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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 90478 November 21, 1991
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD
GOVERNMENT), petitioner,
vs.
SANDIGANBAYAN, BIENVENIDO R. TANTOCO, JR. and DOMINADOR R.
SANTIAGO, respondents.
Dominador R. Santiago for and in his own behalf and as counsel for respondent Tantoco, Jr.

NARVASA, J.:p
Private respondents Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr. and Dominador R. Santiago together with
Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Sr., Gliceria R. Tantoco, and Maria
Lourdes Tantoco-Pineda-are defendants in Civil Case No. 0008 of the Sandiganbayan. The case
was commenced on July 21, 1987 by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in
behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. The complaint which initiated the action was denominated
one "for reconveyance, reversion, accounting, restitution and damages," and was avowedly filed
pursuant to Executive Order No. 14 of President Corazon C. Aquino.
After having been served with summons, Tantoco, Jr. and Santiago, instead of filing their answer,
jointly filed a "MOTION TO STRIKE OUT SOME PORTIONS OF THE COMPLAINT AND FOR BILL
OF PARTICULARS OF OTHER PORTIONS" dated Nov. 3, 1987. 1 The PCGG filed an opposition thereto, 2 and
the movants, a reply to the opposition. 3 By order dated January 29, 1988, the Sandiganbayan, in order to expedite proceedings and
accommodate the defendants, gave the PCGG forty-five (45) days to expand its complaint to make more specific certain allegations. 4

Tantoco and Santiago then presented a "motion for leave to file interrogatories under Rule 25 of the
Rules of Court" dated February 1, 1988, and "Interrogatories under Rule 25." 5 Basically, they sought an
answer to the question: "Who were the Commissioners of the PCGG (aside from its Chairman, Hon. Ramon Diaz, who verified the
complaint) who approved or authorized the inclusion of Messrs. Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Jr. and Dominador R. Santiago as defendants in
the . . case?" 6 The PCGG responded by filing a motion dated February 9, 1988 to strike out said motion and interrogatories as being
impertinent, "queer," "weird," or "procedurally bizarre as the purpose thereof lacks merit as it is improper, impertinent and irrelevant under
any
guise." 7

On March 18, 1988, in compliance with the Order of January 29, 1988, the PCGG filed an Expanded
Complaint. 8As this expanded complaint, Tantoco and Santiago reiterated their motion for bill of particulars, through a Manifestation
dated April 11, 1988. 9

Afterwards, by Resolution dated July 4, 1988,

10 the Sandiganbayan denied the motion to strike out, for bill of particulars,
and for leave to file interrogatories, holding them to be without legal and factual basis. Also denied was the PCGG's motion to strike out
impertinent pleading dated February 9, 1988. The Sandiganbayan declared inter alia the complaint to be "sufficiently definite and clear
enough," there are adequate allegations . . which clearly portray the supposed involvement and/or alleged participation of defendantsmovants in the transactions described in detail in said Complaint," and "the other matters sought for particularization are evidentiary in nature

which should be ventilated in the pre-trial or trial proper . ." It also opined that "(s)ervice of interrogatories before joinder of issue and without
leave of court is premature . . (absent) any special or extraordinary circumstances . . which would justify . . (the same)."

Tantoco and Santiago then filed an Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim under date of July 18,
1988. 11 In response, the PCGG presented a "Reply to Answer with Motion to Dismiss Compulsory Counterclaim " 12
The case was set for pre-trial on July 31, 1989. 13 On July 25, 1989, the PCGG submitted its PRE-TRIAL. 14 The pre-trial
was however reset to September 11, 1989, and all other parties were required to submit pre-trial briefs on or before that date. 15

On July 27, 1989 Tantoco and Santiago filed with the Sandiganbayan a pleading denominated
"Interrogatories to Plaintiff," 16 and on August 2, 1989, an "Amended Interrogatories to Plaintiff"' 17 as well as a Motion for
Production and Inspection of Documents. 18

The amended interrogatories chiefly sought factual details relative to specific averments of PCGG's
amended complaint, through such questions, for instance, as
1. In connection with the allegations . . in paragraph 1 . ., what specific property or
properties does the plaintiff claim it has the right to recover from defendants Tantoco,
Jr. and Santiago for being ill-gotten?
3. In connection with the allegations . . in paragraph 10 (a) . . what specific act or
acts . . were committed by defendants Tantoco, Jr. and Santiago in "concert with"
defendant Ferdinand Marcos and in furtherance or pursuit, of the alleged systematic
plan of said defendant Marcos to accumulate ill-gotten wealth?"
5. In connection with . . paragraph 13 . ., what specific act or acts of the defendants
Tantoco, Jr. and Santiago . . were committed by said defendants as part, or in
furtherance, of the alleged plan to conceal assets of defendants Ferdinand and
Imelda Marcos?
7. In connection with . . paragraph 15(c) . . is it plaintiff's position or theory of the
case that Tourist Duty Free Shops, Inc., including all the assets of said corporation,
are beneficially owned by either or both defendants Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos
and that the defendants Tantoco, Jr. and Santiago, as well as, the other stockholders
of record of the same corporation are mere "dummies" of said defendants Ferdinand
and /or Imelda R. Marcos?
On the other hand, the motion for production and inspection of documents prayed for examination
and copying of
1) the "official records and other evidence" on the basis of which the verification of
the Amended Complaint asserted that the allegations thereof are "true and correct;"
2) the documents listed in PCGG's Pre-Trial Brief as those "intended to be presented
and . . marked as exhibits for the plaintiff;" and
3) "the minutes of the meeting of the PCGG which chronicles the discussion (if any)
and the decision (of the Chairman and members) to file the complaint" in the case at
bar.

By Resolutions dated August 21, 1989 and August 25, 1989, the Sandiganbayan admitted the
Amended Interrogatories and granted the motion for production and inspection of documents
(production being scheduled on September 14 and 15, 1989), respectively.
On September 1, 1989, the PCGG filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Resolution of August 25,
1989 (allowing production and inspection of documents). It argued that
1) since the documents subject thereof would be marked as exhibits during the pre-trial on
September 11, 1989 anyway, the order for "their production and inspection on September 14 and 15,
are purposeless and unnecessary;"
2) movants already know of the existence and contents of the document which "are clearly described
. . (in) plaintiff's Pre-Trial Brief;"
3) the documents are "privileged in character" since they are intended to be used against the PCGG
and/or its Commissioners in violation of Section 4, Executive Order No. 1, viz.:
(a) No civil action shall lie against the Commission or any member thereof for
anything done or omitted in the discharge of the task contemplated by this Order.
(b) No member or staff of the Commission shall be required to testify or produce
evidence in any judicial, legislative, or administrative proceeding concerning matters
within its official cognizance.
It also filed on September 4, 1989 an opposition to the Amended Interrogatories,

19 which the
Sandiganbayan treated as a motion for reconsideration of the Resolution of August 21, 1989 (admitting the Amended Interrogatories). The
opposition alleged that

1) the interrogatories "are not specific and do not name the person to whom they are
propounded . .," or "who in the PCGG, in particular, . . (should) answer the interrogatories;"
2) the interrogatories delve into "factual matters which had already been decreed . . as part of the
proof of the Complaint upon trial . .;"
3) the interrogatories "are frivolous" since they inquire about "matters of fact . . which defendants . .
sought to . . (extract) through their aborted Motion for Bill of Particulars;"
4) the interrogatories "are really in the nature of a deposition, which is prematurely filed and
irregularly utilized . . (since) the order of trial calls for plaintiff to first present its evidence."
Tantoco and Santiago filed a reply and opposition on September 18, 1989.
After hearing, the Sandiganbayan promulgated two (2) Resolutions on September 29, 1989, the first,
denying reconsideration (of the Resolution allowing production of documents), and the second,
reiterating by implication the permission to serve the amended interrogatories on the plaintiff
(PCGG). 20
Hence, this petition for certiorari.

The PCGG contends that said orders, both dated September 29, 1989, should be nullified because
rendered with grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction. More particularly, it
claims
a) as regards the order allowing the amended interrogatories to the plaintiff PCGG:
1) that said interrogatories are not specific and do not name the particular individuals
to whom they are propounded, being addressed only to the PCGG;
2) that the interrogatories deal with factual matters which the Sandiganbayan (in
denying the movants' motion for bill of particulars) had already declared to be part of
the PCGG's proof upon trial; and
3) that the interrogatories would make PCGG Commissioners and officers witnesses,
in contravention of Executive Order No. 14 and related issuances; and
b) as regards the order granting the motion for production of documents:
1) that movants had not shown any good cause therefor;
2) that some documents sought to be produced and inspected had already been
presented in Court and marked preliminarily as PCGG's exhibits, and the movants
had viewed, scrutinized and even offered objections thereto and made comments
thereon; and
3) that the other documents sought to be produced are either
(a) privileged in character or confidential in nature and
their use is proscribed by the immunity provisions of
Executive Order No. 1, or
(b) non-existent, or mere products of the movants'
suspicion and fear.
This Court issued a temporary restraining order on October 27, 1989, directing the Sandiganbayan
to desist from enforcing its questioned resolutions of September 29, 1989 in Civil Case No. 0008. 21
After the issues were delineated and argued at no little length by the parties, the Solicitor General
withdrew "as counsel for plaintiff . . with the reservation, however, conformably with Presidential
Decree No. 478, the provisions of Executive Order No. 292, as well as the decisional law of 'Orbos v.
Civil Service Commission, et al.,' (G.R. No. 92561, September 12, 1990) 22 to submit his comment/observation
on incidents/matters pending with this . . Court if called for by circumstances in the interest of the Government or if he is so required by the
Court." 23 This, the Court allowed by Resolution dated January 21, 1991. 24

Subsequently, PCGG Commissioner Maximo A. Maceren advised the Court that the cases from
which the Solicitor General had withdrawn would henceforth be under his (Maceren's) charge
"and/or any of the following private attorneys: Eliseo B. Alampay, Jr., Mario E. Ongkiko, Mario
Jalandoni and such other attorneys as it may later authorize." 25
The facts not being in dispute, and it appearing that the parties have fully ventilated their respective
positions, the Court now proceeds to decide the case.

Involved in the present proceedings are two of the modes of discovery provided in the Rules of
Court: interrogatories to parties , 26 and production and inspection of documents and things. 27 Now, it appears to the Court
that among far too many lawyers (and not a few judges), there is, if not a regrettable unfamiliarity and even outright ignorance about the
nature, purposes and operation of the modes of discovery, at least a strong yet unreasoned and unreasonable disinclination to resort to them
which is a great pity for the intelligent and adequate use of the deposition-discovery mechanism, coupled with pre-trial procedure, could,
as the experience of other jurisdictions convincingly demonstrates, effectively shorten the period of litigation and speed up
adjudication. 28 Hence, a few words about these remedies is not at all inappropriate.

The resolution of controversies is, as everyone knows, the raison d'etre of courts. This essential
function is accomplished by first, the ascertainment of all the material and relevant facts from the
pleadings and from the evidence adduced by the parties, and second, after that determination of the
facts has been completed, by the application of the law thereto to the end that the controversy may
be settled authoritatively, definitely and finally.
It is for this reason that a substantial part of the adjective law in this jurisdiction is occupied with
assuring that all the facts are indeed presented to the Court; for obviously, to the extent that
adjudication is made on the basis of incomplete facts, to that extent there is faultiness in the
approximation of objective justice. It is thus the obligation of lawyers no less than of judges to see
that this objective is attained; that is to say, that there no suppression, obscuration,
misrepresentation or distortion of the facts; and that no party be unaware of any fact material a
relevant to the action, or surprised by any factual detail suddenly brought to his attention during the
trial. 29
Seventy-one years ago, in Alonso v. Villamor, 30 this Court described the nature and object of litigation and in the process
laid down the standards by which judicial contests are to be conducted in this jurisdiction. It said:

A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and
skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other. It
is, rather a contest in which each contending party fully and fairly lays before the
court the facts in issue and then brushing aside as wholly trivial and indecisive all
imperfections of form and technicalities of procedure, asks that justice be done on
the merits. Lawsuits, unlike duels, are not to be won by a rapier's thrust. Technicality,
when it deserts its proper office as an aid to justice and becomes its great hindrance
and chief enemy, deserves scant consideration from courts. There should be no
vested right in technicalities. . . .
The message is plain. It is the duty of each contending party to lay before the court the facts in
issue-fully and fairly; i.e., to present to the court all the material and relevant facts known to him,
suppressing or concealing nothing, nor preventing another party, by clever and adroit manipulation
of the technical rules of pleading and evidence, from also presenting all the facts within his
knowledge.
Initially, that undertaking of laying the facts before the court is accomplished by the pleadings filed by
the parties; but that, only in a very general way. Only "ultimate facts" are set forth in the pleadings;
hence, only the barest outline of the facfual basis of a party's claims or defenses is limned in his
pleadings. The law says that every pleading "shall contain in a methodical and logical form, a plain,
concise and direct statement of the ultimate factson which the party pleading relies for his claim or
defense, as the case may be, omitting the statement of mere evidentiary facts." 31
Parenthetically, if this requirement is not observed, i.e., the ultimate facts are alleged too generally or
"not averred with sufficient definiteness or particularity to enable . . (an adverse party) properly to
prepare his responsive pleading or to prepare for trial," a bill of particulars seeking a "more definite
statement" may be ordered by the court on motion of a party. The office of a bill of particulars is,
however, limited to making more particular or definite the ultimate facts in a pleading It is not its

office to supply evidentiary matters. And the common perception is that said evidentiary details are
made known to the parties and the court only during the trial, when proof is adduced on the issues of
fact arising from the pleadings.
The truth is that "evidentiary matters" may be inquired into and learned by the parties before the trial.
Indeed, it is the purpose and policy of the law that the parties before the trial if not indeed even
before the pre-trial should discover or inform themselves of all the facts relevant to the action, not
only those known to them individually, but also those known to adversaries; in other words,
the desideratum is that civil trials should not be carried on in the dark; and the Rules of Court make
this ideal possible through the deposition-discovery mechanism set forth in Rules 24 to 29. The
experience in other jurisdictions has been that ample discovery before trial, under proper regulation,
accomplished one of the most necessary of modern procedure: it not only eliminates unessential
issue from trials thereby shortening them considerably, but also requires parties to play the game
with the cards on the table so that the possibility of fair settlement before trial is measurably
increased. . ."32
As just intimated, the deposition-discovery procedure was designed to remedy the conceded
inadequacy and cumbersomeness of the pre-trial functions of notice-giving, issue-formulation and
fact revelation theretofore performed primarily by the pleadings.
The various modes or instruments of discovery are meant to serve (1) as a device, along with the
pre-trial hearing under Rule 20, to narrow and clarify the basic issues between the parties, and (2)
as a device for ascertaining the facts relative to those issues. The evident purpose is, to repeat, to
enable parties, consistent with recognized privileges, to obtain the fullest possible knowledge of the
issues and facts before trials and thus prevent that said trials are carried on in the dark. 33
To this end, the field of inquiry that may be covered by depositions or interrogatories is as broad as
when the interrogated party is called as a witness to testify orally at trial. The inquiry extends to all
facts which are relevant, whether they be ultimate or evidentiary, excepting only those matters which
are privileged. The objective is as much to give every party the fullest possible information of all the
relevant facts before the trial as to obtain evidence for use upon said trial. The principle is reflected
in Section 2, Rule 24 (governing depositions) 34 which generally allows the examination of a deponent
1) "regarding any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject of the
pending action, whether relating to the claim or defense of any other party;"
2) as well as:
(a) "the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any books,
documents, or other tangible things" and
(b) "the identity and location of persons having knowledge of relevant facts."
What is chiefly contemplated is the discovery of every bit of information which may be useful in the
preparation for trial, such as the identity and location of persons having knowledge of relevant facts;
those relevant facts themselves; and the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and
location of any books, documents, or other tangible things. Hence, "the deposition-discovery rules
are to be accorded a broad and liberal treatment. No longer can the time-honored cry of "fishing
expedition" serve to preclude a party from inquiring into the facts underlying his opponent's case.
Mutual knowledge of all the relevant facts gathered by both parties is essential to proper litigation. To
that end, either party may compel the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in his possession. The

deposition-discovery procedure simply advances the stage at which the disclosure can be compelled
from the time of trial to the period preceding it, thus reducing the possibility, of surprise, . . . 35
In line with this principle of according liberal treatment to the deposition-discovery mechanism, such
modes of discovery as (a) depositions (whether by oral examination or written interrogatories) under
Rule 24, (b) interrogatories to parties under Rule 25, and (c) requests for admissions under Rule 26,
may be availed of without leave of court, and generally, without court intervention. The Rules of
Court explicitly provide that leave of court is not necessary to avail of said modes of discovery after
an answer to the complaint has been served. 36 It is only when an answer has not yet been filed (but after jurisdiction has
been obtained over the defendant or property subject of the action) that prior leave of court is needed to avail of these modes of discovery,
the reason being that at that time the issues are not yet joined and the disputed facts are not clear. 37

On the other hand, leave of court is required as regards discovery by (a) production or inspection of
documents or things in accordance with Rule 27, or (b) physical and mental examination of persons
under Rule 28, which may be granted upon due application and a showing of due cause.
To ensure that availment of the modes of discovery is otherwise untrammeled and efficacious, the
law imposes serious sanctions on the party who refuses to make discovery, such as dismissing the
action or proceeding or part thereof, or rendering judgment by default against the disobedient party;
contempt of court, or arrest of the party or agent of the party; payment of the amount of reasonable
expenses incurred in obtaining a court order to compel discovery; taking the matters inquired into as
established in accordance with the claim of the party seeking discovery; refusal to allow the
disobedient party support or oppose designated claims or defenses; striking out pleadings or parts
thereof; staying further proceedings. 38
Of course, there are limitations to discovery, even when permitted to be undertaken without leave
and without judicial intervention. "As indicated by (the) Rules . . ., limitations inevitably arise when it
can be shown that the examination is being conducted in bad faith or in such a manner as to annoy,
embarass, or oppress the person subject to the inquiry. 39 And . . . further limitations come into existence when the
inquiry touches upon the irrelevant or encroaches upon the recognized domains of privilege." 40

In fine, the liberty of a party to make discovery is well nigh unrestricted if the matters inquired into
are otherwise relevant and not privileged, and the inquiry is made in good faith and within the
bounds of the law.
It is in light of these broad principles underlying the deposition-discovery mechanism, in relation of
course to the particular rules directly involved, that the issues in this case will now be resolved.
The petitioner's objections to the interrogatories served on it in accordance with Rule 25 of the Rules
of Court cannot be sustained.
It should initially be pointed out as regards the private respondents "Motion for Leave to File
Interrogatories" dated February 1, 1988 41 that it was correct for them to seek leave to serve interrogatories, because
discovery was being availed of before an answer had been served. In such a situation, i.e., "after jurisdiction has been obtained over any
defendant or over property subject of the action" but before answer, Section 1 of Rule 24 (treating of depositions), in relation to Section 1 of
Rule 25 (dealing with interrogatories to parties) explicitly requires "leave of court." 42 But there was no need for the private respondents to
seek such leave to serve their "Amended Interrogatories to Plaintiff" (dated August 2, 1989 43) after they had filed their answer to the
PCGG's complaint, just as there was no need for the Sandiganbayan to act thereon.

