’s testimony as an expert witness is evidence,23 and although it does not necessarily bind the
courts, both the RTC and the Court of Appeals had properly accorded it great weight and probative value.
Having testified as to matters undeniably within his area of expertise, and having performed a thorough
autopsy on the body of the victim Cantre, his findings as to the cause of death of the victim Cantre are more
than just the mere speculations of an ordinary person. They may sufficiently establish the causal relationship
between the stone thrown by the petitioner Calimutan and the lacerated spleen of the victim Cantre which,
subsequently, resulted in the latter’s death. With no apparent mistake or irregularity, whether in the manner by
which Dr. Mendez performed the autopsy on the body of the victim Cantre or in his findings, then his report and
testimony must be seriously considered by this Court.

Moreover, reference to other resource materials on abdominal injuries would also support the conclusion of Dr.
Mendez that the stone thrown by petitioner Calimutan caused the death of the victim Cantre.

One source explains the nature of abdominal injuries24 in the following manner –

The skin may remain unmarked inspite of extensive internal injuries with bleeding and disruption of the
internal organs. The areas most vulnerable are the point of attachment of internal organs, especially at the
source of its blood supply and at the point where blood vessels change direction.

The area in the middle superior half of the abdomen, forming a triangle bounded by the ribs on the two sides
and a line drawn horizontally through the umbilicus forming its base is vulnerable to trauma applied from
any direction. In this triangle are found several blood vessels changing direction, particularly the celiac trunk,
its branches (the hepatic, splenic and gastric arteries) as well as the accompanying veins. The loop of the
duodenum, the ligament of Treitz and the pancreas are in the retroperitoneal space, and the stomach and
transverse colon are in the triangle, located in the peritoneal cavity. Compression or blow on the area may
cause detachment, laceration, stretch-stress, contusion of the organs (Legal Medicine 1980, Cyril H. Wecht et.,
p. 41).

As to injuries to the spleen, in particular,25 the same source expounds that –

The spleen usually suffers traumatic rupture resulting from the impact of a fall or blow from the crushing and
grinding effects of wheels of motor vehicles. Although the organ is protected at its upper portion by the ribs and
also by the air-containing visceral organs, yet on account of its superficiality and fragility, it is usually
affected by trauma. x x x.

Certainly, there are some terms in the above-quoted paragraphs difficult to comprehend for people without
medical backgrounds. Nevertheless, there are some points that can be plainly derived therefrom: (1) Contrary
to common perception, the abdominal area is more than just the waist area. The entire abdominal area is
divided into different triangles, and the spleen is located in the upper triangle, bounded by the rib cage; (2) The
spleen and all internal organs in the same triangle are vulnerable to trauma from all directions. Therefore, the
stone need not hit the victim Cantre from the front. Even impact from a stone hitting the back of the victim
Cantre, in the area of the afore-mentioned triangle, could rupture the spleen; and (3) Although the spleen had
already been ruptured or lacerated, there may not always be a perceptible external injury to the victim. Injury to
the spleen cannot, at all times, be attributed to an obvious, external injury such as a cut or bruise. The
laceration of the victim Cantre’s spleen can be caused by a stone thrown hard enough, which qualifies as a
nonpenetrating trauma26 –

Nonpenetrating Trauma. The spleen, alone or in combination with other viscera, is the most frequently
injured organ following blunt trauma to the abdomen or the lower thoracic cage. Automobile accidents
provide the predominating cause, while falls, sledding and bicycle injuries, and blows incurred during contact
sports are frequently implicated in children. x x x

The sheer impact of the stone thrown by petitioner Calimutan at the back of the victim Cantre could rupture or
lacerate the spleen – an organ described as vulnerable, superficial, and fragile – even without causing any
other external physical injury. Accordingly, the findings of Dr. Mendez that the victim Cantre died of internal
hemorrhage from his lacerated spleen, and the cause of the laceration of the spleen was the stone thrown by
petitioner Calimutan at the back of the victim Cantre, does not necessarily contradict his testimony before the
RTC that none of the external injuries of the victim Cantre were fatal.

Based on the foregoing discussion, the prosecution was able to establish that the proximate cause of the death
of the victim Cantre was the stone thrown at him by petitioner Calimutan. Proximate cause has been defined
as "that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause,
produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred."27

The two other witnesses presented by the prosecution, namely Sañano and Belen Cantre, had adequately
recounted the events that transpired on 04 February 1996 to 05 February 1996. Between the two of them, the
said witnesses accounted for the whereabouts, actions, and physical condition of the victim Cantre during the
said period. Before the encounter with petitioner Calimutan and Bulalacao, the victim Cantre seemed to be
physically fine. However, after being hit at the back by the stone thrown at him by petitioner Calimutan, the
victim Cantre had continuously complained of backache. Subsequently, his physical condition rapidly
deteriorated, until finally, he died. Other than being stoned by petitioner Calimutan, there was no other instance
when the victim Cantre may have been hit by another blunt instrument which could have caused the laceration
of his spleen.

Hence, this Court is morally persuaded that the victim Cantre died from a lacerated spleen, an injury sustained
after being hit by a stone thrown at him by petitioner Calimutan. Not even the post-mortem report of Dr.
Ulanday, the Municipal Health Officer who first examined the body of the victim Cantre, can raise reasonable
doubt as to the cause of death of the victim Cantre. Invoking Dr. Ulanday’s post-mortem report, the defense
insisted on the possibility that the victim Cantre died of food poisoning. The post-mortem report, though, cannot
be given much weight and probative value for the following reasons –

First, a closer scrutiny of the words used by Dr. Ulanday in her post-mortem report, as well as in the death
certificate of the victim Cantre, reveals that although she suspected food poisoning as the cause of death, she
held back from making a categorical statement that it was so. In the post-mortem report, 28 she found that "x x
x the provable (sic) cause of death was due to cardio-respiratory arrest. Food poisoning must be confirm (sic)
by laboratory e(x)am." In the death certificate of the victim Cantre, 29 she wrote that the immediate cause of
death was "Cardio-Respiratory Arrest" and the antecedent cause was "Food Poisoning Suspect." There was
no showing that further laboratory tests were indeed conducted to confirm Dr. Ulanday’s suspicion that the
victim Cantre suffered from food poisoning, and without such confirmation, her suspicion as to the cause of
death remains just that – a suspicion.

Second, Dr. Ulanday executed before the NBI a sworn statement30 in which she had explained her findings in
the post-mortem report, to wit –

05. Q: Did you conduct an autopsy on his cadaver?


A: I did sir, but not as exhaustive as that done by the NBI Medico-legal.

06. Q: Now, what do you want to state regarding your certification on the death of PHILIP B. CANTRE?

A: I stated in the certification and even in the Death Certificate about "Food Poisoning". What I stated in the
Death Certificate was that CANTRE was a SUSPECTED victim of food poisoning. I didn’t state that he was a
case of food poisoning. And in the Certification, I even recommended that an examination be done to confirm
that suspicion.

07. Q: What gave you that suspicion of poisoning?

A: As there were no external signs of fatal injuries except that of the contusion or abrasion, measuring as that
size of a 25 centavo coin, I based my suspicion from the history of the victim and from the police investigation.

08. Q: You also mentioned in your Certification that there was no internal hemorrhage in the cadaver. Did you
open the body of the cadaver?

A: As I have already stated sir, I did not conduct an exhaustive autopsy. I made an incision on the abdomen
and I explored the internal organs of the cadaver with my hand in search for any clotting inside. But I found
none. I did not open the body of the cadaver.

09. Q: You mentioned about a contusion you have observed on the cadaver. Where was it located?

A: On the left portion of his back, sir.

10. Q: Now, is it possible that if somebody be hit by a hard object on that part of his body, his SPLEEN could
be injured?

A: Yes, sir. But that would depend on how strong or forceful the impact was.

In contrast, Dr. Mendez described in his testimony before the RTC31 how he conducted the autopsy of the body
of the victim Cantre, as follows –

Q What specific procedure did you do in connection with the exhumation of the body of the victim in this case?

A We opened the head, chest and the abdomen.

Q That was part of the autopsy you have conducted?

A Yes, sir.

Q Aside from opening the head as well as the body of the victim Philip Cantre, what other matters did you do in
connection therewith?

A We examined the internal organs.

Q What in particular internal organs you have examined?

A The brain, the heart, the lungs, the liver, the kidneys, the pancreas plus the intestines.

xxxx

Q The cause of death as you have listed here in your findings is listed as traumatic injury of the abdomen, will
you kindly tell us Doctor what is the significance of this medical term traumatic injury of the abdomen?
A We, medico-legal officers of the NBI don’t do what other doctors do as they make causes of death as internal
hemorrhage we particularly point to the injury of the body like this particular case the injury was at the
abdomen of the victim.

Q Will you tell as Doctor what particular portion of the abdomen of the victim this traumatic injury is located?

A Along the midline but the damaged organ was at the left.

Q What particular organ are you referring to?

A The spleen, sir.

The difference in the extent of the examinations conducted by the two doctors of the body of the victim Cantre
provides an adequate explanation for their apparent inconsistent findings as to the cause of death. Comparing
the limited autopsy conducted by Dr. Ulanday and her unconfirmed suspicion of food poisoning of the victim
Cantre, as opposed to the exhaustive autopsy performed by Dr. Mendez and his definitive finding of a ruptured
spleen as the cause of death of the victim Cantre, then the latter, without doubt, deserves to be given credence
by the courts.

Third, that the prosecution no longer presented Dr. Ulanday before the RTC despite being included in its list of
witnesses did not amount to a willful suppression of evidence that would give rise to the presumption that her
testimony would be adverse to the prosecution if produced.32 As this Court already expounded in the case
ofPeople v. Jumamoy33 –

The prosecution's failure to present the other witnesses listed in the information did not constitute, contrary to
the contention of the accused, suppression of evidence. The prosecutor has the exclusive prerogative to
determine the witnesses to be presented for the prosecution. If the prosecution has several eyewitnesses, as
in the instant case, the prosecutor need not present all of them but only as many as may be needed to meet
the quantum of proof necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The
testimonies of the other witnesses may, therefore, be dispensed with for being merely corroborative in nature.
This Court has ruled that the non-presentation of corroborative witnesses would not constitute suppression of
evidence and would not be fatal to the prosecution's case. Besides, there is no showing that the eyewitnesses
who were not presented in court as witnesses were not available to the accused. We reiterate the rule that the
adverse presumption from a suppression of evidence is not applicable when (1) the suppression is not willful;
(2) the evidence suppressed or withheld is merely corroborative or cumulative; (3) the evidence is at the
disposal of both parties; and (4) the suppression is an exercise of a privilege. Moreover, if the accused
believed that the failure to present the other witnesses was because their testimonies would be unfavorable to
the prosecution, he should have compelled their appearance, by compulsory process, to testify as his own
witnesses or even as hostile witnesses.

It was a judgment call for the prosecution to no longer present Dr. Ulanday before the RTC, perhaps believing
that it had already presented sufficient evidence to merit the conviction of petitioner Calimutan even without her
testimony. There was nothing, however, preventing the defense from calling on, or even compelling, with the
appropriate court processes, Dr. Ulanday to testify in court as its witness if it truly believed that her testimony
would be adverse to the case presented by the prosecution.

While this Court is in accord with the factual findings of the RTC and the Court of Appeals and affirms that
there is ample evidence proving that the death of the victim Cantre was caused by his lacerated spleen, an
injury which resulted from being hit by the stone thrown at him by petitioner Calimutan, this Court, nonetheless,
is at variance with the RTC and the Court of Appeals as to the determination of the appropriate crime or
offense for which the petitioner should have been convicted for.

Article 3 of the Revised Penal Code classifies felonies according to the means by which they are committed, in
particular: (1) intentional felonies, and (2) culpable felonies. These two types of felonies are distinguished from
each other by the existence or absence of malicious intent of the offender –
In intentional felonies, the act or omission of the offender is malicious. In the language of Art. 3, the act is
performed with deliberate intent (with malice). The offender, in performing the act or in incurring the
omission, has the intention to cause an injury to another. In culpable felonies, the act or omission of the
offender is notmalicious. The injury caused by the offender to another person is "unintentional, it being simply
the incident of another act performed without malice." (People vs. Sara, 55 Phil. 939). As stated in Art. 3, the
wrongful act results from imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight or lack of skill.34

In the Petition at bar, this Court cannot, in good conscience, attribute to petitioner Calimutan any malicious
intent to injure, much less to kill, the victim Cantre; and in the absence of such intent, this Court cannot sustain
the conviction of petitioner Calimutan for the intentional crime of homicide, as rendered by the RTC and
affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Instead, this Court finds petitioner Calimutan guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of the culpable felony of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal
Code.

Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code expressly provides for the definition of reckless imprudence –

Reckless imprudence consists in voluntarily, but without malice, doing or failing to do an act from which
material damage results by reason of inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the person performing or
failing to perform such act, taking into consideration his employment or occupation, degree of intelligence,
physical condition and other circumstances regarding persons, time and place.

There are several circumstances, discussed in the succeeding paragraphs, that demonstrate petitioner
Calimutan’s lack of intent to kill the victim Cantre, and conversely, that substantiate the view of this Court that
the death of victim Cantre was a result of petitioner Calimutan’s reckless imprudence. The RTC and the Court
of Appeals may have failed to appreciate, or had completely overlooked, the significance of such
circumstances.

It should be remembered that the meeting of the victim Cantre and witness Sañano, on the one hand, and
petitioner Calimutan and his helper Bulalacao, on the other, was a chance encounter as the two parties were
on their way to different destinations. The victim Cantre and witness Sañano were on their way home from a
drinking spree in Crossing Capsay, while petitioner Calimutan and his helper Bulalacao were walking from the
market to Crossing Capsay. While the evidence on record suggests that a running grudge existed between the
victim Cantre and Bulalacao, it did not establish that there was likewise an existing animosity between the
victim Cantre and petitioner Calimutan.1avvphil.net

In both versions of the events of 04 February 1996 submitted by the prosecution and the defense, it was the
victim Cantre who was the initial aggressor. He suddenly punched Bulalacao, the helper and companion of
petitioner Calimutan, when they met on the road. The attack of the victim Cantre was swift and unprovoked,
which spurred petitioner Calimutan into responsive action. Given that this Court dismisses the claim of
petitioner Calimutan that the victim Cantre was holding a knife, it does take into account that the victim Cantre
was considerably older and bigger, at 26 years of age and with a height of five feet and nine inches, compared
to Bulalacao, the boy he attacked, who was only 15 years old and stood at about five feet. Even with his bare
hands, the victim Cantre could have hurt Bulalacao. Petitioner Calimutan sought only to protect Bulalacao and
to stop the assault of the victim Cantre against the latter when he picked up a stone and threw it at the victim
Cantre. The stone was readily available as a weapon to petitioner Calimutan since the incident took place on a
road. That he threw the stone at the back of the victim Cantre does not automatically imply treachery on the
part of petitioner Calimutan as it is highly probable that in the midst of the fray, he threw the stone rashly and
impulsively, with no regard as to the position of the victim Cantre. When the victim Cantre stopped his
aggression after being hit by the stone thrown by petitioner Calimutan, the latter also desisted from any other
act of violence against the victim Cantre.

The above-described incident could not have taken more than just a few minutes. It was a very brief scuffle, in
which the parties involved would hardly have the time to ponder upon the most appropriate course of action to
take. With this in mind, this Court cannot concur in the declaration made by the Court of Appeals that petitioner
Calimutan threw the stone at the victim Cantre as a retaliatory act. It was evidently a swift and spontaneous
reaction to an unexpected and unprovoked attack by the victim Cantre on Bulalacao. That Bulalacao was
already able to run away from the victim Cantre may have escaped the notice of the petitioner Calimutan who,
under the pressure of the circumstances, was forced to act as quickly as possible.

The prosecution did not establish that petitioner Calimutan threw the stone at the victim Cantre with the
specific intent of killing, or at the very least, of harming the victim Cantre. What is obvious to this Court was
petitioner Calimutan’s intention to drive away the attacker who was, at that point, the victim Cantre, and to
protect his helper Bulalacao who was, as earlier described, much younger and smaller in built than the victim
Cantre.35

Granting that petitioner Calimutan was impelled by a lawful objective when he threw the stone at the victim
Cantre, his act was committed with inexcusable lack of precaution. He failed to consider that a stone the size
of a man’s fist could inflict substantial injury on someone. He also miscalculated his own strength, perhaps
unaware, or even completely disbelieving, that he could throw a stone with such force as to seriously injure, or
worse, kill someone, at a quite lengthy distance of ten meters.

Since it is irrefragable that the stone thrown by petitioner Calimutan at the victim Cantre was the proximate
cause of the latter’s death, despite being done with reckless imprudence rather than with malicious intent,
petitioner Calimutan remains civilly liable for such death. This Court, therefore, retains the reward made by the
RTC and the Court of Appeals to the heirs of the victim Cantre of the amount of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity
for his death and another P50,000.00 as moral damages.

WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 23306, dated 29 August 2001,
affirming the Decision of the RTC in Criminal Case No. 8184, dated 19 November 1998, is hereby MODIFIED.
Petitioner Calimutan is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide,
under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, and is accordingly sentenced to imprisonment for a minimum
period of 4 months of arresto mayor to a maximum period of two years and one day of prision correccional.
Petitioner Calimutan is further ORDERED to pay the heirs of the victim Cantre the amount of P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity for the latter’s death and P50,000.00 as moral damages.

SO ORDERED.

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
Chairperson

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice Asscociate Justice

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice

CERTIFICATION

Pursuant to Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above
Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court’s
Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice
Footnotes

1
Penned by Associate Justice Perlita J. Tria Tirona with Associate Justices Eugenio S. Labitoria and
Eloy R. Bello, Jr., concurring; Rollo, pp. 21-26.

2
Penned by Judge Narciso G. Bravo, Id., pp. 27-31.

3 RTC Records, p. 1.

4 Id., p. 18.

5 Order of Release, penned by Judge Designate Silvestre L. Aguirre, Id., p. 38.

6
Bailbond, Id., pp. 32-35.

7
Certificate of Arraignment, Id., p. 46.

8 TSN, 15 January 1998, pp. 1-13.

9 TSN, 16 January 1998, pp. 1-8.

10
RTC records, p. 12.

11
Id., p. 11.

12 Id., pp. 13-14.

13 TSN, 23 September 1997, pp. 1-16.

14 TSN, 17 March 1998, pp. 1-18.

15
Id.

16
Rollo, pp. 30-31.

17 Id., p. 25.

18 Id., p. 35.

19 Id., p. 17.

20
Revised Rules of Court, Rule 133, Section 2.

21
TSN, 23 September 1993, p. 2.

22 Pedro P. Solis, LEGAL MEDICINE, p. 2 (1987).

23 REVISED RULES OF COURT, Rule 130, Section 49.

24
Supra note 22, p. 317.
25
Id., p. 319.

26
II Seymour I. Schwartz, et al., PRINCIPLES OF SURGERY, p. 1377 (4th ed., 1984).

27 Vda. de Bataclan v. Medina, 102 Phil. 181, 186 (1957).

28 RTC records, p. 12.

29 Id., p. 11.

30
Id., p. 10.

31
TSN, 23 September 1997, pp. 5-9.

32 Revised Rules of Court, Rule 131, Section 3(e).

33 G.R. No. 101584, 07 April 1993, 221 SCRA 333, 344-345.

34 I Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, pp. 33-34 (13th Ed., 1993).

35
In the following cases, the accused were convicted of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide,
rather than murder or homicide, for they were found to have acted without criminal intent: (1) The
accused, a faith healer, who caused the death of a boy after she immersed the boy in a drum of water,
banged the boy’s head against a wooden bench, pounded the boy’s chest with clenched fists, and
stabbed the boy to collect his blood. The boy was allegedly possessed by an evil spirit which the
accused was merely attempting to drive out (People v. Carmen, G.R. No. 137268, 26 March 2001, 355
SCRA 267); (2) The accused shot his gun at the ground to stop a fist fight, and when the bullet
ricocheted, it hit and killed a bystander (People v. Nocum, 77 Phil. 1018 [1947]); (3) The accused
carried a gun to shoot birds, when the victim attempted to wrest possession thereof. The gun went off,
hitting and killing the victim (People v. Sara, 55 Phil 939 [1931]); and (4) While hunting, the accused
shot at and killed what he thought was a prey, but who turned out to be one of his companions (People
v. Ramirez, 48 Phil 204 [1926]).

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 4963 September 15, 1909

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
GO CHICO, defendant-appellant.

Gibbs and Gale for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Harvey for appellee.

MORELAND, J.:

The defendant is charged with the violation of section 1 of Act No. 1696 of the Philippine Commission, which
reads as follows:

Any person who shall expose, or cause or permit to be exposed, to public view on his own premises, or
who shall expose, or cause to be exposed, to public view, either on his own premises or elsewhere, any
flag, banner, emblem, or device used during the late insurrection in the Philippine Islands to designate
or identify those in armed rebellion against the United States, or any flag, banner, emblem, or device
used or adopted at any time by the public enemies of the United States in the Philippine Island for the
purpose of public disorder or of rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States in the
Philippine Islands, or any flag, banner, emblem, or device of the Katipunan Society, or which is
commonly known as such, shall be punished by a fine of not less that five hundred pesos for more than
five thousand pesos, or by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than five years, or by
both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.

The defendant was tried in the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila on the 8th day of September, 1908.
After hearing the evidence adduced the court adjudged the defendant guilty of the crime charged and
sentenced him under that judgment to pay a fine of P500, Philippine currency, and to pay the costs of the
action, and to suffer subsidiary imprisonment during the time and in the form and in the place prescribed by law
until said fine should be paid. From that judgment and sentence the defendant appealed to this court.

A careful examination of the record brought to this court discloses the following facts:

That on or about the 4th day of August, 1908, in the city of Manila, the appellant Go Chico displayed in one of
the windows and one of the show cases of his store, No. 89 Calle Rosario, a number of medallions, in the form
of a small button, upon the faces of which were imprinted in miniature the picture of Emilio Aguinaldo, and the
flag or banner or device used during the late insurrection in the Philippine Islands to designate and identify
those in armed insurrection against the United States. On the day previous to the one above set forth the
appellant had purchased the stock of goods in said store, of which the medallions formed a part, at a public
sale made under authority of the sheriff of the city of Manila. On the day in question, the 4th of August
aforesaid, the appellant was arranging his stock of goods for the purpose of displaying them to the public and
in so doing placed in his showcase and in one of the windows of his store the medallions described. The
appellant was ignorant of the existence of a law against the display of the medallions in question and had
consequently no corrupt intention. The facts above stated are admitted.

The appellant rests his right to acquittal upon two propositions:

First. That before a conviction under the law cited can be had, a criminal intent upon the part of the accused
must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Second. That the prohibition of the law is directed against the use of the identical banners, devices, or
emblems actually used during the Philippine insurrection by those in armed rebellion against the United States.

In the opinion of this court it is not necessary that the appellant should have acted with the criminal intent. In
many crimes, made such by statutory enactment, the intention of the person who commits the crime is entirely
immaterial. This is necessarily so. If it were not, the statute as a deterrent influence would be substantially
worthless. It would be impossible of execution. In many cases the act complained of is itself that which
produces the pernicious effect which the statute seeks to avoid. In those cases the pernicious effect is
produced with precisely the same force and result whether the intention of the person performing the act is
good or bad. The case at bar is a perfect illustration of this. The display of a flag or emblem used particularly
within a recent period, by the enemies of the Government tends to incite resistance to governmental functions
and insurrection against governmental authority just as effectively if made in the best of good faith as if made
with the most corrupt intent. The display itself, without the intervention of any other factor, is the evil. It is quite
different from that large class of crimes, made such by the common law or by statute, in which the injurious
effect upon the public depends upon the corrupt intention of the person perpetrating the act. If A discharges a
loaded gun and kills B, the interest which society has in the act depends, not upon B's death, upon the
intention with which A consummated the act. If the gun were discharged intentionally, with the purpose of
accomplishing the death of B, then society has been injured and its security violated; but if the gun was
discharged accidentally on the part of A, then society, strictly speaking, has no concern in the matter, even
though the death of B results. The reason for this is that A does not become a danger to society and
institutions until he becomes a person with a corrupt mind. The mere discharge of the gun and the death of B
do not of themselves make him so. With those two facts must go the corrupt intent to kill. In the case at bar,
however, the evil to society and the Governmental does not depend upon the state of mind of the one who
displays the banner, but upon the effect which that display has upon the public mind. In the one case the public
is affected by the intention of the actor; in the other by the act itself.

It is stated in volume 12 of Cyc., page 148, that —

The legislature, however, may forbid the doing of an act and make its commission a crime without
regard to the intent of the doer, and if such an intention appears the courts must give it effect although
the intention may have been innocent. Whether or not in a given case the statute is to be so construed
is to be determined by the court by considering the subject-matter of the prohibition as well as the
language of the statute, and thus ascertaining the intention of the legislature.

In the case of The People vs. Kibler (106 N. Y., 321) the defendant was charged with the sale of adulterated
milk under a statute reading as follows:

No person or persons shall sell or exchange or expose for sale or exchange any impure, unhealthy,
adulterated, of unwholesome milk.

It was proved in that case that one Vandeburg purchased at the defendant's store 1 pint of milk which was
shown to contain a very small percentage of water more than that permitted by the statute. There was no
dispute about the facts, but the objection made by the defendant was that he was not allowed, upon the trial, to
show an absence of criminal intent, or to go the jury upon the question whether it existed, but was condemned
under a charge from the court which made his intent totally immaterial and his guilt consist in having sold the
adulterated article whether he knew it or not and however carefully he may have sought to keep on hand and
sell the genuine article.

The opinion of the court in that case says:

As the law stands, knowledge or intention forms no elements of the offense. The act alone, irrespective
of its motive, constitutes the crime.

xxx xxx xxx


It is notorious that the adulteration of food products has grown to proportions so enormous as to
menace the health and safety of the people. Ingenuity keeps pace with greed, and the careless and
heedless consumers are exposed to increasing perils. To redress such evils is a plain duty but a
difficult task. Experience has taught the lesson that repressive measures which depend for their
efficiency upon proof of the dealer's knowledge or of his intent to deceive and defraud are of title use
and rarely accomplish their purpose. Such an emergency may justify legislation which throws upon the
seller the entire responsibility of the purity and soundness of what he sells and compels him to know
and certain.

In the case of Gardner vs. The People (62 N. Y., 299) the question arose under a statute which provided that
an inspector of elections of the city of New York should not be removed from office except "after notice in
writing to the officer sought to be removed, which notice shall set forth clearly and distinctly the reasons for his
removal," and further provided that any person who removed such an officer without such notice should be
guilty of a misdemeanor. An officer named Sheridan was removed by Gardener, the defendant, without notice.
Gardener was arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor under the statute. He appealed from the judgment of
conviction and the opinion from which the following quotation is made was written upon the decision of that
appeal. Chief Justice Church, writing the opinion of the court, says in relation to criminal intent:

In short, the defense was an honest misconstruction of the law under legal device. The court ruled out
the evidence offered, and held that intentionally doing the act prohibited constituted the offense. It is
quite clear that the facts offered to be shown, if true, would relieve the defendant from the imputation of
a corrupt intent, and, indeed, from any intent to violate the statute. The defendants made a mistake of
law. Such mistakes do not excuse the commission of prohibited acts. "The rule on the subject appears
to be, that in acts mala in se, intent governs but in those mala prohibit a, the only inquiry is, has the law
been violated?

xxx xxx xxx

The authorities seem to establish that sustain and indictment for doing a prohibited act, it is sufficient to
prove that the act was knowingly and intentionally done.

xxx xxx xxx

In this case, if the defendants could have shown that they believed that in fact notice had been given to
the inspector, although it had not, they would not have been guilty of the offense, because the intention
to do the act would have been wanting. Their plea is: True, we intended to remove the inspector without
notice, but we thought the law permitted it. This was a mistake of law, and is not strictly a defense.

xxx xxx xxx

If the offense is merely technical, the punishment can be made correspondingly nominal; while a rule
requiring proof of a criminal intent to violate the statute, independent of an intent to do the act which the
statute declares shall constitute the offense, would, in many cases, prevent the restraining influence
which the statute was designed to secure.

In the case of Fiedler vs. Darrin (50 N.Y., 437) the court says:

But when an act is illegal, the intent of the offender is immaterial.

In the case of The Commonwealth vs. Murphy (165 Mass., 66) the court says:

In general, it may be said that there must be malus animus, or a criminal intent. But there is a large
class of cases in which, on grounds of public policy, certain acts are made punishable without proof that
the defendant understands the facts that give character to his act.
In such cases it is deemed best to require everybody at his peril to ascertain whether his act comes
within the legislative prohibition.

xxx xxx xxx

Considering the nature of the offense, the purpose to be accomplished, the practical methods available
for the enforcement of the law, and such other matters as throw light upon the meaning of the language,
the question in interpreting a criminal statute is whether the intention of the legislature was to make
knowledge of the facts an essential element of the offense, or to put upon everyone the burden of
finding out whether his contemplated act is prohibited, and of refraining from it if it is.

In the case of Halsted vs. The State (41 N. J. L., 552; 32 Am. Rep., 247), the question of a criminal intent arose
under a statute, under which the defendant was convicted of a crime, providing that if any township committee
or other body shall disburse or vote for the disbursement of public moneys in excess of appropriations made
for the purpose, the persons constituting such board shall be guilty of a crime. The defendant was one who
violated this law by voting to incur obligations in excess of the appropriation. He was convicted and appealed
and the opinion from which the quotation is taken was written upon a decision of that appeal. That court says:

When the State had closed, the defense offered to show that the defendant, in aiding in the passage
and effectuation of the resolution which I have pronounced to be illegal, did so under the advice of
counsel and in good faith, and from pure and honest motives, and that he therein exercise due care
and caution.

xxx xxx xxx

As there is an undoubted competency in the lawmaker to declare an act criminal, irrespective of the
knowledge or motive of the doer of such act, there can be of necessity, no judicial authority having the
power to require, in the enforcement of the law, such knowledge or motive to be shown. In such
instances the entire function of the court is to find out the intention of the legislature, and to enforce the
law in absolute conformity to such intention. And in looking over the decided cases on the subject it will
be found that in the considered adjudications this inquiry has been the judicial guide.

In the case of Rex vs. Ogden (6 C. & P., 631; 25 E. C. L., 611), the prisoner was indicted for unlawfully
transposing from one piece of wrought plate to another the lion-poisson contrary to the statutes. It was
conceded that the act was done without any fraudulent intention. The court said:

There are no words in the act of Parliament referring to any fraudulent intention. The words of it are,
'Shall transpose or remove, or cause of procure to be transposed or removed, from one piece of
wrought plate to another.

In the case of The State vs. McBrayer (98 N. C., 623) the court stated:

It is a mistaken notion that positive, willful intent to violate the criminal law is an essential ingredient in
every criminal offense, and that where is an absence of such intent there is no offense; this is
especially true as to statutory offenses. When the statute plainly forbids an act to be done, and it is
done by some person, the law implies conclusively the guilty intent, although the offender was honestly
mistaken as to the meaning of the law he violates. When the language is plain and positive, and the
offense is not made to depend upon the positive, willful intent and purpose, nothing is left to
interpretation.

In the case of the Commonwealth vs. Weiss (139 Pa. St., 247), the question arose on an appeal by the
defendant from a judgment requiring him to pay a penalty for a violation of the statute of the State which
provided that any person would be liable to pay a penalty "who shall manufacture, sell, or offer or expose for
sale, or have in his possession with intent to sell," oleomargarine, etc. At the trial the defendant requested the
court to instruct the injury that if they believed, from the evidence, that the defendant did not knowingly furnish
or authorize to be furnished, or knew of there furnished, to any of his customers any oleomargarine, but, as far
as he knew, furnished genuine butter, then the verdict must be for the defendant. The court refused to make
the charge as requested and that is the only point upon which the defendant appealed.

The court says:

The prohibition is absolute and general; it could not be expressed in terms more explicit and
comprehensive. The statutory definition of the offense embraces no word implying that the forbidden
act shall be done knowingly or willfully, and if it did, the designed purpose of the act would be practically
defeated. The intention of the legislature is plain, that persons engaged in the traffic so engage in it at
their peril and that they can not set up their ignorance of the nature and qualities of the commodities
they sell, as a defense.

The following authorities are to the same effect: State vs. Gould (40 Ia., 374); Commonwealth vs. Farren (9
Allen, 489); Commonwealth vs. Nichols (10 Allen, 199); Commonwealth vs. Boyton (2 Allen, 160); Wharton's
Criminal Law, section 2442; Commonwealth vs. Sellers (130 Pa., 32); 3 Greenleaf on Evidence, section 21;
Farrell vs. The State (32 Ohio State, 456); Beekman vs. Anthony (56 Miss., 446); The People vs. Roby (52
Mich., 577).

It is clear from the authorities cited that in the act under consideration the legislature did not intend that a
criminal intent should be a necessary element of the crime. The statutory definition of the offense embraces no
word implying that the prohibited act shall be done knowingly or willfully. The wording is plain. The Act means
what it says. Nothing is left to the interpretation.

Care must be exercised in distiguishing the differences between the intent to commit the crime and the intent
to perpetrate the act. The accused did not consciously intend to commit a crime; but he did intend to commit an
act, and the act is, by the very nature of things, the crime itself — intent and all. The wording of the law is such
that the intent and the act are inseparable. The act is the crime. The accused intended to put the device in his
window. Nothing more is required to commit the crime.

We do not believe that the second proposition of the accused, namely, that the law is applicable only to the
identical banners, etc., actually used in the late insurrection, and not to duplicates of those banners, can be
sustained.

It is impossible that the Commission should have intended to prohibit the display of the flag or flags actually
used in the insurrection, and, at the same time, permit exact duplicates thereof (saving, perhaps, size) to be
displayed without hindrance. In the case before us, to say that the display of a certain banner is a crime and
that the display of its exact duplicate is not is to say nonsense. The rules governing the interpretation of
statutes are rules of construction not destruction. To give the interpretation contended for by the appellant
would, as to this particular provision, nullify the statute altogether.

The words "used during the late insurrection in the Philippine Islands to designate or identity those in armed
rebellion against the United States" mean not only the identical flags actually used in the insurrection, but any
flag which is of that type. This description refers not to a particular flag, but to a type of flag. That phrase was
used because there was and is no other way of describing that type of flag. While different words might be
employed, according to the taste of the draftsman, the method of description would have to be the same.
There is no concrete word known by which that flag could be aptly or properly described. There was no
opportunity, within the scope of a legislative enactment, to describe the physical details. It had no
characteristics whatever, apart from its use in the insurrection, by which it could, in such enactment, be
identified. The great and the only characteristic which it had upon the which the Commission could seize as a
means of description and identification was the fact that it was used in the insurrection. There was, therefore,
absolutely no way in which the Commission could, in the Act, describe the flag except by reciting where and
how it was used. It must not be forgotten that the Commission, by the words and phrases used, was not
attempting to describe a particular flag, but a type of flag. They were not describing a flag used upon a
particular field or in a certain battle, but a type of flag used by an army — a flag under which many persons
rallied and which stirred their sentiments and feelings wherever seen or in whatever form it appeared. It is a
mere incident of description that the flag was used upon a particular field or in a particular battle. They were
describing the flag not a flag. It has a quality and significance and an entity apart from any place where or form
in which it was used.

Language is rarely so free from ambiguity as to be incapable of being used in more than one sense,
and the literal interpretation of a statute may lead to an absurdity or evidently fail to give the real intent
of the legislature. When this is the case, resort is had to the principle that the spirit of a law controls the
letter, so that a thing which is within the intention of a statute is as much within the statute as if it were
within the letter, and a thing which is within the letter of the statute is not within the statute unless it be
within the intention of the makers, and the statute should be construed as to advance the remedy and
suppress the mischief contemplated by the framers. (U. S. vs. Kirby, 7 Wall., 487; State Bolden, 107
La., 116, 118; U.S.vs. Buchanan, 9 Fed. Rep., 689; Green vs. Kemp, 13 Mass., 515; Lake Shore R. R.
Co. vs. Roach, 80 N. Y., 339; Delafield vs. Brady, 108 N. Y., 524 Doyle vs. Doyle, 50 Ohio State, 330.)

The intention of the legislature and the object aimed at, being the fundamental inquiry in judicial
construction, are to control the literal interpretation of particular language in a statute, and language
capable of more than one meaning is to be taken in that sense which will harmonize with such intention
and object, and effect the purpose of the enactment. (26 Am. & Eng. Ency. of Law., 602.)

Literally hundreds of cases might be cited to sustain this proposition.

The preamble is no part of the statute, but as setting out the object and intention of the legislature, it is
considered in the construction of an act. Therefore, whenever there is ambiguity, or wherever the words
of the act have more than one meaning, and there is no doubt as to the subject-matter to which they
are to be applied, the preamble may be used." (U. S. vs. Union Pacific R. R. Co., 91 U. S., 72;
Platt vs. Union Pacific R. R. Co., 99 U. S., 48; Myer vs. Western Car Co., 102 U. S., 1; Holy Trinity
Church vs. U. S., 143 U. S., 457; Coosaw Mining Co. vs. South Carolina, 144 U. S., 550;
Cohn vs. Barrett, 5 Cal., 195; Barnes vs.Jones, 51 Cal., 303; Field vs. Gooding, 106 Mass., 310;
People vs. Molineaux, 40 N. Y., 113; Smith vs. The People, 47 N. Y., 330; The People vs. Davenport,
91 N.Y., 547; The People vs. O'Brien, 111 N.Y., 1)

The statute, then, being penal, must be construed with such strictness as to carefully safeguard the
rights of the defendant and at the same time preserve the obvious intention of the legislature. If the
language be plain, it will be construed as it reads, and the words of the statute given their full meaning;
if ambiguous, the court will lean more strongly in favor of the defendant than it would if the statute were
remedial. In both cases it will endeavor to effect substantial justice." (Bolles vs. Outing Co., 175 U. S.,
262, 265; U. S. vs.Wiltberger, 5 Wheat., 76, 95; U. S. vs. Reese, 92 U. S., 214)

It is said that notwithstanding this rule (the penal statutes must be construde strictly) the intention of the
lawmakers must govern in the construction of penal as well as other statutes. This is true, but this is not
a new, independent rule which subverts the old. It is a modification of the known maxim and amounts to
this -- that though penal statutes are to be construed strictly, they are not be construed so strictly as to
defeat the obvious purpose of the legislature. (U. S. vs. Wiltberger, 5 Wheat., 76; Taylor vs. Goodwin, L.
R. 4, Q. B. Civ., 228.)

In the latter case it was held that under a statute which imposed a penalty for "furiously driving any sort of
carriage" a person could be convicted for immoderately driving a bicycle.

It is presumed that the legislature intends to impart to its enactments such a meaning as will render
then operative and effective, and to prevent persons from eluding or defeating them. Accordingly, in
case of any doubt or obscurity, the construction will be such as to carry out these objects. (Black,
Interpretation of Laws, p. 106.)

In The People vs. Supervisors (43 N. Y., 130) the court said:
The occasion of the enactment of a law always be referred to in interpreting and giving effect to it. The
court should place itself in the situation of the legislature and ascertain the necessity and probable
object of the statute, and then give such construction to the language used as to carry the intention of
the legislature into effect so far as it can be ascertained from the terms of the statute itself. (U.
S. vs. Union Pacific R. R. Co., 91 U. S., 72, 79.)

We do not believe that in construing the statute in question there is necessity requiring that clauses should be
taken from the position given them and placed in other portions of the statute in order to give the whole Act a
reasonable meaning. Leaving all of the clauses located as they now are in the statute, a reasonable
interpretation, based upon the plain and ordinary meaning of the words used, requires that the Act should be
held applicable to the case at bar.

The judgment of the court below and the sentence imposed thereunder are hereby affirmed. So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Torres, and Carson, JJ., concur.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-42288 February 16, 1935

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
CORNELIO BAYONA, defendant-appellant.

Gervasio Diaz for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for appellee.

VICKERS, J.:

This is an appeal from a decision of Judge Braulio Bejasa in the Court of First Instance of Capiz, finding the
defendant guilty of a violation of section 416 of the Election Law and sentencing him to suffer imprisonment for
thirty days and to pay a fine of P50, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs.

