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EN BANC invoking section 11, Rule 108, and the objection was sustained.

invoking section 11, Rule 108, and the objection was sustained. In view thereof, the accused refused to
G.R. No. L-2068 October 20, 1948 present his evidence, and the case was forwarded to the Court of First Instance of Pampanga.
DOMINADOR B. BUSTOS, Petitioner, vs. ANTONIO G. LUCERO, Judge of First Instance of Pampanga, The counsel for the accused petitioner filed a motion with the Court of First Instance praying that the
Respondent. record of the case be remanded to the justice of the peace of Masantol, in order that the petitioner
E. M. Banzali for petitioner. might cross-examine the complainant and her witnesses in connection with their testimony. The motion
Acting Provincial Fiscal Albino L. Figueroa and Assistant Provincial Fiscal Marcelo L. Mallari for was denied, and for that reason the present special civil action of mandamus was instituted.
respondent It is evident that the refusal or waiver of the petitioner to present his evidence during the investigation in
TUASON, J.: the justice of the peace, was not a waiver of his alleged right to be confronted with and cross-examine
The petitioner herein, an accused in a criminal case, filed a motion with the Court of First Instance of the witnesses for the prosecution, that is, of the preliminary investigation provided for in General Order
Pampanga after he had been bound over to that court for trial, praying that the record of the case be No. 58 and Act No. 194, to which he claims to be entitled, as shown by the fact that, as soon as the case
remanded to the justice of the peace court of Masantol, the court of origin, in order that the petitioner was forwarded to the Court of First Instance, counsel for the petitioner filed a motion with said court to
might cross-examine the complainant and her witnesses in connection with their testimony, on the remand the case to the Justice of the Peace of Masantol ordering the latter to make said preliminary
strength of which warrant was issued for the arrest of the accused. The motion was denied and that investigation. His motion having been denied, the petitioner has filed the present action in which he
denial is the subject matter of this proceeding.ch squarely attacks the validity of the provision of section 11, Rule 108, on the ground that it deprives him of
According to the memorandum submitted by the petitioner's attorney to the Court of First Instance in the right to be confronted with and cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution, contrary to the
support of his motion, the accused, assisted by counsel, appeared at the preliminary investigation. In that provision of section 13, Article VIII, of the Constitution.
investigation, the justice of the peace informed him of the charges and asked him if he pleaded guilty or In the case of Dequito and Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, No. L-1336, we did not discuss and decide the
not guilty, upon which he entered the plea of not guilty. "Then his counsel moved that the complainant question of validity or constitutionality of said section 11 in connection with section 1 of Rule 108,
present her evidence so that she and her witnesses could be examined and cross-examined in the because that question was not raised therein, and we merely construed the provisions on preliminary
manner and form provided by law." The fiscal and the private prosecutor objected, invoking section 11 of investigation or Rule 108. In said case the writer of this dissenting opinion said:
rule 108, and the objection was sustained. "In view thereof, the accused's counsel announced his It may not be amiss to state that, modesty aside, the writer of this dissenting opinion, then a practising
intention to renounce his right to present evidence," and the justice of the peace forwarded the case to attorney, was the one who prepared the draft of the Rules of Court relating to criminal procedure, and
the court of first instance. the provisions on preliminary investigation in the draft were the same as those of the old law, which gave
Leaving aside the question whether the accused, after renouncing his right to present evidence, and by the defendant the right to be confronted with and to cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecution.
reason of that waiver he was committed to the corresponding court for trial, is estopped, we are of the But the Supreme Court approved and adopted in toto the draft, except the part referring to preliminary
opinion that the respondent judge did not act in excess of his jurisdiction or in abuse of discretion in investigation which it modified, by suppressing said right and enacting, in its stead, the provisions of
refusing to grant the accused's motion to return the record for the purpose set out therein. In Dequito section 11 of Rule 108 in its present form. I prefer the old to the new procedure. But I can not subscribe
and Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, G.R. No. L-1336, recently promulgated, in which case the respondent to the majority decision, which is a judicial legislation and makes the exercise of the right of a defendant
justice of the peace had allowed the accused, over the complaint's objection, to recall the complainant to be confronted, with and cross-examine the witnesses against him, to depend entirely upon the whim
and her witnesses at the preliminary investigation so that they might be cross-examined, we sustained or caprice of a judge or officer conducting the preliminary investigation.
the justice of the peace's order. We said that section 11 of Rule 108 does not curtail the sound discretion But now the question of the validity of said section 11, Rule 108, is squarely presented to this Court for
of the justice of the peace on the matter. We said that "while section 11 of Rule 108 defines the bounds decision, we have perforce to pass upon it.
of the defendant's right in the preliminary investigation, there is nothing in it or any other law restricting Section 13, Article VIII, of the Constitution prescribes that "the Supreme Court shall have power to
the authority, inherent in a court of justice, to pursue a course of action reasonably calculated to bring promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, but said rules shall not
out the truth." diminish, increase or modify substantive rights." The constitution added the last part of the above-
But we made it clear that the "defendant can not, as a matter of right, compel the complaint and his quoted constitutional precept in order to emphasize that the Supreme Court is not empowered, and
witnesses to repeat in his presence what they had said at the preliminary examination before the therefore can not enact or promulgate substantive laws or rules, for it is obvious that rules which
issuance of the order of arrest." We called attention to the fact that "the constitutional right of an diminish, increase or modify substantive rights, are substantive and not adjective laws or rules
accused to be confronted by the witnesses against him does not apply to preliminary hearings' nor will concerning pleading, practice and procedure.
the absence of a preliminary examination be an infringement of his right to confront witnesses." As a It does not require an elaborate arguments to show that the right granted by law upon a defendant to be
matter of fact, preliminary investigation may be done away with entirely without infringing the confronted with and cross-examine the witnesses for the prosecuted in preliminary investigation as well
constitutional right of an accused under the due process clause to a fair trial. as in the trial of the case is a substantive right. It is based on human experience, according to which a
The foregoing decision was rendered by a divided court. The minority went farther than the majority and person is not prone to tell a lie against another in his presence, knowing fully well that the latter may
denied even any discretion on the part of the justice of the peace or judge holding the preliminary easily contradict him, and that the credibility of a person or veracity of his testimony may be efficaciously
investigation to compel the complainant and his witnesses to testify anew. tested by a cross-examination. It is substantive right because by exercising it, an accused person may
Upon the foregoing considerations, the present petition is dismissed with costs against the petitioner. show, even if he has no evidence in his favor, that the testimonies of the witnesses for the prosecution
Moran, C.J., Paras, Pablo, Bengzon, and Briones, JJ., concur. are not sufficient to indicate that there is a probability that a crime has been committed and he is guilty
Separate Opinions thereof, and therefore the accused is entitled to be released and not committed to prison, and thus avoid
FERIA, J., dissenting: an open and public accusation of crime, the trouble, expense, and anxiety of a public trial, and the
I am sorry to dissent from the decision. corresponding anxiety or moral suffering which a criminal prosecution always entails.
The petitioner in the present case appeared at the preliminary investigation before the Justice of the This right is not a constitutional but a statutory right granted by law to an accused outside of the City of
Peace of Masantol, Pampanga, and after being informed of the criminal charges against him and asked if Manila because of the usual delay in the final disposition of criminal cases in provinces. The law does not
he pleaded guilty or not guilty, pleaded not guilty. "Then the counsel for the petitioner moved that the grant such right to a person charged with offenses triable by the Court of First Instance in the City of
complainant present her evidence so that her witnesses could be examined and cross-examined in the Manila, because of the promptness, actual or presumptive, with which criminal cases are tried and
manner and form provided by law." The fiscal and the private prosecutor objected to petitioner's motion disposed of in the Court of First Instance of said city. But this right, though not a constitutional one, can

1
not be modified, abridged, or diminished by the Supreme Court, by virtue of the rule making power courts are established to administer; as opposed to adjective or remedial law, which prescribes the
conferred upon this Court by the Constitution. method of enforcing rights or obtains redress for their invasion. (36 C. J., 27; 52 C. J. S., 1026.)
Since the provisions of section 11 of Rule 108 as construed by this Court in several cases, (in which the As applied to criminal law, substantive law is that which declares what acts are crimes and prescribes the
question of constitutionality or validity of said section had not been squarely raised) do away with the punishment for committing them, as distinguished from the procedural law which provides or regulates
defendant's right under discussion, it follows that said section 11 diminishes the substantive right of the the steps by which one who commits a crime is to be punished. (22 C. J. S., 49.) Preliminary investigation
defendant in criminal case, and this Court has no power or authority to promulgate it and therefore is is eminently and essentially remedial; it is the first step taken in a criminal prosecution.
null and void. As a rule of evidence, section 11 of Rule 108 is also procedural. Evidence - which is the "the mode and
The fact that the majority of this Court has ruled in the above cited case of Dequito and Saling Buhay vs. manner of proving the competent facts and circumstances on which a party relies to establish the fact in
Arellano, that the inferior or justice of the peace courts have discretion to grant a defendant's request to dispute in judicial proceedings" - is identified with and forms part of the method by which, in private law,
have the witnesses for the prosecution recalled to testify again in the presence of the defendant and be rights are enforced and redress obtained, and, in criminal law, a law transgressor is punished. Criminal
cross-examined by the latter, does not validate said provision; because to make the exercise of an procedure refers to pleading, evidence and practice. (State vs. Capaci, 154 So., 419; 179 La., 462.) the
absolute right discretionary or dependent upon the will or discretion of the court or officer making the entire rules of evidence have been incorporated into the Rules of Court. We can not tear down section 11
preliminary investigation, is evidently to diminish or modify it. of Rule 108 on constitutional grounds without throwing out the whole code of evidence embodied in
Petition is therefore granted. these Rules.
PERFECTO, J., dissenting: In Beazell vs. Ohio, 269 U. S., 167, 70 Law. ed., 216, the United States Supreme Court said:
In our concurring and dissenting opinion in the case of Dequito and Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, No. L-1336, Expressions are to be found in earlier judicial opinions to the effect that the constitutional limitation may
we said: be transgressed by alterations in the rules of evidence or procedure. See Calder vs. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 390,
In our opinion, section 11 of Rule 108 must be read, interpreted, and applied in a way that will not 1 L. ed., 648, 650; Cummings vs. Missouri, 4 Wall. 277, 326, 18 L. ed., 356, 364; Kring vs. Missouri, 107 U.
contravene the constitutional provision guaranteeing to all accused the right "to meet the witnesses face S. 221, 228, 232, 27 L. ed., 507, 508, 510, 2 Ct. Rep., 443. And there may be procedural changes which
to face." (Section 1 [17], Article III.) operate to deny to the accused a defense available under the laws in force at the time of the commission
Consequently, at the preliminary hearing contemplated by said reglementary section, the defendant is of his offense, or which otherwise affect him in such a harsh and arbitrary manner as to fall within the
entitled as a matter of fundamental right to her the testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution and constitutional prohibition. Kring vs. Missouri, 107 U. S., 221, 27 L. ed., 507, 2 Sup. Ct. Rep., 443;
to cross-examine them. Thompson vs. Utah, 170 U. S., 343, 42 L. ed., 1061, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep., 620. But it is not well settled that
Although in such preliminary hearing the accused cannot finally be convicted, he is liable to endure the statutory changes in the mode of trial or the rules of evidence, which do not deprive the accused of a
ordeal eloquently depicted in the decision, and the constitutional guarantee protects defendants, not defense and which operate only in a limited and unsubstantial manner to his disadvantage, are not
only from the jeopardy of being finally convicted and punished, but also from the physical, mental and prohibited. A statute which, after indictment, enlarges the class of persons who may be witnesses at the
moral sufferings that may unjustly be visited upon him in any one of the stages of the criminal process trial, by removing the disqualification of persons convicted of felony, is not an ex post facto law. Hopt vs.
instituted against him. He must be afforded the opportunities to have the charges against him quashed, Utah, 110 U. S., 575, 28 L. ed., 263, 4 Sup. Ct. Rep., 202, 4 Am. Crim. Rep. 417. Nor is a statute which
not only at the final hearing, but also at the preliminary investigation, if by confronting the witnesses for changes the rules of evidence after the indictment so as to render admissible against the accused
the prosecution he can convince the court that the charges are groundless. There is no justice in evidence previously held inadmissible, Thompson vs. Missouri, 171 U. S., 380, 43 L. ed., 204, 18 Sup. Ct.
compelling him to undergo the troubles of a final hearing if at the preliminary hearing the case can be Rep., 922; or which changes the place of trial, Gut. vs. Minnesota, 9 Wall. 35, 19 L. ed., 573; or which
terminated in his favor. Otherwise, the preliminary investigation or hearing will be an empty gesture that abolishes a court for hearing criminal appeals, creating a new one in its stead. See Duncan vs. Missouri,
should not have a place within the framework of dignified and solemn judicial proceedings. 152 U. S., 377, 382, 38 L. ed., 485, 487, 14 sup. Ct. Rep., 570.
On the strength of the above quoted opinion the opinion should be granted and so we vote. Tested by this standard, we do not believe that the curtailment of the right of an accused in a preliminary
Petition dismissed. investigation to cross-examine the witnesses who had given evidence for his arrest is of such importance
RESOLUTION as to offend against the constitutional inhibition. As we have said in the beginning, preliminary
March 8, 1949 investigation is not an essential part of due process of law. It may be suppressed entirely, and if this may
TUASON, J.: chanrobles virtual law library be done, mere restriction of the privilege formerly enjoyed thereunder can not be held to fall within the
This cause is now before us on a motion for reconsideration. constitutional prohibition.
In the decision sought to be reconsidered, we said, citing Dequito and Saling Buhay vs. Arellano, G.R. No. While section 11 of Rule 108 denies to the defendant the right to cross-examine witnesses in a
L-1336: "The constitutional right of an accused to be confronted by the witnesses against him does not preliminary investigation, his right to present his witnesses remains unaffected, and his constitutional
apply to preliminary hearings; nor will the absence of a preliminary examination be an infringement of right to be informed of the charges against him both at such investigation and at the trial is unchanged. In
his right to confront witness. As a matter of fact, preliminary investigation may be done away with the latter stage of the proceedings, the only stage where the guaranty of due process comes into play, he
entirely without infringing the constitutional right of an accused under the due process clause to a fair still enjoys to the full extent the right to be confronted by and to cross-examine the witnesses against
trial." We took this ruling to be ample enough to dispose the constitutional question pleaded in the him. The degree of importance of a preliminary investigation to an accused may be gauged by the fact
application for certiorari. Heeding the wishes of the petitioner, we shall enlarge upon the subject. that this formality is frequently waived.
It is contended that section 11 of Rule 108 of the Rules of Court 1 infringes section 13, Article VIII, of the The distinction between "remedy" and "substantive right" is incapable of exact definition. The difference
Constitution. 2 It is said that the rule in question deals with substantive matters and impairs substantive is somewhat a question of degree. (Dexter vs. Edmands, 89 F., 467; Beazell vs. Ohio, supra.) It is difficult
rights. to draw a line in any particular case beyond which legislative power over remedy and procedure can pass
We can not agree with this view. We are of the opinion that section 11 of Rule 108, like its predecessors, without touching upon the substantive rights of parties affected, as it is impossible to fix that boundary
is an adjective law and not a substantive law or substantive right. Substantive law creates substantive by general condition. (State vs. Pavelick, 279 P., 1102.) This being so, it is inevitable that the Supreme
rights and the two terms in this respect may be said to be synonymous. Substantive rights is a term which Court in making rules should step on substantive rights, and the Constitution must be presumed to
includes those rights which one enjoys under the legal system prior to the disturbance of normal tolerate if not to expect such incursion as does not affect the accused in a harsh and arbitrary manner or
relations. (60 C.J., 980.) Substantive law is that part of the law which creates, defines and regulates rights, deprive him of a defense, but operates only in a limited and unsubstantial manner to his disadvantage.
or which regulates the rights and duties which give rise to a cause of action; that part of the law which For the Court's power is not merely to compile, revise or codify the rules of procedure existing at the

2
time of the Constitution's approval. This power is "to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and different branches of the law. "Remedial statute" is "a statute providing a remedy for an injury as
procedure in all courts," which is a power to adopt a general, complete and comprehensive system of distinguished from a penal statute. A statute giving a party a mode of remedy for a wrong where he had
procedure, adding new and different rules without regard to their source and discarding old ones. none or a different one before. . . . Remedial statutes are those which are made to supply such defects,
The motion is denied. and abridge such superfluities in the common law, as arise either from the general imperfections of all
Moran, C.J., Paras, Pablo, Bengzon, Briones, and Montemayor, JJ., concur. human law, from change of time and circumstances, from the mistakes and unadvised determination of
FERIA, J., dissenting: unlearned (or even learned) judges, or from any other cause whatsoever." (Black's Law Dictionary, third
I dissent. edition, pp. 1525, 1526.)
The motion for reconsideration must be granted. It is also not correct to affirm that section 11 of Rule 108 relating to right of defendant after arrest "is a
According to the resolution, the right of a defendant to be confronted with and cross-examine the rule of evidence and therefore is also procedural." In the first place, the provisions of said section to the
witnesses for the prosecution in a preliminary investigation granted by law or provided for in General effect that "the defendant, after the arrest and his delivery to the court has the right to be informed of
Orders, No. 58, as amended, in force prior to the promulgation of the Rules of Court, is not a substantive the complaint or information filed against him, and also to be informed of the testimony and evidence
right but a mere matter of procedure, and therefore this Court can suppress it in section 11, Rule 108, of presented against him, and may be allowed to testify and present witnesses or evidence for him if he so
the Rules of Court, for the following reasons:chanrobles virtual law library desires," are not rules of evidence; and in the second place, it is evident that most of the rules of
First. Because "preliminary investigation is eminently and essentially remedial; it is the first step taken in evidence, if not all, are substantive laws that define, create or regulate rights, and not procedural. "Rules
a criminal prosecution." . . . "As a rule of evidence, section 11 of Rule 108 is also procedural." . . . "The of evidence are substantive rights found in common law chiefly and growing out of reasoning, experience
entire rules of evidence have been incorporated into the Rules of Court." And therefore "we can not tear and common sense of lawyers and courts." (State vs. Pavelich, et al., 279 P., 1102.) "It is true that
down section 11 of Rule 108 on constitutional grounds without throwing out the whole Code of evidence weighing of evidence and the rules of practice with respect thereto form part of the law of procedure,
embodied in these rules."chanrobles virtual law library but the classification of proofs is sometime determined by the substantive law." (U. S. vs. Genato, 15
Secondly. Because, "preliminary investigation is not an essential part of due process of law. It may be Phil., 170, 176.) How can the law on judicial notice, conclusive as well as juris tantum presumption,
suppressed entirely, and if this may be done, mere restriction of the privilege formerly enjoyed hearsay and best evidence rule, parol evidence rule, interpretation of documents, competency of a
thereunder can not be held to fall within the constitutional prohibition."chanrobles virtual law library person to testify as a witness be considered procedural?
Lastly. Because, "the distinction between remedy and 'substantive right' is incapable of exact definition. Therefore, the argumentative conclusion that "we can not tear down section 11 of Rule 108 on
The difference is somewhat a question of degree" . . . It is difficult to draw a line in any particular case constitutional grounds without throwing out the whole code of evidence embodied in these Rules," is
beyond which legislative power over remedy and procedure can pass without touching upon the evidently wrong, not only for the reason just stated, but because our contention that the defendant can
substantive rights of parties affected, as it is impossible to fix that boundary by general condition. . . . not be deprived of his right to be confronted with and cross-examine the witness of the prosecution is a
"This being so, it is inevitable that the Supreme Court in making rules should step on substantive rights, preliminary investigation under consideration would not, if upheld, necessarily tear down said section.
and the Constitution must be presumed to tolerate if not to expect such incursion as does not affect the Our theory, is that said section 11 should be so construed as to be valid and effective, that is, that if the
accused in a harsh and arbitrary manner or deprive him of a defense, but operates only in a limited and defendant asks the court to recall the witness or witnesses for the prosecution to testify again in his
unsubstantial manner to his disadvantage."chanrobles virtual law library presence, and to allow the former to cross-examine the latter, the court or officer making the preliminary
Before proceeding it is necessary to distinguish substantive law from procedure, for the distinction is not investigation is under obligation to grant the request. But if the defendant does not so ask the court, he
always well understood. Substantive law is that part of the law which creates, defines, and regulates should be considered as waiving his right to be confronted with and cross-examine the witness against
rights as opposed to objective or procedural law which prescribes the method of enforcing rights. What him.
constitutes practice and procedure in the law is the mode or proceeding by which a legal right is (2) With respect to the second argument or reason, it is true that the preliminary investigation as
enforced, "that which regulates the formal steps in an action or judicial proceedings; the course of provided for in the General Orders, No. 58, as amended, is not an essential part of due process of law,
procedure in courts; the form, manner and order in which proceedings have been, and are accustomed because "due process of law" is not iron clad in its meaning; its does not necessarily mean a particular
to be had; the form, manner and order of carrying on and conducting suits or prosecutions in the courts procedure. Due process of law simply requires a procedure that fully protects the life, liberty and
through their various sages according to the principles of law and the rules laid down by the respective property. For that reason the investigation to be made by the City Fiscal of the City of Manila under Act
courts." 31 Cyc. Law and Procedure, p. 1153; id., 32, section 405; Rapalje & Lawrence's Law Dictionary; No. 612, now section 2465 of the Administrative Code, before filing an information, was considered by
Anderson Law Dictionary; Bouvier's Law Dictionary.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law this Court as sufficient to satisfy the due process of law constitutional requirement (U. S. vs. Ocampo, 18
library Phil., 1; U. S. vs. Grant and Kennedy, 18 Phil., 122). But it is also true that we have already and correctly
Substantive rights may be created or granted either in the Constitution or in any branch of the law, civil, held that: "The law having explicitly recognized and established that no person charged with the
criminal, administrative or procedural law. In our old Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 190, as amended, commission of a crime shall be deprived of his liberty or subjected to trial without prior preliminary
there are provisions which create, define and regulate substantive rights, and many of those provisions investigation (provided for in General orders, No. 58, as amended) that shall show that there are
such as those relating to guardianship, adoption, evidence and many others are incorporated in the Rules reasonable grounds to believe him guilty, there can be no doubt that the accused who is deprived of his
of Court for the sake of convenience and not because this Court is empowered to promulgate them as liberty, tried and sentenced without the proper preliminary investigation having been made in his regard,
rules of court. And our old law of Criminal Procedure General Orders No. 58 grants the offended party is convicted without the process of law," (United States vs. Banzuela, 31 Phil., 564).
the right to commence a criminal action or file a complaint against the offender and to intervene in the The ruling in Beazell vs. Ohio, 269 U. S. 167, 70 Law. ed., 216, quoted in the resolution, has no application
criminal prosecution against him, and grants the defendant in the Court of First Instance (except in the to the present case, for the question involved therein was the power of Congress to alter the rules of
City of Manila) the right to bail, and to a preliminary investigation including his rights during said evidence and procedure without violating the constitutional precept that prohibits the passing of ex post
investigation, and the rights at the trial, which are now reproduced or incorporated in Rules 106, 108, facto law, while the question herein involved is the power of the Supreme Court to promulgate rules of
110, and 111 of the Rules of Court, except the rights now in question. And all these, and others not pleading, practice and procedure, which diminish the substantive right of a defendant, expressly
necessary for us to mention, are obviously substantive rights. prohibited by the same provision of the Constitution that confers upon this Court the power to
(1) As to the first argument, the premise "the preliminary investigation is eminently and essentially promulgate said rules.
remedial is not correct. Undoubtedly the majority means to say procedural, in line with the conclusion in (3) The last reason or argument premised on the conclusion that "the distinction between remedy and
the resolution, because remedial law is one thing, and procedural law is another. Obviously they are 'substantive right' is incapable of exact definition;" indeed "the difference is somewhat a question of

3
degree," (Dexter vs. Edmonds, 89 F 487), is immaterial, because, as we have already said in refuting the
majority's first reason, remedy and procedure are two completely different things.
As above defined, substantive law is clearly differentiated from procedural law and practice. But even
assuming arguendo that it is difficult to draw the line in any particular case beyond which the power of
the court over procedure can not pass without touching upon the substantial right of the parties, what
this Court should do in that case would be to abstain from promulgating such rule of procedure which
many increase, diminish or modify substantive right in order to avoid violating the constitutional
prohibition above referred to. Because as this Supreme Court is not empowered by the Constitution to
legislate on or abrogate substantive rights, but only to promulgate rules of pleading, practice and
procedure which "shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive rights," this Court can not step on
them in making the rules, and the Constitution must be presumed not to tolerate nor expect such
incursion as would affect the substantive rights of the accused in any manner.
Besides, depriving an accused of his right to be confronted and cross-examine the witness against him in
a preliminary investigation would affect the accused not in a limited and unsubstantial but in a harsh and
arbitrary manner. The testimony of a witness given in the absence of the defendant and without an
opportunity on the part of the latter to cross-examine him is a hearsay evidence, and it should not be
admitted against the defendant in a preliminary investigation that is granted to the latter as a protection
against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecutions (U. S. vs. Grant and Kennedy, supra). Otherwise, an
accused who is innocent and should not be arrested, or if arrested should be released immediately a
short time after his arrest after the preliminary investigation, would have to be held for trial and wait for
a considerable period of time until the case is tried and acquitted after trial by the Courts of First Instance
in provinces on account of the admission of such evidence in the preliminary investigation, evidence not
admissible at the trial.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanrobles virtual law library
Therefore, the motion for reconsideration is granted, and after the necessary proceedings the decision of
the majority reversed or modified in accordance with my dissenting opinion.
PERFECTO, J.:
We dissent. Our opinion in the Dequito case still stands. The motion for reconsideration should be
granted.
Endnotes:
TUASON, J.:
1
Rights of defendant after arrest. - After the arrest of the defendant and his delivery to the court,
he shall be informed of the complaint or information filed against him. He shall also be informed of the
substance of the testimony and evidence presented against him, and, if he desires to testify or to present
witnesses or evidence in his favor, he may be allowed to do so. The testimony of the witnesses need not
be reduced to writing but that of the defendant shall be taken in writing and subscribed by him.
2
The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and
procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law. Said rules shall be uniform for all courts
of the same grade and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. The existing laws on
pleading, practice, and procedure are hereby repealed as statutes, and are declared Rules of Courts,
subject to the power of the Supreme Court to alter and modify the same. The National Assembly shall
have the power to repeal, alter, or supplement the rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure,
and the admission to the practice of law in the Philippines.

4
G.R. Nos. 108135-36 August 14, 2000 liable for such because its products are distilled spirits on which specific taxes are paid, by reason of
POTENCIANA M. EVANGELISTA, petitioner, vs. which false memoranda, certification and/or official communications the BIR approved the application
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, (FIRST DIVISION), for tax credit, thus defrauding the Government of the sum of P107,087,394.80, representing the
respondents. difference between the amount claimed as tax credit and the amount of ad valorem taxes paid by
RESOLUTION Tanduay to the BIR.5 According to petitioner, instead of convicting her of the acts described in the
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: Information, she was convicted of issuing the certification without identifying the kinds of tax for which
On September 30, 1999, we rendered a Decision in this case acquitting petitioner of the charge of the TNCs stand and without indicating whether Tanduay was really entitled to tax credit or not.
violation of then Section 268 (4) of the National Internal Revenue Code1 but affirming her conviction for The Solicitor General filed his Comment6 wherein he joined petitioner’s cause and prayed that the
violation of Republic Act No. 3019, Section 3 (e),2 thus imposing on her an indeterminate sentence of motion for reconsideration be granted. In hindsight, even the Solicitor General’s comment on the petition
imprisonment for six (6) years and one month as minimum to twelve (12) years as maximum, and the consisted of a "Manifestation and Motion in lieu of Comment,"7 where he recommended that petitioner
penalty of perpetual disqualification from public office. be acquitted of the two charges against her.
The basic facts are briefly restated as follows: We find that the Motion for Reconsideration is well-taken.
On September 17, 1987, Tanduay Distillery, Inc. filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue an application After a careful re-examination of the records of this case, it would appear that the certification made by
for tax credit in the amount of P180,701,682.00, for allegedly erroneous payments of ad valorem taxes petitioner in her 1st Indorsement was not favorable to Tanduay’s application for tax credit. Far from it,
from January 1, 1986 to August 31, 1987. Tanduay claimed that it is a rectifier of alcohol and other spirits, petitioner’s certification meant that there were no payments of ad valorem taxes by Tanduay in the
which per previous ruling of the BIR is only liable to pay specific taxes and not ad valorem taxes. Upon records and hence, it was not entitled to tax credit. In other words, the certification was against the grant
receipt of the application, Aquilino Larin of the Specific Tax Office sent a memorandum to the Revenue of Tanduay’s application for tax credit.
Accounting Division (RAD), headed by petitioner, requesting the said office to check and verify whether It has been established that the BIR adopted tax numeric codes (TNCs) to classify taxes according to their
the amounts claimed by Tanduay were actually paid to the BIR as ad valorem taxes. Larin’s memorandum kinds and rates, in order to facilitate the preparation of statistical and other management reports, the
was received by the Revenue Administrative Section (RAS), a subordinate office of the RAD. After making improvement of revenue accounting and the production of tax data essential to management planning
the necessary verification, the RAS prepared a certification in the form of a 1st Indorsement to the and decision-making. These codes include TNC No. 3011-0001 for specific tax on domestic distilled
Specific Tax Office, dated September 25, 1987, which was signed by petitioner as RAD chief. spirits, TNC No. 3023-2001 for ad valorem tax on compounded liquors, and TNC No. 0000-0000 for
The 1st Indorsement states that Tanduay made tax payments classified under Tax Numeric Code (TNC) unclassified taxes.
3011-0001 totalling P102,519,100.00 and payments classified under TNC 0000-0000 totalling Petitioner’s 1st Indorsement dated September 25, 1987 lists down the confirmation receipts covering tax
P78,182,582.00. Meanwhile, Teodoro Pareño, head of the Tax and Alcohol Division, certified to Justino payments by Tanduay for the period January 1, 1986 to August 31, 1987, during which Tanduay alleges
Galban, Jr., Head of the Compounders, Rectifiers and Repackers Section, that Tanduay was a rectifier not that it made erroneous ad valorem tax payments, classified according to TNC numbers. The tax payments
liable for ad valorem tax. Pareño recommended to Larin that the application for tax credit be given due therein are described only as falling under TNC No. 3011-0001, i.e., specific tax, and TNC No. 0000-0000,
course. Hence, Larin recommended that Tanduay’s claim be approved, on the basis of which Deputy i.e., unclassified taxes. There are no tax payments classified as falling under TNC No. 3023-2001, the code
Commissioner Eufracio D. Santos signed Tax Credit Memo No. 5177 in the amount of P180,701,682.00. for ad valorem taxes. The import of this, simply, is that Tanduay did not make any ad valorem tax
Sometime thereafter, a certain Ruperto Lim wrote a letter-complaint to then BIR Commissioner payments during the said period and is, therefore, not entitled to any tax credit.
Bienvenido Tan, Jr. alleging that the grant of Tax Credit Memo No. 5177 was irregular and anomalous. Further, petitioner contends that she was convicted of a supposed crime not punishable by law.8 She was
Based on this, Larin, Pareño, Galban and petitioner Evangelista were charged before the Sandiganbayan charged with violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,
with violation of Section 268 (4) of the National Internal Revenue Code and of Section 3 (e) of R.A. 3019, which states:
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Larin, Pareño and petitioner were later convicted of both SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. --- In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already
crimes, while Galban was acquitted inasmuch as his only participation in the processing of Tanduay’s penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are
application was the preparation of the memorandum confirming that Tanduay was a rectifier. hereby declared to be unlawful:
The three accused filed separate petitions for review. Pareño’s and Larin’s petitions were consolidated xxx xxx xxx
and, in a decision dated April 17, 1996, both were acquitted by this Court in Criminal Cases Nos. 14208 (e)....Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any
and 14209.3 In this petition, on the other hand, we acquitted petitioner in Criminal Case No. 14208, for unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official, judicial or administrative
violation of Section 268 (4) of the NIRC. However, we found petitioner guilty of gross negligence in issuing functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision
a certification containing TNCs which she did not know the meaning of and which, in turn, became the shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of
basis of the Bureau’s grant of Tanduay’s application for tax credit. Thus, we affirmed petitioner’s licenses or permits or other concessions.
conviction in Criminal Case No. 14209, i.e., for violation of Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt xxx xxx xxx
Practices Act. The elements of the offense are: (1) that the accused are public officers or private persons charged in
Petitioner seasonably filed a Motion for Reconsideration,4 wherein she asserts that there was nothing conspiracy with them; (2) that said public officers commit the prohibited acts during the performance of
false in her certification inasmuch as she did not endorse therein approval of the application for tax their official duties or in relation to their public positions; (3) that they cause undue injury to any party,
credit. Rather, her certification showed the contrary, namely, that Tanduay was not entitled to the tax whether the Government or a private party; (4) that such injury is caused by giving unwarranted benefits,
credit since there was no proof that it paid ad valorem taxes. Petitioner also claims that she was neither advantage or preference to such parties; and (5) that the public officers have acted with manifest
afforded due process nor informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against her. She was found partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.9
guilty of an offense different from that alleged in the information; consequently, she was unable to R.A. 3019, Section 3, paragraph (e), as amended, provides as one of its elements that the public officer
properly defend herself from the crime for which she was convicted. should have acted by causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or by giving any
The Information against petitioner and her co-accused in Criminal Case No. 14209 alleges in fine that private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions. The use of
they caused undue injury to the Government and gave unwarranted benefits to Tanduay when they the disjunctive term "or" connotes that either act qualifies as a violation of Section 3, paragraph (e), or as
endorsed approval of the claim for tax credit by preparing, signing and submitting false memoranda, aptly held in Santiago,10 as two (2) different modes of committing the offense. This does not however
certification and/or official communications stating that Tanduay paid ad valorem taxes when it was not

5
indicate that each mode constitutes a distinct offense, but rather, that an accused may be charged under
either mode or under both.11
In the instant case, we find that petitioner, in issuing the certification, did not cause any undue injury to
the Government. She also did not give unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference to Tanduay.
Neither did petitioner display manifest partiality to Tanduay nor act with evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence. Quite the contrary, petitioner’s certification was against the interest of Tanduay.
It did not advocate the grant of its application for tax credit. The certification can even be read as a
recommendation of denial of the application.
Petitioner further argues that her conviction was merely based on her alleged failure to identify with
certainty in her certification the kinds of taxes paid by Tanduay and to indicate what the TNCs stand for,
which acts were different from those described in the Information under which she was charged. This,
she claims, violated her constitutional right to due process and to be informed of the nature and cause of
the accusation against her.
It is well-settled 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.12 In the case at bar, we find merit in
petitioner’s contention that the acts for which she was convicted are different from those alleged in the
Information. More importantly, as we have discussed above, petitioner’s act of issuing the certification
did not constitute corrupt practices as defined in Section 3 (e) of R.A. 3019.
Employees of the BIR were expected to know what the TNCs stand for.1âwphi1 If they do not, there is a
"Handbook of Tax Numeric Code of Revenue Sources" which they can consult. With this, petitioner
should not be required to describe in words the kinds of tax for which each TNC used stands for.
Precisely, the purpose of introducing the use of tax numeric codes in the Bureau was to do away with
these descriptive words, in order to expedite and facilitate communications among the different divisions
therein. We find that petitioner’s omission to indicate what kind of taxes TNC Nos. 3011-0001 and 0000-
0000 stand for was not a criminal act. Applicable here is the familiar maxim in criminal law: Nullum
crimen nulla poena sine lege. There is no crime where there is no law punishing it.
On the whole, therefore, we find that petitioner was not guilty of any criminal offense. The prosecution’s
evidence failed to establish that petitioner committed the acts described in the Information which
constitute corrupt practices. Her conviction must, therefore, be set aside. For conviction must rest no less
than on hard evidence showing that the accused, with moral certainty, is guilty of the crime charged.
Short of these constitutional mandate and statutory safeguard --- that a person is presumed innocent
until the contrary is proved --- the Court is then left without discretion and is duty bound to render a
judgment of acquittal.13
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is GRANTED. This Court’s Decision dated September 30,
1999 is RECONSIDERED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner is ACQUITTED of the charge against her.
SO ORDERED.

6
Republic of the Philippines discovered the cash and some personal belongings in the total amount of P9,435.50 were transported by
SUPREME COURT the robbers (tsn, pp. 29-36, Oct. 23, 1961; tsn, pp. 120-125, June 13, 1961).
Manila The accident having been reported, both the local police as well as the Philippine Constabulary stationed
EN BANC in Iligan conducted their investigation. In the course of the investigation, members of the Philippine
G.R. No. L-34105 February 4, 1983 Constabulary found a.30-caliber carbine with 4 magazines and a .45 caliber pistol well wrapped in a
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. banca at the shore behind the house of the accused Benjamin Lasponia This led to the investigation of
TIMOTEO CABURAL, CIRIACO YANGYANG, BENJAMIN LASPONIA, and LEONIDE CABUAL, Lasponia who subsequently admitted the crime and pointed to his companions that night. On September
accussed,TIMOTEO CABURAL and CIRIACO YANGYANG, defendants-appellants. 18, 1960, Benjamin Lasponia signed a confession before Assistant Fiscal Leonardo Magsalin, Exhibits B, B-
The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. 1, B-2, and B3 at the PC headquarters in Iligan (pp. 1025-1028, Vol. III Rec.). He confessed to the last
Benjamin A. Gravino for private respondents. detail his participation in the crime. On September 19, 1960, the accused Leonide Cabual subscribed to
Abdon A. Arriba counsel for defendant-appellants. an affidavit before the same Fiscal .Magsalin regarding his participation and that of -his co-accused in the
RELOVA, J.: robbery of Kim San Milling in the early morning of September 14, 1960, Exhibits C, C-1, C-2, C3 and C5
This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Lanao del Norte, dated June 4, 1970, (pp. 1029-1034, Vol. III, Record (l). Ciriaco Yangyang followed. He subscribed his confession before Special
convicting Timoteo Cabural of the crime of Robbery with Rape and sentencing him to suffer the penalty Counsel Dominador Padilla in the Office of the City Fiscal of Iligan on September 26, 960, Exhibits H, H-1
of Reclusion Perpetua; and, convicting Leonide Cabual, Benjamin Lasponia and Ciriaco Yangyang of the and H2 (pp. 1036-1038, Vol. III, Record, See complete testimony of Eustaquio Cabides, tsn, pp- 52-72, July
crime of Robbery and sentencing each of them to suffer imprisonment of six (6) years and one (1) day of 17, 1969).
Prision Mayor, as minimum, to ten (10) years of Prision Mayor, as maximum; to indemnify the offended On September 21, 1960, (1) Timoteo Cabural, alias Romeo alias Tiyoy (2) Benjamin Lasponia; (3) Leonide
party in the sum of P9,435.50, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay Cabual alias Eddie; (4) Ciriaco Yangyang; (5) William Tate alias Negro; (6) Fausto Dacera and, (7) Alfonso
proportionately the costs of the proceedings. Caloy-on alias Pablo, were charged before the Court of First Instance of Lanao del Norte of the crime of
The statement of facts in the brief filed by the People of the Philippines is as follows: Robbery in Band with Rape, in an information filed by the City Fiscal of Iligan City. The crime charged was
... [A]t about 2:00 o'clock in the morning of September 14, 1960, three masked men entered the building allegedly committed as follows:
of the Kim San Milling in Palao City of Iligan thru an opening of the roof above the kitchen that was being That on or about September 14, 1960 in the City of Iligan Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
repaired and forced themselves inside a room where Pua Lim Pin Bebencio Palang, Sy Chua Tian and Siao Honorable Court, the said accused, in company with one Fred Ybañez alias Godofredo Camisic and one
Chou were sleeping (tsn, pp. 78-82, May 31, 1965; tsn, pp. 141-148, June 13, 1961). The masked men, at John Doe, who are still-at-large, conspiring and confederating together and mutually helping one another,
gunpoint, hogtied the four occupants of the room and commanding them to lie on the floor, face down, and armed with deadly weapons, all unlicensed, to wit: carbines, revolvers, tommy guns, garand rifles
were all covered with blankets (tsn, pp. 82-83, Ibid). The inmates of the room heard That the cabinets and knives, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with intent of gain and by means of
were being ransacked (tsn, p. 82, Ibid). As this was going on, one of the men approached Pua Lim Pin to violence against and intimidation of persons, and with the use of force upon things, to wit: by passing
ask him if he could open the safe to which he answered in the negative as he was a mere employee of through an opening not intended for entrance or egress, enter the main building and office of the Kim
the firm (tsn, p. 83, May 31, 1961). An hour later, one of the men approached Sy Chua Tian (also See San Milling Company, an inhabited building, and once inside, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
Chou Kian tsn, p. 89, Ibid) and told him: 'now is 3:30, if by 4:00 the safe is not open we will kill you.' (tsn, feloniously take, steal, rob and carry away therefrom, the following personal properties, to wit:
p. 94, Ibid.)
Cashmoney.................................................... P5,972.00
As this was going on, another episode was taking place inside the next room where the maids were
sleeping (tsn, p. 91, May 31, 1961). Restituta Biosano Panchita Maghanoy and Agripina Maglangit have
retired at about 10:00 o'clock in the evening of September 13, 1960, after their chores were performed Wrist watch 'Technos'...................................... 100.00
(tsn, p. 91, Ibid, tsn, p. 10, May 7,1961; tsn, p. 13, May 29,1961; tsn, p. 25, Ibid). At about 2:00 o'clock the
following morning, they were awakened by two persons, one holding a pistol and the other holding a Gold ring.......................................................... 20.00.
hunting knife. Like the fate of the four inmates of the other room, the maids were all hogtied, made to lie
on the floor, face downward, and were all covered with blankets (tsn, pp. 25-29, May 29, Sunglasses......................................................... 30.00
1961).1äwphï1.ñët The two then left the room (tsn, p. 29, Ibid). After two hours later, one of the two
men re-appeared in the room and after discovering that Agripina Maglangit had freed her hands, he Four pieces of golden bracelets...................... 1,400.00
showed anger and remarked that he would separate her from the rest. With his pistol pointed at her, he
took her outside the building to a secluded place within the Kim San Compound (tsn, pp. 30-33, Ibid.). Chinese gold ring with dark blue stone......... 90.00
Here, with her hands tied, she was made to lie down flat on the ground face upwards. He then raised her
skirt, tied down her panties, and had sexual intercourse with her. She was unable to resist him and fight One gold ring with brilliant stone................... 400.00
back because at the time she had lost her strength not to mention the fact that she was deprived of the
use of her hands that were both tied together. The rape having been consummated, he pulled her left
One Chinese gold necklace with red stone... 150.00
arm so she could stand up. He then left her (tsn, pp. 33-35, Ibid.).
Agripina Maglangit recognized the features of the man that raped her. She Identified her rapist to be the
accused Timoteo Cabural (tsn, pp. 36-39, Ibid.). One pair of earrings Chinese gold with.........
At about four o'clock that morning (September 14, 1960) all the intruders must have left because the four
men that were hogtied in the other room noticed complete silence They each struggled to free red stone....................................................... 60.00
themselves which they succeeded. Maghanoy lost her Alosa 15-jewel watch costing her P65.00 (tsn, p.
22, May 29, 1961); Sy Chua Tian (See Chou Kian lost his Omega automatic wrist watch valued in the Three pairs of earrings with pearls................ 120.00
amount of P385.00 that was snatched from his wrist by one of the robbers, besides his wallet containing
P264.00 in paper currency (tsn, p. 85 and p. 95, May 31, 1961). After the robbers left, the inmates

7
Lasponia, Cabual and Yangyang were convicted. Benjamin Lasponia did not appeal; however, Cabural,
Four Chinese gold rings with stones of........ Yangyang and Cabual did and claimed that the trial court erred:
I.
different colors................................................. 140.00 IN HOLDING THAT THE AFFIDAVITS OR EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONFESSIONS OF ACCUSED BENJAMIN LASPONIA,
LEONIDE CABUAL, AND CIRIACO YANGYANG WHICH WERE NOT OBTAINED THROUGH FORCE, VIOLENCE,
Sweepstakes tickets......................................... 45.00 INTIMIDATIONS AND THREATS AND SERIOUS MALTREATMENTS ARE ADMISSIBLE AS EVIDENCE AND
THEREFORE COULD BE A LEGAL BASIS FOR THE CONVICTIONS OF ACCUSED.
One American gold Lady's ring..................... II.
IN HOLDING THAT EVEN IF IN THE EXECUTION OF SAID AFFIDAVITS OF CONFESSIONS BY THE THREE
with dark pink stone........................... 30.00 ACCUSED SOME PERSONAL INCONVENIENCE WERE MADE BY THE PC SOLDIERS BUT BECAUSE THE
CONTENTS OF SAID CONFESSIONS ARE TRUE SAID EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONFESSIONS ARE ADMISSIBLE AS
Four men's rings............................................... 32.00 EVIDENCE AND COULD BE MADE A LEGAL, BASIS FOR THE CONVICTIONS OF ALL ACCUSED.
III.
One and a half dozens handkerchiefs.......... 34.50 IN HOLDING THAT THE THREE EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONFESSIONS BY THREE ACCUSED BEING INTERLOCKING
CONFESSIONS IS ENOUGH AND SUFFICIENT TO SUSTAIN THEIR CONVICTIONS ON PROOF BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT;
Lady's wrist watch.......................................... 30.00
IV.
IN HOLDING THAT THE THREE EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONFESSIONS OF THREE ACCUSED INTERLOCKED WITH
Three ladies watches...................................... 69.00 EACH OTHER EVEN IF INADMISSIBLE AS EVIDENCE BECAUSE OBTAINED THROUGH FORCE, VIOLENCE,
INTIMIDATION, ETC. IS ENOUGH TO SUSTAIN THE CONVICTION OF ACCUSED TIMOTEO CABURAL
One men's watch............................................. 60.00 BECAUSE HE WAS SUFFICIENTLY IdENTIFIED BY VICTIM AGRIPINA MAGLANGIT AS HER RAPIST;
V.
One Chinese gold necklace........................... 58.00 IN HOLDING THAT THE PROSECUTION EVIDENCE FOR THE CONVICTIONS OF ACCUSED REACHED THE
LEGAL STANDARD OF PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AS REQUIRED BY LAW.
One Lady's wrist watch.................................. 15.00 On October 14, 1971, this Court granted the motion of Leonide Cabual to withdraw his appeal (p. 60,
rollo).
One Chinese gold necklace........................... 58.00 Appellant Cabural declared that from 2:00 in the afternoon of September 13, 1960 to 3:00 in the early
morning of September 14, 1960, he was playing mahjong with Virginia Cruz Maruhom and one Gomer in
One Men's wrist watch................................... 60.00 the store of Ason in Maigo, Lanao del Norte which is about 37 kilometers from Iligan City and would take
about two (2) hours by us or about one (1) hour by car to negotiate the distance between the two places;
One Men's wrist watch 'Tugaris'................... 65.00 that he could not have been present at complainant's place at 2:00 in the morning of September 14,
1960 when the robbery took place; that he was brought to the Philippine Constabulary Headquarters in
Iligan City by PC soldiers on September 15, 1960 and was subjected to all kinds of torture; and that after
Knife.................................................................. 12.00
he was severely maltreated, including the 7-Up treatment and threatened with pistol, he was asked to
sign an affidavit. Despite his insistence that he was innocent he was induced to sign a statement after he
One Men's wrist watch................................... was told: "if you obey us you may get free" and that "if you confess we will protect you."
Ciriaco Yangyang also denied participation in the commission of the crime considering that at that time
'Omega' Seamaster........................................... 385.00 he was in Barrio Mentering attending the counting of votes for the muse of the barrio fiesta. He was
with a total value of P9,435.50, belonging to the Kim San Milling Company, Bebencio Palang, Agapito Tan, reading the ballots cast for each candidate at the microphone. It was only in the following morning of
Restituta Boisano Panchita Maghanoy, Catalina Boisano Pua Lim Pin and Sy Chua Tian to the damage and September 14, 1960 when he returned to Maigo.
prejudice of the said owners in the said sum of P9,435.50, Philippine currency; and that on the occasion The Identity of appellant Timoteo Cabural as the rapist of Agripina Maglangit is established in the
or by reason of the said robbery, the above-named accused except William Tate alias Negro, conspiring testimony of the latter as follows:
and confederating together and mutually helping one another, did then and there willfully, unlawfully Q After that man had told you that you would be separated from the rest, what happened next, if any?
and feloniously have carnal knowledge of one Agripina Maglangit, a woman, by means of violence and A I was brought outside.
intimidation and against her will. Q What do you mean by 'outside?'
Contrary to and in violation of Article 294 paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic A I was brought outside of the office of the Kim San .
Act No. 18 and Article 296 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act No. 12, Section 3, with Q After you have been taken outside, what happened, if any?
the following aggravating circumstances, to wit: that the said offense was committed during night time A I was threatened and I was forced.
and by a band; that it was committed with the use of disguise; and that it was committed with the use of Q How were you threatened?
a motor vehicle. A He pointed to me his pistol and let me lie down.
Upon arraignment, the defendants pleaded not guilty. However, during the course of the trial, three (3) Q This place where he threatened you and made you lie down outside, was this place near to the place
of the accused, namely: William Tate Fausto Dacera and Alfonso Caloy-on were dropped on petition of where you had slept?
the City Fiscal and trial proceeded against the four (4) remaining accused, namely: Timoteo Cabural, alias A It is very far but it is within the compound of the Kim San
Romeo Cabural; Benjamin Lasponia, Leonide Cabual and Ciriaco Yangyang. As aforesaid, Cabural, Q After he had threatened you and made you lie down, what, if any, did you do?
A He raised my skirt.

8
Q At the time he was raising your skirt, what was your position? Otherwise stated, appellants failed to show the plausibility and verity of their alibis and the crime is
A I was lying down with face upward. aggravated by dwelling and nighttime.
Q After he had raised your skirt, what happened next, if any? As aforesaid, the trial court convicted Timoteo Cabural of the crime of robbery with rape, which is
A When my skirt was raised and since I have no more strength because (as demonstrated by the witness), penalized by Article 294(2) of the Revised Penal Code, by reclusion temporal medium to reclusion
her laps were numb, he took off my pantie. perpetua. Effective August 15, 1975 (or subsequent to this date), Presidential Decree No. 767 imposes
Q How did your laps happen to be numb? the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death "when the robbery accompanied with rape is committed with
A Because my laps were pushed so that I cannot move. the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons.
Q What particular part of your body did he push to numbness? In People vs. Perello, Jr., 111 SCRA 147, it was mentioned that "[t]he Chief Justice and the herein ponente
A My laps. (Justice Ramon C. Aquino) are of the opinion that article 335 cannot be applied to robbery with rape and
Q After he had taken off your pantie, what, if any, did he do? that that offense should be penalized under article 294(2) in which case reclusion perpetua should be
A I feel that he had what he wants. imposed. As the accused was charged with a crime against property, he should not be convicted of a
Q What do you mean by that? crime against chastity, a private offense. (See People vs. Olden, L-27570-71, September 20, 1972, 47 SCRA
A To disgrace my honor. 45)." However, also in the same case, "Justices Teehankee, Barredo and Makasiar believe that article 335
Q How did he disgrace your honor? should be applied to this case. (See People vs. Carandang, L-310102, August 15, 1973, 52 SCRA 259,
A He had sexual intercourse. People vs. Mabag, L-38548, July 24, 1980, 98 SCRA 730; People vs. Arias, L-40531, January 27, 1981, 102
Q How long did he have that sexual intercourse with you? SCRA 303; People vs. Boado, L- 44725, March 31, 1981, 103 SCRA 607; People vs. Canizares L- 32515,
A I do not remember how long because of my fear. September 10, 1981; People vs. Pizarras L-35915, October 30, 1981).
Q Did he finish having sexual intercourse with you? The writer of this decision is of the opinion that in robbery with rape, the accused should be penalized
A Yes, sir. under Article 294(2) of the Revised Penal Code because it is a crime against property and not a crime
Q After he had that sexual intercourse with you, what happened next, if any? against chastity a private offense.
A (As demonstrated by th witness, her left Arm was pulled to stand up) WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED in toto. With costs against both appellants.
Q Were you able to stand up? SO ORDERED.
A Yes, sir. Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Abad Santos, De Castro, Escolin, Vasquez and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur.
Q After you have stood up, that man where, if any, did he go? Makasiar, J., accused Cabural should be sentenced to death under Art. 335, R. P.C.
A I did not notice where the man go but I went back to our room. Melencio-Herrera, J., I vote for the application of Art. 335 of the Revised Penal Code and. the imposition
Q Upon your arrival to your quarters, what, if any, did you do? of the death penalty.
A I told my companions. Plana, J., is on leave
Q Who were they? Separate Opinions
A They were Restituta Biosano, Pena Maglangit, Catalina Biosano FERNANDO, C.J., concurring:
Q That man who had sexual intercourse with you, is he here now in the courtroom? My concurrence in the opinion of the Court penned by Justice Relova is full, entire, and complete.
A Yes, sir. Nonetheless, I wish to express my gratification that this Court by a decisive vote 1 sustains the basic
Q Will you please point him out? postulate in both civil law and common law jurisdictions, expressed in the maximum Nullum crimen nulla
A (Witness went down from the stand and went to the accused seated in the courtroom and pointed to poena sine lege. It is undoubted, therefore, that unless there be a radical change in the thinking of the
the accused Timoteo Cabural). (tsn. pp. 32-35, May 29, 1961 hearing) Court, it is Article 294(2) not Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code that calls for application in the crime
We agree with the lower court that Cabural alone was responsible for the rape on Agripina. There is no of robbery with rape. 2 As noted in the opinion of the Court penned by Justice Aquino in People v.
evidence that his co-appellant Yangyang and the other malefactors made advances on her. Besides, the Perello: 3 "Effective August 15, 1975 (or subsequent to this case) Presidential Decree No. 767 imposes the
extra-judicial confessions of Lasponia (Exhibits B, B-1, B-2 and B3 Leonide Cabual (Exhibits C, C-1 to C-5 penalty of reclusion perpetua to death 'when the robbery accompanied with rape is committed with the
and Ciriaco Yangyang (Exhibits H, H-1 and H-2) point to appellant Cabural as the mastermind and the role use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons.' That increased penalty cannot be retroactively
each of them would play (as in fact they did) in the commission of the crime. Their interlocking applied to this case. 4 As such offense of robbery was committed before that date, it is Article 294(2),
confessions indicate how they would go to the scene of the crime, the manner by which they would enter before its amendment, that supplies the governing rule. The applicable law then is clear and explicit. It
into the premises of Kim San Milling Company and, as aptly observed by the trial court, the details which defined the offense and prescribed the penalty. The doctrine announced in Lizarraga Hermanos v. Yap
only the participants could amply give. Tico 5 by Justice Moreland, in categorical language comes to mind. Thus: "The first and fundamental duty
Further, accused Cabual and Lasponia were sworn by Fiscal Leonardo Magsalin who instructed the PC of courts, in our judgment, is to apply the law. Construction and interpretation come only after it has
investigators to leave the room so that they (Cabual and Lasponia) would be able to speak their minds been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate without them." 6 There is relevance too
freely. Fiscal Magsalin testified that said accused readily and without hesitation signed their respective to this excerpt from Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa sa Manila Railroad Company Credit Union Inc. v.
extra-judicial confessions. Manila Railroad Company: 7 "The applicable provision of Republic Act. No. 2023 quoted earlier, speaks
Finally, We find no merit in the alibis interposed by appellants Cabural and Yangyang. As pointed out by for itself. There is no ambiguity. As thus worded, it was so applied. Petitioner-appellant cannot therefore
the Solicitor General in his brief: raise any valid objection. For the lower court to view it otherwise would have been to alter the law. That
The fact that Cabural played mahjong with Virginia Cruz Maruhom and a certain Gomer at the store of cannot be done by the judiciary. That is a function that properly appertains to the legislative branch. 8
Ason in Barrio Maigo from 2:00 P.M. of September 13, 1960 to 3:00 A.M. of September 14, 1960 is no Nothing more appropriately appertains to the legislative branch than the definition of a crime and the
guarantee that he could not be at the scene of the crime (Kim San Milling Company, situated in Palao a prescription of the penalty to be imposed. That is not a doctrine of recent vintage. It is traceable to
37-kilometer stretch which could be negotiated in one hour by car (tsn., p. 8, Sept. 20, 1966). Considering United States v. Wiltberger, 9 an 1820 America. Supreme Court opinion. No less than the eminent Chief
the confessions of Lasponia, Cabual and Yangyang all pointing to Cabural as the one in control of the Justice Marshall spoke for the Court. To quote his exact language: "The rule that penal laws are to be
vehicle utilized in the commission of the crime, the conclusion is not hard to reach that his presence at construed strictly is perhaps not much less old than construction itself. It is founded on the tenderness of
the scene of the crime is much likelier than at Maigo. the law for the rights of individuals; and on the plain principle that the power of punishment is vested in

9
the legislative, not in the judicial department. It is the legislature, not the court, which is to define a testimony of the victim of the rape show quite clearly that Cabural alone was responsible for and
crime, and ordain its punishment." 10 That ruling was followed in the Philippines in a 1906 decision, committed the rape on the victim, so that his companions were likewise properly sentenced for the crime
United States v. Almond. 11 of robbery alone. There is, therefore, no room for the application of my separate opinions in the cited
So it has been in the Philippines since then. It was the same Justice Moreland who in United States v. cases of Perello, Carandang, Mabag etc., that where robbery with rape is committed but the rape is
Abad Santos 12 promulgated in 1917, gave expression to a variation of such a fundamental postulate in qualified by the use of a deadly weapon or is committed by two persons, either of these two actors is
this wise: "Criminal statutes are to be strictly construed. No person should be brought within their terms singled out by the amendatory Act, R.A. 4111, as supplying the controlling qualification and mandates he
who is not clearly within them, nor should any act be pronounced criminal which is not clearly made so imposition of the death penalty for the crime of qualified rape under Art. 335 of the Penal Code (and not
by the statute." 13 The same year, Justice Carson in United States v. Estapia 14 in rejecting the contention the lesser penalty of perpetua under Art. 294 for the complex crime of robbery with rape).
that the application of a penal provision even if not covered by its terms should be viewed by the Separate Opinions
judiciary as commendable, conducive as it is to the repression of a reprehensible practice" pointed out: FERNANDO, C.J., concurring:
"To this it should be sufficient answer to say that neither the executive nor the judicial authorities are My concurrence in the opinion of the Court penned by Justice Relova is full, entire, and complete.
authorized to impose fines and prison sentences in cases wherein such fines and prison sentences are Nonetheless, I wish to express my gratification that this Court by a decisive vote 1 sustains the basic
not clearly authorized by law, and this without regard to the end sought to be attained by the postulate in both civil law and common law jurisdictions, expressed in the maximum Nullum crimen nulla
enforcement of such unauthorized penalties."15 poena sine lege. It is undoubted, therefore, that unless there be a radical change in the thinking of the
It is to be admitted that from the standpoint of logic alone, there is much to be said for the view that Court, it is Article 294(2) not Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code that calls for application in the crime
since rape under certain circumstances is penalized with death, it is an affront to reason if robbery with of robbery with rape. 2 As noted in the opinion of the Court penned by Justice Aquino in People v.
rape carries with it a lesser penalty. The latter offense is far more reprehensible, ergo it must be punished Perello: 3 "Effective August 15, 1975 (or subsequent to this case) Presidential Decree No. 767 imposes the
at least with equal if not more severity. It is from that perspective that in People v. Carandang 16 while penalty of reclusion perpetua to death 'when the robbery accompanied with rape is committed with the
the penalty imposed is that of reclusion perpetua there were two separate opinions one from Justice use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons.' That increased penalty cannot be retroactively
Teehankee and the other from the late Chief Justice, then Justice, Castro. They would apply Article 335 of applied to this case. 4 As such offense of robbery was committed before that date, it is Article 294(2),
the Revised Penal Code. Retired Chief Justice Makalintal, now Speaker of the Batasan Pambansa, then before its amendment, that supplies the governing rule. The applicable law then is clear and explicit. It
Acting Chief Justice, concurred in the separate opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro. Less than a year defined the offense and prescribed the penalty. The doctrine announced in Lizarraga Hermanos v. Yap
before, however, in September of 1972, Carandang being a 1973 decision, he penned the unanimous Tico 5 by Justice Moreland, in categorical language comes to mind. Thus: "The first and fundamental duty
opinion in People v. Olden 17 affirming the joint judgment of a Court of First Instance of Davao in two of courts, in our judgment, is to apply the law. Construction and interpretation come only after it has
cases, one of which was robbery in band with multiple rape. It was not the death sentence that was been demonstrated that application is impossible or inadequate without them." 6 There is relevance too
imposed but reclusion perpetua. 18 That case is certainly later than People v. Obtinalia 19 decided in April to this excerpt from Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa sa Manila Railroad Company Credit Union Inc. v.
of 1971, where, in a per curiam opinion, Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code was applied, although the Manila Railroad Company: 7 "The applicable provision of Republic Act. No. 2023 quoted earlier, speaks
offense for which the accused were found guilty was robbery with rape. It is, therefore, re-assuring that for itself.1äwphï1.ñët There is no ambiguity. As thus worded, it was so applied. Petitioner-appellant
with the decision of this case, the uncertainty which has beclouded the issue of the appropriate cannot therefore raise any valid objection. For the lower court to view it otherwise would have been to
imposable penalty has been removed. alter the law. That cannot be done by the judiciary. That is a function that properly appertains to the
One last word. The maximum Nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege has its roots in history. It is in legislative branch. 8
accordance with both centuries of civil law and common law tradition. Moreover, it is an indispensable Nothing more appropriately appertains to the legislative branch than the definition of a crime and the
coronary to a regime of liberty enshrined in our Constitution. It is of the essence then that while anti- prescription of the penalty to be imposed. That is not a doctrine of recent vintage. It is traceable to
social acts should be penalized, there must be a clear definition of the punishable offense as well as the United States v. Wiltberger, 9 an 1820 America. Supreme Court opinion. No less than the eminent Chief
penalty that may be imposed a penalty, to repeat, that can be fixed by the legislative body, and the Justice Marshall spoke for the Court. To quote his exact language: "The rule that penal laws are to be
legislative body alone. So constitutionalism mandates, with its stress on jurisdiction rather than construed strictly is perhaps not much less old than construction itself. It is founded on the tenderness of
guvernaculum.The judiciary as the dispenser of justice through law must be aware of the limitation on its the law for the rights of individuals; and on the plain principle that the power of punishment is vested in
own power. the legislative, not in the judicial department. It is the legislature, not the court, which is to define a
Such a concept calls for undiminished respect from the judiciary. For it is the department by which the crime, and ordain its punishment." 10 That ruling was followed in the Philippines in a 1906 decision,
other branches are held to strict accountability. It sees to it, in propriate cases of course, that they are United States v. Almond. 11
held within the bounds of their authority. Certainly, the judiciary is not devoid of discretion., It can, to So it has been in the Philippines since then. It was the same Justice Moreland who in United States v.
paraphrase Cardozo, fill in the gap and clear the ambiguities. To that extent. it is free but, to recall Abad Santos 12 promulgated in 1917, gave expression to a variation of such a fundamental postulate in
Cardozo anew, it "is still not wholly free. [A judge] is no to innovate at pleasure. He is not a knight-errant, this wise: "Criminal statutes are to be strictly construed. No person should be brought within their terms
roaming at will in pursuit of his own Ideal of beauty or of goodness. He is to draw his inspiration from who is not clearly within them, nor should any act be pronounced criminal which is not clearly made so
consecrated principles." 20 by the statute." 13 The same year, Justice Carson in United States v. Estapia 14 in rejecting the contention
Tersely stated, the judiciary administers justice according to law. This is by no means to imply that in the that the application of a penal provision even if not covered by its terms should be viewed by the
case at hand, justice according to law is at war with the concept of justice viewed from the layman's judiciary as commendable, conducive as it is to the repression of a reprehensible practice" pointed out:
standpoint. The system of criminal law followed in the Philippines, true to the ways of constitutionalism, "To this it should be sufficient answer to say that neither the executive nor the judicial authorities are
has always leaned toward the milder form of responsibility, whether as to the nature of the offense or authorized to impose fines and prison sentences in cases wherein such fines and prison sentences are
the penalty to be incurred by the wrongdoer. 21 Where, as in this case, the law speaks in clear and not clearly authorized by law, and this without regard to the end sought to be attained by the
categorical language, such a principle is impressed with greater weight. enforcement of such unauthorized penalties."15
TEEHANKEE, J, concurring: It is to be admitted that from the standpoint of logic alone, there is much to be said for the view that
I concur with the judgment at bar which affirms the trial court's decision convicting the accused- since rape under certain circumstances is penalized with death, it is an affront to reason if robbery with
appellant Timoteo Cabural alone of the crime of robbery with rape and imposing upon him the proper rape carries with it a lesser penalty. The latter offense is far more reprehensible, ergo it must be punished
penalty of reclusion perpetua under Article 294, par. 2 of the the Revised Penal Code. The record and at least with equal if not more severity. It is from that perspective that in People v. Carandang 16 while

10
the penalty imposed is that of reclusion perpetua there were two separate opinions one from Justice
Teehankee and the other from the late Chief Justice, then Justice, Castro. They would apply Article 335 of
the Revised Penal Code. Retired Chief Justice Makalintal, now Speaker of the Batasan Pambansa, then
Acting Chief Justice, concurred in the separate opinion of the late Chief Justice Castro. Less than a year
before, however, in September of 1972, Carandang being a 1973 decision, he penned the unanimous
opinion in People v. Olden 17 affirming the joint judgment of a Court of First Instance of Davao in two
cases, one of which was robbery in band with multiple rape. It was not the death sentence that was
imposed but reclusion perpetua. 18 That case is certainly later than People v. Obtinalia 19 decided in April
of 1971, where, in a per curiam opinion, Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code was applied, although the
offense for which the accused were found guilty was robbery with rape. It is, therefore, re-assuring that
with the decision of this case, the uncertainty which has beclouded the issue of the appropriate
imposable penalty has been removed.
One last word. The maximum Nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege has its roots in history. It is in
accordance with both centuries of civil law and common law tradition. Moreover, it is an indispensable
coronary to a regime of liberty enshrined in our Constitution. It is of the essence then that while anti-
social acts should be penalized, there must be a clear definition of the punishable offense as well as the
penalty that may be imposed a penalty, to repeat, that can be fixed by the legislative body, and the
legislative body alone. So constitutionalism mandates, with its stress on jurisdiction rather than
guvernaculum.The judiciary as the dispenser of justice through law must be aware of the limitation on its
own power.
Such a concept calls for undiminished respect from the judiciary. For it is the department by which the
other branches are held to strict accountability. It sees to it, in propriate cases of course, that they are
held within the bounds of their authority. Certainly, the judiciary is not devoid of discretion., It can, to
paraphrase Cardozo, fill in the gap and clear the ambiguities. To that extent. it is free but, to recall
Cardozo anew, it "is still not wholly free. [A judge] is no to innovate at pleasure. He is not a knight-errant,
roaming at will in pursuit of his own Ideal of beauty or of goodness. He is to draw his inspiration from
consecrated principles." 20
Tersely stated, the judiciary administers justice according to law. This is by no means to imply that in the
case at hand, justice according to law is at war with the concept of justice viewed from the layman's
standpoint. The system of criminal law followed in the Philippines, true to the ways of constitutionalism,
has always leaned toward the milder form of responsibility, whether as to the nature of the offense or
the penalty to be incurred by the wrongdoer. 21 Where, as in this case, the law speaks in clear and
categorical language, such a principle is impressed with greater weight.
TEEHANKEE, J, concurring:
I concur with the judgment at bar which affirms the trial court's decision convicting the accused-
appellant Timoteo Cabural alone of the crime of robbery with rape and imposing upon him the proper
penalty of reclusion perpetua under Article 294, par. 2 of the the Revised Penal Code. The record and
testimony of the victim of the rape show quite clearly that Cabural alone was responsible for and
committed the rape on the victim, so that his companions were likewise properly sentenced for the crime
of robbery alone. There is, therefore, no room for the application of my separate opinions in the cited
cases of Perello, Carandang, Mabag etc., that where robbery with rape is committed but the rape is
qualified by the use of a deadly weapon or is committed by two persons, either of these two actors is
singled out by the amendatory Act, R.A. 4111, as supplying the controlling qualification and mandates he
imposition of the death penalty for the crime of qualified rape under Art. 335 of the Penal Code (and not
the lesser penalty of perpetua under Art. 294 for the complex crime of robbery with rape).

