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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC DECISION November 7, 1979 G.R. No.

L-45387 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee, vs. WALDO CASIGURAN, WALLY CASIGURAN and JUANITO CASIGURAN, accused-appellants. Consuelo S. Florendo for appelants. Office of the Solicitor General for appellee. , J.: Ismael Bato, a forty-three-year-old driver of a sand and gravel truck, was assaulted at arround three oclock in the afternoon of June 27, 1976 near his house in the compound at BarrioMalanday, San Mateo, Rizal. He sustained a moral wound in the chest which affected his lungs and hearth, an incised wound in his right earlobe, lacerated wounds on his head and face, and contusions and abrasions on his head, chest and left forearm. He died upon arrival at the hospital. This case, like its congeners, poses the ever-recurring question as to whether the killing was murder, as held by the trial court which imposed the death penalty, or justifiable homicide, as contended by the accusedappelants.

Waldo Casiguran, a twenty-four-year-old helper in a trucking business and a neighbor of Bato, the victim, admitted that he inflicted the fatal wound. In his nebulous and hazy testimony he invoked self-defense and defense of a stranger as the justification for wounding Bato. Waldo testified that on that afternoon, when he saw Bato stabbing Dario Adriatico, he (Waldo) approached them and tried to pacify them. When Bato turned towards him and was going to stab him with an ice pick, he grabbed the weapon and stabbed Bato (15 tsn August 31, 1976). Waldo said that his brothers, Juanito (Doming), 43, and Wally, 20 were not in the vicinity when he stabbed Bato. The trial court rejected Waldos plea of self-defense and alleged defense of Adriatico. It reasoned out that if Waldo tried to defend Adriatico, then he should have presented the latter as a witness. Adriatico is at large or is in hiding. On the other hand, the lower court gave credence to the version of the prosecution that while Bato was fixing his chicken coop near his house, Adriatico and the three Casiguran brothers, each carrying stones (there is a gravel pit near the scene of the crime) suddenly assaulted Bato. Waldo stabbed Bato with an ice pick owned by the latter. The victims wife, Trinidad, placed herself on top of her fallen husband and implored the assailants to stop the assault but they ignored her supplication They pulled her and kicked her.

Pablo Santos, a neighbor, tried to take Bato to the hospital but the assailants stoned him and foiled his efforts. The record does not show the motive for the killing. The Casiguran brothers were charged with murder. Treachery and evident premeditation were alleged as aggravating circumstances. At the trial, Batos wife and his two neighbors, Santos and Lilia Zaragosa, testified on the assault perpetrated by the accused. The defense presented as witnesses Waldo Casiguran and Juanito Casiguran. Wally Casiguran, the third accused, did not take the witness stand. A doctor testified that he treated at the hospital the wound in the neck sustained by Wally and the wound in the head sustained by Waldo. However, there is no clear evidence as to how those wounds were inflicted upon them, who inflicted the same and the motive which impelled the infliction thereof. The trial court did not give credence to the defense of Juanita Casiguran, a compadre of the victim, that he had no complicity in the killing, that Bato assaulted him without any known motive, that he and his brother Wally were pursued by the companions, of Bato, and that he and his brother fled to the river. The trial court convicted the Casiguran brothers of murder and, as already noted, sentenced them to death but suspended the execution of the death sentence as to Wally Casiguran, who was assumed to be nineteen years old at the time the crime was committed, and ordered his confinement at the Camp Sampaguita

Youth Rehabilitation Center in the New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. The accused were further ordered to pay solidarily to the heirs of Ismael Bato a total indemnity of twentytwo thousand pesos (Criminal Case No. 1671). The Casiguran brothers appealed. Their counsel de oficio assailed the credibility of the prosecution witnesses and argued that the accused should be acquitted. We hold that the trial court did not err in giving credence to the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Appellants Waldo Casiguran and Juanito Casiguran did not testify in a coherent, candid and straight-forward manner. Their disjointed declarations do not disclose what transpired exactly on the occasion when Bato was mortally wounded by Waldo. Alevosia was not present in the killing of Bato. Before he was attacked, he saw the four malefactors approaching and he said to them. Do not come near because I am not going to fight. (Huag kayong lalapit. Hindi ako lalaban.) According to the victims wife, before the four assailants commenced the assault, Bato asked them what they wanted. He was face-to-face with them The assault was not sudden nor unexpected. There was abuse of superiority but this aggravating circumstance was not alleged in the information. it is not qualifying; it is only generic aggravating in this case. Evident premeditation was alleged but that circumstance cannot be considered as aggravating because the evidence does not show that the accused

planned the killing and that there was sufficient time to allow their conscience to overcome the resolution of their wig if they desired to hearken to its warnings. (U.S. vs. Gil, 13 Phil. 530, 547). The killing was homicide aggravated by abuse of superior strength. Since conspiracy to kill was not proven, only Waldo Casiguran should be held liable as a principal. It is deducible from the evidence that the Casiguran brothers and their confederate Adriatico, intended to castigate Bato, but it was not proven that they intended to kill him outright. They were not armed with deadly or bladed weapons. They just carried stones. The ice pick used by Waldo in the killing belonged to the victim (13 tsn August 30, 1976). The stabbing was impelled by a momentary impulse. But Wally and Juanito, in joining their brother in stoning Bato and in preventing the victims wife and neighbor from giving succor to him, cooperated in the commission of the killing. Since that cooperation was not indispensable, they should be regarded as accomplices (People vs. Tamayo, 44 Phil. 38; People vs. Cortes, 55 Phil. 143; People vs. Babiera, 52 Phil. 97; People vs. Azcona, 59 Phil. 580; People vs. Templonuevo, 106 Phil. 1003; U.S. vs. Domingo 1st, 37 Phil. 446). The trial courts assumption that Wally Casiguran was nineteen years old at the time the crime was committed is not substantiated by the record. Exhibit I of the defense, the medical certificate as to Wallys wound in the neck, shows that he was twenty years old (5 tsn

September 10, 1976). He would be twenty-three years old now. Hence, he is not entitled to a suspended sentence Originally, the Child and Youth Welfare Code, which took effect six months after December 10, 1974 or on June 8, 1975 and which repealed article 80 of the Revised Penal Code, considered as a youthful offender a person over nine years but under twenty-three years of age at the time of the commission of the offense (Art. 189). Presidential Decree No. 1179, which took effect on August 15, 1977, lowered the age limit to eighteen years (the same age limit provided for in article 80 of the Penal Code, before it was amended by Republic Act No. 47). Article 192 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code (before it was amended) provides that if after hearing the evidence in the proper proceedings, the court should find that the youthful offender has committed the acts charged against him the court shall determine the imposable penalty, including any civil liability chargeable against him. However, instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction, the court shall suspend all further proceedings and and commit such minor to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare, or to any training institution operated by the government, or duly licensed agencies or any other responsible person, until he shall have reached twenty-one years of age or, for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports

and recommendations of the Department of Social Welfare or the agency or responsible individual under whose care he has been committed. Under presidential Decrees Nos. 1179 and 1210, the youthful offender should apply for a suspended sentence. The purpose of articles 189 and 192 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code is the same as that of article 80 and that is to avoid a situation where juvenile offenders would commingle with ordinary criminals in prison. So, instead of imposing a condemnatory sentence on them, they are confined in a beneficent institution for their care, correction and education (People vs, Estefa 86 Phil. 104, 110). Article 192 should be interpreted in the same manner as article 80. Under the original provisions of article 80 (before it was amended by Republic Act No. 47 which reduced the age of eighteen years Lo sixteen years), it was held that if at the time the crime was committed the accused was below eighteen years but at the time of the trial or conviction he was no longer a minor, he is not entitled anymore to a suspended sentence because he is not a juvenile offender but already an adult. The reason for the suspended sentence does not apply to him (People vs. Celespara, 82 Phil. 399; People vs. Nuez, 85 Phil. 448; People vs. Estela, supra; People vs. Lingcuan, 93 Phil. 9; People vs. Doria, L-26189 and two other cases, January 31, 1974, 55 SCRA 435, 450; People vs. Pedro, L-18997, January 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 57, 67).

WHEREFORE, Waldo Casiguran is guilty as principal in homicide. He is sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of twelve years of prision mayor as minimum to eighteen years of reclusion temporal as maximum and to indemnify the heirs of Ismael Bato in the sum of twenty-two thousand pesos. Wally Casiguran and Juanito Casiguran are guilty as accomplices in the same homicide. They are each sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of six years of prision correccional as minimum to ten years and one day of prision mayor as maximum and to pay solidarily to the heirs of the victim an indemnity of three thousand pesos. This judgment supersedes the trial courts judgment which is hereby set aside. Costs against the appellants. SO ORDERED.

[Syllabus]

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 110109. November 21, 1996]

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CRISPOLO VERANO Y MONTILLA alias Dodong", accused-appellant.
DECISION
ROMERO, J.:

Eight-year old Jason Bagcals young life had an untimely end in the afternoon of October 14, 1991 in a cemetery in Surigao del Sur. Charged with his murder were Edgar Siman, Benjamin Martinez and accused-appellant Crispolo Verano in an information which reads:
That on the 14th day of October 1991 at about 4:30 oclock in the afternoon, more or less, at Quezon St., Tandag, Surigao del Sur, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, with treachery and evident premeditation, did, then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and strike one Jason Bagcal, an eight year old boy, thereby inflicting upon the latter multiple wounds on his body, which wounds have caused the damage and prejudice of his heirs in the following amount: P50,000.00 P10,000.00 P10,000.00 as life indemnity of the victim; as moral damages; as exemplary damages;

CONTRARY TO LAW. (In violation of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code), with the presence of the following aggravating circumstances: 1. Abuse of Superior Strength, the victim being a minor. Tandag, Surigao del Sur, March 16, 1992.

Arraigned on April 8, 1992, the three accused all entered separate pleas of Not Guilty. The prosecutions evidence showed that in the afternoon of October 14, 1991, Roberto Cagampang and Fedelio Quezada were conversing in front of the latters house near the entrance of the Catholic Cemetery at Dagocdoc, Tandag, Surigao del Sur. Just then, two of the accused, Edgar Siman and Benjamin Martinez arrived. 1[1] Martinez asked Cagampang and Quezada why they were still out, while Siman asked

1[1]

TSN, April 8, 1992, pp. 28-30.

the two men for a match to light his cigarettes.2[2] Cagampang knew Martinez to be a military man and Siman, the son-in-law of one Tessie Martinez, to whom he used to sell lumber. Just as Siman was lighting his cigarette, a trisikad (bicycle with a sidecar used as a passenger vehicle in Tandag) arrived driven by accused-appellant Crispulo Verano with the victim Jason Bagcal in the passenger seat. Cagampang knew Verano to be a neighbor of his at Barangay Awasian, Tandag where they both resided. Cagampang also knew Jason because he was the child of Fortunato Bagcal to whom he used to sell lumber.3[3] Martinez and Siman approached the trisikad and talked to Verano. Then the three men, together with Jason, entered the cemetery. Cagampang and Quezada were surprised and a little apprehensive, as both Siman and Martinez carried firearms. However, they did not do anything and went upstairs to their house and slept. 4[4] Early the next morning, Cagampang went back to Awasian. That evening, he heard that a child of a lumber dealer was found dead in the Catholic Cemetery at Tandag.5[5] Meanwhile, in the evening of October 14, 1991, Yolanda Pineda, a waitress at the Bachelor Express Terminal Restaurant at Dagocdoc, Tandag was approached by accused-appellant, whom she knew because he was her neighbor, to pledge a goldplated Seiko wrist watch for P65.00. The following morning, Verano came back with Renato Vistal, also a neighbor of Yolanda and likewise a trisikad driver, proposing to sell her the watch for an additional P185.00, to which she agreed. Yolandas husband, Julieto Pineda, another trisikad driver, saw the watch and asked her how she got it. She told him that it was originally pledged and later sold to her by accused-appellant. Yolanda gave the watch to her husband, who wore it while driving his trisikad. 6[6] On November 28, 1991, at about 2:30 in the afternoon, Police Officer Rogelio Lorenzana saw the wrist watch worn by Julieto. Lorenzana informed Julieto that it was the same kind taken from a child who was recently murdered. The Pineda spouses were brought to the Municipal Hall for questioning and pointed to appellant as the person from whom Yolanda bought the watch.7[7] It was the victims father Fortunato who led the police officer to the Pinedas. Earlier, while searching for witnesses to his sons death, he talked to Renato Vistal who told him that his sons wrist watch was sold by accused-appellant to Yolanda Pineda.8[8] Renato Vistal testified that in the early morning of October 15, 1992, while he was at his parents house in Awasian, his neighbor and longtime friend, appellant Verano, invited him to go to Tandag assuring him that he had money. The two friends boarded a truck bound for Barangay Dagocdoc where they disembarked. From Dagocdoc, Vistal and appellant proceeded to the Bachelor Terminal Restaurant to see Yolanda

2[2] 3[3]

TSN, p. 31, ibid. TSN, pp. 32-34, ibid. 4[4] TSN, pp. 34 and 39, ibid. 5[5] TSN, pp. 34-35, ibid. 6[6] TSN, April 10, 1992, pp. 5-8. 7[7] TSN, pp. 2-3, ibid 8[8] TSN, pp. 12-13, ibid

Pineda.9[9] On their way to the restaurant, appellant suggested that they take the route going inside the cemetery which was near their destination to take a look at the cadaver of a young boy he had killed the night before. Vistal saw the lifeless body of a boy whose identity at that time was still unknown to him, with his backpack school bag still slung on his right shoulder.10[10] When they reached the restaurant, appellant talked to Yolanda Pineda and received additional money for the wrist watch he had earlier pawned to her. With the additional money appellant received, he invited Vistal to the nearby Central market where they had a drinking spree.11[11] Accused-appellant was subsequently arrested and brought to the Police Headquarters where he was asked by Fortunato if he was involved in the killing of the latters son Jason. Admitting his culpability, appellant stated that, for a monetary consideration and upon instructions of Siman, he fetched the victim from his school at St. Theresas College at 4:30 in the afternoon and took Jason for a ride to Barangay Mabatang until 7:00 in the evening. However, instead of bringing him home, appellant brought the child to the cemetery where appellants co-accused Benjamin Martinez and Edgar Siman were waiting. Siman then ordered appellant to beat the child to death. The motive given by Siman for the killing was that Jasons father, Fortunato, was the enemy of Simans father-in-law.12[12] Appellant also executed a sworn statement reiterating the above and further adding that Siman poked a .38 caliber revolver on his head and threatened to kill him if he refused to kill Jason in turn. He likewise admitted that he pulled a wooden cross from the ground and struck Jason with it, causing him to slump on the ground. When shown a gold-plated wrist watch recovered by the police from Julieto Pineda, appellant admitted that it was the same wrist watch he took from the victim. The post mortem examination was conducted by Dr. Floripes A. Lim, Medical Officer III of the Provincial Health Office of Tandag. In his report dated October 17, 1991, Dr. Lim stated the cause of Jasons death as cerebral hemorrhage secondary to massive brain damage. He also said that the victim had already been dead for 48 hours when the cadaver was examined on October 16, 1991.13[13] The two accused, Martinez and Siman, interposed the defenses of denial and alibi. The trial court stated their version of the events as follows:
. . . . According to accused Benjamin Martinez, the whole day on October 14, 1991, he stayed in the PC Barracks at Tandag. In the early evening, he was in his house, same Poblacion of Tandag, preparing snacks because the image of the Patron Saint of Perpetual Help was scheduled to be brought by the devotees to his house that evening. And because it was raining, after the prayer he decided to stay and did not go out the whole night. He learned sometime on November 10 or 12, 1992, from Chief of
9[9]

TSN, April 8, 1992, pp. 6-7. TSN, pp. 7-9, ibid 11[11] TSN, pp. 10-11, ibid. 12[12] TSN, pp. 16-17, ibid 13[13] TSN, April 8, 1992, pp. 3-4; TSN, April 10, 1992, pp. 26-27.
10[10]

Police Romalito Yuhico of Tandag that he was implicated by accused Crispolo Verano in the killing of the child Jason Bagcal. He denied any such participation or involvement. On the contrary, according to him, he helped in the investigation of the killing and even picked up some suspects, who were however released later for lack of evidence. When he asked accused Crispolo Verano why the latter implicated him, he was told that the Police coerced said accused to implicate him and Edgar Siman. He claimed that from October 14 to December 26, 1991, when he was arrested, he did not leave the town. Accused Edgar Siman also denied participation in the killing of Jason Bagcal. He claimed that the whole day on October 14, 1991, he worked on the cabinet in his house at Tandag. In the evening, he stayed home reading the lectures for the following day of the Southern Baptist Church of Tandag, of which he was a pastor for one month. He learned of the death of Jason Bagcal about a week later when the incident became the talk of the town. According to him, from October 14 to his arrest on December 17, 1991, he never left Tandag and performed his customary work. He believed he was implicated in the killing of the child Jason Bagcal because his mother-in-law, Tersie Martinez, was the competitor in the lumber business of the deceaseds father, Fortunato Bagcal. When he talked to accused Crispolo Verano, he learned that the former was threatened with death by Nerio Bagcal, uncle of the deceased, and Police Officers Rogelio Lorenzana and Mario Balan when Crispolo refused to implicate him.

Accused-appellant waived presentation of evidence. The trial court convicted him of the crime of Murder but acquitted his co-accused Martinez and Siman. The dispositive portion of the decision states:
WHEREFORE, finding accused Crispolo Verano y Montilla, alias `Dodong GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER, qualified by treachery, and aggravated by nighttime and uninhabited place which facilitated the commission of the crime, without any mitigating circumstance to offset the same, and with the imposition of death penalty having been disallowed by the present Constitution until restored by law, the Court hereby sentences him to suffer the indivisible penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA; to pay the heirs of the deceased-victim Jason Bagcal the sum of Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos as life indemnity, Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos as moral damages and Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos as exemplary damages, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the cost. Being detained, he is credited in the service of his sentence with the full term of his preventive imprisonment if he signed the agreement whereby he would abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed on convicted prisoners, otherwise four-fifths (4/5) thereof. On ground of reasonable doubt, accused Benjamin Martinez and Edgar Siman are acquitted. No finding of civil liability against either of them. The Bail Bond of accused Edgar Siman is cancelled and the documents attached thereto are ordered returned to his bondsman. Accused Benjamin Martinez shall remain under detention it appearing that he is facing another or other criminal cases. SO ORDERED. IN CHAMBERS, this 7th day of August, 1992, at Tandag, Surigao del Sur, Philippines.

Accused-appellant assigns the following errors:


I THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON THE BASIS OF CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE THAT CANNOT SURVIVE THE TEST OF REASON AND JUSTIFY MORAL CERTAINTY. II THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT ON THE GROUND THAT, LIKE HIS TWO CO-ACCUSED, HIS GUILT HAD NOT BEEN PROVED BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.14[14]

On the first assigned error, accused-appellant claims that the circumstances proved in the trial case are not enough to sustain a conviction. We do not agree. Although the evidence in the instant case is largely circumstantial, it is sufficient for conviction as it meets the following requirements:
(a) (b) There is more than one circumstance; 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 a reasonable doubt.15[15] Circumstantial evidence is evidence of circumstances which are strong enough to cast suspicion upon the defendant and which are sufficiently strong to overcome the presumption of innocence, and to exclude every hypothesis except that of the guilt of the defendant.16[16] Many decisions are to the effect that circumstantial evidence may be fully as satisfying as positive testimony and will sometimes outweigh it. In cases where the facts or circumstances which are proved are not only consistent with the guilt of defendant, but also inconsistent with his innocence, such evidence, in its weight and probative force, may surpass direct evidence in its effect upon the court. 17[17] We have said: When circumstantial evidence constitutes an unbroken chain of natural and rational circumstances corroborating each other, it cannot be overcome by inconcrete doubtful evidence submitted by the opposite party.18[18] Below are the findings of the trial court.
Close scrutiny of prosecutions evidence accused Crispolo Verano waived presentation of evidence in his defense it has been sufficiently established that (1) in the early evening of October 14, 1991, accused Crispolo Verano, then driving a trisikad with the deceased young boy Jason Bagcal as passenger, entered the Catholic Cemetery at Dagocdoc, Tandag, Surigao del Sur; (2) that same evening, he pledged for P65.00 a gold-plated seiko wrist watch to Yolanda Pineda at Bachelor Terminal
14[14] 15[15]

p. 8, Brief for Appellant, Rollo, p. 39. Rule 133, Sec. 5, Rules of Court. 16[16] U.S. v. Douglass, 2 Phil. 462. 17[17] Bowie v. State, 185 Ark. 834, 49 S.W. (2d) 1049, 83 A.L.R. 18[18] Erlanger and Galinger v. Exconle, G.R. No. L-4792, September 30, 1953.

Kitchenette, where she worked as waitress, and which Terminal was adjacent to the Catholic Cemetery; (3) early the following morning, Crispolo Verano, neighbor and long time friend of Renato Vistal went to the latters residence at Barangay Awasian, same municipality, and requested the latter to accompany him to downtown Tandag, and while on their way to Bachelor Terminal, led Renato to the place at the Cemetery where, according to Crispolo, he killed a young boy the night before, whom they saw lying prostrate on the ground facing `as if looking at (them); (4) proceeding afterwards to the nearby Bachelor Terminal Kitchenette, Crispolo asked for additional amount of P185.00 from Yolanda Pineda for the wrist watch he pledged the night before, which he decided to sell to her; (5) Yolanda gave the wrist watch to her husband, Julieto Pineda, who used it while driving his trisikad until the same was spotted by Policeman Lorenzana who, upon investigation, established that the wrist watch belonged to the deceased Jason Bagcal; (6) the deceased, who was discovered two days later, on October 16, 1991, was examined by Dr. Floripes A. Lim, who estimated the approximate time of death to be about 48 hours before; and (7) in the sworn statement he gave to Judge Jose M. Garcia of the Municipal Trial Court of Tandag, while the latter was conducting the preliminary investigation of the instant murder case, Crispolo Verano admitted authorship of the death of Jason Bagcal, admitted that he took the wrist watch of the deceased, which he later pledged and then sold to Yolanda Pineda, and admitted the exhibit wrist watch shown to him by Judge Garcia as the one he took from the deceased. The above proved circumstances constitute an unbroken chain which leads to the only fair and reasonable conclusion which points to accused Crispolo Verano, to the exclusion of all others, as the guilty person.19[19]

The concatenation of events and circumstances has been satisfactorily proven by the prosecution and their combination establishes beyond reasonable doubt the conclusion that appellant indeed killed Jason.20[20] Against this phalanx of positive evidence, appellants belated denial cannot prevail. Appellant further claims that certain portions of the testimonies of the prosecutions witnesses contained inconsistencies, citing the following:
1) Witness Cagampang stated on direct examination that he only became aware of what happened to the child that appellant took inside the cemetery on the night of October 15, 1991, when he was informed by a barangay mate that a child had been found dead therein. However, on cross-examination, he stated that he received the said information in the afternoon of that date. 2) Witness Yolanda Pineda said that the watch was pledged to her for P65.00 and that she later gave P185.00 to pay off the item making the total price of the watch to be P250.00. However, Renato Vistal said that Yolanda Pineda gave P50.00 to appellant as a final purchase price, meaning that the pledge was for P150.00 and not P65.00. Later, Vistal said the watch was pawned for P75.00 initially and then later P175.00 was paid for it.

Witness Julieto Pineda, in his sworn statement, gave another amount saying that appellant added P115.00 to the amount he originally paid Yolanda. During trial, he testified that the additional amount given was P100.00.
19[19] 20[20]

Rollo, pp. 21-22. People v. Bracamonte, G.R. No. 95939, June 17, 1996.

The Court finds these alleged inconsistencies to be minor and as such, do not affect the credibility of the witnesses.21[21] As for the supposedly conflicting statements in the various affidavits, we have opined in People v. Villanueva, that:22[22]
. . . . It has often been noted by this Court that an affidavit being taken ex-parte is almost always incomplete and often inaccurate, sometimes from partial suggestions and sometimes from want of suggestions and inquiries, . . . . Moreover, affidavits are frequently not complete reproductions of what the declarants had in mind, considering that the affidavits are frequently prepared by the administering officer and cast in the latters language as the latters understanding of what the affiant had said . . . .

Time and again, we have held that minor lapses even enhance the veracity of the testimonies of witnesses as they erase any suspicion of a rehearsed declaration.23[23] Appellant also impugns the credibility of witness Renato Vistals testimony that he (appellant) told the latter about killing Jason. We see no cogent reason to disturb the trial courts acceptance of said testimony. It is this Courts bounden duty to refrain from reviewing findings of fact by the lower court, considering that it has all the opportunity to directly observe the witnesses and to determine by their demeanor on the stand the probative value of their testimonies.24[24] Furthermore, the fact that Vistal did not immediately reveal to the authorities what he knew of the killing does not affect his credibility. It is not uncommon for a witness to a crime to show reluctance about getting involved in a criminal case, as in fact the natural reticence of most people to get involved is of judicial notice.25[25] This is especially true in this case where the parties involved are not just townmates but immediate neighbors.26[26] WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Regalado (Chairman), Puno, Mendoza, and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.
21[21] 22[22]

People v. Jumanog, 221 SCRA 334. G.R. No. 96469, October 21, 1992. 23[23] People v. Beltran, G.R. No. 119306, July 31, 1996; People v. de la Cruz, 251 SCRA 77 (1995). 24[24] People v. Bracamonte, ibid; People v. Gomez, 229 SCRA 138, 144 (1994). 25[25] People v. Rubio, G.R. No. 118315, June 30, 1996. 26[26] Ibid.; People v. Sabillano, 198 SCRA 196 (1991).

THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 121095-97. November 18, 1997]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RUDY DEL ROSARIO and JOEL BUENA alias JUN, accused, JOEL BUENA, accused-appellant. DECISION
MELO, J.: Accused-appellant Joel Buena and Rudy del Rosario were charged with the crime of rape based on the following complaints:

Complaint Crim. Case No. 209-92 The undersigned Complainant after having been duly sworn to on oath in accordance with law, accuses RUDY DEL ROSARIO and JOEL BUENA alias Jun of the crime of Rape, committed as follows: That on or about May 13, 1992, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the abovenamed accused, conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping each other, caused to be given to herein complainant MARIA VIRGINIA T. BALLESTA, a bottle of softdrink containing drugs and the latter, who has no knowledge of such adulteration, consumed the same and thereafter became unconscious and the herein accused, taking undue advantage of her unconsciousness, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of her against her will and consent. Complaint Crim. Case No. 210-92 The undersigned Complainant after having been duly sworn to on oath in accordance with law, accuses RUDY DEL ROSARIO and JOEL BUENA alias Jun of the crime of Rape, committed as follows:

That on or about May 13, 1992, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating together and mutually helping each other, caused to be given to herein complainant VENEELYN VELASQUEZ, a bottle of softdrink containing drugs and the latter, who has no knowledge of such adulteration, consumed the same and thereafter became unconscious and the herein accused, taking undue advantage of her unconsciousness, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of her against her will and consent. Complaint Crim. Case No. 211-92 The undersigned Complainant after having been duly sworn to on oath in accordance with law, accuses RUDY DEL ROSARIO of the crime of Rape, committed as follows: That on or about May 14, 1992, in the City of Cavite, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, armed with a knife, by means of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the undersigned complainant against her will and consent. (pp. 35-36, Rollo.)
Accused-appellant Buena was arrested on July 27, 1992, but being only 15 years old at the time of the commission of the offense, he was released on recognizance of Barangay Captain Jose G. Santiago on October 19, 1992. Del Rosario, however, was not immediately arrested. Upon arraignment, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty, and his trial accordingly proceeded. This trial was already in its final stages when his co-accused del Rosario was finally arrested on January 14, 1994. He was thus arraigned on February 7, 1994, and pleaded not guilty to the charge (pp. 3637, Ibid.). The following facts, after joint trial of the three cases, appear duly established: On March 12, 1992, Veneelyn Velasquez, then a 15-year old student, was invited by her friend, Maria Virginia Ballesta, to go to Ronnel Victoria's house along Castellar Street, San Roque, Cavite City to get a bracelet from Ronnel. Both were accompanied by Blessilda Campos. When they arrived at the house, Ronnel, accused del Rosario, and several other persons were there. Inside, Veneelyn was told that anyone who entered cannot leave without being subjected to hazing and so she was blindfolded, pricked on the neck, kissed on the cheeks, and slapped four times. After that, Veneelyn and her companions were allowed to go home.(pp. 37-38, Ibid.) The following day, March 13, 1992, after being persuaded by Blessilda to again accompany her, this time to get a pocketbook, Veneelyn and Maria Virginia went back to Ronnel's house. Ronnel, accused del Rosario and accused-appellant Buena were in the house and they engaged the girls in some conversation. Ronnel then requested Blessilda to buy two bottles of Coca-Cola and she obliged. When she returned, Ronnel offered the drinks to Veneelyn and Maria Virginia but both, sensing something was wrong, refused. After some prodding from Ronnel, they relented and finished off the drinks. Thereafter, both girls felt dizzy and weak they could not stand up. (p. 38, Ibid.)

