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RAPE CASES:

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION

REYNALDO DE CASTRO, G.R. No. 155041


Petitioner,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
VELASCO, JR., JJ.

HON.MANUEL B. FERNANDEZ, JR.Promulgated:


in his official capacity as Presiding Judge
of the Regional Trial Court of Las Pias
City, Branch 254,Metro Manila,cralaw
Respondent.February 14, 2007

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- - - - - -x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This petition for certiorari assails the Orders dated 5 and 28


August 2002 of Judge Manuel B. Fernandez, Jr.,
RegionalTrialCourtofLas PiasCity, Branch 254 (trial court) in Criminal
Case No. 02-0527.The 5 August 2002 Order denied petitioner
Reynaldo de Castros (petitioner) Motion for Reinvestigation and the 28
August 2002 Order denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.

The Facts

On the evening of 11 June 2002, barangay tanods invited petitioner to


the barangay hall in connection with a complaint for sexual assault
filed by AAA, on behalf of her daughter BBB. Petitioner accepted the
invitation without any resistance.

On 12 June 2002, the barangay officials turned over petitioner to


the Las Pias City Police Station.

On 13 June 2002, the police indorsed the complaint to the city


prosecutor of Las Pias City for inquest proceedings.Later, the state
prosecutor issued a commitment order for petitioners detention.

On 18 June 2002, State Prosecutor Napoleon A. Monsod filed an


Information against petitioner for the crime of rape. The Information
reads:

The undersigned State Prosecutor II accuses REYNALDO


DE CASTRO y AVELLANA of the crime of Rape (Art. 266-A,
par. 2 in relation to Art. 266-B, Revised Penal Code, as
amended by R[.]A[.] [No.] 8353 and R[.]A[.] [No.] 7659) and
in relation with R[.]A[.] [No.] 7610, committed as follows:

That on or about the 11th day of June 2002 or prior


thereto, in the City of Las Pias, Philippines and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused, with lewd designs, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
commits [sic] act[s] of sexual assault with one
[BBB], a seven (7) years [sic] old minor, by touching
and inserting his finger into her vagina against her
will and consent.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
On 1 July 2002, petitioner filed a Motion for Reinvestigation
praying that the trial court issue an order directing the Office of the
Prosecutor of Las Pias City to conduct a preliminary investigation in
accordance with Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.Petitioner also asked
that the charge filed against him be amended to acts of lasciviousness
instead of rape since fingering is not covered under Article 266-A,
paragraph 2 of Republic Act No. 8353 (RA 8353).In the Order dated 5
August 2002, the trial court denied petitioners Motion for
Reinvestigation.

On 22 August 2002, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration.


In the Order dated 28 August 2002, the trial court denied the motion.
Hence, this petition.

The Issues

Petitioner raises the following issues:

1. WHETHER A FINGER CONSTITUTES AN OBJECT OR INSTRUMENT


IN THE CONTEMPLATION OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8353; and

2. WHETHER THE ACCUSED IS ENTITLED TO A PRELIMINARY


INVESTIGATION IN FULL ACCORD WITH RULE 112 OF THE RULES
ON CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The Courts Ruling

We dismiss the petition.

At the outset, we declare that petitioner availed of the wrong


remedy in assailing the trial courts Orders.Petitioner filed before this
Court a petition captioned Petition for Certiorari and specifically stated
that the petition is based on Rule 65.However, petitioner also stated
that the issues raised are pure questions of law, which properly fall
under Rule 45.

Under Rule 65, a special civil action for certiorari lies where a
court has acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion and there is no appeal, nor any plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.In this case, petitioner
failed to allege any circumstance which would show that in issuing the
assailed Orders, the trial court acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion. Moreover, following the
hierarchy of courts, a special civil action for certiorari assailing an
order of the Regional Trial Court should be filed with the Court of
Appeals and not with this Court. Petitioner did not raise any special
reason or compelling circumstance that would justify direct recourse
to this Court.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On the other hand, if the petition is to be treated as a petition for


review under Rule 45, the petition would fail because only judgments
or final orders that completely dispose of the case can be the subject
of a petition for review. In this case, the assailed Orders are only
interlocutory orders. Petitioner should have proceeded with the trial of
the case and if the trial court renders an unfavorable verdict,
petitioner should assail the Orders as part of an appeal that may
eventually be taken from the final judgment to be rendered in this
case.

Additionally, the petition will not prosper because petitioner failed


to comply with the requirements under Rule 45 as to the documents,
and their contents, which should accompany the petition. Petitioner
failed to submit a duplicate original or certified true copy of the 28
August 2002 Order denying the Motion for Reconsideration. Petitioner
also failed to show the timeliness of the filing of the petition because
the petition did not state the date when petitioner received the 28
August 2002 Order denying the Motion for Reconsideration.

Hence, on the issue alone of the propriety of the remedy sought


by petitioner, this petition must fail.

On the merits, petitioner is deemed to have waived his right to a


preliminary investigation. Under Section 7 of Rule 112, if an
information is filed in court without a preliminary investigation, the
accused may, within five days from the time he learns of its filing, ask
for a preliminary investigation. The accused’s failure to request for a
preliminary investigation within the specified period is deemed a
waiver of his right to a preliminary investigation.
In this case, the information against petitioner was filed with the
trial court on 18 June 2002.On 20 June 2002, one Glenn Russel L.
Apura, on behalf of Atty. Eduardo S. Villena (Atty. Villena), requested
for copies of the pertinent documents on petitioners case. On 25 June
2002, Atty. Villena entered his appearance as counsel for petitioner.
Yet, petitioner only asked for a reinvestigation on 1 July 2002 or more
than five days from the time petitioner learned of the filing of the
information. Therefore, petitioner is deemed to have waived his right
to ask for a preliminary investigation.

Petitioner also questions the charge filed against him by the


prosecutor. Petitioner insists that a finger does not constitute an
object or instrument in the contemplation of RA 8353.

Petitioner is mistaken. Under the present law on rape, Article 266-


A of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by RA 8353,and as
interpreted in People v. Soriano, the insertion of ones finger into the
genital of another constitutes rape through sexual assault. Hence, the
prosecutor did not err in charging petitioner with the crime of rape
under Article 266-A, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code.

WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition. We AFFIRM the assailed Orders


dated 5 August 2002 and 28 August 2002 of Judge Manuel B.
Fernandez, Jr., Regional Trial Courtof Las PinasCity, Branch 254.

SO ORDERED.

Under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.


Entitled People of the Philippines v. Reynaldo de Castro y Avellana.

The real name of the victims mother is withheld per Republic ActNo.
7610, Republic ActNo.cralaw9262, and A.M. No. 04-11-09-SC.See
People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, 19 cralawSeptember 2006.

The real name of the victim is withheld per Republic ActNo. 7610,
Republic ActNo. 9262 and cralawA.M. No. 04-11-09-SC.See People v.
Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693, 19 September 2006.
Otherwise known asThe Anti-Rape Law of 1997.
Rollo, p. 5.
Id. at 3.
RULES OF COURT, Rule 65, Section 1.
People v. Cuaresma, G.R. No. 67787, 18 April 1989, 172 SCRA 415.
Id.
Rivera v. Court of Appeals, 452 Phil. 1014 (2003).
Lalican v. Vergara, 342 Phil. 485 (1997).
RULES OF COURT,Rule 45, Section 4.
Id.
Section 7, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 7. When accused lawfully arrested without a warrant. - When a
person is lawfullyarrested without a warrant involving an offense
which requires a preliminary investigation, thecralawcomplaint or
information may be filed by a prosecutor without need of such
investigation provided cralawan inquest has been conducted in
accordance with existing rules.In the absence or
unavailabilitycralawof an inquest prosecutor, the complaint may be
filed by the offended party or a peace officercralawdirectly with the
proper court on the basis of the affidavit of the offended party or
arresting officercralawor person.
Before the complaint or information is filed, the person arrested may
ask for acralawpreliminary investigation in accordance with this Rule,
but he must sign a waiver of the provisions cralawof Article 125 of the
Revised Penal Code, as amended, in the presence of his
counsel.cralawNotwithstanding the waiver, he may apply for bail and
the investigation must be terminated within cralawfifteen (15) days
from its inception.
After the filing of the complaint or information in court without a
preliminarycralawinvestigation, the accused may, within five (5) days
from the time he learns of its filing, askcralawfor a preliminary
investigation with the same right to adduce evidence in his defense
ascralawprovided in this Rule.(Emphasis supplied)
PAMARAN, REVISED RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ANNOTATED
205 (8th Ed., 2005) citing People v.cralawVelasquez, 405 Phil. 74
(2001).
Records, p. 14.
Id. at 15.
436 Phil. 719 (2002).
Article 266-A, paragraph 2of the Revised Penal Code provides:
Article 266-A. Rape; When and How Committed. - Rape is committed -
xxx
2) By any person who, under any of the circumstances mentioned in
paragraph 1 hereof,cralawshall commit an act of sexual assault by
inserting his penis into another persons mouth or analcralaworifice, or
any instrument or object, into the genital or anal orifice of another
person.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE G.R. No. 185712


PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff-Appellee, Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
-versus- Chairperson,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
LILIO U. ACHAS, NACHURA, and
Accused-Appellant. PERALTA, JJ.

Promulgated:
August 4, 2009
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DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

This is an appeal from the Decision dated May 19, 2008 of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00480, affirming the Decision
dated March 11, 2004 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 37 in
Cagayan de Oro City. The RTC adjudged accused-appellant Lilio U.
Achas guilty of two (2) counts of the crime of rape.

In two (2) separate informations filed before the RTC, docketed as


Crim. Case Nos. 2000-045 and 2001-143, Achas was charged with two
counts of rape, allegedly committed as follows:

Crim. Case No. 2000-045

Sometime in the month of June, 1998, on a Sunday noon, or


thereabout at x x x, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused being the
common-law husband of the mother, [BBB], of the victim,
[AAA], with lewd design, and by means of force and
intimidation poked a knife on said eight (8) year old minor
victim, [AAA], did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously have carnal knowledge with the said victim
against her will.

CONTRARY TO and in violation of Article 266-A in relation to


Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code as amended by RA
8353.
Crim. Case No. 2001-143

Sometime in the month of July, 1999, on [a] Sunday morning,


in the mountain of x x x, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named
accused being the common-law husband of the mother of the
eight (8) year old minor-victim, [AAA], with lewd design, and
by means of force, intimidation and grave abuse of authority,
did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have
carnal knowledge with the said victim [AAA] against her will.

The commission by the accused is further aggravated by his


knowledge that he is afflicted by [a] sexually transmissible
disease and the disease [was] transmitted to the aforesaid
victim.

CONTRARY TO and in violation of Article 266-A in relation to


Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by RA
8353.

The antecedent facts, as summarized in the decision under review,


are as follows:

In 1998, AAA, then barely eight years old, was staying with her
mother, BBB, and her common-law spouse, Achas, in Misamis
Oriental. One Sunday in June of that year, AAA, while watching over
her two half-brothers, CCC and DDD, in their home, was grabbed by
Achas and led to their adjoining store. Once inside the store, Achas
removed AAAs short pants and underwear. He then mounted her and
succeeded in inserting his penis into her vagina, causing her
excruciating pain.

Sometime in March 1999, EEE, BBBs sister, saw a very pale AAA
and asked what the matter was. For a reply, AAA only placed her arms
around her aunt, shivering. Sensing that something was amiss, EEE
lost no time in having AAA examined at the Northern Mindanao
Medical Center where AAA was found to be afflicted with gonorrhea.
The beastly act that occurred in June 1998 was to be repeated in the
same place sometime in July 1999, while BBB was out gathering
firewood. This time around, Achas covered AAAs mouth with a towel
to prevent her from making any noise. And pointing a knife at the left
side of AAAs neck before and after the sexual abuse, Achas warned
her that he would kill her mother should she tell on him. cralaw

Achas denied the accusations hurled against him by one who he


allegedly loved like a daughter, claiming, in the same breath, to be in
another province in June 1998 and July 1999. He tagged EEE, who
disliked him and wanted her sister to leave him, as having
masterminded the filing of the fabricated charges.

CCC, AAAs half-brother and Achas son, testified that it was not his
father but two young boys who sexually molested his sister. According
to CCC, AAA no less told him about Achas virtual innocence. Pushing
his point, CCC testified to being told by EEE to keep quiet about AAA
not having been raped by Achas. EEEs instructions, per CCC, allegedly
came when Achas was already in jail.

On March 11, 2004, the RTC rendered judgment finding Achas


guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape on two counts and sentencing
him to death for each crime. The dispositive portion of the RTC
Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court finds accused Lilio U.


Achas guilty beyond reasonable doubt of two (2) counts or crimes of
rape committed against the minor offended party, and said accused is
hereby sentenced to die for each of the two counts or crimes of rape
said penalty of death to be carried out in accordance with the
procedure and method enforced by the appropriate authorities of the
Executive Department. Moreover, the accused is sentenced to pay the
minor offended party in each of the two counts or crimes of rape the
sum of P75,000.00 by way of civil indemnity x x x and the sum of
P50,000.000 by way of moral damages.

xxxx
SO ORDERED.
The RTC forthwith elevated the records of the case to this Court
for automatic review in light of the penalty imposed. In accordance,
however, with the People v. Mateo ruling, the Court, per Resolution of
June 6, 2006, ordered the transfer of the case records to the CA for
intermediate review.

On May 19, 2008, the CA rendered a Decision affirming that of


the trial court. The appellate court, however, reduced the penalty of
death for each count of rape to reclusion perpetua without eligibility
for parole in light of Republic Act No. (RA) 9346 prohibiting the
imposition of the death penalty. The dispositive portion of the CAs
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision of


the Regional Trial Court (RTC), 10th Judicial Region, Branch 37,
Cagayan de Oro City, in Criminal Cases Nos. 2000-045 and
2001-143, convicting appellant, Lilio U. Achas of two (2)
counts of rape is hereby AFFIRMED, with the modification in
that appellant is only meted the penalty of reclusion perpetua
instead of death for each count of rape and that AAA is
awarded P75,000.00 as moral damages, P75,000.00 as civil
indemnity and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages for each
count of rape.

SO ORDERED.

On June 24, 2008, Achas filed his Notice of Appeal of the CA Decision.

In response to the Resolution of the Court for them to submit


supplemental briefs, if they so desired, the parties manifested their
willingness to have the case resolved on the basis of the records and
pleadings already on file.

The issue before us is:


WHETHER THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN
CONVICTING THE ACCUSED DESPITE THE FAILURE OF THE
PROSECUTION TO PROVE HIS GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT

Achas defense is predicated on alibi and denial. He denies having


committed the crimes imputed against him, being, in the first place, in
Bukidnon on the dates the supposed rape incidents occurred. How
could he, he protests, do something dastardly on one who he loved
and treated like his own child? His son, CCC, when called on the
witness stand, belied AAAs inculpatory allegations against his father.

Achas brands AAAs account as to his guilt as incredulous and


inconsistent with human experience and the natural course of
things. He likewise maintains that the physical evidence ran counter
to AAAs testimonial evidence.In particular, he asserts that AAA was
not alone in the house when the alleged June 1998 rape happened;
yet, contrary to human nature, AAA did not cry out for help. He also
belies committing the second rape charged, for, in July 1999, EEE
already had custody of AAA.

Setting his focus on another angle, Achas maintains that if AAAs


allegations of rape were true, then hymenal lacerations and
external physical injuries would have been observed by the
examining physician and so indicated, but was not, in the medical
records.

The People, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), would
have the Court discredit the proffered defenses of denial and alibi,
describing them as the favorite sanctuary of felons. And for reasons
detailed in its Brief, the OSG, citing jurisprudence, urges that Achas
assault on AAAs credibility be rejected.