11
Republic of the Philippines "Bogs" Asuncion, Samuel "Sam" Belleza, Bienvenido "Bien" Marquez III, Roberto Francis "Bert" Navera,
SUPREME COURT Geronimo "Randy" Recinto, Felix Sy, Jr., and Leonardo "Lenny" Villa (neophytes).
Manila On the night of 8 February 1991, the neophytes were met by some members of the Aquila Fraternity
SECOND DIVISION (Aquilans) at the lobby of the Ateneo Law School. They all proceeded to Rufo’s Restaurant to have dinner.
G.R. No. 151258 February 1, 2012 Afterwards, they went to the house of Michael Musngi, also an Aquilan, who briefed the neophytes on
ARTEMIO VILLAREAL, Petitioner, vs. what to expect during the initiation rites. The latter were informed that there would be physical beatings,
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. and that they could quit at any time. Their initiation rites were scheduled to last for three days. After
x-----------------------x their "briefing," they were brought to the Almeda Compound in Caloocan City for the commencement of
G.R. No. 154954 their initiation.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. Even before the neophytes got off the van, they had already received threats and insults from the
The HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, ANTONIO MARIANO ALMEDA, DALMACIO LIM, Jr., JUNEL Aquilans. As soon as the neophytes alighted from the van and walked towards the pelota court of the
ANTHONY AMA, ERNESTO JOSE MONTECILLO, VINCENT TECSON, ANTONIO GENERAL, SANTIAGO Almeda compound, some of the Aquilans delivered physical blows to them. The neophytes were then
RANADA III, NELSON VICTORINO, JAIME MARIA FLORES II, ZOSIMO MENDOZA, MICHAEL MUSNGI, subjected to traditional forms of Aquilan "initiation rites." These rites included the "Indian Run," which
VICENTE VERDADERO, ETIENNE GUERRERO, JUDE FERNANDEZ, AMANTE PURISIMA II, EULOGIO required the neophytes to run a gauntlet of two parallel rows of Aquilans, each row delivering blows to
SABBAN, PERCIVAL BRIGOLA, PAUL ANGELO SANTOS, JONAS KARL B. PEREZ, RENATO BANTUG, JR., the neophytes; the "Bicol Express," which obliged the neophytes to sit on the floor with their backs
ADEL ABAS, JOSEPH LLEDO, and RONAN DE GUZMAN, Respondents. against the wall and their legs outstretched while the Aquilans walked, jumped, or ran over their legs; the
x-----------------------x "Rounds," in which the neophytes were held at the back of their pants by the "auxiliaries" (the Aquilans
G.R. No. 155101 charged with the duty of lending assistance to neophytes during initiation rites), while the latter were
FIDELITO DIZON, Petitioner, vs. being hit with fist blows on their arms or with knee blows on their thighs by two Aquilans; and the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. "Auxies’ Privilege Round," in which the auxiliaries were given the opportunity to inflict physical pain on
x-----------------------x the neophytes. During this time, the neophytes were also indoctrinated with the fraternity principles.
G.R. Nos. 178057 & 178080 They survived their first day of initiation.
GERARDA H. VILLA, Petitioner, vs. On the morning of their second day – 9 February 1991 – the neophytes were made to present comic
MANUEL LORENZO ESCALONA II, MARCUS JOEL CAPELLAN RAMOS, CRISANTO CRUZ SARUCA, Jr., and plays and to play rough basketball. They were also required to memorize and recite the Aquila
ANSELMO ADRIANO, Respondents. Fraternity’s principles. Whenever they would give a wrong answer, they would be hit on their arms or
DECISION legs. Late in the afternoon, the Aquilans revived the initiation rites proper and proceeded to torment
SERENO, J.: them physically and psychologically. The neophytes were subjected to the same manner of hazing that
The public outrage over the death of Leonardo "Lenny" Villa – the victim in this case – on 10 February they endured on the first day of initiation. After a few hours, the initiation for the day officially ended.
1991 led to a very strong clamor to put an end to hazing.1 Due in large part to the brave efforts of his After a while, accused non-resident or alumni fraternity members10 Fidelito Dizon (Dizon) and Artemio
mother, petitioner Gerarda Villa, groups were organized, condemning his senseless and tragic death. This Villareal (Villareal) demanded that the rites be reopened. The head of initiation rites, Nelson Victorino
widespread condemnation prompted Congress to enact a special law, which became effective in 1995, (Victorino), initially refused. Upon the insistence of Dizon and Villareal, however, he reopened the
that would criminalize hazing.2 The intent of the law was to discourage members from making hazing a initiation rites. The fraternity members, including Dizon and Villareal, then subjected the neophytes to
requirement for joining their sorority, fraternity, organization, or association.3 Moreover, the law was "paddling" and to additional rounds of physical pain. Lenny received several paddle blows, one of which
meant to counteract the exculpatory implications of "consent" and "initial innocent act" in the conduct of was so strong it sent him sprawling to the ground. The neophytes heard him complaining of intense pain
initiation rites by making the mere act of hazing punishable or mala prohibita.4 and difficulty in breathing. After their last session of physical beatings, Lenny could no longer walk. He
Sadly, the Lenny Villa tragedy did not discourage hazing activities in the country.5 Within a year of his had to be carried by the auxiliaries to the carport. Again, the initiation for the day was officially ended,
death, six more cases of hazing-related deaths emerged – those of Frederick Cahiyang of the University and the neophytes started eating dinner. They then slept at the carport.
of Visayas in Cebu; Raul Camaligan of San Beda College; Felipe Narne of Pamantasan ng Araullo in After an hour of sleep, the neophytes were suddenly roused by Lenny’s shivering and incoherent
Cabanatuan City; Dennis Cenedoza of the Cavite Naval Training Center; Joselito Mangga of the Philippine mumblings. Initially, Villareal and Dizon dismissed these rumblings, as they thought he was just
Merchant Marine Institute; and Joselito Hernandez of the University of the Philippines in Baguio City.6 overacting. When they realized, though, that Lenny was really feeling cold, some of the Aquilans started
Although courts must not remain indifferent to public sentiments, in this case the general condemnation helping him. They removed his clothes and helped him through a sleeping bag to keep him warm. When
of a hazing-related death, they are still bound to observe a fundamental principle in our criminal justice his condition worsened, the Aquilans rushed him to the hospital. Lenny was pronounced dead on arrival.
system – "[N]o act constitutes a crime… unless it is made so by law."7 Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine Consequently, a criminal case for homicide was filed against the following 35 Aquilans:
lege. Even if an act is viewed by a large section of the populace as immoral or injurious, it cannot be In Criminal Case No. C-38340(91)
considered a crime, absent any law prohibiting its commission. As interpreters of the law, judges are 1. Fidelito Dizon (Dizon)
called upon to set aside emotion, to resist being swayed by strong public sentiments, and to rule strictly 2. Artemio Villareal (Villareal)
based on the elements of the offense and the facts allowed in evidence. 3. Efren de Leon (De Leon)
Before the Court are the consolidated cases docketed as G.R. No. 151258 (Villareal v. People), G.R. No. 4. Vincent Tecson (Tecson)
154954 (People v. Court of Appeals), G.R. No. 155101 (Dizon v. People), and G.R. Nos. 178057 and 5. Junel Anthony Ama (Ama)
178080 (Villa v. Escalona). 6. Antonio Mariano Almeda (Almeda)
Facts 7. Renato Bantug, Jr. (Bantug)
The pertinent facts, as determined by the Court of Appeals (CA)8 and the trial court,9 are as follows: 8. Nelson Victorino (Victorino)
In February 1991, seven freshmen law students of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law 9. Eulogio Sabban (Sabban)
signified their intention to join the Aquila Legis Juris Fraternity (Aquila Fraternity). They were Caesar 10. Joseph Lledo (Lledo)
11. Etienne Guerrero (Guerrero)

12
12. Michael Musngi (Musngi) 9015318 reversed the trial court’s Orders and dismissed the criminal case against Escalona, Ramos,
13. Jonas Karl Perez (Perez) Saruca, and Adriano on the basis of violation of their right to speedy trial.19
14. Paul Angelo Santos (Santos) From the aforementioned Decisions, the five (5) consolidated Petitions were individually brought before
15. Ronan de Guzman (De Guzman) this Court.
16. Antonio General (General) G.R. No. 151258 – Villareal v. People
17. Jaime Maria Flores II (Flores) The instant case refers to accused Villareal’s Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45. The Petition
18. Dalmacio Lim, Jr. (Lim) raises two reversible errors allegedly committed by the CA in its Decision dated 10 January 2002 in CA-
19. Ernesto Jose Montecillo (Montecillo) G.R. No. 15520 – first, denial of due process; and, second, conviction absent proof beyond reasonable
20. Santiago Ranada III (Ranada) doubt.20
21. Zosimo Mendoza (Mendoza) While the Petition was pending before this Court, counsel for petitioner Villareal filed a Notice of Death
22. Vicente Verdadero (Verdadero) of Party on 10 August 2011. According to the Notice, petitioner Villareal died on 13 March 2011. Counsel
23. Amante Purisima II (Purisima) thus asserts that the subject matter of the Petition previously filed by petitioner does not survive the
24. Jude Fernandez (J. Fernandez) death of the accused.
25. Adel Abas (Abas) G.R. No. 155101 – Dizon v. People
26. Percival Brigola (Brigola) Accused Dizon filed a Rule 45 Petition for Review on Certiorari, questioning the CA’s Decision dated 10
In Criminal Case No. C-38340 January 2002 and Resolution dated 30 August 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520.21 Petitioner sets forth two
1. Manuel Escalona II (Escalona) main issues – first, that he was denied due process when the CA sustained the trial court’s forfeiture of
2. Crisanto Saruca, Jr. (Saruca) his right to present evidence; and, second, that he was deprived of due process when the CA did not
3. Anselmo Adriano (Adriano) apply to him the same "ratio decidendi that served as basis of acquittal of the other accused."22
4. Marcus Joel Ramos (Ramos) As regards the first issue, the trial court made a ruling, which forfeited Dizon’s right to present evidence
5. Reynaldo Concepcion (Concepcion) during trial. The trial court expected Dizon to present evidence on an earlier date since a co-accused,
6. Florentino Ampil (Ampil) Antonio General, no longer presented separate evidence during trial. According to Dizon, his right should
7. Enrico de Vera III (De Vera) not have been considered as waived because he was justified in asking for a postponement. He argues
8. Stanley Fernandez (S. Fernandez) that he did not ask for a resetting of any of the hearing dates and in fact insisted that he was ready to
9. Noel Cabangon (Cabangon) present evidence on the original pre-assigned schedule, and not on an earlier hearing date.
Twenty-six of the accused Aquilans in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) were jointly tried.11 On the other Regarding the second issue, petitioner contends that he should have likewise been acquitted, like the
hand, the trial against the remaining nine accused in Criminal Case No. C-38340 was held in abeyance other accused, since his acts were also part of the traditional initiation rites and were not tainted by evil
due to certain matters that had to be resolved first.12 motives.23 He claims that the additional paddling session was part of the official activity of the fraternity.
On 8 November 1993, the trial court rendered judgment in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91), holding the He also points out that one of the neophytes admitted that the chairperson of the initiation rites
26 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide, penalized with reclusion temporal "decided that [Lenny] was fit enough to undergo the initiation so Mr. Villareal proceeded to do the
under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code.13 A few weeks after the trial court rendered its judgment, paddling…."24 Further, petitioner echoes the argument of the Solicitor General that "the individual blows
or on 29 November 1993, Criminal Case No. C-38340 against the remaining nine accused commenced inflicted by Dizon and Villareal could not have resulted in Lenny’s death."25 The Solicitor General
anew.14 purportedly averred that, "on the contrary, Dr. Arizala testified that the injuries suffered by Lenny could
On 10 January 2002, the CA in (CA-G.R. No. 15520)15 set aside the finding of conspiracy by the trial court not be considered fatal if taken individually, but if taken collectively, the result is the violent death of the
in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) and modified the criminal liability of each of the accused according to victim."26
individual participation. Accused De Leon had by then passed away, so the following Decision applied Petitioner then counters the finding of the CA that he was motivated by ill will. He claims that Lenny’s
only to the remaining 25 accused, viz: father could not have stolen the parking space of Dizon’s father, since the latter did not have a car, and
1. Nineteen of the accused-appellants – Victorino, Sabban, Lledo, Guerrero, Musngi, Perez, De Guzman, their fathers did not work in the same place or office. Revenge for the loss of the parking space was the
Santos, General, Flores, Lim, Montecillo, Ranada, Mendoza, Verdadero, Purisima, Fernandez, Abas, and alleged ill motive of Dizon. According to petitioner, his utterances regarding a stolen parking space were
Brigola (Victorino et al.) – were acquitted, as their individual guilt was not established by proof beyond only part of the "psychological initiation." He then cites the testimony of Lenny’s co-neophyte – witness
reasonable doubt. Marquez – who admitted knowing "it was not true and that he was just making it up…."27
2. Four of the accused-appellants – Vincent Tecson, Junel Anthony Ama, Antonio Mariano Almeda, and Further, petitioner argues that his alleged motivation of ill will was negated by his show of concern for
Renato Bantug, Jr. (Tecson et al.) – were found guilty of the crime of slight physical injuries and sentenced Villa after the initiation rites. Dizon alludes to the testimony of one of the neophytes, who mentioned
to 20 days of arresto menor. They were also ordered to jointly pay the heirs of the victim the sum of ₱ that the former had kicked the leg of the neophyte and told him to switch places with Lenny to prevent
30,000 as indemnity. the latter’s chills. When the chills did not stop, Dizon, together with Victorino, helped Lenny through a
3. Two of the accused-appellants – Fidelito Dizon and Artemio Villareal – were found guilty beyond sleeping bag and made him sit on a chair. According to petitioner, his alleged ill motivation is contradicted
reasonable doubt of the crime of homicide under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code. Having found no by his manifestation of compassion and concern for the victim’s well-being.
mitigating or aggravating circumstance, the CA sentenced them to an indeterminate sentence of 10 years G.R. No. 154954 – People v. Court of Appeals
of prision mayor to 17 years of reclusion temporal. They were also ordered to indemnify, jointly and This Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 seeks the reversal of the CA’s Decision dated 10 January 2002
severally, the heirs of Lenny Villa in the sum of ₱ 50,000 and to pay the additional amount of ₱ 1,000,000 and Resolution dated 30 August 2002 in CA-G.R. No. 15520, insofar as it acquitted 19 (Victorino et al.)
by way of moral damages. and convicted 4 (Tecson et al.) of the accused Aquilans of the lesser crime of slight physical injuries.28
On 5 August 2002, the trial court in Criminal Case No. 38340 dismissed the charge against accused According to the Solicitor General, the CA erred in holding that there could have been no conspiracy to
Concepcion on the ground of violation of his right to speedy trial.16 Meanwhile, on different dates commit hazing, as hazing or fraternity initiation had not yet been criminalized at the time Lenny died.
between the years 2003 and 2005, the trial court denied the respective Motions to Dismiss of accused In the alternative, petitioner claims that the ruling of the trial court should have been upheld, inasmuch
Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano.17 On 25 October 2006, the CA in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 89060 & as it found that there was conspiracy to inflict physical injuries on Lenny. Since the injuries led to the

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victim’s death, petitioner posits that the accused Aquilans are criminally liable for the resulting crime of In an Order dated 28 July 1993, the trial court set the dates for the reception of evidence for accused-
homicide, pursuant to Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code.29 The said article provides: "Criminal liability petitioner Dizon on the 8th, 15th, and 22nd of September; and the 5th and 12 of October 1993.35 The
shall be incurred… [b]y any person committing a felony (delito) although the wrongful act done be Order likewise stated that "it will not entertain any postponement and that all the accused who have not
different from that which he intended." yet presented their respective evidence should be ready at all times down the line, with their evidence
Petitioner also argues that the rule on double jeopardy is inapplicable. According to the Solicitor General, on all said dates. Failure on their part to present evidence when required shall therefore be construed as
the CA acted with grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, in setting aside waiver to present evidence."36
the trial court’s finding of conspiracy and in ruling that the criminal liability of all the accused must be However, on 19 August 1993, counsel for another accused manifested in open court that his client –
based on their individual participation in the commission of the crime. Antonio General – would no longer present separate evidence. Instead, the counsel would adopt the
G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 – Villa v. Escalona testimonial evidence of the other accused who had already testified.37 Because of this development and
Petitioner Villa filed the instant Petition for Review on Certiorari, praying for the reversal of the CA’s pursuant to the trial court’s Order that the parties "should be ready at all times down the line," the trial
Decision dated 25 October 2006 and Resolution dated 17 May 2007 in CA-G.R. S.P. Nos. 89060 and court expected Dizon to present evidence on the next trial date – 25 August 1993 – instead of his
90153.30 The Petition involves the dismissal of the criminal charge filed against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, originally assigned dates. The original dates were supposed to start two weeks later, or on 8 September
and Adriano. 1993.38 Counsel for accused Dizon was not able to present evidence on the accelerated date. To address
Due to "several pending incidents," the trial court ordered a separate trial for accused Escalona, Saruca, the situation, counsel filed a Constancia on 25 August 1993, alleging that he had to appear in a previously
Adriano, Ramos, Ampil, Concepcion, De Vera, S. Fernandez, and Cabangon (Criminal Case No. C-38340) to scheduled case, and that he would be ready to present evidence on the dates originally assigned to his
commence after proceedings against the 26 other accused in Criminal Case No. C-38340(91) shall have clients.39 The trial court denied the Manifestation on the same date and treated the Constancia as a
terminated. On 8 November 1993, the trial court found the 26 accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt. motion for postponement, in violation of the three-day-notice rule under the Rules of Court.40
As a result, the proceedings in Criminal Case No. C-38340 involving the nine other co-accused Consequently, the trial court ruled that the failure of Dizon to present evidence amounted to a waiver of
recommenced on 29 November 1993. For "various reasons," the initial trial of the case did not that right.41
commence until 28 March 2005, or almost 12 years after the arraignment of the nine accused. Accused-petitioner Dizon thus argues that he was deprived of due process of law when the trial court
Petitioner Villa assails the CA’s dismissal of the criminal case involving 4 of the 9 accused, namely, forfeited his right to present evidence. According to him, the postponement of the 25 August 1993
Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano. She argues that the accused failed to assert their right to speedy hearing should have been considered justified, since his original pre-assigned trial dates were not
trial within a reasonable period of time. She also points out that the prosecution cannot be faulted for supposed to start until 8 September 1993, when he was scheduled to present evidence. He posits that he
the delay, as the original records and the required evidence were not at its disposal, but were still in the was ready to present evidence on the dates assigned to him. He also points out that he did not ask for a
appellate court. resetting of any of the said hearing dates; that he in fact insisted on being allowed to present evidence on
We resolve herein the various issues that we group into five. the dates fixed by the trial court. Thus, he contends that the trial court erred in accelerating the schedule
Issues of presentation of evidence, thereby invalidating the finding of his guilt.
1. Whether the forfeiture of petitioner Dizon’s right to present evidence constitutes denial of due The right of the accused to present evidence is guaranteed by no less than the Constitution itself.42
process; Article III, Section 14(2) thereof, provides that "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused … shall enjoy the
2. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when right to be heard by himself and counsel…" This constitutional right includes the right to present evidence
it dismissed the case against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano for violation of the right of the in one’s defense,43 as well as the right to be present and defend oneself in person at every stage of the
accused to speedy trial; proceedings.44
3. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion, amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, In Crisostomo v. Sandiganbayan,45 the Sandiganbayan set the hearing of the defense’s presentation of
when it set aside the finding of conspiracy by the trial court and adjudicated the liability of each accused evidence for 21, 22 and 23 June 1995. The 21 June 1995 hearing was cancelled due to "lack of quorum in
according to individual participation; the regular membership" of the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division and upon the agreement of the parties.
4. Whether accused Dizon is guilty of homicide; and The hearing was reset for the next day, 22 June 1995, but Crisostomo and his counsel failed to attend.
5. Whether the CA committed grave abuse of discretion when it pronounced Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and The Sandiganbayan, on the very same day, issued an Order directing the issuance of a warrant for the
Bantug guilty only of slight physical injuries. arrest of Crisostomo and the confiscation of his surety bond. The Order further declared that he had
Discussion waived his right to present evidence because of his nonappearance at "yesterday’s and today’s scheduled
Resolution on Preliminary Matters hearings." In ruling against the Order, we held thus:
G.R. No. 151258 – Villareal v. People Under Section 2(c), Rule 114 and Section 1(c), Rule 115 of the Rules of Court, Crisostomo’s non-
In a Notice dated 26 September 2011 and while the Petition was pending resolution, this Court took note appearance during the 22 June 1995 trial was merely a waiver of his right to be present for trial on such
of counsel for petitioner’s Notice of Death of Party. date only and not for the succeeding trial dates…
According to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code, criminal liability for personal penalties is totally xxx xxx xxx
extinguished by the death of the convict. In contrast, criminal liability for pecuniary penalties is Moreover, Crisostomo’s absence on the 22 June 1995 hearing should not have been deemed as a waiver
extinguished if the offender dies prior to final judgment. The term "personal penalties" refers to the of his right to present evidence. While constitutional rights may be waived, such waiver must be clear
service of personal or imprisonment penalties,31 while the term "pecuniary penalties" (las pecuniarias) and must be coupled with an actual intention to relinquish the right. Crisostomo did not voluntarily waive
refers to fines and costs,32 including civil liability predicated on the criminal offense complained of (i.e., in person or even through his counsel the right to present evidence. The Sandiganbayan imposed the
civil liability ex delicto).33 However, civil liability based on a source of obligation other than the delict waiver due to the agreement of the prosecution, Calingayan, and Calingayan's counsel.
survives the death of the accused and is recoverable through a separate civil action.34 In criminal cases where the imposable penalty may be death, as in the present case, the court is called
Thus, we hold that the death of petitioner Villareal extinguished his criminal liability for both personal upon to see to it that the accused is personally made aware of the consequences of a waiver of the right
and pecuniary penalties, including his civil liability directly arising from the delict complained of. to present evidence. In fact, it is not enough that the accused is simply warned of the consequences of
Consequently, his Petition is hereby dismissed, and the criminal case against him deemed closed and another failure to attend the succeeding hearings. The court must first explain to the accused personally
terminated. in clear terms the exact nature and consequences of a waiver. Crisostomo was not even forewarned. The
G.R. No. 155101 (Dizon v. People)

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Sandiganbayan simply went ahead to deprive Crisostomo of his right to present evidence without even discussed, however, where the dismissal of the case is capricious, certiorari lies.60 The rule on double
allowing Crisostomo to explain his absence on the 22 June 1995 hearing. jeopardy is not triggered when a petition challenges the validity of the order of dismissal instead of the
Clearly, the waiver of the right to present evidence in a criminal case involving a grave penalty is not correctness thereof.61 Rather, grave abuse of discretion amounts to lack of jurisdiction, and lack of
assumed and taken lightly. The presence of the accused and his counsel is indispensable so that the court jurisdiction prevents double jeopardy from attaching.62
could personally conduct a searching inquiry into the waiver x x x.46 (Emphasis supplied) We do not see grave abuse of discretion in the CA’s dismissal of the case against accused Escalona,
The trial court should not have deemed the failure of petitioner to present evidence on 25 August 1993 Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano on the basis of the violation of their right to speedy trial. The court held
as a waiver of his right to present evidence. On the contrary, it should have considered the excuse of thus:
counsel justified, especially since counsel for another accused – General – had made a last-minute An examination of the procedural history of this case would reveal that the following factors contributed
adoption of testimonial evidence that freed up the succeeding trial dates; and since Dizon was not to the slow progress of the proceedings in the case below:
scheduled to testify until two weeks later. At any rate, the trial court pre-assigned five hearing dates for xxx xxx xxx
the reception of evidence. If it really wanted to impose its Order strictly, the most it could have done was 5) The fact that the records of the case were elevated to the Court of Appeals and the prosecution’s
to forfeit one out of the five days set for Dizon’s testimonial evidence. Stripping the accused of all his pre- failure to comply with the order of the court a quo requiring them to secure certified true copies of the
assigned trial dates constitutes a patent denial of the constitutionally guaranteed right to due process. same.
Nevertheless, as in the case of an improvident guilty plea, an invalid waiver of the right to present xxx xxx xxx
evidence and be heard does not per se work to vacate a finding of guilt in the criminal case or to enforce While we are prepared to concede that some of the foregoing factors that contributed to the delay of the
an automatic remand of the case to the trial court.47 In People v. Bodoso, we ruled that where facts have trial of the petitioners are justifiable, We nonetheless hold that their right to speedy trial has been utterly
adequately been represented in a criminal case, and no procedural unfairness or irregularity has violated in this case x x x.
prejudiced either the prosecution or the defense as a result of the invalid waiver, the rule is that a guilty xxx xxx xxx
verdict may nevertheless be upheld if the judgment is supported beyond reasonable doubt by the [T]he absence of the records in the trial court [was] due to the fact that the records of the case were
evidence on record.48 elevated to the Court of Appeals, and the prosecution’s failure to comply with the order of the court a
We do not see any material inadequacy in the relevant facts on record to resolve the case at bar. Neither quo requiring it to secure certified true copies of the same. What is glaring from the records is the fact
can we see any "procedural unfairness or irregularity" that would substantially prejudice either the that as early as September 21, 1995, the court a quo already issued an Order requiring the prosecution,
prosecution or the defense as a result of the invalid waiver. In fact, the arguments set forth by accused through the Department of Justice, to secure the complete records of the case from the Court of
Dizon in his Petition corroborate the material facts relevant to decide the matter. Instead, what he is Appeals. The prosecution did not comply with the said Order as in fact, the same directive was repeated
really contesting in his Petition is the application of the law to the facts by the trial court and the CA. by the court a quo in an Order dated December 27, 1995. Still, there was no compliance on the part of
Petitioner Dizon admits direct participation in the hazing of Lenny Villa by alleging in his Petition that "all the prosecution. It is not stated when such order was complied with. It appears, however, that even until
actions of the petitioner were part of the traditional rites," and that "the alleged extension of the August 5, 2002, the said records were still not at the disposal of the trial court because the lack of it was
initiation rites was not outside the official activity of the fraternity."49 He even argues that "Dizon did not made the basis of the said court in granting the motion to dismiss filed by co-accused Concepcion x x x.
request for the extension and he participated only after the activity was sanctioned."50 xxx xxx xxx
For one reason or another, the case has been passed or turned over from one judge or justice to another It is likewise noticeable that from December 27, 1995, until August 5, 2002, or for a period of almost
– at the trial court, at the CA, and even at the Supreme Court. Remanding the case for the reception of seven years, there was no action at all on the part of the court a quo. Except for the pleadings filed by
the evidence of petitioner Dizon would only inflict further injustice on the parties. This case has been both the prosecution and the petitioners, the latest of which was on January 29, 1996, followed by
going on for almost two decades. Its resolution is long overdue. Since the key facts necessary to decide petitioner Saruca’s motion to set case for trial on August 17, 1998 which the court did not act upon, the
the case have already been determined, we shall proceed to decide it. case remained dormant for a considerable length of time. This prolonged inactivity whatsoever is
G.R. Nos. 178057 and 178080 (Villa v. Escalona) precisely the kind of delay that the constitution frowns upon x x x.63 (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner Villa argues that the case against Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano should not have been This Court points out that on 10 January 1992, the final amended Information was filed against Escalona,
dismissed, since they failed to assert their right to speedy trial within a reasonable period of time. She Ramos, Saruca, Ampil, S. Fernandez, Adriano, Cabangon, Concepcion, and De Vera.64 On 29 November
points out that the accused failed to raise a protest during the dormancy of the criminal case against 1993, they were all arraigned.65 Unfortunately, the initial trial of the case did not commence until 28
them, and that they asserted their right only after the trial court had dismissed the case against their co- March 2005 or almost 12 years after arraignment.66
accused Concepcion. Petitioner also emphasizes that the trial court denied the respective Motions to As illustrated in our ruling in Abardo v. Sandiganbayan, the unexplained interval or inactivity of the
Dismiss filed by Saruca, Escalona, Ramos, and Adriano, because it found that "the prosecution could not Sandiganbayan for close to five years since the arraignment of the accused amounts to an unreasonable
be faulted for the delay in the movement of this case when the original records and the evidence it may delay in the disposition of cases – a clear violation of the right of the accused to a speedy disposition of
require were not at its disposal as these were in the Court of Appeals."51 cases.67 Thus, we held:
The right of the accused to a speedy trial has been enshrined in Sections 14(2) and 16, Article III of the The delay in this case measures up to the unreasonableness of the delay in the disposition of cases in
1987 Constitution.52 This right requires that there be a trial free from vexatious, capricious or oppressive Angchangco, Jr. vs. Ombudsman, where the Court found the delay of six years by the Ombudsman in
delays.53 The right is deemed violated when the proceeding is attended with unjustified postponements resolving the criminal complaints to be violative of the constitutionally guaranteed right to a speedy
of trial, or when a long period of time is allowed to elapse without the case being tried and for no cause disposition of cases; similarly, in Roque vs. Office of the Ombudsman, where the Court held that the
or justifiable motive.54 In determining the right of the accused to speedy trial, courts should do more delay of almost six years disregarded the Ombudsman's duty to act promptly on complaints before him;
than a mathematical computation of the number of postponements of the scheduled hearings of the and in Cervantes vs. Sandiganbayan, where the Court held that the Sandiganbayan gravely abused its
case.55 The conduct of both the prosecution and the defense must be weighed.56 Also to be considered discretion in not quashing the information which was filed six years after the initiatory complaint was
are factors such as the length of delay, the assertion or non-assertion of the right, and the prejudice filed and thereby depriving petitioner of his right to a speedy disposition of the case. So it must be in the
wrought upon the defendant.57 instant case, where the reinvestigation by the Ombudsman has dragged on for a decade already.68
We have consistently ruled in a long line of cases that a dismissal of the case pursuant to the right of the (Emphasis supplied)
accused to speedy trial is tantamount to acquittal.58 As a consequence, an appeal or a reconsideration of From the foregoing principles, we affirm the ruling of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 89060 that accused
the dismissal would amount to a violation of the principle of double jeopardy.59 As we have previously Escalona et al.’s right to speedy trial was violated. Since there is nothing in the records that would show

15
that the subject of this Petition includes accused Ampil, S. Fernandez, Cabangon, and De Vera, the effects The Solicitor General filed a Rule 65 Petition for Certiorari, which seeks the reversal of (1) the acquittal of
of this ruling shall be limited to accused Escalona, Ramos, Saruca, and Adriano. Victorino et al. and (2) the conviction of Tecson et al. for the lesser crime of slight physical injuries, both
G.R. No. 154954 (People v. Court of Appeals) on the basis of a misappreciation of facts and evidence. According to the Petition, "the decision of the
The rule on double jeopardy is one of the pillars of our criminal justice system. It dictates that when a Court of Appeals is not in accordance with law because private complainant and petitioner were denied
person is charged with an offense, and the case is terminated – either by acquittal or conviction or in any due process of law when the public respondent completely ignored the a) Position Paper x x x b) the
other manner without the consent of the accused – the accused cannot again be charged with the same Motion for Partial Reconsideration x x x and c) the petitioner’s Comment x x x."85 Allegedly, the CA
or an identical offense.69 This principle is founded upon the law of reason, justice and conscience.70 It is ignored evidence when it adopted the theory of individual responsibility; set aside the finding of
embodied in the civil law maxim non bis in idem found in the common law of England and undoubtedly in conspiracy by the trial court; and failed to apply Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code.86 The Solicitor
every system of jurisprudence.71 It found expression in the Spanish Law, in the Constitution of the United General also assails the finding that the physical blows were inflicted only by Dizon and Villareal, as well
States, and in our own Constitution as one of the fundamental rights of the citizen,72 viz: as the appreciation of Lenny Villa’s consent to hazing.87
Article III – Bill of Rights In our view, what the Petition seeks is that we reexamine, reassess, and reweigh the probative value of
Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. If an act is the evidence presented by the parties.88 In People v. Maquiling, we held that grave abuse of discretion
punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under either shall constitute a bar to another cannot be attributed to a court simply because it allegedly misappreciated the facts and the evidence.89
prosecution for the same act. Mere errors of judgment are correctible by an appeal or a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules
Rule 117, Section 7 of the Rules of Court, which implements this particular constitutional right, provides of Court, and not by an application for a writ of certiorari.90 Therefore, pursuant to the rule on double
as follows:73 jeopardy, we are constrained to deny the Petition contra Victorino et al. – the 19 acquitted fraternity
SEC. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. — When an accused has been convicted or members.
acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated without his express consent by a We, however, modify the assailed judgment as regards Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug – the four
court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in fraternity members convicted of slight physical injuries.
form and substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the Indeed, we have ruled in a line of cases that the rule on double jeopardy similarly applies when the state
conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution seeks the imposition of a higher penalty against the accused.91 We have also recognized, however, that
for the offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for any offense certiorari may be used to correct an abusive judgment upon a clear demonstration that the lower court
which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged in the former complaint or blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice.92
information. The present case is one of those instances of grave abuse of discretion.
The rule on double jeopardy thus prohibits the state from appealing the judgment in order to reverse the In imposing the penalty of slight physical injuries on Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug, the CA reasoned
acquittal or to increase the penalty imposed either through a regular appeal under Rule 41 of the Rules thus:
of Court or through an appeal by certiorari on pure questions of law under Rule 45 of the same Rules.74 Based on the medical findings, it would appear that with the exclusion of the fatal wounds inflicted by
The requisites for invoking double jeopardy are the following: (a) there is a valid complaint or the accused Dizon and Villareal, the injuries sustained by the victim as a result of the physical punishment
information; (b) it is filed before a competent court; (c) the defendant pleaded to the charge; and (d) the heaped on him were serious in nature. However, by reason of the death of the victim, there can be no
defendant was acquitted or convicted, or the case against him or her was dismissed or otherwise precise means to determine the duration of the incapacity or the medical attendance required. To do so,
terminated without the defendant’s express consent.75 at this stage would be merely speculative. In a prosecution for this crime where the category of the
As we have reiterated in People v. Court of Appeals and Galicia, "[a] verdict of acquittal is immediately offense and the severity of the penalty depend on the period of illness or incapacity for labor, the length
final and a reexamination of the merits of such acquittal, even in the appellate courts, will put the of this period must likewise be proved beyond reasonable doubt in much the same manner as the same
accused in jeopardy for the same offense. The finality-of-acquittal doctrine has several avowed purposes. act charged [People v. Codilla, CA-G.R. No. 4079-R, June 26, 1950]. And when proof of the said period is
Primarily, it prevents the State from using its criminal processes as an instrument of harassment to wear absent, the crime committed should be deemed only as slight physical injuries [People v. De los Santos,
out the accused by a multitude of cases with accumulated trials. It also serves the additional purpose of CA, 59 O.G. 4393, citing People v. Penesa, 81 Phil. 398]. As such, this Court is constrained to rule that the
precluding the State, following an acquittal, from successively retrying the defendant in the hope of injuries inflicted by the appellants, Tecson, Ama, Almeda and Bantug, Jr., are only slight and not serious,
securing a conviction. And finally, it prevents the State, following conviction, from retrying the defendant in nature.93 (Emphasis supplied and citations included)
again in the hope of securing a greater penalty."76 We further stressed that "an acquitted defendant is The appellate court relied on our ruling in People v. Penesa94 in finding that the four accused should be
entitled to the right of repose as a direct consequence of the finality of his acquittal."77 held guilty only of slight physical injuries. According to the CA, because of "the death of the victim, there
This prohibition, however, is not absolute. The state may challenge the lower court’s acquittal of the can be no precise means to determine the duration of the incapacity or medical attendance required."95
accused or the imposition of a lower penalty on the latter in the following recognized exceptions: (1) The reliance on Penesa was utterly misplaced. A review of that case would reveal that the accused
where the prosecution is deprived of a fair opportunity to prosecute and prove its case, tantamount to a therein was guilty merely of slight physical injuries, because the victim’s injuries neither caused
deprivation of due process;78 (2) where there is a finding of mistrial;79 or (3) where there has been a incapacity for labor nor required medical attendance.96 Furthermore, he did not die.97 His injuries were
grave abuse of discretion.80 not even serious.98 Since Penesa involved a case in which the victim allegedly suffered physical injuries
The third instance refers to this Court’s judicial power under Rule 65 to determine whether or not there and not death, the ruling cited by the CA was patently inapplicable.
has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch On the contrary, the CA’s ultimate conclusion that Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug were liable merely
or instrumentality of the government.81 Here, the party asking for the review must show the presence of for slight physical injuries grossly contradicts its own findings of fact. According to the court, the four
a whimsical or capricious exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction; a patent and gross abuse accused "were found to have inflicted more than the usual punishment undertaken during such initiation
of discretion amounting to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform a duty imposed rites on the person of Villa."99 It then adopted the NBI medico-legal officer’s findings that the
by law or to act in contemplation of law; an exercise of power in an arbitrary and despotic manner by antecedent cause of Lenny Villa’s death was the "multiple traumatic injuries" he suffered from the
reason of passion and hostility;82 or a blatant abuse of authority to a point so grave and so severe as to initiation rites.100 Considering that the CA found that the "physical punishment heaped on [Lenny Villa
deprive the court of its very power to dispense justice.83 In such an event, the accused cannot be was] serious in nature,"101 it was patently erroneous for the court to limit the criminal liability to slight
considered to be at risk of double jeopardy.84 physical injuries, which is a light felony.

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Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code dictates that the perpetrator shall be liable for the consequences The term "dolo" or "malice" is a complex idea involving the elements of freedom, intelligence, and
of an act, even if its result is different from that intended. Thus, once a person is found to have intent.114 The first element, freedom, refers to an act done with deliberation and with power to choose
committed an initial felonious act, such as the unlawful infliction of physical injuries that results in the between two things.115 The second element, intelligence, concerns the ability to determine the morality
death of the victim, courts are required to automatically apply the legal framework governing the of human acts, as well as the capacity to distinguish between a licit and an illicit act.116 The last element,
destruction of life. This rule is mandatory, and not subject to discretion. intent, involves an aim or a determination to do a certain act.117
The CA’s application of the legal framework governing physical injuries – punished under Articles 262 to The element of intent – on which this Court shall focus – is described as the state of mind accompanying
266 for intentional felonies and Article 365 for culpable felonies – is therefore tantamount to a whimsical, an act, especially a forbidden act.118 It refers to the purpose of the mind and the resolve with which a
capricious, and abusive exercise of judgment amounting to lack of jurisdiction. According to the Revised person proceeds.119 It does not refer to mere will, for the latter pertains to the act, while intent
Penal Code, the mandatory and legally imposable penalty in case the victim dies should be based on the concerns the result of the act.120 While motive is the "moving power" that impels one to action for a
framework governing the destruction of the life of a person, punished under Articles 246 to 261 for definite result, intent is the "purpose" of using a particular means to produce the result.121 On the other
intentional felonies and Article 365 for culpable felonies, and not under the aforementioned provisions. hand, the term "felonious" means, inter alia, malicious, villainous, and/or proceeding from an evil heart
We emphasize that these two types of felonies are distinct from and legally inconsistent with each other, or purpose.122 With these elements taken together, the requirement of intent in intentional felony must
in that the accused cannot be held criminally liable for physical injuries when actual death occurs.102 refer to malicious intent, which is a vicious and malevolent state of mind accompanying a forbidden act.
Attributing criminal liability solely to Villareal and Dizon – as if only their acts, in and of themselves, Stated otherwise, intentional felony requires the existence of dolus malus – that the act or omission be
caused the death of Lenny Villa – is contrary to the CA’s own findings. From proof that the death of the done "willfully," "maliciously," "with deliberate evil intent," and "with malice aforethought."123 The
victim was the cumulative effect of the multiple injuries he suffered,103 the only logical conclusion is that maxim is actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea – a crime is not committed if the mind of the person
criminal responsibility should redound to all those who have been proven to have directly participated in performing the act complained of is innocent.124 As is required of the other elements of a felony, the
the infliction of physical injuries on Lenny. The accumulation of bruising on his body caused him to suffer existence of malicious intent must be proven beyond reasonable doubt.125
cardiac arrest. Accordingly, we find that the CA committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or In turn, the existence of malicious intent is necessary in order for conspiracy to attach. Article 8 of the
excess of jurisdiction in finding Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug criminally liable for slight physical Revised Penal Code – which provides that "conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an
injuries. As an allowable exception to the rule on double jeopardy, we therefore give due course to the agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it" – is to be interpreted to refer
Petition in G.R. No. 154954. only to felonies committed by means of dolo or malice. The phrase "coming to an agreement" connotes
Resolution on Ultimate Findings the existence of a prefaced "intent" to cause injury to another, an element present only in intentional
According to the trial court, although hazing was not (at the time) punishable as a crime, the intentional felonies. In culpable felonies or criminal negligence, the injury inflicted on another is unintentional, the
infliction of physical injuries on Villa was nonetheless a felonious act under Articles 263 to 266 of the wrong done being simply the result of an act performed without malice or criminal design.126 Here, a
Revised Penal Code. Thus, in ruling against the accused, the court a quo found that pursuant to Article person performs an initial lawful deed; however, due to negligence, imprudence, lack of foresight, or lack
4(1) of the Revised Penal Code, the accused fraternity members were guilty of homicide, as it was the of skill, the deed results in a wrongful act.127 Verily, a deliberate intent to do an unlawful act, which is a
direct, natural and logical consequence of the physical injuries they had intentionally inflicted.104 requisite in conspiracy, is inconsistent with the idea of a felony committed by means of culpa.128
The CA modified the trial court’s finding of criminal liability. It ruled that there could have been no The presence of an initial malicious intent to commit a felony is thus a vital ingredient in establishing the
conspiracy since the neophytes, including Lenny Villa, had knowingly consented to the conduct of hazing commission of the intentional felony of homicide.129 Being mala in se, the felony of homicide requires
during their initiation rites. The accused fraternity members, therefore, were liable only for the the existence of malice or dolo130 immediately before or simultaneously with the infliction of
consequences of their individual acts. Accordingly, 19 of the accused – Victorino et al. – were acquitted; 4 injuries.131 Intent to kill – or animus interficendi – cannot and should not be inferred, unless there is
of them – Tecson et al. – were found guilty of slight physical injuries; and the remaining 2 – Dizon and proof beyond reasonable doubt of such intent.132 Furthermore, the victim’s death must not have been
Villareal – were found guilty of homicide. the product of accident, natural cause, or suicide.133 If death resulted from an act executed without
The issue at hand does not concern a typical criminal case wherein the perpetrator clearly commits a malice or criminal intent – but with lack of foresight, carelessness, or negligence – the act must be
felony in order to take revenge upon, to gain advantage over, to harm maliciously, or to get even with, the qualified as reckless or simple negligence or imprudence resulting in homicide.134
victim. Rather, the case involves an ex ante situation in which a man – driven by his own desire to join a Hazing and other forms of initiation rites
society of men – pledged to go through physically and psychologically strenuous admission rituals, just so The notion of hazing is not a recent development in our society.135 It is said that, throughout history,
he could enter the fraternity. Thus, in order to understand how our criminal laws apply to such situation hazing in some form or another has been associated with organizations ranging from military groups to
absent the Anti-Hazing Law, we deem it necessary to make a brief exposition on the underlying concepts indigenous tribes.136 Some say that elements of hazing can be traced back to the Middle Ages, during
shaping intentional felonies, as well as on the nature of physical and psychological initiations widely which new students who enrolled in European universities worked as servants for upperclassmen.137 It
known as hazing. is believed that the concept of hazing is rooted in ancient Greece,138 where young men recruited into
Intentional Felony and Conspiracy the military were tested with pain or challenged to demonstrate the limits of their loyalty and to prepare
Our Revised Penal Code belongs to the classical school of thought.105 The classical theory posits that a the recruits for battle.139 Modern fraternities and sororities espouse some connection to these values of
human person is essentially a moral creature with an absolute free will to choose between good and ancient Greek civilization.140 According to a scholar, this concept lends historical legitimacy to a
evil.106 It asserts that one should only be adjudged or held accountable for wrongful acts so long as free "tradition" or "ritual" whereby prospective members are asked to prove their worthiness and loyalty to
will appears unimpaired.107 The basic postulate of the classical penal system is that humans are rational the organization in which they seek to attain membership through hazing.141
and calculating beings who guide their actions with reference to the principles of pleasure and pain.108 Thus, it is said that in the Greek fraternity system, custom requires a student wishing to join an
They refrain from criminal acts if threatened with punishment sufficient to cancel the hope of possible organization to receive an invitation in order to be a neophyte for a particular chapter.142 The neophyte
gain or advantage in committing the crime.109 Here, criminal liability is thus based on the free will and period is usually one to two semesters long.143 During the "program," neophytes are required to
moral blame of the actor.110 The identity of mens rea – defined as a guilty mind, a guilty or wrongful interview and to get to know the active members of the chapter; to learn chapter history; to understand
purpose or criminal intent – is the predominant consideration.111 Thus, it is not enough to do what the the principles of the organization; to maintain a specified grade point average; to participate in the
law prohibits.112 In order for an intentional felony to exist, it is necessary that the act be committed by organization’s activities; and to show dignity and respect for their fellow neophytes, the organization, and
means of dolo or "malice."113 its active and alumni members.144 Some chapters require the initiation activities for a recruit to involve
hazing acts during the entire neophyte stage.145

17
Hazing, as commonly understood, involves an initiation rite or ritual that serves as prerequisite for In Lloyd v. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, decided in 1999, the victim – Sylvester Lloyd – was accepted to
admission to an organization.146 In hazing, the "recruit," "pledge," "neophyte," "initiate," "applicant" – pledge at the Cornell University chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.170 He participated in initiation
or any other term by which the organization may refer to such a person – is generally placed in activities, which included various forms of physical beatings and torture, psychological coercion and
embarrassing or humiliating situations, like being forced to do menial, silly, foolish, or other similar tasks embarrassment.171
or activities.147 It encompasses different forms of conduct that humiliate, degrade, abuse, or physically In Kenner v. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, decided in 2002, the initiate-victim suffered injuries from hazing
endanger those who desire membership in the organization.148 These acts usually involve physical or activities during the fraternity’s initiation rites.172 Kenner and the other initiates went through
psychological suffering or injury.149 psychological and physical hazing, including being paddled on the buttocks for more than 200 times.173
The concept of initiation rites in the country is nothing new. In fact, more than a century ago, our In Morton v. State, Marcus Jones – a university student in Florida – sought initiation into the campus
national hero – Andres Bonifacio – organized a secret society named Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity during the 2005-06 academic year.174 The pledge’s efforts to
Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (The Highest and Most Venerable Association of the Sons and join the fraternity culminated in a series of initiation rituals conducted in four nights. Jones, together with
Daughters of the Nation).150 The Katipunan, or KKK, started as a small confraternity believed to be other candidates, was blindfolded, verbally harassed, and caned on his face and buttocks.175 In these
inspired by European Freemasonry, as well as by confraternities or sodalities approved by the Catholic rituals described as "preliminaries," which lasted for two evenings, he received approximately 60 canings
Church.151 The Katipunan’s ideology was brought home to each member through the society’s initiation on his buttocks.176 During the last two days of the hazing, the rituals intensified.177 The pledges
ritual.152 It is said that initiates were brought to a dark room, lit by a single point of illumination, and sustained roughly 210 cane strikes during the four-night initiation.178 Jones and several other candidates
were asked a series of questions to determine their fitness, loyalty, courage, and resolve.153 They passed out.179
were made to go through vigorous trials such as "pagsuot sa isang lungga" or "[pagtalon] sa balon."154 The purported raison d’être behind hazing practices is the proverbial "birth by fire," through which the
It would seem that they were also made to withstand the blow of "pangherong bakal sa pisngi" and to pledge who has successfully withstood the hazing proves his or her worth.180 Some organizations even
endure a "matalas na punyal."155 As a final step in the ritual, the neophyte Katipunero was made to believe that hazing is the path to enlightenment. It is said that this process enables the organization to
sign membership papers with the his own blood.156 establish unity among the pledges and, hence, reinforces and ensures the future of the organization.181
It is believed that the Greek fraternity system was transported by the Americans to the Philippines in the Alleged benefits of joining include leadership opportunities; improved academic performance; higher
late 19th century. As can be seen in the following instances, the manner of hazing in the United States self-esteem; professional networking opportunities; and the esprit d’corp associated with close, almost
was jarringly similar to that inflicted by the Aquila Fraternity on Lenny Villa. filial, friendship and common cause.182
Early in 1865, upperclassmen at West Point Academy forced the fourth classmen to do exhausting Anti-Hazing laws in the U.S.
physical exercises that sometimes resulted in permanent physical damage; to eat or drink unpalatable The first hazing statute in the U.S. appeared in 1874 in response to hazing in the military.183 The hazing
foods; and in various ways to humiliate themselves.157 In 1901, General Douglas MacArthur got involved of recruits and plebes in the armed services was so prevalent that Congress prohibited all forms of
in a congressional investigation of hazing at the academy during his second year at West Point.158 military hazing, harmful or not.184 It was not until 1901 that Illinois passed the first state anti-hazing law,
In Easler v. Hejaz Temple of Greenville, decided in 1985, the candidate-victim was injured during the criminalizing conduct "whereby any one sustains an injury to his [or her] person therefrom."185
shriner’s hazing event, which was part of the initiation ceremonies for Hejaz membership.159 The ritual However, it was not until the 1980s and 1990s, due in large part to the efforts of the Committee to Halt
involved what was known as the "mattress-rotating barrel trick."160 It required each candidate to slide Useless College Killings and other similar organizations, that states increasingly began to enact legislation
down an eight to nine-foot-high metal board onto connected mattresses leading to a barrel, over which prohibiting and/or criminalizing hazing.186 As of 2008, all but six states had enacted criminal or civil
the candidate was required to climb.161 Members of Hejaz would stand on each side of the mattresses statutes proscribing hazing.187 Most anti-hazing laws in the U.S. treat hazing as a misdemeanor and
and barrel and fun-paddle candidates en route to the barrel.162 carry relatively light consequences for even the most severe situations.188 Only a few states with anti-
In a video footage taken in 1991, U.S. Marine paratroopers in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, were seen hazing laws consider hazing as a felony in case death or great bodily harm occurs.189
performing a ceremony in which they pinned paratrooper jump wings directly onto the neophyte Under the laws of Illinois, hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, except hazing that results in death or great
paratroopers’ chests.163 The victims were shown writhing and crying out in pain as others pounded the bodily harm, which is a Class 4 felony.190 In a Class 4 felony, a sentence of imprisonment shall be for a
spiked medals through the shirts and into the chests of the victims.164 term of not less than one year and not more than three years.191 Indiana criminal law provides that a
In State v. Allen, decided in 1995, the Southeast Missouri State University chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally performs hazing that results in serious bodily injury to
invited male students to enter into a pledgeship program.165 The fraternity members subjected the a person commits criminal recklessness, a Class D felony.192
pledges to repeated physical abuse including repeated, open-hand strikes at the nape, the chest, and the The offense becomes a Class C felony if committed by means of a deadly weapon.193 As an element of a
back; caning of the bare soles of the feet and buttocks; blows to the back with the use of a heavy book Class C felony – criminal recklessness – resulting in serious bodily injury, death falls under the category of
and a cookie sheet while the pledges were on their hands and knees; various kicks and punches to the "serious bodily injury."194 A person who commits a Class C felony is imprisoned for a fixed term of
body; and "body slamming," an activity in which active members of the fraternity lifted pledges up in the between two (2) and eight (8) years, with the advisory sentence being four (4) years.195 Pursuant to
air and dropped them to the ground.166 The fraternity members then put the pledges through a seven- Missouri law, hazing is a Class A misdemeanor, unless the act creates a substantial risk to the life of the
station circle of physical abuse.167 student or prospective member, in which case it becomes a Class C felony.196 A Class C felony provides
In Ex Parte Barran, decided in 1998, the pledge-victim went through hazing by fraternity members of the for an imprisonment term not to exceed seven years.197
Kappa Alpha Order at the Auburn University in Alabama.168 The hazing included the following: (1) having In Texas, hazing that causes the death of another is a state jail felony.198 An individual adjudged guilty of
to dig a ditch and jump into it after it had been filled with water, urine, feces, dinner leftovers, and vomit; a state jail felony is punished by confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than two years or
(2) receiving paddlings on the buttocks; (3) being pushed and kicked, often onto walls or into pits and not less than 180 days.199 Under Utah law, if hazing results in serious bodily injury, the hazer is guilty of
trash cans; (4) eating foods like peppers, hot sauce, butter, and "yerks" (a mixture of hot sauce, a third-degree felony.200 A person who has been convicted of a third-degree felony may be sentenced to
mayonnaise, butter, beans, and other items); (5) doing chores for the fraternity and its members, such as imprisonment for a term not to exceed five years.201 West Virginia law provides that if the act of hazing
cleaning the fraternity house and yard, being designated as driver, and running errands; (6) appearing would otherwise be deemed a felony, the hazer may be found guilty thereof and subject to penalties
regularly at 2 a.m. "meetings," during which the pledges would be hazed for a couple of hours; and (7) provided therefor.202 In Wisconsin, a person is guilty of a Class G felony if hazing results in the death of
"running the gauntlet," during which the pledges were pushed, kicked, and hit as they ran down a another.203 A Class G felony carries a fine not to exceed $25,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 10
hallway and descended down a flight of stairs.169 years, or both.204

18
In certain states in the U.S., victims of hazing were left with limited remedies, as there was no hazing Witness Yes sir. Some were piercing, some were discouraging, and some were encouraging others who
statute.205 This situation was exemplified in Ballou v. Sigma Nu General Fraternity, wherein Barry were pounding and beating us, it was just like a fiesta atmosphere, actually some of them enjoyed
Ballou’s family resorted to a civil action for wrongful death, since there was no anti-hazing statute in looking us being pounded, sir.
South Carolina until 1994.206 Atty. Tadiar Do you recall what were those voices that you heard?
The existence of animus interficendi or intent to kill not proven beyond reasonable doubt Witness One particular utterance always said was, they asked us whether "matigas pa yan, kayang-kaya
The presence of an ex ante situation – in this case, fraternity initiation rites – does not automatically pa niyan."
amount to the absence of malicious intent or dolus malus. If it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that Atty. Tadiar Do you know who in particular uttered those particular words that you quote?
the perpetrators were equipped with a guilty mind – whether or not there is a contextual background or Witness I cannot particularly point to because there were utterances simultaneously, I could not really
factual premise – they are still criminally liable for intentional felony. pin point who uttered those words, sir.
The trial court, the CA, and the Solicitor General are all in agreement that – with the exception of Villareal xxx xxx xxx
and Dizon – accused Tecson, Ama, Almeda, and Bantug did not have the animus interficendi or intent to Atty. Tadiar Were there any utterances that you heard during the conduct of this Bicol Express?
kill Lenny Villa or the other neophytes. We shall no longer disturb this finding. Witness Yes, sir I heard utterances.
As regards Villareal and Dizon, the CA modified the Decision of the trial court and found that the two Atty. Tadiar Will you please recall to this Honorable Court what were the utterances that you remember?
accused had the animus interficendi or intent to kill Lenny Villa, not merely to inflict physical injuries on Witness For example, one person particularly Boyet Dizon stepped on my thigh, he would say that and I
him. It justified its finding of homicide against Dizon by holding that he had apparently been motivated by quote "ito, yung pamilya nito ay pinapatay yung kapatid ko," so that would in turn sort of justifying him in
ill will while beating up Villa. Dizon kept repeating that his father’s parking space had been stolen by the inflicting more serious pain on me. So instead of just walking, he would jump on my thighs and then after
victim’s father.207 As to Villareal, the court said that the accused suspected the family of Bienvenido on was Lenny Villa. He was saying to the effect that "this guy, his father stole the parking space of my
Marquez, one of the neophytes, to have had a hand in the death of Villareal’s brother.208 The CA then father," sir. So, that’s why he inflicted more pain on Villa and that went on, sir.
ruled as follows: Atty. Tadiar And you were referring to which particular accused?
The two had their own axes to grind against Villa and Marquez. It was very clear that they acted with evil Witness Boyet Dizon, sir.
and criminal intent. The evidence on this matter is unrebutted and so for the death of Villa, appellants Atty. Tadiar When Boyet Dizon at that particular time was accusing you of having your family have his
Dizon and Villareal must and should face the consequence of their acts, that is, to be held liable for the brother killed, what was your response?
crime of homicide.209 (Emphasis supplied) Witness Of course, I knew sir that it was not true and that he was just making it up sir. So he said that I
We cannot subscribe to this conclusion. knew nothing of that incident. However, he just in fact after the Bicol Express, he kept on uttering those
The appellate court relied mainly on the testimony of Bienvenido Marquez to determine the existence of words/statements so that it would in turn justify him and to give me harder blows, sir.
animus interficendi. For a full appreciation of the context in which the supposed utterances were made, xxx xxx xxx
the Court deems it necessary to reproduce the relevant portions of witness Marquez’s testimony: Atty. Tadiar You mentioned about Dizon in particular mentioning that Lenny Villa’s father stole the
Witness We were brought up into [Michael Musngi’s] room and we were briefed as to what to expect parking space allotted for his father, do you recall who were within hearing distance when that utterance
during the next three days and we were told the members of the fraternity and their batch and we were was made?
also told about the fraternity song, sir. Witness Yes, sir. All of the neophytes heard that utterance, sir.
xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Witness We were escorted out of [Michael Musngi’s] house and we were made to ride a van and we Witness There were different times made this accusation so there were different people who heard from
were brought to another place in Kalookan City which I later found to be the place of Mariano Almeda, time to time, sir.
sir. xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx Atty. Tadiar Can you tell the Honorable Court when was the next accusation against Lenny Villa’s father
Witness Upon arrival, we were instructed to bow our head down and to link our arms and then the driver was made?
of the van and other members of the Aquilans who were inside left us inside the van, sir. Witness When we were line up against the wall, Boyet Dizon came near to us and when Lenny Villa’s
xxx xxx xxx turn, I heard him uttered those statements, sir.
Witness We heard voices shouted outside the van to the effect, "Villa akin ka," "Asuncion Patay ka" and Atty. Tadiar What happened after he made this accusation to Lenny Villa’s father?
the people outside pound the van, rock the van, sir. Witness He continued to inflict blows on Lenny Villa.
Atty. Tadiar Will you please recall in what tone of voice and how strong a voice these remarks uttered Atty. Tadiar How were those blows inflicted?
upon your arrival? Witness There were slaps and he knelt on Lenny Villa’s thighs and sometime he stand up and he kicked
Witness Some were almost shouting, you could feel the sense of excitement in their voices, sir. his thighs and sometimes jumped at it, sir.
xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Atty. Tadiar During all these times that the van was being rocked through and through, what were the Atty. Tadiar We would go on to the second day but not right now. You mentioned also that accusations
voices or utterances that you heard? made by Dizon "you or your family had his brother killed," can you inform this Honorable Court what
Witness "Villa akin ka," "Asuncion patay ka," "Recinto patay ka sa amin," etc., sir. exactly were the accusations that were charged against you while inflicting blows upon you in particular?
Atty. Tadiar And those utterances and threats, how long did they continue during the rocking of the van Witness While he was inflicting blows upon me, he told me in particular if I knew that his family who had
which lasted for 5 minutes? his brother killed, and he said that his brother was an NPA, sir so I knew that it was just a story that he
xxx xxx xxx made up and I said that I knew nothing about it and he continued inflicting blows on me, sir. And another
Witness Even after they rocked the van, we still kept on hearing voices, sir. incident was when a talk was being given, Dizon was on another part of the pelota court and I was sort of
xxx xxx xxx looking and we saw that he was drinking beer, and he said and I quote: "Marquez, Marquez, ano ang
Atty. Tadiar During the time that this rounds [of physical beating] were being inflicted, was there any tinitingin-tingin mo diyan, ikaw yung pamilya mo ang nagpapatay sa aking kapatid, yari ka sa akin," sir.
utterances by anybody? Atty. Tadiar What else?
Witness That’s all, sir.