Veneelyn testified that accused-appellant Buena carried her to a room upstairs; he removed her T-shirt and pants. After that, she passed out and could not remember anything more. When she woke up, she felt pain in her vagina. Looking to her side, she saw accused del Rosario and accused-appellant Buena both on the bed and sound asleep. Maria Virginia was also lying beside her. Veneelyn woke up Maria Virginia and told her to get dressed. Someone then opened the door. Pretending to be asleep, the two girls covered themselves with a blanket but taking a peek, saw it was Blessilda. When Blessilda left, Veneelyn told Maria Virginia to try to escape and to inform her (Veneelyns) mother where she is. Maria Virginia managed to do so (p. 38, Ibid.). With Veneelyn left alone, del Rosario woke up and brought Veneelyn to another room where she was made to lie down on a bench. Her hands were tied and she was undressed. Del Rosario, while holding a knife, then had sexual intercourse with her. After that, she was told to dress up and not to tell anyone what had happened (p. 39, Ibid.). Later, Veneelyn heard her mother shouting her name and looking for her. Del Rosario denied that Veneelyn was inside, but Veneelyn called out loud to her mother. Thus, she was able to get out of the house. When they were home, she told her mother and an uncle about the incident. They went to the police station where she executed a sworn statement, and later, they proceeded to the National Bureau of Investigation where she underwent physical examination (p.39, Ibid.). The other complainant, Maria Virginia Ballesta, also only 15 years old at the time of the incident, corroborated Veneelyns testimony, to wit : On March 13, 1992, Blessilda persuaded her to come along with Veneelyn to Ronnels house to get a pocketbook; when they got to Ronnels house, they were blindfolded; Ronnel told Blessilda to buy softdrinks from a nearby store, which the latter did; she placed the softdrinks on the table together with some sandwiches; it took her about 30 minutes to consume the softdrinks, after which she felt dizzy and very weak; she sensed accused del Rosario carry her upstairs and undress her; before she totally lost consciousness, she saw del Rosario lie on top of her and kiss her neck; when she came to after being roused by Veneelyn, she felt pain in her vagina and saw that it was swollen; both del Rosario and accused-appellant Buena, with only their pants on, were likewise sleeping on the same bed; with Veneelyn, she also saw Blessilda take a look inside the room; as agreed upon, she got out of the house and went home; she lied, however, to her mother saying that she went with Veneelyn to a birthday party; she later went to Veneelyns mother and told her about what really happened; after executing a sworn statement at the police station, she and Veneelyn and other companions were referred to the NBI for physical examination (pp. 39-41, Ibid.). After trial, the Regional Trial Court of the Fourth Judicial Region (Branch 17, Cavite City), rendered a decision dated April 19, 1995, disposing of the three cases thusly :

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Rudy del Rosario and Joel Buena alias Jun guilty beyond reasonable doubt in Crim. Case No. 209-92 for Rape and they are hereby sentenced to undergo imprisonment of reclusion perpetua, to indemnify the offended party Maria Virginia Ballesta in the amount of P30,000.00 jointly and severally, in Crim. Case No. 210-92, the Court finds the accused Rudy del Rosario and Joel Buena alias Jun guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Rape and they are hereby sentenced to undergo imprisonment of reclusion perpetua, to indemnify Veneelyn Velasquez the amount of P30,000.00 jointly and severally and in Crim. Case No. 211-92, the Court finds the accused Rudy

del Rosario guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crime of Rape and he is hereby sentenced to undergo imprisonment of reclusion perpetua, to indemnify Veneelyn Velasquez the amount ofP30,000.00 jointly and severally and to pay one half () each of the costs in all the cases. Despite, however, the minority of the accused Joel Buena alias Jun at the time of the commission of the offense and up to the present (he having been born on May 26, 1977 as per proper birth certificate) released on recognizance of Brgy. Capt. Jose C. Santiago, Jr. of Brgy. 59, San Roque, Cavite City and pursuant to the provisions of Art. 192 of PD 603 as amended otherwise known as the Child & Youth Welfare Code which excludes him from the benevolent (sic) provisions thereof he is hereby ordered committed to the City Jail of Cavite City for proper detention in accordance with law. (pp. 51-52, Ibid.).
Only Buena has interposed an appeal wherein he contends that it was error for the trial court to disregard indicators showing consent on the part of Veneelyn and Maria Virginia. He points out that both girls returned to Ronnels house despite the previous days events during which they were allegedly subjected to hazing and some advances. Also, it is argued that even as complainants suspected the drinks to be drugged, yet they continued not only to take a sip, but to finish the bottles. Complainants, it is said, knew the house was located in a rather busy neighborhood with a mahjong game going on into the late hours, but they admit they did not even try to make any outcry. Much capital is also made of the fact that Maria Virginia did not tell her mother that she had been ravished, accused-appellant implying that Maria Virginia was less concerned of her defloration than her mothers anger (pp. 99-103, Ibid.). Continuing, accused-appellant gives heavy reliance on the circumstance that no tests were conducted to verify the allegation that the softdrinks both girls drank were laced with drugs which caused the girls to lose consciousness; as well as on the undependability of the declarations of Veneelyn and Maria Virginia concerning the rape in view of their alleged semi-conscious state at the time. The way the girls testimony harmonize with each other speaks, it is argued, not of mere coincidence but more of fabrication and rehearsal (pp. 100, 103, Ibid.). The trial court's finding of conspiracy and the consequent conviction of accused-appellant Buena for the rape of Maria Virginia committed by accused del Rosario is also assailed as erroneous in the absence of adequate proof that conspiracy was indeed present. Lastly, flight in this case does not necessarily imply guilt, it is contended, motivated as it was, more by fear of the consequent imprisonment for a crime accusedappellant, who was only a minor at the time the alleged incident took place, is falsely accused of committing (pp. 103-104, Ibid.). The Office of the Solicitor General rejects such contentions, and the Court fully agrees. Under Paragraph 2, Article 335, of the Revised Penal Code, having carnal knowledge of an unconscious woman constitutes rape, opposition or resistance not being required, for the state the woman is in means she has no will (Aquino, Ramon C. The Revised Penal Code, vol. III, 1976 ed., p.1692). Thus, it does not matter if Veneelyn and Maria Virginia did not shout for help because it was impossible to do so at the time they were being raped. Even if they had the opportunity to shout for succor after regaining consciousness, such lapse, if it be one, does not detract from the fact that the crime

had indeed been committed. Failing to cry Rape! then, under the circumstances, does not serve any purpose in accused-appellants bid to exculpate himself. It also does not matter that Veneelyn and Maria Virginia, ignoring their unfortunate experience the day before, returned to Ronnels house, for as The People correctly puts it, the girls went there simply to accompany Blessilda who had to get something from the house, not for any other purpose, surely not for a tryst. The challenge to the identification of accused-appellant as one of the perpetrators must likewise fail. Accused-appellant Buena admitted having had sexual intercourse with Veneelyn, but with her consent and only upon her invitation. In the absence of any cause to disregard the trial court's finding that such defense is unbelievable, this Court sees no reason to rule otherwise for we have to acknowledge that the trial court was in a better position to assess the truth or falsity, the probability or preposterousness of what accused-appellant Buena said on the witness stand (People vs. Villanueva, et. al., G.R. No. 114266, December 4, 1996). True, there was no test conducted to determine the presence of any sedative or drug in the drinks given to the victims which caused them to lose momentary control of their faculties. But this is of little consequence as the same is not an indispensable element in a prosecution for rape. Under the circumstances, it suffices that the victim was found to have been unconscious at the time the offender had carnal knowledge of her. And if Maria Virginia lied at first to her mother regarding the incident, she cannot be faulted, for that is but natural since it is recognized by jurisprudence that different people react differently to a given situation (People vs. Malunes, 247 SCRA 317), not to speak of the natural reluctance of a young girl to admit having been ravished. Further, the finding of conspiracy made by the trial court is correct, established as it was by the conduct of accused-appellant and del Rosario before, during, and after the incident which reasonably showed their community of criminal purpose: accusedappellant Buena and del Rosario were with Ronnel when the latter ordered Blessilda to get softdrinks for Veneelyn and Maria Virginia; after consuming the softdrinks given by Blessilda, Veneelyn and Maria Virginia felt dizzy and later lost consciousness; when they woke up, both del Rosario and accused-appellant Buena were lying on the same bed they were in; Veneelyn was completely naked while Maria Virginia only had her skirt on; and both girls felt pain in their sexual organs. The trial court also found, and this is undisputed by accused-appellant, that del Rosario raped Veneelyn when she was left alone after Maria Virginia was able to escape. The inference that Veneelyn and Maria Virginia have been ravished by del Rosario and accused-appellant Buena seems more than reasonable. Oddly enough, accused-appellants contention that the trial court erred in ruling that flight indicates guilt results from miscomprehension. It should be clear from the decision that the trial court was referring to del Rosario and not to accused-appellant Buena who, as far as the record shows, never fled. The Court, therefore, affirms the judgment of conviction rendered by the trial court, although with modifications to correct certain errors. It is uncontroverted that accused-appellant Buena was only 15 years old at the time of the commission of the offense and was still a minor at the time the trial courts decision was handed down. He is, therefore, entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance of minority, necessitating reduction of the imposable penalty, under the factual environment, by two degrees. The penalty for rape being reclusion perpetua, he should be sentenced only to suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period in the absence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstance (Articles 13(2), 64(1) and 68(1), Revised Penal Code).

Also, the trial court, taking into account accused-appellant Buena's minority chose to apply the provisions of Article 192 of Presidential Decree No. 603, otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, as amended, which states:

ART. 192. Suspension of Sentence and Commitment of Youthful Offender. If after hearing the evidence in the proper proceedings, the court should find that the youthful offender has committed the acts as charged against him, the court shall determine the imposable penalty, including any civil liability chargeable against him. However, instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction, the court upon application of the youthful offender and if it finds that the best interest of the public as well as that of the offender will be served thereby, may suspend all further proceedings and commit such minor to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and/or to any training institution operated by the government or any other responsible person until he shall have reached twenty-one years of age, or for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or the government training institution or responsible person under whose care he has been committed. x x x (underscoring supplied)
The record, unfortunately for accused-appellant Buena, does not show that he filed with the trial court an application for suspension of sentence so as to put into operation the benevolent provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603. The Court, therefore, has no other choice but to deny him this privilege. Finally, the Court deems it necessary to increase the amount of civil indemnity granted to the victims fromP30,000.00 to the current level dictated by jurisprudence, which at present stands at P50,000.00. WHEREFORE, the appealed judgment of conviction is hereby AFFIRMED, but MODIFIED as follows: (a) accused-appellant Buena is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty ranging from two (2) years and four (4) months ofprision correccional, as minimum, to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum; (b) the portion extending the benefits of a suspended sentence under Presidential Decree No. 603 to accused-appellant Buena is deleted; and (c) the civil indemnity for which accused-appellant Buena is held liable for, respectively, in Criminal Cases Nos. 209-92 and 210-92 is increased to P50,000.00. No special pronouncement is made as to costs.

SO ORDERED. Romero, Francisco, and Panganiban, JJ., concur Navasa, C.J., (Chairman), on leave.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC DECISION March 20, 1985 G.R. No. L-51770 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiffappellee, vs. FRANCISCO GALIT, defendant-appellant. CONCEPCION, JR., J: , J.: 1. The prisoner was arrested for killing the victim oil the occasion of a robbery. He had been detained and interrogated almost continuously for five days, to no avail. He consistently maintained his innocence. There was no evidence to link him to the crime. Obviously, something drastic had to be done. A confession was absolutely necessary. So the investigating officers began to maul him and to torture him physically. Still the prisoner insisted on his innocence. His will had to be broken. A confession must be obtained. So they continued to maltreat and beat him. They covered his face with a rag and pushed his face into a toilet bowl full of human waste. The prisoner could not take any more. His body could no longer endure the pain inflicted on him and the indignities he had to suffer. His will had been broken. He admitted what the

investigating officers wanted him to admit and he signed the confession they prepared. Later, against his will, he posed for pictures as directed by his investigators, purporting it to be a reenactment. 2. This incident could have happened in a Russian gulag or in Hitlers Germany. But no it did not. It happened in the Philippines. In this case before Us. 3. The Revised Penal Code punishes the maltreatment of prisoners as follows: ART. 235. Maltreatment of prisoners. The penalty of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period, in addition to his liability for the physical injuries or damage caused, shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee who shall over do himself in the correction or handling of a prisoner or detention prisoner under his charge, by the imposition of punishments in a cruel and humiliating manner. If the purpose of the maltreatment is to extort a confession, or to obtain some information from the prisoner, the offender shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum period, temporary special disqualification and a fine not exceeding 500 pesos, in addition to his liability for the physical injuries or damage caused. 4. This Court in a long line of decisions over the years, the latest being the case of People vs. Cabrera, 1 has consistently and strongly condemned the practice of maltreating prisoners to extort confessions from them as a grave and unforgivable violation of human rights.

But the practice persists. Fortunately, such instances constitute the exception rather than the general rule. 5. Before Us for mandatory review is the death sentence imposed upon the accused Francisco Galit by the Circuit Criminal Court of Pasig, Rizal, in Crim. Case No. CCC-VII-2589 of said court. 6. The record shows that in the morning of August 23, 1977, Mrs. Natividad Fernando, a widow, was found dead in the bedroom of her house located at Barrio Geronimo, Montalban, Rizal, as a result of seven (7) wounds inflicted upon different parts of her body by a blunt instrument. 2 More than two weeks thereafter, police authorities of Montalban picked up the herein accused, Francisco Galit, an ordinary construction worker (pion) living in Marikina, Rizal, on suspicion of the murder. On the following day, however, September 8, 1977, the case was referred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for further investigation in view of the alleged limited facilities of the Montalban police station. Accordingly, the herein accused was brought to the NBI where he was investigated by a team headed by NBI Agent Carlos Flores. 3 NBI Agent Flores conducted a preliminary interview of the suspect who allegedly gave evasive answers to his questions. 4 But the following day, September 9, 1977, Francisco Galit voluntarily executed a Salaysay admitting participation in the commission of the crime. He implicated Juling Dulay and Pabling Dulay as his companions in the crime. 5 As a result, he was charged with the crime of Robbery with

Homicide, in an information filed before the Circuit Criminal Court of Pasig, Rizal, committed as follows: That on or about the 23rd day of August 1977 in the municipality of Montalban, province of Rizal, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating together with Juling Doe and Pabling Doe, whose true Identities and present whereabouts are still unknown and three of them mutually helping and aiding one another, with intent of gain and by means of force, intimidation and violence upon the person of one Natividad Fernando while in her dwelling, did, then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously take, steal and carry away from the person of said Natividad Fernando, cash money of an undetermined amount, belonging to said Natividad Fernando, thereby causing damage and prejudice to the latter in an undetermined amount; that by reason or on the occasion of said robbery, and for purpose of enabling them (accused) to take, steal and carry away the said cash money in pursuance of their conspiracy and for the purpose of insuring the success of their criminal act, with intent to kill, did, then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and feloniously attack, assault and stab with a dagger said Natividad Fernando on the different parts of her body, thereby inflicting multiple injuries on the head and extremities, which directly caused her death, and the total amount of the loss is P10,000.00 including valuables and cash. Trial was held, and on August 11, 1978, immediately after the accused had terminated the presentation of

his evidence, the trial judge dictated his decision on the case in open court, finding the accused guilty as charged and sentencing him to suffer the death penalty; to indemnify the heirs of the victim in the sum of P110,000.00, and to pay the costs. Hence, the present recourse. 7. The incriminatory facts of the case, as found by the trial court, are as follows: From the evidence adduced in this case, it was gathered that in the early morning of August 23, 1977, a 70-year old woman named Natividad Fernando, widow, in the twilight of her life, was robbed and then hacked to death by the accused and two others in her (victims) own residence at Montalban, Rizal. Prosecution witness Florentino Valentino testified that he heard accused Francisco Galit and his wife having an argument in connection with the robbery and killing of the victim, Natividad Fernando. It appears that on August 18, 1977, accused Galit and two others, namely, Juling Dulay and a certain Pabling accidentally met each other at Marikina, Rizal, and in their conversation, the three agreed to rob Natividad Fernando; that it was further agreed among them to enter the premises of the victims house at the back yard by climbing over the fence; that once inside the premises, they will search every room, especially the aparador and filing cabinets, with the sole aim of looking for cash money and other valuables. Witness Valentino further testified that on August 22, 1977, at around 6:00 oclock in the afternoon, accused

Francisco Galit and his two companions, Juling Dulay and Pabling, as per their previous agreement, met at the place where they formerly saw each other in Mariquina, Rizal; that the three conspirators took a jeepney for Montalban and upon passing the Montalban Municipal Building, they stopped and they waited at the side of the road until the hour of midnight; that at about 12:00 oclock that night, the three repaired to the premises of the victim, Natividad Fernando; that they entered the said premises through the back wall of the house; that while entering the premises of said house, Juling Dulay saw a bolo, lying near the piggery compound, which he picked up and used it to destroy the back portion of the wall of the house; that it was Juling Dulay who first entered the house through the hole that they made, followed by the accused Galit and next to him was Pabling, that it was already early dawn of August 23, 1977 when the three were able to gain entrance into the house of the victim; as the three could not find anything valuable inside the first room that they entered, Juling Dulay destroyed the screen of the door of the victim, Natividad Fernando; that upon entering the room of the victim, the three accused decided to kill first the victim, Natividad Fernando, before searching the room for valuables; that Juling Dulay, who was then holding the bolo, began hacking the victim, who was then sleeping, and accused Galit heard a moaning sound from the victim; that after the victim was killed, the three accused began searching the room for valuables; that they helped each other in opening the iron cabinet inside the room of the victim, where they found some money; that when the three

accused left the room of the victim, they brought with them some papers and pictures which they threw outside; that after killing and robbing the victim, the three accused went out of the premises of the house, using the same way by which they gained entrance, which was through the back portion of the wall; that the three accused walked towards the river bank where they divided the loot that they got from the room of the victim; that their respective shares amount to P70.00 for each of them; and that after receiving their shares of the loot, the three accused left and went home. When witness Florentino Valentino was in his room, which was adjoining that of accused Francisco Galit, he overheard accused Galit and his wife quarreling about the intention of accused Galit to leave their residence immediately; that he further stated that he overheard accused Galit saying that he and his other two companions robbed and killed Natividad Fernando. As a result of the killing, the victim, Natividad Fernando, suffered no less than seven stab wounds. There was massive cerebral hemorrhage and the cause of death was due to shock and hemorrhage, as evidenced by the Medico-Legal Necropsy Report (Exhs. C and C-2), and the pictures taken of the deceased victim (Exhs. E, E-1 and E-2). 8. The accused, upon the other hand, denied participation in the commission of the crime. He claimed that he was in his house in Marikina, Rizal, when the crime was committed in Montalban, Rizal. He also assailed the admissibility of the extra-judicial confession extracted from him through torture, force

and intimidation as described earlier, and without the benefit of counsel. 9. After a review of the records, We find that the evidence presented by the prosecution does not support a conviction. In fact, the findings of the trial court relative to the acts attributed to the accused are not supported by competent evidence. The principal prosecution witness, Florentino Valentino merely testified that he and the accused were living together in one house in Marikina, Rizal, on August 23, 1977, because the mother of his wife is the wife of the accused; that when he returned home at about 4:00 oclock in the morning from the police station of Marikina, Rizal, the accused and his wife were quarreling (nagtatalo); that he heard that the accused was leaving the house because he and his companions had robbed Aling Nene, the owner of a poultry farm and piggery in Montalban, Rizal; that the wife of the accused was imploring him not to leave, but the latter was insistent; that he saw the accused carrying a bag containing about two handfuls (dakot) of coins which he had taken from Aling Nene; that upon learning of what the accused had done, he went to the Montalban police the next day and reported to the police chief about what he had heard; and that a week later, Montalban policemen went to their house and arrested the accused. 6 10. This Court, in the case of Morales vs. Ponce Enrile, 7 laid down the correct procedure for peace officers to follow when making an arrest and in conducting a custodial investigation, and which We reiterate:

7. At the time a person is arrested, it shall be the duty of the arresting officer to inform him of the reason for the arrest and he must be shown the warrant of arrest, if any. He shall be informed of his constitutional rights to remain silent and to counsel, and that any statement he might make could be used against him. The person arrested shall have the right to communicate with his lawyer, a relative, or anyone he chooses by the most expedient means by telephone if possible or by letter or messenger. It shall be the responsibility of the arresting officer to see to it that this is accomplished. No custodial investigation shall be conducted unless it be in the presence of counsel engaged by the person arrested, by any person on his behalf, or appointed by the court upon petition either of the detainee himself or by anyone on his behalf. The right to counsel may be waived but the waiver shall not be valid unless made with the assistance of counsel. Any statement obtained in violation of the procedure herein laid down, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, in whole or in part, shall be inadmissible in evidence. 11. There were no eyewitnesses, no property recovered from the accused, no state witnesses, and not even fingerprints of the accused at the scene of the crime. The only evidence against the accused is his alleged confession. It behooves Us therefore to give it a close scrutiny. The statement begins as follows: I. TANONG: Ipinagbibigay-alam ko sa inyo ang inyong mga karapatan sa ilalim ng Saligang-Batas ng Pilipinas na kung inyong nanaisin ay maaaring hindi kayo magbigay ng isang salaysay, na hindi rin kayo

maaaring pilitin o saktan at pangakuan upang magbigay ng naturang salaysay, na anuman ang inyong sasabihin sa pagsisiyasat na ito ay maaaring laban sa inyo sa anumang usapin na maaaring ilahad sa anumang hukuman o tribunal dito sa Pilipinas, na sa pagsisiyasat na ito ay maaaring katulungin mo ang isang manananggol at kung sakaling hindi mo kayang bayaran ang isang manananggol ay maaaring bigyan ka ng isa ng NBI. Ngayon at alam mo na ang mga ito nakahanda ka bang magbigay ng isang kusang-loob na salaysay sa pagtatanong na ito? </TD> </TR> SAGOT: Opo. 12. Such a long question followed by a monosyllabic answer does not satisfy the requirements of the law that the accused be informed of his rights under the Constitution and our laws. Instead there should be several short and clear questions and every right explained in simple words in a dialect or language known to the person under investigation. Accused is from Samar and there is no showing that he understands Tagalog. Moreover, at the time of his arrest, accused was not permitted to communicate with his lawyer, a relative, or a friend. In fact, his sisters and other relatives did not know that he had been brought to the NBI for investigation and it was only about two weeks after he had executed the salaysay that his relatives were allowed to visit him. His statement does not even contain any waiver of right to

counsel and yet during the investigation he was not assisted by one. At the supposed reenactment, again accused was not assisted by counsel of his choice. These constitute gross violations of his rights. 13. The alleged confession and the pictures of the supposed re-enactment are inadmissible as evidence because they were obtained in a manner contrary to law. 14. Trial courts are cautioned to look carefully into the circumstances surrounding the taking of any confession, especially where the prisoner claims having been maltreated into giving one. Where there is any doubt as to its voluntariness, the same must be rejected in toto. 15. Let a copy of this decision be furnished the Minister of Justice for whatever action he may deem proper to take against the investigating officers. 16. WHEREFORE, the judgment appealed from should be, as it is hereby, SET ASIDE, and another one entered ACQUITTING the accused Francisco Galit of the crime charged. Let him be released from custody immediately unless held on other charges. With costs de oficio. 17. SO ORDERED. Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Abad Santos, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., De la Fuente, Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur. Aquino, J., took no part. Footnotes

1 G.R. No. 51858, promulgated January 31, 1985. 2 Exhs. C, D, E, E-1, E-2; t.s.n. of August 3, 1978, p. 7. 3 T.S.N. of August 3, 1978, p. 10. 4 Id., p. 26. 5 Exh. F. 6 T.S.N. of August 9, 1978, pp. 3-11. 7 G.R. Nos. 61016 and 61107, April 26, 1983, 121 SCRA 538.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC DECISION May 30, 1983 G.R. No. L-48131 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. GERONCIO MENDEZ, alias, Baby, and ABING BOLIOC, defendants whose death sentences are under review. The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. Joaquin Yuseco for defendants-appellants. Aquino, J.: This is a case of double murder. Geroncio Mendez and Abing Bolioc (Ricardo Bulloc, a member of the cultural minority) were convicted of murder for the killing of Roberto Boiser, sentenced to death and ordered to indemnify his heirs in the sum of fifteen thousand pesos. They were also convicted of the murder of Angel Ibaez, sentenced to reclusion perpetua and ordered to indemnify the heirs of Ibaez in the same amount of fifteen thousand pesos. (Criminal Case No. 546.) The two accused did not appeal. So, this is an automatic review of the death penalty imposed on the two accused for the killing of Boiser. The judgment in the Ibaez case is not under review. It has become final and executory. The prosecution states as factual background that in September, 1974, Roberto Boiser 23, filed a complaint for lesiones leves against Geroncio Mendez and Celestino Mendez in connection with an incident in a basketball game. Geroncio and Celestino filed a counter-charge for lesiones graves. Angela Abay-Abay, the mother of Boiser filed against Abing Bolioc a complaint for lesiones menos graves. According to the prosecution eyewitnesses, at about five oclock in the afternoon of October 20, 1974, Boiser together with his sister Beatriz and his cousin Elsa, boarded a pedicab at the crossing of Barrios Macangao and Manikling bound for Tagbua, all in Lupon, Davao Oriental. The other passengers were Angel Ibaez, Dioseta Garcia and a child. When the pedicab reached a creek, Boiser, Beatriz and Elsa left the pedicab to enable it to negotiate an ascending road but Ibaez, Dioseto and the child remained in the pedicab. As Boiser was about to reenter the pedicab after the ascent, Felimon Mendez suddenly emerged from the roadside and struck him on the forehead with a piece of wood (Exh. A), causing him to fall on the ground. Beatriz old Felimon Mendez not to strike Boiser for the second time. Then, Geroncio Mendez, Leonido Estellero, Demetrio Mendez, and Bolioc suddenly materialized. They emerged from the alepante grass. Geroncio Mendez stabbed Boiser with a hunting knife (Exh. B) while Bolioc Estellero and Demetrio Mendez one after the other struck him with pieces of wood. Beatriz repeatedly told the attackers to stop the assault.