The facts as found by the trial judge are as follows:

A eso de las once de la mañana del dia 5 de junio de 1934, mientras se celebrahan las elecciones
generales en el precinto electoral numero 4, situado en el Barrio de Aranguel del Municipio de Pilar,
Provincia de Capiz, el aqui acusado fue sorprendido por Jose E. Desiderio, que era entonces el
representante del Departamento del Interior para inspecionar las elecciones generales en la Provincia
de Capiz, y por el comandante de la Constabularia F.B. Agdamag que iba en aquella ocasion con el
citado Jose E. Desiderio, portando en su cinto el revolver Colt de calibre 32, No. 195382, Exhibit A,
dentro del cerco que rodeaba el edificio destinado para el citado colegio electoral numero 4 y a una
distancia de 22 metros del referido colegio electoral. Inmediatament Jose E. Desiderio se incauto del
revolver en cuestion.

La defensa, por medio del testimonio de Jose D. Benliro y de Dioscoro Buenvenida, trato de establecer
que el aqui acusado paro en la calle que daba frente al colegio electoral numero 4 a invitacion de dicho
Jose D. Benliro y con el objeto de suplicarle al mencionado acusado para llevar a su casa a los
electores del citado Jose D. Benliro que ya habian terminado de votar, y que cuando llegaron Jose E.
Desidierio y el comadante F.B. Agdamag, el aqui acusado estaba en la calle. Desde el colegio electoral
hasta el sitio en que, segun dichos testigos, estaba el acusado cuando se le quito el revolver Exhibit a,
hay una distancia de 27 metros.

Appellant's attorney makes the following assignments of error:

1. El Juzgado a quo erro al declarar que el apelante fue sorprendido con su revolver dentro del cerco
de la casa escuela del Barrio de Aranguel, Municipio de Pilar, que fue habilitado como colegio electoral.

2. El Juzgado a quo erro al declarar al apelante culpable de la infraccion de la Ley Electoral querrellada
y, por consiguiente, al condenarle a prision y multa.

As to the question of fact raised by the first assignment of error, it is sufficient to say that the record shows that
both Jose E. Desiderio, a representative of the Department of the Interior, and Major Agdamag of the
Philippine Constabulary, who had been designated to supervise the elections in the Province of Capiz, testified
positively that the defendant was within the fence surrounding the polling place when Desiderio took
possession of the revolver the defendant was carrying. This also disposes of that part of the argument under
the second assignment of error based on the theory that the defendant was in a public road, where he had a
right to be, when he was arrested. The latter part of the argument under the second assignment of error is that
if it be conceded that the defendant went inside of the fence, he is nevertheless not guilty of a violation of the
Election Law, because he was called by a friend and merely approached him to find out what he wanted and
had no interest in the election; that there were many people in the public road in front of the polling place, and
the defendant could not leave his revolver in his automobile, which he himself was driving, without running the
risk of losing it and thereby incurring in a violation of the law.

As to the contention that the defendant could not leave his revolver in his automobile without the risk of losing it
because he was alone, it is sufficient to say that under the circumstances it was not necessary for the
defendant to leave his automobile merely because somebody standing near the polling place had called him,
nor does the record show that it was necessary for the defendant to carry arms on that occasion.

The Solicitor-General argues that since the Government does not especially construct buildings for electoral
precincts but merely utilizes whatever building there may be available, and all election precincts are within fifty
meters from some road, a literal application of the law would be absurd, because members of the police force
or Constabulary in pursuit of a criminal would be included in that prohibition and could not use the road in
question if they were carrying firearms; that people living in the vicinity of electoral precincts would be
prohibited from cleaning or handling their firearms within their own residences on registration and election
days;

That the object of the Legislature was merely to prohibit the display of firearms with intention to influence in any
way the free and voluntary exercise of suffrage;

That if the real object of the Legislature was to insure the free exercise of suffrage, the prohibition in question
should only be applied when the facts reveal that the carrying of the firearms was intended for the purpose of
using them directly or indirectly to influence the free choice of the electors (citing the decision of this court in
the case of People vs. Urdeleon [G.R. No. 31536, promulgated November 20, 1929, not reported], where a
policeman, who had been sent to a polling place to preserve order on the request of the chairman of the board
of election inspectors, was acquitted); that in the case at bar there is no evidence that the defendant went to
the election precinct either to vote or to work for the candidacy of anyone, but on the other hand the evidence
shows that the defendant had no intention to go to the electoral precinct; that he was merely passing along the
road in front of the building where the election was being held when a friend of his called him; that while in the
strict, narrow interpretation of the law the defendant is guilty, it would be inhuman and unreasonable to convict
him.

We cannot accept the reasons advanced by the Solicitor-General for the acquittal of the defendant. The law
which the defendant violated is a statutory provision, and the intent with which he violated it is immaterial. It
may be conceded that the defendant did not intend to intimidate any elector or to violate the law in any other
way, but when he got out of his automobile and carried his revolver inside of the fence surrounding the polling
place, he committed the act complained of, and he committed it willfully. The act prohibited by the Election Law
was complete. The intention to intimidate the voters or to interfere otherwise with the election is not made an
essential element of the offense. Unless such an offender actually makes use of his revolver, it would be
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove that he intended to intimidate the voters.

The rule is that in acts mala in se there must be a criminal intent, but in those mala prohibita it is sufficient if the
prohibited act was intentionally done. "Care must be exercised in distinguishing the difference between the
intent to commit the crime and the intent to perpetrate the act. ..." (U.S. vs. Go Chico, 14 Phil., 128.)

While it is true that, as a rule and on principles of abstract justice, men are not and should not be held
criminally responsible for acts committed by them without guilty knowledge and criminal or at least evil
intent (Bishop's New Crim. Law, vol. I, sec. 286), the courts have always recognized the power of the
legislature, on grounds of public policy and compelled by necessity, "the great master of things", to
forbid in a limited class of cases the doing of certain acts, and to make their commission criminal
without regard to the intent of the doer. (U.S. vs. Go Chico, 14 Phil., 128; U.S. vs. Ah Chong, 15 Phil.,
488.) In such cases no judicial authority has the power to require, in the enforcement of the law, such
knowledge or motive to be shown. (U.S. vs. Siy Cong Bieng and Co Kong, 30 Phil., 577.)
The cases suggested by the Solicitor-General do not seem to us to present any difficulty in the enforcement of
the law. If a man with a revolver merely passes along a public road on election day, within fifty meters of a
polling place, he does not violate the provision of law in question, because he had no intent to perpetrate the
act prohibited, and the same thing would be true of a peace officer in pursuing a criminal; nor would the
prohibition extend to persons living within fifty meters of a polling place, who merely clean or handle their
firearms within their own residences on election day, as they would not be carrying firearms within the
contemplation of the law; and as to the decision in the case of People vs. Urdeleon, supra, we have recently
held in the case of People vs. Ayre, and Degracia (p. 169, ante), that a policeman who goes to a polling place
on the request of the board of election inspectors for the purpose of maintaining order is authorized by law to
carry his arms.

If we were to adopt the specious reasoning that the appellant should be acquitted because it was not proved
that he tried to influence or intended to influence the mind of any voter, anybody could sell intoxicating liquor or
hold a cockfight or a horse race on election day with impunity.

As to the severity of the minimum penalty provided by law for a violation of the provision in question, that is a
matter for the Chief Executive or the Legislature.

For the foregoing reasons, the decision appealed from is affirmed, with the costs against the appellant.

Avanceña, C.J., Street, Abad Santos, and Hull, JJ., concur.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-16486 March 22, 1921

THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appelle,


vs.
CALIXTO VALDEZ Y QUIRI, defendant-appellant.

Angel Roco for appellant.


Acting Attorney-General Feria for appellee.

STREET, J.:

The rather singular circumstances attending the commission of the offense of homicide which is under
discussion in the present appeal are these:

At about noon, on November 29, 1919, while the interisland steamer Vigan was anchored in the Pasig River a
short distance from the lighthouse and not far from where the river debouches into the Manila Bay, a small
boat was sent out to raise the anchor. The crew of this boat consisted of the accused, Calixto Valdez y Quiri,
and six others among whom was the deceased, Venancio Gargantel. The accused was in charge of the men
and stood at the stern of the boat, acting as helmsman, while Venancio Gargantel was at the bow.

The work raising the anchor seems to have proceeded too slowly to satisfy the accused, and he accordingly
began to abuse the men with offensive epithets. Upon this Venancio Gargantel remonstrated, saying that it
would be better, and they would work better, if he would not insult them. The accused took this remonstrance
as a display of insubordination; and rising in rage he moved towards Venancio, with a big knife in hand,
threatening to stab him. At the instant when the accused had attained to within a few feet of Venancio, the
latter, evidently believing himself in great and immediate peril, threw himself into the water and disappeared
beneath its surface to be seen no more.

The boat in which this incident took place was at the time possibly 30 or 40 yards from shore and was distant,
say, 10 paces from the Vigan. Two scows were moored to the shore, but between these and the boat
intervened a space which may be estimated at 18 or 20 yards. At it was full midday, and there was nothing to
obstruct the view of persons upon the scene, the failure of Venancio Gargantel to rise to the surface
conclusively shows that, owing to his possible inability to swim or the strength of the current, he was borne
down into the water and was drowned.

Two witnesses who were on the boat state that, immediately after Venancio leaped into the water, the accused
told the remaining members of the crew to keep quiet or he would kill them. For this reason they made no
movement looking to rescue; but inasmuch as there witnesses are sure that Venancio did not again come to
the surface, efforts at rescue would have been fruitless. The fact that the accused at his juncture threatened
the crew with violence is, therefore, of no moment except tho show the temporary excitement under which he
was laboring.

On the next day one of the friends of Venancio Gargantel posted himself near the lighthouse to watch for the
body, in the hope that it might come to the surface and could thus be recovered. Though his friendly vigil lasted
three days nothing came of it.

It may be added that Venancio has not returned to his lodging in Manila, where he lived as a bachelor in the
house of an acquaintance; and his personal belongings have been delivered to a representative of his mother
who lives in the Province of Iloilo. His friends and relatives, it is needless to say, take it for granted that he is
dead.

The circumstances narrated above are such in our opinion as to exclude all reasonable possibility that
Venancio Gargantel may have survived; and we think that the trial judge did not err in holding that he is dead
and that he came to his death by drowning under the circumstances stated. The proof is direct that he never
rose to the surface after jumping into the river, so far as the observers could see; and this circumstance,
coupled with the known fact that human life must inevitably be extinguished by asphyxiation under water, is
conclusive of his death. The possibility that he might have swum ashore, after rising in a spot hidden from the
view of his companions, we consider too remote to be entertained for a moment.

As to the criminal responsibility of the accused for the death thus occasioned the likewise can be no doubt; for
it is obvious that the deceased, in throwing himself in the river, acted solely in obedience to the instinct of self-
preservation and was in no sense legally responsible for his own death. As to him it was but the exercise of a
choice between two evils, and any reasonable person under the same circumstances might have done the
same. As was once said by a British court, "If a man creates in another man's mind an immediate sense of
dander which causes such person to try to escape, and in so doing he injuries himself, the person who creates
such a state of mind is responsible for the injuries which result." (Reg. vs. Halliday, 61 L. T. Rep. [N.S.], 701.

In this connection a pertinent decision from the Supreme Court of Spain, of July 13, 1882, is cited in the brief of
The Attorney-General, as follows: It appeared that upon a certain occasion an individual, after having inflicted
sundry injuries upon another with a cutting weapon, pointed a shotgun at the injured person and to escape the
discharge the latter had to jump into a river where he perished by drowning. The medical authorities charged
with conducting the autopsy found that only one of the wounds caused by a cut could have resulted in the
death of the injured person, supposing that he had received no succour, and that by throwing himself in the
river he in fact died of asphyxia from submersion. Having been convicted as the author of the homicide, the
accused alleged upon appeal that he was only guilty of the offense of inflicting serious physical injuries, or at
most of frustrated homicide. The Supreme Court, disallowing the appeal, enunciated the following doctrine:
"That even though the death of the injured person should not be considered as the exclusive and necessary
effect of the very grave wound which almost completely severed his axillary artery, occasioning a hemorrhage
impossible to stanch under the circumstances in which that person was placed, nevertheless as the
persistence of the aggression of the accused compelled his adversary, in order to escape the attack, to leap
into the river, an act which the accused forcibly compelled the injured person to do after having inflicted,
among others, a mortal wound upon him and as the aggressor by said attack manifested a determined
resolution to cause the death of the deceased, by depriving him of all possible help and putting him in the very
serious situation narrated in the decision appealed from, the trial court, in qualifying the act prosecuted as
consummated homicide, did not commit any error of law, as the death of the injured person was due to the act
of the accused." (II Hidalgo, Codigo Penal, p. 183.)

The accused must, therefore, be considered the responsible author of the death of Venancio Gargantel, and
he was properly convicted of the offense of homicide. The trial judge appreciated as an attenuating
circumstance the fact that the offender had no intention to commit so great a wrong as that committed. (Par. 3,
art. 9 Penal Code.) In accordance with this finding the judge sentenced the accused to undergo imprisonment
for twelve years and one day, reclusion temporal, to suffer the corresponding accessories, to indemnify the
family of the deceased in the sum of P500, and to pay the costs. Said sentenced is in accordance with law;
and it being understood that the accessories appropriate to the case are those specified in article 59 of the
Penal Code, the same is affirmed, with costs against the appellant. So ordered.

Mapa, C.J., Malcolm, Avanceña and Villamor, JJ., concur.


Separate Opinions

ARAULLO, J., dissenting:

I dissent from the majority opinion in this case.

The only fact that the evidence shows in that Venancio Gargantel, one of those who were in a boat of the
steamerVigan subject to the orders of the accused Calixto Valdez and who at the time was engaged in the
work of raising the anchor of that vessel, which was then lying at the Pasig River, a short distance from the
lighthouse and not far from its mouth at the Manila Bay, upon seeing that the accused was approaching him,
armed with a big knife, and in the attitude of attacking him, threw himself into the water and disappeared from
the surface and had not been seen again. This event took place at noon on November 29, 1919, the boat
being then about 30 or 40 yards from land and about 10 steps from the Vigan, there being two lighters moored
to the shore and at a distance of about 18 or 20 yards from the boat. All of these facts are stated in the
decision itself.

The original information in the present case, charging Calixto Valdez y Quiri with the crime of homicide and
alleging that as a result of his having thrown himself into the river under the circumstances mentioned,
Venancio Gargantel was drowned, was presented on December 8, 1919, that is, nine days afterwards.

There is no evidence whatever that the corpse of Venancio Gargantel had been found or, what is the same
thing, that he had died. From November 28, the day when the event occurred, until December 8, when the
information was filed, it cannot in any manner be maintained that the necessary time had passed for us to
properly conclude, as is alleged in the information, that said Gargantel had died by drowning, as a
consequence of his having thrown himself into the water upon seeing himself threatened and attacked by the
accused. Neither does it appear in the evidence that all the precaution necessary for us to assure ourselves,
as a sure and proven fact, that Venancio Gargantel then died by drowning, were taken; nor is there any
evidence that it would have been impossible for him, by swimming or by any other means to rise to the surface
at a place other than the Pasig River or that where the boat was, from which he threw himself into the river,
and in that manner save himself from death.

From the evidence of the witnesses for the prosecution which is the only evidence in the record, for the
accused di not take the stand, it only appears that Venancio Gargantel, after having jumped from the boat, did
not rise again to the surface. Such was the statement of two of those witnesses who were members of the
boat's crew at the time. Another witness also declared that Gargantel was afterwards not again seen at the
house where he lived in this city, No. 711 San Nicolas Street, where he kept his trunks and some effects, a fact
which caused his mother, who lived in the municipality of Guimbal, in the Province of Iloilo, upon being
informed of it and upon the failure of Venancio to appear in said place, to give special power on the 28th of that
month of December, that is, one month afterwards, to a student, Ignacio Garzon, to get the trunks and effects
of Venancio from said house. Sid Garzon himself testified, upon being asked whether Venancio Gargantel had
returned to the house of his parents since November 29, 1919, that he had no information about it, and another
witness, Pedro Garcia, of the prosecution, stated that he had probably died, because he had not seen
Venancio Gargantel.

Therefore, in short, the only fact proved is that since Venancio Gargantel threw himself into the river, upon
being threatened with a knife by the accused, his whereabouts has remained unknown even at the moment of
rendering judgment in this case, or, February 9, 1920, that is, two and one-half months after the occurrence of
the event.

It is stated in the decision that the friend and parents of Gargantel give him up for dead. There is nevertheless
in the record no statement of any parent of Gargantel to that effect; for his mother Maria Gatpolitan, a resident
of the municipality of Guimbal, merely stated in the power of attorney executed in favor of Ignacio Garzon that
the latter should take steps in order that the city fiscal might investigate the death of her son which, according
to information, was caused by another members, of the crew of the steamer Vigan; and none of his friends,
that is, none of the two members of the party in the boat at that time and of the crew of the steamer Vigan, nor
Maximo Gumbog, the owner of the house in which Gargantel lived in this city, nor Pedro Garcia, another
member of the crew of that steamer, and finally, nor Ignacio Garzon himself has stated that he gave up
Gargantel for dead, for the simple reason that this was not possible, for they only knew that he did not again
rise to the surface and was not seen again after having thrown himself into the river from the boat.

For this reason it is stated in the decision that the circumstances therein stated are such that they exclude all
reasonable possibility that Venancio Gargantel could have survived and that the circumstance that never rose
to the surface after having jumped into the river, as witnessed by the persons present, together with the
admitted fact that human life is necessarily asphyxiated under the water, is conclusive that he died. Then, there
is nothing more than a deduction that Gargantel had died based upon those facts and circumstances.

In my opinion this is not sufficient to convict the accused as guilty of homicide, because there is the possibility
that Gargantel had risen to the surface at some place away from the where he threw himself into the river and
had embarked on some other vessel in the same river or out of it in the bay and had gone abroad, or to some
province of these Islands and is found in some municipality thereof, cannot be denied. And this is very
probable inasmuch as it does not appear in the record that the necessary investigation has been made in order
to determined even with only some measure of certainty, not to say beyond all reasonable doubt, that it was
and is impossible to find said person or determined his whereabouts.

Furthermore, there is not even a presumption juris tantum that he had died, for in order that this presumption
may exist, according to section 334 of the Code of Civil Procedure, it is necessary that no information about
him should have been received for seven years from his disappearance upon his throwing himself into the river,
which occurred on November 29, 1919, that is, only about one year and four months ago. And if, in order that a
finding of a civil character in favor of or against some person, may be made, by virtue of that presumption, it is
necessary that seven years should have elapsed without any notice being received of the person whose
whereabouts is unknown, it is not just, reasonable, or legal that the period of one year and four months from
his disappearance or since Venancio Gargantel threw himself into the water should suffice for us to impose
upon the accused Calixto Valdez such a grave penalty as that of twelve years and one day of reclusion
temporal, merely assuming without declaring it, as a proven fact, that Gargantel has died and at the same time
finding said accused to be the author of that death.

Lastly, the decision of the English Supreme Court or that of the Spanish Supreme Court dated July 13, 1882,
cited by the majority opinion is not applicable. The first, is not applicable because in the present case it is not
proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that some damage resulted to Gargantel, just as it cannot be considered as
proved that he had died, or that he had been injured or that he had suffered some injury after having thrown
himself into the river as a result of the threat of the accused. The second is not applicable because the
decision of the Supreme Court of Spain refers to a case, in which the injured party had already been wounded
with a cutting instrument by the accused before throwing himself into the river upon the latter aiming at him
with his gun, it having afterwards been proved upon his being taken out of the river that the wound inflicted
upon him by the accused was mortal; and, consequently, it was declared by said court that, even if the death of
the deceased be considered as not having resulted exclusively and necessarily from that most grave wound,
the persistence of the aggression of the accused compelled his adversary to escape it and threw himself into
the river, by depriving him of all possible help and placing him in the serious situation related in the judgment
appealed from -a case which, as is seen, is very different from that which took place in the present case.

For the reasons above stated, I am of the opinion, with due respect to the opinion of the majority, that the
accused Calixto Valdez y Quiri cannot be found guilty of homicide and should be acquitted.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-43530 August 3, 1935

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
AURELIO LAMAHANG, defendant-appellant.

Honesto K. Bausa for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Hilado for appellee.

RECTO, J.:

The defendant Aurelio Lamahang is before this court on appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of
Iloilo, finding him guilty of attempted robbery and sentencing him to suffer two years and four months of prision
correccional and to an additional penalty of ten years and one day of prision mayor for being an habitual
delinquent, with the accessory penalties of the law, and to pay the costs of the proceeding.

At early dawn on March 2, 1935, policeman Jose Tomambing, who was patrolling his beat on Delgado and C.R.
Fuentes streets of the City of Iloilo, caught the accused in the act of making an opening with an iron bar on the
wall of a store of cheap goods located on the last named street. At that time the owner of the store, Tan Yu,
was sleeping inside with another Chinaman. The accused had only succeeded in breaking one board and in
unfastening another from the wall, when the policeman showed up, who instantly arrested him and placed him
under custody.

The fact above stated was considered and declared unanimously by the provincial fiscal of Iloilo, the trial judge
and the Solicitor-General, as constituting attempted robbery, which we think is erroneous.

It is our opinion that the attempt to commit an offense which the Penal Code punishes is that which has a
logical relation to a particular, concrete offense; that, which is the beginning of the execution of the offense by
overt acts of the perpetrator, leading directly to its realization and consummation. The attempt to commit an
indeterminate offense, inasmuch as its nature in relation to its objective is ambiguous, is not a juridical fact
from the standpoint of the Penal Code. There is no doubt that in the case at bar it was the intention of the
accused to enter Tan Yu's store by means of violence, passing through the opening which he had started to
make on the wall, in order to commit an offense which, due to the timely arrival of policeman Tomambing, did
not develop beyond the first steps of its execution. But it is not sufficient, for the purpose of imposing penal
sanction, that an act objectively performed constitute a mere beginning of execution; it is necessary to
establish its unavoidable connection, like the logical and natural relation of the cause and its effect, with the
deed which, upon its consummation, will develop into one of the offenses defined and punished by the Code; it
is necessary to prove that said beginning of execution, if carried to its complete termination following its natural
course, without being frustrated by external obstacles nor by the voluntary desistance of the perpetrator, will
logically and necessarily ripen into a concrete offense. Thus, in case of robbery, in order that the simple act of
entering by means of force or violence another person's dwelling may be considered an attempt to commit this
offense, it must be shown that the offender clearly intended to take possession, for the purpose of gain, of
some personal property belonging to another. In the instant case, there is nothing in the record from which
such purpose of the accused may reasonably be inferred. From the fact established and stated in the decision,
that the accused on the day in question was making an opening by means of an iron bar on the wall of Tan
Yu's store, it may only be inferred as a logical conclusion that his evident intention was to enter by means of
force said store against the will of its owner. That his final objective, once he succeeded in entering the store,
was to rob, to cause physical injury to the inmates, or to commit any other offense, there is nothing in the
record to justify a concrete finding.1avvphil.ñet
It must be borne in mind (I Groizard, p. 99) that in offenses not consummated, as the material damage
is wanting, the nature of the action intended (accion fin) cannot exactly be ascertained, but the same
must be inferred from the nature of the acts executed (accion medio). Hence, the necessity that these
acts be such that by their very nature, by the facts to which they are related, by the circumstances of
the persons performing the same, and by the things connected therewith, they must show without any
doubt, that they are aimed at the consummation of a crime. Acts susceptible of double interpretation ,
that is, in favor as well as against the culprit, and which show an innocent as well as a punishable act,
must not and can not furnish grounds by themselves for attempted nor frustrated crimes. The relation
existing between the facts submitted for appreciation and the offense which said facts are supposed to
produce must be direct; the intention must be ascertained from the facts and therefore it is necessary,
in order to avoid regrettable instances of injustice, that the mind be able to directly infer from them the
intention of the perpetrator to cause a particular injury. This must have been the intention of the
legislator in requiring that in order for an attempt to exist, the offender must commence the commission
of the felony directly by overt acts, that is to say, that the acts performed must be such that, without the
intent to commit an offense, they would be meaningless.

Viada (Vol. I, p. 47) holds the same opinion when he says that "the overt acts leading to the commission of the
offense, are not punished except when they are aimed directly to its execution, and therefore they must have
an immediate and necessary relation to the offense."

Considering — says the Supreme Court of Spain in its decision of March 21, 1892 — that in order to
declare that such and such overt acts constitute an attempted offense it is necessary that their objective
be known and established, or that said acts be of such nature that they themselves should obviously
disclose the criminal objective necessarily intended, said objective and finality to serve as ground for
the designation of the offense: . . . .

In view of the foregoing, we are of the opinion, and so hold that the fact under consideration does not
constitute attempted robbery but attempted trespass to dwelling (People vs. Tayag and Morales, 59 Phil., 606,
and decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain therein cited). Under article 280 of the Revised Penal Code, this
offense is committed when a private person shall enter the dwelling of another against the latter's will. The
accused may be convicted and sentenced for an attempt to commit this offense in accordance with the
evidence and the following allegation contained in the information: "... the accused armed with an iron bar
forced the wall of said store by breaking a board and unfastening another for the purpose of entering said
store ... and that the accused did not succeed in entering the store due to the presence of the policeman on
beat Jose Tomambing, who upon hearing the noise produced by the breaking of the wall, promptly approached
the accused ... ." Under the circumstances of this case the prohibition of the owner or inmate is presumed.
(U.S. vs. Ostrea, 2 Phil., 93; U.S.vs. Silvano, 31 Phil., 509' U.S. vs. Ticson, 25 Phil., 67; U.S. vs. Mesina, 21
Phil., 615; U.S. vs. Villanueva, 18 Phil., 215; U.S. vs. Panes, 25 Phil., 292.) Against the accused must be taken
into consideration the aggravating circumstances of nighttime and former convictions, — inasmuch as the
record shows that several final judgments for robbery and theft have been rendered against him — and in his
favor, the mitigating circumstance of lack of instruction. The breaking of the wall should not be taken into
consideration as an aggravating circumstance inasmuch as this is the very fact which in this case constitutes
the offense of attempted trespass to dwelling.

The penalty provided by the Revised Penal Code for the consummated offense of trespass to dwelling, if
committed with force, is prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine not exceeding
P1,000 (art. 280, par. 2); therefore the penalty corresponding to attempted trespass to dwelling is to degrees
lower (art. 51), or, arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods. Because of the presence of two
aggravating circumstances and one mitigating circumstance the penalty must be imposed in its maximum
period. Pursuant to article 29 of the same Code, the accused is not entitled to credit for one-half of his
preventive imprisonment.

Wherefore, the sentence appealed from is revoked and the accused is hereby held guilty of attempted trespass
to dwelling, committed by means of force, with the aforesaid aggravating and mitigating circumstances and
sentenced to three months and one day of arresto mayor, with the accessory penalties thereof and to pay the
costs. Avanceña, C.J., Abad Santos, Hull, and Vickers, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-10126 October 22, 1957

SALUD VILLANUEVA VDA. DE BATACLAN and the minors NORMA, LUZVIMINDA, ELENITA, OSCAR and
ALFREDO BATACLAN, represented by their Natural guardian, SALUD VILLANUEVA VDA. DE BATACLAN,
plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
MARIANO MEDINA, defendant-appellant.

Lope E. Adriano, Emmanuel Andamo and Jose R. Francisco for plaintiffs-appellants.


Fortunato Jose for defendant and appellant.

MONTEMAYOR, J.:

Shortly after midnight, on September 13, 1952 bus no. 30 of the Medina Transportation, operated by its owner
defendant Mariano Medina under a certificate of public convenience, left the town of Amadeo, Cavite, on its
way to Pasay City, driven by its regular chauffeur, Conrado Saylon. There were about eighteen passengers,
including the driver and conductor. Among the passengers were Juan Bataclan, seated beside and to the right
of the driver, Felipe Lara, sated to the right of Bataclan, another passenger apparently from the Visayan
Islands whom the witnesses just called Visaya, apparently not knowing his name, seated in the left side of the
driver, and a woman named Natalia Villanueva, seated just behind the four last mentioned. At about 2:00
o'clock that same morning, while the bus was running within the jurisdiction of Imus, Cavite, one of the front
tires burst and the vehicle began to zig-zag until it fell into a canal or ditch on the right side of the road and
turned turtle. Some of the passengers managed to leave the bus the best way they could, others had to be
helped or pulled out, while the three passengers seated beside the driver, named Bataclan, Lara and the
Visayan and the woman behind them named Natalia Villanueva, could not get out of the overturned bus. Some
of the passengers, after they had clambered up to the road, heard groans and moans from inside the bus,
particularly, shouts for help from Bataclan and Lara, who said they could not get out of the bus. There is
nothing in the evidence to show whether or not the passengers already free from the wreck, including the
driver and the conductor, made any attempt to pull out or extricate and rescue the four passengers trapped
inside the vehicle, but calls or shouts for help were made to the houses in the neighborhood. After half an hour,
came about ten men, one of them carrying a lighted torch made of bamboo with a wick on one end, evidently
fueled with petroleum. These men presumably approach the overturned bus, and almost immediately, a fierce
fire started, burning and all but consuming the bus, including the four passengers trapped inside it. It would
appear that as the bus overturned, gasoline began to leak and escape from the gasoline tank on the side of the
chassis, spreading over and permeating the body of the bus and the ground under and around it, and that the
lighted torch brought by one of the men who answered the call for help set it on fire.

That same day, the charred bodies of the four deemed passengers inside the bus were removed and duly
identified that of Juan Bataclan. By reason of his death, his widow, Salud Villanueva, in her name and in behalf
of her five minor children, brought the present suit to recover from Mariano Medina compensatory, moral, and
exemplary damages and attorney's fees in the total amount of P87,150. After trial, the Court of First Instance of
Cavite awarded P1,000 to the plaintiffs plus P600 as attorney's fee, plus P100, the value of the merchandise
being carried by Bataclan to Pasay City for sale and which was lost in the fire. The plaintiffs and the
defendants appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals, but the latter endorsed the appeal to us because of
the value involved in the claim in the complaint.

Our new Civil Code amply provides for the responsibility of common carrier to its passengers and their goods.
For purposes of reference, we are reproducing the pertinent codal provisions:
ART. 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are
bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the
passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case.

Such extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods is further expressed in articles 1734, 1735,
and 1745, Nos. 5, 6, and 7, while the extra ordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers is further
set forth in articles 1755 and 1756.

ART. 1755. A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and
foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the
circumstances.

ART. 1756. In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been
at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as
prescribed in articles 1733 and 1755

ART. 1759. Common carriers are liable for the death of or injuries to passengers through the
negligence or willful acts of the former's employees, although such employees may have acted beyond
the scope of their authority or in violation of the order of the common carriers.

This liability of the common carriers does not cease upon proof that they exercised all the diligence of a
good father of a family in the selection and supervision of their employees.

ART. 1763. A common carrier responsible for injuries suffered by a passenger on account of the willful
acts or negligence of other passengers or of strangers, if the common carrier's employees through the
exercise of the diligence of a good father of a family could have prevented or stopped the act or
omission.

We agree with the trial court that the case involves a breach of contract of transportation for hire, the Medina
Transportation having undertaken to carry Bataclan safely to his destination, Pasay City. We also agree with
the trial court that there was negligence on the part of the defendant, through his agent, the driver Saylon.
There is evidence to show that at the time of the blow out, the bus was speeding, as testified to by one of the
passengers, and as shown by the fact that according to the testimony of the witnesses, including that of the
defense, from the point where one of the front tires burst up to the canal where the bus overturned after zig-
zaging, there was a distance of about 150 meters. The chauffeur, after the blow-out, must have applied the
brakes in order to stop the bus, but because of the velocity at which the bus must have been running, its
momentum carried it over a distance of 150 meters before it fell into the canal and turned turtle.

There is no question that under the circumstances, the defendant carrier is liable. The only question is to what
degree. The trial court was of the opinion that the proximate cause of the death of Bataclan was not the
overturning of the bus, but rather, the fire that burned the bus, including himself and his co-passengers who
were unable to leave it; that at the time the fire started, Bataclan, though he must have suffered physical
injuries, perhaps serious, was still alive, and so damages were awarded, not for his death, but for the physical
injuries suffered by him. We disagree. A satisfactory definition of proximate cause is found in Volume 38,
pages 695-696 of American jurisprudence, cited by plaintiffs-appellants in their brief. It is as follows:

. . . 'that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening cause,
produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred.' And more comprehensively,
'the proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the injury, either immediately or by setting
other events in motion, all constituting a natural and continuous chain of events, each having a close
causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event in the chain immediately effecting the
injury as a natural and probable result of the cause which first acted, under such circumstances that the
person responsible for the first event should, as an ordinary prudent and intelligent person, have
reasonable ground to expect at the moment of his act or default that an injury to some person might
probably result therefrom.
It may be that ordinarily, when a passenger bus overturns, and pins down a passenger, merely causing him
physical injuries, if through some event, unexpected and extraordinary, the overturned bus is set on fire, say,
by lightning, or if some highwaymen after looting the vehicle sets it on fire, and the passenger is burned to
death, one might still contend that the proximate cause of his death was the fire and not the overturning of the
vehicle. But in the present case under the circumstances obtaining in the same, we do not hesitate to hold that
the proximate cause was the overturning of the bus, this for the reason that when the vehicle turned not only
on its side but completely on its back, the leaking of the gasoline from the tank was not unnatural or
unexpected; that the coming of the men with a lighted torch was in response to the call for help, made not only
by the passengers, but most probably, by the driver and the conductor themselves, and that because it was
dark (about 2:30 in the morning), the rescuers had to carry a light with them, and coming as they did from a
rural area where lanterns and flashlights were not available; and what was more natural than that said rescuers
should innocently approach the vehicle to extend the aid and effect the rescue requested from them. In other
words, the coming of the men with a torch was to be expected and was a natural sequence of the overturning
of the bus, the trapping of some of its passengers and the call for outside help. What is more, the burning of
the bus can also in part be attributed to the negligence of the carrier, through is driver and its conductor.
According to the witness, the driver and the conductor were on the road walking back and forth. They, or at
least, the driver should and must have known that in the position in which the overturned bus was, gasoline
could and must have leaked from the gasoline tank and soaked the area in and around the bus, this aside from
the fact that gasoline when spilled, specially over a large area, can be smelt and directed even from a distance,
and yet neither the driver nor the conductor would appear to have cautioned or taken steps to warn the
rescuers not to bring the lighted torch too near the bus. Said negligence on the part of the agents of the carrier
come under the codal provisions above-reproduced, particularly, Articles 1733, 1759 and 1763.

As regard the damages to which plaintiffs are entitled, considering the earning capacity of the deceased, as
well as the other elements entering into a damage award, we are satisfied that the amount of SIX THOUSAND
(P6,000) PESOS would constitute satisfactory compensation, this to include compensatory, moral, and other
damages. We also believe that plaintiffs are entitled to attorney's fees, and assessing the legal services
rendered by plaintiffs' attorneys not only in the trial court, but also in the course of the appeal, and not losing
sight of the able briefs prepared by them, the attorney's fees may well be fixed at EIGHT HUNDRED (P800)
PESOS for the loss of merchandise carried by the deceased in the bus, is adequate and will not be disturbed.

There is one phase of this case which disturbs if it does not shock us. According to the evidence, one of the
passengers who, because of the injuries suffered by her, was hospitalized, and while in the hospital, she was
visited by the defendant Mariano Medina, and in the course of his visit, she overheard him speaking to one of
his bus inspectors, telling said inspector to have the tires of the bus changed immediately because they were
already old, and that as a matter of fact, he had been telling the driver to change the said tires, but that the
driver did not follow his instructions. If this be true, it goes to prove that the driver had not been diligent and had
not taken the necessary precautions to insure the safety of his passengers. Had he changed the tires, specially
those in front, with new ones, as he had been instructed to do, probably, despite his speeding, as we have
already stated, the blow out would not have occurred. All in all, there is reason to believe that the driver
operated and drove his vehicle negligently, resulting in the death of four of his passengers, physical injuries to
others, and the complete loss and destruction of their goods, and yet the criminal case against him, on motion
of the fiscal and with his consent, was provisionally dismissed, because according to the fiscal, the witnesses
on whose testimony he was banking to support the complaint, either failed or appear or were reluctant to testify.
But the record of the case before us shows the several witnesses, passengers, in that bus, willingly and
unhesitatingly testified in court to the effect of the said driver was negligent. In the public interest the
prosecution of said erring driver should be pursued, this, not only as a matter of justice, but for the promotion of
the safety of passengers on public utility buses. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Department of
Justice and the Provincial Fiscal of Cavite.

In view of the foregoing, with the modification that the damages awarded by the trial court are increased from
ONE THOUSAND (P1,000) PESOS TO SIX THOUSAND (P6,000) PESOS, and from SIX HUNDRED PESOS
TO EIGHT HUNDRED (P800) PESOS, for the death of Bataclan and for the attorney's fees, respectively, the
decision appealed is from hereby affirmed, with costs. Paras, C. J., Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, A., Bautista
Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia, and Felix, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-27097 January 17, 1975

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
ANTONIO TOLING y ROVERO and JOSE TOLING y ROVERO, defendants-appellants.

Office of the Solicitor General Felix V. Makasiar and Solicitor Dominador L. Quiroz for plaintiff-appellee.

Santiago F. Alidio as counsel de oficio for defendants-appellants.

AQUINO, J.:

Antonio Toling and Jose Toling, brothers, appealed from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Laguna,
finding them guilty of multiple murder and attempted murder, sentencing them to death and ordering them to
indemnify each set of heirs of (1) Teresita B. Escanan, (2) Antonio B. Mabisa, (3) Isabelo S. Dando, (4) Elena
B. Erminio (5) Modesta R. Brondial (6) Isabel Felices and (7) Teodoro F. Bautista in the sum of P6,000 and to
pay Amanda Mapa the sum of P500 (Criminal Case No. SC-966). The judgment of conviction was based on
the following facts:

Antonio Toling and Jose Toling, twins, both married, are natives of Barrio Nenita which is about eighteen (or
nine) kilometers away from Mondragon, Northern Samar. They are illiterate farmers tilling their own lands.
They were forty-eight years old in 1966. Antonio is one hour older than Jose. Being twins, they look alike very
much. However, Antonio has a distinguishing cut in his ear (44 tsn Jan. 14, 1966).

Antonio's daughter, Leonora, was working in Manila as a laundrywoman since September, 1964. Jose's three
children one girl and two boys, had stayed in Manila also since 1964.

Antonio decided to go to Manila after receiving a letter from Leonora telling him that she would give him money.
To have money for his expenses, Antonio killed a pig and sold the meat to Jose's wife for sixty pesos. Jose
decided to go with Antonio in order to see his children. He was able to raise eighty-five pesos for his expenses.

On January 6, 1965, with a bayong containing their pants and shirts, the twins left Barrio Nenita and took a bus
to Allen. From there, they took a launch to Matnog, Sorsogon. From Matnog, they went to Daraga, Albay on
board an Alatco bus, and from Daraga, they rode on the train, arriving at the Paco railroad station in Manila at
about seven o'clock in the morning of January 8th. It was their first trip to the big city.

At the Paco station, the twins took a jeepney which brought them to Tondo. By means of a letter which Aniano
Espenola a labor-recruiter, had given them, they were able to locate an employment agency where they
learned the address of the Eng Heng Glassware. Antonio's daughter was working in that store. Accompanied
by Juan, an employee of the agency, they proceeded to her employer's establishment. Leonora gave her
father fifty pesos. Sencio Rubis Antonio's grandson, gave him thirty pesos. Antonio placed the eighty pesos in
the right pocket of his pants. It was then noontime.
Jose was not able to find any of his children in the city. The twins returned to the agency where they ate their
lunch at Juan's expense. From the agency, Juan took the twins to the Tutuban railroad station that same day,
January 8th, for their homeward trip.

After buying their tickets, they boarded the night Bicol express train at about five o'clock in the afternoon. The
train left at six o'clock that evening.