1. The petitioner's first contention that the interrogatories in question are defective because they
(a) do not name the particular individuals to whom they are propounded, being addressed only to the
PCGG, and (b) are "fundamentally the same matters . . (private respondents) sought to be clarified
through their aborted Motion . . for Bill of Particulars" are untenable and quickly disposed of.

The first part of petitioner's submission is adequately confuted by Section 1, Rule 25 which states
that if the party served with interrogatories is a juridical entity such as "a public or private corporation
or a partnership or association," the same shall be "answered . . by any officer thereof competent to
testify in its behalf." There is absolutely no reason why this proposition should not be applied by
analogy to the interrogatories served on the PCGG. That the interrogatories are addressed only to
the PCGG, without naming any specific commissioner o officer thereof, is utterly of no consequence,
and may not be invoked as a reason to refuse to answer. As the rule states, the interrogatories shall
be answered "by any officer thereof competent to testify in its behalf."
That the matters on which discovery is desired are the same matters subject of a prior motion for bill
of particulars addressed to the PCGG's amended complaint and denied for lack of merit is
beside the point. Indeed, as already pointed out above, a bill of particulars may elicit
only ultimate facts, not so-called evidentiary facts. The latter are without doubt proper subject of
discovery. 44
Neither may it be validly argued that the amended interrogatories lack specificity. The merest glance
at them disproves the argument. The interrogatories are made to relate to individual paragraphs of
the PCGG's expanded complaint and inquire about details of the ultimate facts therein alleged. What
the PCGG may properly do is to object to specific items of the interrogatories, on the ground of lack
of relevancy, or privilege, or that the inquiries are being made in bad faith, or simply to embarass or
oppress it. 45 But until such an objection is presented and sustained, the obligation to answer subsists.
2. That the interrogatories deal with factual matters which will be part of the PCGG's proof upon trial,
is not ground for suppressing them either. As already pointed out, it is the precise purpose of
discovery to ensure mutual knowledge of all the relevant facts on the part of all parties even before
trial, this being deemed essential to proper litigation. This is why either party may compel the other
to disgorge whatever facts he has in his possession; and the stage at which disclosure of evidence
is made is advanced from the time of trial to the period preceding it.
3. Also unmeritorious is the objection that the interrogatories would make PCGG Commissioners and
officers witnesses, in contravention of Executive Order No. 14 and related issuances. In the first
place, there is nothing at all wrong in a party's making his adversary his witness . 46 This is expressly
allowed by Section 6, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, viz.:

Sec. 6. Direct examination of unwilling or hostile witnesses. A party may . . . call


an adverse party or an officer, director, or managing agent of a public or private
corporation or of a partnership or association which is an adverse party, and
interrogate him by leading questions and contradict and impeach him in all respects
as if he had been called by the adverse party, and the witness thus called may be
contradicted and impeached by or on behalf of the adverse party also, and may be
cross-examined by the adverse party only upon the subject-matter of his examination
in chief.
The PCGG insinuates that the private respondents are engaged on a "fishing expedition," apart from
the fact that the information sought is immaterial since they are evidently meant to establish a claim
against PCGG officers who are not parties to the action. It suffices to point out that "fishing
expeditions" are precisely permitted through the modes of discovery. 47 Moreover, a defendant who files a
counterclaim against the plaintiff is allowed by the Rules to implead persons (therefore strangers to the action) as additional defendants on
said counterclaim. This may be done pursuant to Section 14, Rule 6 of the Rules, to wit:

Sec. 14. Bringing new parties. When the presence of parties other than those to
the original action is required for the granting of complete relief in the determination

of a counterclaim or cross-claim, the court shall order them to be brought in as


defendants, if jurisdiction over them can be obtained."
The PCGG's assertion that it or its members are not amenable to any civil action "for anything done
or omitted in the discharge of the task contemplated by . . (Executive) Order (No. 1)," is not a ground
to refuse to answer the interrogatories. The disclosure of facto relevant to the action and which are
not self-incriminatory or otherwise privileged is one thing; the matter of whether or not liability may
arise from the facts disclosed in light of Executive Order
No. 1, is another. No doubt, the latter proposition may properly be set up by way of defense in the
action.
The apprehension has been expressed that the answers to the interrogatories may be utilized as
foundation for a counterclaim against the PCGG or its members and officers. They will be. The
private respondents have made no secret that this is in fact their intention. Withal, the Court is
unable to uphold the proposition that while the PCGG obviously feels itself at liberty to bring actions
on the basis of its study and appreciation of the evidence in its possession, the parties sued should
not be free to file counterclaims in the same actions against the PCGG or its officers for gross
neglect or ignorance, if not downright bad faith or malice in the commencement or initiation of such
judicial proceedings, or that in the actions that it may bring, the PCGG may opt not to be bound by
rule applicable to the parties it has sued, e.g., the rules of discovery.
So, too, the PCGG's postulation that none of its members may be "required to testify or produce
evidence in any judicial . . proceeding concerning matters within its official cognizance," has no
application to a judicial proceeding it has itself initiated. As just suggested, the act of bringing suit
must entail a waiver of the exemption from giving evidence; by bringing suit it brings itself within the
operation and scope of all the rules governing civil actions, including the rights and duties under the
rules of discovery. Otherwise, the absurd would have to be conceded, that while the parties it has
impleaded as defendants may be required to "disgorge all the facts" within their knowledge and in
their possession, it may not itself be subject to a like compulsion.
The State is, of course, immune from suit in the sense that it cannot, as a rule, be sued without its
consent. But it is axiomatic that in filing an action, it divests itself of its sovereign character and
sheds its immunity from suit, descending to the level of an ordinary litigant. The PCGG cannot claim
a superior or preferred status to the State, even while assuming to represent or act for the State. 48
The suggestion 49 that the State makes no implied waiver of immunity by filing suit except when in so doing it acts in, or in matters
concerning, its proprietary or non-governmental capacity, is unacceptable; it attempts a distinction without support in principle or precedent.
On the contrary

The consent of the State to be sued may be given expressly or impliedly. Express
consent may be manifested either through a general law or a special law. Implied
consent is given when the State itself commences litigation or when it enters into a
contract. 50
The immunity of the State from suits does not deprive it of the right to sue private parties in its own courts. The state as
plaintiff may avail itself of the different forms of actions open to private litigants. In short, by taking the initiative in an
action against the private parties, the state surrenders its privileged position and comes down to the level of the
defendant. The latter automatically acquires, within certain limits, the right to set up whatever claims and other
defenses he might have against the state. . . . (Sinco, Philippine Political Law, Tenth E., pp. 36-37, citing U.S. vs.
Ringgold, 8 Pet. 150, 8 L. ed. 899)" 51

It can hardly be doubted that in exercising the right of eminent domain, the State exercises its jus
imperii, as distinguished from its proprietary rights or jus gestionis. Yet, even in that area, it has been
held that where private property has been taken in expropriation without just compensation being

paid, the defense of immunity from suit cannot be set up by the State against an action for payment
by the owner. 52
The Court also finds itself unable to sustain the PCGG's other principal contention, of the nullity of
the Sandiganbayan's Order for the production and inspection of specified documents and things
allegedly in its possession.
The Court gives short shrift to the argument that some documents sought to be produced and
inspected had already been presented in Court and marked preliminarily as PCGG's exhibits, the
movants having in fact viewed, scrutinized and even offered objections thereto and made comments
thereon. Obviously, there is nothing secret or confidential about these documents. No serious
objection can therefore be presented to the desire of the private respondents to have copies of those
documents in order to study them some more or otherwise use them during the trial for any purpose
allowed by law.
The PCGG says that some of the documents are non-existent. This it can allege in response to the
corresponding question in the interrogatories, and it will incur no sanction for doing so unless it is
subsequently established that the denial is false.
The claim that use of the documents is proscribed by Executive Order No. 1 has already been dealt
with. The PCGG is however at liberty to allege and prove that said documents fall within some other
privilege, constitutional or statutory.
The Court finally finds that, contrary to the petitioner's theory, there is good cause for the production
and inspection of the documents subject of the motion dated August 3, 1989. 53 Some of the documents are,
according to the verification of the amended complaint, the basis of several of the material allegations of said complaint. Others, admittedly,
are to be used in evidence by the plaintiff. It is matters such as these into which inquiry is precisely allowed by the rules of discovery, to the
end that the parties may adequately prepare for pre-trial and trial. The only other documents sought to be produced are needed in relation to
the allegations of the counterclaim. Their relevance is indisputable; their disclosure may not be opposed.

One last word. Due no doubt to the deplorable unfamiliarity respecting the nature, purposes and
operation of the modes of discovery earlier
mentioned, 54 there also appears to be a widely entertained idea that application of said modes is a complicated matter, unduly
expensive and dilatory. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For example, as will already have been noted from the preceding discussion,
all that is entailed to activate or put in motion the process of discovery by interrogatories to parties under Rule 25 of the Rules of Court, is
simply the delivery directly to a party of a letter setting forth a list of least questions with the request that they be answered
individually. 55 That is all. The service of such a communication on the party has the effect of imposing on him the obligation of answering
the questions "separately and fully in writing underoath," and serving "a copy of the answers on the party submitting the interrogatories within
fifteen (15) days after service of the interrogatories . . ." 56 The sanctions for refusing to make discovery have already been
mentioned. 57 So, too, discovery under Rule 26 is begun by nothing more complex than the service on a party of a letter or other written
communication containing a request that specific facts therein set forth and/or particular documents copies of which are thereto appended,
be admitted in writing. 58 That is all. Again, the receipt of such a communication by the party has the effect of imposing on him the obligation
of serving the party requesting admission with "a sworn statement either denying specifically the matters of which an admission is requested
or setting forth in detail the reasons why he cannot truthfully either admit or deny those matters," failing in which "(e)ach of the matters of
which admission is requested shall be deemed admitted." 59 The taking of depositions in accordance with Rule 24 (either on oral
examination or by written interrogatories) while somewhat less simple, is nonetheless by no means as complicated as seems to be the
lamentably extensive notion.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED, without pronouncement as to costs. The temporary


restraining order issued on October 27, 1989 is hereby LIFTED AND SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea, Regalado and
Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.
Melencio-Herrera, J., I also join Justice Cruz's concurrence.

Romero, J., took no part.

Separate Opinions

CRUZ, J., concurring:


I am delighted to concurr with Mr. Justice Andres R. Narvasa in his scholarly ponencia which,
besides reaching a conclusion sustained by the applicable law and jurisprudence, makes for reading
both pleasurable and instructive. One function of the court not generally appreciated is to educate
the reader on the intricacies and even the mustique of the law. The opinion performs this function
with impressive expertise and makes the modes of discovery less esoteric or inaccessible to many
members of the bar.

# Separate Opinions
CRUZ, J., concurring:
I am delighted to concurr with Mr. Justice Andres R. Narvasa in his scholarly ponencia which,
besides reaching a conclusion sustained by the applicable law and jurisprudence, makes for coding
both pleasurable and instructive. One function of the court not generally appreciated is to educate
the reader on the intricacies and even the mustique of the law. The opinion performs this function
with impressive expertise and makes the modes of discovery less esoteric or inaccessible to many
members of the bar.

# Footnotes
1 Petition, Annex D.
2 Id., Annex E.
3 Id., Annex F.
4 Rollo, p. 7.
5 Id., pp. 7, 145.
6 Id., p. 7.

7 Petition, Annex G.
8 Rollo, pp. 56-87.
9 Petition, Annex H.
10 Id., Annex I.
11 Id., Annex J.
12 Id., Annex K.
13 Rollo, p. 9.
14 Petition, Annex L
15 Id., Annex M.
16 Rollo, p. 9.
17 Petition, Annex N.
18 Id., Annex O.
19 Petition, Annex R; Rollo, p. 220.
20 Id., Annexes A and B; Rollo, p. 11.
21 Rollo, pp. 244, 245, 245-A.
22 189 SCRA 459.
23 Id., p. 317. The Solicitor General also withdrew his appearance in other cases
involving the PCGG, to wit: G.R. Nos. 74302 (Tourist Sandiganbayan, et al.); 86926
(Cesar E.A Virata v. Hon. Sandiganbayan, et al.); 89425 (Republic, etc., et al. v.
Sandiganbayan . . et al.); 90478 (Republic v. Hon. Sandiganbayan, etc. et al.); 93694
(Philippine Coconut Producers Federation, etc., et al. v. PCGG, et al.).
24 Id., p. 320.
25 Id., pp. 328 et seq.
26 Governed by Rule 25.
27 Governed by Rule 27.
28 Moran (Comments on the Rules of Court, 1979 ed., Vol. 2, pp. 5-6), for instance,
points out-citingthe recommendations of the committee of the American Judicature
Society that drafted the Model Rules of Civil Procedure that "The English and
Canadian experience has been of more value than any other single procedural

device, in bringing parties to a settlement who otherwise would have fought their way
through to trial.
N.B. Actions could very well be ended by summary judgments (Rule 34) on the basis
of the results of discovery.
29 Surprises, it has been observed, are "most dangerous weapons" in a "judicial
duel" (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1963, ed., Vol. 2, p. 6).
30 16 Phil. 315, 322 (July 26, 1910); emphasis supplied.
31 Section 1, Rule 8, Rules of Court.
32 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, 1979 ed., Vol. 2, pp. 5-6; see footnote
28, supra.
33 SEE Hickman v. Taylor, et al., U.S. Sup. Ct. Rpts., 91 Law Ed., 51, 455, cited in
Feria, Civil Procedure, p. 1969 ed., p. 435; 35A CJS Sec. 527, pp. 785-786; 23 Am
Jur. 2d, See, 156, p. 493.
34 Sec. 5, Rule 25 ("Interrogatories to Parties") also allows inquiry as "to any matters
that can be inquired into under section 2 of Rule 24 . ."
35 Feria, op. cit., p. 436, citing Hickman v. Taylor, et al., supra; SEE 23 Am Jur 2d.,
Sec. 150, pp. 484-487.
36 Sec. 1, Rule 24; Sec. 1, Rule 25; Sec. 1, Rule 26.
37 SEE Everett v. Asia Banking Corp., 49 Phil. 512.
38 Rule 29.
39 SEE Secs. 16 and 18, Rule 24.
40 Hickman v. Taylor, et al., supra, cited in Feria, op. cit., p. 436.
41 SEE footnote 5, supra.
42 Cf. Uy Chao v. de la Rama Steamship Co., Inc., 6 SCRA 69.
43 SEE footnote 17, supra.
44 SEE discussion at page 8, and footnote 30 and related text, supra.
45 Cf. Lopez, etc., et al. v. Maceren, etc., et al. 95 Phil. 754; Cojuangco v. Caluag, 97
Phil. 982 (unrep.); Villalon v. Ysip, 98 Phil. 997; Caguiat v. Torres, 30 SCRA 109-110;
Jacinto v. Amparo, 93 Phil. 693.
46 SEE Cason v. San Pedro, 9 SCRA 925, where such objections as that the
interrogatories transferred the onus probandi from plaintiffs to defendants, or the

latter were being made to prove the former's case, or that anyway, the facts may be
proven by plaintiffs through their own evidence, were overruled.
47 SEE Tan Chico v. Concepcion, 43 Phil. 141 (1922).
48 It should be pointed out that the rulings in PCGG v. Pea 159 SCRA 556 (1988)
and PCGG v. Nepomuceno, etc., et al., G.R. No. 78750, April 20, 1990 are not
inconsistent with that in this proceeding, the facts and basic issues therein involved
being quite distinct from those in the case at bar. Unlike the present case, where the
PCGG instituted a civil action against Tantoco, et al. in the Sandiganbayan neither
Pea nor Nepomuceno involved any suit filed by the PCGG, the acts therein
challenged being simply its extrajudicial orders of sequestration; and in both said
cases, the Regional Trial Courts issued writs of preliminary injunction prohibiting
enforcement and implementation of the sequestration orders. This Court nullified
those injunctive writs on the ground that the PCGG, as an agency possessed of
primary administrative jurisdiction (particularly concerning sequestration) and
exercising quasi-judicial functions, was co-equal to a Regional Trial Court which
therefore had no jurisdiction to review or otherwise restrain or interfere with its acts,
that power being exclusively lodged in the Sandiganbayan, subject only to review by
this Court. In Nepomuceno, it was additionally ruled that there was prima facie basis
for the challenged order of sequestration; that the take-over of the property in
question by the PCGG fiscal agents was necessitated as much by the resistance and
defiance of the holders thereof to the PCGG's authority as by the desire of the PCGG
to preserve said property; and that since the power to seize property to conserve it
pending the institution of suit for its recovery was sanctioned by the Freedom
Constitution and the 1987 Constitution, the PCGG must be deemed immune from
any suit which would render that authority inutile or ineffectual.
49 Of the Solicitor General in his Reply to Answer, etc.: Rollo, pp 168-169.
50 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, Philippine Political Law, 1991 ed., p. 33.
SEC. 5, Act No. 3083 (eff., March 16, 1923) provides that,
"When the Government of the Philippine Islands is plaintiff in an action instituted in
any court of original jurisdiction, defendant shall have the right to assert therein, by
way of set-off or counterclaim in a similar action between private parties."
51 Froilan vs. Pan Oriental Shipping Co., 95 Phil. 905, 912.
52 Ministerio vs. City of Cebu, 40 SCRA 464, cited with approval in Santiago vs.
Republic, 87 SCRA 294.
53 Petition, Annex O, pp. 206-208.
54 At page 6, last paragraph, supra.
55 Sec. 1, Rule 25, Rules of Court.
56 Sec. 2, Rule 25.

57 SEE footnote 38 and related text.


58 Sec. 1, Rule 26.
59 Sec. 2, Rule 25; see also footnote 38 and related text, supra.
The Lawphil Project - Arellano Law Foundation

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-55624 November 19, 1982
BAGUIO COUNTRY CLUB CORPORATION, petitioner,
vs.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, FIRST DIVISION, LABOR ARBITER BENIGNO
AYSON and JIMMY SAJONAS, respondents.
Guillermo B. Bondonil for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for respondent NLRC.
Mauricio G. Domogan for respondent Sajonas.

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:


On August 18, 1978, the Baguio Country Club Corporation filed with the Ministry of Labor office at
Baguio City an application for clearance to terminate the services of respondent Jimmy Sajonas for
willful breach of trust, telling lies in an investigation, taking money paid by customers, threatening a
fellow employee, committing dishonesty against guests and committing four violations of the club
rules and regulations which would constitute valid grounds for dismissal.
On August 28, 1978, Jimmy Sajonas filed his opposition alleging that his dismissal was without
justifiable grounds to support it and that it would contravene his constitutional right to security of
tenure.
After a notice of investigation was issued, the case was referred to a conciliator who recommended
the preventive suspension of the respondent.
The Regional Director suspended Sajonas and indorsed the case for compulsory arbitration to Labor
Arbiter Benigno Ayson.
On December 11, 1978, the labor arbiter came out with a decision denying the application for
clearance to dismiss Jimmy Sajonas for insufficiency of evidence. The petitioner was ordered to
reinstate Sajonas with backwages from the time of suspension up to reinstatement and without loss
of seniority rights.
The case was appealed to the National Labor Relations Commission. On January 17, 1980, the
Commission rendered a decision dismissing the appeal and affirming the decision of the labor
arbiter.