The Court resolves to affirm the CA decision.

For conviction in the crime of rape, the following elements must


be proved:
1. that the accused had carnal knowledge of a
woman;

2. that said act was accomplished under any of


the following circumstances-

a.through force, threat or intimidation;


b.when the offended party is deprived of reason or is
otherwise unconscious;
c.by means of fraudulent machination or grave abuse of
authority; or
d.when the offended party is under twelve (12) years of age
or is demented, even though none of the
circumstances mentioned above be present.

By the distinctive nature of rape cases, conviction usually rests


solely on the basis of the testimony of the victim, provided that such
testimony is credible, natural, convincing, and consistent with human
nature and the normal course of things. Cralaw Accordingly, the Court
has consistently adhered to the following guiding principles in the
review of similar cases, to wit: (1) an accusation for rape can be made
with facility; while the accusation is difficult to prove, it is even more
difficult for the accused, though innocent, to disprove; (2) considering
that, in the nature of things, only two persons are usually involved in
the crime of rape, the testimony of the complainant must be
scrutinized with extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the
prosecution must stand or fall on its own merits, and cannot be
allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the
defense.

Complementing the foregoing principles is the rule that the


credibility of the victim is always the single most important issue in
prosecution for rape; that in passing upon the credibility of witnesses,
the highest degree of respect must be afforded to the findings of the
trial court.

AAA had pointed to Achas as the person who forced himself on


her on at least two occasions and who caused her pain when he
entered her. As determined by the trial court, AAAs testimony on the
fact of molestation was positive and credible. The trial court wrote:

Based on the demeanor of the private complainant when


she testified, and after an assessment of the testimonies of
the prosecution witnesses, this Court believes and concludes
that the prosecution witnesses and their testimonies are
credible. These witnesses testified positively, directly, and in
a candid manner. There is neither cause nor reason for this
Court to withhold credence on the testimonies of the
prosecution witnesses.
And citing this Courts ruling on an analogous case involving a girl-
child, the trial court added:

x x x [I]t is unbelievable for a ten-year old virgin to


publicly disclose that she had been sexually abused, then
undergo the trouble and humiliation of a public trial if her
motive were other than to protect her honor and bring to
justice the person who unleashed his lust on her.

Just like the CA, the Court loathes to disturb the trial courts
assessment of AAAs credibility, having had the opportunity to observe
her demeanor in the witness box. When the offended party is of
tender age and immature, courts are inclined to give credit to her
account of what transpired, considering not only her relative
vulnerability but also the shame to which she would be exposed if the
matter to which she testified is not true.

AAA may perhaps have not cried for help while being taken
forcibly by Achas to the store adjoining their house or during the
actual penile insertion itself. This imputed omission, however, does
not necessarily diminish the plausibility of AAAs story, let alone
destroy her credibility. AAA was a young country girl of eight during
the period material. It was easy to intimidate her then into silence.
She was with her stepfather who enjoyed moral authority over her
and the only people around were her two younger and doubtless
undiscerning half-brothers whom she was looking after. Could the two
toddlers be expected to understand what their father was about to do
or was doing then to AAA and come to their half-sisters succor?
Physical resistance need not be established when intimidation is
brought to bear on the victim and the latter submits herself out of
fear. As has been held, the failure to shout or offer tenuous resistance
does not make voluntary the victims submission to the criminal acts
of the accused. Intimidation is addressed to the mind of the victim
and is, therefore, subjective. AAAs credibility should, thus, not be
undercut just because she did not cry out, if this really be the case, for
help. Rape is subjective and not everyone responds in the same way
to an attack by a sexual fiend. There is no stereotypical form of
reaction for a woman when facing a traumatic experience, such as a
sexual assault. When a girl, especially a minor, says that she has been
raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was
committed.

Achas has made much of the absence of medical traces of hymenal


laceration on AAA. Given the unwavering testimony of AAA as to her
ordeal in the hands of Achas, however, the Court cannot accord merit
to the argument that the lack of physical manifestation of rape
weakens the case against Achas. The medical report on AAA is only
corroborative of the finding of rape. The absence of external signs or
physical injuries on the complainants body does not necessarily
negate the commission of rape. This is because hymenal laceration is
not an element of the crime of rape, albeit a healed or fresh laceration
is a compelling proof of defloration. What is more, the foremost
consideration in the prosecution for rape is the victims testimony and
not the findings of the medico-legal officer. In fact, a medical
examination of the victim is not indispensable in a prosecution for
rape; the victims testimony alone, if credible, is sufficient to convict.

Achas claim of being in Bukidnon, a province adjoining Misamis


Oriental, during the commission of the sexual assaults stands
uncorroborated and cannot be given much consideration to support
his alibi.He was not able to show the physical impossibility of his being
with AAA at the time the incidents occurred. For alibi to prosper, the
accused must show being somewhere else during the actual
commission of the crime and that it was physically impossible for him
to have been at the crime scene. Alibi must fail where, owing to the
short distance as well as the facility of access between the two places
involved, there is least chance for the accused to be present at the
crime scene. But just to put things in the proper perspective, what
Achas testified to, as noted by the trial court, was that he went to Don
Carlos, Bukidnon in May 1999 and left that municipality in October
1999, a plausible alibi for the July 1999 rape incident only.

Denial, just like alibi, if not substantiated by clear and convincing


evidence, is inherently weak, being self-serving negative evidence
undeserving of weight in law. To be sure, either gratuitous defense
cannot be accorded greater evidentiary weight than the positive
declaration of credible witnesses. Put a bit differently, the defense of
denial or alibi becomes even weaker in the face of an unqualified and
positive identification of Achas as complainants rapist.

CCCsuncorroborated testimony in thedefense of Achas alsodeserves


scant consideration, it being but natural for a son to testify for his
father. CCCs version of events, moreover, requires a considerable
stretch of the imagination to be believed. His story has his aunt, EEE,
cooking up an elaborate frame-up of Achas only because she did not
like him. CCCs aunt allegedly coached him to say it was their two
neighbors who committed the crime against his half-sister. CCCs
account taxes credulity, for it is highly unusual for AAA to accuse her
own stepfather of rape, while letting the real culprits go unpunished.
chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

At any event, her having been sexually assaulted by someone


else does not foreclose the possibility of Achas having raped her also.
As it were, CCC was not present when Achasto satisfy his lust, at least
the second time arounddragged AAA into the adjoining store. In other
words, CCC did not, as he could not, testify on the physical
impossibility of the crime having being committed by his father. We
go back to the oft-cited jurisprudential gem that a young girl will not
have the courage and strength to concoct a tale of defloration against
a stepfather and relate in public all its horrifying were she not in fact
sexually violated. The Court cannot bring its mind to a rest that a girl
of tender agelike AAA, who has not been shown to have ill motive to
falsely testify against her stepfatherwould allow herself to go through
the humiliation of a public trial if not to pursue justice for what has
happened. cralawAs to the testimony of CCC, we have previously held
that when the denial of the accused is tended to be established only
by himself, his relatives, or friends, his denial of culpability should be
accorded the strictest scrutiny; their testimonies are necessarily
suspect and cannot prevail over the testimonies of the more credible
witnesses for the prosecution. cralaw So it must be here.
chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

On pecuniary liability, we affirm the amount of damages awarded by


the appellate court. Civil indemnity for statutory rape is currently
pegged at PhP 75,000, while moral damages, which are awarded
without need of proof of mental suffering or anguish other than the
fact of statutory rape, was properly awarded in the amount of PhP
75,000. cralaw The award of exemplary damages in the amount of
PhP 25,000 is increased to PhP 30,000 pursuant to prevailing
jurisprudence. cralaw

While RA 9346 prohibited the imposition of the death penalty and the
penalty is reduced to reclusion perpetua, the accused is, however, no
longer eligible for parole. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the CA Decision dated May 19, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.


No. 00480 finding accused-appellant Lilio U. Achas guilty of two (2)
counts of rape is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that he
is ordered to pay PhP 30,000 as exemplary damages and that he is
ineligible for parole. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

SO ORDERED.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE G.R. No. 186129


PHILIPPINES,
Plaintiff-Appellee, Present:

-versus- YNARES-SANTIAGO,
Chairperson,
CORONA,*
CHICO-NAZARIO,
JESUS PARAGAS VELASCO, JR., and
CRUZ, PERALTA, JJ.
Accused-Appellant.
Promulgated:

August 4, 2009
x-----
----------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

This is an appeal from the Decision of the Court of Appeals


(CA) dated May 30, 2008 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01760, which
affirmed the August 12, 2002 Decision in Criminal Case No.
99-329 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC),Branch 259 in
Paraaque City.

Accused-appellant Jesus Paragas Cruz was convicted of one


(1) count of rape or violation of paragraph 1(a), Article 266-A
of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. He was sentenced to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.

The Facts
The Information dated February 23, 1999 against Cruz alleged
the following:
That on or about the 6th day of June 1998 in the City of
Paraaque, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by
means of force and intimidation, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal
knowledge with one [AAA], a minor, 9 years old,
against her will.

CONTRARY TO LAW.

Upon arraignment on July 8, 1999, Cruz pleaded not


guilty.

The prosecution offered the testimony of the following


witnesses: PO3 Maria Bautista; Dr. Winston Tan; the victims
mother, BBB; and Emiliano Mariano, the barangay tanod of
San Dionisio, Paraaque City. Apart from Cruz, the defense
presented as witnesses his wife, Melinda Cruz; Antonio
Gonzales; Benjamin Gudal; Jesus Cruz; Dr. Darius Mariano; and
Dr. Winston Tan.

Version of the Prosecution

On June 6, 1998, AAA, then a nine-year old, was at her house


watching television with her cousin Jady. It was past three in
the afternoon when Jady left to go to her grandmothers house.
Upon her departure, Cruz abruptly entered the house and
turned off the television. He closed the windows and told AAA
to remove her shorts. She did as instructed. Cruz later kissed
AAA and touched her vagina. She felt pain as he inserted his
penis into her vagina. She did not do anything, however, as
she was fearful of Cruz. To intimidate her further, Cruz
threatened to kill her should she report what had just
happened. He then left in a hurry and closed the door of the
house.

AAA tried her best to keep the rape a secret as she was
terrified that Cruz would come back and kill her. Nevertheless,
she told her mother BBB what happened to her a few months
later. BBB subsequently told Cruzs wife of what she had just
discovered. Thereafter, BBB took her daughter to the
barangay hall and then to the police station to report the
matter to the authorities.

A medical examination was conducted on AAA by Dr. Winston


Tan. His report showed that AAA had two (2) hymenal
lacerations. One was a deep-healed laceration at the 3 oclock
position and another one a shallow healed laceration at the 5
oclock position.

Version of the Defense

Maintaining his innocence, Cruz claimed that at the time of


the rape he was with Antonio Gonzales in Multinational
Village, Paraaque City. Gonzales later testified that they met
from 11 oclock in the morning to about 5:30 in the afternoon.
Cruz conducted a survey of Gonzales land to prepare it for a
prospective buyer. A couple of months later or on September
28, 1998, his wife told him of AAAs allegation of rape.
Policemen subsequently arrested him and brought him to the
police station where he was informed that he was being
charged of rape. To further establish his defense, Cruz
maintained that it was impossible for him to commit rape as
he had been sexually impotent since 1995. He pointed to a
land dispute he had with the victims family as a possible
reason for the fabricated charge.
Cruzs wife Melinda corroborated his story by saying that they
seldom had sexual intercourse after 1995 as he had become
impotent. Dr. Darius Mariano, meanwhile, diagnosed Cruz in
2001 as suffering from erectile dysfunction. c

The Ruling of the Trial Court

The RTC found Cruz guilty for the crime charged. It found
Cruzs defense too shallow in light of his positive identification
as the perpetrator of the rape. The dispositive portion of the
RTC Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, finding accused


Jesus Paragas Cruz GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt
for the crime of Rape as defined and penalized under
par. 1(c) Art. 266-A RA 8353 in relation to Sec. 5(b) RA
7610; this Court hereby sentences him to reclusion
perpetua and to suffer the accessory penalties
provided by law, particularly Art. 41 of the Revised
Penal Code. For the civil liability, he is further
condemned to pay the amount of P100,000.00 as
actual and moral damages.
xxxx
SO ORDERED.

On June 25, 2008, Cruz filed his Notice of Appeal of the RTC
Decision.

The Ruling of the CA

Cruz, in arguing that the trial court erred in convicting him,


alleged that AAAs hymenal lacerations could have been
caused by means other than sexual intercourse. He
furthermore submitted that his erectile dysfunction raised
doubts as to his culpability .Additionally, he claimed that the
corroboration of his alibi by two other witnesses should not
have been disregarded.

The CA found Cruzs assertions without merit. It ruled that his


impotency was not proved with certainty. The appellate court
pointed out that the medical finding of erectile dysfunction
was based on an examination more than three years after the
rape occurred; thus, no categorical conclusion could be made
that Cruz was impotent when the rape was committed.

Following jurisprudence on the subject matter, the appellate


court held that it was hard to believe AAAs mother would file
rape charges against Cruz because of a land dispute, seeing
as it would cause AAA embarrassment and subject her to a
lifelong stigma. As to Cruzs alibi, the CA opined that he was
not able to prove the physical impossibility of his having
committed the crime.

The fallo of the CA Decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is hereby


AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that accused-
appellant JESUS PARAGAS CRUZ is ordered to pay
private complainant P50,000.00 as civil indemnity and
P50,000.00 as moral damages, and exemplary
damages in the amount of P25,000.00. The awarded
amount of P100,000.00 is DELETED. The Decision
stands in all other respects.

SO ORDERED.

On March 11, 2009, this Court required the parties to submit


supplemental briefs if they so desired. The parties manifested
their willingness to submit the case on the basis of the records
already submitted.

The Issue

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE


ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF RAPE

Cruz reiterates his previous assertions, i.e., that (1) the


victims hymenal lacerations could have been caused by a
non-sexual act; (2) Cruzs erectile dysfunction made it
impossible for him to commit rape; and (3) his alibi that he
was elsewhere at the time of the rape deserves more weight
as it was corroborated by two other witnesses.

Non-Sexual Cause of Hymenal Lacerations

Courts use the following principles in deciding rape cases: (1)


an accusation of rape can be made with facility; it is difficult to
prove but more difficult for the person accused, though
innocent, to disprove; (2) due to the nature of the crime of
rape in which only two persons are usually involved, the
testimony of the complainant must be scrutinized with
extreme caution; and (3) the evidence for the prosecution
must stand or fall on its own merits and cannot be allowed to
draw strength from the weakness of the evidence for the
defense. Due to the nature of this crime, conviction for rape
may be solely based on the complainants testimony provided
it is credible, natural, convincing, and consistent with human
nature and the normal course of things.
Bearing the aforementioned principles in mind, we find the
prosecutions evidence sufficient for a conviction. The claim
that AAAs hymenal lacerations could have been caused by
something other than sexual congress is distinctly speculative
and does not throw any doubt as to the fact of rape. What is
more, proof of hymenal laceration is not even an element of
rape so long as there is enough proof of entry of the male
organ into the labia of the pudendum of the female organ.

We have gleaned from the records a credible and


straightforward account of the rape from the victim herself.
She was unflinching both during her direct and cross-
examinations and was categorical in identifying Cruz as the
rapist. We, thus, concur with both the trial and appellate
courts in holding that AAAs testimony is enough to hold Cruz
liable. Most important in a prosecution for statutory rape is to
prove the following elements: (1) that the accused had carnal
knowledge of a woman; and (2) that the woman was below 12
years of age. Sexual congress with a girl under 12 years old is
always rape. cralawThese elements were sufficiently
established during trial and were not rebutted by the defense
with any solid evidence to the contrary.As the trial court was
in a better position to observe the candor and demeanor of
the witnesses, we respect its findings of fact especially as
these were sustained by the CA.