Meanwhile, Ibaez pleaded with Felimon Mendez not to kill Boiser but Geroncio Mendez chased Ibaez and stabbed him twice, The assailants then forced the pedicab driver to take them to a place called the New Visayas. Boiser had five wounds. He was wounded near the eyebrows and on the bridge of the nose. He had a four-inch long hematoma from the lower half of the left ear down to the left angle of the mouth, a clean-cut wound below the left nipple which injured his lungs (evidently a fatal wound), and a back wound. He had bruises on the left leg. (Exh. E.) Ibaez had a head wound five and one-fourth inches long which penetrated his brain and a shoulder wound. Only Geroncio Mendez, Celestino Mendez, Demetrio Mendez and Bolioc were charged in a single information with double murder. Felimon Mendez and Estellero remained at large. Demetrio Mendez died during the trial. The trial court rendered the judgment of conviction already mentioned against Geroncio Mendez and Bolioc. It acquitted Celestino Mendez. Counsel de oficio contends that the trial court erred in convicting Geroncio Mendez of murder and imposing upon him a lighter penalty of death and in not imposing a lighter penalty on grounds of reasonable doubt. That contention has no merit. Geroncio Mendez (he was 29 in 1977), a resident of Barrio Tagbua, testified that at the time the double murder was penetrated he was in Barrio Macangao purposely to buy some errands that on his way home from Macangao he happened to hear Elsa Boiser and Beatriz Boiser shouting: Do not kill my brother; that he was about thirty to forty meters from he scene and did not recognize the person sprawled on the ground face down; that he did not stop because he was afraid; and that after he passed that place he noticed the presence of his cousins, Etil Mendez, Lim Mendez and Nito Estellero with Etil holding a bloodstained bolo and Lim holding a piece of wood. He did not see Bolioc. He went home, passing along the coconut groves. He informed no one of the incident he had just witnessed. Geroncio Mendez had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of lesiones leves filed by Roberto Boiser. His participation in the killing of Boiser was established by the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Their testimonies are conclusive. The fact that the hunting knife (Exh. B) was left by Felimon Mendez with Estanislao Mero does not necessarily mean that I was not used by Geroncio Mendez, as contended by counsel de oficio. Whether Geroncio used a bolo or a hunting knife (and it is admitted that he used a deadly weapon) would not alter his culpability in the case. The other co-accused, Bolioc did not testify. Celestino Mendez provided an alibi for him. Bolioc is the brother of the wife of Celestino. He arrived with them. at Barrio Tagbua and worked there as a helper. Celestino testified that when the double murder was committed, Bolioc was in Celestinos house preparing their food. The house is about two kilometers from the creek. The testimony of Celestino cannot prevail over the positive Identification made by the prosecution witnesses pointing to the indubitable fact that Bolioc was one of those who attacked Roberto Boiser and killed him. After the promulgation of the sentence, the parents of Abing Bolioc moved for a new trial on the ground of Boliocs testimony. He was allegedly born on December 18, 1959. They asked for a suspended sentence for Bolioc. They averred that being members of the cultural minority they failed to have his birth registered with the local registrar. So, when the crime was committed. Bolioc was only fourteen years, ten months and two days old. The trial court denied the motion on the ground that the Child and Youth Welfare Code does not apply to those convicted of offenses punishable by death, or reclusion perpetua (Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 1179 and 1210). The fact is Bolioc is now twenty-three years old. He is not entitled to a suspended sentence.

He is entitled to a two-degree reduction of the penalty (Art. 68, RPC). He should be sentenced to four years of prision correccional as minimum to eight years and one day of prision mayor medium as maximum for the death of Boiser. (Apparently, there was no conspiracy to kill Ibaez. Geroncio Mendez killed him on the spur of the moment. Only Geroncio should be held liable for Ibaezs death.) The trial court correctly ruled that the killing of Boiser was murder qualified by evident premeditation and aggravated by treachery. Hence, the death penalty was properly imposed. However, for lack of necessary votes, the capital punishment cannot be imposed. WHEREFORE, the trial courts judgment is affirmed with the modification that the death penalty imposed on Geroncio Mendez is commuted to reclusion perpetua and that the penalty on Abing Bolioc is reduced as indicated above. Costs de oficio. SO ORDERED. Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Makasiar, Concepcion Jr., Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro, Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Escolin Vasquez and Gutierrez, Jr., JJ., concur. Relova, J., took no part.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila SECOND DIVISION G.R.No. L-45798 December 15, 1982 VENANCIO VILLANUEVA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF ORIENTAL MINDORO, PINAMALAYAN, BRANCH II, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Castro, Makalintal, Mendoza, Gonzales & Associates for petitioner. Solicitor General for respondents.

ABAD SANTOS, J.: Petitioner prays that the orders dated December 4, 1976, and February 4, 1977, of the respondent court be set aside on the ground that they were issued without and/or in excess of jurisdiction. The facts which led to the filing of the petition are the following: Venancio Villanueva, the petitioner, was accused of murder in Criminal Case No. P-570 of the Court of First Instance of Oriental Mindoro. The information alleged that he committed the crime on February 22, 1974. Material to this case because the petitioner invokes P.D. No. 603, otherwise known as The Child and Youth Welfare Code which took effect on June 10, 1975, is the fact that Venancio was born on April 1, 1954, so that on February 22, 1974, when he was said to have committed the murder he was 19 years, 11 months and 22 days old. On July 30, 1975, the respondent court promulgated its decision in the aforesaid criminal case. It convicted Venancio of the crime of murder, sentenced him to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and indemnify the heirs of the deceased in the amount of P 12,000.00. Venancio did not appeal the sentence and he was forthwith committed to the National Penitentiary where he started to serve it. On September 25, 1975, after the lapse of almost two months from the promulgation of the sentence, Venancio, thru counsel, filed an URGENT MOTION FOR APPLICATION OF CHAPTER 3 OF PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 603. The motion contained the prayer "that the release of the accused to responsible authorities be forthwith ordered." Acting on the motion, the respondent court issued a resolution on December 17, 1975, which reads as follows: The accused through counsel submitted this urgent motion for application of Chapter 3 of Presidential Decree No. 603 on the ground that the accused, who was born on April 1, 1954 was only 19 years, 11 months and 22 days old when he committed the crime on February 22, 1974, so that he falls squarely under the said chapter of Presidential Decree No. 603 which was issued on December 10, 1974, and which took effect on June 10, 1975, and the sentence having been promulgated on July 13, 1975, accused alleges that the Court did not have jurisdiction in imposing the penalty because it was promulgated after Presidential Decree No. 603 had already been in force and effective. Articles 192 and 193 of Chapters 3 of Presidential Decree No. 603 provides that if after hearing the Court finds that the youthful offender has committed the acts charged against the Court shall be the imposable penalty including any civil liability at the accused but instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction the Court shall suspend all further proceedings and shall commit the minor to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare or to any training institution operated by the government, or any duly licensed agencies or any responsible person until he shall have reached 21 years of age for a shorter period as the Court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the

Department of Social Welfare or the agency or responsible individual under whose care the accused is committed. In the opposition filed by the Provincial Fiscal the latter alleges that the motion for the application of Chapter 3 of Presidential Decree No. 603 was filed out of tune so that the accused is already in estoppel and that the provisions of the subject decree are not applicable to the said accused on the ground that when the sentence was promulgated on July 30, 1975 at Roxas, Oriental Mindoro when the court was in session threat and that on the hour and day of the promulgation counsel de parte of the accused was present and at that time he had many options to take considering that the judgment imposed was one of conviction and one of them is the filing of a motion for reconsideration which could be aimed at either a modification of judgment or the setting aside of the same and he could have pursued another one by filling a motion for new trial. The Provincial Fiscal further alleges that on September 25, 1975, when the present urgent motion was filed, it was only five (5) days short of two (2) months from the date of the promulgation, for which reason the submission of said urgent motion is clearly out of the period of fifteen (15) days from promulgation within which to file an appeal or to seek a reconsideration or a new trial of the case, as a consequence of which, the promulgation of judgment can no longer be nor disturbed as it had already become final and ex-executory and as said accused is already committed at the National Penitentiary at Muntinlupa, Rizal he is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Court. The Provincial Fiscal discussing. another ground, alleges that while it is true that when the crime was committed by the accused, the latter was only 19 years old it cannot be denied that on the date of the promulgation on July 30, 1975, he was already 21 years of age as reflected in Exhibit "H", which is a birth certificate showing that he was born on April 1, 1954. After a thorough and exhaustive examination of the arguments advanced by the accused and the government, the Court finds and so holds that the stand taken by the petitioner to be well-taken, the Court being of considered opinion that on July 30, 1975, when the judgment was promulgated, Presidential Decree 603 was already in force and in full effect thus rendering said promulgation to have been effected without proper jurisdiction. Consequently, considering that the evidence is clear that at the time of the commission of the offense by the accused he was only more than 19 years old, the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603 should be interpreted liberally in his favor. WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the promulgation of judgment in this case on July 30, 1975, is hereby declared null and void, it having been effected after the effectivity of Presidential Decree No. 603 and the Director of Prisons is hereby ordered to deliver the person of the accused Venancio Villanueva to the custody and care of the officer-in-charge of the Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center, Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, pursuant to the provisions of the aforementioned presidential decree and in accordance also with the provisions of Article 80 of the Revised Penal Code. The said accused shall be subject to visitation by the Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare or any of her authorized representative and the one in charge of the said rehabilitation center should submit to the Court a report on the conduct, demeanor and activities of the subject person once every four months. (Expedients, pp. 112-115.) Venancio was transferred to the Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center and in a Final Report dated March 20, 1976, Mrs. Constancia G. Bolinao Officer-in-Charge of the Center, made the following recommendation: WHEREFORE, premises considered pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, it is respectfully recommended that the case handed down by this Honorable Court against herein accused, VENANCIO VILLANUEVA, be dismissed and definitely terminated and that he be released from the National Training School for Boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center), Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal to the care and custody of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ceverino Villanueva of Roma Mankalaya Oriental Mindoro. (Expedients, p. 119.) On June 15, 1976, the respondent court issued an order directing the trial fiscal to comment on or oppose the final report. The trial fiscal asked for time to consult the Solicitor General "this being a serious case and one of first impression." The request was granted. On September 9, 1976, the Solicitor General filed a motion with the respondent court. He asked that it "set aside its Resolution dated December 17, 1975, and that it order the immediate return and recommitment of convict Venancio Villanueva to the National Penitentiary, Muntinlupa, Rizal, pursuant to its judgment of conviction of July 30, 1975. "

Venancio and his father opposed the Solicitor General's motion and counter-petitioned for the release of the former. The Solicitor General replied to the opposition and opposed the petition. Venancio filed a rejoinder and finally on December 4, 1976, the respondent court issued the following order: The Solicitor General, in his motion dated August 2, 1976 which seeks to set aside the resolution of this Court, dated December 17, 1975, argues that the latter is null and void as the judgment of conviction promulgated on July 30, 1975 has already become final and executory without the accused having interposed any appeal and has, in fact, commenced serving his sentence, so that the Court had lost jurisdiction over the case, and that Presidential Decree No. 603 is not applicable to the herein accused who had attained the age of majority on the date of the promulgation of the judgment against him. The accused, thru counsel, was required to file his responsive pleading to the above-mentioned motion, and on October 14, 1976, Counter-Petition for the Release of the Accused Youthful Offender and Opposition to Solicitor-General's Motion, was received, to which pleading, the Solicitor-General filed Opposition/Reply to Counter-Petition and Opposition to Motion, on October 26, 1976. Accused, on November 9, 1976, submitted his reply to Opposition/Reply of the Solicitor-General. The Court has exhaustively examined the above motion of the Solicitor-General, together with the opposition thereto filed by the accused thru counsel, and the subsequent plealdings filed by them. It also reviewed and re-examined the urgent motion of the accused for the Court to apply Chapter 3 of Presidential Decree No. 603, in his favor, as well as the opposition thereto submitted by the trial fiscal, and in all humility and candor, it hereby acknowledges having committed an erroneous appreciation of Chapter 3 of the presidential decree in question, having relied on the constitutional precept that the law must be liberally construed in favor of the accused, and was of the honest belief that the decree is applicable to all offenders who commit offenses before reaching the age of twenty-one years, irrespective of the age of the offender when the judgment of conviction is promulgated. There is, therefore, no necessity of discussing in detail the pros and cons as ventilated by the parties in their pleadings. Suffice it to state that the Court indeed committed an honest mistake in applying the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603 in favor of the accused in this case, for as correctly pointed out by the Solicitor-General and by the trial fiscal in the latter's written opposition to the Motion of Accused for the Application of Chapter 3 of Presidential Decree No. 603, the Court acted without jurisdiction in issuing the resolution in question, it appearing that on July 30, 1975 when the judgment of conviction was promulgated, accused Venancio Villanueva was more than 21 years old, and the latter not having interposed any appeal nor motion for reconsideration, the sentence had long become final and executory when the Court, on December 17, 1975, resolved to transfer the custody of the prisoner from the Director of Prisons, to the National Training School for Boys, now the Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center, for rehabilitative purposes pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603. The Court having reversed its stand on the subject matter as it fully agrees with the posture taken by the Solicitor-General in that it did not have anymore jurisdiction to take cognizance of the motion of the accused who invoked that the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603 be applied in his favor, which decree is not applicable to him, the judgment of conviction against him having been promulgated when he was already more than 21 years old, there is no alternative left but to grant the relief sought by the Solicitor-General. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, order is hereby issued: 1. Declaring as null and void the Resolution of this Court dated December 17, 1975, together with all the proceedings had thereunder, for lack of jurisdiction; and 2. Ordering the Officer in Charge of the National Training School for Boys, now the Don Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center, Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, to immediately return and recommit Prisoner Venancio Villanueva to the Director, National Penitentiary, New Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, pursuant to the judgment of conviction rendered against him on July 30, 1975. (Expediente, pp. 178-181.) On February 4, 1977, the respondent court denied Venancio's motion for reconsideration but gave him thirty days from notice to appeal to this Court by certiorari. In the instant petition, the orders of the respondent court dated December 4, 1976, and February 4, 1977, are assailed and the following issues are submitted for resolution, namely:

I. WAS THE RESPONDENT COURT AMPLY VESTED WITH JURISDICTIONAL POWER AND AUTHORITY TO RENDER ITS RESOLUTION OF DECEMBER 17,1975 (ANNEX G) DECLARING NULL AND VOID ITS PROMULGATION OF JUDGMENT ON THE CASE ON JULY 30,1975 (ANNEX A) AND ORDERING THE DIRECTOR OF PRISONS TO DELIVER THE PERSON OF PETITIONER TO THE CUSTODY AND CARE OF THE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE VICENTE MADRIGAL REHABILITATION CENTER, SAMPALOC, TANAY, RIZAL PURSUANT TO, AND FOR THE APPLICATION OF, THE BENEFICIAL PROVISIONS OF PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 603. II. AFTER THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ITS RESOLUTION OF DECEMBER 17, 1975 (ANNEX G) AND WITH THE FAVORABLE FINAL REPORT OF THE INSTITUTION CONCERNED (ANNEX I) HAVING BEEN DULY SUBMITTED FOR APPROVAL, DOES THE RESPONDENT COURT HAVE JURISDICTION TO DECLARE NULL AND VOID ITS OWN AFOREMENTIONED RESOLUTION AND THE PROCEEDINGS HAD THEREUNDER, THEREBY, RESUSCITATING AND REVIVING ITS SENTENCE OF JULY 30, 1975 (ANNEX A) UPON PETITIONER AND ORDERING THE LATTER'S RECOMMITMENT TO THE NATIONAL PENITENTIARY UNDER ITS QUESTIONED ORDER DATED DECEMBER 4, 1976 (ANNEX R). III. HAS THE QUESTIONED ORDER OF THE RESPONDENT COURT DATED DECEMBER 4, 1976 (ANNEX R) VIOLATED THE PETITIONER'S RIGHTS UNDER THE DUE PROCESS AND DOUBLE JEOPARDY CONSTRAINTS OF THE NEW CONSTITUTION. The petition is not impressed with merit and should be denied. Anent the first issue, even if it be assumed that P.D. No. 603 which became effective on June 10, 1975, can be applied retroactively in favor of a youth who had committed an offense long before the decree took effect, in this case on February 22, 1974, We do not believe that the respondent court was legally justified in issuing its resolution of December 17, 1975. It should be recalled that Title VIII (Special Categories of Children) of Chapter 3 (Youthful Offenders) of the Code, defines a youthful offender as "one who is over nine years but under twenty-one years of age at the time of the commission of the offense." (Art. 189.) And Article 192 of the same Code reads: ART. 192. Suspension of Sentence and Commitment of Youthful Offender. If after hearing the evidence in the proper proceedings, the court should find that the youthful offender has committed the acts charged against him the court shall determine the imposable penalty, including any civil liability chargeable against him. However, instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction, the court shall suspend all further proceedings and shall commit such minor to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare, or to any training institution operated by the government, or duly licensed agencies or any other responsible person, until he shall have reached twenty-one years of age or, for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the Department of Social Welfare or the agency or responsible individual under whose care he has been committed. (Arts. 189 and 192 are quoted as they were on July 30, 1975, when the decision against enancio was promulgated. Art. 189 was amended by P.D. No. 1179 on August 15, 1977; the age of 21 was reduced to 18 years. Art. 192 was also amended by P.D. No. 1179 and again by P.D. No. 1210 dated October 11, 1977.) It is true that Venancio was a youthful offender as defined by Art. 189 because he was under 21 years of age when he committed the offense on February 22, 1974. However, when he was sentenced on July 30, 1975, he was over 21 years old and under the terms of Art. 192 (as well as Art. 197) he was no longer entitled to suspension of sentence. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Venancio was entitled to suspension of sentence on July 30, 1975, the failure of the respondent court to accord it to him did nullify its judgment for the reason that a wrong judgment is not a void judgment provided the court which rendered it had jurisdiction to try the case. The respondent court had such jurisdiction. The result is that the judgment rendered by the respondent court on July 30, 1975, was a valid one and it became final when Venancio did not appeal but instead commenced to serve the sentenced imposed upon him. Venancio's urgent motion invoking the benefits of P.D. No. 603 aside from lacking merit was filed out of time. Consequently, the resolution issued by the respondent court on December 17, 1975, was void for want of jurisdiction. Its orders dated December 4, 1976, and February 4, 1977, which merely reiterated its previous valid judgment are likewise valid. The petitioner argues that under Sections 5 and 6 of the Rules of Court, courts have the inherent power to amend their judgments so as to make them conformable to law. True, but judgments which are subject to amendment are those which have not yet attained finality. For to allow courts to amend final judgments will result in endless litigation.

Finally, Section 9 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court is invoked. The section reads: SEC. 9. Existing provisions governing suspension of sentence, probation and parole, not affected by this rule. Nothing in this rule shall be construed as affecting any existing provision in the law governing suspension of sentence, probation or parole. The provision above-quoted is unavailing to the petitioner not only because he is not entitled to suspension of sentence but also because such a provision cannot affect a final judgment. The preceding elucidation likewise resolves the second and third issues. It is only useful to add in respect of the third issue that considering, as We have held, that the resolution of December 17, 1975, was both void for lack of jurisdiction and unjustified because it was issued pursuant to a motion which lacked merit, whereas the orders dated December 4, 1976 and February 4, 1977, are valid, due process and double jeopardy which are claimed for the petitioner are utterly irrelevant. WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed; the assailed orders mentioned above are hereby upheld. Costs against the petitioner. SO ORDERED. Makasiar (Chairman), Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Guerrero, De Castro and Escolin, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. 159208 August 18, 2006 RENNIE DECLARADOR, Petitioner, vs. HON. SALVADOR S. GUBATON, Presiding Judge, Branch 14, Roxas City, and FRANK BANSALES,Respondents. DECISION CALLEJO, SR., J.: This is a Petition for Certiorari seeking to nullify the portion of the Decision 1 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Roxas City, Branch 14, in Criminal Case No. C-1419-10-2002, suspending the sentence of respondent Frank Bansales and ordering his commitment to the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth at Concordia, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. Frank Bansales was born on June 3, 1985. He was a student at the Cabug-Cabug National High School in President Roxas, Capiz. At around 9:45 a.m. on July 25, 2002, Yvonne Declarador was stabbed to death. After conducting the autopsy on the cadaver, Rural

Health Physician Pilar Posadas prepared a PostMortem Certificate indicating that the victim sustained 15 stab wounds on different parts of the body. 2 On October 10, 2002, an Information charging Frank Bansales with murder was filed by the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor with the Family Court. The accusatory portion reads: That on or about 9:45 oclock in the morning of July 25, 2002, inside a classroom in Cabug-Cabug National High School in President Roxas, Capiz, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused armed with a knife and with intent to kill, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and stab with the said knife [his] teacher, one YVONNE DECLARADOR, thereby hitting and inflicting upon the latter multiple fatal stab wounds in the different parts of the body which caused the immediate death of the said Yvonne Declarador. The crime was committed with the attendance of the qualifying aggravating circumstances of evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength considering that the attack was made by the accused using a long knife which the latter carried along with him from his house to the school against his lady teacher who was unarmed and defenseless at that

time and by inflicting upon the latter about fifteen (15) fatal knife wounds resulting to her death. 3 In view of the plea of the accused and the evidence presented, the RTC rendered judgment on May 20, 2003 finding Bansales guilty of murder. However, the court suspended the sentence of the accused and ordered his commitment to the Regional Rehabilitation for Youth at Concordia, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: In view of the Plea of Guilty by the accused and the evidence presented by the prosecution, the court finds CICL Frank Bansales GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder being charged. Being a minor, 17 years of age at the time of the commission of the offense charged, he is entitled to a special mitigating circumstance of minority, and is sentenced to suffer an indeterminate imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to seventeen (17) years and four (4) month of reclusion temporal and to pay the heirs of Yvonne Declarador, a civil indemnity of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P75,000.00), Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) for moral damages, Forty-Three Thousand Pesos (P43,000.00) for funeral expenses, attorneys fee of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) and unearned income of One

Million Three Hundred Seventy Thousand Pesos and Seventy Centavos (P1,370,000.70). The parents (father and mother of juvenile Frank Bansales) and his teacher-in-charge at the CabugCabug National High School of President Roxas, Capiz, are jointly subsidiarily liable in case of insolvency, as the crime was established to have been committed inside the classroom of CabugCabug National High School and during school hours. Pursuant to the provision of P.D. 603, as amended, the sentence is suspended and the Child in conflict with the law (CICL), Frank Bansales is ordered committed to the Regional Rehabilitation Center for Youth at Concordia, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. Furnish copies of this decision the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor, the Private Prosecutors, the DSWD Capiz Provincial Office, Roxas City, the Regional Rehabilitation for Youth, Concordia, Guimaras, the accused and his counsel, Atty. Ramcez John Honrado. SO ORDERED. 4 On June 2, 2003, the RTC set a preliminary conference for 10:00 a.m. of June 10, 2003 with the Public Prosecutor, the Social Welfare Officer of the court, and the Officer-in-Charge of the Regional

Rehabilitation Center for Youth, considering that the accused would turn 18 on June 3, 2003. 5 Rennie Declarador, the surviving spouse of the deceased, filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing that portion of the decision of the trial courts decision suspending the sentence of the accused and committing him to the rehabilitation center. Petitioner claimed that under Article 192 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 603, as well as A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC (otherwise known as the Rule on Juveniles in Conflict with the Law), the benefit of a suspended sentence does not apply to a juvenile who is convicted of an offense punishable by death, 6 reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. Citing the ruling of this Court in People v. Ondo, 7 petitioner avers that since Bansales was charged with murder punishable by reclusion perpetua to death, he is disqualified from availing the benefits of a suspended sentence. In his Comment, Bansales avers that petitioner has no standing to file the petition, considering that the offense charged is a public crime brought in the name of the People of the Philippines; only the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is authorized to file a petition in court assailing the order of the RTC which suspended the service of his sentence. He further

avers that Section 32 of A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC entitles the accused to an automatic suspension of sentence and allows the court to commit the juvenile to the youth center; hence, the court did not abuse its discretion in suspending the sentence of the accused. In reply, petitioner maintains that he has sufficient personality to file the petition. The OSG, for its part, posits that respondents sentence cannot be suspended since he was charged with a capital offense punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. It insists that the entitlement of a juvenile to a suspended sentence does not depend upon the sentence actually imposed by the trial court but upon the imposable penalty for the crime charged as provided for by law. The issues for resolution are the following: (1) whether petitioner has standing to file the petition; (2) whether petitioner violated the doctrine of hierarchy of courts in filing his petition with this Court; and (3) whether respondent court committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in ordering the suspension of the sentence of respondent Bansales and his commitment to the Regional Rehabilitation Center for the Youth. The petition is granted.

On the first issue, we rule for the petitioner. Being the surviving spouse of the deceased and the offended party, he has sufficient personality to file the instant special civil action for certiorari. 8 This is in line with the underlying spirit of the liberal construction of the Rules of Court in order to promote their object. 9 Moreover, the OSG has filed its comment on the petition and has joined the petitioner in his plea for the nullification of the assailed portion of the RTC decision. On the second issue, the rule is that a petition for review on certiorari which seeks to nullify an order of the RTC should be filed in the Court of Appeals in aid of its appellate jurisdiction. 10 A direct invocation of the original jurisdiction of the Court to issue writs of certiorari may be allowed only when there are special and important reasons therefor clearly and specifically set out in the petition. 11 This is an established policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon this Courts time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further overcrowding of the Courts docket. 12 However, in Fortich v. Corona, 13 the Court held that considering the nature and importance of the issues raised and in the interest of speedy justice, and to avoid future litigations, the Court may take cognizance of a petition for certiorari directly filed

before it. 14 Moreover, this Court has suspended its own rules and excepted a particular case from their operation whenever the interests of justice so require. In this case, we resolve to take cognizance of the case, involving as it does a juvenile and the application of the Rule on Juveniles in Conflict with the Law. The charge against respondent Bansales was murder with the qualifying circumstance of either evident premeditation or abuse of superior strength. Under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act (Rep. Act) No. 7659, the imposable penalty for the crime is reclusion perpetua to death. The trial court found him guilty of murder. Article 192 of P.D. No. 603, as amended, provides: Art. 192. Suspension of Sentence and Commitment of Youthful Offender. If after hearing the evidence in the proper proceedings, the court should find that the youthful offender has committed the acts charged against him, the court, shall determine the imposable penalty, including any civil liability chargeable against him. However, instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction, the court, upon application of the youthful offender and if it finds that the best interest of the public, as well as that of the offender will be served thereby, may suspend all further proceedings and

commit such minor to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or to any training institution operated by the government or any other responsible person until he shall have reached twenty-one years of age, or for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or the government training institution or responsible person under whose care he has been committed. Upon receipt of the application of the youthful offender for suspension of his sentence, the court may require the Department of Social Welfare and Development to prepare and submit to the court a social case study report over the offender and his family. The youthful offender shall be subject to visitation and supervision by the representative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development or government training institution as the court may designate subject to such conditions as it may prescribe. The benefits of this article shall not apply to a youthful offender who has once enjoyed suspension of sentence under its provisions or to one who is convicted for an offense punishable by death or life imprisonment or to one who is convicted for an offense by the Military Tribunals.

