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1. Atienza v. Board of Medicine is normal.

It was ascertained, however, that her left kidney is non-


functioning and non-visualizing. Thus, she underwent kidney
RICO ROMMEL ATIENZA, G.R. No. 177407 operation in September, 1999.
Petitioner,
Present: On February 18, 2000, private respondents husband, Romeo Sioson
NACHURA, (as complainant), filed a complaint for gross negligence and/or
Acting Chairperson, incompetence before the [BOM] against the doctors who allegedly
PERALTA, participated in the fateful kidney operation, namely: Dr. Judd dela
- versus - DEL CASTILLO,* Vega, Dr. Pedro Lantin, III, Dr. Gerardo Antonio Florendo and
VILLARAMA, JR.,** and petitioner Rico Rommel Atienza.
MENDOZA, JJ.
It was alleged in the complaint that the gross negligence and/or
Promulgated: incompetence committed by the said doctors, including petitioner,
BOARD OF MEDICINE and EDITHA SIOSON, consists of the removal of private respondents fully functional right
Respondents. February 9, 2011 kidney, instead of the left non-functioning and non-visualizing
kidney.
x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
The complaint was heard by the [BOM]. After complainant Romeo
Sioson presented his evidence, private respondent Editha Sioson,
DECISION also named as complainant there, filed her formal offer of
documentary evidence. Attached to the formal offer of
NACHURA, J.: documentary evidence are her Exhibits A to D, which she offered
for the purpose of proving that her kidneys were both in their
proper anatomical locations at the time she was operated. She
described her exhibits, as follows:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court,
assailing the Decision[1] dated September 22, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- EXHIBIT A the certified photocopy of the X-ray
Request form dated December 12, 1996, which is
G.R. SP No. 87755. The CA dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by petitioner Rico
also marked as Annex 2 as it was actually
Rommel Atienza (Atienza), which, in turn, assailed the Orders[2] issued by public originally the Annex to x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, IIIs
respondent Board of Medicine (BOM) in Administrative Case No. 1882. counter affidavit filed with the City Prosecutor of
Pasig City in connection with the criminal
complaint filed by [Romeo Sioson] with the said
The facts, fairly summarized by the appellate court, follow. office, on which are handwritten entries which
are the interpretation of the results of the
ultrasound examination. Incidentally, this exhibit
happens to be the same as or identical to the
certified photocopy of the document marked as
Annex 2 to the Counter-Affidavit dated March 15,
Due to her lumbar pains, private respondent Editha Sioson went to 2000, filed by x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, III, on May 4,
Rizal Medical Center (RMC) for check-up on February 4, 1995. 2000, with this Honorable Board in answer to this
Sometime in 1999, due to the same problem, she was referred to complaint;
Dr. Pedro Lantin III of RMC who, accordingly, ordered several
diagnostic laboratory tests. The tests revealed that her right kidney
EXHIBIT B the certified photo copy of the X-ray Petitioner filed his comments/objections to private respondents
request form dated January 30, 1997, which is [Editha Siosons] formal offer of exhibits. He alleged that said
also marked as Annex 3 as it was actually likewise exhibits are inadmissible because the same are mere photocopies,
originally an Annex to x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, IIIs not properly identified and authenticated, and intended to
counter-affidavit filed with the Office of the City establish matters which are hearsay. He added that the exhibits are
Prosecutor of Pasig City in connection with the incompetent to prove the purpose for which they are offered.
criminal complaint filed by the herein
complainant with the said office, on which are Dispositions of the
handwritten entries which are the interpretation Board of Medicine
of the results of the examination. Incidentally,
this exhibit happens to be also the same as or The formal offer of documentary exhibits of private respondent
identical to the certified photo copy of the [Editha Sioson] was admitted by the [BOM] per its Order dated May
document marked as Annex 3 which is likewise 26, 2004. It reads:
dated January 30, 1997, which is appended as
such Annex 3 to the counter-affidavit dated The Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence of
March 15, 2000, filed by x x x Dr. Pedro Lantin, III [Romeo Sioson], the Comments/Objections of
on May 4, 2000, with this Honorable Board in [herein petitioner] Atienza, [therein
answer to this complaint. respondents] De la Vega and Lantin, and the
Manifestation of [therein] respondent Florendo
EXHIBIT C the certified photocopy of the X-ray are hereby ADMITTED by the [BOM] for whatever
request form dated March 16, 1996, which is also purpose they may serve in the resolution of this
marked as Annex 4, on which are handwritten case.
entries which are the interpretation of the results
of the examination. Let the hearing be set on July 19, 2004 all at 1:30
p.m. for the reception of the evidence of the
EXHIBIT D the certified photocopy of the X-ray respondents.
request form dated May 20, 1999, which is also
marked as Annex 16, on which are handwritten SO ORDERED.
entries which are the interpretation of the results
of the examination. Incidentally, this exhibit Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the abovementioned
appears to be the draft of the typewritten final Order basically on the same reasons stated in his
report of the same examination which is the comment/objections to the formal offer of exhibits.
document appended as Annexes 4 and 1
respectively to the counter-affidavits filed by x x The [BOM] denied the motion for reconsideration of petitioner in
x Dr. Judd dela Vega and Dr. Pedro Lantin, III in its Order dated October 8, 2004. It concluded that it should first
answer to the complaint. In the case of Dr. dela admit the evidence being offered so that it can determine its
Vega however, the document which is marked as probative value when it decides the case. According to the Board,
Annex 4 is not a certified photocopy, while in the it can determine whether the evidence is relevant or not if it will
case of Dr. Lantin, the document marked as take a look at it through the process of admission. x x x.[3]
Annex 1 is a certified photocopy. Both
documents are of the same date and typewritten
Disagreeing with the BOM, and as previously adverted to, Atienza filed a
contents are the same as that which are written
on Exhibit D. petition for certiorariwith the CA, assailing the BOMs Orders which admitted Editha
Siosons (Edithas) Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence. The CA dismissed the
petition for certiorari for lack of merit. However, the writ of certiorari will not issue absent a showing that the BOM
has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.
Hence, this recourse positing the following issues: Embedded in the CAs finding that the BOM did not exceed its jurisdiction or act in
grave abuse of discretion is the issue of whether the exhibits of Editha contained in
I. PROCEDURAL ISSUE:
her Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence are inadmissible.
WHETHER PETITIONER ATIENZA AVAILED OF THE PROPER REMEDY
WHEN HE FILED THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI DATED
Petitioner argues that the exhibits formally offered in evidence by Editha:
06 DECEMBER 2004 WITH THE COURT OF APPEALS
UNDER RULE 65 OF THE RULES OF COURT TO ASSAIL THE (1) violate the best evidence rule; (2) have not been properly identified and
ORDERS DATED 26 MAY 2004 AND 08 OCTOBER 2004 OF authenticated; (3) are completely hearsay; and (4) are incompetent to prove their
RESPONDENT BOARD.
purpose. Thus, petitioner contends that the exhibits are inadmissible evidence.
II. SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE:

WHETHER THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE We disagree.


REVERSIBLE ERROR AND DECIDED A QUESTION OF
SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW
AND THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE HONORABLE To begin with, it is well-settled that the rules of evidence are not strictly
COURT WHEN IT UPHELD THE ADMISSION OF applied in proceedings before administrative bodies such as the BOM.[6] Although
INCOMPETENT AND INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE BY
RESPONDENT BOARD, WHICH CAN RESULT IN THE trial courts are enjoined to observe strict enforcement of the rules of evidence, [7] in
DEPRIVATION OF PROFESSIONAL LICENSE A PROPERTY connection with evidence which may appear to be of doubtful relevancy,
RIGHT OR ONES LIVELIHOOD.[4]
incompetency, or admissibility, we have held that:

We find no reason to depart from the ruling of the CA. [I]t is the safest policy to be liberal, not rejecting them on doubtful
or technical grounds, but admitting them unless plainly irrelevant,
immaterial or incompetent, for the reason that their rejection
Petitioner is correct when he asserts that a petition for certiorari is the proper places them beyond the consideration of the court, if they are
thereafter found relevant or competent; on the other hand, their
remedy to assail the Orders of the BOM, admitting in evidence the exhibits of Editha. admission, if they turn out later to be irrelevant or incompetent,
As the assailed Orders were interlocutory, these cannot be the subject of an appeal can easily be remedied by completely discarding them or ignoring
them.[8]
separate from the judgment that completely or finally disposes of the case.[5] At that
stage, where there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the
From the foregoing, we emphasize the distinction between the admissibility of
ordinary course of law, the only and remaining remedy left to petitioner is a petition
evidence and the probative weight to be accorded the same pieces of
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court on the ground of grave abuse of
evidence. PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation v. Court of Appeals[9] teaches:
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
The exhibits are certified photocopies of X-ray Request Forms dated
Admissibility of evidence refers to the question of whether or not
December 12, 1996, January 30, 1997, March 16, 1996, and May 20, 1999, filed in
the circumstance (or evidence) is to be considered at all. On the
other hand, the probative value of evidence refers to the question connection with Edithas medical case. The documents contain handwritten entries
of whether or not it proves an issue.
interpreting the results of the examination. These exhibits were actually attached as
annexes to Dr. Pedro Lantin IIIs counter affidavit filed with the Office of the City
Second, petitioners insistence that the admission of Edithas exhibits violated Prosecutor of Pasig City, which was investigating the criminal complaint for
his substantive rights leading to the loss of his medical license is misplaced. Petitioner negligence filed by Editha against the doctors of Rizal Medical Center (RMC) who
mistakenly relies on Section 20, Article I of the Professional Regulation Commission handled her surgical procedure. To lay the predicate for her case, Editha offered the
Rules of Procedure, which reads: exhibits in evidence to prove that her kidneys were both in their proper anatomical
locations at the time of her operation.
Section 20. Administrative investigation shall be
conducted in accordance with these Rules. The Rules of Court shall The fact sought to be established by the admission of Edithas exhibits, that
only apply in these proceedings by analogy or on a suppletory
character and whenever practicable and convenient. Technical her kidneys were both in their proper anatomical locations at the time of her
errors in the admission of evidence which do not prejudice the operation, need not be proved as it is covered by mandatory judicial notice. [11]
substantive rights of either party shall not vitiate the
proceedings.[10]
Unquestionably, the rules of evidence are merely the means for ascertaining

As pointed out by the appellate court, the admission of the exhibits did not prejudice the truth respecting a matter of fact.[12] Thus, they likewise provide for some facts

the substantive rights of petitioner because, at any rate, the fact sought to be proved which are established and need not be proved, such as those covered by judicial

thereby, that the two kidneys of Editha were in their proper anatomical locations at notice, both mandatory and discretionary.[13] Laws of nature involving the physical

the time she was operated on, is presumed under Section 3, Rule 131 of the Rules of sciences, specifically biology,[14] include the structural make-up and composition of

Court: living things such as human beings. In this case, we may take judicial notice that
Edithas kidneys before, and at the time of, her operation, as with most human beings,
Sec. 3. Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are were in their proper anatomical locations.
satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and
overcome by other evidence: Third, contrary to the assertion of petitioner, the best evidence rule is inapplicable.
Section 3 of Rule 130 provides:
xxxx

(y) That things have happened according to the ordinary course of 1. Best Evidence Rule
nature and the ordinary habits of life.
Sec. 3. Original document must be produced; exceptions. When the
subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no evidence shall
be admissible other than the original document itself, except in the
thereafter, the BOM shall determine the probative value thereof when it decides the
following cases:
case.
(a) When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be
produced in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror;
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
(b) When the original is in the custody or under the control of the in CA-G.R. SP No. 87755 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails to
produce it after reasonable notice;
SO ORDERED.
(c) When the original consists of numerous accounts or other
documents which cannot be examined in court without great loss 2. NAPOCOR v. Lorenzo Shipping
of time and the fact sought to be established from them is only the
general result of the whole; and
G.R. No. 181683, October 07, 2015
(d) When the original is a public record in the custody of a public
officer or is recorded in a public office. LORENZO SHIPPING CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. NATIONAL POWER
CORPORATION,Respondent.

The subject of inquiry in this case is whether respondent doctors before the BOM are G.R. No. 184568

liable for gross negligence in removing the right functioning kidney of Editha instead NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. LORENZO SHIPPING
of the left non-functioning kidney, not the proper anatomical locations of Edithas CORPORATION, Respondent.

kidneys. As previously discussed, the proper anatomical locations of Edithas kidneys DECISION
at the time of her operation at the RMC may be established not only through the
LEONEN, J.:
exhibits offered in evidence.

These consolidated Petitions for Review on Certiorari1 are offshoots of the Court of
Finally, these exhibits do not constitute hearsay evidence of the anatomical Appeals' disposition of CA-G.R. CV No. 76295. The Petition docketed as G.R. No.
181683 was filed by Lorenzo Shipping Corporation (Lorenzo Shipping) while the
locations of Edithas kidneys. To further drive home the point, the anatomical Petition docketed as G.R. No. 184568 was filed by National Power Corporation.
positions, whether left or right, of Edithas kidneys, and the removal of one or both,
In its September 14, 2007 Decision,2 the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the
may still be established through a belated ultrasound or x-ray of her abdominal area. February 18, 2002 Decision of the Regional Trial Court and entered another judgment
ordering Lorenzo Shipping to pay National Power Corporation the amount of
P876,286.00 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as attorney's fees and expenses of
In fact, the introduction of secondary evidence, such as copies of the exhibits, is litigation.3
allowed.[15] Witness Dr. Nancy Aquino testified that the Records Office of RMC no
In its February 12, 2008 Amended Decision,4 the Court of Appeals amended its
longer had the originals of the exhibits because [it] transferred from the previous
September 14, 2007 Decision to award National Power Corporation the amount of
building, x x x to the new building.[16] Ultimately, since the originals cannot be P300,000.00 as temperate damages in lieu of the original award of P876,286.00 as
actual damages.
produced, the BOM properly admitted Edithas formal offer of evidence and,
To forestall the prescription of its cause of action for damages, National Power
In its September 17, 2008 Resolution,5 the Court of Appeals denied National Power Corporation filed before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court a Complaint for
Corporation's Motion for Reconsideration. Damages against Lorenzo Shipping.19 In this Complaint, National Power Corporation
recalled the damage resulting from the ramming, as
The February 18, 2002 Decision6 of the Regional Trial Court dismissed National Power follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Corporation's Complaint for damages against Lorenzo Shipping. 7
4. Due to the force and impact of the ramming, the three (3) nylon ropes of 4 inches
Lorenzo Shipping is the owner and operator of the commercial vessel MV Lorcon [sic] diameter each securing the barge at the Makar Wharf-Philippines [sic] Ports
Luzon.8 National Power Corporation is the owner of Power Barge 104, "a non- Authority Pier was instantaneously ripped off and the take [-] off tower of the barge
propelled power plant barge."9 swayed causing flash over on the 69 KV line tripping the line and isolated General
Santos City from the Mindanao Grid. Consequently, the General Santos Power Plant,
On March 20, 1993, Power Barge 104 was berthed and stationed at the Makar Wharf Power Barge 102, interconnected with Power Barge 104, all tripped off causing total
in General Santos City when the MV Lorcon Luzon "hit and rammed Power Barge blackout in General Santos City and its underlying areas;
104."10
5. Immediate investigation revealed that the ramming resulted to severe damage to
At the time of the incident, Captain Mariano Villarias (Captain Villarias) served as the Ballast Tank No. 1 and metal deformation with approximate area of two (2) sq.
Master of the MV Lorcon Luzon. However, the MV Lorcon Luzon was then being meters. The crack, 25 mm. [b]y 460 mm. [ojccurred two (2) meters above the crater
piloted by Captain Homer Yape (Captain Yape), a Harbor Pilot from the General line and another one, 75 mm. by 310 mm. on the water line caused a leak of waste
Santos City pilotage district.11 As underscored by Lorenzo Shipping, the MV Lorcon oil into the sea . . .;
Luzon was under Captain Yape's pilotage as it was mandatory to yield navigational
control to the Harbor Pilot while docking. 12 6. In addition to the physical damage caused to the Power Barge 104, plaintiff
suffered generation losses as a result of the tripping off of the line and the failure of
Testifying before the Board of Marine Inquiry, Captain Villarias recalled that while the Power Barge 104 to generate electricity immediately after the accident[.] 20
MV Lorcon Luzon was under Captain Yape's pilotage, he nevertheless
"always"13 remained at the side of Captain Yape. He likewise affirmed that he heard Lorenzo Shipping filed a Motion to Dismiss grounded on the Regional Trial Court's
and knew of Captain Yape's orders, "because I have to repeat his order." 14 alleged lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter and National Power Corporation's
failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Lorenzo Shipping underscored that the
As the MV Lorcon Luzon was docking, Captain Yape ordered the vessel to proceed dispute was supposedly within the jurisdiction of the Board of Marine
"slow ahead," making it move at the speed of about one (1) knot. As it moved closer Inquiry/Philippine Coast Guard.21 The Regional Trial Court denied Lorenzo Shipping's
to dock, Captain Yape gave the order "dead slow ahead," making the vessel move Motion to Dismiss.22
even slower. He then ordered the engine stopped. 15
On November 7, 1997, Lorenzo Shipping filed its Answer. It emphasized that at the
16
As the MV Lorcon Luzon moved "precariously close" to the wharf, Captain Yape time of the incident, the MV Lorcon Luzon was commandeered by an official Harbor
ordered the vessel to move backward, i.e., go "slow astern," and subsequently "full Pilot to whom it was "mandatory . . . to yield operational control";23 thus, any liability
astern." Despite his orders, the engine failed to timely respond. Thus, Captain Yape should be attributed to the Harbor Pilot and not to the company. It added that
ordered the dropping of the anchor. Despite this, the MV Lorcon Luzon rammed into "Makar Wharf is a berthing place only for self-propelled vessel [sic]."24 As Power
Power Barge 104.17 Barge 104 was not a self-propelled vessel, it "had no right to lash itself on the Maka[r]
Wharf. . . . [and] it assumed the risk of such ramming because [of] its improper
Following this incident, Nelson Homena, Plant Manager of Power Barge 104, filed a presence[.]"25Lastly, Lorenzo Shipping pointed out that National Power Corporation's
Marine Protest before the Board of Marine Inquiry. Captain Villarias also filed his own action was barred by laches as four (4) years had lapsed before it filed its Complaint. 26
Marine Protest. For his part, Captain Yape filed a Marine Accident Report. The Board
of Marine Inquiry conducted joint hearings on the Marine Protests and Captain Yape's The Regional Trial Court issued the Decision27 dated February 18, 2002 absolving
report.18 Lorenzo Shipping of liability. It concluded that National Power Corporation failed to
establish Lorenzo Shipping's negligence. It underscored that while the ramming was
found to have been the result of the engine's stoppage, no malfunctioning was in a position to adduce proof of the exact amount of damage it incurred, but failed to
recorded before and after the incident. The Regional Trial Court further stated that do so.39
Lorenzo Shipping was sued in its capacity as the employer of Captain Villarias and
that any liability it incurred would have been only subsidiary. Nevertheless, as On November 24, 2008, National Power Corporation filed its Comment 40 to Lorenzo
Lorenzo Shipping supposedly exercised due diligence in its selection and supervision Shipping's Petition. It maintained that it was Lorenzo Shipping that must be held
of Captain Villarias, no liability could be attributed to it. 28 liable and that it was able to show by "competent testimonial and documentary
evidence"41 that it must be compensated for actual damages in the amount of
National Power Corporation appealed before the Court of Appeals. P876,826.00. On April 7, 2009, Lorenzo Shipping filed its Reply.42

The Court of Appeals rendered the Decision29 dated September 14, 2007 reversing In the meantime, on November 18, 2008, National Power Corporation filed its own
and setting aside the February 18, 2002 Decision of the Regional Trial Court and Petition for Review on Certiorari43 docketed as G.R. No. 184568, arguing how it had
entering another judgment ordering Lorenzo Shipping to pay National Power supposedly proven by competent evidence that it was entitled to actual damages in
Corporation the amount of P876,286.00 as actual damages and P50,000.00 as the amount of F876,826.00. Lorenzo Shipping filed its Comment 44 on February 2,
attorney's fees and expenses of litigation.30 2009. National Power Corporation filed its Reply45 on June 22, 2009.

The Court of Appeals reasoned that while the MV Lorcon Luzon was under In the Resolution46 dated February 9, 2009, this court consolidated the Petitions
compulsory pilotage, Captain Villarias, the vessel's Master, remained to be its overall docketed as G.R. Nos. 181683 and 184568.
commander. It added that he was remiss in his duties as he did nothing in the crucial
moments when Captain Yape's orders to go astern appeared to not have been For resolution are the following issues:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
heeded.31 It cited Article 2180 of the Civil Code32 in that an employer's liability is
primary and not subsidiary. It further noted that Lorenzo Shipping failed to show that First, whether Lorenzo Shipping Corporation is liable for the damage sustained by
it exercised due diligence in the selection and supervision of Captain Villarias. 33 Power Barge 104 when the MV Lorcon Luzon rammed into it, considering that at the
time of the ramming, the MV Lorcon Luzon was under mandatory pilotage by Captain
Lorenzo Shipping filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Yape; and

The Court of Appeals then issued the Amended Decision dated February 12, Second, assuming that liability is to be attributed to Lorenzo Shipping, what damages,
2008.34 Noting that the amount of actual damages was not proven by National Power if any, may be awarded to National Power Corporation.
Corporation, it awarded National Power Corporation the amount of P300,000.00 as
temperate damages in lieu of actual damages. The awards for attorney's fees and I
litigation expenses were sustained.
It is not disputed that the MV Lorcon Luzon, a vessel owned and operated by Lorenzo
National Power Corporation then filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which the Court Shipping, rammed into Power Barge 104 while attempting to dock at the Makar
of Appeals denied in its Resolution dated September 17, 2008. 35 Wharf. Likewise, it is not disputed that when it rammed into Power Barge No. 104,
the MV Lorcon Luzon was being piloted by Captain Yape. What is in dispute is whether
On March 31, 2008, Lorenzo Shipping filed the Petition for Review on Captain Yape's pilotage suffices to absolve Lorenzo Shipping of liability.
Certiorari36 docketed as G.R. No. 181683. It reiterated its position that no liability
could be attributed to it as the MV Lorcon Luzon was under compulsory pilotage and A Master's designation as the commander of a vessel is long-settled. This court's
that National Power Corporation assumed risk when it berthed a non-propelled citation in Yu Con v. Ipil47 of General Review of Legislation and Jurisprudence explains
vessel in the Makar Wharf.37 It added that even assuming that it was at fault, the that "Master" and "Captain" are synonymous terms:
award of P3 00,000.00 as temperate damages was still improper. It claimed that, from "The name of captain or master is given, according to the kind of vessel, to the person
the text of Article 2224 of the Civil Code,38 temperate damages can be awarded only in charge of it.
in cases where pecuniary loss may have been incurred, but whose exact amount,
through the nature of the injury suffered, e.g., injury to commercial credit or business "The first denomination is applied to those who govern vessels that navigate the high
goodwill, cannot be ascertained. It argued that National Power Corporation was well seas or ships of large dimensions and importance, although they be engaged in the
coastwise trade. b) Must have been a Master of an interisland vessel for at least three (3) years prior
to his application with the PPA;
"Masters are those who command smaller ships engaged exclusively in the coastwise
trade. c) Must be certified by a government physician as physically and mentally fit.
Vessels maneuvered by a Special Harbor Pilot shall be exempt from the payment of
"For the purposes of maritime commerce, the words 'captain' and Q 'master' have all pilotage fees.52ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
the same meaning; both being the chiefs or commanders of The second paragraph of Section 8 identifies an instance when control of a vessel
ships.48ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary need not be yielded to a pilot. Section 9 further enumerates exceptions to
Likewise, in Inter-Orient Maritime Enterprises, Inc. v. National Labor Relations compulsory pilotage:
Commission:49 Sec. 9. Exemptions - In the following cases, pilotage service is not compulsory:
A master or captain, for purposes of maritime commerce, is one who has command
of a vessel. A captain commonly performs three (3) distinct roles: (1) he is a general a) Vessels engaged in coastwise trade undocking at all ports, except at the
agent of the shipowner; (2) he is also commander and technical director of the vessel; ports of Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, Tacloban, Davao, Zamboanga, Pulupandan,
and (3) he is a representative of the country under whose flag he navigates. Of these Masinloc, and San Fernando,
roles, by far the most important is the role performed by the captain as commander
of the vessel; for such role (which, to our mind, is analogous to that of "Chief
Executive Officer" [CEO] of a present-day corporate enterprise) has to do with the
operation and preservation of the vessel during its voyage and the protection of the b) Government vessels,
passengers (if any) and crew and cargo. In his role as general agent of the shipowner,
the captain has authority to sign bills of lading, carry goods aboard and deal with the
freight earned, agree upon rates and decide whether to take cargo. The ship captain,
as agent of the shipowner, has legal authority to enter into contracts with respect to
the vessel and the trading of the vessel, subject to applicable limitations established c) Vessels of foreign governments entitled to courtesy,
by statute, contract or instructions and regulations of the shipowner. To the captain
is committed the governance, care and management of the vessel. Clearly, the
captain is vested with both management and fiduciary functions. 50 (Emphasis
supplied, citations omitted) d) Vessels that are authorized by BOT to engage in daily ferry service plying
This notwithstanding, there are recognized instances when control of a vessel is between two places within a port or between two ports,
yielded to a pilot. Section 8 of Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) Administrative Order
No. 03-85, otherwise known as the Rules and Regulations Governing Pilotage
Services, the Conduct of Pilots and Pilotage Fees in Philippine Ports,51 enumerates
instances when vessels are subjected to compulsory pilotage:
Sec. 8. Compulsory Pilotage Service — For entering a harbor and anchoring thereat, e) Phil. Flag vessels engaged in coastwise trade that depart from an
or passing through rivers or straits within a pilotage district, as well as docking and anchorage,
undocking at any pier/wharf, or shifting from one berth or another, every vessel
engaged in coastwise and foreign trade shall be under compulsory pilotage.