Impotence as a Defense

As a defense, impotence is both a physical and medical


question that should be satisfactorily established with the aid
of an expert and competent testimony. Impotency as a
defense in rape cases must likewise be proved with certainty
to overcome the presumption in favor of potency. While Cruz
was indeed diagnosed as suffering from erectile dysfunction,
this does not preclude the possibility of his having sexual
intercourse with AAA. As the CA observed accurately, AAA was
raped in 1998 while the medical examination of Cruz was
conducted in 2001. A good three years had already lapsed
since AAA had been sexually abused. The diagnosis on Cruz in
2001 is, therefore, useless to disprove his sexual potency at
the time of the rape incident. It merely corroborates his
assertion that he is currently sexually impotent, and not that
he has been so since 1995. Cruz was not able to adduce hard
evidence to demonstrate his impotency prior to or on June 6,
1998 when the crime of rape was committed. Moreover,
assuming arguendo that he was indeed impotent since 1995,
it does not discount the possibility that his erection was cured
by drugs like Viagra or Ciales. There was simply no proof of his
alleged impotency on June 6, 1998 when the beastly act of
rape was committed against AAA.

Furthermore, we find the testimony of Cruzs wife Melinda


more harmful than helpful to the theory of the defense. It can
be recalled that she testified as to having infrequent sexual
intercourse with her husband after 1995 because he had
become impotent. This contradicts Cruzs claim that it was
impossible for him to have raped AAA because of his medical
condition. Apparently his alleged impotence, which started in
1995, did not completely stop him from engaging in sexual
intercourse over the years.
Erectile dysfunction or ED can be a total inability to achieve
erection, an inconsistent ability to do so, or a tendency to
sustain only brief erections. These variations make defining
ED and estimating its incidence difficult. The testimony of the
doctor who examined Cruz in 2001 did not specify what kind
of ED Cruz was suffering from. Cruzs impotency cannot,
therefore, be considered as completely eliminating the
possibility of sexual intercourse.

Defense of Alibi
Cruzs final argument likewise fails to convince this Court. He
relies on as alibi his presence in Multinational Village in
Paraaque City conducting a land survey at the time of the
rape incident. To sustain such an alibi, the defense must
establish the physical impossibility for the accused to be
present at the scene of the crime at the time of its
commission. True it is that his story was corroborated by
additional witnesses. These testimonies, however, did not
show the physical impossibility of Cruz to be present at AAAs
home when she was raped. Even if Cruz conducted the land
survey on the same day, he could have very easily committed
the rape as he was in the same city as AAA.

Penalty Imposed

The award of civil indemnity of PhP 50,000 in simple rape


cases without need of pleading or proof is correct. In addition,
moral damages of PhP 50,000 were also correctly awarded.
cralawThese are automatically granted in rape cases without
need of proof other than the commission of the crime. cralaw
Exemplary damages were appropriately awarded by way of
public example and to protect the young from sexual
predators. We, however, increase the award to PhP 30,000 in
accordance with prevailing jurisprudence.

WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The CA Decision in CA-


G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01760 finding accused-appellant Jesus
Paragas Cruz guilty of statutory rape is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that the award of exemplary damages is
increased to PhP 30,000.

* Additional member as per August 3, 2009 raffle.


The real name and the personal circumstances of the victim and her
immediate relatives are withheld per R.A. No. 7610 (Special
Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and
Discrimination Act) and R.A. No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women
and Their Children Act).See People v. Cabalquinto, G.R. No. 167693,
September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 419, 425-426.
Rollo, p. 3.
Id. at 4-5.
Id. at 5.
Id.
Id. at 6.
Id.
CA rollo, p. 103. Penned by Judge Zosimo V. Escano.
Rollo, p. 18. Penned by Associate Justice Edgardo F. Sundiam.
People v. Lagarde,G.R. No. 182549, January 20, 2009; citing People v.
Nazareno, G.R. No. 167756, April 9, 2008, 551 SCRA 16, 31.
People v. Jumawid, G.R. No. 184756, June 5, 2009; citing People v.
Borromeo, G.R. No. 150501, June 3, 2004, 430 SCRA 533.
People v. Marcos,G.R. No. 185380, June 18, 2009.
See People v. Mahinay,G.R. No. 179190, January 20, 2009.
People v. Alcartado,G.R. Nos. 132379-82, June 29, 2000, 334 SCRA
701, 715.
People v. De Villa, G.R. No. 124639, February 1, 2001, 351 SCRA 25,
30.
Erectile Dysfunction
<http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/impotence/>.
People v. Malate,G.R. No. 185724, June 5, 2009.
People v. Corpuz,G.R. No. 175836, January 30, 2009.
See Mahinay, supra note 13.
People v. Abay,G.R. No. 177752, February 24, 2009.
See People v. Anguac,G.R. No. 176744, June 5, 2009, People v. Layco,
Sr.,G.R. No. 182191, May 8, 2009.
KIDNAPPING CASES

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 174659


Plaintiff-appellee,
Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
- v e r s u s - CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,*
TINGA,*
CHICO-NAZARIO,
cralaw VELASCO, JR.,
cralaw NACHURA,**
REYES,***
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO and
BRION, JJ.

RAGA SARAPIDA MAMANTAK


and LIKAD SARAPIDA TAURAK,
Accused-appellants.

Promulgated:

July 28, 2008

x-----------------------------------------
----------x

DECISION
CORONA, J.:

There are people who are simply incapable of feeling pity or


compassion for others.
Ma. Teresa Basario must have felt a dagger deep in her heart
when she lost her two-year old son, Christopher, two weeks
before Christmas on December 13, 1999. And again upon
being reunited with him some 16 months later when he could
neither recognize her nor remember who he was.

Justice demands that those responsible for this cruel and


agonizing separation of mother and child be punished to the
full extent of the law.

At about 3:00 p.m. on December 13, 1999, Teresa went with


Christopher and her elder sister Zenaida to a McDonalds
outlet in the KP Tower in Juan Luna St., Binondo, Manila.
Teresa and Christopher looked for a vacant table while
Zenaida proceeded to order their food. Shortly after Teresa
took her seat, Christopher followed Zenaida to the counter.
Barely had Christopher gone from his mothers sight when she
realized that he had disappeared. She and her sister
frantically looked for him inside and outside the premises of
the fastfood outlet, to no avail. As their continued search for
the child was futile, they reported him missing to the nearest
police detachment.

The following day, Teresa went to several TV and radio


stations to inform the public of the loss of Christopher and to
appeal for help and information. Despite the publicity,
however, Teresa received no word about Christophers
whereabouts. Worse, pranksters were gleefully having a field
day aggravating her misery.

On February 25, 2001, Teresa received a call from a woman


who sounded like a muslim. The caller claimed to have
custody of Christopher and asked for P30,000 in exchange for
the boy.

On March 27, 2001, the same muslim-sounding woman called


and instructed Teresa to get a recent photo of her son from
the Jalal Restaurant at the Muslim Center in Quiapo, Manila.
True enough, when Teresa went there, someone gave her a
recent picture of Christopher. She then contacted the
mysterious woman through the cellphone number the latter
had previously given her. When the woman instructed her to
immediately board a ship for Mindanao, Teresa reasoned that
she had not raised the ransom money yet. They then agreed
to conduct the pay off in the morning of April 7, 2001 at
Pitangs Carinderia in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte.
cralawTeresa sought the help of the Presidential Anti-
Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF). A team was formed
and Police Officer (PO)3[1] Juliet Palafox was designated to act
as Teresas niece.
Together with the PAOCTF team, Teresa left for Mindanao on
April 4, 2001. On April 7, 2001, they arrived in Iligan City and
proceeded to the designated meeting place.

At around 8:30 a.m., while Teresa and PO3 Palafox were


waiting at Pitangs Carinderia, two women came. They were
Raga Sarapida Mamantak and Likad Sarapida Taurak.
Mamantak approached Teresa and PO3 Palafox and asked
who they were waiting for. Teresa replied that they were
waiting for a certain Rocma Bato, the name written at the
back of the picture she received in Jalal Restaurant in Manila.
She showed the photo to Mamantak who stated that she knew
Bato. Mamantak then told Teresa that she would ask a cousin
of Bato if the latter was already in Kapatagan. Mamantak
turned to Taurak, supposedly the cousin of Bato. Taurak came
near Teresa and PO3 Palafox and informed them that she had
Christopher. Taurak asked Teresa and PO3 Palafox to come
with her but they refused. Taurak reluctantly agreed to leave
Mamantak with them while she fetched Christopher.

Several hours later, in the afternoon of the same day, Taurak


returned and told Teresa that Christopher was in a nearby ice
plant. She asked Teresa to go with her but the latter insisted
on their agreement that the boy be handed over at the
carinderia. Taurak relented, left and came back after several
minutes with Christopher.

Upon seeing her son, Teresa cried and embraced him.


However, the child was unmoved. He no longer recognized nor
understood her for he could only speak in the muslim dialect.
When asked who he was, the boy gave a muslim name with
Taurak as surname.
Mamantak and Taurak interrupted Teresa and demanded the
ransom money. She answered that her niece had it and
pointed to PO3 Palafox. Thereafter, Mamantak and PO3
Palafox boarded a jeepney which was parked outside, under
Tauraks watchful eyes. Inside the jeepney, PO3 Palafox
handed the ransom money to Mamantak. At this juncture, PO3
Palafox gave the pre-agreed signal and the PAOCTF team then
closed in and arrested Mamantak and Taurak.

Christopher relearned Tagalog after a month and gradually


began to forget the incident. On the other hand, Teresa
almost lost her sanity. At the time Christopher was kidnapped,
she was pregnant with her third child. The child, born very
sickly, eventually died.

The sisters Mamantak and Taurak were charged with


kidnapping for ransom under the following Information:

That on December 13, 1999 in Binondo, Manila and


within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused conspiring, confederating and
mutually helping one another and grouping
themselves together, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously take, carry away and
deprive Christopher Basario, a two-year old minor of
his liberty against his will for the purpose of extorting
ransom as in fact a demand for ransom was made as
a condition for his release amounting to THIRTY
THOUSAND PESOS (P30,000.00) to the damage and
prejudice of Christopher Basario in said amount and
such other amount as maybe awarded to him under
the provisions of the Civil Code.

CONTRARY TO LAW.
Mamantak and Taurak pleaded not guilty when arraigned.
After pre-trial, trial ensued and the parties presented their
respective evidence.

In defense, Mamantak and Taurak denied the charges against


them. Taurak testified that at the time and date of the alleged
kidnapping, she was peddling wares in Divisoria market,
Manila. When she saw Christopher wandering about aimlessly,
she talked to him but he did not seem to understand her. She
took the boy under her care and waited for someone to come
for him. No one did. As it was already 7:00 p.m., she brought
the boy home with her to the Muslim Center in Quiapo.

The next day, she and her husband took the boy to the
nearest police outpost but no one was there so they just
brought the boy to their stall. They opted to keep the boy until
his parents could claim him.

On February 17, 2001, Taurak brought the child to Maganding,


Sultan Kumander, Lanao del Sur. Sometime later, Teresa
contacted her and asked for Christophers picture for
confirmation. It was at this point that Taurak arranged a
meeting at Pitangs Carinderia in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte
on April 7, 2001. She did not bring the boy at first as a
precautionary measure. Only after confirming that Teresa was
the boys mother did she relinquish custody to her. However,
she was shocked when members of the PAOCTF suddenly
arrested her. She protested because she was innocent. There
were no charges against her nor was there a warrant for her
arrest.

Mamantak corroborated her sister Tauraks testimony. She


claimed that she was at Nunungan, Lanao del Norte on
December 13, 1999. At that time, she did not know the exact
whereabouts of Taurak who was in Manila and whom she had
not seen for some time. They met again on April 7, 2001 at
Pitangs Carinderia but only by chance. She happened to be
there when Taurak came. When Teresa arrived later, Taurak
talked to her and then left, returning after a few hours with
Christopher whom Mamantak saw for the first time. Taurak
told her that she had found the boy and was returning him to
his mother. Mamantak stayed in the carinderia all the while,
waiting for her ride home at 4:00 p.m. She was stunned when
PAOCTF members suddenly arrested her and her sister as she
had not committed any crime and there was no warrant for
her arrest.
After evaluating the respective evidence of the parties, the
trial court rendered a decision[2] on November 30, 2004 finding
Taurak and Mamantak guilty as charged:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding


both accused LIKAD SARAPIDA TAURAK and accused
RAGA SARAPIDA [MAMANTAK] GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Kidnapping for
Ransom as amended by RA No. 7659 and both are
hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION
PERPETUA. Both accused are hereby jointly and
severally ordered to pay the Christopher Basario
represented by the mother, [Ma.] Teresa Basario the
amount of PHP50,000.00 as compensatory damages
and PHP50,000.00 as moral damages. With costs
against the accused.

Both accused are given credit for the preventive


imprisonment undergone by them during the
pendency of this case.

SO ORDERED.[3]
Taurak and Mamantak appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a
decision[4] dated March 31, 2006, the appellate court ruled
that the trial court erred in not considering the demand for
P30,000 as a demand for ransom. Such circumstance required
the imposition of the death penalty. Thus, the appellate court
affirmed the conviction of Taurak and Mamantak with
modification amending the penalty from reclusion perpetua to
death.[5] Pursuant to Section 13, Rule 124 as amended by
Administrative Matter No. 00-5-03-SC, the appellate court
certified the case to this Court and accordingly ordered the
elevation of the records.[6]

We affirm the Court of Appeals, with a modification of penalty.

Kidnapping is defined and punished under Article 267 of the


Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act (RA) 7659:
ART. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
Any private individual who shall kidnap or detain
another, or in any other manner deprive him of his
liberty, shall suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua
to death.

1. If the kidnapping or detention shall have


lasted more than three days.

2. If it shall have been committed simulating


public authority.

3. If any serious physical injuries shall have


been inflicted upon the person kidnapped or
detained; or if threats to kill him shall have been
made.
4. If the person kidnapped or detained shall
be a minor, except when the accused is any of
the parents, female or a public officer.

The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or


detention was committed for the purpose of extorting
ransom from the victim or any other person, even if
none of the circumstances above-mentioned were
present in the commission of the offense.

When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of


the detention or is raped, or is subjected to torture or
dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be
imposed.

The crime has the following elements:


(1) the offender is a private individual; not either of
the parents of the victim[7] or a public officer who
has a duty under the law to detain a person;[8]
(2) he kidnaps or detains another, or in any manner
deprives the latter of his liberty;
(3) the act of detention or kidnapping must be illegal
and
(4) in the commission of the offense, any of the
following circumstances is present: (a) the
kidnapping or detention lasts for more than three
days; (b) it is committed by simulating public
authority; (c) any serious physical injuries are
inflicted upon the person kidnapped or detained or
threats to kill him are made or (d) the person
kidnapped or detained is a minor, female or a
public official.