The law was reproduced in A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC where, except for those under paragraph 3, Section 32 of the law, the sentence of the accused is automatically suspended: Sec. 32. Automatic Suspension of Sentence and Disposition Orders. The sentence shall be suspended without need of application by the juvenile in conflict with the law. The court shall set the case for disposition conference within fifteen (15) days from the promulgation of sentence which shall be attended by the social worker of the Family Court, the juvenile, and his parents or guardian ad litem. It shall proceed to issue any or a combination of the following disposition measures best suited to the rehabilitation and welfare of the juvenile: care, guidance, and supervision orders; Drug and alcohol treatment; Participation in group counseling and similar activities; Commitment to the Youth Rehabilitation Center of the DSWD or other centers for juvenile in conflict with the law authorized by the Secretary of DSWD. The Social Services and Counseling Division (SSCD) of the DSWD shall monitor the compliance by the juvenile in conflict with the law with the disposition measure and shall submit regularly to the Family Court a status and progress report on the matter. The Family Court may set a conference for the evaluation of such report in the presence, if practicable, of the

juvenile, his parents or guardian, and other persons whose presence may be deemed necessary. The benefits of suspended sentence shall not apply to a juvenile in conflict with the law who has once enjoyed suspension of sentence, or to one who is convicted of an offense punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, or when at the time of promulgation of judgment the juvenile is already eighteen (18) years of age or over. Thus, it is clear that a person who is convicted of an offense punishable by death, life imprisonment, or reclusion perpetua is disqualified from availing the benefits of a suspended sentence. "Punishable" is defined as "deserving of, or capable, or liable to punishment; liable to be punished; may be punished; liable to punishment." 15 The word "punishable" does not mean "must be punished," but "liable to be punished" as specified. 16 In U.S. v. Villalon, 17the Court defined punishable as "deserving of, or liable for, punishment." Thus, the term refers to the possible, not to the actual sentence. It is concerned with the penalty which may be, and not which is imposed. The disqualification is based on the nature of the crime charged and the imposable penalty therefor, and not on the penalty imposed by the court after trial. It is not the actual penalty imposed but the possible

one which determines the disqualification of a juvenile. 18 Despite the disqualification of Bansales, respondent Judge, nevertheless, ordered the suspension of the sentence meted against him. By this act, respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction. We note that, in the meantime, Rep. Act No. 9344 took effect on May 20, 2006. Section 38 of the law reads: SEC. 38. Automatic Suspension of Sentence. Once the child who is under eighteen (18) years of age at the time of the commission of the offense is found guilty of the offense charged, the court shall determine and ascertain any civil liability which may have resulted from the offense committed. However, instead of pronouncing the judgment of conviction, the court shall place the child in conflict with the law under suspended sentence, without need of application: Provided, however, That suspension of sentence shall still be applied even if the juvenile is already eighteen (18) years of age or more at the time of the pronouncement of his/her guilt. Upon suspension of sentence and after considering the various circumstances of the child, the court shall impose the appropriate disposition measures as provided in the Supreme Court on Juveniles in Conflict with the Law.

The law merely amended Article 192 of P.D. No. 603, as amended by A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC, in that the suspension of sentence shall be enjoyed by the juvenile even if he is already 18 years of age or more at the time of the pronouncement of his/her guilt. The other disqualifications in Article 192 of P.D. No. 603, as amended, and Section 32 of A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC have not been deleted from Section 38 of Rep. Act No. 9344. Evidently, the intention of Congress was to maintain the other disqualifications as provided in Article 192 of P.D. No. 603, as amended, and Section 32 of A.M. No. 02-1-18-SC. Hence, juveniles who have been convicted of a crime the imposable penalty for which is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment or reclusion perpetua to death or death, are disqualified from having their sentences suspended. Case law has it that statutes in pari materia should be read and construed together because enactments of the same legislature on the same subject are supposed to form part of one uniform system; later statutes are supplementary or complimentary to the earlier enactments and in the passage of its acts the legislature is supposed to have in mind the existing legislations on the subject and to have enacted the new act with reference thereto. 19 Statutes in pari materia should be construed together to attain the purpose of an expressed national policy. 20

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is GRANTED. The Order of the respondent Judge suspending the sentence of respondent Frank Bansales is NULLIFIED. SO ORDERED. ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR. Associate Justice WE CONCUR: ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN Chief Justice Chairperson CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO, MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ Associate Justice Associate Justice MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO Associate Justice CERTIFICATION

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

G.R. Nos. 102361-62 May 14, 1993 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. RUDY FRONDA, defendant-appellant. The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. Juan T. Antonio for accused-appellant.

BIDIN, J.:

Appellant, Rudy Fronda, together with Reynaldo Agcaoili were charged with murder before Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Co Cagayan in two separate information, Criminal Cases No. 10-3 and 10-308 alleged to have been committed in conspiracy with several John Does. Appellant and his co-accused were accuse

killing the brothers Esminio and Edwin Balaan of Allacapan, Ca in the two identically worded informations alleging the offense t been committed as follows:

That on or about June 11, 1968, in the municipality Allacapan, province of Cagayan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accus Reynaldo Agcaoili and Rudy Fronda, together with several John Does who were not identified, armed guns and sharp-pointed instruments, conspiring to and helping one another, with intent to kill, with evi premeditation, with treachery, inconsideration of a or reward and with the aid of armed men, forcibly t one Edwin Balaan from his residence and brought tothe mountains of Barangay Tulong, Allacapan,Cagayan, and there and then, the accus pursuance of their conspiracy, did then and there w unlawfully, and feloniously assault, attack torture a stabbed (sic) the said Edwin Balaan/Esmenio Bala inflicting upon him wounds on his body which caus death. (Rollo, pp. 122-123)

On May 29, 1989, Reynaldo Agcaoili was arrested but was subsequently released on bail two days after. On June 2, 1989 appellant Rudy Fronda was arrested and detained. Upon arraignment, both appellant and accused Reynaldo Agcaoili ple not guilty to the charge of murder. Thereafter, trial ensued.

On August 7, 1991, the trial court promulgated its decision conv appellant and acquitting Reynaldo Agcaoili of the crime charged

decretal portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, under cool reflection and fortified b balm of clear judicial conscience, the Court enters verdict of acquittal in favor of the accused Reynald Agcaoili for the crime of murder as charged, in both Criminal Cases Nos. 10-304 and 10-308, with cost oficio. His bail bond is cancelled and the documen submitted in support thereof may now be withdraw the records under proper receipt.

As against the accused Rudy Fronda, the Court fin him guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principal by indispensable cooperation for the crime of murder charged in both Criminal Cases Nos. 10-304 and 1 308, and sentences him to suffer in each case, the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, with all the accessory penalties provided for by law and to pay costs. He is ordered to each pay (sic) the heirs of t deceased Edwin (Eduardo) Balaan and Esminio B the amount of:

1. P50,000.00 compensatory damages 2. P50,000.00 death indemnity 3. P20,000.00 moral damages 4. P30,000.00 exemplary damages 5. P15,000.00 expenses during the wake of Esmenio Balan 6. P10,000.00 expenses during the wake of

Edwin Balaan.

all for the grand total of Three Hundred Twenty Fiv Thousand (P325,000.00) Pesos, but without subsid imprisonment in case of insolvency.

In the service hereof, the accused Rudy Fronda sh entitled to the full length of time, he underwent preventive imprisonment, provided he voluntarily a in writing to abide by the same disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners, otherwise, he s be credited to only four fifth (4/5) thereof. (Art. 29, as amended by RA 617, June 17, 1979; US vs. Or 38 Phil. 341; People vs. Chavez, 126 SCRA 1).

MORE, there being two (2) perpetual penalties imp upon the accused Rudy Fronda the maximum simultaneous service of his sentence shall in no ca exceed forty (40) years. (Art.70, RPC, amended by Act No. 217, threefold rule). xxx xxx xxx SO ORDERED. (Rollo, pp. 76-77).

The antecedent facts, as found by the trial court are as follows:

At about 6:00 o'clock in the morning of June 11, 19 the deceased Eduardo (Edwin) Balaan And Esmin Balaan who are brothers, were take by seven (7) a men in fatigue uniform with long firearms, suspecte

be NPA members, accompanied by accused Rudy Fronda and Roderick Padua from the house of one Ferminio Balaan, at Barangay Cataratan, Allacapa Cagayan. The said Rudy Fronda and Roderick Pad are residents of the same place. The armed men ti hands of the deceased at their back lying down fac downward, in front of the house of Ferminio Balaan armed men together with Roderick Padua and Rud Fronda proceeded towards sitio Tulong, Cataratan Allacapan, Cagayan passing through the ricefields (taking along with them the Balaan brothers). xxx xxx xxx

Accused Rudy Fronda testified that on the night of 10, 1986, he was taken by the NPA's from his hous accompanied by Robert Peralta, alias Ka Jun and Roderick Padua, to look for the Balaan brothers. T were around nine (9) NPA's with then. They found Balaan and Esmineo Balaan, at the house of Ferm Balaan, a brother. They tied their wrists/hands and brought them to the mountain at Sitio Tulong, Cata Allacapan, Cagayan. After that, the NPA's instructe them to go home, but in the afternoon of the same June 11, 1986, Robert Peralta, alias Ka Jun, sent E Martinez, Orlando Gonzales, George Peralta and Librado Duran to get him and further he was order get a spade and a crowbar. They were ordered to hole in the mountain, one (1) kilometer away from

house.

On March 21, 1989, the bodies or remains of the B brothers were examined by the 17th Infantry Batta under Capt. Benedicto. After which, the remains, (b were brought to the house of one Freddie Arevalo, relative of the deceased, at Barangay Cataratan, w they were laid in state for the wake. (Rollo, pp. 27-

In its decision, the trial court made a lengthy enumeration of established facts and circumstances which was made the basis the conviction of appellant, to wit :

1) Appellant and Roderick Padua, and NPA member were the o who pointed the house where the brothers Balaan were to be fo 2) appellant and Roderick Padua accompanied the members o armed group to said house, and tied the victims' hands, 3) appe was handed a hunting knife by one of the armed men when the the house, 4) appellant joined the members of the armed group bringing the victims to a forested area in the mountains, 5) it wa appellant who provided the spade and crowbar used in digging hole where the Balaan brothers were buried, 6) appellant was t one who pointed the location where the victms' bodies buried, 7 appellant, for a period of more than three (3) years, failed to rep the incident to the authorities, and 8) appellant did not in any w object, when he was ordered to tie the hands of the victims. On the basis of the foregoing, the trial court declared:

In fine, all of these circumstances constitute a unbr

chain which leads to a fair conclusion that accused Fronda is guilty as a principal by indispensable cooperation (People vs. Colinares, 163 SCRA 313 even as the same circumstances are inconsistent w each other, and at the same time inconsistent with other hypothesis, except that of guilty (People vs. Trinidad 162 SCRA 714), all cited in the recent cas People vs. Tiongson, G.R. No. 89823, June 19, 19

It is crystal clear and conclusion is inescapable tha cooperation was indeed indispensable in the consumation of the crime charged, without which it would not have been accomplished, (Art. 17, No. 3 RPC).

Accused Rudy Fronda shared the guilty purpose a encouraged and abetted the crime by his actuation above illustrated, even though he may have taken part in the execution. The chain of circumstances a narrated above will show that he has rendered the required assistance intentionally and knowingly, wh led to the execution of the felony. His external acts than explain his participation as principal by indispensable cooperation. Such external overt act more than significant enough constittuting convinci proof leading to the ineluctable finding that accuse Rudy Fronda is guilty as such. (Rollo, pp. 74-75)

Appellant assails the decision of the trial court, setting forth the

following assignment of errors: I.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY OF MURDER IN COUNTS AND SENTENCING HIM TO SUFFER T PENALTY OF RECLUSION PERPETUA IN EACH COUNT. II. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT GUILTY BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT BY CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE. (Appellant's Brief, p. 1)

Accused-appellant maintains that the prosecution was not able present evidence to prove his participation in the killing of the brothers Balaan. The defense submits that appellant was mere taken by the armed men as a "pointer" and as such, he could n considered as a principal by indispensable cooperation for the that the armed men could have taken other persons to perform acts done by appellant. Furthermore, appellant interposes the exempting circumstance of uncontrollable fear (Art. 12 [6] RPC claiming that all his acts were performed under the impulse of uncontrollable fear and to save his life.

This case hinges on the issue of whether or not accused-appel could be convicted as a principal by indispensable cooperation

through circumstantial evidence.

Paragraph 3, Article 17, of the Revised Penal Code considers a principals by indispensable cooperation "those who cooperate i commission of the offense by another act without which it could have been accomplished". Its requisites are (1) participation of subject accused in the criminal resolution and (2) performance him of another act indispensable to the accomplishment of the

Records show that appellant's participation in the commission o crime consisted of: (1) leading the members of the armed group the house where the victims were found; (2) tying the victims' h and (3) digging the grave where the victims were buried. Howe has been established through the testimony of Alex Utrera, a fo member of the NPA, that appellant was only picked-up by the a men for the purpose of pointing the residence of the victims. Th armed men never disclosed their purpose in looking for the bro Balaan who were former members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines nor did the armed men inform appellant of their plan abduct and kill the two brothers.

Save for the open admission of appellant that he was an NPA "supporter", no incontrovertible proof was adduced by the prosecution supporting the conclusion that appellant agreed wit members of the armed group to kill the brothers Balaan.

Furthermore, prosecution witnesses Freddie Arevalo and Gilbe Viernes testified that the members of the armed group were accompanied by, aside from appellant, another barriomate, Rod Padua, known to be a member of the NPA (Tsn p. 8 & 76).

Undoubtedly, ever without appelant's participation, the assailan could have easily located the Balaan brothers thru the assistan Roderick Padua. Taking account of the number of the assailant alone, it is apparen that the armed men could have nevertheles committed the crime easily without the appellant abetting the commission thereof.

The acts performed by appellant are not, by themselves, indispensable to the killing of the brothers Balaan. As aforesaid considered as a principal by indispensable cooperation, there m be direct participation in the criminal design by another act with which the crime could not have been committed. We note that t prosecution failed to present any evidence tending to establish appellant's conspiracy with the evil designs of the members of t NPA armed group. Neither was it established that appellant's a were of such importance that the crime would not have been committed without him or that he participated in the actual killin

Under the circumstances, appellant cannot therefore be consid as a principal by indispensable cooperation. The trial court, the erred when it found appellant guilty as a principal by indispensa cooperation.

However, appellant's act of joining the armed men in going to th mountains, and his failure to object to their unlawful orders, or s any reluctance in obeying the same, may be considered as circumstances evincing his concurrence with the objectives of t malefactors and had effectively supplied them with material and moral aid, thereby making him as an accomplice. He cannot wi candor, claim that he was unaware of the evil intentions of the a

men which may have been the case had appellant merely guide group to locate the victims' abodes. On the contrary, appellant himself tied the victims' hands and even joined the armed men taking the victims to the hills. Appellant's complicity is made mo manifest by the fact that without any justifiable reason he failed report the incident to the authorities for a period of more than th (3) years.

Article 18 of the Revised Penal Code provides that an accompl one who, not being a principal, "cooperates in the execution of offense by previous or simultaneous acts". Under this provision person is considered as an accomplice if his role in the perpetra of the crime is of a minor character. To be convicted as such, it necessary that he be aware to the criminal intent of the principa thereby cooperates knowingly or intentionally by supplying mat or moral aid for the efficacious execution of the crime.

It is well settled that if there is ample of criminal participation bu doubt exist as to the nature of liability, courts should resolve to the milder form of responsibility, that of an accomplice. (People Doctolero, 193 SCRA 632, [1991] citing People vs. Torejas, 43 158, [1972])

Appellant cannot claim the exempting circumstance of uncontro fear (Art. 12, par. 6, RPC). Fear in order to be valid should be b on a real, imminent or reasonable fear for one's life or limb (Peo vs. Abanes, 73 SCRA 44, [1976]). In the case at bar, records in that appellant was seen being handed by and receiving from on the armed men a hunting knife. Also, as afoesaid, appellant wa able to explain his failure to report the incident to the explain his

failure to report the incident to the authorities for more than thre years. These circumstances, among others, establish the fact t appellant consciously concurred with the acts of the assailants. order that the circumstance of uncontrollable fear may apply, it necessary that the compulsion be of such a character as to lea opportunity to escape or self-defense in equal combat. (People Loreno, 130 SCRA 311, [1984]) Appellant had the opportunity t escape when he was ordered by the armed men to go hoome a bringing the victims the mountains. He did not. Instead he joine armed men when required to bring a spade with which he was ordered to dig the grave. Appellant also chose to remain silent more than three (3) years before reporting the killing to the authorities. Based on these circumstances, We hold that the contemporaneous and subsequent acts of appellant can not be regarded as having been done under the impulse of uncontrolla fear.

Appellant also argues that the trial court erred when it convicted of the crime charged, alleging that no evidence was presented prove any circumstance that would qualify the crime committed murder. Appellant's argument is devoid of merit. Paragraph 1, A 248 of the Revised Penal Code provides that any person who k another, taking advantage of superior strength shall be guilty of murder, and shall be punished by reclusion temporal in the max period to death. It is manifest that the group of assailants comp of seven (7) armed men, and two (2) civilians including appellan Fronda. It had been repeatedly held that the number of assailan armed, may be considered as a qualifying circumstance of abu superior strength. It is indubitable that assailants deliberately us

superior force of such nature as to be clearly out of proportion t means or defense available to the victims People vs. Tandoc (4 Phil. 954 [1920]) and People vs. Verzo (21 SCRA 1403 [1967]) assailants took advantage of their numbers in order to ensure t the brothers Balaan who are said to be former members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines would not be able to put up an defense. The crime thus committed is murder.

Be that as it may, and after considering the attendant circumsta We hold that appellant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt as accomplice to the crime charged i.e. murder. As such, the prop imposable penalty is one degree lower than that prescribed for murder (Art. 52, Revised Penal Code). The penalty for murder is reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death (Art. 248, One degree lower is prision mayor in its maximum period to rec temporal medium (Art. 61 (3), RPC). There being no mitigating agravating circumstances which attended the commission of th crime, the penalty impossable under the law should be applied medium period (Art. 64 [1], RPC) and applying the Indetermina Sentence Law, appellant is hereby sentenced in each case to s imprisonment ranging from eight (8) years and one (1) day of p mayor as minimum to fourteen (14) years eight (8) months and (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the trial court is hereb MODIFIED to the extent above indicated and AFFIRMED in all aspects. Costs against appellant. SO ORDERED.

Feliciano, Davide, Jr., Romero and Melo, JJ., concur.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC G.R. Nos. L-45280-81 June 11, 1981, THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. FELIX GARCIA and PASTOR MINDAROZA, accused appellants.

GUERRERO, J.: Before Us for automatic review is the Joint Decision Rendered by the Court of First Instance of Laguna and San Pablo City, 8th Judicial District, Branch III, in Criminal Cases Nos. 708-SP and 709-SP, imposing the death penalty on Felix Garcia y Mindaroza and Pastor Mindaroza y Tiquiz The complaint in Criminal Case No. 708-SP charged herein appellants with the crime of rape committed as follows: That on or about June 1, 1975, in the City of San Pablo, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused above-named, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with lewd design, by means of force, violence and intimidation and with the use of a deadly weapon, raped complainant LYDIA CATIBOG in the following manner, to wit: both accused dragged the complaint towards a secluded area and once there the accused Felix Garcia violently tore and removed the dress of complainant, while his co-accused Pastor Mindaroza removed her panty, forcing her to lie down, placing himself on top of her while Pastor Mindaroza held her feet, and did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously had carnal knowledge of her against her will. The complaint in Criminal Case No. 709-SP charges:

That on or about June 1, 1975, in the City of San Pablo, Republic of the Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused above-named, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping one another, with lewd design, by means of force, violence and intimidation and with the use of a deadly weapon, raped complainant LYDIA CATIBOG in the following manner, to wit: both accused dragged the complainant towards a secluded place and after accused Felix Garcia has raped her, he held the feet of the complainant while the accused Pastor Mindaroza placed himself on top of her, and did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously had carnal knowledge of her against her will.. Both complaints were signed by the complainant and her mother, Julia Montalbo, who assisted her. The charges in the two criminal cases having been founded upon the same facts, the lower Court tried both cases jointly. The prosecution's version of the incident is as follows: On June 1, 1975, at about 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, the fourteen-year old complainant Lydia Catibog was in her stepfather's coconut plantation untying one of their cows Tethered to a coconut tree about 100 meters from their house. It was then that the two accused Felix Garcia and Pastor Mindaroza, complainant's barriomates and both well-known to her, took hold of her, covered her mouth, threatened her with a knife, and dragged her to a banana plantation about seven meters away. There, both accused forced complainant to he down and took turns in raping her. It was Felix who did it first while Pastor held complainant's feet. Felix tore her dress, slashed her panty with a knife and pulled it down, took off his trousers, placed himself on top of complainant, kissed her, touched her breasts and inserted his penis into her vagina. Complainant felt pain in her female organ. When it was Pastor's turn, Felix held complainant's legs. Pastor kissed complainant, touched her breasts, and inserted her penis into complainant's vagina. All this time, complainant tried to free herself and was crying. After the accused had satisfied their carnal desires, Felix made a remark to the effect that he had already avenged his brother ("naipaghiganti na raw ang kanyang kapatid") and warned complainant not to ten anyone of what happened, otherwise she would be killed. Both accused left. Complainant then raised her panty and pulled down her dress, both torn and blood-stained and walked towards her home. On the way, she met Danilo Diamante. Complainant did not reveal immediately the matter to her mother or stepfather. Her mother came to know of the incident only thirteen (13) days later, or on June 14, 1975. Complainant's mother immediately caged a family conference and it was decided that charges would be filed. On the very same day, the rape was reported to the authorities, to the Barrio Captain and Police, and complainant was internally examined at the San Pablo City Hospital. The MedicoLegal Certificate, which is on record, contains the following findings: Healed laceration at 3:00 o'clock position. Hymen - ruptured. Vaginal opening admits one finger freely.

Smear for spermatozoa - Negative. 1


As for the accused Felix Garcia's remark abovementioned, he was referring to an incident that took place on February 3, 1975 when his brother Raymundo Garcia embraced complainant, which resulted in the filing of charges against said Raymundo at the City Hall. The case was amicably settled later when Raymundo asked complainant's mother for forgiveness and executed a statement (Exhibit "A") wherein he acknowledged his misdeed and promised that he would not repeat the same. The defense had quite a different story to tell, that accused Felix Garcia and complainant had been sweethearts more or less one year prior to the incident in question. They had love trysts in the banana plantation where they had met for about fifteen (1 5) times and complainant allowed Felix to kiss her and have sexual intercourse with her. However, because complainant always insisted that the act should be done in a standing position to avoid pregnancy, there was never any penetration. One such rendezvous took place four days before June 1, 1975 when Felix met complainant again in the banana plantation to make love. Complainant took off her panty and pulled her dress up while Felix unzipped his pants. They were embracing each other and trying to have sexual intercourse in a standing position when they heard someone laugh. It turned out that accused Pastor Mindaroza, first cousin of Felix Garcia, was watching them. Pastor ran away, but complainant was angry at Felix, pushed him and said, "Walanghiya ka bakit mo ibinibilad ako! " She also said that she would bring a complaint against Felix. It was only four days later, or on June 1, 1975, when Pastor and Felix saw each other again, this time at the house of their grandfather, but they did not converse. The trial Court accorded full credence to the testimony of the offended party and rendered the joint decision now under review, the dispositive portion of which is hereinbelow quoted: WHEREFORE, the court finds both accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crimes charged in the aforesaid two informations. In Crim. Case No. 708-SP: the accused Felix Garcia and Pastor Mindaroza are charged with rape with the qualifying circumstance of 'with the use of a deadly weapon,' defined and penalized under Art. 335, par. 3, Rev. Penal Code as amended by R.A. 2632 and R.A. 4111, with reclusion perpetua to death. This is borne out by the facts on the record. The evidence also shows that after Felix Garcia had raped the victim with the help of his co-accused Pastor Mindaroza, the latter in turn with the help of Felix Garcia,

abused the girl. In accordance with settled jurisprudence, this circumstance, although not alleged in the information, may be considered as a generic aggravating circumstance which would call for the imposition of the prescribed penalty in its maximum period, which in accordance with Art. 63, par. 2, No. 2, Rev. Penal Code, should be the greater penalty of death. Since also it is settled that once conspiracy is shown, each is guilty as principal not only of the rape committed by an accused but also of that committed by his co- defendant (People vs. Villa, 81 Phil. 193; People vs. Alfaro, 91 Phil. 404; People vs. Soriano, L-29057, Oct. 30, 1970, 35 SCRA 450; People vs. Canete No. L-3049 1, Jan. 21, 1972, 43 SCRA 14) each of the two accused Felix Garcia as principal by direct participation and Pastor Mindaroza as principal by indispensable cooperation should each be sentenced in criminal case No. 708-SP to suffer the penalty of death, jointly and severally to indemnify the offended party in the sum of P12,000.00 as moral damages, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs. In Crim. Case No. 709-SP, the two accused, are charged with rape with the use of a deadly weapon and the allegation that after accused Felix Garcia has raped the victim, the other accused Pastor Mindaroza with the help of Felix Garcia abused the girl, another circumstance which according to Art. 335, Par. 3, Rev. Penal Code qualifies the crime. This latter circumstance will be appreciated against the accused only as a generic aggravating circumstance which as observed in the preceding paragraph raised the imposible penalty to greater penalty which is death. Also as observed above, defendant it Felix Garcia is liable for the rape committed by Pastor Mindaroza. Hence, the accused Pastor Mindaroza as principal by direct participation and Felix Garcia. as principal by indispensable cooperation, should each be sentenced in crime case No. 709-SP to suffer the penalty of death, jointly and severally to indemnify the offended party in the sum of P12,000.00 as moral damages, without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and to pay the costs. However, in view of the provision of PD 603 (The Child and Youth Welfare Code) Art. 192 thereof, the proceedings herein are suspended and the accused Felix Garcia, born May 2, 1956, and Pastor Mindaroza, born August 6, 1955, are hereby committed to the National Training School for Boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center) Tanay, Rizal, until they shall have reached twentyone (21) years of age or, for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the said government agency. In view of the seriousness of the crime committed and the severity of the imposable penalty, the Director of the aforenamed institution is hereby directed to exercise utmost caution in the safekeeping of the herein accused to forestall possible escape. They should be brought before this Court at the latest upon their reaching the age of 21 to be dealt with in accordance with Art. 197 of said PD 603. SO ORDERED.