However, in the Ports of Manila and Cebu, and in such other ports as may be allowed f) Vessels calling at private ports whose owners have formally waived the
by this Authority, Ship Captains may pilot their vessels engaged in coastwise trade requirements of compulsory pilotage.53
provided they meet / comply with the following minimum qualifications /
requirements: Section 32(f) of PPA Administrative Order No. 03-85 specifies the foremost
a) Must be properly licensed as a Harbor Pilot by the Philippine Coast Guard for responsibility of a Harbor Pilot, that is, the direction of the vessel being piloted. In
Manila, Cebu and other authorized ports; addition, Section 32 (f) spells out the duration within which the Harbor Pilot is to fulfill
this responsibility. It likewise provides that the Master's failure to carry out the not blindly. Under the circumstances of this case, if a situation arose where the
Harbor Pilot's orders is a ground for absolving the Harbor Pilot of liability: master, exercising that reasonable vigilance which the master of a ship should
Sec. 32. Duties and Responsibilities of the Pilots or Pilots' Association. — The duties exercise, observed, or should have observed, that the pilot was so navigating the
and responsibilities of the Harbor Pilot shall be as vessel that she was going, or was likely to go, into danger, and there was in the
follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary exercise of reasonable care and vigilance an opportunity for the master to intervene
so as to save the ship from danger, the master should have acted accordingly. The
.... master of a vessel must exercise a degree of vigilance commensurate with the
circumstances.59 (Citations omitted)
Thus, contrary to Lorenzo Shipping's assertion, the MV Lorcon Luzon's having been
f) A pilot shall be held responsible for the direction of a vessel from the time piloted by Captain Yape at the time of the ramming does not automatically absolve
he assumes his work as a pilot thereof until he leaves it anchored or Lorenzo Shipping of liability. Clearing it of liability requires a demonstration of how
berthed safely; Provided, however, that his responsibility shall cease at the the Master, Captain Villarias, conducted himself in those moments when it became
moment the Master neglects or refuses to carry out his order.54 apparent that the MV Lorcon Luzon's engine had stopped and Captain Yape's orders
to go "slow astern" and "full astern" were not being heeded.
Consistent with the yielding of control to a pilot, Section 11 of PPA Administrative
Order No. 03-85 makes the Harbor Pilot liable for damage caused by his or her II
negligence or fault. The same provision, however, emphasizes that "overall
command" of the vessel remains in the Master of the vessel: As noted by the Court of Appeals, Captain Villarias was remiss in his duties. In his
Sec. 11. Control of Vessels and Liability for Damage. — On compulsory pilotage testimony before the Board of Marine Inquiry, Captain Villarias admitted that about
grounds, the Harbor Pilot providing the service to a vessel shall be responsible for the six (6) minutes had passed before he even realized that there was an engine failure,
damage caused to a vessel or to life and property at ports due to his negligence or let alone acted on this fact:
fault. He can be absolved from liability if the accident is caused by force majeure or Significantly, Captain Mariano Villarias before the Board of Marine Inquiry testified
natural calamities provided he has exercised prudence and extra diligence to prevent as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
or minimize the damage.

The Master shall retain overall command of the vessel even on pilotage grounds "Atty. Now, during the time of that accident, Mr. Witness, how did you
whereby he can countermand or overrule the order or command of the Harbor Pilot Tapel: know that the cause of the ramming on Power Barge No. 104 was
on board. In such event, any damage caused to a vessel or to life and property at due to engine failure?
ports by reason of the fault or negligence of the Master shall be the responsibility
and liability of the registered owner of the vessel concerned without prejudice to
recourse against said Master.

Such liability of the owner or Master of the vessel or its pilots shall be determined by Capt There was no response upon the order or the harbor pilot from
competent authority in appropriate proceedings in the light of the facts and Villarias: slow to full eastern [sic] engine.
circumstances of each particular case.55ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Accordingly, it is settled that Harbor Pilots are liable only to the extent that they can
perform their function through the officers and crew of the piloted vessel. 56 Where
there is failure by the officers and crew to adhere to their orders, Harbor Pilots cannot Atty. Do you want to tell this Honorable Board that before the
be held liable.57 In Far Eastern Shipping Co. V. Court of Appeals,58 this court explained Tepal: ramming incident there was an order from the harbor pilot for
the intertwined responsibilities of pilots and masters: slow eastern [sic] engine and there was no response?
[W]here a compulsory pilot is in charge of a ship, the master being required to permit
him to navigate it, if the master observes that the pilot is incompetent or physically
incapable, then it is the duty of the master to refuse to permit the pilot to act. But if
no such reasons are present, then the master is justified in relying upon the pilot, but
Capt Yes, there was an order. Capt. The second engineer and the chief engineer. The engineer on
Villarias: Villarias: duty.

Atty. Where were you at that time, Mr. Witness? Atty. And because there was no response from the engine
Tepal: Tepal: department[,] you concluded that there was an engine failure
which caused the ramming of Napocor Power Barge?

Capt. I am always [at] the side of the harbor pilot.


Villarias: Capt. Almost six (6) minutes there is no response before I know that
Villarias: there was an engine failure."60

In the Reply it filed in G.R. No. 181683, Lorenzo Shipping attempts to douse the
significance of Captain Villarias' inaction for six (6) minutes as follows:
Atty. Have you heard the harbor pilot issuing the orders? The Court of Appeals held that Capt. Villarias was remiss in his duties because he just
Tepal: stood besides [sic] the harbour pilot waiting for a response from the engine
department. He could have called the attention of Capt. Yape on his miscalculations
in the docking maneuvers of the vessel.

Capt. Yes, because I have to repeat his order. But the Court of Appeals assumed that the unfolding circumstances on the water that
Villarias: approached the wharf were in slow motion and permitted the vessel's captain to
have time to examine the situation and deliberate on it, make a judgment that the
pilot had given a wrong command, wrest from him control of the vessel, and enable
the crew down in its belly, at the time tuned to the voice of the pilot, to realize that
the latter's authority had been superseded and that the command had reverted to
Atty. Tepel Now, when there was no response[,] who is supposed to respond
the captain. As it were, no evidence was presented to show that the captain and the
(sic): to the order of the harbor pilot?
crew had all the time they needed to arrest the momentum of the vessel to which
the pilot had directed it.61ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
We disagree.

Capt. It was the engine department. In the first place, six (6) minutes cannot be characterized as so quick and fleeting that
Vilalrias: it deprived Captain Villarias and his crew of "the time they needed to arrest the
momentum of the vessel."62 By way of reference, an entire song of average length
(or longer) could have played in Captain Villarias' head within those six (6) minutes.
The vessel had been performing the tedious task of berthing and had been moving
so fast that it was about to collide with the docks in the wharf. Given these
Atty Tapel Who in the engine department is supposed to respond to the
circumstances, it was only reasonable for Captain Villarias, precisely because he was
(sic): order of the harbor pilot?
the vessel's Master, to remain vigilant, to support and supplement Captain Yape's
orders, and to take evasive and counter measures should Captain Yape's attempts to
safely berth prove to be ineffectual. The Court of Appeals' observation is well-taken:
"Even just a minute without any response from the concerned department could that restricts the use of Makar Wharf to self-propelled vessels or absolutely prohibits
have alarmed him."63 National Power Corporation from using it as a berthing place for a power barge.

Lorenzo Shipping counters the observations of the Court of Appeals by attempting to If at all, the MV Lorcon Luzon's ramming of a stationary object is even more damaging
paint a picture of absurdity. It describes the confluence of events as needing to have to Lorenzo Shipping's cause. As explained in Far Eastern Shipping:65
been in "slow motion" if the crew were to timely and properly react. It conjures We start our discussion of the successive issues bearing in mind the evidentiary rule
images of Captain Villarias "wrest[ing] from [Captain Yape] control of the in American jurisprudence that there is a presumption of fault against a moving
vessel"64 and the crew thrown into a confused frenzy as they had to listen to Captain vessel that strikes a stationary object such as a dock or navigational aid. In admiralty,
Villarias' voice. this presumption does more than merely require the ship to go forward and produce
some evidence on the presumptive matter. The moving vessel must show that it was
This manner of arguing fails to impress. To reiterate, six (6) minutes were more than without fault or that the collision was occasioned by the fault of the stationary object
enough time for Captain Villarias to have done something to remedy the situation. It or was the result of inevitable accident. It has been held that such vessel must exhaust
is not for us to hypothesize on whether the measures he took would have been every reasonable possibility which the circumstances admit and show that in each,
effectual. It remains that for six minutes, he did nothing. As Master of the MV Lorcon they did all that reasonable care required. In the absence of sufficient proof in
Luzon, he should have been on his toes, keen and ready to make decisions in a split rebuttal, the presumption of fault attaches to a moving vessel which collides with a
second, especially in an evidently precarious situation. His failure to timely act is too fixed object and makes a prima facie case of fault against the vessel. Logic and
glaring to ignore. experience support this presumption:
The common sense behind the rule makes the burden a heavy one. Such accidents
Moreover, both Captain Villarias and Captain Yape must be presumed to have been simply do not occur in the ordinary course of things unless the vessel has been
disciplined officers who knew fully well how to conduct themselves in such a mismanaged in some way. It is not sufficient for the respondent to produce witnesses
situation. There is no basis for contemplating a scenario where the Pilot and the who testify that as soon as the danger became apparent everything possible was
Master are battling for control of the MV Lorcon Luzon. done to avoid an accident. The question remains, How then did the collision occur?
The answer must be either that, in spite of the testimony of the witnesses, what was
So, too, the crew must be presumed to have been trained to follow the Master's done was too little or too late or, if not, then the vessel was at fault for being in a
commands. It is ridiculous to think that merely hearing Captain Villarias' voice in lieu position in which an unavoidable collision would occur.66 (Emphasis supplied,
of Captain Yape's would throw the crew into paralyzed confusion. Besides, from citations omitted)
Captain Villarias' quoted testimony, the crew was already listening to both his and IV
Captain Yape's voices. He admitted that he repeated Captain Yape's orders. The crew
was, thus, properly disposed to heed instructions coming from him. If at all, his failure We sustain the Court of Appeals' award to National Power Corporation of
to timely act despite the crew's presumptive readiness to heed his command only P300,000.00 as temperate damages.
highlights his negligence.
Article 2199 of the Civil Code spells out the basic requirement that compensation by
III way of actual damages is awarded only to the extent that pecuniary loss is proven:
Article 2199. Except as provided by law or by stipulation, one is entitled to an
Equally futile is Lorenzo Shipping's claim that National Power Corporation must bear adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss suffered by him as he has duly
its own losses as it assumed the risk of injury when it moored a non-propelled or proved. Such compensation is referred to as actual or compensatory damages.
stationary barge in the Makar Wharf. The standard for proving pecuniary loss was explained in PNOC Shipping and
Transport Corp. v. Court of Appeals,67 as follows:
It is pointless to even consider this. Apart from Lorenzo Shipping's own self-serving A party is entitled to adequate compensation only for such pecuniary loss actually
assertions, there is no basis for holding that Power Barge 104's presence in the Makar suffered and duly proved. Indeed, basic is the rule that to recover actual damages,
Wharf was improper and tantamount to an assumption of risk. Lorenzo Shipping the amount of loss must not only be capable of proof but must actually be proven
could have very easily adduced proof attesting to Makar Wharf's supposedly being with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof or best
exclusive to self-propelled vessels. It did not. Nowhere in any of its submissions to evidence obtainable of the actual amount thereof. The claimant is duty-bound to
this court did Lorenzo Shipping annex a copy of the appropriate regulation, if any, point out specific facts that afford a basis for measuring whatever compensatory
damages are borne. A court cannot merely rely on speculations, conjectures, or
guesswork as to the fact and amount of damages as well as hearsay or Nowhere in any of its submissions to this court—whether in its Comment in G.R. No.
uncorroborated testimony whose truth is suspect. 68 (Citations omitted) 181683 or in its Petition and/or Reply in G.R. No. 184568—did National Power
National Power Corporation bewails the Court of Appeals' observation that the basis Corporation rebut the flaws noted by Lorenzo Shipping. Instead, it merely insisted on
of its claims was "not properly receipted."69 It counters that it was able to show by how actual damages are awarded on the basis of the "best obtainable
"competent testimonial and documentary evidence" 70 that it must be compensated evidence,"75 and how it has supposedly presented "competent testimonial and
for actual damages in the amount of P876,826.00. It recalls these pieces of evidence: documentary evidence"76 to prove its claims.

a. Testimony of Mr. Nelson Homena, manager of Power Barge 104 National Power Corporation's posturing fails to impress.
[who] testified on the damages [sic] sustained by said barge as a
result of the ramming incident caused by the negligence of M/V It is basic that any material presented as evidence will not be considered unless duly
Lorcon Luzon. admitted by the court before which it is presented. Just as basic is that a private
document offered as authentic evidence shall not be admitted unless its due
b. The "Total Incidental Cost for Drydock and Repair" prepared by the execution and authenticity are established in the manner specified by Rule 132,
Philippine Shipyard and Engineering Corporation ("PHILSECO") Section 30 of the Revised Rules on Evidence:
dated 14 October 1993 was presented which clearly enumerated Section 20. Proof of private document. - Before any private document offered as
and itemized the actual damages [sic] sustained by Power Barge authentic is received in evidence, its due execution and authenticity must be proved
104 and repaired by PHILSECO. either:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

c. NPC Disbursement Voucher No. 093-121304 in the amount of (a) By anyone who saw the document executed or written; or
P6,775,839.02 covering a period up to 14 January 1994 as proof of
payment made by [National Power Corporation] to PHILSECO for (b) By evidence of the genuineness of the signature or handwriting of the maker.
drydocking repairs of Power Barge 104. 71
Any other private document need only be identified as that which it is claimed to be.
However, Lorenzo Shipping pointed out fatal flaws in these pieces of evidence. These A bill of expenses, such as National Power Corporation's Exhibit "F", is considered a
flaws led the Court of Appeals to reconsider its earlier award of actual damages to private document as it does not fall under what the Revised Rules on Evidence defines
National Power Corporation. to be public documents.77Accordingly, for it to have been admitted by the Regional
Trial Court as authentic, Rule 132, Section 30 of the Revised Rules on Evidence must
Regarding the "Total Incidental Cost for Drydock and Repair," which was National have been complied with. National Power Corporation failed in this respect. Thus, in
Power Corporation's Exhibit "F" before the Regional Trial Court, Lorenzo Shipping the words of the Regional Trial Court, it:
underscored that when the Regional Trial Court ruled on National Power 3. Denies the admission of Exhibit "F" and its submarkings for not having been
Corporation's Formal Offer of Evidence, it denied the admission of Exhibit "F" for not properly identified.78ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
having been identified nor authenticated. It emphasized that no witness came It is of no consequence that the substance or contents of Exhibit "F" are such that
forward to attest to its authenticity and due execution, let alone allowed himself or they specify an amount. It is of no consequence that it is purportedly of such
herself to be cross-examined on these points.72 evidentiary weight that it could definitely establish National Power Corporation's
claims.
Regarding Nelson Homena's testimony, Lorenzo Shipping emphasized that all he
indicated was how he and a certain Mr. Neri estimated the cost of damage to be at Admissibility of evidence and weight accorded to evidence are two distinct affairs.
about P1,000,000.00.73 Rule 128, Section 3 of the Revised Rules on Evidence governs admissibility and
provides that "[e]vidence is admissible when it is relevant to the issue and is not
Regarding Disbursement Voucher No. 093-121304, Lorenzo Shipping pointed out that excluded by the law of these rules." When evidence has "such a relation to the fact
while this attests to expenses paid to PHILSECO, it was silent on the exact cost paid in issue as to induce belief in its existence or non-existence,"79 it is said to be relevant.
for the repair of Power Barge 104.74 When evidence is not excluded by law or by the Rules, it is said to be competent.
The weight accorded to evidence is properly considered only after evidence has been Banking on Article 2224's text, which references "the nature of the case," Lorenzo
admitted. To this end, courts evaluate evidence in accordance with the rules Shipping asserts that temperate damages can be awarded only in cases where
stipulated by Rule 133 of the Revised Rules on Evidence,80 consistent with basic pecuniary loss may have been incurred, but whose exact amount, through the nature
precepts of rationality and guided by judicially established standards. It is improper of the injury suffered, e.g., injury to commercial credit or business goodwill, cannot
to even speak of evidentiary weight when the piece of evidence in question has not be ascertained. It argues that because the circumstances of this case are such that
even been admitted. National Power Corporation could have pleaded and proved a specific—i.e.,
ascertained—amount of pecuniary loss but failed to do so, temperate damages
Exhibit "F" was ruled to have been inadmissible for failing to comply with Rule 132, should not be awarded.
Section 20 thus, it failed the standard of competency. Consistent with this, reliance
on National Power Corporation's Exhibit "F" and its contents, so as to establish the Lorenzo Shipping is proposing an erroneous, narrow, and unduly restrictive
extent of National Power Corporation's pecuniary loss, is misplaced. Not having been construction of Article 2224.
admitted, Exhibit "F" does not form part of the body of evidence worthy of judicial
consideration. This case is not the first instance that this court was confronted with the ostensibly
limiting language of Article 2224. In Republic of the Philippines v. Tuvera,81 this court
As National Power Corporation cannot rely on the "Total Incidental Cost for Drydock already debunked the notion that temperate damages are appropriate only in those
and Repair," it is left to rely on the testimony of Nelson Hpmena and on NPC cases in which pecuniary loss cannot, "by its nature," be ascertained:
Disbursement Voucher No. 093-121304. Temperate or moderate damages avail when "the court finds that some pecuniary
loss has been suffered but its amount can not from the nature of the case, be proved
However, as pointed out by Lorenzo Shipping, these pieces of evidence fall short of with certainty." The textual language might betray an intent that temperate
the standard required for proving pecuniary loss, which shall be the basis for damages do not avail when the case, by its nature, is susceptible to proof of pecuniary
awarding actual damages. As regards Nelson Homena's testimony, all he did was give loss; and certainly the Republic could have proved pecuniary loss herein. Still,
an estimate of P1,000,000.00. Certainly, a mere estimate does not suffice as proof of jurisprudence applying Article 2224 is clear that temperate damages may be awarded
actual pecuniary loss. As regards NPC Disbursement Voucher No. 093-121304, all it even in instances where pecuniary loss could theoretically have been proved with
attests to is a release of funds in favor of PHILSECO in the total amount of certainty.
P6,775,839.02, covering no specific transaction but a period extending from January
14, 1994. In a host of criminal cases, the Court has awarded temperate damages to the heirs of
the victim in cases where the amount of actual damages was not proven due to the
V inadequacy of the evidence presented by the prosecution. These cases
include People v. Oliano, People v. Suplito, People v. De la Tongga, People v. Briones,
Clearly, National Power Corporation failed to establish the precise amount of and People v. Plazo. In Viron Transportation Co., Inc. v. Delos Santos, a civil action for
pecuniary loss it suffered. Nevertheless, it remains that Power Barge 104 sustained damages involving a vehicular collision, temperate damages were awarded for the
damage—which may be reckoned financially—as a result of the MV Lorcon Luzon's resulting damage sustained by a cargo truck, after the plaintiff had failed to submit
ramming into it. National Power Corporation suffered pecuniary loss, albeit its competent proof of actual damages.82 (Citations omitted)
precise extent or amount had not been established. Accordingly, we sustain the Court In resolving this case, we have had to sift through the parties' competing claims as to
of Appeals' conclusion that National Power Corporation is entitled to temperate who exactly is liable and to what extent. Reduced to its fundamentals, however, this
damages. case remains to be about damage sustained by property owned by National Power
Corporation when the MV Lorcon Luzon rammed into it. This damage is susceptible
Articles 2224 and 2225 of the Civil Code govern temperate damages: to financial reckoning. Unfortunately for National Power Corporation, it failed to
Article 2224. Temperate or moderate damages, which are more than nominal but establish the precise amount of its pecuniary loss. This vice of precision
less than compensatory damages, may be recovered when the court finds that some notwithstanding, it would be improper to completely turn a blind eye to the loss
pecuniary loss has been suffered but its amount can not, from the nature of the case, suffered by National Power Corporation and to deny it, as Lorenzo Shipping suggests,
be provided with certainty. of any form of recompense. Under these circumstances, we sustain the Court of
Appeals' award of temperate damages.
Article 2225. Temperate damages must be reasonable under the circumstances.
WHEREFORE, the consolidated Petitions are DENIED. The Amended Decision dated WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Court hereby AFFIRMS the Decision
February 12, 2008 and Resolution dated September 17, 2008 of the Court of Appeals dated 22 June 2000 rendered by Branch 18 of the Regional Trial Court of Digos, Davao
in CA-G.R. CV No. 76295 are AFFIRMED. del Sur, REVERSING and SETTING ASIDE the Decision of the Municipal Trial Court of
Sta. Cruz, Davao del Su[r].[4]
All monetary awards for damages shall earn interest at the legal rate of 6% per annum
from the date of the finality of this judgment until fully paid. The assailed Resolution[5] denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The Facts
3. Heirs of Sabanpan v. Comorposa

The CA summarized the factual antecedents of the case as follows:

A [C]omplaint for unlawful detainer with damages was filed by [petitioners] against
[G.R. No. 152807. August 12, 2003]
[respondents] before the Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur Municipal Trial Court.

The [C]omplaint alleged that Marcos Saez was the lawful and actual possessor of Lot
HEIRS OF LOURDES SAEZ SABANPAN: BERNARDO S. SABANPAN, RENE S. No. 845, Land 275 located at Darong, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur with an area of 1.2
SABANPAN, DANILO S. SABANPAN and THELMA S. CHU; HEIRS OF ADOLFO hectares. In 1960, he died leaving all his heirs, his children and grandchildren.
SAEZ: MA. LUISA SAEZ TAPIZ, MA. VICTORIA SAEZ LAPITAN, MA. BELEN
SAEZ and EMMANUEL SAEZ; and HEIRS OF CRISTINA SAEZ GUTIERREZ: ROY In 1965, Francisco Comorposa who was working in the land of Oboza was terminated
SAEZ GUTIERREZ and LUIS SAEZ JR., petitioners, vs. ALBERTO C. from his job. The termination of his employment caused a problem in relocating his
COMORPOSA, HERDIN C. COMORPOSA, OFELIA C. ARIEGO,[1] REMEDIOS house. Being a close family friend of [Marcos] Saez, Francisco Comorposa
COMORPOSA, VIRGILIO A. LARIEGO,1-a BELINDA M. COMORPOSA and approached the late Marcos Saezs son, [Adolfo] Saez, the husband of Gloria Leano
ISABELITA H. COMORPOSA, respondents. Saez, about his problem. Out of pity and for humanitarian consideration, Adolfo
allowed Francisco Comorposa to occupy the land of Marcos Saez. Hence, his nipa hut
DECISION was carried by his neighbors and transferred to a portion of the land subject matter
of this case. Such transfer was witnessed by several people, among them, Gloria
PANGANIBAN, J.: Leano and Noel Oboza. Francisco Comorposa occupied a portion of Marcos Saez
property without paying any rental.
The admissibility of evidence should be distinguished from its probative
value. Just because a piece of evidence is admitted does not ipso facto mean that it Francisco Comorposa left for Hawaii, U.S.A. He was succeeded in his possession by
conclusively proves the fact in dispute. the respondents who likewise did not pay any rental and are occupying the premises
through petitioners tolerance.

The Case On 7 May 1998, a formal demand was made upon the respondents to vacate the
premises but the latter refused to vacate the same and claimed that they [were] the
legitimate claimants and the actual and lawful possessor[s] of the premises. A
Before us is a Petition for Review[2] under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking [C]omplaint was filed with the barangay office of Sta. Cruz[,] Davao del Sur, but the
to set aside the August 7, 2001 Decision and the February 27, 2002 Resolution of the parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement. Thus, the corresponding Certificate
Court of Appeals[3](CA) in CA-GR SP No. 60645.The dispositive portion of the assailed to File Action was issued by the said barangay and an action for unlawful detainer
Decision reads as follows: was filed by petitioners against respondents.
Respondents, in their Answer, denied the material allegations of the [C]omplaint and Did the Court of Appeals gravely abuse its discretion and [err] in sustaining the ruling
alleged that they entered and occupied the premises in their own right as true, valid of the Regional Trial Court giving credence to the Order dated 2 April 1998 issued by
and lawful claimants, possessors and owners of the said lot way back in 1960 and up the regional executive director?
to the present time; that they have acquired just and valid ownership and possession
of the premises by ordinary or extraordinary prescription, and that the Regional II
Director of the DENR, Region XI has already upheld their possession over the land in
question when it ruled that they [were] the rightful claimants and possessors and Did the Court of Appeals gravely abuse its discretion and err in sustaining the Regional
[were], therefore, entitled to the issuance of a title. Trial Courts ruling giving weight to the CENR Officers Certification, which only bears
the facsimile of the alleged signature of a certain Jose F. Tagorda and, [worse], it is a
The Municipal Trial Court of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur rendered judgment in favor of new matter raised for the first time on appeal?
petitioners but the Regional Trial Court of Digos, Davao del Sur, on appeal, reversed
and set aside the said decision. x x x[6] III

Did the Court of Appeals gravely abuse its discretion and err in holding that the land
Ruling of the Court of Appeals subject matter of this case has been acquired by means of adverse possession and
prescription?

Affirming the Regional Trial Court (RTC), the CA upheld the right of respondents
IV
as claimants and possessors. The appellate court held that -- although not yet final --
the Order issued by the regional executive director of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) remained in full force and effect, unless Did the Court of Appeals gravely abuse its discretion, and err in declaring that, neither
declared null and void. The CA added that the Certification issued by the DENRs is there error on the part of the Regional Trial Court, when it did not give importance
community environment and natural resources (CENR) officer was proof that when to the affidavits by Gloria Leano Saez, Noel [Oboza], and Paulina Paran for allegedly
the cadastral survey was conducted, the land was still alienable and was not yet being self serving?[8]
allocated to any person.
To facilitate the discussion, the fourth and the third issues shall be discussed in
According to the CA, respondents had the better right to possess alienable and reverse sequence.
disposable land of the public domain, because they have suffiently proven their
actual, physical, open, notorious, exclusive, continuous and uninterrupted possession
thereof since 1960. The appellate court deemed as self-serving, and therefore
The Courts Ruling
incredible, the Affidavits executed by Gloria Leano Saez, Noel Oboza and Paulina
Paran.
Hence, this Petition.[7] The Petition has no merit.