If the victim is a minor, the duration of his detention is


immaterial. Likewise, if the victim is kidnapped and illegally
detained for the purpose of extorting ransom, the duration of
his detention becomes inconsequential. The crime is qualified
and becomes punishable by death even if none of the
circumstances mentioned in paragraphs 1 to 4 of Article 267
of the Revised Penal Code is present.[9]

The essence of the crime of kidnapping is the actual


deprivation of the victims liberty coupled with the intent of the
accused to effect it.[10] It includes not only the imprisonment of
a person but also the deprivation of his liberty in whatever
form and for whatever length of time.[11] And liberty is not
limited to mere physical restraint but embraces ones right to
enjoy his God-given faculties subject only to such restraints
necessary for the common welfare.[12]

The two-year-old Christopher suddenly disappeared in


Binondo, Manila and was recovered only after almost 16
months from Taurak and Mamantak (both of them private
individuals) in Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte. During the entire
time the boy was kept away from his mother, he was certainly
deprived or restrained of his liberty. He had no means,
opportunity or capacity to leave appellants custody and return
to his family on his own. He had no choice but to stay with
total strangers, go with them to a far away place and learn a
culture and dialect alien to him. At such a very tender age, he
was deprived of the liberty to enjoy the company and care of
his family, specially his mother.

Taurak unlawfully kept the child under her control and custody
and even brought him to Lanao del Norte. She demanded
P30,000 in exchange for his return to his mother. On the other
hand, Mamantaks actions (e.g., her presence in the carinderia
and her acceptance of the ransom) showed without doubt that
she was aiding her sister and was acting in concert with her.
These were the identical factual findings of both the trial and
appellate courts. There is no reason to disturb them as they
are sufficiently supported by evidence.

Tauraks story that she merely gave Christopher refuge was


incredible. It was like the apocryphal tale of a man accused of
theft of large cattle; his excuse was that he saw a piece of
rope and brought it home not knowing that there was a cow
tied to the other end. She never even tried to bring the boy to
the proper authorities or surrender him to the Department of
Social Welfare and Developments social workers in her
barangay or in the city hall at any time during the 16 months
he was with her. And how could Teresa have initiated her
phone conversations with Taurak when they were total
strangers to each other?

Similarly, Mamantaks account that she was at Pitangs


Carinderia only by coincidence and that it was only there that
she first saw Christopher invites nothing but disbelief. The
unequivocal testimonies of the prosecution witnesses on her
role in arranging for the payment of ransom and the release of
the kidnap victim (e.g., confirming the identity of Teresa and
demanding and receiving the ransom money) showed
otherwise. The evidence clearly established that Mamantak
was a principal in the kidnapping of Christopher.

Evidence to be believed must not only proceed from the


mouth of a credible witness but must be credible in itself.[13]
The trial and appellate courts correctly ruled that the
statements of Taurak and Mamantak did not deserve
credence. Moreover, factual findings of the trial court,
including its assessment of the credibility of the witnesses and
the probative weight thereof, are accorded great, if not
conclusive, value when affirmed by the Court of Appeals.[14]
The Court of Appeals considered the demand for P30,000 as a
qualifying circumstance which necessitated the imposition of
the death penalty. On the other hand, the trial court deemed
the amount as too measly, compared to what must have been
actually spent for the care and subsistence of Christopher for
almost two years. It therefore treated the amount not as
ransom but as a reimbursement of expenses incurred for
taking care of the child. (Kidnappers in Mindanao today call it
reimbursement for board-and-lodging.)

Ransom means money, price or consideration paid or


demanded for the redemption of a captured person that will
release him from captivity.[15] No specific form of ransom is
required to consummate the felony of kidnapping for ransom
as long as the ransom is intended as a bargaining chip in
exchange for the victims freedom.[16] The amount of and
purpose for the ransom is immaterial.

In this case, the payment of P30,000 was demanded as a


condition for the release of Christopher to his mother. Thus,
the Court of Appeals correctly considered it as a demand for
ransom.

One final point of law. While the penalty for kidnapping for the
purpose of extorting ransom from the victim or any other
person under Article 267 of the Revised Penal Code[17] is
death, RA 9346[18] has banned the death penalty and reduced
all death sentences to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for
parole. Pursuant to this law, we reduce the penalty imposed
on appellants from death to reclusion perpetua, without
eligibility for parole.

In line with prevailing jurisprudence, the award of P50,000


civil indemnity[19] was proper. Pursuant to People v. Garalde,[20]
the award of P50,000[21] moral damages is increased to
P200,000 considering the minority of Christopher. Moreover,
since the crime was attended by a demand for ransom, and by
way of example or correction, Christopher is entitled to
P100,000 exemplary damages.[22]

WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby DENIED. The March 31,


2006 decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.
00729 is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Appellants Raga
Sarapida Mamantak and Likad Sarapida Taurak are hereby
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
kidnapping for ransom for which they are sentenced to suffer
the penalty of reclusion perpetua without eligibility for parole.
They are further ordered to pay, jointly and severally, P50,000
civil indemnity, P200,000 moral damages and P100,000
exemplary damages to their young victim Christopher Basario.

Costs against appellants.

Endnotes:
[1]
In some parts of the records, PO2.
[2]
Penned by Acting Presiding Judge Amor A. Reyes of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 43. Court of Appeals Records, pp. 23-39.
[3]
Id.
[4]
Penned by Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios (deceased) and concurred in by Mario
L. Guaria III and Santiago Javier Ranada (retired) of the Fifth Division of the Court
of Appeals. Rollo, pp. 2-20.
[5]
Id.
[6]
Id.
[7]
When the victim is a minor and the accused is any of the parents, the crime is
defined and penalized under the second paragraph of Article 271 of the Revised
Penal Code.
[8]
A public officer (such as policeman) who has a duty under the law to detain a person
but detains a person without legal ground is liable for arbitrary detention defined
and penalized under Article 124 of the Revised Penal Code. Thus, a public officer
who has no legal duty to detain a person may be prosecuted for illegal detention
and kidnapping.
[9]
People v. Jatulan, G.R. No. 171653, 24 April 2007, 522 SCRA 174.
[10]
Id.
[11]
Id.
[12]
See Rubi v. Provincial Board of Mindoro, 39 Phil. 660 (1919).
[13]
People v. Alba, 326 Phil. 519 (1996).
[14]
People v. Garalde, G.R. No. 173055, 13 April 2007, 521 SCRA 327.
[15]
People v. Jatulan, supra.
[16]
Id.
[17]
As amended by RA 7659.
[18]
An Act Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the Philippines.
[19]
See People v. Solangon, G.R. No. 172693, 21 November 2007; People v. Yambot, 397
Phil. 23, (2000).
[20]
Supra note 12.
[21]
See People v. Solangon, supra; People v. Baldogo, 444 Phil. 35, 66 (2003); People v.
Garcia, 424 Phil. 158, 194 (2002).
[22]
Id.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 181043


Appellee,

Present:
- versus - QUISUMBING, J.,
Chairperson,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
VELASCO, JR., and
MILLANO MUIT, SERGIOcralaw BRION, JJ.
PANCHO, JR., EDUARDO
HERMANO ALIAS BOBBY
REYES, ROLANDO DEQUILLO, Promulgated:
ROMEO PANCHO, and JOSEPH
FERRAER, October 8, 2008
Appellants.

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

Millano Muit y Munoz (Muit), Sergio Pancho y Cagumoc, Jr. (Pancho,


Jr.), Rolando Dequillo y Tampos (Dequillo), Romeo Pancho (Romeo),
Eduardo Eddie Hermano alias Bobby Reyes alias Eddie Reyes
(Hermano), and Joseph Ferraer (Ferraer) were charged with
kidnapping for ransom with homicide[1] and carnapping[2] in two
separate informations. Only Muit, Pancho Jr., Dequillo, Romeo, and
Ferraer were arrested and stood trial. However, Ferraer was
discharged from the criminal cases by the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
and was utilized as a state witness.[3] All appellants pleaded not guilty
during their arraignments.

cralawThe facts as culled from the records are as follows:


cralaw
In the afternoon of 11 November 1997, Orestes Julaton, (Julaton), a
relative of Ferraer, arrived at the latters house in Kaylaway, Nasugbu,
Batangas with Sergio Pancho, Sr. (Pancho, Sr.), Pancho, Jr., Dequillo
and four other men on board a gray Mitsubishi car with plate number
PSV-818. Julaton introduced them to Ferraer and told the latter that
Pancho, Sr. is also their relative. Pancho, Sr. told Ferraer that they
wanted to use his house as a safehouse for their visitor. Ferraer was
hesitant at first as he thought it was risky for him and his family.
Hermano told Ferraer not to worry because they are not killers; their
line of work is kidnap for ransom. Ferraer was assured that the money
they will get would be shared equally among them. Ferraer and
Pancho, Sr. would guard their victim. Later, five other men came and
they were introduced to Ferraer as Muit, Morales, alias Tony, alias
David and alias Puri. They had dinner and chatted until midnight.
That evening, Morales handed to Ferraer for safekeeping a folded
carton wrapped with masking tape contained in a big paper bag, and
a green backpack. Hermano told Ferraer that the package contained
guns. Ferraer brought the package inside his room; he inspected the
contents before placing them under the bed, and saw that the carton
contained a shotgun and the green backpack, an Ingram folding.
Morales and Udon also showed him their .45 caliber guns tucked at
their waists.[4]

At one oclock in the afternoon of 24 November 1997, Ferraer saw


Pancho, Jr., and Hermano with a companion, seated under the tree in
front of his house. Pancho, Jr. introduced their companion as Romeo.
They informed Ferraer that the following day, they would proceed
with their plan. Romeo would be the informant since he is an insider
and a trusted general foreman of the victim. The next day, at nine
oclock in the morning, Pancho, Sr. arrived at Ferraers house alone
and asked Ferraer if he was already informed of the plan. Ferraer
replied in the affirmative. Pancho, Sr. told him to wait for the groups
return. However, the group returned without the intended victim
because the latter did not show up at the construction site.[5] On 2
December 1997, the group received a call from Romeo informing
them that the victim was already at the construction site. Hermano,
Morales, Udon, Manuel, Bokbok, and Muit commuted to the
construction site at Barangay Darasa, Tanauan, Batangas. Pancho, Jr.
was on board the Mitsubishi car as back-up.
cralaw
At around two oclock in the afternoon of the same date, 2 December
1997, Roger Seraspe (Seraspe), the personal driver of the victim,
drove a blue Pajero with plate number UDL-746 carrying Engr. Ruth
Roldan and the victim to visit the Flexopac project site at Barangay
Darasa, Tanauan, Batangas. At the site, Engr. Roldan and the victim
alighted from the Pajero and, along with Engr. Ed dela Cruz, toured
the construction site. Seraspe talked with Armand Chavez (Chavez),
the warehouseman of ILO Construction, while waiting for his boss.[6]

After the site inspection, the three engineers walked towards the
direction of the Pajero. Seraspe was surprised to see that the three
engineers who stood together suddenly lay prostrate on the ground.
Seraspe and Chavez saw an unidentified man standing near the three
engineers. Three more armed men surrounded the Pajero. Two of
them approached Seraspe and Chavez. One of the armed men, Muit,
poked a gun at Seraspe and ordered him and Chavez to lay prostrate
on the ground.[7] The assailants dragged the victim towards the
Pajero. They forced the victim to order Seraspe to give them the keys
to the Pajero. When the victim was already on board the Pajero,
Seraspe heard one of them say, Sarge, nandito na ang ating pakay.[8]

They then started the Pajero and drove away, passing through the
Pag-asa Road gate. Two more persons who were waiting at the Pag-
asa road boarded the Pajero.[9]

At 2:30 that same afternoon, Lipa City Deputy Chief of Police, Supt.
Arcadio Mission (Supt. Mission) received a radio message from the
Tanauan Police Station that a kidnapping was ongoing and the
kidnappers on board a Pajero with plate number UDL-746 were
heading towards Lipa City. Supt. Mission immediately ordered the
police posted near the Lipa City bus stop to put up a barricade. In the
meantime, two teams were organized to intercept the Pajero. They
proceeded to the barricade.[10]

Right after Supt. Mission and the teams arrived at the barricade, the
Pajero was spotted. When policemen flagged down the Pajero, the
driver stopped the vehicle. While two policemen approached the
Pajero, the driver and front passenger opened their car doors and
started firing at the policemen. At this point, all the policemen
present at the scene fired back. The cross-fire lasted for around four
minutes. All the occupants of the Pajero, except the driver and the
front passenger who managed to escape, died. SPO1 Rolando Cariaga
apprehended one of the escapees who turned out to be Muit, the
driver of the Pajero, at Barangay San Carlos, Batangas, about 200
meters from the place of the shootout.[11]
On the other hand, after the assailants carried their plan into action,
Pancho, Jr. proceeded to their agreed meeting place but did not find
Hermanos group there. Pancho, Jr. waited along the highway in front
of the construction site. He thought that he had been left behind
when he did not see the group, so he left. When Pancho, Jr. returned
to Ferraers house, he told Ferraer what happened to their operation.
Worried that something bad might have happened to the group,
Pancho, Jr. went back and looked for the rest of his group. Pancho, Jr.
came back alone.

At around 5:30 in the morning of 3 December 1997, Ferraer saw


Pancho, Sr. and Pancho, Jr. watching the TV program Alas Singko y
Medya. He joined them and saw on the news the Pajero riddled with
bullets. Pancho, Sr. and Pancho, Jr. left Ferraers house at around 9:00
in the morning and they also left behind the Mitsubishi car they used.
That night, Ferraer saw on the news program TV Patrol a footage
showing the cadavers of Udon, Morales, Manuel, Bokbok and the
victim, and the Pajero riddled with bullets. Ferraer also saw Muit in
handcuffs.

The prosecution presented Ignacio Ong, Sr., the father of the victim
Engr. Ignacio Ong, Jr.; Seraspe; Chavez; Dr. Anthony Llamas, the PNP
Medico-Legal Officer who conducted the autopsy; Supt. Mission,
Ferraer, as the state witness; and Atty. Narzal Mallare[12] (Atty.
Mallare), the lawyer who assisted appellants Pancho, Jr. and Dequillo
in executing their respective sworn statements as witnesses. Their
accounts were corroborated by the prosecutions documentary
evidence such as the extra judicial confessions of Pancho, Jr. and
Dequillo, which were executed with the assistance of Atty. Mallare.
Muit executed two extra judicial confessions: the first statement was
dated 4 December 1997, in which he was assisted by Atty. Ernesto
Vergara, and the second statement was dated 7 December 1997 in
which he was assisted by Atty. Solomon De Jesus and witnessed by his
uncle, Bonifacio Muit (Bonifacio), and his brother, Dominador Muit
(Dominador). On the other hand, the defense presented appellants
Dequillo, Pancho, Jr., and Muit.

Dequillo, for his part, claimed that for the period of November to
December 1997 he was working as a mason at Villanueva
Construction in BF Homes. His work starts at 8:00 in the morning and
ends at 5:00 in the afternoon. He stated that on 8 December 1997, he
was arrested by the CIDG at his house in Purok Sto. Domingo,
Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City. At the CIDG Detention Center, he
was questioned about the guns used in the kidnapping of the victim.
He was allegedly tortured when he denied any knowledge about the
kidnapping and was forced to sign a statement without being allowed
to read it. Atty. Mallare only came in after he had already signed the
statement. He denied any participation in the crimes charged against
him.[13]

Pancho, Jr. claimed that he was arrested on 7 December 1997 in


Calbayog, Samar. He was first brought to the Calbayog City Police
Station, and then transferred to Camp Crame. He alleged that the
police tortured him and forced him to sign the written confession of
his participation in the crimes. He denied having participated in the
commission of the offenses charged against him.[14]

On the other hand, Muit claimed that on 2 December 1997 he was in


Lipa City, near the place of the shootout. He had just attended a
gathering of the Rizalistas and was waiting for his uncle Bonifacio
when the police arrested him. He denied having any knowledge of the
crime. He denied knowing the people whose name appeared in his
two extra judicial confessions. He claimed that the names were
supplied by the police and that he was not assisted by counsel during
the custodial investigation.[15]
In a decision[16] dated 22 November 2002, the RTC, Branch 83 of
Tanauan City, Batangas found Muit, Pancho, Jr., Dequillo, and Romeo
guilty.[17] Only the cases involving the charges of carnapping and
kidnapping for ransom which resulted in the death of the victim were
automatically appealed to this Court.