City of San Pablo, February 11, 1976. 2


Pursuant to the foregoing judgment, Felix and Pastor were committed to the National Training School for Boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center) in Sampaloc, Tanay, Metro Manila. On June 21, 1976, the Court a quowas informed by the Officer-In-Charge of the said rehabilitation center, Mrs. Constancia G. Bolinao, in a letter dated June 4, 1976, that Felix "left the institution without permission on May 29, 1976 at about 2:00 p.m." 3 On the other hand, Pastor Mindaroza reached the age of twenty-one (21) years on August 6, 1976, and on September 8, 1976, the Department of Social Welfare, through the abovenamed Officer-In-Charge of the Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center, submitted to the lower Court a Final Report dated September 4, 1976 as follows: PASTOR MINDAROZA, who was 21 years of age, last August 6, 1976, accused in the above- entitled was admitted to the National Training School for Boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center), Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal on March 5, 1976 as per order of this Honorable Court dated February 24, 1976 pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603. As per institutional procedure minor upon admission was placed at the Reception Cottage where he was oriented with the rules and regulations of the center as well as the programs and services provided for him towards his total rehabilitation. The importance of the privileges given as provided for by the Presidential Decree 603 were clearly stressed to enable him to have aspiration to make good to merit was early release from the center. During sessions with minor he verbalized his willingness to undergo such process and promised to cooperate. We are glad to inform this Honorable Court that minor has maintained his exemplary behavior since his admission. He has acted remarkably in accordance with the rules and regulations we have in the center. Members of the Rehabilitation Team concurred that he is cooperative, trustworthy, obedient, hardworking and industrious in the performance of his task thereby making him likeable to almost everyone. Aside from his task in the cottage and in the field minor was involved in different activities last summer such as recreational activities like basketball, monthly social and also outings at the different historical spots. Having availed of the services of the National Training School for Boys Rehabilitation Team geared towards his total rehabilitation he gradually reacted positively to all of the therapeutic programs given hint Regarding his spiritual development, Pastor was observed to be a devoted Catholic. He attended masses every Sunday and

Holidays of Obligation. He is presently engaged in tailoring as his chosen vocational course wherein he acquired skills and shows marked interest in it. Record shows that he was visited occasionally by his parents and siblings for which he was so happy and thankful. Such visits had encouraged him to behave properly. Inquiries regarding the plans of his parents revealed that they expressed their intense desire to have minor with them and will be working in a construction which job is now waiting for him. The parents promised to give the love, care and attention due him. Frequent session with minor revealed his eagerness and desire to rejoin his family and is amenable to his parents' plans. He has the determination to leave behind the dubious pasts and do what is right and honest in order to have peacefully with dignity and respect in the community where he properly belongs. WHEREFORE, premises considered, pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603, it is respectfully recommended that the case handed down by this Honorable Court against herein accused, PASTOR MINDAROZA, be dismissed and definitely terminated and that he be discharged from the National Training School for Boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center), Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal to the care and custody of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Apolinario Mindaroza of Bo. San Pedro, San Pablo City.

It is also requested that for its information and guidance this office be advised of whatever action this Honorable Court may deem proper regarding this matter. 4
The foregoing favorable recommendation notwithstanding, the Court a quo on November 4, 1976 pronounced the judgment of conviction insofar as Pastor Mindaroza was concerned. Pertinent portions of the "Promulgation of Judgment (on Pastor Mindaroza)" are quoted hereinbelow: Under Section 197 of PD 603 the court is given the authority either to dismiss the case or to pronounce the judgment of conviction. It is the painful task of the court to decide on the latter course and to pronounce the judgment of conviction. It is impelled by the following considerations (a) the seriousness of the offenses committed (b) the degree of perversity demonstrated by the herein accused in the commission of the crimes as narrated in the decision (c) the herein accused was 19 years, 9 months and 25 days when he abused the victim, age. 14. The court therefore is pronouncing judgment on the herein accused Pastor Mindaroza by the reading of the decision in the presence of the accused.

In view of the death penalty imposed in each of these cases, let the records of these case be forwarded to the Supreme Court for review. 5
Thereafter, Pastor Mindaroza was committed to the National Bilibid Prisons at Muntinlupa, Rizal.
6

At the outset, the first question arises as to whether the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603, otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code, was correctly applied by the trial court to the accused-appellants. Said Code, which was approved on December 10, 1974, took effect six months after its approval, 7 or on June 8, 1975. 8 Before the cut-off date, the law in force was Article 80 of the Revised Penal Code under which a minor "under sixteen years of age at the date of the commission of a grave or less grave felony" was entitled to the benefit of suspended sentence. On the other hand, P.D. 603 granted the benefit of suspended sentence to a youthful offender defined in the first paragraph of its Article 189 as one "who is over nine years but under twenty-one years of age at the time of the commission of the offense. " The records show that at the time the alleged crime was committed on rune 1, 1975, appellants were both nineteen (19) years old, the accused Garcia having been born on May 2, 1956 and Mindaroza on August 6, 1955. A week after the commission of tile crime on June 1, 1975, P.D. 603 took effect on June 8, 1975. On the question whether P.D. 603 may be given retroactive , We rule that since P.D. 603 is more favorable to the accused in that the sentence against them may be suspended, said Decree may be given retroactive effect, not only with the end in view of giving force and effect to the laudable policies for which the P.D. otherwise known as the Child and Youth Welfare Code was promulgated, one of which is that of exerting every effort to promote the child's welfare and enhance his opportunities for a happy and useful life, 9 but also in the light of the provisions of Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code as follows: Retroactive effect of penal laws. Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in rule 5 of article 62 of this Code, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same. The trial court was therefore correct in applying P.D. 603, suspending the sentence on the two accused and committing them to the National Training School for boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center) Tanay, Rizal, until they shall have reached twenty-one years of age or, for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the said government agency. The Director of the aforenamed institution was also directed to exercise utmost caution in the safekeeping of the herein accused to forestall possible escape in view of the seriousness of the crimes committed and the severity of the imposable penalty.

As indicated earlier the accused Felix Garcia left the institution without permission on May 29, 1976 but he was apprehended three years later by the police of San Pablo City on December 13, 1979 and brought before the Court on January 8, 1980 and the judgment of conviction was read and promulgated to said accused Felix Garcia, imposing upon him the penalty of death and to indemnify the offended party jointly and severally with the accused Pastor Mindar0oza the sum of P12,000 as moral damages and to pay the costs. 10 He was likewise committed to the National Penitentiary on January 8, 1980. The promulgation of judgment on the accused Pastor Mindaroza 11 is assailed by the defense counsel as illegal and a complete nullity, contending that pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 603, said accused is entitled to the dismissal of the case insofar as he is concerned and to be finally discharged, on the basis of the Final Report of the Department of Social Welfare dated September 4, 1976. The contention is meritorious. P.D. No. 603 took effect six months after December 10, 1974. Since then, most of the provisions in its Chapter III on Youthful Offenders have been amended by Presidential Decrees Nos. 1179 and 1210, which became effective on August 15, 1977 and October 11, 1977, respectively. The pertinent provisions of P.D. 603, prior to the subsequent amendments, are the following: Art. 196. Dismissal of the case. If it is shown to the satisfaction of the court that the youthful offender whose sentence has been suspended, has behaved properly and has shown his capability to be a useful member of the community, even before reaching the age of majority, upon recommendation of the Department of Social Welfare, it shall dismiss the case and order his final discharge. Art. 197. Return of the Youthful Offender to Court. Whenever the youthful offender has been found incorrigible or has wilfully failed to comply with the conditions of his rehabilitation programs, or should his continued stay in the training institution be inadvisable, he shall be returned to the committing court for the pronouncement of judgment. When the youthful offender has reached the age of twenty-one while in commitment, the court shall determine whether to dismiss the case in accordance with the next preceding article or to pronounce the judgment of conviction. In any case covered by this article the youthful offender shall be credited in the service of his sentence with the full time spent in actual commitment and detention effected under the provisions of this Chapter. 12 There is no doubt as to the applicability of the foregoing provisions to appellant Pastor Mindaroza. Amending Article 80 of the Revised Penal Code, the first paragraph of Article 189 of P.D. 603, prior to its amendment by P.D. 1179, defined a youthful offender as one who is over nine years but under twenty-one years of age at the time of the commission of the offense. 13 Having been born on August 6, 1955, 14 appellant Mindaroza was nineteen years and ten months old at the time he was supposed to have committed the crime for which he was found guilty by the trial Court. We find that the Court a quo erred in failing to comprehend the implications of the second paragraph of Article 197 of P.D. 603. It is clear from said provision that the trial court has two alternative courses of action with respect to a youthful offender whose sentence it had suspended and who is returned to the court upon his reaching the age of majority, and these are: (1) to dismiss the case and order the final discharge of said offender, or (2) to pronounce the judgment of conviction. In plain and simple language, it is either dismissal or sentence. As to the first course of action, the second paragraph of Article 197 makes an explicit referral to Article 196. Thus, when the offender has reached twenty-one, the Court should dismiss the case and discharge the offender if: (1) he has behaved properly and has shown his capability to be a useful member of the community;and (2) the dismissal and discharge is recommended by the Department of Social Welfare. For pronouncement of judgment, however, Article 197 makes no reference to any particular provision, hence at first blush it would appear that the authority of the court to pronounce the sentence is absolute. It was probably for this reason that the Court a quo proceeded, despite Article 196, to promulgate its sentence on appellant Mindaroza, apparently under the notion that the same could be done provided the Court could give its own grounds or justifications. Herein lies the error of the trial Court. The very application of Article 196 to cases of dismissal and discharge necessarily implies that if Article 196 does not apply, i.e., if the requisites for its application are not fulfilled, the court should proceed to pronounce the sentence. In the last analysis, therefore, the final disposition of the case as far as the trial court is concerned, which as stated earlier involves the matter of deciding between dismissal and sentence, rests on how the provisions of Article 196 apply to the case at hand. Article 196 speaks of facts, circumstances or events obtaining after the court has issued the order of commitment of the Youthful offender or, in other words, after the criminal case has been tried and the minor found guilty. In effect, from the time the trial court issues such order of commitment, it is as if the past is temporarily set aside and the youthful offender is given a new lease in life, so that with proper help and guidance, he may yet prove himself to be a useful member of society. What solely becomes of material consequence to the court is what transpired during the period of the youthful offender's commitment. Antecedent matters such as those mentioned by the Court a quo in the instant case, namely, the seriousness of the offenses committed, the degree of perversity demonstrated by the accused in the commission of the crimes, and the age of the accused at the time the offenses were perpetrated, do not have any bearing at all in the determination of whether the case is to be dismissed or sentence is to be pronounced on the defendant.

In the case at bar, that the requisites of Article 196 have been satisfied as to appellant Mindaroza needs no lengthy discussion. A mere perusal of the detailed and complete Final Report of the Department of Social Welfare (now the Ministry of Social Services and Development) through the Officer-In-Charge of the Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center where Mindaroza was committed, suffices to convince Us that under the law, said appellant should now be finally discharged and the case against him dismissed. The Report contains nothing which may, in the slightest, be deemed as adverse or prejudicial to Mindaroza. On the contrary, the language used therein could not have been more favorable and commendatory. Notwithstanding what has been said above, however, Our task is not concluded by the finding that herein appellant Pastor Mindaroza should be discharged pursuant to Article 197 in relation to Article 196 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code, for the same Code explicitly provides: Art. 198. The final release of a child pursuant to the provisions of this Chapter shall not obliterate his civil liability for damages. Such release shall be without prejudice to the right for a writ of execution for the recovery of civil damages. The civil liability for damages referred to is apparently that obligation created by or arising from the crime, otherwise known as ex delicto, 15 the imposition of which is mandated by Articles 100, 104 (3), 107 and 345 (1) of the Revised Penal Code. 16 and is based upon a finding of the guilt of the accused. For the purpose, therefore, of deciding the imposability of the civil liability on said appellant under Article 198 above-quoted, We must review the trial Court decision, particularly that aspect thereof finding Mindaroza guilty of the crime charged. The appeal centers on the alleged existence of reasonable doubt warranting The acquittal of the appellants in that: (1) there was undue delay in reporting the alleged rape, and (2) the evidence for the prosecution is improbable, incredible and inconsistent, especially on the force and violence allegedly employed. After carefully going over the records, however, We find that We are in accord with and, wherefore, affirm the trial Court's evaluation of the evidence, to wit: The court has carefully examined the testimony of complaining witness and has not found a single detail in her story that runs counter to human nature and experience. On the contrary, her entire version of the incident - locale, occasion, opportunity and the manner the act was committed - is inherently credible. The court also had opportunity to observe that the complaining witness was a young innocent-looking girl who testified shyly and in a soft voice in a very straightforward manner. The court therefore accords full credence to the testimony. The motive that the accused would attribute to the complaining witness for filing the complaint against them revenge against Felix Garcia for allegedly exposing her to embarrassment before Pastor Mindaroza is hardly persuasive for it is contrary to human nature that a young girl would expose her sorry plight with all the embarrassment that it entails for a relatively minor thing as self-satisfaction of revenge. The defense though ingenious is puerile in that while suggesting that complaining witness resorted to this charge to same face, it overlooked the fact that a resort to this device was costlier in terms of besmirched reputation and humiliation. Now let us analyze defendant Garcia's version. According to Felix Garcia, he did not have to rape Lydia Catibog because she was his sweetheart. In fact, according to him, he had love trysts with Lydia on no less than 15 occasions and during those times he tried to have sexual intercourse with her but was unable to insert his penis into the girl's vagina because they were doing it in a standing position. Granting that Lydia was a young virgin, the chances still are that Felix Garcia, being a young man, would have made a penetration out of so many attempts. Besides, it stands to reason that after so many failures in the standing position, Felix Garcia would not be lacking in imagination to suggest and resort to the more conventional position of lying down. Felix Garcia also testified that it was not on June 1, 1975 but four (4) days before that date that Lydia and he had a love tryst at the banana plantation, and that it was on this occasion that his coaccused Pastor Mindaroza chanced upon them (Sess. Oct. 30 & Nov. 11, 1975). Now, in his statement Exh. C, taken June 14, 1975, he stated that they were sweethearts for almost a year (Q. No. 10); that one week after they became sweethearts, he and Lydia petted (Q. No. 1 1) the second week, she gave her body to him (Q. No. 1 1) by having sexual intercourse in standing position (Q. No. 12), and it was on the second outing that Pastor Mindaroza surprised them (Q. 15, marked Exh. C-1). Now, if these were true, they were surprised by Pastor Mindaroza about the end of June, 1974, not 4 days beforeJune 1, 1975 as testified to by Felix Garcia on the witness stand. On the other hand, the accused Pastor Mindaroza claimed that he surprised them (Felix Garcia and Lydia Catibog) in a compromising situation about the end of May, 1975 (Sess. Nov. 11, 1975). This coincides with Felix Garcia's testimony, 4 days before June 1, 1975. Yet, Pastor Mindaroza in his statement, Exh. D, declared that he saw Felix and Lydia embracing each other in the month of March (Q. No. 13, marked Exh. D-1).

Defendants' version of the incident is not only inherently unbelievable but categorically belied by Lydia Catibog when she declared that nobody has ever courted her nor had she ever a sweetheart (Sess. Sept. 9, 1975) that before June 1, 1975 she never had any love tryst with the accused Felix Garcia (Sess. Oct. 7, 1975). Defendants' testimonies are also pockmarked with contradictions by their written statements given to the police as shown above. 17

It is, nevertheless, contended in the Joint Brief for Appellants that the unusual silence of the offended party for thirteen (13) days following the alleged incident negates the probability of the commission of rape against her, and that if there was any threat at all to complainant's life, it had ceased to be imminent as she was able to go home to avail of the protection and sympathy of her mother, stepfather, brothers and sisters. It is argued that if it were true that complainant had been raped by appellants, she should have lost no time in seeking justice and retribution. Instead, she admitted that these rape cases were filed only after she learned that appellants were allegedly spreading the news that she was no longer a virgin. We agree with counsel for appellants that "the conduct of the woman immediately following the alleged assault is of utmost importance as tending to establish the truth or falsity of the charge of rape." This Tribunal has so held inU.S. vs. Flores." 18 Thus, it was stressed in the case of People vs. Ordonio 19 that "(t)he course of conduct followed by the party aggrieved from the time of the alleged perpetration of the deed must be carefully scrutinized." In People vs. Savellano, 20 it was held that "(t)he conduct of (complainant) in reporting immediately to the barrio captain that she had been ravised negates appellant's claim that she had voluntary sexual intercourse with him." And in People vs. Ilagan et al," 21 also a rape case, the accused were acquitted by this Court with the following observations: ... if the complainant had really been raped in the early morning of March 28, 1967, she would have shown that same morning manifestations of the outrage perpetrated against her. It is strange that she showed no signs of agitation or disturbance. She remainded calm and silent. She did not complain to the two municipal policemen who were present thereat. She did not even confide to her close lady friends and companions her trouble or predicament. This is not the normal behavior of a woman who had just been violated it indeed she had. Nevertheless, the silence of the offended party in a case for rape, or her failure to disclose her defilement without loss of time to persons close to her and to report the matter to the authorities, does not perforce warrant the conclusion that she was not sexually molested and that her charges against the accused are all baseless, untrue and fabricated. Other relevant facts and circumstances must likewise be considered to determine the veracity of the accusations. Thus, as correctly stated by the Solicitor General in his well-written Brief for the People, it is not unusual for a rape victim to prefer to suffer in silence and keep to herself the shocking and embarrassing experience of her defloration, rather than report the crime and subiect herself to public ridicule and contempt and additional shame and humiliation in having to recall and testify on the manner in which her honor was desecrated. Indeed, this is especially true and to be expected of a young provinciana like the fourteen-year old complainant. Due regard must also be given to the testimony of complainant that the accused made threats on her life. We have no reason to disbelieve complainant, who testified thus: Q Again, what did he say?
A That I must not tell anyone. sir. Huag daw akong magsumbong' because I would be killed. 22

Q Did you tell your mother or your stepfather what happened to you? A I did not, sir. Q Why? A I was afraid of Felix and Pastor, sir. Q Why were you afraid of Pastor and Felix?
A Because I was threatened by Felix and Pastor. 23

Q After this incident happened, what did you feel or how did you react on this incident (sic)? A I could not eat and I have sleepless nights, I could not work and I felt ashamed in facing people and I became a frightened person. ATTY. LINATO Q You stated that you became ashamed to the people, why? A Because of what happened to me, sir. Q You likewise mentioned that you are always frightened, why do you have to be frightened always?

A Because I was threatened by Felix and Pastor. Q In the previous hearing of this case, you testified that you are taking care of three (3) cows and you used to herd the same cows to the coconut plantation everyday, now, are you still doing the same chore everyday from the time this crime was committed by the accused? A Not anymore, sir. ATTY. LINATO Q Why? A Because I am afraid to go out to the coconut plantation. Q Whom are you afraid of?
A Felix and Pastor, sir. 24

The fear engendered by the threats and the desire to avoid further shame were more than sufficient to restrain the young girl from exposing her gruesome experience, and her family would not have come to know of the outrage committed against her had she not learned later that the accused, adding insult to injury, told complainant's cousin, one Guillermo Bunsol that she was no longer a virgin (laspag na). 25 This prompted her to confide in her mother, 26 telling her that she did not do so earlier 27 for fear of the threats on her life. Complainant's mother immediately summoned her other children for a family conference and they all decided to file charges. 28 Considering the foregoing, the interval of thirteen days from the time of the incident to the time it was reported to the barrio captain on June 14, 1975 does not, to Our mind, constitute undue delay which could render the rape charges against herein accused doubtful. The explanation of complainant is not only completely credible, but is likewise corroborated by other evidence on record. Julia Montalbo testified during the direct examination that her daughter, the complainant Lydia Catibog, had become "always lonely" and "could not eat very well at home." On June 14, 1975, Lydia finally unburdened herself and told her (Julia) of how she was raped by the two accused thirteen (13) days before. Julia asked Lydia why she did not confide earlier and the latter answered that she was afraid of the accused because of their threats to kill her. Immediately, Julia caned all her other children Willy, Jose, Erlinda and Pepito, all surnamed Catibog - to talk about the matter and decide upon what action to take. They all agreed that a complaint should be filed against the offenders. They all went to the barrio captain, then to the police headquarters where Lydia was asked to give a statement. On the same day, too, Lydia was examined by a doctor. 29 On the alleged improbability, incredibility and inconsistency in the evidence for the prosecution, the defense points to a discrepancy in the Affidavit of complainant and her testimony in Court as to who held the knife when she was dragged by the accused to the banana plantation. In the Affidavit, complainant stated that "si Felix ay may hawak na lansita." 30 while in Court she testified that Pastor was pointing a knife at her. 31 It appears from the record, however, that complainant has adequately explained away this seeming inconsistency. As examination of the transcript of stenographic notes shows that during her crossexamination, complainant was asked:
Q In this Exhibit 'l' you stated Felix was the one provided with a knife, now at the hearing on August 26, 1975, page 16, transcript of record you made an answer like this 'No, sir. Pastor was holding a knife (lanseta).'Which is true, the one you stated in this Exhibit 1 that Felix to be the one (sic) holding the knife or Felix (should be Pastor) as you alleged during the hearing dated August 26? 32

to which she answered:


A They were alternately holding it, sir. (Halili po sila ng hawak). 33

Complainant's explanation is entirely probable. Moreover, We do not deem the discrepancy to be of such serious nature that could impair the testimony of complainant. What is material is that force was applied on her and she was intimidated by the accused with the use of a knife, a deadly weapon. Furthermore, and We quote from the recently decided case of People vs. Gonzales, et al.: 34 ... the affidavits were not prepared by the witnesses and could contain certain inaccuracies in the interpretation of their declarations. "An affidavit prepared for a man to swear to will not always disclose the whole facts, and will oftentimes and without design incorrectly describe, without the deponent detecting it, some of the occurrences narrated." (2 Moore on Facts, p. 1098). "Being takenex parte, it is almost always incomplete and inaccurate, sometimes from partial suggestions, and sometimes from the want partial suggestions and inquiries, without the aid of which the witness may be unable to recall the connected collateral circumstances necessary for the correction of the first suggestions of his memory, and for hi s accurate recollection of all that

belongs to the subject". (Id., pp. 109495). The defense likewise seeks to destroy the credibility of prosecution witness Danilo Diamante. This witness testified that in the afternoon of June 1, 1975, on his way home from gathering firewood in the land of Cresenciano Exconde complainant's stepfather, he met the two accused who were "walking briskly"; that he greeted them and asked where they had been, and Felix answered, "diyan lang"; that he asked the accused why they were hurrying, but neither gave a reply; that proceeding on his way home, he saw complainant from a distance of about 10 meters, and observed that her hair was disheveled and she was crying; that he asked complainant why she was crying but the latter did not answer, so he went on his way. 35 Witness Diamante is the brother- in-law of complainant's brother, Pepito Catibog. Diamante's relation to complainant, aside from being a remote one, does not necessarily render his testimony unreliable as one emanating from a biased source. We have 36 held in the case of People vs. Padiernos 36 that: "While witnesses may be said to be interested by reason of their relationship with one of the parties, their declarations should not be disregarded or rejected capriciously on the ground of bias alone where as in the present case they are reasonable, consistent and supported by the facts and circumstances." Such is Diamante's testimony in the case at bar. It is true, as the defense points out, that there is an inconsistency in the testimony of witness Diamante. Records show that during cross-examination, the trial Judge asked Diamante if he noticed anything unusual in complainant's dress when he saw her on June 1, 1975 and he replied: "None, your Honor." 37 He was asked again by the defense counsel: Q Her dress (was) not torn? A It had a tear, sir (witness pointing at the level of the upper breast). Q A while ago when you were asked by the Court about the condition of her clothing ..., you said ... that there was nothing unusual at all ... in her dress, will you please explain to the Court why now you said that the upper portion of the dress was torn? ...
A What is correct is that it had a tear on the breast area, sir, upper breast area. 38

We rule that the contradictory statements are not of such a magnitude as to destroy the credibility of Diamante or the veracity of his declarations. The defense finds it improbable that, coming upon complainant in tears, witness Diamante did not do anything to help her. We do not agree. In the first place, Diamante testified that he asked complainant why she was crying, but got no reply. 39 Complainant herself, in her testimony, stated that Diamante .1 greeted me but I did not understand what he said. 40 It cannot, therefore, be said that Diamante did not show any concern at all towards complainant. In the second place, it is very probable that Diamante did not do anything to help her because she did not tell him what happened to her. The defense further complainants that the alleged knife, and the dress and panty of complainant, were not presented in evidence. The non-presentation of the knife, however, does not negate the existence of intimidation. As 'Are stated in another prosecution for rape where a bolo was used by therein accused to intimidate his victim, "(c)onsidering that the bolo was in the hands of appellant and presumably belonged to him, it should not be a cause for wonder why complainant could not present it in evidence. It was not likely that appellant would just leave it at the scene of the crime." Likewise, the non-presentation of the torn and blood-stained dress and underwear of complainant does not destroy the case for the prosecution, there being sufficient and convincing evidence to prove the rape charges beyond reasonable doubt. The fact that no spermatozoa was found on complainant when she was medically examined hardly comes as a surprise. Thirteen (13) days had already elapsed from the time of the rape to the time Dr. Aleli Eubinag conducted the examination of the genital area of complainant on June 14, 1975. This Tribunal has ruled that the absence of spermatozoa does not render doubtful the commission of rape where several hours had elapsed before the offended party was examined. 41 The evidence on record does not support the contention of the defense that the description of the manner by which complainant was raped makes the commission of rape impossible especially considering that complainant was a virgin. Complainant, who was just a young girl of fourteen at the time of the incident, could easily have been overpowered by two adult males. With one of the assailants holding complainant's legs, the other would not have a difficult time consummating the act of sexual intercourse. If one man can succeed in having carnal knowledge of a woman against her wishes, with more reason can two men do the same. In fine, the accused Pastor Mindaroza should and must be released immediately from the New Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa, Rizal to ensure and enable his fullest development physically, mentally, emotionally, morally and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity as a rehabilitated and useful citizen of society. As to the other accused Felix Garcia who escaped from the Rehabilitation Center barely three months from the time he and his co-accused Pastor Mindaroza

were received at the said Center, and was finally arrested by the Police after three years, it is clear that he has wilfully failed to comply with the conditions of his rehabilitation program, and the provisions of Article 197, par. I of P.D. 603 cited earlier must govern his case. In promulgating the judgment of conviction against the accused Felix Garcia, imposing upon him death penalty in each of the two cases, Criminal Case No. 708-SP and Criminal Case No. 1309 -SP the Court was impelled to do so on the following considerations; (a) the seriousness of the offense committed (b) the degree of perversity demonstrated by the herein accused in the commission of the crimes as narrated in the decision (c) the herein accused 19 years, when he abused the victim, age 14. We reiterate Our holding indicated and explained earlier that such antecedent matters do not have any bearing at all in the determination of whether the case is to be dismiss or sentence is to be pronounced on the defendant. We rule that the trial court erred in considering the above considerations. The only considerations according to Article 197 cited above for the return of the youthful offender to the committing court for the pronouncement of judgment are that the said offender has been found incorrigible or has wilfully failed to comply with the conditions of his rehabilitation programs or should his continued stay in the training institution be inadvisable. The next point to consider is whether the penalty of death imposed upon the accused Felix Garcia in each of the two criminal cases for rape is correct. The judgment under review sentenced said accused in Criminal Case No. 708-SP to the penalty of death, applying Article 335, paragraph 3 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by R.A. 2632 and R. A. 4111, considering the circumstance of "with the use of a deadly weapon" as qualifying and the fact that the rape was committed by two persons as a generic aggravating circumstance, which in accordance with Article 63, paragraph 2, No. (1) of the Revised Penal Code raises the penalty to the maximum period which is death. And in Criminal Case No. 709-SP wherein the accused were also charged with rape with the use of a deadly weapon, the lower court considered the fact that after accused Garcia raped the victim, the other accused Mindaroza ab the girl with the help of accused Garcia also as a generic aggravating circumstance which raises the imposable penalty to the greater penalty of death. As amended by Republic Act 2632 approved June 18, 1960 and Republic Act No. 4111 on June 20, 1964, Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code reads as follows: Art. 335. When and how rape committed.-Penalties. Rape is committed by having carnal knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances: 1. By using force or intimidation; 2. When the woman is deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious; and 3. When the woman is under twelve years of age, even though neither of the circumstances mentioned in the two next preceding paragraphs shall be present, The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua. Whenever the crime of rape is committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons, the penalty shall be reclusion perpetua to death. When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, the victim has become insane, the penalty shall be death. When the rape is attempted or frustrated and a homicide is committed by reason or on the occasion thereof, the penalty shall be likewise death. When by reason or on the occasion of the rape, a homicide is committed, the penalty shall be death. In the prosecution of the cases at bar, two circumstances are present, namely: 1. use of deadly weapon and 2. that two persons committed the rapes. The first was alleged in the information while the second was proved at the trial. In both cases, the Court appreciated the first as a qualifying circumstance and the second as a generic aggravating circumstance, in accordance with settled jurisprudence according to the trial court. We do not agree. Under the law above quoted, either circumstance is qualifying. Where the two circumstances are present, there is no legal basis to consider the remaining circumstance as a generic aggravating circumstance for either is not considered as such under Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code enumerating what are aggravating circumstances. Hence, the correct penalty is the lesser penalty, which is reclusion perpetua there being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance, pursuant to Article 63, paragraph 2, No. 2, Revised Penal Code. WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the sentence of death imposed upon the accused Pastor Mindaroza is hereby SET ASIDE and he is hereby discharged and released immediately from confinement. The judgment of conviction against the accused Felix Garcia is hereby AFFIRMED but modified in that the penalty of death in each of the two rape cases is reduced to reclusion perpetua in both cases. The remaining portions of the decision under review shallstand and are hereby affirmed.