The Issue First Issue:


The DENR Order of April 2, 1998

In their Memorandum, petitioners raise the following issues for the Courts
consideration: Petitioners claim that the reliance of the CA upon the April 2, 1998 Order issued
by the regional director of the DENR was erroneous. The reason was that the Order,
I which had upheld the claim of respondents, was supposedly not yet final and
executory. Another Order dated August 23, 1999,[9] issued later by the DENR regional The Certification, on the other hand, is being contested for bearing a facsimile
director, allegedly held in abeyance the effectivity of the earlier one. of the signature of CENR Officer Jose F. Tagorda. The facsimile referred to is not the
same as that which is alluded to in Garvida. The one mentioned here refers to a
Under the Public Land Act,[10] the management and the disposition of public
facsimile signature, which is defined as a signature produced by mechanical means
land is under the primary control of the director of lands[11] (now the director of the
but recognized as valid in banking, financial, and business transactions.[20]
Lands Management Bureau or LMB),[12] subject to review by the DENR
secretary.[13] As a rule, then, courts have no jurisdiction to intrude upon matters Note that the CENR officer has not disclaimed the Certification. In fact, the
properly falling within the powers of the LMB. DENR regional director has acknowledged and used it as reference in his Order dated
April 2, 1998:
The powers given to the LMB and the DENR to alienate and dispose of public
land does not, however, divest regular courts of jurisdiction over possessory actions
x x x. CENR Officer Jose F. Tagorda, in a CERTIFICATION dated 22 July 1997, certified among
instituted by occupants or applicants to protect their respective possessions and
others, that: x x x per records available in his Office, x x x the controverted lot x x
occupations.[14] The power to determine who has actual physical possession or
x was not allocated to any person x x x.[21]
occupation of public land and who has the better right of possession over it remains
with the courts.[15] But once the DENR has decided, particularly through the grant of
a homestead patent and the issuance of a certificate of title, its decision on these If the Certification were a sham as petitioner claims, then the regional director
points will normally prevail.[16] would not have used it as reference in his Order. Instead, he would have either
verified it or directed the CENR officer to take the appropriate action, as the latter
Therefore, while the issue as to who among the parties are entitled to a piece was under the formers direct control and supervision.
of public land remains pending with the DENR, the question of recovery of possession
of the disputed property is a matter that may be addressed to the courts.
Petitioners claim that the Certification was raised for the first time on appeal is
incorrect. As early as the pretrial conference at the Municipal Trial Court (MTC), the
Second Issue: CENR Certification had already been marked as evidence for respondents as stated
CENR Officers Certification in the Pre-trial Order.[22] The Certification was not formally offered, however,
because respondents had not been able to file their position paper.

Petitioners contend that the CENR Certification dated July 22, 1997 is a sham Neither the rules of procedure[23] nor jurisprudence[24] would sanction the
document, because the signature of the CENR officer is a mere facsimile. In support admission of evidence that has not been formally offered during the trial. But this
of their argument, they cite Garvida v. Sales Jr.[17]and argue that the Certification is a evidentiary rule is applicable only to ordinary trials, not to cases covered by the rule
new matter being raised by respondents for the first time on appeal. on summary procedure -- cases in which no full-blown trial is held.[25]

We are not persuaded.


In Garvida, the Court held: Third Issue:
Affidavit of Petitioners Witnesses
A facsimile or fax transmission is a process involving the transmission and
reproduction of printed and graphic matter by scanning an original copy, one
Petitioners assert that the CA erred in disregarding the Affidavits of their
elemental area at a time, and representing the shade or tone of each area by a
witnesses, insisting that the Rule on Summary Procedure authorizes the use of
specified amount of electric current. x x x[18]
affidavits. They also claim that the failure of respondents to file their position paper
and counter-affidavits before the MTC amounts to an admission by silence.
Pleadings filed via fax machines are not considered originals and are at best
exact copies. As such, they are not admissible in evidence, as there is no way of The admissibility of evidence should not be confused with its probative
determining whether they are genuine or authentic.[19] value. Admissibility refers to the question of whether certain pieces of evidence are
to be considered at all, while probative value refers to the question of whether the
admitted evidence proves an issue.[26] Thus, a particular item of evidence may be This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court
admissible, but its evidentiary weight depends on judicial evaluation within the filed by Tongonan Holdings and Development Corporation (THDC) assailing, on
guidelines provided by the rules of evidence.[27] questions of law, the August 12, 2009 Decision[1] of the 19thDivision of the Court of
Appeals, Cebu City (CA), in CA-G.R. SP No. 03935, entitled "Atty. Francisco Escaño, Jr.
While in summary proceedings affidavits are admissible as the witnesses
v. Hon. Apolinario Buaya, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court,
respective testimonies, the failure of the adverse party to reply does not ipso
Branch 35, Ormoc City and Tongonan Holdings & Development Corporation,
facto render the facts, set forth therein, duly proven.Petitioners still bear the burden represented by its president, Mr. Antonio Diano," and its December 10, 2009
of proving their cause of action, because they are the ones asserting an affirmative
Resolution denying the motion for the reconsideration thereof.
relief.[28]
The Facts

Fourth Issue: This controversy between petitioner THDC and its erstwhile counsel, respondent
Defense of Prescription Atty. Francisco Escaño, Jr. (Atty. Escaño) arose from a case for eminent domain,
docketed as Civil Case No. 3392-0 entitled "Philippine National Oil Company v. Sps.
Dominador and Minerva Samson" before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 35, Ormoc
Petitioners claim that the court a quo erred in upholding the defense of City (RTC). THDC was named as Defendant-Intervenor in the said case, as it had
prescription proffered by respondents. It is the formers contention that since the purchased the subject parcels of land from the defendant spouses (Spouses
latters possession of the land was merely being tolerated, there was no basis for the Samson) and was represented by Atty. Escaño of the Escaño Montehermoso Oliver
claim of prescription. We disagree. and Trias Law Office from February 24, 1997 to June 30, 1999. After the dissolution
For the Court to uphold the contention of petitioners, they have first to prove of the law firm, Atty. Escaño continued to represent THDC from July 1, 1999 until his
that the possession of respondents was by mere tolerance. The only pieces of services was terminated by THDC in April 2005.[2]
evidence submitted by the former to support their claim were a technical description
and a vicinity map drawn in accordance with the survey dated May 22, 1936.[29] Both Eventually, in the RTC Order[3] dated November 27, 2000, THDC was awarded just
of these were discredited by the CENR Certification, which indicated that the compensation in the amount of ?33,242,700.00 with legal interest at the rate of 6%
contested lot had not yet been allocated to any person when the survey was per annum from the date of the filing of the complaint on June 10, 1996.
conducted.[30] The testimony of petitioners witnesses alone cannot prevail over
respondents continued and uninterrupted possession of the subject lot for a Meanwhile, Atty. Escaño sought the entry of his attorney's liens on the basis of the
considerable length of time. Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated February 24, 1997, contracted between
him and THDC, stipulating the 30% professional or attorney's fees. The RTC, in its
Furthermore, this is an issue of fact that cannot, as a rule, be raised in a petition Order[4] dated June 13, 2001, declared the claim of 30% attorney's fees on the
for review under Rule 45.[31] judgment as unconscionable. The amount of attorney's fees was then fixed at 15%
of the judgment award in the name of the partners. On appeal, this reduction of
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs
attorney's fees was affirmed by the CA in its Decision [5] dated July 31, 2002.
against petitioners.
SO ORDERED. Upon dismissal of PNOC's appeal in the main case in the CA, Atty. Escaño,
representing THDC, moved for the execution of the RTC decision. The RTC then
ordered the issuance of a writ of execution in its Order [6] dated March 11, 2005.
4. Tongonan Holdings v. Escano
Subsequently, Atty. Escaño filed an Urgent Manifestation with Motion [7]alleging that
672 Phil. 747 THDC had lost its juridical personality as a corporation due to the revocation of its
certificate of registration. He prayed that the enforcement of the said writ of
execution be held in abeyance until the termination of the NBI's investigation relative
MENDOZA, J.: to the allegations that the RTC Decision of November 27, 2000 and the dismissal of
the appeal were secured through fraud. THDC later furnished the RTC with a copy of
a certification from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the and that the claim for attorney's fees could be properly raised in another forum so as
corporation had not been dissolved. As a result, THDC terminated the services of Atty. not to prejudice the main case. Atty. Escaño moved for a reconsideration of the said
Escaño on the ground of loss of confidence, which was approved by the RTC. resolution but it was denied in an Order dated November 19, 2008.
Afterward, Atty. Esca?ño filed a "Motion to Enter Into the Records Attorney's
Lien"[8] for additional attorney's fees of 15% for his professional services, rendered Aggrieved, Atty. Escaño filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 with the CA
after the dissolution of their law firm, from July 1, 1999 to April 29, 2005. He also assailing both the June 25, 2007 Resolution and November 19, 2008 Order of the
asked for another 33.7% as additional attorney's fees for Atty. Lino Dumas and RTC. His petition included a prayer to put in escrow all the proceeds of the money
partners, whom he claimed to be his consultants when the case was on appeal. These judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-0.
amounts were on top of the 15% already finally awarded. In all, he was demanding
a total of 63.7% of the judgment award. On August 12, 2009, the CA ruled that the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion
in denying the appeal. The CA concluded that giving due course to Atty. Escaño's
The RTC, in its September 26, 2005 Order,[9] denied the motion and approved only Notice of Appeal and putting in escrow the money judgment was proper and
the 15% Attorney's Lien on the money judgment in favor of Atty. Escaño and his appropriate as there was still a need to determine the issue of attorney's fees. The
former partners. It held that Atty. Escaño was not entitled to an additional dispositive portion of the assailed CA Decision reads:
compensation on the ground that when he took over the case from their law firm
there was no separate contract for his legal services. The said case became his case
after the partners divided all of the firm's cases among themselves; thus, the WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The orders of respondent court dated June
continuation of his services was still covered by the MOA previously entered between 25, 2007 and November 19, 2008, denying petitioner's Notice of Appeal is SET
him and THDC. After his motion for reconsideration was denied on January 26, 2006, ASIDE. The Order of the public respondent dated April 2, 2007 is REVIVED and
Atty. Escaño filed a Notice of Appeal. is DECLARED immediately EXECUTORY.

On April 2, 2007, the RTC gave due course to the Notice of Appeal. The pertinent Accordingly, petitioner's Notice of Appeal is given due course and respondent court
portion of the order states: is DIRECTED to transmit the records of Civil Case No. 3392-0 to this Court for review
on appeal of the Orders dated September 26, 2005 and January 26, 2006 regarding
the issue of petitioner's attorney's fees.
Nevertheless, in order to afford Atty. Escaño of all avenues available to him in
pursuing his claim for attorney's liens, despite the fact that the main case has long Further, public respondent is directed to put in escrow account at the local branch of
become final and executory, his appeal is given due course. Despite the granting of the Land Bank of the Philippines the proceeds of the judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-
the appeal, the execution will still proceed but the money recovered will be held in 0 not subject to existing liens, until the issues as to petitioner's attorney's fees on the
escrow until the final determination of the attorney's fees. basis [of] quantum meruit is finally resolved and until the identity of the person or
persons duly authorized to receive the proceeds of the judgment in Civil Case 3392-
Let the records of this case be forwarded to the Court of Appeals. 0 are clearly established on appeal.

SO ORDERED.[10] SO ORDERED.[12]

THDC then filed its Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Dismiss Appealarguing THDC filed a motion for reconsideration of the above decision but the CA denied the
that the Notice of Appeal was not the proper remedy as the order being questioned same in its Resolution[13] dated December 10, 2009. Hence, on February 19, 2010,
was interlocutory which could not be the subject of an appeal. It also questioned the THDC interposed the present petition before this Court anchored on the following
order to hold the proceeds of the execution in escrow without any motion from the
parties.
GROUNDS
On June 25, 2007, the RTC issued a Resolution[11] granting THDC's motion and setting
aside the April 2, 2007 Order. It reasoned out that the issue of attorney's fees was
indeed interlocutory considering that it was only incidental to the principal action (1)
a Cease and Desist Order dated October 4, 2010 stating that an Order dated October
THE CA ERRONEOUSLY BASED ITS DECISION ON THE PRESUMPTION THAT THE 1, 2010 was issued by the RTC directing the release to THDC of ?45,454,683.68 out of
APPEAL OF ATTY. ESCAÑO WAS PROPERLY LODGED the ?53,476,098.45 proceeds of the judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-0 which was
ordered to be put in escrow account. Acting on the said manifestations, this Court,
in a Resolution dated October 6, 2010, issued a Temporary Restraining Order
(2) enjoining THDC and the RTC from implementing and enforcing the Order of October
1, 2010.
THE CA MISINTERPRETED AND MISAPPLIED THE MEANING OF "INTERLOCUTORY
ORDER" On the main issue, the Court finds the petition impressed with merit.

At the outset, Atty. Escaño alleges that the petition failed to comply with Rule 45 as
(3) it did not distinctly set forth the questions of law THDC raised before this Court, and
that the seven (7) grounds raised by THDC involved questions of facts, rather than of
AN INTERLOCUTORY ORDER CANNOT BE APPEALED law, which are not proper in a petition for review under Rule 45. He likewise alleges
that the petition did not include clearly legible duplicate original or certified true
copies of the material documents of CA-GR SP No. 03935.
(4)
In Republic of the Philippines v. Malabanan,[15] this Court distinguished a question of
THE CA ERRONEOUSLY RULED ON AN ISSUE THAT IT DID NOT RECOGNIZE law from a question of fact. A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what
the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a question of fact when the doubt
arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law,
(5) the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence
presented by the litigants or any of them. The resolution of the issue must rest solely
THE CA ERRONEOUSLY RULED ON A CAUSE OF ACTION THAT IS NOT WITHIN ITS on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. Once it is clear that the
ORIGINAL AND EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact.
Thus, the test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation
given to such question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the
(6) appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating the
evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise it is a question of fact. [16]
THE CA ERRONEOUSLY RULED THAT THE ORDER OF THE RTC OF APRIL 2, 2007 WAS
REVIVED AND FURTHER DECLARED IT TO BE IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY A perusal of the present petition shows that the issues raised by THDC are questions
of law, as the same can be resolved solely on what the law provides under the
undisputed facts. The issues are the correct appreciation of Atty. Escaño's appeal,
(7) the exact meaning, interpretation and application of "interlocutory order;" the rule
that an interlocutory order cannot be appealed; the legality of the CA decision on the
DEPRIVATION OF THE PETITIONER'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.[14] issue of escrow; whether the CA can make a determination of an issue that it did not
recognize; the legality of the CA decision on the issue of attorney's fees when there
It appears from the records that on September 6, 2010, the judgment in Civil Case is no pending case yet on the matter; the CA's declaration in the questioned decision
No. 3392-0 was duly satisfied with the full payment by PNOC of the judgment that the RTC Order dated April 2, 2007 is revived and immediately executory; and the
obligation. On September 22, 2010, Atty. Escaño filed before this Court an Urgent question of denial of due process. All of these, indeed, are questions of law. Thus,
Manifestation alleging certain irregular acts of the RTC pertaining to the money Atty. Escaño's argument that the grounds thereof are factual is misleading.
judgment deposited in its fiduciary fund.
On the issue of whether the RTC's order of denial of the motion for entry for
Likewise, he filed a Supplemental Manifestation with Urgent Motion for Issuance of additional attorney's fees was interlocutory or final, THDC contends that it was
merely interlocutory because the issue was only collateral to the main issue of intervening between the commencement and the end of a suit which decides some
eminent domain. It submits that the main action of eminent domain could exist point or matter but is not a final decision of the whole controversy."[18]
independently without the issue of attorney's fees. The RTC decision of November
27, 2000 did not even mention the award of attorney's fees. According to THDC, the In Planters Products, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[19] the Court ruled that the order of the
matter of attorney's fees arose only when Atty. Escaño requested that his attorney's respondent trial court awarding attorney's fees in favor of a claimant-lawyer is a final
liens be entered into the records of the case. Thus, it insists that the orders relative order and not interlocutory. In the said case, petitioner entered into an agreement
to the issue of attorney's fees being interlocutory, the same cannot be the subject of for an Omnibus Credit Line with private respondent bank. The latter engaged the
appeal in accordance with the provision of Section 1(c), Rule 41 of the Revised Rules services of private respondent counsel in filing a suit against the petitioner to enforce
of Court. the latter's obligation under the agreement. As attorney's fees, respondent bank
assigned to respondent lawyer the right to collect fees due and collectible from the
Atty. Escaño, on the other hand, counters that the Orders of September 26, 2005 and petitioner under the trust receipts. Respondent bank was able to realize from the
January 26, 2006 are not interlocutory, but final orders and, therefore, appealable, sale of the attached merchandise covered by the trust receipt agreement. In as much
as correctly ruled by the CA. He reasons that both orders finally disposed the issue as respondent lawyer had not yet been paid his attorney's fees, he filed a claim for
of his attorney's fees before the RTC and there was nothing more to be done attorney's fees which was granted by the trial court.
pertaining to the same matter.
On the basis of the aforecited distinction and applying the foregoing test, this Court
An order or judgment of the RTC is deemed final when it finally disposes of a pending is of the view that the RTC orders of September 26, 2005 and January 26, 2006
action, so that nothing more can be done with it in the trial court. In other words, the denying the claim for additional attorney's fees were final considering that the main
order or judgment ends the litigation in the lower court. On the other hand, an order action, which was Civil Case No. 3392-0 for eminent domain, was already final. In
which does not dispose of the case completely and indicates that other things remain fact, it was the subject of several motions for execution. Thus, the RTC had nothing
to be done by the court as regards the merits, is interlocutory.[17] more to do with respect to the relative rights of the parties therein. There is nothing
left for the judge to perform except to enforce the judgment.
In Santos v. People of the Philippines, this Court laid down the test in finding whether
an order is interlocutory or final, thus: Moreover, as correctly noted by the CA, the RTC ended with finality the issue of Atty.
Escaño's attorney's fees when it rendered the aforementioned orders, having ruled
that he was not entitled to it. The RTC need not resolve anything else thereby making
The test to determine whether an order or judgment is interlocutory or final is this: the said orders final.
"Does it leave something to be done in the trial court with respect to the merits of
the case? If it does, it is interlocutory; if it does not, it is final". A court order is final Nevertheless, both the RTC and CA were wrong when they entertained the motion
in character if it puts an end to the particular matter resolved or settles definitely the of Atty. Escaño for additional attorney's fees. Indeed, the RTC was correct when it
matter therein disposed of, such that no further questions can come before the court denied the same but it should have added as the more important reason that the
except the execution of the order. The term "final" judgment or order signifies a matter of his attorney's fees was already final and could no longer be opened and
judgment or an order which disposes of the cause as to all the parties, reserving no litigated upon.
further questions or directions for future determination. The order or judgment may
validly refer to the entire controversy or to some definite and separate branch The reason is that the matter of attorney's fees of Atty. Escaño was already covered
thereof. "In the absence of a statutory definition, a final judgment, order or decree by a final judgment and can no longer be questioned. The issue on the matter is
has been held to be x x x one that finally disposes of, adjudicates, or determines the now res judicata. It must be recalled that the RTC in its Order dated June 13,
rights, or some right or rights of the parties, either on the entire controversy or on 2001,[20] reduced Atty. Escaño's attorney's fees from thirty percent (30%) to fifteen
some definite and separate branch thereof, and which concludes them until it is percent (15%) for being "too unconscionable." This decrease in the amount of
reversed or set aside." The central point to consider is, therefore, the effects of the attorney's fees was sustained by the CA on appeal in its July 31, 2002 Decision.[21] No
order on the rights of the parties. A court order, on the other hand, is merely appeal was taken from the decision of the CA. Thus, the decision of the CA on the
interlocutory in character if it is provisional and leaves substantial proceeding to be matter of attorney's fees constituted res judicata.
had in connection with its subject. The word "interlocutory" refers to "something
It is a fundamental legal principle that a decision that has acquired finality becomes
immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect, even if certainly not proper. To delay the payment of just compensation is virtually
the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law, and tantamount to a deprivation of one's property rights.
whether it be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land.
The only exceptions to the general rule on finality of judgments are the so-called nunc Considering the attendant circumstances, Atty. Escaño cannot validly invoke the
pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, void judgments, and ruling in Go v. Go.[25] In that case, the Court sustained the escrow order issued by the
whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision which render its trial court to deposit the monthly rentals of the property subject therein pending the
execution unjust and inequitable.[22]None of these exceptions is obtaining in the resolution of the main action for partition or until the question of co-ownership is
present case. finally determined. In upholding the propriety of such order, the Court held that the
rental deposit was the most prudent way to preserve the rights of the contending
Litigation must at some time end, even at the risk of occasional errors. Public policy parties pending the final determination of who was lawfully entitled thereto.
dictates that once a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable, the
prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge In this case, however, the rights of the petitioner were already finally determined in
devised by the losing party. Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment sets the main case for eminent domain. Verily, the recipient of the judgment proceeds
at naught the role and purpose of the courts to resolve justiciable controversies with had already been ascertained, THDC, the judgment-obligee, who has yet to receive
finality.[23] the just compensation for the property wrested from it by the government in the
exercise of its power of eminent domain. It was, therefore, manifestly unnecessary
The CA could have just dismissed the matter of additional attorney's fees outright on and highly irregular for the CA to order the escrow of the entire amount.
the ground of res judicata. Instead of doing so, however, it provided a semblance of
propriety to it when it gave due course to Atty. Escaño's appeal. The fact that Atty. Moreover, THDC's personality as a corporation was only belatedly questioned by
Escaño had complied with all the requirements of appeal under Rule 41 of the Atty. Escaño after his failure to receive more than the 15% attorney's fees as ruled by
Revised Rules of Court is irrelevant considering that an appeal from the final and the RTC. Records disclose that Atty. Escaño has already been awarded his attorney's
immutable judgment of the RTC is not proper. The appeal should have been fees, in accordance with the MOA he signed with THDC, which were supposed to be
dismissed on the ground that the order appealed from is not appealable (Section 1(i) contingent on his client receiving its award. Atty. Escaño is now estopped to question
Rule 50). An appeal which requires the elevation of the entire records of the case the personality of his client. As properly argued by THDC, the CA cannot pass upon
entails a long process which would cause unnecessary delay. This, in effect, would the issue of the legality of THDC as a corporation, which is not within its exclusive and
negate an expeditious disposition of the case at bench. original jurisdiction. Such authority belongs to the SEC, which is the agency vested
with absolute jurisdiction, supervision and control over corporations as provided for
The CA compounded the problem when it ordered the entire proceeds of the in Presidential Decree No. 902-A. Furthermore, there is no pending case yet in any
judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-0, not subject to existing liens, to be held in an escrow court of competent jurisdiction questioning THDC's juridical personality. Yet, the CA
account at the local branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines. The order of the CA hastily issued the escrow order even when the sole pending issue in the dismissed
was anchored on the argument that the identity of the person(s) duly authorized to notice of appeal was Atty. Escaño's attorney's liens. This compelling circumstance
receive the proceeds of the judgment would still be resolved in the appeal. warrants a reversal of the CA decision. THDC should not be prevented from receiving
its judgment-award.
Indeed, this Court recognizes the inherent power of the courts to control its
processes and orders and to employ all auxiliary writs, processes and other means To recapitulate, Atty. Escaño is not entitled to the escrow of the entire proceeds of
necessary to carry its jurisdiction into effect, as embodied in the Rules of Court. An the case. Neither is he entitled to the escrow of additional claim for attorney's fees
order directing the proceeds of the judgment to be deposited in escrow may be one of 15% for his personal services after the dissolution of their law firm and 33.7% in
of these auxiliary writs and processes. So, also, the act of placing property in litigation favor of his consultant, Atty. Lino Dumas and Partners. Atty. Escaño has already
under judicial possession, whether in the hands of a receiver, an administrator, or as collected his fees through his former law firm and is now enjoying the fruits of his
in this case, in a government bank, is an ancient and accepted procedure.[24] labor, the uncertainty of the release of his client's award notwithstanding. He,
therefore, has no more right to prevent the release of the judgment award in favor
Under the prevailing circumstances, however, the order to hold in escrow the entire of THDC.
judgment award, including the portion that should have been the just compensation
of THDC as owner of the parcels of land subject of the eminent domain case, was In fine, this Court holds that THDC, being the rightful claimant, is entitled to the
proceeds of the judgment not subject to existing liens. To uphold the escrow of the Eventually, in the RTC Order[3] dated November 27, 2000, THDC was awarded just
full judgment award would ultimately result in patent injustice and prejudice to compensation in the amount of ?33,242,700.00 with legal interest at the rate of 6%
THDC, which, to this date, has yet to be compensated for the taking of its per annum from the date of the filing of the complaint on June 10, 1996.
property. This Court is not only a court of law, but also a court of justice. [26]
Meanwhile, Atty. Escaño sought the entry of his attorney's liens on the basis of the
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The August 12, 2009 Decision and the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) dated February 24, 1997, contracted between
December 10, 2009 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET him and THDC, stipulating the 30% professional or attorney's fees. The RTC, in its
ASIDE. Accordingly, the RTC is ordered to allow the immediate release to the Order[4] dated June 13, 2001, declared the claim of 30% attorney's fees on the
petitioner the total amount due in Civil Case No. 3392-0 not subject to existing liens. judgment as unconscionable. The amount of attorney's fees was then fixed at 15%
of the judgment award in the name of the partners. On appeal, this reduction of
The Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Court on October 6, 2010 is attorney's fees was affirmed by the CA in its Decision [5] dated July 31, 2002.
ordered LIFTED.
Upon dismissal of PNOC's appeal in the main case in the CA, Atty. Escaño,
SO ORDERED. representing THDC, moved for the execution of the RTC decision. The RTC then
ordered the issuance of a writ of execution in its Order [6] dated March 11, 2005.
5. Dela Llano v. Biong
Subsequently, Atty. Escaño filed an Urgent Manifestation with Motion [7]alleging that
672 Phil. 747 THDC had lost its juridical personality as a corporation due to the revocation of its
certificate of registration. He prayed that the enforcement of the said writ of
execution be held in abeyance until the termination of the NBI's investigation relative
MENDOZA, J.: to the allegations that the RTC Decision of November 27, 2000 and the dismissal of
the appeal were secured through fraud. THDC later furnished the RTC with a copy of
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court a certification from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the
filed by Tongonan Holdings and Development Corporation (THDC) assailing, on corporation had not been dissolved. As a result, THDC terminated the services of Atty.
questions of law, the August 12, 2009 Decision[1] of the 19thDivision of the Court of Escaño on the ground of loss of confidence, which was approved by the RTC.
Appeals, Cebu City (CA), in CA-G.R. SP No. 03935, entitled "Atty. Francisco Escaño, Jr. Afterward, Atty. Esca?ño filed a "Motion to Enter Into the Records Attorney's
v. Hon. Apolinario Buaya, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Lien"[8] for additional attorney's fees of 15% for his professional services, rendered
Branch 35, Ormoc City and Tongonan Holdings & Development Corporation, after the dissolution of their law firm, from July 1, 1999 to April 29, 2005. He also
represented by its president, Mr. Antonio Diano," and its December 10, 2009 asked for another 33.7% as additional attorney's fees for Atty. Lino Dumas and
Resolution denying the motion for the reconsideration thereof. partners, whom he claimed to be his consultants when the case was on appeal. These
amounts were on top of the 15% already finally awarded. In all, he was demanding
The Facts a total of 63.7% of the judgment award.