The RTC held that mere denials and alibis of appellants cannot prevail
over the positive declarations of the prosecutions witnesses. It found
the prosecutions witnesses more credible than appellants, whose self-
serving statements were obviously intended to exculpate themselves
from criminal liability. The RTC did not give credence to the claims of
appellants that their extra judicial confessions were procured through
torture as these were belied by the testimony of Atty. Mallare and
appellants medical certificates which were issued during their
incarceration and after the execution of their statements. And the RTC
noted that even without appellants extra judicial confessions, there
was still sufficient evidence on record to hold them guilty.

In a resolution dated 17 January 2006, the Court referred the case to


the Court of Appeals for intermediate review.[18]

The Court of Appeals in a decision[19] dated 31 August 2007 affirmed


the decision of the RTC.[20] The appellate court held that the RTC was
correct in convicting appellants for kidnapping and carnapping. The
prosecution was able to prove through Ferraer that appellants
conspired with one another in the planning and execution of their
plan to kidnap the victim. Moreover, appellants executed extra
judicial confessions, duly assisted by their counsels, detailing their
participation in the kidnapping. As for Muit, other than his extra
judicial confession, he was also positively identified during the
kidnapping by eyewitnesses Seraspe and Chavez. Appellants filed
their notices of appeal with the Court of Appeals.

Before this Court, appellants opted not to file supplemental briefs,


and instead adopted the assignment of errors in their respective
original briefs.[21] Taken together, appellants claim that: (i) the RTC
erred in finding them guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the charges
against them; (ii) the RTC erred in its finding that they acted in
conspiracy in the commission of the crimes charged against them;
and (iii) the RTC erred in giving credence to the extra-judicial
confessions of Pancho, Jr. and Dequillo, and to the sworn statement
and testimony of Ferraer in convicting them.[22]

The appeals are bereft of merit.


The elements of the crime of kidnapping and serious illegal
detention[23] are the following: (a) the accused is a private individual;
(b) the accused kidnaps or detains another, or in any manner
deprives the latter of his liberty; (c) the act of detention or kidnapping
is illegal; and (d) in the commission of the offense, any of the four
circumstances mentioned in Article 267 is present. The essence of
the crime of kidnapping is the actual deprivation of the victims
liberty, coupled with indubitable proof of intent of the accused to
effect the same.[24] The totality of the prosecutions evidence in this
case established the commission of kidnapping for ransom with
homicide.
On the other hand, Republic Act No. 6539, or the Anti-Carnapping
Act, as amended, defines carnapping as the taking, with intent to
gain, of a motor vehicle belonging to another without the latters
consent, or by means of violence against or intimidation of persons,
or by using force upon things.[25] The crime was committed in this
case when the victims Pajero was forcibly taken away from him
contemporaneously with his kidnapping at the construction site.

The kidnapping for ransom with homicide and the carnapping were
established by the direct testimony of Ferraer, Seraspe and Chavez.
Ferraer testified on how the group approached and convinced him to
let them use his house to keep the victim they planned to kidnap.
They planned the crime in Ferraers house and waited for the call from
Romeo to inform them when the victim would be at the construction
site. The group received a call from Romeo on 2 December 1997
informing them that the victim was already at the construction site,
and so they went there to carry out their plan. At the construction
site, as testified to by Seraspe and Chavez, Muit and the other
members of the group pointed their guns at the victim and his
companion and ordered them to lie prostrate on the ground. After
getting the keys to the Pajero from Seraspe, they forced the victim to
board the vehicle with Muit driving it. They immediately reported the
kidnapping of the victim to the police and the kidnappers were
intercepted by the group led by Supt. Mission. Supt. Mission testified
that the kidnappers refused to surrender and engaged the police in a
shoot out in which the victim was among the casualties. Muit was one
of the two persons who survived the shoot out, but was apprehended
by the police. Pancho, Jr. returned to the house of Ferraer alone when
the group did not arrive at their meeting place. Ferraer, Pancho, Jr.,
and Pancho, Sr. learned from the news that the group engaged the
police in a shoot out and most of them were killed, and that Muit was
arrested by the police.

After investigation, the police were able to apprehend appellants


Pancho, Jr., Romeo, and Dequillo who all took part in the botched
criminal conspiracy to kidnap the victim. During the investigation,
Pancho, Jr., Dequillo, and Muit, with the assistance of their counsels
and family members, executed extra judical confessions divulging
their respective roles in the planning and execution of the crimes.
Even though Pancho, Jr., Dequillo and Romeo did not participate in
the actual abduction of the victim, they should still be held liable, as
the courts below did, because of the existence of conspiracy.
Conspiracy is a unity of purpose and intention in the commission of a
crime.[26] Where conspiracy is established, the precise modality or
extent of participation of each individual conspirator becomes
secondary since the act of one is the act of all.[27] The degree of
actual participation in the commission of the crime is immaterial.

The conspiracy to kidnap the victim was proven through


circumstantial evidence. The group thoroughly planned the
kidnapping in Ferraers house and patiently waited for the day when
the victim would be at the construction site. Then on 2 December
1997, the group received a call from Romeo so they proceeded to the
construction site and carried out their plan.

All the appellants took active part in the criminal conspiracy and
performed different roles to consummate their common plan. The
roles which Muit and his other companions played in the actual
abduction were described earlier. As for Dequillo, he was the one who
procured the guns used by the group. Pancho, Jr. served as the driver
of the back-up vehicle, and Romeo was the groups informant.

Section 4, Rule 133 of the Revised Rules of Evidence states that


circumstantial evidence is sufficient if: (a) there is more than one
circumstance; (b) the facts from which the inferences are derived are
proven; and (c) the combination of all the circumstances is such as to
produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

The extra judicial confessions of Pancho, Jr., Dequillo, and Muit


strengthened the case against them. There is nothing on record to
support appellants claim that they were coerced and tortured into
executing their extra judicial confessions. One of the indicia of
voluntariness in the execution of appellants extra judicial statements
is that each contains many details and facts which the investigating
officers could not have known and could not have supplied, without
the knowledge and information given by appellants. Moreover, the
appellants were assisted by their lawyers when they executed their
statements. Atty. Mallare testified that Pancho, Jr. and Dequillo
executed their statements voluntarily and affixed their signatures
after he talked with them alone and informed them of their
constitutional rights.[28] Muit, on the other hand, was assisted by
counsels in each instance when he executed his two extra judicial
confessions; his second statement was even witnessed by his uncle,
Bonifacio, and his brother, Dominador. Muit cannot just conveniently
disclaim any knowledge of the contents of his extra judicial
confession. Nevertheless, in Muits case, he was also positively
identified by Seraspe and Chavez as the one who pointed a gun at
them during the kidnapping and ordered them to lay prostrate on the
ground.[29]
Appellants claims of torture are not supported by medical certificates
from the physical examinations done on them.[30] These claims of
torture were mere afterthoughts as they were raised for the first time
during trial; appellants did not even inform their family members who
visited them while they were imprisoned about the alleged tortures.
[31]
Dequillo, for his part, also had the opportunity to complain of the
alleged torture done to him to the Department of Justice when he was
brought there.[32] Claims of torture are easily concocted, and cannot
be given credence unless substantiated by competent and
independent corroborating evidence.[33]

The extra judicial confessions of Pancho, Jr., Dequillo, and Muit also
strengthened the prosecutions case against Romeo. The rule that an
extra judicial confession is evidence only against the person making it
recognizes various exceptions. One such exception is where several
extra judicial statements had been made by several persons charged
with an offense and there could have been no collusion with reference
to said several confessions, the fact that the statements are in all
material respects identical is confirmatory of the confession of the co-
defendants and is admissible against other persons implicated therein.
They are also admissible as circumstantial evidence against the
person implicated therein to show the probability of the latters actual
participation in the commission of the crime and may likewise serve as
corroborative evidence if it is clear from other facts and circumstances
that other persons had participated in the perpetration of the crime
charged and proved. These are known as interlocking confessions.[34]
Nonetheless, the RTC, in convicting Romeo, relied not only on the
aforesaid extra judicial statements but also on Ferraers testimony that
Romeo was introduced to him in his house as the informant when they
were planning the kidnapping.
As for the penalty, the RTC did not err in imposing the penalty of death
since the kidnapping was committed for the purpose of extorting
ransom from the victim or any other person. Neither actual demand
for nor payment of ransom is necessary for the consummation of the
felony. It is sufficient that the deprivation of liberty was for the
purpose of extorting ransom even if none of the four circumstances
mentioned in Article 267 were present in its perpetration.[35] The death
of the victim as a result of the kidnapping only serves as a generic
aggravating circumstance for the rule is that when more than one
qualifying circumstances are proven, the others must be considered as
generic aggravating circumstances.[36]

The imposition of death penalty is also proper in the carnapping of the


victims Pajero because it was committed by a band, which serves as a
generic aggravating circumstance, without any mitigating
[37]
circumstance. There is band whenever more than three armed
malefactors shall have acted together in the commission of the
offense.[38] As planned, Muit and three other armed men kidnapped the
victim and drove away with the latters Pajero while two more persons
waiting near the Pag-asa road boarded the Pajero.

However, pursuant to Republic Act No. 9346 which prohibits the


imposition of the death penalty, the penalties imposed are commuted
to reclusion perpetua with all its accessory penalties and without
eligibility for parole under Act No. 4103.[39]
cralaw
As to damages, the RTC erred in awarding compensation for loss of
earning capacity. Pursuant to jurisprudence, the Court precludes an
award for loss of earning capacity without adequate proof as it
partakes of the nature of actual damages.[40] The bare testimony of
the father of the deceased that, at the time of his death, the victim
was earning
P5,000.00 per month as an engineer is not sufficient proof.[41] But
pursuant to the Courts ruling in People v. Abrazaldo[42] wherein we
deemed it proper to award temperate damages in the amount of
P25,000.00 in cases where evidence confirms the heirs entitlement to
actual damages but the amount of actual damages cannot be
determined because of the absence of supporting and duly presented
receipts, the Court awards P25,000.00 temperate damages to the
heirs of the victim in the present case.

The civil indemnity should be increased to P75,000.00.[43] The award


of civil indemnity may be granted without any need of proof other
than the death of the victim.[44] In line with jurisprudence, the moral
damages should also be increased to P 500,000.00.[45]

Moreover, exemplary damages in the amount of P100,000.00 for the


crime of kidnapping for ransom with homicide[46] and P25,000.00 for
the crime of carnapping should be awarded. The law allows
exemplary damages in criminal cases as part of the civil liability of
the malefactors when the crime is attended by one or more
aggravating circumstances.[47]

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC


No. 02044 which commuted the death penalties imposed in Criminal
Case Nos. P-521 and P-607 to reclusion perpetua without eligibility for
parole is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATIONS that the
compensation for loss of earning capacity be deleted while the civil
indemnity be increased to P75,000.00 and the moral damages to
P500,000.00, and that appellants shall also pay the heirs of Ignacio
Earl Ong, Jr. temperate damages of P25,000.00 and exemplary
damages of P100,000.00 for the crime of kidnapping for ransom with
homicide and P25,000.00 for the crime of carnapping. Costs against
appellants.

SO ORDERED.

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

Endnotes:
[1]
Records, pp. 43-44. Crim. Case No. P-521 (for Kidnapping for Ransom
with Homicide).

The undersigned State Prosecutor accuses SERGIO PANCHO y


CAGUMOC, JR., MILLANO MUIT y MUOZ, ROLANDO DEQUILLO y
TAMPOS (all under arrest), JOSEPH FERRAER, EDUARDO EDDIE
HERMANO @ BOBBY REYES/EDDIE REYES and ROMEO PANCHO
DOE (all at-large), and JOHN DOE, RICHARD DOE and PETER DOE
(all-at-large and whose true names and identifies are unknown)
of the crime of KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM WITH HOMICIDE,
defined and penalized under Article 267 of the Revised Penal
Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, committed as
follows:

That on or about December 2, 1997, in the Municipality of Tanauan,


Province of Batangas, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, above-named accused, being then private
individuals, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping
one another, acting in common accord with Sammy Pansoy
@ Bukbok, @Morales, @Manuel Alfon and @Felipe Macalla
(all deceased), and John Doe, Richard Doe and Peter Doe
(whose true names and identities are unknown) while armed
with high powered firearms, did then and there, willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously, kidnap, detain and abduct by
force, threat and intimidation and deprive IGNACIO ONG, JR.,
of his liberty for the purpose of [extorting] ransom from his
family in exchange for the latters liberty and as a
consequenc[e] or on the occasion of the said kidnapping
and detention, the said IGNACIO ONG, JR. was killed, to the
damage and prejudice of his heirs.

cralawcralaw CONTRARY TO LAW.


[2]
CA rollo, pp. 6-7. Crim. Case No. P-607 (for Carnapping).

The undersigned Special Counsel accuses Millano Muit y Munoz


alias Emi, Eduardo Eddie Hermano alias Bobby Reyes alias Eddie
Ryes, Sergio Pancho y Cagumoc, Jr., Rolando Dequillo y Tampos,
Romeo Pancho and Joseph Ferraer of the crime of Carnapping,
defined and penalized under Republic Act No. 6539, otherwise
known as the Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972[,] as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659, committed as follows:

cralawThat on the 2nd day of December 1997, at about 2:00


oclock in the afternoon, at Barangay Darasa, Municipality of
Tanauan, Province of Batangas, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
together with one John Doe, one Peter Doe, one Richard Doe and
one alias Rocky Reyes whose identities and whereabouts are still
unknown, armed with firearms, conspiring and confederating
together, acting in common accord and mutually helping one
another, with intent to gain and without the knowledge and
consent of the owner thereof, did then and there [willfully],
unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and carry away one (1)
Mitsubishi Pajero with Plate No. UDL-746 with an undetermined
amount, owned by Ignacio Ong, Jr., to the damage and prejudice
of aforesaid owner and/or his heirs.

cralaw[CONTRARY TO LAW].
[3]
Records, p. 308.
[4]
TSN, 23 November 1999, pp. 16-22; 6 July 2000, pp. 3-6.
[5]
TSN, 6 July 2000, pp. 8-11.
[6]
TSN, 31 March 1998, pp. 4-5; 13 April 1998, pp. 4-5.
[7]
TSN, 31 March 1998, pp. 6-7, 9-10; 13 April 1998, pp. 6-7, 9-10.
[8]
TSN, 31 March 1998, pp. 7-8.
[9]
TSN, 13 April 1998, pp. 8-10.
[10]
TSN, 21 July 1998, pp. 3-7.
[11]
Id. at 8-11, 20, 23-24.
[12]
See TSN, 11 February 1999.
[13]
TSN, 6 March 2001, pp. 6-14.
[14]
TSN, 27 March 2001, pp. 2-9.
[15]
TSN, 13 November 2001, pp. 3-11.
[16]
CA rollo, pp. 200-219.
[17]
Id. at 218-219. Penned by Judge Voltaire Rosales. The dispositive
portion of the decision reads as follows:
cralawWHEREFORE, this Court finds accused MILLANO MUIT Y
MUNOZ, SERGIO PANCHO Y CAGUMOC[,] JR., ROLANDO
DEQUILLO Y TARIPOS, AND ROMEO PANCHO, GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of KIDNAPPING FOR RANSOM[,] resulting in the
death of Ignacio Earl Ong, Jr., punished under Article 267 of the
Revised Penal Code[,] as amended by Republic Act [No.] 7659,
and sentences all the accused to suffer the penalty of DEATH.