The twins were in coach No. 9 which was the third from the rear of the dining car. The coach had one row of
two-passenger seats and another row of three- passenger seats. Each seat faced an opposite seat. An aisle
separated the two rows. The brothers were seated side by side on the fourth three-passenger seat from the
rear, facing the back door. Jose was seated between Antonio, who was near the window, and a three-year old
boy. Beside the boy was a woman breast-feeding her baby who was near the aisle. That woman was Corazon
Bernal. There were more than one hundred twenty passengers in the coach. Some passengers were standing
on the aisle.

Sitting on the third seat and facing the brothers were two men and an old woman who was sleeping with her
head resting on the back of the seat (Exh. 2). on the two-passenger seat across the aisle in line with the seat
where the brothers were sitting, there were seated a fat woman, who was near the window, and one Cipriano
Reganet who was on her left. On the opposite seat were seated a woman, her daughter and Amanda Mapa
with an eight-month old baby. They were in front of Reganet.

Two chico vendors entered the coach when the train stopped at Cabuyao, Laguna. The brothers bought some
chicos which they put aside. The vendors alighted when the train started moving. It was around eight o'clock in
the evening.

Not long after the train had resumed its regular speed, Antonio stood up and with a pair of scissors (Exh. B)
stabbed the man sitting directly in front of him. The victim stood up but soon collapsed on his seat.

For his part, Jose stabbed with a knife (Exh. A) the sleeping old woman who was seated opposite him. She
was not able to get up anymore. 1

Upon seeing what was happening, Amanda Mapa, with her baby, attempted to leave her seat, but before she
could escape Jose stabbed her, hitting her on her right hand with which she was supporting her child (Exh. D-
2). The blade entered the dorsal side and passed through the palm. Fortunately, the child was not injured.
Most of the passengers scurried away for safety but the twins, who had run amuck, stabbed everyone whom
they encountered inside the coach. 2

Among the passengers in the third coach was Constabulary Sergeant Vicente Z. Rayel, a train escort who, on
that occasion, was not on duty. He was taking his wife and children to Calauag, Quezon. He was going to the
dining car to drink coffee when someone informed him that there was a stabbing inside the coach where he
had come from. He immediately proceeded to return to coach No. 9. Upon reaching coach 8, he saw a dead
man sprawled on the floor near the toilet. At a distance of around nine meters, he saw a man on the platform
separating coaches Nos. 8 and 9, holding a knife between the thumb and index finger of his right hand, with its
blade pointed outward. He shouted to the man that he (Rayel) was a Constabularyman and a person in
authority and Rayel ordered him to lay down his knife (Exh. A) upon the count of three, or he would be shot.

Instead of obeying, the man changed his hold on the knife by clutching it between his palm and little finger
(with the blade pointed inward) and, in a suicidal impulse, stabbed himself on his left breast. He slowly sank to
the floor and was prostrate thereon. Near the platform where he had fallen, Rayel saw another man holding a
pair of scissors (Exh. B). He retreated to the steps near the platform when he saw Rayel armed with a pistol.

Rayel learned from his wife that the man sitting opposite her was stabbed to death.

Constabulary Sergeant Vicente Aldea was also in the train. He was in the dining car when he received the
information that there were killings in the third coach. He immediately went there and, while at the rear of the
coach, he met Mrs. Mapa who was wounded. He saw Antonio stabbing with his scissors two women and a
small girl and a woman who was later identified as Teresita B. Escanan (Exh. I to I-3). Antonio was not
wounded. Those victims were prostrate on the seats of the coach and on the aisle.

Aldea shouted at Antonio to surrender but the latter made a thrust at him with the scissors. When Antonio was
about to stab another person, Aldea stood on a seat and repeatedly struck Antonio on the head with the butt of
his pistol, knocking him down. Aldea then jumped and stepped on Antonio's buttocks and wrested the scissors
away from him. Antonio offered resistance despite the blows administered to him.

When the train arrived at the Calamba station, four Constabulary soldiers escorted the twins from the train and
turned them over to the custody of the Calamba police. Sergeant Rayel took down their names. The
bloodstained scissors and knife were turned over to the Constabulary Criminal Investigation Service (CIS).

Some of the victims were found dead in the coach while others were picked up along the railroad tracks
between Cabuyao and Calamba. Those who were still alive were brought to different hospitals for first-aid
treatment. The dead numbering twelve in all were brought to Funeraria Quiogue, the official morgue of the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila, where their cadavers were autopsied (Exh. C to C-11). A
Constabulary photographer took some pictures of the victims (Exh. G to I-2, J-1 and J-2).

Of the twelve persons who perished, eight, whose bodies were found in the train, died from stab wounds,
namely:

(1) Isabel Felices, 60, housewife, Ginlajon, Sorsogon.

(2) Antonio B. Mabisa, 28, married, laborer, Guinayangan, Quezon.

(3) Isabelo S. Dando, 45, married, Paracale, Camarines Norte.

(4) Susana C. Hernandez, 46, married, housekeeper, Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte.

(5) Teodoro F. Bautista, 72, married, Nawasa employee, San Juan, Rizal.

(6) Modesta R. Brondial 58, married, housekeeper, Legaspi City.

(7) Elena B. Erminio 10, student, 12 Liberty Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City and

(8) Teresita B. Escanan, 25, housemaid, 66 Menlo Street, Pasay City (Exh. C to C-3, C-7, C-8, C-9, C-11, L to
L-2, N to N-2, 0 to 0-2, P to P-2, Q to Q-2, R to R-2 and T to T-2)

Four dead persons were found near the railroad tracks. Apparently, they jumped from the moving train to avoid
being killed. They were:

(1) Timoteo U. Dimaano, 53 married, carpenter, Miguelin, Sampaloc, Manila. .

(2) Miguel C. Oriarte, 45, married, Dalagan, Lopez, Quezon.

(3) Salvador A. Maqueda 52, married, farmer, Lopez, Quezon and

(4) Shirley A. Valenciano, 27, married, housekeeper, 657-D Jorge Street, Pasay City (Exh. C-4. C-5, C-6, C-10,
J, J-1, J-2, K to K-2, M to M-3 and S to S-2).

Among the injured were Lucila Pantoja, Baby X, Mrs. X, Mrs. Armanda Mapa-Dizon, Brigida Sarmiento-Palma,
Cipriano Reganet and Corazon Bernal-Astrolavio (Exh. D to D-5). Mrs. Astrolavio supposedly died later (43 tsn
January 14, 1966).
Mrs. Mapa declared that because of the stab wound inflicted upon her right hand by Jose Toling, she was first
brought to the Calamba Emergency Hospital. Later, she was transferred to the hospital of the Philippine
National Railways at Caloocan City where she was confined for thirteen days free of charge. As a result of her
injury, she was not able to engage in her occupation of selling fish for one month, thereby losing an expected
earning of one hundred fifty pesos. When she ran for safety with her child, she lost clothing materials valued at
three hundred pesos aside from two hundred pesos cash in a paper bag which was lost.

The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Service of the Second Constabulary Zone
headquarters at Camp Vicente Lim, Canlubang, Laguna. On January 9, 1965 Constabulary investigators took
down the statements of Mrs. Mapa-Dizon, Cipriano Reganet, Corazon Bernal, Brigida de Sarmiento and
Sergeant Aldea. On that date, the statements of the Toling brothers were taken at the North General Hospital.
Sergeant Rayel also gave a statement.

Antonio Toling told the investigators that while in the train he was stabbed by a person "from the station" who
wanted to get his money. He retaliated by stabbing his assailant. He said that he stabbed somebody "who
might have died and others that might not". He clarified that in the train four persons were asking money from
him. He stabbed one of them. "It was a hold-up".

He revealed that after stabbing the person who wanted to rob him, he stabbed other persons
because, inasmuch as he "was already bound to die", he wanted "to kill everybody" (Exh. X or 8, 49 tsn Sept. 3,
1965).

Jose Toling, in his statement, said that he was wounded because he was stabbed by a person "from
Camarines" who was taking his money. He retaliated by stabbing his assailant with the scissors. He said that
he stabbed two persons who were demanding money from him and who were armed with knives and iron bars.

When Jose Toling was informed that several persons died due to the stabbing, he commented that everybody
was trying "to kill each other" (Exh. I-A).

According to Jose Toling, two persons grabbed the scissors in his pocket and stabbed him in the back with the
scissors and then escaped. Antonio allegedly pulled out the scissors from his back, gave them to him and told
him to avenge himself with the scissors.

On January 20, 1965 a Constabulary sergeant filed against the Toling brothers in the municipal court of
Cabuyao, Laguna a criminal complaint for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder. Through counsel,
the accused waived the second stage of the preliminary investigation. The case was elevated to the Court of
First Instance of Laguna where the Provincial Fiscal on March 10, 1965 filed against the Toling brothers an
information for multiple murder (nine victims), multiple frustrated murder (six victims) and triple homicide (as to
three persons who died after jumping from the running train to avoid being stabbed).

At the arraignment, the accused, assisted by their counsel de oficio pleaded not guilty. After trial, Judge
Arsenio Nañawa rendered the judgment of conviction already mentioned. The Toling brothers appealed.

In this appeal, appellants' counsel de oficio assails the credibility of the prosecution witnesses, argues that the
appellants acted in self-defense and contends, in the alternative, that their criminal liability was only for two
homicides and for physical injuries.

According to the evidence for the defense (as distinguished from appellants' statements, Exhibits 1 and 8),
when the Toling twins were at the Tutuban Railroad Station in the afternoon of January 8, 1965, Antonio went
to the ticket counter to buy tickets for himself and Jose. To pay for the tickets, he took out his money from the
right pocket of his pants and later put back the remainder in the same pocket. The two brothers noticed that
four men at some distance from them were allegedly observing them, whispering among themselves and
making signs. The twins suspected that the four men harbored evil intentions towards them.
When the twins boarded the train, the four men followed them. They were facing the twins. They were talking
in a low voice. The twins sat on a two passenger seat facing the front door of the coach, the window being on
the right of Antonio and Jose being to his left. Two of the four men, whom they were suspecting of having evil
intentions towards them, sat on the seat facing them, while the other two seated themselves behind them.
Some old women were near them. When the train was already running, the man sitting near the aisle allegedly
stood up, approached Antonio and pointed a balisong knife at his throat while the other man who was sitting
near the window and who was holding also a balisong knife attempted to pick Antonio's right pocket,
threatening him with death if he would not hand over the money. Antonio answered that he would give only
one-half of his money provided the man would not hurt him, adding that his (Antonio's) place was still very far.

When Antonio felt some pain in his throat, he suddenly drew out his hunting knife or small bolo (eight inches
long including the handle) from the back pocket of his pants and stabbed the man with it, causing him to fall to
the floor with his balisong. He also stabbed the man who was picking his pocket. Antonio identified the two
men whom he had stabbed as those shown in the photographs of Antonio B. Mabisa (Exh. L-1 and L-2 or 5-A
and
5-B) and Isabelo S. Dando (Exh. N-1 and N-2 or 7-A and 7-B). While Antonio was stabbing the second man,
another person from behind allegedly stabbed him on the forehead, causing him to lose consciousness and to
fall on the floor (Antonio has two scars on his forehead and a scar on his chest and left forearm, 85, 87 tsn). He
regained consciousness when two Constabulary soldiers raised him. His money was gone.

Seeing his brother in a serious condition, Jose stabbed with the scissors the man who had wounded his
brother. Jose hit the man in the abdomen. Jose was stabbed in the back by somebody. Jose stabbed also that
assailant in the middle part of the abdomen, inflicting a deep wound.

However, Jose did not see what happened to the two men whom he had stabbed because he was already
weak. He fell down and became unconscious. He identified Exhibit A as the knife used by Antonio and Exhibit
B as the scissors which he himself had used. He recovered consciousness when a Constabulary soldier
brought him out of the train.

The brothers presented Doctor Leonardo del Rosario, a physician of the North General Hospital who treated
them during the early hours of January 9, 1965 and who testified that he found the following injuries on Antonio
Toling:

Wound, incised, 1-1/4 inches (sutured), frontal, right; 3-1/2 inches each, mid-frontal (wound on
the forehead) and

Wound, stabbed, 3/4 inch, 1 inch medial to anterior axillary line level of 3rd ICS right,
penetrating thoracic cavity (chest wound (Exh. 11).

and on Jose Toling a stab wound, one inch long on the paravertebral level of the fifth rib on the left, penetrating
the thoracic cavity (Exh. 10). The wound was on the spinal column in line with the armpit or "about one inch
from the midline to the left" (113 tsn). The twins were discharged from the hospital on January 17th.

The trial court, in its endeavor to ascertain the motive for the twins' rampageous behavior, which resulted in the
macabre deaths of several innocent persons, made the following observations:

What could be the reason or motive that actuated the accused to run amuck? It appears that the
accused travelled long over land and sea spending their hard earned money and suffering
privations, even to the extent of foregoing their breakfast, only to receive as recompense with
respect to Antonio the meager sum of P50 from his daughter and P30 from his grandson and
with respect to Jose to receive nothing at all from any of his three children whom he could not
locate in Manila.

It also appears that the accused, who are twins, are queerly alike, a fact which could easily
invite some people to stare or gaze at them and wonder at their very close resemblance. Like
some persons who easily get angry when stared at, however, the accused, when stared at by
the persons in front of them, immediately suspected them as having evil intention towards them
(accused).

To the mind of the Court, therefore, it is despondency on the part of the accused coupled with
their unfounded suspicion of evil intention on the part of those who happened to stare at them
that broke the limit of their self-control and actuated them to run amuck.

We surmise that to the captive spectators in coach No. 9 the spectacle of middle-aged rustic twins, whom, in
the limited space of the coach, their co-passengers had no choice but to notice and gaze at, was a novelty.
Through some telepathic or extra-sensory perception the twins must have sensed that their co-passengers
were talking about them in whispers and making depreciatory remarks or jokes about their humble persons. In
their parochial minds, they might have entertained the notion or suspicion that their male companions, taking
advantage of their ignorance and naivete, might victimize them by stealing their little money. Hence, they
became hostile to their co-passengers. Their pent-up hostility erupted into violence and murderous fury.

A painstaking examination of the evidence leads to the conclusion that the trial court and the prosecution
witnesses confounded one twin for the other. Such a confusion was unavoidable because the twins, according
to a Constabulary investigator, are "very identical". Thus, on the witness stand CIS Sergeants Alfredo C.
Orbase and Liberato Tamundong after pointing to the twins, refused to take the risk of identifying who was
Antonio and who was Jose. They confessed that they might be mistaken in making such a specific
identification (28 tsn September 3, 1965; 32 tsn November 5, 1965).

In our opinion, to ascertain who is Antonio and who is Jose, the reliable guides would be their sworn
statements (Exh. 1 and 8), executed one day after the killing, their own testimonies and the medical certificates
(Exh. 10 and 11). Those parts of the evidence reveal that the one who was armed with the knife was Antonio
and the one who was armed with the scissors was Jose. The prosecution witnesses and the trial court
assumed that Antonio was armed with the scissors (Exh. B) and Jose was armed with the knife (Exh. A). That
assumption is erroneous.

In his statement and testimony, Antonio declared that he was armed with a knife, while Jose declared that he
was armed with the scissors which Antonio had purchased at the Tutuban station, before he boarded the train
and which he gave to Jose because the latter is a barber whose old pair of scissors was already rusty. As thus
clarified, the person whom Sergeant Rayel espied as having attempted to commit suicide on the platform of the
train by stabbing himself on the chest would be Antonio (not Jose). That conclusion is confirmed by the
medical certificate, Exhibit 11, wherein it is attested that Antonio had a wound in the chest. And the person
whom Sergeant Aldea subdued after the former had stabbed several persons with a pair of scissors (not with a
knife) was Jose and not Antonio. That fact is contained in his statement of January 9, 1965 (p. 9, Record).

The mistake of the prosecution witnesses in taking Antonio for Jose and vice-versa does not detract from their
credibility. The controlling fact is that those witnesses confirmed the admission of the twins that they stabbed
several passengers.

Appellants' counsel based his arguments on the summaries of the evidence found in the trial court's decision.
He argues that the testimonies of Sergeants Rayel and Aldea are contradictory but he does not particularize on
the supposed contradictions.

The testimonies of the two witnesses do not cancel each other. The main point of Rayel's testimony is that he
saw one of the twins stabbing himself in the chest and apparently trying to commit suicide. Aldea's testimony is
that he knocked down the other twin, disabled him and prevented him from committing other killings.

It may be admitted that Rayel's testimony that Aldea took the knife of Jose Toling was not corroborated by
Aldea. Neither did Aldea testify that Antonio was near Jose on the platform of the train. Those discrepancies do
not render Rayel and Aldea unworthy of belief. They signify that Aldea and Rayel did not give rehearsed
testimonies or did not compare notes.
Where, as in this case, the events transpired in rapid succession in the coach of the train and it was nighttime,
it is not surprising that Rayel and Aldea would not give identical testimonies (See 6 Moran's Comments on the
Rules of Court, 1970 Ed. 139-140; People vs. Resayaga, L-23234, December 26, 1963, 54 SCRA 350). There
is no doubt that Aldea and Rayel witnessed some of the acts of the twins but they did not observe the same
events and their powers of perception and recollection are not the same.

Appellants' counsel assails the testimony of Mrs. Mapa. He contends that no one corroborated her testimony
that one of the twins stabbed a man and a sleeping woman sitting on the seat opposite the seat occupied by
the twins. The truth is that Mrs. Mapa's testimony was confirmed by the necropsy reports and by the twins
themselves who admitted that they stabbed some persons.

On the other hand, the defense failed to prove that persons, other than the twins, could have inflicted the stab
wounds. There is no doubt as to the corpus delicti. And there can be no doubt that the twins, from their own
admissions (Exh. 1 and 8) and their testimonies, not to mention the testimonies of Rayel, Aldea, Mrs. Mapa
and the CIS investigators, were the authors of the killings.

Apparently, because there was no doubt on the twins' culpability, since they were caught in flagrante
delicto the CIS investigators did not bother to get the statements of the other passengers in Coach No. 9. It is
probable that no one actually saw the acts of the twins from beginning to end because everyone in Coach No.
9 was trying to leave it in order to save his life. The ensuing commotion and confusion prevented the
passengers from having a full personal knowledge of how the twins consummated all the killings.

On the other hand, the twins' theory of self-defense is highly incredible. In that crowded coach No. 9, which
was lighted, it was improbable that two or more persons could have held up the twins without being readily
perceived by the other passengers. The twins would have made an outcry had there really been an attempt to
rob them. The injuries, which they sustained, could be attributed to the blows which the other passengers
inflicted on them to stop their murderous rampage.

Appellants' view is that they should be held liable only for two homicides, because they admittedly killed
Antonio B. Mabisa and Isabelo S. Dando, and for physical injuries because they did not deny that Jose Toling
stabbed Mrs. Mapa. We have to reject that view. Confronted as we are with the grave task of passing judgment
on the aberrant behavior of two yokels from the Samar hinterland who reached manhood without coming into
contact with the mainstream of civilization in urban areas, we exercised utmost care and solicitude in reviewing
the evidence. We are convinced that the record conclusively establishes appellants' responsibility for the eight
killings.

To the seven dead persons whose heirs should be indemnified, according to the trial court, because they died
due to stab wounds, should be added the name of Susana C. Hernandez (Exh. P, P-1 and P-2). The omission
of her name in judgment was probably due to inadvertence. According to the necropsy reports, four persons,
namely, Shirley A. Valenciano, Salvador A. Maqueda, Miguel C. Oriarte and Timoteo U. Dimaano, died due to
multiple traumatic injuries consisting of abrasions, contusions, lacerations and fractures on the head, body and
extremities (Exh. J to J-2, K to K-2, M to M-2 and S to S-2).

The conjecture is that they jumped from the moving tracing to avoid being killed but in so doing they met their
untimely and horrible deaths. The trial court did not adjudge them as victims whose heirs should be
indemnified. As to three of them, the information charges that the accused committed homicide. The trial court
dismissed that charge for lack of evidence.

No one testified that those four victims jumped from the train. Had the necropsy reports been reinforced by
testimony showing that the proximate cause of their deaths was the violent and murderous conduct of the twins,
then the latter would be criminally responsible for their deaths.

Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code provides that "criminal liability shall be incurred by any person committing
a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended". The presumption is
that "a person intends the ordinary consequences of his voluntary act" (Sec. 5[c], Rule 131, Rules of Court).
The rule is that "if a man creates in another man's mind an immediate sense of danger which causes such
person to try to escape, and in so doing he injures himself, the person who creates such a state of mind is
responsible for the injuries which result" (Reg. vs. Halliday 61 L. T. Rep. [N.S.] 701, cited in U.S. vs. Valdez, 41
Phil. 4911, 500).

Following that rule, is was held that "if a person against whom a criminal assault is directed reasonably
believes himself to be in danger of death or great bodily harm and in order to escape jumps into the water,
impelled by the instinct of self-preservation, the assailant is responsible for homicide in case death results by
drowning" (Syllabus, U.S. vs. Valdez, supra, See People vs. Buhay, 79 Phil. 371).

The absence of eyewitness-testimony as to the jumping from the train of the four victims already named
precludes the imputation of criminal responsibility to the appellants for the ghastly deaths of the said victims.

The same observation applies to the injuries suffered by the other victims. The charge of multiple frustrated
murder based on the injuries suffered by Cipriano Pantoja, Dinna Nosal, Corazon Bernal and Brigida
Sarmiento (Exh. D, D-3 to D-5) was dismissed by the trial court for lack of evidence. Unlike Mrs. Mapa, the
offended parties involved did not testify on the injuries inflicted on them.

The eight killings and the attempted killing should be treated as separate crimes of murder and attempted
murder qualified be treachery (alevosia) (Art. 14[16], Revised Penal Code). The unexpected, surprise assaults
perpetrated by the twins upon their co-passengers, who did not anticipate that the twins would act
likejuramentados and who were unable to defend themselves (even if some of them might have had weapons
on their persons) was a mode of execution that insured the consummation of the twins' diabolical objective to
butcher their co-passengers. The conduct of the twins evinced conspiracy and community of design.

The eight killings and the attempted murder were perpetrated by means of different acts. Hence, they cannot
be regarded as constituting a complex crime under article 48 of the Revised Penal Code which refers to cases
where "a single act constitutes two or more grave felonies, or when an offense is a necessary means for
committing the other".

As noted by Cuello Calon, the so-called "concurso formal o ideal de delitos reviste dos formas: (a) cuando un
solo hecho constituye dos o mas delitos (el llamado delito compuesto); (b) cuando uno de ellos sea medio
necesario para cometer otro (el llamado delito complejo)." (1 Derecho Penal, 12th Ed. 650).

On the other hand, "en al concurso real de delitos", the rule, when there is "acumulacion material de las
penas", is that "si son varios los resultados, si son varias las acciones, esta conforme con la logica y con la
justicia que el agente soporte la carga de cada uno de los delitos" (Ibid, p. 652, People vs. Mori, L-23511,
January 31, 1974, 55 SCRA 382, 403).

The twins are liable for eight (8) murders and one attempted murder. (See People vs. Salazar, 105 Phil. 1058
where the accused Moro, who ran amuck, killed sixteen persons and wounded others, was convicted of
sixteen separate murders, one frustrated murder and two attempted murders; People vs. Mortero, 108 Phil. 31,
the Panampunan massacre case, where six defendants were convicted of fourteen separate murders; People
vs. Remollino, 109 Phil. 607, where a person who fired successively at six victims was convicted of six
separate homicides; U. S. Beecham, 15 Phil. 272, involving four murders; People vs. Macaso, 85 Phil. 819,
828, involving eleven murders; U.S. vs. Jamad, 37 Phil. 305; U.S. vs. Balaba, 37 Phil. 260, 271. Contra:
People vs. Cabrera, 43 Phil. 82, 102-103; People vs. Floresca, 99 Phil. 1044; People vs. Sakam, 61 Phil. 27;
People vs. Lawas, 97 Phil. 975; People vs. Manantan, 94 Phil. 831; People vs. Umali, 96 Phil. 185; People vs.
Cu Unjiengi, 61 Phil. 236; People vs. Penas, 66 Phil. 682; People vs. De Leon, 49 Phil. 437, where the crimes
committed by means of separate acts were held to be complex on the theory that they were the product of a
single criminal impulse or intent).

As no generic mitigating and aggravating circumstances were proven in this case, the penalty for murder
should be imposed in its medium period or reclusion perpetua (Arts. 64[l] and 248, Revised Penal Code. The
death penalty imposed by the trial court was not warranted.
A separate penalty for attempted murder should be imposed on the appellants. No modifying circumstances
can be appreciated in the attempted murder case.

WHEREFORE, the trial court's judgment is modified by setting aside the death sentence. Defendants-
appellants Antonio Toling and Jose Toling are found guilty, as co-principals, of eight (8) separate murders and
one attempted murder. Each one of them is sentenced to eight (8) reclusion perpetuas for the eight murders
and to an indeterminate penalty of one (1) year of prision correccional as minimum to six (6) years and one (1)
day ofprision mayor as maximum for the attempted murder and to pay solidarily an indemnity of P12,000 to
each set of heirs of the seven victims named in the dispositive part of the trial court's decision and of the eight
victim, Susana C. Hernandez, or a total indemnity of P96,000, and an indemnity of P500 to Amanda Mapa. In
the service of the penalties, the forty-year limit fixed in the penultimate paragraph of article 70 of the Revised
Penal Code should be observed. Costs against the appellants.

SO ORDERED.

Makalintal, C.J., Castro, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Antonio, Esguerra, Fernandez and Muñoz Palma, JJ.,
concur.

Makasiar, J., took no part.

Footnotes

1 That initial stabbing was described by Corazon Bernal-Astrolavio in her statement dated
January 9, 1965 in this manner (page 16 of the Record):

"4. T: May nasaksihan ba kayong hindi pangkaraniwang pangyayari na naganap nang gabing
iyon at kung mayroon maaari ba ninyong maisalaysay sa maikli ngunit maliwanag na
pananalita?

"S: Mayroon po. Nakaupo ako nuon sa bandang hulihan nang tren. Nagpapasuso ako nuon
nang aking anak nang biglang nagkagulo. Iyong katabi kong lalaki na may katandaan na ay
biglang sinaksak iyong kaharap kong babae sa upuan. Nabuwal iyong kanyang sinaksak, at ako
naman ay nagtatakbo na dala ko iyong dalawa kong anak. Sumiksik kami doon sa may kubeta
nang tren na nang mangyari iyon ay lumalakad. Hindi ko alam na iyong aking kanan sintido ay
nagdurugo. Nang tahimik na ay dinala kami sa ospital sa Calamba at doon ay ginamot ako roon.

"5. T: Sinabi ninyo na nang biglang magkagulo samantalang lumalakad ang tren ay iyong katabi
ninyong lalaki na may katandaan na ay biglang sinaksak iyong kaharap ninyong babae sa
upuan, nakita ba ninyo kung ano ang ipinanaksak nang lalaking ito?

"S: Hindi ko na po napansin dahil sa aking takot."

2 Mrs. Mapa's statement (Exh. E) reads:

"4. T: Sino po ang sumaksak sa inyo?

S: Iyon pong lalaking mataas na payat na bisaya. Hindi ko po kilala pero kung makikita ko ay
makikilala ko. Ito pong sumaksak sa akin na ito ay dinala rin sa ospital sa Calamba, Laguna.
Nauna po lamang ako at nakita kong siya ang isinunod na may saksak din.

5. T: Bakit naman ninyo namukhaan itong sumaksak sa inyong ito?

S: Kahelera po namin iyan sa upuan.


6. T: Maaari po ba ninyong isalaysay sa maikli ngunit maliwanag na pananalita ang buong
pangyayaring inyong nasaksihan?

S: Opo. Nagpapasuso ako nuon nang aking anak, nang walang ano-ano ay nakita ko na
lamang iyong nakasaksak sa akin na biglang tumayo sa kanyang kinauupuan at biglang
sinaksak iyong kaharap niyang sa upuan na babae na natutulog. Itong katabi nang nanaksak na
ito ay tumayo rin at nanaksak din nang nanaksak at ang lahat nang makitang tao ay hinahabol
at sinasaksak. Bata, matanda ay sinasaksak nang dalawang ito at madaanan. Nang bigla kong
tayo ay natamaan iyong aking kanang kamay nang kabig niya nang saksak. Nagtuloy ako sa
kubeta sa tren at doon ako sumiksik. Nang payapa na ang lahat ay dinala ako sa Calamba sa
ospital doon, at ako'y ginamot nang pangunang lunas.

7. T: Itong katabi na lalaking sinasabi ninyong nanaksak din ay kung makita ninyong muli ay
makikilala pa ninyo?

S: Makikilala ko rin po. Magkahawig po sila nang nakasaksak sa akin."

The statement of Cipriano Reganet who was wounded (Exh. D-4), in a way corroborates Mrs.
Mapa's statement. Reganet's statement reads in part as follows (Exh. F);

"3. T: Maaari po ba ninyong masabi kung bakit kayo naririto ngayon sa PNR Hospital dito sa
Caloocan City?

S: Dahil po sa mga saksak na tinamo ko nang magkaroon nang gulo sa loob nang tren
kagabing humigit kumulang sa mga alas nueve (9:00 P.M.) petcha 8 nitong Enero 1965.

4. T: Sino po ang sumaksak sa inyo kung inyong nakikilala?

S: Hindi ko po alam ang pangalan pero mamumukhaan ko kung ihaharap sa akin. Ang
sumaksak po sa akin ay iyong kasama ko sa ambulancia na nagdala saamin dito sa ospital na
ito.

5. T: Bakit naman ninyo natiyak na ang sumaksak sa inyo ay iyong kasama ninyo sa
ambulancia na nagdala sa inyo sa ospital na ito?

S: Malapit po lamang ang kanyang inuupuan sa aking inuupuan sa loob nang tren kaya
namukhaan ko siya.

6. T: Ilan beses kayong sinaksak nang taong ito?

S: Dalawang beses po.

7. T: Saan-saan panig nang katawan kayo nagtamo nang saksak?

S: Sa aking noo at sa kanang kamay nang sangahin ko ang kanyang pangalawang saksak.

8. T: Bakit po naman kayo sinaksak nang taong ito?

S: Hindi ko po alam. Primero nanaksak siya sa kanyang kaharap sa upuan at saksak nang
saksak sa mga taong kanyang makita.

9. T: Ilan ang nakita ninyong nananaksak?

S: Dalawa pong magkatabi na magkahawig ang mukha.


10. T: Nang mangyari po ba ito ay tumatakbo ang tren?

S: Tumatakbo po.

11. T: Papaano kayo nakaligtas?

S: Tumakbo po ako at kumabit sa rampa at nang medyo tahimik na balak kong magbalik sa
loob nang tren. Nakita ko na maraming sugatan at sa wari ko ay patay na. Sa mga nakita ko sa
loob nang tren ay iyong sumaksak sa akin, na nakasandal at nang makita ako ay tinanganan
iyong kanyang panaksak at tinangka akong habulin. Tumakbo ako at tumalon sa lupa. Sa
pagtalon kong iyon ay napinsala ang aking kaliwang balikat.

12. T: Ano po ang ipinanaksak sa inyo?

S: Para pong punyal na ang haba ay kumulang humigit sa isang dangkal".

Mrs. Brigida Sarmiento-Palma, who was also wounded (Exh. D-3) executed a statement which
reads in part as follows (page 20, Record):

"4. T: Maaari po ba ninyong ysay sa maikli ngunit maliwanag na pananalita ang buong
pangyayari?

S: Opo. Nakaupo po ako nuon kaharap papuntang Bicol. Walang ano-ano ay bigla na lamang
nakita ko na may sinaksak at pagkatapos nakita ko na lahat nang makita babae o lalaki at
sinaksak. Nang ako'y tumayo para tumakbo ay nilapitan ako at ako naman ang sinaksak.
Sumigaw ako at humingi nang saklolo at nakiusap sa isang tao na tagpan nang tualya iyong
tinamo kong saksak sa kaliwang puson na tumama sa buto. Makalipas ang ilang sandali ay
dinala na ako sa ospital.

5. T: Nakikilala ba ninyo iyong sumaksak sa inyo?

S: Kilala ko po sa mukha at kasama ko pa kahapon nang dalhin ako sa ospital na ito.

6. T: Ilan po itong nakita ninyong nanaksak?

S: Dalawa po sila na magkahawig ang mukha.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 72964 January 7, 1988

FILOMENO URBANO, petitioner,


vs.
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This is a petition to review the decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed the decision of
the then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City finding petitioner Filomeno Urban guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime of homicide.

The records disclose the following facts of the case.

At about 8:00 o'clock in the morning of October 23, 1980, petitioner Filomeno Urbano went to his ricefield at
Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan located at about 100 meters from the tobacco seedbed of
Marcelo Javier. He found the place where he stored his palay flooded with water coming from the irrigation
canal nearby which had overflowed. Urbano went to the elevated portion of the canal to see what happened
and there he saw Marcelo Javier and Emilio Erfe cutting grass. He asked them who was responsible for the
opening of the irrigation canal and Javier admitted that he was the one. Urbano then got angry and demanded
that Javier pay for his soaked palay. A quarrel between them ensued. Urbano unsheathed his bolo (about 2
feet long, including the handle, by 2 inches wide) and hacked Javier hitting him on the right palm of his hand,
which was used in parrying the bolo hack. Javier who was then unarmed ran away from Urbano but was
overtaken by Urbano who hacked him again hitting Javier on the left leg with the back portion of said bolo,
causing a swelling on said leg. When Urbano tried to hack and inflict further injury, his daughter embraced and
prevented him from hacking Javier.

Immediately thereafter, Antonio Erfe, Emilio Erfe, and Felipe Erfe brought Javier to his house about 50 meters
away from where the incident happened. Emilio then went to the house of Barangay Captain Menardo Soliven
but not finding him there, Emilio looked for barrio councilman Felipe Solis instead. Upon the advice of Solis, the
Erfes together with Javier went to the police station of San Fabian to report the incident. As suggested by
Corporal Torio, Javier was brought to a physician. The group went to Dr. Guillermo Padilla, rural health
physician of San Fabian, who did not attend to Javier but instead suggested that they go to Dr. Mario Meneses
because Padilla had no available medicine.

After Javier was treated by Dr. Meneses, he and his companions returned to Dr. Guillermo Padilla who
conducted a medico-legal examination. Dr. Padilla issued a medico-legal certificate (Exhibit "C" dated
September 28, 1981) which reads:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

This is to certify that I have examined the wound of Marcelo Javier, 20 years of age, married,
residing at Barangay Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan on October 23, 1980 and found the
following:

1 -Incised wound 2 inches in length at the upper portion of the lesser palmar prominence, right.
As to my observation the incapacitation is from (7-9) days period. This wound was presented to
me only for medico-legal examination, as it was already treated by the other doctor. (p. 88,
Original Records)

Upon the intercession of Councilman Solis, Urbano and Javier agreed to settle their differences. Urbano
promised to pay P700.00 for the medical expenses of Javier. Hence, on October 27, 1980, the two
accompanied by Solis appeared before the San Fabian Police to formalize their amicable settlement.
Patrolman Torio recorded the event in the police blotter (Exhibit A), to wit:

xxx xxx xxx

Entry Nr 599/27 Oct '80/103OH/ Re entry Nr 592 on page 257 both parties appeared before this
Station accompanied by brgy. councilman Felipe Solis and settled their case amicably, for they
are neighbors and close relatives to each other. Marcelo Javier accepted and granted
forgiveness to Filomeno Urbano who shoulder (sic) all the expenses in his medical treatment,
and promising to him and to this Office that this will never be repeated anymore and not to
harbour any grudge against each other. (p. 87, Original Records.)

Urbano advanced P400.00 to Javier at the police station. On November 3, 1980, the additional P300.00 was
given to Javier at Urbano's house in the presence of barangay captain Soliven.

At about 1:30 a.m. on November 14, 1980, Javier was rushed to the Nazareth General Hospital in a very
serious condition. When admitted to the hospital, Javier had lockjaw and was having convulsions. Dr.
Edmundo Exconde who personally attended to Javier found that the latter's serious condition was caused by
tetanus toxin. He noticed the presence of a healing wound in Javier's palm which could have been infected by
tetanus.

On November 15, 1980 at exactly 4:18 p.m., Javier died in the hospital. The medical findings of Dr. Exconde
are as follows:

Date Diagnosis

11-14-80 ADMITTED due to trismus

adm. at DX TETANUS

1:30 AM Still having frequent muscle spasm. With diffi-

#35, 421 culty opening his mouth. Restless at times. Febrile

11-15-80 Referred. Novaldin 1 amp. inj. IM. Sudden cessa-

tion of respiration and HR after muscular spasm.

02 inhalation administered. Ambo bag resuscita-

tion and cardiac massage done but to no avail.

Pronounced dead by Dra. Cabugao at 4:18 P.M.

PMC done and cadaver brought home by rela-

tives. (p. 100, Original Records)


In an information dated April 10, 1981, Filomeno Urbano was charged with the crime of homicide before the
then Circuit Criminal Court of Dagupan City, Third Judicial District.

Upon arraignment, Urbano pleaded "not guilty." After trial, the trial court found Urbano guilty as charged. He
was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate prison term of from TWELVE (12) YEARS of prision mayor, as
minimum to SEVENTEEN (17) years, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of reclusion temporal, as
maximum, together with the accessories of the law, to indemnify the heirs of the victim, Marcelo Javier, in the
amount of P12,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to pay the costs. He was
ordered confined at the New Bilibid Prison, in Muntinlupa, Rizal upon finality of the decision, in view of the
nature of his penalty.

The then Intermediate Appellate Court affirmed the conviction of Urbano on appeal but raised the award of
indemnity to the heirs of the deceased to P30,000.00 with costs against the appellant.

The appellant filed a motion for reconsideration and/or new trial. The motion for new trial was based on an
affidavit of Barangay Captain Menardo Soliven (Annex "A") which states:

That in 1980, I was the barrio captain of Barrio Anonang, San Fabian, Pangasinan, and up to
the present having been re-elected to such position in the last barangay elections on May 17,
1982;

That sometime in the first week of November, 1980, there was a typhoon that swept
Pangasinan and other places of Central Luzon including San Fabian, a town of said province;

That during the typhoon, the sluice or control gates of the Bued irrigation dam which irrigates
the ricefields of San Fabian were closed and/or controlled so much so that water and its flow to
the canals and ditches were regulated and reduced;

That due to the locking of the sluice or control gates of the dam leading to the canals and
ditches which will bring water to the ricefields, the water in said canals and ditches became
shallow which was suitable for catching mudfishes;

That after the storm, I conducted a personal survey in the area affected, with my secretary
Perfecto Jaravata;

That on November 5, 1980, while I was conducting survey, I saw the late Marcelo Javier
catching fish in the shallow irrigation canals with some companions;

That few days there after,or on November l5, l980, I came to know that said Marcelo Javier died
of tetanus. (p. 33, Rollo)

The motion was denied. Hence, this petition.

In a resolution dated July 16, 1986, we gave due course to the petition.

The case involves the application of Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that "Criminal liability
shall be incurred: (1) By any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different
from that which he intended ..." Pursuant to this provision "an accused is criminally responsible for acts
committed by him in violation of law and for all the natural and logical consequences resulting therefrom."
(People v. Cardenas, 56 SCRA 631).

The record is clear that Marcelo Javier was hacked by the petitioner who used a bolo as a result of which
Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm; that on November 14, 1981 which was the 22nd day
after the incident, Javier was rushed to the hospital in a very serious condition and that on the following day,
November 15, 1981, he died from tetanus.
Under these circumstances, the lower courts ruled that Javier's death was the natural and logical consequence
of Urbano's unlawful act. Hence, he was declared responsible for Javier's death. Thus, the appellate court
said:

The claim of appellant that there was an efficient cause which supervened from the time the
deceased was wounded to the time of his death, which covers a period of 23 days does not
deserve serious consideration. True, that the deceased did not die right away from his wound,
but the cause of his death was due to said wound which was inflicted by the appellant. Said
wound which was in the process of healing got infected with tetanus which ultimately caused his
death.