This controversy between petitioner THDC and its erstwhile counsel, respondent The RTC, in its September 26, 2005 Order,[9] denied the motion and approved only
Atty. Francisco Escaño, Jr. (Atty. Escaño) arose from a case for eminent domain, the 15% Attorney's Lien on the money judgment in favor of Atty. Escaño and his
docketed as Civil Case No. 3392-0 entitled "Philippine National Oil Company v. Sps. former partners. It held that Atty. Escaño was not entitled to an additional
Dominador and Minerva Samson" before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 35, Ormoc compensation on the ground that when he took over the case from their law firm
City (RTC). THDC was named as Defendant-Intervenor in the said case, as it had there was no separate contract for his legal services. The said case became his case
purchased the subject parcels of land from the defendant spouses (Spouses after the partners divided all of the firm's cases among themselves; thus, the
Samson) and was represented by Atty. Escaño of the Escaño Montehermoso Oliver continuation of his services was still covered by the MOA previously entered between
and Trias Law Office from February 24, 1997 to June 30, 1999. After the dissolution him and THDC. After his motion for reconsideration was denied on January 26, 2006,
of the law firm, Atty. Escaño continued to represent THDC from July 1, 1999 until his Atty. Escaño filed a Notice of Appeal.
services was terminated by THDC in April 2005.[2]
On April 2, 2007, the RTC gave due course to the Notice of Appeal. The pertinent
portion of the order states: is DIRECTED to transmit the records of Civil Case No. 3392-0 to this Court for review
on appeal of the Orders dated September 26, 2005 and January 26, 2006 regarding
the issue of petitioner's attorney's fees.
Nevertheless, in order to afford Atty. Escaño of all avenues available to him in
pursuing his claim for attorney's liens, despite the fact that the main case has long Further, public respondent is directed to put in escrow account at the local branch of
become final and executory, his appeal is given due course. Despite the granting of the Land Bank of the Philippines the proceeds of the judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-
the appeal, the execution will still proceed but the money recovered will be held in 0 not subject to existing liens, until the issues as to petitioner's attorney's fees on the
escrow until the final determination of the attorney's fees. basis [of] quantum meruit is finally resolved and until the identity of the person or
persons duly authorized to receive the proceeds of the judgment in Civil Case 3392-
Let the records of this case be forwarded to the Court of Appeals. 0 are clearly established on appeal.

SO ORDERED.[10] SO ORDERED.[12]

THDC then filed its Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Dismiss Appealarguing THDC filed a motion for reconsideration of the above decision but the CA denied the
that the Notice of Appeal was not the proper remedy as the order being questioned same in its Resolution[13] dated December 10, 2009. Hence, on February 19, 2010,
was interlocutory which could not be the subject of an appeal. It also questioned the THDC interposed the present petition before this Court anchored on the following
order to hold the proceeds of the execution in escrow without any motion from the
parties.
GROUNDS
On June 25, 2007, the RTC issued a Resolution[11] granting THDC's motion and setting
aside the April 2, 2007 Order. It reasoned out that the issue of attorney's fees was
indeed interlocutory considering that it was only incidental to the principal action (1)
and that the claim for attorney's fees could be properly raised in another forum so as
not to prejudice the main case. Atty. Escaño moved for a reconsideration of the said THE CA ERRONEOUSLY BASED ITS DECISION ON THE PRESUMPTION THAT THE
resolution but it was denied in an Order dated November 19, 2008. APPEAL OF ATTY. ESCAÑO WAS PROPERLY LODGED

Aggrieved, Atty. Escaño filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 with the CA
assailing both the June 25, 2007 Resolution and November 19, 2008 Order of the (2)
RTC. His petition included a prayer to put in escrow all the proceeds of the money
judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-0. THE CA MISINTERPRETED AND MISAPPLIED THE MEANING OF "INTERLOCUTORY
ORDER"
On August 12, 2009, the CA ruled that the RTC acted with grave abuse of discretion
in denying the appeal. The CA concluded that giving due course to Atty. Escaño's
Notice of Appeal and putting in escrow the money judgment was proper and (3)
appropriate as there was still a need to determine the issue of attorney's fees. The
dispositive portion of the assailed CA Decision reads: AN INTERLOCUTORY ORDER CANNOT BE APPEALED

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The orders of respondent court dated June (4)
25, 2007 and November 19, 2008, denying petitioner's Notice of Appeal is SET
ASIDE. The Order of the public respondent dated April 2, 2007 is REVIVED and THE CA ERRONEOUSLY RULED ON AN ISSUE THAT IT DID NOT RECOGNIZE
is DECLARED immediately EXECUTORY.

Accordingly, petitioner's Notice of Appeal is given due course and respondent court (5)
presented by the litigants or any of them. The resolution of the issue must rest solely
THE CA ERRONEOUSLY RULED ON A CAUSE OF ACTION THAT IS NOT WITHIN ITS on what the law provides on the given set of circumstances. Once it is clear that the
ORIGINAL AND EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION issue invites a review of the evidence presented, the question posed is one of fact.
Thus, the test of whether a question is one of law or of fact is not the appellation
given to such question by the party raising the same; rather, it is whether the
(6) appellate court can determine the issue raised without reviewing or evaluating the
evidence, in which case, it is a question of law; otherwise it is a question of fact. [16]
THE CA ERRONEOUSLY RULED THAT THE ORDER OF THE RTC OF APRIL 2, 2007 WAS
REVIVED AND FURTHER DECLARED IT TO BE IMMEDIATELY EXECUTORY A perusal of the present petition shows that the issues raised by THDC are questions
of law, as the same can be resolved solely on what the law provides under the
undisputed facts. The issues are the correct appreciation of Atty. Escaño's appeal,
(7) the exact meaning, interpretation and application of "interlocutory order;" the rule
that an interlocutory order cannot be appealed; the legality of the CA decision on the
DEPRIVATION OF THE PETITIONER'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS.[14] issue of escrow; whether the CA can make a determination of an issue that it did not
recognize; the legality of the CA decision on the issue of attorney's fees when there
It appears from the records that on September 6, 2010, the judgment in Civil Case is no pending case yet on the matter; the CA's declaration in the questioned decision
No. 3392-0 was duly satisfied with the full payment by PNOC of the judgment that the RTC Order dated April 2, 2007 is revived and immediately executory; and the
obligation. On September 22, 2010, Atty. Escaño filed before this Court an Urgent question of denial of due process. All of these, indeed, are questions of law. Thus,
Manifestation alleging certain irregular acts of the RTC pertaining to the money Atty. Escaño's argument that the grounds thereof are factual is misleading.
judgment deposited in its fiduciary fund.
On the issue of whether the RTC's order of denial of the motion for entry for
Likewise, he filed a Supplemental Manifestation with Urgent Motion for Issuance of additional attorney's fees was interlocutory or final, THDC contends that it was
a Cease and Desist Order dated October 4, 2010 stating that an Order dated October merely interlocutory because the issue was only collateral to the main issue of
1, 2010 was issued by the RTC directing the release to THDC of ?45,454,683.68 out of eminent domain. It submits that the main action of eminent domain could exist
the ?53,476,098.45 proceeds of the judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-0 which was independently without the issue of attorney's fees. The RTC decision of November
ordered to be put in escrow account. Acting on the said manifestations, this Court, 27, 2000 did not even mention the award of attorney's fees. According to THDC, the
in a Resolution dated October 6, 2010, issued a Temporary Restraining Order matter of attorney's fees arose only when Atty. Escaño requested that his attorney's
enjoining THDC and the RTC from implementing and enforcing the Order of October liens be entered into the records of the case. Thus, it insists that the orders relative
1, 2010. to the issue of attorney's fees being interlocutory, the same cannot be the subject of
appeal in accordance with the provision of Section 1(c), Rule 41 of the Revised Rules
On the main issue, the Court finds the petition impressed with merit. of Court.

At the outset, Atty. Escaño alleges that the petition failed to comply with Rule 45 as Atty. Escaño, on the other hand, counters that the Orders of September 26, 2005 and
it did not distinctly set forth the questions of law THDC raised before this Court, and January 26, 2006 are not interlocutory, but final orders and, therefore, appealable,
that the seven (7) grounds raised by THDC involved questions of facts, rather than of as correctly ruled by the CA. He reasons that both orders finally disposed the issue
law, which are not proper in a petition for review under Rule 45. He likewise alleges of his attorney's fees before the RTC and there was nothing more to be done
that the petition did not include clearly legible duplicate original or certified true pertaining to the same matter.
copies of the material documents of CA-GR SP No. 03935.
An order or judgment of the RTC is deemed final when it finally disposes of a pending
In Republic of the Philippines v. Malabanan,[15] this Court distinguished a question of action, so that nothing more can be done with it in the trial court. In other words, the
law from a question of fact. A question of law arises when there is doubt as to what order or judgment ends the litigation in the lower court. On the other hand, an order
the law is on a certain state of facts, while there is a question of fact when the doubt which does not dispose of the case completely and indicates that other things remain
arises as to the truth or falsity of the alleged facts. For a question to be one of law, to be done by the court as regards the merits, is interlocutory.[17]
the same must not involve an examination of the probative value of the evidence
In Santos v. People of the Philippines, this Court laid down the test in finding whether Moreover, as correctly noted by the CA, the RTC ended with finality the issue of Atty.
an order is interlocutory or final, thus: Escaño's attorney's fees when it rendered the aforementioned orders, having ruled
that he was not entitled to it. The RTC need not resolve anything else thereby making
the said orders final.
The test to determine whether an order or judgment is interlocutory or final is this:
"Does it leave something to be done in the trial court with respect to the merits of Nevertheless, both the RTC and CA were wrong when they entertained the motion
the case? If it does, it is interlocutory; if it does not, it is final". A court order is final of Atty. Escaño for additional attorney's fees. Indeed, the RTC was correct when it
in character if it puts an end to the particular matter resolved or settles definitely the denied the same but it should have added as the more important reason that the
matter therein disposed of, such that no further questions can come before the court matter of his attorney's fees was already final and could no longer be opened and
except the execution of the order. The term "final" judgment or order signifies a litigated upon.
judgment or an order which disposes of the cause as to all the parties, reserving no
further questions or directions for future determination. The order or judgment may The reason is that the matter of attorney's fees of Atty. Escaño was already covered
validly refer to the entire controversy or to some definite and separate branch by a final judgment and can no longer be questioned. The issue on the matter is
thereof. "In the absence of a statutory definition, a final judgment, order or decree now res judicata. It must be recalled that the RTC in its Order dated June 13,
has been held to be x x x one that finally disposes of, adjudicates, or determines the 2001,[20] reduced Atty. Escaño's attorney's fees from thirty percent (30%) to fifteen
rights, or some right or rights of the parties, either on the entire controversy or on percent (15%) for being "too unconscionable." This decrease in the amount of
some definite and separate branch thereof, and which concludes them until it is attorney's fees was sustained by the CA on appeal in its July 31, 2002 Decision.[21] No
reversed or set aside." The central point to consider is, therefore, the effects of the appeal was taken from the decision of the CA. Thus, the decision of the CA on the
order on the rights of the parties. A court order, on the other hand, is merely matter of attorney's fees constituted res judicata.
interlocutory in character if it is provisional and leaves substantial proceeding to be
had in connection with its subject. The word "interlocutory" refers to "something It is a fundamental legal principle that a decision that has acquired finality becomes
intervening between the commencement and the end of a suit which decides some immutable and unalterable, and may no longer be modified in any respect, even if
point or matter but is not a final decision of the whole controversy."[18] the modification is meant to correct erroneous conclusions of fact and law, and
whether it be made by the court that rendered it or by the highest court of the land.
In Planters Products, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[19] the Court ruled that the order of the The only exceptions to the general rule on finality of judgments are the so-called nunc
respondent trial court awarding attorney's fees in favor of a claimant-lawyer is a final pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party, void judgments, and
order and not interlocutory. In the said case, petitioner entered into an agreement whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision which render its
for an Omnibus Credit Line with private respondent bank. The latter engaged the execution unjust and inequitable.[22]None of these exceptions is obtaining in the
services of private respondent counsel in filing a suit against the petitioner to enforce present case.
the latter's obligation under the agreement. As attorney's fees, respondent bank
assigned to respondent lawyer the right to collect fees due and collectible from the Litigation must at some time end, even at the risk of occasional errors. Public policy
petitioner under the trust receipts. Respondent bank was able to realize from the dictates that once a judgment becomes final, executory and unappealable, the
sale of the attached merchandise covered by the trust receipt agreement. In as much prevailing party should not be denied the fruits of his victory by some subterfuge
as respondent lawyer had not yet been paid his attorney's fees, he filed a claim for devised by the losing party. Unjustified delay in the enforcement of a judgment sets
attorney's fees which was granted by the trial court. at naught the role and purpose of the courts to resolve justiciable controversies with
finality.[23]
On the basis of the aforecited distinction and applying the foregoing test, this Court
is of the view that the RTC orders of September 26, 2005 and January 26, 2006 The CA could have just dismissed the matter of additional attorney's fees outright on
denying the claim for additional attorney's fees were final considering that the main the ground of res judicata. Instead of doing so, however, it provided a semblance of
action, which was Civil Case No. 3392-0 for eminent domain, was already final. In propriety to it when it gave due course to Atty. Escaño's appeal. The fact that Atty.
fact, it was the subject of several motions for execution. Thus, the RTC had nothing Escaño had complied with all the requirements of appeal under Rule 41 of the
more to do with respect to the relative rights of the parties therein. There is nothing Revised Rules of Court is irrelevant considering that an appeal from the final and
left for the judge to perform except to enforce the judgment. immutable judgment of the RTC is not proper. The appeal should have been
dismissed on the ground that the order appealed from is not appealable (Section 1(i)
Rule 50). An appeal which requires the elevation of the entire records of the case the personality of his client. As properly argued by THDC, the CA cannot pass upon
entails a long process which would cause unnecessary delay. This, in effect, would the issue of the legality of THDC as a corporation, which is not within its exclusive and
negate an expeditious disposition of the case at bench. original jurisdiction. Such authority belongs to the SEC, which is the agency vested
with absolute jurisdiction, supervision and control over corporations as provided for
The CA compounded the problem when it ordered the entire proceeds of the in Presidential Decree No. 902-A. Furthermore, there is no pending case yet in any
judgment in Civil Case No. 3392-0, not subject to existing liens, to be held in an escrow court of competent jurisdiction questioning THDC's juridical personality. Yet, the CA
account at the local branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines. The order of the CA hastily issued the escrow order even when the sole pending issue in the dismissed
was anchored on the argument that the identity of the person(s) duly authorized to notice of appeal was Atty. Escaño's attorney's liens. This compelling circumstance
receive the proceeds of the judgment would still be resolved in the appeal. warrants a reversal of the CA decision. THDC should not be prevented from receiving
its judgment-award.
Indeed, this Court recognizes the inherent power of the courts to control its
processes and orders and to employ all auxiliary writs, processes and other means To recapitulate, Atty. Escaño is not entitled to the escrow of the entire proceeds of
necessary to carry its jurisdiction into effect, as embodied in the Rules of Court. An the case. Neither is he entitled to the escrow of additional claim for attorney's fees
order directing the proceeds of the judgment to be deposited in escrow may be one of 15% for his personal services after the dissolution of their law firm and 33.7% in
of these auxiliary writs and processes. So, also, the act of placing property in litigation favor of his consultant, Atty. Lino Dumas and Partners. Atty. Escaño has already
under judicial possession, whether in the hands of a receiver, an administrator, or as collected his fees through his former law firm and is now enjoying the fruits of his
in this case, in a government bank, is an ancient and accepted procedure.[24] labor, the uncertainty of the release of his client's award notwithstanding. He,
therefore, has no more right to prevent the release of the judgment award in favor
Under the prevailing circumstances, however, the order to hold in escrow the entire of THDC.
judgment award, including the portion that should have been the just compensation
of THDC as owner of the parcels of land subject of the eminent domain case, was In fine, this Court holds that THDC, being the rightful claimant, is entitled to the
certainly not proper. To delay the payment of just compensation is virtually proceeds of the judgment not subject to existing liens. To uphold the escrow of the
tantamount to a deprivation of one's property rights. full judgment award would ultimately result in patent injustice and prejudice to
THDC, which, to this date, has yet to be compensated for the taking of its
Considering the attendant circumstances, Atty. Escaño cannot validly invoke the property. This Court is not only a court of law, but also a court of justice. [26]
ruling in Go v. Go.[25] In that case, the Court sustained the escrow order issued by the
trial court to deposit the monthly rentals of the property subject therein pending the WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The August 12, 2009 Decision and the
resolution of the main action for partition or until the question of co-ownership is December 10, 2009 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET
finally determined. In upholding the propriety of such order, the Court held that the ASIDE. Accordingly, the RTC is ordered to allow the immediate release to the
rental deposit was the most prudent way to preserve the rights of the contending petitioner the total amount due in Civil Case No. 3392-0 not subject to existing liens.
parties pending the final determination of who was lawfully entitled thereto.
The Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Court on October 6, 2010 is
In this case, however, the rights of the petitioner were already finally determined in ordered LIFTED.
the main case for eminent domain. Verily, the recipient of the judgment proceeds
had already been ascertained, THDC, the judgment-obligee, who has yet to receive SO ORDERED.
the just compensation for the property wrested from it by the government in the
exercise of its power of eminent domain. It was, therefore, manifestly unnecessary 6. Po Wang Pai v. People
and highly irregular for the CA to order the escrow of the entire amount.

Moreover, THDC's personality as a corporation was only belatedly questioned by HO WAI PANG, G.R. No. 176229
Atty. Escaño after his failure to receive more than the 15% attorney's fees as ruled by Petitioner,
the RTC. Records disclose that Atty. Escaño has already been awarded his attorney's
fees, in accordance with the MOA he signed with THDC, which were supposed to be
contingent on his client receiving its award. Atty. Escaño is now estopped to question
Present:

Factual Antecedents
CORONA, C.J., Chairperson,
- versus - LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BERSAMIN, On September 6, 1991, at around 11:30 in the evening, United Arab Emirates Airlines Flight
DEL CASTILLO, and No. 068 from Hongkong arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Among the
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.
passengers were 13 Hongkong nationals who came to the Philippines as tourists. At the arrival
area, the group leader Wong Kwok Wah (Sonny Wong) presented a Baggage Declaration Form
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Promulgated:
to Customs Examiner Gilda L. Cinco (Cinco), who was then manning Lane 8 of the Express
Respondent. October 19, 2011
Lane. Cinco examined the baggages of each of the 13 passengers as their turn came up. From
x-------------------------------------------------------------------x the first traveling bag, she saw few personal belongings such as used clothing, shoes and
chocolate boxes which she pressed. When the second bag was examined, she noticed

DECISION chocolate boxes which were almost of the same size as those in the first bag. Becoming
suspicious, she took out four of the chocolate boxes and opened one of them. Instead of
chocolates, what she saw inside was white crystalline substance contained in a white
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
transparent plastic. Cinco thus immediately called the attention of her immediate superiors

Infraction of the rights of an accused during custodial investigation or the so-called Duty Collector Alalo and Customs Appraiser Nora Sancho who advised her to call the Narcotics
Command (NARCOM) and the police. Thereupon, she guided the tourists to the Intensive
Miranda Rights render inadmissible only the extrajudicial confession or admission made
Counting Unit (ICU) while bringing with her the four chocolate boxes earlier discovered.
during such investigation.[1] The admissibility of other evidence, provided they are relevant to
the issue and is not otherwise excluded by law or rules, is not affected even if obtained or taken
At the ICU, Cinco called the tourists one after the other using the passenger manifest
in the course of custodial investigation.[2]
and further examined their bags. The bag of Law Ka Wang was first found to contain three
chocolate boxes. Next was petitioners bag which contains nothing except for personal effects.
Petitioner Ho Wai Pang (petitioner) in this present recourse assails the June 16, 2006 Cinco, however, recalled that two of the chocolate boxes earlier discovered at the express lane
[3]
Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01459 affirming the April 6, 1995 belong to him. Wu Hing Sums bag followed and same yielded three chocolate boxes while the
Decision[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 118 of Pasay City in Criminal Case No. 91- baggages of Ho Kin San, Chan Chit Yue and Tin San Mao each contained two or three similar
[5]
1592, finding him and his co-accused, namely, Law Ka Wang, Chan Chit Yue, Wu Hing Sum, chocolate boxes. All in all, 18 chocolate boxes were recovered from the baggages of the six
Tin San Mao[6] and Kin San Ho[7] guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 15, accused.
[8]
Article III of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425 otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of
1972. Also assailed is the January 16, 2007 CA Resolution[9] denying the motion for NARCOM Agent Neowillie de Castro corroborated the relevant testimony of Cinco pertaining
reconsideration thereto. to the presence of the chocolate boxes. According to him, he conducted a test on the white
crystalline substance contained in said chocolate boxes at the NAIA using the Mandelline Re- transportation of illegal substance (shabu) taken from their traveling bags which were
Agent Test.[10] The result of his examination[11] of the white crystalline substance yielded provided by the travel agency.
positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. Thereafter, the chocolate boxes were
bundled together with tape, placed inside a plastic bag and brought to the Inbond Section. Ruling of the Regional Trial Court

The following day, September 7, 1991, the 13 tourists were brought to the National Bureau of On April 6, 1995, the RTC rendered a Decision[18] finding all the accused guilty of violating
Investigation (NBI) for further questioning. The confiscated stuff were turned over to the Section 15, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, the decretal portion of which reads:
Forensic Chemist who weighed and examined them. Findings show that its total weight is
WHEREFORE, all the foregoing considered, the Court finds the
31.1126 kilograms and that the representative samples were positive for methamphetamine
accused LAW KA WANG, CHAN CHIT YUE, HO WAI PANG, WU HING SUM,
hydrochloride.[12] Out of the 13 tourists, the NBI found evidence for violation of R.A. No. 6425 TIN SUN MAO, AND KIN SAN HO (HO KIN SAN) GUILTY of Conspiracy in
violating Section 15, Article III, Republic Act No. 6425, as amended for
only as against petitioner and his five co-accused.
having conspired to transport into the Philippines 31.112 kilograms of
methamp[h]etamine hydrochloride, locally known as Shabu, and they are
Accordingly, six separate Informations all dated September 19, 1991 were filed against hereby sentenced to suffer the PENALTY OF IMPRISONMENT OF SIX (6)
[sic] RECLUSION PERPETUA AND TO PAY EACH (SIC) THE AMOUNT OF
petitioner and his co-accused. These Informations were docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 91- THIRTY (30) THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00) each as FINE, the penalty of
1591 to 97. Subsequently, however, petitioner filed a Motion for Reinvestigation[13] which the reclusion perpetua is being imposed pursuant to Republic Act No. 7659
considering its applicability to the accused though retroactively for having
trial court granted. The reinvestigation conducted gave way to a finding of conspiracy among a less stricter penalty than that of life imprisonment provided in Republic
the accused and this resulted to the filing of a single Amended Information[14] under Criminal Act No. 6425. The fine of P30,000.00 for each accused is imposed pursuant
to R.A. No. 6425 it being more favorable to the accused [than] that
Case No. 91-1592 and to the withdrawal of the other Informations.[15] The Amended provided in R.A. No. 7659 WITH IMMEDIATE DEPORTATION AFTER
Information reads: SERVICE OF SENTENCE. The penalty of death cannot be imposed since the
offense was committed prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 7659.

That on or about September 6, 1991 in Pasay City, Philippines and within Let an alias warrant of arrest be issued against accused WONG
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, KOK WAH @ SONNY WONG, CHAN TAK PIU, HO WAI LING AND
conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, did, then and INOCENCIA CHENG.
there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously carry and transport into the
country without lawful authority, 31.112 kilograms, more or less, SO ORDERED.[19]
of METHAMPHETAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE, also popularly known as
SHABU, a regulated drug.

CONTRARY TO LAW.[16] From this judgment, all the accused appealed to this Court where the case records
were forwarded to per Order of the RTC dated May 10, 1995.[20] Later, all the accused except
for petitioner, filed on separate dates their respective withdrawal of appeal.[21] This Court, after
After pleading not guilty to the crime charged,[17] all the accused testified almost identically,
being satisfied that the withdrawing appellants were fully aware of the consequences of their
invoking denial as their defense. They claimed that they have no knowledge about the
action, granted the withdrawal of their respective appeals through a Resolution dated June
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THAT
18, 1997.[22] Per Entry of Judgment, [23] said Resolution became final and executory on July 7,
PETITIONER WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO
1997.Consequently, petitioner was the only one left to pursue his appeal. CONFRONT THE WITNESSES AGAINST HIM.

Petitioner filed his Brief[24] on April 6, 1998 while the brief[25] for the respondent People of
the Philippines was filed on August 27, 1998 through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). III
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE
Per Resolution[26] dated August 30, 2004, this Court referred the appeal to the CA for proper PROSECUTIONS EVIDENCE FAILED TO ESTABLISH THE EXISTENCE OF A
disposition and determination pursuant to this Courts ruling in People v. Mateo.[27] CONSPIRACY.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals IV


THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE
PROSECUTION FAILED TO PRESENT PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT
On June 16, 2006, the CA denied the appeal and affirmed the Decision of the RTC. While AS TO OVERTURN THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE ACCORDED TO
conceding that petitioners constitutional right to counsel during the custodial investigation PETITIONER BY THE CONSTITUTION.[30]

was indeed violated, it nevertheless went on to hold that there were other evidence sufficient
to warrant his conviction. The CA also rebuked petitioners claim that he was deprived of his
OUR RULING
constitutional and statutory right to confront the witnesses against him. The CA gave credence
to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and quoted with favor the trial courts
ratiocination regarding the existence of conspiracy among the accused. The petition lacks merit.

Section 12, Article III of the


Undeterred, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration[28] which the CA denied in its Constitution prohibits as evidence
Resolution[29] dated January 16, 2007. only confessions and admissions of
the accused as against himself.

Hence, this petition for review on certiorari anchored on the following grounds:
Anent the error first assigned, petitioner takes issue on the fact that he was not assisted by a
I
competent and independent lawyer during the custodial investigation. He claimed that he was
WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING THAT PETITIONER WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS
CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY RIGHTS UNDER CUSTODIAL not duly informed of his rights to remain silent and to have competent counsel of his
INVESTIGATION BOTH BY THE CUSTOMS OFFICIALS AND BY THE NBI
choice. Hence, petitioner faults the CA in not excluding evidence taken during such
INVESTIGATORS, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT
EXCLUDING EVIDENCE TAKEN DURING THE CUSTODIAL INVESTIGATION. investigation.