The accused are further directed to pay heirs of the victim


Ignacio Earl Ong[,] Jr. an indemnity of FIFTY THOUSAND
(P50,000.00) PESOS, actual damages in the amount of TWO
MILLION TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND (P2,200,000.00) PESOS, and
moral damages in the amount of TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND
(P200,000.00) PESOS, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of
insolvency.

cralawIn Criminal Case No. P-607, this Court finds the accused
MILLANO MUIT Y MUNOZ, SERGIO PANCHO Y CAGUMOC[,] JR.,
ROLANDO DEQUILLO Y TARIPOS AND ROMEO PANCHO, GUILTY
beyond reasonable doubt of CARNAPPING punished under
Republic Act [No.] 6539, and sentences all the accused to suffer
the penalty of DEATH.

cralawIn Criminal Cases Nos. P-534 and P-535, this Court finds
the accused MILLANO MUIT Y MUNOZ guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of ROBBERY with violence against or intimidation of
persons, punished under Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code,
and sentences accused to an indeterminate penalty of two years
and six months of prision correccional, as minimum, up to eight
years and six months of prision mayor, as maximum. MILLANO
MUIT is also directed to pay actual damages of P18,875.00 to the
offended parties.

cralawThe custodians of the accused MIL[L]ANO MUIT Y MUNOZ,


SERGIO PANCHO Y CAGUMOC[,] JR., ROLANDO DEQUILLO Y
TARIPOS AND ROMEO PANCHO are directed to immediately
transfer detention of the accused to the National Penitentiary in
the City of Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.

cralawLet the records of Criminal Cases Nos. P-521 and P-607 be


elevated to the Supreme Court for automatic review on appeal.

cralawSO ORDERED.
[18]
Id. at 298-299.
[19]
Rollo, pp. 2-31. Penned by Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, and
concurred in by Associate Justices Andres Reyes, Jr., and Ramon Bato, Jr.
[20]
Id. at 31. The dispositive portion of the decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the November 22, 2002 Decision of the Regional


Trial Court, Branch 83, Tanauan, Batangas, in Criminal Case Nos.
P-521 and P-607, is hereby AFFIRMED except with respect to
the penalty of Death which is hereby reduced to Reclusion
Perpetua in both cases.
cralaw
SO ORDERED.

[21]
Id. at 41-42.
[22]
CA rollo, pp. 92-93; 171-172; 244; 306.
[23]
Art. 267. Kidnapping and serious illegal detention.―Any
private individual who shall kidnap or detain another, or in any
other manner deprive him of his liberty, shall suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua to death.

1. If kidnapping of detention shall have lasted more than three


days.
2. If it shall have been committed simulating public authority.
3. If any serious physical injuries shall have been inflicted upon
the person kidnapped or detained; or if threats to kill him shall
have been made.
4. If the person kidnapped or detained shall be a minor, except
when the accused is any of the parents, female or a public
officer.

The penalty shall be death where the kidnapping or


detention was committed for the purposes of extorting
ransom from the victim or any other person, even if none of the
circumstances abovementioned were present in the commission
of the offense.

When the victim is killed or dies as a consequence of the


detention or is raped, or is subjected to torture or
dehumanizing acts, the maximum penalty shall be imposed.
(As amended by Sec. 8, Republic Act No. 7659.) (Emphasis
supplied.)

[24]
People v. Borromeo, 323 SCRA 547 (2000).
[25]
Republic Act No. 6539, Anti-Carnapping Act of 1972:

Sec. 2.cralawDefinition of terms.The terms "carnapping," "motor


vehicle," "defacing or tampering with," "repainting," "body-
building," "remodeling," "defacing or tampering," and
"overhauling," as used in this Act, shall be understood,
respectively, to mean -

"Carnapping" is the taking, with intent to gain, of a motor vehicle


belonging to another without the latter's consent, or by means of
violence against or intimidation of persons, or by using force
upon things.

xxxx

Sec. 14. Penalty for Carnapping.Any person who is found guilty


of carnapping, as this term is defined in Section Two of this Act,
shall, irrespective of the value of motor vehicle taken, be
punished by imprisonment for not less than fourteen years and
eight months and not more than seventeen years and four
months, when the carnapping is committed without violence or
intimidation of persons, or force upon things, and by
imprisonment for not less than seventeen years and four months
and not more than thirty years, when the carnapping is
committed by means of violence against or intimidation of any
person, or force upon things; and the penalty of reclusion
perpetua to death shall be imposed when the owner,
driver or occupant of the carnapped motor vehicle is
killed or raped in the course of the commission of the
carnapping or on the occasion thereof. (As amended by Sec.
20, Republic Act No. 7659)
[26]
People v. Lising, 349 Phil. 530, 579 (1998).
[27]
People v. Alilio, 311 Phil. 395, 405 (1995).
[28]
TSN, 11 February 1999, pp. 8-13, 17-20.
[29]
TSN, 31 March 1998, pp. 9-10; 13 April 1998, pp. 9-10.
[30]
TSN, 13 March 2001, pp. 17-18; 27 March 2001, p. 8; 18 June 2001, p.
11.
[31]
TSN, 13 March 2001, pp. 16-18; 18 June 2001, pp. 9-10.
[32]
TSN, 6 March 2001, p. 10.
[33]
See People v. Sinoc, 341 Phil. 355 (1997); People v. Sabiyon, 437 Phil.
594 (2002).
[34]
See People v. Encipido, L-70091, 29 December 1986, 146 SCRA 478,
492, citing People v. Domondon, 43 SCRA 486, 490-491 (1972).
[35]
People v. Salimbago, 373 Phil. 56, 75 (1999).
[36]
People v. Reynes, 423 Phil. 363, 384 (2001) citing People v. Danico, 208
SCRA 472 (1992).
[37]
REVISED PENAL CODE, Art. 63.
[38]
REVISED PENAL CODE, Art. 14. See People v. Lee, G.R. No. 66848, 20
December 1991, 201 SCRA 900, 911; People v. Buka, G.R. Nos. 68311-13,
30 January 1992, 205 SCRA 567, 588; People v. de la Cruz, G.R. No.
102063, 20 January 1993, 217 SCRA 283, 296.
[39]
SEC. 2. In lieu of the death penalty, the following shall be imposed:

(a) the penalty of reclusion perpetua, when the law violated


makes use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the Revised
Penal Code; or

(b) the penalty of life imprisonment, when the law violated


does not make use of the nomenclature of the penalties of the
Revised Penal Code.

Pursuant to the same law, appellant shall not be eligible for


parole under Act No. 4103, otherwise known as the Indeterminate
Sentence Law.
[40]
See People v. Panabang, 424 Phil. 596 (2002); People v. Cuenca, 425
Phil. 722 (2002).
[41]
TSN, 5 March 1998, p. 20.
[42]
445 Phil. 109, 126 (2003). See also People v. Villanueva, 456 Phil. 14, 29
(2003).
[43]
People v. Tubongbanua, G.R. No. 171271, 31 August 2006, 500 SCRA
727, 742-743; People v. Bangcado, 399 Phil. 768, 792 (2000); People v.
SPO1 Lobitania, 437 Phil. 213 (2002). See also People v. Amion, 405 Phil.
917, 934 (2001); People v. Court of Appeals, 405 Phil. 247, 269 (2001);
citing People v. Pedroso, G.R. No. 125120, July 19, 2000; People v. Go-od,
387 Phil. 628 (2000); People v. Rosalino Flores, 385 Phil. 159 (2000);
People v. Mindanao, 390 Phil. 510 (2000); People v. Quijon, 382 Phil. 339
(2000); People v. Buluran, 382 Phil. 364 (2000).
[44]
People v. Concepcion, 409 Phil. 173, 189 (2001), citing People v. De
Vera, 312 SCRA 640 (1999).
[45]
People v. Deang, et al., 393 Phil. 314 (2000).
[46]
Id. at 336.
[47]
See CIVIL CODE, Art. 2230. See also People v. PO3 Roxas, 457 Phil. 566,
579 (2003), citing People v. Catubig, G.R. No. 137842, 23 August 2001. See
also People v. Bergante, 350 Phil. 275, 292-293 (1998); People v. Reyes,
350 Phil. 683, 699 (1998).

ROBBERY CASES

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 173479


Plaintiff-Appellee, Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


*SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
- versus - AZCUNA, and
GARCIA, JJ.

Promulgated:

JUAN CABBAB, JR., July 12, 2007


Accused-Appellant.
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

GARCIA, J.:

cralawBefore the Court on automatic review is the decision dated


February 22, 2006 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No.
00968 which affirmed, with modification, an earlier decision of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bangued, Abra, Branch 2, in Criminal
Case No. 687, finding appellant Juan Cabbab, Jr., guilty beyond
reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery with Homicide and
Attempted Murder and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of
reclusion perpetua.

cralawPursuant to our pronouncement in People v. Mateowhich


modified the provisions of the Rules of Court insofar as they provide
for direct appeals from the RTC to this Court in cases where the
penalty imposed by the trial court is death, reclusion perpetua or life
imprisonment, this case was earlier referred to the CA, whereat it was
docketed as CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01978, for appropriate action and
disposition.

The Case

cralawIn the court of origin, appellant Juan Cabbab, Jr., along with his
cousin-in-law Segundino Calpito, was charged with the crimes of
Double Murder and Attempted Murder with Robbery in an Information
alleging, as follows:
cralawThat on or about April 22, 1988, in Sitio Kayawkaw,
Barangay Kimmalasag, Municipality of San Isidro, Province of
Abra, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused with the intent to kill,
treachery and evident premeditation, while armed with a
firearm (not-recover), conspiring, confederating and mutually
helping one another, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully
and feloniously assault, attack and shot from ambush
WINNER AGBULOS and EDDIE QUINDASAN, consequently
inflicting thereby multiple gunshot wounds on the different
parts of their bodies, killing Winner Agbulos on the spot and
causing the death of Eddie Quindasan shortly thereafter,
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with
intent to kill, shot William Belmes, said accused having
commenced the execution of Murder by overt acts but were
unable to perform all the acts of execution, which would have
produced the crime of Murder as a consequence thereof, due
to alertness of victim William Belmes to roll and poor
marksmanship of the accused thus prevented his death, then
and there willfully and unlawfully and feloniously, with the
intent of gain, take, steal and carry away the money of
Winner Agbulos in the amount of Twelve Thousand Pesos
(P12,000.00), Philippine currency..

cralawALL CONTRARY TO LAW with the aggravating


circumstance of: (1) uninhabited place.

cralawOn arraignment, appellant Juan Cabbab, Jr. and accused


Segundino Calpito separately entered their pleas of Not Guilty to the
crimes charged. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued, in the course
of which the prosecution presented the oral testimonies of M/Sgt.
Godofredo Tubadeza, a police investigator at Camp Villamor,
Bangued, Abra; PO William Belmes, a member of the Integrated
National Police at the Villaviciosa Police Station; Vidal Agbulos, father
of the victim Winner Agbulos; Dra. Leona Garcia-Beroa, medico-legal
officer who conducted an autopsy on the body of Winner Agbulos; and
Dr. Godofreco Gasa, a physician at the AbraProvincialHospital.
cralawFor its part, the defense presented the appellant himself;
accused Segundino Calpito; and George de Lara, a Forensic Chemist
of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The Evidence

cralawThe Peoples version of the incident is succinctly summarized by


the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in its Appellees Brief, to wit:

cralawIn the morning of 22 April 1988, father and son Vidal


Agbulos and Winner Agbulos, together with Eddie Quindasan,
Felipe Abad and Police Officer (PO) William Belmes, went to
Barangay Kimmalasag, San Isidro, Abra to attend a fiesta
celebration. Upon arrival in the area, they found out that the
fiesta celebration was already over, thus, they decided to go
home in Villaviciosa, Abra. Since it was already lunchtime,
the group took their lunch at Sitio Turod, located in the same
area of Barangay Kimmalasag. After taking their lunch and
on their way home, they were met by accused-appellant Juan
Cabbab, Jr. and Segundino Calpito who invitedthem to play
pepito, a local version of the game of russian poker.

cralawcralawOnly Winner Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan played


pepito with the group of accused-appellant. Winner Agbulos
played the dealer/banker in the game while accused-
appellant and Segundino Calpito acted as players
therein.Around 3:00 oclock p.m., PO William Belmes told
Winner Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan that they should be
going home after three (3) more deals.About 3:30 p.m.,
Winner Agbuloss group wrapped-up the game and were set
for home together with his group.Winner Agbulos won the
game.

cralawcralawWhile walking on their way home from Sitio Turod,


PO William Belmes, who was behind Winner Agbulos and
Eddie Quindasan picking-up guava fruits from a tree, saw
accused-appellant, accused Segundino Calpito and a
companion running up a hill. Suddenly, he heard gunshots
and saw Winner Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan, who were
then walking ahead of the group, hit by the gunfire.
cralawcralawBy instant, PO William Belmes dove into a canal to
save himself from the continuous gunfire of accused-
appellant. PO William Belmes ran towards Vidal Agbulos and
Felipe Abad, who were walking behind the group, and
informed the two that Winner Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan
were ambushed by accused-appellant and Segundino
Calpito.The three (3) proceeded to the crime scene where
they saw the dead body of Winner Agbulos together with
Eddie Quindasan whom they mistook for dead. The three
sought help from the police authorities of Pilar, Abra and
returned to the scene of the crime where they found Eddie
Quindasan who was still alive and who narrated that it was
Juan Cabbab, Jr. and Segundino Calpito who ambused them
and took the money, estimated at P12,000.00, of Winner
Agbuloswhich he won in the card game.Eddie Quindasan was
brought to the Abra Provincial Hospital but died the following
day.

cralawcralawPostmortem examination of Winner Agbulos showed


that the cause ofhis death was cardio respiratory arrest
secondary to hemorrhage due to multiple gunshot wounds.
On the other hand, Eddie Quindasans cause of death was
cardio respiratory arrest secondary to hypovolemic shock
due to multiple gunshot wounds.

cralawFor the defense, appellant himself took the witness stand


claiming that in the morning of April 22, 1988, he went to Palao,
Baddek, Bangued, Abra to visit his friends Romeo, Demetrio and
Restituto, all surnamed Borreta. He stayed there almost the entire day
and left only at around 5:00 p.m. He arrived home in Kimmalasag, San
Isidro, Abra at around 5:30 p.m. He declared that his co-accused
Calpito was not with him that day. He likewise averred that he did not
know prosecution witnesses PO William Belmes and Vidal Agbulos nor
did he know of any motive for them to testify against him.

cralawAppellants co-accused Calpito denied having committed the


crimes charged. He testified that at around 8:30 a.m. of April 22,
1988, he went fishing at Kimmalasag, San Isidro, Abra until 4:00 a.m.
of the following day.

cralawGeorge de Lara, Forensic Chemist of the NBI, testified that he


conducted an examination on the paraffin cast taken from appellant
to determine the presence of gunpowder residue or nitrates on
appellants hands. The results of the said examination showed that
appellant was negative of nitrates. He opined that certain factors may
affect the result of the test such as perspiration, wind velocity,
humidity or the type of gun used. He also theorized that a paraffin
test would yield a negative result if fertilizers or cosmetics are applied
to the hands before the cast is taken.