The petitioner charges the public respondents with grave abuse of discretion for, having rendered an
"unlawful, unconstitutional, and unprecedented decision."
The main issue in this petition is the contention of the petitioner that it was denied due process
because its evidence was not considered by both the labor arbiter and the NLRC. The petitioner
states that as a result of this ignoring of its evidence, the decisions of the public respondents are
contrary to the facts and the applicable law.
A careful consideration of the records of this petition convinces us that there is merit in this petition.
The summary procedures used by the public respondents were too summary to satisfy the
requirements of justice and fair play.
The decision of the respondent Commission which affirmed the order to reinstate Mr. Sajonas with
full backwages was based on two grounds - First, the evidence available to the labor arbiter when he
decided this case was such that the respondent had not sufficiently shown a just cause for the
complainant's dismissal. Second, the evidence to support the application for clearance to dismiss the
complainant was submitted too late because it was submitted only on appeal.
The respondent Commission committed grave abuse of discretion when it affirmed the irregular and
one-sided procedure adopted by the labor arbiter in arriving at his finding of insufficiency of evidence
and when it decided to uphold a decision not only contrary to the facts but obviously unfair and
unjust.
When the Baguio office of the Ministry of Labor issued as part of the conciliation process a notice of
investigation for September 7, 1978 and September 15, 1978, the petitioner Baguio Country Club
submitted a position paper accompanied by copies of the application to terminate employment and
the sworn statements of witnesses taken during the investigation of the alleged anomalies. Jimmy
Sajonas did not submit any position paper. No position paper was served on the petitioner or its
counsel. The only document submitted was one with a short two paragraphs comprising the grounds
for opposition.
As a result of the conciliator's recommendation, the case was indorsed for arbitration to the labor
arbiter. Noting that Mr. Sajonas did not appear at the arbitration proceedings and did not present any
position paper but left it to some union members to speak for him and allegedly because Mr. Sajonas
had promised to quietly resign, the petitioner merely adopted the position paper filed during the
conciliation proceedings.
The irregular procedures used by the labor arbiter started at this point.
The labor arbiter allowed a last minute position paper of respondent Sajonas to be filed and without
requiring a copy to be served upon the Baguio Country Club and without affording the latter an
opportunity to refute or rebut the contents of the paper, forthwith decided the case.
The public respondents now argue in their comment that "it is of no moment that petitioner was not
furnished with a copy of Sajonas' position paper" because as early as the conciliation stage it was
already apprised of the position of the employee, having been furnished Sajonas' opposition and that

it cannot feign ignorance. This stand of the public respondents is erroneous. Since the case was
decided on the basis of position papers, the petitioner had a right to be served a copy of the
respondent's position paper admitted and considered by the arbiter and an opportunity to introduce
evidence to refute it. As explained by the petitioner, it had been lulled into thinking that because the
private respondent had offered to resign and the employer had agreed to forego the prosecution of
criminal charges, there would no longer be any complete or full-scale arbitration proceedings Mr.
Sajonas denies that he promised to resign and contends that criminal proceedings were an
afterthought to harass the poor laborer. The fact that there were two divergent and clashing
allegations before them, not only on this point but also on the 'Principal issues of dishonesty and
intimidation of co-employees, the public respondents should have adopted fairer and more accurate
methods of ascertaining truth.
As pointed out by the petitioner, "while an administrative tribunal possesed of quasi-judicial powers is
free from the rigidity of certain procedural requirements, it does not mean that it can in justiciable
cases coming before it entirely ignore or disregard the fundamental and essential requirements of
due process." (Serrano v. PSC, 24 SCRA 867; and Singco v. COMELEC, 101 SCRA 420).
The petitioner's position paper, passed upon by the labor arbiter, stated that the petitioner had
furnished the oppositor (Jimmy Sajonas) and the ALU (the union of workers in the club) copies of the
application to terminate, as well as the investigations of witnesses against Jimmy Sajonas, which
distinctly show the infractions committed by oppositor, particularly that of the incident of August 6,
1978 wherein Sajonas was supposed to have pocketed a cash payment of a customer of the BCC,
constituting qualified theft. The petitioner specifically stressed to the arbiter that it was "adopting the
investigations which were enclosed with the application to terminate, which are now parts of the
record of the Ministry of Labor, as part and parcel of this position paper. "
In other words, the petitioner submitted its case on the basis of the complete records of the
conciliation proceedings.
The position paper was before the arbiter but minus sworn statements comprising the investigations
which formed part of the records of the same labor office.
Inexplicably, the arbiter came out with the conclusion that "there is thus no document nor statement
of evidence value or of evidencing character which we can consider as evidence to support, the
enumerated violations for which Sajonas is supposed to be dismissed . " Instead of calling for the
records submitted to the concilliator in the same small Baguio office, the arbiter denied the
application for the clearance on the ground that all that was before it was a position paper with mere
quotations about an investigation conducted by Major Pagala.
The error could have been corrected by the respondent Commission when the petitioner urged that
the sworn statements thus ignored by the labor arbiter should be considered on appeal.
In the appeal to the commission, the petitioner argued that " submitted with this application to
terminate are the investigation of Erdulfo Pagala on Bernadette Saliquio, Alma Jean Quidasol,
Cristina Rico, and Clarissa Adalla.

The respondent Commission may not have committed grave abuse of discretion when it rejected the
affidavits of these witnesses, the information for estafa against Jimmy Sajonas filed by the assistant
city fiscal, did the resolution of the fiscal's office on the complaint for grave threats, on the ground
that "evidence cannot be submitted for the first time on appeal." However, it was a denial of
elementary principles of fair play for the Commission not to have ordered the elevation of the entire
records of the case with the affidavits earlier submitted as part of the position paper but completely
ignored by the labor arbiter. Or at the very least, the case should have been remanded to the labor
arbiter consonant with the requirements of administrative due process.
The ever increasing scope of administrative jurisdiction and the statutory grant of expansive powers
in the exercise of discretion by administrative agencies illustrate our nation's faith in the
administrative process as an efficient and effective mode of public control over sensitive areas of
private activity. Because of the specific constitutional mandates on social justice and protection to
labor, and the fact that major labor management controversies are highly intricate and complex, the
legislature and executive have reposed uncommon reliance upon what they believe is the expertise,
the rational and efficient modes of ascertaining facts, and the unbiased and discerning adjudicative
techniques of the Ministry of Labor and Employment and its instrumentalities.
Experience has shown this faith to be justified. In the great majority of petitions for ' review of
decisions from the Ministry of Labor and Employment, we have sustained agency determinations
and denied due course to the petitions. However, we have never hesitated to exercise our corrective
powers and to reverse labor ministry decisions where the ministry or a labor tribunal like the
respondent commission has sustained irregular procedures and through the invocation of summary
methods, including rules on appeal, has affirmed an order which tolerates a violation of due process.
This Court will reverse or modify an administrative decision where the rights of a party were
prejudiced because the administrative findings, conclusions, or decisions are in violation of
constitutional provisions; in excess of statutory authority, or jurisdiction; made upon irregular
procedure; vitiated by fraud, imposition or mistake; not supported by substantial evidence adduced
at the hearing or contained in the records or disclosed to the parties; or arbitrary, capricious, or
issued with grave abuse of discretion, (Pajo v. Ago, 108 Phil. Castaneda v. Court of Appeals, 26
SCRA 186; Manuel v. Villena, 37 SCRA 745; Asprec v. Itchon, 16 SCRA 921; Garcia v. Executive
Secretary, 6 SCRA 1; Air Manila v. Balatbat, 38 SCRA 489; Sichangco v. Board of Commissioners,
94 SCRA 61).
The instant petition is a timely reminder to labor arbiters and all who wield quasi-judicial power to
ever bear in mind that evidence is the means, sanctioned by rules, of ascertaining in a judicial or
quasi-judicial proceeding, the truth respecting a matter of fact. (Section 1, Rule 128) The object of
evidence is to establish the truth by the use of perceptive and reasoning faculties. (See Martin,
Rules of Court, Vol. 5 on Evidence, p. 2 citing Chamberlayne on Trial Evidence and Thayer
on Prelim. Treat.) The statutory grant of power to use summary procedures should heighten a
concern for due process, for judicial perspective in administrative decision making, and for
maintaining the visions which led to the creation of the administrative office.
From the records which form part of the position paper submitted to the labor arbiter and those
raised on appeal to the respondent commission, the following have been establish.

At about 10:30 in the morning of August 6, 1978, Miss Bernadette Saliquio, a waitress of the Baguio
City Country Club served two glasses of orange juice tot he maid and the children of Mrs. Solon .
Bartender Jimmy Sajonas pocketed the cash payment of P7.00 for the juice and utilized Chit No.
183100 signed by Dr. Lodzinski for two bottles of beer to cover for the order of orange juice which
was changed to two beers. In other words, one chit was used twice. Miss Alma Jean Quisadol,
checker, who corroborated the testimony of Miss Saliquio, who checks the orders for drinks, and
who mentioned an earlier anomaly involving four loaves of raisin bread, was threatened several days
later by Sajonas for reporting the incident to management. Miss Cristina Rico, nutritionist,
corroborated the utterance of the threat "papatayin." An information for estafa was filed in Criminal
Case No. 40292 of the Baguio City Court but the case for grave threats where the office of the City
Fiscal "arrived at the indubitable conclusion that the respondent indeed uttered threatened.,
remarks" was dismissed for having prescribed. We agree with the petitioner that the loss of trust and
confidence and the wedge driven into the relationship of the private respondent with both
management and his co-employees warrant the grant of clearance to terminate his employment. We
likewise note the petitioner's statement that Mr. Sajonas has been working as bartender for a hotel in
Pangasinan since March, 1979 and was about to be promoted to a hotel in Manila in November,
1979.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby granted. The decision dated January 17, 1980 of the
National Labor Relations Commission affirming the December 11, 1978 decision of the labor arbiter
is set aside. The appropriate office of the Ministry of Labor and Employment is ordered to give the
petitioner a clearance to terminate the employment of the private respondent.
SO ORDERED.
Teehankee (Chairman), Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Vasquez and Relova, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 182356

December 4, 2013

DRA, LEILA A DELA LLANO, Petitioner,


vs.
REBECCA BIONG, doing business under the name and style of Pongkay Trading, Respondent.
DECISION
BRION, J.:
Very case essentially turns on two basic questions: questions of fact and questions of law. Questions
of fact are the parties and their counsel to respond to, based on what supporting facts the legal
questions require; the court can only draw conclusion from the facts or evidence adduced. When the
facts are lacking because of the deficiency of presented evidence, then the court can only draw one
conclusion: that the cause must fail for lack of evidentiary support.
The present case is one such case as Dra. Leila A dela Llanas(petitioner) petition for review on
certorari challenging the February 11, 2008 Decision and the March 31, 2008 resolution of the Court
of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 89163.
1

The Factual Antecedents

On March 30, 2000, at around 11:00 p.m., Juan dela Llana was driving a 1997 Toyota Corolla car
along North Avenue, Quezon City.
4

His sister, Dra. dela Llana, was seated at the front passenger seat while a certain Calimlim was at
the backseat.
5

Juan stopped the car across the Veterans Memorial Hospital when the signal light turned red. A few
seconds after the car halted, a dump truck containing gravel and sand suddenly rammed the cars
rear end, violently pushing the car forward. Due to the impact, the cars rear end collapsed and its
rear windshield was shattered. Glass splinters flew, puncturing Dra. dela Llana. Apart from these
minor wounds, Dra. dela Llana did not appear to have suffered from any other visible physical
injuries.
6

The traffic investigation report dated March 30, 2000 identified the truck driver as Joel Primero. It
stated that Joel was recklessly imprudent in driving the truck.
7

Joel later revealed that his employer was respondent Rebecca Biong, doing business under the
name and style of "Pongkay Trading" and was engaged in a gravel and sand business.
8

In the first week of May 2000, Dra. dela Llana began to feel mild to moderate pain on the left side of
her neck and shoulder. The pain became more intense as days passed by. Her injury became more
severe. Her health deteriorated to the extent that she could no longer move her left arm. On June 9,
2000, she consulted with Dr. Rosalinda Milla, a rehabilitation medicine specialist, to examine her
condition. Dr. Milla told her that she suffered from a whiplash injury, an injury caused by the
compression of the nerve running to her left arm and hand. Dr. Milla required her to undergo physical
therapy to alleviate her condition. Dra. dela Llanas condition did not improve despite three months
of extensive physical therapy.
9

She then consulted other doctors, namely, Drs. Willie Lopez, Leonor Cabral-Lim and Eric Flores, in
search for a cure. Dr. Flores, a neuro-surgeon, finally suggested that she undergo a cervical spine
surgery to release the compression of her nerve. On October 19, 2000, Dr. Flores operated on her
spine and neck, between the C5 and the C6 vertebrae.
10

The operation released the impingement of the nerve, but incapacitated Dra. dela Llana from the
practice of her profession since June 2000 despite the surgery.
11

Dra. dela Llana, on October 16, 2000, demanded from Rebecca compensation for her injuries, but
Rebecca refused to pay.
12

Thus, on May 8, 2001, Dra. dela Llana sued Rebecca for damages before the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City (RTC). She alleged that she lost the mobility of her arm as a result of the vehicular
accident and claimedP150,000.00 for her medical expenses (as of the filing of the complaint) and an
average monthly income ofP30,000.00 since June 2000. She further prayed for actual, moral, and
exemplary damages as well as attorneys fees.
13

In defense, Rebecca maintained that Dra. dela Llana had no cause of action against her as no
reasonable relation existed between the vehicular accident and Dra. dela Llanas injury. She pointed
out that Dra. dela Llanas illness became manifest one month and one week from the date of the
vehicular accident. As a counterclaim, she demanded the payment of attorneys fees and costs of
the suit.
14

At the trial, Dra. dela Llana presented herself as an ordinary witness and Joel as a hostile witness.
15

16

Dra. dela Llana reiterated that she lost the mobility of her arm because of the vehicular accident. To
prove her claim, she identified and authenticated a medical certificate dated November 20, 2000
issued by Dr. Milla. The medical certificate stated that Dra. dela Llana suffered from a whiplash
injury. It also chronicled her clinical history and physical examinations.
17

Meanwhile, Joel testified that his truck hit the car because the trucks brakes got stuck.

18

In defense, Rebecca testified that Dra. dela Llana was physically fit and strong when they met
several days after the vehicular accident. She also asserted that she observed the diligence of a
good father of a family in the selection and supervision of Joel. She pointed out that she required
Joel to submit a certification of good moral character as well as barangay, police, and NBI
clearances prior to his employment. She also stressed that she only hired Primero after he
successfully passed the driving skills test conducted by Alberto Marcelo, a licensed drivermechanic.
19

Alberto also took the witness stand. He testified that he checked the truck in the morning of March
30, 2000. He affirmed that the truck was in good condition prior to the vehicular accident. He opined
that the cause of the vehicular accident was a damaged compressor. According to him, the absence
of air inside the tank damaged the compressor.
20

RTC Ruling
The RTC ruled in favor of Dra. dela Llana and held that the proximate cause of Dra. dela Llanas
whiplash injury to be Joels reckless driving.
21

It found that a whiplash injury is an injury caused by the sudden jerking of the spine in the neck area.
It pointed out that the massive damage the car suffered only meant that the truck was overspeeding. It maintained that Joel should have driven at a slower pace because road visibility
diminishes at night. He should have blown his horn and warned the car that his brake was stuck and
could have prevented the collision by swerving the truck off the road. It also concluded that Joel was
probably sleeping when the collision occurred as Joel had been driving for fifteen hours on that
fateful day. The RTC further declared that Joels negligence gave rise to the presumption that
Rebecca did not exercise the diligence of a good father of a family in Joel's selection and
supervision of Joel. Rebecca was vicariously liable because she was the employer and she
personally chose him to drive the truck. On the day of the collision, she ordered him to deliver gravel
and sand to Muoz Market, Quezon City. The Court concluded that the three elements necessary to
establish Rebeccas liability were present: (1) that the employee was chosen by the employer,
personally or through another; (2) that the services were to be rendered in accordance with orders
which the employer had the authority to give at all times; and (3) that the illicit act of the employee
was on the occasion or by reason of the functions entrusted to him. The RTC thus awarded Dra.
dela Llana the amounts of P570,000.00 as actual damages, P250,000.00 as moral damages, and
the cost of the suit.
22

CA Ruling
In a decision dated February 11, 2008, the CA reversed the RTC ruling. It held that Dra. dela Llana
failed to establish a reasonable connection between the vehicular accident and her whiplash injury
by preponderance of evidence. Citing Nutrimix Feeds Corp. v. Court of Appeals, it declared that
courts will not hesitate to rule in favor of the other party if there is no evidence or the evidence is too
slight to warrant an inference establishing the fact in issue. It noted that the interval between the
23

date of the collision and the date when Dra. dela Llana began to suffer the symptoms of her illness
was lengthy. It concluded that this interval raised doubts on whether Joels reckless driving and the
resulting collision in fact caused Dra. dela Llanas injury. It also declared that courts cannot take
judicial notice that vehicular accidents cause whiplash injuries. It observed that Dra. dela Llana did
not immediately visit a hospital to check if she sustained internal injuries after the accident.
Moreover, her failure to present expert witnesses was fatal to her claim. It also gave no weight to the
medical certificate. The medical certificate did not explain how and why the vehicular accident
caused the injury.
24

The Petition
Dra. dela Llana points out in her petition before this Court that Nutrimix is inapplicable in the present
case. She stresses that Nutrimix involved the application of Article 1561 and 1566 of the Civil Code,
provisions governing hidden defects. Furthermore, there was absolutely no evidence in Nutrimix that
showed that poisonous animal feeds were sold to the respondents in that case. As opposed to the
respondents in Nutrimix, Dra. dela Llana asserts that she has established by preponderance of
evidence that Joels egligent act was the proximate cause of her whiplash injury. First, pictures of
her damaged car show that the collision was strong. She posits that it can be reasonably inferred
from these pictures that the massive impact resulted in her whiplash injury. Second, Dr. Milla
categorically stated in the medical certificate that Dra. dela Llana suffered from whiplash
injury. Third, her testimony that the vehicular accident caused the injury is credible because she was
a surgeon.
Dra. dela Llana further asserts that the medical certificate has probative value. Citing several cases,
she posits that an uncorroborated medical certificate is credible if uncontroverted.
25

She points out that expert opinion is unnecessary if the opinion merely relates to matters of common
knowledge. She maintains that a judge is qualified as an expert to determine the causation between
Joels reckless driving and her whiplash injury. Trial judges are aware of the fact that whiplash
injuries are common in vehicular collisions.
The Respondents Position
In her Comment, Rebecca points out that Dra. dela Llana raises a factual issue which is beyond the
scope of a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. She maintains that
the CAs findings of fact are final and conclusive. Moreover, she stresses that Dra. dela Llanas
arguments are not substantial to merit this Courts consideration.
26

The Issue
The sole issue for our consideration in this case is whether Joels reckless driving is the proximate
cause of Dra. dela Llanas whiplash injury.
Our Ruling We find the petition unmeritorious.
The Supreme Court may review questions of fact in a petition for review on certiorari when the
findings of fact by the lower courts are conflicting
The issue before us involves a question of fact and this Court is not a trier of facts. As a general rule,
the CAs findings of fact are final and conclusive and this Court will not review them on appeal. It is
not the function of this Court to examine, review or evaluate the evidence in a petition for review

on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. We can only review the presented evidence, by
way of exception, when the conflict exists in findings of the RTC and the CA.
27

We see this exceptional situation here and thus accordingly examine the relevant evidence
presented before the trial court.
Dra. dela Llana failed to establish her case by preponderance of evidence
Article 2176 of the Civil Code provides that "[w]hoever by act or omission causes damage to another,
there being fault or negligence, is obliged to pay for the damage done. Such fault or negligence, if
there is no pre-existing contractual relation between the parties, is a quasi-delict." Under this
provision, the elements necessary to establish a quasi-delict case are:
(1) damages to the plaintiff;
(2) negligence, by act or omission, of the defendant or by some person for whose acts the defendant
must respond, was guilty; and
(3) the connection of cause and effect between such negligence and the damages.