II
While there is no dispute that petitioner was subjected to all the rituals of a custodial
questioning by the customs authorities and the NBI in violation of his constitutional right under
Section 12[31] of Article III of the Constitution, we must not, however, lose sight of the fact that the trial court also gave credence to the sole testimony of the customs examiner whom it
what said constitutional provision prohibits as evidence are only confessions and admissions presumed to have performed his duties in regular manner. However, in reversing the
[32]
of the accused as against himself. Thus, in Aquino v. Paiste, the Court categorically ruled that judgment of conviction, the Court noted that said examiners testimony was not corroborated
the infractions of the so-called Miranda rights render inadmissible only the extrajudicial by other prosecution witnesses.
confession or admission made during custodial investigation. The admissibility of other
evidence, provided they are relevant to the issue and [are] not otherwise excluded by law or On the other hand, petitioners conviction in the present case was on the strength of
rules, [are] not affected even if obtained or taken in the course of custodial investigation. his having been caught in flagrante delicto transporting shabu into the country and not on the
basis of any confession or admission.Moreover, the testimony of Cinco was found to be direct,
In the case at bench, petitioner did not make any confession or admission during his custodial positive and credible by the trial court, hence it need not be corroborated. Cinco witnessed
investigation. The prosecution did not present any extrajudicial confession extracted from him the entire incident thus providing direct evidence as eyewitness to the very act of the
as evidence of his guilt. Moreover, no statement was taken from petitioner during his commission of the crime. As the Court held in People v Dela Cruz,[35] [n]o rule exists which
detention and subsequently used in evidence against him. Verily, in determining the guilt of requires a testimony to be corroborated to be adjudged credible. x x x Thus, it is not at all
the petitioner and his co-accused, the trial court based its Decision on the testimonies of the uncommon to reach a conclusion of guilt on the basis of the testimony of a single witness
prosecution witnesses and on the existence of the confiscated shabu. As the Court held despite the lack of corroboration, where such testimony is found positive and credible by the
[33]
in People v. Buluran, [a]ny allegation of violation of rights during custodial investigation is trial court. In such a case, the lone testimony is sufficient to produce a conviction.
relevant and material only to cases in which an extrajudicial admission or confession extracted
from the accused becomes the basis of their conviction.Hence, petitioners claim that the trial Indeed, a ruling in one case cannot simply be bodily lifted and applied to another case when
court erred in not excluding evidence taken during the custodial investigation deserves scant there are stark differences between the two cases. Cases must be decided based on their own
consideration. unique facts and applicable law and jurisprudence.

Petitioner was not denied of his


Petitioner cannot take refuge in this Courts ruling in People v. Wong Chuen Ming[34] to
right to confrontation.
exculpate himself from the crime charged. Though there are semblance in the facts, the case
of Ming is not exactly on all fours with the present case. The disparity is clear from the Turning now to the second assigned error, petitioner invokes the pertinent provision of
evidence adduced upon which the trial courts in each case relied on in rendering their Section 14(2) of Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution providing for the right to
respective decisions. Apparently in Ming, the trial court, in convicting the accused, relied confrontation, viz:
heavily on the signatures which they affixed on the boxes of Alpen Cereals and on the plastic
Section 14. x x x
bags. The Court construed the accuseds act of affixing their signatures thereon as a tacit
admission of the crime charged. And, since the accused were not informed of their Miranda (2) In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent
rights when they affixed their signatures, the admission was declared inadmissible evidence until the contrary is proved, and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself
and counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
for having been obtained in violation of their constitutional rights. In ruling against the accused,
against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and public trial, to meet the know, in fairness, who his accusers are and must be given a chance to
witnesses face to face, and to have compulsory process to secure the cross-examine them on their charges. The chief purpose of the right of
attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence in his confrontation is to secure the opportunity for cross-examination, so that if
behalf. However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the opportunity for cross-examination has been secured, the function and
the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified and test of confrontation has also been accomplished, the confrontation being
his failure to appear is unjustifiable. merely the dramatic preliminary to cross-examination.

Petitioner asserts that he was deprived of his right to know and understand what the Under the circumstances obtaining, petitioners constitutional right to confront the witnesses
witnesses testified to.According to him, only a full understanding of what the witnesses would against him was not impaired.
testify to would enable an accused to comprehend the evidence being offered against him
Conspiracy among the accused
and to refute it by cross-examination or by his own countervailing evidence.
was duly established.

In refutation, the OSG countered that petitioner was given the opportunity to confront his
Respecting the third assigned error, we uphold the trial courts finding of conspiracy
accusers and/or the witnesses of the prosecution when his counsel cross-examined them. It is
which was quoted by the appellate court in its assailed Decision, and which we once again
petitioners call to hire an interpreter to understand the proceedings before him and if he could
herein reproduce with approval:
not do so, he should have manifested it before the court. At any rate, the OSG contends that
petitioner was nevertheless able to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses and that such
On the allegation of conspiracy, the Court finds [no] direct evidence to
examination suffices as compliance with petitioners right to confront the witnesses against conclude conspiracy. However, just like in other cases where conspiracy is
him. not usually established by direct evidence but by circumstantial evidence,
the Court finds that there are enough circumstantial evidence which if
taken together sufficiently prove conspiracy. First, it cannot be denied that
We agree with the OSG. the accused somehow have known each other prior to their [departure]
in Hong Kong for Manila. Although Law Ka Wang denied having known any
of the accused prior to the incident in NAIA, accused Ho Wai Pang
As borne out by the records, petitioner did not register any objection to the presentation of identified him as the one who assisted him in the supposed tour in the
Philippines to the extent of directly dealing with the travel agency and
the prosecutions evidence particularly on the testimony of Cinco despite the absence of an [that] Law Ka Wang was the one who received the personal things of Ho
interpreter. Moreover, it has not been shown that the lack of an interpreter greatly prejudiced Wai Pang allegedly to be place[d] in a bag provided for by the travel
agency. Accused Wu Hing Sum has been known to accused Ho Kin San for
him. Still and all, the important thing is that petitioner, through counsel, was able to fully cross- about two to three years as they used to work as cooks in a restaurant
examine Cinco and the other witnesses and test their credibility. The right to confrontation is in Hong Kong. Accused Ho Wai Ling, who is still at large, is know[n] to
accused Chan Chit Yue, Wu Hing Sum and Ho Kin San. These relationships
essentially a guarantee that a defendant may cross-examine the witnesses of the in a way can lead to the presumption that they have the capability to enter
prosecution. In People v. Libo-on,[36] the Court held: into a conspiracy. Second, all the illegal substances confiscated from the
six accused were contained in chocolate boxes of similar sizes and almost
the same weight all contained in their luggages. The Court agrees with the
The right to confrontation is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by finding of the trial prosecutor that under the given circumstances, the
the Constitution to the person facing criminal prosecution who should
offense charged [c]ould have been perpetrated only through an elaborate
chocolate boxes from petitioners bag when they were still at the counter.This sufficiently
and methodically planned conspiracy with all the accused assiduously
cooperating and mutually helping each other in order to ensure its explained why Cinco did not find any chocolate boxes from petitioners bag when they were at
success.[37]
the ICU.[43] To us, this slight clash in Cincos statements neither dilute her credibility nor the
veracity of her testimony.
We find no cogent reason to reverse such findings.
The trial courts words on this matter when it resolved petitioners Demurrer to Evidence in its
Conspiracy is [the] common design to commit a felony.[38] [C]onspiracy which Order[44] of February 16, 1993 is quite enlightening. Thus
determines criminal culpability need not entail a close personal association or at least an
In claiming that the evidences [sic] presented by the prosecution is
acquaintance between or among the participants to a crime.[39] It need not be shown that the
insufficient to command conviction, the Demurrer went on to say that the
parties actually came together and agreed in express terms to enter into and pursue a testimony of Hilda Cinco is either conjectural or hearsay and definitely
missed its mark in incriminating accused, Ho Wai Pang, because she even
common design.[40] The assent of the minds may be and, from the secrecy of the crime, usually
testified that she found nothing inside the hand-carried luggage of Ho Wai
inferred from proof of facts and circumstances which, taken together, indicate that they are Pang (pp. 48-49, TSN, June 3, 1992). But that was when investigation was
going on at the Intensive Counting Unit (ICU). However, the same Hilda
parts of some complete whole as we ruled in People v. Mateo, Jr.[41] Here, it can be deduced
Cinco later on testified that from the express lane in going to the ICU, after
from petitioner and his co-accuseds collective conduct, viewed in its totality, that there was a the discovery of shabu, she was already carrying with her four (4)
chocolate boxes, two of [which] taken from the bag of Tin Sun Mau and
common design, concerted action and concurrence of sentiments in bringing about the crime
the other two retrieved from the luggage of herein movant, Ho Wai Pang.
committed. Categorically, Cinco admitted it was the reason that at the ICU, Ho Wai
Pangs bag was already empty (pp. 53-54, TSN, June 3, 1992), but she
Petitioners guilt was proved nonetheless recognized the bag and could recall the owner thereof,
beyond reasonable doubt. pointing to Ho Wai Pang. Such testimony is not hearsay evidence. They are
facts from the personal perception of the witness and out of her personal
knowledge. Neither is it conjectural.[45]

Finally, petitioner asserts that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable
doubt. He makes capital on the contention that no chocolate boxes were found in his traveling Jurisprudence teaches that in assessing the credibility of a witness, his testimony must be
bag when it was examined at the ICU. He claimed that it was his co-accused Sonny Wong who considered in its entirety instead of in truncated parts. The technique in deciphering a
took charge in ascribing upon him the possession of the two chocolate boxes. testimony is not to consider only its isolated parts and anchor a conclusion on the basis of said
parts. In ascertaining the facts established by a witness, everything stated by him on direct,
Petitioners contentions fail to persuade. cross and redirect examinations must be calibrated and considered.[46] Also, where there is
nothing in the records which would show a motive or reason on the part of the witnesses to
True, when principal prosecution witness Cinco first testified on June 3, 1992, she declared falsely implicate the accused, identification should be given full weight. Here, petitioner
that she did not see any chocolate boxes but only personal effects in petitioners presented no evidence or anything to indicate that the principal witness for the prosecution,
[42]
bag. Nonetheless, she clarified in her succeeding testimony that she recalls taking the two
Cinco, was moved by any improper motive, hence her testimony is entitled to full faith and to P30,000.00 shall be imposed. Subsequently, however, R.A. No. 7659[49] further introduced
credit. new amendments to Section 15, Article III and Section 20, Article IV of R.A. No. 6425, as
amended. Under the new amendments, the penalty prescribed in Section 15 was changed
Verily, the evidence adduced against petitioner is so overwhelming that this Court is convinced from life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P20,000.00 to P30,000.00 to reclusion
that his guilt has been established beyond reasonable doubt. Nothing else can speak so perpetua to death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10 million. On the other hand,
eloquently of his culpability than the unassailable fact that he was caught red-handed in the Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659 amended Section 20, Article IV of R.A. No. 6425 in that the new
very act of transporting, along with his co-accused, shabuinto the country. In stark contrast, penalty provided by the amendatory law shall be applied depending on the quantity of the
the evidence for the defense consists mainly of denials. dangerous drugs involved.

Petitioner tried to show that he was not aware of the shabu inside his luggage The trial court, in this case, imposed on petitioner the penalty of reclusion perpetua under R.A.
considering that his bag was provided by the travel agency. However, it bears stressing that No. 7659 rather than life imprisonment ratiocinating that R.A. No. 7659 could be given
the act of transporting a prohibited drug is a malumprohibitum because it is punished as an retroactive application, it being more favorable to the petitioner in view of its having a less
offense under a special law. As such, the mere commission of the act is what constitutes the stricter punishment.
offense punished and same suffices to validly charge and convict an individual caught
committing the act so punished regardless of criminal intent. Moreover, beyond his bare We agree. In People v. Doroja,[50] we held:
denials, petitioner has not presented any plausible proof to successfully rebut the evidence for
In People v. Martin Simon (G.R. No. 93028, 29 July 1994) this Court ruled
the prosecution. It is basic that affirmative testimony of persons who are eyewitnesses of the
(a) that the amendatory law, being more lenient and favorable to the
events or facts asserted easily overrides negative testimony.[47] accused than the original provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act, should
be accorded retroactive application, x x x.

All told, we are convinced that the courts below committed no error in adjudging petitioner
guilty of transporting methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu into the country in violation
And, since reclusion perpetua is a lighter penalty than life imprisonment, and considering the
of Section 15, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.
rule that criminal statutes with a favorable effect to the accused, have, as to him, a retroactive
effect,[51] the penalty imposed by the trial court upon petitioner is proper. Consequently, the
Penalty
Court sustains the penalty of imprisonment, which is reclusion perpetua, as well as the amount
of fine imposed by the trial court upon petitioner, the same being more favorable to him.
As to the penalties imposed by the trial court and as affirmed by the appellate court,
we find the same in accord with law and jurisprudence. It should be recalled that at the time
of the commission of the crime on September 6, 1991, Section 15 of R.A. No. 6425 was already
amended by Presidential Decree No. 1683.[48] The decree provided that for violation of said
Section 15, the penalty of life imprisonment to death and a fine ranging from P20,000.00
WHEREFORE premises considered, the petition is DENIED and the assailed June 16, M-99 finding herein accused-appellants Domingo Reyes y Paje (Reyes), Alvin Arnaldo
2006 Decision and January 16, 2007 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. y Avena (Arnaldo) and Joselito Flores y Victorio (Flores) guilty of the special complex
01459 are AFFIRMED. crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide and imposing upon each of them the
capital punishment of death.
SO ORDERED.

The facts culled from the records are as follows:


7. People v. Domingo Reyes

On 11 August 1999, an Information[4] was filed before the RTC charging


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 178300 appellants with the special complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with
Plaintiff-Appellee,
Present: homicide. The accusatory portion of the information reads:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, The undersigned State Prosecutor of the Department of Justice


- versus - Chairperson, hereby accuses Domingo Reyes y Paje, Alvin Arnaldo y Avena and
CARPIO,* Joselito Flores y Victorio of the crime of kidnapping for ransom with
CORONA,** homicide defined and penalized under Article 267 of the Revised
CHICO-NAZARIO, and Penal Code, as amended, committed as follows:
DOMINGO REYES y PAJE, ALVIN PERALTA, JJ.
ARNALDO y AVENA and That on or about 11:00 p.m. on July 16, 1999, at Sitio Lambakin,
JOSELITO FLORES y VICTORIO, barangay Sto. Cristo, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, Philippines and
Accused-Appellants. Promulgated: within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one
March 17, 2009 another and grouping themselves together with Juanito Pataray y
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x Cayaban, Federico Pataray y Cabayan and Rommel Libarnes y
Acejo, who are still at large, did then and there willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously, by means of force and intimidation and with use of
DECISION firearms, carry away and deprive Robert Yao, Yao San, Chua Ong
Ping Sim, Raymond Yao, Ronald Matthew Yao, Lennie Yao, Charlene
Yao, Jona Abagatnan ang Josephine Ortea against their will and
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: consent on board their Mazda MVP van for the purpose of extorting
money in the amount of Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00), that
during the detention of Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymong Yao, said
accused with intent to kill, willfully and unlawfully strangled Chua
For review is the Decision,[1] dated 14 August 2006, and Ong Ping Sim and Raymond Yao to death to the damage and
Resolution,[2] dated 18 October 2006, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. prejudice of their heirs in such amount as may be awarded to them
by this Honorable Court.
02301 affirming with modifications the Decision,[3] dated 26 February 2002, of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 12, Malolos, Bulacan, in Criminal Case No. 1611-
During their arraignment,[5] appellants, assisted by a counsel de oficio, Abagatnan (Abagatnan) stepped out of the van with appellants Reyes and Arnaldo,
pleaded Not guilty to the charge. Trial on the merits thereafter followed. Pataray and one of their male companions.[7] Appellant Flores, with the other male
companion, drove the van with the remaining members of the Yao family inside the
The prosecution presented as witnesses Jona Abagatnan (Abagatnan), vehicle.[8]
Robert Yao (Robert), Yao San, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Alex Alberto, PO3 Roberto Jabien,
Atty. Florimond Rous (Atty. Rous) and Atty. Carlo Uminga (Atty. Uminga). Their Later, the van stopped again. Appellant Flores and his male companion told
testimonies, taken together, attest to the following: Yao San to produce the amount of five million pesos (P5,000,000.00) as ransom in
exchange for the release of Chua Ong Ping Sim, Robert, Raymond and
The Yao family is composed of Yao San (father), Chua Ong Ping Sim (mother), Abagatnan. Thereafter, appellant Flores and his male companion left the van and
Robert and Raymond (children), Lenny (daughter-in-law, wife of Robert), Matthew fled; while Yao San, Lenny, Matthew, Charlene and Josephine remained inside the
and Charlene (grandchildren), and Jona Abagatnan and Josephine Ortea van. Upon sensing that the kidnappers had already left, Yao San drove the van
(housemaids). The Yao family owns and operates a poultry farm in Barangay Santo towards the poultry farm and sought the help of relatives.[9]
Cristo, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
Meanwhile, Chua Ong Ping Sim, Robert, Raymond and Abagatnan were
On 16 July 1999, at about 11:00 p.m., the Yao family, on board a Mazda MVP taken on foot by appellants Reyes and Arnaldo, Pataray and one male companion to
van, arrived at the their poultry farm in Barangay Sto. Cristo, San Jose del Monte, a safe-house situated in the mountainous part of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan where
Bulacan. Yao San alighted from the van to open the gate of the farm. At this juncture, they spent the whole night.[10]
appellant Reyes and a certain Juanito Pataray (Pataray) approached, poked their guns
at Yao San, and dragged him inside the van. Appellant Reyes and Pataray also On the morning of the following day, at around 4:00 a.m., appellants and
boarded the van. Thereupon, appellants Arnaldo and Flores, with two male their cohorts tried to contact Yao San regarding the ransom demanded, but the latter
companions, all armed with guns, arrived and immediately boarded the could not be reached. Thus, appellants instructed Abagatnan to look for Yao San in
van. Appellant Flores took the drivers seat and drove the van. Appellants Reyes and the poultry farm. Appellants Reyes and Arnaldo and one male companion escorted
Arnaldo and their cohorts then blindfolded each member of the Yao family inside the Abagatnan in proceeding to the poultry farm. Upon arriving therein, Abagatnan
van with packaging tape.[6] searched for Yao San, but the latter could not be found. Appellants Reyes and Arnaldo
told Abagatnan to remind Yao San about the ransom demanded. Thereafter,
After about 30 minutes of traveling on the road, the van stopped. Per order appellants Reyes and Arnaldo and their male companion left Abagatnan in the poultry
of appellants and their cohorts, Chua Ong Ping Sim, Robert, Raymond and Jona farm and went back to the safe-house.[11]
In the safe-house, appellants told Robert that they would release him so he On 26 July 1999, appellant Arnaldo surrendered to the Presidential Anti-
could help Abagatnan in locating Yao San. Robert and appellants left the safe-house, Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) at Camp Crame, Quezon City. Thereupon,
and after 30 minutes of trekking, appellants abandoned Robert. Robert then ran appellant Arnaldo, with the assistance of Atty. Uminga, executed a written extra-
towards the poultry farm. Upon arriving at the poultry farm, Robert found Yao San judicial confession narrating his participation in the incident. Appellant Arnaldo
and informed him about the ransom demanded by the appellants. Robert also told identified appellants Reyes and Flores, Pataray and a certain Tata and Akey as his co-
Yao San that Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond were still held by appellants and their participants in the incident. Appellant Arnaldo also described the physical features of
cohorts.[12] his cohorts and revealed their whereabouts.[17]

On 18 July 1999, appellants called Yao San through a cellular phone and Subsequently, appellant Reyes was arrested in Sto. Cristo, San Jose del
demanded the ransom of P5 million for Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond. Yao San Monte, Bulacan. Thereafter, appellants Arnaldo and Reyes were identified in a police
acceded to appellants demand. Appellants allowed Yao San to talk with Chua Ong line-up by Yao San, Robert and Abagatnan as their kidnappers.[18]
Ping Sim.[13]
On 10 August 1999, agents of the PAOCTF arrested appellant Flores in
On the morning of 19 July 1999, appellants again called Yao San via a cellular Balayan, Batangas. Afterwards, appellant Flores, with the assistance of Atty. Rous,
phone and threatened to kill Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond because of newspaper executed a written extra-judicial confession detailing his participation in the
and radio reports regarding the incident. Yao San clarified to appellants that he did incident. Appellant Flores identified appellants Reyes and Arnaldo, Pataray and a
not report the incident to the police and also pleaded with them to spare the life of certain Tata and Akey as his co-participants in the incident. Appellant Flores was
Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond. Appellants then instructed Yao San to appear and subsequently identified in a police line-up by Yao San, Robert and Abagatnan as one
bring with him the ransom of P5 million at 3:00 p.m. in the Usan dumpsite, Litex of their kidnappers.[19]
Road,Fairview, Quezon City. Yao San arrived at the designated place of the pay-off
at 4:00 p.m., but none of the appellants or their cohorts showed up. Yao San waited The prosecution adduced documentary evidence to bolster the aforesaid
for appellants call, but none came. Thus, Yao San left.[14] allegations, to wit: (1) Sinumpaang Salaysay of Abagatnan (Exhibit
A);[20] (2) Karagdagang Sinumpaang Salaysay of Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San
On 23 July 1999, the corpses of Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond were found (Exhibit B);[21] (3) sketch made by Abagatnan (Exhibit C);[22] (4) death certificates of
at the La Mesa Dam, Novaliches, Quezon City.[15] Both died of asphyxia by Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond (Exhibits D & E);[23] (5) Sinumpaang Salaysay of
strangulation.[16] Robert (Exhibit F);[24] (6) Sinumpaang Salaysay of Yao San (Exhibit H);[25] (7) joint
affidavit of Police Senior Inspector Loreto P. Delelis and PO3 Roberto Jabien (Exhibit
I);[26] (8) joint affidavit of PO3 Alex Alberto and PO3 Leonito Fermin (Exhibit J);[27] (9) Subsequently, he pointed to appellants Reyes and Flores as his cohorts in
written extra-judicial confession of appellant Flores (Exhibit K);[28] (10) written extra- kidnapping the Yaofamily. He implicated appellants Reyes and Flores to get even with
judicial confession of appellant Arnaldo (Exhibit L);[29] and (11) sketch made by them, since the two had previously mauled him after he sold their fighting cocks and
appellant Arnaldo (Exhibit M).[30] failed to give them the proceeds of the sale.[32]

For its part, the defense presented the testimonies of appellants, Marina He denied having met with Atty. Uminga. He was not assisted by the latter
Reyes, Irene Flores Celestino, Wilfredo Celestino, Jr., Rachel C. Ramos, and Isidro when he was forced by the PAOCTF to make a written extra-judicial confession on
Arnaldo. Appellants denied any liability and interposed alibis and the defense of the kidnapping of the Yao family. Further, he claimed that while he was under the
frame-up. Their testimonies, as corroborated by their witnesses, are as follows: custody of PAOCTF, a certain Major Paulino utilized him as a drug pusher. Upon failing
to remit the proceeds of the drug sale, he was beaten up by PAOCTF agents and
Appellant Arnaldo testified that he was an asset of the PAOCTF. He narrated thereafter included as accused with appellants Reyes and Flores for the kidnapping
that on 25 July 1999, while he was at the tricycle terminal of Brgy. Sto. Cristo, San of the Yao family.[33]
Jose del Monte, Bulacan, a police officer named Liwanag of the PAOCTF approached
and invited him to go to Camp Crame to shed light on a kidnapping case allegedly On the other hand, appellant Reyes testified that he slept in his house with
committed by a certain Brgy. Captain Ramos and by members of the Aguirre and his family from 6:00 p.m. of 16 July 1999 until the morning of the next day; that on
Bautista families. He accepted the invitation. Subsequently, he proceeded the early morning of 26 July 1999, five policemen barged into his house and arrested
to Camp Crame and met therein Colonel Cesar Mancao III (Colonel Mancao) of the him; that the policemen told him that he was a suspect in the kidnapping of the Yao
PAOCTF. Colonel Mancao told him that the PAOCTF would arrest Brgy. Capt. Ramos family; that he was mauled by the policemen outside his house; that the policemen
and certain persons named Gerry Bautista and Dadie Bautista. Colonel Mancao forcibly brought him to Camp Crame, where he was subsequently tortured; that he
instructed him to identify said persons as responsible for the kidnapping of knew the Yao family because he worked as a carpenter in the familys poultry farm at
the Yaofamily. He refused to do so because he feared Brgy. Capt. Ramos. The day Brgy. Sto. Cristo, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan; that he had no involvement in the
after, Colonel Mancao called appellant Arnaldo to his office. Upon arriving thereat, kidnapping of the family; and that appellant Arnaldo implicated him in the kidnapping
the latter saw Yao San. Yao San promised him that if their kidnappers would be of the family because appellant Arnaldo held a grudge against him.[34]
apprehended through his cooperation, he would give him P500,000.00. He accepted
Yao Sans offer under the condition that he would identify a different set of For his part, appellant Flores testified that he stayed in his sisters house at
suspects. Later, Colonel Mancao gave him P30,000.00.[31] Antipolo City from 12 July 1999 up to 30 July 1999; that he went to her house on 12
penalty of DEATH as mandated by law, to jointly and severally
July 1999 because it was the birthday of her child; that he worked as a construction indemnify the heirs of deceased Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond
worker during his stay in his sisters house; that he was arrested in Batangas and Yao in the amount of One Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos
(P150,000.00), and all the private offended parties or victims,
thereafter brought to Camp Crame, where he was beaten up by policemen for including the heirs of the deceased, in the amount of Five Hundred
refusing to admit involvement in the kidnapping of the Yao family; that after three Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) as moral damages, subject to the
corresponding filing fee as a first lien, and to pay the costs of the
days of beating, he was forced to sign a document which he later found out to be a proceedings.[39]
written extra-judicial confession; that he never met nor did he know Atty. Rous; that
he knew the Yao family because he lived near the familys poultry farm, and he used
By reason of the death penalty imposed on each of the appellants, the
to work therein as a welder; that he had no participation in the kidnapping of the
instant case was elevated to us for automatic review. However, pursuant to our ruling
family; and that appellant Arnaldo implicated him in the kidnapping of the family
in People v. Mateo,[40] we remanded the instant case to the Court of Appeals for
because he and appellant Reyes had mauled appellant Arnaldo several years ago.[35]
proper disposition.