Dr. Edmundo Exconde of the Nazareth General Hospital testified that the victim suffered lockjaw
because of the infection of the wound with tetanus. And there is no other way by which he could
be infected with tetanus except through the wound in his palm (tsn., p. 78, Oct. 5, 1981).
Consequently, the proximate cause of the victim's death was the wound which got infected with
tetanus. And the settled rule in this jurisdiction is that an accused is liable for all the
consequences of his unlawful act. (Article 4, par. 1, R.P.C. People v. Red, CA 43 O.G. 5072;
People v. Cornel 78 Phil. 418).

Appellant's allegation that the proximate cause of the victim's death was due to his own
negligence in going back to work without his wound being properly healed, and lately, that he
went to catch fish in dirty irrigation canals in the first week of November, 1980, is an afterthought,
and a desperate attempt by appellant to wiggle out of the predicament he found himself in. If the
wound had not yet healed, it is impossible to conceive that the deceased would be reckless
enough to work with a disabled hand. (pp. 20-21, Rollo)

The petitioner reiterates his position that the proximate cause of the death of Marcelo Javier was due to his
own negligence, that Dr. Mario Meneses found no tetanus in the injury, and that Javier got infected with
tetanus when after two weeks he returned to his farm and tended his tobacco plants with his bare hands
exposing the wound to harmful elements like tetanus germs.

The evidence on record does not clearly show that the wound inflicted by Urbano was infected with tetanus at
the time of the infliction of the wound. The evidence merely confirms that the wound, which was already
healing at the time Javier suffered the symptoms of the fatal ailment, somehow got infected with tetanus
However, as to when the wound was infected is not clear from the record.

In Vda. de Bataclan, et al. v. Medina (102 Phil. 1181), we adopted the following definition of proximate cause:

xxx xxx xxx

... A satisfactory definition of proximate cause is found in Volume 38, pages 695-696 of
American Jurisprudence, cited by plaintiffs-appellants in their brief. It is as follows:

... "that cause, which, in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient intervening
cause, produces the injury, and without which the result would not have occurred."And more
comprehensively, "the proximate legal cause is that acting first and producing the injury, either
immediately or by setting other events in motion, all constituting a natural and continuous chain
of events, each having a close causal connection with its immediate predecessor, the final event
in the chain immediately effecting the injury as a natural and probable result of the cause which
first acted, under such circumstances that the person responsible for the first event should, as
an ordinarily prudent and intelligent person, have reasonable ground to expect at the moment of
his act or default that an injury to some person might probably result therefrom." (at pp. 185-
186)
The issue, therefore, hinges on whether or not there was an efficient intervening cause from the time Javier
was wounded until his death which would exculpate Urbano from any liability for Javier's death.

We look into the nature of tetanus-

The incubation period of tetanus, i.e., the time between injury and the appearance of
unmistakable symptoms, ranges from 2 to 56 days. However, over 80 percent of patients
become symptomatic within 14 days. A short incubation period indicates severe disease, and
when symptoms occur within 2 or 3 days of injury the mortality rate approaches 100 percent.

Non-specific premonitory symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, and headache are


encountered occasionally, but the commonest presenting complaints are pain and stiffness in
the jaw, abdomen, or back and difficulty swallowing. As the progresses, stiffness gives way to
rigidity, and patients often complain of difficulty opening their mouths. In fact, trismus in the
commonest manifestation of tetanus and is responsible for the familiar descriptive name of
lockjaw. As more muscles are involved, rigidity becomes generalized, and sustained
contractions called risus sardonicus. The intensity and sequence of muscle involvement is quite
variable. In a small proportion of patients, only local signs and symptoms develop in the region
of the injury. In the vast majority, however, most muscles are involved to some degree, and the
signs and symptoms encountered depend upon the major muscle groups affected.

Reflex spasm usually occur within 24 to 72 hours of the first symptom, an interval referred to as
the onset time. As in the case of the incubation period, a short onset time is associated with a
poor prognosis. Spasms are caused by sudden intensification of afferent stimuli arising in the
periphery, which increases rigidity and causes simultaneous and excessive contraction of
muscles and their antagonists. Spasms may be both painful and dangerous. As the disease
progresses, minimal or inapparent stimuli produce more intense and longer lasting spasms with
increasing frequency. Respiration may be impaired by laryngospasm or tonic contraction of
respiratory muscles which prevent adequate ventilation. Hypoxia may then lead to irreversible
central nervous system damage and death.

Mild tetanus is characterized by an incubation period of at least 14 days and an onset time of
more than 6 days. Trismus is usually present, but dysphagia is absent and generalized spasms
are brief and mild. Moderately severe tetanus has a somewhat shorter incubation period and
onset time; trismus is marked, dysphagia and generalized rigidity are present, but ventilation
remains adequate even during spasms. The criteria for severe tetanus include a short
incubation time, and an onset time of 72 hrs., or less, severe trismus, dysphagia and rigidity and
frequent prolonged, generalized convulsive spasms. (Harrison's Principle of Internal Medicine,
1983 Edition, pp. 1004-1005; Emphasis supplied)

Therefore, medically speaking, the reaction to tetanus found inside a man's body depends on the incubation
period of the disease.

In the case at bar, Javier suffered a 2-inch incised wound on his right palm when he parried the bolo which
Urbano used in hacking him. This incident took place on October 23, 1980. After 22 days, or on November 14,
1980, he suffered the symptoms of tetanus, like lockjaw and muscle spasms. The following day, November 15,
1980, he died.

If, therefore, the wound of Javier inflicted by the appellant was already infected by tetanus germs at the time, it
is more medically probable that Javier should have been infected with only a mild cause of tetanus because
the symptoms of tetanus appeared on the 22nd day after the hacking incident or more than 14 days after the
infliction of the wound. Therefore, the onset time should have been more than six days. Javier, however, died
on the second day from the onset time. The more credible conclusion is that at the time Javier's wound was
inflicted by the appellant, the severe form of tetanus that killed him was not yet present. Consequently, Javier's
wound could have been infected with tetanus after the hacking incident. Considering the circumstance
surrounding Javier's death, his wound could have been infected by tetanus 2 or 3 or a few but not 20 to 22
days before he died.

The rule is that the death of the victim must be the direct, natural, and logical consequence of the wounds
inflicted upon him by the accused. (People v. Cardenas, supra) And since we are dealing with a criminal
conviction, the proof that the accused caused the victim's death must convince a rational mind beyond
reasonable doubt. The medical findings, however, lead us to a distinct possibility that the infection of the
wound by tetanus was an efficient intervening cause later or between the time Javier was wounded to the time
of his death. The infection was, therefore, distinct and foreign to the crime. (People v. Rellin, 77 Phil. 1038).

Doubts are present. There is a likelihood that the wound was but the remote cause and its subsequent
infection, for failure to take necessary precautions, with tetanus may have been the proximate cause of Javier's
death with which the petitioner had nothing to do. As we ruled in Manila Electric Co. v. Remoquillo, et al. (99
Phil. 118).

"A prior and remote cause cannot be made the be of an action if such remote cause did nothing
more than furnish the condition or give rise to the occasion by which the injury was made
possible, if there intervened between such prior or remote cause and the injury a distinct,
successive, unrelated, and efficient cause of the injury, even though such injury would not have
happened but for such condition or occasion. If no danger existed in the condition except
because of the independent cause, such condition was not the proximate cause. And if an
independent negligent act or defective condition sets into operation the instances which result in
injury because of the prior defective condition, such subsequent act or condition is the
proximate cause." (45 C.J. pp. 931-932). (at p. 125)

It strains the judicial mind to allow a clear aggressor to go scot free of criminal liability. At the very least, the
records show he is guilty of inflicting slight physical injuries. However, the petitioner's criminal liability in this
respect was wiped out by the victim's own act. After the hacking incident, Urbano and Javier used the facilities
of barangay mediators to effect a compromise agreement where Javier forgave Urbano while Urbano defrayed
the medical expenses of Javier. This settlement of minor offenses is allowed under the express provisions of
Presidential Decree G.R. No. 1508, Section 2(3). (See also People v. Caruncho, 127 SCRA 16).

We must stress, however, that our discussion of proximate cause and remote cause is limited to the criminal
aspects of this rather unusual case. It does not necessarily follow that the petitioner is also free of civil liability.
The well-settled doctrine is that a person, while not criminally liable, may still be civilly liable. Thus, in the
recent case of People v. Rogelio Ligon y Tria, et al. (G.R. No. 74041, July 29, 1987), we said:

xxx xxx xxx

... While the guilt of the accused in a criminal prosecution must be established beyond
reasonable doubt, only a preponderance of evidence is required in a civil action for damages.
(Article 29, Civil Code). The judgment of acquittal extinguishes the civil liability of the accused
only when it includes a declaration that the facts from which the civil liability might arise did not
exist. (Padilla v. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 559).

The reason for the provisions of article 29 of the Civil Code, which provides that the acquittal of
the accused on the ground that his guilt has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt does not
necessarily exempt him from civil liability for the same act or omission, has been explained by
the Code Commission as follows:

The old rule that the acquittal of the accused in a criminal case also releases him
from civil liability is one of the most serious flaws in the Philippine legal system. It
has given use to numberless instances of miscarriage of justice, where the
acquittal was due to a reasonable doubt in the mind of the court as to the guilt of
the accused. The reasoning followed is that inasmuch as the civil responsibility is
derived from the criminal offense, when the latter is not proved, civil liability
cannot be demanded.

This is one of those causes where confused thinking leads to unfortunate and
deplorable consequences. Such reasoning fails to draw a clear line of
demarcation between criminal liability and civil responsibility, and to determine
the logical result of the distinction. The two liabilities are separate and distinct
from each other. One affects the social order and the other, private rights. One is
for the punishment or correction of the offender while the other is for reparation of
damages suffered by the aggrieved party. The two responsibilities are so
different from each other that article 1813 of the present (Spanish) Civil Code
reads thus: "There may be a compromise upon the civil action arising from a
crime; but the public action for the imposition of the legal penalty shall not
thereby be extinguished." It is just and proper that, for the purposes of the
imprisonment of or fine upon the accused, the offense should be proved beyond
reasonable doubt. But for the purpose of indemnity the complaining party, why
should the offense also be proved beyond reasonable doubt? Is not the invasion
or violation of every private right to be proved only by a preponderance of
evidence? Is the right of the aggrieved person any less private because the
wrongful act is also punishable by the criminal law?

"For these reasons, the Commission recommends the adoption of the reform
under discussion. It will correct a serious defect in our law. It will close up an
inexhaustible source of injustice-a cause for disillusionment on the part of the
innumerable persons injured or wronged."

The respondent court increased the P12,000.00 indemnification imposed by the trial court to P30,000.00.
However, since the indemnification was based solely on the finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt in the
homicide case, the civil liability of the petitioner was not thoroughly examined. This aspect of the case calls for
fuller development if the heirs of the victim are so minded.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The questioned decision of the then Intermediate
Appellate Court, now Court of Appeals, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The petitioner is ACQUITTED of the
crime of homicide. Costs de oficio.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, (Chairman), Feliciano, Bidin and,Cortes, JJ., concur.

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. L-36858 June 20, 1988

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
MACARIO A. ULEP, accused-appellant.

The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Castor Naval for accused-appellant.

GANCAYCO, J.:

A man must love his wife. He must not lift a finger to hurt her. Indeed he must be her protector. When against
this unwritten rule he beats her, he ceases to be a man. He becomes a beast. And the law imposes the
supreme penalty when in the process he kills her. It is parricide pure and simple.

This is what Macario A. Ulep, was convicted of by the Court of First Instance of Ilocos Norte, Second Judicial
District. He was sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to indemnify the heirs of the
deceased in the amount of P12,000.00 and to pay the costs in a decision of March 20, 1973.

The facts are undisputed. On May 21, 1970, at nine o'clock in the evening, in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, one
Asuncion Pablo Ulep died as a result of physical injuries inflicted upon her on that very day by her husband,
accused Macario Ulep. The following day, the Chief of Police of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte received a report of
the said death of Asuncion Pablo who allegedly died of a heart attack. The Chief of Police and the Rural Health
Officer went to the house of the deceased and there they saw the body on a bamboo bed surrounded by
relatives, friends, and the husband of the deceased, Macario. The Chief of Police suggested that an autopsy
be conducted but the husband refused to allow the same. However, the daughter of the deceased by a
previous marriage asked for a day or two to decide on her preference.

At the behest of the daughter, the request for an autopsy was made shortly before the burial. Accordingly, the
police chief and Dr. Eliseo Bonoan, a physician, caught up with the funeral Procession at the Catholic
cemetery and thereupon conducted an autopsy on the deceased.

The autopsy reports read as follows:

POSTMORTEM EXAMINATION

Name: ASUNCION PABLO ULEP

Age: 42

Nationality: Filipino

Address: No. 24, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte

Date: May 25, 1970


PATHOLOGICAL DIAGNOSIS

SKIN:

A rectangular area of about 1" x 3" bluish black in color was noted on the upper
half, anterior aspect of the arm, left.

SKELETAL SYSTEM:

Complete fracture of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th ribs, left. The 4th and 5th ribs
fractured along the midolavicular line, left. The 6th and 7th ribs fractured along
the anterior auxillary line, left. Presence of extravascated blood and injuries of
the surrounding tissues of the broken ribs areas, left.

Complete fracture of the 3rd and 4th ribs at the juncture of the rib and external
cartillages with concomitant injury to its sounding tissues and extravascated
blood, right side.

THORACIC CAVITY:

Presence of about 200 cc. of a serous fluid found within the cavity.

Pleura lacerated at the points of fractures.

CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM:

Heart with small amount of clotted blood. Coronary vessels congested. The big
blood vessels contained small amount of clotted blood.

ABDOMINAL CAVITY:

Presence of about 500 cc. of serous fluid within the cavity.

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM:

Apparently normal

CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM:

The meningeal vessels were congested.

CAUSE OF DEATH:

CARDIAC ARREST

PRIMARY SHOCK.

(Exh. D, p. 16, rec.). 1

Two weeks after the burial, two (2) constabulary sergeants investigated Macario Ulep. A statement was
prepared and signed by the accused and was subsequently sworn to before Fiscal Cesar Abaya of Ilocos
Norte. In this statement, marked as Exhibit "A", he admitted that he caused the death of his wife by elbowing
her because his wife was then drunk and was uttering indecent words. The following day, PC sergeant Damian
Bautista of Camp Juan, Laoag City conducted another investigation of accused Macario Ulep. His statement
was reduced to writing and then subscribed to before Fiscal Abaya. He reiterated that the cause of death of his
wife, Asuncion Pablo, was his elbowing her on her breast. This statement was marked Exhibit "B".

Ulep narrated that this elbowing and attack took place at their home at 5:30 in the afternoon. She vomitted and
then went to bed, The accused then left for the fields and returned at around 9:00 in the evening and found his
wife dead on her bed. He reported this death to their barrio captain.

Despite these statements, (Exhibits "A" and "B") admitting his guilt, Ulep retracted his statement in court by
narrating that more than a year before that, and while his wife went to have their palay milled, their bullcart
loaded with sacks of rice turned upside down and pinned his wife on her breast. With the pain in her chest, she
was treated by a country quack doctor or "arbularyo."

The accused took exception to his conviction when he raised the following errors:

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE CAUSE OF DEATH OF ASUNCION
PABLO WAS DUE TO THE ELBOW BLOWS BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON HER
BREAST, AS ADMIRED BY HIM IN HIS AFFIDAVITS, EXHIBIT "A" AND EXHIBIT "A-1,"
ENGLISH TRANSLATION, WHEN SUCH ADMISSION IS BUT A MERE BELIEF ON HIS PART.

II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE CAUSE OF DEATH OF SAID
ASUNCION PABLO WAS DUE TO A LONG STANDING PROCESS OR CONDITION IN HER
BODY SYSTEM, AS TESTIFIED TO BY DR. PEDRO BLANCO FOR THE DEFENSE.

III

THE LOWER COURT ERRED CONSEQUENTLY IN NOT ACQUITTING HIM OF THE CRIME
OF PARRICIDE.

Our primary concern is to determine the cause of death of Asuncion Pablo, the wife, of the accused. Was her
death a result of cardiac arrest and primary shock due to fractured ribs? The appellant alleges that the gradual
weakening of the heart due to a long standing illness of the body system caused the cardiac arrest which
claimed the life of Asuncion Pablo.

The post-mortem report on the deceased was prepared by Dr. Eliseo V. Bonoan who conducted an autopsy at
the behest of a daughter of tile deceased by a previous marriage. The husband who previously denied
permission to conduct an autopsy was present when the autopsy was performed shortly before the body was
buried at the cemetery of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. In the necropsy report of Dr. Bonoan, the cause of death
was manifestly due to cardiac arrest and primary shock. We agree and see no fault in this finding made in the
necropsy report of Dr. Bonoan.

The defense took exception to Dr. Bonoan's testimony that the fractures in the chest could have been caused
by blows or physical pressure. Could such injuries not have been inflicted by elbow blows when the victim was
standing or by knee or feet blows when the victim was lying on her back or was sitting with her back against
the wall?

While the accused admitted that he delivered several elbow blows on the chest of his wife immediately before
her death and the prosecution attributed these blows as the proximate cause of the cardiac arrest and primary
shock which resulted in the wife's death, the defense assails this theory of the prosecution in the following
manner:
First, there were no contusions on the chest of the victim. This indicates that the elbow blows
were not of sufficient force to fracture the ribs. This is so because a fracture necessarily results
in the extravasation of blood in the fractured area and it is the extravasated blood that causes
the swelling or contusion. 2 Dr. Blanco attributes the absence of swelling or contusion on the
chest, where the fractures were found, to the fact that the fracture conditions Were of long
standing; that is, some repairs has happened and that sufficient time have elapsed for the
swelling to disappear (t.s.n., p. 180).

Second, even on the theory that fractures of the ribs as that found by Dr. Bonoan were present,
the same could have not caused cardiac arrest and primary shock. This is so because only
extravasated blood was present around the immediate area of the fractures, This means that
the fractures were not depressed or that the fractured ends did not cave-in, so as to injure the
heart and impede its functions to cause cardiac arrest. The claim of Dr. Bonoan that the chest is
pliant and is like an accordion which can be compressed is puerile to say the least. Even so, the
elbow blows of the accused could not have caused a compression of the chest wall, no matter
how pliant it could be. And even on the theory that the fractures were caused by stamping the
foot on a piece of wood placed on the chest, while the victim was lying on her back, still the
fractures could not have injured the heart or impede its functions to cause cardiac arrest,
because the fractures, were not depressed fractures or cave-in fractures. The fractures merely
caused the extravasation of blood within the fractured areas. And neither would the fractures
cause primary shock because they were merely complete fractures; which means a mere
breakage that would not cause the stoppage of the heart, because it does not tend to compress
the heart. 3

And third, although the pleura or thoracic cavity was lacerated at the points of fracture, the same
could not have caused cardiac arrest or primary shock because the lacerations were limited to
the pleura. The points of fracture did not cave-in or were not depressed and they did not injure
or impede the heart to cause cardiac arrest. Neither did the lacerations of the pleura cause
primary shock because blood did not spill into the pleura, which indicates that the hemorrhage
was nil. This is so because the serous fluid in the pleura -as not reddish.

On the contrary, the evidence of the prosecution shows that the deceased died of cardiac arrest
because of the weakening of the heart due to a long standing process or condition in her body
system. Thus the theory of the defense is strengthened by the very evidence of the
prosecution. 4

Furthermore, both sides in this case took issue to the presence of 200 cc. of serous fluid in the pleura. The
appellant claims that it is not normal whereas the prosecution says that the pleura normally contains 100 to
200 cc. of serous fluid and that this is normal. Anyway both agree that there should be enough serous fluid to
lubricate the tissues.

The presence of 500 cc. of serous fluid in the abdominal cavity which, according to Dr. Blanco, the physician,
witness for the appellant, may be due to the chronic condition of the kidney like nephritis and edema or the
hardening of the liver or a long progressively weakening of the heart. 5 Dr. Bonoan did not concur in this view
when he said that the fluid was rather increased as a result of the diffusion of the medicine used in the
embalming. 6 We find cogent basis in the explanation given by Dr. Bonoan.

Another point raised in the necropsy report pertains to the presence of clotted blood in the heart and blood
vessels as well as the congestion of the meningeal vessels. The appellant bares that this is a sign of the
hardening of the heart. Dr. Bonoan of the prosecution disclosed that there were no signs of circulatory
weakening and that blood clots were not found adherent to the heart and such being the condition there could
be no abnormality and thus he further declares that such clots are normally found in the heart of a dead person
or in any part of the circulatory system. 7
There is an admission by Dr. Blanco, the appellant's witness, that he has not "attended a case of fractured
ribs" 8and that he explains cardiac failure as a "failing of the heart" and his further concept is that it is "the
stopping of the heart." He says that such stoppage could be due to trauma, such as a fracture of the ribs. 9

A resume of the evidence presented by the parties establishes the fact of death of Asuncion Pablo on May 21,
1970. She was legally married to Macario Ulep, the appellant herein. The death, established in two affidavits,
Exhibits "A" and "B," was caused by said accused. In these affidavits, the appellant admitted that he elbowed
and attacked his wife. This attack caused the complete fracture of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th ribs on her left
chest and the 3rd, and 4th ribs, right chest of Asuncion Pablo on the same evening of May 21, 1970. The trial
judge observed: "There was never any attempt on the part of the accused to repudiate the sworn statements
wherein he admitted that the cause of death of his wife was his having elbowed her many times on her
breast." 10

Having realized the gravity of his act, the appellant presented a witness to prove that sometime in February or
March, 1969 his wife was pinned down by a sack of rice and the side portion of a bullcart and was attended to
by a town quack doctor called an arbularyo. This witness said that two (2) ribs on each side of the chest were
fractured, without stating which particular ribs were so affected.

From all these observations, findings, and an incisive study of the necropsy report, the cause of death of the
wife-victim in this case is cardiac arrest and primary shock caused by the strong pressure applied on the upper
front chest bone. This happens when one steps, kneels or presses the body of a victim against a wall. The
man-size blows coming from the elbow of the aggressor upon a thin-framed woman can only bring about fatal
results.

We find relevance in Wharton and Stilles' findings in their book, Medical Jurisprudence under the title of
"SHOCK," to wit:

Sec. 225. Shock. — Death may also be due to the shock associated with the injury. The
possibility of a person dying from the shock attendant upon an injury which, by itself appears to
be unimportant is attested by experience. No satisfactory explanation of the cause of the shock
seems to have been found, though it is due in some way to the upsetting of the nervous
equilibrium of the body. Shock from an injury may be fatal even when the blow leaves no trace
behind it; as, for instance, when a person receives a violent blow upon the pit of the stomach, or
behind the ear, or to the larynx. ... In the case of Reg. v. Slane, et al., 11 the deceased had
received injuries to the abdomen by kick and blows, but there were no marks of bruises present,
or anything to show the cause of death. Death however, had followed twenty minutes after the
maltreatment and was evidently due to the shock. The prisoners were convicted of murder. 12

We have previously stated that:

Even if the victim is suffering from an internal ailment, liver or heart disease, or tuberculosis, if
the blow delivered by the accused —

(a) is the efficient cause of death; or

(b) accelerated his death; or

(c) is the proximate cause of death; then there is criminal liability. 13

Apropos to all these is that time-respected doctrine: "He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of the evil
caused." This is the rationale in Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code which provides that "criminal liability shall
be incurred by a person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from that which
he intended."
Again, We elucidated that: even though a blow with the fist or a kick does not cause any external wound, it
may easily produce inflammation of the spleen and peritonitis and cause death, and even though the victim
may have been previously affected by some internal malady, yet if the blow with the fist or foot accelerated
death, he who caused such acceleration is responsible for the death as the result of an injury willfully and
unlawfully inflicted. 14

We are, therefore, convinced that there is no fundamental disagreement between the two medical witnesses
as to the cause of the victim's death and that cardiac arrest and primary shock took away the life of the victim,
Asuncion Pablo.

There is that clear and categorical showing that on the appellant fell the blame for these in human acts on his
wife. He should answer for her tragic death.

The indemnity to the heirs of his deceased wife should be increased to P30,000.00.

WHEREFORE, with the above modification as to indemnity, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED
in all other respects.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, Cruz, Griño-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.

Footnotes

1 Page 56, Rollo.

2 Page 36, Rollo; page 7, Appellant's Brief.

3 Page 36, Rollo; page 8, Appellant's Brief.

4 Page 36, Rollo; page 9, Appellant's Brief.

5 Page 36, Rollo; page 11, Appellant's Brief.

6 Page 56, Rollo; page 15, Appellee's Brief.

7 Page 56, Rollo; page 16, Appellee's Brief.

8 Ibid.

9 Page 56, Rollo: page 16, Appellee's Brief.

10 Page 13, Rollo; page 13, Decision of the Court of First Instance.

11 Citing Derham Wint. Ass. 1872.

12 Wharton & Stille's Medical Jurisprudence, 5th Ed.

13 People vs. Ilustre, 54 Phil. 594.

14 United States v. Rosalinda Rodriguez, 23 Phil. 22.


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 103119 October 21, 1992

SULPICIO INTOD, petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

CAMPOS, JR., J.:

Petitioner, Sulpicio Intod, filed this petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals 1 affirming in
toto the judgment of the Regional Trial Court, Branch XIV, Oroquieta City, finding him guilty of the crime of
attempted murder.

From the records, we gathered the following facts.

In the morning of February 4, 1979, Sulpicio Intod, Jorge Pangasian, Santos Tubio and Avelino Daligdig went
to Salvador Mandaya's house in Katugasan, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental and asked him to go with them
to the house of Bernardina Palangpangan. Thereafter, Mandaya and Intod, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig had
a meeting with Aniceto Dumalagan. He told Mandaya that he wanted Palangpangan to be killed because of a
land dispute between them and that Mandaya should accompany the four (4) men, otherwise, he would also
be killed.

At about 10:00 o'clock in the evening of the same day, Petitioner, Mandaya, Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig, all
armed with firearms, arrived at Palangpangan's house in Katugasan, Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental. At the
instance of his companions, Mandaya pointed the location of Palangpangan's bedroom. Thereafter, Petitioner,
Pangasian, Tubio and Daligdig fired at said room. It turned out, however, that Palangpangan was in another
City and her home was then occupied by her son-in-law and his family. No one was in the room when the
accused fired the shots. No one was hit by the gun fire.

Petitioner and his companions were positively identified by witnesses. One witness testified that before the five
men left the premises, they shouted: "We will kill you (the witness) and especially Bernardina Palangpangan
and we will come back if (sic) you were not injured". 2

After trial, the Regional Trial Court convicted Intod of attempted murder. The court (RTC), as affirmed by the
Court of Appeals, holding that Petitioner was guilty of attempted murder. Petitioner seeks from this Court a
modification of the judgment by holding him liable only for an impossible crime, citing Article 4(2) of the
Revised Penal Code which provides:

Art. 4(2). CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY. — Criminal Responsibility shall be incurred:

xxx xxx xxx

2. By any person performing an act which would be an offense against persons or


property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment or on account of the
employment of inadequate or ineffectual means.
Petitioner contends that, Palangpangan's absence from her room on the night he and his companions
riddled it with bullets made the crime inherently impossible.

On the other hand, Respondent People of the Philippines argues that the crime was not impossible. Instead,
the facts were sufficient to constitute an attempt and to convict Intod for attempted murder. Respondent
alleged that there was intent. Further, in its Comment to the Petition, respondent pointed out that:

. . . The crime of murder was not consummated, not because of the inherent impossibility of its
accomplishment (Art. 4(2), Revised Penal Code), but due to a cause or accident other than
petitioner's and his accused's own spontaneous desistance (Art. 3., Ibid.) Palangpangan did not
sleep at her house at that time. Had it not been for this fact, the crime is possible, not
impossible. 3

Article 4, paragraph 2 is an innovation 4 of the Revised Penal Code. This seeks to remedy the void in the Old
Penal Code where:

. . . it was necessary that the execution of the act has been commenced, that the person
conceiving the idea should have set about doing the deed, employing appropriate means in
order that his intent might become a reality, and finally, that the result or end contemplated shall
have been physically possible. So long as these conditions were not present, the law and the
courts did not hold him criminally liable. 5

This legal doctrine left social interests entirely unprotected. 6 The Revised Penal Code, inspired by the
Positivist School, recognizes in the offender his formidability, 7 and now penalizes an act which were it not
aimed at something quite impossible or carried out with means which prove inadequate, would constitute a
felony against person or against property. 8 The rationale of Article 4(2) is to punish such criminal tendencies. 9

Under this article, the act performed by the offender cannot produce an offense against person or property
because: (1) the commission of the offense is inherently impossible of accomplishment: or (2) the means
employed is either (a) inadequate or (b) ineffectual. 10

That the offense cannot be produced because the commission of the offense is inherently impossible of
accomplishment is the focus of this petition. To be impossible under this clause, the act intended by the
offender must be by its nature one impossible of accomplishment. 11 There must be either impossibility of
accomplishing the intended act 12 in order to qualify the act an impossible crime.

Legal impossibility occurs where the intended acts, even if completed, would not amount to a crime. 13 Thus:

Legal impossibility would apply to those circumstances where (1) the motive, desire and
expectation is to perform an act in violation of the law; (2) there is intention to perform the
physical act; (3) there is a performance of the intended physical act; and (4) the consequence
resulting from the intended act does not amount to a crime. 14

The impossibility of killing a person already dead 15 falls in this category.

On the other hand, factual impossibility occurs when extraneous circumstances unknown to the actor or
beyond his control prevent the consummation of the intended crime. 16 One example is the man who puts his
hand in the coat pocket of another with the intention to steal the latter's wallet and finds the pocket empty. 17

The case at bar belongs to this category. Petitioner shoots the place where he thought his victim would be,
although in reality, the victim was not present in said place and thus, the petitioner failed to accomplish his end.

One American case had facts almost exactly the same as this one. In People vs. Lee Kong, 18 the accused,
with intent to kill, aimed and fired at the spot where he thought the police officer would be. It turned out,
however, that the latter was in a different place. The accused failed to hit him and to achieve his intent. The
Court convicted the accused of an attempt to kill. It held that:

The fact that the officer was not at the spot where the attacking party imagined where he was,
and where the bullet pierced the roof, renders it no less an attempt to kill. It is well settled
principle of criminal law in this country that where the criminal result of an attempt is not
accomplished simply because of an obstruction in the way of the thing to be operated upon, and
these facts are unknown to the aggressor at the time, the criminal attempt is committed.

In the case of Strokes vs. State, 19 where the accused failed to accomplish his intent to kill the victim because
the latter did not pass by the place where he was lying-in wait, the court held him liable for attempted murder.
The court explained that:

It was no fault of Strokes that the crime was not committed. . . . It only became impossible by
reason of the extraneous circumstance that Lane did not go that way; and further, that he was
arrested and prevented from committing the murder. This rule of the law has application only
where it is inherently impossible to commit the crime. It has no application to a case where it
becomes impossible for the crime to be committed, either by outside interference or because of
miscalculation as to a supposed opportunity to commit the crime which fails to materialize; in
short it has no application to the case when the impossibility grows out of extraneous acts not
within the control of the party.

In the case of Clark vs. State, 20 the court held defendant liable for attempted robbery even if there was nothing
to rob. In disposing of the case, the court quoted Mr. Justice Bishop, to wit:

It being an accepted truth that defendant deserves punishment by reason of his criminal intent,
no one can seriously doubt that the protection of the public requires the punishment to be
administered, equally whether in the unseen depths of the pocket, etc., what was supposed to
exist was really present or not. The community suffers from the mere alarm of crime. Again:
Where the thing intended (attempted) as a crime and what is done is a sort to create alarm, in
other words, excite apprehension that the evil; intention will be carried out, the incipient act
which the law of attempt takes cognizance of is in reason committed.

In State vs. Mitchell, 21 defendant, with intent to kill, fired at the window of victim's room thinking that the latter
was inside. However, at that moment, the victim was in another part of the house. The court convicted the
accused of attempted murder.

The aforecited cases are the same cases which have been relied upon by Respondent to make this Court
sustain the judgment of attempted murder against Petitioner. However, we cannot rely upon these decisions to
resolve the issue at hand. There is a difference between the Philippine and the American laws regarding the
concept and appreciation of impossible crimes.

In the Philippines, the Revised Penal Code, in Article 4(2), expressly provided for impossible crimes and made
the punishable. Whereas, in the United States, the Code of Crimes and Criminal Procedure is silent regarding
this matter. What it provided for were attempts of the crimes enumerated in the said Code. Furthermore, in said
jurisdiction, the impossibility of committing the offense is merely a defense to an attempt charge. In this regard,
commentators and the cases generally divide the impossibility defense into two categories: legal versus factual
impossibility. 22 In U.S. vs. Wilson 23 the Court held that:

. . . factual impossibility of the commission of the crime is not a defense. If the crime could have
been committed had the circumstances been as the defendant believed them to be, it is no
defense that in reality the crime was impossible of commission.

Legal impossibility, on the other hand, is a defense which can be invoked to avoid criminal liability for an
attempt. In U.S. vs. Berrigan, 24 the accused was indicated for attempting to smuggle letters into and out of
prison. The law governing the matter made the act criminal if done without knowledge and consent of the
warden. In this case, the offender intended to send a letter without the latter's knowledge and consent and the
act was performed. However, unknown to him, the transmittal was achieved with the warden's knowledge and
consent. The lower court held the accused liable for attempt but the appellate court reversed. It held
unacceptable the contention of the state that "elimination of impossibility as a defense to a charge of criminal
attempt, as suggested by the Model Penal Code and the proposed federal legislation, is consistent with the
overwhelming modern view". In disposing of this contention, the Court held that the federal statutes did not
contain such provision, and thus, following the principle of legality, no person could be criminally liable for an
act which was not made criminal by law. Further, it said:

Congress has not yet enacted a law that provides that intent plus act plus conduct constitutes
the offense of attempt irrespective of legal impossibility until such time as such legislative
changes in the law take place, this court will not fashion a new non-statutory law of criminal
attempt.

To restate, in the United States, where the offense sought to be committed is factually impossible or
accomplishment, the offender cannot escape criminal liability. He can be convicted of an attempt to commit the
substantive crime where the elements of attempt are satisfied. It appears, therefore, that the act is penalized,
not as an impossible crime, but as an attempt to commit a crime. On the other hand, where the offense is
legally impossible of accomplishment, the actor cannot be held liable for any crime — neither for an attempt
not for an impossible crime. The only reason for this is that in American law, there is no such thing as an
impossible crime. Instead, it only recognizes impossibility as a defense to a crime charge — that is, attempt.

This is not true in the Philippines. In our jurisdiction, impossible crimes are recognized. The impossibility of
accomplishing the criminal intent is not merely a defense, but an act penalized by itself. Furthermore, the
phrase "inherent impossibility" that is found in Article 4(2) of the Revised Penal Code makes no distinction
between factual or physical impossibility and legal impossibility. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere
debemos.

The factual situation in the case at bar present a physical impossibility which rendered the intended crime
impossible of accomplishment. And under Article 4, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code, such is sufficient
to make the act an impossible crime.

To uphold the contention of respondent that the offense was Attempted Murder because the absence of
Palangpangan was a supervening cause independent of the actor's will, will render useless the provision in
Article 4, which makes a person criminally liable for an act "which would be an offense against persons or
property, were it not for the inherent impossibility of its accomplishment . . ." In that case all circumstances
which prevented the consummation of the offense will be treated as an accident independent of the actor's will
which is an element of attempted and frustrated felonies.

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED. the petition is hereby GRANTED, the decision of respondent
Court of Appeals holding Petitioner guilty of Attempted Murder is hereby MODIFIED. We hereby hold Petitioner
guilty of an impossible crime as defined and penalized in Articles 4, paragraph 2, and 59 of the Revised Penal
Code, respectively. Having in mind the social danger and degree of criminality shown by Petitioner, this Court
sentences him to suffer the penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor, together with the accessory penalties
provided by the law, and to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.

Feliciano, Regalado and Nocon, JJ., concur.

Narvasa, C.J., is on leave.


Footnotes

1 People vs. Intod, C.A-G.R. No. 09205, August 14, 1991; Justice Fidel P.
Purisima, Ponente: Justices Eduardo R. Bengzon and Salome A. Montoya, concurring.

2 TSN, p. 4, July 24, 1986.

3 Records, p. 65.

4 Guevarra, Commentaries on the Revised Penal Code 15 (4th ed., 1946).

5 Albert, Ibid.

6 Albert, Ibid.

7 Albert, Ibid.

8 Albert, Ibid.

9 Grogorio and Feria, Comments on the Revised Penal Code 76 (Vol. I, 1st ed. 1958).

10 Reyes, The revised Penal Code, 90 (Vol. I, 11th ed., 1977).

11 Reyes, Ibid.

12 Reyes, Ibid.

13 U.S. vs. Berrigan, 482 F. 2nd. 171 (1973).

14 U.S. vs. Berrigan, Ibid.

15 Aquino, The Revised Penal Code, (Vol. I, 1987).

16 U.S. vs. Berrigan, supra, p. 13.

17 U.S. vs. Berrigan, Ibid.

18 21 L.R.A. 626 (1898).

19 21 L.R.A. N.S. 898 (1908).

20 17 S.W. 145 (1888).

21 71 S.W. 175 (1902).

22 U.S. vs. HENG AWKAK ROMAN, 39 L. Ed. 2d. 874 (1974).

23 565 F. Supp. 1416 (1983).

24 Supra, n. 13.

 
THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 116736. July 24, 1997]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. BENJAMIN ORTEGA, JR. y CONJE, MANUEL
GARCIA y RIVERA and JOHN DOE, accused, BENJAMIN ORTEGA, JR. y CONJE and MANUEL
GARCIA y RIVERA, accused-appellants.

DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:

A person who commits a felony is liable for the direct, natural and logical consequences of his wrongful act
even where the resulting crime is more serious than that intended. Hence, an accused who originally intended
to conceal and to bury what he thought was the lifeless body of the victim can be held liable as a principal, not
simply as an accessory, where it is proven that the said victim was actually alive but subsequently died as a
direct result of such concealment and burial. Nonetheless, in the present case, Appellant Garcia can not be
held liable as a principal because the prosecution failed to allege such death through drowning in the
Information. Neither may said appellant be held liable as an accessory due to his relationship with the principal
killer, Appellant Ortega, who is his brother-in-law.

Statement of the Case

This case springs from the joint appeal interposed by Appellants Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia
from the Decision,[1] dated February 9, 1994 written by Judge Adriano R. Osorio,[2] finding them guilty of
murder.
Appellants were charged by State Prosecutor Bernardo S. Razon in an Information[3] dated October 19,
1992, as follows:
That on or about October 17, 1992 in Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together and mutually helping one another, without any
justifiable cause, with treachery and evident premeditation and with abuse of superior strenght (sic) and with
deliberate intent to kill, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab
repeatedly with a pointed weapon on the different parts of the body one ANDRE MAR MASANGKAY y
ABLOLA, thereby inflicting upon the latter serious physical injuries which directly caused his death.
During arraignment, Appellants Ortega and Garcia, assisted by counsel de oficio,[4] pleaded not guilty to
the charge.[5] Accused John Doe was then at large.[6] After trial in due course, the court a quo promulgated the
questioned Decision. The dispositive portion reads:[7]
WHEREFORE, finding accused Benjamin Ortega, Jr. y Conje and Manuel Garcia y Rivera [g]uilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged, the Court hereby sentenced (sic) them to suffer the penalty
of RECLUSION PERPETUA and to pay the costs of suit.
Accused are hereby ordered to pay the offended party the sum of P35,000.00 for funeral expenses of deceased
Andre Mar Masangkay and death indemnity of P50,000.00.
The Notice of Appeal, dated March 9, 1994, was thus filed by Atty. Evaristo P. Velicaria[8] who took over
from the Public Attorneys Office as counsel for the accused.