SO ORDERED. Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Fernandez, Abad Santos, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur. Concepcion Jr., J., is on leave.

Separate Opinions

AQUINO, J.:, dissenting: The lower court found that Felix Garcia and Pastor Mindaroza to have committed two rapes against Lydia Catibog, 14, on June 1, 1975, when the two accused, first cousins, born respectively, on May 2, 1956 and August 6, 1955, were nineteen years and one month and nineteen years and ten months old. The circumstances that the rapes were committed with the use of a deadly weapon and by two persons were alleged in the information and were proven. Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, imposes reclusion perpetua for simple rape, and reclusion perpetua to death for rape "committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons". The lower court held that the imposable penalties on the two accused are two death penalties because the rapes were qualified by the use of a deadly weapon and the other qualifying circumstance, which is the commission of the rape by two persons, should be considered as a generic aggravating circumstance. The trial court suspended the sentence on the two accused and ordered their confinement in the National Training School for Boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center) located at barrio Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal until they reached the age of twenty-one years. The lower court applied the Child and Youth Welfare Code (Presidential Decree No. 603), which took effect on June 8, 1975 and modified article 80 of the Revised Penal Code. Article 189 of that Code regards as a youthful offender entitled to a suspended sentence one who is over nine years but under twenty-one years at the time of the commission of the offense. Presidential Decree No. 1179, which took effect on August 15, 1977, amended section 189 by regarding as a youthful offender one who is over nine years but under eighteen years of age at the time of the commission of the offense (Virtuoso, Jr. vs, Municipal Judge of Mariveles, Bataan, L- 47841, March 21, 1978, 82 SCRA 191; People vs. Casiguran L-45387, November 7,1979, 94 SCRA 244). Article 192 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code (before it was amended) provides that "if after hearing the evidence in the proper proceedings, the court should find that the youthful offender has committed the acts charged against him the court shall determine the imposable penalty, including any civil liability chargeable against him. However, instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction, the court shall suspend all further proceedings and shall commit such minor to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare, or to any training institution operated by the government, or duly licensed agencies or any other responsible person, until he shall have reached twenty-one years of age or, for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the Department of Social Welfare or the agency or responsible individual under whose care he has been committed". Parenthetically, it should be noted that article 192 was amended by Presidential Decree No. 1179 by requiring the youthful offender to file an application for suspension of his sentence and by providing that those who had previously enjoyed suspension of sentence or those convicted of an offense punished by death or life imprisonment are not entitled to the benefits of a suspended sentence. The trial court erred in applying to these cases the Child and Youth Welfare Code. Since the rapes were committed on June 1, 1975 or before the effectivity of the said Code, these cases are governed by article 80 of the Revised Penal Code under which a youthful offender is one who was below sixteen years at the time the offense was committed, So, the confinement of Garcia and Mindaroza in the correctional institution was a mistake. They are not entitled to suspended sentences under article 80 which is the law applicable to their case. Garcia's case. The officer-in-charge of the training school in a letter dated June 4, 1976 informed the lower court that Garcia left the institution without permission on May 29, 1976. He did not return. The lower court issued on June 21, 1976 a warrant for Garcia's arrest. He was arrested on December 13,1979. The lower court in its order of January 8, 1980 convicted Garcia of two rapes and imposed upon him two death penalties. The said judgment was promulgated

by reading to Garcia the decision of February 11, 1976. The lower court reasoned out that it had to pronounce the judgment of conviction upon Garcia because of the gravity of the offenses committed by him and the degree of perversity exhibited by him in the commission of the rape. A copy of that order of January 8, 1980, promulgating judgment of conviction against Garcia, together with the certificate of promulgation, was forwarded to this Court and received by mail on February 5, 1980. The lower court did not err in convicting Garcia of two rapes but it erred in sentencing him to two death penalties. The death penalties were improperly imposed because under article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended the circumstance that the rape was committed by two or more persons is always a qualifying circumstance. It cannot be regarded as a generic aggravating circumstance. It is not among the aggravating circumstances enumerated in article.14 of the Revised Penal Code. As already noted, the trial court held that the rapes were qualified by the use of a deadly weapon. It regarded the other qualifying circumstance (commission of the rapes by two persons) as a generic aggravating circumstance. I am of the opinion that that is erroneous. No generic aggravating circumstances attended the commission of the two rapes. Hence, the imposable penalty is only reclusion perpetual or the lesser penalty (Art. 6321 Revised Penal Code). Garcia should be sentenced to two reclusion perpetuas and to a total indemnity of P 24,000. Mindarozas case. The officer-in-charge of the training school in her final report dated September 4, 1976, or after Mindaroza had reached the age of twentyone, said that during his stay in the institution his behavior was exemplary. He chose tailoring for his vocation (p. 53, Record). The officer-in-charge recommended that the case against Mindaroza be dismissed and terminated and that he be discharged from the rehabilitation center and entrusted to his parents (p. 53, Record). The lower court in its order of September 10, 1976 directed the officer-in-charge of the rehabilitation center to surrender Mindaroza to the chief of police of San Pablo City so that the said officer could have custody of Mindaroza "for further proceeding in accordance with PD No. 603 " (p. 58, Record). In another order dated November 4, 1976, the lower court, instead of dismissing the case against Mindaroza and ordering his release, "pronounced judgment" on him "by the reading of the decision" in his presence, meaning the decision wherein it was stated that the two rapes were punishable by death (p. 68, Rollo). The lower court assumed that in Mindaroza's case it had the option "either to dismiss the case or to pronounce judgment of conviction" under article 197 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code. The lower court justified its pronouncement of the judgment of conviction upon Mindaroza (instead of releasing him) by citing the gravity of the offenses committed by him and the degree of perversity which he exhibited in the commission thereof. As already stated, the trial court erred in suspending Mindaroza's sentence. As in the case of Garcia, Mindaroza should be sentenced to two reclusion perpetuas.

Separate Opinions AQUINO, J.:, dissenting: The lower court found that Felix Garcia and Pastor Mindaroza to have committed two rapes against Lydia Catibog, 14, on June 1, 1975, when the two accused, first cousins, born respectively, on May 2, 1956 and August 6, 1955, were nineteen years and one month and nineteen years and ten months old. The circumstances that the rapes were committed with the use of a deadly weapon and by two persons were alleged in the information and were proven. Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, imposes reclusion perpetua for simple rape, and reclusion perpetua to death for rape "committed with the

use of a deadly weapon or by two or more persons". The lower court held that the imposable penalties on the two accused are two death penalties because the rapes were qualified by the use of a deadly weapon and the other qualifying circumstance, which is the commission of the rape by two persons, should be considered as a generic aggravating circumstance. The trial court suspended the sentence on the two accused and ordered their confinement in the National Training School for Boys (Vicente Madrigal Rehabilitation Center) located at barrio Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal until they reached the age of twenty-one years. The lower court applied the Child and Youth Welfare Code (Presidential Decree No. 603), which took effect on June 8, 1975 and modified article 80 of the Revised Penal Code. Article 189 of that Code regards as a youthful offender entitled to a suspended sentence one who is over nine years but under twenty-one years at the time of the commission of the offense. Presidential Decree No. 1179, which took effect on August 15, 1977, amended section 189 by regarding as a youthful offender one who is over nine years but under eighteen years of age at the time of the commission of the offense (Virtuoso, Jr. vs, Municipal Judge of Mariveles, Bataan, L- 47841, March 21, 1978, 82 SCRA 191; People vs. Casiguran L-45387, November 7,1979, 94 SCRA 244). Article 192 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code (before it was amended) provides that "if after hearing the evidence in the proper proceedings, the court should find that the youthful offender has committed the acts charged against him the court shall determine the imposable penalty, including any civil liability chargeable against him. However, instead of pronouncing judgment of conviction, the court shall suspend all further proceedings and shall commit such minor to the custody or care of the Department of Social Welfare, or to any training institution operated by the government, or duly licensed agencies or any other responsible person, until he shall have reached twenty-one years of age or, for a shorter period as the court may deem proper, after considering the reports and recommendations of the Department of Social Welfare or the agency or responsible individual under whose care he has been committed". Parenthetically, it should be noted that article 192 was amended by Presidential Decree No. 1179 by requiring the youthful offender to file an application for suspension of his sentence and by providing that those who had previously enjoyed suspension of sentence or those convicted of an offense punished by death or life imprisonment are not entitled to the benefits of a suspended sentence. The trial court erred in applying to these cases the Child and Youth Welfare Code. Since the rapes were committed on June 1, 1975 or before the effectivity of the said Code, these cases are governed by article 80 of the Revised Penal Code under which a youthful offender is one who was below sixteen years at the time the offense was committed, So, the confinement of Garcia and Mindaroza in the correctional institution was a mistake. They are not entitled to suspended sentences under article 80 which is the law applicable to their case. Garcia's case. The officer-in-charge of the training school in a letter dated June 4, 1976 informed the lower court that Garcia left the institution without permission on May 29, 1976. He did not return. The lower court issued on June 21, 1976 a warrant for Garcia's arrest. He was arrested on December 13,1979. The lower court in its order of January 8, 1980 convicted Garcia of two rapes and imposed upon him two death penalties. The said judgment was promulgated by reading to Garcia the decision of February 11, 1976. The lower court reasoned out that it had to pronounce the judgment of conviction upon Garcia because of the gravity of the offenses committed by him and the degree of perversity exhibited by him in the commission of the rape. A copy of that order of January 8, 1980, promulgating judgment of conviction against Garcia, together with the certificate of promulgation, was forwarded to this Court and received by mail on February 5, 1980. The lower court did not err in convicting Garcia of two rapes but it erred in sentencing him to two death penalties. The death penalties were improperly imposed because under article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended the circumstance that the rape was committed by two or more persons is always a qualifying circumstance. It cannot be regarded as a generic aggravating circumstance. It is not among the aggravating circumstances enumerated in article.14 of the Revised Penal Code. As already noted, the trial court held that the rapes were qualified by the use of a deadly weapon. It regarded the other qualifying circumstance (commission of the rapes by two persons) as a generic aggravating circumstance. I am of the opinion that that is erroneous. No generic aggravating circumstances attended the commission of the two rapes. Hence, the imposable penalty is only reclusion perpetual or the lesser penalty (Art. 6321 Revised Penal Code).

Garcia should be sentenced to two reclusion perpetuas and to a total indemnity of P 24,000. Mindarozas case. The officer-in-charge of the training school in her final report dated September 4, 1976, or after Mindaroza had reached the age of twentyone, said that during his stay in the institution his behavior was exemplary. He chose tailoring for his vocation (p. 53, Record). The officer-in-charge recommended that the case against Mindaroza be dismissed and terminated and that he be discharged from the rehabilitation center and entrusted to his parents (p. 53, Record). The lower court in its order of September 10, 1976 directed the officer-in-charge of the rehabilitation center to surrender Mindaroza to the chief of police of San Pablo City so that the said officer could have custody of Mindaroza "for further proceeding in accordance with PD No. 603 " (p. 58, Record). In another order dated November 4, 1976, the lower court, instead of dismissing the case against Mindaroza and ordering his release, "pronounced judgment" on him "by the reading of the decision" in his presence, meaning the decision wherein it was stated that the two rapes were punishable by death (p. 68, Rollo). The lower court assumed that in Mindaroza's case it had the option "either to dismiss the case or to pronounce judgment of conviction" under article 197 of the Child and Youth Welfare Code. The lower court justified its pronouncement of the judgment of conviction upon Mindaroza (instead of releasing him) by citing the gravity of the offenses committed by him and the degree of perversity which he exhibited in the commission thereof. As already stated, the trial court erred in suspending Mindaroza's sentence. As in the case of Garcia, Mindaroza should be sentenced to two reclusion perpetuas. Footnotes 1 Exhibit "B", Folder of Exhibits. 2 Joint Decision, pp. 17-20; Record of Criminal Case No. 708-SP, pp. 38-41. Articles 192 and 197 of P.D. 603 referred to in the Joint Decision have been amended by P.D. 1179 and P.D. 1210 which became effective on Aug. 15, 1977 and October 11, 1977, respectively, 3 Record of Criminal Case No. 708-SP, p. 44. 4 Ibid, pp. 52-54. 5 Promulgation of Judgment (on Pastor Mindaroza), pp. 4-5, italics supplied; Record of Criminal Case No. 708-SP, pp. 68-69. 6 Record of Criminal Case No. 708-SP, p. 70. 7 Article 213, P.D. 603. 8 People vs. Casiguran 94 SCRA 244, 248. 9 Article 1. par. 1, P.D. 603. 10 Rollo, pp- 174-180. 11 Records of Criminal Case No. 708-SP, pp. 64-69. 12 Emphasis supplied. The second paragraph of Article 197 has been amended by P.D. 1179 to add the following sentence: "In the latter case, the convicted offender may apply for probation under the provisions of Presidential Decree Numbered Nine Hundred and Sixty-Eight." 13 As amended, the first paragraph of Article 189 now reads as follows: "A youthful offender is a child, minor or youth, including one who is emancipated in accordance with law who is over nine years but under eighteen years of age at the time of the commission of the of- offense. "

14 Birth Certificate issued by the Local Civil Registrar of San Pablo City, Exhibit 3, Folder of Exhibits. 15 See Article 1157, No. 4, and Article 1161, New Civil Code of the Philippines; and Article 100, et seq., Revised Penal Code. 16 People vs. Pena, L-36435, December 20, 1977, 80 SCRA 589, 599. 17 Decision, pp- 13-16. 18 26 Phil. 262; quoted in People vs. Hayag, L-38635, Nov. 17, 1980. 19 L-33829, Dec. 19, 197 5, 68 SCRA 397, 399. 20 L-31227 May 31, 1974, 57 SCRA 320,328. 21 L-36560, May 28, 1975, 64 SCRA 170,176-177. 22 T.S.N., Sept. 9, 1975 p. 12. 23 T.S.N., Ibid, p. 20. 24 T.S.N., Ibid, pp. 25-28. 25 T.S.N., August 4. 1975, pp. 6-7; Sept. 9, 1975 p. 21. 26 Ibid 27 T.S.N., August 4, 1975, p. 15. 28 Ibid, p. 8; t.s.n., Sept. 9, 1975, p. 22. 29 T.S.N., August 4, 1975, pp. 4-14. 30 Exhibit " 1 ", Folder of Exhibits, p. 7. 31 T.S.N., August 26, 1975, pp. 24-25. 32 T.S.N., October 7, 1975, p. 6. 33 Ibid, p. 8. 34 L-40727, September 11, 1980, 35 T.S.N., August 26, 1975, pp. 3-15. 36 L-37284, February 27, 1976, 69 SCRA 484, 491, 3' 37 T.S.N., August 26, 1975, p. 11. 38 Ibid, p. 15. 39 Ibid, p. 9. 40 T.S.N., September 9, 1975, p. 18.

41 People vs. Carandang, L-31012, Aug. 15,1973, 52 SCRA 259; People vs. Jaime Jose, et al., L-28232, Feb. 6, 1971, 37 SCRA 450.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila FIRST DIVISION G.R. No. L-42505 December 26, 1984 THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ANGEL MANALO, ET AL., defendants, PERLITO MAGNO, MANUEL RONDUEN, VICENTE CALINGAO, ANTONIO CALINGAO, RAUL QUIMOYOG and BONIFACIO GONGORA, JR., defendants-appellants. The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. Felipe Abeleda for defendants-appellants.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: Indicted before the Court of First Instance of Occidental Mindoro, Branch II, for Robbery with Homicide, were Angel Manalo, Perlito Magno, Manuel Ronduen, Vicente Calingao, Antonio Calingao, Raul Quimoyog, Bonifacio Gongora, Jr., Paulino Asuncion, and Romualdo Sagun. Except for Angel Manalo. who had remained at large, trial proceeded against the eight other accused. Perlito Magno, Manuel Ronduen, Vicente Calingao, and Antonio Calingao were sentenced to reclusion perpetua. Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr. were sentenced to eight (8) years and one (1) day of prision mayor, as minimum to fourteen (14) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of reclusion temporal as maximum. Paulino Asuncion and Romualdo Sagun were acquitted. The case is now before us for review. The evidence shows that in the afternoon of August 30, 1974, the ASUNCION brothers, namely, ANDRES, DOMINADOR and QUIRINO, on their way home from San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, to Barrio Poypoy, Municipality of Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro, stopped by the house of Bert Melgar in the Barrio of Iriron

where DOMINADOR Asuncion received from Mr. Ruben Escanilla the sum of P2,000.00 (Exhibit "A") with which to buy corn for ex-delegate Quintos. From there, they proceeded to their aunt's house, also in Iriron where DOMINADOR wrapped the P2,000.00 in cellophane and placed it inside a Nescafe carton together with seven bags of sugar and two bottles of coffee. In the evening of the same date, at about 8:00 o'clock, they went to the house of Boy Lineses at Sitio Nilapso, Barrio Poypoy, to make some inquiries. Having obtained the information desired, they were about to leave for home when Boy Lineses asked them to remain for a benefit dance he was sponsoring that evening in his house 1for his sister-in-law who was a candidate for beauty queen. The ASUNCION brothers accepted the invitation and DOMINADOR Asuncion entrusted the box containing the P2,000.00 and other contents to Boy Lineses who placed in on the table inside the house. 2 During the dance, the group of the accused, headed by Angel MANALO, arrived in the hall. As dance features, aside from colored ribbons the possession of which would entitle the holders thereof to dance, an added entertainment was the auction sale of three "social boxes." All three boxes were sold to the brothers as they offered the highest bid. The bidding for the third box became a heated one as accused Angel MANALO actively participated and lost. A fight was averted when Angel MANALO left the dance floor and joined his companions who were drinking liquor outside the hall. Rolando Tolentino, who was among those attending the benefit dance joined the MANALO group composed of his friends. After they had finished their drinks, they decided to go home together. For their part, the ASUNCION brothers lingered behind for a while at the dance hall and thereafter proceeded home after DOMINADOR took back the box entrusted to Boy Lineses. 3 Upon reaching the Balisong Creek, which is at a distance of about 300 meters from Boy Lineses' house, the MANALO group surrounded the ASUNCION brothers and a commotion ensued. The Nescafe box containing the cash money, coffee and sugar was snatched from DOMINADOR Asuncion by accused Bonifacio GONGORA, JR. ANDRES Asuncion was, according to accused Raul Quimoyog, stabbed to death by accused Angel MANALO, his (Raul Quimoyog's) "bayaw" (brother-in-law). 4 The Municipal Health Officer testified that ANDRES died due to hemorrhage secondary to stab wound in the abdomen caused by a sharp pointed instrument while the abrasion's suffered by the victim were caused by rough objects like a stone or piece of wood. 5 QUIRINO Asuncion put up some resistance as he was stoned, clubbed and boxed by accused Quimoyog, Vicente Calingao and Antonio Calingao but realizing the futility of fighting further he ran to Lineses' house. He was wounded on the face and sustained contusions as shown by the medical certificate (Exhibit "C"). DOMINADOR Asuncion was also stoned but he was able to run back to the house of Boy Lineses to seek help. Before that he saw his brother ANDRES sitting along the road with a stab wound on his stomach. Approaching, ANDRES told him that MANALO was responsible for his stab wound and to leave him as he was certain to die. On the part of the MANALO group, accused Perlito Magno suffered injuries (Exhibit "4"). Rolando Tolentino testified that, as a friend, he was with the MANALO group in going home to Poypoy after they had indulged in drinking wine; that the group stopped before reaching the Balisong Creek. Angel MANALO and Bonifacio GONGORA, Jr. conferred with each other and decided that they would divide into two groups, one to be led by MANALO, and the other group by GONGORA, Jr., to await the ASUNCION brothers and to rob them of their money. 6 It was agreed that upon the latter's arrival, the MANALO group would clap three times to be answered with three claps by the GONGORA group. The MANALO group was to position itself before the creek, and the GONGORA group after it. MANALO's instructions were "bugbugin at patayin ang sino mang manlaban sa kanila." Witness Rolando Tolentino was assigned to the GONGORA group. Soon thereafter, he heard three claps; it was answered by the GONGORA group also with three claps, meaning "handa na." Both groups then stood up and commenced the attack. At that point, Rolando Tolentino, overcome with fear, left and ran to the house of his grandfather with whom he was living, QUIRINO Asuncion corroborated a part of Rolando Tolentino's testimony when the former testified that upon reaching the vicinity of the Balisong Creek, they heard three claps at their back, answered with three claps in front of them, and then the assault on him and his two brothers commenced. Sensing the helplessness of fighting further since he had already suffered injuries, he ran back to the house of Boy Lineses where he met his brother DOMINADOR who had preceded him there also to seek help. The defense would have us believe that after the dance was over, the ASUNCION brothers and the MANALO group went home together; that when the group reached the vicinity of the Balisong Creek there was a rumble during which ANDRES Asuncion was fatally stabbed, accused Perlito Magno was seriously injured, and QUIRINO Asuncion suffered minor injuries. According to the defense:

... The rumble started, when, according to Manuel Ronduen, Andres Asuncion grabbed Antonio Calingao by the neck. At that particular moment, Romualdo Sagun, Antonio Calingao, Andres Asuncion and he were then walking ahead of the group. After they crossed the Balisong Creek, Andres Asuncion, for unknown reasons, suddenly grabbed Antonio Calingao by the neck. To release Antonio Calingao, he boxed Andres Asuncion on the face and when Andres faced him, he picked up a piece of wood and chased Andres when the latter run away. He failed to catch up with Andres. He then returned to the place where he left Antonio Calingao. On the way he was stoned by Quirino Asuncion but was not hit. He thereupon chased Quirino Asuncion, boxed the latter on the breast when he caught up with him. When Quirino again ran away, he did not follow anymore and went home. (pp. 5-10, tsn., April 18, 197 5). 7
Upon the evidence, we find no reason to fault the Court a quo for discrediting the defense version and meting out a judgment of conviction, thus:

WHEREFORE, the accused, Perlito Magno, Manuel Ronduen, Vicente Calingao and Antonio Calingao are hereby sentenced each to the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua. With respect to accused Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr., it appearing from the evidence that they are only 18 years old, the Court is inclined to give each of them the penalty of Reclusion Temporal in its medium period, which is one degree lower to that of the penalty provided for the offense. Applying the indeterminate sentence law, Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr. are hereby each sentenced to the indeterminate penalty of Eight (8) years and One (1) day of Prision Mayor as minimum to Fourteen (14) years, Eight (8) months and One (1) day of Reclusion Temporal as maximum and to pay the proportionate share of the costs. Considering, further, that Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr. are minors and that when this case was still under trial Presidential Decree No. 603 (Youth and Welfare Code) was issued by the President of the Philippines and which took effect on June 16, 1975, Art. 189 of said decree having modified Art. 80 of the Revised Penal Code, the judgment of conviction meted out against the said two accused, Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr., should be suspended pursuant to the provisions of Art. 192 of said Presidential Decree No. 603. The Court believes that Presidential Decree No. 603, being more favorable to the accused, the provisions of said decree which favor the herein two accused, Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr., may be given retroactive effect, notwithstanding the general rule that criminal laws should always be accorded prospective effect. In view hereof, the sentence of conviction meted out against the two accused, Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr., is hereby suspended and the said accused are hereby ordered committed to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare until they should have reached the age of 21 years, or for a shorter period as the Court may deem proper pursuant to the provisions of Art. 192 of Presidential Decree No. 603. Raul Quimoyog and Bonifacio Gongora, Jr. shall be entitled to the full term of their preventive imprisonment, if they have any to their credit, pursuant to the provisions of Art. 29 of the Revised Penal Code. as amended by Rep. Act 6127, provided that they have agreed to abide with the disciplinary rules imposed upon convicted prisoners. All the accused are hereby ordered to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs of the deceased, Andres Asuncion, in the sum of P12,000.00, in addition to the amount of P2,000.00, the cash money taken from Dominador Asuncion and to pay 1/9 of the costs. For lack of sufficient evidence to show the criminal participation by overt acts of Paulino Asuncion and Romualdo (Romy) Sagun in the commission of the offense, they are hereby acquitted and the case against them is hereby ordered dismissed with the proportionate share of the costs de oficio. Let the accused, Paulino Asuncion and Romualdo (Romy) Sagun be released from custody immediately. It appearing that the accused, Angel Manalo, who is still at large and who appears to be the principal and leader of the group in the killing of Andres Asuncion and in the commission of the offense herein complained of, it is directed that extra efforts should be made by the police authorities to have him arrested so that he could stand trial before this court as early as possible. IT IS SO ORDERED. The defense maintains that there was no proof of conspiracy; that the crime of Robbery was not committed, nor that the killing of ANDRES Asuncion was a result of the robbery or committed on the occasion thereof. For conspiracy to exist, it is enough that at the time the offense was committed, the participants had the same purpose and were united in its execution, as may be inferred from the attendant circumstances. 8 Its manifestation could be shown by united and concerted action. The direct evidence of the prosecution consisted of the testimony of Rolando Tolentino, who was an original member of the MANALO group. His declarations are more than sufficient to prove the existence of conspiracy among the convicted accused. No motive has been attributed to said witness by the defense to falsely implicate the MANALO group composed of his friends in the commission of such a serious crime. DOMINADOR Asuncion in his sworn statement, dated September 4, 1974 (Exhibit "D"), corroborated the testimony of Rolando Tolentino anent the waylaying and the clappings that, in fact, signalled the assault on the ASUNCION brothers. QUIRINO Asuncion testified to the same effect. Conspiracy having been established, the act of one is the act of all. 9 The crime of Robbery has also been sufficiently proven. Angel MANALO and Bonifacio GONGORA, JR. knew of the P2,000.00 in the Nescafe box as DOMINADOR Asuncion, earlier at the dance, had told MANALO that he was still buying corn and that his money was inside a box which he entrusted to Boy Lineses in the latter's house during the dance. 10 GONGORA was present when DOMINADOR confided to MANALO about the money for the purchase of corn. 11 MANALO had also asked DOMINADOR for an advance of P100.00 with which to buy corn, as they were both engaged in the buy and sell of corn, but

because they could not agree on the terms, the latter refused. 12 The defense makes capital of DOMINADOR Asuncion's testimony during his crossexamination that "nobody knows (about the money) except the three of us, sir." 13 However, that was in answer to the question I nobody knew that you received P2,000.00,from Escanilla that afternoon of August 30, 1974?" In other words, it was the receipt from Escanilla that was referred to and not the disclosure thereafter to MANALO that he had money for the purchase of corn. Neither can there be any doubt that the fatal stabbing of ANDRES Asuncion arose out of or on the occasion of the robbery. On the same occasion that the Nescafe box containing the cash, the sugar and the coffee was snatched from DOMINADOR Asuncion, the latter's brother was fatally stabbed by Angel MANALO in the abdomen with a hunting knife, as testified to by accused Raul Quimoyog himself. It matters not that the robbery victim was different from the homicide victim. 14 The totality of the evidence, therefore, sustains beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the convicted accused. WHEREFORE, finding no reversible error in the judgment appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed except as to the indemnity awarded to the heirs of the deceased, which is hereby increased to P30,000.00. Proportionate costs against the accused. SO ORDERED. Teehankee (Chairman), Plana, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ., concur. Gutierrez, Jr., J., * took no part.