28

These elements show that the source of obligation in a quasi-delict case is the breach or omission of
mutual duties that civilized society imposes upon its members, or which arise from non-contractual
relations of certain members of society to others.
29

Based on these requisites, Dra. dela Llana must first establish by preponderance of evidence the
three elements of quasi-delict before we determine Rebeccas liability as Joels employer.
She should show the chain of causation between Joels reckless driving and her whiplash injury.
Only after she has laid this foundation can the presumption - that Rebecca did not exercise the
diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of Joel - arise.
30

Once negligence, the damages and the proximate causation are established, this Court can then
proceed with the application and the interpretation of the fifth paragraph of Article 2180 of the Civil
Code.
31

Under Article 2176 of the Civil Code, in relation with the fifth paragraph of Article 2180, "an action
predicated on an employees act or omission may be instituted against the employer who is held
liable for the negligent act or omission committed by his employee."
32

The rationale for these graduated levels of analyses is that it is essentially the wrongful or negligent
act or omission itself which creates the vinculum juris in extra-contractual obligations.
33

In civil cases, a party who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it.
He who alleges has the burden of proving his allegation by preponderance of evidence or greater
weight of credible evidence.
34

The reason for this rule is that bare allegations, unsubstantiated by evidence, are not equivalent to
proof.

In short, mere allegations are not evidence.

35

In the present case, the burden of proving the proximate causation between Joels negligence and
Dra. dela Llanas whiplash injury rests on Dra. dela Llana. She must establish by preponderance of
evidence that Joels negligence, in its natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any efficient
intervening cause, produced her whiplash injury, and without which her whiplash injury would not
have occurred.
36

Notably, Dra. dela Llana anchors her claim mainly on three pieces of evidence:
(1) the pictures of her damaged car,
(2) the medical certificate dated November 20, 2000, and
(3) her testimonial evidence. However, none of these pieces of evidence show the causal relation
between the vehicular accident and the whiplash injury. In other words,
Dra. dela Llana, during trial, did not adduce the factum probans or the evidentiary facts by which the
factum probandum or the ultimate fact can be established, as fully discussed below.
37

A.
The pictures of the damaged
car only demonstrate the
impact of the collision
Dra. dela Llana contends that the pictures of the damaged car show that the massive impact of the
collision caused her whiplash injury. We are not persuaded by this bare claim. Her insistence that
these pictures show the causation grossly belies common logic. These pictures indeed demonstrate
the impact of the collision. However, it is a far-fetched assumption that the whiplash injury can also
be inferred from these pictures.
B.
The medical certificate cannot be
considered because it was
not admitted in evidence
Furthermore, the medical certificate, marked as Exhibit "H" during trial, should not be considered in
resolving this case for the reason that it was not admitted in evidence by the RTC in an order dated
September 23, 2004.
38

Thus, the CA erred in even considering this documentary evidence in its resolution of the case. It is a
basic rule that evidence which has not been admitted cannot be validly considered by the courts in
arriving at their judgments.
However, even if we consider the medical certificate in the disposition of this case, the medical
certificate has no probative value for being hearsay. It is a basic rule that evidence, whether oral or
documentary, is hearsay if its probative value is not based on the personal knowledge of the witness
but on the knowledge of another person who is not on the witness stand.
39

Hearsay evidence, whether objected to or not, cannot be given credence except in very unusual
circumstance that is not found in the present case. Furthermore, admissibility of evidence should not
be equated with weight of evidence. The admissibility of evidence depends on its relevance and
competence, while the weight of evidence pertains to evidence already admitted and its tendency to
convince and persuade. Thus, a particular item of evidence may be admissible, but its evidentiary
weight depends on judicial evaluation within the guidelines provided by the Rules of Court.
40

41

During trial, Dra. dela Llana testified:


"Q: Did your physician tell you, more or less, what was the reason why you were feeling that pain in
your left arm?
A: Well, I got a certificate from her and in that certificate, she stated that my condition was due to a
compression of the nerve, which supplied my left arm and my left hand.
Court: By the way, what is the name of this physician, Dra.?
Witness: Her name is Dra. Rosalinda Milla. She is a Rehabilitation Medicine Specialist. Atty.
Yusingco: You mentioned that this Dra. Rosalinda Milla made or issued a medical certificate. What
relation does this medical certificate, marked as Exhibit H have to do with that certificate, you said
was made by Dra. Milla?
Witness: This is the medical certificate that Dra. Milla made out for me.
Atty. Yusingco: Your Honor, this has been marked as Exhibit H.
Atty. Yusingco: What other medical services were done on you, Dra. dela Llana, as a result of that
feeling, that pain that you felt in your left arm?
Witness: Well, aside from the medications and physical therapy, a re-evaluation of my condition after
three months indicated that I needed surgery.
Atty. Yusingco: Did you undergo this surgery?
Witness: So, on October 19, I underwent surgery on my neck, on my spine.
Atty. Yusingco: And, what was the result of that surgical operation?
Witness: Well, the operation was to relieve the compression on my nerve, which did not resolve by
the extensive and prolonged physical therapy that I underwent for more than three
months." (emphasis ours)
42

Evidently, it was Dr. Milla who had personal knowledge of the contents of the medical certificate.
However, she was not presented to testify in court and was not even able to identify and affirm the
contents of the medical certificate. Furthermore, Rebecca was deprived of the opportunity to crossexamine Dr. Milla on the accuracy and veracity of her findings. We also point out in this respect that
the medical certificate nonetheless did not explain the chain of causation in fact between Joels
reckless driving and Dra. dela Llanas whiplash injury. It did not categorically state that the whiplash
injury was a result of the vehicular accident. A perusal of the medical certificate shows that it only
attested to her medical condition, i.e., that she was suffering from whiplash injury. However, the

medical certificate failed to substantially relate the vehicular accident to Dra. dela Llanas whiplash
injury. Rather, the medical certificate only chronicled
her medical history and physical examinations.
C.
Dra. dela Llanas opinion that
Joels negligence caused her
whiplash injury has no probative value
Interestingly, the present case is peculiar in the sense that Dra. dela Llana, as the plaintiff in this
quasi-delict case, was the lone physician-witness during trial. Significantly, she merely testified as an
ordinary witness before the trial court. Dra. dela Llana essentially claimed in her testimony that Joels
reckless driving caused her whiplash injury. Despite the fact that Dra. dela Llana is a physician and
even assuming that she is an expert in neurology, we cannot give weight to her opinion that Joels
reckless driving caused her whiplash injury without violating the rules on evidence. Under the Rules
of Court, there is a substantial difference between an ordinary witness and an expert witness. The
opinion of an ordinary witness may be received in evidence regarding:
(a) the identity of a person about whom he has adequate knowledge;
(b) a handwriting with which he has sufficient familiarity; and
(c) the mental sanity of a person with whom he is sufficiently acquainted. Furthermore, the witness
may also testify on his impressions of the emotion, behavior, condition or appearance of a person.

43

On the other hand, the opinion of an expert witness may be received in evidence on a matter
requiring special knowledge, skill, experience or training which he shown to possess.
44

However, courts do not immediately accord probative value to an admitted expert testimony, much
less to an unobjected ordinary testimony respecting special knowledge. The reason is that the
probative value of an expert testimony does not lie in a simple exposition of the expert's opinion.
Rather, its weight lies in the assistance that the expert witness may afford the courts by
demonstrating the facts which serve as a basis for his opinion and the reasons on which the logic of
his conclusions is founded.
45

In the present case, Dra. dela Llanas medical opinion cannot be given probative value for the
reason that she was not presented as an expert witness. As an ordinary witness, she was not
competent to testify on the nature, and the cause and effects of whiplash injury. Furthermore, we
emphasize that Dra. dela Llana, during trial, nonetheless did not provide a medical explanation on
the nature as well as the cause and effects of whiplash injury in her testimony.
The Supreme Court cannot take
judicial notice that vehicular
accidents cause whiplash injuries.
Indeed, a perusal of the pieces of evidence presented by the parties before the trial court shows
that Dra. Dela Llana did not present any testimonial or documentary evidence that directly
shows the causal relation between the vehicular accident and Dra. Dela Llanas injury. Her
claim that Joels negligence causes her whiplash injury was not established because of the

deficiency of the presented evidence during trial. We point out in this respect that courts cannot take
judicial notice that vehicular ccidents cause whiplash injuries. This proportion is not public
knowledge, or is capable of unquestionable demonstration, or ought to be known to judges because
of their judicial functions. We have no expertise in the field of medicine. Justices and judges are
only tasked to apply and interpret the law on the basis of the parties pieces of evidence and their
corresponding legal arguments.
46

In sum, Dra. dela Llana miserably failed to establish her cause by preponderance of evidence. While
we commiserate with her, our solemn duty to independently and impartially assess the merits of the
case binds us to rule against Dra. dela Llanas favor. Her claim, unsupported by prepondernace of
evidence, is merely a bare assertion and has no leg to stand on.
WHEREFORE, presmises considered, the assailed Decision dated February 11, 2008 and
Resolution dated March 31, 2008 of the Court of Appeals are hereby AFFIRMED and the petition is
hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice

JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ


Associate Justice

ESTELLA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
Associate Justice
ATT E S TATI O N
I attest that he conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
Chairperson
C E R TI F I C ATI O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division Chairpersons Attestation, I
certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case
was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO
Chief Justice

Footnotes
1

Dated May 20, 2008 and filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court; rollo pp. 8-30.

Id. at 39-55; penned by Associate Justice Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando, and concurred in


by Associate Justices Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente and Enrico A. Lanzanas.
2

Id. at 56-59.

Id. at 40.

Id. at 42-43.

Id. at 43.

RTC rollo, p. 117.

Rollo, p. 43.

Id. at 44-45.

10

RTC rollo, pp. 121-122.

11

Rollo, p. 45.

12

RTC rollo, p. 139.

13

Id. at 2-4.

14

Id. at 10-14.

15

Id. at 254.

16

Id. at 640.

17

Id. at 121-123.

18

Rollo, p. 47.

19

Id. at 47-49.

20

Id. at 49-50.

21

Dated April 19, 2007; id. at 36.

22

Id. at 31-37.

23

484 Phil. 330-349 (2004).

24

Supra note 2.

Citing GSIS v. Ibarra, 562 Phil. 924-938 (2009); Ijares v. Court of Appeals, 372 Phil. 9-21
(1999); and Loot v. GSIS, G.R. No. 86994, June 30, 1993, 224 SCRA 54-61.
25

26

Rollo, pp. 102-109.

Carvajal v. Luzon Development Bank and/or Ramirez, G.R. No. 186169, August 1, 2012,
678 SCRA 132, 140-141.
27

28

Vergara v. CA, 238 Phil. 566, 568 (1987).

29

Cangco v. Manila Railroad Co., 38 Phil. 775 (1918).

30

Syki v. Begasa, 460 Phil. 386 (2003).

The fifth paragraph of Article 2180 of the Civil Code provides: Employers shall be liable for
the damages caused by their employees and household helpers acting within the scope of
their assigned tasks, even though the former are not engaged in any business or industry.
31

32

Filcar Transport Services v. Espinas, G.R. No. 174156, June 20, 2012, 674 SCRA 118, 128.

33

Supra note 29.

Eulogio v. Spouses Apeles, G.R. No. 167884, January 20, 2009, 576 SCRA 562, 571-572,
citing Go v. Court of Appeals, 403 Phil. 883, 890-891 (2001).
34

Real v. Belo, 542 Phil. 111, 122 (2007), citing Domingo v. Robles, G.R. No. 153743, March
18, 2005, 453 SCRA 812, 818; and Ongpauco v. CA, G.R. No. 134039, December 21, 2004,
447 SCRA 395, 400.
35

36

Vda. de Bataclan v. Medina, 102 Phil. 186 (1957).

37

Gomez v. Gomez-Samson, 543 Phil. 468 (2007).

38

RTC rollo, p. 145.

39

RULES OF COURT, Rule 130, Section 36.

Benguet Exploration, Inc. v. CA, 404 Phil. 287 (2001), citing PNOC Shipping and Transport
Corp. v. CA, 358 Phil. 41, 60 (1998).
40

41

Tating v. Marcela, 548 Phil. 19, 28 (2007).

42

RTC rollo, pp. 277-281.

43

RULES OF COURT, Rule 130, Section 50.

44

RULES OF COURT, Rule 130, Section 49.

People of the Philippines v. Florendo, 68 Phil. 619, 624 (1939), citing United States v.
Kosel, 24 Phil 594 (1913).
45

46

RULES OF COURT, Rule 129, Section 2.

[G.R. No. 133445. February 27, 2003]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. DIONESIO SANTIAGO, JOHN
DOE, RICHARD DOE, WILLIAM DOE, and PETER DOE, accused.
DIONESIO SANTIAGO, accused-appellant.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Before this Court is an appeal from the decision [1] of the Regional Trial Court of
Cebu City, Branch 13, convicting accused-appellant Dionesio Santiago of double
murder, imposing on him the penalty of reclusion perpetua for each count and ordering
him to indemnify the heirs of the victims in the sum of P50,000.00.
The Charges
Accused-appellant was charged of double murder in one information which reads:
The undersigned Assistant Provincial Prosecutor accuses Dionesio Santiago, John Doe, Richard
Doe, William Doe and Peter Doe of the crime of Double Murder, committed as follows:
That on or about the 31st day of December, 1993, in the Municipality of Culaso, Province of
Antique, Republic of the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
above-named accused being then armed with a bolo and a knife, conspiring, confederating and
mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, evident premeditation, taking advantage of
superior strength and night time, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack,

assault assault (sic) and stab with said bolo and knife Egmedio Carigay and Myrna Samsona,
thereby inflicting fatal wounds on the different parts of their bodies which caused their
instantaneous (sic) death.
Contrary to the provisions of Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code.[2]
Although he was charged of two crimes in one Information, accused-appellant did
not file any motion to quash the same. During the arraignment, accused-appellant,
assisted by counsel, entered a plea of Not Guilty.[3]
The Antecedent Facts[4]
Sometime in June 1993, Igmedio Carigay and accused-appellant, both residents of
Barangay Batonan Sur, Culasi, Antique, had a quarrel over irrigation rights. They
hacked each other, and as a result, sustained injuries. However, they settled their
differences at the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGU) detachment in the
presence of CAGFU agent Pepito Calauod. On December 29, 1993, at about 7:00 p.m.,
six months after the altercation between Igmedio and accused-appellant took place,
Pepito passed by the house of accused-appellant and heard him swear: Indi matapos
ang bulan nga dya, patyon ko si Igmedio Carigay. (Before this month ends, Ill kill
Igmedio Carigay).
Two days later, or on December 31, 1993, at 5:30 p.m., Manuel Magsipoc, the
brother-in-law of Igmedio, was at the latters house to borrow a sack of palay. Manuel
stayed for about an hour, then left for his home. While he was about fifty meters from
the house of Igmedio, Manuel met a group of five men walking towards said house.
Four of the men wore masks. The fifth, whom Manuel recognized as accused-appellant,
did not. Accused-appellant was armed with a bolo in its scabbard. Manuel thought it odd
that the companions of accused-appellant were wearing masks. Nevertheless, Manuel
and accused-appellant greeted each other. Manuel continued on his way back home.
At around 8:00 p.m. that day, Bien Beloya was on his way to the house of Igmedio
and the latters live-in partner, Myrna Samsona, to partake of some food prepared by
them for New Years eve. Bien had carried a flashlight to illumine his way from his house
to the house of Igmedio which was located in a farmland about two kilometers away
from his house. Earlier, Igmedio and Myrna had invited Bien to spend New Years eve
with them and Bien had agreed. When Bien was about 20 meters from the house of the
couple, near the fence thereof, he heard Myrna crying and pleading: Please dont kill
us. Bien tarried by the fence, and heard accused-appellant saying: I will kill you
all! Again, Myrna pleaded, saying: Please dont kill us.Accused-appellant and Bien knew

each other very well. They used to fish at sea together. However, Bien had no idea why
accused-appellant would threaten to kill Myrna.
Momentarily, Bien saw Igmedio running out of their house followed by accusedappellant and four other men. A petromax lamp lighted the house of Igmedio. Accusedappellant and his companions were armed with knives and bolos. Igmedio tripped and
stumbled. Accused-appellant and his companions surrounded Igmedio and stabbed
him. Bien stepped forward and hid behind a banana plant, about six arms length from
where Igmedio was being stabbed. Bien was shocked by what he had just witnessed.
Accused-appellant and his companions sensed the presence of Bien. Accusedappellant then said: Who is that? Bien instinctively replied: I am Then and
simultaneously flashed his flashlight on accused-appellant and his companions. Bien
fled as fast as he could towards the direction of the CAFGU detachment in Batonan Sur
along the national highway. However, accused-appellant and his companions ran after
Bien and blocked his way. The latter detoured, ran upstream towards the river of
Tigbobolo and on towards his house.
At around 4:00 a.m. the next day, accused-appellant arrived in the house of Bien
and told the latter to go to San Jose and stay there. Accused-appellant warned Bien that
accused-appellant, and his companions will kill him if Bien refused to obey. Fearing for
his life, Bien did as told and fled posthaste to San Jose where he stayed for a week. As
his conscience bothered him, Bien decided to report the incident to Manuel, the brotherin-law of Igmedio.
When apprised on January 6, 1994 that Igmedio and Myrna were already dead,
CAFGU agent Pepito went to the house of the couple and saw them sprawled in the
yard of the house, their bodies already in a state of decomposition. He entered the
house of the couple and saw suman and cooked chicken. The police took pictures of
the cadavers of the victims.[5]
When Manuel learned of the deaths of Igmedio and Myrna, he rushed to the house
of the couple and saw their bodies with stab wounds. Their cadavers were already
emitting foul odor.
On January 26, 1994, Dr. Roselyn Escantilla Babayen-on conducted an autopsy on
the cadavers of Igmedio and Myrna. She prepared and signed two Medico-Legal
Reports containing her findings, thus:
NAME: EGMEDIO (sic) CARIGAY
xxxxx