The Facts
Evidence for the Prosecution

The trial court summarized the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses as follows:[9]
Diosdado Quitlong substantially testified that on October 15, 1992 at about 5:30 in the afternoon, he, the victim
Andre Mar Masangkay, Ariel Caranto, Romeo Ortega, Roberto San Andres were having a drinking spree in the
compound near the house of Benjamin Ortega, Jr. at Daangbakal, Dalandanan, Valenzuela, Metro Manila. That
while they were drinking, accused Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia who were [already] drunk arrived
and joined them. That victim Andre Mar Masangkay answered the call of nature and went to the back portion of
the house. That accused Benjamin Ortega, Jr. followed him and later they [referring to the participants in the
drinking session] heard the victim Andre Mar shouted, Dont, help me! (Huwag, tulungan ninyo ako!) That he
and Ariel Caranto ran towards the back portion of the house and [they] saw accused Benjamin Ortega, Jr., on top
of Andre Mar Masangkay who was lying down in a canal with his face up and stabbing the latter with a long
bladed weapon. That Ariel Caranto ran and fetched Benjamin Ortega, Sr., the father of accused Benjamin,
Jr. That he [Quitlong] went to Romeo Ortega in the place where they were having the drinking session [for the
latter] to pacify his brother Benjamin, Jr. That Romeo Ortega went to the place of the stabbing and together with
Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia lifted Andre Mar Masangkay from the canal and brought Andre Mar to
the well and dropped the latter inside the well. That Romeo Ortega, Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia
then dropped stones measuring 11 to 12 inches high, 2 feet in length and 11 to 12 inches in weight to the body of
Andre Mar Masangkay inside the well. That Romeo Ortega warned him [Quitlong] not to tell anybody of what
he saw. That he answered in the affirmative and he was allowed to go home. That his house is about 200 meters
from Romeo Ortegas house. That upon reaching home, his conscience bothered him and he told his mother what
he witnessed. That he went to the residence of Col. Leonardo Orig and reported the matter. That Col. Orig
accompanied him to the Valenzuela Police Station and some police officers went with them to the crime
scene. That accused Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia were apprehended and were brought to the police
station.
On cross-examination, he said that he did not talk to the lawyer before he was presented as witness in this
case. That he narrated the incident to his mother on the night he witnessed the killing on October 15, 1992. That
on October 15, 1992 at 5:30 in the afternoon when he arrived, victim Andre Mar Masangkay, Romeo Ortega,
Serafin and one Boyet were already having [a] drinking spree and he joined them. That accused Benjamin
Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia were not yet in the place. That the stabbing happened between 12:00 midnight
and 12:30 a.m. That they drank gin with finger foods such as pork and shell fish. That he met the victim Andre
Mar Masangkay only on that occasion. That accused Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia joined them at
about 11:00 p.m. That there was no altercation between Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia in one hand and
Andre Mar Masangkay, during the drinking session. That at about 12:30 a.m. Andre Mar Masangkay answered
the call of nature and went to the back portion of the house. That he cannot see Andre Mar Masangkay from the
place they were having the drinking session. That he did not see what happened to Andre Mar Masangkay. That
he only heard Masangkay asking for help. That accused Manuel Garcia was still in the drinking session when he
heard Masangkay was asking for help. That Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Manuel Garcia are his friends and
neighbors. That when he heard Andre Mar Masangkay was asking for help, he and Ariel Caranto ran to the back
portion of the house and saw Benjamin Ortega, Jr. on top of Andre Mar Masangkay and stabbing the latter. That
Andre Mar Masangkay was lying down with his back in the canal and Benjamin Ortega, Jr. on top stabbing the
former. That he did not see any injuries on Benjamin Ortega, Jr. That he called Romeo Ortega to pacify his
brother Benjamin, Jr. That he did not do anything to separate Benjamin Ortega, Jr. and Masangkay. That he
knows that Andre Mar Masangkay was courting Raquel Ortega. That Raquel Ortega asked permission from
Andre Mar Masangkay when she left between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. That there was no trouble that occurred during
the drinking session.
PNP Superintendent Leonardo Orig substantially testified that Diosdado Quitlong is his neighbor for about 9
years. That on October 16, 1992 at 5:00 in the morning, he was summoned by Diosdado Quitlong and reported
to him the stabbing incident that occurred at Daangbakal near the subdivision he is living. That he relayed the
information to the Valenzuela Police Station and a police team under police officer Param accompanied them to
the place. That he asked the police officers to verify if there is a body of person inside the well. That the well
was covered with stones and he asked the police officers to seek the help of theneighbors (sic) to remove the
stones inside the well. That after the stones were removed, the body of the victim was found inside the well. That
the lifeless body was pulled out from the well. That the body has several stab wounds. That he came to know the
victim as Andre Mar Masangkay. That two men were arrested by the police officers.
On cross-examination, he said that he saw the body when taken out of the well with several stab wounds. That
Diosdado Quitlong told him that he was drinking with the victim and the assailants at the time of the
incident. That Benjamin Ortega, Jr. stabbed the victim while the latter was answering the call of nature.
NBI Medico Legal Officer Dr. Ludivico J. Lagat substantially testified that he conducted [an] autopsy on the
cadaver of Andre Mar Masangkay on October 16, 1992 at the Valenzuela Memorial Homes located at Macarthur
Highway. That he prepared the autopsy report and the sketch of human head and body indicating the location of
the stab wounds. That the cause of death is multiple stab wounds, contributory, [a]sphyxia by submersion in
water. That there were 13 stab wounds, 8 of which were on the frontal part of the body, 2 at the back and there
were contused abrasions around the neck and on the left arm. There was stab wound at the left side of the
neck. That the contused abrasion could be produced by cord or wire or rope.That there is (an) incised wound on
the left forearm. That the stab wounds which were backward downward of the body involved the lungs. That the
victim was in front of the assailant. That the stab wound on the upper left shoulder was caused when the
assailant was in front of the victim. That the assailant was in front of the victim when the stab wound near the
upper left armpit was inflicted as well as the stab wound on the left chest wall. That the stab wound on the back
left side of the body and the stab wound on the back right portion of the body may be produced when the
assailant was at the back of the victim. That the assailant was in front of the victim when the stab wound[s] on
the left elbow and left arm were inflicted. That the large airway is filled with muddy particles indicating that the
victim was alive when the victim inhaled the muddy particles. The heart is filled with multiple hemorrhage, loss
of blood or decreased of blood. The lungs is filled with water or muddy particles. The brain is pale due to loss of
blood. The stomach is one half filled with muddy particles which could [have been] taken in when submerged in
water.
On cross-examination, he said that he found 13 stab wounds on the body of the victim. That he cannot tell if the
assailant or the victim were standing. That it is possible that the stab wounds was (sic) inflicted when both
[referring to participants] were standing or the victim was lying down and the assailant was on top. That he
cannot tell the number of the assailants.

Evidence for the Appellants

Appellant Manuel Garcia testified that in the early morning of October 15, 1992, he and his wife, Maritess
Garcia, brought their feverish daughter, Marjorie, to the Polo Emergency Hospital. He left the hospital at seven
o clock in the morning, went home, changed his clothes and went to work.[10] After office hours, he and
Benjamin Ortega, Jr. passed by the canteen at their place of work. After drinking beer, they left at eight o clock
in the evening and headed home. En route, they chanced on Diosdado Quitlong alias Mac-mac and Andre Mar
Masangkay, who invited them to join their own drinking spree. Thereupon, Appellant Garcias wife came and
asked him to go home because their daughter was still sick. To alleviate his daughters illness, he fetched his
mother-in-law who performed a ritual called tawas. After the ritual, he remained at home and attended to his
sick daughter. He then fell asleep but was awakened by police officers at six o clock in the morning of the
following day.
Maritess Garcia substantially corroborated the testimony of her husband. She however added two other
participants in the drinking session aside from Diosdado Quitlong alias Mac-mac and Andre Mar Masangkay,
namely, aMang Serafin and Boyet Santos.[11]
Benjamin Ortega, Jr. likewise substantially corroborated the testimony of Appellant Manuel
Garcia.[12] According to him, between eleven and twelve o clock in the evening, Masangkay left the drinking
session. Thirty (30) minutes after Masangkay left, he also left the drinking place to urinate.[13] He went behind
the house where he saw Masangkay peeping through the room of his sister Raquel. He ignored Masangkay
and continued urinating.[14] After he was through, Masangkay approached him and asked where his sister
was. He answered that he did not know. Without warning, Masangkay allegedly boxed him in the mouth, an
attack that induced bleeding and caused him to fall on his back. When he was about to stand up, Masangkay
drew a knife and stabbed him, hitting him on the left arm, thereby immobilizing him. Masangkay then gripped
his neck with his left arm and threatened to kill him. Unable to move, Ortega shouted for help. Quitlong came
and, to avoid being stabbed, grabbed Masangkays right hand which was holding the knife. Quitlong was able
to wrest the knife from Masangkay and, with it, he stabbed Masangkay ten (10) times successively, in the left
chest and in the middle of the stomach. When the stabbing started, Ortega moved to the left side of
Masangkay to avoid being hit.[15] Quitlong chased Masangkay who ran towards the direction of the
well.Thereafter, Ortega went home and treated his injured left armpit and lips. Then, he slept.
When he woke up at six o clock the following morning, he saw police officers in front of his house. Taking
him with them, the lawmen proceeded to the well. From the railroad tracks where he was asked to sit, he saw
the police officers lift the body of a dead person from the well. He came to know the identity of the dead person
only after the body was taken to the police headquarters.[16]

The Trial Courts Discussion

The trial court explained its basis for appellants conviction as follows:[17]
The Court is convinced that the concerted acts of accused Benjamin Ortega, Jr., Manuel Garcia, Jr. and one
Romeo Ortega in lifting, carrying and dumping the victim Andre Mar Masangkay who was still alive and
breathing inside the deep well filled with water, head first and threw big stones/rocks inside the well to cover the
victim is a clear indication of the community of design to finish/kill victim Andre Mar Masangkay. Wounded
and unarmed victim Andre Mar Masangkay was in no position to flee and/or defend himself against the three
malefactors. Conspiracy and the taking advantage of superior strength were in attendance. The crime committed
by the accused is Murder.
Concert of action at the moment of consummating the crime and the form and manner in which assistance is
rendered to the person inflicting the fatal wound may determine complicity where it would not otherwise be
evidence (People vs. Yu, 80 SCRA 382 (1977)).
Every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable. Accused (m)ust reimburse the heirs of victim
Andre Mar Masangkay the amount of P35,000.00 for the funeral expenses of the deceased.

The Issues

In their ten-page brief, appellants fault the trial court with the following: [18]
I. The trial court erred in holding that there is conspiracy on the basis of the prosecutions evidence that at
the time both accused and one Romeo Ortega lifted the body of Andrew Masangkay from where he
succumbed due to stab wounds and brought and drop said body of Andrew Masangkay to the well to
commit murder;
II. The trial court erred in finding and holding that Andrew Masangkay was still alive at the time his body
was dropped in the well;
III. The trial court erred in convicting Manuel Garcia and in not acquitting the latter of the crime charged;
and
IV. The trial court erred in not finding that if at all Benjamin Ortega Jr. is guilty only of homicide alone.

On the basis of the records and the arguments raised by the appellants and the People, we believe that the question to be
resolved could be simplified thus: What are the criminal liabilities, if any, of Appellants Ortega and Garcia?

The Courts Ruling

We find the appeal partly meritorious. Appellant Ortega is guilty only of homicide. Appellant Garcia
deserves acquittal.
First Issue: Liability of Appellant Ortega

The witnesses for the prosecution and defense presented conflicting narrations. The prosecution
witnesses described the commission of the crime and positively identified appellants as the perpetrators. The
witnesses for the defense, on the other hand, attempted to prove denial and alibi. As to which of the two
contending versions speaks the truth primarily rests on a critical evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses
and their stories. In this regard, the trial court held:[19]
The Court has listened intently to the narration of the accused and their witnesses and the prosecution witnesses
and has keenly observed their behavior and demeanor on the witness stand and is convinced that the story of the
prosecution is the more believable version. Prosecution eyewitness Diosdado Quitlong appeared and sounded
credible and his credibility is reinforced by the fact that he has no reason to testify falsely against the accused. It
was Diosdado Quitlong who reported the stabbing incident to the police authorities. If Quitlong stabbed and
killed the victim Masangkay, he will keep away from the police authorities and will go in hiding. x x x
Because the trial court had the opportunity to observe the witnesses demeanor and deportment on the
stand as they rendered their testimonies, its evaluation of the credibility of witnesses is entitled to the highest
respect.Therefore, unless the trial judge plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value which, if
considered, might affect the result of the case, his assessment of credibility must be respected.[20]
In the instant case, we have meticulously scoured the records and found no reason to reverse the trial
courts assessment of the credibility of the witnesses and their testimonies[21] insofar as Appellant Ortega is
concerned. The narration of Eyewitness Diosdado Quitlong appears to be spontaneous and consistent. It is
straightforward, detailed, vivid and logical. Thus, it clearly deserves full credence.
On the other hand, in asserting alibi and denial, the defense bordered on the unbelievable. Appellant
Ortega claimed that after he was able to free himself from Masangkays grip, he went home, treated his injuries
and slept.[22]This is not the ordinary reaction of a person assaulted. If Ortegas version of the assault was true,
he should have immediately reported the matter to the police authorities, if only out of gratitude to Quitlong who
came to his rescue.Likewise, it is difficult to believe that a man would just sleep after someone was stabbed in
his own backyard. Further, we deem it incredible that Diosdado Quitlong would stab Masangkay ten (10) times
successively, completely ignoring Benjamin Ortega, Jr. who was grappling with Masangkay. Also inconsistent
with human experience is his narration that Masangkay persisted in choking him instead of defending himself
from the alleged successive stabbing of Quitlong.[23] The natural tendency of a person under attack is to defend
himself and not to persist in choking a defenseless third person.

Murder or Homicide?

Although treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength were alleged in the information,
the trial court found the presence only of abuse of superior strength.
We disagree with the trial courts finding. Abuse of superior strength requires deliberate intent on the part
of the accused to take advantage of such superiority. It must be shown that the accused purposely used
excessive force that was manifestly out of proportion to the means available to the victims defense.[24] In this
light, it is necessary to evaluate not only the physical condition and weapon of the protagonists but also the
various incidents of the event.[25]
In his testimony, Witness Dominador Quitlong mentioned nothing about Appellant Ortegas availment of
force excessively out of proportion to the means of defense available to the victim to defend himself. Quitlong
described the assault made by Appellant Ortega as follows:[26]
ATTY. ALTUNA:
Q Will you please tell me the place and date wherein you have a drinking spree with Andrew
Masangkay and where you witnessed a stabbing incident?
A It was on October 15, 1992, sir, at about 5:30 in the afternoon we were drinking in the house of Mr.
Benjamin Ortega, Sr., because the house of Benjamin Ortega Sr. and the house of his son
Benjamin Ortega, Jr. are near each other.
xxx xxx xxx
Q Mr. Witness, who were the companions of said persons, Benjamin Ortega, Jr., Manuel Garcia, you
(sic) in drinking in said place?
A The other companions in the drinking session were Ariel Caranto y Ducay, Roberto San Andres and
Romeo Ortega.
Q What about this victim, Andrew Masangkay, where was he at that time?
A Also the victim, Andrew Masangkay, he was also there.
Q You said that the two accused, Manuel Garcia and Benjamin Ortega, Jr. arrived drunk and joined
the group?
A Yes, sir.
Q What happened next?
A While we were there together and we were drinking ... (interrupted by Atty. Altuna)
Q Who is that we?
A Referring to Benjamin Ortega, Jr., Manuel Garcia, Ariel Caranto, Romeo Ortega, Roberto San
Andres, myself and Andrew Masangkay. Andrew Masangkay answer to a call of nature and went
to the back portion of the house, and Benjamin Ortega, Jr. followed him where he was.
Q What happened next?
A And afterwards we heard a shout and the shout said Huwag, tulungan nyo ako.
Q From whom did you hear this utterance?
A The shout came from Andrew Masangkay.
Q After Benjamin Ortega, Jr. followed Andrew Masangkay to answer a call of nature and after you
heard huwag, tulungan nyo ako coming from the mouth of the late Andrew Masangkay, what
happened next?
A Ariel Caranto and I ran towards the back portion of the house.
Q And what did you see?
A And I saw that Benjamin Ortega, Jr. was on top of Andrew Masangkay and he was stabbing Andrew
Masangkay.
Q Will you please demonstrate to the Honorable Court how the stabbing was done telling us the
particular position of the late Andrew Masangkay and how Benjamin Ortega, Jr proceeded with
the stabbing against the late victim, Andrew Masangkay?
INTERPRETER:
(At this juncture, the witness demonstrating.)
Andrew Masangkay was lying down on a canal with his face up, then Benjamin Ortega, Jr. was
nakakabayo and with his right hand with closed fist holding the weapon, he was thrusting this
weapon on the body of the victim, he was making downward and upward motion thrust.
ATTY. ALTUNA: (To the witness)
Q How many times did Benjamin Ortega, Jr. stabbed Andrew Masangkay?
A I cannot count the number of times.
It should be noted that Victim Masangkay was a six-footer, whereas Appellant Ortega, Jr. was only five
feet and five inches tall.[27] There was no testimony as to how the attack was initiated. The accused and the
victim were already grappling when Quitlong arrived. Nothing in the foregoing testimony and circumstances
can be interpreted as abuse of superior strength. Hence, Ortega is liable only for homicide, not murder.

Second Issue: Liability of Appellant Manuel Garcia

Appellants argue that the finding of conspiracy by the trial court is based on mere assumption and
conjecture x x x.[28] Allegedly, the medico-legal finding that the large airway was filled with muddy particles
indicating that the victim was alive when the victim inhaled the muddy particles did not necessarily mean that
such muddy particles entered the body of the victim while he was still alive. The Sinumpaang Salaysay of
Quitlong stated, Nilubayan lang nang saksak nang mapatay na si Andrew ni Benjamin Ortega, Jr. Thus, the
prosecution evidence shows Masangkay was already dead when he was lifted and dumped into the
well. Hence, Garcia could be held liable only as an accessory.[29]
We do not agree with the above contention. Article 4, par. 1, of the Revised Penal Code states that
criminal liability shall be incurred by any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be
different from that which he intended. The essential requisites for the application of this provision are that (a)
the intended act is felonious; (b) the resulting act is likewise a felony; and (c) the unintended albeit graver
wrong was primarily caused by the actors wrongful acts. In assisting Appellant Ortega, Jr. carry the body of
Masangkay to the well, Appellant Garcia was committing a felony. The offense was that of concealing the body
of the crime to prevent its discovery, i.e. that of being an accessory in the crime of homicide.[30] Although
Appellant Garcia may have been unaware that the victim was still alive when he assisted Ortega in throwing
the body into the well, he is still liable for the direct and natural consequence of his felonious act, even if the
resulting offense is worse than that intended.
True, Appellant Garcia merely assisted in concealing the body of the victim. But the autopsy conducted by
the NBI medico-legal officer showed that the victim at that time was still alive, and that he died subsequently of
drowning.[31] That drowning was the immediate cause of death was medically demonstrated by the muddy
particles found in the victims airway, lungs and stomach.[32] This is evident from the expert testimony given by
the medico-legal officer, quoted below:[33]
ATTY. ALTUNA:
Q Will you please explain this in simple language the last portion of Exhibit N, beginning with tracheo-
bronchial tree, that is sentence immediately after paragraph 10, 2.5 cms. Will you please explain
this?
A The trancheo-bronchial tree is filled with muddy particles.
Q I ask you a question on this. Could the victim have possibly get this particular material?
A No, sir.
Q What do you mean by no?
A A person should be alive so that the muddy particles could be inhaled.
Q So, in short, you are telling or saying to us that if there is no inhaling or the taking or receiving of
muddy particles at that time, the person is still alive?
A Yes, sir.
Q Second point?
A The heart is pale with some multiple petechial hemorrhages at the anterior surface.
Q And this may [be] due to stab wounds or asphyxia?
A These are the effects or due to asphyxia or decreased amount of blood going to the heart.
Q This asphyxia are you referring to is the drowning?
A Yes, sir.
Q Next point is the lungs?
A The lungs is also filled with multiple petechial hemorrhages.
Q What could have caused this injury of the lungs?
A This is due to asphyxia or the loss of blood.
Q Are you saying that the lungs have been filled with water or muddy particles?
A Yes, sir.
Q And, precisely, you are now testifying that due to stab wounds or asphyxia, the lungs have been
damaged per your Report?
A Yes, sir.
Q Continuing this brain and other visceral organs, pale. What is this?
A The paleness of the brain and other visceral organs is due to loss of blood.
Q And, of course, loss of blood could be attributed to the stab wound which is number 13?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the last one, under the particular point hemothorax?
A It indicates at the right side. There are around 1,400 cc of blood that accumulate at the thoraxic
cavity and this was admixed with granular materials?
Q And what cause the admixing with granular materials on said particular portion of the body?
A Could be muddy particles.
Q Due to the taking of maddy (sic) materials as affected by asphyxia? Am I correct?
A Its due to stab wounds those muddy particles which set-in thru the stab wounds.
Q So, because of the opening of the stab wounds, the muddy particles now came in, in that particular
portion of the body and caused admixing of granular materials?
A Yes, sir.
Q Continuing with your report, particularly, the last two portions, will you please explain the same?
A The hemoperitoneum there are 900 cc of blood that accumulated inside the abdomen.
Q And what could have cause the same?
A [T]he stab wound of the abdomen.
Q The last one, stomach 1/2 filled with muddy particles. Please explain the same?
A The victim could have taken these when he was submerged in water.
Q What is the take in?
A Muddy particles.
Q And he was still alive at that time?
A Yes, sir. (Underscoring supplied)
A Filipino authority on forensic medicine opines that any of the following medical findings may show that
drowning is the cause of death:[34]
1. The presence of materials or foreign bodies in the hands of the victim. The clenching of the hands is a
manifestation of cadaveric spasm in the effort of the victim to save himself from drowning.
2. Increase in volume (emphysema aquosum) and edema of the lungs (edema aquosum).
3. Presence of water and fluid in the stomach contents corresponding to the medium where the body was
recovered.
4. Presence of froth, foam or foreign bodies in the air passage found in the medium where the victim was
found.
5. Presence of water in the middle ear.
The third and fourth findings were present in the case of Victim Masangkay. It was proven that his airpassage,
or specifically his tracheo-bronchial tree, was filled with muddy particles which were residues at the bottom of
the well.Even his stomach was half-filled with such muddy particles. The unrebutted testimony of the medico-
legal officer that all these muddy particles were ingested when the victim was still alive proved that the victim
died of drowning inside the well.
The drowning was the direct, natural and logical consequence of the felony that Appellant Garcia had
intended to commit; it exemplifies praeter intentionem covered by Article 4, par. 1, of the Revised Penal
Code. Under this paragraph, a person may be convicted of homicide although he had no original intent to
kill.[35]
In spite of the evidence showing that Appellant Garcia could be held liable as principal in the crime of
homicide, there are, however, two legal obstacles barring his conviction, even as an accessory as prayed for
by appellants counsel himself.
First. The Information accused Appellant Garcia (and Appellant Ortega) of attack[ing], assault[ing], and
stab[bing] repeatedly with a pointed weapon on the different parts of the body one ANDRE MAR MASANGKAY
y ABLOLAThe prosecutions evidence itself shows that Garcia had nothing to do with the stabbing which was
solely perpetrated by Appellant Ortega. His responsibility relates only to the attempted concealment of the
crime and the resulting drowning of Victim Masangkay. The hornbook doctrine in our jurisdiction is that an
accused cannot be convicted of an offense, unless it is clearly charged in the complaint or
information. Constitutionally, he has a right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against
him. To convict him of an offense other than that charged in the complaint or information would be a violation
of this constitutional right.[36] Section 14, par. 2, of the 1987 Constitution explicitly guarantees the following:
(2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved, and shall
enjoy the right to be heard by himself and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to have
compulsory process to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf. However,
after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly
notified and his failure to appear is unjustifiable. (Underscoring supplied)
In People vs. Pailano,[37] this Court ruled that there can be no conviction for rape on a woman deprived of
reason or otherwise unconscious where the information charged the accused of sexual assault by using force
or intimidation, thus:
The criminal complaint in this case alleged the commission of the crime through the first method although the
prosecution sought to establish at the trial that the complainant was a mental retardate. Its purpose in doing so is
not clear. But whatever it was, it has not succeeded.
If the prosecution was seeking to convict the accused-appellant on the ground that he violated Anita while she
was deprived of reason or unconscious, such conviction could not have been possible under the criminal
complaint as worded. This described the offense as having been committed by Antonio Pailano, being then
provided with a scythe, by means of violence and intimidation, (who) did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully
and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the complainant, Anita Ibaez, 15 years of age, against her will. No
mention was made of the second circumstance.
Conviction of the accused-appellant on the finding that he had raped Anita while she was unconscious or
otherwise deprived of reason -- and not through force and intimidation, which was the method alleged -- would
have violated his right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him.[Article IV, Sec. 19,
Constitution of 1973; now Article III, Sec. 14(2)] This right is safeguarded by the Constitution to every accused
so he can prepare an adequate defense against the charge against him. Convicting him of a ground not alleged
while he is concentrating his defense against the ground alleged would plainly be unfair and underhanded. This
right was, of course, available to the herein accused-appellant.
In People vs. Ramirez, [fn: 69 SCRA 144] we held that a person charged with rape could not be found guilty of
qualified seduction, which had not been alleged in the criminal complaint against him. In the case of People vs.
Montes, [fn: 122 SCRA 409] the Court did not permit the conviction for homicide of a person held responsible
for the suicide of the woman he was supposed to have raped, as the crime he was accused of -- and acquitted --
was not homicide but rape. More to the point is Tubb v. People of the Philippines, [fn: 101 Phil. 114] where the
accused was charged with the misappropriation of funds held by him in trust with the obligation to return the
same under Article 315, paragraph 1(b) of the Revised Penal Code, but was convicted of swindling by means of
false pretenses, under paragraph 2(b) of the said Article, which was not alleged in the information. The Court
said such conviction would violate the Bill of Rights.
By parity of reasoning, Appellant Garcia cannot be convicted of homicide through drowning in an
information that charges murder by means of stabbing.
Second. Although the prosecution was able to prove that Appellant Garcia assisted in concealing x x x the
body of the crime, x x x in order to prevent its discovery, he can neither be convicted as an accessory after the
fact defined under Article 19, par. 2, of the Revised Penal Code. The records show that Appellant Garcia is a
brother-in-law of Appellant Ortega,[38] the latters sister, Maritess, being his wife.[39] Such relationship exempts
Appellant Garcia from criminal liability as provided by Article 20 of the Revised Penal Code:
ART. 20. Accessories who are exempt from criminal liability. -- The penalties prescribed for accessories shall
not be imposed upon those who are such with respect to their spouses, ascendants, descendants, legitimate,
natural, and adopted brothers and sisters, or relatives by affinity within the same degrees with the single
exception of accessories falling within the provisions of paragraph 1 of the next preceding article.
On the other hand, the next preceding article provides:
ART. 19. Accessories. Accessories are those who, having knowledge of the commission of the crime, and
without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its commission
in any of the following manners:
1. By profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime.
2. By concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, in order
to prevent its discovery.
3. By harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principal of the crime, provided the
accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or whenever the author of the crime is guilty of
treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt to take the life of the Chief Executive, or is known to
be habitually guilty of some other crime.
Appellant Garcia, being a covered relative by affinity of the principal accused, Benjamin Ortega, Jr., is
legally entitled to the aforequoted exempting provision of the Revised Penal Code. This Court is thus
mandated by law to acquit him.

Penalty and Damages

The award of actual damages should be reduced to P31,790.00 from P35,000.00. The former amount was
proven both by documentary evidence and by the testimony of Melba Lozano, a sister of the victim.[40] Of the
expenses alleged to have been incurred, the Court can give credence only to those that are supported by
receipts and appear to have been genuinely incurred in connection with the death of the victim.[41] However, in
line with current jurisprudence,[42] Appellant Ortega shall also indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the sum
of P50,000.00. Indemnity requires no proof other than the fact of death and appellants responsibility
therefor.[43]
The penalty for homicide is reclusion temporal under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code, which is
imposable in its medium period, absent any aggravating or mitigating circumstance, as in the case of Appellant
Ortega.Because he is entitled to the benefits of the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum term shall be
one degree lower, that is, prision mayor.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the joint appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. Appellant Benjamin Ortega,
Jr. is found GUILTY of homicide and sentenced to ten (10) years of prision mayor medium, as minimum, to
fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal medium, as maximum. Appellant
Ortega, Jr. is also ORDERED to pay the heirs of the victim P50,000.00 as indemnity and P31,790.00 as actual
damages. Appellant Manuel Garcia is ACQUITTED. His immediate release from confinement
is ORDERED unless he is detained for some other valid cause.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa C.J., (Chairman), Davide, Jr., Melo, and Francisco, JJ., concur.

[1]
Original Records, pp. 183-198; rollo, pp. 29-44.
[2]
Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, Branch 171.
[3]
Original Records, p. 1; rollo, p. 8.
[4] Atty. Ricardo Perez of the Public Attorneys Office.
[5] Original Records, p. 25.
[6] After promulgation of judgment, John Doe was identified as Romeo Ortega and the latest trial courts Order in
this case was for the state prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine his
liability. (Original Records, pp. 207-210).
[7]
Original Records, p. 198; rollo, p. 44; Decision, p. 16.
[8] Original Records, p. 205.
[9] Ibid., pp. 185-187.
[10] TSN, June 14, 1993, pp. 12-45.
[11] Ibid., pp. 11-20.
[12] TSN, August 16, 1993, pp. 7-19.
[13] Ibid., pp. 21-22.
[14]
Ibid., pp. 23-25.
[15]
Ibid., pp. 26-35.
[16]
TSN, September 22, 1993, pp. 3-22.
[17]
Original Records, pp. 197-198; rollo, pp. 43-44; Decision, pp. 15-16.
[18] Rollo, p. 63; original text in upper case.
[19] Original Records, pp. 196-197; rollo, pp. 42-43; Decision, pp. 14-15.
[20] People vs. De Guzman, 188 SCRA 405, 410-411, August 7, 1990.
[21] People vs. Gabris, 258 SCRA 663, 671, July 11, 1996 citing the cases of People vs. Vallena, 244 SCRA
685, 691, June 1, 1995; People vs. Jaca, 229 SCRA 332, January 18, 1994; People vs. Tismo, 204
SCRA 535, 552, December 4, 1991; and People vs. Uycoque, 246 SCRA 769, 779, July 31, 1995.
[22] TSN, September 22, 1993, pp. 6-14.
[23] Ibid., pp. 4-6.
[24]
People vs. Casingal, 243 SCRA 37, 46, March 29, 1995.
[25]
People vs. Escoto, 244 SCRA 87, 97-98, May 11, 1995 citing the cases of People vs. Martinez, 96 SCRA
714, March 31, 1980 and People vs. Cabiling, 74 SCRA 285, December 17, 1976.
[26]
TSN, February 12, 1993, pp. 11-15.
[27]
TSN, October 27, 1993, p. 12.
[28]
Rollo, p. 64.
[29]
Ibid., pp. 65-66.
[30] Paragraph no. 2 of Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code provides for accessories manners of participation:
ARTICLE 19. Accessories. -- Accessories are those who, having knowledge of the commission of the crime,
and without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its
commission in any of the following manners:
1. By profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime.
2. By concealing or destroying the body of the crime, or the effects or instruments thereof, in order to prevent
its discovery.
3. By harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principal of the crime, provided the accessory
acts with abuse of his public functions or whenever the author of the crime is guilty of treason, parricide,
murder or attempt to take the life of the Chief Executive, or is known to be habitually guilty of some other crime.
Under this Article, it is required that: (1) the accessory should have knowledge of the crime, (2) he did not take
part in its commission as principal or accomplice, and (3) subsequent to its commission, he took part in
any of the three ways enumerated above.
[31] The exact words used by the medico-legal officer were: The multiple stab wounds sustained by the victim
and asphyxia by submersion in water. (TSN, April 16, 1993, p. 8).
[32] TSN, April 16, 1993, pp. 20-24.
[33] TSN, April 16, 1993, pp. 20-24.
[34] Pedro Solis, Legal Medicine, 1987, p. 448.
[35] Aquino, The Revised Penal Code, 1987 edition, Volume 1, p. 70 citing Pico vs. U.S., 57L.Ed.812, 40 Phil.
117, 15 Phil. 549.
[36] People vs. Guevarra, 179 SCRA 740, 751, December 4, 1989 citing the cases of Matilde, Jr. vs. Jabson, 68
SCRA 456, 461, December 29, 1975 and U.S. vs. Ocampo, 23 Phil. 396.
[37] 169 SCRA 649, 653-654, January 31, 1989.
[38] TSN, June 14, 1993, p. 39; TSN, August 16, 1993, p. 9.
[39] TSN, October 13, 1993, p. 16.
[40] The following receipts were offered as evidence: (1) receipt of the Diocese of Lucena for funeral and
electricity charges (350.00); (2) receipt for transportation expense for the transfer of remains of Andre
Mar Masangkay (3,500.00); (3) receipt of Funeral Helen for home and coach services (5,000.00); (4)
receipt of the Diocese of San Pedro Bautista Parish for mortuary rental (350.00); (5) receipt of the Most
Holy Redeemer Parish for use of mortuary (2,590.00); and (6) receipt of La Funeraria Paz for their
services (20,000.00).
[41]
People vs. Cayabyab, G.R. No. 123073, June 19, 1997 citing the cases of People vs. Rosario, 246 SCRA
658, 671, July 18, 1995 and People vs. Degoma, 209 SCRA 266, 274, May 22, 1992.
[42] People vs. Quinao, et al., G.R. No. 108454, March 13, 1997; People vs. Azugue, G.R. No. 110098,
February 26, 1997; People vs. Ombrog, G.R. No. 104666, February 12, 1997.
[43] People vs. Cayabyab, supra.
 
EN BANC

[G.R. No. 130487. June 19, 2000]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ROBERTO ESTRADA, accused-appellant.

DECISION
PUNO, J.:

This is an automatic review of the death penalty imposed on accused-appellant by the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 44, Dagupan City in Criminal Case No. 94-00860-D.[1] We nullify the proceedings in the court a
quo and remand the case for proper disposition.
In an Information dated December 29, 1994, accused-appellant Roberto Estrada y Lopez was charged
with the crime of murder for the killing of one Rogelio P. Mararac, a security guard. The Information reads:

That on or about the 27th day of December 1994 in the City of Dagupan, Philippines and within the jurisdiction
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, ROBERTO ESTRADA Y LOPEZ, being then armed with a
butchers knife, with intent to kill one ROGELIO P. MARARAC with treachery and committed in a holy place of
worship, did then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and criminally, attack, assault and use personal violence upon
the latter by stabbing him, hitting him on vital parts of his body with the said weapon, thereby causing his death
shortly thereafter due to Cardiorespiratory Arrest, Massive Intrathoracic Hemorrhage, Stab Wound as per
Autopsy Report and Certificate of Death both issued by Dr. Tomas G. Cornel, Assistant City Health Officer, this
City, to the damage and prejudice of the legal heirs of said deceased ROGELIO P. MARARAC in the amount
of not less than FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (P50,000.00), Philippine currency, and other consequential
damages.

Contrary to Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.

Dagupan City, Philippines, December 29, 1994.[2]


At the arraignment on January 6, 1995, accused-appellants counsel, the Public Attorneys Office, filed an
Urgent Motion to Suspend Arraignment and to Commit Accused to Psychiatric Ward at Baguio General
Hospital. It was alleged that accused-appellant could not properly and intelligently enter a plea because he was
suffering from a mental defect; that before the commission of the crime, he was confined at the psychiatric
ward of the Baguio General Hospital in Baguio City. He prayed for the suspension of his arraignment and the
issuance of an order confining him at the said hospital.[3]
The motion was opposed by the City Prosecutor. The trial court, motu proprio, propounded several questions
on accused-appellant. Finding that the questions were understood and answered by him intelligently, the court
denied the motion that same day.[4]
The arraignment proceeded and a plea of not guilty was entered by the court on accused-appellants behalf.[5]
The prosecution presented four (4) witnesses, namely: (1) Dr. Tomas Cornel, the Assistant Health Officer
of Dagupan City who issued the death certificate and conducted the autopsy on the victim; (2) Crisanto
Santillan, an eyewitness to the incident; (3) SPO1 Conrado Francisco, one of the policemen who apprehended
accused-appellant; and (4) Rosalinda Sobremonte, the victims sister. The prosecution established the
following facts:
In the morning of December 27, 1994, at the St. Johns Cathedral, Dagupan City, the sacrament of confirmation
was being performed by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Dagupan City on the children of Dagupan. The
cathedral was filled with more than a thousand people. At 11:00 A.M., nearing the close of the rites, the Bishop
went down the altar to give his final blessing to the children in the front rows. While the Bishop was giving his
blessing, a man from the crowd went up and walked towards the center of the altar. He stopped beside the
Bishops chair, turned around and, in full view of the Catholic faithful, sat on the Bishops chair. The man was
accused-appellant. Crisanto Santillan, who was assisting the Bishop at the rites, saw accused-
appellant. Santillan approached accused-appellant and requested him to vacate the Bishops chair. Gripping
the chairs armrest, accused-appellant replied in Pangasinese: No matter what will happen, I will not move out!
Hearing this, Santillan moved away.[6]
Some of the churchgoers summoned Rogelio Mararac, the security guard at the cathedral. Mararac went near
accused-appellant and told him to vacate the Bishops chair. Accused-appellant stared intensely at the
guard. Mararac grabbed his nightstick and used it to tap accused-appellants hand on the armrest. Appellant
did not budge. Again, Mararac tapped the latters hand. Still no reaction. Mararac was about to strike again
when suddenly accused-appellant drew a knife from his back, lunged at Mararac and stabbed him, hitting him
below his left throat. Mararac fell. Accused-appellant went over the victim and tried to stab him again but
Mararac parried his thrust. Accused-appellant looked up and around him. He got up, went to the microphone
and shouted: Anggapuy nayan dia! (No one can beat me here!). He returned to the Bishops chair and sat on it
again. Mararac, wounded and bleeding, slowly dragged himself down the altar.[7]
Meanwhile, SPO1 Conrado Francisco, who was directing traffic outside, received a report of a commotion
inside the cathedral. Rushing to the cathedral, SPO1 Francisco saw a man, accused-appellant, with red stains
on his shirt and a knife in one hand sitting on a chair at the center of the altar. He ran to accused-appellant and
advised him to drop the knife. Accused-appellant obeyed. He dropped the knife and raised his
hands. Thereupon, Chief Inspector Wendy Rosario, Deputy Police Chief, Dagupan City, who was attending the
confirmation rites at the Cathedral, went near accused-appellant to pick up the knife. Suddenly, accused-
appellant embraced Chief Inspector Rosario and the two wrestled with each other. Chief Inspector Rosario was
able to subdue accused-appellant. The police came and when they frisked appellant, they found a leather
scabbard tucked around his waist.[8] He was brought to the police station and placed in jail.
In the meantime, Mararac, the security guard, was brought to the hospital where he expired a few minutes
upon arrival. He died of cardio-respiratory arrest, massive, intra-thoracic hemorrhage, stab wound.[9] He was
found to have sustained two (2) stab wounds: one just below the left throat and the other on the left arm. The
autopsy reported the following findings:

EXTERNAL FINDINGS

1. Stab wound, along the parasternal line, level of the 2nd intercostal space, left, 1 x 1
penetrating. The edge of one side of the wound is sharp and pointed.
2. Stab wound, antero-lateral aspect, distal 3rd, arm, left, x x . The edge of one side of the wound is
sharp and pointed.