19
Atty. Tadiar And on that first night of February 8, 1991, did ever a doctor or a physician came around as Witness No, sir, because at one point, while he was telling this to Villareal, he was hitting me.
promised to you earlier? Atty. Jimenez But did you not say earlier that you [were] subjected to the same forms of initiation by all
Witness No, sir.210 (Emphasis supplied) the initiating masters? You said that earlier, right?
On cross-examination, witness Bienvenido Marquez testified thus: Witness Yes, sir.
Judge Purisima When you testified on direct examination Mr. Marquez, have you stated that there was a Atty. Jimenez Are you saying also that the others who jumped on you or kicked you said something
briefing that was conducted immediately before your initiation as regards to what to expect during the similar as was told to you by Mr. Dizon?
initiation, did I hear you right? Witness No, sir.
Witness Yes, sir. Atty. Jimenez But the fact remains that in the Bicol Express for instance, the masters would run on your
Judge Purisima Who did the briefing? thighs, right?
Witness Mr. Michael Musngi, sir and Nelson Victorino. Witness Yes, sir.
Judge Purisima Will you kindly tell the Honorable Court what they told you to expect during the Atty. Jimenez This was the regular procedure that was followed by the initiating masters not only on you
initiation? but also on the other neophytes?
Witness They told us at the time we would be brought to a particular place, we would be mocked at, sir. Witness Yes, sir.
Judge Purisima So, you expected to be mocked at, ridiculed, humiliated etc., and the likes? Atty. Jimenez In other words, it is fair to say that whatever forms of initiation was administered by one
Witness Yes, sir. master, was also administered by one master on a neophyte, was also administered by another master
Judge Purisima You were also told beforehand that there would be physical contact? on the other neophyte, this is correct?
Witness Yes, sir at the briefing. Witness Yes, sir.212 (Emphasis supplied)
xxx xxx xxx According to the Solicitor General himself, the ill motives attributed by the CA to Dizon and Villareal were
Witness Yes, sir, because they informed that we could immediately go back to school. All the bruises "baseless,"213 since the statements of the accused were "just part of the psychological initiation
would be limited to our arms and legs, sir. So, if we wear the regular school uniforms like long sleeves, it calculated to instill fear on the part of the neophytes"; that "[t]here is no element of truth in it as
would be covered actually so we have no thinking that our face would be slapped, sir. testified by Bienvenido Marquez"; and that the "harsh words uttered by Petitioner and Villareal are part
Judge Purisima So, you mean to say that beforehand that you would have bruises on your body but that of ‘tradition’ concurred and accepted by all the fraternity members during their initiation rites."214
will be covered? We agree with the Solicitor General.
Witness Yes, sir. The foregoing testimony of witness Marquez reveals a glaring mistake of substantial proportion on the
JudgePurisima So, what kind of physical contact or implements that you expect that would create bruises part of the CA – it mistook the utterances of Dizon for those of Villareal. Such inaccuracy cannot be
to your body? tolerated, especially because it was the CA’s primary basis for finding that Villarreal had the intent to kill
Witness At that point I am already sure that there would be hitting by a paddling or paddle, sir. Lenny Villa, thereby making Villareal guilty of the intentional felony of homicide. To repeat, according to
xxx xxx xxx Bienvenido Marquez’s testimony, as reproduced above, it was Dizon who uttered both "accusations"
Judge Purisima Now, will you admit Mr. Marquez that much of the initiation procedures is psychological against Villa and Marquez; Villareal had no participation whatsoever in the specific threats referred to by
in nature? the CA. It was "Boyet Dizon [who] stepped on [Marquez’s] thigh"; and who told witness Marquez, "[I]to,
Witness Combination, sir.211 (Emphasis supplied) yung pamilya nito ay pinapatay yung kapatid ko." It was also Dizon who jumped on Villa’s thighs while
xxx xxx xxx saying, "[T]his guy, his father stole the parking space of my father." With the testimony clarified, we find
Atty. Jimenez The initiation that was conducted did not consist only of physical initiation, meaning body that the CA had no basis for concluding the existence of intent to kill based solely thereon.
contact, is that correct? As to the existence of animus interficendi on the part of Dizon, we refer to the entire factual milieu and
Witness Yes, sir. contextual premise of the incident to fully appreciate and understand the testimony of witness Marquez.
Atty. Jimenez Part of the initiation was the so-called psychological initiation, correct? At the outset, the neophytes were briefed that they would be subjected to psychological pressure in
Witness Yes, sir. order to scare them. They knew that they would be mocked, ridiculed, and intimidated. They heard
Atty. Jimenez And this consisted of making you believe of things calculated to terrify you, scare you, fraternity members shout, "Patay ka, Recinto," "Yari ka, Recinto," "Villa, akin ka," "Asuncion, gulpi ka,"
correct? "Putang ina mo, Asuncion," "Putang ina nyo, patay kayo sa amin," or some other words to that effect.215
Witness Yes, sir. While beating the neophytes, Dizon accused Marquez of the death of the former’s purported NPA
Atty. Jimenez In other words, the initiating masters made belief situation intended to, I repeat, terrify brother, and then blamed Lenny Villa’s father for stealing the parking space of Dizon’s father. According to
you, frighten you, scare you into perhaps quitting the initiation, is this correct? the Solicitor General, these statements, including those of the accused Dizon, were all part of the
Witness Sometimes sir, yes. psychological initiation employed by the Aquila Fraternity.216
Atty. Jimenez You said on direct that while Mr. Dizon was initiating you, he said or he was supposed to Thus, to our understanding, accused Dizon’s way of inflicting psychological pressure was through hurling
have said according to you that your family were responsible for the killing of his brother who was an make-believe accusations at the initiates. He concocted the fictitious stories, so that he could "justify"
NPA, do you remember saying that? giving the neophytes harder blows, all in the context of fraternity initiation and role playing. Even one of
Witness Yes, sir. the neophytes admitted that the accusations were untrue and made-up.
Atty. Jimenez You also said in connection with that statement said to you by Dizon that you did not The infliction of psychological pressure is not unusual in the conduct of hazing. In fact, during the Senate
believe him because that is not true, correct? deliberations on the then proposed Anti-Hazing Law, former Senator Lina spoke as follows:
Witness Yes, sir. Senator Lina. -- so as to capture the intent that we conveyed during the period of interpellations on why
Atty. Jimenez In other words, he was only psychologizing you perhaps, the purpose as I have mentioned we included the phrase "or psychological pain and suffering."
before, terrifying you, scaring you or frightening you into quitting the initiation, this is correct? xxx xxx xxx
Witness No, sir, perhaps it is one but the main reason, I think, why he was saying those things was So that if no direct physical harm is inflicted upon the neophyte or the recruit but the recruit or neophyte
because he wanted to inflict injury. is made to undergo certain acts which I already described yesterday, like playing the Russian roulette
Atty. Jimenez He did not tell that to you. That is your only perception, correct? extensively to test the readiness and the willingness of the neophyte or recruit to continue his desire to

20
be a member of the fraternity, sorority or similar organization or playing and putting a noose on the neck Indeed, the threshold question is whether the accused’s initial acts of inflicting physical pain on the
of the neophyte or recruit, making the recruit or neophyte stand on the ledge of the fourth floor of the neophytes were attended by animus iniuriandi amounting to a felonious act punishable under the
building facing outside, asking him to jump outside after making him turn around several times but the Revised Penal Code, thereby making it subject to Article 4(1) thereof. In People v. Regato, we ruled that
reality is that he will be made to jump towards the inside portion of the building – these are the mental malicious intent must be judged by the action, conduct, and external acts of the accused.227 What
or psychological tests that are resorted to by these organizations, sororities or fraternities. The doctors persons do is the best index of their intention.228 We have also ruled that the method employed, the
who appeared during the public hearing testified that such acts can result in some mental aberration, kind of weapon used, and the parts of the body on which the injury was inflicted may be determinative
that they can even lead to psychosis, neurosis or insanity. This is what we want to prevent.217 (Emphasis of the intent of the perpetrator.229 The Court shall thus examine the whole contextual background
supplied) surrounding the death of Lenny Villa.
Thus, without proof beyond reasonable doubt, Dizon’s behavior must not be automatically viewed as Lenny died during Aquila’s fraternity initiation rites. The night before the commencement of the rites,
evidence of a genuine, evil motivation to kill Lenny Villa. Rather, it must be taken within the context of they were briefed on what to expect. They were told that there would be physical beatings, that the
the fraternity’s psychological initiation. This Court points out that it was not even established whether whole event would last for three days, and that they could quit anytime. On their first night, they were
the fathers of Dizon and Villa really had any familiarity with each other as would lend credence to the subjected to "traditional" initiation rites, including the "Indian Run," "Bicol Express," "Rounds," and the
veracity of Dizon’s threats. The testimony of Lenny’s co-neophyte, Marquez, only confirmed this view. "Auxies’ Privilege Round." The beatings were predominantly directed at the neophytes’ arms and legs.
According to Marquez, he "knew it was not true and that [Dizon] was just making it up…."218 Even the In the morning of their second day of initiation, they were made to present comic plays and to play rough
trial court did not give weight to the utterances of Dizon as constituting intent to kill: "[T]he cumulative basketball. They were also required to memorize and recite the Aquila Fraternity’s principles. Late in the
acts of all the accused were not directed toward killing Villa, but merely to inflict physical harm as part of afternoon, they were once again subjected to "traditional" initiation rituals. When the rituals were
the fraternity initiation rites x x x."219 The Solicitor General shares the same view. officially reopened on the insistence of Dizon and Villareal, the neophytes were subjected to another
Verily, we cannot sustain the CA in finding the accused Dizon guilty of homicide under Article 249 of the "traditional" ritual – paddling by the fraternity.
Revised Penal Code on the basis of the existence of intent to kill. Animus interficendi cannot and should During the whole initiation rites, auxiliaries were assigned to the neophytes. The auxiliaries protected the
not be inferred unless there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of such intent.220 Instead, we adopt and neophytes by functioning as human barriers and shielding them from those who were designated to
reinstate the finding of the trial court in part, insofar as it ruled that none of the fraternity members had inflict physical and psychological pain on the initiates.230 It was their regular duty to stop foul or
the specific intent to kill Lenny Villa.221 excessive physical blows; to help the neophytes to "pump" their legs in order that their blood would
The existence of animus iniuriandi or malicious intent to injure not proven beyond reasonable doubt circulate; to facilitate a rest interval after every physical activity or "round"; to serve food and water; to
The Solicitor General argues, instead, that there was an intent to inflict physical injuries on Lenny Villa. tell jokes; to coach the initiates; and to give them whatever they needed.
Echoing the Decision of the trial court, the Solicitor General then posits that since all of the accused These rituals were performed with Lenny’s consent.231 A few days before the "rites," he asked both his
fraternity members conspired to inflict physical injuries on Lenny Villa and death ensued, all of them parents for permission to join the Aquila Fraternity.232 His father knew that Lenny would go through an
should be liable for the crime of homicide pursuant to Article 4(1) of the Revised Penal Code. initiation process and would be gone for three days.233 The CA found as follows:
In order to be found guilty of any of the felonious acts under Articles 262 to 266 of the Revised Penal It is worth pointing out that the neophytes willingly and voluntarily consented to undergo physical
Code,222 the employment of physical injuries must be coupled with dolus malus. As an act that is mala in initiation and hazing. As can be gleaned from the narration of facts, they voluntarily agreed to join the
se, the existence of malicious intent is fundamental, since injury arises from the mental state of the initiation rites to become members of the Aquila Legis Fraternity. Prior to the initiation, they were given
wrongdoer – iniuria ex affectu facientis consistat. If there is no criminal intent, the accused cannot be briefings on what to expect. It is of common knowledge that before admission in a fraternity, the
found guilty of an intentional felony. Thus, in case of physical injuries under the Revised Penal Code, neophytes will undergo a rite of passage. Thus, they were made aware that traditional methods such as
there must be a specific animus iniuriandi or malicious intention to do wrong against the physical mocking, psychological tests and physical punishment would take place. They knew that the initiation
integrity or well-being of a person, so as to incapacitate and deprive the victim of certain bodily would involve beatings and other forms of hazing. They were also told of their right and opportunity to
functions. Without proof beyond reasonable doubt of the required animus iniuriandi, the overt act of quit at any time they wanted to. In fact, prosecution witness Navera testified that accused Tecson told
inflicting physical injuries per se merely satisfies the elements of freedom and intelligence in an him that "after a week, you can already play basketball." Prosecution witness Marquez for his part,
intentional felony. The commission of the act does not, in itself, make a man guilty unless his intentions admitted that he knew that the initiates would be hit "in the arms and legs," that a wooden paddle
are.223 would be used to hit them and that he expected bruises on his arms and legs…. Indeed, there can be no
Thus, we have ruled in a number of instances224 that the mere infliction of physical injuries, absent fraternity initiation without consenting neophytes.234 (Emphasis supplied)
malicious intent, does not make a person automatically liable for an intentional felony. In Bagajo v. Even after going through Aquila’s grueling traditional rituals during the first day, Lenny continued his
People,225 the accused teacher, using a bamboo stick, whipped one of her students behind her legs and participation and finished the second day of initiation.
thighs as a form of discipline. The student suffered lesions and bruises from the corporal punishment. In Based on the foregoing contextual background, and absent further proof showing clear malicious intent,
reversing the trial court’s finding of criminal liability for slight physical injuries, this Court stated thus: we are constrained to rule that the specific animus iniuriandi was not present in this case. Even if the
"Independently of any civil or administrative responsibility … [w]e are persuaded that she did not do specific acts of punching, kicking, paddling, and other modes of inflicting physical pain were done
what she had done with criminal intent … the means she actually used was moderate and that she was voluntarily, freely, and with intelligence, thereby satisfying the elements of freedom and intelligence in
not motivated by ill-will, hatred or any malevolent intent." Considering the applicable laws, we then ruled the felony of physical injuries, the fundamental ingredient of criminal intent was not proven beyond
that "as a matter of law, petitioner did not incur any criminal liability for her act of whipping her pupil." In reasonable doubt. On the contrary, all that was proven was that the acts were done pursuant to tradition.
People v. Carmen,226 the accused members of the religious group known as the Missionaries of Our Lady Although the additional "rounds" on the second night were held upon the insistence of Villareal and
of Fatima – under the guise of a "ritual or treatment" – plunged the head of the victim into a barrel of Dizon, the initiations were officially reopened with the consent of the head of the initiation rites; and the
water, banged his head against a bench, pounded his chest with fists, and stabbed him on the side with a accused fraternity members still participated in the rituals, including the paddling, which were performed
kitchen knife, in order to cure him of "nervous breakdown" by expelling through those means the bad pursuant to tradition. Other than the paddle, no other "weapon" was used to inflict injuries on Lenny.
spirits possessing him. The collective acts of the group caused the death of the victim. Since malicious The targeted body parts were predominantly the legs and the arms. The designation of roles, including
intent was not proven, we reversed the trial court’s finding of liability for murder under Article 4 of the the role of auxiliaries, which were assigned for the specific purpose of lending assistance to and taking
Revised Penal Code and instead ruled that the accused should be held criminally liable for reckless care of the neophytes during the initiation rites, further belied the presence of malicious intent. All those
imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 thereof. who wished to join the fraternity went through the same process of "traditional" initiation; there is no

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proof that Lenny Villa was specifically targeted or given a different treatment. We stress that Congress mind. We do not have to prove the willful intent of the accused in proving or establishing the crime of
itself recognized that hazing is uniquely different from common crimes.235 The totality of the hazing. This seems, to me, a novel situation where we create the special crime without having to go into
circumstances must therefore be taken into consideration. the intent, which is one of the basic elements of any crime.
The underlying context and motive in which the infliction of physical injuries was rooted may also be If there is no intent, there is no crime. If the intent were merely to initiate, then there is no offense. And
determined by Lenny’s continued participation in the initiation and consent to the method used even even the distinguished Sponsor admits that the organization, the intent to initiate, the intent to have a
after the first day. The following discussion of the framers of the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law is enlightening: new society or a new club is, per se, not punishable at all. What are punishable are the acts that lead to
Senator Guingona. Most of these acts, if not all, are already punished under the Revised Penal Code. the result. But if these results are not going to be proven by intent, but just because there was hazing, I
Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President. am afraid that it will disturb the basic concepts of the Revised Penal Code, Mr. President.
Senator Guingona. If hazing is done at present and it results in death, the charge would be murder or Senator Lina. Mr. President, the act of hazing, precisely, is being criminalized because in the context of
homicide. what is happening in the sororities and fraternities, when they conduct hazing, no one will admit that
Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President. their intention is to maim or to kill. So, we are already criminalizing the fact of inflicting physical pain. Mr.
Senator Guingona. If it does not result in death, it may be frustrated homicide or serious physical injuries. President, it is a criminal act and we want it stopped, deterred, discouraged.
Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President. If that occurs, under this law, there is no necessity to prove that the masters intended to kill or the
Senator Guingona. Or, if the person who commits sexual abuse does so it can be penalized under rape or masters intended to maim. What is important is the result of the act of hazing. Otherwise, the masters or
acts of lasciviousness. those who inflict the physical pain can easily escape responsibility and say, "We did not have the
Senator Lina. That is correct, Mr. President. intention to kill. This is part of our initiation rites. This is normal. We do not have any intention to kill or
Senator Guingona. So, what is the rationale for making a new offense under this definition of the crime of maim."
hazing? This is the lusot, Mr. President. They might as well have been charged therefore with the ordinary crime
Senator Lina. To discourage persons or group of persons either composing a sorority, fraternity or any of homicide, mutilation, et cetera, where the prosecution will have a difficulty proving the elements if
association from making this requirement of initiation that has already resulted in these specific acts or they are separate offenses.
results, Mr. President. xxx xxx xxx
That is the main rationale. We want to send a strong signal across the land that no group or association Senator Guingona. Mr. President, assuming there was a group that initiated and a person died. The
can require the act of physical initiation before a person can become a member without being held charge is murder. My question is: Under this bill if it becomes a law, would the prosecution have to prove
criminally liable. conspiracy or not anymore?
xxx xxx xxx Senator Lina. Mr. President, if the person is present during hazing x x x
Senator Guingona. Yes, but what would be the rationale for that imposition? Because the distinguished Senator Guingona. The persons are present. First, would the prosecution have to prove conspiracy?
Sponsor has said that he is not punishing a mere organization, he is not seeking the punishment of an Second, would the prosecution have to prove intent to kill or not?
initiation into a club or organization, he is seeking the punishment of certain acts that resulted in death, Senator Lina. No more. As to the second question, Mr. President, if that occurs, there is no need to prove
et cetera as a result of hazing which are already covered crimes. intent to kill.
The penalty is increased in one, because we would like to discourage hazing, abusive hazing, but it may Senator Guingona. But the charge is murder.
be a legitimate defense for invoking two or more charges or offenses, because these very same acts are Senator Lina. That is why I said that it should not be murder. It should be hazing, Mr. President. 236
already punishable under the Revised Penal Code. (Emphasis supplied)
That is my difficulty, Mr. President. During a discussion between Senator Biazon and Senator Lina on the issue of whether to include sodomy
Senator Lina. x x x as a punishable act under the Anti-Hazing Law, Senator Lina further clarified thus:
Another point, Mr. President, is this, and this is a very telling difference: When a person or group of Senator Biazon. Mr. President, this Representation has no objection to the inclusion of sodomy as one of
persons resort to hazing as a requirement for gaining entry into an organization, the intent to commit a the conditions resulting from hazing as necessary to be punished. However, the act of sodomy can be
wrong is not visible or is not present, Mr. President. Whereas, in these specific crimes, Mr. President, let committed by two persons with or without consent.
us say there is death or there is homicide, mutilation, if one files a case, then the intention to commit a To make it clearer, what is being punished here is the commission of sodomy forced into another
wrong has to be proven. But if the crime of hazing is the basis, what is important is the result from the individual by another individual. I move, Mr. President, that sodomy be modified by the phrase "without
act of hazing. consent" for purposes of this section.
To me, that is the basic difference and that is what will prevent or deter the sororities or fraternities; that Senator Lina. I am afraid, Mr. President, that if we qualify sodomy with the concept that it is only going to
they should really shun this activity called "hazing." Because, initially, these fraternities or sororities do aggravate the crime of hazing if it is done without consent will change a lot of concepts here. Because the
not even consider having a neophyte killed or maimed or that acts of lasciviousness are even committed results from hazing aggravate the offense with or without consent. In fact, when a person joins a
initially, Mr. President. fraternity, sorority, or any association for that matter, it can be with or without the consent of the
So, what we want to discourage is the so-called initial innocent act. That is why there is need to institute intended victim. The fact that a person joins a sorority or fraternity with his consent does not negate the
this kind of hazing. Ganiyan po ang nangyari. Ang fraternity o ang sorority ay magre-recruit. Wala talaga crime of hazing.
silang intensiyong makamatay. Hindi ko na babanggitin at buhay pa iyong kaso. Pero dito sa anim o pito This is a proposed law intended to protect the citizens from the malpractices that attend initiation which
na namatay nitong nakaraang taon, walang intensiyong patayin talaga iyong neophyte. So, kung may have been announced with or without physical infliction of pain or injury, Mr. President. Regardless
maghihintay pa tayo, na saka lamang natin isasakdal ng murder kung namatay na, ay after the fact ho of whether there is announcement that there will be physical hazing or whether there is none, and
iyon. Pero, kung sasabihin natin sa mga kabataan na: "Huwag ninyong gagawin iyong hazing. Iyan ay therefore, the neophyte is duped into joining a fraternity is of no moment. What is important is that
kasalanan at kung mamatay diyan, mataas ang penalty sa inyo." there is an infliction of physical pain.
xxx xxx xxx The bottom line of this law is that a citizen even has to be protected from himself if he joins a fraternity,
Senator Guingona. I join the lofty motives, Mr. President, of the distinguished Sponsor. But I am again so that at a certain point in time, the State, the individual, or the parents of the victim can run after the
disturbed by his statement that the prosecution does not have to prove the intent that resulted in the perpetrators of the crime, regardless of whether or not there was consent on the part of the victim.
death, that resulted in the serious physical injuries, that resulted in the acts of lasciviousness or deranged xxx xxx xxx

22
Senator Lina. Mr. President, I understand the position taken by the distinguished Gentleman from Cavite The absence of malicious intent does not automatically mean, however, that the accused fraternity
and Metro Manila. It is correct that society sometimes adopts new mores, traditions, and practices. members are ultimately devoid of criminal liability. The Revised Penal Code also punishes felonies that
In this bill, we are not going to encroach into the private proclivities of some individuals when they do are committed by means of fault (culpa). According to Article 3 thereof, there is fault when the wrongful
their acts in private as we do not take a peek into the private rooms of couples. They can do their thing if act results from imprudence, negligence, lack of foresight, or lack of skill.
they want to make love in ways that are not considered acceptable by the mainstream of society. That is Reckless imprudence or negligence consists of a voluntary act done without malice, from which an
not something that the State should prohibit. immediate personal harm, injury or material damage results by reason of an inexcusable lack of
But sodomy in this case is connected with hazing, Mr. President. Such that the act may even be entered precaution or advertence on the part of the person committing it.241 In this case, the danger is visible
into with consent. It is not only sodomy. The infliction of pain may be done with the consent of the and consciously appreciated by the actor.242 In contrast, simple imprudence or negligence comprises an
neophyte. If the law is passed, that does not make the act of hazing not punishable because the act done without grave fault, from which an injury or material damage ensues by reason of a mere lack of
neophyte accepted the infliction of pain upon himself. foresight or skill.243 Here, the threatened harm is not immediate, and the danger is not openly visible.
If the victim suffers from serious physical injuries, but the initiator said, "Well, he allowed it upon himself. 244
He consented to it." So, if we allow that reasoning that sodomy was done with the consent of the victim, The test245 for determining whether or not a person is negligent in doing an act is as follows: Would a
then we would not have passed any law at all. There will be no significance if we pass this bill, because it prudent man in the position of the person to whom negligence is attributed foresee harm to the person
will always be a defense that the victim allowed the infliction of pain or suffering. He accepted it as part injured as a reasonable consequence of the course about to be pursued? If so, the law imposes on the
of the initiation rites. doer the duty to take precaution against the mischievous results of the act. Failure to do so constitutes
But precisely, Mr. President that is one thing that we would want to prohibit. That the defense of consent negligence.246
will not apply because the very act of inflicting physical pain or psychological suffering is, by itself, a As we held in Gaid v. People, for a person to avoid being charged with recklessness, the degree of
punishable act. The result of the act of hazing, like death or physical injuries merely aggravates the act precaution and diligence required varies with the degree of the danger involved.247 If, on account of a
with higher penalties. But the defense of consent is not going to nullify the criminal nature of the act. certain line of conduct, the danger of causing harm to another person is great, the individual who
So, if we accept the amendment that sodomy can only aggravate the offense if it is committed without chooses to follow that particular course of conduct is bound to be very careful, in order to prevent or
consent of the victim, then the whole foundation of this proposed law will collapse. avoid damage or injury.248 In contrast, if the danger is minor, not much care is required.249 It is thus
Senator Biazon. Thank you, Mr. President. possible that there are countless degrees of precaution or diligence that may be required of an
Senator Lina. Thank you very much. individual, "from a transitory glance of care to the most vigilant effort."250 The duty of the person to
The President. Is there any objection to the committee amendment? (Silence.) The Chair hears none; the employ more or less degree of care will depend upon the circumstances of each particular case.251
same is approved.237 There was patent recklessness in the hazing of Lenny Villa.
(Emphasis supplied) According to the NBI medico-legal officer, Lenny died of cardiac failure secondary to multiple traumatic
Realizing the implication of removing the state’s burden to prove intent, Senator Lina, the principal injuries.252 The officer explained that cardiac failure refers to the failure of the heart to work as a pump
author of the Senate Bill, said: and as part of the circulatory system due to the lack of blood.253 In the present case, the victim’s heart
I am very happy that the distinguished Minority Leader brought out the idea of intent or whether there it could no longer work as a pumping organ, because it was deprived of its requisite blood and oxygen.254
is mala in se or mala prohibita. There can be a radical amendment if that is the point that he wants to go The deprivation was due to the "channeling" of the blood supply from the entire circulatory system –
to. including the heart, arteries, veins, venules, and capillaries – to the thigh, leg, and arm areas of Lenny,
If we agree on the concept, then, maybe, we can just make this a special law on hazing. We will not thus causing the formation of multiple hematomas or blood clots.255 The multiple hematomas were
include this anymore under the Revised Penal Code. That is a possibility. I will not foreclose that wide, thick, and deep,256 indicating that these could have resulted mainly from injuries sustained by the
suggestion, Mr. President.238 (Emphasis supplied) victim from fist blows, knee blows, paddles, or the like.257 Repeated blows to those areas caused the
Thus, having in mind the potential conflict between the proposed law and the core principle of mala in se blood to gradually ooze out of the capillaries until the circulating blood became so markedly diminished
adhered to under the Revised Penal Code, Congress did not simply enact an amendment thereto. as to produce death. 258 The officer also found that the brain, liver, kidney, pancreas, intestines, and all
Instead, it created a special law on hazing, founded upon the principle of mala prohibita. This dilemma other organs seen in the abdominals, as well as the thoracic organ in the lungs, were pale due to the lack
faced by Congress is further proof of how the nature of hazing – unique as against typical crimes – cast a of blood, which was redirected to the thighs and forearms.259 It was concluded that there was nothing
cloud of doubt on whether society considered the act as an inherently wrong conduct or mala in se at the in the heart that would indicate that the victim suffered from a previous cardiac arrest or disease.260
time. It is safe to presume that Lenny’s parents would not have consented239 to his participation in The multiple hematomas or bruises found in Lenny Villa’s arms and thighs, resulting from repeated blows
Aquila Fraternity’s initiation rites if the practice of hazing were considered by them as mala in se. to those areas, caused the loss of blood from his vital organs and led to his eventual death. These
Furthermore, in Vedaña v. Valencia (1998), we noted through Associate Justice (now retired Chief Justice) hematomas must be taken in the light of the hazing activities performed on him by the Aquila Fraternity.
Hilario Davide that "in our nation’s very recent history, the people have spoken, through Congress, to According to the testimonies of the co-neophytes of Lenny, they were punched, kicked, elbowed, kneed,
deem conduct constitutive of … hazing, [an] act[] previously considered harmless by custom, as stamped on; and hit with different objects on their arms, legs, and thighs.261 They were also "paddled"
criminal."240 Although it may be regarded as a simple obiter dictum, the statement nonetheless shows at the back of their thighs or legs;262 and slapped on their faces.263 They were made to play rough
recognition that hazing – or the conduct of initiation rites through physical and/or psychological suffering basketball.264 Witness Marquez testified on Lenny, saying: "[T]inamaan daw sya sa spine."265 The NBI
– has not been traditionally criminalized. Prior to the 1995 Anti-Hazing Law, there was to some extent a medico-legal officer explained that the death of the victim was the cumulative effect of the multiple
lacuna in the law; hazing was not clearly considered an intentional felony. And when there is doubt on injuries suffered by the latter.266 The relevant portion of the testimony is as follows:
the interpretation of criminal laws, all must be resolved in favor of the accused. In dubio pro reo. Atty. Tadiar Doctor, there was, rather, it was your testimony on various cross examinations of defense
For the foregoing reasons, and as a matter of law, the Court is constrained to rule against the trial court’s counsels that the injuries that you have enumerated on the body of the deceased Lenny Villa previously
finding of malicious intent to inflict physical injuries on Lenny Villa, there being no proof beyond marked as Exhibit "G-1" to "G-14" individually by themselves would not cause the death of the victim.
reasonable doubt of the existence of malicious intent to inflict physical injuries or animus iniuriandi as The question I am going to propound to you is what is the cumulative effect of all of these injuries
required in mala in se cases, considering the contextual background of his death, the unique nature of marked from Exhibit "G-1" to "G-14"?
hazing, and absent a law prohibiting hazing. Witness All together nothing in concert to cause to the demise of the victim. So, it is not fair for us to
The accused fraternity members guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide isolate such injuries here because we are talking of the whole body. At the same manner that as a car

23
would not run minus one (1) wheel. No, the more humane in human approach is to interpret all those The heirs of the deceased may recover moral damages for the grief suffered on account of the victim’s
injuries in whole and not in part.267 death.278 This penalty is pursuant to Article 2206(3) of the Civil Code, which provides that the "spouse,
There is also evidence to show that some of the accused fraternity members were drinking during the legitimate and illegitimate descendants and the ascendants of the deceased may demand moral damages
initiation rites.268 for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased."279 Thus, we hereby we affirm the CA’s
Consequently, the collective acts of the fraternity members were tantamount to recklessness, which award of moral damages in the amount of ₱ 1,000,000.
made the resulting death of Lenny a culpable felony. It must be remembered that organizations owe to WHEREFORE, the appealed Judgment in G.R. No. 155101 finding petitioner Fidelito Dizon guilty of
their initiates a duty of care not to cause them injury in the process.269 With the foregoing facts, we rule homicide is hereby MODIFIED and set aside IN PART. The appealed Judgment in G.R. No. 154954 – finding
that the accused are guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide. Since the NBI medico-legal Antonio Mariano Almeda, Junel Anthony Ama, Renato Bantug, Jr., and Vincent Tecson guilty of the crime
officer found that the victim’s death was the cumulative effect of the injuries suffered, criminal of slight physical injuries – is also MODIFIED and set aside in part. Instead, Fidelito Dizon, Antonio
responsibility redounds to all those who directly participated in and contributed to the infliction of Mariano Almeda, Junel Anthony Ama, Renato Bantug, Jr., and Vincent Tecson are found guilty beyond
physical injuries. reasonable doubt of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide defined and penalized under Article 365
It appears from the aforementioned facts that the incident may have been prevented, or at least in relation to Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code. They are hereby sentenced to suffer an
mitigated, had the alumni of Aquila Fraternity – accused Dizon and Villareal – restrained themselves from indeterminate prison term of four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor, as minimum, to four (4)
insisting on reopening the initiation rites. Although this point did not matter in the end, as records would years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as maximum. In addition, accused are ORDERED jointly
show that the other fraternity members participated in the reopened initiation rites – having in mind the and severally to pay the heirs of Lenny Villa civil indemnity ex delicto in the amount of ₱ 50,000, and
concept of "seniority" in fraternities – the implication of the presence of alumni should be seen as a point moral damages in the amount of ₱ 1,000,000, plus legal interest on all damages awarded at the rate of
of review in future legislation. We further note that some of the fraternity members were intoxicated 12% from the date of the finality of this Decision until satisfaction.280 Costs de oficio.
during Lenny’s initiation rites. In this light, the Court submits to Congress, for legislative consideration, The appealed Judgment in G.R. No. 154954, acquitting Victorino et al., is hereby affirmed. The appealed
the amendment of the Anti-Hazing Law to include the fact of intoxication and the presence of non- Judgments in G.R. Nos. 178057 & 178080, dismissing the criminal case filed against Escalona, Ramos,
resident or alumni fraternity members during hazing as aggravating circumstances that would increase Saruca, and Adriano, are likewise affirmed. Finally, pursuant to Article 89(1) of the Revised Penal Code,
the applicable penalties. the Petition in G.R. No. 151258 is hereby dismissed, and the criminal case against Artemio Villareal
It is truly astonishing how men would wittingly – or unwittingly –impose the misery of hazing and employ deemed closed and TERMINATED.
appalling rituals in the name of brotherhood. There must be a better way to establish "kinship." A Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of
neophyte admitted that he joined the fraternity to have more friends and to avail himself of the benefits Representatives for possible consideration of the amendment of the Anti-Hazing Law to include the fact
it offered, such as tips during bar examinations.270 Another initiate did not give up, because he feared of intoxication and the presence of non-resident or alumni fraternity members during hazing as
being looked down upon as a quitter, and because he felt he did not have a choice.271 Thus, for Lenny aggravating circumstances that would increase the applicable penalties.
Villa and the other neophytes, joining the Aquila Fraternity entailed a leap in the dark. By giving consent SO ORDERED.
under the circumstances, they left their fates in the hands of the fraternity members. Unfortunately, the
hands to which lives were entrusted were barbaric as they were reckless.
Our finding of criminal liability for the felony of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide shall cover
only accused Tecson, Ama, Almeda, Bantug, and Dizon. Had the Anti-Hazing Law been in effect then,
these five accused fraternity members would have all been convicted of the crime of hazing punishable
by reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment).272 Since there was no law prohibiting the act of hazing when
Lenny died, we are constrained to rule according to existing laws at the time of his death. The CA found
that the prosecution failed to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, Victorino et al.’s individual participation
in the infliction of physical injuries upon Lenny Villa.273 As to accused Villareal, his criminal liability was
totally extinguished by the fact of his death, pursuant to Article 89 of the Revised Penal Code.
Furthermore, our ruling herein shall be interpreted without prejudice to the applicability of the Anti-
Hazing Law to subsequent cases. Furthermore, the modification of criminal liability from slight physical
injuries to reckless imprudence resulting in homicide shall apply only with respect to accused Almeda,
Ama, Bantug, and Tecson.
The accused liable to pay damages
The CA awarded damages in favor of the heirs of Lenny Villa in the amounts of ₱ 50,000 as civil indemnity
ex delicto and ₱ 1,000,000 as moral damages, to be jointly and severally paid by accused Dizon and
Villareal. It also awarded the amount of ₱ 30,000 as indemnity to be jointly and severally paid by accused
Almeda, Ama, Bantug, and Tecson.1âwphi1
Civil indemnity ex delicto is automatically awarded for the sole fact of death of the victim.274 In
accordance with prevailing jurisprudence,275 we sustain the CA’s award of indemnity in the amount of ₱
50,000.
The heirs of the victim are entitled to actual or compensatory damages, including expenses incurred in
connection with the death of the victim, so long as the claim is supported by tangible documents.276
Though we are prepared to award actual damages, the Court is prevented from granting them, since the
records are bereft of any evidence to show that actual expenses were incurred or proven during trial.
Furthermore, in the appeal, the Solicitor General does not interpose any claim for actual damages.277

24
Republic of the Philippines 'Attorney Burke, who represents Lutz & Co. in the proceedings, was seen last night and asked for a
SUPREME COURT statement as to the case. Mr. Burke refused to talk on the case and stated that when it came to trial it
Manila would be time enough to obtain the facts.'
EN BANC 'The present action came before the court on motion of Attorney Burke to set aside the judgment, which,
G.R. No. L-9726 December 8, 1914 in the original case, given the owners of the property judgment for the amount of the insurance.'
THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. 'Attorney Burke filed the sworn statements with the court and the notarial returns to the same were
CARSON TAYLOR, defendant-appellant. made yesterday afternoon, the sworn statements as to the burning of the house being in the hands of
C. W. O'Brien for appellant. the sheriff.'
Office of the Solicitor General Corpus for appellee. 'It was stated yesterday that a criminal action would follow the civil proceedings instituted to recover the
JOHNSON, J.: funds in the case entitled on the court records, Maria Mortera de Eceiza and Manuel Eceiza versus the
This was an action for criminal libel. West o Sctoland Association, Limited, No. 10191 on the court records.'1awphil.net
The complaint alleged: 'It might be stated also that Eugenio Martin was one of the plaintiffs in the recent suit brought against Ex-
That on the 25th day of September, 1913, the said Carson Taylor, being then and there the acting editor Governor W. Cameron Forbes for lumber supplied for his Boston home.'
and proprietor, manager, printer, and publisher in the city of Manila, Philippine Islands, of a certain daily That in this article is contained the following paragraph. To wit:
bilingual newspaper, edited in the English and Spanish languages, and known as the 'Manila Daily ". . . Implicated in the charges of conspiracy and fraud is the name of the attorney for the plaintiff who
Bulletin,' a paper of large circulation throughout the Philippine Islands, as well as in the United States and made affidavit as to the burning of the house and against whom criminal proceedings will be brought as
other countries in all of which both languages are spoken and written, and having as such the supervision well as against the original owners," by which the said accused meant to refer and did refer to the said
and control of said newspaper, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, maliciously, and with Ramon Sotelo, who then and there was the attorney for the plaintiff in the case aforesaid, No. 10191 of
intent to impeach the honesty, virtue, and reputation of one Ramon Sotelo as a member of the bar of the the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila, and so was understood by the public who read the same;
Philippine Islands and as private individual, and to expose him to public hatred, contempt and ridicule, that the statements and allegations made in said paragraph are wholly false and untrue, thus impeaching
compose, print, edit, publish, and circulate and procure to be composed, printed, edited, published, and the honesty, virtue, and reputation of the said offended party as a member of the bar of the Philippine
circulated in said newspaper's issue of the above mentioned date, September 25, 1913, a certain false Islands and as private individual, and exposing him to public hatred, contempt and ridicule. Contrary to
and malicious defamation and libel in the English language of and concerning the said Ramon Sotelo, law.
which reads as follows: Upon said complaint the defendant was arrested, arraigned, plead not guilty, was tried, found guilty of
OWNERS FIRED BUILDING TO COLLECT INSURANCE. — CRIMINAL CHARGES FOLLOWS CIVIL SUIT. the crime charged, and sentenced by the Honorable George N. Hurd, judge, to pay a fine of P200. From
'Conspiracy divulged in three sworn statements made by members of the party after a family the sentence the defendant appealed to this court and made the following assignment of error:
disagreement. Sensational statement sworn to. Mystery of Calle O'Donnell fire solved and papers served. First. The court erred in finding that the defendant was responsible for and guilty of the alleged libel.
'Conspiracy to defraud the insurance company.' Second. The court erred in finding that the defendant was the proprietor and publisher of the "Manila
'The building was fired to collect the amount of insurance.' Daily Bulletin."
'The movable furniture of value was removed before the fire.' Third. The court erred in finding that the alleged libelous articles was libelous per se.
'The full amount of the insurance was collected, and the conspiracy was a success.' Fourth. The court erred in holding that the article was libelous, while finding that there was no malice.
'The above is the gist of the sworn statements of Vicente Sotelo and Eugenio Martin in connection with Fifth. The court erred in finding that the alleged libelous article referred to attorney Ramon Sotelo.
the fire that destroyed house No. 2157 Calle O'Donnell on April 4.' Sixth. The court erred in finding that Ramon Sotelo was attorney for the plaintiffs in case No. 10191,
'The case in question is a sensational one to say the least, and the court is being petitioned to set aside when the alleged libel was published.
the ruling and cite the parties to show cause why they should not be cited to answer charges of After a careful examination of the record and the arguments presented by the appellant, we deem it
conspiracy to defraud.' necessary to discuss only the first and second assignments of error.
'On April 4, 1913, the house located at 2157 Calle O'donnell was destroyed by fire.1awphil.net The house In the Philippine Islands there exist no crimes such as are known in the United States and England as
was insured for P5,000, the contents for an additional P5,000, with the West of Scotland Insurance common law crimes. No act constitutes a crime here unless it is made so by law. Libel is made a crime
Association, of which Lutz & Co. are the local agents, with an additional P1,500 with Smith, Bell & Co.' here by Act No. 277 of the United States Philippine Commission. Said Act (No. 277) not only defines the
'The full amount of the insurance on the property was paid by the paid by the agents of the insurance crime of libel and prescribes the particular conditions necessary to constitute it, but it also names the
companies and the matter apparently dropped from the records.' persons who may be guilty of such crime. In the present case the complaint alleges that the defendant
'Then there was internal trouble and information began to leak out which resulted in sensational was, at the time of the publication of said alleged article "the acting editor, proprietor, manager, printer,
statements to the effect that the destruction of the property had been an act of incendiarism in order to publisher, etc. etc. of a certain bilingual newspaper, etc., known as the 'Manila Daily Bulletin,' a paper of
collect the insurance. The there was an investigation started and it resulted in sworn statements of the large circulation throughout the Philippine Islands, as well as in the United States and other countries."
three persons above mentioned.' It will be noted that the complaint charges the defendant as "the acting editor, proprietor, manager,
'Notarial returns were made yesterday by the sheriff, based on the sworn statements and the parties are printer, and publisher." From an examination of said Act No. 277, we find that section 6 provides that:
cited to appear in court and show cause.' "Every author, editor, or proprietor of any book, newspaper, or serial publication is chargeable with the
'The investigation also showed that the furniture, which was supposed to be in line the house at the time publication of any words contained in any part of said book or number of each newspaper or serial as
of the conflagration and which was paid for by the insurance agents, sworn statements having been fully as if he were the author of the same."
made that it was destroyed in the fire, was in certain house in Montalban, where it was identified upon By an examination of said article, with reference to the persons who may be liable for the publication of a
the sworn statements of the above mentioned. Implicated in the charges of conspiracy and fraud is the libel in a newspaper, we find that it only provides for a punishment of "the author, editor, or proprietor."
name of the attorney for the plaintiff who made affidavit as to the burning of the house and against It would follow, therefore, that unless the proof shows that the defendant in the present case is the
whom criminal proceedings will be brought as well as against the original owners.' "author, editor, or proprietor" of the newspaper in which the libel was published, he can not be held
liable.

25
In the present case the Solicitor-General in his brief said that — "No person is represented to be either investigation. He can not wear the toga of author of editor and hide his responsibility by giving himself
the 'author, editor, or proprietor.'" That statement of the Solicitor-General is fully sustained by the record. some other name. While the terms "author, editor, and proprietor" of a newspaper are terms well
There is not a word of proof in the record showing that the defendant was either the "author, the editor, defined, the particular words "author, editor, or proprietor" are not material or important, further than
or the proprietor." The proof shows that the defendant was the "manager." He must, therefore, be that they are words which are intended to show the relation of the responsible party to the publication.
acquitted of the crime charged against him, unless it is shown by the proof that he, as "manager" of the That relation may as well exist under some other name or denomination.
newspaper, was in some way directly responsible for the writing, editing, or publishing of the matter For the foregoing reasons, therefore, there being no proof whatever in the record showing that the
contained in said alleged libelous article. The prosecution presented the newspaper, the "Manila Daily defendant was the "author, the editor, or the proprietor" of the newspaper in question, the sentence of
Bulletin," for the purpose of showing the relation which the defendant had to it. That was the only proof the lower court must be reversed, the complaint dismissed and the defendant discharged from the
presented by the prosecution to show the relation which the defendant had to the publication of the libel custody of the law, with costs de officio. So ordered
in question. From an examination of the editorial page of said exhibit, we find that it shows that the
"Manila Daily Bulletin" is owned by the "Bulletin Publishing Company," and that the defendant was its
manager. There is not a word of proof in the record which shows what relation the manager had to the
publication of said newspaper. We might, by series of presumptions and assumptions, conclude that the
manager of a newspaper has some direct responsibility with its publication. We believe, however, that
such presumptions and assumptions, in the absence of a single letter of proof relating thereto, would be
unwarranted and unjustified. The prosecuting attorney had an opportunity to present proof or because
no such proof was obtainable, he presented none. It certainly is not difficult matter to ascertain who is
the real person responsible for the publication of a newspaper which is published daily and has a wide
circulation in a particular community. No question was asked the defendant concerning his particular
relation to the publication of the newspaper in question. We do not desire to be understood in our
conclusions here as holding that the "manager" or the "printer" may not, under certain conditions and
proper proof, he held to be the "author, editor, or proprietor" of a newspaper. He may nominate himself
as "manager" or "printer" simply, and be at the same time the "author, editor, or proprietor" of the
newspaper. He can not avoid responsibility by using some other term or word, indicating his relation to
the newspaper or the publication, when, as a matter of fact, he is the "author, the editor, or the
proprietor" of the same. His real relation to the said publication is a matter of proof. The Solicitor-
General, in his with the hope of evading legal responsibility, as the Libel Law places the responsibility for
publishing a libel, on "every author, editor, or proprietor of any book, etc." Had the prosecuting attorney
in the trial of the cause believed that the defendant, even though he called himself the "manager" was,
in fact, the "author, editor, or proprietor" of said publication, he should have presented some proof
supporting that contention. Neither do we desire to be understood as holding that simply because a
person connected with the publication of a newspaper who calls himself the "manager" or "printer" may
not, in fact and at the same time, be the "author, editor, or proprietor." The "author, editor, or proprietor"
can not avoid responsibility for the writing and publication of a libelous article, by simply calling himself
the "manager" or the "printer" of a newspaper. That, however, is a question of proof. The burden is upon
the prosecution to show that the defendant is, by whatever name he may call himself, in truth and in
fact, the "author, editor, or proprietor" of a newspaper. The courts cannot assume, in the absence of
proof, that one who called himself "manager" was in fact the "author, editor, or proprietor." We might
assume, perhaps, that the "manager" of a newspaper plays an important part in the publication of the
same by virtue of the general signification of the word "manager." Men can not, however, be sentenced
upon the basis of a mere assumption. There must be some proof. The word "manage" has been defined
by Webster to mean "to have under control and direction; to conduct; to guide; to administer; to treat; to
handle." Webster defines "manager" to be "one who manages; a conductor or director; as, the manager
of a theater." A manager, as that word is generally understood, we do not believe includes the idea of
ownership. Generally speaking it means one who is representing another as an agent. That being true, his
power and duties and obligations are generally defined by contract. He may have expressed as well as
implied powers, but whatever his powers and duties are they must be defendant upon the nature of the
business and the terms of his contract. There is no fixed rule which indicates particularly and definitely
his duties, powers and obligations. An examination into the character of the business and the contract of
his employment must be made for the purpose of ascertaining definitely what his duties and obligations
are. His exact relation is always a matter of proof. It is incumbent upon the prosecution is a case like the
present, to show that whatever title, name or designation the defendant may bear, he was, in fact, the
"author, the editor, or the proprietor" of the newspaper. If he was in fact the "author, editor, or
proprietor," he can not escape responsibility by calling the "manager" or "printer." It is the relation which
he bears to the publication and not the name or title he has assumed, which is important in an

26
Republic of the Philippines WHEREFORE, finding accused LITO CORPUZ GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the felony of Estafa
SUPREME COURT under Article 315, paragraph one (1), subparagraph (b) of the Revised Penal Code;
Baguio City there being no offsetting generic aggravating nor ordinary mitigating circumstance/s to vary the penalty
EN BANC imposable;
G.R. No. 180016 April 29, 2014 accordingly, the accused is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of deprivation of liberty consisting of
LITO CORPUZ, Petitioner, vs. an imprisonment under the Indeterminate Sentence Law of FOUR (4) YEARS AND TWO (2) MONTHS of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. Prision Correccional in its medium period AS MINIMUM, to FOURTEEN (14) YEARS AND EIGHT (8)
DECISION MONTHS of Reclusion Temporal in its minimum period AS MAXIMUM; to indemnify private complainant
PERALTA, J.: Danilo Tangcoy the amount of ₱98,000.00 as actual damages, and to pay the costs of suit.
This is to resolve the Petition for Review on Certiorari, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, dated SO ORDERED.
November 5, 2007, of petitioner Lito Corpuz (petitioner), seeking to reverse and set aside the Decision1 The case was elevated to the CA, however, the latter denied the appeal of petitioner and affirmed the
dated March 22, 2007 and Resolution2 dated September 5, 2007 of the Court of Appeals (CA), which decision of the RTC, thus:
affirmed with modification the Decision3 dated July 30, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 46, WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is DENIED. The assailed Judgment dated July 30, 2004 of the RTC of San
San Fernando City, finding the petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa under Fernando City (P), Branch 46, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION on the imposable prison term,
Article 315, paragraph (1), sub-paragraph (b) of the Revised Penal Code. such that accused-appellant shall suffer the indeterminate penalty of 4 years and 2 months of prision
The antecedent facts follow. correccional, as minimum, to 8 years of prision mayor, as maximum, plus 1 year for each additional
Private complainant Danilo Tangcoy and petitioner met at the Admiral Royale Casino in Olongapo City ₱10,000.00, or a total of 7 years. The rest of the decision stands.
sometime in 1990. Private complainant was then engaged in the business of lending money to casino SO ORDERED.
players and, upon hearing that the former had some pieces of jewelry for sale, petitioner approached Petitioner, after the CA denied his motion for reconsideration, filed with this Court the present petition
him on May 2, 1991 at the same casino and offered to sell the said pieces of jewelry on commission basis. stating the following grounds:
Private complainant agreed, and as a consequence, he turned over to petitioner the following items: an A. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN CONFIRMING THE ADMISSION AND APPRECIATION BY
18k diamond ring for men; a woman's bracelet; one (1) men's necklace and another men's bracelet, with THE LOWER COURT OF PROSECUTION EVIDENCE, INCLUDING ITS EXHIBITS, WHICH ARE MERE MACHINE
an aggregate value of ₱98,000.00, as evidenced by a receipt of even date. They both agreed that COPIES, AS THIS VIOLATES THE BEST EVIDENCE RULE;
petitioner shall remit the proceeds of the sale, and/or, if unsold, to return the same items, within a B. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE LOWER COURT'S FINDING THAT THE
period of 60 days. The period expired without petitioner remitting the proceeds of the sale or returning CRIMINAL INFORMATION FOR ESTAFA WAS NOT FATALLY DEFECTIVE ALTHOUGH THE SAME DID NOT
the pieces of jewelry. When private complainant was able to meet petitioner, the latter promised the CHARGE THE OFFENSE UNDER ARTICLE 315 (1) (B) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE IN THAT -
former that he will pay the value of the said items entrusted to him, but to no avail. 1. THE INFORMATION DID NOT FIX A PERIOD WITHIN WHICH THE SUBJECT [PIECES OF] JEWELRY SHOULD
Thus, an Information was filed against petitioner for the crime of estafa, which reads as follows: BE RETURNED, IF UNSOLD, OR THE MONEY TO BE REMITTED, IF SOLD;
That on or about the fifth (5th) day of July 1991, in the City of Olongapo, Philippines, and within the 2. THE DATE OF THE OCCURRENCE OF THE CRIME ALLEGED IN THE INFORMATION AS OF 05 JULY 1991
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, after having received from one Danilo WAS MATERIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE TESTIFIED TO BY THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT WHICH WAS
Tangcoy, one (1) men's diamond ring, 18k, worth ₱45,000.00; one (1) three-baht men's bracelet, 22k, 02 MAY 1991;
worth ₱25,000.00; one (1) two-baht ladies' bracelet, 22k, worth ₱12,000.00, or in the total amount of C. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE LOWER COURT'S FINDING THAT
Ninety-Eight Thousand Pesos (₱98,000.00), Philippine currency, under expressed obligation on the part of DEMAND TO RETURN THE SUBJECT [PIECES OF] JEWELRY, IF UNSOLD, OR REMIT THE PROCEEDS, IF SOLD
said accused to remit the proceeds of the sale of the said items or to return the same, if not sold, said – AN ELEMENT OF THE OFFENSE – WAS PROVED;
accused, once in possession of the said items, with intent to defraud, and with unfaithfulness and abuse D. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE LOWER COURT'S FINDING THAT THE
of confidence, and far from complying with his aforestated obligation, did then and there wilfully, PROSECUTION'S CASE WAS PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT ALTHOUGH -
unlawfully and feloniously misappropriate, misapply and convert to his own personal use and benefit the 1. THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT TESTIFIED ON TWO (2) VERSIONS OF THE INCIDENT;
aforesaid jewelries (sic) or the proceeds of the sale thereof, and despite repeated demands, the accused 2. THE VERSION OF THE PETITIONER – ACCUSED IS MORE STRAIGHTFORWARD AND LOGICAL,
failed and refused to return the said items or to remit the amount of Ninety- Eight Thousand Pesos CONSISTENT WITH HUMAN EXPERIENCE;
(₱98,000.00), Philippine currency, to the damage and prejudice of said Danilo Tangcoy in the 3. THE EQUIPOISE RULE WAS NOT APPRECIATED IN AND APPLIED TO THIS CASE;
aforementioned amount. 4. PENAL STATUTES ARE STRICTLY CONSTRUED AGAINST THE STATE.
CONTRARY TO LAW. In its Comment dated May 5, 2008, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) stated the following counter-
On January 28, 1992, petitioner, with the assistance of his counsel, entered a plea of not guilty. arguments:
Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued. The exhibits were properly admitted inasmuch as petitioner failed to object to their admissibility.
The prosecution, to prove the above-stated facts, presented the lone testimony of Danilo Tangcoy. On the The information was not defective inasmuch as it sufficiently established the designation of the offense
other hand, the defense presented the lone testimony of petitioner, which can be summarized, as and the acts complained of.
follows: The prosecution sufficiently established all the elements of the crime charged.
Petitioner and private complainant were collecting agents of Antonio Balajadia, who is engaged in the This Court finds the present petition devoid of any merit.
financing business of extending loans to Base employees. For every collection made, they earn a The factual findings of the appellate court generally are conclusive, and carry even more weight when
commission. Petitioner denied having transacted any business with private complainant. said court affirms the findings of the trial court, absent any showing that the findings are totally devoid of
However, he admitted obtaining a loan from Balajadia sometime in 1989 for which he was made to sign a support in the records, or that they are so glaringly erroneous as to constitute grave abuse of discretion.4
blank receipt. He claimed that the same receipt was then dated May 2, 1991 and used as evidence Petitioner is of the opinion that the CA erred in affirming the factual findings of the trial court. He now
against him for the supposed agreement to sell the subject pieces of jewelry, which he did not even see. comes to this Court raising both procedural and substantive issues.
After trial, the RTC found petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged in the According to petitioner, the CA erred in affirming the ruling of the trial court, admitting in evidence a
Information. The dispositive portion of the decision states: receipt dated May 2, 1991 marked as Exhibit "A" and its submarkings, although the same was merely a

27
photocopy, thus, violating the best evidence rule. However, the records show that petitioner never was able to locate petitioner after almost two (2) months from the time he gave the pieces of jewelry and
objected to the admissibility of the said evidence at the time it was identified, marked and testified upon asked petitioner about the same items with the latter promising to pay them. Thus:
in court by private complainant. The CA also correctly pointed out that petitioner also failed to raise an PROS. MARTINEZ
objection in his Comment to the prosecution's formal offer of evidence and even admitted having signed q Now, Mr. Witness, this was executed on 2 May 1991, and this transaction could have been finished on 5
the said receipt. The established doctrine is that when a party failed to interpose a timely objection to July 1991, the question is what happens (sic) when the deadline came?
evidence at the time they were offered in evidence, such objection shall be considered as waived.5 a I went looking for him, sir.
Another procedural issue raised is, as claimed by petitioner, the formally defective Information filed q For whom?
against him. He contends that the Information does not contain the period when the pieces of jewelry a Lito Corpuz, sir.
were supposed to be returned and that the date when the crime occurred was different from the one q Were you able to look (sic) for him?
testified to by private complainant. This argument is untenable. The CA did not err in finding that the a I looked for him for a week, sir.
Information was substantially complete and in reiterating that objections as to the matters of form and q Did you know his residence?
substance in the Information cannot be made for the first time on appeal. It is true that the gravamen of a Yes, sir.
the crime of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1, subparagraph (b) of the RPC is the appropriation or q Did you go there?
conversion of money or property received to the prejudice of the owner6 and that the time of a Yes, sir.
occurrence is not a material ingredient of the crime, hence, the exclusion of the period and the wrong q Did you find him?
date of the occurrence of the crime, as reflected in the Information, do not make the latter fatally a No, sir.
defective. The CA ruled: q Were you able to talk to him since 5 July 1991?
x x x An information is legally viable as long as it distinctly states the statutory designation of the offense a I talked to him, sir.
and the acts or omissions constitutive thereof. Then Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court provides q How many times?
that a complaint or information is sufficient if it states the name of the accused; a Two times, sir.
the designation of the offense by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the q What did you talk (sic) to him?
offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate time of the commission of the offense, and the a About the items I gave to (sic) him, sir.
place wherein the offense was committed. In the case at bar, a reading of the subject Information shows q Referring to Exhibit A-2?
compliance with the foregoing rule. That the time of the commission of the offense was stated as " on or a Yes, sir, and according to him he will take his obligation and I asked him where the items are and he
about the fifth (5th) day of July, 1991" is not likewise fatal to the prosecution's cause considering that promised me that he will pay these amount, sir.
Section 11 of the same Rule requires a statement of the precise time only when the same is a material q Up to this time that you were here, were you able to collect from him partially or full?
ingredient of the offense. The gravamen of the crime of estafa under Article 315, paragraph 1 (b) of the a No, sir.9
Revised Penal Code (RPC) is the appropriation or conversion of money or property received to the No specific type of proof is required to show that there was demand.10 Demand need not even be
prejudice of the offender. Thus, aside from the fact that the date of the commission thereof is not an formal; it may be verbal.11 The specific word "demand" need not even be used to show that it has
essential element of the crime herein charged, the failure of the prosecution to specify the exact date indeed been made upon the person charged, since even a mere query as to the whereabouts of the
does not render the Information ipso facto defective. Moreover, the said date is also near the due date money [in this case, property], would be tantamount to a demand.12 As expounded in Asejo v. People:13
within which accused-appellant should have delivered the proceeds or returned the said [pieces of With regard to the necessity of demand, we agree with the CA that demand under this kind of estafa
jewelry] as testified upon by Tangkoy, hence, there was sufficient compliance with the rules. Accused- need not be formal or written. The appellate court observed that the law is silent with regard to the form
appellant, therefore, cannot now be allowed to claim that he was not properly apprised of the charges of demand in estafa under Art. 315 1(b), thus:
proferred against him.7 When the law does not qualify, We should not qualify. Should a written demand be necessary, the law
It must be remembered that petitioner was convicted of the crime of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph would have stated so. Otherwise, the word "demand" should be interpreted in its general meaning as to
1 (b) of the RPC, which reads: include both written and oral demand. Thus, the failure of the prosecution to present a written demand
ART. 315. Swindling (estafa). – Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned as evidence is not fatal.
hereinbelow. In Tubb v. People, where the complainant merely verbally inquired about the money entrusted to the
1. With unfaithfulness or abuse of confidence, namely: accused, we held that the query was tantamount to a demand, thus:
xxxx x x x [T]he law does not require a demand as a condition precedent to the existence of the crime of
(b) By misappropriating or converting, to the prejudice of another, money, goods, or any other personal embezzlement. It so happens only that failure to account, upon demand for funds or property held in
property received by the offender in trust or on commission, or for administration, or under any other trust, is circumstantial evidence of misappropriation. The same way, however, be established by other
obligation involving the duty to make delivery of or to return the same, even though such obligation be proof, such as that introduced in the case at bar.14
totally or partially guaranteed by a bond; or by denying having received such money, goods, or other In view of the foregoing and based on the records, the prosecution was able to prove the existence of all
property; x x x the elements of the crime. Private complainant gave petitioner the pieces of jewelry in trust, or on
The elements of estafa with abuse of confidence are as follows: (a) that money, goods or other personal commission basis, as shown in the receipt dated May 2, 1991 with an obligation to sell or return the
property is received by the offender in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under any other same within sixty (60) days, if unsold. There was misappropriation when petitioner failed to remit the
obligation involving the duty to make delivery of, or to return the same; (b) that there be proceeds of those pieces of jewelry sold, or if no sale took place, failed to return the same pieces of
misappropriation or conversion of such money or property by the offender or denial on his part of such jewelry within or after the agreed period despite demand from the private complainant, to the prejudice
receipt; (c) that such misappropriation or conversion or denial is to the prejudice of another; and (d) that of the latter.
there is a demand made by the offended party on the offender.8 Anent the credibility of the prosecution's sole witness, which is questioned by petitioner, the same is
Petitioner argues that the last element, which is, that there is a demand by the offended party on the unmeritorious. Settled is the rule that in assessing the credibility of witnesses, this Court gives great
offender, was not proved. This Court disagrees. In his testimony, private complainant narrated how he respect to the evaluation of the trial court for it had the unique opportunity to observe the demeanor of
witnesses and their deportment on the witness stand, an opportunity denied the appellate courts, which

28
merely rely on the records of the case.15 The assessment by the trial court is even conclusive and binding recommendation for an amendment or modification of the legal provisions which it believes to be
if not tainted with arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight and influence, harsh.20
especially when such finding is affirmed by the CA.16 Truth is established not by the number of Anent the non-suspension of the execution of the sentence, retired Chief Justice Ramon C. Aquino and
witnesses, but by the quality of their testimonies, for in determining the value and credibility of evidence, retired Associate Justice Carolina C. Griño-Aquino, in their book, The Revised Penal Code,21 echoed the
the witnesses are to be weighed not numbered.17 above-cited commentary, thus:
As regards the penalty, while this Court's Third Division was deliberating on this case, the question of the The second paragraph of Art. 5 is an application of the humanitarian principle that justice must be
continued validity of imposing on persons convicted of crimes involving property came up. The legislature tempered with mercy. Generally, the courts have nothing to do with the wisdom or justness of the
apparently pegged these penalties to the value of the money and property in 1930 when it enacted the penalties fixed by law. "Whether or not the penalties prescribed by law upon conviction of violations of
Revised Penal Code. Since the members of the division reached no unanimity on this question and since particular statutes are too severe or are not severe enough, are questions as to which commentators on
the issues are of first impression, they decided to refer the case to the Court en banc for consideration the law may fairly differ; but it is the duty of the courts to enforce the will of the legislator in all cases
and resolution. Thus, several amici curiae were invited at the behest of the Court to give their academic unless it clearly appears that a given penalty falls within the prohibited class of excessive fines or cruel
opinions on the matter. Among those that graciously complied were Dean Jose Manuel Diokno, Dean and unusual punishment." A petition for clemency should be addressed to the Chief Executive.22
Sedfrey M. Candelaria, Professor Alfredo F. Tadiar, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House of There is an opinion that the penalties provided for in crimes against property be based on the current
Representatives. The parties were later heard on oral arguments before the Court en banc, with Atty. inflation rate or at the ratio of ₱1.00 is equal to ₱100.00 . However, it would be dangerous as this would
Mario L. Bautista appearing as counsel de oficio of the petitioner. result in uncertainties, as opposed to the definite imposition of the penalties. It must be remembered
After a thorough consideration of the arguments presented on the matter, this Court finds the following: that the economy fluctuates and if the proposed imposition of the penalties in crimes against property be
There seems to be a perceived injustice brought about by the range of penalties that the courts continue adopted, the penalties will not cease to change, thus, making the RPC, a self-amending law. Had the
to impose on crimes against property committed today, based on the amount of damage measured by framers of the RPC intended that to be so, it should have provided the same, instead, it included the
the value of money eighty years ago in 1932. However, this Court cannot modify the said range of earlier cited Article 5 as a remedy. It is also improper to presume why the present legislature has not
penalties because that would constitute judicial legislation. What the legislature's perceived failure in made any moves to amend the subject penalties in order to conform with the present times. For all we
amending the penalties provided for in the said crimes cannot be remedied through this Court's know, the legislature intends to retain the same penalties in order to deter the further commission of
decisions, as that would be encroaching upon the power of another branch of the government. This, those punishable acts which have increased tremendously through the years. In fact, in recent moves of
however, does not render the whole situation without any remedy. It can be appropriately presumed that the legislature, it is apparent that it aims to broaden the coverage of those who violate penal laws. In the
the framers of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) had anticipated this matter by including Article 5, which crime of Plunder, from its original minimum amount of ₱100,000,000.00 plundered, the legislature
reads: lowered it to ₱50,000,000.00. In the same way, the legislature lowered the threshold amount upon which
ART. 5. Duty of the court in connection with acts which should be repressed but which are not covered by the Anti-Money Laundering Act may apply, from ₱1,000,000.00 to ₱500,000.00.
the law, and in cases of excessive penalties. - Whenever a court has knowledge of any act which it may It is also worth noting that in the crimes of Theft and Estafa, the present penalties do not seem to be
deem proper to repress and which is not punishable by law, it shall render the proper decision, and shall excessive compared to the proposed imposition of their corresponding penalties. In Theft, the provisions
report to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, the reasons which induce the court to state that:
believe that said act should be made the subject of penal legislation. Art. 309. Penalties. — Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:
In the same way, the court shall submit to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, such 1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is
statement as may be deemed proper, without suspending the execution of the sentence, when a strict more than 12,000 pesos but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds
enforcement of the provisions of this Code would result in the imposition of a clearly excessive penalty, the latter amount the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and
taking into consideration the degree of malice and the injury caused by the offense.18 one year for each additional ten thousand pesos, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall
The first paragraph of the above provision clearly states that for acts bourne out of a case which is not not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be
punishable by law and the court finds it proper to repress, the remedy is to render the proper decision imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision
and thereafter, report to the Chief Executive, through the Department of Justice, the reasons why the mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.
same act should be the subject of penal legislation. The premise here is that a deplorable act is present 2. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the value of the thing stolen
but is not the subject of any penal legislation, thus, the court is tasked to inform the Chief Executive of is more than 6,000 pesos but does not exceed 12,000 pesos.
the need to make that act punishable by law through legislation. The second paragraph is similar to the 3. The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the property
first except for the situation wherein the act is already punishable by law but the corresponding penalty stolen is more than 200 pesos but does not exceed 6,000 pesos.
is deemed by the court as excessive. The remedy therefore, as in the first paragraph is not to suspend the 4. Arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period, if the value of the
execution of the sentence but to submit to the Chief Executive the reasons why the court considers the property stolen is over 50 pesos but does not exceed 200 pesos.
said penalty to be non-commensurate with the act committed. Again, the court is tasked to inform the 5. Arresto mayor to its full extent, if such value is over 5 pesos but does not exceed 50 pesos.
Chief Executive, this time, of the need for a legislation to provide the proper penalty. 6. Arresto mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if such value does not exceed 5 pesos.
In his book, Commentaries on the Revised Penal Code,19 Guillermo B. Guevara opined that in Article 5, 7. Arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, if the theft is committed under the circumstances
the duty of the court is merely to report to the Chief Executive, with a recommendation for an enumerated in paragraph 3 of the next preceding article and the value of the thing stolen does not
amendment or modification of the legal provisions which it believes to be harsh. Thus: exceed 5 pesos. If such value exceeds said amount, the provision of any of the five preceding subdivisions
This provision is based under the legal maxim "nullum crimen, nulla poena sige lege," that is, that there shall be made applicable.
can exist no punishable act except those previously and specifically provided for by penal statute. 8. Arresto menor in its minimum period or a fine not exceeding 50 pesos, when the value of the thing
No matter how reprehensible an act is, if the law-making body does not deem it necessary to prohibit its stolen is not over 5 pesos, and the offender shall have acted under the impulse of hunger, poverty, or the
perpetration with penal sanction, the Court of justice will be entirely powerless to punish such act. difficulty of earning a livelihood for the support of himself or his family.
Under the provisions of this article the Court cannot suspend the execution of a sentence on the ground In a case wherein the value of the thing stolen is ₱6,000.00, the above-provision states that the penalty is
that the strict enforcement of the provisions of this Code would cause excessive or harsh penalty. All that prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods (6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months).
the Court could do in such eventuality is to report the matter to the Chief Executive with a Applying the proposal, if the value of the thing stolen is ₱6,000.00, the penalty is imprisonment of

29
arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional minimum period (2 months and 1 day to 2 Assuming that the Court submits to the argument of Dean Diokno and declares the incremental penalty
years and 4 months). It would seem that under the present law, the penalty imposed is almost the same in Article 315 unconstitutional for violating the equal protection clause, what then is the penalty that
as the penalty proposed. In fact, after the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law under the should be applied in case the amount of the thing subject matter of the crime exceeds ₱22,000.00? It
existing law, the minimum penalty is still lowered by one degree; hence, the minimum penalty is arresto seems that the proposition poses more questions than answers, which leads us even more to conclude
mayor in its medium period to maximum period (2 months and 1 day to 6 months), making the offender that the appropriate remedy is to refer these matters to Congress for them to exercise their inherent
qualified for pardon or parole after serving the said minimum period and may even apply for probation. power to legislate laws.
Moreover, under the proposal, the minimum penalty after applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law is Even Dean Diokno was of the opinion that if the Court declares the IPR unconstitutional, the remedy is to
arresto menor in its maximum period to arresto mayor in its minimum period (21 days to 2 months) is go to Congress. Thus:
not too far from the minimum period under the existing law. Thus, it would seem that the present xxxx
penalty imposed under the law is not at all excessive. The same is also true in the crime of Estafa.23 JUSTICE PERALTA:
Moreover, if we apply the ratio of 1:100, as suggested to the value of the thing stolen in the crime of Now, your position is to declare that the incremental penalty should be struck down as unconstitutional
Theft and the damage caused in the crime of Estafa, the gap between the minimum and the maximum because it is absurd.
amounts, which is the basis of determining the proper penalty to be imposed, would be too wide and the DEAN DIOKNO:
penalty imposable would no longer be commensurate to the act committed and the value of the thing Absurd, it violates equal protection, Your Honor, and cruel and unusual punishment.
stolen or the damage caused: JUSTICE PERALTA:
I. Article 309, or the penalties for the crime of Theft, the value would be modified but the penalties are Then what will be the penalty that we are going to impose if the amount is more than Twenty-Two
not changed: Thousand (₱22,000.00) Pesos.
1. ₱12,000.00 to ₱22,000.00 will become ₱1,200,000.00 to ₱2,200,000.00, punished by prision mayor DEAN DIOKNO:
minimum to prision mayor medium (6 years and 1 day to 10 years). Well, that would be for Congress to ... if this Court will declare the incremental penalty rule
2. ₱6,000.00 to ₱12,000.00 will become ₱600,000.00 to ₱1,200,000.00, punished by prision correccional unconstitutional, then that would ... the void should be filled by Congress.
medium and to prision correccional maximum (2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 6 years).24 JUSTICE PERALTA:
3. ₱200.00 to ₱6,000.00 will become ₱20,000.00 to ₱600,000.00, punishable by prision correccional But in your presentation, you were fixing the amount at One Hundred Thousand (₱100,000.00) Pesos ...
minimum to prision correccional medium (6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months). DEAN DIOKNO:
4. ₱50.00 to ₱200.00 will become ₱5,000.00 to ₱20,000.00, punishable by arresto mayor medium to Well, my presen ... (interrupted)
prision correccional minimum (2 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months). JUSTICE PERALTA:
5. ₱5.00 to ₱50.00 will become ₱500.00 to ₱5,000.00, punishable by arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day For every One Hundred Thousand (₱100,000.00) Pesos in excess of Twenty-Two Thousand (₱22,000.00)
to 6 months). Pesos you were suggesting an additional penalty of one (1) year, did I get you right?
6. ₱5.00 will become ₱500.00, punishable by arresto mayor minimum to arresto mayor medium. DEAN DIOKNO:
x x x x. Yes, Your Honor, that is, if the court will take the route of statutory interpretation.
II. Article 315, or the penalties for the crime of Estafa, the value would also be modified but the penalties JUSTICE PERALTA:
are not changed, as follows: Ah ...
1st. ₱12,000.00 to ₱22,000.00, will become ₱1,200,000.00 to ₱2,200,000.00, punishable by prision DEAN DIOKNO:
correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum (4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 8 years).25 If the Court will say that they can go beyond the literal wording of the law...
2nd. ₱6,000.00 to ₱12,000.00 will become ₱600,000.00 to ₱1,200,000.00, punishable by prision JUSTICE PERALTA:
correccional minimum to prision correccional medium (6 months and 1 day to 4 years and 2 months).26 But if we de ... (interrupted)
3rd. ₱200.00 to ₱6,000.00 will become ₱20,000.00 to ₱600,000.00, punishable by arresto mayor DEAN DIOKNO:
maximum to prision correccional minimum (4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months). ....then....
4th. ₱200.00 will become ₱20,000.00, punishable by arresto mayor maximum (4 months and 1 day to 6 JUSTICE PERALTA:
months). Ah, yeah. But if we declare the incremental penalty as unsconstitutional, the court cannot fix the
An argument raised by Dean Jose Manuel I. Diokno, one of our esteemed amici curiae, is that the amount ...
incremental penalty provided under Article 315 of the RPC violates the Equal Protection Clause. DEAN DIOKNO:
The equal protection clause requires equality among equals, which is determined according to a valid No, Your Honor.
classification. The test developed by jurisprudence here and yonder is that of reasonableness,27 which JUSTICE PERALTA:
has four requisites: ... as the equivalent of one, as an incremental penalty in excess of Twenty-Two Thousand (₱22,000.00)
(1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions; Pesos.
(2) It is germane to the purposes of the law; DEAN DIOKNO:
(3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and No, Your Honor.
(4) It applies equally to all members of the same class.28 JUSTICE PERALTA:
According to Dean Diokno, the Incremental Penalty Rule (IPR) does not rest on substantial distinctions as The Court cannot do that.
₱10,000.00 may have been substantial in the past, but it is not so today, which violates the first requisite; DEAN DIOKNO:
the IPR was devised so that those who commit estafa involving higher amounts would receive heavier Could not be.
penalties; however, this is no longer achieved, because a person who steals ₱142,000.00 would receive JUSTICE PERALTA:
the same penalty as someone who steals hundreds of millions, which violates the second requisite; and, The only remedy is to go to Congress...
the IPR violates requisite no. 3, considering that the IPR is limited to existing conditions at the time the DEAN DIOKNO:
law was promulgated, conditions that no longer exist today. Yes, Your Honor.

