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Retroactive Effect of Penal Laws

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. APOLINAR LAZARO


Facts:
The accused willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession, custody and control one (1)
handgun 6 empty shells on the chamber, said accused not having any license and/or permit to possess and
carry the same from the authorities charged with the issuance thereof. The firearm has been used in
shooting two persons one of whom died and the other has serious condition at the Mother Seton Hospital.
It appears that a separate case for homicide was filed against the accused but was tried separately before the
same judge.
Regional Trial Court finds accused Apolinar Poly Lazaro guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of
Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition.Hence, this appeal where accused-appellant raises the sole
assignment of error that the trial court erred in finding the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition qualified by homicide. Accused-appellant argues
that assuming that he is guilty, he should only be convicted of the crime of simple illegal possession not
qualified by homicide.
Issue:
Whether or not the court erred in convicting accused for the crime of illegal possession of firearms and
ammunition qualified by homicide.
Held:
Court ruled that the enactment of Republic Act No. 8294, which amended the provisions of P.D. 1866, has
rendered accused-appellants argument moot and academic.
Section 1 of P.D. 1866 provides: XXX If homicide or murder is committed with the use of an unlicensed
firearm, the penalty of death shall be imposed. XXX
Republic Act No. 8294 has since amended P.D. No. 1866 by reducing the penalties for simple and
aggravated forms of illegal possession and considering the use of an unlicensed firearm simply as an
aggravating circumstance in murder or homicide. The law now provides: XXX If homicide or murder is
committed with the use of unlicensed firearm, such use of an unlicensed firearm shall be considered as an
aggravating circumstance. XXX
It also state that the penalties for illegal possession of firearms shall be imposed provided that no other
crime is committed. In other words, where murder or homicide was committed, the separate penalty for
illegal possession shall no longer be meted out since it becomes merely a special aggravating circumstance.
In view of the amendments introduced by Republic Act 8294 to Presidential Decree 1866, separate
prosecutions for homicide and illegal possession are no longer in order. Instead, illegal possession of
firearms is merely to be taken as an aggravating circumstance in the homicide case.
R.A. 8294 took effect on July 6, 1997. The crime involved in the case at bench was committed on May 5,
1991. As a general rule, penal laws will generally have prospective application except where the new law
will be advantageous to the accused. In this case R.A. 8294 will spare accused-appellant from a separate
conviction for the crime of illegal possession of firearm. Accordingly, said law should be given retroactive
application.
However, the use of an unlicensed firearm in the case at bar cannot be considered as a special aggravating
circumstance in Criminal Case No. U-8747 (for Complex Crime of Multiple Murder), also under review
herein, because it will unduly raise the penalty for the four counts of murder from four reclusion perpetua
to that of four-fold death. Insofar as this particular provision of Republic Act No. 8294 is not beneficial to
accused-appellant because it unduly aggravates the crime, this new law will not be given retroactive
application, lest it might acquire the character of an ex-post facto law.

Pardon by the Offended Party


STA CATALINA vs PEOPLE
Facts:
Private complainant Lorenzo B. Ballecer was the president of Sunrise Industries Development,
Incorporated while his friend, herein petitioner, was the president of Century United Marketing and Trading
Corporation. Sometime in February 1988, Ballecer entered into a joint business venture with petitioner
involving importation of jute sacks from China. Petitioner intimated to Ballecer that he could secure the
jute sacks from China through a company in Hongkong which would act as his agent. Petitioner also told
Ballecer that he had a ready buyer in the Philippines named Saugus Enterprises which was willing to buy
the jute sacks at P12.25 per piece. Convinced, Ballecer ordered through petitioner one container load of jute
sacks with the total cost of P137,000. Ballecer then asked petitioner to accompany him to United Coconut
Planters Bank to encash a check worth P100,000 and open a letter of credit at Citytrust Bank. When they
went to Citytrust bank, the bank was already closed because it is beyond business hours. The parties
executed a document evidencing that Lorenzo received 100,000 to be deposited to Citytrust.
While preparing the supporting customs documents for the letter of credit, Ballecer found that the cost of
the jute sacks was not $0.15 but $0.62 or P16.15 per piece.[10] Realizing that his business venture was a
losing proposition, Ballecer cancelled the importation and asked petitioner to return the P100,000.
Petitioner, however, failed to return the money despite repeated verbal and formal demands prompting
respondent to file an estafa case. RTC convicted the petitioner-accused of estafa. However on April 10,
2000, the public prosecutor filed a Manifestation stating that Ballecer was no longer interested in pursuing
his complaint against petitioner and that the case should be decided in light of Ballecers Affidavit of
Desistance. Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, convicting the petitioner-accused of estafa.
Issue:
Whether or not the Affidavit of Desistance is equivalent to pardon of the offended party, thereby a ground
for dismissal of the case.
Held:
NO. The Affidavit of Desistance submitted by Ballecer will not justify the dismissal of the action. By itself,
an Affidavit of Desistance is not a ground for the dismissal of an action, once the action has been instituted
in court. Here, Ballecer made the so-called pardon of the petitioner after the institution of the action. He
made the Affidavit of Desistance only on October 25, 1999 more than two years after the trial court had
rendered its decision. The Court attaches no persuasive value to a desistance especially when executed as
an afterthought. It would be a dangerous rule to reject the testimony taken before the court of justice simply
because the witness who had given it later on changed his mind for one reason or another. Such a rule will
make a solemn trial a mockery and place the investigation at the mercy of unscrupulous witnesses.
Moreover, if we allow the dismissal of the case in view of Ballecers Affidavit of Desistance, there is always
the probability that it would later on be repudiated, and criminal prosecution would thus be interminable.