INTERNAL FINDINGS

Massive intrathoracic, left, hemorrhage with perforation of the upper and lower lobe of the left lung. The left
pulmonary blood vessel was severely cut.[10]
After the prosecution rested its case, accused-appellant, with leave of court, filed a Demurrer to Evidence. He
claimed that the prosecution failed to prove the crime of murder because there was no evidence of the
qualifying circumstance of treachery; that there was unlawful aggression by the victim when he tapped
accused-appellants hand with his nightstick; and that accused-appellant did not have sufficient ability to
calculate his defensive acts because he was of unsound mind.[11]
The Demurrer to Evidence was opposed by the public prosecutor. He alleged that the accused pretended to be
weak, tame and of unsound mind; that after he made the first stab, he furiously continued stabbing and
slashing the victim to finish him off undeterred by the fact that he was in a holy place where a religious
ceremony was being conducted; and the plea of unsound mind had already been ruled upon by the trial court
in its order of January 6, 1995.[12]
On February 21, 1995, a letter was sent by Inspector Wilfredo F. Valdez, Jail Warden of Dagupan City to the
trial court. Inspector Valdez requested the court to allow accused-appellant, who was confined at the city jail, to
be treated at the Baguio General Hospital to determine whether he should remain in jail or be transferred to
some other institution. The other prisoners were allegedly not comfortable with appellant because he had been
exhibiting unusual behavior. He tried to climb up the jail roof so he could escape and see his family.[13]
As ordered by the trial court, the public prosecutor filed a Comment to the jail wardens letter. He reiterated that
the mental condition of accused-appellant to stand trial had already been determined; unless a competent
government agency certifies otherwise, the trial should proceed; and the city jail warden was not the proper
person to determine whether accused-appellant was mentally ill or not.[14]
In an order dated August 21, 1995, the trial court denied the Demurrer to Evidence.[15] Accused-appellant
moved for reconsideration.
While the motion for reconsideration was pending, on February 26, 1996, counsel for accused-appellant filed a
Motion to Confine Accused for Physical, Mental and Psychiatric Examination. Appellants counsel informed the
court that accused-appellant had been exhibiting abnormal behavior for the past weeks; he would shout at the
top of his voice and cause panic among the jail inmates and personnel; that appellant had not been eating and
sleeping; that his co-inmates had been complaining of not getting enough sleep for fear of being attacked by
him while asleep; that once, while they were sleeping, appellant took out all his personal effects and waste
matter and burned them inside the cell which again caused panic among the inmates. Appellants counsel
prayed that his client be confined at the National Center for Mental Health in Manila or at the Baguio General
Hospital.[16] Attached to the motion were two (2) letters. One, dated February 19, 1996, was from Inspector
Pedrito Llopis, Jail Warden, Dagupan City, addressed to the trial court judge informing him of appellants
irrational behavior and seeking the issuance of a court order for the immediate psychiatric and mental
examination of accused-appellant.[17] The second letter, dated February 21, 1996, was addressed to Inspector
Llopis from the Bukang Liwayway Association, an association of inmates in the Dagupan City Jail. The letter,
signed by the president, secretary and adviser of said association, informed the jail warden of appellants
unusual behavior and requested that immediate action be taken against him to avoid future violent incidents in
the jail.[18]
On September 18, 1996, the trial court denied reconsideration of the order denying the Demurrer to Evidence.
The court ordered accused-appellant to present his evidence on October 15, 1996.[19]
Accused-appellant did not take the witness stand. Instead, his counsel presented the testimony of Dr. Maria
Soledad Gawidan,[20] a resident physician in the Department of Psychiatry at the Baguio General Hospital, and
accused-appellants medical and clinical records at the said hospital.[21] Dr. Gawidan testified that appellant had
been confined at the BGH from February 18, 1993 to February 22, 1993 and that he suffered from
Schizophrenic Psychosis, Paranoid Typeschizophrenia, paranoid, chronic, paranoid type;[22] and after four (4)
days of confinement, he was discharged in improved physical and mental condition.[23] The medical and clinical
records consisted of the following: (1) letter of Dr. Alfredo Sy, Municipal Health Officer, Calasiao, Pangasinan
to Dr. Jesus del Prado, Director, BGH referring accused-appellant for admission and treatment after a relapse
of his violent behavior;[24] (2) the clinical cover sheet of appellant at the BGH;[25] (3) the consent slip of
appellants wife voluntarily entrusting appellant to the BGH;[26] (4) the Patients Record;[27] (5) the Consent for
Discharge signed by appellants wife;[28] (6) the Summary and Discharges of appellant;[29] (7) appellants clinical
case history;[30] (8) the admitting notes;[31] (9) Physicians Order Form;[32] (10) the Treatment Form/ medication
sheet;[33] and (11) Nurses Notes.[34]
The trial court rendered a decision on June 23, 1997. It upheld the prosecution evidence and found
accused-appellant guilty of the crime charged and thereby sentenced him to death, viz:

WHEREFORE, the court finds accused Roberto Estrada y Lopez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
of Murder and in view of the presence of the aggravating circumstance of cruelty which is not offset by any
mitigating circumstance, the accused is sentenced to suffer the Death Penalty and to indemnify the heirs of the
deceased in the amount of P50,000.00.

The accused is ordered to pay the sum of P18,870.00 representing actual expenses and P100,000.00 as
moral damages.

SO ORDERED.[35]
In this appeal, accused-appellant assigns the following errors:
I

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF THE CRIME CHARGED,
DESPITE CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE ON RECORD, SUPPORTING HIS PLEA OF
INSANITY.
II
THE LOWER COURT LIKEWISE ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE STABBING TO DEATH OF ROGELIO
MARARAC WAS ATTENDED WITH TREACHERY AND AGGRAVATED BY CRUELTY, GRANTING
ARGUENDO THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANTS PLEA OF INSANITY CANNOT BE CONSIDERED AN
EXEMPTING CIRCUMSTANCE.[36]
The basic principle in our criminal law is that a person is criminally liable for a felony committed by
him.[37] Under the classical theory on which our penal code is mainly based, the basis of criminal liability is
human free will.[38] Man is essentially a moral creature with an absolutely free will to choose between good and
evil.[39] When he commits a felonious or criminal act (delito doloso), the act is presumed to have been done
voluntarily,[40] i.e., with freedom, intelligence and intent.[41] Man, therefore, should be adjudged or held
accountable for wrongful acts so long as free will appears unimpaired.[42]
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the law presumes that every person is of sound mind[43] and that all
acts are voluntary.[44] The moral and legal presumption under our law is that freedom and intelligence
constitute the normal condition of a person.[45] This presumption, however, may be overthrown by other factors;
and one of these is insanity which exempts the actor from criminal liability.[46]
The Revised Penal Code in Article 12 (1) provides:

ART. 12. Circumstances which exempt from criminal liability.The following are exempt from criminal liability:

1. An imbecile or an insane person, unless the latter has acted during a lucid interval.

When the imbecile or an insane person has committed an act which the law defines as a felony (delito),
the court shall order his confinement in one of the hospitals or asylums established for persons thus
afflicted, which he shall not be permitted to leave without first obtaining the permission of the same court.

An insane person is exempt from criminal liability unless he has acted during a lucid interval. If the court
therefore finds the accused insane when the alleged crime was committed, he shall be acquitted but the court
shall order his confinement in a hospital or asylum for treatment until he may be released without danger. An
acquittal of the accused does not result in his outright release, but rather in a verdict which is followed by
commitment of the accused to a mental institution.[47]
In the eyes of the law, insanity exists when there is a complete deprivation of intelligence in committing the act.
Mere abnormality of the mental faculties will not exclude imputability.[48] The accused must be so insane as to
be incapable of entertaining a criminal intent.[49] He must be deprived of reason and act without the least
discernment because there is a complete absence of the power to discern or a total deprivation of freedom of
the will.[50]
Since the presumption is always in favor of sanity, he who invokes insanity as an exempting circumstance
must prove it by clear and positive evidence.[51] And the evidence on this point must refer to the time preceding
the act under prosecution or to the very moment of its execution.[52]
To ascertain a persons mental condition at the time of the act, it is permissible to receive evidence of the
condition of his mind within a reasonable period both before and after that time.[53] Direct testimony is not
required.[54] Neither are specific acts of derangement essential to establish insanity as a
defense.[55] Circumstantial evidence, if clear and convincing, suffices; for the unfathomable mind can only be
known by overt acts. A persons thoughts, motives, and emotions may be evaluated only by outward acts to
determine whether these conform to the practice of people of sound mind.[56]
In the case at bar, there is no direct proof that accused-appellant was afflicted with insanity at the time he killed
Mararac. The absence of direct proof, nevertheless, does not entirely discount the probability that appellant
was not of sound mind at that time. From the affidavit of Crisanto Santillan[57] attached to the Information, there
are certain circumstances that should have placed the trial court on notice that appellant may not have been in
full possession of his mental faculties when he attacked Mararac. It was highly unusual for a sane person to go
up to the altar and sit on the Bishops chair while the Bishop was administering the Holy Sacrament of
Confirmation to children in a jampacked cathedral. It goes against normal and ordinary behavior for appellant,
without sufficient provocation from the security guard, to stab the latter at the altar, during sacramental rites
and in front of all the Catholic faithful to witness. Appellant did not flee, or at least attempt to flee after the
stabbing. He nonchalantly approached the microphone and, over the public address system, uttered words to
the faithful which no rational person would have made. He then returned to the Bishops chair and sat there as
if nothing happened.
Accused-appellants history of mental illness was brought to the courts attention on the day of the
arraignment. Counsel for accused-appellant moved for suspension of the arraignment on the ground that his
client could not properly and intelligently enter a plea due to his mental condition. The Motion for Suspension is
authorized under Section 12, Rule 116 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure which provides:

Sec. 12. Suspension of arraignment.The arraignment shall be suspended, if at the time thereof:

(a) The accused appears to be suffering from an unsound mental condition which effectively renders him
unable to fully understand the charge against him and to plead intelligently thereto. In such case, the court
shall order his mental examination and, if necessary, his confinement for such purpose.

(b) x x x.

The arraignment of an accused shall be suspended if at the time thereof he appears to be suffering from an
unsound mental condition of such nature as to render him unable to fully understand the charge against him
and to plead intelligently thereto. Under these circumstances, the court must suspend the proceedings and
order the mental examination of the accused, and if confinement be necessary for examination, order such
confinement and examination. If the accused is not in full possession of his mental faculties at the time he is
informed at the arraignment of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, the process is itself a felo
de se, for he can neither comprehend the full import of the charge nor can he give an intelligent plea thereto.[58]
The question of suspending the arraignment lies within the discretion of the trial court.[59]And the test to
determine whether the proceedings will be suspended depends on the question of whether the accused, even
with the assistance of counsel, would have a fair trial. This rule was laid down as early as 1917, thus:
In passing on the question of the propriety of suspending the proceedings against an accused person on the
ground of present insanity, the judges should bear in mind that not every aberration of the mind or exhibition of
mental deficiency is sufficient to justify such suspension. The test is to be found in the question whether
the accused would have a fair trial, with the assistance which the law secures or gives; and it is obvious
that under a system of procedure like ours where every accused person has legal counsel, it is not necessary
to be so particular as it used to be in England where the accused had no advocate but himself.[60] In the
American jurisdiction, the issue of the accuseds present insanity or insanity at the time of the court
proceedings is separate and distinct from his criminal responsibility at the time of commission of the act. The
defense of insanity in a criminal trial concerns the defendants mental condition at the time of the crimes
commission. Present insanity is commonly referred to as competency to stand trial[61] and relates to the
appropriateness of conducting the criminal proceeding in light of the defendants present inability to participate
meaningfully and effectively.[62] In competency cases, the accused may have been sane or insane during the
commission of the offense which relates to a determination of his guilt. However, if he is found incompetent to
stand trial, the trial is simply postponed until such time as he may be found competent. Incompetency to stand
trial is not a defense; it merely postpones the trial.[63]
In determining a defendants competency to stand trial, the test is whether he has the capacity to comprehend
his position, understand the nature and object of the proceedings against him, to conduct his defense in a
rational manner, and to cooperate, communicate with, and assist his counsel to the end that any available
defense may be interposed.[64] This test is prescribed by state law but it exists generally as a statutory
recognition of the rule at common law.[65]Thus:
[I]t is not enough for the x x x judge to find that the defendant [is] oriented to time and place, and [has] some
recollection of events, but that the test must be whether he has sufficient present ability to consult with his
lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understandingand whether he has a rational as well as factual
understanding of the proceedings against him.[66]
There are two distinct matters to be determined under this test: (1) whether the defendant is sufficiently
coherent to provide his counsel with information necessary or relevant to constructing a defense; and (2)
whether he is able to comprehend the significance of the trial and his relation to it.[67] The first requisite is the
relation between the defendant and his counsel such that the defendant must be able to confer coherently with
his counsel. The second is the relation of the defendant vis-a-vis the court proceedings, i.e., that he must have
a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings.[68]
The rule barring trial or sentence of an insane person is for the protection of the accused, rather than of the
public.[69] It has been held that it is inhuman to require an accused disabled by act of God to make a just
defense for his life or liberty.[70] To put a legally incompetent person on trial or to convict and sentence him is a
violation of the constitutional rights to a fair trial[71] and due process of law;[72] and this has several reasons
underlying it.[73] For one, the accuracy of the proceedings may not be assured, as an incompetent defendant
who cannot comprehend the proceedings may not appreciate what information is relevant to the proof of his
innocence. Moreover, he is not in a position to exercise many of the rights afforded a defendant in a criminal
case, e.g., the right to effectively consult with counsel, the right to testify in his own behalf, and the right to
confront opposing witnesses, which rights are safeguards for the accuracy of the trial result. Second, the
fairness of the proceedings may be questioned, as there are certain basic decisions in the course of a criminal
proceeding which a defendant is expected to make for himself, and one of these is his plea. Third, the dignity
of the proceedings may be disrupted, for an incompetent defendant is likely to conduct himself in the courtroom
in a manner which may destroy the decorum of the court. Even if the defendant remains passive, his lack of
comprehension fundamentally impairs the functioning of the trial process. A criminal proceeding is essentially
an adversarial proceeding. If the defendant is not a conscious and intelligent participant, the adjudication loses
its character as a reasoned interaction between an individual and his community and becomes an invective
against an insensible object. Fourth, it is important that the defendant knows why he is being punished, a
comprehension which is greatly dependent upon his understanding of what occurs at trial. An incompetent
defendant may not realize the moral reprehensibility of his conduct. The societal goal of institutionalized
retribution may be frustrated when the force of the state is brought to bear against one who cannot
comprehend its significance.[74]
The determination of whether a sanity investigation or hearing should be ordered rests generally in the
discretion of the trial court.[75] Mere allegation of insanity is insufficient. There must be evidence or
circumstances that raise a reasonable doubt[76] or a bona fide doubt[77] as to defendants competence to stand
trial. Among the factors a judge may consider is evidence of the defendants irrational behavior, history of
mental illness or behavioral abnormalities, previous confinement for mental disturbance, demeanor of the
defendant, and psychiatric or even lay testimony bearing on the issue of competency in a particular case.[78]
In the case at bar, when accused-appellant moved for suspension of the arraignment on the ground of
accuseds mental condition, the trial court denied the motion after finding that the questions propounded on
appellant were intelligently answered by him. The court declared::
xxx

It should be noted that when this case was called, the Presiding Judge asked questions on the accused, and
he (accused) answered intelligently. As a matter of fact, when asked where he was born, he answered, in
Tayug.

The accused could answer intelligently. He could understand the questions asked of him.

WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the Urgent Motion to Suspend Arraignment and to Commit Accused to
Psychiatric Ward at Baguio General Hospital, is hereby DENIED.

SO ORDERED.[79]
The fact that accused-appellant was able to answer the questions asked by the trial court is not conclusive
evidence that he was competent enough to stand trial and assist in his defense. Section 12, Rule 116 speaks
of an unsound mental condition that effectively renders [the accused] unable to fully understand the charge
against him and to plead intelligently thereto. It is not clear whether accused-appellant was of such sound mind
as to fully understand the charge against him. It is also not certain whether his plea was made intelligently. The
plea of not guilty was not made by accused-appellant but by the trial court because of his refusal to plead.[80]
The trial court took it solely upon itself to determine the sanity of accused-appellant. The trial judge is not a
psychiatrist or psychologist or some other expert equipped with the specialized knowledge of determining the
state of a persons mental health. To determine the accused-appellants competency to stand trial, the court, in
the instant case, should have at least ordered the examination of accused-appellant, especially in the light of
the latters history of mental illness.
If the medical history was not enough to create a reasonable doubt in the judges mind of accused-appellants
competency to stand trial, subsequent events should have done so. One month after the prosecution rested its
case, the Jail Warden of Dagupan City wrote the trial judge informing him of accused-appellants unusual
behavior and requesting that he be examined at the hospital to determine whether he should remain in jail or
be placed in some other institution. The trial judge ignored this letter. One year later, accused-appellants
counsel filed a Motion to Confine Accused for Physical, Mental and Psychiatric Examination. Attached to this
motion was a second letter by the new Jail Warden of Dagupan City accompanied by a letter-complaint of the
members of the Bukang Liwayway Association of the city jail. Despite the two (2) attached letters,[81] the judge
ignored the Motion to Confine Accused for Physical, Mental and Psychiatric Examination. The records are
barren of any order disposing of the said motion. The trial court instead ordered accused-appellant to present
his evidence.[82]
Dr. Gawidan testified that the illness of accused-appellant, i.e., schizophrenia, paranoid type, is a lifetime
illness and that this requires maintenance medication to avoid relapses.[83] After accused-appellant was
discharged on February 22, 1993, he never returned to the hospital, not even for a check-up.[84]
Accused-appellant did not take the witness stand. His counsel manifested that accused-appellant was waiving
the right to testify in his own behalf because he was suffering from mental illness.[85] This manifestation was
made in open court more than two (2) years after the crime, and still, the claim of mental illness was ignored by
the trial court. And despite all the overwhelming indications of accused-appellants state of mind, the judge
persisted in his personal assessment and never even considered subjecting accused-appellant to a medical
examination. To top it all, the judge found appellant guilty and sentenced him to death!
Section 12, Rule 116 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure speaks of a mental examination.[86] The human
mind is an entity, and understanding it is not purely an intellectual process but depends to a large degree upon
emotional and psychological appreciation.[87] Thus, an intelligent determination of an accuseds capacity for
rational understanding ought to rest on a deeper and more comprehensive diagnosis of his mental condition
than laymen can make through observation of his overt behavior. Once a medical or psychiatric diagnosis is
made, then can the legal question of incompetency be determined by the trial court. By this time, the accuseds
abilities may be measured against the specific demands a trial will make upon him.[88]
If the mental examination on accused-appellant had been promptly and properly made, it may have served a
dual purpose[89] by determining both his competency to stand trial and his sanity at the time of the offense. In
some Philippine cases, the medical and clinical findings of insanity made immediately after the commission of
the crime served as one of the bases for the acquittal of the accused.[90] The crime in the instant case was
committed way back in December 1994, almost six (6) years ago. At this late hour, a medical finding alone
may make it impossible for us to evaluate appellants mental condition at the time of the crimes commission for
him to avail of the exempting circumstance of insanity.[91] Nonetheless, under the present circumstances,
accused-appellants competence to stand trial must be properly ascertained to enable him to participate in his
trial meaningfully.
By depriving appellant of a mental examination, the trial court effectively deprived appellant of a fair trial. The
trial courts negligence was a violation of the basic requirements of due process; and for this reason, the
proceedings before the said court must be nullified. In People v. Serafica,[92] we ordered that the joint decision
of the trial court be vacated and the cases remanded to the court a quo for proper proceeding. The accused,
who was charged with two (2) counts of murder and one (1) count of frustrated murder, entered a plea of guilty
to all three charges and was sentenced to death. We found that the accuseds plea was not an unconditional
admission of guilt because he was not in full possession of his mental faculties when he killed the victim; and
thereby ordered that he be subjected to the necessary medical examination to determine his degree of insanity
at the time of commission of the crime.[93]
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 44, Dagupan City in Criminal Case
No. 94-00860-D convicting accused-appellant Roberto Estrada and sentencing him to death is vacated and the
case is remanded to the court a quo for the conduct of a proper mental examination on accused-appellant, a
determination of his competency to stand trial, and for further proceedings.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena,
Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
Vitug, J., on official leave.

[1]
The decision was penned by Judge Crispin C. Laron.
[2]
Records, p. 1.
[3]
Id., pp. 13-14.
[4]
Id., p. 16.
[5]
Id., p. 19.
[6]
TSN of January 19, 1995, pp. 4-5.
[7]
Id., pp. 6-10; Exhibit E, Records, pp. 6-7.
[8]
TSN of January 20, 1995, pp. 3-13; Exhibit G, Records, p. 5.
[9]
Exhibit B, Records, p. 36.
[10]
Exhibit A, Records, p. 35.
[11]
Records, pp. 45-48.
[12]
Id., pp. 51-52.
[13]
Id., p. 49.
[14]
Id., p. 56.
[15]
Id., pp. 62-63.
[16]
Id., pp. 92-93.
[17]
Exhibit 16, Records, pp. 95 and 96.
[18]
Exhibit 15, Records, p. 94.
[19]
Records, p. 75.
[20]
TSN of November 26, 1996, pp. 2-28.
[21]
Exhibits 1 to 14, Records, pp. 50, 107-128.
[22]
Exhibit 1, Records, p. 50.
[23]
TSN of November 26, 1996.
[24]
Exhibit 2, Records, p. 107.
[25]
Exhibit 3, Records, p. 113.
[26]
Exhibit 4, Records, p. 114.
[27]
Exhibit 5, Records, p. 115;
[28]
Exhibit 6, Records, p. 116.
[29]
Exhibits 7 and 14, Records, pp. 117 and 128.
[30]
Exhibit 8, Records, pp. 118-119.
[31]
Exhibit 9, Records, pp. 120-121.
[32]
Exhibit 10, Records, pp. 122-123.
[33]
Exhibit 11, Records, p. 123.
[34]
Exhibits 12 and 13, Records, pp. 124-127.
[35]
Records, p. 204.
[36]
Brief for Accused-Appellant, p. 1, Rollo, p. 36.
[37]
Article 4, Revised Penal Code.
[38]
Reyes, Revised Penal Code, Bk. I, pp. 37-38 [1981 ed.].
[39]
V. Francisco, The Revised Penal Code, Bk. I, p. 4 [1958].
[40]
Please see Guevaras Commentaries on the Revised Penal Code, 5th ed., pp. 5-6 [1957].
[41]
Article 3, Revised Penal Code; see also Reyes, supra, at 39-40; People v. Renegado, 57 SCRA 275, 286 [1974];
United States v. Ah Chong, 15 Phil. 488, 495 [1910].
[42]
Francisco, supra.
[43]
Article 800, Civil Code.
[44]
United States v. Gloria, 3 Phil. 333, 335; also cited in Guevara, 5th ed., p. 6; see also Francisco, supra, at 32.
[45]
People v. Sia Teb Ban, 54 Phil. 52 [1929]; see People v. Renegado, supra.
[46]
People v. Renegado, supra.
[47]
See People v. Austria, 260 SCRA 106, 121 [1996]; People v. Bonoan, 64 Phil. 87, 100 [1937]; United
States v. Guendia, 37 Phil. 345-346 [1917].
[48]
People v. Ambal, 100 SCRA 325, 333 [1980]; People v. Renegado, supra; People v. Cruz, 109 Phil. 288, 292 [1960];
People v. Formigones, 87 Phil. 658, 661 [1950] quoting Guevaras Commentaries on the Revised Penal Code, 4th ed., pp.
42-43 citing the Decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain interpreting Article 8, par. 1 of the old Penal Code of Spain.
[49]
People v. Torres, 3 CAR 9 (2s) 43, cited in Padilla, Criminal Law, Bk. I, pp. 340-341 [1987].
[50]
People v. Renegado, supra, at 286; People v. Puno, 105 SCRA 151, 158-159 [1981]; People v. Formigones, supra, at
661.
[51]
People v. Renegado, supra, at 286; People v. Puno, supra, at 158.
[52]
People v. Austria, 260 SCRA 106, 117 [1996]; People v. Puno, supra, at 158; United States v. Guevara, 27 Phil. 547,
550 [1914].
[53]
[54]
Id.
[55]
People v. Bonoan, supra, at 93-94.
[56]
People v. Bonoan, supra, at 93; People v. Austria, 260 Phil. 106, 117 [1996
[57]
Exhibit E, Records, pp. 6-7.
[58]
[59]
In the landmark case of United States v. Guendia, 37 Phil. 337, 345 [1917], it was declared that:
"x x x [W]hen a judge of first instance is informed or discovers that an accused person is apparently in a present condition
of insanity or imbecility, it is within his discretion to investigate the matter, and if it be found that by reason of any such
affliction the accused could not, with the aid of his counsel, make a proper defense, it is the duty of the court to suspend
the proceedings and commit the accused to a proper place of detention until his faculties are recovered. If, however, such
investigation is considered unnecessary, and the trial proceeds, the court will acquit the accused if he be found exempt
from criminal responsibility by reason of imbecility or lunacy. In such case an order for his commitment to an asylum
should be made pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 2 of article 8 (1) of the Penal Code [now par. 2, Article 12 (1)]."
[60]
United States v. Guendia, 37 Phil. 337, 345 [1917]; also cited in Francisco, Criminal Procedure, p. 330 [1996] and
Herrera, Remedial Law, vol. 4, pp. 384-385 [1992].
[61]
Pizzi, Competency to Stand Trial in Federal Courts: Conceptual and Constitutional Problems," 45 Univ.of Chicago
Law Review 21-22 [1977]. The term present insanity was used in the case of Youtsey v. United States, 97 F. 937 [1899]
to distinguish it from insanity at the time of commission of the offense.
[62]
21 Am Jur 2d, Criminal Law, Sec. 97 [1981 ed.]; LaFave and Scott, Criminal Law, p. 333, 2d ed. [1986]; del Carmen,
Criminal Procedure, Law and Practice, pp. 395-396, 3rd ed. [1995]; Ferdico, Criminal Procedure for the Criminal Justice
Professional, pp. 55-56, 7th ed. [1999].
[63]
Id.
[64]
21 Am Jur 2d, Criminal Law, Sec. 96; see list of cases therein; see also Raymond and Hall, California Criminal Law
and Procedure, p. 230 [1999].
[65]
Id; see also LaFave and Scott, supra, at 333; Weihofen, Mental Disorder as a Criminal Defense, 430 [1954]. Long
before legislation on competency to stand trial, the case of Youtsey v. United States, 97 F. 937 [1899] recognized that a
federal court had the same wide discretion established by the common law when the question of present insanity was
presentedUnited States v. Sermon, 228 F. Supp. 972, 982 [1964].
[66]
Dusky v. United States, 362 US 402, 4 L ed 2d 824, 825, 80 S Ct 788 [1960]. This is commonly referred to as the
Dusky standardLaFave and Scott, supra, at 334-335, Note 26.
[67]
LaFave and Scott, supra.; see also Notes: "Incompetency to Stand Trial," 81 Harvard Law Review, 454, 459 [Dec.
1967].
[68]
LaFave and Scott, supra, at 334.
[69]
State v. Swails, 223 La 751, 66 So. 2d 796, 799 [1953].
[70]
In re Buchanan, 129 Cal. 360, 61 P. 1120, 1121 [1900]; State v. Swails, supra; see also Weihofen, Mental Disorder as
a Criminal Defense, p. 429 [1954].
[71]
Pate v. Robinson, 383 US 375, 15 L ed 2d 815, 822, 86 S Ct 836 [1966].
[72]
21 Am Jur 2d, Criminal Law, Sec. 95 [198 ed.]; Youtsey v. United States, 97 Fed. 937, 940-946 [CA6 1899];
Drope v. Missouri, 420 U.S. 162, 43 L ed 2d 103, 113-114, 95 S Ct 896 [1975]; Pate v. Robinson, 383 U.S. 815, 15 L ed
2d 815, 822, 86 S Ct 836 [1966]; see also Weihofen, supra, at 429-430.
[73]
Notes: "Incompetency to Stand Trial," 81 Harv. L. Rev. 454 [1967].
[74]
Id., at 457-459; see also LaFave and Scott, supra, at 334-335.
[75]
21 Am Jur 2d, Criminal Law, Sec. 103 [1981 ed.].
[76]
The term reasonable doubt was used in Drope v. Missouri, supra, at 118; see also LaFave and Scott, supra, Note 34, at
335-336.
[77]
In Pate v. Robinson, supra, at 822, the court used the term bona fide doubt as to defendants competence; see
also LaFave and Scott, supra, Note 34, at 335-336.
[78]
21 Am Jur 2d, Criminal Law, Sec. 104 [1981 ed.]; Drope v. Missouri, supra, at 118; Pate v. Robinson, supra, at 822.
[79]
Order dated January 6, 1995, Records, p. 16.
[80]
See Second Order of January 6, 1995, Records, p. 19.
[81]
The two (2) attached letters were submitted as part of appellants evidence and were admitted by the trial court without
objection from the public prosecutor -- Exhibits 15 and 16, Records, pp. 94-96.
[82]
Order dated September 18, 1996, Records, p. 75.
[83]
TSN of November 26, 1996, p. 27. In People v. Austria, 260 SCRA 106, 116-117 [1996], schizophrenia was defined as
a chronic mental disorder, and that a paranoid type of schizophrenia was characterized by unpleasant emotional
aggressiveness and delusions of persecution by the patient quoting Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine and Nursing,
Miller-Keane, p. 860 and Noyes Modern Clinical Psychiatry, 7th ed., pp. 380-381.
[84]
Id.
[85]
See Order dated May 5, 1997, Records, p. 184.
[86]
The rule on suspension of arraignment for mental examination of the accuseds mental condition first appeared in the
1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. The 1917 case of U.S. v. Guendia did not mention mental examination.
[87]
Notes: "Incompetency to Stand Trial," 81 Harv. L. Rev. 454, 470 [1967].
[88]
Id; Gunther v. United States, 215 F. 2d 493, 496-497 (D.C. Cir. 1954)While expert psychiatric judgment is relevant to
determine a defendants competence to stand trial, it is not controlling. Resolution of this issue requires not only a clinical
psychiatric judgment but also a judgment based upon a knowledge of criminal trial proceedings that is peculiarly within
the competence of the trial judge; see also United States v. Sermon, 228 F. Supp. 972, 976-977 ( W.D. Mo. 1964).
[89]
See Pizzi, Competency to Stand Trial in Federal Courts: Conceptual and Constitutional Problems, 45 Univ. of Chicago
L. Rev. 21, 38, Note 84 [1977]dual purpose examinations are the customary practice in the U.S.
[90]
People v. Austria, 260 SCRA 106 [1996]the medical examination was conducted 1 years after the crimes commission;
People v. Bonoan, 64 Phil. 82 [1937]the examinations were conducted 1 to 6 months after the crime; People vs. Bascos,
44 Phil. 204 [1922] --the medical exam was conducted immediately after commission of the crime.
[91]
See People v. Balondo, 30 SCRA 155, 160 [1969].
[92]
29 SCRA 123 [1969].
[93]
Id., at 129.
 

 
EN BANC

[G.R. No. 134362. February 27, 2002]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. EMELITO SITCHON y TAYAG, accused-
appellant.

DECISION
KAPUNAN, J.:

For beating to death the two-year old son of his common-law wife, accused-appellant Emelito
Sitchon y Tayag was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by the Regional Trial Court of Manila. His
case is now before this Court on automatic review.
Appellant was charged in an information stating:

That on or about June 12, 1996, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused did then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, with intent to kill and with treachery and evident premeditation, attack, assault and use
personal violence upon one MARK ANTHONY FERNANDEZ y TABORA a minor, 2 years old, by then and there
mauling and clubbing him on the different parts of his body with the use of a steel hammer and a wooden stick,
approximately 18 inches long, thereby inflicting upon the latter mortal wounds which were the direct and immediate cause
of his death thereafter.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[1]

Appellant pleaded not guilty to the above charge.[2] However, before testifying in his own defense on June
4, 1998, appellant admitted that he killed the victim and changed his plea to guilty.[3]
Five witnesses testified for the prosecution, namely, Lilia Garcia, a neighbor; the victim's eight-year old
brother Roberto; the investigating officer, PO3 Paul Dennis Javier; Dr. Manuel Lagonera, medico-legal officer
of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); and Felicisima Francisco, a forensic chemist of the same agency.
Appellant lived in the second floor of a three-square meter house located at 2001 Batangas Street,
Tondo, Manila. His neighbor of two months, Lilia Garcia, resided in the first floor of the same house.
At about 10:00 in the morning of June 12, 1996, Lilia was in front of the house attending to her children
when she heard the sound of a boy crying. Curious, Lilia went up the stairway, her children in tow. The open
door of the upper floor allowed Lilia to witness appellant beating two-year old Mark Anthony Fernandez. From
a distance of less than three arms length, Lilia saw appellant hit various parts of the boys body with a piece of
wood, about 14 inches in length and 2 inches in diameter. Appellant also banged the head of the boy against
the wooden wall.
The beating went on for about one hour. Lilia then saw appellant carry the boy down the house to bring
him to the hospital. The two-year old was already black and no longer moving.[4]
Eight-year old Roberto Fernandez is the elder brother of the victim, also known as Macky. According to
Roberto, Macky had scattered his feces all over the house. Appellant, whom Roberto called Kuya Chito, thus
beat Macky with a belt, a hammer and a 2x2 piece of wood. Roberto could not do anything to help his brother
because he was afraid Kuya Chito might also beat him up. When Kuya Chito brought Macky to the hospital, his
little brother, who could barely talk, was not crying anymore.[5]
Roberto identified the two pieces of wood[6] that appellant allegedly used in beating the victim. He also
identified the T-shirt[7] that Macky wore when he died.
A certain Alice Valerio from the Galang Medical Hospital informed PO3 Paul Dennis Javier that a boy had
been admitted there. When PO3 Javier went to the hospital, he found the boy already dead. He observed that
the child had wounds on the left middle finger, the right index finger and both feet. The child also had
lacerations in the upper lip and contusions all over his head and body.
PO3 Javier proceeded to appellants house at No. 2001, Batangas Ext., Tondo, Manila. Human feces and
fresh blood splattered on the floor. PO3 Javier recovered from the house the broken wooden sticks, the steel
hammer,[8]which were allegedly used to beat up the boy, as well as a bloodstained white T-shirt.
PO3 Javier then went to the house of appellants sister in Del Fierro St., Tondo, who informed him of
matters relative to appellants identification. Thereafter, the police conducted a search operation
in Cavite where appellants mother lived but they did not find him there. Later that afternoon, PO3 Javier
learned that appellant had surrendered to Station 3 of their district.
The following day, a staff member of the television program Magandang Gabi Bayan turned over to PO3
Javier a brown belt which appellant allegedly also used in beating the victim. Roberto Fernandez, the victims
brother, had given the belt to the staff member.[9]
Dr. Manuel Lagonera, medico-legal officer of the NBI, conducted the postmortem examination of the
victims body on June 12, 1996 at 4:40 p.m. He found that the boy had suffered many injuries, including three
wounds at the head and the anterior chest, which could have been inflicted with the use of blunt objects such
as a piece of wood or a fist. The child could have been dead three to four hours, or not more than eight hours,
prior to the postmortem examination. Dr. Lagonera concluded that the victim died of bilateral pneumonia
secondary to multiple blunt traversal injuries or complication of the lungs due to said injuries.[10] The autopsy
report of Dr. Lagonera shows that Mark Anthony Fernandez sustained the following injuries:

EXTERNAL FINDINGS:

1. Multiple old scars, forehead.


2. Healing lacerated wound, left forehead.
3. Healed lacerated wound, above the left eyebrow, measuring 1.2x0.2 cm.
4. Healed linear abrasions, left cheek.
5. Lacerated wound, extending up to the mucous membrane of the upper lip, measuring 2 x0.3 cm.
6. Contussion (sic), left temporo-parietal region, measuring 6x5 cms.
7. Healing lacerated wound, left zygomatic region, measuring 0.5x0.3 cm.
8. Contussion (sic), left jaw, measuring 1.5x1 cm.
9. Contussion (sic), right anterior thorax, measuring 17x12 cms.
10. Contussion (sic), right anterior forearm.
11. Lacerated wound, tip of the forefinger, right.
12. Old scar, upper 3rd , right anterior thigh.
13. Contussion (sic), right lower leg, above and below the knee measuring 9x5 cms.
14. Contussion (sic), left lower leg, above and below the knee, measuring 13x6 cms.
15. Hematoma, big toe, under the nail bed, right.
16. Contusso-abrasion, dorsum of the left foot, measuring 6x2 cms.
17. Contussion (sic), left posterior thorax, measuring 17x6 cms.
18. Contussion (sic), right postero-lateral thorax, extending up to the right lumbar region, measuring
13x6 cms.
19. Contussion (sic), right posterior forearm, measuring 24x8 cms.
20. Contussion (sic), left posterior forearm, measuring 22x7 cms.
21. Healing abrasion, right buttocks, measuring 2x0.5 cm.
22. Plucked finger nail, left middle finger, with hematoma of the nail bed.
23. Posterior hand, both swollen.

INTERNAL FINDINGS:

1. Presence of left sub-aponeurotic hematoma, temporo-parietal region and over the mid-occipital
region.
2. Hematoma over the sternum and pectoralis muscles.
3. Both lungs showed patcy and confluent consolidations.
4. Small amount of rice porridge was recovered from the stomach.[11]
Felicisima M. Francisco, NBI forensic chemist, conducted an examination to determine the presence and
grouping of human blood found on the steel hammer, the wooden sticks, and the T-shirt that were sent to his
office by P/Sr. Inspector Pedro Ramos Angulo, Jr. of the Western Police District in Manila.[12] She prepared
Report No. B-96-941 stating that Specimen No. 1 or the steel hammer, was positive for human blood but
insufficient for blood group. Specimen Nos. 2 (the broken wooden sticks) and 3 (the white T-shirt) were also
positive for human blood showing reactions of Group A.[13]
Only appellant, 40, a sidewalk vendor, testified for the defense. As stated earlier, appellant admitted killing
the two-year old victim, the son of his live-in partner. He and the boys mother had lived together for two years
before the incident, starting when the boy was about a year old. He claimed he enjoyed a harmonious
relationship with his partner and that he killed the boy only because he was under the influence of shabu,
marijuana and Valium 10 at that time. Appellant professed that he began using drugs in 1974 and that he had
also taken drugs two weeks before the incident.
On June 12, 1996, appellant came upon Macky playing with his feces, scattering them all over the pillow,
the bed sheets and the curtains. Appellant scolded the boy, Putang-ina ka Macky! Bakit mo ikinalat ng ganyan
ang tae mo? Halika, dadalhin kita sa baba para hugasan! Appellant got hold of Macky but the boy struggled to
free himself from appellants grasp. Appellant, still reeling from the Valium 10 he had just taken, became so
angry that he picked up a broom with a wooden handle, and hit the boy. Appellant did not realize that he had
hit Macky hard until he saw the boy sprawled on the floor, breathing with difficulty. He dressed Macky and
brought him to the Galang Medical Centerat the corner of Abad Santos Avenue and Tayabas
Street, Manila. He prayed to God that nothing serious would happen to the boy.
A lady doctor immediately attended to Macky. Appellant pleaded to the lady doctor to do all she can to
save the child; otherwise, he would be in serious trouble. After examining the child, the doctor told appellant
that she could not do anything more Macky was dead. The same day, appellant surrendered to the police. He
was brought to the Homicide Section at 3:00 p.m.
Explaining his change of plea, appellant clarified that the killing of the boy was "accidental." He reiterated
that he was under the influence of drugs, which he had taken one after the other. He was a drug dependent
and, in fact, had been confined at the Tagaytay Rehabilitation Center. He said he was conscious when the
incident happened but he simply did not realize that he had hit the child hard with the brooms wooden
handle. He denied having hit the boy with a hammer or having banged his head against the wall. He hoped the
trial court would be lenient with him because of his voluntary surrender. He prayed that the court would not
impose upon him the death penalty.[14]
Nevertheless, on July 3, 1998, the trial court promulgated its decision, the dispositive portion of which
reads:

WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused, Emelito Sitchon y Tayag, guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
murder and is sentenced to suffer the death penalty and to pay the costs. The accused is further ordered to pay the mother
of the victim Christina Tabora, moral and nominal damages in the respective sums of P100,000.00 and P50,000.00, plus
death compensation in the sum of P50,000.00, with interest thereon at the legal rate from this date until fully paid.

