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Impeachment

People v. Castillano, Sr.


GR No. 139412
April 2, 2003

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

FACTS:
This is a case filed before the MTC, elevated to the RTC with regard to the death Of Diosdado
Volante (Volante) at the hands of Ronald Castillo (Ronald) and Jaime Castillano, Jr. (Jaime Jr.). Both
accused were convicted of the crime of murder.

The facts are as follows.

June 1996 Volante, had a wife named (Luz) and 4 children. He worked as a farmer in a
farmlad located in the outskirt of Sitio Danawan, Camarines Sur. 200m away from the farmland,
was the house of Jaime Castillano, Sr. (Jaime Sr.). Jaime Sr. had 2 sons named Jaime Jr. and Ronald.
Jaime Sr. was fond of shooting his gun. And due to his hobby, Diosdado confronted Jaime, Sr. A
heated altercation ensued and Jaime, Sr. fired his gun towards the house of Diosdado. After which
deep animosity germinated between the 2 men.

On July, 1996 – Levy Avila (Avila) a teacher was outside his house doing repairs when he
heard Jaime, Jr. and Ronald talking by the roadside planning to harm Diosdado. Avila tried to
persuade them to have an amicable settlement to settle their differences.

On the same night, Luz and Diosdado were about to retire, but were still awake. Luz heard
voices and saw Jaime, Sr. and his two sons approaching their house. Luz informed Diosdado, but
Diosdado said not to mind it. All of a sudden Jaime, Sr. fired his gun and his sons barged into the
house and assaulted Diosdado with multiple stabs and even shot him on the thigh. Luz was 5 meters
away from her husband; she hid with her baby, breastfeeding the baby at the same time, while they
were in the rice paddies. After the attack, the Castillos road away from their jeep and Luz returned
to her house to find her husband near death.

Luz immediately asked for help, ran to their neighbor Celendonio Espiritu (Espiritu), who
then rushed to the Bula Police Station to report the incident.

A team was assembled and comprised of the following who went to and investigated the scene of
the crime and brought the body of Diosdado to the police station. They surrendered the scabbard
and bolo they found as well as their findings of a gunshot in the house and that Diosdado’s body
was sprawled on the floor.
- SPO4 Jaime Javier
- SPO3 Jaime Bellano
- SP03 Nilo Fornillos
In the police station, Sgt. Rogelio Palacio (Sgt. Palacio) ordered for the manhunt of the
Malefactors. SPO4 Javier and SP03 Bellano along with Sgt. Palacio set up a checkpoint in the
boundary of Sto. Domingo. SP04 Javier haled multiple vehicles and one of them was that of the
Castillanos. They then brought the Castillanos to the police station for the killing of Diosdado. The
policemen then submitted their report.

In the meantime, Dr. Evangeline Consolacion (Dr. Consolacion), the Municipal Health
Officer of Bula, conducted an autopsy and found 2 incise wounds, 4 stab wounds, an amputated
middle 3rd finger, hacked wound posterior ankle, and a gunshot in the middle of the thigh. She then
stated her findings where death was due to Hypovolemia secondary to multiple stab wounds. She
then issued and signed the post-mortem certificate for death.

Edgardo Sambo (Sambo), Chief of police of Bula filed a complained for the murder of
Diosdado against the Castillanos before the MTC. Judge Francisco Tolentino (J. Tolentino)
conducted the preliminary examination and thereafter issued an order for the arrest against the
Castillanos. No bail was recommended for their provisional release. Later on Luz gave her sworn
statement to the police officers.

MTC issued a subpoena requiring the accused to submite their counter-affidavits to which
they did not do so.

On Aug, 1996, an information for murder was filed against Jaime, Sr., Jaime, Jr., and Ronald
before the RTC of Camarines Sur.

Defenses of the Accused:


- Ronald – admitted to killing Diosdado but did so in self-defense and in the defense of his
brother Jaime, Jr. when Diosdado allegedly ran towards them from the field with a bolo.
Ronald shot Diosdado 2x. 1 was successful while the other misfired. He then proceeded to
use the Bolo of Jaime, Jr. and killed Diosdado, then ran.
- Jaime, Jr. – Corroborated the story of Ronald, but testified that he did not see his brother
hack and kill Diosdado as he immediately ran away.
- Jose Del Socorro - corroborated the testimony of Ronald wherein he saw Diosdado flinging
mud at the house of the Castillanos and advised him to stop. He saw that Diosdado was
allegedly drunk.
- Concepcion Castillano (Wife of Jaime, Sr.) - corroborated that Diosdado was throwing
stones towards their house, and thus reported the same to the police.
- Jaime, Sr. – denied his involvement due to his poor condition due to his diabetes. He also
alleged that he instructed his sons to get a lawyer, who were then apprehended by the
police.
- Gilda Abes (GF of Jaime Jr.) – alleged that Diosdado was combative and drunk that time.