The defense proffered documentary and object evidence to buttress their


On 14 August 2006, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision affirming
foregoing claims, to wit: (1) prayer booklet of appellant Arnaldo (Exhibit 1 for
with modifications the RTC Decision. The appellate court reduced the penalty
[36]
appellant Arnaldo); (2) calling card of Colonel Mancao (Exhibit 2 for appellant
imposed by the RTC on each of the appellants from death penalty to reclusion
[37]
Arnaldo); and (3) pictures allegedly showing appellant Floresworking as a
perpetua without the possibility of parole. It also decreased the amount of civil
[38]
carpenter in Antipolo City (Exhibits 1 & 2 for appellant Flores).
indemnity from P150,000.00 to P100,000.00. Further, it directed appellants to pay
jointly and severally the Yao family P100,000.00 as exemplary damages. The fallo of
After trial, the RTC rendered a Decision dated 26 February 2002 convicting
the Court of Appeals decision states:
appellants of the special complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide and
sentencing each of them to suffer the supreme penalty of death. Appellants were WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision of the
Regional Trial Court of Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 12, dated February
also ordered to pay jointly and severally the Yao family P150,000.00 as civil 26, 2002, in Criminal Case No. 1611-M-99 convicting accused-
indemnity, P500,000.00 as moral damages and the costs of the proceedings. The appellants of the crime of Kidnapping For Ransom with (Double)
Homicide, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS in that:
dispositive portion of the RTC Decision reads:
1) accused-appellants are instead sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua;
WHEREFORE, finding herein three (3) accused DOMINGO
REYES y PAJE, ALVIN ARNALDO y AVENA, and JOSELITO FLORES y
2) the award of civil indemnity ex delicto is hereby reduced
VICTORIO guilty as principals beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
to P100,000; and
of KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM WITH (DOUBLE) HOMICIDE as
charged, they are hereby sentenced each to suffer the supreme
3) accused-appellants are further ordered to pay private
complainants the amount of P100,000.00 as exemplary Anent the first assigned error, appellants assail the credibility of prosecution
damages.[41] witnesses Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San.

Appellants filed a motion for reconsideration of the Court of Appeals In resolving issues pertaining to the credibility of the witnesses, this Court is

Decision but this was denied. Hence, appellants filed their Notice of Appeal on 25 guided by the following well-settled principles: (1) the reviewing court will not disturb

August 2006. the findings of the lower court, unless there is a showing that the latter overlooked,
misunderstood or misapplied some fact or circumstance of weight and substance

In their separate briefs,[42] appellants assigned the following errors: that may affect the result of the case; (2) the findings of the trial court on the
credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect and even finality, as it had the
opportunity to examine their demeanor when they testified on the witness stand;
I. and (3) a witness who testifies in a clear, positive and convincing manner is a credible
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO
THE TESTIMONIES OF THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES; witness.[44]

II.
After carefully reviewing the evidence on record and applying the foregoing
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING A CONSPIRACY BETWEEN
APPELLANTS; guidelines to this case, we found no cogent reason to overturn the RTCs ruling finding
the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses credible. Prosecution witnesses
III.
Abagatnan, Robert, and Yao San positively identified appellants and their cohorts as
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING WEIGHT AND CREDENCE TO
their kidnappers during a police line-up and also during trial. Abagatnan specifically
THE EXTRA-JUDICIAL CONFESSIONS OF APPELLANT ARNALDO AND
APPELLANT FLORES; testified during the trial that after appellants and their cohorts forcibly entered the

IV. van where she and the Yao family were, appellant Flores drove the van away from
the poultry farm; that appellants Reyes and Arnaldo were among the kidnappers who
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN TOTALLY IGNORING THE
CORROBORATED EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENSE; guarded her, Robert, Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond in the safe-house; and that
appellants Reyes and Arnaldo accompanied her in going to the poultry farm to search
V.
for Yao San and remind him about the ransom demanded. [45] Robert confirmed that
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTION HAD
PROVEN APPELLANTS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.[43] appellants and their cohorts blindfolded them inside the van during the incident. He
also recounted that appellants and their cohorts detained him and Chua Ong Ping
Sim, Raymond and Abagatnan in a safe-house. He was later instructed by appellants
to find Yao San and remind him about the ransom.[46] Yao San declared that during cohorts forcibly boarded the van, thus, allowing Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San to
the incident, appellant Reyes and Pataray approached him, poked their guns at him, glance at the faces of appellants and their cohorts.[50]
and dragged him into the van. Appellant Flores took the drivers seat and drove the
van. Appellant Flores and his male companion told him to produce P5 million as Although the Yao family was blindfolded during the incident, it was,
ransom money in exchange for the release of Chua Ong Ping Sim, Robert, Raymond nevertheless, shown that it took appellants and their cohorts about 10 minutes
and Abagatnan.[47] before all members of the Yao family were blindfolded.[51] During this considerable
length of time, Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San were able to take a good look at the
Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San testified in a clear and candid manner during faces of appellants and their cohorts. In addition, Abagatnan and Robert narrated
the trial. Their respective testimonies were consistent with one another. They were that their respective blindfolds loosened several times, giving them the opportunity
steadfast in recounting their ordeal despite the grueling cross examination of the to have a glimpse at the faces of appellants and their cohorts.[52]
defense. Moreover, their testimonies were in harmony with the documentary
evidence adduced by the prosecution. The RTC and the Court of Appeals found their Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San testified that even though the heads of
testimonies credible and trustworthy. Both courts also found no ill motive for appellants and their cohorts were covered by T-shirts, their faces were, nonetheless,
Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San to testify against appellants. exposed and uncovered, allowing them to see their faces.[53] Robert and Yao San also
declared that they recognized the faces of appellants during the incident because the
Appellants, nonetheless, maintain that Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San latter resided near the poultry farm of the Yao family, which used to hire them
could not have identified their kidnappers, because (1) the incident occurred in the several times in the farm as carpenters/welders.[54]
darkness of the night; (2) they were blindfolded then; and (3) the heads of the
kidnappers were covered by T-shirts. Appellants, however, insist that the testimonies of Abagatnan, Robert and
Yao San that they were able to recognize the kidnappers -- because although the
It appears that the crime scene was well-lighted during the incident. At that kidnappers heads were covered with T-shirts, their faces were nevertheless exposed
time, there was a light from a fluorescent bulb hanging above the gate of the poultry or uncovered -- are incredible. Appellants argue that it is against human nature and
farm wherein Yao San was held at gunpoint by appellant Reyes and Pataray. [48] The experience that kidnappers would cover only their heads and not their faces in
headlights of the van were also turned on, making it possible for Abagatnan and concealing their identities.
Robert to see the faces of appellant Reyes and Pataray as the two approached and
poked their guns at Yao San.[49] Further, there was a bulb inside the van, which turned It is not illogical or against human nature for appellants and their cohorts to
on when the doors van was opened. This bulb lighted up when appellants and their cover their heads with T-shirts, while leaving their faces exposed and uncovered
when they kidnapped the Yao family. Perhaps, appellants and their cohorts thought would point to appellants and their cohorts as their kidnappers if such were not
that putting T-shirts on their heads without covering their faces was sufficient to true. A witness relationship to the victim of a crime makes his testimony more
conceal their identities. Regardless of their reason, the fact remains that Abagatnan, credible as it would be unnatural for a relative interested in vindicating a crime done
Robert and Yao San positively identified appellants as their kidnappers, and their said to their family to accuse somebody other than the real culprit.[56] Relationship with a
identification and testimonies were found by the RTC, the Court of Appeals and by victim of a crime would deter a witness from indiscriminately implicating anybody in
this Court to be credible. In People v. Barredo,[55] the victim testified that he was able the crime. His natural and usual interest would be to identify the real malefactor and
to identify the accused as his assailants because the latter took off their masks during secure his conviction to obtain true justice for the death of a relative. [57]
the assault. The accused argued that the victims testimony was incredible because
persons who wore masks would not take them off so casually in the presence of their Appellants put in issue the failure of Robert and Yao San to immediately
victims, as doing so would reveal their identities. The trial court, nonetheless, ruled report the incident and identify appellants to authorities despite their common claim
that the victims testimony was credible and truthful. We sustained such ruling of the that they recognized appellants, as the latter used to work in the poultry farm.
trial court and ratiocinated:
Robert and Yao San cannot be blamed for not immediately reporting the
Appellants dispute the plausibility of Enrico Cebuhanos
claim that he was able to identify the assailants because they took incident to the authorities. Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond were still held by
off their masks. Persons who wear masks would not take them off appellants and their cohorts when the ransom was demanded for their
so casually in the presence of their victims, as doing so would
thereby reveal their identities. x x x. release. Appellants and their cohorts were armed and dangerous. Appellants and
their cohorts also threatened to kill Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond if Yao San and
The above arguments are untenable. In his testimony, Enrico
Cebuhano clearly stated that the men who entered his home Robert would report the incident to the authorities.[58] Understandably, Yao San and
removed their masks when he was brought downstairs. Why they
Robert were extremely fearful for the safety of their loved ones, and this caused them
did so was known only to them. It is possible that they thought that
there was no one in the vicinity who could identify them, or that to refrain from reporting the incident. Robert and Yao San cannot also be blamed for
they wanted Enrico to see who they were so as to intimidate him. It
is also possible that they felt secure because there were 14 of them not reporting the incident to the police even after the corpses of Chua Ong Ping Sim
who were all armed. In any event, what is important is that the trial and Raymond had already been found, and appellants and their cohorts had cut their
court found Enrico Cebuhanos testimony to be both credible and
believable, and that he was able to positively identify appellants communication with them. Certainly, the killings of Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond
herein, because the men who entered his home removed their
had a chilling/paralyzing effect on Robert and Yao San. Also, appellants and their
masks, x x x.
cohorts were still at large then, and the possibility that they would harm the
remaining members of the Yao family was not remote, considering that appellants
It is significant to note that Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond were brutally
and their cohorts were familiar with the whereabouts of the Yao family. At any rate,
killed as a result of the kidnapping. It is difficult to believe that Robert and Yao San
we have held that failure to immediately report the kidnapping incident does not judicial confessions[64] how they planned and executed the kidnapping of
diminish the credibility of the witnesses.[59] The lapse of a considerable length of time the Yao family. Their extra-judicial confessions also detailed the particular
before a witness comes forward to reveal the identities of the perpetrators of the role/participation played by each of appellants and their cohorts in the kidnapping of
crime does not taint the credibility of the witness and his testimony where such delay the family. Clearly, the foregoing individual acts of appellants and their cohorts
is satisfactorily explained.[60] demonstrated their unity of purpose and design in kidnapping the Yaofamily for the
purpose of extorting ransom.
Apropos the second assigned error, appellants contend that the prosecution
failed to prove that they conspired in kidnapping the Yao family. Appellants, however, challenge the legality and admissibility of the written
extra-judicial confessions.
Under Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code, there is conspiracy when two or
more persons agree to commit a felony and decide to commit it. Conspiracy Appellant Reyes claims that his alleged participation in the kidnapping of
presupposes unity of purpose and unity in the execution of the unlawful objective the Yao family was based solely on the written extra-judicial confessions of
among the accused.[61] When the accused by their acts aimed at the same object, one appellants Arnaldo and Flores. He maintains, however, that said extra-judicial
performing one part and the other performing another part as to complete the crime, confessions are inadmissible in evidence, because they were obtained in violation of
with a view to the attainment of the same object, conspiracy exists. [62] his co-appellants constitutional right to have an independent counsel of their own
As can be gleaned from the credible testimonies and sworn statements of choice during custodial investigation. Appellant Reyes alleges that the agents of the
Abagatnan, Robert and Yao, appellant Reyes and Pataray[63] approached and poked PAOCTF did not ask his co-appellants during the custodial investigation whether they
their guns at Yao San, and thereafter dragged the latter into the had a lawyer of their own choice, and whether they could afford to hire a lawyer; that
van. Appellant Flores then took the drivers seat and drove the van, while each the agents of the PAOCTF suggested the availability of Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous
member of the Yao family was blindfolded by appellants Reyes and Arnaldo and their to his co-appellants; and that Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous were associates of the
cohorts inside the van. Thereafter, appellant Flores instructed Yao San to produce PAOCTF. Appellant Reyes also asseverates that the extra-judicial confessions of
the amount of P5 million as ransom money in exchange for the release of Chua Ong appellants Arnaldo and Flores cannot be utilized against him.
Ping Sim, Robert, Raymond and Abagatnan. Appellant Reyes and appellant Arnaldo
were among the kidnappers who guarded Abagatnan, Robert, Chua Ong Ping Sim and Appellant Flores argues that his written extra-judicial confession is
Raymond in the safe-house. They also accompanied Abagatnan and Robert in going inadmissible in evidence, because it was obtained in violation of his constitutional
to the poultry farm to search for and remind Yao San about the ransom right to have an independent counsel of his own choice during custodial
demanded. Further, appellants Arnaldo and Flores narrated in their respective extra- investigation. He insists that his written extra-judicial confession was elicited through
Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other forms
force, torture and without the assistance of a lawyer. He avers that he was not of detention are prohibited.
assisted by any lawyer from the time he was arrested until he was coerced to sign the
(3) Any confession or admission obtained in violation of
purported confession; that he was forced to sign it because he could not anymore this or Section 17 shall be inadmissible in evidence against him.
endure the beatings he suffered at the hands of the PAOCTF agents; and that he
never met or knew Atty. Rous who, according to the PAOCTF, had assisted him during
Thus, we have held that an extra-judicial confession is admissible in evidence
the custodial investigation.
if the following requisites have been satisfied: (1) it must be voluntary; (2) it must be
made with the assistance of competent and independent counsel; (3) it must be
Appellant Arnaldo contends that his written extra-judicial confession should
express; and (4) it must be in writing.[67]
be excluded as evidence, as it was procured in violation of his constitutional right to
have an independent counsel of his own choice during custodial investigation. He
The mantle of protection afforded by the above-quoted constitutional
claims that he was not given freedom to choose his counsel; that the agents of the
provision covers the period from the time a person is taken into custody for the
PAOCTF did not ask him during the custodial investigation whether he had a lawyer
investigation of his possible participation in the commission of a crime or from the
of his own choice, and whether he could afford to hire a lawyer; and that the agents
time he is singled out as a suspect in the commission of the offense although not yet
of the PAOCTF suggested the availability of Atty. Uminga to him.
in custody.[68]

An extra-judicial confession is a declaration made voluntarily and without


The right of an accused to be informed of the right to remain silent and to
compulsion or inducement by a person under custodial investigation, stating or
counsel contemplates the transmission of meaningful information rather than just
acknowledging that he had committed or participated in the commission of a
the ceremonial and perfunctory recitation of an abstract constitutional
crime.[65] In order that an extra-judicial confession may be admitted in evidence,
principle.[69] Such right contemplates effective communication which results in the
Article III, Section 12 of the 1987 Constitution mandates that the following safeguards
subject understanding what is conveyed.[70]
[66]
be observed :

Section 12. (1) Any person under investigation for the The right to counsel is a fundamental right and is intended to preclude the
commission of an offense shall have the right to be informed of his slightest coercion as would lead the accused to admit something false. [71] The right
right to remain silent and to have competent and independent
counsel preferably of his own choice. If the person cannot afford to counsel attaches upon the start of the investigation, i.e., when the investigating
the services of counsel, he must be provided with one. These rights officer starts to ask questions to elicit information and/or confessions or admissions
cannot be waived except in writing and in the presence of counsel.
from the accused.[72] The lawyer called to be present during such investigation should
(2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any
other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. be, as far as reasonably possible, the choice of the accused. If the lawyer is one
furnished in behalf of accused, he should be competent and independent; that is, he PAOCTF agents explained to them that they had a constitutional right to remain
must be willing to fully safeguard the constitutional rights of the accused. [73] A silent, and that anything they would say may be used against them in a court of
competent and independent counsel is logically required to be present and able to law. They were also told that they were entitled to a counsel of their own choice, and
advice and assist his client from the time the latter answers the first question asked that they would be provided with one if they had none. When asked if they had a
by the investigator until the signing of the confession. Moreover, the lawyer should lawyer of their own, appellant Arnaldo replied that he would be assisted by Atty.
ascertain that the confession was made voluntarily, and that the person under Uminga, while appellant Flores agreed to be represented by Atty. Rous. Thereafter,
investigation fully understood the nature and the consequence of his extra-judicial when asked if they understood their said rights, they replied in the affirmative. The
confession vis-a-vis his constitutional rights. [74] appraisal of their constitutional rights was done in the presence of their respective
lawyers and in the Tagalog dialect, the language spoken and understood by
However, the foregoing rule is not intended to deter to the accused from them. Appellants Arnaldo and Flores and their respective counsels, Atty. Uminga and
confessing guilt if he voluntarily and intelligently so desires, but to protect him from Atty. Rous, also signed and thumbmarked the extra-judicial confessions. Atty.
admitting what he is being coerced to admit although untrue. To be an effective Uminga and Atty. Rous attested to the veracity of the afore-cited facts in their
counsel, a lawyer need not challenge all the questions being propounded to his client. respective court testimonies.[77] Indeed, the appraisal of appellants constitutional
The presence of a lawyer is not intended to stop an accused from saying anything rights was not merely perfunctory, because it appeared certain that appellants had
which might incriminate him; but, rather, it was adopted in our Constitution to understood and, in fact, exercised their fundamental rights after being informed
preclude the slightest coercion on the accused to admit something false. The counsel thereof.
should never prevent an accused from freely and voluntarily telling the truth. [75]
Records reflect that appellants Arnaldo and Reyes were likewise accorded
We have gone over the records and found that the PAOCTF investigators their right to competent and independent counsel during their respective custodial
have duly apprised appellants Arnaldo and Flores of their constitutional rights to investigations.
remain silent and to have competent and independent counsel of their own choice
during their respective custodial investigations. As regards appellant Arnaldo, Atty. Uminga testified that prior to the
questioning of appellant Arnaldo about the incident, Atty. Uminga told the PAOCTF
The Pasubali[76] of appellants Arnaldo and Floress written extra-judicial investigators and agents to give him and appellant Arnaldo space and privacy, so that
confessions clearly shows that before they made their respective confessions, the they could freely converse. After the PAOCTF investigators and agents left them, he
PAOCTF investigators had informed them that the interrogation about to be and appellant Arnaldo went to a cubicle where only the two of them were
conducted on them referred to the kidnapping of the Yao family. Thereafter, the present. He interviewed appellant Arnaldo in the Tagalog language regarding the
latters personal circumstances and asked him why he was in the PAOCTF office and he would sign his written confession. Later, he and appellant Arnaldo affixed their
why he wanted a lawyer. Appellant Arnaldo replied that he wanted to make a signatures to the written confession.[79]
confession about his participation in the kidnapping of the Yao family. Thereupon, he
asked appellant Arnaldo if the latter would accept his assistance as his lawyer for With respect to appellant Flores, Atty. Rous declared that before the
purposes of his confession. Appellant Arnaldo agreed. He warned appellant Arnaldo PAOCTF investigators began questioning appellant, Atty. Rous interviewed him in
that he might be sentenced to death if he confessed involvement in the incident. Tagalog inside a room, where only the two of them were present. He asked
Appellant Arnaldo answered that he would face the consequences because he was appellant Flores about his personal circumstances. Appellant Flores replied that he
bothered by his conscience. He inquired from appellant Arnaldo if he was harmed or was a suspect in the kidnapping of the Yao family, and he wanted to give a confession
intimidated into giving self-incriminating statements to the PAOCTF regarding his involvement in the said incident. He asked appellant Flores whether he
investigators. Appellant Arnaldo answered in the negative. He requested appellant would accept his assistance as his lawyer. Appellant Flores affirmed that he
Arnaldo to remove his shirt for him to check if there were torture marks on his body, would. He asked appellant Flores why he wanted to give such
but he found none. He also observed that appellant Arnaldos appearance and confession. Appellant Flores answered that he was bothered by his conscience. Atty.
movements were normal. His conference with appellant Arnaldo lasted for 15 Rous warned appellant Flores that his confession would be used against him in a
minutes or more. Thereafter, he allowed the PAOCTF investigators to question court of law, and that the death penalty might be imposed on
appellant Arnaldo.[78] him. Appellant Flores told him that he wanted to tell the truth and unload the burden
on his mind. He requested appellant Flores to lift his shirt for the former to verify if
Further, Atty. Uminga sat beside appellant Arnaldo during the inquiry and there were torture marks or bruises on his body, but found none. Again, he cautioned
listened to the latters entire confession. After the taking of appellant Arnaldos appellant Flores about the serious consequences of his confession, but the latter
confession, Atty. Uminga requested the PAOCTF investigators to give him a copy of maintained that he wanted to tell the truth. Thereafter, he permitted the PAOCTF
appellant Arnaldos confession. Upon obtaining such copy, he read it entirely and investigators to question appellant Flores.[80]
thereafter gave it to appellant Arnaldo. He instructed appellant Arnaldo to read and
comprehend the same carefully. He told appellant Arnaldo to ask him for clarification Additionally, Atty. Rous stayed with appellant Flores while the latter was
and comment if he did not agree or understand any part of his written giving statements to the PAOCTF investigators. After the taking of
confession. Appellant Arnaldo read his entire written confession and handed it to appellant Flores statements, he instructed appellant Flores to read and check his
him. Atty. Uminga asked him if he had objections to it. Appellant Arnaldo replied in written confession. Appellant Flores read the same and made some minor
the negative. He then reminded appellant Arnaldo that the latter could still change corrections. He also read appellant Flores written confession. Afterwards, he and
his mind, and that he was not being forced to sign. Appellant Arnaldo manifested that appellant Flores signed the latters written confession.[81]
does not fall under any of said enumeration. Nor is there any
evidence that he had any interest adverse to that of the accused.
It is true that it was the PAOCTF which contacted and suggested the The indelible fact is that he was president of the Zambales Chapter
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and not a lackey of the
availability of Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous to appellants Arnaldo and Flores, lawmen.
respectively. Nonetheless, this does not automatically imply that their right to
counsel was violated. What the Constitution requires is the presence of competent
Further, as earlier stated, under Section 12(1), Article III of the 1987
and independent counsel, one who will effectively undertake his clients defense
Constitution, an accused is entitled to have competent and independent counsel
without any intervening conflict of interest.[82] There was no conflict of interest with
preferably of his own choice. The phrase preferably of his own choice does not
regard to the legal assistance rendered by Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous. Both counsels
convey the message that the choice of a lawyer by a person under investigation is
had no interest adverse to appellants Arnaldo and Flores. Although Atty. Uminga
exclusive as to preclude other equally competent and independent attorneys from
testified that he was a former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent, he,
handling the defense. Otherwise, the tempo of custodial investigation would be
nevertheless, clarified that he had been separated therefrom since 1994[83] when he
solely in the hands of the accused who can impede, nay, obstruct, the progress of the
went into private practice. Atty. Uminga declared under oath that he was a private
interrogation by simply selecting a lawyer who, for one reason or another, is not
practitioner when he assisted appellant Arnaldo during the custodial
available to protect his interest.[88] While the choice of a lawyer in cases where the
[84]
investigation. It appears that Atty. Uminga was called by the PAOCTF to assist
person under custodial interrogation cannot afford the services of counsel or where
appellant Arnaldo, because Atty. Umingas telephone number was listed on the
the preferred lawyer is not available is naturally lodged in the police investigators,
directory of his former NBI officemates detailed at the PAOCTF. Atty. Rous, on the
the suspect has the final choice, as he may reject the counsel chosen for him and ask
other hand, was a member of the Free Legal Aid Committee of the Integrated Bar of
for another one. A lawyer provided by the investigators is deemed engaged by the
the Philippines, Quezon City at the time he rendered legal assistance to
accused when he does not raise any objection to the counsels appointment during
appellant Flores.[85] Part of Atty. Rous duty as member of the said group was to
the course of the investigation, and the accused thereafter subscribes to the veracity
render legal assistance to the indigents including suspects under custodial
of the statement before the swearing officer.[89] Appellants Arnaldo and Flores did
investigation. There was no evidence showing that Atty. Rous had organizational or
not object to the appointment of Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous as their lawyers,
personal links to the PAOCTF. In fact, he proceeded to the PAOCTF office to assist
respectively, during their custodial investigation. Prior to their questioning,
appellant Flores, because he happened to be the lawyer manning the office when the
appellants Arnaldo and Flores conferred with Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous. Appellant
PAOCTF called.[86] In People v. Fabro,[87] we stated:
Arnaldo manifested that he would be assisted by Atty. Uminga, while

The Constitution further requires that the counsel be appellant Flores agreed to be counseled by Atty. Rous. Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous
independent; thus, he cannot be a special counsel, public or private countersigned the written extra-judicial confessions of appellants Arnaldo and Flores,
prosecutor, counsel of the police, or a municipal attorney whose
interest is admittedly adverse to that of the accused. Atty. Jungco
respectively. Hence, appellants Arnaldo and Flores are deemed to have engaged the physical injury or any form of trauma were noted during their
services of Atty. Uminga and Atty. Rous, respectively. examination.[93] In People v. Pia,[94] we held that the following factors indicate
voluntariness of an extra-judicial confession: (1) where the accused failed to present
Since the prosecution has sufficiently established that the respective extra- credible evidence of compulsion or duress or violence on their persons; (2) where
judicial confessions of appellant Arnaldo and appellant Flores were obtained in they failed to complain to the officers who administered the oaths; (3) where they
accordance with the constitutional guarantees, these confessions are did not institute any criminal or administrative action against their alleged
admissible. They are evidence of a high order because of the strong presumption that intimidators for maltreatment; (4) where there appeared to be no marks of violence
no person of normal mind would deliberately and knowingly confess to a crime, on their bodies; and (5) where they did not have themselves examined by a reputable
unless prompted by truth and conscience.[90] Consequently, the burden of proving physician to buttress their claim.
that undue pressure or duress was used to procure the confessions rests on
appellants Arnaldo and Flores.[91] It should also be noted that the extra-judicial confessions of appellants
Arnaldo and Flores are replete with details on the manner in which the kidnapping
In the case at bar, appellants Arnaldo and Flores failed to discharge their was committed, thereby ruling out the possibility that these were involuntarily
burden of proving that they were forced or coerced to make their respective made. Their extra-judicial confessions clearly state how appellants and their cohorts
confessions. Other than their self-serving statements that they were maltreated by planned the kidnapping as well as the sequence of events before, during and after its
the PAOCTF officers/agents, they did not present any plausible proof to substantiate occurrence. The voluntariness of a confession may be inferred from its language if,
their claims. They did not submit any medical report showing that their bodies were upon its face, the confession exhibits no suspicious circumstances tending to cast
subjected to violence or torture. Neither did they file complaints against the persons doubt upon its integrity, it being replete with details which could only be supplied by
who had allegedly beaten or forced them to execute their respective confessions the accused.[95]
despite several opportunities to do so. Appellants Arnaldo and Flores averred that
they informed their family members/relatives of the alleged maltreatment, but the With respect to appellant Reyess claim that the extra-judicial confessions of
latter did not report such allegations to proper authorities. On the contrary, appellants Arnaldo and Flores cannot be used in evidence against him, we have ruled
appellants Arnaldo and Flores declared in their respective confessions that they were that although an extra-judicial confession is admissible only against the confessant,
not forced or harmed in giving their sworn statements, and that they were not jurisprudence makes it admissible as corroborative evidence of other facts that tend
promised or given any award in consideration of the same. Records also bear out that to establish the guilt of his co-accused.[96] In People v. Alvarez,[97] we ruled that where
they were physically examined by doctors before they made their the confession is used as circumstantial evidence to show the probability of
confessions.[92] Their physical examination reports certify that no external signs of
participation by the co-conspirator, that confession is receivable as evidence against Appellants argue that their alibis cast reasonable doubt on their alleged
a co-accused. In People v. Encipido[98] we elucidated as follows: guilt. Appellant Reyes avers that he could not have been one of those who kidnapped
the Yao family on the night of 16 July 1999 at around 11:00 p.m., because he was
It is also to be noted that APPELLANTS extrajudicial
confessions were independently made without collusion, are sleeping with his family in their residence during such time and date. Likewise,
identical with each other in their material respects and appellant Flores asseverates that he could not have been present at the crime scene
confirmatory of the other.They are, therefore, also admissible as
circumstantial evidence against their co-accused implicated on such date and time, as he was already sleeping in his sisters house
therein to show the probability of the latters actual participation at Antipolo City. For his part, appellant Arnaldo asserts that he is a victim of a police
in the commission of the crime. They are also admissible as
corroborative evidence against the others, it being clear from frame-up. He alleges that he was an asset of the PAOCTF, but was later utilized as a
other facts and circumstances presented that persons other than
drug pusher by the said agency. Upon failing to remit the proceeds of a shabu sale to
the declarants themselves participated in the commission of the
crime charged and proved. They are what is commonly known as the PAOCTF officers, he was beaten up and included as accused in the kidnapping of
interlocking confession and constitute an exception to the
general rule that extrajudicial confessions/admissions are the Yao family.
admissible in evidence only against the declarants thereof.