30
JUSTICE PERALTA: 4. The penalty of reclusion temporal, in its medium and maximum periods, if the amount
... and determine the value or the amount. involved is more than twelve thousand pesos but is less than twenty-two thousand pesos. If
DEAN DIOKNO: the amount exceeds the latter, the penalty shall be reclusion temporal in its maximum period
Yes, Your Honor. to reclusion perpetua.
JUSTICE PERALTA: In all cases, persons guilty of malversation shall also suffer the penalty of perpetual special
That will be equivalent to the incremental penalty of one (1) year in excess of Twenty-Two Thousand disqualification and a fine equal to the amount of the funds malversed or equal to the total value of the
(₱22,000.00) Pesos. property embezzled.
DEAN DIOKNO: The failure of a public officer to have duly forthcoming any public funds or property with which he is
Yes, Your Honor. chargeable, upon demand by any duly authorized officer, shall be prima facie evidence that he has put
JUSTICE PERALTA: such missing funds or property to personal use.
The amount in excess of Twenty-Two Thousand (₱22,000.00) Pesos. The above-provisions contemplate a situation wherein the Government loses money due to the unlawful
Thank you, Dean. acts of the offender. Thus, following the proposal, if the amount malversed is ₱200.00 (under the existing
DEAN DIOKNO: law), the amount now becomes ₱20,000.00 and the penalty is prision correccional in its medium and
Thank you. maximum periods (2 years 4 months and 1 day to 6 years). The penalty may not be commensurate to the
x x x x29 act of embezzlement of ₱20,000.00 compared to the acts committed by public officials punishable by a
Dean Diokno also contends that Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code constitutes cruel and unusual special law, i.e., Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, specifically Section
punishment. Citing Solem v. Helm,30 Dean Diokno avers that the United States Federal Supreme Court 3,31 wherein the injury caused to the government is not generally defined by any monetary amount, the
has expanded the application of a similar Constitutional provision prohibiting cruel and unusual penalty (6 years and 1 month to 15 years)32 under the Anti-Graft Law will now become higher. This
punishment, to the duration of the penalty, and not just its form. The court therein ruled that three should not be the case, because in the crime of malversation, the public official takes advantage of his
things must be done to decide whether a sentence is proportional to a specific crime, viz.; (1) Compare public position to embezzle the fund or property of the government entrusted to him.
the nature and gravity of the offense, and the harshness of the penalty; (2) Compare the sentences The said inequity is also apparent in the crime of Robbery with force upon things (inhabited or
imposed on other criminals in the same jurisdiction, i.e., whether more serious crimes are subject to the uninhabited) where the value of the thing unlawfully taken and the act of unlawful entry are the bases of
same penalty or to less serious penalties; and (3) Compare the sentences imposed for commission of the the penalty imposable, and also, in Malicious Mischief, where the penalty of imprisonment or fine is
same crime in other jurisdictions. dependent on the cost of the damage caused.
However, the case of Solem v. Helm cannot be applied in the present case, because in Solem what In Robbery with force upon things (inhabited or uninhabited), if we increase the value of the thing
respondent therein deemed cruel was the penalty imposed by the state court of South Dakota after it unlawfully taken, as proposed in the ponencia, the sole basis of the penalty will now be the value of the
took into account the latter’s recidivist statute and not the original penalty for uttering a "no account" thing unlawfully taken and no longer the element of force employed in entering the premises. It may
check. Normally, the maximum punishment for the crime would have been five years imprisonment and likewise cause an inequity between the crime of Qualified Trespass to Dwelling under Article 280, and
a $5,000.00 fine. Nonetheless, respondent was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of this kind of robbery because the former is punishable by prision correccional in its medium and
parole under South Dakota’s recidivist statute because of his six prior felony convictions. Surely, the maximum periods (2 years, 4 months and 1 day to 6 years) and a fine not exceeding ₱1,000.00
factual antecedents of Solem are different from the present controversy. (₱100,000.00 now if the ratio is 1:100) where entrance to the premises is with violence or intimidation,
With respect to the crime of Qualified Theft, however, it is true that the imposable penalty for the which is the main justification of the penalty. Whereas in the crime of Robbery with force upon things, it
offense is high. Nevertheless, the rationale for the imposition of a higher penalty against a domestic is punished with a penalty of prision mayor (6 years and 1 day to 12 years) if the intruder is unarmed
servant is the fact that in the commission of the crime, the helper will essentially gravely abuse the trust without the penalty of Fine despite the fact that it is not merely the illegal entry that is the basis of the
and confidence reposed upon her by her employer. After accepting and allowing the helper to be a penalty but likewise the unlawful taking.
member of the household, thus entrusting upon such person the protection and safekeeping of the Furthermore, in the crime of Other Mischiefs under Article 329, the highest penalty that can be imposed
employer’s loved ones and properties, a subsequent betrayal of that trust is so repulsive as to warrant is arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods (2 months and 1 day to 6 months) if the value of
the necessity of imposing a higher penalty to deter the commission of such wrongful acts. the damage caused exceeds ₱1,000.00, but under the proposal, the value of the damage will now
There are other crimes where the penalty of fine and/or imprisonment are dependent on the subject become ₱100,000.00 (1:100), and still punishable by arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day to 6 months).
matter of the crime and which, by adopting the proposal, may create serious implications. For example, And, if the value of the damaged property does not exceed ₱200.00, the penalty is arresto menor or a
in the crime of Malversation, the penalty imposed depends on the amount of the money malversed by fine of not less than the value of the damage caused and not more than ₱200.00, if the amount involved
the public official, thus: does not exceed ₱200.00 or cannot be estimated. Under the proposal, ₱200.00 will now become
Art. 217. Malversation of public funds or property; Presumption of malversation. — Any public officer ₱20,000.00, which simply means that the fine of ₱200.00 under the existing law will now become
who, by reason of the duties of his office, is accountable for public funds or property, shall appropriate ₱20,000.00. The amount of Fine under this situation will now become excessive and afflictive in nature
the same or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent, through abandonment or negligence, shall despite the fact that the offense is categorized as a light felony penalized with a light penalty under
permit any other person to take such public funds, or property, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be Article 26 of the RPC.33 Unless we also amend Article 26 of the RPC, there will be grave implications on
guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or property, shall suffer: the penalty of Fine, but changing the same through Court decision, either expressly or impliedly, may not
1. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods, if the amount involved in the be legally and constitutionally feasible.
misappropriation or malversation does not exceed two hundred pesos. There are other crimes against property and swindling in the RPC that may also be affected by the
2. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the amount involved is more than proposal, such as those that impose imprisonment and/or Fine as a penalty based on the value of the
two hundred pesos but does not exceed six thousand pesos. damage caused, to wit: Article 311 (Theft of the property of the National Library and National Museum),
3. The penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in its minimum Article 312 (Occupation of real property or usurpation of real rights in property), Article 313 (Altering
period, if the amount involved is more than six thousand pesos but is less than twelve boundaries or landmarks), Article 316 (Other forms of swindling), Article 317 (Swindling a minor), Article
thousand pesos. 318 (Other deceits), Article 328 (Special cases of malicious mischief) and Article 331 (Destroying or
damaging statues, public monuments or paintings). Other crimes that impose Fine as a penalty will also

31
be affected, such as: Article 213 (Frauds against the public treasury and similar offenses), Article 215 ordered to pay the victim a sum of money as restitution. Clearly, this award of civil indemnity due to the
(Prohibited Transactions), death of the victim could not be contemplated as akin to the value of a thing that is unlawfully taken
Article 216 (Possession of prohibited interest by a public officer), Article 218 (Failure of accountable which is the basis in the imposition of the proper penalty in certain crimes. Thus, the reasoning in
officer to render accounts), Article 219 (Failure of a responsible public officer to render accounts before increasing the value of civil indemnity awarded in some offense cannot be the same reasoning that
leaving the country). would sustain the adoption of the suggested ratio. Also, it is apparent from Article 2206 that the law only
In addition, the proposal will not only affect crimes under the RPC. It will also affect crimes which are imposes a minimum amount for awards of civil indemnity, which is ₱3,000.00. The law did not provide
punishable by special penal laws, such as Illegal Logging or Violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree for a ceiling. Thus, although the minimum amount for the award cannot be changed, increasing the
No. 705, as amended.34 The law treats cutting, gathering, collecting and possessing timber or other amount awarded as civil indemnity can be validly modified and increased when the present circumstance
forest products without license as an offense as grave as and equivalent to the felony of qualified theft.35 warrants it. Corollarily, moral damages under Article 222039 of the Civil Code also does not fix the
Under the law, the offender shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 31036 amount of damages that can be awarded. It is discretionary upon the court, depending on the mental
of the Revised Penal Code, which means that the penalty imposable for the offense is, again, based on anguish or the suffering of the private offended party. The amount of moral damages can, in relation to
the value of the timber or forest products involved in the offense. Now, if we accept the said proposal in civil indemnity, be adjusted so long as it does not exceed the award of civil indemnity.
the crime of Theft, will this particular crime of Illegal Logging be amended also in so far as the penalty is In addition, some may view the penalty provided by law for the offense committed as tantamount to
concerned because the penalty is dependent on Articles 309 and 310 of the RPC? The answer is in the cruel punishment. However, all penalties are generally harsh, being punitive in nature. Whether or not
negative because the soundness of this particular law is not in question. they are excessive or amount to cruel punishment is a matter that should be left to lawmakers. It is the
With the numerous crimes defined and penalized under the Revised Penal Code and Special Laws, and prerogative of the courts to apply the law, especially when they are clear and not subject to any other
other related provisions of these laws affected by the proposal, a thorough study is needed to determine interpretation than that which is plainly written.
its effectivity and necessity. There may be some provisions of the law that should be amended; Similar to the argument of Dean Diokno, one of Justice Antonio Carpio’s opinions is that the incremental
nevertheless, this Court is in no position to conclude as to the intentions of the framers of the Revised penalty provision should be declared unconstitutional and that the courts should only impose the
Penal Code by merely making a study of the applicability of the penalties imposable in the present times. penalty corresponding to the amount of ₱22,000.00, regardless if the actual amount involved exceeds
Such is not within the competence of the Court but of the Legislature which is empowered to conduct ₱22,000.00. As suggested, however, from now until the law is properly amended by Congress, all crimes
public hearings on the matter, consult legal luminaries and who, after due proceedings, can decide of Estafa will no longer be punished by the appropriate penalty. A conundrum in the regular course of
whether or not to amend or to revise the questioned law or other laws, or even create a new legislation criminal justice would occur when every accused convicted of the crime of estafa will be meted penalties
which will adopt to the times. different from the proper penalty that should be imposed. Such drastic twist in the application of the law
Admittedly, Congress is aware that there is an urgent need to amend the Revised Penal Code. During the has no legal basis and directly runs counter to what the law provides.
oral arguments, counsel for the Senate informed the Court that at present, fifty-six (56) bills are now It should be noted that the death penalty was reintroduced in the dispensation of criminal justice by the
pending in the Senate seeking to amend the Revised Penal Code,37 each one proposing much needed Ramos Administration by virtue of Republic Act No. 765940 in December 1993. The said law has been
change and updates to archaic laws that were promulgated decades ago when the political, socio- questioned before this Court. There is, arguably, no punishment more cruel than that of death. Yet still,
economic, and cultural settings were far different from today’s conditions. from the time the death penalty was re-imposed until its lifting in June 2006 by Republic Act No. 9346,41
Verily, the primordial duty of the Court is merely to apply the law in such a way that it shall not usurp the Court did not impede the imposition of the death penalty on the ground that it is a "cruel
legislative powers by judicial legislation and that in the course of such application or construction, it punishment" within the purview of Section 19 (1),42 Article III of the Constitution. Ultimately, it was
should not make or supervise legislation, or under the guise of interpretation, modify, revise, amend, through an act of Congress suspending the imposition of the death penalty that led to its non-imposition
distort, remodel, or rewrite the law, or give the law a construction which is repugnant to its terms.38 The and not via the intervention of the Court.
Court should apply the law in a manner that would give effect to their letter and spirit, especially when Even if the imposable penalty amounts to cruel punishment, the Court cannot declare the provision of
the law is clear as to its intent and purpose. Succinctly put, the Court should shy away from encroaching the law from which the proper penalty emanates unconstitutional in the present action. Not only is it
upon the primary function of a co-equal branch of the Government; otherwise, this would lead to an violative of due process, considering that the State and the concerned parties were not given the
inexcusable breach of the doctrine of separation of powers by means of judicial legislation. opportunity to comment on the subject matter, it is settled that the constitutionality of a statute cannot
Moreover, it is to be noted that civil indemnity is, technically, not a penalty or a Fine; hence, it can be be attacked collaterally because constitutionality issues must be pleaded directly and not collaterally,43
increased by the Court when appropriate. Article 2206 of the Civil Code provides: more so in the present controversy wherein the issues never touched upon the constitutionality of any of
Art. 2206. The amount of damages for death caused by a crime or quasi-delict shall be at least three the provisions of the Revised Penal Code.
thousand pesos, even though there may have been mitigating circumstances. In addition: Besides, it has long been held that the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments is generally aimed at
(1) The defendant shall be liable for the loss of the earning capacity of the deceased, and the indemnity the form or character of the punishment rather than its severity in respect of duration or amount, and
shall be paid to the heirs of the latter; such indemnity shall in every case be assessed and awarded by the applies to punishments which public sentiment has regarded as cruel or obsolete, for instance, those
court, unless the deceased on account of permanent physical disability not caused by the defendant, had inflicted at the whipping post, or in the pillory, burning at the stake, breaking on the wheel,
no earning capacity at the time of his death; disemboweling, and the like. Fine and imprisonment would not thus be within the prohibition.44
(2) If the deceased was obliged to give support according to the provisions of Article 291, the recipient It takes more than merely being harsh, excessive, out of proportion, or severe for a penalty to be
who is not an heir called to the decedent's inheritance by the law of testate or intestate succession, may obnoxious to the Constitution. The fact that the punishment authorized by the statute is severe does not
demand support from the person causing the death, for a period not exceeding five years, the exact make it cruel and unusual. Expressed in other terms, it has been held that to come under the ban, the
duration to be fixed by the court; punishment must be "flagrantly and plainly oppressive," "wholly disproportionate to the nature of the
(3) The spouse, legitimate and illegitimate descendants and ascendants of the deceased may demand offense as to shock the moral sense of the community."45
moral damages for mental anguish by reason of the death of the deceased. Cruel as it may be, as discussed above, it is for the Congress to amend the law and adapt it to our modern
In our jurisdiction, civil indemnity is awarded to the offended party as a kind of monetary restitution or time.
compensation to the victim for the damage or infraction that was done to the latter by the accused, The solution to the present controversy could not be solved by merely adjusting the questioned
which in a sense only covers the civil aspect. Precisely, it is civil indemnity. Thus, in a crime where a monetary values to the present value of money based only on the current inflation rate. There are other
person dies, in addition to the penalty of imprisonment imposed to the offender, the accused is also factors and variables that need to be taken into consideration, researched, and deliberated upon before

32
the said values could be accurately and properly adjusted. The effects on the society, the injured party, eighty three years ago, but consider the proposed ratio of 1:100 as simply compensating for inflation.
the accused, its socio-economic impact, and the likes must be painstakingly evaluated and weighed upon Furthermore, the Court has in the past taken into consideration "changed conditions" or "significant
in order to arrive at a wholistic change that all of us believe should be made to our existing law. changes in circumstances" in its decisions.
Dejectedly, the Court is ill-equipped, has no resources, and lacks sufficient personnel to conduct public Similarly, the Chief Justice is of the view that the Court is not delving into the validity of the substance of
hearings and sponsor studies and surveys to validly effect these changes in our Revised Penal Code. This a statute. The issue is no different from the Court’s adjustment of indemnity in crimes against persons,
function clearly and appropriately belongs to Congress. Even Professor Tadiar concedes to this which the Court had previously adjusted in light of current times, like in the case of People v. Pantoja.47
conclusion, to wit: Besides, Article 10 of the Civil Code mandates a presumption that the lawmaking body intended right and
xxxx justice to prevail.
JUSTICE PERALTA: With due respect to the opinions and proposals advanced by the Chief Justice and my Colleagues, all the
Yeah, Just one question. You are suggesting that in order to determine the value of Peso you have to take proposals ultimately lead to prohibited judicial legislation. Short of being repetitious and as extensively
into consideration several factors. discussed above, it is truly beyond the powers of the Court to legislate laws, such immense power
PROFESSOR TADIAR: belongs to Congress and the Court should refrain from crossing this clear-cut divide. With regard to civil
Yes. indemnity, as elucidated before, this refers to civil liability which is awarded to the offended party as a
JUSTICE PERALTA: kind of monetary restitution. It is truly based on the value of money. The same cannot be said on
Per capita income. penalties because, as earlier stated, penalties are not only based on the value of money, but on several
PROFESSOR TADIAR: other factors. Further, since the law is silent as to the maximum amount that can be awarded and only
Per capita income. pegged the minimum sum, increasing the amount granted as civil indemnity is not proscribed. Thus, it
JUSTICE PERALTA: can be adjusted in light of current conditions.
Consumer price index. Now, with regard to the penalty imposed in the present case, the CA modified the ruling of the RTC. The
PROFESSOR TADIAR: RTC imposed the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional in its
Yeah. medium period, as minimum, to fourteen (14) years and eight (8) months of reclusion temporal in its
JUSTICE PERALTA: minimum period, as maximum. However, the CA imposed the indeterminate penalty of four (4) years and
Inflation ... two (2) months of prision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years of prision mayor, as maximum,
PROFESSOR TADIAR: plus one (1) year for each additional ₱10,000.00, or a total of seven (7) years.
Yes. In computing the penalty for this type of estafa, this Court's ruling in Cosme, Jr. v. People48 is highly
JUSTICE PERALTA: instructive, thus:
... and so on. Is the Supreme Court equipped to determine those factors? With respect to the imposable penalty, Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code provides:
PROFESSOR TADIAR: ART. 315 Swindling (estafa). - Any person who shall defraud another by any of the means mentioned
There are many ways by which the value of the Philippine Peso can be determined utilizing all of those hereinbelow shall be punished by:
economic terms. 1st. The penalty of prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its minimum period, if
JUSTICE PERALTA: the amount of the fraud is over 12,000 but does not exceed 22,000 pesos, and if such amount exceeds
Yeah, but ... the latter sum, the penalty provided in this paragraph shall be imposed in its maximum period, adding
PROFESSOR TADIAR: one year for each additional 10,000 pesos; but the total penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed
And I don’t think it is within the power of the Supreme Court to pass upon and peg the value to One twenty years. In such case, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for
Hundred (₱100.00) Pesos to ... the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion
JUSTICE PERALTA: temporal, as the case may be.
Yeah. The penalty prescribed by Article 315 is composed of only two, not three, periods, in which case, Article
PROFESSOR TADIAR: 65 of the same Code requires the division of the time included in the penalty into three equal portions of
... One (₱1.00.00) Peso in 1930. time included in the penalty prescribed, forming one period of each of the three portions. Applying the
JUSTICE PERALTA: latter provisions, the maximum, medium and minimum periods of the penalty prescribed are:
That is legislative in nature. Maximum - 6 years, 8 months, 21 days to 8 years
PROFESSOR TADIAR: Medium - 5 years, 5 months, 11 days to 6 years, 8 months, 20 days
That is my position that the Supreme Court ... Minimum - 4 years, 2 months, 1 day to 5 years, 5 months, 10 days49
JUSTICE PERALTA: To compute the maximum period of the prescribed penalty, prisión correccional maximum to prisión
Yeah, okay. mayor minimum should be divided into three equal portions of time each of which portion shall be
PROFESSOR TADIAR: deemed to form one period in accordance with Article 6550 of the RPC.51 In the present case, the
... has no power to utilize the power of judicial review to in order to adjust, to make the adjustment that amount involved is ₱98,000.00, which exceeds ₱22,000.00, thus, the maximum penalty imposable should
is a power that belongs to the legislature. be within the maximum period of 6 years, 8 months and 21 days to 8 years of prision mayor. Article 315
JUSTICE PERALTA: also states that a period of one year shall be added to the penalty for every additional ₱10,000.00
Thank you, Professor. defrauded in excess of ₱22,000.00, but in no case shall the total penalty which may be imposed exceed
PROFESSOR TADIAR: 20 years.
Thank you.46 Considering that the amount of ₱98,000.00 is ₱76,000.00 more than the ₱22,000.00 ceiling set by law,
Finally, the opinion advanced by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno echoes the view that the role of then, adding one year for each additional ₱10,000.00, the maximum period of 6 years, 8 months and 21
the Court is not merely to dispense justice, but also the active duty to prevent injustice. Thus, in order to days to 8 years of prision mayor minimum would be increased by 7 years. Taking the maximum of the
prevent injustice in the present controversy, the Court should not impose an obsolete penalty pegged

33
prescribed penalty, which is 8 years, plus an additional 7 years, the maximum of the indeterminate
penalty is 15 years.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, since the penalty prescribed by law for the estafa charge
against petitioner is prision correccional maximum to prision mayor minimum, the penalty next lower
would then be prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods.
Thus, the minimum term of the indeterminate sentence should be anywhere from 6 months and 1 day to
4 years and 2 months.
One final note, the Court should give Congress a chance to perform its primordial duty of lawmaking. The
Court should not pre-empt Congress and usurp its inherent powers of making and enacting laws. While it
may be the most expeditious approach, a short cut by judicial fiat is a dangerous proposition, lest the
Court dare trespass on prohibited judicial legislation.
WHEREFORE, the Petition for Review on Certiorari dated November 5, 2007 of petitioner Lito Corpuz is
hereby DENIED. Consequently, the Decision dated March 22, 2007 and Resolution dated September 5,
2007 of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed with modification the Decision dated July 30, 2004 of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 46, San Fernando City, finding petitioner guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of Estafa under Article 315, paragraph (1), sub-paragraph (b) of the Revised Penal Code, are
hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION that the penalty imposed is the indeterminate penalty of
imprisonment ranging from THREE (3) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS and ELEVEN DAYS of prision
correccional, as minimum, to FIFTEEN (15) YEARS of reclusion temporal as maximum.
Pursuant to Article 5 of the Revised Penal Code, let a Copy of this Decision be furnished the President of
the Republic of the Philippines, through the Department of Justice.
Also, let a copy of this Decision be furnished the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
Representatives.
SO ORDERED.

34
Republic of the Philippines A constitution, to contain an accurate detail of all the Subdivisions of which its great powers will admit,
SUPREME COURT and of all the means by which they may be carried into execution, would partake of a prolixity of a legal
Manila code, and could scarcely be embraced by the human mind. It would probably never be understood by the
EN BANC public. (M'Culloch vs. Maryland [1819], 4 Wheat., 316, 407; 4 L. ed., 579.)
G.R. No. 17584 March 8, 1922 That is why, in pursuance of the Constitution of the United States, each States, each State has the
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES ISLANDS, plaintiff-appellee, vs. authority, under its police power, to define and punish crimes and to lay down the rules of criminal
GREGORIO SANTIAGO, defendant-appellant. procedure.
L. Porter Hamilton for appellant. The states, as a part of their police power, have a large measure of discretion in creating and defining
Acting Attorney-General Tuason for appellee. criminal offenses. . . .
ROMUALDEZ, J.: A Statute relating to criminal procedure is void as a denial of the equal protection of the laws if it
Having caused the death of Porfirio Parondo, a boy 7 years old, by striking him with automobile that he prescribes a different procedure in the case of persons in like situation. Subject to this limitation,
was driving, the herein appellant was prosecuted for the crime of homicide by reckless negligence and however, the legislature has large measure of discretion in prescribing the modes of criminal procedure. .
was sentenced to suffer one year and one day of prision correccional, and to pay the costs of the trial. . . (12 C.J., 1185, 1186. See Collins vs. Johnston, 237 U.S., 502; 35 s. Ct. Rep. 649; 59 L. ed., 1071; Shevlin-
Not agreeable with that sentence he now comes to this court alleging that the court below committed Carpenter Co. vs. Minnesota, 218 U.S., 57; 30 S. Ct. Rep., 663; 54 L. ed., 930; Lynn vs. Flancders, 141 Ga.,
four errors, to wit: 500; 81 S.E., 205.)
1. The trial court erred in not taking judicial notice of the fact that the appellant was being prosecuted in This power of the States of the North American Union was also granted to its territories such as the
conformity with Act No. 2886 of the Philippine Legislature and that the Act is unconstitutional and gave Philippines:
no jurisdiction in this case. The plenary legislative power which Congress possesses over the territories and possessions of the
2. The lower court erred in not dismissing the complaint after the presentation of the evidence in the United States may be exercised by that body itself, or, as is much more often the case, it may be
case, if not before, for the reason that said Act No. 2886 is unconstitutional and the proceedings had in delegated to a local agency, such as a legislature, the organization of which proceeds upon much the
the case under the provisions of the Act constitute a prosecution of appellant without due process of law. same lines as in the several States or in Congress, which is often taken as a model, and whose powers are
3. The court a quo erred in not finding that it lacked jurisdiction over the person of the accused and over limited by the Organic Act; but within the scope of such act is has complete authority to legislate, . . . and
the subject- matter of the complaint. in general, to legislate upon all subjects within the police power of the territory. (38 Cyc., 205-207.)
4. The trial court erred in finding the appellant guilty of the crime charged and in sentencing him to one The powers of the territorial legislatures are derived from Congress. By act of Congress their power
year and one day of prison correccional and to the payment of costs. extends "to all rightful subjects of legislation not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the
With regard to the questions of fact, we have to say that we have examined the record and find that the United States;" and this includes the power to define and punish crimes. (16 C. J., 62.)
conclusions of the trial judge, as contained in his well-written decision, are sufficiently sustained by the And in the exercise of such powers the military government of the army of occupation, functioning as a
evidence submitted. territorial legislature, thought it convenient to establish new rules of procedure in criminal matters, by
The accused was driving an automobile at the rate of 30 miles an hour on a highway 6 meter wide, the issuance of General Orders No. 58, the preamble of which reads:
notwithstanding the fact that he had to pass a narrow space between a wagon standing on one side of In the interests of justice, and to safeguard the civil liberties of the inhabitants of these Islands, the
the road and a heap of stones on the other side where the were two young boys, the appellant did not criminal code of procedure now in force therein is hereby amended in certain of its important provisions,
take the precaution required by the circumstances by slowing his machine, and did not proceed with the as indicated in the following enumerated sections. (Emphasis ours.)
vigilant care that under the circumstances an ordinary prudent man would take in order to avoid possible Its main purpose is, therefore, limited to criminal procedure and its intention is to give to its provisions
accidents that might occur, as unfortunately did occur, as his automobile ran over the boy Porfirio the effect of law in criminal matters. For that reason it provides in section 1 that:
Parondo who was instantly killed as the result of the accident. The following provisions shall have the force and effect of law in criminal matters in the Philippine Islands
These facts are so well established in the records that there cannot be a shade of doubt about them. from and after the 15th day of May, 1900, but existing laws on the same subjects shall remain valid
Coming now to the other assignments of error, it will be seen that they deal with the fundamental except in so far as hereinafter modified or repealed expressly or by necessary implication.
questions as to whether or not Act No. 2886, under which the complaint in the present case was filed, is From what has been said it clearly follows that the provisions of this General Order do not the nature of
valid and constitutional. constitutional law either by reason of its character or by reason of the authority that enacted it into law.
This Act is attacked on account of the amendments that it introduces in General Orders No. 58, the It cannot be said that it has acquired this character because this order was made its own by the Congress
defense arguing that the Philippine Legislature was, and is, not authorized to amend General Orders No. of the United States for, as a mater of fact, this body never adopted it as a law of its own creation either
58, as it did by amending section 2 thereof because its provisions have the character of constitutional before the promulgation of Act No. 2886, herein discussed, or, to our knowledge, to this date.
law. Said section 2 provides as follows: Since the provisions of this General Order have the character of statutory law, the power of the
All prosecutions for public offenses shall be in the name of the United States against the persons charged Legislature to amend it is self-evident, even if the question is considered only on principle. Our present
with the offenses. (G. O. No. 58, sec. 2 ). Legislature, which has enacted Act No. 2886, the subject of our inquiry, is the legal successor to the
Act No. 2886, which amends it, by virtue of which the People of the Philippine Island is made the plaintiff Military Government as a legislative body.
in this information, contains the following provisions in section 1: Since the advent of the American sovereignty in the Philippines the legislative branch of our government
SECTION 1. Section two of General Orders, Numbered Fifty-eight, series of nineteen hundred, is hereby has undergone transformations and has developed itself until it attained its present form. Firstly, it was
amended to read as follows: the Military Government of the army of occupation which, in accordance with international law and
"SEC. 2. All prosecutions for public offenses shall be in the name of the People of the Philippine Islands practice, was vested with legislative functions and in fact did legislate; afterwards, complying with the
against the persons charged with the offense." instructions of President McKinley which later were ratified by Congress (sec. 1 of the Act of July 1, 1902)
Let us examine the question. the legislative powers of the Military Government were transferred to the Philippine Commission; then,
For practical reasons, the procedure in criminal matters is not incorporated in the Constitutions of the under the provisions of section 7 of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, the Philippine Assembly was
States, but is left in the hand of the legislatures, so that it falls within the realm of public statutory law. created and it functioned as a colegislative body with the Philippine Commission. Finally, by virtue of the
As has been said by Chief Justice Marshall: provisions of sections 12 of the Act of Congress of August 29, 1916, known as the Jones Law, the

35
Philippine Commission gave way to the Philippine Senate, the Philippine Assembly became the House of Moon & Co. vs. Harrison, p. 27, ante.) The doctrine, laid down in these cases, acknowledges the
Representatives, and thus was formed the present Legislature composed of two Houses which has prerogative of personality in the Government of the Philippines, which, if it is sufficient to shield it from
enacted the aforesaid Act No. 2886. any responsibility in court in its own name unless it consents thereto, it should be also, as sufficiently
As a matter of fact, Act No. 2886 is not the first law that amends General Orders No. 58. The Philippine authoritative in law, to give that government the right to prosecute in court in its own name whomsoever
Commission, at various times, had amended it by the enactment of laws among which we may cite Act violates within its territory the penal laws in force therein.
No. 194, regarding preliminary investigation, Act No. 440 relating to counsels de oficio and Act No. 590 However, limiting ourselves to the question relative to the form of the complaint in criminal matters, it is
about preliminary investigations by justices of the peace of provincial capitals. Later on, and before the within the power of the Legislature to prescribe the form of the criminal complaint as long as the
enactment of Act No. 2886, herein controverted, the Legislature had also amended this General Orders constitutional provision of the accused to be informed of the nature of the accusation is not violated.
No. 58 by the enactment of Act No. 2677 regarding appeals to the Supreme Court of causes originating in Under the Constitution of the United States and by like provisions in the constitutions of the
the justice of the peace courts and by Act No. 2709 which deals with the exclusion of accused persons various states, the accused is entitled to be informed of the nature and cause of the
from the information in order to be utilized as state's witnesses. accusation against him . . .
These amendments repeatedly made by the Philippine Commission as well as by our present Legislature It is within the power of the legislatures under such a constitutional provision to prescribe the
are perfectly within the scope of the powers of the said legislative bodies as the successors of the form of the indictment or information, and such form may omit averments regarded as
Military Government that promulgated General Orders No. 58. necessary at common law. (22 Cyc., 285.)
No proof is required to demonstrate that the present Legislature had, and had, the power to enact and All these considerations a priori are strengthened a posteriori by the important reason disclosed by the
amend laws. (U.S. vs. Bull. 15 Phil., 7.) That it has the power to legislate on criminal matters is very following fact — that the Congress has tacitly approved Act No. 2886. Both the Act of Congress of July 1,
evident from the wording of section 7 of the Jones Law which says: 1902, section 86, and the Jones Law, last paragraph of section 19, provide that all the laws enacted by the
That the legislative authority herein provided shall have power, when not inconsistent with this Act, by Government of the Philippines or its Legislature shall be forwarded to the Congress of the United States,
due enactment to amend, alter, modify, or repeal any law, civil or criminal, continued in force by this Act which body reserves the right and power to annul them. And presuming, as legally we must, that the
as it may from time to time see fit. provisions of these laws have been complied with, it is undisputed that the Congress of the United States
It is urged the right to prosecute and punish crimes is an attributed of sovereignty. This assertion is right; did not annul any of those acts already adverted to — Nos. 194, 440, 490 (of the Philippine Commission),
but it is also true that by reason of the principle of territoriality as applied in the supression, of crimes, and 2677, 2709 and the one now in question No. 2886 (of the present Legislature) — all of which were
such power is delegated to subordinate government subdivisions such as territories. As we have seen in amendatory of General Orders No. 58. The Act now under discussion (No. 2886) took effect on February
the beginning, the territorial legislatures have the power to define and punish crimes, a power also 24, 1920, and the criminal complaint in this case was filed on May 10, 1920. The silence of Congress
possessed by the Philippine Legislature by virtue of the provisions of sections 7, already quoted, of the regarding those laws amendatory of the said General Order must be considered as an act of approval.
Jones Law. These territorial governments are local agencies of the Federal Government, wherein If Congress fails to notice or take action on any territorial legislation the reasonable inference
sovereignty resides; and when the territorial government of the Philippines prosecutes and punishes is that it approves such act. (26 R.C.L., 679; vide Clinton vs. Englebrcht, 13 Wall., 434; 20 [L.
public crimes it does so by virtue of the authority delegated to it by the supreme power of the Nation. ed.] 659; Tiaco vs. Forbes, 228 U.S., 549; 33 S. Ct. Rep., 585; 57 [L. ed.], 960; Nixon vs. Reid, 8
This delegation may be made either expressly as in the case of the several States of the Union and S.d., 507; 67 N.W., 57; 32 L.R.A., 315.)
incorporated territories like Porto Rico and Hawaii, or tacitly as is the case with the Philippines, which is Furthermore, supposing for the sake of argument, that the mention of the People of the Philippine
an organized territory though not incorporated with the Union. (Malcolm, Philippine Constitutional Law, Islands as plaintiff in the title of the information constitutes a vice or defect, the same is not fatal when,
181-205.) as in the present case, it was not objected to in the court below.
This tacit delegation to our Government needs no demonstration. As a matter of fact, the crimes An indictment must, in many states under express statutory or constitutional provision, show
committed within our territory, even before section 2 of General Orders No. 58 was amended, were by its title or by proper recitals in the caption or elsewhere that the prosecution is in the name
prosecuted and punished in this jurisdiction as is done at present; but then as now the repression of and by the authority of the state, the commonwealth, or the people of the state, according to
crimes was done, and is still done, under the sovereign authority of the United States, whose name the practice in the particular jurisdictions; but omissions or defects in this respect may be
appears as the heading in all pleadings in criminal causes and in other judicial papers and notarial acts. supplied or cured by other parts of the records, and the omissions of such a recital or defects
The use of such a heading is prescribed for civil cases in form 1 of section 784 of the Code of Civil therein, even when required by the constitution or by statute, is a defect of form within a
Procedure; in criminal causes the constant practice followed in this jurisdiction established its use; and in statute requiring exceptions for defect of form to be made before trial. (23 Cyc., 237, 238.)
notarial matters its use is provided by section 127 of Act No. 496. This long continued practice in criminal We hold that the provisions of sections 2 of General Orders No. 58, as amended by Act No. 2886, do not
matters and the legal provision relating to civil cases and notarial acts have not been amended by any partake of the same character as the provisions of a constitution; that the said Act No. 2886 is valid and is
law, much less by Act No. 2886, the subject of the present inquiry. not violative of any constitutional provisions and that the court a quo did not commit any of the errors
There is not a single constitutional provision applicable to the Philippines prescribing the name to be assigned.
used as party plaintiff in criminal cases. The sentence appealed from is hereby affirmed, the appellant being furthermore sentenced to the
The fact that the political status of this country is as yet undetermined and in a transitory stage, is, in our accessory penalties prescribed in article 61 of the Penal Code, and to indemnify the heirs of the deceased
opinion, responsible for the fact that there is no positive provision in our constitutional law regarding the in the sum of P1,000 and to the payment of the costs of both instances. So ordered.
use of the name of the People of the Philippine Islands, as party plaintiff, in criminal prosecutions, as is
otherwise the case in the respective constitutional charters of the States of the Union and incorporated
territories — a situation which must not be understood as depriving the Government of the Philippines
of its power, however delegated, to prosecute public crimes. The fact is undeniable that the present
government of the Philippines, created by the Congress of the United States, is autonomous.
This autonomy of the Government of the Philippines reaches all judicial actions, the case at bar being one
of them; as an example of such autonomy, this Government, the same as that of Hawaii and Porto Rico
(People of Porto Rico vs. Rosaly y Castillo [1913], 227 U.S., 270; 57 L. ed., 507; 33 Sup. Ct. Rep., 352)
cannot be sued without its consent. (Merritt vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, 34 Phil., 311; L. S.

36
Republic of the Philippines decision of the said criminal cause No. 787, United States vs. Antonio Rodrigo and Maximo Malicsi. An act
SUPREME COURT committed with violation of law.
Manila The case came to trial and on December 28, 1915, the court rendered judgment therein sentencing the
EN BANC defendant to the penalty of two years' imprisonment, to pay a fine of P100 and, in case of insolvency, to
G.R. No. L-11676 October 17, 1916 the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment, and to pay the costs. The defendant was also disqualified
THE UNITED STATES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. from thereafter holding any public office and from testifying in the courts of the Philippine Islands until
ANDRES PABLO, defendant-appellant. the said disqualification should be removed. From this judgment he appealed.
Alfonso E. Mendoza for appellant. Francisco Dato, on testifying as a witness, said that when the policemen Andres Pablo and Tomas de Leon
Attorney-General Avanceña for appellee. arrived at the place where the jueteng was being played, they found the defendant gamblers, Malicsi and
TORRES, J.: Rodrigo; that, prior to the hearing of the case in the justice of the peace court, Malicsi and Rodrigo
At about noon of the 21st of October, 1915, Andres Pablo, a policeman of the municipality of Balanga, ordered him to call Andres Pablo, who, together with witness, went to the house of Valentin Sioson,
went by order of his chief to the barrio of Tuyo to raid a jueteng game which, according to the where they held a conference; that witness pleaded guilty in the justice of the peace court, in fulfillment
information lodged, was being conducted in that place; but before the said officer arrived there the of his part of an agreement made between himself and his two coaccused, Malicsi and Rodrigo, who
players, perhaps advised of his approach by a spy, left and ran away; however, on his arrival at a vacant promised him that they would support his family during the time he might be a prisoner in jail; that
lot the defendant there found Francisco Dato and, at a short distance away, a low table. After a search of Andres Pablo did not know that they were gamblers, because he did not find them in the place where the
the premises he also found thereon a tambiolo (receptacle) and 37 bolas (balls). Notwithstanding that game was in progress, but that when witness was being taken to the municipal building by the policemen
the officer had seen the men Maximo Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo leave the said lot, yet, as at first he he told them who the gamblers were who had run away and whom Andres Pablo could have seen.
had seen no material proof that the game was being played, he refrained from arresting them, and on Maximo Malicsi corroborated the foregoing testimony and further stated that, on the arrival of the
leaving the place only arrested Francisco Daro, who had remained there. policemen who made the arrest and while they were looking for the tambiolo, he succeeded in escaping;
In reporting to his chief what had occurred, the policeman presented a memorandum containing the that Andres Pablo had known him for a long time and could have arrested him had he wished to do so;
following statement: "In the barrio of Tuyo I raided a jueteng na bilat game, seized a tambiolo and bolas, that prior to the hearing he and his codefendants, ROdrigo and Dato, did in fact meet in the house of
and saw the cabecillas Maximo MAlicsi and Antonio Rodrigo and the gambler Francisco Dato. I saw the Valentin Sioson, on which occasion they agreed that they would give the policemen Andres Pablo P20,
two cabecillas escape." provided witness and Rodrigo were excluded from the charge; and that only P15 was delivered to the
In consequence, chief of police Jose D. Reyes, on October 22, 1915, filed a complaint in the court of said Pablo, through Gregorio Ganzon. This statement was corroborated by the latter, though he said
justice of the peace charging the said Rodrigo, Malicsi, and Dato with having gambled at jueteng, in nothing about what amount of money he delivered to the policeman Pablo.
violation of municipal ordinance No. 5. As a result of this complaint the accused were arrested, but were The defendant Andres Pablo testified under oath that, on his being asked by the justice of the peace how
afterwards admitted to bail. he could have seen Maximo Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo, he replied that he did not see them at the place
At the hearing of the case Francisco Dato pleaded guilty. The other two accused, Maximo Malicsi and where the game was being conducted nor did he see them run away from there, for he only found the
Antonio Rodrigo, pleaded not guilty; therefore, during the trial the chief of police presented the table, the tambiolo, the bolas, and Francisco Dato; that he did not surprise the game because the players
memorandum exhibited by the policeman Andres Pablo, who testified under oath that on the date ran away before he arrived on the lot where, after fifteen minutes' search, he found only the tambiolo
mentioned he and Tomas de Leon went to the said barrio to raid a jueteng game, but that before they and the bolas; that on arriving at the place where the game was played, they found only Francisco Dato
arrived there they saw from afar that some persons started to run toward the hills; that when witness and some women in the Street, and as Dato had already gone away, witness' companion, the policeman
and his companion arrived at a vacant lot they saw Francisco Dato and a low table there, and the table Tomas de Leon, got on his bicycle and went after him; and that he found the tambiolo at a distance of
caused them to suspect that a jueteng game was being carried on; that in fact they did find on one side about 6 meters from a low table standing on the lot.
of the lot a tambiolo and 37 bolas, but that they did not see the accused Rodrigo and Malicsi on the said From the facts above related, it is concluded that the defendant Andres Pablo, who pleaded not guilty,
lot, nor did they see them run; and that only afterwards did the witness learn that these latter were the falsely testified under oath in the justice of the peace court of Balanga, Bataan, in saying he had not seen
cabecillas or ringleaders in the jueteng game, from information given him by an unknown person. In view the alleged gamblers Maximo Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo in the place where, according to the complaint
of this testimony by the police officer who made the arrest and of the other evidence adduced at the trial filed, the game of jueteng was being played and where the defendant and his companion, the policeman
the court acquitted the defendants Antonio Rodrigo and Maximo Malicsi and sentenced only Francisco Tomas de Leon, had found a table, tambiolo and bolas, used in the game of jueteng, while it was proved
Dato, as a gambler. at the trial that he did not them and did overtake them while they were still in the place where the game
Before the case came to trial in the justice of the peace court the policeman Andres Pablo had an was being played. But notwithstanding his having seen them there, upon testifying in the cause
interview and conference with the accused Malicsi and ROdrigo in the house of Valentin Sioson. On this prosecuted against these men and another for gambling, he stated that he had not seen them there,
occasion he was instructed not to testify against Malicsi and Rodrigo, and in fact received through knowing that he was not telling the truth and was false to the oath he had taken, and he did so willfully
Gregorio Ganzon the sum of P5. and deliberately on account of his agreement with the men, Malicsi and Rodrigo, and in consideration of
By reason of the foregoing and after making a preliminary investigation the provincial fiscal, on December a bribe of P15 which he had received in payment for his false testimony he afterwards gave.
1, 1915, filed an information in the Court of First Instance of Bataan charging Andres Pablo with the crime Francisco Dato and Gregorio Ganzon corroborated the assertion that the policeman Andres Pablo
of perjury, under the provisions of section 3 of Act No. 1697. The following is an extract from the undertook to exclude the gamblers, Malicsi and Rodrigo, from the charge and from his testimony in
complaint: consideration for P15 which he received through Gregorio Ganzon.
That on or about November 6, 1915, in the municipality of Balanga, Bataan, P.I., and within the Andres Pablo was charged with the crime of perjury and was afterwards convicted under Act No. 1697,
jurisdiction of this court, the said accused, Andres Pablo, during the hearing in the justice of the peace which (according to the principle laid down by this court in various decisions that are already well-settled
court of Balanga of the criminal cause No. 787, entitled the United States vs. Antonio Rodrigo and rules of law) repealed the provisions contained in articles 318 to 324 of the Penal Code relative to false
Maximo Malicsi, for violation of Municipal Ordinance No. 5 of the municipality of Balanga, did, willfully, testimony.
unlawfully and feloniously affirm and swear in legal form before the justice of the peace court as follow: By the second paragraph of the final section of the last article of the Administrative Code, or Act No.
`We did not there overtake the accused Antonio Rodrigo and Maximo Malicsi, nor did we even see them 2657, there was repealed, among the other statutes therein mentioned, the said Act No. 1697 relating to
run,' the said statement being utterly false, as the accused well knew that it was, and material to the

37
perjury, and the repealing clause of the said Administrative Code does not say under what other penal hold that, in the commission of the crime of false testimony, there concurred the aggravating
law in force the crime of false testimony, at least, if not that of perjury, shall be punished. circumstance of price or reward, No. 3 of article 10 of the Code, with no mitigating circumstance to offset
Under these circumstances, may the crime of perjury or of false testimony go unpunished, and is there the effects of the said aggravating one; wherefore the defendant has incurred the maximum period of
no penal sanction whatever in this country for this crime? May the truth be freely perverted in testimony the penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum degree to prision correccional in its medium degree, and a
given under oath and which, for the very reason that it may save a guilty person from punishment, may fine.
also result in the conviction and punishment of an innocent person? If all this is not possible and is not For the foregoing reasons, we hereby reverse the judgment appealed from and sentence Andres Pablo to
right before the law and good morals in a society of even mediocre culture, it must be acknowledged that the penalty of two years four months and one day of prision correccional, to pay a fine of 1,000 pesetas,
it is imperatively necessary to punish the crime of perjury or of false testimony — a crime which can and, in case of insolvency, to suffer the corresponding subsidiary imprisonment, which shall not exceed
produce incalculable and far-reaching harm to society and cause infinite disturbance of social order. one-third of the principal penalty. He shall also pay the costs of both instances. So ordered.
The right of prosecution and punishment for a crime is one of the attributes that by a natural law belongs
to the sovereign power instinctively charged by the common will of the members of society to look after,
guard and defend the interests of the community, the individual and social rights and the liberties of
every citizen and the guaranty of the exercise of his rights.
The power to punish evildoers has never been attacked or challenged, as the necessity for its existence
has been recognized even by the most backward peoples. At times the criticism has been made that
certain penalties are cruel, barbarous, and atrocious; at other, that they are light and inadequate to the
nature and gravity of the offense, but the imposition of punishment is admitted to be just by the whole
human race, and even barbarians and savages themselves, who are ignorant of all civilization, are no
exception.lawphil.net
Notwithstanding that the said Act No. 1697 (which, as interpreted by this court in its decisions, was
deemed to have repealed the aforementioned article of the Penal Code relating to false testimony,
comprised within the term of perjury) did not expressly repeal the said articles of the Penal Code; and as
the said final article of the Administrative Code, in totally repealing Act No. 1697, does not explicitly
provide that the mentioned articles of the Penal Code are also repealed, the will of the legislation not
being expressly and clearly stated with respect to the complete or partial repeal of the said articles of the
Penal Code, in the manner that it has totally repealed the said Act No. 1697 relating its perjury; and,
furthermore, as it is imperative that society punish those of its members who are guilty of perjury or
false testimony, and it cannot be conceived that these crimes should go unpunished or be freely
committed without punishment of any kind, it must be conceded that there must be in this country some
prior, preexistent law that punishes perjury or false testimony.
There certainly are laws which deal with perjury or false testimony, like Law 7 et seq. of Title 2, third
Partida.
However, since the Penal Code went into force, the crime of false testimony has been punished under the
said articles of the said Code, which as we have already said, have not been specifically repealed by the
said Act No. 1697, but since its enactment, have not been applied, by the mere interpretation given to
them by this court in its decisions; yet, from the moment that Act was repealed by the Administrative
Code, the needs of society have made it necessary that the said articles 318 to 324 should be deemed to
be in force, inasmuch as the Administrative Code, in repealing the said Act relating to perjury, has not
explicitly provided that the said articles of the Penal Code have likewise been repealed.
This manner of understanding and construing the statutes applicable to the crime of false testimony or
perjury is in harmony with the provision of Law 11, Title 2, Book 3, of the Novisima Recopilacion which
says::
All the laws of the kingdom, not expressly repealed by other subsequent laws, must be
literally obeyed and the excuse that they are not in use cannot avail; for the Catholic kings and
their successors so ordered in numerous laws, and so also have I ordered on different
occasions, and even though they were repealed, it is seen that they have been revived by the
decree which I issued in conformity with them although they were not expressly designated.
The council will be informed thereof and will take account of the importance of the matter.
It is, then, assumed that the said articles of the Penal Code are in force and are properly applicable to
crimes of false testimony. Therefore, in consideration of the fact that in the case at bar the evidence
shows it to have been duly proven that the defendant, Andres Pablo, in testifying in the cause prosecuted
for gambling at jueteng, perverted the truth, for the purpose of favoring the alleged gamblers, Maximo
Malicsi and Antonio Rodrigo, with the aggravating circumstance of the crime being committed through
bribery, for it was also proved that the defendant Pablo received P15 in order that he should make no
mention of the said two gamblers in his sworn testimony, whereby he knowingly perverted the truth, we

38
Republic of the Philippines of the arresting police officer, SPO1 JAY PLAZA with Annex "A" lucidly shows that there was a prior
SUPREME COURT surveillance conducted in view of the reports that vagrants and prostitutes proliferate in the place where
Manila the two accused (among other women) were wandering and in the wee hours of night and soliciting male
THIRD DIVISION customer. Thus, on that basis the prosecution should be given a leeway to prove its case. Thus, in the
G.R. No. 169364 September 18, 2009 interest of substantial justice, both prosecution and defense must be given their day in Court: the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, vs. prosecution proof of the crime, and the author thereof; the defense, to show that the acts of the accused
EVANGELINE SITON y SACIL and KRYSTEL KATE SAGARANO y MEFANIA, Respondents. in the indictment can’t be categorized as a crime.5
DECISION The municipal trial court also noted that in the affidavit of the arresting police officer, SPO1 Jay Plaza, it
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: was stated that there was a prior surveillance conducted on the two accused in an area reported to be
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or frequented by vagrants and prostitutes who solicited sexual favors. Hence, the prosecution should be
Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the given the opportunity to prove the crime, and the defense to rebut the evidence.1avvphi1
hosts of Heaven and Earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. Respondents thus filed an original petition for certiorari and prohibition with the Regional Trial Court of
– Martin Luther King, Jr. Davao City,6 directly challenging the constitutionality of the anti-vagrancy law, claiming that the definition
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari is the July 29, 2005 Order1 of Branch 11, Davao City of the crime of vagrancy under Article 202 (2), apart from being vague, results as well in an arbitrary
Regional Trial Court in Special Civil Case No. 30-500-2004 granting respondents’ Petition for Certiorari identification of violators, since the definition of the crime includes in its coverage persons who are
and declaring paragraph 2 of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code unconstitutional. otherwise performing ordinary peaceful acts. They likewise claimed that Article 202 (2) violated the equal
Respondents Evangeline Siton and Krystel Kate Sagarano were charged with vagrancy pursuant to Article protection clause under the Constitution because it discriminates against the poor and unemployed, thus
202 (2) of the Revised Penal Code in two separate Informations dated November 18, 2003, docketed as permitting an arbitrary and unreasonable classification.
Criminal Case Nos. 115,716-C-2003 and 115,717-C-2003 and raffled to Branch 3 of the Municipal Trial The State, through the Office of the Solicitor General, argued that pursuant to the Court’s ruling in
Court in Cities, Davao City. The Informations, read: Estrada v. Sandiganbayan,7 the overbreadth and vagueness doctrines apply only to free speech cases and
That on or about November 14, 2003, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this not to penal statutes. It also asserted that Article 202 (2) must be presumed valid and constitutional,
Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously wandered and since the respondents failed to overcome this presumption.
loitered around San Pedro and Legaspi Streets, this City, without any visible means to support herself nor On July 29, 2005, the Regional Trial Court issued the assailed Order granting the petition, the dispositive
lawful and justifiable purpose.2 portion of which reads:
Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code provides: WHEREFORE, PRESCINDING FROM THE FOREGOING, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED. Paragraph 2
Art. 202. Vagrants and prostitutes; penalty. — The following are vagrants: of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code is hereby declared unconstitutional and the Order of the court a
1. Any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who quo, dated April 28, 2004, denying the petitioners’ Motion to Quash is set aside and the said court is
neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling; ordered to dismiss the subject criminal cases against the petitioners pending before it.
2. Any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places or tramping or wandering SO ORDERED.8
about the country or the streets without visible means of support; In declaring Article 202 (2) unconstitutional, the trial court opined that the law is vague and it violated
3. Any idle or dissolute person who lodges in houses of ill fame; ruffians or pimps and those who the equal protection clause. It held that the "void for vagueness" doctrine is equally applicable in testing
habitually associate with prostitutes; the validity of penal statutes. Citing Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville,9 where an anti vagrancy
4. Any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found ordinance was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States, the trial court
loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable ruled:
purpose; The U.S. Supreme Court’s justifications for striking down the Jacksonville Vagrancy Ordinance are equally
5. Prostitutes. applicable to paragraph 2 of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code.
For the purposes of this article, women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse Indeed, to authorize a police officer to arrest a person for being "found loitering about public or semi-
or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes. public buildings or places or tramping or wandering about the country or the streets without visible
Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this articles shall be punished by arresto menor means of support" offers too wide a latitude for arbitrary determinations as to who should be arrested
or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period to and who should not.
prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the Loitering about and wandering have become national pastimes particularly in these times of recession
discretion of the court. when there are many who are "without visible means of support" not by reason of choice but by force of
Instead of submitting their counter-affidavits as directed, respondents filed separate Motions to Quash3 circumstance as borne out by the high unemployment rate in the entire country.
on the ground that Article 202 (2) is unconstitutional for being vague and overbroad. To authorize law enforcement authorities to arrest someone for nearly no other reason than the fact that
In an Order4 dated April 28, 2004, the municipal trial court denied the motions and directed respondents he cannot find gainful employment would indeed be adding insult to injury.10
anew to file their respective counter-affidavits. The municipal trial court also declared that the law on On its pronouncement that Article 202 (2) violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution, the
vagrancy was enacted pursuant to the State’s police power and justified by the Latin maxim "salus populi trial court declared:
est suprem(a) lex," which calls for the subordination of individual benefit to the interest of the greater The application of the Anti-Vagrancy Law, crafted in the 1930s, to our situation at present runs afoul of
number, thus: the equal protection clause of the constitution as it offers no reasonable classification between those
Our law on vagrancy was enacted pursuant to the police power of the State. An authority on police covered by the law and those who are not.
power, Professor Freund describes laconically police power "as the power of promoting public welfare by Class legislation is such legislation which denies rights to one which are accorded to others, or inflicts
restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property." (Citations omitted). In fact the person’s acts upon one individual a more severe penalty than is imposed upon another in like case offending.
and acquisitions are hemmed in by the police power of the state. The justification found in the Latin Applying this to the case at bar, since the definition of Vagrancy under Article 202 of the Revised Penal
maxim, salus populi est supreme (sic) lex" (the god of the people is the Supreme Law). This calls for the Code offers no guidelines or any other reasonable indicators to differentiate those who have no visible
subordination of individual benefit to the interests of the greater number.In the case at bar the affidavit