RTC rendered judgement convicting of Jaime, Jr. and Ronald of Murder qualified by evident
premeditation and treachery.
One of the issues interposed by the accused was that, his guilt was not proven beyond
reasonable doubt, as the Luz was inconsistent with her testimony during the preliminary
examination in the MTC and her sworn statement before the police investigators as well as her
testimonies of SP01 Fornillos and SPO4 Favier, and the evidence on Record.

ISSUE:
Whether the RTC was correct in admitting the testimony of Luz despite the inconsistencies.

HELD:
YES. the Office of the Solicitor General asserts that the credibility of the testimony of Luz,
the prosecutions principal witness, cannot be impeached via her testimony during the preliminary
examination before the municipal trial court nor by her sworn statement given to the police
investigators for the reason that the transcripts and sworn statement were neither marked and
offered in evidence by the appellants nor admitted in evidence by the trial court. Moreover, the
appellants did not confront Luz with her testimony during the preliminary examination and her
sworn statement to the police investigators. Luz was not, therefore, accorded a chance to explain
the purported inconsistencies, as mandated by Section 13, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Evidence
which reads:
How witness is impeached by evidence of inconsistent statement. - Before a witness can be
impeached by evidence that he has made at other times statements inconsistent with his present
testimony, the statements must be related to him, with the circumstances of the times and places and
the persons present, and he must be asked whether he made such statements, and if so, allowed to
explain them. If the statements be in writing they must be shown to the witness before any question is
put to him concerning them.

The Court agrees with the Office of the Solicitor General. Before the credibility of a witness and the
truthfulness of his testimony can be impeached by evidence consisting of his prior statements which
are inconsistent with his present testimony, the cross-examiner must lay the predicate or the
foundation for impeachment and thereby prevent an injustice to the witness being cross-examined.
The witness must be given a chance to recollect and to explain the apparent inconsistency between
his two statements and state the circumstances under which they were made. This Court held in
People v. Escosura that the statements of a witness prior to her present testimony cannot serve as
basis for impeaching her credibility unless her attention was directed to the inconsistencies or
discrepancies and she was given an opportunity to explain said inconsistencies. In a case where the
cross-examiner tries to impeach the credibility and truthfulness of a witness via her testimony
during a preliminary examination, this Court outlined the procedure in United States vs. Baluyot,[53]
thus:

...For instance, if the attorney for the accused had information that a certain witness, say
Pedro Gonzales, had made and signed a sworn statement before the fiscal materially different from
that given in his testimony before the court, it was incumbent upon the attorney when cross-
examining said witness to direct his attention to the discrepancy and to ask him if he did not make
such and such statement before the fiscal or if he did not there make a statement different from
that delivered in court. If the witness admits the making of such contradictory statement, the
accused has the benefit of the admission, while the witness has the opportunity to explain the
discrepancy, if he can. On the other hand, if the witness denies making any such contradictory
statement, the accused has the right to prove that the witness did make such statement; and if the
fiscal should refuse upon due notice to produce the document, secondary evidence of the contents
thereof would be admissible. This process of cross-examining a witness upon the point of prior
contradictory statements is called in the practice of the American courts laying a predicate for the
introduction of contradictory statements. It is almost universally accepted that unless a ground is
thus laid upon cross-examination, evidence of contradictory statements are not admissible to
impeach a witness; though undoubtedly the matter is to a large extent in the discretion of the court.

In this case, the appellants never confronted Luz with her testimony during the preliminary
examination and her sworn statement. She was not afforded any chance to explain any
discrepancies between her present testimony and her testimony during the preliminary
examination and her sworn statement. The appellants did not even mark and offer in evidence the
said transcript and sworn statement for the specific purpose of impeaching her credibility and her
present testimony. Unless so marked and offered in evidence and accepted by the trial court, said
transcript and sworn statement cannot be considered by the court.