Alibi is the weakest of all defenses, for it is easy to contrive and difficult to
Appellants Arnaldo and Flores stated in their respective confessions that prove. Alibi must be proved by the accused with clear and convincing evidence;
appellant Reyes participated in their kidnapping of the Yao family. These statements otherwise it cannot prevail over the positive testimonies of credible witnesses who
are, therefore, admissible as corroborative and circumstantial evidence to prove testify on affirmative matters. For alibi to prosper, it is not enough for the accused to
appellant Reyes guilt. prove that he was somewhere else when the crime was committed. He must likewise
prove that it was physically impossible for him to be present at the crime scene or its
Nevertheless, even without the extra-judicial confessions of appellants immediate vicinity at the time of its commission.[99]
Arnaldo and Flores, evidence on record is sufficient to sustain a finding of culpability
of appellant Reyes. As earlier found, Abagatnan, Robert and Yao positively identified The defense of frame-up, like alibi, has been invariably viewed by this Court
appellant Reyes as one of their kidnappers. They specifically testified that during the with disfavor, for it can easily be concocted but is difficult to prove. In order to
incident, appellant Reyes (1) approached and pointed a gun at Yao San and dragged prosper, the defense of frame-up must be proved by the accused with clear and
the latter inside the van; and (2) accompanied Abagatnan and Robert in going to the convincing evidence.[100]
poultry farm to search for and remind Yao San about the ransom demanded. The RTC,
Court of Appeals and this Court found such testimonies credible. It should be observed that the family residence/house of appellant Reyes
where he claimed to have slept when the incident occurred is located within Brgy.
Sto. Cristo, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.[101]This is the same barangay where agent and that he was beaten and included as accused in the kidnapping of
the Yao familys poultry farm is situated. Appellant Reyes, in fact, admitted that the the Yao family by the PAOCTF agents because he failed to remit to the PAOCTF
poultry farm is near his residence.[102] There is a huge possibility that appellant Reyes officers the proceeds of his sale of shabu, he did not present convincing proof to
slept for a while, woke up before 11:00 p.m., and thereafter proceeded to support said allegations. He submitted the calling card of Colonel Mancao, which
the Yao familys poultry farm to participate in the kidnapping of the family. The same appears to have been signed by the latter at the back portion, but there is nothing on
is true with appellant Flores. Wilfredo, appellantFlores nephew, testified that he and it which indicates or verifies that appellant Arnaldo was indeed a former PAOCTF
appellant went to bed and slept together in the house of appellants sister agent. He also submitted a prayer book containing his handwritten narration of
in Antipolo City at about 8:00 p.m. of 16 July 1999.[103] It is greatly possible that torture he allegedly experienced at the hands of the PAOCTF agents, but this does
Wifredo did not notice when appellant Flores woke up later at 9:00 p.m. and not conclusively show that he was beaten by the PAOCTF agents. As we earlier found,
immediately proceeded to the Yao familys poultry farm to participate in the appellant Arnaldo did not produce any medical records/certificates or file any
kidnapping of the family, arriving therein at about 11:00 p.m. It is a fact that a person complaint against the PAOCTF agents to bolster his claim of maltreatment.
coming from Antipolo City may reach San Jose del Monte, Bulacan in two hours via a
motor vehicle, considering that there was no more heavy traffic at that late It is true that the alibis of appellants Reyes and Flores and the defense of
evening. Obviously, appellants Reyes and Flores failed to prove convincingly that it frame-up of appellant Arnaldo were corroborated on some points by the testimonies
was physically impossible for them to be at the crime scene during the incident. of some of their relatives/friends. We have, however, held that alibi and the defense
of frame-up become less plausible when they are corroborated only by relatives and
Appellant Flores submitted two pictures which, according to him, show that friends because of perceived partiality.[104]
he worked as a construction worker from 12 July 1999 up to 30 July 1999 while
staying in his sisters house at AntipoloCity. These pictures, however, do not clearly Indeed, the positive and credible testimonies of Abagatnan, Robert and Yao
and convincingly support such claim, because (1) the pictures were undated; (2) the San prevail over the alibis and defense of frame-up of appellants.[105]
shots were taken from a far distance; and (3) the face of the man in the pictures which
appellant Flores claims as his is blurred, unrecognizable and almost hidden, as such We shall now determine the propriety of appellants conviction for the
person is wearing a cap and is in a position where only the right and back portions of special complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide and the
his head and body are visible. corresponding penalties imposed.

Appellant Arnaldo also failed to prove with convincing evidence his defense Under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code, the crime of kidnapping is
of frame-up. Aside from his self-serving testimony that he was a former PAOCTF committed with the concurrence of the following elements: (1) the offender is a
private individual; (2) he kidnaps or detains another, or in any manner deprives the As testified to by Abagatnan, Robert and Yao San, appellants and their
latter of his liberty; (3) the act of detention or kidnapping is illegal; and (4) in the cohorts demanded the amount of P5 million for the release of Chua Ong Pong Sim
commission of the offense, any of the following circumstances is present: (a) the and Raymond. In fact, Yao San went to the Usan dumpsite, Litex Road, Fairview,
kidnapping or detention lasts for more than three days; (b) it is committed by Quezon City, to hand over the ransom money to appellants and their cohorts, but the
simulating public authority; (c) serious physical injuries are inflicted upon the person latter did not show up. It was also apparent that Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond
kidnapped or detained or threats to kill him are made; or (d) the person kidnapped were killed or died during their captivity. Yao San declared that appellants and their
or detained is a minor, female, or a public officer.[106] All of the foregoing elements cohorts called up and told him that they would kill Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond
were duly establish by the testimonial and documentary evidences for the who were still under their custody, because they heard the radio report that the
prosecution in the case at bar. First, appellants and their cohorts are private incident was already known to the police. True to their threats, the corpses of Chua
individuals. Second, appellants and their cohorts kidnapped the Yao family by taking Ong Ping Sim and Raymond were later found dumped in La Mesa Dam. Their
control of their van and detaining them in a secluded place. Third, the Yao family was respective death certificates show that they died of asphyxia by strangulation.
taken against their will. And fourth, threats to kill were made and the kidnap victims
include females. Withal, the death penalty cannot be imposed on the appellants in view of
the passage of Republic Act No. 9346 on 24 June 2006 prohibiting the imposition of
Republic Act No. 7659 provides that the death penalty shall be imposed if death penalty in the Philippines. In accordance with Sections 2 and 3 thereof, the
any of the two qualifying circumstances is present in the commission of the penalty that should be meted out to the appellants is reclusion perpetua without the
kidnapping: (1) the motive of the kidnappers is to extort ransom for the release of possibility of parole. The Court of Appeals, therefore, acted accordingly in imposing
the kidnap victims, although none of the circumstances mentioned under paragraph the penalty of reclusion perpetua without the possibility of parole on each of the
four of the elements of kidnapping were present. Ransom means money, price or appellants.
consideration paid or demanded for the redemption of a captured person that would
release him from captivity.[107]Whether or not the ransom is actually paid to or The Court of Appeals was also correct in ordering appellants to jointly and
received by the perpetrators is of no moment.[108] It is sufficient that the kidnapping severally pay civil indemnity and exemplary damages to the Yao family. Nonetheless,
was committed for the purpose of exacting ransom;[109] and (2) the kidnap victims their corresponding amounts should be modified. In People v. Quiachon,[110] we
were killed or died as a consequence of the kidnapping or was raped, or subjected to explained that even if the death penalty was not to be imposed on accused because
torture or dehumanizing acts. Both of these qualifying circumstances are alleged in of the prohibition in Republic Act No. 9346, the civil indemnity of P75,000.00 was still
the information and proven during trial. proper, as the said award was not dependent on the actual imposition of the death
penalty but on the fact that qualifying circumstances warranting the imposition of
the death penalty attended the commission of the offense. As earlier stated, both Charlene, Abagatnan and Ortea should each receive the amount of P100,000.00 as
the qualifying circumstances of demand for ransom and the double killing or death moral damages. Per computation, the total amount of moral damages is P700,000.00
of two of the kidnap victims were alleged in the information and proven during and not P500,000.00 as fixed by the RTC and the Court of Appeals.
trial. Thus, for the twin deaths of Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond, their heirs (Yao
San, Robert, Lenny, Matthew and Charlene) are entitled to a total amount Finally, we observed that the RTC and the Court of Appeals denominated the
of P150,000.00 as civil indemnity. Exemplary damages are imposed by way of crime committed by appellants in the present case as the special complex crime of
example or correction for the public good.[111] In criminal offenses, exemplary kidnapping for ransom with doublehomicide since two of the kidnap victims were
damages may be recovered when the crime was committed with one or more killed or died during the kidnapping. The word double should be deleted therein.
aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or qualifying.[112] Since both the Regardless of the number of killings or deaths that occurred as a consequence of the
qualifying circumstances of demand for ransom and the killing or death of two of the kidnapping, the appropriate denomination of the crime should be the special
kidnap victims (Chua Ong Ping Sim and Raymond) while in captivity were alleged in complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide.
the information and proven during trial, and in order to deter others from committing
the same despicable acts, the award of exemplary damages is proper. The total WHEREFORE, the Decision, dated 14 August 2006, and Resolution, dated 18
amount of P100,000.00 as exemplary damages should be modified. In several October 2006, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 02301 is
cases,[113] we awarded an amount of P100,000.00 to each of the kidnap victims. As in hereby AFFIRMED with the followingMODIFICATIONS: (1) the total amount of civil
this case, the amount of P100,000.00 as exemplary damages should be awarded each indemnity is P150,000.00; (2) the total amount of exemplary damages
to Yao San, Robert, Lenny, Matthew, Charlene, Abagatnan and Ortea. This makes the is P700,000.00; (3) the total amount of moral damages is P700,000.00; and (4) the
total amount of exemplary damages add up to P700,000.00. appropriate denomination of the crime committed by appellants is the special
complex crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide.
The appellate court aptly held that the award of moral damages is
warranted. Under Article 2217 of the New Civil Code, moral damages include physical 8. Homar v. People
suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, wounded feelings, moral shock and
similar injury. Article 2219 of the same Code provides that moral damages may be G.R. No. 182534, September 02, 2015
recovered in cases of illegal detention. There is no doubt that each member of
ONGCOMA HADJI HOMAR, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
the Yaofamily suffered physical and/or psychological trauma because of the ordeal,
especially because two of the family members were ruthlessly killed during their DECISION

captivity. Pursuant to prevailing jurisprudence,[114]Yao San, Robert, Lenny, Matthew, BRION, J.:
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari filed by Ongcoma Hadji Homar search on the petitioner. The RTC also noted that PO1 Eric Tan was straightforward
(petitioner) seeking the reversal of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated in giving his testimony and he did not show any ill motive in arresting the petitioner.7
January 10, 2008, and its Resolution dated April 11, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR No. 29364.
These assailed CA rulings affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of The RTC also did not believe the petitioner's defense of denial and ruled that it is a
Parañaque City, Branch 259 in Criminal Case No. 02-0986 which convicted the common and standard defense ploy in most prosecutions in dangerous drugs cases.
petitioner for violation of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 entitled "An Act Instituting the This defense is weak especially when it is not substantiated by clear and convincing
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002." evidence as in this case.8

The Factual Antecedents The petitioner filed an appeal with the CA.

The petitioner was charged for violation of Section 11, Article II 2 of RA 9165. The The CA's ruling
Information states that on or about August 20, 2002, the petitioner was found to
possess one heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet containing 0.03 grams of The CA dismissed the petition and affirmed the RTC's findings.
methylamphetamine hydrochloride, otherwise known as shabu. The petitioner
pleaded not guilty during arraignment.3 According to the CA, Section 5, paragraph (a) of Rule 113 of the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure enumerates the circumstances when a warrantless arrest is legal,
PO1 Eric Tan (Tan) was the lone witness for the prosecution. As stated in the RTC valid, and proper. One of these is when the person to be arrested has committed, is
decision, he testified that on August 20, 2002, at around 8:50 in the evening, their actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense in the presence of a peace
Chief, P/Chief Supt. Alfredo C. Valdez, ordered him and civilian agent (C/A) Ronald officer or a private person. In the present case, the petitioner committed jaywalking
Tangcoy (Tangcoy) to go to the South Wing, Roxas Boulevard. While proceeding to in the presence of PO1 Tan and C/A Tangcoy; hence, his warrantless arrest for
the area onboard a mobile hunter, they saw the petitioner crossing a "No Jaywalking" jaywalking was lawful.9
portion of Roxas Boulevard. They immediately accosted him and told him to cross at
the pedestrian crossing area. Consequently, the subsequent frisking and search done on the petitioner's body
which produced the knife and the shabu were incident to a lawful arrest allowed
The petitioner picked up something from the ground, prompting Tangcoy to frisk him under Section 13, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.10
resulting in the recovery of a knife. Thereafter, Tangcoy conducted a thorough search
on the petitioner's body and found and confiscated a plastic sachet containing what The CA likewise ruled that PO1 Tan11 clearly showed that the petitioner was caught in
he suspected as shabu. Tangcoy and Tan executed a sinumpaang salaysay on the flagrante delictoin possession of shabu.12
incident.4
The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied by the
The petitioner was the sole witness for the defense. 5 He testified that on August 20, CA.13 Hence, this appeal.
2002, he was going home at around 6:30 p.m. after selling imitation sunglasses and
other accessories at the BERMA Shopping Center. After crossing the overpass, a The Petitioner's Position
policeman and a civilian stopped and frisked him despite his refusal. They poked a
gun at him, accused him of being a holdupper, and forced him to go with them. They The petitioner argues that the CA erred in affirming his conviction on the following
also confiscated the kitchen knife, which he carried to cut cords. He was likewise grounds:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
investigated for alleged possession of shabu and detained for one day. He was
criminally charged before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Parañaque City, Branch 77 First, the shabu, which was allegedly recovered from the petitioner, is inadmissible
for the possession of the kitchen knife but he was eventually acquitted.6 as evidence because it was obtained as a result of his unlawful arrest and in violation
of his right against unreasonable search and seizure. The petitioner has not
The RTC's Ruling committed, was not committing and was not attempting to commit any crime at the
time of his arrest. In fact, no report or criminal charge was filed against him for the
The RTC convicted the petitioner. It ruled that PO1 Tan and C/A Tangcoy were alleged jaywalking.14
presumed to have performed their duties regularly in arresting and conducting a
Second, assuming for the sake of argument that there was a valid arrest, Section 13, requires that there be first a lawful arrest before a search can be made — the process
Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure permits a search that is directed cannot be reversed.22
only upon dangerous weapons or "anything which may have been used or constitute
proof in the commission of an offense without a warrant." In the present case, the Section 5, Rule 11323 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides the only
offense, for which the petitioner was allegedly caught in flagrante delicto, is occasions when a person may be lawfully arrested without a warrant. In the present
jaywalking. The alleged confiscated drug has nothing to do with the offense of case, the respondent alleged that the petitioner's warrantless arrest was due to his
jaywalking.15 commission of jaywalking in flagrante delicto and in the presence of Tan and Tangcoy.

Finally, the non-presentation of Tangcoy, who allegedly recovered the shabu from To constitute a valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must concur: (1) the
the petitioner, renders the prosecution's evidence weak and uncorroborated. person to be arrested must execute an overt act indicating that he has just
Consequently, the sole testimony of Tan cannot sustain the petitioner's conviction committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a crime; and (2) such
beyond reasonable doubt. overt act is done in the presence of or within the view of the arresting officer. 24

The Respondent's Position The prosecution has the burden to prove the legality of the warrantless arrest from
which the corpus delicti of the crime - shabu - was obtained. For, without a valid
In his Comment, the respondent argues that the guilt of the petitioner was warrantless arrest, the alleged confiscation of the shabu resulting from a warrantless
conclusively established beyond reasonable doubt. 16 He reiterates that the search on the petitioner's body is surely a violation of his constitutional right against
warrantless frisking and search on the petitioner's body was an incident to a lawful unlawful search and seizure. As a consequence, the alleged shabu shall be
warrantless arrest for jaywalking.17 The non-filing of a criminal charge of jaywalking inadmissible as evidence against him.
against the petitioner does not render his arrest invalid. 18
On this point, we find that aside from the bare testimony of Tan as quoted by the CA
The respondent also assails the petitioner's defense that the shabu is inadmissible as in its decision, the prosecution did not proffer any other proof to establish that the
evidence. According to the respondent, the petitioner can no longer question his requirements for a valid in flagrante delicto arrest were complied with. Particularly,
arrest after voluntarily submitting himself to the jurisdiction of the trial court when the prosecution failed to prove that the petitioner was committing a crime.
he entered his plea of not guilty and when he testified in court. 19
The respondent failed to specifically identify the area where the petitioner allegedly
The Court's Ruling crossed. Thus, Tan merely stated that the petitioner "crossed the street of Roxas
Boulevard, in a place not designated for crossing." Aside from this conclusion, the
We find the petition meritorious. respondent failed to prove that the portion of Roxas Boulevard where the petitioner
crossed was indeed a "no jaywalking" area. The petitioner was also not charged of
The prosecution failed to prove that a lawful warrantless arrest preceded the search jaywalking. These are pieces of evidence that could have supported the conclusion
conducted on the petitioner's body. that indeed the petitioner was committing a crime of jaywalking and therefore, the
subsequent arrest and search on his person was valid. Unfortunately, the prosecution
The Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, failed to prove this in the present case.
houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Any
evidence obtained in violation of these rights shall be inadmissible for any purpose in We clarify, however, that the filing of a criminal charge is not a condition precedent
any proceeding. While the power to search and seize may at times be necessary to to prove a valid warrantless arrest. Even if there is a criminal charge against an
the public welfare, the exercise of this power and the implementation of the law accused, the prosecution is not relieved from its burden to prove that there was
should not violate the constitutional rights of the citizens.20 indeed a valid warrantless arrest preceding the warrantless search that produced
the corpus delicti of the crime.
To determine the admissibility of the seized drugs in evidence, it is indispensable to
ascertain whether or not the search which yielded the alleged contraband was Neither can the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty save the
lawful.21 There must be a valid warrantless search and seizure pursuant to an equally prosecution's lack of evidence to prove the warrantless arrest and search. This
valid warrantless arrest, which must precede the search. For this purpose, the law presumption cannot overcome the presumption of innocence or constitute proof of
guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Among the constitutional rights enjoyed by an
accused, the most primordial yet often disregarded is the presumption of innocence. Q: Did you know the contents of that plastic sachet which your companion
This elementary principle accords every accused the right to be presumed innocent recovered from that person who crossed the wrong side of the street?
until the contrary is proven beyond reasonable doubt; and the burden of proving the
guilt of the accused rests upon the prosecution.25cralawred A: Yes, sir.

It may not be amiss to point out also the contrary observation of the Court as regards Q: What about the contents?
the findings of the RTC when it held, rather hastily, that in the process of accosting
the petitioner for jaywalking, Tangcoy recovered from his possession a knife and a A: Suspected shabu or methylamphetamine hydrochloride.
small plastic sachet containing shabu26 The testimony of Tan, as quoted in the CA
decision, and the findings of the RTC, cast doubt on whether Tan and Q: After the drug was recovered from the possession of that man, what did you
Tangcoy intended to arrest the petitioner for jaywalking. do?

Arrest is the taking of a person into custody in order that he or she may be bound to A: We brought him to our precinct and informed him of his constitutional rights
answer for the commission of an offense. It is effected by an actual restraint of the and brought him to the Parañaque Community Hospital and the suspected
person to be arrested or by that person's voluntary submission to the custody of the shabu or methylamphetamine was brought to the PNP Crime Lab at Fort
one making the arrest. Neither the application of actual force, manual touching of Bonifacio.
the body, or physical restraint, nor a formal declaration of arrest, is required. It is
enough that there be an intention on the part of one of the parties to arrest the Q: Did you come to know the name of that person whom you arrested in the
other, and that there be an intent on the part of the other to submit, under the morning of August 20, 2002?
belief and impression that submission is necessary. 27
A: Yes, sir.
The pertinent testimony28 of Tan, as quoted by the CA, is as follows:
Q: What happened after you obeyed the order of your immediate superior? Q: What is his name?

A: At 8:50 in the evening of August 20, 2002, we saw a male person crossed the A: Ongcoma Hadji Omar, sir.
street of Roxas Boulevard, in a place not designated for crossing.
Q: Is he the same Ongcoma Hadji Omar y Para, the accused in this case?
Q: What did you do when you saw this person crossed the street of Roxas
Boulevard, in a place not designated for crossing? A: Yes, sir.
[emphasis and underscoring supplied]
A: We accosted him. Clearly, no arrest preceded the search on the person of the petitioner. When Tan and
Tangcoy allegedly saw the petitioner jaywalking, they did not arrest him but accosted
Q: How did you accost that person? him and pointed to him the right place for crossing. In fact, according to the RTC, Tan
and Tangcoy "immediately accosted him and told him to cross [at] the designated
A: We accosted him and pointed to him the right place for crossing. Pero napansin area."29
namin siya na parang may kinukuha, so he was frisked by Ronald Tangcoy and
a knife was recovered from his possession. Tan and Tangcoy did not intend to bring the petitioner under custody or to restrain
his liberty. This lack of intent to arrest him was bolstered by the fact that there was
Q: After a knife was recovered by your companions (sic) from that person who no criminal charge that was filed against the petitioner for crossing a "no jaywalking"
allegedly crossed the wrong side of the street, what happened after that? area.

A: After recovering the knife, nakaalalay lang ako and he was frisked again by From Tan's testimony, the intent to arrest the petitioner only came after they
Tangcoy and a plastic sachet was recovered from his possession. allegedly confiscated the shabu from the petitioner, for which they informed him of
his constitutional rights and brought him to the police station.
SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The indispensability of the intent to arrest an accused in a warrantless search incident
to a lawful arrest was emphasized in Luz vs. People of the Philippines.30 The Court 9. People v. Cloma
held that the shabu confiscated from the accused in that case was inadmissible as
evidence when the police officer who flagged him for traffic violation had no intent
to arrest him. According to the Court, due to the lack of intent to arrest, the G.R. No. 215943
subsequent search was unlawful. This is notwithstanding the fact that the accused,
being caught in flagrante delicto for violating an ordinance, could have been PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee
therefore lawfully stopped or arrested by the apprehending officers. vs.
RANDY CLOMA y CABANA, Appellant
In the light of the discussion above, the respondent's argument that there was a
lawful search incident to a lawful warrantless arrest for jaywalking appears to be an
RESOLUTION
afterthought in order to justify a warrantless search conducted on the person of the
petitioner. In fact, the illegality of the search for the shabu is further highlighted
CARPIO, J.:
when it was not recovered immediately after the alleged lawful arrest, if there was
any, but only after the initial search resulted in the recovery of the knife. Thereafter,
according to Tan, Tangcoy conducted another search on the person of the petitioner The Case
resulting in the alleged confiscation of the shabu. Clearly, the petitioner's right to be
secure in his person was callously brushed aside twice by the arresting police Before the Court is an appeal assailing the Decision1 dated 29 September 2014 of the
officers.31chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00629-MIN. The CA affirmed the
Judgment2 dated 19 November 2007 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cagayan de
The waiver of an illegal warrantless arrest does not also mean a waiver of the Oro City, Branch 25, in Criminal Case No. 2005-598, convicting appellant Randy Cloma
inadmissibility of evidence seized during an illegal warrantless arrest. y Cabana (Cloma) of violating Section 5, Article II of Republic Act No. 9165 (RA
9165),3 otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
We agree with the respondent that the petitioner did not timely object to the
irregularity of his arrest before his arraignment as required by the Rules. In addition, The Facts
he actively participated in the trial of the case. As a result, the petitioner is deemed
to have submitted to the jurisdiction of the trial court, thereby curing any defect in On 6 September 2005, an Information for violation of Section 5, Article II of RA 9165
his arrest. was filed with the RTC against Cloma. The Information states:

However, this waiver to question an illegal arrest only affects the jurisdiction of the That on or about August 25, 2005, at about 3:30 in the afternoon, at Isla Delta,
court over his person. It is well-settled that a waiver of an illegal, warrantless arrest Consolacion, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this
does not carry with it a waiver of the inadmissibility of evidence seized during an Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without authority of law, willfully,
illegal warrantless arrest.32 unlawfully, and feloniously sell, deliver and give away one (1) small heat-sealed
transparent plastic sachet of methamphetamine hydrochloride locally known as
Since the shabu was seized during an illegal arrest, its inadmissibility as evidence shabu weighing 0.10 gram, a dangerous drug, in consideration of ₱500.00 bearing
precludes conviction and justifies the acquittal of the petitioner. Serial No. PB789713.

WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition and REVERSE and SET ASIDE the Decision of
Contrary to and in violation of Section 5, Article 2 of RA 9165, otherwise known as
the Court of Appeals dated January 10, 2008, and its Resolution dated April 11, 2008
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.4
in CA-G.R. CR No. 29364. Petitioner ONGCOMA HADJI HOMAR is ACQUITTED and
ordered immediately RELEASED from detention, unless he is confined for any other
lawful cause. Upon arraignment, Cloma entered a plea of not guilty. Trial ensued.
The prosecution presented SPO1 Efren T. Ellevera (SPO1 Ellevera) and PO2 Michael The RTC also found that, in the absence of ill motive, the positive testimony of the
R. Daleon (PO2 Daleon), members of the buy-bust team. According to them, on 25 arresting officer is stronger than the negative self-serving denial by Cloma.
August 2005, at 3:30 p.m., elements of the City Mobile Group ("CMG") of the Cagayan
de Oro City Police Office proceeded to Isla Delta, Consolacion, Cagayan de Oro City The Judgment listed the elements of the offense that were present, to wit:
to conduct an entrapment operation against Cloma. SPO1 Ellevera was assigned as
poseur-buyer. During the operation, SPO1 Ellevera approached Cloma and The following elements of the crime of an illegal sale of dangerous drugs were all
negotiated for the purchase of shabu worth five hundred pesos (₱500). SPO1 Ellevera proven:
then handed Cloma the marked money with serial number PB789713 and the latter
handed a transparent sachet to him. The sachet contained a white crystalline
a) The sachet of shabu (Exhibit "B") is a dangerous drug as shown by (Exhibit "C")
substance.
Chemistry Report No. [D-]259-2005 made and prepared by Police [Senior] Inspector
April G. Carbajal-Madrofio, Forensic Chemist of the crime laboratory;
After the sale, SPO1 Ellevera introduced himself as a police officer but Cloma resisted
arrest and jumped into a nearby river. As Cloma swam towards the Kauswagan
b) That the seller Randy Cloma y Cabana [had] no legal authority to make the sale;
riverbank, he was intercepted by PO2 Daleon and PO2 Andres C. Alvarez (PO2
Alvarez). After Cloma was arrested and informed of his rights, he was brought to the
c) That Randy Cloma y Cabana had sold and delivered a dangerous drug to a police
Office of the CMG at Maharlika Headquarters, Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City for
poseur-buyer;
booking and identification. SPO1 Ellevera marked the sachet with the letter "A" in Isla
Delta. He surrendered the sachet to PO2 Daleon in Maharlika Headquarters where
he affixed his signature on the sachet. d) That at the time he had sold and delivered the sachet of shabu (Exhibit "B") he
knew that what he sold and delivered was a dangerous drug;
The sachet was brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory for
testing. The substance tested positive for Methamphetamine e) The seller and the buyer were both identified;
Hydrochloride (shabu), a dangerous drug. The urine sample taken from Cloma also
tested positive for shabu.5 The Chemistry Report showing the positive result of the f) The corpus delicti (Exhibit "B") was presented in Court.9
substance and urine was presented during trial.6 In addition, an affidavit of the
Forensic Chemical Officer confirming the findings in the Chemistry Report was The dispositive portion of the Judgment of the RTC reads:
shown.7
WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused
The defense denied all the allegations of the prosecution and presented Cloma as Randy Cloma y Cabana guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged in the
sole witness. Cloma testified that there was no buy-bust operation. He claimed he information and hereby sentences accused to Life Imprisonment and to pay a fine of
never sold any shabu and the buy-bust team violated his rights under Republic Act Five Hundred Thousand (₱500,000.00) pesos.
No. 7438.8 Consequently, all evidence seized from him were inadmissible for being
the fruit of the poisonous tree. Lastly, he claimed that the procedure for the handling The accused Randy Cloma y Cabana who has undergone preventive imprisonment
and custody of evidence prescribed in RA 9165 was not followed. shall be credited in the service of his sentence consisting of deprivation of liberty,
with the full time during which he has undergone preventive imprisonment if the
In its Judgment dated 19 November 2007, the RTC found Cloma guilty beyond detention prisoner agrees voluntarily in writing to abide by the same disciplinary
reasonable doubt of violating Section 5, Article II of RA 9165. The RTC gave credence rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, except those disqualified by law.
to the testimonies of the arresting officer and poseur-buyer. The RTC ruled that
Cloma was arrested pursuant to an entrapment operation. Hence, there was Exhibit "B" sachet of shabu bought from accused is ordered confiscated and forfeited
probable cause to conduct a warrantless arrest and the evidence seized from him in favor of the government to be disposed in accordance with law.
was admissible.
SO ORDERED.10
On appeal, Cloma argued that the RTC erred in convicting him despite the absence of the transaction or sale actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of
the Transcript of Stenographic Notes of his testimony and the testimony of the evidence of the corpus delicti.14
prosecution witness Police Senior Inspector April G. Carbajal-Madroño. Moreover, he
contended that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. All the required elements are present in this case. SPO1 Ellevera testified that he was
the poseur-buyer in the buy-bust operation. He identified Cloma as the seller of
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals the shabu. SPO1 Ellevera confirmed the exchange of the five hundred peso (₱500)
marked money and shabu. Hence, the illegal sale of drugs was consummated. In
In its Decision dated 29 September 2014, the CA affirmed the RTC's Judgment finding People v. Gaspar,15 we held that the delivery of the contraband to the poseur-buyer
Cloma guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged. The CA ruled that the and the receipt of the marked money consummate the buy-bust transaction between
essence of any criminal proceeding is that the accused was afforded the opportunity the entrapment officers and the accused. The crime of illegal sale of dangerous drugs
to be heard, to present his side, and to defend his innocence. In the absence of any is committed as soon as the sale transaction is consummated.16
fact or circumstance that would show that his rights were disregarded, or that the
outlined criminal procedure was not followed, the findings of the lower court are For his defense, Cloma denied the allegations of the prosecution. We find Cloma 's
usually accorded respect, even to the point of finality.11 The CA found that there was defense self-serving. The defense of denial has been viewed with disfavor for it can
no fact or circumstance present to overturn the findings of the RTC. be easily concocted and is a common defense ploy in most prosecutions for violation
of the Dangerous Drugs Act.17 As evidence that is both negative and self-serving, this
The dispositive portion of the Decision of the CA states: defense cannot attain more credibility than the testimonies of prosecution witnesses
who testify clearly, providing thereby positive evidence on the various aspects of the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DENIED. The Decision of Branch 25 crime committed.18
of the Regional Trial Court, Cagayan de Oro City, in Criminal Case No. 2005-598 is
hereby AFFIRMED in toto. Next, Cloma contends that the procedure for the handling and custody of evidence
was not followed. Section 21(a) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA
SO ORDERED.12 9165 states:

Hence, this appeal. (a) The apprehending officer/team having initial custody and control of the drugs
shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically inventory and
photograph the same in the presence of the accused or the person/s from whom
The Issue
such items were confiscated and/or seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a
representative from the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected
The principal issue to be resolved in this appeal is whether or not Cloma is guilty
public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the inventory and be given
beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged.
a copy thereof: Provided, that the physical inventory and photograph shall be
conducted at the place where the search warrant is served; or at the nearest police
The Ruling of the Court station or at the nearest office of the apprehending officer/team, whichever is
practicable, in case of warrantless seizures; Provided, further, that non-compliance
After a careful review of the records, the Court finds this appeal to be without merit. with these requirements under justifiable grounds, as long as the integrity and the
Both the RTC and the CA correctly found Cloma guilty beyond reasonable doubt of evidentiary value of the seized items are properly preserved by the apprehending
violation of Section 5, Article II of RA 9165. officer/team, shall not render void and invalid such seizures of and custody over
said items. (Emphasis supplied)
For the successful prosecution of the offense of illegal sale of dangerous drugs under
Section 5, Article II of RA 9165, the following elements must be proven: (1) the To establish guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt in cases involving
identity of the buyer and the seller, the object, and consideration; and (2) the delivery dangerous drugs, it is important that the substance illegally possessed in the first
of the thing sold and the payment for it.13 The prosecution must establish proof that place be the same substance offered in court as exhibit.19 People v.
Kamad20 explained the four links of custody that must be proven by the prosecution:
[1] The seizure and marking, if practicable, of the illegal drug recovered from the A: Yes, sir, this is the one.
accused by the apprehending officer;
x x xx
[2] The turnover of the illegal drug seized by the apprehending officer to the
investigating officer; Q: And it is mentioned here that you submitted a triangular sachet which I am going
to show to you, is this the one you submitted to the PNP Crime Lab?
[3] the turnover by the investigating officer of the illegal drug to the forensic chemist
for laboratory examination; and A: Yes, sir, this is the one.

[4] the turnover and submission of the marked illegal drug seized by the forensic Q: From whom did you get this sachet?
chemist to the court.21
A: From Randy Cloma, sir.
In this case, the proper chain of custody was established. Firstly, SPO1 Ellevera, the
poseur-buyer, marked the sachet after seizure from Cloma. We quote his testimony Q: Who got this sachet?
from the records:
A: SPO1 Ellevera.
Q: Now, Officer, at Maharlika, you said you made the marking on the sachet. Is [this]
correct?
Q: The poseur-buyer?

A: I did not make the marking at x x x Maharlika but right at the crime scene.
A: Yes, sir.23

Q: Which has a masking tape?


On cross examination, PO2 Daleon confirmed that he, together with PO1 Tabalon and
PO2 Alvarez, personally handled and turned over the sachet to the PNP Crime
A: Yes, Ma'am. Laboratory:

Q: So you brought a masking tape with you? Q: But it was not you who brought the request to the PNP Crime Lab?

A: Yes, Ma'am. A: It was me, Tabalon and Andres Alvarez who brought the request to the PNP Crime
Lab.
Q: Including a pentel pen and scissor[s]?
Q: When for the first time did you see this particular sachet?
A: Yes, Ma'am.22
A: I saw it for the first time after Ellevera gave it to me.
Secondly, SPO1 Ellevera turned the sachet over to PO2 Daleon and the members of
the buy-bust team.1âwphi1 The members then made a request to the PNP Crime Q: At your office?
Laboratory for the drug dependency test of Cloma and examination of the sachet.
We quote PO2 Daleon 's testimony:
A: Yes, Ma'am.

Q: You said you brought the accused to the PNP Crime Lab which I am showing to you
Q: And after he gave it to you, you gave it to somebody else?
this request for the laboratory examination, please tell us whether this is [the] one
you submitted to the PNP Crime Laboratory?
A: No, Ma'am. We brought it to the PNP Crime Lab but it was Tabalon who gave [it] glaring errors, gross misapprehension of facts and speculative, arbitrary and
to the [person-in-charge].24 unsupported conclusions can be gathered from such findings. 27 This Court sees no
reason to disturb the findings of the RTC and the CA. Cloma was correctly found guilty
Thirdly, the Forensic Chemical Officer, Police Senior Inspector April G. Carbajal- beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 5, Article II of RA 9165.
Madroño, confirmed that the same marked sachet she received from the buy-bust
team tested positive for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride. We quote the records: WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the appeal. We AFFIRM the Decision dated 29 September
2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00629-MIN.
Q: What was your finding on the laboratory examination of the specimen requested?
SO ORDERED.
A: Qualitative examination conducted on the specimen (Exhibit "B") gave positive
result to the test for the presence of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a dangerous
drug and the finding is contained in Chemistry Report No. D-259-200[5] (Exhibit 10. People v. Zakaria
"C").25 11. Ramirez v. CA

Fourthly, the marked sachet was identified by SPO1 Ellevera in open court:

Q: I am showing to you this laboratory request marked as Exhibit "A" please tell us
whether this is the one you prepared?

A: This is the same request that I prepared signed by PCI Tumanda in my presence.

Q: It mentioned here a sachet for laboratory examination (Exhibit "B"), is this the one
that you bought from the accused and presented to the PNP Crime Lab?

A: Yes, sir, this is the same sachet.

Q: Why [do] you say that this is the one?

A: Because it bears my marking and signature.

COURT:

Q: What is the marking?

A: Capital letter "A" with my signature, Your Honor.26 (Emphasis supplied)

Considering the prosecution's evidence on the links of custody, we find that the chain
of custody was observed. The integrity and evidentiary value of the seized drugs were
preserved beyond reasonable doubt.

Finally, it is a fundamental rule that findings of the trial court which are factual in
nature and which involve the credibility of witnesses are accorded respect, when no
G.R. No. 93833 September 28, 1995 aaply ka sa review mo, kung kakailanganin ang
certification mo, kalimutan mo na kasi hindi ka sa
SOCORRO D. RAMIREZ, petitioner, akin makakahingi.
vs.
HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and ESTER S. GARCIA, respondents. CHUCHI — Hindi M'am. Kasi ang ano ko talaga
noon i-cocontinue ko up to 10:00 p.m.

ESG — Bastos ka, nakalimutan mo na kung paano


KAPUNAN, J.: ka pumasok dito sa hotel. Magsumbong ka sa
Union kung gusto mo. Nakalimutan mo na kung
A civil case damages was filed by petitioner Socorro D. Ramirez in the Regional Trial paano ka nakapasok dito "Do you think that on
Court of Quezon City alleging that the private respondent, Ester S. Garcia, in a your own makakapasok ka kung hindi ako.
confrontation in the latter's office, allegedly vexed, insulted and humiliated her in a Panunumbyoyan na kita (Sinusumbatan na kita).
"hostile and furious mood" and in a manner offensive to petitioner's dignity and
personality," contrary to morals, good customs and public policy." 1 CHUCHI — Itutuloy ko na M'am sana ang duty ko.

In support of her claim, petitioner produced a verbatim transcript of the event and ESG — Kaso ilang beses na akong binabalikan
sought moral damages, attorney's fees and other expenses of litigation in the amount doon ng mga no (sic) ko.
of P610,000.00, in addition to costs, interests and other reliefs awardable at the trial
court's discretion. The transcript on which the civil case was based was culled from a ESG — Nakalimutan mo na ba kung paano ka
tape recording of the confrontation made by petitioner. 2 The transcript reads as pumasok sa hotel, kung on your own merit alam
follows: ko naman kung gaano ka "ka bobo" mo. Marami
ang nag-aaply alam kong hindi ka papasa.
Plaintiff Soccoro D. Ramirez (Chuchi) — Good
Afternoon M'am. CHUCHI — Kumuha kami ng exam noon.

Defendant Ester S. Garcia (ESG) — Ano ba ang ESG — Oo, pero hindi ka papasa.
nangyari sa 'yo, nakalimot ka na kung paano ka
napunta rito, porke member ka na, magsumbong CHUCHI — Eh, bakit ako ang nakuha ni Dr.
ka kung ano ang gagawin ko sa 'yo. Tamayo

CHUCHI — Kasi, naka duty ako noon. ESG — Kukunin ka kasi ako.

ESG — Tapos iniwan no. (Sic) CHUCHI — Eh, di sana —

CHUCHI — Hindi m'am, pero ilan beses na nila ESG — Huwag mong ipagmalaki na may utak ka
akong binalikan, sabing ganoon — kasi wala kang utak. Akala mo ba makukuha ka
dito kung hindi ako.
ESG — Ito and (sic) masasabi ko sa 'yo, ayaw kung
(sic) mag explain ka, kasi hanggang 10:00 p.m., CHUCHI — Mag-eexplain ako.
kinabukasan hindi ka na pumasok. Ngayon ako
ang babalik sa 'yo, nag-aaply ka sa States, nag-
ESG — Huwag na, hindi ako mag-papa-explain sa within the jurisdiction of this honorable court,
'yo, makaalala ka kung paano ka puma-rito. the above-named accused, Socorro D. Ramirez
"Putang-ina" sasabi-sabihin mo kamag-anak ng not being authorized by Ester S. Garcia to record
nanay at tatay mo ang mga magulang ko. the latter's conversation with said accused, did
then and there willfully, unlawfully and
ESG — Wala na akong pakialam, dahil nandito ka feloniously, with the use of a tape recorder
sa loob, nasa labas ka puwede ka ng hindi secretly record the said conversation and
pumasok, okey yan nasaloob ka umalis ka doon. thereafter communicate in writing the contents
of the said recording to other person.
CHUCHI — Kasi M'am, binbalikan ako ng mga
taga Union. Contrary to law.

ESG — Nandiyan na rin ako, pero huwag mong Pasay City, Metro Manila, September 16, 1988.
kalimutan na hindi ka makakapasok kung hindi
ako. Kung hindi mo kinikilala yan okey lang sa M
akin, dahil tapos ka na. A
R
CHUCHI — Ina-ano ko m'am na utang na loob. I
A
ESG — Huwag na lang, hindi mo utang na loob, N
kasi kung baga sa no, nilapastangan mo ako. O
M
.
CHUCHI — Paano kita nilapastanganan?
C
U
ESG — Mabuti pa lumabas ka na. Hindi na ako
N
makikipagusap sa 'yo. Lumabas ka na.
E
Magsumbong ka.3
T
A
As a result of petitioner's recording of the event and alleging that the said act of A
secretly taping the confrontation was illegal, private respondent filed a criminal case s
before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City for violation of Republic Act 4200, s
entitled "An Act to prohibit and penalize wire tapping and other related violations of t
private communication, and other purposes." An information charging petitioner of .
violation of the said Act, dated October 6, 1988 is quoted herewith: C
i
INFORMATION t
y
The Undersigned Assistant City Fiscal Accusses Socorro D. Ramirez F
of Violation of Republic Act No. 4200, committed as follows: i
s
That on or about the 22nd day of February, 1988, c
in Pasay City Metro Manila, Philippines, and
a according to its express terms, and interpretation would be resorted to only where a
l literal interpretation would be either impossible 11 or absurb or would lead to an
injustice. 12
Upon arraignment, in lieu of a plea, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash the
Information on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, Section 1 of R.A. 4200 entitled, " An Act to Prohibit and Penalized Wire Tapping and
particularly a violation of R.A. 4200. In an order May 3, 1989, the trial court granted Other Related Violations of Private Communication and Other Purposes," provides:
the Motion to Quash, agreeing with petitioner that 1) the facts charged do not
constitute an offense under R.A. 4200; and that 2) the violation punished by R.A. 4200 Sec. 1. It shall be unlawfull for any person, not being authorized by
refers to a the taping of a communication by a person other than a participant to the all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap
communication.4 any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to
secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or
From the trial court's Order, the private respondent filed a Petition for Review spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone
on Certiorari with this Court, which forthwith referred the case to the Court of or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or
Appeals in a Resolution (by the First Division) of June 19, 1989. however otherwise described.

On February 9, 1990, respondent Court of Appeals promulgated its assailed Decision The aforestated provision clearly and unequivocally makes it illegal for any person,
declaring the trial court's order of May 3, 1989 null and void, and holding that: not authorized by all the parties to any private communication to secretly record such
communication by means of a tape recorder. The law makes no distinction as to
[T]he allegations sufficiently constitute an offense punishable whether the party sought to be penalized by the statute ought to be a party other
under Section 1 of R.A. 4200. In thus quashing the information than or different from those involved in the private communication. The statute's
based on the ground that the facts alleged do not constitute an intent to penalize all persons unauthorized to make such recording is underscored by
offense, the respondent judge acted in grave abuse of discretion the use of the qualifier "any". Consequently, as respondent Court of Appeals correctly
correctible by certiorari.5 concluded, "even a (person) privy to a communication who records his private
conversation with another without the knowledge of the latter (will) qualify as a
Consequently, on February 21, 1990, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration violator" 13 under this provision of R.A. 4200.
which respondent Court of Appeals denied in its Resolution 6 dated June 19, 1990.
Hence, the instant petition. A perusal of the Senate Congressional Records, moreover, supports the respondent
court's conclusion that in enacting R.A. 4200 our lawmakers indeed contemplated to
Petitioner vigorously argues, as her "main and principal issue" 7 that the applicable make illegal, unauthorized tape recording of private conversations or
provision of Republic Act 4200 does not apply to the taping of a private conversation communications taken either by the parties themselves or by third persons. Thus:
by one of the parties to the conversation. She contends that the provision merely
refers to the unauthorized taping of a private conversation by a party other than xxx xxx xxx
those involved in the communication.8 In relation to this, petitioner avers that the
substance or content of the conversation must be alleged in the Information, Senator Tañada: That qualified only "overhear".
otherwise the facts charged would not constitute a violation of R.A. 4200. 9 Finally,
petitioner agues that R.A. 4200 penalizes the taping of a "private communication," Senator Padilla: So that when it is intercepted or recorded, the
not a "private conversation" and that consequently, her act of secretly taping her element of secrecy would not appear to be material. Now, suppose,
conversation with private respondent was not illegal under the said act. 10 Your Honor, the recording is not made by all the parties but by
some parties and involved not criminal cases that would be
We disagree. mentioned under section 3 but would cover, for example civil cases
or special proceedings whereby a recording is made not necessarily
First, legislative intent is determined principally from the language of a statute. by all the parties but perhaps by some in an effort to show the
Where the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the law is applied intent of the parties because the actuation of the parties prior,
simultaneous even subsequent to the contract or the act may be without him knowing that what is being recorded may be used
indicative of their intention. Suppose there is such a recording, against him, I think it is unfair.
would you say, Your Honor, that the intention is to cover it within
the purview of this bill or outside? xxx xxx xxx

Senator Tañada: That is covered by the purview of this bill, Your (Congression Record, Vol. III, No. 31, p. 584, March 12, 1964)
Honor.
Senator Diokno: Do you understand, Mr. Senator, that under
Senator Padilla: Even if the record should be used not in the Section 1 of the bill as now worded, if a party secretly records a
prosecution of offense but as evidence to be used in Civil Cases or public speech, he would be penalized under Section 1? Because the
special proceedings? speech is public, but the recording is done secretly.

Senator Tañada: That is right. This is a complete ban on tape Senator Tañada: Well, that particular aspect is not contemplated
recorded conversations taken without the authorization of all the by the bill. It is the communication between one person and
parties. another person — not between a speaker and a public.

Senator Padilla: Now, would that be reasonable, your Honor? xxx xxx xxx

Senator Tañada: I believe it is reasonable because it is not sporting (Congressional Record, Vol. III, No. 33, p. 626, March 12, 1964)
to record the observation of one without his knowing it and then
using it against him. It is not fair, it is not sportsmanlike. If the xxx xxx xxx
purpose; Your honor, is to record the intention of the parties. I
believe that all the parties should know that the observations are
The unambiguity of the express words of the provision, taken together with the
being recorded.
above-quoted deliberations from the Congressional Record, therefore plainly
supports the view held by the respondent court that the provision seeks to penalize
Senator Padilla: This might reduce the utility of recorders. even those privy to the private communications. Where the law makes no
distinctions, one does not distinguish.
Senator Tañada: Well no. For example, I was to say that in meetings
of the board of directors where a tape recording is taken, there is Second, the nature of the conversations is immaterial to a violation of the statute.
no objection to this if all the parties know. It is but fair that the The substance of the same need not be specifically alleged in the information. What
people whose remarks and observations are being made should R.A. 4200 penalizes are the acts of secretly overhearing, intercepting or
know that the observations are being recorded. recording private communications by means of the devices enumerated therein. The
mere allegation that an individual made a secret recording of a private
Senator Padilla: Now, I can understand. communication by means of a tape recorder would suffice to constitute an offense
under Section 1 of R.A. 4200. As the Solicitor General pointed out in his COMMENT
Senator Tañada: That is why when we take statements of persons, before the respondent court: "Nowhere (in the said law) is it required that before
we say: "Please be informed that whatever you say here may be one can be regarded as a violator, the nature of the conversation, as well as its
used against you." That is fairness and that is what we demand. communication to a third person should be professed." 14
Now, in spite of that warning, he makes damaging statements
against his own interest, well, he cannot complain any more. But if Finally, petitioner's contention that the phrase "private communication" in Section 1
you are going to take a recording of the observations and remarks of R.A. 4200 does not include "private conversations" narrows the ordinary meaning
of a person without him knowing that it is being taped or recorded, of the word "communication" to a point of absurdity. The word communicate comes
from the latin word communicare, meaning "to share or to impart." In its ordinary WHEREFORE, because the law, as applied to the case at bench is clear and
signification, communication connotes the act of sharing or imparting signification, unambiguous and leaves us with no discretion, the instant petition is hereby DENIED.
communication connotes the act of sharing or imparting, as in a conversation, 15 or The decision appealed from is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
signifies the "process by which meanings or thoughts are shared between individuals
through a common system of symbols (as language signs or gestures)" 16 These SO ORDERED.
definitions are broad enough to include verbal or non-verbal, written or expressive
communications of "meanings or thoughts" which are likely to include the
emotionally-charged exchange, on February 22, 1988, between petitioner and
private respondent, in the privacy of the latter's office. Any doubts about the
legislative body's meaning of the phrase "private communication" are, furthermore,
put to rest by the fact that the terms "conversation" and "communication" were
interchangeably used by Senator Tañada in his Explanatory Note to the bill quoted
below:

It has been said that innocent people have nothing to fear from
their conversations being overheard. But this statement ignores
the usual nature of conversations as well the undeniable fact that
most, if not all, civilized people have some aspects of their lives
they do not wish to expose. Free conversationsare often
characterized by exaggerations, obscenity, agreeable falsehoods,
and the expression of anti-social desires of views not intended to
be taken seriously. The right to the privacy of communication,
among others, has expressly been assured by our Constitution.
Needless to state here, the framers of our Constitution must have
recognized the nature of conversations between individuals and
the significance of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his
intellect. They must have known that part of the pleasures and
satisfactions of life are to be found in the unaudited, and free
exchange of communication between individuals — free from
every unjustifiable intrusion by whatever means.17

In Gaanan vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 18 a case which dealt with the issue of
telephone wiretapping, we held that the use of a telephone extension for the
purpose of overhearing a private conversation without authorization did not violate
R.A. 4200 because a telephone extension devise was neither among those "device(s)
or arrangement(s)" enumerated therein, 19 following the principle that "penal
statutes must be construed strictly in favor of the accused." 20 The instant case turns
on a different note, because the applicable facts and circumstances pointing to a
violation of R.A. 4200 suffer from no ambiguity, and the statute itself explicitly
mentions the unauthorized "recording" of private communications with the use of
tape-recorders as among the acts punishable.