39
means of support by force of circumstance and those who choose to loiter about and bum around, who Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this article shall be punished by arresto menor
are the proper subjects of vagrancy legislation, it cannot pass a judicial scrutiny of its constitutionality.11 or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period to
Hence, this petition for review on certiorari raising the sole issue of: prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the
WHETHER THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR IN DECLARING discretion of the court.
UNCONSTITUTIONAL ARTICLE 202 (2) OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE12 In the instant case, the assailed provision is paragraph (2), which defines a vagrant as any person found
Petitioner argues that every statute is presumed valid and all reasonable doubts should be resolved in loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places, or tramping or wandering about the country or
favor of its constitutionality; that, citing Romualdez v. Sandiganbayan,13 the overbreadth and vagueness the streets without visible means of support. This provision was based on the second clause of Section 1
doctrines have special application to free-speech cases only and are not appropriate for testing the of Act No. 519 which defined "vagrant" as "every person found loitering about saloons or dramshops or
validity of penal statutes; that respondents failed to overcome the presumed validity of the statute, gambling houses, or tramping or straying through the country without visible means of support." The
failing to prove that it was vague under the standards set out by the Courts; and that the State may second clause was essentially retained with the modification that the places under which the offense
regulate individual conduct for the promotion of public welfare in the exercise of its police power. might be committed is now expressed in general terms – public or semi-public places.
On the other hand, respondents argue against the limited application of the overbreadth and vagueness The Regional Trial Court, in asserting the unconstitutionality of Article 202 (2), take support mainly from
doctrines. They insist that Article 202 (2) on its face violates the constitutionally-guaranteed rights to due the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in the Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville20 case, which in essence
process and the equal protection of the laws; that the due process vagueness standard, as distinguished declares:
from the free speech vagueness doctrine, is adequate to declare Article 202 (2) unconstitutional and void Living under a rule of law entails various suppositions, one of which is that "[all persons] are entitled to
on its face; and that the presumption of constitutionality was adequately overthrown. be informed as to what the State commands or forbids." Lanzetta v. New Jersey, 306 U. S. 451, 306 U. S.
The Court finds for petitioner. 453.
The power to define crimes and prescribe their corresponding penalties is legislative in nature and Lanzetta is one of a well recognized group of cases insisting that the law give fair notice of the offending
inherent in the sovereign power of the state to maintain social order as an aspect of police power. The conduct. See Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U. S. 385, 269 U. S. 391; Cline v. Frink Dairy Co.,
legislature may even forbid and penalize acts formerly considered innocent and lawful provided that no 274 U. S. 445; United States v. Cohen Grocery Co., 255 U. S. 81. In the field of regulatory statutes
constitutional rights have been abridged.14 However, in exercising its power to declare what acts governing business activities, where the acts limited are in a narrow category, greater leeway is allowed.
constitute a crime, the legislature must inform the citizen with reasonable precision what acts it intends Boyce Motor Lines, Inc. v. United States, 342 U. S. 337; United States v. National Dairy Products Corp., 372
to prohibit so that he may have a certain understandable rule of conduct and know what acts it is his U. S. 29; United States v. Petrillo, 332 U. S. 1.
duty to avoid.15 This requirement has come to be known as the void-for-vagueness doctrine which states The poor among us, the minorities, the average householder, are not in business and not alerted to the
that "a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of regulatory schemes of vagrancy laws; and we assume they would have no understanding of their
common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, violates the meaning and impact if they read them. Nor are they protected from being caught in the vagrancy net by
first essential of due process of law."16 the necessity of having a specific intent to commit an unlawful act. See Screws v. United States, 325 U. S.
In Spouses Romualdez v. COMELEC,17 the Court recognized the application of the void-for-vagueness 91; Boyce Motor Lines, Inc. v. United States, supra.
doctrine to criminal statutes in appropriate cases. The Court therein held: The Jacksonville ordinance makes criminal activities which, by modern standards, are normally innocent.
At the outset, we declare that under these terms, the opinions of the dissent which seek to bring to the "Nightwalking" is one. Florida construes the ordinance not to make criminal one night's wandering,
fore the purported ambiguities of a long list of provisions in Republic Act No. 8189 can be deemed as a Johnson v. State, 202 So.2d at 855, only the "habitual" wanderer or, as the ordinance describes it,
facial challenge. An appropriate "as applied" challenge in the instant Petition should be limited only to "common night walkers." We know, however, from experience that sleepless people often walk at night,
Section 45 (j) in relation to Sections 10 (g) and (j) of Republic Act No. 8189 – the provisions upon which perhaps hopeful that sleep-inducing relaxation will result.
petitioners are charged. An expanded examination of the law covering provisions which are alien to Luis Munoz-Marin, former Governor of Puerto Rico, commented once that "loafing" was a national virtue
petitioners’ case would be antagonistic to the rudiment that for judicial review to be exercised, there in his Commonwealth, and that it should be encouraged. It is, however, a crime in Jacksonville.
must be an existing case or controversy that is appropriate or ripe for determination, and not conjectural xxxx
or anticipatory.18 Persons "wandering or strolling" from place to place have been extolled by Walt Whitman and Vachel
The first statute punishing vagrancy – Act No. 519 – was modeled after American vagrancy statutes and Lindsay. The qualification "without any lawful purpose or object" may be a trap for innocent acts. Persons
passed by the Philippine Commission in 1902. The Penal Code of Spain of 1870 which was in force in this "neglecting all lawful business and habitually spending their time by frequenting . . . places where
country up to December 31, 1931 did not contain a provision on vagrancy.19 While historically an Anglo- alcoholic beverages are sold or served" would literally embrace many members of golf clubs and city
American concept of crime prevention, the law on vagrancy was included by the Philippine legislature as clubs.
a permanent feature of the Revised Penal Code in Article 202 thereof which, to repeat, provides: Walkers and strollers and wanderers may be going to or coming from a burglary. Loafers or loiterers may
ART. 202. Vagrants and prostitutes; penalty. – The following are vagrants: be "casing" a place for a holdup. Letting one's wife support him is an intra-family matter, and normally of
1. Any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who no concern to the police. Yet it may, of course, be the setting for numerous crimes.
neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling; The difficulty is that these activities are historically part of the amenities of life as we have known them.
2. Any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places, or tramping or wandering They are not mentioned in the Constitution or in the Bill of Rights. These unwritten amenities have been,
about the country or the streets without visible means of support; in part, responsible for giving our people the feeling of independence and self-confidence, the feeling of
3. Any idle or dissolute person who lodges in houses of ill-fame; ruffians or pimps and those who creativity. These amenities have dignified the right of dissent, and have honored the right to be
habitually associate with prostitutes; nonconformists and the right to defy submissiveness. They have encouraged lives of high spirits, rather
4. Any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found than hushed, suffocating silence.
loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable xxxx
purpose; Where the list of crimes is so all-inclusive and generalized as the one in this ordinance, those convicted
5. Prostitutes. may be punished for no more than vindicating affronts to police authority:
For the purposes of this article, women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse "The common ground which brings such a motley assortment of human troubles before the magistrates
or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes. in vagrancy-type proceedings is the procedural laxity which permits 'conviction' for almost any kind of

40
conduct and the existence of the House of Correction as an easy and convenient dumping-ground for produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.24
problems that appear to have no other immediate solution." Foote, Vagrancy-Type Law and Its Thus, as with any other act or offense, the requirement of probable cause provides an acceptable limit
Administration, 104 U.Pa.L.Rev. 603, 631. on police or executive authority that may otherwise be abused in relation to the search or arrest of
xxxx persons found to be violating Article 202 (2). The fear exhibited by the respondents, echoing Jacksonville,
Another aspect of the ordinance's vagueness appears when we focus not on the lack of notice given a that unfettered discretion is placed in the hands of the police to make an arrest or search, is therefore
potential offender, but on the effect of the unfettered discretion it places in the hands of the Jacksonville assuaged by the constitutional requirement of probable cause, which is one less than certainty or proof,
police. Caleb Foote, an early student of this subject, has called the vagrancy-type law as offering but more than suspicion or possibility.25
"punishment by analogy." Such crimes, though long common in Russia, are not compatible with our Evidently, the requirement of probable cause cannot be done away with arbitrarily without pain of
constitutional system. punishment, for, absent this requirement, the authorities are necessarily guilty of abuse. The grounds of
xxxx suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that
A presumption that people who might walk or loaf or loiter or stroll or frequent houses where liquor is the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is based on actual facts, i.e.,
sold, or who are supported by their wives or who look suspicious to the police are to become future supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the
criminals is too precarious for a rule of law. The implicit presumption in these generalized vagrancy person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled
standards -- that crime is being nipped in the bud -- is too extravagant to deserve extended treatment. Of with good faith of the peace officers making the arrest.26
course, vagrancy statutes are useful to the police. Of course, they are nets making easy the roundup of The State cannot in a cavalier fashion intrude into the persons of its citizens as well as into their houses,
so-called undesirables. But the rule of law implies equality and justice in its application. Vagrancy laws of papers and effects. The constitutional provision sheathes the private individual with an impenetrable
the Jacksonville type teach that the scales of justice are so tipped that even-handed administration of the armor against unreasonable searches and seizures. It protects the privacy and sanctity of the person
law is not possible. The rule of law, evenly applied to minorities as well as majorities, to the poor as well himself against unlawful arrests and other forms of restraint, and prevents him from being irreversibly
as the rich, is the great mucilage that holds society together.21 cut off from that domestic security which renders the lives of the most unhappy in some measure
The underlying principles in Papachristou are that: 1) the assailed Jacksonville ordinance "fails to give a agreeable.27
person of ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated conduct is forbidden by the statute;" and As applied to the instant case, it appears that the police authorities have been conducting previous
2) it encourages or promotes opportunities for the application of discriminatory law enforcement. surveillance operations on respondents prior to their arrest. On the surface, this satisfies the probable
The said underlying principle in Papachristou that the Jacksonville ordinance, or Article 202 (2) in this cause requirement under our Constitution. For this reason, we are not moved by respondents’
case, fails to give fair notice of what constitutes forbidden conduct, finds no application here because trepidation that Article 202 (2) could have been a source of police abuse in their case.
under our legal system, ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. 22 This principle Since the Revised Penal Code took effect in 1932, no challenge has ever been made upon the
is of Spanish origin, and we adopted it to govern and limit legal conduct in this jurisdiction. Under constitutionality of Article 202 except now. Instead, throughout the years, we have witnessed the streets
American law, ignorance of the law is merely a traditional rule that admits of exceptions. 23 and parks become dangerous and unsafe, a haven for beggars, harassing "watch-your-car" boys, petty
Moreover, the Jacksonville ordinance was declared unconstitutional on account of specific provisions thieves and robbers, pickpockets, swindlers, gangs, prostitutes, and individuals performing acts that go
thereof, which are not found in Article 202 (2). The ordinance (Jacksonville Ordinance Code § 257) beyond decency and morality, if not basic humanity. The streets and parks have become the training
provided, as follows: ground for petty offenders who graduate into hardened and battle-scarred criminals. Everyday, the news
Rogues and vagabonds, or dissolute persons who go about begging; common gamblers, persons who use is rife with reports of innocent and hardworking people being robbed, swindled, harassed or mauled – if
juggling or unlawful games or plays, common drunkards, common night walkers, thieves, pilferers or not killed – by the scourge of the streets. Blue collar workers are robbed straight from withdrawing hard-
pickpockets, traders in stolen property, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons, keepers of gambling places, earned money from the ATMs (automated teller machines); students are held up for having to use and
common railers and brawlers, persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any thus exhibit publicly their mobile phones; frail and helpless men are mauled by thrill-seeking gangs;
lawful purpose or object, habitual loafers, disorderly persons, persons neglecting all lawful business and innocent passers-by are stabbed to death by rowdy drunken men walking the streets; fair-looking or
habitually spending their time by frequenting houses of ill fame, gaming houses, or places where pretty women are stalked and harassed, if not abducted, raped and then killed; robbers, thieves,
alcoholic beverages are sold or served, persons able to work but habitually living upon the earnings of pickpockets and snatchers case streets and parks for possible victims; the old are swindled of their life
their wives or minor children shall be deemed vagrants and, upon conviction in the Municipal Court shall savings by conniving streetsmart bilkers and con artists on the prowl; beggars endlessly pester and
be punished as provided for Class D offenses. panhandle pedestrians and commuters, posing a health threat and putting law-abiding drivers and
Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court in Jacksonville declared the ordinance unconstitutional, because such citizens at risk of running them over. All these happen on the streets and in public places, day or night.
activities or habits as nightwalking, wandering or strolling around without any lawful purpose or object, The streets must be protected. Our people should never dread having to ply them each day, or else we
habitual loafing, habitual spending of time at places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served, and can never say that we have performed our task to our brothers and sisters. We must rid the streets of the
living upon the earnings of wives or minor children, which are otherwise common and normal, were scourge of humanity, and restore order, peace, civility, decency and morality in them.
declared illegal. But these are specific acts or activities not found in Article 202 (2). The closest to Article This is exactly why we have public order laws, to which Article 202 (2) belongs. These laws were crafted
202 (2) – "any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places, or tramping or to maintain minimum standards of decency, morality and civility in human society. These laws may be
wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support" – from the Jacksonville traced all the way back to ancient times, and today, they have also come to be associated with the
ordinance, would be "persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful struggle to improve the citizens’ quality of life, which is guaranteed by our Constitution.28 Civilly, they are
purpose or object." But these two acts are still not the same: Article 202 (2) is qualified by "without covered by the "abuse of rights" doctrine embodied in the preliminary articles of the Civil Code
visible means of support" while the Jacksonville ordinance prohibits wandering or strolling "without any concerning Human Relations, to the end, in part, that any person who willfully causes loss or injury to
lawful purpose or object," which was held by the U.S. Supreme Court to constitute a "trap for innocent another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter
acts." for the damage.29 This provision is, together with the succeeding articles on human relations, intended to
Under the Constitution, the people are guaranteed the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers embody certain basic principles "that are to be observed for the rightful relationship between human
and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose, and no beings and for the stability of the social order."30
search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally In civil law, for example, the summary remedy of ejectment is intended to prevent criminal disorder and
by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may breaches of the peace and to discourage those who, believing themselves entitled to the possession of

41
the property, resort to force rather than to some appropriate action in court to assert their claims. 31 Any No costs.
private person may abate a public nuisance which is specially injurious to him by removing, or if SO ORDERED.
necessary, by destroying the thing which constitutes the same, without committing a breach of the
peace, or doing unnecessary injury.32
Criminally, public order laws encompass a whole range of acts – from public indecencies and
immoralities, to public nuisances, to disorderly conduct. The acts punished are made illegal by their
offensiveness to society’s basic sensibilities and their adverse effect on the quality of life of the people of
society. For example, the issuance or making of a bouncing check is deemed a public nuisance, a crime
against public order that must be abated.33 As a matter of public policy, the failure to turn over the
proceeds of the sale of the goods covered by a trust receipt or to return said goods, if not sold, is a public
nuisance to be abated by the imposition of penal sanctions.34 Thus, public nuisances must be abated
because they have the effect of interfering with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property by
members of a community.
Article 202 (2) does not violate the equal protection clause; neither does it discriminate against the poor
and the unemployed. Offenders of public order laws are punished not for their status, as for being poor
or unemployed, but for conducting themselves under such circumstances as to endanger the public
peace or cause alarm and apprehension in the community. Being poor or unemployed is not a license or
a justification to act indecently or to engage in immoral conduct.
Vagrancy must not be so lightly treated as to be considered constitutionally offensive. It is a public order
crime which punishes persons for conducting themselves, at a certain place and time which orderly
society finds unusual, under such conditions that are repugnant and outrageous to the common
standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society, as would engender a
justifiable concern for the safety and well-being of members of the community.
Instead of taking an active position declaring public order laws unconstitutional, the State should train its
eye on their effective implementation, because it is in this area that the Court perceives difficulties. Red
light districts abound, gangs work the streets in the wee hours of the morning, dangerous robbers and
thieves ply their trade in the trains stations, drunken men terrorize law-abiding citizens late at night and
urinate on otherwise decent corners of our streets. Rugby-sniffing individuals crowd our national parks
and busy intersections. Prostitutes wait for customers by the roadside all around the metropolis, some
even venture in bars and restaurants. Drug-crazed men loiter around dark avenues waiting to pounce on
helpless citizens. Dangerous groups wander around, casing homes and establishments for their next hit.
The streets must be made safe once more. Though a man’s house is his castle, 35 outside on the streets,
the king is fair game.
The dangerous streets must surrender to orderly society.
Finally, we agree with the position of the State that first and foremost, Article 202 (2) should be
presumed valid and constitutional. When confronted with a constitutional question, it is elementary that
every court must approach it with grave care and considerable caution bearing in mind that every statute
is presumed valid and every reasonable doubt should be resolved in favor of its constitutionality.36 The
policy of our courts is to avoid ruling on constitutional questions and to presume that the acts of the
political departments are valid in the absence of a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary. To
doubt is to sustain, this presumption is based on the doctrine of separation of powers which enjoins
upon each department a becoming respect for the acts of the other departments. The theory is that as
the joint act of Congress and the President of the Philippines, a law has been carefully studied, crafted
and determined to be in accordance with the fundamental law before it was finally enacted.37
It must not be forgotten that police power is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. It has been defined as
the power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to make, ordain, and establish all manner of
wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes and ordinances, either with penalties or without, not
repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the commonwealth,
and for the subjects of the same. The power is plenary and its scope is vast and pervasive, reaching and
justifying measures for public health, public safety, public morals, and the general welfare. 38 As an
obvious police power measure, Article 202 (2) must therefore be viewed in a constitutional light.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of Branch 11 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao
City in Special Civil Case No. 30-500-2004 declaring Article 202, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code
UNCONSTITUTIONAL is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Let the proceedings in Criminal Cases Nos. 115,716-C-2003 and 115,717-C-2003 thus continue.

42
G.R. No. 148560 November 19, 2001 (6) By taking advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly
JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and
SANDIGANBAYAN (Third Division) and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. the Republic of the Philippines.
DECISION Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder, Penalties. - Any public officer who, by himself or in
BELLOSILLO, J.: connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates,
JOHN STUART MILL, in his essay On Liberty, unleashes the full fury of his pen in defense of the rights of subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a
the individual from the vast powers of the State and the inroads of societal pressure. But even as he combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof, in the aggregate
draws a sacrosanct line demarcating the limits on individuality beyond which the State cannot tread - amount or total value of at least fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of
asserting that "individual spontaneity" must be allowed to flourish with very little regard to social plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said
interference - he veritably acknowledges that the exercise of rights and liberties is imbued with a civic public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be
obligation, which society is justified in enforcing at all cost, against those who would endeavor to punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance
withhold fulfillment. Thus he says - of mitigating and extenuating circumstances as provided by the Revised Penal Code shall be considered
The sole end for which mankind is warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes
action of any of their number, is self-protection. The only purpose for which power can be rightfully and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof
exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. forfeited in favor of the State (underscoring supplied).
Parallel to individual liberty is the natural and illimitable right of the State to self-preservation. With the Section 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to
end of maintaining the integrity and cohesiveness of the body politic, it behooves the State to formulate prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to
a system of laws that would compel obeisance to its collective wisdom and inflict punishment for non- amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable
observance. doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy
The movement from Mill's individual liberalism to unsystematic collectivism wrought changes in the (underscoring supplied).
social order, carrying with it a new formulation of fundamental rights and duties more attuned to the On 4 April 2001 the Office of the Ombudsman filed before the Sandiganbayan eight (8) separate
imperatives of contemporary socio-political ideologies. In the process, the web of rights and State Informations, docketed as: (a) Crim. Case No. 26558, for violation of RA 7080, as amended by RA 7659;
impositions became tangled and obscured, enmeshed in threads of multiple shades and colors, the skein (b) Crim. Cases Nos. 26559 to 26562, inclusive, for violation of Secs. 3, par. (a), 3, par. (a), 3, par. (e) and 3,
irregular and broken. Antagonism, often outright collision, between the law as the expression of the will par. (e), of RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), respectively; (c) Crim. Case No. 26563, for
of the State, and the zealous attempts by its members to preserve their individuality and dignity, violation of Sec. 7, par. (d), of RA 6713 (The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
inevitably followed. It is when individual rights are pitted against State authority that judicial conscience Employees); (d) Crim. Case No. 26564, for Perjury (Art. 183 of The Revised Penal Code); and, (e) Crim.
is put to its severest test. Case No. 26565, for Illegal Use Of An Alias (CA No. 142, as amended by RA 6085).
Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the highest-ranking official to be prosecuted under RA 7080 (An Act On 11 April 2001 petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion for the remand of the case to the Ombudsman for
Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder),1 as amended by RA 7659,2 wishes to impress upon us that preliminary investigation with respect to specification "d" of the charges in the Information in Crim. Case
the assailed law is so defectively fashioned that it crosses that thin but distinct line which divides the No. 26558; and, for reconsideration/reinvestigation of the offenses under specifications "a," "b," and "c"
valid from the constitutionally infirm. He therefore makes a stringent call for this Court to subject the to give the accused an opportunity to file counter-affidavits and other documents necessary to prove lack
Plunder Law to the crucible of constitutionality mainly because, according to him, (a) it suffers from the of probable cause. Noticeably, the grounds raised were only lack of preliminary investigation,
vice of vagueness; (b) it dispenses with the "reasonable doubt" standard in criminal prosecutions; and, (c) reconsideration/reinvestigation of offenses, and opportunity to prove lack of probable cause. The
it abolishes the element of mens rea in crimes already punishable under The Revised Penal Code, all of purported ambiguity of the charges and the vagueness of the law under which they are charged were
which are purportedly clear violations of the fundamental rights of the accused to due process and to be never raised in that Omnibus Motion thus indicating the explicitness and comprehensibility of the
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. Plunder Law.
Specifically, the provisions of the Plunder Law claimed by petitioner to have transgressed constitutional On 25 April 2001 the Sandiganbayan, Third Division, issued a Resolution in Crim. Case No. 26558 finding
boundaries are Secs. 1, par. (d), 2 and 4 which are reproduced hereunder: that "a probable cause for the offense of PLUNDER exists to justify the issuance of warrants for the arrest
Section 1. x x x x (d) "Ill-gotten wealth" means any asset, property, business, enterprise or material of the accused." On 25 June 2001 petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied by the
possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or Sandiganbayan.
indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any On 14 June 2001 petitioner moved to quash the Information in Crim. Case No. 26558 on the ground that
combination or series of the following means or similar schemes: the facts alleged therein did not constitute an indictable offense since the law on which it was based was
(1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public unconstitutional for vagueness, and that the Amended Information for Plunder charged more than one
treasury; (1) offense. On 21 June 2001 the Government filed its Opposition to the Motion to Quash, and five (5)
(2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other days later or on 26 June 2001 petitioner submitted his Reply to the Opposition. On 9 July 2001 the
form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or Sandiganbayan denied petitioner's Motion to Quash.
project or by reason of the office or position of the public office concerned; As concisely delineated by this Court during the oral arguments on 18 September 2001, the issues for
(3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government resolution in the instant petition for certiorari are: (a) The Plunder Law is unconstitutional for being
or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities, or government owned or controlled corporations vague; (b) The Plunder Law requires less evidence for proving the predicate crimes of plunder and
and their subsidiaries; therefore violates the rights of the accused to due process; and, (c) Whether Plunder as defined in RA
(4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form 7080 is a malum prohibitum, and if so, whether it is within the power of Congress to so classify it.
of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business enterprise or Preliminarily, the whole gamut of legal concepts pertaining to the validity of legislation is predicated on
undertaking; the basic principle that a legislative measure is presumed to be in harmony with the Constitution.3
(5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or Courts invariably train their sights on this fundamental rule whenever a legislative act is under a
implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or constitutional attack, for it is the postulate of constitutional adjudication. This strong predilection for

43
constitutionality takes its bearings on the idea that it is forbidden for one branch of the government to "The undersigned Ombudsman, Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman, hereby
encroach upon the duties and powers of another. Thus it has been said that the presumption is based on accuses former PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, a.k.a.
the deference the judicial branch accords to its coordinate branch - the legislature. 'ASIONG SALONGA' and a.k.a. 'JOSE VELARDE,' together with Jose 'Jinggoy' Estrada, Charlie 'Atong' Ang,
If there is any reasonable basis upon which the legislation may firmly rest, the courts must assume that Edward Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan OR Eleuterio Ramos Tan
the legislature is ever conscious of the borders and edges of its plenary powers, and has passed the law or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John DOES & Jane Does, of the crime of Plunder, defined and
with full knowledge of the facts and for the purpose of promoting what is right and advancing the penalized under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows:
welfare of the majority. Hence in determining whether the acts of the legislature are in tune with the That during the period from June, 1998 to January 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
fundamental law, courts should proceed with judicial restraint and act with caution and forbearance. this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, THEN A PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE
Every intendment of the law must be adjudged by the courts in favor of its constitutionality, invalidity PHILIPPINES, by himself AND/OR in CONNIVANCE/CONSPIRACY with his co-accused, WHO ARE
being a measure of last resort. In construing therefore the provisions of a statute, courts must first MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY, RELATIVES BY AFFINITY OR CONSANGUINITY, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES,
ascertain whether an interpretation is fairly possible to sidestep the question of constitutionality. SUBORDINATES AND/OR OTHER PERSONS, BY TAKING UNDUE ADVANTAGE OF HIS OFFICIAL POSITION,
In La Union Credit Cooperative, Inc. v. Yaranon4 we held that as long as there is some basis for the AUTHORITY, RELATIONSHIP, CONNECTION, OR INFLUENCE, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
decision of the court, the constitutionality of the challenged law will not be touched and the case will be criminally amass, accumulate and acquire BY HIMSELF, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ill-gotten wealth in the
decided on other available grounds. Yet the force of the presumption is not sufficient to catapult a aggregate amount or TOTAL VALUE of FOUR BILLION NINETY SEVEN MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FOUR
fundamentally deficient law into the safe environs of constitutionality. Of course, where the law clearly THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (₱4,097,804,173.17),
and palpably transgresses the hallowed domain of the organic law, it must be struck down on sight lest more or less, THEREBY UNJUSTLY ENRICHING HIMSELF OR THEMSELVES AT THE EXPENSE AND TO THE
the positive commands of the fundamental law be unduly eroded. DAMAGE OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, through ANY OR A
Verily, the onerous task of rebutting the presumption weighs heavily on the party challenging the validity combination OR A series of overt OR criminal acts, OR SIMILAR SCHEMES OR MEANS, described as
of the statute. He must demonstrate beyond any tinge of doubt that there is indeed an infringement of follows:
the constitution, for absent such a showing, there can be no finding of unconstitutionality. A doubt, even (a) by receiving OR collecting, directly or indirectly, on SEVERAL INSTANCES, MONEY IN THE AGGREGATE
if well-founded, will hardly suffice. As tersely put by Justice Malcolm, "To doubt is to sustain."5 And AMOUNT OF FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (₱545,000,000.00), MORE OR LESS, FROM
petitioner has miserably failed in the instant case to discharge his burden and overcome the presumption ILLEGAL GAMBLING IN THE FORM OF GIFT, SHARE, PERCENTAGE, KICKBACK OR ANY FORM OF
of constitutionality of the Plunder Law. PECUNIARY BENEFIT, BY HIMSELF AND/OR in connection with co-accused CHARLIE 'ATONG' ANG, Jose
As it is written, the Plunder Law contains ascertainable standards and well-defined parameters which 'Jinggoy' Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, AND JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in
would enable the accused to determine the nature of his violation. Section 2 is sufficiently explicit in its consideration OF TOLERATION OR PROTECTION OF ILLEGAL GAMBLING;
description of the acts, conduct and conditions required or forbidden, and prescribes the elements of the (b) by DIVERTING, RECEIVING, misappropriating, converting OR misusing DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, for
crime with reasonable certainty and particularity. Thus - HIS OR THEIR PERSONAL gain and benefit, public funds in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION
1. That the offender is a public officer who acts by himself or in connivance with members of his family, PESOS (₱130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a portion of the TWO HUNDRED MILLION PESOS
relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons; (₱200,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the province of Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171,
2. That he amassed, accumulated or acquired ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of the by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie 'Atong' Ang, Alma Alfaro, JOHN DOE a.k.a.
following overt or criminal acts: (a) through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, AND OTHER JOHN DOES & JANE DOES; (italic
public funds or raids on the public treasury; (b) by receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, supplied).
share, percentage, kickback or any other form of pecuniary benefits from any person and/or entity in (c) by directing, ordering and compelling, FOR HIS PERSONAL GAIN AND BENEFIT, the Government
connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public Service Insurance System (GSIS) TO PURCHASE 351,878,000 SHARES OF STOCKS, MORE OR LESS, and the
officer; (c) by the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 SHARES OF STOCK, MORE OR LESS, OF THE BELLE
Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities of Government owned or controlled CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION ONE HUNDRED TWO MILLION NINE
corporations or their subsidiaries; (d) by obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS
of stock, equity or any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment (₱1,102,965,607.50) AND MORE OR LESS SEVEN HUNDRED FORTY FOUR MILLION SIX HUNDRED
in any business enterprise or undertaking; (e) by establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial TWELVE THOUSAND AND FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY PESOS (₱744,612,450.00), RESPECTIVELY, OR A TOTAL
monopolies or other combinations and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit OF MORE OR LESS ONE BILLION EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY SEVEN MILLION FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY
particular persons or special interests; or (f) by taking advantage of official position, authority, EIGHT THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS AND FIFTY CENTAVOS (₱1,847,578,057.50); AND BY COLLECTING
relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the OR RECEIVING, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, BY HIMSELF AND/OR IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND
damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines; and, JANE DOES, COMMISSIONS OR PERCENTAGES BY REASON OF SAID PURCHASES OF SHARES OF STOCK IN
3. That the aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth amassed, accumulated or acquired is THE AMOUNT OF ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS
at least ₱50,000,000.00. (₱189,700,000.00) MORE OR LESS, FROM THE BELLE CORPORATION WHICH BECAME PART OF THE
As long as the law affords some comprehensible guide or rule that would inform those who are subject to DEPOSIT IN THE EQUITABLE-PCI BANK UNDER THE ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE VELARDE;'
it what conduct would render them liable to its penalties, its validity will be sustained. It must sufficiently (d) by unjustly enriching himself FROM COMMISSIONS, GIFTS, SHARES, PERCENTAGES, KICKBACKS, OR
guide the judge in its application; the counsel, in defending one charged with its violation; and more ANY FORM OF PECUNIARY BENEFITS, IN CONNIVANCE WITH JOHN DOES AND JANE DOES, in the
importantly, the accused, in identifying the realm of the proscribed conduct. Indeed, it can be amount of MORE OR LESS THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION ONE HUNDRED FOUR
understood with little difficulty that what the assailed statute punishes is the act of a public officer in THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS (₱3,233,104,173.17)
amassing or accumulating ill-gotten wealth of at least ₱50,000,000.00 through a series or combination of AND DEPOSITING THE SAME UNDER HIS ACCOUNT NAME 'JOSE VELARDE' AT THE EQUITABLE-PCI
acts enumerated in Sec. 1, par. (d), of the Plunder Law. BANK."
In fact, the amended Information itself closely tracks the language of the law, indicating with reasonable We discern nothing in the foregoing that is vague or ambiguous - as there is obviously none - that will
certainty the various elements of the offense which petitioner is alleged to have committed: confuse petitioner in his defense. Although subject to proof, these factual assertions clearly show that
the elements of the crime are easily understood and provide adequate contrast between the innocent

44
and the prohibited acts. Upon such unequivocal assertions, petitioner is completely informed of the REP. GARCIA: Yes, this distinguishes it really from ordinary crimes. That is why, I said, that is a very good
accusations against him as to enable him to prepare for an intelligent defense. suggestion because if it is only one act, it may fall under ordinary crime but we have here a combination
Petitioner, however, bewails the failure of the law to provide for the statutory definition of the terms or series of overt or criminal acts. So x x x x
"combination" and "series" in the key phrase "a combination or series of overt or criminal acts" found in REP. GARCIA: Series. One after the other eh di....
Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2, and the word "pattern" in Sec. 4. These omissions, according to petitioner, SEN. TANADA: So that would fall under the term "series?"
render the Plunder Law unconstitutional for being impermissibly vague and overbroad and deny him the REP. GARCIA: Series, oo.
right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him, hence, violative of his REP. ISIDRO: Now, if it is a combination, ano, two misappropriations....
fundamental right to due process. REP. GARCIA: Its not... Two misappropriations will not be combination. Series.
The rationalization seems to us to be pure sophistry. A statute is not rendered uncertain and void merely REP. ISIDRO: So, it is not a combination?
because general terms are used therein, or because of the employment of terms without defining them;6 REP. GARCIA: Yes.
much less do we have to define every word we use. Besides, there is no positive constitutional or REP. ISIDRO: When you say combination, two different?
statutory command requiring the legislature to define each and every word in an enactment. Congress is REP. GARCIA: Yes.
not restricted in the form of expression of its will, and its inability to so define the words employed in a SEN. TANADA: Two different.
statute will not necessarily result in the vagueness or ambiguity of the law so long as the legislative will is REP. ISIDRO: Two different acts.
clear, or at least, can be gathered from the whole act, which is distinctly expressed in the Plunder Law. REP. GARCIA: For example, ha...
Moreover, it is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be interpreted in REP. ISIDRO: Now a series, meaning, repetition...
their natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification,7 unless it is evident that the legislature DELIBERATIONS ON SENATE BILL NO. 733, 6 June 1989
intended a technical or special legal meaning to those words.8 The intention of the lawmakers - who are, SENATOR MACEDA: In line with our interpellations that sometimes "one" or maybe even "two" acts may
ordinarily, untrained philologists and lexicographers - to use statutory phraseology in such a manner is already result in such a big amount, on line 25, would the Sponsor consider deleting the words "a series
always presumed. Thus, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary contains the following commonly accepted of overt or," to read, therefore: "or conspiracy COMMITTED by criminal acts such as." Remove the idea of
definition of the words "combination" and "series:" necessitating "a series." Anyway, the criminal acts are in the plural.
Combination - the result or product of combining; the act or process of combining. To combine is to bring SENATOR TANADA: That would mean a combination of two or more of the acts mentioned in this.
into such close relationship as to obscure individual characters. THE PRESIDENT: Probably two or more would be....
Series - a number of things or events of the same class coming one after another in spatial and temporal SENATOR MACEDA: Yes, because "a series" implies several or many; two or more.
succession. SENATOR TANADA: Accepted, Mr. President x x x x
That Congress intended the words "combination" and "series" to be understood in their popular THE PRESIDENT: If there is only one, then he has to be prosecuted under the particular crime. But when
meanings is pristinely evident from the legislative deliberations on the bill which eventually became RA we say "acts of plunder" there should be, at least, two or more.
7080 or the Plunder Law: SENATOR ROMULO: In other words, that is already covered by existing laws, Mr. President.
DELIBERATIONS OF THE BICAMERAL COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE, 7 May 1991 Thus when the Plunder Law speaks of "combination," it is referring to at least two (2) acts falling under
REP. ISIDRO: I am just intrigued again by our definition of plunder. We say THROUGH A COMBINATION OR different categories of enumeration provided in Sec. 1, par. (d), e.g., raids on the public treasury in Sec. 1,
SERIES OF OVERT OR CRIMINAL ACTS AS MENTIONED IN SECTION ONE HEREOF. Now when we say par. (d), subpar. (1), and fraudulent conveyance of assets belonging to the National Government under
combination, we actually mean to say, if there are two or more means, we mean to say that number one Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (3).
and two or number one and something else are included, how about a series of the same act? For On the other hand, to constitute a series" there must be two (2) or more overt or criminal acts falling
example, through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, will these be included also? under the same category of enumeration found in Sec. 1, par. (d), say, misappropriation, malversation
REP. GARCIA: Yeah, because we say a series. and raids on the public treasury, all of which fall under Sec. 1, par. (d), subpar. (1). Verily, had the
REP. ISIDRO: Series. legislature intended a technical or distinctive meaning for "combination" and "series," it would have
REP. GARCIA: Yeah, we include series. taken greater pains in specifically providing for it in the law.
REP. ISIDRO: But we say we begin with a combination. As for "pattern," we agree with the observations of the Sandiganbayan9 that this term is sufficiently
REP. GARCIA: Yes. defined in Sec. 4, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and Sec. 2 -
REP. ISIDRO: When we say combination, it seems that - x x x x under Sec. 1 (d) of the law, a 'pattern' consists of at least a combination or series of overt or
REP. GARCIA: Two. criminal acts enumerated in subsections (1) to (6) of Sec. 1 (d). Secondly, pursuant to Sec. 2 of the law, the
REP. ISIDRO: Not only two but we seem to mean that two of the enumerated means not twice of one pattern of overt or criminal acts is directed towards a common purpose or goal which is to enable the
enumeration. public officer to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. And thirdly, there must either be an
REP. GARCIA: No, no, not twice. 'overall unlawful scheme' or 'conspiracy' to achieve said common goal. As commonly understood, the
REP. ISIDRO: Not twice? term 'overall unlawful scheme' indicates a 'general plan of action or method' which the principal accused
REP. GARCIA: Yes. Combination is not twice - but combination, two acts. and public officer and others conniving with him follow to achieve the aforesaid common goal. In the
REP. ISIDRO: So in other words, that’s it. When we say combination, we mean, two different acts. It alternative, if there is no such overall scheme or where the schemes or methods used by multiple accused
cannot be a repetition of the same act. vary, the overt or criminal acts must form part of a conspiracy to attain a common goal.
REP. GARCIA: That be referred to series, yeah. Hence, it cannot plausibly be contended that the law does not give a fair warning and sufficient notice of
REP. ISIDRO: No, no. Supposing one act is repeated, so there are two. what it seeks to penalize. Under the circumstances, petitioner's reliance on the "void-for-vagueness"
REP. GARCIA: A series. doctrine is manifestly misplaced. The doctrine has been formulated in various ways, but is most
REP. ISIDRO: That’s not series. Its a combination. Because when we say combination or series, we seem to commonly stated to the effect that a statute establishing a criminal offense must define the offense with
say that two or more, di ba? sufficient definiteness that persons of ordinary intelligence can understand what conduct is prohibited by
the statute. It can only be invoked against that specie of legislation that is utterly vague on its face, i.e.,
that which cannot be clarified either by a saving clause or by construction.

45
A statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of common Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is involved is a criminal statute. With
intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application. In such instance, the respect to such statute, the established rule is that "one to whom application of a statute is constitutional
statute is repugnant to the Constitution in two (2) respects - it violates due process for failure to accord will not be heard to attack the statute on the ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to
persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of what conduct to avoid; and, it leaves law other persons or other situations in which its application might be unconstitutional."20 As has been
enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the pointed out, "vagueness challenges in the First Amendment context, like overbreadth challenges typically
Government muscle.10 But the doctrine does not apply as against legislations that are merely couched in produce facial invalidation, while statutes found vague as a matter of due process typically are invalidated
imprecise language but which nonetheless specify a standard though defectively phrased; or to those [only] 'as applied' to a particular defendant."21 Consequently, there is no basis for petitioner's claim that
that are apparently ambiguous yet fairly applicable to certain types of activities. The first may be "saved" this Court review the Anti-Plunder Law on its face and in its entirety.
by proper construction, while no challenge may be mounted as against the second whenever directed Indeed, "on its face" invalidation of statutes results in striking them down entirely on the ground that
against such activities.11 With more reason, the doctrine cannot be invoked where the assailed statute is they might be applied to parties not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally protected.22 It
clear and free from ambiguity, as in this case. constitutes a departure from the case and controversy requirement of the Constitution and permits
The test in determining whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is whether the language decisions to be made without concrete factual settings and in sterile abstract contexts.23 But, as the U.S.
conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by common Supreme Court pointed out in Younger v. Harris24
understanding and practice.12 It must be stressed, however, that the "vagueness" doctrine merely [T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction of these
requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld - not absolute precision or deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for the judiciary. The
mathematical exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest. Flexibility, rather than meticulous specificity, is combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the legislative process of the
permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the statute are clearly delineated. An act will not be held relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of the required line-by-line analysis of
invalid merely because it might have been more explicit in its wordings or detailed in its provisions, detailed statutes, . . . ordinarily results in a kind of case that is wholly unsatisfactory for deciding
especially where, because of the nature of the act, it would be impossible to provide all the details in constitutional questions, whichever way they might be decided.
advance as in all other statutes. For these reasons, "on its face" invalidation of statutes has been described as "manifestly strong
Moreover, we agree with, hence we adopt, the observations of Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza during the medicine," to be employed "sparingly and only as a last resort,"25 and is generally disfavored.26 In
deliberations of the Court that the allegations that the Plunder Law is vague and overbroad do not justify determining the constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions which are alleged to have been
a facial review of its validity - violated in a case must be examined in the light of the conduct with which the defendant is charged.27
The void-for-vagueness doctrine states that "a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act In light of the foregoing disquisition, it is evident that the purported ambiguity of the Plunder Law, so
in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to tenaciously claimed and argued at length by petitioner, is more imagined than real. Ambiguity, where
its application, violates the first essential of due process of law."13 The overbreadth doctrine, on the none exists, cannot be created by dissecting parts and words in the statute to furnish support to critics
other hand, decrees that "a governmental purpose may not be achieved by means which sweep who cavil at the want of scientific precision in the law. Every provision of the law should be construed in
unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms."14 relation and with reference to every other part. To be sure, it will take more than nitpicking to overturn
A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because of the well-entrenched presumption of constitutionality and validity of the Plunder Law. A fortiori,
possible "chilling effect" upon protected speech. The theory is that "[w]hen statutes regulate or proscribe petitioner cannot feign ignorance of what the Plunder Law is all about. Being one of the Senators who
speech and no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating the statutes in a voted for its passage, petitioner must be aware that the law was extensively deliberated upon by the
single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected expression is Senate and its appropriate committees by reason of which he even registered his affirmative vote with
deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that the person making full knowledge of its legal implications and sound constitutional anchorage.
the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with narrow The parallel case of Gallego v. Sandiganbayan28 must be mentioned if only to illustrate and emphasize
specificity."15 The possible harm to society in permitting some unprotected speech to go unpunished is the point that courts are loathed to declare a statute void for uncertainty unless the law itself is so
outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of others may be deterred and perceived imperfect and deficient in its details, and is susceptible of no reasonable construction that will support
grievances left to fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes. and give it effect. In that case, petitioners Gallego and Agoncillo challenged the constitutionality of Sec. 3,
This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect resulting par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for being vague. Petitioners posited, among others,
from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State may well be that the term "unwarranted" is highly imprecise and elastic with no common law meaning or settled
prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal law, the law definition by prior judicial or administrative precedents; that, for its vagueness, Sec. 3, par. (e), violates
cannot take chances as in the area of free speech. due process in that it does not give fair warning or sufficient notice of what it seeks to penalize.
The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech cases. They Petitioners further argued that the Information charged them with three (3) distinct offenses, to wit: (a)
are inapt for testing the validity of penal statutes. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it, in an opinion by Chief giving of "unwarranted" benefits through manifest partiality; (b) giving of "unwarranted" benefits
Justice Rehnquist, "we have not recognized an 'overbreadth' doctrine outside the limited context of the through evident bad faith; and, (c) giving of "unwarranted" benefits through gross inexcusable negligence
First Amendment."16 In Broadrick v. Oklahoma,17 the Court ruled that "claims of facial overbreadth have while in the discharge of their official function and that their right to be informed of the nature and cause
been entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only spoken words" of the accusation against them was violated because they were left to guess which of the three (3)
and, again, that "overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against offenses, if not all, they were being charged and prosecuted.
ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected conduct." For this reason, it has been In dismissing the petition, this Court held that Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act
held that "a facial challenge to a legislative act is the most difficult challenge to mount successfully, since does not suffer from the constitutional defect of vagueness. The phrases "manifest partiality," "evident
the challenger must establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the Act would be valid."18 bad faith," and "gross and inexcusable negligence" merely describe the different modes by which the
As for the vagueness doctrine, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it is vague offense penalized in Sec. 3, par. (e), of the statute may be committed, and the use of all these phrases in
in all its possible applications. "A plaintiff who engages in some conduct that is clearly proscribed cannot the same Information does not mean that the indictment charges three (3) distinct offenses.
complain of the vagueness of the law as applied to the conduct of others."19 The word 'unwarranted' is not uncertain. It seems lacking adequate or official support; unjustified;
In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools developed for unauthorized (Webster, Third International Dictionary, p. 2514); or without justification or adequate
testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in American law, First

46
reason (Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. US Dept. of Justice, C.D. Pa., 405 F. Supp. 8, 12, cited in Words under this bill through the interpretation on the rule of evidence, it is just one single act, so how can we
and Phrases, Permanent Edition, Vol. 43-A 1978, Cumulative Annual Pocket Part, p. 19). now convict him?
The assailed provisions of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act consider a corrupt practice and make MR. GARCIA: With due respect, Mr. Speaker, for purposes of proving an essential element of the crime,
unlawful the act of the public officer in: there is a need to prove that element beyond reasonable doubt. For example, one essential element of
x x x or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his the crime is that the amount involved is ₱100 million. Now, in a series of defalcations and other acts of
official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross corruption in the enumeration the total amount would be ₱110 or ₱120 million, but there are certain acts
inexcusable negligence, x x x (Section 3 [e], Rep. Act 3019, as amended). that could not be proved, so, we will sum up the amounts involved in those transactions which were
It is not at all difficult to comprehend that what the aforequoted penal provisions penalize is the act of a proved. Now, if the amount involved in these transactions, proved beyond reasonable doubt, is ₱100
public officer, in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions, in giving any private million, then there is a crime of plunder (underscoring supplied).
party benefits, advantage or preference which is unjustified, unauthorized or without justification or It is thus plain from the foregoing that the legislature did not in any manner refashion the standard
adequate reason, through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. quantum of proof in the crime of plunder. The burden still remains with the prosecution to prove beyond
In other words, this Court found that there was nothing vague or ambiguous in the use of the term any iota of doubt every fact or element necessary to constitute the crime.
"unwarranted" in Sec. 3, par. (e), of The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which was understood in its The thesis that Sec. 4 does away with proof of each and every component of the crime suffers from a
primary and general acceptation. Consequently, in that case, petitioners' objection thereto was held dismal misconception of the import of that provision. What the prosecution needs to prove beyond
inadequate to declare the section unconstitutional. reasonable doubt is only a number of acts sufficient to form a combination or series which would
On the second issue, petitioner advances the highly stretched theory that Sec. 4 of the Plunder Law constitute a pattern and involving an amount of at least ₱50,000,000.00. There is no need to prove each
circumvents the immutable obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the and every other act alleged in the Information to have been committed by the accused in furtherance of
predicate acts constituting the crime of plunder when it requires only proof of a pattern of overt or the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. To illustrate,
criminal acts showing unlawful scheme or conspiracy - supposing that the accused is charged in an Information for plunder with having committed fifty (50)
SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to raids on the public treasury. The prosecution need not prove all these fifty (50) raids, it being sufficient to
prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to prove by pattern at least two (2) of the raids beyond reasonable doubt provided only that they amounted
amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a to at least ₱50,000,000.00.31
pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. A reading of Sec. 2 in conjunction with Sec. 4, brings us to the logical conclusion that "pattern of overt or
The running fault in this reasoning is obvious even to the simplistic mind. In a criminal prosecution for criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy" inheres in the very acts of
plunder, as in all other crimes, the accused always has in his favor the presumption of innocence which is accumulating, acquiring or amassing hidden wealth. Stated otherwise, such pattern arises where the
guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and unless the State succeeds in demonstrating by proof beyond prosecution is able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the predicate acts as defined in Sec. 1, par. (d).
reasonable doubt that culpability lies, the accused is entitled to an acquittal.29 The use of the Pattern is merely a by-product of the proof of the predicate acts. This conclusion is consistent with reason
"reasonable doubt" standard is indispensable to command the respect and confidence of the community and common sense. There would be no other explanation for a combination or series of
in the application of criminal law. It is critical that the moral force of criminal law be not diluted by a overt or criminal acts to stash ₱50,000,000.00 or more, than "a scheme or conspiracy to amass,
standard of proof that leaves people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned. It is also accumulate or acquire ill gotten wealth." The prosecution is therefore not required to make a deliberate
important in our free society that every individual going about his ordinary affairs has confidence that his and conscious effort to prove pattern as it necessarily follows with the establishment of a series or
government cannot adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without convincing a proper factfinder of his combination of the predicate acts.
guilt with utmost certainty. This "reasonable doubt" standard has acquired such exalted stature in the Relative to petitioner's contentions on the purported defect of Sec. 4 is his submission that "pattern" is "a
realm of constitutional law as it gives life to the Due Process Clause which protects the accused against very important element of the crime of plunder;" and that Sec. 4 is "two pronged, (as) it contains a rule
conviction except upon proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime of evidence and a substantive element of the crime," such that without it the accused cannot be
with which he is charged.30 The following exchanges between Rep. Rodolfo Albano and Rep. Pablo convicted of plunder -
Garcia on this score during the deliberations in the floor of the House of Representatives are elucidating JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, cannot an accused be convicted under the Plunder Law without
DELIBERATIONS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ON RA 7080, 9 October 1990 applying Section 4 on the Rule of Evidence if there is proof beyond reasonable doubt of the commission of
MR. ALBANO: Now, Mr. Speaker, it is also elementary in our criminal law that what is alleged in the the acts complained of?
information must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. If we will prove only one act and find him guilty of ATTY. AGABIN: In that case he can be convicted of individual crimes enumerated in the Revised Penal
the other acts enumerated in the information, does that not work against the right of the accused Code, but not plunder.
especially so if the amount committed, say, by falsification is less than ₱100 million, but the totality of the JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: In other words, if all the elements of the crime are proved beyond reasonable doubt
crime committed is ₱100 million since there is malversation, bribery, falsification of public document, without applying Section 4, can you not have a conviction under the Plunder Law?
coercion, theft? ATTY. AGABIN: Not a conviction for plunder, your Honor.
MR. GARCIA: Mr. Speaker, not everything alleged in the information needs to be proved beyond JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: Can you not disregard the application of Sec. 4 in convicting an accused charged for
reasonable doubt. What is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is every element of the crime violation of the Plunder Law?
charged. For example, Mr. Speaker, there is an enumeration of the things taken by the robber in the ATTY. AGABIN: Well, your Honor, in the first place Section 4 lays down a substantive element of the law x x
information – three pairs of pants, pieces of jewelry. These need not be proved beyond reasonable doubt, xx
but these will not prevent the conviction of a crime for which he was charged just because, say, instead of JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: What I said is - do we have to avail of Section 4 when there is proof beyond
3 pairs of diamond earrings the prosecution proved two. Now, what is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt on the acts charged constituting plunder?
reasonable doubt is the element of the offense. ATTY. AGABIN: Yes, your Honor, because Section 4 is two pronged, it contains a rule of evidence and it
MR. ALBANO: I am aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but considering that in the crime of plunder the totality of contains a substantive element of the crime of plunder. So, there is no way by which we can avoid Section
the amount is very important, I feel that such a series of overt criminal acts has to be taken singly. For 4.
instance, in the act of bribery, he was able to accumulate only ₱50,000 and in the crime of extortion, he JUSTICE BELLOSILLO: But there is proof beyond reasonable doubt insofar as the predicate crimes charged
was only able to accumulate ₱1 million. Now, when we add the totality of the other acts as required are concerned that you do not have to go that far by applying Section 4?

47
ATTY. AGABIN: Your Honor, our thinking is that Section 4 contains a very important element of the crime the crime of plunder." There is no reason to believe, however, that it does not apply as well to the public
of plunder and that cannot be avoided by the prosecution.32 officer as principal in the crime. As Justice Holmes said: "We agree to all the generalities about not
We do not subscribe to petitioner's stand. Primarily, all the essential elements of plunder can be culled supplying criminal laws with what they omit, but there is no canon against using common sense in
and understood from its definition in Sec. 2, in relation to Sec. 1, par. (d), and "pattern" is not one of construing laws as saying what they obviously mean."35
them. Moreover, the epigraph and opening clause of Sec. 4 is clear and unequivocal: Finally, any doubt as to whether the crime of plunder is a malum in se must be deemed to have been
SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder x x x x resolved in the affirmative by the decision of Congress in 1993 to include it among the heinous crimes
It purports to do no more than prescribe a rule of procedure for the prosecution of a criminal case for punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Other heinous crimes are punished with death as a straight
plunder. Being a purely procedural measure, Sec. 4 does not define or establish any substantive right in penalty in R.A. No. 7659. Referring to these groups of heinous crimes, this Court held in People v.
favor of the accused but only operates in furtherance of a remedy. It is only a means to an end, an aid to Echegaray:36
substantive law. Indubitably, even without invoking Sec. 4, a conviction for plunder may be had, for what The evil of a crime may take various forms. There are crimes that are, by their very nature, despicable,
is crucial for the prosecution is to present sufficient evidence to engender that moral certitude exacted either because life was callously taken or the victim is treated like an animal and utterly dehumanized as
by the fundamental law to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, even granting to completely disrupt the normal course of his or her growth as a human being . . . . Seen in this light, the
for the sake of argument that Sec. 4 is flawed and vitiated for the reasons advanced by petitioner, it may capital crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for ransom resulting in the death of the victim
simply be severed from the rest of the provisions without necessarily resulting in the demise of the law; or the victim is raped, tortured, or subjected to dehumanizing acts; destructive arson resulting in death;
after all, the existing rules on evidence can supplant Sec. 4 more than enough. Besides, Sec. 7 of RA 7080 and drug offenses involving minors or resulting in the death of the victim in the case of other crimes; as
provides for a separability clause - well as murder, rape, parricide, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, where the victim is
Sec. 7. Separability of Provisions. - If any provisions of this Act or the application thereof to any person or detained for more than three days or serious physical injuries were inflicted on the victim or threats to
circumstance is held invalid, the remaining provisions of this Act and the application of such provisions to kill him were made or the victim is a minor, robbery with homicide, rape or intentional mutilation,
other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby. destructive arson, and carnapping where the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped vehicle is killed
Implicit in the foregoing section is that to avoid the whole act from being declared invalid as a result of or raped, which are penalized by reclusion perpetua to death, are clearly heinous by their very nature.
the nullity of some of its provisions, assuming that to be the case although it is not really so, all the There are crimes, however, in which the abomination lies in the significance and implications of the
provisions thereof should accordingly be treated independently of each other, especially if by doing so, subject criminal acts in the scheme of the larger socio-political and economic context in which the state
the objectives of the statute can best be achieved. finds itself to be struggling to develop and provide for its poor and underprivileged masses. Reeling from
As regards the third issue, again we agree with Justice Mendoza that plunder is a malum in se which decades of corrupt tyrannical rule that bankrupted the government and impoverished the population,
requires proof of criminal intent. Thus, he says, in his Concurring Opinion - the Philippine Government must muster the political will to dismantle the culture of corruption,
x x x Precisely because the constitutive crimes are mala in se the element of mens rea must be proven in dishonesty, greed and syndicated criminality that so deeply entrenched itself in the structures of society
a prosecution for plunder. It is noteworthy that the amended information alleges that the crime of and the psyche of the populace. [With the government] terribly lacking the money to provide even the
plunder was committed "willfully, unlawfully and criminally." It thus alleges guilty knowledge on the part most basic services to its people, any form of misappropriation or misapplication of government funds
of petitioner. translates to an actual threat to the very existence of government, and in turn, the very survival of the
In support of his contention that the statute eliminates the requirement of mens rea and that is the people it governs over. Viewed in this context, no less heinous are the effects and repercussions of crimes
reason he claims the statute is void, petitioner cites the following remarks of Senator Tañada made like qualified bribery, destructive arson resulting in death, and drug offenses involving government
during the deliberation on S.B. No. 733: officials, employees or officers, that their perpetrators must not be allowed to cause further destruction
SENATOR TAÑADA . . . And the evidence that will be required to convict him would not be evidence for and damage to society.
each and every individual criminal act but only evidence sufficient to establish the conspiracy or scheme The legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is a malum in
to commit this crime of plunder.33 se. For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they are mala in se37 and it
However, Senator Tañada was discussing §4 as shown by the succeeding portion of the transcript quoted does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially since in the case of plunder the
by petitioner: predicate crimes are mainly mala in se. Indeed, it would be absurd to treat prosecutions for plunder as
SENATOR ROMULO: And, Mr. President, the Gentleman feels that it is contained in Section 4, Rule of though they are mere prosecutions for violations of the Bouncing Check Law (B.P. Blg. 22) or of an
Evidence, which, in the Gentleman's view, would provide for a speedier and faster process of attending to ordinance against jaywalking, without regard to the inherent wrongness of the acts.
this kind of cases? To clinch, petitioner likewise assails the validity of RA 7659, the amendatory law of RA 7080, on
SENATOR TAÑADA: Yes, Mr. President . . .34 constitutional grounds. Suffice it to say however that it is now too late in the day for him to resurrect this
Senator Tañada was only saying that where the charge is conspiracy to commit plunder, the prosecution long dead issue, the same having been eternally consigned by People v. Echegaray38 to the archives of
need not prove each and every criminal act done to further the scheme or conspiracy, it being enough if jurisprudential history. The declaration of this Court therein that RA 7659 is constitutionally valid stands
it proves beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or ciminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful as a declaration of the State, and becomes, by necessary effect, assimilated in the Constitution now as an
scheme or conspiracy. As far as the acts constituting the pattern are concerned, however, the elements of integral part of it.
the crime must be proved and the requisite mens rea must be shown. Our nation has been racked by scandals of corruption and obscene profligacy of officials in high places
Indeed, §2 provides that - which have shaken its very foundation. The anatomy of graft and corruption has become more elaborate
Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to in the corridors of time as unscrupulous people relentlessly contrive more and more ingenious ways to
the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the bilk the coffers of the government. Drastic and radical measures are imperative to fight the increasingly
degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by sophisticated, extraordinarily methodical and economically catastrophic looting of the national treasury.
the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. Such is the Plunder Law, especially designed to disentangle those ghastly tissues of grand-scale
The application of mitigating and extenuating circumstances in the Revised Penal Code to prosecutions corruption which, if left unchecked, will spread like a malignant tumor and ultimately consume the moral
under the Anti-Plunder Law indicates quite clearly that mens rea is an element of plunder since the and institutional fiber of our nation. The Plunder Law, indeed, is a living testament to the will of the
degree of responsibility of the offender is determined by his criminal intent. It is true that §2 refers to legislature to ultimately eradicate this scourge and thus secure society against the avarice and other
"any person who participates with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to venalities in public office.

48
These are times that try men's souls. In the checkered history of this nation, few issues of national business associates and persons heretofore named, by taking advantage of his official position, authority,
importance can equal the amount of interest and passion generated by petitioner's ignominious fall from connection or influence as President of the Republic of the Philippines, did then and there wilfully,
the highest office, and his eventual prosecution and trial under a virginal statute. This continuing saga has unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire ill-gotten wealth, and unjustly enrich himself in
driven a wedge of dissension among our people that may linger for a long time. Only by responding to the aggregate amount of P4,097,804,173.17, more or less, through a combination and series of overt and
the clarion call for patriotism, to rise above factionalism and prejudices, shall we emerge triumphant in criminal acts, described as follows:
the midst of ferment. (a) by receiving, collecting, directly or indirectly, on many instances, so-called "jueteng money" from
PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Court holds that RA 7080 otherwise known as the Plunder Law, as amended gambling operators in connivance with co-accused Jose ‘Jinggoy’ Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte and Edward
by RA 7659, is CONSTITUTIONAL. Consequently, the petition to declare the law unconstitutional is Serapio, as witnessed by Gov. Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson, among other witnesses, in the aggregate amount of
DISMISSED for lack of merit. FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000.000.00), more or less, in consideration of their
SO ORDERED. protection from arrest or interference by law enforcers in their illegal "jueteng" activities; and
Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur. (b) by misappropriating, converting and misusing for his gain and benefit public fund in the amount of
Davide, Jr. C.J., Melo, Quisumbing, JJ., join concurring opinion of J. Mendoza. ONE HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a portion of One
Puno, Vitug, JJ., concurred and joins J. Mendoza's concurring opinion. Hundred Seventy Million Pesos (P170,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the Province of
Kapunan, Pardo, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Ynares-Santiago, JJ., see dissenting opinion. Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, in conspiracy with co-accused Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang, Alma Alfaro, Eleuterio
Mendoza, J., please see concurring opinion. Tan a.k.a. Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, as witnessed by Gov. Luis
Panganiban J., please see separate concurring opinion. ‘Chavit’ Singson, among other witnesses; and
Carpio, J., no part. Was one of the complainants before Ombudsman. (c) by directing, ordering and compelling the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social
DISSENTING OPINION Security System (SSS) to purchase and buy a combined total of 681,733,000 shares of stock of the Belle
KAPUNAN, J.: Corporation in the aggregate gross value of One Billion Eight Hundred Forty-Seven Million Five Hundred
The primary duty of the Court is to render justice. The resolution of the issues brought before it must be Seventy Eight Thousand Pesos and Fifty Centavos(P1,847,578,057.50), for the purpose of collecting for
grounded on law, justice and the basic tenets of due process, unswayed by the passions of the day or the his personal gain and benefit, as in fact he did collect and receive the sum of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE
clamor of the multitudes, guided only by its members’ honest conscience, clean hearts and their MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND FIFTY SEVEN PESOS (P189,700,000.00) as commission for said
unsullied conviction to do what is right under the law. stock purchase; and
The issues posed by the instant petition are quite difficult. The task of the Court to resolve the same is (d) by unjustly enriching himself in the amount of THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION
made more daunting because the case involves a former President of the Republic who, in the eyes of ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS
certain sectors of society, deserves to be punished. But the mandate of the Court is to decide these (P3,233,104,173.17) comprising his unexplained wealth acquired, accumulated and amassed by him
issues solely on the basis of law and due process, and regardless of the personalities involved. For indeed, under his account name "Jose Velarde" with Equitable PCI Bank:
the rule of law and the right to due process are immutable principles that should apply to all, even to to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.
those we hate. As Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., a noted constitutionalist, aptly puts it-- CONTRARY TO LAW.4
x x x the greater disaster would be if the Supreme Court should heed the clamor for conviction and On April 16 and 17, 2001, the Ombudsman filed an Ex-Parte Manifestation to Withdraw Information in
convict Estrada even under an unconstitutional law but of the belief that Estrada deserves to be Criminal Case Nos. 26559, 26560, 26561, 26562 and 26563. Petitioner registered his objection to the
punished. That would be tantamount to a rule of men and not of law.1 Ombudsman’s motion to withdraw. The divisions of the Sandiganbayan to which said cases were assigned
The Basic Facts granted the withdrawal of the informations, save for that in Criminal Case No. 26561. At present, the
The petition before us questions the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 7080 (R.A. No. 7080 or Plunder Order of the First Division of the Sandiganbayan denying the Ombudsman’s motion to withdraw in
Law), as amended by Republic Act No. 7659,2 entitled "An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Criminal Case No. 26561 is still under reconsideration.
Plunder."3 This original petition for certiorari and prohibition against Respondent Third Division of the In Criminal Case No. 26558, petitioner filed on April 11, 2001 an Omnibus Motion for the remand of the
Sandiganbayan filed by petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada assails Respondent court’s Resolution, dated case to the Office of the Ombudsman for: (1) the conduct of a preliminary investigation as regards
July 9, 2001, denying his Motion to Quash the information against him in Criminal Case No. 26558 for specification "d" of the accusations in the information in said case; and (2)
Plunder. Petitioner likewise prays that the Sandiganbayan be prohibited and enjoined from proceeding reconsideration/reinvestigation of the offenses in specifications "a," "b" and "c" to enable petitioner to
with his arraignment and trial in Criminal Case No. 26558 due to the unconstitutionality of R. A. No. 7080. file his counter-affidavits as well as other necessary documents.
On the heels of the finality of the joint decision of this Court in G.R. No. 146710 (Estrada vs. Desierto, et On April 25, 2001, the Third Division of the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution finding that:
al.) and in G.R. No. 146738 (Estrada vs. Macapagal-Arroyo), promulgated on April 3, 2001, upholding the (p)robable cause for the offense of PLUNDER exists to justify issuance of warrants of arrest of accused
constitutionality of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s assumption of office as President of the Republic former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Mayor Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, Charlie "Atong" Ang, Edward
of the Philippines and declaring that the former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada no longer enjoyed Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramon Tan or Mr. Uy
immunity from suit, the Ombudsman filed eight (8) Informations against Estrada. These cases were and Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas.
Criminal Case No. 26558 (for Plunder); Criminal Case No. 26559 (for Violation of Sec. 3[a] of Republic Act Subsequently, on May 31, 2001, the Third Division of the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying
No. 3019); Criminal Case No. 26560 (for Violation of Sec. 3[a] of R.A. No. 3019); Criminal Case No. 26561 petitioner’s Omnibus Motion.
(for Violation of Sec. 3[e] of R.A. 3019); Criminal Case No. 26562 (for Violation of Sec. 3[e] of R.A. No. On June 15, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of said Resolution but the same was
3019); Criminal Case No. 26563 (for Violation of Sec. 7[d] of R.A. No. 6713); Criminal Case No. 26564 (for denied in a Resolution of June 25, 2001.
Perjury); and Criminal Case No. 26565 (for Illegal Use of Alias). Meanwhile, on June 14, 2001, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash the information in Criminal Case No.
The aforementioned informations were raffled to the five divisions of the Sandiganbayan. Criminal Case 26558, invoking the following grounds: (1) the facts charged do not constitute an indictable offense as
No. 26558 was raffled to the Third Division of said court. The amended information against petitioner R.A. No. 7080, the statute on which it is based, is unconstitutional; and (2) the information charges more
charging violations of Section 2, in relation to Section (d) (1) (2) of the statute reads: than one offense.
That during the period from June, 1998 to January, 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of The People of the Philippines filed an Opposition thereto on June 21, 2001. Petitioner filed his Reply to
this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, by himself and in conspiracy with his co-accused, the Opposition on June 28, 2001.