FINDINGS:
The embalmed body was seen in a supine position with his upper and lower extremities slightly
flexed. Numerous maggots were seen all over the body and with a very foul odor. There is
softening of the tissues in some portion particularly at the right upper chest and the face. Some of
the bones of the face were prominent.
#1. Stab wound, left anterior chest, 2.0 cm. in lengths, 4.0 cm. in depth, 13.0 cm. from the nipple
line, at the level of the 3rd rib.
#2. Stab wound, neck, left lateral area, 3.0 cm. in length (sic), 2.0 cm. in depth.
#3. Stab wound, left shoulder, 2.0 cm. in length, 3.0 cm. from the shoulder joint, 1.5 cm. in
depth.
#4. Stab wound, left posterior chest, 2.1 cm. in length at the level of the 4th vertebra, midscapular line.
#5. Stab wound, lower posterior chest, mid-vertebral line, 2.0 cm. in length, at the level of the
12th thoracic vertebra.
#6. Stab wound, left lower chest, posterior area, 2.0 cm. in length, left paravertebral line.
#7. Stab wound, left lumbar area, 3.0 cm. in length, 3.0 cm. from the midline at the level of the
first lumbar vertebra.
#8. Stab wound, right lumbar area, 2.3 cm. in length, at the level of the second lumbar vertebra,
right paravertebral line.
#9. Stab wound, right lumbar area, 2.2 cm. in length, at the level of the third lumbar vertebra,
right paravertebral line.
xxxxx
CAUSE OF DEATH: Hypovolemic shock secondary to severe hemorrhage secondary
to multiple stab wounds. (Exhibit A)
xxx
NAME: MYRNA SAMSONA
xxxxx

FINDINGS:
The embalmed body was in supine position with her upper and lower extremities slightly flexed.
Numerous maggots were seen all over the body and with a very foul odor. There is softening of
the tissues in some portion particularly in the face.
#1. Stab wound, nape area, 2.0 cm. in length, 2.0 cm. in depth, at the level of the 7th cervical
vertebra.
#2. Stab wound, posterior chest, 2.0 in length, mid-vertebral area at the level of the 4th thoracic
vertebra.
#3. Stab wound, lower posterior chest, 2.0 cm. in length, mid-vertebral area at the level of the
12th thoracic vertebra.
#4. Stab wound, left lumbar area, 2.2 cm. in length, at the level of the first lumbar area.
#5. Stab wound, lumbar area, 2.1 cm. in length, mid-vertebral line at the level of the second
lumbar vertebra.
xxxxxxx
CAUSE OF DEATH: Hypovolemic shock secondary to severe hemorrhage secondary to multiple
stab wounds. (Exhibit B)
Dr. Babayen-on testified that the stab wounds may have possibly been caused by a
sharp object like knife or bolo or talibong. It was also possible that the victims were
killed by two or in more assailants. The victims had been dead more than 24 hours
before the autopsy.
The Defense and Evidence of Accused-Appellant
Accused-appellant denied the charge. He testified that on December 31, 1993, at
around 6:00 p.m., he arrived in the house of Arthur Alocilja which was located about a
kilometer away from his house. He was requested by Arthur to slaughter a dog for the
new years celebration. He was assisted by Eliza Cadapan in cooking the food for the
guests. Accused-appellant stayed at the house of Arthur for about five hours, and at
around 11:00 p.m. he and Eliza went to see a video show at a nearby house owned by
Arthurs mother. The testimony of accused-appellant was corroborated by Arthur and
Eliza.
The Verdict of the Trial Court

On November 26, 1994, the trial court rendered a decision convicting accusedappellant of double murder, the decretal portion of which reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing facts and circumstances, for the death of Igmedio
Carigay and Myrna Samsona, this Court finds Dionisio Santiago, GUILTY beyond reasonable
doubt, for the crime of Double Murder and hereby sentences him to suffer the penalty of
RECLUSION PERPETUA for the death of Igmedio Carigay, likewise for him to suffer another
penalty of Reclusion Perpetua for the death of Myrna Samsona, and to indemnify the heirs of
victims Igmedio Carigay and Myrna Samsona in the amount of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS
(P50,000.00), Philippine Currency for each victims.[6]
Assignment of Errors
Accused-appellant interposed an appeal contending that:
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN FINDING THE ACCUSED GUILTY BEYOND
REASONABLE DOUBT OF THE CRIME OF MURDER AS DEFINED AND PENALIZED
UNDER ARTICLE 248 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE AS AMENDED BY RA 7659.
The Verdict of this Court
Accused-appellant asserts that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt for the deaths of Igmedio and Myrna. He contends that the collective
testimonies of Pepito and Manuel are incredible and hence, barren of probative weight.
Accused-appellant argues that if indeed he was bent on killing Igmedio and Myrna, for
sure, he should have worn a mask to conceal his identity. It was sheer foolhardiness
that he did not. Accused-appellant further states that if Manuel met him and four other
male persons, four of whom wore masks and all of whom were armed with knives and
bolos, on his way to the house of Igmedio and Myrna, it is incredible that Manuel did not
even try to prevent accused-appellant and his companions from going to the house of
the victims and avert any physical harm to them. Equally barren of probative weight,
accused-appellant insists, is the testimony of Bien that at a distance of 20 meters, he
could hear Myrna pleading for mercy and accused-appellant threatening to kill the
couple. Accused-appellant avers that he cannot be convicted of murder for the death of
Myrna in view of the failure of the prosecution to present an eyewitness to the crime. He
insists that it was impossible for Bien to have recognized the voice of accused-appellant
because Bien was 20 meters away from the house of Igmedio. Even if Myrna and
accused-appellant were shouting, the voice of accused-appellant would be different
from his ordinary voice. In any event, accused-appellant contends, the prosecution
failed to prove that he abused his superior strength in killing Igmedio and that he killed
Myrna with treachery.

The contention of accused-appellant does not persuade the Court. At the heart of
accused-appellants submission is the credibility of Pepito, Manuel and Bien and the
probative weight of their collective testimonies. In this case, the trial court gave
credence and full probative weight to the collective testimonies of Pepito, Bien and
Manuel, The Court has consistently held that the findings of facts of the trial court, its
calibration of the collective testimonies of witnesses and probative weight thereof and its
conclusions culled from said findings are accorded by this Court great respect, if not
conclusive effect, because of the unique advantage of the trial court in observing and
monitoring at close range, the conduct, deportment and demeanor of the witnesses as
they testify before the trial court. [7] This principle does not apply if the trial court ignored,
misunderstood or misconstrued cogent facts and circumstances of substance which, if
considered, will unravel the truth and alter the outcome of the case. The Court has
minutiosly examined the records and the evidence adduced by the parties and is
convinced that the findings and conclusions of the trial court on the criminal culpability
of accused-appellant for the death of the victims are buttressed by said evidence.
It bears stressing that for the death of Igmedio, the prosecution presented Bien
Beloya, an eyewitness to the crime. He narrated how accused-appellant and his four
companions ganged up on the helpless Igmedio and stabbed him:
Q Now Mr. Witness, when Dionesio Santiago exclaimed that he would kill them
all and Myrna Samsona Carigay again pleaded to spare their lives, what
then happened?
A Egmidio (sic) Carigay went out of the door going outside.
Q Now, when Egmidio (sic) Carigay went out of his house, of his door going
outside, what was he doing, walking or running?
A He was running outside.
Q Aside from Egmidio Carigay whom you said you saw running outside of his
house, were there any other person also going outside of the house?
A Yes, sir, they followed him.
Q When you said, they, whom are you referring to?
A Dionesio Santiago and his group.
Q How many were they?

A There were four of them.


Q Aside from Dionesio Santiago, there were four (4) companions of his?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, this was nighttime, 8:00, how could you be certain or how
could you identify Dionesio Santiago as among the group who ran after
Egmidio Carigay?
A There was a bright light.
Q What kind of light was provided in that house?
A A petromax.
Q Now, what have you noticed in the person of Dionesio Santiago and his four
(4) companions?
A They were carrying knife and bolo.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, you said, Egmidio Carigay ran going out of his house. Was
he able to completely ran (sic) away from his house?
A No, sir.
Q Why, what happened to him?
A He stumbled to the ground.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, while Egmidio Carigay fell, stumbled to the ground, what
then did these Dionesio Santiago and his four (4) other companions do?
A They surrounded him.
Q After Dionesio Santiago and his four (4) companions surrounded Egmidio
Carigay when he stumbled, what did these Dionesio Santiago and his four
(4) other companions do to Egmidio Carigay?
A They stabbed him.

Q Now, Mr. Witness, you said, they stabbed him, stabbed Egmidio Carigay. Do
you want to impress upon this Honorable Court that this Dionesio Santiago
together with his four (4) other companions helped in stabbing Egmidio
Carigay, the five of them helped in stabbing Egmidio Carigay?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, considering that you were about twenty (20) meters away
from the house of Egmidio Carigay and when Egmidio Carigay ran out of
the house, when he stumbled, how far away then was Egmidio Carigay
from you when he stumbled and when he was surrounded and attacked by
these five (5) together with Dionesio Santiago?
A About six (6) arms length.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, seeing all these things, this stabbing of Egmidio Carigay,
the stabbing by Dionesio Santiago together with his four (4) companions of
Egmidio Carigay, what then did you do?
A I hid myself near a banana plant.
Q For how long have you stayed or hidden yourself in that banana plant?
A It did not take long.
Q Thereafter, what then did you do?
A I took one (1) step.
Q Going towards what direction?
A I peeped.
Q What happened then?
A I saw them.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, when you peeped and saw them, who is them you are
referring to?
A Dionesio Santiago and his group.

Q Now, Mr. Witness, thereafter, when you saw these Dionesio Santiago and his
group, what again did you do?
A He said, Who is that?
Q Who said that?
A Dionesio Santiago.
Q To whom was it directed when he asked, Who is that?
A I, sir.
Q What then did you do when this question was directed to you, asking who is
that?
A I answered, I am Bien, simultaneously flashing my flashlight.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, you said, you hid yourself. Why then did you identify
yourself when they asked, Who is that?
A I was shocked.
Q Now, you said, you simultaneously, when answering your name, you flashed
your flashlight at them. What then did these five (5) do, Dionesio Santiago
and his group when you flashed your flashlight at them?
A I fled because they seem to run after me.[8]
The trial court relied on the testimony of Bien and the physical evidence on record
and not on the testimony of Manuel in finding accused-appellant guilty beyond
reasonable doubt for the killing of Igmedio:
Although his (Beloyas) testimony on the identity of Dionesio Santiago was uncorroborated, this
Court believes that the same is sufficient. He had ample opportunity to unmistakably recognize
the herein accused on the night of the incident because Beloya and the accused always see each
other, the place was illuminated by a bright light coming from the petromax more so when
Beloya flashlighted them, he saw and clearly identified Dionesio Santiago but his four armed
companions could not be identified as they were not familiar to Beloya.[9]
xxx

From the autopsy report, there is no doubt that the plurality of assassins is in existence because
the evident proof that the commission of the crime was participated by more than one person is
the numerous wounds that differentiate from each other suffered by the victims indicate plurality
of the assailants. The testimony of Bien Beloya in this regard is supported by the autopsy report
of the doctor.[10]
This Court is thus convinced that accused-appellant is criminally liable for the death
of Igmedio.
The trial court declared that accused-appellant and his four companions abused
their superior strength when they killed Igmedio:
In order for abuse of superior strength to be considered as qualifying circumstance, the testimony
of Bien Beloya, an eyewitness must be given full credit. He testified on the actual nature and
mode of the attack employed on the hapless victim Igmedio Carigay, much less to show that the
said circumstance was deliberately adopted to ensure the infliction of the fatal wounds.
Furthermore, not to discount the strength of the testimony of Bien Beloya that he saw the
respective or joint participation of accused Dionesio Santiago and his four (4) armed companions
in assaulting the victim, much less that they took advantage of their superior strength. The
testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution have shown that the accused cooperated in such a
way as to secure advantage from their superiority in number (People vs. Gupo y Gayeta, G.R.
75814, 24 September 1990) vis-a-vis their victim. Abuse of superior strength likewise qualify the
crime to Murder since it was clearly shown that there was deliberate intent to take advantage of
it. (People vs. Sazon, G.R. 89684, 18 September 1990).[11]
The Court agrees with the trial court. Accused-appellant and his companions were
armed with knives and bolos. They stabbed the victim even as he stumbled and fell to
the ground. Accused-appellant and his companions took advantage of their numerical
superiority and their knives and bolos in killing the victim. In a case involving a similar
factual backdrop, this Court held that:
Nevertheless, it is clear that the crime was attended by the presence of an aggravating
circumstance. It was committed with apparent abuse of superior strength. The victim was clearly
overwhelmed by the combined efforts of all three (3) accused who do not only enjoy superiority
in number, but also of weapons. The records reveal that the defenseless victim was held back by
accused Torres, while co-accused Chua and Macaliag took turns in stabbing him. There was
obviously abuse of superior strength since all three (3) accused acted in concert to accomplish
their felonious designs against the unarmed victim. They purposely took advantage of their
superior number and combined strength and force which was grossly out of proportion to
whatever means of defense was available to the victim.[12]

The Court likewise agrees that treachery was not attendant in the commission of the
crime. This is so because Bien did not see what occurred before Igmedio fled from his
house with accused-appellant and his companions in hot pursuit. In the absence of
conclusive proof on the manner in which the aggression against Igmedio was
commenced, treachery cannot be appreciated as a modifying circumstance. [13] It bears
stressing that treachery cannot be presumed. It must be proved with the same quantum
of evidence as the crime itself. The prosecution failed to discharge its burden.
While it may be true that Igmedio was helpless and defenseless when he was
stabbed to death, however, there is no evidence on record showing that at the time
accused-appellant and his companions attacked or assaulted the victim in his house,
they did so with treachery. In People vs. Caete,[14] this Court held that:
In this connection it should be noted that the original assault was begun by a direct frontal attack
and there was momentary struggle between the accused and the deceased before the first knife
wound was inflicted on the thigh of the deceased; and it was at this point that the deceased turned
to flee. Moreover, pursuit by the accused followed immediately, after the deceased started to run,
and the assault was practically continuous from the beginning to the end. The fall of the deceased
in the course of his flight must be considered to have been in the nature of a mere accident which
did not materially change the conditions of the struggle. In every fight it is to be presumed that
each contending party will take advantage of any purely accident development that may give him
an advantage over his opponent in the course of the contest. It follows that alevosia cannot be
predicated of this homicide from the mere fact that the accused overtook and slew the deceased
while the latter was endeavoring to rise from the ground.[15]
With respect to the killing of Myrna, it is irrefragable that the prosecution failed to
adduce direct evidence that accused-appellant killed her. However, direct evidence is
not a conditionsine qua non to prove the guilt of accused-appellant beyond reasonable
doubt for said crimes.
In the absence of direct evidence, the prosecution may resort to adducing
circumstantial evidence to discharge its burden. For circumstantial evidence to be
sufficient as proof of the guilt of an accused, the prosecution is must prove the
confluence of the following requisites:
(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.[16]

No general rule can be laid down as to the number of circumstances that must be
adduced in evidence to prove the guilt of the accused. What is paramount is that all the
circumstances proved must be consistent with each other, consistent with the
hypothesis that the accused is guilty and at the same time inconsistent with the
hypothesis that he is innocent and with every rational hypothesis except that of guilt.
The facts and circumstances must be such as are absolutely incompatible upon any
reasonable hypothesis with the innocence of the accused and incapable of explanation
upon any reasonable hypothesis other that of the guilt of the accused. [17] Circumstantial
evidence is sufficient as basis for conviction if it constitutes an unbroken chain leading
to one fair and reasonable conclusion proving that accused-appellant is the author of
the crimes charge, to the exclusion of all others. [18] In the present case, the prosecution
adduced sufficient circumstantial evidence to show that accused-appellant killed Myrna.
As correctly stated by the trial court in its decision:
As to the death of Myrna Samsona, there is no doubt that the herein accused together with the
four others which were not identified are responsible and have directly participated in the
commission of the crime. The prosecutions witnesses testified that Dionesio Santiago together
with his companions killed Igmedio Carigay. Likewise prior to that incident, they likewise killed
Myrna Samsona. This is evident from the testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution.
Adduced evidences proved beyond doubt that Myrna Samsona died as a result of multiple stab
wounds caused by sharp edge objects, the same instruments used in the killing of Dionesio
Santiago.
Admittedly, as far as the death of Myrna Samsona the prosecution is wanting of an eye witness to
the incident in question, however, during the time the killing of Myrna Samsona was executed
Bien Beloya overheard the moaning of a woman and pleading that they, referring to Igmedio and
herself not to be killed. Bien Beloya testified that she (sic) is familiar of (sic) the voice of Myrna
Samsona and likewise she (sic) is familiar of (sic) the voice of Dionesio Santiago when the latter
said to the two (2) victims, I will kill you all (TSN, November 22, 1994 at p. 11). In other words,
as far as the death of Myrna Samsona, the prosecution relied heavily on the evidence that
established the identity and culpability of the herein accused when Bien Beloya testified that he
heard Myrna Samsona pleading and that of the voice of Dionesio Santiago who was then
determined to kill both victims in this case and thereafter he affirmed that he saw Dionesio
Santiago came out of the house together with his four (4) companions and assaulting Igmedio
Carigay. The testimony of Bien Beloya as far as the death of Myrna Samsona although derived
from other source other than the eye witness account, yet, the act which is charged against
Dionesio Santiago and his companions caused to prove a fact or series of facts which is the facts
in issue, which as proof, it tend by inferences to establish the commission of the crime. The
circumstances relied by the prosecution formed an unbroken chain to prove the culpability of
accused Dionesio Santiago and his four other companions.[19]

Accused-appellants submission that Bien could have mistaken the voice of


accused-appellant for that of the felon who killed Myrna because the voice of one
shouting is different from that made in a normal or ordinary tone does not persuade. In
the first place, Bien never claimed when he testified that when accused-appellant said: I
will kill you all, the latter was shouting:
Q Now, Mr. Witness, were you able to get inside the house of Egmidio Carigay
that evening?
A Not yet, sir.
Q Why, Mr. Witness?
A Because I observed outside.
Q What have you observed then after you stayed there around the premises?
A I overheard a woman talking, sir.
Q What was that woman talking about?
A I heard her saying that, Please dont kill us.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, could you tell this Honorable Court if you could recognize
who is the owner of that voice pleading that they should not be killed?
A Yes, sir.
Q Whose voice was that?
A Myrna Carigay.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, after hearing those words of Myrna Carigay, pleading that
they should not be killed, what then did you do?
A I just observed and listened.
Q Now, Mr. Witness, how far away were you in that listening position you have
had from the house where you heard the voice of Myrna Carigay?
COURT INTERPRETER:

The witness here is pointing the distance from where he is seated to the Office
of the Provincial Fiscal, about twenty (20) meters away, more or less.
PROSECUTOR ORCAJADA:
Q After that, Mr. Witness, what happened next?
A And then, I heard the voice of a man.
Q What was that man saying?
A I will kill you all.
Q Could you recognize that voice?
A Yes, sir.
Q Who owns that voice telling that he would kill them all?
A Dionesio Santiago.
Q If you say, Dionesio Santiago, do you refer to Dionesio Santiago, the accused
herein whom you identified awhile ago?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, after hearing Dionesio Santiago exclaimed that he will kill them all, what
then transpired next?
A And then, the voice again of that woman followed that. Please dont kill us.
Q Could you tell this Honorable Court who owns that voice of a woman?
A Myrna Carigay.[20]
Bien could not have mistaken accused-appellants voice considering that both had
known each other for a long time:
Q For how long have you known this Dionesio Santiago?
A It has been a long time since we meet each other frequently.