Footnotes 1 T.S.N., p. 3, June 27, 1975. 2 T.S.N., p. 14, April 7, 1975. 3 T.S.N., pp. 15, 18, Ibid. 4 T.S.N., p. 10, April 17, 1975. 5 T.S.N., pp. 45-49, February 25, 1975. 6 T.S.N., pp. 12-15. April 11, 1975. 7 Appellant's Brief, pp. 82-83. 8 People vs. Binasing, et al., 53 O.G. 5208; People vs. Pagaduan, 29 SCRA 54 [1969]; People vs. Cercano 87 SCRA 1 [1978]. 9 U.S. vs. Ipil, 27 Phil. 530 [1914]; People vs. Romualdez and Mabunay, 57 Phil. 148 [1932]; People vs. Cadag, 2 SCRA 388 [1961]; People vs. Parades, 24 SCRA 635 [1968]; People vs. Alonzo, 73 SCRA 484 [1976]. 10 T.S.N., pp. 29-31, April 7, 1975. 11 T.S.N., p. 9, Ibid. 12 T.S.N., pp. 26-27, Ibid. 13 T.S.N., p. 29, February 25, 1975. 14 People vs. Disimban, 88 Phil. 129 [1951]. * Mr. Justice Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr. took no part, having prepared the Brief for the appellee.

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Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila THIRD DIVISION

G.R. Nos. 83373-74 July 5, 1993 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. REYNALDO CORDOVA @ "REY" CORDOVA, EDUARDO

CORDOVA @ "SULI" CORDOVA, ISIDRO CORDOVA, JR. @ "DROBAT," FREDDIE BUENCONSEJO @ "ODONG," and ERNESTO ESTORQUE, JR., accused. REYNALDO CORDOVA @ "REY" CORDOVA, EDUARDO CORDOVA @ "SULI" CORDOVA and ERNESTO ESTORQUE, JR., accused-appellants. The Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. Fredicindo A. Talabucon for all accused-appellants except R. Cordova. Belo, Abiera & Associates for accused-appellant Reynaldo Cordova. Roger B. Patricio for all accused.

DAVIDE, JR., J.: Marcelo Barruela and Segundo Maguad were killed in Barangay Bantique, Pontevedra, Capiz in the evening of 29 May 1986. Upon the complaint of the former's widow, Teresita Barruela, Criminal Case No. 705 for Double Murder was filed against the accused and Clarita Cordova with the 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Pontevedra-Panay in the Province of Capiz by the Station Commander of Pontevedra on 16 June 1986. 1 After conducting a preliminary examination, the MCTC ruled that a probable cause existed against all the respondents with the exception of Clarita Cordova. 2 Thus, on 25 June 1986, the Station Commander filed an Amended Criminal Complaint against the accused. 3 In due course, a warrant for the arrest of the accused was issued. 4Upon their arrest,

the accused moved for the immediate transmittal of the records of the case to the Office of the Provincial Fiscal for the purpose of filing the appropriate information if a prima facie case warranted the same. 5After undertaking a reinvestigation of the case, Acting Provincial Fiscal Claro A. Arches of Capiz recommended the filing of two separate and distinct informations for murder; 6 consequently, two cases were filed on 29 January 1987 with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Roxas City which were docketed as Criminal Case No. C2422 and Criminal Case No. C-2423. Both cases were raffled off to Branch 16 of the said court. The accusatory portion of the Information in Criminal Case No. C2422 states: That on or about the 29th day of May, 1986, at Barangay Bantigue, Municipality of Pontavedra, Province of Capiz, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating together, and mutually helping one another, armed with long and short high-powered firearms and with deliberate intent to kill one Marcelo Barruela, did then and there willfully, unlawfully, and feloniously, with treachery and evident premeditation, attack, shoot, and wound with such weapons said Marcelo Barruela in different vital parts of his body, thus inflicting upon him the following gunshot wounds, to wit: 1. Gunshot wound with entrance at level of 3rd rib anterior chest wall left side 1 cm. x 1 cm., 3 cms. from sternum laterally.

2. Probable wound of exit at level of mid-clavicle 5 cms. x 2.5 cms.; 3. Gunshot wound, entrance 1.5 cm. at level arm fracturing midhermerus with wound of exit 9.5 cms. x 7 cms. at opposite side; 4. Probable wound of entrance 4.5 cms. x 2.5 cms. located 5 cms. below the left axilla; which wounds directly caused the instantaneous death of said Marcelo Barruela. 7 On the other hand, the accusatory portion of the Information in Criminal Case No. C-2423 reads as follows:
That on or about the 29th day of May, 1986, at Brgy. Bantigue, Municipality of Pontavedra, Province of Capiz, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring, confederating together, mutually helping one another, and armed with long and short high-powered firearms, with deliberate intent to kill one Segundo Maguad, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with treachery and evident premeditation attack, shoot, and wound said Segundo Maguad with such weapons in the vital parts of his body, thus inflicting upon him a gunshot wound with entrance below the left side of the neck 1 cm. x 11 cm. at the right scapular area and shattering the scapular bone, which wound caused his instantaneous death.

At their arraignment on 11 March 1987, each of the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. 9 During trial, the prosecution presented as its evidence in chief six witnesses, viz., Rodolfo Maguad, son of Segundo Maguad; Teresita Barruela, the spouse of Marcelo Barruela; Norberto Javier; Dr. Salvador Billones, the doctor who autopsied the victims; Pat. Rafael Dipon; and Pfc. Allan Contreras. Its rebuttal witnesses were Nemia Besana, Allan Contreras and Angel Belalo. for its part, the defense presented as its witnesses all of the accused and thirteen other

persons. 10 Prosecution witness Rodolfo Maguad testified that at around 7:00 o'clock on the night of the killing, he was at the fishpond dikes near the house of the Barruelas at Barangay Bantigue, Pontevedra, Capiz inspecting the fishpond gates. While there, he suddenly heard the voice of Marcelo Barruela who was at the second floor of the said house; Barruela was conversing with some men who were outside the house. Rodolfo proceeded towards the house but hid from the men because in the many years that he has stayed with the Barruelas, no one has visited the latter at that time of the night. Rodolfo recounted that when Marcelo Barruela asked who these men were, one of them a person whom he (Rodolfo) recognized as Eduardo or Suli Cordova introduced himself as Richard de la Torre. Rodolfo observed Eduardo Cordova request Marcelo to bring them to Pontevedra in Marcelo's motorboat; Marcelo, however, replied that he did not have enough gasoline for the trip. Eduardo Cordova thereupon insisted that they be brought instead to Barangay Quiawa, also in Pontevedra. When Marcelo asked Eduardo how many they were, the latter replied that they four. Marcelo then instructed his farm help, Segundo (Godo) Maguad Rodolfo's father to prepare a torch ("moron"). After so instructing Segundo, Marcelo beamed a flashlight at the group and asked Eduardo where his companions were. When Eduardo replied, "They are here," two persons appeared, one of whom Rodolfo recognized as Reynaldo Cordova. The latter, who had a long firearm with him, immediately fired six shots in rapid succession at Marcelo. Thereafter, Reynaldo fired two more shots at Marcelo's house. Rodolfo then ran for safety and proceeded to the house of one Alex Acolentaba where he related

to Alex what had happened. After sometime, both of them went to the Barruelas' house where Rodolfo saw his father lying dead on the first floor with a gunshot wound in his neck; on the second floor, both discovered the lifeless body of Marcelo Barruela. The latter's wife, Teresita Barruela, who was also there, told Rodolfo to report the incident to the police authorities in Pontevedra, Capiz. Instead of doing so, Rodolfo and Alex proceeded to the house of Marcelo's nephew, Jessie Sevilla, and narrated the tragedy to the latter. Jessie then told them to promptly head for Roxas City to inform Marcelo Barruela, Jr. (Toto) about the incident. Upon being so informed, Toto Barruela, Rodolfo and Alex returned to Jessie Sevilla's house where they met three policemen, namely, Pfc. Allan Contreras, Rolando Alcazaren and John Dipon. Upon being questioned by the policemen, Rodolfo disclosed that his father's and Marcelo's killers were the accused Eduardo Cordova, Reynaldo Cordova and two other men whom he did not recognize. After this preliminary inquiry, the entire group proceeded to the scene of the crime in Barangay Batigue. 11 Witness Teresita Barruela narrated that at about 7:00 o'clock in the evening of 29 May 1986, she was praying in their house in Bantique, Pondevedra, Capiz. With her at that time were her husband Marcelo, Segundo Maguad, Gloria Maguad and Rodolfo Maguad. She said that she then heard someone calling for her husband thus: "Tay Seloy, Tay Seloy, Tay Seloy." When Marcelo asked the caller who he was and where he was going, the latter identified himself as Richard de la Torre and requested Marcelo to conduct them to Pontavedra in his motorboat because they were benighted. Marcelo replied that he did not have enough gasoline for the trip. Thereupon, the man insisted that they be brought instead to Barangay Quiawa, which is

also in Bantigue. Marcelo then told Segundo Maguad, their farm help who was at the first floor of the house, to prepare a torch for their use during the trip. At this point, Teresita said that she stopped praying and whispered to her husband that the intentions of the men outside were not good. Marcelo merely replied, "It seems," and forthwith got a flashlight. Teresita then peeped through the window and saw two men Suli (Eduardo Cordova) and his younger brother, Isidro Cordova. According to her, she was able to recognize both of them because of the house. When her husband approached the window, beamed the flashlight at the man who called on him and asked the latter how many they were, the men replied that they were four. Suddenly, Reynaldo Cordova emerged with another person from the dark and fired about six "rapid shots" at her husband with the long firearm he was carrying. Teresita lay down on the floor and her husband fell beside her. While still in the same position, she heard two more shots fired in the direction of their house. She then remained prosprate on the floor with her fallen husband until Rodolfo Maguad and Alex Acolentaba arrived. Rodolfo told her that his father, who was downstairs, was dead. She then asked Rodolfo to report the incident to the police station at the poblacion. At about 2:00 to 3:00 o'clock in the morning of the following day, policemen arrived to investigate the killing. Although they interviewed Rodolfo Maguad, they could not get Teresita's statement because she was crying profusely. It was only on 11 June 1986 that she gave her sworn statement. 12 Teresita further testified that her family and the Cordovas had not been in good terms because her husband "was against their fish trap

near our fishpond." Moreover, Marcelo had told her that when he was still single, he had killed the uncle of Clarita Cordova mother of accused Reynaldo, Eduardo and Isidro Cordova, Jr., mother-in-law of accused Freddie Buenconsejo and grandmother of accused Ernesto Estorque, Jr. 13 Prosecution witness Norberto Javier declared that at about 7:00 o'clock on the night of the incident, he was fishing with his son along the Pontevedra river when he noticed a motorboat carrying five men approach them. He identified the men as Eduardo Cordova, Reynaldo Cordova, Isidro Cordova, Jr., Freddie Buenconsejo and Ernesto Estorque, Jr., the "driver" of the boat. With a gun pointed at him, Eduardo asked him to put out his torch while Reynaldo asked for his gasoline. Norberto got the container of gasoline in this banca and handed it over to Isidro. The group then proceeded in the direction of Pontevedra. Later, while he was across that same place where he had encountered the group, he saw the motorboat return, this time with only three men or board. He no longer recognized these men. 14 Pfc. Allan Contreras of the Integrated National Police (INP) in Pontevedra testified that at around 1:30 o'clock in the morning of 30 May 1986, Jessie Sevilla appeared in the police station and reported that Marcelo Barruela and Segundo Maguad had been shot by four persons in Barangay Bantigue. Together with Pat. Rafael Dipon and Rolando Alcazaren, he proceeded to Sevilla's house where they waited for Rodolfo Maguad who had gone to Roxas City to inform Toto Barruela of his (Toto's) father's death. when Rodolfo arrived, Contreras asked him if he knew who shot the victims; the former answered that the killers were "Drobat" (Isidro Cordova, Jr.) and

"Suli" (Eduardo Cordova). Thereafter, they headed for Barangay Bantigue and conducted an investigation at the scene of the crime. Pat. Dipon made two sketches of the crime scene, marking the spots where the assailants allegedly fired at the victims, the place where Rodolfo Maguad hid and other important points at the crime scene. Contreras also asked Teresita Barruela if she knew the identities of the assailants but the latter could not answer his questions as she kept on crying. After concluding the investigation, they brought the bodies of the victims to Pontevedra. At Pontevedra, somebody whispered to him that Ernesto Estorque, Jr., had ferried some NPAs on his grandmother's motorboat on the night of 29 May 1986. Contreras thus sought, and eventually found, Estorque. The latter revealed that the group which commandeered his grandmother's motorboat was led by a Commander Jojo. Estorque then voluntarily agreed to give a written statement, which was accomplished on 30 May 1986 (Exhibit "M"). A second informer told Contreras that the same men got some gasoline from someone who was fishing by the river that same night. The latter turned out to be Norberto Javier. Contreras likewise questioned Norberto Javier who revealed that the persons who procured gasoline from him were Reynaldo and Eduardo Cordova. Norberto, however, refused to give a statement at that time because he was afraid; he nevertheless promised to prepare one upon the arrival of this brother "from the army." 15 With the exception of Ernesto Estorque, Jr. who admitted having seen Norberto Javier in the evening of 29 May 1986, all of the accused denied having been in Barangay Bantigue on the night of the murder. All, however, disclaimed having killed the victims.

Accused Reynaldo Cordova declared that he was in the house of Vice-Mayor Ildefonso Bernales in Punta, Tabuc, Roxas City on the night of the incident. Claiming that he and his family were residing in the said house, he further recounted that between 7:00 and 7:30 o'clock that night, Roberto Makato and Ildefonso Bediones, Jr. arrived to fetch the vice-mayor and take him to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club. After having been served some beer, the duo left with the vice-mayor at about 8:00 o'clock. Reynaldo claims that he never left the vice-mayor's house that night. In fact, when the vice-mayor arrived at around 12:00 o'clock midnight, he was there to open the door for the latter.16 Reynaldo Cordova's testimony was corroborated by Vice-Mayor Bernales who added that the distance between Punta, Tabuc and Bantingue is about twenty-one kilometers; Bernales claims that it takes him forty minutes by car to get to Pontevedra. From Pontevedra, one had to take a one-hour motorboat ride to finally reach Bantigue. 17 On the other hand, accused Eduardo Cordova stated that he was at his mother's house at Barangay Agbalo, Pontevedra, Capiz, on the night of the killing. He likewise claimed that he never left the said house that evening. 18His testimony was corroborated by his sister, Lydia Buenconsejo, who happens to be the wife of accused Freddie Buenconsejo. 19 Accused Isidro Cordova maintained that on 29 May 1986, he was in Banica, Roxas City attending the last day of the novena for the barangay fiesta. He averred that he spent the night in the house of a certain Eduarda Doloso and that he did not leave the said house that night. 20 Isidro's testimony was corroborated by Eduarda Doloso. 21

Presenting a similar defense, accused Freddie Buenconsejo testified that he was in his parents' house in Sangkal, President Roxas, Capiz on the night of the shooting. He admitted, however, that his wife resides in his mother-in-law's house in Barangay Agbalo, Pontevedra, Capiz. 22 Buenconsejo's testimony was corroborated by Lydia, his wife, and Edwin Bergancia, a resident of Sangkal. 23 For his part, accused Ernesto Estorque, Jr., who was thirteen years old at the time of the killing, did not deny his presence in Bantigue in the evening of 29 May 1986. Nor did he contradict Norberto Javier's statement that he (Estorque, Jr.) piloted his grandmother's motorboat that night. Estorque, however, narrated that on the said night, while both he and his grandmother, Clarita Cordova, were harvesting the fish in their fishtraps adjoining the Barruelas' fishpond, they heard gunshots coming from the direction of the latter's house a mere twenty meters from their fishtraps. After about fifteen minutes, a group of men headed by a certain Commander Jojo "commandeered" his grandmother's boat and ordered him, at gunpoint, to ferry them to Binangig. After reaching Binangig, he returned to Bantigue to fetch his grandmother. 24 Rebuttal witness Angel Belalo testified that Lucio Babela, Clarita Cordova's uncle, was shot to death by Marcelo Barruela in 1953. 25 On 11 March 1988, the trial court promulgated its decision 26 finding accused Reynaldo Cordova, Eduardo Cordova and Ernesto Estorque, Jr. guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder. The two Cordovas were held liable as principle while Estorque was found to be an accessory after the fact. Accused Isidro Cordova and Freddie Buenconsejo, on the other hand, were acquitted on the ground of

reasonable doubt. The dispositive portion of the decision reads: WHEREFORE, finding the killings to have been committed with the use of a motorized banca and illegally possessed firearms at nighttime at the dwelling of the victims where there was no provocation from the latter, qualified by the circumstances of evident premeditation and treachery, this Court pronounces guilty beyond reasonable doubt as principals of the crime of Murder in both the above cases accused Reynaldo Cordova, alias Rey Cordova, and accused Eduardo Cordova, alias Suli Cordova, and only as accessory after the fact accused Ernesto Estorque, Jr., accordingly sentencing them, to wit: 1. Reynaldo Cordova and Eduardo Cordova in Criminal Case No. C-2422, for the death of Marcelo Barruela, in contemplation of Art. 111, Section 19(1), 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, there not being any mitigating circumstance, each to imprisonment of thirty (30) years of reclusion perpetua(Arts. 27, 248 Revised Penal Code) and the payment by each jointly and severally of indemnity in the sum of P25,000.00, and Ernesto Estorque, Jr., with discernment having committed the crime as an accessory, appreciating the special mitigating circumstance of minority, with no aggravating circumstance offsetting this, to the straight penalty of imprisonment of four (4) months (Art. 68 No. 2, RPC, in relation to Presidential Decree No. 603, as

amended by PD 1179, Art. 192, last paragraph) and the payment of P2,000.00 as indemnity to the deceased's heirs; 2. Reynaldo Cordova and Eduardo Cordova in Criminal Case No. C-2423, for the death of Segundo Maguad, in contemplation of Art. 111, Section 19(1), 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, there not being any mitigating circumstance, each to an imprisonment of thirty (30) years of reclusion perpetua(Arts. 27, 248, Revised Penal Code) and the payment jointly and severally by each in the sum of P15,000.00, and Ernesto Estorque, Jr., with discernment having committed the crime as accessory, appreciating the special mitigating circumstance of minority without any aggravating circumstance offsetting this, to a straight penalty of four (4) months imprisonment and the payment of P1,000.00 as indemnity in both cases to the deceased's heirs, and with all the accessory penalties of the law. Accused Reynaldo Cordova and Eduardo Cordova are given the benefit of Article 29, as amended, of the Revised Penal Code, being in detention.
Accused Isidro Cordova, alias Drobat, and accused Freddie Buenconsejo, alias Odong, their guilt in both cases not having been proved beyond reasonable doubt are hereby acquitted of the crimes charged in the two informations.

27

The judgment of conviction is based primarily on the testimonies of prosecution witnesses Rodolfo Maguad, Teresita Barruela and Norberto Javier. The trial court rejected the defense of alibi because it was satisfied that the accused were positively identified by the said

witnesses and that the latter had no motive to falsely implicate the former. Taking into account treachery and evident premeditation, the court said:
. . . .What more pretensions and treachery than the calling of Marcelo Barruela as 'Tay Seloy', meaning Father Seloy, and variously as Richard de la Torre and Commander Jojo. Taking revenge for the death of an uncle at the hands of Marcelo Barruela in 1953, among others, the accused could only have planned their strategy much, much before physically executing the killing, including the procurement of their lethal firearms.

28

From the judgment of conviction, accused Reynaldo Cordova, Eduardo Cordova and Ernesto Estorque, Jr., hereinafter referred to as the Appellants, filed a notice of appeal manifesting their intention to appeal to the Court of Appeals. 29 Thereupon, the trial court ordered the transmittal of the records of both cases to the Court of Appeals on 28 April 1988. 30 However, in view of the penalties imposed, the appellate court forwarded the records to this Court on 16 May 1988. 31 The appellants filed their Brief on 27 October 1988 while the People filed the Appellee's Brief on 14 February 1989. On 26 April 1989, the law firm of BELO, ABIERA and ASSOCIATES filed a notice of appearance as counsel for appellant Reynaldo Cordova. On 7 July 1989, said new counsel filed a separate brief for Reynaldo Cordova with a manifestation that the same was being submitted in support and/or amplification of the brief submitted by Atty. Roger Patricio, counsel of record for all the appellants. Consequently, on 19 July 1989, Atty. Patricio filed a motion to withdraw as counsel in view of his appointment as Presiding Judge of Branch 38 of the RTC of Iloilo City. On 4 October 1989, Atty, Fredicindo A. Talabucon entered his appearance as counsel for the appellants in substitution of Atty. Patricio.

In their brief, the appellants assign the following errors: I. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF TERESITA BARRUELA, RODOLFO MAGUAD, AND NORBERTO JAVIER. II. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING THE CERTIFICATION OF THE POLICE BLOTTER REPORT (EXHS. "4", "4-A", "4-B," "4-C,") AND THE SPOT REPORT OF THE INP STATION COMMANDER OF PONTEVEDRA, CAPIZ TO THE PC DISTRICT COMMANDER OF CAPIZ, (EXH. "5", "5-A", "5-C") AS WELL AS THE SWORN STATEMENTS OF CLARITA CORDOVA AND ERNESTO ESTORQUE, JR. (EXHS. "1", "1-A", "1-B", "1-C", "1-C"); EXHS. "N", "N-1"), AND EXHS. "2", "2-A", "2-B", "2-C", "M-1"), RESPECTIVELY. III. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT GIVING CREDENCE TO THE TESTIMONIES OF LEOPOLDO BARRIOS, RADIO ANNOUNCER OF RADIO STATION DYVR IN ROXAS CITY, AND OF ENRICO GALAPAN. IV. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE TESTIMONIES OF ALFONSO BEDIONES, JR. AND VICE-MAYOR ILDEFONSO BERNALES, WITH RESPECT TO THE WHEREABOUTS OF ACCUSED-APPELLANT

REYNALDO CORDOVA DURING THE TIME WHEN THE INCIDENT IN QUESTION OCCURRED. V. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING THE TESTIMONIES OF BARANGAY CAPTAIN JUAN BESANA AND DOMINADOR BUENAVISTA. VI. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING ACCUSED EDUARDO CORDOVA AS A MENTALLY DERANGED PERSON.
VII. THE TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANTS REYNALDO CORDOVA AND EDUARDO CORDOVA AS CO-PRINCIPALS AND ACCUSED-APPELLANT ERNESTO ESTORQUE, JR. AS ACCESSORY NOTWITHSTANDING THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE PROSECUTION EVIDENCE AGAINST THEM.

32

In the separate brief filed by the law firm of BELO, ABIERA and ASSOCIATES for the appellant Reynaldo Cordova, the following errors are imputed to the trial court: I THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONCLUDING THAT REY CORDOVA WAS POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED BY THE PROSECUTION WITNESS II THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE DEFENSE OF ALIBI OF REY CORDOVA. III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE UNCONTRADICTED TESTIMONY (sic) OF ERNESTO ESTORQUE, JR., AND CLARITA CORDOVA AS TO WHAT TRANSPIRED ON THE NIGHT OF MAY 29, 1986.