SO ORDERED.[15]

The Court entertains little doubt that appellant is guilty of the killing of Mark Anthony
Fernandez. Appellants guilt was adequately established by the testimonies of Lilia Garcia and Roberto
Fernandez, who both saw appellant beat Macky. These testimonies were further corroborated by those of PO3
Paul Dennis Javier, Dr. Manuel Lagonera and Felicisima Francisco, as well as the various pieces of object
evidence. Indeed, appellant in open court admitted beating the poor child, which beating resulted in the latters
death.
That appellant purportedly did not intend to kill the toddler would not exculpate him from liability. Article
4(1) of the Revised Penal Code provides that criminal liability shall be incurred by any person committing a
felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be different from that which he intended. The rationale of the rule
is found in the doctrine that el que es causa de la causa es causa del mal causado (he who is the cause of the
cause is the cause of the evil caused).[16]
Thus, where the accused violently kicked the sleeping victim in vital parts of the latters body, the accused
is liable for the supervening death as a consequence of the injuries.[17] Assuming, therefore, that appellant
merely intended to inflict physical injuries upon the boy, he is nevertheless liable for the death of the victim
caused by such injuries.
The killing in this case was attended by treachery. There is treachery when the offender commits any of
the crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly
and especially to insure its execution without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party
might make.[18] It is beyond dispute that the killing of minor children who, by reason of their tender years, could
not be expected to put up a defense, is treacherous.[19]
Evident premeditation is absent. For the court to appreciate evident premeditation, the prosecution must
prove: (a) the time the accused decided to commit the crime; (b) an overt act manifestly indicating that he
clung to his determination; and (c) sufficient lapse of time between the decision and the execution to allow the
accused to reflect upon the consequence of his act.[20] The prosecution failed to establish any of these
requisites.
The trial court incorrectly appreciated cruelty against the accused. The test in appreciating cruelty as an
aggravating circumstance is whether the accused deliberately and sadistically augmented the wrong by
causing another wrong not necessary for its commission, or inhumanly increased the victims suffering or
outraged or scoffed at his person or corpse.[21] The nature of cruelty lies in the fact that the culprit enjoys and
delights in making his victim suffer slowly and gradually, causing him moral and physical pain which is
unnecessary for the consummation of the criminal act which he intended to commit.[22] The sheer number of
wounds, however, is not a test for determining whether cruelty attended the commission of a crime.[23]
The prosecution did not show that appellant enjoyed inflicting injuries upon the victim. The inordinate force
employed by appellant appears to have been caused not by any sadistic bend but rather by the drugs that
diminished his capacity.
The trial court also considered intoxication as an aggravating circumstance. The Solicitor General defends
this ruling, contending that appellants habitual drug addiction is an alternative circumstance analogous to
habitual intoxication under Article 15 of the Revised Penal Code:

Intoxication of the offender shall be taken into consideration as a mitigating circumstance when the offender has
committed a felony in a state of intoxication, if the same is not habitual or subsequent to the plan to commit said felony;
but when the intoxication is habitual or intentional, it shall be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

The Court does not agree. Article 13 of the Revised Penal Code provides a list of mitigating circumstances,
which work to reduce the accuseds penalty. Article 13(10) allows courts to consider any other circumstance of
a similar nature and analogous to those mentioned therein. Neither Article 14 of the same Code on aggravating
circumstances[24] nor Article 15 on alternative circumstances,[25] however, contain a provision similar to Article
13(10). Accordingly, the Court cannot consider appellants drug addiction as an aggravating
circumstance. Criminal statutes are to be strictly construed and no person should be brought within their terms
who is not clearly within them.[26]
Appellant maintains that his plea of guilt mitigates his criminal liability. On this matter, this Court said
in People v. Ramos:[27]

To effectively alleviate the criminal liability of an accused, a plea of guilt must be made at the first opportunity, indicating
repentance on the part of the accused. In determining the timeliness of a plea of guilty, nothing could be more explicit
than the provisions of the Revised Penal Code requiring that the offender voluntarily confess his guilt before the court
prior to the presentation of the evidence for the prosecution. It is well-settled that a plea of guilty made after arraignment
and after trial had begun does not entitle the accused to have such plea considered as a mitigating circumstance.

As appellant changed his plea only after the prosecution had rested its case and just when he was just about
to testify, said mitigating circumstance is unavailing.
The trial court credited appellant with the mitigating circumstance of voluntary surrender. For voluntary
surrender to be appreciated, these elements must be established: (1) the offender has not been actually
arrested; (2) he surrendered himself to a person in authority or an agent of a person in authority; and (3) his
surrender was voluntary.[28] It is sufficient that the surrender be spontaneous and made in a manner clearly
indicating the intent of the accused to surrender unconditionally, either because he acknowledges his guilt or
he wishes to save the authorities the trouble and expense which will necessarily be incurred in searching for
and capturing him.[29]
Appellant has failed to adequately prove voluntary surrender. While he claimed that he surrendered to the
police on the same day that the victim was killed, he did not detail the circumstances like the time and place of
such surrender. Neither did appellant state to whom he surrendered. He did not indicate if the person was a
person in authority or an agent of the latter. PO3 Javiers testimony that he learned of appellants alleged
surrender is hearsay and does not serve to corroborate appellants claim.
The Court, however, discerns no intention on the part of appellant to commit so grave a wrong against his
victim. Appellants intention was merely to maltreat the victim, not to kill him. When appellant realized the
horrible consequences of his felonious act, he immediately brought the victim to the hospital.[30] Sadly, his
efforts were for naught.
In view of the attendance of the aggravating circumstance of treachery, the killing of the victim is qualified
to murder, punishable under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code by reclusion perpetua to death. The
murder was attended by the mitigating circumstance of lack of intention to commit so grave a wrong and there
is no aggravating circumstance. Hence, the lesser penalty of reclusion perpetua must be imposed upon
appellant.[31]
Appellant is liable for civil indemnity of P50,000.00 without proof of damages.[32] Moral damages that are
recoverable for the mental anguish or emotional distress suffered by the heirs of the victim cannot be awarded
here as the prosecution did not present any evidence to justify its award.[33]
WHEREFORE, accused-appellant Emelito Sitchon y Tayag is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
Murder, as defined and punished by Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, and is sentenced to suffer the
penalty ofreclusion perpetua. He is ordered to pay the heirs of Mark Anthony Fernandez civil indemnity in the
amount of P50,000.00.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Buena, Ynares-
Santiago, De Leon, Jr., Sandoval-Gutierrez, and Carpio, JJ., concur.

[1] Records, p. 1.
[2] Id., at 17.
[3]
TSN, June 4, 1998, p. 3.
[4]
TSN, October 15, 1996, pp. 2-11.
[5]
TSN, October 29, 1996, pp. 14-19.
[6]
Exhs. F and F-1.
[7] Exh. H.
[8] Exh. G.
[9] TSN, October 29, 1996, pp. 3-11.
[10] TSN, November 12, 1996, pp. 2-5.
[11] Exh. "K."
[12] Exh. "I."
[13]
Exh. N.
[14]
TSN, June 4, 1998, pp. 4-9.
[15]
Records, p. 111.
[16]
People vs. Ural, 56 SCRA 138 (1974).
[17]
People vs. Flores, 252 SCRA 31 (1996).
[18] REVISED PENAL CODE, ARTICLE 14 (16).
[19] People vs. Palomar, 278 SCRA 114 (1997); People vs. Gonzales, 311 SCRA 547 (1999).
[20] People v. Bias, 320 SCRA 22 (1999).
[21] People v. Iligan, 369 Phil. 1005 (1999).
[22] People v. Tanzon, 320 SCRA 762 (1999).
[23] People vs. Panida, 310 SCRA 66 (1999).
[24]
ART. 14. Aggravating circumstances. The following are aggravating circumstances:
1. That advantage be taken by the offender of his public position.
2. That the crime be committed in contempt of or with insult to the public authorities.
3. That the act be committed with insult or in disregard of the respect due to the offended party on account of
his rank, age, or sex, or that it be committed in the dwelling of the offended party, if the latter has not
given provocation.
4. That the act be committed with abuse of confidence or obvious ungratefulness.
5. That the crime be committed in the palace of the Chief Executive, or in his presence, or where public
authorities are engaged in the discharge of their duties, or in a place dedicated to religious worship.
6. That the crime be committed in the nighttime, or in an uninhabited place, or by a band, whenever such
circumstances may facilitate the commission of the offense.
Whenever more than three armed malefactors shall have acted together in the commission of an offense, it
shall be deemed to have been committed by a band.
7. That the crime be committed on the occasion of a conflagration, shipwreck, earthquake, epidemic, or other
calamity or misfortune.
8. That the crime be committed with the aid of armed men or persons who insure or afford impunity.
9. That the accused is a recidivist.
A recidivist is one who, at the time of his trial for one crime, shall have been previously convicted by final
judgment of another crime embraced in the same title of this Code.
10. That the offender has been previously punished for an offense to which the law attaches an equal or
greater penalty or for two or more crimes to which it attaches a lighter penalty.
11. That the crime be committed in consideration of a price, reward, or promise.
12. That the crime be committed by means of inundation, fire, poison, explosion, stranding of a vessel or
intentional damage thereto, derailment of a locomotive, or by the use of any other artifice involving
great waste and ruin.
13. That the act be committed with evident premeditation.
14. That craft, fraud, or disguise be employed.
15. That advantage be taken of superior strength, or means be employed to weaken the defense.
16. That the act be committed with treachery (alevosia).
There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means,
methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution,
without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.
17. That means be employed or circumstances brought about which add ignominy to the natural effects of the
act.
18. That the crime be committed after an unlawful entry.
There is an unlawful entry when an entrance is effected by a way not intended for the purpose.
19. That as a means to the commission of a crime a wall, roof, floor, door, or window be broken.
20. That the crime be committed with the aid of a persons under fifteen years of age or by means of motor
vehicles, motorized watercraft, airships, or other similar means.
21. That the wrong done in the commission of the crime be deliberately augmented by causing other wrong not
necessary for its commission.
[25] ART. 15. The concept. Alternative circumstances are those which must be taken into consideration as
aggravating or mitigating according to the nature and effects of the crime and the other conditions
attending its commission. They are the relationship, intoxication and the degree of instruction and
education of the offender.
The alternative circumstance of relationship shall be taken into consideration when the offended
party is the spouse, ascendant, descendant, legitimate, natural, or adopted brother or sister, or relative
by affinity in the same degrees of the offender.
The intoxication of the offender shall be taken into consideration as a mitigating circumstance
when the offender has committed a felony in a state of intoxication, if the same is not habitual or
subsequent to the plan to commit said felony; but when the intoxication is habitual or intentional, it shall
be considered as an aggravating circumstance.
[26]
United States vs. Abad Santos, 36 Phil. 243 (1917).
[27] 296 SCRA 559 (1998).
[28] People v. Aquino, 314 SCRA 543 (1999).
[29] People v. Sambulan, 289 SCRA 500 (1998); People v. Ramos, supra.
[30] People vs. Ural, supra.
[31] REVISED PENAL CODE, ARTICLE 63(3).
[32] People v. Borreros, 306 SCRA 680 (1999). [33] People v. Langres, 316 SCRA 769 (1999).
EN BANC

[G.R. No. 140756. April 4, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. JUAN GONZALES ESCOTE, JR. @ Jun Mantika of
Sta. Lucia, Angat, Bulacan and VICTOR ACUYAN y OCHOVILLOS @ Vic Arroyo of Sto. Nio,
Poblacion, Bustos, Bulacan, accused-appellants.

DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Robbery with homicide is classified as a crime against property. Nevertheless, treachery is a generic
aggravating circumstance in said crime if the victim of homicide is killed treacherously. The Supreme Court of
Spain so ruled.So does the Court rule in this case, as it had done for decades.
Before the Court on automatic review is the Decision[1] of Branch 11 of the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan
in Criminal Case No. 443-M-97 convicting accused-appellants Juan Gonzales Escote, Jr. and Victor Acuyan of
the complex crime of robbery with homicide, meting on each of them the supreme penalty of death, and
ordering them to pay the heirs of the victim, SPO1 Jose C. Manio, Jr., the total amount of P300,000.00 by way
of actual and moral damages and to pay to Five Star Bus, Inc., the amount of P6,000.00 by way of actual
damages.

The Facts

The antecedent facts as established by the prosecution are as follows:


On September 28, 1996 at past midnight, Rodolfo Cacatian, the regular driver of Five Star Passenger Bus
bearing Plate No. ABS-793, drove the bus from its terminal at Pasay City to its destination in Bolinao,
Pangasinan. Also on board was Romulo Digap, the regular conductor of the bus, as well as some
passengers. At Camachile, Balintawak, six passengers boarded the bus, including Victor Acuyan and Juan
Gonzales Escote, Jr. who were wearing maong pants, rubber shoes, hats and jackets.[2] Juan seated himself
on the third seat near the aisle, in the middle row of the passengers seats, while Victor stood by the door in the
mid-portion of the bus beside Romulo. Another passenger, SPO1 Jose C. Manio, Jr., a resident of Angeles
City, was seated at the rear portion of the bus on his way home to Angeles City. Tucked on his waist was his
service gun bearing Serial Number 769806. Every now and then, Rodolfo looked at the side view mirror as well
as the rear view and center mirrors installed atop the drivers seat to monitor any incoming and overtaking
vehicles and to observe the passengers of the bus.
The lights of the bus were on even as some of the passengers slept. When the bus was travelling along
the highway in Plaridel, Bulacan, Juan and Victor suddenly stood up, whipped out their handguns and
announced a holdup.Petrified, Rodolfo glanced at the center mirror towards the passengers seat and saw Juan
and Victor armed with handguns. Juan fired his gun upward to awaken and scare off the passengers. Victor
followed suit and fired his gun upward. Juan and Victor then accosted the passengers and divested them of
their money and valuables. Juan divested Romulo of the fares he had collected from the passengers. The
felons then went to the place Manio, Jr. was seated and demanded that he show them his identification card
and wallet. Manio, Jr. brought out his identification card bearing No. 00898.[3] Juan and Victor took the
identification card of the police officer as well as his service gun and told him: Pasensya ka na Pare, papatayin
ka namin, baril mo rin and papatay sa iyo. The police officer pleaded for mercy: Pare maawa ka sa akin. May
pamilya ako. However, Victor and Juan ignored the plea of the police officer and shot him on the mouth, right
ear, chest and right side of his body. Manio, Jr. sustained six entrance wounds. He fell to the floor of the
bus. Victor and Juan then moved towards the driver Rodolfo, seated themselves beside him and ordered the
latter to maintain the speed of the bus. Rodolfo heard one of the felons saying: Ganyan lang ang pumatay ng
tao. Parang pumapatay ng manok. The other said: Ayos na naman tayo pare. Malaki-laki ito. Victor and Juan
further told Rodolfo that after they (Victor and Juan) shall have alighted from the bus, he (Rodolfo) should
continue driving the bus and not report the incident along the way. The robbers assured Rodolfo that if the
latter will follow their instructions, he will not be harmed. Victor and Juan ordered Rodolfo to stop the bus along
the overpass in Mexico, Pampanga where they alighted from the bus. The robbery was over in 25 minutes.
When the bus reached Dau, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Rodolfo and Romulo forthwith reported the incident to
the police authorities. The cadaver of SPO1 Manio, Jr. was brought to the funeral parlor where Dr. Alejandro D.
Tolentino, the Municipal Health Officer of Mabalacat, Pampanga, performed an autopsy on the cadaver of the
police officer. The doctor prepared and signed an autopsy report detailing the wounds sustained by the police
officer and the cause of his death:

Body still flaccid (not in rigor mortis) bathed with his own blood. There were 6 entrance wounds and 6 exit wounds. All
the entrance were located on his right side. An entrance (0.5 cm x 0.5 cm.) located infront of the right ear exited at the left
side just below the ear lobe. Another entrance through the mouth exited at the back of the head fracturing the occiput with
an opening of (1.5 cm x 2 cm). Blood CSF and brain tissues came out. Another fatal bullet entered at the upper right
cornea of the sternum, entered the chest cavity pierced the heart and left lung and exited at the left axillary line. Severe
hemorrhage in the chest cavity came from the heart and left lung. The other 3 bullets entered the right side and exited on
the same side. One entrance at the top of the right shoulder exited at the medial side of the right arm. The other entered
above the right breast and exited at the right lateral abdominal wall travelling below muscles and subcutaneous tissues
without entering the cavities. Lastly another bullet entered above the right iliac crest travelled superficially and exited
above the right inguinal line.

Cause of Death:

Shock, massive internal and external hemorrhage, complete brain destruction and injury to the heart and left lung caused
by multiple gunshot wounds.[4]

Rodolfo and Romulo proceeded to the police station of Plaridel, Bulacan where they reported the robbery
and gave their respective sworn statements.[5] SPO1 Manio, Jr. was survived by his wife Rosario Manio and
their four young children. Rosario spent P20,000.00 for the coffin and P10,000.00 for the burial lot of the slain
police officer.[6] Manio, Jr. was 38 years old when he died and had a gross salary of P8,085.00 a month.[7]
Barely a month thereafter, or on October 25, 1996, at about midnight, SPO3 Romeo Meneses, the team
leader of Alert Team No. 1 of Tarlac Police Station, and PO3 Florante S. Ferrer were at the police checkpoint
along the national highway in Tarlac, Tarlac. At the time, the Bambang-Concepcion bridge was closed to traffic
and the police officers were tasked to divert traffic to the Sta. Rosa road. Momentarily, a white colored taxi cab
without any plate number on its front fender came to view. Meneses stopped the cab and asked the driver, who
turned out to be the accused Juan Gonzales Escote, Jr., for his identification card. Juan told Meneses that he
was a policeman and handed over to Meneses the identification card of SPO1 Manio, Jr. and the money which
Juan and Victor took from Manio, Jr. during the heist on September 28, 1996.[8] Meneses became suspicious
when he noted that the identification card had already expired on March 16, 1995. He asked Juan if the latter
had a new pay slip. Juan could not produce any. He finally confessed to Meneses that he was not a
policeman. Meneses brought Juan to the police station. When police officers frisked Juan for any deadly
weapon, they found five live bullets of a 9 millimeter firearm in his pocket. The police officers confiscated the
ammunition. In the course of the investigation, Juan admitted to the police investigators that he and Victor,
alias Victor Arroyo, staged the robbery on board Five Star Bus and are responsible for the death of SPO1
Manio, Jr. in Plaridel, Bulacan. Meneses and Ferrer executed their joint affiavit of arrest of Juan.[9] Juan was
subsequently turned over to the Plaridel Police Station where Romulo identified him through the latters picture
as one of those who robbed the passengers of the Five Star Bus with Plate No. ABS-793 and killed SPO1
Manio, Jr. on September 28, 1996. In the course of their investigation, the Plaridel Police Station Investigators
learned that Victor was a native of Laoang, Northern Samar.[10] On April 4, 1997, an Information charging Juan
Gonzales Escote, Jr. and Victor Acuyan with robbery with homicide was filed with the Regional Trial Court of
Bulacan. The Information reads:
That on or about the 28th day of September 1996, in the municipality of Plaridel, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating together and
mutually helping each other, armed with firearms, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent of
(sic) gain and by means of force, violence and intimidation, take, rob and carry away with one (1) necklace and cash in
[the] undetermine[d] amount of one SPO1 Jose C. Manio, Jr., to the damage and prejudice of the said owner in the said
undetermine[d] amount; that simultaneously or on the occassion (sic) of said robbery, said accused by means of violence
and intimidation and in furtherance of their conspiracy attack, assault and shoot with the service firearm of the said SPO1
Jose C. Manio, Jr., thereby inflicting serious physical injuries which resulted (sic) the death of the said SPO1 Jose C.
Manio, Jr.

Contrary to law.[11]

On the strength of a warrant of arrest, the police officers arrested Victor in Laoang, Northern Samar and
had him incarcerated in the Bulacan Provincial Jail. Assisted by Atty. Ramiro Osorio, their counsel de parte,
Juan and Victor were duly arraigned and entered their plea of not guilty to the charge. Trial thereafter
ensued. After the prosecution had rested its case on August 26, 1998, Juan escaped from the provincial
jail.[12] The trial court issued a bench warrant on September 22, 1998 for the arrest of said accused-
appellant.[13] In the meantime, Victor adduced his evidence.
Victor denied the charge and interposed the defense of alibi. He testified that in 1996, he worked as a tire
man in the vulcanizing shop located in Banga I, Plaridel, Bulacan owned by Tony Boy Negro. On one occasion,
Ilarde Victorino, a customer of Tony Boy Negro, ordered Victor to sell a tire. Victor sold the tire but did not turn
over the proceeds of the sale to Ilarde. The latter hated Victor for his misdeed. The shop was later demolished
and after two months of employment, Victor returned to Barangay Muwal-Buwal, Laoang, Northern Samar. On
September 26, 1996, at 9:30 p.m., Victor was at the town fiesta in Laoang. Victor and his friends, Joseph
Iringco and Rickey Lorcio were having a drinking spree in the house of Barangay Captain Ike Baluya. At 11:30
p.m., the three left the house of the barangay captain and attended the public dance at the town
auditorium. Victor and his friends left the auditorium at 5:30 a.m. of September 27, 1996. Victor likewise
testified that he never met Juan until his arrest and detention at the Bulacan Provincial Jail. One of the inmates
in said provincial jail was Ilarde Victorino. Victor learned that Ilarde implicated him for the robbery of the Five
Star Bus and the killing of SPO1 Manio, Jr. to hit back at him for his failure to turn over to Ilarde the proceeds
of the sale of the latters tire.
On January 14, 1999, Juan was rearrested in Daet, Camarines Norte.[14] However, he no longer adduced
any evidence in his behalf.

The Verdict of the Trial Court

On March 11, 1999, the trial court rendered its Decision judgment finding Juan and Victor guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime charged, meted on each of them the penalty of death and ordered them to
pay P300,000.00 as actual and moral damages to the heirs of the victim and to pay the Five Star Bus
Company the amount of P6,000.00 as actual damages. The decretal portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, this Court finds both accused, Juan Gonzales Escote, Jr. and Victor Acuyan GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt of Robbery with Homicide as penalized under Art. 294 of the Revised Penal Code as amended and hereby
sentences both to suffer the supreme penalty of Death and to indemnify the heirs of the late SPO1 Jose C. Manio, Jr., the
amount of P300,000.00 as actual and moral damages and to pay the Five Star Bus P6,000.00 as actual damage.

SO ORDERED.[15]

Assignment of Errors

Juan and Victor assail the Decision of the trial court and contend that:
I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT RODOLFO CACATIAN AND ROMULO DIGAP, DRIVER AND
CONDUCTOR OF THE FIVE STAR BUS, RESPECTIVELY, WERE ABLE TO POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE TWO
(2) MEN WHO HELD-UP THEIR BUS AND KILLED ONE PASSENGER THEREOF AT AROUND 3:00 OCLOCK
IN THE EARLY MORNING OF SEPTEMBER 28, 1996.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE TWO (2) ACCUSED GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
OF THE CRIME OF ROBBERY WITH HOMICIDE.[16]

The Courts Verdict

Anent the first assignment of error, Juan and Victor contend that the trial court committed a reversible
error in relying on the testimony of Rodolfo, the bus conductor, for convicting them of the crime charged. They
aver that although their counsel was able to initially cross-examine Rodolfo, the former failed to continue with
and terminate his cross-examination of the said witness through no fault of his as the witness failed to appear
in subsequent proceedings. They assert that even if the testimonies of Rodolfo and Romulo were to be
considered, the two witnesses were so petrified during the robbery that they were not able to look at the felons
and hence could not positively identify accused-appellants as the perpetrators of the crime. They argue that
the police investigators never conducted a police line-up for the identification of the authors of the crime.
The contentions of Juan and Victor are not meritorious. There is no factual and legal basis for their claim
that they were illegally deprived of their constitutional and statutory right to fully cross-examine Rodolfo. The
Court agrees that the right to cross-examine is a constitutional right anchored on due process.[17] It is a
statutory right found in Section 1(f), Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which provides that
the accused has the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him at the trial. However, the
right has always been understood as requiring not necessarily an actual cross-examination but merely an
opportunity to exercise the right to cross-examine if desired.[18] What is proscribed by statutory norm and
jurisprudential precept is the absence of the opportunity to cross-examine.[19] The right is a personal one and
may be waived expressly or impliedly. There is an implied waiver when the party was given the opportunity to
confront and cross-examine an opposing witness but failed to take advantage of it for reasons attributable to
himself alone.[20] If by his actuations, the accused lost his opportunity to cross-examine wholly or in part the
witnesses against him, his right to cross-examine is impliedly waived.[21] The testimony given on direct
examination of the witness will be received or allowed to remain in the record.[22]
In this case, the original records show that after several resettings, the initial trial for the presentation by
the prosecution of its evidence-in-chief was set on November 18, 1997 and December 5, 1997, both at 9:00
a.m.[23] Rodolfo testified on direct examination on November 18, 1997. The counsel of Juan and Victor forthwith
commenced his cross-examination of the witness but because of the manifestation of said counsel that he
cannot finish his cross-examination, the court ordered the continuation thereof to December 5, 1997.[24] On
December 5, 1997, Rodolfo did not appear before the court for the continuation of his cross-examination but
Rosemarie Manio, the widow of the victim did. The prosecution presented her as witness. Her testimony was
terminated. The court ordered the continuation of the trial for the cross-examination of Rodolfo on January 20,
1998 at 8:30 a.m.[25] During the trial on January 20, 1998, Rodolfo was present but accused-appellants counsel
was absent. The court issued an order declaring that for failure of said counsel to appear before the court for
his cross-examination of Rodolfo, Victor and Juan waived their right to continue with the cross-examination of
said witness.[26] During the trial set for February 3, 1998, the counsel of Juan and Victor appeared but did not
move for a reconsideration of the courts order dated January 20, 1998 and for the recall of Rodolfo Cacatian
for further cross-examination. It behooved counsel for Juan and Victor to file said motion and pray that the trial
court order the recall of Rodolfo on the witness stand. Juan and Victor cannot just fold their arms and supinely
wait for the prosecution or for the trial court to initiate the recall of said witness. Indeed, the Court held
in Fulgado vs. Court of Appeals, et al:
xxx

The task of recalling a witness for cross examination is, in law, imposed on the party who wishes to exercise said
right. This is so because the right, being personal and waivable, the intention to utilize it must be expressed. Silence or
failure to assert it on time amounts to a renunciation thereof. Thus, it should be the counsel for the opposing party who
should move to cross-examine plaintiffs witnesses. It is absurd for the plaintiff himself to ask the court to schedule the
cross-examination of his own witnesses because it is not his obligation to ensure that his deponents are cross-
examined. Having presented his witnesses, the burden shifts to his opponent who must now make the appropriate
move. Indeed, the rule of placing the burden of the case on plaintiffs shoulders can be construed to extremes as what
happened in the instant proceedings. [27]

The trial was reset to March 31, April 17 and 24, 1998, all at 8:30 a.m. because of the non-availability of
the other witnesses of the prosecution.[28] On March 31, 1998, the prosecution presented Dr. Alejandro
Tolentino, PO2 Rene de la Cruz and Romulo Digap. During the trial on April 17, 1998, the counsel of Juan and
Victor failed to appear. The trial was reset to June 3, 19 and 26, 1998.[29] The trial scheduled on June 3, 1998
was cancelled due to the absence of the counsel of Juan and Victor. The court issued an order appointing Atty.
Roberto Ramirez as counsel for accused-appellants.[30]
During the trial on August 26, 1998, Atty. Ramirez appeared in behalf of Juan and Victor. The prosecution
rested its case after the presentation of SPO2 Romeo Meneses and formally offered its documentary
evidence. The next trial was set on September 23, 1998 at 8:30 a.m.[31] On November 11, 1998, Juan and
Victor commenced the presentation of their evidence with the testimony of Victor.[32] They rested their case on
January 27, 1999 without any evidence adduced by Juan.
Juan and Victor did not even file any motion to reopen the case before the trial court rendered its decision
to allow them to cross-examine Rodolfo. They remained mute after judgment was rendered against them by
the trial court.Neither did they file any petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals for the nullification of the
Order of the trial court dated January 20, 1998 declaring that they had waived their right to cross-examine
Rodolfo. It was only on appeal to this Court that Juan and Victor averred for the first time that they were
deprived of their right to cross-examine Rodolfo. It is now too late in the day for Juan and Victor to do so. The
doctrine of estoppel states that if one maintains silence when in conscience he ought to speak, equity will
debar him from speaking when in conscience he ought to remain silent. He who remains silent when he ought
to speak cannot be heard to speak when he should be silent.[33]
The contention of accused-appellants Juan and Victor that Rodolfo and Romulo failed to identify them as
the perpetrators of the crime charged is disbelieved by the trial court, thus:

As can be gathered from the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution, on September 28, 1996, the accused boarded
at around 3:00 a.m. a Five Star Bus driven by Rodolfo Cacatian, bound to Pangasinan, in Camachile, Balintawak, Quezon
City.Twenty (20) minutes or so later, when the bus reached the vicinity of Nabuag, Plaridel, Bulacan, along the North
Espressway, the accused with guns in hand suddenly stood up and announced a hold-up. Simultaneously with the
announcement of a hold-up, Escote fired his gun upwards. Acuyan, meanwhile, took the gun of a man seated at the
back. Both then went on to take the money and valuables of the passengers, including the bus conductors collections in
the amount of P6,000.00. Thereafter, the duo approached the man at the back telling him in the vernacular Pasensiya ka na
pare, papatayin ka namin. Baril mo rin ang papatay sa iyo. They pointed their guns at him and fired several shots
oblivious of the plea for mercy of their victim. After the shooting, the latter collapsed on the floor. The two (2) then went
back at the front portion of the bus behind the drivers seat and were overheard by the bus driver, Cacatian, talking how
easy it was to kill a man. The robbery and the killing were over in 25 minutes.Upon reaching the Mexico overpass of the
Expressway in Pampanga, the two (2) got off the bus. The driver drove the bus to the Mabalacat Police Station and
reported the incident. During the investigation conducted by the police, it was found out that the slain passenger was a
policeman, SPO1 Jose C. Manio, Jr. of the Caloocan City Police Department.

The above version came from Rodolfo Cacatian and Romulo Digap, bus driver and conductor, respectively, of the ill-
fated Five Star Bus.[34]

The Court agrees with the trial court. It may be true that Romulo was frightened when Juan and Victor
suddenly announced a holdup and fired their guns upward, but it does not follow that he and Rodolfo failed to
have a good look at Juan and Victor during the entire time the robbery was taking place. The Court has held in
a catena of cases that it is the most natural reaction of victims of violence to strive to see the appearance of
the perpetrators of the crime and to observe the manner in which the crime was committed.[35] Rodolfo and
Romulo had a good look at both Juan and Victor before, during and after they staged the robbery and before
they alighted from the bus. The evidence on record shows that when Juan and Victor boarded the bus and
while the said vehicle was on its way to its destination, Romulo stationed himself by the door of the bus located
in the mid-section of the vehicle. The lights inside the bus were on. Juan seated himself in the middle row of
the passengers seat near the center aisle while Victor stood near the door of the bus about a meter or so from
Romulo.[36] Romulo, Juan and Victor were near each other. Moreover, Juan divested Romulo of his collection
of the fares from the passengers.[37] Romulo thus had a face-to-face encounter with Juan. After shooting SPO1
Manio, Jr. at the rear portion of the bus, Juan and Victor passed by where Romulo was standing and gave their
instructions to him. Considering all the facts and circumstances, there is no iota of doubt that Romulo saw and
recognized Juan and Victor before, during and after the heist.[38] Rodolfo looked many times on the rear, side
and center view mirrors to observe the center and rear portions of the bus before and during the robbery.
Rodolfo thus saw Juan and Victor stage the robbery and kill SPO1 Manio, Jr. with impunity:
xxx
Q So, the announcement of hold-up was ahead of the firing of the gun?
A Yes, sir.
Q And before the actual firing of the gun it was even still said bad words before saying the hold-up?
A After they fired the gun they uttered bad words, sir.
Q Mr. Witness before the announcement of the hold-up you do not have any idea that you will
encounter that nature which took place, is that correct?
A None, sir.
Q Within the two (2) year[s] period that you are plying the route of Manila to Bolinao that was your first
experience of hold-up?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the speed of above 70 kilometers per hour your total attention is focus in front of the road,
correct, Mr. witness?
A Once in a while the driver look at the side mirror and the rear view mirror, sir.
Q Before the announcement there was no reason for you to look at any at the rear mirror, correct, Mr.
witness?
Court:
Every now and then they usually look at the side mirror and on the rear, that was his statement.
Atty. Osorio:
(to the witness)
Q I am asking him if there was no reason for him....
Fiscal:
Before the announcement of hold-up, there was no mention.
Court:
Every now and then.
Atty. Osorio:
(to the witness)
Q When you said every now and then, how often is it, Mr. witness?
A I cannot tell how often but I used to look at the mirror once in a while, sir.
Q How many mirror do you have, Mr. witness?
A Four (4), sir.
Q Where are these located?
A Two (2) on the side mirror, center mirror and rear view mirror, sir.
Q The two side mirror protruding outside the bus?
A Yes, sir, they are in the side of the bus, sir.
Q One of them is located on the left and the other on the right, correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q You only look at the side mirror when you are going to over take, Mr. witness?
A No, sir.
Q Where is this center mirror located, Mr. witness?
A In the center, sir.
Q What is the purpose of that?
A So that I can see the passengers if they are already settled so that I can start the engine, sir.
Q What about the remaining mirror?
A Rear view mirror, sir.
Q What is the purpose and where is it located?
A The rear view is located just above my head just to check the passengers, sir.
Q So that the center mirror and the rear view mirror has the same purpose?
A They are different, sir.
Q How do you differentiate of (sic) one from the other?
A The center mirror is used to check the center aisle while the rear mirror is for the whole view of the
passengers, sir.
Q If you are going to look at any of your side mirrors, you will never see any passengers, correct, Mr.
witness?
A None, sir.
Q If you will look at your center mirror you will only see the aisle and you will never see any portion of
the body of your passengers?
A Yes, sir.
Q Seated passengers?
A It is only focus (sic) on the middle aisle sir.
Q If you look at your rear mirror, you will only see the top portion of the head of your passengers,
correct?
A Only the portion of their head because they have different hight (sic), sir.
Q You will never see any head of your passengers if they were seated from the rear mirror portion,
correct, Mr. witness?
A Yes, sir.
Q Before the announcement of hold-up, all of your passengers were actually sleeping?
A Some of my passengers were sleeping, some were not, sir.
Q But you will agree Mr. witness that when you said every now and then you are using your mirror? It
is only a glance, correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q And by mere glancing, Mr. witness you were not able to identify any person on the basis of any of
your mirror, correct?
A If only a glance but when I look at him I can recognize him, sir.
Q You agree a while ago by every now and then it is by glancing, as a driver, Mr. witness by your side
mirror?
A Not all glancing, there are times when you want to recognize a person you look at him intently, sir.
Q The purposes of your mirror inside your Bus is mainly of the safety of your passengers on board, Mr.
witness?
A Yes, sir.
Q And as a driver, Mr. witness, you do not used (sic) your mirror to identify the person particularly
when you are crossing (sic) at a speed of 70 kilometers per hour?
A I do that, sir.
Q How long Mr. witness can you focus your eyes on any of these mirror before getting back your eyes
into the main road?
A Seconds only, sir.
Q When you said seconds, for how long the most Mr. witness that you can do to fix your eyes on any
of your mirrors and the return back of (sic) your eyes into the main road?
A Two seconds, sir.
Q At that time Mr. witness, that you were travelling at about 70 kilometers you were glancing every
now and then on any of your mirrors at about two seconds, correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q And when you heard the announcement of hold-up your natural reaction is to look either at the
center mirror or rear mirror for two seconds, correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q And you were instructed Mr. witness to even accelerate your speed upon the announcement of
hold-up?
A No sir, they just told me to continue my driving, sir.
Fiscal:
May I request the vernacular alalay ka lang, steady ka lang.
Atty. Osorio:
(to the witness)
Q Steady at what speed?
A 70 to 80, sir.
Q What is the minimum speed, Mr. witness for Buses along North Expressway?
A 60 kilometers, sir.
Q Are you sure of that 60 kilometers, minimum? Are you sure of that?
A Yes, sir.
Q That is what you know within the two (2) years that you are driving? Along the North Expressway?
A Yes, sir.
Q And while you were at the precise moment, Mr. witness, you were being instructed to continue
driving, you were not looking to anybody except focus yours eyes in front of the road?
Fiscal:
May I request the vernacular. Nakikiramdam ako.
Atty. Osorio:
(to the witness)
Q Thats what you are doing?
A During the time they were gathering the money from my passengers, that is the time when I look at
them, sir.
Q For two seconds, correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q Which of the four (4) mirrors that you are looking at within two seconds, Mr. witness you said you
are nakikiramdam?
A The rear view mirror, sir.
Q The Bus that you were driving is not an air con bus?
A Ordinary bus, sir.
Q And at what time your passengers, most of your passengers were already sleep (sic), Mr. witness?
A Most of my passengers, sir. Some of my passengers were still sleep (sic), sir.
Q And the lights inside the Bus are off, correct Mr. witness?
A The lights were on, sir.
Q While the passengers were sleep (sic) the light was still on, Mr. witness, at the time of the trip.?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, Mr. witness when the hold-up was announced and then when you look for two seconds in the
rear mirror you were not able to see any one, you were only sensing what is happening inside
your bus?
A I saw something, sir.
Q You saw something in front of your Bus? You can only see inside when you are going to look at the
mirror?
A Yes, sir.
Q That is the only thing that you see every now and then, you said you were looking at the mirror?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many times, Mr. witness did you look Mr. witness at the rear mirror during the entire occurance
(sic) of the alleged hold-up?
A There were many times, sir.
Q The most that you can remember, please inform the Honorable Court? During the occurance (sic)
of the alleged hold-up, Mr. witness?
A I cannot estimate, sir.
Q How long did the alleged hold-up took place?
A More or less 25 minutes, sir.[39]
When Rodolfo gave his sworn statement to the police investigators in Plaridel, Bulacan after the robbery,
he described the felons. When asked by the police investigators if he could identify the robbers if he see them
again, Rodolfo declared that he would be able to identify them:
8. T: Natatandaan mo ba kung ano ang itsura ng dalawang lalaki na nanghold-up sa minamaneho
mong bus?
S: Halos magkasing taas, 54 o 55 katam-taman ang pangangatawan, parehong nakapantalon ng
maong naka-suot ng jacket na maong, parehong naka rubber shoes at pareho ring naka
sumbrero.
9. T: Kung sakali bang makikita mo pa ang mga ito ay makikilala mo pa sila?
S: Makikilala ko po sila.[40]
When asked to identify the robbers during the trial, Rodolfo spontaneously pointed to and identified Juan
and Victor:
QFiscal:
(to the witness)
xxx
Q Those two man (sic) who stated that it was a hold-up inside the bus and who fired the gun are they
inside the Court room (sic) today?
A Yes, maam.
Q Point to us?
Interpreter:
Witness pointing to a man wearing red T-shirt and when asked his name answered Victor Acuyan
and the man wearing green T-shirt and when asked his name answered Juan Gonzales.[41]
For his part, Romulo likewise spontaneously pointed to and identified Juan and Victor as the culprits when
asked by the prosecutor to identify the robbers from among those in the courtroom:
xxx
Q You said that you were robbed inside the bus, how does (sic) the robbing took place?
A They announced a hold up maam, afterwards, they confiscated the money of the passengers
including my collections.
Q You said they who announced the hold up, whose (sic) these they you are referring to?
A Those two (2), maam.
Interpreter:
Witness pointing to the two accused.
Public Pros.:
May we request that the accused be identified, Your Honor.
Court:
(to both accused)
What are your names?
A Juan Escote, Your Honor. Victor Acuyan, Your Honor.
Public Pros.:
May we know from the accused if his name is Juan Escote Gonzales because he just said Juan
Escote. In the Information, it is one Juan Gonzales, Jr., so, we can change, Your Honor.[42]
Moreover, when he was accosted by SPO3 Romeo Meneses on October 25, 1997 in Tarlac, Tarlac, Juan
was in possession of the identification card[43] of the slain police officer. Juan failed to explain to the trial court
how and under what circumstances he came into possession of said identification card. Juan must necessarily
be considered the author of the robbery and the killing of SPO1 Manio, Jr. In People v. Mantung,[44] we held:

xxx [T]he recovery of part of the loot from Mantung or the time of his arrest gave rise to a legal presumption of his
guilt. As this Court has held, [I]n the absence of an explanation of how one has come into possession of stolen effects
belonging to a person wounded and treacherously killed, he must necessarily be considered the author of the aggression
and death of the said person and of the robbery committed on him.