Q If this Dionesio Santiago is inside the courtroom, would you kindly please
point at him?
A Yes, sir.
Q Please point at him.
COURT INTERPRETER:
The witness at this juncture is pointing to a man seated on the public bench
who stood up and gave his name as Dionesio Santiago. [21]
From December 8 up to December 31, 1993, the two always met each other
because they used to fish at sea:
Q From December 8, 1993 to December 31, 1993, did you meet Dionesio
Santiago?
A Yes, sir.
Q From December 8, how many times?
A We always see other because we used to fish at sea.[22]
Biens identification of accused-appellant as the assailant through his voice cannot
be disparaged. This Court held in People vs. Reynaldo[23] that identification by the voice
of a person is an acceptable means of identification where it has been established that
the witness and the accused had known each other for a number of years:
It is not necessary that the witnesss knowledge of the fact to which he testifies should have been
obtained in any particular manner, and he may testify to what he hears, feels, tastes, smells, or
sees.
Thus, identification by the sound of the voice of the person identified has been held sufficient,
and it is an acceptable means of identification where it is established that the witness and the
accused had known each other personally and closely for a number of years. Here, the
complainant testified that she had known appellant for seven years prior to the incident because
he lived only a house away from theirs. Appellant himself admitted having known the
complainant by name in the three to four years that he had stayed in Barangay Bambanan. As
observed by the trial court, the complainant and appellant were familiar with each other since
they lived together in the same barangay [and] x x x the house of the complainant is barely ten
arms length away from the house where the accused lived. Indeed, people in rural communities

generallly know each other both by face and by name, and may be expected to know each others
distinct and particular features and characteristics.[24]
Accused-appellant takes exception to the ruling of the trial court that the killing of
Myrna was qualified by abuse of superior strength. The prosecution, accused-appellant
argues, failed to adduce proof beyond reasonable doubt that abuse of superior strength
qualified the crime. The trial court, for its part, ruled that accused-appellant who was
armed with deadly weapon killed Myrna, a woman, with abuse of superior strength:
The prosecution has successfully proved that advantage of superior strength using excessive
force out of proportion to the means of defense available to the person attacked and purposely
used in quality between the numbers, sizes and strength of the antagonist and that his notorious
advantages were purposely sought for or used by the accused to achieve his end (PP. vs. Carpio,
et. al., G.R. 82815-16, 31 October 1990) Not to mention that one of the victims is a woman and
under the principle of abuse of superior strength, such fact cannot be negated that superior
strength can be appreciated against the accused in this case.[25]
The Court agrees with the trial court. Accused-appellant stabbed Myrna with a knife
even as she pleaded for her life. In People vs. Bohol[26] this Court held that:
From the evidence, the manner in which accused-appellant killed the victim showed abuse of
superior strength, not treachery. An attack made by a man with a deadly weapon upon an
unarmed and defenseless woman constitutes abuse of that superiority which his sex and the
weapon used in the act afforded him, and from which the woman was unable to defend herself.[27]
In the light of the evidence on record, accused-appellant is guilty of murder, defined
in Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code, and not of homicide, for the deaths of Igmedio
and Myrna.
The prosecution proved that the aggravating circumstance of dwelling was
attendant in the commission of both crimes. However, dwelling was not alleged in the
Information as an aggravating circumstance as required by Section 8, Rule 110 of the
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure, which reads:
Sec. 8. Designation of the offense. - The complaint or information shall state the designation of
the offense given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the offense and specify its
qualifying and aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of the offense, reference
shall be made to the section or subsection of the statute punishing it.[28]
Although the crime was committed before the effectivity of said rule, the latter is
applied retroactively in the present case because it is more favorable to the accused.

[29]

Even if dwelling is proven but if it is not alleged in the information, it cannot aggravate
the penalty for the crime.
Penalties on Accused-Appellant
The crimes for which accused-appellant is charged were committed before Republic
Act 7659[30] took effect. Prior to its amendment by said law, Article 248 of the Revised
Penal Code, imposed the penalty of reclusion temporal to death for the offense of
murder. Since no aggravating or mitigating circumstance was attendant in the
commission of the crimes, accused-appellant should be meted the medium period of the
imposable penalty which is reclusion perpetua for each count of murder.
Civil Liability of Accused-Appellant
The trial court awarded the amounts of P50,000.00 each, or a total of P100,000.00
to the heirs of the victims as civil indemnity in both crimes. However, it did not award
moral damages and exemplary damages to the heirs. The Court shall modify the
awards.
Since the penalty imposed on accused-appellant is reclusion perpetua for each the
two crimes, the heirs of the victims are respectively entitled to moral damages in the
amount of P50,000.00, conformably with current jurisprudence. The heirs of each victim
are also entitled to exemplary damages in the amount of P25,000.00, the prosecution
having proved that dwelling aggravated the crimes. Article 2230 of the New Civil Code
provides that if an aggravating circumstance is attendant in the commission of a felony,
an award for exemplary damages is called for. Although dwelling was not appreciated
against accused-appellant because of the retroactive application of Section 8, Rule 110
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, however, the right of, the heirs to
exemplary damages which had already become vested before the effectivity of said
rules and hence, should not be prejudiced by such retroactive application. [31]
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Antique, Branch 13 is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS. Accused-appellant
Dionesio Santiago is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Murder (two counts)
under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code. There being no modifying circumstances
in the commission of the felonies, this Court hereby metes on him the penalty
of RECLUSION PERPETUA for each count. Said accused-appellant is likewise ordered
to pay the heirs of the victim Igmedio Carigay the amount of P50,000.00 as civil
indemnity; the amount of P50,000.00 as moral damages and the amount of P25,000.00
as exemplary damages. He is also ordered to pay the said amounts to the heirs of the
victim Myrna Carigay.

Costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.
Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing and Austria-Martinez, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 168168

September 14, 2005

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee,


vs.
EDGARDO DIMAANO, Appellant.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
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 which read as follows:
Criminal Case No. 96-125
That sometime in the year 1993 in the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila, Philippines and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means of force and
intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal knowledge of the
undersigned complainant Maricar Dimaano y Victoria, who is his own daughter, a minor 10 years of
age, against her will and consent.
CONTRARY TO LAW.1
Criminal Case No. 96-150
That on or about the 29th day of December 1995, in the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, by means
of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have carnal
knowledge of the undersigned complainant Maricar Dimaano y Victoria, who is his own daughter, a
minor 12 years of age, against her will and consent.
CONTRARY TO LAW.2
Criminal Case No. 96-151

That on or about the 1st day of January 1996, in the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, try and
attempt to rape one Maricar Dimaano y Victoria, thus 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.
CONTRARY TO LAW.3
Appellant pleaded not guilty to the charges.4 Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued.
Complainant was born on August 26, 1983, and was 10 years old when she was first sexually
abused in the morning of September 1993. While inside their house in Sucat, Paraaque, appellant
entered her room and laid down beside her. He removed her clothes and asked her to lie face down
then inserted his penis into her anus. Complainant cried and felt so much pain, but she kept the
incident to herself as her father might hurt her.5
A few days later, appellant again ravished her. After removing his clothes, he asked her to lie on her
side facing him and to place her thigh over his. While in that position, appellant inserted his penis
into her vagina which caused tremendous pain.6 As in the first incident, complainant kept the ordeal
to herself. It was only in November 1995 that she confided the sexual abuses to her mother.
On December 29, 1995, appellant again assaulted her daughter. While leaning on the kitchen sink,
he raised her t-shirt, fondled and kissed her breasts. He then removed their shorts, fondled her
vagina and inserted his penis, but when her brother Edwin went out of his room, appellant
immediately asked her to dress up.7
The last sexual assault happened in the afternoon of January 1, 1996. Appellant laid complainant
down on the sofa then placed himself on top of her and made pumping motion even with their shorts
on. Appellant stopped only when he heard the arrival of his wife.8
On January 3, 1996, complainant and her mother visited a relative in Cainta, Rizal, who upon
learning of the abuses done by the appellant, advised them to go to Camp Crame where they filed a
complaint.9 The Medico-Legal Officer at the PNP Crime Laboratory examined complainant and found
her to have suffered deep healed hymenal lacerations and was in a non-virgin state. 10
Appellant denied the accusations against him. He testified that he married Maria Loreto V. Dimaano
on December 25, 1976 and begot three children with her, namely, Edwin, Eric, and Maricar. He
alleged that he worked in several companies abroad11 but admitted that he was in the Philippines in
September 1993. He contended though that he could not have raped complainant because he was
always in the office from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. waiting to be dispatched to another assignment
overseas.12
He claimed it was impossible for him to rape his daughter on December 29, 1995 or January 1, 1996
because there were other people in the house. He argued that had he raped complainant, then she
would not have accompanied him to the Paraaque Police Station and Barangay Hall of San Antonio
to apply for police clearance and barangay I.D., and to Uniwide Shopping Center at Sucat,
Paraaque, where they applied for membership at the Video City Club. 13 He also maintained that the
fact that his daughter was in a non-virgin state did not conclusively prove that he was responsible for
it because it is also possible that his daughter had sexual intercourse with another man her age. 14

The trial court found the testimony of complainant to be spontaneous and credible. She narrated the
obscene details of her harrowing experience which no girl of tender age would have known unless
she herself had experienced it. It found the delay in reporting the rape understandable due to the
fear complainant had of her father who had moral ascendancy over her. Also, the quarrel between
complainant's parents was not sufficient motive for the wife to lodge a serious charge of rape against
appellant. It disregarded the Compromise Agreement and the Salaysay sa Pag-uurong 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. The dispositive portion of
the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the accused Edgardo Dimaano is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crimes of rape (2 counts) and the crime of attempted rape. For the rape committed in September
1993, he is sentenced to a penalty of reclusion perpetua. For the rape on December 29, 1995, he is
imposed the supreme penalty of death. And for the crime of attempted rape, applying the
Indeterminate Sentence Law (Act No. 4103 as amended), he is sentenced to a penalty of 4 years
and 2 months of prision correccional medium to 10 years and 1 day to 12 years of prision
mayor maximum. He is ordered to indemnify the victim the amount of P50,000.00 and to pay
exemplary damages in the amount of P50,000.00.
SO ORDERED.15
The Court of Appeals affirmed with modifications the decision of the trial court, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated 31 May 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of
Paraaque City, Branch 257 convicting accused-appellant Edgardo Dimaano of the crime of rape is
AFFIRMED with the following MODIFICATIONS:
In Criminal Case No. 96-125, the accused-appellant EDGARDO DIMAANO as found guilty of rape
under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code and sentenced to a penalty of reclusion perpetua is
also ordered to pay the victim MARICAR DIMAANO Php50,000.00 as civil indemnity; Php50,000.00
as moral damages and Php25,0000.00 as exemplary damages.
In Criminal Case No. 96-150, the accused-appellant EDGARDO DIMAANO, as found guilty of
qualified rape under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of Republic
Act 7659, and sentenced to death penalty, is also ordered to pay the victim MARICAR DIMAANO
Php75,000.00 as civil indemnity; Php75,000.00 as moral damages and Php25,000.00 as exemplary
damages.
In Criminal Case No. 96-151, the accused-appellant EDGARDO DIMAANO as found guilty of
attempted rape under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 11 of Republic
Act 7659, is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty of 4 years, 2 months and 1 day to 6 years
of prision correccional as minimum to 8 years and 1 day to 10 years of prision mayor as maximum.
Accused-appellant is also ordered to pay the victim MARICAR DIMAANO Php30,000.00 as civil
indemnity, Php25,000.00 as moral damages, and Php10,000.00 as exemplary damages.
In accordance with Sec. 13, Rule 124 of the Amended Rules to Govern Review of Death Penalty
Cases (A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC, effective 15 October 2004), this case is CERTIFIED to the Supreme
Court for review.
Let the entire record of this case be elevated to the Supreme Court.

SO ORDERED.16
In his Brief, appellant raises the following issues:
I. WHETHER OR NOT THE EVIDENCE ADDUCED BY THE PROSECUTION HAS
OVERCOME THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE OF THE ACCUSED.
II. WHETHER OR NOR THE VOLUNTARY AND DUE EXECUTION OF THE AFFIDAVIT OF
DESISTANCE BY THE PRIVATE COMPLAINANT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DULY
CONSIDERED AS A FACTOR WHICH PUT TO DOUBT THE REASONS BEHIND THE
FILING OF THE CRIMINAL CHARGES OF RAPE AGAINST HEREIN ACCUSED.17
Appellant contends that if complainant's accusations were true, then she could have reported them
to the authorities when she accompanied him to Paraaque Police Station and the Barangay Hall of
San Antonio or to their relatives when she had the opportunity to do so. He also argues that had the
trial court considered the Compromise Agreement and Sinumpaang Salaysay ng Pag-uurong ng
Sumbong, it would have known that complainant was only pressured by her mother into filing the
complaint.
We are not persuaded.
This credibility given by the trial court to the rape victim is an important aspect of evidence which
appellate courts can rely on because of its unique opportunity to observe the witnesses, particularly
their demeanor, conduct and attitude during direct and cross-examination by counsel. 18 Absent any
showing that the trial judge overlooked, misunderstood, or misapplied some facts or circumstances
of weight which would affect the result of the case, his assessment of credibility deserves the
appellate court's highest respect.19
It is likewise well established that the testimony of a rape victim is generally given full weight and
credit, more so if she is a minor. The revelation of an innocent child whose chastity has been abused
deserves full credit, as her willingness to undergo the trouble and the humiliation of a public trial is
an eloquent testament to the truth of her complaint. In so testifying, she could only have been
impelled to tell the truth, especially in the absence of proof of ill motive.20
In the case at bar, the trial court and the Court of Appeals gave credence to the testimony of the
complainant who was only 12 years old when she narrated to the court the violations of her person
as follows:
For rape committed in September 1993:
ATTY. AMBROSIO:
When was the first time that he committed sexual assault upon you?
A: September 1993.
COURT:
No specific date?
A: I cannot remember, Maam.

ATTY. AMBROSIO:
Can you remember how old were you at that time?
A: 10 years old, Maam.
Q: So, after he removed your T-shirt, bra and pan(t)y and shorts, what happened next, if anything
happened?
A: He asked me to lie face down. Pinadapa po niya ako.
Q: After he asked you to lie face down, what happened next?
RECORD: The witness is crying.
A: He inserted in my anus ' ipinasok niya ang titi niya sa puwet ko.
Q: Did you tell anybody about what happened to you?
A: No, Maam.
Q: Why not?
A: Because I was afraid of my father.
Q: Why are you afraid of your father?
A: Because he might hurt me.
Q: After that incident in September 1993, do you recall any other incident that occurred?
A: There is, Maam.
Q: When was it?
A: After a few days after the first incident.
Q: After he entered your room, what happened next?
A: He laid beside me and he removed my clothes.
Q: What did your father do with the clothes he was wearing?
A: He removed his clothes.
Q: After removing his clothes, what happened next, if any?
A: We were lying in my bed and he asked me to lie on my side ' pinatagilid niya ako.

Q: After he asked you to lie down on your side, what happened next, if any?
A: He asked me to raise my right leg and placed it on his side because he was then lying on his side.
Q: After he asked you to place your right thigh over his left thigh, what happened next, if any?
A: He inserted his penis into my organ.21
For rape committed on December 29, 1995:
Q: On December 29, 1995, do you remember of any unusual incident that happened?
A: There was, Maam.
Q: What is that incident?
A: I was raped by my father on that day.
Q: Where were you on that day when you said he raped you?
A: I was then at the kitchen of our house.
Q: What were you doing at the kitchen at that time?
A: I was then sitting at our dining set.
Q: What about your father, what he doing?
A: He was cooking.
Q: What happened while sitting at the dining set, if any?
A: He told me to approach him.
Q: After you approached him, what happened next?
A: I was leaning then at the kitchen sink and he asked me to embrace him.
Q: What happened after you embraced him?
A: After that, he raised my T-shirt.
Q: After raising your T-shirt, what happened next?
A: He held my breast.
Q: After that, what happened next?
A: He kept kissing my breast.

Q: How many times did he kiss your breast?


A: Many times.
Q: What happened next after he kissed you breast?
A: He put my shorts down.
Q: After putting your shorts down, what happened next, if any?
A: He also put down my panty.
Q: After putting down your panty, what happened next, if any?
A: He held my organ.
ATTY. MALLARES:
At this juncture, Your Honor, may we request witness to be more specific with respect to organ.
ATTY. AMBROSIO:
When you say organ', what do you mean?
A: Pekpek.
COURT: Proceed.
ANSWER:
After he held my vagina, he also put down his shorts and brief.
Q: After putting down his shorts and brief, what happened next?
A: He inserted his penis into my vagina.22
For Attempted rape committed on January 1, 1996:
Q: Do you recall of any incident that happened on Jan 1, 199[6] 3:00 to 4:00 P.M.?
A: We were in our sala on the sofa.
Q: When you say 'we', who are those you are referring to?
A: Me and my father.
Q: While you and your father were in the living room and on the sofa, what happened?
A: While we were on the sofa, my father was then raising my T-shirt and kissing my breast.

Q: What were you wearing at that time?