49
On July 9, 2001, the Third Division of the Sandiganbayan issued its Resolution denying petitioner’s motion Petitioner asserts that R.A. No. 7080 is vague and overbroad on its face, and suffers from structural
to quash. deficiency and ambiguity.7 In sum, he maintains that the law does not afford an ordinary person
Petitioner thus filed the instant petition for certiorari and prohibition, claiming that the Sandiganbayan reasonable notice that his actuation will constitute a criminal offense. More particularly, petitioner
committed grave abuse of discretion in denying his motion to quash the information in Criminal Case No. argues that the terms "combination" and "series" are not clearly defined, citing that in a number of
26558. Petitioner argues that R.A. No. 7080 is unconstitutional on the following grounds: cases, the United States (U.S.) federal courts in deciding cases under the Racketeer Influenced and
I. IT VIOLATES THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE FOR ITS VAGUENESS Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO law), after which the Plunder Law was patterned, have given different
II. IT VIOLATES THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF THE ACCUSED TO KNOW THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF interpretations to "series of acts or transactions."8 In addition, he terms "raid on the public treasury,"
THE ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM "receiving or accepting a gift," "commission," "kickbacks," "illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition
III. IT VIOLATES THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE BY of assets," "monopolies or other combinations," "special interests," "taking undue advantage of official
LOWERING THE QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE NECESSARY FOR PROVING THE COMPONENT ELEMENTS OF position," "unjustly enrich" all suffer from overbreadth which is a form of vagueness.9
PLUNDER In arguing that the law on plunder is vague and impermissibly broad, petitioner points out that the terms
IV. IT IS BEYOND THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER OF THE LEGISLATURE TO DELIMIT THE REASONABLE "combination" and ‘series" used in the phrase "any combination or series of the following means or
DOUBT STANDARD AND TO ABOLISH THE ELEMENT OF MENS REA IN MALA IN SE CRIMES BY similar schemes" are not defined under the statute. The use of these terms in the law allegedly raises
CONVERTING THESE TO MALA PROHIBITA, IN VIOLATION OF THE DUE PROCESS CONCEPT OF CRIMINAL several questions as to their meaning and import.
RESPONSIBILITY.5 Petitioner posits the following queries: "Does it (referring to the term "series") mean two, three, four, of
The provisions of law involved the overt or criminal acts listed in Section 1(d)? Would it mean two or more related enterprises falling
Section 2 of R.A. No. 7080 provides: under at least two of the means or ‘similar schemes’ listed in the law, or just a joint criminal enterprise?
Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties. - Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with Would it require substantial identity of facts and participants, or merely a common pattern of action?
members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other Would it imply close connection between acts, or a direct relationship between the charges? Does the
persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or term mean a factual relationship between acts or merely a common plan among conspirators?"10
criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty The term "combination" is allegedly equally equivocal. According to petitioner, it is not clear from the law
million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion if said term covers time, place, manner of commission, or the principal characters. Thus petitioner asks:
perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an "Does it (referring to the term "combination") include any two or more acts, whether legal or illegal, or
offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition does the law require that the combination must include at least two of the ‘means or similar schemes’
of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, laid down in R.A. 7080? Does it cover transactions that have occurred in the same place or area, or in
as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and different places, no matter how far apart? Does ‘combination’ include any two or more overt acts, no
all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares matter how far apart in time, or does it contemplate acts committed within a short period of time?
of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State. (As amended by Does the ‘combination’ cover the modus operandi of the crimes, or merely the evidence to be used at
Sec. 12, RA No. 7659.) the trial?"11
Section 1(d) of the same law defines "ill-gotten wealth" as "any asset, property, business enterprise or It is also argued that the phrase "pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall scheme or
material possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2)" hereof, acquired by him directly conspiracy" adds to the vagueness of the law because "pattern" is not defined therein and is not included
or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates, and/or business associates by any in the definition of the crime of plunder even though it is an essential element of said crime. 12
combination or series of the following means or similar schemes: Petitioner also maintains that the Plunder Law violates the due process clause and the constitutional
1. Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of public funds or raids on the public presumption of innocence by lowering the quantum of evidence necessary for proving the component
treasury; elements of plunder because Section 4 does not require that each and every criminal act done by the
2. By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy be proved, "it being sufficient to establish beyond
of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or
project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned; conspiracy."13
3. By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government Finally, petitioner alleges that it is beyond the power of Congress to delimit the reasonable doubt
or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or controlled corporations standard and to abolish the element of mens rea in mala in se crimes by converting these to mala
and their subsidiaries; prohibita, thereby making it easier for the prosecution to prove malversation, bribery, estafa and other
4. By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form crimes committed by public officers since criminal intent need not be established.14
of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business enterprise or Considering the infringement to the constitutionally-guaranteed right to due process of an accused,
undertaking; petitioner contends that R.A. No. 7080 cannot be accorded any presumption of constitutional validity.
5. By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combination and/or Respondents’ theory
implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or On the other hand, Respondents argue that the "particular elements constituting the crime of plunder"
6. By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to are stated with "definiteness and certainty," as follows:
unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino (1) There is a public officer who acts by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by
people and the Republic of the Philippines.6 affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons;
On the other hand, Section 4 states: (2) There is an amassing, accumulating or acquiring of ill-gotten wealth;
Rule of Evidence - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to prove (3) The total amount of ill-gotten wealth so amassed, accumulated or acquired is at least Fifty Million
each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, Pesos (P50,000,000.00); and
accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a (4) The ill-gotten wealth, which is defined as any asset, property, business enterprise or material
pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. possession of any person within the purview of Section Two (2) of R.A. No. 7080, was acquired by him
Petitioner’s theory

50
directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates, and/or business associates by One of the fundamental requirements imposed by the Constitution upon criminal statutes is that
any combination or series of the means or similar schemes enumerated in Section 1(d). 15 pertaining to clarity and definiteness. Statutes, particularly penal laws, that fall short of this requirement
Moreover, Respondents maintain that assuming that there is some vagueness in the law, it need not be have been declared unconstitutional for being vague. This "void-for-vagueness" doctrine is rooted in the
declared unconstitutional but may be clarified by judicial construction.16 Respondents further add that basic concept of fairness as well as the due process clause of the Constitution.
the ordinary import of the terms combination" and "series" should prevail, as can be gleaned from the The Constitution guarantees both substantive and procedural due process28 as well as the right of the
deliberations of the Congress in the course of its passage of the law. According to respondents, "series of accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. 29 A criminal statute should
overt criminal acts" simply mean a repetition of at least two of any of those enumerated acts found in not be so vague and uncertain that "men of common intelligence must necessarily guess as to its
Section 1(d) of R.A. 7080. And "combination" means a product of combining of at least one of any of meaning and differ as to its application.30
those enumerated acts described in Section 1(d) with at least one of any of the other acts so There are three distinct considerations for the vagueness doctrine. First, the doctrine is designed to
enumerated. Respondents score petitioner for arguing on the basis of federal courts’ decisions on the ensure that individuals are properly warned ex ante of the criminal consequences of their conduct. This
RICO law, citing that the U.S. courts have consistently rejected the contention that said law is void for "fair notice" rationale was articulated in United States v. Harriss:31
being vague.17 The constitutional requirement of definiteness is violated by a criminal statute that fails to give a person
Respondents deny that the Plunder Law dispenses with the requirement of proof beyond reasonable of ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated conduct is forbidden by the statute. The
doubt. While there may be no necessity to prove each and every other act done by the accused in underlying principle is that no man shall be held criminally responsible for conduct which he could not
furtherance of the scheme to acquire ill-gotten wealth, it is still necessary for the prosecution to prove reasonably understand to be proscribed.32
beyond reasonable doubt the pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall scheme or Second, and viewed as more important, the doctrine is intended to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory
conspiracy, as well as all the other elements of the offense of plunder.18 Respondents also point out that law enforcement.33 Vague laws are invariably "standardless" and as such, they afford too great an
conspiracy itself is not punishable under the Plunder Law, which deals with conspiracy as a means of opportunity for criminal enforcement to be left to the unfettered discretion of police officers and
incurring criminal liability.19 prosecutors.34 Third, vague laws fail to provide sufficient guidance to judges who are charged with
Respondents likewise contend that it is within the inherent powers and wisdom of the legislature to interpreting statutes. Where a statute is too vague to provide sufficient guidance, the judiciary is arguably
determine which acts are mala prohibita in the same way that it can declare punishable an act which is placed in the position of usurping the proper function of the legislature by "making the law" rather than
inherently not criminal in nature.20 interpreting it.35
In conclusion, Respondents assert that petitioner has failed to overcome the presumption of While the dictum that laws be clear and definite does not require Congress to spell out with
constitutionality of R.A. No. 7080. mathematical certainty the standards to which an individual must conform his conduct,36 it is necessary
Petitioner’s Reply that statutes provide reasonable standards to guide prospective conduct.37 And where a statute imposes
Petitioner, in his Reply to Comment, draws attention to Section 4, arguing that the provision states the criminal sanctions, the standard of certainty is higher. 38 The penalty imposable on the person found
"most important element, which is the common thread that ties the component acts together: "a pattern guilty of violating R.A. No. 7080 is reclusion perpetua to death.39 Given such penalty, the standard of
of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy 21 and raises the following clarity and definiteness required of R.A. No. 7080 is unarguably higher than that of other laws.40
questions: Void-for-vagueness doctrine
(a) Reference is made to a "pattern of overt or criminal acts." The disjunctive "or" is used. Will a pattern applies to criminal laws.
of acts, which are overt but not criminal in themselves, be indicative of an overall unlawful scheme or A view has been proffered that "vagueness and overbreadth doctrines are not applicable to penal laws." 41
conspiracy? These two concepts, while related, are distinct from each other. 42 On one hand, the doctrine of
(b) Under what specific facts or circumstances will a "pattern" be "indicative" of the overall unlawful overbreadth applies generally to statutes that infringe upon freedom of speech.43 On the other hand, the
scheme or conspiracy? "void-for-vagueness" doctrine applies to criminal laws, not merely those that regulate speech or other
(c) Under what specific facts or circumstances will the required "pattern" or "scheme" even be said to be fundamental constitutional rights.44 The fact that a particular criminal statute does not infringe upon free
present or to exist? speech does not mean that a facial challenge to the statute on vagueness grounds cannot succeed.45
(d) When is there an "unlawful scheme or conspiracy?"22 As earlier intimated, the "vagueness doctrine" is anchored on the constitutionally-enshrined right to due
Issues raised in the oral arguments process of law. Thus, as in this case that the "life, liberty and property" of petitioner is involved, the Court
Oral arguments were heard on September 18, 2001. At said hearing, the Court defined the issues for should not hesitate to look into whether a criminal statute has sufficiently complied with the elementary
resolution as follows: requirements of definiteness and clarity. It is an erroneous argument that the Court cannot apply the
1.) WHETHER R.A. NO. 7080 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOR BEING VAGUE; vagueness doctrine to penal laws. Such stance is tantamount to saying that no criminal law can be
2) WHETHER R.A. NO. 7080 REQUIRES LESS EVIDENCE FOR PROVING THE PREDICATE CRIMES OF challenged however repugnant it is to the constitutional right to due process.
PLUNDER AND THEREFORE VIOLATES THE RIGHT OF THE ACCUSED TO DUE PROCESS; and While admittedly, penal statutes are worded in reasonably general terms to accomplish the legislature’s
3) WHETHER PLUNDER AS DEFINED IN R.A. NO. 7080 IS A MALUM PROHIBITUM AND IF SO, WHETHER IT objective of protecting the public from socially harmful conduct, this should not prevent a vagueness
IS WITHIN THE POWER OF CONGRESS TO SO CLASSIFY THE SAME.23 challenge in cases where a penal statute is so indeterminate as to cause the average person to guess at
Thereafter, both parties filed their respective memoranda in which they discussed the points which they its meaning and application. For if a statute infringing upon freedom of speech may be challenged for
raised in their earlier pleadings and during the hearing. being vague because such right is considered as fundamental, with more reason should a vagueness
I believe that there is merit in the petition. challenge with respect to a penal statute be allowed since the latter involve deprivation of liberty, and
A penal statute which violates constitutional even of life which, inarguably, are rights as important as, if not more than, free speech.
guarantees of individual rights is void. It has been incorrectly suggested46 that petitioner cannot mount a "facial challenge" to the Plunder Law,
Every law enacted by Congress enjoys a presumption of constitutionality,24 and the presumption prevails and that "facial" or "on its face" challenges seek the total invalidation of a statute.47 Citing Broadrick v.
in the absence of contrary evidence.25 A criminal statute is generally valid if it does not violate Oklahoma,48 it is also opined that "claims of facial overbreadth have been entertained in cases involving
constitutional guarantees of individual rights.26 Conversely, when a constitutionally protected right of an statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only spoken words" and that "overbreadth claims, if
individual is in danger of being trampled upon by a criminal statute, such law must be struck down for entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be
being void.27 applied to protected conduct." For this reason, it is argued further that "on its face invalidation of

51
statutes has been described as ‘manifestly strong medicine,’ to be employed ‘sparingly and only as a last c. Must the "combination or series" of "overt or criminal acts" involving the aggregate amount of at least
resort.’" A reading of Broadrick, however, shows that the doctrine involved therein was the doctrine of P50 million be conceived as such a scheme or a "pattern of overt or criminal acts" from inception by the
overbreadth. Its application to the present case is thus doubtful considering that the thrust at hand is to accused?
determine whether the Plunder Law can survive the vagueness challenge mounted by petitioner. A noted d. What would constitute a "pattern"? What linkage must there be between and among the acts to
authority on constitutional law, Professor Lockhart, explained that "the Court will resolve them constitute a "pattern"? Need there be a linkage as to the persons who conspire with one another, and a
(vagueness challenges) in ways different from the approaches it has fashioned in the law of linkage as to all the acts between and among them?
overbreadth."49 Thus, in at least two cases,50 the U.S. courts allowed the facial challenges to vague e. When Section 4 speaks of "indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy," would this mean
criminal statutes even if these did not implicate free speech that the "scheme" or "conspiracy" should have been conceived or decided upon in its entirety, and by all
In Kolender v. Lawson,51 petitioners assailed the constitutionality of a California criminal statute which of the participants?
required persons who loiter or wander on the streets to provide a credible and reasonable identification f. When committed in connivance "with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity,
and to account for their presence when requested by a peace officer under circumstances that would business associates, subordinates or other persons" or through "dummies, nominees, agents,
justify a valid stop. The U.S. Supreme Court held that said statute was unconstitutionally vague on its face subordinates and/or business associates", would such fact be part of the "pattern of overt or criminal
within the meaning of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it encourages acts" and of the "overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy" such that all of those who are alleged to have
arbitrary enforcement by failing to clarify what is contemplated by the requirement that a suspect participated in the crime of plunder must have participated in each and every act allegedly constituting
provide a "credible and reasonable identification." Springfield vs. Oklahoma52 on the other hand involved the crime of plunder? And as in conspiracy, conspired together from inception to commit the offense?
a challenge to a Columbus city ordinance banning certain assault weapons. The court therein stated that g. Within what time frame must the acts be committed so as to constitute a "combination or series"?
a criminal statute may be facially invalid even if it has some conceivable application. It went on to rule I respectfully disagree with the majority that "ascertainable standards and well-defined parameters" are
that the assailed ordinance’s definition of "assault weapon" was unconstitutionally vague, because it was provided in the law55 to resolve these basic questions.
"fundamentally irrational and impossible to apply consistently by the buying public, the sportsman, the Even men steeped in the knowledge of the law are in a quandary as to what constitutes plunder. The
law enforcement officer, the prosecutor or the judge."53 Presiding Justice of the Sandiganbayan, Justice Francis Garchitorena, admitted that the justices of said
It is incorrect to state that petitioner has made "little effort to show the alleged invalidity of the statute as court "have been quarrelling with each other in finding ways to determine what [they] understand by
applied to him, as he allegedly "attacks ‘on their face’ not only §§ 1(d)(1) and (2) of R.A. 7080 under plunder."56 Senator Neptali Gonzales also noted during the deliberations of Senate Bill No. 733 that the
which he is charged, but also its other provisions which deal with plunder committed by illegal or definition of plunder under the law is vague. He bluntly declared: "I am afraid that it might be faulted for
fraudulent disposition of government assets (§1(d)(3)), acquisition of interest in business (§1(d)(4)), and being violative of the due process clause and the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the
establishment of monopolies and combinations or implementation of decrees intended to benefit accusation of an accused.57 Fr. Bernas, for his part, pointed to several problematical portions of the law
particular persons or special interests (§ 1(d)(5))."54 Notably, much of petitioner’s arguments dealt with that were left unclarified. He posed the question: "How can you have a 'series' of criminal acts if the
the vagueness of the key phrases "combination or series" and "pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative elements that are supposed to constitute the series are not proved to be criminal?"58
of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy" which go into the very nature of the crime for which he is The meanings of "combination" and "series"
charged. as used in R.A. No. 7080 are not clear.
Taking into consideration that the Plunder Law is a penal statute that imposes the supreme penalty of Although the law has no statutory definition of "combination" or "series", the majority is of the view that
death, and that petitioner in this case clearly has standing to question its validity inasmuch as he has resort can be had to the ordinary meaning of these terms. Thus, Webster's Third New International
been charged thereunder and that he has been for sometime now painfully deprived of his liberty, it Dictionary gives the meaning of "combination": "the result or product or product of combining: a union
behooves this Court to address the challenge on the validity of R.A. No. 7080. or aggregate made of combining one thing with another."59
Men steeped in law find In the context of R.A. No. 7080, "combination" as suggested by the Solicitor General means that at least
difficulty in understanding plunder. two of the enumerated acts found in Section 1(d), i.e., one of any of the enumerated acts, combined with
The basic question that arises, therefore, is whether the clauses in Section 2-- another act falling under any other of the enumerated means may constitute the crime of plunder. With
combination or series of overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof respect to the term "series," the majority states that it has been understood as pertaining to "two or
and Section 1(d), which provides-- more overt or criminal acts falling under the same category" 60 as gleaned from the deliberations on the
x x x by any combination or series of the following means or similar schemes: law in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public Further, the import of "combination" or "series" can be ascertained, the majority insists, 61 from the
treasury; following deliberations in the Bicameral Conference Committee on May 7, 1991:
xxx REP. ISIDRO: I am just intrigued again by our definition of plunder. We say, THROUGH A COMBINATION OR
6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to SERIES OF OVERT OR CRIMINAL ACTS AS MENTIONED IN SECTION ONE HEREOF. Now when we say
unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino combination, we actually mean to say, if there are two or more means, we mean to say that number one
people and the Republic of the Philippines. and two or number one and something else are included, how about a series of the same act? For
as qualified by Section 4 which also speaks of the "scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or example, through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, will these be included also?
acquire ill-gotten wealth" and of "a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yeah, because we say series.
scheme or conspiracy," are clear enough that a person "of common intelligence" need not guess at their REP. ISIDRO: Series.
meaning and differ as to their application. THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yeah, we include series.
The above raise several difficult questions of meaning which go to the very essence of the offense, such REP. ISIDRO: But we say we begin with a combination.
as: THE CHAIRMAN: (REP. GARCIA): Yes.
a. How many acts would constitute a "combination or series?" REP. ISIDRO: When we say combination, it seems that-
b. Must the acts alleged to constitute the "combination or series" be similar in nature? Note that Section THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Two.
1(d) speaks of "similar schemes" while Section 4 speaks of "the scheme" and of "a pattern of overt or REP. ISIDRO: Not only two but we seem to mean that two of the enumerated means not twice of one
criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy." enumeration.

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THE CHAIRMAN: (REP. GARCIA): No, no, not twice. President, I think, this provision, by itself will be vague. I am afraid that it might be faulted for being
REP. ISIDRO: Not twice? violative of the due process clause and the right to be informed of the nature and cause of accusation of
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yes. Combination is not twice—but combination, two acts. an accused. Because, what is meant by "series of overt or criminal acts"? I mean, would 2, 3, 4 or 5
REP. ISIDRO: So in other words, that’s it. When we say combination, we mean two different acts. It can constitute a series? During the period of amendments, can we establish a minimum of overt acts like, for
not be a repetition of the same act. example, robbery in band? The law defines what is robbery in band by the number of participants
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): That be referred to series. Yeah. therein. In this particular case probably, we can statutorily provide for the definition of "series" so that
REP. ISIDRO: No, no. Supposing one act is repeated, so there are two. two, for example, would that be already a series? Or, three, what would be the basis for such
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): A series. determination?65 (Emphasis supplied.)
REP. ISIDRO: That’s not series. It’s a combination. Because when we say combination or series, we seem The point raised by Senator Gonzales is crucial and well-taken. I share petitioner’s observation that when
to say that two or more, ‘di ba? penal laws enacted by Congress make reference to a term or concept requiring a quantitative definition,
THE CHAIRMAN: (REP. GARCIA): Yes, This distinguishes it, really, from the ordinary crimes. That is why, I these laws are so crafted as to specifically state the exact number or percentage necessary to constitute
said, that is a very good suggestion because if it is only one act, it may fall under ordinary crime but we the elements of a crime. To cite a few:
have here a combination or series of overt or criminal acts. So… "Band" – "Whenever more than three armed malefactors shall have acted together in the commission of
HON. ISIDRO: I know what you are talking about. For example, through misappropriation, conversion, an offense, it shall be deemed to have been committed by a band." (Article 14[6], Revised Penal Code) 66
misuse or malversation of public funds who raids the public treasury, now, for example, "Conspiracy" – "A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the
misappropriation, if there are a series of misappropriations? commission of a felony and decide to commit it." (Article 8, Revised Penal Code)67
xxx "Illegal Recruitment by a Syndicate" – "Illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Series. One after the other eh di… out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN TAÑADA): So that would fall under term "series"? out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme x x x." (Section 38, Labor Code)
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Series, oo. "Large-scale Illegal Recruitment" – "Illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed
REP. ISIDRO: Now, if it is combination, ano, two misappropriations… against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group." (Section 38, Labor Code)
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): It’s not… two misappropriations will not be combination. Series. "Organized/Syndicated Crime Group" – "[M]eans a group of two or more persons collaborating,
REP. ISIDRO: So, it is not a combination? confederating or mutually helping one another for purposes of gain in the commission of any crime."
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yes. (Article 62 (1)(1a), Revised Penal Code)68
REP. ISIDRO: When you say "combination", two different? "Swindling by a Syndicate" – "x x x if the swindling (estafa) is committed by a syndicate consisting of five
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yes. or more persons formed with the intention of carrying out the unlawful or illegal act, transaction,
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA): Two different. enterprise or scheme x x x ." (Section 1, P.D. No. 1689)69
REP. ISIDRO: Two different acts. The deliberations of the Bicameral Conference Committee and of the Senate cited by the majority,
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): For example, ha… consisting mostly of unfinished sentences, offer very little help in clarifying the nebulous concept of
REP. ISIDRO: Now a series, meaning, repetition…62 plunder. All that they indicate is that Congress seemingly intended to hold liable for plunder a person
The following deliberations in the Senate are pointed to by the majority 63 to show that the words who: (1) commits at least two counts of any one of the acts mentioned in Section 1(d) of R.A. No. 7080,
"combination" and "series" are given their ordinary meaning: in which case, such person commits plunder by a series of overt criminal acts; or (2) commits at least one
Senator Maceda. In line of our interpellations that sometimes "one" or maybe even "two" acts may count of at least two of the acts mentioned in Section 1(d), in which case, such person commits plunder
already result in such a big amount, on line 25, would the Sponsor consider deleting the words "a series by a combination of overt criminal acts. Said discussions hardly provide a window as to the exact nature
of overt or". To read, therefore: "or conspiracy COMMITTED by criminal acts such as". Remove the idea of of this crime.
necessitating "a series". Anyway, the criminal acts are in the plural. A closer look at the exchange between Representatives Garcia and Isidro and Senator Tañada would
Senator Tañada. That would mean a combination of two or more of the acts mentioned in this. imply that initially, combination was intended to mean "two or more means," 70 i.e., "number one and
The President. Probably, two or more would be…. two or number one and something else x x x,"71 "two of the enumerated means not twice of one
Senator Maceda. Yes, because ‘a series’ implies several or many’ two or more. enumeration,"72 "two different acts."73 Series would refer to "a repetition of the same act."74 However,
Senator Tañada. Accepted, Mr. President. the distinction was again lost as can be gleaned from the following:
xxx THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA) Yes. Combination is not twice – but combination, two acts.
The President. If there is only one, then he has to be prosecuted under the particular crime. But when we REP. ISIDRO. So in other words, that’s it. When we say combination, we mean, two different acts. It can
say ‘acts of plunder’ there should be, at least, two or more. not be a repetition of the same act.
Senator Romulo. In other words, that is already covered by existing laws, Mr. President. 64 THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA). That be referred to series. Yeah.
To my mind, resort to the dictionary meaning of the terms "combination" and "series" as well as recourse REP. ISIDRO. No, no. Supposing one act is repeated, so there are two.
to the deliberations of the lawmakers only serve to prove that R.A. No. 7080 failed to satisfy the strict THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA). A series.
requirements of the Constitution on clarity and definiteness. Note that the key element to the crime of REP. ISIDRO. That’s not series. It’s a combination. Because when we say combination or series, we seem
plunder is that the public officer, by himself or in conspiracy with others, amasses, accumulates, or to say that two or more, ‘di ba?
acquires "ill-gotten wealth" through a "combination or series of overt or criminal acts" as described in THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA). Yes. This distinguishes it really the ordinary --- That’s why I said, that’s a
Section 1(d) of the law. Senator Gonzales, during the deliberations in the Senate, already raised serious very good suggestion, because if its’ only one act, it may fall under ordinary crime. But we have here a
concern over the lack of a statutory definition of what constitutes "combination" or "series", combination or series, of overt or criminal acts" (Emphasis supplied). 75
consequently, expressing his fears that Section 2 of R.A. No. 7080 might be violative of due process: xxx
Senator Gonzales. To commit the offense of plunder, as defined in this Act and while constituting a single THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) Series. One after the other eh di…
offense, it must consist of a series of overt or criminal acts, such as bribery, extortion, malversation of THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA) So, that would fall under the term "series"?
public funds, swindling, illegal exaction, and graft or corrupt practices act and like offenses. Now, Mr. THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P) Series, oo.

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REP. ISIDRO. Now, if it is combination, ano, two misappropriations… c. One act of possession of prohibited interest by a public officer (penalized with prision correccional in
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA) It’s not… two misappropriations will not be combination. Series. its minimum period or a fine of P200 to P1,000, or both under Art. 216 of the Revised Penal Code).
REP. ISIDRO. So, it is not a combination? combined with –
THE CHAIRMAN. (REP. GARCIA P.) Yes. one act of combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade (penalized under Art. 186 of the Revised Penal
REP. ISIDRO. When we say "combination", two different? Code with prision correccional in its minimum period, or a fine of P200 to P1,000, or both),
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) Yes. equals –
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA) Two different. plunder (punished by reclusion perpetua to death, and forfeiture of assets).78
REP. ISIDRO. Two different acts. The argument that higher penalties may be imposed where two or more distinct criminal acts are
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) For example, ha… combined and are regarded as special complex crimes, i.e., rape with homicide, does not justify the
REP. ISIDRO. Now a series, meaning, repetition… imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death in case plunder is committed. Taken singly, rape
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA) Yes. is punishable by reclusion perpetua;79 and homicide, by reclusion temporal.80 Hence, the increase in the
REP. ISIDRO. With that… penalty imposed when these two are considered together as a special complex crime is not too far from
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) Thank you. the penalties imposed for each of the single offenses. In contrast, as shown by the examples above, there
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA) So, it could be a series of any of the acts mentioned in paragraphs 1, 3, 4, are instances where the component crimes of plunder, if taken separately, would result in the imposition
5 of Section 2 (d), or… 1 (d) rather, or a combination of any of the acts mentioned in paragraph 1 alone, of correctional penalties only; but when considered as forming part of a series or combination of acts
or paragraph 2 alone or paragraph 3 or paragraph 4. constituting plunder, could be punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. The disproportionate increase
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) I think combination maybe…which one? Series? in the penalty is certainly violative of substantive due process and constitute a cruel and inhuman
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA) Series or combination. punishment.
REP. ISIDRO. Which one, combination or series or series or combination? It may also be pointed out that the definition of "ill-gotten wealth" in Section 1(d) has reference to the
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA) Okay. Ngayon doon sa definition, ano, Section 2, definition, doon sa acquisition of property (by the accused himself or in connivance with others) "by any combination or
portion ng… Saan iyon? As mentioned, as described… series" of the "means" or "similar schemes" enumerated therein, which include the following:
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) Described. I think that is… xxx
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA) … better than "mentioned". Yes. 4. By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other forms
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) Okay? of interest or participation including the promise of future employment or any business enterprise or
REP. ISIDRO. Very good. undertakings;
THE CHAIRMAN. (SEN. TAÑADA) Oo, marami pong salamat. 5. By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combination and/or
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA P.) Maraming salamat po. implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests;
The meeting was adjourned at 1:33 p.m."76 (Emphasis supplied.) xxx
The aforequoted deliberations, especially the latter part thereof, would show a dearth of focus to render The above-mentioned acts are not, by any stretch of the imagination, criminal or illegal acts. They involve
precise the definition of the terms. Phrases were uttered but were left unfinished. The examples cited the exercise of the right to liberty and property guaranteed by Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution
were not very definite. Unfortunately, the deliberations were apparently adjourned without the which provides that "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law,
Committee members themselves being clear on the concept of series and combination. nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws." Receiving or accepting any shares of
Moreover, if "combination" as used in the law simply refers to the amassing, accumulation and stock is not per se objectionable. It is in pursuance of civil liberty, which includes "the right of the citizen
acquisition of ill-gotten wealth amounting to at least P50 Million through at least two of the means to be free to use his faculties in all lawful ways; x x x to earn his livelihood by any lawful calling; to pursue
enumerated in Section 1(d), and "series," to at least two counts of one of the modes under said section, any avocation, and/or that purpose, to enter into all contracts which may be proper, necessary and
the accused could be meted out the death penalty for acts which, if taken separately, i.e., not considered essential to his carrying out these purposes to a successful conclusion. 81 Nor is there any impropriety,
as part of the combination or series, would ordinarily result in the imposition of correctional penalties immorality or illegality in establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other
only. If such interpretation would be adopted, the Plunder law would be so oppressive and arbitrary as to combination and/or implementation of decrees and orders even if they are intended to benefit particular
violate due process and the constitutional guarantees against cruel or inhuman punishment. 77 The persons or special interests. The phrases "particular persons" and "special interests" may well refer to the
penalty would be blatantly disproportionate to the offense. Petitioner’s examples illustrate this absurdity: poor,82 the indigenous cultural communities,83 labor,84 farmers,85 fisherfolk,86 women,87 or those
a. One act of indirect bribery (penalized under Art. 211 of the Revised Penal Code with prision connected with education, science and technology, arts, culture and sports.88
correccional in its medium and maximum periods), In contrast, the monopolies and combinations described in Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code are
combined with - punishable because, as specifically defined therein, they are "on restraint of trade or commerce or to
one act of fraud against the public treasury (penalized under Art. 213 of the Revised Penal Code with prevent by artificial means of free competition in the market, or the object is "to alter the price" of any
prision correccional in its medium period to prision mayor in its minimum period). merchandise "by spreading false rumors," or to manipulate market prices in restraint of trade. There are
equals – no similar elements of monopolies or combinations as described in the Plunder Law to make the acts
Plunder (punished by reclusion perpetua to death plus forfeiture of assets under R. A. 7080) wrongful.
b. One act of prohibited transaction (penalized under Art. 215 of the Revised Penal Code with prision If, as interpreted by the Solicitor General, "series" means a "repetition" or pertains to "two or more" acts,
correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from P200 to P1,000 or both). and "combination as defined in the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary is "the result or product
combined with – of combining one thing with another,"89 then, the commission of two or more acts falling under
one act of establishing a commercial monopoly (penalized under Art. 186 of Revised Penal Code with paragraphs (4) and (5) of Section 1(d) would make innocent acts protected by the Constitution as
prision correccional in its minimum or a fine ranging from P200 to P6,00, or both. criminal, and punishable by reclusion perpetua to death.
equals – R.A. No. 7080 does not define "pattern,"
Plunder (punished by reclusion perpetua to death, and forfeiture of assets under R.A. 7080). an essential element of the crime of plunder.

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Granting arguendo that, as asserted by the majority, "combination" and "series" simplistically mean the xxx Nor can we agree with those courts that have suggested that a pattern is established merely by
commission of two or more of the acts enumerated in Section 1(d),90 still, this interpretation does not proving two predicate acts.97
cure the vagueness of R.A. No. 7080. In construing the definition of "plunder," Section 2 of R.A. No. 7080 Respondents’ metaphorical illustration of "pattern" as a wheel with spokes (the overt or criminal acts of
must not be read in isolation but rather, must be interpreted in relation to the other provisions of said the accused) meeting at a common center (the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth) and with a rim (the
law. It is a basic rule of statutory construction that to ascertain the meaning of a law, the same must be overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy) of the wheel enclosing the spokes, is off tangent. Their position
read in its entirety.91 Section 1 taken in relation to Section 4 suggests that there is something to plunder that two spokes suffice to make a wheel, even without regard to the relationship the spokes bear to each
beyond simply the number of acts involved and that a grand scheme to amass, accumulate or acquire ill- other clearly demonstrates the absurdity of their view, for how can a wheel with only two spokes which
gotten wealth is contemplated by R.A. No. 7080. Sections 1 and 2 pertain only to the nature and are disjointed function properly?
quantitative means or acts by which a public officer, by himself or in connivance with other persons, That "pattern" is an amorphous concept even in U.S. jurisprudence where the term is reasonably defined
"amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth." Section 4, on the other hand, requires the presence is precisely the point of the incisive concurring opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Northwestern where
of elements other than those enumerated in Section 2 to establish that the crime of plunder has been he invited a constitutional challenge to the RICO law on "void-for-vagueness" ground. 98 The RICO law is a
committed because it speaks of the necessity to establish beyond reasonable doubt a "pattern of overt or federal statute in the United States that provides for both civil and criminal penalties for violation
criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy." therefor. It incorporates by reference twenty-four separate federal crimes and eight types of state
Clearly, it will not suffice that the "illegal wealth" amassed is at least Fifty Million Pesos and that this was felonies.99 One of the key elements of a RICO violation is that the offender is engaged in a "pattern of
acquired by any two or more of the acts described in Section 1(d); it is necessary that these acts racketeering activity."100 The RICO law defines the phrase "pattern of racketeering activity" as requiring
constitute a "combination or series" of acts done in furtherance of "the scheme or conspiracy to amass, "at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of 18 USCS §
accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth", and which constitute "a pattern of overt or criminal acts 1961, and within ten years (excluding any period of imprisonment) after the commission of a prior act of
indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy." racketeering activity."101 Incidentally, the Solicitor General claims that R.A. No. 7080 is an entirely
That pattern is an essential element of the crime of plunder is evident from a reading of the assailed law different law from the RICO law. The deliberations in Congress reveal otherwise. As observed by Rep.
in its entirety. It is that which would distinguish plunder from isolated criminal acts punishable under the Pablo Garcia, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, R.A. No. 7080 was
Revised Penal Code and other laws, for without the existence a "pattern of overt or criminal acts patterned after the RICO law.102
indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy" to acquire ill-gotten wealth, a person committing several In Northwestern, conceding that "[the U.S. Congress] has done nothing . . . further to illuminate RICO’s
or even all of the acts enumerated in Section 1(d) cannot be convicted for plunder, but may be convicted key requirement of a pattern of racketeering," the U.S. Supreme Court, through Justice William J.
only for the specific crimes committed under the pertinent provisions of the Revised Penal Code or other Brennan, Jr., undertook the task of developing a meaningful concept of "pattern" within the existing
laws. statutory framework.103 Relying heavily on legislative history, the US Supreme Court in that case
For this reason, I do not agree that Section 4 is merely a rule of evidence or a rule of procedure. It does construed "pattern" as requiring "continuity plus relationship."104 The US Supreme Court formulated the
not become such simply because its caption states that it is, although its wording indicates otherwise. On "relationship requirement" in this wise: "Criminal conduct forms a pattern if it embraces criminal acts
the contrary, it is of substantive character because it spells out a distinctive element of the crime which that have the same or similar purposes, results, participants, victims, or methods of commission, or
has to be established, i.e., an overall unlawful "scheme or conspiracy" indicated by a "pattern of overt or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated events." 105 Continuity is
criminal acts" or means or similar schemes "to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth." clarified as "both a closed and open-ended concept, referring either to a closed period of repeated
The meaning of the phrase "pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conduct, or to past conduct that by its nature projects into the future with a threat of repetition." 106
conspiracy," however, escapes me. As in "combination" and "series," R.A. No. 7080 does not provide a In his separate concurring opinion, Justice Scalia rejected the majority’s formulation. The "talismanic
definition of "pattern" as well as "overall unlawful scheme." Reference to the legislative history of R.A. phrase" of "continuity plus relationship" is, as put by Justice Scalia, about as helpful as advising the courts
No. 7080 for guidance as to the meanings of these concepts would be unavailing, since the records of the that "life is a fountain." He writes:
deliberations in Congress are silent as to what the lawmakers mean by these terms. x x x Thus, when §1961(5) says that a pattern "requires at least two acts of racketeering activity" it is
Resort to the dictionary meanings of "pattern" and "scheme" is, in this case, wholly inadequate. These describing what is needful but not sufficient. (If that were not the case, the concept of "pattern" would
words are defined as: have been unnecessary, and the statute could simply have attached liability to "multiple acts of
pattern: an arrangement or order of things or activity.92 racketeering activity"). But what that something more is, is beyond me. As I have suggested, it is also
scheme: design; project; plot.93 beyond the Court. Today’s opinion has added nothing to improve our prior guidance, which has created a
At most, what the use of these terms signifies is that while multiplicity of the acts (at least two or more) kaleidoscope of Circuit positions, except to clarify that RICO may in addition be violated when there is a
is necessary, this is not sufficient to constitute plunder. As stated earlier, without the element of "pattern" "threat of continuity." It seems to me this increases rather than removes the vagueness. There is no
indicative of an "overall unlawful scheme," the acts merely constitute isolated or disconnected criminal reason to believe that the Court of Appeals will be any more unified in the future, than they have in the
offenses punishable by the Revised Penal Code or other special laws. past, regarding the content of this law.
The commission of two or more of the acts falling under Section 1(d) is no guarantee that they fall into a That situation is bad enough with respect to any statute, but it is intolerable with respect to RICO. For it is
"pattern" or "any arrangement or order." It is not the number of acts but the relationship that they bear not only true, as Justice Marshall commented in Sedima, S.P.R.L. vs. Imrex Co., 473 U.S. 479 x x x, that our
to each other or to some external organizing principle that renders them "ordered" or "arranged": interpretation of RICO has "quite simply revolutionize[d] private litigation" and "validate[d] the
A pattern is an arrangement or order of things, or activity, and the mere fact that there are a number of federalization of broad areas of state common law of frauds," x x x so that clarity and predictability in
predicates is no guarantee that they fall into an arrangement or order. It is not the number of predicates RICO’s civil applications are particularly important; but it is also true that RICO, since it has criminal
but the relationship that they bear to each other or to some external organizing principle that renders applications as well, must, even in its civil applications, possess the degree of certainty required for
them ‘ordered’ or ‘arranged.’ 94 criminal laws x x x. No constitutional challenge to this law has been raised in the present case, and so that
In any event, it is hardly possible that two predicate acts can form a pattern: issue is not before us. That the highest court in the land has been unable to derive from this statute
The implication is that while two acts are necessary, they may not be sufficient. Indeed, in common anything more than today’s meager guidance bodes ill for the day when that challenge is presented. 107
parlance, two of anything will not generally form a ‘pattern.’ 95 It bears noting that in Northwestern the constitutionality of the RICO law was not challenged.108 After
In H. J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. et al.96 (hereinafter referred to as Northwestern), the U.S. Northwestern, the U.S. Supreme Court has so far declined the opportunity to hear cases in which the
Court reiterated the foregoing doctrine: void-for-vagueness challenge to the pattern requirement was raised. 109

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Admittedly, at the district courts level, the state statutes (referred to as Little RICOS)110 have so far Section 2 of R.A. No. 7080 states that "[a]ny person who participated with the said public officer in the
successfully survived constitutional challenge on void-for-vagueness ground. However, it must be commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such
underscored that, unlike R.A. No. 7080, these state anti-racketeering laws have invariably provided for offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and
a reasonably clear, comprehensive and understandable definition of "pattern." 111 For instance, in one extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court."
state, the pattern requirement specifies that the related predicate acts must have, among others, the Both parties share the view that the law as it is worded makes it possible for a person who participates in
same or similar purpose, result, principal, victims or methods of commission and must be connected with the commission of only one of the component crimes constituting plunder to be liable as co-conspirator
"organized crime.112 In four others, their pattern requirement provides that two or more predicate acts for plunder, not merely the component crime in which he participated. 116 While petitioner concedes that
should be related to the affairs of the enterprise, are not isolated, are not closely related to each other it is easy to ascertain the penalty for an accomplice or accessory under R.A. No. 7080, such is not the
and connected in point of time and place, and if they are too closely related, they will be treated as a case with respect to a co-principal of the accused.117 In other words, a person who conspires with the
single act.113 In two other states, pattern requirements provide that if the acts are not related to a accused in the commission of only one of the component crimes may be prosecuted as co-principal for
common scheme, plan or purpose, a pattern may still exist if the participants have the mental capacity the component crime, or as co-principal for the crime of plunder, depending on the interpretation of the
required for the predicate acts and are associated with the criminal enterprise.114 prosecutor. The unfettered discretion effectively bestowed on law enforcers by the aforequoted clause in
All the foregoing state statutes require that the predicate acts be related and that the acts occur within determining the liability of the participants in the commission of one or more of the component crimes
a specified time frame. of a charge for plunder undeniably poses the danger of arbitrary enforcement of the law.118
Clearly, "pattern" has been statutorily defined and interpreted in countless ways by circuit courts in the R.A. No. 7080 does not clearly state
United States. Their divergent conclusions have functioned effectively to create variant criminal the prescriptive period of the crime of plunder.
offenses.115 This confusion has come about notwithstanding that almost all these state laws have Section 6 of R.A. No. 7080 provides that the crime punishable under said Act shall prescribe in twenty
respectively statutorily defined "pattern". In sharp contrast, R.A. No. 7080, as earlier pointed out, lacks (20) years. Considering that the law was designed to cover a "combination or series of overt or criminal
such crucial definition. As to what constitutes pattern within the meaning of R.A. No. 7080 is left to the acts," or "a pattern of overt or criminal acts," from what time shall the period of prescription be
ad hoc interpretation of prosecutors and judges. Neither the text of R.A. No. 7080 nor legislative history reckoned? From the first, second, third or last act of the series or pattern? What shall be the time gap
afford any guidance as to what factors may be considered in order to prove beyond reasonable doubt between two succeeding acts? If the last act of a series or combination was committed twenty or more
"pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy." years after the next preceding one, would not the crime have prescribed, thereby resulting in the total
Be that as it may, it is glaringly fallacious to argue that "series" simply means a "repetition" or "pertaining extinction of criminal liability under Article 89(b) of the Revised Penal Code? In antithesis, the RICO law
to two or more" and "combination" is the "result or product or product of combining." Whether two or affords more clarity and definiteness in describing "pattern of racketeering activity" as "at least two acts
more or at least three acts are involved, the majority would interpret the phrase "combinations' or of racketeering activity, one of which occurred within ten years (excluding any period of imprisonment)
"series" only in terms of number of acts committed. They entirely overlook or ignore Section 4 which after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity."119119 119 The U.S. state statutes similarly
requires "a pattern of overt of criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy" to provide specific time frames within which racketeering acts are committed.
convict. The Solicitor General enjoins the Court to rectify the deficiencies in the law by judicial construction.
If the elements of the offense are as what the majority has suggested, the crime of plunder could have However, it certainly would not be feasible for the Court to interpret each and every ambiguous provision
been defined in the following manner: without falling into the trap of judicial legislation. A statute should be construed to avoid constitutional
Where a public official, by himself or in conspiracy with others, amasses or acquires money or property question only when an alternative interpretation is possible from its language.120 Borrowing from the
by committing two or more acts in violation of Section 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. opinion of the court121 in Northwestern,122 the law "may be a poorly drafted statute; but rewriting it is a
3019), or Articles 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216 and 217 of the Revised Penal Code, he shall be guilty job for Congress, if it so inclined, and not for this Court." But where the law as the one in question is void
of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. on its face for its patent ambiguity in that it lacks comprehensible standards that men of common
The above would be a straightforward and objective definition of the crime of plunder. However, this intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, the Court cannot
would render meaningless the core phrases "a combination or series of" "overt or criminal acts indicative breathe life to it through the guise of construction.
of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy," or the phrase "any combination or series of the following R.A. No. 7080 effectively eliminates mens rea
means or similar schemes" or "a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful or criminal intent as an element of the crime of plunder.
scheme or conspiracy." Section 4 provides that for the purpose of establishing the crime of plunder, "it shall not be necessary to
But that obviously is not the definition of the crime of plunder under R.A. 7080. There is something prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to
more. A careful reading of the law would unavoidably compel a conclusion that there should be a amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable a
connecting link among the "means or schemes" comprising a "series or combination" for the purpose of pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy."
acquiring or amassing "ill-gotten wealth." The bond or link is an "overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy The majority would interpret this section to mean that the prosecution has the burden of "showing a
mentioned in Section 4. The law contemplates a combination or series of criminal acts in plunder done by combination or series resulting in the crime of plunder." And, once the minimum requirements for a
the accused "in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten combination or a series of acts are met, there is no necessity for the prosecution to prove each and every
wealth." It does not postulate acts committed randomly, separately or independently or sporadically. other act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate, or
Otherwise stated, if the legislature intended to define plunder as the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth in acquire ill-gotten wealth.123
the manner espoused by the majority, the use in R.A. 7080 of such words and phrases as "combination" By its language, Section 4 eliminates proof of each and every component criminal act of plunder by the
and "series of overt or criminal acts" xxx "in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy" is absolutely accused and limits itself to establishing just the pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of unlawful
pointless and meaningless. scheme or conspiracy. The law, in effect, penalizes the accused on the basis of a proven scheme or
R.A. No. 7080 makes it possible for a person conspiracy to commit plunder without the necessity of establishing beyond reasonable doubt each and
conspiring with the accused in committing every criminal act done by the accused in the crime of plunder. To quote Fr. Bernas again: "How can you
one of the acts constituting the charge have a ‘series’ of criminal acts if the elements that are supposed to constitute the series are not proved
of plunder to be convicted for the same crime. to be criminal?"124

56
Moreover, by doing away with proof beyond reasonable doubt of each and every criminal act done by to ease the prosecution’s party to conviction, to strip the defendant of such benefit as he derived at
the accused in the furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient common law from innocence of evil purpose, and to circumscribe the freedom heretofore allowed juries.
just to prove a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy, Such a manifest impairment of the immunities of the individual should not be extended to common law
the Plunder Law effectively eliminated the mens rea or criminal intent as an element of the crime. crimes on judicial initiative.
Because of this, it is easier to convict for plunder and sentence the accused to death than to convict him In the same breath, Justice Florenz Regalado expreses serious doubts as to the authority of the
for each of the component crimes otherwise punishable under the Revised Penal Code and other laws legislature to complex mala in se crimes with mala prohibita, saying:
which are bailable offenses. The resultant absurdity strikes at the very heart if the constitutional x x x although there has been a tendency to penalize crimes under special laws with penalties
guarantees of due process and equal protection. "borrowed" from the Code, there is still the question of legislative authority to consolidate crimes
Plunder is a malum in se. punished under different statutes. Worse, where one is punished under the Code and the other by the
The acts enumerated in Section 1(d) are mostly defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, e.g. special law, both of these contingencies had not been contemplated when the concept of a delito
malversation, estafa, bribery and other crimes committed by public officers. As such, they are by nature complejo was engrafted into the Code.133
mala in se crimes. Since intent is an essential element of these crimes, then, with more reason that Petitioner is not estopped from questioning
criminal intent be established in plunder which, under R.A. No. 7659, is one of the heinous crimes125 as the constitutionality of R.A. No. 7080.
pronounced in one of its whereas clauses.126 The case at bar has been subject to controversy principally due to the personalities involved herein. The
The fact that the acts enumerated in Section 1(d) of R.A. 7080 were made criminal by special law does fact that one of petitioner’s counsels134 was a co-sponsor of the Plunder Law135 and petitioner himself
not necessarily make the same mala prohibita where criminal intent is not essential, although the term voted for its passage when he was still a Senator would not in any put him in estoppel to question its
refers generally to acts made criminal by special laws. For there is a marked difference between the two. constitutionality. The rule on estoppel applies to questions of fact, not of law.136 Moreover, estoppel
According to a well-known author on criminal law: should be resorted to only as a means of preventing injustice.137 To hold that petitioner is estopped from
There is a distinction between crimes which are mala in se, or wrongful from their nature, such as theft, questioning the validity of R.A. No. 7080 because he had earlier voted for its passage would result in
rape, homicide, etc., and those that are mala prohibita, or wrong merely because prohibited by statute, injustice not only to him, but to all others who may be held liable under this statute. In People vs. Vera,138
such as illegal possession of firearms. citing the U.S. case of Attorney General v. Perkins, the Court held:
Crimes mala in se are those so serious in their effects on society as to call for almost unanimous x x x The idea seems to be that the people are estopped from questioning the validity of a law enacted by
condemnation of its members; while crimes mala prohibita are violations of mere rules of convenience their representatives; that to an accusation by the people of Michigan of usurpation upon their
designed to secure a more orderly regulation of the affairs of society. (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, Rawle’s government, a statute enacted by the people of Michigan is an adequate statute relied on in justification
3rd Revision) is unconstitutional, it is a statute only in form, and lacks the force of law, and is of no more saving effect
(1) In acts mala in se, the intent governs; but in those mala prohibit the only inquiry is, has the law been to justify action under it it had never been enacted. the constitution is the supreme law, and to its
violated? (People vs. Kibler, 106 N.Y., 321, cited in the case of U.S. vs. Go Chico, 14 Phil. 132) behests the courts, the legislature, and the people must bow. x x x139
Criminal intent is not necessary where the acts are prohibited for reasons of public policy, as in illegal The Court should not sanction the use of an equitable remedy to defeat the ends of justice by permitting
possession of firearms. (People vs. Conosa, C.A., 45 O.G. 3953) a person to be deprived of his life and liberty under an invalid law.
(2) The term mala in se refers generally to felonies defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code. Undoubtedly, the reason behind the enactment of R.A. 7080 is commendable. It was a response to the
When the acts are inherently immoral, they are mala in se, even if punished by special laws. On the other felt need at the time that existing laws were inadequate to penalize the nature and magnitude of
hand, there are crimes in the Revised Penal Code which were originally defined and penalized by special corruption that characterized a "previous regime."140 However, where the law, such as R.A. 7080, is so
laws. Among them are possession and use of opium, malversation, brigandage, and libel. 127 indefinite that the line between innocent and condemned conduct becomes a matter of guesswork, the
The component acts constituting plunder, a heinous crime, being inherently wrongful and immoral, are indefiniteness runs afoul of due process concepts which require that persons be given full notice of what
patently mala in se, even if punished by a special law and accordingly, criminal intent must clearly be to avoid, and that the discretion of law enforcement officials, with the attendant dangers of arbitrary and
established together with the other elements of the crime; otherwise, no crime is committed. By discriminatory enforcement, be limited by explicit legislative standards. 141 It obfuscates the mind to
eliminating mens rea, R.A. 7080 does not require the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the ponder that such an ambiguous law as R.A. No. 7080 would put on the balance the life and liberty of the
component acts constituting plunder and imposes a lesser burden of proof on the prosecution, thus accused against whom all the resources of the State are arrayed. It could be used as a tool against
paving the way for the imposition of the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death on the accused, in plain political enemies and a weapon of hate and revenge by whoever wields the levers of power.
violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. Evidently, the authority of I submit that the charge against petitioner in the Amended Information in Criminal Case No. 26558 does
the legislature to omit the element of scienter in the proof of a crime refers to regulatory measures in the not constitute "plunder" under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by R.A. No. 7659. If at all, the acts charged
exercise of police power, where the emphasis of the law is to secure a more orderly regulations of the may constitute offenses punishable under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019) or the
offense of society, rather than the punishment of the crimes. So that in mala prohibita prosecutions, the Revised Penal Code. Hence, the information charging petitioner with plunder must be quashed. Such
element of criminal intent is a requirement for conviction and must be provided in the special law quashal, however, should be without prejudice to the filing of new informations for acts under R.A. No.
penalizing what are traditionally mala in se crimes. As correctly pointed out by petitioner,128 citing U.S. 3019, of the Revised Penal Code and other laws. Double jeopardy would not bar the filing of the same
Supreme Court decisions, the Smith Act was ruled to require "intent" to advocate129 and held to require because the dismissal of the case is made with the express consent of the petitioner-accused. 142
knowledge of illegal advocacy.130 And in another case,131 and ordinance making illegal the possession of In view of the foregoing, I vote to GRANT the petition.
obscene books was declared unconstitutional for lack of scienter requirement.
Mens rea is a substantive due process requirement under the Constitution, and this is a limitation on SEPARATE DISSENTING OPINION
police power. Additionally, lack of mens rea or a clarifying scienter requirement aggravates the vagueness PARDO, J.:
of a statute. With due respect, I vote to grant the petition on the second ground raised therein, that is, multiplicity of
In Morisette v. U.S.132 the U.S. Supreme Court underscored the stultifying effect of eliminating mens rea, offenses charged in the amended information.1 Consequently, the resolution of the Sandiganbayan must
thus: be set aside, and the case remanded to the Ombudsman for the amendment of the information to
The Government asks us by a feat of construction radically to change the weights and balances in the charge only a single offense.
scales of justice. The purpose and obvious effect of doing away with the requirement of a guilty intent is

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In my view, it is unnecessary to rule on the unconstitutionality of the entire law, 2 R. A. No. 7080, as SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. – For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to
amended by R. A. No. 7659, although I share the opinion of the dissenting justices in the case of People v. prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to
Echagaray,3 that the heinous crime law is unconstitutional. Hence, the amendments to the plunder law amass, accumulate, or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt
prescribing the death penalty therefor are unconstitutional. I am of the view that the plunder law a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy.
penalizes acts that are mala in se, and consequently, the charges must be the specific acts alleged to be In every criminal prosecution, the law recognizes certain elements as material or essential. Calling a
in violation of the law, committed with malice and criminal intent. At any rate, I venture the view that particular fact an "essential element" carries certain legal consequences. In this case, the consequence
Section 4, R. A. No. 7080, must be interpreted as requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt of all the that matters is that the Sandiganbayan cannot convict the accused unless it unanimously 5 finds that the
elements of plunder as prescribed in the law, including the elements of the component crimes, prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt each element of the crime of plunder.
otherwise, the section will be unconstitutional. What factual elements must be proved beyond reasonable doubt to constitute the crime of plunder?
Footnotes Ordinarily, the factual elements that make up a crime are specified in the law that defines it. Under R.A.
1
Petition, Annex "B", Motion to Quash, Ground II. No 7080, as amended, the essential elements of the crime of plunder are: a) that the offender is a public
2
‘The Court will not pass upon a constitutional question although properly presented by the officer; b) that he amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of
record if the case can be disposed of on some other ground." (Laurel v. Garcia, 187 SCRA 797, overt or criminal acts described in Section 1 (d), to wit:
813 [1990], citing Siler v. Louisville and Nashville R. Co., 312 U.S. 175 [1909]; Railroad 1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public
Commission v. Pullman Co., 312 U.S. 496 [1941]; Lalican v. Vergara, 342 Phil. 485, 498 [1997]; treasury;
Mirasol v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 128448, February 1, 2001. 2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks, or any other
3
335 Phil. 343 [1997]. form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or
DISSENTING OPINION project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned;
SANDOVAL–GUTIERREZ, J.: 3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government
At times when speaking against popular views can subject a member of this Court to all sorts of unfair or any of its subdivision, agencies or instrumentalities or government –owned or controlled corporations
criticism and pressure from the media, the lure not to wield the judicial pen is at its crest. Nevertheless, I and their subsidiaries;
cannot relent to such enticement. Silence under such circumstances may mean not only weakness, but 4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly, or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form
also insensibility to the legal consequence of a constitutional adjudication bound to affect not only the of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business enterprise or
litigants, but the citizenry as well. Indeed, the core issue in this case is highly significant, the resolution of undertaking;
which is inevitably historical. Thus, today, I prefer to take a stand and, therefore, dissent from the 5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or
majority opinion. implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular person or special interests; or
It is beyond dispute that Republic Act No. 7080 (R.A. No. 7080),1 entitled "An Act Penalizing the Crime of 6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection, or influence to
Plunder," is controversial and far-reaching. Nonetheless, it is my view that it is also vague and fuzzy, unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino
inexact and sweeping. This brings us to the query - may R.A. No. 7080 be enforced as valid and its people and the Republic of the Philippines.
shortcomings supplied by judicial interpretation? My answer, to be explained later, is "NO." and c) that the aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth is at least Fifty Million Pesos
As a basic premise, we have to accept that even a person accused of a crime possesses inviolable rights (P50,000,000.00).6
founded on the Constitution which even the welfare of the society as a whole cannot override. The rights Does the phrase "combination or series of overt or criminal acts described in Section 1 (d)" mean that
guaranteed to him by the Constitution are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social the "criminal acts" merely constitute the means to commit plunder? Or does it mean that those "criminal
interest. Thus, no matter how socially-relevant the purpose of a law is, it must be nullified if it tramples acts," are essential elements of plunder?
upon the basic rights of the accused. When Section 4 of R.A. No. 7080 mandates that it shall not be necessary for the prosecution to prove
Enshrined in our Constitution is the ultimate guaranty that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or each and every criminal act done by the accused, the legislature, in effect, rendered the enumerated
property without due process of law."2 This provision in the Bill of Rights serves as a protection of the "criminal acts" under Section 1 (d) merely as means and not as essential elements of plunder. This is
Filipino people against any form of arbitrariness on the part of the government, whether committed by constitutionally infirmed and repugnant to the basic idea of justice and fair play. 7 As a matter of due
the legislature, the executive or the judiciary. Any government act that militates against the ordinary process, the prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt every fact necessary to
norms of justice and fair play is considered an infraction of the due process; and this is true whether the constitute the crime with which the defendant is charged. The State may not specify a lesser burden of
denial involves violation merely of the procedure prescribed by law or affects the very validity of the law proof for an element of a crime.8 With more reason, it should not be allowed to go around the principle
itself.3 by characterizing an essential element of plunder merely as a "means" of committing the crime. For the
The same Due Process Clause protects an accused against conviction except upon proof beyond result is the reduction of the burden of the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged. The reason reasonable doubt.
for this was enunciated in In Re Winship:4 "[t]he accused during a criminal prosecution has at stake Let me elucidate on the vices that come with Section 4.
interest of immense importance, both because of the possibility that he may lose his liberty (or life) upon First, treating the specific "criminal acts" merely as means to commit the greater crime of plunder, in
conviction and because of the certainty that he would be stigmatized by the conviction." In view thereof, effect, allows the imposition of the death penalty even if the Justices of the Sandiganbayan did not
any attempt on the part of the legislature to diminish the requirement of proof in criminal cases should "unanimously" find that the accused are guilty beyond reasonable doubt of those "criminal acts." The
be discouraged. three Justices need only agree that the accused committed at least two of the criminal acts, even if not
I proved by evidence beyond reasonable doubt. They do not have to agree unanimously on which two.
R.A. No. 7080, as amended, is unconstitutional. Albeit the legislature did not directly lower the degree of Let us consider the present case against former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The accusatory portion
proof required in the crime of plunder from proof beyond reasonable doubt to mere preponderance of of the information in Criminal Case No. 26558 charges Mr. Estrada and others of willfully, unlawfully and
or substantial evidence, it nevertheless lessened the burden of the prosecution by dispensing with proof criminally amassing, accumulating and acquiring ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount of
of the essential elements of plunder. Let me quote the offending provision: P4,097,804,173.17 more or less, through a combination and series of overt and criminal acts described
as follows:

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"a) by receiving, collecting, directly or indirectly, on many instances, so called "jueteng money" from And fourth, plunder is a very serious offense. What is at stake under the law is not only the liberty of the
gambling operators in connivance with co-accused Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, Yolanda Ricaforte and Edward accused but his life and property as well. Thus, it will be extremely unjust to lessen the prosecution’s
Serapio, as witnessed by Gov. Luis Chavit Singson, among other witnesses, in the aggregate amount of burden of proof to such a degree not commensurate to what the accused stands to suffer. If a person will
FIVE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION PESOS (P545,000,000.00), more or less, in consideration of their lose his life, justice requires that every fact on which his guilt may be inferred must be proved beyond
protection from arrest or interference by law enforcers in their illegal "jueteng" activities; and reasonable doubt.
b) by misappropriating, converting and misusing his gain and benefit public fund in the amount of ONE Providing a rule of evidence which does not require proof beyond reasonable doubt to establish every
HUNDRED THIRTY MILLION PESOS (P130,000,000.00), more or less, representing a portion of the One fact necessary to constitute the crime is a clear infringement of due process. While the principles of the
Hundred Seventy Million Pesos (P170,000,000.00) tobacco excise tax share allocated for the Province of law of evidence are the same whether applied on civil or criminal trials, they are more strictly observed
Ilocos Sur under R.A. No. 7171, in conspiracy with co-accused Charlie "Atong" Ang, Alma Alfaro, Eleuterio in criminal cases.12 Thus, while the legislature of a state has the power to prescribe new or alter existing
Tan a.k.a Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy., and Jane Doe a.k.a Delia Rajas as witnesses by Gov. Luis rules of evidence, or to prescribe methods of proof, the same must not violate constitutional
"Chavit" Singson, among other witnesses; and requirements or deprive any person of his constitutional rights. 13 Unfortunately, under R.A. No. 7080,
c) by directing, ordering and compelling the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social the State did not only specify a lesser burden of proof to sustain an element of the crime; it even
Security System (SSS) to purchase and buy a combined total of P681,733,000. shares of stock of Belle dispensed with proof by not considering the specific "criminal acts" as essential elements. That it was
Corporation in the aggregate value of One Billion Eight Hundred Forty Seven Pesos and Fifty Centavos the clear intention of the legislature is evident from the Senate deliberation, thus:
(P1,847,578,057.50), for the purpose of collecting for his personal gain and benefit, as in fact he did "Senator Guingona. Since it is a series or a scheme,what amount of evidence will, therefore, be
collect and receive the sum of ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND required? Must there be a pattern of the criminal acts? Must there be a series of briberies, for example?
PESOS (P189,700,000.00), as commission from said stock purchase; and Or, can there be only one?
d) by unjustly enriching himself in the amount of THREE BILLION TWO HUNDRED THIRTY THREE MILLION Senator Tanada. Under Section 4 of the bill, Mr. President, it is provided that:
ONE HUNDRED FOUR THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY THREE PESOS AND SEVENTEEN CENTAVOS "For purposes of establishing the OFFENSE, of plunder, it shall not be necessary to prove each and every
(P3,233,104,173.17) comprising his unexplained wealth, acquired, accumulated and amassed by him criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, accumulate, or
under his account name "Jose Velarde" with Equitable PCI Bank." acquire ill-gotten wealth… But, there must be enough evidence "sufficient to establish beyond reasonable
Since it is not necessary to prove each criminal act, the inevitable conclusion is that Mr. Estrada may be doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy."
convicted of the crime of plunder without the Justices of the Sandiganbayan "unanimously" deciding So, that is the quantum of evidence that would be required under this proposal measure.
which two of the four criminal acts have actually been committed. In short, all that R.A. No. 7080 Senator Guingona. That is sufficient to establish the prima facie case.14
requires is that each Justice must be convinced of the existence of a "combination or series." As to which xxxxxx
criminal acts constitute a combination or series, the Justices need not be in full agreement. Surely, this Senator Romulo. That, perhaps, is a good provision of the bill. But, may I ask, Mr. President, what is in
would cover-up a wide disagreement among them about just what the accused actually did or did not do. this bill that would insure that there would be a speedier process by which this crime of plunder would
Stated differently, even if the Justices are not unified in their determination on what criminal acts were readily and immediately processed and convicted or acquitted than is now existing in present laws?
actually committed by the accused, which need not be proved under the law, still, they could convict him Senator Tanada. Yes, x x x.
of plunder. Now, on the second point, Mr. President, I believe that what could make faster and speedier prosecutions
Considering that what R.A. No. 7080 punishes is the plurality of criminal acts indicative of the grand of these grafters would be a change that will be authorized in this bill, at least, in the filing of information
scheme or conspiracy to amass ill-gotten wealth, it is imperative to focus upon the individual "criminal against the perpetrators. Under the existing criminal procedure, as I said earlier, there can only be one
acts" in order to assure the guilt of the accused of plunder. offense charged per information. So, if there is going to be a series of overt or criminal acts committed by
Second, R.A. No. 7080 lumps up into one new offense of plunder six (6) distinct crimes which by the grafter, then that would necessitate the filing of so many informations against him. Now, if this bill
themselves are currently punishable under separate statutes or provisions of law. The six (6) separate becomes a law, then that means that there can be only one information filed against the alleged grafter.
crimes become mere "means or similar schemes" to commit the single offense of plunder. It bears And the evidence that will be required to convict him would not be evidence for each and every
emphasis that each of the separate offenses is a crime mala in se. The commission of any offense mala in individual criminal act but only evidence sufficient to establish the conspiracy or scheme to commit
se is inherently accompanied by a guilty mind or a criminal intent.9 Unfortunately, R.A. No. 7080 this crime of plunder.15
converted the six mala in se offenses into one crime which is mala prohibita wherein the intent becomes xxxxxx
insignificant. Upon the commission of the proscribed act, without proof of intent, the law is considered Senator Guingona. May I just be clarified Mr. President. In this Section 4, a pattern of the criminal acts is
violated.10 Consequently, even acts recklessly committed (i.e. without intent) can be punished by death. all that is required. Would this pattern of criminal acts be also sufficient to establish a prima facie case?
Third, Section 4 mandates that it shall not be necessary for the prosecution to prove each and every Senator Tanada. Mr. President, under Section 4, it would not only be sufficient to establish a prima facie
criminal act done by the accused x x x it being sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of case. It would be sufficient to establish guilt as long as the evidence, necessary to establish guilt beyond
overt or criminal acts. By its own terminology, Section 4 requires that the "pattern" be proved by reasonable doubt is presented."16
evidence beyond reasonable doubt. Initially, we must disassociate the specific "criminal acts" from the In dispensing with proof of each criminal act, the clear objective of Congress is to render it less difficult
"pattern of criminal acts." These two phrases do not refer to one and the same thing. Pattern, as defined for the prosecution to prove the crime of plunder. While this presupposes a noble intention, I do not
in the dictionary, means an established mode of behavior.11 In the crime of plunder, the existence of a think there is a sufficient justification. I, too, have the strong desire to eliminate the sickness of
"pattern" can only be inferred from the specific "criminal acts" done by the accused. Several queries may corruption pervading in the Philippine government, but more than anything else, I believe there are
be raised to determine the existence of a "pattern." Are these criminal acts related or tied to one certain principles which must be maintained if we want to preserve fairness in our criminal justice
another? Is the subsequent criminal act a mere continuation of the prior criminal act? Do these criminal system. If the prosecution is not mandated to prove the specific "criminal acts," then how can it establish
acts complement one another as to bring about a single result? Inevitably, one must focus first on each the existence of the requisite "combination or series" by proof beyond reasonable doubt?
criminal act to ascertain the relationship or connection it bears with the other criminal acts, and from II
there determine whether a certain "pattern" exists. But how could "pattern" be proved beyond Another valid constitutional objection to R.A. No. 7080 is the vagueness of the term "pattern." As stated
reasonable doubt when in the first place the specific "criminal acts" from which such pattern may be by Mr. Justice Kapunan, in his Dissent, the concept of "pattern of overt or criminal acts" embodied in the
inferred are not even required to be proved? law was derived by Congress from the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute. 17 I