While police investigators did not place Juan and Victor in a police line-up for proper identification by
Rodolfo and Romulo, it cannot thereby be concluded that absent such line-up, their identification by Romulo
and Rodolfo as the authors of the robbery with homicide was unreliable. There is no law or police regulation
requiring a police line-up for proper identification in every case. Even if there was no police line-up, there could
still be proper and reliable identification as long as such identification was not suggested or instigated to the
witness by the police.[45] In this case, there is no evidence that the police officers had supplied or even
suggested to Rodolfo and Romulo the identities of Juan and Victor as the perpetrators of the robbery and the
killing of SPO1 Manio, Jr.

The Felony Committed by Juan and Victor

The Court finds that the trial court committed no error in convicting Juan and Victor of robbery with
homicide. Article 294, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act 7659, reads:

Art. 294. - Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons. - Penalties. - Any person guilty of robbery with the
use of violence against or intimidation of any person shall suffer:

1. The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death, when by reason or on occasion of the robbery, the crime of homicide shall
have been committed, or when the robbery shall have been accompanied by rape or intentional mutilation or arson.

To warrant the conviction of Juan and Victor for the said charge, the prosecution was burdened to prove
the confluence of the following essential elements:

xxx (a) the taking of personal property with the use of violence or intimidation against a person; (b) the property thus
taken belongs to another; (c) the taking is characterized by intent to gain or animus lucrandi and (d) on the occasion of the
robbery or by reason thereof, the crime of homicide, which is therein used in a generic sense, was committed. xxx[46]

The intent to rob must precede the taking of human life.[47] In robbery with homicide, so long as the
intention of the felons was to rob, the killing may occur before, during or after the robbery. In People v.
Barut,[48] the Court held that:

In the controlling Spanish version of article 294, it is provided that there is robbery with homicide cuando con motivo o
con ocasin del robo resultare homicidio. Basta que entre aquel este exista una relacin meramente ocasional. No se requiere
que el homicidio se cometa como medio de ejecucin del robo, ni que el culpable tenga intencin de matar, el delito existe
segn constanta jurisprudencia, aun cuando no concurra animo homicida. Incluso si la muerte sobreviniere por mero
accidente, siempre que el homicidio se produzca con motivo con ocasin del robo, siendo indiferente que la muerte sea
anterior, coetnea o posterior a ste (2 Cuello Calon, Derecho Penal, 1975 14th Ed. P. 872).

Even if the victim of robbery is other than the victim of the homicide committed on the occasion of or by
reason of the robbery, nevertheless, there is only one single and indivisible felony of robbery with homicide. All
the crimes committed on the occasion or by reason of the robbery are merged and integrated into a single and
indivisible felony of robbery with homicide. This was the ruling of the Supreme Court of Spain on September 9,
1886, et sequiturcited by this Court in People v. Mangulabnan, et al.[49]

We see, therefore, that in order to determine the existence of the crime of robbery with homicide it is enough that a
homicide would result by reason or on the occasion of the robbery (Decision of the Supreme Court of Spain of November
26, 1892, and January 7, 1878, quoted in 2 Hidalgos Penal Code, p. 267 and 259-260, respectively). This High Tribunal
speaking of the accessory character of the circumstances leading to the homicide, has also held that it is immaterial that
the death would supervene by mere accident (Decision of September 9, 1886; October 22, 1907; April 30, 1910 and July
14, 1917), provided that the homicide be produced by reason or on occasion of the robbery, inasmuch as it is only
the result obtained, without reference or distinction as to the circumstances, causes, modes or persons intervening in the
commission of the crime, that has to be taken into consideration (Decision of January 12, 1889 see Cuello Calons Codigo
Penal, p. 501-502).

Case law has it that whenever homicide has been committed by reason of or on the occasion of the
robbery, all those who took part as principals in the robbery will also be held guilty as principals of robbery with
homicide although they did not take part in the homicide, unless it appears that they endeavored to prevent the
homicide.[50]
In this case, the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Juan and Victor conspired and
confabulated together in robbing the passengers of the Five Star Bus of their money and valuables and
Romulo of his collections of the fares of the passengers and in killing SPO1 Manio, Jr. with impunity on the
occasion of the robbery. Hence, both Juan and Victor are guilty as principals by direct participation of the
felony of robbery with homicide under paragraph 1, Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A.
7659, punishable by reclusion perpetua to death.

The Proper Penalty

The trial court imposed the supreme penalty of death on Juan and Victor for robbery with homicide,
defined in Article 294, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, punishable with reclusion perpetua. Under
Article 63, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code, the felons should be meted the supreme penalty of death
when the crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance attendant in the commission of the crime
absent any mitigating circumstance. The trial court did not specify in the decretal portion of its decision the
aggravating circumstances attendant in the commission of the crime mandating the imposition of the death
penalty. However, it is evident from the findings of facts contained in the body of the decision of the trial court
that it imposed the death penalty on Juan and Victor on its finding that they shot SPO1 Manio, Jr.
treacherously on the occasion of or by reason of the robbery:
xxx

The two (2) accused are incomparable in their ruthlessness and base regard for human life. After stripping the passengers
of their money and valuables, including the firearm of the victim, they came to decide to execute the latter seemingly
because he was a police officer. They lost no time pouncing him at the rear section of the bus, aimed their firearms at him
and, in a derisive and humiliating tone, told him, before pulling the trigger, that they were rather sorry but they are going
to kill him with his own gun; and thereafter, they simultaneously fired point blank at the hapless policeman who was
practically on his knees begging for his life. Afterwhich, they calmly positioned themselves at the front boasting for all to
hear, that killing a man is like killing a chicken (Parang pumapatay ng manok). Escote, in particular, is a class by himself
in callousness. xxx.[51]
The Court agrees with the trial court that treachery was attendant in the commission of the crime. There is
treachery when the following essential elements are present, viz: (a) at the time of the attack, the victim was
not in a position to defend himself; and (b) the accused consciously and deliberately adopted the particular
means, methods or forms of attack employed by him.[52] The essence of treachery is the sudden and
unexpected attack by an aggressor on the unsuspecting victim, depriving the latter of any chance to defend
himself and thereby ensuring its commission without risk of himself. Treachery may also be appreciated even if
the victim was warned of the danger to his life where he was defenseless and unable to flee at the time of the
infliction of the coup de grace.[53] In the case at bar, the victim suffered six wounds, one on the mouth, another
on the right ear, one on the shoulder, another on the right breast, one on the upper right cornea of the sternum
and one above the right iliac crest. Juan and Victor were armed with handguns. They first disarmed SPO1
Manio, Jr. and then shot him even as he pleaded for dear life.When the victim was shot, he was
defenseless. He was shot at close range, thus insuring his death. The victim was on his way to rejoin his family
after a hard days work. Instead, he was mercilessly shot to death, leaving his family in grief for his untimely
demise. The killing is a grim example of the utter inhumanity of man to his fellowmen.
The issues that now come to fore are (1) whether or not treachery is a generic aggravating circumstance
in robbery with homicide; and if in the affirmative, (b) whether treachery may be appreciated against Juan and
Victor. On the first issue, we rule in the affirmative. This Court has ruled over the years[54] that treachery is a
generic aggravating circumstance in the felony of robbery with homicide, a special complex crime (un delito
especial complejo) and at the same time a single and indivisible offense (uno solo indivisible).[55] However, this
Court in two cases has held that robbery with homicide is a crime against property and hence treachery which
is appreciated only to crimes against persons should not be appreciated as a generic aggravating
circumstance.[56] It held in another case that treachery is not appreciated in robbery with rape precisely
because robbery with rape is a crime against property.[57] These rulings of the Court find support in case law
that in robbery with homicide or robbery with rape, homicide or rape are merely incidents of the robbery, with
robbery being the main purpose and object of the criminal.[58] Indeed, in People vs. Cando,[59] two distinguished
members of this Court advocated a review of the doctrine that treachery is a generic aggravating circumstance
in robbery with homicide. They opined that treachery is applicable only to crimes against persons. After all,
in People vs. Bariquit,[60] this Court in a per curiam decision promulgated in year 2000 declared that treachery
is applicable only to crimes against persons. However, this Court held in People vs. Cando that treachery is a
generic aggravating circumstance in robbery with homicide, citing its prior rulings that in robbery with homicide,
treachery is a generic aggravating circumstance when the victim of homicide is killed with treachery. This Court
opted not to apply its ruling earlier that year in People vs. Bariquit.
Legal Luminaries in criminal law and eminent commentators of the Revised Penal Code are not in full
accord either. Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino (Retired) says that treachery is appreciated only in crimes
against persons as defined in Title 10, Book Two of the Code.[61] Chief Justice Luis B. Reyes (Retired) also is
of the opinion that treachery is applicable only to crimes against persons.[62] However, Justice Florenz D.
Regalado (Retired) is of a different view.[63] He says that treachery cannot be considered in robbery but can be
appreciated insofar as the killing is concerned, citing the decisions of this Court in People vs. Balagtas[64] for
the purpose of determining the penalty to be meted on the felon when the victim of homicide is killed with
treachery.
It must be recalled that by Royal Order of December 17, 1886 the 1850 Penal Code in force in Spain, as
amended by the Codigo Penal Reformado de 1870 was applied in the Philippines. The Penal Code of 1887 in
the Philippines was amended by Act 3815, now known as the Revised Penal Code, which was enacted and
published in Spanish. In construing the Old Penal Code and the Revised Penal Code, this Court had accorded
respect and persuasive, if not conclusive effect to the decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain interpreting and
construing the 1850 Penal Code of Spain, as amended by Codigo Penal Reformado de 1870.[65]
Article 14, paragraph 16 of the Revised Penal Code reads:

ART. 14. Aggravating circumstances. The following are aggravating circumstances:

xxx
16. That the act be committed with treachery (alevosia). There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes
against the person, employing means, methods, or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to
insure its execution, without risk to himself arising from the defense which the offended party might make.

The law was taken from Chapter IV, Article 10, paragraph 2 of the 1860 Penal Code and the Codigo Penal
Reformado de 1870 of Spain which reads:

Art. 10 ...2. Ejecutar el hecho con alevosia. Hay alevosia cuando el culpable comete cualquiera de los delitos contra las
personas empleando medios, modos o for mas en la ejecucion que tiendan directa y especialmente a asegurarla sin riesgo
para su persona, que proceda de la defensa que pudiera hacer el ofendido. xxx

Article 14, paragraph 16 of the Revised Penal Code is a reproduction of the 1850 Penal Code of Spain
and the Codigo Penal Reformado de 1870 with a slight difference. In the latter law, the words las personas (the
persons) are used, whereas in Article 14, paragraph 6, of the Revised Penal Code, the words the person are
used.
Going by the letter of the law, treachery is applicable only to crimes against persons as enumerated in
Title Eight, Chapters One and Two, Book II of the Revised Penal Code. However, the Supreme Court of Spain
has consistently applied treachery to robbery with homicide, classified as a crime against property. Citing
decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain, Cuello Calon, a noted commentator of the Spanish Penal Code says
that despite the strict and express reference of the penal code to treachery being applicable to persons,
treachery also applies to other crimes such as robbery with homicide:[66]

Aun cuando el Codigo solo se refiere a los delitos contra las personas, cabe estimarla en los que no perteneciendo a este
titulo se determinan por muerte o lesiones, como, en el robo con homicidio, y en el homicidio del Jefe del Estado que es
un delito contra la seguridad interior del Estado, y no obstante la referencia estricta del texto legal a los delitos contra las
personas no es la alevosia aplicable a la mayoria de ellos, no lo es en el homicidio, pues como su concurrencia lo cualifica
lo transforma en delito distinto, en asesinato, ni en el homicidio consentido (art. 409), ni en la ria tumultuaria (art. 408) ni
en el infanticidio (art. 410). xxx. [67]

Viada also says that treachery is appreciated in crimes against persons (delitos contra personas) and also
in robbery with homicide (robo con homicidio).[68]

Contra las personas. - Luego la circunstancia de alevosia solo puede apreciarse en los delitos provistos desde el art. 417 al
447, y en algun otro, como el de robo con homicidio, atentario, a la vez que contra la propriedad, contra la persona.

Thus, treachery is a generic aggravating circumstance to robbery with homicide although said crime is
classified as a crime against property and a single and indivisible crime. Treachery is not a qualifying
circumstance because as ruled by the Supreme Court of Spain in its decision dated September 11, 1878, the
word homicide is used in its broadest and most generic sense.[69]
Article 62, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code provides that in diminishing or increasing the penalty
for a crime, aggravating circumstances shall be taken into account. However, aggravating circumstances which
in themselves constitute a crime specially punishable by law or which are included by the law in defining a
crime and prescribing a penalty therefor shall not be taken into account for the purpose of increasing the
penalty.[70] Under paragraph 2 of the law, the same rule shall apply with respect to any aggravating
circumstances inherent in the crime to such a degree that it must of necessity accompany the commission
thereof.

1. Aggravating circumstances which in themselves constitute a crime specially punishable by law or which are included
by the law in defining a crime and prescribing the penalty therefor shall not be taken into account for the purpose of
increasing the penalty.

xxx
2. The same rule shall apply with respect to any aggravating circumstances inherent in the crime to such a degree that it
must be of necessity accompany the commission thereof.

Treachery is not an element of robbery with homicide. Neither does it constitute a crime specially
punishable by law nor is it included by the law in defining the crime of robbery with homicide and prescribing
the penalty therefor.Treachery is likewise not inherent in the crime of robbery with homicide. Hence, treachery
should be considered as a generic aggravating circumstance in robbery with homicide for the imposition of the
proper penalty for the crime.
In its Sentencia dated March 14, 1877, the Supreme Court of Spain declared that treachery is a generic
aggravating circumstance not only in crimes against persons but also in robbery with homicide. The high court
of Spain applied Article 79 of the Spanish Penal Code (Article 62 of the Revised Penal Code) and ruled that
since treachery is not a constitutive element of the crime of robbery with homicide nor is it inherent in said
crime, without which it cannot be committed, treachery is an aggravating circumstance to said crime. The high
court of Spain was not impervious of the fact that robbery with homicide is classified as a crime against
property. Indeed, it specifically declared that the classification of robbery with homicide as a crime against
property is irrelevant and inconsequential in the application of treachery. It further declared that it would be
futile to argue that in crimes against property such as robbery with homicide, treachery would have no
application. This is so, the high tribunal ruled, because when robbery is coupled with crimes committed against
persons, the crime is not only an assault (ataca) on the property of the victims but also of the victims
themselves (ofende):

xxx que la circunstancia agravante de alevosia ni es constitutiva del delito complejo de robo y homicidio, ni de tal modo
inherente que sin ella no pueda cometerse, sin que quepa arguir que en los delitos contra la propiedad no debe aquella
tener aplicacion,porque cuando estos son complejos de los que se cometen contra las personas, no solo se ataca a la
propiedad, sino que se ofende a estas. xxx[71]

In fine, in the application of treachery as a generic aggravating circumstance to robbery with


homicide, the law looks at the constituent crime of homicide which is a crime against persons and not
at the constituent crime of robbery which is a crime against property. Treachery is applied to the
constituent crime of homicide and not to the constituent crime of robbery of the special complex crime
of robbery with homicide.
The crime of robbery with homicide does not lose its classification as a crime against property or
as a special complex and single and indivisible crime simply because treachery is appreciated as a
generic aggravating circumstance. Treachery merely increases the penalty for the crime conformably
with Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code absent any generic mitigating circumstance.
In its Sentencia, dated July 9, 1877, the high tribunal of Spain also ruled that when the victim of robbery is
killed with treachery, the said circumstance should be appreciated as a generic aggravating circumstance in
robbery with homicide:

xxx que si aparece probado que el procesado y su co-reo convinieron en matar a un conocido suyo, compaero de viaje,
para lo cual desviaron cautelosamente los carros que guiaban, en uno de los cuales iba el interfecto, dirigiendolos por otro
camino que conducia a un aljibon, y al llegar a este, valiendose de engao para hacer bajar a dicho interfecto, se lanzaron
de improviso sobre el, tirandolo en tierra, robandole el dinero, la manta y los talegos que llevaba, y atandole al pie una
piedra de mucho peso, le arrojaron con ella a dicho aljibon, dados estos hechos, no cabe duda que constituyen el delito
complejo del art. 516, num. I, con la circunstancia agravante de alevosia, puesto que los medios, forma y modos
empleados en la ejecucion del crimen tendieron directa y especialmente a asegurarla sin riesgo para sus autores,
procedente de la defensa del ofendido.[72]

In sum then, treachery is a generic aggravating circumstance in robbery with homicide when the victim of
homicide is killed by treachery.
On the second issue, we also rule in the affirmative. Article 62, paragraph 4 of the Revised Penal Code
which was taken from Article 80 of the Codigo Penal Reformado de 1870,[73] provides that circumstances which
consist in the material execution of the act, or in the means employed to accomplish it, shall serve to aggravate
or mitigate the liability of those persons only who had knowledge of them at the time of the execution of the act
or their cooperation therein. The circumstances attending the commission of a crime either relate to the
persons participating in the crime or into its manner of execution or to the means employed. The latter has a
direct bearing upon the criminal liability of all the accused who have knowledge thereof at the time of the
commission of the crime or of their cooperation thereon.[74] Accordingly, the Spanish Supreme Court held in
its Sentencia dated December 17, 1875 that where two or more persons perpetrate the crime of robbery with
homicide, the generic aggravating circumstance of treachery shall be appreciated against all of the felons who
had knowledge of the manner of the killing of victims of homicide, with the ratiocination that:

xxx si por la Ley basta haberse ejecutado un homicidio simple con motivo ocasin del robo para la imposicion de la pena
del art. 516, num. I, no puede sere ni aun discutible que, concurriendo la agravante de alevosia, se aumente la
criminalidad de los delincuentes; siendo aplicable a todos los autores del hecho indivisible, porque no es circunstancia que
afecte a la personalidad del delincuente, de las que habla el art. 80 del Codigo penal en su primera parte, sino que consiste
en la ejecusion material del hecho y en los medios empleados para llevarle a cabo, cuando de ellos tuvieron conocimiento
todos los participantes en el mismo por el concierto previo y con las condiciones establecidad en la segunda parte del
citado articulo.[75]

Be that as it may, treachery cannot be appreciated against Juan and Victor in the case at bar because the
same was not alleged in the Information as mandated by Section 8, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedures which reads:

Sec. 8. Designation of the offense. - The complaint or information shall state the designation of the offense given by the
statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense and specify its qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If
there is no designation of the offense, reference shall be made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.

Although at the time the crime was committed, generic aggravating circumstance need not be alleged in
the Information, however, the general rule had been applied retroactively because if it is more favorable to the
accused.[76]Even if treachery is proven but it is not alleged in the information, treachery cannot aggravate the
penalty for the crime.
There being no modifying circumstances in the commission of the felony of robbery with homicide, Juan
and Victor should each be meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua conformably with Article 63 of the Revised
Penal Code.

Civil Liability of Juan and Victor

The trial court awarded the total amount of P300,000.00 to the heirs of SPO1 Manio, Jr. The court did not
specify whether the said amounts included civil indemnity for the death of the victim, moral damages and the
lost earnings of the victim as a police officer of the PNP. The Court shall thus modify the awards granted by the
trial court.
Since the penalty imposed on Juan and Victor is reclusion perpetua, the heirs of the victim are entitled to
civil indemnity in the amount of P50,000.00. The heirs are also entitled to moral damages in the amount
of P50,000.00, Rosemarie Manio having testified on the factual basis thereof.[77] Considering that treachery
aggravated the crime, the heirs are also entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00. This
Court held in People vs. Catubig[78] that the retroactive application of Section 8, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules
of Criminal Procedure should not impair the right of the heirs to exemplary damages which had already
accrued when the crime was committed prior to the effectivity of the said rule. Juan and Victor are also jointly
and severally liable to the said heirs in the total amount of P30,000.00 as actual damages, the prosecution
having adduced evidence receipts for said amounts. The heirs are not entitled to expenses allegedly incurred
by them during the wake as such expenses are not supported by receipts.[79] However, in lieu thereof, the heirs
are entitled to temperate damages in the amount of P20,000.00.[80]The service firearm of the victim was turned
over to the Evidence Custodian of the Caloocan City Police Station per order of the trial court on October 22,
1997.[81] The prosecution failed to adduce documentary evidence to prove the claim of Five Star Bus, Inc. in
the amount of P6,000.00. Hence, the award should be deleted. However, in lieu of actual damages, the bus
company is entitled to temperate damages in the amount of P3,000.00.[82]
The heirs are likewise entitled to damages for the lost earnings of the victim. The evidence on record
shows that SPO1 Manio, Jr. was born on August 25, 1958. He was killed on September 28, 1996 at the age of
38. He had a gross monthly salary as a member of the Philippine National Police of P8,065.00 or a gross
annual salary of P96,780.00. Hence, the heirs are entitled to the amount of P1,354,920.00 by way of lost
earnings of the victim computed, thus:

Age of the victim = 38 years old

Life expectancy = 2/3 x (80 age of the victim at the time of death)

= 2/3 x (80-38)

= 2/3 x 42

= 28 years

Gross Annual Income = gross monthly income x 12 months

= P8,065.00 x 12

= P96,780.00

Living Expenses = 50% of Gross Annual Income

= P96,780.00 x 0.5

= P48,390.00

Lost Earning Capacity = Life expectancy x [Gross Annual Income-

Living expenses]

= 28 x [P96,780.00 P48,390.00]

= 28 x P48,390.00

= P1,354,920.00

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Bulacan is hereby
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Accused-appellants Juan Gonzales Escote, Jr. and Victor Acuyan are
hereby found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the felony of robbery with homicide defined in Article 294,
paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code and, there being no modifying circumstances in the commission of the
felony, hereby metes on each of them the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA. Said accused-appellants are
hereby ordered to pay jointly and severally the heirs of the victim SPO1 Jose C. Manio, Jr. the amounts
of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, P1,349,920.00 for lost earnings, P30,000.00
as actual damages and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages. The award of P6,000.00 to the Five Star Bus, Inc.
is deleted. However, the said corporation is awarded the amount of P3,000.00 as temperate damages.
Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona,
Carpio-Morales, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Vitug J., please see separate opinion.
Ynares-Santiago, and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., join J. Vitugs separate opinion.
[1] Penned by Judge Basilio R. Gabo, Jr.
[2] Exhibit A.
[3] Exhibit H.
[4]
Exhibit E.
[5]
Exhibits A and G.
[6]
Exhibits C to C-4.
[7]
Exhibit B-1.
[8]
Exhibit H.
[9] Exhibit I.
[10] Exhibit F.
[11] Original Records of Crim. Case No. 443-M-97, p. 2.
[12] Ibid., p. 161.
[13] Id., p. 163.
[14] Id., p. 179.
[15]
Id., p. 175.
[16]
Rollo, p. 70.
[17]
Savory Luncheonette vs. Lakas ng Manggagawang Pilipino, 62 SCRA 258 (1975).
[18]
Fulgado, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 182 SCRA 81 (1990).
[19] People vs. Suplito, 314 SCRA 493 (1999).
[20] See note 16, supra.
[21] People vs. Digno, Jr. 250 SCRA 237 (1995).
[22] See note 17, supra.
[23] Original Records, p. 70.
[24] Ibid., p. 86.
[25]
Id., p. 89.
[26]
Id., p. 92.
[27]
See note 18, supra.
[28]
Original Records , p. 96.
[29] Ibid., p.107.
[30] Id., p. 113.
[31] Id., p. 157.
[32] Id., p. 172.
[33] 31 CORPUS JURIS SECUNDUM, 87, p. 494.
[34] Original Records, pp. 192-193.
[35]
People vs. Ofido, 342 SCRA 155 (2000).
[36]
TSN, Cacatian, November 18, 1997, pp. 6-7.
[37]
TSN, Digap, March 31, 1998, p. 22.
[38]
Ditche vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 327 SCRA 301 (2000).
[39] TSN, Cacatian, November 18, 1997, pp. 19-29.
[40] Exhibit A.
[41] Ibid., pp. 8-9.
[42] TSN, March 31, 1998, pp. 19-20.
[43] Exhibit H.
[44] 310 SCRA 819 (1999).
[45] People v. Lubong, 332 SCRA 672 (2000).
[46]
People vs. Nang, 289 SCRA 16 (1998).
[47]
People vs. Ponciano, 204 SCRA 627 (1991).
[48]
89 SCRA 14 (1979).
[49]
99 PHIL. 992 (1956).
[50] People vs. Cando, 344 SCRA 330 (2000).
[51] Original Records, pp. 194-195.
[52] People vs. Reyes, 287 SCRA 229 (1998).
[53] People vs. Bustos, 171 SCRA 243 (1989).
[54] e.g. People vs. Semaada, 103 Phil 790 (1958); People vs. Bautista, et al., 107 Phil 1091 (1960); People vs.
Tiongson, et al., 6 SCRA 431 (1962); People vs. Pedro, et al., 16 SCRA 57 (1966); People vs.
Sigayan, et al, 16 SCRA 839 (1966); People vs. Pujinio, et al., 27 SCRA 1185 (1969); People vs.
Saquing, et al., 30 SCRA 834 (1969); People vs. Cornelio, et al., 39 SCRA 435 (1971); People vs.
Repato, 91 SCRA 488 (1979); People vs. Pajanustan, 97 SCRA 699 (1980); People vs. Arcamo, et al.,
105 SCRA 707 (1981); People vs. Tintero, 111 SCRA 714 (1982); People vs. Gapasin, et al., 145
SCRA 178 (1986); People vs. Badilla, 185 SCRA 554 (1990); People vs. Manansala, 211 SCRA 66
(1992); People vs. Bechayda, 212 SCRA 336 (1992); People vs. Vivas, 232 SCRA 238 (1994);
People vs. Pacapac, et al., 248 SCRA 77 (1995); People vs. Mores, et al., 311 SCRA 342
(1999); People vs. Reyes, et al., 309 SCRA 622 (1999); and People vs. Abdul, et al., 310 SCRA 246
(1999).
[55] Sentencia de 17 de Diciembre de 1875 of the Supreme Court of Spain. In several cases, this Court held
that robbery with homicide is a special complex crime, e.g., People vs. Jarandilla, 339 SCRA
381(2000); People vs. Quibido, 338 SCRA 607 (2000); People vs. Aquino, 329 SCRA 247
(2000); People vs. Zuela, et al., 323 SCRA 589 (2000); People vs. Tao, 331 SCRA 449 (2000). In some
cases, this Court has held that robbery with homicide is a single and indivisible crime, e.g., People vs.
Labita, 99 Phil. 1068 (unreported [1956]); People vsAlfeche, Jr., 211 SCRA 770 (1992).
[56]
People vs. Timple, 237 SCRA 52 (1994); People vs. San Pedro, 95 SCRA 306 (1980).
[57]
People vs. Loseo, G.R. No. 5508-09, April 29, 1954 (unpublished). Under Republic Act 8383, rape is a
crime against persons.
[58]
People vs. Navales, 266 SCRA 569 (1997).
[59]
344 SCRA 330 (2000).
[60]
341 SCRA 600 (2000).
[61]
AQUINO, THE REVISED PENAL CODE, 1987 ed., Vol. I, p. 386.
[62]
REYES, THE REVISED PENAL CODE, 1993 ed., Vol. I, p. 412.
[63]
REGALADO, CRIMINAL LAW CONSPECTUS, 1st ed., p. 95.
[64]
68 Phil. 675 (1939)..
[65]
People vs. Mangulaban, 99 Phil. 992 (1956); People vs. Mesias, 65 Phil. 267 (1939); Marasigan vs. Robles,
55 O.G. 8297; United States vs. Samonte, L-3422, August 3, 1907; United States vs. Ipil, et al., 27 Phil
530 (1914), concurring opinion: United States vs. Landasan, 35 Phil 359 (1916).
[66]
CUELLO CALON DERECHO PENAL, 1960 ed., Vol. I, p. 592.
[67]
Decisions dated January 19, 1905, April 18, 1908, June 28, 1922 and December 18, 1947.
[68]
SALVADOR VIADA CODIGO PENAL REFORMADO DE 1870, Concordado y Comentado 5th ed. 1926,
Tomo II, p. 252. Articles 417 to 447 refer to crimes against persons under the Codigo Penal Reformado
de 1870. In Article 516, Title XIII, Chapter 1 of the Codigo Penal Reformado de 1870, robbery with
homicide is a crime against property.
[69] Cited in United States vs. Landasan, 35 Phil 359 (1916).
[70] Article 62, paragraphs 1 and 2 were taken from Article 79 of the Penal Code of Spain, viz:
No producen el efecto de aumentar la pena las circunstancias agravantes que por si mismas constituyeren un
delito especialmente penado por la Ley, o que esta haya expresado al describirlo y penarlo.
Tampoco lo producen aquellas circunstancias agravantes de tal manera inherentes al delito, que sin la
concurrencia de ellas no pudiera cometerse. xxx.
[71] Vide, Note 63, p. 254.
[72] Ibid., p. 255.
[73] Las circunstancias agravantes o atenuantes que consistieren en la disposicion moral del delincuente, en
sus relaciones particulares con el ofendido, o en otra causa personal, serviran para agravar o atenuar
la responsabilidad solo de aquello autores, complices o encubridores en quienes concurrieren.
Las que consistieren en la ejecucion material del hecho o en los medios empleados para realizarlo serviran
para agravar o atenuar la responsabilidad unicamente de los que tuvieren conocimiento de ellas en el
momento de la accion o de su cooperacion para el delito. xxx
[74]
United States vs. Ancheta, 15 Phil 43 (1910).
[75] Ibid.
[76] People vs. Onabia, 306 SCRA 23 (1999).
[77] People vs. Tao, 331 SCRA 449 (2000).
[78] 363 SCRA 621 (2000).
[79] People vs. Cordero, 263 SCRA 122 (1996).
[80] Article 2234, New Civil Code.
[81]
Original Record, p. 82.
[82]
See note 79.
 

 
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. Nos. 119987-88 October 12, 1995

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
HON. LORENZO B. VENERACION, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, National Capital
Judicial Region, Branch 47, Manila, HENRY LAGARTO y PETILLA and ERNESTO
CORDERO, respondents.

KAPUNAN, J.:

The sole issue in the case at bench involves a question of law. After finding that an accused individual in a
criminal case has, on the occasion of Rape, committed Homicide, is the judge allowed any discretion in
imposingeither the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua or Death?

The facts antecedent to the case before this Court, as narrated by petitioner, 1 involve the perpetration of acts
so bizarre and devoid of humanity as to horrify and numb the senses of all civilized men:

On August 2, 1994, the cadaver of a young girl, later identified as Angel Alquiza wrapped in a
sack and yellow table cloth tied with a nylon cord with both feet and left hand protruding from it
was seen floating along Del Pan St. near the corner of Lavesares St., Binondo, Manila.

When untied and removed from its cover, the lifeless body of the victim was seen clad only in a
light colored duster without her panties, with gaping wounds on the left side of the face, the left
chin, left ear, lacerations on her genitalia, and with her head bashed in.

On the basis of sworn statements of witnesses, booking sheets, arrest reports and the necropsy report of the
victim, Abundio Lagunday, a.k.a. Jr. Jeofrey of no fixed address, and Henry Lagarto y Petilla, of 288 Area H.
Parola Compound, Tondo, Manila were later charged with the crime of Rape with Homicide in an Information
dated August 8, 1994 filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila, National Capital Judicial Region. Said
Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 94-138071, reads:

That on or about August 2, 1994, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, conspiring
and confederating together with one alias "LANDO" and other persons whose true names,
identifies and present whereabouts are still unknown and helping one another, with treachery,
taking advantage of their superior strength and nocturnity, and ignominy, and with the use of
force and violence, that is, by taking ANGEL ALQUIZA y LAGMAN into a warehouse, covering
her mouth, slashing her vagina, hitting her head with a thick piece of wood and stabbing her
neck did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the person
of said ANGEL ALQUIZA y LAGMAN, a minor, seven (7) years of age, against the latter's will
and consent and on said occasion the said ABUNDIO LAGUNDAY, a.k.a. "LANDO" and others,
caused her fatal injuries which were the direct cause of her death immediately thereafter.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
Subsequently thereafter, Ernesto Cordero y Maristela, a.k.a. "Booster," of 1198 Sunflower St.,
Tondo, Manila, Rolando Manlangit y Mamerta, a.k.a. "Lando," of 1274 Kagitingan St., Tondo,
Manila, Richard Baltazar y Alino, a.k.a. "Curimao," also of 1274 Kagitingan St., Tondo, Manila,
and Catalino Yaon y Aberin, a.k.a. "Joel," of 1282 Lualhati St., Tondo, Manila were accused of
the same crime of Rape with Homicide in an Information dated August 11, 1994, docketed as
Criminal Case No. 94-138138, allegedly committed as follows:

That on or about the 2nd day of August, 1994, in the City of Manila, Philippines,
the said accused conspiring and confederating with ABUNDIO
LAGUNDAY Alias "JR," JEOFREY and HENRY LAGARTO y PETILLA who have
already been charged in the Regional Trial Court of Manila of the same offense
under Criminal Case No. 94-138071, and helping one another, with treachery,
taking advantage of their superior strength and nocturnity and ignominy, and with
the use of force and violence, that is, by taking ANGEL ALQUIZA y LAGMAN into
a pedicab, and once helpless, forcibly bringing her to a nearby warehouse,
covering her mouth, slashing her vagina, hitting her head with a thick piece of
wood and stabbing her neck, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have carnal knowledge of the person of said ANGEL ALQUIZA y
LAGMAN, a minor, seven (7) years of age, against the latter's will and consent
and on said occasion the said accused together with their confederates
ABUNDIO LAGARTO y PETILLA caused her fatal injuries which were the direct
cause of her death immediately thereafter.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

The two criminal cases were consolidated to Branch 47 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
presided over by respondent Judge.

Duly arraigned, all the accused, except Abundio Lagunday who was already dead, (allegedly
shot by police escorts after attempting to fire a gun he was able to grab from SPO1 D. Vidad on
August 12, 1994), pleaded "Not Guilty." Abundio Lagunday was dropped from the Information.

After trial and presentation of the evidence of the prosecution and the defense, the trial court rendered a
decision2 on January 31, 1995 finding the defendants Henry Lagarto y Petilla and Ernesto Cordero y Maristela
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape with Homicide and sentenced both accused with the
"penalty of reclusion perpetuawith all the accessories provided for by law." 3 Disagreeing with the sentence
imposed, the City Prosecutor of Manila on February 8, 1995, filed a Motion for Reconsideration, praying that
the Decision be "modified in that the penalty of death be imposed" against respondents Lagarto and Cordero,
in place of the original penalty (reclusion perpetua). Refusing to act on the merits of the said Motion for
Reconsideration, respondent Judge, on February 10, 1995, issued an Order denying the same for lack of
jurisdiction. The pertinent portion reads:

The Court believes that in the above-entitled cases, the accused Lagarto and Cordero have
complied with the legal requirements for the perfection of an appeal. Consequently, for lack of
jurisdiction, this Court cannot take cognizance of the Motion for Reconsideration of the Public
Prosecutor of Manila.

WHEREFORE, the order earlier issued by this Court regarding the Notices of Appeal filed by
both herein accused is hereby reiterated.

The Clerk of this Court is hereby directed to transmit the complete records of these cases,
together with the notices of appeal, to the Honorable Supreme Court, in accordance with Sec. 8,
Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.

SO ORDERED.
Hence, the instant petition.

The trial court's finding of guilt is not at issue in the case at bench. The basis of the trial court's determination of
guilt and its conclusions will only be subject to our scrutiny at an appropriate time on appeal. We have thus
clinically limited our narration of events to those cold facts antecedent to the instant case relevant to the
determination of the legal question at hand, i.e., whether or not the respondent judge acted with grave abuse of
discretion and in excess of jurisdiction when he failed and/or refused to impose the mandatory penalty of death
under Republic Act No. 7659, after finding the accused guilty of the crime of Rape with Homicide.

We find for petitioner.

Obedience to the rule of law forms the bedrock of our system of justice. If judges, under the guise of religious
or political beliefs were allowed to roam unrestricted beyond boundaries within which they are required by law
to exercise the duties of their office, then law becomes meaningless. A government of laws, not of men
excludes the exercise of broad discretionary powers by those acting under its authority. Under this system,
judges are guided by the Rule of Law, and ought "to protect and enforce it without fear or favor," 4 resist
encroachments by governments, political parties, 5 or even the interference of their own personal beliefs.

In the case at bench, respondent judge, after weighing the evidence of the prosecution and the defendant at
trial found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape with Homicide. Since the law in
force at the time of the commission of the crime for which respondent judge found the accused guilty was
Republic Act No. 7659, he was bound by its provisions.

Section 11 of R.A. No. 7659 provides:

Sec. 11. Article 335 of the same Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. — Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge
of a woman under any of the following circumstances:

1. By using force or intimidation.

2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and

3. When the woman is under twelve years of age or is demented.

The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.

Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more
persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death.

When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has become insane, the penalty shall
be death.

When the rape is attempted or frustrated and a homicide is committed by reason or on the
occasion thereof, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death.

When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, a homicide is committed, the penalty shall be
death. . . . 6

Clearly, under the law, the penalty imposable for the crime of Rape with Homicide is not Reclusion
Perpetua but Death. While Republic Act 7659 punishes cases of ordinary rape with the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua, it allows judges the discretion — depending on the existence of circumstances modifying the offense
committed — to impose the penalty of either Reclusion Perpetua only in the three instances mentioned therein.
Rape with homicide is not one of these three instances. The law plainly and unequivocably provides that
"[w]hen by reason or on the occasion of rape, a homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death." The
provision leaves no room for the exercise of discretion on the part of the trial judge to impose a penalty under
the circumstances described, other than a sentence of death.

We are aware of the trial judge's misgivings in imposing the death sentence because of his religious
convictions. While this Court sympathizes with his predicament, it is its bounden duty to emphasize that a court
of law is no place for a protracted debate on the morality or propriety of the sentence, where the law itself
provides for the sentence of death as a penalty in specific and well-defined instances. The discomfort faced by
those forced by law to impose the death penalty is an ancient one, but it is a matter upon which judges have no
choice. Courts are not concerned with the wisdom, efficacy or morality of laws. In People vs. Limaco 7 we held
that:

[W]hen . . . private opinions not only form part of their decision but constitute a decisive factor in
arriving at a conclusion and determination of a case or the penalty imposed, resulting in an
illegality and reversible error, then we are constrained to state our opinion, not only to correct
the error but for the guidance of the courts. We have no quarrel with the trial judge or with
anyone else, layman or jurist as to the wisdom or folly of the death penalty. Today there are
quite a number of people who honestly believe that the supreme penalty is either morally wrong
or unwise or ineffective. However,as long as that penalty remains in the statute books, and as
long as our criminal law provides for its imposition in certain cases, it is the duty of judicial
officers to respect and apply the law regardless of their private opinions. It is a well settled rule
that the courts are not concerned with the wisdom, efficacy or morality of laws. That question
falls exclusively within the province of the Legislature which enacts them and the Chief
Executive who approves or vetoes them. The only function of the judiciary is to interpret the
laws and, if not in disharmony with the Constitution, to apply them. And for the guidance of the
members of the judiciary we feel it incumbent upon us to state that while they as citizens or as
judges may regard a certain law as harsh, unwise or morally wrong, and may recommend to the
authority or department concerned, its amendment, modification, or repeal, still, as long as said
law is in force, they must apply it and give it effect as decreed by the law-making body. 8

Finally, the Rules of Court mandates that after an adjudication of guilt, the judge should impose "the proper
penalty and civil liability provided for by the law on the accused." 9 This is not a case of a magistrate ignorant of
the law. This is a case in which a judge, fully aware of the appropriate provisions of the law, refuses to impose
a penalty to which he disagrees. In so doing, respondent judge acted without or in excess of his jurisdiction or
with grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack of jurisdiction in imposing the penalty of Reclusion
Perpetua where the law clearly imposes the penalty of Death.

WHEREFORE, PREMISES