BALDERAMA vs PEOPLE
Facts:
Rolando L. Balderama, petitioner in G.R. Nos. 147578-85, and Rolando D. Nagal, petitioner in G.R. Nos.
147598-605, were employed with the Land Transportation Commission (LTO) assigned to the Field
Enforcement Division, Law Enforcement Services. Juan S. Armamento, respondent in both cases, operates
a taxi business with a fleet of ten (10) taxi units.
Acting on complaints that taxi drivers in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport discriminate against
passengers and would transport them to their destinations only on a contract basis, the LTO created a team
to look into the veracity of the complaints. Petitioners in these cases were members of the team, popularly
known as Flying Squad, together with Cipriano L. Lubrica and Cresencio de Jesus.
On July 14, 1992, the team flagged down for inspection an SJ Taxi owned by respondent. The team
impounded the taxi on the ground that its meter was defective. However, upon inspection and testing by the
LTO Inspection Division, the results showed that contrary to the report of the team, the meter waiting time
mechanism of the vehicle was not defective and was functioning normally. The vehicle was released to
respondent.
On December 2, 1992, respondent, feeling aggrieved of the malicious impounding of his vehicle, filed with
the Office of the Ombudsman a complaint for bribery and violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (R.A.)
No. 3019, as amended,[2] against herein petitioners as well as Lubrica and de Jesus.
On March 5, 1999, accused de Jesus died. The cases against him were dismissed. The hearing proceeded
against petitioners and Lubrica.
Sandiganbayan found petitioners and Lubrica guilty of direct bribery. Petitioners prayer for complete
acquittal on the strength of respondents affidavit of recantation executed by the adverse party.
Issue:
Whether or not complete acquittal is proper on the strength of respondents affidavit of recantation.
Held:
Petitioners prayer for complete acquittal on the strength of respondents affidavit of recantation fails to
impress the court.
The Sandiganbayan found the above elements of direct bribery present. It was duly established that the
accused demanded and received P300.00 as protection money from respondent on several dates. As against
the prosecutions evidence, all that the accused could proffer was alibi and denial, the weakest of defenses.
A recantation or an affidavit of desistance is viewed with suspicion and reservation.[8] The Court looks
with disfavor upon retractions of testimonies previously given in court. It is settled that an affidavit of
desistance made by a witness after conviction of the accused is not reliable, and deserves only scant
attention. The rationale for the rule is obvious: affidavits of retraction can easily be secured from
witnesses, usually through intimidation or for a monetary consideration. Recanted testimony is exceedingly
unreliable. There is always the probability that it will later be repudiated. Only when there exist special
circumstances in the case which when coupled with the retraction raise doubts as to the truth of the
testimony or statement given, can retractions be considered and upheld. s found by the Sandiganbayan,
(t)here is indubitably nothing in the affidavit which creates doubts on the guilt of accused Balderama and
Nagal.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs EDGARDO DIMAANO


Facts:
On January 26, 1996, Maricar Dimaano charged her father, Edgardo Dimaano with two (2) counts of rape
and one (1) count of attempted rape in the complaints. Sometime in the year 1993, the above-named
accused, by means of force and intimidation, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge
of the undersigned complainant Maricar Dimaano y Victoria, who is his own daughter, a minor 10 years of
age, against her will and consent. And that on or about the 1st day of January 1996,the accused try and
attempt to rape her again commencing the commission of the crime of Rape, directly by overt acts, but
nevertheless did not perform all the acts of execution which would produce it, as a consequence by reason
of cause other than his spontaneous desistance that is due to the timely arrival of the complainant's mother.
Trial court convicted the accused. It disregarded the Compromise Agreement and the Salaysay sa Paguurong ng Sumbong since complainant was not assisted by a lawyer when she signed the same. Besides,
she testified in open court that she was pursuing the case against her father. Court of Appeals affirmed the
decision of the trial court.
Issue:
Whether or not the voluntary and due execution of the affidavit of desistance should have been considered
as a factor which put doubt to the reasons behind the filing of criminal charges of rape.
Held:
Appellant's reliance on complainant's affidavit of desistance deserves scant consideration. A survey of our
jurisprudence reveals that the court attaches no persuasive value to a desistance, especially when executed
as an afterthought. The unreliable character of this document is shown by the fact that it is quite incredible
that a victim, after going through the trouble of having the appellant arrested by the police, positively
identifying him as the person who raped her, enduring the humiliation of a physical examination of her
private parts, repeating her accusations in open court and recounting her anguish in detail, will suddenly
turn around and declare that she is no longer interested in pursuing the case.
Too, complainant repudiated the affidavit of desistance in open court by stating that no lawyer assisted her
when she affixed her signature and had shown her resolve to continue with the prosecution of the cases. 28
Besides, the trial court is not bound to dismiss the cases, as it is still within its discretion whether or not to
proceed with the prosecution,29 considering that the compromise agreement and the affidavit of desistance
were executed long after the cases have been filed in court.
Moreover, a criminal offense is an outrage to the sovereign State and to the State belongs the power to
prosecute and punish crimes. By itself, an affidavit of desistance is not a ground for the dismissal of an
action, once it has been instituted in court. A private complainant loses the right or absolute privilege to
decide whether the rape charge should proceed, because the case was already filed and must therefore
continue to be heard by the trial court.
In addition, a careful scrutiny of the affidavit of desistance reveals that complainant never retracted her
allegation that she was raped by her father. Neither did she give any exculpatory fact that would raise
doubts about the rape. All she stated in the affidavit was that she had decided to withdraw the complaints
after the appellant agreed not to disturb the complainant; to consent to annul his marriage; allow his wife to
solely manage the conjugal properties; and entrust the custody of his children to his wife. Rather than
contradict, this affidavit reinforces complainant's testimony that appellant raped her on several occasions.