A: Shorts, T-shirt, bra and panty.
Q: What did your father do with your shorts, T-shirt and bra?
A: He raised them.
Q: What about your father, how was he dressed at that time?
A: Shorts and T-shirt.
Q: After raising your bra and T-shirt, what happened next?
A: While he was kissing my breast, we were already lying on the sofa, then he went on top of me.
Q: After he went on top of you, what happened next, if any?
A: He was forcing to insert his penis while we were still wearing shorts.
Q: So, you mean to say, you were still wearing shorts at that time?
A: Yes, Maam.
Q: What happened next when he was forcing to push his penis into your vagina?
A: It did not push through because my mother suddenly arrived. 23
The trial court believed the complainant and held that:
The testimony of Maricar of her ignominious experience contains all the indicia of truth. It is
spontaneous, direct and clear. It is vivid and complete with details. Her testimony is truthful and
convincing. Her credibility is beyond question.
The Court believes that at her tender age, Maricar could not make public the offense, undergo the
troubles and humiliation of public trial and endure the ordeal of testifying to all its gory details if she
has not in fact been raped. The Court believes that a girl who is only twelve (12) years old would not
ordinarily file a rape complaint against anybody, much less her own father, if it is not true. 24
We have painstakingly reviewed the evidence on record and found no cogent reason to disturb the
findings of the trial court and the appellate court.
Contrary to appellant's assertion, complainant's credibility was not diminished by her failure to report
the sexual abuses to the authorities and her relatives despite opportunities to do so. Delay in
reporting the rape incidents, especially in the face of threats of physical violence, cannot be taken
against the victim, more so when the lecherous attacker is her own father. Strong apprehensions
brought about by fear, stress, or anxiety can easily put the offended party to doubt or even distrust
what should otherwise be a positive attitude of bringing the culprit to justice. The Court has thus
considered justified the filing of complaints for rape months, even years, after the commission of the
offense.25

In the case at bar, the delay of more than two years is not an indication that the charges were
fabricated for complainant's reactions were consistent with reason. Her complete obedience to
appellant, her lack of struggle and the studied silence she kept about her ordeal were all brought
about by genuine fear posed by her own father against her.
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.26
Too, complainant repudiated the affidavit of desistance in open court by stating that no lawyer
assisted her when she affixed her signature27 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.30 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. 31
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.
The gravamen of the offense of rape is sexual congress with a woman by force and without
consent. If the woman is under 12 years of age, proof of force and consent becomes immaterial not
only because force is not an element of statutory rape, but the absence of a free consent is
presumed. Conviction will therefore lie, provided sexual intercourse is proven. But if the woman is 12
years of age or over at the time she was violated, sexual intercourse must be proven and also that it
was done through force, violence, intimidation or threat. 32
1wphi1

We have ruled that in incestuous rape of a minor, actual force or intimidation need not even be
employed where the overpowering moral influence of appellant, who is private complainant's father,
would suffice. The moral and physical dominion of the father is sufficient to cow the victim into
submission to his beastly desires.33 The instant case is no exception. Appellant took advantage of his
moral and physical ascendancy to unleash his lechery upon his daughter.
Hence, under the above circumstances, we affirm the trial court's conviction in Criminal Case Nos.
96-125 and 96-150 for the crimes of rape committed in September 1993 and on December 29, 1995.
However, we acquit appellant in Criminal Case No. 96-151 for the crime of attempted rape for failure
to allege in the complaint the specific acts constitutive of attempted rape.

The complaint for attempted rape in Criminal Case No. 96-151 is again quoted as follows:
That on or about the 1st day of January 1996, in the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, try and
attempt to rape one Maricar Dimaano y Victoria, thus 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.
CONTRARY TO LAW.34
For complaint or information to be sufficient, it must state the name of the accused; the designation
of the offense given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as constituting the
offense; the name of the offended party; the approximate time of the commission of the offense, and
the place wherein the offense was committed.35 What is controlling is not the title of the complaint,
nor the designation of the offense charged or the particular law or part thereof allegedly violated,
these being mere conclusions of law made by the prosecutor, but the description of the crime
charged and the particular facts therein recited.36 The acts or omissions complained of must be
alleged in such form as is sufficient to enable a person of common understanding to know what
offense is intended to be charged, and enable the court to pronounce proper judgment. No
information for a crime will be sufficient if it does not accurately and clearly allege the elements of
the crime charged. Every element of the offense must be stated in the information. What facts and
circumstances are necessary to be included therein must be determined by reference to the
definitions and essentials of the specified crimes. The requirement of alleging the elements of a
crime in the information is to inform the accused of the nature of the accusation against him so as to
enable him to suitably prepare his defense. The presumption is that the accused has no independent
knowledge of the facts that constitute the offense.37
Notably, the above-cited complaint upon which the appellant was arraigned does not allege specific
acts or omission constituting the elements of the crime of rape. Neither does it constitute sufficient
allegation of elements for crimes other than rape, i.e., Acts of Lasciviousness. The allegation therein
that the appellant 'tr[ied] and attempt[ed] to rape the complainant does not satisfy the test of
sufficiency of a complaint or information, but is merely a conclusion of law by the one who drafted
the complaint. This insufficiency therefore prevents this Court from rendering a judgment of
conviction; otherwise we would be violating the right of the appellant to be informed of the nature of
the accusation against him.
The trial court correctly imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua in Criminal Case No. 96-125 as
the rape was committed in September 1993 prior to the effectivity of R.A. No. 7659, otherwise known
as the Death Penalty Law, on December 31, 1993. Prior to R.A. No. 7659, Article 335 of the Revised
Penal Code imposes the penalty ofreclusion perpetua for the the crime of rape, when committed
against a woman who is under 12 years old or is demented. Anent the rape in Criminal Case No. 96150 which was committed on December 29, 1995, Article 335, as amended by R.A. No. 7659, thus
applies. It provides:
ART. 335. When and how rape is committed. - 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 or is demented.


The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of the
following attendant circumstances:
1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent,
ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil
degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.
In Criminal Case No. 96-150, appellant was correctly sentenced to death as the special qualifying
circumstances of minority and relationship were properly alleged in the information and proved
during trial by the testimonies of the complainant, her mother and the appellant himself; they were
also supported by the photocopy of the marriage certificate and birth certificate, respectively.
In the case of People v. Cayabyab,38 this Court, in affirming the death penalty, held that a photocopy
of the birth certificate is admissible to prove the age of the victim, as the original thereof is a public
record in the custody of a public officer. The admission of this secondary evidence is one of the
exceptions to the 'best evidence rule under Section 3, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence.
Further, we held that production of the original may be dispensed with, in the trial court's discretion,
whenever the opponent does not bona fide dispute the contents of the document and no other useful
purpose will be served by requiring its production.
Indubitably, the marriage and birth certificates are public records in the custody of the local civil
registrar who is a public officer. The presentation, therefore of their photocopies is admissible as
secondary evidence to prove their contents. It is also well to note that appellant did not dispute their
contents when offered as evidence to prove relationship and minority. Having failed to raise a valid
and timely objection against the presentation of this secondary evidence the same became a
primary evidence, and deemed admitted and the other party is bound thereby.39
Anent the awards of damages, the Court of Appeals correctly modified the awards of civil indemnity
and exemplary damages, which the trial court lumped together for all the crimes committed, by
separately awarding the sums of P50,000.0040 and P75,000.0041 as civil indemnity in Criminal Case
Nos. 96-125 and 96-150, respectively, and P25,000.0042 as exemplary damages, for each count of
rape, in line with the prevailing jurisprudence.
The award of civil indemnity, which is in the nature of actual or compensatory damages, is
mandatory upon a conviction for rape.43 On the other hand, exemplary damages is awarded when
the commission of the offense is attended by an aggravating circumstance, whether ordinary or
qualifying.44
Finally, the awards of P50,000.0045 and P75,000.0046 as moral damages in Criminal Case Nos. 96125 and 96-150, respectively, by the Court of Appeals are also sustained in line with the prevailing
jurisprudence. The award of moral damages is automatically granted in rape cases without need of
further proof other than the commission of the crime because it is assumed that a rape victim has
actually suffered moral injuries entitling her to such award. 47
WHEREFORE , the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.00263 affirming the decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City, Branch 257, in Criminal Cases Nos. 96-125 and 96150, finding appellant Edgardo Dimaano GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of rape

committed against his own daughter, Maricar Dimaano, and sentencing him to reclusion
perpetua and DEATH, respectively; and ordering him to pay the complainant in Criminal Case No.
96-125 the amounts of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity, P50,000.00 as moral damages, and
P25,000.00 as exemplary damages, and in Criminal Case No. 96-150 the amounts of 75,000.00 as
civil indemnity, P75,000.00 as moral damages, and P25,000.00 as exemplary damages,
is AFFIRMED. Appellant is however ACQUITTED for the crime of attempted rape in Criminal Case
No. 96-151 for failure of the complaint to allege the specific acts or omissions constituting the
offense.
SO ORDERED.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.
Chief Justice
REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Associate Justice

LEONARDO A. QUISUMBING
Associate Justice

CONSUELO YNARES-SANTIAGO
Associate Justice

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ
Associate Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

MA. ALICIA AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ


Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice

CONCHITA CARPIO-MORALES
Associate Justice

ROMEO J. CALLEJO, SR.


Associate Justice

ADOLFO S. AZCUNA
Associate Justice

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIO
Associate Justice

CANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate Justice

C E R TI F I C ATI O N
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the
above per curiam Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Court. The majority opinion, and the concurring or separate opinions supporting
the imposition of the death sentence, as well as the dissenting opinions are set out in full, or
otherwise adverted to, but without indicating the names of the Justices who penned the same. The
decision is signed by all the Members of the Court who actually participated in the deliberation in the
case and voted therein but does not indicate the vote cast by any Member, whether concurring in or
dissenting from the judgment, or both.
HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.
Chief Justice

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 131516. March 5, 2003]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


RULLEPA y GUINTO, accused-appellant.

vs. RONNIE

DECISION
CARPIO-MORALES, J.:

On complaint of Cyra May Francisco Buenafe, accused-appellant Ronnie


Rullepa y Guinto was charged with Rape before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Quezon City allegedly committed as follows:
That on or about the 17th day of November, 1995, in Quezon City, Philippines, the said
accused, by means of force and intimidation, to wit: by then and there willfully,
unlawfully and feloniously removing her panty, kissing her lips and vagina and
thereafter rubbing his penis and inserting the same to the inner portion of the vagina
of the undersigned complainant, 3 years of age, a minor, against her will and without
her consent.
[1]

Arraigned on January 15, 1996, accused-appellant pleaded not guilty.

[2]

From the testimonies of its witnesses, namely Cyra May, her mother
Gloria Francisco Buenafe, Dr. Cristina V. Preyra, and SPO4 Catherine Borda,
the prosecution established the following facts:
[3]

On November 20, 1995, as Gloria was about to set the table for dinner at
her house in Quezon City, Cyra May, then only three and a half years old, told
her, Mama, si kuya Ronnie lagay niya titi niya at sinaksak sa puwit at sa bibig
ko.
Kuya Ronnie is accused-appellant Ronnie Rullepa, the Buenafes house
boy, who was sometimes left with Cyra May at home.
Gloria asked Cyra May how many times accused-appellant did those
things to her, to which she answered many times. Pursuing, Gloria asked Cyra

May what else he did to her, and Cyra May indicated the room where
accused-appellant slept and pointed at his pillow.
As on the night of November 20, 1995 accused-appellant was out with
Glorias husband Col. Buenafe, she waited until their arrival at past 11:00
p.m. Gloria then sent accused-appellant out on an errand and informed her
husband about their daughters plaint. Buenafe thereupon talked to Cyra May
who repeated what she had earlier told her mother Gloria.
[4]

When accused-appellant returned, Buenafe and Gloria verified from him


whether what Cyra May had told them was true. Ronnie readily admitted
doing those things but only once, at 4:00 p.m. of November 17, 1995 or three
days earlier. Unable to contain her anger, Gloria slapped accused-appellant
several times.
Since it was already midnight, the spouses waited until the following
morning to bring accused-appellant to Camp Karingal where he admitted the
imputations against him, on account of which he was detained. Glorias sworn
statement was then taken.
[5]

[6]

Recalling what accused-appellant did to her, Cyra May declared at the


witness stand: Sinaksak nya ang titi sa pepe ko, sa puwit ko, at sa bunganga,
thus causing her pain and drawing her to cry. She added that accusedappellant did these to her twice in his bedroom.
Dr. Ma. Cristina V. Preyra, the Medico-Legal Officer and Chief of the
Biological Science Branch of the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory
who examined Crya May, came up with her report dated November 21, 1995,
containing the following findings and conclusions:
[7]

FINDINGS:
GENERAL AND EXTRA GENITAL:
Fairly developed, fairly nourished and coherent female child subject. Breasts are
undeveloped. Abdomen is flat and soft.
GENITAL:
There is absence of pubic hair. Labia majora are full, convex and coaptated
with congested and abraded labia minora presenting in between. On separating
the same is disclosed an abraded posterior fourchette and an elastic, fleshy type intact
hymen. External vaginal orifice does not admit the tip of the examining index finger.

xxx
CONCLUSION:
Subject is in virgin state physically.
There are no external signs of recent application of any form of trauma at
the time of examination. (Emphasis supplied.)
By Dr. Preyras explanation, the abrasions on the labia minora could have
been caused by friction with an object, perhaps an erect penis. She doubted if
riding on a bicycle had caused the injuries.
[8]

The defenses sole witness was accused-appellant, who was 28 and single
at the time he took the witness stand on June 9, 1997. He denied having
anything to do with the abrasions found in Cyra Mays genitalia, and claimed
that prior to the alleged incident, he used to be ordered to buy medicine for
Cyra May who had difficulty urinating. He further alleged that after he refused
to answer Glorias queries if her husband Buenafe, whom he usually
accompanied whenever he went out of the house, was womanizing, Gloria
would always find fault in him. He suggested that Gloria was behind the filing
of the complaint. Thus:
q- According to them you caused the abrasions found in her genital?
a- That is not true, sir.
q- If that is not true, what is the truth?
a- As I have mentioned earlier that before I started working with the family I was sent to
Crame to buy medicine for the daughter because she had difficulty in urinating.
q- Did you know why the child has difficulty in urinating?
a- No, I do not know, sir.
q- And how about the present complaint filed against you, the complaint filed by the
mother of the victim?
a- I did not do it, sir.
q- What is the truth, what can you say about this present complaint filed against you?
a- As I said Mrs. Buenafe got mad at me because after I explained to her that I was
going with her gusband (sic) to the children of the husband with a former marriage.
[9]

Finding for the prosecution, Branch 96 of the Quezon City RTC rendered
judgment, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered finding accused RONNIE


RULLEPA y GUINTO guilty beyond reasonable doubt of rape, and he is accordingly
sentenced to death.
The accused is ordered to pay CYRA MAE BUENAFE the amount of P40,000.00
as civil indemnity.
Costs to be paid by the accused. (Italics in the original.)
[10]

Hence, this automatic review, accused-appellant assigning the following


errors to the trial court:
I

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN CONSIDERING AS ADMISSIBLE IN


EVIDENCE THE ACCUSED-APPELLANTS ADMISSION.
II

THE COURT A QUO ERRED ON (sic) RULING THAT THE ACCUSEDAPPELLANTS SILENCE DURING TRIAL AMOUNTED TO AN IMPLIED
ADMISSION OF GUILT.
III

THE COURT A QUO ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE GUILT OF THE


ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME CHARGED HAS BEEN PROVEN
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
IV

THE COURT A QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN IMPOSING THE SUPREME


PENALTY OF DEATH UPON THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT. (Emphasis
supplied.)
[11]

Accused-appellant assails the crediting by the trial court, as the following


portion of its decision shows, of his admission to Gloria of having sexually
assaulted Cyra May:
In addition, the mother asserted that Rullepa had admitted Cyra Ma[y]s complaint
during the confrontation in the house. Indeed, according to the mother, the admission
was even expressly qualified by Rullepas insistence that he had committed the sexual
assault only once, specifying the time thereof as 4:00 pm of November 17, 1995. That

qualification proved that the admission was voluntary and true. An uncoerced and
truthful admission like this should be absolutely admissible and competent.
xxx
Remarkably, the admission was not denied by the accused during trial despite his
freedom to deny it if untrue. Hence, the admission became conclusive upon him.
(Emphasis supplied.)
[12]

To accused-appellant, the statements attributed to him are inadmissible


since they were made out of fear, having been elicited only after Cyra Mays
parents bullied and questioned him.He thus submits that it was error for the
trial court to take his failure to deny the statements during the trial as an
admission of guilt.
Accused-appellants submission does not persuade. The trial court
considered his admission merely as an additional ground to convince itself of
his culpability. Even if such admission, as well as the implication of his failure
to deny the same, were disregarded, the evidence suffices to establish his
guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
The plain, matter-of-fact manner by which Cyra May described her abuse
in the hands of her Kuya Ronnie is an eloquent testament to the truth of her
accusations. Thus she testified on direct examination:
q- Do you recall if Ronnie Rullepa did anything to you?
a- Yes, sir.
q- What did he do to you?
a- Sinaksak nya ang titi sa pepe ko, sa puwit ko, at sa bunganga
q- How many times did he do that to you?
a- Twice, sir.
xxx
q- Do you remember when he did these things to you?
a- Opo.
q- When was that?
a- When my mother was asleep, he put he removed my panty and inserted his penis
inside my vagina, my anus and my mouth, sir.
xxx
q- After your Kuya Ronnie did those things to you what did you feel?

a- Sabi nya ganito (Witness putting her finger in her lips) Nasaktan po ako at umiyak
po ako.
q- Did you cry because of hurt?
a- Yes.
q- What part of your body hurt?
a- Pepe ko po. When I went to the bathroom to urinate, I felt pain in my organ, sir.[13]

Cyra May reiterated her testimony during cross-examination, providing


more revolting details of her ordeal:
q- So, you said that Kuya Ronnie did something to you what did he do to you on
November 17, 1995?
a- Sinaksak nga yong titi nya. He inserted his penis to my organ and to my mouth, sir.
xxx
q- When you said that your kuya Ronnie inserted his penis into your organ, into your
mouth, and into your anus, would you describe what his penis?
a- It is a round object, sir.
C o u r t:
Is this titi of your kuya Ronnie a part of his body?
a- Opo.
q- Was that in the head of kuya Ronnie?
a- No, sir.
q- Which part of his body that titi located?
(Witness pointing to her groin area)
C o u r t:
Continue
xxx
q- Why were you in that room?
a- Gusto nya po matulog ako sa kuwarto niya.
q- When you were in that room, what did Kuya Ronnie do to you?
a- Hinubo po niya ang panty ko.
q- And after he remove your panty, what did Kuya Ronnie do, what did he do to you?
a- He inserted his penis to my organ, sir.
q- Why did kuya Ronnie, was kuya Ronnie already naked or he was already wearing
any clothing?
a- Still had his clothing on, sir.

q- So, where did his penis, saan lumabas ang penis ni Kuya Ronnie?
a- Dito po, (Witness referring or pointing to her groin area)
xxx
q- So, thats the and at the time, you did not cry and you did not shout for help?
a- Sabi nya po, not to make any noise because my mother might be roused from sleep.
q- How long was kuya Ronnie did that to you?
a- Matagal po.
q- After kuya Ronnie scrub his penis to your vagina, what other things did he do?
a- After that he inserted his penis to my mouth, and to my anus, sir.
q- You did not complain and you did not shout?
a- I cried, sir.[14]

Accused-appellant draws attention to the statement of Cyra May that he


was not in the house on November 17 (1995), as reflected in the following
transcript of her testimony:
q- Is it not a fact that you said a while ago that when your father leaves the house, he
[was] usually accompanied by your kuya Ronnie?
a- Opo.
q- Why is it that Kuya Ronnie was in the house when you father left the house at that
time, on November 17?
a- He was with Kuya Ronnie, sir.
q- So, it is not correct that kuya Ronnie did something to you because your kuya
Ronnie [was] always with your Papa?
a- Yes, sir.[15]

The above-quoted testimony of Cyra May does not indicate the time when
her father Col. Buenafe left their house on November 17, 1995 with accusedappellant and, thus, does not preclude accused-appellants commission of
rape on the same date. In any event, a young child is vulnerable to
suggestion, hence, her affirmative response to the defense counsels abovequoted leading questions.
As for the variance in the claim regarding when Gloria was informed of the
rape, Gloria having testified that she learned of it on November 20,
1995 while Cyra May said that immediately after the incident, she awakened
her mother who was in the adjacent room and reported it: This is a minor
matter that does not detract from Cyra Mays categorical, material testimony
that accused-appellant inserted his penis into her vagina.
[16]