59
am, therefore, constrained to refer to US law and jurisprudence. "Pattern" as defined in the RICO statute carry with it any limiting definition and can only be read in context. Indeed, there is no doubt that the
means "as requiring at least two acts of racketeering activity….the last of which occurred within ten invalidity of the law based on vagueness is not merely debatable - it is manifest. Thus, this Court should
years….after the commission of the prior act of racketeering activity.18 declare R.A. No. 7080 unconstitutional.
Mr. Justice Kapunan observed that unlike the RICO law, the law on plunder does not specify a) the III
number of criminal acts necessary before there could be a "pattern," as well as b) the period within Lastly, the terms "combination" and "series" are likewise vague. Hence, on the basis of the law, a
which the succeeding criminal acts should be committed. These failures render the law void for its conviction of an accused cannot be sustained. A statute that does not provide adequate standards for
vagueness and broadness. adjudication, by which guilt or innocence may be determined, should be struck down. 23 Crimes must be
Indeed, Congress left much to be desired. I am at a quandary on how many delictual acts are necessary defined in a statute with appropriate certainty and definiteness.24 The standards of certainty in a statute
to give rise to a "pattern of overt or criminal acts" in the crime of plunder. If there is no numerical prescribing punishment for offenses are higher than in those depending primarily on civil sanctions for
standard, then, how should the existence of "pattern" be ascertained? Should it be by proximity of time their enforcement.25 A penal statute should therefore be clear and unambiguous.26 It should explicitly
or of relationship? May an act committed two decades after the prior criminal act be linked with the establish the elements of the crime which it creates27 and provide some reasonably ascertainable
latter for the purpose of establishing a pattern? standards of guilt.28 It should not admit of such a double meaning that a citizen may act on one
It must be remembered that plunder, being a continuous offense, the "pattern of overt or criminal acts" conception of its requirements and the courts on another.29
can extend indefinitely, i.e., as long as the succeeding criminal acts may be linked to the initial criminal I agree with the observation of Mr. Justice Kapunan that "resort to the dictionary meaning of the terms
act. This will expose the person concerned to criminal prosecution ad infinitum. Surely, it will undermine ‘combination’ and ‘series’ as well as recourse to the deliberations of the lawmakers only serve to prove
the purpose of the statute of limitations, i.e., to discourage prosecution based on facts obscured by the that R.A. No. 7080 failed to satisfy the requirement of the Constitution on clarity and definiteness." The
passage of time, and to encourage law enforcement officials to investigate suspected criminal activity deliberations of our law-makers, as quoted verbatim in Justice Kapunan's Dissent, indeed, failed to shed
promptly.19 All these undesirable consequences arise from the fact that the plunder law fails to provide light on what constitute "combination" and "series."30
a period within which the next criminal act must be committed for the purpose of establishing a I believe this is fatal.
pattern. I believe R.A. No. 7080 should have provided a cut-off period after which a succeeding act may The essence of the law on plunder lies in the phrase "combination or series of overt or criminal acts." As
no longer be attached to the prior act for the purpose of establishing a pattern. In reiteration, the RICO can be gleaned from the Record of the Senate, the determining factor of R.A. 7080 is the plurality of the
law defines "pattern" as requiring at least two acts of racketeering activity… the last of which occurred overt acts or criminal acts under a grand scheme or conspiracy to amass ill-gotten wealth. Thus, even if
within ten years… after the commission of the prior act of racketeering activity. Such limitation prevents the amassed wealth equals or exceeds fifty million pesos, a person cannot be prosecuted for the crime of
a subsequent racketeering activity, separated by more than a decade from the prior act of racketeering, plunder if there is only a single criminal act.31
from being appended to the latter for the purpose of coming up with a pattern. We do not have the same Considering that without plurality of overt or criminal acts, there can be no crime of plunder, due process
safeguard under our law. of law demands that the terms "combination" and "series" be defined with exactitude in the law itself.
Significantly, in Sedima, S.P.R.L v. Imrex Co.,20 the United States Supreme Court expressed dismay that Equating these terms with mere "plurality" or "two or more," is inaccurate and speculative. For one, a
Congress has failed to properly define the term "pattern" at all but has simply required that a "pattern" "series" is a group of usually three or more things or events standing or succeeding in order and having
includes at least two acts of racketeering activity. The Court concluded that "pattern" involves something like relationship to each other.32 The Special Prosecution Division Panel defines it as "at least three of the
more than two acts, and after examining RICO’s legislative history, settled on "continuity plus acts enumerated under Section 1(d) thereof."33 But it can very well be interpreted as only one act
relationship" as the additional requirement. repeated at least three times. And the Office of the Solicitor General, invoking the deliberations of the
Years later, in H.C. Inc. v. The Northwestern Bell Tel.,21 the U.S. Supreme Court conceded that "the House of Representatives, contends differently. It defines the term series as a "repetition" or pertaining
continuity plus relationship" means different things to different circuits. Nevertheless, it held firm to the to "two or more."34 The disparity in the Prosecution and OSG’s positions clearly shows how imprecise the
Sedima requirement that "in order to establish a pattern, the government has to show "that the term "series" is.
racketeering predicates are related, and that they amount to or pose a threat of continued criminal This should not be countenanced. Crimes are not to be created by inference.35 No one may be required,
activity." Justice Scalia, in a concurring opinion in which three other justices joined, derided the at the peril of life, liberty or property to guess at, or speculate as to, the meaning of a penal statute. 36 An
"relationship" requirement as not "much more helpful [to the lower courts] than telling them to look for accused, regardless of who he is, is entitled to be tried only under a clear and valid law.
a "pattern" - - which is what the statute already says." As for the continuity requirement, Justice Scalia Respondents argue that the vagueness of R.A. No. 7080, as amended, is cured when the Information
said: "Today’s opinion has added nothing to improve our prior guidance, which has created a clearly specified the acts constituting the crime of plunder. I do not agree. It is the statute and not the
kaleidoscope of circuit positions, except to clarify that RICO may in addition be violated when there is a accusation under it that prescribes the rule to govern conduct and warns against aggression. 37 If on its
'threat of continuity'. It seems to me this increases rather than removes the vagueness. There is no face, a statute is repugnant to the due process clause on account of vagueness, specification in the
reason to believe that the Court of Appeals will be any more unified in the future, than they have in the Information of the details of the offense intended to be charged will not serve to validate it. 38
past, regarding the content of this law." On the argument that this Court may clarify the vague terms or explain the limits of the overbroad
Aware of the ambiguities present in the RICO law the drafters of the New York "Organized Crime Control provisions of R.A. No. 7080, I should emphasize that this Court has no power to legislate.
Act" (a progeny of RICO) now more specifically define "pattern of criminal activity" as conduct engaged in Precision must be the characteristic of penal legislation. For the Court to define what is a crime is to go
by persons charged in an enterprise corruption count constituting three or more criminal acts that (a) beyond the so-called positive role in the protection of civil liberties or promotion of public interests. As
were committed within ten years from the commencement of the criminal action; (b) are neither isolated stated by Justice Frankfurter, the Court should be wary of judicial attempts to impose justice on the
incidents, nor so closely related and connected in point of time or circumstance of commission as to community; to deprive it of the wisdom that comes from self-inflicted wounds and the strengths that
constitute a criminal offense or criminal transaction, as those terms are defined in section 40.10 of the grow with the burden of responsibility.39
criminal procedure law; and (c) are either: (i) related to one another through a common scheme or plan A statute which is so vague as to permit the infliction of capital punishment on acts already punished
or (ii) were committed, solicited, requested, importuned or intentionally aided by persons acting with the with lesser penalties by clearly formulated law is unconstitutional. The vagueness cannot be cured by
mental culpability required for the commission thereof and associated with or in the criminal judicial construction.
enterprise.22 Also, not to be glossed over is the fact that R.A. 7080, as amended, is a novel law. Hence, there is greater
If the term "pattern" as defined in the RICO law is continuously subjected to constitutional attacks need for precision of terms. The requirement that law creating a crime must be sufficiently explicit to
because of its alleged vagueness, how much more the term "pattern" in R.A. No. 7080 which does not inform those subject to it, what conduct on their part will render them liable to its penalties, has

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particular force when applied to statutes creating new offenses. For that reason, those statutes may not The doctrines of overbreadth and void-for-vagueness in Constitutional Law were developed in the
be generally understood, or may be subject of generally accepted construction.40 context of freedom of speech and of the press. However, they apply equally, if not more so, to capital
Today, I recall what James Madison remarked in presenting the Bill of Rights to the United States offenses. In the present case, what the law seeks to protect or regulate involves the deprivation of life
Congress in 1789: "if they (Bill of Rights) are incorporated into the Constitution, independent tribunals of itself and not merely the regulation of expression.
justice will consider themselves in a peculiar manner the guardians of those rights; they will be an In its early formulation, the overbreadth doctrine states that a governmental purpose to control or
impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power in the legislative or executive; and they will be prevent activities constitutionally subject to regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep
naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights expressly stipulated for in the Constitution by the unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms. 9
declaration of rights."41 Time did not render his foreboding stale. Indeed, in every constitutional A statute, especially one involving criminal prosecution, must be definite to be valid. A statute is vague or
democracy, the judiciary has become the vanguard of these rights. Now, it behooves this Court to strike overbroad, in violation of the due process clause, where its language does not convey sufficiently definite
an unconstitutional law. The result, I concede, may not be politically desirable and acceptable, warning to the average person as to the prohibited conduct. A statute is unconstitutionally vague if
nevertheless, I am fully convinced that it is constitutionally correct. people of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning.10
To recapitulate, R.A. No. 7080 is unconstitutional because it violates the DUE PROCESS CLAUSE of the It is not only prosecutors and judges who are concerned. The need for definiteness applies with greater
Constitution. The vagueness of its terms and its incorporation of a rule of evidence that reduces the force to the accused and those in positions where opportunities for them to commit the proscribed
burden of the prosecution in proving the crime of plunder tramples upon the basic constitutional rights offense are present. They must understand exactly what prohibited activity will be punished by capital
of the accused. punishment. Sadly, even the record of deliberations in Congress cited in the motion to quash shows that
In fine, I can only stress that the one on trial here is not Mr. Estrada, but R.A. No. 7080. The issue before even the members of the Senate who are illustrious lawyers found the Plunder Law vague.
this Court is not the guilt or innocence of the accused, but the constitutionality of the law. I vote to grant Under Section 1 of R.A. 7080 and Section 12 of R.A. 7659, the acquisition of at least P50,000,000.00 of ill-
the petition, not because I favor Mr. Estrada, but because I look beyond today and I see that this law can gotten wealth is punished by reclusion perpetua to death, if committed as follows:
pose a serious threat to the life, liberty and property of anyone who may come under its unconstitutional 1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on the public
provisions. As a member of this Court, my duty is to see to it that the law conforms to the Constitution treasury;
and no other. I simply cannot, in good conscience, fortify a law that is patently unconstitutional. 2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form
WHEREFORE, I vote to grant the petition. of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any government contract or
DISSENTING OPINION project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer concerned;
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: 3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National Government
It is an ancient maxim in law that in times of frenzy and excitement, when the desire to do justice is or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or controlled corporations
tarnished by anger and vengeance, there is always the danger that vital protections accorded an accused and their subsidiaries;
may be taken away. 4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other form
The Plunder Law and its amendment were enacted to meet a national problem demanding especially of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business enterprise or
immediate and effective attention. By its very nature, the law deserved or required legislative drafting of undertaking;
the highest order of clarity and precision. 5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or
Substantive due process dictates that there should be no arbitrariness, unreasonableness or ambiguity in implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; or
any law which deprives a person of his life or liberty. The trial and other procedures leading to conviction 6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to
may be fair and proper. But if the law itself is not reasonable legislation, due process is violated. Thus, an unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino
accused may not be sentenced to suffer the lethal injection or life imprisonment for an offense people and the Republic of the Philippines.11
understood only after judicial construction takes over where Congress left off, and interpretation supplies The crimes of malversation of public funds and bribery, which appear to be included among the modes of
its meaning. committing plunder, have acquired well-defined meanings under our present penal statutes. The accused
The Constitution guarantees both substantive and procedural due process1 as well as the right of the immediately knows how to defend and justify his actions. The prosecution understands the quantum and
accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. 2 Substantive due process nature of the evidence he has to produce in court. The Judge can apply the law with straight and positive
requires that a criminal statute should not be vague and uncertain.3 More explicitly – judgment because there is no vagueness about it.
That the terms of a penal statute. . . must be sufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to it The Sandiganbayan, however, has ruled that the Plunder Law does not make any reference to any specific
what conduct on their part will render them liable to penalties, is a well–recognized requirement, provision of laws other than R.A. 7080, as amended. It is an entirely new offense where malversation or
consonant alike with ordinary notions of fair play and the settled rules of law. And a statute which either bribery become "generic terms" according to the court. And since "generic" refers to an entire group or
forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must class of related matters, the discretion given to the prosecutor and the judge figuratively runs riot.
necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, violates the first essential of due process. 4 Under the same paragraph of the Plunder Law, malversation is lumped with "misuse of public funds."
The doctrine of constitutional uncertainty is also based on the right of the accused to be informed of the Misuse can be as innocuous as error or it can be as severe as corruption or embezzlement. The terms
nature and cause of the accusation.5 Fundamental fairness dictates that a person cannot be sent to jail "abuse," "distortion," "misapplication," "mismanagement," "poor stewardship," "malpractice,"
for a crime that he cannot with reasonable certainty know he was committing.6 Statutes defining crimes "debasement," or "breach of trust," all conceivably fall under the generic term "misuse." Exactly when
run afoul of the due process clause if they fail to give adequate guidance to those who would be law- does an administrative offense of misuse become the capital crime of plunder? What degree of misuse is
abiding, to advise defendants of the nature of the offense with which they are charged or to guide courts contemplated under the law?
trying those who are accused.7 In short, laws which create crime ought to be so explicit that all men A penal law violates due process where inherently vague statutory language permits selective law
subject to their penalties may know what acts it is their duty to avoid. 8 enforcement.12 Under the Plunder Law, a crusading public officer who steps on too many important toes
A reading of the Plunder Law immediately shows that it is phrased in a manner not susceptible to ready in the course of his campaign could be prosecuted for a capital offense, while for exactly the same acts,
or clear understanding. In the desire to cover under one single offense of plunder every conceivable an official who tries to please everybody can be charged whether administratively or for a much lighter
criminal activity committed by a high government official in the course of his duties, Congress has come offense.
out with a law unduly vague, uncertain and broad.

61
For instance, direct bribery under Article 210 of the Revised Penal Code is punished with prision mayor in pattern of overt acts indicative of the unlawful scheme or conspiracy. 18 In effect, the law seeks to penalize
its medium or minimum periods, prision correccional in its medium period, or prision mayor in its the accused only on the basis of a proven scheme or conspiracy, and does away with the rights of the
minimum period, depending on the manner of commission.13 Indirect bribery under Article 211 is accused insofar as the component crimes are concerned. In other words, R.A. No. 7080 circumvents the
punished with prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods.14 Under the Plunder Law, the obligation of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt every fact necessary to constitute the
penalty is reclusion perpetua to death. The void-for-vagueness infirmity becomes all the more apparent if crime of plunder, because the law requires merely proof of a pattern of overt acts showing an unlawful
the proscribed activity is "misuse of public funds." The prosecutor is given broad powers of selective law scheme or conspiracy. What aggravates matters on this point is that under controlling case law,
enforcement. For "misuse," exactly the same acts could be punished with death under the Plunder Law, conspiracy to defraud is not punishable under the Revised Penal Code.19 Cutting corners on the burden of
or mere dismissal with prejudice to future government employment under the Civil Service Law. proof is unconstitutional because the standard of reasonable doubt is part of the due process safeguard
The provision in the Plunder Law on "implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit accorded an accused. The due process clause protects the accused against conviction except upon proof
particular persons or special interests" also calls for more specific elucidation. If the only person beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which he is charged. 20
benefited is himself, does that fall under "particular person?" Decrees and orders issued by a top Under R.A. 7659, plunder is a heinous crime punishable by death. It is described as grievous, odious and
government official may be intended to benefit certain segments of society such as farmers, hateful because of its inherent or magnified wickedness, viciousness, atrocity, and perversity. There can
manufacturers, residents of a geographical area and the like. If in the process a close relative acquires be no quarrel with the legislative objective of reducing the upsurge of such crimes which affect
P50,000,000.00 because of development in that sector solely because of the decree and without lifting a sustainable economic development and undermine the people’s faith in Government and the latter’s
finger, is that plunder? The vagueness can be better appreciated by referring to petitioner’s arguments ability to maintain peace and order. Nevertheless, due process commands that even though the
that the element of mens rea in mala in se crimes has been abolished and the offenses have been governmental purpose is legitimate and substantial, that purpose cannot be pursued by means so vague
converted to mala prohibita. If the guilty intent is eliminated, even innocent acts can be plunder. The law and broad that they infringe on life or stifle liberty when the end can be more narrowly achieved through
was not drafted for petitioner alone. It applies to all public officers. existing penal statutes.
As petitioner has stated, what Congress did in enacting the Plunder Law was to take out the provisions of Where the statute has an overbroad sweep just as when it is vague, the hazard of loss or impairment of
the Revised Penal Code on malversation, estafa, bribery, and other crimes committed by public officers, life or liberty is critical.21
mix these with special laws on graft and corruption and together with a couple of non-criminal acts, The problem of vagueness is reduced or eliminated if the different schemes mentioned in the law as used
combine them into a special law and call it "plunder." in the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth are prosecuted under existing penal law. The offenses are by their
Early in the history of this Court, it ruled that in acts mala in se, the criminal intent governs. But in those nature distinct and separate from each other and have acquired established meanings.
acts mala prohibita, the only inquiry is: has the law been violated?15 Acts constituting malversation, Thus, the acts of misappropriation or malversation may be prosecuted as separate offenses. So may the
estafa, and bribery are mala in se. The courts must inquire into the criminal intent, the evil nature or receipt of commissions, gifts, or kickbacks by higher officials in connection with government contracts.
wrongful disposition behind the criminal acts. In mala prohibita crimes, there is a violation of a The four other methods or schemes mentioned in the law may be the objects of separate penal statutes.
prohibitory law and the inquiry is, therefore, has the law been violated? When the law creates a new crime of plunder through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts,
In the crime of plunder, it is enough that the acts defining malversation or bribery are described. The the courts have to supply missing elements if conviction is to be achieved.
court then proceeds to determine whether the acts fall under the prohibitory terms of the law. Criminal Bribery is punished as plunder under the law only when there is a combination or series of criminal acts.
intent no longer has to be proved. The criminal intent to commit the crime is not required to be proved. But when do certain acts constitute a combination or series? Does the Plunder law provide that two or
The desire to benefit particular persons does not have to spring from criminal intent under the special three acts of one crime of bribery constitute a combination or series which qualify bribery into plunder?
law creating the crime of plunder. In malversation or bribery under the Revised Penal Code, the criminal Or does bribery have to be conjoined with the separate offense of malversation to become a
intent is an important element of the criminal acts. Under the Plunder Law, it is enough that the acts are combination? Or with malversation and fraudulent conveyance or disposition of public assets or one of
committed. the other means or schemes before it becomes a series?
Thus, even if the accused can prove lack of criminal intent with respect to crimes mala in se, this will not I find it difficult to accept the wide discretion given to the prosecution by the Plunder Law. An elective
exonerate him under the crime mala prohibita. This violates substantive due process and the standards official who is a political threat may be charged for plunder as one single offense punishable by death
of fair play because mens rea is a constitutional guarantee under the due process clause. Indeed, as while one in the good graces of the powers-that-be is charged only under the Revised Penal Code.
stated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Morisette v. U.S.:16 The confusion generated by a vague law is exemplified in the informations filed against petitioner in this
The Government asks us by a feat of construction radically to change the weights and balances in the case. Petitioner was charged with eight crimes, namely: [1] plunder; [2] violation of Section 3 (e) of R.A.
scales of justice. The purpose and obvious effect of doing away with the requirement of a guilty intent 3019; [3] violation of Section 3 (a) of R.A. 3019; [4] another violation of Section 3 (e) of R.A. 3019; [5]
is to ease the prosecution’s party to conviction, to strip the defendant of such benefit as he derived at violation of Section 3 (c) of R.A. 3019; [6] violation of Section 7 (d) of R.A. 6713; [7] perjury; [8] illegal use
common law from innocence of evil purpose, and to circumscribe the freedom heretofore allowed of alias.
juries. Such a manifest impairment of the immunities of the individual should not be extended to Only twelve days later, the prosecution withdrew five (5) of the informations which it consolidated into
common law crimes on judicial initiative. (Emphasis ours) only one offense of plunder. The prosecution was not clear about the steps to take in instances where the
By grafting several felonies, some mala in se and some mala prohibita, to constitute the crime of plunder words "combination" or "series" may or may not apply. It could not understand the coverage of the law
and by doing away with the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt for the component elements, as acts repetitive of the same offense or acts constituting one crime lumped up with other crimes or both
the State would practically be given the judicial imprimatur to impose the extreme penalty of death on criminal and non-criminal acts punished as one new offense of plunder.
the basis of proof only of the overall pattern of overt or criminal acts showing unlawful scheme or In the following exchange during the deliberations on Senate Bill No. 733, Senators Neptali Gonzales and
conspiracy. This attempt of Congress to tip the scales of criminal justice in favor of the state by doing Wigberto Tanada voiced serious doubts on the constitutionality of the definition of plunder, thus:
away with the element of mens rea and to pave the way for the accused to be convicted by depriving him Senator Gonzales:
of the defense of criminal intent as to mala in se components of plunder will be anathema to substantive To commit the offense of plunder, as defined in this act, and while constituting a single offense, it must
due process which insures "respect for those personal immunities which are so rooted in the traditions consist of a series of overt or criminal acts, such as bribery, extortion, malversation of public funds,
and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental."17 swindling, falsification of public documents, coercion, theft, fraud, and illegal exaction and graft or
Equally disagreeable is the provision of the Plunder Law which does away with the requirement that each corrupt practices and like offenses. Now, Mr. President, I think this provision, by itself will be vague. I am
and every component of the criminal act of plunder be proved and instead limits itself to proving only a afraid that it may be faulted for being violative of the due process clause and the right to be informed

62
of the nature and cause of accusation of an accused. Because what is meant by "series of overt or Before I explain my vote, I think it necessary to restate the basic facts.
criminal acts?" I mean, would 2, 4, or 5 constitute a series? During the period of amendments, can we Petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada was President of the Philippines until January 20, 2001 when he was
establish a minimum of overt acts like, for example, robbery in band? The law defines what is robbery in forced to vacate the presidency by people power and then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
band by the number of participants therein. In this particular case, probably, we can statutorily provide succeeded him in office.1 He was charged, in eight cases filed with the Sandiganbayan, with various
for the definition of "series" so that two, for example, would that already be a series? Or, three, what offenses committed while in office, among them plunder, for allegedly having amassed ill-gotten wealth
would be the basis for such determination? in the amount of P4.1 billion, more or less. He moved to quash the information for plunder on the ground
Senator Tanada: that R.A. No. 7080, otherwise called the Anti-Plunder Law, is unconstitutional and that the information
I think, Mr. President, that would be called for, this being a penal legislation, we should be very clear as charges more than one offense.
to what it encompasses; otherwise, we may contravene the constitutional provision on the right of In its resolution dated July 9, 2001, the Sandiganbayan denied petitioner’s motion, along with those filed
accused to due process. (Emphasis ours)22 by his co-accused, Edward Serapio, and his son, Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada. Petitioner brought this petition
The foregoing concerns to statutorily provide for the definition of "series" or "combination" have, for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 to set aside the Sandiganbayan’s resolution principally on the
however, not been addressed and the terms were left undefined. The law, as presently crafted, does not ground that the Anti-Plunder Law is void for being vague and overbroad. We gave due course to the
specify whether a "series" means two, three, four or even more of the overt or criminal acts listed in petition and required respondents to file comments and later heard the parties in oral arguments on
Section 1 (d) of R.A. 7080. September 18, 2001 and on their memoranda filed on September 28, 2001 to consider the constitutional
Even more difficult to accept is when the trial court has to supply the missing elements, in effect taking claims of petitioner.
over corrective or punitive legislation from Congress. The attempts of the Sandiganbayan in the I. THE ANTI-PLUNDER LAW
questioned Resolution do not clarify. They instead serve to confuse and increase the ambiguity even The Anti-Plunder Law (R.A. No. 7080) was enacted by Congress on July 12, 1991 pursuant to the
more. constitutional mandate that "the State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take
The Sandiganbayan interprets the words "combination" and "series" of overt or criminal acts through positive and effective measures against graft and corruption." 2 Section 2 of the statute provides:
terms found in American decisions like "pattern," "conspiracy," "over-all unlawful scheme," or "general Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties. ¾ Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with
plan of action or method." members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other
The above definitions are not found in the Plunder Law. The use of such phrases as "over-all scheme" or persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or
"general plan" indicates that the Sandiganbayan is expanding the coverage of the law through the use of criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty
ambiguous phrases capable of dual or multiple applications. When do two or three acts of the same million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion
offense of malversation constitute a "pattern," "a general plan of action," or an "over-all scheme?" Would perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an
one malversation in the first week of a public officer’s tenure and another similar act six (6) years later offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition
become a "combination," a "pattern," or a "general plan of action?" of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances,
I agree with petitioner’s concern over the danger that the trial court may allow the specifications of as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and
details in an information to validate a statute inherently void for vagueness. An information cannot rise all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares
higher than the statute upon which it is based. Not even the construction by the Sandiganbayan of a of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State. (As amended by
vague or ambiguous provision can supply the missing ingredients of the Plunder Law. Sec. 12, R.A. No. 7659).
The right of an accused to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation against him is most The term "ill-gotten wealth" is defined in §1(d) as follows:
often exemplified in the care with which a complaint or information should be drafted. However, the "Ill-gotten wealth," means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of any person
clarity and particularity required of an information should also be present in the law upon which the within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly through dummies,
charges are based. If the penal law is vague, any particularity in the information will come from the nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any combination or series of the following
prosecutor. The prosecution takes over the role of Congress. means or similar schemes:
The fact that the details of the charges are specified in the Information will not cure the statute of its 1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on
constitutional infirmity. If on its face the challenged provision is repugnant to the due process clause, the public treasury.
specification of details of the offense intended to be charged would not serve to validate it.23 In other 2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any
words, it is the statute, not the accusation under it, that prescribes the rule to govern conduct and warns other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any
against transgression. No one may be required at peril of life, liberty or property to speculate as to the government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer
meaning of penal statutes. All are entitled to be informed as to what the State commands or forbids. 24 concerned;
Definiteness is a due process requirement. It is especially important in its application to penal statutes. 3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National
Vagueness and unintelligibility will invariably lead to arbitrary government action. The purpose of the due Government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or government-owned or
process clause is to exclude everything that is arbitrary and capricious affecting the rights of the citizen. 25 controlled corporations and their subsidiaries.
Congress, in exercising its power to declare what acts constitute a crime, must inform the citizen with 4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any
reasonable precision what acts it intends to prohibit so that he may have a certain understandable rule of other form of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any
conduct and know what acts it is his duty to avoid.26 business enterprise or undertaking;
The questioned statutes were enacted purportedly in the interest of justice, public peace and order, and 5) By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations
the rule of law. These purposes are not served by R.A. Nos. 7080 and 7659. These statutes allow the and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or
prosecutors and the courts arbitrary and too broad discretionary powers in their enforcement. Fair, equal special interests; or
and impartial justice would be denied. 6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or
For all the foregoing reasons, I vote to grant the petition and nullify the Plunder Law for being influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and
unconstitutional. prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines.
MENDOZA, J., concurring in the judgment: Section 4 of the said law states:

63
Rule of Evidence. ¾ For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to prove hundred seventy three pesos and seventeen centavos [₱3,233,104,173.17] and depositing the
each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to amass, same under his account name "Jose Velarde" at the Equitable-PCI Bank.
accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a CONTRARY TO LAW.
pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy. Manila for Quezon City, Philippines, 18 April 2001
II. ANTI-PLUNDER LAW NOT TO BE JUDGED But, although this is a prosecution under §2, in relation to §1(d)(1)(2), what we are seeing here is a
"ON ITS FACE" wholesale attack on the validity of the entire statute. Petitioner makes little effort to show the alleged
The amended information against petitioner charges violations of §2, in relation to §1(d)(1)(2), of the invalidity of the statute as applied to him. His focus is instead on the statute as a whole as he attacks "on
statute. It reads: their face" not only §§1(d)(1)(2) of the statute but also its other provisions which deal with plunder
AMENDED INFORMATION committed by illegal or fraudulent disposition of government assets (§1(d)(3)), acquisition of interest in
The undersigned Ombudsman Prosecutor and OIC-Director, EPIB, Office of the Ombudsman, hereby business (§1(d)(4)), and establishment of monopolies and combinations or implementation of decrees
accuses former President of the Republic of the Philippines, Joseph Ejercito Estrada a.k.a "Asiong intended to benefit particular persons or special interests (§1(d)(5)).
Salonga" and a.k.a "Jose Velarde," together with Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada, Charlie "Atong" Ang, Edward These other provisions of the statute are irrelevant to this case. What relevance do questions regarding
Serapio, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, the establishment of monopolies and combinations, or the ownership of stocks in a business enterprise,
Jane Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and John Does & Jane Does, of the crime of plunder, defined and penalized or the illegal or fraudulent dispositions of government property have to the criminal prosecution of
under R.A. No. 7080, as amended by Sec. 12 of R.A. No. 7659, committed as follows: petitioner when they are not even mentioned in the amended information filed against him? Why should
That during the period from June, 1998 to January, 2001, in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of it be important to inquire whether the phrase "overt act" in §1(d) and §2 means the same thing as the
this Honorable Court, accused Joseph Ejercito Estrada, then a public officer, being then the President of phrase "criminal act" as used in the same provisions when the acts imputed to petitioner in the amended
the Republic of the Philippines, by himself and/or in connivance/conspiracy with his co-accused, who are information are criminal acts? Had the provisions of the Revised Penal Code been subjected to this kind
members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates and/or of line-by-line scrutiny whenever a portion thereof was involved in a case, it is doubtful if we would have
other persons, by taking undue advantage of his official position, authority, relationship, connection, or the jurisprudence on penal law that we have today. The prosecution of crimes would certainly have been
influence, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and criminally amass, accumulate and acquire by hampered, if not stultified. We should not even attempt to assume the power we are asked to exercise.
himself, directly or indirectly, ill-gotten wealth in the aggregate amount or total value of four billion "The delicate power of pronouncing an Act of Congress unconstitutional is not to be exercised with
ninety seven million eight hundred four thousand one hundred seventy three pesos and seventeen reference to hypothetical cases . . . . In determining the sufficiency of the notice a statute must of
centavos [₱4,097,804,173.17], more or less, thereby unjustly enriching himself or themselves at the necessity be examined in the light of the conduct with which a defendant is charged." 3
expense and to the damage of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines, through any or a Nonetheless, it is contended that because these provisions are void for being vague and overbroad, the
combination or a series of overt or criminal acts, or similar schemes or means, described as follows: entire statute, including the part under which petitioner is being prosecuted, is also void. And if the
(a) by receiving or collecting, directly or indirectly, on several instances, money in the entire statute is void, there is no law under which he can be prosecuted for plunder. Nullum crimen sine
aggregate amount of five hundred forty-five million pesos (₱545,000,000.00), more or less, lege, nullum poena sine lege.
from illegal gambling in the form of gift, share, percentage, kickback or any form of pecuniary Two justifications are advanced for this facial challenge to the validity of the entire statute. The first is
benefit, by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie "Atong" Ang, Jose "Jinggoy" that the statute comes within the specific prohibitions of the Constitution and, for this reason, it must be
Estrada, Yolanda T. Ricaforte, Edward Serapio, and John Does and Jane Does, in consideration given strict scrutiny and the normal presumption of constitutionality should not be applied to it nor the
of toleration or protection of illegal gambling; usual judicial deference given to the judgment of Congress. 4 The second justification given for the facial
(b) by diverting, receiving, misappropriating, converting or misusing directly or indirectly, for attack on the Anti-Plunder Law is that it is vague and overbroad.5
his or their personal gain and benefit, public funds in the amount of ONE HUNDRED THIRTY We find no basis for such claims either in the rulings of this Court or of those of the U.S. Supreme Court,
MILLION PESOS [₱130,000,000.00], more or less, representing a portion of the two hundred from which petitioner’s counsel purports to draw for his conclusions. We consider first the claim that the
million pesos [₱200,000,000.00] tobacco excise tax share allocated for the Province of Ilocos statute must be subjected to strict scrutiny.
Sur under R.A. No. 7171, by himself and/or in connivance with co-accused Charlie "Atong" A. Test of Strict Scrutiny Not Applicable to Penal Statutes
Ang, Alma Alfaro, John Doe a.k.a. Eleuterio Tan or Eleuterio Ramos Tan or Mr. Uy, and Jane Petitioner cites the dictum in Ople v. Torres6 that "when the integrity of a fundamental right is at stake,
Doe a.k.a. Delia Rajas, and other John Does and Jane Does; this Court will give the challenged law, administrative order, rule or regulation stricter scrutiny" and that
(c) by directing, ordering and compelling, for his personal gain and benefit, the Government "It will not do for authorities to invoke the presumption of regularity in the performance of official
Service Insurance System (GSIS) to purchase 351,878,000 shares of stocks, more or less, and duties." As will presently be shown, "strict scrutiny," as used in that decision, is not the same thing as the
the Social Security System (SSS), 329,855,000 shares of stocks, more or less, of the Belle "strict scrutiny" urged by petitioner. Much less did this Court rule that because of the need to give
Corporation in the amount of more or less one billion one hundred two million nine hundred "stricter scrutiny" to laws abridging fundamental freedoms, it will not give such laws the presumption of
sixty five thousand six hundred seven pesos and fifty centavos [₱1,102,965,607.50] and more validity.
or less seven hundred forty four million six hundred twelve thousand and four hundred fifty Petitioner likewise cites "the most celebrated footnote in [American] constitutional law," i.e., footnote 4
pesos [₱744,612,450.00], respectively, or a total of more or less one billion eight hundred of the opinion in United States v. Carolene Products Co.,7 in which it was stated:
forty seven million five hundred seventy eight thousand fifty seven pesos and fifty centavos There may be narrower scope for operation of the presumption of constitutionality when legislation
[₱1,847,578,057.50]; and by collecting or receiving, directly or indirectly, by himself and/or in appears on its face to be within a specific prohibition of the Constitution, such as those of the first ten
connivance with John Does and Jane Does, commissions or percentages by reason of said amendments, which are deemed equally specific when held to be embraced within the Fourteenth.
purchases of shares of stock in the amount of one hundred eighty nine million seven hundred It is unnecessary to consider now whether legislation which restricts those political processes which can
thousand pesos [₱189,700,000.00], more or less, from the Belle Corporation which became ordinarily be expected to bring about repeal of undesirable legislation, is to be subjected to more
part of the deposit in the Equitable-PCI Bank under the account name "Jose Velarde"; exacting judicial scrutiny under the general prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment than are most
(d) by unjustly enriching himself from commissions, gifts, shares, percentages, kickbacks, or other types of legislation.
any form of pecuniary benefits, in connivance with John Does and Jane Does, in the amount of Nor need we inquire whether similar considerations enter into the review of statutes directed at
more or less three billion two hundred thirty three million one hundred four thousand one particular religious, or national, or racial minorities: whether prejudice against discrete and insular

64
minorities may be a special condition, which tends seriously to curtail the operation of those political specificity."13 The possible harm to society in permitting some unprotected speech to go unpunished is
processes ordinarily to be relied upon to protect minorities, and which may call for a correspondingly outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of others may be deterred and perceived
more searching judicial inquiry. grievances left to fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes.
Again, it should be noted that what the U.S. Supreme Court said is that "there may be narrower scope for This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect resulting
the operation of the presumption of constitutionality" for legislation which comes within the first ten from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State may well be
amendments to the American Federal Constitution compared to legislation covered by the Fourteenth prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal law, the law
Amendment Due Process Clause. The American Court did not say that such legislation is not to be cannot take chances as in the area of free speech.
presumed constitutional, much less that it is presumptively invalid, but only that a "narrower scope" will The overbreadth and vagueness doctrines then have special application only to free speech cases. They
be given for the presumption of constitutionality in respect of such statutes. There is, therefore, no are inapt for testing the validity of penal statutes. As the U.S. Supreme Court put it, in an opinion by Chief
warrant for petitioner’s contention that "the presumption of constitutionality of a legislative act is Justice Rehnquist, "we have not recognized an ‘overbreadth’ doctrine outside the limited context of the
applicable only where the Supreme Court deals with facts regarding ordinary economic affairs, not where First Amendment."14 In Broadrick v. Oklahoma,15 the Court ruled that "claims of facial overbreadth have
the interpretation of the text of the Constitution is involved."8 been entertained in cases involving statutes which, by their terms, seek to regulate only spoken words"
What footnote 4 of the Carolene Products case posits is a double standard of judicial review: strict and, again, that "overbreadth claims, if entertained at all, have been curtailed when invoked against
scrutiny for laws dealing with freedom of the mind or restricting the political process, and deferential or ordinary criminal laws that are sought to be applied to protected conduct." For this reason, it has been
rational basis standard of review for economic legislation. As Justice (later Chief Justice) Fernando held that "a facial challenge to a legislative Act is … the most difficult challenge to mount successfully,
explained in Malate Hotel and Motel Operators Ass’n v. The City Mayor,9 this simply means that "if the since the challenger must establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the Act would be
liberty involved were freedom of the mind or the person, the standard for the validity of governmental valid."16 As for the vagueness doctrine, it is said that a litigant may challenge a statute on its face only if it
acts is much more rigorous and exacting, but where the liberty curtailed affects what are at the most is vague in all its possible applications. "A plaintiff who engages in some conduct that is clearly proscribed
rights of property, the permissible scope of regulatory measures is wider." cannot complain of the vagueness of the law as applied to the conduct of others." 17
Hence, strict scrutiny is used today to test the validity of laws dealing with the regulation of speech, In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools developed for
gender, or race and facial challenges are allowed for this purpose. But criminal statutes, like the Anti- testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in American law, First
Plunder Law, while subject to strict construction, are not subject to strict scrutiny. The two (i.e., strict Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is involved is a criminal statute. With
construction and strict scrutiny) are not the same. The rule of strict construction is a rule of legal respect to such statute, the established rule is that "one to whom application of a statute is constitutional
hermeneutics which deals with the parsing of statutes to determine the intent of the legislature. On the will not be heard to attack the statute on the ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to
other hand, strict scrutiny is a standard of judicial review for determining the quality and the amount of other persons or other situations in which its application might be unconstitutional." 18 As has been
governmental interest brought to justify the regulation of fundamental freedoms. It is set opposite such pointed out, "vagueness challenges in the First Amendment context, like overbreadth challenges typically
terms as "deferential review" and "intermediate review." produce facial invalidation, while statutes found vague as a matter of due process typically are invalidated
Thus, under deferential review, laws are upheld if they rationally further a legitimate governmental [only] ‘as applied’ to a particular defendant."19 Consequently, there is no basis for petitioner’s claim that
interest, without courts seriously inquiring into the substantiality of such interest and examining the this Court review the Anti-Plunder Law on its face and in its entirety.
alternative means by which the objectives could be achieved. Under intermediate review, the C. Anti-Plunder Law Should be Construed "As Applied"
substantiality of the governmental interest is seriously looked into and the availability of less restrictive Indeed, "on its face" invalidation of statutes results in striking them down entirely on the ground that
alternatives are considered. Under strict scrutiny, the focus is on the presence of compelling, rather than they might be applied to parties not before the Court whose activities are constitutionally protected.20 It
substantial, governmental interest and on the absence of less restrictive means for achieving that constitutes a departure from the case and controversy requirement of the Constitution and permits
interest.10 decisions to be made without concrete factual settings and in sterile abstract contexts. 21 But, as the U.S.
Considering these degrees of strictness in the review of statutes, how many criminal laws can survive the Supreme Court pointed out in Younger v. Harris:22
test of strict scrutiny to which petitioner proposes to subject them? How many can pass muster if, as [T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction of these
petitioner would have it, such statutes are not to be presumed constitutional? Above all, what will deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for the judiciary. The
happen to the State’s ability to deal with the problem of crimes, and, in particular, with the problem of combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the legislative process of the
graft and corruption in government, if criminal laws are to be upheld only if it is shown that there is a relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of the required line-by-line analysis of
compelling governmental interest for making certain conduct criminal and if there is no other means less detailed statutes,...ordinarily results in a kind of case that is wholly unsatisfactory for deciding
restrictive than that contained in the law for achieving such governmental interest? constitutional questions, whichever way they might be decided.
B. Vagueness and Overbreadth Doctrines, as Grounds for Facial Challenge, This is the reason "on its face" invalidation of statutes has been described as "manifestly strong
Not Applicable to Penal Laws medicine," to be employed "sparingly and only as a last resort,"23 and is generally disfavored.24 In
Nor do allegations that the Anti-Plunder Law is vague and overbroad justify a facial review of its validity. determining the constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions which are alleged to have been
The void-for-vagueness doctrine states that "a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act violated in a case must be examined in the light of the conduct with which the defendant is charged. 25
in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to This brings me to the question whether, as applied, §2, in relation to §1(d)(1)(2), of the Anti-Plunder Law
its application, violates the first essential of due process of law."11 The overbreadth doctrine, on the other is void on the ground of vagueness and overbreadth.
hand, decrees that "a governmental purpose may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily III. ANTI-PLUNDER LAW NEITHER VAGUE NOR OVERBROAD
broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms."12 As earlier noted, the case against petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada in the Sandiganbayan is for violation
A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because of of §2, in relation to §1(d)(1)(2), of the Anti-Plunder Law, which, so far as pertinent, provide:
possible "chilling effect" upon protected speech. The theory is that "[w]hen statutes regulate or proscribe SEC. 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties. ¾ Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance
speech and no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating the statutes in a with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or
single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected expression is other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of
deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that the person making overt or criminal acts as described in Section 1(d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at
the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with narrow

65
least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by 8. Whether "illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the National
reclusion perpetua to death.... Government," as used in §1(d)(3), refers to technical malversation or illegal use of public
SEC. 1. Definition of Terms. ¾ ... funds or property in the Revised Penal Code;
(d) "Ill-gotten wealth," means any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of any 9. Whether mere ownership of stocks in a private corporation, such as a family firm engaged
person within the purview of Section Two (2) hereof, acquired by him directly or indirectly through in fishing, is prohibited under §1(d)(4);
dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any combination or series of the 10. Whether the phrase "monopolies or other combinations in restraint of trade" in §1(d)(5)
following means or similar schemes: means the same thing as "monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade" in the Revised
1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, or malversation of public funds or raids on Penal Code because the latter contemplates monopolies and combinations established by any
the public treasury. person, not necessarily a public officer; and
2) By receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any 11. Whether under §1(d)(5) it is the public officer who intends to confer benefit on a
other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in connection with any particular person by implementing a decree or it is the decree that is intended to benefit the
government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the public officer particular person and the public officer simply implements it.
concerned; Many more questions of this tenor are asked in the memorandum of petitioner27 as well as in the dissent
The charge is that in violation of these provisions, during the period June 1998 to January 2001, of MR. JUSTICE KAPUNAN. Not only are they irrelevant to this case, as already pointed out. It is also
petitioner, then the President of the Philippines, willfully, unlawfully, and criminally amassed wealth in evident from their examination that what they present are simply questions of statutory construction to
the total amount of P4,097,804,173.17, more or less, through "a combination or series of overt or be resolved on a case-to-case basis. Consider, for example, the following words and phrases in §1(d) and
criminal acts," to wit: (1) by receiving or collecting the total amount of P545,000,000.00, more or less, §2:
from illegal gambling by himself and/or in connivance with his co-accused named therein, in exchange for A. "Combination or series of overt or criminal acts"
protection of illegal gambling; (2) by misappropriating, converting, or misusing, by himself or in Petitioner contends that the phrase "combination or series of overt, or criminal acts" in §1(d) and §2
connivance with his co-accused named therein, public funds amounting to P130,000,000.00, more or should state how many acts are needed in order to have a "combination" or a "series." It is not really
less, representing a portion of the share of the Province of Ilocos Sur in the tobacco excise tax; (3) by required that this be specified. Petitioner, as well as MR. JUSTICE KAPUNAN, cites the following remarks
ordering the GSIS and the SSS to buy shares of stocks of the Belle Corp., worth P1,102,965,607.50 and of Senators Gonzales and Tañada during the discussion of S. No. 733 in the Senate:
P744,612,450.00 respectively, or the total amount of P1,847,578,057.50, for which he received as SENATOR GONZALES. To commit the offense of plunder, as defined in this Act while constituting a single
commission the amount of P189,700,000.00, more or less, from Belle Corp.; (4) by unjustly enriching offense, it must consist of a series of overt or criminal acts, such as bribery, extortion, malversation of
himself from commissions, gifts, shares, percentages, and kickbacks in the amount of P3,233,104,173.17, public funds, swindling, falsification of public documents, coercion, theft, fraud, and illegal exaction, and
which he deposited in the Equitable-PCI Bank under the name of "Jose Velarde." graft or corrupt practices act and like offenses. Now, Mr. President, I think, this provision, by itself, will be
Anyone reading the law in relation to this charge cannot possibly be mistaken as to what petitioner is vague. I am afraid that it might be faulted for being violative of the due process clause and the right to be
accused of in Criminal Case No. 26558 of the Sandiganbayan. But, repeatedly, petitioner complains that informed of the nature and cause of accusation of an accused. Because, what is meant by "series of overt
the law is vague and deprives him of due process. He invokes the ruling in Connally v. General Constr. or criminal acts"? I mean, would 2, 3, 4 or 5 constitute a series? During the period of amendments, can
Co.26 that "a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of we establish a minimum of overt acts like, for example, robbery in band? The law defines what is robbery
common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, violates the in band by the number of participants therein.
first essential of due process of law." He does this by questioning not only §2, in relation to §1(d)(1)(2), as In this particular case, probably, we can statutorily provide for the definition of "series" so that two, for
applied to him, but also other provisions of the Anti-Plunder Law not involved in this case. In 55 out of 84 example, would that be already a series? Or, three, what would be the basis for such a determination?
pages of discussion in his Memorandum, petitioner tries to show why on their face these provisions are SENATOR TAÑADA. I think, Mr. President, that would be called for, this being a penal legislation, we
vague and overbroad by asking questions regarding the meaning of some words and phrases in the should be very clear as to what it encompasses; otherwise, we may contravene the constitutional
statute, to wit: provision on the right of the accused to due process.28
1. Whether "series" means two, three, or four overt or criminal acts listed in §1(d) in view of But, as the later discussion in the Senate shows, the senators in the end reached a consensus as to the
the alleged divergence of interpretation given to this word by the Ombudsman, the Solicitor meaning of the phrase so that an enumeration of the number of acts needed was no longer proposed.
General, and the Sandiganbayan, and whether the acts in a series should be directly related to Thus, the record shows:
each other; SENATOR MACEDA. In line with our interpellations that sometimes "one" or maybe even "two" acts may
2. Whether "combination" includes two or more acts or at least two of the "means or similar already result in such a big amount, on line 25, would the Sponsor consider deleting the words "a series
schemes" mentioned in §1(d); of overt or." To read, therefore: "or conspiracy COMMITTED by criminal acts such." Remove the idea of
3. Whether "pattern" as used in §1(d) must be related to the word "pattern" in §4 which necessitating "a series." Anyway, the criminal acts are in the plural.
requires that it be "indicative of an overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy"; SENATOR TAÑADA. That would mean a combination of two or more of the acts mentioned in this.
4. Whether "overt" means the same thing as "criminal"; THE PRESIDENT. Probably, two or more would be . . .
5. Whether "misuse of public funds" is the same as "illegal use of public property or technical SENATOR MACEDA. Yes, because "a series" implies several or many; two or more.
malversation"; SENATOR TAÑADA: Accepted, Mr. President.
6. Whether "raids on the public treasury" refers to raids on the National Treasury or the ....
treasury of a province or municipality; THE PRESIDENT: If there is only one, then he has to be prosecuted under the particular crime. But when
7. Whether the receipt or acceptance of a gift, commission, kickback, or pecuniary benefits in we say "acts of plunder" there should be, at least, two or more.
connection with a government contract or by reason of his office, as used in §1(d)(2), is the SENATOR ROMULO: In other words, that is already covered by existing laws, Mr. President.29
same as bribery in the Revised Penal Code or those which are considered corrupt practices of Indeed, the record shows that no amendment to S. No. 733 was proposed to this effect. To the contrary,
public officers; Senators Gonzales and Tañada voted in favor of the bill on its third and final reading on July 25, 1989. The
ordinary meaning of the term "combination" as the "union of two things or acts" was adopted, although
in the case of "series," the senators agreed that a repetition of two or more times of the same thing or

66
act would suffice, thus departing from the ordinary meaning of the word as "a group of usually three or The fact that there is a conflict in the rulings of the various courts does not mean that Rule 8(b) is void for
more things or events standing or succeeding in order and having a like relationship to each other," or "a being vague but only that the U.S. Supreme Court should step in, for one of its essential functions is to
spatial or temporal succession of persons or things," or "a group that has or admits an order of assure the uniform interpretation of federal laws.
arrangement exhibiting progression."30 We have a similar provision in Rule 3, §6 of the 1997 Code of Civil Procedure. It reads:
In the Bicameral Conference Committee on Justice meeting held on May 7, 1991, the same meanings SEC. 6. Permissive joinder of parties. ¾ All persons in whom or against whom any right to relief in respect
were given to the words "combination" and "series." Representative Garcia explained that a combination to or arising out of the same transaction or series of transactions is alleged to exist, whether jointly,
is composed of two or more of the overt or criminal acts enumerated in §1(d), while a series is a severally, or in the alternative, may, except as otherwise provided in these Rules, join as plaintiffs or be
repetition of any of the same overt or criminal acts. Thus: joined as defendants in one complaint, where any question of law or fact common to all such plaintiffs or
REP. ISIDRO: I am just intrigued again by our definition of plunder. We say, THROUGH A COMBINATION OR to all such defendants may arise in the action; but the court may make such orders as may be just to
SERIES OF OVERT OR CRIMINAL ACTS AS MENTIONED IN SECTION ONE HEREOF. Now when we say prevent any plaintiff or defendant from being embarrassed or put to expense in connection with any
combination, we actually mean to say, if there are two or more means, we mean to say that number one proceedings in which he may have no interest. (Emphasis added)
and two or number one and something else are included, how about a series of the same act? For This provision has been in our Rules of Court since 1940 but it has never been thought of as vague. It will
example, through misappropriation, conversion, misuse, will these be included also? not do, therefore, to cite the conflict of opinions in the United States as evidence of the vagueness of the
.... phrase when we do not have any conflict in this country.
REP. ISIDRO: When we say combination, it seems that ¾ B. "Pattern of overt or criminal acts"
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Two. Petitioner contends that it is not enough that there be at least two acts to constitute either a
REP. ISIDRO: Not only two but we seem to mean that two of the enumerated means not twice of one combination or series because §4 also mentions "a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the
enumeration. overall scheme or conspiracy," and "pattern" means "an arrangement or order of things or activity."
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): No, no, not twice. A "pattern of overt or criminal acts" is required in §4 to prove "an unlawful scheme or conspiracy." In
REP. ISIDRO: Not twice? such a case, it is not necessary to prove each and every criminal act done in furtherance of the scheme or
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yes, combination is not twice ¾ but combination, two acts. conspiracy so long as those proven show a pattern indicating the scheme or conspiracy. In other words,
REP. ISIDRO: So in other words, that’s it. When we say combination, we mean, two different acts. It can when conspiracy is charged, there must be more than a combination or series of two or more acts. There
not be a repetition of the same act. must be several acts showing a pattern which is "indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy." As
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): That be referred to series. Yeah. Senate President Salonga explained, if there are 150 constitutive crimes charged, it is not necessary to
REP. ISIDRO: No, no. Supposing one act is repeated, so there are two. prove beyond reasonable doubt all of them. If a pattern can be shown by proving, for example, 10
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): A series. criminal acts, then that would be sufficient to secure conviction.32
REP. ISIDRO: That’s not [a] series. It’s a combination. Because when we say combination or series, we The State is thereby enabled by this device to deal with several acts constituting separate crimes as just
seem to say that two or more, ‘di ba? one crime of plunder by allowing their prosecution by means of a single information because there is a
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yes, this distinguishes it, really, from ordinary crimes. That is why, I said, common purpose for committing them, namely, that of "amassing, accumulating or acquiring wealth
that is a very good suggestion because if it is only one act, it may fall under ordinary crime but we have through such overt or criminal acts." The pattern is the organizing principle that defines what otherwise
here a combination or series of overt or criminal acts. So. . . would be discreet criminal acts into the single crime of plunder.
.... As thus applied to petitioner, the Anti-Plunder Law presents only problems of statutory construction, not
REP. ISIDRO: When you say "combination", two different? vagueness or overbreadth. In Primicias v. Fugoso,33 an ordinance of the City of Manila, prohibiting the
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): Yes. holding of parades and assemblies in streets and public places unless a permit was first secured from the
THE CHAIRMAN (SEN. TAÑADA): Two different. . . . city mayor and penalizing its violation, was construed to mean that it gave the city mayor only the power
REP. ISIDRO: Two different acts. to specify the streets and public places which can be used for the purpose but not the power to ban
THE CHAIRMAN (REP. GARCIA): For example, ha. . . absolutely the use of such places. A constitutional doubt was thus resolved through a limiting
REP. ISIDRO: Now a series, meaning, repetition. . .31 construction given to the ordinance.
Thus, resort to the deliberations in Congress will readily reveal that the word "combination" includes at Nor is the alleged difference of opinion among the Ombudsman, the Solicitor General, and the
least two different overt or criminal acts listed in R.A. No. 7080, such as misappropriation (§1(d)(1)) and Sandiganbayan as to the number of acts or crimes needed to constitute plunder proof of the vagueness
taking undue advantage of official position (§1(d)(6)). On the other hand, "series" is used when the of the statute and, therefore, a ground for its invalidation. For sometime it was thought that under Art.
offender commits the same overt or criminal act more than once. There is no plunder if only one act is 134 of the Revised Penal Code convictions can be had for the complex crime of rebellion with murder,
proven, even if the ill-gotten wealth acquired thereby amounts to or exceeds the figure fixed by the law arson, and other common crimes. The question was finally resolved in 1956 when this Court held that
for the offense (now P50,000,000.00). The overt or criminal acts need not be joined or separated in space there is no such complex crime because the common crimes were absorbed in rebellion. 34 The point is
or time, since the law does not make such a qualification. It is enough that the prosecution proves that a that Art. 134 gave rise to a difference of opinion that nearly split the legal profession at the time, but no
public officer, by himself or in connivance with others, amasses wealth amounting to at least P50 million one thought Art. 134 to be vague and, therefore, void.
by committing two or more overt or criminal acts. Where, therefore, the ambiguity is not latent and the legislative intention is discoverable with the aid of
Petitioner also contends that the phrase "series of acts or transactions" is the subject of conflicting the canons of construction, the void for vagueness doctrine has no application.
decisions of various Circuit Courts of Appeals in the United Sates. It turns out that the decisions In Connally v. General Constr. Co.35 the test of vagueness was formulated as follows:
concerned a phrase in Rule 8(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure which provides: [A] statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common
(b) Joinder of Defendants: Two or more defendants may be charged in the same indictment or intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application, violates the first
information if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or transaction or in the same series of essential of due process of law.
acts or transactions constituting an offense or offenses. Such defendants may be charged in one or more Holmes’s test was that of the viewpoint of the bad man. In The Path of the Law, Holmes said:
counts together or separately and all of the defendants need not be charged on each count. (Emphasis
added)

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If you want to know the law and nothing else, you must look at it as a bad man, who cares only for the to completely disrupt the normal course of his or her growth as a human being. . . . Seen in this light, the
material consequences which such knowledge enables him to predict, not as a good one, who finds his capital crimes of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for ransom resulting in the death of the victim
reasons for conduct, whether inside the law or outside of it, in the vaguer sanctions of conscience.36 or the victim is raped, tortured, or subjected to dehumanizing acts; destructive arson resulting in death;
Whether from the point of view of a man of common intelligence or from that of a bad man, there can and drug offenses involving minors or resulting in the death of the victim in the case of other crimes; as
be no mistaking the meaning of the Anti-Plunder Law as applied to petitioner. well as murder, rape, parricide, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, where the victim is
IV. PLUNDER A COMPLEX CRIME REQUIRING PROOF OF MENS REA detained for more than three days or serious physical injuries were inflicted on the victim or threats to
Petitioner argues that, in enacting the statute in question, Congress eliminated the element of mens rea, kill him were made or the victim is a minor, robbery with homicide, rape or intentional mutilation,
or the scienter, thus reducing the burden of evidence required for proving the crimes which are mala in destructive arson, and carnapping where the owner, driver or occupant of the carnapped vehicle is killed
se.37 or raped, which are penalized by reclusion perpetua to death, are clearly heinous by their very nature.
There are two points raised in this contention. First is the question whether the crime of plunder is a There are crimes, however, in which the abomination lies in the significance and implications of the
malum in se or a malum prohibitum. For if it is a malum prohibitum, as the Ombudsman and the Solicitor subject criminal acts in the scheme of the larger socio-political and economic context in which the state
General say it is,38 then there is really a constitutional problem because the predicate crimes are mainly finds itself to be struggling to develop and provide for its poor and underprivileged masses. Reeling from
mala in se. decades of corrupt tyrannical rule that bankrupted the government and impoverished the population,
A. Plunder A Malum In Se Requiring Proof of Mens Rea the Philippine Government must muster the political will to dismantle the culture of corruption,
Plunder is a malum in se, requiring proof of criminal intent. Precisely because the constitutive crimes are dishonesty, greed and syndicated criminality that so deeply entrenched itself in the structures of society
mala in se the element of mens rea must be proven in a prosecution for plunder. It is noteworthy that the and the psyche of the populace. [With the government] terribly lacking the money to provide even the
amended information alleges that the crime of plunder was committed "willfully, unlawfully and most basic services to its people, any form of misappropriation or misapplication of government funds
criminally." It thus alleges guilty knowledge on the part of petitioner. translates to an actual threat to the very existence of government, and in turn, the very survival of the
In support of his contention that the statute eliminates the requirement of mens rea and that is the people it governs over. Viewed in this context, no less heinous are the effects and repercussions of crimes
reason he claims the statute is void, petitioner cites the following remarks of Senator Tañada made like qualified bribery, destructive arson resulting in death, and drug offenses involving government
during the deliberation on S. No. 733: officials, employees or officers, that their perpetrators must not be allowed to cause further destruction
SENATOR TAÑADA. . . . And the evidence that will be required to convict him would not be evidence for and damage to society.
each and every individual criminal act but only evidence sufficient to establish the conspiracy or scheme The legislative declaration in R.A. No. 7659 that plunder is a heinous offense implies that it is a malum in
to commit this crime of plunder.39 se. For when the acts punished are inherently immoral or inherently wrong, they are mala in se43 and it
However, Senator Tañada was discussing §4 as shown by the succeeding portion of the transcript quoted does not matter that such acts are punished in a special law, especially since in the case of plunder the
by petitioner: predicate crimes are mainly mala in se. Indeed, it would be absurd to treat prosecutions for plunder as
SENATOR ROMULO: And, Mr. President, the Gentleman feels that it is contained in Section 4, Rule of though they are mere prosecutions for violations of the Bouncing Check Law (B.P. Blg. 22) or of an
Evidence, which, in the Gentleman’s view, would provide for a speedier and faster process of attending to ordinance against jaywalking, without regard to the inherent wrongness of the acts.
this kind of cases? B. The Penalty for Plunder
SENATOR TAÑADA. Yes, Mr. President . . .40 The second question is whether under the statute the prosecution is relieved of the duty of proving
Señator Tañada was only saying that where the charge is conspiracy to commit plunder, the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the defendant. It is contended that, in enacting the Anti-Plunder
need not prove each and every criminal act done to further the scheme or conspiracy, it being enough if Law, Congress simply combined several existing crimes into a single one but the penalty which it provided
it proves beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful for the commission of the crime is grossly disproportionate to the crimes combined while the quantum of
scheme or conspiracy. As far as the acts constituting the pattern are concerned, however, the elements of proof required to prove each predicate crime is greatly reduced.
the crime must be proved and the requisite mens rea must be shown. We have already explained why, contrary to petitioner’s contention, the quantum of proof required to
Indeed, §2 provides that ¾ prove the predicate crimes in plunder is the same as that required were they separately prosecuted. We,
Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to therefore, limit this discussion to petitioner’s claim that the penalty provided in the Anti-Plunder Law is
the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the grossly disproportionate to the penalties imposed for the predicate crimes. Petitioner cites the following
degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by examples:
the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. For example, please consider the following ‘combination’ or ‘series’ of overt or criminal acts (assuming
The application of mitigating and extenuating circumstances in the Revised Penal Code to prosecutions the P50 M minimum has been acquired) in light of the penalties laid down in the Penal Code:
under the Anti-Plunder Law indicates quite clearly that mens rea is an element of plunder since the a. One act of indirect bribery (penalized under Art. 211 of the Revised Penal Code with prision
degree of responsibility of the offender is determined by his criminal intent. It is true that §2 refers to correccional in its medium and maximum periods),
"any person who participates with the said public officers in the commission of an offense contributing to – combined with –
the crime of plunder." There is no reason to believe, however, that it does not apply as well to the public one act of fraud against the public treasury (penalized under Art. 213 of the Revised Penal Code with
officer as principal in the crime. As Justice Holmes said: "We agree to all the generalities about not prision correccional in its medium period to prision mayor in its minimum period,
supplying criminal laws with what they omit, but there is no canon against using common sense in - equals -
construing laws as saying what they obviously mean."41 plunder (punished by reclusion perpetua to death plus forfeiture of assets under R.A. 7080)
Finally, any doubt as to whether the crime of plunder is a malum in se must be deemed to have been b. One act of prohibited transaction (penalized under Art. 215 of the revised Penal Code with prision
resolved in the affirmative by the decision of Congress in 1993 to include it among the heinous crimes correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from P200 to P1,000 or both),
punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Other heinous crimes are punished with death as a straight – combined with –
penalty in R.A. No. 7659. Referring to these groups of heinous crimes, this Court held in People v. one act of establishing a commercial monopoly (penalized under Art. 186 of Revised Penal Code with
Echagaray:42 prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from P200 to P6,000, or both),
The evil of a crime may take various forms. There are crimes that are, by their very nature, despicable, -equals-
either because life was callously taken or the victim is treated like an animal and utterly dehumanized as plunder (punished by reclusion perpetua to death, and forfeiture of assets under R.A. 7080.