The Trial Courts Decision

cralawIn a decision dated August 26, 1997, the trial court acquitted
Segundino Calpito but found appellant Juan Cabbab, Jr. guilty of two
crimes, i.e. (1) robbery with double homicide and (2) attempted
murder. Dispositively, the decision reads:

cralawWHEREFORE, the court finds accused Juan Cabbab, Jr.


guilty beyond reasonable doubt of double murder with
robbery or better put, robbery with double homicide and
attempted murder as defined in Art. 248 of the Revised Penal
Code in relation to Art. 294 of the same Code or robbery with
double homicide defined and penalized under Art. 248 in
relation to Art. 6 of the Same Code with aggravating
circumstance of uninhabited place with no mitigating
circumstances and sentences him with the penalty of
reclusion perpetua for each of the killing of Winner Agbulos
and for robbing the said victim after killing him and for the
killing of Eddie Quindasan. The court likewise finds the
accused Juan Cabbab, Jr. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of
the attempted murder defined and penalized in Art. 48 in
relation to Art. 6 of the Revised Penal Code. These offenses
attended by the aggravating circumstance of uninhabited
place with no mitigating circumstances and sentence him to
suffer an indeterminate penalty of FOUR (4) MONTHS and
ONE (1) DAY of arresto mayor as minimum to FOUR (4)
YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS of prision correccional as
maximum.
cralawHe is hereby ordered to pay the heirs of the victims
P50,000.00 for each of them plus P20,000.00 also for each of
them as actual expenses and finally, the amount of
P100,000.00 also for each of them as moral and exemplary
damages and to pay the costs of this suit.

cralawAccused Segundino Calpito is acquitted for


insufficiency of evidence.

cralawSO ORDERED.

cralawThe records of the case were then transmitted to this Court on


automatic review. As stated at the onset hereof, the Court, in its
Resolution of January 17, 2006 and pursuant to its ruling in People v.
Mateo,referred the case and its records to the CA for appropriate
action and disposition, whereat it was docketed as CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
No. 00968.

In a decision dated February 22, 2006, the CA modified the trial courts
decision and found appellant guilty of the special complex crime of
Robbery with Homicide and imposed upon him the penalty of
reclusion perpetua. The CA also affirmed appellants conviction, as well
as the penalty imposed, for the separate crime of attempted murder.
cralaw
cralawFrom the CA, the case was then elevated to this Court for
automatic review. In its Resolution of September 20, 2006, the Court
resolved to require the parties to submit their respective
supplemental briefs.

cralawIn a Manifestation dated November 16, 2006, the OSG, in behalf


of appellee People, informed the Court that it is no longer filing a
supplemental brief and was merely adopting its appellees brief before
the CA as its supplemental brief.

cralawAppellant, on the other hand, filed on December 18, 2006 his


supplemental brief on the lone assigned error, that:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN
REJECTING THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI INTERPOSED BY THE
ACCUSED-APPELLANT, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE VERSION
IS MORE CREDIBLE AND SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE.

cralawInsisting that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond


reasonable doubt, appellant pleads for acquittal. He avers that the
witnesses for the prosecution failed to positively identify him as the
perpetrator of the crime as they did not actually see him shoot the
victims. Appellant also relies on the results of the paraffin test
showing that he was negative of gunpowder nitrates.

cralawThe appeal must fail.

cralawAppellants contention that the witnesses for the prosecution


failed to identify him as the perpetrator of the crime is belied by the
testimony of PO William Belmes, who was with the victims when the
incident happened. We quote from the transcripts of the stenographic
notes:

William Belmes on Re-direct Examination

FISCAL FLORES:

Q.cralawMr. Witness, when you gave your statement on April


30, 1988, exactly eight (8) days after the incident when
the incident wherein you were investigated upon still
very very fresh in your mind (sic). Now, in your
statement which you gave to the investigator, Pat.
Tubadeza, you stated that you saw the persons shot at
Winner Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan and after the two
(2) had fell down then you also likewise saw them shot
at you at the time you were rolling to the ground.Do you
affirm and confirm this statement of yours which you
subscribed before Fiscal Ricarte Valera?

ATTY. YANURIA:
cralawYour Honor, it is misleading, we object, in so far as the
shooting of Eddie Quindasan and Winner Agbulos was
not seen.He only saw the persons who were firing at him
namely: Juan Cabbab and Segundino Calpito.

COURT:

cralawIn his testimony before the court he testified before


the court that he saw Juan Cabbab and Segundino
Calpito shot at Eddie Quindasan and Winner
Agbulos.Reform the question.

FISCAL FLORES:

Q.cralawHowever, you saw these two (2) accused, Juan


Cabbab and Segundino Calpito shoot at you?
A.cralawYes, sir.

Q.cralawWill you tell the court if how far were these two (2)
accused when they were firing at you?
A.cralawEight (8) meters, sir.

Q.cralawAnd therefore what time is it when they were firing


at you?
A.cralawIf Im not mistaken it was 4:00 oclock in the
afternoon.

xxxcralawxxxcralawxxx

William Belmes on cross-examination

ATTY. YANURIA:

Q.cralawIn other words, it was you being shot out by


Segundino Calpito and Juan Cabbab but you did not see
them shoot at Winner Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan?
A.cralawI saw Juan Cabbab and Segundino fire at Winner
Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan (the witness using the
word banat) and when they already fell down, they
continued firing attempt and in my case I rolled and they
also fired at me.

cralawThe above testimony adequately showed that Belmes was able


to look at and see appellant at the time he perpetrated the crime. To
our mind, Belmes could not have made a mistake with respect to
appellants identity, what with the fact that just a few hours before the
incident, it was even appellant himself who invited Belmes and his
group to play poker. For sure, Belmes had a face-to-face encounter
with appellant before the assault and thus would be able to
unmistakably recognize him especially because at the time of the
attack, Belmes was just eight (8) meters away from appellant and
conditions of visibility were very good at the time of the incident as it
was only around 4:00 in the afternoon. Jurisprudence recognizes that
it is the most natural reaction of victims of violence to strive to see
the appearance of the perpetrators of the crime and to observe the
manner in which the crime was committed.

cralawBelmes testimony was corroborated by that of Vidal Agbulos


who was also with the group when the robbery and shooting took
place. Again, we quote from the transcripts of stenographic notes:

Vidal Agbulos on direct examination

FISCAL FLORES:

Q.cralawWhat did you do next when Felipe Abad informed


you again that your son was already killed and Eddie
Quindasan was injured?
A.cralawEven if he told me about that I just went ahead.

Q.cralawWhat happened next when he told you that?


A.cralawWhen I went ahead I saw Juan Cabbab took the
wallet from my son.

COURT:

Q.cralawAt that time, Winner Agbulos was already prostrate


on the ground?
A.cralawYes, sir, my son was lying on the ground facing
down.

cralawClearly, then, Vidal Agbulos positively identified appellant as


the person who robbed his son, Winner, of his winnings. Just like
Belmes, Agbulos could also not have been mistaken as to appellants
identity considering that it was appellant who personally approached
Agbulos group and invited them to play poker just a few hours prior to
the commission of the crime. Further, Agbulos testified that he was
familiar with appellant as he would often see him in a cockpit in San
Isidro, Abra.

cralawTo be sure, the trial court which had the unique opportunity to
observe at first hand the demeanor of witnesses Belmes and Agbulos
and asses whether they are telling the truth or not, gave full faith and
credence to their testimonies. Finding no facts and circumstances of
weight and substance that would otherwise warrant a different
conclusion, the Court accords the highest respect to the trial courts
evaluation of the credibility of these witnesses.

cralawAppellant likewise capitalizes on the results of the paraffin test


showing that both his hands yielded no trace of gunpowder residue.
Unfortunately for appellant, the results of the paraffin test would not
exculpate him. The negative findings of said test do not conclusively
show that a person did not discharge a firearm at the time the crime
was committed. This Court has observed that it is quite possible for a
person to discharge a firearm and yet exhibit no trace of nitrates:
when, e.g., the assailant fired the weapon while wearing gloves or
where the assailant thoroughly washes his hands thereafter. As
George de Lara of the NBI stated in his testimony before the trial
court, if a person applies cosmetics on his hands before the cast is
taken, gunpowder residue would not be found in that persons hands.
He also testified that certain factors could contribute to the negative
result of a paraffin test such as perspiration, humidity or the type of
firearm used. In fine, a finding that the paraffin test on the person of
the appellant yielded negative results is not conclusive evidence to
show that he indeed had not fired a gun.
cralawToo, appellant has not shown any evidence of improper motive
on the part of prosecution witnesses Belmes and Agbulos that would
have driven them to falsely testify against him. In fact, appellant
himself declared that he did not know of any reason why Belmes and
Agbulos would implicate him in the crime. Where there is nothing to
show that the witnesses for the prosecution were actuated by
improper motive, their positive and categorical declarations on the
witness stand under the solemnity of an oath deserve full faith and
credence.

cralawInterjected as a defense is alibi, appellant claiming that he went


to Palao, Baddek, Bangued, Abra to visit his friends in the morning of
April 22, 1988 and returned home only at around 5:30 p.m. For alibi to
prosper, however, the hornbook rule requires a showing that the
accused was at another place at the time of the perpetration of the
offense and that it was physically impossible for him to be at the
scene of the crime at the time of its commission. Where there is even
the least chance for the accused to be present at the crime scene, the
defense of alibi will not hold water.

cralawHere, the evidence shows that Palao, Baddek, Bangued, Abra


where appellant allegedly visited his friends was only 30 minutes
drive from Barangay Kimmalasag, San Isidro, Abra where the crime
was committed. In short, appellant failed to establish by clear and
convincing evidence the physical impossibility of his presence at the
scene of the crime on the date and time of its commission.cralaw

cralawThe weakness of appellants alibi is heavily underscored by the


fact that appellant was positively identified by witnesses Belmes and
Agbulos who were with the victims at the time of the incident. For
sure, appellants positive identification as the perpetrator of the crime
renders his defense of alibi unworthy of
credit.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

cralawThe crime committed by appellant was correctly characterized


by the appellate court as Robbery with Homicide under Article 294,
paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) which reads:

cralawcralawArt. 294.Robbery with violence against or


intimidation of persons Penalties. Any person guilty of
robbery with the use of violence against any person shall
suffer:
cralaw
cralawcralaw1.cralawThe penalty of reclusion perpetua to
death, when by reason or on occasion of the robbery, the
crime of homicide shall have been committed, or when the
robbery shall have been accompanied by rape or intentional
mutilation or arson.cralaw

cralawTo warrant conviction for the crime of Robbery with Homicide,


the prosecution is burdened to prove the confluence of the following
elements:

(1) the taking of personal property is committed with


violence or intimidation against persons;

(2) the property taken belongs to another;

(3) the taking is characterized by intent to gain or


animo lucrandi; and

(4) by reason of the robbery or on the occasion thereof,


homicide is committed.

cralawIn Robbery with Homicide, so long as the intention of the felon


is to rob, the killing may occur before, during or after the robbery. It
is immaterial that death would supervene by mere accident, or that
the victim of homicide is other than the victim of robbery, or that two
or more persons are killed. Once a homicide is committed by reason
or on the occasion of the robbery, the felony committed is the
special complex crime of Robbery with
Homicide.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

cralawHere, the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt


that appellant, having lost to Winner Agbulos in the game of poker,
intended to divest Agbulos of his winnings amounting to P20,000.00.
In pursuit of his plan to rob Agbulos of his winnings, appellant shot
and killed him as well as his companion, Eddie Quindasan.cralaw
cralawThe prescribed penalty for Robbery with Homicide under Article
294 of the RPC, as amended by R.A. No. 7659 (Death Penalty Law), is
reclusion perpetua to death. In the application of a penalty composed
of two indivisible penalties, like that for Robbery with Homicide,
Article 63 of the RPC provides that when in the commission of the
deed there is present only one aggravating circumstance, the greater
penalty shall be applied. In this case, the aggravating circumstance of
treachery attended the commission of the crime, as appellants attack
on the victims who were then unsuspectingly walking on their way
home was sudden and done without any provocation, thus giving
them no real chance to defend themselves.

cralawHowever, considering that the crime was committed in 1988 or


prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 7659, the trial court and the CA
correctly imposed upon appellant the lesser penalty of reclusion
perpetua.
cralaw
cralawThe Court feels, however, that the two courts below erred in
convicting appellant of the separate crime of attempted murder for
the shooting of PO William Belmes. Attempted homicide or attempted
murder committed during or on the occasion of the robbery, as in this
case, is absorbed in the crime of Robbery with Homicide which is a
special complex crime that remains fundamentally the same
regardless of the number of homicides or injuries committed in
connection with the robbery.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

cralawWe now come to the award of damages.

cralawConformably with existing jurisprudence, the heirs of Winner


Agbulos and Eddie Quindasan are each entitled to civil indemnity in
the amount of P50,000.00, to moral damages in the amount of
P50,000.00, and to exemplary damages in the sum of
P25,000.00.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

cralawWith respect to actual damages, Winners father, Vidal Agbulos,


testified that he spent a total of P50,000.00 as burial expenses but he
failed to present receipts therefor. In People v. Abrazaldo, we laid
down the doctrine that where the amount of actual damages for
funeral expenses cannot be determined because of the absence of
receipts to prove them, temperate damages may be awarded in the
amount of P25,000.00. Thus, in lieu of actual damages, temperate
damages in the amount of P25,000.00 must be awarded to the heirs
of Winner because although the exact amount was not proved with
certainty, it was reasonable to expect that they incurred expenses for
the coffin and burial of the victim. We, however, cannot grant the
same to the heirs of Eddie Quindasan for their failure to testify on the
matter. Finally, appellant is obliged to return to the heirs of Winner
Agbulos the amount of P20,000.00 he had taken from Winner.cralaw

WHEREFORE, the decision dated February 22, 2006 of the CA in CA-


G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00968 is hereby AFFIRMED with the following
MODIFICATIONS:
1. Appellant Juan Cabbab, Jr. is found GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of Robbery with Homicide and sentenced to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua.
2. Appellant is hereby ordered to return to the heirs of
Winner Agbulos the amount of P20,000.00 representing the
amount stolen from him. He is likewise ordered to indemnify
the heirs of Winner Agbulos the following: (a) P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity; (b) P50,000.00 as moral damages, (c)
P25,000.00 as exemplary damages; and (c) P25,000.00 as
temperate damages.
3. Appellant is further ordered to pay the heirs of Eddie
Quindasan P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, another P50,000.00
as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages.
4. For reasons herein stated, appellant is ACQUITTED of the
separate crime of attempted murder against the person of PO
William Belmes.

Costs de oficio.

* cralawOn leave.
cralawPenned by Associate Justice Monina Arevalo-Zenarosa, with
Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. and Associate Justice
Rosmari D. Carandang, concurring; rollo, pp. 3-24.
cralawG.R. Nos. 147678-87, July 4, 2004, 433 SCRA 640.
cralawIn our Resolution of August 30, 2004.
cralawCA Rollo, p. 12.
cralawCA Rollo, pp. 134-154.
cralawCA Rollo, pp. 27-34.
cralawCA Rollo, p. 131.
cralawSupra note 3.
cralawRollo, p. 29.
cralawTSN, April 15, 1993, pp. 17-19.
cralawTSN, April 15, 1993, pp. 14-15.
cralawPeople v. Escote, Jr., G.R. No. 140756, April 4, 2003, 400 SCRA
603.
cralawTSN, June 13 1991, pp. 7-8.
cralawPeople v. Oliano, G.R. No. 119013, March 6, 1998, 287 SCRA
158.
cralawPeople v. Benito, G.R. No. 128072, February 19, 1999, 303
SCRA 468.
cralawPeople v. Gonzales, G.R. No. 141599, June 29, 2004, 433 SCRA
102.
cralawPeople v. Lopez, G.R. No. 149808, November 27, 2003, 416
SCRA 542.
cralawPeople v. Herbieto, G.R. No. 103611, March 13, 1997, 269 SCRA
472.
cralawPeople v. Daniela, G.R. No. 139230, April 24, 2003, 401 SCRA
519.
cralawPeople v. De Jesus, G.R. No. 134815, May 27, 2004, 429 SCRA
384.
cralawApproved on December 31, 1993.
cralawPeople v. Cabilto, G.R. Nos. 128816 & 139979-80, August 8,
2001, 362 SCRA 325.
cralawPeople v. Escote, Jr., G.R. No. 140756, April 4, 2003, 400 SCRA
603.
cralawPeople v. Daniela, G.R. No. 139230, April 24, 2003, 401 SCRA
519.
cralawPeople v. Werba, G.R. No. 144599, June 9, 2004, 431 SCRA 482.
cralawG.R. No. 124392, February 6, 2003, 397 SCRA 137.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION cralaw

PEOPLE OF THE G.R. No. 178205


PHILIPPINES, Present:
Plaintiff-Appellee,
- versus - YNARES-SANTIAGO,
LEO QUEMEGGEN and J.,
JANITO DE LUNA, Chairperson,
Accused- CHICO-NAZARIO,
Appellants. VELASCO, JR.
NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.
Promulgated:
July 27, 2009

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

For review is the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated


December 28, 2006 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 01498 affirming with
modification the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 72,
Malabon, Metro Manila, dated August 8, 1997.