33

The foregoing errors merely supplement those set forth in the common brief. Under the first assigned error in the common brief, the appellants brand the principal prosecution witnesses as "unreliable, as they are untruthful," and consider their testimonies as "highly improbable and incredible." 34Claiming that the same should have been rejected by the trial court, they then attack Teresita Barruela's declaration which they find unbelievable that Marcelo Barruela had still asked Eduardo Cordova to identify himself when the Cordova brothers were personally known to the Barruelas, and point out inconsistencies in her testimony regarding the sequence of events after one of the Cordovas had introduced himself as Richard de la Torre. While she had testified on direct examination that the men outside their house and her husband had a running conversation before the latter directed Segundo Maguad to prepare a torch for the trip, she later contradicted herself by stating that Segundo Maguad was given the said instruction as her husband was fetching a flashlight. Appellants likewise challenged Teresita's claim that she had recognized her husband's assailants; appellants cite her failure or refusal to reveal their identities when the police conducted an investigation after the killing. When Pfc. Contreras repeatedly questioned her about the identities of the assailants in the course of his six-hour investigation at the scene of the crime, she did not offer any answer. The appellants similarly assail the credibility of Rodolfo Maguad. As in Teresita Barruela's case, they claim that Rodolfo allegedly failed to

immediately reveal to the authorities the identities of the assailants. Even during his interview over radio station DYVR the day after the killing, he asserted that he did not recognize the assailants. On the other hand, witness Norberto Javier is described by the appellants as a "perjured witness" presented by the prosecution "in its frantic desire to corroborate by circumstantial evidence the highly incredible, improbable and concocted testimonies of Teresita Barruela and Rodolfo Maguad." 35 Amplifying on their second assigned error, the appellants fault the trial court refusing to appreciate in their favor (a) the police blotter of the Pontevedra police station which very clearly records the fact that four "unidentified" persons killed Marcelo Barruela and Segundo Maguad; (b) the spot report which discloses that "5 unidentified persons" were the perpetrators; and (c) the sworn statements of Ernesto Estorque, Jr. and Clarita Cordova which declare that the appellants were not responsible for the killing. For the third assigned error, the appellants insist that the trial court should have appreciated in their favor the testimony of Leopoldo Barrios, a radio announcer at station DYVR, to the effect that in the evening of 30 May 1986, Rodolfo Maguad went on the air to inform his brothers and sisters in Mindoro about their father's death. When asked by Barrios about the details of the incident, Maguad categorically stated that a group of men, the members of which he could not recognize, shot his father, Enrico Galapan, a resident of Sitio Kalipayan, Punta Tabuc, confirmed that he had heard Maguad's statements over the radio. 36

In the fourth and fifth assigned errors, the appellants take to task the trial court for not according full faith and credit to the testimonies of Alfonso Badiones, Jr., Vice-Mayor Bernales, Barangay Captain Besana and Dominador Buenavista. In support of the sixth assigned error, the appellants question the trial court's refusal to acquit Eduardo Cordova on the ground that as testified to by his mother, he is "mentally defective." As a matter of fact, in his cross-examination of Eduardo, Fiscal Claro Arches asked only one question because he (Arches) knew that he could get nothing from a "mentally-deranged" person. 37 In the last assigned error, appellant Reynaldo Cordova claims that if he were indeed guilty, he would have escaped. On the contrary, however, he even visited the Barruela family to pay his last respects to the deceased Marcelo Barruela whom he and his family fondly called "Tay Seloy." Appellants then end their arguments by insisting that although alibi is a weak defense, it must be believed in this case since the testimonies of the principal prosecution witnesses are unreliable, uncorroborated and inconclusive. At the center of these assigned errors is the issue of the credibility of the opposing witnesses. A rule of long standing in this jurisdiction, the respect for which remains undiminished, is that this Court will not interfere with the judgment of the trial court in passing upon the credibility of opposing witnesses unless there appears in the record of some fact or circumstance of weight and influence which has been

overlooked or the significance of which has been misinterpreted. 38 This is due to the fact that the trial court is in a better position to weigh conflicting testimonies, having heard the witnesses themselves and observed their deportment and manner of testifying. Such deference, however, may be withdrawn if it is shown that the trial court has plainly overlooked certain facts of substance and value which, if considered, might affect the result of the case. 39 We have, in the course of the resolution of this case, meticulously pored over the voluminous transcripts of the stenographic notes of the testimonies of the witnesses for both parties. After a careful and painstaking evaluation thereof, we have reached the inevitable conclusion that the exception to the foregoing rule must be applied for, as hereinafter expounded on, facts and circumstances of great weight and value have been overlooked and misinterpreted by the trial court. At the outset, we find the prosecution's evidence insufficient to establish the guilt of the appellants with moral certainty or rebut the presumption of innocence accruing in their favor. In short, proof beyond reasonable doubt is wanting in this case. 1. There was absolutely no direct evidence presented to show how the killing of Segundo Maguad was consummated and who were responsible therefor since soon after the firing of the initial six shots at Marcelo Barruela who was standing by the window of the second storey of his house Teresita Barruela fell face down on the floor while Rodolfo Maguad ran away to hide. Neither of them saw Segundo Maguad's exact position at the time these shots were fired. As to the next two successive shots, neither of them saw where these shots were aimed at. There is as well no showing that the

gunshot wounds sustained by Segundo were caused by bullets fired from the firearm used in the killing of Marcelo. 2. None of the prosecution witnesses saw appellant Estorque at the scene of the crime. It was only Norberto Javier who declared that he saw the latter at 7:00 o'clock in the evening of 29 May 1986 "driving" Clarita Cordova's motorboat with Eduardo and Reynaldo Cordova, Isidro Cordova, Jr. and Freddie Buenconsejo as passengers. The trial court convicted Estorque as an accessory. By so doing, therefore, it assumed that at the time he was seen by Norberto Javier, the crimes in question had already been committed. No proof was offered to support this assumption. Nevertheless, even if we are to concede to such a hypothesis, it will likewise be observed that the prosecution presented no proof to show that Estorque had known of the commission of the crimes. For one to be held liable as an accessory, it is essential that he must have knowledge of the commission of the crime. Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code defines accessories as: . . . . those who, having knowledge of the commission of the crime, and without having participated therein, either as principals or accomplices, take part subsequent to its commission in any of the following manners: 1. By profiting themselves or assisting the offender to profit by the effects of the crime; 2. By concealing or destroying the body of the crime or the effects or instruments thereof, in order to prevent its discovery;

3. By harboring, concealing or assisting in the escape of the principal of the crime, provided the accessory acts with abuse of his public functions or whenever the author of the crime is guilty of treason, parricide, murder, or an attempt to take the life of the Chief Executive, or is known to the habitually guilty of some other crime. Nor could it be assumed that even if a conspiracy had existed among the assailants, Estorque could be considered a part thereof for at most, his having been seen together with the other accused in the motorboat is purely circumstantial evidence which, standing alone for there is no evidence of any other circumstance does not sufficiently link him to such a conspiracy. For circumstantial evidence to be sufficient for conviction, the following requisites must concur: (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. 40 There is a further obstacle that stands in the way of Estorque's conviction. While it has been proven he was only thirteen years old at the time of the incident, there are no allegations in both informations that Estorque had acted with discernment. And even if we are to consider the allegations that he had committed the imputed acts "with intent to kill" as sufficient compliance as we have in the past 41 he would still not be held liable as no proof was offered during trial that he had so acted with discernment. Accordingly, even if he was indeed a co-conspirator or an accessory, he would still be exempt from criminal liability. 42

3. The evidence for the prosecution clearly shows that appellant Eduardo Cordova was not the person who fired the shots. Hence, his liability would depend entirely on the existence of a conspiracy among the assailants. The trial court ruled that conspiracy existed between Eduardo and Reynaldo Cordova who, as prosecution witnesses Rodolfo Maguad and Teresita Barruela claimed, both fired the shots. A conspiracy exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it. 43 Direct evidence is not necessary to prove the same for such schemes are usually hatched in secrecy, with witnesses other than the conspirators themselves proving to be extremely difficult to find. Moreover, it is settled that conspiracy need not be shown by direct proof; it may be shown by acts and circumstances from which may logically be inferred the existence of a common design or may be deduced from the mode and manner in which the offense was perpetrated. 44 As regards the act or declaration of a conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during its existence, the law on evidence provides that such acts and declaration may only be given in evidence against the co-conspirator after the conspiracy is shown by evidence other than such act or declaration. 45 Of course, it would be an entirely different matter if any of the conspirators who are charged with the commission of an offense are utilized as state witnesses. 46 In the instant case, if we are to believe the testimonies of Teresita Barruela and Rodolfo Maguad, we would not hesitate to rule that conspiracy was duly established. It was Eduardo who, introducing himself as Richard de la Torre, called Marcelo Barruela to request that he (Eduardo) and his companions be ferried in the latter's

motorboat to Pontevedra. It was also Eduardo who, upon being informed by Marcelo that the motorboat did not have enough gasoline, insisted that they be brought to barangay Quiawa instead. Thereupon, one of Eduardo's companions, whom the said witnesses identified as Reynaldo Cordova, immediately fired six shots at Marcelo. Considering the testimonies of Teresita and Rodolfo in conjunction with the declaration of Norberto Javier that at about 7:00 o'clock that same evening, he saw Eduardo and Reynaldo together with their coaccused Isidro Cordova, Jr. and Freddie Buenconsejo at the Pontevedra river aboard Clarita Cordova's motorboat then being "driven" by appellant Estorque, it would appear logical to conclude that Eduardo and Reynaldo were together either before the shooting, if Norberto saw them before such shooting, or after the incident, if he saw them after the killing. As earlier observed, there is no evidence to show that Norberto saw the appellants and the other accused either before or after the shooting. Since the foregoing disquisitions are based on the assumption that the statements of witnesses Rodolfo Maguad and Teresita Barruela are true, it behooves us to determine whether such testimonies, particularly with respect to the presence of appellants Eduardo and Reynaldo Cordova at the scene of the crime, are indeed credible. On direct examination, Rodolfo maintained that he was not inside the Barruela's house when he saw Eduardo and Reynaldo. He claimed to be at the fishpond dikes near the said house when he heard Marcelo Barruela conversing with Eduardo. 47 Yet, during Teresita Barruela's direct examination, it was categorically stated that when someone

identifying himself as Richard de la Torre called for her husband, she was praying inside their home and her companions at that time were Segundo Maguad, Gloria Maguad, Rodolfo Maguad and Marcelo Barruela. Thus: ATTY. ALOVERA: xxx xxx xxx Q Mrs. Barruela, where were you on the night of May 29, 1986? A I was at barangay Bantique, Pontevedra, Capiz. Q Why were you there? A Because we have fishpond there. Q At around 7:00 that night of May 29, 1986, what were you doing? A I was praying. Q At the time you were praying will you please tell the court if you have any companion? A Yes, sir, I have companions. Q Who?
A Segundo Maguad, Gloria Maguad, Rodulfo (sic) Maguad and my husband, Marcelo Barruela.

48

It is clear that Rodolfo Maguad's declaration that he was out of the house is unreliable as it has been shown that, on the contrary, he was inside the house when assailants allegedly arrived and Marcelo Barruela was shot. While we have arrived at such a conclusion, however, we cannot help but observe that Rodolfo was quite categorical in asserting that upon seeing Teresita Barruela in the second floor of the house with the body of Marcelo, the latter told him "to report to the police authorities at the poblacion of Pontevedra, Capiz"; thus, he and Alex Acolentaba immediately left. They, however, proceeded to the house of Jessie Sevilla, Marcelo's nephew, where they related what happened to Marcelo and Segundo Maguad. It is logical to presume that if he had truly seen and recognized the assailants, Rodolfo would have forthwith revealed their identities to Jessie Sevilla. And since it was Jessie Sevilla who proceeded to the Pontevedra police station to report the incident, it is likewise logical to presume that the basis of his report would be what was narrated to him by Rodolfo. Jessie's report was entered by Pfc. Allan Contreras 49 in the police blotter as entry no. 1000002 at 1:30 o'clock in the morning of 30 May 1986. It reads:
Jessie Sevella (sic) of legal age, married, res. of Brgy Tabuc, this mplty., reported that on or about 292000 May 86, Mr. Marcelo Barruela, fishpond optr and res of Roxas City, and his fishpond caretaker, Godo Maguad were shot by 4 unidentified persons while at his fishpond at Brgy Bantigue, this mplty. Immediately, INP Team led by Pfc Contreras, AC, with Pat Alcazarin RB, and Dipon, RR, Jr., were dispatched to investigate the reported case.

50

Now, if Rodolfo had indeed told Jessie Sevilla who the assailants of Marcelo and Segundo were, it would have been unlikely for Jessie not to have revealed the same to the police authorities as he (Jessie) immediately proceeded to the station. Nor would have been merely satisfied by informing the police that the authors of the crime were

four "unidentified persons" considering that his own uncle, Marcelo, was a victim. Thus, the only plausible reason why Jessie described the assailants as "unidentified" is because his source Rodolfo, whose own father was killed was not in fact able identify them. Upon his team's return, Pfc. Contreras himself 51 made the following entry in the same police blotter. Entry number 1000003, recorded at 7:00 o'clock in the morning of 30 May 1986, reads:
Team led by Pfc. Contreras, AC, return Station with info that the victims were Marcelo Barruela y Diva, 58 yrs old, married, fishpond optr/Radio Announcer, and res of Dorado Sub-division, Roxas City, and Segundo Maguad y Macabiling, 70 yrs old, res of Brgy Bantigue, this mplty, which (sic) were shot by unidentified persons at Brgy Bantigue, this mplty, victims sustained gunshot wounds in the deff (sic) parts of the body which caused their instantanious (sic) death (sic). Five (5) empty shells and five (5) lives ammos of 5.56 caliver (sic) were recovered at the crime scene. Case under investigation.

52

It bears stressing that Contreras made this entry upon meeting Rodolfo at Jessie's house after the latter had made the report summarized in the first entry (Exhibit "4-B") and after having verbally investigated him and completed the inspection of the crime scene in his and Teresita and Toto Barruela's presence. Upon being questioned by the trial court, Contreras admitted that this entry was based "on my investigation from Brgy. Bantigue," 53 i.e., the investigation he conducted in the barangay where the killings took place. It is thus obvious that despite all these, Pfc. Contreras and the members of his team were unable to ascertain the assailants' identities as their names were not entered in the police blotter. It is true that entries in police blotters should not be given undue significance or probative value, for they are usually incomplete and inaccurate, sometimes from either partial suggestions or for want of suggestion or inquiries. However, in the instant case, considering that

the first entry (Exhibit "4-B") was made on the basis of the report given by Sevilla immediately after being informed by Rodolfo Maguad about the killings and, considering further that Jessie Sevilla was not even called to the witness stand by the prosecution to testify on what he had reported, the said entry cannot just be disregarded. On the matter of the second entry (Exhibit "4-C"), it is to be noted that no less than the team leader himself, Pfc. Contreras, prepared the same at a time when the occurrences he had just investigated even if preliminarily were still very fresh in his mind. Being an experienced investigator, he certainly knew what to enter in the police blotter. He would therefore not have written that the assailants were unidentified if such was not the fact. Teresita Barruela's courtroom testimony is likewise unreliable. Our evaluation of it strongly indicates that she was unable to see the assailants, much less identify them. She claims that she peeped through the window and saw Eduardo Cordova and his younger brother Isidro because of the light emanating from the petromax which was under their house. 54 If there was indeed a petromax illuminating the place where the persons who called Marcelo Barruela were positioned, we find it difficult to understand why the latter still had to look for his flashlight and beam it towards the former. Moreover, the team of Pfc. Allan Contreras conducted a thorough investigation of the crime scene and meticulously prepared sketches which indicate the relative locations of the victims, the empty shells and the other objects which the members saw there, as the bed, tables, chairs, jars, a box, a dirty kitchen stove and the sink. 55 It is to be observed that no petromax appears in the said sketches. So vital a piece of evidence could not have entirely escaped these

investigators attention. Both Pfc. Allan Contreras and Pat. Rafael Dipon, Jr., the person who prepared the said sketches, never mentioned, while testifying, that there was a petromax in the house of the Barruelas or at any other place at the scene of the crime. Finally, from the testimony of Teresita Barruela, it may also be gathered that her husband did not recognize the person who addressed him as "Tay Seloy" and requested to be brought, together with his companions, to Pontevedra. Thus, Marcelo was only able to answer "It seems" when Teresita whispered to him that the intention of such men were not good. If indeed Marcelo knew the identity of the person who called for him, he would not have just said "It seems." What is more unusual about Teresita's actuation was her failure to disclose the identities of the assailants to Pfc. Contreras or any other member of his team during the entire time they were in her house. The said policemen stayed with her from early dawn to 7:00 o'clock in the morning of 30 May 1986 or, according to her, for six hours.56 We find her explanation that she was unable to furnish such information because she was crying to be unacceptable. Her answer during cross-examination do not at all suggest that it was impossible for her to have answered the questions intended to elicit the identities of the assailants. Thus: ATTY. PATRICIO: xxx xxx xxx A They investigated Rudy Maguad. Q How about you?

A They asked questions from me but I could not answer those questions because I was crying heavily at that time. Q You did not tell them that the one (sic) who shot your husband and Segundo Maguad were Suli Cordova and his companions? A No, because they could not talk to me. Q Why, what happened to you? A Because I felt bad and I was crying. Q How long did those policemen stayed (sic) in your house? A In my estimate maybe about 6 hours, up to the morning. Q During that period of six (6) hours, you kept on crying so much so that you did not tell the policemen who were the perpetrators of the crime? A Because they were talking also with Rudolfo (sic) Maguad. Q But there was an occasion that Pat. Allan Contreras attempted to ask you who shot your husband?

A He asked questions from me on the 11th already. Q During the time that the policemen were there they did not ask you who were the persons who were with your husband at the time he was shot? A They were also talking with Rudy Maguad. Q How about you, did not PFC Contreras ask you what exactly you were doing at the time he was shot?
A He also asked me but I did not answer because I kept on crying.

57

It appears that Teresita revealed the assailants identities only on 11 June 1986. It is of course settled that delay or vacillation in making a criminal accusation does not necessarily impair the credibility of a witness if such delay is satisfactorily explained. 58 In the instant case, we find Teresita's explanation to be insufficient and inadequate. There is no evidence to show that she was hysterical at the time the policemen were in her house; that she was so distraught as to preclude her from answering any question; or that she was afraid of revealing the names of the assailants for fear of reprisal. Considering the fact that it was no less than her husband who was killed, the most natural thing for her to have done was to have, despite the tears, identified the Cordovas as the authors of the heinous crime if indeed they were. In the light of the foregoing exposition on the testimonies of Teresita

Barruela and Rodolfo Maguad, it is obvious that the culpability of both have been placed in serious doubt. Even the testimony of Norberto Javier did not save the day for the prosecution as the same is inherently improbable. On direct examination, he testified that Reynaldo Cordova pointed an armalite at him. Thereupon, after transferring to his (Norberto's) boat, Reynaldo asked where the gasoline was kept; when Norberto told Reynaldo that the gasoline was at the rear of the engine room, the latter ordered him to get it. Norberto then complied with the command. 59 And yet, during cross-examination, Norberto declared that on 3 June 1987, when Reynaldo Cordova came to his house, asked him whether the gasoline obtained by Marcelo Barruela's killers was taken from him and told him that it was good that nothing happened to him (Norberto), the latter did not bother to confront Reynaldo about what he (Reynaldo) allegedly did in the evening of 29 May 1986 simply because Reynaldo "was in a hurry." 60 If indeed Reynaldo Cordova pointed an armalite at Norberto Javier and demanded gasoline, Norberto's natural reaction should have been to immediately confront Reynaldo about the episode. 4. Adding further doubt to the culpability of the appellants is the candid admission of Pfc. Contreras that the police authorities had in fact suspected two groups as being responsible for the deaths of Marcelo Barruela and Segundo Maguad, viz., that of Commander Jojo of the NPA and that of the Cordovas. Contreras informer revealed that the victims were killed by the NPAs led by Commander Jojo. The former gave the following statements on rebuttal: COURT:

Q What were the report (sic) of the informer who have hinted you (six)? A The reports of my informer were different what (sic) Rudy Maguad told me because Rudy Maguad told me that the suspect he saw were (sic) Rey Cordova and alias "Suli", and the reports of my informer was (sic) that the one (sic) who shot Marcelo Barruela were NPAs and was lead (sic) by Commander Jojo and the one that transported them from Brgy. Bantigue in a barrio of Panay was Ernesto Estorque Jr. xxx xxx xxx ATTY. ALOVERA: Q Did you ask your informers where they based their informations? xxx xxx xxx A Yes, sir. ATTY. ALOVERA: Q And what did they tell you?
A They answered that they based their reports through informations that was disseminate (sic) inside the public market.

61

It is to be likewise noted that Pfc. Contreras had earlier declared that he investigated Estorque on 30 May 1986. Estorque supposedly

averred that he was the one who "conducted" the banca used by the NPAs who were led by Commander Jojo. Estorque's sworn statement was immediately taken on that date and subsequently offered by the prosecution in evidence as Exhibit "M". 62 Needless to say, the prosecution is bound by said Exhibit "M" which is also marked as Exhibit "2" for the defense. 63 5. Finally, we are not persuaded by the trial court's thesis that appellants Reynaldo and Eduardo Cordova killed Marcelo Barruela out of vengeance because the latter purportedly killed their mother's uncle, Lucio Barruela, in 1953. Evident premeditation is thus suggested. Reynaldo Cordova was only twenty-nine years old when he testified on 17 September 1987 64 while Eduardo Cordova was twenty-three years old when he testified on 23 September 1987. 65 In other words, Reynaldo and Eduardo were born in 1958 and 1964, respectively long after Lucio Barruela's death. There is no evidence on record to show how Lucio was killed and whether Marcelo Barruela was convicted or acquitted for such an act. It was, as well, not established whether appellants Reynaldo and Eduardo Cordova had determined to kill Marcelo in retaliation for the death of Lucio and had clung to such a determination. For evident premeditation to exist, the following requisites must concur: (1) the time when the offender determined to commit the crime, (2) an act manifestly indicating that he has clung to his determination, and (3) a sufficient lapse of time between the determination and execution to allow him to reflect upon the consequences of his act. 66 None of these requisites are present in this case.

We are not convinced that the prosecution was able to discharge its burden of overcoming, by proof beyond reasonable doubt or that degree of proof which produces a conviction in an unprejudiced mind 67 the presumption of innocence which appellants Eduardo and Reynaldo Cordova are entitled to. Short of this, it is not only the appellants' right to be freed; it is, even more, the constitutional duty of the court to acquit them. 68 It must always be remembered that an accusation is not synonymous with guilt and that an accused's freedom is forfeit only if the requisite quantum of proof necessary for conviction be in existence. The proof presented against the accused must survive the test of reason; the strongest suspicion must not be permitted to sway judgment. 69 The foregoing disquisitions render unnecessary further discussion regarding the other issues raised in the assignment of errors, save for the claimed insanity of Eduardo Cordova under the sixth assigned error. We shall now consider this ascribed error. The law presumes all acts to be voluntary, and that it is improper to presume that acts were done unconsciously.70 The quantum of evidence required to overthrow the presumption of sanity is proof beyond reasonable doubt. 71Since insanity is in the nature of a confession and avoidance, it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. 72Moreover, an accused is presumed to have been sane at the time of the commission of the crime in the absence of positive evidence to show that he had lost his reason or was demented prior to or during the perpetration of the crime. 73 Eduardo's mother was already making a conclusion when she stated that Eduardo had no work because he was insane. More concrete acts showing the

mental condition of the person alleged to be insane need to be shown in order that insanity may be appreciated in his favor. In People vs. Dungo, 74 we held: Thus, insanity must be shown by surrounding circumstances fairly throwing light on the subject, such as evidence of the alleged deranged person's general conduct and appearance, his acts and conduct inconsistent with his previous character and habits, his irrational acts and beliefs, and his improvement bargains. The neuro-pyschiatric evaluation report for appellant Eduardo Cordova dated 4 September 1987 and which states the following:
Impression-Neuro-psyshiatric and psychological evaluation shows that the subject is suffering from a mental disorder called schizophrenia Paranoid Type.

75

is not relevant at all as it concerns his mental condition at the time of trial. The inquiry into his mental condition should relate to the period immediately before or at the very moment the crime was committed. 76 Moreover, appellant Eduardo Cordova did not even ask for the suspension of his arraignment on the ground that he was suffering from insanity. Paragraph (a), Section 12, Rule 116 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that the arraignment of an accused who appears to be suffering from a unsound mental condition which effectively renders him unable to fully understand the charge against him and to plead intelligently thereto, shall be suspended. In the case at bar, Eduardo Cordova even took the witness stand to testify.

The records, however, disclose that in April of 1988, when Eduardo showed signs of mental abnormality, the Provincial Warden of Capiz reported the matter to the trial court 77 which in turn directed the latter's confinement at the National Center for Mental Health at Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. 78 On 5 October 1989, his discharge from the center was recommended by a resident physician thereof because he had improved and was already competent to stand trial. 79 It was only on 26 March 1992, however, that Eduardo was discharged from the center and transferred to the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa. 80 WHEREFORE, the challenged Decision in Criminal Case No. C-2422 and Criminal Case No. C-2423 of Branch 16 of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas City is hereby REVERSED. The accused-appellants REYNALDO CORDOVA @ Rey Cordova, EDUARDO CORDOVA @ Suli Cordova and ERNESTO ESTORQUE, JR. are ACQUITTED on ground of reasonable doubt. Their immediate release from detention is hereby ordered, unless other lawful cause would warrant their further detention. Costs de oficio. SO ORDERED. Feliciano, Bidin, Romero and Melo, JJ., concur.

Footnotes 1 Original Records (OR), Crim. Case No. C-2422, 1. 2 OR, Crim. Case No. C-2422, 35.

3 Id., 36. 4 Id., 43. 5 Id., 45. 6 Id., 66-79; Id., Crim. Case No. C-2423, 4-17. 7 OR. Crim. Case No. C-2422, 63-64. 8 Id., Crim. Case No. C-2423, 1-2. 9 OR, Crim. Case No. C-2422, 113; OR, Crim. Case No. C-2423, 36. 10 Leopoldo Barrios, Enrico Galapin, Dominador Buenavista, Pat. Rafael Dipon, Alfonso Rediones, Ildefonso Bernales, Edwin Bergancia, Eduarda Doluso, Lydia Buenconsejo, Juan Besana, Clarita Cordova, T/Sgt. Frankie Andion and P/Lt. Romeo Hervias. 11 TSN, 3 April 1987, 4-17. 12 TSN, 19 May 1987, 3-28. 13 Id., 31-33. 14 TSN, 1 April 1987, 34-41. 15 TSN, 20 May 1987, 28-47. 16 TSN, 17 September 1987, 4-10. 17 TSN, 23 June 1987, 12-15.

18 TSN, 23 September 1987, 2. 19 TSN, 10 July 1987, 9. 20 TSN, 13 August 1987, 16-19. 21 TSN, 23 June 1987, 24-28. 22 TSN, 13 August 1987, op. cit., 2-9. 23 TSN, 10 July 1987, 5; TSN, 23 June 1987, op. cit., 20. 24 TSN, 14 August 1987, 2-12. 25 TSN, 13 October 1987, 30-31. 26 OR, Crim. Case No. C-2422, 770-793; Rollo, 34-57. The decision is dated 4 February 1988. 27 OR, Crim. Case No. C-2422, 792-793; Rollo, 56-57. 28 OR, Crim. Case No. C-2422, 792; Rollo, 56. 29 Id., 803. 30 Rollo, 3. 31 Id., 2. 32 Brief for Accused-Appellants, 1-2; Rollo, 63, et seq. 33 Rollo, 92.

34 Brief for Accused-Appellants, 9. 35 Brief for Accused-Appellants, 36-37. 36 Brief for Accused-Appellants, 48. 37 Id., 53-54. 38 U.S. vs. Ambrosio, 17 Phil., 295 [1910]; People vs. Cabilao, 210 SCRA 326 [1992]. 39 U.S. vs. Pico, 15 Phil. 549 [1910]; People vs. Tismo, 204 SCRA 535 [1991]; People vs. Lee, 204 SCRA 900 [1991]; People vs. Simon, 209 SCRA 148 [1992]; People vs. Garcia, 209 SCRA 164 [1992]. 40 Section 4, Rule 133, Revised Rules of Court. 41 People vs. Nieto, 103 Phil. 1133 [1958]. 42 Article 12(3), Revised Penal Code. 43 Article 8, Id. 44 People vs. Tingson, 47 SCRA 243 [1972]; People vs. Alonzo, 73 SCRA 484 [1976]; People vs. Cabiling, 74 SCRA 285 [1976]. 45 Section 30, Rule 130, Revised Rules of Court. 46 Section 9, rule 119, Id. 47 TSN, 3 April 1987, 4-6.

48 TSN, 19 May 1987, 3-4. Italics supplied for emphasis. 49 TSN, 13 October 1987, 2-3. 50 Exhibit "4-B." 51 TSN, 13 October 1987, op. cit., 13; 15. 52 Exhibit "4-C." 53 TSN, 13 October 1987, 13. 54 TSN, 19 May 1987, 9-11. 55 Exhibits "G" and "H." 56 TSN, 19 May 1987, 17. 57 TSN, 19 May, 1987, 67-68. 58 People vs. Obngayan, 55 SCRA 465 [1974]; People vs. Roxas, 73 SCRA 583 [1976]; People vs. Elizaga, 73 SCRA 524 [1976]. 59 TSN, 1 April 1987, 38-39. 60 Id., 51-52. 61 TSN, 13 October 1987, 11-12. 62 TSN, 20 May 1987, 44-45; TSN, 22 May 1987, 46. 63 TSN, 13 October 1987, op cit., 35; Rollo, Crim. Case No. C02422, 329.

64 TSN, 17 September 1987, 5. 65 TSN, 23 September 1987, 2. 66 People vs. Buka, 205 SCRA 567 [1992]. 67 Section 2, Rule 133, Revised Rules of Court. 68 People vs. Pido, 200 SCRA 45 [1991], citing People vs. Maisug, 27 SCRA 742 [1969]. 69 People vs. Dramayo, 42 SCRA 59, 64 [1971]. 70 People vs. Dungo, 199 SCRA 860 [1991]. 71 People vs. Dungo, supra.; People vs. Danao, G.R. No. 96832, 19 November 1992. 72 People vs. Danao, supra. 73 People vs. Rafanan, 204 SCRA 65 [1991]. 74 Supra. at 867. 75 Exhibit "6"; OR, Crim. Case No. C-2422, 614. 76 People vs. Aquino, 186 SCRA 851 [1990]. 77 OR, Crim. Case No. C-2422, 829. 78 Id., 838. 79 Rollo, 130.

80 Id., 159.
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