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c. One act of possession of prohibited interest by a public officer (penalized with prision correccional in For these reasons, I respectfully submit that R.A. No. 7080 is valid and that, therefore, the petition should
its minimum period or a fine of P200 to P1,000, or both under Art. 216 of the Revised Penal Code), be dismissed.
– combined with – SEPARATE OPINION
one act of combination or conspiracy in restraint of trade (penalized under Art. 186 of the Revised penal (Concurring)
Code with prision correccional in its minimum period, or a fine of P200 to P1,000, or both, PANGANIBAN, J.:
- equals - In his Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada
plunder, punished by reclusion perpetua to death, and forfeiture of assets)44 seeks the annulment of the Sandiganbayan Resolution dated July 9, 2001, which denied his Motion to
But this is also the case whenever other special complex crimes are created out of two or more existing Quash. He further prays to prohibit the anti-graft court from conducting the trial of petitioner in Criminal
crimes. For example, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons under Art. 294, par. 5 of Case No. 26558, on the ground that the statute under which he has been charged – the Anti-Plunder Law
the Revised Penal Code is punished with prision correccional in its maximum period (4 years, 2 months, or Republic Act (RA) 7080 -- is unconstitutional.
and 1 day) to prision mayor in its medium period (6 years and 1 day to 8 years). Homicide under Art. 249 In sum, he submits three main arguments to support his thesis, as follows:
of the same Code is punished with reclusion temporal (12 years and 1 day to 20 years). But when the two 1. "RA 7080 is vague and overbroad on its face and suffers from structural deficiency and
crimes are committed on the same occasion, the law treats them as a special complex crime of robbery ambiguity."1
with homicide and provides the penalty of reclusion perpetua to death for its commission. Again, the 2. "RA 7080 reduces the standard of proof necessary for criminal conviction, and dispenses
penalty for simple rape under Art. 266-B of the Revised Penal Code is reclusion perpetua, while that for with proof beyond reasonable doubt of each and every criminal act done in furtherance of the
homicide under Art. 249 it is reclusion temporal (12 years and 1 day to 20 years). Yet, when committed on crime of plunder."2
the same occasion, the two are treated as one special complex crime of rape with homicide and 3. "RA 7080 has been admitted by respondent to be malum prohibita which deprives
punished with a heavier penalty of reclusion perpetua to death. Obviously, the legislature views plunder petitioner of a basic defense in violation of due process."3
as a crime as serious as robbery with homicide or rape with homicide by punishing it with the same I have read former President Estrada’s Petition, Reply, Memorandum and other pleadings and listened
penalty. As the explanatory note accompanying S. No. 733 explains: carefully to his Oral Argument. However, I cannot agree with his thesis, for the following reasons:
Plunder, a term chosen from other equally apt terminologies like kleptocracy and economic treason, (1) RA 7080 is not vague or overbroad. Quite the contrary, it is clear and specific especially on
punishes the use of high office for personal enrichment, committed thru a series of acts done not in the what it seeks to prohibit and to penalize.
public eye but in stealth and secrecy over a period of time, that may involve so many persons, here and (2) The Anti-Plunder Law does not lessen the degree of proof necessary to convict its violator
abroad, and which touch so many states and territorial units. The acts and/or omissions sought to be -- in this case, petitioner.
penalized do not involve simple cases of malversation of public funds, bribery, extortion, theft and graft (3) Congress has the constitutional power to enact laws that are mala prohibita and, in
but constitute the plunder of an entire nation resulting in material damage to the national economy. The exercising such power, does not violate due process of law.
above-described crime does not yet exist in Philippine statute books. Thus, the need to come up with a First Issue: "Void for Vagueness" Not Applicable
legislation as a safeguard against the possible recurrence of the depravities of the previous regime and as In the main, petitioner attacks RA 7080 for being allegedly vague and ambiguous, for "wanting in its
a deterrent to those with similar inclination to succumb to the corrupting influences of power. essential terms," and for failing to "define what degree of participation means as [it] relates to the person
Many other examples drawn from the Revised Penal Code and from special laws may be cited to show or persons charged with having participated with a public officer in the commission of plunder." 4
that, when special complex crimes are created out of existing crimes, the penalty for the new crime is In Dans v. People,5 reiterated recently in Sajul v. Sandiganbayan,6 this Court debunked the "void for
heavier. vagueness" challenge to the constitutionality of Section 3(g) of the Anti-Graft Law (RA 3019, as amended)
______________________ and laid down the test to determine whether a statute is vague. It has decreed that as long as a penal law
To recapitulate, had R.A. No. 7080 been a law regulating speech, I would have no hesitation examining it can answer the basic query "What is the violation?," it is constitutional. "Anything beyond this, the
on its face on the chance that some of its provisions ¾ even though not here before us ¾ are void. For ‘hows’ and the ‘whys,’ are evidentiary matters which the law cannot possibly disclose in view of the
then the risk that some state interest might be jeopardized, i.e., the interest in the free flow of uniqueness of every case x x x."
information or the prevention of "chill" on the freedom of expression, would trump any marginal interest Elements of Plunder
in security. The Anti-Plunder Law more than adequately answers the question "What is the violation?" Indeed, to
But the Anti-Plunder Law is not a regulation of speech. It is a criminal statute designed to combat graft answer this question, any law student -- using basic knowledge of criminal law -- will refer to the
and corruption, especially those committed by highly-placed public officials. As conduct and not speech is elements of the crime, which in this case are plainly and certainly spelled out in a straightforward manner
its object, the Court cannot take chances by examining other provisions not before it without risking vital in Sections 2 and 1(d) thereof. Those elements are:
interests of society. Accordingly, such statute must be examined only "as applied" to the defendant and, if 1. The offender is a public officer acting by himself or in connivance with members of his
found valid as to him, the statute as a whole should not be declared unconstitutional for overbreadth or family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other
vagueness of its other provisions. Doing so, I come to the following conclusions: persons.
1. That the validity of R.A. No. 7080, otherwise known as the Anti-Plunder Law, cannot be 2. The offender amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth.
determined by applying the test of strict scrutiny in free speech cases without disastrous 3. The aggregate amount or total value of the ill-gotten wealth so amassed, accumulated or
consequences to the State’s effort to prosecute crimes and that, contrary to petitioner’s acquired is at least fifty million pesos (₱50,000,000).
contention, the statute must be presumed to be constitutional; 4. Such ill-gotten wealth -- defined as any asset, property, business enterprise or material
2. That in determining the constitutionality of the Anti-Plunder Law, its provisions must be possession of any of the aforesaid persons (the persons within the purview of Section 2, RA
considered in light of the particular acts alleged to have been committed by petitioner; 7080) -- has been acquired directly or indirectly through dummies, nominees, agents,
3. That, as applied to petitioner, the statute is neither vague nor overbroad; subordinates and/or business associates by any combination or series of the following means
4. That, contrary to the contention of the Ombudsman and the Solicitor General, the crime of or similar schemes:
plunder is a malum in se and not a malum prohibitum and the burden of proving each and (i) through misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of public funds or
every predicate crime is on the prosecution. raids on the public treasury;

69
(ii) by receiving, directly or indirectly, any commission, gift, share, percentage, At this juncture, may I call attention to the Record of the Joint Conference Meeting held on May 7,
kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in 1991.16 The portion thereof relied upon by petitioner17 features the exchanges involving Representatives
connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or Garcia and Isidro and Senator Tañada on the meanings of the terms combination and series. The quoted
position of the public officer concerned; part of the Record would suggest that, somehow, particularly towards the end of the meeting, the
(iii) by the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the discussion among the legislators seemed to have degenerated into a clutch of unfinished sentences and
national government or any of its subdivisions, agencies or instrumentalities or unintelligible phrases. Still, I believe that the deliberations did not actually sound the way they were
government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; subsequently transcribed or as they now appear on the Record. Even more reluctant am I to agree with
(iv) by obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, petitioner that the apparent tenor of the deliberations evinced "a dearth of focus to render precise the
equity or any other form of interest or participation including the promise of future definition of the terms," or that the Committee members themselves were not clear on the meanings of
employment in any business enterprise or undertaking; the terms in question.
(v) by establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other Most of us in the legal profession are all too familiar with the vagaries of stenographic note-taking,
combination and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit especially in courtrooms and legislative halls. Too often, lawyers, parties-litigants and even judges find
particular persons or special interests; or themselves at the mercy of stenographers who are unfamiliar with certain legal terms; or who cannot
(vi) by taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, hear well enough or take notes fast enough; or who simply get confused, particularly when two or more
connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense persons happen to be speaking at the same time. Often, transcripts of stenographic notes have portrayed
and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the lawyers, witnesses, legislators and judges as blithering idiots, spouting utterly nonsensical jargon and
Philippines.7 plain inanities in the course of a proceeding. The Record in question is no exception.
Petitioner argues that, notwithstanding the above-detailed statement of the elements of the crime, there Rather than believe that the distinguished lawmakers went about their business uttering senseless half-
is still vagueness because of the absence of definitions of the terms combination, series and pattern in sentences to one another, I think that these learned and intelligent legislators of both chambers knew
the text of the law. what they were talking about, spoke their minds, and understood each other well, for the Record itself
Citing People v. Nazario,8 petitioner adds that "a statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks does not indicate the contrary. Neither does it show any details or minutiae that would indicate that they
comprehensible standards that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and abandoned their earlier common understanding of the terms combination and series.
differ as to its application." Specific Number or
I say, however, that in that very case cited by petitioner, the Court cautioned that "the act (or law) must Percentage Not Always Necessary
be utterly vague on its face." When it can be "clarified either by a saving clause or by construction," the Regrettably, I shall also have to take issue with petitioner’s disquisition to the effect that "when penal
law cannot be decreed as invalid. In other words, the absence of statutory definitions of words used in a laws enacted by Congress make reference to a term or concept requiring a quantitative definition, these
statute will not render the law "void for vagueness," if the meanings of such words can be determined laws are so crafted as to specifically state the exact number or percentage necessary to constitute the
through the judicial function of construction.9 elements of a crime," followed by a recitation of the minimum number of malefactors mentioned in the
Solution: Simple statutory definitions of band, conspiracy, illegal recruitment by syndicate, large-scale illegal recruitment,
Statutory Construction organized/syndicated crime group, and swindling by a syndicate. Thus, he insinuates that, because RA
Indeed, simple statutory construction, not a declaration of unconstitutionality, is the key to the allegedly 7080 has failed to specify precisely the minimum number of malefactors needed for an offense to be
vague words of the Anti-Plunder Law. And the most basic rule in statutory construction is to ascertain the properly classified as plunder, the law is vague or has somehow failed to meet the standard for penal
meaning of a term from the legislative proceedings. Verily, in the judicial review of a law’s meaning, the laws.
legislative intent is paramount.10 The aforequoted discourse would appear to be incongruous, if not totally misleading. As pointed out
Pervading the deliberations of the Bicameral Conference Committee on Justice held on May 7, 1991 was during the Oral Argument on September 18, 2001, the crime of plunder can be committed by a public
the common understanding of combination as a joining or combining of at least two dissimilar things or officer acting alone. Section 2 of RA 7080 reads as follows: "Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties.
acts, and series as a repetition or recurrence of the same thing at least twice. 11 As a matter of fact, the – Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with x x x." Thus, the insistence on a mathematical
same understanding of those terms also prevailed during the Senate deliberations on Senate Bill No. 733 specification or precise quantification is essentially without basis. And lest anyone believe that the Anti-
(Plunder) earlier held on June 6, 1989.12 The Records of those deliberations speak for themselves. Plunder Law is unusual in this respect, let me just recall that the RICO law, to which petitioner made
It is true that during the deliberations in the Senate, the late Senator Neptali A. Gonzales initially raised repeated references in his Amended Petition, can likewise be violated by a single individual. 18
concerns over the alleged vagueness in the use of the terms combination and series. I respectfully Not Oppressive
submit, however, that the reliance13 of petitioner on such concerns is misplaced. That portion of the or Arbitrary
interpellations, evincing the late senator’s reservations on the matter, had taken place during the session Neither can it be said that RA 7080 is oppressive or arbitrary for imposing a more severe penalty on a
of June 5, 1989.14 And the clarificatory remarks of Senate President Jovito R. Salonga and Senators combination or series of the offenses enumerated in Section 1(d) of the law, than would otherwise be
Wigberto Tañada, Alberto Romulo and Ernesto Maceda, which threw light on the matters in doubt, imposed if the said offenses were taken separately. As Mr. Justice Mendoza lucidly pointed out in his
happened the following day, June 6, 1989.15 In brief, the misgivings voiced by Senator Gonzales as to the interpellation during the Oral Argument, the Anti-Plunder Law is merely employing a familiar technique
use of the two terms were adequately addressed, answered and disposed of the following day. or feature of penal statutes, when it puts together what would otherwise be various combinations of
Thus, Senate Bill No. 733, defining and penalizing plunder, was passed and approved on third reading on traditional offenses already proscribed by existing laws and attaching thereto higher or more severe
July 25, 1989, with 19 affirmative votes (including those of Senators Gonzales, Tañada, Maceda, and penalties than those prescribed for the same offenses taken separately.
petitioner himself) sans any negative vote or abstention. Indeed, some of the sharpest legal minds in the Here, Mr. Justice Mendoza is referring to special complex crimes like rape with homicide or robbery with
country voted to approve the bill, even though it was bereft of statutory definitions. Likewise, it would homicide. During the Oral Argument, he asked whether petitioner’s counsel was in fact suggesting that
certainly be inconceivable for Senator Gonzales to have voted for the approval of the Bill had he believed such special complex crimes -- a very important part of the Revised Penal Code and well-entrenched in
that it was vague to the point of constitutional infirmity; or at the very least, if he believed that his earlier our penal system -- were violative of due process and the constitutional guarantees against cruel and
reservations or apprehensions were not fully satisfied. unusual punishment and should also be struck down. It goes without saying that the legislature is well

70
within its powers to provide higher penalties in view of the grave evils sought to be prevented by RA right to free speech and information. The prohibition in Adiong, therefore, was so broad that it covered
7080. even constitutionally guaranteed rights and, hence, void for overbreadth. In the present case, however,
Innocent Acts Not appellant did not even specify what constitutionally protected freedoms are embraced by the definition
Penalized by RA 7080 of ‘recruitment and placement’ that would render the same constitutionally overbroad." (Italics supplied)
Petitioner insists that innocent acts are in effect criminalized by RA 7080, because it allegedly penalizes Similarly, in the instant case, petitioner has not identified which of his constitutionally protected
combinations or series of acts coming within the purview of the means or similar schemes enumerated freedoms, if any, are allegedly being violated by the Anti-Plunder Law. As Mr. Justice Mendoza pointed
under items 4 and 5 of Section 1(d) of the law, which reads as follows: out to petitioner’s counsel during the Oral Argument, specious and even frivolous is the contention that
"4. By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stock, equity or any other RA 7080 infringes on the constitutional right of petitioner by depriving him of his liberty pending trial and
forms of interest or participation including the promise of future employment in any business enterprise by paving the way for his possible conviction because, following that line of argument, the entire Revised
or undertaking; Penal Code would be reckoned to be an infringement of constitutional rights.
"5. By establishing agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combinations and/or "Pattern of Overt or Criminal Acts"
implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests" Petitioner, in line with his "void for vagueness" attack on RA 7080, faults the statute for failing to provide
That such contention "deserves scant attention" is an understatement of the extreme sort. The claim of a definition of the phrase a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or
"innocent acts" is possible only because items 4 and 5 have been taken completely out of context and conspiracy used in Section 4 of the law. This definition is crucial since, according to him, such pattern is
read in isolation instead of in relation to the other provisions of the same law, particularly Section 2. The an essential element of the crime of plunder.
above-enumerated acts, means or similar schemes must be understood as having reference to or A plain reading of the law easily debunks this contention. First, contrary to petitioner’s suggestions, such
connection with the acquisition of ill-gotten wealth by a public officer, by himself or in connivance with pattern of overt or criminal acts and so on is not and should not be deemed an essential or substantive
others. Those acts are therefore not innocent acts. Neither are those prohibitions new or unfamiliar. The element of the crime of plunder. It is possible to give full force and effect to RA 7080 without applying
proscribed acts under item 4, for instance, may to some extent be traced back to some of the Section 4 -- an accused can be charged and convicted under the Anti-Plunder Law without resorting to
prohibitions in RA 3019 (the Anti-Graft Law). Section 3, the pertinent part of such law, reads as follows: that specific provision. After all, the heading and the text of Section 4, which I quote below, leave no
"SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. - In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already room for doubt that it is not substantive in nature:
penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are "SEC. 4. Rule of Evidence. - For purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be necessary to
hereby declared to be unlawful: prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or conspiracy to
"(a) x x x x x x x x x amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth, it being sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt a
"(b) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present, share, percentage, or benefit, for pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful scheme or conspiracy." (Boldface
himself or for any other person, in connection with any contract or transaction between the Government supplied)
and any other party wherein the public officer in his official capacity has to intervene under the law. As Mr. Chief Justice Davide very astutely pointed out during the Oral Argument, Section 2 in relation to
"(c) Directly or indirectly requesting or receiving any gift, present or other pecuniary or material benefit, Section 1(d) deals with how the crime of plunder is committed. Hence, these two sections constitute the
for himself or for another, from any person for whom the public officer, in any manner or capacity, has substantive elements, whereas Section 4 deals with how the crime is proved and is therefore not
secured or obtained, or will secure or obtain, any Government permit or license, in consideration for the substantive, but merely procedural. It may be disregarded or discarded if found defective or deficient,
help given or to be given, without prejudice to Section Thirteen of this Act. without impairing the rest of the statute.
"(d) Accepting or having any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has Actually, the root of this problem may be traced to an observation made by Rep. Pablo Garcia, chair of
pending official business with him during the pendency thereof or within one year after its termination. the House Committee on Justice, that RA 7080 had been patterned after the RICO Law. 20 Petitioner
xxx xxx xxx apparently seized on this statement and on the assertions in H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell21 and other
"(h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in cases that a pattern of racketeering is a "key requirement" in the RICO Law and a "necessary element" of
connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by violations thereof. He then used these as the springboard for his vagueness attacks on RA 7080. However,
the Constitution or by any law from having any interest. his reliance on the RICO law is essentially misplaced. Respondent Sandiganbayan correctly held that the
x x x x x x x x x." said legislation was essentially different from our Anti-Plunder Law, as it pointed out in its Resolution of
On the other hand, the prohibited acts under item 5 have antecedents in the Revised Penal Code’s July 9, 2001, which I quote:
interdiction against monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade. Clearly, the acts dealt with in "Accused Joseph E. Estrada claims that the Anti-Plunder Law does not define ‘pattern of overt or criminal
Items 4 and 5 of Section 1(d) are in no wise the innocent or innocuous deeds that petitioner would have acts’ indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy, thereby giving prosecutors and judges unlimited
us mistake them for. discretion to determine the nature and extent of evidence that would show ‘pattern.’" (Motion to Quash
RA 7080 Not Suffering from Overbreadth dated June 7, 2001, p. 13) The Court disagrees with this contention.
In connection with the foregoing discussion, petitioner also charges that RA 7080 suffers from "x x x. According to the sponsors of the Anti-Plunder Law in Congress, the said law is similar to the U.S.
"overbreadth." I believe petitioner misconstrues the concept. In the very recent case People v. Dela RICO (Deliberations of the House of Representatives Committee on Revision of Law and Justice, May 24,
Piedra,19 this Court held: 1990). However, the similarities extend only insofar as both laws penalize with severe penalties the
"A statute may be said to be overbroad where it operates to inhibit the exercise of individual freedoms commission by a single accused or multiple accused of a pattern of overt or criminal acts as one
affirmatively guaranteed by the Constitution, such as the freedom of speech or religion. A generally continuing crime. However, the legislative policies and objectives as well as the nature of the crimes
worded statute, when construed to punish conduct which cannot be constitutionally punished, is penalized respectively by the RICO and the Anti-Plunder Law are different." (Boldface and underscoring
unconstitutionally vague to the extent that it fails to give adequate warning of the boundary between the supplied)
constitutionally permissible and the constitutionally impermissible applications of the statute. Indeed, a careful reading of RICO vis-à-vis RA 7080 can lead to no other conclusion than that the crimes
"In Blo Umpar Adiong vs. Commission on Elections, for instance, we struck down as void for overbreadth being penalized are completely different in nature and character, and that the legislative objectives and
provisions prohibiting the posting of election propaganda in any place – including private vehicles – other policies involved are quite dissimilar.
than in the common poster areas sanctioned by the COMELEC. We held that the challenged provisions
not only deprived the owner of the vehicle the use of his property but also deprived the citizen of his

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In the case of RICO, legislative concern focused on the threat of continued racketeering activity, and that "Senator Paterno. I respect the ministerial attitude and the respect for human life of the author, Mr.
was why pattern was imbued with such importance. "Congress was concerned in RICO with long-term President, but I just feel that graft and corruption is such a large problem in our society that, perhaps, it is
criminal conduct,"22 as the following quote indicates: necessary for this Congress to express itself that this crime of plunder is a heinous crime which should be
"RICO’s legislative history reveals Congress’ intent that to prove a pattern of racketeering activity a levied the death penalty, Mr. President."26
plaintiff or prosecutor must show that the racketeering predicates are related, and that they amount to Thus, it is clear and unarguable that "pattern," a key requirement or necessary element of RICO, is in no
or pose a threat of continued criminal activity.23 wise an essential element of RA 7080.
xxx xxx xxx This conclusion is further bolstered by the fact that pattern, in the RICO law context, is nowhere to be
"What a plaintiff or prosecutor must prove is continuity of racketeering activity, or its threat, simpliciter. found in the language of RA 7080 or in the deliberations of Congress. Indeed, the legislators were well
This may be done in a variety of ways, thus making it difficult to formulate in the abstract any general test aware of the RICO Act; hence, they could have opted to adopt its concepts, terms and definitions and
for continuity. We can, however, begin to delineate the requirement. installed pattern in the RICO sense as an essential element of the crime of plunder, if that were their
"‘Continuity’ is both a closed and open-ended concept, referring either to a closed period of repeated intent. At the very least, they would not have relegated the term pattern to a procedural provision such as
conduct, or to past conduct that by its nature projects into the future with a threat of repetition. x x x. It Section 4.
is, in either case, centrally a temporal concept – and particularly so in the RICO context, where what must Second, to answer petitioner’s contention directly, the Anti-Plunder Law does in fact provide sufficient
be continuous, RICO’s predicate acts or offenses, and the relationship these predicates must bear one to basis to get at the meaning of the term pattern as used in Section 4. This meaning is brought out in the
another, are distinct requirements. A party alleging a RICO violation may demonstrate continuity over a disquisition of Respondent Sandiganbayan in its challenged Resolution, reproduced hereunder:
closed period by proving a series of related predicates extending over a substantial period of time. "The term ‘pattern’ x x x is sufficiently defined in the Anti-Plunder Law, specifically through Section 4 x x
Predicate acts extending over a few weeks or months and threatening no future criminal conduct do not x, read in relation to Section 1(d) and Section 2 of the same law. Firstly, under Section 1(d) x x x, a pattern
satisfy this requirement. Congress was concerned in RICO with long-term criminal conduct. Often a RICO consists of at least a combination or a series of overt or criminal acts enumerated in subsections (1) to (6)
action will be brought before continuity can be established in this way. In such cases, liability depends on of Section 1(d). Secondly, pursuant to Section 2 of the law, the ‘pattern’ of overt or criminal acts is
whether the threat of continuity is demonstrated."24 (italics and underscoring supplied) directed towards a common purpose or goal which is to enable a public officer to amass, accumulate or
However, in RA 7080, precisely because of the sheer magnitude of the crimes in question and their acquire ill-gotten wealth; and [t]hirdly, there must either be an ‘overall unlawful scheme’ or ‘conspiracy’
extremely deleterious effects on society, the legislative sentiment of great urgency – the necessity of to achieve said common goal. As commonly understood, the term ‘overall unlawful scheme’ indicates ‘a
immediate deterrence of such crimes -- was incompatible with the RICO concept of "pattern" as general plan of action or method’ which the principal accused and public officer and others conniving
connoting either continuity over a substantial period of time or threat of continuity or repetition. The with him follow to achieve the aforesaid common goal. In the alternative, if there is no such overall
legislative intent25 and policy of RA 7080 centered on imposing a heavy penalty in order to achieve a scheme or where the schemes or methods used by multiple accused vary, the overt or criminal acts must
strong, if not permanent, deterrent effect -- the sooner the better. The following Senate deliberations are form part of a conspiracy to attain said common goal.
instructive: "Parenthetically, it can be said that the existence of a pattern indicating an overall scheme or a single
"Senator Paterno. Mr. President, [I’m] not too clear yet on the reason for trying to define a crime of conspiracy would serve as the link that will tie the overt or criminal acts into one continuing crime of
plunder. Could I get some further clarification? plunder. A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come into an agreement concerning the
"Senator Tañada. Yes, Mr. President. commission of a felony and decide to commit it. (Art. 8, Revised Penal Code). To use an analogy made by
"Because of our experience in the former regime, we feel that there is a need for Congress to pass the U.S. courts in connection with RICO violations, a pattern may be likened to a wheel with spokes (the overt
legislation which would cover a crime of this magnitude. While it is true, we already have the Anti-Graft or criminal acts which may be committed by a single or multiple accused), meeting at a common center
Law. But that does not directly deal with plunder. That covers only the corrupt practices of public officials (the acquisition or accumulation of ill-gotten wealth by a public officer) and with the rim (the over-all
as well as their spouses and relatives within the civil degree, and the Anti-Graft law as presently worded unlawful scheme or conspiracy) of the wheel enclosing the spokes. In this case, the information charges
would not adequately or sufficiently address the problems that we experienced during the past regime. only one count of [the] crime of plunder, considering the prosecution’s allegation in the amended
"Senator Paterno. May I try to give the Gentleman, Mr. President, my understanding of the bill? information that the series or combination of overt or criminal acts charged form part of a conspiracy
"Senator Tañada. Yes. among all the accused."27
"Senator Paterno. I envision that this bill or this kind of plunder would cover a discovered interconnection Judiciary Empowered to Construe and Apply the Law
of certain acts, particularly, violations of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when, after the different At all events, let me stress that the power to construe law is essentially judicial. To declare what the law
acts are looked at, a scheme or conspiracy can be detected, such scheme or conspiracy consummated by shall be is a legislative power, but to declare what the law is or has been is judicial.28 Statutes enacted by
the different criminal acts or violations of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, such that the scheme or Congress cannot be expected to spell out with mathematical precision how the law should be interpreted
conspiracy becomes a sin, as a large scheme to defraud the public or rob the public treasury. It is parang under any and all given situations. The application of the law will depend on the facts and circumstances
robo and banda. It is considered as that. And, the bill seeks to define or says that P100 million is that level as adduced by evidence which will then be considered, weighed and evaluated by the courts. Indeed, it is
at which ay talagang sobra na, dapat nang parusahan ng husto. Would it be a correct interpretation or the constitutionally mandated function of the courts to interpret, construe and apply the law as would
assessment of the intent of the bill? give flesh and blood to the true meaning of legislative enactments.
"Senator Tañada. Yes, Mr. President. X x x x x. Moreover, a statute should be construed in the light of the objective to be achieved and the evil or
"Senator Paterno. Would the Author not agree that this crime of plunder should be considered a heinous mischief to be suppressed and should be given such construction as will advance the purpose, suppress
crime, Mr. President? the mischief or evil, and secure the benefits intended.29 A law is not a mere composition, but an end to
"Senator Tañada. Yes, Mr. President. That is why, the penalty imposed under this bill is life imprisonment, be achieved; and its general purpose is a more important aid to its meaning than any rule that grammar
and permanent disqualification from holding public office. may lay down.30 A construction should be rejected if it gives to the language used in a statute a meaning
"Senator Paterno. I would really ask, Mr. President, whether the Author would not consider that this is a that does not accomplish the purpose for which the statute was enacted and that tends to defeat the
heinous crime which, for compelling reasons, namely to try and dampen the graft and corruption, ends that are sought to be attained by its enactment.31
Congress should provide the death penalty for the crime of plunder. As can be gleaned from the legislative deliberations, the Plunder Law was enacted to curb the
"Senator Tañada. I personally would have some problem with that, Mr. President, because I am against "despoliation of the National Treasury by some public officials who have held the levers of power" and to
the restoration of death penalty in our criminal code. I would submit that to this Body. penalize "this predatory act which has reached unprecedented heights and has been developed by its

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practitioners to a high level of sophistication during the past dictatorial regime." Viewed broadly, interpreting statutes: that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it will be presumed that the
"plunder involves not just plain thievery but economic depredation which affects not just private parties legislature intended to enact a valid, sensible and just law; that the law-making body intended right and
or personal interests but the nation as a whole." Invariably, plunder partakes of the nature of "a crime justice to prevail;42 and that the legislature aimed to impart to its enactments such meaning as would
against national interest which must be stopped, and if possible, stopped permanently."32 render them operative and effective and prevent persons from eluding or defeating them.
No Patent and Clear Conflict with Constitution Second, petitioner’s allegation is contradicted by the legislative Records that manifest the real intent
Against the foregoing backdrop, I believe petitioner’s heavy reliance on the void-for-vagueness concept behind Section 4, as well as the true meaning and purpose of the provision therein. This intent is
cannot prevail, considering that such concept, while mentioned in passing in Nazario and other cases, carefully expressed by the words of Senate President Salonga:
has yet to find direct application in our jurisdiction. To this date, the Court has not declared any penal law "Senate Pres. Salonga. Is that, if there are let’s say 150 crimes all in all, criminal acts, whether bribery,
unconstitutional on the ground of ambiguity.33 On the other hand, the constitutionality of certain penal misappropriation, malversation, extortion, you need not prove all of those beyond reasonable doubt. If
statutes has been upheld in several cases, notwithstanding allegations of ambiguity in the provisions of you can prove by pattern, let’s say 10, but each must be proved beyond reasonable doubt, you do not
law. In Caram Resources Corp. v. Contreras34 and People v. Morato,35 the Court upheld the validity of BP have to prove 150 crimes. That’s the meaning of this."43 (italics supplied)
22 (Bouncing Checks Law) and PD 1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms), respectively, despite All told, the above explanation is in consonance with what is often perceived to be the reality with
constitutional challenges grounded on alleged ambiguity. respect to the crime of plunder -- that "the actual extent of the crime may not, in its breadth and
Similarly, the cases cited by petitioner involving U.S. federal court decisions relative to the RICO Law did entirety, be discovered, by reason of the ‘stealth and secrecy’ in which it is committed and the
not at all arrive at a finding of unconstitutionality of the questioned statute. To repeat, reference to these involvement of ‘so many persons here and abroad and [the fact that it] touches so many states and
U.S. cases is utterly misplaced, considering the substantial differences in the nature, policies and territorial units.’"44 Hence, establishing a pattern indicative of the overall unlawful scheme becomes
objectives between the RICO Law and the Anti-Plunder Law. Verily, "the RICO Law does not create a new relevant and important.
type of substantive crime since any acts which are punishable under the RICO Law also are punishable Proof of Pattern Beyond Reasonable Doubt
under existing federal and state statutes."36 Moreover, the main purpose of the RICO Law is "to seek the Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that the indicative pattern must be proven beyond reasonable
eradication of organized crime in the United States."37 doubt. To my mind, this means that the prosecution’s burden of proving the crime of plunder is, in
On the other hand, the Plunder Law creates an entirely new crime that may consist of both (a) criminal actuality, much greater than in an ordinary criminal case. The prosecution, in establishing a pattern of
acts already punished by the Revised Penal Code or special laws and (b) acts that may not be punishable overt or criminal acts, must necessarily show a combination or series of acts within the purview of
by previously existing laws. Furthermore, unlike in the RICO Law, the motivation behind the enactment of Section 1(d) of the law.
the Anti-Plunder Law is "the need to for a penal law that can adequately cope with the nature and These acts which constitute the combination or series must still be proven beyond reasonable doubt. On
magnitude of the corruption of the previous regime"38 in accordance with the constitutional duty of the top of that, the prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt such pattern of overt or criminal
State "to take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption."39 acts indicative of the overall scheme or conspiracy, as well as all the other elements thereof.
In sum, the law must be proven to be clearly and unequivocally repugnant to the Constitution before this Thus, Respondent Sandiganbayan was correct in its ratiocination on that point:
Court may declare its unconstitutionality. To strike down the law, there must be a clear showing that "The accused misread the import and meaning of the above-quoted provision (Sec. 4). The latter did not
what the fundamental law prohibits, the statute allows to be done.40 To justify the nullification of the law, lower the quantum of evidence necessary to prove all the elements of plunder, which still remains proof
there must be a clear, unequivocal breach of the Constitution; not a doubtful, argumentative beyond reasonable doubt. For a clearer understanding of the import of Section 4 of the Anti-Plunder Law,
implication.41 Of some terms in the law which are easily clarified by judicial construction, petitioner has, quoted hereunder are pertinent portions of the legislative deliberations on the subject:
at best, managed merely to point out alleged ambiguities. Far from establishing, by clear and ‘MR. ALBANO. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is also elementary in our criminal law that what is alleged in the
unmistakable terms, any patent and glaring conflict with the Constitution, the constitutional challenge to information must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. If we will prove only one act and find him guilty of
the Anti-Plunder law must fail. For just as the accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence in the the other acts enumerated in the information, does that not work against the right of the accused
absence of proof beyond reasonable doubt, so must a law be accorded the presumption of especially so if the amount committed, say, by falsification is less than P100 million, but the totality of the
constitutionality without the same requisite quantum of proof. crime committed is P100 million since there is malversation, bribery, falsification of public document,
Second Issue: coercion, theft?
Quantum of Evidence Not Lowered by RA 7080 ‘MR. GARCIA (P). Mr. Speaker, not everything alleged in the information needs to be proved beyond
I will now tackle petitioner’s impassioned asseverations that the Anti-Plunder Law violates the due reasonable doubt. What is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt is every element of the crime
process clause and the constitutional presumption of innocence. charged. For example, Mr. Speaker, there is an enumeration of the things taken by the robber in the
Section 4 of RA 7080 provides that, for purposes of establishing the crime of plunder, it shall not be information – three pairs of pants, pieces of jewelry. These need not be proved beyond reasonable
necessary to prove each and every criminal act done by the accused in furtherance of the scheme or doubt, but these will not prevent the conviction of a crime for which he was charged just because, say,
conspiracy to amass, accumulate or acquire ill-gotten wealth. This is because it would be sufficient to instead of 3 pairs of diamond earrings the prosecution proved only two. Now, what is required to be
establish beyond reasonable doubt a pattern of overt or criminal acts indicative of the overall unlawful proved beyond reasonable doubt is the element of the offense.
scheme or conspiracy. ‘MR. ALBANO. I am aware of that, Mr. Speaker, but considering that in the crime of plunder the totality of
Hence, petitioner now concludes that the Anti-Plunder Law "eliminates proof of each and every the amount is very important, I feel that such a series of overt (or) criminal acts has to be taken singly.
component criminal act of plunder by the accused and limits itself to establishing just the pattern of For instance, in the act of bribery, he was able to accumulate only ₱50,000 and in the crime of extortion,
overt or criminal acts indicative of unlawful scheme or conspiracy." He thus claims that the statute he was only able to accumulate P1 million. Now, when we add the totality of the other acts as required
penalizes the accused on the basis of a proven scheme or conspiracy to commit plunder, without the under this bill through the interpretation on the rule of evidence, it is just one single act, so how can we
necessity of establishing beyond reasonable doubt each and every criminal act done by the accused. now convict him?
From these premises, he precipitately, albeit inaccurately, concludes that RA 7080 has ipso facto lowered ‘MR. GARCIA (P). With due respect, Mr. Speaker, for purposes of proving an essential element of the
the quantum of evidence required to secure a conviction under the challenged law. This is clearly crime, there is a need to prove that element beyond reasonable doubt. For example, one essential
erroneous. element of the crime is that the amount involved is P100 million. Now, in a series of defalcations and
First, petitioner’s allegation as to the meaning and implications of Section 4 can hardly be taken seriously, other acts of corruption and in the enumeration the total amount would be P110 or P120 million, but
because it runs counter to certain basic common sense presumptions that apply to the process of there are certain acts that could not be proved, so, we will sum up the amounts involved in these

73
transactions which were proved. Now, if the amount involved in these transactions, proved beyond "In the opinion of this Court it is not necessary that the appellant should have acted with criminal intent.
reasonable doubt, is P100 million, then there is a crime of plunder.’ (Deliberations of House of In many crimes, made such by statutory enactment, the intention of the person who commits the crime
Representatives on RA 7080, dated October 9, 1990).’ is entirely immaterial. This is necessarily so. If it were not, the statute as a deterrent influence would be
xxx xxx xxx substantially worthless. It would be impossible of execution. In many cases the act complained of is itself
"According to the Explanatory Note of Senate Bill No. 733, the crime of plunder, which is a ‘term chosen that which produces the pernicious effect which the statute seeks to avoid. In those cases the pernicious
from other equally apt terminologies like kleptocracy and economic treason, punishes the use of high effect is produced with precisely the same force and result whether the intention of the person
office for personal enrichment, committed through a series [or combination] of acts done not in the performing the act is good or bad. The case at bar is a perfect illustration of this. The display of a flag or
public eye but in stealth or secrecy over a period of time, that may involve so many persons, here and emblem used, particularly within a recent period, by the enemies of the Government tends to incite
abroad, and which touch so many states and territorial units.’ For this reason, it would be unreasonable resistance to governmental functions and insurrection against governmental authority just as effectively
to require the prosecution to prove all the overt and criminal acts committed by the accused as part of an if made in the best of good faith as if made with the most corrupt intent. The display itself, without the
‘over-all unlawful scheme or conspiracy’ to amass ill-gotten wealth as long as all the elements of the intervention of any other factor, is the evil. It is quite different from that large class of crimes, made such
crime of plunder have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, such as, the combination or series of overt by the common law or by statute, in which the injurious effect upon the public depends upon the corrupt
or criminal acts committed by a public officer alone or in connivance with other persons to accumulate intention of the person perpetrating the act. If A discharges a loaded gun and kills B, the interest which
ill-gotten wealth in the amount of at least Fifty Million Pesos. society has in the act depends, not upon B’s death, but upon the intention with which A consummated
"The statutory language does not evince an intent to do away with the constitutional presumption of the act. If the gun were discharged intentionally, with the purpose of accomplishing the death of B, then
guilt nor to lower the quantum of proof needed to establish each and every element or ingredient of the society has been injured and its security violated; but if the gun was discharged accidentally on the part
crime of plunder."45 of A, the society, strictly speaking, has no concern in the matter, even though the death of B results. The
In connection with the foregoing, I emphasize that there is no basis for petitioner’s concern that the reason for this is that A does not become a danger to society and its institutions until he becomes a
conspiracy to defraud, which is not punishable under the Revised Penal Code, may have been person with a corrupt mind. The mere discharge of the gun and the death of B do not of themselves
criminalized under RA 7080. The Anti-Plunder Law treats conspiracy as merely a mode of incurring make him so. With those two facts must go the corrupt intent to kill. In the case at bar, however, the evil
criminal liability, but does not criminalize or penalize it per se. to society and to the Government does not depend upon the state of mind of the one who displays the
In sum, it is clear that petitioner has misunderstood the import of Section 4. Apropos the foregoing, I banner, but upon the effect which that display has upon the public mind. In the one case the public is
maintain that, between an interpretation that produces questionable or absurd results and one that gives affected by the intention of the actor; in the other by the act itself."
life to the law, the choice for this Court is too obvious to require much elucidation or debate. Without being facetious, may I say that, unlike the act of discharging a gun, the acts mentioned in Section
Even granting arguendo that Section 4 of the Anti-Plunder law suffers from some constitutional infirmity, 1(d) -- bribery, conversion, fraudulent conveyance, unjust enrichment and the like -- cannot be
the statute may nonetheless survive the challenge of constitutionality in its entirety. Considering that this committed sans criminal intent. And thus, I finally arrive at a point of agreement with petitioner: that the
provision pertains only to a rule on evidence or to a procedural matter that does not bear upon or form acts enumerated in Section 1(d) are by their nature mala in se, and most of them are in fact defined and
any part of the elements of the crime of plunder, the Court may declare the same unconstitutional and penalized as such by the Revised Penal Code. Having said that, I join the view that when we speak of
strike it off the statute without necessarily affecting the essence of the legislative enactment. For even plunder, we are referring essentially to two or more instances of mala in se constituting one malum
without the assailed provision, the law can still stand as a valid penal statute inasmuch as the elements of prohibitum. Thus, there should be no difficulty if each of the predicate acts be proven beyond reasonable
the crime, as well as the penalties therein, may still be clearly identified or sufficiently derived from the doubt as mala in se, even if the defense of lack of intent be taken away as the solicitor general has
remaining valid portions of the law. This finds greater significance when one considers that Section 7 of suggested.
the law provides for a separability clause declaring the validity, the independence and the applicability of In brief, the matter of classification is not really significant, contrary to what petitioner would have us
the other remaining provisions, should any other provision of the law be held invalid or unconstitutional. believe. The key, obviously, is whether the same burden of proof -- proof beyond reasonable doubt --
Third Issue: would apply.
The Constitutional Power of Congress to Enact Mala Prohibita Laws Furthermore, I also concur in the opinion of the solicitor general: if it is conceded that the legislature
Petitioner maintains that RA 7080 "eliminated the element of mens rea from crimes which are mala in se possesses the requisite power and authority to declare, by legal fiat, that acts not inherently criminal in
and converted these crimes which are components of plunder into mala prohibita, thereby rendering it nature are punishable as offenses under special laws, then with more reason can it punish as offenses
easier to prove" since, allegedly, "the prosecution need not prove criminal intent." under special laws those acts that are already inherently criminal. "This is so because the greater (power
This asseveration is anchored upon the postulate (a very erroneous one, as already discussed above) that to punish not inherently criminal acts) includes the lesser (power to punish inherently criminal acts). In
the Anti-Plunder Law exempts the prosecution from proving beyond reasonable doubt the component eo plus sit, semper inest et minus."48
acts constituting plunder, including the element of criminal intent. It thus concludes that RA 7080 violates Epilogue
the due process and the equal protection clauses of the Constitution. "The constitutionality of laws is presumed. To justify nullification of a law, there must be a clear and
While I simply cannot agree that the Anti-Plunder Law eliminated mens rea from the component crimes unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not a doubtful or argumentative implication; a law shall not be
of plunder, my bottom-line position still is: regardless of whether plunder is classified as mala prohibita declared invalid unless the conflict with the Constitution is clear beyond a reasonable doubt. ‘The
or in se, it is the prerogative of the legislature -- which is undeniably vested with the authority -- to presumption is always in favor of constitutionality x x x. To doubt is to sustain.’ x x x."49
determine whether certain acts are criminal irrespective of the actual intent of the perpetrator. A law should not be overturned on the basis of speculation or conjecture that it is unconstitutionally
The Power of the Legislature to Penalize Certain Acts vague. Everyone is duty-bound to adopt a reasonable interpretation that will uphold a statute, carry out
Jurisprudence dating as far back as United States v. Siy Cong Bieng46 has consistently recognized and its purpose and render harmonious all its parts. Indeed, the constitutionality of a statute must be
upheld "the power of the legislature, on grounds of public policy and compelled by necessity, ‘the great sustained if, as in this case, a ground therefor can possibly be found. For the unbending teaching is that a
master of things,’ to forbid in a limited class of cases the doing of certain acts, and to make their law cannot be declared invalid, unless the conflict with the Constitution is shown to be clearly beyond
commission criminal without regard to the intent of the doer." Even earlier, in United States v. Go Chico,47 reasonable doubt.
Justice Moreland wrote that the legislature may enact criminal laws that penalize certain acts, like the To lend color and vividness to the otherwise boring legalese that has been used to dissect RA 7080, the
"discharge of a loaded gun," without regard for the criminal intent of the wrongdoer. In his words: parties to this case laced their arguments with interesting little stories. Thus, petitioner opened his Oral

74
Argument with an admittedly apocryphal account of a befuddled student of law who could not make
heads or tails of the meanings of series, combination and pattern.
On the other hand, the solicitor general compares petitioner with Hans Christian Andersen’s fabled
tailors who tried to fool the emperor into walking around naked by making him believe that anyone who
did not see the invisible garment, which they had supposedly sewn for him, was "too stupid and
incompetent to appreciate its quality." This is no doubt a parody of the alleged vagueness of RA 7080,
which is purportedly "invisible only to anyone who is too dull or dense to appreciate its quality."50
I do not begrudge petitioner (or his lawyers) for exhausting every known and knowable legal tactic to
exculpate himself from the clutches of the law. Neither do I blame the solicitor general, as the Republic’s
counsel, for belittling the attempt of petitioner to shortcut his difficult legal dilemmas. However, this
Court has a pressing legal duty to discharge: to render justice though the heavens may fall.
By the Court’s Decision, petitioner is now given the occasion to face squarely and on the merits the
plunder charges hurled at him by the Ombudsman. He may now use this opportunity to show the courts
and the Filipino people that he is indeed innocent of the heinous crime of plunder – to do so, not by
resorting to mere legalisms, but by showing the sheer falsity of the wrongdoings attributed to him.
I think that, given his repeated claims of innocence, petitioner owes that opportunity to himself, his
family, and the teeming masses he claims to love. In short, the Court has rendered its judgment, and the
heavens have not fallen. Quite the contrary, petitioner is now accorded the opportunity to prove his clear
conscience and inculpability.
WHEREFORE, I vote to DISMISS the Petition and to uphold the constitutionality of RA 7080.

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G.R. No. 152259 July 29, 2004 the instant case. Both the Deputy Special Prosecutor and the Special Prosecutor approved the
ALFREDO T. ROMUALDEZ, petitioner, vs. recommendation. However, Ombudsman Aniano A. Desierto disagreed and directed the prosecutors to
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (Fifth Division) and the PEOPLE of the PHILIPPINES, respondents. let the [petitioner] present his evidence in Court.
DECISION "Subsequently, [petitioner] filed on October 8, 1999 his second 'MOTION TO QUASH AND TO DEFER
PANGANIBAN, J.: ARRAIGNMENT'.
Repetitive motions to invalidate or summarily terminate a criminal indictment prior to plea and trial, "On February 9, 2000, the [Sandiganbayan] denied the motion for lack of merit.
however they may be named or identified -- whether as a motion to quash or motion to dismiss or by any "On June 19, 2001, [the] accused filed a 'MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE MOTION TO DISMISS'. On June 29,
other nomenclature -- delay the administration of justice and unduly burden the court system. Grounds 2001, the [Sandiganbayan] admitted the motion and admitted the attached (third) Motion to Dismiss.
not included in the first of such repetitive motions are generally deemed waived and can no longer be "The [Motion to Dismiss] raise[d] the following grounds:
used as bases of similar motions subsequently filed. 'I. THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW OF [PETITIONER] WAS VIOLATED DURING THE
Section 5 of the Anti-Graft Law is constitutional. It penalizes certain presidential relatives who "intervene, PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION STAGE IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS:
directly or indirectly, in any business, transaction, contract or application with the Government." This 'A. NO VALID PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION WAS CONDUCTED IN THE INSTANT CASE; AND
provision is not vague or "impermissibly broad," because it can easily be understood with the use of 'B. THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION WAS CONDUCTED BY A BIASED AND PARTIAL INVESTIGATOR
simple statutory construction. Neither may the constitutionality of a criminal statute such as this be 'II. THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF [PETITIONER] TO BE INFORMED OF THE NATURE AND CAUSE OF THE
challenged on the basis of the "overbreadth" and the "void-for-vagueness" doctrines, which apply only to ACCUSATION AGAINST HIM WAS VIOLATED
free-speech cases. 'III. PURSUANT TO ARTICLE VII, SECTION 17 OF THE 1973 CONSTITUTION, [PETITIONER] IS IMMUNE FROM
The Case CRIMINAL PROSECUTION
Before us is a Petition for Certiorari1 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside the 'IV. THE CRIMINAL ACTION OR LIABILITY HAS BEEN EXTINGUISHED BY PRESCRIPTION'"6
November 20, 20012 and the March 1, 20023 Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. Ruling of the Sandiganbayan
13736. The first Resolution disposed thus: The Sandiganbayan explained that all the grounds invoked by petitioner, except the third one, had
"WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the Motion to Dismiss is hereby DENIED. The arraignment of the accused already been raised by him and passed upon in its previous Resolutions.7 In resolving the third ground,
and the pre-trial of the case shall proceed as scheduled."4 the anti-graft court pointed out that Section 17 of the 1973 Constitution became effective only in 1981
The second Resolution denied reconsideration. when the basic law was amended. Since his alleged illegal intervention had been committed on or about
The Facts 1975, the amended provision was inapplicable to him.8
The facts of the case are narrated by the Sandiganbayan as follows: In denying the Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioner, the Sandiganbayan passed upon the other
"[The People of the Philippines], through the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), filed grounds he had raised. It ruled that his right to a preliminary investigation was not violated, because he
on July 12, 1989 an information before [the anti-graft court] charging the accused [with] violation of had been granted a reinvestigation.9 It further held that his right to be informed of the nature and cause
Section 5, Republic Act No. 3019,5 as amended. The Information reads: of the accusation was not trampled upon, either, inasmuch as the Information had set forth the essential
'That on or about and during the period from July 16, 1975 to July 29, 1975, in Metro Manila, Philippines, elements of the offense charged.10
and within the jurisdiction of [the Sandiganbayan], said [petitioner], brother-in-law of Ferdinand E. Hence, this Petition.11
Marcos, former President of the Philippines, and therefore, related to the latter by affinity within the The Issues
third civil degree, did then and there wil[l]fully and unlawfully, and with evident bad faith, for the In his Memorandum, petitioner assigns the following errors for our consideration:
purpose of promoting his self-interested [sic] and/or that of others, intervene directly or indirectly, in a "Whether or not the Honorable Sandiganbayan erred and gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack
contract between the National Shipyard and Steel Corporation (NASSCO), a government-owned and of, or in excess of jurisdiction –
controlled corporation and the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Company (BASECO), a private I. In not dismissing and/or quashing Criminal Case No. 13736 despite clear and incontrovertible evidence
corporation, the majority stocks of which is owned by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, whereby that:
the NASSCO sold, transferred and conveyed to the BASECO its ownership and all its titles and interests A. Section 5 of Republic Act No. 3019 is unconstitutional because its vagueness violates the due process
over all equipment and facilities including structures, buildings, shops, quarters, houses, plants and right of an individual to be informed of the nature and the cause of the accusation against him;
expendable and semi-expendable assets, located at the Engineer Island known as the Engineer Island B. Section 5 of Republic Act No. 3019 is unconstitutional because it violates the due process right of an
Shops including some of its equipment and machineries from Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte needed individual to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved;
by BASECO in its shipbuilding and ship repair program for the amount of P5,000,000.00. C. The constitutional right of petitioner x x x to be informed of the nature and the cause of the accusation
'Contrary to law.' against him was violated;
"On December 27, 1996, the accused filed his first 'MOTION TO DISMISS AND TO DEFER ARRAIGNMENT' D. The constitutional right to due process of law of petitioner x x x was violated during the preliminary
claiming that no valid preliminary investigation was conducted in the instant case. He asserts that if a investigation stage in the following ways:
preliminary investigation could be said to have been conducted, the same was null and void having been [i] No valid preliminary investigation was con-ducted for Criminal Case No. 13736; and
undertaken by a biased and partial investigative body. [ii] The preliminary investigation was conducted by a biased and partial investigator.
"On January 9, 1997, [the Sandiganbayan], through the First Division, issued an order giving the accused E. The criminal action or liability has been extinguished by prescription; and
fifteen days to file a Motion for Reinvestigation with the Office of the Special Prosecutor. F. Pursuant to Article VII, Section 17 of the 1973 Constitution, petitioner x x x is immune from criminal
"[Petitioner] questioned said order before the Supreme Court via a petition for Certiorari and Prohibition prosecution. And
with prayer for temporary restraining order. On January 21, 1998, the Supreme Court dismissed the II. In light of the foregoing, in denying petitioner['s] x x x right to equal protection of the laws."12
petition for failure to show that [the Sandiganbayan] committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the Simply stated, the issues are as follows: (1) whether Section 5 of Republic Act 3019 is unconstitutional;
assailed order. (2) whether the Information is vague; (3) whether there was a valid preliminary investigation; (4) whether
"On November 9, 1998, the [petitioner] filed with the Office of the Special Prosecutor a Motion to Quash. the criminal action or liability has been extinguished by prescription; and (5) whether petitioner is
"On September 22, 1999, x x x Special Prosecution Officer (SPO) III Victorio U. Tabanguil, manifested that immune from criminal prosecution under then Section 17 of Article VII of the 1973 Constitution.
the prosecution had already concluded the reinvestigation of the case. He recommended the dismissal of The Court's Ruling

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The Petition has no merit. xxxxxxxxx
First Issue: In sum, the doctrines of strict scrutiny, overbreadth, and vagueness are analytical tools developed for
Constitutionality of Section 5, testing "on their faces" statutes in free speech cases or, as they are called in American law, First
Republic Act 3019 Amendment cases. They cannot be made to do service when what is involved is a criminal statute. With
Petitioner challenged the constitutionality of Section 5 of RA 3019 for the first time in the Sandiganbayan respect to such statute, the established rule is that 'one to whom application of a statute is constitutional
through a Supplemental Motion to Dismiss. Attached to his December 7, 2001 Motion for will not be heard to attack the statute on the ground that impliedly it might also be taken as applying to
Reconsideration of the Order denying his Motion to Dismiss was this Supplemental Motion which was, in other persons or other situations in which its application might be unconstitutional.' As has been pointed
effect, his third motion to quash.13 We note that the Petition for Certiorari before us challenges the out, 'vagueness challenges in the First Amendment context, like overbreadth challenges typically produce
denial of his original, not his Supplemental, Motion to Dismiss. facial invalidation, while statutes found vague as a matter of due process typically are invalidated [only]
Upon the denial of his original Motion to Quash on February 9, 2000, petitioner could have filed a motion 'as applied' to a particular defendant.'"22 (underscoring supplied)
for reconsideration of the denial. Had reconsideration been turned down, the next proper remedy would "To this date, the Court has not declared any penal law unconstitutional on the ground of ambiguity."23
have been either (1) a petition for certiorari14 -- if there was grave abuse of discretion -- which should be While mentioned in passing in some cases, the void-for-vagueness concept has yet to find direct
filed within 60 days from notice of the assailed order;15 or (2) to proceed to trial without prejudice to his application in our jurisdiction. In Yu Cong Eng v. Trinidad,24 the Bookkeeping Act was found
right, if final judgment is rendered against him, to raise the same questions before the proper appellate unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause, not because it was vague. Adiong v.
court.16 But instead of availing himself of these remedies, he filed a "Motion to Dismiss" on June 19, Comelec25 decreed as void a mere Comelec Resolution, not a statute. Finally, Santiago v. Comelec26 held
2001. that a portion of RA 6735 was unconstitutional because of undue delegation of legislative powers, not
Impropriety of because of vagueness.
Repetitive Motions Indeed, an "on-its-face" invalidation of criminal statutes would result in a mass acquittal of parties whose
There is no substantial distinction between a "motion to quash" and a "motion to dismiss." Both pray for cases may not have even reached the courts. Such invalidation would constitute a departure from the
an identical relief, which is the dismissal of the case. Such motions are employed to raise preliminary usual requirement of "actual case and controversy" and permit decisions to be made in a sterile abstract
objections, so as to avoid the necessity of proceeding to trial. A motion to quash is generally used in context having no factual concreteness. In Younger v. Harris, this evil was aptly pointed out by the U.S.
criminal proceedings to annul a defective indictment. A motion to dismiss, the nomenclature ordinarily Supreme Court in these words:
used in civil proceedings, is aimed at summarily defeating a complaint. Thus, our Rules of Court use the "[T]he task of analyzing a proposed statute, pinpointing its deficiencies, and requiring correction of these
term "motion to quash" in criminal,17 and "motion to dismiss" in civil, proceedings.18 deficiencies before the statute is put into effect, is rarely if ever an appropriate task for the judiciary. The
In the present case, however, both the "Motion to Quash" and the "Motion to Dismiss" are anchored on combination of the relative remoteness of the controversy, the impact on the legislative process of the
basically the same grounds and pray for the same relief. The hairsplitting distinction posited by petitioner relief sought, and above all the speculative and amorphous nature of the required line-by-line analysis of
does not really make a difference. detailed statutes, x x x ordinarily results in a kind of case that is wholly unsatisfactory for deciding
By filing a Motion to Dismiss, petitioner submitted in effect a prohibited second motion to quash. A party constitutional questions, whichever way they might be decided."
is not permitted to raise issues, whether similar or different, by installment. The Rules abhor repetitive For this reason, generally disfavored is an on-its-face invalidation of statutes, described as a "manifestly
motions. Otherwise, there would be no end to preliminary objections, and trial would never commence. strong medicine" to be employed "sparingly and only as a last resort." In determining the
A second motion to quash delays the administration of justice and unduly burdens the courts. Moreover, constitutionality of a statute, therefore, its provisions that have allegedly been violated must be
Rule 117 provides that grounds not raised in the first motion to quash are generally deemed waived.19 examined in the light of the conduct with which the defendant has been charged.28
Petitioner's "Motion to Dismiss" violates this rule. As conduct -- not speech -- is its object, the challenged provision must be examined only "as applied" to
Constitutionality of the defendant, herein petitioner, and should not be declared unconstitutional for overbreadth or
the Challenged Provision vagueness.
If only for the foregoing procedural lapses, the Petition deserves to be dismissed outright. However, given The questioned provision reads as follows:
the importance of this case in curtailing graft and corruption, the Court will nevertheless address the "Section 5. Prohibition on certain relatives. — It shall be unlawful for the spouse or for any relative, by
other issues on their merit. Petitioner challenges the validity of Section 5 of Republic Act 3019, a penal consanguinity or affinity, within the third civil degree, of the President of the Philippines, the Vice-
statute, on the ground that the act constituting the offense is allegedly vague and "impermissibly broad." President of the Philippines, the President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
It is best to stress at the outset that the overbreadth20 and the vagueness21 doctrines have special to intervene, directly or indirectly, in any business, transaction, contract or application with the
application only to free-speech cases. They are not appropriate for testing the validity of penal statutes. Government: Provided, That this section shall not apply to any person who, prior to the assumption of
Mr. Justice Vicente V. Mendoza explained the reason as follows: office of any of the above officials to whom he is related, has been already dealing with the Government
"A facial challenge is allowed to be made to a vague statute and to one which is overbroad because of along the same line of business, nor to any transaction, contract or application already existing or
possible 'chilling effect' upon protected speech. The theory is that '[w]hen statutes regulate or proscribe pending at the time of such assumption of public office, nor to any application filed by him the approval
speech and no readily apparent construction suggests itself as a vehicle for rehabilitating the statutes in a of which is not discretionary on the part of the official or officials concerned but depends upon
single prosecution, the transcendent value to all society of constitutionally protected expression is compliance with requisites provided by law, or rules or regulations issued pursuant to law, nor to any act
deemed to justify allowing attacks on overly broad statutes with no requirement that the person making lawfully performed in an official capacity or in the exercise of a profession."
the attack demonstrate that his own conduct could not be regulated by a statute drawn with narrow Petitioner also claims that the phrase "to intervene directly or indirectly, in any business, transaction,
specificity.' The possible harm to society in permitting some unprotected speech to go unpunished is contract or application with the Government" is vague and violates his right to be informed of the cause
outweighed by the possibility that the protected speech of others may be deterred and perceived and nature of the accusation against him.29 He further complains that the provision does not specify
grievances left to fester because of possible inhibitory effects of overly broad statutes. what acts are punishable under the term intervene, and thus transgresses his right to be presumed
This rationale does not apply to penal statutes. Criminal statutes have general in terrorem effect resulting innocent.30 We disagree.
from their very existence, and, if facial challenge is allowed for this reason alone, the State may well be Every statute is presumed valid.31 On the party challenging its validity weighs heavily the onerous task of
prevented from enacting laws against socially harmful conduct. In the area of criminal law, the law rebutting this presumption.32 Any reasonable doubt about the validity of the law should be resolved in
cannot take chances as in the area of free speech. favor of its constitutionality.33 To doubt is to sustain, as tersely put by Justice George Malcolm. In Garcia

77
v. Executive Secretary,34 the rationale for the presumption of constitutionality was explained by this will, and its inability to so define the words employed in a statute will not necessarily result in the
Court thus: vagueness or ambiguity of the law so long as the legislative will is clear, or at least, can be gathered from
"The policy of the courts is to avoid ruling on constitutional questions and to presume that the acts of the the whole act x x x.
political departments are valid in the absence of a clear and unmistakable showing to the contrary. To "x x x [I]t is a well-settled principle of legal hermeneutics that words of a statute will be interpreted in
doubt is to sustain. This presumption is based on the doctrine of separation of powers which enjoins their natural, plain and ordinary acceptation and signification,45 unless it is evident that the legislature
upon each department a becoming respect for the acts of the other departments. The theory is that as intended a technical or special legal meaning to those words.46 The intention of the lawmakers - who
the joint act of Congress and the President of the Philippines, a law has been carefully studied and are, ordinarily, untrained philologists and lexicographers - to use statutory phraseology in such a manner
determined to be in accordance with the fundamental law before it was finally enacted."35 is always presumed."47
In the instant case, petitioner has miserably failed to overcome such presumption. This Court has The term intervene should therefore be understood in its ordinary acceptation, which is to "to come
previously laid down the test for determining whether a statute is vague, as follows: between."48 Criminally liable is anyone covered in the enumeration of Section 5 of RA 3019 -- any person
"x x x [A] statute establishing a criminal offense must define the offense with sufficient definiteness that who intervenes in any manner in any business, transaction, contract or application with the government.
persons of ordinary intelligence can understand what conduct is prohibited by the statute. It can only be As we have explained, it is impossible for the law to provide in advance details of how such acts of
invoked against that species of legislation that is utterly vague on its face, i.e., that which cannot be intervention could be performed. But the courts may pass upon those details once trial is concluded.
clarified either by a saving clause or by construction. Thus, the alleged vagueness of intervene is not a ground to quash the information prior to the
"A statute or act may be said to be vague when it lacks comprehensible standards that men of common commencement of the trial.
intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ in its application. In such instance, the In sum, the Court holds that the challenged provision is not vague, and that in any event, the
statute is repugnant to the Constitution in two (2) respects - it violates due process for failure to accord "overbreath" and "void for vagueness" doctrines are not applicable to this case.
persons, especially the parties targeted by it, fair notice of what conduct to avoid; and, it leaves law Second Issue:
enforcers unbridled discretion in carrying out its provisions and becomes an arbitrary flexing of the Allegedly Vague Information
Government muscle.36 But the doctrine does not apply as against legislations that are merely couched in Other than arguing on the alleged intrinsic vagueness of intervene, petitioner further contends that the
imprecise language but which nonetheless specify a standard though defectively phrased; or to those Information itself is also unconstitutionally vague, because it does not specify the acts of intervention
that are apparently ambiguous yet fairly applicable to certain types of activities. The first may be 'saved' that he supposedly performed.49 Again, we disagree.
by proper construction, while no challenge may be mounted as against the second whenever directed When allegations in the information are vague or indefinite, the remedy of the accused is not a motion to
against such activities.37 With more reason, the doctrine cannot be invoked where the assailed statute is quash, but a motion for a bill of particulars.50 The pertinent provision in the Rules of Court is Section 9 of
clear and free from ambiguity, as in this case. Rule 116, which we quote:
"The test in determining whether a criminal statute is void for uncertainty is whether the language "Section 9. Bill of particulars. -- The accused may, before arraignment, move for a bill of particulars to
conveys a sufficiently definite warning as to the proscribed conduct when measured by common enable him properly to plead and prepare for trial. The motion shall specify the alleged defects of the
understanding and practice.38 It must be stressed, however, that the 'vagueness' doctrine merely complaint or information and the details desired."
requires a reasonable degree of certainty for the statute to be upheld - not absolute precision or The rule merely requires the information to describe the offense with sufficient particularity as to apprise
mathematical exactitude, as petitioner seems to suggest. Flexibility, rather than meticulous specificity, is the accused of what they are being charged with and to enable the court to pronounce judgment. 51 The
permissible as long as the metes and bounds of the statute are clearly delineated. An act will not be held particularity must be such that persons of ordinary intelligence may immediately know what is meant by
invalid merely because it might have been more explicit in its wordings or detailed in its provisions, the information.52
especially where, because of the nature of the act, it would be impossible to provide all the details in While it is fundamental that every element of the offense must be alleged in the information,53 matters
advance as in all other statutes."39 of evidence -- as distinguished from the facts essential to the nature of the offense -- need not be
A simpler test was decreed in Dans v. People,40 in which the Court said that there was nothing vague averred.54 Whatever facts and circumstances must necessarily be alleged are to be determined by
about a penal law that adequately answered the basic query "What is the violation?"41 Anything beyond reference to the definition and the essential elements of the specific crimes.55
-- the hows and the whys -- are evidentiary matters that the law itself cannot possibly disclose, in view of In the instant case, a cursory reading of the Information shows that the elements of a violation of Section
the uniqueness of every case.42 5 of RA 3019 have been stated sufficiently. Likewise, the allegations describe the offense committed by
The question "What is the violation?" is sufficiently answered by Section 5 of RA 3019, as follows: petitioner with such particularity as to enable him to prepare an intelligent defense. Details of the acts he
1. The offender is a spouse or any relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil degree of the committed are evidentiary matters that need not be alleged in the Information.
President of the Philippines, the Vice-President of the Philippines, the President of the Senate, or the Third Issue:
Speaker of the House of Representatives; and Preliminary Investigation
2. The offender intervened directly or indirectly in any business, transaction, contract or application with Clearly, petitioner already brought the issue of lack of preliminary investigation when he questioned
the government. before this Court in GR No. 128317 the Sandiganbayan's Order giving him 15 days to file a Motion for
Applicability of Reinvestigation with the Office of the Special Prosecutor.56 Citing Cojuangco v. Presidential Commission
Statutory Construction on Good Government,57 he undauntedly averred that he was deprived of his right to a preliminary
As to petitioner's claim that the term intervene is vague, this Court agrees with the Office of the Solicitor inv