As established by the prosecution, the facts are as follows:


On October 31, 1996, at around 11:00 in the evening, Noel Tabernilla
(Tabernilla) was driving his passenger jeep to Navotas, Metro Manila.
Along Road 10 in Navotas, four of the passengers announced a hold-
up. One of the robbers poked a balisong on Tabernillas nape, while
the other three divested the passengers of their valuables. Then, the
hold-uppers alighted from the jeep in a place called Puting Bato.

From there, Tabernilla and six or seven of his passengers went to the
nearest police detachment to report the incident. Three policemen
accompanied them to the scene of the crime. While there, the
policemen chanced upon the robbers riding a pedicab. Socrates
Kagalingan (Kagalingan), one of the passengers-victims, recognized
the perpetrators, since one of them was still wearing the belt bag that
was taken from him.

The policemen were able to arrest three suspects, including Janito de


Luna (de Luna), but Leo Quemeggen (Quemeggen) was able to
escape. The three suspects were left under the care of a police officer,
Emelito Suing (Suing), while the other police officers pursued
Quemeggen. Taking advantage of the situation, the three suspects
ganged up on Suing; de Luna held his hand, while the other suspect
known as Weng-Weng shot him on the head. The suspects thereafter
escaped. cralaw

Upon the return of the two policemen who unsuccessfully pursued


Quemeggen, Suing was brought to the hospital where he eventually
died. Dr. Rosalyn Cosidon (Dr. Cosidon) of the Philippine National
Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory conducted an autopsy on the cadaver
of Suing. She concluded that the cause of the death of Suing was
hemorrhage as a result of a gunshot wound in the head. The results of
her examination were reflected in Medico-Legal Report No. M-1614-
96. cralaw

Appellants Quemeggen and de Luna were eventually arrested through


follow-up operations undertaken by the Navotas Police. On November
5, 1996, appellants were charged in an Information for Robbery with
Homicide, the pertinent portion of which reads: cralaw

That on or about the 31st day of October 1996, in Navotas,


Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together and
mutually helping one another, with intent to gain and by
means of force, violence and intimidation employed upon the
person of one SOCRATES KAGALINGAN Y ROXAS, did then
and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, rob and
carry away the following articles to wit: cralaw

One (1) gold necklace worth ----------- P1,800.00 cralaw


One (1) mens wrist watch ----------- 2,000.00 cralaw
Cash money amounting to ----------- 500.00_ cralaw
Total ------------ P4,300.00 cralaw
belonging to said complainant, to the damage and prejudice
of the latter in the total amount of P4,300.00; that on the
occasion of the said Robbery one of the arrested suspect[s]
dr[e]w a handgun and shot one PO2 SUING, thereby inflicting
upon the said PO2 Suing, serious physical injuries, which
directly caused his death. cralaw
CONTRARY TO LAW.

Upon arraignment, appellants pleaded Not Guilty. As the appellants


manifested that they were not availing of the pre-trial conference,
trial on the merits ensued.

During the trial, Tabernilla and Kagalingan testified for the


prosecution. Dr. Cosidons testimony as an expert witness was
dispensed with in view of the appellants admission of her qualification
and competence; the fact that she conducted the autopsy on the
cadaver of the victim; that she prepared the sketches of a human
body; that a slug was recovered from the head of the victim; and that
the body of the victim was identified prior to the autopsy.

Appellants, on the other hand, interposed the defense of alibi. They


maintained that they were elsewhere when the robbery and shooting
incident took place. They claimed that they were in their respective
houses: Quemeggen was helping his grandmother cut pieces of cloth
used in making rugs, while de Luna was sleeping with his wife.

On August 8, 1997, the RTC rendered a Decision convicting the


appellants of Robbery with Homicide, the dispositive portion of which
reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby
rendered finding accused Leo Quemeggen y Larawan and
Janito de Luna y Rayo GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of
the crime of robbery with homicide defined and penalized
under Art. 294, par. 1, of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended by RA 7659, for which they are both hereby
sentenced to the prison term of RECLUSION PERPETUA.

Accused Quemeggen and accused de Luna are also ordered


to pay (1) the heirs of the victim the amount of P50,000.00
as indemnification for the loss of the victims life, and (2)
P4,000.00 to Socrates Kagalingan by way of indemnification
of the total value of the valuables taken from him during the
hold-up.

Costs against the two (2) accused.

SO ORDERED.

The case was elevated to this Court for automatic review, but on
February 9, 2005, pursuant to the decision of this Court in People v.
Mateo, we transferred the case to the CA.

On December 28, 2006, the CA modified the RTC Decision by


convicting Quemeggen of Robbery, and de Luna of the separate
crimes of Robbery and Homicide. The dispositive portion of the CA
decision reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the


Regional Trial Court of Malabon, Metro Manila, Branch 72, in
Criminal Case No. 17287-MN dated 8 August 1997 is hereby
MODIFIED as follows

1. As to accused-appellant Leo Quemeggen: he is found


guilty of the crime of Robbery and is hereby sentenced to
suffer imprisonment ranging from four (4) years of prision
correc[c]ional as minimum to eight (8) years of prision mayor
as maximum with the accessories of said penalty; and

2. As to accused-appellant Janito de Luna: he is found guilty


of the crime of Robbery and is sentenced to suffer
imprisonment ranging from four (4) years of prision
correc[c]ional as minimum to eight (8) years of prision mayor
as maximum with the accessories of said penalty. He is
likewise found guilty of the crime of Homicide and is
sentence[d] to suffer imprisonment of eight (8) years and
one (1) day of prision mayor as minimum to seventeen (17)
years and four (4) months of reclusion temporal as maximum
with the accessories of said penalty.

3. Both accused-appellants area (sic) also ordered to


indemnify Socrates Kagalingan the amount of Four Thousand
Pesos (P4,000.00) for the valuables taken from him during
the robbery.

SO ORDERED.

The CA concluded that appellants could not be convicted of the


special complex crime of Robbery with Homicide. It noted that Suing
was not killed by reason or on the occasion of the robbery. Hence, two
separate crimes of robbery and homicide were committed. As the
appellants were in conspiracy to commit robbery, both were convicted
of such offense. However, as to the death of Suing, considering that at
the time of the killing, Quemeggen was being chased by the police
officers and there was no evidence showing that there was
conspiracy, only de Luna was convicted of homicide.

Hence, this appeal, based on the following arguments:

I.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING FULL WEIGHT


AND CREDENCE TO THE INCREDIBLE TESTIMONIES OF THE
PROSECUTION WITNESSES AND IN NOT CONSIDERING THE
DEFENSE INTERPOSED BY THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS.

II.

THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING


ACCUSED-APPELLANTS OF THE CRIME CHARGED DESPITE
FAILURE OF THE PROSECUTION TO PROVE THEIR GUILT
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
In assailing their conviction, appellants argue that: 1) the testimonies
of the prosecution witnesses are incredible, because it was unnatural
for the robbers not to leave the crime scene immediately after the
incident; 2) the prosecution failed to present a policeman to prove
that appellants were arrested on board a pedicab, and that the loot
from the robbery was confiscated from them; and 3) no expert
testimony was presented to prove the fact of death of the victim

We find no merit in the appeal

Appellants fault the CA for relying on the improbable testimonies of


the prosecution witnesses, who testified that they saw the former at
the crime scene riding a pedicab. Appellants add that it was
improbable for them not to leave the crime scene immediately after
the robbery. It is well-settled that different people react differently to
a given situation, and there is no standard form of human behavioral
response when one is confronted with a strange event. Moreover,
when it comes to credibility, the trial courts assessment deserves
great weight and is even conclusive and binding, if not tainted with
arbitrariness or oversight of some fact or circumstance of weight and
influence. The reason is obvious. Having the full opportunity to
observe directly the witnesses deportment and manner of testifying,
the trial court is in a better position than the appellate court to
evaluate testimonial evidence properly.

Appellants conviction is not negated by the failure of the prosecution


to present any police officer to testify that appellants were arrested
on board a pedicab, and that the loot from the robbery was
confiscated from them; and an expert witness to testify on the cause
of death of the victim. Kagalingan and Tabernillas testimonies as to
the circumstances surrounding the robbery and the killing were
sufficient. It must be recalled that they were eyewitnesses to the
commission of the crimes. These witnesses adequately narrated the
events that transpired from the time the appellants declared a hold-
up up to the time they alighted from the passenger jeep. They also
witnessed how de Luna and the other malefactors strangled and
eventually shot Suing.

As to the non-presentation of Dr. Cosidon as an expert witness,


records show that appellants, through their counsel de oficio,
admitted in open court her qualifications and competence, the
conduct of autopsy and the results thereof as appearing in Dr.
Cosidons report, including the cause of death. Hence, the presentation
of an expert witness was no longer necessary.

Now, on the nature of the crime or crimes committed. The Information


shows that appellants were charged with Robbery with Homicide
under Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code, which provides in part:

Art. 294. Robbery with violence against or intimidation of


persons Penalties. Any person guilty of robbery with the use
of violence against or intimidation of any person shall suffer:

1. The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death, when by


reason or on the occasion of the robbery, the crime of
homicide shall have been committed or when the robbery
shall have been accompanied by rape or intentional
mutilation or arson.

For the accused to be convicted of the said crime, the prosecution is


burdened to prove the confluence of the following elements:

1. The taking of personal property is committed with


violence or intimidation against persons;
2. The property taken belongs to another;
3. The taking is animo lucrandi; and
4. By reason of the robbery or on the occasion
thereof, homicide is committed.

We reiterate, at this point, the relevant factual circumstances.


Appellants, together with the other suspects, boarded Tabernillas
passenger jeep. Suddenly, they announced a hold-up. One of them
poked a balisong at the neck of Tabernilla, while the others divested
the passengers of their valuables. Obviously, in boarding the
passenger jeep, announcing a hold-up, and eventually taking the
personal belongings of the passengers, appellants had the intent to
gain. Thus, the first three elements of the crime were adequately
proven.

The only question is whether the fourth element was present, i.e., that
by reason or on the occasion of the robbery, homicide was committed.
Homicide is said to have been committed by reason or on the
occasion of robbery if it is committed a) to facilitate the robbery or the
escape of the culprit; b) to preserve the possession by the culprit of
the loot; c) to prevent discovery of the commission of the robbery; or
d) to eliminate witnesses to the commission of the crime.

Given the circumstances surrounding the instant case, we agree with


the CA that appellants cannot be convicted of Robbery with Homicide.
Indeed, the killing may occur before, during, or after the robbery. And
it is immaterial that death would supervene by mere accident, or that
the victim of homicide is other than the victim of robbery, or that two
or more persons are killed. However, essential for conviction of
robbery with homicide is proof of a direct relation, an intimate
connection between the robbery and the killing, whether the latter be
prior or subsequent to the former or whether both crimes are
committed at the same time

From the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, we cannot see the


connection between the robbery and the homicide. It must be recalled
that after taking the passengers personal belongings, appellants (and
two other suspects) alighted from the jeepney. At that moment,
robbery was consummated. Some of the passengers, however,
decided to report the incident to the proper authorities; hence, they
went to the nearest police station. There, they narrated what
happened. The police eventually decided to go back to the place
where the robbery took place. Initially, they saw no one; then finally,
Kagalingan saw the suspects on board a pedicab. De Luna and two
other suspects were caught and left under the care of Suing. It was
then that Suing was killed. Clearly, the killing was distinct from the
robbery.

There may be a connection between the two crimes, but surely, there
was no direct connection.

Though appellants were charged with Robbery with Homicide, we find


Quemeggen guilty of robbery, and de Luna of two separate crimes of
robbery and homicide. It is axiomatic that the nature and character of
the crime charged are determined not by the designation of the
specific crime, but by the facts alleged in the information. Controlling
in an information should not be the title of the complaint or the
designation of the offense charged or the particular law or part
thereof allegedly violated, these being, by and large, mere
conclusions of law made by the prosecutor, but the description of the
crime charged and the particular facts therein recited. There should
also be no problem in convicting an accused of two or more crimes
erroneously charged in one information or complaint, but later proven
to be independent crimes, as if they were made the subject of
separate complaints or informations.

As worded, the Information sufficiently alleged all the elements of


both felonies. Needless to state, appellants failed, before their
arraignment, to move for the quashal of the Information, which
appeared to charge more than one offense. They have thereby waived
any objection thereto, and may thus be found guilty of as many
offenses as those charged in the Information and proven during the
trial.

As to the proper penalty, we sustain the appellate court. The penalty


for simple robbery is prision correccional in its maximum period to
prision mayor in its medium period, ranging from 4 years, 2 months
and 1 day to 10 years. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
maximum term thereof shall be 6 years, 1 month and 11 days to 8
years and 20 days; while the minimum term shall be within the range
of the penalty next lower in degree or 4 months and 1 day to 4 years
and 2 months. The CA thus correctly imposed the indeterminate
penalty of 4 years of prision correccional as minimum to 8 years of
prision mayor as maximum.

On the other hand, the penalty for homicide is reclusion temporal or


12 years and 1 day to 20 years. The maximum term of the
indeterminate penalty shall be 14 years, 8 months and 1 day to 17
years and 4 months; while the minimum term shall be within the
range of prision mayor or 6 years and 1 day to 12 years. Therefore,
the CA was correct in imposing the indeterminate penalty of 8 years
and 1 day of prision mayor as minimum to 17 years and 4 months of
reclusion temporal as maximum.
The Court notes that the CA failed to award civil indemnity ex delicto
to the heirs of Suing. Civil indemnity is automatically imposed upon
the accused without need of proof other than the fact of the
commission of murder or homicide. Thus, de Luna shall be liable to
pay P50,000.00 as civil indemnity for the death of Suing
Records show that appellants were committed to prison on November
14, 1996. As to Quemeggen, considering that he has been
incarcerated for more than twelve (12) years now, which is more than
the maximum penalty for the crime of robbery he committed which is
only eight (8) years, he should be released from confinement.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is DISMISSED. The


Decision of the Court of Appeals dated December 28, 2006 in CA-G.R.
CR-H.C. No. 01498, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Janito de
Luna is further ordered to pay the heirs of police officer Emelito Suing
P50,000.00 as civil indemnity.
Considering that Quemeggen has been incarcerated for more
than the maximum penalty for the crime of robbery he
committed, the Director of the Bureau of Corrections is hereby
ORDERED to immediately RELEASE LEO QUEMEGGEN from
confinement, unless further detention is justified by some
other lawful cause, and inform this Court of the action taken
within five (5) days from receipt hereof.