[17]

Accused-appellant goes on to contend that Cyra May was coached, citing


the following portion of her testimony:
q- Yong sinabi mong sinira nya ang buhay mo, where did you get that phrase?
a- It was the word of my Mama, sir.[18]

On the contrary, the foregoing testimony indicates that Cyra May was really
narrating the truth, that of hearing her mother utter sinira niya ang buhay mo.
Accused-appellants suggestion that Cyra May merely imagined the things
of which he is accused, perhaps getting the idea from television programs, is
preposterous. It is true that the ordinary child is a great weaver of romances,
and her imagination may induce (her) to relate something she has heard or
read in a story as personal experience. But Cyra Mays account is hardly the
stuff of romance or fairy tales. Neither is it normal TV fare, if at all.
[19]

This Court cannot believe that a victim of Cyra Mays age could concoct a
tale of defloration, allow the examination of her private parts, and undergo the
expense, trouble, inconvenience, not to mention the trauma of public trial.
[20]

Besides, her testimony is corroborated by the findings of Dr. Preyra that


there were abrasions in her labia minora, which she opined, could have been
caused by friction with an erect penis.
This Court thus accords great weight to the following assessment of the
trial court regarding the competency and credibility of Cyra May as a witness:
Her very tender age notwithstanding, Cyra Ma(y) nonetheless appeared to possess the
necessary intelligence and perceptiveness sufficient to invest her with the competence
to testify about her experience. She might have been an impressionable child as all
others of her age are but her narration of Kuya Ronnies placing his titi in her pepe was
certainly one which could not be considered as a common childs tale. Her responses
during the examination of counsel and of the Court established her consciousness of
the distinction between good and bad, which rendered inconceivable for her to
describe a bad act of the accused unless it really happened to her. Needless to state,
she described the act of the accused as bad. Her demeanor as a witness manifested
during trial by her unhesitant, spontaneous, and plain responses to questions further
enhanced her claim to credit and trustworthiness. (Italics in the original.)
[21]

In a futile attempt at exculpation, accused-appellant claims that even


before the alleged incident Cyra May was already suffering from pain in
urinating. He surmises that she could have scratched herself which caused
the abrasions. Dr. Preyra, however, was quick to rule out this possibility. She
stated categorically that that part of the female organ is very sensitive and

rubbing or scratching it is painful. The abrasions could not, therefore, have


been self-inflicted.
[22]

That the Medical-Legal Officer found no external signs of recent


application of any form of trauma at the time of the examination does not
preclude accused-appellants conviction since the infliction of force is
immaterial in statutory rape.
[23]

More. That Cyra May suffered pain in her vagina but not in her anus
despite her testimony that accused-appellant inserted his penis in both orifices
does not diminish her credibility. It is possible that accused-appellants penis
failed to penetrate her anus as deeply as it did her vagina, the former being
more resistant to extreme forces than the latter.
Accused-appellants imputation of ill motive on the part of Gloria is
puerile. No mother in her right mind would subject her child to the humiliation,
disgrace and trauma attendant to a prosecution for rape if she were not
motivated solely by the desire to incarcerate the person responsible for the
childs defilement. Courts are seldom, if at all, convinced that a mother would
stoop so low as to subject her daughter to physical hardship and shame
concomitant to a rape prosecution just to assuage her own hurt feelings.
[24]

[25]

Alternatively, accused-appellant prays that he be held liable for acts of


lasciviousness instead of rape, apparently on the basis of the following
testimony of Cyra May, quoted verbatim, that he merely scrubbed his penis
against her vagina:
q- Is it not a fact that kuya Ronnie just made some scrubbed his penis into your
vagina?
a- Yes, sir.
q- And when he did not actually penetrated your vagina?
a- Yes, sir.[26]

Dr. Preya, however, found abrasions in the labia minora, which is directly
beneath the labia majora, proving that there was indeed penetration of the
vagina, not just a mere rubbing or scrubbing of the penis against its surface.
[27]

In fine, the crime committed by accused-appellant is not merely acts of


lasciviousness but statutory rape.
The two elements of statutory rape are (1) that the accused had carnal
knowledge of a woman, and (2) that the woman is below twelve years of age.
As shown in the previous discussion, the first element, carnal knowledge,
had been established beyond reasonable doubt. The same is true with
respect to the second element.
[28]

The victims age is relevant in rape cases since it may constitute


an element of the offense. Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as
amended by Republic Act No. 7659, provides:
[29]

Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. Rape is committed by having carnal
knowledge of a woman under any of the following circumstances:
x x x.
3. When the woman is under twelve years of age x x x.
x x x.
The crime of rape shall be punished by reclusion perpetua.
x x x.
Furthermore, the victims age may constitute a qualifying circumstance,
warranting the imposition of the death sentence. The same Article states:
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of rape is committed with any of
the following attendant circumstances:
1. when the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the offender is a parent,
ascendant, step-parent, guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity with the third
civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the victim.
x x x.
4. when the victim is x x x a child below seven (7) years old.
x x x.
Because of the seemingly conflicting decisions regarding the sufficiency of
evidence of the victims age in rape cases, this Court, in the recently decided
case of People v. Pruna, established a set of guidelines in appreciating age
as an element of the crime or as a qualifying circumstance, to wit:
[30]

1. The best evidence to prove the age of the offended party is an original or certified
true copy of the certificate of live birth of such party.

2. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, similar authentic documents such as


baptismal certificate and school records which show the date of birth of the victim
would suffice to prove age.
3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to have been lost or
destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the victims
mother or a member of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified
to testify on matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of the
offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be
sufficient under the following circumstances:
a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 7 years old;
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 12 years old;
c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to be proved
is that she is less than 18 years old.
4. In the absence of a certificate of live birth, authentic document, or the testimony of
the victims mother or relatives concerning the victims age, the complainants
testimony will suffice provided that it is expressly and clearly admitted by the
accused.
5. It is the prosecution that has the burden of proving the age of the offended
party. The failure of the accused to object to the testimonial evidence regarding age
shall not be taken against him.
6. The trial court should always make a categorical finding as to the age of the victim.
Applying the foregoing guidelines, this Court in the Pruna case held that
the therein accused-appellant could only be sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua since:
x x x no birth certificate or any similar authentic document, such as a baptismal
certificate of LIZETTE, was presented to prove her age. x x x.
x x x.
However, the Medico-Legal Report relied upon by the trial court does not in any way
prove the age of LIZETTE, for there is nothing therein which even mentions her

age. Only testimonial evidence was presented to establish LIZETTEs age. Her mother,
Jacqueline, testified (that the victim was three years old at the time of the commission
of the crime).
xxx
Likewise, LIZETTE testified on 20 November 1996, or almost two years after the
incident, that she was 5 years old. However, when the defense counsel asked her how
old she was on 3 January 1995, or at the time of the rape, she replied that she was 5
years old. Upon further question as to the date she was born, she could not answer.
For PRUNA to be convicted of rape in its qualified form and meted the supreme
penalty of death, it must be established with certainty that LIZETTE was below 7
years old at the time of the commission of the crime. It must be stressed that the
severity of the death penalty, especially its irreversible and final nature once carried
out, makes the decision-making process in capital offenses aptly subject to the most
exacting rules of procedure and evidence.
In view of the uncertainty of LIZETTEs exact age, corroborative evidence such as her
birth certificate, baptismal certificate or any other authentic document should be
introduced in evidence in order that the qualifying circumstance of below seven (7)
years old is appreciated against the appellant. The lack of objection on the part of the
defense as to her age did not excuse the prosecution from discharging its burden. That
the defense invoked LIZETTEs tender age for purposes of questioning her
competency to testify is not necessarily an admission that she was below 7 years of
age when PRUNA raped her on 3 January 1995. Such being the case, PRUNA cannot
be convicted of qualified rape, and hence the death penalty cannot be imposed on him.
However, conformably with no. 3 (b) of the foregoing guidelines, the testimony of
LIZETTEs mother that she was 3 years old at the time of the commission of the crime
is sufficient for purposes of holding PRUNA liable for statutory rape, or rape of a girl
below 12 years of age. Under the second paragraph of Article 335, as amended by
R.A. No. 7659, in relation to no. 3 of the first paragraph thereof, having carnal
knowledge of a woman under 12 years of age is punishable by reclusion
perpetua. Thus, the penalty to be imposed on PRUNA should be reclusion perpetua,
and not death penalty. (Italics in the original.)
Several cases suggest that courts may take judicial notice of the
appearance of the victim in determining her age. For example, the Court,
in People v. Tipay, qualified the ruling inPeople v. Javier, which required the
presentation of the birth certificate to prove the rape victims age, with the
following pronouncement:
[31]

[32]

[33]

This does not mean, however, that the presentation of the certificate of birth is at all
times necessary to prove minority. The minority of a victim of tender age who may be
below the age of ten is quite manifest and the court can take judicial notice
thereof. The crucial years pertain to the ages of fifteen to seventeen where minority
may seem to be dubitable due to ones physical appearance. In this situation, the
prosecution has the burden of proving with certainty the fact that the victim was under
18 years of age when the rape was committed in order to justify the imposition of the
death penalty under the above-cited provision. (Emphasis supplied.)
On the other hand, a handful of cases holds that courts, without the
requisite hearing prescribed by Section 3, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court,
cannot take judicial notice of the victims age.
[34]

[35]

Judicial notice signifies that there are certain facta probanda, or


propositions in a partys case, as to which he will not be required to offer
evidence; these will be taken for true by the tribunal without the need of
evidence. Judicial notice, however, is a phrase sometimes used in a loose
way to cover some other judicial action. Certain rules of Evidence, usually
known under other names, are frequently referred to in terms of judicial notice.
[36]

[37]

The process by which the trier of facts judges a persons age from his or
her appearance cannot be categorized as judicial notice. Judicial notice is
based upon convenience and expediency for it would certainly be superfluous,
inconvenient, and expensive both to parties and the court to require proof, in
the ordinary way, of facts which are already known to courts. As Tundag puts
it, it is the cognizance of certain facts which judges may properly take and act
on without proof because they already know them. Rule 129 of the Rules of
Court, where the provisions governing judicial notice are found, is entitled
What Need Not Be Proved. When the trier of facts observes the appearance
of a person to ascertain his or her age, he is not taking judicial notice of such
fact; rather, he is conducting an examination of the evidence, the evidence
being the appearance of the person. Such a process militates against the very
concept of judicial notice, the object of which is to do away with the
presentation of evidence.
[38]

This is not to say that the process is not sanctioned by the Rules of Court;
on the contrary, it does. A persons appearance, where relevant, is admissible
as object evidence, the same being addressed to the senses of the
court. Section 1, Rule 130 provides:

SECTION 1. Object as evidence. Objects as evidence are those addressed to the


senses of the court. When an object is relevant to the fact in issue, it may be exhibited
to, examined or viewed by the court.
To be sure, one author writes, this practice of inspection by the court of
objects, things or persons relevant to the fact in dispute, has its roots in
ancient judicial procedure. The author proceeds to quote from another
authority:
[39]

Nothing is older or commoner in the administration of law in all countries than the
submission to the senses of the tribunal itself, whether judge or jury, of objects which
furnish evidence. The view of the land by the jury, in real actions, of a wound by the
judge where mayhem was alleged, and of the person of one alleged to be an infant,
in order to fix his age, the inspection and comparison of seals, the examination of
writings, to determine whether they are ()blemished,() the implements with which a
crime was committed or of a person alleged, in a bastardy proceeding, to be the child
of another, are few illustrations of what may be found abundantly in our own legal
records and textbooks for seven centuries past. (Emphasis supplied.)
[40]

A persons appearance, as evidence of age (for example, of infancy, or of


being under the age of consent to intercourse), is usually regarded as
relevant; and, if so, the tribunal may properly observe the person brought
before it. Experience teaches that corporal appearances are approximately
an index of the age of their bearer, particularly for the marked extremes of old
age and youth. In every case such evidence should be accepted and weighed
for what it may be in each case worth. In particular, the outward
physical appearance of an alleged minor may be considered in judging
his age; a contrary rule would for such an inference be pedantically overcautious. Consequently, the jury or the court trying an issue of fact may be
allowed to judge the age of persons in court by observation of such persons.
The formal offer of the person as evidence is not necessary. The
examination and cross-examination of a party before the jury are equivalent to
exhibiting him before the jury and an offer of such person as an exhibit is
properly refused.
[41]

[42]

[43]

[44]

This Court itself has sanctioned the determination of an aliens age from
his appearance. In Braca v. Collector of Customs, this Court ruled that:
[45]

The customs authorities may also determine from the personal appearance of the
immigrant what his age is. The person of a Chinese alien seeking admission into the
Philippine Islands is evidence in an investigation by the board of special inquiry to
determine his right to enter; and such body may take into consideration his appearance

to determine or assist in determining his age and a finding that the applicant is not a
minor based upon such appearance is not without evidence to support it.
This Court has also implicitly recognized the same process in a criminal
case. Thus, in United States v. Agadas, this Court held:
[46]

Rosario Sabacahan testified that he was 17 years of age; that he had never purchased a
cedula; and that he was going to purchase a cedula the following january. Thereupon
the court asked this defendant these questions: You are a pretty big boy for
seventeen. Answer: I cannot tell exactly because I do not remember when I was born,
but 17 years is my guess. Court: If you are going to take advantage of that excuse, you
had better get some positive evidence to that effect. Answer: I do not remember, as I
already stated on what date and in what year I was born. The court, in determining the
question of the age of the defendant, Rosario Sabacahan, said:
The defendant, Rosario Sabacahan, testified that he thought that he was about 17
years of age, but judging by his appearance he is a youth 18 or 19 years old. He has
shown that he has no positive information on the subject and no effort was made by
the defense to prove the fact that he is entitled to the mitigating circumstance of article
9, paragraph 2, of the Penal code, which fact it is held to be incumbent upon the
defense to establish by satisfactory evidence in order to enable the court to give an
accused person the benefit of the mitigating circumstance.
In United States vs. Estavillo and Perez (10 Off. Gaz., 1984) Estavillo testified, when
the case was tried in the court below, that he then was only 16 years of age. There was
no other testimony in the record with reference to his age. But the trial judge said: The
accused Estavillo, notwithstanding his testimony giving his age as 16 years, is, as a
matter of fact, not less than 20. This court, in passing upon the age of Estavillo, held:
We presume that the trial court reached this conclusion with reference to the age of
Estavillo from the latters personal appearance. There is no proof in the record, as we
have said, which even tends to establish the assertion that this appellant understated
his age. * * * It is true that the trial court had an opportunity to note the personal
appearance of Estavillo for the purpose of determining his age, and by so doing
reached the conclusion that he was at least 20, just two years over 18. This appellant
testified that he was only 16, and this testimony stands uncontradicted. Taking into
consideration the marked difference in the penalties to be imposed upon that age, we
must, therefore, conclude (resolving all doubts in favor of the appellants) that the
appellants ages were 16 and 14 respectively.
While it is true that in the instant case Rosario testified that he was 17 years of age,
yet the trial court reached the conclusion, judging from the personal appearance of

Rosario, that he is a youth 18 or 19 years old. Applying the rule enunciated in the case
just cited, we must conclude that there exists a reasonable doubt, at least, with
reference to the question whether Rosario was, in fact 18 years of age at the time the
robbery was committed. This doubt must be resolved in favor of the defendant, and he
is, therefore, sentenced to six months of arresto mayor in lieu of six years ten months
and one day of presidio mayor.x x x.
There can be no question, therefore, as to the admissibility of a persons
appearance in determining his or her age. As to the weight to accord such
appearance, especially in rape cases, Pruna laid down guideline no. 3, which
is again reproduced hereunder:
3. If the certificate of live birth or authentic document is shown to have been lost or
destroyed or otherwise unavailable, the testimony, if clear and credible, of the victims
mother or a member of the family either by affinity or consanguinity who is qualified
to testify on matters respecting pedigree such as the exact age or date of birth of the
offended party pursuant to Section 40, Rule 130 of the Rules on Evidence shall be
sufficient under the following circumstances:
a. If the victim is alleged to be below 3 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 7 years old;
b. If the victim is alleged to be below 7 years of age and what is sought to be proved is
that she is less than 12 years old;
c. If the victim is alleged to be below 12 years of age and what is sought to be proved
is that she is less than 18 years old.
Under the above guideline, the testimony of a relative with respect to the
age of the victim is sufficient to constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt in
cases (a), (b) and (c) above. In such cases, the disparity between the
allegation and the proof of age is so great that the court can easily determine
from the appearance of the victim the veracity of the testimony. The
appearance corroborates the relatives testimony.
As the alleged age approaches the age sought to be proved, the persons
appearance, as object evidence of her age, loses probative value. Doubt as to
her true age becomes greater and, following Agadas, supra, such doubt must
be resolved in favor of the accused.
This is because in the era of modernism and rapid growth, the victims mere physical
appearance is not enough to gauge her exact age. For the extreme penalty of death to

be upheld, nothing but proof beyond reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to
constitute the crime must be substantiated. Verily, the minority of the victim should be
not only alleged but likewise proved with equal certainty and clearness as the crime
itself. Be it remembered that the proof of the victims age in the present case spells the
difference between life and death.
[47]

In the present case, the prosecution did not offer the victims certificate of
live birth or similar authentic documents in evidence. The victim and her
mother, however, testified that she was only three years old at the time of the
rape. Cyra Mays testimony goes:
q- Your name is Cyra Mae is that correct?
a- Yes, sir.
q- And you are 3 years old?
a- Yes, sir.[48]

That of her mother goes:


Q How old was your daughter when there things happened?
A 3 and years old.
Q When was she born?
A In Manila, May 10, 1992.[49]

Because of the vast disparity between the alleged age (three years old)
and the age sought to be proved (below twelve years), the trial court would
have had no difficulty ascertaining the victims age from her appearance. No
reasonable doubt, therefore, exists that the second element of statutory rape,
i.e., that the victim was below twelve years of age at the time of the
commission of the offense, is present.
Whether the victim was below seven years old, however, is another
matter. Here, reasonable doubt exists. A mature three and a half-year old can
easily be mistaken for an underdeveloped seven-year old. The appearance of
the victim, as object evidence, cannot be accorded much weight and,
following Pruna, the testimony of the mother is, by itself, insufficient.
As it has not been established with moral certainty that Cyra May was
below seven years old at the time of the commission of the offense, accusedappellant cannot be sentenced to suffer the death penalty. Only the penalty
of reclusion perpetua can be imposed upon him.
In line with settled jurisprudence, the civil indemnity awarded by the trial
court is increased to P50,000.00. In addition, Cyra May is entitled to an award
of moral damages in the amount of P50,000.00.
[50]

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,


Branch 96, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accused-appellant Ronnie
Rullepa y Guinto is found GUILTY of Statutory Rape, defined and punished by
Article 335 (3) of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and is sentenced to
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is ordered to pay private
complainant, Cyra May Buenafe y Francisco, the amount of P50,000.00 as
civil indemnity and P50,000.00 as moral damages.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban,
Quisumbing, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and
Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Ynares-Santiago, and Corona, JJ., on leave.